How Story Shows Us the Way

Moses ended his ministry leading the Israelites out of Egypt and to the Promised Land with a brilliant sermon and song. When he finished the song he said, “Take to heart all the words by which I am warning you today, that you may command them to your children, that they may be careful to do all the words of this law. For it is no empty word for you, but your very life, and by this word you shall live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess.” Deuteronomy 32:46-47.

Moses had already spent the entire book reminding the people of their story. He reminded them how God had brought them “out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery” (Deuteronomy 8:14) and he reminded them of how the law is supposed to shape the people they become in the midst of people who don’t know God. It’s his time to die but the story of the people will go on. As they go, it’s important that they remember what happened before.

Living in the Age of the Internet: 2 ways to keep focus

I’ve been spending this past week working on a seminary application. Since this has moved from a dream that I’ve had for multiple years to the first steps of a goal, I’ve been hit with fear. What if they don’t accept me? What if I’ve forgotten how to be in school? What if I don’t have time to work on actual class assignments? But I’m committed to not making decisions out of fear so I’m still writing essays and asking a few people for references.

I don’t think seminar is for everyone. However, if we went around stating our wildest dreams I’d love to sit on a translation committee when I’m in my 60s or 70s. I want to learn Hebrew and Greek. I’d love to learn to fly planes and contribute to missions work. I’d like more ministry training. I’d love to do research and eventually get my Ph.D (I already have an idea for a dissertation). I want to settle down in a community, serve locally, and leave behind a lifetime of work that disciples the people I meet in real life and the ones that come after me.

Home: a space for our people

Maybe it’s because volleyball is over and I’ve cleared up time and mental space or maybe it’s because it’s getting cold outside and it’s time to start feeling cozy. Either way I have ideas for the house coming on strong.

I want to handletter a wall of Andrew Peterson lyrics in the laundry room. It’s really a hallway and there’s no way anything can be hung there so it’s just blank. Don’t you think the words to “His Heart Beats” would be incredible with the laundry and the trotting the children in and out of the house? “He rises, glorified in flesh/Clothed in immortality, the firstborn from the dead/He rises, and His work’s already done/So He’s resting as He rises to reclaim the Bride He won/And His heart beats/So crown Him the Lord of life/Crown Him the Lord of love/Crown Him the Lord of all!” Of course they would be perfect. I might fist pump the air every time I swapped the towels.

It’s Not About Me: tiny mantras that change my thinking

Sometime in my mid-twenties I learned a valuable lesson. When having a bad hair day, ignore it. Don’t apologize for the offending hair. Don’t make self-deprecating comments about it all day. Every time it comes to mind, redirect my thoughts.

I have better things to do with my brain space. If I spend my day thinking about my hair and how it doesn’t look like what I want, I’m not doing the work that God has given me. You know what I discovered? Not one other person is paying attention to my hair. They are too busy thinking about their own hair or that project at work or a tiff with a friend.

Who’s the Real Hero of the Story? (hint, it’s Jesus)

Not shockingly, I’ve been reading a book. Overall, it’s a great resource, but there’s one sentence that we should discuss. The author is noting what identifies her as a woman and how all women know they are women.

“Or that in us, was not the instinct to jump in front of a bullet for a man but to be the first warm face he saw once he fell to the ground.”

Now to be fair, this is actually in a paragraph that I disagree with as a whole. Her markers for being a woman are not true for all women everywhere; actually not one of the women in our small group identified with the whole list.

My point in writing about this is not to pick at the author. But this particular idea is actually unbiblical and we are still doing a lot of damage with the ways we talk about gender. This quote represents a Disney fairytale, a princess desiring to be rescued by a knight in shining armor. This is a woman waiting for a hero when women already have one (so do men). The hero of all stories is God, and we are called to act like that hero.

Kindness + Respect: a primer for believers

Nice is a nothing word. Sure, it has a dictionary definition but if someone tells me that my outfit is “nice,” I go change. I attempt to never tell my kids to be “nice” because what does that even mean? A lot of times I think it just means “don’t rock the boat, don’t make waves, and for heaven’s sake, don’t be the wave.” I’m almost always the wave so I don’t have a lot of space for that. I’m not interested in nice and much more importantly, God never tells us to be nice.

But I do frequently remind my boys to be kind. One of my parenting goal is teach my boys to be kind and respectful by teaching them why they should be kind and respectful. We need good reasons for the things we do; motivation can make all the difference.

Kindness, as opposed to niceness, is a characteristic that should flow out of a believer. Kindness is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). God describes Himself as kind. Psalm 145:13 says, “Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures throughout all generations. The Lord is faithful in all his words and kind in all his works.” Love is kind (1 Corinthians 13:4) and we are told to be kind to everyone (Ephesians 4:32, 2 Timothy 2:24).

All Things in Christ and Contentment: a wrapup

We wrapped up our time in Philippians last Friday. I’m sad to be walking away from this study, but grateful for how my understanding of the book has deepened and shaped the way I view life. There is so much value in soaking in the Scripture. A friend asked me a question over the weekend and I practically handed her a sermon from Philippians. One of my friends commented that she had listened to the book every single morning of the study; she can probably quote much more of it than she realizes.

This last section of the book is probably the least talked about overall, but contains one of the most mis-used verses in the Bible. We know that I mean Philippians 4:13, but let’s look at surrounding context.

I rejoiced in the Lord greatly because once again you renewed your care for me. You were, in fact, concerned about me but lacked the opportunity to show it. I don’t say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I find myself. I know both how to make do with little, and I know how to make do with a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. I am able to do all things through him who strengthens me. Still, you did well by partnering with me in my hardship. Philippians 4:10-14

 

I’ve grown leery of pulling one verse, any verse, out of its passage and discussing it without filling in context. If we do that we can make a verse mean anything, regardless of what the author actually intended.