…until we can finally stand & proclaim the joy of getting it right.
If you know me in any capacity, you know that I love kids. As a matter of fact, kids aged 1½ to about 8 years old may be my favorite demographic of human being on the face of the planet. They teach me so much about living life to the full and having fun and laughing a lot and being an adventurer.
One of the highlights of November was going to watch my pal Jett at his first soccer skills showcase (try saying that 10 times fast…). While it obviously wasn’t the best soccer I had ever seen, it was unbelievably incredible to see how much he lit up when Drew, Marissa, and myself all showed up just to watch him! (It was also incredible to watch his mom play goalie against his dad and hope that he didn’t kick her in the face and also hope that she didn’t beat him up for kicking her in the face).
There were a few other things that happened in November, as well:
-The Aggies’ football program spontaneously combusted.
-I’ve begun to practice the art of task delegation. Which means I get to actually equip and train people in areas instead of doing jobs myself.
-I turned 22.
-My niece, Zoey (check out the #zoeywatch on Instagram, if you’d like) who is three years old will finally snuggle with me for more than ten seconds.
This month has been far lighter than the last couple months and I am so incredible thankful for that. In my last blog, I wrote about how the Lord was growing me in emotional health and that has absolutely continued. But it has been wonderful to live in the kind of freedom that is offered by living in the light. I’m learning how to communicate with my co-workers, friends, and girlfriend better and better. I’m learning that I don’t have to hold in my emotions or how I’m feeling and that it is OK to externally process the good and the bad with my people. However, this month has not been quite as much of a punch in the face as last month was (praise the Lord).
The Lord has also been growing me in thankfulness. Maybe it’s just the season, or maybe I’m just growing up, but I wake up most mornings more thankful than the day before. Thankful for my breath, thankful for the ability to move and walk and run and lift things, thankful for people that care, thankful for means of transportation, and ultimately thankful for the fact that Jesus came and took my place, lived a life I had no shot at living and died a death I absolutely deserved. And Jesus did all of this so that I could live with the Father forever? Dang. That thought breeds thankfulness.
It’s been a good month and I’m thankful for the breath of fresh-air with which the Lord has gifted me in this season. BRING ON THE HOLIDAYS!
I woke up this morning and felt like being creative. So I formulated some thoughts on today’s election and decided to put them in a poem. My hope isn’t found in who sits in the White House in January. My hope is in the King of kings that was in full control over Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar, Xerxes, Caesar, James, and is still in full control over world leaders today. So, my hope gets to be unwavering and I hope that your hope does too.
It’s not about you and it’s not about me.
It’s not about the “system” to which we cling.
It’s not about the firsts that are on the brink.
It’s not up to us anyway.
It’s not about the red, about the black, white, or blue.
It’s not about the information we’re fed on the news.
It’s not about the Millennials, Gen X, or Baby Boom.
It’s not about us and it never has been.
We’ve lived for so long thinking we call the shots;
that the elected representatives are the ultimate crux.
We think we are gods and that God should serve us
and keep us so safe and secure how we want.
This illusion of power of which we’re convinced
has never been real, we’re just wrong once again.
We’ve put all our faith in some liars and cheats
and forget that the King’s in control of all things.
The King’s still on His throne and is over all things.
I can’t even believe it is already November. I feel like October would’ve been nearly non-existent had the LORD not totally began to demolish a bunch of the walls I’ve been building up in my heart and soul for the past five years. This past month has been a lot more emotionally taxing than physically taxing (as September was).
We as a church staff have started reading a book together and spending a good chunk of our staff meeting processing through it together. The book is called “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality” by Peter Scazzero. This book has been a consistent kick in the teeth for the past few weeks. Here’s a few things the Lord has been revealing to me about myself (some of which I may write about as the month goes on, but this isn’t the time to go in to detail about all of this).
- I am not good at submitting to leadership.
- I am not even close to as humble as I thought.
- I am afraid of being known because really anyone who has truly known me in the past has pretty much dropped me at some point (with a few exceptions).
- This has led to me choosing to live in the dark on a lot of stuff and let me tell you, I wish everyone would live in the light. It is far healthier and far more bearable and joyful of a life. It far more closely reflects the life Jesus describes in John 10:10.
- I have an inherent lack of trust for people within the Church.
- I also generally have unrealistic expectations of people in the church, I think.
- Love doesn’t hinge on clarity and clarity doesn’t bring forgiveness.
- Love breeds forgiveness regardless of clarity.
And in the midst of all of this demolition of my synthetic inner walls, I’ve realized this as well: I am far less important than I thought I was, but I am far more loved and cared for than I could ever imagine.
I’ve had so many conversations in the past two weeks of repentance and forgiveness. Not because I am fully healed from things that have happened or the lies people have fed me or the abandonment that I’ve faced from people who have used me. No. Those things still hurt. But what’s different now is that I’m not pouring the salt of bitterness and resentment into those wounds while the Lord is trying to bind up my broken heart and heal my wounds. Now I get to sit and be taken care of by the Lord and by my friends and I don’t feel resentment anymore. I can sit and be bandaged and not rip the bandage off to pour in more dirt and salt. My wounds aren’t infected anymore and that is the first step of being emotionally and spiritually healthy.
Please don’t get me wrong, it has been really terrible and exhausting for the Lord to come in like a bull in a china shop and demolish all of my walls. But it has also been so good because I’ve gotten to taste, see, and feel the goodness of God the Father because while he’s come in swinging, he sits there with me while HE builds everything back up and speaks life and speaks identity over me.
“You’re my son.” He says. “Of course I’d fight off all of these lies that have surrounded you.”
October was crazy and tiring, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.
Well. I’m officially one month into my Residency program at Declaration Church in Bryan, Texas. And let me just say, it was nothing short of exciting! I want to just highlight a few of things to give you the gist of my first month.
- Not only did I reach my financial goal for my year of residency, but the Lord exceeded my goal and He did it through the most unexpected of means!! A HUGE thank you to all of you that are supporting me financially. I obviously could not be doing it had you not been obedient to where the Lord was asking you to give. I so appreciate you.
- We had an overflow room! (kinda…). The first three weeks were absolutely crazy and our seating capacity was beyond maxed out. So, to counteract this so people could come and sit and hear and respond to the Gospel, we worked our tails off to create an overflow space in the back of the building.
- We have interns and they are freaking stellar at their jobs! One of them is specifically our worship intern and he has been an unbelievable asset by helping me shepherd our band members and auditioning new instruments and singers and helping me cast our vision for our worship ministry. It has allowed me to breath a little more. And then our other intern is specifically focused on production. He has been so key in helping me drive up the quality of our worship services so that our excellence will point people to the excellence that is the person of Jesus.
- We had baptism service on the 25th and it was SO INCREDIBLE. Kids were getting baptized, students were getting baptized, adults were getting baptized. The Gospel is advancing in Bryan/College Station and the trajectories of people’s lives and their family’s lives are beginning to radically change!
The bulk of the past month has involved learning that I can’t do everything. And even if I somehow could do everything, I shouldn’t; because then others can’t have a stake in the kingdom advancing.
I’ve learned a lot about delegation and leadership of leaders.
I’ve been starting to learn again that I don’t always have the most important thing to say and that my opinion isn’t always the best one.
I’ve gotten to have incredible Gospel-centric conversations with kids and with students and with adults.
The Lord has been super gracious and kind as He always is and I’ve been growing more and more thankful for all of the gifts He’s lavished on me.
I learned a lot in college (I think…); but to me, college became a space where I finally learned to love learning. This love for learning led to so many life lessons, because I didn’t just want to be a better student in my classes; I wanted to learn how to be a better human. I wanted to learn how to be a higher quality man. I wanted to learn what it really looks like to be an adopted son. And I wanted to learn how to make people feel noticed and valued.
Well, at least I scratched the surface a little bit, right?
In hindsight, the last three years have been a freaking whirlwind. Dickens was right, it really was the best of times and it was the worst of times (he was talking about college, right?).
To sum college up, I never wanted to come to A&M, but I came anyways. I made a lot of really stellar friends. I pushed all of those friends away because dating seemed way cooler than friends at the time (a-whoops). I lived with guys that I didn’t gel with at all. I almost quit on College Station and moved to Nashville. Spoiler: I ended up not moving to Nashville. Then, I made some of the best friends I’ve ever known.
I got connected with a few super incredible families that treated me as if we shared blood.
I went on a crazy, 7-week road trip.
I started an unbelievably awesome job with co-workers that are more fantastic than I could even ever explain to you.
There has been losses and gains of friends and community and houses and rats (long story). But in all of it — the really crappy and the really wonderful — there was the Lord. And he wasn’t just there, but he was the one brainstorming, planning, strategizing, and executing the adventure with absolutely no help at all from me, because I don’t have the attention span to help him plan something super awesome, crazy, fun, and growing.
All that to say, I came into college thinking I knew quite a lot about how to live life both on my own and with people. I now know that I knew very very little, if anything at all, about anything at all. I don’t mean any of this to be self-deprecating; it drives me crazy when people pull that. I mean all of this to say that I’ve learned that I have more than a lot of room to grow in humility. But I know that growth has happened and is happening because of something that C.S. Lewis said,
“If anyone would like to acquire humility, I can, I think, tell him the first step. The first step is to realize that one is proud.”
It’s comforting to me that I’ve gained the self-awareness over the last few years to assess myself as being depraved. If I weren’t depraved, then Jesus would not have died in my place to make me an eternal heir to the Kingdom of Heaven, for he would not have needed to do so.
“I am far less important than I thought; but I am far more valued than I thought.”
These words have been stuck in my head like duct tape for the past couple of weeks as I’ve reflected on the past few years. I think it was so important for me to realize that I am not irreplaceable in any way, shape, or form. I am not the only one who can do my job or be a friend to those around me. People are not dependent on my presence for joy and satisfaction in life. But here’s the deal, even though I am not as important and irreplaceable as I thought I was three years ago, I am far more valued than I thought I was three years ago. Far more valued by the Lord; far more valued by my friends; far more valued by my co-workers.
In short, the biggest thing I learned in college is that life is not about me.
Well friends, we did it. We really did it.
I could probably post about seventeen blogs about the last three years that I spent in college, but instead why don’t we just celebrate that we’re finished?
This is a blog mainly focused on catching you up on what’s coming up next in my life.
- I’m graduated from Texas A&M University – College Station with a degree concentrated in Leadership Development and two minors: Business and Psychology.
That may sound like a lot, but the program through which I accomplished my degree has a set-up conducive to having three areas of study. For those of you that are trying to do quick math in your head, yes I did graduate early. Most people ask me why I decided to graduate early and the answer is really super simple: no more student loans, please!
2. I’m staying in Bryan/College Station for at least the next year.
For the past year I have been working as an intern for a newer church here in Bryan/College Station. My roles have included anything from setting up/stacking chairs, standing and directing traffic in a burning hot or freezing cold parking lot, teaching kids about the person and works of Jesus, playing in the worship band, running slides, getting coolers for after-church parties, and everything else operational that you could possibly think of. I lived the intern life real hard. However, this summer I have transitioned into a more specific role(s) (though still moderately general).
The majority of my job will involve wearing three hats. The first hat is in the role of Executive Assistant to our Lead Teaching Pastor. The main thing this entails is scheduling and helping him with administrative tasks so that he can be freed up to think about our vision and direction as a church and plan for sermons and shepherd our people really well. The second hat is an oversight role over all of our worship and production. This hat entails shepherding our band and production (slides/sound) volunteers, coordinating setlists and music with our worship leaders, and fighting for the most effective and efficient services on Sundays (in terms of operations). The third hat I wear entails oversight of all of our social media and graphic design. This mainly involves making graphics and keeping announcement slides updated (or delegating graphic design to one of the awesome designers in our congregation).
I love doing all of these things and more, don’t get me wrong. But my absolute favorite part of my job hands down is the fact that I get to be the team leader for the best parking team in the land. I could write an entire blog on how incredible my parking team is, but I’ll only brag on them briefly. They are part of what make Sundays doable for me. They are the bomb.
3. In order to do all of this, I have been given the opportunity to raise support.
I legitimately mean it, too — it is a fantastic opportunity, because I have gotten to totally brag on the LORD for what He’s doing in Bryan/College Station numerous times and it absolutely pumps me up each time I get to talk about it. My salary for the next year is 100% fundraised. What this means is that unless I have a group of people around me that buy in to my vision and/or the vision of Declaration Church, I do not get to work for DC full-time.
As of right now, I currently need $3,142 more in order to meet my goal. (That is $261.83/month if you’d like to think about it that way). If this is something in which you’d like to partner with me or at least hear more about, I’d love to talk more about it with you. I’ve attached a link at the bottom of this blog that takes you to a page with more information and where you can give if you feel so inclined! Don’t feel pressured, but do know that I would absolutely love to have you on my team going forward!
*above is a picture of the church staff and wives and the couple that hosted our last staff retreat. We’ve lost a couple of them to other jobs and other cities but the majority of them are still around!
In short, I never thought I would finish college in three years. I never thought I would stay here. I never thought I would love this little city called Bryan, Texas so much. I never thought I would be support raised. I never thought I would have people here for whom I would do anything. I never thought some of my best friends would be under the age of 10 (lots of babysitting).
The LORD has blown up any kind of expectation I had for my life post-graduation and I couldn’t be happier to be part of the church planting movement here in the South-Central United States.
If you’d like to hear more about what I’m doing or more about Declaration Church, please don’t hesitate to ask! My email is firstname.lastname@example.org and I’d love to answer any question that I can. The following link goes to a page that has more information about my Residency Program.
Whether you believe that Jesus is the Son of God or not, you probably are down with the fact that he commanded the crowds to love their neighbors as they love themselves. It’s a seemingly simple command that any truly rational person can get behind.
Love your neighbor as yourself.
So why can’t we seem to do it?
Why is it that Whites hate Blacks and Blacks hate Whites and Latinos and Asians seem to be going unnoticed in the fray of the crap shoot that is our world? Why are police officers being shot and militaries starting coups against their leaders? Why do women still feel unheard and uncared for? And on a whole other level, why are there still Black churches and White churches?
It doesn’t quite seem like we’ve figured out what it means to love our neighbors, does it?
So if we have not figured it out, then what could it possibly mean to love our neighbors? Well, I’m glad you asked, because that’s the exact question I’m trying to answer.
Before I start typing out what I have figured out, let me clarify that I have merely thought about this. Putting it to practice is obviously much harder than it seems, but I feel like if we can practice together and fail together and succeed together, then success will be all the greater.
Here is the primary example I will use of someone loving their neighbor: Paul telling the church in Rome that if he could lose his salvation for the sake of the Jews gaining their salvation, he would do it.
Did you catch that? Paul says that if he could GIVE HIS SALVATION AWAY for the sake of other people, then he would do it. What?
The mixture of salvation and adoption is the ultimate freedom that any human can experience, and Paul would take slavery to sin in order for his people to have eternal life (if that’s how it worked). Would you consider that neighbor loving or nah?
Friends, do you know what it would mean for us to start loving our neighbor? Let me give a few yes or no scenarios:
- Would you be willing to give up your American freedom so that someone else could have it?
- Would you would be willing to let a lower-class person of a different ethnicity take your place and your freedom? Even for two-weeks?
- Would you would be willing to trade places with a Syrian refugee so that they could taste and know the freedom you never have to worry about losing?
Chances are good that we would answer “no” to every single one of those scenarios. At best, we would hesitate. Do we not realize how unbelievably selfish this is to not wish and yearn for the freedom of others?
Loving your neighbor means listening to and confirming your neighbor when they tell you that their lives matter.
Loving your neighbor means sympathizing and mourning with your neighbor when tragedy strikes.
Loving your neighbor means celebrating with your neighbor when it’s time to celebrate.
But people, loving your neighbor is far greater than any action. Loving your neighbor means fighting for their freedom physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually.
I think we are genuinely afraid to love our neighbor because “what if I fail”? Well, failure is inevitable and it’s what we’ve been doing for the past who-even-knows how many years. So, why don’t we at least try and test the waters? Who knows, maybe loving our neighbor is what will truly make the world better.
Here’s a fun feel-good song that’ll be stuck in your head all day long: