Monday, March 17, 2008


The good news is that I try not to be a pack-rat. I regularly donate old clothes, shred old papers, and get rid of stuff I'm not using. For some reason, the rules that I apply to my material possessions, I do not apply to electronic files. I'm one of those weirdos that keeps almost every email sent and received, filed alphabetically by the people they are to/from. I know, it's ridiculous, but it's true and I don't have plans to change it in the near future.

So this morning I was going through my inbox of 548 emails, putting them into the appropriate files, and I discovered a little gem. It was an email I sent to myself from work (at the church) on November 29th. It was a Thursday, and as usual I was busy finishing up preparations for that evening's lesson for the youth group. In my study, I had stumbled upon an exciting truth that I didn't have the time to flesh out right then, and so apparently I emailed it to myself for further reflection. Here's the text of my email:

Wow! Look at a Biblical Theology* of Newness!

In the Old Testament
  • God promised Israel that he would give them a NEW HEART that would be soft to him, and undivided. (Ezekiel 36:26)
  • God mentioned that he would bring about a NEW COVENANT in which he would forgive all their sins.
The New Testament teaches that those who trust in Jesus receive...
  • NEW BIRTH into a living hope (1 Peter 1:3)
  • They are a NEW CREATION. (2 Cor 5:17)
    Given a NEW ATTITUDE. (Ephesians 4:22-24)
  • For their NEW SELF, which is created to be like God in righteousness. (Colossians 3:10)
  • Hebrews tells us that we are now a part of the NEW COVENANT

I wonder why I feel so out of place, so lonely, so…homeless…sometimes.
It’s because I am NEW, and I am living in an OLD place. My eternal home, my dwelling that I long for, will be in the presence of God when he MAKES EVERYTHING NEW (Rev 21) and establishes his kingdom on the NEW EARTH centered around the NEW JERUSALEM—his holy city!

Amazing! Absolutely Amazing! :-)


I think I was teaching on the future kingdom when I got all excited about this stuff, and when I read it today my excitement got refueled.
*When I say "Biblical Theology" I'm referring to the study of a particular theme traced traced throughout the Bible.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

In the Midst of Immortals

There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations--these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit.

- C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

I read this the other evening and was horrified as I thought about how I had interacted with people all throughout the day. It wasn't as if I had done something terrible--crushing a person's spirit* for instance, or spreading vicious rumors about someone. But I was disturbed by the apathy that had characterized my interactions with people. I realized that all day long, I had mostly been concerned with myself: how I looked, how I felt, how well I managed to converse with the new people I had met. It was all about me, me, me.

You see, when it comes to realizing the value of human beings, it doesn't take much convincing for me to realize my value. Afterall, to me my life feels very important. But value isn't something that is singular to me. I'm not valuable because I am a beautiful or costly container, but because inside this container of flesh I carry the image of God. Being made in God's image is a treasure that is common to every human being. If only I had the eyes to see the people I come into contact with each day as precious individuals, bearing the image of our Creator! If I saw them as creatures that are so dearly beloved by this Creator that he went to the greatest of lengths to make a way for them to experience eternal communion with him! If I saw their potential to be the people they were created to be, if I recognized that they were immortals destined either to "immortal horrors or everlasting splendors," as Lewis puts it. If I saw these people as they truly are, would I continue to watch their lives so apathetically? Would my words to them be so careless? Would my attitude toward them be one of annoyance? I think I would not dare.

Oh Lord, thank you for valuing us creatures of dust. Grant me your eyes to see the people around me. Grant me your heart to love them as you do. Allow me to glorify you with my attitudes, thoughts, actions and words. Help me to walk in love and humility and show me ways I can serve your image-bearers each day.

* In this context I mean "spirit" in an emotional sense, not a theological one.

Thursday, March 6, 2008 of Wisdom?

Guess what I have been craaaaving?!
It all started six weeks ago when I was in Missouri. I remember my cousin cutting up a pear for us to eat with our lunch. It was very yummy, but I forgot about it, because, was a pear. Who remembers a pear?

This weekend however, I was at a friend's house and she put out a plate of freshly cut pears for the group to snack on. Oh my. Have pears always been this good? Tender and juicy and sweet...mmm. I remember liking them well enough when I was a kid, but these were amazing! So amazing that this week when I went shopping, they were the first thing I was looking for to put in my cart. Now the pears I bought are a little firm, so they are now sitting on my counter in a paper bag ripening. This morning when I ventured to find something for breakfast I eagerly opened the bag hoping for an overnight ripening miracle. But alas! My pears were still firm, so I had to settle for a banana.

You know how sometimes you can become so infatuated with something that if you can't experience it one way, you'll find another way? (Like how when I was little I couldn't be on Punky Brewster, but at least I could mimic her amazing sock-layers!) Well, I decided that since I still couldn't eat the pears, I would photograph them in all their delicious beauty. (I know, I know, I really need to get a life.)
Nom I'm starting to feel stupid about blogging about pears. And ashamed at wasting the time you spent reading this. Maybe I can salvage your time yet. I'm pretty good at slanting things, so I could probably come up with some analogy or lesson to be learned. Give me a second... How about this?:

Eat a pear! It's the chocolate of fruits.

Or maybe....

Enjoy the simple things in life. Like pears.

Hmm...maybe something deeper:

Sometimes in life I want what I want and I want it right now. Thankfully, God (in his wisdom) doesn't operate on my timing. This morning I wanted a pear for breakfast. You see, I could have eaten a pear this morning--but it wouldn't have tasted nearly as good as it will if I wait a bit longer. Sometimes when I want things for my life--a job, a car, a relationship, a position in ministry--I think that I need them right now, and I get impatient when God doesn't acquiesce. But if God is a good God (which he is), then I can be certain that in withholding something from me (whether for a time or permanently), he is doing what is best for me and that when I wait for his timing I will be satisfied.

There. See, pears DO relate to real life. Kinda. At least, what I said is true even if I it has nothing whatsoever to do with pears.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Church Hurts

So there are some things I really enjoy about visiting churches. It's nice to hear a variety of sermons and to just be able to listen without having to worry about audio/visual equipment. I like seeing different ways that different groups do certain things. I love learning new songs of praise. Most of all I love, love, LOVE being able to sit in a room full of peope I don't know and feel a common bond with them--we all share a deep love for Jesus!

But I miss the sense of community. I used to have one--a community, I mean. We were very close-knit, and very intune with one anothers' lives. Now I slip in and out of a pew, my presence barely noticed, in a building where no one knows my name.

And there's the pain. Experiencing the death of our community was one of the most painful experiences in my life. I trust that time will soothe my wounds and dry my tears, but right now the pain is still very fresh. I am so thankful that God poured his grace into my heart in a very real way, freeing me from the bonds of bitterness and resentment. That grace has made it possible for the healing process to begin. Even without the anger, though, it still hurts.

Every church I visit serves as a poignant reminder of what we once shared together. A passage of scripture is read and I think about something that someone once shared during our Communion service at Cascade. Someone thanks God for the nursery workers and I relive moments spent soaking up the love of adults who cared for me in Cascade's nursery when I was a little girl. We sing a song and I remember the joy I experienced leading the congregation in worship of our amazing Creator. It makes me sad to think that I may not get the opportunity to serve in that way in the future. I miss ministry. Since Cascade was so small, I had many chances to serve in various capacities that will not be available to me in a larger church where there is more talent to choose from. Since for years I felt that God wanted me at Cascade to serve, challenge and encourage the body of Christ there, I left much of my sense of purpose behind when I left Cascade (not that I no longer have purpose , but that I'm disoriented and unsure of how God wants to use me now).

Thankfully, the busyness of the week usually takes my mind away from what I've lost, but there's no escape from it on Sundays.

This Sunday at Hinson Church we were singing "Blessed Be Your Name" by Matt & Beth Redman. Not only did this flood my mind with memories of playing the song with the worship team at Cascade, but the words resonate with my heart as well. The second verse says:

Blessed be your name when the sun's shining down on me
When the world's all as it should be, blessed be your name
And blessed be your name on the road marked with suffering
Though there's pain in the offering, blessed be your name.
As I sang those last two lines, tears began to stream down my cheeks. These past months have been difficult, and yet as I've sought comfort from God I have come to know him in a different way, giving me yet more reasons to trust him and to praise him. Although there's pain involved, I know that without the pain I wouldn't be seeking him in the same way, and so I'm thankful for it. Just like a sliver in my nephew's hand sends him running to someone to take it out, so my pain sends me running to the arms of my Father in heaven for comfort. And as many of you who have walked through much deeper valleys than I have experienced know, the arms of the Father are a good place to be.

You give and take away
You give and take away

Still my heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be your name

Monday, March 3, 2008

Put A Leash On That Thing!

Oops, I did it again. And no I didn't play with your heart; I said something I shouldn't have, and it had the potential to hurt some people. I'm disappointed with myself that I was so careless with my words, and I'm also embarrassed by the immaturity of my rude comment. Yes, that's right folks, in case you weren't aware of it before now, I'm definitely a work in progress.

And since I can't change what I said, I'm going to take it as a mindful lesson to think before I speak and then I'm going to focus on the progress part. When I was rehashing the "crime scene" in my mind, I realized that this sort of thing used to happen much more frequently--me tearing people down with my words, that is--and sometimes even intentionally. The fact that I'm so mortified by my actions now encourages me in that it indicates growth on my part (and I always get so excited when I can see evidence of God working in my heart!).

God's book says that our tongues are powerful tools, capable of producing blessings or cursings. I'd like to have the blessing kind of tongue, so I'm going to keep working on controlling my speech. It'll be difficult; the Bible also says that although people have succeeded in taming all sorts of wild beasts, we have yet to master our tongues. But since it also says that God works in me to cause me to will and act according to his purpose, and since he's already grown me in this area, I'm confident that through dependence on God and self control, I will be able to continue to improve. I guess it's time to get a shorter leash.