3 Things I Remember When I Want To Quit

I have recently decided that I am pursuing this writing thing. I have gathered the courage to make the declaration – to myself if no one else – that, “I. Am. A. Writer.”

The gathered courage seems to have a similar consistency to water as I have had the hardest time holding on to it. One day I’m writing, the next I am questioning, the next I am writing again, aaaand the following I am crying.

Back and forth, back and forth it is a never ending battle – AND IT’S ONLY BEEN THREE WEEKS!!! It feels like forever, but constantly I return the the place of decision. It’s like being lost in one of those really nice subdivisions; you are sure if you just take the next right you will find your way out. In reality, you end up venturing further and further into the Suburbia Fly Trap.

The one thing I am thankful for is that the Lord continues to be that one thing that remains unmoved. He is the beacon on the horizon. The northern star for all posterity. When all is chaos down here I am gently reminded to look up, and there I find peace.

  1. God cannot fail –

It is, in ever definition of the word, impossible for God to lose. He has never failed to do something He has spoken and if death of all things could not stop Him then what’s a little uncertainty?

2. God will not change –

Often times I read through the Bible’s stories for no other reason than to gather evidence. If God did something thousand’s of years ago in someone else’s life, then He is still capable of doing that very thing today in mine.

The Bible is rich with case study’s to build a solid argument against the doubts and uncertainties that assault us daily. God, who is the same yesterday, today, and forever, will not change to meet the conditions. They change to meet Him.

3. God has not left –

Perhaps the greatest comfort I find among these 3 truths is found right here. There is nothing that can cause God to pull His love away from me. God who is the supreme authority on EVERYTHING has vowed to not let anything separate me from the love He freely gave me.

He will not abandon me even if I completely suck at everything I try to accomplish. He has promised to walk with me, and you, through the valleys and not just to peaks. He will not leave me when I am unsuccessful and He will not abandon me when I am.

 

Knowing these simple truths realigns me every time fear and doubt get a leg up on me. But it isn’t just knowing that they are true, it is believing with all my heart they are true concerning me. 

In the same way the road doesn’t disappear in the presence of fog, truth does not vanish in the presence of doubt. The road is still there when I can’t see it, and the more familiar I am traveling that road determines the confidence I have on it. The same can be said in life.

When I can’t see the promise or the dream because of fear and doubt, I choose to believe I am still getting closer. Because the truth God has given me and you is a road that cannot be undone by a little fog.


 

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Blessed Don’t Mean LAZY

We  have been grossly misinformed.

Somewhere… somehow… we picked up this idea that following Jesus in life was going to be easy. The very idea that we could sign on to follow a Man who was rejected and brutally murdered by the very people He was sent to save and expect a cake walk for ourselves is entirely asinine.

In a world completely contrary to all that Jesus came to show how can we expect to live a life free of pain? Free of struggle? Free of sweat and perseverance? What need is there for patience if every thing will start to go our way once we speak the magic words?

Just have faith… don’t actually put any effort into what you want to see, just recite some words from a 15-minute devotional and you’re good. That, my friends, is inaccurate.

It was Jesus who said in John 16:33, “In this world you will have trouble.”

Try as we will, we cannot get away from this. It is truth.

Please do not hear me saying “faith is wrong” or, “belief is useless.” No, on the contrary, FAITH IS ESSENTIAL. But without action, faith is dead (passed away, no more, lifeless).

I am all for being blessed by God. Please God, BLESS MY LIFE! But I think we miss it when we take the blessings for granted, and we cheapen them when we use them as a replacement for taking action.

“I want to be successful in life. I want a glamorous marriage, a plump bank account, model-citizen children, and a thriving business. God is good and He blesses us… so I will just wait for it to come to me.”

Never mind the fact that a good marriage only comes through HARD WORK and tons of self-sacrifice. Forget that a good work ethic and disciplined spending habits are essential to financial well being. Parenting… that’s a song and dance I dare not claim experience in anytime soon. I have begun to see dreams – yes, even God dreams (shout out Abraham and Drake) – take long hours, hard work, and treading water in an ocean of discouraging moments, in order to achieve.

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That is our part, but it is here the blessing of God comes. It makes rich (in life, in love, in joy, not just money) and adds no sorrow with it. (Proverbs 10:22)

When we use the blessing of God to justify our own laziness and half-heartedness we are poor representations of the Kingdom.

Look through the pages of the Bible…

Noah, David, Nehemiah, Paul, JESUS. These were builders. They were doers. Movers and shakers. AND GOD BLESSED their endeavors.

Noah built the world’s biggest boat with no power tools, no Home Depot, and little help. David used his gifts in the lowliest of positions and put in work when nobody else was looking.

Nehemiah was a glorified waiter that decided to become an engineer and tackle a massive building project that God’s people had put off for years on years. Oh, and he finished it in just a few month’s time!

Paul worked until his muscles gave out, sweat stained his tunics, and his hands were raw building tents, just to turn around and create an entire movement all across the known world in his “free time.”

We love to talk about all that Jesus did in His days on earth but read right past the parts that tell us how He got there… He WALKED EVERYWHERE. He denied Himself sleep, food, and the comforts so many other were accustom to.

We are arrogant if we think we can just snap our fingers and expect God to make everything fall into place for us in this life. I believe God blesses the effort. He graces the grind. He provides stamina when we feel we can’t go on and peace when we would otherwise meltdown at the hands of stress and worry.

When we take the literal “leap of faith” and follow Jesus, we are not mystically transported into a different reality than all the “heathen and sinners.”

Nope – we are all still on the same blue and green rock spinning around the sun. We experience the same setbacks, struggles, and frustrations. The difference?

“BUT be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Jesus. He is the difference. His work is the key to unlocking the blessing that sets our work apart from those around us. Look at Joseph and Daniel and you will see that God’s hand on His children sets them apart from their peers.

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But to simply lie around and hope God does it (hashtag: wonthedoit!) all for us would mean we think God is the type of parent that spoils their children to their own detriment.

 

If you never tell your children “no” how are you preparing them for a world that doesn’t give a flea’s fart about their feelings and their desires or dreams? How are you equipping your kid to handle adversity when you shelter them from every sign of resistance? That is throwing the sheep to the wolves.

Our God is a Good Shepherd, and even decent shepherds protect their own from the predator. Could it be that in experiencing struggle and adversity God is demonstrating His love for you?

Where He wants nothing more than to rush in and take it all away, He holds back in order to let what is best for you in the long run take place.

If you never face resistance you never get strong. If you never experience loss you never savor victory. If you never look difficulty in the eyes you never learn to trust outside yourself.

We will not develop a faith in God if we never come up against things out of our control. He never has a platform to show Himself mighty if He paves the road with rainbows and unicorns. God is faithful and He is good… you have to know there is something contrary in order to assign any value to these traits He embodies.

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SO… Yes, you and I are blessed! But that is not an excuse to sit back and do nothing until Jesus decides it is time to go home. What has God put in your heart? That was given to you to accomplish. To GO AFTER. All the while, trust God to bless your attempts and lean into His grace to make up for your weakness and shortcomings.

In other words: GIVE GOD SOMETHING TO BLESS!

 

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Ambushed

I was stabbed through the heart as I walked through the doors of that bookstore…

Just moments before I had been posting videos on instagram cutting up about a backwards compliment I received, a disgusting smoothie I ordered (pineapple spinach) that turned out to be delicious, and my excitement for a day in the bookstore.

Then, as I crossed the threshold of the of the bookstore door it all came crashing down like a china cabinet refusing to perform its duty one moment longer.

At the entrance of the door I left the 80+ degree heat and traded it for a perfectly air-conditioned 72. I also left the joy and optimism that had filled up the entirety of my morning and picked up heart ache and despair.

My most familiar foe sat at a small table just to the left of the door. An author in the middle of her media tour was there at the table of this mega chain bookstore signing copies of her new book. I’m guessing she was dressed in character, unless she normally dresses like Dorothy from Wizard of Oz.

You’re thinking I’m some kind of jerk for calling a sweet milk maid my “familiar foe,” but I didn’t even see her.

She’s not the enemy I speak of.

It was not a cute little farm girl dressed in plaid that ripped my chest open and grated my heart through her fingers like a block of cheddar. No – it was that SOB “Insecurity”

I did not expect to see him here. He ambushed me and, defenseless, I was utterly defeated without him having to break a sweat.

I walked through that door expecting to spend an hour or two doing some casual reading so I could tell you all which books to read next. When instead I was reminded my own book- the work I have poured my heart and soul into- was not on these very shelves.

I was reminded that I’ve not sold the three boxes left in the back of my car and at the bottom of the stairs in my parent’s house. I was reminded how I’ve not received ONE REVIEW for a work that I chose to pursue instead of spending time with my wife and son.

Insecurity… he’s an SOB.

The strange thing is, I know I have the support of those who love me but that has been of no use in this battle. My enemy holds the arsenal of a global super power and I stand across from him holding a fencing sabre.

When I’m ready for Insecurity, when I see him coming and I know there will be a fight, I can prepare. I can tell myself,

“it’s only been 1 month, give it some time”

“If they don’t approve your work… F em” – Gary Vaynerchuck

“Your friends and family love you and support you.”

“Your book is good, even if it’s not recognized.”

All this is the way I keep going. I realize my identity is not tied up in all this. I realize my identity as a writer is not even tied up in it. BUT IT DOESN’T CHANGE THE FACT I NEED APPROVAL.

That right there. THAT is the greatest vulnerability in my armor and my enemy knows it.

I won’t always lose these battles, I’ll win more skirmishes than not in the end when it’s all said and done. I’m going to get past this and do what I love… but for today I have been defeated.

I’m going to regroup and move forward. I will take back the ground lost, but for now I’m writing this as a reminder in the back of the Barnes and Noble I was just ambushed in, waiting for the enemy to pass by.

Insecurity never stays long.

As a matter of fact, I just might stop by that table on my way out and try to learn a thing or two.

What the NICHE?

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If you follow me on Instagram then you see I chose to go with writing for this brain session… or what’s left of it after sitting through an entire day of lectures from an endless army of informants sharing the MOST boring information this side of the Ant Farming 101. (NO OFFENSE IF YOU’RE AN ANT FARMER – maybe just pick something a little more interesting pay the bills???)

Like many of you, I work a 9-5. On top of that, I work part-time on the staff of my local church. On top of that, I’m still learning what it means to be a family man. On top of that, I am looking for a new home and experiencing all the fun that comes with that! (<– Re-read as sarcastic as humanly possible.)

Somewhere in the middle of all this, a FURIOUS interest in reading books has sparked up with a flame more intense than ever. The funny thing is I don’t know if I even actually enjoy reading… But I love the feeling I get when I finish a book. The sense of accomplishment I feel is invigorating but… short-lived. Soon it’s on to the next 300 page quest for achievement.

Along with this I have discovered my love for writing * side note: I do not get to do that without you, the reader. So please hear me when I say, “THANK YOU.” The fact that you are reading this now gives me the encouragement to continue when I am dog-tired and discouraged.*

In addition, I recently published my very first book, Grace Pace (VERY COOL! 👏)  What that did for me more than anything was show me… I can do this. You can do this. WE can DO THIS! Whatever dreams we have… if we are willing to go after them, put in the work, and lean on the One who has placed destiny and dreams in our hearts we can have them.

I have a crazy active imagination. This is both a blessing and a curse. (The cool thing is I usually dream in color, surround sound, AND 4D) For the most part, I have done a pretty adequate job of shutting it down during hours when I need to function in the real world but when I start to think about telling stories… THE SYNAPSES THROW A FULL OUT FRAT PARTY.

I want to learn to harness this… I want to tell stories the way I see them. (The prologue in my book, Grace Pace, is the only published evidence of me doing so.)

Here’s the thing. Everything I read about writing/ promoting/ and creating says the same thing: “Find your niche and stick to it.”

I’m all OVER the place – I want to be an Instagram book guru , a voice for practical and authentic Christianity (hence the blog and the book), and a gripping fictional story teller.

Well, the book guru thing is W-O-R-K because I am THE SLOWEST reader you’ve never met. The trouble is I genuinely enjoy books. I will pay 2-3 times as much for a physical copy of a book just because I prefer to hold it in my hands, smell the pages, and slam it shut when I’m done.

I feel like my purpose in writing is to share the message of Christ with people who never realized it was for them. I do get the chance to tell stories in that setting but they aren’t so much fiction as they are gross over-exaggeration.

I will be the first to tell you I am not the most profound Bible teacher, I think people just relate to the way I share from it. I have a healthy burden to continue in this. It constantly weighs on my conscious – a mantle SO graciously laid across my shoulders. As long as the Lord continues to grace me to do this, I will.

The other part of me… the story teller, has a passion to wander into new areas though. I want to get crazy. I want to write about things that DONT EVEN EXIST in real life. I want to write series. I want to explore the caverns of this continent of an imagination I recognize is also a gift from God.

But “niche”…

I want to be a wise steward of my time and creative efforts. I feel like some of these things are more natural while some very obviously challenge me to be greater. I’m not really afraid to fail (being a public speaker beats that junk out of you in a hurry) but I just don’t want to feel like I’ve missed out.

Niche.

Such a weird word. Such a crucial concept. Such an elusive place.

 

So, now that I have literally just scrapped my brain across this keyboard I would love to hear from you. What are your thoughts? What’s your niche? How did you find it and settle into it? Please feel free to leave comments and insight. I’m just getting started with all this and I am an OPEN BOOK.

 

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Cut-Off

WARNING: This is not your average-sized blog post. The reason for that is this an excerpt from my previously released book, Grace Pace… By “excerpt” I mean an entire chapter.

I do pray you forgive my abuse of this platform in making this entry so long, but hey read it in pieces if you have to. Give it a look… go check your Facebook… read some more… go convince your significant other it is IN FACT their turn to do the dishes, and then come back and finish it up.

It brought me such great joy bringing this book together and I wish to share that experience with you here now. So consider this a gift from a guy who would buy you the world if he could… instead he will offer words and occasional wisdom because (though they are far more valuable) they do not cost as much to give away.

I present to you, Chapter 14 of Grace Pace, Cut-Off:

 

When Jamie and I were expecting our son, Elliott, we were thrown into a whole new world. Jamie is great with mom stuff. She read articles, books, articles about books, and every blog on the internet. She even watched YouTube videos of real live childbirth (I am all for an action film, but that is an entirely different level). Isn’t that disgusting? The execs at YouTube should look into that; we cannot allow such disturbing video content to circulate so freely amongst the eyes of the innocent.

I would be lying in bed all ready for sleep when suddenly, out of nowhere, a blood-curdling scream would shatter the peace and calm of our darkened bedroom. I would throw myself over to check on my wife and be face to face with the most horrifying scene my sweet little eyes had ever witnessed. Illuminated brilliantly on that little 6-inch LCD billboard like the noonday sun.

Blood, sweat, tears… it was everywhere. And that was just the father. I was horrified and not so sure I was ready to role-play in this game in just a few short months. I still do not understand why my beautiful wife would torture herself like that knowing she was going to have to do the hard part, but Jamie is nothing if not curious. Because of this curiosity, she does a lot of research. Some of which is less scarring for me than others. So naturally, my wife knows more on just about everything than I do. Especially when it concerns being a parent and everything that it entails.

Perhaps the greatest revelation to me during the entire pregnancy season was seeing my son on the monitor of an ultrasound machine. My wife was ready. She obviously knew this whole thing was real because she felt the changes in her body. She was prepared and knew enough for the both of us, so I just carried on with life as normal. I would do what I could to cater to her needs and keep her comfortable, but that had not really changed anything for me. I was going to be a dad but I did not realize it. Not until the instant I saw my baby on that screen.

I could not decide if I was hoping for a boy or a girl, I just wanted a healthy and strong baby. It was a few visits later that we would find out we were having a boy. I was pumped. Jamie was too. She already knew, due to her research, what I did not. It would cost us more to have a boy than if we were to have a girl. Now by more, I mean it was only going to be one hundred or two hundred dollars but for me that was a lot of money at that time. (Who am I kidding, it still is.) There was to be a little procedure that would need to take place after birth that had skipped my mind entirely. I really was not prepared for this dad thing.

I had made up my mind then and there. I wanted a girl. I mean come on. I would love the baby the same, despite gender. The baby would grow up in a house surrounded by loving family, no matter the sex. He or she would be a Chiefs’ fan regardless. These were unnegotiable convictions. As far as I was concerned, nothing would change but the price tag. I understand, in the grand scheme of things the price for a little snip is nothing. However, I have been known to be unreasonable at times.

All of this is in fun of course. At the end of nine months, Jamie and I were blessed with a beautiful baby boy and I would spend everything I have to give him whatever he wants. If cost was a concern with having Elliott, I cannot imagine if I had had a girl. Daddy’s little princess. Are you kidding me? I would be in real trouble.

I offer this story of my ignorance to you, my friend, in an attempt to casually transition to the topic of circumcision.

Paul writes in his letter to the Galatians,

“Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.” Galatians 5:2-4

 

I often wonder why Paul wrote so much about circumcision. I mean it is a very uncomfortable topic to discuss in a group Bible study and I do not think Paul was very cognizant of that in his writings. In reality, it was a big deal to the religious people of the day. Circumcision was the ultimate symbol of devotion to the Law of Moses and for obvious reasons.

The problem is it was an outward symbol only. Paul goes on to say the only sign of any value is faith working outwardly through love. That would be today’s equivalent of lifting your hands in worship then going to lunch after and treating your server like garbage. Your worship is worthless if it does not transform you and cause outward action. God is not looking for a show. He does not want sacrifice and offerings above love and mercy. (Hosea 6:6)

Jesus came and brought with Him a new covenant, a new agreement we could enter into. Along with that, He brought a new kind of circumcision. One that produces real results and an authentic righteousness. A cutting away of the heart and the things nobody else can see.

Paul tells the Galatians that to trust the act of cutting away your flesh for righteousness is actually only cutting you away from Christ.

 

NOT THE BOSS OF ME

When I was five years old, our family moved from Topeka, Kansas to Texas City, Texas. As we learned from a previous chapter, this trip was not a favorite of mine. I have already informed you how torturous this trek could be for a young child like myself. Endless hours with endless boredom, not a fan. This particular trip – the last one we would take from Kansas to Texas- came with on-board entertainment though: A fight with Aunt Donna. Now an important fact to note about Aunt Donna is that, unlike Aunt Linda, she had little to no patience for brats.

She is the fun and crazy aunt, but she is also the aunt that would make her boys cry loud enough during butt-whippings that we could hear them through the walls. Aunt Donna, in an act of kindness and generosity, decided to come up to Kansas to help my mom with my brother and me during the move.

I liked Aunt Donna even then, but two worlds were about to collide. From what I have been told I was a bit of a spoiled brat growing up. So of course I was unaware of my loving aunt’s great sacrifice in coming to help us. All that mattered was that this little brat had grown tired of being in the car for hours on end and was going to let everyone know it.

As the story goes, I was sassing off to my mom somewhere in the middle of Oklahoma. Aunt Donna had been patient and held her tongue until then, but the offense of a snotty little twerp disrespecting his mom – and her sister – on her watch was not going to stand.

In a diplomatic effort to diffuse the situation, Aunt Donna offered some words of encouragement to me. Something along the lines of how I should not talk to my mom like that. And of course I completely complied, asked for forgiveness, and was an angel the remainder of the trip…

YEAH. RIGHT.

Not me, I was a stinker in every aspect of the word and did not try to hide it. What is the go to response for a snot nosed little punk in such a situation? I knew the answer to that one all day and twice on Sunday:

“Shutup! You’re not my mom! You’re not the boss of me,” I jeered with a five-year old demon smirk across my face.

Look, I am as embarrassed about it now as you feel I should be. It was not my finest moment. However, at the time, something in me knew I could say that in front of my mom and there was nothing Aunt Donna could do to me.

As a matter of fact, I don’t remember even getting in trouble for it, but the look on my aunt’s face said it all. I could read her thoughts loud and clear. “Why you little… I HOPE you come stay a night at Aunt Donna’s house when we get to Texas. We will fix that real quick. ‘Not my mom?’ You’re right, and you are dang lucky.”

Let me reiterate, I love my Aunt Donna. She is amazing. She actually did have to spank me once and hated every moment of it. It was because I crossed a line she very clearly established, and I did it with the same intentional disregard for her authority. On that day, we came to an understanding. She gave me a popsicle afterward, I sat on the couch with her to watch TV, and we have been good ever since.

I think when we hear the message of grace we can take on a similar attitude concerning the teachings of the Bible that I had toward my aunt during our memorable road trip.

Let me be clear, what I am not saying is, “Hey it’s all good. Jesus paid the price for your ticket to heaven so go get wild. Throw caution to the wind, if it feels good do it. Don’t worry about consequence, you are good. Grace covers that for you so soak it up.”

No, Jesus did not come to get rid of the law but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17).

I am not saying you can ignore what the Bible teaches. It is the foundation for your life and will steer you correctly. God Himself has commanded us through His word to be holy (Leviticus 11:44, 1 Peter 1:16) – but even that can only be accomplished as we allow His grace to empower us in our attempts. What I am saying is your right standing with God is not determined by your success or failure to keep every command of the Bible without err.

God loves you entirely and is pleased with you because you have put your faith in His Son who did live the law perfectly. Because Christ fulfilled the requirements the law made, as we continually draw closer to Him- and are transformed into His likeness through grace- our lives should reflect that same fulfilment of the law. Not from the will but from the heart.

I was not under the authority of Aunt Donna in that car, I did not answer to her, but I still owed her respect and honor. The law in itself is not evil. Romans 6:12 actually tells us it is holy.

Galatians 3:24-26 says the Law served as a pedagogue. That Greek word is one that signifies a slave who was entrusted with ushering a child to school. It was the purpose of the schoolmaster to transform the mind of the child and form his character, not the pedagogue. A pedagogue’s purpose was to keep the child on course and ensure he arrived at the schoolhouse. The care of the pedagogue ceased where that of the schoolmaster’s began.

The Law’s purpose was never to make us right with God, but to show us our flaws. It came to reveal sin and make us aware of our need for a savior in order to escape the punishment of that sin, death. Like the pedagogue, the Law came to direct us toward the one that could bring transformation. The Law’s authority over us ended the moment we stepped into a new covenant, a new agreement, with Jesus.

GOD DID IT NOT ME

Remember our friends the Judaizers? They taught circumcision was the required act to make one righteous. It was the ultimate sign of devotion and commitment to keeping the law. I cannot say I disagree with the notion that the act in particular reveals dedication. However, the law being powerless to justify anyone, made it a moot point where righteousness is concerned. These guys were proud of their commitment and wanted everyone who desired to come into the club to live by the same rules. “Abraham, the forefather, kept the law through circumcision so we do too,” they taught.

Paul sets this lie straight in the fourth chapter of his letter to the Romans:

Abraham received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The point was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised.”  Romans 4:11

Can you imagine the regret of the guys who had just followed through with this burden of circumcision the day before Paul’s letter arrives?

Wait, what? Come again?”

 “You are saying this was NOT necessary for me to get right with God???”

These guys lived their entire lives deceived. To their knowledge, they were following the path of the one who came before them. He did this to get right with God, so we do it, and now you must do it also. But Paul reveals that Abraham was already standing in God’s righteousness through faith when he decided to recognize the law as a seal of what God had done for him. Not what he had done for God.

We live lives that reflect the Word of God because it shows the world that we are His and testifies of what He has done in us. What He has done for us. Never will you find that you read your Bible, go to church, worship God, and miss out on Chick-fil-a on Sundays in order to be accepted by God. Acceptance by God comes through accepting His Son.

I encourage you and even implore you to grab hold of this truth. Build your life on it. Move forward in the grace of God and His plan for your life. No matter the temptation, do not lay it down to pick up your old ways of working to earn God’s approval. Do not turn back to the things that once made you a slave to that fruitless and never-ending cycle of disappointment.

 

 

 

Sin Sucks

Sin sucks. I hate what sin does all across the board. First he entices you into thinking he’s your friend and then does everything in his power to get you to partake in his forbidden fruit. I hate it because I like it.

Isn’t it exhilarating? Be real… sin would not be a problem at all if it were not attractive. The Bible doesn’t deny this fact and we shouldn’t either – Hebrews 11:25 tells us Moses chose to “be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.”

I was just Google searching where this verse is because, contrary to popular opinion, memorizing the entire Bible is not a prerequisite to relationship with Jesus. In my search I came across a thread for “Where in the Bible does it say sin is fun for a moment?”

One response took the point I want to make and knocked it out of the park like a hanging curveball. The most honest statement I’ve ever read, and it came from the keyboard of an everyday troll:

Where In The Bible Does It Say Sin Is Fun?

Troll: “You don’t need a Bible to tell you that.”

Everyone knows. The things we shouldn’t do we want to do most.

What we forget is the word that comes first in scripture; these “pleasures of sin” are FLEETING. You can’t hang on. The fun and games are swapped for regret and pain. This is why sin sucks.

Sin invites us to a nice romantic dinner at a 5 star restaurant we could never afford then sneaks out and leaves us with the check.

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The bill is more than we can pay… the pleasures of sin will cost you your life. (Romans 6:23) Sin leads to death and this is why sin sucks.

Its plain and clear sin is something none of us want in our own lives… but what I hate about sin the most is what it does to the people I love. I hate that there is an inherent fear that comes with the thought of telling someone you love and genuinely care about that this killer – this smooth talking, face eating, monster – is looking for a way to kick in the door and steal their life.

It is a touchy topic to point out sin in someone else’s life – EVERYBODY knows the “speck in your own eye” verse. It is the world’s largest shield.

I have to admit, this fear has paralyzed me often. How can I let someone know I love them if I choose to point out sin in their life?

God knows I’m far from having a perfect record, and I still loose battles at times. I try to emphasize acceptance and belonging so much that the thought of making someone uncomfortable terrifies me at times.

 

They were just starting to open up and were thinking about giving this “God thing” a chance. I can’t scare them now. I can’t make them feel like they aren’t good enough. My God, we love these people we don’t want them to be mad at us!

 

But if I’m withholding truth from someone because I am afraid of their response that is not love. That is selfish. That’s me caring more about the other person liking me than what’s best for them. If we as believers know sin’s true nature and are not willing to call it out for the benefit of those we love, we are cowards.

It is not our responsibility to decide how others will receive truth. It IS our responsibility to deliver it in love and with the same mercy Jesus has shown us.

This insight does not make it any easier to handle though… it is still an extremely awkward and volatile situation. THIS IS WHY SIN SUCKS.

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Last night in our young adults meeting however, the Lord gave me the most perfect picture for this socially awkward ordeal. He showed me sin is a bully standing on the head of those you love.

Would you be afraid to help out a friend, brother, cousin, or sister who was pinned down by a fat, curly headed loser with his belly hanging out of his ketchup stained, white and yellow stripped, undersized t-shirt in a vacant lot on your way home from school? (There’s no way that sentence was punctuated correctly. Move on.)

Heck no! You would sprint to his/her aid and do everything in your power to show that slob a thing or two. (If you wouldn’t then your friend needs new friends!)

So why do we respond differently when we see sin doing the same thing to those we love and care about?

Sin wants to keep them in the same struggle their entire life until it’s time to pay the bill. There he is with the sole of his boot on the back of our loved one’s head and we are just gonna walk on by like nothing’s happenin

NEVER AGAIN! We address sin in love with those we love, not because we are looking down our nose, but because we refuse to let their lives be held captive any longer. Grace flourishes in the place of sin, but it does so in order to grant us access to a new wide open country of freedom.

Sin sucks, but GRACE IS GREATER.

 

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I don’t DESERVE your attention

I came across this line in an article the other night and it was one those moments the heavens opened, a brilliant beam of light shoots down, and the recipient below is transformed for life.

If you have followed my journey for any length of time you would know I recently wrote a book. (You would have to have literally lived under a rock to be a “friend” of mine on any social media platform and not know this.)

The book has been such an amazing journey… until now. If I am honest, the time I spent writing and dreaming – praying and hoping – kicking and cussing – was one of the most confusing times of my life. I never thought of myself as a “writer” but… I have always enjoyed the sound of keys clicking away on a keyboard. Honestly, that sound is what kept me at it on occasion! (REEEAL SPIRITUAL, I KNOW!)

But you know what? Something happened when I finished what would become the last chapter of the book. I came alive! EXCITEMENT does not begin to describe the feeling. I remember wanting to tell the world (and nearly did several times) of this newly acquired secret/ milestone achievement. This excitement caused me to look at the treachery that is editing and formatting like the greatest of gifts. It was just one more step that would bring me closer to holding a REAL LIFE book in my hands with MY NAME ON THE COVER!

Self-publishing? Not a problem.

That was the last thing in my way, and even that grueling process would not endure the fury of my elation caused by the prospect of obtaining a dream unasked for.

This excitement, I suppose, is what caused the blitzkrieg of promotional posts that would inundate my Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. (<– I just did it again! I can’t help myself.)

I was holding this treasure, this book, and I wanted the world to know. I also felt an UNBELIEVABLE pressure to make it a success in order to “steward well” what the Lord had given me. Naturally, when the book did not sell out (I still have three boxes in the back of my truck if you need a copy) I was flattened. This unreasonable expectation (at the date of this posting Grace Pace has only been out 12 days) I had did not dissuade me. No. Instead, it gave birth and the pressure caused by this new monster was EVEN GREATER.

I began searching for new ways to get the word out and convince you all that you were missing out if you did not buy a copy for yourself and two for your friends. That is when I came across the article mentioned at the top of this post.

Like a smack across the face from the paw of a bear, reality highlighted my gross entitlement. See, I thought because I did the “hard work” of writing/publishing a book that you owed it to me to read it. It was YOUR job to tell all your friends and make this thing the hit I knew it could be.

Yeah…

Pretty humiliating.

I realized then and there – in the pitch black upstairs bedroom at my parent’s house- that I had done NOTHING to appeal to you. The reader. The customer. The believer that would give my dream life. So, it is with newfound humility that I make this statement:

I DO NOT DESERVE YOUR ATTENTION.

Time is the most valuable thing on this planet and we all get a limited supply. I was foolish to ask for it without first proving your time would be well spent. If you entertain the ramblings of my fingers across these keys then it is a gift, not something I have earned. So, thank you. blog 1

It is my mission now to share what God has given me with you, His most loved sons and daughters, not for acclaim, praise, or profit; but for the growth of you and the growth of me. It takes more than I have to put all this out in the open but if you will do me the honor of reading… I will continue to write.

On this blog I will share freely what I have been given. You may not always find something profound – but you will find words that are honest and real. Jesus is the reason I am here, He is the reason I am what I am and I will not pretend anything else is true. If you buy my book, great. Thank you! But you will find its message (and much more) here along the path of this new journey. This journey is not one I want to walk along so I invite you along for the ride. Will you come with me?

Click the list icon in the top right corner to subscribe and buckle up… we have a long way to go!

Thank you,

-Joshua