07 October 2012

The Object of our Gaze.

I was recently in a small group of women who were, in beautiful vulnerability, confessing sins to one another.

One confessed to thinking too poorly of herself and her skills; of not taking herself seriously in the work that God's called her to. Another confessed that she thought too much of herself, finding herself taking pride in gifts and revelations from God, as if she had earned them. Another confessed that she is too sensitive to any criticism, real or perceived, and finds herself too often trying to justify and defend herself.

I was one of those women. Okay, while we're on the topic of confession, I was the middle one. But like confession does, there was healing in it. And I thought it was remarkable how an unplanned theme of our confession emerged: wrong views of self.

This is a big issue for the woman who follows Jesus. And there is a temptation for the prideful person to remedy her sin by remembering her brokenness and her faults; or for the person with low self-esteem to remedy her sin by focusing on her positive traits. But I think those remedies can often be like an overcorrection in driving, just taking us from one ditch to another.

I remember a pastor saying once that the problem with both self-esteem that is too high and self-esteem that is too low is too much focus on self. The remedy for either of these isn't to try look at yourself differently as much as it is to look at God. It is there that the prideful person and the self-deprecating both find their remedy. Knowledge of who God is and what he has done necessarily shows us who we are. Gazing into God sets everything else in order, including our self-identity.

This inevitably leaves us in state of humble gratitude; the recipients of immeasurable goodness that we did nothing to earn. We intuitively feel grace: unmerited favor: we are without merit and we are favored. We're able to hold those two concepts in effortless tension when we're gazing at him with open hands. And that humble gratitude is the remedy; the way; the path between the two ditches - we find it by looking onward and upward, to the Way we're following.

 "let us also lay aside every weight, 
and sin which clings so closely, 
and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 
looking to Jesus, 
the founder and perfecter of our faith" 

26 December 2011

"Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you."

Lately I'm so aware of how the gospel can be offensive.

Part of me really wants to think that if only people could see Jesus for who he truly is, nothing could stop them from loving him. But then I remember that he walked the earth, and people did see him, unhindered, for who he is. And many hated him, and maybe worse, many were apathetic toward him. Even after he rose from the dead. He also assured his followers that people would hate them.

So, who am I to think that if I could only give people a clearer picture of Jesus, they would surely embrace him? I am called to give people a clear picture of Jesus. But I need to let go of my expectations of how they will respond. And I certainly should not measure myself by people's responses.

20 December 2011

Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do.

Natalie shared this with me, and I love it:

“Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.” (Ecc 9:10)

“Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do,” refers to works that are possible. There are many things which our heart findeth to do which we never shall do. It is well it is in our heart; but if we would be eminently useful, we must not be content with forming schemes in our heart, and talking of them; we must practically carry out “whatsoever our hand findeth to do.” One good deed is more worth than a thousand brilliant theories. Let us not wait for large opportunities, or for a different kind of work, but do just the things we “find to do” day by day. We have no other time in which to live. The past is gone; the future has not arrived; we never shall have any time but time present. Then do not wait until your experience has ripened into maturity before you attempt to serve God. Endeavour now to bring forth fruit. Serve God now, but be careful as to the way in which you perform what you find to do-”do it with thy might.” Do it promptly; do not fritter away your life in thinking of what you intend to do to-morrow as if that could recompense for the idleness of to-day. No man ever served God by doing things to-morrow. If we honour Christ and are blessed, it is by the things which we do to-day. Whatever you do for Christ throw your whole soul into it. Do not give Christ a little slurred labour, done as a matter of course now and then; but when you do serve him, do it with heart, and soul, and strength.
But where is the might of a Christian? It is not in himself, for he is perfect weakness. His might lieth in the Lord of Hosts. Then let us seek his help; let us proceed with prayer and faith, and when we have done what our “hand findeth to do,” let us wait upon the Lord for his blessing. What we do thus will be well done, and will not fail in its effect.
-Charles Spurgeon

22 November 2011

Talking with a visible Someone.

He had a face that could be looked at.

Eyes you could look into.

Here, on earth.

God with us.

The Word, wrapped up in flesh.

20 November 2011

Spiritual refreshment at Harvest.

Today we are in the Chicago suburbs with Keith's family. We worshiped at Harvest - so edifying. Today's message was about how we have no ability to live the Christian life outside of Christ living his life in us: the Holy Spirit. Here's the intro video from the sermon:

Lord Change Me from Harvest Bible Chapel on Vimeo.

If you're looking for some spiritual refreshment, I would encourage you to check out the entire sermon.

16 November 2011


I just finished reading the story of Gideon. It's full of human nature mixed with God's power. But the book of Judges is making me mad. God delivers Israel over and over again. And they keep whoring after other gods; after wood and stone and metal. After Satan.

They never deserve the deliverance God gives them. And they always forget about it, almost immediately.

I'm so mad about it.

But it's so true. It's so true of the human heart. God is so good to us. And we forget. We whore after other gods. And he waits, patiently. Then we get overtaken, and cry out to him for help. And he delivers us. We say thanks and feel great, then go whoring again. The cycle goes on.

That's why this concept of remembering what God has done is all over the Old Testament. That's how we escape the cycle of Judges. When things are great we remember who is our Deliverer. When things are terrible we remember who is our Deliverer.

We write it on our faces and on the doorposts of our houses so we don't forget. We talk about it when we're at home and when we're out, when we lie down and when we get up. We bind the words on our fingers and around our necks. We write them on the tablets of our hearts. We find the words and we eat them. We eat the scroll. We eat his body. We drink his blood. It's our only alternative to whoring.

08 November 2011

An update on our lives in the Natural State.

The Natural State.
Northwest Arkansas is a neat area. With a population of around a half million it is fairly metropolitan, although most of it is new growth caused by the mega-corporations based here: Walmart, Tyson, and JB Hunt, to name a few. The campus of Ecclesia, where we live and work, feels very rural, but any store, restaurant, or entertainment we could want is within 20 minutes of our house. As you drive down the road you'll pass a strip mall, then a gated community, then cattle in a pasture, then a mobile home, then a chicken farm, then another strip mall - it's all mixed together. So different than Illinois, where the lines between urban, suburban, rural, and small town seemed very defined.

Ecclesia is a tiny college. It was started as a YWAM base in 1975, and got accredited as a four-year college in 2005. There are 105 full-time students taking classes on campus. There are another 45 part-time students, and then about 25 students in the Ecclesia Online program.

Keith and I are so thankful to each have full-time jobs: with the (modest) salaries we're making we should be completely debt-free within a year, if the Lord wills. My official title is Assistant Director of Financial Aid, which was bestowed upon me after working a few weeks, and I take it as an honor (note the absence of to the). However, my boss does the jobs of about seven different people, so while he is available to answer my questions and help me with unique situations, I am essentially running the financial aid office myself.

I'm really enjoying working in an office; the administrator in me who loves order and clarity and organization is blossoming. Clearer boundaries between work and personal life have been a welcomed change. It's not hard to leave financial aid at the office (although, the workaholic in me does try to bring it home from time to time). There are systematic changes that I am hoping to implement in the financial aid process at Ecclesia, but this semester has been about getting through the giant learning curve and keeping my head above water. It's been very challenging/frustrating/overwhelming at times. I've done tons of research and self-training. But, again, I am thankful.

The soccer boys at a rest stop on the way to a game.
Keith has just finished his season as the head coach of the first ever Ecclesia soccer team. He had about two months over the summer to create an entire soccer program from nothing; from recruiting a team, to scheduling games, to finding places to play...everything. With the help of the Lord, he did an incredible job. He made the wise decision to make it a club team instead of a varsity team for the first year, which allowed him to include guys from the surrounding community, as well as students who may not have been eligible or able to commit the time to a varsity team. He has a great team of precious young guys. They pulled out a remarkable four wins their first season ever.

Keith and I are observing some patterns among small organizations. We have a number of frustrations here and are praying through how to deal with them. But we are thankful. And you know what? When I pray for things here, God has been answering speedily. I have to remember that and stay encouraged.

We have become a part of a wonderful church called Mosaic. It's a congregation that meets on Saturday nights, and it falls under the umbrella of Fellowship Bible Church NWA. It is a huge organization that runs in an excellent, strategic fashion, which brings a nice balance to our weeks. Now that the first soccer season is over, we're excited to get more involved in ministries there and join a small group.

I will end it there. Soon I hope to share more specifically about what God has been doing in me these last few months.

04 November 2011

Talking with an invisible Someone.

A quiet time takes faith. To stop all other activities to sit down and have a conversation with an invisible person requires faith.

Is he really real? Does he really speak? Does he really speak to you? When you speak to him does he really hear you? Would he really respond to something you say?

That you can quiet all other noises for the purpose of interacting with this invisible person says something of your faith. Quieting noises to read a book doesn't require much faith. But looking to commune with your invisible friend does indeed.

Be encouraged when you enter into a time of stillness with God. Faith got you there. Act on it. And receive the rewards of that.

"whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him." bible.us/Heb11.6.ESV

02 October 2011

Popcorn: so hot right now.

The popcorn business seems out of control. And we have just eaten it up. Why all the ridiculous kitchen appliances? Why all the microwavable varieties in expensive and wasteful packaging? Not to mention paying like $4 for a bag of novelty pre-popped corn at the store?

During all the purging I was doing surrounding our move, I got rid of our "air popper" on the hunch that it was absolutely unnecessary. Man, was I right.  All along, all we needed was a pan, some oil, and popcorn kernels. We were in awe last night. We were so excited. We're never going back.

We put the pan on the burner and turned on the heat, poured in some olive oil, poured in enough kernels to cover the bottom, put the lid on and waited. It was magic. Towards the end as the pan filled, the popcorn pushed up the lid a little - classic! I stirred some salt and garlic powder into melted butter and we poured that over the top. It was delicious (even before adding the butter). And I'm very excited to try making different flavors.

Now we have one more item we can buy in bulk and keep stocked in our kitchen (virtually endless shelf life) for an anytime snack that is easy, healthy, cheap, and super fun. Popcorn: what a fantastic idea on God's part.