Friday, December 4, 2009

Jesus Customer

I thought I'd include another quote from another book I'm reading, because it made me stop and think for a while, and really I'm still thinking about it even now. It comes from the book In God's Underground, by Richard Wurmbrand. He's a pastor that was tortured in Romania during communist rule around the 1950's. He writes about how two guys, Daianu and Ghinda readily gave up their faith so that life would be easier for them and they could leave the prison. A man in the cell with Wurmbrand comments, "Strange that men who wrote with what seemed deep Christian faith should turn traitor so easily!" Wurmbrand's response is, "Perhaps the answer was that in their writings Daianu and Ghinda praised Christ for the gifts. He gives us--peace, love, salvation. A real disciple does not seek gifts, but Christ himself, and so is ready for self-sacrifice to the end. They were not followers of Jesus, but customers; when the Communists opened a shop next door with goods at lower prices, they took their custom there."
Am I just a customer of Jesus, seeking the gifts He has to offer or am I seeking after him? If at a given time all He has to offer me is suffering, will I still cling to Him, still trust in Him, still praise Him? Lord teach me to be your bride, not your customer.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

In Jesus' Name

I am currently reading a book called Deep Wounds, Deep Healing by Charles Kraft (it has been very good). I wanted to share one thought that I had been learning about over the last couple months that I think he puts into words well. "I once had a discussion with a friend who was discouraged in her prayer life. It seems that she had prayed for several things 'in Jesus' name' but was not receiving what she prayed for. We discussed some of the possible reasons. Praying in Jesus' name, I told her, is not so much about how you pray or what words you use in prayer, but more about who you are in prayer.
"Many Christians take Scriptures like praying 'in Jesus name' and use them like magic incantations. They think that if they get the phrasing right, then the desired answer will follow. My friend needed to understand, though, that praying 'in Jesus' name' meant living in Jesus' name so that the desires of her heart would be more closely associated with the desires of that 'name.' Her desires would be more in tune with God's desires. Powerful prayers are initiated by those who live and pray in Jesus' name.
"Such intimacy doesn't have to be a mysterious thing for us however. I don't think it was for Jesus. We need to spend time in the kind of give and take that cultivates a close relationship. When we talk with God, we usually call it 'praying.' This term, however, obscures the fact that talking and listening to God are to be natural and constant, not an occastional ritual. We are prepared for ministry if we try to practice intimacy with the Father in Jesus all day, every day. (p81)"
Mr Kraft challanges me to live a life in line with the name of Jesus, the character of Jesus, and pray out of that, rather than just adding the words, 'in Jesus name' to end of all my prayers. The more I listen to God, really take time and listen, the more I get to know His heart and how it beats and longs for every person to experience the love that He offers, and the better I am able to pray in His will and thus see answered prayer.

Saturday, October 10, 2009


what would christianity look like if we took away the "ianity" and were left with Christ? Following Jesus, it goes beyond cultures and beyond rituals and rules. What if we strip away all that we humans have added to the raw good news of Jesus? How would our lives be lived differently? What would the church look like? How would the spread of the Good News of Jesus be affected?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Song lessons II: even Obama will bow before Him

I kept forgetting to finish my song lesson series, well, more like a mini-series I guess, since this might be the last, though maybe not. This is from another song we sang at a church in Uganda. "We bow before You God, We bow before you Jesus, even the presidents, they bow before you, even Obama will bow before you." When I think about this, I am reminded that no matter how powerful we think certain humans have become, Jesus is still more powerful. Even I have the capacity, the capability to be more powerful than the president because I have the Holy Spirit and have authority by the blood of Jesus. It is weird to think about, but true. As followers of Jesus, the King of the entire universe invites us to ask of Him things, to approach His throne with confidence, tells us the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is in us. How responsible have I been with that power? Have I even done anything with that power, have a I realized it's potential yet, have I even scratched the surface? As I am here training to go to Soroti, Uganda, I hear of the powerful work of Christ around the world. I realize I need to be more sensitive to Him, to His direction, to His calling in day to day, moment by moment, and more open to what He calls me to now. I need to have a perspective of people out of love, always through the lense of the love of Christ.
So I didn't talk too much about the song, it got me thinking to say the least.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Hezekiah, embracing the love

Hezekiah also reinstated the passover. Passover is normally celebrated in the first month of the Jewish calendar, but because of all that went down in the last years it had not been properly celebrated in a long time. Any in Hezekiah's reign they weren't quite ready to celebrate it in the first month as the repairs were being done, so did they decide to wait until the next year? No. They talked about it and decided they had to celebrate it as soon as they could. So they did in the second month. God's chosen people had been split into two areas a while back, and were actually just at war with each other during the last king's reign. But this did not matter to Hezekiah, he invited all of Isreal and Judah to come to Jerusalem to once again celebrate this important holy feast. Embracing the love means seeing with eyes of God, seeing how He loves beyond our own conflicts, beyond enemy lines, beyond religious lines, oh that every man and woman might come to Him through Jesus. No one is more deserving the other. And because they were so out of practice concerning coming to the temple to worship many came that had not cleansed themselves yet. They should not be included, but they are. Hezekiah knows the heart of God because he prays, "May the good LORD pardon everyone who sets his heart to seek God, the LORD, the God of his fathers, even though not according to the sanctuary's rules of cleanness." and the LORD heard Hezekiah and healed the people. God recognizes the hearts that are seeking Him. Hey, we may not have it altogether, we may even be afraid to go inside the building because of our "dirtiness", but God sees the glimpses of faithfulness in our hearts, and He meets us where we are. Set your heart to seek Him. See how He meets you, and even though you are dirty, provides a way through Jesus to come to Him. He's not concerned as much with so many rules and regulations, mainly that you set your heart to seek Him. One glance of your eye, it takes His breath away. Embrace His love, and know He's embracing yours.

Hezekiah, Kingdom man

Hezekiah seems to get it. As soon as he's named king he takes seriously the job before him. And his first order of business isn't killing off potential coup leaders or securing anything for himself, he's mainly concerned with God and repairing His house. "In the first year of his reign, in the first month, he opened the doors of the house of the LORD and repaired them." 2 chron 29:3 After many, many years of war and evil kings neglecting and destroying the house of God Hezekiah embraces the love of God and acts. He calls everyone to return worshipping the Lord in the temple, and reinstates levites and priests (those who could lead the worship). He doesn't have the people bring him taxes and gifts, but rather has the people bring what they have to God. When things are going crazy and life seems to be falling apart, it's so easy to focus on ourselves and be overwhelemed and throw ourselves a pity party. Look at Hezekiah and learn. There's no pity party there even though he comes to reign in a beaten and broken down kingdom torn apart by faithless leaders and foreign countries. Pray that you will be courageous in the ways of the Lord. Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness (that is Jesus). It's so easy to get stuck in our kingdoms (oh poor me), but try hard to worship even in the midst of your defeat and seek to repair the kingdom of God and your own kingdom won't seem to matter too much anymore. God will open your eyes to what is important, He will draw you near to Himself.

Friday, August 21, 2009

song lessons I: Jesus is a Fat, Fat God...

One sunday morning at a church plant just outside of Soroti, Uganda, a few Americans (myself and four others) attended a worship service with our Ugandan brothers and sisters. In the Ugandan church that we went to we sang some songs in english and some in ateso. Most the time it even took a while to realize that we were indeed singing in English. One of those times when I figured out we were singing in english I realized that we were singing, "We serve a Big, Big God," I was glad to realize we were singing english and started to join in and then the next phrase was, "We serve a Fat, Fat, God, We serve a Tall, Tall God." It caught me off guard, woah, did I just call God fat? and is that ok? Us americans all just kinda looked at each other and laughed and just kept on singing. I started thinking about it and it's true. We do serve a fat, fat God. In Africa in the majority of settings it is looked upon as good to be called fat and even to be fat as it means you have abundance of wealth and health, and joy. And, well, my God, He does have an abundance of wealth and health and joy, which He shares with His children. So in the end, I decided it was good to call God fat...not lazy and stuffing himself with food kind of fat, but full of wealth and life and joy kind of fat.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Lots of money, a big house, a great job, a loving family? Are those blessings? Lossing a job, the death of a loved one, hard, unclear decisions, no money, homeless? Blessing? What is blessing? I am under the impression that in the western church we often come up with a skewed, limited idea of what blessing is. I just wanted to challange you to look at what you call blessing and why you've labeled something a blessing or not. I know for me, when I look at my life, I wouldn't call my parents divorce a blessing, and yet I was blessed through it because I leaned into the Father's heart. I wouldn't call going through the breaking off of an egagement a blessing, but I am so blessed to now know better the Lover that Christ is to me. When looking back over my life I see that the times when I felt truely blessed were when I really had to press in to God, when I didn't understand things, and when I couldn't explain things, and I was ready to give up, its then that I experienced a new part of God's character that I otherwise would not have been able to experience so thoroughly. It was then that I felt most blessed, that this God of the universe would share Himself with me. When in Uganda, one might say, oh, they struggle so, and we have so much blessings at home and they have so little here. But think about how distracting our "blessings" in the states are. Think of how intimately some in Uganda are able to experience God because they don't have those "blessings." We can be truly blessed whether we are living in America or Uganda, it's all a matter of perspective.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

the eternal song

At the request of my friend Jennifer, I am posting something I wrote for a hiking/camping trip that the young adults from remembrance church went on near Lake Michigan a month or so ago...

Ok. Stop. Cease striving, and wait patiently, expectantly. Listen. Hear the rhythm of your breathing, of your heartbeat and then listen all around the waves, the trees, the birds. All proclaiming the Glory of God and at first it seems so subtle, so nonchalant, but if you just listen and watch. Listen to their testimony of His goodness, watch them proclaim His faithfulness. Notice the persistence, the relentlessness of the waves, crash, crash, crash, never stopping always working, so relentless is His love for you. The trees, rooted so deep, and yet the tiptops are so sensative to the wind, will go with the slightest breeze. So you, see how Christ wants you rooted deeply in His love, standing firm, yet recognizing, be sensative to moving with every move of the Spirit. And the birds, hear their joyful chorus. Join in, for they sing a new song and we must join them. Read Psalm 98 and Isaiah 55:12. Creation is calling out, proclaiming his glory. They are joining into the song that has been sung since Jesus took His spot at the right hand of the Father. Read Revelation 4. Really try to picture it, see creation around you joining in and then even yourself, if you're so bold. really just take a few minutes and listen, and join in. Sing the New Song, the song of the Lamb. Salvation is now. Just as the trees, the waves, the grass, the birds are doing what they were made to do. You too were made to live lives of worship and abundant life. Let Holy Spirit guide you into the presence of the King and you will be a changed person. Let Him pour the sweet refreshing Fountain of Life over you. Feel it. Let him soften your hearts and restore unto you the joy of your salvation. Salvation is now, it's not, wait until you die and then start praising Him. Join in the eternal song. Learn from the creation around you, see how everything is a shadow of what's to come. Watch, listen, and then join in, relax and let your heart be molded in His presence.

What makes your heart hard? What makes it so hard to just sit and listen and worship? What is most distracting in your life right now? What needs to get cut out, what needs to get brought in? How ca we, as the church around you, best serve you? What are you guarding your heart so closely? What are you afraid of? The purpose of God cannot be thwarted (Job 42:2). Read Job 42:2-6. What is your response? Will you join the eternal

Saturday, June 13, 2009

New Hampshire/Vermont

God has blessed me with great opportunities to share His love and to enjoy Him through relationships and through His creation. I am done with my New Hampshire/Vermont stint of my trip and arrived on the Mass. north shore last night. In New Hampshire I reconnected with my old roommates from college the first weekend, and throughout the week ended up helping out at the school that Amy (my old volleyball coach) works at. I helped chaperon a 7th grade trip to Old Sturbridge Village, I taught gym class for 3rd grade and 5th grade one day. I thought I was better at dodge ball, but the 3rd graders definitely showed me up. The main reason I came to New Hampshire was to help with the high school trip to Boston, but I ended up helping with the vermont trip instead, which i loved because i got to spend more time working with Amy,

and we camped on a farm
and we ate good food
and went hiking
and had solo time where we could just be quite and listen out in the woods near a stream
and we got to dig a grave for a blind sheep
and we got to trim some trees
and go sailing on Lake Champlainand build relationships with high schoolers and demonstrate a life lived for Christ

anyway, i had an excellent time.

Friday, June 5, 2009

a way where there is no way

Today I was reading 2 kings 6 & 7.  I'll give you my brief synopsis.  OK, so there's famine in Samaria, so bad that some are even eating their children. There's the opposing Syrian army camped just out side the city. Inflation is at an all time high.  It all looks so hopeless, doubt and despair fills the city. Hunger, disease and death are everywhere.  But once again God offers a way where there is no way.  The Syrians hear a large army approaching quickly and assume somehow the Israelites have gotten some assistance from another area.  They flee quickly leaving everything burdensome behind, discarding more stuff as they go along their way.  Little do they know, there is actually no army approaching, but God has only made them think that there was.  Soon the Israelites discover that the Syrians have fled their camp and left all their belongings behind.  Skeptical at first the Israelites finally loot the Syrian camp.  Prices drop back to normal and the town is saved. God provided for the Israelites, not because of the boldness of the city, or because they deserved it, but because of His grace.  Elisha alone declared it and believed it would happen.  This story reminded me to believe when things are hopeless.  when there appeared to be no way to God, He provided a way through Jesus.  When things appear hopeless in your life, cry out to Jesus, God will provide a way where there is no way.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

its for the birds...

Last year I made a birdhouse and hung it out behind my grandparents house. It was for a certain type of bird that I can't think of the name right now of, but to my dismay not one chose it as a place of habitation. But to my great joy this year it looks like some nuthatchers (a blue&black little bird) have started building a nest, they look like they are enjoying it so much and are quite busy. They will have a safe place to bring new life into the world and be protected from storms and predators. Now, go with me here for second. It may be a stretch. Think of the birdhouse as the foundation, just like Jesus. God offers us Christ and He is the safe place. Just as the jew rejected him, so too the other bird that the birdhouse was intended for rejected the birdhouse. Just as I am taking delight that these birds are abiding in my birdhouse, God takes delight when we abide in Christ. Just as I do not force the birds to choose my birdhouse (not could I if I wanted too), God does not force us to choose Christ, but offers Him for all, hoping that all will choose Him. Just as I know storms and predators will come, i delight that the birds have a refuge to go to, a place to rest and be protected. God too tells us that storms and predators will come into our lives, but we can find refuge, rest and protection in Christ Jesus. Just as the birds use the birdhouse to bring new life into the world, God uses Christ to bring new life to us. Thank you Father that you teach us about yourself everywhere we look. That you do not hide yourself from us, but reveal your love through even the simple lesson of the birdhouse. Thank you Jesus for being our refuge, a place of new life, for allowing us to abide in you. Father constantly remind us that you delight in us, not because we are somehow able to build a life that meets your satisfaction, but just because you love us.

Saturday, April 18, 2009


I was reading in Numbers 32 the other day about the time when the Isrealites were just getting ready to cross the Jordan and enter into the promised land, finally. Well the Reubenites and Gadites (two of the twelve tribes bound for the promised land) wanted to stay on this side of the Jordan because the land was good for their flocks, at first Moses was upset with them thinking they were wimping out. Finally he told them that they could have that land for their inheritance as long as they sent all their warring men over the Jordan and helped the other Isrealites claim their inheritance. The Ruebenites and Gadites promised, "We will not return to our homes until each of the people of Israel has gained his inheritance."v18. God asked me, would you be willing to do this? would you be willing to continue to fight for the Lord away from home until each of my children has gained their inheritance? It's a hard question. I already have my eternity secured, I've been given my inheritance from Christ, but will I do battle for the Lord so that others may recieve their inheritance as well? Will I stay comfortably in my home or in my promise of Heaven or will I go out and fight against the evil one, and love others to Jesus. I chose this way of love or discomfort, because though it is most likely more difficult, others will be able to recieve their glorious inheritance. Other's lives will be transformed by Christ and that makes every trial worth it. Because God will get the glory that He deserves.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Father love

"My Father sees, my Father hears, my Father knows." (andrew murray)  Sometimes I forget that my Father already knows what's happening to me, that it's not a surprise when I can't find a job or my car breaks down with no backup in mind.  He sees, He hears, and yes He knows. He knows that I will inevitably cry out to Him, wondering why.  Yet He is patient with me, more patient with me then I am with my self I reckon.  A lot of times I let the image of earthly dads limit my picture of the Eternal everlasting Father.  When i started thinking about it, I came up with a list to try to put together the perfect father, and here's what i came up with, though i'm sure it's not an exhaustive list, and am open to suggestions.  He holds me, laughs with me, explains things to me, teaches me, asks me questions (even when He knows the answers) listens to pointless stories, rejoices in my victories, loves my dedication and perseverance, helps me when i fall, speaks words of encouragement when i fail, and instructs me.  He disciplines me when i'm disobedient, he loves me more than I'll understand.  He plays with me, works with me, points different things out to me.  He shares his wisdom with me, shares meals, rewards me, does stuff for me, fixes things for me, picks me up, comes to my rescue, makes me know I'm beautiful, has long talks about life with me, tells me if he thinks a guy's good enough for me, always wants what's best for me which doesn't necessarily mean easiest...He loves me and shows me this in too many ways to count. To think as Jesus presented this picture of God to the disciples, the judgement law God would have to be transformed into this Father picture, not just having laws to have laws, but out of love, laws to show His love and care for His precious ones.  And going beyond the law to save us with His Son.  Mercy triumphing over judgement.  Thank you beloved Father. You never change, you never fail.