back to my roots

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The other night, I was in search of an old blog post that I'd written and ended up spending a good chunk of time reading through my blog archive.  Looking at all my old posts, I realized that for some reason as time has gone on, I've started writing less?  It didn't make much sense to me at first because as I think about the growth of my online space, my passion for it has only gotten bigger.  After some thought, I figured out that for who knows what reason, something shifted and deciding what to write about became a bigger deal.  I'd hem and haw over different ideas, rule them out, and consider it a writer's block.  I started to get so picky that by the time I sat down to write something, I'd used up all the time I had to write by brainstorming and changing my mind.

It's like when I decide I want to paint my nails.  I'll pull out a few colors that look fun and try to narrow down my choices.  I'll land on a color and then think, oh wait, I have such and such event later this week that might require me to pink instead of lavender.  Hmm is that one too much of a fall color?  Should I put sparkles on all of my fingers or just my ring-finger for a party nail?  And then all of a sudden it's 10:30 at night, I have to get ready for bed which means I can't paint my nails because how can you wash your face with wet nails?  I mean, man, the struggle is real.

I think that's what has happened with my writing.  I became too concerned about choosing a good topic and writing something that has significance, that I didn't end up writing anything at all.  I had somehow started to put too much pressure on myself to make sure I was writing something that people would resonate with, instead of simply writing what the Lord was laying on my heart that day.  As much as I don't want to admit it, I found myself motivated or discouraged about a certain post based on how many views it received.

But here's the thing.  I didn't start this blog to get viewers, I didn't make the shift to be a writer's blog because people told me that's what they thought would be good.  I did this simply because I wanted to use the gifts the Lord has given me and make His name known.  Unfortunately I got distracted from that truth and as a result my writing lost it's freedom.  I got too caught up in what message I thought should be conveyed, when really He is the only one who gives my writing significance.  I believe that life is all about Him, that we are here to glorify Him and make his name known, and I want this little space to be a reflection of that.

And here's the last piece (and quite an important one) of what I think was different.  Going through the posts from one of the years where I wrote a bit more, I realized just how many came as an outpouring of my time reading the Bible.... Now that is humbling and convicting and motivating all at the same time.  If I want to write His words, I need to be in His word.

So that's it.  That's what I need to do.  Get back into His word daily, remind myself why I write, stop overthinking what I'm going to write about and just sit myself down in front of my computer, and write my little heart out.

I'm so glad that I came to this realization.  I can already feel the fun and freedom in writing returning.  Woohoo!  Thank you Lord :)


-- image by Marissa Maharaj --

Being the gospel made simple

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Grabbing a bench top, risers, a bar, and weights, I situated myself towards the front of the workout room guaranteeing a clear view of the instructor.  I "loaded" up my bar with an appropriately small amount of weight as I haven't been to this class in quite awhile, and prepared to feel the burn.   If you've never been to body pump, it's a weightlifting class choreographed to music with tons and tons of reps.  From squats to lunges, to dead lifts, to clean-and-presses and bicep curls- your entire body is challenged in a 45-60 minute, energy-packed class.   Having been a regular to body pump in the past, I knew that I would walk away from class feeling sweaty with tired muscles.  But what I didn't expect, was to leave feeling encouraged and challenged about how simple it is to be the gospel.

Putting my bar in set position, I rolled my shoulders back and got started as the instructor led us through the first set.  Getting lost in the flow of the class, I zoned out to the rhythm of the music and sank low over my heels to get this booty ready for the beach (hah).  A few songs in, I realized that this wasn't just any ordinary body pump class.  Instead of the top 40's "my anaconda don't want some" beats pushing us to get lower and really push ourselves, this playlist was different.  This playlist proclaimed the name of Christ.

I'm not going to lie, this threw me off a bit.  But in a good way.  I immediately started thinking- oh man, this guy must be a Christian right?  Am I the only one who recognizes these songs?  Is he allowed to do this- no one else has ever done this? Is that DC talk?  A little body pump AND Jesus? This is so great!  I couldn't help but get pumped up and want to jump around a bit as a catchy beat poured out of the speakers with these lyrics,  "You are my freedom.  We lift you higher.  You are alive in us, nothing can take your place.  You are all we need, your love has set us free." Jamming out to this playlist, I got to thinking about how simply the instructor had made his faith known.

As believers, it's so easy to get caught up in the idea that making an impact for Christ is all about how many lives you've changed, about how many "will you accept Jesus" conversations you've had, or how many times you've told the gospel story.  Yes, God's ultimate plan is that all people will know Him and sharing His story is a big part of that, but the truth is, it's much more than that.  In addition to telling His story, He calls us to be the gospel.  In Acts 1:8 Jesus says to his disciples, "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."  Notice how he doesn't say "and you will witness, you'll go tell my story, talk to lots of people about what I did in Jerusalem" - instead he says, "you will be my witnesses."  Jesus' focus is not about all the words He wants His disciples to say, but about how they are to be the representation of who He is.

Being the gospel made simple is making Jesus' name known through the way we live our lives, not just through the ways we share the story of what He's done.  It's meeting people where they're at and loving them with the love of Jesus.

The instructor of my body pump class didn't use any words to make the name of Jesus known in the workout room.  Instead of saying "hey guys, my name is Andy, I'm a Christian - here's the gospel story and here's what I think you should do with it," he created a playlist with songs that spoke the name of Jesus, of the freedom found in Christ, and of the love of God.  The songs that he chose, the way he led the class, how he made sure to know every person's name in the room, the words that he chose to motivate us to not quit, and the joy that he brought to the workout- those are the ways he made being the gospel simple.

I may not have a venue like the YMCA where I can lead 15+ people with some sweet Christian jams, but I have the choice to establish meaningful contact with my community.  A choice to be His witness- to see each moment as an opportunity to bring the kingdom of God to places where He might not yet be known.

As you go about your day, I want to challenge you to join me in thinking about how you can bring light into the darkness that so often encompasses our world.  Think about all the people you interact with in a week and show them a little love.  Bring joy to the cashier at the grocery store who just got yelled at by the last customer for bagging her eggs with the bread, bring flowers to your dry cleaning lady who always asks how your day is going and sincerely wants to know the answer, call up a friend who you know is struggling and really listen.   Being the gospel can be so simple.  So let's do it- let's be a little more like Andy and brighten this place up a bit.

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