Friday, January 28, 2011

Hope & Ugly Truth

Today I journaled out of Jeremiah 27 & 28. The interaction begins with God filling Jeremiah in on His plans to set King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon over several other nations, including Judah. Other prophets had been telling the people that this situation would be short-lived, but Jeremiah knew the truth meant they faced captivity “until the day I [God] visit them.” There was no time-frame for freedom, but there was a promise of providence if they yielded.

“Then the prophet Jeremiah said to Hananiah the prophet, ‘Hear now, Hananiah, the Lord has not sent you, but you make this people trust in a lie. Therefore thus says the Lord: Behold I will cast you from the face of the earth…”  -Jeremiah 28:15-16a

Hananiah couldn’t believe that God would plan captivity for His people. He couldn’t accept that blessing could be possible within the confines of those circumstances. The people had squandered their promise and God responded justly. Maybe Hananiah had good intentions. Maybe he didn’t want the people to lose heart. He didn’t want them to be consumed by the judgment of captivity. But in the end, Hananiah wasn’t doing himself or the people of Israel any favors. He imposed his standards of mercy and justice on God and prophesied a lie to the people. He offered them false hope that would paralyze them when judgment came. While Jeremiah’s message was much less pleasant, there was hope residing in the ugly truth: “Roll with God’s judgment and you’ll find mercy and blessing. Rebel and find wrath.”

This dynamic exists in different shapes and forms in faith today. Name it-Claim it. Prosperity. The message of grace erasing consequences. Problem-Solver Jesus… if we “get” Him like we “Get Jesse” then everything bad goes away. These messages cripple the people of God. When they inevitably face trials, hardships and suffering; when they collide with the brokenness of this world, they’re left floundering and shaken because their tidy solution never came around. The rainbows and butterflies never showed up! The truth is, God has given us grace and strength to face whatever foe or crisis comes our way. The blessing isn’t perfect circumstances or lack of consequences – it’s an all-sufficient Savior who offers forgiveness and promises never to leave nor forsake us. The blessing is in the character and contentment that come with trusting Him. God is always just, always strong, and always good – even when this world and life & death and suffering try to tell us otherwise. There is intrinsic hope in the ugly truth when we trust the Lord.

God takes this stuff seriously. Hananiah lost his life for causing the people to trust in a lie. As a follower of Christ, I have a responsibility to be a voice of truth that speaks and imparts real hope to God’s people; a voice that equips others to stand and flourish, even in the captivity of their current circumstances. 

Monday, January 24, 2011

Fickle Jesus

I found this on my computer today as I was cleaning up files and such. I wrote it about two years ago, and I'm happy to report that some of this has changed. But still, isn't it interesting how one can profess belief, but often operate in opposition to that claim? I know who Jesus is and what He's about, but I don't always live like it. 

This is a description of the Jesus my insecurities, fears and lack of faith often reflect. I want that to change.

I do not know Jesus as I claim.

I know a version of Him.

I’m acquainted with a Lord who fits rather well into my mindsets and traditions.

I know a Savior who has answers and offers them to me in familiar and encompassing promises.

He’s somewhat trustworthy but not always capable of addressing my concerns and meeting my needs.

He hears my prayers but requires my assistance in coming up with suitable solutions.

He doesn’t mind so much if I put off spending time with Him. He understands my busy schedule and is gracious to share me with all of my important and pressing commitments.

This Jesus is passive concerning the eternal affairs of man. He’s glad when someone is saved, but is sympathetic toward my fear of man and lack of urgency in reaching the lost.

He conforms to my emotional state. His nearness or lack thereof depends on how I’m feeling at any given moment. His plan wanes when I am frustrated or desperate, and is absolute when I’m on board.

He loves me, but doesn’t require much of me, except when I fail. Then he’s terribly disappointed.

He’s susceptible to my whims.

He’s flippant with the aching desires of my heart, and seems to withhold for no good reason.

How fickle this Jesus is.

Monday, January 17, 2011


The other day I got to spend the whole day playing with Jude Hansen. First, let's talk about how low maintenance and enjoyable this child is. Seriously. I was SO nervous going into this gig (apparently I am more fearful of how to interact with a one year-old than I am of presenting the Gospel to an "unfriendly" room full of Chinese skeptics... go figure). But Jude was an absolute delight! Aside from having to occasionally redirect him from playing with light sockets or eating floor fuzz, he was so easy (although, I may have gagged multiple times over his one poopy diaper that required changing)! Maybe my maternal instincts are finally kicking in. I've always been a late bloomer.

Late in the afternoon I brought Jude to my house where my mom was watching the kiddos. My five year-old niece, Olivia, is really into babies right now, and she was SO excited that I was bringing Jude over. Except that she thought "baby" meant tiny, little immobile peanut that she could swaddle and smother with love and kisses. "I thought he'd be smaller, Auntie. He's so wiggly." The entire afternoon as Jude crawled and explored, Olivia followed him around with pillows and blankets. Anytime he would stop, she would wrap the blanket around his legs, or put the pillow in front of his face in hopes that he would decide to lay still and cooperate with her desires to nurture him. I even caught her trying to carry him around and I think she only nearly dropped him on his head once (don't tell Marli). What a great helper! She was so sweet to watch.

On a related note, Olivia is soooooo ready to have a baby cousin (her current cousins reside in California). She asked her mom a couple weeks back when I was going to get married and have a baby so that she can have more cousins. Incidentally, I have the same question. :)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Let Me Explain

I’m one of those people who feels that in order to post a blog entry it needs to be long and thoughtful and well-composed. It most certainly cannot be about the ordinary or mundane. Blog entries need to be clever and profound, gripping even.

While I haven’t led the most glamorous existence since my glorious return to America, I certainly have had thoughts and experiences worth sharing. The problem is this darn constipation. No, not of the bowel variety. I have had the worst case of verbal constipation. The more refined might call it “Writer’s Block.” But I’m a straight shooter, and I won’t be faulted for it. I call ‘em like I see ‘em. If there’s something in there that ain’t movin’ like it should. If it can’t come out…

Well, you get the idea.

Anyway, I’d really like to revive this blog with the flavor of my new reality. Hence, the new name. I feel like it sums up my life pretty well. You see, Jesus has this incredible way of infusing purpose into everything I do – noble or monotonous, stupid or spectacular. He somehow redeems it all, and in so doing makes everything worthwhile. That’s worth writing about.