Do You Talk to Yourself?

I have a problem.

And I bet I am not the only one who has it.

It is a problem in my prayer life.

Days like today, the problem has shown it’s face.

There are times when I catch myself…

praying to myself.

What do I mean by this?

Well, during my prayers I find myself talking to myself not to God, which is the whole point of prayer.

In moments of silence I find myself telling myself

what I NEED…

what I SHOULD have…

were I MUST go…

why I WILL succeed…

etc.

My prayers are not mighty arrows of trust, faith, and hope sent to my Father in Heaven.

Nope.

They are whispers to myself that flow in one ear and out the other causing more distress each time they circle.

They are stagnant wishes and faithless pursuits.

Prayer is a mirror my friends.

It is a way for us to send our thoughts, discomforts, and struggles to God. He will send us the reflection with all the earthly junk mail stripped out. Through prayer God will send us the filtered truth. This will allow us to live in a way that glorifies His name.

However, when we pray to ourselves the prayers sit in our minds like dust balls growing larger and larger. We become more confused. We become restless. We lose hope in God.

All because we are afraid to let go.

In true prayer, there is a letting go process.

We let go of our concept of time by falling into the eternal love of a God who loves us.

We let go of our ways and trust His plan for us.

We let go of our need to speak and we listen.

One way to test if you are praying to yourself is to see how you feel after prayer. Assess if prayer has made you MORE anxious, MORE restless, and MORE fearful. If this is the case, these feelings are not from God and stem from an internal dialogue with yourself instead of an external dialogue with your Creator.

Friends, I encourage you to watch for this problem next time you have your hands folded.

Ask yourself, “Am I praying to my Savior or myself?”

It is time we let go and let God.

And stop talking to ourselves. Because our conversations with the Creator are the only way we will find peace in such a hurting world.

Literally. Just smile. 

At Church the other day a priest said something I thought was awesome. He was describing how everyone acts so bitter and down trotten all the time. There is such a lack of joy in the world. 

He said, “people walk around like they were baptized in vinegar.”

I laughed. Why? 

Because it is so true. 

And I know I am one of those people. 

We need to remind ourselves that we are baptized in living water. This is water that refreshes us. Wipes us clean. Gives us new strength every. Single. Day. 

So stop it. 

Yes. Just like that. STOP. 

Pick up your head. 

Put a smile on. 

And start believing in what you believe. 

Start loving others and living in the joy. 

Let go of self. Now. Not later. NOW. 

Have you ever jumped into a freezing pool of water? It is scary at first but after you feel so alive? Yeah? You need to jump in everyday. That jump is the courage to have joy in all things. 

I read an article today that said 20 minutes of positive thinking in a short amount of time can drastically change your brain chemistry. Guess what I am doing in my long shower tomorrow? 

Living water people. 

Not vinegar.

It begins this second. 

I’ve probably read every self-help book out there. I can spare you some time and let you know a little secret about all of them. They can give you tips but can’t do anything for you. If you want joy you must start living it. Being it. Remembering He is it. 

This world needs more joy. No excuses. It’s up to you now. Spread it all over the beautiful earth we are so lucky to be a part of. 

Joy is not feeling happy 24/7. 

 Joy is allowing yourself to be a window of Christ’s love and seeing that light transform the world. 

Throw Me in the Furnace 

I’m struggling with something. 

And to be honest I never thought I was. 

In today’s society being a male comes with a lot of expectations. 

One of which is never being afraid. I have told myself my whole life that I am invincible, but deep down I know that is not the case. 

I was given a wake up call. Quite literally, the last few weeks. 

For about two weeks now, I have had numerous nightmares a night. Sometimes waking up in cold sweats. Sometimes trying to catch my breath. Sometimes immediately calling people I care about to calm me down. While I do hate nightmares, I am grateful because they have reminded me that I am not okay. My subconscious mind is restless and the dirtiness is rising to the surface. 

So what should I do now? Pray for courage. 

In Daniel 3 we see three men going against the King’s orders of worshipping the idol. They tell the King that if they are thrown in the furnace so be it. This is a Bible story that has always stuck with me since I was young. I think it has to do with the boldness. The ultimate trust. The three men’s ability to speak from their hearts. 

I think the coolest part of this whole story is not when the men say that God will save them, but rather that they will still love and serve the Lord even if He does not. 

Mic drop* 

How rad is that? They are so accepting of God’s will that courage naturally follows. They don’t have to ask for courage. It is right there waiting. 

I want me some of that. 

For courage to flow so easily from my mouth and my deeds. 

This isn’t to say I have no courage. I believe there have been moments in my life when I did not know where the courage came from. When I acted so quickly and without thought to do what is right. The point is I want that in every moment of my life. In order for that to happen courage needs to become a habit. 

This habit begins and ends with our relationship with the Lord. 

That was the part I was missing. I thought courage came from myself. Society has told me that all along. 

If you want to be courageous.

You need to be tough. 

You need to look fiere. 

You need to be physically strong. 

Friends, today I remind you that courage is a gift from God. A gift that only comes from our relationship with Him. 

Today I am asking God for courage to live my life according to His will. To not care what the people of the world tell me to do, say, or think. 

But to say back, “Throw me in the furnace. I am not afraid, for Christ is always with me.”

Don’t Miss the Boat 

I was at the port of Naples, Italy. My cousin and I had a boat to catch. I decided to bring my small Bible with me for the boat ride. Taking out the Bible in public is not something I often do. So I figured I would start to work on it. 

While I was reading, waiting for the ship, a man came up to ask which boat was sailing to the island of Capri. The destination my cousin and I were also going. I told him I thought it was the boat right in front of us but I was not sure. 

After twenty minutes I started to get nervous. The boat should be leaving in ten minutes why was there no line? Why were they still filling the boat in front of us with gas? The loudspeaker had come on minutes before but it was in Italian. The man who gave us our tickets also said we needed to stay where we were. 

I saw a line of people about a hundred yards away. I sprinted over there and asked one of the crew. Though he only spoke Italian I put together that this was the ship I needed to be on. Remembering the man back at the port I sprinted back.

 He was talking with another man when I interrupted. 

I said, “Our boats over there. It’s leaving now. It’s not this one. It’s over there.”

All of a sudden a bunch of people started surrounding me. None of them spoke English. I did the best that I could pointing to my ticket and saying, “Let’s go.”

The next scene felt like a movie. 

I was sprinting towards the distant boat while the others, who had been waiting for the wrong boat, followed right behind. All the while I had the Bible with me. 

Thankfully, we all made it on the boat just in time. 
While I was running I thought, 

This is what life is about! 
As Christians we are given the Gospel message. We are told the truth. We are given instructions on which is the right ship to take us to the Kingdom. 

Sharing the Gospel through our lives is key. We cannot forget that in order to share the Gospel we must approach people. We must use our spiritual gifts to connect and take action. The people waiting on the dock did not understand me. They spoke no English. Yet, they understood my actions. They understood I was once lost and nervous and now I felt security. Now I felt peace.
Knowing the truth through the Gospel does not make us better than anyone else. But it does make us responsible. 

We are all called to be on the ship headed to the island of Heaven. In order for that to be a reality we must not become comfortable. We must take the risk and run back to help. We must carry the message of truth with us wherever we go.  And just when we may think we are only showing one man, a crowd may follow in the pursuit. 

Everyone of us has the ticket in hand to the right ship.  

If we know where that ship rests, why leave our fellow man behind? 

Acknowledgment

A few days ago, I was sitting outside of a classroom at Baylor University. A girl who I know, though not very well, smiled at me as she walked passed. She looked as if she was going to say something, but I looked away. I had smiled back but still kept my headphones on and did not say a word. After she had turned the corner I yanked my headphones off and turned off my cellphone. I sat there and reflected for a few minutes.

I thought, “Nick, what is wrong with you?”

I’m sure anyone who is reading this is asking yourself:

Why was he so hard on himself?

Did he have a crush on this girl? 

What song was it?

This was a girl I had met once a few years ago. I did not have a crush on her. We were basically strangers.

So why was I so frustrated?

A few reasons that all relate to the topic of acknowledgment.

What does it mean to fully acknowledge another human being?

Relationships and communication are at the heart of humankind. Whether it be friendship, romantic relationships, or family, at the center of our connection with one another is acknowledgement.

To acknowledge another lets the individual know that:

1. They exist.

2. They matter.

3. They are loved.

We seem to think there is a time and a place to acknowledge others. We are so quick to put our headphones on as we walk from class to class and building to building. A few years ago I saw students doing this all the time. I was so perplexed by it. I would ask myself, “Why are they shutting themselves off from conversations?”

In my favorite book of all time Fahrenheit 451 Ray Bradbury describes the use of seashells in ears. It always amazed me that he “foretold” the phenomena of headphones and how it would impact acknowledgement. Though at first against it, I started following the headphone trend. I thought maybe listening to some good music would help jump start my day. Maybe, a great pump up song would keep me motivated and happier. This little example has taught me that the best way to feel true joy is to form relationships with others.

When I have a test and I see a friend walking to class I’m too focused on myself to converse.

When I am stressed out I close myself off to the world around me.

When I am angry I do everything I can to avoid people.

Isn’t it funny that when we are filled with joy we seek to be around others not hide from them?

So, why was I so mad at myself a few days ago?

Because acknowledgment is at the core of Christianity. 

We must remember that acknowledgment does not relate to convenience. As Christians it is our duty and belief to love God and love others. In order to do this we must be always willing to stop what we are doing and listen to the needs, desires, and dreams of humankind.

Acknowledgment is the stepping stone for loving others.

Quote Me On This One

Powerful quotes are my favorite. When I say powerful I mean something that causes a KOMA moment for me.  I use this acronym a lot to describe moments where I was awoken to a new perspective. A moment where I was sitting in my daily coma and all of a sudden I was AWAKE. #WOKE

 I’ll write a blog on it some day but what it stands for is (Knocked On My Ass).

Yes, I said ass. It was necessary to use this word or else the acronym would have been KOMB (which I feel does not get the same message across hehe).

Anyway, I have so many motivational quotes plastered all around my room. On my phone I have probably screenshotted over 200 quotes…no joke.  To me a quote whether it be theological, philosophical, or even humorous can shed a lot of light on some hidden truths. The thing I like about a good quote is that it is a perfect summary of a specific truth. Sometimes a quote on the topic of hope for example can pack a greater punch than 20 books combined.     

I recently came across this quote attributed to St. Augustine.

“To fall in love with God is the greatest romance; to seek Him the greatest adventure; to find Him, the greatest human achievement.”

KOMA moment right away. The second I read this quote it brought a change in perspective for me. It allowed me to see that loving,seeking, and finding God is everything I (we) will ever need.

The topics of romance, adventure, and achievement are constantly sought by humankind. These topics are the main points in our dreams, movies, books, etc. It is very easy to see how these topics can be tied into our earthly life. Whenever I think of these topics my immediate thoughts are not tied to God.

When I think romance….boy meets girl…they fall in love…married…babies….happily ever after.

When I think adventure….get on plane…travel world….eat new foods…meet new people.

When I think achievement….finish school…get degree…be good at what you do…be respected.

However, after reading this quotation I was able to view these topics in the light of God.

1. Romance

Wow, to fall in love with God. To some that might sound crazy, but to me that sounds like the epitome of Heaven. Christ showed his love for us when He gave Himself for us on the cross. In each of his wounds is an eternal outpouring of love. Therefore, the romance that I associate with my future wife does not even come close to the love God showed me/shows me everyday. Everyday I must strive to love Him with all my heart, with all my soul, with all my might. In order to do this what must I do? Every great romance involves sacrifice. I must look to do whatever it takes to show Christ an ounce of the love he showed me as he hung on the cross. Heaven is where we will be united with our Creator. Seeing Christ face to face is the ending of the perfect romance.

Next time you feel a desire to fall in love, I encourage you to reflect on the love your Creator has shown you on the cross.

 

2. Adventure

The greatest adventure…sounds rad. Ever since I was a little kid I have had a heart for adventure. I used to stay in my grandmothers woods for hours adventuring around. To this day I want to adventure by traveling the world. I decided to go to school halfway across the country from home…why….FOR THE ADVENTURE. I am reminded today that adventure does not necessarily mean to travel. Adventure can happen in the solitude in our very home in prayer. When we go on an adventure we are seeking something. It could be a new experience. It could be an adrenaline rush. It could be the desire to connect with others. Seeking God is the ultimate adventure. As we are drawn closer to our Creator through different practices such as prayer, fasting, service we are receiving the love of God in our hearts.

Next time you are seeking adventure, I encourage you to walk to your local Church, your bedroom, your desk at school, and pray that God continues to be by your side on this journey of life.

3. Achievement

Finding Him…the greatest achievement. Achievement is drilled into our heads the moments we are learning how to read and write. What do you want to be when you grow up? What are your goals? What are your dreams? These are questions that I still wonder about today. I am reminded today that although it is important to ask ourselves this question it is also vital to ask, “Have I found God today?” It is very easy to allow the ideas of worldly achievement the reality that pursuing God in all we do is the ultimate good.

Next time you are pushing for achievement, I encourage you to reflect on whether or not you have made God the center of your day. Is pursuing God your ultimate goal?

 

In conclusion, God is everything we need. He is romance, adventure, achievement and so much more. To view God in such a way is exciting, interesting, and thrilling. Why do we not view God in such a way more often?

St. Augustine wrote this quotation about 1,600 years ago. The beauty of God’s nature has not changed one bit.

You can quote me on this…

If you reflect on the quotation—I can assure you that it will continue to fill you with joy and a new perspective on the awesomeness of our savior Jesus Christ.