Desperate Prayer

This is a sermon from several years ago by Pastor Joby Martin from Eleven22 during a series called Miracles. I remember watching this in person and by the end crying like a baby. I recently dug this up for a friend of mine in Scotland who’s going through a particularly difficult situation right now and I re-watched it last night. Again, cried like a baby.

Are you currently in the middle of a desperate situation? This is for you.

Please watch all the way to the ending. It’s important.

-Adam

Prostitution vs. Religion

Let me start by saying, I apologize for the bizarre title to this blog post. But in a world now where you've got constant media feeds all competing for your attention at once, I needed to go a little bit, for lack of a better word, intriguing with the post name.

If you track along with me on here, you're probably aware that I have written many posts and shared various videos from my pastor at Eleven22. Every Sunday I walk out of that building and feel like I had just my life changed. I cannot say this enough, no matter who you are, where you've come from, regardless of your beliefs, background or past....GO and check out Eleven22. It is a movement AND invitation for ALL people. Repeat, ALL people. No one is excluded. Period. Just come as you are. Leave fancy "church clothes" at home because they don't care about stuff like that.

I could share every sermon they post but this past Sunday's message was one I found particularly important to pass on to others. You may have read a past post of mine that discussed the definition of what "religion" is vs. having a relationship with God. The difference between the two is of absolute utmost importance and should not be overlooked. As I mentioned, in my previous post, being a true Christian is actually the opposite of being "religious." (For reference, you can re-read the post here: Religion Sets Rules. Jesus Sets Free.) This weekend's sermon was a perfect supplement to that topic.

So about that post title...

In this sermon a very important parable is being taught by Jesus. Per the words from Jesus himself (while talking to a group of heavily devout religious people)...he basically told them that (paraphrasing) prostitutes and terrorists are more likely to make it into Heaven than the person who grows up in church being a "good rule follower." (AKA, religious) Why? Because as I mentioned in that older post, you may be surprised to hear this but according to the bible, getting into Heaven has absolutely NOTHING to do with how good/bad you are, how much you go/don't go to church or follow a bunch of rules. Repeat NOTHING. It is not about your activity but rather it is about your IDENTITY. That is why someone can be a Christian without being "religious." Because being a Christian really just means one thing--believing that when Jesus died on the cross it counted for YOU and by putting your faith and trust in him. When you do that, you get a new identity that is a 100% a free gift. And the thing about getting a gift is....gifts cannot be earned. Hence why, being "religious" will NOT earn you a ticket to Heaven. Identity always precedes activity.  Therefore, being a Christian is not about being "religious" rather it's about having a relationship. Big difference.

Please take the time to listen to this message by pastor Joby Martin who can articulate it much better than I can. It could be the best news you've ever heard. And if anything in this message intrigues you, PLEASE feel free to reach out to me and let's chat some more. And if you're someone who just thinks I'm totally weird and all this stuff is complete BS, believe me I don't blame you. It was weird to me once too. Call me anyway I'd love to buy you a coffee and share my whole story.

With utmost sincerity,
Adam Szarmack

Do You Need a Do Over?

About two years ago, I found myself in a place in my life where I was pretty broken and battling some feelings of depression. I kept it to myself and even my closest family had no idea I was feeling this way. I didn't want anyone to know.

During that time, at my place of work there was a spare office that no one was using and so I moved my computer into it without even asking for permission from my management. The reason I did that was because most of the time I was sitting in there fighting back tears. (And losing that battle more often than not.) Occasionally one of my peers would stick their head in and say "Hey what ya doing in here?" to which I would reply "Oh I think I'm getting sick so I'm just doing everyone a favor and separating myself from the group." But the truth was, I didn't want anyone to see me crying. And when it was time for a company meeting, I'd do my best to push all the tears in and put on my best fake smile--holding it as long as possible until I could get back to that office and be alone again.

I needed a Do Over.

And by the grace of God, he gave me one.

I tend to write too much so if anyone reads this and wants to know the rest of my story, please contact me and let's setup a time to chat more. I'd love to meet you and have a heart to heart.

And if you are currently in a place in life right now and YOU need a "Do Over" too, I've got good news...

Here is the Do Over you've been waiting for...

Photo I shot of my pastor, Joby Martin, preaching his guts out at Eleven22 on Easter Sunday.

Photo I shot of my pastor, Joby Martin, preaching his guts out at Eleven22 on Easter Sunday.

Once a Stripper now a Survivor

PLEASE READ THIS. DON'T SEE THE LENGTH OF THE POST AND JUST SKIP TO THE VIDEO!

Late last summer I got a phone call from a friend of mine who works at Eleven22. He said there was a special group of women who were a start up non-profit and they were trying to find someone to help them out with a video to raise awareness for their cause. He asked if I'd be interested in helping out. Naturally I said "Sure, so what is their cause?" The response I received was something I was not prepared to hear at all.

The answer? They walk right into the Jacksonville strip clubs and tell the girls their true worth and value in the eyes of Jesus.

(I'll give you a moment to process that the same way I needed to when I first heard.)

Okay so let me just be real transparent for a moment. The first thing that crossed my mind after I heard that was oh crap that's too intense and I don't know if I want to help with that actually. I mean let's just be honest, who wants to talk about a subject like that? I didn't. It makes everyone feel uncomfortable. BUT the reality is the reason we don't like hearing about causes like this is because most people (myself included) just want to look away and pretend its not there. Oh strippers just choose that life for themselves or what's the big deal it's just harmless entertainment. The fact is, that couldn't be further from the truth.

Not long after that call I met with the girls at the St. Johns Town Center Panera and learned more about their individual stories and oh boy, they were INTENSE. Let's just say, anyone eating lunch there that day probably left telling their friends all about the group of people in the middle of the restaurant that just cried for over an hour. (And hey, I was one of the criers!) After I heard some of the absolutely horrid things that they had happen to them in the clubs and throughout the industry, I knew I had to help. It took us a while to get our schedules lined up but we were finally able to get together to film the testimony of the founder of the ministry. We then used her story for this PSA video.

Let me just say if you've got 6 minutes to spare then watching this video will be 6 minutes of your life well spent!

Please open up your heart and listen to this incredible story of survival and redemption. And if you wouldn't mind, share it with others to help get their message out. Facebook has enough Donald Trump rants, pictures of cats and grainy photos of people's lunches. Share something that actually matters and can help make a true difference! I dare you. :) Visit www.thedempproject.org to learn more.

Gang Raped to Death

First off, I sincerely apologize for that pretty direct blog title. I have no intention of offending anyone but I wanted to grab your attention because I truly believe this is that important. I understand this is probably not going to win me any popularity points. Again, I am sorry if anyone read that title and felt uncomfortable. It is certainly not my goal. But please hear me out on this one.

We are living in some pretty crazy times. It gets said over and over to the point where we are almost numb. It really is too depressing now to even turn on the news. Every day there is a report of people young and old that are being murdered, raped, kidnapped, terrorized or sometimes something worse. And we all seem to agree, it doesn't seem to be getting any better.

So how the heck did we get here and is there even any hope?

With all due respect to whatever your personal beliefs may be, even if they are the exact opposite of mine, from the most sincere part of my heart that I can ask this, please take the time to watch this entire message by Joby Martin. I promise it is something you will not regret listening to and it is certainly not boring. In fact, a non-christian friend of mine attended this very service with me and after we walked out he looked at me and said "Even if you take all the Jesus stuff out, that is message EVERYONE needs to hear."

This is not an easy sermon to listen to. It is a part of the bible that many churches are not even willing to acknowledge let alone talk about. But one thing I love about The Church of Eleven22 is that we have a pastor who is not afraid to tell us what we NEED to hear instead of what we WANT to hear.

Please listen to this and if anything you hear tugs on your heart, let's talk about it. I'm being completely serious. You can email me or call me or text me. Whatever it takes. I'm here for anyone who needs me. Thank you.

Happy Father's Day

So proud to be the father of these two incredible girls. I pray they will grow up to become confident, caring and loving women of God. Using their unique gifts and talents to bring honor and glory to Him. I love them so much. They bless me every day with their smiles. I can never thank God enough for everything they mean to me. Every night before they go to sleep I hold their hand and they pray Psalm 139:14 with me. Lord I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are your works, and my soul knows this well. In Jesus name, Amen.

Hey, Hey, sweet daughter
I'm so proud to be your father
Each day is like a gift from God

Hey, Hey, sweet daughter
there's no music like your laughter
and your smile is like the rising sun

You know I've loved you from the start
So come in close, take my hand
While daddy shares his heart

I wish that I could be your everything
Be the one to give you all the things you need
Sometimes I'm gonna let you down

There's someone if you just believe
He'll be your hero like He's always been for me
Darling, Jesus is the One you need

No matter what you walk through
He will always love you
Just the way you are

For there's nothing in this world
That I want for my baby girl
than to be happy ever after

The story of your life is still untold
I pray the king of all the universe
would make your heart His home

I wish that I could be your everything
Be the one to give you all the things you need
Sometimes I'm gonna let you down

There's someone if you just believe
He'll be your hero like he's always been for me
Darling, Jesus is the One

Who will never leave, he's been there all along
Oh when you're ready, you can find True Love

Religion Sets Rules. Jesus Sets Free.

If you were to go around and ask random people on the street to describe what they think it means to be a Christian, there's a good chance that many of their answers would say something like "to be religious." But...if you were to go around asking Christians the very same question, most likely none of them would use the word religious at all. In fact, they may intentionally avoid the word altogether.

So why is that?

The reason is because being a Christian isn't actually about just trying harder to follow all the church rules and be a good person. That is exhausting. Being a Christian is really about just one thing—having a relationship with Jesus. No matter what you have done in your life, good or bad, He just wants you to know Him. Yes the bible has some important instructions on how to live your life that should be taken very seriously, but it also says in Romans 3:23 that no matter how hard you try you will never be able to hit the mark. (ALL have fallen short.)

That's why we don't just need a life coach....we need a savior.

Being a Christian means that you understand this so instead of just trying to work on a religion, you work on a relationship with Jesus. If your identity in Jesus comes first, even if you don't fully understand everything or always get it right, the rest will begin to fall into place. That is why you can be a Christian without being "religious." The bible even says that Peter and John were "ordinary uneducated men" with no special training in the scriptures (Acts 4:13). In other words, they had no religion. They just had Jesus.

An absolutely amazing picture of this was shared by Pastor Joby Martin at Eleven22 this past weekend. The sermon titled "Take Up Your Mat" describes the account of the man who had been disabled for 38 years that Jesus miraculously healed. After healing him, Jesus instructed him to pick up the dirty mat he had been laying on all those years, and carry it with him. When the man was seen by the Pharisees (religious people), instead of being excited by the fact that the man they all knew had been sick and disabled for so long was now suddenly healthy and walking around, they accused him. What did they accuse him of? Breaking a rule. They told him it was unlawful to carry a mat on the Sabbath. They were more concerned about the rules of their religion then they were about the miracle.

If just trying to follow all the church rules is what you think of when you hear the word Christianity, I beg you you to take the 45 minutes and watch this message. It could change your perspective entirely. And it might change your life. 

Adopting His Son's Murderer

If your very own child was taken from you in the act of cold blooded murder, would you ever be able to forgive the killer? And not only forgive them, but later adopt them as your own child?

Ike Brown did.

The phrase "Unconditional Love" has never been more real to me then it was after watching this incredible story at an Eleven22 service a couple weeks ago. Take 15 minutes and watch this unthinkable act of forgiveness and mercy. 

Produced by Eleven22 Creative.

***10/16/16 - In the last couple weeks this page has been viewed 1000+ times. I'd love to know where all the traffic is coming from. If you got here by some kind of linked post please contact me to let me know where or leave a comment. Thanks!***

The Riches of His Grace: Ike Brown’s Story

Sunny Clementine

Where do I start with this one?

Ashley, Jimbo and myself go back 20 years. Two of the most God loving people I know and two of my best friends on this planet. We have been all over the world together and we have more memories than I can even begin to recount.

For those of you who share with me in the privilege of calling these two your friends, then you also share with me in the absolute JOY it is to see the miracle and blessing that has come into their lives in the form of little precious Sunny Clementine. She is the long awaited answer to many years of bold and faithful prayers.

Born on the side of the road and spending the first month of her life in a neonatal intensive-care unit, she has fought through and now finds herself as part of a new family with a mom and dad who will love her more than anything else in this world. And above all, they will show her the love of Jesus.

Congratulations to Ashley, Jimbo and Sunny on your new journey together as a family. We love you!!!

Have You Ever Had Your Life Changed?

Honest question. Have you ever had your life changed before? I don't just mean like, you recently discovered how much you love Starbucks or your favorite team won the big game. Those things will eventually fade away. I'm talking about 'the entire world suddenly seems different and you can't go back to how it used to be' kind of change. I have. And when something changes you that much, it's kind of hard to keep it bottled up. (Acts 4:20)

God, through The Church of Eleven22, is changing my life.

If phrases like the one below intrigue you, hit me up. I'd love to tell you more about why any sane person would think something like this let alone post about it on the internet. Yeah it seems weird from the outside. I get it. Hey I'm just a normal dude like anyone else. In fact, the 12 disciples were all just a bunch of scrappy roughed up fisherman. In other words, God chose the original cast of Deadliest Catch to be the founders of Christianity. How cool is that??

Anyway I'm starting to ramble on again more than I planned to. If you want to checkout a church that is changing people's lives by the thousands here in Jacksonville, let me know. Forget about weird stuff like the Pope or the guys who stand on street corners with big signs that say REPENT in all caps. There's something better....

Come and see.

My brother and his wife singing the praise at Eleven22. Photo by me.

My brother and his wife singing the praise at Eleven22. Photo by me.