jump to navigation

My Rock. . . November 20, 2008

Posted by Nate in Church, Friends, Personal, Scripture musings, Spirituality.
2 comments

I wish I could put into words the kind of emotional roller coaster I’ve been on these last couple weeks. Life has been so unstable, and I feel like the portion of my life spent in turning the page to “Chapter 2” can be defined as a huge trial.

Those of you who know my personal struggles would call me sheltered or naïve. What I’m going through right now pales in comparison to what many are dealing with. Perhaps I am sheltered. I thank God that I haven’t experienced some of the trials my friends have experienced. But those of you who know me well also know that I have a tendency to bear the trials of others. I carry their weight on my shoulders and suffer their pain as if it were my own.

I had no idea just how earth-shattering the transition to “Chapter 2” would be for me. Or that one person could impact my life so profoundly and be the catalyst for the change. Thanks to one person, my life looks nothing like it used to, and the course I travel will never be what I had envisioned.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited to see what God has in store, but I feel like I’ve lost all stability in my life. But I know I can find it again.

God promised that, even though life may be completely unstable, he is an immovable rock. The prophet Isaiah wrote these words:

“Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness,
you who seek the Lord:
look to the rock from which you were hewn,
and to the quarry from which you were dug.

In all the instability of my life, my God, my Creator, my Originator, the Heart from which I was born—He is completely stable. And no matter what comes into my life, He will always be there.

We used to teach the children at Liquid Kids the song “My Rock.” The chorus is as follows:

You are the Rock
You are the steady and unchanging
The way You care for me is wonderful, amazing
I can depend on You, trust in You, rely on You
You are, You are my Rock.

No matter how unstable my life becomes, no matter how many times I turn the page to “Chapter 2,” no matter how difficult those page turns may be, God is my Rock.

Advertisements

God, the Lover. . . October 22, 2008

Posted by Nate in Personal, Spirituality.
1 comment so far

Imagine a scandalous love affair. One where a woman, unsatisfied with her husband’s provision and care, turns to a stranger to find the passion that seems to not exist in the promise made between her and her groom. The stranger enters her life, promising passion, affection, and desire. She opens the door of her heart to him, and he walks in offering her hope.

She also opens the door of her husband’s heart to him, and as he walks in, he carries with him an arsenal of weapons. He destroys everything. He ravages the innermost fabric of the husband, leaving him broken, shattered, and lost.

Who opened the door?

I did.

Every single day.

When God whispers to me, “Return to me. I’ve paid the price for your freedom.

I open the door to that scandalous love affair when I forget my God.

When I put my own desires, pleasures, and needs in front of Him.

When I love myself more than I love Him.

When I ignore His children. . . the weak,

the poor,

the broken.

I break the heart of God. And I crucify the God-Man over and over again.

Because He died for the weak, the poor, and the broken. And when I, the Christ-follower, forget those whom He died for, I nail Him to the cross again,

with my own hands.

I break His heart when I seek fulfillment in secret evil pleasures like porn,

drunkenness,

promiscuity.

I break His heart when I long to connect with friends and family

more than I long to connect with Him.

I break His heart when my hobbies (books,

video games,

music,

movies)

replace His love for me.

I open the door to strangers and let them tear apart my true Love’s heart.

Is it not sufficient? Is His love not enough? Or must I find something else to satisfy? Must I elevate the gift above the giver? Will I find fulfillment in knowing more about a flower or in getting to know the gardener? Can I fall in love with the uplifting and encouraging words of a woman, or can the woman herself suffice?

Is the love of God more captivating than the Lover-God?

When the woman returns to her husband, he has lost no love for her, and he reaches to her with outstretched arms because he still wants her. Because he still loves her.

Because He still wants me. Because He still loves me.

Rediscovering me. . . October 13, 2008

Posted by Nate in Friends, Personal, Scripture musings, Spirituality.
2 comments

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

~James 1.2-4

I had a bit of a wake up call last night. I guess you could say I’d forgotten who I am. The last few weeks have been a struggle for me, and I sensed God withdrawing his presence from me. Or so I thought.

When I start to feel alone like that, I begin to withdraw and wallow in self pity. That sucks because I’m a pretty fun-loving guy. It’s a sad irony. I begin to feel lonely, so then I start to do things that make me feel even lonelier. Where’s the healing in that?

For example, a few weeks ago I was hit with some pretty disappointing news. It was tough to swallow, but I got it down and was able to move on with life. Sort of.

Since I never fully addressed the pain that I had experienced that day, it began to plague me for the following weeks. And as the pain intensified, my sense of vulnerability increased, as did the feeling that God was pulling away from me.

It’s a scary feeling. Because I knew in my head that it wasn’t true. God promised to never leave me. Then why did I feel like he was doing just that?

I think it was because he was strengthening me. He was stretching and expanding my capacity in order to make me more mature. What I interpreted as his withdrawal from me was his allowance of stronger attacks on my soul in order to intensify my resolve.

But in the heat of the moment, I didn’t make this realization. So I pulled into myself and allowed the pain to engulf me. I even grew slightly masochistic and slowly cut off some of the friendships I really wanted to flourish.

So there I was—a lonely, self-deprecating shell of the man I had been, and a distortion of the man I was supposed to become.

So why James 1? It began with a “faith-quake.” God decided to send something into my life that would shake up my faith in him. I hadn’t questioned my faith for a while, so it seemed fitting that a trial should come along. The aftershocks were just as harsh, attacking me at my weakest points: my obscenely strong desire to connect. And it was painful.

God had just one word for me: “Persevere.”

“What?! You mean, in the face of all these trials, you want me to suck it up and keep going?”

“I am with you,” he told me.

“So you’ve said before,” I replied.

“Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see my glory?” And then he hit me with it. “I began something good in you, and I will be faithful to bring it to completion. . . Even if you are faithless, I will not lose faith in you because to do so would be to disown myself.”

So what was the wake up call? A few harsh words from a friend of mine that opened my eyes to an amazing truth about myself: I am loved. That’s who I am. That’s who I’d forgotten.

It’d have been nice if she’d simply said, “I care about you.” But sometimes the brusque way is the better one. We learn about ourselves through the ugly honesty of those who truly care.

King Solomon wrote that “wounds from a friend can be trusted.”

The wounds weren’t really all that bad, but thanks to those harsh words, I’m pretty sure now that I have at least one friend. 🙂

I’m not quite myself just yet; that “faith-quake” shook me harder than I’d initially thought. But thanks to some “wounds from a friend,” I’m on the path to rediscovering myself.

Who I want to be. . . October 3, 2008

Posted by Nate in Personal, Spirituality.
add a comment

It’s difficult to put into words the string of emotions I’ve experienced over the last several days. I can say this much: the week hasn’t been an easy one. Oddly enough, the major struggles in life are the ones that make us grow. If it weren’t for the hardships, we would never mature. We would never become the people God desires.

Paul wrote these words to the church in Philippi: “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion.” In the very next paragraph he begins to talk about his imprisonment.

I’ve found that to be a huge source of encouragement. Paul basically says: “You’re going to grow. You’re going to become the people you were meant to be. I’m on that same journey; in order for me to become that person, I have to go through chains.”

So I look forward to becoming that person. I know who I am, and I know who I want to be. And in order for who I want to be to become who I am, I’m going to have to go through many difficult circumstances.

Malls, Mexican food, and men. . . September 14, 2008

Posted by Nate in Friends, Personal, Spirituality.
3 comments

Who would have thought an afternoon doing some shopping at the Garden State Plaza and topping it off with a great meal at On the Border would yield a conversation about discovering who God wants us to be?

During the course of our dinner chat, my buddy Matt brought up an interesting thought about mankind’s primary relationships. He is first to connect with his Creator, for this is the chief of humanity’s priorities. He is then to connect with the woman, for this is the creation God designed intently and specifically for the man. All other relationships must take backseat.

As he talked about man’s responsibilities and purpose in relationship, my other friend Courtney brought up a frustration that most women have with men: they don’t step up. They’re weak and unwilling to follow their dreams of changing the world for Christ. They’re unwilling to become the men after God’s heart that they were designed to be. They’ve lost the will to be men.

As a group of single twenty-somethings, the natural inclination for us was to discuss how this affects our past and potential relationships. So let me follow that train of thought for a bit.

God designed us as sexual creatures. He placed His image on our lives in many ways, and our connection to each other on the sexual plane is just one of the myriad ways He’s done that.

Think about the idea of God loving the world. He longs to connect with the world, to share His joy with all of Creation. But Creation has not known or seen His love or is unwilling to experience His joy. So He places His Son into the hands of Creation and hopes that Creation accepts His proposal of love.

Parallel that with the man in his love for the woman. He longs to connect with the woman, to share his joy with her. But the woman doesn’t know his love or is unwilling to experience his joy. So he places his heart into the woman’s hands and hopes that she accepts his proposal of love.

Ironically enough, the woman wants more. And she deserves more. Like Courtney said, men have lost their willpower. We know what it means to be a good Christ-follower—trust Jesus and love others. But we’ve forgotten what it means to be a good man.

I know her frustration all too well.

I’ve dreamed big. I’ve longed to serve God with all that I am. I’ve desired to follow in the footsteps of men like King David, King Josiah, the Apostle Peter, and the Apostle Paul. Everything inside me cries out to God to allow me the opportunity to do great things for His Kingdom.

But I’m afraid.

I’m afraid, not because of outside forces or society’s push. I am determined to stand strong against that. I’m afraid, not because my friends may think I’m crazy to attempt such incredible things for a God I can’t even physically see. My friends would support me 100% in such an endeavor.

No, I’m afraid because of myself. I’m afraid because I know my flaws and my failures. I know my sins and my selfishness. I’ve seen myself falter time and time again.

That is why I’m afraid.

I dream to take on the world. I dream of doing great and innovative things for the Kingdom like Scott Harrison at Charity: Water, Tim Lucas at Liquid Church, and Shane Claiborne at The Simple Way have done.

But I’m afraid because I’ve seen where I’ve been and what I’ve done. I’ve been trudging through the mire of lust, barely able to come up for air. I’ve sloshed through the swamps of pride and selfishness, weakened by the downward pull of upward desires.

But worst of all, I’ve suffered through the guilt of my sin, and I’ve been robbed of my dreams. I’m afraid of the evil that I’m capable of.

So to all the “Courtneys” out there—women longing for men who will lead them, boys who are looking for men who will mentor them, and other men searching for strong men who will guide them—I have one request for you: pray for us. Pray not that we’ll come into your lives, because odds are we’re already there. Pray that we’ll overcome our fear of ourselves. Because when we overcome that fear, we’ll finally step up. We’ll become the leaders you want us to be.

Because I, for one, want to dream big again.

But this time, I want my dreams to come true.

Under the steeple. . . September 11, 2008

Posted by Nate in Church, Friends, Personal, Spirituality.
2 comments

Tonight is eerily quiet. Yet in the silence, a deafening collision has taken place. Two worlds—that of a simple, unassuming, sheltered life; and the world of unspeakable pain, betrayal, and abandonment—have crashed into each other.

I guess I had no idea what I was in for when God brought me to Liquid Church.

Real life isn’t all smiles, hymns, organs, and a big steeple.

Real life is broken. It’s ugly. Consider yourself fortunate if you haven’t dealt with substance abuse, a cheating lover, rape, alcoholism, suicide, physical abuse. . . need I continue?

So I have to ask myself, Is this the world I want to set foot in?

Am I ready to face the ugliness?

I’m not gonna lie; my own life is full of its ugliness. Lies, deception, addiction. But suddenly my brokenness pales in comparison. My life was truly sheltered.

So what’s it gonna be? Am I jumping in? Or am I running back to what’s comfortable? Maybe I prefer the organs, hymns, and steeple. Where secrets are kept locked away for fear that the parishioners will shun, and the elders will discipline. Where relationships are skin-deep because no one knows the real me. And no one knows the real me because the real me will get the fake me into trouble.

Keep smiling, everybody. God loves you. And so do we. . . as long as you’re not broken.

Or maybe I should embrace the ugliness. Where secrets can safely come out because people embrace the pain, and they mentor and suffer alongside. Where relationships connect at the heart because people know the real me. And people know the real me because the fake me doesn’t exist.

It’s scary because I’m vulnerable now. We all are. We’ve admitted that we don’t have it together. We’re afraid because we think that we’ll lose each other if we expose our brokenness.

Because that’s what happened under the steeple, isn’t it? We lost friends because the real us wanted to come out. We were judged, ridiculed, laughed at, scolded, disciplined.

Misunderstood. Rejected. Scorned.

So maybe this messy life is where I belong. After all, the first step to healing is admitting there’s a problem. I always thought it was strange how no one ever had problems under the steeple. And those who did weren’t far from disappearing.

No wonder people are afraid of the Church.

Transition. . . September 4, 2008

Posted by Nate in Personal.
1 comment so far

My blog has been, to this point at least, a very detached blog. I’ve spent a lot of time on each entry, poring over words, agonizing over just the right verb, stressing over modifiers. . . But I think from now on I’m going to introduce a new face to this blog.

I’m not doing away with my overly thought out blog entries, but I think, in the favor of actually keeping you updated on the goings-on of a twenty-something in New Jersey, I’ll try my hand at the layman’s blog. I’m not yet sure how I’ll go about this, but regardless, I hope you’ll enjoy.

Thanks again for reading!

God bless!

Be back soon. . . September 2, 2008

Posted by Nate in Personal.
add a comment

It’s been a little while since I’ve posted anything. I had a pretty rough week that included a couple big emotional upheavals and one major physical upheaval. I’m still not quite at 100%, but I’m getting close, so stay tuned for an update. I promise, I’ll get back to writing as soon as I feel able.

God bless, and thanks for reading!