Learning to Surf

Some of my favorite memories have to deal with being close to the ocean. As a child I dreamed about the family road trips to Florida or North Carolina beaches with the family. Hitting the beach, running towards the ocean to cool our feet off from the hot sand. Digging huge holes and building moats for the sand castles. Staring up at the night sky and envisioning what it would be like to be up there with God looking down at his creation. Man the memories can just keep going and going. But the ocean is what brings up the next topic I would like to talk about.

It’s about learning how to do something. You see one of my favorite things about the ocean is how a person can surf the waves as if it was man’s way of walking on water like Jesus did. It’s sight is astounding and breathtaking. When I see a person out on the waves surfing a three foot wave or seeing them crush a 20ft wave on tv it still has the same effect for me. Its the feeling of, dang, the person out there is awesome and I bet it feels so good to be out there surfing like they are. You know, if I lived closer to the ocean I probably would be a weekend warrior surfer. But I’m not and that’s totally cool. I enjoy my mountain biking, road running and motorcycle loving self. But the application of learning how to surf is where I’m going today.

You see in movies they show you a glimpse of what it takes to become a surfer. At first they start off on dry land. The instructor gives the person a board, they lay it down and begin to practice paddling and jumping up on the board. They do this so they can imagine themselves out on the waves jumping up on the board and keeping it stable. After a few hours or so they send the surfer out to test their newly found skills.

Paddling out, the squid (rocket power reference) surfer is nervous about catching their first wave. Once they’re out in surfing territory they get to pick and choose what waves they want to ride. Depending on the person and their sense of adventure determines their wave they choose. So for stories time sake let’s say this surfer picks the biggest wave and goes for it.

So they start paddling with the wave and then they miss it. The surfer is now super nervous because they just missed what could’ve been their first epic wave. Aggravated and crushed the surfer turns around and starts paddling back out to catch the next one. On returning back out to the lineup the surfer doesn’t sweat it, they’ve got theirs eyes back out on the horizon.

Then it’s go time again and this time they make it! But they crash because standing up on the board is a lot harder than it looks. It takes many tries to create that experience. But then eventually they learn how to get their surfing legs.

So waiting in the lineup once more the surfer starts to catch their next wave. They start to paddle with the wave, waits for the right timing and then they pop up standing on the board surfing their first wave! But then they crash, again. This time the surfer has taken a pretty bad thrash against sandy floor. So they paddle back into shore.

Arriving to shore they realize their friends are starting to take a hold of this surfing thing pretty well. They’re catching waves left and right. But in the surfer’s mind, all they can really think about are the misses and crashes. Which at first seemed promising but turned out to be another try, try, and try again. Not really getting the hang of something that might come easier to others, can be one of the most frustrating but humbling things to a person.

But that’s when it hits the surfer. Sitting on the shore isn’t going to get them their wave. It’s learning what they could do better and getting back out there and trying a million more times if it takes that many to learn how to surf. If the human wants to surf, they’re gonna surf eventually. So with the encouragement of friends and the instructor they head back out into the lineup.

This time they wait. Taking in all of what they’ve learned. Then out of no where they see it or maybe the wave chose them. Then just in that moment as if time freezes, the surfer thinks about everything that has happened in the past. Fears rush in from missing past waves or even getting crushed once more by an unforeseen twist. The mind is racing now along with the heart. What should they do? Should they try again? Then as the wave nears they’re reminded once more of what they know…

One, they know how to catch a wave. Two, being afraid of crashing no longer has that much sting. And three, the resiliency of the human mind/body is incredible with the right support of friends encouraging the surfer to go for it.

So the surfer starts to paddle with the wave once more…

You see to become a surfer it takes a lot of effort trying again and again to get where they want to be. Maybe like it would be in any other area of life that requires skill. To become a musician, actor, director, businessman/woman, computer programmer, and/or even in a relationship. It takes time, a level of confidence, and the resiliency to get back up and try it again.

You can’t let the fear of missing or crashing on the waves stop you from pursuing what you would like to be a part of one day. If you want to surf the wave, you’ve got to do the same things over and over again until you’re surfing the wave!

For me, it’s the pursuing of a woman to love and to be loved back. That simple. I’ve had my fair share of crashes and no goes. But that’s ok and I’m totally cool with it because I’m learning so much from it. Especially, when it comes to friendships/relationships around me currently. It’s made me realize that I need to love more and not always towards finding the next woman. I believe God is trying to teach me it’s about loving Him and care for people like I would my future wife. Unfortunately, it took me a few years to get that one down and still trying to. Would I want to do it all over again, nope, but again I’m happy for the insight I’ve learned about the ability to love.

So, my encouragement to you out there is to keeping going for it and don’t let the waves of the past make you fear the next one. But let it remind you that you’ve got this! You’ve got the experience and the confidence to take it on, so go surf the crap out of that wave!

PS. And if you crash or miss it, listen to what God may be trying to tell you, and then go try it again. See you out there.

– Max

Oh and Happy Valentine’s Day!

Changing the World Around You

Use the talents God has given you to make the world a better place to live in

First, I’m sorry for it being so long since my last post. I’ve had a hard time being able to sit still these past few months (since Nov. ’13). Becoming the Director of Media and Communications at my home church, Calvary Christian Church has had it’s ups and downs. It’s been a year since I’ve started here, and the experience I’ve had so far has been nothing short of beyond this world. From stepping into a position where I had to not only hit the ground running creating things (graphics, videos, text content), but be able to troubleshoot current existing ways of doing things in the media area, and find ways of improving it. Haha, I’m still waiting to tell if it’s better but I’m learning.

Growing up I dreamed of becoming a fighter pilot and flying for the U.S. Air Force. Little did I know God had a different plan for me. A little into my sophomore year of high school, I had a good friend show me a video he had created in his video production class. Needless to say I was hooked, more so about the iBook apple computer and Final Cut Pro, but from then on I knew I wanted to be in media sharing stories of others and traveling. Well since then I’ve done some traveling you can say, especially as a photographer for the U.S. Air Force (2007-2013), interning for the London Olympics (2012), and freelancing for various companies taking me around the US and abroad to Israel (2013). So by the age of 25 I’ve been to places that some have only dreamed of going one day. To say God has #blessed me with a great traveling life is an understatement. However, currently I find myself in another great place. My home.

Winchester, Ky., may not be the greatest town in the US or this world, but it’s where God has me now and I love it very much here. It’s where I’m growing as a leader, learning how to manage my time and others to effectively accomplish goals at hand. Do I plan to stay here for the rest of my life, no, but if God wills it, yes. As always though, I am thankful for this time of learning. The range of lessons from this past year could classify me as a veteran in some aspects. I’ve experienced hopelessness, stress beyond belief, and uncertain outcomes that should’ve crushed me, but I’ve come out on top. As a young leader, I’ve witnessed events that made senior leaders shake. For the first time in my life, I couldn’t talk for 5min. I tried, but I was in such a state of shock, my mouth wouldn’t open.

However, on the other hand, God has helped me conquer projects that looked out of my reach of expertise. I helped orchestrate a live broadcast to over 2,000 people scattered throughout a high school, via a small studio, 20 tvs, and hundreds of feet of sdi cable. Not to mention tapping into the intercom system so that we could broadcast the audio throughout the building as well (all planned and done within 1.5months). I’ve taken in information by the fire house amounts, and dished it out accordingly, so others could grow in their training. I was able to build a church app, that is now being able to help communicate vital information to our local church family, and as well give them the opportunity to watch past message series, give financially electronically, and sign up for groups.

I mean, the many things God is doing here through me is one of the reasons why I continue to stay here

I am on a daily basis overwhelmed by the good… and the bad things happening here in this town. I am in love with people of this town/world, but the actions of some make my stomach turn topsy turvy.

If I were to be very honest, I am scared for this generation. Turn on the news, and watch what’s going on… everywhere. Diseases spreading (some incurable), the Middle East in unrest, Russia and Rebels trying to takeover Ukraine, the Islamic State forcing people to conform to their beliefs – while killing the infidels, but worst of all… when we turn on the tv and see all of this happening, we change the channel because we’re tired of hearing about it thinking we can do nothing to stop it.

Seriously, what is wrong with us?

What have we lost that has made us act so evil and not care about other human lives. Remove yourself from this screen and imagine being somewhere where this is happening. Imagine yourself facing death if you won’t conform to the Islamic State’s rules, or imagine yourself finding out you have a disease that no one can cure – what then?

This should raise some questions inside your mind – what hope do we have, and how can we help the world? Well instead of thinking about what is wrong with us, I’ll ask the question, what are we missing?

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted[a] by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’[b]

Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
    and they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’[c]

Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’[d]

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”

10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’[e]

11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.

Will we be tempted to sit by and simply let satan win the day? Or will we remember that there is life found in God’s Holy Word. “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” We should not assume that what we consume mentally and physically is not entirely what keeps us healthy. As the world has lost its grasp and sight of an Almighty God, it is unhealthy. The world wandering without direction has forgotten the healthiest thing we can do for our heart, mind, and soul is to feed it with the Word of God found in Biblical scripture. What is wrong with us is that we’ve tossed God to the side, creating an unhealthy world.

So, what shall we do about the international community that seems to never find rest from disease, war, and religion forced terror? We should pray for them for starters as if they we’re our own family. Being faithful for what we’ve been asked to do, sharing Christ’s love and saving grace with anyone that will listen, while waiting on God to come through with the outcome. Secondly, helping the world starts with your attitude towards your own community. Stop changing the channel because you’re tired of seeing the depressing news. Find your talents, get engaged, and serve in your local community to help make it a better place.

This world we live in, was entrusted to us, so let’s do our part in making it, and at least Winchester a healthier place to live in. Take in God’s Word, stop discarding it.

I pray that these thoughts that I have are not empty and worthless, but allow you the reader, to consider your current position. If you have the ability to get engaged and serve somewhere, please do, and use your freedom to do so. You never know when your life could actually effect someone else’s decision for eternal life.

John 3:

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.

Remodeling my room is hard… but awesome

So for the past few weeks I’ve been hanging out with my dad doing some remodeling to my bedroom. Yeah, I’m 24 and living at home. I’m paying rent, and paying back debt to school. If anything I think it’s a great way to reconnect with family who I haven’t seen in quite sometime.

Anyways, like I said I’ve been knocking down drywall, framing, and electric wiring just to move it, and put it back up (my dad has a lot of knowledge that I’m grateful for). We spent hours yesterday in Lowes yesterday looking at lights, wiring, and switches. For the past few years, all I’ve done is sit behind a computer, and work on creative projects.

Now I’m spending time with my family. Using my hands building things, and I love it.

I hope one day, I’ll be able to teach my son what his dad knows. I know I’m probably going to fail him, and my family one day, but I pray during that time they could learn grace. Like I am.

Back to building things with my hands. Did I say I love it. There’s nothing like using my hands, and imagining God creating this world that we live in. That’s probably the reason why I enjoy creating things so much. It’s almost as if we were created, to create. Well for men, that’s how it normally is. It’s along the same lines of being out in the woods, or getting lost in the woods! Oh dang, that’s an awesome feeling. It’s like you’re lost/scared, but you want to use the sun/stars to navigate your way down the mountain (tikaboo peak – another story maybe). It’s only natural.

I say all this because, recently if I’m honest with myself, I’ve gotten pretty frustrated with my parents comparing me to my 3 year old self.

“Aw, I remember when you were so little and cute.”

Well what am I now? Taller, and responsible. But while getting frustrated, I’ve missed the message of what they’re telling me.

They’re proud of me, and of who I’ve become.

To them, I’m their “creation” (take that lightly, God is creator of everything). They built me, from themselves. I am theirs. And it’s rude of me to neglect or to disrespect them by not allowing them to love me in the ways they are trying to.

Yes, I want to be independent, and am so in many ways. But…

They are my parents, and I will strive to respect them as best as I can, because one day… I will have children, and I hope they will understand what I do now as well.

Thank You – Whomever You Are

So I’m sitting at work, and I come across someones tweet. And it reads:

What Women Want, Listen Up Guys

So, I’m like why not.

I am now speechless.

Maybe because I’ve never had a girl tell me this before in that fashion. I mean I kind of assumed it/heard bits and pieces, but the way the author is so real in her sharing, it did a lot for me.

Men read the article, because I can’t do it justice.

Through Christ’s word to her, she gave me hope.

God is good, all the time.

So whomever you are, seriously, thank you!

Grace and peace,

Max

Let’s talk about something we all think about…

If I am to be completely honest, love is something I think about a lot.

I think about it when I’m eating my favorite chicken at Raising Canes, or when I go see my favorite movie in Lexington. But then again this westernized type of love is not what I’m thinking about right now. I’m thinking more.

I think most of us are too afraid to talk about this burning sensation of love. I mean it’s how we feel right. Don’t miss read my intentions in writing this world. I’m writing this to simply talk about the reality that this word brings with it. I’m curious with it, and fascinated through the ways we choose to express/interact with it.

Earlier I was watching a movie, and that sudden urge to have someone to love came over me. It was intoxicating to say the least… but why? I would say it’s because God made us that way. Some would beg to differ, but I love you all too. But let’s be real, it’s more of a sign of respect than love. I respect who you are, but not necessarily like the actions some make. I’m not perfect, I dislike a lot of decisions I unfortunately make, but who’s perfect?

But I’m not talking about a love that we all are called to act out towards others on a daily basis. And love is an action. Not just a feeling. It’s a combination of the two. I get that pop culture.

What I want to discuss is the love that we all long for. The love that lingers in the abyss of life. Yes, as a human race we long for a great love. A love my friend would call the great romance between God and us. But I think and believe God has also designed in us, a hole to love and to be loved by our own people. And of course if we’re lucky (as I am), our family will satisfy that lingering feeling for love… to a point. What I’m trying to say is that we all long for that love that stops us in our tracks; the kind of love that quite literally immobilizes you for not only a split second, but every time you’re around the other person. This love can’t be satisfied by your family because they freely offered it to you. I’m talking about actually finding someone to love.

Dang! Just even typing that makes me long for it even more. But patience is key. So is prayer. Don’t let me miss guide you. Christ is and should always be number one in all our lives, because He is and will always be our Lord and Savior. He deserves that honor, and glory.

The love I’m talking about is Eros. This love is the difference between wanting a relationship, and wanting one specific person. That my friends/readers is what we all desire. Romance. Am I right? I think we’d be all lying if we said, “Who’s he kidding”. It’s that desire to love someone else, and to be loved back by them. That bond that brings a man and woman together as one. That look into each others eyes and know… my heart is home. That’s the love I’m hinting at right?! I can’t wait for that glorious day! But wait…

There’s more. Some have made it to eros, and some enjoy it. It’s true. I just graduated college, and I know so many people who have found it. They have either married or are about to. And I congratulate them for finding something I’ve dreamed about for sometime. I’m not jealous… haha well maybe a little, nah I’m playing. But then again it only lasts for periods of time. I mean you can always experience it, but at times it seems dim. Why? Why does something so strong as a connection between man and woman become not so strong at times? Why isn’t enough… enough?

I think because Eros simply isn’t enough. It’s Agape that we truly desire.

Agape is a term that describes the most epicly ultimate awesomest sweetest greatest form of love a human could receive and try to give to one another! It’s the love where action is key. It’s the love that commitment, and discipline do not hold up to it. It’s the love that our God showed us through his son. It’s the overwhelming, relentless, unconditional, scandalous love that words can only put shame to. It’s that truly genuine love through actions, that we all long for right?!

Forgive me if have never loved in this fashion towards you.

But boy do I desire to love and be loved in this way.

This picture of love, this true picture, is humbling/riveting to say the least.

My heart is pounding now at the thought of expressing this love for my future wife.

I can see her saying now…

“Where are you Max?”

Where are you Max? Where am I? Let me help you out.

I’m in Kentucky serving God wherever he leads me. And I can only pray that you are in his will too serving Him wherever he leads you. Send me an rsvp, and maybe I’ll make it a road trip to find you! Ha. But for real…

I long for the day that when I get to heaven, to be with my creator, He can share His agape love with me. But until that day comes, I want to love with the knowledge of agape. I want to love so radically that people question why I do so. I not only want to, I need to. It’s why I was created. It’s why we were all created. For community with each other, and what better way to care for each other than to share agape.

God I pray that my two cents about love could bring you honor, and show your glory.

Switching Gears

These past four days I’ve been in a cabin. Yes a cabin. After graduation I figured the smartest thing for me to do was to take my knowledge I recently learned and hide it from the world… haha not quite.

Sweet Right?!

Sweet Right?!

I decided I would do what was best, and go straight to God and pray for direction along with offering up thanksgiving for the past few years at Asbury University. What an amazing school, and what a community it offered. If you can look past the normal things everyone complains about, rules and regulations, you can form relationships that are truly the riches of this life. I mean Asbury isn’t the only place I form those, but living in close quarters creates a different atmosphere for engaging conversations and fun times to last early into the mornings. So thank you so much for the past three years Asbury, and I hope to see you’re drupelets in the future.

Back to why I’m sitting here in this cabin, typing this on my iPhone. I’m here because I wanted to switch gears, and prepare myself for the future. I wanted to detach myself from the world and connect with heaven for a little bit so I could see, or hope to see the direction God was sending me in.
On day one, I arrived late in the afternoon with one of my friends Austin, who came out and showed me around. We talked about life, school, and of course women. Can’t have a official heart to heart conversation with another dude without women being in the line up somewhere.
On the second day, he took me up the trail onto the mountain to a peak called,”Raven Rock” which is awesome, see image below. The property is on the edge of the Red River Gorge, yet still outside the boundary of the Daniel Boone National Forest. Pretty sweet right? I know. Anyways, so we’re up there a mile from the cabin, and the view is spectacular. We talk for a bit more, and we head on down the mountain. On arriving he jets out, and then I begin my shifting gears.
Myself checking out the view on my first day up on Raven Rock.

Myself checking out the view on my first day up on Raven Rock.

Raven Rock looking into the Red River Gorge - Shiloh, Ky

Raven Rock looking into the Red River Gorge – Shiloh, Ky

First thing I did was hit the music. I picked up my iPhone, scrolled to, “Rend Collective Experiment” and I hit repeat all. I started to Praise.
(If you have not listened to this album, please do so now on either Spotify, iTunes, or listen to the link on YouTube)

At first I’m like alright I’m digging this. I started praying for God to show up, next thing you know, I’m jumping! I was doing circles in the living room loving every second of worship. (Imagine all 6 foot 1in of me twirling, shouting maybe the right lyrics, and jumping) A hiker passing by might have recounted a certified lunatic making loud racket in a cabin. But I didn’t care, I was making walls crumble.

You see, this trip wasn’t simply to mark an end to an era of scholastic learning but it was a rejuvenation of a man bogged down with the stresses of life. This year was huge in the learning life lessons department. I was going up against Goliath himself to say the least. If it wasn’t for my faith in Christ this past year, I may have been defeated.

But Jesus looked at them and said,

“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Matthew 19:26

I had the verse written on my dry erase board since the very first day of classes at UK in 2008. It did nicely as a reminder.
Check the white board - upper right corner

Check the white board – upper right corner

Anyways, so there I was kicking, jumping, and yelling. That lasted all about 30min, and then I just sat and gave thanks for everything that has happened to me, and for me in these past six years. From starting school at the University of Kentucky to attending school at Asbury, to multiple road trips, an internship to London for the Olympics, and graduation itself. Oh and not to mention this entire time being in the Air Force/Kentucky Air National Guard as well. That too I concluded two weeks ago. This time certainly is a time of endings and new beginnings to say the least. So maybe for the 10 readers of this article, you can now understand a little bit of my reasoning for coming to the cabin. I need to switch gears, and shifting, I have been doing.
The second day ended with me sitting in my hammock, on the front porch reading the book of Philippians as it rained.
And then it hit me. For a while now I’ve been praying for direction. I’ve been praying for guidance. I’ve been praying for a career to fall in my lap pretty much… Then I plowed through Paul’s letter to the Church Philippi. There’s is so much to obtain from this book, but this hit close to me.
“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Philippians 2:1-11
Get pumped for that right?! If you had trouble finding your places on the totem pole, you found it now. But wait it continues, and this is where God gives me direction, or rather an assurance to keep faith in him to show me the way through life.
“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”
Philippians 2:12-13
Daaaannnngggggg… First Paul says hold up, humble yourself like Christ did because he saw equality with God something not to be grasped, or obtainable! Then he says God will then work through us for his will, and for us to act.
I’m on board now, you following? I mean I’ve always known this, but it’s always that ahHAAAA moment when you realize that scripture pertains your life, and always will.
I’m sitting here in this cabin waiting for a direction, and I’m getting feedback like, stop worrying about your future because 1) I’m going to work you wherever and whenever as long as you humble yourself and 2) if you do so, I’ve got you covered.
I’m worried about moving out of my parents basement, paying back school loans, and finding a woman and God is saying hold up, humble yourself and serve others. Dang.
Check, roger, good for launch Houston! Man such a solid reminder.
So anyways, that’s what I first learned while out here.
On the third day, I learned that walking up the mountain to Raven Rock, should only be done so after checking the forecast. Around lunch time I walk up to the top, and it’s a no joke “unofficial” trail that is muddy from the last few days of rain. So I get to the top, and I’m like, what up mountain that’s twice in two days sucka… Then I turn around, and see the biggest storm clouds ever. Well ok, maybe my shortness of breath and irritation to the possibility that I would soon have to walk back down, only just getting to the top, made me believe it was a monstrous storm (I know that is a run on sentence. Don’t know how to word it differently). So then I barreled down the mountain as it thundered and poured.
If you spend any amount of time with me on my adventures, the first thing you’ll notice is that they are never perfect days. I need Bill Meck or someone on speed dial.
So I get back down, and what does it do after 15min. Stops raining. Fail. Whatever, so I decided to help out Austin Norton and his family clear some trees, and clean up the yard around the cabin. It rained off and on still the rest of the day, but it was good weather for planting trees anyways. I concluded the night by watching Cheaper by the Dozen, and eating a baked potato. Did you know you could cook those in a microwave? Sweet right. Baked potato for days!
So then I woke up this morning, determined to climb the mountain once more to sit for at least an hour or two. So that’s what I did. I recently got a sweet gift from a friend that tracks my location, and saves my runs. So on the way up today I tracked walk and found out it approx. 1.12mi and takes about 30min to walk up. If you know anything about hiking, you might notice that’s a really long mile. Just imagine the incline one would have to climb to complete a mile in that time… Yeah… Today made my third time doing it!
Hike to the top

Hike to the top

So I get to the top, and I’m like ok God. Today, is my last day here, and I’m going to need to hear from you. At this moment I’m standing on the side of the cliff. I hear him say, first back up so when you close your eyes for this you won’t fall off. Noted. So I take a couple leaps back, and I sit and close my eyes. I begin to pray.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been in conversation with many individuals that are older, and some that are my peers. Every conversation was a blessing, and a confirmation that I had my head screwed on straight, and how I was handling things was the smartest thing to do. And so what I heard, made no surprise.
I heard, “Max, my son, you need to be happy. In whatever you choose, be happy. I’m going to use you no matter what you choose, but just choose something. Either it be in Oregon, in another country, or Winchester… I’m going to use you. Continue to walk with me, and I’ll always walk with you.” I opened my eyes as the wind was rushing through the pines. The smell of the needles and sap were overwhelming. I smiled, and took in a fresh breath of air.
I still don’t know what I’m going to do the rest of my life, and frankly I don’t think no one ever knows what they’ll do, and unfortunately it paralyzes so many people. Our purpose in this life can be as certain or uncertain as we choose to make it. For as I am about to leave this cabin, I pray that I am certain of one thing.
I am certain that I will, like Paul understood, live a life realizing that equality with God will never be grasped, and so I should continue to serve others as I have always done before. This time outside of a education environment, and inside the working environment. That I may work without complaint, no matter the career choice, so that Christ can be glorified in everything I do. This is my declaration, and this is my prayer.
God may you twist and turn this world as I walk in your will, and place me where you need me to be.

My Story

#Summer2012

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29.11-13

Intro

So where should I begin…

How about I start at the end and travel back in time to the beginning?

Very well, let’s do that.

Hello, my name is Max Rechel, and I am sitting here in my apartment at Asbury University thinking of a way to share, “My Story”. A few background things before I tell my story (First off, I’m horrible at writing and suck at telling stories but I hope that you will look past the awful grammar and find this post exciting and life changing).

I love adventure. I love to share life with others. I love my friend Yahweh. The mission statement for my life may read, “Seeking out the curiosity in my present world, while pursuing God’s will for my life, and waiting for the unexpected to show itself.”

I am in one word, _______________.

Well I don’t know…

Friends around me would say, “Max is being Max”. I can be totally irrelevant at times, random/uncontrollable, yet serious and wise (I don’t have a big head, I’m just saying what I observe and hear). I do listen, but I’m always thinking. There’s no off switch to this brain, or AC adapter to unplug. Just me in my thoughts, surrounded by millions of other people just like me striving to make since of it all. So, I do what I feel like I want to do.

I see things I want to do… and I do them. Of course there are boundaries that effect ones eternal soul, and I strive to stay away from those fences of temptation. However, to the boundaries and borders of this Earth, I freely explore. This summer I traveled over 14,000 miles around the world, from Winchester, KY to the mountainous regions of Yosemite, CA and even across the pond to London, England and everywhere in between. This is where I find my story.

In past years, I have worked for the sole purpose to save up money to travel around the United States with my good friends Andrew Newlun and Joseph Miller. It’s what we do. We see adventure, and we see life to be lived while encountering others on the way. It’s not the meaning to life it gives us, but it’s the result of the meaning of life that drives us to seek out adventure. Life is about people… life is about loving people… life is about loving God and loving people… Yes, Loving God therefore leads us to Love People. (Some may simply say, Love People and leave out the God part… I will respectfully but firmly disagree). Conclude ably, I believe that life is about the relationships we build while sharing the Truth to those around us.

So this is my story laid out from a-z, through my journey this summer, and where I found the God of my life, Yahweh, in the most unexpected places and times.

1. Louisville, KY – The Hand Meets Metal (Graphic)

So imagine a huge roll of photo paper roughly 100in long and 44in wide, an exacto blade and… my wrist… Yes, my wrist. Trust me it sucked. So I was cutting individuals photos out of the roll and I was moving too fast and oppsss… I stabbed my wrist.

Horrible I know, but however it didn’t hurt. It honestly felt like some punched me in the wrist bone. Of course now though I had blood running from my wrist. Afraid I cut a vein, I ran to my boss and calmly said, “Can we please go to the emergency room. I, ummm, stabbed myself on accident, and now I feel kind of faint.” So there we were running towards the hospital in his car. Ah man, was I feeling light headed. This whole time I was like why? My summer just started and now I’m going to have to have surgery… this sucks! However once we arrived the noticed that the blade barely missed the veins and hit the bone slicing into my muscle nerves.

The nerve was the ulnar nerve, or commonly known as the funny bone nerve. That’s right, I ended up cutting 80% of my nerve and could no longer move my pinky and ring finger. The follow up surgeon appointments would show that somehow the blade penetrated the nerve cutting barely into the sensory nerve and hitting the part that controls my hand muscles.

theCut

Exacto to the wrist really doesn’t feel pleasant.

Man that was close I remember telling myself. What would happen if I did cut the veins? Would I still have reacted the same way, or would I still even be here today?

That sounds a little extreme, but I don’t doubt that could’ve been very well a possibility and I’m so thankful I had God looking after me. Still He was calling and catching my attention for some reason. After working, I saved up enough money to take a road trip and that is where I find God’s hand next.

2. Crater Lake, OR – What a Beautiful Day

What a beautiful trip it was. We saw many cities from Winchester, Ky., to St. Louis, Mo., some small town in Arkansas where my best friends sister lives, El Paso, Tx., Phoenix, Az., Yosemite National Park, Ca., San Francisco, Ca., and Cresent City, Ca. There were so many places we stopped in between it’s hard to count.

I must say first though that this story is by far my favorite of the summer.

Have you ever been to San Francisco? It is remarkably one of the coolest cities with its town homes, monuments, and of course its bridges. Man that Golden Gate Bridge was something else. Here is a picture.

Golden Gate

Golden Gate Bridge – San Francisco, Ca

I forgot

I forgot what this was, but the architecture of it was was pretty awesome

Fifth City

San Francisco was our 5th city to see on the trip

I may be going out of order, but I’m just flowing as I remember it all.

Yosemite National Park. Takes about an hour getting to the valley pretty much, and another hour getting out. We had high hopes of traveling all over that place, but man was there a lot to see. I’m talking GIGANTIC scenery that went for miles and again only looked like someone painted it all. It’s so hard to believe that one Man did all this. I know he spoke it into existence, but for real, this place was amazing and nothing short of God given beauty.

We went hiking up to the falls and found a pretty sweet view of the entire park and were satisfied with what we had accomplished so we hiked back down and continued on with our trip.

Yosemite Falls - California

Yosemite Falls – California

Yosemite Park

Yosemite National Park – California

Before we hit up Yosemite we stopped at place in Phoenix where one of my friends from Asbury lived. She put us up in her place for a night and it was nice to just chill from the road and swim in the pool. Phoenix was nice, but most definitely one large oasis in the middle of a desert.

Lazy River

We went to a lazy river in Phoenix, but could not find the raft rental so we splashed anyways.

Phoenix Cactus

Phoenix Cactus

Before Phoenix we were in El Paso, Tx., to see our good friend Monte. He’s stationed at a post there and we thought it would be nice to say hey. Boy was it hot. So hot my iPhone became overheated simply because the air temperature was ranged around 100 degrees… and we were stuck in traffic most of the time getting there from New Mexico. Oh, don’t even let me talk about New Mexico… dislike that place for sure, but I mean if your from there, I’ll respect where you come from, but all my experiences there, minus one, have been awful. I’m talking car stuck in mud for hours, thought we lost a friend in the woods, stinking hot, stinking cold, and just plain boring desert lands. Not a town for at least a hundred miles sometimes. Anyways to say the least, New Mexico… ehhh, but El Paso was still pretty fun. Shout out to Monte. El Paso was rough, but somebody has to live there.

El Paso, Tx

Far from home

Whataburger

First time eating at a Whataburger #awesome

Mill

Stopped in a Ghost Town, in Nm., just before entering Tx.

Before El Paso was some town in Arkansas. Second time being in Arkansas, but first time liking it. So I guess I can say New Mexico may still have hope… Maybe. Anyways, we show up late at night, needing some rest after driving like 12hrs including a stop in St. Louis to see the arch of course. We roll up to the door, and Megan, his sister, half asleep, greets us and we crash hard… I’m out in like 45secs.

So the next day we go out with her friends and we go to some sweet BBQ place and go to minor league baseball game that team’s name just so happened to be called the Cardinals. Affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals, where we were just at the night before.

Play Ball

Arvest Ballpark in Arkansas

Vignette?

I think this lady was going for a vignette style, but it was pretty funny.

Sweet days for sure, but I think I have over stated the funtivities of the trip! So let’s talk about the title of this section. What a beautiful day.

So after a long night, of travel and sleeping at a rest stop we find ourselves leaving the California coast and heading into Oregon. What a beautiful coast. Check the picture. I’m talking humungous cliffs with crashing waves, boulders and rock formation sticking out of the water. Sweet, place to vacation. I love pine trees right, and they are everywhere. I feel as if it’s fall. What a great morning it was turning out to be.

Oregon Coast

Beautiful

So anyways, we traveling up the coast hitting small bay towns left and right. This is where we find this sweet song on the radio called, “Weakness” by Kris Allen. I mean Joseph’s girl was back home on the east coast and here we were cruising up the west. This song was perfect for him, and for me, I was like I just like the sick beat. The words were cool too of course, but they weren’t really relevant to my particular life then.

So were still cruising right, heading inland now towards Crater Lake. Weaving through trees, checking out the solid blue lakes, and awesome sky. I remember passing through some small town called, Chemult, Or., and I was like why in the world is this rinky-dink town here for, its so small it’s almost pointless. I’ll soon be thinking differently…

(Best to read the next few lines in slow motion to catch the full effect of what’s about to happen)

So were driving down this small two-lane road towards Crater Lake. Seven miles away now, and I can only imagine the beauty of this old historic volcanic lake and how sweet it’s going to be once we get there. But in front of us is this slow moving RV. I’m like, come on RV get out of the way. After a minute or two of being stuck behind it we go to over take it and pass it.

While pulling out to pass the thing, we’re hit from behind from a driver trying to pass four cars… with his boat…

We’re now in this tail spin to the left, then the right, back to the left, then to the right, and then finally to the left where we make contact with the gravel side of a ditch ravine into some trees crashing and possibly flipping into 30yds of shattered forest.

It went a little something like this… from my viewpoint after hitting the gravel I instantly tensed pressed against the middle console and door. Still unsure of what was happening I thought for a second, “Am I about to die.” Haha, then for some reason I didn’t hear a voice, but I knew I wasn’t going to die… then I hear trees cracking, no exploding, and then I open my eyes. Oh ps, I have a pair of Oakley Holbrooks on, and man was I happy at that moment. When I opened my eyes I saw brown dirt, dust, glass, and rocks flying everywhere. This is when I realized… I’m floating, what’s going on?! So I instantly curled up into my self, and covered my face and head. On raising my heads towards my face I feel the seatbelt snag, and that’s when the second thought came into my head. “Ahhh, sweet, I have my seat belt on.” Couldn’t have been happier in that one moment then any other. It reminded me of the drop zone at Kings Island. When you’re in the seat, and then your being held in by the restraints acting against gravity. Yeah, just like that. Then all of a sudden I slam back into my seat, and we’ve stopped.

The car is now parked up on a tree chilling facing the opposite direction we were going.

My initial thought after and spoken words were, “Joseph, you alright.” I heard a yeah man, and then I bounced from the car. Have you seen movies where the car randomly explodes after impact, that was the picture I had in my mind, but sure enough I wasn’t sitting around to find out if that was true.

But after I bounced out I realized the engine was still running, so I hopped back in and threw it into park and turn the ignition off.

Secondly, I went to the battery, and yanked it out just as the car started to smoke.

Thank goodness for all those car commercials describing wrecks, because I wouldn’t have had a clue on what to do. My heart was racing… so I stopped and that’s when I noticed people standing around the car just staring at me. So what did I do?

Represented Christ is what I did. Man I can’t even describe the feeling I felt when I said what I’m about to tell you. All I know is that I lost all mobility of my mouth, and I just let them hear some good news for a minute. I said, “Thank you all for coming over, and I have no clue why any of you are here, but I want you to know something. You see my friend and I are Christians, and we’ve been praying everyday before we drive off that God would protect us. I’m not saying this because I’m a Christian. I’m saying it because it’s true, and look at us… Not even a scratch. God answers prayers.” After I finished the crowd must have thought I was high, or something else, because they were just staring me down. But hey, I let them know. God saved our lives that day.

Front

Cracked…

Right

Parked up on the tree somehow

Roadside

You can see the angle we came down towards the trees

Left

Overview picture with some scenery

Crazy

Crazy

Asbury

The only piece of glass still connected together

Blessed for sure

Thankful for being alive… #again

But the story is not over yet. We’re still Oregon.

So the tow truck comes to pick us up. I’m thinking in my head, where are we going from here? Are we flying home… where’s the money going to come from? Oh my gosh this is about to get crazy. So were driving back towards the way we came, and that’s when I asked, hey sir, where are we going? He replied, “Chemult”.

That’s the town I was given grief about earlier… and in my head I was like, ha, what are the odds. So I asked him, well where is the nearest airport? Expecting a, oh about five miles down the road… nope, try two hours. By this time Joseph and I are just dumbfounded for the situation that were now in. I at first was like, well I guess we can walk and leave all our stuff here. But God had a different plan for us.

So we show up in Chemult, and I mean this place was small. We get out of the truck and right next to the tow truck place was a blue building that looked like a church, and then I was like, “Dude, Mill. A church. They can help us!?” Man, was I excited. I’ve never had to ask for help from a church before. Always been in one, but never needed real help until now.

So after a long ordeal we square away payment for the tow and say goodbye to my car. Picture this (I would have a photo from this, but my phone broke during the wreck) a sunset in a junkyard, that is in a valley surrounded by mountains, and right in front of the gleaming sunrays sits my 2002 black Chevy cavalier, all mangled up. The car is wrecked from inside out. Just sitting there all by itself… so what do I do, I wave goodbye to it and I have a moment with my car. “See ya car,” I remember saying to myself. I hated but loved that car.

Anyways, back to the church we go, and just outside we find the pastor. We’re like hello sir, still holding all our stuff, do you think we could stay here tonight. We filled him in on what just happened to us and who we were and he said yes and showed us out back to his old RV that looked like it had been sitting there for years. I mean were getting the hook up right?! That’s not all. We mention that we have to fly out and he offers to gives us a ride to the airport the next day after the service. So I’m like swwwweeettt, man this is awesome. This guy is God given. Then were like awww man, what about our stuff. You see we traveled with clothing baskets as bags, because we had no need for external traveling. We simply lived out of the car. So then the guy says, well were having a yard sale this next week and we have tons of old suite cases were willing to donate for you guys to fly back… OH MY GOSH?!?! Really? Are we in a movie, maybe, I haven’t really decided that yet for my life.

I mean, we needed a place to stay we got one. We needed a ride and we got one. We needed suite cases and we got them too. Now we only needed to check for plane ticket prices. We get online to see that the plane tickets are just under $600 a piece and there was a flight leaving the next day. We have just enough money each to return home… You see we budgeted $1,000 for the trip each, and by the time we made it there we had spent $400 each. Crazy right?! I know, God working yet again.

So we talk with the guy all night after settling in and find out that he was called to Oregon to minister to local truck drivers through his small church and his mobile trailer church he constructed himself. This guy had so much commitment and love for God it really blew my mind. He is in the middle of nowhere, oh and before we got there we were the first visitors in six weeks, preaching to his wife basicly. I honestly didn’t know how to take it all in when I was sitting there in his living room listening to him talk. I was like, really God, you put him here for this? What were you doing with his life, what were you doing in my life?

Well we concluded the night, and the next day after church he took us up to Redmond, Or., where we got on our plane and flew home. But before we left he prayed for us. He prayed that whatever God had for us in life that we would glorify Him in everything we did. We told him thanks, and they drove off just like that.

It’s funny to believe that God always puts people in our lives to be there for us and to share wisdom, knowledge, and to take care of us. This story is a perfect example of how God uses others and you never know what will happen when you’re in God’s hands.

3. The Summer Has Only Begun

-As soon as we return home I call up my friend, Jason Epperson. I said, hey man I need a job. Do you have one? He said yes sir, and then I was off editing with him, and his two friends, Tim and Steve Bates, who are brothers working on a documentary about UK fans, and how they have a “Krazy Love Story” for the game of basketball. Getting some professional experience finally! Sweet awesome! Next…

-I welcomed home my friend who I’ve been waiting forever to see. You see I’ve asked her out twice before, and she’s respectfully declined because she was being pursued by other guys, but this time, I just survived a wreck so I had my confidence tuned to super swag, and I wasn’t backing down. Funny really because the first night we saw each other again, we connected and I noticed a difference in her attitude towards me. So I was like sweet, I like this. Solid conversation continued, and everything that happened after really caught me off guard. I mean I have high hopes, and it wasn’t the fact that I thought she was too good for me; it was just that I’ve been waiting for this opportunity for so long that it was hard to comprehend what she was saying, and how it corresponded with what I was saying. I remember describing it as something only the Holy Spirit could be working up. So I did the only thing I knew what to do, and that was to start praying for whatever God was doing with us two, and what His will was for us was. So weeks continued, and feelings grew. So much so, that I realized that if I even wanted to pursue this Godly woman, I would need to pursue God with an even greater passion that I would her. Anyways it’s been a couple months now and the relationship is still pending, because she has left the country again, but when and if the time is right… we’ll have to see what God has in store for us both.

I think this is a really good spot to talk about relationships with others around us, and how God wants us to live our lives searching for them to share the truth. You see that’s what God truly wants with us, a relationship. If you look at Christ, and his ministry, yes he came to be the savior of this world, but how did he do it? He did it by building relationships with the people around him in his world caring for them. God sent his son to save us from hell, yes, but I do not believe that’s how he wants our minds to be focused. I believe he wants our minds to be focused on the hell around us, and the people suffering in it. He wants us to be fishers of men, who seek out others in need, and share life with them, showing them love, while telling them about the great gift of salvation that we have as Christians. Respect them for who they are, where they come from, and help them. Then lead and instruct them to the truth and salvation. (I’m speaking to myself on this one too. No one’s perfect.)

Having this girl in my life has made me really take a hard look at my relationship with God and others around me. If my relationship is more detailed with her than with God, something is seriously wrong. So consciously I decided that to be a better man not only for her, but for every relationship around me I would need to pursue God with all of my being. I remember in prayer one day, saying that I better not be doing this only to receive a blessing from God, and after I said that I felt a reassuring peace that I was most definitely doing the right thing. Since that moment I’ve felt the Holy Spirit melting the inside of me to reform my old ways and thoughts, creating new ways of thinking.

I tell you what, there is no feeling in the world greater than praying consistently twice a day and seeking God passionately in his word.

I try my best to remember everything I read, and learn… but it’s not all about what I obtain, but it’s about how I’m forming a relationship with God seeking after Him. In relationships we’re never perfect, we can’t remember everything about the other persons likes and dislikes, but we do remember what matters. For me, with God, it’s my continual daily perseverance to seek Him and His will in my life. As well the understanding of how I should build relationships around me by pouring out God’s love, that He’s poured into me.

All right, I’ll talk a little more later about relationships and how God can use them to further his kingdom. But let’s move on to the bigger part of my summer.

4. 2012 Summer Olympics

So to keep this short, yes, I went to London, England this summer, and met some amazing people! Some were from Australia, Africa, Greece, Slovakia, Japan, and Great Britain. Super blessed to have worked with so many professionals, and friends.

My job wasn’t a glamorous one, but it was still fun nonetheless. It did get boring some days though. I was a runner, aka a do this, and go do that person, and I loved it. I got to interact with so many people, and had the opportunity to make them happy. One day I would create meal tickets for the camera crews and the next I was inside the venue occupying empty seats, or running errands into the city fetching last minute items for production. But it was really all about doing my work, and doing it well so that whomever was asking something of me they could tell I was working hard to please them.

I used to work at a movie theater, and I remember the answer to a question a friend asked about why I loved working there. It was simply because when I pushed that start button on the projector to play the movie, I knew that the people down below were going to be happy with entertainment. I may have not have created the film, but I did have a helping hand in making them smile. It was something simple that even brought a smile to my face. If they were happy, I was happy. I still continue that today.

Anyways, that’s what I planned to do for the people I worked with in London. Of course there were days that I wasn’t feeling good, but most days I was sharing some light.

And one day, they asked a question.

It was a simple question of, “Max, do you pray”, but it turned into a five to ten minute discussion on faith, and what I believed in. I told Jason, Slavi, and one other Gareth, that it wasn’t about being religious, but it was about following Christ, and understanding who he was in relation to God. Of course they, respected what I had to say, as I did when they responded, but I was happy that I could even sow a seed into each of their lives. They may have not accepted Christ there, but they were noticing my actions for sure. They told me they were, and that that’s why they liked hanging out with me. Even through the culture barriers God can speak truth through actions, love it!

I prayed for those guys nightly, just only waiting, and hoping for another chance to speak to them, but it didn’t happen. So I hope wherever you guys are at, loving life, that somehow God is speaking truth to you.

For me that is pretty much it for London, I’ll post some pictures below, but everyday was the same just different date.

Taking Off

Flying to London

Destination

Almost there

First Day

Ready for the first day of work

Aquatics Venue

Aquatics Venue – Olympic Park

Orbit Tower

Orbit Tower – Olympic Park

London Eye

London Eye – London, England

Aquatics Venue

Aquatics Venue – Olympic Park

Olympic Stadium

Olympic Stadium – Olympic Park

Aquatics Venue

Sunset over the Aquatics Venue – Olympic Park

Orbit Tower

Sunset behind the Orbit Tower as an American flag flies below

Bored

Got bored easily

Cupcake

Chowing down on one the biggest cup cakes ever #diabeticshock

Video Feed

This is the truck that received all of the camera feeds to produce the live coverage to the world for the Aquatics Venue

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace

River Thames

River Thames

Diving Platform

Taking a photo just as we were being told to get down 🙂

Aquatics Venue - Olympic Park

Aquatics Venue – Olympic Park

Cruising

Cruising on the left side of the road on the right side of the car

Crew

The entire crew photo of the runners for the Aquatics Venue

Flying Home

Sunset while flying home from London… before getting stuck in Boston for 8hrs

Flower

Couldn’t find real flowers anywhere so I found a way to create one for the girl back home

5. The End

Well that’s it pretty much it in a nutshell. So much more happened, but they were small events, and I don’t think you would understand. Sometimes I don’t even understand. To sum it all up though, this summer of 2012 was by far the summer of my life. I may say that again in the future, but this one will be hard to beat for years to come.

So there you have it. From a-z, somewhat… maybe because I just realized it’s taken me three weeks to type this, and if I don’t finish here and post it… I probably won’t ever! Ha.

Well I hope that through My Story of this summer some how you can see how God was working in my life, and how on numerous accounts He was there to help me. He may not always seem like He’s there, but He is.

Praise be to God for what He has done, and what He will continue to do.

Thanks for an unforgettable summer God.