Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Trials and Temptation

"Life isn't meant to be lived in one place."

That was the first half of a quote that encourages us to travel and experience the world. But for what I'm going to talk about, I just used that first sentence.

Life is a mountain. Wherever you are on that mountain reflects where you are in life. Let me explain. There are plenty of different places you can be on that mountain. I'm going to talk about three. Firstly, the very bottom looking up. Everyone starts here and ascends. That brings us to the second checkpoint which is the first few challenges. A majority of people quit here because it's too hard. Thirdly, those last moments before we reach the peak. That glorious moment. We have reached our goal. What we don't realize is that life isn't meant to be lived in one place. That is one of the many mountains that we will escalade. We will never stop climbing mountains until the day we die.

For the last couple of months, I've personally experienced life at its fullest. I felt as if Jesus was by my side as soon as the morning dawned as I rose and when the evening dusked. It has been the most amazing feeling I've ever had. I would wake up and reflect back to the fire I had in my heart from the previous night. Red and hot, the fire was still burning inside. Even throughout the day, that fire was my joy and smile. At night, it would grow bigger and brighter than before. Life was perfect looking down from the mountain top. But then something happened. That mountain was shaken. Life no longer was perfect.

Today is Tuesday, December 2nd in the year 2014. Unlike the last two months, this day was different.  I had just climbed a mountain the last few months and today, I started a new one. It began with my mom waking me up and asking me a whole bunch of financial and career questions. Just so you know, I'm still in bed half awake. I dislike waking up to questions, my brain is still warming up like computers do when you turn them on. She asked me if I wanted to ask for work at a cabinet shop I use to work for. The manager there is very flexible and generous. Because I had the next few days off, my mom suggested that and I declined because I hadn't planned that in my day. To be honest, I hadn't planned out my day at all. Minutes later, Justin left for work with my mom. It's just past 9 when I heard the home phone ring and that's what got me up. As I rise, I start to feel guilt and shame for not working. The way my mom bugged me about it seemed like I do it or suffer. And that was the truth. I've been struggling with paying the bills and recently applied for a credit card. The day before, I had returned my car because of the engine problems it was experiencing. I was in a rut.

Starting my day, I turned on some music as I prepared breakfast and washed the laundry. Feeling hopeless, that burden still laid on my shoulders. Dangerous, negative thoughts were running through my head. "Life is too hard, you should quit fighting and let things happen." "The struggles you are fighting against are pointless." I believe those lies in my head but deep down in my heart, I knew they were wrong. I couldn't help but set aside my hearts opinion. This one song came on by For Today called O Come, O Come Emmanuel. They had customized it and at the end of the song the words were "take your victory, bring redemption." That fire inside of me lit up again and I started dancing.

At this point, I thought everything was going to be okay. That was a lie. Faith is a constant battle. We will be fighting it until the day we die. Within the same hour, I had fell back into that hopeless cycle as I headed in town to apply for another part time or full time job. I came home after a few hours so that my mom was able to use the car. Again, I was home alone after she left.

I'm writing this a week later so I can't exactly remember the sequence of events fully, but I remember sitting down to blog when my mom has left for the second time that day. Feeling inspired, the Holy Spirit was encouraging me through thoughts and music. I went back and forth from writing to laundry. At one point, I was listening to Tenth Avenue North. Not sure what song was playing, but as I listened and believe that profound lyrics that touched my heart, I fell on my knees as I dropped the shirt I was hanging up (who cares about getting a shirt dirty). I felt the presence of God so deeply in that moment that tears immediately filled my eyes like I was punch in the nose. In that moment, I surrendered back to Him and prayed for freedom in those areas where struggle had lived. No longer was I a slave to poverty and "the way things are." I'm fighting back and taking what the enemy has stolen. Not only that; God gave me the mindset of taking back what the enemy has taken from my generation. Not just money, not just cars, not just broken hearts. Everything the enemy has taken from His children; my brothers and sisters whom I love very much. Satan has no power in the name of Jesus. And that's where I stand. That mountain I had just started on Monday, I finished climbing Tuesday night! The next step is thanking and praising Him but also asking the question: what is next Father? We have more mountains. Like I mentioned earlier... "Life isn't meant to be lived in one place."

What is your mountain?

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Why I Love Music

I feel led to blog a series of why I love music. Music is a huge part of my life because travel is too. Both of my jobs require a lot of driving as well as some plane trips. With all of my time on the road, I usually play music while I'm driving.

I, myself, am a drummer, and even though drumming doesn't have count as an instrument, it provides a steady beat and passion to each song. I love that each song has its own story and that there are millions maybe even billions of songs available to listen to. I love the beats and rhythm to music. I love to dance, scream, sing out and weep (as weird as that songs) to music.

As a drummer, I love providing a steady beat to the rest of the band, creating more to the song, and connecting the passion in my heart with the cymbals and drums.

Words are powerful. I believe that the music we listen to will show us who we are inside and will match our actions on the outside. And when we listen to songs of truth about who God is and what He has done, it opens up the heavens and angels sing along because it's TRUTH! I know in my life, I've had times when I'm weary after work and I will turn on some music and certain songs would remind me of who God is and it fired me up inside and reenergized me.

One song that is really powerful that I always love listening to is Lord, I Need You by Matt Maher. I did some googling and found a blog about it with a lot of scripture and would love to share all the truths in this modern day hymn. I'm not sure if Matt was basing his song off of all of these verses but the lyrics match all of them. I would suggest reading all of the passages as I do it. It's incredible how powerful this song is because of all the truth from the bible that it has.

Lord, I come, I confess (1 John 1:9)
Bowing here I find my rest (Jeremiah 6:16, Matthew 11:29, John 14:27)
Without You I fall apart (Colossians 1:17, Hebrews 1:3)
You’re the One that guides my heart (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You (Psalm 40:17, Psalm 70:5, Psalm 86:1, Philippians 4:19, Hebrews 4:16)
Every hour I need You
My one defense, (Hebrews 7:25, 1 John 2:1)
my righteousness (Romans 1:17, 1 Corinthians 1:26-31, Philippians 3:8-9)
Oh God, how I need You
Where sin runs deep Your grace is more (Romans 5:20-21)
Where grace is found is where You are (2 Timothy 2:1)
And where You are, Lord, I am free (2 Corinthians 3:17)
Holiness is Christ in me (John 14:23, Romans 8:9-10, Galatians 2:20, Ephesians 3:16-17, Colossians 1:27)

[chorus repeats]

Teach my song to rise to You (Psalm 33:3, Psalm 119:11)
When temptation comes my way (Matthew 6:13, Matthew 26:41, Luke 11:4, Luke 22:40, 1 Corinthians 10:13, James 4:7)
And when I cannot stand I’ll fall on You (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)
Jesus, You’re my hope and stay (1 Corinthians 3:11, 1 Timothy 1:1, Titus 2:13, 1 Peter 1:3-5, 1 Peter 5:10)

For me and where my life is, the line that moves me the most is where sin runs deep, your grace is more and that is found in Romans 5:20-21. There has been a couple of times when it's brought me to tears in the car. I am a messed up person and I still continue to mess up and spit in God's face. I am also my worst critic and when I sin against God, I beat myself up big time and think of God as someone who judges and hates me but He is not like that at all! He loves me and gives me grace. No matter how big or deep my sin may be, His grace is more and it's hard for me to understand that. I grew up in a home where if you messed up, you have to make up for it. So I believed that I had to make up for my sin, or have a streak of days where I didn't mess up. THAT'S NOT HOW GRACE WORKS. I'm not even close to understanding grace but I know that grace is given to us by God even WHEN WE DON'T DESERVE IT.

So that's a little piece of why I love music. I'm excited to share it because it gives me more passion and love for music as I'm writing about it.

Now for you English majors such as my sister Hannah... Cough. I love you! I have probably made errors and have changed tenses or put commas where they shouldn't be or  created run on sentences. I'm not a writer or English freak so if I made several mistakes, I apologize. My mission is to get my point across, not write a perfect paper. Also, I'm not that creative on word selection or the way I write, but I just want to share my story. And I'm not trying to come across as offensive at all. I'm just explaining that if you see an error or my writing is too weak, that's my bad.

Thanks for taking the time to read and learn a little. I'll be writing more on music and different songs. If you have any requests, I would be more than happy to listen to and study them. Have a great spring break! Love you all!

Mattie Montgomery

I really want to post this link about Mattie Montgomey. He is a powerful speaker and evangelist. I watched this seminar and was fired up. He nails so many things that people debate about a lot. I can't really explain too much. You have to listen to it. You may have to cope and paste it.


Saturday, January 25, 2014

New Year, New Creation

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (II Corinthians 5:17 NKJV)

My life has been overwhelming. I can't even begin to explain. But I can share what God has been doing lately in my life and my family. Back in 2013 just last year, I saw no hope or redemption in my family and in me. We had "family issues" as most every has. In a nutshell, we don't have a spiritual leader in our house. In fact, the plan was that he moved out of the house to give us space. It was difficult for me because I looked up to him in many ways. He has a lot of knowledge but lacks in action. But who am I to judge because I am just as guilty. 
So it was hard on me coming from a broken family and me being the next guy in line to get a job, pay for bills and eventually move out.

Anyway, throughout the year, the theme that God was giving to me was to break every chain that my dad and grandfather have had SO THAT it would stop with me. A lot of families have their own traditions but for me, it was to start a new tradition. To be the next David. To be a man after His own heart because if I have a family one day, I want them doing the same thing. Chasing and running after God's own heart.

So I've been trying to focus on daily devotion and prayer which I really suck at but always improving. But also talking to God throughout the day and listening to music to keep my mind and heart focused on Him. That was the key factor for Him to change who I was. I was depressed at times. I felt condemned and lost but I know that was not God. I kept meditating on who God really is and I began to see the big picture. To wrap it all up, this last few months He was given me strength to see who He is in the darkness and trials. I've been overwhelmed with joy and peace in my life. I am free from the chains that had me bound for so long. I never understood redemption until I experienced freedom in Christ. I talked about it all the time to my friends, and I understood the meaning but, now I know what His death really paid for.

Starting the new year, everyone has their resolutions. I didn't care to be honest. I just wanted to focus on a few things. The night of the 1st of January I heard God's voice saying "take baby steps in my will." Every day since then, my prayer has been "what is your will? What is your heart?" And I've been blessed so much through that. The verse that God showed me tonight as I was typing talks about mustard seed faith and that if you have faith like a mustard seed you can move mountains. I believe with my heart that "baby steps" was profound. As soon as I applied "baby steps", God has been moving mountains for me. He has blessed me with my business, given me a strong relationship with my parents and siblings, and put me in several opportunities at work to be Christ to people. He was given me energy and passion for my work and coworkers, friends that I can rely on and they can rely on me, and a lot of personal, financial and emotional coaching through my company and my mentors. At where I am at, to ask for more would be insane but God loves to give and I want to use what God has given me to influence others and to overflow and pour out into my piers lives.

One of my passions is to pray and interact with my generation. It has been that way since I was around 14. God has given me a heart for this generation and it's because He cares about us. He cares about you! My request to God is that He would give me opportunities each day where I have to be Christ. I don't expect God to hand me a situation and then when it comes up, expect Him to handle it. I'm asking that God would give me a situation where I have to step outside of my bubble and in complete faith in Him, do what He wants me to do. Hope that makes sense.

I want to see a generation that understands who God is and how much He loves us. Of course, we don't and won't completely understand Him and His love, but my prayer is that we get a glimpse of it. Because if we do, the would will be set on fire.

I wanna end with these lyrics from Matt Redman. Today I was completely overwhelmed by all the blessing God has given me and this song came on and reminded me where I came from.
"Where sin runs deep, your grace is more. Where grace is found is where you are. And where you are, Lord I am free. Holiness is Christ in me.
I've heard this several times but today when I heard the words where sin runs "deep", I thought of a deep cut or deep ocean. It doesn't stop there. His grace is more. Tears literally ran down my face in gratefulness and a humble heart. Normally tears take a few seconds to collect before streaming down your face but these tears went straight down my face as if someone turned on the facet really fast.

I know that was a lot of bunny trails and zig zags but I hope and pray that you got something out of that. I don't want to hog my experiences, I want to share for the sake of hope and encouragement.
Hope you all have a great new year! Baby steps!

Your brother,
Michael Gracier