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“Beauty Never Intended To Be More Than A Reflection”

I play a lot of video games.

I play games for a wide range of reasons. Sometimes it’s the sense of accomplishment, sometimes it’s a feeling of growth or learning. Sometimes it’s enjoying time with friends or being able to mercilessly defeat them. Sometimes I play for the rich story or the fun looking characters. Sometimes I’m lucky enough to have all of the above.

Video games are an example of God’s world-building creativity in us. Each game provides a new world to experience and explore, as well as being reflections of their creator. And just as these little worlds are created for our enjoyment, everything on Earth was given to us by God for our enjoyment.

In the beginning, God gave Adam and Eve everything. All things on Earth were given to them freely, except for the one tree in the middle of the garden. Adam and Eve were given everything they could ever want, but they decided that they wanted something else. So they disobeyed God. Because of that, Man became broken and separated from God for eternity. All because we wanted something other than God.

In case you are not up to date on 14:21’s adventures, we have been on our third stateside tour this year for over two weeks now. At this moment we are visiting Seattle in order to do some recruiting in the state of Washington.

If I can rewind a bit to the beginning of tour, flying back to Minnesota, I was having mixed feelings. I was excited about going back on tour, but I was beginning to really miss some of the luxuries I had back home. Mainly, having more free time to play games. Winter break was a nice break, but I still felt like I was missing out on a lot of that free time. Before I knew it, I was back in Minnesota, prepping for tour. Where had all that time gone?

Feeling a little cheated out of a break, I started to spend more and more time on the road playing games to try and “make up for lost time.” Eventually I realized that I was sacrificing precious times of ministry to go off on my own and play games.

I was reading Galatians one morning which talks a lot about the freedom we have in Christ, and came across this verse.

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. -Galatians 5:13 NIV

At that time, I had been in conversation with multiple people about choosing between indulgence and ministry and this helped solidify my resolve to choose ministry over indulgence in all cases. From that time to today I have had a multitude of great experiences with host families especially where I chose to chat and share time with them rather than retreat into the room I was given.

This is all to say that choosing God and His vision for us will always satisfy us more than our own devices ever would (no pun intended). We have a song in our rep called Shadows by Tenth Avenue North that talks about how we chase these unsatisfying things which takes us further and further away from the beautiful and fulfilling life that God has for us. I encourage you, as we encourage our audiences in our programs, to choose God in everything that you do over what we may selfishly desire to do.

Why?

Have you ever just sat there and wondered why did God let me go through that? I feel that I’ve asked this question more times than I would really care to admit. No one really wants to admit that they questioned God, but if we’re honest we all have at some point.

Anyway, why? It’s a question I find myself asking a lot. Why was I bullied since I was in 4th grade? Why have I had to deal with severe ADHD? Why do I have depression? Why me? Why did God decide “sure he can handle it”?

Ok, so lets dive a little deeper into those questions and give them some context. Well in case you couldn’t tell I was bullied most of my school career. In 4th grade I was the new kid so I was already a couple of rungs behind on the social ladder. It would happen that I wasn’t the only new kid so to get ahead on said a ladder I became the target, and that lasted till about 11th grade.

Thinking back on it I was super annoying, but that was due in part to my, at that point undiagnosed, ADHD. I was always the crazy, loud, obnoxious kid who would never sit still or be quiet. I was always the “problem child”, the one who always got in trouble in both Sunday and regular school. I had about a billion things going on in my head at one time and as a kid it was overwhelming. Finally in 8th grade I was officially diagnosed with ADHD and it all started to make sense. At least that part of my brain started to.

“Depression, isn’t that just a fancy word for feeling bummed out?” – Dwight Schrute

Despite what some people like our friend Dwight here might think no depression is not a fancy word for being bummed. If I’m being honest I wish it were that simple; however, depression is such a complicated thing that is different for every person who has it. For me it is kind of like constantly wondering why I am still living, or just not wanting to exist anymore. It’s feeling extremely alone in a van with 8 other people. An loneliness that drives me to not want do anything, or talk to anyone, or really be anything anymore. When people hear the word depression they immediately think self-harm and suicide. I’ll be the first to admit that I have battled with self-harm and suicidal thoughts, but it’s not always to that extreme. Depression doesn’t just magically go away either, but through God I can overcome whatever may come my way.

So, why did God let me go through all of that? Well I found out why just this past week. My team and I were at a church in Fargo, ND and we went out for pizza afterwards where we were able to hangout with some of the youth from that church, among them was this small group of girls. I don’t remember how the conversation happened but two of them were talking about their depression and self-harm and suicide attempts and I couldn’t just sit there and say nothing. i realized that God had allowed my to go through what I did so that I would be able to have that conversation and help these girls start to overcome their own battles.

Through this entire encounter I was reminded of my absolute favorite bible verse.

Romans 8:35-39New International Version (NIV)

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”[a]

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[b] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I love this verse because it is a reminder that no matter what life throws at us that through God we are more than conquerors. That no matter how many times we ask “Why?” God has already conquered our why’s.

Now instead of asking myself Why I am going to ask How. How can God use this situation that I’ve gone through to show his glory through me?

Flu Season

So Winter is in full swing and we have successfully and safely driven through the mountains to Washington. That said, it wasn’t a simple walk in the park to get here. We definitely had to fight through some obstacles and are still fighting through some in order to carry on with our ministry.

Currently, two of our members are dealing with the flu. Now, if you recall what your mother told you pertaining to the flu, you’ll probably remember you need to get lots of rest and water to heal quickly. This is because there is no quick fix for a virus. A virus just spreads through your body with impunity and all your body can do is destroy the infected cells. There isn’t anything that we can do to fight the flu besides a proactive shot or some serious rest, which can be pretty frustrating.

A lot of my blogs tend to focus on frustrations, I’ve noticed. Most prominently my frustration comes from the van or the trailer, but there are usually a myriad of issues that are ever present and nibbling at my patience. Some are small, but others may end up forcing two team members to remain at home and leave the rest of us to figure out how to finish a show without our lead guitarist or our sound tech.

These frustrations, as I have said before, are because I want to be in control. I so desperately want things to work the way I want them to work that I forget that I really shouldn’t be in control. My plans, even my best plans, are tainted by my imperfection. My sin. I cannot escape that fact.

But God has been telling me over the last few days to stop trying to take over for him. A good reminder for me is Philippians 4: 6-7 where Paul is reminding the people of Philippi that they should not worry about what will come next for them.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
So, please be praying with the rest of us for Matt and Hillary as they recover from the flu and be reminded that we are not in control. God’s plan is perfect, and he wants the best for you. Let him lead you to that perfection, because I can tell you from personal experience that you can’t make it there on your own.

10 things you need to get ready for winter tour

(speaking from experience here)

One:  Make sure you set a reminder to sleep and wake up at a reasonable time to fix all of your jetlag from winter break. Or at least try to..

Two: PLASTIC water bottles. Make sure you stay hydrated during flu season.

Three: Two pairs of pajama pants. One for wearing to sleep, and the other for wearing under your pants to keep you warm.

Four: Sunglasses. It gets really bright outside when the snow keeps reflecting the sunlight into your eyes.

Five: Thick gloves, thick socks, anything else that’s thick to cover your extremities. Frostbite is a real thing.

Six: Someone tall. You need someone like that to be able to scrape the snow off the top of the van and the trailer.

Seven: Passport. You need that to cross the border into Canada. And to cross the border back into the United States.

Eight: Canadian money. At least, if you want to take back home some maple syrup as a souvenir.

Nine: Some reasonable way of keeping time. I keep forgetting to change my watch whenever we change time zones. I keep thinking I’m waking up at 7am when I’m really waking up at 5am..

Ten: Yeah I only have nine things I can think of right now. Guess the tenth thing I need is sleep..

Canada Photo Update!

Hey everyone!

We are currently in Boissevain, MB, Canada!  We’ve been working with a church up here and we’ve been having a great time.  I’m gonna show you some pictures to tell you a bit more about our experiences!

Here’s me – hard at work at the sound board.  Mixing has definitely been a big growing experience, but I love what I do so much!  It’s a blast!

 

Here’s our trusty van and trailer in the snow.  Can you see it?  It blends in pretty well…

 

We got to play at a Sunday morning service at a church in Boissevain!

 

O Canada!  We got to release our inner Canadian and play some broom ball on an outdoor iceskating rink in town!

 

We’re all still alive despite the cold.  Haha.  This picture was actually taken outside of a mall in Grand Forks, ND.

 

So you better watch out! 14:21 is heading to Fargo, ND tomorrow and maybe to a city near you!

See ya soon!

-Matt