Fiercely Independent Dependent

My office is wonderfully obsessed with personality tests. Myers Briggs, DISC Profiles, and Strengths Finders jargon is a normal part of our conversations, and thusly knowing each other fairy well is a neat part of our office dynamic.

My co-worker who knows me the most, and who is incredibly perceptive and analytical said of me yesterday over lunch, “Betty is the most independent extroverts I know. She loves people, but I am often surprised at how frequently she does not need or want them in various situations”. (Something like that, I didn’t get the exact quote :)).

I looked over to my boss and grinned. “Fiercely Independent” is a term we’ve said about me more than a couple times. It can be a great thing. Though I love, love, love people and being around them– I don’t mind working alone, and am happy to be a one woman show. I like solving problems solo and traveling solo and living solo. But I was reflecting on it while journaling last night (I will post about journaling soon, Kim! :)) and I saw a lot of pride in myself.

Ew.

I hate pride.

I recognized that not only do I sometimes pride myself in “not needin’ nobody” but also in depending on ME to make things happen or get things done.

I don’t want to be like that.

I want to be wholly and completely dependent on the only one who can actually do anything about anything. I want to live like He is the source of every good thing that happens in my life and that I have him to cast my cares upon. Because, newsflash: he is! I want my prayer life to be reflective of the reality that I can do nothing good apart from God’s grace in my life

So today my prayer for myself and my challenge to you is to be more intentional about recognizing God’s power in every circumstance, and our need for Him. I’ll be turning off my car radio today and spending that time in prayer-for the “little things” that I usually do on my own, and to acknowledge my dependence on His grace in everything.

 

When I Sat Down During Worship

Earlier this year I went to a youth conference for Junior and Senior High Schoolers. I sat in on a few of the sessions and was super impressed with the story telling and communicating of biblical narratives told by the speakers. Also I had forgotten how crazy/energized teens are! I mean, college students are pretty wild too, but junior/senior highschoolers at youth conferences are a whole ‘nother breed of human.

Gotta love ‘em.

Anyway, there was a really cool indie Christian band playing worship for the senior high students. Skilled musicians. Super hipster. Great combo. We stood and began worshiping through singing and I was immediately sort of rubbed the wrong way when the lyrics were so artists and cryptic that I wasn’t quite sure what we were talking about. And though I think that style of music might not be best for corporate worship, I understood the gist of what we trying to say and so onward we went. The next song/songs where very basic with few words and even less depth. I didn’t want to be frustrated or a “worship snob” so I quickly reminded myself how I love simple hymns like “God is so good” which isn’t wordy or theological, but simple and true. This is the same sort of thing. But as we sang another song with simplistic, one-sided, me-centered choruses, I thought to myself,

“This is so vague and gospel-less. I could easily be a Buddist singing to Budda asking for blessing, or an Islam singing to Allah of his greatness, or a Mormon singing to my nontrinitarian god about my desire to feel him. And I would barely need to change a word.”

And so I sat down.

As that thought entered my mind, I was so angry at the idea that hundreds of young people who could be worshipping God, but learning nothing and singing nothing exclusively about Him. I started feverously journaling about my frustration with the lyrics and the deep need to be teaching songs rich with many truths about God. In high school these students are studying psychology, and physics, and philosophy, and trigonometry-we stretch their minds in all sorts of ways scholastically, but when it comes to theology all we can have them sing is an indie version of Jesus Loves Me? They can comprehend so much more than that! We need to give it to them.

I let my thoughts roam a little bit. I sat there with my legs and arms crossed and after writing a while checked my phone, probably facebook, and looked around. I saw students with their hands raised high, and their voices raised higher, I saw some disengaged, but most had their eyes fixed on the words on the screen.

I realized I should probably pray.

So I learned forward, elbows to knees, to pray. I’m not sure what I was going to say, probably something about God working in hearts in the midst of milk-like theology, but I didn’t even get a chance to get the words out because I was immediately convicted.

This thought came to my mind:

“You know who God is, you have the ability and opportunity to worship Him in song, and you are deliberately choosing not to.”

I instantaneously stood to my feet.

After standing there for a second I began thinking about/processing what I had just thought. How dare I stop worshipping God. All truth is God’s truth and worship is such a matter of the heart. My focus on what I would change, instead of the God who has changed me is (another!) clear reflection of my foolishness and immaturity.

Though, it was NOT wrong to think those things of wanting the songs for corporate worship to have more depth, its timing was misplaced.

I thought about my amazing earthly father. What if someone where to stand on stage, boasting of how sweet and kind and gentle he is. Would I get annoyed, or outraged and say, “That is not even the tip of the iceberg! How dare you only talk about those things! He was also fair in the way he punished us and showed us what righteous anger looked like. He has loved my mother so well, and is selfless to her-not just to you!” Wouldn’t that be ridiculous? Isn’t that not the place or the point?

My desire for worship lyrics to most wholistically and reverently represent the triune God of the Bible is not wrong, but my desire to stop worshipping Jesus Christ and complain about it was wrong. I know I could have still worshipped, and after my stubborn heart was revealed to me I did!

I praise the Lord that at both the college I work at and the church I attend, our leaders do a great job of mixing songs of “childlike faith” with songs lyrically rich to help us grow in our understanding of the gospel of Christ. But next time there is a worship song that is played that is not heretical, but simply shallow, I’m not going to have a seat. I’m going to engage my heart and mind, even add words of praise of my own, to worship the only God who is worthy of all adoration, praise, thanksgiving, honor and glory.

What do you think? Right response? Wrong response? Additional thoughts?

I’ll Be that Clingy Girl

With this unexpected Snow Day, I’m able to spend a little extra time today doing something I love to do-laundry! Just kidding, I mean writing! (But I am also doing laundry! *pats self on back*).  So I figured I would take this opportunity to share with you something God has been teaching me. Here goes:

I am not strong.

I used to think that I was, oh yes. On my own, me, Betty,  I used to think that I was a strong, naturally faith-filled woman, and that I could overcome anything that comes my way because I am just so forgiving/wise/kind/what have you. Now I would have never said that out loud! Heavens no! I can’t let my prideful arrogance rear its slightly-unattractive-because-i-wouldn’t-even-really-want-to-call-it-ugly head. I’ll tell people, and even try and convince myself that I am just depending on God for all my various trials in life. It’s not my strength-it’s His! But how could that be?  I clearly depended on myself for strength-because who’s happiness was I investing in? Mine. Whose wisdom was I seeking? Mine. Whose plan was I trying to follow? Mine. The way I lived (and sometimes still live) my daily life definitely reflected that I clearly depended on me.

The older I get, the more ridiculous I realize this is. The more I let myself down, and lead myself astray after I make a decision on my own-I realize, that actually…

i am very, very weak in mind, body, and spirit, and that left to my own devices, i make foolish, self-centered decisions.  i am not wise on my own. i am not naturally forgiving, insightful, or kind. When i turn to worldly “wisdom” or look into my heart (read: deceitful, wicked, foolish heart) I end up in a mess.

The truth is that THE ONLY TIME I HAVE ANY STRENGTH, ANY FAITH, OR CAN OVERCOME ANY OBSTACLE WITH GRACE, WISDOM, OR PEACE IS WHEN CHRIST IS RULING AND REIGNING IN MY LIFE.  I need Him to change my affections, my desires, and my outlook on life every single day. I literally can do nothing good apart from Him. I need Him every hour.

My pride keeps me from acknowledging this desperate need for God. I want to think that I can last a few days on my own-and then run to Him to have Him “fill up my tank” again, and then off I go until I need Him again next week. Realizing that I actually need Him every moment because I am so weak and unselfsustainable makes me uncomfortable at first-I feel like I’m this girl ———–>

…so dependent and needy! Can’t I be just fine on my own for a while? I want to be strong and independent! Need God every moment? Uh…isn’t that a bit much?

No. No it’s not. Because I am weak. When I don’t cling to Him-I fail. For I am so incredibly weak apart from my Savior. So I’ll admit my constant need for Him and I will boast in that, because HIS POWER is seen and rightfully worshipped as STRONG and BEAUTIFUL in my ridiculous weakness.

I need Thee every hour, most gracious Lord;
No tender voice like Thine can peace afford.

I need Thee, O I need Thee;
Every hour I need Thee;
O bless me now, my Savior,
I come to Thee.

I need Thee every hour, stay Thou nearby;
Temptations lose their power when Thou art nigh.

I need Thee every hour, in joy or pain;
Come quickly and abide, or life is in vain.

I need Thee every hour; teach me Thy will;
And Thy rich promises in me fulfill.

I need Thee every hour, most Holy One;
O make me Thine indeed, Thou blessèd Son.

My dear friends, let’s not depend on our own strength. It will fail us. Let’s admit our dependence on Him and embrace our need to be clingy. He will never fail us.

Dear students who complain about the chapel speakers we have,


Dear students who complains about the chapel speakers we have,

I remember when I first started learning to LOVE theology and exegetical preaching. I listened to podcasts constantly and would haughtily talk down about chapel speakers who did not communicate in a similar manner. Fortunately, the Holy Spirit quickly convicted me of my pride, arrogance, and immaturity. I learned (and am still learning) to wholeheartedly appreciate that God saves and uses ALL SORTS of people and was glad that chapel reflected that very thing. Needless to say, I am therefore very disappointed anytime I hear a less than loving critic of our speakers. So a few small things come to mind, that may help you process our chapel time in a more Christocentric way:

  1. Of course we would all love to hear from some “Celebrity Preachers”-but financially they are simply out of our budget. We do inquire about such men speaking here, and it is their decision to turn down our requests. This is not a reflection on LBC’s inability to provide good speakers, but a reflection of our frugality, and proper understanding that there are godly men and women who can speak to our students that won’t cost us thousands, and thousands of dollars.
  2. More importantly, the qualifications and judgment of a “good speaker”- is NOT based on how big their church is, how big their following is, or how big their name is-it is solely based on their ability to speak and their commitment to the gospel. Many times those 2 things coincide-many times they don’t. Have a healthy view of humanity and do not exalt one speaker above others simply because you recognize the name. This is a really good clip on that thought! – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4T85dGdkl4A  (p.s. I love Paul Washer!)
  3. We have had COUNTLESS men and women who have glorified God, and moved the hearts of our students in chapel this semester. If you have not been convicted/challenged/changed by listening to the chapel speakers, I dare say that it is NOT a reflection of their skill-but of your heart during their message. God can reveal himself to you in ANY message you hear as long as you are willing.
  4. Lastly, remember this is not your church. Chapel is a time for our students to be ministered to in all sorts of different ways! Instead of critiquing and tearing a brother/sister in the Lord apart when they aren’t “reaching you” how about instead you pray for the speaker and the students who able to learn and hear from the Lord that day?

I WANT us to be “on guard” for the gospel. I want our ears to be attentive to speakers who are too soft on sin or not gospel centered. I want us to think critically without being critical. It is a hard balance. I know! I don’t have this nailed down either! But I know that we should go in listening to speakers with a prayerful heart to God asking him to reveal himself to us, and a heart for the speaker-to assume the best and that God will work both through him and in him.

Saying “No”

On my desktop I have a running list of projects from various people and departments at my place of employment who have asked me to work on something. From script outlines, to event planning, creative writing, contacting people, and organizing information-there is a bit of everything on that excel document. Why? Because I can’t say no. I think Andy Stanley hit the nail on the head when he explains that “often the reason we won’t say no is that we are afraid. We fear disappointing people. We fear being passed by. We fear missing out on a good opportunity” . I know these are my thoughts. “I can do this!” i think, “This is my chance to do something great!” or, “I don’t want to let _______ down; no one else has time to do it”. Sometimes these thoughts are valid, but many times, I need to put my pride to death and explain why I can’t/shouldn’t do something. I need to believe the truth that “Refusing to say no eventually robs a leader of his ultimate opportunity–the opportunity to play to his strengths”.

But what if many of these opportunities ARE playing to my strengths? When is okay to keep on saying yes, thinking one of these moments may be your “Goliath” moment?

I think the answer to this question (and many questions like it) is simple: pray. Only through prayer can you quit the addiction of believing “I can do all things through myself who strengthens me” and cling to the promises of the fact that our High King has equipped you with many gifts! He will allow the Holy Spirit to deliver you peace when you wrestle with figuring out how and when to use them.