Thursday, January 3, 2013

What could God gain?

"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us."

-John 1:14 NIV

My devotional this morning instructs me to: "...ask yourself, Why would God go through all of this for me? Why would He leave heaven and come down here to die? What could He possibly gain that would make the pain worth it?" (7 Minutes with Jesus, Navpress, 2005) (Sidebar: Yes, I'm reading a devotional for teens that promises deep spiritual progress in just 7 minutes a day, go ahead, judge me)

The word gain catches my attention. Could God, the creator of everything, who is in Himself complete and fulfilled have anything to GAIN from this outlandish plan for salvation? The short answer is no, I think. It seems that I have the most to gain from God's willingness to enter His creation, He does not reach out, stoop down, humble Himself for his profit, but for ours. Why though? Why would God do such a thing?

Ephesians 2:4-5 says, "But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved."

Because of His great love for us...

I have often said that a love this great deserves a response. And usually I was talking about the one time response to Christ's invitation into relationship with Him. That this great act of love and mercy was like a marriage proposal that we have to either accept or deny. I still believe that is true, but I think it's more than that.

A love this great, one that motivates the God of heaven to leave His throne so that we might be in right relationship with Him, demands a daily response. God did not send His son so that I might "accept Him" and then go on about my life as I would have anyway: trying to be a good person, motivating myself, exhausting my personal resources in a daily attempt to be as good as or better than those I compare myself to, and then go to Heaven someday. NO--God sent His Son so that I might be in RIGHT RELATIONSHIP with Him now, and every minute from now through eternity.

I told Grafton the other day (sort of melodramatically and apparently with a fever I did not realize I had yet) that my life seemed to lack meaning. I think it's because meaning exists when I allow God to give my life meaning instead of trying to create meaning in my own way. Spoiler alert: The meaning of life is still to Know God and Make Him Known. I must know Him...and His great love...and respond by meeting Him and resting in His presence.
And so, today I did...and He reminded me that He loves me deeply, truly, and sacrificially. That His presence is indeed what I long for and what gives my life meaning.   

I wanted to journal my thoughts and literally the computer was easier to reach than a notebook and so I wrote them here. Hope you don't mind.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Leaving YL...

Today I started cleaning out my desk in the Young Life office. For those who may feel out of the loop, let me catch you up.

I have spent the last 7 years on staff with Young Life, mostly in Loudoun County, Virginia. Just this year through a series of some good and some hard reasons I have come to the conclusion that it is time for me to move on. So, back in April I submitted my letter of resignation and effective July 31st I will no longer be on YL Staff.

I was talking to my friend Emma back in April about going off staff...she said to me "I just don't feel like you're done at Heritage" Which is where I've been leading YL the last four years.

I said "I know. I love Heritage, I love the kids, the school, administration, the community... maybe I'm not done there, but I am done as YL Leader."

A few weeks later I started asking God to show me his sovereignty in this process. I wanted to see and believe Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and future." About a month after I started praying that, in whirlwind of conversations that happened over 3 days I was offered a job teaching at Heritage. WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT? How awesome is that!?

My time will be split "A days" at Harmony Middle School and "B days" at Heritage. I'll be teaching Family and Consumer Science which is basically modern home economics.

I have never done this before. I was at YL camp a couple weeks ago with over 70 high school kids from Western Loudoun and I really kind of felt like it was easy. It got me wondering if part of the reason I'm going off YL Staff is because I need to be challenged and to step outside of my comfort zone.

So here I go, both feet in. I am excited, and a little sad about the change, and a lot nervous about what the heck I'm doing.

Wish me luck...or better yet...pray for me!


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Choices it's been a while since I last posted. The truth is I had so many thoughts swirling around in my head that I couldn't settle down and write anything.

In a detour from my C.S. Lewis studies I'm thinking about choices lately. I've learned over the last few years, that I don't HAVE to do anything. Since having my son there are a lot of times where I have done things I don't want to do (ie. leaving him at the sitter's house yesterday when he was screaming "Mommy" as I walked out). But I have tried to stop using the "I have no choice." or "Mommy HAS to do this" language. Because those statements are simply not true.

Don't get me wrong, the choice is not easy, or simple, but it is a choice. I don't HAVE to go work, I don't HAVE to go to Club (our weekly outreach to high school kids) every Monday night. I don't HAVE to make dinner, clean the kitchen, play with my son, bring home half our household income. The truth is, I choose those things.

Sometimes I choose them because I want to; I love my job, I love club, I love a clean kitchen. Sometimes I choose them because I'm called to; in spite of how I feel, I know that God has called me to this life today and out of obedience to Him, I go. Sometimes I choose them because it is the responsible thing to do; I go to Club because it will go better if I'm there, and it's an example to my team and if I don't go enough times I'll probably lose my job which means I would lose my income, we would lose our get the idea.

The trap we as women, especially working moms, put ourselves in is believing the lie that we don't have a choice. That we are indeed trapped.

"Everything is permissable--but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissable--but not everything is constructive." 1 Corinthians 10:23

"So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." John 8:36

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." John 10:10

It is a lie from the pit of hell that you don't have a choice. Satan has been fooling humanity since Eden with the lie that God is holding out on us. A life in Christ is freedom. Freedom to choose, to make tough calls, to sacrifice joyfully, to live a life of glorious freedom.

I have freedom, and full life in Christ. I make small and big choices every day, and they have consequences, some that I will not tolerate. So I choose...

I choose...ministry
I choose...sacrifice
I choose...patience
I choose...Jesus

The point is....


Friday, February 25, 2011


“Christ said it was difficult for ‘the rich’ to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, referring, no doubt, to ‘riches’ in the ordinary sense. But I think it really covers riches in every sense—good fortune, health, popularity and all the things one wants to have…All these things tend...To make you feel independent of God. “

--From “Answers to Questions on Christianity” in Timeless at Heart

I love this passage from C.S. Lewis, it challenges me so much. I’m asking myself, “what am I pursuing?” Is it contentment in this world that I seek after so much? Or is it Christ? Lewis says “God wants to give you a real and eternal happiness.” I have to consider the reality that our time here on earth is so brief. I find that I am always looking around, at other people’s lives, and wondering if they’ve got it better. If they are happier, stronger, healthier, more content than I am. You know, Paul said in Philippians (the letter he wrote from jail remember?) that he had learned the secret to being content. I don’t think Paul was implying that we should all chase after contentment. Remember what the secret was? “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13. That is the secret…CHRIST! Don’t get me wrong, contentment is a beautiful character trait, and one worthy of developing. We should be satisfied with the Lord has given us. What I mean is that we have confused the word contentment with comfortable.

Like I hear people saying “I just don’t feel content in this job, neighborhood, etc.” As if a lack of contentment is an excuse to get out of something? Or, like I said before is contentment being confused with comfortable.

Here’s what I think I mean:

Being comfortable would make sense if this is all there is. If at the end of our lives, we die and it’s over, then of course we would seek after comfort, and happiness. However, I know that this is not the end. I know that at the end of this life I will spend eternity in heaven with God. This makes my life on earth a hotel, not a home. It’s a pit stop…or maybe even more accurately a training ground. What if life is really boot camp, or high school? You know when you’re in high school and you think “this sucks, I can’t wait to graduate and get to the real world?” Maybe heaven is the real world. Which makes our brief lives a little more tolerable…right?

From the same essay Lewis gives a great example:

“Imagine a set of people all living in the same building. Half of them think it is a hotel, the other half think it is a prison. Those who think it a hotel might regard it as quite intolerable, and those who thought it was a prison might decide that it was really surprisingly comfortable. “

So the question is not; “Am I comfortable?” It is; “Should I be?”

Friday, February 11, 2011

More from C.S.


“Some people when they say that a thing is meant “metaphorically” conclude from this that it is hardly meant at all. They rightly think that Christ spoke metaphorically when he told us to carry the cross: they wrongly conclude that carrying the cross means nothing more than leading a respectable life and subscribing moderately to charities.” –C.S. Lewis, Miracles, Chapter 10

Some of us living in Northern Virginia have believed that living life sacrificially means buying a used car instead of new, or shopping at the outlets instead of paying retail. Somewhere along the way we have convinced ourselves that we are poor, humble, and sacrificial. Or that service is, similar to worship, something we do once a week for about an hour. It’s simply something we check off a list of things we’re supposed to do on the weekend. Go to church, wash the car, and serve in the nursery. We believe that when Christ said take up your cross, somehow, these sacrifices fit the bill.

I call B.S.

Crucifixion was intended to provide a death that was particularly slow, painful (hence the term excruciating, literally "out of the cross"), gruesome, humiliating, and public. For Jesus this was the act of giving His life away, quite literally.

There is no true and lasting joy in “suburban sacrifices”. No wonder our faith doesn’t feel deep and rich and real; because we’re not actually LIVING LIKE JESUS. There is little that is life giving and meaningful about buying a used car. There is much that is life giving and meaningful about really serving others. Living life like Christ did, pouring out of yourself, your money, and your gifts, your passions, your pain and your joy. Forging relationships with those who are not like you, people who don’t know Jesus the way you do; that is stretching. Giving up your time…isn’t it funny how we think our time is our own? Giving up “your time” your precious Saturday mornings or Friday nights to spend ministering to the needs of the hurting, lost, or simply needy people around you; that’s where the joy of living a sacrificial life comes from.

Where you need God like you never have before… there is joy.

Where you connect with the pain of Jesus in a real tangible way… there is joy.

Where you experience the hurt and rejection of Jesus… there is joy.

Where you walk along side someone through the pain of life… there is joy.

Where you witness a life changed for eternity… there is joy.

Where you put others needs before your own… there is joy.

I think there is joy in these sacrifices because we get a better picture of who God is. Isn’t that what Jesus came for, to reveal the truth of who God is? God is a sacrificing, ever-loving, holy and terrifying god that deserves a response.
How are you giving your life away for the sake of the Kingdom and its King?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

C.S. Lewis

I'm working my way through a great book: C.S. Lewis Readings for Meditation and Reflection

Thought it might be neat to blog about it as I go...would LOVE your thoughts and comments!

The Intolerable Compliment

“When we want to be something other than the thing God wants us to be, we must be wanting what, in fact, will not make us happy. Those Divine demands which sound to our natural ears most like those of a despot and least like those of a love, in fact marshall us where we should want to go if we knew what we wanted.“ --The Problem of Pain, Chapter 3, C.S. Lewis

There are a lot of things that I have begged God for that He has not given me. I desperately wanted to marry my college sweetheart; even before we dated I wanted to marry him. I wanted my son to sleep all night those first few months he was around. I can remember standing over his crib while he cried; begging God to just let him sleep…which I knew even then was really asking God to just let ME sleep. I thought—why? Why wouldn’t the Lord want us to sleep? I cried out for the healing of many people that died. I remember distinctly my cousin’s wife who was in a coma just three months after her twin boys were born. I prayed fervently and believing that her healing would come. I just KNEW that she would be okay, that their family would be okay. She died about 9 months after the coma began, just around her twins first birthday.

That’s the one that changed the way I prayed. I don’t know if I’ve ever prayed believing that way since K died. I wasn’t close with her, I’m not even close with my cousin her husband. Not the way I am with other family and friends. But for some reason I was sure that she would be healed. I was confident, maybe even to the point of arrogant, in my God. I had it figured out, she would be healed and all in my family must acknowledge God’s hand in our lives. Why wouldn’t he want that for us, for her, for my cousin and their boys.

I’m learning, not I have learned but am learning, to ask of God again. It’s not that I stopped praying that day, I just started praying for easy things. And always praying for God’s will…”Thy will be done” “align my will with yours” The underlying tone being, align my will with yours so I won’t be disappointed. C.S. Lewis’ incredible examination of what it means to be disappointed reminds me. Aligning our will with God’s is not about avoiding pain or disappointment. It is about acknowledging the Rightness of the one True and Holy God. That God is God, and we are not. That just as our parents begged us to believe that they knew what was best for us…yet…God does not beg us to believe Him. He does in fact know better than me.

“He demands our worship, our obedience, our prostration. Do we suppose that they can do Him any good, or fear like the chorus in Milton, that human irreverence can bring about ‘His glory’s diminution’? A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word “darkness” on the wall of his cell…Whether we like it or not, God intends to give us what we need, not what we now think we want. Once more, we are embarrassed by the intolerable compliment, by too much love, not too little.” --The Problem of Pain, Chapter 3, C.S. Lewis

I’m glad that I didn’t marry my college sweetheart. My husband is much more than I ever could ask for. I’m glad (believe it or not) that I spent so many sleepless nights with my son. I even find myself missing them…sometimes. I am not glad that my friends and family were not healed. But, I think that’s okay. Because I am learning to pray again, and to trust Him and His will. Asking for big things in spite of the unknown result is about being in relationship with the God of the universe. Letting Him in to the longings of my heart and being honest with Him (and myself) lays the groundwork for a deeper commitment and understanding of how He loves….and how I want to trust.

What I’m Reading Right Now

Reshaping It All

Candace Cameron Bure’s book is not changing my life, but it is pretty good. (Yes, that Candace Cameron…DJ from Full House). She has a little bit of that perfect-mom-persona going on that is one part admirable and one part annoying. What I do love about this book is her very real reliance on the Lord for her success in life, specifically in weight loss. She really does submit to the Holy Spirit her desires for food. Her advice is a combination of Beck’s behavioral therapy (see The Beck Diet Solution) and a healthy dose of the Holy Spirit, which Beck’s plan clearly lacked. Candace is really challenging me to remember the spiritual side of every problem and struggle.
I desire to be a good steward of every gift the Lord has given me. Whether that’s money, talent, time, or my body. I am being encouraged by the following verses specifically in this area of self control and health:
“But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” I Corinthians 9:27 ESV
“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” I Corinthians 6:19-20 NIV

What verses do you look to for encouragement with being healthy?