He Knows Jesus

I just found out that my friend Nick​ passed away last night. Already I can see the impact it’s having on people. The droves posting their condolences and “I’ll miss you’s” on his facebook page. Nick and I had the opportunity to visit for several hours in my living room just a few short weeks ago. We had gathered with a small group of people to talk about the desire to know God better. A desire he definitely had. We also talked about his amazing friends (whom he was super quick to brag on). Nick knew Jesus. He didn’t understand all of the religious does and don’ts and he wasn’t interested in them. He knew Jesus. He captured this video a few months ago while at a Korn concert. In a lot of ways it reflects his story. And now it reflects his future. He knows Jesus.

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What I Wish You Knew . . .

I wish you knew

We’re selfish. By nature. We don’t understand when others get things we don’t. We don’t know why everything can’t be fair. And in the classroom, sometimes, I hear a lot of complaining about that. But I am your teacher, and I wish you knew . . .

  • That student left class early because they are on the way to a meeting with their oncologist to discuss new treatment options.
  • I know who is cheating.  I know how too.  But I also know you will learn a valuable lesson on test day when you can’t cheat and you still have to be able to answer the question. Or, you won’t learn that lesson at all and get what you deserve.
  • I accepted that student’s homework late because her child has been at Children’s for the last week and a half.
  • I ignored that student’s question because I know she missed what I said the last ten minutes of class because she was playing on her phone.
  • Your classmate gets to borrow my book because although she bought one she can no longer access it.  Why? Because she had to flee an abusive relationship and left all her possessions in the process.
  • That student who seems to be understanding everything in class has spent three hours in my office this week.
  • That student wears long sleeves in class because he has had so much blood work this month he looks like an addict.  And they still don’t know what is making him sick.  Please don’t bother him about his clothing choice.
  • The reason your classmate cried when they got their paper back is it was their first time taking a test with new accommodations and they just made their first C (their highest grade) on a math test ever.
  • That student sleeps in class sometimes because he just finished working four twelve hour shifts.
  • I really don’t know where that student in your class went.  They haven’t responded to any of my attempts to contact them and I am very worried.
  • I take my job seriously.  I chose this job.  Most week’s I cry more tears for you than my own children.
  • You’ll never know the sacrifices my family makes for me to be here.
  • You’ll never know what the person beside you is going through.

Maybe that’s a good thing?  I want you to learn to be sympathetic to others without having to know how hard it is for them.  I want you to get to spend your time here without the worries they have.  I want you to know I understand you have bad days too.  Because one day you are going to face the tough stuff.  One day you will understand the struggles of #adulting aren’t wearing pants and paying for your own cell phone. #adulting is having a clear vision of the big picture (the good, the bad, the ugly) and still getting up and putting your pants on.  It’s admitting you can’t do it on your own and submitting every day to the One Who Can.  Oh and it’s praying.  It’s a LOT of praying.

Not Even A Little Bit

 
How much does God want to see you suffer? Not even a little bit.

He is for, beside, around, inside you. A lot. It’s his peace that carries you past the point of understanding the incomprehensible. His joy that flexes in the face of the frailty of our fear.

How much does God want to see you fail? Not even a little bit.

His Word is the way that lights up our every possible step. It shines into our every season. His Spirit is the still the small voice that pierces uncertainty and calms the raging of tumultuous emotion. 

How much does God want to see you quit? Not even a little bit.

His hope is our help. His Son is our sure thing. His favor our final word. His Church is our cheerleader. His mission is our motivation.

God wants every bit of who you are to love and lean into him. How much is he willing to leave to you for yourself? Not even a little bit.

Hindsight: Add Value

 
I’m older today. Though not exactly old. This last year has brought a few unexpected, yet God-ordained, transitions that have been wonderful blessings in their own right. I’ve learned a lot of stuff in my life. But it all boils down to this.

Learn how to add value to people’s lives and you will never be without friends, job, cause to live for, something that matters, purpose that wakes you up in the morning, and a reason to keep on breathing.

Life is about more than just yourself. Life is about more than having the latest things, wearing the latest things, driving the latest things, knowing the latest things. Life—and the only thing that really matters right when you boil it all down to the bare essentials—is all about connecting to others, and helping others connect to God. The best, broadest, purest, and the simplest way is to learn to live, love, and add value to another person’s life.

Life lived for yourself is a roller coaster, up one day and down the next—good and bad, great and worse. But life lived for others is never about you. It keeps the eye on the prize. It keeps the main thing the main thing.

You can never go wrong not living for yourself. You can never go wrong putting others first.

Another word we use for that sometimes is humility. Sometimes people think humility is about thinking less of yourself. That’s not true. Humility is about thinking of yourself less.

What could be more humbling than a life lived in pursuit of adding value to the lives of others. Agree?
Thanks for reading. God bless.

Living Water

  Man, there are few things more difficult than being thirsty for a prolonged period of time. Probably many of us have never really had to face true thirst. Especially dangerous life threatening thirst. 

When I think I’m thirsty my first craving is for a Dr. Pepper or good old southern sweet tea. When I was a kid working in the hay field or watermelon patch with my dad there was nothing more satisfying than a tall cold glass of water.

Have you ever found yourself thirsty inside? That’s thirst on an entirely different level. It’s life threatening all the same. At the core of our soul. 

Maybe you didn’t articulate it that way—but the acknowledgement for something more was present like an inexplicable craving or yearning. 

Do you believe in Jesus? He told us he was that kind of satisfaction. 

On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” ‭‭(John‬ ‭7:37-38‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

He made it really simple too. If you’re thirsty go to him. How? Believe.

He is living water. (Check out the fourth chapter in John’s Gospel for some more on that). 

He also said, that when we believe in him that same kind of living giving spirit would flow through us. We’re not just receptacles. We’re channels. 

Jesus himself saves, quenches, and supplies us with life inside—and desires that we might share it with all. 

That should impact is in the day to day stuff. Make us love bigger and better. Help us to speak with a kindness that is uplifting, work hard, and give selflessly. Basically, we should be refreshing to anyone and everyone we’re around. 

How’s that working out for you?

Thanks for reading! We’re always interested in hearing from you in the comments. ~ Nate

Zacapa 2015: Loving People On a Not-So-Lonely Mountain

 I hear crickets. Dogs call to each other across the ridges. A turkey gobbles off in the distance. The huge leaves of the banana tree my hammock is perched in on the side of this mountain rustle with the never ending breeze. After a scorching week in the sun the coolness of the continuous flow of wind borders on miraculous.

It has been a week of weeks. Our team has been outstanding. They work and play with an energetic tenacity on par with their vivacious faith. Grace drips from these people like the sweat they have shed for seven days.

We have been to school after school playing with kids, performing skits, praying, speaking, loving. We have visited small churches, in the remote places of the Guatemalan Mountains where our people have preached the love of Jesus. We have given away food. We have built a wall. We have built a road. We’ve been busy. It’s been good.

Busy and good are not always words I like to put together—but accomplishing the work, sharing the good news, and serving my friend Greg’s ministry are both. Because busy can be good when it is purpose driven.

As I lay in my hammock staring out across the expanse of darkness at the closest ridge I can see the humble twinkle of distant village homes. The places that house the beautiful people of Guatemala.

I can rest full of faith in the one who sent us. I can sleep soundly satisfied in our pursuit of purpose. I never enjoy leaving my family behind—and under different circumstances would probably bring them—but even in my homesickness I can rest in the peace of God.

In Matthew 5:14-16 Jesus declares his followers to be as a shining city on a far dark night. That’s our job. To take hope with us. We partner with powerful people of God in needed places. We are Gondor in the midst of Mordor. We are beacons among burdens—and bonfires among chilling darkness.

I have burned in my heart the desire to go to far places and far people because, as A.W. Tozer penned, “if my fire is not large it is yet real, and there may be those who can light their candle at its flame.”

100 Days of Awesome: Day 4 – Franks with Friends

100 Days of Awesome is about helping people. It’s about unleashing, recognizing, realizing, and living in your awesomeness. You are awesome. It’s so true. Maybe sometimes more so than you even know—and at other times less so than you think. Take the challenge. Join the adventure. Dedicate an hour a day to being awesome by making someone else’s life more awesome. Post your stories. Share your adventure. I’d love to hear all about it. You can follow along with my 100 Days of Awesome everyday right here.

Thanks for reading!

  
Sometimes you just need to fire up the ol’ grill and cook some hotdogs. Today was absolutely one of those days. But what makes a frank even better is when you’re grilling it up for a friend.

Out pal Tosha just graduated from college. She has overcame some truly amazing obstacles for someone so young. And we wanted to celebrate her and her accomplishments. So my awesome wife came up with the idea that we should grill hotdogs. 

My wife hates hotdogs. Like for real.

But that’s part of what makes this awesome. She bought the hotdogs, invited our friend. Planned the whole thing. Eating with people is awesome.

Celebrating people is more awesome.

Celebrate somebody today. Now, I need to go eat some hotdogs. 

Stay awesome!