Tiny Speck

How does one give thanks and show appreciation to THE ONE who has it all?

I’d give you my breath but it’s already yours.

I’d offer my time but it’s not mine to give.

I’d sacrifice my strength but…it comes from you.

I’d offer my wisdom, but how can the created tell the creator how to create? How can one offer wisdom on things he himself does not yet understand?

Does a baby eagle tell its mother how to fly or is it the mother who pushes him out of the nest?

I’d risk my safety and well-being, but apart from your protective hands I am not safe or well, I am not well-off..

My thoughts and actions seem to be the only thing of transient value but how can I offer something I myself cannot control?

I try to think pure thoughts but, the moment I think I have control, a myriad of twisted thoughts rush into my mind and compete for its already meager influence.

To try to give something away that controls you is like giving the wind permission to direct your sails. Like a slave trying to give away his master.

How could a being so great and so self-sustained possibly benefit from a mere consumer like myself?

What would a painter want with such a messy and obtuse work of art?

Billions of other creations far more magnificent than myself and what have I to offer?

The Birds have their songs.

The stars have their radiant burning light.

The flowers have their colors and the skies have their ever changing artwork.

Even the smallest speck on a microscope adheres to its purpose in a more impressive and dutiful way than I and yet, you bother to notice my chaos. More importantly, you bother to care for my chaos. To orchestrate through and be in the midst of my Chaos.

I’ve noticed All things come together to offer a symphony of worthy praise to God because that is what they were created to do.

But where do I fit into the mix? What numeric could I possibly possess that is worth changing the entire equation for? What significance could I possibly hold that is worth giving your only son for? Even your angels, who are FAR more powerful and FAR more pure than I wonder who I am to you?

Where does a Pawn fit in at the kings table?

Is the God of the universe wrong or am I so much more loved and valuable than I’ve been programmed to think?

Is this life about my pleasure or is that the biggest insult to a God who created me for so much more?

A prince who masquerades in the street as a joker is no prince at all.

A diamond in the ruff has a fraction of its value until it’s been shown to be as such, A diamond.

I cannot offer something that is not in my possession to give.

What I can offer is what I have been created to do.

The gifts and talents that have been ever-so-carefully woven into my fabric.

The blessings that I did not ask for and I do not deserve are my fragile bow tie.

Unconditionally Loving others, and worshipping THE ONE who deserves worship seems to be my daunting yet simple task on this earth.

Yet, you cannot love unless you have love inside of yourself. You cannot adequately praise unless you’ve been shown who it is that is worthy of praise.

Thank you God for filling my heart with your love.

Thank you God for showing me a minuscule taste of what pure love truly is. Thank you for showing me your unprecedented worthiness of praise through your creations who seem to perform so much more beautifully than I. Thank you for allowing me to play a significant role as an insignificant speck on this slide we call life.

Thank you for loving me before I loved myself.

Praise be to God for accepting an offering as wretched as myself. Glory to the one who deserves ALL praise.

-Speck #8948586537

Unrelenting Love

If you have ever been to my room you know that is possibly the best place to relax and think… or sleep for 5 days. Tonight I felt relieved, it seemed that I have been so busy and caught up in life that I have not taken the time to spend quiet time with God. I’ve found that is it is so easy to prioritize other things in your life first with the excuse that, “I’ll get these things done so I’ll have more time with God”. We know this isn’t always the case.

I decided I would have some quiet time and think about school, summer plans, work and any things that I needed to get done. Before you judge me, try it. I got to my room, (with no windows) lit some incense, turned on Olafur Arnalds, shut off the lights and closed my eyes. Instantly I felt drawn towards God, I begun to pray and found myself apologizing more than anything. Apologizing for not putting him first, not always being as good of an example as i could, not reading my Bible hardly at all or doing it in sucha manner that it was no more than a textbook or duty. The list goes on and on. I asked for forgiveness for one wrong and moved onto the other. I begun to pray that God would help me in certain areas and grant me what I asked. As I was rambling on and on about how poor of a Christian I was, I got this feeling, a thought, it was not a thundering voice or a lightening bolt from God that caught my room on fire but it was a very clear and calm message. STOP. As I was telling God about how much of a failure I was I felt like there was one response, I LOVE YOU. Almost as if God was saying, “why are you complaining about all of these things that you could have done better like I don’t already know them? I am still here”. My response was, “but God I’m not worthy, I am a horrible Christian, I don’t deserve you”. I kept getting a response “Son, i know all these things, I love you, there is nothing that you can do that will change my love for you, I have ALWAYS been there and I ALWAYS will”. Finally I stopped and just decided to listen. Here I was continuing to try to convince myself that God doesn’t love me as much because of how short i miss the mark. I was complaining to God about how much I didn’t deserve him and in essence, not allowing him to mend the areas that needed to be touched. I was trying to tell God what was wrong with me but not allowing him to help fix the issue. As I sat there on my round spinny chair that I payed way too much money on, I began to shed a few tears reminiscing. I thanked God for who he was and started to reflect on my past. I had such a sense of peace surrounding me. I recalled all of the church camps, all of the counselors and all of the opportunities I had to reach out to God but I did not do it. Hundreds of different opportunities where I could have called out to God but I didn’t want to let go. The common factor in all of these? God did not stop pursuing me. He continued to chip away at my heart. He patiently and lovingly did not stop the chase. Although I was oblivious at the time it did not negate that work was being made. The resounding message was “I didn’t stop pursuing and loving you then, why would I stop now? Why would things be different?” I sat there dumbfounded and grateful that I serve a persistent God. Regardless if you FEEL like you are close to God or if you have not been doing your part, God is still there pursuing you. Like gravity holding us down, his love does not change whether you don’t think you deserve it or not. The same God that has been fighting for you before you were born, is fighting for you now. His love is not contingent on certain circumstances like we see around us today. I sit here with a definite conclusion; something monstrously greater than myself has been reaching out, beckoning that I grab onto his hand. It doesn’t make much sense to me, but there is beauty and fulfillment encapsulated into the thought that I have the privilege to get a miniscule glimpse of a love so great.

I am not a charismatic person and very quick to write off out of the ordinary experiences but I can’t deny that God had a message to give me. No matter what you do, good or bad, God’s love is the same. There is a God that has been fighting for your place in his family since before you could form thoughts. Don’t let your doubts or downfalls keep you from God. It is hard to notice now but he is desperately trying to bring you closer to him. I know that this does not mean things will be smooth sailing from here on out but i recommend that every one of you spend some quiet time, turn your phone on silent and find a quiet place. I recommend that you think back on your life and all of the times that God was trying to bring you closer to him. You will thank me later. Thank God that we get a small glimpse of a love unlike anything we have seen before. Thank God that he is a persistent God.

There will be highs and there will be lows but the fact remains; we serve a God who will continue to pursue us whether we notice it or not. A God that continues to pour out love for us whether we deserve it or not. I hope this encourages someone as much as it does me; you are wrapped up in the midst of the most spectacular paradox ever seen, an all powerful God who is merciful, just and gracious at the same time but above all else, displays an unrelenting love that cannot be shaken.

 

[Late night blog posts are less likely to be read but like my schoolwork…its when the best stuff happens]

I Believe

Recently i found myself surrounded by thousands of people all shouting the same phrase, “I believe, I believe”. I was taken back by all the noise and emotion in the room. You could feel the energy in the room like a shock to your hand. Like chills up your spine. All around me were people standing with arms raised high crying out to their God. I felt like i was moving in slow motion. Everything going on around me like a blur, i sat down and soaked it all in like a sponge. The words “I believe in God our Father, I believe in Christ the Son, I believe in the Holy Spirit” were being sang over and over again. Every time the lights went up i noticed more people pouring out their hearts. More people screaming at the top of their lungs that they believe. At that point in time every person in the room would not have hesitated to give their money, travel to Africa to be missionaries or witness to every person they bumped into. I thought to myself how awesome it was that so many people were packed into the room to worship Jesus and the work he has done; then i had a strange feeling, one i did not expect to feel in the situation. I felt guilty and a feeling of despondence. How can this be? There are thousands of people pouring their hearts out to God self-proclaiming that they gave their life to him. Thousands of people around me with seemingly one thought on their mind, God. Thousands of people claiming to be true followers of God that will do whatever he asks. “Thousands of believers”. But how long would they be able to keep this passion up? Do they keep this passion for Christ once they leave the building? How much of this is a show? Are they showing it in their lives? Am i showing it in my life? How much of this is just stirred emotion and not a show? Will I be able to keep this intensity up in a month and how? Do I think too much? All of these were thoughts that crossed my mind at one point throughout the next week. I could not help but to think that if half, even a third of the people in the room (including myself) lived their lives as boldly as they (we) were crying out, the impact in Oklahoma and the world would be astronomical. To have thousands of people not only pouring their lives out at church during worship but also into the lives of every person they ran into. Spreading God’s love continually not just momentarily..It would be like a contagious disease. Breaking the ‘weekend warrior’ stigma that is so easily given out to Christians.Thousands carrying that same emotion and passion outside of the building. The words ” I believe” bounced around in my mind like a pinball machine for the next few days. [Speaking to Christians] It is so easy to get caught up in the motions, especially in the Bible-Belt state of Oklahoma. It is so easy to just believe in something without fully understanding the ramifications of what that means. When you believe in someone you are putting your faith into that person, you are identifying yourself with them and their character. For me to say i believe in someone but don’t want to completely accept what they say or who they are is not truly believing. If i only assimilate with someone when it is convenient for me is that really believing that they will do what they say or trusting who they are? Believing in someone only works when you believe in the whole package, good and bad. Fortunately, we have the opportunity to place our belief into someone who does no wrong, who has no extra baggage that we just have to ‘accept’ as part of them, we believe in someone who pours out his love for us regardless of how we act.

John 13:35 [speaking of loving others as Christ did ] says; “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

For me to say ‘I believe’ and not act like it is not truly believing. I say all these things not as insults or to be taken the wrong way but as encouragement. Don’t just say the words and get sucked into the emotions without knowing what the actual words entail. The phrase “quality over quantity” comes to mind. There are not many Clifford’s on the road today (1994 red Gmc Sierra with Burgundy interior that purrs like a beamer also known as my truck) but you better believe the quality and worn splendor of Clifford is unmatched.

I was convicted and encouraged at the same time. Grab your Bible and get into the word, shut out everything and go to a quite place (or lay anywhere under the stars) and think about what the words ” I believe” actually entail (in regards to the immaculate person you’re placing them in). I am not going to try to fool myself or others and pose the foolish misconception that i will live a perfect life without moments where i am not as close to God as i should be. That, however, does not mean that i cannot ask for help. James 4:8 says, “Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded”. It is better not to claim “i believe” at all than it is to claim him only when you’re emotionally driven and at church or in a favorable situation. Thankfully, it is never too late to draw near to God. I am no better than anyone else (mostly likely worse) but i feel convicted when i have a chance to speak and benefit others and i do not.

I don’t say this things in a pompous or condescending way. Take some time and step out of all the emotion. Step away from all the flashy lights and action. Spend some time with God and really figure out what it means when you say the words “I believe”. On a personal and real level. For most of us we have slightly veered off course and just need a gentle breeze to send us in the right direction. For others we need a drastic re-route. Whatever the case is, be honest with yourself and with God and allow the necessary change to take place. God works with you WHERE YOU ARE AT. There is nothing wrong with it, but you shouldn’t have to tell people you believe. Actions speak louder than words, your day to day life speaks much louder than how much you show on the weekend or when you’re emotionally driven.

We should be known be the way we love others, not by how well we broadcast how much we believe or how good of Christians we are. If every person spent more time showing we believe instead of saying it with their mouths, there would be no need to tell someone you are a Christian. Next time you hear the phrase ” I believe”, take joy in what that actually means, what that entitles you to. If you believe in him how much more do you think he believes in you?

What this made me realize in my own life as well as the life of others, is that, by stating the phrase “I believe” means you are held accountable for your actions. It opens an entirely different world up. People notice you. They should not simply be words. It also means you will have help from the one you believe in. It reminds me of this time a little kid was watching me play basketball at church, for some odd reason he believed i was the greatest player he knew (why i love children).It probably messed his shot up for life but i shot some more then i helped him shoot until he finally made a layup (while i held him up). He air-balled every shot but i kept encouraging him i believed in him and that he would make it. Finally i held him up and gave him just enough extra height that he made the shot. He would have never made the shot if i didn’t let him kick me in the face while i held him up.This is a very poor illustration but it gets the point across that we are constantly being rooted for. God is constantly trying to bring us close to him, once we are his and we believe, we have someone who not only is rooting for us, but becomes a part of us.

I felt convicted because over time i noticed i allowed the words become monotonous and the atmosphere diminish the very words i was saying. I slipped into the scene and started to robotically serve God and focus on the “Christian things to do” but in focusing on that let my heart drift away from personal-religion to action-based religion. Christianity is so much more than saying the right words and eloquently presenting yourself. It is a daily struggle to fight off the old self and draw closer to the one you have set your belief in.  I felt like i got hit in the face because here i was surrounded by so many people who all had the intentions of worshiping God but i dismissed what that should look like in all of our daily lives. What that would look like in Tulsa or Owasso Oklahoma. How much people would notice. I hope this was a wake up call as well as an encouragement to others as much as it was to me. We serve a God who is continually trying to draw you back to him, don’t allow the act of being a good Christian or  doing things correctly to get closer to him distract you from what God wants, Your Heart.

Words and actions are nothing without the correct heart, draw close to God and next time you hear the phrase “I Believe”, take joy in the magnitude of what it actually means.

Don’t just say the words, Show them.

 

 

 

Magnificence Displayed

This past Spring Break i had a chance to visit the Grand Canyon and spend a night and day seeing what all the hype was about. Unlike my last visit to the Grand Canyon, which consisted of ALOT of neon clothing, handstands on every ledge and countless yoga poses on unstable rocks, (pictures soon to come) this visit was much more tranquil and relaxed. As you can imagine, Ten minutes into the trip I had an encounter with a park ranger for taking pictures over a ledge that had minimal to no safety and scaring all of the chinese tourists up above. Perhaps it was because i was wearing shorts in 40 degree weather but the Park Ranger was kind enough to direct us to a free campsite a mile outside of the canyon. That night i did what every wilderness man does, I made a fire and told the girls to make some food, surely they were tired of me asking for food by now so they did not bring me food, nonetheless, a fire was made and i found myself under thousands of stars wondering how i got so lucky. How did i get wood to make a fire without an axe you may ask? well, i ran and jumped as high as i could grabbing onto branches on the way down, sometimes this worked in my favor and sometimes it didn’t, id like to say the gunshot noise made from the breaking branches and occasionally me letting out a yell out is what kept the bears away that night but that’s besides the point. Being the star-gazer that i am, I couldn’t get myself to sleep in a tent while under such beautiful bombardment of stars, so the girls slept in the tent and Caleb and i Hammocked (me on-top of course). Although i had planned on convincing everyone to skip it, we had all agreed on waking up around 5:30 and finding a spot in the grand canyon to watch the sunrise. Earlier on i mentioned that i, being the true, majestic, camper that i was, kept all the bears away (My backup plan was to let Caleb sleep below me so he gets eaten first). Maybe you can say i did not have faith in my bear-scaring abilities but that night i had some of the most vivid and real-life dreams i’ve ever had in my life (stories for another time). Looking back id say it was either WAY too much chalula sauce or God was trying to speak to me but it is safe to say i did not sleep much that night. As I awoke between two huge pine trees under the Magnificent blanket of stars, i noticed that the moon had disappeared and the stars were like glitter on my ceiling when i was 15; no matter where i looked, they just seemed to be multiplying and getting brighter. I couldn’t help but to feel so small and insignificant under those stars. Directly following my thoughts of insignificance came thoughts of importance. It occurred to me, if i had never been born, the world would still go on (perhaps alot less stress for certain people but still move forward). At this moment i realized something, I AM SO HAPPY GOD IS NOT LIKE ME. God could so easily wipe the entire earth and start again, but he doesn’t, instead he sends his own personal son to die for Noah Erb, someone who seems to continually test how close he can get to death, continually messes up and someone who is in no way worthy to be thought of by an ALMIGHTY God, let alone be deemed righteous and an heir.

As i said earlier, it got pretty cold, i did not however, know it would get below 20 degrees. That being said, caleb claims he suffered near frostbite and potential death and woke up around 5AM and made another fire. I practically crawled into the fire, ate some hot-dogs and we packed up and were on our way to the grand canyon. At the Grand Canyon i had one goal, smoke a cigar in the middle of a canyon while i watched the sunrise. If you thought God was gonna save his message of ‘its not about you’ for another day, you were wrong. You can see in this picture that we were in a secluded spot with not much room for error (picture doesn’t do justice), what we didn’t know is that every word we said was echoed throughout the canyon and the people hundreds of yards away could hear us like a microphone. EVERY WORD. Apologies to everyone. Since i was already awake, i wanted the sunrise to be as spectacular as it could possibly be. 1000-foot drop off on both sides, peacetea, cigar, a bro and a strategic spot.. I was waiting for God to do the rest. Smoke billowing out like a chimney, i waited. To my blinding satisfaction, the sun came over the ridge, its glistening radiance hit my face and filled me with warmth; as it stretched its magnificence out, it lit up the canyon with a plethora of different colors. A few minutes later we convinced a couple of guys to climb down and join us. Call them angels if you’d like but they had eggs and a skillet in their backpack, that’s close enough for me. We talked and ate 11 scrambled eggs overlooking the canyon, that by now, was lit up with many brilliant colors. I didn’t say anything about it then but i could not get the beautiful image and thoughts out of my mind. It occurred to me, (not to diss on the Grand Canyon) but the Grand Canyon is a representation of us, the Grand Canyon in the pitch dark may not seem so spectacular, if you have seen it before you can imagine how beautiful it is, but in the dark, it is just that, a canyon. When the light hits the canyon, it lights up with an abundance of brilliant colors.. it is transformed. Hundreds of pieces of the Grand canyon that you didn’t know existed are revealed and then, its true beauty can be appreciated. Without the light, the Magnificence of the Grand Canyon cannot be displayed. I couldn’t help but to think of jesus as the sun; without him in our life we are nothing more than a  empty canyon. It was a good reminder that once we are filled with the light our true beauty and significance is revealed. I have been gifted with so much and it is easy sometimes to think life is all about me. The fact of the matter is that, without Jesus, in the grand scheme of things, i would be nothing, i would have nothing and my importance would be miniscule at best.

All of this is to say, Yes you are important, you have value, you have brilliance but without Jesus, those things and potential have not been brought to light. In a world where i am blessed beyond belief it’s so easy to forget i am not the main character.. what a great reminder that in comparison to all of creation i am so insignificant. Without the light in me, i am no more than an empty vessel. THANKS BE TO GOD that he sees enough value in me that even though i am nothing compared to his works, he knows every single hair on my orange/gold head and loved me enough to send his SUN into the world to give light…Don’t let that be an excuse to boast in what you have but as a platform of the illustration of Gods love. Let’s not forget that it’s not about us but lets give thanks to God for giving us light and allowing us to, like the Grand Canyon and the stars above, Display his Magnificence.