God Loves You!

This past Sunday, April 13th, I had the opportunity to hear Kyle Idleman’s awesome message and realized that this year’s Easter was going to be different. When I realized this I didn’t understand why I felt this way, so I began to the process of allowing God to open up my mind and heart.

Over the weekend, my dad who has been living out of state delivered special, exciting news that he would be moving back to Louisville because he had accepted a new job in this area! Since then I have been house hunting for him and reflecting back on all of the father-son moments I never got to have with him but excited about the opportunity to have them now. With all of that excitement, I have barely been able to really grasp how much of a blessing this was that my own dad was not going to be thousands of miles away, but that he would be right up the road. Receiving this news brought me such a tremendous joy…a joy that I had not felt in quite some time. I don’t even know what to do with myself but to give praises to God.

Walking into this week I knew that God isn’t done with revealing good news to me. This past Tuesday, we had our monthly all-staff meeting, where we get to worship God as a family and hear some exciting news, stories, and updates from all the different Southeast campuses. During worship, I began to completely release everything I had been thinking, feeling, and containing…the things that I had been trying to hide from God. We sang the song “Hosanna” by Hillsong UNITED and I began to feel overwhelmed by the Holy Spirit. This feeling of a love that was indescribable, a hug that was inescapable, and tears so uncontainable that they began to pour out of me. At this very moment, I began to realize that the life I have is completely blessed by the Lord and most days I don’t realize it. I am very loved and cared for by the people who surround me. Most days, I walk around waiting for a blessing or miracle from God, but in this moment I realized that blessings and miracles happen every day and are all around me. For example, most days the sun has a beautiful sunrise and sunset. The front row seat we get, to witness God’s creation is absolutely incredible. We wake up every morning with the same breath that God breathed in us to create life. Those three basic examples of how God performs these blessings on a daily basis are examples of the things we take for granted. Sometimes our blessings are the miracles. As we continued to worship as a staff family, we began to sing “Resurrecting” by Elevation Worship. This song expresses the announcement that the resurrection of Jesus Christ isn’t just a one-time event, it happens within us every day. The same power that raised Christ from that tomb is alive and in me! As I began to sing this song I absolutely lost myself. I could barely sing because I was overwhelmed by tears of joy and gratitude. My heart had never been reminded so warmly that Jesus had already defeated and conquered the grave. Walking into Easter, the joy that I have, the freedom I experience is because of the conquered grave, the living sacrifice that Jesus made for me. I can live unarrested from sin and that is the greatest blessing that has ever happened to me.

Through all of this, I continue to prep my heart for Easter and how impactful it is. The fact that Jesus died on the cross and suffered brutal beating for YOU and me, is incredibly mind-blowing. It is so inconceivable most people can’t seem to grasp this free gift of love that frees us from sin if we chose to accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior and be baptized. I can’t exactly quote a statement Kyle Idleman spoke this past weekend but it went something like this, if the innocence of Jesus can be beaten and whipped, why is it so hard for us to accept Him and repent then be baptized?

Pendulum On Stand

animation swinging GIF

In high school I didn’t understand how to grow as a man. The decisions I made put me into a heavy, deep “pit”. There were ladders to help me climb out, but I didn’t use those ladders. My freshman year I stepped into high school knowing very few people. My reputation was low, and I felt like I needed to conform to make friends and earn their respect. I felt forced to enter a door that I never should have accessed. This door is a swinging door that teeters back and forth between this world and Christ, it was like my life was a Pendulum on stand.

All of my four years of high school, I conformed to this world rather than allowing my heart to be transfixed on Jesus. I held onto my reputation and my friends like it was my everything. Underage drinking and drug use just to be known and “feel good” became my normal. I would go to parties and let my sexual temptations override my thinking and release those temptations onto another. I would take pride in how many girls I could hook up with, as if it were a competition. How I viewed women, was corrupted by my own fleshly desires. I treated women like they were objects, like a token to an arcade game and I wanted the high score. My actions were evil, selfish, and harmful to those women. If you’re reading this and are one of the people I hurt by my actions please know that I am deeply sorry. These words cannot atone for how I treated  you. I pray for my forgiveness and pray that you find it in your heart to forgive me.

In the midst of living this lifestlyle I would still proclaim to know God externally while fighting the internal battle against my own flesh. Claiming to be a Christian to anyone who would listen, but I wasn’t walking inside the school or out of school as Jesus would. I was a hypocritical Christian, which is why my pendulum kept swinging back and forth. I didn’t understand, I didn’t know how to stop the force of motion of that weight that was being swung. It wasn’t until I looked in the mirror, and I saw a blunt in one hand and a bottle of new Amsterdam peach in the other. I had broken the hearts of these young women I should have been treating like daughters of the King. The pain that I contributed to, stayed with me like a tattoo on my soul from damage I had done. The thing that hit me the hardest was, while looking in the mirror I could envision the eyes of those who I hurt looking back at me with pained expressions. I could feel the sadness in their gaze. I could no longer bear the evil life I was living. Who was I? Who was I becoming? I didn’t like the person I was. I looked to the future and thought, what would my future children think of me? Is who I am today, the man I want my kids to grow up emulating?  These questions came to me once I graduated high school and my friends parted ways to different colleges. I was left alone with very little support apart from my mom and girlfriend. I tried to conquor my sinful nature alone constantly relying on my own strength, but was met with failure at every turn. This wasn’t a situation I could fix on my own.

And so, I insist—and God backs me up on this—that there be no going along with the crowd, the empty-headed, mindless crowd. They’ve refused for so long to deal with God that they’ve lost touch not only with God but with reality itself. They can’t think straight anymore. Feeling no pain, they let themselves go in sexual obsession, addicted to every sort of perversion.”   Ephesians 4:17 MSG

Ephesians 4:17 is exactly how I was living. I was perverted with the desires of this world. Here is the beauty of all of this, Jesus Christ put on flesh and came down to Earth and died for my sins. Because of Christ, the old ways of my high school years have been forgiven. My heart has changed, and my eyes are now fully transfixed on Christ. Do I still make mistakes? Yes. Am I still tempted by the things of this world? Yes.  Since then, I have allowed God to overwhelm my soul, and protect my heart and because of that, I am stronger. I am stronger in Christ than I am alone.

 

“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.”  1 John 2:15-17 NIV

Adversity’s Enourmous Storm!

What is adversity? According to Dictionary.com,  adversity is an adverse or unfortunate event or circumstance, marked by misfortune or distress.  Adversity comes in different forms, sources include mental, physical, financial , spiritual, social, or emotional.  In my eyes,  I view the midst of adversity as a person stranded on an Island with the necessary survival tools that are missing an essential piece.   Stranded person might have a boat, but no motor or oars.  There are trees to create the perfect shelter, but no ax.  Fresh water springs, but no animals or edible source of protein. Sounds like this person is never going to make it through.  Our stranded person frantically searches for a complete resource or a missing piece to another, when he spies something in the distance,  washed up on shore.  As he gets closer he realizes it’s a huge book with a ton of pages. Turning it over in his hands, he thinks to himself, “I could dry these pages and burn them for fire or I could read it hopes of an answer to my trial.”   Suddenly a strong wind rocks him, nearly knocking him face first into the sand.  Looking up, he sees dark clouds roaring in and he begins to panic.  Fierce fear and anxiety grips his chest, and he cries out.  Defeated and with low hope, he remembers the book in his hand and hunkers down behind a tree. He opens the book and begins to read aloud, realizing the book he holds is the bible,  Gods word.  Within moments, the storm begins to calm. He continues to read and read until the storm had passed.  The storm raged, but he read anyway.  See the resource he was missing was God’s truth, his promise.

What is your storm?  My storm was a whole bundle of things from divorced parents to feeling forsaken.  See, it is all about perception and perspective.  Perception is how we think and  perspective is how we see.  With that knowledge and knowing that adversity WILL hit, filling ourselves up with Gods words, our perception begins to twist into holiness.“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4 NIV.   Then our perspective begins to take a step back and starts to brighten and see the light.  “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! Matthew 6:22-23 NIV.  When our perspective and perception is fixed on the Lord God, we begin to allow God to shape our hearts and mature our minds.

When my parents got a divorce, feelings of anger and the question “WHY GOD?” began to ponder. I slowly began to hear that God was shaping me into who I really was. With out the divorce, without the emotions I had , with out my brother moving, and without these situations happening, I wouldn’t have been broken enough to have my eyes on Christ. I started to read His word and that’s when these puzzles pieces that broke began to be placed back together but with Gods picture, instead of my own.

Adversity can throw all of these arrows and bullets but as humans we were predestined with the gift of choice. The choice to choose to give all storms, battles, and trials to God and follow Him, or with stand it on our own. When arrows fly our way, God will give us a shield to withstand. When bullets are shot our way , God will give us body armor to protect us from those bullets. No matter the type of adversity, if we allow God to intervene, we will prevail. God leaves the ninety-nine just to save the one, because that is how gracious and loving He is. God doesn’t want to see you mourn and have pain, so He is reaching both arms out, the question is will you accept it?

 

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven. “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. 14 In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish. 

Matthew 18:10-14 NIV

Why do you care?

          Hello, my name is Trevor Bunker and I am twenty years old. I am a Full-time student, here in Louisville, Kentucky. Why do you care? Because I’m not your normal millennial and here is why.

   I was born in Northeast Ohio and moved to Louisville when I was young. Growing up my years were adventurous and imaginative. We played, neighborhood games, built forts, climbed trees, and using our imagination with bamboo, until my brother started to choose worldly things. My parents didn’t see eye to eye on things, so they got a divorce. Things started to erupt quickly, and this was all just the start of a huge mess, where I was stuck in the middle of it all. I had nothing left but to lean on God for help.

         Knowing that everything happens for a reason, my parents got divorced and immediately things got even worse. Every holiday was ruined, every birthday was uncomfortable, and relationships started to be thrown up in the air. My brother moved to Northeast Ohio to live with family. This impacted me because the divorce happened, my brother moved, so who was supposed to be the man of the house? Ended up being a fourteen-year-old who took this role. The role wasn’t chosen by me, this role chose me because I had to protect my mom.

       Again, why do you care? Because this adversity that seems so little has made me who I am today. Funny enough, this doesn’t even cover the majority of who I am. The hole inside my heart was stupid deep. Every step I took was miserable, disgusting, and a mistake until I gave my worries, my burdens, my heart, my LIFE to God, He took care of me. He showed me where to go, where to be, who to trust, but most importantly where to be comforted. I needed God to fight for me when I didn’t know what weapon to choose. I needed God to be my pillow when I didn’t know where to lay. I needed God to heal me from wounds that weren’t supposed to injure me. All I needed to do was open my hand, so He could yank me on the road where He called me to be.

         Why do you care? Because Mark 5:19 “No, go home to your family, and tell them everything the Lord has done for you and how merciful He has been.”

Welcome Family!

Let’s began this journey.