Saturday, March 29, 2014

Soundtrack Update

I just made a new cd for my car to reflect what I've been listening to and feeling lately. Here's the list:

  1. All I Have is Christ - Sovereign Grace Music 
  2. All My Tears - Sojourn 
  3. Cornerstone - Hillsong 
  4. You Are Able - Christy Nockels 
  5. Death in His Grace - Sojourn 
  6. Keeper of My Heart - Kari Jobe 
  7. Great Are You - Downhere 
  8. Worship the Lamb - Jessa Anderson 
  9. Hallelujah - Youtube
  10. You Are - Colton Dixon 
  11. Shores - Bryan and Katie Torwalt
  12. Should've Been Me - Citizen Way 
  13. Jesus, Firm Foundation - Mike Donehey & Co. 
  14. King of All the Earth - Bryan and Katie Torwalt
  15. Lamp to My Feet - Adam's Road 
  16. Savior's Here - Kari Jobe 
  17. Offering - Jessa Anderson 

Friday, March 28, 2014

The First Marriage

In the beginning God created…

A story so familiar it’s laughable. It’s made its way beyond the confines of Christian and Jewish homes, and into pop culture references. But how often do we read it, and I mean really read it? My pastor challenges us to “read the Bible until it reads you”.

Try it.

This week, I was particularly struck by the beauty of the first marriage, as well its pain –

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27

The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die. Genesis 2:15-17

God gave man (Adam) the commandment he was to follow, before He gave him a wife (Eve).

The man gave names to all livestock and the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. 2:20

Now different bends have used and abused this passage. On one of the spectrum, we have people claiming that man needed a helper because he couldn’t do his job on his own so God had to send a woman to get things done right. On the other end, we have people saying that woman is nothing but an afterthought. But the beauty is that neither side is right. Keep reading.

So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept he took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man”. 2:21-23

See? Woman was taken from Man’s side, and brought to his side. And he claims her as his own. And yes, she helps him, as his partner, as one who is his.

Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. 2:24-25

Honor! Service! Freedom! This is biblical marriage. This is beauty.

But it didn’t last long –

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden?’” 3:1

Ah. Look how the serpent twists the words that God said. I don’t have an answer to this question, but I wonder why he went after Eve rather than Adam. Adam couldn’t have been that much more difficult to manipulate than Eve, because he willingly ate the fruit his wife gave him, though he knew it was wrong.

And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die’” 3:2-3

Remember when God told Adam not to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? It was before Eve was created. So how did she know this? Simple, her husband told her, for her protection. What a thought – that Eve, who came second, learned from her husband, to follow God and obey His ordinances. Have you really thought about how much relationship advice is really in these chapters? Isn’t it amazing?

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. 3:6-7

Woman, who was meant to follow, took the lead. Man tags along when he was meant to lead and protect. So much is revealed, right from the beginning. And how often do we miss it? Eve’s sin, like all sin, is relational. It fractured the relationship she had with God, who would come looking for her and she would wide, but it also took away the freedom she had with her husband. It brought shame where there was meant to be none. What a sadness there is in that. And it continues –

He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me the fruit of the tree, and I ate” 3:11-12

Adam blames God and he blames Eve. But He claims no fault of his own, though he knew the commandments, though he was given a wife to teach and to protect.

Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate” 3:13

Woman takes no blame for herself. And so a relationship that began in love and freedom continues in doubt and fear and shame. But of course, God still loves His children, and He covers them and blesses them with children, many children, and then of course, the Child.

God made it good. We broke it. He makes a promise. He fixes it. He will fix it completely.

It’s the gospel.

And I’m also pretty sure it’s my favorite Bible passage on marriage. No one’s going to be reading 1 Corinthians 13 at my wedding. Genesis 2 and 3 please :)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Live at the Majestic

Kari Jobe's latest album is a live one, and it's amazing, as per usual! What I love about it is this:

Kari Jobe - Majestic Album Trailer (Live)

She says that she makes music because she wants us to fall in love with Jesus because He is a good God who loves us.

My first favorite song on the initial listen is "Keeper of my Heart", which does not yet have a shareable video

I lift my eyes, I lift my eyes up 
To the Maker of the heavens
The keeper of my heart

I lift my hands, I lift my hands up
Standing in Your presence 
You are never far 

PS I legit skipped/danced my way home from work today listening to this song.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

But God, They're a Bunch of Sinners!

I love Jonah. I've blogged about it before, but I'm going to do it again because it's great. You should read the whole book (all 4 chapters, I know it's so hard), but here's the gist:

Jonah was a pretty righteous man and the Bible even says that he feared God. So God tells Jonah to go to Nineveh and tell all of the people there how great and awesome He is.


Now, one evidence of faith is the desire to point away from ourselves and to the Lord. Paul does it. Timothy, Mary, Titus, Peter, John, Rahab, Esther, David...they all do it. Not to mention that little thing called the great commission in which Jesus tells His disciples to go tell everyone about Him.

So if Jonah feared God as much as he said he did, of course he was like, "Yup. You got, it God"

But that's not how the story goes.

Jonah says, "No way! I'm not doing that! Those are bad people!" So he goes and he hides from God. Except you can't really do that. Because God knew Jonah was on a boat running away. So he sent a crazy storm and Jonah realized that it was God and told the rest of the crew to throw him off the boat. Jonah could have died. But because God is rich in mercy, He sent a whale (big fish, whatever)  to swallow Jonah. Jonah spends time in the whale's belly and then the whale pukes him up.

Now, when God asks Jonah to go to Nineveh, he says, "Alright, I'll go"

And you know what happens?

Ninneveh meets the Lord! They turn to Him and the believe that Jonah is telling the truth and God is who He says He is.

But Jonah STILL isn't happy. He's super pouty about it. Jonah complains because God saved the wicked sinners, forgetting that he himself is no different. He says that he'd rather die than live because God is the God who saves sinners. How proud and arrogant and self-righteous could a person get?!

So God uses a tree to teach Jonah about grace:

 Jonah went out of the city and sat to the east of the city and made a booth for himself there. He sat under it in the shade, till he should see what would become of the city. Now the LordGod appointed a plant and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be a shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort. So Jonah was exceedingly glad because of the plant. But when dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the plant, so that it withered. When the sun rose, God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint. And he asked that he might die and said, “It is better for me to die than to live.” But God said to Jonah, “Do you do well to be angry for the plant?” And he said, “Yes, I do well to be angry, angry enough to die.” 10 And the Lord said, “You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. 11 And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?” Jonah 4:5-11

Do you see that?! God tells Jonah that he did NOTHING to deserve what he has and yet he has it anyone. So God can be kind to Nineveh AND He can be kind to Jonah because neither of them are good but HE is.

And how Ephesians 2/Titus 3 can you get?

And you were DEAD in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked...BUT GOD, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us...made us ALIVE together in Christ Jesus 

For we were once ourselves foolish, disobedient, led astray...BUT when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, HE SAVED US, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy 

Jonah forgot that his life is all of grace. God chose him, not because of what he did, but because of what He wanted to accomplish in him.

I forget that. I forget that I was DEAD and was made ALIVE by Christ and Christ alone and that everything I have, everything I am, is grace, all grace.

I think sometimes as Christians, or even as a culture, we compartmentalize the Old Testament and the New Testament. We say, OT is about judgment and law; NT is about Jesus and grace. But God reveals His whole self throughout the whole word. If we forget that, we miss so much of who He is. And look at the grace He revealed to Jonah and to the entire city of Nineveh. It is the same, unchangeable God.

Monday, March 17, 2014


Yesterday I found the GREATEST PLACE EVER.

Its name is Couth Buzzard

It is 0.8 miles down the street from my church's new building

And guess what it is?

So guess?

It's a...




And for $6, you can get a small coffee in a cute mug, a vegan cookie and a lightly worn copy of The Confessions of St. Augustine!

And if you take an inordinate amount of time deciding what you want, and you tell the man behind the counter, you're thinking, he will say, "Great! Thinking is encouraged in a bookstore!"


Further, I haven't read Confessions since my freshman year of college and it is also amazing!

In case you didn't know, here's the premise: Augustine was a man who came to Christ at age 32. This book is a repentance of his sins, and his recollection goes far and deep. He includes things like stealing pears as a child and lusts in his teens.

"You are unchangeable and yet you change all things...You are ever active, yet always at rest...You welcome all who come to you, though you never lost release our debts, but you lose nothing thereby" 

"Why do I mean so much to you, that you should command me to love you?"

"You smite that you may heal, and you kill us so that we may not die away from you" 

"Nothing deserves to be despised more than vice, yet I gave in more and more to vice simply in order not to be despised" 

"Let me still confess my sins to you for your honor and glory" 

This last one was really striking to me - repentance is not primarily for us, it's for God! It's for His name to be honored and lifted high, after we have profaned it!

Now unless you also live in Seattle, I doubt you can find as cool of a place as I did to pick up a copy, but you could try.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Post Flu Life

For fun, and for tips on how to avoid foods that will disgust you as you recover from the flu, I've compiled several lists. 

Foods that the very thought of made me nauseous at some point today:
- Toast (too grainy) 
- Couscous (another grain)
- Smoothie (too cold) 
- Banana (too mushy) 
- Spoonful of hummus (just ew) 
- Oatmeal (both grainy and mushy)
- Strawberries (too hard)
- Blueberries (mushy and weird) 
- No Chicken Noodle Soup (too smelly) 
- Broccoli (too leafy)
- Carrots (too dense) 
- Peanut butter (I just can't) 

Foods that seemed ok at first but later made my stomach hurt:
- banana/blueberry/strawberry bowl with granola and vanilla almond milk (note: I had this for breakfast and sounded like a good idea at the time. It was only later that all of these foods repulsed me) 
- chai tea (not latte, just the black tea bags) 
- via with chocolate almond milk

Foods I actually consumed with success: 
- orange juice 
- small quantities of chex mix at work

I am probably one of few people actually happy that my orange juice has 110 calories per serving. I NEED THAT yo. 

So. As you can see, it's been kind of a struggle 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Someone You Love

Recently, I read the Jesus Storybook Bible from start to finish in one sitting, something I do periodically, and with great joy. I've been thinking about one of the quotes from its adaptation of the Sermon on the Mount -

Pray in your normal voice, just like when you're talking to someone you love very much

Would you talk to Jesus the same way if He were actually present with you? 

Did you know that He calls you His friend? (John 15:15)

Maybe because I've been spending intentional, daily time praying for someone I do love very much, this has seemed so miraculous to me. My friend doesn't need to hear my piety or my religious words; she needs to hear that I love her and I love Jesus and Jesus loves her and is her advocate and is saving her right now. And thinking about how she would hear my prayers for her sets my heart in a softer place.

With people you love, your dearest friends and family, you don't need to prove yourself. You already know they love you and you love them and this frees you to be honest and humble and authentic. And in Christ, this is our relationship with God. We're not trying to impress Him because He already knows everything about us - and Jesus became all of our junk and died for it and lives for our intercession. So He already knows everything we are and everything we're not. And while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. If you think you can't be honest with God because then He wouldn't love you anymore, it's too late. He already does. And He loves you still. Doesn't that make you melt?

Some of my sweetest times in prayer don't sound like prayer at all - they sound like me talking to a friend. And that's the privilege we have in Christ. We acknowledge God's holiness in coming to Him in humility, and we acknowledge His reality in coming to Him with confidence, cashing in on His promise for more grace to those who ask for it.

When you know that God loves you, doesn't that change the way you talk to Him?

Catching Up

I caught a mysterious bout of sudden flu this week. In any event, it caused me to fall behind on Lenten readings.

Today, I read days 8,9 and 10.

On Luke 4:1-13, Voskamp writes, "Father, He was hungry and He ate. Of the bread of Your words. Let us too. He was lured with the glitter of this world, and He worshipped. You, and You alone. Let us too. He was dared with Scripture. But He knew all of Scripture. Let us too"

That last reference is most powerful to me. Here, Voskamp is talking about how Satan quotes Scripture to Jesus, telling Him that He could call down angel armies for His help. But Jesus quotes Scripture right back to him, proclaiming that you are not to test the Lord your God.

When I was miserable, and my eyes were wet with tears from all the vomiting and I was just laying there, my little kitty started licking those tears off my face. And because I know the Bible, I thought of God's promise to put Jesus on the throne and wipe every tear from every eye.

Knowing the Bible changes everything, even having the flu.

Monday, March 10, 2014

It Feels Like the First Time

So I recently got a new Bible. It's weird because it's so...clean and neat and not missing any pages.

Anyway, the Bible is completely coming alive to me. Even when I read the same passage four times in one week for Bible study, it feels new and fresh every time.

Ezekiel 16 has long been a favorite passage of mine, and today, I was riveted. I was talking out loud, saying, "Wow, that's so neat" My coworkers probably think I'm nuts...talking to a book.

Only THE BOOK. The book that breathes life. The book that is living and active. The word that was and is and will be.

Although I highly recommend you check out the chapter in its entirety, here is an overview:

When I passed by you again and saw you, behold, you were at the age for love, and I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your nakedness; I made my vow to you and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Lord God, and you became mine. Then I bathed you with water and washed off your blood from you and anointed you with oil. 

But you trusted in your beauty and played the whore because for your renown and lavished your whorings on any passerby; your beauty became his. 

And in all your abominations and your whorings you did not remember the days of youth, when you were naked and bare, wallowing in your blood. 

You played the whore also with the Assyrians, because you were not satisfied; yes, you played the whore with them, and still your were not satisfied. You multiplied your whoring also with the trading land of Chaldea, and even with this you were not satisfied. How sick is your heart

Adulterous wife, who receives strangers instead of her husband! Men give gifts to all prostitutes, but you gave your gifts to all your lovers, bribing them to come to you from every side with your whorings. 

I will make you stop playing the whore and you shall also give payment no more 

I will restore your own fortunes in your midst

I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall know that I am the Lord, that you may remember and be confounded, and never open your mouth again because of your shame, when I atone for you all that you have done, declares the Lord God. 

There are four million things happening in these verses. Read, dwell, and fall in love.

Friday, March 7, 2014

When God Answers Prayer

A lot of times people think they don't want to ask God for an answer to their problem, because they think they won't like the response. But that's wrong thinking.

If we talk to God because we love Him and trust Him and delight in His law and will and way, there's no chance we will be disappointed. We might even be amazed.

My friend and I were both starting to struggle with the circumstances of our relationship. We weren't sure where to go, and so we delved into prayer. Even though we did like each other, we submitted ourselves to the Lord and were prepared for whatever He might do.

The night before we were scheduled to talk on the phone about what to do, I prayed,

Lord, we are both uncertain and yet here we rest in the comfort of Your will. Thank You for leading us this far and for helping us point each other to Your glory. We love you, and we've come to like each other. Please show us the next step. Speak it to [him], and confirm it in my heart. If it's time to stop, please make it clear and give us both peace - guard are hearts in You. If there's a way to move forward, please show us how. For Your glory and our joy, amen.

As I prayed, I got the sense that it was going to be time to step back, and that my friend had some personal things to deal with before a relationship would be wise.

I awoke feeling like peace had just been shoveled over me. I felt like I was a little girl seeing God's glory for the first time. I WORSHIPED all morning. I saw Him in everything.

Just before he called, my friend Tina asked if I would join her daily prayer team; she's had some deep personal struggles and her pastors and counselor wanted her to gather a team of prayer warriors around her. I eagerly agreed, and I thought to myself, "Well if [he] is about to back things off, I'll have more time and energy to pour myself out for Tina"

After a brief phone call, I learned I was right. And instead of being sad, I just saw Jesus. I saw how God had prepared me for it. I wrote, "How thankful I am that the Lord is the lover of my soul! Lord, You are so amazing! I don't even have words to thank You for these last two months and how protected I feel by You. Thank You for being my vision" Jesus makes me soul sing! And loudly, too. I picked up the guitar and made a joyful noise with Enter His Gates, Furious, and What Joy.

I continued, "I just can't get over God's faithfulness. I asked Him to guard my heart and he TOTALLY did. Instead of feeling empty or incomplete, I feel whole and LOVED! And FREE. I was feeling stressed and burdened yesterday, but today it's like a weight has been lifted! Praise the Lord!"

I was an explosion of joy and happiness all day long. My mind has been blown my Christ's faithfulness all over again.

I also read,

For thus says the Lord: David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel, and the Levitical priests shall never lack a man in my presence to offer burnt offerings, and to make sacrifices forever. Jeremiah 33:17-18

Alright, so maybe this doesn't immediately strike you as relevant or amazing, but if you've been studying Hebrews for the last few months, and God has just shown you that Christ is on the throne, and 
ever faithful to make intercession for you, it's pretty freaking cool.

I have found a friend in Jesus
He's everything to me
He's the fairest of ten thousand to my soul
He's the lily of the valley
In Him alone I see
All I need to cleanse and make me fully whole
In sorrow He's my comfort
In trouble He's my stay
He tells me every care on Him to roll
He's the lily of the valley
The bright and morning star
He's the fairest of ten thousand to my soul.

March 4th Journal Entry

My order of posting has been kind of wonky because... of our internet...sure let's blame centurylink

Anyway -

Sometimes I like to ask myself why I love God. Why have faith? Why be the Christian girl when I could be anyone I wanted, do anything I wanted? And in the end, it's never anything I am or do, or even primarily who He is. I could be in love with His patience, kindness, grace, faithfulness, holiness, beauty, etc, but the highest reason why I love the Lord is because He loved me. Loves me. He loved me in my death and He loves me in my wanderings. He never gives up; rather, He pursues me. He knows the deepest longings of my heart, and He knows everything I've ever said, though and done. And He loves me. Jesus doesn't love me because I'm perfect. He loves me because He's perfect. And perfect love casts out every fear, and how often is it fear that leads us to sin?

We fear rejection, so we idolize praise and affirmation

We fear criticism, so we try harder

We fear loneliness, so we turn to that which does not satisfy

But Christ's love removes every fear. He loves me - whom then shall I fear?

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Ahh, A Tasty Feast!

Today was a day. I felt like a little girl looking into God's glory for the first time. I literally could not keep from singing. My heart overflowed with praise and gratitude and joy and oh how in love I felt with Jesus. 


My four year old friend Sheenagh (I don't know why there's a G there. I blame Seattle, where Aage is pronounced O-Ah) took just a quick drink from the bubbler water fountain and said, "ahh, a tasty feast!" 

And do you know what I thought of? John 4, 7. Revelation 22. Isaiah 55. 

Living water. 

Drink deeply from the fountain of Christ Jesus, and emerge satisfied. 

Four year olds, I tell ya. Pointing me to Jesus all week long. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Lent: Asked and Answered

Little sister asked a great question today, and I don't think my answer was too shabby either ;) Here it is

Jessica: help me

Me: With what?

J: am i supposed to give up something for lent

Me: If you want to, and if you understand that fasting is meant to bring us closer to Jesus. Fasting isn't about what we do or don't do; it's not about us at all. It's about the reality that Christ has already given us everything so we don't need anything else.
So it's helpful to fast from something that takes you away from Him, or is an idol in your life. Like if you are more excited about a new facebook notification than reading the Word, it can be beneficial to take a break for a season and re-assign that time to prayer, worship and Bible study. If you turn to food, or a certain kind of food, for comfort you might be blessed by giving it up for awhile in order to help turn your heart to the One who is called the Comforter.
I'm repeating last year - I'm giving up complaining about other people, because it's not edifying for me or for them. And the command Jesus gave is to love God and love people. When I focus on their faults and how they've wronged me, I'm not loving them. When I catch myself complaining, I find three reasons to thank God for their life. To see them how God sees them, to see the patience He practices with them, to see the patience He's always had with me, that helps me grow and love the Lord more deeply.

And if anyone else is looking for a way to FEAST on the Bread of Life this season, the insightful, godly, brilliant Ann Voskamp has a devotional for us.
Bread for today, hope for tomorrow -

Monday, March 3, 2014

Public and private - how then shall we worship?

Riches I heed not, nor man's empty praise
Thou mine inheritance now and always
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart

Pause. Wait, what? Did I just say The Lord is the only one on the throne of my life? That I'm so captivated by Jesus that the little idol-gods don't stand a chance? 
Did I just say that I have everything because I have Jesus plus nothing? 

Finish the verse, Kate 

High King of Heaven, my treasure Thou art

Is that even true? And does the way I spend my time, energy, thought and money reflect that? 

Maybe I should sing it again 

Thou and Thou only first in my heart
High King of Heaven, my treasure Thou art

Am I truly more in love with Jesus than anyone or anything else? Is He the sole object of my full, pure devotion? 

Lord, I need You. Let these words be true to me and not just a song to sing but an actual expression of my love for You. Search my heart, and if You are not first, prune away the weeds growing in the place that is rightly Yours. Amen

Let's sing it for real

Thou and Thou only first in my heart
High King of Heaven my treasure Thou art. 

Thank You, Jesus 

The above is a real conversation I had with God while on my guitar the other day. 

I love love love leading brothers and sisters in worship. I was privileged to do so for 3ish years on and off for InterVarsity, 5 months with Rock Valley Chapel, sporadically with GOV, and now about 4 months for Anchor. I have learned and grown IMMENSELY as a worship leader, but also as a worshiper. 

Which is why I also value private worship. Worship isn't just music, but that's what I am talking about right now - singing praise to the Giver of Live, Savior of your soul. Did you know that you don't have to wait until church to sing to Jesus? He'd love to hear your voice, right now. 

When I'm leading the church, I can't stop and check my heart. I can't just sing a lyric a half dozen times or stop playing to pray. Because corporate worship isn't about me. It's about Jesus and His bride, the church, coming together to rejoice in His glory. 

But when I'm by myself, it's only about me and Jesus. It's about seeing His face and listening for His voice. It's a conversation. 

And all these conversations help the church. You can't lead anyone anywhere you haven't already been. I pray that God will use what He's teaching me in my living room to move in the hearts of the church on Sunday morning. I pray that we will be a people who worships together on Sunday morning because each person worships all week long. What a beautiful thing that could be.