Change

•September 12, 2012 • 1 Comment

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The Lord is growing me in a way I have never known was possible! I wanted to write a quick blog to encourage my brothers and sisters with a truth that helped me in my walk with Jesus Christ.

UPDATE: Jesus is revealing Himself through my brothers and sisters’ very practical love. The body of Christ has never meant more to me than it does right now. His love is expressed through His body on this earth, and that is you and I!

Every day I am getting healthier than the day before, both physically and spiritually. And most importantly, I am knowing Him more and more daily.

Naturally, as my spiritual health is elevated, my physical health cannot help but follow. I’ve recently started working out and paying a lot more attention to my fitness. I know I have many brothers and sisters in Gainesville, Jacksonville, and all across the world who are pursuing the Lord in spirit and also keeping physically fit.

I want to encourage all of you with a physical truth I learned with very practical spiritual application:

A trainer at my gym said it is beneficial to change workout schedules and routines. Change makes your body adapt and overcome variations in routines, and this makes you stronger.

I was thankful for his help, because this great truth had deep spiritual implications.

I encourage you to welcome change in your life!

Change forces you out of dormancy. Life has many seasons, including periods of inactivity. But the beauty of life is that it is constantly changing around us. Do not be afraid to embrace change.

The ebb and flow of life can lull you to sleep, but change is good for disrupting a boring life.

Change encourages self-evaluation. Some growth in life can measured, and some cannot. When change takes place, it is important to take note of your growth. It is encouraging to see weight increase on the barbell or your mile time to decrease! Take note of progress and push forward.

Change is necessary for growth. Without change, a routine will plateau. A plateau is when an activity experiences little or no growth. Changing a routine will help beat a plateau and continue growth!

Brothers and sisters in Christ, I love you and encourage to welcome change into your physical and spiritual lives!

In Christ,

Mike

You Can’t Break What You Didn’t Buy

•April 15, 2012 • 1 Comment

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Backslider

Falling away from God

These are a few of the terms that I hear many born-again Christians using to describe themselves and others.

I hear it surface most often when:
1.) Someone’s attendance at church meetings has dropped.
2.) Someone’s lifestyle does not gel with popular Christian standards.
3.) Someone’s not witnessing/evangelizing regularly.

It breaks my heart to hear redeemed people with this mentality of themselves, their fellow saints, and, more importantly, their God.

I am writing this post to share the good news- your actions didn’t bring about new life in Christ, so neither will your actions destroy that life!

There is not enough power in you to overcome the work of Jesus Christ in your life. If you are truly sealed by the Holy Spirit, you cannot undo that great work. God showed His love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Since we are made right by Christ’s blood, shouldn’t our relationship with God be even closer! (since we are bought by the death of Jesus Christ)
While we were in direct conflict with God’s laws, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shouldn’t we be saved through his life!

If good works were not a requirement to be given new life, why would they become a requirement to maintain new life? It is by grace that we are saved, and we continue walking in that grace.

The Bottom Line: God made a way for you and Him to be straight, and you can’t mess that up.

With love in Christ to all the saints and sinners,
Mike

Gainesville: Update 2

•February 15, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Oil and water don't mix. They separate, just like false religion and Jesus Christ.

*Preface*

I want to preface this post with a clarification.

I’ve noticed that a lot of what the Lord has been revealing to me has been correcting misconceptions I’ve had about Him and what He desires from me. Initially this concerned me, since Christ, I thought, should be foundational and able to stand on His own. He should be the starting point, not a response to something. Christ shouldn’t have to be a reaction to incorrect thinking, He should just BE!

Christ revealed a great truth to me.

It is true that Christ is foundational.
It is true that Christ stands on His own.

But when your foundation is something other than Christ, there is some breaking down that takes place. Some detoxification, if you will. So, that is why a lot of my recent updates have seemed like they are in response to bad teaching. God is cleansing me of the bull crap, so that only Christ remains.

These being true, I realized that Christ was not my foundation. This was a very disturbing realization, considering it was something I had been claiming for the past 20 years!

I “claimed” Christ was my foundation, but really had NO CLUE what that meant. Upon further inspection, my true foundation was adherence to whatever my parents wanted. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing (after all, I just wanted to be a good kid for my parents), it isn’t Christ alone.I learned this upon moving out of my parents house and living for myself.

WHEW, that was a long preface! I apologize and will end this soon (a little trick I learned from my Baptist upbringing ;)

The real reason I wrote this update was to share about an experience at Walgreen’s.

While at work the other day, a woman slowly perused the cosmetics section. I walked by, singing as I often do, and this woman began talking to me. She said I seemed happy, since I was singing and continued on talking to me. Eventually, she asked me in a whispered voice if I was saved or not. I told her that I was saved.

“Yes, I am saved. I’m in Christ and you are my sister in Christ!”

“That’s right! Tell me, do you go to church around here?”

“Well, I meet with a group of believers that all live in this area.”

“Oh. That’s nice. Well, if you ever want to come to my church, we are located on…”

I admired her for sharing her faith and inviting me to her ‘church’, but it got me thinking.

Welp, as I was thinking of how to word this next part of my blog, I don’t really feel the Spirit leading it anymore. Like I’m just talking to talk. So if you want to hear about the rest of this experience, check out the video on my page. If you don’t, oh well! The preface can just be enough for today :)

Love you guys!

In Christ,
Mike

4 Simple Truths About Popcorn and People

•February 8, 2012 • 1 Comment

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I got together with a few of the brothers for a Superbowl Party on Sunday night. Everyone brought something different- ribs, drinks, chips, and popcorn.

While my primal side enjoyed the ribs lathered in Sweet Baby Ray’s Barbecue Sauce, my spirit was curious about the popcorn. My brother, Lenny, brought a box of popcorn to the party and I took a package of it home with me (sorry, Lenny).

The next morning, I put the package in the microwave and set it for 1 minute and 45 seconds. After a minute or so, the sporadic explosions amazed me. I watched as the small bag slowly inflated with my deliciously buttery treat.

At one point in my life, I knew the science behind this salted mystery. Something about water boiling inside of it. A quick Google search confirmed my suspicions. What I learned illuminated a truth in my life that had a deep impact on my spirit.

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Within every kernel is a very small amount of water. It is stored inside the shell.
When the kernels are heated (about 450 degrees), the water changes to steam, and creates pressure. As the pressure builds, the shell eventually gives way, and the kernel explodes and pops, allowing the water to escape as steam and turning the kernel inside out.

4 Simple Truths About People and Popcorn

1. Within every person lies potential to be radically changed by the Lord.
The water within the shell.

2. Change occurs on the inside, and explodes outward.
The changes are often beyond the control of the individual.

3. After the explosive change occurs, a drastic change is visible.
Popcorn looks very different from a kernel. When Christ transforms us, we look very different from our former selves.

4. Pressure comes from within the shell, not outside.
If the force of pressure to change came from anywhere but internally, the kernel would collapse in on itself. Christians are no different.

These are 4 simple, but profound truths that the Spirit showed me.
What is the Sprit showing you? Please feel free to share!

Falling In Love; Being In Christ

•January 23, 2012 • 4 Comments

It is Sunday night.
I don’t even know where to begin trying to describe what happened tonight. I want to share my reaction, as well as a description of what took place. Unfortunately, I don’t think it is something that can be described easily. The best way I know how, up to this point, is like my friend Jamal said “like falling in love”. As I reflect on what happened tonight, falling in love is exactly what happened. I have fallen in love with Christ.

Christ was expressed through His body like I have never seen it before. It was so beautiful and so sincere that I can’t help but love it. It was natural and explosive! Love like I have never seen. Community like I have never been.

I feel like a moron just trying to put these things into words.

I feel like I did after my first kiss in grade school, only much, much deeper. Christ jolted my entire being to life through just this one encounter with His love.

My spirit has never felt this way. I left the meeting completely satisfied and fulfilled, yet craving more. His love was palpable. It was like a 3D view of Christ that I have never seen.

Like there has been something in my way of seeing Christ, but now it is not there.

This is why I left Bible College. This is why I left everything. And although I was anxious, nervous, and scared, I now see why I left it all. It was completely worth it. When Christ is beckoning for you, it is for a reason. He had something far greater for me than I could have ever tried to get myself.

In the words of Will Ferrell from the movie ‘Elf’,
“I’M IN LOVE, I’M IN LOVE, AND I DON’T CARE WHO KNOWS IT!”

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Nashville

•January 21, 2012 • 2 Comments

I am sitting in a bread shop/coffee house, drinking a Nutty Turtle (carmel mocha latte), and reflecting on the events of the past few weeks.

I have left Bible college, packed my life into my new car (thanks Mom and Dad), and driven south. I’d say I’ve had an eventful couple of weeks all amounting to this decision to move south.

This is my attempt at keeping my friends and family updated on my wild journey in Christ.

Yesterday (Friday), I had breakfast with my parents, my good friends Gabe, Nikki, and Joe. We met at Bob Evans and joked over breakfast. After eating and goodbyes, I got into my car (which was packed with my clothes, desk, and personal affects) and headed for Nashville, TN.

After a 6 hour drive and 1 hour time change, I arrived at my good friend Jamal’s apartment. He lives in a Nashville apartment with his wife Brandi and another couple. Jamal took me around on a short tour of Nashville and we ended up at a coffee shop called Fido’s (previously a pet shop with the same name). There, we sipped our respective drinks and spoke about Christ, His church, and how we are a part of this beautiful thing.

From the coffee shop, we went to Logan’s Steakhouse to meet a few brothers and sisters of the church. The apostle who planted the church in Nashville, Milt Rodriguez, and his wife Mary were waiting for us in the waiting area of Logan’s. After talking for a short while, a few more people from our party showed up and I was greeted by all. I really enjoyed meeting some of the brothers and sisters because they were all very excited to finally meet me (after all Jamal had told them). We ate and spoke about Christ and it was very casual and fun!

After dinner, I followed a brother named Phillip to Mark Champion’s house. Mark is a great guy who I got to meet over Christmas break. It was great to see him again, and meet his wife. At his house were about 10 other brothers and sisters and they were all watching a documentary. It was called Forks Over Knives- a very interesting documentary along the same lines as Food, Inc. and Super-Size Me. It detailed the health dangers of eating processed meats and the benefits of a fresh fruit and whole-foods diet. I will go into more detail when I write about this documentary, because it had a profound impact on the way I view the body of Christ.

After the documentary was finished, we discussed it casually. As the night went on, brothers and sisters trickled out and I followed Josh to his apartment since he graciously opened up his spare bedroom for me to use this weekend.

I awoke this morning, went for a jog, read, and came downtown for coffee. I walked the streets of Nashville for a couple of hours, hitting some artsie-fartsie shops and bookstores. I landed here at the Provence bread shop. It’s been a great day of private reflection and prayer. God gave me peace about an issue I was stressing about. I have been stressing about landing either in Nashville or Gainesville and where I am going to work.

But I learned that as long as I am seeking Christ, these logistics will be taken care of. I do not have an agenda for where I live, how I live, or what I do for a living. My only preoccupation is Christ. I am starting this journey of seeking Christ with no standard of living.

To pack my life into my car and drive down here was a little frightening, but I know why I am doing it, and so does God.

I am not afraid, only excited to experience living by Christ’s life.

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Why I left Bible College (a note to my friends and family)

•January 12, 2012 • 3 Comments

I have been asked by many friends and family members to explain why I left Trinity Baptist College. Depending on the timing and how the question was phrased, I have answered many different ways.

The quick, trolling response is..

“I didn’t want to shave my beard.”

The quick, vague response is..

“Jesus Christ.”

And my personal favorite (with greatest shock value)..

“I’ve gone crazy and am joining a cult.”

Although I enjoy a good troll, I have always followed these responses up with dialogue (often lengthy) as I explain some of what has been going on in my heart over the past few weeks. I would like to address the issue with a sincere and transparent heart.

How it started
If any of you remember my testimony, I realized my identity in Christ and believed on Him as my savior just before the end of my first semester at Trinity. While this radically changed the inside of me (spirit and mind) it changed little on the outside. I didn’t drastically change from a drug dealer to a Bible college student, I was already a Bible college student when it happened. I realize now that I chose to pursue the profession of “Youth Pastor” before I had the Holy Spirit living inside me.

It is admirable to have compassion for the youth, but a life developed on that foundation will not stand. Fleshly compassion is an improper foundation. The only proper foundation for a fulfilled life is Jesus Christ. He is the rock that we must build our houses. Or to use a New Testament picture, He is the true vine that we must abide in. For me, being at Trinity was trying to create branches that were not naturally rooted in Christ.

The wrong throne
In the future, Christ may lead me to train for the professional ministry at Trinity. But I want to be sent from the throne of God, not my throne of compassion. I found myself choosing a “good” and “acceptable” career and then hoping God would bless my plans. But I have had a change of perspective. Rather than offer my plans to God and hope He blesses it, I want to be sent from the throne of God.

My top priority
Honestly, I miss everyone very much. My fellow student body officers, the professors, everyone from Afterglow, everyone involved in FOOTBALL INTRAMURALS (woot-woot), all the guys in the dorms, my room mates, all of the chapel singers, and all the leaders that helped me along my way. Although I will miss the fellowship of my friends, professors, and co-workers, I must first focus on my ministry to God’s heart. It takes first priority. I hope our paths will cross again sometime soon.

In three semesters at Trinity, I learned many things. One life principle I experienced first-hand is that if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got.

If you are fulfilled, be content and abide.
If you are restless, you need to make a change.

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