Monday, December 13, 2010

Outrageous Love

How can morally upright people go to hell and the worst offenders of mankind be forgiven?

I sometimes feel the seemingly injustice of God's love. I wonder if I am the elder brother in the Prodigal Son parable, or like Jonah in his bitterness toward God for forgiving the Ninevites. I instinctively feel that people should deserve what they get, whether good or bad.

How quickly I forget that Jesus was butchered on that tree. God can forgive whomever he choses--from the greatest to the worst of mankind.

If Jesus bore God's wrath on behalf of a sinner at great cost to himself, who am I to oppose it?

If he clothes repulsive, despicable people in beautiful robes of His own righteousness, who am I to object?

If he chooses to love the unlovely ones and to adopt them as his own precious children, who am I to speak against them?

God's love is not unjust. It is generous and overflowing in ways that are outrageous to me.

But perched on my high hill of self righteousness, I wonder. Would I not have done all that and more without Divine restraint.

This generous love that exchanges death for life, wounds for healing, mourning for dancing, overflows to me too. It flows over me in an unconditional and unrelenting stream that washes me clean.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. ~Romans 3:23-26

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Consummate Gardener (aka My Neighbor)

I decided to try my hand at gardening this year. I am not a plant person. Whenever I try to grow things, they usually die. A friend of mine once gave me some mint plants. She assured me that I could not kill mint. It was like a weed.

I killed it.

Things seem to be turning around. I am suddenly a hardcore veggie gardener. I'm getting totally competitive with our 70-something neighbors. I can't walk past their yard without an envious glance at their vegetable patch. Why are their tomatoes so ripe and beautiful? Maybe I need to move mine around the yard constantly in order to get the best possible sunlight. (They have their tomatoes on wheels...really.)
I told the women in my running club that I had started a garden this year. The look on their faces made me wonder if I had something on my face.

"You mean like...a vegetable garden? My grandmother does that sort of thing."

Maybe it was my overly enthusiastic gushing that turned them off. I better tone that down next time.

We have already consumed over half the garden. I think to myself, "Who wouldn't want to do this? The food is fresh, cheap and chemical free." Well, at least it was chemical free until my husband put the bug fogger to it.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Just Do Something

I am enjoying Kevin DeYoung's book, Just Do Something. The subtitle is A Liberating Approach To Finding God's Will Or How To Make A Decision Without Dreams, Visions, Fleeces, Impressions, Open Doors, Random Bible Verses, Casting Lots, Liver Shivers, Writing in the Sky, Etc.

The subtitle is pretty self explanatory. If you've ever felt paralyzed with indecision or felt the need to constantly second guess yourself or if you can't seem to make decisions until you know exactly how it will all play out, this book is a liberating read. I've only read the first 4 chapters, but so far I am very impressed. He suggests five reasons for our obsession with knowing the future before we make decisions.
  1. We want to please God
  2. Some of us are timid
  3. We want perfect fulfillment
  4. We have too many choices
  5. We are Cowards

I sometimes agonize over my decisions. I think this is because I selfishly want the best and most fulfilling life possible. Ironically, a life of paralyzing fear and indecision is pretty far from heaven on earth. DeYoung's assessment about my generation in particular I found very interesting.
Some of this is a generational thing. After all, my peers and I were among the first ones to experience grade inflation, where we got A's for excavation our feelings and "doing our best" at calculus. We were among the first to be programmed for self-esteem, as we learned that having a pulse made us wonderfully special...We've been stuffed full of praise for mediocrity and had our foibles diagnosed away with hyphenated jargon and pop psychology. It's no wonder we expect people to affirm us for everything, criticize us for nothing, and pay us for anything we want to do...We want it all--all we need is for God to show us the way. (p. 30)

If we are so puffed up, why isn't my generation confident in decision making? We tend to float through life without committing to anything permanent. We want to keep all our options open. The transition to adulthood and all it's responsibilities is almost despised or looked down upon by peers. Being free and young is the ultimate achievement. It reminds me of a Lululemon bag I saw that said something to the effect of "Enjoy every experience. It may be the meaning of life." This does put a lot of pressure on a person. If you make the wrong choice and miss out on certain experiences, you may miss out on the whole meaning of your life!

If we are in any way believing this lie, it is no wonder that we hesitate to be attached to one person, one job, one place or especially hesitant about having children--those cute little people that consume all our best time and energy. We miss out on a myriad of experiences if we limit ourselves in any of these ways.

I think we feel somewhat entitled to the best experiences the world has to offer. Not only this, but we also desire and expect instant gratification and fulfillment in this world. DeYoung comments on the negative consequences of our insatiable desire for earthly fulfillment:
We've assumed that we'll experience heaven on earth, and then we get disappointed when earth seems so unheavenly. We have little longing left for our reward in the next life because we've come to expect such rewarding experiences in this life. And when every experience and situation must be rewarding and put us on the road to complete fulfillment then suddenly the decisions about where we live, what house we buy, what dorm we're in, and whether we go with tile or laminate take on weighty significance. There is just too much riding on every decision I'm pretty sure most of us would be more fulfilled if we didn't fixate on fulfillment quite so much. (p.32)

There is so much wisdom packed into this little book. One gem I've gleaned is that we don't need to know God's individual will for us before we make decisions. We can trust that God has good things in store for us, set our mind on things above and then 'just do something'. In his own words,"we can stop pleading with God to show us the future, and start living and obeying like we are confident that He holds the future." (p.42)

My Little Cowboys

Taking a ride on Daddy's horse.

H. and his cousins at a rodeo.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Favorite Arizona Moments

We just returned from a lovely family vacation. I thought I would share a few of my favorite moments in picture form.

My boys.

Talking the dune buggy for a ride in the desert.

The view from Apache Trail.

Ice cream at Tortilla Flats.

My two year old watching a rodeo.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Death, Widowhood and Old Age Humiliation

Lately I've been thinking about finishing well.

I sometimes wonder whether my mind or my body will break down first. I think about the frustration of going from competency to helplessness. What will it be like to have my independence taken away from me? Someday I will no longer be able to drive or live on my own. I may not be able to dress or bath myself. I wonder if I will have the humility to laugh or if I will feel degraded. I recently saw an older person stumble and spill their coffee on their pants and someone's floor, and feel humiliated. We will all experience this someday.

I think about having loved ones die, and being alone. I once heard a widow recount how she was no longer included in certain social events after her husband died because tables were set for an even number, and couples like to hang out with other couples.


I wonder how difficult it will be to journey through old age. Why do some people finish so well, and others act with such ugliness. Some are kind, joyful, and contented even though their life is far more difficult then it was in younger years. Others seem bitter, selfish, and they are owed something and not getting their due.

I imagine it is tempting to think, 'Is this it? Is it all over? Isn't there supposed to be some payoff for all the things I've accomplished in my life?'

I'm sure that the difficulties of old age will exacerbate my sinful tendencies. It's easy to be a good person when your life is great, but it's far harder to put sin to death when life is difficult.


The elderly are somewhat forgotten in our world. Their spotlight stolen by the young and upcoming. I am convicted that I desire far too much attention from other people. In the words of Robert Murray McCheyne, "I need to be made willing to be forgotten." If my identity is in Christ alone, then even in my loneliest times, it will be enough. How is it possible that I am loved by the God of the universe--intimately, unconditionally--because of Jesus' work on my behalf? This truth makes me hopeful.


As I contemplate these things, the thing that gives me the greatest hope is this: old age is not the final chapter in life. There is eternity after that. And that is when the payoff comes for those who trust in Jesus for salvation. When our broken, decaying bodies will be made whole again. All that is crooked and wrong in the world will gone and the beauty of our Saviour will be before our eyes night and day. "In Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore."


As I contemplate further, I wonder why I assume that I will live into old age anyway? Perhaps I will see my Saviour sooner than I think.

Maybe this all seems a little morbid. I do realize that there is no surer way to make good company uncomfortable than to talk about death. But I wonder if we too often live in a world where sin does not exist and death does not happen. A delightful, yet false reality.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Silence of Idols

A provoking thought from this excellent sermon by Carl Trueman.

"Think very carefully about what you worship because that sums you up. That is all you are at the end of the day."

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Everyone struggles to justify their existence. Although, I think that often our generation just tries to escape. It's fairly easy to live in a world of entertainment--a false reality. But even so, we cannot do this for long. Inevitably, there has to be some meaning in life. We need to have some sense of worth and purpose.

Everyone has their identity in something. The thing that you absolutely cannot live without--a successful career, family, lover, intelligence, money, or friends--whatever that thing is, that is your identity. It is what your life is centered on. It is what makes you feel fulfilled.

Some of these things are good in and of themselves, but as Tim Keller says in his book, Reason for God:
If we take our meaning in life from our family, our work, as cause, or some achievement other than God, they enslave us...The good things that enslave us are good things that deserve to be loved. But when our heart loves become inordinate, then we fall into patterns of life that are not unlike substance addiction. (p. 165)
The problem becomes apparent when one of these things fails you. Who are you then?
If anything threatens your identity you will not just be anxious but paralyzed with fear. If you lose your identity through the failings of someone else you will not just be resentful, but locked into bitterness. If you lose it through your own failings, you will hate or despise yourself as a failure as long as you live. (p. 165)
Biblically speaking, putting our identity in anything other than God is sin. To value something more than Christ is in the truest sense idolatry. I think we often don't realize how much we value something until we are threatened with losing it. If there is something other than Christ that we cannot live without, we are on very unstable ground.

We may think we are independent--that we don't need anyone or anything. But what if our independence is taken away? Who are we then? We always live for something. Whatever that something is controls us. It becomes our master. I know that some people feel that Christ is a hard master and that Christianity is a straightjacket. I couldn't disagree more. As Keller says,
If Jesus is your center and Lord and you fail him, he will forgive you. Your career can't die for your sins. You might say, "If I were a Christian I'd be going around pursued by guilt all the time!" But we all are being pursued by guilt because we must have an identity and there must be some standard to live up to by which we get that identity. Whatever you base your life on--you have to live up to that. Jesus is the one Lord you can live for who died for you--who breathed his last breath for you. Does that sound oppressive?... Jesus is the only Lord who, if you receive him, will fulfill you completely, and, if you fail him, will forgive you eternally. (p.172-173)
Having my identity in Christ brings me so much joy. Jesus has shown me such kindness, compassion and patience. He has gently wooed me and healed me. His great love has melted my heart of stone and replaced it with a heart of flesh. I find it a beautiful thing to rest in Him.

Note: I have referenced Tim Keller in this note because I have recently read him and found him to be remarkably insightful into the inner workings of my heart. However, I really should footnote my beloved husband who has taught me everything I know about having my identity in Christ.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


This poem really stirred me. The author writes transparently about feeling low, but also the Christian's call to come out of the valley. Communicated with such compelling and vivid imagery. I highly recommend taking a read if you are feeling low.

Monday, January 25, 2010

For Knox

Sparkling brown eyes full of mischief and life.
You flash your tiny teeth and try to show off.
You are thick like a brick.
There is strength in your arm and determination in your eye.
Will you grow up to be a man of courage?

You fall asleep in my arms,
The most precious of treasures.
Rosy red lips beg to be kissed.
Dark eyelashes fan your silky soft cheek.
You sleep so soundly, securely;
My gentle warrior.
Will you grow up to a world rank with violence?
Will you do the right thing or the easy thing?

Your little voice says, "Mama."
My heart melts.
You race to meet me,
Your soft arms encircle me.
How I wish I could protect you forever,
But you will take flight,
And I will trust in God.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Bifrost Arts

Come O Spirit! An Anthology of Hymns and Spiritual Songs is a beautiful compilation CD put out by Bifrost Arts. According to their MySpace profile, Bifrost is "a sacred music non-profit that exists to enrich the church and engage the world with beauty and truth."

The info I've found about them online is a little patchy at best. It seems like they are trying to provide music that encourages congregational singing in the church. This really appeals to me. The quality of their music is very high, and it seems that good lyrics are a priority. They include many old hymns with new arrangements, but also some new songs.

On a side note, the Kyrie on this album is beautiful, but a little too Roman Catholic for me. I'm a big advocate of church music being in the vernacular so that everyone can understand what they are saying. But apart from this, I love the album. I think the sign of a good album is when it gets better the more you listen to it. And this one does.

The Christmas album is a little darker then your average, but gorgeous in it's own way. Christianity Today says of it, "Think Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas with the life-changing message of peace on earth, goodwill to men." My Kids don't like it as much as I do. When I was listening to Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence, my two year old said, "Mommy, I'm scared!"

I bought my albums on itunes for $9.99 each, but it looks like you can also order them from Amazon.

They have started a blog here, and some interesting reviews here and here.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Yoga: Five Ways of Salvation in Hinduism

I found Vishal Mangalwadi's article here fascinating and enlightening. I have the feeling that most of us in the West have no idea what this trendy new phenomenon is all about. The yoga crowd seems to be beautiful, sophisticated or just really cool. Buzz words like "holistic" and "spiritual" fly around. Christians are divided about whether they should or shouldn't do it. And from what I've heard, most people think yoga's purpose is physical flexibility and stress release.

I appreciated Mangalwadi's perspective on yoga. Although now approaching from a Christian worldview, he has first hand knowledge of the topic. A native of India, he was at one time initiated into Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's brand of Japa yoga (known as TM) in Maharishi's own living room.

Mangalwadi expounds on the global appeal and the religious worldview of yoga, and even the techniques used to alter conscience. (He even explains how to see the 'divine light' through the 'third eye' by gentle manipulation of the case you care to try.)

The problem with yoga according to Mangalwadi is not the exercises themselves, but the philosophy behind them:
Someone may ask, ‘What is wrong with artificially altering consciousness?’ By itself there is nothing wrong with an altered state of consciousness. Sleepwalking, hypnosis, hallucination, even madness are all ‘altered’ states of consciousness. There is nothing wrong with them in a moral sense, even if some of them are deemed undesirable states of consciousness. The problem is philosophical. Is your altered state of consciousness God? If it is not, then does it matter if you consider your own altered state of consciousness God? Is it harmless to call yourself the President of your nation if in fact you are not the President? If your inner self is not God then when you look within could you be looking for God in the wrong place? Is it right to call something spiritual which is in fact physical or psychological? Does it matter if you are mistaken in your beliefs? Well, does it matter if you go on the longest and the most important journey of your life with a map drawn by a person who mistook East for West or North for South?
I was very interested to read his thoughts and observations about the effects of monism. Especially because of his firsthand view of it's effects in India. I sometimes feel that we romanticize things that are foreign and slightly mysterious to us. And yet, this does not help us assess the worth of a worldview. Mangalwadi explains:
The monistic idea that the human self is the same as the divine self and that everything is one, makes our individuality illusory, thereby destroying the very foundation for affirming the unique value of every individual. It should not surprise us that the Indian philosophical tradition, in spite of all its brilliance, could not produce a culture that recognized human rights and the intrinsic worth of the individual. Nor could yogic monism give to Indian society a framework for moral absolutes, a strong sense of right and wrong, fair and unfair. Yogic exercises indeed gave flexibility to our bodies but unfortunately the yogic philosophy gave too much flexibility to our morals – making us one of the most corrupt nations in the world.

Mangalwadi's answer for these problems is biblical. He believes that our problem is moral, not physical or metaphysical.

God is holy – morally pure. We are sinful, not merely ignorant. We have done what we know to be wrong and failed to do what we know to be right. A holy God must judge and punish our sin. God and sin cannot co-exist anymore than light and darkness. Our need is not altered consciousness, but transformed hearts, for the heart is the real core of our being and our character...Our central problem, according to the Bible is that we are sinners. We need a divine Savior who will forgive our sins and transform our hearts – the core of our being.

I found this article informative and sort of a fun read. It also made me appreciate the worldview that has shaped our country and the benefits we enjoy because of it.

NOTE: In case you're interested to hear more from this fascinating man, he is coming to Calgary to speak at our conference Jan. 29 and 30. You can find more info here and here.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Longing to Be Blogging

With the busyness of life and fatigue and babies, I've totally dropped the ball. I am often thinking of things that I would like to write about. Hopefully soon.