Archives for October 2012

Holiness or Justice?

I listen to them argue, watching as each shakes his head and smiles condescendingly while the other is speaking passionately about what he thinks is best.

Surface level respect doesn’t seem to go very far. Those who support each one seem to vilify the other, speaking ugly words of disrespect and hate.

Where should we who follow Christ fit in? 

One group is concerned with personal morality, the other is focused on social justice. 

Are we speaking of parties or churches? Is it telling that we sometimes cannot discern a difference? 

When we bring religion into politics, can it turn people away from Christ? If I cannot agree with one set of ideas, yet that same idea set is anchored to Jesus, I may conclude that following Jesus is impossible.

Surely this breaks the heart of God.

Yet surely one passion is more important. Surely either personal morality or social justice should be our highest priority.

If I have a passion for justice, personal holiness may be simply a distraction.

If I desire to cultivate personal holiness, I may yet ignore working for justice in our world.

Perhaps, just perhaps, a balance is needed.

In describing what brings the wrath of God, Amos says

They trample on the heads of the poor as upon the dust of the ground and deny justice to the oppressed. Father and son use the same girl and so profane my holy name. ~ Amos 2.7

Personal holiness or justice in our world?

When describing the wickedness of Israel, Isaiah says

…He looked for justice, but saw bloodshed; for righteousness, but heard cries of distress. Woe to you who add house to house and join field to field till no space is left and you live alone in the land…Woe to those who rise early in the morning to run after their drinks, who stay up late at night till they are inflamed with wine. ~ Isaiah 5.7-8, 11

Personal holiness or justice in our world?

Jesus, when teaching the crowds how to live, spoke of refraining from lust, adultery and divorce. He also spoke of giving to the poor, refraining from overwork and resisting the siren call of materialism. All in the same chapter of the Bible. ~ Matthew 6

Personal holiness or justice in our world?

Perhaps, just perhaps, we should not choose one to the exclusion of the other. Perhaps we should strive to attain both ideals, following all of what Jesus teaches us rather than excusing away half of His commands.

And what should we do with each other? What do we do with our brother or sister who insists that another course is highest?

Perhaps we should speak of that next week.

I Don’t Have Enough Time

I tell my eldest that this is her last soccer game of the season. 

A loud “Hurray!!” is flung into the air and she spins wildly, sending shin guards flying.

Why so excited for the end? The answer lies in past conversations. Each time we pull out socks and shin guards, she pleads for more time to play. “Please can we go to the park instead?”

Already, at the tender age of four, she rebels against the busyness of life. She doesn’t want activities and events, she simply wants to play.

What is one of the biggest complaints from people all over the country? According to Arthur Boers, author of Living Into Focus ,it is that they are too busy, that they have no time for what really matters.
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–His good, pleasing and perfect will. ~ Romans 12.2

How am I different from the world and culture around me? 

I fill up our days with activities and chores, avoiding the stillness of unplanned time.

I don’t take the time to craft God into our days, don’t leave empty moments open for filling with His Word.

I am not different. 

I have conformed and have not renewed. I stay busy and distracted, wondering why I feel so frantic with no time left over for those who really matter. 

My family, my neighbors, Christ Himself, get left in the dust of my busy life.

I live the same sort of shriveled life that is favored by contemporary culture. 

Would anyone in the world, harried and distracted and seeking peaceful stillness, look at my life and think that I am any different? 


I don’t pose an inviting alternative. I don’t live out abundant life in a way that encourages others around me to take my Christian faith seriously. And why should they? I am living a life just as distracted and busy as everyone else.

How can I draw people to Jesus, how can I be the fragrance of Christ, if I am just as shriveled, just as focused inward as anyone else? 

There is no beauty, no enticement, no intriguing mystery of a life that is different in the middle of this busyness.

I have divinely revealed reasons and divinely promised power to live differently. Will I use my imagination and my courage to do so?

For pushing my own self (and hopefully for you as well!) to take the time to use my imagination and courage to be transformed and stop conforming to our world, I will end with this quote from the president of Missions Resource Network, Dan Bouchelle:
Where does it come from, this endless need to be preoccupied with something? … What is so wrong with our lives that we can’t be still and just be?

Yet, we find God’s grace an embarrassment because to receive it we must admit our need of it. Therefore, we keep going out on the Sabbath gathering manna which grows mold and maggots overnight.  We can’t be still because we cannot bear the unblinking eye of God not knowing it is the adoring gaze of a lover rather than the suspicious glare of a taskmaster. In our anxiety to prove our worth, we obsess over our productivity, seeking to earn the respect of everyone around us, including God. …

We don’t know how to be still and filled with God. We are unable to rest in the knowledge that he has declared us enough. We are loved. We are what he made us and is making us. … But, to accept his grace means letting go of our sense of self-sufficiently and, for many of us, that is just too expensive. It would end all comparison with others and banish boasting. We can’t have that. 

So we now live in a world where taking Sabbath has become a sin. We cannot be still without feeling guilty. We cannot have an unproductive day unless it is filled with working hard at play or we can justify it as “well deserved” by working excessively long and  hard before and after. 

We think our busyness more essential than God’s. After all, God rested on the Sabbath, but we don’t. 

God help us! Help us understand how small and non-essential we are so we can rest, truly rest, without guilt or anxiety, and just enjoy gazing upon your beauty and our blessedness as you gaze upon us with the adoration of a parent with a new baby. 

Searching for My Next Act of Worship

Worship is central to who we are as disciples of Christ.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritualact of worship. ~ Romans 12.1

Our entire lives are to be acts of worship. In church and during the week, inside our homes and outside in God’s creation, serving the homeless and cleaning my toilet, I am to be offering myself to God in worship. No matter what the task.

I have written about worship here before. Worship is part of our job as priests. We are to echo the praise and adoration of all creation back to the Creator. People are the only part of creation who are able to love God back, who are able to give voice to the wordless praise of all creation.


My heart has been aching over this for several months now. 

A large part of who I am is a musician. Music has been a part of my identity as long as I can remember, and a huge part of that musical identity has, from as early as grade school, been to participate in leading my Family in worship to our Father.
Then I heard God ask me to give that up.

I wasn’t sure I had heard Him correctly. Isn’t this the worship He has always asked of me? To use the gift of music that He gave me to serve His people?

Though I balked, I truly did understand what God was asking of me. He was asking me to stop using my music in our church worship service in order to spend more time with my little ones.

He was asking me to give up using my music as my current act of worship.

This made my heart ache to its very core. How would I worship now? In what aspect could my life still be an act of worship?

Then I listened to a video of Sally Clarkson, from I Take Joy, talk about laying the foundation for your children, for your home. She spoke a truth that I should have understood, one that instantly shot peace through my core.

Raising my children is an act of worship. 

My whole life is to be an act of worship. If God is calling me to give up one particular way of worshiping Him, then what is to take its place? 

Being with my little ones.

I breathe and think through this a little more deeply.

God gave me these babies. He gaveme these babies and asked me to raise them into people who bear His image.

Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him. ~ Psalms 127.3

Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates… ~ Deuteronomy 11.18-20


My children are a gift to me and my husband, primarily to me and my husband. Our most precious task right now is fixing God’s Words in their hearts, setting them on the doorframes and gates of our home.

Raising my little ones is my current act of worship.

Suddenly, my heart is filled with peace and joy. 

No more aching, only a sense of gratitude that God has given me such a beautiful way to worship Him. 

I am filled with a sense of the immensity and importance of this act of worship, filled with the urgency that nothing should stand in the way of this worship during this season of my life.

Suddenly, I am not filled with loss for the act of worship I am giving up (for the present) but am filled with contentment for the fullness of the years of worship ahead of me.

May I be intentional about building our home on His Words. May I be purposeful about fixing God’s Words in the hearts and minds of my little ones. May I throw all my being into building our home on Christ Himself. May I let no other good thing distract me from this beautiful worship, from this making our lives sacred.

This. This is my living sacrifice, my sacrifice of praise. In this breathtaking and wondrous season of my life, this is my spiritual act of worship.

Why I Want To Join

I am a logophile, a lover of words. I love the way that different words evoke different emotions, and even when two words have the same dictionary meaning, they can still have very different connotations. 

I love searching for just the right word that paints exactly the picture I want so that others can see what is in my mind.

Five Minute Friday

Every Friday, I get a writing prompt. Just one word, to challenge me to write for five minutes without editing. Just to practice my craft, to practice being able to find exactly the right words. A few Fridays ago, the word was “join”.


My heart was immediately flooded with emotion, just from that one simple word. Everything from sadness and self-doubt in remembering times I was not asked to join, to desire and longing to join…anything.

What is it about that word? Why does it evoke so much emotion? 

It makes me want to belong, want to be a part of something. Not just anything, although there is a part of me that might want to belong to anything, but to be a part of something that really matters. 

I want to join, to be an important part of an important group that is…I don’t know, changing the world?

It almost seems a bit ludicrous, that a such small, simple word can pull such complex feeling out of me. As I thought a bit more about it, though, I realized that this is probably something that God put into all of us. 

I wonder if God has placed a strong desire to join, to belong, to be a part of something, into each of our hearts in order to draw us closer both to Him and to each other and the community He has placed each of us in.

Yes, this is a difficult thing and involves risk and vulnerability on our part.  Yet, as I wrote last week, it is God asking us to do what He has already done.

Perhaps, if we who follow Christ can find the courage to also follow Christ’s example of opening our hearts to those around us, then God will use that desire to join, to belong, that He has placed into all of our hearts to draw those He is pursuing into His community.

I will pray for courage. I will open my eyes to discover those to whom God is asking me to open my heart. I will trust God’s Spirit to do the rest.

Will you join me?