Posts in Marshall's Experiences
Song for a Storm

"How long have I been in this storm?

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So overwhelmed by the ocean's shapeless form

Water's getting harder to tread
With these waves crashing over my head

If I could just see you
Everything would be all right
If I'd see you
This darkness would turn to light"

 -"Storm" by Lifehouse

 

Whether you're in a physical storm or you're getting hit with one spiritually. (Or you're even in both). Here is a song that might reflect what you're feeling and give you some hope.  

 PSALMS 107:28-29 (ESV) “Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed.”

Cheesy Song

"Our God is an Awesome God
He Reigns
From Heaven above
with wisdom,
power and love
Our God is an Awesome God"

-Rich Mullins

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This used to be the song I rolled my eyes too. 

It was a cheesy song that my mom and her friends were rock out to in the appropriate mid-90's Contemporary Christian style. (Which is probably why it got on my nerves.)

It was uncool. Annoying. Repetitive.

Then for some reason, it has been in my head for the whole summer. No matter if I'm listening to The Beatles or House of Pain or Needtobreathe, I can't shake my brain from it. It still plays from the second I wake up all the way throughout the day. And I haven't heard that song since...well...probably the mid-90's.

And I'm glad it hasn't. Because it reminds me of that powerful truth regardless of the circumstance.

God speaks the greatest of truths in spite of me. In spite of us. In spite of ignorances, annoyances and pride. To remind us of just who He will always be. Awesome.

Here's a solid rendition of that song. Repetive yet powerful. Old truth yet never changing.

To The Student Living Post "Summer Spiritual High"

"I never imagined I'd experience God like this." "This has been the best week of my life." "I finally felt God's presence!"

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"I've never had a better night than this night, right here." "Worship has never been greater than these past two nights." "I'll never be the same after this!"

"I can't wait to share the all the stories from this week!"

This might've been your story.

A life-changing, faith-building week from a one-of-a-kind experience. One that makes makes you so excited just thinking about it, all you want to do is leap.

Maybe you made a declaration of sorts to friends. Said it yourself. To your youth leader. Maybe even to the whole youth group on a night to share.

I know I have. Too many times after too many  times. And I've heard them too. Too many times after too many times.

Now I'll be the first to say, it's tough to put into words how incredible it is to see God work in ways unimaginable-especially in students. It's earth shattering. I get more thrilled than I can handle seeing all of these pieces of transformation taking place after waiting to see so many students encounter and begin an authentic relationship with Jesus Christ. As a Youth Minister, it is hard for me to ever stop thinking about those moments when the school year begins.

Yet, what ends up happening most of the time on that Saturday you get back from that camp/mission trip/outreach? (Doesn't matter if you're in 7th grade or you're going to be a mostly mature senior.)

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I know what I did. I know what many students have said they've done. We go right back into the flow of how things were before. Hardly changing anything.

With something that you are not just convinced but know has changed your life, with something that has rocked you to the very core of your entire being, with something that has finally brought you to feel and know something unlike anything you've ever experienced or witnessed, (the presence and truth of the One True Christ), does it make sense to just go back to the flow of things? Does it make sense to tame the faith that is yearning to leap?

Let's say I go back to the moment when I first truly fell in love with my wife.

My heart is crumbling, yet it's stronger than it has ever been. My knees are weak, yet I'm floating above my head. My eyes are wide, yet they're more focused than they ever could be. A intense yet gentle, easy yet stirring, calm yet passionate sensation fills my mind as well as my gut. And it runs like a sweeping shock from the tips of the longest hair on my head, to the last skin cell on the bottom of my feet.

Then she tells me she feels the same way.

For the moment beyond moments, all darkness within and around has somehow vanished altogether. No negatives. No worries. No anger. No doubts. No selfish pride. It's gone. Light unlike anything else has become a cool, burning entity inside of me. Feels like I could hold it in the center of my hands. All from this encounter of romantic love.

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Would it make sense for me to feel this to only then walk back to my normal life?

Would it make sense to live just like I was? And then sometimes acknowledge to this woman only when I need her, or feel like it, or "that one time" that extraordinary feeling hit me?

Absolutely not!

I would do exactly what I did in the first place. I'd do everything I could to spend the rest of my life with her, no matter the sacrifice or changes that would come.

I'd take the leap.

It's the same after your life-altering summer trips. If you experienced a "spiritual high" or a feeling that you're not sure you could ever feel again, don't just leave it at that camp or that outreach or that trip.

Do everything you can to make changes where you can in your life. Just don't continue to go with the norm. (No, dropping school shouldn't be an option.) Start with minor shifts. Like as your summer experiences taught you, most often, getting out of your normal circumstances leads to growth. Get uncomfortable.

At home, put away the Xbox one hour earlier than normal. Get off the phone or tablet a bit more. Join your family for an actual meal at the table (and talk to them).

At school, get to know one person new a week (or month if a week frightens you). Sign up to serve somewhere local once a semester. Sit with the forgotten person at lunch just once and see what happens.

Every day, read one verse of scripture a day. God's been showing and speaking through it for thousands of years and will continue to do so (there's literally an app for that. It even has 1-3 minute devotional last to help you understand. Enticing videos and podcasts as well. Who doesn't have 3 minutes? Or even 60 seconds???). Pray for a few minutes as you get ready for the day to thank God for all that you have (opportunities, experiences and/or blessings).

There are enormous amounts of options for minor change that can lead to enormous growth. 

Still unsure? Kind of afraid? Don't worry. I've been there (3rd grade to 11th grade and parts of college) much much more than I'd like to admit. 

It might be hazy. Probably unpredictable and choppy.

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It might even feel like your drowning at times. But try. Keep trying. And do.

Be genuine. Be real. Be loving. Share a semblance of that life-changing spark in you.

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And lift your head to the One above the surface.

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Then when the mundane life of before starts to settle in...

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And you feel like you hit this... 

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Or come across this... 

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Which makes you want to remove yourself and shut off the world...

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Know that you are never truly alone.

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You have Someone who listens even when you start to question your experiences.

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And God's people and church are never too far away to talk to and surround yourself with.  

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Don't teter on the edge of where you've been and where you hope to go as the currents roll by. Do what that spark of faith has been calling you to do since summer...

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Stand up...

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Move forward...

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And LEAP.

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The pages of your new chapter have opened. It just needs your story. 

God showed you He is ready. There is more ahead.

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So take that leap and write it.

 

Philippians 1:6 (MSG) "There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears."

Philippians3:12-16‬ ‭(MSG‬‬“I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back. So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you’ll see it yet! Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it.”

Bridge Folks: Just Water

"Thank you," she says with a voice that sounds like it's been swallowing sand.  

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She takes the water bottle offered to get and chugs it in seconds. Her breath is heavy. Panting and huffing.

She places one hand on her knee, the other leaning on the car door. 

"I didn't...think anyone would ever stop. That's all I needed. Just some water." 

She takes a few more breaths. 

"Not trying to hurt anybody. Wish people understood that. I don't want to be down here...I just...

Anyways, thanks for the water. I really do appreciate it. Have a blessed day."

 

 Deuteronomy‬ ‭15:7-8 “If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother, but you shall open your hand to him and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be.”

It's as simple as stopping for 60 seconds in your 'busy' day of getting from one place to another and extending a hand with a water bottle.

It's as powerful as letting someone know that you see them. That they still matter on this planet. They matter to you. And they matter to God.

Do not stop helping those in need just because they might not 'fit in your plans'. Because in this story of following Jesus, they should always be part of it. 

Bridge Folks: Hurting & Wondering

"People think I'm a bum. I'm not.

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I lost my wallet. Been having a hard time these past few days and needed a meal. Haven't eaten in days.

I've never been in this situation before.

Pastor says 'Treat others like Jesus would'. And I do my best.

But why do people treat others so badly? Why do they treat me and my wife so badly?

I'm not going to do anything to you or nobody.

I'm just hungry and hoping to catch the bus for a job."

 

Matthew 25:42-44 (MSG) 

42-43 I was hungry and you gave me no meal,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
I was homeless and you gave me no bed,
I was shivering and you gave me no clothes,
Sick and in prison, and you never visited.’

44 “Then those ‘goats’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or homeless or shivering or sick or in prison and didn’t help?’ 45 “He will answer them, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me—you failed to do it to me.’"

We are not anything in Christ if we do not see the struggling, hurting or homeless as human beings underneath those labels. Full of flaws and issues, sure. But full of something we spend our whole lives searching for:

A glimmer of the eyes of God.

New Familiar Friend

"Hey you know what?"

I froze on the trek to my car at Walmart after hearing the kind voice. To my surprise a man who stood about 6 foot 10 inches asked me, with a desperate frustration, the most random question.

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"Why did they have to make a reboot of The Mummy movies?"

"What?" I asked, startled since this tower of a man roadblocked me from my car.

"I mean the other Mummy movies weren't that bad. They were fun right?"

My concern turned to a smile.

"Um...yeah they uh....they were." I looked around to make sure he was talking to me.

"I mean I think Brendan Fraser made movies fun when he was in them. But Tom Cruise...we get enough of Tom Cruise, don't we? Like, why can't they just make a new series but with Brendan?"

I admired his genuine concern.

I realized I've seen this guy before. He works on the cart crew at Walmart. I overheard him one day talking to one of his cohorts about his disability as I headed into return an item. He has something similar to autism and Aspergers but slightly different. I remember hearing him say that it causes him to react differently than most other cases.

It didn't matter to me. The way he approached me filled me with such warmth. Such kindness. A sense of home.

"Listen man, I'm with you 100% on this. I feel the same way about the whole reboot thing in Hollywood and couldn't feel more supportive of how you feel about Tom Cruise."

"Thank You!" Bursting so loud I was sure some shopper assumed something was wrong.

"Absolutely."

"Finally someone understands!" His hands raised.

"Glad I could help."

He then proceeded hunt down other carts. No "goodbye". No "nice meeting you". Just a conversation he simply had to have. Like we were already friends. I felt like I was talking to my brother or an old buddy. (It's been the same way since I saw him again after this day.) 

I wonder, what would it be like if we approached others with such openness and innocence?

What if we didn't see others as strangers with reservations?

What if this is how Jesus intended us to communicate with others?

What if saw them as friends? Friends we just haven't talked to yet.

-M.C.

A Child's Story: Profound Faith

"God made me. And 'den...um...God loves me."

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The smallest amounts of words often carry the most weight. Even more so when it's from a child's mouth.

If you've ever wondered, "Why am I here?" or "What is my purpose?" I think it can really come down to the story of the little girl who shared this with me after Sunday school without anyone asking.

You were made to be loved by the One who made you. And you are here to fall into it, despite all the baggage you carry.

It's that easy and that hard.

Simple enough for a child to lean into. Powerful enough to change the story of the human race. 

A story that happens to be your's.

 

1 John 3:1 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

Be loved.

Marshall's Story: Battle with Depression

Phillipians 2:5-11 "4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

For those who are struggling in their faith or want to know more of what Jesus did for them, below is a message I recently gave to our church that focuses on just that.

I get pretty vulnerable, but I hope that by sharing a piece of my story, that may help you draw closer to the truth and love of Christ Jesus.

Remember always: Jesus is bigger than anything you'll ever go through.