The One About Why I’m On a Break

(For my fellow Friends fanatics, I just couldn’t pass up that title.)

But in all seriousness, I am on a break of sorts. I often talk and write about the importance of the process, and sometimes the greatness of the process involves some pitstops along the way.

I’ve been serving as one of the worship pastors at my church for some two and a half years, now, but I’ve been involved in some type of ministry for a little over ten years. The way things work at our church is that every pastor has a guaranteed two weeks off every year, responsibility free.

This idea of a sabbatical is something that we hold dear as a church. With as much as pastors constantly pour out, it’s important for them to have the opportunity to be able to take a rest, too.

I’ll be completely honest and say that when the sabbatical idea was first implemented, I wasn’t all sure I needed it. In my optimism (and arrogance), I went a whole year without taking a real break.

A year and a half later, I found myself in a place of fatigue. I found myself in a place of loving Jesus with all of my heart, but not finding so much joy in the community that I am usually so incredibly passionate about. This hurt my heart so much. I love community, and I love being a part of an incredible body of believers that love with such a fervor.

My church is an amazing, unique group of people. We all come from such various backgrounds, but we all seem to have one specific thing in common: we’re sometimes the black sheep of our families. Often, we find not only community, but family in each other. We’ve spent many Thanksgivings, Christmases, and New Years together throughout the years. We’ve celebrated birthdays and graduations together, too. The thing about family, though, is that sometimes family is messy.

Let’s be real. I love my church and cannot possibly imagine another place where I would want to be, but I started having these very real feelings of just being flat out exhausted. I sat down with my pastor who also happens to be my amazing dad.

“Dad. I love Jesus so much. That’ll never change, but I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired. I’m doing church right now on fumes.”

I cried, of course. I’m a crybaby; I always cry and everyone knows that. It was one of the more honest conversations with my dad that we’ve had. Snot, tears, and curse words were spilled from my heart that night.

“Son, you need a break. No questions asked. Take a month and find yourself again.”

Relief. I love my dad. One of the things about my dad that I love so much is that he understands me. We sometimes will take personality tests for the fun of it, and we consistently score complete opposites of each other. I’m right-brained and creative. Dad’s left-brained and analytical.

I’m not an easy person to understand. Most creatives and ENFPs aren’t easy to understand. For someone like my dad to not only have to work with me at church but live with me, I cannot imagine how frustrating I can be at times for him. Where he’s sure about most things and always has a definitive answer to most problems, I see things in many shades of grey with multiple solutions and perspectives.

I’ve been on break for a week now, and it’s hard and amazing at the same time. I know that Jesus is best revealed in community, when you’re surrounded by like-minded people who, like everyone else, was created in His image. But break has also been good because I’ve had the chance to sit back and think about my heart.

I’ve checked my heart over the last week. I’ve searched through its infinite caverns and haven’t necessarily liked what I’ve found. I’ve searched through the maze, though, and have discovered that its foundations are much more established than I’ve allowed myself to feel.

Some people have asked questions. People always do. My intention for this post is clear up any doubts before rumors starts.

Here’s to three more weeks of rest.

Selah.

The One About Autumn Leaves

​It’s been a while since I last took the time to sit down and write, and I’m realizing as I type this sentence that it was about a year ago that I sat down to write my first piece for this blogging project. Have I been faithful to it like I said I was? Nope. But, really, how surprising is that? Unfortunately, I feel like I’m the type of person that has great ideas but when it comes to actually implementing those ideas I lose interest and get bored.

​Actually, I recently got into this phase that had me really interested in figuring out what my personality type was, and after spending some time online and taking a few tests, my results weren’t all that surprising. I got ENFP (Extraverted iNtuition Feeling and Perceiving), which basically translates to a Spontaneous Idealist. Besides the fact that I think that has a nice ring to it, the description was pretty accurate, I think. “Spontaneous Idealists are masters of communication and very amusing and gifted entertainers. Fun and variety are guaranteed when they are around. However, they are sometimes somewhat too impulsive in dealing with others and can hurt people without really meaning to do so, due to their direct and sometimes critical nature. This personality type is a keen and alert observer; they miss nothing which is going on around them.”

Here's a snap of the tree at the church I was referring to.

Here’s a snap of the tree at the church I was referring to.

​Where was I? Right, talking about how I’ve been neglecting the blogging thing. Well, you know what? Blogging is difficult when you’re taking 18 hours and have multiple projects, papers, presentations due weekly in two different languages.
​I guess my specific “theme” for this post is change. The very sound of that word sends shivers down my spine. I don’t do change well. My personality type says I like spontaneity, which I do, but usually when I’m the one in charge of creating the spontaneity. As I near the end of my last fall semester ever, I’m realizing that there’s a lot changing around me, but not that I’m necessarily adapting to those changes – or that the changes in my environment are changing me internally and not vice versa.
​Let me explain what I’m feeling using a visual anecdote cause that’s how I best learn and explain things. The other day after church, I was playing with some of the kids in the parking lot while some of the real adults were having a meeting. In the yard of the church there’s this tree whose leaves actually change shades of yellow and orange every fall (a rare sight in SA).
​Right now, those leaves are a bright shade of yellow, and as I took a few seconds to look at the tree’s leaves, I related to that tree in that instant. This time of year in Texas, as the weather gets (inconsistently) cooler and cooler, that tree has no choice but for its leaves to change. Those leaves and that tree are affected by the environment. Eventually, those yellow leaves will turn orange, then brown, and then one of us will be raking them up into piles in the church yard.
​And in that moment, I related SO much with that tree, that tree who, in a few weeks, will be dormant – at least on the surface. It’s leaves will fall and nothing but the tree’s brown and grey branches will remain – a skeleton of what once was  until, that is, when Spring comes and months of preparation finally comes into sight and we are able to literally see the fruits of the tree’s labor.

Update: here's the same tree a week after the original photo was taken.

Update: here’s the same tree a week after the original photo was taken.

​As I stood there almost feeling sorry for the tree’s inevitable dormancy, I felt in my heart that I’m in my own state of dormancy – waiting for the semester to finish, waiting for graduation, waiting for something and not actively doing anything. “Wonderful,” I thought sarcastically, “I’m like a dead tree right now.” But the truth is that there’s a lot of power in dormancy, you know? That tree isn’t really dormant in the sense that we know that word. That tree is building up strength and preparing for Spring when it’ll come back in full force. I guess it’s kinda like that with me right now. In our times of stillness and quiet I would like to believe that, just like that tree will be in it’s state of dormancy, that we’re preparing for something big. I think it’s time we fully embraced that journey that so often is filled with bouts of change and dormancy.

The One With the Jellyfish

First of all, you have no idea how excited I am that one of my blog posts is named directly after an episode of Friends, the season four premier, to be exact.


 

I’m currently in a major transition point in my life right now. Exactly one year from now, I will have been graduated from college with my Bachelor’s in Communication and Spanish, and I totally know what I’m going to do when I graduate.

No I don’t. I don’t have a clue.

Do I go on to grad school? Do I make the transition to Bethel Redding for BSSM? Do I take the opportunity to live at Heidi Baker’s orphanage in Mozambique for a few months after school, should I get accepted to the program? Should I apply for PR positions here in San Antonio? Should I have already been applying for the positions? When do my loan payments kick in? 

So many questions. These questions would come up at the most inconvenient of times, too. I would ask myself these questions in the green room minutes before the team would go out to lead a worship set. I’d ask myself these questions on the bus to school and miss my stop cause I was so caught up in my thoughts. I’d ask myself these questions while laying in bed and think about them for two to three hours before falling asleep each night.

All of these thoughts and questions have been overwhelming. It seems as though they’ve constantly been in the back of my mind for months now.

All of this leads up to this past weekend. Every year now for the past four years, my friends and I take a small trip to Port Aransas for a few days to have fun and unwind. Those that know me, know my love and affection that I have for the beach. It’s my favorite place.

My friends and I always have fun on the trip. The drive down to the coast usually consists of dumb road games and blaring country music. We usually run around, play soccer, swim in the waves, build bonfires…all of that is well and good, but I ALWAYS make it a point to break away from the group for about an hour or so to take a walk from our tent to the pier down the beach. And I always underestimate the time and distance from our tent to the pier.

It was sunset; the Golden Hour, as photographers call it. The wind was blowing and causing bigger swells than usual, and in the distance, a lightning storm was shrouding the horizon is deep, dark clouds. I walked barefoot along the water’s edge, just at the point where the waves pass the baton to the sand, and I was telling Him all that was on my mind. The swells continued to grow, the wind grew stronger, and the lightning edged it’s way nearer to the shore. 

I reached the pier, and asked, “What am I supposed to be doing? What do You want me to do?”

“As much as I am a God of the surprises and of the suddenlies, I am a God of the processes. Relax. Rest.”

After I heard this, I noticed the storm fast approaching so I hurried my way back to the tent. The storm wound up passing over us without a drop of rain until later that night, but what I heard in my head remained

Horace Caldwell Pier, Port Aransas, Texas.

Horace Caldwell Pier, Port Aransas, Texas.

heavy in my heart. I was reminded of a BSW session when Jenn Johnson spoke on rest. “Remember: Rest is not the absence of work, but the presence of peace in all the work.”

And now, I’m at peace. Every time I think about these questions about my future, I remind myself that He is a God of the processes.

Oh, and the next day my friends and I were at North Beach in Corpus Christi and I got stung by a tiny little jellyfish on my foot and that’s my excuse for naming this post directly after a Friends episode.


 

I am on the leadership team at Living Word Church in San Antonio, TX. The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect the views and beliefs held at Living Word Church.

The One About the Decade

It’s hard to believe that in just two short weeks, our church, LWIC, will be celebrating ten years of life. For nearly half of my 21 years, I’ve been somehow involved in ministry, and to say that it’s all been rainbows and butterflies would be a lie. Continue reading to see what 10 years in ministry has taught this young 21-year old…


 

About two months ago, I was sitting up in bed reading and listening to some Civil Wars (duh), when one of their lyrics caught my attention:

Let me in the walls

you’ve built around.

We can light a match

and burn them down.

Watch the Dust to Dust video here:

And then the little voice in my head said, “Tell me about the walls you’ve built this past decade.” I closed the book in my lap and let out a heavy sigh. I started thinking about how many musicians, worship leaders, friends, family, and partners I’ve seen walk out the front doors of the church and never walk back in.

I thought about the many people that I was once close to and about how now I’m not even sure if they live in the same city as me anymore.

I thought about the people that I may have once called ‘family,’ and the ones who we spent Easters and Independence Days with…and how now, there is no relationship to speak of.

I thought about the laughs, tears, and close friendships that were shared with people who are now complete strangers to me.

I’m a relational person. I crave human contact. Sometimes, when people you trust, love, and are close to leave, and the relationship dissolves with them…you become so used to it that you become calloused to the feelings of losing someone you’re close to.

At one point in the past six months, I told myself, “Jonathan, you CANNOT allow yourself to feel the hurt of seeing someone leave again. You need to accept the part of being in ministry that involves people leaving and relationships ceasing to exist. They way to stop that is to stop building those relationships.”

I convinced myself that the best way to avoid feeling like crap again was to not get close to anyone. If I didn’t allow the opportunity to invest my emotions, energy, and love on people that would just eventually leave, then I wouldn’t have to worry about feeling horrible when they do decide to move on. Cause they ARE going to move on at some point.

The day I decided to stop building deeper relationships with people is also the day I decided that I wasn’t going to invest too much of myself in my current relationships. That day, I built a tall, wide, impenetrable wall.

Who knows how much time passed as I sat on my bed that night thinking back to the not-too-distant day when I made that decision, but again, the voice spoke, “Jonathan, I found a match. Let’s burn this wall down.”

The next few weeks after that night, He started teaching me about the importance of community and that with my wall up, I effectively exclude myself from community.

I’ve learned how absolutely important it is to surround yourself with people who love you, who aren’t afraid of calling you out on your crap, and who challenge you to be better. I’ve learned that I’m already surrounded by some pretty amazing people, and that I just need to let them in.

I’ve taken it upon myself to not be afraid of emotions that I feel. I’ve learned that it’s completely okay to call someone I trust and tell them about how angry, hurt, sad, or afraid I am. I’ve realized that there is so much power in doing life with people.

Everyday that I’m around these people that God’s placed in my path, I’m amazed at their strength, dignity, power, transparency, wisdom, faithfulness, bravery, passion, and honor each and every one of them walk in.

I’ve reminded myself that we are all created in His image. By reminding myself of that, I’ve realized that it is in community that more of Him is revealed, because we all exude and leak different aspects and characteristics of Him.

To my tribe at LWIC: Without listing any names (you know who you are), here’s to you. Thank you for teaching me these things without even knowing it.

To my long-distance friends, Andrew, Grace, Paul, Jeshua, Lisa, and Alex: Y’all are the best. Thanks for responding to my 4 am texts and phone calls. (And thanks for being the calm one when I occasionally freak out.)

Friends, I think it’s about time to light a match and burn those walls down.


I am on the leadership team at Living Word Church in San Antonio, TX. The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect the views and beliefs held at LWIC.

The One About Rafiki

I have the incredible privilege of introducing my first guest post to my blog written by one of my favorite people on the planet. Gloria Morales is an Associate Pastor at Living Word Church. Together, her and her husband, Johnny own holyCUPCAKE!, a cupcake delivery business in San Antonio, Texas, where they reside with their two children. 


“It is time.” Rafiki quote. Yes, the creepy little monkey from The Lion King. Rafiki is my favorite. I love the part when he says, “it is time.” I know you just said it in your best Rafiki voice. I know I did. Actually, anytime those words come out of my mouth I say it in my best Rafiki voice. This part of the movie is so exciting! It is time for Simba to return.  It is time for Simba to stop running from his past. It is time for Simba to be bold and roar…like a lion.

Rafiki also said, “Ah yes, the past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it, or learn from it.”

TRUTH!

Think about this for a minute, I bet you’ve been hurt by a family member more often than by a stranger or friend. Why is that? There’s a saying: “You always hurt the one you love.” Really? Why? I’ve been hurt by family before. I’ve cried and cussed. I’ve pondered and prayed. God listened. Did he move on that person? Not always. He moved on me. I forgave. I continue to love. I continue to pray. This is in no way easy for me. But I decided that it is time. The word of God says we are to be loving, forgiving, kind, joyous, peaceful, tolerant, gentle, faithful, able to control our actions and our words (ref. Gal.5:22-23). That’s a lot of fruit! You can’t fit all that into one of those little brown paper bags I use for my son’s school lunch. This is like one of those giant fruit baskets you get for Christmas!  Ah, Christmas.

As our heart aches, we should pray. God will listen and He will move; although, it isn’t always in the way we want Him to move. We think, God just fix that person, move on their heart and make that person say I’m sorry to me for hurting me and making me cry and cuss. Jesus is like – WHAT! If that’s the kind of thing you say in prayer time during your heartache then it is time to examine YOUR heart. I did. It is time to be more obedient to what the word of God says about the fruit of the Spirit.

I love the Message Bible version of Galatians 5:25-26 – Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original. 

Powerful! Are you carrying hurt and heartache? How long has it been? Have you forgiven that person? It is time. I’d ask you to pray that Jesus give you direction as to whether or not to speak to this person about the situation or to simply forgive them in your heart and mind in your quiet time with the Lord. We are to be peaceful people full of love and full of joy. Be kind. Be gentle. Be faithful. Be an influence to those who are in your circle of life.

It most definitely is time.


Both Jonathan Hernandez and Gloria Morales are on the leadership team at Living Word Church in San Antonio, Texas. The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect the views expressed at Living Word Church.

The One Where I Rant (About Feminism)

A couple of months ago, I was having coffee and eating a bagel before class, when my phone buzzed. It was a Twitter notification saying that someone had sent me a direct, or private message. I opened it, and saw that it was from someone who followed me, but that I haven’t met in person.

Jonathan, does your church REALLY have women in leadership?

The question really took me by surprise. The answer is, yes, our church really does have women in leadership. Our church has four female pastors, who are four of the strongest, most powerful women I have ever met.

Since that morning, I’ve read tons and tons of literature about the role of women in the church. What should they do? What should they not do? For the past year, every time I read somewhere online or on another person’s blog about how a women was told to shut up in church, I get angry. Over the past year, I’ve read in detail about just how pro-women Jesus was when He was on Earth.

And, I’ve begun to ask myself what the consequences are of silencing women. The answer is that the consequences are huge.

Last summer, I asked a friend of the church, who I consider to be one of the wisest people I have ever met about women’s role in the church. I remember asking him specifically about God’s gender. “Jonathan, God is not a man or a woman. God is all gender. Everything feminine and  everything masculine  can be found in the person of God.”

That went hand-in-hand with something I remember Kris Vallotton talking about during my time at Bethel. I remember him saying that God created both man and women in His image. This means that it is both man and woman who reveal who God is. Silencing women effectively says, “I’m okay with just knowing half of who God is.”

A couple months ago, I got into my first “Twitter war” with an “open-air” preacher who has been arrested on multiple accounts for harassment, and who firmly believes that women should be silent in the church, that women should never assert a teaching role over men, and that men who read women’s blogs are sinning. The argument was about how “un-masculine” and “unjust” it was for a Christian man to defend feminism.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be guilty of shutting God’s children up. I believe everyone can and does hear from Him, and I don’t want to be guilty of eliminating 50% of people that I can learn from and see God in.

Here are some links to people who capture my thoughts on Feminism more eloquently that I ever could. Enjoy!

 Sarah Bessey: In which I’m a feminist, sure, but first I’m a disciple of Jesus Christ

Ailina Carona: A Woman President

Micah J. Murray: How Feminism Hurts Men

Preston Yancey: when i am a christian feminist in retrospect

Rachel Held Evans: What Feminism is Not…


I am on the leadership team at Living Word Church in San Antonio, Texas. The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect the views of Living Word.

The One That’s Pretty Shitty

Disclaimer: This post contains language that some readers might find offensive. The word choice has been made for the sake of making an argument. Ye be warned. 

Some friends and I got together last weekend for some pizza and board games. We’ve all been friends since middle school, so it’s safe to assume that we’ve grown up together and experienced so much together.

We’ve seen each other through the horrible middle school haircuts. We’ve seen each other hurt. We’ve seen each other cry. We’ve seen some of us have children of our own. We’ve seen each other through breakups and makeups. Through the years, we’ve created a safe environment between us in which it’s okay to be you, and even then it’s okay to suck at it sometimes.

In our conversation, one of my friends said something that had me thinking on it for a good week.

“Jonathan, you just really seem to have your life together.”

I raise the bullshit flag on that one.

Maybe on the surface I may seem like I have it all together, but, you know what? I’m nearly 21 years old and I’ve never balanced a checkbook. I’m nearly 21 years old and I STILL DON”T HAVE MY DRIVER’S LICENSE.

You know what else? It wasn’t until six very angry emails from the admin at Trinity that I finally declared my major. (That was after changing it four times.)

The blatant truth is that I struggle with lust, just like most men my age. The truth is that in my past, I’ve been a compulsive liar. The truth is that I use sarcasm for two reasons: to be funny, and to put people down so I don’t feel so inadequate.

To say that I’ve never struggled with porn would be a lie. The truth is that I constantly feel the need to top other people’s stories with my own. The truth is that I’ve compromised my convictions in the past in order to fit in.

It’s safe to say that I’ve dealt with abandonment issues. It’s safe to say that I sometimes have a hard time trusting people. The plain truth is that I’ve stepped on and over people in my past to get my way.

What is it about me that makes me so scared to be open and upfront about these things? Why do I constantly feel the need to paint the picture that I have everything together?

Because I’m ashamed.

Shame is a gross thing. It’s a poison. It travels from your brain through your veins and arteries to your heart and back again. Once infected, it’s an endless cycle of self-doubt, guilt, worry, fear…which lead to turning you into a manipulative jerk that puts people down to make you feel better about yourself.

But, you know what? Self-doubt, guilt, worry, fear, and manipulation are NOT Fruits of the Spirit.

You know what else? It’s okay to not have your shit together just yet. We’re working on it. I’m so thankful that God is a god of the process. I’m so thankful that He grabs me by the hand and is gracious enough to help me work through my issues.

When I say I’m scared, my Jesus tells me I’m brave. When I say I’m guilty, He calls me innocent. When I doubt myself, He assures me of my righteousness. When I worry, He holds my hand just a little tighter.

When we realize that becoming a Christian does not equal immediately having everything together, and that it’s okay to be transparent and open with each other about it, we begin to create a safe community in which nothing is hidden.

My goal for this post is for people to know that it’s okay to not have your shit together. I hope my being open with you will help you realize that being honest with yourself and people you can trust is just one step you can take to being free from shame.


I am on the leadership team at Living Word Church in San Antonio, Texas. The view expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect the views or vision statement of Living Word Church.

The One About Labels

I’ve always thought the hardest and most awkward aspect about social media is the little blurb you have to write about yourself. These little blurb things are mostly on Instagram and Twitter. 

I never know what to write in those things. I hate talking about myself, and I most definitely hate labeling myself. I could say stuff like: Keyboardist, songwriter, worship pastor, photographer, Christian, etc.

The truth is that all of those adjectives and many others have all been in my “about me” section at one time or another, and if you’re anything like me, it’s never easy to figure out what should be in that ever-so-important box of info so other people know everything about you.

That little voice in my head spoke to me today. He said, “Why do you have so much trouble labeling yourself when it’s so easy for you to label others?”

I started thinking about all the people I label and stereotype just based on what I can see.

She likes Nacho Libre? – What horrible taste.

You’ve never heard of The Civil Wars? – Ignorant fool.

Is that guy really wearing Crocs to class? – You’re tacky and I hate you. 
They don’t like the Spurs? – What is wrong with these people?
You don’t believe in Jesus? – We have nothing in common.
I started thinking about how big of a jerk I am. I started thinking about how many friendships and relationships I’ve passed up because I create borders where there are none. 
It’s happened to me, too, I’m sure. I’ve met with people for the first time and the very first thing they ask me is my political leaning. 
“I’m too conservative for my liberal friends and I’m too liberal for my conservative friends,” I’ve learned to say.
They ask what denomination of Christianity I belong to and I say, “none.”
They ask how I feel about women being leaders in the church and a part of me feels sad as to why we’re still having this discussion about women in leadership to begin with.
I think about all the times people have wrongly labeled or misjudged something about my personality or my beliefs. I like to think that I’m more than the sum of my Instagram shots and my tweets.
I’m beginning to realize how much those labels have changed over the past ten years, and I wonder how much more they will change.
I’m sorry if I’ve labeled you. I’m sorry if I’ve never given you a chance because you don’t like Taylor Swift. I forgive you if you don’t like Star Wars. 
Let’s be friends.
 
*Disclaimer- This post reflects my personal opinions and thoughts. I am on the leadership team at Living Word Church in San Antonio, Texas, and this blog does not necessarily reflect the opinions or vision statement of Living Word.

 

 

The One About Strange Fire

It’s been a month since I’ve posted anything…it’s been a very busy month.

It’s a rare Wednesday evening in which I’m at home instead of at the dorm. It’s quiet in my Christmas light-lit bedroom. I’m sitting on my bed with my cat Harley sleeping next to me. The Civil Wars and Bastille are playing softly in the background. There’s a warm cup of green tea with honey steaming on my nightstand. 

It’s a good night. It’s a good night to relax and to think.

I’m thinking about the Body tonight. I’m thinking of my brothers and sisters from all walks of life, and I’ve just finished an article about Strange Fire.

For those who haven’t heard, there’s a body of believers based in California who run a program/conference called Strange Fire led buy John MacArthur. In short, SF is about exposing the lies, deceit, and falsity of the Charismatic Movement. 

This is a loaded topic to write about, but basically the followers of the SF movement don’t believe that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are for today. The followers don’t believe that it’s possible for us to receive revelation from God, that we as Charismatics teach heresy, and our type of worship is “unacceptable worship.” The leaders of SF verbally accuse people to I’ve come to love, respect, and admire as teachers, like Bill Johnson, Kris Vallotton, and Heidi Baker.

I was practically raised in the Charismatic movement. I remember going to conferences and meeting and seeing some of this “strange fire” for the first time. 

I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve seen some things that I don’t agree with, or some things that are just flat out weird. There’s the jumping, the crying, the uncontrollable laughter, the banners, the loud drums, the incomprehensible blabbering…the list goes on.

Taken out of context, of course those things are weird and even bizarre.

I’ve seen my share of backstabbing. I’ve seen my share of lying. I’ve seen my share of hypocrisy. I’ve seen my share of manipulation. I’ve seen my share of gossip and slander. I’ve seen my share of manufactured glory.

But, you know what? I’ve also seen people taking in those without a home during the winter. I’ve seen raging alcoholics become relentless worshipers. I’ve seen broken families mended. I’ve seen people addicted to prescription pain meds leave them at the altar.

I’m sitting here thinking about those who verbally attack our other brothers and sisters, those who accuse and blame and throw stones.

Sometimes, I can just picture God saying, “I just want you people to get along!” 

I could let my offense and anger get the best of me and I could write a lengthy post about what I dislike about Strange Fire, and accuse them of helping to make a gap between people who believe in the same person…

But I was not made in the image of the Accuser. I was made in the image of the Advocate. 

John MacArthur, Phil Johnson, whether you agree with me or not, we are part of the same Body. I love you, no matter what you may say about my other brothers and sisters. 

Let’s have some coffee and chat about the common denominator in both of our different schools of thought: 

Jesus.

The One When I Pretend to be a Life Coach

To be completely honest with you, I have never really been one to make any New Year resolutions. I think I subconsciously realize that I won’t keep up with them, or I think that a new year really is no big deal but just another day.

This year is different, though. I find myself having such excitement, anticipation, and joy about 2014…and I never really feel anything different about a new year. 2014 is going to be BIG. It’s going to be filled with fulfilled promises, bigger opportunities, and restored relationships. Doesn’t that sound exciting? 

The other day, I went camping with some close friends of mine and we got to talking about what we want to do differently this year. There’s just something about sitting around a campfire on a cold night by the river that brings about the best conversation among friends. We had s’mores and hot dogs, were under a large blanket and were warming our feet by the fire that we started and….wait a minute. This post isn’t about camping. It’s about the New Year.

Anyway, before I get any more distracted than I already am, here are six simple goals/changes/things I want to do to help make 2014 more awesome than I already feel it will be. 

1. Hug more people. I am most definitely a hugger. I hug everyone. My first love language is physical touch, so hugs come naturally to me. My dad always says that walls that people put up are broken down by hugs. Break down some walls and hug some people, y’all!

2. Write more songs. If you were to grab my phone and look in the voice recording app, you’ll see anywhere from 10-15 recordings of short melodies that pop into my head that I record so I don’t forget them. Some of them have words, others are just melodies that I hummed to add lyrics later. I’ve yet to complete a whole song, but I have tons of pieces of others to work with!

3. Enjoy the little things. Seriously, though. I don’t care how cliché it sounds, we need to start enjoying the little things! Enjoy your morning cup of joe and enjoy the fact that we live in a country that coffee is so available to us. Enjoy the sound of the rain as you read by the window. We get so busy and so caught up with things that stress us out that we easily forget to enjoy life’s little presents. Enjoy some quiet time with Jesus…and in that quiet time, actually be quiet. Shut up and let Him speak, too.

(This list is slowly starting to remind me of Zombieland. Double Tap, anyone?)

4. See the good in people. Genesis 1 says that man and woman were created in the image of God. That means that everyone, in one way or another, exhibits some quality of God, whether it’s compassion, creativity, strength, wisdom, or even humor. Like a son or daughter look and act like their parents, so do we all look and act like God in some way. When you begin to look for the way(s) that people reflect God, I guarantee you that you’ll find it.

5. Give people handwritten notes. Number 5 goes hand-in-hand with number 4. Once you’ve found how someone reflects Jesus, tell them about it in a handwritten note. The art of handwritten notes or letters is a dying art but speaks volumes. Don’t text someone or send someone a Facebook message. Instead, write it on a piece of paper and give it to them in person. (This note should also be longer than 140 characters.)

5. Make better choices. This one is simple. Drink water instead of Coke (I should take my own advice on this. Coke is my Kryptonite). Always drink tea when you have the opportunity (We live in Texas, duh). Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Go for a walk. Ride a bike. 

6. Wake up early. Wake up earlier than you need to. Read your bible. Have some quiet time. Watch a sermon. Write a letter. Of course, drink some java. Don’t forget to sleep in on Saturdays.

Bonus: Be adventurous. (Pretty self-explanatory.)

I’m not life coach, nor do I want to be one, but these are just a few of the things that I’ll be trying to do this year. 

Have a wonderful, prosperous, blessed, and joyful 2014. Stay excited!

-Jonathan