Month: April 2015

Why?

Isaiah 55:8-9

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways
and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

2 Corinthians 4:17

“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us
an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”

When something ‘bad’ happens, when we experience pain or suffering, we—as humans—often ask “Why?” We ask, “Why me?” We ask, “Why now?” But it’s usually a rhetorical question. We think we’ve been dealt a bad hand, and that our suffering is somehow unjust.

Sometimes Christians, myself included, suggest that we should instead ask, “Why not?” or “Why not me?” After all, the Bible never suggests that Christians will be shielded from suffering. And I think it’s fine to reframe those questions, but it occurs to me that asking “Why?” can actually be helpful. Not in the way that we often ask, but in a way that is seeking a loving answer from God.

God has a reason and a purpose behind everything we go through, whether our suffering is due to our own sin, someone else’s, or God’s greater glory. So if we ask, “Why? What is God trying to accomplish through this trial?” then I believe it changes our perspective. We can begin to imagine all of the good that may come from what seems bad at the moment. What we imagine may not come to pass, and the fact is that we may never know or see the answer on this side of heaven. But we can know and trust that God is good, and that the answer—when we finally receive it—will prove our trials justified.

Bucket Lists

Ephesians 3:20

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

I don’t know about you, but my bucket list is CRAZY! There are the things I’ve already done—skydiving, bungee jumping, and shark diving, to name a few. And there are the things that I hope to do—lava diving in Hawaii, ice diving in Antarctica, performing in a flash mob (or at least being there when one breaks out), donating a kidney, adopting a baby, competing on Dancing with the Stars….and so many more. I don’t have any idea if any of these things will ever happen. But the fact that I can imagine them, and dream about them actually happening, says something to me. It gives new meaning to the fact that God’s plans for me—now and for eternity—are more ambitious, more exciting, more spectacular than any of the dreams I have for myself. You see, because of all of the outlandish things that I CAN imagine, the thought of the unimaginable and unfathomable is infinitely exciting to me.

The thought makes me want to dream big, for my future here on earth—the ways God might use me to help fulfil His purposes here; and for my eternal future—the ways that God is waiting to one day amaze me with how out-of-this-world heaven is. And He wants to amaze you, too. So be there!

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To DO Great

Proverbs 11:2
“When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.”

 Proverbs 16:18
“Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.”

 I confess, I have some big dreams. I want to do great things for my family, the world, and the Kingdom. And I believe that it is God who has given me these dreams. You can probably relate. After all, we all want to be a part of something great. But it’s hard to do that without also wanting, on some level, to BE great. We seek credit for our work and good deeds; we want recognition for our accomplishments.

So for me, a fear that creeps in is that if I do all of the things I hope to do, I may begin to seek some of the glory for myself. I can’t help but realize that Satan delights in this insecurity. When we fail to act or to obey God because we are afraid of our potential to become prideful, we render ourselves useless. For him, it doesn’t get any better than that. So I’m constantly asking myself, “What are some ways to seek a great and meaningful mission and calling, without also becoming prideful? How do I remain humble?”

But as I write this post, I realize that I’ve already answered my own question. Did you see what I said at first? I want to do great things. But maybe it isn’t about me doing great things. Maybe it’s about GOD doing great things through me. After all, God’s M.O. is to use ordinary people and ordinary things to reveal His glory. HIS glory. Not ours. Not mine.

God, we ask that YOU will do great things in and through us. But as you invite us to join you in your work, please help us to always remember, in everything we do, to give you all the glory and all the honor. For you are worthy!

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Doubt, Grumble, AND Obey

Joshua 6:20
“When the trumpets sounded, the army shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet,
when the men gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed;
so everyone charged straight in, and they took the city.”

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Earlier this year, I heard Bianca Olthoff (IF:Gathering 2015) speak on the story of Joshua 6, wherein the Israelites conquered the heavily fortified city of Jericho by marching around the city’s wall. Bianca stated at that the Israelites who marched around Jericho were obedient and didn’t doubt or grumble. But I’m not sure that’s scripturally accurate. The account in Joshua 6 doesn’t tell us one way or the other, but we could surmise from this group’s past behavior (on the banks of the Red Sea, out in the wilderness, and on and on) that at least some of them were grumbling and doubting—even if only under their breath or in the privacy of their own hearts.

And I’m not sure that’s necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes we can obey through our doubt and grumbling. I feel like, at times, this is the truest form of obedience. When we recognize that God’s ways and thoughts are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:9), and we follow without knowing where He will lead us, that is true obedience. When we confess to the Lord in humility, “I do believe; help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24), that is true obedience. When we accept suffering graciously, in spite of our utter confusion (Job 42:1-6), that is true obedience.

When you understand why and you have full faith, it’s easy to obey. How much more meaningful to obey when you don’t understand, when you have only a mustard seed of faith? I think that’s more likely what was going on beneath the walls of Jericho. And I imagine that’s what often goes on in our own lives. And when we feel defeated and hopeless, we too can respond like so many of the saints have before us. We can doubt, grumble, AND obey.

The Race

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Hebrews 12:1

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us…”

Run the race with perseverance. Other translations replace the word “perseverance” with the word “endurance,” indicating that this verse is not referring to a sprint. Instead, it’s a cross-country endeavor. Think of it as a marathon. Today, as Christians around the world celebrate the freedom and forgiveness we have in Christ, our family is celebrating the completion of Chris’s 36th lap of this marathon called life.

As with any race, this life is filled with ups and downs, ins and outs. This past lap has been filled with smiles and laughs, friends and family. But it has also been filled with mundane routines, tired mornings from sleeping in a bed full of “snuggle puppies” (a.k.a. toddlers), and—most recently—POTTY TRAINING!

But through all of it, we’re in it together. Patrick, from Marathon Nation, states that “there’s no doubt that having a companion to share your miles can help breathe the life back into your training. From sharing a few laughs to pushing your limits, the right running partner will help you grow as a runner” (http://www.marathonnation.us/marathon-training/running-with-a-partner/).

So, to Chris: I am honored to run beside you through all of the joys, celebrations, expectations, uncertainties, challenges, disappointments, and setbacks that we face in this life. And I think, as we sit on our porch sipping lemonade another 36 laps from now, we’ll look back at all of these milestones, and we’ll see that all of them have been blessings. Happy birthday!

Wicked Cool Scars

Romans 5:8

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:
While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” 

I always tell people that our son Tijge is curious, adventurous, and fearless—and therefore dangerous. So we were sure that he would be the first one to visit the urgent care office for an injury. But alas, it was his little firecracker of a sister who first graced them with her presence. And thus, the hashtag #WickedCoolScars was born. Because, let’s face it—scars are cool. The only thing that would make her scar cooler is if she had an awesome story to go with it. That is, some story other than the “Monkeys Jumping on the Bed” plot line that actually transpired on the evening in question. After all, who wants a permanent reminder of that time when you didn’t listen to your mom, or your dad, or your brother, or the fictional doctor who kept telling Momma, “NO MORE monkeys jumping on the bed!”?

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Tomorrow, we’ll remember the infliction of several scars that Christ endured on our behalf. Unlike one Laredo Jade, His scars came through no fault of his own. Instead, he bore my sin, shame, and punishment—and yours. But you know what I believe? If someone were to ask Jesus about those scars on His wrists and His side, He would reflect not on the pain or ridicule He experienced, not on the sense of abandonment that He felt, but instead on the reward He obtained for His sacrifice.

I believe that He thinks about you and me, and everyone else whose eternity was altered through His suffering, and I think He breathes a sigh of peace and relief. Every cut, bruise, and hateful remark—all of it—was worth it. You were worth it. I was worth it. And I have no doubt that He would do it all over again in a heartbeat. Praise the Lord, though, He will never have to, for it is finished. And that gives us cause for joy, gratitude, relief, comfort, peace, and purpose.

Now, if you ask me, those are some wicked cool scars.