Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Intimacy. We are the Bride of Christ



Hi there. I just really wanted to share my heart with you all. The best way for me to do this is to write it out. 

I want to look at Matthew 7: 23.  "and I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from Me, you evildoers!"

This is Jesus speaking. Who is speaking to? People who said to Him, "Didn't we prophecy in Your Name, and in Your Name drive out demons, and all this other great stuff?" (Not a direct quote, but you get the picture.) 

What a terrible, heartbreaking thing. Here's what I want to say. 



Jesus wants to know you.   Let me make that more clear:



JESUS WANTS TO KNOW YOU!!!

We cannot earn this on our own. We are to put our trust in Him alone for our salvation, for it comes only from Him. I no longer believe that the devil's greatest lie is getting people to believe He doesn't exist. The devil's greatest lie is:


You are not good enough.

Why is that such a lie? It's because it WAS NEVER ABOUT US BEING GOOD ENOUGH IN THE FIRST PLACE!! It was, is, and always will be about Jesus and His love and mercy! If we believe we're not good enough, we'll spend all our time striving and trying to make ourselves better and to earn God's love. We'll try to take the place of Jesus in our own lives. Yeah, I said it. We'll perform great works, like ministry or whatever, and think that God will be pleased with us. We'll stay away from sinful things, and think God will bless us. But, the day will come where He will say, "Depart from me."  


WHY???

One word: intimacy. He wants to know us. He wants us to surrender ourselves totally to Him. He gave us not only His Word, but His Holy Spirit to move in us and change us. It is every moment of every day. Talk with Him!! He'll speak! Yes, He calls us to obey. That is a crucial part of surrender. His will. Not ours. Stop striving and just be. Let Him move in You. He'll show you what He would have you do. Striving to do it ourselves is not only wrong, it is eternally damning, you see. He wants intimacy. Pour out your heart to Him, but let Him move. That is vital. Know Him. Let Him know you. Do not be afraid. Want His power in your life? Let Him know you. That is the only way. 

Imagine something with me for a moment. You are a young man, and your loving father wants to give you a nice car that he built himself for you, because of his love for you. He spends months upon months working on it. He finds just the right engine you love, and a brand new one. All the belts are in excellent condition. Everything works beautifully. Not only that, but he custom designed it just for you, with your favorite color, the right kind of seats, the horsepower, the stereo system you want. He did all of that just for you, so he could present it to you when you were ready. How grateful would you be? 

That's how God looks at us. He is making us, the Bride of Christ, perfect. Without spot or wrinkle. He does that because He loves us, and because He wants to present the perfect gift to His Son, the Bridegroom. You and I, as sons and daughters of God, are a part of that perfect gift. We are the greatest blessing our Jesus will ever receive, and He SO LONGS for that! We can have it now. He is our greatest gift, and we are His!! See that! Know that! That is YOU if you give your life to Him!!  It ONLY comes through knowing Him and Him knowing you. 

I had to share this, because we all need it. Stay strong and be encouraged. You are good enough. He wants me, He wants to know you. 

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Can I live For God? Probably Not.



 Don't worry. This is not a blog about me losing my faith. I haven't. In fact, my faith has grown stronger recently. I do want to point out, however, that this is how I felt for many years. I simply couldn't see how God loved me. I loved Him, and I wanted to live for Him, but I felt, deep down, that I didn't have the capability. There are many reasons why I felt this way, but I just want to focus on one for this blog. 


For a few years, I was spiritually bullied.


What!?!

Yes, you read that right. There was someone in my life who tried to manipulate me, use me, and even stifle my growth in the Lord. This was not a family member or someone from church. It was just someone who claimed to be my friend. I met him in college.

Now, did this person make fun of me in Jesus's Name or something like that? Or, did he quote the Bible whilst knocking my block off? No, of course not. It doesn't work like that. No, this was far, far more subtle. In fact, the guy likely believed he was helping me.

So, what did he do?

Well, he forced his own opinions on me and would tear me down every time I made a mistake. Or, made a mistake in his eyes. 

And, he would use God or the Bible to back it up. 

One time, I was talking about a Bible study group that he was a part of with some people and expressing some of my doubts about it. Another guy I was talking with agreed with me and started arguing with his sister about it. 

The bully wasn't even in this conversation. The next day, he (the bully) admonished me about it in front of a group of people, saying that my words had caused "strife" and anger and whatnot. (That's another thing, he loved to use big words like "strife" and "the opinion of man" in normal conversation) Furthermore, when I asked him who told him about this, he refused to tell, saying it didn't matter. There was no grace, no love, he just drilled me down. About something that wasn't even his business in the first place.

When I went to college, I was excited. It was a Christian college, and I was eager to learn and grow in my faith and meet other believers. Did this guy help with that? No. He would say, "When are you going to quit 'playing games' with God?" 

Playing games? What games? What does that even mean? It's years later and I still don't know what he was talking about! I was serious about my relationship with the Lord, for crying out loud!!

That's what this person would do. Talk cryptically so I couldn't understand him. He often spoke of being against religion, yet all he wanted to to do was point out my perceived shortcomings. Don't watch movies, don't listen to secular music, blah, blah, blah. 

(Disclaimer: If you read this, and you have those convictions, I totally respect that. The Bible talks about personal convictions, and how you shouldn't force them on others.)

One of the worst times was when I was watching a movie with another friend. I thought the movie was too raunchy, so I walked out. What did the bully do when I told him about this? He suggested I end the friendship with the other guy. Where's the love in that? 

(By the way, the friend I watched that movie with? He's still one of my best friends to this day. I was a groomsman in his wedding, and though he lives nine hours from me, I will still travel to see him. God has done AMAZING things in his life!)

To this bully, all I could do was sin. He would point out every little thing, no matter how small, and rebuke me and condemn me, as though my very salvation was on the line. He never had anything encouraging to say, and he would try to justify it by quoting Philippians where it says "I've counted all things as loss compared to knowing Christ." But that's the thing. He made me feel like I couldn't know Christ because Christ wouldn't accept me. He watched me like a hawk, just waiting for me to stumble. 

He also made me believe that listening to him was the only way for me to get to God.

I went to a Bible study with him and his spiritual mentor a few times. When they prayed, they would call God "Daddy." Intimacy. Yet, it was though I wasn't worthy to call Him "Daddy." Because I had flaws, and this guy knew it. And, I had to fix them all before I could come to God, or God wouldn't take me. 

The worst and final time was this. Oh, did I mention that many times he would accuse me of something, he would claim it was from God? 

Well, I realized that I didn't have to listen to him. I knew those things were from him, not God, and that God would work out the sin in my life in a loving manner. Well, this guy came up to me and said, "I have a word of instruction for you. You take every thing I say and say 'that's just him' so you don't have to listen to it. But, you need to know it's from God, and that if you don't listen to it, you're not going to fulfill the destiny that God has for you."

Where's God's amazing grace? Where's His love? Where's His mercy? Who gets the GLORY from that, for Pete's sake! This guy had nothing but bad things to say about me, and all I was trying to do was get closer to God!! That's all I wanted! There was no love, no  mercy, no compassion from this guy who could have been a great friend to me had he truly listened to God and just, well, LOVED me!

Here's the thing. I'm grateful for the true friends God has placed in my life. Friends who love me and are honest with me when I truly stumble. They don't let me get away with it. But, there's love, there's mercy, there's kindness. Not this angry, self-righteous stuff. One friend said, "Tyler, God's not mad at you. You believe He is, but He isn't. Run to Him." 

I hope this blesses somebody. I hope that you read this and see that bullying someone is no way to treat them. It certainly won't lead them to Christ. I very nearly lost my faith because of this bully's words. The only reason I didn't is because of the foundation of faith from people like my mother and youth pastors and of my own desire to know God. Obviously, God Himself was carrying me through all of this. 

I may have lost my life, too, had I kept listening to him. I listened to him because he seemed so friendly and so "on fire for God" as they say. I'm not saying he isn't. I haven't seen this guy in years so I don't know what he's like now. I hope and pray he's changed. God spoke to me once and said, "Tyler, show him the grace he never showed you." That's what I want to do. I pray he truly comes to know the Lord if he hasn't already. Romans says that the goodness of God leads men to repentance. It's true. I share this because someone else may have had a similar experience. I'm truly sorry if you have, and I would love to encourage anyone who needs it.

God's love is real, folks. Jesus bled and died for you!  He wants to know you! Let Him in and let Him change you! God bless you and keep you. 

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Look Me in the Eye! (My struggles with Asperger's.)


You know that one weird person that every social group, be it a church, a work team, or just a bunch of guys who meet up every week to watch football? The one whom they welcome but never fully let in?


NICE TO MEET YOU. THAT'S ME.





Ever notice how I don't look you in the eye? Or that I ring my hands a lot? How about that I like to jump and skip about like a grasshopper? Or, more subtle though, I don't seem to always be very good at carrying on social conversations? What I tend to do is wait for you to approach me and secretly pray that you will. If you don't, I'll just stare at you awkwardly. 
                                                          


I'm sure you have. I mean, c'mon! I stick out like a blue monkey. Shoot! I once had the keyboard player from one of my favorite bands point me out at one of their shows. In a two-level auditorium. That seated easily a couple thousand. And was full. Don't get me wrong; this was actually pretty cool. 

But, mostly, it really sucks. It's because I have Asperger's Syndrome. High functioning. Which basically means that I have a mild form of it. So, I tell people that, when it comes to autism, I have the mild form of the mild form. But that doesn't mean it's been easy. 

I thought I'd share some things that I've dealt with. I'm not trying to throw anyone under a bus, so I'm not mentioning any names. Nor am I seeking sympathy. I don't want anyone to feel sorry for me. In fact, if you're only my friend because you feel sorry for me, there's the proverbial door. I'm not saying any of my friends are like that. I sure hope not. 

My reason for sharing this is to hopefully help people understand me, and others like me. Honestly, it's also for me personally, to help myself heal from the hurt that this has caused me throughout my life. 

"A writer must write what he has to say, not speak it."  -Ernest Hemingway.

One of the most common traits of Asperger's or any autism is social problems. No, a lot of the times I don't look people in the eye. I have no idea why, I just don't. Sometimes I walk fast, which took me forever to understand that other people would mistake me for being in a hurry, which I'm not always. Or, if I'm eating at a restaurant, sometimes I'll take my jacket on and off. People think I'm wanting to leave because of that. It's just sometimes I want to put my coat on. Is that really such a bad thing? 


Brutal honesty here. One of the biggest problems I have is saying inappropriate things when I don't mean to. I suck at reading people and gauging whether or not a comment I say to them will offend them or hurt their feelings. To this day I'll say something and immediately think, "Oh crap! I hope I didn't upset them by saying that!" And it's usually something completely harmless. Or at least I hope it is. I simply don't know. So, I'm scared to death to do it. 

And this really bites because I'm one of the most sensitive people you'll ever meet. I'll be honest. Yes I'm afraid of making you mad. Yes, I worry that when you never comment or like something on my Facebook page, that you don't like me or are upset with me. That doesn't bother me too much, though. We Aspie's ( a name we call ourselves) aren't very good at reading other people's emotions. We suck at it. Some of us don't care. 

I do. A lot.

That coupled with my mannerisms that I mentioned earlier (btw, there are more that I didn't mention) has caused me so much stress and hurt. My hand-eye coordination isn't very good either, so menial tasks that normal people think nothing of have even been difficult for me. When I was a kid I remember being terrified when I was asked to do some kind of work with tools or something, because I knew I'd very likely slip up and get yelled at or made fun of. Thank God I learned how to drive a car. 

Let me talk briefly about what goes on inside my head.  People have called it going off to "Tyler's world." Yes, I admit, very often, what is going on inside my head is more interesting to me than what is going on outside of it. I get fixated on something and I don't want to leave. I'm not proud of that. That's often why I have trouble with menial tasks. I'm trying to work on it. And it's not that I'm not interested in what you have to say. I swear I am. 




Image result for man trapped in cage
photo credit: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/lifestyle/wellbeing/healthadvice/3355023/Lesley-Garners-Lifeclass-Im-broke-bored-jealous-and-taking-cocaine.html



That picture shows I feel.All the time. I've been made to feel stupid and worthless, and I'm trying to get free of that. As someone once told me, and I won't say who,

"Tyler, hugging you is like hugging a tree."

You ever see that movie A Christmas Story? The part where Ralphie gets nailed in the eye with a snowball and then proceeds to become enraged and pummel the bully who did it into pulp? Well, I'v often imagined a similar scene in which I am the one getting beat up. Who is doing it doesn't matter, but everyone who's ever been in my life is watching, and cheerful, victorious music is playing in the background as I'm bleeding and bawling my eyes out. My crime? Being me. With this stupid syndrome that I have. I've often worried about not having friends, getting a good job, getting married, that these things will never happen. I worry that people will only put up with me for so long before they finally quit. 


I don't want to end this on a negative note.  I have hope because of this:
Image result for Jesus on the cross

photo credit: genius.com

Yes, I talk about Jesus a lot. It's because He's the only reason I'm alive today. I would have slit my wrists years ago and ended my life had it not been for His love. Yes, I even was afraid for years that God didn't even like me and wouldn't accept me. But, He has. I'll even say that I'm being healed from Asperger's. I'm asking God to make His reality mine, and to replace this stuff. I'm seeking Him because it's all I can do. Some people say that religion is for people too week to make it through life on their own. Well, even though I don't consider myself religious, I am too weak. So what? God sustains me. 

I also want to thank everyone who's supported me and continues to do so. People are always telling me what a blessing and inspiration I am. I hope that's true. I want people to know Jesus. Don't look at me, look at Him and thank Him for who He is making me into. Thank Him for the blood that He shed  for me, and for you. Don't feel sorry for me. Just try to understand me. I don't want being my friend to be a chore or a burden for you. I really don't. I just want to love and encourage people. I'm going on because of Jesus Christ and His love. If you take nothing else from this, take that from it. He loves you and wants to know you  and change you. Let Him. 





Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Love is the most Excellent Way!!

U2 in concert!


This is my first blog on this, my own website!! I have to admit, it's pretty cool! On here, you'll find my thoughts/rants about whatever is on my heart. 

For starters, I just wanted to remind everyone about a basic concept:


13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13 NKJV

I've been a Christian now for pretty much my entire life. I first gave my heart to Jesus when I was four, and I was water baptized when I was seven. Those were both my own decisions. Throughout my journey I've had many experiences, both good and,well, not so good. One church I used to attend had the pastor preaching essentially the same sermon every Sunday. It was, more or less, "Every last one of you, get down to the altar right now and REPENT!!" Absolutely no love, mercy, or grace.

Another story I have is that of a man who was once in my life, but is no longer. He was so strict that we were not allowed to say things like "gosh," "darn," or "heck." This man also tried to stifle my own spiritual growth. He would go with my mom to these revival services every weekend. I was never allowed to come along, even though I asked repeatedly if I could. Any question I had was met with a stern rebuke or just condescending crap. 

In college, there was another guy (we'll call him Lou) who claimed to be this sold out Christian. Trouble was, he offered next to no encouragement to me. Instead, he watched me (and others) like a hawk, just waiting for the moment I messed up, where he could then pounce. One time, he said to me,

"Tyler, the Lord told me to tell you that you take whatever I tell you and say, 'that's just Lou, so I don't need to listen.' But God told me that you need to realize it's not just me, and that if you don't listen, you won't fulfill the destiny God has for you."

Not kidding. 

I felt worthless when I heard that. That and other things led me to years of thinking, "If I just keep working hard enough and overcome this stuff on my own, then God will love me." Yep. That's how I felt. 

My point in sharing this is not to throw these people under a bus. I've forgiven them. I'm not saying they're not genuine believers. I don't know their hearts. Only God does. I sincerely pray that they and others like them truly come to know the love of Jesus intimately if they haven't already. But, honestly, these are just a couple examples of the scars that were left on my heart from people who didn't love.  Praise the Name of Jesus, He's healed me, much of which has come from growth and maturity in my own walk. I've come to realize that there truly is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Seriously, folks, I just don't understand why, if we claim to know and love Him, why we have to treat others this way!

Let me tell you another story. There is a guy named Chuck (yes, this is his real name), who sat me down one night at IHOP. As we wolfed down our pancakes, he said to me this,

"Tyler, God told me to tell you that He is not mad at you. You think He is, but He isn't." 

My life hasn't been the same since. I have grown by leaps and bounds in the Lord! It's like I was walking up a mountain, and I came to a point on the trail where I could move no further. This fortress was in my way. That fortress was my doubt of God's love. That night, that fortress vanished! POOF!!! GONE!! If I were to look back on the trail, I wouldn't even be able to see the spot where the fortress once was. I became free. 

I want to make this clear: I've had many friends, and still do, who have been awesome to me. My parents are fantastic, and I'm super blessed, and I've been that way for a long time now. I'm so thankful to know God loves me. It's because of those people in my life who have shown His love to me. It's not difficult. Just reach out! Even the littlest thing can change someone's life forever. I want to hear about God's love shown through us as the Body. That's what we're called to do! 

Okay, when I first started writing this, I did not intend to go this deep. But, I guess God had other plans! Yes, that pic of U2 playing live was taken by me!! God bless you all!!


Sunday, March 15, 2015

Welcome!!!

Hello!! This is my first post on this new blog!! Stay tuned for more as I learn how to go crazy nutso with designing this thing!!


                                                                                                             God bless,

                                                                                                                  Tyler