Hello. Welcome.

I'm a very determined kind of individual. Sometimes my determination is misplaced and things get very ugly. But, sometimes my determination leads to laughter, deep thoughts, and words on paper.

I write everything. I'm not very good at filtering ... so you will see it all. Maybe there will be a little inspiration for someone else along the way. I hope so. My sister also likes to guest blog and I'm sure you will appreciate her wit and wisdom.

Monday, February 26, 2007

The depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!

Wow. I don't even know what to title these thoughts, but the Lord is good! And He continues to bless His children! The past couple days, or week really, I have been learning in Bible study, church, conversations, walks a beautiful narrative that God has woven together in front of my eyes. Just tonight at Bible study (we've been studying the death of Christ through the Old Testament) and in a conversation I found more grounding in small mysteries being revealed. Praise God as I resonate with an AMEN.

Romans 11:33-36
"Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Who has ever given to God, that Gos should repay him? For from him, and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! AMEN."
This was the Scripture I came to that most describes my joy and awe. It refers both to the prophet Isaiah's words and those of Job. Praise be to GOD!

Okay, I'll reign myself in and try to make this organized and beneficial. Tonight Brian (who leads the Bible Study) felt the Lord calling him to a time of personal and corporate repentance. We've been studying Christ's death in great depth - looking back to the shadows and types in the Old Testament to really understand just how magnificent and central Christ's death is to life - here and eternal. Tonight was supposed to be the segueway from the first 5 chapters of the Bible into what Christ accomplished and the life that came as a result. Yet, instead we entered into a time of reflection and repentance.

We started by looking at two passages in Luke - the accounts of Jesus' prayer on the Mount of Olives (Luke 22:39-46) and also the transfiguration (Luke 9:28-36). In both instances, the disciples fell into deep sleeps from exhaustion. Even as Christ's face changed and his robes flashed like lightning, Peter and company were sleepy! Meanwhile, Jesus conferred with Moses and Elijah, who had been dead for something like 1500 and 800 years. And of what did they speak? THE CROSS.

The cross, that sometimes decorates our days and almost clutters Christian conversation. Honestly, I can say that I've zoned out as pastors, speakers, or friends begin teaching on the importance of the cross. It's almost as if my hardened spirit says, "I get it already! I know Christ died and my sins are forgiven - praise God and now give me three points in a take-home message box." I wouldn't say it's been quite that bad, but it might as well be!

Woe is me! After so many years, this miracle of Christ's discussion with Moses and Elijah broaches one topic: Christ's death. There aren't many places in Scripture where people converse with the dead (the only one I know of is Saul in 1 Samuel 28)... Moses and Elijah were already significant to the redemptive narrative and had been dead for so long so this conversation reads volumes what is fit in a few verses.

So - with that as a backdrop, we talked about what spiritual sleepiness looks like and how we might repent of it... how our study and pressing in to God's glory in His Son can be something that gives God the most glory.

We looked at the parable of the sower and the seeds - the parable that Jesus describes as the one that would explain all the other parables. So, what difference is there in the four plots of land, why does only one survive? It deals not with the seed - the seed is the Word of God and can not be defiled (Leviticus 11). The one seed grows because it is planted good soil, which is defined in Luke 8:15 as a noble and good heart.

So, it is the heart that needs readying - brought out of spiritual slumber to recognize the great glory in the Trinity. The heart must be illuminated to expose the darkness in the farthest part, SO that we may more fully see the impact of Christ's blood. "Wake up, O Sleeper! And Christ will shine on you!" (Ephesians 5)

I have in no way exhausted this subject and praise the Lord! For, if I could contain it, how much less glory would be due!
I have to make connections with more of God's greatness...

Lately, the Lord has been captivating my heart with His command of creation. As was revealed to Peter in a vision (Acts 10), Christ's sacrifice was not only for the Jews, but also for the Gentiles.
Paul writes that "You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." Galatians 3:26-29

Whatever we have found here on earth to divide - they are all merely details, peripheral, penultimate. Tall or short, smart or foolish, planned or surprised, married or single... even down to the most minute things that divide time, effort, money. My decisions to do/not do homework, to eat/not eat food... it goes on. ALL these details cloud out the ultimate, yet they all submit to God's power. Frederik Bonhoeffer writes similar thoughts about in regards to vocation. God has called us to live life, as Christians, in a manner that brings him glory. period.

Everything else (as Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 2:2) is unnecessary. God is the One and Only who is great enough to fully know the ultimate, giving glory to Himself, while also knowing the penultimate, which also brings glory to Himself. We, on the other hand, can NOT do that. I can only handle the pursuit of one thing. Praise the Lord for having patience and mercy enough to let me return to Him in my pursuit! God is GOD regardless of what I choose to pursue.

But, lest I confuse myself, I dare not ask him to take away the periphery. No, these are the outworking of my faith - accomplished through fear and trembling. These are the temptations that have no stronghold when brought before the Creator that commands the universe. Even those things farthest from center - those are His domain as well. When I have relinquished my illusion of control, I can see the glory in His sovereignty!

And what command he has! The depths of the sea and the far reaches of galaxies - what purpose have they but to bring the Lord glory? No human hand or eye has experienced these things, but the Lord created everything with purpose and even these places cry out that He is GOD.

My attempts fall so short. But - to those that read this - press in to the Lord and allow His glory to shape your life and understanding.

There are many, many things jumbling through my mind... pictures, stories, paintings, analogies.
Praise the Lord that he sees my heart clearly and without confusion! And praise Him that He follows His children everywhere - even as my dad is flying over oceans on his way to Kenya this very day!


Romans 11:33-36
"Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Who has ever given to God, that Gos should repay him? For from him, and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! AMEN."

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Winter slumber and being childlike...

Winter slumber. I can not possibly in simple words express the joy of this past week. A joy that grew with each melting, white layer to expose glints of green blades, tightly bound for months to the earth. I resolved to walk as much as I possibly could, with my face unashamedly stretched toward the peculiar blue sky. My face had little trouble finding familiar creases as I squinted at the beautiful, bright sphere. Though I know this glimpse of the "other side" may be brief, I am spurred on with anticipation of the glorious season of Spring! What a wonderful design.

Lately my thoughts have been almost as scattered and eclectic as the artwork you may find decorating the house where small children are its only artists. I suppose this is refreshing - a return to anything childlike is very often energy with new eyes. Yet, there is some wonder in Jesus' charge to be 'childlike.' To be childlike is to recapture the essence in the heart of a child and the mind of a child, while recognizing that I am no longer a child. Praise God for He has blessed me in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ (Ephesians 1)! I will always be a child of God, but I am also called to grow in faith through perseverance. As days are added to my life, so my understanding increases of the great and glorious riches in Christ. And yet, in this understanding, I am increasingly aware that with every new knowledge there are thousands more - never too few that I could exhaust the Lord's greatness in this life or the next.

So, why like a child should we come? In 1 Corinthians 14:20, Paul writes to the church regarding speaking in tongues, "Brothers, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults." Children do possess a beautiful innocence - an untarnished presence - maybe simply due to less time lived in a sinful world (sadly the age where this innocence is exposed has spiraled to reach for the dearest and youngest of souls).

I believe the Lord has called us to be like children because He desires for us simple obedience. He desires consuming joy that explodes on our insides and bursts out through our lives like the spontaneous laughter of a child dancing, absolutely unaware of anything else. He desires for us the ultimate exhilaration of being in awe of His presence. Only children can still manage those wide eyes, full of unquestioning belief and exuberant hope.

Like a child we should come, but thinking with the minds God has given. We are to be 'wise as serpents, but gentle as doves.' The Lord is faithful to give wisdom to those who seek Him, and so, as adults, we meditate on the mysteries of Christ and Him crucified.

I recently read an excerpt from Albert Schweitzer's Out of My Life and Thought, published in 1931. This man, with all his accomplishments in music, philosophy, theology, the world of academia, and ministry, decided at age 30 to return to school with the eventual goal of being a jungle doctor in the Congo. The excerpt described his struggles in explaining this seeming outrageous decision to friends and family, who questioned his sanity in leaving what many aspire to achieve.

He writes, "In the many adversarial debates I had to endure with people who passed for Christians, it amazed me to see them unable to perceive that the desire to serve the love preached by Jesus may sweep a man into a new course of life. They read in the New Testament that it can do so, and found it quite in order there."

Why, then, was it so absurd for Schweitzer to pursue wisdom through the courses of institutional education in order to give his life in service? He speaks to the necessity of those who are able to take this route to embark without hesitation. For not everyone has the opportunity or means to press into such a station. Those who can, must, so that the whole Church is working together to fulfill the Body's needs.

Maybe it is in circumstances like that of Schweitzer where it would be helpful to return to the inescapable, simple truths. Those outlined in the source of all divine inspired wisdom - the Word of God. Schweitzer wasn't in need of philosophies or theories of the day to decide the direction of his life. But, as a child would in full faith (and curiosity:) follow a mysterious light down a path, so too do our souls long to follow the light of Christ, however irrational or insensible it may seem to hardened, grown-up eyes.

Though I would indeed like to continue, I must stop because Saturday awaits... as does a theoretical application in social psychology, reading, and maybe most importantly a wonderful few hours I'll be spending celebrating community with friends over lunch.

love from holland.

Sunday, February 18, 2007


I was reading through my old journals recently (something I definitely recommend!) and I didn't know whether to be humored or embarrassed by some of the things my young mind thought. I remember being almost meticulous about what I included, because I was sure someday it would be published and read all over the world. Boy, now I'm glad I have the only copies! When they say young girls are dramatic, they sure weren't lying!

Well, I could write for hours on the juicy gems I found, but I just want to reflect on a wise man I met a couple of years ago while I was doing some service work in Hollywood.

Jeff had been a pastor for years, but partly due to his own choices and partly due to circumstance, he ended up on the street. He was volunteering at the church where I was helping and that's how we became friends. Jeff, with a beaming smile and knowing eyes, could see right through me, it seemed. He could look at me as though looking at my heart. I mostly loved Jeff for this reason. I say mostly because, if you know a person like Jeff, you know that this kind of piercing insight is sometimes uncomfortable. He had level-eyed honesty. You may know this type as well - Jeff was the kind of person that never averted your gaze and often held his eyes so steady you wondered just what else he could find so interesting in your face. Jeff was a man of the Word and knew Scripture as though it was what kept him alive. But, Jeff didn't disguise his brokenness. He didn't cover up the things about his life that had brought him to that point, at the mission.

Jeff was the picture of a broken, contrite heart - the kind the Lord does not deny. How could one not be drawn to such an individual? I find myself continually, whether or not consciously, seeking out these kinds of treasured souls because I think they are the best teachers of life.

Over Christmas I had several wonderful talks with beautiful people in my life. I always treasure the times I can spend with my grandparents and this Christmas was no different. During one such conversation, my grandpa and I were talking about how the Lord uses both right and wrong choices to reveal His glory. For, we would never truly come to the throne of grace with broken and contrite hearts had we not first understood our foolish ways.

There are many, many times in my life I've approached the throne with confidence - my confidence - and presented myself to the Lord. I committed in word and deed. I manufactured affections and recited Scripture. I did all these things, yet Paul says to the church in Corinth, "I resolve to know nothing but Christ and Him crucified." He resolved to know nothing with his own faculties, wisdom, or understanding. Even after all that raw life he experienced, he resolved to only know what was in Christ. Paul, ever the academic achiever and evangelist, wrote that only in Christ did he know anything. Redundant? Yes. Does my own life reflect it? Sadly, no.

This deserves more thought and carries more weight than I can express, but it in every way refers back to my conversation with my grandpa. Paul very clearly came to the throne, arms outstretched, asking in desperation for the Lord to fill him completely - to make something, anything of his life that would reflect the glory of God.

There has never (and will never be) a time where I have reason to approach the throne with any confidence of my own. If Paul was the worst of sinners, I am so grateful my sins are hidden in the depths of the sea!

The only way to come before God is in complete submission: offering nothing, expecting nothing, and bringing nothing but this fragile flesh. God hears and has compassion in such a way that we are filled. No, not just filled. We absolutely overflow with the goodness and mercy and joy and peace and compassion that are poured out by the Holy Spirit.

"Oh, to know the power of Your risen life
and to know You in Your suffering
To become like You in Your death my Lord
and so with You to live and never die"

The abundantly blessed life is one lived as a broken and contrite heart, received by the Lord and filled with the power of the Holy Spirit.

Yes! My soul wells up in hallelujahs to agree with Paul and all the saints: God searches for and accepts those hearts with absolutely no confidence but in Christ and Him crucified. Sigh.

What pleasure comes from seeking the pleasure of the Lord! Our joy will only be complete when we run relentlessly (yes, sometimes recklessly) after God. I wish I could talk specifics. I wish I could elaborate and enumerate, define and depict. But, then where would that leave the holy mystery?

Specifically, right now I think I should feel as though I've climbed Mt. Confusion, conquered its rocky precipice, and collapsed at the top for lack of direction. Though I've hiked its tricky terrain before, I instead feel like I'm headed up another mountain.

The peace is peculiar because the air is thin and I've realized I left my gear at the previous campsite, miles below. I journey on, stopping to breathe and pausing to pick up natural treasures. The way should seem lonesome, but the whole of nature surrounding me reaches up with a resounding AMEN. With each step I feel more a part of the glorious song of heaven, "Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord, God Almighty. The whole earth is full of His glory."

If you've made it this far, I might have sent you on your own Mt. Confusion adventure and for this I'm dreadfully sorry! Sometimes the pictures in my mind look so beautiful I can't help but write them down.

It's Sunday night in Holland and this is the first Sunday in weeks that I've used technology. I started today out of necessity - an application needed submitting - but I hope to return to technology free days. I'm just about to leave for the Gathering, our Sunday night service and I know the Lord will bless this time.

For now, blessings from Hope College,
where nearly all the women are engaged, the men are in denial, and the children are just turning the corner to cabin-fever...
(reference to the classic Garrison Keillor)