a lesson on architecture.

{Yeah…you knew I couldn’t stay away for long!}

I remember hearing a speaker debunk the term “cornerstone.” I remember thinking about Coldstone Creamery everytime he said “cornerstone.” Nothing can distract you like ice cream.

A cornerstone is a foundation stone. It’s the first stone set in the foundation, in a structure. So everything revolves around this one stone. How the entire structure is set is based on the placement of this one stone. If it’s tilted or off by even a little bit – the whole structure suffers.

Jesus is the cornerstone of our faith. Ephesians 2:20 says, “Together, we are His house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus Himself (NLT). Paul wouldn’t write that the whole Christian faith was dependent upon the placement of the one Jesus if He wasn’t solidly, firmly planted…a firm foundation. No amount of weight or heavy storm can sway this Cornerstone. He is unmoving – firmly planted. Those built on this Cornerstone rely on His steadfastness.

The old hymn “The Solid Rock” tells of being supported during the storms of life, when floods overwhelm. It talks of hope being built on His righteousness. “I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly trust in Jesus’ name.” As a part-English major…the imagery and metaphors in this hymn bring a smile to my face. There’s no house of temptation, no structure of self-reliance, or any kind of brick and mortar life that can sustain your life like the frame built on the one and true Cornerstone. Nothing stems from this base that can be moved.

The way a cornerstone is for a structure, an anchor is to a ship. Hebrews 6:19 says, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure…” (NIV). An anchor may be out in the ocean, but when it’s set in the ocean floor, it’s not going anywhere. It digs in and sets up shop until the ship is ready to move along.

“In every high and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the veil.”

Life moves on around me so quickly that I have to stop and catch my breath sometimes. I get lost in the storm and make decisions that I regret just because I have no idea what’s going on! I hate feeling out of control. While the world may spin on, He’s there…waiting for me. Cool, calm and collected. Talk, dark, and handsome. No? …why not? My anchor holds… The one holding me down – holding me together – holds strong. He doesn’t let go…doesn’t move…isn’t swayed. He’s standing firm and sure.

Hillsong United’s song “Cornerstone” uses the hymn I talked about before and adds a new chorus. I can’t tell you how often I listen to this song. I love the acoustic (chapel) version, too. I especially love the lyric, “…weak made strong in the Savior’s love.” I am weak. I am so weak. But in the Savior’s love, alone, I am strong. When I recognize the Cornerstone my hope is founded upon, my strength is there. All other ground is sinking sand. 

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the social media blurb.

I’m a terrible blogger. I weave in and out of writing, get busy, forget, remember, get excited, write, post, then forget again. Sometimes I have this revelation and think, “Ah..I’d like to write that down somewhere.” That’s when I’m come cyber running back here. Hey, friends. It’s been a while.

I experienced another Disciple Now this last weekend. I’ll be honest…I was very nervous about this one. I can’t explain why…I just felt like I didn’t have anything to offer up to the girls in my group.

Saturday morning, my co-leader and I felt like we’d hit a wall with our students. We read aloud what we thought was a pretty simple verse, but the girls just didn’t quite understand what was being said. We struggled and scratched for them to take the text deeper, but we just kept rearranging the words and finding synonyms in the hopes that we’d just move on.

I’m sure the girls could feel how frustrated we were. We so desperately didn’t want them to leave without feeling the gravity of the gospel that we made it about us.

We just wanted to be good teachers. We wanted to be good leaders. I’m sure somewhere deep down I wanted one of my students to stand up in front of all the other students and talk about how great of a leader I was and how much she learned from me.

What is that??

The moment we become so selfish as to beat the gospel into people for our own sakes is the moment we lose everything Christ lived and died for.

After sharing my frustrations with other leaders, I realized what I was saying. The more times I verbalized my feelings, the more I understood how selfish I was being. Since when is sharing the gospel about me?

The gospel speaks for itself, first of all. We read through some of Romans 8 to try and help the girls to understand the gravity of the lesson and all of a sudden it all clicked. I didn’t serenade the girls with my fantastic reading skills. I’m a master reader…my professor told me so. God’s word shone through the darkness of our confusion and clarified and enlightened.

Why do we do that? Why do we try so hard to get the world to see us as a “good Christian”? I don’t even know what that means? What on earth is a “good Christian”? None of us are good. We’re depraved and sinful, but the love of God changes us and it’s by His grace and mercy that we are able to serve Him and His people.

I started realizing how we use social media to up our Christian status. I scrolled through my Facebook news feed and found statuses directed to God. Those prayers aren’t kept private, between ourselves and God. What’s the point of posting them? So people will “like” them? What does that do? Does it get to God’s ears faster?

I post song lyrics, yes. I post Bible verses, yeah. What’s the purpose? Am I doing it so people will “like” it and see that I’m an active Christian? Or am I doing it because it’s something God put on my heart to share in the hopes that someone that needs that encouragement will see it?

There’s probably not even anyone that reads these posts, but I write them in the hopes that someone is on the same page as me. Or that someone can find encouragement that they aren’t the only one.

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a reaction to a rap movement.

I stole this from Instagram. This was taken by Andy Mineo (@andymineo).

I’m probably the least reliable blogger in the blogosphere. I write when I have something to write about. I feel like that’s better than just writing for the purpose of writing…maybe that’s just me.

This weekend, I had the privilege to attend a concert on my college campus. I attend the University of Texas at Arlington (Go Mavs!) and we have a new arena on our campus that opened in March. We’ve hosted Drake, Passion Pit, Flo Rida, and soon we’ll have Rick Ross on our campus. I didn’t or don’t have tickets to any of those shows. My first concert in this new College Park Center was 116 and it’s a concert I’ll never forget.

The Unashamed tour consists of Christian artists such as Andy Mineo, KB, Derek Minor (formerly known as PRo), Trip Lee, Tedashii, and Lecrae. We’re talking about Christian rap, here. I’ve talked about these guys before in this post and also a bit here. If you aren’t familiar with the latest Christian rap movement, you’re thinking of some kind of hokey, groovy rap that is a thing of the past. These guys are completely in tune with different aspects of the rap culture, but are proclaiming the name of Jesus through their incredibly Biblical lyrics. At the concert, my friend and I would catch ourselves no longer jamming and rocking to the songs, but being still…just taking in the lyrics.

I’m still reeling from the incredible messages of hope and life that were shared on that stage. Also I’m still freaking out because it was such a great show…very entertaining to say the least. Those guys are all over the place…SO much energy that I could feel it up on the balcony.

6,500 people heard theoe messages + those 6,500 people went home or tweeted and shared those messages. That’s a movement, my friends.

One of my favorite moments from the concert was when Lecrae said something along the lines of (because I have a terrible memory..)

“If you live for their approval, you’ll die from their rejection.”

Our culture is all about making other people happy, and not in a way of serving them. Popular music, movies, TV shows, etc., tell us that our lives should focus on fitting a mold and, in the words of Trip Lee, being a robot. There is so much life to lose if we live like this.

One thing I noticed as these artists were sharing their stories is that none of them started with, “Oh, I grew up in church…I always tried to follow God’s commandments and be involved in every church activity….”. These guys have some real stories about things that I’ve never experienced before in my life. This morning at my church, they showed a video that talked about how most of the people we read about in the Bible weren’t perfect. I say most because a lot of the stories are about Jesus, who was perfect…so there’s that.

Our culture has come to this conclusion that Christians are great people who always do the right thing. I wish that was right, but it just isn’t. We aren’t good. GOD is good. As Christians, we should see people the way God sees them; love people the way God loves them; hunger for God the way He wants us to. God doesn’t use perfect people because THERE AREN’T ANY TO BE USED. We all have stories that can be used for God’s glory. Some of us are going through trials that only God’s grace can rescue us from and we aren’t quite to the storytelling part of our walk with God. Just know that His love never fails. He is able. Our God is mighty to save.

Now for some of my favorite jams from each of the artists on the tour:

Andy Mineo – KB – Derek Minor –  Trip Lee –  Tedashii – Lecrae

I would also really like for you to watch this video. You’ll enjoy it. Lecrae is dancing…that’s all I’m saying.

Here’s a list of the artists that work with Reach Records, which includes the artists on the Unashamed tour. You can get a lot of FREE MUSIC from these guys. Follow them on Twitter and you’ll find all kinds of links to download their music for free.

Have you seen any of these guys in concert? What’d you think?

a “wait…what?” moment.

“Well, Christian popular music is generally bad. And rap is generally bad. So that would make Christian rap doubly bad.”

When I first read this sentence, I literally laughed out loud. I took “LOL” to a whole ‘notha level. [This sentence was posted on a Yahoo! Answers page.]

“Christian popular music is generally bad.”

The word “bad” means “of poor quality”. So, I’m not sure if this person is saying that Christian popular music isn’t produced very well, the music isn’t entertaining, or the lyrics aren’t good. Also, it’s “generally” bad? Generally. Meaning mostly bad. For the most part, popular Christian music is bad.

Let’s do a little experiment, shall we? iTunes, away! Did you know that the Christian & Gospel genre has its own iTunes page? If it was generally bad and people generally didn’t listen to it, I don’t think iTunes would go through the trouble of making it its own page.

TobyMac currently holds both of the top 2 spots on the genre’s top albums chart. (This is because his latest album also has a deluxe edition.) How many years has TobyMac been on the Christian music scene? Like a billion? Just kidding. But seriously…a long time. If his music was generally bad, I don’t think he’d have been successful.

I know…I’m being Cynical Caitlyn again. I just hate that Christian music has such a bad rep! Christian music has made a huge impact on my life and I know a lot of people who would agree with that.

I know that a lot of people hear “Christian music” and they think of Steven Curtis Chapman or Michael W. Smith. Both of these men are incredibly talented and are cornerstones in the Christian music universe, but they sound very similar to each other and they’ve sounded the same for the last 25 years. Christian music is now as diverse as a popular, secular radio station.

Tenth Avenue North sounds nothing like Bethany Dillon. Lecrae sounds nothing like Hillsong. Chris August sounds nothing like Group 1 Crew. But unlike secular artists, these Christian artists all have one thing in common: Their music isn’t about them!

They’re not wanting to make more money, they want to further His kingdom!

So while you may not be a Michael W. Smith fan, you have hundreds of other options and no two of them sound the same. There’s nothing general about the Christian music world. These artists don’t even “generally” love God. They adore Him and it shows in their music.

“And rap is generally bad. So that would make Christian rap doubly bad.”

Secular rap is bad. I think it’s safe to utilize that “general” word in reference to secular rap music. Secular rap is generally irreverent, racist, sexist…need I say more? Christian rap music, however…is powerful. There are exceptions to this, after all. Karmin, for example, is one of my favorite groups.

It’s encouraging, uplifting, and heck…it makes you want to get up and do something with your life. I love Christian rap. I’ve written about the 116 Crew before. They’re actually going to be on my campus on October 27th of this year. [TobyMac will also be here on October 4th.]

Lecrae recently dropped a new album called “Gravity” and man…I literally can’t think of any words to describe it that would do it justice.

You’ll just have to listen to it for yourself! What do you think about this quote? Do you agree/disagree?

a new kind of fame.

I think at some point, every little girl wants to be a singer. Boys, maybe you, too. Right? Even if they’re not talented in the least bit, we all want to shine. (This is the part where I could get into how every note you sing is music to God’s ears, even if Simon Cowell would scowl at you…see what I did there? It’s called rhyming.) Anyway, that’s true though, right? I was thinking about how I’ll be remembered and who would  remember me when I’m gone, etc., and my daily devotional just happened to be this verse:

“Don’t rejoice because evil spirits obey you; rejoice because your names are registered in Heaven.” – Luke 10:20

Oooh, my name is registered in Heaven. Wait, what’s with that first part? Evil spirits obey me? Whoa..slow down.

This verse needs a little context, otherwise you could take it and run off with it to Egypt.

In the first part of Luke 10, Christ sends 72 disciples out to spread the “good news” of Jesus. He sent them to towns and villages that He was planning to visit. Verse 3 has the well known, “…behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves” bit. He tells them what to take with them and what to do.

Then in verse 17, the 72 disciples run back to Jesus declaring that “the demons are subject to [them] in [Jesus’] name”.

Then, Christ tells them, “Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you” (verse 19).

That’s some major bestowing of power, Jesus! He has given us the power over the enemy! Nothing can hurt us when we dwell in Christ. Incredible words of power.

So, this whole “names are registered in Heaven” thing. Let’s talk about that. When we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior, He writes our names in the Book of Life. The names in this book cannot be erased. I’m a visual learner; I see everything in my head. So when I think about my name being written in the Book of Life, I literally can see in my head a stereotypical Jesus-look-alike scribbling my name in a huge book with a quill and a smile. Isn’t that a lovely image? His hair is probably wavy and luscious, I mean…let’s be real. It’s Jesus.

Where do you love seeing your name? I’m one of those people that thrives off of positive reinforcement. If there’s some kind of contest or prize for people who do a good job, I’m going to win it. I’m a people-pleaser to the max. It’s a sickness.

Are you one of those people that wants to see their name in lights someday? A Barbra Streisand type, maybe? You know, her name is taken down off of billboards and glowing, neon signs. Her name will one day fade away and be forgotten, as crazy as that may sound. But to have your name in the Book of Life is eternal recognition.

You are loved, chosen, without fault, adopted, His forever.

Stop striving to have your name in the world records, history books, billboards, Yahoo, plaques, etc. You don’t have to make a great name for yourself in this world. Your name is written in Heaven, where it really matters. You are so beloved. He sent His Son for you, after all.

…Barbra Streisand forgotten…yeah, right…who am I kidding…I’m a funny girl...get it…

a little something about seasoning.

It’s been a long time, friends. A lot has happened in the last 5 months. I’ve been so incredibly busy with school, work, friends, family, etc., that I haven’t even had time to stop and put my thoughts down.

I’ve been busy. What an excuse, right? Are you buying that?

Lately, though, He has given me rest (Matt. 11:28) and I’ve been able to sleep peacefully (Psalm 4:8). I’m probably the most anxious person in the world. Seriously. If there’s an anxiety contest out there somewhere, I want in. Even though He tells me not to be anxious about anything (Phil. 4:6), I’m anxious about everything. Sick of the word “anxious”, yet? Yeah, me too.

Over the last few months, I’ve become a person I never expected out of myself. Have you ever done that? Realized you’ve been on a path your whole life and never strayed…then wondered what it’d be like to stray? Well, I’m pretty weak apparently, because I gave in. I haven’t taken up drugs or anything that most people would consider “straying from the path of righteousness”, but I can tell you that today was the first time I’ve been to church in a while.

*gasp*

I know. Believe me. You don’t even want me to start in on my list of excuses for that one.

After I click to post this blog, I know a few people are going to be all worried and concerned, but have faith in the God you love as much as I do.

I was so in love with my Redeemer that I began to believe it wasn’t real; it couldn’t be. How could a love that all consuming with a non-physical person be possible? I thought I was being silly, in a sense.

I was wrong.

Oh, how I’ve missed those intimate times with my Savior. I’ve missed reading His love letters to me and hearing others sing about His love. I became complacent and I can tell you now that that will never happen again.

I decided to rely on myself for a while. That didn’t turn out so well. I wouldn’t recommend it.

I became conformed to the patterns of this world (Rom. 12:2), which is exactly what I was warned not to do.

I saw people I thought were my friends and “good” Christians (whatever that means) turning and revealing their true colors. I lost faith in what it means to be a follower of Christ.

I saw how love-less the world has become and it scared me. Pastors and youth ministers are teaching about people who are wrong and are living in sin, but they’re not teaching that their congregation and students should LOVE THE SINNERS ANYWAY. We’re all sinners, after all. Aren’t we? I became bitter with the church and their uniformed teachings about wrong versus right. I thought about all the issues I’ve taken to people I admired in the church and thought…why didn’t they tell me that love was the answer?

Today at a new church that I’m going to be checking out, the pastor said something that echoed in my brain: “Do we care more about the point we’re trying to make or the difference we can make in people’s lives?”

Colossians 4:5-6 says, “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

Full of GRACE and SEASONED with salt.

Have you been graceful with a flicker of salt, or are you pouring on the salt and throwing in a, “but Jesus loves you” in the end?

My dear friend Amanda invited me to check out her church in Mansfield and I can already tell that I’m in the right place. I can’t wait to get involved with the youth group and see those teenagers fall in love with their Prince of Peace. They’ll probably inspire me to keep writing. Well, they’ll inspire me and the Lord will compel my fingers to type. That’s usually how it works out. It’s interesting how this blog has so far been inspired by  2 different youth groups that the Lord has put in my path. I see a pattern forming.

Listening to: “Running” by Hillsong Live

 

 

 

let’s talk about lent.

It’s that time of year again. Some people have given up candy, some chocolate, and some have even dared to stay off Facebook for the 40 days of Lent, those brave souls. Lent lasts from Ash Wednesday until Holy Thursday, but most people end on Easter Sunday. Lent is supposed to be about mentally and spiritually preparing ourselves for the Easter holiday, for a time of remembrance. In the books of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, you can find the story of how Jesus spent 40 days in the desert, fasting and praying, before his ministry began. Not only did his ministry begin, but he also began calling his disciples.

Lent isn’t a joke. It’s not an excuse to give up sugar for a few weeks. It’s not a way to test yourself. It’s a way to trust in God throughout a trying time. For Lent, the purpose is to give up a luxury or something that’s taking your thoughts away from Christ. As you are tempted to pick up the habit or food again during this time, you turn to God and His Word to keep you on track.

All over Facebook, I keep seeing people post about what they’re giving up for Lent. But so far, I haven’t seen anyone post about how God is helping them through their struggle with temptation. However, we’ve already begun posting about how well we’re doing. Lent has turned into a selfish holiday. We’re testing ourselves. We’re relying on ourselves to be strong and to not reach for another candy bar or pull into a fast food place.

What did I give up for Lent? Soda.

I was thinking about what God was calling me to live without and I realized it was simple. As Christians, our bodies are temples where the Holy Spirit resides. Are we taking care of our temples? Are we keeping them as pure and holy as we possibly can because the Holy Spirit deserves that and more? Lately, I’ve been reading a book titled, “Skinny B***h”. Yes, I know it has an awful name. And there’s some interesting language throughout it. It’s not my proudest purchase ever, but it’s fascinating. Fascinating in an educational sense…let me explain: It goes through all these things that we eat, drink, etc. that are harmful to our bodies. It discusses how not only should we be careful about the foods we put in our body, but also the products we choose to put on our bodies, such as makeup, body wash, etc.

Giving up something like soda for Lent (notice I’m using “soda” rather than “coke”…I didn’t want there to be any confusion) is something I’m doing to try and rid the temple of toxins and chemicals. When I have a caffeine headache or reach for a soda out of habit, I remind myself of how drinking it would be similar to graffiti-ing a church. You can be sure that makes me second guess my decision real quick. This isn’t the first time I’ve written about how our bodies are temples, I’ve also mentioned it here.

2 Corinthians 9:7-8 says, “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.”

Whatever you have decided to give up for Lent, make sure it’s what God wants you to give up. Don’t give something up for 40 days for you. Do it so that you can draw closer to Him. If you haven’t given anything up for Lent, I challenge you to pray about it and if God’s leading you, to jump in. Better late than never.

As you fast, feast on the glory of God; bask in His presence and comfort.

-Caitlyn

Listening to: “Oceans Will Part” by Hillsong

my response to a trending topic.

“I’d rather have a Proverbs 31 woman than a Victoria’s Secret model.”

Live 31 is a relatively new movement that centers around being (or finding) a Wife of Noble Character, as outlined in Proverbs 31, rather than focusing on physical beauty. I read the group’s website and something about it bothered me. After discussing it with a friend, I realized a few things. One of which is that not every woman will be a Proverbs 31 woman.

Do I believe “an excellent wife…is far more precious than jewels” (Prov. 31:10)? Yes.

Do I believe that this noble woman will take care of her household? Absolutely.

Do I believe she’s “clothed with strength and dignity”? Beyond a doubt.

There are a lot of really awesome and powerful things in this passage about a Wife of Noble Character…so much so that I feel the need to capitalize that title. However, I don’t think that we should take these 21 verses of scripture and define our lives by them. There are a handful of Godly women in the Bible that were missing quite a few of these qualities: Rahab, Mary Magdalene and Tamar, for example. These women fell short of the righteousness described in this passage, but they were washed clean by forgiveness and we refer to them as women of God.

The opening line of this passage is, “An excellent wife, who can find?” That says that this woman doesn’t exist. Nobody’s perfect, after all. Women weren’t and still are not meant to be measured by one passage of scripture. Women and men both are held accountable to the standard of Christ. We are supposed to model our lives after him, not a passage of fiction.

There are 2 sides to “Live 31.” The first is towards women and encouraging them to live Proverbs 31 lives. The second is towards men and encouraging the pursuit of Proverbs 31 women. My problem with this movement is that it’s not only taking away from the pursuit of Christ-like lives, but also the pursuit of Christ, himself.

Women and men alike should pursue Christ, right? After all, Max Lucado’s famous quote, “A woman’s heart should be so hidden in God that a man has to seek Him just to find her,” is one of the most popular of our generation. (And Lucado’s word is gold…you know it’s true.) I’m down for any group that wants to spark a revolution, but only when the scriptural basis is accurate. This one seems to be a little misleading to me.

What about women who aren’t married or that don’t have children? This “Live 31” idea excludes them.

And what about the Victoria’s Secret models? Nicole Weider was a VS model and is now a mission-work-doing-Christian, but what about the others? Are Noble Women supposed to assume the worst about VS models and be better than them? If I made a really judgmental list about who I think needs Christ’s love the most…VS models would be on that list. Obviously, I’m not a Woman of Noble Character just yet. What if a VS model sees the goals of this group? You won’t see them at church the next Sunday.

I think a true, Christ-like woman strives to do good by all of God’s people, sinner and saint alike.

I’m not saying that striving to be a Wife of Noble Character is silly or unrealistic. I think there are many women who strive to live that life and I think that’s amazing. I’m also not attacking the group. Like I said, I love a good spark.

Have you heard about this group? What do you think?

-Caitlyn

After I started thinking about this group, I searched what other people were saying. This blog post and I seem to be in agreement.