These are all my tattoos and their meanings, in order of when I got them. Click each picture to get a better look. See this post for an understanding of tattoos.
Done by Jeremy Maxfield at Elite Tattoo Gallery in Fort Worth, Texas (July 2013). “Taste and see that the LORD is good,” Psalm 34:8. I just wanted a reminder of God’s constant goodness. Dang, God’s so good.
Done by Cody Dresser at Dallas Tattoo & Arts in Dallas, Texas (November 2013).”Bind my wandering heart to Thee,” a line from my favorite hymn, Come Thou Fount. This tattoo represents my favorite hymn, my love for beautiful art devoted to the Lord (like many classic hymns), and the meaning of the line itself is a plea to the Lord to bind our hearts to Him, as we fickly wander toward sin and worldliness away from that which satisfies.
Done by Cody Dresser at Dallas Tattoo & Arts in Dallas, Texas (March 2014). The crown represents our union with Christ; Paul would call us “ambassadors for Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:20), or viceroys: representatives of an authority not our own. We wear the crown that Christ has earned and purchased with His blood. The castle is a reminder of the holy city, the New Jerusalem, that the Lord is preparing for us (Revelation 21:2), and ultimately a reminder of God’s presence, as God will dwell with us (Revelation 21:3). God’s dwelling with man was once full in the Garden of Eden, broken after the Fall and relegated to the Tabernacle, then the Temple, then the Church, and will finally be fully restored in the new Earth. See T. Desmond Alexander’s From Eden to the New Jerusalem for a better understanding of God’s presence and man’s viceregency. The roses and background are just aesthetic, at the artists’ choice. I love letting the artist freely design his artwork, as he’s likely to design something to the best of his ability when given little limitations. And Cody’s awesome.
Done by Cody Dresser at Dallas Tattoo & Arts in Dallas, Texas (July 2014). There’s a ton of sword imagery all throughout the New Testament, e.g. “fight the good fight of faith” (1 Timothy 6:12), “the sword of the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:17), “He does not bear the sword in vain” (Romans 13:4), “the word of God is sharper than any double-edged sword” (Hebrews 4:12), etc. Thus, several motifs are implied but ultimately the tattoo points to the face that we exercise the authority of the Lord, the same Lord who tells us He came to this world not to bring peace but a sword (Matthew 10:34).
Done by Cody Dresser at Sparrows Tattoo Company in Mansfield, Texas (September 2014). This tattoo is a reminder of God’s bigness, and our obligation to reach the nations. He’s not merely the God of Dallas, or Texas, or the Bible Belt, or America, or even the world, he reigns over all creation. “All nations” is a phrase that occurs some 200+ times in the Bible, most commonly recognized in the Great Commission, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations,” (Matthew 28:18-20). Thus, we’re called to take the gospel of God’s kingdom to all nations, not just where we’re comfortable or the places with God-fearing churches on every corner. There are soooo many unreached nations, in urgent need of Jesus.
Done by Cody Dresser at Sparrows Tattoo Company in Mansfield, Texas (November 2014). The tattoo is on a curving part of my forearm so it’s a bit difficult to get a good picture, which is why the photo above is actually two merged together. This tattoo relates to my anxiety, that is, when I’m not trusting the Lord. The words and imagery all come from Matthew 6, part of Jesus’ sermon on the Mount. “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you,” (Matthew 6:33). When I’m seeking the Lord, I don’t need to worry about money or school or work or whatever; I don’t mean that I neglect diligence and responsibility in those respective areas I may worry about, rather, I trust the Lord with them knowing that He is good and He is in control. Further, Jesus says, “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matthew 6:26). The bird is a reminder that if God’s taking care of mere birds, then He’s got me. “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven…For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also,” (Matthew 6:20-21). The heart in the lamp is a reminder that if I’m treasuring those things that are bound to fail me, I will reap worry and struggle, but if I’m treasuring the Lord, I will not fret. God’s good, and I’ve got every reason to trust Him and His goodness.
Done by Cody Dresser at Sparrows Tattoo Company in Mansfield, Texas (December 2014). A chalice or goblet with blood spilling out, most obviously associated with communion (read Matthew 26:26-29). Beyond the more obvious meaning, this tattoo is a reminder to strive for compassion. I serve a God of great and deep compassion, but often I demonstrate much apathy and cynicism rather than a concern for others. Compassion, ‘com-‘ meaning “with” and ‘passion’ meaning “to suffer,” literally means “to suffer with,” and like Christ has suffered with us and drank the cup of wrath that the Father has given Him (Matthew 26:38-39, 42; John 18:11), I want to strive to emulate that compassion daily, suffer with those around me, and to demonstrate love for God and people.
Done by Cody Dresser at Sparrows Tattoo Company in Mansfield, Texas (December 2014). First tattoo of mine to not yet have a ‘meaning,’ I guess I’m open to suggestions. I just told him to do an arrow, and he did this. Good art looks dope.
Done by Cody Dresser at Sparrows Tattoo Company in Mansfield, Texas (March 2015). In this piece, the snake symbolizes the enemy, the candle symbolizes time. The length of our short life is like that of a burning candle, and satan aims to get a stranglehold on our time in so many different ways, that it wouldn’t be used for the Lord. Ultimately, life is war and time is precious; we cannot waste a second.
Done by Cody Dresser at Sparrows Tattoo Company in Mansfield, Texas (March 2015). In general, this tattoo is a reminder of wisdom. Chess is historically considered a “wise man’s game,” or associated with nobility and intelligence. Wisdom is a necessity in the Christian life, taking all that we know and sifting through what life throws at us day by day. Moreover, the knight alternates black and white spaces with each move, similar to how we make ‘moves’ throughout life alternating between the head and the heart.
Done by Cody Dresser at Sparrows Tattoo Company in Mansfield, Texas (March 2015). This is Star Lord from Guardians of the Galaxy, I freaking love this movie. My love for studying and enjoying culture manifests itself in good music (Drake, Bring Me the Horizon, etc.), good TV shows (Breaking Bad, Sons of Anarchy, etc.), and good movies, like Guardians of the Galaxy. Good art glorifies God, and I wanted to engrave a reminder of the good gifts that God gives us through good movies, songs, books, shows, on and on I could go.
Done by Joseph Ayala at Saints and Sinners in Carrollton, Texas (April 2015). The verse is Leviticus 19:28, which states: “You shall not make any cuts on your body for the dead or tattoo yourselves: I am the Lord.” I got this because people often quote this verse, ripped of its proper context, mistaking it to forbid Christians from marking their bodies, i.e. tattoos. For one, this verse is written to the Israelites. This is part of the Law, given by God to His chosen people, to obey, yes. And were Jesus never to come and the Lord to never intend a plan of redemption that freed us from the Law and the New Testament never be written and I be born into the country of Israel, then I would be required to obey it. But the New Testament is replete with the fact that Christ came and fulfilled the Law (Matthew 5:17), freed us from it (Romans 7:6), and instituted the New Covenant (Hebrews 9:15). This is a major aspect of the gospel, and far more important than freeing us merely to get tattoos. I got this as a controversial, trolling, tongue-in-cheek way of pointing to the New Covenant, and ultimately to Jesus Christ who came and freed us from the Law. A permanent irony.
Done by Cody Dresser at Sparrows Tattoo Company in Mansfield, Texas (September 2015). This is just a beautiful rose that I got as a filler, a red rose tattoo is a very standard traditional tattoo, so it’s something I’ve always found aesthetically pleasing and it was convenient that the size/shape of the piece filled up the last large chunk of space on my sleeve. I’d been dying to get the last of my arm filled so that my sleeve would be complete but I’d been saving up for an engagement ring, thus I denied my tattoo addiction and told myself I couldn’t spend any money on them. But, my wonderful girlfriend (soon-to-be fianceé) knew this and decided to go behind my back and contact Cody, and after explaining my situation he decided he’d cut her a discount because he knew me (and he was engaged at the time, so he sympathized with why I was saving). Thus this final tattoo was a gift, and it holds a special significance because it reminds me of Lindsey, who’s my beautiful rose. Yeah, it’s cheesy, but that’s love, sorryboutchya. And I’ve got a super dope sleeve now, shout out to Cody Dresser. Check him out!