This week I had a few spare moments so I turned on ESPN to catch up on the daily sports news. For me, it’s a slow time of the year when it comes to sports. College football starts in 1 month and college basketball doesn’t start until November, so most the sports news right now is who is signing where and who got injured in practice, but on this day what I saw was something very different. Sitting for an interview on live TV was 10 time NBA All Star, Olympic Gold Medal winner, and 2003 Final Four MVP Carmelo Anthony. As a college basketball fanatic and all around basketball fan, getting to watch Carmelo from his National Championship at Syracuse in 2003 all the way through his NBA career has been amazing, but this interview was different. It didn’t take long to realize that instead of promoting the many accomplishments of Carmelo Anthony, the real reason for the interview was to answer all the questions surrounding his last few years on the court. As the discussion dived deeper into the misses and mistakes, you could almost see and feel Carmelo replaying those missteps on live TV. As a fan you never get to see the human side of the athletes we watch on TV, but in this moment I could see the vulnerability and humility of a man who has defined himself by the game in which he plays. At one particular moment, Stephen A Smith who is interviewing Carmelo, begins questioning the contracts Carmelo has signed and the teams that he has played for. As the camera focuses on Carmelo you can see him second guessing some of the directions that he had taken along his journey in the NBA, but sitting here now, 15 years later, there was nothing he could do to change the past. As I sat and watched, my mind went to a discussion Jesus was having with his disciples in John 16:13:
“However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. John 16:13 NKJV
I know it’s hard to feel sorry for someone who has had the opportunity to play professional basketball for 15 years and make over 150 million dollars doing it, but I did feel sympathy for Carmelo in this moment. You could hear the regret in his voice with some of his answers and see the desperation in his eyes for just wanting to play one more season. The “what could have beens” for him in this interview were championships, wins, and contracts but for me watching the TV I thought of all the memories I wish I could go back and change. Many decisions that I made were not harmful decisions, but could have been easier. For many of you reading this, you might never step foot on a basketball court, but you will step into a specific career or direction for your life. Wouldn’t you like to know that GOD is guiding you in all your decisions? I kept thinking about John 16:13 as the interview went on and I just couldn’t shake the thought that “what if we allowed ourselves to be led completely by the Holy Spirit?” Would we have these moments where we second guessed many of the decisions we made over the last 15 years? Would we look back on decades of our life and wish we could have done something different?
If you read the rest of John 16, Jesus is basically saying goodbye to his disciples and giving them guidance for when he is gone. In just a few short hours, Jesus would be standing before Pontius Pilot and his crucifixion would be at hand. Jesus knew that His time on Earth was winding down and in the short amount of time He had left, He gave the disciples a game changer when it came to living the rest of their lives. Of course, we now know Jesus was speaking of the Holy Spirit and the guidance that comes from being led by Him. As Christians, we have a huge advantage in this life because the GOD who created the entire universe lives on the inside of us and wants to lead us into all truth. We don’t have to wonder what direction we should go or decision we should make. The scripture says that “He will guide you into all truth” and “He will tell you things to come.” If He is telling us and guiding us, that means we need to ask and listen to what He is saying. Too often in our lives, we feel pressured to make an immediate decision and that ends up costing us in the future. Instead, let’s slow down and listen for the voice of the Holy Spirt. Let’s take some time to be still and listen to our Creator and really come to know where He wants to guide our life. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” GOD’s thoughts toward you are for peace, blessing, and hope, but we have to be listening. GOD wants to guide you and tell you the future of your life, the only question is, “Are you listening?”
It’s that time of the year when NBA basketball teams are drafting their best talent for the future. All the hard work has paid off for those that shined during their college years and now they have the chance to be the best pick! Watching the NBA draft reminded me of when we went blueberry picking this past April. Our oldest daughter is now a great age for this kind of activity. She was so excited to get her bucket and head out to the blueberry bushes and gather her bushel. My husband and I were a bit more strategic about which ones we picked. We wanted the plump, ripe berries that didn’t have any spots or blemishes. Some hadn’t ripened yet and some had been exposed to the elements a little too long and had started to get mushy. Our daughter had a different strategy- she wanted ALL the berries! She had a plan and she was going for it! She plucked and plucked and we tried to show her the ones that would be more suitable but still her basket had some that didn’t look edible in it. As we headed back to the checkout where they weigh your buckets, she was so proud! She showed us her berries and we tossed out some of the bad ones but overall she had accomplished her goal, gathering as many berries as she could! When I got home we washed the berries and I noticed some of ours that looked great on the outside had some bugs on the inside that we couldn’t see from just glancing at them.
Sometimes we can be like blueberries (who would have thought)...outwardly looking pretty beat up & maybe even feeling that way, then ultimately tossed aside by others because of what we “look or act” like. Or maybe we are all put together on the outside but on the inside we are looking like the hot mess express- maybe having unforgiveness, shame, regret, fear, grief, bitterness, addiction etc.. and feeling unqualified or unloved.
Crazy as it sounds, just like Brooklyn picked her berries without discrimination, God looks at us and chooses us despite our flaws as well. He doesn’t want to throw us out, He’s willing to take us in, wash off our dirt, and adopt us into His family. We are still his “number one pick.” To others, you may be flawed but to God you’re fearfully and wonderfully made.
“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:14 NIV.
This doesn’t negate that we should be progressive in our push towards being Christlike, but it means that God still wants us even at our worst-He can still see our potential even when we or others don’t. Because even on our best day, we are still far from perfect.
“We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind.” Isaiah 64:6 NLT
Thankfully our Heavenly Father looks at our hearts. He sees us in all our mess and imperfection and looks beyond that to see our inner man.
“That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day.” 2 Corinthians 4:16 NLT
Even when you feel like you’re last in line, bottom of the totem pole, the last man standing - God in all of His goodness would still choose you. He see’s the real you, and still calls you by name. He’s proud of His children. You are His number one pick!
“But now, this is what the LORD, your Creator says, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you [from captivity]; I have called you by name; you are Mine!” Isaiah 43:1 AMP
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Drew & Valerie Blackston
Anchor Movement was born out of the desire to reach others with message of Hope and Growth to a world that is drowning in oceans of hopelessness and swimming in rivers of confusion. In our own walk with God we have seen the faithfulness and goodness of our Creator in every area and trial that we have faced. We have seen death up close and personal, heartbreak that won't let you sleep, and uncertainty that drains a person of passion and desire for life. We've questioned our purpose, our destiny, and even our existence. Through it all, He has always been there. He was our Anchor when the storms blew in and the waves crashed on the shore of our lives. He was the rock that held during the hurricane. We felt like the disciples hollering at Jesus, asleep in our boat, "Lord, save us! Don't you care?" And he answered back, "You of little faith, why are you afraid?" He is this mighty Anchor that held us steady even when we felt like others had abandoned us. Through physical challenges and mental struggles, He is the Anchor that whispers "I will never leave you nor forsake you. I am the Lord your God." My God. Not their God, my friends God, or my parents God, but mine. It's personal. Where stories once held my faith, experiences have replaced that. Like Gideon said to the Lord, "Where are the miracles that we heard about from our fathers?" God said, "Go in this your might." Go in a new experience. Go in a deeper knowledge of Me and My goodness. Go. Two little letters with immense significance. How do we go? Where do we go? What happens when the paved turns into gravel and then dirt? What happens when the road is not clearly marked and we find ourselves questioning when we first started down this road? We have to keep moving.
You can't go without moving. Movement is essential to get from one place to the next. Jesus used movement to get from one city to the next. He used movement when he walked on the water in the midst of a mighty storm. He used movement to reach out his hand and heal the leper. He used movement when He carried His cross up Golgotha and He used movement when He walked out of the grave three days later. We are called to be anchored in Christ, but we are also called to move. God never intended for His message to stay on the inside or in our little circle. God called us to action. Anchor-Movement is that. We are Anchored to Jesus. His Word, His Life, His purpose is our Anchor. We are fixed in Him, but we are not idle. We are constantly moving and growing. Moving and growing closer to Christ in our personal relationship with Him and living this relationship out on a daily basis. We are not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, because it is the power of God that brings salvation. Biases do not keep us from the mission of the gospel. Preach the gospel to all people no matter their skin color, their culture, their nation, or their political background--all people. We are not ashamed of our God. It is through His goodness and mercy that we are saved and made whole and now we must go and tell the World. Our prayer is that God will use His message to make a lasting impact on the world around us. Not to us, but to His name be all the glory. We have this hope as an Anchor for our soul--hope that pushes towards movement---movement that brings salvation and deliverance. Let's go change the world.