Friday, June 1, 2012

A Fighter: The Eclipse of Legacy

Can I just be straight- forward here? I feel the heaviness of my heart all the time. It weighs my body down, it tries to overtake me, and scariest of all, it buries my intentions and passions deep within its dark walls. They get lost in the very darkness that I myself have created. I am beginning to find that in my blindness they are impossible to recover on my own-- like an ocean current, forever sweeping away, sweeping away.  God has great purpose in giving us dreams, but what even are these God-given dreams if they are constantly polluted by the integration of our own dark desires? Clarity seems so fairytale-like nowadays. When are we going to open our eyes? God gives us a mission through our dreams, yet we keep putting them off and putting them off; we stand back and wait for someone else to accomplish them first. That way, we have an excuse. "Someone else already started that minstry, Lord! But hey-- it's okay. They are so much more equipped than I am. I know they will go on to do great things here. You don't need me anymore." --Okay, for all of you who just read that-- come on now. Don't lie to yourself. I know in your head you're thinking, "That's ridiculous! I would never do that!" But take a moment to search your heart.

I'm sure you'll immediately find the contradiction.

We all do it. We all say it. We're all ashamed of it, scared of it, even. Although this is not voiced particularly often-- it's not a uncommon thing to be scared of a dream. That's completely normal. But it's when you let that fear hold you back from moving closer towards your God-given dreams that it becomes altogether unhealthy. Don't live your life crippled. Put to death the dark desires of your heart, become a warrior, fight for your dreams. Live a life of legacy.

Even the darkest of days carry a light that shines forth always. Even the foggiest of lives can have the clearest of meanings. Everyone has a calling and everyone is here for a reason. You weren’t born simply to die; you were born with a purpose that only you can fulfill. Don’t overlook it long enough to forget that it is there, and remember that with each heartbeat comes a new chance to turn yourself around. Corruption comes upon those who let it poison their lives, but that is why we must choose to stand strong and fight the battle. Each day lived is another victory won over this cruel world, and every battle won is one more step closer to the beginning of eternity. When in combat for your mind, quitting is not an option. There is no Plan B. Cherish every moment you have, and look past life’s imperfections long enough to see the beauty of their results in your life. You can leave an everlasting mark on this world only if you believe it to be true. Start living like your dreams matter. They not only matter to you, but they matter deeply to God. --In need of a recipe for legacy? Here it is. It's simple. "You must never back down."

WELL-- Now that that's covered-------- Ready... Set... GO!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

When Reality Hits

“Almost there—we’re so close to reaching the forbidden ruby tablet!” I shout up the ancient Peruvian cave. “Lower me deeper!” I feel my sturdy rope loosen as the slack lowers me further into the abyss. “Just two more feet and I can snatch it!” I yell up in greedy lust, grasping my backpack in search for that old rusty canteen burrowed somewhere deep within that black hole I call my explorer’s bag. Suddenly- sirens. Alarms from all directions greet my ears. I yelp as a bright red light as tiny as a pinhole comes racing at me, rapidly growing in size. My screams echo across the dripping cave walls as the light consumes me and I am left in darkness.
The alarms continue to sound. I groan in grogginess and reach my hand over to feel for that familiar black, plastic rectangle and hit the “off” button in dismay. As the sirens abruptly stop, the blackness of the cave begins to fade. I pry my eyes open and warily sit up against my cotton bed sheets, thinking to myself, “Just another typical dream. Just another typical Tuesday.”
Merely an hour later, I’m already shredding up the sidewalk on my skateboard headed to school. The incredible rush of movement, the wind rustling through my chestnut brown ringlets, the sound of dirty plastic wheels smacking the pavement- it’s what I live for. Those burly sycamore trees to my left and to my right have become a blur as I whirl past them in delight, taking in a breath of fresh Minnesota air, hoping this glorious moment will never die. It is then that I realize—I have already reached school.
Back to reality.
I gracefully hop off my board and strut through the double doors of Fairmont High School with suave, precision, and charm—things I had learned over the years from being included in “the popular crowd”.  –Okay, I know what you’re thinking. It’s not that I actually enjoy their company. I guess it’s more of a self-image thing- to feel wanted and important and beautiful and of high status and… and, and, most of all, to feel like I have it all together. Even though I don’t. Even though I never have. Even though it’s a long shot to think that I ever will. It’s sick, really. But it’s all I’ve ever known.

My thoughts carry me back to the present moment as I enter the main hallway in hopes to get to my biology class before the late bell rings. Ready for the day to be over before it even begins, I sigh and fall into my routinely rut that carries me throughout the day. It’s so extremely regular that I could list it all off without a second thought: Strut into school, talk with Sara and Ashlee to make myself look good, fall asleep in biology, paint my nails in algebra, sit with the popular table at the lunch… the list could go on forever. You see, I have it all down to a science. And nothing can change that.
I’m still conversing with Sara and Ashlee up until the minute bell, and even then I still casually stroll right along to class like I have all the time in the world. The school halls are roaring with laughter and brilliant smiles, and the glowing faces of teenagers light up the walkway. But that’s when—everything begins happening in slow motion. In the bustle of school halls, undistinguished blurs of faces I had once been familiar with circle my vision as I pause in a trance-like state. The piercing screams, the scrambling students, the uncontrollable urge to want to disappear—it all seems so vain considering the circumstances, yet so necessary in the time at hand. This situation that we, our entire student body, are faced with turns out to be unbelievably grueling and heart-wrenching.
As everyone runs and crouches down in safe distance, all eyes are on one student—the student who had shot a gun at the ceiling just seconds ago. I stay standing. I’m not afraid. We all turn to a crazed version of this young soul we had all once known, in unpredictable expectancy of what was to happen next.
Quivering students.
Traumatized cries.
As I stand directly across the hall from him, he looks my way and points his gun up to the ceiling once more. BANG! Tears streaming down my face, I whisper, “Jackson.” My voice cracks. I only have enough strength to squeak out one more word: “Why?” So many questions, so much confusion, so much… so much regret.
In the background, our student body is crying, shaking even, out of fear of Jackson, of what’s to come, of everything within this moment. Our worlds are now defined by terror and despair, all wrapped up as one package. “What led you to this point?” I ask quietly, trembling, as if realizing for the first time that we are the only two people standing. Following this question, it seems as if the silence continues rolling along like a film—for hours upon end, until finally, he breaks it. Or maybe it was just a few seconds. Who could tell? The distress was so unbearable that I couldn’t even put words together correctly. Everything I knew was suddenly jumbled.
Clutching the gun, Jackson moves forward. He shouts, “Is this what you wanted? Is this what you all intended? Slowly killing me with your words, your hatred… Did you really expect me just to survive all of it? To ignore it? To not take it to heart? Well I have news for you. I am human. I’m capable of feeling pain, too—just as much as any of you are! I guess I just wasn’t worth it though, huh?” He is sweating now, gritting his teeth and squeezing his eyes shut.
A few girls begin to whisper towards the back of the hallway and Jackson looks over and notices. He pauses, then lowers his voice: “I thought you would listen to me. This one time, I thought it was going to be different. I thought you people would be a little more respectable than that. I thought that maybe, just maybe you would give me the courtesy of regarding me before my death. For once in my life, I need someone to listen to me! Do you think you could give me that? Just once?” The wide-eyed girls immediately shut their mouths in shame.
Jackson goes on. “Did you know that every night for the past year I’ve gone home and let your words sink in to me until I felt that they were the only words I had ever known? Did you know that every night I cry myself to sleep because of how you treat me? How you harass me? Did you know that I felt alone? That I had no real friends in my life? That everyone was ashamed to be around me because of the “rep” they would get for doing so? Did you know that I was depressed? That sooner or later the results would come to this? You did know. You just never cared.” Jackson slowly points the tip of the gun to his brain. “And since you never cared, I guess my death with be nothing to you either.” Finger on the trigger, he is milliseconds away from imminent death. I gasp as my heart skips a beat, paralyzed in motionless time.
In a moment of courage, a tiny girl named Abby stands up. Being the quiet type, Abby is not usually the one to speak up, but her heart of gold speaks for her in the spur of this moment. She takes the chance that I fail to take. The chance I’m not courageous enough to take. She intervenes. In a feeble cry, she screams, “Don’t shoot! Please… don’t… shoot…,” each word separated by hyperventilation and petrification. Gasps are heard all around as all eyes turn to this little girl with the gold cross hanging around her neck.
At these words, we all expect him to stop—to reconsider his life, to give us all a second chance. But just as the attention fades off of Jackson, he does it.
He shoots.
A pang of excruciating exasperation washes over my fragile heart. I shriek in forlorn as I rush over to him, in some prideful yet hopeful attempt at erasing it all—at going back in time to just a few seconds earlier, when Jackson’s afflicted soul lived on among ours.
I’m too late.
Jackson drops to the floor as his head gushes a river of crimson. His hand loosens grip, releasing the gun which then falls to his side. It all happens so fast: the bullet, the clank of the gun dropping, the impact of his body hitting the ground, the mourning of students around him, those who don’t care and walk right on to class—and then there’s me. Then there’s me, convulsing on the ground right there in the middle of the entire school. My body is shaking, my tears are so intensely painful that they aren’t even coming out anymore, and my head is reeling thoughts of compassion and wonder.
Unanticipatedly, I get up and I run. I run as fast as these two legs of mine will carry me, in an insufficient attempt to get as far away from the scene as I can.
Ever since that first bullet in the ceiling, my guilt has been killing me. Did Jackson remember all those times I was with Ashlee and Sara when they bullied him? I mean, it’s not like I did anything. I just played along. I just listened, and occasionally laughed along with them. But I didn’t really say anything, so I’m not at fault.  Right? Yes, of course that’s right. I’m being ridiculous. I had no part in Jackson’s death. –Or at least I can’t bring myself to consider the alternative.
At this thought, a single tear swims down my puffy, red-stained cheeks. I wonder what might have happened had I spoken up. If I had defended him, befriended him—maybe he would still be alive. I would have lost my popularity, but would it have been worth it? To save a life? Maybe I could have helped him turn his life around and, as a result he could have lived a satisfying, happy, full life.
I shudder and immediately put the thought away.
The image of his cold, bloodied body lying there on the floor—will it ever leave my mind? Will this suicide haunt me my whole life? In this last hour, I have learned more about life than I have in all my 16 years of living. What even is popularity in comparison to the lifeline of a precious person? Why do I care so much about my self-image? Through this past hour I’ve learned that sometimes, the biggest regrets in life are not what we do or say, but what we fail to do and say—what we lack in boldness and courage to stand up for. The truth is, I did not pity those in my school who were weeping. They deserved it. I deserved it. We all needed a desperate wake up call.
But for next time, we cannot afford to wait, to hold ourselves back from standing up for those who won’t stand up for themselves. When are we going to see that another suicide would be the waste of a life lesson we’ve already been taught once? When are we going to see that time is running out to save a life?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The "Key" to Correspondence

Earlier today, I thought of this crazy analogy and I felt it strong on my heart to share it:

How does a piano work? Does anyone know? How does the sound come out simply by pressing each key? Well, when a piano key is pressed, a tiny hammer flies up and strikes the strings that are hidden within the piano. Each string and key is tuned to produce the corresponding note, creating a perfect match. Once the hammer strikes the string, it quickly falls away so as not to stop their vibration, creating a long lasting sound that resonates beautifully.

Reflecting on this, God taught me an extremely profound lesson. What if we let God do with us what each piano key lets its string do with them? Okay, so it's obviously no secret that a piano key is nothing without its corresponding string-- but what is a piano without someone to play it? What good does it do if you're a key with no string? You are a dust collector.

We all need Jesus because, believe it or not, we are truly helpless without him. Each key can only be used if the string is in correspondence to it. We must be willing to let God change us and unify us with himself, or everything we do is in vain. As strange as this might sound-- Jesus is in search for people who are willing to let him play them like a piano. We each represent one key, but if all keys are in correlation with the Father think of the beautiful melodies and harmonies we could make. Together. Your specific piano string is your specific life that God has called you to live. If we band together, each living life as we are called, we have the entire family of Christ living solely to lift his name. How powerful would that be in the advancement of the Kingdom?!

Let's create an alluring sound; let's let our lifesong sing to Him! And hey, you never know-- He might even be in the process of playing it back to you-- in some way, somehow. Take a moment to listen to his voice today, and give in to him as he plays out your beautiful life in harmony with others. Despite the screaming distractions of the world, deep inside the quietness of his heart is a will and plan for your life.

Let him play. Just let him play.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Hands That Hold the Stars, Sentenced to Wear My Scars= FREEDOM!

Today I invite you with me to discover perspective. "WHO am I?" "What does it mean that Jesus died for me?" "Why should I care?" Well, turn with me to Isaiah 59:1-15 and let's find out. ...Hold up. Pause. Jesus wants you to put your life on hold to take a few precious moments with him prayerfully pondering the words he has written for us. In these 15 verses... Believe it or not, Jesus is describing none other than you and me. Read this portion of Isaiah envisioning yourself in each situation, allowing him to open up your soul to a lot of what we ignore. Sometimes truth can be hard to embrace. But is it necessary to? Absolutely. I'm praying for you as you read this passage! Go ahead, dive in. See what God has for you. (and don't read ahead yet!!)

--(after you have read Isaiah 59:1-15) Amazing isn't it? How we can so easily slip away and forget the magnitude of our sin and how it seperates us from God? Just a few examples from these verses... Our hands are defiled with innocent blood that we are swift to shed, we rely on empty pleas and lies, our feet run to evil, we live in desolation and destruction that we ourselves have created, we build crooked roads that cause others to stumble and find no peace, we utter lies from the heart, and greatest of all we deny the Lord our Father.

"Therefore justice is far from us, and righteousness does not overtake us; we hope for light, and behold, darkness, and for brightness, but we walk in gloom. We grope for the wall like the blind; we grope like those who have no eyes; we stumble at noon as in the twilight, among those in full vigor we are like dead men." ~Isaiah 59:9-10

Do you understand the implications of these words? We have brought death upon ourselves. We are in desperation; we have no eyes, feeling along the wall like the blind. We are without a sense of direction. Without God being our eyes for us, there is no light. Instead we have chosen darkness and gloom. We have chosen to live as dead men. But... this wasn't our intention, right? We're scared! We don't know how to fight for ourselves and, besides... the penalty is final. Right?

WRONG. Tears were filling heaven's eyes! This wasn't his original plan; it wasn't what he wanted for us! We are his children. How could he sit back and watch us self-destruct? He very well could have. Actually, he SHOULD have. That's exactly what we asked for, and he couldn't go back on his promise. Someone had to pay. Someone HAD to pay. Let's read the rest to find out how our life story ends. Join me again after you read Isaiah 59:15-21.

--Beautiful, isn't it? Just the first phrase. "The Lord saw it, and it displeased him that there was no justice" (v. 1). Out of his steadfast, heartfelt love for us he delivered himself in the hands of his very creation that he knew would brutally kill him. Did that stop him from coming? No. That is the very reason why he came. He came boldly for you and me. His strong arm brought us salvation; He wrapped himself in divine light and a passionate cloak of zeal... all for people that he knew would betray him time and time again. And after all that, he still hasn't forgotten or forsaken us! We are of such high value to him that he would sacrifice his life to bring us out of "the pit" (Psalms)! And can I tell you something? Something marvelous and beautiful? HE WOULD DO IT ALL AGAIN IF HE HAD TO. He would do it 769,574,367 more times if that's what it took. That's the magnitude and definition of his unearthly love for us! The power of the cross is immeasurable! Our Redeemer LIVES! Praise God!
He has delivered us from the evil that once lived inside of us. He hung on a tree, his blood was spilt, his flesh was torn. ...How much is too much to give? Well, Jesus stopped at everything. Everything. We will bring him everlasting praise! He is Glory in the Highest! I challenge you to meditate on him today. Think about his selflessness and his grace. Live like you're free! You've been made new! You are delivered! If you ask me... Now THAT is love!

Saturday, January 7, 2012


Lately I have heard a lot of prayer requests for more energy and passion for the Gospel. To those of you who have asked me to pray for you, know that I am and will continue to do so; but for now take this encouragement from one friend to another. Please, take this to heart; this is Jesus speaking to us. He's pleading with us to find life in him! Don't pass it up! You're WAY too precious in Jesus' sight!

In the New Testament, Jesus says this: “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit” (John 15:5-9).

This passage in John tells us that those who have faith, God will find favor in them and answer their prayers. We have to be rooted in him. He is the ONLY root; without him we are not even on level ground. We don't have any foundation at all! In fact, without the foundation of Christ, we will surely "wither up and die". I don't know about you, but that blows me away. Here Jesus isn't talking about physical death; he speaks of something much more valueable. This which he speaks of is the very thing the Devil is fighting to steal from you-- your soul. The Devil wants this so badly that he has taken the consequence of hell to bring as many others down with him in the process as possible. If Jesus has given his life for your soul and Satan is giving his eternal destiny for it, what does that tell you? You're valueable. You're bought at a price. Don't make the grave mistake that most people and even Christians make.

We were BORN to stand out. We live to love. We are the change; we are the revolutionizers. Do we not see the amazing privilege in that?! We overcome the world with just one touch of his Spirit. He holds the world in the breadth of his hand; he is a BIG God. Jesus didn't live a cowardly life, so why should we?

I dare you. Take a chance. Do something you normally wouldn't. STAND OUT. Be who you are called to be. Pray like you actually have faith that God will see you through. Stand back and be amazed by the power of our God! Find the beauty in Jesus! Live to serve. I DARE YOU.

Are you ready? Jesus is. He's waiting. Take the call.