Saturday, June 30, 2012

Killing Calvinism

Killing Calvinism, by Greg Dutcher is not, as many might assume, a refutation of Calvinism, evidenced by its subtitle: how to destroy a perfectly good theology from the inside. I'm on point 6 of 8, but I'm having such a blast reading this that I had to share.

I think the main reason I'm enjoying it so much because of my relationship with theology, and specifically Calvinism. Theology was a terrifying word for me for a long time, something better left to pastors and seminary students; it was definitely not for me. During the second semester of my freshman year of college, I started regularly meeting with our area director for IVCF, and upon discovering my love of reading, he got me on theology. The first thing I read was Knowing God by J.I. Packer. I have to say, I was hooked. He soon learned of my reading speed, and began bringing me 5 books each week, because I was going through them all.  Sometime in the middle of all this, a friend asked if I was Calvinist or Armenian. I hadn't quite gotten that far yet, and he asked me some questions about what I believed. He was somewhat amused by my answers, and said, "Oh, you're definitely a Calvinist alright". Being theologically unread, I had developed those views from, quite simply, the Bible, and didn't think there was another way of seeing it (read: me asking, "Wait, do some people actually believe we would choose God on our own? Why would people born into sin and rebellion choose the One we've rebelled against? What?! Some people don't think we were born in sin?")

I told you this whole story because it has absolutely effected my interactions with this book, in much the same way Dutcher's story has effected his writing about the Reformed movement. Dutcher had a different experience than I did; he was graciously saved and discipled, and was then introduced to Calvinist theology, which after some study, made sense with what he had learned. My experience was different in that as a result in salvation, I was holding to a theology, and was then told what it was called.

I had some problems with some of the things that he said. Maybe I'm looking too far into things, and some of his statements are coming out with different implications than he realized, but I took note. One such issue comes from this quote "Had Jesus been an absolute master of sound biblical theology but unkind and unloving as a man, he would today be a small footnote in history". Dutcher is trying to compel us to be disciples of Christ in striving to be more like Him, instead of making theology our idol, but I gasped a little bit reading it. Even if, as a man, Jesus had been unkind and unloving (which, I would say, because He was also God, is impossible, but for hypothetical's sake, we'll go with it) He still would've been God. He still would have hung on the cross to atone for our sins. He still rose from the dead. Which means, that His place in history would have to have been more than just a small footnote. I mean, you only see life after crucifixion once, after all. Disbelief in something doesn't make it untrue. I could also do without his stereotypical descriptions of a neo-Calvinist, who preaches in ripped jeans and flip flops and drinks Guiness.

But, there were also some really fun, smart, and interesting things. He tells a story about wanting to see a beautiful view and cleaning his windshield. Because the windshield was clear, he and his family could see the glory of God's creation in all its fullness. But they weren't praising the windshield; they were praising God. Says Dutcher, "I am concerned that many Cavinists today do little more than celebrate how wonderfully clear their theological windshield is...Reformed theology is not an end in itself. It is simply a window to the awe-inspiring universe of God's truth, filed with glory, beauty, and grace. Do we need something like a metaphorical windshield of clear, biblical truth to look through as we hope to marvel at God's glory? Absolutely. But we must make sure that we know the difference between staring at a windshield and staring through one". On Calvinist tendencies to dismiss evangelism, because God is ultimately in control, he says, " as people see how we relate to the unsaved- with such love and generosity - they should be surprised to learn that we believe in unconditional election and limited atonement" And nuggets like this one make the book just plain enjoyable to read, "While it may be an inside joke among Reformed folks that the apostle Paul was a Calvinist, who can argue it's not true?" I dare you to be a Calvinist and not smile at that little jest.

In any event, I'm not finished yet, but it's safe to say that it's clearly a book written by a Calvinist for other Calvinists. And sometimes a funny one at that.

Friday, June 29, 2012


And since I probably just bored you all to death with the mundane details of my life, here's what I'm listening to right now:

This Man - Jeremy Camp

What Other Man - Natalie Grant

Conversations - Sara Groves

Love Is Making A Way - Sixteen Cities

Jesus Freak - DC Talk

Chase That - Lecrae 

These Thousand Hills - Third Day 

Day After Day - Kristian Stanfill 

All I Need - Bethany Dillon

Before The Throne Of God Above - Sovereign Grace 

I Want To Know You (In The Secret) - Sonicflood

Because one genre and decade is just not enough.

Here's The Scoop

It's been a fun last few days. I'm going to be blogging for The127Project, and I'm really excited about that and the whole project. I love writing (clearly....) and I'm naturally on board with their vision, derived from Philippians 1:27

Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel

I thought I'd give the whole scoop as to how I got involved here. Sit back with your cup of coffee, because it's my blog and I can make this as long as I want to. 

It all started when I was born decided on Beloit College. Relatively new to a life without gymnastics, I found myself without a fall sport for the first time since kindergarten. Track would run January through May, but what to do those first few months? A close friend of mine persuaded me to join the cross country team; I started running over the summer and learned to love running. 

The BCXC (Beloit College Cross Country) is a crazy one, but we love and enjoy each other in a way that is just as unique and special as we are. 

At Privates in St Norbert my sophomore year. Maranatha Baptist Bible College was also competing, and one of their guys, Mason, found some of our guys (in the process of being absolutely ridiculous) and asked if there were any Christians on our team. Quinn and Matt got really excited and ran through the forest with Mason looking to find me. We connected, exchanged contact info, and later met up at Beloit. 

Those specific plans didn't work out, but the next year, I did a politics and religion discussion program through my job on campus and used the contact to form one of the most interesting dialogues I've ever been a part of. These two schools couldn't be more opposite, yet we enjoyed each other's contributions and were provoked to deeper thought. We met up once more with a group from Madison and formed some ties and even better dialogue. 

Well this one kid named Shane just wouldn't leave me alone. Just kidding. He recommended one of the best books I've read this year and yes, we became facebook friends. 

He started reading my blog while I was in Senegal. Which is why I just made fun of him a little. He and some of his guys launched The127Project and immediately started putting up awesome content. 

But they were looking for a female blogger. 

And I'm a female and a blogger. 

It took a bit of persuading because I didn't want to bring the level of what they had going on already down, but here we all are. 

So check it out, and share it and comment on it and learn from it. It's all for the gospel and the glory of Jesus Christ. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Pray For Colorado

In case you haven't heard, there is a raging fire in Colorado Springs that is quickly spreading. 32,000 people have been evacuated already (that's the size of Beloit, folks!) I have friends who were placed on pre-evacuation notice, and others who are out there doing what they can. Pray for rain, safety, and the peace and protection of God.

For those of you familiar with Colorado Springs things, Kari Jobe re-tweeted one of the New Life church pastors, and the fire is visible from his office.

So pray, friends.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Bear One Another's Burdens

Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

Last fall, two girls from Georgia came to visit another friend at Beloit. I was introduced to them, naturally, and we hit it off pretty well. 

Well, a little more than pretty well. Christina baked my favorite cookies, and shipped them right to me. This is a wonderful gesture in general, but she didn't just ship them from Georgia to Beloit. No, they went from Georgia all the way to Senegal. You don't do that for someone you just met unless you like them.

Christina's a counselor at a Christian camp in Georgia, Camp All-American. She has such a sweet, honest heart for the Lord and a reliance on Jesus as one who has truly known brokenness. I've been reading her blog on camp, and she's been struggling. She feels tired and defeated. She still loves the Lord and wants the Gospel working in the lives of her campers, but she feels so incapable. 

So last night, I made the decision, that this week, I would wake up at 5:30 and pray for her for a half hour, and then send her any verses or thoughts that she might need for her day (camp starts early, and she's an hour ahead!). 

The sun was a beautiful golden color this morning, and I had such a precious time lifting her up in prayer. It might seem like something crazy - get up at 5:30am for a girl I barely know across the country, but she's more than some girl I met once. She is a sister in Christ, and I am thus compelled to bear her burdens with her, and to share in casting them to Jesus. 

Before the Throne of God Above

Before the Throne of God Above

Before the throne of God above 
I have a strong, a perfect plea 
A great high Priest whose Name is Love 
Who ever lives and pleads for me 
My name is graven on His hands 
My name is written on His heart 
I know that while in heaven He stands 
No tongue can bid me thence depart 
No tongue can bid me thence depart 

When Satan tempts me to despair 
And tells me of the guilt within 
Upward I look and see Him there 
Who made an end to all my sin 
Because the sinless Savior died 
My sinful soul is counted free 
For God the just is satisfied 
To look on Him and pardon me 
To look on Him and pardon me 

Behold Him there the risen Lamb 
My perfect spotless righteousness 
The great unchangeable I am 
The King of glory and of grace 
One with Himself I cannot die 
My soul is purchased by His blood 
My life is hid with Christ on high 
With Christ my Savior and my God! 
With Christ my Savior and my God! 

One with Himself I cannot die 
My soul is purchased by His blood 
My life is hid with Christ on high 
With Christ my Savior and my God! 
With Christ my Savior and my God!

This song is so beautiful because of its strong basis in Scripture - drawing hearts ever closer to God. 

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16

Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. 
Hebrews 7:25

Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
    your walls are continually before me. Isaiah 49:16

Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Romans 8:34

Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers. Luke 22:31-32

But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God." 
Acts 7:55-56

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. Colossians 2:13-14

and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Romans 3:24-26

And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption 1 Corinthians 1:30

Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am." John 8:58

Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. Acts 20:28

For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. Colossians 3:3

waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ   Titus 2:13

Something Old, Something New

Nico came to visit yesterday, which was amazing. We had great talks just about every week, and then I left for Senegal and I hardly saw him on my Beloit visit. He also brought two other friends (Felisha and Bowman), and of course Isaac came over for lunch too. 

Seeing Nico at church was wonderful - the boy worships! And I got an extra long Nico hug right after the service ended. It was so enjoyable to listen to the conversation and what he'd been learning about from studying the Bible and seeking God and reading theology. 

Felisha and I also connected over a heart for children and the nations. At one point, Nico had stepped out to have a private chat with Pastor Tim, and when he came back Isaac was paired off with Bowman and I was have a heart to heart with Felisha. 

It felt so good to be able to share in true fellowship with one another, knowing we are one in the same spirit.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

We Will Dance

I love this song!

We Will Dance

Sing a song of celebration
Lift up a shout of praise
For the Bridegroom will come
The glorious One
And oh, we will look on His face
We'll go to a much better place

Dance with all your might
Lift up your hands and clap for joy

The time's drawing near
When He will apear
And oh, we still stand by His side
A strong, pure, spotless bride

We will dance on the streets that are golden
The glorious bride and the great Son of Man
From every tongue and tribe and nation
Will join in the song of the Lamb

Sing aloud for the time of rejoicing is near
The risen King, our groom, is soon to appear
The wedding feast to come is now near at last
Lift up your voice, proclaim the coming Lamb

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

10 Things You Should Know...

If you're not married but dating or courting someone. Originally posted at The Gospel Coalition.

1. It’s not bad to want to have sex with your significant other. It’d be another sort of worry if you didn’t. The key is to want to glorify Christ more than you want to have sex with each other.
2. The key to glorifying Christ more than you want to have sex with each other is that it is a decision to be made over and over again.
3. Persons in a dating or courting relationship are on their best behavior. So however they are now, you can expect, over time, for them to get “worse.” As familiarity grows, people let their guards down. Marriage does not fix bad behavior; it often gives it freer reign. Ladies, this means if your boyfriend is controlling, suspicious, verbally condescending or manipulative, he will get worse, not better the longer your relationship goes on. Whatever you are making excuses for or overlooking now, will get harder to ignore and more prominent the longer your relationship goes on. You can’t fix him, and marriage won’t straighten him out.
4. Nearly every Christian I know who is married to an unbeliever loves their spouse and does not necessarily regret marrying them, but has experienced deep pain and discontent in their marriage because of this unequal yoking and would now never advise a believer to marry an unbeliever.
5. Assuming you’re special and you’re different and their experiences won’t reflect yours is shortsighted, unwise, and arrogant. The people who love you and are warning/advising you against your relationship might be ignorant fools. Those sorts of people do exist. But odds are better that your parents, your pastor, your older married friends are wiser than you think.
7. Premarital sex de-incentivizes a young man to grow up, take responsibility, and lead his home and family.
8. Pre-marital sex wounds a young woman’s heart, perhaps imperceptibly at first but undeniably over time, as she trades in covenant benefits without covenant security. This is not the way God designed sex to fulfill us. Never give your body to a man who has not pledged to God his faithfulness to you in covenant marriage, which presupposes an accountability to a local church. In short, don’t give your heart to a man who is not accountable to anybody who provides godly discipline.
9. All of your relationships, including your romantic relationship, is meant to make Jesus look big more than it is meant to provide you personal fulfillment. When we make personal fulfillment our ultimate priority in our relationships, ironically enough, we find ourselves frustratingly unfulfilled.
10. You are loved by God with abundant grace in Christ’s atoning work, and an embrace of this love by faith in Jesus provides Holy Spiritual power and satisfaction to pursue relationships that honor God and thereby maximize your joy.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

So Many Questions Without Answers

Hi. Blog posts that ask a question and then work through the problem with reason and evidence to eventual reach a conclusion with a tidy answer are great. But don't you think they're a little overdone? I mean, everyone claims they know everything, or at least according to their blogs they do, anyway. I'm going to post on something I don't have an answer to, ok? You, though, can win a bonus point if you can tell me where I got the title of this post. Now let's begin.

It all started in church today. We're going on our 9th month of a sermon series on the end times (don't worry, we take some occasional breaks). Today we studied the second half of Revelation 13 - the second beast. This second beast's goal is to point those who are still around at the halfway point of the tribulation to worship of the antichrist. In part of a big-picture illustration about the counterfeits of Satan, our pastor referenced Matthew 24:23-28, when Jesus warns His followers not to fall prey to those who claim to be Him or to have seen Him.

But what really got me was verse 24:

For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.

To understand my ramblings, you are going to need to accept that fact that I believe in the doctrine of election. I'm not telling you that you have to believe (though naturally, I think you should), you just need to understand it. Election is the idea that God has predestined those who will be saved. Says one theologian from the Western Reformed Seminary, "God's sovereign choosing of those who would become the recipients of the blessings obtained through the covenant of grace". This teaching says that the Lord has known from the beginning of time who will be saved, and that we are in this position because He chose us.

You will also need to work under my comprehended timeline for the book of Revelation: that we are currently in the pre-millenial stage, there will be a rapture through which the church is taken up by Christ and sometime after that (perhaps immediately) begins the 7-year period of tribulation for those left on earth. At the 3 1/2 year, or halfway mark, the antichrist, or beast will be revealed. Those who do not have the mark of the beast will be unable to participate in commerce and trade; he will do signs and wonders, and even suffer a mortal wound and live. Many will seek after him and worship him instead of Christ, and new followers of Jesus will be persecuted and face immense hardships.

The last five words of this verse, are then, incredibly disconcerting.

If possible, even the elect. Well, what I want to know is, "is it possible, or isn't it". All things are possible for God. Clearly, Satan isn't God, and neither are false christs and prophets. Phew. BUT Satan isn't man either, and if he's behind these false prophets and christs, where does that leave us in terms of his power? That, I believe, depends on where we are in time, which I will get to in just a moment.

Now I will give you a peek into my journal from this afternoon, as I tried to reason through the verse in respect to timing:
The elect are those chosen by God to accept salvation in the perfected work of Jesus Christ. If the Lord has predestined us to be saved, how could we be deceived into worshiping the false christ and prophets? Unless the deceit, in this case, is temporary. Even assuming temporary deceit, wouldn't there have to be some sort of consequences to the church as a whole? Does this deceit have place in the pre and/or post rapture places in time? If it refers only to pre, is it possible that the elect mentioned here will not be raptured, but instead come into salvation during the tribulation? I can't get my mind around how this deceit would manifest itself post-rapture. Unless the elect follow the beast for a time before ultimately being reconciled to God. 

Throughout this whole series, I have seen how much I do not and can not know about God and His sovereign will. I can only be thankful for my salvation with Christ, and a new life full of His abundant grace. It is sometimes fun for me to think about these things, but in the end I know all I can do is trust the Lord with my life and put all my hope in Him.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Christianity and Liberalism

The 20th century theological commentary by Machen has been cited in many books within the last decade on the emergent church. It speaks not to liberal politics, but liberal theology and the movements away from the gospel of Christ.

Last week I was reading 1st Corinthians, and I was tripped up by this verse:

But now I write to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of [Christian] brother if he is known to be guilty of immorality or greed, or is an idolater [whose soul is devoted to any object that usurps the place of God], or is a person with a foul tongue [railing, abusing, reviling, slandering], or is a drunkard or a swindler or a robber. [No] you must not so much as eat with such a person. (5:11). 

I thought that sounded harsh. Aren't we all sinners? But Machen's words helped make a connection in my brain: 

"Christian fellowship exists only between those to whom the message (of the gospel) has become the very basis of all life" 

Those who hear the gospel and are transformed are no longer just sinners. We  are repentant sinners. We are redeemed sinners. We are ransomed sinners. And though we continue to sin, we strive to no longer serve it. We sin, and we repent. A man who struggles with a pornography addiction while seeking godly counsel and Christ's strength is different from one who relies on himself and continues to fail. A woman who works to honor Jesus in her standards of dressing and can get carried away is different from the woman who worships all the latest trends. 

Fellowship in Christ exists to build one another up, which cannot exist when one party attempts to build as the other is constantly swinging a wrecking ball at his own foundation. 

Friday, June 15, 2012

Confessions of a Coffee Purist

I drink coffee. Black. Any other way, it just doesn't taste like coffee. But days like today make me shift out of my routine.

The first cup went well. I chatted with Kathryn as she got ready for work, and then it was time for the second cup as she left. I had great intentions. I was going to drink this cup and just enjoy the morning. Well.

The children got up 45 minutes early, and one of them had had two girls sleep over. Those 3 got up first, and I got them bowls, cereal, milk, apple juice, and cut up some fruit. Back to coffee. Then the middle child awoke, and we started over. Then, finally, right on time, the oldest. So now they'd all had breakfast. Nathaniel started on his chore - using the cordless vac to take care of the floors - which caused the dog to have a fit (she believes vacuums, brooms, and step ladders are all the antichrist). So she had to go out. Then worksheet assistance was needed. Carolyn wanted to test herself on me and see if she'd had her verse for this week memorized (she didn't, but we got there eventually). Then I had to round up the youngest and get them ready to go home. And then I finished cleaning up the kitchen from breakfast. (I should note that Kathryn and Tim don't expect me to be the kids' nanny or anything like that, but I enjoy getting them and the house situated when I can)

My coffee by this point was that foul lukewarm leaning cold temperature and completely unappealing. I  dislike microwaving it because I think it's only a temporary fix, and who wastes coffee? So for when mornings like these catch you off guard try this:

(My cup was about 2/3 full)

Fill up the cup with milk ( I did almond milk).
Dump into a small pot and heat on the stove.
Add just a few drops of vanilla extract
Stir in cayenne pepper and cinnamon to taste.
Turn off heat just as it starts to boil.
Pour into cup and enjoy!

There are lots of things you can do to make it your own. I like the cayenne and cinnamon though (this is often called a mexican latte). You could also add chocolate for a mexican mocha.

So far, this is working out much better for me.

I also warmed a slice of the snickerdoodle bread I made a few days ago. So good! And it's the first bread I've ever done all by myself, so I'm really proud of it! I already have ambitions of a squash braid (thanks EJ!) and monkey bread.

Thursday, June 14, 2012


So let it be clearly known and understood by you, brethren, that through this Man forgiveness and removal of sins is now proclaimed to you;  And that through Him everyone who believes [who [a]acknowledges Jesus as his Savior and devotes himself to Him] is absolved (cleared and freed) from every charge from which he could not be justified and freed by the Law of Moses and given right standing with God. Acts 13:38-39

Coach As Servant

The last time I coached gymnastics, I was doing it for myself. I just needed a job and it was fun and convenient for me so why not? This summer, though, I've found a tremendous joy in a new approach.

Right from the start, I've felt a longing to know the girls I'm working with and how to best meet their needs. I want to see them be successful for themselves and to give them something to be proud of. I want them to get excited. I'm a tough coach, but gentle too. You'll work, but you'll enjoy and learn from it, and be stronger because of it.

In a way, it feels like I've found a way to bring Christ into my every decision and action and word as a coach, and be there to guide and truly serve these girls. I hope they can see where I'm coming from. They trust me so much, and I want to let the Lord shine through me so they have someone worth trusting.

Moments Like These

Gabby (8): Miss Kate?
Me: Yes?
Gabby: Uh, my chore today is to clean the toilet.
Me: And?
Gabby: I don't know how.
Lesson on toilet cleaning 

Kathryn: Hey Kate, can you review some French with Nathaniel
Me: Sure thing. Nathaniel, Quel age as tu?
Nathaniel: Um, um merci?
Me: Age. It's spelled a-g-e
Nathaniel: Age! Twelve. Douze! I'm douze!

Me: Now if someone asked you ca va? And you said ca va mal, they'd probably say pourquoi. Who knows what pourquoi means?
Carolyn: Pour what?
Gabby: Ooo ooo!
Me: Yes Gabby?
Gabby: never mind.
Nathaniel: Why!
Me: Oui, bien fait!
Nathaniel: Hey mom, I think I earned a bowl of cereal for that one. I'm faim.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

I Don't Get It

I was reading an article online about pastors who leave their positions to live lives as atheists. I read stories of people who dedicated 20, 30, even 40+ years of their lives to feeding congregations with the word of God, to nurturing faith among many, to praying with and for those they encountered in need.

And then, they stopped.

What makes someone who was once so convicted that he felt the need to tell the world stop believing completely? Did he never feel God's hand guiding their steps forward through life? Or hear the whisper of the Holy Spirit as he kneeled to pray early in the morning? Did he see the Lord answer prayer, providing in ways inconceivable to human demands? All of these things are meant to build faith, to serve as a testimony to who God is in our lives. The cross has already been written on our hearts, yet we need proof, and God bears with us enough to give it to us.

I don't see how one can go from being a preacher of the Bible to telling people God doesn't exist. I'm currently living with a pastor's family, and the gospel truly colors their entire lives.

I guess this is just going to remain a big question mark for me.

Monday, June 11, 2012


Acts 4:12 is a verse I'm very familiar with, but the 11th verse is what caught me tonight. I stand in awe of how I can look past a verse so many times, and then the Lord draws my heart to it at just the right time.

This [Jesus] is the Stone which was despised and rejected by you, the builders, but which has become the Head of the corner [the Cornerstone].
And there is salvation in and through no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by and in which we must be saved. 

As I read it, I saw that Jesus is the first - the Alpha, He does not change, and He remains at the foundation of all we do - the Omega, for all time. He is the beginning and the end; He knows not change. He is the rock on which our very lives need to be built. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Peace, Joy, Freedom

The Mark of the Lion series by Francine Rivers is the best Christian fiction series ever. I read the 1500+ page trilogy in less than 24 hours last year when I first read it. The story is tremendously gripping. It takes place in the Roman Empire, not long after Jesus' crucifixion. Judea has just fallen, and a young girl, Hadassah, is sold to a wealthy Roman family to serve their passionate and finnicky daughter. In a time when Christians are being persecuted, Hadassah struggles with her desires to serve God, her new family, and remain safe. The first time I read the books, I was caught up in the drama of the story, but this time, as I read more slowly and less concerned over the plot, I find myself drawn nearer to the Lord through this writing. Hadassah's love for the word of God and the testimonies of those who had walked with Jesus is so sweet, so beautiful, that it pulls me into my own Bible. (Warning: if you're going to read these books, it is imperative that you have book 2 nearby so that when you finish book 1, you can jump right into it. You might explode otherwise. For real)

The older brother of the family she's called to serve learns she is a Christian, and as he thinks about her, he tries to figure out what her deal is:

Everything she did mirrored her faith. It was as though every waking hour of every day she was devoted to pleasing her god by serving others. This god she worshiped consumed her. It didn't ask for a brief visit to a temple, or a small votive offering of food or coin, or a few prayers every now and then. This god wanted all of her. And what did she get from him? What reward had she received for her devotion? She was a slave. She had no possessions, no rights, no protection other than what her owners gave her. She couldn't even marry without her master's permission. Her life depended on the goodwill of her owners, for she could be killed for any or no reason at all. She received one small coin a day from his father, and that she frequently gave away. He remembered the peace on her face as she had stood with her face to the wind. Peace...and joy. She was a slave and yet she seemed to possess a sense of freedom he had never felt. (page 377)

Isn't this exactly what it means to be in the world and not of it? To serve the people of the world by loving them with Christ's kindness and patience, but not to serve the passions of the world itself. Though we are held to the earth, away from our Father and our true home, we have eternal peace, joy and freedom that cannot be taken from us.


My younger sister graduated from high school yesterday. It's been a long difficult road; in many ways I feel that these last 6 months have been longer and harder than any of the previous years. But she made it. As I listened to the various speakers and well-wishes given to this class of 2012, I thought of my own graduation 3 years earlier. I heard the students being told that they were now equipped to achieve anything, to go forth and really start something. I had heard similar things when I sat in their shoes, and I had latched onto them.

Now, at 20, I found myself sitting there cynically, fully aware that few things turn out the way we plan and expect and hope. I have learned that I don't need to be so proud of my strengths, that it is in weakness that I am made strong. I've learned that not having a plan is ok. I've learned that asking for help can be the bravest move one can make. I've learned that there are a million more possibilities than I'd ever imagined, and that what I know will never be but a small fraction of what I don't know.

I thought about what I would want to tell the class of 2012. I decided that it would be: don't play it safe. There are two parts to this idea in my mind:

1) Try something new. For example, running cross country was the craziest and best decision I made as a college freshman. From it flowed not only a new sport, but a team that became my family, friends in the form of competitors from around the midwest, a life long lesson in time management and decision making, being able to force myself to do things I didn't want to do, and some of the best quiet times I've ever had. If you can't meet God on a 12 mile run through the forest, I don't know where you will. I protested even our 20 minute runs in high school, and now I've achieved runs hours long. Taking this chance has made my college experience absolutely unbelievable.

2) Go with all your heart. I don't believe in sort of committing. I believe in putting my heart and soul into life, and for me, that's been giving it to Jesus and letting Him take control. You might think you're in control of your life, but you must worship something. Worshiping money will leave you lonely, worshiping fame will leave you lost, worshiping pleasure will leave you constantly looking for more, and worshiping a person will leave you disappointed. Only worshiping the Lord will leave you satisfied.

Try something new, go with all your heart, don't play it safe.

Friday, June 8, 2012

God's Favorite Color

Are Vikings fans the best?

Isaac, age 20: "God's favorite color is blue"
Pastor Tim: "What makes you say that?"
Isaac: "Look at the sky"
Gabby, age 8: "But the sun is yellow. Packers!"
Pastor Tim: "And Vikings. And purple is the color of royalty"
Isaac: "Actually the sun is orange"

What are the two biggest issues facing our nation today?

Gabby: "We need more Packer fans?"

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

26 Hours of Crazy

Voting, coffee with a totally finished senior (my sister's done!), a run/dinner with a friend, meeting with a new friend/potential future employer, staying up too late with my mom, a delicious breakfast, and a LOUD car ride home.

British boy band
Country pop princess
Worship album from 2000
Spontaneous worship
Jesus rap
Spoken word

Roadtrip playlist...good thing I was by myself...

Monday, June 4, 2012

What's At Stake

What's At Stake - Adam Cappa

A million faces everywhere, a million reasons not to 
care, I get so caught up inside my own little world
Choosing what I want to hear, seems I'm bound by my own 
fear, desperate for a change, so why am I just sitting 

While everyone is searching for a truth we found, why 
do we keep it secret even from the ones we love? Are we 
too afraid to speak up?


And I don't know why we let lives pass us by, can't we 
see all that's been broken inside?
And I am so tired of another selfish day's end, these 
people who are lost, will face eternity one day
Can't we see what's at stake?

Another day has come and gone, another life confused 
and lost, I have been so silent for far too long
It's up to me to share the hope that I have found


Sooner or later, this world will end, nothing else will 
matter but the life we've lived
One day we will stand before the throne and answer to 
the one whose name is Love

Chorus (x2)

Can't we see what's at stake?
There's so much at stake

Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12