Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Power vs. Will

I don't know if this is a blog or a prayer. Sometimes its hard to tell.

I use to never have any trouble sleeping.  As soon as my head hit the pillow I was out. See you tomorrow ha. I use to not even be able to take naps as a kid because if I fell asleep I would sleep for hours and it would mess me up because when it was time to go to sleep then I wasn't tired because of my nap. But thats not my problem anymore. Now I can't sleep because of my mind. Now I just lie there and think. My eyes aimlessly chase the fan blades in circles but never catch them while my mind just races. I get to thinking about what God is teaching me through experience and circumstance and His Spirit and His Word and then it just won't stop. Sometimes I feel like Russell Crowe in "A Beautiful Mind" without all of the intelligence and with all of the craziness.

God's Sovereign Will vs. God's Sovereign Power.

There are those issues that just no matter how many different ways you think about them, you can't wrap your head around them. You just wrestle with them and fight to figure it out but just don't get it. God's Will and God's Power. Both examples of God's sovereignty. I wrestle with them both everyday.

Often in life we get thrown a pitch we've never really seen before. We don't understand why something happens, but the fact is that it happened, and because it affects our lives we have to deal with it. It could be making a big decision. It could be being told you have cancer. It could be your Dad being killed in a car accident, or a tsunami hitting a country and killing thousands of people. No one can explain it, and no one can go back and undo it.

So when that storm hits, when that ball comes our way, what do we do? Do we pray for God's divine, sovereign power to come in and make things right? Do we pray for healing? Do we ask that God come in and take over the situation? Because if He is God and he is sovereign, then He is already in control and He has allowed it to get the current state already, for some reason, to accomplish some purpose, that is acting in accordance with his good and perfect will. So why would I ask God to change it. Shouldn't I instead ask God to open my eyes and heart to his meaning in whatever storm He is rocking my boat with? Shouldn't I ask him to remove my own selfish desires of wanting whatever thorn that he has placed in my side to be taken away?

I don't know. Thats a hard thing to do. It seems easy to sit here and say right now that if the doctor came in and told me I had cancer that I wouldn't pray for healing, that I would pray that whatever God's plan was with that cancer in my life, that He would do it. I would learn from it, and let Him use me in whatever way it was. Man I don't know. Do I trust in His sovereign will? Or do I call on His sovereign power?

"If it were easy, then everyone would do it."
-David John Overman

Monday, March 19, 2012

I Am Second

One of the most encouraging things for me to see come out of today's world that is obsessed with celebrities and the media is when people use their fame and their worldly platform for the glory and empowerment of Jesus Christ. When they take those cameras that are pointing in their faces, and those eyes that are watching them, and the ears that are listening to them, and they point them to God, they tell them about who Jesus is and what He has done for them. I love that.

I can't remember when I first came across the I Am Second movement. I don't know how long ago it was. But I love it. I think it is so beautiful. I started watching the videos that they produce a couple of months ago. I believe very strongly that a person's testimony is one of their most powerful tools of ministry to share the gospel. (A lot of time people say that they don't know how to share their faith. To me thats a cop-out, I don't buy it. Start with your testimony and see where it takes you). And that is just what the I Am Second organization uses as their ministry tool, real people, with real testimonies, who've been through real issues, have seen Jesus either meet them in their issues or deliver them from them, and are now unashamed to share their stories in hopes that it will touch a heart somewhere facing similar issues. I love that.

I made a new years resolution this year. I'm not normally one for doing that but this year I decided to do it. My resolution was to read a book a month for the entire year. I'm not much of a reader, I'd rather go throw frisbee or do something active, but I kind of like this reading thing as long as its a book that I like. Anyways the third book that I chose to read this year was the I Am Second book. I think I read it in two sittings. I literally opened it up out of the package from Amazon, started reading it that day, and then finished reading it the next day. It was so encouraging and uplifting. Seeing other people's stories. Hearing how God pulled them out of their deepest pit. Seeing how God allowed these people to seemingly drift so far away from Him to realize how much they need Him. Hearing people who I never would have thought have issues like the ones that I deal with, basically throw their junk out on the table for anyone and everyone to see. Shameless, because Jesus Christ has washed them clean of any sin they have ever committed. Gah I love it. Each chapter would contain a person's story, and then it would finish by saying go to the I Am Second website and watch this person's video and these similar videos. And thats what I did. I would read a chapter, watch a video, watch another video, watch another video, and then read another chapter and repeat. Gahhh I mean a testimony is just so powerful. To hear a famous musician known for his Christian music in Michael W. Smith talk about his past struggles with drug addictions. To hear the Sruggs family talk about their journey through an affair and how God has revealed Himself to them through it. To hear a pastor named Nate Larkin, a pastor, talk about his addiction to pornography and sex and how he thought it was the end of his ministry, when really it was just the beginning. I honestly can't think of a better picture of the Gospel than those stories.

I think my favorite of all was that of Brian "Head" Welch. Watch his video and check this dude out for yourself because I can't do it justice by telling you about it. You want to talk about Jesus meeting someone at their lowest point? Want to talk about forgiveness? Redemption? Grace? Love?

I love it when people use their platform in this world to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Josh Hamilton. Lecrae. Jason Witten. Matt Barkley, Sam Bradford, and Colt McCoy. The list goes on with the I Am Second movement. I want to be part of that movement too. I want to sit in that chair. I want the courage to tell the world about all of my shortcomings and all of my failures so that somehow out of my struggles, Jesus Christ will somehow get the glory. I want to use my testimony as a weapon for God's Kingdom. Man I pray for that. I pray that God would use me in that way.

My name is Dave Overman, and I am second.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Redwood Forest

"How to you chop down a redwood Dave?"... "You chip away at it."
-Alex Lee

First of all, thats my roomate. He was going all philosophical on me at the time about perfecting my awful snatch technique. But the more that I thought about it. The more it resonated with me. More often than not the things that keep coming back into my mind will make it up here eventually.

I've never seen a redwood in my life. Probably the biggest tree I have ever seen in my life is the gumball tree in my back yard that the tire swing hung from and that would force me into childhood labor when I had to go waste hours of my youth raking gumballs into a huge pile and setting them on fire. But because I've never seen one, I have to rely on pictures for the full affect of how big a redwood really is. I hope I get to see one one day. I like cool stuff in nature like that. I think it would be pretty cool to come across a tree that was hundreds of years old that it took 10 grown men to wrap their arms around. Thats a lot of firewood.

Now imagine cutting that gargantuan tree down. I'm not talking about with a chain saw either. I'm talking about the old fashioned way. Grow out your beard, put on your flannel, and get out your ax (See Paul Bunyan). I'm talking about a couple of hours in it looks like you're disabling and murdering the tree instead of chopping it down. I'm talking about blisters so bad on your hands that you're bleeding, the raw meat of your hands being exposed to the world before it is ready. I'm talking about your shoulders and arms just aching from swinging over, and over, and over. I'm talking about your hands feeling like they are going numb from hitting rock solid wood with every swing and that impact shooting through your body. I bet if we all went out and tried to chop down a redwood, more often than not we would walk away with the tree still standing.

So what is your redwood? What is that one thing in your life that you feel like you beat your body like a slave to do but just can't seem to do it? What is that one thing that if you could just find a way to do it, you would be more satisfied and more fulfilled than you could ever dream of? What is the deepest desire of your heart?

My redwood is living as a man of God in today's world that is full of sin and wickedness. Everywhere I look I see things that want to draw me off course. I see women. I see money. I see fame. I see glory. I see people idolizing other people and other things than Jesus. I hear other guys talk about girls. I hear songs talk about all sorts of things. I see women. I see money. I see status. I see fancy cars. I see big houses. I see women. I see money... But none of what I most commonly see is what I desire for my life. Yeah sure there are fleeting moments where I desire those things for an instant and then get mad at myself shortly thereafter. But thats not what I want for me. I want humility and strength in weakness. I want to invest my time and money into things of eternal value. I want to be able to commit myself to one woman and honor her like Jesus honors and loves His church. I want to be so in tune to God's word that it consumes my thoughts, words, and actions. I want to share the love of Jesus with others.

The more I sit here and think about what I believe are the characteristics of a man of God, and then sit here and think about who I am, the bigger the redwoods get in my mind, the smaller I get compared to them, and the more impossible it becomes to think about chopping one down. But thats the beauty of cutting one down. Its not supposed to be easy. And the closer you get to actually chopping it down, the closer you get to the whole thing coming down on top of you.

But what a calling that is. What a fulfilling life that would be. Not so that you could be proud and boastful in your own strength, power, or relentlessness, but to be able to stand before the One and say, I did it, I lived my life for Jesus, and I am happy. He was the reason I did what I did, said what I said, and was who I was.

How do you chop down a redwood?

You chip away at it. Fight it every day. Take it piece by piece. Swing for swing. Don't get discouraged, don't get frustrated. Keep swinging. Let the chips fly. Attack it from all sides like a beaver. Swing with frustration. Swing with endurance. Swing with love. Swing with desire. Swing with conviction.

Lets take a walk in the woods boys.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Paul Bunyan

Pride and Arrogance. Thats what this is about.

Paul Bunyan was a guy that I once heard stories about when I was a kid. When we used to take trips to the beach, somewhere between Goldsboro and Atlantic Beach there was a car dealership or something that had a giant statue of him with his ax wielded over his shoulder. The Paul Bunyan that I grew up was guys superhuman dude with a super-sized ax, and he could chop the world down with it. I mean this dude was the real deal. The beard, the flannel, the boots, the pet ox, this guy had it going on. Nothing could stand in the way of him and his ax.  Some say he made the grand canyon just by walking by and dragging his ax, some say he made a mountain by stacking rocks on his campfire to put it out. Sounds like a combination of Chuck Norris and the Dos Equis commercials to me. Point of the story is that this guy was the man.

I'm not very intelligent, I've never claimed to be. I'll be the first to tell you that my academic career is like Ryan Leaf. I have no doubt in my mind that if I put my head down in the books and studied, I could pass any class that I was in, the problem is that I just can't make myself study and put in the work.  With that being said, one of the things that gets under my skin more than anything else is people that think the know everything. Those people that think they are smarter than they really are. Its like nothing you can ever say in front of them or do in front of them is right in their eyes. They always have an answer or a solution, and they always have to get in the last word. It's like the words "I don't know" don't even exist to them. There always could have been a better way, and most of the time they knew what that way was and you didn't. It drives me crazy. Sometimes I want to just scream and put my head through a wall.

I've been attending a new church the past couple of weekends. It isn't what I had hoped that I would find, but at the same time I don't dislike it, and I really like the way the word is taught there, so I will keep going. We are going through Genesis right now and one of the reoccurring themes that I've noticed jumping out of the text at me since I've been going is how when it comes to dealing with others, the things that I see in others that I don't like about them, or that 'gets under my skin,' are those same things that I see in myself that I want to deny.

I've also been reading the book of Isaiah lately for my own personal study. A friend of mine asked me the other day how it was going and I shot her point blank and said sometimes it sucks. Maybe it is because I just came off Matthew, or I just struggle with the OT, but its hard for me to read. Its hard for me to read about the God that I believe in turning his back on Israel and Judah and Assyria and punishing them. I like to think of the God of who loves his children and wants the best for them, and knows the plans he has for me to prosper, and that knew me before I was born, not the one who is striking people down for their unfaithfulness. But I do believe that God is a righteous judge also and He loves justice, so I need to get over myself.

This probably doesn't make a lot of since right now but I'm about to bring it home.

Isaiah Chapter 10, Verse 15 says this:
"But can the ax boast greater power than the person who uses it?
Is the saw greater than the person who saws?
Can a rod strike unless a hand moves it?
Can a wooden cane walk by itself?"

I love it when God uses all of the different areas in your life to line up together and confirm to me what He is trying to tell me.

I want to be Paul Bunyan. I want to be so superhuman that I can walk around with my ax on my shoulder and know that I can do anything I want to do. I want to have all the answers. I want to be in control of me. I want there to be no doubt that I can take care of myself, and that I don't need anyones help doing it. Its why it bothers me so much when people think they are never wrong, because I think that about myself. I am that person who so often thinks they always have the right answer. One of my athletes the other day did a clean and looked at me after and was like, "How was that?" I was like, "It was good." Then she was like, "Wow, normally you always have something to say that I could have done better." She was excited, I was crushed. In that moment I realized how critical I am. Its not just about weightlifting, thats just where it manifested in that moment. Its in my relationship with my family, my friends, my self. I want to be Paul Bunyan. I want to be able to do it all. I want to know it all. And even better, I want to get all the credit for knowing it all after.

"But can the ax boast greater power than the person who uses it?" That keeps ringing through my head. Who am I without God? I am nothing. I am worthless. Apart from Him I can do nothing, but If I remain in Him, He can do immeasurably great things through me. He can do that, not me. Sometimes I want to fight myself. I want to take myself out behind the barn and knock sense into myself haha. I need to get myself out of the way. I need to surrender to God what is His, my life, and let Him do what he wants. I can still be a really big ax, I just have to let God be the one that swings it.

For some reason as I wrote this this old video that I saw probably 4 years ago came to mind so I figured I would share it too. Its really good. Especially when about the 5:00 minute mark God reminds the guy who is holding who up. I need to tell myself that every day.

Maybe if I keep telling myself that one day I'll get out of His way.