Apr 10, 2014

don't you folks ever read your bibles?

“Don’t you folks ever read your Bibles?” This quote is nestled amongst the bricks of the western entrance to the Multnomah University and Multnomah Biblical Seminary’s John & Mary Mitchell Library. Dr. John Mitchell, of that same library’s namesake, often asked students this question.

It took me a few weeks to find the quote because I always entered through the eastern doors, the ones closest to my apartment and closest to the seminary building. The first time I saw it, it caught me off guard. “This is a Bible college and a seminary,” I thought. “This school produces solid biblical scholars and theologians. It must be a joke.”

I'm over at Deeper Church today. Head over there to read the rest of the post.

Feb 24, 2014

The Justice Conference--Love in Community

I didn’t want to go to The Justice Conference. You can ask my roommates, I complained about it from the time I signed up until Multnomah asked me to write about it here on Deeper Church and said they’d comp my registration. So, you know, my attendance was motivated by a passion for a free ticket, not justice. Go me.

Before you go thinking I’m some horrible person who thinks injustice should be celebrated or that injustice is the cause for which we need to work, let me state very clearly I believe that if you are a Christian you are required to be passionate about and to work for God’s justice lived out here and now on earth. The problem I had with the Justice Conference was that I didn’t think a conference was the way to go about promoting justice. I didn’t want to sit around for two days and listen to people tell me how I wasn’t doing enough or how great all their accomplishments were and how great it made them feel about themselves. It was also a class assignment, which meant I didn’t even get to decide if I wanted to go. I just had to (Hashtag control issues).

But isn’t that the way we discover the injustices that infuriate us? Isn’t that the way we decide we must work to see God’s justice made real in a particular region of the world, or in a certain issue area? We don’t really decide that we want to work for justice, at least not at first. That issue area just grabs us and won’t let us go. God’s heart for His children grabs us and He will not let us go.

/ /

I attended both the pre-conference sessions here in Portland, and then watched the simulcast of the main conference. The pre-conference sessions in Portland were incredible. Each session was packed with amazing speakers, and each speaker shared the ways they were doing justice in Portland and throughout Oregon, and even a few other states as well.

I learned about The Cupcake Girls (more on them later) and their work to love and support women in the adult entertainment industry in both Las Vegas and Portland. I went to two different sessions on the foster care system in Oregon, learning about the challenges, heartbreak, love, and joy that come regardless of what role you play in the system. The Sexual Assault Resource Center (SARC)  session was all about their work to combat sexual assault against young adults, and the ways they seek to empower those same young adults. The day ended with a session on a Christian response to homosexuality, which isn’t as complicated as we try to make it.

These sessions were incredible. I have no doubt that the other twenty sessions I was unable to attend were equally amazing, that those presenters were equally passionate about seeing justice done in the name of Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit, for the glory of God.

/ /

I spent Friday’s lunch break with Joy Hoover and Briana McDonald. We got burgers and we talked cupcakes, or rather The Cupcake Girls. It is an organization that was born when Joy, during a Las Vegas vacation with her husband, learned more about the adult entertainment industry. She felt like she had to do something, so the very next day, she walked into a Vegas strip club carrying a box of cupcakes, and began to talk to the women working there.

Fast forward three years, and that one box of cupcakes on a vacation in Vegas has turned into a non-profit that seeks to offer love, support, and the occasional cupcake to women in the adult entertainment world. They host spa days, bring cupcakes and flowers, throw baby and wedding showers, and simply love these women. Beyond that, they have support groups, offer medical and dental services, and even help women move if and when they decide they’re ready to leave. But the purpose, Joy and Bri pointed out to me, is not to convince the women they befriend to leave. The purpose is to love them, and to keep loving them.

It seems small. It seems like it’s not enough. For a fixer like me it seems like they’re lacking an end goal. But then Joy tells stories of the women she’s befriended, and I realize quickly that loving the women in the clubs and brothels they visit is a radical act. Just love. Love without expectation. Love that consistently shows up, whether it is with cupcakes, a visit to the doctor, a rose, or a listening ear. Love that follows through and says, “You are valuable simply because you exist.”

/ /

What encouraged me the most, what stuck out to me the most was the relational, community-oriented approach to justice that was advocated throughout the pre-conference and the main conference. There was a recognition that, while God inclines each of our hearts individually to different injustices, the most effective way to bring His justice into those places and situations is in community and into the communities. Not to be the rescuers, but to come in as bearers of the love and grace of God, lived out in the manner of Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, so that those experiencing poverty, slavery, incarceration, abuse, and any number of other injustices, might be empowered and not simply rescued.

Because I am not strong enough to rescue anyone. We are not strong enough to rescue all those who need rescuing. I cannot be trusted with the power it gives me to be seen as rescuer. We are not to be trusted with the power that comes with being the rescuer. And to offer rescue alone transfers power from the oppressor to the rescuers rather than to those who have been oppressed.

The only one trustworthy enough and strong enough to be the rescuer is the same one who already rescued me, who has rescued all those who believe in and confess Christ as Lord. Only God can rescue the oppressed. Only God can rescue us.

When we go out to worship God through our fight against the injustice that has so comfortably settled into every corner of the world, let us remember that it is God who rescues. Let us remember that God’s justice works differently. Let us remember that we are just as much in need of rescue as those to whom God has turned our hearts. Let our mission instead be love. Let our mission instead be to listen well and to learn from those who have been oppressed. Let our mission go forward with God always at the center of all we do. Let our mission be that the world would know the love of the Father through the face of the Son poured out by the Spirit.

Oct 25, 2013


I am not one who fails easily.

I am not one to take failure lightly or gracefully.

Failure, as far as I am concerned, is not an option.

. . . . . . .

“This is a place where you will fail. Consistently, daily, and this is a place where it is safe to do that.”

This is how she starts our first day of class. This is how she introduces me to what will quickly become my favorite class, my favorite subject, my desired continued area of study.

I feel my stomach tighten as she mentions failure. My mouth fights to grimace or smile, I cannot decide which.

“Failure?” I think. “I don’t really do failure.”

But in this classroom, surrounded by these fellow students I will come to welcome the freedom of failure.

I'm over at A Deeper Church today writing about failure. Join me over there to read the rest of the post.

Jul 29, 2013

It's not about you

As you, dear reader, read this post, I am running around doing last minute errands in preparation for my sister’s bachlorette party and her BIG DAY. It’s a post I’ve been sitting on for awhile. Like, more than a year. As I ponder wedding toasts and wedding vows it seems that the time has come to put thoughts, memories, and feelings into words I now share with you. 

The first time it happened I didn’t think anything of it. We broke up, they started dating, and a few years later they got married.

The second time it happened it stung a bit more, but in retrospect that had more to do with the speed of things. We broke up, a month later they were engaged, and a month or two after that they were married.

The third time I was waiting for it. We broke up, they started dating, and I knew, I knew, I knew they would get married. And they did.

The fourth time I tell a dear friend and mentor what will happen. He listens, but confesses later that at the time I predicted their future nuptials he didn’t believe me. We broke up, they started dating, and then they got married.

I'm writing over at A Deeper Church today. Join me over there to read the rest of this post.

Jun 28, 2013

In the Beginning

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."

I can see Him there. Standing. Worn carharts and a wool plaid shirt with elbow patches to cover the holes from years of wear. Feet planted firmly in the dust, in work boots and thick wool socks, standing on the edge of it all before there was an edge.

His hair is short, graying, with plenty of salt and pepper. His hands are in His pockets, but you can see the wrinkles. And a split, bruised thumbnail on His right hand. I wonder how it happened.

And though I cannot see His face, there is the hint of a profile. Enough to see deep lines radiating from the corner of His eye, scored deep into skin from years in the sun, from years of smiling. Before there were years. Before there was sun.

I'm over at A Deeper Church, join me there to read the rest of this post.

Jun 20, 2013

love beats fear

I pull a sharpie from the mug that sits to the left of my monitor, removing the cap and securing it on the back of the pen.

“Love beats fear.” The sentence fills my mind as I stare at the blank canvas that is my left wrist.

I write the words slowly, carefully. Each letter the same size and width as the last.

Love beats fear.

For all my confidence and self-assurance there is an underlying current of fear that runs through me.

Am I enough?

Am I too much?

Can I really hang academically?

Am I sacrificing one set of dreams in order to achieve the other?

Does He really know the desires of my heart?

Do I understand His goodness so that I experience it as such?

Do I truly believe He is good?

Love beats fear.

I breathe deep those words, attempting to flood my fears with the truth that His love is bigger than my fear.

His love beats fear.

His love has already beaten each and every one of the fears I have ever or will ever encounter.

And still I write this phrase on my wrist. Always finishing it with a box around the words. Because it communicates a finality that I need to know exists.

That His love has already beaten fear.

That His love will continue to beat fear.

That His fear beating love will remain consistent in my life as it has remained consistent since the first two hid behind fig leaves and among trees, fearful of what they knew, overwhelmed by the love of His calling to them.

He calls to me as I hide amidst my fears. Overwhelmed by each of them both individually and collectively.

“Where are you?” He asks, knowing full well I have taken my eyes from Him and from His love and become mired in the details of questions that seem to lack answers--which means the outcomes are out of my control and isn’t that really the issue here?

“Where are you?” His tone is gentle and firm. Both a call to take His hand and a grace-filled reproof.

I look up from among the trees, away from the fears that seem so true.

“Love beats fear,” He says as He envelops my hand with His.

May 24, 2013


If you and I were to sit down and talk, get to know each other for just a bit, it wouldn’t be too long before you learned that I love the Old Testament. More specifically I love the Pentateuch. Those first five books of the Bible, and Deuteronomy in particular, they have my heart. I had the opportunity to take an intensive class on Deuteronomy this year, and in that short week I fell more in love with Torah. Here is a small glimpse into why I love Torah.

Imagine all of Israel encamped on the eastern side of the Jordan River.

Moses stands before them, his arms spread wide, as he recounts for them their parents’ exodus from Egypt and subsequent rebellion when they were first invited into the Promised Land.

The story is familiar, but each Israelite listens intently as Moses reminds them of the punishment they and their parents endured at the hand of Adonai. And Moses reminds them that throughout the entire journey, a journey which should have taken eleven days but instead took forty years, God was with them, providing for their every need each and every step of the way.

I'm writing over at Deeper Church today. Head over there to read the rest of this post.