It Is More Blessed to Give Than Receive

You have probably heard that phrase before, but didn't think much about it. However, last night this simple phrase ended up finding it's way into my life in a very practical way. You see, I started driving for Uber 2 years ago. I've given over a thousand rides, each one being a good experience. I have never had a terrible experience driving, and I have had the pleasure of getting to meet a ton of great people. Some just traveling for business, others for pleasure, and others for reasons like car trouble, or inability to physically drive. You see, when I signed up to be an Uber driver, I was telling the company and future pasengers that I would help them get from point A, to point B safely. I never thought that I could use the app as a tool for ministry, or to make somebody's holiday extra special, until last night.

While on another trip with a passenger, I got a call from my next ride request saying that they needed to make a special request. Could I possibly take them to Home Depot to get a tree for their struggling family (parents) for Christmas? I obliged, and said, "No problem. Sure." Then wheels started turning in my head. The passenger that I was with at the time was complaining much. lol. Not sure why, but she seemed to be having a hard day. While many proclaim this as the "Most wonderful time of the year, for many there is struggle, difficulty, hardship, etc. The least I could do this night, was help to make their Christmas a more special one, by letting them get a tree, and helping to deliver it back to their apartment.

So, when I arrived at their place, they got in the vechile and were super polite, appreciative and thankful that I was willing to do this for them. I said, "This isn't always the happiest time for many. It's the least I could do." As we pulled into the parking lot of the shopping center I stopped the Uber app at the request of the passenger because they didn't have much money on their credit card. That wasn't a big deal for me. They offered to give me cash as a tip. We arrived at Home Depot and I let them out to shop around for a tree. Then I drove over and parked beside the tent where the trees were being cut and wrapped.

We got the tree loaded up, and as I was getting back in the car I realized, it takes a lot of humility to be able to share your struggles with somebody. They even told the person working at Home Depot their story and how they were having a rough time. Turns out the folks at Home Depot gave them the tree for free. I love generosity, even from the public. You see, I didn't need to preach to them or tell them I was the best Christian in the world. They saw it through my actions. (I had my Forest Hill Church hoodie on) What would they have though if i didn't oblige to their request then?

I don't write all this so you will think about how great of a person that I am. I write this to remind you. People are struggling. You don't know how blessed you are. God loves you more than you'll ever know. So share yourself, your time, or your money this Christmas season. Or any time of year for that matter. The world needs to see the Christian community love more. Let's do that this season. You don't know how much it might mean, but i'll tell you, God's proud of You when you let Him use you.

The Lord Gives, and the Lord Takes Away

Photographer: Joe Cavazos
Mission, Texas

I was just thinking about this year and how there have been some changes in different areas of my life. There are always seasons of life that catch you off guard, but it really feels like a majority of 2017 has been that way for me. Here's just a few of the changes that I have experienced this year.

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This Year's Goal(s)

Don't waste your time making goals you won't keep this year. Start by thinking through reasonable goals that you can keep. If you keep trying to accomplish the same goals year after year, eventually you will fail at many of them.

So, why am I even writing about goals right now?

Becuase I want this year to have meaning. I want to accomplish things with my life.

What goals do you have for the year, you might be asking. Well, without further ado...here they are. In no particular order.

1. Visit (walk) every mile of the Mecklenburg County Greenway System

2. Stand Firm (focus on sexual purity) 

3. Read 52 books using Tim Challies' reading plan

Saturday Morning Inspiration // #004

One of the benefits of social media is that it provides endless avenues to explore the world and connect with people. But it can also foster unbridled vanity. In this session, Nathan W. Bingham will discuss the value of social media and the problem of narcissism.
This message is from our 2016 West Coast Conference, The Gospel: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL30acyfm60fXZb06TtmXybbhwOPnhy-6l
Purchase this conference as a digital download: http://www.ligonier.org/store/2016-west-coast-conference-download/
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Saturday Morning Inspiration // #003

These are in no particular order:

1. Prayer is not just an invitation, but a command.

2. Not every “impression” and “feeling” and “interrupted thought” during prayer is God speaking to you.

3. Reading books on prayer is great, but they won’t help much if you don’t actually pray.

4. There’s no such thing as an “unanswered prayer.” God answers every prayer with yes, no, or later.

5. Private prayer is not enough. Attend your church’s prayer meeting, prayer with people in your small group, etc.

6. Public prayer is not enough. Pray in private.

7. To start prayer with praise is commendable, but not a pre-requisite. Sometimes, life is too hard, and you can start with tears or screams or whatever is on your heart.

8. Listen to trusted Christian friends when they pray and learn from them.

9. Prayer while driving is helpful, but can be a distraction. Set up a place and time for intimacy.

10. Don’t pray, “Lord, please bless this food as nourishment to my body” if you’re eating pizza and french fries for dinner4.

11. Never become so holy that you outgrow your need to pray the Lord’s Prayer.

12. Pray for wisdom – about everything (James 1:5). This will change your life.

13. When people ask you to pray for them, pray for them right then and there, on the spot, if you can.

14. There’s no better way to start the day than in prayer.

15. There’s no better way to end the day than in prayer.

16. Feelings can’t be trusted. This is especially true during prayer.

17. Meditate on Scripture before prayer as a bridge into prayer.

18. Prayer doesn’t have to start with praise, but it should end there.1

19. If you don’t pray regularly in private, you might hear about Christian joy, but you won’t experience it.1

20. Don’t beat yourself up if you skip your devotional prayer here and there.

21. Don’t try to impress God in prayer. You can’t fool him, anyway.

22. Tell God all of your feelings when you’re frustrated. Don’t worry: he can handle it.2

23. Consider using the PrayerMate app.

24. Don’t let anyone pick on you for using lists, note cards, or apps. Some of us are wired this way.

25. Your prayers matter. As John Piper says, “Prayer causes things to happen that wouldn’t happen if you didn’t pray.”

(via: http://gospelrelevance.com/)

Saturday Morning Inspiration // #002

This is a short piece that explores the concept of originality.

The topic is full of wonder, conflict, excitement, and subjectivity. For many, originality means drawing inspiration from a variety of sources to create a new idea. The script for “Original” is meant to be an adaptation of this belief; proving that unique ideas can be inspired by existing concepts, objects and experiences. This piece achieves this by combining influential quotes from the world’s most creative minds over the past five decades (Pablo Picasso, Jim Jarmusch, Woodrow, Wilson, Lincoln Steffens, Dieter Rams, Jean Luc Godard etc.) to create a single narrative that defines what it means to be original.

Motionographer Feature and BTS: motionographer.com/2015/01/21/what-it-takes-to-be-original/

Saturday Morning Inspiration // #001

“A Whisper in the Chaos” is a film about God defying all expectations. Whether it’s how he reveals himself, how he speaks to us or who he’s chosen. He knows your name and he knows your story. Lean in and listen. He’s whispering to you.

2016 Reading Challenge

I love books. I have always loved them. I read 39 books last year. I read 28 books in 2014, 31 books in 2013, 13 books in 2012, and 16 in 2011. Before Goodreads existed I wasn't able to keep track of how many books I read via a social media site, so it didn't matter enough to me to keep track of what I was reading. During my lifetime I have always had books around the house, or the desire to visit a store to buy more. 

This year I would like to read more than I did in the previous year. My goal this year is to read 52 books. A guy I follow online by the name of Tim Challies, put a challenge out there to read more than you read in the previous year. I took him up on the challenge and love the way that he challenges his followers online to read from several different categories to diversify your reading.

Over the coming months I will post updates on how it is going, and listing books that I have read, picking up to read next, and giving summaries of each that might be helpful for you guys that want to check them out for yourself. So, coming soon I'll give you an update on how things are going so far...just one month into the challenge.