We’re all trying very hard, aren’t we?
This morning I was awake an hour before my alarm was set to go off and I was filled with both excitement and anxiety (I start college today!). I decided to work out with that extra time and while working out I had so much inspiration about this specific post. I was going to title it, “Work: Burden or Blessing,” and it was going to help us all get a better view of God and who He has made us to be.
Not surprisingly, I managed to get really tangled up in stress before I could sit down and start writing. Instead of that calm inspiration I felt on the elliptical machine, I was staring at a white screen and I was filled with wordless frustration… Continue reading “Faith Part 2: On the Ground”
This morning I sat down to “hang out” with God. I barely opened my Bible where there’s a flyer marking some random book, saw the title of a book and was suddenly flooded with revelation that sent me writing feverishly in my journal and flipping back and forth between books of the Bible, recording, processing, crying.
You probably already know the things I’m about to share, but let me tell you anyway.
The book fell open to Joshua.
First of all, as background I’ve been chewing a lot lately on the idea of holiness. I used to have the view that because it was obviously too hard to be really holy, God didn’t expect perfect obedience from me. He loves me, after all, and isn’t some cosmic police officer. But I’ll be honest- I have often swung between “striving” to please God then giving up exhausted, and falling upon grace. There was a real sense of my unworthiness and God’s goodness and the mystery of his acceptance, but I have never really understood that non-legalistic holiness existed.
Back to Joshua. If you haven’t read it, I’ll give you a little sum up. The Israelites wandered in the Sinai desert for 40 years. On the brink of The Promised Land, Moses gives an epic speech and then croaks, handing the leadership over to Josh… Continue reading “Audience Participation”
It feels good to be small.
This is my main take-away from six months of sabbatical.
Recently I described the year like being lost in the woods .
It felt like I
ceased to be myself for a whole year. I ceased to know the things I thought I knew well and stopped connecting with many things that had previously given me joy and life.
It freaked me out to be unsure of everything I used to know. To add another metaphor to the pile, I was drowning.
And kept drowning… Continue reading “Perfecting Weakness”
I have read several articles on the when and the where of using, and not using, Christian jargon (this one being the funniest), but I would like to propose that it has no place at all in the communication of faith.
In a post about words, an “official” definition seems appropriate:
Jargon = special words or expressions that are used by a particular profession or group and are difficult for others to understand.
Probably the most slanted definition I found was this:
Jargon = a form of language regarded as barbarous, debased, or hybrid.
There are several places where verbal short hand and specialized phrases are handy. They make work and study more efficient if the jargon exchange is between two people “in the know.”
Unfortunately, because people love to sound smart, they will often use their specialized language with people who are not “in the know” either as a way of detecting such fools, or to impress newbies or outsiders… Continue reading “Just To Be Clear”
Sometimes I go down roads in my head I don’t want to go. This usually has to do with big questions about life and God. Several years ago I suddenly couldn’t shake the fact that the Bible doesn’t say explicitly what happens to babies that die. I couldn’t just believe something happy to soothe my fears, I had to know. And until I worked it out, I had a hard time thinking about anything else.
When thoughts like this come along, I don’t usually want to share the journey with anyone because I fear several unpleasant things. Mostly I fear that they will label me or decide something about me based upon my current feelings and thoughts without recognizing the journey of it. I fear this from others because I tend to do it to myself.
“THIS IS A BAD PLACE AND I WILL ALWAYS LIVE HERE.”
That’s the thing I tend to think when I’m wandering down the miry path called Crisis Of Faith… Continue reading “The Ugly Truth”
Taking a sabbatical in my home town is a bit like going to a kids birthday party for some peace and quiet.
Nevertheless coming here and taking a sabbatical were both things I felt like God was leading me to do. It’s much easier to make jokes about than to manage well and I’m taking some time today to lay this situation before God. To be honest, I think this very thing is one of my main reasons I need a sabbatical and a huge part of why God led me to do it here in Washington state.
Like when you pray for patience and discover yourself surrounded by frustrating life you can (wrongly) see it as proof that you shouldn’t have prayed for patience, or you can see it as a divine opportunity to get in plenty of practice. And, let’s face it, life is ever full of such opportunities. It is just a matter of choosing to see each thing as a chance to grow instead of as a God given “trial.”
God is not spiteful, but he is wise and he is loving.
So here I am on the verge of a week in which many “opportunities” are presenting themselves, all piled up, pushing and pulling at me… Continue reading “Party Pooper”
I have fallen so deeply in love with God by studying this weird collection of books called the Bible. I’m not talking about romantic love, but a love that is so, so much better.
Today in class, we finished the Old Testament.
*Pause for applause*
One of our fearless leaders, Scott Frase ended class by playing a slideshow he had made of the 65 books we’ve journeyed through in the last (almost) nine months (they begin the last book this Friday). Each slide was a book title, the main characteristic of God found in that book and then one or two key verses from said book which expressed this characteristic. Most of us were devouring each slide and responding with tears to see what an epic story we have been immersed in for so long. (Maybe I was the only one crying?)
It was as moving as I’m sure the picture slideshows will be when we finally graduate these beloved students in two weeks.
When any of our teachers finish their last lecture, it is SBS tradition to shower them with encouragement and prayer. For guest speakers, this happens soon after we meet them, but for those of us on staff with this school, we finish our last teaching near the end of a very long time together.
I was really struck today by a comment one of the students made to Scott as she expressed her appreciation and love for him. She talked about how, before coming to the school she’d had such a close relationship with God and she had feared that studying the Bible academically would suck the life right out of that relationship. It was a real battle for her and for several other students, but to Scott she said, “I thought I had to choose between knowledge of God or intimacy with God, but every time you teach, you show me I can have both.” … Continue reading “Library of Love”
For the past few years I’ve had this problem.
You don’t really want to hear all about it, but for the sake of what I want to share, I will tell you. I have too much estrogen. You’d think this would lead to more awesome womanness, but actually it causes several problems. It’s not just constant PMS symptoms, but also constant bleeding. The good news is that I went to the doctor years ago, and although it has gotten worse, I have stuff I can take that helps minimize these things (and totally eliminates the constant bleeding).
I continue to look for ways to be more hormonally balanced by eating differently, minimizing stress, etc. The symptom that is the most bothersome to me is extreme irritability. The difference between normal grumpiness and hormone induced irritation is marked. My rational mind tells me when a situation or interaction should or should not lead to anger and when this problem is at it’s worst, I walk around in a fog of anxious irascibility. I find this side effect the most disturbing because it impacts my relationships with other people and those are what I value most. Also, I don’t enjoy being angry!
Every once in a while I run out of the medicine that helps me and I usually keep a pretty relaxed attitude about it until, three or four days later, my skin hurts and I’m trying desperately to not bite people**.
I ran out of medicine a week and a half ago and while I’m not having horrible symptoms, I did have a revelation last night about a story in the Bible. I suddenly realized that I am the woman with the issue of blood from Mark 5 (also Luke 8 and Matthew 9)… Continue reading “The Hem of His Robe”
A Beautiful Mind: How my brain saved my life.
Guest post by Kimmi.
Some people day dream and stare off into space. Some people think so deeply that you wonder where they have gone for a minute or two. I only dream that this was my issue. Have you ever been through something so painful or so terrifying you have to do something to cope? I think we all have. We cannot judge or compare ways others have of coping. They are what they are. I am just thankful I have been given the support and care to deal with mine.
It has taken me a few years to come to this conclusion, but as of recently I have accepted this truth. I knew that I clinically struggled with Dissociative Identity Disorder, and Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I used to believe that this was part of my identity and that my mind was crazy.
I have recently been able to accept the truth that my mind is actually quite beautiful. Dissociating has been its way of protecting me all these years. Continue reading “A Beautiful Mind”
Studying to teach is a beautiful and frustrating process for me. If I spend too much time on details, I am immediately lost. What happens instead, is I spend a few weeks just thinking about the book I’m supposed to teach. Clearly, I have read through it and I will often gather bits of big picture information to chew on.
At some point, in the pondering (and attempting to study), I Get It. This usually happens much closer to the time I’m to teach than is really comfortable, but that also somehow suites me. I take the stress and I plunge head first into papers and my teaching outline. What I want to give my students is the Big Idea- the perspective they will not have time to discover for themselves in the two days they will get to study the book I’ve been studying for 4 weeks. But it takes me most of that four weeks to see the big idea clearly enough to teach it to them.
Something else happens while I’m studying to teach a particular book- God allows me to somehow experience or feel this Big Idea in a personal way in my own life. You can imagine because of this factor I was a bit nervous before I started studying to teach the book of Job!
Now I am currently working on the prophetic book of Hosea… Continue reading “The Big Idea”
I hear the phrase “fear of man” pretty often among the people with whom I spend most of my time.
Sometimes, unfortunately, phrases like this begin to lose their meaning for me when they’ve been used too often. I understand them less and less in any practical fashion and they slide past me unnoticed in the daily barrage of words.
Then one day someone will talk about one of these realities without using the common phrase and suddenly I am struck with the truth and given a much needed heart check… Continue reading “Land Mines”
Does being awesome have to be such hard work?
I’m coming to believe that as much as I want to live my life on purpose, show as much love as possible and, above all, help people know God better- as much as I want that, I don’t usually want the difficulties that go with those things.
This isn’t where I give you some moral lesson about how I’ve really just learned to buckle down and do the hard work. This is where I admit openly that I don’t want to.
It’s stressful. It’s exhausting, and I’m pretty sure I’m going a little bit crazy… Continue reading “Send Someone Else”
I’ve been mentally digesting two important thoughts today that seem to oppose each other.
Thought number 1 came this morning from the Twitter world. It struck me so soundly, that I typed it into a sticky note on my computer. It’s been staring at me all day.
“Hyper-individualism leads to spiritual homelessness.” -Bevin Ginder
This makes so much sense. I have walked that particular road, although I have also seen God pushing me ever toward interdependence with other believers.
Thought number 2 came this afternoon in class. Ron Smith, the founder of SBS is here teaching the Gospel of John to us. Today, in the first four chapters, he touched on several great things about Jesus, but one that got stuck right in my throat. In John chapter 1 Jesus is baptized. John the baptist (who dunked the Lord himself), says that he saw heaven open and the Spirit descend upon Jesus like a dove. He saw the Spirit, and it was like a dove.
Ron pointed out something that makes the dove particularly unique among birds; their flight pattern is unpredictable…. Continue reading “Mental Digestion”
Today I’ve been thinking a lot about “image.” Yesterday I watched several interviews with this actor who professes to be a Christian (at least in articles I’ve seen) but when he speaks (though very gifted, charming, funny and handsome) I don’t see a whole lot of Jesus. He drinks, he swears, in general he talks just like anyone who doesn’t care much for God.
Please don’t stop reading, I’m not about to rant about this man’s shortcomings. He’s actually pretty amazing and I found myself envying him a bit. At the same time, I appreciate the goodness of blessing and the temporary nature of things like fame. It’s very possible that his heart is deep and full of the love of God.
Then, today I encountered another kind of Christian. This man is a pastor. What comes out of his mouth is misogynistic, homophobic, arrogant and unloving.
Both of these men have influence, both are gifted and well known, both profess to love Jesus. My mind wanted to judge between them. To decide about them…. Continue reading “The Look of Love”
This morning in the coffee shop I had this really typical conversation with a young lady. I ordered my usual, a decaf quad Americano. Well, it’s my new usual, really. I had the stomach sick about a month ago and since I wasn’t able to eat, I kicked the caffeine. I figured I might as well keep up that good habit and switched to decaf.
Anyway, so the conversation started with my order and next came her questions and then my confession that I don’t drink caffeine. She then asked me, with sincere bewilderment, “How do you wake up in the morning?”
In some ways I find this kind of thing delightful because I like to mess with established assumptions about reality, but in other ways I find it disturbing that in so many ways we’re all still in high school.
I’m not making jabs at this young woman because The Need For Coffee is just a symptom of a bigger issue. That issue is our fenced in thinking.
You might be shocked to hear a missionary invite you to be open minded, but that’s just what I’m doing…. Continue reading “Caffeinated Rant”