ABOUT THE EASTERN RISING
WHO AM I?
I'm just an average guy from New York. 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 is more like a roller coaster 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 running my race, but I still have a long way to go! How can I be so certain that the Lord is good (or even real)? Because I’ve tasted and seen! In the face of my doubts, questions, trials and defeats, He has always proven Himself faithful. In my joys, achievements and victories, the credit is due to Him. I love God because He loved me first. I don’t serve an unreachable deity or stale religion, but a living, active Father.
In many ways, my spiritual walk can be classified as “normal,” but don’t be fooled into thinking that my life is a stroll through the park. I grew up in a Christian home. I was raised by two incredible parents who cultivated my sister and I in an environment of love. I was nurtured, encouraged- 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 the fellowship, learning the Word and discovering what it meant to do good for God’s kingdom. It was never hard for me to believe that God was there simply because He was evident 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- my church experience- my years of youth group and summer camp- they all contributed to the influence and development of my faith. I went away to SUNY Cortland (very much a secular college), but 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 best friends today. I serve as the Worship Director and Youth Leader for a wonderful church family here in Orange County, NY, and I thank God for every opportunity He gives me to learn, bless and be blessed.
Why do I write as an "ordinary" man with a very "ordinary" testimony? Because I serve 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 walked in the “wilderness.” I've been lost, empty and hungry for something more. I have fought back the feelings of being 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 or rave reviews. In fact, these writings may very well be swept beneath the wave of other blogs, "self-help" books, podcasts and devotions that are offered by more “equipped” men and women of God. 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 you “feel good," pat you on the back and send you on your way. I'm here to navigate the wild with you- addressing everyday topics of faith that can often get overlooked. I’m not expecting to 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 the 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)! Imperfectly, we seek God’s perfection. Whether my perspective leaves you joyful, angry, or just bewildered, keep reading- keep searching- keep asking questions. We all wander- discouraged, distracted 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)
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 are your present and future miles apart? Do you sit comfortably in your status or stand in a hole that robs your joy and chases away your contentment? Is your life the proverbial “day at the beach” or does your situation feel the least ideal and the most difficult? Who peers back at you in the mirror? Do they look like a "million bucks" or your worst nightmare? Do you see a confident soul with a sense of identity or a stranger; hardly recognizable or even a little disappointing to look at? When the sun sets, we’re all left to take inventory from our head to our heart. Life can be wonderful, but 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” within us; a sense of direction or 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 personal goals. Our conscience taps on the window 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 real reward and blessing in the end!
Is your faith lost in a fog? Maybe peace seems nonexistent. Maybe God seems unreal, unfair or unavailable. Life happens and it’s happening to you, so get comfortable because you’re going to 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 our answers and who we ultimately worship. Why not help your own cause? Open up and be real with yourself as you read. Truth and transparency 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 because He is vastly powerful, ever-present and always ready to provide. He doesn’t hide or force you through hoops. He just calls us to seek His face. Has the sun in your life dipped behind the horizon? Remember... as one sun sets, 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 run towards the light of God’s radiance. Forget yesterday and (for today) look to the eastern rising!