Guitar Hero

posted Sep 18, 2016, 1:29 PM by Christopher Myers

I've noticed that whenever I play Guitar Hero, I do really well...until I start thinking about the notes. As soon as I start thinking about the notes, and when to hit them, and in what order, and what finger is what color...I totally blow it and usually get booed off of the screen before I can regain my rhythm.

Life can be that way sometimes. Scripture tells us that when we keep our hearts right with God, He directs our paths. Sounds easy, huh? But then, we like to mess things up by thinking about them! Sometimes it can be out of concern of not screwing up. Other times it can be because we don't like how we feel we're being led. Or it might just be because we don't feel like we know what the answer is. But regardless, our heart often knows the right answer without much effort, because God gave us His Holy Spirit as our guide when we committed our lives to Christ. And so, we can trust that as long as we put Him first, He is guiding us. We don't have to worry about what to do, or what to say, or when, because He is in control. That's not to say that we don't screw up sometimes, but we can trust that He will let us know if we are about to make the wrong choice. And, we can hold on to the fact that when we inevitably do screw up, we can fall back on His Grace.


posted Apr 24, 2016, 8:09 AM by Christopher Myers

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.  -- Jeremiah 29:11-13

For many years, I've considered this my "life verse." The passage of scripture that is at the core of who I am, who I strive to be. The passage that I refer back to when I go through rough times, that I revel in when I go through easy times. I've been thinking about that passage of scripture the last few days, and in context with the whole book of Jeremiah.

One of the biggest travesties about our modern cultural Christianity is that we often fail to look at scripture contextually - both in how it relates to the world that it was written in, and for the audience it was intended, as well as how it ties into the passage of scripture that it is actually a part of. In other words, our culture has a really bad tendency to pluck a piece of scripture out and use it to fit their whims or justify their points, ignoring the real purpose and intent for which it was written.

This is especially the case with this passage of scripture. People often translate and quote it as simply "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." Sounds pretty awesome, huh? We like positive pieces of scripture like that, so we pluck it out and paint it on a plaque that we stick on our living room wall. (I know, I have one too :P) But we lose SO MUCH when we ignore the context around scripture like that! In reality, Jeremiah wrote this to the Jews who had been literally kidnapped and carted off to another country to live in exile, while their family and friends remained back home. When we look at this piece of scripture in context, we see that the exiled Jews were really struggling, and so Jeremiah was writing for a couple of reasons - to encourage them and lift their spirits, to remind them that God knew what was going on and why, and to encourage them that He has plans for their lives and that He will be watching over them even while they're off in this foreign land.

We also lose a lot of detail because what we read has been translated from the original Greek and Hebrew text into English. And as we all know from reading funny commercials and translation failure lists on the internet, there is so much that can be lost in translation from one language to another. The word at the core of the passage is the Hebrew word shalom. It is a word with multiple connotations, and is often used as a greeting -  peace, prosperity, wholeness, wellness, restoration. In other words, what Jeremiah is writing to the Jews in captivity is meant to encourage them - God is reminding His people that even though their situation seems dire, and they are distressed and depressed, God is in essence saying - Hey! I know what's going on, and even though things seem hopeless, I have plans for your lives. And they're not just any plans, but to bring you peace, and wholeness, and prosperity, and restoration!

Broadening the scope of this passage to look at the scripture around it, God is telling the Jews in exile - Your family and friends back home are being really stupid, and STILL ignoring me. So things are going to be really tough for them because I'm going to respect their wishes for me to leave them alone (including protecting them from the people around them by the way.) But for you - yes, you're in exile a long way from home. But it's only for 70 years, and then I'm going to take you home. In the mean time, I want you to build houses, and plant gardens, and have kids, and let them get married, and thrive where you are. While the folks back home are walking away from Me, I'm here with you. When you pray, I'll hear you. When you look for Me, you'll find Me.

It's really interesting the perspective we see from this. While the Jews in exile in Babylon saw it as a terrible thing (being torn away from home, sent somewhere that was unfamiliar to them,) in reality God was moving the people who were faithful to Him away from the people who were being self-destructive, so that when the really bad times were about to come on the folks back home, the Jews in Babylon were going to be protected from those hardships! Not only that, but He tells His people through Jeremiah that they are to invest in the area that He's taken them, that the folks around them will be blessed through them. They aren't supposed to plan to just exist there, twiddling their thumbs and waiting things out. But they're supposed to live their lives as if they're going to be there forever, and then when the time is right, God will take them back home.

Eye drops

posted Apr 3, 2016, 11:24 AM by Christopher Myers

Matthew is going to be three this summer. As hard to believe as that is, it's amazing to look back on the last several years and see how my life has changed along the way.

To be very honest, I wasn't excited when I found out that Christina was pregnant. In fact, I was terrified. We'd only been married for about three months, and were still learning what it meant to be husband and wife. On top of that, we were barely making ends meet. So the thought of Christina being off work for a couple of months, plus all of the new expenses of diapers, clothes, etc. really concerned me, since we'd already cut out pretty much all of the extras from our budget to try to keep from dipping into our rapidly-depleting savings account every month.

Needless to say, things haven't gone the way that I had feared, or ever could have anticipated. Shortly after finding out that Christina was pregnant, God blessed her with a full-time job that helped us pay off a fair amount of debt, which has since allowed her to be able to step away from that position so that she has been able to stay home with Matthew for about a year now. And so even though things are still tight, I know that by working together, and trusting God to provide for our needs, that we'll be able to make it.

Even more than that though, I've learned so much more about my relationship with God through my relationship with Matthew than I ever could have believed. There are parallels that I see constantly that really make me stop and think. Probably the biggest and most consistent thread through our relationship so far is the realization that no matter how much I feel like I have a grasp on what's happening in the world around me, that there's so much more that I have no clue about.

This was struck home to me in a very real way about a month ago. Matthew woke up one morning with his eyes all goopy and with symptoms of a cold. We didn't think much of it because they often go hand-in-hand with young kids like him, and a call to the doctor's office reaffirmed our suspicion. After a couple of days when the goopiness didn't go away, he started to get a little yellow bump on the white of his eyeball itself. This concerned us, so we took him to urgent care, and they told us that he had a cold, and gave us eye drops for the bump.

Matthew hated the eye drops, and fought against them with a strength that I never knew a 2 1/2 year old had in them.

This came to a head one evening when Christina and I were trying to give him his third dose for the day. We'd been trying everything we could to ease the discomfort he was experiencing with the drops, but still, as soon as he knew what was about to happen, he would revolt. We would have to team up, one person holding him down, and the other forcing his eyelids open in a desperate attempt to get a single drop to make its way past the defenses of a squirming, crying, fighting, flailing 30-month-old. It was heartwrenching, the most difficult thing I've ever had to do. I would plead to him - please, just trust me. I know that this is hard, and feels awful, but you will feel so much better after this is over! But it didn't seem to help. All he could see was the discomfort he knew was coming, and did everything in his power to avoid it. After it was all over, he'd curl up on our laps sobbing, and us doing the same. Even though we tried to explain to him what was happening, there is no way that he could grasp it.

I realized that evening that my relationship with God often echoes that. Stuff happens, and I cry out to God asking for Him to make it stop, to ease the pain. Sometimes I plead with him to let me know why this is happening. And yet, I realize that even if He did explain it to me, I wouldn't be able to understand. Like Matthew, my understanding of the world around me is framed in by my ultimately very limited knowledge, experiences, and understanding. I feel like I can see the big picture, but in reality, I have only a small glimpse of what's going on. In reality, it is very foolish to expect that we could ever fully understand the implications of what happens in our lives and in the world around us.

I've thought about this a lot since that evening, in the quiet parts of my commute, in the tumultuous times dealing with situations that awaken haunting memories of things gone by, in times of unrest, in peaceful times out in nature. I've realized how often we demand of God "Why do you let this happen?" And we expect Him to answer to us, to give an account for His decisions. And, when He does not answer in a way that satisfies our pain, we deem Him uncaring, indifferent, unjust, evil, or even nonexistent. It is a very childlike thing to do, even though we may feel justified in our heartbreak.

One thing that I've come to understand, and accept (most of the time anyhow :P) is that even though we simply cannot account, justify, or understand the senseless suffering in the world around us, that there is a place for it. It is through our compassion and ability to be actively involved in the world around us that we are able to extend God's love to others, because many times God does answer our requests to know why something is happening - because the people He has called to address those situations have not done so for one reason or another. Ultimately, there do not have to be hungry people in this world. And yet many are, while we sit surrounded by more food than we could ever eat. There do not have to be people killed by monsters. And yet, we stand silent as they slaughter and rape and bring terror. There does not have to be poverty, or loneliness, or people with authority and power abusing their positions to take advantage of others. In countless situations, He answers our prayers for intervention by giving us the resources and opportunities to do what is necessary to see those answers come to fruition. And yet we vilify Him for our own inaction.

Even still, there are situations that are beyond our control. Sickness ravages those we love. Natural disasters destroy homes and take lives. Death, it seems, always comes too soon. And it makes no sense to us. We scream out in pain, asking why God would allow such things to happen. And yet, like Matthew's reaction to the eye drops that brought ultimately brought him healing, we recoil from the One who simply says "I love you, please trust Me. Something bigger is going on than you can understand."

In the end, I don't have all the answers. I don't understand why some things are allowed to happen. But at the same time, I also understand that there are forces acting in this world that are far beyond my comprehension, and One who has a very specific purpose for everything He allows to happen, good and bad. While I don't like some of the things that happen, it would be foolish for me to think that I could ever fathom His motives, or predict His actions. Because an understandable, predictable god is no god at all.

Social Justice

posted Apr 12, 2015, 7:04 AM by Christopher and Christina Myers

I've thought about the whole "social justice" thing a lot over the last decade, and my views have changed considerably along the way. I know that they're not fully formulated even at this point, but I've learned a lot, and realized a lot, both through reading, and observing, but especially through doing.

Overall, sadly, I think that at large, we're doing it wrong. While ideas like soup kitchens, welfare, and food stamps are, at their core, good-intentioned, they lack one key element : relationship. Knowing and being involved in the lives of the people they directly affect.

This ultimate-lack-of-involvement serves two major ills -

While providing food does serve to assist with the lowest level of Maslow's hierarchy of needs, it ignores some things that are just as important - the ability to be human, and recognized as such. Which, many people don't think much about, but it's very true - for a lot of people marginalized by society, more than anything, they want to be acknowledged as existing. While they may need food to survive, they need to know that they exist more than anything. And the simple act of being involved in their lives is so empowering, so energizing, that it can help to lift them out of the place that they're in, and inspire their drive to do more than simply be a human being. I've witnessed first-hand how incredibly dumbfounded people can be when you take interest in them, rather than treating them like they don't exist. And it's incredibly overwhelming, extremely challenging. It forces us outside of our own comfortable little boxes to really see the pain in the lives of people around us - to look people in the eyes and try to read the anguish in their very souls. To allow God to let us catch even a glimpse of what He sees in other people. It is, honestly, so overwhelming that when it happens, it makes me almost physically sick - to see the hurt, pain, and struggle of other human beings. It can be too much for me to take. And to be honest, I shut it out a lot of the time. Not because I want to, but because I simply have to. Because if I don't, I can't function. It is a feeling of helplessness that I can not even begin to express. And I really believe that everyone could feel this level of anguish about the state of other people around them, if they would only allow themselves to. The thing is, if we all did so, then we all could impact the world around us for the better. Because I can't change the world. I realized years ago that even if I gave every dollar I made to help the homeless and starving, even if I lived under a bridge in a box, I could not help everyone. And, personally, I'm not called to. But we (collectively) ARE able to. We ARE called to. If each of us, in our own way, reached out into OUR own world, OUR own sphere of influence, we WOULD change the world. To me, that is social justice. Using the resources and abilities we're provided in order to speak hope and truth and value into the lives of the PEOPLE around us. That doesn't mean that we will change everyone, that we will be able to help everyone, because some people, for whatever reason, don't want that. At least not at the current stage in their lives. But we will leave an impact on their lives, which they will carry for the rest of theirs.

Secondly, by not being actually involved in people's lives, it allows for a LOT of abuse by folks who could provide for themselves, should they have the need to. I saw this hundreds of times first-hand during my years volunteering at a local soup kitchen. Between people making $50k+ coming in for the free meal, local townspeople who would call to ask what was being served that day before deciding whether they would stop by that day, folks selling their state-provided "benefits" for cash so that they could go buy things they really wanted, etc., there is so much waste and abuse in the system that it's both disheartening and incredibly frustrating. Because the people who are just lazy are taking resources from the people who are legitimately destitute. The drain on society goes beyond financial though, it has reached the levels of becoming its own entrapping culture. And it continues to get worse.

So, how in the world do we do stuff like this? When I was single, I had all kinds of time to be able to be at the soup kitchen, traveling and meeting people, etc. But now that I'm married and have a young kid, time is fleeting, and I'm exhausted pretty much all the time. The key is that we have to do what we're able to, with what we have, where we are NOW. In some seasons, that's not very much. In others, it's a ton. But the key is that as our ability or resources dwindle, others grow, and they can take our place. Likewise, when their ability or resources dwindle, we may be able to take their place. If we all do our own part, as we're able, that's the key - it's the methodology of the early church, which is so inspiring - as Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 8:

... Give in proportion to what you have. Whatever you give is acceptable if you give it eagerly. And give according to what you have, not what you don’t have. Of course, I don’t mean your giving should make life easy for others and hard for yourselves. I only mean that there should be some equality. Right now you have plenty and can help those who are in need. Later, they will have plenty and can share with you when you need it. In this way, things will be equal. As the Scriptures say, "Those who gathered a lot had nothing left over, and those who gathered only a little had enough." (2 Cor 8:11b-15)

It is this community, this actually-knowing-beyond-the-facade-people-around-us-put-on, this actually being involved in the lives of others, that helps us to understand the fullness and community that God experiences within Himself. It is knowing that we are doing what we can to make sure that others can not only be human, not only exist, but thrive and grow. That, to me, is the definition of social justice. It is putting rubber to the road, and actually being involved in the lives of others. It is using our abilities, our resources, our lives to change our world. To ensure that the people around us are taken care of. And, the people around us ensuring that we are taken care of. If we all did that, then there would be true social justice.

Large Churches

posted Jan 19, 2015, 9:45 AM by Christopher and Christina Myers

I've been wrestling with something for a number of years now, and particularly the last few days. As I've studied and grown in my faith, I've become increasingly concerned about the concept of large churches, for a number of reasons. I know that there are a lot of people who will disagree with me on this, but please hear me out.

I think that the largest problem related to big churches is the huge opportunity for people to fall through the cracks. I'm not only talking about new people that arrive and leave without ever really being noticed, but also people who had been attending regularly and then stop attending for some reason. I think that this is especially problematic for churches with multiple services, where the assumption is generally that if you haven't seen someone for a while, they're just going to a different service. I've experienced both in my life numerous times, and it's very difficult for me as a follower of Christ. I can't imagine what kind of impact something like this would have on someone who wanted to know more about Christ and the supposed Christian community, only to be ignored and dismissed. Christians are called to be a close community that cares deeply for each other, and not just on a surface level. We are called to speak into each other's lives, know what's going on, and help each other out. And, not to just have surface-level relationships, but to have deep, thriving, knowing relationships of each other. I'm not saying that we're supposed to pry into each other's business, but rather we're supposed to be so close that we can tell when someone is struggling and putting on a facade. Even when it's a really good facade. And not just to know about it, but to do whatever is in our power to help. Not just individually, but as a community. And through that tremendous relationship with each other, not only do we get to have a tangible experience of God's community within Himself, but we get to show His tremendous love and compassion to others outside of that community. By doing so, not only are we able to speak God's love into their life, but we are able to speak to their deep need for Him. It is through our community that we reach others. Not through empty words, but through actions and relationships [James 2:14-26].

When we have this level of community, the absence of a member of that community is tangible. However, when churches get too large, it's easy to let people fall through the cracks. As an example, the last church I attended, I was a member for over 5 years. When I left, no one followed up with me. No one checked up on me to see how I was doing, called or texted to make sure everything was ok, or wrote to say that they missed me. After a few months, I got a form letter saying that they had noticed that I hadn't been signing into the attendance pad for a while - from someone that I was friends on Facebook with, who I'd regularly talked to and worked with at church nonetheless. I know that some people wouldn't think that this is such a big deal, but when you consider how involved I was in many different aspects of the church, how many people I thought I was friends with, and how much time I spent there, it was really troubling. Some of the people there I'd thought I had deep friendships with, and two were even groomsmen in my wedding. And yet, I somehow vanished from their lives without being noticed, or followed up with. Some may think that I'm bitter about this, but in reality, I'm not. I'm deeply concerned. Because if I was so involved with the church and my absence wasn't noticed, what about the hundreds of other people who just go sporadically? That is not community. And I know that this isn't a sporadic problem. It's pervasive, systematic. This is not how Christian community is supposed to look.

In addition to this problem of anonymety, larger churches are very prone to the development of cliques. This isn't just a problem with churches, but a natural outcome of our social nature - we naturally gravitate to those that we know. But the problem with this is that it serves as an effective barrier at keeping other people out, even if it's not intentional. However, when the group stays smaller, while there will be a natural cohesion between the members of the group, and it's much easier for someone new to blend in with the group.

Furthermore, when the group stays smaller, we have the added benefit of learning from each other's experiences, both good and bad. I truly believe that if we hide our struggles from one another, we are robbing others of something we all desperately need - the knowledge that we aren't the only one who has struggled with it. A lot of things that we experience in our life aren't meant for the rest of the world to observe and know about. However, when we have a smaller group of believers that share life together, we can be comfortable sharing the icky parts of life, knowing not only that it will be held in confidence, but also allows us to encourage one another that they're not the only one who has gone through what they're struggling with.

Another problem with churches growing too large is that it allows people to stagnate in their faith. When we have close relationship with each other, we not only learn more from each other, but it forces us to grow in our faith. When we constantly have someone else feeding us, we don't need to learn and grow and think for ourselves. We just take whatever we are given, just like infants. But when we have to step up, it forces us to grow and learn. We inspire each other to keep pushing forward, just like runners in a race pace off of each other. [Proverbs 27:17] One of the coolest things about scripture is the fact that it's not just a book. Many refer to it as the "living Word of God" - more than just words on a page, but that the Holy Spirit will give us insights and understanding into the meaning behind scripture and its implications into our lives. The cool thing about this is that when different people read a passage of scripture, the Holy Spirit may speak something entirely different to each person about the meaning and implications of that passage for their lives - all of which are true and based on that piece of scripture. And sharing this with each other can be profound. The problem is that when we allow someone to just feed us everything, we're robbing God of the ability to show us really cool and amazing things through His Word. We also cheat ourselves out of the opportunity to deepen our faith and understanding of scripture. I believe that this is one of the reasons that the church is so weak and fragmented - people don't actually know why they believe what they believe. All they know is that someone told them something, so they stick with it. They don't digest it, dig in, understand the history or cultural meanings behind the piece of scripture, or even try to even check it for validity. And as a result, when someone challenges them or asks questions (and they will,) one of two things happens - they either become hostile, or they give up. They can't hold a reasonable conversation about legitimate questions or doubts someone may have.

The danger with having such a limited understanding with scripture and our faith is that when we have only one person telling us what to believe, if we just accept whatever they tell us, it allows us to be led in completely wrong directions. In scripture, the apostles went so far as to say that even if one of them were to say something contrary about who Christ is, that they are to be disregarded. Scripture is the be-all and end-all authority in the church, because it is the inspired Word of God. We need to be so comfortable with scripture, that if someone were to tell us something contrary to the truth, even quoting scripture itself, that our spirit is able to be nudged by the Holy Spirit to realize that that doesn't sound correct, and for us to further investigate what we were told. This is how the early church stayed accountable with the accuracy of scripture - rather than having one person dictate what they were to believe, they all held each other accountable, and challenged each other when someone tried to veer off in the wrong direction.

Large groups of any kind also allow people to slack off. This was true in school, and work, and it's true in faith as well. When the group gets larger, some people naturally lead and take on responsibility, and some people naturally shrink back and take it easy. I don't know why we would think that faith would be any different. When a congregation gets larger, it allows an increasing number of people to stand by the sidelines and merely be consumers, while an increasingly few people step up and work. The problem with this is that it weakens the church. The Church is compared to a body in scripture, with different parts (head, eyes, legs, noses, toes, etc.) Taking this comparison literally, if I don't use one of my legs, it will become weaker and weaker, until it is basically useless - a drain on the rest of my body, merely consuming energy and resources but not actually doing anything useful. While that will force my other leg to work harder and get stronger, the weakness in my unused leg will ultimately prevent me from being as effective as if both of my legs were strong. And worse, it can allow disease to take hold much more easily than if my body was strong. Likewise, in the body of Christ, if one of us atrophies from sitting by the sidelines, we become a dead weight, dragging the rest of the body down. Instead, we all need to work together, strengthening each other and helping each other out along the way. When a community of believers stays smaller, not only does it encourage everyone to contribute, it also necessitates it.

It seems like one of the biggest stereotypes of Christian churches today is the animosity of members against each other. Churches seem to be a breeding ground for all types of cancerous problems like gossip and pride. And while it's been this way ever since the early days of Christianity, the concept of a large church only serves to exacerbate this problem. When the group is small, if someone starts to cause a problem, there are guidelines in scripture with how to deal with the problems in a way that not only helps to nip the issue in the bud, but in a way that helps people to live in harmony and grow in their faith through the problems. However, when the group gets a lot larger, this isn't realistically able to be done, and allows the problem to spiral out of control. And like any cancer, when left unchecked, it continually weakens the body until it is destroyed. This is why the apostles were so deliberate about taking care of the problems that arose quickly and in as sensitive of a way as possible. [Matthew 18:15-17]

As churches grow larger, they are increasingly limited in their outreach into their own communities. As I've commented above, for the most part, people are brought to know the Love of God through Christ through the community of Christ-followers who are living out their faith in their lives and relationships. The best way to show others this is for them to experience it themselves. But when people tend to live out their faith inside a building blocks or miles away, they drammaticaly cut down on the reach that they have within their own neighborhoods. It also cuts down on the level at which we can be involved in each other's lives. Because, if I only see someone a couple of times a week, it's much easier to have a surface-level relationship with them and know them only in passing. But if I run into them every day as I go about my normal routine, I'm much more likely to maintain a relationship with them at a level that allows me to actually be involved in their life in ways that truly matter - and for others to notice the way that we interact with each other.

It seems to me that the underlying problem in today's world is that when churches grow, buildings grow and services multiply. But when we look at scripture, when the Church grows, it splits. And, it ultimately grows as a result of the splits. Now, normally when you hear of a church split, it's the result of one of two things - either the church is heading in a direction contrary to part of its membership (whether good or bad,) or people are fighting about something stupid. Granted, there may be other reasons, but in today's world, those are the general cause between most splits. When we look at the early church though, they didn't meet in buildings. They met in each other's homes. And when the group simply became too large, it split. By so doing, a lot of things happened. It kept the groups smaller so that people could still really know each other (point 1.) It forced people to grow in their faith and take on roles that previously they may not have been comfortable doing (point 2.) People had to step up to contribute to the work of the group (point 3.) It kept people accountable to each other, and allowed problems to be nipped in the bud (point 4.) By splitting the groups and staying smaller, the depth of relationship between the members of the group was able to be maintained (point 5,) and their outreach into their communities was expanded because their interaction with each other was much more visible (point 6.) And, even though the groups split when they became too large, they didn't stop interacting with each other, or start competing with each other. Instead, they pooled their resources to maximize their outreach, and when one group struggled or suffered, others would come to their aid. In this way, not only were the individual groups strengthened and cared for, but the whole Church in general looked out for each other.

As an added bonus to this, it also enables the most efficient use of the resources that are available. Billions of dollars have been spent on church buildings - on sound systems, air conditioners, pews, stained glass windows, and coffee bars. And yet, scripture doesn't tell us to build magnificent, comfortable buildings with our resources. Rather, we are told to be good stewards with the resources we're blessed with, to help others in need. How many hungry people could be fed with a billion dollars? How many people without sufficient clothing or shelter could be protected from the elements? How many people struggling with losing their jobs could be cared for? And yet, rather than living out our faith in a community that uses its resources to pour into the lives of others around our community and around the world, large churches squander valuable resources on mortgages, comfort, and entertainment. They strive to be a destination enjoyed by a multitude of people who arrive to be comfortably entertained for an hour or two a week, and then go about their lives as if nothing happened. That's just not how it's supposed to be.

The bottom line is that the focus of being a Christ follower is not checking off a set of rules, about going to a church, or even about doing good things. It's about being in a relationship with Him - about not only knowing some things about Him, but about us sharing our life with Him and allowing Him to know us. This naturally extends to and is lived out through our relationship with other Christ-followers. And by living in this way, it causes others to be curious about how we're acting, and why. And it allows to speak His love into their lives through the best, most effective way possible - by us flawed, broken human beings caring enough about other flawed, broken human beings to be in a deep, caring, vulnerable, self-sacrificing relationship with them. To show others that they are valued, noticed, and loved. And the only way we can do that is by actually being involved in their lives.

Picking a church

posted Aug 17, 2013, 8:36 PM by Christopher and Christina Myers

I'm going to be very frank about something. The whole idea of picking a church bothers me. I mean, from a Christ-follower perspective anyhow, and when we look at scripture, there is no "picking a church." You're either a member of "the Church" or you're not. You're either a member of the community of believers, or you're not. The idea of "picking a church" is something that we've come up with along the way, and quite honestly, it's not how things are supposed to work.

When you look at the world around us, there are Catholics and Baptists and Methodists and Pentecostals and Presbyterians and Episcopalians and Lutherans, and and and and ... And even within "denominations," there are multiple churches, sometimes right next to one another. Don't like the music at this church? Try the one down the street. Pastor's breath smells funny? Go next door. Think the color of the carpet is hideous? Well, the one across town matches your eyes. And if someone says something to offend you? Well, march yourself right out the door, cause there are plenty of churches to choose from.

Only, it's not supposed to be that way. When we look at scripture, we don't see the "United Methodist Church of Rome," the "First Baptist Church of Jerusalem," or the "Saint Bartholomew Church of Athens." We see one thing - The Church. One group, working together, for a common goal, for the common good. Scripture refers to The Church as a family, as a body, as a united group of individuals with one purpose, one goal, one focus: to love the world around them in such a radical way that it turns heads - and makes people want to know more.

And that love includes other Christ-followers. 

In a family, people have different tastes and experiences. Some may like classical music, while others only listen to acid rock. I might like blue carpets, but the guy next to me may hate them. You're comfortable at 83 degrees, but I'm roasting at anything over 75. My cousin knows everything about football, but I just built a new linux server. I've only been to eight states, but my uncle has been around the world. And you know what? Even though we might not always agree about everything, as we live life together, experiencing things together, that diversity of personalities, of preferences, of histories is enriching, enlightening, and sometimes rather entertaining. After all, who wants to be surrounded by people exactly like themself? Not very many folks.

The question is, why can't we do the same thing as Christ-followers?

The state of the body of Christ is really sad today, and we're missing out on a lot as a result. In insisting that everything be tailored to our likes and preferences, we fail to experience a great diversity of others who have the potential to add a tremendous richness and depth to our faith. The problem is, they're different from us, and that difference makes us uncomfortable. As a result, when things don't go as we expect, we walk out the door, searching for some place where we "fit in," where others are just like us. Instead of embracing our differences and learning from each other, we instead desire only our comfortable, familiar little bubble. When we fail to allow ourselves to see the world through the eyes of others whose lives, personalities, backgrounds, and experiences are different from us, we also lose the vast richness that comes from with them.

Conflict causes this as well. More than once in my life, I've heard of a church that split because of the color of the carpet, or some other insignificant, pointless disagreement. Instead of acting like a family, we allow clashes and division and differences of opinion to split and destroy, rather than working together to find resolutions for problems, and ultimately, growing as a result.

And the world around us notices.

I'm not saying that there aren't things that should cause us to walk out the doors of a church, because there very much are. But when people decide to leave a church, or start a new church, simply as a result of a difference of opinion or tastes or preferences or likes, that is where we fail miserably. The only way to truly to be a part of a body, to be a tight-knit family, is to allow our preferences to fall by the wayside in the best interest of others around us. I'm not saying we should become opinionless groups of mindless clones, but instead that we need to acknowledge that others' opinions and preferences are just as valid as ours, and stop insisting on our own way.

In reality, until we learn to get over ourselves and work together as one group of Christ-followers, rather than little groups of people each demanding their own way, there isn't a way that we can effectively reach out to the world that surrounds us.

Church Plants?

posted Aug 17, 2013, 7:31 PM by Christopher and Christina Myers   [ updated Aug 18, 2013, 7:00 AM ]

One brisk, cloudy Saturday morning, I decided to ride my bike downtown. We'd been living here for a few months, and figured that it was time for us to stop by and pick up our library cards. While I was standing at the counter, waiting for the lady to fill out the forms and get us set up in the system, we got to talking about the town, who used to live where we lived now, and the usual "hey, you're new here" small talk. And after a bit, the topic of religion came up.

"Do you have a church yet? If not, you should check us out some weekend. We're a church plant from a nearby city; we're not a big group yet, but ..."

Church plant? Hmm. When I think about it, the phrase conjures up thoughts of something you'd find growing in my garden. Bury a couple of pews, sprinkle on some holy water, and after a few days, up sprouts a little building with stained glass windows and a big steeple with a cross on top.

I got to thinking about this more after I'd headed home, and the thought in the back of my mind was...why? Why does our town need another "church?" There are less than two thousand people in the area, and there are already five "different churches." So, why would someone want to "plant" another "church" in town? I mean, what's the purpose? Is there something so significant that this "church" could offer that the others don't? Are their pews more comfortable? Are their sermons better? Do they have more programs? It's not even like they were a different denomination - there was already an Assemblies of God church a few blocks away. So, why would our town need another "church?"

Now, don't get me wrong, if there wasn't a church in the area, I could see a neighboring city wanting to try to help a group of Christ-followers get together close to their homes, because it would allow them to have a greater impact on their community. But when the area is already saturated with little churches, why would you want to waste your resources adding another one to the mix? In reality, all it does is further divide up the body of believers, which actually serves to weaken the Church in the area, because it causes their resources and efforts to be divided up that much more.

Instead of planting a church in town, if this "big church" had wanted to reach out to the Church in our community, it would have been far more effective for them to have partnered with the existing Church in town and help it along - providing resources, training, etc to help enable them to do what we are called to do as Christ-followers: to reach out to those around us with compassion and Christ's love, to interact with the people around us in ways that allow us to actually get to know our neighbors, and as a result, to be able to speak into their lives and help meet their needs with the resources we've been blessed with. It's kinda like the early church did where the Church in one area would come alongside the Church somewhere else, or like we do nowadays when working with people around the world who don't have the resources they need to meet the needs of people in their communities.

We need to learn how to work together.

Untitled Past

posted Jul 7, 2013, 1:25 PM by Christopher Myers

There are moments in life when our hearts bleed words, aching to somehow express the vast expanses of what lies inside. Moments when expression is nonetheless difficult, with words jumbled and thoughts overlapping, all trying to escape at once, moments when all of existence itself desires to be known. Moments when writing becomes difficult.

Life was never supposed to be this way. This aching expressed throughout the march of minutes, the passing of lifetimes. This brokenness that has extended from the moment we set foot onto this planet. Brokenness passed from parent to child, from one generation to the next. Inescapable, inexpressible brokenness. We all hope to be different, unfettered, unlike the rest. And yet we all are slaves to its chains, crippled by its touch.

So much has happened in life, so much known by so few. So much not even fully understood by the one who experiences it. And yet marching forward, trying to understand, trying to somehow get a grasp of what has occurred. If only we were able to stop time, even for a moment. And yet, still it marches along.

Life was innocent once, hopeful before the surrounding world stepped in. Carefully sheltered and protected, a beauty insulated from the surrounding darkness. A treasure convinced that, given enough time, the good could be found in anyone, in anything. The remnants of the signature of a Creator, long ago neglected, long ago passed aside.

It was that innocent, naive hope that led to many dark days. Choosing to overlook signs of manipulation, desiring to find the truth amidst all of the lies. A lesson hard learned that not everyone wants to be known.

Someone considered a friend, someone regarded with value and dignity and compassion. Someone given power and influence they neither deserved nor respected, but given in the hopes that the precious gift would be treated with the care it needed, that it would be provided with the freedom to blossom.

For years looking past the shell, seeking to find what lay beneath, desiring to allow the person deep inside to be known. Disregarding the lies, ignoring the faults, forgiving the abrasions, nurturing the seeds planted with hope, care, and concern.

Then, destruction. Choices which put not only their life, but the lives of others at risk. Actions which could not conscionably be ignored. And with them, the arrival of many sleepless nights, foodless days, agonizing prayers, and hurting emails to friends, crying out for wisdom. And the realization that sometimes, love must be tough. That to truly love means sometimes intervention is necessary. That simply standing by is not enough.

And how to be responded to? With threats in the middle of the night, with anger, and yelling, and hatred. With answers that crushed the precious flower of compassion, the beauty of hope. Hope that love would conquer all, that love would transform. Replaced instead by the realization that not everyone wants to be known.

It is a story that echoes through countless lives, reverberating through souls around the world. It is not a story experienced only by one, but rather shared by many. Though details may differ, threads lie in common. That sometimes, the story doesn't have a happy ending.

Love is a gift. And like with any gift, just as there is a choice in giving, there also is a choice in receiving. That just as there is a cost in giving, there also is a cost in receiving. And that it is a cost that not all are willing to pay. It is a difficult realization that not everyone wants to be known.

When you've blown it

posted Mar 26, 2013, 8:58 AM by Christopher and Christina Myers   [ updated Mar 26, 2013, 8:58 AM ]

This will be the most difficult post I've written.

When I was very young, I had dreams. I know that all kids have dreams, but these were different. While I didn't understand them at the time, I realized many years later that they were prophetic, a foretelling of a part of my life many years down the road. During these dreams, it was my wedding day. However, I didn't know who my bride was, so I spent the entirety of the dream going around and asking different people who I was going to marry. And yet, in all the times I had that dream, I never found out who she was.

From as early as I can remember, I looked forward to the day that I’d get married, even when my classmates still thought that girls were icky. I can't really tell you why; all I knew is that even though I didn't understand it, whatever it was that my parents had was something beautiful, and I looked forward to the day when I could have something like that too. The only problem was - I was that quiet, shy kid that most classes have, and I didn't really fit in with my classmates. As a result, I didn't really get noticed by girls. Sure, I had a couple of crushes along the way, but they never turned into anything more than that.

By the time I graduated from college, things hadn't really changed in that area. By then, I had become the "safe," tenderhearted guy that girls could talk to about anything, but never became anything more than friends with. Which was kind of frustrating to me, because, even though I enjoyed having a special place in my friends’ lives, I still really looked forward to the day when I could be more than just someone's friend.

After walking off the platform with my diploma in hand, getting ready to start my first job as a college graduate, I took stock of where my life was, and realized some things needed to change. The biggest area was my connection with God. I realized that up until this time, my interaction with Him had been primarily utilitarian rather than relational, and that that needed to change. So, for the first time in my life, I started to cultivate and develop my faith, beginning a very real, very close relationship with Christ, and over the course of the two years that followed, my life changed in ways that I could never have imagined.

And then the spring of 2005 happened. My friends and I were run out of the church we had been attending for a couple of years because we were viewed by the older congregants as being subversive due to the way we dressed, the music we liked, and the way we acted. A few months after that, all of my closest friends left town over the course of a two-month span, heading in their own directions to start new jobs. And so, I began attending a new church, meeting new people, making new friends, and stepping into the next stage of my life. And for the most part, loving every moment of it - except for still being single.

Around this same time, God started putting one of my college classmates on my heart to pray for. I’ll call her Jane Doe. When I was in college, Jane was my small group leader my senior year, and probably the strongest, most authentic Christ follower I’d ever met. However, after 9/11 happened, she had started to struggle a little bit with her faith. A class she took in college and some other things that happened widened these struggles, and by the end of her Junior year she had walked away from her faith, denying Christ and confronting anyone who called her a Christian.

And so, I prayed for Jane regularly. Any time I’d get busy and forget to do so for a couple of days, God would put her on my heart again and remind me to pray for her. I emailed Jane every once in a while to see how she was doing, and talk a little bit about what was going on in my life, and in some of our mutual friends’ lives. But I never heard back from her. So, I just continued to pray for her about whatever God happened to lay on my heart that day.

A couple of months passed, and, while I had been making new friends at my church, I still very much missed my friends from college. I had been keeping in touch with them through email and phone calls, but long-distance friendships are difficult to adjust to when you’ve spent the last few years living minutes apart.

One weekend at the end of October I emailed my friend Angie to talk about how rough it had been lately, and she emailed back to say that she’d call me that afternoon after they got done with church. The first thing she asked me when I picked up the phone was how my prayer life had been going lately, and I answered honestly that it hadn’t been. So she encouraged me to spend some time in prayer that evening, because sometimes when God seems the most distant, it’s because He wants us to draw closer to Him to hear His Voice. And so that evening, I went to bed very early so that I could have a couple of hours of prayer before I went to sleep. I prayed for my family, friends, coworkers - anyone and anything that came through my mind as I sat there. As I started to pray for my friends Phil and Angie, something happened that I will never forget - I audibly heard God speak to me, as if He was sitting in the room right next to me.

“Jane Doe is the one you’re going to marry.”

I sat there, stunned. Nothing like that had ever happened to me before, and I didn’t really know what to think. So after a few minutes, I did what seemed to be the most logical thing at the time - I prayed “I’m sorry, I can’t believe that.” Afterwards, I continued praying where I’d left off, and went to sleep.

The next morning, what had happened was still running through the back of my mind when I woke up, and I realized how I’d responded. I spent the day fasting, and at lunch went to the chapel on campus to spend some time in prayer. I apologized to God for doubting, and asked that if what I’d heard was from Him, that He would make it unmistakably clear to me.

That evening, a couple of my friends and I went to a concert in Bloomington, and on the drive home, I felt like I was supposed to email Jane just to say howdy and that I hoped all was well, so when I got home that evening, I sent her a quick email.

Thursday of that week was like pretty much any other day. I didn’t go to lunch right away because I was finishing up a project, and right as I was getting ready to walk out the door, I decided to check my email one more time. When I did so, I saw an email from Jane, the subject of which said, “Subliminal message: check your email.” She asked if I had lunch plans that day, so I responded back that I didn't, and we headed to the local Mexican restaurant for lunch. As we sat there at the restaurant talking and catching up on life, in the back of my mind, all I could think about was what had happened on Sunday and what I'd prayed on Monday, and I realized - “oh wow, it’s actually true!” I knew that this was the answer to the prayer I’d prayed on Monday. But when I dropped her off for her next class that afternoon, it was the last time that I would see her for a long time.

Up until this point, I hadn’t talked to anyone else about what had happened, because I wanted to be sure first. Even then, I knew that I would have to be very careful about who I told, for a number of reasons. First off, most people would probably think I was nuts and try to convince me that what I knew had happened, hadn’t really happened. Secondly, I figured that whatever the coming weeks held, they would definitely be made more complicated if Jane were to hear about it from someone else. But probably the biggest reason I didn’t want to talk to many people about what happened is because I had absolutely no idea what to do with this information that I was given.

I did end up telling a couple of people I was very close to however. One of my friends was very excited for me. Another said, “Just remember - God’s timing isn’t always necessarily our timing.” A third said, “This can not happen,” knowing what Jane had been going through in recent months, and not wanting me to be involved in her life out of concern for my well-being. The few others I told basically fell into one of those categories. In all though, I felt very much alone. Even with the support from some of my friends, in reality, I had no idea how to proceed. So I prayed.

The difficult thing for me about this period is that I never really felt like I received a response from God as to how to proceed. So in the month that followed, I decided that I should continue doing as I had been doing - trying to treat her as one of my friends. When my friends made plans to get together, I would write her a quick email, send her a letter, or sometimes call and leave a message on her answering machine. When stuff happened in life, I’d do the same. I tried to keep her updated about what was going on in my life and the lives of some of our mutual friends. But I never heard back.

As time passed, I found myself focusing on what I’d been told more and more. This was compounded by my small group starting a study on marriage, which made the ache and longing to see God’s plans come to fruition that much stronger. And when that didn’t happen, I made the classic blunder - I tried to help God out. At one point I even wrote Jane a letter and told her that I loved her, and for Christmas that year, I sent her a Willow Tree figurine as a present.

On New Year’s Eve, I headed out of town to go visit my friends in Springfield, and on the long trip, I decided to call her house and see if she was around and wanted to talk. As I started to leave a message on her answering machine, her mom picked up the phone, and we talked for a little bit. She said that she was concerned, and that she wanted me to stop trying to contact Jane. As I hung up the phone, I was very confused, and disheartened. I didn’t really know what to do, or what to think. I spent a little bit of time in prayer, talking to God about what happened and how I had absolutely no idea what I was supposed to do.

When I got home from my friends’ that evening, I went straight to bed. The next morning when I woke up, I couldn’t move; my gaze was fixed in front of me as if I was watching what was happening through a TV. I was standing in a kitchen. It was a dreary, gray day outside, but no lights were on, so everything had a grayish tint. The ceiling of the kitchen was white, the walls were white, the appliances were white, and the floor was black and white square tile. In front of me was the back door of the house; to my right, the dining room and stairwell to the second floor. As I stood in the kitchen, people started coming down the stairs, through the dining room, and into the kitchen, marching in single file, chanting “wait.” “wait.” I went to open the back door, but it was stuck, so I yanked it open. More people were filing into the kitchen, still marching and chanting as they did so. I reached for the storm door to open it, but it was stuck too, so I forced it open as well. I looked over and saw the kitchen and dining room packed with people, marching in place, still chanting, “wait.” I turned around, walked out the back door, down the sidewalk, and out to the street. When I reached the street, I turned around and looked at the house, at which point it collapsed. Right after the roof hit the ground, the dream ended, and I was lying in my bed, staring at the light streaming in through the window.

There had been several times in my life before this point that God had spoken to me through dreams (besides the ones as a young child,) so I knew what they were like. And I knew that this was one of them. The problem was, I didn’t know what to think about it yet. I knew from experience (and from talking to other people) that when you are given a dream, the meaning can take weeks, months, or years to be fully revealed. I told one of my closest friends about the dream, and he said that the one thing that really stuck out to him was the “wait” part. I still didn’t really know what to think however. Still remembering the conversation with Jane’s mother the day before, it made me wonder if this meant that I should have waited, but didn’t, so I blew things? Or did this mean that if I didn’t wait on God I would blow it? Or that I’d started to walk away from what I’d been told, but still had a second chance (hence the two doors)? I didn’t really know.

Things didn’t really get any easier after that point. I knew God’s heart, His Grace, and His forgiveness, so I trusted that what I was shown was a warning about what would happen if I didn’t trust Him and wait on Him to move - that if I tried to make things happen again, I would cause 'the house to collapse' - I’d walk away from what God had shown me, and there wouldn’t be another chance. However, my screw-ups of the past frequently came to my mind, and I questioned whether I had already blown it and was deceiving myself that I had another chance.

This was the struggle I lived with for a number of months. As time passed, it became more and more difficult to hold on to what God had spoken to me, and then shown me. Friends that previously had encouraged me were now asking questions, and even trying to push me in other directions by trying to set me up on dates with people.

A year later, I found myself much stronger in my faith and with a much deeper relationship with God than I had ever known. I was very involved in my church, and had become a youth leader there, working with the Junior High and High School kids. Our small group was thriving, growing so quickly that it had to split twice because there were too many people to fit into one living room. And, my friendships continued to grow deeper and deeper. But, I still struggled with isolation. I didn’t feel like I could talk to other people about what had happened, and so I didn’t have an answer for them when they would ask why I wasn’t dating anyone.

Whenever I would really struggle, I would turn to the Old Testament accounts of David, Moses, and especially Abraham. I could relate to Abraham’s struggles with God’s promise of Isaac, and His delayed answer of that promise. I also tried to learn from Abraham’s mistake of trying to help God in the process. I could understand Moses’ frustration wandering through the wilderness for forty years waiting to enter the Promised Land. But even still, my struggles grew as time passed.

As summer waned into fall that year, I found myself becoming better friends with one of the women in our small group, and as our friendship continued to deepen, I started to develop feelings for her. Which presented me with a great dilemma. I had been trying very hard to hold on to what God had shown me nearly two years prior, and yet, I hadn’t seen any progress in that area, and really began to struggle with whether the dream I’d been given on New Years actually had meant that I’d blown it. When you combine that struggle with the questions I’d been dealing with from people that knew the details of my situation, my resolve slowly weakened over time, and finally I made the decision that I was going to ask my friend from small group out.

The night before I planned to take that step, however, something happened. As I was sleeping that night, at the end of one of my dreams, the other people in the dream and I became aware that something was happening. One of the people commented, “Is Heaven coming down, or are we going up?” And the other person replied, “Well, we’re not going up, so Heaven must be coming down.” At that moment I woke up, but again, couldn’t move. I was laying on my left side, looking up at the corner of my bedroom. As I laid there, I saw a man appear before me, only, I could see through him. He had a graying beard and hair, and was wearing a red patterned shawl. As he stood there, he waved his hand over me and was saying something that I couldn’t understand. After a few minutes, he disappeared, and I could move again.

In my heart, I knew what this meant - that I was supposed to wait on Jane still. However, I hardened my heart, and decided that I didn’t care, I was tired of waiting and was going to ask my friend from small group out anyhow. Not being able to shake the vision however, I emailed the two other guys from the dream I’d been having right before I had the vision, to see if it meant anything to them. One of them, a friend of mine, said that it didn’t mean anything to him, but that he would pray for me so that God would reveal its meaning. The other, a pastor, said he thought I must have eaten something weird for dinner the night before.

Needless to say, I did what I wanted, and I asked my friend out, even though at that point, I knew what she was going to say. And I was right - she said that, while she valued our friendship, she didn’t have feelings for me the way that I did for her.

At that point, I didn’t really know what to do or think. Over the course of the next two years, I really struggled with what had happened, the choices I’d made, and whether I’d totally blown it or still had a chance. I beat myself up continually, wishing that I could go back and make a different decision, or that I could make amends and still have things work out like God had originally planned. At the same time, I struggled with whether I should continue waiting, or whether I should just try to move on with my life. It was a very difficult time of uncertainty and living with the shame of knowing that I had walked away from God's leading.

Towards the end of those two years, one of Jane’s and my mutual friends told me that Jane had just had something very significant happen in her life. One of my other friends had had something very similar happen to her, and as a result, I knew of the struggles it had caused between my friend and her family, and the burdens it caused her as well. I had been very proud of how my friend had handled things, because the outcome of her decision could have been much different (and I had told both her, and her family, how proud I was of her for the choices she had made.) And so, I decided that I wanted to do the same thing for Jane.

I prayed for a while that God would use this opportunity to show me whether I had in fact blown it two years before, or if there was still a chance. And so, one day, I wrote Jane a quick note telling her I was proud of her, picked up a gift card, and drove to her parents’ house with it.

When I arrived at their house, her mom opened the door, and Jane was right behind her. Jane looked confused about why I was there, so I told her mom that I had come to drop something off for her. She took the card, and started to shake my hand, but when I introduced myself, she immediately turned cold. I told her that all I had wanted to do was drop the card off for Jane, and she said that she would make sure that Jane got it. After that, I turned around and walked away. And as I drove away, I knew that I had, in fact, blown it a couple of years prior, and it was time for me to figure out how to move forward.

That was the beginning of a very difficult journey in my life, culminating in what's been referred to by others as “the wall.” It’s a period where God uses something very significant in our lives to take us back through things that have happened in our past, and allow us to deal with and heal from them. It’s a necessary process to go through so that we can move forward in our faith, free from the things of the past that continually drag us down and pull us back. While I won’t go through the specifics of it here, I wrote about it a couple of years ago, and you can read about it here.

It took me several months to go through “the wall,” and to get to a point in my life where I had worked through enough things that my life could begin to return to normal. Although, at this point, it was a new “normal.” For the first time in my life, I understood a number of the things that had affected my views of myself and the world around me, and I had been able to heal from a lot of emotional baggage that I hadn’t even realized that I had been carrying with me. However, I still greatly struggled with the choices I had made regarding Jane. For some reason, I wasn't able to forgive myself for what had happened, for not being able to wait on God’s timing and trusting Him. 

One day at church, our pastor preached a sermon on God’s redemption of our broken lives, and illustrated his point by dropping a ceramic plate into a box full of rocks, causing the plate to shatter. At the end of the sermon, he reached back into the box and pulled out a new plate, illustrating God’s ability to expertly reassemble our lives when bad things happen. However, as he pulled the new plate out of the box, God spoke to my heart that when He does this redemptive work in our lives, rather than appearing as a new plate, instead our lives appear more like a stained glass window - a mosaic of broken pieces that paint a beautiful picture.

Ultimately, while God did not bring Jane and I together, He did redeem my choices, and a few years later, brought an amazing woman named Christina into my life. We got married this past July, and are expecting our first child this upcoming July. Shortly after my wife and I got married, God spoke to my heart that, while Jane and I would have been perfect for each other at that point in our lives if I had followed His leading then, that He had brought Christina and I together because we were perfect for each other now. And that, while the choices I made in the past did alter my future, they did not destroy or derail God’s plans for our lives. Instead, after I chose to walk away from God’s plans, when I asked for forgiveness, He redeemed the broken pieces of my life, and turned them into something beautiful once again. Not unbroken, not flawless, but much like a stained glass window - evident of the brokenness of the past, but reflective of the beauty and love of my Creator - evidence for the world around me to see His Character.

And it is for that reason that I write this post - exposing the most painful, shameful part of my past for all of the world to read about - so that they might know the love, redemption, and grace of our Savior - even when you feel like you've blown it.

Five Loaves

posted Mar 17, 2013, 7:46 PM by Christopher Myers

Life has been kind of stressful as of late. My wife and I got married this past July, and at the end of November, we found out that she was pregnant. While that's definitely cool and we're excited, it's also a lot sooner than we'd planned, and to be very frank, we don't feel financially ready to grow our family just yet. Between student loans, car payments, projects that have to be done on our house, work that needs to be done on the car, and many other things, financial life is very tight right now, and looking into the future, we're not sure how we'll be able to make ends meet once the little one arrives. Which is kind of scary to be honest.

The enemy has been trying to feed me with a very typical "solution" for when things get tight - the temptation to stop tithing. While I will admit that not giving God His piece of our income can sound appealing on the surface, in reality, it's fraught with problems - if we were to do so, we would essentially be telling God that He isn't capable of providing for our needs, so we must step in to remedy the situation ourselves. Which is an incredibly bad idea.

Lately, I've been reading through the book of Matthew in the mornings as I get ready for work, and Friday morning as I read Matthew 14:13-21, I realized something. During certain times in our lives, God brings us to a place where the resources we have are incapable of meeting the needs that stand before us. This doesn't mean explicitly financially, but can also involve talent, time, knowledge, courage, or whatever. At those times, we have two choices - walk away from what lies before us, or trust that God is able to make up the difference.

When facing a difficult situation, the problem typically comes when we see things solely from a human perspective - when we do so, all we can see is the gap between what we have and what we need. From the Apostles' eyes, they looked at the impossibility of feeding over 5,000 men (plus their wives and children) with what amounted to a mere five dinner rolls and two fish. And when that happens, all we can do is what the Apostles wanted to do - walk away in defeat.

However, when we add God to the equation we're facing, we allow Him to take care of the gap between "have" and "need." When Jesus looked at the same exact situation as the Apostles, instead of seeing the impossibility of what lay before Him, He thanked God for His provision, blessed those meager resources, and provided not only enough to make up the difference, but even to end up with extra!

Same situation, but two totally different perspectives. And, two totally different results.

I know that God has called us to be parents at this particular junction of life, and in doing so, that He's not going to leave us hanging. And even though sometimes things will seem impossible, we just need to trust Him and His provision for what we need - to trust His ability to turn dinner for one into meals for a multitude.

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