Monday, December 29, 2008

Call and Response

So to make things clear after the last post, I'm not trying to be a complete Scrooge.

Mark Alexander, editor of the really cool and ever insightful Patriot Post, had this to say about Christmas:

For my family, Christmas is much more than a day, a season or a collection of memories and rituals. Christmas is a lens through which we endeavor to view all things -- the universe of our Creator and His purpose for us -- every day.
(emphasis mine)

It's not about the day or the season. It's about the Truth that was revealed - Incarnated - and how this demands a response. It impacts everything I do, everything I am. It shapes my worldview. I must celebrate it. Now, the celebration may not look traditional, but there has to be a response to the Truth. God's Gift cannot be ignored.

Alexander continues:

"However, it can be difficult at times to comprehend God's plan for us -- after all, how are we to discern our minuscule role in the enormity of His creation? In fact, in our home, we can become so distracted by the daily challenges, demands and routines that we sometimes neglect to seek His purpose for us."

I'm guilty, on both accounts. But its not the first as much as the latter that condemns me. God doesn't expect us to comprehend the plan He has not yet fully revealed, but He does require that we seek Him. It's not that complicated really, but I make it so...impossible. But truly, one thing and one thing only will keep me straight: seeking the face of God.

Alexander relates a conversation he had with his son, who was feeling confused and disconnected from God.

"God is always there, even if temporarily obscured from our vision.

We talked about explorers who crossed vast oceans in tiny vessels, setting their course by the North Star for places yet to be revealed.

When we make God our North Star, we are guided precisely along the path He has prepared for us, even though we do not know where it leads. However, as was the case with those early mariners, when we lose sight of our North Star, we must hold steady our direction until we find His guiding light again, correct our course and carry on.

Light overtakes darkness, but only if we open our eyes."
(emphasis mine)

Os Guiness has a similar thought in his book The Call:

"First and foremost we are called to Someone, not to something or to somewhere."

The where? and what? and when? and why? and how? don't really need to be asked if I truly understand Who I am following.

I'm not trying to be overly simplistic, because that doesn't help anything. And its not to say that I won't be asking these same questions tomorrow.

It comes down to a question of how much I trust Him.

May I have eyes to see and ears to hear, that I would stop kicking against the goads.

Alexander, Mark. "Christ's Mass 2008: Our Guiding Light." Patriot Post Vol. 08 No. 52. 22 December 2008.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas: Fighting Death and All His Friends

I'm struggling with Christmas this year, for various reasons.

I've always hated commercialism. Sentimentality is bothersome too, perhaps this year more than before. But most of all, I'm sick of the sugar-coating that goes on inside the church. 

We're leaving out the power of the Gospel for a happy, warm-fuzzy feeling that makes a good singing and drama program. 

Let us not forget that His birth was promised with the arrival of sin - that with the promise of hope, came the promise of battle and pain. 

And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will crush your head, and you will strike His heel. Genesis 3:15

The Christmas story is not a story of happy, carefree people and cute soft fluffy sheep. Jesus was born in a stable - a place slimed with dirt and sweat and blood and tears and manure. The Nativity is a story of fear and hope, betrayal and love, enmity and adoration, terror and peace, death and life. 

It is a story of war. 

The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born. ...And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. ...Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring—those who obey God's commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus. Revelation 12: 4, 7, 17

We get these happy sentimental ideas about Christmas, but Scripture has no such ambiguity. 

The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work. I John 3:8

Or, as my Bible teacher Jeremy Gregory equated, "to destroy 'death and all his friends,'" - disease, famine, abuse, slavery, neglect, injustice. The wrong created by the Fall is ours to redeem through the victory that Jesus has won.

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. I Corinthians 15:56-58

And what last words does Paul impart to the church at Rome?

The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you. Romans 16: 20

So maybe Christmas can leave us feeling empty and unfulfilled because we don't understand the role we're called to play in the story. We're called to fight death and all his friends, because that is why Christ appeared. That is why He became God-in-flesh. As God has redeemed us, we are called to redeem - not that we have any power in of ourselves, but that we know Christ. It is Christ whose heel was stricken by the serpent, and it is Christ who was to crush his head. Yet we have the victory of Christ when we are in Him. 

But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, "Abba, Father." So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir. Galatians 4:4-7

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Reflections on Brit Lit (and other things)

(Posts will be coming rapidly in the next few days/weeks. I'm waiting to post thoughts on Twilight til after I see the movie, and other thoughts on books will be coming soon. Finishing/procrastinating on my Brit Lit final spurred these thoughts.)

So I'm taking a sophomore Brit Lit class. It's definitely a survey – one day on her, a week on him, one passage from this major work, read three poems out of his hundreds, a dozen sonnets in total. I'm grateful for what I am learning, and I guess the point is to serve as an introduction. But really, its leaving me feeling all the more deprived. 

Most of my middle and high school English courses were pretty random – no unified approach to sytematically reading and studying the classics. A high turnover rate in teachers during those years mean that each teacher taught what they willed, and we never really got a thorough study of the classics in school. And because I wasn't really introduced to them or the value of reading old texts, I didn't pursue or read them on my own when I had the time to read. (Almost all my extracurricular reading was historical fiction, or modern Christian fiction. It truly has given me a better understanding and love for history than my peers have, but it's hurt my literary understanding.)

So now that I'm reading the greats, the literary foundation of the English language, I'm beginning to see how much I've missed. (Going even deeper is the context and foundation upon which they wrote – the foundation of Western civilization stemming from Greek and Roman tradition.) Exhibit A: John Donne. I've read maybe eight of his poems/sonnets (some outside of assigned reading) and just in those I've recognized three phrases that later writers have borrow and utilized for their own work (“for whom the bell tolls” and “the world's last night”) or have become common sayings (“No man is an island”). Exhibit B: reading just a few pages from Milton's Paradise Lost, Dante's Inferno, and Marlowe's Faustus. So much of culture's understanding of eternity and the spiritual realm comes from the interpretations/imaginations of these men. 

CS Lewis once described those who don't read the classics and old texts as guys who come in at dinner time and start arguing in a conservation that has been going on since early that morning. The newcomers are presumptuous, often confused, and sometimes just flat out wrong because they do not have the context needed to ably participate. 

It's kind of like those Christians who scream that they're under grace, not law, and therefore have no need of the Old Testament. But without the context of the old covenants, the new covenant much less significance in of itself. Without knowing the context of the Old Testament, the passion of the prophets, the lineage from Adam to David and beyond, the exile and return, the promise of coming redemption, the Law itself, the New Testament doesn't make much sense. And just as the foundation of Brit Lit is based on the foundation of Greek and Roman civilization and literature, so the power of the Old Testament is not in just knowing the law, but understanding it as the Hebrews did, knowing the significance of events and language as God revealed it in the context of Jewish language and culture and history. 

Context is everything. 

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Looking for Hope and Home

hmm, I've got several posts floating around in my head, and I guess we'll see what comes out. Coming soon to a blog near you are posts on "Great books vs. Cultural Literacy," reviews of Twilight, thoughts on Advent, and some other random things.

Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays. It doesn't seem to have the same commercialism as Christmas and everything else. This year just seemed different. Black Friday a year ago is when my grandmother went into the hospital for the beginning of the downward spiral that took her Home. I've really been grieving for her this week - sometimes really randomly. I guess that's kind of how it works. 

Today was the first Sunday of Advent, and it was my first time to really participate in Advent in a Methodist church. I've always kind of considered myself Methodist, and been around that tradition, but have spent the majority of my life in non-denominational churches. I've been aware of Advent and the candles and all that, especially when around my Methodist-pastor-uncle's house at Christmas, but it was really cool experiencing and participating in the ancient tradition of anticipating the HOPE of Christ's arrival. 

So I do not grieve as one without hope. I live because Christ lives in me, the Hope of Glory. 

I'm loving Brooke Fraser's "CS Lewis Song."

If I find in myself desires nothing in this world can satisfy
I can only conclude that I was not made for here
If the flesh that I fight is at best only light and momentary
Then of course I’ll feel nude when to where I’m destined I’m compared

Speak to me in the light of the dawn
Mercy comes with the morning
I will sigh and with all creation groan
As I wait for hope to come for me

Am I lost or just less found,
On the straight or on the roundabout of the wrong way?
Is this a soul that stirs in me,
Is it breaking free, wanting to come alive?

‘Cause my comfort would prefer for me to be numb
And avoid the impending birth
Of who I was born to become

For we, we are not long here
Our time is but a breath
So we better breathe it
And I, I was made to live
I was made to love
I was made to know you

Hope is coming for me

Saturday, November 1, 2008

For All The Saints

It's All Saints Day, November 1. 

I think I understood the concept of All Saints Day before I knew what Halloween is. Not to say that all celebration of Halloween is completely Satanic, but why would you want to celebrate fear, death, and darkness when you can celebrate the glory of God as displayed in past centuries and thankfulness for those who have gone before us and left a legacy impacting still today?

My mom and I have been humming stanzas from "For All The Saints" for the past couple of days. 

For all the saints who from their labors rest, who Thee by faith before the world confessed, Thy name, O Jesus, be forever blessed: Alleluia, alleluia. 

Thou was their Rock, their Fortress, and their might. Thou Lord, their captain, in the well fought fight, Thou in the darkness drear, their One True Light, Alleluia, alleluia. 

And when the strife is fierce, the warfare long, steals on the ear the distant triumph song, and hearts are brave again, and arms are strong. Alleluia, alleluia. 

O blest communion, fellowship divine! We feebly struggle, they in glory shine; yet all are one in thee for all are Thine. Alleluia, alleluia. 

Some of my favorite experiences have been thinking/journaling at ancient churches. From San Antonio missions of the 1700s to European churches built in the middle ages to Central American churches built centuries before America was settled, there is something powerful about realizing that the power of the gospel transcends time and kingdoms. 

My faith is strengthened by those who have gone before me. I stand on the soldiers of giants, from the apostles and early church fathers, to unknown missionaries going to the uttermost parts of the earth, to grandparents and great-grandparents who lived the gospel and passed it on to me. I am grateful. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Psalm 62

I work up yesterday morning with this verse running through my head: "My soul finds rest in God alone." Turns out its the start of a really good and applicable and needed chapter from Psalms. 

My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will never be shaken. v1-2

To say "I will never be shaken" is a pretty bold claim. Yet its truth struck me. Christ is the Rock, He is Truth, He is omniscient. He is not surprised by anything I do or not do. He cannot be shaken, or He would cease to be God. And God is God: unshakeable. But here's the weird thing: God died, God shook the world, to make me a daughter with the rights of a son. To give me a new identity in Christ. I am in Christ. No matter what happens, no matter how bad the economy fails, no matter who is elected president, no matter what happens to my friendships and relationships, no matter, I am in Christ, and that cannot be shaken. 

My salvation and my honor depend on God; He is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge. v7-8

Honor is a big deal to me. It's one of those old fashioned ideals that's embedded in my heart, like 'a man's word is his honor.' I want to have honor and show honor in all circumstances. But recently, I've been facing decisions that are rather unpopular. They go against the crowd, and most people probably won't understand what or why I'm doing what God has said to do. But my honor doesn't come from the reactions of other people or even how I handle those relationships. It comes from God. My honor depends on God, and nothing else matters. 

One thing God has spoken, two things I have heard: that you, O God, are strong, and that you, O Lord, are loving. v11-12

At the end of the day, whether I feel shaken or shamed, confused or crazy, God is True. His character does not fail. God is my strength and He loves me. What more do I need?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

God's provision

My head knows that God provides. I've heard it a thousand times, I've seen it happen in the life of my family, but it hasn't really permeated my heart. My heart is so hard. 

But recently, I've been really worried about the economy and the future. The economy, obviously, is not in great shape, but I've really had to fight fear about what is going to happen. I'm looking at paying for college and getting a real job, and I'm scared. I know God provides, but somehow, that wasn't calming my heart. 

But God hit me with this today. He brought peace to my heart, and maybe I'm starting to understand with my heart, hear Him with real ears. 

All the gospels have some story of Jesus calling the two sets of fisherman brothers, Peter and Andrew, James and John. But Luke 5 tells a story that I didn't really remember. 

Jesus gets into Peter's boat to teach the people. When He's done, He tells Peter to go and catch fish. Peter explains they tried and caught nothing the whole night, but they would go because Jesus said. They drop the nets and they start breaking because there are so many fish. They call Zebedee and his sons to come help, but both boats start to sink because there are so many fish. They get to shore and left the boats, the fish, and everything and follow Jesus. 

Jesus called them to do a hard thing - to leave their jobs, source of income, families - and follow Him, become a disciple, have a new identity, become just like Him. But as He called them, He showed them He would provide. He would provide everything they needed. 

I'm privileged to know a guy named William Netherland. He's an amazing musician, but even more he's a deep thinker and follower of Christ. He said this:

Sometimes we think by serving God we'll have everything, but serving God is everything. If Jesus is who He says He is, if He is who the Prophets say He is, who the Apostles testified Him to be after His death, who cares [about having anything]? So what if I don't have ____? I have EVERYTHING! 

What if we lived like that? If we lived like Jesus intended for us to live, even if we lived like the Apostles lived -sinners though they were- we would change the world. 

I want to change the world.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

I want to live in Narnia when I grow up!

Seriously, I'm not kidding. But even if I were, I think heaven will be similar to Narnia in many ways. We saw Prince Caspian again at the dollar theater recently, and I loved it. I liked it even better the second time, probably because I was focusing more on the spirit of the film rather than the technical accuracy to the book. 

One scene really caught my attention though. The Old Narnians are gathered in the forest to meet Caspian for the first time. Some want to kill him on the spot, while other are aware of the history and prophecies to be fulfilled. He explains that if they will help him recover his throne, then he will give Narnia back to the Narnians. At this, the centuar captain steps forward and draws his sword. 
"Then my sons and I offer you our swords." 
All the other creatures follow his lead and swords are raised. Reepicheep then steps forward, speaking for his small band of Talking Mice. 
"And we offer you our lives unreservedly."

The centaurs were willing to live and fight for Narnia, and as warriors, they were willing to die in the line of duty. But Reepicheep offered something greater. He offered complete loyalty, surrendering his life and rights before they were demanded of him. He understood how the Kingdom worked. 

There are times when we will offer God our time on Sunday mornings or our service or our strength, but we don't offer Him our hearts, the fullness of our being. We are commanded to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength - with everything we have. 

Francis Schaeffer writes in The God Who Is There: 
When I hear this first commandment to love the God who is there with everything that I am, it carries with it a total concept of life and truth...But this commandment carries something more; it tells me something very fundamental and exciting about myself...Those who understand what is involved will not dismiss this as "something I have heard since I was little." to think through the implications is totally exciting. The God who is there is of such a nature that He can be loved, and I am of such a nature that I can love...I know what man is, and I know who I am.
And so I will offer my life unreservedly. 

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Holy Ambition

John Piper has coined the term a "holy ambition" to describe the passion one has to accomplish that which God created him or her to do. (Some would use the term "calling," but that's very broad, misunderstood, and rarely well-defined.) Holy ambition is a concept the Rebelution guys talk about fairly often as well. Alex and Brett Harris suggest that part of the problem of young adults wasting their lives is because society places a huge importance on spending time to "find yourself." Rather than finding myself, my focus should be on God and His global plan and what He wants to do in and through me. 

Instead of asking "Who am I?" we should look beyond ourselves to something greater. Asking "What grieves me, what excites me, what makes me mad?" reveals the areas where our passions line up with God's heart and what we can do to right injustice and give hope. 

As I was listening to these guys talk on an old interview on the Boundless Show, a phrase dropped into my heart. "Use media to mobilize missions."

I would describe my passions as tech/media, history, writing, and missions. Those are kind of distinct areas, and I'm not really sure how they interact. Yet. But I'm excited about the potential of using all of these to be involved in mobilizing missions. 

There are four basic roles in missions today - the go-ers, senders, welcomers (people who minister cross-culturally with immigrants/refugees who come to their home town), and the mobilizers. While I've been involved in all of these, my heart really lies with mobilizing the Church to recognize what God is doing around the world and urge them to get involved. 

I'm not exactly sure what this will look like, as with so many other things, but more pieces are starting to fall into place. And this is exciting, because God is faithful.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

What Makes The Olympics So Special?

So basically for two weeks every two years, the whole world (more or less) watches TV every night to see how a bunch of young people - teenagers! - are going to compete and break world records and make history. We expect these kids to do it. We expect young girls, aged 12 or 16 depending on your country of origin, to do amazing flips and stunts and balance and astound the world. We expect 19-year-old swimmers to improve and come back four years later at the ripe age of 23 and "smash" previous accomplishments in a historical epic achievement. 

Everybody's excited. When the US and Michael Phelps won the 4x200 relay by 8/100 of a second, FOUR of my friends reported they screamed they were so excited. Note: these aren't people that scream on a regular basis. 

Everybody has nationalistic pride. Everyone - couch potato, varsity athlete, working mom, wrinkled grandpa, sports fanatic, little girl, and of course, Olympian - is a part of TEAM USA. My friend commented today, "I love the Olympics cause you can go up to anyone and talk about it, and they'll know what you're talking about - you could have a passionate conversation with a total stranger." 

Excitement. Passion. Unity. Global Awareness. High Expectations For Young People. 

What a great description! If only we could find something these adjectives describe besides a world sporting event occurring every two years by rotation. 

Why doesn't this describe everyday life? Why doesn't this describe society at large? Why doesn't this describe THE CHURCH?

Olympians have an ultimate goal that is worth all suffering. Olympians have trainers that push them to be the best in the world. Therefore, Olympians have dedication far beyond what most people can begin to comprehend. 

In the above paragraph, I should be able to replace the word "Christian" with the word "Olympian." 

Christians have an ultimate goal that is worth all suffering: Jesus. Christians have the Spirit within them transforming and sanctifying and encouraging them into the image of Christ. Therefore, Christians have dedication and commitment to Christ to the death, far beyond what most people can begin to comprehend. 

I'm not giving a cheesy "everybody should be excited about TEAM GOD" or that kind of thing. But I do think the church  - as an institute and as individual believers - needs to reevaluate what our passion and excitement and expectations are. 

Olympians are a special breed of people, no doubt. But Christians are called to be holy, set apart, a royal priesthood, above and beyond everything else in this world. Maybe we should take a clue from these super-athletes, who run hard to win a prize that perishes. We need to run much harder for the glory that will never fade or diminish. 

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. I Corinthians 9:24-27

Sunday, August 3, 2008

I know I am loved by the King

"I know I am loved by the King and it makes my heart want to sing..."

I saw this quote, which is part of a song by Chris Tomlin, and it just jerked something inside of me. 

The King loves me. 
  • Me! with all my pitiful mistakes, my repeat failures, my willful disobedience, my flaws and shortcomings. 
  • Me! with all my lofty dreams and misplaced priorities and great imagination- all the things He must prick and rupture. 
  • Me! the sinner He died to save long before I even knew or cared that He existed. 
  • Me! now the sinner saved by grace, who keeps testing the limits of that grace -albeit often unconsciously- as I  stray and sin, yet again.

The King loves me. 

How, why, I do not know. But if I know even the littlest part of this truth (because Truth is Truth, even if we don't understand all of it yet), that The King loves me, how can I not sing? How can I not LIVE - truly live, as in the zoe life, abundant life, the life that is Christ? How can I desire sin, much less actually do anything that would in any way separate me from this King?

I know sanctification is process, it takes a lifetime, my old man is struggling with the new life in Christ, yada yada yada. I get that. We can't just jump from point A to point B and be done with it. 

BUT IT SEEMS TO ME that there should come a point of no return. A time when I realize all that I have in Christ and the absolute trash of the world. There should come a place where I understand, at least a little, of who Jesus The King is, and what He offers me - and this should propel me past all the entangling sin and the dead weight and the crap that beckons me to stay in and of this world. 

There should come a point when all I desire is to know Jesus, and Him crucified and risen and alive- when that is all I want, and no sin or pain or hell will keep me from pursuing this. 

Some would call this the moment of salvation, but perhaps it's more like Wesley's second work of grace or something. I don't know. But we see Paul struggling with his sin (Romans 7) long after justification and well into the process of sanctification. I think there comes a point in our Christian walk when we must choose to pursue God after we've experienced 'salvation.' I'm not making statements on predestination and that debate, or writing systematic theology to be studied by posterity (in other words, don't overanalyze what is spilling out of my gut into cyberspace). 

I'm just at a place of no return where I must choose radical discipleship or fall back and be content with the recycled religion I can spew out of my dark heart so easily

What would my life look like if I actually lived as if "I know I am loved by the King." I think my heart would be doing more than singing - I think it would be changing the world. 

I've been told that the only appropriate answer to radical grace is radical discipleship. I've been given radical grace. Let's see what radical discipleship looks like. 

Saturday, July 26, 2008


I don't have much to say, but these two quotes really hit me. I'm discovering I can't do what I want to do so very badly. When it comes down to it, all I can do is give up. I'm pretty sure that goes against my nature, but my nature is no source of truth. Right now, in my life, I'm only sure of one thing. Pretty much everything else is up in the air in some way, shape, or form. But I know that I NEED GOD. Not in a cute Sunday School kind of way, but in a way that is real. I need to know the God I claim to love. 

This is from a blog I really like and read very sporadically.

"I suppose that's the place you reach at some point. All your plans fail. All your attempts to yank yourself up by the bootstraps fail. The rules fail. The ritual fails. People fail. You fail yourself.


In the end, you're 24, you're almost (almost) accepting the freefall...But you can't quite muster the guts to let go of the fraying rope and latch on to the only one who can save you now.

I have a confession. I am mortified of the mundane. Mortified. The most frightening thing in the world to me is that I might live my whole life having done nothing for the Kingdom of God.

There. I said it. It's out, for all to see, to hear, to read.

I fear failing my Master.

And yet he keeps walking, and I keep plodding (slowly) after. Because, really, whom have I in heaven besides him, and by what other name shall I be called?

As Peter said, "Lord, where else would we go?"

I don't have a lot of faith. I can't really say I know how to pray. It isn't really anyone's fault but mine, I suppose.

All I know is for the last two years, since I asked him to teach me, he's said simply:

Cease striving. Why do you kick against the goads?

A question for which I have no answer.

And so, with Luther, I say, "I am yours. Save me."

And in answer, our Lord replies...

I have you now. And I will not let you go. "

And this reminded me of this other quote from Phil Vischer I had been thinking about not too long ago.

"God was enough for the martyrs facing lions and fire - even when the lions and fire won. And God is enough for you. But you can't discover the truth of that statement while you're still clutching at your dreams. You need to let them go. Let yourself fall. Give up. As terrifying as it sounds, you'll discover that falling feels a lot like floating. And falling into God's arms - relying solely on His power and His will for your life - that's where the fun starts. That's where you'll find the "abundant life" Jesus promised - the abundant life that doesn't look anything like evangelical overload. The impact God has planned for us doesn't occur when we're pursuing impact. It occurs when we're pursuing God."

Wow. God, change me. Do with me what you will, but don't leave me like I am. I can't change that and I can't stand it. Make me Yours.

Sources, respectively. and Vischer, Phil. Me, Myself, and Bob: A True Story About Dreams, God, and Talking Vegetables. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006. pg 250-251

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


My Facebook status currently reads: Lauren is in love...with macs, photoshop, and the vision of Phil Vischer and JellyTelly. See

The new header is the result of joyous time playing around with Photoshop while watching the Rangers beat the White Sox. But I'm really excited about what Phil Vischer (the guy who started VeggieTales) is working on right now.

After the bankruptcy of Big Idea and VeggieTales, and the collapse of Phil's dream, he realized that he had made his company more about him than God. He had lost sight of the original call. With the wisdom that only comes from failure and restoration, he writes a great book called Me, Myself, and Bob: A True Story about God, Dreams, and Talking Vegetables.

Anyways, he's doing a new thing now that is much needed and quite brilliant. With his new organization, Jelly Fish Labs - through which he's published two children's books and made several hilarious short mock news casts with a puppet named Buck Denver - he's creating an online Christian TV network for kids. He takes the premise that media influence is increasing in kids' lives even as Christians are producing less Christian kids media, and Vischer decides to do something about it. The average kid watches 22 hours of TV a week, and this might be countered by an hour of Sunday School. The worldviews of Nickelodeon and Disney Channel are basically raising a whole generation. 

Using clever storytelling, puppets, 2D and 3D animation, and live action, along with plenty of silliness that kids crave and hilarious wit that keeps adults engaged, Vischer proposes an online network called JellyTelly, which will combine short clips and new characters, the best of current Christian kids media, and the work of emerging young Christian film students and animators. What excites me most is not just the vision to give an alternative to families for entertainment or help teach kids Biblical values while partnering with churches to correlate curriculum, but that JellyTelly is also committed to training a new generation of young people to impact the media. No, the subscription online network with a pay-what-you-can policy will not be immediately challenging the likes of Disney or Viacom, but they will be creating a new generation of Christian storytellers, well trained and able to affect the arts and a generation of young children and families who know to expect better than either of the horrible quality Christian media or the indoctrinating trash of big television. 

PLEASE visit,, and ESPECIALLY for more information. 

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Mid-Summer Classics

This week saw the 79th Midsummer Classic All-Star game, held in historic Yankee Stadium for the final time. As the most loyal fan of my Texas Rangers, I would like to point out that five time All-Star and Rangers' captain Michael Young had the game winning RBI. Josh Hamiliton smashed the previous record in the Home Run Derby, once again using the opportunity of a national audience to boldly proclaim how God has redeemed and transformed his life. I was proud and grateful to be a hometown Rangers fan.

I'm about at the midway point in my summer, so I thought I would evaluate. The main goals I have are to rehabiliate my leg, read a lot of books, and rest and prep for the coming hectic year. I've been careful to rest and help my leg, which has led to less activity in other areas. I haven't read as many books as I would have liked by now, but I've been steadily working on that in the past week especially.

In late May I made the goal of reading at least twenty (20) non-fiction information books this summer, and I put together a list of some 20+ that I wanted to read. They aren't in any particular order, and I really tried to mix history, science, philosophy, and theology. Here you go:

John Adams by David McCullough
Living as if Heaven Matters by David Shibley
Healing by Francis MacNutt
Politically Incorrect Guide (PIG) English/American Lit by Kantor
PIG American History by Woods
PIG The South by Johnston
PIG Science by Bethell
PIG Islam and Crusades by Spencer
PIG Global Warming/ Environmentalism by Horner
Orthodoxy by GK Chesterton
Sound Reinforcement Handbook by Davis and Jones
How Then Shall We Live? by Francis Schaeffer
The God Who Is There by Francis Schaeffer
God Is There and He is Not Silent by Francis Schaeffer
The Christian In Armor by Gurnall
Ten Books That Screwed Up The World by Benjamin Wiker
The Book That Transforms Nations by Loren Cunningham
The Call by Os Guiness
The Abolition of Man by CS Lewis
Love the Lord With All Your Mind by JP Moreland
A Really Inconvenient Truth by Iain Murray
Let The Nations Be Glad by John Piper
Knowing God by J.I. Packer
Driven By Eternity by John Bevere

So I've completed one on the list, am in process of two more, and have read a couple others not originally listed: The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell (an fascinating look at the New Age philosophy directly influencing much of the media today, including Bill Moyers and George Lucas), Culture Shift by Albert Mohler (a book of essays on various issues today) and What's The Difference? by John Piper (a short, insightful look at biblical manhood and womanhood).

I've got a lot of reading to do!

Friday, July 4, 2008

The Glorious Fourth

“It ought to be commemorated as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more. You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Day’s Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not.” John Adams, July 1776

I have a lot of mixed emotions about holidays. July 4th, Easter, Christmas, you name it. (Of course, my feelings are not so mixed regarding Hallmark Days like Valentine's.) It seems our culture has an uncanny ability to take a good event with deep original meaning and turn it into something worthless. Sometimes my inability to see past cute reindeer, bouncy bunnies, and fun picnics ruin the whole thing, even the parts that are good and noble.

I had fun today. Family, friends, food, fun, fireworks (and a little bit of alliteration). But it seems to me that most of it was really missing the point.

During the fireworks, I couldn't help but think that this generation of Americans is extremely unique. The deep bass sound of rockets and explosions bring mental images of beauty and fun, not terror. Pick any other nation in the world - from troubled eastern Europe to the Middle East to Asia, Africa, or the drug wars of Latin America - and the sound we know as fireworks is known as death, war, and destruction.

Go back two or three hundred years on our own American soil. A blinding flash of light is the last thing a soldiers sees before burning schrapnel tears apart his flesh. Boom! Earth and rock fly upward as fortifications are slowly deconstructed, volley by volley. Rat-a-tat-tat! The steady sound of the drum draws men forward into battle, over the bodies of fallen comrades as they face the flash of enemy fire and artillery. On the sea, the great kaboom leaves a gaping hole in the hull, ushering churning water in to take possession of the vessel commissioned to fight for freedom. Just miles away, the dreadful boom of cannon brings fear to women and children, left to wonder if the day's battle will bring the death of husband, father, brother, cousin, or friend.

Now, a distance bang draws eager children to the windows, and begins a contest to locate the pretty colors first. A star! A ring! A sizzling sparkler! Yet none tell of the horror of war, nor the struggle for freedom.

July 4, 1776 was not a day of celebration. It was a day of solemn commitment, when men determined a course of liberty or death. The signers pledged "their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor," because they knew "if they did not hang together, they would all hang separately."

We've lost that solemness because we have never had to fight to defend it on our shores. But that is all the more reason that the Fourth should be a day to fast and remember and repent, rather than recklessly celebrate that of which we do not know the cost.

Yes, we should celebrate, but we must not ever forget why we may.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Cultural Perceptions

A couple of events in the last day or so has made me think about cultural expectations and perceptions.

Earlier this evening, I was talking with a friend who just returned from Asia. While on a flight in Asia (Taiwan to Korea, maybe?), she noted the UNICEF promo video they played. The reference to "starving children on the other side of the world" caught her attention, since Americans normally think of "starving children on the other side of the world" as being from Asia. I suppose for Asians "the other side of the world" could also be Africa, or Latin America (Haiti comes to mind), but I found the reference of "other side of the world" interesting. Rather than face the fact we all have problems and people who desperately need help in our own backyards, we put a spin on it and make the problem seem far, far away - "on the other side of the world."

The past couple of days, I've been babysitting a three-year-old, which has been an experience in of itself. She was fascinated with my cell phone, wanting to look at it, the pictures on it, and play pretend with it. Today I brought her a really old cell phone of mine that doesn't even turn on anymore. I was much more confident to let her play pretend with an old brick she could throw around with no harm done.

Throughout the day, she would take it out of her pocket and make "calls" to her parents and friends. But what really caught my attention was her "texting." She would pull it out, punch the keys for several moments, then put it back in her pocket. A minute later, she would pull it out again, look at it, and then punch the keys again. I was amazed that at three years old, she had mastered the concept which comprises the extent of some people's communication. Technology has radically changed our world in the past two decades. When I was three, cell phones barely existed. Now, little children -even toddlers- know how to operate them. While technology offers many benefits, we may yet see negatives outweigh the blessings.

This three-year-old also liked to look at my phone. My default background is a picture of my brother and my guy cousins at a baseball game. While looking at the background, she asked a question that through me off guard. "Is this your boyfriend?" "No, that's my brother, and that's my cousin." I assume that the other girls who have babysit her have pictures of their boyfriends on their phones. But I found it pretty ridiculous that a three-year-old has an cultural expectation of boyfriends and dating and all that great stuff.

Kids soak up the culture they're surrounded by, and often reflect this back in statements and actions that can be surprising. I think it's crazy the things three year olds know and expect because they've been taught by their culture.

Monday, June 30, 2008

American Conservative

A week ago, I got to attend a cool thing put on by KSKY radio with my dad and brother. It was a talk radio summit featuring Hugh Hewitt, Michael Medved, and Dennis Prager. It was neat to see the behind the scenes stuff of a live radio broadcast (the soundman in me loved it) and to hear the insightful views on the same topic at the same time by these three leaders in talk radio. Ranging from the elections to immigration to culture, the question-answer format was really interesting. 
with Hugh Hewitt

backstage of the event, held in flight museum/hanger

So, in thinking of that this past week, as well as an added focus with the Glorious Fourth coming up, American politics have been on my mind perhaps more than usual. Politics are important, and I think all American Christians should be involved in the political arena in some way, if just as an informed and rational voter. Jesus calls Christians to be involved with and change culture, and it is hard to deny that politics affect culture. Personally, I myself haven't been really involved in politics, nor do I see myself entering that arena in the future (despite the backing of friends who have pledged to support a run for office in ten years or so...). Rest assured, that is not where my strength lies. 

To be honest, I would much rather be involved with what God is doing around the world, outside of America. I love my country, and I am very grateful for my heritage. I truly believe I reside in the greatest country on earth. But above my earthly citizenship, which I value, and my loyalty to the supplier of my passport must be my devotion to my heavenly citizenship. The Kingdom of God is not nationalistic. In order to see God's goal of every tribe, tongue, and nation surrounding the throne, the value of my earthly citizenship must be far lower than how I cherish my heavenly citizenship. 

Still, America is important to me. And something like this makes my blood boil.
"Green is the new red, white, and blue." 

It made me mad when I saw this shirt. It is the epitomy of what the environmentalist movement ultimately wants to do. Eliminate national sovereignty, and give all control to a global government. Control everything by corrupt bureaucracies so the elite stay in control, nature is elevated to a status higher than God, and human life is not unique and thus becomes worthless and expendable.

No, thanks. 

I'll keep my rights and the Constitution as written. I'll keep my American citizenship and my patriotic pride.

And I'll keep my rights as a child of God, redeemed by the blood of Jesus, shed on the cross. I'll look forward to the Day when creation is liberated from its bondage to decay and God creates the New Heavens and the New Earth as the final act in the story of Redemption.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Rebelution Tour 2008

The Rebelution: a teenage rebellion against low expectations. Do Hard Things, as seen in the blog, the book, and the conference.


Our family went to the Dallas stop of the Rebelution tour 2008 today. It was amazing. The teachings were solid, informative, and funny, the worship was amazing, and the whole atmosphere was just beautiful. 

I'm very grateful for the work the Harris family is doing, especially that of Alex and Brett. I've been greatly encouraged and challenged by the God-given message they present so well.

Four men of God: Alex; Joel the worship leader/big brother; Mr. Greg Harris, dad; Brett.

Explaining the book

Cool instantaneous audience response technology

worship and altar call

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Polls and Problems

This was the front page story in my local Dallas Morning News. According to this information, many Christians,  not to mention mainstream Americans, no longer accept basic tenets of Christianity as absolute truth. Surprising? Well, no. I find it interesting nonetheless....

"As other surveys have indicated, the Pew study indicates that America has drifted slightly more secular over the decades, but overwhelming majorities continue to say they believe in God OR an "impersonal force" (92 percent), heaven (74 percent), hell (59 percent), and angels and demons active in the world (68 percent)."

Here's the interesting part:

"About seven in 10 of those surveyed said they believed that many religions can lead to eternal life and that there is more than one true interpretation of the teachings of their own religion." 

SEVENTY PERCENT of CHRISTIANS think that there is not one way to eternal life. Wow. Wouldn't have guessed that. Sorry, I forgot that everyone can be right these days, except those who belief in Truth...

If this question were addressed to everybody, then I'd expect a higher percentage of universalism. But I absolutely don't understand how a majority of all the Christian groups represented (Evangelical, Southern Baptist, mainline denoms, United Methodist, historically black churches, Catholic) can believe multiple religions can lead to eternal life. 

42% of the 36,000 interviewed said they believe that "Scripture is the literal word of God." So, let's turn to Scripture for insight, shall we?

Jesus said in John 14: "Trust in God; trust also in me...I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well."

That's pretty clear to me. I don't see much room for wavering or waffling. Jesus was pretty good about making distinctions and drawing lines in the sand. Just ask the Pharisees...

I don't know how we, as the American Church, have strayed so far from this foundation of Christianity. But if I may speak bluntly to my brothers and sisters in the Church, I think we must examine how we approach teaching Truth. 

1. Preach the basic foundations of Christianity. PREACH THE GOSPEL! Why would anyone want to come to church for a watered down self-help course when they can get that on Oprah every day, with a lot more entertainment and from the comfort of their own couch? Please, preach the gospel! It's worked pretty well the past 2000 years.

2. Once one knows the Gospel, there is not any doubt as to the fact that Yahweh is the only God, and He manifests Himself in three persons. The only way to the Father is through Jesus the Son, as we are drawn by the Holy Spirit. I repeat: Jesus is the only way to the Father. However, there is NOT only one way to Jesus.

The way I read Scripture, Jesus came to abolish religion (man trying to please God/work his way to heaven). He did not abolish the Law, but He fulfilled it, ultimately by dying on the cross and being raised again to life. Through this, we can have a relationship with the Living God. God as the Holy Spirit lives inside of us when we have accepted Jesus as Savior and King. The point of Jesus coming to earth is to tell us that we no longer have to jump through hoops and follow rules to know God. 

So this means that I can come to know Jesus in many ways. I can know Jesus even if I'm not in church every Sunday and Wednesday and Tuesday prayer meeting. I can know Jesus even if I don't sing hymns or the latest 7-11 (7 words sung 11x) chorus. I can know Jesus even if I don't know the catechisms, but I do listen to rock music. In fact, I can find Jesus by being influenced by music, friendships, literature, other people, nature and creation, science, world events, the arts, and just about anything and everything else. 

God is not limited in His power! God can do, and will do, things in ways we would not expect!

I'm not asking the Church to compromise doctrine. I'm not asking the Church to water down its message to be seeker friendly. I am asking the Church to reach out to a lost and dying world by every means possible. Don't limit yourself to influencing non-Christians by handing them a track or dragging them to Sunday School. 

I believe with all my being that Jesus is the only way to Life and Salvation. I also believe with all my being that Jesus should be found outside of the walls of the Church and the pages of the Bible. Therefore, you and I, Christian, must live the Gospel. We must radiate Truth and Love in our relationships. We must be Jesus to a world that sees no need for Him. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Battle Cries

I often wonder about the things that excite my heart and stir my passion.

The call, "For NARNIA!!!" sends chills down my spine and makes me long for a sword in my hand and clinking mail to shield my heart.

I long to ride behind Thomas of Hunter, waging war against the Horde, defending the Forests for Elyon.

Even lesser things -things with no resemblance to my true Home- make me swell with patriotic pride and a longing to fight and defend. Remember the Alamo! Give me liberty or give me death! Truth, justice, and the American way! No taxation with representation! The South will rise again! To infinity and beyond!

Okay, I kid. In fact, I completely lied on the last few...

My point is stories inspire me and impact me on a deep level...which is a good thing. Yet my loyalty and longing to fight for Narnia doesn't carry over to the war in which I'm currently engaged...which is a bad thing.
For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete. I Corinthians 10:3-6
The struggle to wake up early, read my Bible, make my little brother a sandwich, then go study invisible lines and imaginary numbers and unknown letters while being nice to the jerk sitting next to me isn't nearly as appealing as the clash of swords and the thunder of hooves driving the enemy from the field to defend my home, family, and freedom.

Obedience. Attitude. Prayer. Thoughts. Words. Perseverance. Perseverance in the little things.
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross! Philippians 2:5-8
The Christian life certainly has the big battles, the glorious charges, the moments on the mountaintop when the enemy is clearly defined and victory is in sight. But a lot of life is in the standing, in the waiting, in picking up the cross again each day. These "little" fights are often harder, in some ways, than the big campaigns. These build endurance amidst suffering, and perseverance and character and hope.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then. Ephesians 6: 12-3

Stand. My youth pastor reminded me of this today. "If you're not intentional about your spiritual walk, you'll suffer - but you won't stay the same." I fight to be able to stand- fighting may not seem like I'm moving forward or gaining ground. But if I cease to stand, I fall.

So may the stories remind us that we are called to fight each day, even when it doesn't seem like we're fighting anything. And may the battle cries dim in comparison to the encouraging call and command of our Warrior King.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Learning to Walk In Freedom

I learned how to walk this week.

I now have a greater respect for the huge developmental stage toddlers must conquer.

It was seven weeks to the day from the time I completely rotated my ankle, snapping two leg bones and two ligaments, to the time I was able to walk, albeit haltingly and jerkily, without any support from crutches. How opposite were these two experiences in after-school athletics! But in these seven weeks, I've had much time to think. Paul's admonition about the body of Christ in I Corinthians has a lot more meaning now. And my understanding and appreciation of God as Creator and Healer has increased greatly.

When I first discovered that I could put weight on my leg and move it without supporting myself with crutches, I was ecstatic. Seriously, I don't remember being that happy in a long time. I was not most excited that I could use my leg again, but that my hands were free. My hands were no longer required to support my weight on sticks to balance and to propel my movement. I could use my hands again!

For the better part of two days, my movement didn't really resemble walking as one would normally think of it. It was a lot more like briefly putting pressure on my bad leg, swinging my good leg out in front, and jerking the rest of my body to catch up with my good leg. Added to this was the boot protecting my bad leg, which was a good deal longer than my foot and quite a bit heavier than what I was used to with the cast. Loving and accurate words used to describe this condition included "jerky," "klutz," and "freak." However, I couldn't care less what I looked like. I could walk and use my hands!

During this process, I thought of the concept GK Chesterton explains in his book Orthodoxy.
The heart must be fixed on the right thing: the moment we have a fixed heart we have a free hand.

Meaning, if we have a fixed heart, if God has control of my life, if I know I belong to Him and I have no life outside of Him, then I have a free hand. I can do whatever I will (remembering, however, that though all things are permissible, not all are beneficial). I am no longer bound to the Law. My hand is free; it does not need to worry about the expectations or judgments or approval of any except Him on Whom my heart is fixed.

In order to have a free hand, I must change my walk. To have a free hand, I must lose the crutches that kept me tied to a specific pattern of thought and motion. To have a free hand, I must recklessly abandon the path of this world and change my walk to follow and be with Jesus Christ.

At first, walking, any movement, is a chore. Will power, as much as muscle, jerks my body forward. Yet as I continue walking with Christ, I gain strength. I regain muscle and use of ligaments and achieve greater mobility. I learn to walk better, with more efficiency, so that to walk is not such a burden. Walking becomes a smoother process. It becomes an even greater joy.

Side note: To me, having a 'smoother walk' does not mean less struggle or fewer problems. It means that I am more able to follow Jesus and seek Him. The strength I have gained through walking with Him thus far gives me confidence for what is to come. I don't know what the situation will be, or how things will turn out, but I have complete trust in the character of my God as I walk with Him through the struggle.

May I fix my heart that my hand may be free and my walk may be closer to that of Jesus.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Life in my Bubble

I was sitting here mad and frustrated until God used this tiny prick called conviction to pop my bubble. (I know the bubble thing is kind of cliche around here, but I think it captures the heart of what I'm getting at pretty well.)

Round these here parts, football is pretty durn big. It's a Texas thing. Annual rivalries are pretty fierce. This year was going to be my first year to participate in an annual game and I've been looking forward to this for about exaggeration. Then I broke my leg. So for The Game, I was sidelined on crutches. I yelled, cheered, stood and followed the play the whole game, and got mad and frustrated when we lost a close game. I wasn't mad so much that we lost because we didn't execute when we should have; there are consequences for not practicing. But what really ticked me off is that the other team had promised that they would play dirty even as we said we wouldn't. In the days leading up to the game, they alternately trashed us and blamed us for being too intense - ruining the fun of the game. We didn't play perfect, but we did not intentionally rip shirts and grab throats in the name of flag football.

So I'm sitting here going, "God, I'm really not mad about the score; I'm mad about the injustice of them not playing right and bragging about it." I sat still for a minute, then the conviction muscled its way through my self-absorption and anger.


Yeah, they could have played a cleaner game and been better sports about the whole thing. Yeah, they messed up. But if I'm getting mad about the injustice of a single football game, my priorities and convictions are way out of whack.

Injustice? Slavery is injustice. Robbing the widowed and orphaned is injustice. The sex trade is injustice. Little kids forced to make firecrackers at the risk of getting blown up just so they can eat scraps is injustice. Abortion is injustice. Sharia law is injustice. Starvation of third world countries is injustice. Football? Not so much.

Sometimes I feel I'm drowning in my own shallowness.

God, transform my mind. Give me eyes to see and a heart to feel the things you do. Give me passion for the things that really matter.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Earth Day? Really?

So, it's Earth Day today. Google told me so...

I much prefer The Patriot Post's take on today:

In all seriousness though, extreme environmentalism is endangering lives in the interest of saving trees from global warming. Articles here at National Review and here at The American Spectator give really disturbing facts.

Every 30 seconds a child dies of malaria. DDT is the most effective force against malaria, but millions have died since it's elimination; however, the birds are doing great, since DDT didn't hurt them in the first place.

Biofuels are depriving third-world countries of food, as more and more crops go to support the environment while starving the people.

Percentages of fatal car wrecks have increased with the restricting standards for fuel emissions.

I believe in good stewardship. God created the earth and gave man the responsibility and authority to oversee it. However, most importantly, God entrusted us with the Great Comission and the charge to share the gospel and show people the way to redemption and healing and salvation. The souls of people created in the image of God are more important to me than the well-being of trees and eagles.

Here's another thing: I believe the best way I can help the earth/environment is to spread the gospel to all nations. "First the gospel must be preached to all nations, and then the end will come." "Creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed."

Newsflash: This earth wasn't meant to last forever. The curse of sin has taken it's toll on everything. It is in Christ Jesus that all things will be made new. The best thing I can do to 'save the planet' is to lead people to Jesus Christ, speed the Day, and look forward to the creation of the New Heaven and New Earth.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Home - random thoughts

My grandmother went home to be with Jesus last night. It was time, and I'm glad she's Home; at the same time, I'm still sad and I grieve. But we do not grieve as those without hope.

An oft used phrase around here as of late has been, "We look to heaven. Our hope is in heaven." (Clarification: this concept of heaven is not about it being a cool place, but rather, it is the very presence of God.)

Along with Ted Dekker, Bodie and Brock Thoene are my favorite authors. This week I was reading their book Seventh Day, the seventh in a twelve book series about the life of Jesus. These books are unlike any other work. They understand the historical Jewish perspective and weave amazing stories into a wealth of Scripture insight.

In Seventh Day was the coolest scene I've read in a long time. Abel, son of the widow at Nain, and Deborah, daughter of Jairus of Capernaum, were raised from the dead by Yeshua (Jesus) at different occasions. But here they meet and talk about the things they both experienced.

Abel: "There were many who I knew must be from of old. Though I can't name them, they seemed as though I knew them from my Torah studies...But the first one I met was my father. ...[my father was in] a garden...such color!"

Deborah: "Yes, I was in the same place. The garden. Flowers! Such fragrance! No thorns! Waterfalls so high I couldn't see the top. Rainbows. Hues so deep the air hummed with the music of color. I never knew color is music. Seven colors matched seven musical notes. But all with different shades and voices. Reds and blues and greens, a thousand pitches of every color. I can't explain it. I try, but I can''s so...."

They laughed and huddled with heads close together. They seemed to me like old friends meeting unexpectedly on a lonely and distant shore. They rejoiced as they remembered the familiar sights and sounds of their much loved home. In this case heaven was home. This present world was the strange and distant shore to which they had returned.


I've been looking at I Corinthians 15 lately. Amazing chapter, all about the Resurrection. I'm sure I'll bring this up again soon...

Oh yeah, Happy Patriot's Day! It's the anniversary of the day 'twas fired the shot heard 'round the world. My favorite source for political news/commentary is, and they've got some cool stuff on this.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Victory in Going Home

It's been busy the past several weeks. I had surgery on my ankle/leg about a week ago. The doctor said it was a bad break and complicated for surgery, more so than he had anticipated. See, I have this philosophy that I try to apply to all areas of my life, including major injuries: "If a job's worth doing, it's worth doing well."

My grandmother saw her 88th birthday yesterday, an event we weren't sure would happen, even as recently as two days ago. Several times within the past year, and many times over the past five years, she has been very close to death. Each time, however, she has bounced back, regained her strength, and moved on - earning the title "Energizer Bunny." She has resilient strength that just keeps going and going. About six months ago, she first began to mention her longing to go home to heaven. Yet she fought through pneumonia and massive internal bleeding to recover, rehab, and regain her former strength. Now, though, we're coming to the end. Fluid-filled lungs and aspiration lead to imminent respiratory failure.

Though we are all grieving, we know she has had a long, full life. Through tremendous hardship, she has always displayed amazing strength and joy. It is her witness that has led two of her kids to be pastors, and a third involved in church leadership. Because of her witness, her kids and grand kids are serving God. Several times my grandmother has stared intently at the ceiling, raising up in bed and extending her arms. When asked, "What do you see?" she strongly replied, "Jesus! I see Jesus...He's right there." She's ready to go Home.

I will miss her more than I know how to express. Yet I know she will be with Jesus, free from the constant pain she has known for years. When we celebrated her birthday Tuesday night and said our rather final goodbyes, I repeated my favorite farewell message. "I love you, Nanny, and we'll see you soon." Perhaps stupid semantics, but I didn't want to say "goodbye." Death is not the end; heaven, eternity with God, is coming soon and forever. Nanny will join the great cloud of witnesses, the saints who have gone on before, but it is not permanent separation. Joy and longing for heaven, for the presence of God, should give us hope and spur us on as we live day to day.

When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory." "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the Law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. I Corinthians 15: 54-57