Friday, January 7, 2011

It Wasn't My Fault!

Genesis 3:12, (Adam being confronted by God about eating the fruit) "The man replied, 'It was the woman YOU gave me who gave me the fruit, and I ate it." (emphasis mine)

I read that and instantly the Lord convicted my heart. A little background: the Lord has really been dealing with my heart lately about how much I think of myself (meaning = I'm vastly too prideful..."heady", as some would say, is but one demonstration of that.). Anyway, it is so easy for me to be confronted with obvious sin in my life and my response far too often is to BLAME SOMEONE ELSE! That way I remain guilt free, and sinless. How gross! That's exactly what Adam is doing...he blames the woman who gave the fruit to him and God for providing him the woman. How could he be at fault? The bottom line: ADAM ATE THE FRUIT = TYLER NEEDS TO OWN HIS SIN (PRIDE).

My prayer going forward from that verse is that the Lord will continue to convict me of the areas where I am being prideful or simply making excuses for my own problems. I was reminded again from my  reading for today: Psalm 5:4-5 "O God, You take no pleasure in wickedness; you cannot tolerate the sins of the wicked. Therefore, THE PROUD may not stand in your presence, for you hate all who do evil." Lord, crush my pride with the weight of Your glory. I want to be in Your presence.

What about you? Is it easy for you to own your mistakes? What are somethings you need to own up to in the eyes of others? Who do you need to ask forgiveness from? What do you need repent of before our great God? I've got much love for you...

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Things I Learned at Seminary - God Is In Control

Whoa...I typed the 'God is in control' line and had a flashback to an old school Twila Paris's a random flashback! Worth a good laugh if you're bored.

Anyway, I surely learned that. This is actually something that I realized going to, going through, and finishing up seminary. It all began way back in 2007 as I was trying to decide where I was going to seminary...some of you know the story. I decided I wanted to go to Beeson Divinity School. I didn't get in. Then I decided I wanted to go to a seminary extension in Nashville and get a cool job in a church to work while I was taking my classes. I completely had my life planned out. To make a long story short, once I bought in to the Lord's plan, I realized my plan wasn't what God wanted, so I ended up in New Orleans.
Throughout seminary I was faced with some of the hardest semesters of my life: academic rigors, socially, responsibility lessons, relationships, loss, stress, and the like. My seminary years were brutally difficult, and I think seminary is designed to be that way.

Then I graduated, and now I find myself moving to Immanuel Baptist Church in Lexington, KY to be the Student Pastor. This situation seems like the Lord has completely hand crafted it for me, and I'm very excited about it.

How is all of this possible? I'm completely convinced that there is no way all of these things come together by any means other than there is a God who is in control. I'm convinced. God wanted me in New Orleans, and He closed a door and opened my eyes to lead me there. God had extra-curricular lessons he wanted me to learn, and He delivered them. God had a place for me upon graduation, and He made this church opportunity work out to send me there. I could go into vast amounts of detail, but I'm sure that would bore you to death. Suffice it to say that all this is not possible without God having a plan, and working it out in my life.

It is a quite popular verse, but I've seen it played out time and time again in my life: "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11. I'm confident that the Lord is in control. What about you? Reflect on some things that have occurred in your own life! Can you see how the Lord was steering that? Can you see that God was working out His plan and the He was in control of those moments? I know it is a simple truth, but it is a lesson that sticks out to me from my time at seminary. Have you trusted that Jesus is enough and God is in control? I've got much love for you...

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Interruption of Unstarted Series - aka HAPPY NEW YEAR!

So I said be watching for 'things I learned at seminary' blog posts. Continue to do so, but it is time for the obligatory New Years Eve post. Happy New Year of 2011 to you, by the way!

2010 has finished up. What happened in 2010? Here are my highlights:
1) Grew in some relationships with great people
2) Spent lots of time praying about what 2011 (specifically what life after seminary would look like)
3) Worked with an unbelievably solid team to communicate the Gospel at camp
4) Saw my brother graduate and begin a job with the US State Dept.
5) Saw my dad recognize an obstacle and seek help.
6) Recognized my own obstacles and my own need for help. God's grace abounded.
7) Watched the Lord hand craft the small details of my life to fit specifically me.
8) I graduated from I'm a student apart from school.
9) The Lord provided a job!
10) Found myself ringing in the New Year in ye old Gray, GA for the 2nd straight year.

An update on my 2010: I still haven't arrived. I'm still in progress.  2010 brought some hard life lessons and made me recognize how desperately I'm still in need of grace and I'm still a lover of community. So how about you? How was your 2010?

2011: What are my hopes? Well there are many. But I can tell you what my prayer for 2011 was/is: I pray that the Lord will grant me wisdom and favor. I know that I love the Lord, but for 2011, I pray for grace to trust Him even more. I would LOVE to see the essence of faith spelled out in my life. My friend Ann Dorriety reminded me of a passage that I'm praying will be my life in 2011: I'm sure you've heard the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Those were the 3 that the king ordered to be thrown into the fiery furnace. They demonstrated legit faith. As they are about to be thrown into the furnace, they are telling the king that they believe the Lord will save them from the fire. That's faith. Faith is belief in something unseen. They didn't know they would be saved, but they had faith that they would. But within faith is always the element that you could be wrong. So facing this uncertainty, here's what these 3 had to say to the face of the king: (Daniel 3:17-18) "If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. BUT EVEN IF HE DOESN'T, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up." FAITH. These three knew their God could save them, but would He? For clarity's sake, God did save them.

I want the kind of faith in my God so that I pursue the belief in things I cannot see. But even if I get it wrong, I will trust Him to steer my paths and passions. What are YOUR goals for 2011? What do you want to see happen? Hey, I've got much love for you.

Friday, December 10, 2010

A Teaser

I just need the world to know that I have much thoughts overflowing in my head. Furthermore, I graduate on December 18, 2010 from seminary. If you put the two of those together, a blog explosion is soon to occur. Why am I posting this? This is the teaser. Stay tuned to the blog for the next few weeks. Many things are likely to happen, and many thoughts to be shared.

The series already in the works in my head:
Things I Learned At Seminary

Don't be scared...I don't mean academically. I could not subject you to lectures, nor could I subject myself to that so quickly after graduating. So you better stay tuned!

There's a day coming up (for which we celebrate a major holiday) that some 2000ish years ago completely and radically redefined the course of human history. I hope you're excited about it. I am. Merry Christmas! I've got much love for you...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

In Your Arms

Here are some song lyrics that the Lord has provided to me, and I share with you:

In Your arms is where I want to be
When my world comes crashing down on me
So hold me close, keep me Yours always
Bid me, break me, be my rock
For now and all my days

Whom have I when my heart begins to fail
And sorrow fills the streets
And sounds of death prevail
Jesus is my hope, and I know He stills the wind
So take my very life away, as long as I get Him!

My soul longs for the day when I'll see You face
When sin and death will pass
And tears are wiped away
So let the sky fall down, and earth and cities quake
And I'll say of my God and King
Lord blessed be Your name.

Blessed be, blessed be Your name.
Blessed be Your holy name.

-In Your Arms
By: The Church at Brook Hills/Mandi Mapes

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

My Hiding Place

It never ceases to blow my mind how the Lord beats the Truth of His Word and who He is into my life. Here's the passage that has really been a reality in my life:

(Jesus speaking) "I have told you [my teachings to you], so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." - John 16:33

There are 2 noteworthy things from this verse that I've been focusing on:
1. Trouble is coming. We will all face difficulties in life. Maybe you're in the middle of those difficulties right now. Maybe you're just coming out of difficulties. The reality of this moment, is that wherever you stand in relation to trouble, there will be more trouble coming. Trouble, the faith shattering events that in the moment seem too big to process or handle, is coming.
2. IN CHRIST we may have peace. Why? He overcame the world! He has been through earthly trouble, and he has overcome! What exciting news for us as believers!? In the midst of the most difficult times in our lives, we can find a treasure, a hiding place, and take refuge in Christ through our relationship with the One who has overcome: Jesus Christ.

So thankful...

I have been in the midst of a hurricane of thought lately. Not all of my thoughts necessarily revolve around negative things, but I feel like it is a hurricane nonetheless. Here are the abridged lyrics to a song that has been communicating the truth of John 16:33 to me:

"I will exalt You...You are my God!
Because You're with me...I will not fear!

My hiding place, my safe refuge, my treasure, Lord, You are!
My friend and King, anointed One, most holy!"

I am so desperately thankful that the Lord is my place to hide for the trouble of life. Jesus is my safe refuge to escape the discouragement of the enemy. Jesus reminds me that He is my treasure in this life and for my eternity. Now this doesn't mean my circumstances just automatically disappear or simply vanish. What does it mean? It means in Christ (my hiding place, my refuge, my treasure), I have peace. Peace in the storm. Contentment in trusting the Lord's plan. Faith that God is still bigger, still victorious and still in control. I have completely been hiding out in the Lord lately, and the peace He has provided has been so needed.

What about you? Have you been able to experience Jesus as your hiding place? He wants to be your safe refuge. I pray that you will or have experienced Him in this way.

I got much love for you...

Monday, September 27, 2010

Put Your Clothes On or Dress For Work!

I must confess that at the idea of this post, the first thought that popped into my mind was when one my best friends, Allen Tate, busted my brother making his then daily nude streak from the bathroom to his bedroom to get dressed for the day. Andrew's response in the moment, was to pause for a moment in the run and simply say, "AH!", and then proceeded into his room. This has absolutely nothing to do with this post, other than Andrew should have put his clothes on! (freebie)

My journey with the Lord this semester has been an exciting one to say the least. I completely and totally feel like I have been in a whirlwind of thought processes, some good circumstances and some bad. The cool part about being in this hurricane of life is that the Lord got me ready for it just before it happened. Here's the quick story:

I got back down to seminary to begin this semester and begin to really press into the Lord about where He was leading me upon my graduation in December. I felt like I was getting no answer. No specifics. No leanings. Nothing. This was mildly frustrating because I wanted to be preparing. I wanted to start making plans. I wanted to be in control. (Take notice of how me-centric those sentences are!) I decided I would begin reading through Jeremiah. It was in the first chapter that the Lord communicated what He wanted from me for this stage of my life.

In Jeremiah 1, we find Jeremiah trying to discern his call from God. God reveals to J that His desire is that J become a prophet. J's response? "Ah!" He begins the reasons why that can't be his call: he can't speak, he's a youth...blah blah blah. J wasn't sure that God had dialed up the right man in that moment. In Jeremiah's discovery of his call, the Lord said this to him as Jeremiah waited for things to begin to happen:

"But you, DRESS YOURSELF FOR WORK. Arise, and say to them everything I command you. Don't be dismayed." The Lord goes on to let Jeremiah know that He's in control and concludes with, "They will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you, declares the Lord, to deliver you." (Jeremiah 1:17-19)

How cool is that moment? The Lord let's J know that everything is going to be alright because the Lord's got J's back. Did you catch the thing the Lord asked Jeremiah to do? Put your clothes on J! Dress for work! God asked Jeremiah to get ready because through Him, Jeremiah was going to DO WORK for God's glory! So what does this mean for me and you? It means that whether you're in 'go mode', or you're waiting for the Lord's clarity, dress yourself for work! Be ready! Be in the Word. Be in prayer. The Lord's going to do work through His people, and if you're ready, you're usable! Put your work clothes on!

Now that I'm in the middle of the "hurricane" and "chaos" of a million things running through my brain, I realize why I had moments where I was struggling to find where God wanted me. He wanted me to continue preparing myself for the time when my work was to come. What about you? Are you dressed for work? Or are you experiencing frustration or confusion about what is next? Follow the Lord's advice to Jeremiah and myself: Put your clothes on! Dress yourself for work! ...cause it is coming!

I got much love for you...