Monday, May 20, 2013

What's Next?

There is no question asked more frequently of a graduate than, "So, what's next?"  Having graduated from high school, undergraduate, and most recently graduate studies, my love-hate relationship with this question has resurfaced.  It is this way for several reasons.  At first, I love the question because I feel like people are interested in my life.  My love of the question is fickle, however, and quickly turns into hate - hate because my most honest answer is, "I do not know," but I feel like I am expected to give a different answer.  I mean, I have a general idea and gut feeling for what is ahead, but I do not know specifics.  There is no flowchart or neat and tidy presentation.  Love quickly turns into hate because this incessant question uncovers fear and anxiety in the midst of an uncertain future that is buried deep within my heart.  

Graduation is a distinct transition time, which presently causes me to remember what it was like last time I graduated.  When I graduated from my undergraduate studies in 2009, I discovered a song by a favorite singer/songwriter of mine named Missy Higgins.  This song is a great expression of what I am currently experiencing (lyrics here):

In the midst of my "I do not know" is my relationship with the only God who is all knowing; with the only God who called me into the current life I am living and who alone empowers me to live it.  I am on the brink of experiencing a new level of challenges, joys, anxieties, and trust in this relationship with the living God.  I sense that one of the keys to this season of life is the fact that my life is not my own.  This is a blessing, not a curse, for I am never alone.  This also means the destruction of anything other than Jesus that gives me a false sense of control or security over my life.  Two Scripture passages come to mind as I write this:

"Blessed are those who fear the Lord, who find great delight in his commands...Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever.  They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting the Lord."  -Psalm 112:1, 6-7

"A man's heart plans his way,
but the Lord determines his steps."
- Proverbs 16:9

As many other Christians who are in similar types of transition, Abraham is a beautiful model for me in this season as well:

"By faith, Abraham, when he was called, obeyed and went out to a place he was going to receive as an inheritance.  He went out, not knowing where he was going."  Hebrews 11:8

Because Christ has called and empowers me daily, it is right to dream with Him and stand firmly not on what I know about the future, but stand firmly on the fact that I am a dearly loved child of God.  This is what life is about and each season of life is simply a different manifestation of this reality.

Savior, please pilot me (lyrics here):

Friday, March 29, 2013

"Hosanna" to "Crucify Him"

While I was doing dishes from lunch today, I started thinking about what to wear to the Good Friday service tonight.  I seem to remember some people wearing black in years past, but not everyone.  I then realized what a paradox this all is.  It parallels the crowd's behavior between Palm Sunday and Good Friday.  I will never forget how my youth pastor described it: one Sunday the crowd was shouting, "Hosanna" and the very next they were shouting, "Crucify Him!"  I remember thinking when I first heard this, "Well, maybe it was just a different group of people."

Today in front of the sink, however, I saw the paradox and war between natures in my own being.  My spirit is going tonight to mourn and recognize what Christ did for me in my sin.  My flesh is going tonight to mock and reject Jesus as my Lord and Savior, for he is not the expected King of the Jews.  One Sunday they cried, "Hosanna" because they thought Jesus would save them and be their king the way they expected and wanted Him to be.  The next Sunday they cried, "Crucify Him!" because He was not who they thought He should be.  How hidden Jesus was from them and yet they saw Him with their own eyes.  I am no different unless God gives me eyes to see.  God is most revealed and most hidden on the cross.

Thanks be to God that Jesus is who He says He is, and is not who I say He is.

"For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God...Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God."
- 1 Corinthians 1:18, 22-24

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Me or Jesus

What am I offering others?

A set of true propositions that are static and unmoved or eternal life - life to the full?

Another Christian truism comes to mind - religion or relationship?

Am I really offering relationship with Jesus to others or am I offering what I think is the only right way of understanding the Scriptures and doctrine?

There is a right way to know God - the only way - Jesus Christ.  The God-man is not frozen in time, dead except to the theologians and exegetes.

In our own lives and when ministering to others, it is all about facilitating an environment for the Holy Spirit to encounter one's spirit and for Him to speak truth and life into one's very core.  Salvation is a creation event in which God breathes in us and gives us life through His Son by the power of the Spirit.

"The woman said, 'I know that Messiah is coming.  When he comes, he will explain everything to us.'  Then Jesus declared, 'I who speak to you am he.' ... Then, leaving her watering jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, 'Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did.  Could this be the Christ?' ... Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman's testimony, 'He told me everything I ever did.' ... Because of his [Jesus'] words many more became believers.  They said to the woman, 'We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.'"
-John 4:25-26, 28-29, 39, 41-42

Truth about God cannot be received apart from the work of the Spirit.  May we invite Him to do as He wills as we speak the truth in love!

Lord, help me let you speak for yourself so that others may hear for themselves and come to know that you, Jesus, really are the Savior of the world.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Praising God

Below are some fun things God showed me while taking a class on poetry in the Bible this summer.  For me, it shows how we really need to understand the Old Testament to fully realize how beautiful, merciful, loving, and gracious the content of the New Testament is:


In the Psalms we see death viewed as separating one from God.  There was no praising God in death; it meant separation from God and the covenant community.  Romans 8:31-39 has just become all the more incredible for me in light of this, especially Romans 8:38-39:

"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers...will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Also, I am not only seeing "love" in the New Testament as agape, but also as chesed, which is the Hebrew word for God's covenant lovingkindness - His unfailing love.  This is what I trust in, not myself or anything I do.  I imitate God as one who is unconditionally, covenantally, ceaselessly, loved.

Doing from being, not being from doing.

This phrase is a life-long process that must be unpacked by Father God daily.  God is doing a work.  I do not need to know all of the intricacies of it, all the steps, etc.  How could I?  Even so, I'm sure my spirit knows more than my brain.  I guess it has to start there - that's how the Lord works - from the inside out.


I'll have some more lovely reflections later this week as I start to regularly blog again :)

Enjoy soaking in this truth if you wish as well (one of my favorite artists!):

Monday, June 18, 2012


Two artists I love talk about the joy of the process of creating music.  The end product is a fraction of the story. I find it to be a great reminder as the Lord takes me through various processes in life.

We are all artists in one way or another - enjoy the process and you will that much more enjoy the end product!

Below each video you will find some favorite quotes of mine from the respective videos that I think are musts to take with us on our journeys so that we do not miss out on what the Lord has for us along the way as well as at the end.


"Most of the process behind this work of art is the actual carving into the wood, and the final product, what everybody else gets to see, is just this thing on a piece of paper. They don't get to see the process and the beginning - all the intricate little maneuvers that actually go into creating the final product."

 "It's this really interesting process of collaboration. All of that goes on in the background in the beginning, and is really only for us to experience and to see. And in the end all that people get to see is the imprint of that, but this is the most amazing part of it for me - the carving. And I think that's really beautiful and I feel really lucky to be involved."


 "Whatever is left on the canvas when you strip it all off, that's what this record is. I love that. I love that concept of it being the sort of remainder because we sort of burned away a lot of the distractions, and it's just very raw and pure and honest."

 "I want to be that record in your ear. I want to be the sound of something that's soothing, but something that's really heartfelt and honest."

Monday, April 16, 2012

Control and Creativity

The more I release control by entrusting the Lord with more and more of my life, the more creative and free I can be!  I become less dependent on other people's reactions and the more receptive to acknowledge and express how the Lord has made me and desired me to reflect in the world His glory He has given me.

Confidence comes through faith in God and in His transforming power.

But what, after all, is freedom?  Does freedom have limits?  Currently, it seems many would say that true freedom does not have boundaries.  "Boundaries" and "limitations" are dirty words and are intolerable in many settings.  This led me to search God's Word for what freedom means:

Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup;
you have made my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance.  -Psalm 16:5-6

Such a statement about the beauty of boundaries strikes me because if anyone has the power and freedom to do literally anything, it's a king in a monarchy.

What, after all, is freedom?  Is it doing whatever you want?  Again, insight from king David:

I will always obey your law, for ever and ever.
I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts.
I will speak of your statutes before kings and will not be put to shame,
for I delight in your commands because I love them.  -Psalm 119:44-47

From a Christian standpoint at least, living in freedom means having boundaries as well.  These are not boundaries that we make for ourselves to earn God's love, rather through faith in Jesus, God gives us His Spirit to follow His ways, and thus living in true freedom:

I [God] will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you;
I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.
-Ezekiel 36:26-27

That being said, living in freedom is anything but clean cut, formulaic, and being like a well oiled machine.  It's chaotic, messy, non-linear, and relational.  We take risks, we get paint on the canvas and on the carpet, and we invest in lives that are unpredictable.  Let us not hoard our mina because we fail to realize the true nature of our heavenly Father.

"Let us live and die with God.  Sufferings will be sweet and pleasant to us while we are with Him; and the greatest pleasures will be, without Him, a cruel punishment to us."
-Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God

Speaking of messy freedom and creativity, here are two audio/visual representations that echo and add to what I've shared  above.  Check the first one out here and the second one here!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Luther, Pascal, Aquinas

"The love of God does not find, but creates, that which is pleasing to it...Rather than seeking its own good, the love of God flows forth and bestows good." -Martin Luther

"Certainty of knowledge is a long way from security of life...By thinking, by clear and distinct thinking, it is possible - perhaps - to gain conceptual certainty, but never existential security."
-Blaise Pascal

"Better to illuminate than merely to shine, to deliver to others complicated truths than merely to contemplate." -Thomas Aquinas