The Last 10 Months – Part I

October 4, 2014 under Unlikely Christian
Share

Hey there!  

*

So…..December 16th, 2013.

*

That’s the last time I’ve posted anything on this website.

*

Pathetic, I know.

*

A lot has happened in 10-ish months.

*

A lot of stuff that could’ve ended up on this site.

*

Here’s some possible titles of the above stuff (in no particular order): 

*

“Hey, I’m leading a community group”

“I’m going back to college, college, college”

“I went to Florida over the summer and all I got was this lousy stent in my artery”

“Why I left my church”

“Why do I continually shirk my responsibilities as spiritual leader of my family?”

“My wife and kids are going to church without me. #Fail”

“Christians acting a fool #3 – Why do I forget I’m a Christian when I’m in my car?”

“Why I’ll probably never go to church again.”

“An Unlikely Christian Podcast…..hmm…..(strokes his beard in thought)

“A great opportunity to share my faith…..and I blew it.”

“Watching real Christians in action, while I stood on the sidelines.”

“Why I decided to go back to church.”

“I can feel God working on me again.”

*

So…..dear readers that actually remember me, which one of the above would you like to hear about first?

*

Okay, the stent in my artery.  Yeah, funny thing, if you have crappy genes, a suspect diet and don’t take care of yourself, it doesn’t matter how much you run or how young you think you are, you can still have a left anterior descending artery blockage of over 95%.  Long story short, I had chest pain while running, then it moved into my left shoulder, so I immediately (2+ months later) went to the doctor to ask what was wrong with my lungs.  Yeah, it wasn’t my lungs.  It was a blocked artery, so I had an angioplasty and the dr. left in a metal stent to keep the artery open.  Looming heart attack narrowly avoided.  Thanks God!  Oh and I went to Florida for a week.  It was cool. 

*

Next?

*

No, let’s save that stuff for last.  How about college?

*

So yeah, I’m in grad school now.  Definitely part of the reason I haven’t written in a while.  I take that back, I’ve actually written plenty, but it’s been school papers and you guys aren’t interested in that.  I’m working on my Masters of Education in School Counseling.  I’m hoping to be done this summer and maybe, just maybe, I’ll get an opportunity to be a counselor next school year.  #FingersCrossed

*

An Unlikely Christian Podcast?

*

Yeah, I get ideas sometimes.  I actually tried a solo podcast once upon a time and…..it…..was…..awful.  I was embarrassed for myself when I listened to it.  So I gave up on that idea.  But it kept popping up in my head so I talked it over with a couple of iron-sharpening friends of mine and we are going to give it a whirl one day and see what happens.  I make no promises that the recordings will ever see the light of day, but it should be fun and who knows right?

*

Next?

*

Well that kind of goes with the other stuff I’m saving for last, so let’s go with Community Group Leader.

*

So when I started going to a new church in June 2011, I told God that I would say “yes” to pretty much any church opportunities that presented themselves, even ones outside of my comfort zone.  Like a men’s retreat for instance.  There was no way I would’ve ever thought about going to one of those, but I did, and it was a life altering experience that also gave me some life-long friends.  I also did some first impressions type volunteering – greeting, door holding, hand-shaking, golf cart driving etc.  I even helped out in the nursery once when they were short-handed.  Let’s see…..oh yeah, this is weird for me, I accepted the role of a table-leader twice during a couple of men’s studies.  I can’t tell you how out of my element I was in those situations, but I did it, probably not all that well, but I did it nonetheless and grew from the experiences.  I also joined a CG (community group).  Now let me tell you something about community groups.  I love them in theory, but in reality I’m an introvert and tend to struggle in people situations.  I’m so bad at the small talk, connecting and general people type stuff.  Social situations, which include people I don’t know, are so not my thing, in fact I’ve pretty much always lived my life avoiding, sometimes even fleeing, said situations.  It takes me a long time to get comfortable in situations like that and I never did get comfortable in my CG.  So you can imagine my dismay and anxiety level when I got a phone call asking me to lead one.

*

Since, as I mentioned before, I’d told God I’d say yes to things, I told the church, “Yeah…..I’ll think about it.”

*

So I thought about it.  I thought about how my promise to God to say yes wasn’t technically a “promise.”  I mean I don’t think I ever said the word “promise” so it was probably more of a “I’ll probably say yes to things, but have the right to decline.”  I mean, I never signed anything so it wasn’t really a binding agreement.

*

So I went ahead and said yes.

*

And at first I was feeling pretty good about things.  I was already friends with the families that were going to be there. 

*

Comfort level?

*

I’m good.

*

But then the pastor told me a new couple would be joining.

*

Comfort level?

*

DEFCON 3

*

My introvert anxiety levels skyrocketed, while my spiritual confidence levels plummeted.  What if they know more than me?  I’ve only been a Christian for a little over a handful of years, and they’re probably going to be wondering, “What’s this jack-wagon doing leading a community group?  Who put this guy in a leadership position when his prayers make you think of Ben Stiller in “Meet the Parents” and has he seen that movie because that’s not really a movie a Christian needs to be seeing.  I bet he’s seen a bunch of Quentin Tarantino movies too, probably owns “Pulp Fiction” on Blu-ray, come on honey, get the keys, we’re out of here!”  How could they possibly know that?

*

Welcome to my brain folks.

*

But I pulled myself together and thought, “You know what?  I’m going to try my best.  Maybe employ a little ‘fake it till you make it’ and everything is going to be alright.”

*

T-Minus 3 hours till 1st CG Meeting – Phone rings.

*

It’s a church staff member.

*

He and his family are coming to our CG.

*

DEFCON OH…..MY…..GOSH!

*

Then, as if that wasn’t already enough, my daughter calls me upstairs.  Her pet rat is suffering.  Like sad, suffering.  Like even if you hate rats, you’d be sad at the sight of this one.  It’s bleeding and its breathing has become a chore, aka it needs help going to the light. 

*

DEFCON Well…..crap…..

*

I can’t have this future unpleasant task hanging over my head at CG tonight.  Immediate action must be taken.  I’m the dad.  El man-o of el house-o.  This falls squarely under my jurisdiction.  I knew what must be done and I knew it must be done soon, like now.  But how?  I’m not going to go into the different scenarios of “how” that played out in my head because you might unfriend me and I only tell you this story because of the absurdity it added to an already DEFCON…..OH…..MY…..GOSH day.

*

In the end, I did my manly duty, then left to lead my first CG.

*

People say it went well, but I think they were just being polite.

*

I led a couple more, but wasn’t feeling it.

*

And then…..

*

I quit my church.

*

In a future post, I’ll tell you all about that and the other stuff from above that I didn’t touch on.  I’ve got so much to say about what happened and what I’ve learned/what God has taught me since that day. 

*

I’m not sure when that post will be, but I can promise you that it will be sooner than 10-ish months from now.     

 

*

Share
comments: 0 »

Have you tried shutting up?

December 16, 2013 under Unlikely Christian
Share

*

Hey there good Christian,

*

Got some people in your life far from Christ?

*

I know right?  “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.”  – Luke 10:2 

*

I know you’ve read that before, so you know you have your work cut out for you and since the workers are few, that means you have to work harder right?  Because, “…..how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?  And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!”Romans 10:14-15 

*

So you’re telling them about Jesus, inviting them to church/encouraging them to find a good church home, inviting them to your Community Group/Bible Study/Life Group, giving them Bibles, etc…..

*

And you mean to tell me that some of them still aren’t open to it?

*

Hmm…..

*

Well have you tried shutting up?

*

No, the above wasn’t a typo, but before you call me a big meanie and go back to crushing more candy, please hear me out.

*

We are called by God to help reach the lost, to be the light etc…..I get it, but we also have to be mindful of the possibility that SOMETIMES our actions, words and persistence could be doing more harm than good, especially if your attempts haven’t been received well.

*

Look, I know you’re just doing what you feel like you should be doing as a Christian, but some people won’t see it that way.

*

Let me break it down for you.

*

You see yourself as a good Christian who’s just trying to save their soul.  They see you as a pushy Christian with an agenda.  #GoAway

*

You see yourself as a good Christian who knows how much God has changed your life and you want it so badly for this person as well.  They see you as somebody who just doesn’t know when to stop.  #TheyRankTelemarketersHigherThanYou

*

You see yourself as a good Christian who’s just trying to shine your light.  They see you as a three year old with a flashlight.  #DangMyEyes!  And while it’s true that Jesus used blindness to help convert Saul/Paul, you aren’t Jesus.   

*

Seriously, some people just aren’t ready, and the more you push it, the more you are widening the gap rather than closing it.  Believe me when I tell you this, because I used to be that guy who wished Christians would just keep all that Jesus stuff to themselves.  You know how many of those Christians that continually beat me over the head with “Jesus talk” actually brought me closer to God?  ZERO.  They made me loathe Christians.

*

Sometimes you just have to back off.  Even Jesus told His disciples that, If any household or town refuses to welcome you or listen to your message, shake its dust from your feet as you leave.” – Matthew 10:14

*

Does that mean you should give up on these people?

*

Umm…..no.

*

Just shut up and…..

*

Pray for them.  God is the one who changes people anyway.  It’s not your job to save everybody.  I know it might feel like it, especially if they are family, but it’s not.  Give it to God continually and then some more and then some more.  It may take 10, 20, 30 years, heck you might not even be around to see it come to fruition, but keep it up.  I’m the product of at least 15 years of continual prayer.

*

Be a sermon instead of preaching one.  Actions speak louder than words so always be walking the walk. 

*

And…..

*

Love them.  #Verb

*

We are not called to personally lead EVERYBODY we know to Christ. 

*

This is God’s Orchestra.

*

Sometimes He’ll let us get the song started with a beautiful cello solo, other times He might only call on us to strike the triangle a couple of times.  Sometimes we might get a big part – playing throughout the song.  And sometimes, If we’re lucky, He may let us play the final note in the grand finale, but sometimes, the song may not call for our instrument at all.  No matter how much we want to clang our cymbals, it’s just not meant to be.

*

I know you want to, I know it feels like you need to, but don’t do it.

*

Instead.

*

Pray.

*

Be a sermon.

*

Love.

*

And keep your cymbals at the ready, and your eye on The Great Conductor.

*

Share

Once upon a…..

November 15, 2013 under Unlikely Christian
Share

once upon a 21 years ago

 

 

 

Today is the 21st anniversary of the first date with my wife. 

*

Next month we will celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary.

*

Thank you…..Thank you very much…..Oh you’re too kind…..Thank you.

*

She’s a fantastic wife, mother and my bff.  I can’t begin to tell you how thankful I am for her. 

*

But I’m also thankful that she chose not to adhere to the, “Don’t date un-believers/non-Christians” advice that so many pastors/Christians like to give.

*

Every time I hear somebody say something like that, I cringe, because my wife was a Christian when I met her.  I, on the other hand, was a non-believer/un-believer/not-really-sure-what-I-believer.  Whatever I was, there’s one thing I definitely wasn’t – a Christian. 

*

Uh-oh!

*

But here we are, still together 21 years later.  Take that pastors and well meaning Christians!

*

Now don’t get me wrong, I totally get why they say that.  Non-Christians have been leading Christians astray since the days of ACTS.  BUT, Christians have also been leading non-Christians to Christ since even before then.  “Hey you should hear this Jesus guy, I think he’s talking over by the lake right now.  We should totally go.  I hear there’s an all you can eat fish buffet too.”

*

And yeah I know, the pastors/Christians who say things like that are quick to back it up with Biblical evidence, “What harmony can there be between Christ and the devil?  How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever?”2 Corinthians 6:15 NLT

*

But it also says, and I’m paraphrasing, that “Christian” wives can win over their unbelieving husbands by their behavior.1 Peter 3:1-2  And yeah, she played an instrumental part in me becoming a Christian almost 6 years ago and she continues to be a source of strength and inspiration in my walk today.

*

So…..

*

Who’s right and who’s wrong in this argument?

*

Well, I’m going to side with God on this one because I have no doubt that when it comes to my wife, God orchestrated the whole thing.

*

And I’m glad He did!

*

Because I mean, come on, look at these two kids!

*

Non-Christian & Christian*

Happy 21st First Date Anniversary to my beautiful bride, BFF and co-creator of our two teens!

*

Thank you God!

 

Share

Don’t be a punk

November 3, 2013 under Unlikely Christian
Share

punk*

The below video was shot in Jan 2009.

*

My 2009 Resolution?

*

To be a good spiritual leader for my family.

*

 

My 2009 Resolution from Unlikely Christian on Vimeo.

*

So…..how’d that work out?

*

Well…..it’s almost 5 years later, and other than a better haircut, some extra facial hair and a new hoodie, that’s still me today. 

*

DANG IT!  DANG IT!!  DANG IT!!!

*

Well guess what?  Things are about to change.

*

For reals this time.

*

I’m calling myself out publicly!  

*

I’m tired of continuously falling short in a category where there’s so much at stake!

*

To hell with my comfort zone!  That’s right I said, “hell.”

*

Like my friend & fellow Iron Sharpener, Eric so eloquently put it, a couple weeks back when speaking on this subject, “Don’t be a punk.”

*

He’s so right.  If I’m not willing to step up and lead my family like God is calling me to, I’m a punk.

*

Well…..I’m tired of being a punk.

*

It’s time to step up!

*

Now!  Today!

 

I know I’m not alone in this.  I know for a FACT that there are many men out there struggling in this area.  Strong men that would give up their very lives for their family, yet for some reason, when it comes to stepping up and leading their families as God calls men to do, just can’t seem to engage.  They want to, but for whatever reason just can’t or won’t.

*

 

Fellas,

 

*

 

Enough already!

 

*

 

You know what you need to do.

 

*

 

Step up.

 

*

 

Don’t be a punk.

 

*

 

“LET’S DO THIS!” (Wise words from another fellow Iron Sharpener – Chris)

*

*

Ladies,

I know it might sound ridiculous.  On the surface it seems like it should be super easy for a man to just man up, and lovingly lead his family, but it’s not.  Opposition is fierce because the stakes are so high.  If Christian men were leading like they know they should, it would change the world, not could change the world, WOULD.  We need your support, patience, understanding, encouragement and sometimes maybe a little nudge.

 

 

Okay, back to the fellas, how about it?  Are you in?  I’m starting today and I’ll be transparently sharing along the way.

*

Join me, let’s do this together. Start small if you have to, but start.   There’s no way you’ll regret it.

*

God, I don’t know how this is gonna look.  I just can’t wrap my head around it, and that’s something you know I like to do before I jump.  It’s a big part of why I’ve never taken that first step. But I trust you, so I give up my incessant needing to know and put it in your hands. I pray that when I feel inadequate or apprehensive, you’ll give me peace, and when I think about sinking deeper into the safe confines of my comfort zone, you’ll give me the push I need.  I pray for your guidance, strength and everything I’ll need to be the man you’re calling me to be. – Amen

 

Share

God Stories #1 – Eric

March 16, 2013 under God Stories
Share

God Stories #1 - Eric*

God Stories are powerful, but only when they’re shared.  Here’s the first, in what I’m hoping will be MANY, God Stories to be shared on UnlikelyChristian.com.  I hope you enjoy!

*

I was a mistake.

*

Well that is how I viewed life during my early years. And when I say early years, I mean 22 years to be exact.

*

Before I jump in the deep end I want to warn you. I am not a blogger, I am not a writer, and I am not good at keeping it short. So please bear with me as I tell my Unlikely Christian story.

*

In 1978 my bio-parents got pregnant with me in Acuna, Mexico. Only one problem, my bio-mom got pregnant when they were going through a tough time/separation. They decided to work it out but my bio-father made a stance, my bio-mom had to either abort me or give me away because he was not going to raise another man’s baby. So my bio-mom made arrangements to give me away for adoption.

*

She reached out to her cousin who lived in Texas. He had married a Fort Worth girl but she could not have children due to an illness she had since childhood. Well they jumped all over the opportunity and before they knew it, I was here. Getting over the Mexico/Texas border would take me an hour to write about and could possibly get people in trouble so I will just fast forward 10 years. :-)

*

Now between the ages of 1-10, my life was gravy! We didn’t have much but I was spoiled rotten.

*

  • I had too many toys, and I didn’t pick them up.
  • I took over the TV after school everyday.
  • My dad took me fishing or hunting every weekend.
  • My mom made me my favorite meals when I wanted them.
  • I had the best dog ever and his name was Skippy.

*

Now up to this point I knew I was adopted but I never felt adopted. It was just a word to me. Then it happened.

*

Around 10-11 years old, I had to go back to Mexico to finalize some paper work for my citizenship. Well part of this visit included getting signatures from my bios. I will never forget this day. I remember walking up to a strange couple, both crying, reaching out their arms to hug me calling me son in Spanish. My bio-sisters were there as well which made it even weirder. Now all of this was a bit overwhelming for me at this young age. First off, who are these strange people and secondly, why does this old man resemble me?

*

As you can imagine this was tough to process as a kid and no one really spoke to me about this day or even asked me how I was feeling. It was at this time I realized that I was not wanted when I was born because I was a mistake. The bright side to all of this was at least my adoptive parents wanted me.  I was just looking forward to getting home and getting thing back to normal.

*

This was not the case unfortunately. A short time later my dad, left my mom and I. I won’t get into details but it was not pretty. My mom was disabled but had to go to work to put food on the table. She worked full time and also ran on dialysis. My dad was off running around so our fishing days and hunting days were no more. Now this left me home by myself with nothing but time. I remember one day listening to a Jackie Wilson tape trying to wish my dad home. It didn’t work and that feeling of unwanted came rushing back to me. So with out my dad there to guide me, who would I follow?

*

The answer to this is, I chose the wrong person!

*

I was 12 when I started hanging out with my neighbor who was 3 years older than me. Now I wanted to be just like him, he had the latest clothes, the cleanest fade in all of GP, the newest Jordans, an Alpine in his truck, and money in his pocket. Now he was a complete ladies man, he would bring girls home daily it seemed. He always looked after me in our neighborhood and treated me like a little brother. I remember watching him pick up girls, thinking one day I’ll have that same game. It seems harmless but this was the beginning of something bad. I wanted to be just like him. He had everything that made you popular, so I wanted to be just like him! Like I said, this was the wrong person to try and emulate. I picked up some very bad habits from him.

*

Six months after turning 12 I was sexually active. But this was not my decision. My neighbor’s niece stayed the summer and flirted with me daily. She was 18 years old and most young boys dream. Looking back at this I was completely used and many would call it child abuse. At least that is what the counselor told me. :-) I struggled calling it that for a long time because I wanted it too and I didn’t like the idea of being a victim of sexual abuse. But it happened and this led to bad habits I battled for a long time.

*

My dad eventually worked things out with my mom when I was in HS but the damage had already been done. I was going down a path that was not God’s design. I don’t blame my dad for any of what happened, he is my pops and I love him dearly. I am grateful that he adopted me and spent time with me. It is just a shame that he left when he did. I understand he had his own brokenness to deal with. Unfortunately it happened at a vulnerable age for me.

*

By the time I hit 19 my life I had little going right. I got my High School girlfriend pregnant and I was a father at the age of 17. I dropped out of school with 2 days left in the year because I got in a fight. Yep that right, 2 days left in school. Not my proudest moment. I was involved in a neighborhood distribution business to make ends meet since I couldn’t get a good paying job to take care of my little one.  I helped my cousin as a bookie taking payments and bets. Not too dangerous but later found out it was illegal. I treated sex very casual like the rest of pop culture.

*

Then it happened. My mom passed away in May 1999. With no siblings to lean on and a father that completely fell apart, I was more alone than I had ever been. Between the months of May 1999 and Dec 1999, I don’t remember much. I know there was a lot of drinking with my dad and long sad nights.

*

One night my boys drug me out to the club and wouldn’t you know it I met my future wife. Go figure huh.

*

I met my wife in December 1999 and within 6 months we started living together. We had something special but we were living together out of wedlock, which led to all kinds of drama. She had mentioned church a few times and sometime in 2001 my Aunt invited us to church. I know invites might not seem important but this invite changed the course of our lives.

*

June of 2001, we attended Fellowship Church in Grapevine, TX. Ed Young Jr was on stage with his brother Ben. The message was titled “The One”. It was about finding your spouse. I don’t remember anything from it except for this line.

*

“Ladies, if you are living with your boyfriend and having pre-marital sex, why will he buy the cow if he is getting the milk for free?!”

*

#TruthBomb

*

I remember thinking “Oh great, she is definitely leaving now.” What I didn’t know was that God had planted his seed inside her and me.

*

A few days later, we had an argument and I asked her if we should try it God’s way? Well she moved back home with her mom and I thought for sure we would fail. God had something else planned for us. Three weeks after she moved back home, I accepted Jesus Christ in my heart. We were baptized together on the same day.

*

When I got saved I realized something, I wasn’t a mistake. God had a plan for me the entire time. All I had to do was accept his grace and love.

*

Four weeks later, I proposed to her at church at the same fountain we were baptized in. Eight months later we got married in her grandma’s house and she made me the happiest man in the world.

*

It has been nearly 12 years since I accepted Jesus in my heart and it was my best decision ever. I am not proud of my past or the decisions I made but I am thankful for my lessons learned. That my story so far, but that’s not the end. I am just getting started!

*

GP TexMex

*

I am truly blessed to call Eric a friend.  He’s spoken so much truth into my life and helped me to grow as a Christian & spiritual leader, more than he knows.  His faith, I aspire to have.  Thanks Eric, for FINALLY sharing your story!
*
Want to share your God Story?  E-mail it to me at me@unlikelychristian.com
Share