A Few Thoughts

I have been completely and utterly blown away by people’s love and kind words these past few days. As I told many of you, I have been overwhelmed with gratitude and joy. Thank you to those who sent me their love via texts, voicemails, and private DM’s. I now see myself surrounded by a cloud of witnesses and have again seen glimpses of God’s love through your actions. Do not doubt your impact. To those that reached out to me with similar stories, thank you. Your bravery and boldness are encouraging. I see and cherish you.

In my original blog post, I was very intentional with my tone. Like I said, I am not bitter or hateful towards my church background, and I wanted to convey that with my words. My only goal was to illuminate my story for others to hopefully understand. I wrote about my story, but I want you to understand that this is so much bigger than myself and my story. I am simply one human in in a world full beautiful people who also deserve to be heard. It was a big step for me but such a small step towards reconciliation. I had a few more thoughts but decided to leave them out. I want to follow up and leave us with something to think on this week.

When we look at the gospel today, it is so easy to turn our noses up at the Pharisees. We think to ourselves “How in the world were they so blind to Jesus’ teaching of love and compassion for your neighbor?” We distance ourselves from the Pharisees because we see them as the antagonist in the gospel stories. I tend to sympathize with them. I see men who were afraid of losing their power and position, so they clung to it. Who of us doesn’t feel the need to have control over our lives? If we walk in their shoes, I see religious leaders who were afraid of the subversive love that Jesus taught. Radical love is scary; it asks so much of us. Jesus’ love asks us to leave our assumptions at the door and to look in the eyes of someone else and see their innate sacredness. That is scary. As Jesus sat with prostitutes, criminals, the poor, etc, the Pharisees used scripture to determine who was in and who was out. I see some similarities between the Pharisees and church today. I see it in myself as well. We hold up the Bible to determine who’s in and who’s out. I think we misuse the Bible and the Gospel when we point at scripture in order to exclude people. Don’t mishear me. I am not pointing fingers or pushing blame. We have a God who forgives the Pharisee in us, so I am also called to forgive as well. I simply want us to consider who we tend to exclude in our church communities. Look into your heart with compassion; we beat ourselves up enough already. But search your heart with honesty so that we may lead lives closer to the heart of Jesus.

One Sunday earlier this year, my father prayed for our church community. He called it a pastoral prayer. During this prayer, he repeated the phrase “My people” over and over again. The prayer was powerful. That phrase has stuck with me since, so I want to take a moment and pray for my people…

Lord,

I pray for my people right now.

I pray for those who feel lost and confused in their faith.

I pray that you would freely bless them with your transcendent love.

I pray for those who do not feel safe in their homes, schools, churches, and communities.

I pray you would give them strength and assurance that there are people who are safe.

I pray for those who have left the church.

I pray you would begin to heal their wounds and redeem their stories.

I pray for the parents of gay children.

I pray you would give parents your wisdom and grace to walk this difficult journey.

I pray for my people who are still in the shadows, too fearful to be themselves.

I pray you would give them peace and assurance that you have them in the palm of your hand.

Look down upon my people with favor and thanksgiving.

Take delight in my people and rejoice over them with song.

May we all be more like Jesus each and every day.

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen

 

Much love,

Matthew

The Story I Never Wanted to Tell

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” –- Maya Angelou

If you know me, you know that telling stories is not a problem for me. Close friends constantly tease me on my need for the spotlight in any conversation. However, I have held onto one story that I have had trouble letting go of. At this point in my life, it is more important for me that this story is told over it being heard. I do this for myself, but I also kindly invite you into my story as I attempt to convey a beautiful, messy life in such few words. I have had plans to write this for a while, but I became overwhelmed at the thought of summing up my life in a blog post. I romanticized this post to the point that I didn’t want to go near it in the chance that I would mess it up. I admit that my words won’t be perfect nor will I convey everything as neatly as I had envisioned, but I ask for your grace as I begin…

My story is not typical. I come from an evangelical tradition, the Church of Christ, where my father has preached at the same church for twenty-three years. I loved church. I made many life-long friends in youth group, and I felt incredibly supported by my church family. Growing up as the pastor’s kid, I felt an incredible pressure to steward myself and represent my family well. I learned how to “do” church the right way. I learned early on how to pray “well,” how to mark my Bible up so that it looked like I read it a lot, and how to sit still and attentive during the sermon. (It wouldn’t be until college that I truly found my own faith and fell in love with Jesus Christ and his mission.) During those adolescent years, I cherished life, and I loved the attention of being the PK. I felt secure and happy at school, church, and home. Life seemed easy.

It wouldn’t be until seventh grade that my world began to unravel.

I realized I was gay and instantly thrown into a journey I never anticipated.

It took me a long time to become comfortable with the word “gay.” I recall a beach trip my freshman year of college when a close friend asked me how it felt to be gay. I was thrown off. When I told this close group of friends, I explained that I struggled with “same-sex attraction.” I wasn’t gay. Couldn’t he understand that I only struggled with it? That this was only a temporary thing? That I would be “fixed” after a couple years of therapy, and then my life would be good? I remember being irritated he used that word to describe me. Up until that point in my life, I was still hopeful that my burden was only temporary. I still dreamt of a day where I would marry a beautiful woman, have two kids, and settle down close to home. The word “gay” was too final and clearly defined, whereas a struggle can be overcome and defeated. I believed that God would rescue me from my struggle of same-sex attraction. It wasn’t until later in college that my real struggle was highlighted: finding my worth and accepting myself for who I was/am/will be.

After my realization in seventh grade, I came out to my parents via a letter. I remember writing the letter during English class. I made sure to cover the small paper with my hands in case anyone happened to look over. Later that night, I left it on my parent’s nightstand next to their bed before going to sleep. The memories are hazy from that night. But I remember my dad walking into my room shortly after and weeping together. I think our tears stemmed from the realization that we had a long, difficult journey ahead of us for myself and my family. It was a loss of security and normalcy. In those few minutes that he hugged me and cried, I remember him looking at me and saying, “There is nothing you could do that could stop me from loving you.” I didn’t notice it then, but I now recognize that my dad showed me a glimpse of the radical, unconditional love that God has for me as well. If my broken, perfectly human father could look at me, flaws and all, and still accept me, then how much more does my Heavenly Father look down upon me with love?

It has been a slow, painful journey of wrestling with my identity and accepting myself. Up to this point, I have glossed over the instances where I either felt unsafe in church due to my sexual orientation or where I was picked on for sounding or acting gay. Church is not an easy place for a kid who is secretly gay. It is not my intent to list every grievance or harm the church has caused me or the LGBTQ+ community. I don’t want to come across as bitter or hateful, because I am not those things. I deeply care for the church, but I do believe that the church has missed the mark when talking about or to the LGBTQ+ community. I don’t hold bitterness in my heart because I realize that God has redeemed my pain and suffering. In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul writes:

I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

I have prayed countless times in my life that God would take the “gay” away. All my life, I have asked God the timeless question, “Why me?” I never understood why God would let a young boy bear the burden of his own sexuality in a world where it seems he isn’t welcomed or loved. However, God has taken this “thorn” and redeemed it by giving me purpose in life. In high school, I went to Honduras every summer for a mission trip. On one of those trips, God spoke so clearly into my life and revealed his plan for me. Yes, I would have to wait years to see its fruition, but I knew that God was working for my good. I remember sitting on the rooftop of our hotel looking out to the lights on the mountains surrounding the city. As I read through 2 Corinthians 5, I stumbled across Paul’s passage about reconciliation.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us…

In a truly epiphanic moment, God pierced my heart, and I understood instantly why I had to bear the burden of being gay and a pastor’s kid. I felt a call to reconciliation. Up until that point in my life, my being had been split into two identities: gay and Christian. Yet, I saw God beginning to weave those two stories together. I knew God could use my “weakness” for his glory and that I was called to ministry. God turned my shame and fear into passion and purpose.

This year, I was accepted to Yale’s Divinity School. Most people have asked what I plan on doing after graduate school. Until now, I have given vague answers about ministry or possibly preaching. However, since that night in Honduras, I have seen God gently nudging me towards reconciliation. My aspiration to study theology is linked to my desire to share what my father showed me: that love and acceptance can be found in church. I long to reconnect gay people to their worth and faith, to help mend the pain caused by the church, and to facilitate conversations around sexuality and faith. I want to continue exploring the intersection of my own faith and identity, and to begin paving a path for those who feel there is no hope. Fortunately, my story is not typical. I have been blessed and privileged to have a supportive family. My mother’s fierce love has supported me every step of the way, and my sisters have been like my personal guardian angels: protective and present when I need them. I never had to worry about being disowned by my family unlike so many other unfortunate situations where queer people are outcast. I have felt shame knowing that I have had it easy in so many ways. The last thing I want is for people to throw a pity party for me. My hope in writing this is to illuminate the fact that we, queer people, are all around you. In your workplace, in your church, in your families. And to understand that we desire the same thing as you: to be known and loved. Thank God I have had people in my life who have seen me for myself and cherished me. To my family, friends, mentors, and professors who have walked this journey with me. Thank you. Your grace, kindness, and love has sustained me and led me to a much better place.

I want to reiterate. It is more important that this story is told and not heard. In order for me to grow and flourish, I must finally step out of fear. I have been presenting a Matthew to people that is not truly myself, and it is exhausting. Like I said before, I love being the center of attention, and I realized at an early age that if I could impress and charm people then they would possibly love me. I was referred to as the golden boy in my family growing up. Partly because my sisters thought I was spoiled (I was). But I made this personality my wall of defense from people knowing who I truly was. I became a laid-back, people-pleasing person and substituted people liking me for true intimacy. I longed to earn people’s favor with my “golden boy” personality which is why affirmation and praise became intoxicating to me. But those moments are not sustainable for a healthy life. I have been reading Donald Miller’s Scary Close and his words perfectly resonated with my story:

It costs personal fear to be authentic but the reward is integrity, and by that I mean a soul fully integrated, no difference between his act and his actual person. Having integrity is about being the same person on the inside that we are on the outside, and if we don’t have integrity, life becomes exhausting.

I am exhausted. To be blunt, I was depressed and isolated my last two years of college. I lacked true connection and intimacy with most of my surrounding friends. My friends joked that I became a hermit my senior year, and I was. I became a shell of my former golden boy personality. I no longer felt golden. My therapist helped me process this. He quoted the verse where John writes “Perfect love casts out all fear” and reversed it. He said if that’s true then “Perfect fear casts out all love.” I have lived a life in fear and bought into Satan’s lies which is why I’m stepping out in courage now. I now believe that on the other side of fear is a life of abundance. Growth, contentment, and a soul fully integrated. I am excited for this next chapter in life. I can now see the golden light that illuminates and surrounds me. In Him, there is no darkness at all. Although I am miles away from home, God has blessed me with tremendous peace. I am exactly where I need to be. And I always have been.

I want to leave this space with a challenge for all of us. I would be forsaking my church tradition if I didn’t neatly close this with a call to action. We spend a majority of our lives running from our personal demons. These demons take many different manifestations and guises. Instead of confronting them, we choose to act out, run, bury our emotions, seek pleasure, etc. As humans, we are addicted to fleeing from pain. I want to gently remind us all that the way to dissolve our resistance to pain and fear is to meet it face to face. Spend time sitting in your fear and ask God to give you the courage to face it.

As my dad helped me move up north, our catchphrase for the week was “We can do hard things.” As I struggled to carry my things, I would whisper to myself “I can do hard things.” After I dropped my dad off at the airport, I prayed “I can do hard things.” And I believe this to be true for all of us. We can do hard things.

Thank you for listening.

With love,

Matthew

Fog.

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Katie has a faith truly tested. Her complete trust in the Lord inspires me every time I sit down with her. Her story and testimony rings of the sweet reminder that God is always faithful even in the midst of trial. She possesses such an intense zeal and passion for the Lord. She speaks honestly while still holding on to grace. Her interview is a testament to a life that can be lived if our hearts are set only on God. Enjoy…

Q: How have you seen God working in your life? 

A: So.. I think people have a hard time pinpointing where God is working in their lives because they don’t take time to seek it out for themselves. A challenge from the Lord has been for me to observe where He’s been working in large chunks of time like half years. A year ago the Lord showed me that I viewed his entire character wrong and that I was living a very legalistic Christianity. The second half of the year, God taught me that He is a God whose faithfulness does not rely on my faithfulness. Right now God is a God of peace even when everything else is chaotic. I have to be able to slow down even when everything else is going 100 MPH. I always want to make plans and go new places, but I’m unable to do that unless I’m present with the people around me. Stillness is a forgotten beauty in our culture.

I also have a story of a friend. Last month, I specifically prayed to the Lord for opportunities to minister to the people around me. College is such a great mission field. So I decided to write down my prayers and put them up on my wall.  A few weeks later, I met a friend who was not a Christian, and I developed a relationship with him. He was very openly not a Christian but he had questions and openly asked me about my faith. Then a month later, he actually became a Christian. As I was writing down the date in my journal, I realized he became a Christian exactly one month after I prayed I would be able to minister to someone, literally the same day. There are so many times when the Lord is faithful, but we never pause to write things down and see how God has answered prayers. God hears our prayers and we often forget that he answers them.

Something else happened a month and a half ago. I have been wanting to apply for a mission trip to South Africa. I winded up finding an organization called Operation Mobilization. I knew they were an incredible company, and I wanted to apply for the summer. However, the trip was completely full, and I was unable to apply. However I started praying, and I asked the Lord to guide me in my decision. I prayed that if the Lord wanted me to go, that He would open up the trip for me. I decided to put it into God’s hand. I was practicing being obedient. Finally after a few weeks, I saw the site, and it was opened for applications again. So I applied, but who knows if I will be picked! The Lord definitely worked through that.

I’m not one for having visions but earlier this year I actually saw an image of myself  standing on the two yellow lines in the middle of the road. Everything was completely silent and there was fog everywhere. In the image, I was trapped and freaking out, but I felt the Lord telling me he would lift the fog for me. And I feel the Lord is doing that slowly. He wants me to slow down and let him unravel each piece of the puzzle one at a time instead of me trying to rush through everything.

Q: Who is Jesus to you right now?

A: Right now Jesus is a God of peace. Jesus has become my calm in a storm. For a long time, my relationship with God was not like that. Through the peace, there has been a lot of struggle. The Lord is also pushing me to stop doing too much and to be still.

Q: You mentioned prayer a lot. How has prayer changed for you this semester? How has your relationship with God changed this semester? 

A: We’re gonna go back a little bit. Beginning of freshman year, I thought I was in the best spiritual health I have ever been in. I prayed the Lord would give me something to prove to Him that I was faithful. And it was such a foolish, arrogant, and dangerous prayer. I thought I was a good enough Christian to handle it, but I quickly realized only Jesus enables me. I, myself, will never be good enough. The following semester, my faith took a hit when my friend got terminally sick. My faith didn’t disappear, but I felt further from Him. During that time, I thought of the story when Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were thrown into the fire, they said “The Lord is strong enough to take them out of the fire, but if he does not, then that doesn’t change who he is or what he is capable of.” I clung to those verses. Although I didn’t believe or feel them every day, it is true. Although I stopped having my walk with God daily, the Lord was faithful. My walk with the Lord has changed so much. Spending time with the Lord is a means to an end. The end being knowing God and not solely to change behavior.

My prayer life has been flipped upside down. I’ve learned that prayer doesn’t always have to be words coming out of mouth but it can be a stillness or a posture towards God. I also have learned we should never be telling people things that we haven’t told God yet, like big things in our life. I instinctively go to friends for big news, but I should go to the Lord first in everything.

 

I have decided to make Katie’s interview into a two-part post! I will be back next week to share my thoughts on this interview and final thoughts over this entire 10-week “experiment.”

 

Let our eyes, heart, ears, and mind be open to you, O God.

 

 

Confession.

Confession. I have been empty the past two weeks. I have been running on fumes, worn down, and burdened. I also haven’t touched my Bible in two weeks, and I find a high correlation between the two. I find it hard to call it “coincidence” that the two weeks when I didn’t pursue the Lord everyday resulted in fruitless, faithless living. I also skipped church on Sunday, and doubts began to surface in my mind.

But today, the Lord gave me a great wake-up call. I drudged over to the Well hoping to get into the Word, but I wasn’t feeling it at all. I wasn’t excited or even expectant for God to reveal something. I picked up where I left off in Jeremiah 3, and I was blown away. In Jeremiah, God is speaking to Jeremiah and relaying a message to the people of Judah and Israel. God says…

You have defiled the land with your prostitution and wickedness. Therefore the showers have been withheld, and no spring rains have fallen.

Although I wouldn’t describe my past two weeks as full of “prostitution” and “wickedness”, I would say I have lived as a sluggard full of disobedience. I failed to prioritize God and seek Him with a heart abandoned. No wonder I didn’t experience any growth. God says it right there. In times of disobedience and sin, the “showers will be withheld.” We cannot expect to grow in Spirit if we are feeding ourselves with things of the flesh. The past two weeks resulted in me searching and seeking for other things to satisfy me. Although the things in themselves were not necessarily evil, the fact that I placed them in front of God made it a problem.

Continuing in Jeremiah 3, God declares…

Return faithless Israel. I will frown on you no longer, for I am merciful. I will not be angry forever. Only acknowledge your guilt…

Throughout the major and minor prophets, the phrase “return to me” pops up over and over again. Despite our brokenness and sinfulness, God longs for our return. The Lord comforted me this morning through this passage. I had to acknowledge my guilt to the Lord and move on. I cannot let the past two weeks derail my faith. God will not allow seasons of disobedience result in the death of intimacy with Him. God will stop at nothing in order for us to return to Him. It’s never too late.

For Proverbs 24:17 says, “For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again…”

It is a beautiful thing that our unfaithfulness does not determine God’s faithfulness. But let me get real for a second…

I hear so many people talking about how God seems to be absent from their lives. How they struggle to see God at work or how they feel distant from God. They feel empty and burned out on religion. But is it because of their own laziness? Do their lives feel purposeless and fruitless because God is doing nothing or because they are failing to do something?

Guys, I urge you to not become lazy. If you feel distant from God, ask yourself when was the last time you cracked open your Bible or even prayed to the Lord. Don’t get me wrong, I totally believe God sometimes gives us His silence or even leads us into the desert. But 9 times out of 10, I bet our distance from God is our own doing. Our own failure to get into the trenches and work at it.

An intimate relationship with God will never come easy. But are you willing to work for it? Do you really want it?

The past month, I can see the difference pursuing the Lord made on my life. The difference is as clear as night and day. On the days I pursued Him, I felt immense joy, fulfillment, and peace. On the days when I failed to, I became anxious, doubtful, and empty.

Jesus says, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” Only through a life hidden in Jesus will we experience an abundant life to the fullest.

For Jesus also says in John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

I am not pointing fingers or shaming anyone. It is a daily struggle to follow Him. But why do we sell our lives short and settle for the crap of the world? We have a Heavenly Father offering us His best riches and an abundant life, yet we settle for casual sex, gossiping, busyness, debauchery, laziness, and so many other things that ultimately leave us empty and brokenhearted.

If all it takes is to pray to Him and to read our Bible, why do we not take that step? Guys, I beg you to seriously examine your life. If you find yourself in a place of spiritual depravity, ask yourself if it stems from your own spiritual laziness or has God placed you in that season? Like I said before, most times, it is our own sin and shortcomings that produce spiritual stagnancy. But (the best word in the Bible) there is no shame!

For Jesus did not come to heal and save those who had it all worked out or who lived perfect lives. But He came to save the sick and lost. In order for us to understand God’s grace, we must first realize our poverty. 

God’s embrace is open to those on the mountaintop, to those in the valley, and even to those who lost their way climbing the mountain.

Return to Him. Today.

Let our eyes, heart, ears, and mind be open to you, O God.

(Amazing interview coming next week. Stay tuned!)

 

Doors.

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Austin Chitwood lives a faith full of action. From the brief conversations I’ve had with him, it is evident God is at work in his life. Austin’s faith doesn’t stand solely as a belief, but he lives it out through service and action. His life reminds me of the verse that says “faith without works is dead” (James 2:14). He opened up about his life, and he spoke a lot of great truths. Hear how the Lord has been working in his life…

Q: How have you seen God work in your life recently? 

A: This is the first semester I haven’t been on the track team. I have had a lot of opportunity to meet new people. Instead of only hanging out with the team, I have been able to branch out and meet new people.

I actually prayed over the summer that I would be open to new opportunities. I wanted to utilize my new time by putting energy into new relationships and school. God has been moving in my thoughts and perspectives. I came into this semester pretty unsure and with doubts. I had just come out of a relationship before school started, and I was still working through that. And I was wondering how God could move through that rough season. Dave Clayton preached one time, and it connected perfectly. He described that a lot of times chapters will end and God will close doors. Usually, our immediate reaction is fear and sadness. However when God closes the door, something greater is coming. The ending of something good is the beginning of something greater. And he compared it to Jesus on the cross. When Jesus is first crucified, the first reaction is one of grief and despair. Then three days later the tomb is found empty!

My former relationship and the cross-country team were pretty big parts of my life. When those things ended, there was sadness. But I have hope and trust that my eyes will be opened to a lot of incredible things. And I have already experienced some of those things…

I read a book about Kingdom Ethics. The book says our lives should be governed by the narrative found in the Bible. The narrative in the Bible is centered around God coming back to Earth. We should live for the kingdom. We aren’t called to fulfill our own things but to prepare the world for God coming back.

I also recently went on a mission trip in town at Stonebrook Apartments. While I was there, I realized that a lot of these people have no idea who Jesus is. They don’t come from a background of growing up in church. To put it into perspective, we were their first introduction to Jesus. They may define Jesus on what they see in us. We always need to be cognizant of how we’re living.

Q: How else have you grown from those closed doors?

A: Every new person I meet is a new perspective. I realized that meeting new people allows my mindset and perspective to change. There are so many different ways to live life and view the world.

I actually just received a text today from a friend about listening versus hearing. Hearing is super easy. But listening implies you are actually gathering information from what you’re hearing. When you meet new people, you should actually listen. It helps develop relationships and provides insight into people’s lives.

Q: What advice would you give to people who grew up in church?

A: So I met this woman named Esther at Stonebrook a few weeks ago. She’s actually a janitor at Lipscomb. She grew up in South America and had no idea who Jesus was. She came to the U.S. and someone gave her a Bible. She had a very distant father growing up and when she came across the phrase “Heavenly Father” in the Gospels she began crying. She realized she had a Father who loved her unconditionally. When I heard that story, I wished my first encounter with Christ looked like that.

Growing up in church, the importance of God is not always appreciated. We seem to tuck away the importance of God. My friend once told me that “comfort is the enemy of growth.” When we become complacent, we cannot grow in our faith. Following Jesus should not be a comfortable thing. The apostles sacrificed everything to follow Him. There is an idea in the church that we will never suffer or have problems. But Jesus never promises that we will be comfortable.

I also think we often make the mistake in taking spiritual things and placing them in a box. We consume so many sermons, books, and other spiritual aids and place them in our toolbox waiting to be used. Our focus shouldn’t be on our tools but on the worker. We should just live a life of faith naturally.

I also used to have this idea that I need to be perfect in order to approach God. I need to fix myself and then I can reconnect with God. But we should reconnect with God and then allow Him to fix our problems.

Q: What advice would you give to college students in how to grow closer to God?

A: Change your perspective. If you don’t feel close to God, then you probably have the wrong idea of who He is. We sometimes treat God like he’s a dysfunctional dad, and we don’t know how to approach him. We try to dress up our language when we pray to Him, but He is a Father and a friend. I think we often overlook our freedom in Christ. Donald Miller pointed out that our relationship with God looks like collaboration. Yes, the Bible gives us guidelines, but God also gives us freedom.

What I Learned:

I love what Austin said about freedom in Christ. I’m reminded of a devotional by Oswald Chambers  (anyone surprised?). He says,

Our Lord never insists on our obedience. He stressed what we ought to do, but He never forces us to do it. The Lord does not give me rules, but He makes His standard very clear.

It sounds like a paradox, but obedience to Christ leads to freedom in Christ. Once we change our mindset about who God is and we realize that Jesus promises a full life, we can gladly obey and accept God’s commandments. Our hesitation in surrendering ourselves to Him stems from a misunderstanding of God in general.

Doors. God ushers us into new seasons where the unknown scares us. Christians always seek to answer the question “why?” However, Oswald writes,

We never realize at the time what God is putting us through — we go through it more or less without understanding, because knowing would make us spiritually proud.

Don’t be afraid of new seasons or change. God uses these times to revitalize and strengthen our faith. God will never allow us to become complacent. He will open and close doors to prevent our faith from festering and becoming stagnant. Embrace new opportunities for they will allow you to see God in a new light.

May we have a heart like Esther who encountered God for the first time and cried for joy. Let us seek after Him every day with a fresh spirit and a fresh mind. And may we never allow past experiences to hinder how we can experience God today.

Let our eyes, heart, ears, and mind be open to you, O God.

 

 

Desert.

Pic of Andrew

Andrew Nelson never ceases to amaze me with his incredible intellect. He is able to articulate his faith clearly, and I’m impressed by his ability to think about faith. He provides a unique perspective, for he has a passion for backing up faith with philosophy. He makes me think and ask questions. He is wise beyond his years and possesses wisdom that is as precious as gold. Not only is he intelligent though but he is incredible creative and artistic. God has equipped him for some serious Kingdom work, but he is totally capable. Hear what he has to say…

Q: How have you seen God at work recently?

A: One big thing that’s been on my heart has been the idea of service. We talk about service a lot, especially at a Christian university. But I’m stuck in figuring out how to use my creativity, specifically film and photography when it’s not necessarily serving people. I always had this thought that I shouldn’t pursue these creative expressions when it doesn’t always serve people. I used to have shame and guilt in pursuing my artistic passions. But I started to ask the question: How can I intertwine my faith into everything I do? Through my questioning, I realized we are called to live sacrificially. But living sacrificially looks different to everyone. It takes various shapes and forms. We all have unique gifts from God. It’s not the form that matters but the purpose behind it. I want to make use of my gift that the Lord has blessed me with. Think of it this way…

So a father gives his son a bicycle. The bike is the son’s most favorite and precious gift. The son rides it until the wheels fall off because it was his favorite gift, which in turn makes the father feel fulfilled and loved. With God, we are given these gifts which allow us to point back to God. It’s important I keep my priorities in check when I create.

Q: Practically, how do you see your creativity and serving others combining?

A: I don’t think I have an answer to that right now. I mean.. I don’t want to make the next Fireproof. (sorry to those who love that movie) That’s what I’m trying to figure out. Art is extremely expressive, and that’s how I could show the love of God. God’s love is expressive. There is an opportunity to show the nature of God through art.

Being a light to people in the industry is just as important. You can serve wherever you find yourself. My work doesn’t necessarily have to take on aspects of my faith. However, I can conduct myself in a Christ-like manner without my work having to take the shape of it. People could see Jesus in the way I treat other people, in how I lead, or how I treat customers. Anyone can do that.

Q: How would you encourage other students who are seeking the Lord?

A: Ask a lot of questions. Don’t be afraid. I think there is a mentality that asking questions is bad. Questioning your faith isn’t bad. Often when we ask questions, we will be affirmed in what we believe which gives us better reason to believe it. We need to know why we believe things. It’s great to have Biblical knowledge, but know why you believe what you believe.

I, myself, have been in seasons of doubt and questioning. But I will always leave those seasons with a better understanding and a stronger faith. I have gained wisdom and experience from those times, and it opens up opportunities to minister. Usually, I will think of more questions but that shows the complexity of God. I realize I can’t put God or my faith in a box. It’s kinda intimidating. But there is a reward for those who seek to answer questions. The reward is our deepening of relationship with Him.

Q: What would you say to those who are in a hard season of trusting in God right now? Or to those who are in a desert right now and may not feel God.

A: I would say I’m in a season like that right now. I would say I haven’t necessarily “felt” God recently. I have had times like this before, and I have always come through it. I don’t think there’s a specific way to get out of it. It’s just something you have to go through. I don’t think it’s something you can pray away. Sometimes the Lord has us in desert to teach us something and for our faith to be tested. I think there is a false view in Christianity that if God loves us, then we’re always going to feel good. But you grow more through pain than through seasons of joy. If things are always going well, then you wouldn’t experience much growth. There is a danger of becoming stagnant if everything is always perfect. Although it may be frustrating, an opportunity to grow more intimate with the Lord. You have to press on even in times of not feeling God. It’s about knowing God not feeling God. 

God’s number one priority is a relationship with us. Sometimes it requires tough love to grab our attention. God will do anything in his power to develop and further a relationship with us. Sometimes it requires pain, but God knows that the growth will prepare you for better things.

What I learned:

We serve a complex God. Thank goodness for that. I don’t think I would want to serve a higher being that I could figure out and solve. If I could rationalize, theorize, prove, or figure out a god with my human brain, then I think that religion would be a sham.

I also see a theme of trials and deserts throughout most of these interviews. I think it is impossible to reach complete oneness in Christ without going through dry seasons. I think the times we see God at work the most are in times of great trial or strain. I think it’s important to note that our faithfulness does not determine His faithfulness. Sometimes there are things in our lives obstructing us from intimacy with God. And God has to gently break our hearts for us to see Him.

Do not let dry seasons hinder us for Matthew 4 says…

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.

Jesus was led into trials and temptations. God used this time to equip Jesus and prepare him for his ministry. Jesus grew from it. Instead of shirking away and attempting to flee from trials, let us wrestle with them. God uses these times to reveal something in us that is not of Him.

James 1 says…

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

What amazes me about Andrew is that this scripture is becoming true for him. He said in the interview, “It’s kinda crazy, but I’m beginning to enjoy difficult seasons.” I wish I came to that point in my faith. Although he may be in a dry season right now, he continues to get into the Word daily and seek after the Lord.

Praise God that He is willing to break our hearts momentarily instead of letting us slowly wander away into eternal separation from Him.

Let our eyes, heart, ears, and mind be open to you, O God.

 

 

Witness.

Pic of Carson FordLast Thursday, I sat across Carson Ford who was metaphorically and literally glowing. The sun sat perfectly behind her head and formed an angelic halo above her. She reminds me of the verse in Hebrews 13 that says, “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” Carson’s zeal and love for the Lord is evident in how she loves others well. Sit down with her for 30 minutes, like I did, and you will understand too…

Q: What has the Lord been teaching you?

A: I don’t know what I’ve been learning. I might be in a season of silence like you talked about last week, but I’ve still been getting into the Word and still enjoying it. However, prayer is something that has been placed on my heart recently. I need to be more intentional in how I approach God in prayer. Scripture, prayer, and community are the most important tools that we have in order to get closer to God. Why don’t we tap into and utilize these resources more often? So I’ve been focusing on prayer this week, and earlier this week I prayed that the Lord would boldly teach me something.

Well… The Lord has been teaching me that in ministry, we are called to participate in His actions. I can do nothing for God. I have been taught this week that it can’t always be me. I need to stop trying and just participate in what God is doing. I, myself, cannot save people. I am just bearing witness to the light. I am not the light. It says in John 1,

There was a man sent from God whose name was John.  He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.

I am so many times focused on how useful I am to others. I have realized that people’s relationships with Jesus does not have to involve me. I cannot manufacture faith myself.

(Carson proceeds to grab my small Starbucks drink and make an illustration with it.)

You have this much (Starbucks drink) to pour out. You cannot expect to fill this whole Nalgene bottle up simply with a small Starbucks cup. It does not work. All we are called to do and can do is simply fill up our metaphorical Starbucks cup with Him and just directly pour it out. I can’t line up six cups that represent people and try to fill each cup with the same amount. I simply just fill myself with the Lord and then pour myself out. It takes away all the pressure of being a follower of Jesus. Not to take away from being intentional or having a sense of urgency in discipleship, but if we possess the joy of the Lord and pour that out, then people will see that in us and become a witness to Christ. Jesus is strategic. He will send people your way. In the meantime, just bear witness to the Light…

The story of the prodigal son has been wrecking me. I love the image of where the Father’s arms are wide open. And so many times God is right in front of us offering us His richest blessings and we say “No, thanks.” What would we think if the son in the story had said to his father, “No, thanks. I’m good. I think I’d like to go live with the pigs again.” ? That would be stupid. Yet, we do it all the time. We think we are too unworthy to approach Him. We don’t take that one step further into His arms. We are one step away from being embraced. If being in the Word and being in constant prayer with God means stepping into His embrace, then why wouldn’t I do them? I do these things so that I may be embraced by God and then be sent out to embrace others.

Q: How have you born witness to what God has been doing on campus? How have you seen God at work?

A: I have had conversations with so many friends who have all had life-changing summers. I think it’s so powerful that people are simply wanting Jesus this semester. It’s not a fancy message or the latest ministry tool or even a great chapel theme. But it’s the simple Gospel. Individually, people are having revelations about Christ and that’s so cool.

Q: What would your advice be to college students who are seeking the Lord?

A: Get into scripture. Read with fascination and desperation and out of necessity. You could read your Bible and get nothing out of it because you feel that you’re supposed to do it. But if you change your mindset and you read out of necessity. Then that changes everything. You have to do it. Get into the Word with the right posture.

What I Learned:

Witness. This word has popped up over and over again in the past few days. Yesterday I read a devotional titled, “The Witness of the Spirit” and I have to share what it says.

Why doesn’t God reveal Himself to you? He cannot. It is not that He will not, but He cannot, because you are in the way as long as you won’t abandon yourself to Him in total surrender. Yet once you do, immediately God witnesses to Himself…

I find a correlation between witnessing God and the story of the prodigal son. Why do we fail to witness what God is doing in our lives? Because we refuse to step into His embrace. We refuse to surrender it all. We refuse to accept the Light. BUT once we step into God’s arms with a heart abandoned, our eyes are opened to a world full of God’s blessings and riches. And that is what we then testify to.

Witness is not just a noun. But it is a verb that spurs action. We shouldn’t be passive in how we see God. Our “witnessing” of Christ should turn to testifying about Christ. We shouldn’t be passive partakers in the Kingdom but active human evidences of God’s goodness.

Let our eyes, heart, ears, and mind be open to you, O God.

 

 

IF.

No interview for this week, but I thought I could break down and process some of my thoughts halfway through the semester. I have been immensely blessed to sit down and hear how the Lord is at work. I would encourage all of us to find a friend and to talk about Jesus. There is nothing more encouraging and fulfilling than talking about the Kingdom of God.

What I’ve Been Learning:

I have a cool story from last week. I was sitting with two friends praying one night. As we were praying, I felt the Lord place Hebrews 4:7 on my heart. I decided to flip to it and read it. However, as I opened my Bible, I thought I also heard the Lord tell me to read Hebrews 3:7. I couldn’t tell if I had misheard what the Lord had placed on my heart, but I decided to flip to Hebrews 4:7 first and this is what is says:

God again set a certain day, calling it “Today.” This he did when a long time later he spoke through David, as in the passage already quoted: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.

I read it and thought it was a cool verse, but the verse seemingly had no importance to me in the moment. In case I had misheard God, and I was supposed to read Hebrews 3:7. I turned to the verse which says:

So, as the Holy Spirit says: Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the wilderness…

What?! I was confused. Why did the two verses say almost the exact same thing only a chapter apart? God decided to reveal himself very overtly in that moment, and it was obvious I needed to hear that message.

Fast-forward to church only a few days later. I’m listening to the sermon, and we are studying Psalm 95. Aaron, the preacher, reads until verse six and stops; however, I kept reading. And to my astonishment, this is what Psalm 95:7 says:

Today, if only you would hear his voice, “Do not harden your hearts… 

That is NOT a coincidence! God was trying to rebuke something in me that was not according to His will. I realized that I had been consciously rejecting and ignoring God’s voice over the past few weeks.

May I never, ever again harden my heart to the sweet sound of God’s calling. I love how the verses mentioned “the wilderness” which is what Grady and I talked about in last week’s post. God still calls outs and speaks to us even in the times of wilderness. Even in the times where we may feel lost and forgotten. In those times, God is more near than we think. But let us not harden our hearts like the Israelites! What truth is God trying to instill in you that you won’t listen to because it’s hard?

However, the word “if” posed a problem to me when I read this last week. IF you hear his voice… that two letter word implies that God sometimes is silent. And I believe God sometimes blesses us with silence. Hear the words of Oswald Chambers who beautifully captures what God’s silence entails:

When you cannot hear God, you will find that He has trusted you in the most intimate way possible — with absolute silence, not silence of despair, but one of pleasure, because He saw that you could withstand an even bigger revelation. If God has given you a silence, then praise Him — He is bringing you into the mainstream of His purposes.

What a profound way to view God and His silence. Do not worry if God seems to be absent. He is bringing you into a new season. Maybe He is testing you, to see if you truly want Him. But let us not falter, let us pursue with more clarity and vigor.

Let our eyes, heart, ears, and mind be open to you, O God.

Taste.

Pic of Grady Sutton

Grady Sutton possesses an awareness of Christ that surpasses most everyone I know. He is a living, breathing example of how God can absolutely wreck and turn one’s life upside down. I had an hour long conversation about how the Lord has been present in his life, and it left my speechless. I cannot do justice to the wisdom and words he shared with me. I possess such little skills to capture his heart for the Lord and the conversation we had. But I pray that the Lord speaks to you through his words. As always, let’s go search after the Lord…

Q: How have you seen God in the past few weeks?

A: Recently, The Lord has been teaching me the word “rebuke.” It started when I read the story where Jesus rebuked the wind and the waves. I thought it was a weird word choice for that story. It seemed like Jesus was scolding a disobedient child. A few days later, the Lord spoke to me through a Proverb. In Proverbs 3 it says, “Don’t resent the Lord’s rebuke because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.” Rebuke comes from a place of love. Rebuke is something we should embrace.

Recently, I had a friend rebuke me; it was exactly what I needed. I had been complaining about some of my friends. I thought some of my friends needed to be in a better place in their faith. Obviously, my complaining came from a place of love. However, I went to a Bible-study and was complaining to my friends, but then a friend said, “Why don’t you do something about it?” My friend loved me enough to call me out. The next day, I read in Exodus the part where the Israelites complained to Moses, but Moses tells the Israelites that they were actually complaining to the Lord. I was convicted while I read that story as well. It was obvious that the Lord was trying to tell me something within the span of those few days.

Then, I kept reading over and over again that the Israelites ate manna everyday for forty years. They had been promised a fruitful land, but they were stuck in the desert for forty years. What would I do if I had been promised this land? But I had to wait for forty years? What would I think? The Israelites had it made; they were eating food from Heaven. Yet, they still grumbled, and I have been doing the same thing. I get into the Word all the time and hear the Lord all the time, and he blesses me. Yet twenty minutes later, I complain and wish that God would show up and do something. I should be grateful that the Lord has been providing me with His blessings, teachings, and rebukes. The Lord has led me to this place in my life of knowing Him, like the Israelites, yet here I am questioning God. I seem to think I haven’t been progressing at all, but the Lord has rebuked these thoughts. The Lord is teaching me that I will need to be patient. While I’m waiting, I shouldn’t sit and complain. But I should rejoice in the waiting.

The best advice I was ever given was to get into the Word everyday in the morning and to pray that the Spirit would speak to me. He has and he does. I have never regretted doing that. The story I just shared would not have happened if I had not been getting into the Word. God is my number one priority. If God is my number one priority, then the first thing I should do in the morning should be reading His word.

Q: What is your experience going to a public university (UTK)? How does it affect your faith compared to a private Christian school?

A: I think I have the advantage in some ways. In my Christian high-school, it was easy to be a Christian without truly following Christ. Going there, you are labeled a Christian so you don’t have to prove anything. Unlike UTK, where if you call yourself a Christian and it doesn’t show, then no one may come to Christ. I have to live it out every single day at UTK. I have had to surround myself with people who love the Lord. I meet with my mentor every week and go to a Bible-study every Monday night. These people hold me accountable. At UTK, you’re either with the Lord or you’re not with the Lord. I think at Lipscomb it’s easy to get by since almost everyone calls themselves a Christian.

Q: What would you say to those who are having trouble seeing how God is working in their lives? Or to those who may have a “lull” in their faith right now? 

A: I actually have a friend who is in a dry season right now, and he told me, “I’m just in a dry season, but I’ll come back to God later.” That is such a dangerous thing to say. When we say that, we become complacent and content in where we are. We know what we ought to do, yet we rarely do it. We often say that it will take time for us to get back to the Lord. But why not right now? Why not get on our knees and pray to Him in this moment? In Jeremiah 29 it says, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you…” If we truly desire after the Lord, we will find Him.

I would say that  desire must come first. To be more practical, I would say to get up in the morning and read your Bible each and every morning. Begin to know the Lord, today. Don’t get caught up in reading a chapter every day, but read it in sections. Take your time.  Don’t just read but also pray that there would be supernatural intercession with the Spirit. It’s crazy how the Holy Spirit can put something in your mind and not let you forget about it. A verse in Mark 1 has been ingrained in me for over two years. It says, “Jesus went off to a solitary place to pray.” That is the key. Before anything happens in your day, wake up and GO to the Lord.

I have a challenge for you. For two weeks, dive into the Word and ask for His Spirit. What do you have to lose? You will never regret the decision to seek Him with all your heart. Just give it two weeks.

What I learned:

All throughout our conversation the verse “Taste and see that the Lord is good” kept popping up in my head. I was reminded of this verse when Grady talked about manna from God. God provides sustenance daily. We only have to go out and gather it for ourselves. However in the story, the manna would go bad after a day. The Israelites couldn’t store up on the manna. God was teaching them to be dependent on Him in each and every moment. We, too, have to be dependent on Him, always. We cannot store up past experiences or moments with God and forfeit the blessings He wants to bestow upon us, today.

Do not let your faith become stale.

It requires us to go to Him, daily. When we taste the bread (the Word), we will begin to know who God is. And God is good.

In John 6, Jesus calls himself the “Bread of Life.” He tells his disciples, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him” (John 6:56).

Let us consume Jesus and His teachings.

For then Jesus says, “He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never go thirsty” (John 6:35).

If you find yourself in a desert like the Israelites, or in a place of waiting, continue to gather up your manna and be patient. The Lord will satisfy and fulfill you even in the midst of delayed promises. Trust.

How can we ever expect to see God move in big ways when we fail to notice He is supplying bread, today. He so badly wants you to come to Him, now.

May we taste and see. May our tastes turn into cravings which can only be satisfied at the Feast. Let us ravenously devour everything Jesus provides for us. Let the Feast begin!

Let our eyes, heart, ears, and mind be open to you, O God.

 

 

 

Listen.

Pic of Hudson Parker

In Hudson Parker, I see the supernatural becoming natural in his life. He is wise beyond his years, and I was blessed to hear the truths that the Lord has instilled in him. He sat down with me the other day in a busy, loud Starbucks and shared how God has been working. After sitting down with him, I can clearly see that God is making some power moves across Lipscomb’s campus. Let’s get to it…

Q: What cool stories or “coincidences” could you share with me that show God’s presence in your life?

A: Where to start? Well, on the first day of classes, this girl came into my room, and I met her. When I met her, it felt like something was aligning with the Holy Spirit. This story may sound cheesy, but there is something different about it. I think the Lord has gifted me with knowing when things are of Him and full of the Spirit. Anyway, we kept crossing paths during Quest Week, and I finally started praying “Lord if this is in your will, may we continue to cross paths.” And it kept happening! At one point, I was sitting in my room and was just listening. Listening has become a big word for me the past two weeks. Anyway, I was listening one day, and I heard the Lord say, “Yes” over and over again. He was saying “Yes” to the entire situation with this girl I had just met. A few days later, this girl told me that one night she was running and praying. While praying, my name popped into her head, and she kept hearing the word “Yes.” It’s crazy how we both received confirmation from God within a few days of each other. Since then, we have been getting into the Word and have been growing together. It’s crazy how many little “coincidences” happened for us to be in the place where we are now.

I guess to change the topic, since school has started, I have tried to become more Christ-aware. I have developed the habit of praying on the way to class. Instead of being on my phone, I have been trying to “pray without ceasing.” Being in constant communication with the Holy Spirit is a game-changer. It’s amazing how much we learn and how much He speaks to us.

Q: So has the Lord been answering your prayers? Also, what fruits have you seen from “praying without ceasing.”

A: Yeah! I have had prayers answered in seconds. Literally seconds. Yesterday, I really didn’t want to work. Jesus says, “Ask in my name, and Ye shall receive.” This may sound ridiculous, but I prayed that I didn’t have to work. Only if it aligned with His will, of course. Then an hour later, my boss texted me and said, “Hey, we don’t need you next week.”

Also, when I was hanging out with this girl, I got caught up in my high-school way of thinking and didn’t know how to interact with her. I just surrendered the night to the Holy Spirit and prayed that the Holy Spirit would do the right thing. An hour later, we ended up having one of the best conversations we’ve ever had. The Holy Spirit made us vulnerable with one another. The Holy Spirit had his way that night.

I truly believe when we make an effort to be in love with Him, He will reward us. He wants to bless us when we truly try to know Him.

Q: Earlier you mentioned the word “listen.” How has that been placed on your heart?

A: I mean… when was the last time you sat in silence? When was the last time you sat still, completely silent, and said “Lord, speak to me.” One of my friends says that God’s language is silence. So often we pray, and then we instantly get up and leave the presence of God. As soon as “In Jesus’ name, Amen” leaves our lips, boom, we instantly leave. In a normal conversation, we would never talk for thirty minutes and then rudely get up and go. He wants to speak to us, but we don’t let Him. However, I don’t always hear something when I sit in the presence of God. I still haven’t heard the audible voice of God. Even if we feel that God is silent, God still remembers the moments where we intentionally pursued after Him. Like I said, I believe He rewards us for that. Honestly, silence is just good for the soul. Silence and stillness refreshes the soul.

Q: Who is Jesus to you right now?

A: Right now the Crucifixion has been wrecking me. To me, Jesus is the Ultimate Sacrifice. It has begun to sicken me how lightly we take the Crucifixion. I can’t even place into words how I feel. How irreverent it is for us to brush over God’s ultimate sacrifice. Even in the church, we have begun to treat Jesus like a bro. He didn’t die for us to feel good. Jesus died so that we could go all in with Him. If Jesus walked into the room right now, I think we should all hit the ground trembling in fear.

(In the next few minutes, Hudson went on such a Spirit-filled tangent that I had to include it. I have no segue or question to bring it up, but y’all have to hear this…)

Twelve uneducated men who spent three years with this guy named Jesus changed the course of history. One of them was a zealot, and those guys were crazy. One of them, Matthew, was a hated man in society, yet these men reached the entire Roman empire in thirty years. During that time, the Roman Empire was the entire world to them. It started with a few uneducated men who God used to change the world. Just think of what we could do with all the followers of Jesus today. That’s what makes me a follower of Jesus. That’s why I believe. I do not have everything figured out, but we need to start making disciples.

Q: What do you think God has called you to in the past few weeks? What has the Holy Spirit been whispering?

A: This is another aspect of listening I have learned. He has called me to listen to other people, not just Him. When we listen with fascination, it changes everything. Listening with fascination shows people the love of Christ. It is an act that shows I care about people. It sets me apart. If we look the same as the rest of the world, then we are doing something wrong.

Q: If you could give advice to college students on how to walk with the Lord, what would you say? 

A: Find people you love who will hold you accountable. Accountability changed my life. I had people in my life who would text me everyday asking what I read in the Bible that morning. We all need those people. Also, I would say to study the word, not just read it. There is so much depth in the words that we miss out on if we glaze over it.

What I learned:

God is a God who is active in our everyday life. Because of that, we have a God who interacts with our senses. He is not just an intellectual being who we imagine in our synapses and brains.

But He is in the everyday essence of life. He is the essence of life. He connects to us through touch, sight, sound, smell, and taste.

Last week, I learned that God is one who we must strive to see. This week, I learned that God speaks, and we must listen with fascination. Listening with fascination requires us to give Him our full attention by being still and silent.

Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God…”

When we go silent before the Lord, we open up an opportunity to know Christ and form an intimate relationship with Him. God longs to speak to His children, yet we often become frustrated because He seems absent from our lives. Usually, God has to quiet us with His love (Zephaniah 3:17) for us to listen in order to hear Him.

When you find yourself in a lull in your faith, seek even harder. Be consistent. Throw everything aside to find Him. In the end, the reward will be ours.

Let our eyes, heart, ears, and mind be open to you, O God.