Who Can You Build Up?

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My heart breaks for the lives of young men and women that are treated unfairly and given up on. I believe everyone deserves a chance to be able to overcome the struggles and battles they face. Everyone has a story and for a brief moment, I want you to hear a quick story from my life.

Many people see the work I do now and celebrate what has transpired over the course of my life but check this out… If my coaches in high school/college would have done a background check on my teenage years they would have discovered, I had 3 MIP’s, sold weed, smoked weed, skipped school, had poor grades at some point (1.2 GPA) and got drunk they would not have wanted me to a part of their program.

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It was very easy to find faults in my character, to display my weaknesses and hold me to the standard of my choices. However, the few people that were close to me were able to see I was just a hurting, lost and broken teen being influenced by my surroundings and making decisions based off of my broken emotions. They saw that I was a teen that needed guidance, love, support, encouragement and someone to believe in me.

If I was never loved through the wrongs I committed and the poor choices I made, then I would have never had the opportunity to earn a high school degree, two college degrees, soon to be master’s degree, earn a Division 1 basketball scholarship, become an NAIA All – American basketball player, married and be able to become a student pastor.

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I share this because when a person hits a low in life, people are quick to point, judge, condemn and beat down. Before you go and label someone as a thug, gangster, low-life and as someone that may not ever change, first learn their story and understand why they are making poor decisions.

Without people believing in me and of course God, I would either be dead or in prison. Based on the choices I was making as a teen, I was supposed to be apart and given up to the system.

God can use you to make a difference in someone’s life. There are people out there, young men and women that need to be heard; they need someone to listen, love them, support them, challenge them, and help them process how to make it in this world.

My questions for you:

Will you be the person you needed when you were at your weakest and prayed for someone to help you?

Who can you build up?

Who is the person in your life that you can walk alongside, encourage and help grow?

Who is the teen that needs your love and support?

Who can you mentor and not give up on?

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P.S. Think about these words, pray on them and remember: Be the change the world needs to see and as you do this; one day you will look up and realize, you influenced a lost teen to turn their life around to be a difference maker in this world.

In love,

J. Scott Samarco

When It Felt Like Everything Fell Apart

When it felt like everything fell apart

The battle.

It was the year 2011. My life was slowly beginning to fall apart. I had lost some close friends I trusted, was lied to by multiple people, lost a job, lost one of my best friends to a tragic death, and I had moved back home with my mom and was sleeping on the couch and in a bed on the floor in the basement.

Everything seemed dark to me. I wasn’t questioning God and wondering why I was going through this valley. I understood life is not perfect, and everyone at some point has to go through something tough, I was just wondering how long the dark season would last.

I don’t know about you, but when I am in darkness, my heart, my thoughts and my emotions seem to be off. My heart is usually heavy, my thoughts are distorted, and my emotions aren’t as controlled as I would like them to be.

So what did I do?

I got away…

The summer of 2011, I spent in another state with one of my closest friends. I had saved up some money before I lost my job. I just needed to get away from home, gather my thoughts, think a lot and begin to work on what my next steps would be.

We can only be in the valley for so long. At some point, we have to come back up.

Feeling lost, out of place, not significant and wondering when a change was coming, I decided I would not complain and mope around. Instead, I would fight back. Yes, the universe and my world were dark, but there is a greater power in me that is capable of shining light.

I needed God to begin shining His light!

My friend that I was staying with in 2011 summer, I remember attending a church service with him. I don’t remember what the minister was saying; I just know I got extremely emotional and began to cry. I remember my friend looking at me in disbelief and shock as if he’d never seen a “grown man” cry.

At this moment, he didn’t judge, or tell me to suck it up. Instead he asked was I okay and just put his arm around me (I guess he gave me a bro hug).

I just needed support. I was grieving and mourning for months. The weight of the world and all of my thoughts got too heavy for me to carry alone. So I just cried. I let it out and released everything. I’ve learned that crying is good for the soul and as ET the Hip Hop Preacher once said: “Don’t cry to quit. Cry to keep going.” That’s what I was doing.

The darkness began to fade away, and I knew one day God would allow the light to get brighter.

All felt lost and apart but having friends and a God that cares, I knew there was hope. 2011 was one of the worst years of my life. Tough as that year was, I needed to go through it. My valley experience in 2011 allowed me to see and feel what it is like to do life alone. I’ll end with this: Life is not meant to be experienced alone.

From the bottom of my heart. I love you. I thank you for reading this. God is good even when it feels like everything has fell apart.

Summer 2011 in Memphis, TN

My best friend’s brother and Unc at the funeral.

 

God, Why Is It Hard to Love You?

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You’ve been there before right? Telling God how much you love Him. Praising Him for all of the good times. Thanking Him for making it through all of the difficult seasons in life. We’ve all been there before. It seems more times than often we can give God great lip service.

Surely, God is the center of our life. Surely, He is the best thing that has ever happened to us. Surely, He’s been there for us through the good, bad and the ugly. But wait… Why do we have a problem with loving God?

Love, as we know it, is an action. It is a verb, meaning we should be acting upon the love we say we have. What I want to draw to your attention in this post is how our love should be lived out daily, not just talked about daily. In particular, our love to God. Our love to God should come out of obedience. Here’s why I believe this: Take a look at this verse.

“If you love Me, keep my commands.” – John 14:15

This verse continues to work on my heart. In other words, Jesus is saying here, “if you really are about that life, if you really are down with me then you will follow what I say.” He didn’t quite say it like that but sometimes I translate in the hood version so I can better understand.

 Here’s my thought towards obeying and following Jesus words. Following Jesus commands is not a bad thing. Think about it, what bad in your life can come out of following Jesus?

“You don’t have a sin problem, you have a love problem.” – Henry Blackaby

“If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.” – 1 John 4:20-21

I’ve been there before. Being full with hatred in my heart, not quite understanding why it was there, I had to desperately seek God for years. I had to cry out to Him, have long talks and walks with Him. Many times I had to ask God to rid the anger and hatred in my heart. I still don’t fully understand why this hatred was there. All I know is, God, over the years helped me overcome this hate. Maybe, you need to allow Him to do the same for you.

My last thought towards why it is hard to love God is the love we are to have for our brother(s) and sister(s). If the love of God is in us then how can we hate another human being? If God’s love is in us, how then can we say I hate this person? We love a God we have never seen and we hate a person we have seen? Nah, that is not the love of God in us.

“If you have a hard time loving people, you have a hard time loving God.”

P.S. God wants to destroy the hate in your life and fill it with love. Trust me, He had to do this for me!

Patterns

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I love when God gives me revelation and new insights to my life. The other day I was driving down the road and I began to think about patterns in my life, even certain patterns since child hood. The wheels began to turn (no pun intended) in my mind. What I am going to share with you are battles I have faced or face. I believe these battles with patterns may help some of you with certain patterns in your life. If we can recognize what patterns affect us negatively I believe we can bring great change to our lives!

Okay, here are some patterns I have observed in my life: 

Pattern of word without great follow through: Meaning, we give our word to something. We get excited and want to be apart something life changing and great but our follow up and follow through with our word/action is not our best effort. Can you relate?

Pattern of commitment for a short period of time: This kind of goes hand and hand with the first one but differs in a sense. With this pattern we are committed for a period of time and we slowly begin to either fade away or completely drop off.

*Short time commitments can be good but if others do not know upfront how long you plan on being committed, you will hurt others more than yourself. Not a good recipe for success and bridge building.*

Pattern of progress and then drop off: You’re working hard, you are progressing, you begin to see results and then you stop working as hard. This I see often when it comes to eating healthier and working out to get in better physical shape.

Pattern of achieving what you want and then complacency sets in: You worked hard to get what you want, to get to where you wanted to be, you achieved something and now that it is achieved you’re not motivated to keep on pushing.

I wanted to share these and be transparent with you because I know these patterns aren’t just present in my life but in the lives of others as well. In my line of work, in my friendships and relationships I have conversations and from my observation and conversations I realize with these patterns I am not the only one that struggles and battles with these in life.

What are we to do? How can we truly create change and mean it?

Here is where I am landing and have landed:

  • Create accountability with someone fighting the same battle.
  • Do one thing at a time.
  • Say no and don’t feel bad about it.
  • Pray really hard and often.
  • Find the root problem of the pattern.
  • Ask yourself, why is this pattern so significant and why is it there?
  • Seek wise counseling about the patterns in your life.
  • Hold yourself accountable.
  • Do not self condemn when you fall short or mess up.

The unique thing about patterns are, you can create new ones. Patterns aren’t set up for one specific design. They can be altered to create new ones. Whatever patterns you have identified in your life, it is time to make some adjustments. It’s time to make some shifts. It is time to be the designer. We have to grab a hold of our lives and there is no better time than right now. There is power in patterns. Let’s let the power of patterns in our life effect us in positive ways.

P.S. – I would love to hear from you. What are some patterns you’ve noticed in your life? What are you willing to share about this to help others?

I am A Christian and I Still Struggle

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It is often thought of, when a person comes to Christ all of their pain, struggles, doubts, worries, and troubles are over but this my friend is not usually the case. In fact, sometimes the struggles intensifies. The question you may be thinking… How is it, when a person has found salvation and freedom in Christ, they continue to have some of the same struggles they had before Christ?

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, He/She is a new creation. Old things have passed away, behold the new has come.” – 2 Corinthians 5:17

When Christ finds a person in their mess, in their sin, in their darkness, He awakens them. In other words, when God calls/brings a person to Him, He is opening their eyes and their hearts to confess of their sins, repent of their sins and seek forgiveness for their sins. God is saving their soul. He is giving birth to a new spirit in them. The person who was once dead to the wicked works of this world is now made alive in Christ. The old sins, the old soul, the old bad decisions, the old mistakes are now dead and behold the newness of God has now come. The question I want to direct our attention to; what is the new that has now come?

Many confuse the new with a brand new life. This is true in a sense. You have a new life in Christ, a new perspective on life, a new hope and a new power inside of you (Holy Spirit). But let us not confuse a new life in Christ for a new life in the day to day. What I mean by this is… For example, and I hope this doesn’t seem extreme. Say a person has been a part of a gang, selling drugs, running the streets tough and then he/she finds Christ. This person has found a new life but at the same time they have to struggle through with their consequences of their former life before Christ. Although we find Christ and we are made anew we still have to deal with the consequences of sin before we found Christ.

That is one example. A familiar example that speaks for the general. Each person that God grants salvation to is redeemed and apart of God’s Kingdom. However, some of the struggles the person was living with before Christ may continue on once the person is with Christ. However, 🙂 the person that has found Christ now has a power in them to keep them, to sustain them, and help them with these struggles. The argument here is, Christians do struggle. However, 🙂 🙂 struggling is not a sin!

Paul, who was once called Saul was a murderer of Christians. When Christ found Him, he was a fierce man, brutal in all of his ways that Christians feared. God gave Saul a mission to go teach and preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Many knew Saul and even after God saved him, he was still feared. Christians did not want to be around him and did not trust him. Even as a follower of God, Saul still had to deal with the consequences of his former life before Christ. This was not an over night process for Saul to walk away from the reputation of being a murderer. The same stands for you and I and all those who come to Christ.

Alright, let me bring this to a close. To struggle means to fight, to continue, to strive and to achieve. I may have struggles, they may be hard but this does not mean I am giving into my struggles. The struggles may bring pressure, the struggles may make my life a bit harder but this does not mean I am still living in sin or am I not a Christian. If you remember what Paul talked about in 2 Corinthians 12. He mentioned how God had given him a thorn to keep him from boasting, to keep him weak so that He can lean on the power of God. I believe God grants some struggles in our lives so that we can depend on the power of God. My struggles keep me crying out to God, my struggles keep me humble, my struggles remind me of how weak I really am and my struggles remind me God has me in His hand. He will not leave me nor forsake me. His grace is sufficient in my time of weakness! His grace is sufficient in my struggles!

P.S. Christ can deliver people from their struggles when they come to Christ. God works according to His will. The hope of this blog was to address the fact Christians do have struggles and can still struggle once they have come to Christ.

A person in Christ will have struggles. There is no way around it. Our salvation is still in Christ and Christ is greater than our struggles. Amen!?

Please push back. I would love to hear from you. God bless!