Helping You Grow Deeper Roots in Faith, Life and Love

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Author Archives: Cory

What You Need To Know About Terror

Almost every time I mention I’m headed to Israel at the end of June, people fear for my life. Somehow the conflict there scares them more than the conflicts here. So I just want everyone to know, if I die in Israel, I’m okay with it.

The same applies if I would die today crossing the street to get my mail, in August if I’d slip off Mount Princeton while hiking, or if I would have been hit by a bullet in Orlando on June 12—I’d be okay with it.

Photo Credit: Pix-@-Lot (Creative Commons)

Photo Credit: Pix-@-Lot (Creative Commons)

The issue for me isn’t whether I can die going somewhere like Israel or doing something like hiking, the issue exists in why people are concerned.

What is it that makes a certain area or group of people raise alarm in the minds of those who aren’t there?

It’s not their potential danger, it’s our ignorance.

 

In 2014, 72% of all deaths in America were health related.
You’re more likely to be killed in a car accident than you are on a plane.
And the odds are that a piece of furniture will crush you before a terrorist kills you.

Maybe our concerns should be more focused on our health, not texting while driving, and to be sure that TV mount is securely fastened, but when we allow the simple unawareness of a place and a people rush us into fear, then we are doing a major injustice to our world.

Too often we trust the media’s ideas, the opinions of friends, and glimpse of situation without ever seeking out the truth. This mindset lands you just like most of the Europeans in the 1400s. No one thought reaching Asia by going west was possible and if attempted, would result in death. Columbus wouldn’t believe these claims without giving it a try. Although he didn’t reach Asia, he did discover the truth.

Every news source in America had their opinion on the Orlando shooting within minutes of it happening. Eventually, extremist Islam ties would be linked to the shooter, but that doesn’t make all of Islam evil as many Americans believe now and believed more strongly after this event. Even so, today, Muslims around America made a dynamic showing of prayer for the victims. So which reveals the truth?

Fear is a predisposed idea of what we think will happen.

Without knowledge of the truth, without exploration to find the facts, I don’t think we should be fearful. All we are doing is creating a bubble to live in a disillusioned world that abstains you and others around you from knowing. Knowledge is the greatest weapon any man or woman can possess. It’s why I travel to at least one foreign country a year, read numerous books, listen to life stories people tell me over coffee, and look at the world with discerning, hopeful eyes.

Maybe it’s not that you are scared that I’ll die on one of my whimsical trips, maybe it’s not that you are scared of Islam, maybe it’s just that you haven’t taken enough initiative to know, to understand.

You Won’t Find Jesus In A Book

Recently, a friend admitted to me they were second guessing Jesus—that he didn’t seem real to him anymore. I could see the frustration in his eyes that something he had always known and grew up on was losing its value. His solution, he told me, was digging into books on theology and apologetics (he’d already read ten of them this month), trying to rediscover the validity of Jesus. His battle field of a heart lay messy on the table in a quaint coffee house when he ended his rant and asked for help. I told him to stop looking…
 

You won’t find Jesus in a book.

Photo Credit: Clemence Pacault (Creative Commons)

Photo Credit: Clemence Pacault (Creative Commons)

You see, my friend, just like me, grew up on factual Christianity. Being a Christian in this system meant memorizing scripture verses, remembering details to miraculous stories, and knowing the “B-I-B-L-E yes that’s the book for me” songs. If you could do it fluently, you were a “good” Christian.
 
Factual Christianity is based in books but lacks the applicational and experiential side of faith. What it breeds is a porcelain faith that can look good but is shattered when it stumbles upon temptations like sex, drugs, and alcohol or into mental battles like self-image, pride, and envy.
 
The immediate issue is that these situations create an experience that a factual faith has no answers to because there has been no connection with Jesus, only ties to a systematic routine.
 

If you haven’t experienced Jesus, there are a lot of world experiences that will win the attention of your heart.

 
A faith rooted in factual knowledge falls short of stellar like the recipe to a batch of cookies. You can stare at the directions for as long as you want, but you’ll never experience the goodness without working for it.
 
And that’s where many of our Millennial faiths falter, just like my friend unraveled at the coffee shop—it didn’t make sense anymore to believe in something that was only recipe and no experience.
 
Facts will never beat experience. If we allow ourselves to live only by word and never by deed, there is no doubt faith will get boring. Experiencing faith isn’t easy to figure out either though, and that’s why so many of us get frustrated and hindered and confused when it comes down to wanting to feel something.
 
There’s no magical formula of prayer, Bible, and church, there isn’t a certain amount of mission trips you need to go on or service hours you need to complete, experiencing Jesus is unique to every person.
 
This is going to sound heretical, but if you don’t experience Jesus when reading your Bible, then stop reading it. And if you don’t experience him in church, stop going or find a new one.
 
Humans are systematic beings. We are so habitual that we subliminally can do tasks without thinking about them. We can unknowingly do the same to our faith.
 
The best way to break the system—stop doing what is habitual and try something new that takes the full attention of your mind, heart, and soul. This way, you fully experience what it is the Lord has to offer because you have to focus on what you’re doing. This is why children and so wowed by life and adults feel it’s boring—little kids are experiencing something new every day and find joy in it.
 
Experiencing Jesus isn’t a 3×5 notecard, grandma-scribbled recipe. It’s the process of throwing in a little extra cinnamon, tossing flour and digging your hands into the dough while stealing a few bites before you make the cookies.
 
Maybe you actually need to read your Bible or pray for once. Maybe you need to slow down life and listen or go evangelize on a street corner. Whatever it is, break up the system, find the little things, do the hard things, get uncomfortable, I’ll guarantee you’ll experience Jesus in a new way.

Quit Your Expectations

I’ve sat disappointed in my writing chair for two years now, staring at the mobs of words I’ve written, wondering how it hasn’t turned into a real book yet. Recently, it has been increasingly difficult for me to work on the book. What keeps me melancholy and from writing is not the challenge it presents, but how I have fallen short of the expectations I laid out for my life.
Photo Credit: Andrew Foster (Creative Commons)

Photo Credit: Andrew Foster (Creative Commons)

Nineteen year old me would have sworn on my mother that twenty-six year old me would have two books published, a full-time speaking career, international non-profit ministry, wife and a kid. So far, none of those exist.
 
And it’s this terror, the failed expectations I set for myself, that snicker in the corner and dance in my visions of the future, disillusioning my mind and tricking me into inactivity.
 
You may know this feeling too. It isn’t fear that keeps you stalled, it’s disappointment—the jeers of “you should have done better or tried harder” and realization of how you’re not as good as you thought you were.
 

We tend to be our own worst critics, and by doing so, are blinded to the truth of what surrounds us.

 
I was unraveling this failed expectation burden to a friend last week and they were quick to adjust my perspective to something quite beautiful: all that I have done.
 
No agenda, no story can be pre-written by us and perfectly executed. There are too many variables in life that we could never account for and they will minorly or majorly change our life plan. So those expectations that we hold so tightly are really rather silly to bind our self worth to.
 
Living life expecting expectations to occur just as we planned is a great way to lose confidence in who we are and what we do because we don’t allow ourselves to be content with where we’re at.
 
And where we’re at is a beautiful story that we never thought of, but is really the path we should be on. That’s what my friend reminded me of—all that I have accomplished— the mission trips to Tanzania, the Ebooks, the speaking at conferences and youth groups and churches and much more.
 

There is so much beauty in the process of reaching for lofty dreams—we can’t forget this.

 
And that’s why we need to quit our expectations. Stop evaluating life by due dates and successes, throw away the master plan and check lists, and hurl your dreams into the future. Let them collect like stars in the night, quietly awaiting to be discovered, always beckoning exploration but never telling you how to get there.
 
Journey on—free of the need to expect anything to happen, full of the vitality to live life as it comes.

It’s Time To Fall In Love With Your Life

Falling in love with your life is a lot like dating. Not every date works out—some are duds and others oh-so-hopeful but you’re left out to dry. Even so, in order to find someone to be with you have to throw yourself back in the dating game.

Yeah–falling in love with your life is a lot like that. Not every interest leads you to a career, or every paycheck to satisfaction, or every new experience to something you want to keep on doing, but in the end, falling in love with your life looks a lot different than you ever thought it would.

One way to ensure you never fall in love with your life is by repeating habits that are boring to you. My high school football coach always reminded, “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.” So if you’re life is boring, fruitless, mediocre, or confusing, it’s time to stop doing the same routine again and again and start trying some new things.

Not long ago I sat across a round table from a college sophomore who was answering a question I had asked the group: What makes your heart ache the most? Her answer was simple—and as tears built around her pensive eyes she released how she didn’t know what she was supposed to do with her life. She didn’t know her purpose, her plan, if her major was right, or what God was calling her to do. And it tortured her soul.

I think a lot of us are tortured by those same thoughts, caught in a place of fear, of immobility, only because we’re not sure what to do to find an answer to a question that seems like it takes a lifetime to answer.

Photo Credit: Stefano Domenici (Creative Commons)

Photo Credit: Stefano Domenici (Creative Commons)

There’s a difference between existing and living.

Someone who is existing doesn’t think much about what they’re doing, they just do it. They robotically do their job, their relationships, their faith, their everything. It’s a practiced production that holds very little meaning and often goes unchanged.

But someone who is living, is thriving. Every movement, word, and breath matters and stirs the soul to life because it’s for a purpose. And that purpose is directly plugged into having fallen in love with life. So how do you fall in love with your life?

Just go do stuff.

As an English teacher I deny my students ever using such a vague description like “stuff”, but for falling in love with your life, it’s perfect. Go do stuff. Don’t sit and wait for life to come to you, don’t expect your life to magically become awesome, don’t ever think purpose and passion suddenly writes itself on the wall for you if all you’re ever doing is waiting.

Falling in love with your life is all about doing stuff—new stuff, weird stuff, challenging stuff, uncomfortable stuff, people stuff, nature stuff, dreamy stuff, risky stuff…

And remember, not every attempt at doing stuff is going to result in instant passion and purpose—it’s going to take some dating. But here’s when you know you have found “it”, when you have fallen in love with your life: you come alive.

Your entire being screams in excitement, you want to do it over and over again, it gives you stories to tell and people to talk to, you feel it changing you, growing you, it brings a radiant beam into your smile, and when you’re doing “it” you feel as if you’re finally doing what God created you to do.

Once you find what makes you come alive, keep doing that stuff until it kills you. Too many lives have been wasted doing nothing. Too many people have died with a list of regrets. Too many geniuses have never been discovered, authors never published, art never created, adventures never romped, and people who never thrived because they chose to exist rather than to live.

You can fall in love with your life if you stop existing in the life that you are living.

Get out there. Go do some awesome stuff and fall in love with living your life.

It’s the Little Things (How to Defeat Busyness)

I’m plagued by busyness. It hollows my mind and rots my heart. There’s this voice enticing me that constant work will arrive me at a dream destination, but in reality, I find myself physically beat-up and look it too.

It’s easy to fill a schedule, to load our days with a burden ensuring future success. But to look beyond tomorrow and long for accomplishment, to pack too much on the mule, is dangerous for the beauty of today.

I bet you’ve felt symptoms like this too. Your eyes baggy, body heavy, and thoughts fixated on an agenda, unknowingly losing your attention to a world that isn’t here.

As much as hard work is a valued trait, as true as diligence is to success, busyness is not worth it if we are missing out on the little things.

Photo Credit: Noelle Buske (Creative Commons)

Photo Credit: Noelle Buske (Creative Commons)

Hard work is easier to fall in love with when the little things are what fuel the tank.

To do this, we must live in the moment, we must refocus our vision on what’s happening in us and around us.

See it while you pass between places:

See the awe of a child as they receive a monstrous mint chocolate chip ice cream cone.
See the chuckles of the old man as his golden retriever licks his face in excitement.
See the joy on the face of the college barista as the coins tink into her tip jar.
See the grin that lasts and the steps that float as the young man departs from a farewell kiss.

Feel it while you pass between moments:

The air as it lifts and lowers your hair with a swift touch of wind.
The grooves bringing the girl in the corner of the elevator to tap her foot and bob her head.
The flutter of your heart when you read a text that makes your day.
The echo of your soul when you know you’re doing what you were made to do.

We miss these moments so often because we’re not present, we’re not attentive, we’re not alive.

Author David Deida notes, “Everything you do right now ripples outward and affects everyone. Your posture can shine your heart or transmit anxiety. Your breath can radiate love or muddy the room in depression. Your glance can awaken joy. Your words can inspire freedom. Your every act can open hearts and minds.”

But if we’re lost to busyness, beaten by its consuming nature, we will not be the spark to these positive simple moments for others but instead produce negative vibes, and, we will never notice the little things ourselves.

It’s the little things that are the most beautiful moments in life. These in-betweens are what we’re working for, striving to create, but we forget them so often because hard work convinces us that we shouldn’t take the time to notice.

Stop. See. Feel. Celebrate. And live for the little things.

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