5 More Things Going Into 30

2 DAYS until I turn 30 (February 18th). The last month I’ve been reflecting on the last 30 years and gearing up for the next 30. Reflecting on the past 3 decades I have learned a couple of lessons that I pray to not re-learn going forward. Over the next couple of days I will have a sereis of lessons that I have learned and or am learning that I hope to share for the soul purpose of having them published so I never forget. So this is Things going into 30 part 3… in 5 parts. :)

1. Jesus is the bar.

Specifically as it relates to pursuing my faith, trying to define whether or not I’m radically pursuing Jesus based on how those around me has always led to narcism. Jesus is not an idea, or belief system, He’s a human man who is also God. Therefore loving Him requires solidarity in focus. When I’m comparing my walk with God to someone else’s my end becomes to be like them, and not like Jesus. In trying to be like other people you become obsessed with everything you do. You passionately try to make sure it appears as though you are meeting the standard that their life seems to have produced. Your walk with Christ becomes less about His glory and more about your glory. It becomes about gaining praise from those you are striving to emulate. If there is one lesson I’ve learned over the last 30 years, it’s that Jesus sees me. He sees everything I do. When I believe that He sees me, I don’t care who else see me. When I believe He sees me, He becomes the one I fight to be like. My pursuit is Him, not anyone or anything else.

2. Seek faithfulness not opportunity

It’s especially easy and in many scenarios wise to be looking ahead to see where you are going. In life the opportunity to step into your dreams, or the opportunity to do something great will come. When it comes there is nothing that stings more than letting it pass you by. However I’ve found that there is much wisdom in bearing that sting and watching opportunity slowly drift off over the horizon.

Over the last decade I’ve been offered jobs 8 times my current annual salary. (which isn’t that big consider my current anual salary :) ) Positions with influence, events with famous people, and jobs with ability to give me everything I could want. I’ve been blessed over the years, and I’ve been blessed to politely decline over the years as well. Why? Because of that man named Jesus on that throne in Heaven. When I close my eyes I see that throne, and I think about the account I will have to give to Him about my life one day. When I weigh how certain opportunities would distract from my pursuit of His heart, the maintaining of my wife and kids, the stability of a tender heart when I’m older, if it’s a threat, it’s out.

When I was a teenager I learned this concept from my ever wise mother. I was having the typical just turned 18 and have no idea what I’m going to do with my life existential crisis. One night I broke down in tears stressed out by the expectations I felt others had on my life, the expectations I had on my life and the perceived pressure to have it all figured out that very moment. I’ll never forget she sat me down on the couch and made me look into her eyes. She said, “Son I don’t care if you are a missionary or a business man. If you end up doing nothing else with your life and the sum of your accomplishments is working at McDonald’s. If you are in love with Jesus with your whole heart, mind, soul, and strength- I will be the proudest mother a son could ever have.”

I’m sure many things will be said of my life, but may the theme and story of Zack Hensley be a man passionately pursuing the heart of Jesus and nothing else. It’s all that matters.

3. Be the little blue truck.

My daughter has this book about a little blue truck. It works hard everyday and always gets its work done.  He is intentional about stopping along the way to visit with all the animals around the farm and to help them out while getting his work done. Then a big “important” yellow truck comes plowing through the farm. He doesn’t have time to visit with the animals or help them with anything. Then one day the yellow truck plows through a mud puddle and gets his “big important wheels stuck”. He calls out to the animals and anyone who would hear to help him out of the puddle but “no one heard (or really cared)”. Then the little blue truck came along and tried to help him free, but he also got stuck. He called out for help and everyone came running to help him out of the mud. They pushed him and he pushed the big “important yellow truck”. The animals got him free and in turn the little blue truck gave them all a ride.

The moral? Often times I have been the “big important yellow truck” plowing through life, with no time to stop and visit or help anyone. My goal as I turn 30 is to be more like the little blue truck. To care just as much about building strong and lasting relationships with people as much as I care about the jobs that I have to do.

4. Cry often

There is nothing worse in this life then having a heart that is dull. A dull heart can’t love. It can’t empathize, serve well, or understand. A dull heart is the quickest way to a lifeless and loveless marriage. A dull heart turns well intentioned ambition into self serving promotion. A dull heart swings open the door to anxiety, depression, and bitterness. Worse of all a dull heart can’t love God.

Catching myself tearing up during worship, or when I tell my wife I love her is a suitable metric for the tenderness of my heart. If life seems hard, and my heart begins to feel dull there is a good chance that it’s been weeks since my eyes got a little misty. I don’t mean I need to find my self, head in hands, weeping on a regular basis. I just mean if my daughter sneaking across the room climbing onto my lap and saying “Dad,  I love you very much. you’re beautiful too!” doesn’t get my eye lids wet, something is wrong. If singing the old hymn “It is Well With My Soul” doesn’t get me teary by the time I get to the part “And Lord haste the day when my faith becomes sight” something is wrong. I pray that when I’m 60 have have a reputation for being a “cryer”.

5. Do things smaller

If I’ve learned anything it’s that you are never too busy. I mean it. Every time I think I’m too busy to do things like read a book, write a book, serve at a downtown soup kitchen, I look at my schedule realize in order to read a book I’m looking for 3 to 4 hours to sit and read. So instead of blocking out 4 hours to read I block out 30 minutes. If you focus, 30 minutes can be very productive.

I used to say I didn’t have the time to write a book, so I started watching entertainment less. Lo and behold I gained an hour each night. Instead of trying to find 2-3 hours at a time with friends I focus and have more meaningful conversations in an hour lunch then I ever did spending 3 hours at the movies. Instead of spending 2 hours a day e-mailing. I schedule 30 minute meetings, and spend 10-15 minutes before hand outlining the topic of conversation. That 30 minutes solves hours of e-mail back and forth for the next 2 weeks. This means being able to do the things important to you while increasing time in the two areas I care about most: Prayer and Family.

Doing things smaller and more focused means I get to be the man I hope I am when I’m 60: A lover of Jesus, A husband my wife thanks God for, and Father to my kids that makes the Lord smile.

Things Going into 30: Leave The Volume on Ten, Bob Your Head and Don’t Stop.

10 days until I turn 30 (February 18th).The last month I’ve been reflecting on the last 30 years and gearing up for the next 30. Reflecting on the past 3 decades I have learned a couple of lessons that I pray to not re-learn going forward. Over the next couple of days I will have a sereis of lessons that I have learned and or am learning that I hope to share for the soul purpose of having them published so I never forget. So this is Things going into 30 part 2.

Lesson 2: Leave The Volume on Ten, Bob Your Head and Don’t Stop.

My whole life I’ve loved rap music. In 7th grade I won breakdancing contests. When
walking the 2 and a half miles home from school I’d often practice freestyling. “Walking home from school these suckas with cars think I’m a fool, but it’s ok because I’m no tool, if they really wanna hate, they’d better step up and duel.” Stuff like that over and over, I’d practice a wide variety of subjects from “I wish I had a car to take me real far” to “Jesus blood never fails me, its crimson flood cleans me, frees me, and forever feeds and satisfies my soul so if you want to find me on my knees I’ll be”. I listened to but could never really get into Tupac, Bones Thugs, Nas, DMX etc. Every time I did I felt my heart dry up. So I stuck with Christian rap, T-Bone, Cross Movements, Grits, The Ambassador etc. Most people gave me a hard time for listening to cheesy Christian rap. So I would never admit to it, or let anyone catch me listening to them. I would force myself to know just enough about Tupac, Jay-Z and the rest of the motley collection of up and coming rappers of the nineties. I wanted to be able to act like they were my favorite at school, when at home I was head bobb’n to T-Bone’s “Street Preacha”.

If I’ve learned anything over the years it’s that being a chameleon to what people think you should be or want you to be is the worst kind of bondage. Too often my heart wanted to radically pursue God. I wanted to turn off movies and TV, tune out anything not of God and seek after Him with my whole heart. Yet too often I would give up that dream because the people around me felt like that was religious or that it in some way alienated them. So I would cave. I would dial down. I would pursue my faith to the measure of intensity those around me did. In essence I would sell out, and I hated it.

Looking around me now, many of my peers are dialing down. Prayer goes from hours a day, to a few hours a week, to a few minutes a day, to worship on Sunday and try to blend in with the culture the rest of the week. I don’t judge them for this. I love them and hope to stay in their lives. But as for me, I want something more. As I approach the next 30 years I want to be going harder after God when I’m 60. I want to be sold out and unashamed about my desire to live a life of prayer and fasting. I want to be water to a thirsty world ignorant of the gospel. I want to cultivate a flame on the inside that keeps me next to the relevant flame of God’s heart that I may be useful to my friend Jesus in minstring the gospel the next 30 years. I want to live my life in such a way that He receives the greatest amount of glory from my days and nights. For no other reason except that Jesus is worthy. I want their to be oil in my lamp when He comes.

Since high school Christian rap has come a long way. Cross Movements are still going strong, and in 2005 the greatest thing to happen to Christian music happened. Reach Records presented a fiery group of gospel preaching rappers called the 116 clique. Lecrae, Tedashii, Trip Lee, Sho Baraka, D.A. T.R.U.T.H., and others were not only some of the sickest rappers I’d ever heard, their content caused my heart to worship and eyes to cry with love for Jesus. Today I’m no longer a teenager. I’m a Father of two, married, and a home owner. I wear collar shirts, sport coats, and some would call me ethnically challenged to love rap music the way I do, but I’ve learned from the years past. Who cares what people think. Turn that junk up to ten and let your head bob long into your 80′s.

Your money your singleness marriage talent and time 
They were loaned to you to show the world that Christ is Divine 
That’s why it’s Christ in my rhymes 
That’s why it’s Christ all the time
See my whole world is built around him He’s the life in my lines 
I refused to waste my life 
He’s too true to chase that ice 
Here’s my gifts and time cause I’m constantly trying to be used to praise the Christ 
If he’s truly raised to life
Then this news should change your life 
And by his grace you can put your faith in place that rules your days and nights.

-Lecrae Song: “I Don’t Wanna Waste My Life”

Things Going Into 30

11 days until I turn 30 (February 18th).The last month I’ve been reflecting on the last 30 years and gearing up for the next 30. Reflecting on the past 3 decades I have learned a couple of lessons that I pray to not re-learn going forward. Over the next couple of days I will have a sereis of lessons that I have learned and or am learning that I hope to share for the soul purpose of having them published so I never forget. So this is Things going into 30 part 1.

Lesson 1: Just Jump

One of my best friends growing up, Chris, is a smart, darring, humble, shrewd human being. Yet I had never seen such a confident terrestrial male reduced to such a hesitant, afraid mush-ball of worry as when we went cliff diving in high school. Most of us hiked up the cliffs, dove off, hiked up, dove off etc. I’ll never forget how the face of the most confident guy I had ever met filled with such daunting bafflement as he stood at the top of the cliff and starred at the water. Four hours later after having had his fill of our taunts and friendly jabs at is lack courage he conceded and jumped. He emerged from the water having regained his confidence, “That wasn’t that bad.”

I could honestly sum up much of the last 30 years using the picture of Chris waiting to jump of the cliff. That’s not to say I didn’t jump often in life, but the emotional drama and anxiety that ensued in my heart and mind through out most of my teens and twenties was wasted energy. It was me thinking I knew how my story should be told, and when things didn’t look like the version in my head I freaked. The thing is, 100% of the time each journey, each story ended how I wanted it to. However just not in the way I thought it would. God’s promises to us are absolute. I learned that saying that was one thing, believing it was another. Take marriage for example. I spent the better part of my twenties (18-24) emoting about how I was probably never going to get married. I got so terrified that I was unloveable that in the end I got terrified of love it self. Yes, at times I have been known to have the emotional stability of a 16 year old teenage girl hoping a senior notices her and takes her to prom, but I digress.

When the women of my dreams came along, I spent the majority of our relationship staving off panic attacks because everything was going TOO well. In the end I starred at that water down below the cliff, watched it shimmer in the sunshine, took a deep breath and made the wisest decision of my life to date: I forced myself over the edge.

I emerged with a smile.

The first lesson I have learned is to jump every time I feel that terrifying irrational fear. I’m not talking about the pit in your stomach when you know something might be wrong, that’s called discernment and different from fear. I’m talking about the place where logic and God say one thing but the torrent of fear and emotion say another. When fear clouds your vision and keeps you from walking in your destiny. You have to stare that cloud in the face, and no matter how tight the grip of fear chokes, you have to use any and every last bit of energy possible and force yourself to take that leap. You can’t run from that fear, or let it overtake you. You have to take authority Jesus gave us at the cross, renounce it’s hold on you and press forward whether or not it has subsided. It’s feels like trudging through quicksand, but in the end you will conquer that fear, and emerge with a smile.

You just have to jump.