Kaden's Foolish Wisdom

Using my foolishness to reveal His wisdom.

Where Is The Love?

I know what you’re thinking, and no this is not about the Black Eyed Peas song that we all secretly enjoy listening to, but would never admit to our friends that we still listen to Black Eyed Peas (No? Just me?). I know what else you’re thinking, and yes, this is my first blog post in almost a year. It’s definitely unacceptable to call myself a blogger, but only blog twice a year (and to listen to Black Eyed Peas)… I get that, but if we can, let’s put that away for a sec.

There is an issue I want to talk about. Not because I have anything important or valuable to say, but because it’s a relevant issue that I think we all need to think about. I don’t keep up with the news as much as I should, I’ll admit, but even those of us who don’t stay up-to-date have read or heard about Caitlyn Jenner. Before you stop reading, don’t worry, this isn’t a blog about that in particular I promise. We’ve read enough of those. Thinking about all I have heard and read about that, culminated with something I saw today, has me ranting.

As I was driving home today I saw a few of those billboards. When I say those billboards I’m talking about the ones that say things like “Judgement is Coming”, “Are you going to Heaven or Hell?”, “Repent, or face the wrath of God”, or something along those lines. If you’re from the south (or have driven from Tyler, Texas to Fayetteville, Arkansas) you know what I’m talking about. For whatever reason I was irked by this. I’m all for proclaiming our faith on billboards… but not like this.

For whatever weird reason, that’s when I thought about Caitlyn/Bruce Jenner. Is this the approach we as believers take towards people who desperately need grace and love? The exact same grace and love that WE as believers need. I got really convicted thinking about how quick I am to talk about how lost someone is, or how much THEY need Jesus, or how much THEY need to repent. All the while forgetting why I need Jesus. I think just as the gap between rich and poor grows, so does the gap between believers and non-believers… and maybe, just maybe it has a little bit to do with how we as believers portray grace and love, especially in situations like Caitlyn Jenner. Just to be clear, I know that it’s a small fraction of Christians who put up those billboards. However, I can’t look anyone in the eyes and say I haven’t thought something like the words on one of the billboards. I would have been one of the first to pick up a stone to throw like those in John 8. I’m typing this post with the assumption that I’m not alone.

I just want to warn you now, here comes the most cliche Christian saying in the book. What would Jesus do? But seriously? If Jesus was on the earth today, what would He have to say about Caitlyn Jenner? Or what He would say about the billboards? Well here is what He SAID in Matthew 7:1-5

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

Whoops…

Look, we as believers do need to acknowledge that our culture is lost… yes, but only after we can acknowledge that WE are lost. There is judgement and consequences, absolutely, but Jesus never preached what those billboards or what our hearts as believers sometimes say. Hell fire and brimstone doesn’t lead people to Christ, grace and love does. As we hold firm to our beliefs and proclaim truth, lets proclaim THE TRUTH. Jesus would have invited Caitlyn Jenner over to dinner and rebuked judgmental people like myself. I do believe that Bruce is confused and that God intended for him to be a man, but I also wholeheartedly believe he is loved.

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The Right Thing For the Wrong Reason

Watching-football-on-TV

We’ve all been there. We are invited over for dinner at somebody’s house. Feeling guilty for sitting on the couch watching the big football game while our host works hard to prepare the meal and table for us, we reluctantly get up and ask if we can help with anything. Best case scenario, our host responds with the  “No thanks! How sweet of you to ask though!”, because then we can go right back to doing nothing and look great doing it. Occasionally though, we get the “Yes please! I need you to (fill in the blank), that would be a big help!” and then we are stuck. We end up doing the right thing and help, so our image is still good, but it’s even more boring than we expected. We finish up and then we hear “Oh and could you please (again fill in the blank), thanks I really appreciate it!”. Now we are getting a little frustrated. We just missed the game-tying drive and now we are in jeopardy of missing the game winning drive. We end up helping again… and miss the game winning drive. Your host loves you, but you are mad that you ever even asked to help.

Girls, I know that scenario was more relating to the guys. You’d probably be watching some corny soap opera movie marathon, or even worse the Bachelor/Bachelorette. Spoiler alert: They get divorced within a couple of years (except for a few exceptions… still the odds are against them) because that’s not what love is supposed to look like. Don’t even get me started on the corny soap opera movies. Thanks Nicholas Sparks for making every guy’s life miserable. Not that I’ve seen any of these shows or movies (or cried in them, that would just be ridiculous)… anyways, I digress.

Maybe I’m the only cold-hearted human who thinks this way. It seems like every time I “do the right thing” especially when I have no motivation to (or the wrong motivation), it works out even worse than I imagine it to. My heart is never in it, I didn’t actually want to help. The only two reasons I occasionally ask the question “Is there anything I can do to help?” are because I feel guilty if I don’t, and it will make me look kind and sweet. Sometimes there is even a third motivation, and it’s just as bad as the first two: I’m at a girls house, and I want to impress her and her family (Guys: Don’t act like you don’t do that. Girls: Don’t act like you didn’t know guys do that). Asking to help is the right thing to do. We know that, we’ve been raised that way. It’s easy to ask, but why is it so difficult when we actually have to do it? I think it all goes back to where our heart is.

I was getting coffee with my friend Noe Garcia (College Pastor at Cross Church Fayetteville, and also a pretty darn good basketball player) the other day and we were discussing this topic. We talked about how easy it is to glorify ourselves when we do the right thing. We lose sight of why we do the right thing, and who we do it for. He brought up Revelation 2:1-7 and I think it ties in to this perfectly. The Church of Ephesus in Revelation 2:1-7 is a lot like our church today (it’s a lot like ME today). They had been praised for the things they had done by Paul in Ephesians 1:15 & 16, and used to glorify God through that. However, at this point they were  still doing the right thing, but lost sight of why they do them (Rev 2:4 & 5). They were self motivated. Hypocritical rule followers (hmm… sounds like a common criticism of Christianity). I can be self motivated. This made me think of how often I read my Bible or pray because it’s the right thing, but not because I love Jesus. Or how many times I do something that makes me look great and proceed to glorify myself through that. If doing the right thing because I love Jesus isn’t my motivation, then it’s almost better to keep my butt on the couch watching the game. No wonder it never goes as planned. Of course I’m going to miss the game-winning drive. When you aren’t motivated to do something (or wrongly motivated) the devil is quick to point out everything you’re missing. If I were to do things because I love Jesus, and not because it’s right, maybe God would be just as quick to point out all the things I could be seeing, and how MUCH GREATER those are compared to what I’m missing. If I love Jesus like I say I do, not only asking how to help, but actually helping will come naturally.

As if that passage in Revelation wasn’t convicting enough, Paul really hits me hard with what he says in Romans 14:23. Romans 14 is a great chapter that has a lot to do with our society today, so don’t just read verse 23, but  in that verse  he says “everything that is not from faith is sin”. (This is where I’d put the big-eyed emoticon followed by “…” ). What can I say to that. Surely he doesn’t mean everything… I mean come on, that’s impossible. EXACTLY, it IS impossible (gee, thanks for the optimism). That’s why we need Jesus as our motivation, and that’s why we give Him the glory when we actually do something out of faith. It shouldn’t be self-gratifying to me when I succeed 1/10 times, yet I still find a way to make that about me.

I appreciate the compliments, nice words of encouragement, and support. I’ve been “getting off the couch” a little more lately than I ever have, and that’s only because of what He has done and what He is doing in my life. I’ve been asking God to let me help, and now that He has, the next step is continuing to be motivated through faith. My prayer is that I’m seen as someone who does the right thing out of love for what Jesus did for me, and not to gratify self. I want to want to (yes, I meant to say that twice) get off the couch and not just ask, but expect a “yes” answer and willingly do it.

Until next time,

Kaden

 

 

 

 

 

Dying To Self

Remember a month and a half ago when I said “I’ll try to post 2-3 times a week”? So much for that. It’s not that I haven’t had anything to write about, SO much has happened since my last post. I tried and tried to type more blog posts. In fact I have a lot of  rough drafts that I don’t know how to delete on my WordPress account to prove it (I’m still new to this blogging thing). I would have an idea in my head of what I wanted to blog about, and when I sat down to type it, it was gone. When I did start typing something, I couldn’t finish it. I felt called to start blogging, and was so excited that I had a way for family and friends to keep up with me. I even had some people say they enjoyed my last blog post. So why was I unable to blog? Why did the thoughts I was flooded with when I first blogged go away? I struggled and struggled with this… then it hit me. There was something else I said a month and a half ago (besides the promise of 2-3 blogs a week). “It’s not me it’s Him”, and I am being reminded of what that really looks like. As I sat and tried to put my thoughts in to a blog post, I forgot why I was blogging in the first place. Nobody needs to read my words, those won’t work on any hearts (including my own). I finally quit trying to write what I wanted to say, stopped getting angry when I couldn’t blog, and sat and listened and all of a sudden I had something to write about (James 2:19). So yes, God is calling me to awesome things this summer (blogging, Cross Church, Pine Cove, etc.)… but in order for those things to work according to His purpose, my pride and selfishness needs work. A lot of work. If it took me a month and a half to swallow my pride about blogging, how much longer will it take me for every other thing He calls me to do?

If you’ve known me at all in the last 19 years, you know that I can be a bit selfish sometimes. Okay, okay maybe more than a bit and depending on who you ask you might get more than sometimes. If I had to sum up what God has taught me in the last three years (and continues to teach me daily) in one sentence, it would be “It’s not about me”. I wish I could tell each of you all the ways that God has moved in my life in the last three years. I don’t think me writing out my experiences is really the purpose of this blog post (If I’ve learned anything from the countless rough drafts I’ve tried to write or what I just wrote in the above paragraph, it’s that.). So long story short, it’s been incredible to see God at work, but also incredibly difficult. It started three years ago when I finally started realizing what it meant to own my faith, and it continues with where I am right now. I’ve watched Him perform a miracle when I needed it most (Stefan’s stroke), but shut doors that I really wanted to stay open when I felt strong. Both situations have taken a shot at my pride, and both situations are the reason why I’m here writing this blog tonight.

My summer plans were a mission trip and a job making a lot of money. God’s plans were an internship with Cross Church’s student ministry, and Pine Cove. I could not be more thankful that He intervened. I was no where close to ready to serve people overseas when I’m still learning how to serve here.  I suck at managing money (just ask my parents), so until I can learn to manage the little bit I have, the big bucks won’t be rolling in any time soon. Who knows, they may never roll in (Would I be ready for that? Hebrews 13:5). The amount of discipline and lessons I’m gaining far outweigh any worldly things like more money right now (Hebrews 12:11 and James 1:4). I needed a cure for my many flaws, and God knew my summer plans were not the answer. In fact, thinking about it now, they were the exact opposite of what I needed.

There is no better cure for pride issues than kids. God gave me the opportunity to work with them all summer (an indication of the work needed to fix me). Literally… I’m talking every day this summer. Yes, I do need prayer for that. I would like to take this time to apologize to my parents for ever talking back, pouting, doing something purposely annoying, refusing to listen, and the list goes on. Seriously though, serving anyone is difficult, serving kids is even more difficult. I’m seven and a half hours away from home, partly because I have six younger siblings (Sorry Hunter, Kendall, Kase, Kyle, Bella, and Benson if you read this, you know I will always love you guys). Yet here I am, and I absolutely love it.

My favorite part about kids, are their hearts. You tell a kid that there are some people who don’t eat every day, and they ask questions like “How can we help?”. If we all had hearts like children, the world wouldn’t be so bad. Jesus talked highly of them for a reason (Mark 10:14&15). They are curious, attentive, and persistent… all aspects of my faith that I could grow in. They lack patience, discipline, and understanding… the same things I lack. It’s crazy how God works. It’s a match made in Heaven for me this summer, literally. I’m so thankful God isn’t letting my haughty spirit destroy me (Proverbs 16:18). I can’t make it through life on my own, I can’t make it through this summer on my own, shoot I can’t even make it through each day on my own. It will be tough. I’m not good at sharing my time and I’m not good at putting others before me, but I serve a God who not just shares He gives (more than you and I could imagine), and who not just put himself below us, He let His own son die for us. (Romans 6:23)

Here is my prayer, and what I’ll finish with tonight. I pray that God will continue to  teach me how to die to self and show me what it looks like to truly serve like Jesus (Philippians 2). I pray that as I interact with these kids that they are blinded from my flaws, and don’t see me so that God can change their hearts through me. I pray that I am continuously reminded of how blessed I am, and how nothing I have done has gotten me to this point… it’s not me, it’s Him. Lastly, I was reminded again tonight of why it’s not about me this summer. As I was calling to check up on Cross students tonight (Before you think this was out of the kindness of my heart, remember if that was the case, I wouldn’t have to blog about this. This is something our staff does regularly), I found out some terrible news. One particular kid’s dad answered and informed me that the kid’s mom passed away of an accidental medication overdose. I can’t imagine the pain that family is going through, and I know they need prayers.

I don’t deserve the blessings I have, and I’m so  thankful for what He’s doing in my life, and that I get to share that with you guys. Both Pine Cove and Cross Church are incredible opportunities to lovingly serve, but also have a ton of fun. I want to continue to share what God is teaching me with you guys. I will blog again, but no more promises on how often.

Until next time,

Kaden

 

 

 

Top 5 Lessons Learned In College

Despite what my GPA may convey, I have learned a lot so far in my first year of college. This has been the fastest 9 months of my life. Every week has been jam-packed with fun, boredom, joy, sadness, stress, peace, frustration, and excitement. I’ve taken more road trips (I refer to them as BROad trips), seen more concerts, met more people, watched more sporting events, and called more hogs (actually I’d never called a hog before college) than I have in my entire life. Oh, and then there is the school part. I don’t know about you guys, but I didn’t study a lick in high school. I spent more hours skipping class and buying Whataburger (don’t worry I bought some for my teacher too) than hours I spent studying in high school. College has been a whole new ballgame, and I’m learning very quickly what I need to work on to play in the big-leagues. So, here are the top 5 lessons I’ve learned thus far.

5. Parents are more valuable than I ever realized.

I’ll admit it, my parents were right. There I said it! All those times that they disciplined me (even though it was so undeserving, I was/am an angel-child), it WAS because they loved me. I’m so thankful that I have parents who love me enough, and who care about my future enough, to discipline me and give me a solid foundation. God knew that I’d be such a fixer-upper (Frozen reference, I’m a fan of the movie… real men love Frozen), that He gave me 4 amazing parents instead of 2. It has literally taken a village to raise me, and I couldn’t have asked for a more structurally sound, and perfect village. It has taken me till I am 7 hours away from home (partly to get away from them) to realize just how much they mean to me. Whether it be my Dad’s work ethic and life lessons, my mom’s compassion and sense of humor (not to mention the home cooked meals), my step dad’s wisdom and self-control, or my step mom’s understanding and patience, each have had an impact that is evident in my character. God used them as a great foundation and blessing for me, so that I can be doing what I’m doing so far away from home. Obviously they aren’t perfect, but their imperfections are the same as my imperfections, and that is what makes them perfect for me.

4. Fiends make or break your college experience.

My first few weeks in college were rough. It’s hard to leave the incredible friends I was blessed to have in high school and start from scratch. All of a sudden nobody knew who I was. That’s a lonely feeling, and if it weren’t for Jesus in my life that experience would have been much more difficult. Thanks to that whole Jesus thing, God placed me with a group of brothers that were exactly what I needed. I joined Beta Upsilon Chi (BYX), or Brothers Under Christ in September. I think had I not met these guys, college would be much more difficult right now. I’ve been to 11 different states, fishing, hiking, camping, going to sporting events, and living life with these guys, but I think the most important thing about these men is that they keep me accountable. They make sure I’m making my grades, making good decisions, getting me plugged in at church and in the community. They humble me when I get too prideful, they raise me up when I’m down, they do crazy things with me like take a spontaneous trip to Chicago on my birthday, and most importantly they journey with me on the ups and downs on my walk with Jesus. A walk that I might not be taking, had God not placed these men in my life.

3. College is stressful. 

College brings a lot of new stress. I’m typically a stress-free guy, but even I’m noticing some new gray hairs. No, seriously… I’m talking real gray hairs. If I’m not careful, I’m going to look like my father. Of course his gray hairs may be because he finds out that his son is in different states via social media (usually in the worst weather conditions  possible, with no money, and sleeping in his car). Or that his son was in a wreck in a brand new truck (I35 on the way back from Thanksgiving). Or that his son got bronchitis for a second time in 2 semesters because he wouldn’t take care of himself (his son love sports and tends to play them when healthy or not). I could continue, but I don’t want to keep using hypothetical examples that the angel-child I referred to myself as earlier would obviously never do. In all seriousness, dealing with stress is something that is new and foreign to me. Stress only leads to more stress. A lot of times, the situations that stress me out are completely out of my control. I don’t have an answer for stress just yet. I do know that stress is also a great avenue for faith. If we do our part (I’m talking to myself on this one), then there is no reason to stress because the God of the universe has a perfect plan for each one of us. He uses our imperfections, our failures, and our sins to complete this plan, that’s what makes it perfect for us. Do your best (again talking to myself), and have faith in what God has planned for you. Don’t let the devil use stress to blind you from this perfect plan.

2. I have a lot of growing up to do.

In 3 short years (hopefully not more than that) I’m expected to have a full-time job, and begin to provide for a family I hope to have. I’m nowhere near ready for that. The Lord has made very clear to me that there are many character flaws that I need to fix before I’m even close to capable of providing for, and leading a family. Pride, selfishness, humility, diligence, patience, are just a fraction of character traits I need to work on. If you’ve spent a lot of time with me, you know this. If you haven’t, here are some examples. Pride: I always want to be right, and I do everything in my power to fight when I’m wrong. I’m quick to speak and slow to listen because I feel my way is right. Selfishness: My time is the most important to me. When people don’t have the same timing, or even when God doesn’t have the same timing, I get frustrated. Humility: My pride and selfishness leads to arrogance. Diligence: I procrastinate. rather than do everything to the best of my ability, I choose what I think is important, and procrastinate on everything else. I’m lazy about too many things. Patience: I don’t have time to write all the ways I’m impatient (see what I did there?). I want to do as much as I can for The Kingdom, my family, and my friends, but before that happens, here is what I need to work on.

1.  Jesus is the answer.

You’re probably thinking “duh Kaden, you’ve known that since you were little”. Since I was little, I have HEARD this statement, but since I was little it hasn’t meant more than it does right now. I could write a 10 page paper about my testimony and tell you every reason why I now KNOW Jesus is the answer. I won’t, because my story isn’t what’s important here. No matter what I tell you or what I do, it won’t change a thing. That’s the lesson I’ve learned so far in college. It’s not me, it’s Him.

And with that, there are the top 5 lessons I’ve learned in college so far. If you’ve read this far, I applaud you. I don’t think I’ve read this many words… ever. Thanks for reading my first full post, and I hope you tune in for my next one!

Till next time,

Kaden

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Road Less Traveled

Matthew 7:14 “But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

Alright folks, I’m blogging… whether people read or not, I’m doing this. Life is full of struggles, funny stories, weird thoughts, crazy road trips, and experiences that I want to share with you guys. I’m walking the narrow path to life (sometimes crawling, depending on the day), and I want everyone to come with me! I feel like blogging is a great tool for me to not only write out my daily walk with Jesus, but also an avenue for friends and family to travel through the adventures of life with me!