December 17, 2017

We Are Human, and Fear God Only – Holy reminders from a friend.

My friend, Andrew Mannheimer, who I did a special blog series previous this year with his Hip Hop music videos always brings to light the revelation of truth as it pertains to his relationship with God, much like the mirror of his own music expression.

I once asked him about a famous New York Times best-selling author by the name of Donald Miller (author of Blue like Jazz), “How did he write all these books and publish them nationwide?” Andrew’s response remained simple, “He’s just a man, James…human. Whatever he is capable of, you are clearly capable of as well.”

I think we forget, I included, that famous and accomplished people are in fact just human. Some people are famous when they might not even have talent of any sort, maybe because they are pretty, if that is even considered a talent.

A couple of years ago I further spoke with Andrew about my fear of the unknown….perhaps something about the real world after graduate school at Auburn University. Again he stated, “There is nothing to fear but God. When you fear earthly matters, you block God from the light of His glory. I lean into a resource that never reaches depletion: God.”

Andrew is in his mid-twenties, but the truths he expresses are so simple yet amazing. I think Andrew demonstrates that relationships (since he is indeed a great friend), specifically with God, become the most important element in life that matters. We will take our Christian brothers and sisters to heaven, not our stuff.

This past year has been a really weird one. I still remain perplexed at how the end of 2012 fell apart in some ways. God sometimes disguises blessings we do not understand now but later do.

Perhaps 2013 is Our year! It is the year of relationship with God and Cartee! I am not trying to fall into the trap of resolution goals most never follow through, like losing weight for instance. Some go hard for one week and then move on to life as it was before. Sometimes a focus on God is all we need. I feel that Andrew would say something simple like that, a simple truth.

John Piper further reminds the fear of God is the only real fear for the life of a Christian! This is a very short clip…so watch….

I WILL FIND you on my KNEES – First Day! New Transition!

“All I can is that John and I wanted more than anything to follow God’s will for us and our family. We had a holy fear of acting outside God’s will, so we agreed to pray that He would show us what that was.” – Kelly Rosati in her book, Wait No More (John is her husband).

I started my new job at the Southern Territorial Headquarters today, and I find myself refreshed by other like-minded people who tick like I do, focused on Jesus as believers in a collective group for Kingdom-building mindsets. After orientation, I found a card from someone in my office with the mention that she would be praying for me this week as I transition into this new career. I have long dreamed of a job that I do not beat myself up and over to drag out of bed to get by, simply for a paycheck. I feel awakened and encouraged to do this job and rise as I encourage others with a meaningful purpose for something bigger than myself. As many say, knock on wood, I may have found something in that passion area of public relations where I campaign and market for a cause I believe in. I find it mind-boggling (“Am I really here in Mid-Town Atlanta?”), a little nerve-racking (new job, new city, and knowing no one), and exciting (“Wow, this could potentially become something amazing!). All the thoughts combine mutually for a few hours of lost sleep and doubts creeping into my mind.

The decision to be and move to Atlanta is now made, and I am not looking back! I am a new creation with a new opportunity with individuals that obviously believe in my abilities to lead, create, and build the face of a reputable organization to the southern youth of America. In the midst of hardship and economic uncertainty, this generation could use more Jesus in any capacity. And I am glad to bring that message of hope to anyone through creative communications.

I keep thinking, “How did I get here?” I prayed to God, sometimes loudly stuck in the stagnancy of survival and routine with a Thank-God-Its-Friday job rather than Thank-God-Its-Monday job. With this phrase, I mean I want to be so excited to get back into the office I cannot hold or hide my excitement for what I love doing. I admit that I need to spend more time with God in His Presence, praying in thankfulness, reading the Word, and believing in the requests I make like this new position, PRAYERS ANSWERED!

Another analytic wonder is the blessings shown to me in a new full time opportunity of epic proportions and another part time opportunity possibly coming behind it. What further astounds me is the support and belief of my family. My father and mother have done everything, and I mean EVERYTHING to transition, to believe, to push, to inspire, and to encourage me with this move to a new city with a new career direction. While we have sometimes not always seen each other eye to eye on my own mental adversities, I owe my success with this new adventure to them just as much as I do God. Thank you, Mom and Dad!

I believe when you find God on your knees, God explodes blessings and favor into your life. Now please understand I do not just mean the routine legalistic bedside manner prayer. “God, please do this. Please be with this person. Please help me to sleep well. Please help me to be promoted. Please help me to pass this test even thought I never studied.”…..I mean when you really get down on your knees and say, “Okay, I am not sure where you have me or how you will have me, but here I am. Here are my true passions. Please place me appropriately where you will call me to obey you in line with these passions.” When you seek God with sincerity, He will answer your prayers with that same sincerity.

Like Kari Job says in the following song, I will find you on my knees! When you truly want something in change for God’s Kingdom, find it on your knees. Ask. And like me currently in shock, God will call you by name! I guarantee it! My life serves as living proof.

The Call From the Orphan – God’s Heart! Why Do Churches Hesitate to Rise Up?

I once heard Chris Hodges, Senior Pastor of Church of the Highlands, ask his 15,000 member congregation, “Do you know why some people are gay? I think I figured this paradigm out.” We all sat on the edge of our seats with the expectation of some Scripture revelation, the secret this long debated question about to be answered. Hodges continued, “I think it is because they are lazy.” The building audience erupted into laughter at his proclamation. He asserted that a relationship with the same sex was much easier than one with the opposite gender. I must agree that my guy friends and I never fight! I really cannot remember the last time I fought with a guy, seriously. I admit that a relationship with a significant female other is real hard work. I understand Hodges’ logic on some unusual levels. After his awkward moment of humor, Hodges began his Sunday sermon.

Does this same statement apply to churches that ignore the cause of the fatherless (in addition to the widow, the poor, the diseased, the underprivileged, and so on)? Are church leaders and passive congregational members lazy? Most will claim that the temptation to fall into complacency in Pop Culture Christianity is easy. How many people genuinely volunteer and serve in capacities outside of a Saturday Southern football tailgate? In my opinion with where I worked in the past two years (not the Salvation Army headquarters), most settle for each night’s schedule of sitcoms and sporting events on ESPN. Many don’t do anything outside of family and watching television for the local community and international relief. Even my own family is guilty of this epidemic on several accords. We conduct ourselves according to convenience.

I serve as the current Christian Alliance for Orphans State Coordinator for Orphan Sunday. I am responsible year round for gearing and managing events, seminars, discussion panels, and anything related to the cause of the fatherless, even radio interviews. We specifically focus on Orphan Sunday, November 4, with a concentration for a national and international movement where thousands come together for one day to stand for the orphan. The Christian Alliance for Orphans stands as a joint coalition of over one hundred organizations who commit themselves to save every orphan for the sole sake of God’s Glory. We were after all adopted by our Heavenly Father!

Recently I approached several churches in the Greater Birmingham metropolitan about participating on Orphan Sunday, November 4th. Between last year (2011) and this year (2012) with this annual celebration in advocacy for the orphan, I definitely received more “No’s” than “Yes’s,” sometimes even with simple requests for orphan-focused prayers, still to receive another “No.”  I even had ministers commit to events this year with their given word without following through, some things I worked hard on through my own free time through volunteering, only with nowhere to implement my hard work.  A great example of someone who fights for the orphan is Jon Walden, Executive Director and on air personality for Revocation Radio, a nonprofit radio station who plays Christian music that honors God, healthy for the ears of youthful listeners (as opposed to the cussing of gangster rap or any other colorful music).  Jon is interviewing five individuals over the air with leaders from five different orphan-related organizations. Walden remains busy with public appearances, youth rallies, a family, and his own mission with his nonprofit ventures. He makes the extra effort for the sake of ministry, not excusing the assistance with his own busyness with life responsibilities. Many could learn from his diligence for all the causes he stands for simply for the sake of Christ. Nothing more else motivates him so. Jon Walden rises to the challenge, and I wonder if other nonchalant ministerial leaders will do the same.

Another example to emulate as a country is Rwanda who seeks to eradicate orphanages, YES, THERE WILL BE NO MORE FATHERLESS in the next twenty years within this country! I mean no disrespect to this country or any other African country, but in the eyes of western politics, this is a third world entity. Countries with much more economical means stand still while those less fortunate pave the way for something many should have initiated a long time ago! Leaders in Rwanda have risen together as The Church to train citizens within their country to raise orphans. Rwanda does not ship their troubles to other countries. Internally they seek to improve as a country within their own borders. Nothing wrong exists with international adoption; however I am inspired when a country heals an epidemic for the fatherless at home, for example our failing foster care systems, which we still have yet to remedy in the United States.

While hosting events is not necessary with commitments, fighting and caring for the orphan worldwide is not an option. In fact, God commands it through His Biblical Word. For those of us who lack initiative, reference the following Scriptures:

Isaiah 1:17 (NIV)

“Learn to do right; seek justice.
Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
plead the case of the widow.”

James 1:27 (NIV)

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

Exodus 22:22-24 (NIV)

“Do not take advantage of the widow or the fatherless. If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry. My anger will be aroused, and I will kill you with the sword; your wives will become widows and your children fatherless.”

John 14:18 (NIV)

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”

Psalm 82:3 (NIV)

“Defend the weak and the fatherless;
uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.”

I think the question remains worthwhile to consider: Are leaders in ministry too lazy to fight for the cause of the orphan? The blessing and burden to carry the cause cannot fall solely on those who actually rise to acknowledge the world’s fatherless. The rise for change is not easy. Anything for the sake of Christ will never be easy. But leaders like Jon Walden step up to play for eternal reasons often beyond those who live more on earth than in heaven with human indulgence. I grow tired of fighting without the support of local church leaders. I challenge the next time a door opens for church leaders to rise, instead of offering lame excuses for why this conflicts with a year round sermon scheduled series, year after year ignoring our call to solve the problems of this world. If Rwanda can, I am confident any United States congregation can as well. It is time to stop the laziness and to work hard for God’s Glory. Together we can and together we will fight for the fatherless and end the orphan epidemic. It is not impossible! It is very doable! And if you make the decision to lead and take a stand, God will honor our hard work for His Heavenly Heart.

Personally seek to feel the CALL of the ORPHAN through this video about Orphan Sunday, 2012! We are adopted! God never abandoned us! And we should never abandon them, the fatherless!

Orphan Sunday 2012 from Christian Alliance for Orphans on Vimeo.

Give your work leader a chance! Suprise potential just might blow you away!

In the last eighteen months, I experienced change with my occupation on many levels. I transitioned with three managers, one who moved on to another job and one fired for inappropriate reasons on his own accord. Lessons on when to stand against wrong-doing became an interesting experience. I learned timing is paramount as it relates to confronting someone in the wrong with a superior of those you disagree with. I learned the structure of organizational communication, the chain of command, and corporate politics.

My second manager still encourages me in the example he set and in the admiration he respectfully built in relationship with me. He moved on to leave for circumstances beyond his control.

I personally showed up to perform the tasks of my job, quiet, and frustrated with the fact I lost what I considered the best manager ever employed as my personal authoritative figure. He led with intentions to empower his employees as adults. And he provided wise sayings with quotes I often read in fortune cookies. He had a way of saying the right thing at the exact right time needed. It was divine in some ways. Hopefully you understand my frustration on some levels with these thoughts losing this leadership figure in my life.

I felt the organization both of us worked for partially remained responsible for his sudden departure. I was disappointed more with the situation than any one person responsible for the results of such. What God planned for the next leader at the workplace surprised me when this particular person in the eyes of the outside world did not necessarily warrant the esteemed chance to lead in this capacity. Perhaps my own bias even affected myself when I did not bother to get to know this individual. Sometimes a package rough on the edges once opened reveals a great gift to be had.

This particular man has greatly surpassed any expectations I ever had. He honestly has surprised, impressed, encouraged, and befriended me, stepping up into the position as a genuine and capable leader. I never really gave him a chance from the beginning. I was reminded to not judge a book by its cover. Sometimes what we perceive or originally think turns out to be false presumptions. I think we must try to not think one way or another, to give the person a chance. Do not expect anything profound, but not disrespect the person with misconceived notions of any kind as well. Just let things be. And control what you can control. You might find this person’s personality rises up to the new challenges of leadership, impressing yourself and those around you. In fact, you might realize you are fortunate to work under someone who cares and encourages you in whatever you do. You are blessed as I am even when you originally did not perceive such a blessing. Give someone the chance today to surprise you in great ways, realizing God works in mysterious ways, especially with different leadership potentials.

Do we overcomplicate things in our lives? Or know someone who does? Best Strategy: Simplify!

While these comics are funny, they illustrate why many of us need to simplify things. My own life examples below demonstrate how over-complicating matters make life all the more frustrating and perhaps even comical as well.

This past week I took on a carpentry project with my father. He originally claimed that the chore was a simple three screws to seal a crack between roof tiles and a gutter affected by recent storms in Alabama. Three screws turned into a four day project and several hours to screw in almost every gutter half way around the house and replace gutter guards that appear more difficult to snap on than opening a beer without a twist off cap. All I did was hold the ladder for ten hours until dark on two days after my normal nine hour day at the online college where I work. And the odd coincidence remains that my father seeks to sell the house once I move out in a month to go to Atlanta for a new job. I am not entirely convinced our new buyers will climb to the mountain tops of our roofs to admire our gutter handiwork.

My grandfather brings similar habits to the table where my father inherited his own time management skills. A fifteen minute project turns between five to six hours when errands to home depot require the right tools to buy. My grandfather has Zoysiagrass that requires meticulous attention to keep healthy in extreme heat. While visiting both he and my grandmother this past summer, he hired a staff member at the Smithfield’s Golf Course to pull out ALL the weeds and Fescue grass in his yard without the appropriate spray that kills those types of grass within a week, in addition with a request for me to volunteer on this pointless pursuit of grass ecstasy. To measure the struggle here was that the more weeds and Fescue grass covered the yard far more so than Zoysia. The yard was impossible to save according to the grass management technician of the country club hired by my grandfather to uproot each weed without “hurting the good grass.”

On another occasion, my grandfather decided he wanted to pressure water spray a small section of his driveway which discolored the concrete from the rest of the pavement. That small mistake turned into a two day project pressure water spraying two driveways, sidewalks, and then sealing the concrete with mops….yes, mops! Please do not ask! Of course, what was planned and promised as a chill restful weekend turned into a sweat shop in one hundred degree weather for both me and my father.

While I am grateful to assist my father and grandfather for all they have done for me, I believe they often complicate simple tasks just to stay busy for the sake of busy. When individuals retire, they suddenly possess time for projects that when working full time probably would never become necessary, as they often are, not necessary for such perfectionist ways. As many managers in my workplace state, “Work smarter, not harder!”

Another example in my own life to illustrate the observations expressed here. Working two jobs while studying for finals in graduate school filled every minute of every day with a rare possibility of reaching more than six hours of sleep by chance. I did not have time to procrastinate, goof off, or do busy work for the sake to consume time. While I applied myself as best I could, my goal was to get a ninety in each class, which was an A and essentially the same thing as a hundred. And I graduated with a balanced life and a 4.0 GPA from graduate school. The approach proved effective with the best of results. Another almost daily example includes my books and blog entries. I write and then proofread over time, but a message presented at 90-95% perfection is better than that message never being shown to the world.

Most tasks we do can always be better done. In thirty years, I truly try my best to not waste time because time is my most precious resource, limited in abundance. Things in life are already difficult without making them more difficult than they need to be. Next time you take on a gargantuan project consider if it is worth the time you sacrifice to do the things you really enjoy. Sometimes as I discovered with the recent experienced examples, time becomes wasted with only a result of exhaustion with other more important items left unattended without making the most of time available. As I move to a new city and job opportunity, I really am trying to remain cognizant of making the most of my time to become as successful as possible getting the job done as necessary without overextending myself with unnecessary extras. That is the nature of today’s society and technology. Unless retired, Millennials lack the time to rise professionally when consumed with the tediousness of pursuing busy just to be busy.

Do not overcomplicate things in life. Simplify and do what needs to be done. Pursue your best in the areas of your life that really matter….family, friends, relationships, heart, and dreams!

I highly respect Joyce Meyer and her words of advice through her writing and inspirational talks to Christians like myself who seek to simplify life. I believe you will find the following two video talks insightful on how to simplify daily life and the responsibilities we each have.

 

DO NOT BE A FLAKE! Abide others’ time as your own!

Now I would like to comment that my family recently has supported me more than perhaps ever before. My sister, brother-in-law, mother, and father continually stand by and behind me no matter what the circumstances; however outside of family, many have disappointed me and let me down. Some are not as fortunate as me with such a supportive and caring family. For that I am extremely grateful. Please also realize that I am not picking on one gender over the other. This blog entry pertains to men just as much as it does women.

My request remains easy: DO NOT BE A FLAKE! There are enough people in today’s society that let others down. Specifically with family and friends, I am agitated with those who no longer take their word seriously. They continually cancel plans or provide lame excuses for why they cannot make it to whatever they said they would.

The solution here is also simple: Do not commit to something if you cannot do it! The following verse from the Bible simplifies this idea even further:

 “All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” Matthew 5:37 (NIV)

I remain continually confused and frustrated on how many individuals truly struggle with this Biblical principle. I admit at a time early in college I used to overcommit myself. I was afraid to say, “No,” however I quickly realized that overbooking myself led to a miserable existence. Working towards the commitment of relationship requires hard work especially if you are married or have children. Many hide behind their families as excuses for backing out. I cannot tell you how many times someone tells me they need to spend time with a significant other after already committing to do something with me, a group, or others. I hope when I marry my wife, she allows me to live outside of our house with an occasional night on my own or with close guy friends. I think sometimes you should take a stand in a commitment you make. When someone pleads for you to back out on your plans, stick by your brother or sister you already made original plans with.

I challenge you: DO NOT BE A FLAKE! Decide to be a committed friend, or simply do not take on more meaningful relationships. Your unbalance of time exhausts and wastes the time of those who etched out blocks in their own schedule to spend time with you. When someone plans to spend time with you only for you to back out, does that truly honor God?

It further disheartens me when leaders fail to abide and manage their time with appointments and commitments to their followers. I especially see this with spiritual leaders who feel anointed in their higher status the stage brings each Sunday morning. A leader is no more important in the eyes of God than their followers, and it becomes discouraging when leaders see things differently than this perspective. None of us are higher than another.

I really mean to write a blunt honest entry to challenge you in your spiritual walk. The more you disappoint and back out of your commitments, supposed friends lose faith in you, and you lose credibility. I lost friendships because I put forth much more effort than others to stay in contact or spend time with. I got tired of chasing those friends. Are there things that come up sometimes? Sure life happens. But does this excuse every single time you cancel if this is a disease in your life? Eventually it tires others, and before you know it, no one will take your word for what is because you can never keep it.

DO NOT BE A FLAKE! Because if you are a flake, then without honor, a flake you will be in your own failure to keep your word and commitments you make to both friends and family. Let your No’s be No’s and your Yes’s be Yes’s. That sounds easy enough to me!

This video on commitment adds another level to your faith with deep challenges. Fulfill your commitment to friends, family, and God by keeping your word to those most important in your life, your relationships. Give your heart, and give your commitments the follow-though individuals deserve!

Perception – Reality versus Imaginary? Where do you live?

 

It has been a long time since I saw the movie, High Fidelity, but I do love this scene once recollected as it relates to the fantasy versus realism of relationships. Americans get caught up in their imaginations of what an ideal relationship quantifies often without the realization that the ideal factor is Christ. Through a focus on Christ, only then will harmony become realized. We have all fallen into the trap of love or like where we visualize in a false dream what role someone will fill as a certain something. These internal thoughts often mislead. A person must reciprocate feelings and often times they will fail to fill the shoes of the perfect vision you imagined in your mind. American Pop Culture falls into this trap because we tell ourselves that our lives are all about us. Things are easy. And everything will go exactly as I planned it or expected. There is nothing farther from the truth.

My advice is simple here: FIND someone who lives in reality and appreciates it in the simple things! Find someone who WANTS you!

Many times we pursue those who have a sense of entitlement, too good to extend a chance to the common man or woman. I do not know about you, but after thirty years of often pointless pursuits, I want to make someone feel wanted as they make me feel wanted. The real perception of another person comes true with a genuine sincerity towards all walks of life. With keen observation, each of us can feel a cynic, a narcissist, a self-righteous person, or someone who looks down upon those who actually live inside the fire of a pursuit.

Leave those types in their own imaginary worlds. Pursue reality in the perception that honest believers in Christ illustrate. Some in their own immature ways will at least for this time’s sake fail to extend the chance Jesus gives to all. Their own sense of self denies you any possibility of a chance at your dream or fantasy. And reality brings us back down to earth. Those who lack the ability to dream will not succumb to the belief of another person’s dream. In fact they will look down upon your dream caught up in the reality of whom and what they consider best only for themselves. A selfish insight blockades the potential for a servant’s insight for an eternal mindset.

Sometimes in the pursuit of reality we eventually discover what our imaginations dreamed of since the beginning of prayers and hopes as it pertains to love. The girl or guy you imagined in the crush or a high school or college cognitive photograph becomes the person you envisioned several years later down the road. You focused on the right things, and God rewarded the pursuit of integrity by bringing together both reality and fantasy in an ideal match made by heaven just for you.

Surround yourself with those who want you, and then Hunter Hayes’ lyrics here will ring true in his hit song “Wanted.” No imagine feeling like this!

 

A Great Night with Great Friends – A Night of Gratefulness. Do you have the blessings of relationship?

Sunset in Redondo Beach, California, May 2012

My personal reflection in the horse eye, another shot also taken in California. May 2012

On Thursday night, the Samford after Sundown program displayed completed photos and assignments of both me and the other students in the program, rewarding those who received the program certificate this semester and past year. You could consider it the graduation of the program. The photographs above were shown on display at the review in representation of my work.   

I found the experience joyful because my father and two very close friends, Taylor Brandum and Jude Ross, showed up to support me. Yes, I enjoyed the creativity expressed in many excellent works shown by all the beginner, intermediate, and expert photographers, but my visible support system uplifted me with feelings of thankfulness. Jude attended The Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry. He experiences and expresses gifts of the Holy Spirit unlike any person I have ever met. His wisdom, friendship, and general humorous personality brings joy to all those around him. Taylor is another character in his own world. He reminds me of Tigger from the popular cartoon, Winnie the Pooh. His energy never diminishes, and he smiles without hesitation. I am surprised his smiles have not stuck in a permanent position like The Joker the Batman cartoons, comic books, and movies. Jude and Taylor are just those types of guys that everyone wants to surround themselves with. Their presence spreads good feelings to those they are around because of their positive, fun outlooks on life.

When I experienced some down times in life about two years ago, I will never forget when Taylor took me on our ride through the Miracle Mile, cruising the Summit Shopping Mall Boulevard to check out girls, something teenagers do, not thirty year old men. If unfamiliar with Birmingham, you may not realize the specific store locations here, but you will soon laugh from the imagery of the adventure depicted. When you make a round trip from the Barnes and Noble and then back to the Toys-R-Us along the side walk of the outdoor shopping mall, essentially one lap, it equals approximately one mile. We drove at about three-five miles per hour, driving people crazy behind us because of the slow speed, sometimes causing them to yell, cuss, and beat on their steering wheel. Of course, it was hilarious to both of us! Girls sitting at the ZOE’s restaurant laughed each time we drove by in our admiration for their physical beauty, eventually causing us to stop the car, park, and meet them with their inquiry: “What exactly are you doing?” On another instance, Taylor even stepped out of the car to speak with one girl about her choice of jeans from his favorite store on the Miracle Mile. Apparently, they bought, liked, and wore the same jeans. We stepped into the Coconut’s Music Store where Taylor proceeded to blow through a plastic horn like a large trumpet in a parade. The sound rang through the store louder than the music on the speakers in this actual music store. Of course, I almost feel over onto the ground in laughter. This is just the kind of guy Taylor is without an outgoing personality and tall, blonde-haired physique. For reasons that still baffle me, girls flock to his attention, and I mean beautiful girls! Maybe it is just his love for the Lord and genuine ability to smile all the time no matter what the circumstances.

These are the kind of friends that make life worth the walk of fellowship with others in Christ’s name. We went out to eat at Okinawa Sushi and Japanese Grill on Lakeshore Parkway near Samford University (where the photography review occurred). While eating, Jude could not stop sneezing. A cute blonde girl (named Nicole) drinking wine and eating dinner with her mother kept asking Jude if he was okay. I believe she flirted with all of us dressed up in our white shirts, black pants, and dress shoes. I mean how often do you come across three eligible bachelors and studs. While not intending to, we looked like three white men in black with a new movie that would leap over the Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones saga. Men in Black 4 (MIB4)….I kind of rather like the sound of that! We talked about our latest crushes and the frustrations that often come with such pursuits of the female gender and college football…..you know the usual guy talk over dinner.

These are two of the most positive guys I know in their relationships and walks with the Lord. I open up and get real with these guys. While I tend to be overly serious at times, they goof off the entire time, realizing the true joy God brings into our lives. These are the type of friends worth pursuing in life, those who guide and advise with future colossal decisions, those who uplift you when you are down, and those who you just want to be around because of the joy in their hearts. I could not and will not meet better friends than this. I am grateful to know these two guys and so glad they came out to support me on the night of my photography review at Samford University.

At the end of dinner, we briefly prayed out in the parking lot over some of the challenges and hopes we talked about over dinner. To pray with such believers illustrates the connection we have through Christ. I hope as the reader you are able to connect with such men of faith. I am glad, fortunate, and blessed to know both Taylor and Jude who both believed in me at times when I did not even believe in myself.

Freedom in Christ – Experience It! Believe in the Infinite Power and Love of God! Do you believe?

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” Mathew 6:25-27 (NIV)

Now I know this is a verse most remain familiar with; however it assists me to believe that Christ in Me shuns and evaporates all worries away. If God takes care of the birds of the air, he will surely take care of us. Honestly in self-reflection, I ask both you and myself: Do we add value to our lives with worries in the nag it tears down on our minds?

I become exhausted when I think about such things. The Law of Attraction simply premises that negative thoughts lead to negative thoughts or positive thoughts lead to positive thoughts. That observation is both Biblical and true. As Tinker Bell pleads with Peter Pan to fly on the way to Never Never Land, “Think Happy Thoughts, Peter.” Think happy thoughts, indeed, we should. Perhaps that is the calling of us as Christians to spread the joy of Christ through positive thinking.

Do you ever feel weighed down by worries, concerns, problems, challenges, troubles, or adversity? Recently I have felt more anxiety than usual. I believe decisions are coming where I will change lives just as much as others’ lives will change my own. Constant change is necessary for those who seek growth and constant improvement for every area of their life, but it can also become nerve-racking as well.

I also feel the negativity of others bringing us down sometimes as well. No matter what you do or say, some always combat you in defensiveness or think of something bad to say no matter what the situation, maybe even just in regular conversation. I find this observation especially interesting when you try to grow closer to someone, only for them to turn you away with a protective survival mode like attitude. I understand protecting your heart when another hurts you, but when you hurt those who care about you because of another person’s past actions, you distance yourself from what could potentially turn into a very good relationship, friendship, or possibly an eternal life partner. I know we all have encountered people of this nature.

I believe the simple truth is that we find freedom only through Christ as believers. It often comes to down to simply kneeing before Christ bedside with the request for freedom. Believe when you ask that God relieve of your worries that he will. Really all we have to do is let go and believe the request that we make. Christ will care for you! Christ will have you! Christ will love you! I listed four principles that have changed my life and will continue to do so as I focus on a year of Christ, change, growth, and movement forward for dream sake.

1.) Focus on today and only today.
2.) Believe that good things will happen again.
3.) Surround yourself with positive, faith-building relationships.
4.) Realize God’s Infinite Power and Love.

The same chapter in Mathew mentioned at the beginning of this blog entry ends on this note:

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Mathew 6:34 (NIV)

When we focus on today and the responsibilities of each hour now, we live in the present where future moments live and stay in the future without blocking the work of God we are destined to achieve. The Enemy will say, tempt, or do anything to keep us off track from achieving our purpose-filled, driven commission. If you believe and realize God’s Infinite Power and Love, you and I together will become unstoppable in any endeavor we attempt to pursue and successfully surmount. Bring it! We are to go down and get down with God’s business to save souls, orphans, widows, and anyone that needs service in His Name. Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him FOREVER!

Someone told me recently, “God is pleased with you right now. You do not need to publish books, plant churches, and start nonprofits for God to notice your goodness. For you live in Him, and because he is good, so are you!” Now that simple reminder of truth speaks to my heart as it perhaps does you. Remember to think positively about such thoughts in forever-inclined-eternal-mindsets to realize that God is the most powerful advocate who works for your behalf. He loves us all more than we can humanly understand or imagine!

Let’s end on an amazing passage from The Message Bible. Read, refresh, and become inspired!

“It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It’s a wonder God didn’t lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah.” Ephesians 2:1-6 (The Message)

Intentional Living through Christ with Intentional Decisions and Communication

“Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.” Psalm 37:4-5 (KJV)

I mentioned on this previous blog entry my new family member through future marriage, Joe Friday. I guess in reality I will call him my cousin-in-law. In truth I always felt like he was family. Joe represents honor in its formidable truest fruit of the Spirit. Psalm 37:4-5 depicts his walk with the Lord almost perfectly. In pursuit of what he believed to be true, he never wavered and thus eventually received the desires of his heart.

He persistently through challenges and in some ways against the odds accomplished a feat that I might have given up on at this point in my life. I perhaps have fallen more than most when it comes to my own love life. I have epic saga stories of one written dramatic performance after the other. The love life narratives provide for an interesting text in my first major book expected to release some time in the next two years. While the stories will make you laugh, they make me cry.

I do not doubt the drive in my life to accomplish; however I do doubt society where Christianity lives in the shadow of selfishness and often corrupt politics to “serve the masses,” through the sacrifice of a few. For two years, I have written, edited, and polished a strong three hundred page manuscript with a full time job while also trying to start a business, not to mention an online presence and constant content generation for this blog. And yet I still have not given up on the dream to become a well-known, published author. I probably will never stop writing. I have come to enjoy the creation of words just that much. I am also dedicated to losing weight as I train for two half-marathons and two full marathons. I consider myself driven in many ways and push myself about hard as I am able in so many ways. The pursuit becomes exhausting. Is the pursuit of a significant other supposed to be so hard?

A while I ago I spoke late into the night with a friend where I feel that I failed to communicate on every level, and I have a Master’s Degree in Communication. I am not sure I will ever claim to understand the complexities of gender communication. I wish I could have had Deborah Tanner’s book, That Is Not What I Meant, in my lap whiling talking to this particular female. It was and is clear in my mind this just may not work out with my most recent attempt to pursue and woo.

Ideally I hope that the pair of two people should just click. Joe Friday and Matteye Monday just clicked even when others tried to separate these star crossed lovers. They stayed the course and prevailed to the dream of a marriage union through engagement.

I believe and even witnessed that Joe made an intentional decision to follow his faith for six years. In my finite mind, that sounds like a really long time. No one else knew his course but him. In fact, many probably encouraged and even perhaps tried to persuade him to give up. Now following your heart when everything else around you suggests to do otherwise (including supposed wise counsel), that is intentional living with an intentional decision. “This is what I am going to do because I know this is what I am supposed to do.” Now that is unwavering faith with an intentional decision! While I pursue such ideals with my own personal direction and ambitions, I struggle to do so with a girl. In fact, nice guys often get stuck in the “give-me-a-chance” syndrome. Since when did good Christian guys need to use consent or permission to spend time with a female? Are men given the ability to lead anymore? Or do girls sit back choosing and selecting the cream of the crop while guys pursue and put it all out there? These questions boggle my mind as Southern Culture perverts the fun of dating and getting to know someone. As mentioned before in Twitter feeds and blog entries, it all has to be so serious all the time. All I want to do is watch lions on a field, or in a better case Auburn Tigers at a football game with someone to experience the absolute most imaginable fun possible.

“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’ ” Isaiah 30:21 (NIV)

Joe certainly lived this verse in its essence in the promise God makes. I would like to think I am listening to hear “the way” wherever that might be with the Lord’s lead.

I do not think Matteye ever needed convincing of Joe’s character. She just knew. I again hope and believe that is how it will work with whoever you or I belong to in a relationship or a marriage. And hopefully even further no one will need convincing. Love or like (loving or liking someone) should NOT be a sought-after bargaining chip where once you do a certain something (buying flowers, writing sincere apology letters, or speaking over the phone for extended periods of time) everything in the world is well again. If someone needs further convincing on why they should date you or whoever, perhaps they miss the God-given chance to something special with someone who loves the Lord with all their heart. There is certainly a getting-to-know you stage, but there is also a chance-to-dance stage. While a good fight for a good gal can bring forth great fruit, make sure your heart remains intact if you make the same decision Joe made for the duration of six years. He knew in his heart this was right. And apparently Matteye did too. If the other person lacks that foresight, then perhaps like me in the past, you are both talking with and pursuing the wrong person. Find another potential significant other who is just as intrigued for and by you as you are for them. God’s promises are evident and clear in His Holy Word:

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And 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 (NIV)

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” James 1:5 (NIV)

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

If you have thoughts on this on this entry, I am open to feedback and criticism. There is room for comments on what you think, and I am eager to see just who is reading this entry and why.

The following questions remain unanswered on the readers’ part. What do you think about the following?

1.) Is the pursuit of a significant other supposed to be so hard?

2.) Since when did good Christian guys need to use consent or permission to spend time with a female?

3.) Are men given the ability to lead anymore?

4.) Or do girls sit back choosing and selecting the cream of the crop while guys pursue and put it all out there?