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“This is the Lord being my shepherd”

August.8.2010

My affections are regularly torn. I love spending time alone to think, pray, process, read, listen, and just be – and my soul needs these times like oxygen – but it seems as if I only allow myself to take them when a) I am absolutely craving it, or b) There are no other options for me to be with people. I am a very extroverted person. I feed off time with people so much so that it hard for me to stay awake if I’m by myself – so naturally, my default is being with friends. I see most of them on a daily basis. I live with a family with four young children (and twelve chickens) that have captured and invaded my heart intricately. However, when I do sneak away and make myself take those times, alone, with the Lord, He’s so faithful. He teaches me. Deeply. Freely. Poetically. He allures me back to reality – to the hopeful, anticipatory, incontrovertible truth of His love, covenant, and grace. Therefore, most of the time, I am divided as to which is more important at each specific moment – time with people, loving them, serving them, enjoying them; and time alone, with the Lord, breathing deeply in his goodness.

So, background: if you haven’t yet heard I’m moving to Temple, Texas. Yes… Temple, Texas. I’ll be teaching first graders at a school there called Central Texas Christian. I’m elated to have my own classroom and teach under a Principal whom I respect greatly. The Lord continues to place possibilities, plans, projects, and ideas in my mind for the class each day and it’s absolutely thrilling. But in those moments I’m not thinking of ways to improve my future classroom, the weight of leaving people I love in the B/CS hits me like a corpulent man lolling on my chest.

Which brings me to yesterday. I was driving back from bringing most of my material possessions to Temple and the Lord decided He would teach me – set things straight in my spirit once and for all. Psalm 23 came upon my lips, bringing with it the sweet taste of His truth.

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“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. Even though I walk through the Valley of Deep Darkness, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Only goodness and steadfast love shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall return to dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

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This has been one of the most comforting* psalms to me ever since I memorized it last spring. But this time – this car ride – something was different. He started showing me how to recognize these truths in my life, in situations that commonly seem as burdens or hindrances. He taught me to start claiming these circumstances for good, for truth, for His glory. To say, “This is the Lord making me lie down in green pastures,” or “This is the Lord leading me in a path of righteousness – for His name’s sake,” or “This is me walking in the Valley of Deep Darkness and the Lord walking with me, so I can fear no evil.” He showed me that this new branch of life – moving and teaching in Temple – is good. This is the Lord being my shepherd. He moves me where He knows I need to be. I shall not want; He provides all I need. Selah.

I can rest in this truth. This time in this unknown city will be ferociously beneficial to my soul. I will not have to choose, to be torn between decisions of how to spend my time. He has moved me into a city where I don’t know a single person and chosen the decision for me. In those clear moments when I see this reality, my soul rushes wildly in me, splashing refreshingly onto the breakers of my heart.

Or I should rather testify, “This is the Lord restoring my soul.”

I’m excited!

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*and here I mean comfort as in the oldest sense of the word – to strengthen, support, and encourage

“You’re GOOD.”

April.19.2010

It hit me yesterday while I was reading the Jesus Storybook Bible* that when the Lord told His newly formed creation, “You’re GOOD,” it wasn’t merely some effusive praise or merited approval – it was a dictum sent forth to every corner of their beings.

And as I was pondering this, He showed me how He speaks this into our lives now, as well – we have only to embrace the grace that comes through Jesus. Our God screams out, “You’re GOOD!” not only over our adopted spirits, but also into out shortcomings, mistakes, and sins. Now I’m not saying that He thinks those imperfections are good by definition, but rather that He makes all those things good. He makes all things good for Himself. He promises all things will work together for our well-being and ultimately for the praise of His glorious grace.  Our hope is great!  How holy and blessed and sovereign is our Father!

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*I purchased this a few months ago after reading Andrew Peterson’s review.  It’s veraciously fanciful and I enjoy every minute I read… and I’m not even a kid.

ANYthing.

April.15.2010

I’ve been reading in Ezekiel lately and just recently came to the end.  But throughout the entire writing, I continually noticed this never-exhausted fact: our God will do anything so that His people (and the nations) will know that He is the Lord.

The Lord was doing some seriously crazy, completely divine, and seemingly tortuous stuff to and through Ezekiel – His prophet – (all the while Ezekiel being righteously obedient) and all so that the wholly contumacious Israelites and blindly oblivious surrounding nations would know that He is the Lord.  The whole book concludes with our God proclaiming that there will be a new city with a river flowing from the temple, bringing life to the nations.  And the name of this new city, the one that gives equal access to all of His people:  “Yĕhovah shammah” – “The Lord Is There“.

Our God is good.  He always works everything for good – for His glory and the good of His people.   Let us intrepidly declare His praise together.

Public Radio

March.20.2010

Music imbues my soul with truth in ways that discussions or individuals just aren’t able to duplicate. With that said, Mark Mathis‘ impassioned lyrics, multifarious musical styles, and unrestrained vocals on Public Radio engender truths and emotions that can’t be expressed with mere words.

 

You should check it out.

On a slightly different yet analogous note, John Mark McMillan (the original writer of “How He Loves” from his CD The Songs Inside the Sounds of Breaking Down) has also merited a great deal of playing time with me. His poetical lyrics, rock ‘n roll style, and intrepidly ardent voice hooked me from the first time I was shown his music.  Oh, and another sweet bonus: he’ll be in COLLEGE STATION on the 26th of March, 7pm at the Palace Theatre.  I’m convinced it will be a wonderfully fierce show.

Here’s some of those imagery infused lyrics I mentioned – this is from his CD The Medicine.  Here’s the video.

Skeleton Bones

Peel back our ribs again
And stand inside of our chest
We just want to love you
We just want to love you yeah

Peel back the veil a time
Let us see you with our naked eyes
We just want to love you
We just want to love you yeah

Skeleton bones stand at the sound
Of eternity on
The lips of the found
Grave stones roll
to the rhythm of the sound of you
Skeleton bones stand at the sound
Of eternity on
The lips of the found
Yeah so separate those doors
Let the sun of resurrection in

Oh let us
Adore the son of glory
Dressed in love
Open up your gates
Before him
Crown him
Stand him up

We want your blood to flow inside our body and
We want your wind inside our lungs
We just want to love you
We just want to love you yeah
We want your blood to flow inside our body and
We want your wind inside our lungs
We just want to love you
We just want to love you yeah

Everything that breathes
Everything that breathes
Everything that breathes

the endurance of the prophets

January.31.2010

I’ve been reading Ezekiel lately and the Lord has been showing me some of the crazy things He tells His prophets to endure so that the people would understand that He is the Lord.  In Ezekiel 4, for example, one of the metaphors the Lord tells Ezekiel to act out for the people of Israel is the future siege on Jerusalem.  So first, Ezekiel is to take a brick and engrave Israel on it, build a siege against it, put a siege wall around it, place battering rams against it, put an iron griddle in between him and all this to symbolize an iron wall, and he is to let it be in a state of siege.  While this is happening, Ezekiel is instructed to lie on his left side for 390 days (the amount of years of Israel’s punishment) and to bear their punishment on his arm.  Three hundred ninety days!  Then, if that wasn’t enough, he was to turn over on his right side and bear the punishment of Judah (40 days) on his bear arm, all the while prophesying against the city.  During this time he is to eat rationed and inferior wheat (to show that a famine was coming) baked over cow poop (well the Lord first told him to use human manure but Ezekiel told Him that he has never defiled himself and begged not to and the Lord compromised with the cow poop) to show the people how bad it would be during this time of punishment.  There’s even more interesting stuff in Ezekiel 5 that you should take a look at too.

But one of the coolest things that has always stuck with me since Thad brought it up at comchurch (probably a year ago or so) was that the Lord instructed Ezekiel to go to these people and proclaim to them everything He put into his mouth and “whether they hear or refuse to hear, they shall know that a prophet has been among them”. This must have been such an encouragement to Ezekiel – to know that his job wasn’t to put his hands on their hearts and make them right, but to proclaim rightness through the streets and in the ears of the all the Lord’s people. I think this relates well to our responsibility as children of the Lord.  We are to go and proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ to all the peoples.  That’s it.  I mean, sure, loving them is part of the deal, it should be part of our nature as children of the Most-High God.  But we aren’t expected to change their hearts – that’s the Lord’s choice and privilege.

Well, the people end up not listening and the Lord brings all this destruction forth about 7 years later.  And as our God repeated over and over, He did all this – famine, sword, disease, removing them from all they owned – in order to show that He is the Lord to the little remnant that He spared.  So that His people would continue to be His people.  I love that our God is so jealous for what is rightfully His.

Us.

the aftermath.

January.19.2010

so, i realize the title may sound negative.  it’s not, i promise.  i just liked how it sounded.

and if you haven’t heard, i’m back from africa (that is what the non-negative title was referring to).

the trip (all wrapped up) was good.  i had new experiences everyday.  the Lord taught me much through being somewhere out of my comfort zone.  and He taught me i had a comfort zone.  i never thought of myself as a person having one, but apparently i do.  most of anything being there, i learned that i missed my community here.  i realized that living overseas as a ‘missionary’ is just the same as living in your little town / big city in america and being intentional.  Jesus’ words about loving each other and other people who you don’t even know or other people you do know and aren’t necessarily accustomed to liking to show His love now make more and practical sense to me.

all in all, the Lord taught me more than i thought or expected to have learned.  and i learned that i really enjoy being able to eat fruit right after i buy it and drink shower water whenever i like.  but i do miss the people – and the coffee.

what’s next, i assume you’re asking?  well, i’m living in college station and substitute teaching and babysitting until i snag a teaching job.  i’ve applied, now i’m just waiting for a young lady to have a baby or an old lady / man to retire.  we’ll see!

i hope you all have a happy day.

hope in the crazy hopelessness

January.19.2010

you may recall that i visited Haiti this summer with these wonderful people.

Haiti Team

i can’t tell you how much that has affected how i view this earthquake and it’s effects on the families living there.  somehow, it just seems real.

i feel like normally i have a hard time connecting with the hurt of people that are away from me – that i never met, nor would ever meet.  even the september 11th deaths or various hurricanes/ tornadoes/ tsunamis i’ve heard about in the past 22 years of my life could not tug at the strings of my heart hard enough to muster up emotion.  but Haiti – i know these people.  i’ve walked where there is now only rubble.  i’ve met the little girls who may or may not still have breath in their lungs.

i know the people who are doing something about the widespread devastation – who are opening their freshly damaged homes to people with freshly damaged bodies and trying to put them back together. trying to show them hope in this crazy hopeless situation.  what little the people there had is now all lost. all of it.  homes, sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, body parts.  the earthquake ripped these precious lives and possessions from them without warning or asking.

yet, through all of this, i know our God has His purpose in it, and His purpose is good – it is for His glory and for His children’s good.  join with me in praying that He continues to use this hopeless situation to bring Haitians to Himself.  to make the orphans His children and the widowed part of His bride.

and if you would also like to join with me in narrowing the monetary need that has been spreading since january 12th, you can give some to these people and trust it’s going directly to bandaging wounds and hearts, searching for lost, and providing food and water.

grace and peace from our Jesus in this time of chaos.

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