Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Year Long Gift Giving.

It's commonly accepted in my family that I'm the Christmas-monger and present-hoarder. This usually results in jokes and banter and most recently a shirt proclaiming "tis the season... to give me presents!" I take these all in stride, because I know it's in good fun, and I'll be long dead before those jokes let up. I just try to roll with the punches on this one.

I do freely admit that gifts and gift-giving is my love language. I won't try to justify why it means so much when someone gives me something; it just does. But as I pulled on my new Christmas shirt, thinking about how I would never actually wear it outside the house (where people wouldn't know to laugh), I started to wonder how God would use something that appears as pure selfishness to further His kingdom. These thoughts birthed this post.

I haven't talked through this blog much about my desire to start a homeless ministry, but I truly believe that my love language matches perfectly with the passion God has given me to minister to the homeless. Everything that I do through this ministry will be an offering of my time, services and material goods to meet the needs of those who lack the means to provide for themselves. Essentially, my ministry is like giving gifts, material, tangible gifts. Books, hot coffee, a blanket... all these things are meaningful and essential to what I hope to offer the homeless. And because I can't get enough of showing love through giving, I am more than happy to give God's love as the ultimate offering of compassion and care.

While I may get pestered about my love of giving and receiving, I can't actually complain, for it is God who allows me so much joy through expressing love that way. Also, I don't think in a ministry for the homeless a lack of joy towards giving is ever a bad thing.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

"How firm a foundation..."

Throughout the Old and New Testament, Christians are told to "stand firm." Whether we are withstanding attacks from the Enemy or remaining strong within the bonds of Christian unity and love, we are constantly reminded that "standing firm" is something we're supposed to be good at.

I've never wondered how I'm supposed to stand firm; the power and strength to do so never crossed my mind. I've just always recognized the blessing of God battling Satan for me (while I'm attempting to stand firm). I always acknowledge the true blessing this is to the weak and weary saints. While reading Isaiah this morning, I finally discovered where and how we're to do all this standing.

"Unless your faith is firm, I [God] cannot make you stand firm." -Isaiah 7:9b. What a realization this is! My faith is to be the foundation for withstanding Satan's attacks, my foundation for love and the unity of believers, but best of all, God is allowing and making me stand firm. The faith required of us is enough to simultaneously soften our hearts and strengthen our stance.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Interesting Thought...

While last summer I took New Testament Literature online through Bryan, I hardly read all that I should have and passed with flying colors. This summer I'm working as a receptionist for a moving company; in my spare time I take out my Bible and read (who is seriously going to tell you to NOT read your Bible when you live and work in the South?). God has blessed me in a way I would've never imagined; while I was blessed with a job to work with fun, enjoyable people in a relaxed atmosphere, He has also provided large amounts of time for me to sit and rest in His Word. I've probably read more of the New Testament in the month I've been at work that I have on my own time in a while.

Also, whenever I go to the gym (which is basically everyday), I am always reminded to use the time on the treadmill to be praying. Everything else just quiets down; it's just the air I'm breathing and my prayers to God. I count myself honored to have God provide these times for me to use to draw closer to Him.

God is growing and teaching me what it really means to use the time He gives us wisely. More than ever this summer, I am really starting to see how He orchestrates the way we live in order to give us the choice to draw near to Him in love and faithfulness or to toss aside those opportunities He gives.

Just pray that I'll wisely use time for my thesis, too!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

A Better Explanation...

So I have given weak and pitiful reasoning for my general disdain for contemporary Christian music (ccm). Here's my attempt:

Much of the time, I feel like an emotion-based approach to worship is adopted for CCM; I would much rather sings psalms or songs of scripture (for example, Jon Foreman's "House of God, Forever" or "Instead of a Show") because there is nothing to compare with using Scripture to worship God. As John Rippon's 1787 hymn says:

"How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?"

I don't want my passions to be the seat from which my worship rises, for the heart is full of deceit. Also, I desire the music I listen to provoke in me a conviction to live a more godly, holy life. If I am not praising God in my worship, I want the song I hear to be encouraging and challenging me to live a life that praises Him. I don't want some stupid, flighty song about how good I feel when I worship God.

Lastly, I'd just really like for it to be good music. I know there are plenty of exceptions to a lot of these things, but mostly (along with the majority of my generation) I desire honesty, truth, and sincerity that goes beyond upbeat tempos and cheery lyrics. I do believe that is why much of my generation longs for the depth and beauty of hymns rather than the emotional experience we often find in CCM today.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

"Death in His Grave" by John Mark McMillan

"Though the Earth Cried out for blood
Satisfied her hunger was
Her billows calmed on raging seas
for the souls on men she craved

Sun and moon from balcony
Turned their head in disbelief
Their precious Love would taste the sting
disfigured and disdained

On Friday a thief
On Sunday a King
Laid down in grief
But awoke with keys
Of Hell on that day
The first born of the slain
The Man Jesus Christ
Laid death in his grave

So three days in darkness slept
The Morning Sun of righteousness
But rose to shame the throes of death
And over turn his rule

Now daughters and the sons of men
Would pay not their dues again
The debt of blood they owed was rent
When the day rolled a new

On Friday a thief
On Sunday a King
Laid down in grief
But awoke holding keys
To Hell on that day
The first born of the slain
The Man Jesus Christ
Laid death in his grave

He has cheated
Hell and seated
Us above the fall
In desperate places
He paid our wages
One time once and for all"

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Musing on death

What they can see
in my final moments:
Strangers, doctors, friends, family
turned away
for a brief moment
to steal a glance at a screen.
The once-steady beeping
gradually slows and wears out.
They believe this screen
will show them what their
minds yearn to believe:
That my heart still beats with
the rhythm of life.

What they cannot see
in my final moments:
I behold
what my eyes longed
to confirm
my heart knew all along.
My heart no longer beat
for the life this world
could offer me.
My heart beats to the eternal
song of heaven --
A song my heart
continues to sing.

Written almost one year prior to this day.

You do all things
in seasons:
sowing, growth,
pruning, reaping.
Toil hard, You who
eternally cuts away
the dead in

Let my life be
as a garden.
Annual sin covered
With perennial mercy,
Perennial goodness --
Returning year after year.

You replace the hard soil
of my soul
with that which
to blossom
into a fragrance
pleasing to you,
My Gardener.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


Tonight in my evening class, my friend Joseph and I wrote some haiku. I would be delighted to share them with you, because they're just down right funny.

Crazy crazy snakes
Tangled 'round my sweaty feet --
No . . . just your fingers.

They stepped into what?
God! Too many lima beans!
The ones I threw up.

Specifically fruit
of the loom -- it is the best.
Chafe free yet so snug!

So, these are just a few of the enjoyable quips and quibbles that entertained us during class. I promise I did learn quite a bit. You could quiz me, and I'd pass!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Yesterday morning, while attempting to pray and actually just voicing a bunch of worries, the clause "be still, oh my heart" came to mind. I could not place where the clause was originally from, but I figured that five semesters of literature survey courses gave me ample excuse to justify my forgetfulness. Surely it had been in some great poem that I had merely misplaced my mind! While I should have been answering daily homework questions for Brit Lit, I instead typed "be still, oh my heart" into Google.

Numerous options to satiate my desire for context sprung to the top of the results list: a song by The Postal Service, one by Sting, and a few vague and unliterary references to Victorian poetry. None of these sounded quite right. But, because I like The Postal Service, I was satisfied to consider my quest done. I walked away from the computer (still worrying), but humming the tune to a good song.

Later the same day, chapel was a worshipful celebration of the Ressurection. After singing a few songs, I notice that the following song is "Be Still My Soul." Suddenly it made sense that God didn't want me to worry about the condition of my heart; rather, God desires a peaceful and still soul, and the heart and its flighty emotions should then follow suit. I am not called to worry about the condition of my heart, for God cares immanently more for the care of my soul -- the eternal part of me that is to mirror my Lord.

My prayer must be a cry for the stillness and peace of my soul rather than the stillness of the passion-driven heart.

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Glutton of Grace

Gluttony and self-control. How often we hear those two paired, but I always seem to think that self-control is a way to regain ground lost to the inner glutton. Oh! I just ate an entire chocolate cake! I must regain self-control and go run 10 miles! But I think there is a better way to prevent that deadly sin to make a mockery of the work God is performing in and through us. Gluttony is, as its root, a willingness to replace all desire and want with the pleasure derived from a certain thing.

But God gave us a world full of pleasures! Are we not to enjoy the cocophony of wonders He happily bestows? Of course we are, and we are to enjoy them to the fullest. But the Psalmist writes in the 44th psalm we are to "boast in God continuously, [ . . . ] and give thanks to [His] name forever." If we are truly living with a thankful heart, the desire for anything more than God gives will be completely unnecessary. The thankful heart continuously praising our good God will be in rapturous joy for the things already given and the promises for the blessings to come.

Such a heart only desires to feast itself on the grace and goodness of a loving God. Rather than worry about how to regain the already lost self-control, temper the hedonistic passions on the goodness and love from our pleasure-loving Lord.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Written for my good friend, the writer.

Turning slowly, the blade gently grinds
Cutting an edge that could easily kill.
Lead obeys fingers causing friction at will,
Forcing thought from frantic minds.

Turning rapidly, the pages we spew.
Clearing the mind in attempt to convey,
But it all comes out jumbled, and to our dismay
The eraser removes marks but never the rue.

Turning wearily, as others think us daft
We write like hell to regain control
My skill since departed, the piece lost its soul.
Inspiration seems naught, we have only craft.

Turning gracefully, my thoughts to you
Whisper a prayer for the writer within;
Knowing our struggles are closely akin.
Espouse courage for the sake of virtue.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Low Pain Tolerance

The past few times I've listened to Dr. Impson teach, the theme of suffering has come up. Whether lecturing on Alfred, Lord Tennyson's "In Memorium" or talking in CLF about her own struggle with pain, it has brought me to tears every time. Suffering is something that everyone naturally hates to experience, but for some reason, it really -- I mean really -- shakes me up.

For the past few years, I've struggled with the tension between being one who's heart breaks for the things God's heart breaks for and one who is able to do something about it. It's been hammered in my head that crying doesn't solve anything; then why do I do it?! Why does my heart break so easily for the widow in the orphan, when we were called to "look after the widow and the orphan in their distress," but James never offers crying for them a viable option.

Maybe we need criers to soften the hearts of others, to make them aware of the pain they blindly walk past. I mourn the pain of the widow and orphan; my heart aches for their suffering. I just need a way to not feel so helpless. I need a partner in my quest for change, one who holds the stature to make the dominoes fall. Maybe tears help weaken the hard heart of the first domino. But I place my confidence in the hope that I have the ultimate Domino-Pusher upholding me.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Wrote this a while ago...

A light held fast to the corner of a cabin illuminating everything in its small world. Many creatures were in awe of this light, and some even tried to go close to the source. Insects buzzed and flew straight up to the lighted glass. What audacity to go poke and prod in order to find the source! Trying to overcome a substance they knew nothing of, their bodies continued to press hard against the glass. These bugs could very easily spend their lifetimes searching for a way through the glass veil and never find the source of the bright warmth. About a yard away on the cabin wall, a leaf-bug simply sat. He sat and enjoyed the light; he did not struggle with the complex issues other insects were wrestling with. He sat in the light, in its warmth and stayed there. He was content not knowing all of the answers the other bugs wanted; the leaf-bug knew that from where it rested in the light, others could look upon its beautifully crafted legs, head, and wings. They could marvel at the power of the light to illuminate such intricacies. It would not be long before others were drawn to sit and rest with him beneath the warm-lit world of the light.

Sit and enjoy; cease striving and know that even in resting in Him glory is still brought to the Light.