Rest is Not What You Think It is

For millenials we are beginning to taste what it means to actually be tired. It’s not like in high school when we had all the free time in the world with exception of a few homework assignments and getting to school by 8:00 AM near every day.

Transition a few years and we face the prospect of completing ten page papers and overcoming, and hopefully ace, our slew of midterms. Pair that with organizational obligations and an attempt to have a thriving social life and we find we face a formidable opponent.

The state of being tired as a result of a lack of sleep and/or overexertion of personal self becomes a painful reality to take in. At the end of the week, perhaps even day, we are left tired, broken, and deprived of a joy we know we ought to have, but don’t currently possess.

We try what we can to defeat this Goliath we find standing before us; the ability to manage time, get the proper amount of sleep, and finding a couple of devoted friends to stand by us become crucial and sought after.

These solutions seem to remedy our state of being tired, but sometimes it’s not enough. What, actually, is rest?

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

-Matthew 11:28

Real rest, rest in God, is active. This is paradoxical to our millenial minds because rest is connoted to be anything, but active. We are tempted to think that video games, Netflix, and simply relaxing are going to be our long term solution to our heavy state of being tired. These activities or states of being are not inherently detrimental or sinful; rather, they are a mere shortcoming of what real rest actually is.

The language in Matthew is an action verb, “come“; it denotes that we are to come Jesus with our burdens and, in turn, receive rest from the King himself. What does coming to Jesus look like?

In order to find rest for our troubled souls, and ultimately peace, we worship our Maker. We must declare his character, his goodness, and his sovereignty. Alas, this is a troubled world we live in full of suffering, shortcoming, and pain. However, when we take our eyes off ourselves and towards the Maker and Creator of heaven and earth, we are reminded that our troubles are remedied by a King concerned for his children and, ultimately, that our problems prove to be trivial for a God who holds the world in his hands.

Rest is actively coming to Christ, laying our burdens, and declaring his sovereignty over our lives. His righteousness, goodness, and loveliness are far too sweet to trade for the bitter tastes of attempting to simply withstand suffering and pain.

 

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Hold Steadfast to Your Dreams

The idea of success has become highly subjective, difficult to navigate, and even more arduous to accomplish. Everyone wants it, desires it, and envies it when others achieve it. What is success?

We, as millennials, think success is a lot of things. We think it is anything, but the 9am-5pm routine; likewise, we hope success is found in work that brings personal, existential meaning. Companies know this and are scrambling for millenials to come join their companies while promoting excellent work culture, meaningful work, and the benefits to top it all off.

We see our parents and the feeble tower of Babels they’ve built with their few, but valuable possessions and scoff in pride. We can build something greater; we’d gladly forgo the idea of having possessions in exchange to live a wild life all our friends would be envious of as they watch our lives behind a 4.5 inch mobile screen.

It’s often difficult for millennials to define what success explicitly means. For many of us, life goals and vigorous ambitions often change on a yearly, if not on a monthly or daily basis. What is the calling of our lives? What ought we do with our years left on this Earth?

The idea of a life calling is so sexy; it brings security, assurance, and seems to exhibit a maturity above the rest of our peers.

I do not know what it means to be successful on a grand scale. I have not created a successfully funded startup worth the upper millions and I have not gone IPO; I’m still a broke college student.

I have this hunch, however, that success, whatever it may be, is bred out of diligence, consistency, and faithfulness.

“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight”

-Philippians 1:9

The context of this verse is Paul sending a letter to Philippians; his call to action is for them to grow in love [for God and others] and do it with all their hearts. Likewise, the duality of his prayer also states that the love [for God and others] would be contained within knowledge and depth of insight. These two words denoted wisdom, diligence, and consistency.

A wild, out of control love can only do so much. It might inspire others, but if love is not bound by self-control and guided by faithfulness, it will quickly die out.

Statistically many of us will live for another fifty to seventy years and that simply means that we have a ways to go in living the rest of our life. Sure, we might have great initiatives or endeavors, but if they are not matched with a likewise persistence, they will quickly fade away.

Millenials are known for being fleeting, but we are also on the cutting edge of innovation and continually break ground in discoveries and new ideas. We have the means to be successful; if we added the ability to be diligent and faithful we might actually find what we are looking for.

I’m Playing With House Money

The idea of being universally liked by many has become a pandemic for many young people. We, as millenials, often feel feelings of dissatisfaction and discontentment because there’s still “something” out there that we have yet to explore.

If I am honest I have lived much of my life to be liked. I correlated my identity with how much I could do for the world and be recognized for it. My happiness was premised off how others would perceive me and ultimately my life goals, though spiritual and uplifting in nature, were dedicated in getting people to like me for the things I did for them. Life was a journey of piling up godly goals, spiritual endeavors, and church reformation frenzies.

I used to wholeheartedly believe that, in order to be the hands of feet of God as well as be surrendered and obedient as a Christian, I was to be the very work of God in other peoples lives. This, brethren, is exhausting.

“For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

-Matthew 11:30

A yoke is worn by farm animals working the plow and is known to be a heavy piece of wood. Yet Jesus utilizes this example of how we can find rest and peace in him when we set ourselves to learn from and submit ourselves to his teaching.

A yoke does not sound pleasant, nor does it sound easy to pull. But it is, and it should be. The paradox implies that we are to choose to hold ourselves to the straight and narrow path that often restricts us from many other things. In that, however, doing the work of God is not a burden nor should it feel like it. Why? God does the work and we simply walk it out. The work on calvary was done and finished and Christ simply asks those who would answer the call of salvation to come and follow him. As we follow him, the kingdom of God will continue to come find its way on an Earth so needing the redemption of our King Jesus.

God has made a way and it is finished; I live my life in light of the reality that God has accomplished all that has needed to be accomplished. I come in as a sinner made whole and a beneficiary of the goodness of God.

In light of all this, doing the will of God and setting ourselves to his teachings are things we don’t have to strive or work for. Salvation is gladly given and the gifts of the Good Father are freely given to those that would believe; this is paramount for us, as Christians, to understand and live by.

I Must Decrease

“He must become greater; I must become less.”

John 3:30

I look at this verse and am taken into different thought processes. On one hand I perceive this verse to be a call to humility in addition to a call to decrease my pride so that Christ would be fully exalted in my life. This in it of itself is difficult as I seek to fulfill my own selfish desires and weigh them with the things of God that I might become more righteous and holy, pleasing to my God’s eyes.

Inherently I am a prideful and self-seeking man drawn to himself by his own means; yet I have encountered a God so kind and benevolent that he would pay the ultimate sacrifice so that I might come to know his perfect nature. Nonetheless, his direction must become greater in my life to the point where I take my hands off my own life and aim to trust God fully.

On the other hand I see this verse as a prayer-a desperate prayer. As a millenial I find myself in a myriad of situations on a daily basis; I find myself staring directly at opportunities to sin, digress, and backslide. As I wish this was an exaggeration, I find that the reality of sin and the dark and perilous road it leads to is a stark one.

The path of righteousness is a straight and narrow one; it is not easy to follow for if keeping on the straight and narrow path was easy everyone would be doing it. The desperate prayer inferred upon is this: God I cannot bear to navigate the path that is in front of me for my own sin and depravity would lead me instantly astray.

The moment I wake up tomorrow morning my own sin might overtake me. God your sovereignty has made a way into my life and I now belong to you. This selfish inner man has only led me away from the path I ought to stay on; Lord Jesus would you become greater in me and increase my desire to follow you so that I might stay steady on this path of righteousness that you have so gifted me with privilege to follow?

A bit of a somber blog post this afternoon, but I find that the hope found in these feeble prayers lead to a comfort and perfect peace in a Savior that has promised redemption for those that might their trust in him.

Don’t Be A Follower, Be a Disciple

It would be fair to say that everyone wants something in this life. Inherently we are born with a few existential ambitions; amongst these are the desire to be known and to know others intimately. As life progresses we are conditioned to begin to seek material possessions, a marital spouse, and fame. The idea of viral fame, spontaneous, longevous relationships, and glamorous possessions have become increasingly popular since the rise of social media.

These ravenous desires we are born with and eventually develop often turn us into consumers. We consume relationship after relationship in order to find the perfect balance of being known while also fulfilling our duty to know others. As millenials, we consume adventure after adventure seeking to satiate a social quota that could never be filled.

Inevitably, our journey in becoming consumers ultimately leads us to become followers. We begin to lose the ability to think for ourselves as well as the ability to siphon the bits and pieces of knowledge that get thrown our way. As long as our needs are met the rest of the details seem to get lost in obscurity.

This same sentiment of consumerism and becoming followers has worked its way into our churches and religious institutions.

As long as the worship and message are good we become less concerned with everything else. What is everything else? It’s the stuff that really matters. The lost, the marginalized, and the broken. The reality residing outside of the church walls were the original reason why the church was established in the first place.

I am constantly inundated with my own needs, desires, and dreams. I wake up some days realizing how selfish and self-focused I can be. Then I realize Jesus came, showed me he bought my life with a price, and I was changed for all of eternity. His blood, his sacrifice, and endless commitment showed me that Jesus was worth following.

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age”

-Matthew 28:19-20

This language Jesus uses in this verse could not be any more clear. Jesus didn’t take on human form and pay his life as a sacrifice so that we could find a good message and group of people to worship with. Jesus did not live the radical life he did in order to gather followers. Jesus desired disciples: people that would obey the Word of God and produce lasting fruit in others.

Jesus required that we would pick up our crosses and follow him, yes absolutely. A certain humility to follow and submit our own desires for the sake of the Gospel is necessary in being a disciple of Jesus. A disciple is an active state of being. It is not mindless, far from it, and requires that we daily choose to lay ourselves down so that we can be whole heartedly obedient and surrendered to the workings of the Cross.

Our religious checklist may be fulfilled on a daily basis; in fact our bible readings, worship times, and fellowship may be brilliant. However, if our discipleship, as a result of the workings of God, is not fruitful nor active, we can remember that discipleship was Christ’s last longing for the people of God to fulfill.

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”

-Philippians 1:21

The meaning of this verse can be interpreted in so many ways. I choose to focus on this lasting, eternal sentiment: we are torn in two very different directions in regards to where our souls actually reside and where our souls belong.

Right now, this blog is being written on Earth; likewise you are reading this on Earth probably on your mobile device or computer. At the same time, if you are a Christian, your soul is longing to be in Heaven with our Father in Eternity.

The “soul” is a tricky term define because it truly is so existential. The best connotation I can provide is that it is our “inner spirit”; it is our “inner man” not limited by the body and the one entity that gets to make the travel to eternity, whether that is heaven or hell.

I might go even further in my previous assertion and say that we ought to absolutely feel this dualistic pull between heaven and hell. Our souls ought to long to be with the One that created us because heaven is where we belong; heaven is the location of perfection, the absence of suffering, and ultimate redemption of sin. It’s the place where unadulterated worship takes place as we reside in perfect love and peace.

In that same vein, we absolutely must choose and long to be here on Earth as long as our bodies will allow. The idea of eternity becomes a painstakingly overarching and annoying reality if that is all we live for. The amount of suffering, imperfection, and destruction on this Earth is too much to bear for the human soul.

This world is an ugly place; it absolutely needs to be redeemed with all the death, violence, and bigotry currently circulating the globe. But because to live is Christ I will continue to press into the King who holds ultimate power, dominion, and control; I will choose to follow him, obey him, and surrender fully to what he might have me do.

Likewise, I will continue to long and live for eternity.

“maranâ thâ’ ” Come Lord Jesus

 

‘Til the Day I Die

There’s an old story that’s often told of the vikings of ancient history. Vikings were ancient warriors that were known for their grit, strategy, and savagery. It was common to see groups of vikings conquering land after land in the name of self-interest and domination.

In this journey of conquering, Vikings would take ships of men to conquer surrounding lands; much of Scandinavia was separated by bodies of water. It is believed that Vikings would carry a similar sentiment as they set out to conquer the prospective land in front of them.

This sentiment was fueled by the reality that resources were plateauing, winters were becoming more harsh, and birth rates were decreasing in a period of rampant sickness; how important it was to acquire new land and resources for their own sake and their families’ sake!

Vikings started to become known throughout Scandinavia as fearless warriors that would savagely take over land after land. Vikings also started to become known for the commitment to such effort seen in what they would do as they landed on the prospective real estate. These Vikings would burn the boats they arrived in because it would force them to conquer the land overwhelmingly or die trying.

Granted the modern circumstances characterized by medical advances, government regulation, and minimum wage prevent us from killing and conquering one another for the sake of land; however the sentiment to be taken away is this: life is only so long. We only have so long to do the things we love passionately and with excellence. Would the things you’re living for now be worth dying for?

I think of our millenial generation today and am saddened that we are characterized by so much half-heartedness, skittishness, and lack of commitment.

” Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”

-1 Corinthians 9:26-27

I’m constantly fighting two forces within my heart. I want to be everywhere, with everyone, and doing everything. I equally value and desire to be faithful in the few things so that I can be as excellent and high impact in those areas of my life. Are either bad? I think both have high value and different people need to take on those different paths. I think as millenials it would behoove us to heed Paul’s words and apply it to our lives. I don’t want to run aimlessly and ultimately lack self-discipline. I want to take full advantage and dominion over the resources in front of me and create self-discipline for myself so that I can maximize my capacity to be the hands and feet of Christ.

Christ has already chosen us as his beloved people; righteousness has been delivered and sin has been washed away. I don’t feel like I have to earn anything for my life is no longer my own, but I press forward because I have been bought with a price and am fearfully and wonderfully made I beat my body and make it my slave so that God can get the most glory and honor.

Would the things you’re living for now be worth dying for?

Who Am I to Love?

The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

-Mark 12:31

Across the board this idea of loving your neighbor is something widely accepted by nearly every religion, people group, and culture. This simple, yet intriguing idea must be pretty important for it to span across denominational borders and religious boundaries.

Loving somebody as you would yourself is a game changing idea; it is to say that I will take what resources, time, and energy I have and put it towards loving my neighbor as I would myself. It means encouraging my friends as I would myself. It means taking buddies out for food on my college budget because that’s the way I love to be loved. It also might mean listening to somebody rant about the smallest and most disengaging topics of conversation; this particular action of love is especially relevant to me as I tend to release my innermost struggles and topics of tension to my closest friends.

Furthermore, loving my neighbor as myself means that I will love others as they need to be loved. This implicitly means that I will choose to love them even when I get no benefit from doing so in the first place.

The more I talk about love the less emotional I get; why? It’s because love ultimately becomes a decision. Love is choice and I consider it a massive joy to be able to have the autonomy to choose to love my neighbors and even my enemies.

This decision of love is something life changing; it is a radical concept to grasp because it is so unlike the normal standards of human interaction. Much of the world bases its human interaction on self-preservation, self-interest, and selfish ambition. One of the worst parts is that the church today has embraced these same values. I think our church painfully lacks radical love for one another in its infrastructure.

There have been countless times where I have spent months and years trying to love this existential God that so changed my life-and rightfully so! I saw God as the Savior of my life; I still see God in this same light today.

However, in those years of pursuit of Christ and his character I can point out gaps of time where I spent time praying prayers of zeal and kingdom come, many moments of powerful worship and adoration, and weeks where I felt like I was growing in my understanding of God’s character. Yet, if I am honest, there were plenty of moments where my love of God never translated into a love for my brethren in Christ. It wasn’t that I was damaging others with words of discouragement or walking in a path of disdain for others; it was more of what I wasn’t doing that let me know something was wrong.

A love for God is honoring and glorifying to our Father in Heaven; in that, to love God is to also love others-well, intentionally, and purposefully. Love is an active ingredient that pursues others; love brings people into your own story in a natural and life giving way.

Loving others will mean loving my neighbor as myself. It most definitely means loving others the way they need to be loved without any benefit to me in sight.

You’ll Spend the Rest of Your Life Being Yourself

You are: (insert name here). You can change your name, your facial structure, and even your “gender”, courtesy of Bruce Jenner.

In a world that is constantly changing and reinventing new standards for values and ethics, politics, and everything aesthetic, it can be extremely difficult to navigate the path that we ought to take. In times of hardship we are faced with this decision to do the “right” or “normal” thing. What is that exactly?

What is “normal”? What is the path I should take as a young millenial? The hipsters have made created a movement that says different is the new normal. Is that the path I ought to take? Should I go against the grain in all the areas of life? People have said to be myself and follow my passions. What if those passions are straight up weird, leave me homeless, and disconnected from the ones I love? Is there a do-over?

The prospect of going to University and getting married could both easily fit under these categories of activities we ought to participate in. You could say most of spend our entire lives trying to figure out which of these activities we want to engage in and, more importantly, who we are. What kind of man do I want to become? Who do I want to get married to? What kind of work do I want to do after college?

People die everyday without knowing who they were, what they were meant to do. It’s a sad reality, but some never find what truly makes their heart come alive; some individuals spend an entire lifetime searching, but somehow come up empty.

Let this reality sink in. Most of us all settle into a very similar situation. Most of us end up going to college, getting married, settling into a home, having kids, and the list could go on and on. No matter how hard we fight, our innate, human desires drive us to settle down and go after all the “normal” things of life.

Maybe this bums you out a bit; it certainly does for me. However, I choose to look at these commitments and outfits of normality as mechanisms of necessarily satisfying the human heart. There’s a reason why twenty somethings are able to travel the world, be wild, and live a spontaneous and ragtag lifestyle. There’s also a reason why we don’t see forty-somethings trying to do the same thing. I can’t speak too much on this because I am still in my twenties being a wild and living with reckless abandon; however, I imagine forty-somethings live their lives a little something like this: there are people you love and care about, therefore the sacrifice of giving up personal freedoms to go out and about seem minuscule in comparison of the prospect of getting to spend a lifetime with those you love.

Forty-somethings possess a gift twenty-somethings desperately need. A set of strong values that supersede personal ambition. If you’re a twenty something you might call me out; I would ask that you look at your self for the last decade. What have been the ways you’ve grown internally? Has your heart grown in its capacity to love? Have you grown more patient? Have you developed knowledge and depth of insight? Chances are you have grown in all these internal areas of development.

It’s this same trend of internal development that eventually drives us to hang up the shoes and call it a day. It’s these set of strong values that bring us to the altar to say, “yes” to that special someone and ultimately a slew of other things such as kids and a job you necessarily don’t like, but learn to love because it puts bread on the table.

I think these elements are the beauty of growing up. I don’t know what it looks like to live past the age of my early twenties, but I imagine it’s going to look a lot different than what I previously imagined.

“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” -Philippians 3:14

Everyone’s race is going to look different; we know across the board this race is going to look similar for everybody in these various areas:

  1. Difficulty: this race will be tough to navigate and it will be strenuously long
  2. The Prize is going to be worth it: if getting to be with Jesus was not the focal point of my life I would find life difficult to keep pressing on.
  3. Heavenward: the seemingly endless and boring aspects of life that we expect to one day settle in remind us that greater things await us in eternity with Christ Jesus. The marriage we choose to walk in, the friends we choose to link arms with, and the job we work pale in comparison to getting to worship at the feet of the Lamb.

Yes, life may one day get mundane and we shall fight it. However, when we settle and nestle into our future, we can be assured that the prospect of getting to be with the King will fully satiate every desire in our hearts until we one day get to be with the beautiful Maker himself.

Life is a Never-Ending Stream of Moments

I’m going to play to the logic inside all our minds and make this assertion: Life (Your Life, My Life, and Everyone Else’s Life) is a long stream of moments that happen one after another. In this current day and age there appears to be a plethora of “moments” to choose from.

There are the wild, spontaneous moments that seem to simply appear and then dissipate after a little while. These are flashes of greatness that make life enjoyable and worthwhile. I’m sure you’ve had at least a few of these: random dance parties, late night eating adventures, or the last minute travel excursions that end up taking you far and wide.

There are the cry-on-somebody-else’s-shoulder moments of emotional upheaval. This includes times of sorrow, pain, and suffering perhaps at the expense of a loved one, an amazing revelation of life, or undesirable instances of conflict that make the soul ache.These moments help us realize that life is not perfect; we realize life is going to eventually be filled with these emotional upheavals and how it would greatly benefit us to learn how to deal with them and respond accordingly.

Finally, there are the seemingly boring, everyday moments of using the restroom or taking a breath of fresh air. When was the last time you sat on the toilet and thought, “what a time to be alive”? When was the last time you took a breath and thought, “wow, that was fulfilling, refreshing, and I’m glad I took the breath in so deeply. I’m so grateful for oxygen”. We, as humans, aren’t wired to think with such longevity in the everyday moments. However, it’s these everyday moments that life seems to consist the most of.

If you were to somehow count up all your “moments”, how many of each would you have? How would the percentages be displayed on your “moments” calculator? As millenials I think these questions present a trivial and challenging situation.We have Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and Yik Yak to record every waking moment of our lives in order to share them with the rest of the world. Call me jaded, but there is a side of today’s social media that is all about glorifying the “notch in the belt loop” sentiment of life. What crazy thing did you do on the weekend? Who did you party with? What wild, out of the ordinary activity did you participate in? How do we become the envy of our friends and maintain the status of “the wild one” or the “spontaneous one”?

I think if we are honest, we would love to have far more of the spontaneous, wild flashes of greatness than we would the everyday occasions of life. Personally, I wish I could say I had twice as many adventures and out of this world journeys as I did the times I sat down and did some kind of homework for class. But again, if we are honest, I have done several times the amount of homework and test preparation than I have gone on wonderful travel excursions or wild eating adventures late into the night.

So where am I going with all this? Yes, life consists of moments; let’s all be honest. The number of everyday moments far outweigh the other flashes of spontaneity or emotional upheaval; however, we simply need to be ok with that reality. No, I am not saying to go seek the boring and mundane and become some sort of social hermit that claims to never seek the “moments” of life because that would be straight up boring.

As I follow Jesus I have to believe in this one thing: that life following after a God who set me from free from all unrighteousness and presented me with the beautiful gift of salvation is different, radical, yet unchanging. None of these adjectives are antithetical to joy, spontaneity, or wild. However, I think it would behoove us as Christians to define for ourselves, based on the living Word of God, what a life lived following Jesus is all about. Ultimately I know my time and resources are no longer my own, but fully and freely submitted to the Lord; he is the reason I live on this Earth and the reason I long to be in Heavenly eternity with my Savior.

“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.”

-Psalm 27:13

This Psalm is huge for me because it shifts my focus away from any kind of “moment” I would make for myself on Earth and simply turn my gaze towards following Jesus the Son of God. What does it look like for (insert name here) to be obedient, surrendered, and Gospel minded? This is a trivial question that will probably not be answered overnight, but certainly a great place to start. The wild and spontaneous moments of life are amazing; following Jesus is certainly the place I want to be. The two aren’t mutually exclusive, however, they tend to be premised on two very contrasting elements: self vs. Christ.

The thought life I prefer to dwell in is this: surrender and obedience to the Word of God never fail. Christ promises us joy and fulfillment in following him while also guaranteeing hardship and trials. God gives us his word that his love is the end all be all; life really is about seeking more of God and his character, while ushering the return of Jesus by loving those on the Earth already. I trust that following this Jewish dude who died over 2000 years ago is worth following. I might be a fool for thinking this, but I guess we’ll just have to wait and see won’t we? I’ll let you know at the end of my life if following the Son of God panned out for me or not!