Archive for the ‘life is hard’ Category

Running the Race

September 14, 2009

Okay….for those of you who read this a lot and know me well, you probably know that I am in the beginning stages of training for a marathon, which I hope to run at Disney in January.  As I go through this training I’m starting to see more and more the way my relationship with God is exemplified through out my life.

I feel like I treat my relationship with God like I do my marathon training.  I feel like I have every day as a “training” day and as long as I complete the training, them I’m good for that day.  But after week one I’m starting to see that running is not the only thing that is part of training.  Everything from what I eat to my rest habits to the way I spend my time when I’m not “training” all plays a part in the role up to race day.  The same goes for us and our relationship with God.  We all try to put “God’s training” in a box.  We make it a check list of do’s and dont’s every day.  I fail to realize that everything I do exemplifies and portrays Christ, weather or not people can see me do it.  So everything I am doing is either beneficial to my relationship with Him or detrimental.  We feel that if we just can finish that check list of things every day, that we are doing our “Christian Duty.”  I’ve come to realize that one, I don’t even do all the check list things with God on a daily basis and two, even when I do, it feels forced and ultimately draws me farther away from Him because I’m trying to earn something or impress an unimpressable God.  It’s like I have this attitude that if I can do enough “God” things per day, that God will be happy with what I have accomplished.

As I train I start to realize that there are days that I honestly don’t feel like training.  There are days where I struggle to put on my shoes and run out the door.  Then as I complete it, I start to feel better and I start to feel good about what I have accomplished.  Not because I can check it off my list, but because I feel more prepared after doing the training.  I even feel better about the 26 mile run that is coming up in a couple months.  I say this because I see that this is how God and our relationship is run.  There are days where we don’t want to spend time with Him, we might even think that it would be a waste of time to read or pray, yet God calls us to do it I believe.  He talks about those who love Him will do what He commands.  Also, I feel that just like any relationship, yours and Gods will be rocky.  Just as much as I know that mine and God’s is rocky.  And I know, it sucks to hear that.  If you believe that every day in your relationship with God should be perfect, you’re sadly mistaken, and I also think if you use this as a justification for why your relationship with Him is not great, I would recommend taking a look at what has priority in your life.

In Acts 20:24, Paul says, “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.” Jesus has given us a task to complete, and every day we go on living and being in relationship with Him on this earth is “training.”  I believe that God is preparing us for things we can’t even imagine.  I also believe that He is preparing us for things here on Earth that we don’t realize.  We “train” to be ready to compete.  In case you haven’t noticed, life is a battle, a competition if you will, with sin.  It tries to come between us and God.  If we’re not training constantly and ready to go, we will lose these battles, I’ve been seeing it way too often in my life lately.

So as I continue to train for this marathon, I will have to keep in mind that there are greater things out there that I am training for, and that it is all possible by a God who loves us so much that He is willing to give us the ability to compete even when we are so unworthy.  I’ll leave you with this, from 1 Corinthians 9:23-25.  “I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.”

Cheers,

Brandon

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Little Ivan and Big Ivan

August 29, 2009

Like I said in my last post I learned tons of things from working the ropes course at Champion this past summer.  I wanted to tell you a story about one of the Urban Weeks we hosted.  There was a leader named Ivan who was probably about in his mid 30’s and brought his son, little Ivan, to camp to hang out with the big kids for the week.  Little Ivan was about 8.  This kid was such a trooper and was hanging out with all the older kids through out the week.  When it was that cabin’s time to come to the ropes course, little Ivan, wanted to be with all the other kids and do the course as well.  He was too small to do it by himself so his father offered to walk through with him.  It took the Ivans about a half hour to get through the  course.  I was working the exit of the course (a crazy swing from about 70 feet in the air) so I got to watch them complete it.  As I’m watching I see little Ivan just working his tail off trying to do all of the elements.  He was constantly falling and hanging from his lobster claws but every time he did, his dad would help him get back up and keep walking.  At no point did big Ivan do anything for little Ivan until he needed help.  He allowed him to take all his own steps and make his own mistakes and do it himself, but then he was right there when little Ivan fell and couldn’t do it on his own.  Tears were streaming down my face at they made their way up the course to the swing.  It was just a good thing I was wearing sunglasses so I didn’t look like a big girl when they rolled up.  This was so special to me not because we got an 8 year old through the ropes course.  This was special because God used this experience to paint a perfect picture of our relationship with Him.  He never leaves our side but He gives us the freedom to make our own choices, take our own steps, and even fall, but is ALWAYS there when we need help back up to start walking and finish the course.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”-Deuteronomy 31:6

Fear is such a real thing not just on a 70-foot high ropes course but in life, because we fall, make mistakes, do things we regret, turn our back on God, and so on.  But God doesn’t leave us or let us go.  He is always “holding the rope” and is always there walking with us, even when He feels so distant, or I should say when we make Him seem so distant.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world .”-John 16:33

Cheers,

-Brandon

Random Thoughts

July 21, 2009

Okay so Its 1:30 a.m. North Carolina time, but my body is still on California time, and I can’t sleep at all right now.  I feel like that is partly due to the major God-events that have occurred for me over the past couple days, and I cannot stop thinking about the awesomeness of them.  Long story short, the first half of my summer was a total drag.  I was in summer school, living alone, for 6 weeks, and basically no-one was around.  All of that was basically an equation for depression.  Because of all this, my relationship with God had folded.  It was to the point that I didn’t wanna even pick up my bible, because I felt that I wouldn’t even get anything out of reading it (sad I know).  This kind of state obviously led to just a real real real crappy 6 weeks.  I know/knew that the summer would get intensely better soon because I was leaving Maryland, going to California, then heading up to NY to do summer staff at Lake Champion.  The other night, I was really able to open up with details and all of this baggage to someone I could trust, and it made all these feelings and sadness disappear.  It reassured me of God’s love and purpose in my life.  She reminded me that it is these times like these that made it possible and necessary for Jesus to come down, to be on our level, and to go through what we do, and would have to. (Romans 5)  Coming home today I felt a hundred percent more energized, encouraged and ready to take on the next part of my summer as God gets to use what I considered a “useless sinner” for the past month and a half, to help make His name known to thousands of young teens for the next month.  I am convinced God just loves to prove His love by throwing “cherrys on top” if you will.  On my way home on the plane, I ended up getting seated with my pastor from high school, the guy who baptized me, who I haven’t seen or heard speak for probably over 4 years.  The chances of this happening would have to about 993908 to 1.  Now as I write this and see the significance of that moment, I can see that this is God’s way of telling me that I am made new no matter how many times I blow it or turn away from Him.  In a way the same symbolism of baptism if you will.  Not to mention I spent about half of the flight just staring out at the sky.  Have you ever just spent 10 minutes on an airplane and stared out at your surroundings as your are cruising at 35000 feet? It is absolutely astonishing to see what God can do.  Like I said, I think God has a bit of a sense of humor and loves to just keep surprising us day in a day out, just to show how much He loves us.

“We love because he first loved us.”-1 John 4:19

“Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”-Romans 5:3-4

Cheers,

Brandon

El Bucket List

June 28, 2009

So lately I have awkwardly been thinking a lot about death, but more about HOW I live life before that happens, which hopefully won’t be for a long, long time.  So I made a “bucket list” to put my life in order, so make sure I’m “living like I was dying”.  You know the song, it’s sick.  In John 10:10 it talks about how Jesus has come so they can “have life, and have it to the full.”  Basically I just wanted to make sure my short time on earth was not being wasted.  So I just wanted to share my bucket list with you, and if you have any way to help me complete it or want to add to it, please let me know.

1) Run a marathon

2) Own a 4runner and/or motorcycle

3) Get another tattoo

4) Run/Complete a triathlon

5) Travel to every continent

6) Make a cross country road trip

7) Run a 5:30 mile

8 ) Get married to the most beautiful girl in the world

9) Go skydiving

10) Be a best man at a wedding

11) See a best friend come to know Jesus

12) Qualify and play in a U.S. Open

13) Play a “professional” golf course

14) Own my own business or company

15) Get a college diploma

16) Record a song

17) Complete a 7-day fast

18) Help in starting a church

19) See an EPL game live

20) Go to a world cup final

21) Have dinner with a celebrity

22) Perform on stage with a big band

23) Hike a 17,000 foot mountain

24) Get a hole-in-one

let me know your thoughts! please feel free to add

Cheers,

Brandon

stress

May 7, 2009

I’m convinced that stress does not come from God.  In fact, I think God wants us to be stress free, to stop worrying about tomorrow and give all of our cares to him.  Not because I’m really insightful or really in tune with God, because I wish I was, but because God tells us in His word that that’s exactly what we should do. Graduating is scary.  The real world is scary.  Taking risks is scary.  Talking to a friend about God is scary.  These all produce stress in my life, no doubt.  But again, I don’t think God wants me to handle it by worrying and living my life in fear and question.  I don’t think He wants us running around trying to figure out our entire lives in one day.  I think He wants us to use today for today.  God doesn’t give us these days to be wasted worrying about tomorrow, a day that quite honestly may never come.  Stress takes away from us getting to love God every day.  It puts a riff in the relationship we try so hard to maintain.  We put our cares and burdens in front of God, instead of giving them to Him.  

The last two weeks I have done nothing but worry about my future.  Worries that have carried over into my relationships.  But most importantly, it has worn on my relationship with God.  Instead of letting Him slow me down to enjoy what He has me doing today, I have been trying to ask Him what He has planned for me later.  

Today is what we’re given.  Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed.  What if God decides to come back tomorrow, will I be able to answer to Him when He asks how I was spending my time? The word “Urgency” has really been stuck in my mind lately.  What if my time has been spent worrying so much about myself, my life, and my future that I have lost sight of what’s really important, the great commission.  Bringing the Gospel to the world around me.  Going through the book of Philippians lately has really challenged me with my attitude, to have the attitude of Christ.  If I do take on that attitude, tomorrow would not be a worry in my head, my money and job would not be my main concern.  My main concern would be others, loving others enough to share the Good News.  

In Matthew 6, it lays it down pretty clear about worrying about our future, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” verse 34.  

Paul tells us in Philippians 4, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” verses 6 and 7.

And lets not forget about 1 Peter when he says, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” verse 7.

Its pretty clear what God has to say to us about stress and worry.  I’ve lost sight of this lately.  Luckily we have a God that loves us even when we try to take our own way and make our own plans.

GPS- God’s Positioning System

April 20, 2009

You ever wonder how it does it? GPS I mean.  Global Positioning System.  It’s amazing, assuming you drop enough bills to get a top of the line product.  That thing can lead you perfectly anywhere, right?  Tonight at church Pastor D was referring to this, and how it would be so awesome if we had a GPS for our lives, so that we could get to where we’re going, in the most effective way, with the least amount of errors, traffic, or getting lost.  Then I got to thinking about how God provides us with this, in Him and through His word.  It’s our responsibility to ask.  As I sat there in Church, I couldn’t help but think how God doesn’t fail.  How His wisdom and guidance never leads me into a traffic heavy area, or on a crash course into the middle of nowhere when I’m trying to find the nearest restaurant on my gps.  It’s so funny how time and time again, I get the directions from God, and I choose to take my own route, the one that I think is right, because I know best.  Often, and ALL the time I do this I find my way to be a disappointment.  I find it being a road to a dead end.  I love how in James 1:5, James writes to us and tells us “if you need wisdom, ASK our generous God, and He will give it to you.  He will not rebuke you for asking.”  I love that, and I read it thinking of course, I know I know.  But my life doesn’t usually reflect that me knowing means me DOING.  I know I need God to help guide me, and not just help, but take a huge hold of the wheel that I have my hands so tightly gripped on and let Him do the driving and navigating.  

When we take our own way, using our own GPS, and not asking God for His input, we get lost, misled, and hurt.  The only way I can say this is because I have experienced it time and time again.  My compass is jacked up.  We can’t love God and let other things reign in our lives as well, because as James goes on to say that a “person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind.” 

Where are our hearts?  Who is guiding our path?  Am I loyal in everything I do to God?  Or is my heart divided?  These are questions that I have been struggling with all night after hearing the message today.  It was encouraging to me to know that even though we reject God and His directions sometimes, He is always willing to redirect us to Him.  

 

Cheers,

Brandon

 

“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.”- James 1:5-6

 

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.”- 1 John 5:14-15

Your Grace IS Enough

April 2, 2009

I think accepting God’s amazing grace is one of the hardest things to do.  Not because its so unbelieveable, but because we are way too prideful as humans, and to put it bluntly, we suck.  We make like all about us.  We make life all about how much money we make, the things we own, and our social status.  I’ve really been challenged by Francis Chan lately as my bible study and I are going through his book, “crazy love”.  

 

I’m still missing the point.  It is not our “job” as christians to live perfect lives that are pleasing to God, because we can’t and we won’t.  My life has been so focused on following rules and aiming to “please God” that I have lost sight of everything He is all about, Love.  I’ve lost sight of what its like to be in a holy perfect relationship with Jesus Christ.  I want that back.

 

I love the point Francis made in his book that we can’t just love God on our own.  We can’t just decide to start loving God and expect to fall completely head over heels for Him.  We have to ask God to take over our hearts and mold them.  We have to allow God to break our hard hearts and let them be filled with Him, then we can start loving like He has created us to.  

 

Yes I sin, I mess up, I blow it, I make mistakes, and can keep going on and on about what I don’t do right, but what I finally have started to learn, is that being a Christian is about receiving a Grace that covers all of my past, and my future sins.  When I start to do that and accept that Grace, and fall in love with Jesus, there is no guilt or shame.  There is a grace that covers me.  And I finally begin to fall in love with Jesus because of the right reasons.  I start to fall in love with Him because He was willing to sacrifice His life for me.  I start to love Him because His love is unconditional.  I start to fall in love because I want to be more and more like Him, not to please Him, but because I simply just love Him.  The things I chase on earth don’t seem worth anything, and I start to see my life here as temporary and realize that Grace can now be extended from me to others, and that Jesus wants to use me to glorify Him here.

 

And the best part?  It’s 100% FREE and undeserved.  Now I have a chance to live a life like I have received it, and that my sin is dead, because of the death Christ suffered, for me, for you, for us.  

 

“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.”-2 Corinthians 12:9 

 

Cheers,

Brandon

When You Lose Sight Of It All, It Is Finished

March 20, 2009

So ya, I haven’t written in about 3 weeks, give or take, and I left off by saying I felt like a hypocrite writing, so I decided to take a break from it for a while.  This post is not about how my life has had this dramatic turn around in the last 3 weeks and that I have been able to run from sin and stop sinning and stop feeling the weight of the guilt that comes along with it.  If we could, and it were that easy, I don’t think there would be a need for God.  In these past 3 weeks I have come to realize that there is no such thing as working our way to please God.  There is not enough good, sinless, “perfect” behavior we can produce to please Him and change His view of us.  I have come to realize that living my life has been focused on me.  I realized that when I say things like, “I make sacrifices for God” or “I have been able to beat that struggle” is all crap, because it is all focused on glorifying myself.  God doesn’t call us to live a life of working to earn a better spot in Heaven.  I believe and have begun to feel that falling in love with Him is the most important aspect of life and that everything is rooted in that.  After studying some more of Francis Chan’s book, “Crazy Love” I have began to realize that loving Jesus produces the good fruit, not that me producing good fruit will get me in tighter with Jesus.  He used the analogy that we would have to stop loving in order to sin just like trying to go running while eating a box of twinkies.  It’s very counter productive.  We would literally have to stop running in order to eat the twinkies.  So not only do we have to stop “running toward Jesus” to sin, we have to make a conscious decision to pick some earthly, temporary, fleeting desire over Jesus, which tears us down, much like a twinkie would do to our pretty little 6-pack, or in my case wanna be good looking abs.  So the reason my life has felt crappy lately is not because of all of the sin in my life and struggles I deal with, but my love for God being on low.  I have started to fall in love with things of this world instead of God Himself, who has created me in His image and to love Him.  The same God that sent His one and only son to die in my place so that I would not have to face the penalty myself, and so that I can spend eternity with Him.  Friends, I hope this encourages you wherever you are at in life right now.  If we are living our short lives for us, or to “work our way up to Heaven”, or to try to please God or earn His approval, we are wasting it.  Jesus made this point quite clear on the cross when he spoke the word “tetelestai”.  This means “it is finished”.  Our wages were all anti’ed up that day on the cross, so why do we live in fear and guilt trying to make up for that? 

 

“IT IS FINISHED”, what magical, graceful, loving, pure, amazing, wonderful words those are, spoken to us, and still changing our hearts as we continue to fall more and more in love with Jesus.  

 

Cheers, 

-Brandon

My last post for a while

March 1, 2009

Theres been some pretty heavy stuff on my heart lately.  And one of the things was how I always tend to look at people who are these “Christian Leaders” and think about “how much them and God must be clicking” or, “How can they be saying one thing, and acting out another”.  I would consider myself someone who wants to portray the Gospel and rep Jesus in every aspect of my life.  Theres a problem with that.  My life doesn’t line up with that of Jesus’ most of the time.  I have become one of the Pharisees that Jesus said were fake.  I have become the one thing I never wanted to be, a hypocrite.  Now I’m not saying we all have to attain a perfect standard, because lets face it, we cant and wont.  But I also feel that people who read these posts might have this idea of me of “someone who really loves Jesus”, therefore I should act like it.  Well the problem is, I don’t act like it, and its getting the best of me.  Sure its easy to say all the right things, “Jesus loves you” “Just love God with all your heart”.  But doing it has been the hard part, and I don’t feel right about writing this blog which is meant to spur people on to love Jesus.  I’m not giving this blog up or anything, I’m just taking a break, time to get right with JC, who makes it possible to write about heartache and failure and love and grace and struggles.  Its not fair to you to hear me say one thing, and then not follow through.  I see it all the time, people who are all about Jesus, love Him, “live their lives for Him”, yet just don’t get it.  They don’t get that a relationship with Jesus means your life might look different, that we are “dead to sin because we are alive in Christ”.  This sickens me, it disgusts me and saddens me because people notice it, people start to question this “Jesus we are following”.  They don’t even want a part of it.  So I have found myself in those shoes, saying things, doing others.  

 

I don’t want to be a hypocrite anymore.  When I start writing again, I want it to be cause me and JC are so tight that I want to write about Him and how I’m seeing Him work in my heart and in the people around me.  

 

“Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed.”~ Proverbs 16:3

 

“Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven.”-Matthew 10:32

 

“He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: ” ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”-Mark 7:6

 

-Brandon

 

this world

February 20, 2009

I am convinced that the world we live in today pretty much sucks, and that is in no way the way God intended it to be.  Yesterday my grandma, was coming out of the grocery store and had her wallet stolen out of her purse by two guys who tricked her by asking for directions while the other grabbed her wallet.  really?! what kind of world do we live in? what kind of person, or man, would steal from a sweet old lady?  I want us to be able to make a difference in the world for the better, and I feel like we are called to do so.  I feel like I come up short in that area, that I dont love enough, that I don’t treat people the way they deserve, the way God loves them.  

 

I want this post to be short.  I want people to take the 5 minutes they would take to read this post, and evaluate ourselves.   As people that love Jesus, or don’t, or people that love people.  Are we making this world better by being here, or are we just continuing to steal from old ladies, or talk bad about people, or treat people badly because we just don’t like them? 

The reason I wrote this post is because I need to take that 5 minutes, and I hope that you would too.  Weather you see it in this messed up world or in our own lives, I feel like a little part of it can be fixed, starting with us, a generation of influence.  

 

cheers,

Brandon