Monday, March 26, 2012

If music be the food of love, play on (Romans 14)

Spring Break is over, but it was a glorious week!!! I did just about nothing, and it was wonderful. Other than watching all three Lord of the Rings extended edition, I just relaxed and enjoyed the break from school.

Anyway, enough about me. Today I want to write about something that comes from Romans 14. There are so many theological implications and life applications within this chapter, but I want to focus on one subject in particular. So sit back, relax, and enjoy!


The passage I want to outline is a little longer than usual, so bear with me. I think it will be well worth your while, though, to take a peak.

Romans 14: 13-23:

          "Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean. If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died. Therefore do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.
          Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall.
          So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves. But whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin."

This passage has had many applications during my lifetime and has really become apart of how I view my actions and the actions of others. It's also something I believe every person needs to give a lot of thought to and decide how they will approach this matter in their own minds.

Now, these verses talk about eating and drinking. During this time, there was much debate about whether or not certain meats were unclean or clean, and therefore able to be eaten. Since Christ was fulfilling the old covenant, this meant that all food had been cleansed, but there was still a faction of believers that held to the fact that meats were ceremonially unclean and unfit for consumption.

This example doesn't necessarily apply to today's society, so let me put this concept in a more modern illustration: Let's say you want to watch The Shawshank Redemption. This movie is rated R for language and prison violence. Now, you have no problem with the language or the violence, so you deem it perfectly fine for you to see it. This resembles (in effect) the faction of people that believe you can eat anything. Now imagine your friend relays to you that he thinks this movie is completely inappropriate for a Christian to watch and is appalled that you would view such a movie. He represents the people that believe you can't eat meat because it is unclean.

Now that the stage is set, the action can take place. The application Paul wants us to get out of the illustration is this: Don't watch the movie. It is better for you to forsake your watching of the movie than to cause your friend to be distressed. You may think it's perfectly fine to see it, but if your friend is going to be hindered because you decide to watch it, then it is better that you don't.

Here's another example. You think its perfectly fine to drink beer (you're older than 21) as long as you don't get drunk. Nowhere in the Bible does it say, "drinking alcohol is a sin." Getting drunk and letting the alcohol blur your judgement and control you is a sin. However, you like the taste of beer (for some strange reason) so you drink it in small amounts in your home. If your grandmother thinks so much as taking a sip of wine is a sin, then you shouldn't drink around her. You're not getting drunk or wasted, just consuming light amounts of alcohol, but your grandmother thinks its terrible. Just don't do it. Who cares if you think you're perfectly fine in doing so, if it causes your family member to stumble, it is better to not do so.

I think an earlier verse will help make this even clearer. In verse 6, it says, "Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God."

This chapter also talks a lot about not passing judgement on one another, so I encourage you to dive in and explore it yourself. Anyway, the main point I want to get out of this blog is this: Everything you do should only build another up. If something you are doing, whether you are convinced it is right or not, is causing another to stumble, it is better for you not to do it. Read that again if you need to.

Before I drag this out any longer than it needs to be, I will conclude. Hopefully you've gained a better understanding of this chapter, and my biggest hope would be that you would dive into the passage yourself and evaluate it through your own perceptions. You know my thoughts, now what are yours? I'd love to see them in the comments, but simply thinking of them yourself is perfectly fine.

Keep being awesome! See you next week.

Friday, March 16, 2012

To one thing constant never (Unity)

Hey readers, sorry about the tardiness of the post. But, alas, here it is!! I hope you enjoy.

What I want to talk about to today is unity within the body of Christ. This concept is really awesome and I find it encouraging in many different ways.


There are so many passages in the Bible that speak about unity, so I won't endeavor to cover them all, but I would like to pull from two passages that have been very influential in my life with this specific topic. The first comes from Ephesians 4:3-6 "Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit -- just as you were called to one hope when you were called -- one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all."

This passage helped my high school class at Heritage Christian Academy get through a lot of things. Every year, our Student Council picked a theme and verse to operate by and focus on. I think it was my Junior year of high school that we chose the theme of unity. Since my class only had about 20 people my Junior year of high school, we were a lot closer and more in contact with each other than other high schools. My graduating class consisted of 16 people, so you can say it wasn't an ordinary group.

Our Junior year, we were struggling specifically with the idea of unity and so we pulled from this passage to help us get it together. In a sense, we became more of a family than a group of friends simply because we spent so much time together. About 7 hours a day, 5 days a week, we were all in the same room, doing the same thing, so you can imagine that tensions might arise.

It was through this passage that really helped us understand how to work together despite our differences. In these verses the word "one" is used seven times. When you realize that you are one in Christ with other believers, your differences seem to dissipate and don't seem to be that important anymore. It is enough to realize that all believers are united under one faith and one God. No matter what we believe about certain topics within the realm of Christianity, that fact stands firm. Every believe is saved by the grace of God whether you are Baptist, Evangelical, Protestant, or any of the other 500 denominations out there.

Before I get onto my soap box about denominations, I want to point out the first part of this passage. "Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace." That does mean, try as hard as you can until it gets just too much to handle. That doesn't mean give up when it gets tough. We need to make every effort to be united. The only reason you should stop striving for unity is until every possible option has been exhausted.

When a church splits because one group doesn't like the color of the carpet the design committee chooses, or when, heaven forbid, we use drums to worship our Savior, there's a problem with unity. Or even when young people leave because they can't have their phones out in church. Does that seem to you to be making every effort to strive for unity? Isn't it enough that we are all saved by grace to bring us together? Once we realize that God cannot be trivialized by whether or not the nursery is "Saved by Grace Green," or "Baptist Baptism Blue," we can come together and worship Him. It's not about us, its about him, and arguing over how loud the music is does not do The Divine justice.

Think about that the next time you want leave a church when the communion wasn't blessed right, or someone took your pew in the sanctuary. That's not what matters, what matters is that the church is simply a group of people under one Lord, one faith, one baptism and one God and Father of all, coming together to worship him. That is what's enough.

The second passage I want to point out is Philippians 2:1-4. These verses tell us exactly how to strive for this unity. The Ephesians passage provided a foundation for this concept, so Philippians adds the drywall.

"If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others." -Philippians 2:1-4 (NIV)

Basically what Paul starts off saying is, "If any of this whole Christianity thing matters to you at all, then...." He understands that there is tension within the church, but this is not because of Christ and his message. It's the people. We are fallen and can't avoid our sin, it's inevitable. What he encourages (with the presupposition of the Ephesians passage) the church to do is be like-minded.

Something I've learned just in interacting with people and helping them work through things in their life is that sometimes a dispute is completely un-based. Meaning, the conclusions drawn from one person are different from another in response to a specific action, but the cause is different in their minds. Basically, I want to say that if there is any dispute between a brother in Christ and yourself, make sure that you both understand what you're arguing about and why in the first place! Be like-minded, have the same foundation so that the rest isn't futile.

Continuing on, it encourages us to have "the same love, being one in spirit and purpose." You have to decide on what your purpose is for going to church and even interacting with fellow believers. Your foundation is Christ, yes, but is your purpose self-seeking? I recently read an article in the paper that intrigued me. I won't go into what it's about, but I will tell you the question that was raised in my mind because of it. Are you a part of the body of Christ because you want to get something out of it, or do you want to give to it? Are you acting out of love for yourself, or love for other people? This is where the spirit of unity comes in, when we realize that it's not about us. When we realize that we shouldn't do anything out of "selfish ambition" or "vain conceit." When we consider others better than ourselves. When we realize that we should first look to the interests of others before our own.

The only way this works is if there is a willing witness. As long as there is one person willing to deny themselves, it can start a wild fire. You have to come to a point when you realize what really matters in life. Even if you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are right, what's more important? Proving that you're right and sacrificing a friend, or sucking it up and valuing the friendship over the fracas? Are you going to be that person that steps up and says, "Alright, you don't like loud music? We'll sing with the organ today," or "You want bright neon green in the first grade room? Go for it."

Don't be the person that is willing to sacrifice relationship over being right, or the person who leaves a church because they don't like that the offering plates don't have felt in them. Evaluate yourself and ask, what matters more? The church, or your correctness.

Keep being awesome! See you next week.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

He jests at scars that never felt a wound (Life Lessons)

Today, I'm going to start of with a Cameron joke: What do you call it when a cow jumps over a barbed wire fence?...............Utter Destruction! Bahahahaha! Now that you have probably ceased reading, I'll dive into my topic for today.


I love feeling accomplished. Of course, I don't know many people that dislike accomplishing things, but I find particular enjoyment in completion. This can be anything from getting my laundry done to finishing a paper for a class. Did you know that by this concept, you are bulletproof?

In effect, everything that is completed has the exact same result: The essence of completion. The only thing that looks different is the process through which you got there.

For example, with laundry, I have to put all my clothes in my hamper, take it to the laundry room, and find an open washer. I wont bore or disgust you with the details of the Agee laundry room, but the point I want to make is that this process is unique. It's different, albeit similar, than washing your clothes in another dorm's laundry room.

The completion of the paper is vastly different than the laundry room. It takes place in an entirely different setting, an entirely different mindset is required, and different materials and resources are utilized.

I think Christians are like this. In this post I want to talk about my new view of patience and how Christians are bulletproof.


In my post about patience, I don't think I made it clear enough what that actually and truly means for me today. I want to emphasize the process of patience. Learning it is not an event, a one time thing and you've got it for the rest of your life. I think I tried to fool myself into thinking that I had learned how to be patient and didn't need to work on it anymore. Boy, was I wrong! The realization finally came upon me that patience, and other life lessons, are a process. As much as it pains me to say it, I will be learning patience for the rest of my life.

I realized this the other day when I had a conflict with one of my friends. I had thought that everything had been cleared up and taken care of, but it hadn't. It made me realize that when you really think about it, God doesn't just give you patience. He doesn't simple let you go through a specific amount of tests and once you complete them, you're done.

I really like this quote from Evan Almighty:
"Let me ask you something. If someone prays for patience, you think God gives them patience? Or does he give them the opportunity to be patient? If he prayed for courage, does God give him courage, or does he give him opportunities to be courageous? If someone prayed for the family to be closer, do you think God zaps them with warm fuzzy feelings, or does he give them opportunities to love each other?"

He hits the point right where I want it to be. God doesn't just hand out patience to whoever asks for it. He gives you opportunities to be patient and it is your conscious choice to be patient in them. 

Here's another way to put it. Learning a life lesson is like maintaining a bike. You get it all nice and cleaned up, you've oiled the chains, you've bought new parts, new tires, new seats, and even a little bell for the handlebars. Great! You've got a brand new bike, but once you start using it, it starts to get rusty and begins to need maintenance. If you want to keep riding the bike you have to continually, for the entirety of its use, take care of it and renew it.

Learning patience is just like that, we need opportunities to practice being patient or we're going to get rusty. Sure, you'll get more experience on how to maintain your patience (or other life lesson) and it might get easier, but you will always have to work at it.

I think this gives a more concise description on learning life lessons and I hope you enjoyed it.


Now on to the bulletproof-ness of Christians. My Bible professor said something the other day that really intrigued me. He said, "Did you know that you are bulletproof until God is done with you?" I thought, huh, that sounds pretty awesome! In a little Bible study I do, we just recently opened up to Philippians and that same day I heard him say this, I read chapter 1.

In verse 6 it states, "being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." This doesn't give you leave to be reckless and stupid, but I think it's an encouragement. We should need to be scared about doing God's work because no matter what, He will use us for his glory. As long as our hearts are set on the right goal, we are not going to be wasted or cut off early. You are bulletproof.

That's all I've got for today, I wish I could write more, but I've got to head to Bison Glee Club.

Keep being awesome! See you next week.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Eternity was in our lips and eyes (Fun)

I wanted this blog post to be a little more lighthearted than my other posts. So, I decided to post an essay I wrote for an intro class my first semester at OBU. Basically, it's about having fun. My classmates seemed to enjoy it, so I thought I might share it with you guys! Here's my essay entitled "The Power of Fun":


            As I’ve grown older, I’ve noticed the diminishing amount of time to simply enjoy myself and have fun. This has forced me to take advantage of the chances I get. During our elementary school years, the time to enjoy ourselves greatly outweighs the time we must spend on homework. As small children we don’t realize how much the adult world envies us. When we move into high school, the work load gets heavier and heavier and demands more of our time, leaving less room to simply have fun. It’s during these brief moments of excitement and social interaction that we release the stress and worries of the day. To function properly, I contend that everyone must find time to simply enjoy the freedom of fun. 
            During the summer after my senior year of high school, a group of friends and I decided to go to a theme park for the day. There were roller coasters, entertainers, games, candy, and a variety of rides. We were the first customers of the day, so we had the privilege of observing the rest of the people who decided to come and take advantage of all the park had to offer. Before the park even opened, I began to notice the lack of excitement running through the crowd. Anticipation was nowhere to be found. Even small children, in their giddy innocence, seemed to partake in their parent’s lack of emotion. If there was one word that could be used to describe the atmosphere present at the gate, it would be bored. This was confusing to me because everyone waiting in line with us was only a few steps away from enjoyment. How could they not be excited? 
            When the park opened, I pondered this question as my group headed to our first ride, The Mind Eraser. This coaster was the fastest the park had to offer and my level of anticipation nearly matched its speed. Gazing up at the blue-green seats flying along the track caused me to forget the conundrum I had encountered earlier at the gate. However, the uninterested nature of the people quickly made its way back into the crowd waiting in line. Not a single smile could be found. I related this to my friend and it was then we decided to have more fun than we were supposed to. As soon as we sat down and were strapping ourselves in to the ride, we threw our hands in the air and started screaming shouts of enjoyment. We received many strange looks, but our goal was accomplished. People started to laugh, they began to enjoy themselves. The very essence of the theme park itself was being placed back into the minds of its attenders. As we exited the ride, the conductor stopped us and commented that we were the best customers of the day. So not only did our actions provide enjoyment for our fellow theme park attendees, it renewed a sense of vigor in the workers. 
            The day continued on and my friend and I continued to have more fun than we were supposed to. This trip caused me to forget all my worries about college and life and was an amazing opportunity to spend time with my high school friends. All in all, I concluded that the fun I had that day didn’t come from the rides at the park, or the friends I was able to share it with, but it came from my conscious effort to have more fun than I was supposed to. When you get the chance to have some fun, use it, enjoy it, and simply make the best with what you’ve got.

That's all I have for today. It's kinda short, but I hope you enjoyed it! 
Keep being awesome! See you next week.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown (God's timing)

"Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweeping down the plains!" You just read that in the tune it goes to. Now you're smiling. Oh my, what a way to start a blog.

Anyway, since that introduction had nothing to do with the topic I'm going to write about today, here is the real reason I wanted to blog. Timing.

Yep, I think think this post will go along well with my blog about patience. Click! If you want to take a gander and read that one before you dive into this one be my guest. If not, enjoy!


In my post about patience I talked about how God really wants me to learn the value of patience. Last night, I feel like I was enlightened on another issue closely related to this topic. That being timing.

I love having things done on my own timing. Seriously, I almost always need to have everything accomplished in a time frame that I can deal with. I think the most prominent example from my years living at home was with the cleanliness of our living area.

My siblings and I basically had the (finished) basement entirely to ourselves. This meant that it was primarily our jobs to keep it clean. At heart, I'm a neat freak. Everything needs to be cleaned from time to time and it should never get to the point where its an adventure just to find a place to put your foot on the floor without stepping on a Lego. So, I would often hound my brother and sister to clean their rooms and the basement. All on my timing.

I was so set in my ways that if I wanted something clean, it was going to get clean right then and there. There's no use in waiting til' later to get it done. It was on my timing. Finally, after many years of this, I realized how much that didn't work in getting my siblings to do any work. I had to work with their timing and be respectful of when they wanted to do it.

This small scale example only displays what I'm trying to get at on a human to human type level. That kind of timing can usually be worked out and justified as long as both parties are willing to cooperate. In some cases both people get what they want, in others, neither do. But what I'm going to address is on a much bigger scale. God's timing.

I am the kind of person that hates not knowing. It's also discouraging to me when big life events aren't on my timing. For example, in my post about God's provision, I was terrified trusting in God's timing. He worked it out in the end, but I had to wait, I had to be patient, and I had to follow His timing.

Last night at Bible study, someone talked about the amazing book of Habakkuk. Yes, that is actually a book of the Bible, it's in the Old Testament, and it truly is an amazing little book. The book is very artistic and well-worded (perfect for literary work connoisseurs) and woven within the three little chapters is an epic story of how God provides on His timing.

The verse I want to point out is from the 2nd chapter in verse 3. In context, basically, Habakkuk has been complaining to God and this verse is part of God's response: "For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay." Focus in on that last sentence.

Waiting is almost never fun, but this verse gives us an encouragement. It will come. Everything will be clear one day and you will know everything you needed to know. 

One thing that is constantly on my heart is who my wife will be in the future. I know right now that I am dating a wonderful woman, but I don't know if she will be my wife. I probably won't know for many years, but this verse offers me hope. It tells me that even though I have no idea, in the future, some day, it will make sense. This could mean I'm supposed to be single all my life or that I don't get married until I'm 35. Only God knows that. It's encouragement is two-fold. 

1. Someone out there does know your future (that being God)
2. Eventually, you will know

Hopefully this verse and this book can bring you the same encouragement it has brought me. You don't need to worry about your future or a big event coming up in your life. Just wait and it will certainly come.


Tune in next week for a little more lighthearted blog. I hope you enjoyed this one and that it was encouraging and uplifting to you.

Keep being awesome! See you next week.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

To be, or not to be, that is the question (Life)

And so I have conformed. Brayden Lans now has a blog. Only recently, in viewing my friends blogs have I really desired to write one.

I always thought people might like my ideas, might be interested in what I have to say. Course, that could just be coming from an overly hidden narcissistic ideal tucked away in my brain (big words I know).

But, the reason I really want to write this blog is to encourage and uplift everyone who reads it. My hope would be that in some way, you (the reader) will have a slightly new outlook on life by gaining access to some of mine.

Nothing more, nothing less. I wanted to begin by posting a note I wrote on facebook about a year ago. During this time, I was going through a couple trials in life and reflected on what really mattered. It doesn't really need much more of an introduction, so here you go. My first post:

I've discovered something you may or may not know,
now bear with me because this could be a shock to some people:

Life. Sucks...Alot.

Yes, there's the good times, the great times, the moments you wish would last forever,
and those you look back on and say, "if I could only relive that just one more time."
Your first birthday,
your first cake,
your first best friend,
the first time you got a dollar,
the first time you realized swimming isn't all that scary
Your first teddy bear you thought you'd never be seperated from
Your first A in school
Entering highschool was scary and exciting, all those big kids you'd be just like one day
You've grown
Things have changed
and for the most part these moments honestly didn't have as big of an effect on you as you thought they would.

Then there are the moments of sadness and depression.
The times you almost went crazy because you felt you couldn't take it anymore.
That moment in your life when you realize, why is my life so terrible, what did I do wrong?
That point of total lonilness and seperation, where you feel no one could ever possibly understand what's wrong
The thoughts of suicide, wondering why there's any reason to live anymore.
When your supposedly best friend stabs you in the back for the most worthless things
When people you care about could care less if you were alive
The times you cried
The times you hated
The times you felt ignored
The times you ignored
The times you slandered
The times you were rejected
The times that WEREN'T happy

It's these moments that make you stronger than you could possibly imagine,
these are the moments that stick with you,
the moments that pick at your brain
the moments that challenge your soul
the moments that. make. you. better!

Human's are messed up. No one is exempt, and there is no hiding from it.
If you try to cover it up, it's like trying to wash the dirt off of dirt itself. It can't be done.
sure you can dress it up and make it look pretty, but sooner or later, it's gonna come out.
There is a silver lining though. You are no better or worse than any other person in the world.
This physical life force and crazy thing we call life are not what its about. It's where IT all happens,
but its not what its about.

I can tell you one thing though
It's worth it.
All the pain,
It's worth it.
All the tears,
It's worth it.
All the suffering for seemingly no reason,
It's worth it.

Life. Sucks....alot

It's full of hard choices,
decisions you don't want to make,
situations you wish you could avoid,
people you don't want to deal with, 
anger you wish you could subdue,
but it's worth it.

Life. Sucks....alot
but it's worth it.

But why? If life is so terrible, how could it possibly be "worth it"?
I could throw numerous Bible verses at you.
countless speeches and books written by well known Christian authors.
But you know all the sayings, all the sunday school answers.
But WHY is it REALLY worth it?!

Everyone knows there must be something better, something greater than the hell we're going through right now.
Denying it would be lying to yourself, disagree with me, I dare you.
The purpose these sufferings serve is to make THAT all the more greater.
If you're happy with what you've got, why would you want something else?
If things were easy, what possible reason could you have to get something better?
If you liked this life, why would you want another one?

You see, this is why I think this life sucks sometimes, because the next is going to be so much greater.
Not only do the trials make you stronger in this life, it makes the next SO MUCH BETTER!
Imagine the pain you're going through now, and think if that pain were the exact opposite.
Excrusiating and exhausting happiness. 

Life. Sucks.
But It's worth it. 

P.S. In case you were wondering, the title of every blog post I write will simply be a random quote from Shakespeare. Here's the fun part, you have to find out which play its from. :)

Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows (Stress)

For today's blog I'm going to try to make all of this mornings events make sense as a coherent post. Everything that happened this morning kind of shook me up and opened my eyes to alot of things. This one's a little more serious that the other ones, but hopefully you'll find it encouraging.


So, last night I had a nightmare. I haven't had one in over 10 years that I can remember, but this one was extremely vivid.

It started out like any other dream. I think the part where I started remembering it was when a whole bunch of people I didn't know and I were riding these elephant like things in a river, just having a great time. It was kind of strange because the "elephant things" were swimming under the water and using their trunks to breath. Ya, I know, I have weird dreams sometimes.

Anyway, after a little bit I realized I was dreaming and thought to myself, "SWEET, I've never been able to realize in a dream that I'm dreaming. It was kind of cool because I was able to talk to people around me and almost consciously effect what was going on in the dream. Following this awesome realization, I thought I woke up. I honestly had convinced myself that what was now going on was, in fact, reality. That's why it shook me up so badly.

I'm not going to go into any details because I don't feel it's important for the whole world to know what happened in my nightmare, but I will share this. When I actually woke up, the only feelings I could feel were terrified and inadequate. I felt useless and hopeless. I looked at the clock on my phone.

6:18 AM

Tears just started rolling down my face, I couldn't help it. I just laid there for a bit and sobbed. After a little bit, I decided to try and get my last hour of sleep before I had to start going about my day. I rolled up into a ball and quickly fell asleep again, hoping to escape the nightmare. It didn't help. As soon as I fell asleep again, I started dreaming another dream.

It was strange because I thought I was awake again. The group of friends I hang out with and I were at this camp type thing. As we were leaving what seemed to be a dining hall, I told all of them that I had a nightmare last night, and I hadn't had one in over 10 years. Again, I still thought I was awake. They just shrugged it off and didn't care. One of my friends said, "just get over it, we don't want to hear it," in a very sarcastic manner.

After walking to a barn-type thing, my friends decided to have a dance. For some reason, this random kid from my childhood was leading songs and his mom was singing with him. Ya, it was strange. Anyway, I noticed all of them having fun without me. A song started playing they all knew the "moves" to, and I wanted to join in, but I couldn't.

Finally, my alarm went off. I woke up into the real world. This time I checked to make sure I was actually awake this time. I didn't want to get up, though. I didn't know what to do.

My girlfriend gave me a small one-year devotional book for Valentines day this year. It was lying on the desk next to my bed, so I grabbed it and opened up to today's devotion. It said something about taking the initiative in doing something for yourself. The important part about this was the verse it pulled from. For some reason I missed the fact that it was the 14th verse of Ephesians 5. All I saw was that it was from Ephesians 5, so I opened up my Bible and read the whole chapter.

Something stuck out to me I had never really noticed before. Mainly because the last time I looked at Ephesians 5 was for the post about men being real men, and the focus there was on the end of the chapter. Here's a link.

For some reason, Ephesians 5:15-16 stood out to me. "Be very careful, then, how you live - not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil." It puzzled me as to why this verse stood out because it had nothing to do with what had happened earlier. Even as I was getting ready, I still had no idea why that verse stood out to me.

At about 9:15, I sat down with one of my friends and talked about my nightmare. This particular friend was very vivid in it, so I needed to talk to them specifically. This was one of my very close friends, so it troubled me as to why they were such a big focus in my nightmare. Anyway, I related my story, and they said one of the most profound, yet simple, pieces of advice I've ever heard.

Don't stress.

Two words, ten letters, one space.

Don't stress.

For the past week, something just didn't seem right in the back of my mind. Like there was this looming thing hanging around, waiting to pounce. I couldn't get rid of it. After this, my friend suggested I do something to just de-stress. I needed to get my mind off of everything and just relax.

I walked over to Ford Music Hall and sat down at the piano. Room 116. My fingers hit the ivory and I just felt at peace. God's peace finally came over me and it felt amazing. I was singing songs, making up chord progressions, pounding on the keys, replaying memorable tunes, everything.

My stress left me and lifted away with the sound of the music. All of a sudden everything started to make sense. I could connect the dots. I was remember events and their purpose behind them. I could see now why certain things in my life were happening. It made sense.

If I go into explaining everything that happened, I would be writing all night, but my conclusion is this.


Everyone needs to find something that releases stress. For me, it's playing the piano. For others, it's a run, a Bible study, a long shower or a boxing match. Whatever works for you. Do it.

Through this experience, I learned that focusing on too much at once will overload you. Something I don't like to admit a lot is that I almost always over-think things. Recent events caused my mind to explode and then the nightmare was the last straw. I had to let it out. Music through the piano let me do that.

After some thought, I went back to the Ephesians 5 verse. "Making the most of every opportunity." Unneeded stressing out was not making the most of my opportunities. So, the next time you feel like your stress level is going to make you explode.

Play the piano.

Keep being awesome! See you next week.