Hold on to Hope

I’m going to be shooting from the hip again for this post (honestly, that’s the best way for me otherwise there really wouldn’t be any new posts). So I’m going through this unexpected trial since I wrote about faith and the (lack of) works of it in my life. I had a feeling I was about to go through a trial in my relationship, but I didn’t think it would be as extreme as it is now. I’m not going go into the details, but in the most simplest summary I took a blessing from God and wasn’t the best steward of it. We ended up twisting the blessing and made it about us instead of making the blessing (thus us) about God. So we mutually (as difficult as it was) to take a step back and put God in the forefront in our lives. I don’t know how long it will take. It hurts just thinking about. But the truth is that we selfishly wanted our own desires for our lives instead of seeking and obeying to the desires God wants for our lives.

So just like the trial I went through last year when I explicitly disobeyed His commands, I am going through it all over again. In this I will trust God and I will go to Him in every thought of doubt in my mind. I know I will be spiritually attacked. I will be sad. I will feel pain. I will also find joy in the most unexpected places. I will find bits of happiness and excitement through this. And in all of those blips of emotions, I will go to Him about it all. That when I am feeling weak, I will go to Him and ask for His help. I will listen intently to His Word. I will surround myself with His love. I will love intently to those He has called to be around me. I want to understand and accept the life He wants for me.

I understand and consume all of those things. That whole thought process comes from my head and not such much from my heart. My heart wants to settle that what I have done with God’s blessing is lost. My heart wants to say that let’s just go on because this is something that cannot be restored (even though it is my mind that knows that God can restore anything). My heart is full of emotion and is full of hurt. It sends the signals to my mind and it is my mind that brings that emotion to God. But there’s a very root emotion my heart that my mind cannot compensate. And that is hope.

There is very little logic to hope. My mind cannot comprehend it. It knows it exists, but it cannot do anything with it. It cannot take any actions to bring hope into a tangible entity where it measure and adjust decisions accordingly. Unlike faith (and we’re talking about the works kind of faith that James writes about), my mind can act on faith. It sees the faith in Chris. (In other words, it sees the works of faith in Christ.) It imitates and acts out in love according to the faith we’re called to live. But hope remains a mystery to my mind. It’s something that only my heart can grapple with, and it can be so hard at a time like this where my heart doesn’t find hope.

But that doesn’t have to be the case. Just like how my mind consumes the Word to gain the wisdom called infuses into it, my heart can also call onto God to infuse itself with the hope it requires. This is what Paul writes to the Romans:

I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with the confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

– Romans 15: 13 (NLT)

God is constant. God is love. God is good. And just like how my mind calls out to God for wisdom, my heart ought to call out to God for He is the source of the hope it needs.

I feel like I lack of a balance between heart and mind. My mind so deeply wants to say, “If it’s God’s will.” It tries to justify what’s happening in my life (as I go through trials and find myself in the valley). It’s like it puts out a kindling fire of hope that my heart so wants to turn into a blaze. My mind fights with my heart, “God is good, but the thing that we want isn’t the same thing He wants for us.” And I just have to straight out call out my mind that that line of thinking is not true!

God, my father, I look towards the heavens and ask you to fill me completely with joy and peace. I trust you, LORD. For You being the source of my hope, I ask your Holy Spirit to start a blazing fire of hope in my heart. That both my heart and mind are parts of a unifying body to be drawn closer to you. That they become a balance to symbolize your power with wisdom and love. Let me hold on to You. Let me hold on to hope! I pray this in your Son’s name, Jesus Christ, Amen!

Trust with Obedience

A new year is upon us, and it’s time for me to review what happened in 2013. Before I review 2013’s tangible goals, I wanted touch up on a few themes that I discovered for this year. At the end of 2012, I felt this pending sensation that something was going to happen in 2013. I know, I know, every year I say, “This year is going to be it!” But to see where I was in 2011 and 2012, things had to go up from there, right? Yes, it did in many amazing ways! But throughout the entire year, even though both halves were split with its own sub theme, I feel what God has been teaching (and continue to do so) is trust with obedience. I felt there was something deep down in my heart—a desire planted so long ago by the Creator Himself—to do amazing things. And even when I wanted to push those amazing things aside, what I felt that was so hidden but so wanted to be revealed was this desire to do what my Father does. To finally use my own free will that He granted to do me to give it up and to follow Him.

I may have jokingly first wrote about the tangible goal list for 2013, but I soon realized how awesome it could be to accomplish then quickly recognize despite of these things of this list are good, I want to make sure I do them to honor my Creator and do life according to His will. I want to do the same thing with the list for 2014. I do not to complete all of them, instead I hope each one I can accomplish according to His ways. And if He tells me that this is something that He does not want for me, that I may immediately obey and trust that His way is always better than mine.

With that aside, let’s dive into 2013’s tangible goals!

  1. Write a tangible goal list. Always start the year with a win!
  2. Launch twinwork.net. Even though it’s up, sadly I already want to redo it for one final time. It is complete for 2013, but it more or less made it back on the list for 2014.
  3. Create a photography/portfolio blog. Totally failed. The whole idea was to use the Twinwork platform I built for twinwork.net and create a portfolio blogging website for all of my photography. You know what’s even a bigger failure for me? I barely did any photography for the year.
  4. Learn 2 lead rifts in 3 keys on the guitar. I said a made an addendum during the first quarter update. I didn’t exactly learn to play lead, but I did increase my confidence in leading worship and just jamming with friends. Specifics aside, I think if my goal was to progress in music, I did just that, so I’m going to call this a win.
  5. Serve in at least one ministry at Newsong. More or less completed withing the first quarter of 2013 and it continued with the Muffin Ministry through the 2nd and 3rd quarters.
  6. Find and learn from at least one mentor. I couldn’t find one.  Pushed this goal to 2014.
  7. Find one person to mentor. I sort of found someone to mentor, but not really. Just like finding a mentor, this goal is also pushed to 2014.
  8. Post a story to singlethread.org once a month. Done! Though, there was one month that could be debatable. I did over 12 posts this year, so I’m calling it a win! I’m still planning on posting at least a story a month through 2014.
  9. Fly to Hawaii to see Joel (and Iron Man 3) to celebrate our 20th friendiversary. Totally happened! I even played on his worship team when I went out. We had so much fun!
  10. …And fly Joel out here to see Hillsong. This was also equally amazing. We ended up driving up north to visit a few friends… something very similar to what we did back in 2007. All too awesome!
  11. Build that new computer! Failed. I added this to 2014 for the sake of having it there, but it’s not a high priority. If God really wants me have this, He’ll deliver a way for it to happen 😉
  12. Buy that D800 & 105mm macro lens. Failed. I just didn’t shoot in 2013 and I honestly don’t believe I’ll be shooting much in 2014. I might pick up the 105mm macro lens if I somehow achieve all my financial goals for 2014, but this is no longer a priority. Chances are by the time I get back into photography, the D900 will be out. I can wait four years or so.
  13. Be her Adam for your Eve. I still have yet to write this story, but God definitely delivered on this goal when I least deserved it. This happened in the second half of the year and how He wrote this story for us was completely mind blowing. We’re still together, yet apart (she’s teaching in Spain during the 2013-2014 school year). Though, I can’t say she will be my life long partner, but she is definitely somebody special that I want to explore that question with.

So I was 8 for 13 for the year. God definitely did good. I trust in Him that He will top all of this in 2014. I already sense it’s going to be a different year, but I definitely want to see what He will do to stretch and grow me. I pray that I will always run to Him no matter what trials I find myself in.

Live an amazing life to always glorify God’s mighty name! Have a great 2014!

P.S. Just like last year, I’m kicking off 2014 alone, and I’m okay with that. I’m sure this will be a rare occurrence in the future.