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.

“5hr Plane Ride”

So this summer I went out to Missouri with the Air Force to do some training. On the way back we flew all over the south east dropping people off like a huge flying school bus, and I remember how fun of a ride it was. It’s random I know, but this is how I remember things.

Flying back from Missouri in the summer of 2011.

School Project = Success

It’s about time a school project feels good when you accomplish it!

So this past week I had the pleasure of editing and putting the last touches on to a music video, directed by one of my friends, Daniel Bowman, called, “Keep Your Head”, by Ingenious Dreams. There was so much work put into this project from all types of Asbury Students and your work has paid off. I hope you guys love how it turned out because I certainly do!

Praise goes out to God, for giving me strength, and talent to be able to do what I do. Thanks Yahweh!

Land of the Christ Following Music

Ichthus 2011, by far was one of my  best weekends of this year! From Hillsong United to Lecrae, Trip Lee, Tedashii, Transform DJs, listening to Family Force 5 ridiculously close enough to touch them, and Twenty One Pilots I’m going to say that I just got my face rocked off with so much awesome talent, that the artists and I would say came only from God. I’m marking my calendar already for next year and counting down!

Amazing night of worship with the "Aftermath" from Hillsong.

Thursday night by far was my favorite night of them all! Christian rap artists from all over America where on stage in the Deep End going insanely nuts in a unique way of worship! I caught myself during the three hours of rapping, closing my eyes and worshipping God as the energy at the stage was pulsing through my lungs and body! I mean this place was a earthquake pleasing to God!

The 116 Clique is comprised of Christian Rappers by the names of Lecrae, Trip Lee, Tedashii, Flame, and Pro. The 116 comes from Romans 1:16, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek."

During the day though before I got to enjoy the controlled chaos exploding from the town of Wilmore, Ky., I was working for Asbury University in the Admissions tent. We conducted contests, gave away scholarships, free bags, and t-shirts! My job specifically was to record high school students that had ideas to give money to a specific charity to help impact their community! The winner received  $1,000 dollars to donate to their charity of their choice. The girl that won is giving the money to a camp in Ohio called Kamp Dovetail that helps out with handicap children and children alike. Honestly I wish we could have given more gifts because all of the high schoolers that applied for the, “Make an Impact”, gift were all very good, and it was sad to have to turn down so many great ideas!

Two Asbury students have fun while waiting for applicants to arrive.

Besides working and eating tons of Chick-fil-A, I was able to do something that I’ve never done before but always wanted to do! I had the privilege to go out on stage numerous times through out the weekend and take pictures, but on friday night the main night I was able to go without the camera and throw t-shirts and bags into the crowd! Oh my gosh, were there a million people out there! I think I did a good job of hiding my nervousness behind my uncontrollable energy jumping around. Nevertheless it was a experience of a life time and I was definitely gifted by God to be able to do such a thing!

My friend, James Banter, throws t-shirts out into the freebie hungry crowd. Before we went out our boss said don't worry about the crowd because no matter what you do you'll make as many friends, as you have t-shirts, and everyone else will hate your guts! Just thought that was funny.

But the best part of this past weekend though was I was able to spend time with a lot of good people that I’ve come to know over the past year and it has been a blessing. This past year a friend said this to me and I adopted it as my own and love it. The person said, “Meeting a new person you’ve never met before is like receiving a gift from God. Everyone is different, they have their own talents, and getting to know that person and unwrapping who they are is just a pure blessing.” To the people I’ve met in this life either for a day or for 10yrs or more, Thank you, along with God’s help, for making me who I am today. God places people in our lives to encourage us, not to tear us down. The friends walking by the will of God speak truth to you daily, and that is a gift in itself.

This is Peter, he represents 1 Peter 2:11. "Friends this world is not your home, so do not make yourself cozy in it! Do not indulge your ego at the expense of your soul."

Uniquely created to reach out to others.

Ichthus 2011

So these past days have been crazy off the hook retarded! If that doesn’t make since then that will kind of give you a taste of the mass awesomeness of chaos that is going down in Wilmore, KY!

Oh how that was ridiculously crazy!

Tonight was Family Force 5 and it was ridiculous! I was on the fence in the very front and that is where the party was! My friend Gloria pulling crowd control in front of me, Emmaleigh right beside her, and the lead guitarist for Family Force 5 jamming with his guitar literally inches from my face! I freaked, so what did I do?!, I jammed yelling the lyrics as loud as I could! It was beyond Epic, if that’s even possible?

But towards the end of the craziness FF5 left and came back for an encore and they came strapped to these balloons, and it was a treat of all treats that you could have seen! The lead singer came out in a blow up mouse ball and he, “crowd rolled?”, I might say! All I remember is that it was intense! Ha.

The dude came out in a huge ball! Sick!

But after the FF5 portion was over I jetted out to get their autograph on my, “Dance or Die” vinyl that is legit! But wait theres more, on the way out (I hopped the fence, because I have a main stage pass) and I walk around to backstage and Asbury’s Admission Team was going up on stage… So what did I do? I jumped on board and went NUTS!!! on stage throwing t-shirts and going crazy!!! By far a very amazing night!

He even went crowd surfing in that stinking ball! Awesome!

This is just a small blurb of the entire weekend but I thought I would just write this to capture some of the uber excitement coursing through my vains at this moment!

PS. Here is some new stuff from Family Force 5 that is a sure ear candy!

A World Turned Upside Down

On April 27th, 2011 an EF4-EF5 tornado ripped through the South East region of the United States through major cities of Tuscaloosa and Birmingham, Alabama turning their world upside down.

In 20 secs on April 27th, 2011 this town of Pleasant Grove, AL was ripped to pieces.

Communities such as Smithville, MS; Tuscaloosa, Hackleburg, and Pleasant Grove, AL sustained extensive damage and loss of life from EF4 and EF5 tornadoes, with thousands of residents displaced from their homes with their lives turned completely upside down.  The recovery effort began almost immediately in most areas, but likely will require years of support for these communities to rebuild.  If you are interested in donating to the April 27 tornado outbreak recovery, I’ve listed below some charity websites I was able to find.

Red Cross (search for southern tornadoes):  http://redcross.org 

We Are Alabama:  http://www.wearealabama.org/ 

Alabama kids affected by tornadoes:  http://kids4al.com/

Hackleburg, AL schools:  http://www.mcbe.net/

EF4-EF5 Tornado destroyed Pratt City and Pleasant Grove, AL.

On arriving in Birmingham, AL a month after the tornados had ripped through, I was left with sight of complete hopelessness. To see so many people without homes, friends, and family it made me take a look back onto my own life and realize what life really means. To me that is living in every moment that we can because we never know what is waiting for us even 5min into the future. We will never know why God allows situations like these to pass through our lives, but what I have come to understand is that through times like these he brings people together that would have never been together if it weren’t for something like this event. In this God’s word is spread and shared, love is passed along from one to another, compassion is shared, people are serving one another as Christ said is should be. In times like this we see Christians standing up, picking up their crosses, and serving people in need and through that God is given glory. Praise be to God for everything, even in the worst of times.

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble.”

Philippians 4:4-14

Another Story Different Place

-Truly Blessed