only help my unbelief

Self-directed or Christ-directed?
January 13, 2009, 8:00 am
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If you read a lot of blogs like I do, you probably tend to skim more than read. This is probably one of those posts you’re not going to want to read, which is OK, because I don’t really care if you read it. I just care that at the end of the day, you’ve listened to three of the best messages I’ve ever heard.

A friend of Christian’s who goes to Southern directed him to the Great Commission Lectures by Dr. David Platt. Platt is only in his 20s, but he is passionate about the Lord, and he has lengthy passages of Scripture memorized (there are other awesome things about him that I can’t remember).

I was listening to “The Command of Christ in the Great Commission” when I heard Platt ask a question that stopped me in my tracks:

Are your plans self-directed or Christ-directed?

Here’s the thing: When I’m overwhelmed or feel like I won’t get things done, I want to trust the Lord, and I often pray about those struggles. But when I pray, I’m very tempted to pray in such a way that I’m basically just asking God to give me what I want in the way that I’ve decided is best.

And when it comes to actually making plans, while I suppose on the surface I want people to think that those plans are Christ-directed, when I really think about it, I’m making them in a way that suits me best.

Take my current job situation. Most likely, in a couple of weeks, I won’t have this job anymore (and I refuse to talk about the terrible economy, the recession, the downturn). As I’ve thought about other opportunities, most of them revolve around the following thoughts:

  • What will make me happy?
  • Where can I earn “enough” money?
  • What will be best for me and Christian as a married couple?

Those aren’t necessarily bad things to take into consideration, but if you look closely, you’ll notice that they’re very self-directed. Not a single mention of the Lord! A better way:

  • What will make God happy and me holy?
  • How can this situation teach me to trust God more for finances?
  • What job will most allow Christian and me to glorify God with our marriage?

Dr. Platt says later in the message, “God does not bless based solely on our motives. The reality is that God always blesses His plans.”

Well said.


In which Christian and I realize that we’re actually 82 years old
December 18, 2008, 12:00 pm
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Every Christmas, for the past three years, Christian and I have always done the same thing: seen Behold the Lamb together.

I am absolutely in love with the music, the people, the entire idea behind the show. You can read the Wikipedia article to which I linked, but I’ll give you a rundown of what goes on.

Basically, Andrew Peterson and a bunch of his friends (like this guy, this guy, this girl, this guy and this guy, and sometimes this guy and this girl and this girl) play some of their songs for the first half of the show. There’s an intermission, and then they come back and play through all the songs from Behold the Lamb, which basically tells the story of Christmas from the Old Testament until Jesus dies on the cross (which, actually, is the story of Christmas. Not just the innkeeper part.).

If you’re still dubious, let me just give you this line from the song Labor of Love, which describes the night Jesus was born from Mary’s point of view:

Noble Joseph at her side, calloused hands and weary eyes.
There were no midwives to be found on the streets of David’s town in the middle of the night.
So he held her and he prayed, shafts of moonlight on his face,
But the baby in her womb, He was the maker of the moon,
He was the author of the faith that could make the mountains move.

It makes me weep EVERY TIME.

Last night, Christian and I both got off work early. He drove to my house and got in my car to scoot up to Charlotte. We made it just in time for the show and found our seats.

The “in-the-round” portion, where all the members of the tour play their own songs, was great. I knew most of the songs that were played, mostly because the members of the tour basically make up my top ten favorite musicians, which made it even better. I love singing along (no feedback yet on whether the people around me loved my singing along).

During the intermission, we went up to the tables, realized we already had all the CDs they were selling, and sat back down. Then they started playing the songs for Behold the Lamb. It ended with everyone at the show singing “O Come, All Ye Faithful” and “Angels We Have Heard on High.”

As soon as the last strain of the last song faded, I picked up my purse.

“Are you ready to go?” I asked Christian.

“Oh, but didn’t you want to see Jill and Andy?” he said. Jill and Andy are married and are good friends with Christian’s former youth pastor. They’ve played several times on Christian’s church youth retreats. The last time we saw them, they remembered him and it made his day.

“Well, I do, but if we leave now we’ll beat all the traffic,” I responded. It was at this point that I realized I had become my father, who always used to make us leave sporting events before they were completely over so that we could “beat the traffic.” When I told my mom about me saying this, she was horrified.

“There’s going to be traffic anyway,” he said. “Let’s go see if they’re up there.”

At this point, I almost started crying, because I was so tired, and I said a variety of incomrephendable things like “I’m sure they’re not up there” and “They won’t remember you.” In case you’re wondering, yes, I was being a complete jerk.

So we wandered up to the stage, where some of the tour people were putting away their stuff. Of course, the only people not putting away their stuff were Jill and Andy. So we stood off to the side and joked about talking to the other Andy. I lamented the fact that I hadn’t made him double chocolate peppermint cookies, because he had commented about them on my Facebook status, which made my day.

We waited for at least 15 minutes. Still no sign of Jill or Andy. We went out to the merchandise to see if they were there. Nope. We came back and saw Andrew across the room. It was the first we’d seen of him, so we wondered if Jill and Andy were with him. They weren’t, but we decided to say hi to Andrew and remind him of some stories he told us a few years earlier.

We waited until we could talk to him, and he was friendly as always. Christian brought up the stories.

“Hey, Andrew, you probably don’t remember us, but a couple years ago we saw you in Knoxville and you told us about this time when you played in Columbia and my fiance saw you, and you were playing a song called ‘Mary Picked the Roses’ and you passed gas during it.”

Andrew laughed and said he often regrets the stories he tells.

“Yeah, and then another time, you told us that even though we were in college, we should get married, because you got married in college and you said it was awesome because you got to be in college but it was OK to have sex.”

Andrew laughed with us some more, and we told him that if they ever made a documentary about his life, we would be happy to share those stories again. I think he was really appreciative.

On the ride home, we discussed what we might talk to him about the next time we see him in concert, and decided we are actually no longer able to approach him, because what are we going to say? “Hey, Andrew, you probably don’t remember, but last time we saw you we told you about how the time before that when we saw you  we told you about the time before that when we saw you and you told us these stories…” It could go on forever.

Anyway, after we talked to Andrew, we spotted Jill and Andy. They were in the one spot we hadn’t yet surveyed. Happily, they remembered Christian and so the entire 30 minute wait was worth it. At least for him. They also spoke to me very kindly, telling me I look like the wives of one of the other guy’s on tour, which is always kind of awkward, because you don’t realy know what to say.

And with that, we left, and this is when it become readily apparent that we are no longer in college. When we first planned to go to the show, we knew it would be on a work night, but we figured we could just shake it off the next day. We left Charlotte around 10:15 p.m. for what was essentially a 2-ish hour drive. I normally go to bed at 11 p.m.

We stopped at Sonic around 11 because neither of us had eaten dinner. It took forever, and they gave me a cherry slush instead of a cherry limeade slush, WHICH IS NOT EVEN KIND OF THE SAME. My onion rings, however, were delicious.

Once we got done there, Christian was driving and trying to eat and so we got on the wrong interstate. This took about 10 minutes to correct. At this point, it was about 11:30 p.m. and we were still approximately one hour from home.

“Are you OK to drive?” I asked.

“Oh, yeah,” he said confidently. “I can definitely make it home.”

I dozed off for about three minutes.

“Are you sure you’re OK?” I asked again.

“Actually, can you drive?”

And so we pulled over and switched.

“Just let me know if you need to switch again,” he said, and then he promptly fell asleep.

And so I kept myself awake by singing along to the Hairspray soundtrack.

I stumbled into bed around 12:30 a.m., only to wake up less than 6.5 hours later for work.

When the alarm clock went off this morning, it was abundantly clear that I no longer possess the on-demand adrenaline-laced blood that pulses through your veins when you’re up all night with friends and have an exam at 8 a.m. the next morning. Even worse was the realization that I couldn’t just go to work for a few hours and then come home and nap.

My 97-year-old great grandmother, though, apparently sleeps until 1 p.m. every day, though, so maybe it’s not so bad to grow up.

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)

No fitness, but lots of links
August 29, 2008, 2:25 pm
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Well, as I said at the beginning of the week, I wasn’t promising much in the way of posts. This week has been busy with babysitting, job hunting and one pretty fun Carolina football game that I wasn’t expecting to get to go to.

In two hours or so I’ll be heading up to Tennessee with Christian for Labor Day. We’re excited to get to spend time with his mom and stepdad and with all his friends from school and church.

I have a lot of posts in the works, but for today, I’m going to point you to some stuff from around the web that I’ve found really, really interesting.

* McCain announced his VP pick today – Sarah Palin, governor of Alaska. Back in April, before she was on any radar whatsoever, Al Mohler wrote a post about her son, Trig, who they chose to have even though they knew he had Down’s syndrome. It’s a compelling story that flies in the face of everyone who not only believes in abortion, but those who believe in selective abortion.

* The Boundless blog is running a series of posts by David Powlison about mental disorders and medication. Read part 1, part 2 and part 3, then read a clarification Powlison wrote today. I really appreciate this series, because two years ago I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression and the remedy most people recommended was just to take medicine. It was a decision I struggled with for a long time. I think it’s important for every Christian to read posts like these in order to love and serve their brothers and sisters in Christ better.

* Finally, if you haven’t read it yet, check out Donald Miller’s opening prayer at the Democratic National Convention earlier this week. I’d be interested to know what you think.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend, a blessed Lord’s day, and a relaxing Labor Day. I’ll see you Tuesday!