Monday, May 23, 2011

The Overwhelming Question

Before this year I would get really annoyed when people would tell me that I would change the world.  I used to roll my eyes and walk away thinking how ignorant they were for thinking that I could do anything of any worth among a world of 6.7 billion people who mostly were lost and hopeless.  When I was in the 7th grade I started to write.  I remember one of the first things I wrote was a little paragraph that I titled, “Conviction” and now as I look back on it I even question myself if I knew the correct definition of the word.  But even if I didn’t, the same emotions creep into my heart as I read it.  The little paragraph ends with me asking the question, “Could I change the world” and I remember putting the question mark on that sentence as I was sitting on my bunk bed in the room Cody and I use to share and setting it down and then going on with my day.  Over the next 6 years many things happened in me and to me that convinced me that I couldn’t change the world and that I would be an idiot if I thought I could.  I even wrote blogs about it and had other people start to believe they couldn’t change the world and so on and so fourth until I genuinely became angry with the church I attend for their mission statement having the words, “change the world” in it.  I became bitter because I thought since I had met Christ and He had changed me that it would be prideful for me to say I could change the world.  I began to believe strongly that if I thought I could change the world than that meant I my focus wasn’t on discipleship. 
I was wrong. But I didn’t know that until this past summer when I was in Ethiopia and was complaining about all of it to my small group leader, Cam.  For three weeks all I had heard from the leaders and other students on the trip was how we were going to change the world and I kept getting angry about it.  So I told Cam that I didn’t think any of us could change the world and expected him, like most everyone else I talk to, to agree with me and move on.  But to my surprise he looked me in the eyes and told me I was wrong.  At this point of my life I hadn’t had many people disagree with me on much (oh, how my life has been transformed since) so as you can imagine, I was taken aback and waited for his reason.  He then went on to explain how one man thought of the idea of a telephone and how because of one man’s idea of communicating with people across town, or across a state, or across a country, the whole world was revolutionized.  One man thought a telephone and that simple idea shaped the way we communicate in unspeakable and astronomical ways.  Then he said to me, “how could one man not change the world?” 
At that question I realized that the whole time I thought I was prideful by saying I could change the world, I was really only belittling God.  I was limiting Christ to what I thought He could do through me, and really everyone else for that matter.  I was so humbled by my friend’s simple words that I immediately retreated to some intense prayer (it felt more like wrestling) and what the Lord revealed to me was directly in contrast with what my sinful nature had convinced me of.  He showed me that I was born to change the world.  I was born to know Christ and to make Him known and if my life is about making Him known then how am I not changing the world for the glory of the Living God?  He showed me that loving my neighbor and telling a friend about salvation could make just as big of a dent on the world as an atomic bomb could.  How do I know that the next person I tell about Jesus isn’t the next D.L. Moody?  How do I know that the next person I talk to about Christ wasn’t about to kill himself and in turn set off a chain reaction of suicide in his family because of the sorrow all of them felt?  How do I know anything?
The last couple of weeks I have been meditating on Jesus’ words in the most famous sermon ever preached. “You are the salt of the Earth,” he said, “but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored?  It’s no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.”
For years I believed that if I thought I could change the world, I was being prideful. I wasn’t being the salt of Earth.  I had lost my saltiness.  I hadn’t heard of the beautiful principle of multiplication and discipleship.
Jesus goes further and says, “You are the light of the world.” (and here is where is I slap my hand to my forehead and ask myself how I missed this for those 6 years).
Since that beautiful night in Ethiopia, God has placed a deep desire in my heart to change the world, even if that is just one person at a time. I want the Lord to use me for His glory; I desperately yearn for Christ to allow me to serve Him in big ways.  And before this year, if I had said those words, it would have been for my namesake but truly now as I type those, they are for Christ’s namesake.  I have seen how only by the name of Jesus can anyone live and to change the world for His name, to glorify Him forever, is why I was born. 
T.S. Eliot once asked the overwhelming question, “do I disturb the universe?” I answer him with the short yet packed words, “how could I not?”
Hallelujah I am alive for the glory of God.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

My Life is a Book

At the beginning of my 8th grade year I wrote a song called, “The End of the School Year Blues” and it was suppose to be about how weird it was to be moving from middle school to high school and all that jazz but now as I look back, I laugh at myself.  Because here I am, fresh off my last test of my high school life and I am sitting here trying to cope with how weird it is now to yet again be facing those end of the school year blues and to be moving onto the next part of my life.
            This isn’t going to be one of those sad and mopey blogs about missing high school and all that I promise but as I look back over the last four years it would be wrong for me not to let myself be nostalgic for a couple of brief moments.  I entered my freshman year of high school as a built up, punk and am leaving a broken bondservant.  Not for my glory or my recognition but simply because Jesus has captured my heart.  I remember the first time I ever fell to my face and told Jesus He could have everything and since that day, my life has never been the same.
            Jesus has rearranged my life in these last four years.  I went from believing that my days were about sports and being the best to believing my life is Christ and I am called to not be the best or the highest, but the lowest.  I went from trying to convert people to my religion to loving people and desperately longing for them to know my Lover.  I went from trusting in my own abilities, how high I could jump to how hard I could hit, to embracing my weakness and knowing Christ is glorified in those.  I met Jesus face to face in these last four years.  I have seen my friends become my brothers and my sisters.  I have seen injustice and I have swallowed poverty and I have been broken.  I have fallen out of myself by the grace of God and I have learned to walk again, literally.   Jesus has cut me open and replaced my heart with His. 
            I am deeply humbled when I look back over these years and realized how dearly Christ has held me.  I am reminded of that old story of a man and Jesus when they look back over his life on a beach.  The man sees two sets of footprints most places and one others and he thinks that those places are when Jesus has left him and when he asks Jesus about them Jesus replies, “those are the times I carried you.”  The same is true of my life these last years.  He has proven that He is faithful when I am faithless because friends, I have been faithless many many many times.  I have turned my back on my King and disobeyed the Spirit too many times to count.  I have run away from His Love but He met me with a scalpel and a promise the beginning of my sophomore year, which led me to breathe Him in deeply in the cold mountains of Mammoth, California.  He has taken me to the Nations and shown me Glory. He has placed Himself as a seal upon my arm and by next week, He will be a seal upon my heart as well.  I am my Beloved’s and He is mine.  Hallelujah.
            Jesus has blessed me during these last four years by allowing me, by His mercy, to be a small part of His heartbeat for Robinson High School.  It has been my Calcutta and it breaks my heart to leave that flock.  Even as I type this I feel an empty longing because I am done.  I have been privileged to see lives run head on into Salvation and Jesus redeemed those who seemed hopeless.  But even still I am stranded here thinking that there is so much more to do at that school and I am not finished yet, but I feel the powerful hand of God and His voice saying very clearly, “yes, you are”.  The easy thing for me to do would be to be sad about the work not finished in those halls but instead I will be thankful and give praise to Jesus for the thing that’s were done.  We have felt the Holy Spirit begin to rapture lives as we have walked by the lockers and the classrooms.  We have seen kids fall to their knees and give everything to Jesus.  We have seen disciples making disciples and I cannot begin to capture the love that has been unleashed at that school.  I get emotional when I write this because I keep getting flashbacks to the night during my junior year when Jesus wrung my heart out and I began to weep for the lost at Robinson and beyond.  Oh, that the Lord will continue to raise leaders there and set Robinson on fire for His glory.  And I leave with hope knowing Christ moved and is moving and that Jesus still has His hand on the campus. 
            The most beautiful thing about high school has been waking up each day with Purpose and Reason.  I have fallen in love with Jesus Christ: not the idea, not the good intention of religion, not the show, but the person of Christ himself. 
So here I am, the end of the school year blues playing in the back round, ready to run.  I will not look back but only forward to Jesus.  He has known since the before time that I would spend four years learning to love at Robinson and that I will spend four more (or however many more) at Fayetteville, doing the same thing.  I will follow Him and go where He desires for me to go and I will open my mouth when He allows me to.  For I am alive for His glory, to know Christ and to make Him known.  Hallelujah, all I have is Christ.
            To end this shorter post, I want to share a poem that I wrote about if my life were a book.  I wrote this poem from an idea my friend Zac gave me.  He once asked me if I ever thought about life being a book with the letters being seconds, words being minutes, hours being sentences, days being paragraphs, weeks being pages, months being chapters, and years being parts.  Since I hadn’t ever thought about it like that, I began to meditate over this idea and a poem formed soon after.  The main reason I share this is because it puts high school in focus, with it just being a small part of my life, and how the end is always just the beginning to something new.

What if my life is a book?
If I am the main character
In a story that will soon
Come to an end.

Each second is like a letter,
And as they begin to tick by,
One by one, an image starts
To come together of possibly
Something much greater.

A minute is a word.
But with that word, what am
I trying to say?
I only have so many words
To write and live until I run out of space.

The words form into sentences
With each sentence another hour
Of my life passes by unaccounted for.
Do I still believe that the hours
Will go on forever, even now,
Since they are passing so quickly?

Tonight as I crawl into my dreams
I watch another day walk away which means
Another paragraph has been written.
And therefore I start to question,
What was accomplished with that paragraph?
Maybe nothing? Maybe everything?
Nonetheless, my heart is burning
To never waste another paragraph.

This week was a blur for me
And a whole page has been revealed.
With that page, another comes into view.
But with this flick of the wrist
I seem to want to know
What will be written on the blank white abyss.
It’s as though I am not even
Writing my own story.

A month ago I was holding my breath for
The next chapter and what it would hold.
I only have so many chapters
Until there can be no more written.
So I have moved, and am changing,
Letting my heart burn and move
Deep within me where I am to go.

One more year down and who knows
How many more there are to go.
But this part of my story has
Been opened up to a new one.
Where I will go in this part,
 I won’t know until I get there.
But I have tasted Purpose
And I intend on not losing another letter.

I can only pray that as my
Right hand turns the week
And my left hand fills with another page,
That the end of my story
Holds a beautiful beginning.
Isn’t the end of something always
Just the beginning of something new?
Because although I am coming to the end,
I feel as if I have just begun to live.

Thursday, May 5, 2011


            A couple of weeks ago my friend told me a story about a 14-year-old boy in Kansas City with cerebral palsy and a girl named Annie.  Annie had gone home for the weekend and at her home church this kid asked to pray over her.  So the boy started praying over Annie when all of the sudden he started saying, “spiritual fire in Little Rock” over and over again.  Here’s the ridiculous thing: Annie goes to school in Fayetteville, not Little Rock and this boy had never been to Arkansas before much less Little Rock and out of all the cities in all of the world he chose Little Rock. 
            A number of emotions pulse through my body whenever I type that story; I have tears in my eyes and chills down my spine and an overwhelming, unexplainable feeling deep inside of my chest.  For the first couple of days after I heard that story I tried to pin down exactly what that feeling was and I came up with a loss but as I sat around at 3am the morning after Good Friday and took communion with some dear friends, Jesus gave a voice to that feeling.  The main reason this story is so incredible, besides the fact prophecy still exists and how God is moving, is that God knows Little Rock by name.  I know that sounds simple but really, out of all of the world God has chosen to walk through Little Rock and set us on fire at this present moment for His glory.  He knows us.  That truth is so overlooked and not deeply felt in each of our desperate and thirsty souls.  Jesus knows Little Rock and in the same way He knows me.
            For the last couple of weeks Revival has run rampant across Little Rock and it is not slowing down, but instead it is speeding up as more and more people start to burn alive.  There have been three different times in the last month that Jesus has led not only me, but many others to sing spiritual songs over others (funny how the Bible starts to come to life while walking in the Spirit) and each time I have dismissed the idea of me needing to be sung over as well.  We have sung “Oh, how He loves you” over many people, one time it was just one friend and others it was hundreds and I remember the third time I was singing that over a group my eyes finally were opened and I saw how I need to know that as well.  Just as Jesus knows Little Rock out of the whole world, He knows me out of all of history. 
            I’m reading through 1 Chronicles and I have to be honest, it’s really rough trying to read through hundreds of name for no apparent reason.  Whenever I got to chapter three and started nodding off, I stubbornly asked God to reveal something to me that would make me want to keep reading and to learn something from these “divine” names.  When I rolled around to chapter seven or so, God started to peel open my eyelids to se that out of all the names and all the lists, none of them are in any particular arrangement.  What I mean is this, some names are the son of so-and-so, some names are where they’re from and some are just simply their names.  What this brought to my heart was that God handpicked every single name that was to go into the first 12 chapters of Chronicles and gave each one a special and unique way of being presented.  Each individual name means nothing to me, but each name means everything to God. 
            Every three seconds someone dies of poverty.  So in the amount of time it has taken me to write four paragraphs approximately 300 people have died around the world.  Each individual life means nothing to me, but each life means everything to God.
            Whenever I sit here at Starbucks and people watch, I think about where each person has to be and why there are in such a hurry or why they get out of bed everyday.  I like to entertain myself with making up their lives in my head; some are going to grow up to be president, some will be bums, and others become over-paid pastors.  Whatever the case I often forget about the person and move on with my day leaving that person meaning nothing to me, but not dismissing the fact that that person still means everything to God.
            One of the most beautiful things about this Revival is that God is moving and working in individual hearts and when we as the Church sing, “Oh how He loves you” to our brothers and sisters, we are speaking pure Biblical truth.  I became lost in Awakening to the point where it was hard for me to fall to my knees and let Jesus’ arms surround me and quiet my aching and raging heart. 
            There have been many things that have happened in the past month for the Lord to keep reminding me and impressing upon my heart that He knows me by name, some of them being Annie’s story and the whole 1 Chronicles deal but there has been one in particular that I would be in vain not to share.
            With this being my senior year and all, like everyone my age, the question of college reared it’s ugly head this fall.  I quickly decided Arkansas Tech was the place for me (cant honestly say I prayed about that too much) and left it at that until I was at a college fair where John Brown peeked my interest.  I went to visit and loved the idea of going there but that died in about two weeks as Jesus let me see how a small Christian college most likely wasn’t the best place for my healing and bitter heart.  So once again I settled on Arkansas Tech and then in a span of five minutes, God rocked my world.  I was in Springdale for a football game and ended up staying the night with my buddy Shaun in Fayetteville on the campus of the University of Arkansas.  That morning I walked out of Humphrey’s Hall only to stop dead in my tracks in the cool December morning air and my heart literally leapt within my chest.  I stood there and looked around and thought to myself, “I’m supposed to be here”.  On the way home I mentioned it to my dad and we both knew it was a long shot considering the early deadline for scholarships had passed and I would be applying late and there was no way I could go to college without scholarships (right?). I ended up applying when I got home anyways and within a couple of weeks was accepted and sent in my scholarship application.  After a couple of weeks of prayer and council from some much wiser people, I saw pretty clearly that my heart’s desire was to be at Fayetteville.  There is so much going on there and the Lord has an army in place of mighty warriors who desire nothing more than to know Jesus and to make Him known and as I looked from the outside in, I started to understand why my heart leapt the way it did that morning.
            This year went on and the news of scholarships came flooding in.  I was expecting quite a bit from different places (some from UofA as far as academics and then the government and other competitions) and within the span of two weeks the possible total went from about 6,000 a year to 1,000… one time.   The hope of Fayetteville became more and more slim by the day but each time I got a rejection notice or call or found out in any way, I just kept hearing the Lord behind me whispering, “do you trust me?”  That is an easy question with a difficult response.  “Of course I do!” I would keep saying but remember that I have an incredibly hard time accepting that Jesus loves me deeply and knows my name which puts me in between a rock and a hard spot for answering that question of whether I trust Him or not. To make matters even more complicated I got an offer from Arkansas Tech that would literally pay for everything but I had zero peace about going there, although the ratio of scholarship money was about 40:1.  My friend Niki so poetically and prophetically wrote to me, “If God wants you at Fayetteville, the devil will try to draw you elsewhere.  And money is a draw of the world… stepping outside the will of God is more costly than any college expense.”  Needless to say that the last sentence of that message wrung my heart until it was dry of all doubt. 
            It’s easy for me to complain and wish that people would sing over me how much Jesus loves me but it’s even sweeter to know that the King of the Universe, the Living God himself sings over me.  As I am reminded by His gentle and violent love, “He will take delight in you with gladness.  With His love, He will calm all your fears.  He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” (Zeph. 3:17) How beautiful is it that Jesus himself sings over me the most intimate song ever sung.            
            I stared face to face with my will and the will of God… do I go with the money for myself or do I trust with all of my heart that God holds me close and His glory and His grace is so much greater than mine?
            When I got off the phone with Arkansas Tech I had to steady my hand knowing how much money I had just given up.  But while I did that, the Spirit once again whispered into my ear, “I am a shield about you, your glory, and the lifter of your head.” As the truth of Psalm 3 echoed into my soul, I felt sure Jesus was leading in His path of life.
            From before the world began the Lord knew that I would be going to Fayetteville and He knew that I would have to trust Him with everything that came along with that.  I am confident that the Lord will provide me with whatever funds I need because He desires for me to be there.  I will trust in the good news, the great news that Jesus Christ knows my name.  I will rest in the hand of my Savior. 
            When this Revival started a month ago I was introduced to Audrey Assad and a song called, “Known” which has been my cry ever since I first heard it.  The song is obviously about how intimately God knows each of us. And isn’t it so glorious that that can also be the cry of every single other heart that knows the Lord and every heart that ever will.  We are alive to know Him, and to make Him known and the first half of the reason I got up this morning rings truer in my ear than the music playing from my iPod. 
How sweet it is to trust in Jesus.   How sweet to know I am nothing but He is everything.  How sweet it is to be sung over by the Living God.  How sweet it is to be used by the Spirit.  How sweet it is to become one with Him by taking the bread and drinking the wine.  How sweet it is to be held in the arms of our dear Savior.  How sweet it is to be alive for His glory.  How sweet it is to be known.