Thy Will Be Done

If you know me, I don’t think you would deny that I can be a bit of a “willful” person. I do not like being told what to do. And goodness do I have some fiery opinions. I will try to keep the “Christianese” to a minimum, but there are certain phrases that while foreign or uncomfortable that truly capture what I am about to write about. So as a disclaimer I won’t shy away from that language

To live an authentic “Christian-life” that is alive and contagious, you have to come to terms with surrendering your will to God. What makes a phrase like “surrendering your will to God” so lofty and confusing is because…. well honestly, how often is a statement like that unpacked. Goodness, I know I cannot unpack it in a single blog post. But you are here already so let me try the best I can.

God has a Will and desire for the world. Like all of creation. The pebbles, the oceans, the mountains, the little chipmunks, and humans (individually and collectively). Also, something weird… sometimes people capitalize the word “Will”. Like God’s Will just got done starring in the Fresh Prince of Bel-air. I tend to be one of those people. I like to look the English language in the face and blow a raspberry in its immediate direction.

Emily Dickinson understood the power of turning words like “Will” into pro-nouns. To me, God’s Will is alive. It has a personality, it has a direction, it knows love, it knows hurt and brokenness and it breathes out life into creation. What does God’s Will want? It wants all of the world to surrender its pride and its selfish desires. It wants every human to run, to sprint, to roll, to drive, to swim with tears streaming into the open arms of God. God’s Will wants humanity to be its truest and fullest self. And the matter of the fact is that God’s Will is not misguided like our own, like my own. It has a vision that can see a picture written throughout history and time that my mind could never comprehend.

So for argument’s sake lets play out this scenario: At some point in life you decided that you want your will to match God’s Will. You even went to the extent to ask God verbally or quietly to use you how ever God desires. This is not a far-fetched scenario. Most professing Christians or even former Christians have been led to prayer a prayer just like this. I have no idea how many pastors and leaders have been completely honest about what a surrendering of will to God’s Will means. So stick with me, I am about to piss some people off.

Submitting to God’s Will is the single most painful and dangerous and fear-ridden decision you will ever make.

But God, is it good.

When you surrender like that, the pain will be searing, Dear Jesus it will hurt. People will still try to abuse you, they will try to manipulate you, they will try to crush you. You will constantly be put in situations that scare you so deeply that you will feel so small, so vulnerable that you will not be sure if you can press on. Every single one of your fears will be brought to the surface. They will be laid out, they will be examined, they will be poked and they will rage. And you most likely fail and concede more times than you can count. And when you think you have no more to give, and think you just cannot do this anymore, God’s Will ask for just a little more.

That pain, though, it will change your heart. It will change how you see people it will change how you see the world. It will strengthen you to climb heights that you thought were insurmountable your entire life. It will fill you with a fierce fire and a power that no human, no circumstance, no loss and no struggle can quiet.

And every dangerous situation God’s Will brings you into will make you more alive than you ever thought you could be. Life will taste sweeter than you ever believed it would. Relationships will be truer and greater than the world is prepared for.

Every time you have recoiled in fear will be brought forth. You won’t just survive your fears. By God’s Will and strength you will thrive midst fears you never thought you could endure. Thrive. Your fears will rise up and love will smash them down.

God’s Will has dominion. And God will not stop until your fears, your iniquities, your hurts, and your pain all submit to God’s Will. God will ask more of you than you think you can handle. But God’s Will knows you more intimately than you will ever know yourself. God will ask you to bend, but will never break you.

Submitting or surrendering to God’s Will is not a one time thing. Maybe you are willful like me and your plans are found in imperfect thoughts. And you will tell God “no”, but I hate to tell you, it probably won’t go down with God saying “aight, you do you”. I cannot tell you how many declarations I have made about what I won’t do and how every single time God has blown a raspberry in my immediate direction.

So you know I have lived out what I am talking about and am still living it out here are two examples of how God has dealt with my stubbornness.

At some point in college I said verbally, well more than a few times that I will move WHEREVER God leads me, but I WILL NOT live in Texas. Lol. Before y’all get upset. I’m not just some Texas hater. I didn’t even really have bad feelings towards TX, it just was not something I would consider….

So… in 2014 God put me in a car and sent me to my first vocational ministry position. In Texas. Goodness were those years difficult. They also changed me at my core. I do not live in Texas any more but I love the people there and that state like I never thought I could. My time in Texas taught me more about who I am in God’s eyes than maybe any other season in my life.

My second example. I have had this friend named Allison for nearly 16 years now. It was one of those frustrating situations you see where everyone wanted to tell us what we should be. I promise you. Her and I both on many occasions growing up said. I will never date him/her. Side note she is just as willful as me if not more. I believe her when she says she won’t do something.

Would you believe what God’s Will did. October 21st, 2017. I married Allison on a magnificent Fall day in Southern New Jersey. And on that day a mass of people saw that God’s Will will do what it wills. I am married now to the most amazing woman, I could not imagine a life without her by my side.

I just need you to know that it is all worth it. The pain, the disappointment, the anger, the abuse, the failures. In this world these things will persist. But God’s Will is a fierce and unstoppable force that will conquer every last ounce of influence that does not make you your fullest self.

God will ask for more when you think you have no more to give. And if you do not have more to give.

God will supply it.

I wrote a poem earlier, it isn’t great, but also I have not written a poem in years it feels like, so I figured I would share it. Just remember, it all doesn’t just “get better”. Christ makes your reality unimaginably good. So good, the thought of it is making me shudder in my seat. That goodness, that all-encompassing passionate love that your heart craves so desperately. That is what waits in God’s Will.

Much Love

BGTF

Here is that poem:

I never knew about

The devilish Mischief

I would endure

when you asked and

I begged yes

Ten years ago

I never knew

My fears would

Be examined

Be extracted

My whole self

Put under a microscope,

My chest peeled back

My heart pounding

Open for surgery

With my eyes

Wide-open

Just when I believe

I can take no more

You see it fit

To dig a little

Deeper; You prod

Harder

Some how your hand gets swifter

Your incisions more precise

Through tears

The scar tissue

The bloody mess

I cannot take more

And still you press

More

I offered myself

Over to You

So long ago

When I said, yes

I didnt realize

I could no longer say no

That you wouldnt

Stop chasing

When I run

That when my word

Was bond

Your promises

Could come alive

Still my fear rages on

And your answer:

“Just a little more”

Your will be done

You will press harder still

My will is surrendered

My will be yours

I will endure

 

Can we DTR?

Oh hey, DTR means “define the relationship” in case you did not know.

I never actually know who reads these things I write. When I freelance or ghost-write, I don’t think on too much about my ongoing relationship with those readers. It is primarily a one and done experience. But, with all of you beautiful people, I want to know you. I mean come on, when I actually am on here I tend to pour myself out a bit too much. So it shouldn’t be asking too much that we become best friends, right?

Well, okay maybe we do not have to be best friends, but I want my writing to be a lot more than a stop-off once every couple of months. The truth, though, is that this responsibility rests on me. Consistency and communication are the keys to any relationship flourishing, but here we stand at the brink of a fallout because I have been holding my words within. Will you forgive me? Will you give me a another chance? Because I think God might want to do something pretty cool through our relationship, even if it is just you reading what I am sending out into the internet. I want you to know that I think you are super special and are full to the brim with amazing gifts and talents that can change the world. And if the world is too big, know that you have every bit of potential in you to change someone’s world. Just know that my distance hasn’t been because anything you have done; that is all on me. You may not believe me, but this whole being human gets the best of me some days. Well, most days.

I’ll take your continued silent reading as confirmation that you forgave me and we can dive right in.

Let’s talk about accountability today. Yikes, a word that no one seems to want to utter into the vast emptiness of shame and guilt. Take a moment to think about how prevalent the idea of “you do you, I do me” is throughout our culture. Forget our culture, think about it in your own life. Tell me right now that you never wished some one (your parents probably) would back off and let you do things your way. I highly doubt you can tell me that you have never felt that way, even if you didn’t ask the other person to back off.

I am just going to come out and say that every person, every Christian I know struggles to have a healthy relationship with the concept of accountability. And therein struggles to have healthy intimate relationships with humans and with God. I have seen it in ministry, in family, in friendships. A hesitancy to fully engage with accountability because at the core they do not want to be seen as judgemental or even deeper they do not want to be held accountable themselves.

Let’s take a step back and define accountability so that we are all on the same page. What I mean by accountability is the active commitment to hold other people to a standard of living. The tricky part is that true accountability is rooted in mutual commitment between both parties. It is rooted in community. It is messy and sticky. It requires mutual vulnerability and intimacy. True accountability is supposed to exist in every single genuine relationship between individuals, but true accountability should also exist in between communities of people. We are dancing on the edge of something called the “Beloved Community” and how I perceive true social justice, but let’s pull in our focus this time around and just talk about accountability within individual relationships and with God.

I would bet money that you are incredibly ready to be there to support a friend or loved one. But I wonder how ready you are to embrace and receive the same type of presence you are offering? The clarification that needs to be stated is that accountability is NOT just asking questions and listening. Remember, I said it is active. That means accountability exists on the basis that we are able to actively speak into others’ lives and receive the voices of others.

Can accountability be misused and abused? Of course. It has throughout history. But the other end of the spectrum of avoiding accountability all together is nothing more than selfish self-preservation.

A few things that I want to point out:

Our choice to keep others accountable, but not to embrace returned accountability is self-seeking and hollow. You are better to not offer accountability at all. Mutual submission to vulnerability and honesty is how intimacy and growth flourishes.

The point of accountability is not to squeeze people into an image you have created for them. The point is not to make someone feel bad about their actions or lack there of. The point is to love someone so deeply that you refuse to let them settle for anything less than the God-given potential residing in them.

To the same point, you receiving accountability is not about you being corrected or shamed. Shut those hang ups down. Allow yourself to be held accountable so that you can thrive and become the world-changer God has made you to be. It is about you growing into the beautiful and mature creation you are meant to be.

Accountability isn’t meant to be offered or asked for flippantly. It is time-consuming and energy-consuming. Most people only ever offer and receive it from their spouse. Which is something, but our lives are meant to be roots spreading into the world. Like dominos, affect one person next to you and watch the world shift all around.

Be all in. In your relationships. In your love for yourself. You are meant for so much more than you might have convinced yourself. I can see in you the Image of God. That is no small thing. That is everything. Allow yourself to be helped. You might think you are protecting yourself, but you are hurting yourself and those you love.

Remember, true accountability exists midst intimate and intentional community. It is necessary, there is no convincing me otherwise. If you are having trouble finding intimate and intentional community to grow within, write me. Lets talk.

And in true form of accountability. I ask that you all engage with me and keep me accountable. My job is to write and sustain our relationship. Do not hesitate to let me know that I am slacking. I love you too much to continue down that road.

Much Love

BGTF

 

 

Running

I’ve been running for a really long time. Almost four years it seems. I know, running is a silly word choice for someone who uses a motorized scooter. But we can run too! I am not even sure if this post will make it onto the internet. Here I am, though, typing anyway and seeing what comes of it.

No tea, no writing music, I’m in bed and not in a creative space. I am just tired of excuses. My thoughts were cluttered and super difficult to pin down so I decided to de-clutter my physical room as a symbolic exercise to declutter my mind. I know, super New-Age. But it seems to have worked.

So much has happened in the last 12 months. I started my first serious dating relationship. I quit seminary. I started working as a researcher for disability rights. I went back to counseling. I made a commitment to be all in on writing and speaking. I created and launched a Non-profit Disability Ministry. I began speaking at conferences and events about disability and inclusion. I started making videos. I found a home church. I met my biggest fear face to face and broke my ankle. I went to rehab. I moved back to New Jersey. I fought hard for four months to recover and get back to Nashville. I clawed my way, with help, out of the darkest pit of my life. I fell deeply in love with my partner, and someday wife. I moved back to Nashville. I launched my first video to get a decent amount of views (12k). And now here I am in mid-November hesitating where to motivate my legs to take me next.

While I have seen so much progression in my own life over the last year I am also painfully aware of the intense division that has consumed what seems like everyone in our country. But I don’t believe for a second that 2016 created all this discord and division. I believe whole heartedly it gave a voice to what was already lurking quietly in the background of our hearts. It was already there, now it has been clearly uncovered.

Maybe this is why I have been so afraid to post and write words for others to read. I DO NOT want to be another voice adding to the calamity and corresponding grace-less, unloving, polarized bickering that is controlling our hearts. Call it what you want. The truth is that our country is not one built on Jesus. It is built on the self-consumed, self-loving, self-seeking, self-indulging, self-proclaiming, self-preserving, self-deluded, selfish wants of our selves. Not one of us is free from that truth.

Harsh. Ouch.

And if you read what I just wrote and say to yourself “that’s so right! If only those (liberals/conservatives) saw how selfish they were!”

Then you literally missed the point of what I just wrote. I have never ever written a blog that pointed any direction but towards myself. I hope you can read these words in your own voice and take a beat from your overwhelmed emotions to consider this.

There will be no unity when the self is lifted above others. If we claim that it is not “the self” we advocate for, but those who look and sound and share views like us. I promise there is no difference to be had.

And the reason I have not written in four years with the conviction and depth and power that has always been in me is because I myself am self-seeking. self-preserving and selfish.

I am the man who took his talents and buried them away. Because surely, if I cannot lose any of what I have then I can keep it unharmed, unbroken and what I consider whole. I can show my Master that I have protected his gift from seeing the light of day. There is no weathering to be found. It has not been stolen or abused. It is the same as the day that He LENT it to me.

I cannot speak this next part to those who have not vocalized that they are a member of the Body of Christ. But I will write it so everyone can read it.

Our job. As the Bride of Christ. HAS NEVER been to use what has been given us for our own protection, preservation or provision. Those things. Those are God’s. Your job, our job is to be all in with every gift we have to offer.

We no longer bring our offerings to the altar to be burned before God. We take our offerings, our gifts, our talents and we hand them out freely to the Other. We share. No matter how much we are afraid it will hurt. We take scars and bruises along the way. And we give out what we have BEEN GIVEN freely.

Then we stand next to those we have shared our hearts with, we put our arms around them and we point to the Heavens and explain. “This is the God who gives and takes away. This is the Lord who so freely gives in abundance that we need not want, instead we are spurred on to give.”

We no longer burn offerings. No. We are the gifts God has poured out in abundance.

Turn your eyes, Oh Child of God, turn your eyes outward. Look at those who are not you. Those who are calling out in fear and in pain. Look to your hands. Look at your feet. Why are you not already running to those who are not you. Why are you not bringing them God’s gifts. The Spirit’s Gifts of love, patience, kindness, self-control, forgiveness and so on?

Will you stand in the gap? Will you show those in the world that there is a love greater than the self can ever muster? Run to them Dear Ones.

Much Love

BGTF

Messy Second Chances

Before you start reading this post I would encourage you to watch the video above and then when you are done watch the video at the bottom of the post. It is not often that I include media into my posts. But I believe both of these songs have dictated what I am about to write about.

I want to talk about abandonment, fear, brokenness, grace and Jesus. Just so you are prepared for what I am about to get into here.

I was reading John chapter 11 this morning. Perhaps you know the chapter. It is the very famous passage where the author writes the words “Jesus wept.” Let me paint the picture. It has come to Jesus’ attention that his friend Lazarus has fallen very ill and may be nearing death. Jesus is unmoved by this and declares that this situation will not end in death.

Fast forward a couple of days and Jesus arrives to Lazarus’ home where his two sisters are mourning (Martha and Mary) Martha runs out to him. Mary does not.

This is what I want to look at, I have heard many sermons on this passage, but nothing like I experienced this morning.

Has someone ever hurt you before? Someone that you trusted and believed in? And after that hurt you found it incredibly difficult to face them? Maybe not because you are angry, but deep down you are terrified that they no longer love you? That they have abandoned you? That your trust was misplaced from the very beginning? You are terrified to face them because you are terrified that everything come out as false.

That is what abandonment does.

What does Jesus do? He calls Mary’s name.

Mary in turn runs out to him and falls at his feet weeping. The first words that come out of her mouth are drenched in salty wet confusion and brokenness. “Lord, if you had been here my brother would still be alive!” (Why didn’t you come, why weren’t you here, I thought you loved me, why did you forget about us, why God, why GOD, WHY GOD?)

Just then, Jesus is deeply moved in spirit as the author tells us. A verse later we get the “Jesus wept.” line.

Of course he wept. Yes he was saddened by his friend’s death, yes it showed us human emotion. But this ENTIRE scene in scripture paints a more beautiful picture of our human relationships with God than I could ever put in ink. It keeps just BLOWING my mind.

Jesus is heart broken, God is heart broken, that his children think he has abandoned them. He knew before Lazarus died that He would be glorified, but that doesn’t change how unbelievably messy and broken the situation, neither does it change how he takes complete brokenness swirling into chaos and spin it all on its head. He mixes the colors of tears and fear and paints a brand new picture.

He brings Lazarus back to life. There has never been a sunrise so awe-inspiring.

That is what it means that God takes brokenness aside and makes it beautiful. I am getting chills as I write this.

Jesus did not need to prove to any one there that he had not abandoned them. He is God, why should he have to remind us that we are loved and fully known? He did not need to call out to Mary in her desperation and pain.

What does he do instead? He first calls to Mary, he has not forgotten her. Then he listens to her, he hears her pain. Then he asks his Father to bring Lazarus out from death.

He stomps down so hard on the lies of abandonment and of a God that does not love us completely and fully. The lie about of a God who does not care. The lie about a God who does not forgive. Jesus stamps them out and changes every human life in the process.

Maybe I am insane, but I cannot express fully the beauty I am seeing in this chapter. I have never seen it like this before. Jesus wept. For us.

Like a parent who is truly devastated that a child has been hiding in shame and fear because they are afraid that his or her parents will never look at them with love again.

Like Adam and Eve hiding from a God so powerful, how could He ever love a mess so corrupted?

Yet still. He takes brokenness aside and makes it beautiful. Yet He is the God of second and third and infinite chances. Grace has no bounds. That is reality.

So I ask that if you struggle with any of these lies, look to Jesus, look to the cross, look at how God’s heart breaks to know we are afraid of him, that we are terrified that He will not take us back.

Jesus, that is what Unconditional Love is. Turn to Him and watch the master piece He paints on your heart.

He is calling out to you, He is waiting for you to run out to him, to fall at his feet and plead with him. He is waiting for you to be exactly who He made you to be. He is waiting for you to bring your ball of mess out to Him so he can make it beautiful.

Much Love

BGTF

30 Days of Writing: Day Twelve

Day 12.

I was not able to post anything to the blog yesterday because my internet decided to take a vacation day. Well it is working now. So I guess I have to proceed.

Not posting one day and today I am fighting myself to get back on my laptop and type. It seems too true that when you mess up on something it becomes easier to do it a second time. It was so much easier to come up with excuses of why not to write today since I didn’t get to post yesterday.

So I think today we will have to focus on commitment and perseverance.

One of my favorite things to say is that the best things in life are never easy. The work involved is part of what makes the best things so great. The reward of persevering is pretty fantastic on its own. But there is always something coming up against our ability to push through or overcome.

I think we can attribute a lot to our inability to persevere, but one of the most universal factors is fear. Now what we fear, though, is pretty much subject to our individual struggles and experiences.

Maybe you fear rejection, failure, success, vulnerability or something else that only you can put your finger on. These fears I have found tend to be the complete opposite of what brings us joy in life.

Think about what you fear, then think about the opposite, is your fear taking away something you value?

Do you love people but are terrified of rejection?

DO you desperately want to be known, but are terrified of trust?

Do you LOVE writing but are afraid of failure, rejection and even success?

What fears are holding you back from what you love?

These fears are lies. They are stumbling blocks that seem insurmountable, but that is not true. Both you and I know that is not true. We know that is true because if you take the time to look at your past you will see moments where you were faced with fears but acted nonetheless. And you prevailed.

Fear is a lie from Satan. Whether you are Christian or not and reading this blog. Know this. There is no fear in perfect love. If you love something in a pure manner. Fear is just sneaking in to rip that love away.

God loves us completely. Fear will try to rip that away. Fear is a lie. Do not let it stop you from persevering. Let what you love overwhelm your fear!

Much Love

BGTF

30 Days of Writing: Day 7

Day 7.

So  I missed writing yesterday so I am going to put up two posts today. I didn’t mean to miss yesterday. I have a load of excuses, but I will keep them to myself. I made a commitment to writing something shippable every single day for 30 days. So excuse or not I broke that commitment.

Isn’t that the human way, though? To make promises and then break those same promises. Some people pride themselves in their ability to keep a promise. I find that even those people have broken a promise before, no matter how small it was.

So my question is how do we deal with broken promises. How about a promise to go out with a friend? That friend forgets and you are left hanging with your night wasted… How do you react? Assuming the friend is extremely apologetic and tries to make it up, how do you proceed? Do you forgive them and move forward like nothing happened?

What about if your spouse is unfaithful. This can happen in so many ways. Sad as it sounds, unfaithfulness happens. Another broken promise. So how do you react to that? Sounds a lot less forgivable right?

What is it about promises that make our hearts skip a beat?

My theory: A promise means trust. It is a definitive way to see if someone is trustworthy or not.

We do not give out trust out easily. It may be more precious than gold. It is to me at least. I do not have a straight forward direction I am headed with this blog, but I promised to write you something. So I am going to keep that promise and ask you a bunch of questions.

Do you keep your promises?

Think about a time you broke a promise.

Think about a time a promise to you was broken.

How do these make you feel. How did you navigate the healing after?

When a promise has been kept to you how has that made you feel?

Think about these things and about trust in your life. Then rest assured that God is the ultimate promise keeper. He is forever faithful. Does He deserve your trust?

Much Love

BGTF