christianity

the broken parts…

Silence and Chaos, Abandon, Brokenness, Beauty, Tennessee, Christian Bloggers, Christianity,, Life, God, Photography, Moody photographyIf we were going to all agree on something–I think it would be safe to say that we are all human. We are all full of flaws and have things about ourselves that we wish we could fix, that we wish could be different, like someone else. We would agree that there are pieces of us that we don’t want other people to see, our broken parts, our battered and neglected pieces that keep us afraid from letting in the light.

We find comfort in darkness and we take pleasure in people only being able to see the bits and pieces that allow us to appear as though we have it all together. From those dark places we judge and criticize others for not appearing as cool as we’d like to portray ourselves. I’m guilty of this  daily but are you willing to admit that you’re guilty of this too? I’m not here to convict you only to help you become aware of just how human you really are.

I grew up in a Christian family and somewhat Christian environment and I say that with hesitation, because looking back I see that there were so many things taking place that God would never stand for. I’m wiser now and have obtained more knowledge as to what the love of God is–and how he wants us to live for HIM, and what that should look like from day to day. This portrait reminds me of all that brokenness I  harbor inside of me, all of the fragments, torn bits and pieces that I try to hide from you on a weekly basis. Those pieces that I’m trying to reveal through this blog and by taking baby steps in my daily life.

I sit with coffee in my hand, or in silence in my car and sometimes I stare at the ceiling why I lie in bed and think of my life. I think of what it may look like to other people through my words, actions and behaviors and if that portrayal is true. And if I had to be honest, I’d say it probably doesn’t. Sometimes I want to break a plate on the ground, take a photo and post it to Instagram with the caption. “today, was a shitty day and i want a do over.” But I resist because cursing isn’t of my nature and my pastor says that bitter & sweet don’t come from the same place. But that doesn’t change the fact that the broken plate I didn’t photograph is still the way I felt.

I want to talk with God, you know, literally talk to God in a one on one setting. I want to inquire as to why I have so many broken parts? Why can’t I just be the person he wants me to be without the trial and error? How come I can’t refuse the urge to curse, be negative and cynical every time I feel overwhelmed? I want to know why I struggle with addiction? Why can’t my father and I have an authentic relationship? Why does my mother feel the need to lean on me for support when I feel as though I have nothing left to give? Why can’t marriage be like the Hallmark movies? Why are we so hard to satisfy as people? Why is good never good enough?

Maybe, you have some questions for God burning in your heart? I’d love to hear what they are and how are you currently dealing with the broken pieces of you?

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I want to be yours…

Abandoned Home I’ve always been a dreamer. I can’t tell you when it started or if it will ever end, but I can tell you that right now, in this space–I still dream. I get lost in foggy mornings and rainy days on a regular basis. The smell of rain has to be one of the most intoxicating things I believe you can experience. I’m not sure why anyone does drugs. I’m not sure why we don’t love life more and take in all the ‘little’ things. Have you ever stopped and listened to yourself breathing? Every inhalation is a divinely crafted push of air from God to you. Take a moment and run your finger from your palm to your shoulder blade and notice how the feeling changes–its so subtle and yet so magnificent that I tend to get goosebumps. What is this? All these beautiful things that God has created and yet I neglect Him daily, I pray less instead of more. When life gives me lemons–I cry in the silence about things I can’t control and I refuse to believe that He will free me from these burdens. How is it, I can be so ungrateful to a God who’s continually covering me in grace?

When I think about the honor it was to grow up in a Christian home where I learned the Bible and drank God’s word on a regular basis–I feel so blessed. But when I think about how far removed I am from it and how I can barely recollect many scripture verses, my heart weeps with discontent. I find myself wanting to exchange literature of poets and lyrics of musicians for that of scripture. Why, have I become so lost in these wordily things and forget about my maker until I’m knee deep back in sin?

I pray that God have mercy upon my soul and lead back to where He and I were in constant fellowship. I pray that he would restore in a heart that yearns to learn more about Him without hesitance. I pray that He would consume me and lead me to drink from the well of life once more, to leave behind the things of this of world in exchange for the love of heaven. I want to be more like Him. I want to see people as he sees people. I want to love people as He loves people. Dear God, I want to be yours whole-heartedly without condition. I simply want to be yours.

Walk off the Edge

I’m so afraid of what God will do if I decide to let people in. So instead of  allowing people to invade my personal space I only give them the shallow surface. I keep them at bay with witty words and sarcastic humor that doesn’t cause for me to be transparent. I’ve become such an expert at this self-defense mechanism that I often don’t realize I’m doing it.

I was sitting in the mall today just reading a magazine and drinking lemonade. There was a woman sitting next to me and she appeared to be engaged in a heavy conversation. There was such emotion in her voice and worry painted on her brow. Well, given my earthly nature I began to eavesdrop on the conversation. Now, I’d like to tell you that I was only listening because we were sitting close, but that’s not the truth. I’m just nosy. Don’t Judge Me. She was talking a female friend or acquaintance out of committing suicide. Apparently, the individual had been dealing with a lot of emotional trauma in her life. Issues ranging from the lost of a parent in 911 and a friend enlisting in the army. I know ,it sounds storybook, but it’s what I heard. And what alarmed me is not once did I hear anything about the love of Christ.

Anyways, it reminded me of how I go daily without letting strangers, friends or family members know about God’s Love because I’m afraid of what it will do to my world. How  it will change the way I do life? I keep refusing to walk off the edge for my God because I don’t want it to interrupt my plans. But why do I have plans when I should let God be in control. In short, I was thinking, what if I could have been the one to lend a few kind words, a smile or an opening of a door. What if that suicidal girl sat across from me in Sunday School or on the bus. What if shes in the cubicle next to me or my cashier?   Why do we continue to look over the edge in fear as supposed to having faith that God already has a plan? Is this anyway to live your life for Christ?

Scripture References

Mark 16:15-16
1 Thessalonians 3:2 NIV
www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org
www.afsp.org

Inked Thoughts

I have been writing poetry since I could remember. I have about 5 or 6 journals that are filled with the rants of an emotional adolescent. I don’t even remember the rules and guidelines to writing proper poetry but I know that it was the best way for me to capture the vivid thoughts I had. And it was better than continuing to store my thoughts in dark places.

I can’t remember what I was feeling the day I wrote this. But it was probably feeling guilty about doing something I shouldn’t have. That’s when I was the best at writing, is when I was convicted about something that I knew God wouldn’t be pleased with. I hope you can relate but if not, simply take a moment and reflect on the things you might be storing in the dark corners.

Dark Corners

i’m so afraid of being judged
that i’m a prisoner to my flesh
i can’t allow anyone to come in
because the floors are dirty
and the walls are covered in grime
you’ll find flickering lights
and critters that scurry at noise
there’s a stench that plagues the nostrils
and a smoke that blurs the eyes
refrain from applying too much weight on the floor
to the quicksand, you’ll fall captive
i’d find you liar if you say you never been here before

Sunday Tunes: Jimmy Needham

Today’s Sunday Tunes selection is none other than the man himself. Jimmy Needham. I discovered Jimmy Needham when I began my conversion over to CCM Music and I have never turned back. I absolutely enjoy anything musically this man has ever created. I recently saw him live in Nashville and was shocked that it wasn’t a full house. He has a distinguished writing style that gives way to jazzy tones, electronic pop with an undertone of soulful swoon that will leave you wanting more.

Needham’s transparency with his pornography struggles was one of the reason’s I was able to connect with him and his music. Seeing as how I too was introduced to  porn at a young age and dealt with some of the same issues. You can often read his blogs that attack the issue head on in an attempt to assist others who also struggle. Here’s an exert from one of his previous write-ups:

“For a while I thought about sin, and in particular my porn addiction, as a violation of God’s law, the 10 Commandments.  I was committing various crimes against God’s standard and thereby indicted myself before a holy God.  My sin, my monster was primarily an activity-based issue.  Of course, the point of this blog is not to deny that.  The Bible is profoundly clear that our sins are activities of the mind and body against God’s perfect standard, His Law.  But I believe there to be an even more profound lens through which we can understand the monster of sin and in this case, lust:  Sin is not just a violation of Law, it is a violation of appetite.”

You can find it @ http://www.jimmyneedham.com/ under What Monster Movies And Porn have in Common, but be sure to read the preceding blog first. Titled All in The Family: Lust & Her Ugly Cousins

The song selection today is Jimmy’s Clear The Stage. An amazingly simplistic written piece of work that is sure to pick at your heart-strings. I like to consider myself to be a pretty passionate person when it comes to music. I can’t break down the technicalities of it by any means, its more about the lyrics and melodies. You can find out more on Clear The Stage here. And here’s a snippet of what Jimmy Needham had to say about the song. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

“The first time I heard this song as a high school student, it shipwrecked me. I don’t think anyone can be the same person after hearing this song. I’ll never forget hearing those words and immediately getting on my face before God. As the final track on the record, it’s a heavy way to close, but my hope is that by the end, every listener will say ‘I want more of Jesus and less of everything else.’”

My Needham Favs:
Clear The Stage
Rend
Fence Riders
If I Ever Needed Grace: Live/Acoustic
Before And After

Imperfect when Light Comes

First things first. We recently moved into this new apartment complex with this awful 1970’s inspired tropical pastel wallpaper that my wife and I refuse to let live. So I spent the first two months replacing it in both bathrooms. Yes, two months, not two weeks! She still talks about it…But anyways this leads me to today’s discussion of  how light reveals our imperfections.

You’ve heard this sermon many times before and it never gets old. You know- the one about Christians being light in the darkness. And this hit home with me in the simplest of ways Thursday morning. I went to our guest restroom to utilize the facilities and in that moment of glimpsing at the wall. I realized that the sunlight that was permeating through the cracks of door and highlighted some areas of this wallpaper I hadn’t fully painted. Well, for a moment I wanted be furious because I worked so hard to put this nightmarish wallpaper up. And the completion of this task alone left me feeling as though I found a cure for cancer.But we know that’s not the case. It also left me thinking that it’s really that simple . It’s as simple as stepping outside of our comfort zones to lend a helping hand, to say a few kind words, to put aside that anger and find resolution in order to be light.

It’s so easy to get caught-up in taking the worldy approach to issues in this life that we forget to be light in a dark place.  Pastor Mike Glenn of Brentwood Baptist Church once said that, “The world is angry at us (Christians) because we are not differnt enough.” I work in the restaurant industry and it is so easy to fall prey to looking like everyone else in an attempt to not be cast in the role of Jesus Freak. But this is something that I’ve slowly over time have learned to hone in on. And God in his own timing has equipped me with the skills to stand against these temptaions to belong when I should be standing out. I realize that everyones perfect in the dark, there’s nothing to shine light on the imperfections. But the moment light permeates through the cracks of a bathroom door. We’re all the same.

In short, I am so far from being the person that I believe God wants me to be. But everyday I am willing to journey with Him. And I’m here to tell you that there are days when I don’t have any idea what that looks like or who that person is. But every now and again. In the silence, He gives me a little glimpse into his plan. And I am comforted knowing that God has a plan for me. I’m in Awe! when I think of it. And there are moments in my depravity where it breaks me down and I find myself crying because I know that I’m always falling short.

Passages of Scripture for reference:
Ephesians 5:7-14
Isaiah 50:10
Luke 11:33-35
Romans 13:12

Reckless Christians

I knew that would grab you’re attention, but there’s more to it than just the immediate shock you feel. I know you thought I was going to insult you or maybe not you, but someone else. I don’t where I’m going with that but anyways. This past Sunday, Pete Wilson, the Pastor of Cross Point Church, in Nashville, TN;  interviewed Kay Warren. The wife of Rick Warren, Pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California and author of the #1 New York Times Best Seller; Purpose Driven Life.

In short, this interview broke me down, because it changed the way I view the world. I mean, Kay spoke about the hurting people around with so much passion that you found yourself on the verge of tears. (Yes, I’m a man and I cry) Christians are supposed to be reaching these people, but fall short due to our own selfish indiscretions.

I mean from the way we approach people who aren’t in our social stature, those struggling with illness, lifestyle choices, foreign religious groups etc. I was astounded to realize that I’m guilty of not “jumping off the precipice” for my God. And in that moment when Kay said those words, I was ashamed. And I was angry. And disgusted. All because I have passed along so many people to Hell in fear of stepping outside of my comfort zone.In fear of what telling people about Jesus Christ might do to me. How it might disrupt my life. The cynicism, judgement, ostracism, it might bring and render me uncomfortable or insecure.

This interview Blessed my life and My Prayer is that it will do the same for you.

Kay Warren/Pete Wilson Interview

Chick-fil-A

Do you eat Tyson frozen products? Buy arts and crafts at Hobby Lobby? or even grab a short skirt, glittery socks and a blazer from Forever 21 now and again. Well, then you have already supported commercial companies who also share the same Christian or religious foundations that other faith-based companies such as Chick-fil-A share.

In this feature I won’t throw bible verses at you or tell you anyone’s going to hell. I’m just simply stating that it is incredible things we as a nation focus on. When there are so many other issues impacting our world of greater magnitude and substance. Furthermore when is demonizing Christians going to stop becoming the thing? Not only Christians , but isn’t anyone allowed to state how they feel about a political issue without being labeled as intolerant, Republican, Democrat, bigot, sell-out etc. Since when do we have to agree with each other in order to love each other. When at the end of the day isn’t that what it all comes down to? Spreading the gospel in hopes that someone can be made new and given everlasting life. I think we often forget the reason for which we were created. And I’ll be the first to tell you that it isn’t for the phrase.

“to eat, or not to eat?”…a chicken sandwich.