Sunday, December 27, 2009

A Little Encouragement Goodness and a few Proverbs too.

"Child, trust is unique. Do not waste it. Emotion is not consistent or faithful; fact and knowledge will not satisfy your soul. But hope and trust go beyond your head and your heart.
"When you find something trustworthy, something good, true, excellent, praiseworthy, just, pure, and consistently so, cling to it. In Christ, cling to whatever shows you God's character. Mistrust pervasively characterizes humanity, but not your own life."

"Peace, Child. You don't know what's coming. You don't even know what's happening right now. Be patient. Give it back to me. Holding onto it yourself isn't even faith. Just let me take over."

"Being honest is more than not lying. It demands that we confront all those sin-tainted aspects of our lives and at least acknowledge that we fail. We fail as friends. We don't care, we don't sacrifice, we aren't sincere, we aren't truthful. Let's not pretend like we are.
"But when I admit that I'm a failure, what pride do I have left to keep me from forgiving your flaws? We can see things as they are, take the world as it is, and in this honest light, make the most of our time on earth."

"Honesty requires understanding. We must know the meaning, consequences, and implications of our words. A fool drinks whiskey straight who doesn't know the possible effects of strong alcohol. He who judges hastily or speaks rashly or commands hypocritically is likewise a fool or an evil man."

"People should be told when they're doing something right."

"Honesty is not easy. It's the damn hardest thing you'll ever commit to live by. This is the ethic of warriors and desperate men in a world of children and beasts. The honest man is the enemy of all liars--himself included."

"We are shallow in our praise and hasty in our criticism."

"How can you 'love wisdom' and reject the goodness of humility? Humility is the most distinguishing virtue--because no one has it. The one thing that makes a man a true leader is humility. Anyone can give orders. Almost anyone can make decisions. Most people can organize and oversee. Few can admit when they're wrong, accept criticism, and listen to others with an open mind."

"In every relationship, in every pursuit, in every conversation, in every comment and word and deed, let me only edify, encourage, embolden, challenge, and build up those around me. May I never waste words that weigh others down, may I check myself against His Word to reveal and correct any error or selfishness in me. Let me never judge by my own standard but by God's and by that, all equally. May there be no deceit in me, may my words and actions proclaim His Truth before all else so that His Glory will be my witness."


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Little Bits of Information That Probably Shouldn't Interest Too Many People

First of all, I've been on a Josh Garrels kick for about three weeks. That means that he's been about 90% of all music I've been listening to. A-mazing.

Also, I bought books recently. It was impulsive and wonderful and I feel smidge guilty about it. I got A Cry Like A Bell by Madeleine L'Engle from the library for $1. WIN. Then I went to Borders with three 30% Off coupons in my hand and I took full advantage of each one. I got The Eternal Husband by Dostoyevsky, The Idea of Justice and Development as Freedom by Amartya Sen, Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer, and Life is a Miracle by Wendell Berry. I feel very, very materialistic, but it's SOOO good. I can't resist.

(Actually I made a fool of myself at the bookstore. I took a pile of books in my hands--like 9 or so--and I plopped down with my back up against a table leg and I started reading. I was mumbling to myself, sometimes increasing in volume and even blurting out my reaction to something the author said, and pretty much acting crazy. I hope not too many people were scared of me.)

And that is the lunacy that I end up in when left to my own devices.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

This Is My Life, This Is My Family.

Today has been full of random activites. I slept over at Hoags's house last night which was fabulous. She and I went to pick up a book from Borders, but they didn't have it so we went to Barnes and Noble. Now, we didn't just pick up a book. That's impossible. We spent a total of maybe two and a half hours in the book stores. It was marvelous.

This morning I drove home in a tizzy because I had left my wallet (with driver's license and debit card) at home the day before. I left Downer's Grove with probably 3/16 of a tank of gas. Thank heaven I made it home.

After I got home I rushed to the mall to meet Mom and Grandma in order to find a coat for Gma to buy me for Christmas. (Unfortunately, surprises are non-existent in the world of practical Christmas presents.) I liked the first one I tried on, but Mom said, "Try on some more!" So I did for about a half hour, then ended up buying the first one anyway.

Then I came home and made banana-chocolate chip bread.

At one point while Lara and I were watching Dirty Jobs while my bread baked I asked the brilliant and wise 13-year-old a question I've been pondering for the past few days. "Lara, is it just me, or is our family really nuts??"

Honestly, I have been wondering. For example, my dad is wonderful and extremely eccentric. Sometimes it's hard to hold a conversation with him because he has so many things going through his mind at one time that he can't focus on what's at hand. I think I'm a lot like him, actually. And he's not the only one, but my other family members read this blog. :)

But Lara's answer was, as I said, wise and brilliant. "Yes, our family is nuts." "Oh good, it's not just me," I said. "But," she said, "you're one of those nuts family members."

Yes, I know it. I'm very aware of it. My eccentricities are rather glaring. For example, I write compulsively and I talk to myself a LOT. I think if someone observed my life 24/7, they'd probably think I was schitzophrenic. Also, I am obsessive about books and knowledge and learning. I found a book in B&N yesterday that was the "Human Anatomy Coloring Book." I would have bought it if I hadn't forgotten my wallet at home. I thought how much I'd love to study A&P on the plane ride to London in two weeks.

And these are only the eccentricities that I'm actually willing to write about for all the world (at least, all of those on the world who read this blog) to know. There are more, trust me.

But Lara said something else that was brilliant and wise. "I wish everybody wouldn't try so hard to be on their best behavior so we could all realize that everybody's family is nuts." And she's so right. My family is definitely nuts, but I bet yours is too--no matter how perfect they seem.

Caroline and I went for a walk at Izaak Walton this afternoon. It was full of silliness and deep conversation and made me remember how much I love being home. We talked about eccentricities and she said that her eccentricities make her need grace from others and my eccentricities make me need to give grace to others. An accurate distinction, I think. (We also talked about her poor logic as she came to the conclusion that anything white is a toilet. Then I gave in and we gloried in the little white toilets falling from the sky. Yes, I'm serious. Yes, we were kidding.)

Anyway, there's a lot of crazy in my genes. I'd like to blame my family for my own eccentricites because they bring it out in me, for sure.

*Note: I just took a break from writing to go eat dinner with the family. Oh, heavens.

It takes a lot of grace to love them. I'm sure they give me a lot of grace, too (like when I forget my wallet at home). But as I told Caroline, the fact that our great God loves all of us in our absurdities is only a greater testament to His mercy and compassion. Who deserves such love? Who deserves such sacrifice? Not one, me least of all. And that's the beauty of it.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmassy Music

I used to be such a fan of the day after Thanksgiving because it meant two very important things: lots of leftovers, and we can finally turn on the Christmas music. I have a good collection, too. A lot of stuff from the good ole' 1990s. Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, and lots of sentimental stuff like that. Now I have Sufjan Stevens to help my holidays feel more indie, plus some Sarah McLachlan for the sappy mainstream element that no collection should be without.

And the other great thing about after-Thanksgiving, pre-December 25 days is that we sing Christmas carols in church (and chapel for the lucky 59% of us TU students who actually take advantage of that blessing we have three days a week.) But I'm a little bit skeptical of happy, "comfort and joy" Christmas songs lately. For one thing, how can we talk about peace and happiness so casually, as if snowflakes falling actually represent some calmness and quiet in the chaotic world we live in?

I've had to grapple with "Silent Night" lately. (Oh, jeez. I'm such a dork. No one talks about "grappling" with "Silent Night.") Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright. Round yon virgin mother and child, holy infant so tender and mild. Sleep in heavenly peace. I can't reconcile "all is calm" with the BBC headlines that pop up on my screen with "Charges Over Iran Prison Deaths" and something about World Cup-brand condoms in South Africa where there are 5.1 million people invected with HIV. (No, it's not funny.)

And I also have trouble with the idea that people all over the United States of materialism listen to these same songs with no concept of what Christ actually did for them. "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." (II Corinthians 5:21) "Calm and bright" makes me think of what Gandalf says to Pippin in The Return of the King. "It's the deep breath before the plunge." On that evening of starshine and angelic visitations, the heavenly realms rejoiced on our behalf, but in the realization that from that moment forth, Christ was in the territory of the enemy.

But this is also compelling. I realize that I must let the world know this, that this is our mandate: to show the world that peace and joy are not "harmony and happiness" but true communion with the one Creator who loves and finds pleasure in us.

Even so, what distinguishes a Christian Christmas? Is it merely the feeling and sensibility which we acknowledge when singing praises like "O, Come let us adore him!" Will mere reflection, though perhaps more genuine than the sentiments of a non-believer, redeem the season and songs that our culture has polluted? When you hear "Joy to the World," how will you recall the glory of what God has done?

My favorite Christmas carol has always been "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel." O Come, o come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel that mourns in lowly exile here until the Son of God appear. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come for thee, o Israel. Imagine--the Son of God came in the form of human flesh. Does the Incarnation fill you with wonder? Do you marvel at the miracle and paradox of God becoming like the traitorous creatures over which he rules from his throne in heaven? Will you sing from your soul as the carols ring out on Christmas Eve?

Thursday, December 17, 2009


I'm living in the future for a moment. Indulge me:

31 minutes until my last final of the semester begins.
25 hours until I leave TU to pick up Caroline and head home for Christmas.
10 days until Urbana.
19 days until Libby and I leave for Oxford.

My excitement cannot be conveyed through text.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

He Will Mess With You

"If God really did become man, die, and rise from the dead in order that we may participate in the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4), then there is no way that the power of the resurrection is finding its fulfillment in my life because I get a few more twinges in my belly during worship, or I learn what propitiatory atonement means."

I've been thinking about seminary again, why I think I'm going to do it, where I'll go...what do I want from seminary? what do I want from seminary?

I hate that question. I hate it because I keep asking it of myself. I hate it because I feel like I should ask it. I hate it because it's definitely the wrong question.

Does there come a point when you've learned enough? (Maybe for a time. Maybe I need to soak it in for a while.) Learning about theories of being and of God seems so pointless lately. Objectively studying apologetics does more to remove me from being a participant in the story of grace than to make it truly real to me. I look at it from the outside, see how this concept coheres with this logical argument, examine what the implications of this-and-such are on the ontological argument... and it seems so distant. When did I last realize that "that than which nothing greater can be conceived" (TTWNGCBC) is really that than which NOTHING GREATER can be conceived!!? Can my brain even understand that? Certainly not from the outside.

Lewis said in The Weight of Glory, "We do not merely want to see beauty, though, God knows, that is bounty enough. We want something else which can hardly be put into words--to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it." We are made to be participants, not observers; revelers, not merely audience members. You are the bride, not the guests. And this truth should flip your world upside down, people.

And ironically, these days my life only seems to make sense when I remove myself from the picture of it. I must get lost in the glory of His gospel and let myself wander aimlessly, exploring and enjoying the beauty of it all, the beauty of the cross, the beauty of Him.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Soft footfalls across a grassy plain
One, two, one, two drive me insane
But you remind me with a humble, loving laugh,
"To this you are called, you wanderer. This is your path."

Tonight I will leave you, tonight one more time
It may not be the last, but one can never know
I can't help but regret the hopes I leave behind
Still I walk my road, without looking back I go

But until the morning takes me I will watch you sleep, my friend
You will rise and I will cry to my God to keep you in His hand.

Monday, December 7, 2009

If I survive until Friday, these wonderful things will happen soon after that:

1. Silent Night
2. Home for Christmas!
3. Urbana Conference '09 (with Grant, Bryan, and Paul!)
4. J-term in Oxford (with Caleb and Libby!!)
5. Get to see Kari, Steve, and Hannah while in the UK!

But until Friday, taking one day at a time. Yes, one very busy day at a time.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Lighthouse Commissioning Service

In all of those old-school psychological thrillers (or maybe I'm thinking of ACME cartoons...) there's a scene when the hero is standing under a chandelier or an anvil or a bucket of boiling hot tar that is hanging by a frayed rope that will break at any moment. Well, hanging over my head right now is a sharp, 2-ton, crushing three-papers-and-a-physics-test-all-in-the-same-freaking-week. However, I feel compelled to write a quick little scribble of text in reflection on the Lighthouse commissioning service.

First of all, it was beautiful and thrilling how many people came out to encourage our Lighthouse (short-term missions) teams tonight. It's a rough week for most people (like me) but if there's one thing missionaries need (besides funding :) ) it's prayer and encouragement. The theater where the service was held was packed out, all there of their own volition and all with a passion and a heart for the importance of missions. Beautiful.

The music took on a new, tangible meaning for me, too. The "generation rising to take its place" was real, composed of my peers and friends. They cried for God to "fill my heart and make me clean, open up my eyes to things unseen. Show me how to love like you love me." They will need it. My friends will need to be filled up, to be satisfied by Christ's love when everything else is unfamiliar and maybe even frightening, and to move past their concern for themselves to see what God is showing them through images of disease, poverty, godlessness, and unrest. I hope we mean all the words we sing in chapel on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, but I know that those men and women who will represent Taylor University most certainly meant those words together tonight.

Finally, Scott Moeschberger showed me what I want my future in missions to look like. He spoke from Micah 6:8, a verse most people around here know quite well: "What does the Lord require of you? To act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God." But people the world over cry out for justice. Hamas and the IRA demand "justice." How is the Christian's justice different from the world's justice? It is motivated and dictated by the Love of Christ, the loyal, faithful, undying and self-sacrificing grace and mercy of our own dear God. And not only that, but when we give of ourselves we must do so with only Him in mind, demonstrating that we are nothing but servants of the great Judge, the one whose Truth will reign forever over the righteous and the wicked.

We speak of the "passion" of Christ on the cross. What is passion? Passion is love lived out, freely given from sacrifice and the depth of our souls. Passion is action motivated by faithfulness to the Holy Father who calls us and demands our very lives. Maybe it's easy (though I doubt it) to have passion for one month on a Lighthouse trip. But what else will you commit to your God?

This morning in church, Jason Dorsey (*sigh* my favorite) said that, yes, when you become a Christian, God will indeed require you to give up drinking or your sexual promiscuity or your gambling. But I'm sorry, that's only the easy part. GOD DEMANDS YOUR LIFE. Don't take this Christianity lightly. It goes beyond tithing or resisting temptation. When you sing, "Show me how to love like you have loved me," you had better expect Him to do that--because He will and it will hurt. It will be painful. If you turn your life over to God, He will turn your life upside down. HE WILL MESS WITH YOU.

Mercy, justice, humility, love, and passion are the road to which you commit yourself. Don't fool yourself when you try not to fear where God will take you. Don't diminish the call He has placed on your life. It will try you as the cross tried our Lord.

But know that His love and truth will be your comfort in the darkest of times. He will never lead you where He won't accompany you. He will not require of you what He did not do for us Himself. And wherever you go, even if you don't have an auditorium full of brothers and sisters to comfort you, live in the confidence that He will bless you richly for responding to His call. He will know you and you will know Him. You will be His witness and He will be your God.

Please pray for Sarah Albinson, Julie Coddington, Julie Hogan, Kayla Cange, and others who will be traveling to foreign countries in January to serve on Lighthouse teams.

Saturday, December 5, 2009


George MacDonald is wonderful. So much wisdom that I could never express in words better than his own. So please enjoy and learn from him in the spirit of humility, because if you come at him with a rock-hard heart, his words will only break you.

"No speech at my command will fit the forms in my mind." (I resonate with this.)

"You know nothing about whereness. The only way to come to know where you are is to begin to make yourself at doing something...anything. And the sooner you begin the better! for until you are at home, you will find it as difficult to get out as it is to get in."

"'What is at the heart of my brain? What is behind my think? Am I there at all? -- Who, what am I?' I could no more answer the question now than when the raven put it to me in --at--'where in?--' 'where at?--' I said, and gave myself up as knowing anything of myself or the universe."

"'You have been making a fool of me,' I said.
'Excuse me, no one can do that but yourself.'
'And I decline to do it.'
'You are mistaken.'
'In declining to acknowledge yourself one already. You make yourself such by refusing what is true, and for that you will sorely punish yourself.'"

"Life is no series of chances with a few providences sprinkled between to keep up a justly failing belief, but one providence of God; and the man shall not live long before life itself shall remind him, it may be in agony of soul, of that which he has forgotten. When he prays for comfort, the answer may come in terror and the turning aside of the Father's countenance; for love itself will, for love's sake, turn the countenance away from that which is not lovely; and he will have to read, written upon the dark wall of his imprisoned conscience, the words, awful and glorious, Our God is a Consuming Fire."

"Love loves unto purity. Love has ever in the view the absolute loveliness of that which it beholds."

"As it was love that first created humanity, so even human love in proportion to its divinity, will go on creating the beautiful for its own outpouring. There is nothing eternal but that which loves, and love is ever climbing towards the consummation when such shall be the universe, imperishable, divine."