Today is Saturday, it's actually the day squeezed between Good Friday and Easter. And tomorrow, Christians will gather all around the world and celebrate the resurrection of Jesus after his death and burial. Christians will celebrate in a number of ways tomorrow. Some might have pageants, some might take communion, and some might decorate crosses with freshly cut flowers. But to be completely honest, the last few years have been a bit hard for me to celebrate.
So with me saying that, let me explain myself.
First off, the reason I've had a hard time celebrating has nothing to do with the resurrection itself. I one-hundred percent believe in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I also fully believe that Jesus died to appease the wrath of God for all those who believe and put their faith in Him.
Now that we have that clear, let's move on. The problem that I have been working through the last few years is how we as Christians celebrate Easter. I feel like it has become more of a show than anything thing else. We have to have finely manicured church lawns. We have to have big elaborate music productions. Sermons have to be spot on with the right illustrations because it might be "our one chance". We have to dress ourselves and our kids to the nines. There also always seem to be a bit more energy in worship as well. A lot more than "just another Sunday". You may now see where I am heading.
As Christians, this is the day we celebrate what is at the heart of Christianity, Jesus and his resurrection. Without the resurrection, Jesus would have just been another man that walked the earth that came and died, just like everyone else. But instead, he led a life we can not lead and died a death we could not fulfill. He bore the wrath of God upon a cross. That is what we as Christians celebrate on Easter.
But, Easter happens every Sunday. Yep, you read that correctly. Easter happens every Sunday. Matter of fact, Easter happens every single day. Every single day there are people around the world that recognize for the first time that though Jesus they have eternal life. They recognize what the love of God actually means. It is their Easter. It is the day they believe in the resurrection. The day they are welcomed in to the Kingdom.
So what I'm saying is this. When we worship, let's worship, fully worship. Let's not half ass it. Whether you're on a kayak in the middle of some river admiring God's glory in the middle of the week. Whether you're in your car on a long or short drive. Whether you're in the middle of horrible circumstances. Whether you are gathered among a group of friends in community with one another. Or whether you are in worship as a body of believers, fully worship Christ and remember the resurrection and celebrate what He has done, every single day.
Well, it's been a while since my last post. I apologize, wait, no I don't. I said a while back I don't want to turn out blog post like they are going out of style and write useless garbage. Anyways, here we go....
This past Wednesday night, I had the opportunity to speak the Gospel to the youth and college groups of Alberta Baptist in Tuscaloosa. While doing my introduction on who I am, I told the kids that around the age of twenty-five, God took the braces off my legs and told me it's time to stand on your own, and make your faith your own. You may be asking yourself, make your faith your own? Yes, make your faith your own.
See a lot of times we let the people who are around us, shape our faith. Whether it's parents, grandparents, brother, sisters, or friends, our faith is attached to them, not the Being that makes us whole. Now, I'm not sitting here writing this preaching to you, because this was me.
The reason this is fresh on my mind is this, the past months I have interviewed at several different churches regarding open youth minister positions. One thing that I've said at all the interviews is I hope while in the youth group, I hope the kids go through a process of making their faith, their own. Why am I stressing this?
Well, working with youth and being the son of a youth minister and music minister, I've seen kids come in, look like they are doing all the right things, taking their faith by the horns and really realizing a true relationship with Christ. Then, they roll off to college and they get consumed in society and their so called faith is left hanging in the closet. They may show all the outward motions of what a Christian looks like, but on the inside they are in dire torment. Then later in life, we have something happen to us, then we go crawling back to our faith. Yep, this was me too.
See, I don't care how many people really read this. But what I do care about is for those that do and may be struggling with this, take your faith by the horns. Stand on your own two legs and truly see God. If that means leaving a church you've been at since a kid, or worshiping with your parents, plugging into a small group with no one you know, or not going to the popular church on your campus, do what YOU need to do to fully realize what a relationship with Christ looks like. If you really don't know what to do, go to a minister you have a close relationship with. That's what they are there for...guidance and ministering.
In 1998, my parents bought a new house. Shortly after buying the house, my dad bought my mother an early Christmas present. That present, a dog. My father went by the pet-smart off vallydale and found this Bassett/golden retriever mix named Molly. So, the family needed to approve and we all loaded up on that Friday night and we went down to check this year old pup out. There was no doubt we fell in love and there was no doubt she did either. As my mom walked Molly around the store, Molly put her nose to the floor, sniffed around, and found my brother and myself. She had secured herself a home. She then squatted down and left her mark in pet-smart.
However, Molly was already house trained from her previous owner and had no problem finding the back door to our home once she joined our family. She was a short dog with a long body and floppy ears due to her Bassett traits but she had the heart of a golden. She loved to run around the backyard in circles and yes, even chased her tail from time to time.
Molly was the first dog we had ever owned that was primarily an inside dog. She loved to be pet. She'd walk over to you, find your forearm or hand and throw that cold nose to it until you would pet her. If she could, she would have sat there for days like that. The only bad habit she had was she loved to dig through the trash. She did it a quite bit more when she was younger, but that's something very easy to let slide. The one thing I could tell Molly hated most of all, was overnight stays at the vet. When the family would go on vacation, she'd end up there for a few days. But, we always tried to make it back in time to grab her so she would always be at home when we were. However, she did get to go to Destin with us one year and I'm pretty sure she loved it. Well maybe all except the travel part.
Molly was a loyal dog. A story that always sticks out to me was in 2000, my parents came home one night after a football game and guess who greeted them in the front yard, yep, Molly! Someone had opened the gate to our fence and Molly had wondered out, but just to explore our front yard. So after that, she earned the privilege of going into the front yard with no leash. Molly loved going just to the left of the house and rolling around on her back in the Bermuda grass. Then we'd have to bribe her in with treats. Her little game with us I think.
Molly had three favorite spots in the house. One, her bed. She loved laying on it and laying her head flat on the hardwood floor. Second would be the rug at the end of my parents bed. And lastly would be in the den right beside the couch. Now outside she had about the same number of spots. One was over on the left side of the deck in the sun, second was by the house next to the den window, and lastly the front corner of the backyard under a blueberry tree. Yes, she would sometimes have a bluish tint because of this. I always loved when I came home and she was outside in the backyard. She would be at the gate barking and I'd look around the corner of the house throw my head to the left and she'd take off. Where would she take off to? Well she'd be waiting for me at the backdoor for me to let her in, and I always would.
I'm pretty sure I could go for days telling stories about her. And Molly was a great dog, really the perfect dog in my opinion. She slowed down in her latter years but all she wanted to do was be loved and that was not hard to do. I'm glad my pops found her back in 1998. I truly love her and will miss her everyday.
Over the past few years, I've been noticing a a change. A change in me. Yet at times, I kept running from this change I was feeling. To be honest, I have no idea why I was running because the very thing I was running from was something that I knew since 6th grade.
For the past 4 years, I have wanted to pursue a career in MLB. Mainly somewhere in the front office and at some point be in a position to call the shots. Well if you notice, I wrote I have wanted. So I went back to school at Alabama pursuing a degree in Economics and a minor in Computer Science. But during the past year, I was feeling that this track was not where I would end up. However, during the spring I applied for many internships with-in MLB and also one with the PGA. Nothing developed from those applications. To be honest, I'm glad they didn't. I didn't need another distraction.
See, over the past few years, God has been working on me. He has slowly been revealing his plan for me. But to be honest, his plan was revealed to me in 6th grade, but I attached myself to things that were shinier to me. But the thing that was revealed to me in 6th grade and re-revealed to me the past few years was a calling in to ministry, specifically student ministry.
I've had issues of making decisions off the hip a lot in life. So, while making this one, I stayed focused on His word and also sought advice from many who had made this decision before me. I walked away from all those conversations with a lot to think about, yet so much confirmation of this calling. I'm really really excited to see what's next and continue this journey. I have decided to stay on the track I'm on at school and then head to seminary. Which one? I'm not sure. Currently starting to look and see where God is leading.
What I ask of you. Pray that I will continue to seek God's will and He will lead me in each decision along the way.
In life, we have this picture of what our life is supposed to look like. We have these ideas of what we should own, what we should do for a living, and the order it should all take place. We're supposed to set up priorities to keep us in check, and in my life, that was the one thing I over looked. I over looked the placement of these priorities.
From age 19-25 my priorities were very much out of whack. My ambitions were in my socioeconomic status and not based in my faith. I've been a Christian since the age of 7. I knew where I should place my priorities, but due to a lack of positive Christian influences and my own discipline, I placed my priorities else where. So during the years I mentioned above, I accumulated money, stuff, and friends that fueled these worldly desires. In my mind I had everything, I had the money, I had the truck, I had the lifestyle, but really I had nothing other than stuff that didn't matter.
After a long 2005, I decided to examine my life and where I stood. It wasn't until late 2009 that I realized my faith was not as strong as it needed to be and I had let worldly ambitions trump my faith. Even though I was going to church, volunteering, and in Bible study, I was still just going through the motions. This journey that I have been on over the past few years continues as I write this. I now know what is of most important to me, and where my priorities should be placed.
Looking back, those years where I was chasing worldly desires were some of the most empty times of my life. And now I might not have all the things that this world seems to judge us by, but I know where my desires are fueled from and very happy that my priorities are in place.
Just in case your wondering my priorities: 1. God(church) 2. Family and Friends 3. School 4. Work
Well over the next 12 or so hours, tropical depression Bonnie is suppose to roll over the Florida Keys. Why do I care that it's rolling over the keys? Well mainly because, that's where I am right now. Is it a big deal, no. I've been through storms much worse than what I'll see the next few hours. However, it's sad to watch mother nature tear something a part. Something someone took time to make, or build is destroyed in a matter of minutes. But at the same time, it's beautiful to watch something fight to stay together. At times it may look like it won't make it, but it does. It comes out of the storm beaten up, but it made it. It can be made new again because it weathered the storm...