2.05.2017

three things from 2016

1. my worst day isn't bad enough and my best day isn't good enough. He invites me to His table because He loves me, not because i measure up. He desires my obedience, not my perfection. this produces deep trust in my identity as His kid and security that my acceptance is not based on my performance.

2. the wandering heart doesn't need to find a better tribe, but the best King. there were many years of my life where i clung to my free-spirit identity with honor and pride. my roots were only so deep and it gave me both the ability and flexibility to not stay in a single place for too long. then last year, as sure and as faithful and as tender as ever, the Lord brought me from an insecure, lone wanderer to a grounded, interdependent member of the body. He has used my community to show me more of His heart for His people at large and His heart for me. He has extended my covering further than i could have ever dreamed, and i will never stop thanking Him for the precious gift of being knitted in.

3. when i know His nature, i will not question His motives. when i found myself scraping the bottom of the barrel of belief or in the front-lines of the battle, His unchanging character held me secure. He not only does good things, He is Himself goodness. there is never a moment He is not found present, safe, or trustworthy. in every situation and season, as ever changing as they might be, He alone remains steadfast. our anchor holds us steady, even when our situations might encourage timidity.

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for the majority of 2016, i squinted. for if i squinted hard enough into the future, it was easier to see God's provision for and graciousness to me in every difficulty i was facing. but what was once a fuzzy, incomplete picture is now unveiled clarity before me. eventually, i realized that if i let Him into the dark corners of my heart, no single part of me can stay stale and old. He is the most tender and the most kind in His restoring and reordering of His people.

Jesus, keep me squinting all my days.

12.12.2016

new creation + eager expectation + a name unlike any other

why did God create the world? because God creates for His glory.
why does God continue the work of regeneration, of new creation, in our hearts? because God creates for His glory.
why can we long for the promised new creation to come with eager hope & expectation? because God always creates for His glory.

& what is good for His glory is good for us.

we don't glorify God by improving or adding to His glory, we glorify Him by seeing, loving, & showing His glory. we can magnify the Lord’s glory like a telescope, not a microscope. microscopes make small things look bigger than they are. telescopes make unimaginably grand things look more like what they really are. our lives are to be telescopes for the glory of God, a conduit of exaltation & magnification, helping others see Him & find satisfaction in Him for all that He is.

this is why the universe exists. this is why you exist. this is why the new creation will exist. to know, to love, & to show His glory. “the doctrine of creation logically demands worship,” Spurgeon once urged. “as a tree is known by its fruit, it proves itself to be true. those who were created by command are under command to adore their Creator. the voice which said, ‘let them be,’ now says, ‘let them praise.’”

throughout the whole of Scripture there is a language that is full of expectation & anticipation of the glory that has yet to be revealed, the glory that finally storms the scene in Revelation 21. we as Christ followers living in light of the promise of what's to come, join with creation in eager expectation, in groaning, in waiting for the final revelation. like the encouragement offered to our heritage before us, we will not lose sight of hope. for His name alone is excellent. His name alone deserves to be exalted in our praise, exalted in worth. there is no one like Yahweh, none that could be compared to Him for even a moment. He deserves the monopoly of our praise forever.

5.09.2016

re-breaking

“Resetting of broken bones,” He whispered, “That’s what I am doing.”

A little perplexed, I turned to google and a quick search had me in tears.

Here's the thing. The term often used is "re-break." This means that the doctor is going to break again a bone that has previously been broken. In a more technical term, this is referred to as fracture reduction (or resetting). It is the procedure that aims to restore and align correctly the broken bones.

The first and main reason why re-breaking is necessary is that the bones heal incorrectly sometimes. When your bones break, they become deformed. When they heal by themselves, they are still deformed and this condition may have some problems. First, bone deformity can affect how you move. You may not be able to move as freely as before if some of your bones are not aligned correctly. Second, bone deformity is not visually pleasing. It does not look good therefore a lot of people undergo resetting of the bones. After the re-breaking of your bone, your doctor will proceed to aligning the bones so that when they heal, they will heal in the right manner and position.

If we can trust a doctor to inflict pain for our benefit, how much more can we trust our Creator, Restorer, Provider? 

Then, in the image a little girl holding her broken arm so close to her body, not letting anyone near enough to help her, not listening to the Father who was faithfully by her side through the tears shouting, “You don't have to be like this,” yet deafened by her pain and insisting to will her body healed, I saw myself. It was then that both google and the gospel reiterated what my heart already knew but didn't want to admit: no matter how hard I tried to heal my brokenness, I was still deformed. I knew I was injured, but I didn’t want to work through the process of proper healing. I knew the One who offered restoration freely, but, quite honestly, I was tired of the pain and didn't think I had the stamina to endure the healing.

And in the image of a great physician, calm and compassionate, relentlessly contending for my highest best even when I didn’t have the capacity (or the desire) to see it for myself, I saw the Lord. Steadfastly picking up the broken pieces of my life and offering beauty for ashes, He stayed. Contending for my highest best until it became manifest, He fought. Offending me with a love that believed in me in a way I refused to, He persevered.

The reality is, going higher will always involve suffering. The nearness of Yahweh will keep us secure, but not always safe. It will hurt and it will cost. But even in the seasons of re-breaking our bones, we can see Him as gracious and kind and abounding in love because we know we have a God who says, “Come as you are.” And when we do, He is faithful to make us more like who He is. Whole. Restored. Healed.

"God is confident that we will look back and be lost in wonder at the spectacular love that planned 
even our darkest moments." - T. Keller

12.14.2015

three things from 2015


This year did not go the way I anticipated. There was hurt and confusion and questions still unanswered. But in the midst of the mess, I saw Jesus quietly, steadily inviting me deeper. Deeper into His presence, deeper into trust, deeper into abandoning my life and claiming His. 

The simple truth is, Jesus wants to dwell in every room of my heart, even (read: especially) the dark, hidden, scary ones. This is my story of Him opening the doors. 

1. Jesus is big enough to be questioned. When life makes no sense I do not have to pretend like it does. He is a safe place. I can come to Him, questions and frustrations in hand, and know I will not be turned away. He is a good Father who invites us to walk through the hard places with Him. 

2. Waiting on Jesus is never wasted time. I wouldn’t mark this year fruitful, at least in ways that are seen. This season was a lot of waiting, a lot of resting, and, well, a lot of trying to resist the rest offered to me too. But maybe, just maybe, His slowness is for me to learn the rhythms of His heart and understand grace in a new way. Maybe His slowness is a chance to test if my heart will truly say: He alone is enough for me. 

3. He is dedicated to redemption. This is the most precious news! He does not give up on us. He is dedicated to making us new, making us more like Him. It's not always pretty or easy (and, brutal honestly, sometimes I wish He wasn’t so dedicated, so my life could be a little easier), but He is still faithful to take us deeper, pull us closer. So even when I don’t see it, I can trust that everything sad is going to come untrue and that somehow by His good and sovereign plan, it will all be more beautiful for having once been lost and broken. 

9.05.2015

porn + the gospel

many people will choose to keep quiet about porn because it's not a pretty topic.

friends, we cannot be those people.

pornography (which, side note, is defined as "filmed prostitution") is running rampant in our churches. studies have shown that seventy-seven percent of the men sitting in a pew on sunday morning have viewed porn at least once in the last month. it is mercilessly capturing the attention of boys as young as eleven years old. and through its addictive effects on the brain, it is both creating and supplying demand for commercial sex and, thus, sex trafficking.

this evil is bold; truth and justice are bolder still.

porn says: what people don’t know won’t hurt them.
the gospel says: the word of God exposes the innermost thoughts and desires of the heart. (h. 4:12) 

porn says: relax, for there is nothing wrong with your fantasies.
the gospel says: repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand. (m. 4:17)

porn says: your life is found in your hidden adventures online.
the gospel says: your life is hidden with Christ in God. (c. 3:3)

essentially, pornography is wrong because of its message: it rips sexuality from its relational context and presents human beings not as creatures made in God’s image, but as sexual commodities -- something to be bought and sold. porn goes against every fiber of the gospel; the gospel of a Savior that so desperately loved His children that He willingly gave up everything to rescue them, the gospel that gives worth and dignity to even the lowest of souls, the gospel that mends every broken thing, for their good and His glory.

Jesus alone has the authority to redeem & He will surely do it! but He also chooses to use us in the fight for freedom and justice for His children and we cannot take that responsibility lightly. may we be genuinely wholehearted in our pursuits to see women and girls freed from the lust of others.

3.09.2015

three lessons learned in the Haitian bush:


one: children in every corner of the world love the game little sally walker. that + the macarena. you're welcome, Haiti, for educating your youth on such an important & spiritual issue. & well, I'm sorry, Haiti, for the headache you probably have from 30+ little voices constantly singing it. 

two: ministry is more than just holding hands & kissing babies. (this might be a duh, but bear with me.) don't get me wrong, holding hands & kissing babies are my two favorite things to do. but if we are going to tell people about Jesus, they need to be alive -- & a hug won't necessarily save their life. but a trained, professional medical team who can bind up wounds and pull teeth and provide medicine will. & in so doing, they can shower their patients in the live-giving love of the Rescuer with both their actions & their words. does this mean I think only trained professionals should go on mission trips? no, not really. I am the layest of laypeople who specializes only in holding babies, taking ok pictures, and teaching girls how to sassy walk in a circle (see lesson one). my point here is that there are many aspects to ministry and they are all deeply needed. isn't it the best that He uses His hodgepodge of people to spread His good news?! goodness, I love Him.  

three: Jesus will be glorified in His timing. I like to think I'm passionate about the advancement of the gospel. that is, of course, until Jesus shows me a glimpse into how much He cares for the advancement of His gospel. good gracious, the love He has for His glory, His Bride, and His gospel setting up permanent residence in our hearts blows my mind. yall, He is so good to His kids & He is so passionate about His glory. & as much as I want to see Him glorified now, I can be completely confident in the promise that He will glorify Himself, in His timing & through His way. 

11.28.2014

orphan care & short-term missions


While not every Christian is called to adopt, every Christian is called to care for the orphan. As ex-orphans in Christ (those who have been adopted into the family, sealed with the precious blood of Christ), we have the responsibility & privilege to care for & protect the vulnerable. It's like a crazy twist of bring-your-kids-to-work-day, but the Father still invites us in to join His mission. This is the sweetest news. Many disciples act on this responsibility by going on short-term mission trips. In the church (& especially the online Christian community), there are mixed thoughts about how this should be done... Ranging from "do not go on a mission trip at all because it will do nothing but harm" to "go on a trip because your eyes will be opened."

During the past few weeks as I have been getting ready for an upcoming short-term trip, both sides of the discussion have been spinning around in my head & I think I finally have a response. So, for what it's worth, here are my thoughts on orphan care & short-term mission trips.

1. Going is good, but do not go with a "needs-based" approach. When you focus on what they lack and you have to give, it is easy to have a superior mentality. Also, the cycle of poverty is difficult to break when people are simply given things from the outside world. Going with an asset-based approach, though, helps the ones you came to serve & the community as a whole. Acknowledging that yes, there are problems, but overcoming them by identifying & mobilizing resources within a community is, I believe, a more holistic solution.

2. They are not helpless. If you sign up to go on a trip, please know the people you will be serving are not helpless. They are people made in the image of God, who have dignity & self-worth. They might be in poverty, they might lack a job or clean water, but they are not unseen by the Lord. They are known by Him deeply, & they are precious in His sight. They are our dear brothers & sisters, & we are there to encourage them... & to be encouraged when we hear of how mightily the Father is moving in their lives!

3. Orphan care for orphan care's sake is insufficient. If we tend to the orphan while neglecting to speak of the wonder of the cross, we are doing nothing but comforting them in their bondage. Our primary reason for going should be to make much of the name of Jesus! He alone is worth serving; He alone is worth giving our lives to. Good deeds alone are insufficient to save, the children desperately need to be hearing the power of the gospel through our words.

Biblical missionality doesn't mean our job is finished after a week, it means walking with people... in the mess, in the chaos, in the unknown. Biblical missionality doesn't mean having all the answers or supplying all the needs, but pointing them to the only One who can. Biblical missionality doesn't mean being the hero, it means identifying with someone we otherwise wouldn't, solely because the gospel unites.

6.01.2014

Two things.

1. The Lord is so sovereign. If there is one thing I've learned these past six months, it's this. Woven into every song, every conversation, every encounter is this sweet reminder -- the Lord's got this. He is lovingly in control of His family. There is nothing too small for Him to care intimately about. There is no area of my life that Jesus cannot look at & say in all His authority, "Mine." ...because the Lord is sovereign over every aspect of my life, & moreover, He is the loving Father who cares for His kids. This is the sweetest news, people.

2. He is worth the unanswered questions. This season has come with many, many questions & most (all) of them still remain a mystery. Learning to live with this weight of uncertainty is not easy; learning to fully trust that the Father "never denies us our hearts desire except to give us something better,” (thank you for your words, Elisabeth Elliot) is way prettier said than done. However, I'm finding that there is something beautiful about lessons learned in the waiting seasons, about saying yes to Jesus even when you don't fully know what you're committing to. So while I still face uncertainty & I don't have the answers, I trust His heart. He is good, He is faithful, & He is for us. He is worth where I am & He has promised to meet me here.