Oct 19, 2012

the foolishness of wisdom

This is the second post in a six part series that will run for the next three months. It is based on the book of 1 Corinthians, and posts will appear here and on A Deeper Church. You can read the first post in this series here.

For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.”

Imagine a city full of people driven by success, driven by money, always striving to be the best, to one-up their neighbor and their co-worker, always wanting to be at the forefront of the next cultural movement or moment.

Now imagine learning about Jesus. Imagine learning that people could live together in community and have everything in common. Imagine learning that wisdom didn’t come from worldly knowledge, but instead from a man crucified on a Roman cross.

I don’t have to imagine too hard because mostly this sounds like where I live. No, I don’t worry about whether or not the meat in my hamburger was sacrificed to idols first. But that whole relativist, subjective truth, anything goes just so long as it doesn’t rain on my parade cultural attitude sure feels familiar.

We have been given not the wisdom of this age, but wisdom from God. Not so that we may flaunt our knowledge and impress each other with what we know, but so that we may grow in our understanding of the Gospel. So that we may grow mature in our faith. So that we may grow in our ability to mirror him, to image him.

But the wisdom of this age is tempting. It is popular. It is easy.

And the wisdom of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing.

And if we are honest, if I am honest, doesn’t it occasionally feel foolish to us, to me, as well?

Because Christ crucified and raised from the dead is all well and good if you were John and you saw him die and you saw him alive and you saw him ascend. But what about us? What about two thousand years later? Where are our miraculous signs and wisdom?

We fear we lack them, so we either stand on soapboxes and hope we yell louder than those who would oppose us so we don’t have to engage with the questions they raise. Or, like the Corinthians, we slip off to the sidelines and hope someone else dukes it out for us while we try to fit in. We say, “I’m not really into theology, I just love Jesus, but whatever you love is cool too” and we hope that no one presses us about what it means when we say we love Jesus.

But friends, brothers and sisters, we have been given the miracle of the resurrection which, yes, we take on faith, and we have been given the wisdom of the cross which is supposed to look foolish. But it is only foolish from the surface. It is only foolish when we look at it from a worldly perspective. Let us not be afraid to steep ourselves in the wisdom of the cross, to enter fully into the wisdom of the Gospel. For it is when we are in Christ, when we are living out his Gospel, that we come to understand the wisdom of Christ crucified and raised for sinners like us.

Oct 5, 2012

New York + Las Vegas + Los Angeles = Corinth

This is the first in a five part series that will run for the next three months. It is based on the book of 1 Corinthians, and posts will appear A Deeper Church and here, on my personal blog. It has been said that if you combined modern day New York, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles you would end up with something like Corinth in the time of the Apostle Paul.* A city marked by the hustle and bustle of ships in the harbor and merchants traversing overland trade routes. By the temples and idols and the people who called those steps their office and those statues their gods. By the one-upmanship that colored their philosophical discussions and their drive to reach the next rung on the social and economic ladders. You can read the rest of the post over on A Deeper Church.

Sep 20, 2012

I need the rain

You can see the smoke in the sky
Wildfires a hundred miles away mark the end of summer
The last measurable rainfall was sometime in July
And my soul is parched
I need the rain
Glistening streets and dripping leaves
To remind me that He really does make all things new

Sep 7, 2012

praise the LORD

Praise the Lord

It is the second day of the fall semester and the first day of this particular class. I have taken classes with this professor before, and I am already excited about what the semester holds. Class opens with prayer and a singing of the Doxology. As our voices, mostly on key and mostly in unison, sing praise, I am in awe of God of all He has done to bring each person attached to each of these voices, my own included, through these doors and into each of these blue plastic chairs. The Doxology concludes, and we turn to Psalm 150.

Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens.

Sandwiched between new friends, amidst family and old friends spread out across pews, we stand and sing. The goings on of our community, the offering, and an old prayer prayed together. My pastor walks on stage, I open my Bible and journal, ready to listen, asking for an open heart. There is conviction. There is sorrow. There is hope. My heart fills and tears overflow, sadness and joy co-mingle as we bow together in prayer.

Have you visited the new Deeper Story yet? I posted on Deeper Church earlier this week. Read the rest of this post there, and have a look around at the new digs.

Jul 19, 2012

I always have enough

We are sitting in front of the graduate student apartments in the few feet of lawn separating home from sidewalk. Skin drinks in sunlight and vitamin D as we bask in the sunshine that always seems to arrive just in time for finals week.

Two more walk by. Both stop and talk for awhile, sharing stories of what God is doing in their church. Telling us about the faith healings. One leaves, and the other sits, answering the questions my friend is brave enough to ask as I swallow mine.

I'm posting over at Deeper Story today. You can read the rest of the post there.

Jul 17, 2012

welcome home

“Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.”

The first time I sit with these people, it is on an old wooden pew in the middle of a sticky, Portland July. It is standing room only for anyone who arrives a few minutes late or has trouble finding parking in the hilly neighborhood that surrounds the white stucco building. Smashed next to friends and strangers, we sing songs I’ve never heard and everyone seems to mean their worship as smiles fill faces glistening with sweat—or maybe it’s the Holy Spirit. The hum of the fans in the aisles blowing warm air over hot bodies are drowned out by voices singing praise to the Lord Most High as multicolored sunlight filters through stained glass.

Today I'm blogging at my church's blog about the new building we, Imago Dei Community, call home. You can read the rest of the post there.

Jul 12, 2012

you're pretty

Sunnies on. Hair in a pomp and pulled back. Sunroof and windows open. I am ready for what awaits me just a few blocks down the road at my crossfit box.

The light turns red, and I slow to a stop. In the waiting I hear the growl of a motorcycle. I glance over my right shoulder and investigate.

"You're pretty," he growls at me from astride his bike.

My heart sinks, but I know how this is supposed to go, so I smile politely and say, "thank you," knowing he doesn't understand; hoping thank you is enough.

"Boyfriend?" he asks.

My heart sinks lower because I choose not to lie, even though it would probably shut him up. "No," I say, polite smile frozen on my face.

"We should go out sometime," he says, inching his bike forward, anticipating my reply.

My heart drops. I fight the anger and the violation, polite smile still stuck on my lips as I shake my head and say, "No thank you."

The light turns green, and I am grateful for a way out.

My workout is a welcome distraction. The sweat pours down my face as muscles strain and push and pull as the growl of his motorcycle and the growl of his voice are pushed from my mind.

But it doesn’t change the freefall of my heart.

It doesn’t change the desire to scrub the encounter off my skin as I rinse sweat away in a post-workout shower.

It doesn’t change the ache of wanting something true, someone true, someone who sees more than blond hair and a pretty face.

The truth is, while some dude on a motorcycle might think he’s making my day, asking me out like that, he isn’t. He is instead affirming the lie that says, “you’re only good for this. You are too much in any other context.” It is a violation of who I am, of how I look, and of what it means to be in relationship with one another, to love one another as we would be loved.

So no, I do not have a boyfriend, and no I do not want to go on a date with you, and yes, I may be pretty, but I am much more than that.

I am made to be loved for more than that.

***Thank you to Emily, who helped me understand all of this in the first place, and to Preston, for raising hell.

Jun 22, 2012

unique and unrepeatable

Each one of us is a unique and unrepeatable miracle of God’s grace.

But I do not always feel like a unique and unrepeatable miracle of God’s grace. More often I behave as though God puts up with me because He made me and now He is stuck with me.

I'm posting over at Deeper Story today. You can read the rest of the post there.

Jun 13, 2012

You find me

In broken hearts and deep empty places.
In long nights in a bed meant for one, wishing there were two.
In rainbows on days that feel like thunder.
When the lightning frightens with
I find You.
You find me.
On days I cannot find myself.
On days I cannot see hope.
On days I cannot do anything but wish for eternity now because isn't that better than now.
You find me.

May 24, 2012

What I've Learned After One Semester of Seminary

As January 23rd drew closer, I imagined entering the classroom again after an eight year absence, and wondered what lessons awaited me inside the walls of Travis-Lovett Hall. In what, depending on the day, seems like either an eternity or the blink of an eye, my first semester of seminary has come and gone, and now, with all this free time I suddenly have, I have compiled a list of things I have learned after my first semester of seminary. It is much less academic than I imagined it would be as I packed my things and moved from an adorable apartment in northwest Portland into on campus student housing (no, it’s not a dorm). And while I did learn some of these things in the classroom, most of them were little seeds that were planted in the midst of a lecture that then blossomed later as the semester progressed.

I'm posting over at Deeper Story today, head over there to read the rest of this post.

May 5, 2012

dear saturday morning

Dear Saturday Morning,

This is really not how I hoped you would go. I was going to get up early and be done with one of my papers by now. I suppose it's really not your fault. I say we blame it on Friday, and that back tire with the slow leak.

I think deep down we both know this isn't about the tire, the slow leak, or the window that gets stuck anytime someone rolls it down. This is really about deeper things like trust and loneliness and longing.

So instead of being mad, I choose to say thank you for not going according to my plan.

Thank you Saturday morning for looking so different than I planned.

Thank you tire for having that slow leak, which required I be at Les Schwab at 8AM.

Thank you Les Schwab employee for rolling down the one window in my car that won't go back up, thus making a trip across the river into Vancouver to the auto shop necessary.

And thank you Lord, that Your ways are not my ways. This morning is not what I would have chosen, but I am thankful nonetheless.



Apr 23, 2012

Okay, Lord. I'm ready.

I sat on the bus the other day, text book in my lap, reading scholarly words about the Prophets, thinking about Ezekiel, thinking about coffee, wondering if I should have brought my umbrella.

A man boarded the bus, snapping his pearl snaps as he walked to his seat. I noticed something under his shirt just before he turned around to sit down.

The most obvious assumption for what he concealed would have been a back brace for a job that required heavy lifting. But my first thought was, "bomb."

I'm posting over at Deeper Story today, head over there to read the rest of this post.

Apr 18, 2012

hold me

Tonight the longing for Home is thick, catching in my throat as I try to swallow.

Tears well up suddenly, and I am caught off guard.

Tonight I feel the fragility of this life. Tonight I feel His hand around my heart, causing each and every beat.

As air fills my lungs I taste the breath He blows into my nostrils and feel it rush down my throat.

I wonder how this skin, stretched thin over bone and muscle, does not tear. Tonight it feels so thin, barely the protective barrier it is intended to be.

And I am reminded that each beat, each breath is Yours, is by Your will.

This skin protects me because You wrap Yourself around me, because You keep me from harm.

Hold me closer.

Hold me tighter.

Mar 19, 2012

as the deer

Have you ever noticed the way little children drink? Not out of a sippy cup, but out of a big person glass. Two tiny, sticky hands with dirt underneath the fingernails, spread out and grasp the cup, tipping it up. Unlike adults there is no quiet sipping. There is this slurpy sound combined with the repeated noise of their bottom lips releasing suction and then reengaging with the outside of the glass. And the breathing. You can hear their labored breathing as they inhale and exhale through their nose, all the while they gulp and slurp and hydrate. When finished, they don’t daintily place the glass on the table or counter. The end of their imbibing is signaled by a loud, satisfactory sigh and perhaps a few more big breaths, because, well, that was a lot of water they just drank. With the back of their hands they wipe off the water that’s found its way onto their cheeks rather than their into their bellies, and then they are off to the next adventure. I'm posting over at Deeper Story today, you can read the rest of the post

Feb 24, 2012

haters gonna hate

It is true. There are people in our lives who love to hate. They love to hate what we love. They love to hate what we say. They love to hate what we do. And most of all they love to hate who we are. They love to hate the expression of Truth because the lies still bind them in darkness.

Let us not be haters. Let us be lovers. Let us be lovers who love the haters. Let us be lovers who feast only on Truth. Let us be lovers of the One True God who speaks only Truth because He cannot abide the lies of sin and death.

Let us love so big, so deep, and so wide that the haters can no longer deny the glory and goodness of the Truth. Let us love so big, so deep, and so wide that the haters become lovers, transformed by blood soaked Truth and Grace.

See more on Know Your Meme

Feb 23, 2012

remember you are dust

Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

How easy it is to forget we are dust.

How easy it is, with warm bodies, full stomachs, and money in the bank to forget we are dust.

How easy it is to mindlessly nod along as the pastor exhorts us to remember our position were it not for Christ’s intercession.

How easy it is to go through the motions of acknowledging sin and accepting grace without actually doing so.

If it is difficult to remember we are dust, and to dust we shall return, then it becomes exponentially more difficult when, after the sign of the cross is brushed onto foreheads in ashes and oil, we are told to turn from sin and be faithful to Jesus.

I'm posting over at Deeper Story today, head over there to read the rest of this post.

Feb 17, 2012

suffer one another

It is easy to fight with each other. It is easy to read between the lines of the written word, regardless of its length, and imagine there is more or worse being said, imagine there is more or worse implied than the words have communicated.

It is easy, reading words on screen or page, to condemn the author of the tweet, blog, Facebook post, or book. They are not next to you or to me as we seethe with fury and religiosity, unable to believe another Christian could hold that position, could say those things, could do those things, and still call him or herself a person of True Faith.

It is easy to believe that our own positions, our own opinions, regardless of how well researched they are, are correct.

It is easy to draw a line and declare us versus them. It is written into our history, as Adam distanced himself from his wife, declaring she was the one who suggested they eat the forbidden fruit, and as Eve distanced herself from the serpent, declaring it was the one to blame.

It is easy to declare that you and I are not those kinds of Christians. It is easy to distance ourselves from those with whom we disagree.


This post is part of the At the Lord's Table series that Preston is doing over on his blog. You can read the rest of it there.

Feb 10, 2012

worth reading—02.10.12

I could tweet a million different times so you could see all these amazing posts. Or I could just do what I used to do and compile a list.

Y'all. I am such a bad blogger lately. I know. Insert excuses about seminary and my internship and work and friends and, and, and. Instead of excuses I will offer up what I have been reading and loving lately.*

  • Tindell Baldwin's blog [from back in December] about commitment love is beautiful. It speaks of love that is founded on commitment, it speaks of love that never fails, not because of feelings because feelings can, do, and will fail. But to have two people of faith who are committed to each other, and committed to their commitment to one another, that is commitment love.
  • If you're not already reading / following The Good Women Project, stop what you are doing and go do that. Right now. Seriously. Their most recent post, "You are OK, But It's Not OK" is AMAZING. I'm not going to say anything else in hopes that will convince you to go read it.
  • Are you reading Preston Yancey yet? WHY NOT?? Also one of my favorites, he is talented, has a big, full heart that longs to love and serve the Lord, and he's just pretty legit all around. He is doing a series called "At the Lord's Table: A Blog Conversation" and it is amazing. Go. Read it. Dream big about the Church.
  • Have you heard of Wyatt and Winn? I hadn't either. I found them through the Good Women Project, and immediately fell in love after reading this post. The love and friendship makes my heart ache in the best of ways. I think it will do the same for yours.
  • This next person is so dear to me. We lived in the same city for such a short time, but in that short time we became friends, bonding over writing, Lady Gaga, and the desire to hear truth spoken boldly into dark places. I don't know that I would still be writing if it weren't for her. Please read any and everything that my dear friend Nish has ever read. And if you don't agree with her politics or her parenting, get over yourself and realize that she's hilarious and isn't trying to make you believe or do what she does. She is just being honest, and the world could use a little more of that.
  • Lauren's most recent post, "You Can't" is honest and true. Her heart to see others freed from the lies that keep us from Christ is inspiring and just one of the many things that makes her a beautiful human being.
  • Lastly, and this one is going to cost you, go to iTunes and buy anything that Max Dubinsky has ever written. It won't cost you more than $0.99. His book of short stories, We Can't Go Home Again is...incredible. I don't like reading short stories. I never have. And then I read Max's book. I don't know that I will ever like short stories, but I will always read what Max writes. He's also recently edited and published the first short story he wrote. You can download it for the bargain price of only $0.99. And, really, you should.

Well, there you have it. When I'm not reading textbooks, I am reading these people and their blogs. Or, apparently I am taking pictures of myself studying. Ahh, the life of a seminarian.

*I am still posting monthly at Deeper Story, and am hopeful that writing more for class will encourage more writing here. And thank you for reading me and my sporadic thoughts.

Feb 3, 2012

it is about us

So often I think it is about me. About us. About women.

Probably because I am one.

I think of our broken hearts, shredded and lonely, waiting and wondering if anything but Christ and loneliness will ever live here.

I think of tears cried in the darkness and at empty kitchen tables, and smiles forced over cups of coffee pretending stories of others’ togetherness are simply a source of joy.

I think of how it feels to wonder who and to wonder why and to wonder why no one ever just asks, because you never know unless you ask.

But I rarely consider the responsibility you bear, brother.

I rarely think of what it must be like to be the one to ask the question, to make the first move, as your broken, lonely, shredded heart beats a bit faster as you wonder what she will say.

I rarely think of what it must like to face the choice of relationship instead of independence, to choose to love another as Christ loves the Church. For the rest of your collective time on this earth.

Brother, that must be so daunting.

I do not know if I could handle that responsibility.

Of course I have my own responsibility to bear in that same agreement, for the rest of our collective time on this earth.

But, brother, I rarely consider your side.

I rarely wonder what you think or feel late at night in the darkness or at empty kitchen tables or over cups of coffee, or perhaps for you it is pints of beer and cigars.

Brother, I am sorry for thinking it is just me, it is just us, just women.

It is about us, men and women, with hearts on the mend, waiting and wondering if anything but Christ and loneliness will ever live here.

This post is also featured today on Good Women Project. Please take a second to check out their site.

Jan 19, 2012

Here I Raise My Ebenezer

We sit around the table, the last bits of dinner drying on my aunt’s good china. Candles flicker and Christmas lights resting on branches of evergreen twinkle from the living room. Our attention is drawn to the rocks that sat on our napkins when we first sat down for Christmas dinner.

I hold the rock, knowing what is coming. Dreading what is coming. Before dinner my aunt asked me if I would share a bit about the word Ebenezer. If I would share with everyone what it means. I hold the rock in my hand knowing that each rock is to be an Ebenezer for each of us at the table. That we will share with each other what this Ebenezer is to remind us of.

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