Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The First 8

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirt. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. Romans 8:1-8

I have no way to prove it to you, but I just typed those verses from memory. On Monday, I started an approach to Scripture memorization mostly based on the methods in this paper (I say loosely because I'm not memorizing a whole book, nor am I doing the references...the verses tend to separate themselves in my head ok and if I have to remember Romans 8:4 by remembering what comes before it, I don't think that's the worst thing in the world). Since I've been spending so much time on Romans 8:1-2, and have been tremendously instructed by other portions of the chapter, I thought I'd just go ahead and memorize the whole thing.

One thing I LOVE about this approach is the sheer number of times I repeat every verse. I already had verses 1 and 2 down when I started, so I started on what would otherwise have been "day 3". I repeated the first two verses 10 times. Then I read verse 3 out loud 10 times. Then I said verse 3 out loud without looking 10 times. Then I said the first 3 verses 10 times.

Now my math people here have figured out that if I learned the first 3 verses Monday and now have 8, I must be doing more than one verse a day.


This a familiar chapter to me, so even if I'm trying to make sure this stays in my long-term memory by taking time and going slowly, I don't think 2 verses a day is a terrible stretch.

The practice is, however, the same. When I added verse 4 to verse 3, I repeated verse 3 ten times out loud. Then I read verse 4 out loud 10 times. Then I recited verse 4 out loud 10 times. Then I went back and did the first four verses together 10 times. On Tuesday, I did this with verse 5, and later with verse 6. Today, with verses 7 and 8 (8 is super short and easy so it came quickly alongside 7).

I like this method so far because it has me proclaiming truth to myself over and over again. There will never be a day on this earth when I don't need to be reminded that to set the mind on the flesh is death but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. Instead of repeating Scripture until I remember it, I repeat it until I can't forget it.

Anyone else have anything that's really worked for them? Or maybe you want to try this one out?

Sunday, July 27, 2014

I Love My Master

I have been meaning to share this story for a LONG time but just hadn't gotten around to it. It is stunning, and a beautiful reflection of how Jesus sets us free to love God and enjoy Him forever.

In the 1800’s, a young Englishman traveled to California in search of gold. He struck it rich after several months of prospecting. On his way home, he stopped in New Orleans. While there, he came upon a crowd of people that was looking in the same direction. It didn’t take long to see why the crowd had gathered. The people had gathered for a slave auction. He heard, “Sold!” just as he joined the crowd. A middle-aged black man was taken away.

A beautiful young black girl was then pushed onto the platform and made to walk around so everyone could see her. The miner heard vile jokes and comments that spoke of evil intentions from those around him. Men were laughing as their eyes remained fixed on this new item for sale. The bidding began. Within a minute, the bids surpassed what most slave owners would pay for a black girl. 

As the bidding continued higher and higher, it was apparent that two men wanted her. In between their bids, they laughed about what they were going to do with her, and how the other one would miss out. The miner stood silent as anger welled up inside of him. One man finally bid a price that was beyond the reach of the other. The girl looked down. The auctioneer called out, “Going once! Going twice!”

Just before the final call, the miner yelled out a price that was exactly twice the previous bid. This amount exceeded the worth of any man. The crowd laughed, thinking that the miner was only joking. The auctioneer motioned for the miner to come and show his money. The miner opened his bag of gold. The auctioneer shook his head in disbelief as he waved the girl over to him.

The girl walked down the steps of the platform until she was eye-to-eye with the miner. She spat straight in his face and said through clenched teeth, “I hate you!” The miner, without a word, wiped his face, paid the auctioneer, took the girl by the hand, and walked away from the still laughing crowd.

He seemed to be looking for something in particular as they walked up one street and down another. He finally stopped in front of a store, though the slave girl did not know what type of store it was. She waited outside as the dirty-faced miner went inside and started talking to an elderly man. She couldn’t make out what they were talking about. At one point, the voices got louder and she overheard the store clerk say, “But it’s the law! It’s the law!” Peering in she saw the miner pull out his bag of gold and pour what was left on the table.

With what seemed like a look of disgust, the clerk picked up the gold and went into a back room. He came out with a piece of paper that both he and the miner signed.

The young girl looked away as the miner came out the door. Stretching out his hand he said to the girl, “Here are your manumission papers. You are free.” The girl did not look up.

He tried again. “Here. These are papers that say you are free. Take them.” “I hate you!” the girl said, refusing to look up. “Why do you make fun of me?!” “No, listen,” he pleaded. “These are your freedom papers. You are a free person.” 

The girl looked at the papers, then looked at him, and looked at the papers once again. “You just bought me...and now, you’re setting me free?”

 “That’s why I bought you. I bought you to set you free.” 

The beautiful young girl fell to her knees in front of the miner, tears streaming down her face.“You bought me to set me free! You bought me to set me free!” she said over and over. 

The miner said nothing.

Clutching his muddy boots, the girl looked up at the miner and said, “All I want to do is to serve you—because you bought me to set me free!”  Brad price, in Romans Bible Commentary: Living by Faith 

I cried the first time I read this story. I see Jesus in this, so clearly. Jesus didn't hang on the cross so we could live for ourselves and white-knuckle our way back to Him when we were feeling guilty. He set us free to really live. It's not about us doing everything we can do, and then leaning into Jesus, but it's about us leaning into Jesus and then letting Him show us how to live. 

This also reminded me of the song "My Master" by Christy Nockels:

When you realize how Jesus has set you free from a life of sin and death, all you want to do is to love and serve Him forever. Like the girl who was bought to be set free, so you have been bought with a price. What does that freedom make you do? 

I love my Master, I will not go free
I take Your name and live in liberty
My life is Yours forever
I'll serve You faithfully
I love my Master, I will not go free

Monday, July 21, 2014

Jesus Loves You

Today, I learned that one of my coworkers is a strong Christian. We should have put it together after we talked about love languages, but I always forget that not everyone in the world knows the gist of the five love languages, so it doesn't make my #stuffchristianslike radar go off.

Anyway, we were walking out to our cars and talking about work problems and then she said, "Have a great rest of your day. Jesus loves you"

I said, "Jesus loves you too, Cassie" and got into my car. I melted at the simplicity of that exchange. I'm at a church where we habitually preach the gospel to each other. It's amazing to watch hear my brothers and sisters point each other to Jesus in every conversation.

But we weren't at church. We weren't doing church things. We were being gymnastics coaches at a center for children and we were standing in the parking lot.

Jesus loves you.

I prayed for T today that she would have these parking lot moments with Cassies in her life. I prayed that the declarations of Christ's love would make her day.

And then I thought about that for a second.

Does the simple truth that Jesus loves me make my day? Are my affections so stirred for Jesus that His affection for me is most important to me?

Jared Wilson writes about the idea of what he calls "gospel wakefulness". Gospel wakefulness is exactly what it sounds like - being so awake to or perhaps wakened by the gospel that nothing else can possibly compare. He writes in the book of the same title,

"Gospel wakefulness means tasting and seeing that the Lord is good. It means losing the taste of worship for anything else" 

In other words, gospel wakefulness means that you can be loved by anyone, you can gain any amount of approval from anyone else, you can earn any amount of money, get any job title, and count it all as rubbish compared to the surpassing knowledge of knowing Christ.

And on my best day, it means that when a sister tells me Jesus loves me, it totally makes my day.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Set Free

Today was a day that again demonstrated the unity and security as a family that we have in Christ.

As I was cleaning up in kids min with my primary cohort, the worship music strained softly in the background. Caitlyn and I heard one of our favorites, and joined in together at the same time, singing every word of "I Love to Tell the Story" by heart. It was so sweet, and shows that we are indeed a singing church.

Later, I went to coffee at one of those coffee shops that attempts to force human interaction by having nothing but long tables with lots of chairs. I was sitting reading To Live is Christ, To Die is Gain (Matt Chandler and Jared Wilson) with my Bible on the table when an old man sat down near me. He asked what I was learning lately. I told him about the book I was reading - a walk through Philippians - and how I'd been meditating on Romans 8:1-2 -

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 

He asked how those two thoughts went together. I said that I was thinking about what it really means to have been set free. I think that Paul gives the answer to the church at Philippi when he says that to live is Christ and to die is gain. To live is to have more joy in our heart than when their wine and grain abound and to die is to see Him face to face. That's freedom.

We talked a little while longer about God's grace and I came away amazed at how much I have in common with this stranger because of Jesus. And I can know that I'll see him again; it'll be in scenes of glory when we sing the new, new song/'twill be the old, old story that we have loved so long

Sunday, July 13, 2014


If you are actually planning on reading Unbroken and want to be surprised, then ignore this post. I didn't know this story before I read it, and I was rivoted. It's also set to be a movie this winter.

Louis Zamperini was just another troubled kid until his brother decided to train him as a runner. He won a scholarship and everyone thought he was going to be the one to break the 4-minute mile, after he ran a 4:08 with almost no training. 2 years into his running career, he set his sights on the 1936 Olympics. Since he knew he wasn't good enough yet to make it in the 1500, he switched gears and qualified in the 5000. He made the team, the finals, and finished 7. He'd only run the race one time before the Olympics.

Eyeing the 1940 Olympics, he got serious about training. But that Olympics was canceled. He was eventually drafted (after Pearl Harbor) and joined the Air Force. in 1943, his plane crashed and he and the pilot survived on a raft for 47 days.

Dehydrated, starving, depraved and exhausted, they were found - by a Japanese ship! They were interrogated and sent to a POW camp. Louis was tortured in the worst ways possible for the next two and a half years. One guard in particular, nicknamed the Bird, was purely evil to Louis.

The war ended, and Louis was brought home a hero. However, his demons haunted him. The Bird appeared every night in his dreams, abusing him as usual. Louis developed a plan to return to Japan and murder him. He also met a girl and they got married, but he slowly lost himself to alcoholism, and along with the PTSD, he and his wife nearly divorced.

Then, Billy Graham came to town. His wife went, and said she was no longer divorcing him. She had been changed by the message of reconciliation in Christ. She begged him to come, and eventually, he did. He too accepted the good news of salvation that Graham preached.

When Louis did finalize his trip to Japan, he found the desire to kill the Bird has dissolved. Instead, he wrote him and told him about Jesus. He also said that he forgave him because of how much God had forgiven him.

I was blown away by this. I read page after page of the torture and abuse Louie suffered under his hands, and then the he extended. What a powerful story.

Alright well if you read this all the way through, I'd still encourage you to read book in its entirety. It's incredible, and I didn't do it justice here.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014


Ballard is an awkward neighborhood in Seattle. There's no direct route there and it's a jumbled mess. And yet I make the trek there Tuesday evenings for group. Tonight, I was driving through Ballard on the way to post-group aka a bar and the sunset was the perfect orange and the mountains were crazy clear and the whole thing was perfect and guess what song was playing in my car? 

Hallelujah, What a Savior 

I about melted. The God who saves is the God who made those mountains and the sun setting behind them. 

Hallelujah, What a Savior indeed 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Potty Training and Prayer Requests

I am so blessed to serve at Anchor Church. When I went through leadership training with InterVarsity, one of the things I was taught was that if you need to be serving more than your church needs you, you're in the right place. What's meant is that when you go where God calls you, it's sanctifying for you to be used for His glory. I feel grace being lavished over me every single time.

One thing that's so life-giving is when all the service team members get together about a half hour before service to pray for each other. We pray for the sermon and for the music and the church and our guests, but we also pray for the high school friend with breast cancer and the parent who had a stroke and we praise Jesus for new homes. Sunday, when the pastor-dad asked if there were any prayer requests, this is how it went down

His son, Asa, age two: My prayer request is for potty training; can you pray for me?
Pastor-Dad: Yup, sure thing. We can and we will.

I was so encouraged by this. Asa's request showed amazing, simple faith. He believed that prayer has value, and that God is really his help in all things. Think about this realityA a God big enough to hold the world in His hands and personal enough to help a two year old out of diapers and onto the toilet.

And that response. We can and we will. What a practical example of teaching kids to have faith. I think that we forget that when we take kids seriously, it helps them take God seriously.

Like I said, this is a good place.