Sunday, November 21, 2010


My small group discussed the Jericho story last week.

It's a pretty awesome story, to say the least. It's pretty
awesome that God asks Joshua to defeat Jericho by simply
walking around the city a bunch of times.

But the part that stood out to me the most is actually before
all this happens, when the Lord points at unconquered Jericho
and says to Joshua, "See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands,
along with its King and fighting men." (Joshua 6: 2)

I wonder what Joshua thought. What do mean You have
delivered it into my hands?
You haven't done anything yet.

God basically told Joshua to believe in victory, before He tangibly
possessed it.

God asked Joshua to look at Jericho through the eyes of faith,
to look straight at the mountain and tell it to move.

And He asked him not to dwell on the circumstances
of the Israelites situation, but only on God's power to give victory.

It makes me wonder how often we settle for defeat,
by looking at a Jericho in our lives and not expecting
it to fall. This seems silly in light of God's power and
grace. He is the deliverer in all things, and He promises
us victory.

Two weeks ago, my small group members each shared personal
strongholds, under the premise that we were going to pray
against the strongholds and believe God for victory.

One girl in my group broke down. She has been struggling
with bulimia for 7 years and goes to counseling every week.
But nothing had changed.

She told the group about 5 months ago, but said she didn't want
to talk about it.

This was the first night she really opened up.

Today, I had coffee with her, and she told me through tears
that it's been the first time in 3 years that she has gone two weeks
without forcing herself to throw up.


She believes that God has just begun the healing in her life
through prayer and faith.

The reminder it gave me is simple.

Let's believe that God heals. Let's not doubt His power
to free us of the deepest strongholds and deceptions.

Because He has already granted us victory, but most often,
like in all the healings that Jesus performed during his ministry,
we have to want to be well, believe that it is granted to us,
and then let God handle the rest.

We were never made for defeat. Let's not settle for it.

In all these things, we are more than conquerors through Him
who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life,
neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future
nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else
in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God
that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
--Romans 8

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Gotta Have Faith

Okay, I think I keep saying this, just keeps feeling like it's true.

I've realized that I'm just beginning to understand
what it means to follow Jesus.

What I'm learning is that Jesus should be real and tangible
in my life, simply because He is real and because He offers
me a real experience with Him.

When He says He offers peace, that we don't need to worry,
that He always provides, that He see us as holy and blameless,
that He is mighty to save, that He works everything for our good--
He means it.

He is a God of His word.
And we can live in these truths.
"We can make our theology a reality."

I've been doing a study by Beth Moore where she says something
that really is sticking with me:

"We see little of God because we believe little."

She said with laugh: I wonder if sometimes God looks at me
like, are you talking to Me? Your prayer, your hope--are you
talking to Me?

Because we pray to Him as if He is powerless.
We have come to believe that He is powerless to change
our lives, and our day.

We pray vague prayers so that we won't be disappointed.
We also pray prayers without conviction, with a fear of how
we will feel if we don't get what we ask for.

But I know God wants to do the miraculous in our day,
and in our lives. So I want to start believing God
to be the God that redeems the most
seemingly lost and dark things of this world.

I want to remember that I'm praying to the God
that defeated death, that makes all things new, that has authority
over all earthly powers, that can soften the hardest heart.

Lately, I've been reading the miracles Christ performed.
And when He performed them, He often did so according
to the person's faith.

"Your faith has made you well."

The only thing to conclude from this is that He often
acts according to our faith.

It is also evident that at times the disciples don't see
God's power because they don't believe.

When the disciples failed to cast out a demon in a boy,
they asked Jesus: "Why could we not drive it out?"

And Jesus replied, "Because you have so little faith.
I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a
mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move
from here to there' and it will move.
Nothing will be impossible for you." (Matthew 17)

Seriously. How cool is that?!
"Nothing will be impossible for you."

And the truth of this passage is that God granted
the disciples the power to cast out the demon.
They simply did not have the faith to do it.

I really don't what to miss out on what God can do
simply because I don't have the faith.

So my constant prayer lately has been: "Lord, I believe.
Help me overcome my unbelief." --Mark 9:24

I'm learning to pray with conviction. If God doesn't move
according to my faith, He is still God. He is still faithful.
And His thoughts and ways are always higher, deeper,
and more wonderful than mine.

I will rest in the fact that I know who He is,
and in the knowledge that even though I won't receive everything
I believe for, it wasn't because of a lack of faith.

In honesty, I only sort of know what I'm doing, and I'm counting
on Him to teach me. But I'm convinced that He gives more
when we believe for more. He is pleased with our faith.

"Without faith it is impossible to please God,
because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He is,
and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him."
--Hebrews 11:6

"The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead,
lives in you.
And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead,
He will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you."
--Romans 8:11

"If you remain in me and my words remain in you,
ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.
This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit,
showing yourselves to be my disciples."
--John 15:7-8

Monday, July 26, 2010

Happy 30th Anniversary! (A Day Late...)

One of my older poetry professors commented recently
that there are only three real topics worth writing about:
love, death, and God.

Then he said with a smirk, "good luck with your generation."
"Your generation doesn't believe in love."

But I have to say that at least in my case, he is wrong.
I definitely believe in love, and I know that this is
significantly because I have witnessed my parents
grow deeper in love with each other as the years pass.

I am extremely blessed to have parents
who love each other so deeply,
and who made the house I grew up in
such a wonderful place to live.

These verses remind me of the both of you
because you are people who demonstrate love
to each other and all those around you every day.

Happy Anniversary to my wonderful parents!
And praying for many more!

"Let us love one another, for love comes from God.
Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God."
-- John 4:7

"Let us not love in word or tongue but with action and in truth."
--I John 3: 18

"Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins."
--I Peter 4:8

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Just Truth, not Truthiness

My first memory of someone lying to me
happened in the first grade.

A girl told me that if I let her cut in line,
she would bring me a candy bar the next day.

This seemed like a REALLY good deal.
So, I let her in.

And you guessed it--I never got that candy bar.

I can still remember the first time I lied.
I have since apologized to my brother Corey for this,
but he must have been only two-years old
when I tripped him.

When my mom came upstairs because Corey
was crying, I told her that he tripped...
over a rug.

A pretty clever six-year old, wasn't I? :)

But I can't say I gloated in my own cleverness
because I can still feel the shame that came with telling a lie.
It followed me, so much so that it stands out against
the millions of other childhood memories I can't remember.

In that moment, I knew I was evil.
I knew it was wrong to protect myself while hurting someone else.

Everyone reading this knows that these two liars were wrong.
Because these stories reveal simple, selfish, and self-protecting lies.

But I have been thinking about "adult lies" lately,
and how they are no longer this simple.

We don't lie maliciously, right?

We use words like "miscommunication" and "misunderstanding."
It's just to "protect" the other person, to "avoid" hurting feelings.
And we don't lie per se, we just hold some truths back.

When the lie is meant to protect ourselves, it's because the truth
terrifies us. It's because we are afraid of being judged
based upon the truth.

But I have to admit, I have been swimming in a lake that reeks
of dead fish, of miscommunications and hidden truths
that I am sure have good intentions at their core.

I have also seen some women in my small group living in lies.
They've carried around sin silently, then started drowning
in shame, because they can't stand the thought of being judged.
And because they themselves have begun to believe lies.

Either way, it's awful. And damaging.

Because if truth always brings life,
then a lie must always bring death.

And it has reminded to be truthful--all the time,
even when it's hard, because it matters.

I mean, why would I withhold truth from anyone?

Well, I know why. Because it's not easy.
Because for truth to have power, it must be accompanied by
not only humility and courage but also sincere love.

Yet, with these things, truth has so much power.
It transforms us and frees us, even when painful.

I want to be really truthful. And really loving.
I want to be a person who makes people feel that they can
speak the truth to me. Because I can handle it, because
I won't judge them, and because I can accept truth with grace.

"And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free."
--John 8:32

"Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow
up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ."
--Ephesians 4:15

"Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak
truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but
only what is helpful for building others up according to their
needs, that it may benefit those who listen."
--Ephesians 4

Sunday, July 18, 2010

More Than a Feeling

Following Jesus requires much more than a reliance on feelings.

I have been thinking about this because
of the criticism that "kids these days" get
for needing to feel God in order to follow Him.
"Such an experiential generation."

I heard this often when I taught at a Christian school.

And I do think it's at least a somewhat valid concern.
But it would be prideful for me to look down upon anyone
on this particular issue. Because....I am not much different.

No, I don't need to feel.
I have known God long enough to know that even when I don't feel,
He exists and moves on my behalf. He never changes.

But still, when I open my Bible, listen to worship music,
or begin to pray, I desire for Jesus to show up--

to be real and tangible in my life.

But sometimes, (or many times) I walk away from reading
my Bible not only unsure of what I read but also unmoved.

Yet, I have to say that the more I grow in my faith,
the more I feel Jesus' presence in my life.

Even in my most sinful moments,
I can see His eyes looking into mine--
with all kindness and love.

In these moments, I imagine that Jesus' face towards me
looks similar to how He looked at Peter. After Peter,
one of Jesus' closest disciples, denies him three times
and the rooster crows,

"the Lord turned and looked straight at him."

And even though Luke doesn't tell us what Jesus' face
looked like--I imagine Jesus' eyes soft with immense
forgiveness and grace.

I have to say that this Jesus follows me everywhere.
And even in the painful moments or the hard things,
I can sense His light shining upon me,
as His hand holds my heart together.

It's beautiful.

The more I know Him-the more I understand
that His affection for me is deeply intimate and personal,
completely undeserved.

His compassion keeps my heart from going numb
and awakens my soul.

I hope I never stop feeling.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Who says people aren't friendly in big cities?

I love Mac computers.

I won't lie.

And recently, I purchased a new one, since,
someone stole my other one. (KINDA rude.)

In order to get it, I went to the flashy Apple store
in downtown Chicago in order to cash in on the student
deal that gave me a free ipod touch with my new macbook.

But I made a rather big mistake.

I went to the Apple store the same day the new iphone came out.
And a crowd of people (mostly men) were lined up
outside the store, moving at a pace of about one foot per hour.

As I looked at the Macbooks near the all-glass
front of the store, with one of the Apple employees,
I gained a small appreciation for how a fish feels. The crowd
of iphone hopefuls just stood there, peering at us through
the window. They really had nothing better to do.

And then one guy, who must have been at least forty,
started making funny faces at me to try to get me to laugh.
Which worked, of course, because I always laugh when I feel

But I ignored it to the best of my ability,
so that the Apple employee, who had his back to this guy,
didn't think I was smiling/laughing weirdly at him.

When I finally walked out of the store with my new purchase,
the people in line saw me, and one man shouted,

"Hey!!! Congrats on the new Macbook!!"


Almost the whole crowd cheered.
One or two people even raised their hands in the air.
And I definitely saw at least one fist pump.


I smiled, then let out a slightly-too-quiet-
not-to-be-awkward, "Woo-hoo!"
And then I wished them luck with the new iphone.

To say the least, it was amusing. And perhaps a little frightening.

I decided that If I ever see a really cheesy Apple commercial,
where crowds of people cheer outside of Apple stores
for complete strangers who recently bought a new Macbook,
I will think...

That's realistic.

That actually happens.

I mean, it's just another day in friendly Chicago.

Friday, July 9, 2010


Is one of the hardest things to deal with.

Especially when the thing you are hoping for
seems like a good thing. Or a God thing.

And disappointment makes it really easy to question, and doubt,
and wonder why--why the paths to these good things
aren't cleared for us.

We know God has the power to clear the path,
so why doesn't He?

Why, Jesus, won't you make the path to righteousness,
the path to our futures,
clear and easy?

That seems beneficial.
Maybe then we couldn't mess it up.
Or "waste so much time."

So, I (I will only speak for myself here) plead with Him
to make it easy. "For His sake," (which is what I say in my prayers)
but so much of it is for my sake.

Recently, I read a book that described the Pastor of a church
in India. He felt called to a particular village.

But for 10 years, not a single person came to Christ.
His life was threatened numerous times.
And corruption, violence, and godlessness reigned.

I can only imagine that he must have wondered:
God, why did you send me here?
And isn't it in "Your best interest" to bring these people
to Christ?

But despite frustration,
he waited. And waited.
And stayed.

Today, a church flourishes there.
In what was one of the darkest places.

In the Bible, David hid from Saul and the threat of death.
For at least eight years, David prayed for deliverance.
And it did not come.

But eventually, he became King.
And the man "after God's own heart."

These men learned about waiting.
And they learned that change was nothing
of themselves. It was always of God.

And when I think about these two men,
I am reminded that God requires much his followers.
And character is not formed by cleared, easy paths.

It is apparent to me that I must understand my own weakness,
and the reality of the deep-seated, earthly barriers trying
to keep Christ out.

Because only then can I even begin to grasp
God's power to change circumstances,
and the need for dependence upon Him.

Psalm 27:
"I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living!
Wait for the LORD;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the LORD!"