Tuesday, July 31, 2012

For My Love

I'm pretty sure most of my readership is female, but to all the guys out there, I'm just going to go ahead and apologize for this one. My girl heart is full of mush right now. It happens. 

Well, it happens when I create an itunes genius playlist off of In Christ Alone by Bethany Dillon/Matt Hammitt on a quiet morning bike ride to work. Another Dillon tune came on, For My Love. The lyrics could have so easily been written out my own heart: 

Walk towards me
I want to hear 
The heavens singing over you
When you breathe
And look at me
I want to be captured by you

Gaze into my eyes
And let me know you’d fight
Thousands, for my love
Slip your hand in mine
Ask me to dance with you tonight
Just ask me for my love

I want to hide
What’s deep in my eyes
I’m scared to be known by you
But when I turn my head

And see you there
I want to be pursued

Gaze into my eyes
And let me know you’d fight
Thousands, for my love
Slip your hand in mine
Ask me to dance with you tonight
Just ask me for my love

A dream I won’t wake from
A story that will never end
The ground your feet walk on
Let me be there, let me be there

Gaze into my eyes
Let me know you’d fight
Thousands, for my love
Slip your hand in mine
Ask me to dance with you tonight
Just ask me for my love

Gaze into my eyes
Let me know you’d fight
Thousands, for my love
Slip your hand in mine
Ask me to dance with you tonight
Ask me for my love

I especially like the line, "I want to be pursued". I think that's a quality God gave all women, whether we realize it or not. It makes us feel cherished and desired. We want to be won. I also really relate to the first verse, when she says she wants to hear the heavens singing over her guy, and to be captured by him. To me, it expresses a desire to see a man consumed by Jesus, striving to be a man after God's own heart. The idea of being pursued by a man submitted to the will of Christ, being transformed into His image speaks to a desire of my heart. So beautiful. 

Monday, July 30, 2012


Over the past week, that John Piper has popped into my life again, "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him". It was in an article on The127Project, and then my pastor mentioned it in his sermon this week. And as I watch some disappointed athletes at the Olympics, I can't help but say that again.

As I watched Jordyn Wieber crying last night while attempting to talk with nagging reporters, I looked at her and said that. God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.

The verse that I have always connected with this is Romans 8:28, God works all things for good. If at all times we can say, God meant this for good, and that is satisfaction enough for me. Lord, Your ways are higher than mine; You are enough for me. If I have You I need nothing else.

This also ties in with some thoughts I've been having about the sovereignty and faithfulness of God. If you've been following my thoughts for awhile, you've seen that I have always come back to two things: God is faithful, and God is sovereign. Today I was thinking on this and I realized that these two elements hinge on one other so much that it is nearly impossible to separate them. Could the Lord be faithful without being sovereign? That is, could His promises come true if He weren't in control? I can't fathom that. On the flip side, could God be sovereign without being faithful? If He doesn't do as He intended - what He said He would do - how is that sovereignty? If we believe God is in control, God is going to get what God wants: the fulfillment on His promises.

I hope you see how this ties together. A little random tonight, sorry.

What is Truth?

First, the US men's gymnastics team had an incredibly poor showing in the finals. Although they qualified in first, they finished in fifth. China repeated as Olympic champions, and Great Britain won its first men's team medal in a very long time. Hopefully one of the US men will rally for a strong individual showing. Until then, US gymnastics is off to a rough start.

Back to our usual schedule here

In John 18:38, Pilate asks Jesus, "What is Truth?"
 This is really interesting here. Pilate is asking an honest question to which he does not know the answer. Pilate doesn't realize that he's asking Truth what Truth is. This is an eternal question. It also showcases the possibility of being directly confronted with the truth and being unable to recognizing it. It is only by God's overwhelming grace that we are able to see the truth of Jesus Christ.

My mind immediately drew back to Genesis 3:1, though, when the Serpent asks Eve, "has God indeed said...?" The Serpent, unlike Pilate, was intentionally being deceptive. He knew the answer to what Truth was, so he didn't ask. Instead, he manipulated it, asking if what God had said were true, in essence, if God were true. What an interesting parallel.

Just some thoughts from this morning.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Olympic Update and Religious Ramblings

SHOCKER! The women's gymnastics all around competition was set to showcase a dual between Gabby Douglas and Jordyn Wieber. But Wieber failed to qualify for the finals! I can't imagine what Jordyn must be feeling like right now. She qualified for an event final, though, and team USA has an excellent shot at gold, so I hope she rallies and puts on a great performance on Tuesday for the team finals. The US women qualified the maximum two athletes in the all-around, balance beam, and floor, with one contender each in bars and vault (McKayla Maroney finished half a point ahead of her nearest competition!). Further, the team qualified in the top spot with a few shaky routines they had to count.

On the men's side, team China suffered a devastating blow when its reigning Olympic champion was forced to drop out due to injury. They eeked out a team qualification, in a surprising sixth position, behind US, Russia, Great Britain, Germany, and Japan. Team USA qualified in first position, and will be sending one man into vault, floor, and high bar finals, and two men into the all-around, one of whom is sitting in the top spot!

In other news, I've been reading in John, and today as I went back over some things, I saw that Jesus says in John 5:46 that Moses was writing about Him. It made me think about the Jewish people, who recognize Jesus as a great teacher but not as the Messiah. But Jesus Himself says that the Old Testament refers to Him. I also thought about how agonizing that would be - waiting from the beginning of time for a Savior who, in your mind, still hasn't come. I pondered how Islam is in that way closer to Judaism; they both rely on a form of adherence to a law for salvation. I can't decide which belief would be more agonizing: waiting on a Messiah who will save you but just is not coming, or having no Messiah at all. When I looked at these other belief systems, I realized how easily I can take the freedom I have in Christ for granted. What a unique privilege to no longer have my sins counted against me.

that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:19

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Added Responsibility

If you haven't heard, I was named as the interim head coach of the Beloit YMCA gymnastics program. This was a 5-minute phone call, and by the time I came into work yesterday, I had a dozen parents who needed to voice their opinions to me. I had set up a meeting with the director for Monday to discuss what the expectations would be for the new title, and I was more or less clueless, leaving me completely unprepared. I never imagined myself being the head of anything at 20 years old...I can't even handle being the head of my own life most of the time! But I took a deep breath, and listened to them, coached their girls, and made sure they saw I was knowledgeable and caring. Many of the parents wanted to express appreciation for what I've brought this summer already, and this was very encouraging. One mom even said I was an answer to their prayers! I am so thankful to be able to help these girls train to the level they're capable of. It was still a long night, though.

Then this morning, there are two of us who teach different classes at 9am, and my co-worker overslept so I had to cover for her class and wake her up this morning to get her in. Not the ideal start to the morning. Additionally, one of the team moms who had come to work out asked me if I felt ready for the new responsibility of head coach. I said I thought so, and she said, "Well, good luck. Some of the parents can be nightmares". Um thanks? Then, when I thought it was time to go home for a relaxing day of watching the Olympics and making bread, we discovered a girl who'd been dropped off by her dad for a 10:30 class. Problem: There is no 10:30 class. We verified this at the front desk, and by that time her dad was in another city running errands, as he thought she had class until noon. The woman at the desk said, "Well call Donna (the former head coach)" Me: "Well I would, but she's done. I'm the new Donna". Ugh. After talking with her dad, who was on his way back, we got her signed up for a new class during the week.

So I've been head coach for less than 24 hours and I'm already feeling the added responsibilities...

"God doesn't call the qualified, He qualifies the called" Max Lucado

Lord, grant me the patience, wisdom and humility to serve in this new role. Amen.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Some Thoughts

What I'm Reading
A Holy Ambition by John Piper (click on the link for a free pdf download)
"There will always be people who argue that the doctrine of election and predestination makes missions pointless. But they are always wrong. It does not make missions pointless; it makes missions possible"

"There must be genuine, devastating brokenness before leaping for joy at the cross. The cross first says, 'It is because of you that I am here.' That's what it says, meaning, 'Your sin is so horrible it requires the death of the Son of God for God to be vindicated in the saving of your soul'" 

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
"Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way" What a way to start a book!

"You do your part. God is merciful, pray to God, sir, pray to God" 

"Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me" John 15:4 

"These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full" John 15:11

the Psalms
"The law of the Lord is perfect, 
reviving the soul; 
the testimony of the Lord is sure, 
making wise the simple; 
the precepts of the Lord are right, 
rejoicing the heart; 
the commandment of the Lord is pure, 
enlightening the eyes; 
the fear of the Lord is clean, 
enduring forever; 
the rules of the Lord are true, 
and righteous altogether. 
More to be desired are they than gold, 
even much fine gold; 
sweeter also than honey
and drippings of the honeycomb. 
Moreover, by them is your servant warned; 
in keeping them there is great reward." Psalm 19:7-11

What I'm Singing
Painting Pictures of Egypt (Sara Groves)
"Because the places that used to fit me cannot hold the things I've learned" 

How Deep The Father's Love For Us (Bethany Dillon's version isn't on youtube, but that's the one on my iPod)
"Why should I gain from His reward? I cannot give an answer. But this I know with all my heart: His wounds have paid my ransom"

Before the Throne (Sovereign Grace arrangement)
"Because the sinless Savior died, my sinful soul is counted free. For God the just is satisfied to look on Him and pardon me" 

What I'm Playing (Guitar)
Love Came Down (Kari Jobe style)
"Staying desperate for You God, staying humbled at Your feet. I will lift these hands and praise, I will believe. I remind myself of all that You've done. And the life I have because of Your Son. Love came down rescued me, love came down and set me free. I am Yours, I am forever Yours

What Joy (Generation Church)
"What joy, what joy for those whose hope is in the name of the Lord. What peace, what peace for those whose confidence is Him alone" 

Jesus Paid It All (Kristian Stanfill edition)
"O praise the One who paid my debt and raised this life up from the dead" 

What I'm Cooking 
We're having a bunch of college students from church over this weekend, and I'm excited about the menu:
Some sort of herb/cheese bread
Blueberry Corn Salad
Chicken on the grill
Lemon cheesecake 

I also made dinner and dessert last night
Bacon, onion, basil and garden tomato quiche
Chocolate cake with peanut butter cream frosting 

What I'm Writing 
Blog posts: this one, one for a puregeneration on rejoicing in marriage as a single, and two for the 127 project: a reflection on the perversion of biblical truth in 50 Shades, and editing the testimony of a friend ;) 

Letters: to Xadi, and to a newly deployed peace corps friend in Namibia

Quick messages: Liztowne on her bike trip to France, texts to Betsy about our most random life thoughts, and Kate because she has an awesome name ;) 

And 3 Random Things 
Men's gymnastics starts tomorrow, and women's on Sunday! Ryan Hall will be running the marathon next weekend. He stopped having a coach in favor of allowing God to dictate his training schedule. Pray for him if you think of it. 

The older girls I coach and I were have been enjoying that old Dixie Chicks song "If I Fall" . That's how I feel when I spot them sometimes - if they fall, I'm going down with them. 

I have hardly been inside at all today. The weather is spectacular. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Awesome Day

Really quick...a million little things I'm thankful for in between these, but I did have a splendid day.

- Preschool gymnastics. One of the girls was being shy, but by the end she said, "Hey! I like you now, and proceeded to talk my ear off about absolutely everything as we walked out of class and the building"

- New journal, started with Psalm 16:8 "I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved"

- Listening to Carolyn tell me, in explicit detail, everything that happened at the 2 hours of VBS tonight.

- A new friend of mine met Shawn Johnson last week, and he mailed me an autographed copy of her autobiography! I'd already read the online edition, but having the hard copy with her signature is way too cool! And my friend Kate is sneaky too, for getting him my address. Great surprise!

- A number of lovely bike rides to and from work, morning and evening.

- A letter from my frolof speaking prayer partner, Xadi

- Nathaniel. He asked me, "so what's your first meal going to be when you start that cooking show, 'cooking with Kate'?" I said, "Well, what do you think it should be?" Nathaniel: "Your mac and cheese, the bacon mac and cheese. That stuff is awesome"

I don't have a real recipe for it because I made it up, but it takes about 15 minutes altogether, and is so simple. I've never measured anything out; just use your judgment about proportions.

- Noodles (you can use macaroni shells or egg noodle spirals. or whatever you'd like)

- Butter: I don't use more than 2-3 tablespoons

- Milk: maybe a 1/3  cup or so, depending how many noodles/people eating. For 6 of us, I think it was probably around a 1/3 cup.

- Chopped green onions

- Crispy bacon, cut into tiny bits. I used 5 strips.

- Cheese, and lots of it. I used a mix of cheddar and mozzarella.

- Pepper to taste

Boil water, cook noodles around 8 or 9 minutes or whatever the package says, stirring occasionally. While that's happening, fry up the bacon and chop onions. Throw the noodles into a colander over the sink, put back in pot. Add milk, butter, and cheese and stir well. Cut bacon into the mix, add onions, stir well, pepper as you'd like and serve. Kids and grown ups will both enjoy this twist on the traditional dish.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Sacred Moments

Victoria may enjoy this one ;)

I firmly believe that it is important to preserve the sacred in our lives. We have built ourselves a society in which whoever does the most, the most quickly "wins". Sadly, Christians are not exempt from this. We read through our Bibles at lightning speed, present laundry lists of prayer, and never stop to just think on who God is.

As an avid journaler, I finish a journal every few months. Tonight was the end of a journal. I plan for this. I don't just end mid-sentence, and then spill over into a new journal. I have a pattern for this. Today, I did my regular journaling during my devotions and throughout the day, and then after work I came home, took a shower, made some tea, and had a quiet time before the Lord. I took time to read through each entry; the verses I'd read, my thoughts, my prayers, the comments on my life and those around me. I looked at the dates and enjoyed each day as a special moment in this chapter of my life.

And then, I read a psalm. Now, this is an amazing testament to God's sovereignty: a few days ago, I started reading a psalm or two (or three!) a night before bed. Tonight, I had Psalm 16.  I have a strangely selective memory, and I can remember specific chapters that have had a profound impact in my Christian walk. Whenever I know I'll be reading one of those, I do something to make it special. Again, preserving the sacred precious moments. Psalm 16 is one such chapter. So tonight was an extra special night.

I meditated quietly over Psalm 16, taking a few new verses to heart in a very special way, and enjoying my evening tea with my Savior. I finished the last page with those verses, and a prayer of thanksgiving, for I indeed have a beautiful inheritance in Christ.

The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;
    you hold my lot.
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
    indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. Psalm 16:5-6

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Song of the Lamb

I spent 6 hours at church yesterday, doing Sunday school, worship, and then set up for vacation Bible school, and I can't even begin to tell you how much I enjoyed it all. Sunday school was jam-packed, and we did a little precursor to VBS, and then came an incredible service about the Lord's righteousness, judgment and vengeance. This was especially poignant this week, and our pastor related it to the shooting in Colorado. I'm going to share what he said, just because it's a bit different than anything else I'd heard so far, "God is perfectly just to allow that to happen. He could have stopped it, but He allowed it. There is a purpose. We all deserve death; we all deserved to be in that movie theater; each breath we take is only by His grace". He went on to say that we don't know what the eternal effects may be or why God allowed it to happen. But we do know that He is entirely just and sovereign over all.

Remember how I was all over Revelation 15:4 this week? Well we were in that chapter this week at church, as well as the first half of 16, as part of the longest sermon series ever on eschatology. In any event, we sang The Song of the Lamb (song) and it was such a powerful moment of worship (lyrics). I'm starting to see how different elements are coming together to create a deeper experience of the presence of God: corporate worship, personal Bible study, fellowship, studying theology, prayer, service. Each one gives me more perspective into another, all teaching me so much more about the Lord.

In any event, after the service, one of the men in the choir came up to me and said, "One of my favorite parts about being up there for choir is that I can see you while you worship (Beloit College has pretty well claimed the first two rows, dead center). I just love to watch you worship; it's an inspiration" The better you know God, the better the worship will be. It's just a fact. I was so moved because everything I'd been learning about God's character was so present in my heart and in the songs and in the body.

And setting up VBS was a time so full of laughter. I was paired up with one of the men from the church to hang streamers - so he could be messing around on our "ladder" (aka wobbly chair) while I provided the decorative insight. He was hysterical, questioning why one of the other fathers got to color while he was sweating from climbing all over the place. With streamers done, it was time for balloons. The kids had actually done a great job getting them blown up, albeit not exactly in an efficient matter. We tied them to strings, and then my pastor's wife and I set to hanging them from the ceiling in the hallway. This time, I was on ladder duty, though I did have a real ladder. I even got to pull in one of the young kids to help, Jake,  age 3, who desperately wanted to be useful. He was my balloon holder for me. And then, when there was some cutting to be done, I got to sit with one of my favorite sassy old women and cut shapes out until all was more or less complete. There were many pictures taken of these shenanigans, and if I ever find more than just these few, I will let you know.

Later that day, when Kathryn and I were cooking (summer corn chowder), Pastor Tim said he loved how happy we were and how much fun we were having in the kitchen, and decided photographic evidence needed to be taken.

But really, I love her. And yes, that is a piece of yarn in my hair. I didn't have a hair tie and I was hot. 

These are the incredible people I get to teach Sunday school with. Jason and Erin run children's ministry, including everything for VBS. They have 3 girls running around and just found out that the baby Erin's pregnant with is a little boy! So much excitement. You can also see the aforementioned streamers and balloons in this shot. 

This is Kathryn and I. I'm sautéing, and she's mixing biscuits. Between us is a pile of corn taken off of the cob. 

Tim was trying to be artsy and get just the right shot. This is how we originally were when he wanted to take a picture. The one above is a posed pic, which we decided was just not as good.

Jason was actually over during the cooking process, as his girls were playing at the house, and his bright idea was to have an internet cooking show with all of our dialogue. "Cooking with Kate" because we're both Katherine (Kathryn). Maybe some day...

Friday, July 20, 2012

Fifty Shades of Hatred

If you don't get this reference, don't read this post. I am so sick of having to read about and talk about this ridiculous "book". I hate this book, and hate is a strong strong word, but I believe 50 Shades deserves it.

One of my fellow coaches came into work last week and said:

"Hey, have you heard of that one book - 50 Shades of Grey - I'm sure you have"

Me: "Yeah, I've heard of it alright?"

Her: "What have you heard?"

Me: "It's porn. It is straight up porn and it's a sad excuse for literature"

Her: "What?! I started reading it and there's a million grammatical errors. It's driving me crazy. And this author needs a thesaurus and the girl is so annoying"

Me: "Well it started out as Twilight fan fiction"

Her: "That explains a lot, actually"

A number of days go by, and I ask,

"Hey, how's 50 Shades going?"

Her: "It's still bad, and now also disturbing."

Me: "You should seriously stop reading it"

Her: "I can't"

Me: "You already admitted that the characters are lame, the author can't write, and now you're disturbed. What motivation do you have to continue?"

She repeatedly avoiding giving any answer.

Some people try to argue this book (series. yes, there are THREE of these) is good for married couples' sex lives because it gets them aroused. News flash: Anything or anyone other than your spouse that excites you is inappropriate, impure, and defiled. Purity does not end when you get married, it is a daily battle to keep the marriage bed undefiled.

I hate this book because it is feeding lie upon lie about what sex, marriage, and sexuality were designed to look like. I hate the way people are falling for every single one of these lies. I hate that we have to listen to people talk about how awesome this book is. I hate that it's captured so much of our attention. If I didn't have more productive things to do with my time, I'd map out 50 ways in which I hate this book.

Also, they're making a movie out of it. I've read all the reviews on the book, and I really want to know how they're going to be able to give it anything under an X rating.


When you start being facebook friends with a bunch of theology dudes, quotes like these pop up all over the place

"Why do bad things happen to good people? That only happened once, and He volunteered" 
RC Sproul 

Knowing God and Living Water - John 7

I had this done yesterday, and it was better, but of course blogger quit and didn't even make me aware of the fact. Ugh.

The Holy Spirit is our source of living water:

Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. John 7:38-39

Without Christ we have no access to the Holy Spirt. But we also have no true access to God. The Law shows us all of our failings and will never lead us to know God: 

So Jesus proclaimed, as he taught in the temple, “You know me, and you know where I come from. But I have not come of my own accord. He who sent me is true, and him you do not know. I know him, for I come from him, and he sent me.” John 7:28-29 

We literally cannot know God without Christ. 

Read Knowing God by JI Packer. It's a great book. 

I forgot the rest of what I said. Probably something about Revelation

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Spurgeon on Perseverance of the Saints

Awhile ago, I wrote on pastors de-converting into atheism. This passage from All of Grace provided some insight into that.

"I believe that this fear is often the father of the fact; and that some who have been afraid to trust Christ for all time, and for all eternity, have failed because they had a temporary faith, which never went far enough to save them. They set out trusting to Jesus in a measure, but looking to themselves for continuance and perseverance in the heavenward way; and so they set out faultily, and, as a natural consequence, turned back before long. If we trust to ourselves for our holding on we shall not hold on. Even though we rest in Jesus for a part of our salvation, we shall fail if we trust to self for anything. No chain is stronger than its weakest link: if Jesus be our hope for everything, except one thing, we shall utterly fail, because in that one point we shall come to nought. I have no doubt whatever that a mistake about the perseverance of the saints has prevented the perseverance of many who did run well. What did hinder them that they should not continue to run? They trusted to themselves for that running, and so they stopped short. Beware of mixing even a little of self with the mortar with which you build, or you will make it untempered mortar and the stones will not hold together. If you look to Christ for your beginnings, beware of looking to yourself for your endings. He is Alpha. See to it that you make Him Omega also"

Inappropriate Laughter

I forgot to share what was possibly the highlight of my night. Maybe it's not that funny, or maybe it's only funny in the context of knowing all about hiding in the bathroom when you don't want to do something...of course that was never me, just my friends ;)

I was filling in for a beginner gymnastics class and we let the girls, ages 5-7 have a drink break. 2 of the 5 girls came back right away. When the other 3 still hadn't returned a few minutes later, my co-coach went to find them. She came in the bathroom and found them hiding as they said, "ooooooh we're gonna be in trouble"

When she relayed that story, I couldn't help but laugh. It shouldn't be funny, but it definitely was.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Quick Hits

I am too tired for a long drawn out post, but my Bible today was so fascinating!

First off, I am almost done with the French read-through; I'm doing 2 chapters of Hosea (Osee) and 4 of Revelation (Apocalypse) a day. Check out this gem in Revelation 15:4

Who will not fear, O Lord,
    and glorify your name?
For you alone are holy.
    All nations will come
    and worship you,
for your righteous acts have been revealed.

In the French translation, it says "because your justice has been manifested" instead of "for your righteous acts have been revealed". In any event, justice, righteous acts; all the nations are praising God for being who He is. He is just, He is righteous, and it also says He is holy. That is some strength, not some weak fruitcakey God who likes to fill us up with nice sounding fluff. The Lord is praised for all He is, not just the parts that sound fun to us. 

Secondly, John. Some of you know I have a minor obsession with John 6. So I'll try to move it along here. The other day, I talked about living water. Now it's eternal bread:

For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. John 6:33-35

Also, I've written before about all the followers who turn out to be no more than fans (Not A Fan reference, kids), but I think I forgot to mention why they turned away, the straw that broke the camel's back: 

Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. John 6:54-56

And finally, on election. For this I will give you the amplified: 

And He said, This is why I told you that no one can come to Me unless it is granted him [unless he is enabled to do so] by the Father. John 6:65

Jesus gets that His teachings sound offensive and downright insane. And that's why not al will believe. In fact, that's why no one may believe without being given the ability to do so.  

Also, I raced a thunderstorm home and I won. Then I got to watch it happen. If you ever wondered if pastors can look at you and just know things, they can. I got home and within 2 minutes my pastor looked at me and knew I wanted to be outside watching the storm. "You've just got that storm lover look" 

Gut Reaction

When the kids ask for help with math, my instincts tell me to answer their question with another question, like

When did your dad say he'd be home again?

Do you really have to do math right now?

What about memorizing the psalm? I could help you.

Have you done French lately?

How's piano going?

Want to bake some cookies?

But Miss Kate, I have to do my worksheet. French and music are in the afternoon. 

It turns out, I'm not that bad at math.

I think online calculus just scarred me for life, the whole month and a half I managed to survive.

That, and knowing a handful of physics majors. Shudder.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Speaking To The Human Condition: Jesus

Jesus offers an extended rebuke to the Jews who get all legalistic on Him after He heals on the Sabbath and then equates calls Himself God's Son. How scandalous! 

In doing so, He offers such a raw account of the human condition that I got chills as I read it. It was as if the Lord were seeing straight through me; I was Eve in the garden attempting to hide my nakedness in embarrassment. 

You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. I do not receive glory from people. But I know that you do not have the love of God within you. John 5:39-42

That's the translation I usually read (ESV). But I was in the Amplified tonight. Check it out: 

You search and investigate and pore over the Scriptures diligently, because you suppose and trust that you have eternal life through them. And still you are not willing [but refuse] to come to Me, so that you might have life. And these [very Scriptures] testify about Me! I receive not glory from men [I crave no human honor, I look for no mortal fame], But I know you and recognize and understand that you have not the love of God in you.

In other words, you're reading all about Me, and think you find life in the words of the Bible and the Law, but you won't come to Me, so that you may truly have life. (You assume the Gospel). And you're already reading all about Me! I'm not looking for glory and fame on this earth. I know everything about you and who you are and what you've done and I know that you don't have the love of God in you. 


I watched a sermon today on how one of our biggest problems is that we desire to be known and loved, but our greatest fear is that if someone truly knows us, they won't love us anymore. So we put on masks and hide who we really are, but all the time we're aching to take off the mask and see if the person who loves the fakes us would love the real us if they knew us. But we're too afraid so we live in this vicious cycle. 

So to know that our Lord knows us is a little bit terrifying. Doesn't that make you tremble. The holy, righteous, spotless Savior and Son of God knows us. I can't even imagine how dirty I must look to Him. The word that comes to mind is honestly "gross". And He knows that without Him, and the Holy Spirit, I don't have the love of God in me. There's no faking it before the Lord. You can put up a mask, you can read your Bible, you can go to church, you can do anything you want, but Jesus is going to see right through you. 

I remember a quote a friend shared with me, "Your best friend is the person who knows everything about you, and loves you anyway"  

Which is why it's so clear that Jesus knew exactly what He was dying for. We know that He became sin, our sin, so that we might be transferred into the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21). But because we are so intimately known by our Savior, we may approach Him with awe; He knew everything about us and still died for us. He didn't die for us because we were almost good enough and just needed a little boost over into that righteous category. No, Christ died for utter failures. He came that we might finally know true love. He loved us first, and that's why we are even able to love Him. 

Amazing grace 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Living Water - John 4

(Is anyone else proud of me for being faithful to only reading one chapter of John a day? I have problems going slowly...)

John 4

I'm actually going to start with what I journaled at the end,

"The story of the woman at the well is so much richer than I remember. It actually made me think of (Lazarus and) the rich man, who from Hades asks for a drop of water to cool his anguish (Luke 16:24). It makes me wonder if he was thirsty for actual water because he was hot, or if he was after Jesus, the living water, and eternally separated from Him. Also, this ties in great with what I've been learning in Psalm 63

 A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.”  verses 7-12

Just try and imagine this for a moment with me. We can modernize this, right? You're at the drinking fountain (in Wisconsin we say bubbler) filling up your water bottle. Then another guy comes up and asks you for a drink. But instead of giving him a drink, you ask, why are you asking me for a drink? We don't even go to the same school. You're on the other team. Then this guy says, "If you knew who I was, you'd be asking me for a drink" This guy has no vessel in which to carry water. Who does he think he is?

Not a perfect example, but I'm trying to illustrate how striking this must have been. Living water.

Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”  verses 13-15

Do you see why I was reminded of Psalm 63? I love that imagery of thirsting for God. Which is also why I was drawn to think about that rich man. He is in eternal torment, and begging for just a touch of water. But a small drop would not satisfy him; neither would it work once, but he would be thirsty just a moment later. His will never and can never be quenched. So this begs the question, why would he ask for just one drop of water? Is he so desperate that he thinks that one drop would help? I've been in intense heat before, and let me tell you, a drop of water does nothing. Often even a glass if futile. I can't even imagine what the rich man had to have been feeling.

And to just take this another step further, let's look at this picture of the new heavens and the new earth from Revelation

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” 21:1-8 

What a contrast here. The one who conquers will be a son. He will not thirst, and he will not pay for the heritage that he is given. But to the rest, they will be with fire and sulfur. Ouch. 

As I read about this woman at the well, and how Jesus knows her whole history and everywhere she's been and everything she's done, she is amazed that Jesus would offer her His living water, His very self. She is aware that she has not earned it, but instead joyously accepts it, and proclaims this news to those around her. And at first, people believe because of her testimony. Then it changes: 

Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman's testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.”  So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.” 
John 4:39-42

Testimony is important, but true belief has to come from being awakened to the truth of God by the Holy Spirit. Like the woman at the well, we can't think to ask for living water without knowing it exists. If we were unaware of our need for a Savior, why would we look for it? 

Friday, July 13, 2012

This Joy of Mine is Now Complete

I have often marveled at John the Baptist and how full his identity was in Christ. I have always loved these two verses:

And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” John 1:19-20 

What if someone asked you that, "Who are you?" Would you say, "I'm not Jesus"? John knew his place was not to make a name for himself, but to point others to the name above all names, Jesus the Christ. 

But what got me today was actually in chapter 3. In the chapter with the best-known verse, I saw something I'd never noticed before. I was familiar with the "He must increase and I must decrease" bit but had missed so much more. 

The deal is that Jesus and John are both baptizing and some of John's disciples are worried about Jesus destroying John's street cred, so they confront him about it. 

And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness—look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him.” John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’ The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. He must increase, but I must decrease.”

He who comes from above is above all. He who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks in an earthly way. He who comes from heaven is above all. He bears witness to what he has seen and heard, yet no one receives his testimony. Whoever receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true. For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. John 3:26-36

I absolutely love the illustration of the friend of the bridegroom. My best friend from high school asked me to be the maid of honor at her wedding. The wedding hasn't even happened yet, but I am so very happy for them. I am not the bride, but I rejoice because of how happy and excited the bride is. John's joy is now complete because he is sending forth the news of the bridegroom to the bride. He is pointing the way. In the second block, it almost seems like it could be Jesus saying those things. But it's not. It is John's utmost pleasure to share the good news of Christ's coming and the gift of eternal life promised to all who believe in Him. He has now concern over making his own name known; his joy and identity are wrapped up in who Jesus is. 

"Our greatest satisfaction is making His name famous/So if we're never named among the greatest/They don't critically acclaim us/Ain't nothing to be ashamed of/We gave it up for the Savior" Lecrae, Chase That (Ambition) 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Wings Like Eagles

I am my pastor's daughter's Sunday school teacher, French lesson giver, verse memorization practice partner, and gymnastics coach so it's safe to say I know this little girl pretty well. She just moved up a level at gymnastics, and tonight was her first night with the big girls. Yikes.

She was terrified of jumping from the low bar to the high bar. I mean, whimpering noises and death grip on my hand kind of terrified. Instead of making her do it when she was too afraid, I pulled her aside for a moment. I took out my phone, where I have the YouVersion Bible app, and showed her Isaiah 40:31

but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
    they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
    they shall walk and not faint

I told her that once she stood up on the bar, she just had to remember "wings like eagles" as a key phrase. She could fly from bar to bar, she just had to show some trust. 

The little girl was no longer terrified, but instead jumped right off the bar all by herself. She touched the high bar but couldn't grasp it. Our time for bars was up. 

As we left the gym, she said, tomorrow at open gym, I'm going to work on that jumping to the high bar. 

I'm actually going share a Taylor Swift quote here, because I just love it: 

"Being fearless isn't about being 100% not afraid. It's about be afraid, and jumping anyway" 

When you trust God, you don't have to know what's next. You just have to trust that He does. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


Just some of my favorites from the first few chapters of Spurgeon's All of Grace

"He makes those just who are unjust, forgives those who deserve to be punished, and favors those who deserve no favor. You thought, did you not, that salvation was for the good? That God's grace was for the pure and holy, who are free from sin? It has fallen into your mind, that, if you were excellent, then God would reward you; and you have thought that because you are not worthy, therefore there could be no way of your enjoying His favor. You must be somewhat surprised to read a text like this: 'Him that justifieth the ungodly'. I do not wonder that you are surprised; for with all my familiarity with the great grace of God, I never cease to wonder at it"

"To make him just who is just is no work for God - that were a labor for a fool; but to make him just who is unjust - that is work for infinite love and mercy. To justify the ungodly - this is a miracle worthy of a God. And for certain it is so"

"The heart is so hard, the will is so obstinate, the passions are so furious, the thoughts are so volatile, the imagination is so ungovernable, the desires are so wild, that the man feels that he has a den of wild beasts within him, which will eat him up sooner than be ruled by him...Dear friend, salvation would be a sadly incomplete affair if it did not deal with this part of our ruined estate. We want to be purified as well as pardoned. Justification without sanctification would not be salvation at all"

"So that faith, which is coming to Christ, is the result of divine drawing. Grace is the first and last moving cause of salvation; and faith, essential as it is, is only an important part of the machinery which grace employs. We are saved 'through faith' but salvation is 'by grace'"

"Faith is not a bling thing; for faith begins with knowledge. It is not a speculative thing; for faith believes facts of which it is sure. It is not an unpractical, dreamy thing; for faith trusts, and stakes its destiny upon the truth of revelation"

"Thousands of God's people have no more faith than this; they know enough to cling to Jesus with all their heart and soul, and this suffices for present peace and eternal safety. Jesus Christ is to them a Saviour strong and mighty, a Rock immovable and immutable; they cling to him for dear life, and this clinging saves them. Reader, cannot you cling? Do so at once"

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Shredded Wheat

I've been in the Sunday school room this summer, mostly assisting. Last week we started the Wolof song "Mangi yekkati sa tur", which I (obviously) led, but other than that it's been the church school director. This week, she asked if I would mind taking the lead. It's the summer of psalms, so she said I could work out of any psalm I felt led to.

I wasn't sure what I was going to do, until this week was so hot. There were temperatures in the 100s, which is rare for Wisconsinites. I'd go out to water the garden and see everything completely dried out. Our grass is like straw. In summary, it's dry.

I immediately thought of this verse:

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
    my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
    as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

And I knew we'd be doing Psalm 63. 

After we'd read through it, and discussed it, I said I had a little activity. Shredded Wheat is not by any stretch a kids' cereal. It's dry and wheaty and way too healthy. I set some in front of all the kids and they cracked it and ate some and then discovered that they were very thirsty - they were all dried up! Before I put them out of their misery and allowed them to go to the water fountain, I asked them to pause and think about how they felt. This was true thirst; they really wanted that water. And in the same way, that's how we need to long for God. We talked about how dry it is outside and how desperate the ground is for water, and that's exactly how desperate we are for Christ, how much we need Him. 

After they had their drink, we looked again at verse 5: 

My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
    and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips

We had a chance to talk about what it means to be satisfied, and to be complete in the presence of God. If water can satisfy our physical thirst, how much more can the living God satisfy our spiritual thirst?