Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

New Blog Location

Posted: February 13, 2016 in Uncategorized

I’ve posted this on my other site already, but thought I’d post it here too.

So, I’ve decided to move my blog back over to Blogger. So, this will be the new place to get my new updates.

Over the next few days, I’ll be moving all my older posts over here.

Plus I’ve joined all of my old personal blogs into this one place.

So, you can go back a few years and see my growth as a writer.

Thank you for your support.

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Dark Times With The Holy Spirit

Posted: February 12, 2016 in Uncategorized

Just a word of warning before I start this post. It might get a little dark and I may have told at least some of this story at some point in time. But I feel like I should share it again.

I just finished reading Francis Chan’s book Forgotten God. It’s a great book about the Holy Spirit.

While reading it I started remembering a certain time in my life and how, I now believe, the Holy Spirit gave me a vision that has helped keep me going all these years since then. I’ve also felt compelled to share this story here and now.

Most of you have probably heard me talk about my struggle with depression. Some might even say that I talk about it too much. But it has been one of the biggest defining this of my life so far, and I believe that God has called me to share what I’ve been through that it might help someone else.

The story I want to tell today starts on September 14th, 1999. I was in my freshman year at South Dakota State University. Most people don’t even know that I went there for a little while before going to MidAmerica Nazarene University.

I chose to go there for some not really good reasons.

I just wanted to get away from home and had heard that SDSU was a pretty good party school. I wanted to go there and be the stereotypical college kid in movies. I thought it would be parties and drinking and anything else I could get my hands onto.

But I got there and quickly found out that things aren’t always like the movies.

I was completely out of place.

Had no friends.

I found myself drowning in people and wanting to let myself drown.

I was already pretty low before going to SDSU, so I don’t want you to think that was the reason for my downward spiral. It just pushed me down even further.

For the first time I felt completely alone and helpless.

I didn’t want to go on anymore nor did I think that I could.

I didn’t feel like I could talk to anyone about any of this either. Which I can see now was probably mostly due to the depression isolating me more than nobody being there.

So, as I was laying in bed on Sept. 14th, I was listening to music loudly on my headphones, which was the only way I could get the voices in my head to be quiet long enough for me to go to sleep.

I looked up at the clock as it turned to midnight.

It was now the 15th.

My 19th birthday.

I didn’t feel like living anymore.

As I lay there crying in my bed as quietly as I could, so as not to disturb my roommate, whom I had only know for a couple weeks, two images flashed before my eyes.

Two images of me laying on the floor of my dorm room dead.

Not to get too graphic, but in one I had slit my wrists and the other my throat.

I lay there for a while just absorbing those images and still crying.

This next part is going to sound pretty corny, but it is truly the way it happened.

I had put the Bon Jovi CD Crossroad into my discman to listen to while trying to sleep.

While I was absorbing these images the song “Someday I’ll Be Saturday Night” came on.

It’s a song about being down but not out. That you may be in a bad place now, but someday you will be something bigger than what you are. I let you search for it if you want.

But as this song was playing it was like I heard a voice say, “I’m not done with you yet. Don’t give up. I’m here and I love you.”

I can’t say that my life completely changed in that moment. But I can tell you that those images have stuck with me over the last 16 years, and the voice that spoke to me that night has been with me the whole time.

The 3 months or so that I was at SDSU were some of the darkest of my life. But I wouldn’t trade them for anything.

I still feel down at times, and it’s hard to keep going some days.

But I know that God isn’t finished with me yet, and that He loves me and will never leave me.

And because of that, I keep going and try to spread my story to help other people know that they aren’t alone.

The Bible

Posted: February 11, 2016 in Uncategorized

A few weeks ago our Pastor Jason played this video for us as we started a series looking deeper at the Bible.

My first thought when the video started was that it looked remarkably like what you see in our country on Black Friday. These people obviously longed to have whatever was in those suitcases.

Then I realized that they were diving into this pile for Bibles in their language.

It made me realize just how much we as Western Christians take for granted having Bibles around. In fact I have a whole shelf of Bibles that I’ve collected over the years. But I can’t tell you the last time I actually opened one of them.

Part of this has to do with now having the Bible App on my phone and so I have the Bible with me every where I go.

But still, I’ve got a shelf full of Bibles that are just collecting dust, and there are people who would die to have just one in their language to read.

It also brought to mind a story for a few years back when I worked at Borders in Kansas.

A young man and woman walked up to me and asked politely if we had the Koran.

So I took them over to the religion section and showed him where the few that we kept in stock were.

I was amazed at what he did next.

He pulled one off the shelf and quietly said a prayer and kiss the cover of the Koran.

I stood there shocked for a moment, then after making sure he didn’t need more help I went back to whatever I was doing.

But I kept going over what I had just seen in my mind.

This man said a prayer and kiss the Koran before even opening it.

I don’t know that I’ve ever shown that kind of reverence towards the Bible.

It hurt me to think of this, because when I see how much others care about the Bible or the Koran, it just brings to light how little respect I show to the gift that God has given me.

Like most times I don’t really have any answers or ways to make this better.

But maybe now instead of just pulling the Bible up on my phone, I’ll actually take one off the shelf. Dust it off. Say a prayer that God would speak to me through His words. Open it up and read it.

Grace is one of my favorite topics to talk about.

Mainly because, without it, I am nothing.

Without God’s grace I would have fallen apart long ago.

As I was preparing to write this, the hymn”Grace Greater Than Our Sin” kept running through my head.

Here’s the chorus:

Grace, grace, God’s grace, Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;

Grace, grace, God’s grace, Grace that is greater than all our sin.

This is such a beautiful thing.

No matter what you’ve done in your life.

No matter where you’ve been, what you’ve seen, who you are, where you come from.

None of it matters anymore.

It can all be pardoned and cleansed by God’s infinite grace.

To top it off, it’s free!

I feel like shouting that last line.

This grace that can and will change your life, is free.

If that were not enough, there is absolutely nothing you could ever do to earn this love and grace.

The good news of God’s grace is that He longs to shower us with it.

As I was writing this, it occurred to me, that this never ending grace could and has been used to justify not changing your ways.

But I don’t think that the truth.

If you have truly excepted God’s grace in your life, you will find yourself changing over time. It probably won’t be overnight. We all wish it would be.

But you will notice over time that you are a completely different person if you truly allow God’s love and grace into your life.

So, take time to allow God’s grace to pour into your heart.

Than allow that grace to overflow onto those around you, that they might also see God’s grace in your life.

The man behind the monster

Posted: December 19, 2015 in Uncategorized

So, this may not seem like the normal topics that I talk about at first. But I think it will get there in the end.

As I’m sure all of you know, this Friday some little movie opened up called Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Now, I haven’t seen it yet, so don’t worry about any spoilers for Episode VII.

I was sitting at home Thursday night in the middle of the night while the whole nation, it seemed was out watching this movie, because my beautiful daughter has decided to switch her sleep schedule again.

While I was sitting there watching something, I realized that I owned all six of the other movies, I haven’t watched them in a very long time.

So, I set about the mission of watching all six of them in the course of the next 24 hours. Starting with Episode I and going through Episode VI.

I’ve never done this before.

Now on the other side of this marathon I can tell you I really think this is the best way to watch these movies.

A lot of you might argue that this is not the way to watch them. That you should only watch the original ones and forget about the newer, “inferior” ones.

I’ve probably always been in the minority on this, but I actually do like the newer ones. They’re not as great as the others, but they are still great movies that tell an amazing story.

I didn’t start this post to write out all of the reasons that I think they actually do work, so I won’t go into that here. Maybe another time.

While I was watching them though, I saw such an amazing parallel between Anakin’s story and Luke’s story.

They were both emotional and somewhat bratty teens, who through a series of unfortunate events have been handed some of the worst luck imaginable.

Through their journey the each are faced with the same choice.

Give in to their anger and emotions and join the Dark Side.

Or keep there emotions in check and choose to be a Jedi.

I believe this is a decision that almost all of us have faced at some time in our lives. I know for sure I have, and that I haven’t always chosen the right side.

The only real difference between father and son is that Luke chooses to believe and to not give in to the Dark Side.

Life is full of these choices, and we must be ready to choose the right side.

I thought that was going to be the overall theme for me coming out of watching all of these movies.

But than at the end of Episode VI, Vader asks Luke to take off his mask so he can, for once in his life look on his own son with his own eyes.

As the mask comes off, I realized that behind this “evil” man, was just a man.

When it came down to it, Vader choose to kill his mentor, not just because Luke was his son. But also, because Luke choose to see the human being behind the mask and believe that there was still some good in him.

It made me wonder, if we stopped looking at the mask of our enemies (the thing that we don’t agree with them about), and looked at the person behind it, would there still be such a thing as an enemy?

May the Force be with you.

Advent Week 3 – The Promise: Joy

Posted: December 14, 2015 in Uncategorized

This weeks sermon brought something to mind for me that I might have talked about before, but it’s been awhile, and it fits the point so I think I’ll use it again.

It also may not seem like I’m talking about joy for a little while, but I promise I’ll get there.

While I was in college I was in a pretty dark place.

My struggle with depression was at its worst and I was kind of floundering around with no real purpose in my life.

Looking back I can see clearly that God brought little pieces of light into my life even when I didn’t want to see them.

But during the summer after my freshman year, I was home and really feeling lost.

During this time, God spoke to me and showed me that I had let certain kinds of music way to deep into my heart and was allowing them to determine who I was, more than I was allowing God to shape me.

So, in one long marathon night of confession and repentance I went through all of my CDs and broke every one that God told me to.

During this whole thing, I remember several times feeling like I was throwing up, but nothing was coming up.

I realize this might sound strange, but it felt like demons were coming out of me as I was confessing the hold that things had on me.

It was after this that I truly felt the love of God take a true hold in my heart for probably the first time.

I finally felt the joy that God meant for me to feel.

In the 15 years since this happened I know that God has brought so much more joy than I could have ever thought possible.

There have also been dark times.

But I’ve come to believe that you can only know true joy by knowing true pain.

In the years since then, I’ve listened to some of that same music again.

For a while I was really hesitant to do it.

I tried to stay as far away from it as possible.

But I realized that it wasn’t so much the music that was bad, but more the position I let it have in my heart.

I had put this music as an idol in place of God and it only brought me pain and sadness.

Know I lift God up in my heart and listen to music for some enjoyment, and I know the true joy that God has for all of His creation.

As I was thinking about this weeks topic of purity, I was reminded that I haven’t always understood why God only wanted the pure animals for His sacrifices.

It seemed a little discriminating.

He didn’t want the blind, the deaf, the lame, or the broken.

For some reason this really bothered me.

How could a God that claims to love all of us just as we are only accept the perfect sacrifices?

But during the sermon yesterday, I realized, it’s not so much that God doesn’t want the imperfect, but more that He wants the best that we have.

If we only give Him what we have left, it will be a pitiful sacrifice.

He’s asked us to give Him the first fruits, the best of the best.

It’s more about our hearts than the actual sacrifice.

God also calls us to become more like Him and I believe that He does this by putting through the fire of this world.

As we follow Him and walk through the flames around us, God uses this to burn the impurities out of our lives.

I believe that God accepts us just as we are, with all our impurities and flaws.

But as we follow Him and go through the trials of this world, He perfects us in His image.

Pastor Jason talked yesterday about how metal workers would put the metal through the fire to burn away the impurities, so that when they looked at the metal they could see themselves.

I also believe that, as with any good art, when others look at it they will see a reflection of the artist.

I believe this is why God allows us to be try and tested.

So that after we make it through the fire, those around us will see a reflection of Him when they look at us.