June 4, 2015

You are for me.

[The gospel of justifying faith means that while Christians are, in themselves still sinful and sinning, yet in Christ, in God’s sight, they are accepted and righteous. So we can say that we are more wicked than we ever dared believe, but more loved and accepted in Christ than we ever dared hope — at the very same time. This creates a radical new dynamic for personal growth. It means that the more you see your own flaws and sins, the more precious, electrifying, and amazing God’s grace appears to you.] Tim Keller

Father thank you that you are faithful to always welcome me back, that you forgive every time I get caught up building my own kingdom, with my own version of the gospel. Forgive me for being quick to speak and slow to pray. I pray that you would give me your heart for people, that I would seek to kill the selfishness that slowly tightens it’s grip on my heart. Untangle me from the strings of pride, that the enemy would have no control of my movements, like a puppet that’s had it’s strings cut. Give me confidence that you love this broken, wobbly mess. Help me understand the reality that you are for me, that you sent your son to die in my place in order that I would be saved. Me. Allllllll of me. 

I want to be someone who understands the gospel, and lives in the glorious light of it. I want to be someone who understands, and lives in light of my new identity, “more loved and accepted” than I could ever imagine. I want that reality to transform how I view other people. I want to be an advocate of grace, an encourager and someone who forgives and moves forward with the hope of restoration. So often I fail at one, or multiple of those realities. I’m quick to speak, hot headed and offended. I’m too rushed to see another perspective, and too eager to fix everyone's problems. I’m eager to give an opinion, and quick to be harsh. This does not build up, this doesn’t cherish, this doesn’t celebrate the gospel, this doesn’t glorify Christ. However through this failing, God's grace appears "precious electrifying and amazing." This is my hope, this is my anchor, this is my motivation. 

[But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.] 2 Cor 12:9

January 2, 2015

Why do we hate cutbacks?

[There are darknesses that we have all walked through, or are walking through, or will walk through — and the only thing that makes walking through the darkness possible is that God walks through the darkness with us. The most frightening reality becomes not the darkness, but being separated from God in it. We don’t want to lose him, to turn from him, to go cold. Apostasy becomes the real hell, not our suffering. So we pray, simply but fiercely: God, no! Don’t let it happen. Before I would forget you, before my heart would ice over, take away my livelihood and seal my mouth shut. That is a passionate prayer, and it’s one we should pray. But we shouldn’t pray with this kind of passion only because God is our greatest treasure — and we can’t imagine a worse reality than forgetting him — but also because we know that God won’t let us forget him] Jonathan Parnell

It happens every once and a while, my last fast was July and August, it was music. The act of removing things from my everyday life isn't because the things are inherently bad- but because my heart is inherently broken, and until that day Jesus returns my head and my heart are prone to wander. The truth is they love to wander. They love to seek out immediate things to satisfy or give me a sense of purpose. Family, friends, relationships, people, music, achievements, ability, or social media. Pick your poison. 

[A Christian without meditation is like a solider without arms, or a workman without tools. Without meditation the truths of God will not stay with us; the heart is hard, and the memory is slippery, and without meditation all is lost.] Thomas Watson 

Lately my head and my heart have been so surrounded I feel as if i'm drowning beneath the weight of it all, but not with anything I need. I'm being drenched constantly, by so many different sources but they don't ever fill. It's like trying to fill up a water balloon with a fire hydrant. The balloon is indeed surrounded by water- but it is not filled. That has been me. I'm drowning in overstimulation and keep up appearances. I'm tied to my phone, rephrasing things in my mind into 140 characters to make an accessible tweet. I'm picturing my next instagram and reading the best reviews. I'm mediating friendships and arguing about (insert your topic). I'm attending dinners, and checking boxes. I'm designing stages for church. Booking classes and planning semesters. I'm everywhere except with Jesus. And I've been feeling it. Tweeting isn't bad, FB isn't bad, Instagram is fun. Dinner parties are a gift. iMessage is a life-saver for far away friendships. But my empty heart is drowning. A strange combination that is demanding some change. So January is starting a month of cutbacks. Not for cutbacks sake but in order to make room for what Jesus will say, and what he'll have me do. 

["God, this much, don’t let me forget you.” It isn’t a flashy prayer, but it’s passionate, and I need more of its kind in 2015.] -Jonathan Parnell 

That's my prayer. It isn't flashy- but it's important and it demands action. 

October 10, 2014

I’ll be praying. Really? Are you actually?

In so many Christian’s lives and certainly in my own, “I’ll be praying” has become a more spiritual sounding, “I’m thinking about you”. We don’t say, “I’m thinking about you" because we know we have something much more powerful than our own lackluster thoughts. We have the God of the universe we can come to and plead with. And honestly that kinda trumps any lameo world offer you can offer. Here try this candle- it relieves stress. No thanks. But also I think we say, “I’ll be praying” because it’s a habit, it’s Christian culture and it sounds good. It’s sometimes the only thing you can say. 

But here’s the problem....we say “I’ll be praying” in substitution for “I’m thinking of you” and we don’t actually do anything but think about that person. Maybe a shot gun prayer a time or two though out the day. But we’re certainly not pleading. Not wrestling. Not calling out. Not lifting up. Why? 

Time. We’re living in a season of hyper-speed all the time. We only have time for shotgun prayers. We know Jesus knows the desires of our hearts, then surely he knows we want ____ to be healed. Or ____ to find a job. If all we have time for is little shout outs for strength or healing we can actually limit ourselves from experiencing the real power of prayer. 

I love looking at the Psalmist who looks like he had nothing but time as he writes and writes and writes prayers of petitions to his Father. He prayed them because he believed in who he was praying to. Are we afraid to pray because we’re afraid of what will or worse what won’t happen? Praying is a humbling act of recognizing the complete sovereignty of God in your life and the lives you’re praying for. 

But here is the kicker.... that shouldn’t make us uncomfortable. If it does we’re not spending enough time with Jesus. There it is again, time. We don’t have time to spend with God, so we don’t really know who we’re praying too. The more time you spend with your Saviour the more natural prayer becomes. It almost flows out of you. You see him as living, powerful, sustaining, loving, sovereign and perfect. That’s a God you want to pray to. 

[Father forgive the way I selfishly choose to use my time. Forgive me for not believing in the power of prayer and abusing the comfort of it without pursuing a deeper understanding of it. Father make me praying person, convict my heart and give me a burden to pray for the people you’ve placed in my life. Lord make my sometimes daunting daily prayer cards feel like Christmas morning. Because this time isn’t about me asking for things but rather unique communion time with you. Give me ears to hear and eyes to see you moving. It’s because of your son that I can come boldly before you and ask anything. You’re committed to teaching me to pray, and because of that promise I have confidence to come fumbling before you this morning.]

Lord, I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart
You're the One that guides my heart

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

Where sin runs deep Your grace is more
Where grace is found is where You are
And where You are, Lord, I am free
Holiness is Christ in me

(Lord, I need you. Matt Maher)

September 16, 2014

When all of you wants to be all out.

I know Jesus is enough for me. I know his word is true. I know his grace is sufficient and his character is faithful. I know he created me and knows every small detail of my life. I know he sent his one and only son to die a criminals death so that I might spend eternity with him. I know he's called me to live in the good of that. I know he's leading my every step and that the sea doesn't come an inch higher than he allows it. 

"He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed" (Psalms 107:29). 

I know his word is alive and it meets me in my need and is comfort for my weary soul. 

"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28).

 I know He tells me come, confused, broken and tired to his table and feast. I know that one day I'll be in heaven remembering this moment, thanking him that he was pulling me in closer to himself. But how can I know and not feel? 

I think this is a problem for a lot of christians. Life in the trenches gets hard to live. We know we're fighting a battle and we know sometimes you loose the battle to win the war. We know Jesus never promised an easy, trouble free life, but we're tired, broken and feeling empty. The thing I'm realizing the more I know but don't feel is that my lack of feeling is only a symptom of a lack of time spent with him. 

"They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them" (Ephesians 4:18).

When you love something you invest in it, you spend time with it, you love it. You don't dread time in proximity to it, and you constantly want to learn more about it. Often this doesn't describe my relationship with Christ. He's not the dearest thing to me, I'm not spending time with him, then I wonder why he feels like a distant, unfeeling Father? But he hasn't changed, only how I feel about him changes. This is beautiful news for someone like me because I know how much my feelings change about everything else. I have what people like to call a "all or nothing" personality. I'm all in or I'm all out.

Being "all in" when you feeling like being all out is something that will forever be a struggle for me. My comfort and hope is that Christ lovingly tells me the only remedy against this wavering and wandering. 

 "With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments!" Psalm 119:10. 

 "And those who know your name put their trust in youfor you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you." (Psalm 9:10)

You tell me to seek you. Not just be with you, but be intentional. How I feel in the moment doesn't matter. Take ownership of my sanctification.

 "Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling". (Philippians 2:12) 

Believing these promises can only happen when I'm loving Jesus. Looking into his lovely face, and not basing my love for him on what I'm feeling.

Lord help me to be a faithful daughter of you. Help me to rejoice in and you and celebrate my adoption into your kingdom. I pray that it would define me. That your scripture would be life-giving.  I pray in the midst of trials and moments of wanting to be "all out" you would be my anchor. I pray that when "all around my soul gives away" You would be my hope and saviour. Help me to continue to fix my eyes on you. 

July 4, 2014

Just call me legalistic….sans the Beck concert.

 Sometimes the Lord smacks you upside the head. A solid backhand slap. I've heard super-christians call it a "gentle whisper" or a "stirring" from the spirit. I'll call it exactly how it felt. 
     I'm driving down the freeway and a put in a worship album I had just stolen from my dads office (thanks dad). After about three songs of singing loudly in the car I suddenly can't keep my crap together. Not because musically it's the best, or it's my favourite artist with the butter smooth vocals, or the lyrics new or clever. I'm weeping in my car on the way to school because my soul has been dry, crying out for some truth. With one push of a button I had people singing scripture to me telling about His amazing promises and pouring out truth on me. 

Oh God of power, living Word 
The One who made the stars 
Who with Your glory filled the earth 
From dust made beating hearts 
You loved us when we fell away 
Poured mercy on our souls 
And promised grace would come to save 
To loose death’s iron hold

Oh God of promises fulfilled 
The God who took on flesh 
Who did all that the Father willed 
Was humbled unto death 
You bore our cross of sin and shame 
Endured our agony 
With gladness we now bear Your name 
And worship at Your feet 

Oh God, who surely guides our steps 
Through tempests and through trials 
Our Shepherd King, Your way is best 
Though tears now veil our eyes 
Your steadfast love, our perfect hope 
Our eyes are fixed on grace 
We have no doubt You’ll lead us home 
To finally see Your face 

So after this backhand slap I started thinking, and here is what I came to... 
    I love music, I love catchy melodies, and clever lyrics, and moody arrangements. Every morning the National wakes me up, and most nights Beck puts me to sleep. Friday's are special days full of T-Swift and Katy Perry. My car has become a radio station hub that plays the latest and the greatest.
    But here is the crazy thing- if you've ever been exposed to "that kind of christian" you've been warned. You know the older man that is warning you against the "dangers" of "worldly" music? Turns out he might be crazy legalist in many ways, but he just so happened to stumble on a extreme version of a valid problem, but came to the horribly wrong solution.
    My car ride to school wasn't me just "being emotional" or "having a hard day" yesterday was actually a great day. Yesterday, in my car was the Lord breaking through something as silly and non-important as music and saying, "Hey, I have something for you in this." 
     I haven't gone full legalist on you I promise. But I've decided for the rest of Summer I'm only listening to Christian music (sans the Beck concert I already have tickets for). I never thought I would say those words. I figure on the days I get so tired of it (and I will) I can pray or memorize scripture. I think the time spent in my car which is a good portion of my day, is a time that the Lord is claiming as His. If worship music can prep and prime my heart to see and look for what Christ is doing around me then it's well worth the listen. 

Something to think about?

May 26, 2014

a vague but honest answer

“Busy!” Has been my somewhat vague but honest answer to how I’ve been lately. Sometimes I feel like it is a bit of a cop out, or a conversation dodger. But really, I’m just saving people from the details of what my latest project due is or how difficult juggling my full work schedule has been. It’s a polite question people ask, but I assume they don’t really want to hear the answer. So it’s “Busy. I’m busy.”

But really, who isn’t? Who monitors that title of 'busy'? I know lots of parents with small kids at home that are rushing from work to hockey, ballet, and birthday parties. I know other university students that have a way heavier course load then I do. Then there is emotional busyness and stress that eats up your day. There are those who’s jobs are so intense that sleeping and eating need to be scheduled or they don’t happen. I know people who are walking through a trial or suffering. Literally getting through the storms in their heads and hearts are the only things on the to do list that day- but don’t say they aren’t busy. 

Busyness doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Certain seasons, certain people, that’s where you are. Busy. It’s not wrong to be exhausted at the end of the day, looking at your crossed off to do list, deleting emails, or kissing your babies goodnight. Falling into bed tired can be a great feeling. Falling into bed discouraged is another. 

One thing I’ve found in my life is busyness fuels discouragement. A couple weeks of crazy means I’m far more likely to fiercely protective of “My time” or things done “My way”. I start to dread waking up in the morning. Mutter unkind things at my to-do list, or the person that doesn’t hold the door open for me at Starbucks. I become agitated and annoyed easily. Why? I’m busy. This semester, and if i’m being honest, the foreseeable future is probably going to be a sea of busyness for me. I only have so much control of classes, and programs, sessions and family. And that is okay. I’m in a season of busy, like so many other people. 

But I’m learning that for every season of busy, there needs to be a fresh dose of Jesus. A renewing of my assurance of pardon, a fresh look at his promises to be faithful, a realty check of his command to run with endurance. Not just to run because I'm stressed, or wait on the sidelines because I’m too tired. I'm called to run through that busyness towards the finish line he’s set out for me. 

Busyness isn’t the problem, discouragement is. Keep running, he has good for you. 
[Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.] Hebrews 12:1-2

May 18, 2014


It is my first social work class. I’m excited, a dead give away I’m fresh into my degree. Third and fourth year students look like they might fall asleep before the class has even begun. The teacher walks in and moment by moment, statement by statement I can feel myself sinking. She’s taking about politics, social justice, right wing, left wing political parties, we talked welfare and workfare. 

I left the class feeling for lack of a better word, overwhelmed. Overwhelmed not because I hadn’t heard of any of this before. Overwhelmed because usually, I tune this stuff out. I hate politics, I know politics are necessary, but I just choose to look the other way. Suddenly I’m paying for a class where I can’t look the other way. It’s in my face and it was drowning me. We looked at war, racism, abortion, welfare, poverty, globalization, morals, ethics, ideology. I was being flooded. I stumbled out of class convicted and confused. I found myself asking, do I have to have an opinion about all social topics? Does my uneducated opinion even matter? 

This morning I sat down and read part of Martin Luther Kings, Letter from a Birmingham Jail.”

“Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”

Jon Bloom writes about Dr. Kings speech...

“It’s disturbing to think that people of general good will but a shallow understanding of the plight of the oppressed, who have a lukewarm sympathy but no real vested interest in change, just might be a worse enemy of justice than aggressors. Because they do not advocate for the oppressed nor fight against the oppressor. They smile supportively to the former and practically do nothing to stop the latter. Such good will is indifference in its worst form. It has an appearance of doing justice and loving kindness but denying its power. And I have been guilty of it. I still am guilty of it, not only concerning race but many other things that come to mind. And when it comes to love, truth, and justice, Jesus does not like lukewarmness (Revelation 3:16).”
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you

but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8

Father forgive my apathetic, pathetic excuses for staying away from hot topic social issues. You certainly didn't shy away from intense conversations or awkward interactions. Father give me humility to listen and patience to understand what others are saying and where they might be coming from. Thank you that I don't have to run this Country, oh Lord I am thankful for that. Give me courage to go where you're calling me and be ready to speak when words need to be said. Thank you that you are an all knowing, all powerful God. Thank you for your patience, please make me anything but lukewarm.