Mornings Without Coffee.

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Over the summer, I’ve calmed down on my morning coffee routine. I go out for coffee a lot for meetings, but I haven’t been drinking it every morning like I used to. It was such a big priority in my life. Then I heard a conversation had by my Dad and a friend at camp this summer. They were talking about coffee as a source for people. Its something that we cling to and we become obsessed with. So I listened and of course learned something. So here I am writing about it.

Coffee is good. I love it. It is something that brings people together for great conversations and good times. It also tastes pretty good too.

While its good, its an obsession to many people. Even adults. More so for adults than kids. They need to have it to make their day go by smoothly or for them to be in a good mood. It’s something that people rely on to make them happy or even ready to take on the day. It’s the source many people go to and they constantly rely on this drink for energy.

We live in a  fast paced world. Time is always ticking and we’ve always got things to do, people to please. And if we decided to watch TV or hang out with friends late one night then wake up the next morning feeling drowsy, we go to coffee. Its an easy way to lift our spirits and gives us just enough caffeine to get out the door.

Its kind of crazy to think about. That we rely on coffee to keep us awake for meetings, school… to keep our eyes open after we stayed up all night talking to a friend on the phone… to help us study for a big test or presentation… We base our excellence and success in a day based on if we’ve had coffee or not. Because if we don’t get our coffee in the morning, we obviously can’t be a bucket of sunshine. Duh.

Thats the thing. We may say “I am a grump without my coffee” or “You don’t want to talk to me until I’ve had my morning cup of coffee”. Why is this our excuse? So we can be a grump when we haven’t had our cup of coffee?

Our attitude can heavily rely on this simple cup of coffee so much that we mentally think we can’t have a good day without it. It sounds silly but I caught myself thinking that way. Thats what an obsession does to you. It hides into an everyday routine or thing that is normal and quietly elevates itself into an obsession in our lives.

Coffee does wake us up and can keep us awake when we need it to. The downside of drinking coffee everyday is that we become obsessed with this feeling of being perked up by coffee that we are only nice, alert, or energetic about whatever we’re doing because of this substance we inhale everyday. Not because we’re passionate about smiling to people in the morning and working hard at our jobs or at school or doing well on a test.

Do you see what I’m saying?

Don’t go to coffee to fulfill you. Don’t let that be your source of happiness every morning. It’s just a drink that will fade and will only make you want more. Why go to a source that will always run dry?

I’m not telling you to quit drinking coffee. But I’m encouraging you to reflect on why you do what you do every morning when you turn that coffee pot on. When someone told me this, it made me rethink about my eating and drinking habits. Do I get my source of energy from coffee or God every morning? Am I only filled up with coffee or am I filled up with Him before I walk out the door?

Just something to think about.

Matthew 5:6 

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”

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Making It Big.

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” 
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

 

A lot of my writings come from powerful conversations I have with people in my life. Friends, mentors, my parents… There’s always something we end up ranting about for hours. 

Today I was talking to one of my best friends, who is also a musician, about people’s ideas of making it big in life. Most of us have this idea that in order to be something great in this life, we need to do something BIG. Something that effects many people and is seen by millions. That means my life is significant. Right?

 

Sadly, thats what our minds are fed since we’ve started watching television and picking our favorite movie stars or favorite athlete. We see them doing great things, winning awards, winning the championships, getting interviewed… and we think that means their life is significant and better than the drab lives we live everyday. But what makes a life significant? What does that mean? Let me ask you this.

Is fame the definition of significance? 

 

What I’m going to say is brief. I just want to say it.

 

We all know those people who want to make it big. And we may not just know one but a few. And how many Christians do we know that want to end up in Hollywood being a famous singer? I say this because I hear it so much I feel like theres this big club I’m missing out on. These people say all they want to do in the future is try to make it big and go into the music industry.

I will say “Good for you, good luck” assuming their intentions are to fulfill God’s calling in their life. But there are people who just want to be elevated and famous like most celebrities. Their self is their business. Some people just want to go into business with themselves. 

When people say they want to be a singer or actor or whatever for God, I cringe. There are people that are really called to do that, but there are others that just want the fame. And if those Christians are saying I want to be more like Jesus, their goals in life are far from what Jesus’ were. 

Jesus, the Son of God came here to serve. He didn’t come for the fame or money or even the attention. He came to seek the lost and to serve His heavenly father and die for Him. I wonder how many things Jesus did for others that aren’t even mentioned in the Bible? He didn’t live for the fame. That wasn’t His goal; to become more famous so God’s name would be famous. He wanted people to experience His love and truth by healing and serving others. He wanted to make a way for others to have life and to be with God.

So when people say “I want to be more like Jesus” and they’re chasing fame and fortune, I’m sorry but they’re liars. If fame and fortune is where some people are called, God will bring them there. Chasing after it and revolving your life around fame shows your intentions lie in the fame alone. If your life is revolved around Jesus and you take the opportunities He gives you and achieve fame, that’s awesome. I think that is great. 

All these people that want to make it big and be famous are setting themselves up for a twisted road. They will either spend their whole life chasing something that can’t happen, or will crash and burn when they finally get there. Some achieve fame, but where is the award in fame? I think the award comes with what you decide to do with it.

Probably 90% of us can carry a tune. Most of us can sing. Let’s admit it. We can sing along to our favorite song and hit the notes, thats why people love worship music or going to concerts and singing along. Everyone can do it, whether they sound perfect is another thing. But most of us can carry a tune. But few have a certain presence on stage that is proof of a calling for a life of performing. 

I think a lot of pop artists today are only famous because of their looks and personality. Not because they had the best voice or a gift in music. Any producer or manager can make someone a person who can SELL. But few people just have to step out on stage and sing a song and win the hearts of thousands. We can envy those people, but we can also realize that we all have our own talents that make us who we are just like that person.   

Some people are really good at cooking or baking. Some people are really good at listening and being that person that anyone could talk to about anything. Others are good at teaching others how to play a sport, sing, dance, write, or how to run a business. And some are good at being an At-Home-Parent. We are all called to do different things and are all made for different things. Created by the most talented, we all have something we do that just feels like its where we’re meant to be.

The book and movie “The Fault In Our Stars” has a great message about life. Hazel and Augustus remind us that even though their life wasn’t the greatest and they didn’t effect millions, their lives had worth. I applaud the author of that story. He used the fame of this book to bring that simple yet profound message to millions. We don’t need to be that big person in life who achieves fame and fortune, however that looks, but we can effect those put in our life right now. We are all called to a different location. Some are called to be on the stage, some may be backstage, and some may be in the seats. 

Wherever you are, its significant. You need to know that. Because if you don’t, you won’t be able to fulfill you purpose here on this earth. We all have one and what we do personally effects everyone. And our purpose is not in the far off future, its in the here and now. 

Choose everyday to live out a purpose. Whether that is to share love, serve, be a friend to someone, or make another step towards a goal in life, choose everyday to start over and live out a purpose you have been called to achieve.

 

 

Romans 12:2

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

 

Proverbs 28:6 

Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than a rich man who is crooked in his ways.

 

Matthew 20:28

 ..just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

 

 

Don’t Wait To Fall In Love

(what I learned about relationships this summer).

 

This life that we are living right now is about falling in love. Not with another person. But our Heavenly Father.

 

 

“Because God has made us for Himself, our hearts are restless until they rest in Him.” ~Augustine of Hippo

 

 

We are in a love story right now with God. And He gave us the choice of life and we can choose to recieve that with no cost. It’s free. He set it out as a gift. He wants to love you and give YOU the choice of loving Him back. And even when some say no, He still loves. What an amazing gift.

But know as you are unwrapping this gift, the price lies in what you choose to do with it. If you want to live with and experience this powerful love, it won’t be easy. Like a bride and a groom both need to contribute to their marriage and the same goes for any relationship, we need to give our all in our relationship with God. Can you imagine the price He paid for us? Sending His only son to die… All for this free gift that everyone in the world has the chance to accept and so few unwrap.

True love is patient and kind. It is not boastful, proud, or rude. It does not demand its own way. It never gives up. God IS love. And He gives us this amazing opportunity.

It is an opportunity for true love.

God’s love is true because He has never hurt us, wronged us, forgotten us, or stopped loving us. He sent His son to die for us so we wouldn’t have to be apart from Him. Think about this: He would rather die than live without you.

Something else that blows my minds is this: Jesus knew your name when He hung on that cross. He knew my name. He knew all the people He was dying for. And in that moment, He knew He was dying for the love His father had for us. 

I believe we are all apart of this big, beautiful story where all of our stories collide to see who chooses love at the end of the day.

We may think choosing love with a significant other is the best kind of love there is. That they are the solution to all of our problems. But I say don’t wait to fall in love before you find that person in your life.

Don’t sit around and pray to God for a significant other when you are not at the moment seeking God’s love. The purpose of this life is not to find a person to marry and live the rest of your life with. Its about finding God and finding your purpose here on earth.

Stopping what you’re doing and waiting around for that special person is a waste of time. Falling in love with Jesus takes time and you’re using it on someone that could never fufill you like Jesus can.

One of my favorite authors, Donald Miller, said this,

“Believing in God is as much like falling in love as it is making a decision. Love is both something that happens to you and something you decide upon.”

When you decide to follow Jesus, you give your heart to Him. And then you are taken on this wonderful journey with Him. Its not easy. But is love and relationships ever easy? I took AP Spanish, so I’ll answer this question in Spanish: “No”.

But Jesus is perfect and Jesus is worth it and Jesus loves you more than anyone else can.

So stop waiting for this special person to sweep you off your feet and change your life. They will change your life. But they could change it by helping you grow closer to your Heavenly Father. That person could be your plus one on this journey we call life and they could help make the ride more enjoyable. But they shouldn’t take the place of your relationship with God. They should help you grow closer to Him.  If you’re falling in love with Him and devoting your life to Him, someday He’ll bring that special persons into your life to walk this journey with you. That’s what He can do. But when you get to know God better, you understand that He has a perfect plan and sometimes it doesn’t match with the plan we had mapped out in our heads.

 

When I wrote about the metaphorical “stoplight”, I really meant what I said.

 

At the moment, I’m really focusing on falling in love with Jesus. After I read one of Donald Miller’s books, he said he started reading the Gospels and fell in love with Jesus when he learned so much about Him in these four books, and I wanted that. So I started reading the Gospels. And let me tell you, reading Matthew for the hundreth time was hard at first. I felt like I knew all the stories too well. But that was the thing. I knew the stories. Like the Christmas story, when Jesus fed 5,000, and when Peter walked on water… But now I was really paying attention to Jesus. How He acted, what He said. I learned so much more than just skimming through the stories.

 

Jesus was and is a fascinating and awesome person. He hung out with the outcasts and always spoke truth. I don’t know about you, but someone like that would be refreshing. There’s so much talk and so many lies and so much gossip. But He was perfect and stuck to God’s word. And He was a servant. I don’t know if you’ve ever thought about that. Like… We don’t really put that into perspective. Because if we say we want to be like Jesus and we act so high up and too good for getting on our knees and serving, we’re nothing like Him at all. We’re actually the opposite of what He desired to be on this earth. He served and He was the Son of God.

 

Just imagine if someone like Beyonce or Jay-Z, the most popular couple right now in Hollywood, were seen cleaning toilets at a church or someone’s house. Or if the most popular kid in your school sat by the weirdest kids in your school and risked their reputation to talk to them. 

The difference is Jesus was so contriversial and not everyone believed that He was who He said He was. But He knew who He was and still got on His knees to wash His disciples’ feet. 

 

How amazing is that. 

 

I’m going to be honest and say it would be really easy for me to get up off my knees and wait for someone else to wash my feet. But that’s what makes Jesus different. He wasn’t just a man, He was the Son of God. And I love Him.

 

I hope that before you fall in love with anyone, you see Jesus as your first in your life. I hope that you love Him so much that you only want to honor Him in any relationship you enter. And I hope that you won’t wait to fall in love with Jesus. If you wait for a relationship or marriage to fall in love, you’re going to be really dissapointed. 

 

 

1 John 3:1 “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.”  

Two Masters.

($ and Posessions and Media)

Jesus talks more about money and posessions than anything else in the Gospels. Throughout His life He taught many people with numerous stories to represent the Kingdom of God and what it looks like in this world. He always reminded the disciples and bystanders that you cannot serve two masters. Whether that be money vs. God, relationships vs. God, yourself vs. God or whatever it may be for you, He warned us that it is not possible and is also dangerous to get close to that dividing line.

Having so much could mean so little in this world to the next. Material things are shiny and colorful and pleasing to the eye for a reason: money. Everyone wants money. Everyones wants comfort. Everyones wants the perfect future they’ve pictured in their heads their whole life. Why?

These material things are made to look like fufillment. They are advertised to look like fufillment. To taste like it. To feel like it. But you know what? The people that are tying to sell you the houses, cars, clothes, jewelry, and credit cards are also reaching for this false sense of fufillment themselves. They want you to pay them a whole lot of money so they can do the same thing and spend it until their hearts are content.

It is a circle.

You also see people with lots of money and posessions giving to charities, orphans, the ill, etc. We all see it. Thats my point.

In Matthew 6 it says,

“Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others…”

Many times we are caught doing that. Its easy to do this when you’re very involved in a church or you’re trying to display a certain image or both. For me, it was getting involved in church a lot. When I started getting involved with church all the time and church people were my friends, I wanted to prove something to them by how much I serve or give or do. Sooner than later I saw a path behind me of service and good deeds that didn’t produce “fruit”. The seeds I thought had planted were not planted right. Those seeds were for approval from man. Not God. Its always important to check our hearts when we take a close look at why we do what we do. Why do we give? Why do we serve?

Trying to portray a certain image is a lot of work. Its all about making sure you’re wearing the right thing and saying the right things and talking to the right people. I don’t know when identity started falling into the hands of man, but its something that has happened to many of us in our lives. We worry about what people are thinking and saying about us.

Sometimes we want our identities to latch on to someone else’s. Sometimes its someone rich and famous. They look like they have it all. They have security, they are loved by millions and love themselves. When we see that, we may think we want that.

I see a lot of people loving a celebrity so much that they start to identify with them. They tweet them, they follow them, they talk about them, and they think about them a lot. This perfect person is displayed on a screen where you can hit replay on their videos on Youtube all day long.

Sometimes its a cute guy or a girl that is a perfect candidate for someone if they were on their own season of “Bachelorette” or “Bachelor” (if you know what I’m saying). Sometimes its an athlete that just seems too cool for anyone. Sometimes its a person who is really talented at what they do so we want people to know that we follow them.

Its crazy that people can associate themselves with what celebrity they like the most. How the fans will instantly cling to only their celebrity’s entourage. Some fans even become enemies against other fan groups… The power of one famous person is efficacious. Am I saying its a good or bad thing? I’m just saying its crazy to me.

Celebrities, entrepeneurs, and millionares are heroes in the world’s eyes for doing what they do best. It could be starting a worldwide company, making a movie, singing, dancing, or creating an App on the iPhone. That person and their managers/partners are always seeking opportunities to get their names known in the media. Its about spreading word of their name or company. Most of their lives are lived for making their name known whether that name be a company, and app, or their actual name.

We do that too. Social media is the easiest way to get known. The easiest way to get attention as well. We hastag and follow and post just the right picture to spread word of our names.

With this power we have to spread word throughout media, you’d think it’d be so much easier for Christians to spread word of God’s name. With the accessability to do so, it seems to be easier to spread word of our names. Yes, there are many faith-based accounts dedicated to God, but there are also MANY more Christians that use their accounts for very different reasons. Those reasons could include lifting themselves up. I don’t know you but you do. When you post a picture, you know your intentions when you click share. Media is powerful and effective. A lot of the time we use this resource to make ourselves look fun and happy and hot and likeable. We want our names to be known and remembered. But why create your legacy online with pictures or posts? Why not create a legacy with things you do?

 

“Music can change the world because it can change people.” -Bono.

 

Music is one of the most powerful and influential pieces of media. Pop artists have that influence in the sweaty palms of their hands. They give their talent back to the world with what they create, sell, and perform. But what I see is and hear is not giving. I see artists lifting themselves up along with sex, money, drugs, and the list goes on. The lyrics are about the artist in some way, shape or form.

To me, most of the time, these pop songs don’t look like giving. We look up to these people so much and all they are doing is taking. Taking our money and time for lifting themselves up more.

Not all celebrities are like that but a lot are. You can tell by the messages of their songs. I don’t get celebrities that go on and on and on about how deep their music is and the meanings behind it when the lyrics describe a party where everyone is wasted and doing whatever the heck they want.

I realize some people that read this may get defensive because they have a certain celebrity in their mind that they love and don’t want anyone bashing on. You might be trying to defend them in your mind. If thats you, hear me out.

The only reason I am talking about celebrities is because of their influence on this country and in this world. We all have our favorites that we follow and ocassionaly tweet @ them… But if we’re trying to defend our favorite celebrity by saying, “ALL of their songs/shows/movies aren’t great but he/she is such a genuinly good person” we’ve allowed that power and influence to stear our minds into accepting things the world says is okay. And when we think these things are okay, then we start loving these people even more and turn them into idols.

Obsessing over people, material things, or money leaves an empty hole where we fought so hard for fufillment. Lifting ourselves or material posessions up will only bring ourselves down to a level where we rely solely on temporary things. Its a bottomless pit that desires to be filled up when in fact, its impossible for that to ever happen.

What we feed ourselves effects what comes out of us. I’m not talking about food even though its still true for food (gross). I’m talking about the media we take in and the ideas of looking good and having a lot of money. Wanting to look good while doing good things is worthless and empty. Give because its a good thing and we serve a good God. Don’t hold on to money and identity so tightly that it weighs you down, pulling you farther away from all the things you can do for the Kingdom of God.

Giving is so important according to Jesus. And if we do good things for approval from others or for an identity, the bad intentions behind a good thing decreases the value behind that good thing. Why give if all we’re wanting to do is recieve in the process? That’s called taking and we learned about that in Pre-School. We should know the difference by now.

Matthew 6:1-4

Obsessions.

~ROMANS 1:25 – They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator–who is forever praised. Amen.~

The last month cannot be summed up into one word. I was trying to think of what to say when people ask me “How was your summer traveling with NTS Camp?”

Nothing in me wants to be that person that says, “It was good!”

It wasn’t good. It was challenging, tiring, stressful, long… but it was a blast. I grow so much every year I travel with my family and with the NTS staff. The people that we meet and the places we go are all apart of an amazing story of how God allows paths to cross each other at these places where churches meet to meet God.

This camp isn’t the normal ‘Vacation Bible School’ kind of camp. NTS is pretty crazy. There is a lot of screaming and cheering for anything the MC/Host says on stage, a lot of games for points that go to a team color (and the winners get a pretty gigantic trophy), there is a lot of conversation and learning and growing, and there are amazing moments of worship.

Worship is always my favorite part of camp. I love when voices join together and lift up their instruments to God. It’s simply beautiful yet so complex. The hearts that are singing all have something different happening inside of them as they sing those words on the screen.

My good friend Rachel, a college student who traveled with us from camp to camp, reminded me of the amazing complexity of everyone’s stories uniting together when we sing together. Every single person could be singing the words: “It is in Your hands” with a different perspective on the meaning. It could be:

-a relationship
-death
-illness
-college
-money
-an obsession

This year’s theme of camp was obsession. The speakers and leaders taught about the things that we hold so dearly to in this world that become so thought consuming that we often times put God as #2 or farther down on our lists. Our lists show us what is most important to us, what we spend our most time doing. That is where our heart lies.

Many students confessed their obsessions on a transparency sheet that was displayed on an overhead in the sanctuary. These confessions were anonomous but at the same time were messages to God, saying that they were giving whatever their obsession was to Him. They were letters that became a part of their story. Letters that could have changed their lives.

Drugs.
Sex.
Phones.
Social Media.
Sexuality.
Relationships.
Spouses.
Money.
Myself.

These were a few of the letters written that were displayed. These were the things students and leaders were calling their obsessions.

What’s yours?

What do you think about most throughout your day and before you go to bed? What is your last thought? I don’t know if you’ve ever thought about your thoughts. Our thoughts leave a mark on our souls and lead to either destruction or lead to the light. Brian Houstan said,

“What you allow to occupy your thinking has a powerful impact on who you are and what you become. If you want your life to flourish and prosper, start by looking at what is going on in your though-life.”

Its something to think about.

Over the next week, I’m going to be writing about some obsessions that were covered at camp and some that were not and how much I learned about these topics. I learned that I have many obsessions and have to learn how to give God my ALL. Not just the things that are easy and may not seem like a big deal. After this summer, I wouldn’t have thought twice about how much I really obsess over little things and create idols. It doesn’t always feel like an idol to me. Sometime these things feel necessary for life.

Then I was reminded of God the provider, the one who wants to give us all we need and fufill us. He is the only one that could ever satisfy and is the one who brings life. So He is necessary for life. Not all these other little things that I worry about. Breaking down the walls of pride will allow you to see the idols hiding behind those walls that may have covered it up as an “okay” thing.

What is your obsession.