ABOUT THE EASTERN RISING

 

WHO AM I?

 

I'm just the guy behind the keyboard. An average New Yorker. I don’t have any “spiritual credentials.” I can’t declare myself a man of great wisdom. I can only confess my confidence in the following... God is real- God loves- God is eternally good! I admit, I have so much to learn about Him. My faith journey has always seemed a bit more like a roller coaster than a casual walk in the woods, and I have to remind myself (at every turn) that the Lord is control. His Spirit loosens my grip and places my trust in His capable hands. I'm just running my race as best as I can! How am I so certain that the Lord is good (or even real)? Because I’ve tasted and seen! In the face of my doubts, trials and defeats, He has always proven Himself faithful. Through my joys, achievements and victories, the credit is His to take. I love God because He loved me first. I don’t serve an unreachable deity or stale religion, but a living, active Father.

 

In most ways, my spiritual walk would be classified as “normal,” but don’t be fooled into thinking it's always a stroll in the park. I grew up in a Christian home. I was raised by incredible parents who cultivated me with love.  I was nurtured, encouraged, and taught respect and responsibility by their honest example. I’ve been a “church boy” for as long as I can remember, and I never felt any drastic tug to turn away from God. I enjoyed attending church. I loved singing the songs, sharing in fellowship, learning the Word, and discovering what it meant to be a part of God’s kingdom. It was never hard for me to believe that He was present, simply because of evidence all around me. I was never sheltered from the world- I went to public school. I had plenty of "non-Christian" friends, but my home life- church experience- years of youth group and summer camp- all contributed to the influence and development of my faith. I went to a secular college and yet, the Lord still led me to take part in campus ministry and establish a group of firm believers that I'm proud to call my friends today. I serve as the Worship Director and Youth Leader for a wonderful church here in Orange County, NY, and I thank God for every opportunity He gives to learn, bless, and be blessed. What right do I have to speak on matters of faith? None. I just answer the call to point everything back to an extraordinary God! Yes, my life has been blessed; full of provision, protection and love. No, I never did stray very far from God's leading or chase my temptations to a point of no return, but I wouldn't be telling you the whole truth without admitting that I've wandered in the “wilderness” before. I've been lost, empty, and hungry for something more. I have chased lies that left me feeling unsure, unlucky, unhappy and unloved. I have taken part in worldly things that only existed to lure me away from the truth of the gospel. In the end, grace won me over. It always does!

 

I don't write for notoriety, followers, or rave reviews. In fact, these writings may just sink beneath the tidal wave of blogs, "self-help" books, podcasts and devotions that are already being offered by more “equipped” leaders of the faith. I'm not “seminary educated.” There’s no Master’s of Divinity certificate hanging on my wall. I'm not the charismatic Senior Pastor of a "mega-church," the Keynote Speaker of a renowned seminar, the Professor of a prestigious Christian college, or the highly sought after author of a best-selling “spiritual” novel. To be honest, I may not even be worth listening to. I don’t write to make anyone “feel good." I'm just here, navigating the wild along with you- addressing everyday topics of faith that often get overlooked or forgotten. I may not knock you off your seat with new information. I just believe in practicality, and I hope that some of my experiences, opinions, and observations can cause you to dig deeper into your faith. Perhaps something (amidst my ramblings and silly sarcasm) will resonate with you, wherever you are on your journey. I promise to always be transparent. I’m very honest about my shortcomings. I misinterpret scripture sometimes (I'm no Theologian). I may believe in something that you don't (and that’s alright)! We can seek God’s perfection (imperfectly), together. Whether my perspective leaves you joyful, angry, or just bewildered, keep reading- keep searching- keep asking questions. We all wander- discouraged and ensnared by the world...

 

"Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners-- of whom I am the worst"   1 Timothy 1: 15 (NIV)

 

SO... WHY THE NAME?

 

Like clockwork, the sun rises and falls, marking the end of another day. For some, it brought pain, frustration, emptiness or uncertainty. For others, it delivered joy, peace and abundant blessings. Today’s chapter may close on headaches, heartache, laziness and boredom- or plant the seeds of a brand new revelation. You may be seeking respite from anxiety, exhaustion, or too much “normalcy.” Perhaps you're eager for tomorrow- hungry and excited for whatever it may hold. Is your life where you want it to be, or do your "present" and "future" seem miles apart? Do you sit comfortably in your status or stand in a hole that robs your joy and chases away your contentment? Who peers back at you in the mirror? Do you see a confident soul with a sense of identity, or a stranger; hardly recognizable and often disappointed? When the sun sets, we’re all left to take inventory (from head to heart). Life can be wonderful or wrought with worry- a true wilderness!

Faith has a role to play in your navigation. Only you can determine the absence or existence of your hope in God, but we all possess an inherent “compass.” It's the soul's sense of direction (the system of leadership) that was put into place by our Creator. We are given the freewill to follow, or turn away. Unfortunately, many choose to wander, in order to maintain pride and prestige, or pursue their individual goals. Our conscience taps on the door of our heart, but we close the blinds and turn up the music. A life of faith can appear draining, inconvenient, or even hypocritical, so many shy away, avoid the effort, and evade the discussion- missing out on the real rewards in the end! 

 

Is your faith lost in a fog? Maybe peace seems nonexistent. Maybe God feels unreal, unfair or unavailable. Life happens, and it’s happening to you, so get comfortable because you’ll be on this ride for a while! It’s normal for life to be riddled with circumstances that cause us to question. It’s easy to get caught up in the motions of "religiosity." What matters most is where we seek answers, and who we ultimately choose to worship. Why not help your own cause? Open up and be real with yourself. Truth and transparency can help us fix our eyes on Jesus. God knows (and cares) where you’re at- listening and leading with love. I like to think that He laughs at the simplicity of our problems. Not because He's cruel, but because He's vastly powerful, ever-present and always ready to provide. He doesn’t hide or force you through hoops. He just calls you to seek His face. Has the sun in your life dipped behind the horizon? Remember... one may set, but another sun will rise. Paths may fade in the forest, but take heart in God’s navigation. Breathe deep! Follow the Holy Spirit’s compass and chase the light of God’s radiance. Forget yesterday and look to the eastern rising!