Tuesday, December 27, 2011


Have you ever been sitting and thinking when an idea comes through and so thoroughly grips your heart that you can't stop cherishing it? Well if you don't mind I'm going to take a break from my sermon to share one of these moments with you that I experienced literally moments ago.

I was sitting with my Father and my sister watching a cinematic classic known as Meet Joe Black. For those of you who haven't seen it (other than highly recommending you watch every scene other than one) I will briefly summarize without spoiling it.

An older gentleman is nearing death when he makes a deal with the angel of death for a few more days of life in exchange for some poorly worded vacation time. Near the end of the movie as he approaches his coming death he ponders his life and sums it up by saying at his going away party

" I thought I was going to sneak away tonight. What a glorious night. Every face I see is a memory. It may not be a perfectly perfect memory. Sometimes we had our ups and downs. But we're all together, and you're mine for a night. And I'm going to break precedent and tell you my one candle wish: that you would have a life as lucky as mine, where you can wake up one morning and say, "I don't want anything more." Sixty-five years. Don't they go by in a blink? "

This speech got me thinking what is our life like? Can we say we want nothing more? What would our lives look like? It was in this moment that a series of thoughts popped in my head about what I want to be said about me at my life's conclusion. May they be true for our generation too!

May we not pursue money, but instead pursue moments.
May we not pursue luxury, but instead pursue love.
May we not pursue riches, but instead be wealthy in friendships.
May we not pursue fame, but instead pursue family
May we not pursue a religion, but instead follow a relationship that consumes our heart!

Your list may look slightly different than mine, but at the end of the day take time in following moments, days, months, and years to decide what really matters. When you've found whatever and whomever it may be, for my sake, for our sake, don't stop pursuing it! Never let go!

What will be your legacy? What will be our generations legacy? There is still time for you, for us to decide what we will leave behind! Because to quote Sir Hopkins. "65 years. Don't they go bye in a blink ?"

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Embrace the Unusual

For those of you who weren't able to attend my latest sermon about the three wise men, I have decided to write a blog about each of the three points. With some new stories and different twists for those who were in attendance! The first of these being the idea of how God loves the unusual!

As some of you may know one of the most impactful relationships in my life is with my youth pastor and mentor Dave Clancy. He came to my church at the end of my 9th/ beginning of tenth grade year. He saw me in my gangly lanky growing days, on into my graduation, and has continued to guide me even in my college days. From him shooting jump shots with me to speaking some of the wisest biblical advice into my life, He has always poured into me in a big way!

So it should be no surprise that when I go home from school, that we continue our relationship as mentor and intern as we chat about church leadership, fishing, and sometimes women while we work alongside each other at the church. It was on one of these days that Dave and myself sat in his office with another close elder that God once again spoke through Dave right into my heart!

We were talking about my sermon from the previous night as we broke down pro's and con's, He looked plainly to me and Reggie and said "You know what really got me last night Dustin." You know me I was of course clueless, so I shook my head. He continued "What got me was, that last night I was sitting watching you preach the gospel in the very same spot I met you 5 years ago."

You see there wasn't a full stage fit for any band or speaker there then. Instead of drum risers and guitars there was a basketball goal and some basketballs. In the same place I was pouring my heart into a microphone, only 5 years earlier I was working (and failing) on pouring some three pointers into a small orange rim.

It was in this trip down memory lane that got me remembering the first point of my sermon. "God uses unusual things to bring unusual people to his son". It was in that very moment that God smacked me in the face and said "I didn't stop doing that with the wise men, just look at how I drew you."

You see in Matthew 2 we find a group of men looking for Jesus because they had been led there by a star. We often call them the 3 wise men, or 3 kings. However, these men were not kings at all. They were actually astronomers! In their day they were the weirdos, the outcasts, the unusual. However we see God using a star to bring them to Jesus. As I was reading this text I was questioning why would God use a star? He of course then hit me over the head and said "Dustin because it fit the men perfectly! I used an unusual thing to bring  unusual people to my son.

As I sat there in Dave's office I looked back at how I had gotten here. 5 years ago I was an insecure punk who loved basketball, I had for a time given up on God because it sure felt like He had given up on me. I hadn't been to church regularly in a year or two. Until one day a kid on my bus named TJ invited me to his church to play basketball. It was really close to home and I loved playing ball so I of course went!

We would play from the time the bus dropped us off at church until dinner and bible study. For a long time church became this thing I had to sit through in order to use the nice goals. All of us boys would play there every Wednesday without fail. So no surprise that's where Dave found me his very first day. Dave shot with us, and even threw the football with us as well.

Before long we began growing a relationship, and bible study led by Dave wasn't so bad. Church became exciting all the way through the lesson instead of just up to it. Cool things started happening in my heart as I found that slowly God was reigniting the passion for Him in me, that I had long since allowed to grow dormant.

However, TJ had an opposite reaction. He started drinking at night, and pursuing the wrong kind of girls. Eventually we stopped hanging out because our lives were going in different directions. He finally got into drugs really bad and has since gone to jail several times.

While some people would look at my relationship with TJ and say what a tragedy. Philipians 1:3 "I thank my God every time I remember you." I believe this verse better describes my relationship with TJ. Ya sure we don't hang out anymore, and sure he has been in jail. But TJ invited me to church, where I met Dave, and where I eventually fell head over heels in love with Jesus Christ.

God used someone who would eventually become a blaspheming drug addict, to bring me back to His son.

Some of us like to sit and think "God couldn't use me because I'm                  ." Maybe we fill that blank with weird, bad, weak, shy, dumb, or maybe even sinful. But take heart! At 14 I wasn't the kid that preachers were declaring from the pulpit "If only he could get saved the world would be a better place." As a matter of fact I was probably not going to be a top recruit for anyone trying to change the world. I was unusual.

But guess what God used an unusual thing (TJ and Basketball) to bring an unusual person (Yours truly) to his son. Since that day God has radically reshaped my heart and grown me over the past 5 years. God loves taking the unusual and making them unstoppable for His name! God loves taking your mistakes and transforming them into miracles.

 5 years ago TJ wouldn't have believed the impact he has had on my life. Dave wouldn't have believed the impact he has had on our church and my life, and I sure wouldn't have believed that 5 years later I would be preaching from the spot that I shot jumpers from.

But that's the beauty of God, he loves and uses who the world would call "unusual" to change the world!

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 "But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 

We may be unusual, we may be weak; but who cares. God uses unusual things to bring unusual people to Jesus.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

What are you trying to prove?

So I recently got to experience one of the most precious, desired, sought after, longed for, yearned for, and anticipated experiences in the life of a college student. The one thing that two weeks before every student is counting down the days for and two weeks after students are still wishing they were there. All you collegiate readers out there know exactly what i'm talking about.... Going home for Thanksgiving Break!!! 

Thanksgiving Break is that awesome time where we as students get to return home with our mouths watering in anticipation for Turkey, mashed potatoes, and of course some pie for dessert (even though I'm not a fan of pie). It's a time where we get to see and be reunited with our loving families and enjoy there company once again. 

All in all this seems like such a peachy, amazing time doesn't it?

For me and for others I'm sure this time is not always biscuits and gravy though. For those like me who had a somewhat spotty and rough past going home can often painful reminders of your mistakes. Last year as a freshman this was my biggest struggle about going back home. I didn't want to face my past because I wasn't completely over it. 

However this year it was something totally different I found myself once again feeling stupid about. This year to the glory of God I can say I don't even resemble the young boy dressed in man's clothes who left a little over a year and a half ago. It's so awesome! God has done huge things in my heart and is still transforming me into the Man He wants me to be. So as I went home I should be excited, and joyful right?

Well the thing was I should be! I had every right to be! However, if you read this blog regularly you should know by know that I'm pretty dumb and it's often through my ignorance that God teaches me things. So it should be no surprise that was again my ignorance and pride got in the way of my joy for a time on this break.

When I got home, I was so ready to prove to everyone that as Brandon Heath so eloquently puts "I'm not who I was". I think differently, I talk differently, I carry myself differently and most importantly my relationship with God was closer than it had ever been! I wanted to show everyone that I wasn't the womanizing lying insecure punk that left. So when I was hanging out with my friends I would often say something and immediately question myself if that was "Old Dustin" or "New Dustin". 

It was one night after one of these hangouts in which I was pouring my heart out to God in my bed, that he said something that once again smacked me in the mouth. He said clear as day right in my heart "Dustin, Am I not enough? I know the change that's been going on in your heart, I'm the One authoring it! Is it not enough for you that I know how much change has happened? Why do you feel the need to have others see it? Why do you want to prove yourself to them? Who's opinion matters more to you, Theirs or Mine? 

OUCH!!!! Talk about times when God can cut you deep right at the heart! I immediately repented and asked God for forgiveness! It was in the days afterward as I was reflecting on this story that God placed a verse on my mind.

 1 Samuel 16:7 "  But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart".    

So if there is something that I can pass along to those of you who may be feeling like I was, who may be thinking "I have grown so much, I have changed so much, Why doesn't anyone seem to notice?"; it would be this. You may be pushing and enduring and on your last leg from struggling to change your life and overcome your problems. You may feel like no one notices or cares. But take heart in this! While we as humans are often dumb and may not notice, God Does!! 

He has numbered the hairs on your head, and He knows you better and more intimately than any of us! He is your father and even in this time of struggle and growing pains, He is right behind you cheering you on saying "Keep going, I'm proud of you, and I love you" 

So the next time you are caught in the dumb cycle I was ensnared in of trying to prove yourself to people, to show them you have changed; take time and ask a yourself  "(Insert name here), What are you trying to prove?"

Monday, November 21, 2011

Push Through!

This may come as a shock to some of you, but I, Dustin Wells, am a hopeless romantic. Maybe it was all the Disney Movies I watched as a young kid, or the good guy gets the girl TV shows I watched in my teenage years but I'm such a sucker for happy endings.  I mean what guy doesn't want to be the underdog who at some point his girl "friend" realizes how amazing he really is, and what girl doesn't want to be swept off her feet by a charming amazing man (At least I think that's what girls want, i'm not even gonna pretend like I know).

But as I look around the world today I seem to find very few perfect stories. I don't see the fireworks and magic carpet rides the movies have taught us to yearn for. The truth is that these fantasies are just that: fantasies. They are fictional stories that capture our minds and hearts because they are so different from reality. However, what I think is dangerous is that we in our minds have made the jump to say that not only are these stories different than reality but they must be better.

This different = better phenomenon has even crept it's way into the church culture. Where we as a church have started to believe that if life isn't cookie cutter perfect that something has to be wrong! We are messed up, and life is so so so not fair!! How could God let this happen to us?

This growing leap crept it's way into my heart as well. I found myself very recently in a position where I had this perfect picture of how this scenario in my life was going to play out... But it didn't. This caused my ambitious and ignorant mind to grow confused and a little annoyed with God. I was so confused, I knew that God had led me to this point. He had placed me in this position, and he had already answered prayer about it. He also had given myself and others this vision and burning in our heart and He was leading down this road. But in this very moment as I sat annoyed and confused, it seemed like to me that God's provision wasn't backing his guidance.

I had always heard where God guides, God provides; or another one if it's God's will it's God's bill. So what was going on here? It was in this moment of my stupidity that God chose to speak to me, and break me of my foolishness. He just told me to keep going, push through, and trust him.

 It's kind of funny that in the movie scenario there never seems to be that moment where the people are hurt, doubting, and confused about huge life issues. Where am I gonna live? Does anyone even love me? What am I going to do with my life? How am I going to pay the bills? You almost never find these questions in the newest Nicholas Sparks romantic comedies. But the one that I want to focus on is the very one we in the church, and myself at times ask when our lives don't match that of Aladdin or Cinderella. GOD WHERE ARE  YOU?

I caught myself asking this question and immediately felt like a dufus, here am I a young man who God has called into the ministry and is currently in ministry asking God where he was. It was then that my eyes were opened to the idea of endurance.

There are several examples of men and women in the Bible who showed great endurance, but I thought I would focus on Jesus. As you read the gospels, you will find time and time again the words "So Jesus set his face towards Jerusalem" or other tid-bits that speak of Christ's continual journey towards Jerusalem.  This got me wondering,  why is this in here?? I believe that the Bible is God's word, and that it is from God (2 Timothy 3:16) and that everything is in there for a reason. So why is this in here??

One day I was listening to a preacher, and he told me. "Hey Gang, what is going to happen at Jerusalem?"
At which point I was like OOOHHH rigghhhtt!

The idea being that all along Jesus was going to Jerusalem, or his death on the cross. From the manger to the mount of Olives it was all about fulfilling his destiny. So after reading and hearing that I decided to flip to when Jesus got to Jerusalem.

Let's pick it up from there, Jesus is betrayed by Judas. He goes through a mock trial with Pontious Pilate who even though finding no fault condemns Him, He then is beaten severely up to the point of death. Then has a crown of poisonous thorns crammed into His head, then is forced to carry His cross (which thanks to the beatings He is physically too weak to do) until Simeon is forced to help Him carry it the rest of the way to Golgotha. Once at Golgotha, as He is hanging on the cross He experienced people mocking Him and telling Him if He is so high and mighty to save Himself.

 This is the last straw for me, at this point I'm so mad at how they were treating Him, I wanted to scream you fools!!! He could save himself, but He chose not to, so that through Him we might be saved and have a relationship with the father.

Boom!! There it is, on a much larger scale than my petty grievance, Jesus has been sent with a purpose but it doesn't seem all glowy and cheery like the movies. I mean he was beaten, but he was beaten so that God's purpose could be fulfilled.

John 19:30 "So when Jesus received the sour wine, He said "It is finished!" And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit."

That verse pierced so much deeper when I saw it through the lens of Christ's enduring work for us on the cross. He screamed it's finished, because he had made it to the end of his race! He had suffered all the pain and shame but he had endured it all so that God's plan could be completed.

I know myself and lots of my friends are in positions where we are going through a tough time. But if I can encourage you with something God has been teaching me, it's simply that sometimes we have to go through tough times so that God's purpose may be fulfilled. As my good friend Jordan Hibbard puts it "Your various seasons are what God uses to season your life." Don't lose heart! There is a light at the end of every tunnel! Keep pushing, push through, and most importantly Trust him. If he was willing to endure all of Jerusalem for us, don't you think He will come through for you?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Born Identity?

Hello my name is Dustin Wells, and I'm a recovering Identity Theft Victim.

America has made Identity Theft a popularized crime and an ever-growing awareness to the dangers of it. However, when we say Identity Theft we tend to solely focus on our bank accounts. We flip out if someone is taking our identity so that they can use our credit cards and ruin our precious credit scores. This idea of Identity Theft focuses on someone stealing or taking  your identity, whether that be financial or lifestyle. We have made movies about people recovering their identity from someone else, (Bourne Identity series).

We all cheer when Matt Damon beats up the people who stole his Identity from him, while the majority of us are losing our Identity without even knowing it.

I'm a recovering Identity Theft Victim and I too like Matt Damon have had to fight entities to recover who I am. The main difference between Matt Damon and myself is that I gave my Identity away while Matt Damon had his stolen away.

Who am I?

 That was the question I was seeking to answer throughout my middle and high school years, and I looked in all the wrong places.

 In middle school I wanted to be the kid who got to hang out with cool kids so badly that I allowed myself to get bullied and pressure into doing things that I knew were wrong just so I could be in their "club". However, this still left me being empty inside and quite frankly I didn't like very much who I was at that point. So I kept looking....

Later in Middle School I found a pretty solid group of friends but I still didn't know who I was, so when I made the middle school soccer team I though that I would be the masculine jock. (Okay looking back now, I do realize that sounds ridiculous) However this didn't work very well at this point in my life, and my 8th grade year I actually had to undergo knee surgery which of course put me out of commission. I had tried to place who I was in sports at this point and found that it wasn't enough....

So then like every guy ever did I started to try to define who I was by who I was or was not dating. For three years off and on I was Heidi McClure's boyfriend and I liked that. However seeing how that was where my identity lied this led to problems and shortcomings on my behalf. I claimed to be a Christ follower but for some one who claimed that I sure was trying to play God in my own life, or even yet exalt things to the same level as Him.

After my shortcomings and immaturity led to my relationship with Heidi ending I continued to try to not address the real problem of myself by pursuing more girls, because if I found the right one it would fix everything! I very quickly got my heart broken again and again because despite how ridiculous it was I was seeking these girls to fill my void in my heart left by not knowing who I was.

It was then that I was no longer okay with having my heartbroken and decided to jade my heart and basically define myself by not only who I was going on dates with but who else I could get to be interested in me. These flings lasted shorter and shorter because the whole in my heart got greater and greater, my life was only as good as my "girl" at the time was. If I was single something was wrong with me.

This hole remained all the way through my high school years, as I would then try to fill it with basketball as well as girls. Even though I was an all-conference forward and dated the "girl of my dreams" I found that I was still not comfortable with who I was. I couldn't figure it out.

I made it to college and was immediately thrust into a ministerial position due to charisma and natural leadership ability. However, I didn't have the character or integrity necessary for this position. So this promotion allowed me to get extremely prideful and quite honestly fake. I didn't know who I was so I tried to become the position i was assigned, I tried to become the man I thought people wanted me to be.

This struggle and fakeness continued until after spring break of my spring semester were God wrecked my heart and asked me " if I cared more about what people thought or what he thought?" For the first time in my life I answered him! He helped me to learn something I will never forget.

 " I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." Psalm 139 :14 tells us. For the first time I truly realized God made me, like me for a reason. That He loves me, and through his son Jesus Christ he has adopted me into his family. He is my father, my constant companion and my perfect rock.

The stupidity of my former ways smacked me in the face as I soon realized "For someone who was searching for who he was, I never asked the one who made me?" Our creator created each of us with a specific purpose and NO ONE is here by accident regardless of what some people may say. Each life is truly beautiful and unique.

When we ask Christ into our hearts and truly allow Him to be lord over our life, we find our Identity for this first time. We find we have been given a "Born Identity". Meaning that we are not defined by how good of  a jumpshot we posses or how much or job pays. We are defined by how good our Savior is and how much he paid for us to have a relationship with Him.

My name is Dustin Wells, and I'm a recovering Identity Theft victim. I am no longer defined by being "the funny guy" or "the jock" or "______'s boyfriend" or "the heart breaker" or "The prideful preacher" or even "a minister of the Lord"; no I am defined by what Jesus Christ did on the cross for me. I am defined because I have given him all of my life and because of this I have been given a "Born Identity".

Thursday, October 27, 2011

You can't earn it, so appreciate it

Confession: I know it has been a month since my last post but as this blog will show I have been dealing and pondering a lot lately. I will continue to write more and more blogs, but this one sits special in my heart as it comes from some of the wounds and healing of my heart. Hope you enjoy!

Growing up as a young man in life, one lesson that tends to often repeat itself in my talks with the older generation is that you earn everything you receive. For the longest time I would nod along and say "Hmmmm that's good stuff", but now something that I have been learning in my life is causing me to question this statement. It is a good reminder to work hard and never take anything for granted and has oftentimes charged me onward in times of laziness. My only struggle with this comes when we try to stretch this philosophy into our faith and relationship with God.

Christianity focuses so much on the blessings when we are in Christ which we have received: Eternal Life, a relationship with God, Conquerors of Sin.... etc. So if I am receiving so much now that Christ is the ruler of my life (and trust me I am!) the question is what did I do to earn this? Or even if I want these blessings to continue I better be good and work hard to earn them. This passes on down into if I want God to love me, I have to earn it by _______. (You can insert whatever it may be in the blank)

This has been the scary downward spiral I had been caught into over the past month, I was caught in as my friends and I call it "the pursuit of perfection". If you don't understand what I am talking about please let me explain very briefly. I had been ensnared into the lie that because I had received God's love I better earn it. Almost defaulting back to my basketball playing days in the sense that when I received my starting position my senior year I played and practiced every day as hard as I could to earn it. I felt like each day that I had to be perfect to keep God's love. I knew that Christ died for me, but I thought because he did that I needed to be perfect. However, I am a human so of course I would sin. The big problem is that when I would sin I would beat myself up and be ashamed of myself. I would get in this cycle where I was only happy when I was  in my idiotic eyes "perfect" and the moment I would sin I would battle this shame and feel down.

At this moment I was down for the count, I knew that until Christ perfects me one day in Heaven that I am going to sin here on Earth so what can I do? I was tired of the shame, fear, and perfection seeking faith. I knew that Christianity was so much more than this, and that this dangerous cycle couldn't be the right way! So finally I sought help from my Brothers! What they said and what I read and for the first time internalized is changing my life, I would like to share it now with you!

(Side Note: If you don't have friends that you can bring your struggles and weaknesses to, real Brothers and Sisters that will stand alongside when you are facing attacks, real men and women who won't turn their backs on you and won't give up on you, who love you to much to see you continue to wade in sin; If you don't have some friends like this you are missing out on one of God's GREATEST blessings!)

God's love for us is perfect! It is unconditional, which means that there is nothing we can do to make Him love us less or make Him love us more. When we are in Christ there is no condemnation! Christ came and shed his blood so that by his blood we would be washed white as snow! Christ loves us so much that while we were still sinners he died for us! He came and died for EVERYONE! Not just the good-two shoes!

Finally in the midst of this talk with my brothers and my own searching through the scriptures God yelled at me. He said "Dustin you fool, you don't have to earn my love! I Love You! I love you now, I loved you yesterday, I will love you tomorrow, I loved you when you lied to your friend, I loved you when you accepted my son as your savior, I am consistent and will never stop loving you! There is nothing that can separate you from my love! There is no life, no death, no angel, no demon, no height, and no depth that could ever separate my love from you! You don't have to earn my love, so simply appreciate it!

"You don't have to earn my love, so simply appreciate it!" We as Christians don't need to be perfect to earn God's love, we simply need to live our lives in gratitude of it! Out of that gratitude, our obedience to Christ should flow!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

He chose us

            Hey guys today I ask that you will bear with me as for just this one post I want to set aside the funny stories and analogies in order to focus on something vital and important. I'm not an ultra serious guy but this is one message that can truly change your life, and I don't say that lightly or proudly because as you will soon find out it has nothing to do with me.

            Allow yourselves for a few minutes to be taken into a court room, where you are the defendant and everyone it seems is your prosecutor. You have broken no law, but yet here you stand accused of crimes that can lead to death. After hearing numerous screams and attacks on your character by the crowds the judge then turns to you to attempt to get your side of the story. However, when he asks his question instead of starting to defend yourself you simply remain silent.

           How crazy does that sound? Here you are wrongly accused of crimes you didn't commit, facing the worst punishment imaginable and yet when you have the chance to defend yourself, to stand up and save your own life, you choose to instead remain silent. To not even tell the Judge where you are from, Why would anyone do that? I mean in the words of my Dad when he would catch me in a lie "Boy are you just looking to get whipped?".

         As lucid or unreal as this scene may sound this is exactly what Jesus did in his last few hours before his crucifiction.  We find this very scene in the beginning of John 19, where Jesus remains silent throughout the questioning, only speaking up for a brief second to quickly put Pilate in his place.

         Through my years of studying and going to church and school if there is one lesson I have learned it's this: Jesus was very intentional about everything he did. What may have looked like him going to a random samarian village was really a trip for a woman to meet her savior (John 4). There are countless other examples throughout the Gospels, but that theme got me questioning why did Jesus choose to remain silent? Why didn't he choose to save himself?

         As I sat there frustrated with Jesus for a few seconds because he didn't make a choice, He hit me square in the face and said "I did make a choice Dustin, I chose the cross."

         Talk about feeling like a complete idiot, man there I sat flabbergasted and breathless as I contemplated what I had just heard. That Jesus had the chance to defend himself to avoid the cross altogether but instead chose to remain silent. He chose the cross.

          My mind then raced to the scene in the Garden of Gethsemane where the soldiers come to arrest Jesus, and Peter tries to protect Jesus and in the process chops a soldiers ear off. (Side note, this is one of the scenes in the Bible I really wish I could watch. Something tells me Mike Tyson has nothing on this.) Jesus then heals the man's ear and rebukes Peter saying don't you understand that I could summon angels down here right now to rescue me? Jesus then goes with the soldiers.

          My mind racing at this point, recalling various times in Scripture where it really seems that Jesus time and time again chooses the cross. From a Sunday school perspective I could ration that it was because he wanted me to go to heaven so he had to die for my sins. But that wasn't sitting right in my stomach, I knew there had to be something more. Why choose the cross?????

         "I didn't choose the cross, I chose you" He replied. You want to know why I suffered and endured pain and mockery, it was so that you ,through my payment of your sins, could experience a relationship with the Heavenly Father! John 17:3 tells us "This is eternal life, that you may know God, through the one whom he has sent in Christ Jesus." The word to know there is meaning to know someone due to a relationship you have with them. Frankly Jesus chose the cross so that we could have a real relationship with him!

        Joking aside I asked myself and I challenge you to ask yourself " Is the way I value my relationship with God equivalent with the price paid for it?" If my parents bought me something as a kid they expected me to play with it and use it. Jesus paid the price for us so that we could have a relationship with Him and God through the Holy spirit. Are we using it? Or has that gift just become something we hold onto that collects dust.?

         He chose you! He paid the price for you! Will you use it?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Got Stress? Be Still!

As the college life has gotten into full swing with exams and papers amongst all of the other various devices of torture teachers seem to put students through I have noticed a very familiar look. It's most commonly distinguishable symptoms are: sweating, breathing hard, long exhales, slouched backs, heavy eyelids, and (especially in guys) messy hair. I'm speaking of course of the common crippler of our society known as stress. Now obviously I'm no doctor, so don't expect this to be some sort of medical breakdown of why stress is bad. I simply just want to share a story and try my hardest to give some helpful advice.

It all began in my hustle and bustle of the beginning of the semester, in which after my academic breeze of a Freshman year I was certainly not ready for. I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off, bouncing from class to class, paper to paper, book to book, ministry to ministry; when I felt this drag on my life and my heart. It seemed like no matter how much time I put into all these things, there was always more to be done. I was stretching myself as far as I could go and was barely passing by. It was then that our little friend stress hit me. I was hit with this pressing question: Can you really do all this? My good buddy stress just loved to keep throwing that question at me as I spent the majority of my free time in a theology or psychology book, only to have a ministry meeting that I had to be at in an hour. I was feeling inadequate, insufficient, and even quite frankly pathetic. If I couldn't handle this, how would I ever survive the wears and tears of the ministry God has called me to?

And once again God brought me back to one of his foundations. Psalm 46: 10 says "Be still and know I am God..." As a guy who didn't think he had time to get everything he had to get done to begin with, I thought God was nuts by telling me to take time to just be still. Under the weight of stress, and feelings of inadequacy this just didn't make sense. It was in that moment that it finally clicked what God was trying to tell me.

"Be still and know that I am God" See my biggest problem was not the amount of time in the day, but who was controlling that time. In my head, these were my problems and I had to solve them. There were MY responsibilities and therefore I had to fix them. Looking back I imagine God just anticipating the day i realized my arrogance, that me one of his creatures looking up at him and saying "Hey listen I know you're God and everything, and I know you are all powerful but let me take care of these problems." In my stupidity I had in my mind told God how big my mountains were, instead of telling my mountains how big my GOD is!

And as I hit my knees and begged for forgiveness of my arrogance and ignorance, something strange happened: the weight that had been holding me down and straining my heart was lifted. It was as if God was saying to me "Ahhh finally, I've been waiting on you to ask"

In the midst of the papers, and friendships I had forgotten one basic thing. GOD IS ALL POWERFUL AND HE REIGNS!!!!!!!!!!! He wants to help out his children and he is MORE than able to help out his children. He is just waiting on us to stop running around from distraction to distraction and sit back and ask for his help, to say "God I can't but you can, let me follow you"

So as mid terms are approaching, if you start or are currently feeling the little crippling vermin stress start creeping around. Remember, as one of his children you are not alone. He is your Father, he not only wants to help out his children.... he loves to!!! So like any good child does when they are in over their head, run behind your father and grab a hold of his pant leg and trust that he will make it all right. So simply put if you got stress, be still!!!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Vending Machine Relationship

Very Recently I found myself patrolling the halls of school with the rumbling in my stomach that could only mean one (appropriate) thing: It was time to EAT!!!. One big problem, I had no time to go to the various cafeterias. Therefore I set out on a voyage for every busy stressed out student's best friend..... The Vending Machine. As I approached it I scanned over it's depleted contents and quickly found the crown jewel I'd been searching for: REESE"S PIECES! I paid my money and anxiously awaited as the claws of fate swirled around to let it fall down to the bottom where I could pick it up.

 As I sat in class popping these chocolate covered peanut butter clusters into my mouth I immediately sensed joy. In the place of my stress-inhibited busy school day filled with homework and activities, I found a calming peace and relaxation. It was after I had eaten and inhaled every last crumb that I asserted to myself "Now that's why I bought you." I was extremely satisfied with my purchase.

It was in that moment and over the next several days that I began to contemplate has Christianity sometimes turned what has the potential to be the most powerful life changing relationship in the planet into nothing more than a Vending Machine Relationship.

Please allow me to explain. As you know with a Vending Machine we put our money into it in order to receive our treat, I can't help but wonder looking at my life and others if we don't sometimes do the same with God. We wake up and pray not to talk to God but in order to ask for blessings over our day. To ask for healing for our loved ones, To ask for guidance with our future spouse, To ask for help resisting sin. Then we sit and wait for what we "purchased" through our prayers and quiet time. We read our Bibles not to grow and challenge ourselves but we do it just to be putting more money in the machine. We tell God "Hey I'm here praying and reading now it's your turn to do me a favor."

Have we truly became so arrogant that we forget that God owes us NOTHING!!! He is the Creator that in His great love wasn't content to just sit back and idly watch his creation fall to ruin. He sent his only Son to this earth to live and die for us,to endure the cup of wrath, to literally go through hell for us, to pay the price that we could never pay.

 However the greatest travesty is some of us have even turned the Gospel into a Vending Machine as well. We say "Jesus I'll ask you into my heart, and I'll pray a prayer as long as I get that whole eternal life thing in exchange. Hell sounds like a pretty brutal place God so I'll give you my life as long as I get heaven in exchange."

 " This is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and the One You have sent—Jesus Christ."
This is what John 17:3 tells us. The word know there is the greek word meaning to know someone due to a RELATIONSHIP with them. We have missed the point of the Gospel!!! Salvation is not some meal plan to get you into the cafeteria (Heaven) the true point of Salvation is that we now get to have a relationship with the one true Father. To pray to him in the morning and say as my good friend John Rerick says "God I'm here because I love you".  I want to pray to you and read your Word so I can come to find out more about

 Jesus Christ paid the price for us! He wants a true impacting relationship with us, my heart is that we as the church wouldn't miss out on this. The gift that Paul says all things in comparison are rubbish, the relationship that David held onto through thick and thin, the relationship that enboldened Peter to transform from a denying coward to a passionate preacher. Let's be a generation that pursues that type of relationship, and isn't foolish enough to waste time at the Vending Machine.

Sunday, September 4, 2011


Very recently I sat in a chair listening to a man pour his heart out to students. Some of which were holding onto every word he said, others were more interested in what their classes would hold for them in the coming hours, or some even to busy looking at their phones to pay attention. But what really caught me was the fact that the speaker knew these things but still unleashed his passion. He wasn't going to let stubborn egocentric pompous students relinquish the fire God had placed on his heart.  His message was simple, and his delivery powerful. He simply pleaded that we would feel compassion.

Compassion, that's a funny word isn't it? What do we mean when we say compassion? Is it like love? Or more like that fiery passion we see on our favorite motivational speakers? Compassion is simply feeling so strongly about something that it springs you into action. To not be content to reduce the most powerful word on the planet (love) to just an emotion, but to push the limits and make it a force that drives and spurs you into action. Compassion is not to be confused with what I feel for Krispy Kreme donuts. Now let me tell you I LOVE me some sugary fluffy round goodness they call a donut, and if the red light is on outside I will storm the front doors like a crazy lady on the day after Thanksgiving sale. However, I'm not compassionate for them. I would never fight for them, and even though I might pitch a commercial I would never take a stand and speak on their behalf.

But that is exactly what this man was doing, he was standing up in front of thousands of students with no personal agenda but to simply urge us to feel compassion. His cause was one that struck my heart string and I would like to just pass on a few highlights to you so that possibly we can together spring into action.

In Samaria there is currently a famine going on that has been one of the worst disasters since Katrina. While I was home on college break enjoying my cinnamon toast crunch in the morning and grandmothers home cooking, 30,000 children in Samaria died of starvation. Allow me to repeat that and say that 30,000 CHILDREN DIED!!!!!!!!!!! The worst part is that their death's were completely preventable. Unlike the tragic disaster that was Hurricane Katrina that we had no control of, this deaths could have been prevented if they only had 1/8 of the food we as Americans take for granted or thumb our nose at. And there's more, if we don't act now 30,000 more children will die by Christmas Break. That at what is supposed to be the most joyous time of the year where we are supposed celebrating our savior's birth 60,000 Samarian families will be wrenched by death.

Please judge my heart, I'm not trying to get on a soapbox or lecture or even guilt trip. My mind just goes back to a familiar song we all sang as kids "Jesus loves the little children; all the children of the world; Red and Yellow, Black or White; They are precious in his sight; Jesus loves the little children of the world." My Savior died for these children, and we as a country have been content to sit back and watch them breath their last hungry breaths while we feast on fast food! These children were fearfully and wonderfully made! Designed with a specific purpose in mind! What if in our generational gluttony and selfishness we are robbing kids of the very thing we preach on sundays: Life.

Their are plenty of sites that we can donate on or find out ways to pray for them. But here's what I don't want you to do. Please don't close this blog thinking "That was Good" and do nothing with it!!! I don't want you to think my writing is good, I'm not writing this with myself in mind!!! The word compassion is used 106 times, and they all speak of how God sitting in heaven could have sat and watched us suffer, but because of his great love intervened and rescued us. These kids need rescuing from starvation, we have the ability to help. The question is this: Will we be compassionate?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Taking the Back Seat

         Very recently while I was away working at a Camp (Crossroads what what) my parents informed me of a purchase they had made.... a motorcycle. Now that I'm away at school, they decided things around the house were a little too quiet so they bought a roaring mid-life crisis solving death machine on two wheels. My mom had recently told me how therapeutic it was. Now being a 19 year old thrill seeker I looked at her like she was crazy. A motorcycle being therapeutic? Maybe an adrenaline rush or at the very least a sense of conquering fear, but never in my wildest macho dreams would I have thought of it therapeutic. Seeing my bewildered face she continued to explain. She said that when your on a bike it symbolizes unity as passenger and driver are facing and consequently conquering the same twists and turns in the road together. She also went on to say that there is something so special about just taking off and losing yourself in the back country roads with nothing around you but mountains and rolling pastures. Still not being convinced she gave me a look that said "I'm tired of explaining, just try it yourself." But in my hustle and bustle I forgot all about it.

         Then exactly a week ago as I was preparing to preach for a College Night of Worship service back in my home town, my Dad asked me if I wanted to take a ride. My mind raced back to the conversations with my mother and I decided to give it a try. As I slid onto the back seat I was at first a little cautious and skeptical. Once again being a 19 year old guy, I know the back seat is supposedly the "girl seat" of the bike. Knowing this my pride almost stopped me from missing this experience, however in my 19 year old logic I thought "Well no one could really recognize me through this helmet right?" So with that in mind I sat down and we took off. My Dad leaned back and told me to trust him and to lean with him in the turns. If you have ever ridden on a bike you know that is the opposite of your reflexes. As the bike starts to lean in on the curves you want to lean the opposite way to avoid becoming road rash. So for the first 30 minutes or so of the ride I fought my Dad's instruction because I obviously knew better. After those 30 minutes I found that I wasn't enjoying myself, because I was too busy worrying about what people thought of me or trying to stay alive by doing the opposite of my father's instructions.
         It was after these first 30 minutes that I realized my experience was drastically different from my mother's. I started questioning why. My father was driving down the same roads, through the same country and mountains, and from what I could tell going the same speed. Then my Dad's words rung through my head, "Trust Me. Those are big words, and they are words that are not easy to follow. To give up control of our lives and place it in the hands of another. Something inside me pushed me to heed his request. To let go, relax, and go with him trusting that my father would take care of me. So I started to lean with my father in the curves, I stopped worrying about everyone else and simply let him take the wheel. (Pardon the Pun) And something clicked and a whole new world came alive. Once my mind was taken off of resisting my dad, I saw the true beauty mountains, I saw pastures that made me want to be a cow, and the twists and turns that once caused my strife now were providing times of enjoyment.
         It was in this time of exhilaration that God once again floored me with a lesson. Probably because I was seeing Him all around me, but my mind traveled to Matthew 16:25 " For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for Christ will surely find it." I had heard this verse preached tons of times in church but I think it truly clicked into my mind for the first time in that moment. When I had fought my Dad's advice and tried to do things my way I was miserable. However, when I finally decided to trust my Dad and gave control up to him I experienced thrills and a joyous afternoon I would have missed out on. Sitting on the backseat, I wondered how many experiences like this one I had missed out on by not giving control to my Heavenly Father. The idea of trusting or giving control to someone else is portrayed in a negative connotation but what we don't realize is that by trusting God we experience more freedom than we ever could by ourselves. By taking the back seat and trusting Him to lead us, we will go places and experience things that we never could on our own. By taking the back seat we can cast aside our worries and burdens and grab a hold of  the true unshakable joy that is Jesus Christ. So let's take a page from Carries Underwood's notebook and as cheesy as it may sounds let Jesus take the Wheel, and simply take the Back Seat.

Friday, August 12, 2011


Hey all, this is my first ever blog and I hope that as I continue to learn and tweak my style that you will continue to read. I'm not promising a literary or grammatical masterpiece but what I can promise is a message that I've poured my heart into.

                I want to tell you about a special friend of mine named Zach. He is a bubbly, energetic, and wildly humorous 16 year old. He also was born with the gift of Downs Syndrome. For those of you not familiar with the disease it is a genetic condition that impairs development both Physically and Mentally. However this disease is not what makes Zach special, his special quality is his contagious exuberant joy. Last night as my family and friends (Including Zach's family) gathered around on a porch, we participated in a tradition familiar to most people residing underneath the Mason Dixon Line: a Sing-A-Long. But as I played the guitar and sang my families favorite tunes; Zach ,as he has a knack for doing, instantly turned ordinary into extraordinary. He wasn't content to just idly listen to the strumming of strings or the singing of lyrics. No, Zach got up and started tapping his foot and swinging his hips to the music. When the music was fast he tapped and clapped and swung fast, when it was slow he would show off his slow songs skills, but the one thing that never wavered was Zach's wide toothy grin as he laughed and sung.
                 It was in this very moment that I was hit full fledged in the face. In the midst of Zach's dancing and carrying on was something so much bigger : Joy. True, unshakable, slap-happy joy! Something that is unfortunately so rare in the world today. We often look at people like Zach and feel sorry for him, assuming that they are missing out on something. But I wonder if in all of our "intelligence" if we aren't truly the ones that are missing out. We over-analyze and over-think things to the point where we forget why we are doing them in the first place. In our attempts to improve our lifes, I wonder if we haven't just created more obstacles to distract us from what really matters. If in our thinking and strategizing five year plans we have forgotten about the Foundations of life. Things like Joy in a kid on christmas morning, the Love shared between two star crossed kids on their honey moons, or God's ultimate gift Relationships, and the beauty of a sunrise.
              1 Thessalonians 5:16 says "Rejoice Always".  Is this command to simple for us to follow? Or have we gotten so caught up in ourselves that we forgot what it meant to truly have Joy. Let's take a lesson from my friend Zach. Let's take time to stomp our foot to a good tune, to smile so big that we're in danger of straining our cheek muscles, and to above all else unclutter our mind so we can experience one of Life's foundations: Joy