Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A Coffee Date With Twenty Year Old (arrogant) Me

There are so many things that I was told that I wish I had listened to when I was in my twenties.
Oh, if I could talk to twenty year old me, here are a few things I would drive home...

(I love lists, don't you??)

Listen to your parents  
Going to a Junior College for nursing right out of High School probably isn’t a terrible idea.  
 And that new car you think you need, you probably don’t.
Consequences are real 
 Don’t do something just because you want to.  Learn to make wise decisions. 
You are not the exception. 

Take God at his Word 
Just do it.  Bank absolutely everything you have on him.  He will not be mocked.  And he is so good.
Immerse yourself in God’s word 
It is the only truth out there. 

Instead, pick up that phone.  And ask for help.

Spend time with your grandparents
Lots of it.  And get your grandmother’s recipes.
There will be a day when she won’t be around to teach you to make her delicious banana pudding or cornbread. 

When people say they love you, they mean it  
You don’t have to push everyone out.  It is a safe and good thing to be known and loved. 
People really are rooting for you!

Get to know yourself 
What are you passionate about?  What is your style? What do you like? Start forming opinions on things.  
Know what you stand for.  

Let people get to know you 
Your view of yourself shouldn’t taint how you think others view you.
Ask questions. Stop being so stubborn 
 And for the love of everything good, LISTEN.
You will more than likely be in a lot of weddings in your twenties. 
Be happy for those beautiful brides
 Don’t spend their wedding day trying to figure out ways to make it all about you. 

Journal.  Daily.  
 Someone will appreciate it one day.  Even if that “someone” is you. 

Exercise and eat healthy
 These 2 things really do matter in the long run.  

Go on trips with just your mom
 She will be there when no one else is, trust me. 
And she is the closest thing to human unconditional love that you will probably ever experience. 
And she is probably a lot of fun, too.

You really do not have 25 best friends
 Maybe two.  Go deeper in a few friendships and stop spreading yourself so thin.  
And remember those life-long friends.  

Do not check Facebook every waking moment 
It creates false intimacy and your thirty-two year old self will thank you for it.     

Get a passport
And use it.  Go on a mission trip. There is a big world out there. 

Take lots of pictures 
 And not just pictures at parties.  But everyday life pictures.  And no selfies.  

Do not rely on your parents financially. 
(I bet they would have appreciated this, too!)

Be consistent
Settle into a city and plug in there.  Don’t wait on people to come to you.  It won’t happen.  Go to them.   

Spend time with atleast one older, wiser, godly woman  
This is one of the most life changing things you will ever do, trust me. 
They may just end up being your most precious friend. 
And, well, it is biblical.  (Titus 2:3-5)

Embrace your story
And get caught up in the details.  
Every event of your life is unfolding according to God's design and ultimately for your good.    

Learn to forgive quickly
 People will hurt you. Relationships are messy.  
And while you are at it, wipe off your shoulder. Your feelings do not belong there. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Matt, Miley & Me

Matt Pitt, a young man who started a small Bible study that grew into a huge ministry, The Basement, essentially overnight, now sits in the Shelby County Jail without bond. 

 Miley Cyrus, the 20 year old, formerly known as child star “Hannah Montana” strutted out of the mouth of a teddy bear onto the stage with her tongue hanging out at the VMA's on Sunday. She is now being blasted by every news media out there and has become the epitome of what every parent fears for their daughter.

Although one is a famous singer and the other a youth evangelist, they we have alot in common. 

Matt's latest accusation was impersonating a peace officer (it’s ok if you do not know what a peace officer is, I had to look it up, too).  Being one of the most famous youth evangelists in the country just wasn’t good enough. He even has a badge saying he is an honorary peace officer.  But that is not his true identity.  

Miley’s identity search began when she wasn’t Hannah Montana anymore. And it seems like ever since, she has been trying to tell the world that she is no longer a little girl.

I am sure that these two never imagined their lives would be this public.  It was probably in their wildest dreams. But now that they are, lots of eyes are watching. 
Little girls all over the country have watched Hannah Montana evolve into what the world calls a beautiful and successful twenty something. 
Youth all over the nation pour into Boutwell Auditorium monthly to hear the message that the Trussville native Matt Pitt brings.
What is heartbreaking is that I am sure that they never thought this “good life” would end up being empty.  I am sure they never really believed that fame could backbite.
 I bet Miley never went on that stage hoping to be blasted by every news media in the country and I bet Matt never thought starting that small Bible Study in his basement would inflate his ego so much that he literally would not be able to handle it.  And that is the nature of pride...we do not see it coming because it is so subtle. 

The rise to power can be deadly.  

I often wonder what the phrase “humble yourself” really looks like.  I struggle with this phrase.  I want to be humble, but truth be told, I am a prideful, prideful person. So what does true humility look like?


Ok. I know, I know.  Pulling that “Jesus card” again.  But the truth is, the reason we are in the messes we are in is because we haven’t looked at his life.  We think the answer to our problems lies outside his inerrant word.  One thing God is showing me lately is that there is not one thing that his word doesn't address.  
Not one. 

 But really, let’s look at his life.  He didn’t start his public ministry until he was in his thirties.   
And he was God.  
 So, what did he do until then?  He served, he worked, and he sat in the synagogue, listening and asking questions. 
 And he was God.  If anyone could have let their status or fame inflate their ego, it was Jesus.  But, he humbled himself.  Taking on the form of a servant 
 And even until death, he remained obedient and humbled himself under the mighty hand of God.  

"Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
Philippians 2:5-11 
Perfect submission to the Father.  Perfect humility. 

And the cold hard truth is that you and I are not that much different than Matt and Miley.  I am not famous and my life is not public, but I have a mighty strong ego that begs to be fed every single day of my life. My biggest struggle is finding my identity in Christ.

   Pride has always been at the very root of our sin.  We think we know best and we take good things God has given us and bow down to worship the creation rather than the creator.
And the results are the same. For Matt Pitt, for Miley Cyrus, and for me. 

"Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall"
Proverbs 16:18

Father, please do not allow me to take the good gifts you have given me and turn them into weapons for my own destruction.  Show me what it means to humble myself.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Good Land

“The whole commandment that I command you today you shall be careful to do, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land that the Lord swore to give to your fathers.  
And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not.  
And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord
Your clothing did not wear out on you and your foot did not swell these forty years.
Know then in your heart that, as a man disciplines his son, the Lord your God disciplines you. 
 So you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God by walking in his ways and by fearing him. 
 For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing out in the valleys and hills, a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper. And you shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land he has given you."
Deuteronomy 8: 1-10

God is doing something sweet in my heart.  And it has to do with these verses.  He is causing me to remember.  And he is causing me to anticipate.

Because I believe I have wandered in the wilderness.  And I may wander in a different wilderness. I believe he is showing me the absolute necessity for obedience in order for there to be true and lasting joy.  
I believe that I was starving, and I also believe I was fed in my wandering. 
Yes, the discipline of The Lord has been very evident in my life. 
I do not believe God was absent during my years of drug use.  
Dare I say it, he was actually in control of it all.  
Yes, I made poor choices, but he had the final say.  He surely wasn't up in Heaven wringing his hands, sweating, hoping I would get it right.  
He was involved. 
He sustained me.
And he did all of this to make himself known to me. 

But the best part of all of this is that I believe he is just getting started.  He is bringing me into a good land. He is bringing you into a good land.  Even if it is off in the distance. Even if all signs tell you that he has abandoned you.  He hasn't.  Maybe your circumstances tell you otherwise.  Take heart, because God's word has given us a promise and there is nothing more certain. 
Yes, the good land is ultimately Heaven.  But I believe there are "good lands" here on Earth.  
The Psalmist (was it David?  I am not sure...) even says it. 
"I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord
 in the land of the living!"
-Psalm 27:13

(This passage says "a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey"...I think the ideal land would flow with ice cream, red velvet cake, really good coffee, and the sweetest pineapple you could find)

WHY?  Why did he do this for me? Why does he continue loving me like he does? Does he do it because of something I have done?  Well, no...I have "blown it".  I am very thankful it hasn't been up to me.
I would be stranded in the wilderness. 
Was it because I would be a mighty fine trophy of his grace to display?  Negative. 
And so, what do I do in this good land? 

  "And you shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land he has given you."
 Deuteronomy 8:10

Father, may I be found faithful!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

My Worst Enemy

I am my own worst enemy.  When something happens, I like to kick myself so that when someone else does, maybe it won’t hurt as bad because the heat of it has already taken place.  I am smack dab in the middle of this right now.  I am not writing this blog as someone who has walked through and can now offer advice.  I am writing this blog as someone who is struggling.  And someone who desperately needs to be reminded of truth. 

This week, I have been in a wrestling match with myself.  And y’all, I am struggling to bounce back.  I can’t just accept myself as a sinful human, apply grace, and move on.  First of all, I don’t like to be corrected—well, honestly, because I think I know it all. It un-nerves me to be corrected.  But then when I do stand corrected, war begins.  Between myself and my expectations of who I think I should be.  

And then disappointment.  Who likes to disappoint?  Not me.  I hate it. 

When I have shown myself to be less than perfect, I like to hide my face.  And that is a good thing to some extent.  It is showing my humanity. And my need for grace.  

And there is nothing new under the sun. 

When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, their imperfections were exposed and THEY HID.  They used fig leaves.  I am sure it is all they could get their hands on. But then, God, being so great in mercy,  provided a more sufficient covering for them.  That covering was an animal that was slain for them.  Blood was shed. There was a sacrifice.

The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
John 1:29

And this Lamb was slain.  Blood was shed.  There was an atrocious death.  Something much greater than animal skin is covering me, even in this very moment.    Even when I choose to sit in defeat and continue to fight with myself.  His grace is here and his grace is sufficient.  I am not clothed in some random animal skin.  I am dressed in royalty, in his robe of righteousness.  And I really can stop beating myself up for petty little mistakes or even for my biggest sins, because God’s wrath has been fully poured out on that Lamb, Jesus Christ. 

And the sweet, sweet promise that I found this week in Hosea reassures me of this.   
(I have LOVED digging deeper into this and studying this passage this week)

"How can I give you up, O Ephraim?
    How can I hand you over, O Israel?
How can I make you like Admah?
    How can I treat you like Zeboiim?
My heart recoils within me;
    my compassion grows warm and tender.
  I will not execute my burning anger;

    I will not again destroy Ephraim;
for I am God and not a man,
    the Holy One in your midst,
    and I will not come in wrath."
 Hosea 11:8-9

It is pertinent that I preach this gospel to myself every single day of my life.  No matter how many times I mess up, fall short of my expectations for myself, or just totally blow it, God’s word tells me that this sacrifice is eternal and secure.  Now this is good news, and enough to pull anyone, even sassy me, out of a funk and fall face down with gratitude. 

 “…he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.”  
Hebrews 9:12

Sunday, August 11, 2013

How Much Do You "Like" Me?

Do you "like" me? Do you approve?

Do not get me wrong, I love Facebook. A whole lot. I love seeing pictures. I love knowing what everyone is up to on the weekends. I love the communication it provides. But in all honesty, I love it too much. I think there can be good things that come from it. But I also know the fantasy world of intimate friendships that Facebook has taken me to. It's my go-to. When I am lonely, it is where I run. When I was in my active addiction, it truly was the only avenue I would use for interaction. It gives me this momentary, false sense of "everything is ok, you are not really alone". And it quickly leaves. And twenty minutes later, I am checking to make sure all of you are still out there. And to really make sure you all still "like" me and approve, I will post a status update. Or a blog post. Or a picture. Just to see all the likes and comments roll in.

Katy Watters, you were created for more than that. You were created for a deep, real, intimate relationship with the King.

"O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
beholding your power and glory.
Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.
So I will bless you as long as I live;
in your name I will lift up my hands.
My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
when I remember you upon my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
for you have been my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me."
Psalm 63:1-8

"Abide in me, and I in you.
As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.
I am the vine; you are the branches.
Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing."
John 15: 4-5

And then I play the all-too-familiar game of comparison when I am checking Facebook. This past weekend, it was terrible. Jealousy set in. Discontentment flooded my heart. Envy was making me miserable. What kind of true community and fellowship is that? It's not at all. But this:

"...And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved."
Acts 2: 42-47

This is true fellowship with other believers.

Facebook is not eternal, but the time I have spent  wasted would tell you otherwise. And if I am honest, the people that I am genuinely friends with and live in real community with, I hardly have any interaction with on Facebook.

I do not think a thing is wrong with Facebook in and of itself, only what I have allowed it to become in my life. I have put it before God and other believers time and time again. I have been fooled to believe that this would fill the void that I feel at times.

Facebook has turned into such an idol in my life, giving me momentary satisfaction and leaving me empty and craving true fellowship with my maker at the end of the day.

And the irony of this blogpost is that probably no one will read this because I won't be posting it on Facebook! :)