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?"