Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Call To Change

Have you ever known someone who has turned a complete 180 degrees in his or her life? Maybe you're one of those people. I am. As my friends and I were talking about how we've all changed, one friend admitted that he would never have believed that the guy I was two years ago would be who I am now. In another conversation, another friend has also said the same thing. It's true; I'm completely different than I was two years ago. As I look back on how I've changed throughout time, I have to smile as I can now see God's guidance, His timing, and His wisdom. And looking at who I am now, I'm humbled to see how different I am from the spoiled, angry, selfish, foolish fourteen year old that I used to be.

In Ephesians 4:17-24, Paul writes about why it's important to change from a sinner to a child of God. He writes, "17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed... 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness."

If that doesn't make much sense, I've broken it down:

v.17 - Our thinking must no longer be futile
v.18 - The ignorance of the Gentiles (the Godless) made them calloused, blind, and separated from God
v.19 - They (the Gentiles) gave themselves over to impurity and lust
v.22 - Put off the old self, which is corrupted
v.23 - Let your minds be made new
v.24 - Put on the new self, which is created to be like God

Can you see what Paul is saying? He begins his message by telling us to stop wasting our minds and to put them to good use, that use being to use our minds for God. Then, he gives us an example to not follow. He's saying, "You don't want to be like these guys, do you? Their hearts are hardened, they cannot see the Truth, and they are inflamed with a continual lust, a desire that will never be satisfied! What kind of life is that?"

Then he warns us to shed our old self, because that self is corrupted. It's like when your computer gets a nasty virus and you have to buy a new computer. Just as you won't keep using the corrupted computer because it won't work anywhere near as well as a new one would, you won't keep living as your old self, your sinful self, your corrupted self, when you're living for God. Allow yourself to be changed, to be renewed, to be made like Him.

I posted two weeks ago about finding God's will (What Is And Isn't God's Will?), and one of the Scriptures I shared was Romans 12:2, which says, "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." If you're trying to figure out where God wants you to go to college, or if you want to know if the man you love is the one God has picked out for you, or if you want to know how to be a good, Godly father of your newborn, or if you're trying to start a God-movement at your school, you won't be successful unless you've been changed. One of the biggest reasons why it's important for us to be renewed is because we can't serve Him as our old selves. We won't be efficient workers, effective world-changers, or emit-ers of God's light.

As I recently shared in my post Time Wasted In Sin, I shared that I was tired of sinning because when I sin, I felt less able to help others. When I have to spend time repenting and feeling guilty, I lose time that I should've spent reading my Bible, blogging, praying for others, or preparing sermons. I'm just tired of sinning because sin sucks away my time and my mind, and I can't afford to lose either of those things. And what's cool about change is that it's an on-going process. We'll never reach perfection on earth, but as long as we live in the new self, He will always be guiding us, teaching us, changing us. When we're letting God change us and renew us, He is using His hands to mold and shape us into His design, a design personally made for each and every one of us. I don't know about you, but I'd rather live life in the Father's arms than in the dark tentacles of sin.

Follow Paul's call the change. Allow your mind to be renewed. Don't waste any more life as a dead man. Let Christ give you life.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Let It Speak For Itself!

What would happen if your history teacher began to teach from his opinions instead of the text book? Or what if your science teacher taught from her own ideas instead of from known truths? It'd be craziness!

So what would happen if a pastor began to preach from his own opinions instead of from Scripture?

As sad as that sounds, it happens. I knew a few people who tend to preach or teach from their own opinions, instead of from Scripture, from Truth. When this happens, everything goes wrong. Just think of the pandemonium that would ensue! Listeners would hear the wrong message, teenagers would build their faith on the wrong truth, those searching for Truth wouldn't find it, and people might think they were finding God when they were just chasing a hallucination.

When we let our opinions become our beliefs, we stumble. That's why so many churches have disputes about whether to sing songs or hymns in worship, or if the preacher should have a pulpit or table, or if the sanctuary should have chairs or pews, or if teachers in the church should be men or women, or if you should dress a certain way to go to church, etc. The list goes on forever. It's often the case that our opinions keep us from really loving each other. Someone wants to do it this way, someone wants to do it that way, and when no one can agree on anything, bitterness and anger and spite creep in and destroy.

We have to set aside our differences and our preferences and make loving each other the goal instead of having things our way. Because let's be honest: no one is perfect, and thus no one can meet perfect expectations, so don't hold standards of perfect, because you'll be disappointed by everyone you meet.

I believe God has called me to be some kind of preacher/teacher/speaker, and I've made it a personal conviction to preach from Scripture and not my opinions. I hope you've seen that on my blog. I try to not write by airing my opinions. I don't want you to see me rambling about my conjections. I try to blog only from Biblical truth. When I blog about something, don't I usually have several Scriptures to back it up? Isn't my reasoning always sound? Sure I've been wrong before, but am I not prone to being right? Now I'm not trying to say I'm really smart or super-spiritual or anything; I'm just trying to get the message across that I don't want to be known for preaching from my opinions. God's Word is invaluable to me and it's pointless for me to preach from anything besides the Truth.

That said, I get angry when I hear someone preach from opinions. Don't you? My thought process is, I don't really care what you think; I'd rather hear from the Truth. Teach me what the Truth says, not what you have to say. Forgive me if that's stuck up or arrogant, but isn't that how we should feel? Humans aren't perfect, so to hear Biblical teaching from a human standpoint can be, well, erroneous. I prefer the failsafe Truth of the Bible. I want to hear God speak through a man, and that's done through the Word.

Besides, the Word is alive; shouldn't we let It speak for Itself?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Time Wasted In Sin

For a very long time, my motivation to not sin was because I didn't want to be imperfect. I reasoned that Christians should be Christlike, and Christ was perfect, so I should be perfect, so I can't sin. While this looks noble at a first glance, a deeper look reveals a very messed up thought process. First, I can't be perfect. As much as I want to be like Christ, I'll never be perfect. No one can be perfect. Jesus never asked us to be perfect; just to believe, follow, and obey Him. Second, this is completely the wrong reason to not sin.

When someone has a problem with a sin, say, like a girl who constantly throws up to keep the weight off, or like a guy who has sex with a different girl each weekend just to satisfy his desires, those are lifestyles of sin. When we continuously sin the same way, we bear a burden. It's like strapping a boulder to your back. We think self-critical thoughts like, I'll never change. I'm a failure. How could God ever love me? Are we really doing anyone any good living like that?

My biggest struggle has always been lust; sexual temptation. But I stay away from romance to keep sin at bay. Just like a recovering alcoholic won't walk into a bar, a recovering lust addict won't make out with girls or date them. I'm choosing to purify my mind and my heart and my desires because I'm tired of walking around with a weight on my back. I'm tired of those belittling thoughts. I'm tired of letting sin control me. I'm tired of feeling dirty in God's presence, so I stay away from God. When I try to perfect myself, that never works, so I usually just give up and keep on sinning.

My motivation now comes from a desire to help others. God's called me to be a spiritual leader, and I want to be an effective soldier in God's army. I want to serve my friends and show them Christ. I want to be a bright light shinning His glory. And I can't do that when I'm living for sin. It's hard to give the proper amount of time and focus to God when sin is consuming me. So I've decided to love for those sinful things anymore. I don't want to be interested in something that distracts me from the glory of God.

I barely have enough time to blog anymore, and I don't have enough time to read Scripture as much as I want to, and it's so hard to find time to meet with friends for a Bible study. So why waste such precious time sinning? There's no benefit in it! It's pointless and harmful! I'm going to use my time to serve Him. As I said earlier, I can't serve God with my best when my mind is on other things. In order to truly serve Him and others the best that I can, I have to be totally devoted to the Cause.

Jesus said that the greatest commandment is to love God will all our heart, mind, and strength, and to love others as He loved us. In order to follow His commands, I don't want to waste my time in sin.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Blood On Your Hands

In the finale episode of 24: Season 6, the U.S. Military was about to bomb a oil rig because it was housing some very dangerous terrorists. But there was a problem: CTU Agent Jack Bauer, the star of 24, his nephew, Josh, was being held hostage by those terrorists on the oil rig. Obviously, since the oil rig was about to be destroyed, his nephew would die. If you know Jack, he wouldn't accept that. So he went in to save Josh. He, and a friend, took on an oil rig filled with terrorists, killed all of them, grabbed Josh, and flew away in a helicopter just as jet fighters destroyed the oil rig with missiles.

As I was thinking about that, I realized that isn't that like what Jesus did for us? Think about it. I think the situations are almost identical.

God was growing tired of putting up with sin. Eventually, His righteous justice would have to be shown. The world was condemned to be judged. This wasn't the first time either. He did the same thing with Noah. He got tired of sin and decided to wipe the earth of everyone. Everyone, save eight people: Noah and his family. But this time, true judgement would happen. A once-and-for-all trial where every human who had ever lived would stand before the God of justice. In other words, God gave the order to bomb our little oil rig, which we call earth. By doing so, He sentenced everyone to death, to hell, to justice. We sinned, and the price of sin is death, so we had to pay the price.

But the God of justice and judgement is also a God of love and grace. So God sent in Jesus Christ, Himself in human form, to save us. So the Messiah came, in an unassuming form so the terrorists wouldn't suspect Him. He didn't come in guns blazing, but in the quiet. He slipped in among us, positioning Himself to be our Savior. When the time was right, He made His presence known. Though His body was slain, He came back from the dead, and so atoning for our sin. By coming in on a secret-mission, He saved us. By giving His own life for ours, He saved us. With a selfless love, a love that we'll never ever understand, let alone deserve, He saved us.

But what's crazy is that most people will reject what He did. Can you imagine if when Jack grabbed Josh and shouted, "Come on, Josh, let's go!", Josh just looked at him and said, "You're a nice  man and wonderful teacher, but there's no way you can save me. I don't think anyone can ever save me." Can you imagine if Jack showed Josh the helicopter to prove they could escape, showed him all the dead terrorists to prove no one could stop them, and by simply standing there Jack offered Josh hope and life, but Josh chose not to believe it? How foolish would Josh be! To stand in the face of salvation and deny it's possibility is utter foolishness. To stand before a Holy Rescuer and not believe in His power is complete stupidity.

And yet, most of humanity will respond this way to Christ. Jesus came, Jesus proved that He was God's Son, and Jesus promised redemption, love, and eternal life to all who followed Him. But most people will look blindly at what He did and deny even His existence. How sad and sobering! No matter how much we warn them or how we prove that He exists and that the Bible is truth, most people will simply never see.

In Ezekiel 13, the Lord is telling Ezekiel how to warn others about the coming day of judgment: “Son of man, speak to your countrymen and say to them: ‘When I bring the sword against a land, and the people of the land choose one of their men and make him their watchman, and he sees the sword coming against the land and blows the trumpet to warn the people, then if anyone hears the trumpet but does not take warning and the sword comes and takes his life, his blood will be on his own head. Since he heard the sound of the trumpet but did not take warning, his blood will be on his own head. If he had taken warning, he would have saved himself. But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet to warn the people and the sword comes and takes the life of one of them, that man will be taken away because of his sin, but I will hold the watchman accountable for his blood.’"

Basically, God is saying, "If you know the city is about to be attacked but don't warn anyone, I'll hold you accountable for their blood. If you warn them but they chose to not save themselves, what is it to you? Their blood is on their own head. And if you don't warn them, then they have no chance and they will die. But their blood will be on your hands. Warn them, so your hands will be clean of blood." See what He's saying?

Our job as Christians is to warn people. Tell them of the Rescuer who has a helicopter and who has defeated the terrorists!
I don't want to be one who has to stand before the throne with someone else's blood on my hands. I don't want to be the reason someone never heard about Jesus. He's too important to not tell anyone about. By not informing someone of the Rescuer is like condemning them yourself. Don't let anyone die without hearing of His secret mission, the mission that gives everyone a chance to live eternally with Him.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

What Is and Isn't God's Will?

Have you ever asked God what His will is for your life? I do; I ask Him quite often. I think most Christian teenagers want to know where God wants them to go to college and who God wants them to marry. We inquire God, begging Him to know "His will for our life." But what if we're asking the wrong questions?

Scripture clearly defines God's will for our lives. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." And Romans 12:2 says, "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will."

It's God's will for us that we should always be joyful; that we continuously pray; that we give thanks in all circumstances. It's His will that we renew our thinking and be different from the world. When we think of "God's will", we mostly think of His step-by-step plan for major events (such as marriage and college) in our lives. But Scripture says different. The Bible says "God's will" is really how He wants us to live. Paul talks about God's will as something He wants us to do or how He expects us to act.

As Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 4:3-6a, "It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him." It's God's will that we should be sanctified, that we should be sexually pure, and that we shouldn't wrong other Christian or take advantage of them. This is God's will for us. When you want to know what God's will is about which college to go to, or who to marry, or when to have kids, or whether or not to move across the country for a job promotion, or where to go to church, etc., look to see if that path lines up with what Scripture says. If you feel the peace of God about it, go. If not, don't. If you're picking a college, ask questions like, Can I serve God the best here? Is this school's atmosphere one that wouldn't distract me from God? Is this the best place for me to learn, grow, and serve God? If you want to know if a certain woman is your future spouse, ask, Can I serve God better, or worse, with her by my side?

Be careful to not desperately grasp at signs or dreams when deciding which path to take. Nothing is more important than staying within God's will. Choosing the wrong path or choosing the right path for the wrong reasons will lead you down a sinful path that you do not want to take.

Monday, June 13, 2011

From Top To Bottom

A blank piece of paper. Can you think of anything with more potential than a fresh piece of paper? I can do whatever I want to with a blank page. The possibilities are absolutely endless. In my yellow journal/binder, simply flipping the page to a blank, empty, white piece of paper almost always takes a little of my breathe away. I revel in simply thinking of the possibilities I have as a writer on a blank page. Writing is my biggest passion and obsession, so a new page can give me an electrifying jolt of adrenaline.

Every time I click the button to write a New Post, I get the same feeling. Though on a screen, a post is still a blank piece of paper; clay to mold in my hands. And I have a very important belief: Life is short, so don't waste a piece of paper not talking about God. Sure, I could use this blog to post my photography pictures, or discuss the latest sports news, or the latest movie. But I don't want to waste my time and paper on that stuff. I want to spend it on God.

I think we should have that outlook on everything. Seriously, what if when presented with an opportunity to sin, we said, "I can't go see that R-rated movie because I just don't want to waste my time seeing it." "I don't want to listen to the latest top rap song because I'd rather spend my time listening in worship than to waste my time listening to someone sing about the pleasures of fornication." "I won't listen to him tell another perverted joke because I don't have the time to listen to that trash." How weird, how different, how transformed would we be in our thinking if we decided that since life is short, we'd rather use our time doing things to glorify His name than to gratify our desires?

I'd encourage you to not waste the little time you have. Just read part of Ecclesiastes or Psalms to know that life is short, simply a wave in the ocean, a single breath before God. When you are bored and tempted to sin, when it seems like it'd be more fun to sin, when God doesn't seem like He's very satisfying, don't fall into temptation. Life's too short to waste in sin. Our pages are too small to fill with garbage, so fill it from top to bottom with His love.

Don't live for the thrill of sin. Dedicate your time to experience the thrill of knowing God personally.

Friday, June 10, 2011

This Is Where It Gets Cool

So lately, God's been working in so many ways in my life. He's blessed me with an incredible job at Chick-fil-A, and all of my supervisors seem to really like me. I've been working a lot more than I expected, which is great, because I'm getting the hours that I want. It's a delight to work at a place that plays Christian music, where I can serve our Raving Fans with honor, and where I've found so many great friends in my coworkers. I'm so thrilled and humbled to work at such an awesome Christian restaurant and work with such an awesome group of friends.

God also has been working through the church. The youth group of my church, Madison First Baptist, and three other Madison-area youth groups have something called Unite. We meet once a month on a Sunday night to join together in worship, to hear someone speak from the Word, and to fellowship as brothers and sisters in God's kingdom. I can't begin to count the many friends I have now from Unite. The cool part is it's two Baptist churches, one Methodist, and one non-denominational church meeting together. How cool is that?! How often to you hear of so many different denominations meeting together willingly once a month, worshipping God as one body, and actually befriending each other and loving each other? God's really blessed me with Unite.

Also, from Unite, has come B.O.B. and Her. Believe it or not, six kids, representing all four churches, joined together to created a band (their name stands for Band of Brothers and Her, because it's five guys playing the instruments and the lead singer is the girl). Now dubbed the Unite band, the six of them have played three times (four if you count Unite which is this Sunday night) since they joined back in late April. Two of my best friends are in the band, and so I've had the opportunity to hang out with the band and be around them a lot lately.

This is where it gets really cool: The same time the six band members got together and made a band, God had been working in my heart to start preaching and teaching more often. Since two of my best friends are in the band and I've got four really good friends in the band, I talked with them about my passion to speak. Two weeks ago tonight, my best friend (who is in the band and one of two band leaders) and I were talking about it and he admitted that he wanted me to speak through the band. After talking more and getting excited, we went and got the other co-leader of the band and discussed it. The two of them seemed more than pumped to let me somehow become part of the band as a speaker. So we got the whole gang together and talked about it. Everyone all agreed that they really wanted me to become their "traveling pastor", as they put it. They basically wanted me to be their chaplain, a guy who, if they led worship at a church, I might be the guest speaker. I'd also be sort of a spiritual "mentor/friend." I say friend because the word "mentor" isn't right, yet that somehow best portrays my position. Since then, God's done some awesome stuff through the seven of us, even though the band hasn't even played again and I haven't preached yet.

What's more is that in the past few days, God has so blatantly put the desire in my heart to preach. I confess that I have felt hesitant, unsure of that inner calling. I know it's what God wants me to do, and I feel as if born for the role, yet somehow my false humility makes me hesitate. I don't feel quite worthy of such an important role, or I don't feel smart enough, or I feel too crazy for wanting to be some kinda pastor. Put shortly, I don't feel comfortable being the "spiritual leader/teacher." Don't ask why or how, I just don't feel comfortable, in spite that I'm a natural leader and love to be in command. But lately, God's been showing me that it isn't about any of that; God's gifted me, He's impassioned me, and He's opened doors for me. For me to hesitate because I don't feel worthy of a leadership position is simply stupid in light of the many signs that point to this being exactly what God wants me to do.

So my passions have returned to preach, and I feel as if I might explode if I don't do it soon. Yet I'll be at camp for the next six weeks basically, and it's hard to preach when I'm eight hours away. So I believe God is leading me to a time of preparation, a time of prayer, and a time of growth. I feel God's guidance leading me to a time period where I should bathe the band and my future with prayer. I feel like God's going to use my being at Life Action for His glory, to prepare me for what He has in store when I get back in late July. I'm excited because I can't wait for God to teach me, because there's no better place to be than in the arms of Christ.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

As Beautiful As Possible

Have you ever seen something beautiful try to hide, or worse, succeed in destroying its beauty? It's really sad when that happens. It makes no sense for something beautiful to be kept hidden. Beauty should be shown to everyone! Beauty shouldn't try to hide or commit suicide. And beauty shouldn't envy something "more beautiful".

If you don't understand what I'm saying, think of a beautiful woman. Ever see a beautiful woman try to hide her beauty, or make herself ugly, out of a guilt of being beautiful? Or have you seen a gorgeous woman kill herself because she wasn't "pretty enough"?

Does it make sense now?

One of the craziest things to me is when a beautiful girl thinks she's ugly. Almost every girl I know is self-conscience about her appearance, even if that appearance is exceptionally attractive. That's really confusing. And disappoiting.

Girls these days find beauty in the most diverse places. I know pretty girls who wear so much make up that they become ugly. And I know beautiful girls who never wear make up nor do they attempt to dress nice, so they don't ever really look as beautiful as they could or should. Some girls don't wear enough clothes. Some girls wear grungy or tacky clothes. By wearing too little clothing, or unattractive clothing, or too much or too little make up, some girls actually take away from their beauty.

How long until girls start treating their bodies like God's temple? When will girls respect their God-created bodies to dress and look as beautiful as possible? I'm waiting for the day when girls choose to embrace beauty in a graceful manner.

I know too many Christian girls who falsely believe that as Christians, they shouldn't try to be pretty. They misread Scriptures like 1 Peter 3:3-4, which in the NIV, says, "Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight." People read into this Scripture and think, Okay, this passage says that beauty can't come from outer appearances, so let's cover up all outer beauty! No! That's not what this says! Peter is talking about identity here. He's saying: "Don't let your outer appearance define who you are. Just like a guy shouldn't let football, his car, or his muscles become his identity or what he judges his self-value by, girls shouldn't judge her value as a child of God by comparing her features to other girls. A girl doesn't sin when she looks gorgeous; she sins when she lets her beauty define who she is by comparing herself to other girls.

I know many girls who try to uglify themselves simply because she thinks if she looks good, somehow that isn't good.

I'm waiting for the day when girls realize that's okay to look pretty. If God created us in His image, He created us to look beautiful because we all look like Him. Don't hide your beauty. Don't try to deny your beauty out of false humility or insecurity.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Life That's All About God

Last night, I read 1 Peter. It's long been my favorite book in the Bible. So I revisited it last night to remember why I loved it. As the final chapter was wrapping up, one particular verse jumped off the page.

The first four verses of chapter 5 are Peter's advice to his fellow elders. The following six verses are Peter's encouragement to young men. He begins, "Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, 'God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.'" Okay, so Peter starts by encouraging young men to embrace humilty and not pride. Why? It's hard to live a life that's all about God when your attitude is all about you.
The next sentence, verse 6, is the one that means a lot to me. "Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time." You may wonder why this verse is so cool to me. Did you know that every sixteen year old guy wants to rule the world? It's pretty much true. So many of us guys are puffed up with pride so that we each think we're A) invincible, B) important, and C) should be in charge. I'm not exempt. Do you know more than a few guys who are like this? It's all because of pride. Every teenage guy wants to be "lifted up" above the rest.

So why is 1 Peter 5:6 so cool? It's all because Peter promises us young men that if we humble ourselves, embrace humilty, and shun pride, God will then be able to lift us up in due time. I can't count the times that I've selfishly thought something like, "I could be a better pastor than that guy", or "I could be a better leader than him", or "If I ran things around here, I'd be world famous." Reading 1 Peter 5:6 last night made me realize that if I make it big on my own, what does it matter? Because making it big on my own is thumbing my nose at the Almighty God and pridefully shunning His help and plans. By humbling myself and saying, "Okay God, you know best, and I don't. I'll do whatever you need me to do, no matter how big or small. Where do you want me to serve?", then He can work though me because my pride isn't an issue.

Pride is one of the biggest issues in today's American church because pride almost completely separates us from God. After all, it's hard to live a life that's all about God when our attitudes are all about us.

Friday, June 3, 2011

A Bleeding Heart

I need to be clear tonight. I have always been told that I am good at putting my heart onto paper. I agree and to be honest, nothing feels as freeing or energizing as when a writer is able to communicate his heart through his words. But lately, I feel like I've lost that touch. I miss the private, intimate interaction with the page as I pour my heart onto it. Yes, God's been moving in awesome ways, uniting people in love and gaping chasms and destroying walls. But I feel dry. I feel lacking and incomplete. I think it's because I've started to care too much about what people think about me, so I try to reword what my heart is really trying to say. Sometimes, that's very necessary and very good, because the heart is deceitful; who can understand it? But I've let my concern for my reputation get in the way of being me. So tonight, I want to bleed my heart onto this page.

Funny thing about writing is that when a writing screams, his readers hear a shout. When a writer is raising his voice, his readers hear normal conversation. Earlier, I wrote that "I feel dry. I feel lacking and incomplete." In my mind, those words were shouts; they were guttural cries venting my anger. But to you, my reader, perhaps you heard a low voice of desperation. At best, you might've heard me whispering about my issues. And yet I was screaming in anger, trying to make someone understand. Do you hear what I'm saying?

So when I write that I'm feeling dry, I don't just feel dry... I feel so much more.

And if I wrote that I was concerned about some things going on at church, that means things are not good, not good at all. And just in case you were wondering, I'm not talking about my youth pastor leaving. I'm still unsettled about that situation, but there's another problem at church and it's scary at how poorly I think it's being handled. I don't want to point fingers or name names, so I won't. But I'm witnessing something and I've been witnessing something happen for several months and to be honest, I'm learning how not to handle this type of situation by observing how it's being handled. I'm angry because it's a problem that affects me and it affects the rest of the church, and yet it hasn't been addressed.

Now think back to what I wrote earlier. Remember when I talked about the writer screaming but the reader hearing a shout instead? If it seemed that I was a little frustrated and agitated and upset and worried when wrote the previous paragraph, imagine how I really feel.

Now I don't want to wear my anger on my sleeve, because I don't always feel this way. I don't walk around all day in anger. I'm usually a happy guy who enjoys talking to people and making jokes and smiling all the time. But on this topic, yes, I'm upset about how it's going down. And I'm aware of Proverbs 12:16, which says, "A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult." It's just hard to watch this situation stall when something should've been done about it over half a year ago. I'm not showing my annoyance at once. I'm simply righteously angry.

I'd appreciate your prayers. I cannot do much about the situation at church myself, so all I can do is pray and hope for the best.

I have now bled all over this page. Thank you for reading my heart.