The Beauty of Psalm 5

Psalm 5 is absolutely beautiful.

The Psalm provides a stunning picture of David’s vulnerability and need for God. The Psalm is a prayer – and throughout it, David reminds himself of truth and praises God for his steadfast love (v.7), His ability to provide refuge (11), and for the blessing God brings to those who trust in Him (v. 12).

My favorite part of the Psalm, however, comes in verse 8. Here, David cries out to the Lord for help:

“Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness because of my enemies; make your way straight before me” (ESV).

This prayer resonates with my heart.

My enemies may not be physical people, but I have some enemies.

Comfort tempts me to stick to my own schedule, my own plan, instead of submitting to God. My idol of acceptance lures me to alter who I am or what I think so that others will accept me more. Anger tries to convince me that relief is found in release, instead of remembrance of truth and words of love. Lies and negative self-talk seek to make me feel bad about myself – to disorient and distract me from the truth of who I really am in Christ. Security tries to convince me that money matters more than surrender, and discontentment aims to fill my mind with pessimism. Anxiety plays with me so that I seek refuge in myself, and my own clinched fists, instead of trusting God. Fear tempts me to stop moving so that I am stuck in places that are old, stale and dry. Loss begs me to despair.

You see, my enemies may not be people, but I have enemies. And sometimes they are fierce.

I’m thankful for David – for his truth, his boldness, and his confidence in God. You see, I think David got it.

“But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house.” – Psalm 5:7 (ESV)

David didn’t do anything to deserve God’s love. It wasn’t based on the good he had done, the skills he had been gifted with, or the successes he would have in the future. In fact, David did a lot of really bad things. He committed adultery, he murdered an innocent man, he lied, and, at times, he was gripped by passivity to the point of being an absent father and king.

Yet, David was covered by the grace of God. He rejoiced in the love of God and that love gave him the security he needed to cry out – to pray for rescue.

How easily I forget.

As Christians, we are not alone in fighting our enemies. We have a God who loves us, and because of that, we can boldly approach Him.

“Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness because of my enemies; make your way straight before me.” – Psalm 5:8 (ESV)

Cry out, remember, and trust. He can help. Exhale.

A Pile of Kleenexes, Dirty Dishes, and Psalm 3

A Pile of Kleenexes, Dirty Dishes, and Psalm 3

photoEarlier this week, a wise friend of mine encouraged me to feel.

I know it sounds weird, but my friend was right. I think sometimes I get carried away in analyzing things instead of stopping to realize what is really going on and how it is affecting me. The advice has truly blessed me this week – and I believe it was purely God’s way of guiding me toward Him.

Anyways, my friend’s advice led me to the book of Psalms. There is no doubt that one of the most emotion-filled books of the Bible is The Psalms. Written by men, such as Solomon, Moses, David, and a few others, who all walked through extremely difficult (and sometimes self-inflicted) circumstances, the book is full of extremely personal laments where longings are expressed and anger is not hidden. I mean, the writers let it all hang out, which I can appreciate.

This morning, I read Psalm 3 and was deeply encouraged.

When David wrote this Psalm, he was fleeing from Absalom, his own son, who was trying to kill him. (Yep. You read it correctly.) I don’t have space here to get into all of the details (check out 2 Samuel 13-19), but I’m sure you can imagine the sorrow in your head. Your son, who you love, is trying to kill you so that he can be king, and you are running cave-to-cave to save yourself. Yikes! Pretty rough…

Anyways, as David is resting in the desert somewhere, thinking about the situation, he writes Psalm 3.

“O Lord, how many are my foes! Many are rising against me; many are saying of my soul, there is no salvation for him in God” (v. 1 & 2, ESV).

David feels alone. He’s being mocked. His own nation, the one God put him in charge of, is being taken from him by his own son who wants him dead, and many others are helping him do it. His own people, with his son leading, are trying to kill him. I’m sure he also felt betrayed, confused, and scared. (I’m not him, but I’m assuming.)

In the midst of the circumstances, and the emotion, David stops and remembers the Lord.

“But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. […] I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me. […] Salvation belongs to the Lord” (v.3, 5, & 8, ESV).

David remembers God is present, God provides comfort, God who sustains his life, and God can save him. Although things look bleak, and the cards seem stacked against him, David knows that the Lord can be trusted. And it moves David from a dark place, to a place of confidence in God.

As I read this Psalm, I thought about my own life.

This week I’ve been really sick. Some sort of cold has gotten the best of me, and my sleep has been greatly interrupted/nonexistent. I’m exhausted and I feel awful. On top of this, my house is a mess, I’m behind on schoolwork, I’m sorting through some heart issues, while trying to apply for internships, and the mister and I have another heavy thing on our plate, which I won’t mention here.

Now, I know this all seems small compared to what David had going on, or compared to what a lot of people have going on, but it’s big to me. It all feels pretty heavy, and I feel (or felt) quite overwhelmed.

Through this Psalm, however, I’m reminded that in the midst of my longings, hardships, struggles, pain, uncertainty, sickness, anxiety, and fear, God is present. I’m not alone.

Even when it feels as though nothing is going right, and everything is hard, I have hope. The Lord provides comfort – He “lifts my head.” When I’m fearful of being rejected, I have acceptance in the Lord. When I’m scared of what people might think if I speak up, I know the Lord holds me for eternity. When I have too much to do, and not enough time to do it, I know it’s okay. When I’m scared of what the future might hold in one particular area, I know the Lord is moving in it. Even though the cards seem stacked against me, God can be trusted.

Sometimes I think I sustain myself, but I don’t. It’s God who sustains me. Because of Him, I’m alive. Because of Him, my life on this earth has purpose.

He knows what’s going on. He can see past the pile of Kleenexes that seem to follow me, the dirty dishes in the sink, and the chaos of everything else. He can be trusted with it all.

The Lord is present. He provides comfort and refuge, and He sustains life.

Lord, may I rely upon you for strength, instead of myself. Help me rest in you as I trust that you are at work, even in the things I don’t quite understand.

“You, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory and the lifter of my head.” – Psalm 3:3

I feel grateful, confident, and full of peace.

Exhale. Find comfort. He knows where you are – and salvation belongs to him.

The Potential Inner Danger in Keeping All of the Outer Rules

To be honest with you, I don’t really have a lot of time to spend on this post. In fact, I’ve been struggling to find time to anything lately, which has put me in a really weird spot in a lot of areas, but I did want to share with you something I’ve been meditating on for a while.

Over the past 5 months I’ve been reading and studying the book of Mark.

In June, when I was trying to decide how I was going to spend my time in the Word, I decided that I needed to know more about the person and work of Jesus. I mean, Christianity is supposed to be about following him, right? I felt as though I had a lot of big decisions to make and as the mister and I were about to walk into a new chapter of our lives (studenthood), guidance was desperately needed.

As I’ve read through its pages, my jaw has been on the floor multiple times. Jesus was quite the controversial figure. Through all of the passages and all of the stories, one truth has stood out the most to me…

Following Jesus is not just about what you do – it’s about the condition of your heart.

Mark 13:38-40 displays this quite clearly:

Jesus says, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes and like greetings in the marketplaces and have the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”

Hold the phone! What? Let’s rephrase this:

“Beware of those within the church who seek to draw attention to themselves by exalting their own biblical knowledge, who enjoy the praise and fame they get from others around town, who think of themselves as better than others at church and at social gatherings, who only care about their own needs, and who say long and eloquent prayers for the sake of looking holy.” (My own interpretation)

“They will receive the greater condemnation” (Mark 13:40).

But isn’t being religious all about what we do? Isn’t it about reading the word of God, going to church and saying long and eloquent prayers? Isn’t it all about avoiding sex before marriage, not cussing, and wearing modest clothing? Isn’t it about not making any big mistakes externally? Isn’t it about showing others how obedient you can be?

The scribes seemed to have it altogether, too.

They worked hard to gain their position within the church. They tried to obey every rule and appear to be as holy as possible. However, this meant that their faith was in themselves, and their hope was in what others thought of them – not in the Lord.

Obviously, those who truly trust in the Lord tend to walk in certain ways. This is why James proclaimed, “faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (James 2:17). I believe that those who have a heart set on God will abide by his word and seek to live a life of love and purity, but the point is, their heart is set on God. Their heart isn’t set on a list of rules they have to keep, it’s set on the gratitude of the cross and the grace of God which moves them toward a place of inner and outer obedience – not white knuckled self discipline.

Lately, I’ve felt so confused by the theological differences of those around me. I’ve wondered how can we all read the same book (the Bible) and land in different spots on various issues. I’ve been wrestling with Paedobaptism (baptism of infants) and neo-baptism (baptism of adults), the biblical view of how a church is supposed to be run. I’ve been trying to find the right answers…but in the process, I’ve ended up farther away from the point of the whole thing…

Jesus.

It’s not about what I know or what I think I know. It’s about love. It’s more about my heart than it is my hands.

“The most important [commandment] is, ‘Hear O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment great than these” (Mark 12:29-31).

Following Jesus isn’t about knowing everything. It isn’t about appearing to be perfect. It’s not about pretending. It’s not about making sure you abide by certain rules such as not having sex outside of marriage, not cussing, or devoting yourself to continual boundry-less service. It’s about getting messy with the maker the Universe. It’s about placing your heart under the umbrella of his grace and allowing that grace to change you. (Which will probably lead you to a place of joyfully or trustfully following his commands.)

I don’t know where you are, but wherever you are, take comfort in the fact that Jesus came to save and heal the sick, not those who think they are well (Mark 2:17).

Where is your heart? Are you concerned about impressing others or are you sitting under the care of God? Are you endlessly striving to perform a certain ritual of good deeds while ignoring the arrogance and pride inside of yourself? Are you looking at the sins of others and thinking you’re not that bad after all? Do you get overly focused on what you know theologically instead of loving others?

My heart has a way of getting twisted sometimes…

Exhale. Rest. You don’t have to be perfect. Confess your shortcomings; don’t try to hide them. God loves you. He cares about you. He can heal any addiction, pain, hurt, hang-up, or deep seeded issue that resides in your heart.

Praying that I have a heart that is set on Jesus, not on myself, or my own glorification.

Cambridge Living and the Art of Balancing it All

Please excuse my outragiously large key collection. I'm a fan of keychains.
Please excuse my outragiously large key collection. I’m a fan of keychains.

In case you missed it (we’re not THAT cool, so you probably did)…

The mister and I arrived to our home in Cambridge, Massachusetts on August 14th. I think we expected a little down time before school started, but from day one things have been pretty…um…insane.

In the past 3-and-a-half weeks we have been to IKEA 4 times (I will never go back again), unpacked what seems like 800 boxes, started school, attended 3 major HBS events and over 9 dinners, and have hosted a little shindig in our home. We’ve met people from Argentina, South Africa, China, Denmark, Russia, the Ukraine, and all sorts of other places! It’s been utterly chaotic.

Now don’t get me wrong. I love our new friends, I am thrilled to have our own place, and I actually, for one of the first times in my life, feel as though we are right where we should be (which is amazingly peaceful). The transition has just been a little more difficult than anticipated.

Things have been moving fast, and the mister and I have been trying to figure out how to balance it all.

Recently, this dilemma has led me to ask myself a couple of important questions:

Who am I? And what type of person do I want to be?

Now, before I keep going, I need to let you in on one thing: Caleb’s grad school is HIGHLY social. (I cannot emphasize this enough.) Every night there are at least two events or gatherings that people can take part in. On top of that, it is highly recommended that you participate in most (if not all) of the events because you don’t want to miss out on building relationships. Business school is all about networking, right?

Anyways, it keeps us quite busy and makes us feel pressure to run faster than we want to – or faster than we probably should.

Okay…back to it.

A couple of weeks ago, there was a big event for Caleb’s school. Since we had been going like crazy for two weeks straight, and had several other events that same weekend, Caleb and I decided that it was probably best to decline the offer and rest a little bit.

I freaked out.

“What if we don’t make friends?! What if we are left out of the next event?! What if we become loners?! What if life moves on without us?! We are SUPPOSED to go to everything.”

Caleb calmed me down, and I started thinking…

Who am I? Who do I want to become?

Here’s what I came up with:

Who am I?

  • I am a child of God, meaning I am accepted by Him. He doesn’t look at me and say, “Lindsey, you need to get your act together and do ‘this or that’ so that I approve of you.” He approves of me already. He chose me before the beginning of time to know Him and walk with Him. God, the King of the Universe, accepts me. That’s big. (Ephesians 2:11-22; Romans 8:38&39; Ephesians 1:3-10)
  • I am loved by a good God. The God I follow is worthy of my trust. He holds the world in his hands and works within it for his glory and the good of those who love him. If God is for me, who can be against me? He’s in control, he’s good, and he loves me. What should I possibly fear? (Isaiah 41:10; Romans 8:28-37; Lamentations 3:25; Proverbs 19:21)
  • I am a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a peer, and a student. I am a woman trying to figure out how to walk with God, love others well, and spend my time wisely.
  • I am a woman who forgets all of these things often and ends up making the things of this earth god. (And may I note that every time I do this, I end up being let down.)

What type of person do I want to be?

  • I want to be someone who loves those around me well and isn’t concerned with being friends with a million people. Friends are a gift. My family is a gift. I can love a small number of people well, but beyond that, I’m incapable. (James 1:22)
  • I want to be someone who lives with a sense of inner peace because my hope and identity are placed in Christ, and not in this world or the circumstances it brings. (Romans 5:1; Colossians 3:15; Romans 5: 2-5; Proverbs 10:28; Romans 15:13)
  • I want to be a restful person, or a person who isn’t stressed out because I have too much on my plate. I want to have enough time to breathe and seek God so that I can enjoy others without thinking about myself, or my to-do list. (Matthew 11:28-30; Luke 5:16)
  • I want to be a good wife. I want to carve out time so that my husband and I can enjoy each other, build into each other, and both seek the Lord through his word and prayer. I want to love him well, and in order to do so I must have time and energy.
  • I want to be free. Free from addictions, obsessive worries, and idols. I want to trust the Lord with everything within me. (Galatians 5:1; 1 Peter 2:16; Galatians 5:13; John 10:10; Philippians 4:6&7)

So what now?

The truth is, I can’t do it by myself.

Jeremiah 17:5&6 reads like this: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord. He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an inhabited salt land.”

The person I want to be requires prayer, thought and effort. It takes relying upon the Lord’s grace to silence the idols of this world (acceptance of others, people’s praise, worry, control, money, worldly and temporary success, and popularity), and remembering that God can be trusted and He knows what’s best for me. It’s remembering that the world can be deceiving, but in Christ there’s life that is true and thirst quenching.

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” – Jeremiah 17:7&8

My point in all of this is this: sometimes when life starts moving quickly, you have to stop and reflect on the type of person you want to be.

We only get one shot at this “life-on-earth” thing, and if we aren’t careful, we’ll keep sprinting until we’re completely lost. We’ll keep moving along with the world around us listening to its tunes, and eventually, we’ll lose track of who we really are and what’s important to us.

Life keeps moving whether or not we are prepared.

Stop. Exhale. Think.

Who are you? What type of person do you want to be?

Cambridge is great. I am so thankful for the opportunity to be here and am so thankful for the path the Lord has allowed us to walk down. I love our friends and the process of making new ones. I’m grateful for my school and for Caleb’s and for the ways in which God has already provided for us here. Peace is a wonderful thing, and I am affirmed through it that we are right where we should be. This doesn’t mean, however, that it will be free of struggles and hardship. My prayer through it all is that we will be true to who we are (to who God created us to be) – and that we will be open to Him. I know He’s going to use our time here to mold us and shape us. May we depend upon Him and trust Him in the process.

Here’s to the next two years, to God’s grace, and the peace that only He can provide!

Boston (or Cambridge) Bound and the Fear of Changed Plans

Tomorrow afternoon, the mister and I will embark on our journey to our new home in Massachusetts.

This round (as many of you know we moved from Boston to Midland, TX just about a year ago), we will both be doing the grad school thing. He’ll be at a school in Cambridge getting is MBA, and I’ll be attending a school in South Hamilton working on my Master’s in Counseling. I’m expecting it will be quite the experience for us both!

Although I am super excited to see old friends, have our own place, and experience a new and different phase of life, the whole process has caused me a great deal of anxiety and fear.

You see, none of this is what I had planned.

Some of you might remember the details surrounding our move to Midland and how random and out of the box it was. You may also remember that I spent a lot of time reflecting upon the fact that sometimes our plans and the Lord’s don’t quite align.

Well… I’m in the same ballpark, but this time, the game seems more difficult. It’s on a much larger scale.

Don’t worry. I’ll explain…

In high school, I dreamed of being a young mom. I wanted to get married and do all of that jazz first, but I wanted to be a young mom. You know, like Lorelai from Gilmore Girls. It was going to be awesome. I would have a daughter like Rory, and since I was so young, she would find me relatable and her friends would like me. Our house would be the place they would hang out, and if any of them needed advice, I would be there. Pure bliss, eh?

When I moved to Nashville my freshman year of college, I decided that I didn’t want to be 11 hours away from my family. I loved my friends there, and loved the city itself, but it was just too far. For that reason, and a couple of others, I made my way to Texas Tech that next year. The people in Lubbock were great, but I soon (like within a week) decided that I never wanted to live in West Texas. It was too dry, too windy, and way too conservative.

As soon as I graduated, I headed back to Dallas and settled into life there. My family was close, I was able to interact weekly with my sister and her four kids, I loved my church, and the community was rich. Two of my best friends from college even moved close by. I had no plans of leaving. I was quite content.

When Caleb and I moved to Boston in January of 2013, I knew it was going to be a four-year stint. Caleb would finish up his job at Bain Capital, wrap up grad school, and then we would be Dallas bound. Maybe we would even have kids up there, and I would still have a shot at being a young mom (well, kind of). I would raise my kids next to my sister and our kids would play together. It would be a blast! I mean, what kids wouldn’t love hanging out with us all day? Duh! (Note the sarcasm there.)

I had it all planned out.

Proverbs 19:21 reads, “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.”

Today, I sit here as a 28-year-old grad student with a husband in the Oil and Gas Industry. In other words, I’m no longer “young mom” material, life is going to be too crazy to have kids in the next two years, and it looks like Dallas is out of the question…at least for a little while.

My plan has officially been derailed.

“Get over it,” you may say. “There are people in the world that don’t even have clean water to drink, and people are being martyred for their faith in Israel. Haven’t you heard?”

I have, and I hate that I’m struggling with something so small in comparison to those things, but I am. I’m struggling to surrender my plan, to hand it over, and to trust God. I mean, come on! My plans for Dallas weren’t bad. In fact, I had every intention of glorifying the Lord with every step. What’s wrong with that?!

Yesterday morning, I was reading in Mark 4. The scene takes place when Jesus is on a boat with his disciples in the middle of the night:

“And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling [with water]. But he (Jesus) was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?’ And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, ‘ Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?’ And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?’”

– Mark 4:37-41

I exhaled.

Trusting God seems like it should be easy. I mean, after all, He’s good, knows and controls everything, and loves me beyond my wildest imagination, but sometimes, I just forget to do it. I start focusing on the details of a situation – my fears, anxiety and all of the things I wish were different – and I forget that He sees all of it – and He uses everything to grow me and make me more and more into the person he created me to be (Romans 8:28-30). He’s in control and if he wants me somewhere different, he can move me. He knows what he’s doing. If it means having “kid one” at the age of 30, living in Midland, Africa, or Cambridge, or doing something crazy like selling everything we own, he’s got us. In him I have hope. He can be trusted.

The truth is, having a kid (or adopting) at 30 is probably the best for us. It’s not what I had planned, but I think it makes the most sense. We will have more time and more resources to run a stable home.

Also, Midland isn’t so bad. Some of our coolest friends live here in Midland. They are so cool it pains me to leave them for two years. (I guess sometimes you just want the best of both worlds.) We have family here, and the mister has a great job to come back to.

It’s all going to be okay.

I don’t know where you are, or what you’re struggling with. It may be something big, or small, but believe me; you’re not weak for struggling. We all have things we have to work through and all that counts is that you’re working and not giving up. Trust God. He’s got you. He is your help in time of need. He hears you, sees you, and loves you. Talk to him.

Sometimes things don’t work out how you want them to, and you just have to trust God and roll with it. I’m working on it!

You Knew this Day Long before You Made Me out of Dirt – Life at 28

Yesterday at 3:06pm I turned 28.

photo 1
Photo creds to the talented Grace Weatherl

To be honest with you, the age feels weird.

TEN years ago I was 18.

Ten years ago, I had just started growing in my walk with the Lord. Ten years ago, I wanted to conquer the music business world through expert marketing skills and change the way Country musicians were promoted. Ten years ago, I never wore the same outfit twice (or tried not to). Ten years ago, I listened to Ashlee Simpson. Ten years ago, I continually argued with my parents about how messy my room was…

Amazing how a little time and divine intervention change things.

Anyways, over the past week, I’ve been trying to figure out what my big “take-away” was from this past year. Sunday I couldn’t even focus on the sermon because I was trying to figure it out, and all day Tuesday, I thought about it without any success. I just couldn’t seem to land on ONE “thing” – one lesson or experience – that shaped the entire year.

You see, this year has been one of the most challenging years of my life.

From our move to Midland and the dynamics of changing friendships, to a growing marriage and plotting out our future plans, it’s been somewhat of a high-speed helicopter ride. All I could do was look out the front window and wonder what was going to happen next.
Although the lessons were many and the growth was great, I couldn’t think of one “thing” that really marked the year.

Then bedtime came.

Wednesday night, the mister and I were lying in bed seeking to watch one of my favorite TV shows on my computer when the Internet failed. Totally bummed, I started flipping through my iTunes catalog, when I stopped at a song called “Table for Two” by Caedmon’s Call.

It’s almost as if I had totally forgotten it had ever existed.

I pressed play, and the mister and I listened to it.

The song had served as a refuge for me in my post-college, young-adult life. On the good days, I listened to something with the banjo in it, but on the rough ones, it was always “Table for Two.” I can remember listening to its words after a hard day at work, a break up, or in the middle of feeling utterly lost in my life. I sang its words out loud on days of confusion and loneliness, and wrestled with God on what He was going to do with my future. I used the song as a reminder that I could trust God, and that He knew what He was doing – even though sometimes I had a hard time believing it.

As the mister and I listened to the song, my heart rejoiced.

The future I so deeply worried about, I was now in.

I have a husband that loves the Lord with such strength and integrity that it inspires me daily. He loves me with an underserved faithfulness, even when I’m hard to deal with. He longs to see me grow and use the talents the Lord has given me – and he even sacrifices to make it happen. Even though it’s not always easy, and we are far from perfect, we make a good team and I can’t imagine life without him in it. On top of that, I have wonderful friends and a great family on both sides. I have a roof over my head and food to eat. My body functions, and my mind works.

I exhaled. I had found my “thing.”

As I continued to thank the Lord, I remembered that his faithfulness has nothing to do with me. Even if I was still single and in a job I wasn’t crazy about, He would still be faithful. That’s just who He is. He knows what we all need and where we are all going, and if we only trust Him, he will lead us the right way. He promises life and goodness to those who put their faith in him, but not a life marked by expensive possessions or favorable circumstances, but a life that’s rich in things that last forever. He is faithful to grow us and is mighty in the way he loves us.

Although I am grateful for the ways in which God has moved in my life and am comforted by the things he has supplied, my hope cannot be placed in them. He is the only thing that’s certain. The King of the world loves me. He is faithful – and he can be trusted.

“Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.” – Psalm 9:10

That, my friends, is amazing.

“This day’s been crazy, but everything’s happened on schedule,
From the rain and the cold, to the drink that I spilt on my shirt.
‘Cause you knew ho you’d save me before I fell dead in the garden,
And you knew this day long before you made me out of dirt.
And you know the plans that you have for me.
And you can’t plan the end and not plan the means.
And so I suppose I just need some peace,
To get me to sleep.” – Caedmons Call, “Table for Two” 

 

Europe: What I Learned from “David” and a Train Station Bathroom

On Friday the Mister and I returned from Europe.

After two-and-a-half weeks of seeing places like London, Rome, Florence, Sestri Levante, and Milan, we were exhausted and ready to be back on American soil. Don’t get me wrong – the trip was amazing! I had a blast hanging out with family and enjoyed learning about each place’s history and culture, but there’s nothing quite like sleeping in your own bed and eating food you are familiar with. I truly am a creature of habit.

As I’ve been reflecting on the trip, I have to say the Lord really used it to encourage and challenge my heart. In the midst of fighting jet lag (I’ve been going to bed around 8:30pm and waking up around 4:30 each morning since we’ve been back), I’ve had some time to think. I would say there are two experiences on the trip that seem to have had a deep impact on me:

Seeing David:

When I was attending Watermark Community Church as a single adult, one of the pastor’s there told the story of Michelangelo sculpting his masterpiece, “David”. His story, though short, was one that I have always carried around with me. He said that someone once asked Michelangelo how he sculpted David so intricately. Michelangelo’s answer, though not scientific or mathematical, was astounding. He simply responded, “I just chipped away all that did not look like David.”

"David" (Sorry for the 'over exposure.' I just wanted you to be able to see him a little clearer.)
“David” (Sorry for the ‘over exposure.’ He’s just so magnificent…I can’t help myself.)

The pastor went on to explain that God does the same thing to those who follow Christ. We are not perfect, in fact we are deeply broken, but the Spirit of God through his great love and compassion for us, works in us to create a beautiful masterpiece. How does God do it? He simply chips away all that does not look like Christ in us.

Romans 8:29 reads, “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son…”

Sometimes I feel defeated. I look at my heart, and I am aware of just how unlike Jesus I am. I’m selfish. I love the things of this earth that are so fleeting and dumb. I care about how other people see me in areas that are superficial. I can be impatient and ungrateful. I can be quick to speak and hesitant to love.

I’m broken and am in desperate need of God’s grace.

The Mister and I standing in front of  "David"
The Mister and I standing in front of “David”

“David” reminded me that God is still working. He’s moving in my heart. He is above my sin and more powerful than any shortcoming I possess. He can change the parts of my heart that I hate – the parts of my heart that don’t represent him well.

I sure love that about him.

Peeing in a hole:

Yes. I know this is a weird one, but it’s true.

One day, the mister and I missed our train to Cinque Terre and were left at the train station for an hour or so. Part of me was bummed that we were going to waste part of our day sitting on a bench in an Italian train station, but most of me was mad that I had to use the toilet there…again.

It was gross.

Basically, the woman’s bathroom consisted of a variety of stalls all containing porcelain foot holders and a porcelain hole. There wasn’t a seat or any sort of basin to catch anything, so I was probably standing in all sorts of good stuff. By the third time I went (yes…I go a lot), my legs were burning from squatting and I couldn’t shake my bad attitude. I thought about my time in Haiti and how anything besides a dirt hole was a luxury, and then I thought about America.

As I wrestled with my own ungrateful heart and the frustration of the situation, I was reminded of how easily every day comforts cause me to forget about those in other places.

The truth is, a lot of people in this world don’t have toilet seats. They sleep on dirt floors and probably go to bed with growling stomachs. A lot of people can’t even read because they have to work instead of going to school, and a lot of people have a hard time finding fresh water…which I bathe in.

I guess what I’m trying to say (or write) is that maybe I’m too out of touch.

I think as a Christian, I’m called to be willing. Every person is led or called to do different things with their life, and therefore paths are going to look different, but I think the question I wrestle with is this: Am I willing?

If I was called to some foreign country that did not provide the comforts that some of us have in America, would I be willing? Would I be willing to sleep on dirt floors and eat “weird” food, if it’s for the sake of the Gospel?

Would I be willing to pee in holes?

I don’t know what my life is going to look like apart from today. I may never live in a foreign country or do anything extreme, but who knows!

It’s just something I’m wrestling with, I guess.

Wherever you are, look for the lessons around you. As I’m getting older, I’m becoming more and more aware that each moment is more than just a moment.

Life is short. We only have one shot at living it wisely. Cheers!

 

Oh yea! AND P.S. My mom’s Birthday is tomorrow! Happy Birthday, mom!

Rich Mullins, “Ragamuffin,” and Why I Want to Go Barefoot

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Photo creds to newsfeed.time.com

Last night, the mister and I watched a movie about the life of Rich Mullins called “Ragamuffin” – and I’m hoping it was life changing.

Now, if you’re like me, Rich Mullins is a foreign name to you. I didn’t grow up listening to Christian music (in fact most of my life I’ve found Christian music to be super cheesy and poorly written) and none of my friends did either. The first time I heard the name Rich Mullins was actually in the summer of 2007, while on staff working at Sky Ranch Camps. One of my co-counselors was deeply inspired by him, and she listened to his music often. So, basically, until last night, I knew nothing about the life of Rich Mullins. In fact, the first thing I said when we bought the movie was something along the lines of, “Wow! It sounds like he lived a pretty edgy life. I always figured he was some straight-laced, cookie-cutter Christian.” Judgmental, I know.

Without going into too much detail, or ruining the movie for anyone who’s interested in watching it, Rich lived a life dominated by haunting memories of verbal abuse, heartbreak, alcoholism, and desperate loneliness. He had a battle to fight with his past, and he always seemed lost in his present.

So why can’t I stop thinking about his life today? Why have I, within the last 18-hours, downloaded two of his albums? Why can’t I stop singing his songs in my head? (Maybe it’s because he never wore shoes, and I want to be cool like him and never wear shoes either….no…well…kind of.)

It’s because his story reminds me that struggling isn’t always a bad thing. Rich never lived a perfect life (in fact, he was almost opposed to rules), but his mind was continually on where the Lord had him and what he could do to be used by Him. His ambition wasn’t in money, fame, or “religiosity” – it was simply in knowing he was loved by God and showing others that they were, as well.

So as I sit here today, I’m awe-struck. I mean, I wish I was like him (in the most feminine way, of course). He genuinely cared about others, and he genuinely didn’t care about “success” on this earth or what others thought of him. He walked around barefoot most of the time because he had given his shoes to someone in need. He was a multi-millionaire, yet he only let his accountants pay him the average American salary each year, so that he could give the rest away. When he died, he didn’t even know how much money he had made. Better yet, he didn’t even care.

I know some of this may seem like some emotional rant, but seriously – can you imagine living this way?

As I stood in line at Subway this afternoon, I prayed that I would see those around me as precious people made by God. I prayed that I wouldn’t get caught up in financial gain or in being perfect. I prayed for half of the mindset that Rich Mullins had.

In America, it’s hard to not get caught up in the rat race. The big house, the cute clothes, the financial “security”…it’s all alluring. Unfortunately, it’s hard to give up. If I am being honest, I think I’m losing the here – and I hate that. I mean, let’s be honest. Who the heck cares? What really matters? I mean, REALLY matters? It’s not my education, though it is good to be able to think intellectually. It’s not my car, though I’m thankful for it. It’s not my ability to perform socially, though being polite and respectful is of great importance. It’s not some future dream I have for a flexible job, creative kids, and a secure life, for I was reminded last night that most of the time our dreams are too shallow.

It’s knowing that God loves me and allowing that love to free me to love others and Him recklessly. The only things that live forever are the hearts of men and the word of God. That’s what matters.

“Christianity is not about building an absolutely secure little niche in the world where you can live with your perfect little wife and your perfect little children in your beautiful little house where you have no gays or minority groups anywhere around you. Christianity is about learning to love like Jesus loved and Jesus loved the poor and Jesus loved the broken.” – Rich Mullins

This may seem like some “high” I’m on, but I hope it’s not. I pray that even though I’m continually being lured in by comfort and “normalcy,” by the grace of God I can resist and live life in a way that’s focused on what really matters.

I watched the movie, and I hope it changes my life.

Growing and the Personal Saga of the “Person I Was”

Well friends, it’s been a while.

The truth is, every fiber of my body has been longing to write, but finding the time has been difficult. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been traveling quite a bit. Two weekends ago the mister and I were in San Antonio, Texas, this past weekend I was in Carrollton, TX (my hometown), this weekend I’ll be in Fredericksburg, Texas for a college friend reunion trip, and after that it’s Houston, Dallas, Europe and eventually Canada. On top of all of this, I’m sprinting to finish all of my course work by the end of May so that I can have some sort of a summer. All of this to say, things have been moving a bit too fast…kind of. (When you live in the West Texas desert, excitement has to found somewhere!)

Ok. Enough excuses. Here’s the reason I’m writing today:

Over the past month, the Lord has been stirring in the deepest parts of my heart exposing areas that desperately need His help and freeing me from one of them. Because what He’s taught me through his word and the guidance of others has been so impactful, I’d love to share a part of the journey with you.

As a lot of my previous posts have hinted at, my past isn’t the prettiest thing in the world. Middle-school insecurity turned into a high-school drive to be valued and accepted by my peers, which led me down a not-so-great path. I unintentionally hurt myself, my friends at the time, and a lot of other people, I’m sure. Although I’m ten years older than I was then, and am a much different person, I still experience (or experienced) daily pain over who I was then and the embarrassment that comes with it all.  (NOTE: Some of you may have known me in high school and may have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about. If you’re interested in the full story, feel free to ask me. I’d love to share it with you.)

Senior Picture
One of my senior pictures taken in 2004. (Too bad it’s not “Throwback Thursday.)

A few weeks ago, our church in Midland started a series called “Scars,” which examined the concept of suffering and explored ways in which one could heal properly from painful experiences. It was powerful, to say the least.

Through it, I realized that I had failed to fully heal from the “person I was.” I had accepted my new identity in Christ years ago, and had grown quite a bit, but I had shoved the rest under a rug thinking that it would just disappear. The problem was it never did. For years, without being totally aware of it, I had carried around the burden of my past – the burden of the “person I was” – with me everywhere I went. Each time I was reminded about my upcoming high school reunion, I cringed. Every time a friend mentioned something about my old peers, I felt uneasy. I wasn’t free.

One day, I was reading a book about the life of Paul, and something clicked.

Paul (who before he was a follower of Jesus was named Saul) was a killer of Christians. If the gospel of Jesus was on one side, Paul was on the opposite. He believed that keeping the Jewish law was the best thing a person could do and to do anything else was heresy and deserving of death. Not only this, but he was climbing up in the ranks of Judaism as a Pharisee and delighted in the power and the social status that came with it. He was loyal to religious customs and was diligent in destroying anyone who tried to change things. The message of Jesus was doing just that – and it drove Paul to extreme measures.

Paul was feared by Christians. They knew that if they came into contact with him, their life would be in danger, and the gospel of Jesus would be attacked. Paul was fierce. If anyone was “too far gone,” it was him. Yet, in Acts 9, we see something amazing happen…

“But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem [to be tried and possibly killed]. Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’” (Verses 1-4)

In an instance, Paul experienced Jesus and his life was dramatically transformed. Today, we know him as the great apostle of Christ, the founder of many early churches, and the writer of most of the New Testament.

So what’s my point?

As I was reading this book, I realized that Paul was not a superhuman. He was a man who was chosen by the Lord to do great things, but he was not divine. I’m sure he had struggles, not only with his day-to-day life, but also with his past. I mean, he had killed Christians, and then he became one. That had to have come with some baggage.

“I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.” – 1 Corinthians 15:9

 

“The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.” – 1 Timothy 1:15

I don’t know Paul. I’ve read a lot of his letters, but I’ve never met him. I’ve never sat down over a cup of coffee to ask him about his story and his life, but it’s hard for me to imagine that he didn’t battle feelings of shame and regret over the Christians he had killed and the way he had mocked Jesus before he started following him.

In fact, since he was human, I’m sure he did.

My history and Paul’s is quite different, yet in some ways, it’s the same. We both didn’t know who we were, we both didn’t understand the grace of God and the path to true life, and we were both transformed by the same grace we didn’t know before.

For years, I’ve been holding onto the “person I was.” I’ve been holding onto shame, embarrassment and regret over the people I hurt and the way I misrepresented what life in Christ really looks like. Each day, I tried to shove the feelings and negative thoughts in a dark closet, and I tried to move on, but my attempts only left me feeling broken and burdened.

This past month has been extraordinary. I’ve experienced God’s grace in phenomenal ways, and although it’s been incredibly difficult at times, it’s been refreshing.

You see, I’m not the “person I was” in high school. My past truly is my past, and though it’s shaped me in big ways, it’s not my present, nor my future.

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself up for me.” – Paul in Galatians 2:20

Paul came from a “checkered” past, and so have I, but there’s hope.

My name is Lindsey. I was once lost in trying to find my identity in everything this world had to offer, but today I know who I am. I’m loved by God, accepted by Him, and chosen to be used as a tool in his hands.  I can’t change the past, and I thank God for the way it has shaped me, but today I’m different. Today, I’m defined by Christ and his calling on my life, not by where I once was.

In times of doubt and shame, I must remind myself of this. I’m sure Paul had to do the same thing, too.

I don’t know where you are, but if you know Jesus, and if you’ve come to experience his grace and payment for your sins (which you could NEVER pay for yourself through good deeds), then you’ve been adopted. He loves you. He’s given you a purpose and He finds you valuable. You’re defined by Him, so don’t let your past or the pressures of this world tempt you to believe otherwise.

 “Forgiven, beloved, hidden in Christ,

Made in the image of the Giver of Life.

Righteous and holy, reborn and remade,

Accepted and worthy, this is our new name.

This is who we are now…”

– Jason Gray “I am New”

My Take on the Movie “Noah” (Without Revealing too Much)

The mister and I went and saw the movie “Noah” this weekend – and to be honest with you, I was kind of nervous.

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Picture from imdb.com.

Just like anyone else who has ever anxiously awaited the release of a movie about a historical figure they have researched and studied (ex: “Ray,” “Walk the Line,” or “The Aviator”), I was interested to see how the movie “Noah” portrayed the actual story and person in the Bible. Was it going to completely destroy the message of the story, or was it going to portray what the true story does – hard-to-swallow justice, grace, and hope?

I was pleasantly surprised.

Just to be clear from the get-go (and state the obvious), the movie “Noah” and its biblical story do not match exactly. In areas where the biblical account is both loose and firm, Darren Aronofsky (the director) took quite a bit of creative liberty. Although, I personally found some of these things hard to watch (because they were in complete opposition to the actual story), my encouragement to everyone is the same: Read the actual account (link to actual account) and then see the movie, but remember…it’s just a movie. I am fairly certain the director is not a historian and was not set on portraying the story as it actually happened in the first place. (Exhale…it’s going to be okay.)

At the same time, I wouldn’t use the movie to formulate a comprehensive opinion about God – you should probably check out the biblical account first. (And explore the other biblical texts surrounding it.)

Alright…now to my point:

Although there has been much controversy surrounding the film, I think there are several truths that exist within it. And because I know you’re dying to know my opinion (just kidding), I’ll share them with you:

“Noah” is faithful in reminding me that we were all created.

Throughout the movie, a constant theme is creation. The creation story is told and retold several times, and special effects are even used to show how creation may have happened. God is referred to as “the Creator” and it is clear that all He created was created for a purpose. It’s a compelling truth.

None of us were an accident. Out of nothing, God created something. He created the animals, the trees, and you and me. How it happened is secondary (for I think it could have happened in a variety of ways), but it’s obvious that it happened. Out of nothing, came something, so where did things come from? (Even with the Big Bang Theory, the matter had to exist beforehand. Even if we evolved, we had to evolve from something.)

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” – Genesis 1:1-2

“For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through him and for him.” – Colossians 1:16

“Noah” displays the fact that we are all broken.

The “men” in “Noah” are scary people. They are a society of people bent on pleasing themselves, even if it hurts others. Because of this and a few other elements, the movie is quite dark.

Sometimes the world we live in is, too.

Murder, injustice and manipulation surround us. Just watch the news or read the paper, and you’ll see it clearly. We are prone to want what we want for our own benefit. Perfection within the human race does not exist, for even in the midst of our good deeds, we can hold selfish motives. Noah wasn’t perfect. I’m not perfect. And neither are you.

“For all have sinned (a archery term meaning we’ve “missed the mark”) and fall short of the glory of God.” – Romans 6:23

We need to be saved from our mess.

“Noah” illustrates the hard-to-face fact that the wages of sin is truly death.

This is a common theme throughout the movie (obviously).

God created us. He didn’t have to, but he did. And just like a painter, he didn’t create us without a purpose. He created us to be something beautiful – a race full of love, joy and peace. He created us to enjoy him and his creation forever.

He told Adam and Eve to continue the human race – to “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28). At the same time, however, he gave them a choice. They could choose to live the way God intended them to live (in peace, love and harmony) or they could go their own way (a way that made them feel powerful and in control).

He gave them a tree and told them not to eat off of it…but they did.

They chose to cut their own path, make their own rules, and pursue a life of “happiness” apart from God – and we still seek to do this today. We put all of our hope in things that don’t last forever (our bodies, our wardrobe, our friends, our jobs, etc.) and we use these things to feel better about ourselves. We think these things, over a relationship with God, will satisfy.

We get so distracted by making ourselves god that we ignore the fact that a real God truly exists.

God is clear on what we earn for doing this.

“For the wages of sin is death…” – Romans 6:23

There’s hope, though.

At the same time, “Noah” presents the truth that God is a God of grace, redemption, and second chances.

Although the wages of sin is death (just like the wages of mowing somebody’s lawn might be $75), there is hope.

“But the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 6:23

 

“If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” – Romans 10:9

 

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” – Ephesians 2:8&9

When no one else could save us, God sent Jesus to die for our sins. All of our sins were cast on him and he paid the ransom for our lives. He calls us to seek him, to know him, and to follow him.

He’s a God of second chances. If you see the movie or read the book, you’ll hear this anthem ring.

“Noah” reminds us of the power of trusting in God.

In the movie, Noah was continually in danger. This is something the biblical account doesn’t tell us, but I’m guessing it’s true. (Think about it…if a flood comes and only one person has a boat, what’s going to happen?) Noah continually risked his own life to stand up for himself, his family, and the calling of God. He trusted that God would accomplish his purposes if only he was obedient. No risk, no danger, no outcome was too great. He trusted God and kept walking.

When I reflect on my own life, I have to wonder if I’m doing the same thing. Am I standing up for what I believe in and trusting that God will accomplish his purposes in my life, or am I fearful of the ways in which others will perceive me? Am I distracted by fear, or am I joyfully walking through this life knowing that even in death, I will have life?

“Where O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” – 1 Corinthians 15:55

Trusting in God comes with assurance in this life and the next. I can rest confidently in Him.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28

 

“I’m convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, nether the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:38 & 39

May we not miss out on the opportunity that comes our way.