Tag Archives: Bible

The Thing Beneath The Thing

Today, for the first time in a few months, I went to church. I’m glad I did. I had a breakdown Friday night while I was with friends. I felt like I didn’t belong, that nobody cared, and that I wasn’t good enough.

Today, the pastor talked about just that and he called it “The Thing Beneath the Thing” and he used a pretty awesome metaphor to describe it.

The big thing right now is potholes. They’re everywhere and some of these potholes are turning into major sinkholes causing accidents, and even fatalities all across America. Construction companies are just re-patching them and re-paving them but the problem lies within underground pipes that are leaking which is what causes these potholes that are turning into sinkholes. He did an extensive amount of research on it.

Re patching and re-paving are only a temporary fix to a recurring problem. He used this metaphor to compare it with grace. We sprinkle a little grace on whatever is going on in our lives and call it a day. But sometimes we have to dig deeper. We have to figure out the thing beneath the thing. Once we do that, we can properly fix our “potholes” so they don’t turn into major “sinkholes.”

I wish I could say that every Christian turns to God whenever things get rough. When depression hits, when we’ve taken prescription pills or blow through a fifth a night. But reality is we don’t. We get so hung up on being sad all the time that we don’t want to lean into God and trust his word. And if you say you do, if you lean into God EVERY time  something goes wrong in your life, then you’re lying.

Sometimes, we become addicted to the sadness. Sometimes, we can’t just let go and let God.

I’ve been a walking zombie for the last couple months. I haven’t picked up my bible. I know I should, I know I should lean into His word more, but I’ve become addicted to the sadness. I’ve learned what co-dependency is and realized that I am very co-dependent. With that, I have identified my “pothole” and can properly fix it.

He wants us to lean into him when we get sad or upset. He wants us to lean into Him when we have hit a pothole in our lives, but it’s hard. Sometimes it’s easier said than done.

The pastor then started talking about Peter, and I could relate. Peter sometimes did what God wanted him to do, and other times he didn’t. Why? I don’t know. I haven’t read 1 Peter just yet, but when I do, I’m sure I can figure it out.

In 1 Peter 5:7 it flat out says what we should do. “Casting all your anxieties on Him, because he cares for you.”

When Adam and Eve took a bite of the forbidden apple their initial reaction was to literally hide from God. They were ashamed, they felt guilty.

We are hiding behind the real reason why we feel the way that we feel. Everyday events trigger us, igniting a fight or flight response and I can’t speak to you, but when that kicks in I immediately go into flight. I’ve learned how to manage it better, but I haven’t been able to overcome going into flight mode. That’s something only God can do. I am hiding from the thing beneath the thing and I can’t hide forever.

 

Photo by Marc-Olivier Jodoin on Unsplash

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How I Almost Lost My Sanity And How I Got It Back

The last couple months have been terrible.

I don’t want to get into any specifics, but I will say this.

I didn’t want to do anything and I was missing out on life.

I wanted to wake up and hit snooze every chance I had. Even though I would tell myself I wanted to be more productive.

My uncle passed away a few weeks ago. I drove out to PA to go see him (with my brother of course). I had to call off of work, which I hated doing.

I was depressed and I didn’t even realize it.

I didn’t want to keep up with the blog.

I enjoyed time with friends, but all I did was complain about how much I hated my job.

Then it happened. I had a mental breakdown. I had to make a tough decision and do what was best for me.

I was able to be with my friends, not complain about anything (for the first time in awhile), and even joke around and laugh. One of my friends even said that I was smiling so much it was beginning to creep him out.

I found out some things that I should have never found out. But I realized that God had meant for me to find those things out because He knew that I wasn’t in a good place.

He knew that I needed better, and he helped me get to that point.

God is there if you listen. God was there when I had some conversations with a few close friends and my stepmom.

The only thing I had to do was listen to the advice that was given. Which isn’t always easy.

Reality is, nothing is easy. Life is full of choices. Sometimes easy ones, mostly hard ones.

Acts 8:26-29 says “Now an angel of the Lord said to Phillip, go South to the road-the desert road-that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza. So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of the Kandake. This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship and on his way home he was sitting in his chariot reading the Book of Isaiah the prophet. The spirit told Phillip, go to that chariot and stay near it.”

We talked about this story a few weeks ago at my church group. God had told Phillip to approach someone and have a conversation with someone at this chariot. A man that Phillip had never met, that he didn’t even know. I can’t say what was running through Phillips mine but I know that I would never be able to approach a random person and start having a conversation with them.

However, Phillip obeyed. And great things came out of it (you should read the full story!) because Phillip had obeyed.

I was in the same situation with different circumstances.

However, like Phillip, I had to listen to the advice that was given to me. If you ask for advice, but don’t listen to it, chances are the results are going to be disastrous. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.

My point is, if you put yourself first once in awhile and do whats best for you, you’ll be better off. You’ll be a lot happier, you’ll appreciate things on a level much deeper than you could ever comprehend.

I’m not missing my brothers graduation.

I’m going to Cedar Point.

I refuse to miss out on my own life.

Photo by Dmitry Ratushny on Unsplash

 

 

 

How Paul Listened and Trusted God

So, we left off when Paul stood in front of King Agrippa and shared his story. Now, Paul is setting sail for Rome to go in front of Nero. Since that is what he appealed for.

On his journey to Rome, they had come across a storm. Paul even predicted the storm in Acts 27:10 “Men, I can see that our voyage is going to be disastrous and bring great loss to ship and cargo, and to our own lives also.” However, nobody wanted to listen to Paul and they set sail directly into the storm.

However, what happens next is pretty awesome.

Paul tells them that they should have listened to him, but lives would be spared. “But now I urge you to keep your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. Last night an angel of the God to whom I serve stood beside me and said Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you. So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me.” (Acts 27:22-25).

The ship does wreck, but everyone does reach land safely. Only because Paul trusted the Lord, and he listened.

He trusted. 

I want to take a moment to acknowledge that trusting in God is a lot easier said than done. As humans, we want proof that something exists. We want immediate answers, and some of us (myself included) wants direct communication with God like the angel coming to Paul.

Prayer is communication, but we don’t always get an immediate response. It’s like playing phone tag with someone for about a week before you actually get a hold of that person.

However, prayer is essential. Trusting in God is essential. Without faith, we are nothing. Trusting in the unseen is basically what defines faith. I’ve made this argument before, and I’ll make it again.

We can’t see the wind, but we can feel it. We can see the effects wind has on the trees, us, the leaves.

We can’t see our internal organs, but we know they’re there. We know that they are functioning to keep us alive and breathing.

Just because we can’t see something, doesn’t mean it’s not there and that we shouldn’t trust in it.

Hebrews 11:1 says “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

2 Corinthians 5:7 says “For we walk by faith, not by sight.”

 

Paul and his crew were in a crisis. But Paul knew what to do like it was second nature, because he trusted in God. Paul was walking by faith. I can honestly say that with prayer, and reading the word, knowing what to do when life gets you down will become second nature.

God doesn’t create our downfalls, he uses them for the better. He uses them so that we can know Him and trust Him. In the midst of tragedy, there is always something beautiful that can be taken from it. However, our eyes have to be open and we have to be awake if we want to take that beauty from the tragedy.

Are your eyes open? Do you trust in Him?

Photo by Nathan Pirkle on Unsplash

 

What Paul Can Teach Us About Reflections

I finally bought a planner yesterday and have my week planned out until Sunday. How refreshing it is to have something that helps me to stay on task.

Today, we are going to be looking at Acts 26 where Paul is standing in front of King Agrippa over some charges in which Paul was innocent. The charge basically boils down to spreading the news of Jesus and the Gospel.

Acts 26:9-11 is probably one of my favorite verses.

“I too was convinced that I ought to do all that was possible to oppose the name of Jesus of Nazareth. And that is just what I did in Jerusalem. On the authority of the chief priests I put many of the Lord’s people in prison, and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them. Many a time I went from one synagogue to another to have them punished, and I tried to force them to blaspheme. I was so obsessed with persecuting them that I even hunted them down in foreign cities.”

Reading this passage almost makes me think of a bounty hunter. Except with a bounty hunter, they are hunting for people that haven’t paid off their bail bonds. Not their faith.

However, one of the many reasons why I love Paul is that he’s not afraid to admit what kind of person he was before his conversation with Jesus. It’s almost like he’s not ashamed. He admits that this was the kind of person that he was. However, if you read on, Paul tells King Agrippa about his encounter with Jesus. What happened, and the person that he became after his encounter with Jesus.

I think it’s important that we reflect on who we were before coming to Christ every once in awhile. It’s a reminder of who we were before and what we don’t want to be like. I think it’s important that we compare who we were to who we are now as a way to see how much we’ve grown.

People say we should forget our old selves because that’s not who we are anymore, but if we do that, we won’t know what we don’t want to be.

I’m still early in recovery, and I get these thoughts daily. “You’re not an alcoholic. You’re just fine.” If I want to keep my sobriety, then I have to analyze how I drank in the past.

Not only that, but constantly remembering who we were and comparing it to who we are now helps make for a great testimony. We can record what we were like, and what we are like now.

It’s like we made a copy of ourselves. Same features. Same eyes. Same hair. We’re looking at the copy of ourselves, and they look back at us. We look at our old self and see the suffering on their face. It’s a reminder of what led us to the suffering and what brought us out. What led is to God.

“After they left the room, they began saying to one another: This man is not doing anything that deserves death or imprisonment. Agrippa said to Festus, This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to Ceaser.” Acts 26:31-32

I’m not sure why Paul could have been set free if he had not appealed to Ceaser, but one thing I do know. Paul wasn’t imprisoned at that moment. Paul didn’t die. Paul was doing the same thing other people were doing when Paul was persecuting them.

2 Corinthians 5:7 says “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” 

Paul wanted to appeal to Ceaser. Paul used to work for Ceaser, persecuting people in Ceaser’s name. Do you see how this could have gone so wrong?

Instead, he was sentenced back to Rome, which I guess is more like a parole/house arrest type thing. I’m not 100% sure but we will get more into that next time.

Photo by Brandon Wong on Unsplash

In the Midst of Persecution, God Was Still There

There are many events that have occurred in history where people were persecuted for their faith, skin color, and even culture.

Jewish people were killed during the holocaust because of the fact they were jewish. People who tried to save them from Hitler’s concentration camps could get severely punished if they were caught.

Back when slavery was (unfortunately) a thing, the Underground Railroad had developed. The brave men and women who escaped their “owners” could get persecuted if they were caught, and those involved with the Underground Railroad and helping to free these men and women could get persecuted just by helping them.

Note: I am not trying to undermine these events, or the people who had to endure the tremendous suffering they had to go through. I am not trying to undermine their feelings when I talk about those horrific events. 

Even today in some countries, people can get persecuted just for reading this blog post. It’s a sad thing that happens.

Those are just a few examples. It’s sad that both events happened because NOBODY should be punished for their faith, skin color, culture, etc.

When Paul was preaching, Caeser was king. What Caeser said, went. There were no ways around it and if Caeser wasn’t pleased, you were punished. This is what happened when Paul went to Thessolonica.

Paul started preaching about Jesus and His resurrection. Some people believed him, others didn’t. Others got mad because Paul was defying Caeser.

Paul and his friends found refuge in a man named Jason. Jason opened his doors to Paul, Timothy, and Silas. Knowing that Jason could get in huge trouble for harboring Christians in the name of Caeser.

When authorities found out about this from those who were angry at Paul for preaching the Gospel, they were irritated. “But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some other believers before the city officials, shouting “These men who have caused trouble all over the world have no come here, and Jason has welcomed them into his house. They are all defying Caeser’s decrees, saying that there is another king, one called Jesus.” Acts 17:6-7.

They were arrested. Bond was posted, and other believers helped Paul, Silas, and Timothy to flee to Berea to continue to share the Gospel.

They were persecuted for sharing the truth!

Jason risked persecution just by helping a fellow Christian.

However, God never left Paul and his friends. God provided a way out through Jason. They were released on bond, and they fled.

Even though you may be feeling alone right now, know that God doesn’t leave you, forsake you, or abandon you. In the times when I feel like I can’t feel him, I pray. He WILL make Himself known, if you open your eyes and your ears and LISTEN.

Photo by Claudia Soraya on Unsplash

The Motivation (Or Lack Thereof)

I’ve been blogging less and less. I’ve written for the Odyssey online, I have written for puckermob, and I started this. Odyssey and Puckermob just fell apart. I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t let this blog become one of those things that I’d start and forget about a month later.

I’ve been enjoying writing these blogs. It gives people inspiration and hope. My words have the ability to impact people in ways that I would have never imagined.

I’ve been thinking about putting myself on a schedule throughout the week. Getting a planner and writing out everything I have to do for the day. Word for word. Bills I have to pay, meetings I should attend to, days I have to work, days I have classes, what time I should be up by, etc etc.

I don’t have a planner yet. So everything I’ve been doing is from mental memory. Yesterday I got up at 8 A.M. I felt really accomplished (anyone who knows me knows that I am typically NOT a morning person). I got my car cleaned out and my room cleaned. Went to two AA meetings back to back and went to school to take my exam. I felt really productive and proud.

Today I woke up at around noon and barely got anything done. I got my budget worked out (bye bye internet streaming services *cough cough Netflix cough cough*) and my student loan paperwork completed, however I wasn’t able to turn in it to my schools financial aid office.

But today, I found out I am closer to getting my degree than I thought I was. I have about a year and a half left. That’s because I kept pushing, I kept striving, and I didn’t let the fear of student loans get to me. Even though I have changed my major roughly three times (which isn’t uncommon; if you are in the same boat, DO NOT feel guilty). I am so close to being done.

None of this would have happened if I didn’t sober up. If I was still out drinking, I wouldn’t have come to know God. I wouldn’t have been able to continuously share my story with people. I wouldn’t have been able to come as far as I have and that’s really important.

I’ve been watching a movie called 5 to 7 a lot lately, and one of my favorite quotes from that movie is “Progress is not linear.”

It’s not. Life is just a giant course of trial and error. If something doesn’t work, we try it again in a different way and make the same errors.

I feel like we have to hit a certain bottom before we rise to the surface. My charge was my bottom. This is why Paul is one of my favorite characters in the bible because Paul PERSECUTED Christians in his time. He had a specific encounter with God. In Acts 9:4, the Lord asks “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

That conversation that Paul had with the Lord changed his life. It changed his life so much that even his name was changed. To learn more of the story please read my blog post From Saul to Paul: The Beginning.

Do I want to do things other than sit for an hour and read the Word? Absolutely. I’m sure every Christian feels that way at some point. However, it’s a really bad habit to get into because when we should be studying the Word is when we aren’t feeling motivated.

 

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

 

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

It’s been a few days since I’ve posted, and I can’t believe I let myself stay in my own head for so long.

I didn’t want to do anything. I didn’t want to work, I didn’t want to go to school, I didn’t want to do homework. I wanted to lay in bed and sleep.

Friday morning before I went to work, I managed to muster up the energy to attend an AA meeting at noon. There, I had a mental breakdown. I cried and I cried and I cried. I didn’t know why I was crying, but I was.

I got to work, and I was trying not to cry but a few tears slipped here and there. By the end of the night though, things were starting to feel okay for me.

Last night, I got off work early enough to make a midnight AA meeting and I’m glad I did. I was so excited on my way home after work when I realized I could make it to this meeting. I didn’t feel alone anymore. I didn’t want to isolate myself anymore. I didn’t want to be lazy anymore.

They say you need to do things that make you happy, but how can someone muster up the energy when they’re depressed and don’t want to?

This is the entire point. You can have the greatest relationship with God all day long, but what you let happen to yourself when you’re upset will test that. When I’m feeling depressed, I should lean into God even more (I may have not looked up any verses that would help get me through, but I sure prayed). The midnight AA meeting was the answer to those prayers.

As I’m writing this, the verse of the day on my bible app just popped up, and I’m going to share it with you because I think it fits the subject.

“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” -Psalms 119:105

Light will always overpower the darkness, no matter what. There are going to be days where I don’t feel like it will be, but I believe that things are going to work out. I believe that I will be okay.

 

Photo by Simon Launay on Unsplash