Neoblogs: A New Home

We are currently in the midst of recreating our blogosphere in hopes to bring back the many neobloggers in the fellowship.

  • New additions include now a base site that displays all the most recent posts from current authors.
  • Linked sites for better navigation
  • Updated user functionality for both readers and authors

If you would like to start your own blog or migrate your existing blog back to our new home feel free to contact me at interns@neoxenos.org

Current users may also contact me for support with updating themes and looks for their blog site.

To access you blog site just click you name listed on the site to take you to your blog page, then just click the login link on the side!

UPDATE!!!!

As those of you who have blog sites may have noticed, you should have received an email to set up a new password. This was cause by a transition in our database to make future endeavors much simpler. If you have ANY issues logging in please contact me.

As far as linking social media with your blogs, we will be using Jetpack, you can find this on your dashboard. To do this follow these steps:

1) Log into WordPress and go to your dashboard
2) Towards the top left-hand side click on the “Jetpack” tab
3) It should go to a screen with a giant banner saying to log in with your wordpress.com credentials, along with 6 bubbles of options below it. Click on the giant banner to login and create a new user for yourself (its really easy)
4) After this go back to the previous page and click on the “Sharing” bubble.
5) Once there drag in the social media forms you would like, i.e. twitter or facebook. Make sure you are logged into those accounts. Then simply click the connect button.
6) Before you save at the bottom make sure to change the “Button Style” to “Official Buttons” and then on the “Show Buttons On” section, click the “Posts” tab.
7) Then save and it may take a few minutes to show on your blog, as always if you have any issues, shoot me an email (interns@neoxenos.org)

June

Never Good

Frustration isn’t kindled, it’s explosive
That consumes heatedly emotive

Set off by expectations wildly high
That I myself set, but cannot get by

My heart crumbles when I get to see
How terrible I must really be

I struggle and fight and work so hard
Just to be good enough, but I’m barred

I try and try and try without hope
Oh, will good ever be in my scope?

No, it won’t. I never will.
I’ll always, always, always be ill.

A Spiritual Operating Theater

The only surgery I’ve ever had to endure was getting my tonsils removed when I was 18. I remember being happy when I was told I needed to get them out. They had swollen to about the size of some pool balls and made it hard to breathe. On the other hand, I was nervous about getting put to sleep and also nervous about the pain that would ensue after surgery. I can imagine surgery for others can evoke a lot of similar reactions. Especially, for a more serious surgery, or health crisis. I bet there would be swarming feelings of fear, anxiety, or maybe even denial. Everything revolving around surgery is scary to me. I hate making appointments, I hate waiting rooms with their expired issues of Good Housekeeping, I hate the smell, and the very thought of incisions/blood on me is repulsive.

I’m probably preaching to the choir when it comes to talking about physical surgery. I don’t know many people who get overly excited about that sort of thing. I bring it up because I wanted to write about an illustration that’s been developing in my mind for a month or so now. It deals with spiritual surgery and breaking. To those reading that have a relationship with Christ, it’s probably safe to say that you will experience some level of spiritual surgery and breaking in your life as you walk with the Lord.

Knowing you are Sick.

I walked around for many years knowing I had issues. I knew God was always coming to me with something. It could be something destructive I was getting into or it could be a reservation I was holding onto in my heart. The desire was always there to deepen in my relationship with God, but I couldn’t let some things go. I also didn’t want to go through any suffering that may occur to get to that point. It’s like when someone gets cancer. Most would want to be rid of the cancer and be able to live life without the fear of impending death. Then, the truth is made known. The cancer that this person has, needs to be cut-out of their body and they must undergo extreme treatments. I don’t know what it’s like to know I have cancer but I do know what it’s like to know I am spiritually sick. I denied that I was sick for many years. I procrastinated in my dealing with it. I manipulated my way out of others seeing that I was sick. Regardless, it came to a point where I couldn’t function normally. Pure frustration. Constant relational failure. Joy depleting. It was obvious. God finally said to me, “Alright, we’ve gotta do something about this Jordan”. I think we all get to this point when we live with unattended spiritual sickness. If you feel a spiritual sickness in your own life, pray to God that he can break you. It’s not a very glamorous prayer, but it’s effective.

God’s Waiting Room.

I visited God’s waiting room recently. I was frustrated with God that he would uproot me like that and just plop me down in some bleak waiting room. Why me God? I mean, don’t people live with cancer all the time? Why are you so determined to take mine out? Why is my cancer so severe and debilitating?

waiting room

It feels like an eternity sometimes in a waiting room. Bad tv, nothing to read, disgruntled people sitting next to you, etc. God’s waiting room is similar but also has its perks . As I sat in God’s waiting room, He started to show me things. Unseen things, revealed. It was like a new episode of a television show. He didn’t give me an expired magazine, but He provided His unchanging Word. God’s Word doesn’t become irrelevant like waiting room magazines. I wasn’t surrounded by disengaged people but rather surrounded by people who cared and were praying for me as I await the next step.

It was nice to have those provisions. I needed them more than ever because lo, A familiar voice was heard in the waiting room. The voice utters nothing but lies. The voice utters nothing but accusations. I’m well aware that Satan knows what God is trying to do in my life and wants to see none of that happen.

“You aren’t even sick”

“You are hopeless. No way you will ever get better”

“It would probably be better for these other people if you didn’t exist”

“You’ve only ever been a burden to others”

1 Peter 5:8-9 says, “ Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings”

Satan wanted me to walk right out of that waiting room. He wanted me to continue living life as if the cancer had subsided and everything was fine. I’m so thankful the Lord kept me in that waiting room. The lies that Satan likes to throw around are very common among believers. I’m sure that Satan has put the exact thoughts above, in other believer’s heads. We can stand firm against these ideas because we know that our fellow brothers and sisters struggle with the same thoughts all the time. This is why fellowship is so important. We must share the thoughts we are having with our brothers and sisters in Christ. We must also take these thoughts to the Lord.

Galatians 6:2 “Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.”

Walking toward Anesthesia.

Your name is called and you get up from your seat in the waiting room to head in and talk with the nurses about the procedure. There’s still a chance to back out. You are just making a short walk from the waiting room and into a different room. Often when we experience breaking/surgery in our lives, it’s not instant. It takes constant decisions to hang in there and take additional steps. Personally, I tend to thrash around and make things miserable for myself. I say to myself, “uhhh can’t this just be over? Can’t I just be better NOW?” This is where patience in our walks is so critical. God doesn’t usually just snap a finger and then we are healed all of a sudden. He throws things in our path that demand a decision to either trust him or trust ourselves. We must learn to take our doubtful thoughts captive at this point (2 Corinthians 10:5). This is what it looks like when we are walking out of the waiting room.

Then comes one of the strangest parts and possibly the scariest. The anesthesia.

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Anesthesia has a very low chance of killing you in and of itself. At the same time, it is at this point where your lose control. You basically fall into a fake sleep/coma. You cannot speak for yourself. You cannot make decisions. You just get to lie there as the doctor performs the surgery you need. Up until the point where the needle enters your arm you have control, but after that, none. In a similar fashion, we must decide to give the Lord control over everything in our lives. The truth is that we are so very sick and we really don’t know how to fix it ourselves. Our methods of fixing our sickness only lead to more sickness. We need a doctor. We need the Lord’s steady hand to operate. When you tell the Lord that you will allow it, He can begin.

The Operating Theater.

An incision here. An incision over there. The Lord begins to carefully and gracefully remove the cancer from your body. When God performs surgery on us in life, we obviously aren’t unconscious. We are still conscious and still have choices we can make. We must continue to allow the surgery to continue. This is why its important that we don’t squirm and try to do the surgery ourselves. We must treat it as a real surgery of sorts. If we start trying to take the knife and cut out the cancer ourselves, we could really prolong or worsen the whole process. It’s still very important to resonate on the verses previously stated in 1 Peter 5 while going through surgery (V. 8 & 9). Something I’ve been learning is how to just be still. I need to let the Lord do what I don’t know how to do.

Coming Home.

 “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 5:10-11

Spiritual surgery and breaking can be miserable to go through at times. Comfort can be elusive. You can feel overwhelmed to the point of tears so often. But when everything is done and you are released to head home, I imagine it feeling like sweet release. I’ve seen this to be true in people’s lives close to me.

I only say “I imagine” because I don’t think I’m there yet.  I’m most definitely still in the operating theater when it comes to my walk. Sometimes I feel like the anesthesia is wearing off and then God asks if I’d like another shot. If I say yes, he gladly begins operating again. The more I learn how to be still and not thrash around, the easier the operating becomes.

Verse 10 in 1 Peter 5 is quite the promise to look forward to for those of us undergoing some surgery, is it not?

 

-Jordan

May

Some Faith

Sometimes I slip,
Or someone slips,
Or life slips,
All the ways –
I end up on the ground.

Maybe not too bad,
Maybe pretty bad,
But to me it seems
I’m stuck on the ground.

And I try everything –
Over & over –
But nothing seems to work.

I’m stuck right here with no help,
Or so it seems to work.

Yet He calls me to listen,
Even from my lowly position

Calling me to look up.

 

“rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice.”

Dinner with Prati

Prati walked up to the porch looking like a queen – her golden sari shining. I never imagined I would see her in the USA – let alone in my childhood home!

She hugged each one of us and remembered details about our lives. Oh, how could she? As the wife of the president of a large ministry in India, they have teams from the US over there all the time, but she remembered. 

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There are some people that you connect with, but then there are those that change your life. (I know, I can be pretty overdramatic, but this is true!*) She is one of them. Prati is married to Sam Stephens, president of a flourishing ministry in India that works in rural villages. They reach some people who have literally never heard about God before or never heard the name Jesus. And then they get to see God transform their lives, person by person, ignited with new life. And Prati is God’s vessel for ignition. She heads up “Women With a Mission,” a ministry that serves women in India by giving them the ability to spread the Gospel through training and discipleship. This is TOTALLY revolutionary – women in rural Indian villages most of the time have no purpose.

Prati’s mission is to preach the reality of the new life in Christ. Her ministry is with women who have been told they are nothing their whole lives. They are viewed as objects or inconveniences to those around them, they have no confidence. So, Prati LOVES telling them about their new life in Christ. When they ask God to come into their lives and take away their sin, everything changes. They can put off completely their old identity of nothing and take on this new identity of being everything. She says, “These women need to know that they mean everything to Jesus.” 

This is profound to me. In the USA, whether we try to or not, we’re all about works and success. Even those who have a relationship with God for years can get crushed when we look around and see we don’t have any ministry or that we aren’t highly esteemed by our peers. That’s what we want: recognition, pride, confidence – in what we’ve accomplished. 

So, I think what Prati says to those women in India is very humbling to a woman in the US to hear – instead of trying and striving and shame in failure, the only thing that should have that much impact on my life is Christ in me. The only thing that matters is how He views me. It doesn’t matter what I think of myself, or how I view my weaknesses, I should celebrate Christ in me. He’s the only thing about me that matters… He makes me EVERYTHING to God, and that changes EVERYTHING. 

This is what I want to preach to those around me, too. So many are broken, defeated and left with no hope. I’m seeing it younger & younger as I get to work with high schoolers – they feel they are nothing since they are treated as such and they look for significance from anything. It causes much more hurt when they do this. (When I do it, too!) I don’t think I do this enough: preach new identity in Christ. I want to! Just having this reminder has pushed me to pursue God on another level – it connects the gap between us because there is no gap! He is in me! I want to pursue who is my heavenly Father and what he wants to do through me! It’s Ephesians 1:1-14 – all of those blessings, all of those truths about Christ and what he’s given to us. It is a powerful fact that changes entire lives. 

—> The time with her was warm and honest. Were we back in India, again? We ate, laughed, caught up a little and then she told us about how the Lord is moving in India. She spoke of four new regions of India that God has allowed India Gospel League – and specifically her ministry, Women With A Mission – to enter to spread the Gospel of Jesus. She spoke of amazing things such as women never knowing that they could have a purposeful relationship with the Lord, never knowing of their significance to Him, and women’s prayers answered left and right. She spoke of God giving her the ability to preach in a language she only studied in school 40 years ago! 

Someone should write a book about this lady. This was the second time I have met her, but the more I learn about her walk with the Lord, the more profound my view of Him becomes. She is so faithful to God because she has a very deep, emotional, close relationship with Him. She is human – she has been through many struggles! She has encountered many sins! But she always seems to go to God first. She’s been through much hurt, too. The way she speaks to the heart of the insecure makes so much sense. She’s seen her lot of hardships. But she also knows how diligent the Lord is to come through on his promises. 

—> She shared with us what she has been learning about prayer. She is always learning something as she walks with God! She realized that every time she prayed, it’s as if she swiped her credit card – “God, I need this. Please & thank you.” But as she studied Luke 11:1 and Matthew 6, it became more apparent that what God wants from us in prayer is constant, honest, reliant communication spurred from a close, intimate relationship with him. Not only asking for our daily needs, which are SO hard to see past! But for the greater things! Because if we really knew him, we would be ABLE to SEE that HE is ABLE to accomplish MUCH more than just: “Please, help me pass this test, provide me a job, etc.” He is able to change eternities. 

And then, we got to pray with her. Her prayers are deep, emotional, hopeful, and encouraging. She knows God so deeply. She prayed for so many things I never thought to pray for. But she had such confidence God heard her and already had a solution because that is how much he cares for us. 

My goal is to be like Prati. I want to know God this closely – close enough to pray to Him like she does. Close enough to want his glory more than my own. Close enough to kneel before him in reliance. Close enough to have joy in EVERY circumstance. Close enough to praise him for every good thing…

Close enough to be able to look a woman in the eye, as she did to me, and tell her: “You are significant and important. You are right, not because of who you are, but because you have a Father that invested into you. You are here for a very great purpose – DO YOU BELIEVE THIS?” 

*Prati changed my life in a few ways, no lie. But the largest way is this: while we were in India, she had all the women at the conferences pray that I find a good husband and get married. At the time, Zak & I had been broken up and going through much breaking. She told me this later, but she knew Zak from his time in India and prayed we could be together, if in God’s will. So, I owe this lady a LOT! – Isn’t that cool?! 

Spiritual Cancer: Pride

Some of the most terrifying dreams I’ve ever had were dreams in which I lost something. You wake up in a cold sweat and it takes a few moments to regain your sense of reality. It’s a great sigh of relief to know that your life, your plans, your kingdom– are still intact. Often, you can go about your day feeling that relief but sometimes, dreams have tended to haunt me. I’m no expert in regards to dreams, but I have been told by a few people that dreams in fact represent some part of your subconscious mind. When I ponder about dreams, I tend to think about one that Nebuchadnezzar had. He was deeply troubled by his dream…

     “I had a dream that made me afraid. As I was lying in bed,the images and visions that passed through my mind terrified me. So I commanded that all the wise men of Babylon be brought before me to interpret the dream for me.”  Daniel 4:5-6

The dream depicted a very large tree that was full of fruit and radiated prosperity. The tree was then cut down, it’s branches were cut-off, and it’s fruits were scattered. The tree is personified in the dream as a “him” and it was decreed for the tree to lie down like an animal.

Neb has the prophet Daniel interpret the dream for him:

“My lord, if only the dream applied to your enemies and its meaning to your adversaries! The tree you saw, which grew large and strong, with its top touching the sky, visible to the whole earth, with beautiful leaves and abundant fruit, providing food for all, giving shelter to the wild animals, and having nesting places in its branches for the birds— Your Majesty, you are that tree! You have become great and strong; your greatness has grown until it reaches the sky, and your dominion extends to distant parts of the earth […] Cut down the tree and destroy it, but leave the stump, bound with iron and bronze, in the grass of the field, while its roots remain in the ground. Let him be drenched with the dew of heaven; let him live with the wild animals, until seven times pass by for him.” Daniel 4:19-23

Neb felt as if he had it all. He felt that he had no need for God. He knew that he was important. He was entitled to the life that he wanted to live. He was INFECTED with a spiritual cancer called pride. Then, after the interpretation of a dream, his plans were gutted. God sent Neb a “Daniel” to remind him that he isn’t in charge. Just like that, everything Neb thought he earned, was stripped.

“Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven away from people and ate grass like the ox. His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird.”  Daniel 4:33

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It’s quite the scary picture (and depiction above). To be honest though, this is what it’s like when God “Opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble”. Our minds turn into clouded machines, we grow into beasts, we lose the sanity we once had, and our thought lives become polluted with lies. Neb came face to face with his worst fear. He lost what he kept so dear to his heart. All the control over things he had before was gone and he couldn’t change it.

I can relate to Neb’s situation. I described this in a some detail in my previous blog but I felt it could use a little more depth. I was king of my kingdom. I didn’t develop a nickname like “King Jordan” for nothing. A year ago, things were going well in my life. At least, that’s how I felt at the time. I was FINALLY going to graduate college, I already locked in a full-time engineering position, I was set to propose to the woman I loved, I bought a new car, I was leading house/cell, etc. I was like a kid in a candy store with unlimited pocket change. I became very contented and felt utterly entitled to have control of every part of my life moving forward. That’s when the branches started to get cut off and the tree (me) started to take axe hits to my foundation.

The things I thought I earned, the things I thought I deserved, were slowly slipping through the holes in the net of my control. My terrible dreams about losing everything that would sometimes frequent me, started to become reality. Not completely, but in some sense. Over the past year, it has become more clear than ever before that the prideful control I thought I had over my life, really wasn’t there. God has started to show me who’s really in control, and that is Him. When you become so accustomed to controlling everything in your life, it is honestly brutal to give it up to God. It is absolutely a daily decision and battle to give it up. Will I let my feelings overwhelm me today? Will I let the temptation to make myself feel good, take over today? Will I seek to establish a false image of myself today? Will I choose to be vulnerable about my feelings or will I hold everything in today? These are questions that I find myself asking daily.

I will say, the days in which I took these questions to the Lord and let him work, have been my best days. I stumble and fumble around, a lot. I get frustrated in moments. I get depressed. Sometimes I feel gross. But, I have found that WITHOUT FAIL, when I take these things to the Lord and say “I trust you with this right now Lord. What is it that you want to show me?”, he answers that prayer. Sometimes he shows me somewhere I can be effective, sometimes he puts an edifying thought in my mind that i can act on, and sometimes he even wants me to be still and reflect on some truths.

There is a really cool hope in this passage. Neb didn’t just become an animal and that was all she wrote. We read in verse 34:

“At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever.”

Sometimes, we as Christians have to have our tree cut down. God even leaves the roots so we can grow again! However, the spiritual cancer of pride can develop deep strongholds, and God is willing to go to drastic lengths to oppose these strongholds in us because of His unconditional love. He knows that our pride will only lead to spiritual death. When this happens, we must learn to lift our eyes towards heaven like Neb did. God is the only one who can change your situation. When I lift my eyes to heaven, God helps me look at my situation and find things that I can be grateful for. What a gift that is. I have a hard time remembering how much God loves me and how much he has ALREADY blessed me with. A pride killer is gratefulness coming from the heart. Gratefulness produces humility in knowing that everything you have has been given to you. (1 Cor 4:7)

I think there are a few important lessons we can learn from this experience Neb had with pride that I will mention briefly.

  1. God will send you Daniels. Messengers in your life to wake you up and remind you that you aren’t in charge. Don’t reject them. (Proverbs 19:20)
  2. Coined by Tim Keller, pride is a form of “cosmic plagiarism”. It takes what God has created or given you and says, “look what I did!”
  3. A joyous life is that which receives everything as a gift from God.
  4. Pride defaces our humanity. We want to become more than what God created, therefore we become less.
  5. Pride is a joy killer.
  6. We are the works of art created by the greatest mercy of God.

How do you treat the blessings in your life? How do you react to miserable situations in your life? How much of the things in your life are ACTUALLY in your control?

Lastly, here’s some nice music:

Anyways, I’m done.

-Jordan

 

April

I’ve never felt so frail.
Looking at my life suddenly
I see all I did was fail.

And nothing soothes,
There’s no point in positivity
When you always just lose.

“Hey, girl, I’ve been thinking about you…”

Shattered Dreams

Life has not been hard for me. Sure, I’ve had my ups and downs over the years. I’ve had my fair share of screw ups and trials. But all in all, I have had a pretty easy-going and full life. I’ve only experienced the death of one close family member (My grandma Yoerger), I’ve broken some bones here and there, been in the hospital a few times, and I’ve experienced the heartache of losing friends (just like most people). Although, when I look at my life honestly, it has been amazing. I have two very loving parents that have dedicated their lives to the Lord and have been married for 100 years. I have a cool relationship with my brother and we don’t hate each other (anymore). I’ve always had a core group of friends and I was never lonely growing up unless I somehow convinced myself that I was. The Lord has shown me the significance of doing ministry and fighting for people’s eternal lives. He has given me cool gifts to utilize. I have always been handed good jobs. I am healthy and I’ve never had serious surgery or life-threatening injury. I could go on.

With all that being said, I should be very grateful. I should wake up every morning and thank God for all the good things he has given me. I wish I could say I’ve always done that. Sadly, my pampered life has chartered me to live a life that is rich with entitlement and high expectations. The Lord has blessed me continually and that makes me a steward of those blessings. One reason I am writing this blog is to say I have not been a good steward. If I focus on the past year alone, I have taken the blessings God has given me and spit on them. Without saying the words, I have made it clear to God that “these blessings aren’t good enough. I want this too. Why can’t you give me this?”. It was more than questioning the blessings he gave me, though. I took that a step further and ‘said’ to God “Well, if you won’t give me what I want. I’ll take what I want. I’ll get what I want how I want to get it”. This is called rebellion. I pressed the play button on “playing games with God” and let me tell you, it did not look pretty. Everyone that knows me well, understands that I have a strong personality. For better or for worse, I have a way of getting my way. This works for some time, but I tried to strong-arm God and it blew up in my face. It didn’t happen all at once. It was a slow progressive process.

I remember the moment in my heart when I “pressed play”. The moment where I lost my joy. The date of my wedding was pushed back due to some communication issues that were going to be important to sort out before jumping into marriage. Tick..tick..boom. It was like one moment I could see clearly and the next, I was standing in a battle field; ears ringing, light-headed, vision obscured, head pressure. I was angry and confused. I was angry at people. I was angry at God. Voices were screaming at me constantly. My dreams felt shattered. Looking back, it was silly. Nothing bad even happened. If anything, things were going to be better after some more time. I couldn’t see that though.

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My dreams felt shattered.

That was only the start. I have a tendency to dream and fantasize about situations. It has been a good thing in some situations but it has also been perpetually destructive in my life. I get a big plan in mind and have literally no idea what it will take to make that happen or what that dream even entails. It is what you could call suffocating tunnel vision. The problem I started to face in this situation was that I had a hard time controlling things. I couldn’t flip a switch and make something happen. This added to my frustration. My rebellion against God became more severe. I was deprived of almost all of my joy. I tried to find pleasure and fulfillment in illegitimate ways.  My happy moments were fleeting and I started to just grit my teeth and do what I thought I needed to do. I made it up in my head that I would do as I’m told so I can get what I want. I’ll wait it out.

I was deprived of almost all of my joy.

This worked out grea…….TERRIBLY. I was not a happy person. I became even more frustrated. I bullied people and threw shade. People became objects to get what I want. If they didn’t make me look good, then they weren’t worth my effort or time. I was jealous in that it seemed like everyone else got what they wanted. I couldn’t listen to anyone that had something to say. Not even the closest people to me. The one’s I love dearly couldn’t even cut through the fog of my mind and I was left moving forward with my plan while God continued to put his foot down.

Fast forward 6 months.

I am no longer engaged. I am single and not dating anyone. I have moved into a new apartment with new people. I am in a new cell. There have been many changes. All of the dreams I had…shattered.

Its hard. I have never felt pain this deep before. About a month ago there were weeks where I couldn’t go to bed unless I cried. I have had nightmares regularly. I feel like I’ve walked into work looking no different than a zombie staring blankly at my computer screen. Tony Evans says it well, I was in “spiritual bondage”. My life fell apart around me and I couldn’t understand why. I was writhing around in agony. I couldn’t think straight. Voices screaming. Wishing I wasn’t alive. Wanting to give up and walk away totally. But, also trying to hold on to false hope and more dreams. Then I was struck by Isaiah 50:11

“Behold, all you who kindle a fire,
Who encircle yourselves with firebrands,
Walk in the light of your fire
And among the brands you have set ablaze.
This you will have from My hand:
You will lie down in torment.”

I was lighting my own fire. I have done that my entire life. The past year has been the story of Jordan lighting his own fire. That led me into a miserable situation and was continuing to torment me. This left me with a decision. It was a nostalgic crossroad. I remember when I was 14 and lying in my bed helplessly weeping. God was asking me, “Will you give up and trust me with your life Jordan, or will you continue to try to make life work on your own?”. I received Christ that night. Now 10 years later I face a very similar question, “Jordan, will you trust me? Will you abide in me? Have I ever failed you? Or will you continue to reject me?”.

A couple of weeks ago I was crying out to God. I told him that I give up. I said “uncle” because I was wrestling with him, and he was completely obliterating me. I knew that I had nothing left in the tank. I had two options to die. If I walked away, I would die. If I stayed and trusted God, I would also die. The keynote difference is that with the Lord, the death brings forth life (John 12:24).

I had two options to die.

I can say for the first time in my life that I want to truly die to myself. I’ve held so many ultimatums and reservations my entire life that it has caused my communion with Christ to falter. It caused me to see everything through a screen. Once I was able to finally just give up, the screen lifted. Just like that. I feel like Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol”. God’s taking me on a walk and showing me my character and how skewed my thoughts have been. Things started to make sense. I think about the things I have done in the past year and all I can do is just shake my head. I find myself saying, “that didn’t even make sense” on a daily basis.

I just finished a book called “Abide in Christ” by Andrew Murray (Best book I’ve ever read). Oh how I wish I read this book years ago. In the midst of this suffering I have finally been able to see how necessary it is to abide in Christ and trust him. True fellowship with my creator didn’t seem likely unless I gave up everything. My dreams needed to be shattered because my dreams suck. This is one of my favorite excerpts from Murray’s book:

“Our hearts are continually prone to wander from Him; prosperity and enjoyment all too easily satisfy us, dull our spiritual perception, and unfit us for full communion with Himself. It is an unspeakable mercy that the Father comes with His chastisement, makes the world round us all dark and unattractive, leads us to feel more deeply our sinfulness, and for a time lose our joy in what was becoming so dangerous. He does it in the hope that, when we have found our rest in Christ in time of trouble, we shall learn to choose abiding in Him as our only portion; and when the affliction is removed, have so grown more firmly into Him, that in prosperity He still shall be our only joy.”

That is my confident hope. Jesus says, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” That is what gets me through the day. The Lord wants to bless us. He has great plans for our lives. When I am hit with memories, regret, guilt, shame, more failure; my face can now be turned toward a gracious father that loves me dearly.

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-Jordan