Sometimes you’ll hear about people who had a tough home life describe their upbringing by saying, “I wasn’t hugged enough as a child” as a justification for why they have emotional issues today. That phrase could NOT be farther than my story. I often joke with people that I was actually, “hugged too much as a child”. I have two amazing parents who love the Lord and set a nearly perfect example for me and my two older siblings Ryan and Sarah on how to live out their faith. They did the best they could to give us a strong spiritual foundation. If I didn’t have a soccer game or practice I went to church every Sunday, youth group on Wednesday, and all the mission trips I could go on. While I learned all about Jesus I can’t really say I knew WHO Jesus was until a little later in life. I would often leave youth group or mission trips on a “spiritual high” which would usually last less than 48 hours before cycling back into old habits that I had just claimed freedom over less than 2 days ago.
Being the youngest of three I think I always craved attention and to be in the spotlight. I would definitely be labeled the “wild child” by anyone in my family. Growing up I was always the one to push the limits or go too far with a joke just to get a laugh or to be noticed. As I grew up I started to find my worth in this. I cared deeply about how others viewed me and the approval of others became my idol. So much so that I started to learn how to change my behavior to whatever I thought would please my peers in the most endearing way. I needed to be viewed as “the best” by everyone I met. At youth group, I could always give the right answer or “act the right way” to try to get the approval of others and prove that I was this awesome Christian but that simply wasn’t an authentic version of myself. If you saw me at school the next day it wouldn’t be odd if you saw me insult others to elevate myself. If you saw me at practice I would often try to cheat in drills or take shortcuts when no one was looking to try and win a sprint or a scrimmage. I had to be “the best” in everything I did and wanted everyone to “know” it.
As you can imagine this cycle was so exhausting and draining. Around my sophomore year of high school people started to piece together I was not everything I was portraying myself to be. I made mistakes with girls that went very public, said hurtful things to friends of mine, and even ended up getting in a traumatizing car accident that could have easily taken my life.
This was my sobering moment. I remember after the car accident I started thinking about what would have happened if I would have died that day. “Would I have made it to heaven?” I remember losing sleep at night wrestling with that simple question. “Would God take me into Heaven?” Unsure of where to go, I went to my youth pastor and ended up confessing to him all the lies I had been living and all the horrible things I had done. I remember being so nervous with how he would respond. Whenever I confessed, he just laughed to himself and said, “Despite everything you’ve done, Jesus still loves you, and therefore I do too.” It was so simple, but that statement changed my life. The acceptance and love I had been chasing was right in front of me through Jesus. I didn’t have to earn it, I didn’t have to put on a performance, I didn’t have to justify myself. I just had to let him into ALL areas of my life.
From that moment on I have tried to let God radically transform my heart. I try to live as authentically as possible and only seek his approval. I still have a lifetime ahead of me of lessons to learn but I will say the best authentic spiritual growth for me has come when I started to consistently and intentionally CHOOSE Jesus every day of my life. If you are someone who struggles with spiritual highs and lows, start incorporating time with Jesus into your daily routine. Spending time with Jesus on good days, bad days and all the in-between will help you develop a healthy dependency on Him and will help integrate His presence into all areas of your life. We are reminded of this the most in Matthew 16:24-25, “Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it”. Thank you for listening to my story, God Bless.
As the grandson of a Southern Baptist pastor, I’ve been in church as long as I can remember. Despite the early exposure to the Gospel, I didn’t accept Christ as my Lord and Savior until I was 23. Growing up in the Bible belt, it’s easy to take Christianity for granted… Church on Sunday and Wednesday, praying before meals, and saying “We will be praying for you” just seem like things that everyone did. Early on in high school, the false appeal of the world led me away from the Church… and eventually away from Christianity as a whole. I spent years living a very selfish and destructive lifestyle, living for myself and the world. Luckily for me, God didn’t allow for that to be the end of my story. The Lord met me in the middle of my mess, and gave me knew life. Purpose was always something I struggled with. Never feeling like I had a “knack” for anything in particular or a passion to pursue much of anything in life,
I’ve found purpose in Christ. Not only in understanding why I was made and what I’m here to do (Matthew 28:18-20) but also in a very specific way. After months of praying for purpose the Lord made it clear to me that I was to work with youth. The biggest thing I’ve learned and am continually learning is how to be obedient to The Holy Spirit. When The Lord made it clear to me that I was to work with youth, I immediately disqualified myself, and “logic’d” my way out of it…naturally I couldn’t escape the call on my life and started to learn what obedience looks like. A lot of the time it’s hard for us to come to grips with what Christ has led us to, and more often than not if we don’t see the outcome clearly, we disregard what Christ wants us to do all together. Of course, discernment and obedience are something that I continually work on but having a focus on obedience in your relationship with Christ is plain old transformative.
I can tell you with 110% certainty that a life totally surrendered to Christ, is the only way to truly live. (And I know, I’ve searched for meaning in every place you could imagine). Trusting Christ and living fully for Him was and is still the best decision I’ve ever made. That relationship is unlike anything I have or ever will experience, and if you don’t know Christ reach out to myself of the awesome fellas at God Gold, we’d be happy to talk through things with you! Trust me…it’s worth it!
This picture right here shows a portrait of my whole world. My amazing wife, and my little baby boy (not pictured he is still baking in her tummy). And we just got home from my favorite thing to do: Church. And if you are looking at this picture from the outside it may just seem like I’ve always had it together in life. But that’s certainly not the case, at least for me.
I was introduced to Christ as early as I can remember. And the greatest day of my life is still Feb. 21st 2006 when I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior sitting in the Palmetto Middle School parking lot.
But a few years later around the age of 16, I began to take my eyes off Christ and wonder what it would be like to live out in the world. I decided I could try it just for a few days….and if I didn’t like it, I could quit. But to be honest in my flesh I loved it. The Bible says there is pleasure in sin for a season. An old preacher said sin will keep you longer than you wanted to stay. And that’s exactly where I found myself. Miserable without any hope of changing myself. But I’m so glad I serve a God whose grace is greater than my sin. And in His love he sent many things to get my attention. One including, my junior year of college when one of my baseball coaches was involved in a drunk driving accident that killed multiple people. Through that God began to show me there is a much better life than the one I was living.
And from that day I began to ask God to forgive me for the way I’d lived and if there was anyway possible He could still use me I’d be willing to do whatever He asked. And I am so thankful God specializes in using failures. And through His Word I began to find out everything I needed was in Him. I no longer had to party and do the deeds of the flesh to find joy, I could find it in obeying His Word. I quickly found out although sin can be fun, living my life obeying the Lord was 10000x more fun. For Jesus doesn’t come to take away joy He comes to give joy.
And I’m totally convinced today out of all the lives you can live, the Christian life is by far the best! And through His forgiveness I’ve found a life that totally satisfies my soul. And my only prayer is that God would use me to share that message to others. Jesus is all you need.
In our daily lives we face traps in our path placed there by the enemy and intended to destroy, distract and take us away from God and living in His purpose. We can easily fall into these traps if we are not watchful.
How are we to be watchful?
Psalm 18:35-36 tells us simply to seek help from the Lord! Why? Because the Word says, God’s help is “saving, He saves us from stepping into traps we face all around us. His help is also our “shield,” so we can defend any attack or trap thrown our way from the enemy. God’s help makes us “great.” Not meaning we are great but when the root of our help is from God, He makes us GREAT, like an Olympic hurdler jumping over obstacles, Gods help rises us up to jump over and overcome any obstacle, temptation, or trap set in our path!
And lastly, God gives us a wide path for our feet, a wide enough path where we can look far ahead and all around to be “watchful,” of the possible traps set up by the enemy. God gives us a broad path so our feet will not slip and we will not fall!
There is traps all around us constantly, the difference between stepping into a trap of death or overcoming a trap to life, it all rests upon where our help comes from! If your help is from God, you’re going to be just fine!!! We get through the enemies traps by looking to God and walking with God, He will get us through victoriously every single time!!!
‘You have given me your shield of victory. Your right hand supports me; your help has made me great. You have made a wide path for my feet to keep them from slipping.’
‘Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. ‘
Take time to step back and reflect. Come to God, in His Word, in prayer, He will remove the veil from your eyes and allow you to see your true reflection in the mirror.
You want to be able to reflect on these questions; “Where have I been? Where am I currently? And where am I going?”
If we don’t take time to be still and come to God, we will be blinded by the busyness of life and not able to see who we are and who we are becoming risking the chance of one day looking back to not even recognize the person staring back at you in the mirror.
What goal should our vision be set to and focused on when reflecting? Being transformed more into the image of Christ daily! It’s our ultimate goal in life, as we walk through this process of following Christ, the process takes moments of reflection to check ourselves in the mirror to see if we are becoming more like that of Christ. Are you taking time to reflect on the daily?
If not start by stepping back and coming to the Lord, He will remove the blinders from your eyes and show you where you’ve been slack, what lessons are to be learned that He’s placed right in front of you and how to not only learn from those lessons but apply them to your life moving forward as you begin to look more and more like Jesus! That is the goal, to get there, we have to take time to step back, look in the mirror and reflect!
But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.’