Friday, December 20, 2013
and so i find myself being critical when i hear of people who refuse to sing christmas songs during advent, or who will only speak of waiting for the birth of Jesus prior to december 25 and will not celebrate the reality that He is already here. but over the past few days i have also been reminded of several things. first, it isn't a bad thing to really think about and ponder what it must have been like to wait, and wait, and wait for the Messiah...for centuries...often with no word or no prophecy or no murmur of when Jesus might finally come. second, as much as i STRONGLY believe that we are to celebrate the incarnation and what that means for humanity on a DAILY basis, it isn't right to act as if the current state of the world is redeemed. we are in the process of redemption, but that process isn't finished. and so we still wait...for Jesus to come (again), and for the full consummation of redemption to be fulfilled.
and while i don't think it necessary to go so far as to refuse to sing "joy to the world" before december 25, the heart of that idea is meaningful. we do already have joy...but we don't have perfect joy. we do already have peace...but we don't have perfect peace. and we do have hope...which seems to entail that there is something we hope for. hope is something that we look toward...something in the future...something that we anticipate. and so, while i don't plan to put off celebrating the incarnation throughout the christmas season (and throughout the year), i do see value in recognizing and sitting in that tension of "already but not yet." we already have Jesus, but we have not yet seen the fulfillment of all that He has promised. we are no longer in darkness, but we have not seen the FULL light of His face.
i was reading luke 1:78-79, where zechariah is prophesying regarding john preparing the way for Jesus, and he states: "because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace." i love the part about the sunrise visiting us from on high. this speaks to the anticipation that the night will give way to the day, and the sunrise will pierce through the darkness. mankind experienced this in part with the birth of Jesus. but we still await that future sunrise...the ultimate one...when Jesus will return and will eliminate even the tiniest hint of darkness in the farthest away corners.
to those of you who are like me and who flee from tradition and liturgy, perhaps the biggest thing we need to guard against is becoming satisfied with the amount of Jesus we already have. while not rejoicing in our present salvation is wrong, rejoicing too much in how things are and consequently not longing for the hope of future redemption and full reconciliation is wrong as well. finding the balance between the two - that's the hard part. and that's where Jesus gives us freedom to figure out what works for us (so if you love liturgy and connect to Jesus through it, go for it!). for me, that means not worrying too much about religious traditions and liturgy, but yet participating in things (like lighting the advent wreath) that help me to focus on the "already but not yet" aspect of redemption. and for others, the practical applications are numerous. the important things is that, whatever it looks like for us as individuals, we live in the tension of a Savior who has already come, but also a Savior whose return we eagerly anticipate.
thank you Jesus that you already came! and thank you Jesus that you've yet to come. for this, we wait in hopeful anticipation.
Sunday, October 27, 2013
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance”
Friday, January 11, 2013
i listened from home this january to each of the eight sessions from passion 2013 in atlanta. my heart broke under the weight of the knowledge that 27 million people are in forced slavery around the world, and yet i was immensely encouraged by the fact that students around the world are committed to shining a light on this massive problem. (check out enditmovement.com).
i've been thinking a lot about my role in this fight to end slavery. one of the organizations highlighted at the conference was slaveryfootprint.org. on their website, you can take a short quiz to find out roughly how many slaves indirectly work for you. i would encourage you to take the quiz. it will probably mess you up. i took the quiz. it messed me up. the results told me that 47 slaves work for me. seriously? 47? when i read that, i just cried. i care about slavery. i want it abolished. i hate slavery. i want the slaves to be free. how on earth can i be supporting 47 slaves?
on wednesday i had a really good conversation with margaret. i shared with her my frustration over not knowing what to do. the most frustrating thing is that i don't know HOW i'm perpetuating the slavery of 47 people. perhaps there is some tiny component in my computer that was manufactured by a slave. perhaps a piece of my car was assembled by a slave. perhaps there is one ingredient in something i ate today that was harvested by a slave. i feel so helpless, because i don't know precisely how to live my life differently so as to support fewer and fewer slaves working on my behalf.
at passion it seemed that the main way people were being encouraged to do something about this problem is to raise awareness. they said that raising awareness IS doing something. which is a good thing - because at this precise moment i really don't know what to tangibly do aside from raising awareness. i would love to know how all of the components of every item i buy were acquired, made, assembled, etc. but for now that information is not available. perhaps through raising awareness, this information WILL be available in the future. i hope so. because there is one thing i know for sure...i DON'T want to contribute to 47 people being held in the bondage of slavery. i want all 27 million slaves to be free.
another thing margaret said, which is so incredibly true, is that this in not an issue i (or we) have to tackle alone. of course we have a community of people who love Jesus who are in this fight with us. but even better than that, we have Jesus himself who is in the fight with us. He hates slavery infinitely more than we do. He is all about freeing people WAY more than we are. and He is SO much more powerful than we will ever be.
so for now i guess i'll wait to hear from The One who is in control. i will pray that when He wants me to act, i'll know how to act and what to do. i'll pray that when He has a job for me to do, i'll do it diligently. i will tell people about slavery - and when i'm supposed to do more than that, He'll tell me.
for those of you who are in this fight as well, let's chat. we CAN do something, and there is most definitely strength in believers uniting with Christ and one another, syncing up our heartbeats with His.
i'm in it to end it. free the slaves.
Sunday, April 3, 2011
last weekend i went with my bff to a service with a group that i think would identify themselves as christian zionists. these are people who are gentile christians and are very focused on the land, nation, and people of israel. they want very badly for jewish people to believe that Jesus is the Messiah prophesied in the hebrew scriptures (which is awesome), but they also place enormous significance on the jewish race as God's chosen people (both in the old testament and today). they also place a great deal of emphasis on the geographic location of israel, and they believe that jewish people returning to jerusalem are vital for the second coming of Jesus. they also believe that the land of israel (jerusalem specifically) is the destiny of all believers in Christ. (please note - this is my simplistic interpretation of the beliefs of the specific group of people i observed and not necessarily a good definition of christian zionism as a whole).
i have been thinking about this a lot over the past week. it is clear that in the OT God called the jewish people out, set them apart, and established Himself as their God and them as His people. but my question is this - in light of Jesus' death and resurrection, and His clearly calling people of ALL nations, races, and peoples unto Himself, what status does the jewish race have now? OF COURSE God loves them and wants them to repent and to accept Jesus - but does God hold the jews in a place "more near and dear to His heart"? i was reading tonight in 1 peter, which is a book believed to have been written largely to gentile christians. peter writes to "those who are elect exiles of the dispersion." my study notes (in the esv study Bible) state: "Believers are not only exiles, but God's 'elect exiles.' They are his chosen people, just as Israel is designated as God's chosen people in the OT..Since the recipients of his letter were primarily Gentiles, Peter explicitly teaches that the church of Jesus Christ is the new Israel - God's new chosen people." (however, the notes also point out another view, that "these verses show that the church is like Israel but that the ultimate fulfillment of these OT prophecies pertains mainly to the future ethnic Israel rather than to the church...").
so what do you think? i definitely lean toward the view that God used the jewish race in the OT as a vessel to bring about redemption for people of all nations, but i am definitely unsure as to what i believe about the current call/role of israel today and what God has in store for jewish people in the future. are they still "chosen" moreso than gentiles, or does God's choosing "post-Jesus" have nothing to do with race and everything to do with the heart? and as a gentile believer, what should i do regarding jewish people who sadly have missed the Messiah they've been waiting and hoping for?
Monday, March 21, 2011
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Thursday, February 3, 2011
as many people are now aware, back in december i ruptured a disc in my back. i had been experiencing back pain for over a month, and i was diagnosed with a bulging disc, but on december 13 as i was getting out of bed the disc actually "exploded" (a.k.a. ruptured). i fell back into bed unable to move at all without intense pain. i called my best friend who has a key to the house, and she came and eventually convinced me that we should call an ambulance. so the ambulance came and picked me up. what i thought might be several hours in the e.r. turned into nearly a week in the hospital. there were several times throughout my stay where i was told "if you can get up, you can leave." each time i tried to muster all of my will power and pain tolerance, but i could not get up. (really, who was i kidding - i couldn't even make it to the bathroom without benjamin halfway carrying me there...i'm not sure how i thought i was gonna get up and walk out).
after several days of trying numerous drugs and other things, the doctor on the floor suggested that it was time to consider surgery. at that point, i was just thinking "do whatever you want to me, just make the pain stop." because i continued to be in so much pain, and because i was so ready for the doctors to try anything they thought would help, i didn't really consider the seriousness of the surgery at the time. we were referred by friend to a very gifted neurosurgeon, and when he said he had done this specific surgery numerous times, i wasn't really worried at all. it wasn't until a week or so after the surgery that it really hit me how bad off i was, how intricate the surgery was, and what a miracle it is that i made it through back surgery and was healed.
it really hit me when i was reading in john 5 about the paralytic man beside the pool at bethesda. a man was there who had been an invalid for 38 years. he was hoping to be healed by the pool's waters, but had no one to help him into the pool when the waters were stirred. he couldn't even move a few inches to get into the pool. i realized that i could easily have been that man. had it been another time and had i lived in another place, i could have been lying, waiting, hurting for years and years. i could not even put any weight on my left side, and i'm sure many of the limited movements i did have were because i was on so many pain killers the most intense pains were at least somewhat diminished. Jesus miraculously healed the man at bethesda. but was the outcome of my surgery any less miraculous? from what i can understand, the neurosurgeon cut about a one-inch incision in my lower back. he cut some small pieces out of the bone in my spine in order to be able to get to the ruptured disc. he cleaned out all of ruptured disc material, which was what was pushing into my nerve column and causing the intense pain and numbness in my back, leg, and foot. after cleaning out the ruptured material he somehow closed up the disc, and then closed the incision in my back. several hours after the surgery i was walking around the hospital floor, able to put weight on my left leg without much pain. i mean, seriously...how is this not a miracle? the fact that God has given people the ability to understand the nerves in my back and to make an invalid walk in a few hours is baffling. were it not for the miracle of modern medicine and a gifted surgeon, i might be figuratively hanging out by the pool at bethesda right now, hoping and praying and begging for relief from my pain and my virtual paralysis.
sometimes it is so easy to miss the miraculous in a day and age and culture where miracles have become commonplace. just because my surgery was "routine" in the world of spinal neurosurgery does not mean that a miracle does not occur every time a procedure like mine is successful. God has given some the gift of healing - and whether or not my neurosurgeon recognized it, God used him to perform a miracle in my life on december 17. in a way i feel like the man at bethesda, or the man who was lowered through the roof to Jesus...all i know is that i couldn't walk, and then a miracle happened in an operating room, and now i can walk again.
praise GOD from whom ALL blessings [and miracles] flow!
This blog is a testimony to the work that God is perpetually acting in my life. I am learning that when I think I've given enough of myself, I've barely begun. My prayer is that as God continues to grab hold of my life, not only will He become greater and I become less, but He will become ultimately supreme and I will vanish. This Holy Disappearance will be a lifelong journey in which, by the grace of God, I will become so wrapped up in Him that all of me will disappear and all of Him will SHINE