Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Hallway Uncensored

"In Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us." Romans 12:4-5

The saying goes something like this, "You don't realize what you've got til it's gone". Well, my roomies are gone (don't worry, its only temporary- spring break!) and I've been realizing what I've got: some freaking sweet sisters and friends that I get to do life with everyday. One of my favorite parts of college has been the deep friendships that have grown from living with a variety of people over my five years here. It's been an incredible blessing to learn from different members of the body of Christ and to be able to look back on individuals who have "lived a life worthy of the calling" in such a way that has sharpened my own walk with the Lord (Proverbs 27:17).

With this in mind, I've just gotta say it: my roomies, Whit, Deeds and Mal are beautiful followers of Jesus but they're also pretty quarky gals. I'm gonna take this opportunity to celebrate how freaking great they are.

Whitney is quite possibly the most purposeful woman I've ever met. An illustration: last year I lived in a room underneath her and could hear whenever she walked anywhere in her room. Now this is not an exaggeration- I never once heard her take a hesitant or uncertain footstep the whole year. Every movement was directed at achieving or accomplishing a specific goal from getting a diet coke from the fridge to walking over to her alphabetized filing folders. Speaking of organization, the other day I was hanging some clothes in my closet (haphazardly of course) and I had a fleeting thought to color coordinate (which I almost instantly dismissed) but I know it was Whitney and only Whitney's influence on me. Whit, you'll be happy to know that I did put some of my striped items together. Whit's prowess on the soccer field has also been a source of great joy for me as we are united under the banner of "unskilled, painfully awkward to watch but ridiculously over-confident and outlandishly outspoken" players. Her one and only goal at the ARC soccer fields will forever remain seared in my memory. She also has an uncanny ability to talk to anyone, anywhere about anything and I think most people walk away from a conversation with Whit feeling quite normal and maybe even somewhat boring. She's got some pretty remarkable talents, experiences and fast facts (steer away from politics unless you're well-informed!) but I'm not gonna give them all away. The coolest thing about Whit is her boldness to speak the name of Jesus Christ to all who have ears to listen. She is unashamed in proclaiming the righteousness of our God and in Christ crucified. This has been a source of great conviction and encouragement in my own walk. Whit's hunger for the Word and her giftedness in sharing its infallible Truth with unbelievers and believers alike is amazing.

Deidre Facklis might be the sweetest and most unexpected surprise-friend I've been blessed with this year. What a freaking gem. Some words that come to mind when I think of Deeds: eccentric, astute, messy, brilliant, random, compassionate. Deeds is known as the "constant whistler" in our house and if you're reading this Deeds, I just want to tell you how much I miss the incessant, tuneless whistling coming from the bathroom, stairway and upstairs! Deeds has this shockingly impressive ability to pound ridiculous amounts of food and remain the bean-pole that she is. It makes me proud to be her friend. I consider it pure joy and blessing to watch this girl grow in her love and passion for Jesus. She is taking the Lord at His Word when He says, "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart" (Jeremiah 29:13) and as He has with all of us, I have been privileged to witness Him "take her back from captivity" (Jeremiah 29:14) and seeing this deliverance has been as watching one come to back to life. Deidre is testament to the sovereign working of the Holy Spirit that transforms the souls and hearts of men and brings them to joy and peace through the cross. Her soft-heart that breaks for the lost, the broken, the unloved, brings me to my knees before God, asking Him to create in me a similar heart of boundless love for His people.

Lastly, where can I even start with Mallory Peckels? Those who know her well know how lucky they are and those who don't should consider their lives, what they're missing out on, and make some immediate steps to reconcile this grave mistake. Don't think I'm kidding. During what I refer to as "The Freedom Years" which are basically the previous four years when Mal and I weren't stricken with lactose intolerance, you could most likely find Mal walking down High Street with 4 cups of UDF ice cream in her hands- Mal is generous and giving, and does not like to eat food alone. Over the years, she's forced large quantities of junk food on me which I usually say "no" to six times and then finally cave on the seventh when she is also raising the spoon or fork to my mouth. Mal is also quite partial to Get Rich Schemes that are offered through sketchy experiments and back-alley offices in the far corners of OSU Campus (consult her for details or if you're interested in getting involved). Pretty Peckels is my partner in intercessory prayer and God has blessed us with a like-mindedness in each other that I have rarely, if ever, experienced in another friendship. Mal walks the road of a humble servant daily, "laying down her life for her friends" (John 15:13). Her self-examination of her life, her sin, her attitudes, her habits, is the unmistakable result of the Holy Spirit's sanctifying work in her life. She has and is being refined into a beautiful child of God. This is evident to all.

It is written, "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 1:31) and so I boast in the Lord alive and active in the hearts of my roommates. What a cloud of witnesses! I am humbled by these ladies' lives and I praise God that He is a God who creates relationships that are made real and true and life-filled through Him. God is good.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men so that we will not grow weary and lose heart." Hebrews 12:1-3

Friday, March 20, 2009

Our God.

All the power required to do all that He wills to do lies in undiminished fullness in His own infinite being.

The Presbyterian pastor, A.B. Simpson, approaching middle age, broken in health, deeply despondent and ready to quit the ministry, chanced to hear the simple Negro spiritual,

Nothing is too hard for Jesus,
No man can work like Him.

Its message sped like an arrow to his heart, carrying faith and hope and life for body and soul. He sought a place of retirement and after a season alone with God arose to his feet completely cured, and went forth in fullness of joy to found what has since become one of the largest foreign missionary societies in the world. For thirty-five years after this encounter with God, he labored prodigiously in the service of Christ. His faith in the God of limitless power gave him all the strength he needed to carry on.

The Knowledge of the Holy
A.W. Tozer

Monday, March 16, 2009

Notebook Surprises

It's finals time and for me, that means locking myself up in my room, lighting some candles, listening to internet radio 24/7 and drinking lots and lots of tea. It also eventually leads to one of my favorite activities- tossing all my notes and assignments into the trash (of course, some of them I chose to keep but this is very rare) and walking away in freedom once that final exam has been written. Today I was sorting through my binder and I found a random page of loose leaf that I had written on during one of my oh-so-boring classes (undoubtedly astronomy 162). Here's what it said:

He must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. Luke 9:23

"In every stage of the spiritual life, there is a variety of hindrances to attaining grace or growing in it. Yet, all are resolvable into these general ones: Either we do not deny ourselves or we do not take up our cross." -John Wesley

Where is my denial?
I am permitting all.
Lord, forgive me.

It's funny how the same conviction that led me to write 'I am permitting all" is hitting me just as hard today as it apparently did during this random moment during class. Although God says that "Everything is permissible", sometimes I get carried away and allow this freedom to rule in my life such that I lose sight of the discipline and obedience that flow from a heart set on loving and worshiping God because He is Above all else. Obedience is not legalism when it is Christ-centered and love-filled and sometimes I need the reminder that Yes, Christ has set me free, but now, what will I do with this freedom? Worship Him and not myself. That's the kind of freedom the Lord created us for. I pray that this conviction doesn't get tossed away alongside the rest of my notes but that it stays on my heart and leads me to denial, taking up my cross and following Him daily.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

He Saved Us!

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior so that, having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.
Titus 3:4-7

Friday, March 13, 2009

Romans 2:21

"I do not set aside the grace of God"

I can't grasp it. I can't fathom why I was offered it. I can't value it rightly. I can't understand its completeness.
Yet I cling to it.
Because in all my inability to see it for what it really is, God mercifully causes me to know that its the only thing worth clinging to.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

I Am Second

Why Am I Second? Cause Christ is Everything for me. I can't do anything on my own and I can't live for myself as I have in the past. I've tried so many things to fulfill the need in my life but I am convinced that there is no true joy, no reason, no purpose, no satisfaction apart from Christ.

Friday, March 6, 2009


Alright, I have a public confession to make. This has been on my conscience for about the past day, and I just have to say it.

I know the answer to the economic crisis befalling the USA.

I've known it for awhile, pretty much all my life, but I've been too scared, too timid, to tell my American friends. To share the secret of a land so bountiful that its own inhabitants will not divulge its secrets or all the population of the world might come pouring over its borders in an instant.

The secret, my friends, is one word: Saskatchewan.

Don't believe me?? I speak nothing but the facts when I say that Sask is booming right now.

-over 6000 available jobs
-exports more oil to the US than Kuwait (I have no clue how much oil Kuwait exports, but thats beside the point)
-just discovered one of the largest findings of sweet, light crude oil (again, don't ask me for any details on this point)
-only province reporting a decline in unemployment rates

Just sayin...

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

TVs or Jesus?

We watched this video in one of my business classes the other night as an illustration for a concept we were discussing. I was pretty repulsed when I first saw it, but its fueled a lot of thoughts since then. If you watch the first 30 seconds, that's enough. I warn you that the following video may disturb you but its not graphic.

My initial reaction was to turn to the dude sitting next to me and say, "Are you kidding me? Is this really going on in our country when there are kids starving in Cambodia?" Which I'd say is a natural reaction for most people who have done a bit of traveling and seen the disparities that exist between North America and the rest of the world (or looked down an alley, been in the slums, walked through the projects of their own city compared to their own neighborhood). But looking past the attempts to reconcile our material wealth in light of the extreme poverty elsewhere and the intrinsic sin of loving material wealth and possessions (Matthew 6:19, 6;24) that plagues our nation, I couldn't stop from examining myself and wondering if I am really any different. Conviction. Sigh. Here it is:

As creatures made to worship, how apt I am to worship the things that God has given me and neglect rightful exuberance for Christ himself. People, sports, food, fun...God gives these gifts to us (Matthew 7:11) and yet what a grievance that we become so consumed and excited by these things and our passion for our Savior falls to the wayside in the process. How often do we throw a huge party centered around food, fun and people, mutter a 30 second prayer before we eat, and forget that the greatest enjoyment of life that exists comes from our LORD Himself??? Don't get me wrong, I love enjoying the things that God has blessed me with, but the root of the issue is this- is my delight and enjoyment of these things in right proportion to their true value? Or am I flying off the handle at a Bluejackets game and then barely keeping my eyes open during an hour of prayer?

What would it look like if my exuberance for Christ was proportional to who He is? If we are thinking rightly about God in all His infinite glory, I wonder how such joy and delight would manifest itself in our daily lives. All other worldly joys would be trounced and trampled underfoot as God's vast character transcends all else. Would we even be able to control ourselves from ridiculously bold worship? Maybe we'd look a bit like David who, "danced before the Lord with all his might" (2 Samuel 6:14) and declared "I will celebrate before the LORD. I will become even more undignified than this and I will be humiliated in my own eyes" (2 Samuel 6:21,22). I know those of you who know me well are hoping that I don't bust out any dance moves, but I think God might have His own appreciation for them...or at least the heart behind them. Lol.

I wonder what these Walmart shoppers would look like if their zeal for TVs was redirected at God. They look like pretty passionate people...I think it would be an awesome sight to see.

May our love and delight for God overflow in our lives in a manner that declares that He is Above All.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Weekend Guests!

I have some pretty cool dudes coming to visit me this weekend! My two brothers (one by blood, the other by choice) are gonna be visiting Columbus and beyond over the next few weeks and are stopping in for some much-needed bonding time.

They're a ton of fun and although The Hallway (our less than roomy house) is a bit limited on space, it should be a great time!

Turning in Faith to Him

The upcoming thoughts of graduating from college have produced a lot of different things within me: excitement, anxiety, violent outbursts, fear, joy, sweating blood....there's been a pretty good range of emotions that have played themselves out over the past month or two. The reality of the current economy and my somewhat "complicated" scenario of being an alien in a foreign land (literally) have given me enough reason to feel some stress and pressure for the future. Yet, as in all things, the infinite character of our God continues to comfort me through the ups and downs of uncertainties. Really, what is our life but continual opportunity upon opportunity to be sanctified, to seek to glorify our LORD and to declare His love to the nations?? I know that no matter how uptight this US of America is about letting a little Canadian stick around, no matter how bleak the economy looks, no matter how many doors are closed along the way, I am in the hands of an Almighty God who seeks the good of His people (I have to remember that His "good" is often not the same as my own projections of "good"...but it ends up being much better in the end!)

A.W. Tozer slammed some truth down that really spoke to me:

To believe actively that our Heavenly Father constantly spreads around us providential circumstances that work for our present good and our everlasting well-being brings to the soul a veritable benediction. Most of us go through life praying a little, planning a little, jockeying for position, hoping but never quite certain of anything, and always secretly afraid that we will miss the way. This is a tragic waste of truth and never gives rest to the heart. There is a better way. It is to repudiate our own wisdom and take instead the infinite wisdom of God. Our insistence upon seeing ahead is natural enough, but it is a real hindrance to our spiritual progress. God has charged Himself with full responsibility for our eternal happiness and stands ready to take over the management of our lives the moment we turn in faith to Him. Here is His promise: "And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them." Isaiah 42:16

Sacrificial Prayer

"I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing." 2 Samuel 24:24

Intentional, sacrificial prayer has been on my heart for the past 2 weeks.  This is a new thing for me.  It's easy to pray as I walk to and from class, as I exercise, as I sit in the car, as I go about my day, and fit prayer into my schedule as I wish.  But where is the sacrifice involved in that when I conform the Lord to my schedule and find that convenience in my relationship with Him is enough?  Is He not a God that deserves to be glorified and honored?  To be sacrificed for?Giving up something to be completely and utterly alone with God is what I'm talking about.

What a merciful and loving Lord we have that we can seek His face throughout the activity of our day.  He is available to us at all times as we lift our hearts to Him.  As Wesley says, "Prayer continues in the desire of our heart, though the understanding be employed on outward things."  And yet this rich joy that the Lord has been gifting me with lately has come from going one step further and getting alone with Him, getting on my knees before Him, getting silent before Him, saying "no" to something else.  

David said, "I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing" and God answered his prayer on behalf of the land.  May we not merely offer God a half-hearted and convenient effort in seeking Him in prayer, but give that which costs us something and see our faithful Father move on our behalf.