Monday, October 25, 2010

Men's Retreat

Okay, so this week's post is going to be really short and I apologize. It has been a really busy week.

The highlight of the week though was this weekend. The FSU Navigators went to Georgia for our yearly Men's retreat. There we met up with all our brother ministries in the area including Valdosta State, UNF, USF, and UF. There was a competition between the schools where we had "Man Challenges" to see who would take home the trophy this year. Sadly FSU lost the trophy and USF took it.

But on to Christly matters. It was great getting to meet new brothers that I had heard stories about. And all the talks and workshops were great. We got to spend a lot of quality time together and grow in Christ. It was awesome sitting down having a quiet time with some guys one morning and seeing that the entire goal of this weekend was for us to grow as Men of Christ, to follow His image and to be leaders. Of all this though I would say that one of my best realizations was that, while I was in Georgia growing in Christ learning how to be a better "Man" and a better leader, the women were coming together in Gainesville to become stronger "Women" of Christ. And few will realize that what the women are doing on their retreat is really of great service to the men. They are learning to be sisters that we may one day date. Now this may seem silly, but when you look at it we should (and most of us do want to) yoke ourselves to an equal (i.e. a strong Christian). It is really great just seeing how the women were working for the men (and the men for the woman) although we were hundreds of miles away from each other. Thank you sisters!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Good For Everyone

So I posted my testimony and I've gotten a few responses to it on facebook and in person. All the comments and encouragements got me thinking about past responses I've received from others when they have heard of my conversion/testimony.

A lot of my friends from high school don't get to see me at all since I left to college (which is out of state from them) and my parents moved. So whenever I make a trip back to where I grew up I make it a point to meet with as many of my friends as possible and telling them of God's work in my life. They are always really interested in what I have been up to and love to hear about all my stories. They even sit attentively while I talk about how I found God and how He changed my life. One of the most common responses I get back from them is "Good for you". Now I know this is a generic response to good news, but I can't help but feel like they are saying something more along the lines of "Good for you [but maybe not so much for me]." That is just crazy to me. If you believe that there is a god and He is God; that He is in control of everything and wants what is best for you then why not live like it? Maybe my friends haven't had an opportunity to see a significant change in my life due to the fact that I don't even live in the same state as them anymore. I mean, I wasn't a bad kid in high school, so what they see is generally the same me unless they see how my priorities have changed. It is hard to show just how my life is different; how my heart is different. I understand that they don't see a ton of change, but it is still crazy to me.

I feel like part of this is because my friends have heard a lot about God, but no one has ever presented them with the fact that this change that we as Christians have experienced isn't for the select few. It isn't for the elite. It is for everyone. It isn't just good for me, but good for everyone. God uses the least likely of His creations for His purpose. If you have read my last blog post you can see that no one would have expected me to become a Christian. Look at Paul from the Bible; he was a Pharisee who had persecuted many of the early Christians (i.e. sentenced them to death). I mean Paul was on his way to persecute some more early Christians, yet God used Paul and now just under half of the New Testament consists of letters written by Paul.

Let me just say: it isn't just good for me. It is good for everyone. If it really is so "good for [me]" then why don't you try it? God offers this gift free of charge for everyone. Let this stand as an invitation to anyone who is reading. God does care. God does love. And God does want you. It really is good for everyone, and it definitely is good for you.

Friday, October 8, 2010


So this is already kind of in my "About Me" section, but I wanted to make this blog and make its entire purpose for God (and maybe write a little bit about my life). God has really been working in my life recently and I have been thinking about making a blog. It just kept coming up in my life, so I decided to just go with it.

I've mentioned God already so I guess this is a good time to spell out what I believe. I'm a Christian, so I believe in one sovereign, Almighty God. I believe He sent His son down to show us the path and to pay the price for our sins. I was raised Roman Catholic, but now I believe in what God has told me through His holy words in Scripture.

I wasn't always a believer though. For most of my life I was actually an enemy of Christ. Enemy seems like a harsh word, but when you find that God sees in black and white you realize that you are either an enemy or a friend. Irrespective of that though I feel as if enemy is the perfect word to describe me before Christ changed my life. Like I said, I was raised Roman Catholic. From the earliest I can remember I recall going to church with my parents. I remember waking up early on Sunday mornings and driving to church, hearing messages about Jesus and God, learning about sin, heaven and hell, the cross, and singing hymns that had no meaning to someone of my age. But nevertheless I knew of God and of His holy son.  As a Christian though it isn't about knowledge. Knowledge is a great starting point, but it isn't what saves you from the fires. What I hadn't learned yet is that it is the lifestyle that saves. Now don't get me wrong here. I'm not saying that following a certain formula on a day to day basis is how to get to heaven. That is just as wrong as saying knowledge is the key in. What I am saying is that a lifestyle where you pursue God is the key to getting started. God starts to work in your heart and you really start to change. The world seems so insignificant to such a vast creator.  At such a young age you probably won't see this as profoundly in a small child, but one thing I'm certain of is I didn't have that lifestyle. I didn't have that change occurring in me. I wasn't saved.

I went to Sunday school from the time I could first be enrolled up until it was time for me to have my Confirmation done. Somewhere during that time though I just lost interest. Sunday school classes never had me with any of my friends (which were few due to their attendance to other churches) and many of the kids there formed their cliques. Now Sunday school was just something else that cut into my Sundays that was boring and not relaxing or fun. Slowly as I got older I started paying less and less attention.

When my teens hit so did the rebellion. Not rebellion against my parents, although I did argue and give them a hard enough time (bless them!), but rebellion against God. As my older brother had already gone to college and I was giving a hard time to get out of bed on Sunday mornings my parents figured I was old enough to be responsible for my decision on whether to go to church or not. Seeing as I found sleep more enjoyable than church I slept in and my parents, without the obligation of taking me to church in the mornings, stayed home as well. I couldn't weasel my way out of going to Sunday school though. Every Sunday night I still had to go and be counted present at something that I was growing to strongly dislike.

I found myself searching for God and coming up dry. I expected God to shake the Earth beneath my feet, call my name, and proclaim Himself to me. When none of this happened I began to deceive myself into thinking there was no God. The God that all my friends believed in was a lie told to fools to make them feel better about life and death. I wanted nothing more than for God to reveal Himself to me, and in an effort to achieve this I defied Him, much like a small child defies their parents for attention. I would openly proclaim my disbelief of God. I would try to prove my to my friends that their beliefs were foolish and misplaced. I'm sad to say that some eventually believed me. At the time though I thought that if God cared He would stop me. 

However, throughout this period in my life, which lasted about up until my freshman year in college, I did experience God in my life. I had several moments where His mercy was me was so great I was brought down to my knees. These experiences only lasted for a few days though. As I got older I started fighting less with people about God and just let them believe what they wanted. I had matured and was interested in seeing why people believed in such a crazy story. I wanted to know what it was that so many people wanted to cling to. God started softening my heart this way. One big way He did this was around my senior year of high school. I worked with a guy named Justin that was a big Christian and talked all the time about events that he went to at His church and how awesome God was. Because he was a good friend we talked all the time and our best talks were at midnight when we would get off of work and I would drive him home (he lived about 30 min away from our place of employment and myself). It was a bit out of my way, but it was fun just getting to sit and talk. We started talking about God and what He was all about. And I slowly found myself saying that I did believe in God, but I just didn't live it and that was still fine with me. What I was doing was enough. God wouldn't condemn me for being a good person.

Justin and I would have these talks all the time until I left for college. Then, once in college, I would call myself a Christian. I believed in God. It wasn't until I met a couple of guys who lived a few doors down from me that I realized what a Christian truly was. I saw that they lived by different standards that what people usually follow. I know that isn't very specific, but that is because what was different was very subtle. I could tell something was different just not what. As I grew closer with these guys I learned that they lived according to what the Bible said. They initiated a Spiritual Discussion Group with all the guys on my floor, and it was through the group that I can honestly say was the first time I actually picked up a Bible and read it and studied it instead of reading it in the hope that God would answer all my life's questions in one verse.

Reading God's Word really penetrated deep into me. Truth reverberated in my mind. I found myself staying later talking to the guys asking questions. Eventually there came a time when I could no longer deny God's existence, but I found myself truly caring for what He has done. I saw that God was an active an living God who didn't just wind us up and watch us walk around. God was moving that day just as He was moving during the times of Adam and Eve, Abraham, Moses, and so many others. Somebody asked me after one of the Spiritual Discussion Group sessions if I believed in God, and my immediate response was yes. He then asked me to "count the cost of following Jesus", warning me that it was not an easy road. I walked away that night knowing in my heart that there was no question. That God did exist, and He was all powerful, all knowing, loving and merciful, wrathful yet just. How could I not follow Christ who I did believe to be the son of God? How could I walk away from that knowledge due to some hardship? My mind and heart was made up. I was a believer.

October 31, 2008 I became a true Christian, and as those guys told me, the path has not been easy but it has definitely been worth it. God has provided in so many ways. He has worked in ways I thought to be impossible. And while I struggle like many of my brothers and sisters struggle I take comfort in knowing that God loves me and cares for me anyway. And He loves and cares for us all.