Thursday, September 27, 2012

God is FOR you!

     In the chaos of life, we tend to get caught of in our own world that we can't focus on what is right or wrong. A lot of times that can lead us to act and react in ways that we normally would. It's part of this process we call life. I hope this story will bring some encouragement to your life, and hopefully show you that no matter what, God is FOR you, and never against you.
     I recently had the opportunity to engage into the best experience ever: mentorship. I've been in youth ministry for quite some time, and I have mentored many young men through the process, but I never saw the type of results I would see through this experience. It all started at a coffee shop; a bond was made; a friendship was developed; and now a young man's life is pursuing his Kingdom calling.
     Asking him in advanced, Harrison Aslami gave me permission to write what I am going to write. Harrison wasn't your typical 18 year old student. Even after many run-ins with the law, distrust issues with his parents, and relationships that never should have been pursued, he was smarter than he thought. Throughout his life, he dealt with many things that a normal 18 year old shouldn't have to deal with. Through it all, he always came out stronger.
     This summer sparked something inside of him. In the process of mentoring him, he made the decisions to follow the Lord, and to even give up his education at the University of Alabama to pursue ministry at a Bible college, Highlands College. This move was one that he knew would better his life, but it didn't come without obstacles first, as he has seen many since he moved to Birmingham.
     A few weeks ago, after a summer of sobriety, he relapsed and found himself smoking marijuana. Since it was apart of his life before, it was hard for him to not go around it. Not only was he struggling with this, but also a lack of understanding of God, and whether or not He was real. These questions caused him to lash out in a way that he knew would bring him closure; weed. What makes this story amazing is that he admitted to me the next day he had smoked. With an open heart, I told him that I wasn't mad at him, and that God doesn't condemn him. It's not how you fall, it's how you get back up.
     On September 18, Harrison found himself at a Hillsong Live concert, from row, dead center stage. With a simple "I'll be right back, I've gotta go to the bathroom," he was gone, leaving the concert. What happened that night, I won't go into details. All I know is that he found himself at a bowling alley, drunk. Harrison also admitted of other things that happened that night (the details that I've withheld), and pursued ways to better himself after this incident.
     The point of this blog is to say that no matter how many times you fall, God is still there, and He's the one who will help you up. It doesn't matter how far in the wrong direction you are, it takes ONE step to move into the right direction. You would think Harrison would be mad at God because his stuff was stolen from a bookstore (about $1,500 worth of stuff). After talking more with Harrison, I've come to find out that he's not the slightest bit of mad, but perhaps slightly disappointed in the thief's actions. Since that time, he was able to get a new laptop and backpack.
     With the beforehand actions, you would think that Harrison would get kicked out of ministry school. With other actions, you would think he should be in jail. But, he's neither. He's still in HC, and pursuing God now more than ever. I say all of this to say that your sin doesn't disqualify you. If anything, it qualifies you for God's grace and mercy. But, that doesn't mean we continue to sin. We turn from our sin, and seek God more and more everyday! Grace doesn't come through the repetition of sin; it comes from the repentance of sin!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

So unworthy--

     This morning, I find myself listening to "God So Loved" by United Pursuit Band. I can't help but to think of the most popular, famous Scripture of John 3:16. Just the mention of that Scripture can have you quoting it like it's nothing. But, while that's the reality of it, I've come to find out that we lose interest in what that Scripture actually says. I know in my life, I've dishonored God's word when a pastor reads from John 3:16, and I just sit there thinking "I've heard this so many times." Or "This verse again?" Have you ever felt that way?
     In this time and age, we're not seeing the miracles that the Scripture talks so clearly about. I wonder why that is? I heard a pastor once say that it falls on how we honor God's Word. There's third world countries who've never heard of Jesus that are seeing more miracles than those living in the Bible belt knowing Jesus their whole life. Why? Because when someone whose never heard of Jesus hears about Him for the first time, the honor is so strong that they're able to see things happen. When I heard about Jesus, it wasn't for the first time. I grew up around it (but, don't think for a second it inspired me to be a Christian). 
     The point I'm trying to make is that we dishonor God's Word so much that we allow it to just take a backseat in our mind, and we don't think twice about what we're actually reading. We're reading the God spoken, God-breathed, God inspired Scripture! That's major! If we could only grasp what people went through to get this book in our hands, it'll be enough to prove His existence. 
     So, here's the test:
"For God so loved the world, 
that He gave His ONLY Son, 
that whoever would believe in Him 
would not perish but have everlasting life." 
John 3:15

What's new? Remember the first love? Keep that fire, because it'll spark plenty of flames in your future!

Monday, September 10, 2012

I remember September 11th.

     It was Tuesday, September 11, 2001, 6:30 AM. I'm awoken by the booming voice of my father, "Wake up, it's time for school," in the sing-songy way he used to do it. Why'd he say it like that? It never made sense to me, plus he worried me saying it like that. So, I jump in the shower, gel my hair, get dressed, and pretty much, I'm looking pretty good, if I should say so myself. So, it's out the door, in the car, and heading to school! With my headphones in and listening to my new CD player I had gotten, I was feeling on top of the world. It was a beautiful days outside, I was happy, and more than ever, I had made the decision to ask my first girl to be my girlfriend (the cootie shot finally wore off). 
     Advisory class was never fun. We met for thirty minutes, then proceeded to our next class. That day was no different. I clearly remember sitting at my desk with my soon-to-be girlfriend, nervous, palms sweating as I slipped her a piece of paper. "I would like to be your boyfriend. Will you be my girlfriend? Check __Yes or __No." Simple as that. While waiting on my response, I couldn't help but notice that numerous students had been checked out. What? School has only been in session for like an hour? No fair! Cuz, I'm still here. I also couldn't help but notice that a crowd of teachers had surrounded the television in my teacher's classroom. I got out of my chair, looked to see what they were watching, and all I saw was a silver structure and smoke. My initial thought, "Oh, nice. A new factory has opening, and the smoke signaled the official opening." Wrong.
     I sat back down in my seat, and I noticed a paper on my desk. My answer! Score one for Cody, my first girlfriend! About that exact same time, I'm checked out. Score two for Cody, checked out early. I walk down the very empty halls to meet my dad, and I find him distraught. He calmly explains what had happened, and that's when I realized America was under attack. As we drove home, I'm mortified by the news on the radio. I couldn't believe someone could be so evil.
     When we arrived at home, of course we turn on the television, and see footage of terrorist burning American flags. It was a complete outrage. Quite frankly, I was scared.
     In March 2012, I had the honor of flying to New York to work with the New York Dream Center. The NYDC is committed to helping out the inner cities during times of crisis. While on that trip, I got to visit what is now called the Freedom Towers. Bigger than ever, they scale the horizon of New York with a reflective beauty I've never seen before. They may have fallen easy, but they came back stronger. I also got to visit the memorial site of where the two towers stood, now thirty feet waterfalls. I'm amazing of the beauty of the sites. Around the pools are the names of the deceased... Hundreds... Thousands. Wives. Husbands. Co-workers. Friends. All gone in an instance.
     Yes, I remember September 11, 2001, a day that changed America. God bless America.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

You ARE Blessed!

     Something has been on my heart a lot lately. I've realized in the midst of expectations, a lot of times we're let down. We "think" we deserve something, or we're doing all that we can to pursue our faith to the fullest extent. In reality, we're doing just enough to get by. Let me further explain.
     The blessing God has for your life is something that HE sees fitting for your life, not something you'd realize. As Pastor John Bevere once said, "God may send a blessing that you need in a package you don't want." Think about it, we know what our flesh wants. We live on this earth; we're merely human beings. We're fleshy people with fleshy desires. But, our desires do not align with God's sometime. God's desire is for us, yet desiring ourselves may seem a bit conceited- but that's a different story. The point I'm trying to make is that we don't realize that we're already blessed. 
     In my own life, I've had the blessings that I've wanted, and the blessings that God has already provided. Here's some examples:

Blessings I Want:

  • My car has been in the shop for almost two months now. Being that I do not like to rely on people much, I've been desperate to get my car back. 
  • Financial peace- Working in a dead end job doesn't help this area. My potential to tithe is slim due to the job I have, and the pressure to provide for myself as well.
Blessings I've Already Been Given:

  • After a few semesters from school, God has blessed me with the opportunity to go back to school. I never thought I'd get a second chance, but God is in the miracle working business. Being in debt, and on academic probation, the process was grueling to plead my case. It was worth it in the end when I walked into the doors to Shelton State to further my education.
  • Since my faithfulness to the ministry of the Kingdom, God has blessed me in that- even when it feels like a huge burden- my car is being fixed! And, I should have it back anytime now. There's more to this, but that's confidential, and between myself, God, and the people helping. I'm just truly blessed to be involved with these people.
  • In December, I have the opportunity to go to Los Angeles for a mission trip. From the talks I've had with people, I've been blessed with their friendships, and they've committed to sponsorship, which is a huge blessing. LA, here I come!
God is truly amazing. Don't live off the blessings you want, but realize that you ARE blessed!