Friday, December 4, 2015

Life is Not As Hard As We Make It: Zack's Testimony

Why do we do what we do?  Why do we go to church? Why do we love people? Why do we hate people? Why do we drink or smoke? Why do we live the way that we live, or is it even the way that we want to be living? We do what we want to and live the way we chose to live for many different reasons.  Some of us do it because we are depressed, some because we are simply bored.  I want to share with you guys a little bit about my story and how my life has began to change.
I grew up going to church every Sunday.  My parents are both saved.  I was expected to behave and treat other people with respect.  As I got older I wanted to fit in.  I started becoming a fake person and leaving old friendships for new ones.  
High school came around and I wanted to become someone that I wasn't to fit in.  I had a lot of fun doing this in the moment, but eventually I became miserable.   I began drinking.  I couldn't do any drugs in high school because the school that I went to drug tested.  
Once I graduated I began messing around with a lot of different drugs.  Pretty much anything I could get my hands on.  I started to become depressed and confused.  I was confused because I didn't want to be doing the things I was doing, but continued to go back to the same old things.  I would ask for help from youth ministers, friends, or anyone that would listen.  I would listen to what they would tell me, but I would never put it into action. When I was 19,  I remember one particular person telling me that they wish that they would’ve stopped living the lifestyle that they had lived when they were my age.  That person was 23 at that time.  I am now 23 and wish that I would’ve listened to them at 19.  Its funny how I have always had to learn from my own mistakes.  
If I would’ve listened to that person I wouldn’t have ended up in rehab, and I would’ve saved myself from a lot of other misery.  I always struggled with wanting to fit in.  I would do anything to fit in.  Deep down I knew what I was doing was wrong, but I would fight those feelings for temporary happiness.  
At the age of 20 my family moved to Spanish Fort, Alabama.  I struggled with pride a lot at this point in my life.  I thought that I was better than other people because of the things that I had.  I realized that my pride was a problem and I asked the Lord to help me with it.  Sometime after that my mom sat me down and told me that we were going through some financial problems.  I was so mad at God.  How could he do this to my family?  I started to hate God.  I wondered how my family could stay faithful to God when He did something like this to my family.  I got involved doing the same things that I was doing back in Montgomery.  That wasn't the only reason that I continued doing the same things, but it was one of the reasons.  I often would go out and do certain things because I was mad at God for the financial situation that I was going through.   
I got so caught up in the lifestyle that I started doing things that I never thought I would be doing, and I was okay with it.  Around this time my brother Garrett got saved.  I thought it was just a phase.  He got sober too.  I was proud of him, but never thought it would last.  My cousin was going to Atlanta Leadership College at the time and insisted that Garrett come tour the school.  I ended up tagging along to tour the school back in April.  I had no intentions of going to the school at all.  I wanted to come to Atlanta to party and go out to the bars while Garrett toured the school.  
God wrecked me while I was at experience.  Experience is when you tour ALC.  
I came home with the intentions of staying sober forever and living for God.   Hahaha, I was so wrong.  I knew that God wanted me to go to ALC, but after a couple of weeks of being back home I was doing the same ole stuff, and I didn’t care.  I got so far back into my old ways that I was telling Satan that I didn't care what he did with me as long as I got what I wanted.  It wasn’t until the day before I came to ALC that I stopped drinking and doing other things I was doing.  I wouldn’t have stopped then if I had had to.  
Since I’ve been here I decided to finally live for the Lord, it’s not easy, but I will say it’s better than before.  I don’t wake up daily overflowing with happiness, but I also don't wake up with a million regrets.  I’m not writing this whole message to try to convert all of you or try to push my faith on any of you.  I just want you to think.
We all go through life with ups and downs.  We wonder why life is so bad, but when it’s good we don't think anything of it.  We live our lives doing what we want when we want.  Some of you may have had similar backgrounds or stories to mine.  Some of you may have struggled or are struggling with different things.  Do you want your life to get better? Or are you happy the way it is?  God isn’t going to make you want to live differently one day.  He gives us free will.  Whether we chose to walk with him or not it’s all up to us.  All we have to do is ask, and mean it.   Don’t compare your life to others around you because you are your own person.  If you’re not happy with the way that your life is going then do something to change it, but don’t sit around like I did waiting for change to come to me because change will never come until you do something about it.
Don’t ever think that you have messed up too much for the Lord to have your back or for the Lord to want you.  If he wanted me after all of the things that I did (most of which I didn’t even list above), then he will want you too.  I was so far off that I was telling Satan to have his way in my life.  God loves us people.   He has freed me from so many things: depression, addiction, suicidal thoughts, and even more.  Yes, I still wake up and have some days where I want to do the same things I was doing before, but it's a daily walk.  I have to rely on Him daily.  God’s love is something that everyone always told me about.  I've always known that He loved me, but I never fully understood it until now.  It's almost like when you take your dog outside to use the bathroom, and then they come inside and use the bathroom.  We would punish our dog and put them in time out.   If we were dogs and God was the pet owner he would love on us when we do wrong and tell us it's okay.  Yes, it disappoints Him, but he still loves us and wants us as his.  “Who am I to accept this grace that just falls like rain?... ‘Cause we all know I chose to lay my head in this desert.”
If you guys have any deeper questions please message me. I’d love to talk to you about whatever it may be, or even share my full story with you.  If you’re struggling with anything like I was or anything else that you may keep from other people I encourage you to share it with someone.  Don’t share it with everyone, but to someone that you can trust so you can move forward, because keeping it in the dark will only torture you more and make things much worse. It hasn't made my life better overnight, but it has helped me.  Also please don’t take this as me trying to act like I have it all together now because I don’t.  AT ALL.  I just want all of you to experience.  Love you guys.  Please share this.





Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Why Living In The NOW should be your daily goal!




Our minds are constantly racing. A fact every human being experiences to be true. Think of this moment as a brief example. Relax and feel your breath and body and be as present as you can be. You'll notice very quickly that thoughts about the future such as, "I need to get this done" "What should I eat for lunch" other thoughts and critics such as "This is boring" "Im uncomfortable in this position" or thoughts about the past. Either way it is the same, the mind is never truly 'here' it is always seeking to be somewhere else, some distant future that seems better than the present one, but once you get there its just another 'Now'.

As a follower of Christ, imagine how your personal life would look like if you lived in the present as intentionally as you could? This answer may vary, but one thing that is sure is that we would hear and know God's voice and will in every scenario. Being present isn't just a fancy term nor a grandous philosophy. It is a life of intention and alertness. When you are present in a conversation you are fully there and both you and the other individual get something out of it. Being fully 'there' at work no matter the condition. Being fully 'there' in alone times, rather for studies, prayer, or tasks. When the family is gathered together in the living room, imagine the increase in relationship and intimacy you can create when you are present and fully 'here' Now.

Taking a look at the ministry of Jesus Christ, every moment was a significant one. Rather he relaxed on a Well and decided to engage in a conversation with a Samaritan women, who as we all know, became saved and touched by the Father after. Rather He was confronted by a Pharisee in the middle of a discussion with civilians. He remained centered and allowed the Spirit to move through Him and speak the Father's words. When men or women needed healing, He was there. When men and women cried to him for a plea only He could solve, He was there and fully engaged. The lifestyle of Jesus shows an intense focus towards the will of the Father and the opportunities to meet such needs. Jesus wasn't living in his head; critiquing and daydreaming about being elsewhere. He was intent and had his eyes set on others. Ephesians 5:15 says "Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise. Making the best use of the times because the days are evil." It is God's will for us to have to be fully alert and awake so we may hear his voice and move towards the needs of others.

Living in the Present isn't a feel-good New Age concept. In fact it isn't always pleasant. It forces you to begin embracing and facing your struggles and weaknesses head-on. To have an alert and open eye towards all aspects of your life rather it is outside or within. People who live more in the future than they do in the present unconsciously ignore their opportunities to grow and take action towards their goals. They have goals, dreams, and aspiring desires, but they end up living more inside their heads than they do in the now. Because of this, opportunities pass by, and the lack of discernment keeps such a person from learning the daily lesson of the day that will serve importance in the future. People who live in the past create more of it in the present. They remain in bondage to a never ending cycle that whispers "This is the way its always going to be." No matter what their attachment may be, it is the same cycle for all who hold on to the past.

Your life depends on your focus and intense presence in the Now. Your career, relationships, health, well-being, spiritual life, and mental life are all a result of the decisions you make rather consciously or unconsciously. Many struggle with addictions and destructive though-patterns that seem to get worst as such a person grows older. Why is that? Is it just the way it is? Is it the way God made you? of course not. On a psychological level, a habit grows stronger and stronger the more a person repeats it. Before we know it, our subconscious mind has been conditioned and almost all of your actions are unconsciously birthed out of the condition. As if one was a robot. For many of us, we tend to ignore habits we are doing now that will destroy us in the future. By the time we become conscious of it, its tough to break by such a time because of its subconscious roots. Thank God for the grace and power when we choose to dwell with the Holy Spirit. The more we dwell with Him, the more the light shines on areas that slow down our progress. The more we submit and flesh out those habits or thought patterns, the more we reap peace and positive fruit. But we cannot bear fruit unless we become intensely focused on His will and what He is doing around us Now. Not tomorrow, not next year, nor a prophetic word given to you but Now.

To conclude, This moment is all you have. Techniques such as Meditation, Prayer, reading, accurate reflection and self-evaluation will train your mind to be sharper and clear. The clearer your mind is, the more present you are, and the more present you are, the more you 'know' God is here. Don't allow your life to pass you by. Face fears that you have been avoiding, flesh out habits you have been procrastinating to confront, and most of all live your life fully and intensively now!
  





Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Run!

Run!

That silent demon
Like parasite consumption
Grab a hold of your thoughts
In its wrath, it controls your functions.

Flesh. It screams. Keep going. Keep going.
You’ve got nothing to lose. It’s already growing.
He’s watching you. You’re falling.
Deeper and deeper.

Run! No…no..not away from Me. TO Me.
My child, can’t you see?
You’re trying to fight this battle, without Me.
One blow and you’re knocked out, cold.

Run! TO Me.
Call unto Me!
Look at My Hand! Reach!
You yearn to scream out for Me, I know it.
But that pride…that pride, you show it.

That silence. My child, break free.
Come to Me.
I am your refuge, your rock.
Why hide? Why?
I know you. I’m no stranger.
From my Hands I created you.
Stop looking back. Stop looking away.
Don’t hide your face.
Look at Me.

You think I can’t see?
Stop trying to avoid in order to fill A void
Only with Me will it be filled.
Talk to Me.

Say it. Say the word.
Lust.
You’re fighting it, I know.
Open up to Me.
I want to see you grow.

The next time Lust knocks on your door,
Run! TO Me. Not away from Me.
Dependence upon Me is all you need.
My child, stay with Me.

I love you.
Believe Me.
I just want to take you in My arms.
You don’t have to hide.
My child, you are Mine.

Run! TO Me.