Bumper Stickers

There has been a bumper sticker on the back of my car for the last four years.  It’s a dragon inside of an outline of Texas.  It’s the mascot symbol of where my kids used to go to school and also of the state in which we live.  The kids can always tell which car in the parking lot is mine because of the identifying sticker.  Even friends in our community can tell my car apart from others because of this sticker.  

The only problem is my kids don’t go to that school anymore, they haven’t gone there in over 2 years!  Yet I still have that darn sticker on my car.  That sticker which defined our life to the point where we wanted to show the world our allegiance, no longer defines us.  We are still the same people, driving the same car, but simply no longer identify ourselves with that school.  

Salvation in Christ is our bumper sticker.  Over the course of time that is the one and only bumper sticker that will forever hold true in our life.  Schools, sports, states, even countries will fall away, but Christ will forever remain.  When you accept Christ, your old bumper sticker is removed and the new sticker of salvation is replaced.  You are made new in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17).  It’s also what distinguishes us from the others.  We are set apart and unique in our identity in Christ.

This week I removed the dragon sticker and replaced it with a Bobcat (current mascot) sticker.  Same me, same car, new heart, new identity.  I encourage you to do the same; give your life to Christ and be made new.   Remove the bumper sticker representing your old life and proudly wear the sticker of your new life in Christ.  There is nothing more freeing than the love, grace, mercy and joy found through a personal relationship Christ.  

See also Waving Flags for additional encouragement.

2 Corinthians 5:17 – Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

Galatians 2:20 – 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 for me.

Colossians 3:9-10 – Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.

Ezekiel 11:19-20 – And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them.  I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them.  And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.

 

Called To Be

We each go through phases in life. Phases of joy and times of sorrow. Phases of stress and times of quiet. Phases where we are close to God and times when we are far from him. The one thing we do know is that a phase is just that, a phase. No matter how hard it seems, we know it will come to an end.

Recently I’ve struggled with a phase of spiritual apathy. Life had become routine. Closeness with Christ had become routine. What I was already doing should have been enough, at least in my own mind. Reading, studying, leading, discipling, I mean, what more could I do?

Follow.

I’m failing to follow. No, if I am being honest, I’m refusing to follow. I can give you any number of excuses: I am too busy, I am already doing enough, I just don’t want to, etc. Netflix is more appealing than quiet time with God. Accomplishing tasks on the to-do list is more important than engaging with others. God has been calling me to be present and engage with others, yet I choose myself and my wants instead.

Through this lesson I’ve learned a few important things:

  • Spiritual apathy is not a phase. There’s no confidence that “this is just a phase.” (Proverbs 1:24-26)
  • Sometimes we aren’t called ‘to do’; we are simply called ‘to be’. Be available. Be self-sacrificing. Be enraptured with Christ. Be faithful. Be still.
  • God is merciful. He is faithful to those who love him (Deuteronomy 7:9). Confess and ask for a heart change, and God will be abundant in his grace and mercy.
  • Pray, pray, pray. Start with baby steps in recommitting your all to Christ. Start with prayer; the rest will follow.

I pray that you are encouraged, knowing you are not alone in your journey and in your struggles. If you find that you are wandering, straying, today is the day to recommit to Christ. Lay it at the cross. He already knows how messy you are, and how messy you’ll be, and he decided that you are worth sacrificing his son on a cross for so that you may have eternal life with him in heaven.

James 2:5 – Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him?

2 Thessalonians 1:11 – To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by His power.

John 15:16 – You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.

Daniel 12:2-3 – And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.  And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.

Smoggy Stars

The moon looked so perfect this evening.  Just like in the story books that show the crescent and then shadows that make it look like a man is sitting there fishing.  It made me smile looking up and seeing it.  Then I started looking for the North Star.  The problem is I have no clue how to differentiate the North Star from any other star.  So naturally I started looking for the brightest star (because it feels like someone somewhere maybe told me that once).  The only problem is that living in the city means there aren’t any “brightest” stars, or really very many stars at all.  The smog and the light polution of the city made it hard to see the stars.

Sometimes in life we can get so engrossed in life we can’t see the way forward.  We are so fixated on what the next step in the path is that we miss the journey.  We so badly want to know what the future holds that we forget to live in the present.  We are so buried in our own selves that we don’t see the world around us.  We are entrenched in sin to the point that we can’t see hope or redemption.

Don’t lose sight of the forest through the trees.  Don’t fixate on the puzzle piece you have but, rather, on the puzzle as a whole.  Don’t stop walking the journey just because you lose sight of the path.  When the stars are hidden in the smog the answer isn’t to abandon course and assume the stars are gone.  No, you start to take measures to clear the smog.  Remove the barrier.

Sin is that barrier in our life.  Sin is death.  Where darkness is, light cannot be, and where light is present darkness cannot exist.  Jesus is light.  When you live in sin you are pushing Christ away.  When you draw near to Christ you become more like Christ and thus sin inevitably will fall away (although no one is sinless except Jesus).

If you are feeling lost, confess your sin.  If you are feeling far from Christ, repent of your sin.  If you are feeling alone, know that God is always there.  Just like the stars are always there, even hidden under the smog, God is always there with you.  All you have to do is reach out and take his hand.

John 8:12 – Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Psalm 18:28 – “For it is you who light my lamp; the Lord my God lightens my darkness.”

Ephesians 5:8 – For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.

Psalm 119:105 – Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

Psalm 18:28 – For you light my lamp; the Lord my God illumines my darkness.

Ride to Greenville

God is so great and so faithful.  He recently taught me how small my faith truly is and, through that experience, how great He truly is.

I was recently at an airport flying from Atlanta to Dallas Fort Worth.  It had been a long travel day (two flights over 19 hours) and I was worn out.  I decided to read my Bible while waiting on flight number three.  (Don’t think highly of me, keep reading…)  A kind lady, we’ll call her Sarah, sat next to me and engaged in conversation about how much she loves God’s word, how different Christian speakers had impacted her, and so forth.  Through that conversation she mentioned that she intended to take an Uber from the Dallas Fort Worth airport to Greenville for a conference.

Greenville, Texas is not close to anything, especially not close to the airport.  Uber would be an expensive option and it was apparent that she hadn’t budgeted for the distance, and cost, that this Uber would entail.  We pulled up driving directions on my phone and yes, it was an hour and fifiteen minute drive.  There was no way she was going to be able to afford an Uber to Greenville.  After two flight delays, two hours of conversation and dinner together, we parted ways to board the plane. Our conversation ended with my saying “I’ll pray for a ride to Greenville for you.”

But if we’re being honest, there was no way she was getting a ride to Greenville.  At least, there’s no rational way she would get a ride.  I did pray for a ride for her, absolutely, but no one goes to Greenville.  There was no way she was going to find a ride.

I found my seat on the plane and sat next to a lady, whom we’ll call Chloe.  Chloe was on her third flight as well, headed home from a two week mission trip in Kenya.  Through her mission trip she had encountered Christ in the most unexpected ways.  We talked for the next two hours about all the great and mighty things Christ had done in our lives over the last couple of weeks.

It was an hour into our conversation when she mentioned that her husband and six kids (yes you read that right) were picking her up at the airport and then making the two and a half hour drive home.  She lived in a small town I’d never heard of and when I asked her where it was located relative to the airport and surrounding cities, she mentioned it was north of Greenville.  (Which is random in and of itself because no one talks about where they live in relation to Greenville!)  I about died right there in my seat.  I said “Did you say Greenville?”

You can probably imagine how the rest of the story goes.  In the end, Chloe, her husband and six kids gave Sarah a ride to Greenville.

The song “How Great Thou Art” keeps running through my head.  Within 1 hour of reading my Bible and pouring my heart into worshipping Christ I became doubting Thomas by not believing that God would really deliver a ride for Sarah.  Oh ye of little faith!

How often do we doubt God’s greatness?  God’s goodness?  God’s glory?

Our God is a great and mighty and faithful God.  He taught me that day that there are no small prayers, there are no ridiculous requests.  He can absolutely do miracles, big and small.  That day, even though I doubted, God delivered.  Even though I failed, God persevered.  Even though I stumbled, God did not fall.  He is greater and mightier than we’ll ever comprehend.

Never give up hope.  Never give up faith.  God is with you all the time.  Right now.  He’s with you walking beside you through life, good and bad.  He never leaves you nor foresakes you.  You are loved and cherished.  There’s nothing too big or too small for God.  Go to him, seek him, lean on him, talk to him.

May God receive the glory for the miracle he did that day.  Many thanks to Sarah and Chloe for playing a role in changing my life.

Ephesians 3:16-19 – That according to the riches of his glory he may grant to you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith –  that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is in the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Mark 11:22-24 – And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God.  Truly, I say to you, whoevere says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him.  Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

Luke 1:37 – For nothing will be impossible with God.

2 Corinthians 5:7 – For we walk by faith, not by sight.

 

20,000 Words

Did you know that the average woman speaks about 20,000 words a day? (Not a scientific statistic.)  Well they clearly have never met Livi.  She most definitely speaks minimum 40,000 a day!!  But, if we’re being truly honest, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.  One of the things on my “must work on myself in this area” list is to be quiet more, i.e. shut up Lindsay.  Writing doesn’t count does it!? *Insert winking smiley face here*

It’s funny how we are each communicating all day long.  Sometimes on social media, sometimes over email, other times in our own head, and even more often verbally.  We often hear about reflective listening skills and it’s importance in the transmittal and receipt of communication.  When someone is expressing something to you, you demonstrate active listening by stating “What I heard you say is [blank].”  We also know that before we fire back with our first instinctive response we take a deep breath, process the information we just received, and then craft a response from a place of grace-giving love rather than hurt-filled anger.

What we sometimes forget to realize is we are constantly transmitting communication with our Savior as well.  When we are too busy to have our quiet time.  When we cuss at the driver that just cut us off.  When we go to bed and realize we completely forgot to pray all day.  Or even when we look in the mirror and all we see is flaws and imperfections.  All of it is communicating loud and clear to our Lord and Savior.

What are you communicating to God today?  How are you communicating with God?  We are all broken messes, and we will forever have areas in which we can improve.  God loves you, he loves me, and he wants us to live in the freedom that the saving grace of Jesus Christ brings.  In a relationship with Christ, we can be messy and be forgiven.  We can know the true meaning of unconditional love.  Take this grace, take this freedom, and run with it my friend.  Love others, love yourself and most of all, love Christ.

Ephesians 6:18 – And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.  With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

James 5:13 – Is anyone among you in trouble?  Let them pray.  Is anyone happy?  Let them sing songs of praise.

Jeremiah 29:12 – Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.

Psalm 17:6 – I call on you, my God, for you will answer me; turn your ear to me and hear my prayer.

Best of Places, Hardest of Times

My backyard is one of the most peaceful places on earth. At least the most peaceful place closest to home without the headache of traveling. (Ha!) Have to give credit where credit is due; God has made lots of wonderful places on earth. Anyway, we have a small pool with a stone fountain, tall hedges, lots of privacy and the hot tub has a waterfall into the pool. You can lounge on the sofa in the shade of the gazebo and listen to the birds chirp. Squirrels run along the fence line and rarely do you hear a barking dog. There is nothing better than sitting outside, waterfall in the background, breeze blowing, Francesca Battistelli playing on the speakers, eyes closed and praying to Jesus.

God and I do lots of talking outside. We do lots of talking on my couch inside too (Texas heat!). It is in the quiet  that I hear him the most. Unfortunately, there isn’t much quiet in my life. I have to make the quiet happen. Whether it’s after everyone goes to bed or the 15 minutes between picking the kids up and getting dinner started, I make it a point to find the time for the quiet. Sitting outside sets the stage for quiet and sets the stage to be vulnerable (I guess because no one else is around?). Make your quiet time intentional. Start small, don’t try to conquer the world in a day.  Even just a minute or two is a place to start. 

It is in the best of places that I have my hardest of times. It’s when God speaks to my heart and the tears roll down my cheeks. It’s a place to confess my sins, to breakdown and tell God I’m a mess.  It’s my place to sob about death and mean kids at school and consequences I am suffering. It’s a safe place to cry out to Jesus that I don’t have it all together, and I don’t know what I’m doing so I sure hope he does. Then he holds me and loves me. I can imagine his arms around me, just holding me and comforting me, letting me get it all out of my system. And once I’ve got all the messy out he simply says “I forgive you. I love you” and continues to hold me.

Those words, those simple words are life-giving words. They will set you free for an eternity.  You can start your eternity with Christ by accepting Jesus today.  

James 4:8 – Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double minded.

Matthew 6:6 – But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father who is unseen. Then your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.

Mark 1:35-37 – Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place where he prayed.

 

Respect the Inbox

Man!  The spam junk emails never stop coming!  I’m not a New Years Resolution type person, but if I were going to make one, eliminating spam junk emails would be at the top of my list.  It seems like every few months I get on an unsubscribe kick and sit for an hour clicking “unsubscribe” at the bottom of every junk email.  Within a couple weeks, sadly, my inbox is just as flooded, if not more so, than before.  It’s impossible to find the emails I really need through all of the junk!

Even more frequently than we receive junk emails, we receive junk emotional, spiritual and physical messages.  “You aren’t smart enough.”  “You aren’t pretty enough.”  “You aren’t good enough.” Those are just a few “frequent flyers” that swirl around my head and heart.  These negative statements are in each of our lives.  All the negative junk messages in our head make it impossible to truly hear the loving and encouraging ones, which are the ones we really need to hear.

This year, join me in an effort to intentionally declutter, not only our inboxes, but our emotions as well.  When the voice of insecurity rises up, speak LIFE louder!  When the voice of fear and angst speaks up, speak LIFE louder!  When God is for us, who can be against us?  “For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.” (Isaiah 41:13)

Go “Marie Kondo-style” on the voices in your head.  If they don’t bring you joy, eliminate them!  Get rid of them!!  Now, that’s not to say you should remove the voice of reason, or accountability, or the Holy Spirit.  Those may not always bring you joy, but you can’t live without them.  🙂

PS:  If anyone wants to have a spam junk removal party, women’s Monday night Bible study is a great place to receive God’s truth in a loving way.  We cling to His truth and hold each other accountable to God’s word.  Comment or message me if you’d like more information.

Ephesians 4:25 – Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.

Zechariah 8:16 – These are the things that you shall do: Speak the truth to one another; render in your gates judgments that are true and make for peace;

Proverbs 10:19 – When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.

Psalm 25:5 – Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.

Psalm 86:11 – Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.