The deep inner workings of a beggar's mind

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Eight Years

Eight years.
Eight years of lost laughs.
Eight years of silent stories.
Eight years of mourning and moving on…of missing and making do.

And yet, the pain never truly heals.

Here I sit eight years later, and still the finality of it all strikes me like a hammer, crushing my fragile heart with its mighty heft.

I can still see him lying in that hospital bed…barely a shell of the man I once knew; a mere shadow of he that raised me.

That last night still burns in my mind:

Those haunting words…”He’s going. If you want to make your peace, now is the time.”

My mother, too hysterical to drive, and me barely keeping it together myself.

The hollow feeling in my stomach as I approached his room.

The shock that stopped me cold in my tracks.

His empty stare…

And the terrible silence. That awful, unbearable silence…

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Veterans’ Day, 2007. The bitter irony.
He survived Vietnam, but could not survive his battle with cancer.

No more silly jokes or beautiful songs. His powerful voice forever silenced.

No more hugs or pats on the back. No more advice. No more meals together. No more house plans. No more Star Trek or Doctor Who. No more family trips. Nothing.

“Please, son, whatever you do, don’t get angry at God about this.”

His final request. And I intend to honor it. I will continue on this path until my Lord sees fit to call me home as well.

As always, I still “love ya bunches and gobs,” and I’ll see you again someday.

=-=-=-=-=-=

For Dad.

Terry Austin Morgan (5/22/46 – 11/11/07).

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Joy

This is one of those nights that seems darker than most. My mind overflows with images: little slices of heaven with my father by my side. I see him holding my hand as a child running down the beach. I see him chasing my bike down an empty sidewalk as the training wheels came off and I rode on my own for the first time. I see him leading us on those nature trails he so loved to take us to. I feel him lift me over his head and swing me around, his grip strong and firm, but not harsh.

I see him helping me with my baseball swing, math homework, and offering small praises with each new picture I drew for him. I see us all sharing our dinners in front of the tv as the theme song to Stargate SG-1 plays, and I see all of us crowding around our little computer to play Roller Coaster Tycoon or that minigolf game we used to love. For one brief and happy moment, we’re all a family again.

I hear him singing with his gospel quartets and church choirs. He had such a powerful voice. I see the joy in his face as he shares special songs for communion, chief among them being “My Tribute,” and I wonder if he’d be proud of me if he could hear me every Sunday morning leading the church in worship. I hope so.

I see him sitting in his chair wearing those ridiculous blue shorts he always wore, holding that giant blue coffee mug he was constantly sipping on. I see him on the back porch caring for the plethora of plants that turned our place into a jungle and talking to the birds as he dropped new seed on the ground for them to eat.

Then, I see the horrors the cancer visited upon him. I see how it made him waste away, sapping his strength, crippling him, then killing him. The music stops with his heart. Those arms I trusted in and relied on so much as a boy lay limp at his side. My father, my superhero, was gone.

Life was never easy for us, circumstances being what they were, but he never lost faith. He never doubted we were held in God’s hand and He wouldn’t let us fall. “Whatever you do, son, please don’t get angry at God for this.” His words burn in my mind like the cancer that destroyed his body.

And here I sit, silently sobbing in the dark. I wish I could see him just once more…just sing one more song with him, laugh at one more of his corny jokes, share a cup of coffee as we stare at the stars. I wish I could feel his strong embrace one more time. He always gave the best hugs. I wish he could meet my future wife and children…but it will never be. Not in this life.

Nevertheless, there is hope. All is not lost. He is one of the redeemed of the Lord, and when I pass from this life to the next, we’ll be reunited. So I’ll pick up and keep going. Now is not the time for tears. That time has passed, and my mother needs me. “So I’ll try my best, and lift up my chest, to sing about this joy, joy, joy.”

“When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like seabillows roll, whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say it is well, it is well with my soul.”

Goal Setting

Dreams are some of the trickiest things for me to think of, because I hadn’t really sat down to consider it much before I started working with my newest job, but the more I think about them, the more I realize they’re essential to life. After all, if I don’t have a clear understanding of where I want to go or what I want to be like, I can’t begin to make the changes necessary to be sure I get there. So, I decided to sit down and plan it out. I’m breaking it up into sections to make it easier for me to decipher, so here goes. My top whatever-the-number-ends-up-being list for things I want to accomplish, places I want to go, etc, etc. This list will be continually updated, so it should be interesting to see how large it gets. Also, many are ongoing goals, so it’s not as if I’ll suddenly “arrive” at most of them, but hey, it’ll give me the direction I need to succeed and live a fulfilling life.

– Brian

(Special shout-out to my manager, Mike, even though you may never see this. Without your guidance, I probably wouldn’t have realized the value in keeping track of these things.)

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Travel goals:

  1. Visit Ireland
  2. Dive the Great Barrier Reef
  3. Go on an African safari
  4. See the pyramids at Giza
  5. Walk along the Great Wall of China
  6. Ride a Japanese bullet train and experience the night life in Tokyo/Osaka
  7. Spend a weekend (or two) in each of the 50 states
  8. See the remnants of the Berlin Wall
  9. Watch a soccer game in Spain
  10. Return to Guatemala and see the Mayan cities in the North
  11. Take part in a festival in Rio de Janiero
  12. Spend a week in the Virgin Islands
  13. BAHAMAS!!
  14. Go on a Caribbean cruise
  15. Spend a couple weeks in England, then take the chunnel to Paris
  16. Go surfing in Hawaii (learn from the best)
  17. Go snowboarding in Canada
  18. Backpack across Europe
  19. Hike the Appalachian Trail
  20. Visit space (Yes, that’s technically a travel goal :P)
  21. Take a boat through the fjords in Scandinavia
  22. See the Kremlin
  23. Take the LotR tour in New Zealand (visit Hobbiton and the like ^^)
  24. Canoe down the Amazon River
  25. Explore a rain forest
  26. See the sights in Washington, D.C.
  27. Visit Constantinople

Physical goals:

  1. Join a gym and get a steady routine in place
  2. Improve my endurance enough to run a marathon
  3. Learn parkour
  4. 175 lbs, 8% body fat
  5. Bike 20 miles without stopping
  6. Return to the Ultimate Frisbee circuit
  7. Play baseball in a league
  8. Learn and master multiple styles of martial arts
  9. Bench twice my weight (~300 lbs)
  10. Develop healthier eating habits
  11. Develop a consistent sleep schedule

Artistic goals:

  1. Write a worship song that inspires and touches people and spreads to multiple churches across the nation and goes overseas
  2. Be able to play basically any song from any genre on guitar by ear
  3. Learn drums
  4. Learn piano
  5. Finish and publish my story (http://got88.wordpress.com)(Yes, this IS a shameless plug.)
  6. Create a video game based off said story
  7. Draw my own comic books
  8. Take up digital art
  9. Become a Photoshop whiz
  10. Record a CD and create change with my music
  11. Perfect my sketch/art style

Material goals:

  1. Design and build my own home near the beach
  2. Have a music room/recording studio in my home
  3. Get an awesome digital drawing pad
  4. Learn how to invest and set up a number of solid investments to ensure a better future for my family
  5. Create a “vision board”
  6. Get a reliable car that I can tweak and tune and make awesome

Spiritual goals:

  1. Read through the entire Bible cover to cover at least once per year
  2. Go on a short-term missions trip every couple years
  3. Spend at least 1 month overseas on mission
  4. Overcome my biggest temptation
  5. Make God THE priority
  6. Change someone’s life each year for the better
  7. Write a sound commentary on the Scriptures
  8. Develop a voracious hunger for knowing God more
  9. Deepen my intimacy with God
  10. Become educated in the precepts of the other religions of the world so I can have good in-depth conversations based on facts and not assumptions or hearsay and accurately defend my own faith against the accusations of those from other backgrounds
  11. Figure out what my spiritual gifts are and how to effectively use them

Educational goals:

  1. Become multilingual (Spanish, French, German, Russian, Japanese, and Gaelic)
  2. Get a Masters degree
  3. Study abroad for a semester
  4. Develop a love for reading
  5. RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH!! (Always have a factual basis or at least understand why I believe what I believe)
  6. Learn to fix cars
  7. Learn to design and repair computers
  8. Learn to program computers
  9. Build a lightsaber

Character goals:

  1. Remain honest, even in times where a lie would produce a less painful outcome in the moment
  2. Conquer my tendency toward laziness
  3. Learn to embrace leadership instead of dreading it
  4. Be the type of person I’d want to follow
  5. Remain humble, even if blessed with fame or fortune
  6. Always be available to listen and be willing to give advice if it’s asked for
  7. Always put others’ needs before my own – selflessness, not selfishness
  8. Help others discover the best version of themselves
  9. CANI – Constant And Never-ending Improvement
  10. Conquer my stage fright completely
  11. Stop beating myself up/tearing myself down so much
  12. Always put the focus on the positives and possibilities of the future and not dwell on the regrets of the past
  13. Be aggressive, but not overbearing or destructive when seeking new possibilities
  14. Learn to be more assertive
  15. Learn to say “no”

Misc. goals (Ones I couldn’t think of a good category for):

  1. Get married
  2. Have 2 kids (one of each)
  3. Go skydiving
  4. Ride a jet ski
  5. Become a powerful public speaker
  6. Learn how to effectively balance work and play

I Am Not the Same

IS MY VISION REALLY THAT SMALL?! I’ve been given so much, yet I still get hung up on the small things. “Surely God cannot use me. I’m not good enough…” I MUST look beyond my failures. I MUST look to Christ alone. I MUST get past this complex I’ve got before I can be as effective for the Kingdom as God desires me to be. And you know what? I feel like I can finally do it.

Something broke tonight. It wasn’t glorious. It wasn’t a voice from heaven or a sign in the sky or writing on a wall. It was the remembrance of who I am. I’m not talking about my personal identity. I’m talking about my identity in Christ. Just the words “I am a co-heir with Christ.” And I wasn’t even cognitively trying to remember it. The Spirit brought it to my mind. And it wasn’t in the midst of some spiritual high. It was immediately after I fell again. God has a strange (but perfect) sense of timing sometimes.

I’m glad He said it when He did, though. I wasn’t in a “spiritual mood.” I wasn’t praying some super religious prayer for forgiveness. I wasn’t listening to worship music or reading the Bible. I was sitting in the bathroom of all places. I was in just about the most undignified place possible, and it was there that God decided to speak to me. Sometimes, that’s His FAVORITE place to speak to us.

And BOY, did He speak. Not a lot. But it was enough. He even used my own voice just to show off.

“Though I may stumble and fall, I can stand tall knowing You’ve paid my ransom and given back the royalty my sin stole from me. I’m a co-heir.”

There is SO much theological talk that could be unpacked from that simple phrase, but this is not the time for it. This is story time! I can’t even explain it. I wasn’t particularly looking for a touch from God, but just out of NOWHERE, BAM!! faith started to rise up in my spirit. All of the accusing voices were silenced. All of the regret was destroyed. I just felt God rush in and love on me. He called me His child. Then I did a bit of spring cleaning.

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This week has just been amazing. My church is hosting a YWAM (Youth With A Mission for those who don’t know) team and God has just been moving in amazing ways through them, not just in the lives of all they meet at the RNC, but in my life as well. One of the staff even got a vision for me (If you’re reading this right now, and you know who you are, I just want to say thanks for being obedient to the prompting of the Lord, because I feel like what you said is spot-on).

He told me that he saw a dog gnawing on a bone that had long been licked clean, feverishly trying to get more meat off it, and he felt like God was telling him that was representative of me. That I’ve been clinging so long and hard to past encounters with God that I’m struggling to move on. He also said that God has “more meat” for me elsewhere. And you know what? He’s right.

I’ve grown stale in these past few years. Yes, I love the Lord, and yes, I’ve been ministering in my church as the music director for about four or five years now. But, I’ve also been slacking in my relationship. I’ve been letting certain temptations and sinful habits to create a sort of imaginary wall between me and my Father. I’ve been so concerned with other things that God got gradually pushed to the back burner, and it’s in the midst of that vacuum that I’ve been trying to pour out my ministry from. Talk about vain repetitions. Yet, despite that, God STILL chooses to use me to bless people. It just blows my mind.

This staff member then went on to tell me that God has great things planned for me and wants to use me in mighty ways. And I know we hear that all the time in the church, but this time it seemed…different. Then, yesterday, and I don’t know if this is a confirmation from God or something else, the speaker basically stopped in the middle of his message to take a detour and tell us, in essence, that he felt that God was calling some of us to “stand before princes” and be an instrument of (godly) change, but first, we had to lose that sense of “Oh, I could never do great things for God…I’m not good enough…I’m not spiritual enough…” Sound familiar?

So now, here I sit again, as I have so many times before, wondering what God has for me, and once again reassured of the fact that God hasn’t forgotten me or forsaken me like I sometimes feel He has out of the depths of my insecurities. I’m not pursuing fame or popularity. I’m not looking for some grand exaltation of my spirituality or personal holiness. I’m not dependent on accolades. I’m just looking to serve the Lord in any way possible. I’m looking to go wherever He would lead and bring about transformation through His power.

What does that look like ultimately? I have NO idea. All I know is that I need to get on my face before Him and stop treating Him like a hobby or a genie in a lamp. All I know is that I need to get to KNOW Him and the sound of His voice. All I know is that I must make Him the all-consuming passion He desires to be in my life. Lord, give me the strength to do it.

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“Adopted, healed, and lifted.
Forgiven, found, and rescued.

I am not the same, I’m a new creation!
I am not the same anymore!
I am not ashamed! I will not be shaken!
I am not the same anymore!

You have overcome!
It is finished, it is done!
Now, my heart is finally free!
Every chain undone
By the power of the Son,
Risen Savior, reigning King!”

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“Our hearts they cry:
Be glorified!
Be lifted high above all names!
For You, our King,
With everything,
We will shout forth Your praise!”

Constructive?

It’s late. I’m tired. But not tired enough to sleep.

Early start tomorrow, and I’m not sleepy. Why does it ALWAYS happen when I have to get up early? It’s amazing.

Normally, I’d be visiting a few websites and watching a few videos, but tonight I don’t feel like it.

If not videos, I’d be looking up pictures. Pictures are all well and good, and some are quite beautiful. But each shot only occupies a few minutes at most.

Could be reading, but I’m not sure I’m in the reading mood.

So, in the interest of being productive, I thought I’d do something constructive and write a blog.

Not a fancy one, but just something to keep me distracted for long enough until I start dreaming.

Why do I need distractions? ‘Cuz I can’t trust my heart. It leads me into all sorts of trouble.

Besides, I need to write more on here anyway. Feel like I’m wasting all this space if I don’t put out a blog every so often. Also, it’s a pretty good outlet for my thoughts. Huzzah for an electronic journal!

I don’t really care if anyone reads these things. But for those that do, I hope I’m able to help in at least some small way.

Because I DO care about people. Sometimes, it almost feels like I care too much. I drive myself crazy trying to fix everyone’s problems and make everyone feel better, but it’s not always the best thing to obsess over. Yes, I said “obsess.”

Not that I obsess over any one particular person. No, I haven’t done that in a while, and it didn’t turn out all that well.

No, I obsess over being the salve on people’s wounds. I obsess over being people’s crying shoulder. I obsess so much over others’ needs that I sometimes neglect my own.

It’s crazy. But it’s just the type of person I am.

I’d give the shirt off my back and every cent in my wallet to someone to help them out. And what do I get for it? Nothing. Well, not usually.

But, I don’t ask for anything in return. I don’t want anything in return. I’m happier when I’m helping others than I am when I help myself or when others help me. Sometimes, they take advantage of my kindness, but I bounce back and offer to help them again. Does that make me sick? Insane?

People come and people go, but I don’t seem to be moving much.

Am I letting life pass me by? Am I just being lazy?

Am I using my talents and abilities to their fullest extent, or am I wasting my potential?

I don’t know. I don’t really know anything. I don’t have a plan. I don’t have a goal.

As a result, I find myself wasting my days away just sitting in my little bubble.

And I’m content. At least, for the first few hours.

After that, I start looking for other “distractions.” I play another video game. I listen to another song. I look up another article.

Yet, I never seem to look where all the answers lie. I never seem to approach the streams of living water.

I say I care about Him. But my actions don’t show it.

I say I love Him. Mostly to everyone else. Rarely do I ever say it to His face.

I say I want His destiny for my life. Yet, I don’t seek it. I don’t pursue Him.

I just go to the next activity.

I just play the next song in church.

I just lead the next lesson in youth group.

I just….float. Float by.

I guess I just expect things to work out without taking any sort of definitive action.

Sometimes, it’s enough. Most of the time, I miss the whole point of a certain event.

I can’t keep living this way. I have to do something.

Maybe not something earth-shatteringly (Is that even a word?) huge, but at least a small something to get me moving in the right direction.

What will it look like? God knows.

I’ve just gotta move on.

Ah, but I think I’ve ranted long enough. Maybe I’ll be able to get some rest now.

 

 

If You’ll have me, You can use me however you want.

Refresh

It’s been far too long since I posted one of these. Not that anyone reads blogs anymore in general. Maybe I should just type everything in facebook notes…meh, writing out my thoughts here saves paper, at least.

It’s amazing how quickly one can lose sight of their goals if no action is taken toward making them a reality. It’s so easy to get sidetracked, distrac-“SQUIRREL!!”-ted, and otherwise apathetic (Couldn’t think of another “track” word. Whatever.). These are common, natural dangers, but they are the worst progress-killers ever, and if we hope to honor the Lord and better ourselves and those around us, they have no place in our lives.

This past weekend at Acquire the Fire was AWESOME! Aside from a few…interesting situations which branched off from me driving one of the vans and not knowing the area around the center AT ALL, that is. God really rocked the house (as He always does), and His presence was so tangible, I could almost physically feel His embrace. It was such an enriching, freeing experience to just be able to sit back and worship without having to worry about hitting the right notes on a guitar or the right harmonies in the mic. Many experienced love, refreshment, deliverance, and healing. Some met Dad for the first time. In my case, it re-centered my focus and carried over into the church service on Sunday. I even picked up some great new songs to use in my own personal worship and in my leadership at church. I made a few commitments. I abandoned a few skeletons. I finally turned away from my vomit for one brief and shining moment.

Come Monday, however, I was already back into a few of the things I swore to leave behind. Call it addiction, call it unfaithfulness, call it what you will, but the reality is I need to just lay them down once and for all. They’re just not worth pursuing, but they are “comfortable” (until the guilt sets in). They are “familiar.” And I’m sick of it. I’m sick of crumbling at the first hint of temptation; I’m sick of allowing my life to be ruled by these petty gods. I’m wholly disgusted with the unholy desires of my heart. I’m totally dissatisfied with my poor self-image, paltry commitments, and pitiable disposition toward sin.

I need more. I CRAVE more. More of the Word. More ministry. More time spent worshiping. More of GOD. So many people are content to allow Him to clean up their mess like a butler, then to ignore Him like He doesn’t exist when things are going well. So many treat the Author and Sustainer of the UNIVERSE like some kind of cosmic Genie who is bound to granting us every selfish impulse of our hearts. I’m tired of being one of those people. I’m tired of grieving the Spirit. I’m tired of living for temporary things. I need an eternal mindset.

God, far be it from me that I should push You to the back burner!! I BEG You, don’t allow me to live another day consumed by such meaningless things! Don’t allow me to fall back into the normal “routine.” Take what’s left of my life. Use me how You see fit. I’m tired of living for my own pursuits. I’m tired of rehashing old and worn out posts like this one. You are SO much better than ANY of this. I pray the passion I have now would continue to flood my soul and banish my internal darkness. You removed all the filth from me once and for all on the cross, yet I treat Your sacrifice as a trifling thing. It’s despicable. Yet, You forgive. You love. You hold me close when I’m broken. You lift me up above my curse. Even when I spit in Your face, You just wipe it off and extend Your hand once again. Please forgive me. Please strengthen this feeble heart. Please refresh my life, remove me from the exalted place that belongs to You, and empower me to exhaust my life for Your cause.

To You, and You alone, be every OUNCE of glory.

Reflections

Why do I waste so much time on those things that are fading away? I spend hours, barring sleep even, playing video games, yet I barely ever acknowledge God’s constant presence here when I’m alone. I’ll spend hours satisfying the base lusts that my heart conjures up, yet I can’t be bothered to open the Word of God half the time. Why am I so selfish?

Just recently, one of my facebook friends had several life-shaking experiences happen in rapid succession, and as I was praying for him, I realize just how much I focus on things that don’t matter. My heart breaks for the broken, but half the time I don’t see them because I barely ever look beyond my computer screen. I hurt along with the hurting, yet I know more about the intricacies of fantasy worlds than I do about my neighbors. I have an empathetic heart, but I doubt many would be able to tell if they looked at my hum-drum day-to-day living. Why do I find it so difficult to get outside the walls of my apartment? Sure, I don’t have a car at the moment, but that’s a very poor excuse.

I like to think I’m an approachable person, but I can’t be approached if I’m never seen. Sure, the congregation at my church sees me as I stand up on the platform and scream into a microphone, but how often do they see me outside of that context? The youth group sees me on Wednesday nights, but that’s the ONLY time during the week they see me. If I plan on making a difference, if I plan on speaking life into their lives, I need to spend more time with them. Even just saying “hey” every now and again on facebook could be a good start. After all, I’ve got over 900 “friends.” The sad reality, however, is that I only really have any sort of intimacy with a handful of them. I could certainly be doing more in that regard, but I just don’t want that to become the accepted limit of my interaction with others.

My music is another issue entirely. God has put the gift of music in me for more than just my benefit. He’s given me a certain knowledge of chords, harmonies, and lyrics that far too often goes unused. This is not to say that I’m any sort of musician to be renowned for my eloquence, nor do I imply that I’m spinning gold with my songs or poetry. As far as most art is concerned, it’s probably pretty close to garbage. That doesn’t matter, though.

It’s not about becoming famous. It’s not about signing a multi-million dollar record deal and selling out shows all over the world. It’s not even entirely about having fun. It’s about praising the Lord. It’s about making His gospel known. It’s about furthering His kingdom in this world.  It’s about edifying the Body of Christ and encouraging them to pursue a deeper relationship with their King, a deeper understanding of His Word, and a greater heart for the lost.

Forgive me for my unfaithfulness, Lord! You’ve spoken many words to me, and I’ve only shared a few. Please give me the strength to pursue You and share You with others. Please give me the drive to put away the distractions and live my life for You. You are the only thing worth pursuing. You are the only Person worth praising. To You be the glory forever.

Looking back over my life, it’s scary to see how long I’ve been stagnant. It’s terrible to see how far I’ve come without moving anywhere. It’s dishonorable. It’s disdainful, even. Yet, even after posting this, I’ll probably have a tendency to continue skating forward as if I’d never written anything. God, give me the strength I need to change that. Give me the strength to start pursuing You more passionately, to start serving You more wholeheartedly, and to start praising You more loudly.

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