Yes, Kylie, There Is A God

Image result for teenagers wondering if god exists

Dear editor:

I am 14 years old and a freshman in high school. I grew up in the church and believed in God, but now, I am not so sure. I see what is going on in this world, this country, and my hometown and I have to wonder if there is a God, where is he? I have friends whose parents both work full-time jobs and just barely have food on the table. She told me yesterday that they couldn’t even afford a single Christmas present this year. I see people starving not only all over the world but right here in my town. I read about human trafficking and people doing opioids to escape their pain.

I see people in my school that are so stressed out and have such low self-esteem that they hurt themselves or do whatever it takes to be liked. I see Instagram and Snapchat pictures of smiles on their faces but I look in their eyes and see nothing but hurt. I know I am loved, but there are so many people my age who do not feel loved or do not know who they are.

I have friends I  go to church and Wildlife and now Younglife with that are having these same issues and are leaving the church or just quit believing. I want to believe there is a God, I want to believe there is hope and love in this world, but I am struggling.

Mr. editor, I am 14 years old, I should not have to worry if today is the day I go to school and someone will shoot me and my friends.

So, is there a God and if so, where is he?

Dear Kylie,

First, thank you for your letter. I want you to know that you are not alone in feeling this way. It does not matter if you are four or fourteen or forty-four, we are all frustrated with the world we live in.

I am not a theologian, simply a writer, and I will do my best to answer your questions.

A simple answer to your question, where is God, would be that we, or some people, asked him to leave our schools, we told him we didn’t need him and we stopped praying, we told him we could do it on our own. So, he simply left.

But like I said, that is a simple answer and also the wrong answer because I do not believe he left at all. I see teenagers every day that are making a difference. You probably see them, and maybe you are one of them, that take a stand against bullying, that reaches out to someone who is hurting, even if that person is not in their “circle.” They are the ones that will do what is right, not what is popular, no matter what others will think about them. Kylie, that is where you will find God.

I know our church collects gifts to give to those in need and can’t afford Christmas presents. Not only our church but churches and communities and individuals that give to the needy, like your friend’s family, so that they can have a Christmas. I know this time of year is hard for families with financial hardships, but when you see others giving and volunteering to help those in need, that is where God is.

I see the same news and social media you see about the evil in this world, such as human trafficking and drug overdoses. That’s what the news wants you to see, but they do not show the good that is out there. You truly have to search for it to know that for every bad news story, there is a good one. The Bible says seek and you will find.

I ask you to do that Kylie, turn away from the news feeds and search for good. Organizations like ECPAT-USA, ecoatusa.org, who are also international, or Polaris Project, polarisproject.org. Even right here in central Ohio there is Out Of Darkness Columbus Ohio, outofdarknesscolmbusoh.org and Live United Delaware County, liveuniteddelawarecounty.org.

There are thousands and thousands of other organizations and individuals that are fighting against evil in this world. That is where God is Kylie.

How do I know  God exists? Take a look at our planet Earth. If it were positioned just a few inches from where it is located, it would not exist. Think about that Kylie. If the earth was located less than half the size of your iPhone, it would not be able to support human life. Scientists can’t even disagree with that.

How else do I know God exists? Well, it is you and me and every other human in this world. None of us are exactly the same. Who could make billions of people and not one of them is the same? How could billions of people exist that are all unique down to the tiniest DNA in their bodies if they were not created by God? Do you think that could happen by chance? I do not.

I did not always feel this way. Unlike you, Kylie, who grew up in church and knew about God and his love from the moment you were born, I did not. I did things my own way and ran my own life and was desperate to change the way I was living and one day I just stopped and turned around. I let God, who was pursuing me my entire life, catch me. And when he caught me, my life changed. I fell to my knees and I wept. Which was strange to me because I was raised to not show my feelings. To keep it all inside and be tough like a man. But that very moment God caught me, I was overwhelmed with love. As I learned about God, I learned about who he made me to be and what my identity is in Him. Not what everyone else thinks of me, but what God thinks of me. That changed my life.

Image result for overcomer movie quotes

Kylie, I have made many mistakes in my life. I have been divorced twice and tore apart my family because I was selfish and did things my way. Christians are humans and like all humans, we all make mistakes. After I accepted God into my life, seven years ago the unthinkable happened. My wife had an affair. It started around this time of year and I kept hearing a voice, or having a sixth sense if you will, to check her emails. Call it God trying to get involved before it got too far or call it the devil trying to tell me to look at what I helped your wife do, I do not know, but I ignored it because I trusted her. Until I could not ignore it and I found out the truth. In my anger, rage, hurting, and how could you, I wanted a divorce. Then on January 17th, I could not sleep. I was tossing and turning and crying and at 2:37 am, I felt the need to bundle up and take a walk. I remember the exact day and time because it is the first time I heard God speak to me. As I walked outside and tears streamed down my face and I yelled at God why, how could he let this happen, I looked up and saw the many many stars. In the stillness of the cold night,  I heard him say stay, this is not about you, it’s about her and I need you to stay and be strong and help me help her come back to us. Over the next few weeks, a peace came over me and instead of yelling and saying hurtful things, I spoke words I never thought I could speak. They were not my words but God’s. Seven years later, even though not all is perfect, no marriage is, we are still proof of God’s grace, forgiveness,  mercy, and love.

Kylie, Only God can heal a man like me, a marriage torn apart by an affair, and the brokenness of the people in this world.

We only have to be still and ask for him to help us and tell us what to do.

Image result for where is god quotes

 

My dad did not believe in God. Thankfully, to his wonderful wife, my mother, who had a heart of gold and to his caretakers over the last few months of his life, and maybe to the way I lived my life after I accepted God, he accepted that Jesus is his lord and savior and invited him into his life shortly before he passed. I wish he could have had more time to know how much God loves him but in my grieving, I also knew that I would see him again. Only God can heal the grieving and the hurting Kylie.

Kylie, I wish everyone your age, or any age, knew what their true identity in Christ is. I believe that if everyone knew how much they were loved, how they were chosen to be born and that there is a plan for their life that there would less hurt in this world. I wish that they defined themselves as God defines them. That they would understand that false identity comes from the brokenness in this world. Trust that Jesus died on the cross for their sins and that they were forgiven and that there is a better way to live this thing we call life. I wish that they would find their plan and purpose for what God has for them, not what this world tells them they should be.

Kylie, do not choose happiness. It is an emotion like sadness or anger or excitement. It comes and goes with circumstances. Choose joy and love Kylie. No matter what you are going through choose to love, choose to be joyful. That is where you will find God.

You can choose what your heart will follow, Kylie, and what your heart follows is where you will be. Choose goodness, compassion, empathy. Choose to follow the good in the world and people will follow you because they will see how you live. Kylie, that is where God will be.

I recently saw the movie Overcomer. I could tell you a million quotes that I wish every teenager would know in this social media world where everything is based on smiles and likes but one I would like to share is this: people always try to tell you to look like this person or do something this way because it is popular but knowing that God loves you and he made you, why would you want to be anyone else.

Be yourself. Kylie, When you realize and accept that, your self-image and your identity and your view of the world will change. Filter out the negatives and live in the positives.

You, Kylie, are a child of God and you are here for a reason.

Kylie, I wish this world was not what it is. I wish and pray today when you go to school that it won’t be your last day on this earth. But, I beg you Kylie, do not live in fear. God does not live in fear. Live with hope Kylie, go out today and change the world. Be the one who shows the world that God is alive and well and that he lives in you.

Image result for overcomer movie quotes

Kylie, even in the bad I see all around me, I choose to see the good more. From the morning sunrise to the evening stars, from the leafless trees of winter to the first flower that blooms in the spring. From the first breath a baby takes to the last breath someone breathes. There is a shell that covers this unseen world and people choose to believe in what only they can see but there are mysteries in the unseen that we will never fully understand but it is as real as the next breath you take. You must have faith, hope and love, Kylie. That is where God resides and that is where you will find him. From the beginning to the end, I choose to see God in all of it and that is how I know God was here yesterday, he is here today, and he will be here tomorrow.

Kylie, God is alive and well and he is in you. He made you and he saved you, he loves you, he blesses you, he protects you, you are chosen and he died for you, Kylie. If you will find it in your heart to believe how much you are loved and chosen then you, too, will see him everywhere for he will be with you everywhere you go.

In the good and the bad, in the laughter and the tragedy, seek him, Kylie. He is there.

And that my dearest Kylie, is how I know that God exists and that he is here today.

Your friend,

Rob

You Say by Lauren Daigle –

Enough by Koryn Hawthorne –

Who You Say I Am by Hillsong –

What Mercy Did For Me by Micah Tyler –

Father by Jeremy Camp –

Image result for overcomer movie quotes

 

This Is Going To Hurt

Image result for scary cliff at night

I ran.

As soon as he took a step towards me, I ran.

I can’t tell you how far or how long I ran.  I am willing to bet my last dollar it was farther and longer than I thought was possible.

I stopped to catch my breath and two questions popped into my head. What did I do for him to be here? Why was he following me?

I started to run again. In between my breaths, I heard the roar of rushing water below. It was in that moment I knew I took the wrong path.

I had three choices. Two of them would surely end in death. I could jump off the cliff into the cold rushing water. Death. I could stand there and do nothing and let him catch me. Death.

Since the first two choices would end in death, I had one choice left.

I had to escape.

Come on, come on.  THINK!! I looked around, evaluating my options. Looking for another way. Time was running out. I could hear him coming.

I threw a rock over the cliff into the water. Hoping he thought I jumped. Then I looked at my only option left. The thickest thorn bush I had ever seen.

This is going to hurt.

I jumped in.

Related image

I tried quieting my breathing. I tried curling up into a small ball. I tried wishing that the moon wasn’t full. But it was.

I heard his footsteps. Getting closer. And closer. How did I get here?

I remember the day it happened. One year ago. One year ago today to be exact. I was in one of my “seasons,” as I like to call them. Nothing was going right. I was sinking into the quicksand I called depression. I was spiraling out of control. Failure was coming and I couldn’t stop it. Shame and guilt knocked on my door and I not only answered, I let them in.

Have you ever done something and one second after you did it you said what did I just do? I am so stupid. Why did I do that? I just let everyone I know down and I know they could never forgive me. I couldn’t even forgive myself so how could they?

I had to keep what I had done a secret. NO MATTER WHAT!! The truth would kill them, therefore killing me. Since I was already dead, there was no need to kill them. So I kept it to myself.

I sank further into my guilt and shame. I withdrew from everyone. Oh, I still had a killer smile and was wittingly charming. I could get by. I faked a lot of happiness. Inside, I cried a lot of tears. I was rotting inside and I knew they could smell it. I knew they knew I was a fake. But they never said anything.

Maybe I was better at hiding it than I thought. Then I started thinking, I am such a good liar. Which led to more guilt and shame. Which led to him.

At first, I didn’t pay much attention. I would see him at the gas station or maybe at the store. You know the feeling you get when you think someone is watching you. I would get that and look up and he would be looking at me. He wouldn’t look away. I got chills down my spine. What a creep, I thought.

Through the first few months, I would seem him every couple of weeks. As the year progressed, I would see him more and more. Recently, as I was falling apart and my lies were catching up to me, as my guilt and shame were eating at me, I was seeing him every day.

EVERY SINGLE DAY!!

ALWAYS LOOKING AT ME.

NEVER LOOKING AWAY.

I finally was getting the courage to approach him and ask him what his deal is. That’s when he took the first step to me. I froze. Then, I ran.

I ran and here I am. In this thorn bush. Scratched and bleeding. Dying inside. Hiding from a man who wouldn’t quit following me.

As smart as I thought I was by throwing the rock into the water, he was smarter. As quiet as I thought I was being, he could still hear me. As dark as I thought my hiding place was, he still found me.

I, for the first time, took a good look at him. I mean, a really good look. I wanted to know who was going to end my days. That’s when I saw the crown of thorns around his head. He didn’t say a word. He just reached his hand down and by the light of the moon, I saw the scars on his. A sudden peace came over me and for some unknown reason, I reached out and took his hand.

Image result for crown of thorns

The thorns parted as he pulled me up. My bleeding wounds stopped bleeding. It was like a giant boulder was taken off my shoulders.

“I forgive you.” In those three words that he said my heart changed. It was like clean air was poured into my dirty lungs. Tears of guilt were replaced with tears of joy.

I walked back home, with him by my side. I knew it may be a long road to recovery, but I knew I had to tell them. I knew they had to know the truth. I could not keep living with this.

I also knew with him there was no condemnation, no guilt, no shame. I had to believe that they would forgive me also. I had to hope and pray for a better future. No matter what happens, I knew I had to continue to walk with him, not run away from him.

I took a deep breath and walked into the house. I knew we would be okay. I knew that I would be a better man. I knew they would forgive me. I knew we would survive the lies. Even so, I knew this was going to hurt.

Image result for bible verses on forgiveness

Never Stopped Loving by Jeremy Camp- 

Grace Will Lead Me Home by David Dunn – 

Fear Is A Liar by Zach Williams – 

He Still Does Miracles by Hawk Nelson – 

Worth It by Lecrae- 

You Waited by Travis Greene- 

Always Faithful by Ashes Remain – 

God, Is This Your Answer?

God, I asked you to use me

The next day I was diagnosed with cancer

I don’t want to question you but if that’s your answer

God, there  must be another way I plea

God, I asked you to use me

The next day my wife tells me our marriage needs a makeover

I thought all was well, I need you to takeover

God, tell me this isn’t the way please

God, I asked you to use me

The next day my teenage daughter was killed by a drunk driver

Oh God , I am not supposed to survive her

God, can’t you see me down here on my knees

God, I asked you to use me

With you by my side I will fight this cancer

With you as my strength I accept your answer

With this disease I will show your glory

God, I asked you to use me

Just when  my marriage was falling apart

You stepped in and gave us a fresh start

God, you made a masterpiece out of all the debris

God, I asked you to use me

In my worst moment you made me strong

You helped me to forgive, to sing a new song

When he couldn’t forgive himself, he saw You in me

Choose Me by Latice Crawford – 

Eye Of The Storm by Ryan Stevenson – 

Thank You For Everything by Jason Gray – 

What Has Happened? 

 

Normally on my days off I “sleep in” until 7-730.  This morning, I was awakened at 5:57 with these words and they just came pouring out. I can only say God was moving early this morning.

Five year old little man

Doesn’t seem to quite understand

Why he only sees his dad every other weekend

What has happened to til death do us part, do not commit adultery?


Everyone only looking out for number one

They don’t give a crap about the damage they’ve done

Only living for the moment , living for fun

What has happened to caring about someone else?


In a democracy we now have the minority that rules

We have men able to use the bathroom of my little girl

I just can’t comprehend what’s happening to this world

What has happened? God, what is happening?

When did our homes become a house of cards

My feelings, when did you start to disregard?

Man, life isn’t supposed to be this hard

What has happened to the golden rule ?


Hurting each other no matter the cost

Will there be another holocaust?

Can’t we see all we’ve lost, we’ve all lost

What has happened, what happened to my voice?


The entire world seems to be living in sin

They don’t care about the way they live

They don’t care about how little they give

What has happened to compassion and empathy?

The animals go extinct at alarming pace

The judges common sense has been erased

Since when does every one have to win the race?

What has happened to one nation, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all?

We spend more than we make

Keeping up with Jones’ for the Smith’s sake

When are we going to wake up? Are you awake?

What has happened to saving for a future?


When the majority stands up to the few we get pulled under

Shows get cancelled , majority loses, is it any wonder ?

We sit by and watch it get worse, can you hear the distant thunder?

What has happened God,  how much longer ?

Health care can’t afford, no worries, someone else will pay

Climate change, getting warmer each and every day

Claim ignorance is bliss if you can’t hear what I say

What has happened to living how Jesus taught us to be ?

The ones that are to protect us are killing

The ones that are to save our money are stealing

Our kids won’t get better when dealers are dealing

What has happened to integrity and honesty ?


People killing people in our streets,  in our cities

Sending our soldiers  to fight wars in other countries

This world’s a mess, has it ever been pretty?

What has happened to love God, love your neighbor?

Our government allows sugar and toxic chemicals in our food

Our tv shows, our music, our words are becoming more lewd

My words represent the majority yet they are booed

What has happened to treating people right instead of just making a profit?

Not too long ago the Cold War came to an end

The Berlin Wall fell, reuniting family and friends

Today, new rules, new laws, borders changing without end

What has happened ? God what is happening?

God and me, we love you for who you are

If you live near me or if you live afar

Look  up, we are all living under the same stars

What has happened to my rights and what I believe in?


We’ve taken God out of schools, work and lives

We tell Him we don’t need Him then run and hide

Then we have the nerve to ask God why

What has happened? I ask you my friends, what is happening?

Something To Believe In by Poison  (alternate lyrics) – 

Something To Believe In by Poison (original lyrics) – 

Happiness by NeedToBreathe – 

Never Too Far Gone by Jordan Feliz – 

Breathe by Jonny Diaz – 

It’s Not Over Yet by For King & Country – 

Faith To Believe by Shane & Shane – 

Believe by Letter Black – 

Believer by DecembeRadio –  

Don’t Be Afraid

I have heard that the phrases like do not be afraid, do not fear, etc are in the Bible 365 times. I know that this is not the case but they are in there quite often. I wrote this when I first connected with Lily about singing my songs. I needed to reread the words this weekend to help with some of my anxieties and worries. I thought I would share, hope you like. Let me know your thoughts.

Don’t Be Afraid

As I begin to take my first step

out into this world on my own

I swear I could hear your breath

I know I heard your song


But yet I am so indecisive

Not sure of what I know

I wonder what I have to give

But I hear your voice to go


You say don’t be afraid

You say follow me

In my image you are made

You say just believe


At times I forget Your voice

At times I am so unsure

But I know this is your choice

For me to walk through this door


You made me to sing

You made me to tell your story

My voice is the gift I bring

You made me not to worry


You say don’t be afraid

You say follow me

In my image you are made

You say just believe


I take this life to give

Like an eagle these wings will soar

You made me want to live

I will take this step through this door


I won’t be afraid

I will follow you

In your image I am made

Believing is all I can do

You say don’t be afraid

Cast My Cares by Finding Favour – 

Cast My Cares by Tim Timmons – 

Whom Shall I Fear by Chris Tomlin – 

Do Not Be Afraid by Tanner Clark – 

Do Not Be Afraid by JJ Weeks Band – 

Fear Not by Chris Tomlin –