Monday, November 29, 2010


It seems that whenever we have a bad day, it starts with something kinda of inconvenient and just snowballs from there.  Things seem to get out of control, and by the time you crawl into bed at night all you can do is just pray that the next day will be a little better.  Then, if you wake up with the negative events of the previous day fimrly entrenched in your mind, you find that the present day ends up being a little rough as well. Before you know it you've had a bad week.  

One of the things I've had to learn throughout recent months is the importance of what my focus is on any given day.  

As God has worked in my life recently, there has been one situation that hasn't quite been resolved the way I wanted it to be.  ONE situation. God is doing incredible things in my heart and life and there is one situation that isn't turning out the way I wanted it to.  Now, truthfully, it is (to me) a pretty big deal.  But still, it's one situation.  So, instead of focusing on what God is doing and how He is working in all other areas of my life, what do I do? I focus on the hurt and pain of one area of my life and carry that with me on a daily basis.  

So it is, that the rest of my life is colored by my reaction to the one situation on which I choose to focus. 

I guess at the end of the day, I can choose the defeated feeling of things that hurt not working out the way I want or I can look over at all God is doing and be genuinely encouraged by it.  

I don't want to discount any hurt or pain I've felt over the past few months, and I definitely don't want to be calloused towards the truth that sometimes life hits us with stuff for which we are not and could never really be prepared for.  However, more often than not we have a choice.  We have a choice how long we will let hurt and pain control us.  

It's the same way with those of us who struggle with pasts that we are ashamed of.  If we constantly focus on our mistakes and failures of the past, we get stuck there, never truly moving forward in our lives.  

There's a hymn that says "Turn your eyes upon Jesus...and the things of this world will grow strangely dim."  I find that as I focus on Christ and His work in me that the weight of the guilt of my past and the shame of mistakes fades away.  I find that the bad days are bearable.  I find that my smile is in reach because the things of this world have grown strangely dim and what really matters is Christ and His work.  

It seems almost too simple. It seems almost un-Christian.  It seems unbelieveable, but the journey is more bearable, pain is less potent, mistakes are less crippling, all because I choose not focus on the pain or mistakes.  

If you're hurting, if you're struggling with the shame and guilt of a past you can't seem to shake, then shift your focus. The enemy will try to disctract you any way he can, but as you learn to focus on Christ and "look full into His wonderful face," you will find that the things of this world truly do "grow dim in the light of His glory and GRACE." 

There's that word again.  How marvelous the grace of God!  He is at work in us even when the enemy is trying to work us over.  He is at His best on our worst days.  He is comfort in the midst of pain.  He declares us innocent even though we plead guilty.

So I choose to focus on God and His work in my life.  Do I have a past?  Yes.  There are things in my past of which I am very much ashamed.  Do I have pain?  Yes.  There are things that hurt me daily.  How do I feel about life?  God is so good.  Because I serve such a good God, I can't walk in sorrow and depression.  As I focus on Him, I find His joy is truly my strength and His peace, though it passes my understanding, gives me the ability to smile.  

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Matthew 14:23 - After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone.

Luke 6:12 - It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God.

John 6:15 - So Jesus, perceiving that they were [fn] intending to come and take Him by force to make Him king,withdrew again to the mountain by Himself alone.

I find it interesting that there are several times when Jesus felt it was necessary to withdraw Himself from the masses and from His followers to be alone.  

When I was in college one of our campus pastors preached a sermon on the importance of times of solitude.  For some reason, that sermon really resonated with me that evening and it stuck with me for a while.  However, like many things that should have been used in a healthy manner, I began to take the principles of a person's need for solitude and twist it into a life mantra.  

Here's truth, I enjoy entertaining people.  I really do like being in front of a group of people and knowing that they enjoy my stories, jokes, or other silly antics I may pull off.  In fact, I feed off of their enjoyment and enjoy myself.  

I enjoy teaching my students.  There is no greater thrill to me than when my students begin to grasp the truths from the Word of God.  As my kids come to a greater understanding of who God is and how big His grace is in their lives, I get more and more pumped to teach them. 

Honestly though, I pour a lot of myself into my teaching...and in the past, I've poured a lot into my entertaining.  So it is that a lot of times when I'm finished teaching or preaching, I tend to feel a bit drained.  I need to recharge my batteries.  

Unfortunately, for a long time in my life, I poured so much of myself into so many things that didn't really matter in the scope of eternity that I stayed drained.  Never really relying on the strength of the Spirit to recharge me.  Instead relying on my own selfish solitude and wrapping my desire to be alone in a spiritual kind of excuse that said, "I give so much to everyone, I just need my 'me' time."  

It's interesting though, that in the aftermath of my chaotic experience with God's grace that I crave fellowship with my friends and family.  I genuinely have come to the point that I enjoy people, and I genuinely enjoy the times I spend with friends.  In stepping away from the "center of attention" role that I used to play and letting myself naturally enjoy good company I find that what Solomon says in Ecclesiastes 4 is so true. Two are indeed better than one.  

I still need a little time with myself and God.  But that's the difference in my time alone now and my time alone in the past.  Now, my time alone is usually spent in genuine reflection and prayer.  I don't say that to sound holy or pious, I say that to illustrate that God is teaching me how to be alone in a healthy way.  

I think that all people need some solitude in their days.  I think that everyone needs a place to retreat where they can just escape the masses and spend time "recharging."  However, what is not healthy, is to in a attitude of distrust or fear or arrogance to retreat from the world and expect the world to readily accept whatever emerges from your times of solitude. 

Isaiah tells us that when we "wait on the Lord" that we "renew our strength."  I think that waiting on the Lord takes place when we rest in His presence, trusting Him to move us when we need to move, to lead us where we need to go, and to energize us in our weakness.  

Friendship, real, true friendship is a source of energy renewal for the Believer.  We are called to "bear one another's burdens."  So, when we actually do that, we find that our load isn't as heavy as it normally would be when we try to go at things alone.  So, we can walk with our heads up and our steps a little more sure because we are being supported by one another.

We are after all the body of Christ.  Why would I try to amputate myself from the rest of the body?  What good is an amputated appendage?  It is powerless.  

The greatest struggle I have with this is that I'm in ministry.  (I'm a "professional Christian")  There's a certain image of those of us in ministry that we're supposed to have it all together, that we have all the answers, and that when problems or pain comes our way that we automatically know how to deal with it.  Even we ministers buy into that deceptive image at times. So it becomes hard for us to let others bear our burdens, because we are supposed to be the counselors...not the counseled.  We are supposed to console...not be consoled.  We are supposed to be encouragers...not need encouragement.  

The truth that I've had to learn about myself is this though, I'm a human being.  I get tired. I get discouraged. I get weak.  Even in waiting on the Lord, I find myself antsy and impatient, needing the encouragement to just be still and know that He is God.  I need people.  I need friends and family.  And that's ok.  In fact, it's a great thing.  It's great to know that I am incapable of simply wandering the Earth alone.  

As I look around at friends who have been there for me, as I see family that has reached out in love to lift me up, and as I find myself strengthened enough to help bear the burdens of and rejoice with my friends, I have to smile, because I'm not walking this journey alone.  I have brothers and sisters in a bond stronger than any earthly familial bonds.  I am truly a part of the family of God, and we walk together, holding one another up, enjoying one another's company, praying together, laughing together, crying together, and eating together (can I get an amen on that one?).

Solitude is necessary, I think, for the Believer sometimes.  Just as necessary, and maybe even more so, are the friends that god has placed in our lives to journey with.  As I learn to spend my time alone in a healthy way I have to smile because I know that I have friends and family who I genuinely love and who genuinely love me and I don't have to walk this journey alone. 

Monday, November 15, 2010


We have a lot of words in our Christian faith that we throw around kind of flippantly without ever thinking about what they really are and what they really mean to us.  One of those words is joy.

The truth is I've taught about joy.  I've sung about joy.  I've even thought about exactly what joy is and what it means.  At the end of the day, though, I don't know that I've ever really bought in to the fullness of what joy is or can be in my life.  I don't know if I've ever fully understood just how important it is for us as Believers to really grab on to the joy that God offers us through the Holy Spirit.

Joy is tricky.  It's tricky to talk about, to teach about, and it's kind of tricky to understand.  I'm not saying that God is trying to trick us with joy, but our language causes the concepts of joy and happiness to be almost interchangeable.  I guess that's ok until you consider the fact that we get sad sometimes.  Then, we have to ask the question, if joy is a fruit of the spirit (according to Galatians) and joy and happiness are pretty much the same thing, then when I'm sad am I not be being spiritual? simple terms, if joy and happiness are the same thing, is it a sin when I'm not happy?  IF joy and happiness are the same thing,the the answer would be yes I suppose.

Now, I KNOW that joy and happiness aren't the same thing.  I realize that happiness is my emotional response to a positive situation and that joy is something deeper and more spiritual than a simple emotional response.  I also recognize that joy is a spiritual thing that is not only supposed to be a product of what the Holy Spirit is doing in my life, but also a source of strength within me that comes from God.  I know all of that...but what I have found myself struggling with is how to tap into the joy that I'm supposed to have when I'm really sad.

In fact, it's a lot easier to talk about joy and sing about joy and sometimes be happy and call it joy than it is to actually grasp what joy is and how it works in my life.

In the aftermath of my chaotic experience with God's grace and love, I began to learn a few things about myself...maybe I should say that I began to admit a few things about myself.  One of the things involved a situation I found myself in that absolutely broke my heart.  I found myself incredibly sad at the damage I had done.  I found myself frustrated at my inability to fix the damage I caused.  I found myself depressed because I didn't understand how I could feel so spiritually free and emotionally torn up.  I found myself praying that God would fix the situation. I had literally never dealt with the emotions that were now welling up inside of me, and they began to overtake me.  I had times when I would reach out to God and seek His strength and seek His joy and for moments at a time I would begin to find it only to let it go and sink back into a place of sorrow.

Stopping for a moment to tell you what I've learned about sadness and despair.  It's comfortable.  As much as it hurts, it can be really comfortable to be sad and depressed.  In fact, if you're in a situation where you're holding on to something that has made you sad then the sadness and despair can feel almost necessary.  It sounds twisted, but when you're sad about someone you've lost, or a situation that you want to change, getting over the sadness and despair may feel like giving up or letting go or even forgetting.  So it is that sometimes we hold on to sadness or depression because we think it's all we have left of a situation and it becomes so easy to continue to be sad because we know what that feels like. If we get over the situation that has hurt us, if we are no longer sad, then we really don't know what's coming.  We really have to move forward and that is scary because that means we are letting go and we have no idea what the future holds.  At least that's what has been true in my life.  I came to a point in which I would have rather been sad and despairing than to move past that in my life because to move past it was losing any little bit of control I may have had in the situation.

There's nothing wrong with being sad.  Sadness is a legitimate emotion that we experience when we go through things in life that hurt us.  Jesus was sad.  Not all the time, but we have instances in scripture of Jesus being sad.  He was there are times when it's ok to be sad.   In fact, I'm convinced more than ever that it's never wrong to be sad until we let sadness and the situations that make us sad become what we focus on.

I'm not sure that sadness is the opposite joy.  In fact, I think that joy can be a powerful thing in the midst of sadness.  I've experienced it.

This is where it gets weird.

It wasn't long ago that in my attempts to try to make my situation stop hurting me that I was crushed.  Emotionally crushed I mean.  I had done all that I knew to do.  I had so desperately tried to set this one thing in my life right and nothing seemed to set it right.  Then, with one statement, I found myself literally crushed under the weight of the realization that the real truth is that unless God steps in to change things, this situation may never be set to what I consider to be right.  I couldn't breathe.  Literally, I found myself struggling to breathe and gather myself up for the tasks that I had ahead of me that day.  For the rest of the day, every step felt like I was walking hip deep in wet concrete that was swiftly drying.  I went to bed that night with tears in my eyes and desperate prayer on my lips.  The next day I woke up to the phone call of a friend checking in on me.  I started the day with tears in my eyes and the situation on my mind.  Trudging through the day, I just couldn't seem to function.   Then, that evening, I was sitting at home...and got tired of just sitting there.

I went for a drive.  As I was driving, I found myself losing it.  Again, tears sprang to my eyes.  The reality of my situation hit my heart and mind yet again like huge weight pressing down on me.  Through the noise of my sadness and despair, I heard a stirring in my soul, "This has to stop."

"I don't know how." I said within myself.  "I don't know how to let go.  I don't know how to not be sad.  I don't know how to deal with this."  I realized that I was praying now.  (I know it sound overly dramatic, but this is what happened that evening.  It still makes me feel a little strange.)

"You can't be controlled by this sadness."  I felt The Spirit say.

"I don't want to be. But," Then I got a little defensive. "You've taken so much else of me, why do I have to let this go?"

"You've got stuff to do.  Let's fight this."

"Ok"  I answered.  (I know...really spiritual way of talking to God...but it was all I could say.)

In the past, I have found myself quoting scripture out loud and listening to some praise and worship music to move past sadness in order to get into a place where I could at least minister to my kids.  That evening, I knew that scripture was the place to start.

None came to mind.  I couldn't believe it. I've never had a problem remembering encouraging scripture.  Then I felt something welling up inside of me.  Everything that pertained to the situation that was hurting me so much seemed to come together like a wave.  (Looking back, this is the image I have in my head of what seemed to be happening in my spirit)  As all of this stuff gathered, I suddenly remembered part of one verse and even that ended up being a paraphrase.

"The joy of the Lord is my strength." I began to say over and over through gritted teeth. I was literally waging war in my spirit.  As I drove my hands gripped the steering wheel tighter and tears began to spring to my eyes.  I could feel the swelling sorrow of my situation begin to come crashing down on me.  "The joy of the Lord is my strength." I said again and again.  Then I remembered. "His mercies are new every morning." "His love endures forever." "I will look unto the hills, and where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord who made the Heavens and the Earth."

As the source of my sorrow continued to crash down on me like a wave I said these things out loud.  And was over...the wave had passed...and I was still standing.

"You can't keep going in sadness and despair.  Let's fight this. My joy is your strength."  That's what the Spirit seemed to say to me in that moment.

And in that moment, I began to find joy again.

I don't know if I can fully describe joy.  I don't know if I fully have my head around it yet, but what I've learned is this.

Joy is not happiness.  Joy is strength in any situation because joy is a spiritual understanding of what is good and glorious.  Joy is more than optimism.  Joy is more than an emotional response to a circumstance.  Joy comes from the part of our spirit that refuses to focus on what is negative and hurtful.  Joy grabs our attention and places it on the goodness of a God who loves us.   Joy energizes us when we're weary, strengthens us when we're weak, and encourages us when we're sad.

I truly believe that the source of joy is found in the heart of God's grace.  Grace that says "No matter what I love you.  No matter how far you think you have fallen, you are not out of My reach.  No matter how bleak the situation I am in control.  No matter how ugly things seem, I make all things beautiful in its time."  That is the heart of joy.

I truly believe we tap in to the strength of joy when we shift our focus from that which hurts to what God has for us.  If it seems like God is doing nothing, then we go back to what God has done or said.  For me, it's the scriptures of His grace and love that I find myself clinging to, because even if in the moment I don't trust what He is doing in a situation, I know that at my core I trust what He has said in His word.

Joy helps us keep going when we don't think we can take another step.  Joy helps us keep breathing when the weight of the world seems to press the life out of us.  Joy encourages us when we feel nothing but defeat.  Joy helps us find a smile when all we can muster are tears.

I am learning that the enemy hates for me to tap into the Joy of the Lord. Because when I do, I find  the motivation, creativity, and confidence that seemed to be gone for good.  I find the ability to laugh, and as I laugh it does my heart good like a medicine. The enemy wants me to sit in the apparent comfort of sadness and despair and miss opportunities to impact people's lives.  The enemy wants me to sit in the apparent comfort of sadness and miss what God is doing in my life.  So the enemy is going to fight to steal my joy, but I have decided...I'm fighting for my joy.

I find myself at yet another place in my life where I've never really been.  My heart still feels a certain weight of sadness, and I think that's ok.  Rather than cover it up, I will be honest about it.  Rather than embrace it, I will process it.  Rather than, be defeated by it, I will tap in to the joy of the Lord that is truly my strength.

Thank God that He has given us joy.  This amazing thing that goes far beyond an emotional response.  God, through His grace, has given His children the means to walk through any situation.  The simple yet hard to explain truth of joy.

There's tons more to say about joy.  But right now, I just have to smile, because I God is so good, and His joy is truly my strength.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Who are you?

It's a simple enough question...until you think about it.  Who are you?

Who am I?

It's said that knowing yourself is the highest form of knowledge.  Which is seems strange I guess.  I mean, who should know you better than you?  Who would know me better than me?

I can confidently say that I USED to know who I was...or at least I thought I did. In fact, it was a fact that I prided myself on.  What happens when all that apparent self awareness goes out the window?  What then becomes of my identity?

When we were kids, it was an easy question to answer.  "What's your name?" and "How old are you?" Those two questions for a few years would completely sum up our identity to everyone else.  Think about it.  When you meet a little child, those are the first two questions you ask and then you may indulge their chatter about a blanket, a toy, or something else, but the truth is, you've kind of gotten all the pertinents at this point.

As we grow though, things begin to develop in us.  We develop personalities, passions, and dreams.  Our experiences teach us life lessons and we incorporate what we learn into the way we go through life for good or ill.  Sometimes, we choose to be the hero of our story, overcoming odds and obstacles with superhuman-like determination and skill. Sometimes, we choose to be the victim of our circumstances and let hard experiences determine the way we will respond to other decisions in our lives.  Sometimes it's our mistakes that we let shape us.  Sometimes our successes become the things we grow out of and move on to the next success.  By the time we reach a place of adulthood, our identities are pretty much in place whether we recognize that or not.

Ironically, the people around may sometimes know us better than we know ourselves.

That has been the case in my life it seems.

Take the Star Wars room for example.  (I have a room with all my Star Wars collectibles both on display and in storage in my house...I call it the Star Wars room.)  The minute I expressed my intentions to begin to get rid of it, people began to get worried.  When I asked why, I was told it was because that room was a part of who I am.  Really?  Did I really get so wrapped up in my life in a series of movies that these things that I never worked on, never really invested myself  in, never really had a stake in their success that they became part of my identity?  Yes...I guess they did. On one hand, that's not too bad.  I guess it could have been a lot worse.  On the other hand, that's kind of embarrassing.  Don't get me wrong, I have always been a fan of Star Wars.  I truly enjoy the stories, the visuals, the characters...everything about the series of movies I enjoy.  I don't know that I ever want MOVIES to define me though.

Truth be told though, while I never invested in the films themselves, I invested a lot of time into the fandom.

Then there's my job.  I'm a youth pastor.  Is that who I am?  Is that all I am?  I am more confident than ever in my life that my calling is to teenagers right now.  I enjoy so much the time I spend with "my kids."  I have a heart that longs for my kids to walk in the light of God's grace and fully experience the abundant life that Jesus has promised to us all through Him. my identity just Steve Glosson - youth pastor. If that is my identity, is it enough?  Is that what I really am supposed to be?  What happens if I'm not a youth pastor anymore?  Who am I then?

I have some talent.  I don't say that arrogantly. I'm just saying...I have some talent.  I can talk.  Put me in front of a group of people, and I can talk.  I might even make them laugh.  (No guarantees on that though.) Put me in front of a microphone and I can carry on a conversation with myself about nothing at all.  I can talk. That's the talent I have.  So...I'm a talker...or to put it more professionally, I'm a speaker.  But is that all I am?  What happens if I lose my voice?  What happens if people decide they don't want to listen to me talk anymore?  What happens if I suddenly one day have nothing to say?  Who am I then?

I've got friends.  I love my friends.  My friends and I laugh together.  We hang out together. We're there for each other.  We do things that we all enjoy together.  I've had some great friends and I have some great friends.  What happens when I'm alone though?  What happens if I am ever called to leave where my friends are and go somewhere that I know no one?  What happens if I let my friends down beyond their ability to forgive me and I lose them?  What happens if my friends leave me?  What happens if my friends disappoint me and I want nothing to do with them anymore?  Who am I then?  If my friends are my identity what happens if they are all gone?

I've got a family.  Man do I have a family!  My family is made up of a bunch of attention grabbing, loud, fun loving people.  We get together and the house gets loud.  I never feel more at home than when I'm with my family.  My brothers and sisters are some of my favorite people in the world.  I think they kind of like me too. It seems that no matter where I go in South Georgia, someone knows my dad or someone else in my family.  So there's a reputation that comes with my family name.  What happens if my family's gone though?  What happens if one day I chose to take a different name?  What happens if I move somewhere that people don't really know my family at all?  If my identity is my family what happens when it's just me and the family isn't around?  Who am I then?

I like having fun.  Fun  Laughing feels great.  Sitting around telling fun stories, going new places, enjoying the company of friends and meeting new people, going places that I enjoy being with people that I enjoy being with, it all is fun and I enjoy having fun.  What happens when things aren't fun though? What happens when the fun stops?  What happens when life hands me a season of non-fun?  If fun defines me who am I then?

Experiences. When I say "experiences," why does my mind immediately go to negative experiences?  I wonder if other people do the same thing. negative experiences. I've had some negative experiences in my life.  Some caused by my own hand, some that just happened because bad things happen in life.  If I'm defined by the bad things that have happened in my life, what happens in the good times?  When things are just ok how do I respond in those moments?  If I'm defined by the negative things in my life and that is my focus, how do I see the good and do the good times then become bad because I missed them?  If that's my identity do I even like myself?

What about positive experiences?  There have been some great things happen in my life. I've walked on the mountain top so to speak.  I've enjoyed success.  I've had quiet moments of peace.  I've been thrilled by a rush of excitement in a moment of sheer joy.  I've laughed a lot.  I've enjoyed the simple things.  But, if I'm only defined by the good times, who am I in the bad times?  If I only cling to my positive experiences, did I ever really learn anything from the negative ones?  What happens if the day comes when I have no more positive experiences?  Who would I be then?

I'm in a place in my life that I've never really been before. I'm truly seeking and discovering who I am.  I said in my first post here that God brought me to a point where He lovingly broke me.  He called me to lay down so many things that I had wrapped myself in for so long. Things that I thought were so important to me.  Things that I allowed to be my identity.  I was Steve the youth pastor.  Steve the podcaster.  Steve the fun guy. Steve the bitter guy.  Steve the arrogant guy.  Steve the smart guy.  Steve the talented speaker.  Steve the center of attention.  Steve the joker.  (One who makes jokes...not the bad guy from Batman.)  Steve who is only serious if he absolutely has to be.  Steve the guy who brushes off things that he just doesn't want to deal with.  Steve the bad boyfriend.  Steve the fun friend.  Steve the cynical guy. Steve the movie geek. Steve the comic book geek.  Steve the Star Wars geek.  Steve the geek.   All of these things made up who I was and quite frankly, I had to be broken from all of it to get down to the core of my identity.

In the weeks that followed my chaotic experience with the grace of God I had a truly great friend who was encouraging me as I seemed to continuously beat myself up for all of my mistakes.  He would tell me in several times in several conversations, " weren't all bad."  I wouldn't allow myself to see this for a while.  I thought that my identity was now Steve the guy who messed up really bad. Steve the guy who is just a shell of who he once was.  But thanks to my friend, God began to speak to my heart and show me that the reason He had to break me from everything that I let define me was to show me who I am at my core.

I'm Steve Christ.  (Just let me stop and say , "Thank you God for showing me that I would never be content or walk in the fullness of who you have for me to be until I realized that simple fact...I'm who I am in You.")

That's who I am.  I'm in Christ.  That's how my friend could look at me and say, "You weren't all bad."  That's why I can point to so many times in my life where God has chosen to work through me and use me in spite of myself.   Because there was a moment in history where I gave myself to Christ.  In that moment, the work of grace in my life was activated so that I am now as Paul said, "crucified with Christ."  Because of that, it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.  I indentify with Christ.  In my flesh I still fail.  I still make mistakes.  I am not bound to, nor am I defined by those mistakes and failures. Because I identify with Christ, I am defined by who He is.

Stop a second and think about that.  Because I identify with Christ, I am defined by who He is.

I'm not saying I am Christ or that I am even A Christ.  I'm saying that my identity begins with Christ and His work in me.  So who am I?  I'm Steve Glosson in Christ.   (I can't type that sentence without welling up.  It's an amazing thing to think about.)

In my imagination, I see myself looking around at broken down walls and shattered ideas.  It's like I see a debris field and I'm looking to see if there's anything salvageable with which to rebuild who I am.  Then, I hear a voice say, "I am rebuilding you.  I am transforming you.  I am giving you your identity in me."  Then, I recognize that if my identity is in Christ, it's not for me to define myself, rather I wait for Him to define me.

So, if you know me as a podcaster, that's fine...but that's not who I am.  If you know me as a funny guy, I'm glad I've made you laugh...but that's not who I am.  If you know me as an arrogant jerk, I am truly sorry that I treated you so poorly...but that's not who I am.  If you know me as a family member, let's get together and eat...but that's not who I am.  If you know me as a friend, I'm so glad to have you in my life and journey together...but that's not who I am.  If you know me as a youth pastor, I pray that God has used me in a positive way in your life...but that's not who I am.  I'm Steve Glosson...and I'm in Christ.  He is showing me daily who I am.  As He defines my passions and dreams, as He mends what has been broken, as He restores what has been lost, as He replaces what had to go, I grow more confident in Him.  I feel the corners of my mouth begin to twitch upward, because I now there's not a million things that use to define me...there's just one thing to say...I'm Steve Christ.

Who are you?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Galatians 5:1 - It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore stand firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.

Us gun totin', tobacco spittin', God fearin' Americans love us some freedom.  Even the tree huggin', coffee sippin', God fearin' Americans love us some freedom.  The plain old run of the mill, don't really go to protests, have to work too hard to worry about a cause, just let me live my life Americans love us some freedom.  Freedom is kind of what has always defined this country.

We enjoy freedom because the founders of this country won independence from Great Britain back in the 1700's.  (That's your history lesson for today.) Because so many of our patriotic songs talk about independence and freedom, we tend to mesh the two together to mean the same thing.

In fact, even if you're not an American, you probably see independence as a form of freedom.  How many of us couldn't wait to get out from under our parents' roof?  How many of us have bosses that we wish we could liberate ourselves from?  How many of us think that being independent from a circumstance is the same as being free?

I guess that freedom and independence often go hand in hand.  Until you start talking about the freedom that we are offered in Christ.  For the Christian, it's just the opposite.  We don't really experience freedom until we totally depend on Christ.

For a lot of Christians, we let our past define who we are.  We look at mistakes, failures, flaws, and mishaps and let those things become a part of our identity.  So many times I've heard people talk about how bad they were before they became a Believer.  They'll spend twenty minutes talking about all the bad things they did, and just how messed up they were.  Then they'll say, "And then I found Jesus.  Don't you want to find Jesus too?"  And that's it.


That's how it seems.  I don't know where we got this idea that for the rest of my life I'm going to define myself by the mistakes I've made.  I don't know why we define ourselves so often by the bad things that have happened to us.

Well, maybe that's not true.  I know why I did that.  I did it because my mistakes affected me so deeply that I used them as a crutch to excuse future mistakes.  It sounds so messed up, but if I allowed myself to dwell on the ways that I messed up, then I was kind of a victim to Satan's traps rather than someone who chose to make the choices I made.  If I walked not totally defeated, but just a little defeated and burned and wounded, then people should understand that I am really struggling to defeat sin and wrong in my life.

Independence.  A large part of my performance as a Believer was knowing just how much of the wounded victim to play as it pertained to my spirituality.  Another part of who I have been was a huge weight of guilt for so many things done wrong that a lot of people may or may not know about.  But I could handle it. I could work it out.  That's all independence.  It's not freedom.

Paul said of himself that he was chief among sinners.  I think we've taken that verse and tried to use it to excuse us from really seeking what kind of life God has for us.  Too often in my life I've worn the "chief sinner" thing as a badge of pride.  "See?  I can relate to people who mess up.  I don't look like all the other overly religious Christians, I'm just a big screw up."  All the while completely embracing my failures and my past as part of my identity.

The truth that God is showing me, however, is that if Christ really did die to set us free...why do I go back to the chains?  Why do I go back to the prison?  Why do I hang around in my failures and mistakes?

How can we who are dead to sin live any longer therein?

Freedom in Christ requires DEPENDENCE on God.  I can't tell you how refreshing that is to me.  For a long time I carried the weight of my walk with Christ on my shoulders telling God, "I got this."  Thinking that God expect to me "have it."

But in Christ, I'm a new creation that isn't created to walk in mistakes and failures.  Hebrews tells us to "lay aside the sin that easily ensnares" us.  Then James tells us the way to do that.  "Submit to God, resist the devil and he will flee."

It all starts with depending completely on God.  I didn't do anything but trust Him to be saved.  Why is it that I should do anything but trust Him to live saved?

I'm free from my past.  I'm free from my failures.  I'm free from my sin.

I guess I'm saying this:  While my mistakes, failures, and sins should inform my life....if I'm in Christ, my mistakes failures, and sins can never define my life.

Why would I let the enemy control me with a past that God has forgotten?  Why would I continue to beat myself up over mistakes that have been truly forgiven?

Why not just depend on God and trust His love and grace and move forward?

God loves us so much.  When He looks at us, He isn't so much concerned with our mistakes and failures and imperfections as He is concerned with what we can truly be in Him.  He doesn't want us to carry the burden of the chains of sin and failure.  He wants us to be free from it.  Knowing that it hurts, and trusting Him to not go back to it.

In searching to find my smile again, I feel the corners of my mouth twitch upward as I realize that God has given me today to live free from the guilt of yesterday.  God has given me today to breathe fresh and new.  Scripture tells us that His mercies are new everyday.  So if I should mess up today or tomorrow...He's ready with grace for that, but I think I'm beginning to understand what Paul said when he said, "The love of Christ constrains me."  I'm amazed by the love of God that offers freedom if I'll just trust Him.  It's that love that causes me to truly be done with my past.

Have I learned lessons from my past? Of course.  But, I won't let the echoes of past failures cause me defeat anymore.

There is now therefore no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. 

He doesn't condemn me...He just says, "Get up and walk with me."  That's something worth living for...that's something to smile about.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Roughly two months ago from the time of this posting, something happened in my life.  The very foundation of who I have thought I am for the past twelve years or more was shaken and destroyed.

Maybe I should back up and explain who I thought I was.

I'm a preacher's kid. Grew up in church. Accepted Christ when I was five.  All my life I've been in church in some form or another. When I was 18, I graduated high school and a week later started as the summer youth director at a small church.  Practically every summer since then I've been doing youth ministry.  So for 29 years of my life I've identified myself as a Christian, and for a total of almost 12 years, I've been doing some type of ministry.

The thing about growing up as a Christian and growing up in the church is that you learn how to play all the games.  You learn what to say and when to say it.  Unfortunately, one of the things the church hasn't taught us how to do very well is be weak.  If you have a weakness, please don't let it show.  If you're carrying a burden, don't let it weigh you down too much or you may become a burden on the rest of the people around you.  Not to mention, if something comes up that you can't handle then obviously you're not walking with God the way you're supposed to.

Well, there's that little diatribe...digression is my curse.

Anywho, I think one of my greatest weaknesses became apparent to me on the playground in first grade.  I would never say that I was overly sheltered as a kid.  My parents did a great job of letting us be exposed to the real world in an effort to teach us how to live in the real world. (Us being the rest of my brothers and sisters.) The one thing I wasn't prepared for, though, was the fact that the kids who didn't know me from church would find something about me to make themselves feel better.  It's been said that kids are cruel.  I disagree.  I think kids are just unfiltered.  I don't think a child means to be mean until they realize that being mean gives them some kind of power or control in a situation over another child who may not be quite as mean.  So it was that I learned in first grade that I have a bit of a weight problem.  Some would say I'm fat...but that's not really PC now is it?  The kids in first grade called me "Fatback."  I didn't really know what fatback was at the time, but I knew that they were informing me that I was a bit chunkier than the rest of them.  It hurt my feelings, but that was kind of a new experience to me.  Most people I knew loved me to death (except the occasional babysitter - I was a bit of a handful as a kid.).  My friends at church treated me like one of the gang.  They never let me know I was fat.  (In retrospect it would have been nice for one of my older friends to pull me over to the side and say, "Hey, heads're fat...and people are going to pick on prepared.)  So I was never prepared for the revelation that I was a little fatty and that people apparently liked to have fun at the expense of the fat kid.

It went on into the next year when my second grade teacher (who I maintain to this day didn't like me very much) read us the book BLUBBER by the very talented Judy Blume.  In said story, the author felt it necessary to define the word "blubber" for the reader.  As my teacher read the definition aloud - "whale fat"- every eye in my class turned to me and the mouths below the eyes formed sadistic smiles.  Recess was going to be a beast that day.

Now, I'm not trying to play the victim.  I've got a lot of mileage in my adult years out fat jokes.  The hard truth is that those early years, I began to let the people around me influence the way I saw myself.  While I had friends and was readily accepted - even with the rather unpleasant nicknames - I began to see myself as the outcast.  I looked at myself and said, "People see me this way, I have to change that...I have to make them like me."

As the fat kid, you have two choices.  You can choose to be bitter and awkward for the rest of your time in school or you can develop a personality.  I chose the latter.  I was the class clown.  I was the guy who always had something funny to say, and I learned that if I beat everyone else to the fat joke punch, nobody will try to make the fat jokes.

I carried this self image through the awkwardness of middle school and on in to high school.  I became the guy that everyone liked, but the truth is I wasn't too crazy about myself.  That was my weakness that I never let anyone see.  That was the truth that I hid.  Because if I didn't like myself then Jesus wouldn't be happy with me because He likes me.

I was a good kid in high school. I didn't party, I didn't cause any real trouble.  I was always a bit mischievous and mouthy, but I was never a bad kid.  You'd never hear of Steve Glosson getting drunk. You'd never hear that Steve was somewhere he wasn't supposed to be.  In fact, I was the guy that everyone knew to be a Christian. I was the guy leading See You At The Pole prayer events, speaking in churches in the area,  (I preached for the first time when I was 12.)  inviting people to youth events, and being active in all the Christian events in the community.  Yep.  I was a good guy.

The truth is though, I still longed to know that I was accepted and liked.  I tried to be liked by everyone.  I never had a girlfriend.  "You're just too nice." Guys would tell me. "You're not a guy, you're Steve." Girls would say.

I honestly didn't think very highly of myself.  Well, I didn't think I did.  I only saw my flaws.  I only saw how much I didn't fit in.  I really didn't like myself very much at all.

So it was, somewhere in the middle of my high school career, I began to build some wall s around my life.  I didn't really open up to people very much unless it was about my faith.  (I had to do that...all good Christians do that.)  When I thought I could open up, things would always come out wrong and I would feel stupid or afraid I would be made fun of, so I just chose to keep myself to myself.  I was the perfect wingman for my guy friends.  I was the perfect listening ear for my girl friends.  All the while I was falling apart inside because I thought that no one really liked me...they just all pitied me because I'm the fat loser who can crack a funny joke every now and then.

Here's the crazy thing though.  I had put so much stock in my identity as the "Christian kid," and as I began to discover my talents of standing in front of an audience and engage the listener, I began to puff myself up in my head.  I began to think that I deserved more than I was getting from people.  I would never had admitted that, but that's kind of how I began to feel.

Then, I went to college.  My mom and dad dropped me off 500 miles from home with no car and knowing absolutely nobody.  It was my choice.  I chose the college I went to and didn't think about the fact that it was far from home and I had no friends there.  So there I was, a stranger in a strange place where everyone seemed to find a place to fit right in.  Eventually, so did I.  I found my spot.  I had a great group of friends.  I'd lucked into an awesome situation in my dorm with a roommate that I genuinely got along with.  Then, Big Honkin' Steve was born.

You see, I went to a Christian college where, on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, we had mandatory chapel.  (They call in "Convocation," but it's chapel.)  The worship leader taught us a fun little kids' song one day.

The Word of God is like little bitty seeds
Scattered all around
The Word of God is like little bitty seeds
Scattered all around

You've got
Some in the row
Some in the weeds
But everywhere you look
You've got
Little bitty seeds. (Said in a high pitched voice)

The Word of God is like little bitty seeds
Scattered all around

Well, the worship leader went on to talk about how we have a word in the south for big - honkin.  And we sang a second verse, laughing through it, "The Word of God is like Big Honkin' seeds."

Well, that day after convocation I was in line at the cafeteria with my friends and someone said, "Big honkin seeds sounds like Big Honkin' Steve." And thus, the nickname was given.  From there, I met the worship leader and told him the funny story.  The next time we did that song he called me up in front of the few thousand who were in convo - as we called it - and I did my own little verse all about me.  People laughed...people cheered...and people thought I was cool because I was on stage.

I would go on stage several times to sing my little song and accept the laughter from the masses, and around campus people would begin to see me and say , "Hey Big Honkin' Steve."  Couple that with my loud obnoxious voice and people would begin to say, "Hey, say something loud and funny." I would oblige them of course because I finally found a place where people loved and accepted me.  (yeah right.)

In the quiet moments though, I still didn't like myself.  I was still that hurt little fat kid.  I thought my closest friends only pitied me. I guess you could say I was a closet emo.

Then, it happened.  I found myself in a relationship with an actual girl.

I should stop right there and say this.  A low self esteem is a really tricky form of pride.  When you suffer from a super low self esteem, all of your attention is on you. If that's not pride I don't know what is.

So couple my low self esteem, with what seemed like a contrary state of pride, and you have the recipe for a disastrous relationship.

I didn't know how to be in a real relationship. I didn't know how to be as open as I needed to be.  I didn't know that the person I was dating was supposed to actually be more than just someone who walked next to me when I went places. (This is actually a lesson I didn't learn for a long time.)  All I was concerned with was that the masses thought I was a great guy and she needed to accept me as readily as everyone else did.  The problem with that is that I had these walls in place, and if someone got past them then that person would find out just how weak I really was.  They would discover a truth I had hidden behind this masterful performance for the masses.  I couldn't let that happen.  So I pushed.  I pushed away someone who cared about me.

At this point, I need to make the point that she wasn't perfect either, but rather than help someone out with their struggles and weaknesses, I held those things against the person and said to myself, "I deserve better."

As that relationship ended...and ended again...and ended again...I found myself becoming more and more bitter toward the whole idea of being in a relationship.  I found myself embracing the idea of just keeping up appearances for the masses.  That's what I did.  I played the game.

The problem with playing the game is that sometimes the game catches up with you.  There were several times in my life where more people than I realized began to see the cracks in my armor.  As people began to see my imperfections, instead of confessing my weaknesses and the areas in which I needed help, I would push people away, get out of a situation, paint myself as the victim, and maintain to everyone else who applauded and lauded my great personality and talents that I had just been in some rough situations, never truly taking the responsibility for things that I should have taken responsibility for.  Instead, I would take just enough responsibility to make me appear to be humble.

All the while my struggles with who I was and what I thought of myself and the ways I would try to fill those empty places grew more and more and more.  My walls became bigger and thicker and more impenetrable.

I became arrogant, because there were so many people who thought I was great...and quite frankly, I began to believe my own hype.  I had taken steps to "fix" what was wrong in me.  I had done all the churchy things that you're supposed to do and even did some things that seemed radical in some church circles as I actually confessed to past weaknesses and failures.  Thinking that this somehow made me a better minister and Christian.

Truthfully, it just made me more and more of a performer.

For the past three or four years, I have felt the pull of the Holy Spirit in my life saying "Just be humble before me."  Knowing scripture, I knew the promise from James 4:10, that when we humble ourselves in God's presence, He will lift us up.  Even so, I was scared to death of what it meant to be humble.  People might see me cry.  (Silly now considering how much I now don't care if people see me cry.) People will find out how weak I am. People will know that I'm not perfect.  People will know my flaws.  So for the past three or four years I resisted the call of the Holy Spirit to truly be humble.

Oh, the love of God that calls to the resistant for so long.

Finally, my life became so consumed with the fact that people all over the world knew me through podcasts and blogs and they all enjoyed me, that I thought I was doing good.  I was doing youth ministry, and people seemed to be ok with that.  I had people who wanted to hang out with me, and I was being told on a regular basis what  a great guy I was.  Still, I longed for more.  More popularity.  More acceptance.  More (dare I say) fame.  That was what I wanted everyone to think of me.  The people closest to me...only saw walls.  They saw their friend continuously push them away.  They saw a person they genuinely cared about sit in apparent solitude never wanting anything to do with them unless it would suit his wants.

Then it happened.  The person closest to me...I hurt the most.

In a few days time, God began to shake me from my place of shelter.  He began to rattle the walls I'd so carefully built.

I lost someone special only to be left with just me and what?  A Star Wars room?  A few podcasts about things that really don't matter?  A name that people knew?

Then God began to speak to my heart and say, "I love you too much to let you continue this road."

Oh, the love of God that would deal with me for years and finally step in and do what I was unwilling to do.  He humbled me.

Roughly two months ago, God broke me.  He showed me what I was doing, who I was trying to be, and what it was doing to those closest to me, and what it would do to me, and He tore down my walls.  For the first time in a long, long time, I was exposed to the world for what I truly was.  A scared, insecure, weak man who was holding on to the hope that his talent would be enough to please everyone.

As my walls fell though, God also opened my eyes to see who I am to Him.  I am the "righteousness of God in Christ Jesus" according to 2 Corinthians 5:21.  I am fearfully and wonderfully made according to Psalm 139.  I am called chosen and faithful according to Revelation 17:14 even though I've not always been faithful...He still calls me faithful, not because of what I've done, but because of who I am in Him.

Then I began to see what really matters in this life...people.  People are what matters.  The people around us. The people in our lives.  It doesn't matter if everyone in the world knows your name, if you aren't pouring into the people closest to you, you are missing what really matters.

So it was God said, "It's time to lay it all down and set your priorities straight." The podcasts? Gone.  The radio show?  Finish it.  The Star Wars room? An idol...let it go.  Big Honkin' Steve?  A nickname?  Really?  Yes...a nickname that represents all of my self glorification and pride and desire for popularity.  It's time to let it go.

Has this all hurt?  Yes.  It hurt badly.  It hurts because of some things I lost that seemingly can't be restored.  So, I lost my smile, because it seemed like God had taken so much from me.  My very identity was gone.  My heart was broken by my own hand.

The glorious truth in all this is that in the midst of my torn down walls, and my shattered ideas of who I was, there was a foundation that was firm.  You see, as I said, I accepted Christ when I was five years old.  I remember the prayer I prayed with childlike faith.  I remember the journey in the months that followed as I struggled with the idea of letting our congregation know and finally being baptized.  God knew then what I didn't know - that foundation would be what I would one day cling to desperately as everything else seemed to fall away.

The other thing that God is teaching me is that for everything He's asked me to lay down, He gives back in ways greater than I ever dreamed.  My friendships are already more real than they've ever been.  I've had the opportunity to talk to so many other Believers and be encouraged by their prayers for me and found the joy in praying for them.  I've had the chance to lead people into a relationship with Jesus.

I finally like who I am with no pride or arrogance.  I like that I can be honest with my friends.  I like that I can be real.  I like not being tired from the constant performances for everyone.  It's an amazing thing to feel so free for the first time in so long.

So my encouragement to you is that even though to be broken sounds like a scary thing, even though humility feels like it can't possibly be a good thing, the glorious truth is that God truly does lift us up when we humble ourselves before Him.

If you're holding on to everything you don't like about you, if you're holding on to your fears of people knowing you're weak, if you've lost your smile because you've been scared to be what God has created you to be, I can tell you that you won't find your smile again until you let God's grace and love do its work in your life.  God absolutely loves you.  God absolutely LIKES you.  Flaws and all. When I realized that and began to embrace it, I found myself on the path to finding my smile.