Thursday, March 31, 2011


As a Christian, I have a unique take on suffering, one different than what the world thinks I should have.

There are many times when I want to give in to what the world expects from me, and the mindset the world thinks that I should have, namely that my suffering should cause me to blame God, be depressed, rebel, cease growing in righteousness, and separate myself from those who have loved me the most.

But I must refuse those indulgent offers and walk in accordance to the Bible.

The truth is that brokenness and sin entered the world, and continues to flagrantly display it's disgusting head all over our relationships, health, and lives. The world was perfect, and man sinned. Because of that, we were cursed with suffering and sin through and through. We were broken from relationship with God. We deserve death. That is horrific suffering. After all, a crime committed against an infinite God deserves infinite punishment. But God, in both his justice and his love, sent his son Christ to die for us and take that infinite punishment in our place. Three days later he was resurrected- showing that he beat death. And because of that, if we believe in him we can be back where we started... a whole relationship with God. Now instead of being overcome by suffering, we can  have hope. Hope that God is good and that we are redeemed, and that one day we will be back in a place where there are no ramifications of sin.

In order to have hope I must call on the one who BEAT death.

When my dad died, I must reach out my weak hands and rest in God because I know God is doing everything for His glory (and my growth). 

When things get hard between friends, I must think, "Lord, you know this is helping me to see my own sin, and thank you."

When I am broken and poor, financially or spiritually or mentally- I must think, God, you own the cattle on a thousand hills. You are my provider, and the hope I place in you will not be a disappointment.

Does not the Bible say many things about this topic?

Romans 5
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;  perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. 
Romans 8 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[k] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 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.
Hebrews 12 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? 8 If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all.

And the list goes on. The bible never says that suffering is something that a Christian will never go through- in fact the evidence says quite the opposite. Look at Paul who was thrown in Prison. Jesus was KILLED. Many of the disciples were killed. Job went through hell basically. But God, for whatever reason, brought them into the situation and through it. 

Something that bothers me about many health and wealth "therapy" preachers, is they do not teach their people how to suffer well. Instead they teach them to whine to God about getting them out of it immediately, because surely God would not want them to suffer. And if we say that suffering or hard circumstances hinder or destroy the work that God has done, are we not saying the the enemy has control over God? Are we saying that Jesus did not beat death? Oh my heavens. 

I do not think it is wrong to pray that God will deliver us from suffering, but the man centered idea that we somehow have to overcome all suffering because it means that God isnt in the picture? I dont know about that.

What do you think? How do you deal with suffering? Any different take? What would you say to someone who is suffering?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

How To Wake Up In The Morning

I struggle to wake up in the morning, and that is because at night, I am wide awake typically and struggle to fall asleep. How about you?

Through trial and error (read: being late to work and class and sleeping through important meetings and learning how to be an adult) I have learned some helpful methods on:

 How To Wake Up In The Morning

1. Drink water before bed. A whole cup. A cup of tea. By morning you will need to wake up to use the bathroom- your body will let you know.

2. Use more than one alarm clock. I use three. My cell phone, a regular digital clock, and a psychotic clangy thing that I want to beat up every morning.

3. Place them around the room so you have to get out of bed to turn them off.

4. Depending on where your bedroom is located, maybe you can leave your door open to allow the noise of people moving around in the morning wake you up.

5. Get in the habit of going to bed at night. Crazy, right?

6. Leave the blinds open so the morning sun shines right on your face.

7. Have your roommate yell at you through the door, "Do you want to graduate in May or don't you?"

8. Have your mom call your cell phone until you answer it, and then not hang up until she can hear the sink running.

9. Sleep with your cell phone just out of arm's length from your pillow.

10. Make sure your alarm/ringtone is OBNOXIOUS. No quaint little tones in this game. I like to use PhoneZoo to find the best annoying ones.

11. Do not drink coffee, pop, or carbonated/alcoholic beverages 2 hours before bed.

12. Think about the paycheck you will get if you make it to work. And think about how you will be fired if you don't make it to work.

13. Pray to God.

14. Set your internal clock. Right before going to bed say to yourself: "I need to wake up at 6:00am." For some reason, this works.

How do you wake up in the morning? Are you a morning person or a night owl?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Book Review and Giveaway: Reverberation

I just finished Reverberation by Jonathan Leeman. It is one of those books that clearly brings forth truth that a lot of us take for granted, don't understand the importance of, or just ignorantly forget about.  It is also one of the best books I have read in a while and I definitely recommend it. Any church member would do themselves and fellow brothers and sisters in Christ a lot of good by going through this book.

Reverberation is about how God's word brings light, freedom, and action to His people. Leeman asks straightforward and necessary questions, helping us to see that maybe we have not rightly prioritized God's word, some even loosing confidence in the Word of God. The goal of Reverberate is to essentially help us see that God's word, working through God's spirit, is God's primary instrument for growing God's church. In fact, God's word is the most powerful force in the universe. God created the universe through his word (Genesis 1:3). He is recreating it through His word (2 Cor 4:6). And He sustains all things by His word (Hebrews 1:3).

Of course we give lip service to that, and we "know" that stuff. But how does that knowledge actually translate into how we choose a church to belong to? How does it translate as church leaders wanting to grow their churches? Does it?

This is one of those books that I wish I could write a review by just quoting the whole thing to you.

The book concentrates on three main topics: the word, the sermon, and the reverberation, and traces how the word of God should reverberate through them all.

1. The word invites and divides, acts, frees, and gathers. 
I love how Leeman challenges us to build our churches based on biblical ideals, and that people should join our church because they are in love with the gospel, not because our church is the cool church or the baby boomer church, etc. He also points out that there is a difference between "removing distractions" from the word of God, such as uncomfortable seating, and "creating attractions" in our churches through clothing style, or dramas. He even gives a helpful look at how to remove distractions but not create attractions through clothing, humor, music, charisma, and good works. These are simple concepts, but how many actually take the time to intentionally think about how to simply remove distractions so people can focus on the Word that is being taught, which is what Paul calls us to in 1 Corinthians 1. We should take away all distractions and look to what the Bible wants us to adorn our church with: the holiness and sacrificial love of Christians as they live out their lives together.

 The book also challenges readers to unite their churches around one thing: the gospel. Not social affinity. Not ethnicity. Not "coolness." Not intellectualism. Not age. Leeman proposes that giving into that temptation risks undermining the gospel. Can I get an amen?

2. The sermon should expose, announce, and confront.
In a section titled "How Then Do We Preach?" Leeman has some very intelligent things to say that I wish I could rip out and just give to all the pastors I know. He speaks to using creativity very wisely and carefully, realizing that it is NOT our creativity that builds the church, but it is the word of God. The goal of any sermon is to expose God's word, not hide it among our creatively packaged opinions. He compares it to the mailman, a reporter, and a receptionist- they don't deliver their own letters, but someone else's, they don't make up the news, they report it, they don't receive a phone call and pass on a random message, they pass on the caller's message. Likewise, a pastor must preach the word of God and not his own message or ideas. He proposes that the best method of preaching is gospel centered exposition, so as to "expose God's word" and let IT set the agenda, instead of coming to it with our own agenda, which is a danger of topical preaching.

I really appreciated how Leeman approaches sermon theory. Much of what he says is counter cultural, even among the Christian culture, but in my opinion, he is spot on.

3. The reverberation of the word- how it works, how it sings, prays, disciples, scatters, and once again invites.
 One thing that stood out to me in this section was the chapter titled "The Reverberation Sings." The section is talking about the point of singing in church, and the point is that "singing in church should be about the church singing." It goes on to say that
"God has given music to the gathered church so that the people together can own, affirm, rejoice in, and unite around God's word. Far better than the sweet harmonies of a few trained singers is the rough and hale sound of pardoned criminals, delighting with one voice in their Saviour."
 What a different, glorious, and BIBLICAL take on the purpose of musical worship than the typical concert style "special music" programming of many churches today.

Again, I really enjoyed this book.
If you are a church member, pastor, worship leader, mom, student, teacher, small group leader, christian in general, I recommend this book to you.  Jonathan Leeman shares with us some really helpful and prudent wisdom about the word of God and how the word "brings light, freedom, and action to God's people," and how we can make this truth alive in our churches and lives. My brief overview does not do it justice.

So, I am going to give a copy away! ::GIVEAWAY CLOSED::

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Grocery Store has Got You Pegged

My "Food and Culture" class is fascinating and we get to learn things like this:

Interesting statistics about grocery shopping:

-31 percent of us arrive at the supermarket with a list. But it doesn't matter: only one-third of your purchases are planned. 

-According to one study, there are four types of guests: dieting, economizing, indulging and impressing guests.

-The consumer buys more soup if it is shelved out of alphabetical order. How much? If alphabetized, sales drop exactly 6 percent.

-Toothbrushes, if placed at eye level, will increase in sales by 8 percent -- no more, no less.

-Cereal arranged by type (flakes, brans) rather than brand will fall 5 percent in sales

-Milk at one end and bread at the other to force the shopper to trek the length of the place and will then buy more.

-Sixty percent of all supermarkets begin with produce; the others begin with flowers. "The idea is to introduce the consumer into a realm of freshness and crispness, of color and beauty."

All information taken from  The Theory Of Supermarkets by Jack Hitt in The New York Times Magazine on March 10, 1996

 Last week my roommate and I were at the local Stop & Shop grocery store and we had a very limited time to get everything we needed. I rushed through picking up everything I thought I needed, and when I got home and assessed, I ended up with 4 cans of soup. I don't even like soup that much. I feel like I was tricked!

What kind of grocery store guest are you? Do you make shopping lists? Do you ever some home with things you just didn't need?

Any tips for "beating" the grocery store?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Gone Like a Chocolate Freight Train

I made the most delectable desserts yesterday, and once I set them out at our Sunday evening service, they were gone like a freight train! Here is the recipe for a winner every time! And so easy!

1 eight ounce package of cream cheese
1 package of double chocolate Oreos
1 one pound bag of some sort of cooking chocolate (melting chocolate, baking chocolate, etc)

Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Serving: about...... 40-50 little guys


1. Smash the Oreos to a pulp.
 Suggested methods: zip lock bag and hammer, rolling pin, or potato masher.

2. Mix in all of cream cheese. This works best if you have some sort of intense appliance like a KitchenAid, or if you don't have that- then use a mixer, or just be aggressive. The resulting consistency should be a little bumpy, not totally creamy.

3. Roll cream cheese/Oreo mixture into one inch balls -perfect and bite size. Place on tray with wax paper or aluminum foil on the bottom. Or have a friend help! Melissa was right on the game with it.

4. Melt your chocolate. Double boil or microwave, whatever technique that does not involved burnt chocolate and fire.

5. Roll the cookie balls in the chocolate for a light coating, place back on tray.

6. Optional: Garnish with any of the following: coffee grounds, white chocolate shavings, course sea salt, chopped peppermint candies, or pretzels. Here is Cat doing a batch with coffee grounds!

7. Freeze or refrigerate for approximately one hour, or until solid. Serve immediately or keep in sealed container in fridge!

Like I said, its a great recipe and it will definitely be made again!
Have you ever tried these or any sort of variations?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Fabricum Idolarum

Why does a box sitting on four wheels, rusty, engine pumping
-represent my freedom?

Why does a wooden plank with 4 legs, in my dining room
-represent my hospitality?

Why does a two legged, tall, dark, handsome, john smith
-represent my love?

Why does a slender and sleek ability to soar
-represent my joy?

Because my heart is an idol factory.
Manufacturing quality goods since 1989.

I need to shut it down.
Listen to me, heart:

"It is for freedom that Christ has set me free. 
Stand firm, then, and do not become burdened again by a yoke of slavery."
I am free from the bondage of sin.

"Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others."
I can be hospitable despite my circumstances.

"I will be glad and rejoice in your love
for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul."
God's love sees me and know's me.

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid.
 I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people."
Christ is my true joy.

Now that is the truth.