this & that

I was wondering why I had so many tabs open on my browser, but then I realized it’s because I haven’t done a “this & that” post recently. So, here it is, folks. I hope you enjoy and at least click on ONE interesting thing that pops out at you.

  • If you’ve mailed something funny (or wanted to) you should check out this collection! Here is an example: this is fishing line!!
  • I thought this article over at Tim Challies blog was interesting. Taken from R.C. Sproul’s book, Now, That’s a Good Question, this excerpt brings up some things that have been the topic of several conversations lately. I like what he says here, “If a person is in Christ and Christ is in that person, it is impossible for the Christian not to move, to grow.” Read the rest here.
  • This is … interesting. It’s a video clip where author David Dark interviews musician David Bazan. My friend calls it “The Bazan Syndrome,” characterized by the obsession of asking without really wanting to arrive at any particular answer. What do you think? Watch the video (it’s short) and see if you are encouraged, frustrated, or just confused.
  •  I unintentionally got into a funny little comment war recently. One of my favorite blogs posted a link to an article about Christian singles/dating/blind dates and I wrote something in the comments about disliking what feminism did for my chances and then, “I wish I could just send a memo to theologically sound males: I’m not looking for a stay-at-home dad or someone who takes orders. I’m looking for someone who I can support as he passionately pursues the Lord.” A guy wrote back about how all girls want these days is someone with “a sense of humor” and a gal-pal type who would be a co-wife. Yeah, he said that. Anyway, I didn’t realize this was happening until I checked back and saw there were a slew of comments following mine. All of that to say, this article, “Mentoring Future Leaders: A Priority for Your To-Do List” gets EXACTLY at what I wish was happening more often. I have felt for a long time (I even spoke with my childhood pastor while I was still in college) a passion for men to rise up and lead the church. My heart is that I would be part of the encouragement to make that happen.
  • Have you heard of Adultolescence? It is as lame as it sounds. Listen to this message by John Piper that he gave to college students recently. Maybe it will, as my History teacher used to always say, “put a fire in their bellies.”
  • Last… this is a good one. I love Andreé Seu and her style of writing. Read this article from yesterday about apathy. You might relate to this scenario – there is an invitation to stay after church to hear such-and-such missionary. You decide those ham balls you made sound so much more enticing. Check it out here. Here’s a sneak peek:

But then I thought about Judges, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Haggai. Do you know what sin God inveighs against in all these books? Yep, the sin of apathy. The sin of indifference. The sin of losing interest in God’s work, and slacking off. We are not talking about murder or adultery here, or even grumbling or complaining.

In Judges, the Israelite juggernaut that was so vital in Joshua’s day grinds to a trickle by the end of the chapter one. The various tribes assigned to take out the Canaanites on their respective parcels of land find excuses for defeat.

So, that’s about it. Let me know what you think. Meanwhile, I’ll be letting

LOVE fly like cRaZy

How Emptiness Sings

So, a few days ago I posted about hanging upside down at the ankles and it continues to illustrate this little time period quite well. When you’re hanging upside down (or at least when I am), everything loose is going to fall out – no matter how much you will against it. I had all sorts of things stuffed in my pockets (not much, but a little money and a few confident answers about what I was “going to do next”) and I don’t think I’ll get right-side-up again until everything is laying on the ground. It’s a strange perspective – watching the things I hold dear dislodge from their safe hiding place and pass in front of my eyes, landing with a little thump just out of reach. Like on Saturday, when I found out my cousin can drive the tractor/trailer for my uncle (my current “job” as fieldhand) while he combines soybeans. Yes, it’s pretty cool… until I realized that my only job security is that he has to be in 2nd grade on weekdays. That’s a tasty piece of humble pie.

I wrote a lot about the idea of a la orden (the idea that whatever you have – material or otherwise – is meant to be given away through an intentional effort to be available) when I was in Honduras. I guess you could say this little upside down trick is reminding me that what I’ve got to give is Christ, always and only… even if my pockets are completely empty.

Here’s a song from Christa Wells that is simple and sweet and … speaks to the beauty of emptiness. Here’s the last little bit:

I haven’t been asked yet to walk the hard roads
Still there’s a sense of deep loss in my soul
In the middle of a party, I’ll just want to go

But ooh,
My bow is on the strings,
I’m beginning to learn where to find the words
To the song that emptiness sings
Ooh, bow is on the strings:

Glory to God! Glory to God!
This is how emptiness sings, oh,
This is how emptiness sings
Hmmm, hmmm

How Emptiness Sings from Northview Church on Vimeo.

all kinds of emotional

I just walked off the treadmill a few minutes ago because I thought my waterworks wouldn’t pass for sweat any longer. I was sweating a storm when the song, “Love, Love, Love” by Tristan Prettyman hit my iPod. I happen to have the version where she explains the song is about growing up surfing and barbecuing with her family every day of summer. She has since left that routine to travel as a musician, but this song is a reminder that these people and memories will always be love to her. I started to think of all the ways this place and these people have become “love” to me.

I thought of the slurred broadcast voice speeding through a list of vegetables available on the back of the truck driving through my neighborhood at 7 am.

I thought of the cow that almost hit us on the way up the mountain last night.

I thought of the little note a student left for me today, asking me to pray for her test (and our joyful celebration afterwards when she was happy with the results!).

I thought of all the times I’ve been part of a crowded kitchen and the delicious results.

I thought of countless conversations that played out better than the most riveting film – conversations where I couldn’t wait to see what the student would say next or how they would surprise me with insight/joy/wisdom.

I thought of students popping into my office in every spare moment, whether I was busy or available, just to say hello.

I thought of nudging Louis’s battered nose out into traffic, confident that we would pull through whatever peril we were entering.

I thought of my house without electricity at the moment and all the opportunities I’ve had to be still in candlelight.

I thought of the delight at watching people enjoy something I’ve baked up in my kitchen.

I thought of student meetings, crowded in my little office, where we shared our testimonies and fears and joys.

I thought of the blessings of friendship – the deep, deep kind I never expected to find when I came here “on mission,” but the kind that will be part of my story forever.

I thought about the lessons I’ve learned at the foot of my Savior, when I’m willing and when I’m not, and His infinite patience with me as I try to figure out how to best support His kingdom work in this place.

I thought of all the crazy ways God has paraded His glory in front of my face in these past three years and I thought it was dangerous to try to beat the treadmill at its game.

It’s strange that heavy emotions really sap your strength. I can do an hour on the treadmill normally and still be ready for a crazy night of randomness afterwards. But, these days I am dragging myself out of bed every morning and having a rough time even pounding out 30 minutes at night and I can only point to these silly emotions as the culprit. I guess it’s even more proof that God interwove every part of us. You can’t separate your energy from your emotion anymore than you can separate darkness from night.

And I’ll say that’s why I am tired. I have a running list of “Things I want to do before June 23…” and it’s growing but my time is shrinking. Today, without warning, as the last students were rushing out of the hallways to get to the bus, I let the tears roll. People were asking when it would start hitting me… well, it’s now I guess.

Here’s Tristan’s song:

Here’s another song that has been such an encouragement to me lately. Honestly, this is my prayer right now – for me and for my students and for our desperate generation. This cry comes right out of Deuteronomy 6 and it is timeless. I want this to be my story. I want to remember my Lord and Savior in this way. I want His love and mercy and kingdom to be tied around my wrists and written on my doorposts and displayed in my life like I want nothing else. And I want this desperate love to be what holds my students together. I want them to remember who the Lord is and how He is reigning over all things.

no matter what kind of emotional you are

let LOVE fly like cRazY
tonight, okay?

Kyrie Eleison

In Greek, the phrase means, “Lord, have mercy.”

What catches my breath in my throat is how beautiful the phrase sounds. I remember singing it in high school for Honor Choir or All State auditions, I’m not sure which. I am sure I was drawn in by the mystery of its beauty and its tragedy … but not understanding why.

Today, the mystery wound itself around my heart’s cry for my students. As I sat at the mechanic shop (praise the Lord my severely overheated car only needed a simple little tube that cost 2 dozen eggs and some change!) reading Think by John Piper, I thought about how we are called to be both like children (Matthew 18:3), but not children at all (1 Corinthians 14:20).

I can think of many times I’ve been accused of being excessively childish and an almost equally amount of times I’ve been accused of being too serious. And, um, the accusations are often true. The pros and cons of this see-saw are something only the Lord can measure out. But, I’m not going to give up that easy.

I love that the God of all the universe suggests we become like children… completely dependent for every need and completely abandoned to all kinds of joy; completely honest about doubts and completely transparent about fear. We need Him just as desperately for joy as we do for our bread and I think He delights equally to give them.

I love that when Zaccheus heard Jesus was coming to town, he lost all sense of shame or fear and scurried right on up that Sycamore tree. And oh how I love Jesus when he gives Zaccheus (see this sermon by George Whitefield) the invitation to come down … and to please host him (Jesus) at his house for a celebration! Zaccheus abandoned all pride and position just to glimpse the Man with the power to give him a place in eternity.

Can you believe it? God didn’t move Zaccheus to walk stoically up an aisle at an altar call and calmly confess by repeating a mechanical prayer. God moved in Zaccheus and the little guy couldn’t reach for the branches fast enough. He desperately wanted to see Jesus and nothing else mattered. Only a child would act like that. And I love that Jesus loved it.

On the other/same hand (I refuse to think these things are actually separate), Paul cautions the church in Corinth to not be children “in your thinking.” We are to be infants in regard to evil, but mature in our thinking. It is much easier to do the opposite – mature about evil and infants in our thinking. We are not called to be infants about everything… just evil. The act of thinking will bring us into maturity, just like a child who learns to walk or start mumbling phrases. Those lessons require thinking. Sometimes we get so concerned about being “relevant” that we start to be mature about the evil in the world. I can’t say I know what it means to be innocent of evil (Romans 16:19) and wise about what is good, but I think it has a lot to do with Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

As we actively think on these things, in the pursuit of Scripture and its application in our lives, the evil things of our dark world becomes less appealing, while the wisdom about living in the darkness makes our light shine like a million suns.

It’s getting late and I should wrap this up.

Basically, when my heart cries out Kyrie Eleison today, I am saying, “Lord, have mercy on me when I am mature about evil and innocent about good. And, Lord have mercy on my students as they choose what to think on, be wise about, and be innocent of. Oh, Lord please have mercy!”

What better place to learn about this desperate plea than through music… through the beautiful voice of a child. Here’s a young English boy singing Kyrie recorded live in Dublin with a full choir and orchestra. Also this article from the Gospel Coalition, “Ordinary Evil and the Factory that Made Corpses” has provoked some thoughts on what it is to be innocent of evil, or completely mixed up in it.

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

Thoughts and Links

I don’t know how to talk about these days. I only know God is present and moving and working and I am THRILLED … beyond THRILLED to watch. When I need to kick an attitude or some sadness, I just think about the ONE thing that trumps all other things in order of importance. I think about how everything struggles to pull that ONE thing away from its place of greatest importance.

Basically, I’m diving straight into this last phase with “HOLD NOTHING BACK” mentality. Jesus is too important and I love these kids too much. The results make me ask why I’ve been with any other mentality ever.

While I’m trying to figure these things out, here are some things to read:

This is an interesting series in Q about arts and entertainment and how culture has/is shaping what we make of it.
Veneer of Arts and Entertainment

I think this is a timely and helpful article about loving our enemies after recent events. We are not just called to love our next door neighbors (although we have issues with that, too). We are called to straight up love our enemies. Whew!

I am becoming more and more averse to the Bible used as a moral rulebook and pastors using Jesus as a moral teacher. Check out this article from Desiring God Ministries and think on it with me.

I admit this article grabbed my attention with the words “bikini barista” in the title… but it’s totally worth a read. Wendy Alsup, who writes on this blog and also has several books, talks in the article about the struggle for independence being one of the worst consequences of our sin.

Okay, so I’ll leave you with that. I have things to read and “hold nothing back” messages to send! 🙂

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

here are more senior trip pictures

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Out of Your Heart… and little steps

Churchill College Chapel - TtV of the John Pip...
Image by dumbledad via Flickr

This past weekend we had a teachers’ retreat at a lake a few hours from the city. I split my time between staffing the snack shop, playing a few rousing card games, climbing trees, playing soccer, and taking one somewhat risky solitary run through a field and up a small mountain. Most of these activities involved much prayer, but I’m thankful for that, too.

I came back less refreshed, but very ready to tackle this week of pre-mission trip planning. Sunday night after a bit of baking, I tried to settle in to watch a sermon, but your bed is no place to take serious notes and stretch your mind. So, Monday morning I finally finished this sermon by John Piper. I’ve heard and said, “Come to Jesus” many times without grasping exactly what it means.

This sermon works through John 7:25-39 and examines that very question – what does it mean when Jesus gives this invitation: “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”

I love this breakdown. It is so beautiful to try to understand why we thirst and why the person of Christ is exactly and only what will satisfy. Beyond satisfaction, RIVERS wil flow from us… rivers of living water! It’s Tuesday night and I still can’t get over it.

Well, yesterday afternoon I felt a bit of the living water flooding my living room, as the mission trip gathered to pound out some last minute details. I am continually blessed by the hearts and minds of these students. “Little steps,” they tell me, “Miss, you can’t expect us to change all sudden, but little steps.” It takes everything in me to keep from wrapping them in a crazy hug and singing one of the uber-embarrassing songs my mom would throw my way whenever she was proud. Because, friends, if you could see these little steps they are taking your heart would SWELL.

Today, the students spoke in chapel in front of their peers and I am still praising God for their courage. These “little steps,” they may not realize are HUGE leaps for the faith they have hidden deep in their hearts! These “little steps” are how they wear resolve so beautifully when classmates give them trouble for being involved in something so obviously, “Christian.” After our devotional on Monday (more on that in tomorrow morning’s post), I can now ask them, “Is it worth it? Is what you are doing worth those little comments?”

I wish you could look in their faces to see their response, “There’s no question, Miss.”

I believe God is working and He is gracious enough to give me reminders of His sovereignty and His mighty hand. I am humbled, humbled, humbled to be a part of this process!

Tonight, with a cake stashed in the fridge and cookies all packaged, I am literally on my floor in my bedroom typing this out and I can’t tell you why. I just know that daily God is calling me to

let LOVE fly like cRaZy!

an overflowing kind of full

Today I had such a beautiful conference with a student. After a lot of round-a-bout talk about ways people disappoint us, we broke it down into my two favorite categories:

1. what I can control
2. what I canNOT control

It was easier to start with number 2, so we made a nice lengthy list and felt confident we weren’t leaving much out. Then, we agreed all our worry and anxiety over what we canNOT control is only creating more worry and anxiety because (of course) we can’t change it.

THEN my favorite part: we talked about all the wonderful things we can control and how powerful those things can be. We can control what we think of people, how we respond to people, what we say to people, how we look at people, and also what we think, say, feel about ourselves… we went on for awhile discovering what is in the realm of our control before I asked her how in the world she could have the power to choose these things if she knew she wouldn’t receive the same in return.

She fumbled a bit. (And I did, too, honestly. It was one of those I’m-counseling-you-but-I’m-getting-alot-out-of-this-too moments.)

I asked, “Who fills you up so you can do all those things you just said? It’s true you can control what comes out, but how?”

In the oh-so-typical response, she said, “God.”

Something clicked in that moment and I got really excited. Yes! God does promise us life abundant (John 10:10) – an overflowing life – when we come to drink from the well of Living Water (Isaiah 55:1).

When we come to Him and ask to be filled He doesn’t mess around. He doesn’t measure things out and make sure we’re filled just up to the brim. He doesn’t even bother with showing off His sweet design of hydrogen bonding (you know, when water bulges on the top of your glass but doesn’t spill over).

what happens when hydrogen bonds in water

When God fills us it is ALWAYS an overflowing kind of full.

always an overflowing kind of full

God offers everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). His is the only Love great enough to give without hope of receiving. When we choose to seek Him and be filled, our lives will always, always spill over with a Love greater than our selfish desire to be loved in return. The overflow will bless everyone within our reach and our joy in seeing His Love touch others will only motivate us to go back and be (over)filled again!

I can truly say my heart was encouraged as much as hers when we parted. This student is a gem, to be sure.

And you? are you going to the ONLY place offering true, overflowing life? You do know that is the only way you can

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

praise God for mercies anew!

It’s all about perspective, I suppose.

Today, looking back on yesterday, I can see God’s promises never changed. Things are brighter and more hopeful today, but not because circumstances have made them that way, but because I’m viewing them in light of who God is instead of who I am. My statement, “I need” is just as true today, but the difference is a focus on God’s provision.

As I’m thinking about all this, I realized a lesson that should still be fresh on my heart. Last Friday, a mission group from Missouri came to lead our staff in worship. Within the first few opening lines, I expected a fire-and-brimstone type of message (mainly due to the drawled accent and vocal inflection characteristic of preaching, pot-stirrers). But, I can say truly the power of that message was something deeper than delivery. Praise God He is gracious with us and promises His Word will never return void.

So, the message focused on Colossians 1:9-12, where Paul prays in earnest for these fellow believers. The pastor summed up how we can pray in the same way with these simple pleas:

verse 9
Lord, help us know what to do (Discernment)
verse 10
Lord, help us do what we know (Discipline)
verse 11
Lord, help us do it with the power You provide (Dependence)
verse 11
Lord, help us keep doing it (Determination)
verse 12
Lord, help us do it with joyful thanksgiving! (Delight)

I walked right up to him afterwards and asked if there was a way I could get a transcript of the sermon. Sure enough, the sermon showed up in my email today. I almost deleted it (because his name is a little strange), but when I opened it and saw the kind message and the sermon attached, I knew it was more than him keeping his promise. In my state of need yesterday, I prayed and vented and asked for support.

In God’s grace, today He gave provision by way of this sermon, smiling faces, and a light heart.

Today, my word is THANKFUL.

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

this also happened on Friday …