only help my unbelief


Thoughts before bed
November 24, 2008, 10:44 pm
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On the way home from the gym, I had this thought: “What’s the point of life?” and I had this realization that people who don’t know God must feel as depressed as I felt all the time. I almost wanted to sink into a hole until I remembered that oh yeah, God exists, and as my little Sunday schoolers say, God made us “fo His own gwowy.” Lord, may I glorify you.

***

I’m really enjoying writing in these little vignettes, in case you can’t tell.

***

I had dinner with a dear friend tonight. We talked about all the things we always talk about: church, getting married (for the record, I’m not engaged yet. Oh, you didn’t ask? Sorry.), and having lots of kids by means of not using birth control. Our conversations are always hilarious because we act as though we’re trying to convince the other of our arguments, even though we both completely agree. It is good to have friends who don’t think exactly like you, I know, but I also think it is good to have at least one friend who is just like you. Because then you don’t always feel crazy.

***

My mother likes to watch The Hills. I’ll leave it at that. She does watch it with my 14-year-old sister, but is that any better, really?

***

Speaking of my mom, she actually sounded really impressed tonight when I told her that Christian and I were eating dinner with a couple from his work tomorrow night. “It’s great that you have such a social life,” she said. Thanks, mom.

***

Tennessee beckons to us on Wednesday, and I couldn’t be more excited. We’ll actually get to relax and enjoy time with Christian’s family, not to mention a wonderful car ride with music and podcasts and conversation.

***

I think I’ve found my blogging passion again.

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Mee-jut-lee
November 24, 2008, 1:26 pm
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That is how Sinclair Ferguson pronounces “immediately,” and that has absolutely nothing to do with this post. I just wanted to see what it looked like when it was spelled out how he says it.

Lots of thoughts running through my mind these days, mostly about church and the kingdom and marriage and birth control and prayer and music. Instead of taking the time that I don’t have to write a full-blown post about each topic, I thought I’d just write a little bit about each one.

***

The church is made up of believers, and the church is the bride of Christ. Thus, believers as a collective whole are the bride of Christ. So the woman sitting next to me at church yesterday is just as much a part of the bride as I am. I may feel like certain people within the church owe me something or need to take better care of me, but the real question is, how well am I taking care of them? I can trust God to take care of me, and He will. And even though I’m quick to act as though I have no friends or close people in whom I can confide, that’s simply not the case. I was reminded of that this past weekend.

***

Not using birth control is becoming more and more natural to my thinking, especially as I see families who may or may not be using it, but who nevertheless have many children over a short period of time. This is not a jugdment on those who use it. It is simply me saying that I would like to have lots of kids, because I can’t think of any greater earthly joy.

***

The more weddings I go to, the more cynical I become about potentially planning my own wedding. At this point, I’ve decided that my bridesmaids won’t have flowers; I will buy my bridesmaids’ dresses for them; they can wear whatever shoes they like; the guys will not rent tuxes; I won’t have flowergirls; we will invite most people via email; we will have one registry at one store with only absolute essentials. I’m sorry if you end up being a guest at my wedding and any of this offends you. However, it is my (our) wedding. And if I continue at this rate, considering how many weddings I will be attending in the next four months, by the time we get engaged, we’ll probably just elope, so no one will be offended at all. Except maybe my parents.

***

Kids are really smart. They can handle truth. And what is more beautiful than to ask four three-year-olds, “Why did God make you and all things?” and to hear them respond in unison, “For His own glory.” And when they say it, it sounds like “fo His own gwowy,” which is even better.

***

Feeling uncomfortable about your current state of sanctification is the best thing that can happen. I was reminded of this yesterday when I thought about how God started teaching me about the doctrines of grace. What really pushed me over the edge was someone speaking a hard word to me that made me feel incredibly uncomfortable. Who have you made uncomfortable today?

***

It seems like the older I get, I get simultaneously more tolerant and less tolerant. More tolerant of Christians who believe the essential doctrines of Scripture. Less tolerant of those who settle for anything less than total truth. Sometimes these two things clash. But most of the time, I find that those who are settling for less than truth really don’t believe the essential doctrines of Scripture, so it’s a moot point.

***

What’s going through your head?



What happens when you grow up
November 21, 2008, 11:19 pm
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I remember in high school, my best friend Sam and I would stay up late into the night on Thursdays talking on the phone. “Tomorrow doesn’t count,” we would say. “It’s OK if you’re tired.”

I was glad that principle still exists somewhat, because last night I was out later than normal. But as soon as I got home around 11:45 p.m, I went immediately into the bathroom to get ready for bed. By 11:55 p.m. I was out.

And now, on a quiet Friday night, it’s 11:15 and I’m ready for bed. I could stay up later, doing who knows what. But I’m tired. And I don’t get quite the same thrill of staying up late that I used to.

I think that, especially in college, it’s exciting to stay up just because you can. I don’t even know how many nights I would be up until 3 a.m. when I had an 8 or 9 a.m. class the next morning. It was OK, though, because I could take a nap later.

When you get old, like me, there’s no time for naps, let alone much else. And once you know you’re capable of staying up until 3 a.m., even long enough to go get a sub at a place that’s open so late, what’s the point? I’ve been there, done that, suffered the consequences.

And so tonight, I’m going to go to bed and wake up before 10 a.m. probably, just because my body tells me to. And I’ll be a happy camper.



The greatest of these
November 15, 2008, 11:37 am
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I read this week that one of the best ways to destroy your blog is to say something like “Sorry I haven’t posted in so long.” So I’m not going to say that.

But it has been a while.

This past week has been busy in ways that I like being busy. I don’t like the kind of busy that results from me wasting time in front of my computer screen. I’ve spent time with my family, gone to the library, started teaching myself a new language, and actually read real books for fun. And work and eating and all that.

I’ve also listened to a lot of sermons on my iPod, most of them from 1 Corinthians 13. While I’ve read that chapter of the Bible hundreds of times, it is finally beginning to penetrate my soul.

As I look back on the last several years, back through college and high school, I see a lot of things. I see pride. I see self-confidence and self-reliance. I see perseverance without kindness. I see insecurity.

I don’t see love. And when I think about all the things I struggle with now, I’m realizing that love is the solution.

Not love as some sort of ethereal concept that doesn’t have real implications, but love as a choice, love as something powerful, love that comes from God, who calls Himself Love.

All my fears of others’ rejection would cease if I believed that God loved me, and that loving other people doesn’t mean being loved in return.

All my worries about the future would end if I believed that God loved me, and that Christian loves me, too.

All my little annoyances with people would go away if I just truly believed that they’re made in the image of God, and that I do more than annoy God a little, and yet He loves me anyway.

Love means asking others questions about their lives before you butt in with everything you want to say.

Love means saying hard things, honest things, if it will speak truth into someone else’s life.

Love means sacrificing everything you want and think you deserve for someone else’s well-being.

Love means speaking well of other people, even when they’ve hurt you deeply.

God has been slowly starting these things in my heart this past week, and I haven’t succeeded at any of them, really. But it is making me watch my tongue, and stay in prayer more, and want to read my Bible more.

And I think the biggest realization was that all of the things I do that I thought were loving are no more than what Paul describes at the beginning of 1 Corinthians 13. It’s possible for me to teach the three-year-old Sunday School class and be completely devoid of all love. It’s possible to spend an evening with Christian, enjoying his company, but do it without loving him at all. It’s possible to sacrifice time and energy to eat dinner with a friend, and not love her at all in the process.

It’s not very encouraging to look back at my life and see such a lack of love, but it gives me great encouragement to realize that through all of that, God never stopped loving me. And He will keep loving me as He teaches me how to love.

Hallelujah.



Exceedingly abundantly beyond
November 8, 2008, 2:24 pm
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On Thursday I left work to grab a quick lunch at Taco Bell. I checked my phone for messages and found that the director of the temp agency through which I’m employed had called.

She said my company was laying off all its temps at Thanksgiving.

I choked through the rest of the conversation, then hung up the phone. And in the Taco Bell parking lot, I cried for ten good minutes.

Was this really what God had in mind when He gave me this job? I thought.

It just seemed like a cruel joke.

I finally composed myself and ventured inside the restaurant. As I waited for my food, little vapors of memories passed through my mind. I remembered phone calls for babysitting jobs when I needed money to pay my health insurance. The phone call the day I found out I got this job. The brothers and sisters who told me they were praying for me.

By the time I was done with lunch, the future didn’t seem so fearful. God spoke to me mightily.

I fought off tears back at work, though, as I e-mailed my closest friends to let them know what was going on. I asked for their prayers.

Yesterday I was pulled aside at work and told that through a special arrangement, I would be able to stay there until at least the end of December. And at the end of that time, they might be able to work something else out.

I wanted to collapse in a puddle on the floor. I was so humbled that they would go to such great lengths to keep me. Not only that, but I’ll be getting a small raise, which was not expected at all.

It’s kind of like God scooped me in His hands and said, “Chelsey, I could just give you the promise of at least another month at work, but because I’m overflowing with grace and mercy, here’s some icing on the cake.”

I told a friend last night that I had been pondering scenarios that would allow me to stay, but never in a million years could I have come up with the way God actually worked it out.

And, I’m finding, that’s pretty much the way it always is.

And now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly beyond all that we could ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus both now and forevermore. (Ephesians 3:20-21)



Things that are true
November 6, 2008, 10:20 am
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* It is a good thing that an African-American was elected to be president of the United States. I’ve been thinking on that since Tuesday, and the more I think about it, the more amazing I realize it is. It was within the last 50 years that there were significant limitations for people with a different skin color. I know that racism won’t be healed by President-elect Obama simply being in the White House, but maybe some people will be made more aware of their racist tendencies. That would be a good, good thing, because Jesus died to break down walls like that.

* As Christians, pretty much everything is still the same. God is still the same. Our responsibilities are still the same, if not more profound. We are called to be salt and light, and we are called to speak truth into areas where no one is willing to name any absolutes. We are also called to respect those who are put into authority over us, even if we disagree with their policies. It was pointed out to me yesterday that in the New Testament, Peter said to “honor the emperor” when Nero was the emperor of Rome. If early Christians could honor an emperor who killed countless individuals, then we can certainly honor President Obama (who I am obviously not comparing to Nero).

* God speaks to us through His Word. Tuesday night as I crawled into bed, my heart was heavy. I laid awake for a long time thinking about what I mentioned in my post on Tuesday. Before I went to sleep, though, I pulled out my Bible. I started reading through the Psalms last week and was on Psalm 3 on Tuesday. Here’s some of what David says there:

But you, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. I cried aloud to the LORD, and he answered me from his holy hill. Iay down and slept; I woke again, for the LORD sustained me. – Psalm 3:3-5

I was so thankful for those verses. It reminded me that I wouldn’t wake up safely in the morning because a certain man was or wasn’t in the White House. God was the one who would take care of me as I slept, and He would sustain me when I woke up the next morning (and He did). The same thing happened last night. I had moved on from sadness over some of the opinions I had heard from Christian to a fair amount of fear of what this presidency will bring. I think some things may be good. But I’m afraid other things may be very evil. Once again, before bed I opened my Bible to Psalms and read Psalm 4:

There are many who say, “Who will show us some good? Lift up the light of your face upon us, O LORD!” You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound. In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety. – Psalm 4:6-8

Once again, God not only spoke to my inability to sleep, but also to exactly what I was feeling. He ALONE makes us dwell in safety, not money or education or the hands or policies of any human. Our one comfort is that God has lifted up the light of His face upon us, and we can sleep securely in that knowledge every night.

* Abortion is still just as much a horror today as it was on Monday. Regardless of who sits in the White House, we have to be vigilant about this. I almost started crying as I read these words from Proverbs this morning:

If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small. Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will he not repay man according to his work? – Proverbs 24:10-12

I hope some of these thoughts are encouraging to those of you who are feeling the same way that I am. I have read some really great articles in the past few days but haven’t had a chance to compile them yet.



Grace
November 5, 2008, 12:46 am
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I’m not surprised, but I am kind of sad.

At the same time, I will respect future President Obama.

And I’ll keep praying that he starts caring about the lives of the most defenseless in our country.

Maranatha. Come, Lord Jesus.