The Most Dangerous Safety Net Around

28th of January, 2014

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the phrase “I’ve been a Christian my whole life.” It’s usually in response to a question about where someone stands with their faith.

Understandably, it is an idiomatic phrase, but it drives me crazy. Because the underlying mindset behind this response is one of security and comfort. It’s like a safety net that we as Christians throw out if anyone challenges us on our faith.

The problem with this phrase is not in its matter-of-fact nature, but in its tendency to cause stagnation in spiritual growth. What we are really saying when we repeat that coveted phrase is not that we know our need for a Savior, but rather that we no longer have need for one.

The reason I can speak so candidly on this topic is that I’m the main culprit. I couldn’t even count how many times I’ve thrown out that phrase at someone, causing both of us to think that I’m OK living a joyless, hopeless, satisfactory life. But Jesus.

Jesus said that He came so that we could have life and life more abundantly. This stands in direct contrast to the lives many of us live today. So if that’s the case, what or who is keeping us from “living life to the fullest?”

We are.

By saying that we’ve been Christians our whole lives, and not actively seeking revelation of God’s word, we are doing ourselves and our Savior a disservice. “I paid the price for your sins, now live freely with faith, hope, and love!” That’s my paraphrased version of what Jesus said. But instead of living lives free from guilt and condemnation and fear, we are living lives FULL of those things.

The only way to live the life of joy, peace, and grace is to have faith that Jesus’ death and His blood shed on the cross was enough to cover each and every one of our sins—once and for all. Until we realize this, we will continue to live life unsure and unfocused.

So if we have “been a Christian our whole life,” it’s about time we started acting like it. Not by our good works, which are like filthy rags to God, but by our faith in the fact that God loved us enough to sacrifice His own Son to pay the penalty, once and for all, for our sins. There’s freedom in that folks. Let’s start living like it.

#LFG

With Friends Like These…

22nd of January, 2014

Have you ever had a group of friends who you can’t imagine living without? A few people in your life who you KNOW are there for a reason, through both your ups and your downs?

I have been fortunate enough to find a group of friends like this in Phoenix. As you may know, the NFL can be a lonely world. Once off-season hits, you’re basically on your own and left to fend for yourself and find your fit for the next few months until the team reconvenes for practice.

Thankfully for me, this isn’t the case. I’m grateful that I’ve been able to make friends outside of my main call of duty on the football field.

These friends have spent a lot of time with me, and vice versa. They’ve started to see my rhythms and my rhymes and even sense my humor. They laugh with me, cry with me, and care for me—they care for me enough, in fact, to “embarrass” me in front of 50 strangers at an improv show.

Allow me to set the scene. A few days ago I received an email from Ale, a good friend of mine, who claimed she was writing a blog post about people who “really inspired her.” She wanted me to fill out a questionnaire. I was flattered, and my ego was blown up, so I gladly filled it out. I was as honest and open as I could possibly be. She mentioned that it may be made public, but I had no qualms about being vulnerable… or so I thought.

Questions included, “What is your fondest childhood memory?” and “What Is the most daring thing you’ve ever done?” Even this question was included: “Describe, in detail, the most embarrassing moment of your life.” I finished the questionnaire and sent it back to Ale within minutes. I then completely forgot about all of this. That is, until Saturday night.

We hadn’t hung out in a while so we planned a get together. This time we decided to check out Jester’Z Improv, a 90 minute comedy show. Everything was going normally until the emcee walked into the crowd and asked if someone named “Samuel” was in attendance. I sheepishly crept my hand in the air and said that I “had been given” that name.

The scene was set. He proceeded to read aloud ALL of my answers to Ale’s “questionnaire” as I thought to myself, “This is gonna be bad…” Oddly enough, however, I could not stop smiling. I looked to my right and saw my friends Max, Mary, Brittany, Jose, and Ale laughing uncontrollably. It was a Kodak moment.

Once the emcee finished embarrassing me, he asked the four performers to make a skit based on the life events that I wrote about. Life events such as inventing a game called Floor Football and playing it with my brother. Events such as sneaking into high security buildings, and events such as being teased in middle school for my weight and lack of style. They acted, we laughed, and everyone had a good time.

The whole time sitting there I couldn’t stop doing two things. First, I couldn’t stop smiling. Second, I couldn’t stop thinking to myself, “I have the best friends a guy could ask for.” You see, my friends know me. They know me well—well enough to allow me to be vulnerable around them, and well enough to allow four hilarious actors to celebrate these highs and lows of life with me.

My point is that life isn’t meant to be lived alone. Whether you’re married with kids, or single with friends, live life to the fullest. Live, laugh, love, and allow yourself to be vulnerable. You’d be surprised how freeing it can be. Thanks guys, y’all are the best!

#LFG

When I Was a Child…

16th of January, 2014

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish things behind me… except for game nights.

Off and on for the last few months, I’ve been inviting some friends over to my house for game night. No, there are no video games, nor are there even card games. It’s better than that. The games we play on these epic game nights create a bond between friends that is not easily broken.

We eat, we talk, we catch up, we play… then we do it all over again. We have done it so often, that Friday night game nights have become a staple at my place of residence. We usually start the night with Signs, Big Booty, or Catch Phrase, which get people loose and allow them to interact. After these games are done, we get a little more serious. We get to know each other by introducing ourselves and, believe it or not, by sharing our addictions.

People usually hear something like this, “Hi, my name is Sam…” To which everyone replies, “Hi Sam!!” I then continue, “…and I’m addicted to game nights.” This Game Nights Anonymous session is actually pretty informative. I’ve heard about addictions ranging from M&M’s to socks, and everything in between. This is a fun little ice breaker that allows everyone to get to know each other before we play the game that surpasses all games.

That game, of course, is Mafia.

If you don’t know how to play Mafia now would be a good time to learn. This game is life changing. We usually finish up with a game like Contact or Charades and call it a night. These game nights are pretty incredible, and even though I’m 25 years old, I STILL enjoy getting together and playing games with friends.

I think what makes game nights so unique is the diverse types of people it attracts. People who were once thought to be quiet end up bursting out of their shell when defending themselves in Mafia. People once thought to be calm typically jump out of their chairs in Big Booty. These games bring out the fun, competitive side in everyone, and even though I am growing up, game nights are growing along with me.

Send me some of the games you’ve played at your game nights! I’d love to incorporate them into mine!

#LFG

Things Aren’t Always As They Seem

3rd of January, 2014