Be mindful of what you pray for…it might actually be answered.

There is song by the Contemporary Christian Artist, Tenth Avenue North, called “Don’t Stop the Madness” that goes like this:

Don’t stop the madness
Don’t stop the chaos
Don’t stop the pain surrounding me
Don’t be afraid, love, to break my heart
Just bring me down to my knees

This…is a very bold prayer to pray.

The past few years were filled with suffering and pain of divorce, depression, and personal defeat. However, it was during those times that I felt true dependence and deep intimacy with God.

In the past seven or so months, things started to “clear up”. I felt like my life was starting to look up for me. I got a job post-graduation, my mom is settling in to her new life. My dad is remarrying. I was getting better grades. I was healthy physically. Financially I was doing fine.

Life was pretty peachy. But something just didn’t feel right.

I was missing that deep intimacy with Christ that I felt during those past years. I heard “Don’t Stop the Madness” and the plea for growth and intimacy that the speaker longs for.

So that’s exactly what I did. I prayed that same prayer, “God, please do what it takes to bring me to my knees.” I want that again. But, at the time I don’t think I fully realized what I had prayed for or that God would really answer. I was asking the God of the Universe to do what he saw fit to bring me to my knees. Talk about a range of possibilities…

So fast forward to about a month ago. Things were still going great. However, it all changed in one weekend. I was on the way to Pittsburgh with my (then) girlfriend and we got in a wreck on the highway. My car was less than a year old…I rear-ended someone, leaving my car in less-than-stellar shape. As I sat in my car shocked by what just occurred, I was thinking to myself, “You have got to be kidding. Seriously?!” I had never been in an accident, or for that matter gotten a ticket.  So besides the stress of just getting in a wreck, I had no idea of how I was going to pay for the accident.

A brief synopsis of  my weekend:

  • I totaled my car and didn’t know how I was going to pay for it
  • The relationship I was involved with, ended. (unrelated to the accident btw)
  • AND I had to write a seven page paper by Monday morning

Let me tell ya…it was a GREAT weekend.

Why this? Why all in one weekend? Why now? Things were going so well.

That next week, I heard “Don’t Stop the Madness” again by ‘accident’. Then I remembered what I had asked the Lord to do. I was dumbfounded. My crazy prayer was actually answered. This was exactly the opportunity I was longing for the Lord to present. His grace was present in ALL these things. My perspective did a 180

All this to say: Pray BIG. God wants to answer his Children’s pleas. (John 14:14) All we have to do is approach him with faith. But don’t be surprised by His answer!

He wants to see where our hearts are at in the midst of trials and the craziness of everyday life.

I wish I had the space to tell you how I saw God’s grace in the midst of everything. IT WAS INCREDIBLE.

 

 

So, are you willing to pray bold prayers? Disclaimer: Be mindful of what you ask, it might be answered.

 

 

God is good. All the time God is good.

Peace ‘n blessin’s,

Nate

 

 

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Perfect purity

Perfect purity.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Perfect purity

“But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people” -Ephesians 5:3

 

Last week at a bible study that I went to with guys on my hall, an illustration was used which I thought was, in my opinion, one of the most challenging reminders I have ever heard. At the beginning of our time together, there were a few plates of freshly baked, homemade brownies passed around. Of course there was rejoicing and we gladly partook (some more than others) (I may have had a few too many…). The chocolatie goodness was too hard to resist. I ate them without question. I do like good brownies…

As we were scarfing them down, we discussed Ephesians 5:3 and how we can strive for living our lives amidst a world that is swimming in impurity. One can hardly even turn on the TV without seeing some form of impurity, whether it’s cursing, crude joking, half-dressed women, etc. We’ve all seen, heard, and condoned it at some time in our lives.

How much is a “hint” of something? Not very much right? For example, it only takes one drop of food coloring to make a glass of water not its natural color. Just like a tiny bit of yeast leavens the whole batch of dough, so does just a little bit of impurity. One of Satan’s favorite lies he loves to tell believers is, “Go ahead. One time won’t hurt you. Doing _____ will feel good and no one will never know. Just don’t do it again.” …As Elf says to the fake Santa Clause in the department store, “YOU SIT ON A THRONE OF LIES!”.

In the middle of our discussion, the leader had us pause the discussion for a moment to ask us a question, “What would you do if I told you that there was poop in the brownies? I mean, it’s only a little bit, so there wouldn’t be too much in yours, but still there is some. Does that make a difference to you?” Immediately, I started to feel disgusted. “How could he do that to us?! That’s disgusting!”

Do I have that same reaction to the impurity that I encounter in my life everyday?

Sadly, the answer was ‘no, not all the time’. It was like an arrow pierced my heart and opened my eyes. I was SO convicted. What do I need to do to strive to “perfect purity”? Three things come to mind:

  1. Set feasible boundaries and have others hold you accountable (Gal. 6:1-2)
  2. Surround yourself with friends who are like-minded as you in this fight (Proverbs 27:17)
  3. Fight temptation with God’s Word (Psalm 119:9, 11)

 

God calls us to freedom, he wants us to walk in freedom, Christ lost his life for us so we can have freedom. God promises to “provide a door of escape” (1 Cor. 10:13). By God’s grace and the blood of Christ we have been set free from sin, death, and hell. So take heart and keeping fighting the good fight!

 

FYI-The brownies didn’t have poop in them.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Church, Psychological Disorders, and Part of My Personal Journey

I want to open up with the clarification that I am a strong believer in the power of God’s Word. Personally, if I didn’t have God’s Word in my life, speaking truth to me in the midst of my disorder, I don’t know where I would be or what I would be like.

I also, would like to note that I will be sharing part of my past experiences with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. I don’t go into intricate detail, but if you need to know more, feel free to ask.

So, that being said, let’s dig in 🙂

As you and I both know, there seems in a lot of churches (not all by any means) that separate psychology and religion…or even just discount psychology all together. Personally, I believe that the two should be intricately balanced and that psychology should be viewed through the lens of what we know about God–the same way we should view chemistry, biology, history, etc. However, that is not the argument I am trying to make. How should leaders and people in the church respond to individuals that struggle with depression, bi-polar disorder, self-harm, etc? 

First off, I think that it is the church’s responsibility to be educated on mental disorders and on what various orders look like, especially ones that we are most likely to come in contact with like eating disorders, autism, depression, ADD, ADHD, OCD, and bi-polar. Knowing that we are part of God’s created order, it is our duty to learn about the world around us, including that of abnormal brains, thought patterns, and behaviors of those around us.

So, if an individual comes to a leader of a church and confesses to them that they have been dealing with violent thoughts of hurting their spouse or other people, we need to be gracious and comforting with them, realizing that this may not be some deep rooted sinful desire to hurt others, and then urge them to get the help needed. We need to be supportive and realize that there is a strong possibility that this is not merely a spiritual matter but primarily a physical one as well. It is imperative that the church is educated and unified that when an individual has an issue it is not solely a spiritual one. Being physical entities as well, we have tangible issues that need to be dealt with in kind. For example, when an individual is going through a period of depression, I believe it is unacceptable for Christians to simply quote scripture and tell them that we are not supposed to “be anxious about anything but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present you requests to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” and then send them on their merry way. By doing so, we would completely ignore and bypass the physical needs of the individual who is clearly in distress. Now, I do believe that God’s Word is powerful and I am by no means intending to limit its power in our lives. I just believe that we need to simply acknowledge and deal with the physical side of mental and psychological issues.

From personal experience, I was diagnosed with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder as a fifth grader when I started having thoughts of hurting my mother and exhibiting compulsions as well. I was first taken to talk with my pastor about what was going on. Let’s just say it was not something that particularly helped me–in fact, it made me more anxious than I already was. The thoughts and compulsions only started to recede when I went to a mental health professional to get the therapy that I needed. I think the strongest response against mental disorders like OCD, depression, and bi-polar is the combined use of God’s Word and the therapy provided by mental health professionals.

That being said, I also believe that just because an individual is diagnosed with a disorder, it means that it defines who that person is. By this I mean two things: 1) the label of the disorder should not be used as an excuse for an individual’s actions, simply used for us to understand the current state of the individual and how to treat them most effectively. For example, if a child with ADD is out of control and disrespectful to their teacher at school, we should not simply excuse the child’s actions just because of the disorder they have. Instead, we should provide them with the behavioral and drug treatment that they need to make the social adjustment. Scripture, in conjunction with these types of therapy, I believe is a very effective treatment option. 2) Even though someone has a mental disorder it does not mean in any way that they are not made in the image of God. These people with psychological disorders are not different than the average person. They are loved, cared for, and were died for by their Savior, Jesus Christ. We all have aspects of our body and personalities that are less than perfect. Think of disorders in a 2 Corinthians 12:9 sense: “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you. My power is made perfect in your weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” Simply put: psychological disorders are just another way God’s grace is expressed to his children.

So here is part of my journey and struggle with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and the importance of family support…

When I was in the fifth grade, I was diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder after started having intrusive, unwanted thoughts about killing my mom and developing particular rituals that I would perform throughout the day, like gagging myself when I brushed my teeth and checking the locks on doors. The obsessions recessed after therapy and continued to do so when I was in junior high and high school. However, the obsessive thoughts came back my freshman year of college. They came back with a fury after a particularly traumatic event. I developed thoughts challenging my sexuality, my future, and my desire to go back to my hometown and date an ex-girlfriend. All of these thoughts were unwanted, intrusive, and very uncharacteristic of who i knew myself to be. I was suffering so much that I eventually was taken to a specialized clinic in Dallas, TX for treatment. Things were not looking so good for me at the time. I was terrified of the thoughts, depressed, and felt extremely helpless against the thoughts. But there were rays of hope that helped me get through this traumatic time in my life.

Besides the truth and love I sought for in God’s Word, I had tremendous family support. The summer after my freshman year, I lived in Pittsburgh at my brother’s house with him, my sister-in-law, and their dog, Jack (which was also very therapeutic:) ). In the midst of my seemingly insane state, My brother and sister-in-law were so supportive, kept me involved, and tried to keep me busy even when I did not feel like doing so. My parents also played a huge role in my road to recovery as well, especially my father. When I flew to Dallas, at the end of the summer for treatment, my dad drove over five hours to meet me at the airport. He took over two weeks off of work to spend time with me while I was going through treatment. He also sacrificed financially for me to get the treatment I so desperately needed. The way he would listen to me when I tried to reason out my thoughts and not judge me for what was going on, was incredibly encouraging in that disheartening time. The ways he unconditionally sacrificed for me were almost beyond compare. I knew that no matter what, I had family that would love me and care for me.

I truly believe that if it was not for family support through this time, I would not have recovered the way I have been able to.  Knowing that you are unconditionally loved and supported is one of the biggest factors in an individual’s prognosis. That is why it is imperative for the church to be supportive and understanding with those that are struggling with mental disorders.

To wrap up…while humans are spiritual, we as Christians have to remember that we have a physical side to our problems we deal with. As such, we need to be flexible and gracious when dealing with individuals that struggle with mental disorders. They are precious and priceless in the sight of God and are worthy of his love. We need to realize that there is a strong possibility that they will need specialized treat that only individuals outside of the church can provide. But above all, know that we are all created, sustained, and saved by Yahweh and his precious Son, Jesus Christ.

 

Much love,

Nate

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I am what I am.

Have any of you ever just sat an thought about your life, the choices you have made, and what you have been through? Well, if you haven’t lately, I would encourage you to do so. Now, I don’t mean to dwell and wallow in self pity or shame because of what has happened. Absolutely not, Isaiah 43:18,19 say, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I [God] am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

However, I do think there is value in looking back and seeing how God has moved and how he has been involved in your life. Now that is easy to do for the successes and victories that have occurred…but what about the failures? The heartaches? The pain? The flat-out stupid decisions? Well, I’m hear to share the hope with you that God DOES in fact use the failures, heartaches, etc. to make us more like him and glorify His name. I want to leave you with this verse to dwell on until next time.

“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.” -1 Corinthians 15:10

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Why stress out? (Round 1&2)

Why worry(or be anxious, or fret, etc)? First, what IS worry? Glad you asked…because I always that it was just my reaction to some event. For example, if you had like 2 papers and 3 exams in the same week, I think those would be great qualifications to worry. I believe that when we worry(or anxious, etc), it is not something that we can simply change or fix on our own, like in the example above staying up til 2 am everyday that week to finish things.  Worry shows a deeper, more intense heart issue: lack of trust.

I want to make a caveat on my claim from above. There are some people (myself included) that have legitimate anxiety disorders, who sometimes have no control over their anxiety, and sometimes we are anxious for no apparent reason. Should we still “cast our cares on the Lord” as 1 Peter 5 tells us? Absolutely. But I want to make the point that it doesn’t help those with legit anxiety problems to simply tell them to “not worry about it” or to “trust God more”.

Ahhhhh, I have to go for now, but I WILL be back to expound on this 🙂

…aaaaanddd back at it.

So, as I was saying, worrying shows a greater reliance on who we are and a lack of trust and reliance on who God is and what he has done for us.

Think about it this way: Every time you crawl into you car, you turn on the engine and quickly (hopefully going the speed limit) drive to wherever your destination takes you. It seems second nature to just get in and go, right? We trust in our car to hold us up, our seat belt to strap us in, and our brakes to make us stop, etc. Or how about when we jump in a pool we trust the lifeguard on duty to keep us safe. Well, how second nature is it for us to trust in who God is after all he has done for us? Let’s look at his credentials, shall we?

  • Created the universe from the word of his mouth and upholds it every second of every day. (Gen 1)
  • Made it rain fire and sulfur (Gen. 18-19)
  • Gives us his Spirit (John 14:16,17)
  • Closed the mouths of lions (Daniel 6)
  • Raised men from the dead (Lazarus)
  • SENT HIS ONLY SON TO DIE FOR US. (John 3:16)
  • RAISED HIS SON FROM THE DEAD. (Acts 5:30)
  • DEFEATED DEATH. (1 Cor. 15:54-57)
  • CONQUERED SATAN. (1 Cor. 15:54-57)
  • SHATTERED SIN. (1 Cor. 15:54-57)

Need I go on? I believe trust is God is this: being confident in WHO God is and WHAT He has done for us. This is something that I have struggled with my entire life. But praise be to God that He is working in big ways. I truly believe that God is just waiting to set you free and show you how great HE is.

Much love,

Nate

Aside | Posted on by | 3 Comments

“…This is wha…

“…This is what the Lord says: Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s…you will not even need to fight. Take your positions; then stand still and watch the Lord’s victory. He is with you, O people of Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Go out against them tomorrow, for the Lord is with you!” -2 Chronicles 20:15b, 17

My prayer for this blog is that God will take my mistakes and weaknesses to encourage and challenge others. I want to “BOAST all the more gladly about my WEAKNESSESS that CHRIST’s power may rest on me.” -2 Cor. 12:9

Every time I read 2 Chronicles 20 I think about how much I try to control my life and how hard I try to fight my life battles, from everyday “skirmishes” to full out “hand-to-hand combat”. You know what? I’m pretty sure I’ve lost close to every stinkin’ one of them.

I’ve learned that it’s not safe to trust anyone…or so I thought. I thought it was safe to trust my parents when they said, “Everything is going to be okay! Things are getting better in our marriage.” Or I believed the girl that said she would “wait for me”. I quickly learned the hard way trusting in others and myself was a poor choice to make. The only person i supposedly could “trust” was me, myself, and I.

Oh how slowly it took me to come to the realization of how wrong I was.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments