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".