Overexposed

Can Social Media sway your feelings about someone? Pretty most of you all answered yes.

It's natural to be more gutsy in posting something than actually saying it. I know the last election really got some people fired up. I check Social Media daily because of interest but also because of my job. I do a lot of our Social Media stuff for Fellowship Church. Like us on Facebook! Sorry...habit. 

My family and I just got back from a vacation to Washington D.C. and Virginia Beach. I posted many pics on Facebook. My wife Vicki pointed out the risk of "overexposure". She said "people are gonna get a little tired of seeing the Pancoasts." I understood that. I also have a different opinion of Social Media than most. I see more of the good than the bad. I love the fact that these memories are saved. I see the advantages:

  • I get to keep up with family and friends who are no longer local. 
  • I see friends of mine celebrating birthdays, anniversaries and other events.
  • I can, in a sensitive way, share my faith without "shoving it down someone's throat".
  • I can learn from others with inspiration they share.
  • I see my friends children growing up. 

I was watching last week's message from Pastor Andy regarding protecting your soul. I've learned from so many how often Facebook would start their day in a bad way. Something someone posted would irk them. As a believer (Christian) I truly believe the best way to start my day is reading God's Word. Christine Caine once said to Christians, "Get off Facebook, and put your face in the Book." The message Pastor Andy shared also dove into the fact that Facebook is, for the most part, a "highlight reel". I decided not to post pics of the one day I woke up cranky and was short with my kids, or the time my daughter Sadie did not want to walk around D.C. anymore, or the time my son Bennett left his backpack in a restaurant.....my wife really didn't have any bad moments, but when she does, I will be ready with my camera. 

I always think of what this Social Media thing can be if we all purposely and intentionally try to better others and try our best to start their day off right. (if you have nothing nice to say, don't say it at all). 

What can you say or share today that may just help someone change their whole day?

Hungry For God

GUEST BLOGGER - PAUL PAPP

If we are not hungry for God, we are hungry for something else. Now I’m not talking about being hungry for pizza and wings, that’s a different kind of hungry. I am talking about what your heart desires, not your stomach. My problem was, that I was hungry for drugs and the escape from reality that they gave me.

Now I’m not sure if I was trying to fill a void, numb mental and physical pain or cover up the shame of being a perfectionist and always falling short. I don’t know maybe it was all of it. Whatever the reason was, I was hungry for drugs and the effects they had on me. Drugs and getting high consumed me, they consumed my every thought and every minute of every day.

I was deceived. Maybe not the same way that Eve was deceived in the Garden of Eden but I was deceived. My deception, was that I knew better than God. (I would not surely die.) I was MISTAKEN. I was hungry for the wrong stuff. I had set my mind on the things that would ultimately kill me both physically and spiritually.

Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t high all the time. I had moments of clarity where I would come to my senses and rise up from the gutter that I called home. I would stand and fight my way back to sanity and clear thought only to fall again and repeat the process. People (friends and family) would call me weak and say that I deserved exactly what I got. Which was more or less true.

 I lost everything, I was homeless, I was hungry and I lost all self-respect but that’s not all, I lost my family and I went to prison, I was as far away from God as I could have possibly been. But that is not where I wanted to be. Deep down inside I wanted to be strong. I would make resolutions and commitments to change my behaviors and my thoughts. I wanted to be a strong independent man. Free from the chains of deception and addiction.

But the reality of it was that I truly was weak… My mind would always wander back to the drugs and when I tried to stay away from them, I would always feel like I was missing out or depriving myself of something I needed. I was still hungry for the wrong things, my thoughts were consumed with drugs. My thoughts became actions, my actions became habits, my habits became my lifestyle and down I went!

It didn’t matter how strong I was or how independent I wanted to be and do it on my own. I COULD NOT! My thoughts were all wrong.     Jesus said in Matthew 15:19 That out of the heart proceed evil thoughts.     My heart, my thoughts and my hunger were all in the wrong place and I didn’t want to go on. My life was over in my mind. There wasn’t much to live for and I truly thought about ending my life. Something needed to change and it had to change fast.

So as I sat in the woods in a tent that I called home in late December getting ready to get high. I watched a 23 year old kid overdose on heroin and as he hit the ground and started to turn blue everyone that was there ran away. They probably ran because they were afraid and because they all had drugs in their possession. I ran too but I ran to the car to get an overdose kit that I had in the glove box. When I finally got back to the kid on the ground, he was now a frightening blue and his breathing had all but stopped. I injected him with the Narcan, it reversed the effects of the heroin and by the grace of God he slowly woke up. He asked me what happened and when I explained, he was furious, he was mad because I wrecked his high and now he had to find a way to get more dope. Can you imagine?!? I had just saved his life and all he was concerned about was getting high. He wanted the drugs more than his next breath of air.

As I look back, I believe this was a major turning point for me. I realized that I valued life more than things, more than drugs, more than pride or status, more than any of this I wanted to live. But the problem with that was how? How, when I was dying? How, when I was slowly killing myself? In that moment, that insane moment I remembered the words of John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” In that moment of clarity I came to my senses and decided to return to my Father and I surrendered myself to God. I was done trying and failing on my own. I needed Him to change my thought process. On my own, I still hungered for the drugs but what He did instead was change my heart. I no longer felt like an evil villain but instead I felt like a forgiven son, His child. But there was still work to be done. I had to kill my independence, stop trying to do this by myself, admit my own incapability, give up and turn it over to the Father. I surrendered.

That my friends is the moment of my greatest victory. It allowed God to change my heart (that had to happen first). Once that happened, my thoughts, behaviors and hungers soon followed. Striving for change on my own and believing that I alone could do it was a lie that I believed for way too long. Yielding to God and trusting him for that change was the truth.

Now that I was trusting God for the recovery of my life, I needed to focus on Him first but setting my mind on God wasn’t just thinking about him. It was being preoccupied with Him. I had to intentionally and intently focus on God, I had to let my imagination and attention be totally captured by him. He is where my mind wanders to when there is nothing to distract it. I am different, I am changed, I am a new person, because of my Savior.

I truly believe there is a battle raging in this world. It’s a battle for the mind, a battle for our thoughts and ultimately a battle for the soul. What we think and what we believe matters. I was losing this battle. The only way I was able to turn it around was to surrender and trust that God would do the fighting for me. I am hungry for God and I ask the question, what are you hungry for? What does your mind wander too when there is nothing else to distract it. Is it God or is it status, flesh, lust, drugs, alcohol, pride? Are you saying look at me, look what I have accomplished on my own?

The Apostle Paul says in Philippians chapter 3 that if anyone can brag about the things he has accomplished and his status in the community, it’s him. Just listen to what he says. "I was circumcised at 8 days old, I am pure blooded Israeli, I am from the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews if ever there was one. I was a Pharisee with strict obedience to the Jewish law. I was so zealous that I harshly persecuted the church and as for righteousness I obeyed the law without fault. I am blameless." (WOW)

But then he goes on to say that these things that he valued so much, these things he was hungry for are worthless compared to what Christ has done. Yes everything is worthless compared to the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus the Lord. He says that all these things, are dung, crap, garbage and that he has thrown them away so that he can gain Christ and His righteousness.

So all the things Paul was hungry for; pride, status, recognition, (look at me) are nothing compared to a life with Christ. He is right. Proverbs 16:3 says Commit your works to the Lord and your thoughts will be establishedRemember thoughts become actions, actions become habits and your habits determine your lifestyle, your eternal lifestyle.

Every time I try to take control of my life and do it without God, the wheels come off and it all falls apart. Now I surrender to God and put Him in control, I trust Him for everything. I am happier than I have ever been. There is hope for the addict. There is hope for you.

 Is there something missing in your life, is there a void you are trying to fill? What are you filling it with? God created us to live in a relationship with him. Until we find that relationship there will always be something missing in our lives. We will always be hungry for something to fill the void.

Today I am drug free, I am happy and I am hungry for God. What are you hungry for?

 

Never Too Late

GUEST BLOGGER: Kevin Wilhelm

It’s never too late for most things - to learn to play an instrument; to run a marathon; to heal a broken relationship. 

I have never taken lessons to play an instrument, but am certain I could perhaps play the tambourine or the triangle - with a little practice.  My interest in running a marathon is minimal so that probably won’t get on the bucket list.   But I have experienced God’s infinite grace as He has healed relationships, most notably with my twin brother. 

I had just begun reading the Bible daily late in 2011.  One day just before Christmas I was drawn to Matthew 18:35. I kept reading that verse over and over and over again.

“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

I was a novice in terms of biblical knowledge so the context of the entire chapter was not yet relevant to my life.  All I knew (and God desired) was that I needed desperately to forgive my brother and to seek his forgiveness in return.  Faith actually had driven us apart in a very painful way for more than 15 years.  Faith brought us back together.  I called him on Christmas Day to forgive him and ask for his forgiveness in return.   This surprised him greatly but he was gracious and delighted. 

We didn’t even need to identify the reasons to forgive.  We both just wanted the hurt to stop.  We turned to God rather than our own understanding.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
    do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
    and he will show you which path to take.

Proverbs 3:5-6

You see my brother had turned his life over to Christ a long time ago.  I hadn’t.  Lacking understanding I interpreted his frequent overtures as judgment when really all he ever wanted was for me to experience the same peace and joy that he had come to know.   I learned after the fact how often he had prayed for me during our long separation.  My brother never lost faith that I would be saved.  He knew it was never too late.

Our lifetime is not even a blink of an eye for the Lord.  Fifteen years seemed like forever to me.  But God is patient – very, very patient.  His love (and my brother’s) was clearly worth the wait. 

Relationships are healed every minute of every hour of every day.  We have to recognize the opportunity He provides for us.  God never gives up on us.  We certainly should never give up on each other, There simply is no such thing as too late.