Don’t Look Down

I will lift my eyes to the Maker of the mountains I can’t climb, 

I will lift my eyes to the Calmer of the oceans raging wild

I will lift my eyes to the Healer of the hurt I hold inside

I will lift my eyes, lift my eyes to You. 

“I will lift my eyes” by Bebo Norman

I love this song. It is one of the songs that I can listen to on any given day and still need to hear it again. My faith is not nearly strong enough, and I need this constant reminder to lift my eyes.

Faith is such an amazing concept. It’s a simple word, and it gets thrown around so much that sometimes I wonder if we cease to wonder at this way in which God’s grace shines. Lately I’ve been going through the gospels (currently I’m in Mark), and it seems like every chapter has something to do with faith. “Is this really a surprise?”, you may ask me. No, it really isn’t. But I am a forgetful, worry-wart, type-A kind of person, so I need to remind myself of this daily. If faith is something that you just have in abundance, and you don’t need that reminder because you look at the Rockies and they just fall and everyone around you panics thinking it’s an earthquake, well then, that’s awesome! But as simple as the concept of faith is for me, I struggle with living in faith.

Recently I’ve been taking a dance class, and I have discovered that as much as I love it and the steps are easy, the most difficult part is me not being in control. I have to trust the guy I’m dancing with not to run me into a wall, or a mirror, or another person. I also have no idea what he’s going to do next, like, is he gonna spin me? No? Too late, I’m spinning anyway. And in the middle of all this, I just need to look up, look at whoever I’m dancing with, and not worry about what’s happening next, but trust. Oh, the depths of my trust and control issues! They cut deep.

I like to draw spiritual and emotional connections through school. I know.

Lately the theme of my life seems to be focused on faith and trust. God keeps bringing it up with me, in dance, in songs, in Scripture. So I want to spread that to you and encourage you to walk in faith every day. I will make myself sick when I don’t understand something, or when I’m scared, or worried, or just not trusting. It goes round my head for days nonstop. I can’t get it out. Not alone. If you are like me at all, I understand that it drives a person a little crazy. It drives us crazy because we are trying to take on a role that is not our own. We cannot possibly know what comes next, much less how to control it if we did.

When we find we are out of control, faith gives us the final step to that trust process. The first step is to stop trying to be in control of every detail. The second is to have faith that God will take care of it. To have faith that no matter what, God keeps His promises. He never fails. And we will see more things and greater things be accomplished through our faith than through our control. When you’re dancing with someone, you can accomplish harder things, more fun things, and just overall look a lot better when you get your role right. We are not the lead in our relationship with the Lord, He is.

I’m sorry if I’m being a bit repetitive in my posts, but this is my life right now. Constant reminders to let go and allow my faith to be bigger.

Ask for faith. Seek it, and know how far it can go. Faith in the Bible led to great things. Not to mention the greatest thing of all- eternal life. If we have faith that one day we will enter into an eternity after death with God, than it doesn’t matter as much that we be in control. Just the thought of God’s promise to us when we have faith in His Son is enough to give us faith for every little, temporary situation we encounter here.

His grace abounds to us, and we know that we can access that grace through our faith. Trust Him.

If this is you too, I encourage you to read Hebrews 11.

I will lift my eyes to the mountains;

From where shall my help come?

My help comes from the LORD,

Who made heaven and earth.

He will not allow your foot to slip;

He who keeps you will not slumber.

Psalm 121:1-3

give grace,

Linds

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Truth vs. Love??

“You will watch a generation of Christians – of Christians – set the Bible aside in an attempt to become more like Jesus. And stunningly it will sound completely plausible. This will be perhaps the cleverest of all the devil’s schemes in your generation. Sacrifice the truth for love’s sake. And you will rise or fall based upon whether you will sacrifice one for the other. Will you have the courage to live in the tension of both truth and love?”

– Beth Moore

Doctrine is somewhat of a no-no word among Christians today. “It divides!” “We just need to work on our love for one another!” “It doesn’t even matter, so what’s the big deal?” People say these things as though doctrine and love are on opposing sides. They seem to think that the truth is only worth effort and discussion if everybody is right. Or at least if everyone is happy and “unified.”

Let me just say, I don’t have to agree with you to love you. Heck, I can be mad at you for disagreeing with me, and still love you! I can even love you if we disagree on the Bible.

I know, it’s shocking, right?

But really, some things that I have heard Christians say are, “We need to focus more on unity, not doctrine,” “We shouldn’t burden new believers with doctrine,” or, “Just love Jesus.” While these hold good advice, except the second one, we can practice them while choosing truth. Doctrine matters too. And if we really love each other, we will be able to seek and discuss truth without ending the discussion in hatred. We may get frustrated, but we can choose not to hate each other nor to sin against another in anger.

Why does doctrine matter? What even is it?

Doctrine is simply a belief held. And it matters because the New Testament tells us it does.

Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.

1 Timothy 4:16

1 Timothy contains many warnings against false teachers and false doctrines. Paul wouldn’t warn us about holding fast to the truth if it simply didn’t matter.

Holding the truth does not mean we abandon love. It means we walk in both.

Don’t get me wrong- I’m not saying that this is something I’ve perfected. I fail in this concept all the time. Sometimes my argumentative side wins, and sometimes my timidness about the truth wins. But I do understand that we need to incorporate truth and love into our lives, relationships, and churches. It is something that I am working on, and I would encourage the rest of the church to work on it too. I’m not perfect, and that is why I must seek the truth. That is why we all must cling to the truth.

Which brings me to my next point. What is truth? As Christians we know that the Bible is truth. But there are so many “interpretations” of what the Bible means out there. Possibly one of the most difficult things for us as human beings is to put aside our own preconceived notions of what the Bible means, and read it to see what it actually says. If what is said and what is taught to you don’t match, figure out why. Sometimes Scripture appears contradictory, but upon further study is shown to not be at all. But a lot of the time verses are taken out of context to be made to say what is not there. The bottom line is to always, always, go back to the Bible. Figure out who the verse is written to. Figure out what passages are written specifically to us as the Church. Don’t insert “Church” into the place of recipient when it’s not there.

Cling to the truth. Hold fast to the faith. Read the Bible as it is, not as you wish it was. I guarantee that what it says is far better than what anyone can want it to say. We all fail, and we all end up being wrong. This is something that’s tough for me to accept, because one of the things that upsets me the most is being wrong. But that is why we keep seeking. We keep reading the Bible as it is. When something is confusing, we look into the context, those it is written to or for, and we consult other translations. We pray about it, and we read it again. And we reason. God created logic, it’s not contrary to the Bible to apply common sense and logic to it.

In the end, know what you believe. Learn the truth about God and His grace in the Bible. There is such a thing as mystery, but God has revealed enough in His word that we do not need to use mystery as an excuse for a clear contradiction. If there’s a contradiction, the reading or the doctrine is wrong.

It is true, perhaps, that young believers need not immediately be burdened with the writings of Christian theologians about long-lasting doctrinal arguments. To grow, we need a foundation. Be founded on the Rock, on the gospel. Start there. Know the truth of God’s gift, extended freely to all. Teach truth.

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience – among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ- by grace you have been saved- and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

Ephesians 2:1-7

I’m not a Bible scholar. Not in a formal sense anyway. I study the Bible, and I love it, but I do not go to seminary. I know there are many highly intellectual people debating the “deep mysteries” of the Bible, and I realize there are more qualified people you could be reading right now. But I do know this- Jesus called fishermen to be his disciples. Tax collectors. Ordinary people ended up leaders in the church of the New Testament. I’m not saying I’m worthy of that, or to be compared with them. I’m simply a girl urging my fellow believers to study. To learn. To grow, and not be satisfied merely with what others tell you to believe, but to be satisfied with what the Bible says. If that lines up with those people, great! If not, trust God’s word. God reveals truth to those willing to see it and hear it. We need to seek it in the Bible.

In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.”

Luke 10: 21

Scripture can be understood when we seek it through the Spirit and the understanding He gives. We seek for truth through wisdom from God, not man. And He imparts it to us freely.

Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written,

“What no eye has seen, not ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”-

these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thought of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom, but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.

1 Corinthians 2:8-13

So in all these things, choose grace. Give grace to your fellow believers, and love them enough to learn together and seek truth. Accept the grace that God extends to you, and fall more in love with Him and the gospel daily.

Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

John 8:31-32

The truth will set you free. This is why it matters.

give grace,

Linds

Grace for Enemies

Hello again, friendly readers!

I was whipping up lunch for the smalls, when it occurred to me that it is past noon on Monday. For some reason the blog had completely slipped my mind this morning. However it made me excited to realize that I get to write today, despite having forgotten to even think about what to say.

This is the week my winter break ends. Up until now, I’ve been able to use, “I’m on break!” as a valid excuse for everything from watching tv late at night to eating candy left over from Christmas on top of ice cream on top of marshmallows. My habits have not been necessarily desirable. Currently I’m not sure if I’m excited about school starting again or dreading it. It hasn’t fully started and I already have homework assignments up online. Good times. I think this year I’ll just beat the punching bag at the gym to a pulp as a stress reliever when needed.

Enough with school. Let’s talk about love!

Last week I taught the middle school class at our church, as usual. And, like always, I learned a little myself. The lesson was on loving our enemies. But how on earth can I teach anyone to love their enemies if I have such a hard time loving mine? I don’t even have enemies! Just people who are acquaintances that I’d rather not love. Then there’s the question- how do I love someone that I cannot talk to? Someone who’s not a part of my life, that I’d rather hold a grudge against? Or someone who doesn’t want to talk to me?

I use language as a way to love people. My words say what I don’t really know how to put into action. They say actions speak louder than words, but sometimes I don’t know what to do, so instead I talk. Or I listen. If that fails, I hug, I cry, I choose to act. Maybe make coffee, or help in whatever way I can. But when someone is away from you, none of those things are an option. The ways in which I normally love someone are not present. Which leaves me with a choice. Somehow welcome them back into my life, or… what? Some relationships end. Friendships end, some families separate, people can break up. So what then? How do you love someone who’s hurt you if it is not God’s will that you love them in person?

The answer I got was prayer. So simple, and I knew it before I even asked. But sometimes I think there’s got to be more to it. It can’t be that simple! Over-complicating things is one of humanity’s greatest messes.

There are so many ways that I try to love people, as I mentioned before. But let you and me and all of us never forget to pray. Of course, the greatest love is to lay down our lives for our friends. We need to strive for reconciliation, and unity with the Church. But we must also pray. When we pray, we are choosing to trust God with the people around us. It is central to our love, because to pray for their reconciliation, to pray for their hearts, healing, life, health, or anything at all is to acknowledge that as far as we can go in love, He can go farther. Only He can fully heal and give us the ability to love.

“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.”

Luke 6:27-28

This passage is speaking about loving our enemies, and there is a progression. Do good, bless, pray. This progression lines up with the offenses: hatred, cursing, and abuse. There is a sort of backing up that occurs on the side of the defense, and a continued turning towards God to love. Do good, bless, and when you’re at your lowest, dealing with the abuse of someone you don’t even want to look at, pray for them. We are called to give grace to the very end through love.

give grace,

Linds

 

Grace for the Control Freak

This week I learned that I don’t do very well with sedation. Not having control while sitting in a dentist chair is not my cup of tea. Is it anyone’s really? But I really don’t do well with that.

I like control. No, I love it. I love to control everything. I mentioned this in an earlier blog post, but it’s an ongoing thing. I feel so at peace when everything is under control and working according to my plan. My homework is done when I want it to be, my chores are done, my blog post is written, my family plans are going the way I want, my grades are exactly where I want them, the instructions are checked and double checked before being followed word for word. It’s such a shame everyone else has control over their lives and doesn’t live by my rules, don’t you think? I’m so good at controlling everything. It all works, everyone is nice, organized, happy, on time. If they’d just let me control them. It’s for their own good! I know how to fix it! Just listen to me!

Ha. Ha.

I’m so silly and stupidly stubborn sometimes. Ok, most of the time. But really, this is how I am. This is Linds, who so desperately needs a patient Savior. I love to control my life and preferably everyone else’s, until the moment that it all falls apart and nothing works out. That’s when I realize how silly I am to think I can play “house” with God’s job.

I trick myself into thinking I’m at peace, that everything is fine. Whether I’m in control or fully know that I’m not, I can make myself believe I’m fine. But the roots of my controlling nature run deep. Anxiety is a true enemy here.

My anxiety doesn’t always show. People who know me best see it, people who don’t may just think I’m bossy. Either way, I love being in control. This week I realized once again that anxiety stems from a lack of faith, and that is my greatest offense. I do not trust God to take care of everything, including me. And I do not trust myself to let Him.

BUT GOD, despite my failing trust, reminds me constantly that what He does He does in love. Too many Christians I know don’t understand this- myself included. I have to be reminded constantly. But the only explanation for anything is that there is a God who loves us. Once that is understood, the rest makes sense. Only  a God who is motivated by and chooses love would dare to sacrifice Himself for us, people who only reject Him over and over. This is grace. He died for us.

In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.

1 John 4:9

Once we believe this, knowing that our sin condemns and our “goodness” is not enough to save us, then we become His children, with a full access to His work and grace in our lives. He extends grace, we accept. And He continues to extend grace.

I teach a middle school Bible study, and some of them will groan about reading or memorizing things that they already know. But the truth is that it all comes back around to Christ. In all my struggles and failures, all it takes is remembering who He is, and then who I am.

If you are wrestling with anxiety today, and trying to control your life to no avail, I sympathize with you. It’s a battle. Please take comfort in this- God is giving you grace. Take it. Even when you screw it all up. He isn’t going to mess up your life. You don’t have to try to make it all perfect. That’s the reason He came and saved us. We can’t do it, ever. If you are a Christian, turn to Him and lean on Him for the grace you need. If you aren’t, turn to Him and lean on Him for life. So sit back in the dentist chair and let him take over. He does what He does to help you and heal you, not to hurt you.

give grace,

Linds

 

 

 

Back For The New Year

Hey favorite readers! 2017 is upon us, and I finally sat down to write again. I could write a list of New Years resolutions, or I could recap the year, or I could try to make up an excuse for my lack of posts over the past few months, but I will try to avoid that.

Instead of a list of New Years resolutions, allow me to talk about the only one that really matters and that I absolutely know I want to commit to:

Live Grace

Now, y’all are probably tired of me harping on and on about grace. “It’s been months since she even posted, and she’s still on this whole grace thing!”

Yes, I sure am. But right now I’m going to elaborate on it a little more.

What do I mean by “live grace”? A reasonable question. When there is a concept or an idea that I want to incorporate into my life I need to come up with tangible ways to do so. I need to come up with practical things to do that will allow me to grow. You most likely need this too. It is not enough to say, “This year, I am going to be healthy.” If you want to be healthy, you have to be specific, like choosing to drink less soda, run more, eat less junk. Otherwise all that is there is the concept of health, but no real progress. This same concept applies to spiritual growth as well. That’s why it is so dangerous to pray for humility or patience. It doesn’t happen all at once, but in pieces each day, until you want so badly to stop but you have to trudge on, like the miles you must run to be healthy.

So when I say that my New Year’s resolution is to live grace, I mean to actively live it. I mean to walk in grace daily. To continue even when I want to give up and lie down. Living grace means that each day I am going to mess up, but when I do I’m going to remember God’s grace. It means that when someone commits a wrong against me, I am going to extend grace, no matter how much I don’t want to. It means that I choose grace. I choose to have faith that God’s grace covers a multitude of sins. I am choosing to go to bed at night after turning to God, even if I failed so much that I don’t see the point.

“But Linds, doesn’t that mean that you are going to be giving yourself an excuse to live in sin each day?”

No. When I walk in God’s grace, I am overcome by the overwhelming realization that I cannot be good enough to deserve it. When I realize that I am given grace anyway, freedom washes over me. When that washes over me, I can walk in thanksgiving, praise, and joy. And I can lean on God for the grace I need to obey, serve, and follow Him each day. One of the beauties of grace is choice. When one is given the choice and the grace to choose God, He brings about the means to serve Him, even in the midst of our fallenness.

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?

For one who has died has been set free from sin.

Romans 6:1-2, 7

So this year I will live grace through faith in my Savior. His love covers a multitude of sin, and in my weakness He is strong. I am so thankful for this grace that continues to cover me day after day, month after month, and year after year. We don’t deserve it, y’all. BUT GOD chose to give it to us freely anyway. So no matter what this year holds, no matter what lows or highs are thrown at us, we can live each day by grace, taking it a little at a time.

Whatever your New Year’s resolutions hold, remember to press in to God’s grace through it all. We fail, we fall down, but He remains.

The saying is trustworthy, for:

If we have died with him, we will also live with him;

if we endure, we will also reign with him;

if we deny him, he also will deny us;

if we are faithless, he remains faithful-

for he cannot deny himself.

2 Timothy 2:11-13

So endure, being strengthened by His grace (2 Tim. 2:1).

One Last Note:

Never Miss a Monday! Some advice I saw regarding workouts. I am going to apply it to my blog. Expect a new post every Monday. I will be telling my friends or people I know that they are absolutely allowed to hold me to it. I know it’s been very sporadic up to now, but I am still here and I am still passionate about this project. So see y’all back here in a week!

As always, thanks for taking the time to read this.

give grace,

Linds