Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Re-inventing Myself

It's been a long and sometimes very bumpy, but rewarding ride. Last Sunday I made my announcement...a decision that my wife and I have been miserable over making. I think the misery came more from the guilt we felt over knowing the right one to make for our family. It has been an 11 year ride as a youth pastor for Living Water Church. In this time, I have lost students to many things, even death and gained devoted staff, committed to the cause of Jesus Christ. It has been the best 11 years on my life. I can say that without a moments thought. I was doing something I love. I love loving teenagers as tough as they can be deal with.

I am on to different things. Not bigger and better as some would say. Nothing has been bigger or more rewarding than serving Christ in ministry full time. I remember the night we got the call after a very intimidating interview with a Q&A with like 12 people. I waited for the time they said they would call by, and just like Living Water's timing, they were late, so I was terrified. I had never wanted anything so badly. The phone rang and they offered me the job. I grabbed my soon to be wife and hugged her tight. I knew this meant family. This was what I had always wanted. I finally got what I wanted. To be honest, I had never gotten what I wanted. I fought for it with all my heart and got hurt and cut and struggled through my own weaknesses and thin skin and found my way to now. Right now, I know more about youth ministry than I ever have...and I am walking away from it...at least full time youth ministry. It is bittersweet. I cannot even explain to you how it feels to stand in front of a kid that was troubled and desperate for God 10 years later and officiate their wedding to another committed follower of Christ.

This is not the end. I will be taking on the role of a volunteer, non-vocational pastor at Living Water and will have my hand as much as I can in the youth ministries and anything else I can submerse myself into. I miss doing things for God just because I want to sacrifice without the lingering thought that it is my job in the back of my head. This is my chance to work on my weaknesses and devote my strengths to this church in different and exciting ways.

I am excited about the future, both mine and this church's. They both go together as this church has raised me and I have served and will serve diligently. Thank you to all who have supported me throughout the years. I will need your continued prayers and support as this church tries to transition in the smoothest way possible.


Thanks for reading...Z

Saturday, September 24, 2011

And if You Don't Know, Now You Know

People think life is all about trying hard...that it isn't about succeeding or about victory, it is about trying.

It isn't about any of those things. Life is about submission.

Submission is harder to accept that defeat. Submission is giving up. If you were ever involved in sports, you have been taught that giving up is not an option. How completely wrong that is. Submission is the very fabric of our being. Let's take a look at some things we can control and some things we HAVE to submit to...

Things we can control:
Our temper.
Our weight.
Our attitude.
Our choices.
Our relationships.
Our appearance.
Many more small things.

Things we submit to:
Our birth.
Our death.
Our circumstances.
Our age.
Our God.
Many more.

In nursing, they call these things unmodifiable risks.  Things that you cannot control that can cause you harm.The former are modifiable.

Trying too hard will cause you harm. Trying to fix things for yourself or others will cause you both harm. Thinking that your efforts deserve respect or reward will get you. Nothing we can do is good.

The Bible says that even our good deeds are like menstrual clothes compared to Him. It is clear that we are helpless. God requires perfection. We cannot achieve that, ever. But Jesus did. That is why we believe. Because we are helpless to save ourselves. Jesus did the work, we submit to His death and resurrection as He did...even death on a cross.

God desires our submission to Him as He has overcome the world. Our efforts are futile. Our faith in Him produces results, just ask the woman who bled for years, or the man who died and was risen again, or the blind man, who can now see. God desires desperation and submission, not our feeble attempts to save ourselves.

Photo credit to: My good friend, Patrick Richardson- Januarybegan.com


Thanks for reading...Z

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Redemption Under A Rock

I wrote it down. I wrote everything down in those notebooks. I wrote about the anger and the hate, the rage and defeat. I wrote about being hopeless and helpless. I wrote about death and life. I wrote about me against the world.

I set it all on fire and danced as it burned when I encountered Christ on my road to death.

Sometimes I wish I hadn't burned that stuff. Maybe it was just another hasty decision made by a very unpredictable person. But I doused them in gasoline, along with everything I had ever written and flicked a match on top and watched all my sorrows burn. It was beautiful in the moment. It was beautiful to watch your past go up in flames in the face of this new and beautiful future. I had never had a future in my mind. In my mind, things always ended in me taking my own life. For the first time, I saw something out there on the horizon. It took me seconds to make the decision to burn those feelings. I hated them so much.

I wish I hadn't. A true record keeper keeps the bad records too. The bad ones remind us of how far we have come. I have but one notebook left from that time. I could not burn it. I could not deny that night. It was the only notebook I left from the fire. I lost all the rest.

It isn't about holding on to the past. It is more about the reminder of the miracle of God and His personal touch in your life. This last notebook held my final letter to my brothers written over a previous post. I was so drunk, I didn't notice there were already words written there. It is barely legible, but I can make out it's point.

The point was goodbye. The point was that I still believed there was gold in the world, but grew weary of trying to find it. I had failed, not the world.

I tremble writing about it as I tremble thinking about it...the tracks vibrating beneath my head...the cold breeze blowing over my cigarette, almost putting it out. The night sky was brilliant this night, with it's colors and light beams. It was cold and lonely outside. I wept like a child lost from his mother. I wanted out so bad.

Wanting out is our way of excepting anything real. It is the bottom that some people need to take hold of what is really the truth. Even when God saved me, I still held close to my contempt for Him and my doubt that His hands were anywhere near me. I could not hold on any longer and I tried again. This time in a more uncertain manner...the blade. I could not even hold it to my wrist as I trembled, so I dropped it a few times. I shouted at God or the devil or whoever was messing with me and grabbed it again. I was certain this time and held the blade furiously. I took a deep breath and thought of my brothers, Andy, Will, and Joe, and then prayed for real. I had never really talked to God frankly. I had only gone through the motions with the "Dear Heavenly Fathers" and stuff. This time, He answered in a voice that does not reach my ears, but pierces my heart. A voice I cannot explain or prove. A voice you will probably not believe in. I dropped the blade again..this time for good. I reached the floor and prayed. I wanted to hear more. I laid there alone for days weeping the hardness from my heart. Weeping away all of the pain. I was healed. I don't even care if you believe me about God. What I care about is that you seek out your own experience with Him. Ask. Knock.

Photo credit to: http://drpip.deviantart.com


Thanks for reading...Z

Sunday, September 18, 2011


What does a real human being look like? Life is made out to be a quest to at least appear to be subhuman. To be great beyond anyone's normal expectations. To be something the world has never seen before.

What a profoundly ignorant lie. What a seduction to believe we can be something that has never been, when all we are is a repeat of what has been over and over. I know it sounds harsh and rubs some people the wrong way, but it IS the truth. We are no different from those that built the same fires before us. We build with matches, they built with friction. The end is still fire. Every hair on our heads are counted, but so were theirs and I bet there are many with the same number as ours. But we are far from cookie cut.

We are originals. God does not make subdivisions. We do that because it is easy and profitable. He makes completely different models with similar characteristics...qualities that resemble Himself. God's signature on us to show others that we belong to him. Just like we hope that our kids look like us. God wants us to look like Him.

You may never experience a truly unique existence, but you will experience it in a unique way. Because God is that big and is infinitely creative. We are individuals despite our resemblance to those before us. We are unique in that no one person has lived in this time period in this skin with this list of experiences. We are the first to ever exist like us.

I like to play strange games to feel important, such as: Who was the first to ever fart into and armpit? Myself and Dan. Who was the first to burp directly onto someones teeth? Also Myself and Dan. It is sick and gross, but funny. Really fun to think that maybe no one has ever done this in the history of the world. Try it. Come up with something truly original. Post it here. I want to know about it.


Thanks for reading...Z

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Mouth

Who wants to be the center of attention? I raise my hand. I always raise my hand at that question. I don't even know why and that is sad to me. Do I want attention? I don't think so, but maybe. Do I want to be the fall guy or the victor? I don't think so, they both make me cringe, but my hand rises above my head anyways and that will be that. The teacher, or boss,  or whoever will call on me anyways because they have seen enough of me to know I have no problem speaking in public.

I get mocked a lot and that's fine with me. I am funny, but much funnier as a caricature of guy that has no value in social mores or norms...just says whatever.

The truth is, I don't say just whatever. I say what I feel at the time as long as I don't see any negative harm coming from it. If I feel something is really messed up, I will tell you as long as I don't get the feeling that the truth will drive you further from the truth.

When you do things this way, there will be mistakes. I have learned through the years, some things to watch for. I will share them with you.

1. Most of the harshest and most honest people are the most sensitive and unable to take correction.
2. People who may be otherwise able to hear the truth, may be sensitive to a few different topics and will let you know when you have infringed on their ability to maintain peace with themselves. Even if it is the truth.
3. Many Christians do not like to question their own faith and get offended easily when you do. They may feel for whatever reason that you are questioning theirs.
4. You may be right, but you may make yourself wrong in how you say things.
5. The truth is, and was never about you finding it. It has always been about your being exposed and enlightened to it by God. Others may not yet have been enlightened yet, and to them we show grace.

Communication in the age of information is everything. People have digital courage on the computer and may not say the same things face to face. I think we should say all things as if we were face to face with our Creator standing right at our sides. If we think this way, we may not make so many errors in transmission of the facts of God and life, and the way it pertains to our existence.

It's Ok to be a mouth as long as it is the mouth of God. A mouth that shares the things of God and His Word. Anything else was found at the Tower of Babel.

Photo credit to: http://empressdementia.deviantart.com


Thanks for reading...Z

Monday, September 12, 2011


There was one color. White. Snow was everywhere and we had the day off from school. We went to the park in front of Will's house. It wasn't really a park, but a lot of grass that had led a driver years prior to slam into his living room with his car in the middle of the night. It was a great day to play in the snow, even for a sophomore in high school that really wished he could be a kid again.

We called our creation p#nis de milo. It was an 8 foot statue of Frosty with a 3 foot ***censored***.  We may never have cared about it or what happened to our 6 hour creation, but we cared about creating something. I think that is what I miss the most about my brother, besides his hearty laugh, I miss his passion to create. Especially create with me. We invented toilet paper rockets and songs and tools, and so many phrases. At least once a week, I repeat one of them and explain it's meaning to my wife.

So much went wrong so fast. Never has anyone been hit so hard while carrying such a fragile heart. It really was the perfect storm. I was thinking about it today in church...people are terrible to each other. They really do not think of it's possible repercussions. Not that any one person caused Will to make this profoundly wrong choice, but many, including him made a series of destructive choices. People saw his innocence and gentle spirit as weakness, so they stomped him as much as they could to get where they wanted to go.  The problem is, they wanted hell instead of Heaven. They wanted the things this world offers instead of the truth. He wanted to be loved unconditionally.

Sometimes I hate living here...in this rotten world. Sometimes I love it, after witnessing a real transformation by God. Most days, as my friends know well, I love the beauty of God, but hate the evil more. This isn't right. This isn't what God meant when He offered "Life to the fullest." He offered much more, but we get caught trying to fix "Life to it's emptiest."

We can't fix anything. We are helpless. We are unable to change even one thing. It is God who does this work. God is the ONE that comes to save our dreadful existence.

Photo credit to: http://mj-gn.deviantart.com/


Thanks for reading...Z

Monday, September 5, 2011


Life is beautiful. Many times, we can't see that until it is in jeopardy. Things are designed. There are no chance occurrences. Life is mapped out. God knew us before we were. He knows and has counted every hair on our heads. Sometimes, it takes the most tribulating times and the most exhausting efforts to reveal itself. Life seldom comes to us. Life lays dormant, silently waiting for our grasp. Life will not force you to search for it, it waits for you to realize you need it. This is Christ. The Way, The Truth, and The Life. The passage to joy. The meticulously crafted and forged key that makes us kin to our Creator. Every moment is precious. Precious moments seem few to some. We have to open our eyes.

Standing in church this morning, watching the praise band play after my talk, I watched people's souls dance in unison with God's. I saw real people, worship a real God, in a very real way. I watched some of my students who have come from hell and were doubted to be anything, stand before God and sing and dance and let go of themselves for the joy of praising God. I looked at kids who no one would ever be able to envision as God lovers, close their eyes to the sway of joy and gratitude for the sacrifice of our God on the cross. I see lives changed forever. Proof of a very living and powerful God.

People without life hate those who have it. They do so because they don't understand it, not because they don't believe it exists. People reject the things they don't understand and yearn to find life on their terms. This is never going to happen. This is why I believe that no one ever can change apart from the strength, motivation, and spurning gotten from God alone. They aren't going to understand the change in your life because they don't want to. It is a scenario worse than anything they could imagine. The thought of trusting in something they cannot control. Some would much rather trust in something they can predict and fully understand. It's less scary, but it isn't life. It is death imitating life, to produce more death. And it is eternally sad that many will not choose life because of it.

Photo credit to: http://forfeit.deviantart.com/


Thanks for reading...Z

Saturday, September 3, 2011

In Pictures...In Words

People see things in either words or pictures. A story is told or read and they see the story in the words that are printed and take them for what they say they are...or they see them in whatever picture their minds compose to understand the background and situation.

What if I told you this story:
A kid walks into his attic and starts going through the treasures stored up there. He opens a small box and pulls out a piece of his dead grandmother's hairpiece that is lying on top of his own childhood baby teeth. He moves on to the small metal box that holds a piece of paper stamped State of Michigan. The paper is yellow, but you can tell it was white years ago. It tells this reader that this one guy is this kid's father due to probability in blood typing. He moves on to a gun. This gun is heavy to him. He is baffled by it's weight and strength. He has never seen a gun like this. Plastic guns are light and fun, and this one was heavy and menacing. He puts it to his eyes to look into the barrel. He looks out at the wall and points it to his gaze. He pulls the trigger and hears a click. He does it again and hears another click. This is where he let's his guard down and pulls it again with a weaker grip. The gun blasts off, sending his arms backwards and his heart racing. He puts the gun down and walks away from it shaking.

I see stories in pictures, which my test taking book says is a bad thing. When someone tells or writes me a story, I see the words manifest in the way I would picture them to have happened. The problem with this is it is easy to confuse your own pictures with the actual facts. I am told.

When I read the Bible, I am in the story...at least from a 4th dimension on-looking vantage point. I see things as they are happening, not as they happened. It helps me to identify with the point of the situations, but not the details, which is why you won't find me posting about deep theological arguments here. I get the point and the rest creates no pictures for me. There is a place for a person that sees things in words...the theologians...the philosophers, but their place is somewhere miles away from me. I love deep thinking. I love thinking about God and the deeper things about Him, but I hate arguing about it. When I see and hear people in even a healthy debate, I walk away. It just isn't my thing. I came to know Christ, not because of words, but because of pictures. Particularly a picture of a really hurting kid in love with his anger and rage, waiting for someone to give him an excuse to close his eyes. This kid saw God save his life and rip him from the hands of the devil and walk him hand-in-hand to His Father. I understood God due to pictures formed in my head that describes the indescribable qualities of our Creator.

It doesn't matter the way in which you think. It matters the point of the story.

Photo credit to: http://marielou-ann.deviantart.com


Thanks for reading...Z

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Old Apartment

It was the smallest apartment. It hadn't been updated in 30 years. It sat as the top floor of a 110 year old duplex. The carpeting was matted and had tracks that led to every room right through the middle. The bathroom was a pale, yellow floral wallpaper that I assume used to be beautiful in the morning when the sun shined through. The living room had a huge widow that overlooked the neighborhood, but it was covered by the overgrown branches of a tree planted 50 years ago by who I can imagine was some kid bringing home a small tree on earth day from school. It's kitchen window was it's window to the world. I used to stare blankly out that window just waiting for something to happen. Things rarely happened. One bedroom down the wall was my small tomb. During the night, I would put on Tupac albums and sometimes play track nine on repeat as a drank myself into oblivion shaking my fists to a cold and unforgiving world. "Life goes on!"I would shout as it flowed from his mouth. It didn't matter what had happened to me, or what was happening to me. This was my anthem. "Life goes on. F the world." This was a pendant on a necklace given to me by a friend I had. She knew I would like it when she got it for me. Everyone knew I was in trouble. Most sat by watching it, doing nothing...because they wanted to see what would happen next. Because I am and have always been unpredictable. But when they did see, most of them ran away. Jesus happened next. People don't have room for Jesus.

I drive by that upper flat twice a week at least, and every time I look at it, I peer into that only window to the world. Every time, I see my own face staring out of it. This was the home of my most beautiful and horrible memories. I realized the top and bottom of who I could be here. I saw both a glimpse of Heaven and Hell. I often think about me laying there on those tracks a mile away from this place. I think about being alone in that moment. The truth is, I didn't feel alone. I felt like I was weeping to someone unseen. I felt like I was giving up in the face of a victorious and vengeant God. I wept, all the while feeling the cold steel on the back of my neck. I cried so hard my guts felt like they were spilling out of my mouth. I wanted to live. I wanted so badly to feel something other than the sharp pains shooting through my head...and stomach. I wanted to believe in something that was true and honest and just. I was tired of being lied to and shown that God only loves you when you follow His rules. I never asked Him to intervene.

But He did. He intervened in a way that I could never deny or walk away from. God gave me something many do not get to see. God gave me a miracle. God let me see something miraculous to prove He was here. I am a blessed man. I get to live with the piece of mind that despite all the hatred and anger and pain in the world, I have actually seen a miracle. Some of you have too. Remember your miracle. Your miracle drives you through times of doubt.


Thanks for reading...Z