Jun 1, 2015

The Knight in Shining Armor

Uncle Michael gave me a call yesterday. That man is one of my heroes. If you’ve ever met him, you wouldn't ever forget him. I’ve most likely taken you to his barn at some point. He paints beautifully, and sometimes dresses up as William Wallace for St. Patrick’s day (I know, Neither William or Patrick were Irish, but we still love them both the same). One thing I love about Uncle Michael is his ability to discern a moment, and say exactly what needs to be said at the right time. I mean, sometimes the ground shakes when he says one of his famous one liners, I’m sure of it. 

“I want to look like a Knight, but I don’t want to bleed like one.”

Now, I know this isn’t his quote, he must have read it somewhere in some book. Maybe it’s a famous quote. Whatever the case, I needed to hear it precisely at that moment. 

Recently some events have happened in my life that have caused me to question how serious I am about some of my past prayers. You know those prayers that you say at the altar that you really want to mean, but if it actually happened you wouldn’t wish it on your worst enemy? Things like “I want to know you more” or “I surrender everything to you”. Basically the worship songs we sing that we really don’t mean because if we did the world today would be filled with far less selfishness… but I digress. I am beginning to think that these prayers are completely essential and needed in order to truly find Jesus Himself. 

For those Christians who think that a life with Jesus is all butterflies and chocolate candies on your pillow every morning, I hate to break it to ya - it’s just not. To know Jesus takes time, effort, sacrifice, and surrender. Most people are okay with the time part. Going to church is time. But the sacrifice and surrender? Sheesh… I have a very difficult time with those curse words. Far too many of us want to “know the Lord” but we don’t want to go through the refining process that comes along with a life of knowing Jesus. The Lord asks us to surrender so many things that we think are “Godly” or “of the Lord” but in reality they could be taking your eyes off of what is really important - Glorifying Jesus. A life completely surrendered to Jesus is a life that brings the most Glory to Him. That’s what this whole life thing is all about - Jesus. His Glory. His fame. The question you really need to ask your self is - are you willing to endure the refining process to be who the Lord has called you to be? Are you willing to bleed a little? 

Oh, but the pain! What about MY desires!? It’s going to be painful. You’re going to get mad. The beauty of a relationship with Jesus is that He loves us more than we know and can handle our complaining. 

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” - Psalm 37:4

The heart is a wicked thing. It lies. You have no idea what your desires really are. That’s why it is essential to surrender to the Lord. When you surrender to Jesus your desires, your life, He will show you what your true desires are. Know Him more. 

I don’t really know why God does things the way He does, and I’ve learned long ago some things I’ll never fully understand. But I know this: If your heart desires to know Him more it’s going to be a painful, refining process. That’s what I know. I’m sure Abraham, Moses, Joseph, David and all the other heroes of the faith knew that as well. What I am learning is that it is essential and worth it to become who the Lord has called you to be - another thing that our heroes of the faith also learned. 

To be a Knight, you're going to have to bleed. In the end you will be who you’re called to be. 

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Aug 14, 2014

To hell in a hand basket

I'll be honest. I'm not one to shy away from an opinion. I love a good discussion (especially if it's on something I know about, but sometimes I'll even ignorantly share my thoughts). I've been doing a lot of thinking in the midst of this social network day and age, and I've come to one conclusion: what's the point?

This week I have seen more blogs posted & opinions stated than I've ever seen on social network. Usually I'm not typically affected by these posts, but this week I have been filled with heartache over them.

The slaughtering of Christians in Iraq - terrible. Gungor accused of heresy - uh oh. Robin Williams commits suicide - Can this week get any worse? Vicki Beeching (famed worship leader/singer songwriter) comes out as being gay - que the Christian stoning. There was almost a major controversy for each day this week being debated by Christians. Yet there are still people starving in the world. People are being tortured right now. Children are being trafficked in our back yard. What is the point of discussion without action? 

I find that sometimes I get caught in this redundant Christian bubble. I stay at home and pray, but I can count on one hand the times I've went out and prayed for the sick in the last month. It's dangerous when we become all talk and no action. 

Nobody cares about your opinion on creation, suicide, murder, or homosexuality. What have you done today to spread the love of Christ? 

Now, don't get me wrong - It is very important to have your own views on essential and non-essential doctrine (I posted my thoughts on the Gungor controversy a few days ago). I'm not writing this to discourage you from sharing your thoughts. I'm writing this to challenge myself and my fellow believers to do something more than talk. I don't want to be a Christian who just debates. I want to be a Christian who is spurred to action. In the end, it's not going to matter what your view on homosexuality is. What is going to matter is this: Did I use the influence and resources God has given me to bring people closer to Him? 

So go - debate the night away. Share your thoughts on important topics! But even more so - feed the homeless, pray for the broken, give your waitress a HUGE tip, love people. That is what is going to win a crazy, messed up world for Jesus. Not your opinion on young earth creation. 

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Jan 29, 2014

Avoiding the Mediocre Rut

I get to do a lot of fun things. I like to think I'm a pretty lucky guy because I get to travel the country (and Canada too - if they play their cards right), play music, and play music with a bunch of wonderful artists that I now consider great friends. However, most of the time this happens in very short stints of time. 

It's funny to see the looks on peoples faces sometimes when I tell them that come Monday at 7am, I'll be standing in a factory assembling air & gas filters. 

Here's the thing. I used to loathe waking up and going to work every day. I used to get frustrated because I didn't think working in an assembly line is what God's ultimate plan for my life was. I want to be on the road all the time. I want to be preaching & singing & praying for people. 

I think there's a big problem with our 20-something culture. We have a twisted view on purpose sometimes. We think that if we are pushing 25 years old and not immediately doing what God has "called" us to do, we aren't succeeding at life - and therefore are unwilling to happily succeed in things that we deem outside of our calling. This leads to bitterness, anger, and depression if you're not too careful. 

What we need to remember is - God has you right where He wants you to be. So begin to thrive where He has placed you. 

I began to thank God that first of all - I had a job. I can do fun things because I have a job. I can buy people things because I have a job. I can eat food... I love food. It's all about the way you look at it. I actually don't mind going in to work everyday now. 

There is no such thing as mediocrity with the right mindset. 

If you're not happy with your life situation, If you think you're not getting anywhere in what God has you doing at the moment, maybe you need to shift your mindset a little bit. Maybe you need to think about the people around you that God has put in to your life for this season. Maybe you should pray for them instead of complain to them. Start looking at the blessings in life instead of focusing on the mundane. There's something good to find in everything, if you look hard enough. 

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Jan 16, 2014

Intimacy

Intimacy come before identity. Where do I find my identity? How do I secure it in Christ? Intimacy. 

I went on a walk through the woods a few weeks back. I enjoy a good walk through the wilderness. I needed to clear my head and heart of a lot of thoughts and things. I wound up running into a group of 9 deer sitting around staring at me. After a quick staring contest, I jolted at them and chased them deep into the woods, I like to be random like that. I wound up in the middle of the woods, nothing but snow and the sound of wind crackling the barren trees. It was wonderful. Peaceful. Exactly what I needed. I felt God there. I thought to myself "man, imagine if I sat in the house and watched football... I wouldn't have found this!" 

What if the reason why you're not hearing from God is because you lack the intimacy to hear? Our society is terrible at waiting. I'm an impatient person. I never want to wait for anything. Even more so, I want answers to my questions rather quickly. No waiting. I want it now. This has been an incredible hinderance in my prayer life. If God doesn't speak to me in the first 3 minutes of my prayer my mind is on to other things. I've begun to realize that the reason I forget my identity is (or should be) in Christ, is because I lack the intimacy to understand just how deep He wants my relationship with Him to be. 

Sometimes I have to chase God through the woods to get to a place where I can find rest. Sometimes it takes a while until I find that place of peace. Sometimes I have to give up on things I want to do, or people I want to be with in order to develop that one on one connection with my Father. That's where identity comes from. Through running through the wilderness searching for your Father. He's there. He wants to be heard. Just take the time to find Him. 

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Jan 2, 2014

New Year, New Hope

I want to blog more. Yes, this is a New Years Resolution of mine. I've blogged before, and before that... I think I've started a blog at least 27 times in my life (feel free to read some old blogs below - they're probably considered classics now). I always feel like I run out of things meaningful to say. The world is full of mindless chatter anyways. So I started thinking of this new year and the things I want to accomplish in it. I must admit, right now I have a "grab the bull by it's horns" type attitude. There's just something about a new year beginning that makes you feel like you're more than capable of conquering the world. I guess the sense of closure to a year helps bring about the motivation to succeed in the next. 

So I decided to write a blog. Then I saw on the ever faithful social networks all the negativity surrounding "New Years Resolutions". Talk about discouraging. All I wanted to do is try to succeed at a new thing. Since nobody actually thinks a new years resolution can succeed, why even bother? Well, ya know what I say to that? I think it's nonsense! 

I've realized in my life that there will always be people that say "don't try". Even if it's not directly to you, all you have to do is spend 5 minutes on the internet to get discouraged. It's ridiculous. Far too many times I have stopped blogging, or writing music, or playing sports, or whatever I put my mind to - all because of peoples opinions on the matter.

My main new years resolution this year - to stop caring so much about what people will think. I'm going to start blogging, and even if this is my last post in 2 years, I'm still going to try. Who cares if people even read? Do what the Lord has called you to do, and forget about what people are going to think about it. God has given you something to say. God has given you something to do. You don't have to blog it, but please share it. You don't have to be on a national platform to encourage someone. Make a resolution to encourage more, to help people. You may not succeed as much as you'd like, but try!  

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Oct 3, 2012

The NEW Collective

Hey guys,

Just wanted to take a quick second here to brag on a few of my friends :)

For the last few months, my good friends Nate Cronk, Mike Kim, and Chelsea Phillips have been working on an EP together under the name the NEW Collective (NEW standing for North East Worship). Basically they got together to write powerful songs for the church, and decided to record them so people can hear them. Grand idea, if you ask me.

Some of the NEW Collective (from left to right: Nate Cronk, Evan Thorpe, Mike Kim, Jeff Parshall, and Chelsea Phillips)

But the vision is more than that. (Check out this video from the NEW Collective kickstarter page. Mike shares a little bit from his heart about the project)

I'm really encouraged because this is something I've been praying about for a long time. I love the vision for this project. I love everything about the NEW Collective. A bunch of friends who share the same heart for the Lord and desire to see Jesus made more famous through their music. I've had the privilege of traveling with Nate, Mike, and Chelsea throughout the last year and helping out with the recording, and I am ecstatic to see the plan that God has for this unfold!

So... Would you consider helping out with this project? Check out the music video for the first single "Sing Hallelujah", go buy it on itunes, spread the word, buy the single for your Grandma, do whatever you can to help this vision come to pass! I believe in it, so should you!

CommentsTags Jeff Parshall Mike Kim Nate Cronk Chelsea Phillips NEW Collective Worship Sing Hallelujah

Sep 12, 2012

Life Update: The past, exciting news, and the present future

I get excited alot. I get excited very easily. Anybody who has witnessed me watch a football game knows this.

But... That is not the point of this blog. The point is I've had a lot of people ask me what I'm up to recently. So, I'm very EXCITED to share with you some of what's been going on in my life!

I recently returned from three long, yet glorious months on the road with a group called "Kingdom Force". What is KF you ask? Well, it's basically a traveling group of Jesus loving people who travel from church to camp to Canada to anywhere serving in any way, shape, or form. Spending my entire summer with these 5 friends (Bryan, Spence, Carleigh, Patricia, and Christy) was easily one of the best decisions I have ever made thus far in life. I had the privilege to be called their leader, and it was an incredible, eye opening experience. I literally felt like I matured 20 years in a 3 month process. You know how sometimes people come up to you and say things like "You've changed so much!" and you don't really ever see it? Well, this time I most definitely saw it.

(The A-team, Kingdom Force 2012)

Anyone who wants to see God move in a powerful way personally, and in ministry, should go do something crazy for God. Serve in soup kitchens, Preach on a street corner, pray for the man in the wheel chair. Ya know, crazy stuff that should be normal in the Christian life. The one thing I took away from this summer was this: You don't have to be a "minister" to be in "ministry". If you're a Christian, you're in ministry. Go serve the Lord. You don't have to join a traveling team to serve.

So what's next for Jeff? Well, since I've been back I began to work at Elim Bible Institute (shout out to the class of 2010!) assisting a former teacher and mentor Dick Grout in the music department. I've had a blast so far. I love this campus, and these people. I get to work doing what I love. I mean, you can't ask for more than that!

Ever since I left my job as Worship director at Victor Community Church last May, I feel like God has been teaching me how to walk in faith. It hasn't always been fun, and definitely hasn't been easy, but it's been worth it. I've been feeling for months now that God is releasing me to do what I've wanted to do for years: travel and worship through music and speaking. So, that's a big part of what I'm going to be doing (by the way, if anybody wants me to come to their Church/Youth group/Block Party/Fiesta, give me a shout at JeffParshallmusic@gmail.com). I can't even begin to explain how excited I am to see what God's going to do next in life!

Along with all the change, I am excited to announce that recently I began working with the talented Jesse Sprinkle at Bluebrick studios on a few new tunes that I'm looking to release in early November!

(Here's a shot from the first studio session earlier this week. Photo taken by Jesse Sprinkle.)

I feel like I haven't been able to share my heart through new music in a long time. It's been just over 3 years since my first and last CD release. So, like I said a thousand times before... I'm pretty excited!

My heart with this EP is to share with you the songs that have carried me through the last year or two. I am thankful to be a man who can say I've finally met Jesus for real, and has genuinely felt His love. I've decided to call this project the "Promises" EP,  because I know that no matter what happens, whatever I go through, His promises are true. His love never fails. His blood covers all my sin. He has made ME whole.

So dear friends of mine, please keep me in prayer through this time of transition. Though I am very thankful for where God has me, it certainly has it's challenges! Pray that everything continues to run smoothly with the recording. I cannot WAIT to share it with all of you! Stay tuned, the Promises EP is coming!

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Aug 23, 2012

The Value of Morality

"it's okay to not be okay. But it's not okay to be okay with not being okay" - Derek Levendusky

I was talking with a few people the other day about the harshness of evangelism. Let's be honest, sometimes it seems like we are either too scared to evangelize or too harsh to effectively evangelize. As I was talking, a friend of mine (who really could care less about Jesus) said this:

"Everyone has their own values and level of morality. You have yours, I have mine, and that's okay".

This statement honestly made me laugh inside (not outside of course, that would be offensive). I couldn't help but think of how inaccurate the last phrase he said was... "and that's okay".

How is that okay? Are you telling me that because a murderer has different values and a level of morality than mine that it's "okay" for him to deem it right to kill? That just because she has different values it's "okay" for a teenage girl to sell herself on the street to a man with different "morals" than mine? I refuse to believe that. It is not okay for a man to murder. It is not okay for a teenager to sell herself.

If you live by the "everyone has their own values and morals and that's okay" mentality, where do you draw the line? Value and morality should be based on the Word of God, and not social standards. Am I saying that every single person needs to have the same values and morals? not at all. I have different views on drinking and tattoos than some people. That's fine. There's no CLEAR biblical view on things like that. There is however, clear views on sexual sin, stealing, murder, and things of that nature.

Having the "and that's okay" mentality is just an excuse for people who are too afraid to bring up something that may sound offensive. Don't think that you're helping somebody out by not having the guts to speak out for what is right.

The one thing I can't seem to figure out is how to effectively demonstrate the love of Christ while standing up for truth. I struggle with this all the time. Am I standing up for truth and displaying Jesus' love while shoving my beliefs down someone else' throat? when I'm shouting at a street corner? When I'm silent while someone goes on a pro-choice rant? How about when I have the Jesus fish on the bumper of my car?

I guess the only person that can show me effective evangelism is Billy Graham...

Just kidding, it's Jesus.

Everyone says "the most effective thing to do is love others like Jesus". That sounds great, but I am still trying to figure out what that means. I mean, sometimes Jesus didn't sound like the nicest guy in the world. He said some pretty harsh things to the Pharisees. A lot of religious people didn't like Him. Hmmm...

Loving people like Jesus doesn't always look the same. Sometimes it's clean cut, sometimes it's messy. You may lose a friend or two. Jesus was so effective in His evangelism because He listened to what His Father was telling Him to do. He met people where they were at. Evangelism is a case by case basis. I didn't turn to my friend (whom I spoke of earlier) and scream down His throat because I disagreed. I assessed the situation and realized that in that moment showing the love of Christ meant saying "I disagree, but I love you".

My point here is this: desire such a relationship with Jesus that you are able to display His character in every situation. That's the best form of evangelism. That's our goal. To be like Jesus.

What are your thoughts?

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Aug 11, 2012

Camp, Camp, and more Camp

I've had the priviledge to serve at more than a few camps this summer. I love camps, my good friends always say I love camp too much. What can I say, I'm a sucker for exhaustion.

The one thing I could never figure out growing up in camp is why there was such a contrast in my walk with Jesus during the week of camp and the other weeks of the year. It constantly ticked me off how genuine I was at camp, only to turn back to the same person I was 4.5 days after camp. It was annoying. It was frustrating. It was dumb.

My prayer the last few weeks for the kids in the camps I've been at is that they have a genuine encounter with Jesus. Like a legit, face on the ground I feel Jesus moment. A moment where they look back and say "I've never been the same since". That happened to me my SR year of Bible college. It can happen to them at camp.

I realized something this past week. The one thing that constantly crippled me after a week of camp, and still does if I'm not careful is this:

Shame. Guilt.

This past week, I just got ticked off at those feelings. I'm sick of people (and myself) feeling ashamed or guilty in front of Jesus. The one thing that constantly brings us down from a spiritual high is when we do something wrong and think "Oh man, there goes the awesome feeling I had at camp. I'm not good enough for Jesus. I'm such a failure. I can never keep this walk with Jesus legit." Tell that piece of crap thought to shut up. Seriously. 

Jesus loves you. Regardless of what you've done or will do. He doesn't expect you to be perfect, even after that mountain top "I'll never be the same" experience. What he asks of us is to cling to Him. What He wants from us is a genuine, sincere relationship. You're going to fail Him, You're going to fall. It's how you handle that fall that matters. It's whether or not you choose to stay bruised on the floor when you trip up, or you grab His hand that's trying to pick you back up.

For the campers reading this: remember that even though the "camp feeling" may quickly die out, Jesus is still there. Jesus still wants that passion and relationship from you. But it's going to take effort just like any other relationship.

Don't let guilt and shame cripple you. Instead slap it in the face and tell it to shut up. You are a son or daughter of God.

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Jul 24, 2012

Perspective

It's all about perspective.

I was hanging out with a Pastor in Michigan a few days back, and he began to tell me a story about a tragic event he had a few years ago. Something caught on fire in their garage while they were gone and their entire house went down in flames. They lost everything, even their dog. As he was sharing I was thinking of all the "crappy" things that had happened in my life, and realizing how they were dull in comparison to what this family had gone through.

And then he began to talk about perspective. He talked about how he thanked the Lord for allowing Him to go through all that. He admitted it was a few dark years, but then he said something that blew me away... "I thanked the Lord for counting me worthy of going through it. "

Wow. Talk about a perspective shift. Thanking God for allowing you to go through terrible situations in life!? Thankful that God counted you worthy of  a burnt house, and losing all your valuables? how about the loss of a friend, or family member? Losing your job? Disease? the list goes on and on.

It got me thinking about how the only thing that matters in this life is the advancement of His kingdom. What's a house worth in heaven? or a car? or anything really except for knowing Jesus.

And He counts us worthy of going through trials. He strategically places us in circumstances so that with the right perspective we can rely on Him and use it for His glory.

I count everything as loss for the sake of knowing Jesus more (Philippians 3). That's what this Pastor was talking about. Thank you Jesus for allowing me to go through my hardships. It's through those hardships that I will be able to be used by You to relate to others. All for the advancement of Your kingdom.

"We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hopedoes not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." - Romans 5:3-5

Lord, forgive me for having the wrong perspective. Teach me to rejoice in my hardships, knowing that in the end. It's all for Your glory.

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