Thursday, August 30, 2007

Hollywood Blasphemy

I've never tried this before, but this is a movie worth starting on.

Try the link on the title if your computer won't do youtube.

To God be all glory.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


For a couple hours Monday, August 20, beginning at 5:30 AM we experienced the thundering remnants of tropical storm Erin moving up from the gulf, arguably causing more damage by flooding than if she had been a hurricane hitting the shore. We don't get storms like that in Colorado. Maybe they're not all that common in Missouri, either. About fifty miles to the north of us 14 inches of rain fell in four hours. Incredibly bright lightning seemed to strike just across the lake from where we were staying, and its thunder echoed through the hills.
The same storm flooded parts of already saturated Texas, wreaked havoc in Oklahoma, as I said, downpoured on Missouri, devastated a town near Toledo, Ohio, and knocked down trees in Chicago, shutting down streets during rush hour.

No sooner did we get home than the weather reports here promised cooler weather and precipitation thanks to the remnants of another former tropical storm, the much-feared category 5 hurricane Dean (much weakened from having spun over arid Mexico before turning north). Here, however, I believe we have only had sprinkles. The usual suspects for flooding got their typical share of rain on the other side of Denver, but we are in the no-rain zone. Tornadoes don't come here, either. One was seen near Broomfield today, which is another Denver suburb.

We see the neatest weather, then, when we travel. I took the picture below on our passage through Kansas for our vacation.
I also took the week to really begin studying the weather. Moving across parts of three states, from one mountain range, over the Great Plains to another mountain range, made it difficult. And in Missouri we were most of the time stuck in a boring, fair-weather pattern. I think I learned a lot, though, and started a weather journal. I've neglected it since returning home, though. There aren't many windows in my house, and we keep them curtained. At work I am in a closet, dimming or brightening through warehouse skylights being my only indication of weather.

If I ever learn anything really neat or if I see a tornado, I'll let you know. Many nights I've dreamed happy dreams of finally getting to see a tornado, and I wake up almost sure it was real. (My dreams are very real. All the tornadoes look fantastically like those in Twister!) Have any of you had thrilling weather experiences?

To God be all glory.

Long Skirts

I've heard girls talk about long skirts, and how they get tangled up in them. Some girls don't like long skirts because they prohibit certain activities, or because they're hot.

I've heard of men preferring women in short skirts or jeans.

I've heard a lot of Christian men saying they appreciate modest dress and long, flowing skirts.

I personally love the look of long skirts, the history of long skirts, the modesty of long skirts, the warmth of long skirts, and the way long skirts make me move.

So imagine my shock today when an almost 80 year old patient at work commented on my ankle-length skirt, "How can you wear that? Don't you trip over it?" And the younger woman accompanying him as his caretaker explained, "He was in the Navy; he doesn't like long skirts."

I'm not sure how the Navy explains an aversion to long skirts. How can anyone not like long skirts? And he wasn't wearing it. I'm not even an important person in his life. So even if you don't like something someone is wearing, if it isn't offensive, do you have to say anything? It isn't as though I fell on my face getting out of my chair, knocking a drawer full of contacts into his lap. I got up gracefully and walked over to my position at what is called the autorefractor to get him pretested.

Reassure me here. Have you ever heard of anyone disliking long skirts?

To God be all glory.


I was just reading an article (to which I was referred by Ladies Against Feminism. The site is listing a lot of good articles recently.) that said the average 18 year old 100 years ago (back when it was common for 18 year olds to marry) were more mature than the average 28 year old of today (who is just starting to think about getting married). The difference is in education, example, and the one they mentioned was responsibility. Families were thrust upon these "children" (by their own, adult choice of course). And the young adults rose to the occasion and matured.

In contrast, we have today the kidult, adultescent, Peter Pan society where the 28 year olds are used to the world revolving around them with limited responsibility, so they aren't ready still to start a family and make life-long commitments.

What bothers me is the addition in these descriptions of kidults of their residence. They are derided for living at home. My question is, if they are not living at home, where would they live? In a hotel? Under a bridge? With a friend? Shouldn't we be encouraging adults, wherever they live, to be at home? Don't couples who get married live at home? Doesn't the Bible teach the importance of having a home and family?

Is the Bible suddenly inapplicable because a person is unmarried and over some arbitrary age for adulthood? Can a person not be responsible, mature, and still living at home? Weren't those very mature 18 year olds a hundred years ago still living at home?

Over my vacation I read a book called Journey of the Heart, in which the main character went from 22 to 24 years old, I believe. And she lived (with her parents) at home. But she was still maturing. Why? Because she was leaning on God to grow her. And because her parents were fascilitating that. They were training her for life and responsibility more than a college usually would, because they were giving her hands on responsibility (on the farm with the animals, helping to teach homeschool classes and even make the lesson plans). Even the younger (non-adult) siblings were being brought up for responsibility. They all had jobs on the farm. One sister was responsible for making breakfast, and another for lunch.

May I point out that their home was more effectively producing mature Christians who are ready for real life responsibilities and relationships than the independence of a college student who on the days he doesn't have classes sleeps in, eats Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and watches TV. Or the one who parties. Or all those adults who learn how to go into debt in order to buy: education, houses, fast food, cars, movie tickets, etc.

Another article on Ladies Against Feminism talked about how our culture devalues children because they're a hassle, an interference to my personal agendas. If we as Christians are going to reject that perspective on pregnancy, infants, toddlers, school-age children, and even teenagers, why does it stop when they cross the threshhold of age 18? Some might say that adult children living at home is a burden. Sounds like the people who say having a baby is a burden. Except less correct, because an adult child is able to, as in Journey of the Heart, contribute.

I have personal and Bible-derived reasons for living at home at my age. My dad has figured out that my goal is for him to marry me off to get rid of me. But I wanted to point out the illogical nature of those who casually associate live-with-parents adults with immaturity. One doesn't necessarily follow the other.

To God be all glory.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Updated Book List

This summer I have gotten a lot of reading done. For summaries of the books I've read, click on the link above. Additionally, I am in the middle of the Last Sin Eater - review coming soon. And I am delighted to learn that the Cross Centered Life which I just picked up from the library after many recommendations is actually a short book. So that should be finished soon. I have every intention of also reading some Lori Wick novels and George MacDonald books, and may soon be purchasing Regina Doman's latest novel, self-published this time, called Waking Rose. In the case of all of those, stay tuned to my reading list for more short reviews, and to the blog in general for fuller reviews of life-impacting books. I will review Waking Rose as soon as I have read it.

Crystal posted this week on the statistics of American readers. 1 in 4 adults, she reports, finished a book last year. With all the overwhelming numbers of books being published, I wonder how the authors and publishers can stay in business. And I am more justified in buying some books at thrift stores.

She also posted a picture of all the books she is currently reading. Crystal seems to be a bit more behind than I ever let myself get, partly because my room is so overrun with books and journals that I don't have room for large stacks like that.

What books have you read this summer? Have you read any on my list? I also noticed that Blogger will link your interests lists to others with similar favorite books, movies, music, etc. again. So you can look up my favorite books list there.

On my business website, I have started a policy of giving away a free book with purchase, if the book is requested. I have purchased duplicates of the books I really love others to read, and they are listed on the website. If you want to make a purchase, then, from my expanding website, feel free to grab at one of the books on the list.

To God be all glory.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Measure of a Man:

Have suitcase, will travel - and the suitcase isn't huge! Maybe he's travelling for work. Maybe he wants to see the world. Or maybe he just knows how to take a nice vacation.

Has a hat, wears it. (One of my best friends requires that the man she marries own either a top hat or a fedora - or both!) This one speaks of adventure and outdoor ability, even though it's just a hat. The man who owns it likes it because it was made in Australia.

He does 'celebrity' with sunglasses. Cool, composed, and incognito, who doesn't admire the right pair of sunglasses on the right face?

To top it all off, chocolate. Need I say more? And this isn't your ordinary chocolate bar. It's the shareable size!

(Please don't get me wrong. I thought this was a great picture. But the stuff is my brother's, artistically stacked, waiting to be packed for our week-long vacation to Branson, Missouri. This is my way of announcing that once again, I may be missing in action for a while.)

To God be all glory.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Solemn Retraction

When you write, every word is important. So make sure you use a word that means the same thing you are trying to get across. For example:

There is a word in Greek, sophroneo, that means self-moderation, to be of sound mind.

In Titus 2:6 ("Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded") it is translated "sober-minded." I think of sober as a word describing a recognition of the seriousness, the importance, the sow-and-reap nature of a situation.

But sober etymologically means "without drink." When we commonly use it as an opposite of drunkenness, that is its original intention.

So what about serious? Serious is probably the closest to what I mean, but still the connotation is gravity, weightiness. It has the historical association of being the opposite of playing or joking.

Solemn, the word I chose for my title on Sunday, has even more of a picture of formality and ceremony, which is not at all what I meant.

Earnest is a word that shows you are sincere and passionate about something. We use it to mean "honestly," but neither that is a correct usage nor as a synonym for serious.

Reverent might do if it were not so set on awe and formality. What I meant to communicate by the word solemn was "without irreverence," or conduct unfitting. Church services are a time for celebration, but not for jokes. God is a serious matter, but that seriousness should cause even more liberal, humble joy.

The reason for writing this post is to say that I cannot find an English word that carries the meaning I wish to communicate. When I wrote Solemn Joy, one of the main points was to describe that attitude for which we apparently have no English word. I hope this additional post has helped.

Perhaps I should say "Selfless Joy," for selflessness points to God. And the problem I have with irreverence is its self-centered motives. It is saying something to draw attention to oneself, or to bring pleasure to oneself. When the focus of our joy is on God, our importance is put into proper perspective, and we won't say or do anything to bring shame on Him (in the words of Titus 2, to cause the Word of God to be blasphemed).

To God be all glory.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Solemn Joy

Our church did communion/Lord's supper today.

You've no idea how hard it was to write that sentence. What should be the verb? What verb was accurate?

We always "do" communion. It is ritual... and so solemn, almost grim.

I wanted to sing out, "Let the redeemed of the Lord say so!" We're not supposed to take the Lord's Supper unworthily, so we try to be reverent. I believe we can be reverently joyful. Joy is hard work. It's a command. And it can be reflective, and sober. Laughter can be about truth.

The sanctuary was silent except for the unnoticed jostle of passing the trays down each row. Deacons waited in the aisles to transfer the trays to the next row, but while helpful, they too were very quiet and solemn. The pastor stood at the front in prayer, and music played. Understanding that prayer was at least the expected activity of the moment, I resumed my conversation with God on the matter of communion. Is it true that no one will see if you don't take the bread? Is it true we don't care if our neighbor declines to partake? Shouldn't we care? What is with this secret surrender at the altar during invitations?

Scarlet juice glimmered in the tiny plastic cup I held in my hand, and I tried to focus on what it meant. Steve Green sang a song about ten years ago titled "My Soul Found Rest." My favorite line is "Pure white mingled with red as my Lord bled, and there my soul found rest." Without hearing the broken, sorrowful, glorious melody, you can't know how piercing the song is. And almost triumphant. It is praise. My soul found rest. I am redeemed.

We don't even know how to sing victory songs anymore. I don't mean taunting songs when you beat your best friend at Spoons. But real, serious victory. They're all over the Bible and premodern literature. Those were some sober, jubilant, and reflective songs. No flippancy could be allowed in them, for the cost had been too great. Yet they were glad songs.

That's part of what I wish our communion would be. Jesus died. He rose. Our sins are forgiven. We are part of a covenant so multi-faceted that is sealed with His blood. And we are one in Him. He loves us. We love each other. He is at work in us, purifying for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. We look forward to His return. He will return for His Bride, the Church. Then He will drink again the cup that last He drank at the Last Supper we celebrate during Communion. And after He made that promise, He asked us to remember Him.

I'm reading Rilla of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery just now. It is a tale of the families at home during World War I. They sent their sons, brothers, and beloveds to war, never knowing if they would return or what would be changed when they did. A young man visited his sweetheart on his last leave before going over the ocean to fight. "You won't forget me, will you?" he asked. "You'll wait for me?" And the sweetheart would always promise not only to wait, but to be deserving of the love of such a brave, selfless man.

I think that is another part of what Jesus was saying at the Last Supper.

To God be all glory.

Silence In Your Soul

I found this poem on another blog tonight. I liked it, so I decided to link it. The verse is short, so enjoy.

To God be all glory.

Shaping of Things to Come Part 6

From The Shaping of Things to Come page 49 and 50:

“No one is considered unworthy of belonging because they happen to be addicted to tobacco, or because they’re not married to their live-in partner. Belonging is a key value.”

At this point I become concerned. We are offering community to the unsaved, community defined by Jesus’ atonement. There is no place in regular fellowship for the habitual, unrepentant sinner. Paul wrote about this problem again and again, rebuking church communities for tolerating behavior that defined them when they walked in ‘darkness,’ and also specifically describing a practice like excommunication in 1 Corinthians 5.

Page 50 presents another concern: “Conversion is a process that does not begin and end with the profession of faith in Christ but begins with the Holy Spirit’s prevenient grace on the person’s life and continues through repentance for a lifetime – kingdom comes.”

This one quote incorporates the most dangerous limits of doctrines implied by the ancient enemies of theology: the Calvinists and the Arminians. Saying that conversion is a process lays the responsibility for accomplishing conversion on us (Arminianism), the human. This fact is immediately qualified, even countered, when they emphasize grace. Well, it’s God doing it (Calvinism), and He takes a lifetime. Still, there is no mention of evangelism as preaching the gospel, of the gospel including calling on the name of the Lord. Ephesians 2 is faded into an imperceptibly slow process, until at the end you can see, “Oh yes, once I was dead.” But right now you’re just in a struggle. Everyone is just in a struggle. There is not so much a line between the enemies of God and the quickened instruments of righteousness. This is the heresy of every cult ever invented.

To God be all glory.

Are You A Leader?

This morning in church my pastor said, "If people are following you, you're probably a leader." I thought that was a challenging insight worthy of being shared.

To God be all glory.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Lions, Logic, and Lepers

"Logic!" said the Professor half to himself. "Why don't they teach logic at these schools? There are only three possibilities. Either your sister is telling lies, or she is made, or she is telling the truth. You know she doesn't tell lies and it is obvious that she is not made. For the moment then and unless any further evidence turns up, we must assume that she is telling the truth." from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

One of my favorite stories we studied during Bible Hour was one that I’m sure I’ve read, but never noticed. In 2 Kings 7, there is a story where the capital city of Israel was besieged by Syria. Outside the city gate lived four lepers, who were not allowed inside the city for the reason that they were “unclean” and might contaminate others with their horrible disease.

Eventually the city was in dire straits, starving for lack of access to food. That is the purpose of besieging a city. You close it up, and provisions run out.

So one day, the lepers had a council. If we stay here, they agreed, we will die of starvation. If we go into the city, where they don’t want us, and where there is still no food, we die of starvation. If we surrender to the Syrians, where they don’t want us, but they do have food, well, our chances look better over there. We won’t lose anything if they kill us.

I kept applying the sheer logic of the lepers to life at camp and afterwards. When we’re making decisions, it may do us good to consider our options. Too seldom do we consider that though one course looks good, another may be just as good or better. Though a situation looks desperate, and all courses may run ill, there may be one with hope. Captain Sparrow says the only rule you need to know is what a man can do and what a man can’t do. I think we ought to follow God’s rules and trust to divine intervention when necessary, not only to our own abilities. But it might do well to think through a situation like Captain Sparrow did (even when he appeared to be staggering about drunk or afraid or desperately greedy).

Four lepers trudged down the road to the camp of the Syrians and found it Syrian-less. The food and clothing, weapons, and riches were all still there, but no one was defending it. (This was an instance of divine intervention that the lepers had not counted on.) Samaria, the capital city of Israel, after a little convincing that the empty camp was really empty and not a trap, was saved.

To God be all glory.

Camp Mail

It is a camp tradition to focus most pranks on the mail system. (There was a bit of fun had with the cabin clean-up, pushing bunks against doors and crawling out the window; or emptying even the mirrors, mattresses, and shelves along with suitcases, etc. out of the room entirely.) If you got a package, or enough letters, you had to sing for it. If you got a postcard, they read it out loud. If something was written on the outside of an envelope, that got read, too. Then there was always the question of what was inside the letters and packages.

One year I sent twenty-four letters in a box to a friend whose birthday was during the week of camp, one for every hour. The same friend received seven random letters from denture ads to a page from the encyclopedia, with letters highlighted spelling Trouble, my nickname with her used for teasing and practical jokes. I sent a mysterious forged love letter. Almost everyone was consulted for speculations on authorship.

This year I limited my letters to ten, sent to various friends, family, and my cabin girls in sets of three. On the outside of some I wrote notes, like the promise not to include denture ads or pictures of girlfriends. Inside was a benign colored collage of the history of tools used for various purposes.

I myself was the recipient of a package of cookies from my mom, and a postcard written from a boy I do not know, so I am quite content of its being a prank. In it the young man, who did not know my age, confessed his secret love while describing my beauty. I don’t think I even blushed while it was read, but I was glad that I didn’t need to make a big point of my singleness to the present company. Later I discovered that my little sister thought I was the age recorded on the postcard. I find that suspicious.

Other jokes were to send rocks, balloons, a lot of fake mushy postcards sealed with a lipstick kiss and perfumed, and maybe even a few (stolen earlier in the week) hats. One of the counselors even sent her husband a postcard, which I believe mentioned packing a teddy-bear. As postcards were read at meal time, the recipients either feigned ignorance (that looking better than appearing to have expected a love letter), suffered blushingly under the stares of the entire room, or in a few cases, leapt for the letter and tackled the camp staff who was reading the post.

The guilty senders ranged from blatantly admitting the joke to hinting that they sent the letters (as I was unwilling to engage in guessing) to complete anonymity and poker-faces. All this dissolved as soon as we were safe in the girls’ lodge, where comparing of notes and laughter over puzzled, red faces of friends exploded.

Good mail was received, as well. The cookies were good. I got notes from home. And a friend worked hard to make me a postcard so I wouldn’t feel left out among the younger friends at camp.

To God be all glory.

"Overall" Impressions

One of the biggest struggles I had the first few days of camp was that I kept worrying what people thought of me. Parents dropping off kids, other camp staff, the kids themselves… my imagination gave all of them sinister doubts about my competence, my enthusiasm, my age, my beauty. It was all silly. And life is not about me. I always forget.

A relief to me during camp was that I had a Sunday school class full of women at home praying for my heart to be content and not worried about boys. Camp has historically been a great place of freedom and delivery in that respect, but I was concerned a little, and my friends at home knew. Prayer matters. It really helped. So I was glad there were no guys there whom I “needed” to impress. Sounds silly. Is silly.

Don’t take this as making excuses, but in any case I don’t really want to be trying to impress someone. I don’t want to care about anyone’s impression of me except for God’s. If something had been “meant” to happen as a result of camp, I still needed to be focused on pleasing God.

1 Peter 3:3-4 - "Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— 4 but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious."

There was a theme banquet the last night of camp, and the theme was Tool Time. I tried to think of something in my wardrobe that looked like Patricia Richardson from Home Improvement, but I really don’t like her style. It is so nineties-mom-tries-to-look-fashionable. So I brought overalls. I had a skirt, too, but I wanted to be a good sport. I also lost track of time and had not time to change, but did anyway. I had intended to find out what my girls were wearing. I remembered at the last second that I had agreed to do something just before the banquet that required me not to be in a skirt, so that was that. I was stuck.

Here’s the funny part: I got a lot of compliments on my theme-outfit. So I was getting attention, and it was positive. But I was so embarrassed, trying to act like a woman ought to act at a banquet, with good, elegant manners. Mixed with overalls and rolled flannel sleeves, that just looks ridiculous. I kept feeling the need to curtsey and remembering.

By the end of the night, the last thing about which I was thinking was my clothes. There were too many people to consider. And I wasn’t thinking about what others thought of me, either. There were much more important things on which to consider.

I wore a skirt the last morning.

To God be all glory.

Nine Girls, Five Directions, One Big God

There were 9 girls in my narrow cabin. We ranged in age from 14 to 22. The churches represented numbered at least 5. By the end of the week two of them had been at the emergency room and one had had an asthma attack. In fact, let me tell you about the last night.

At each activity, counselors were responsible to count, ensuring that all of their cabin was present. If they weren’t, of course, they had to be found. Something might be wrong. Right after chapel, I noticed on of my girls was missing. We discovered she and one of her close friends were counseling with the other girl’s counselor. I rejoiced that God was taking care of my girls, even if it wasn’t through me. All week I kept reminding myself, “It’s not about you.”

Then one of my girls, who sprained her ankle the second day, was needing to follow doctor’s orders, but I didn’t know what the orders were, and she didn’t like the doctor’s orders (see Authority). So that was stressful. I kept trying to figure out how God was going to use her sprained ankle to make the week about Him. As far as I could see, the only thing anyone talked to her about was her ankle.

Another girl had dislocated her shoulder during a game the day before, so she had her arm in a sling and was icing it, but it was still swollen.

In the middle of the last activity of the evening my girl with asthma had an attack, which I might add, I have never witnessed before. Another girl from our cabin, who was sitting next to her, looked up at me when I came to see why the girl with asthma was crying. “I think she needs the nurse,” the healthy girl said. Thank you very much. Um, then call a nurse! Fortunately the nurse was present, and knew she was needed before I had to find her, so she and I and the girl left for the infirmary, where after a breathing treatment, she was doing much better. Her older sister (also in my cabin) joined us early on.

Leaving the infirmary, I caught up with the girl who had been with the other counselor earlier, and we chatted for a while as we walked to our cabin. She said she had a headache and needed a pain reliever from the nurse. With the help of camp leadership, we persuaded her to drink water and get some sleep.

I was half ready for bed when a friend of the girl with the shoulder injury informed me that my injured charge was at the nurse, and would be going to the ER. They would probably want to see me, she said. So I pulled on a sweater, pushed my feet back into my shoes (we wore shoes all day, and I was really tired of them), and prepared to revisit the nurse, wondering what would happen to my cabin. No worries. Wherever I needed to be, there I would be.

I didn’t have to go back to the nurse. An emissary told me what was going on and that they didn’t need to see me.

My brothers and I love magnets. The idea of levitation using magnets fascinated us at one point to where we spent hours trying to get a staple to float between two magnets. If we could get the staple exactly to the point where the forces were equal from both directions, in theory the staple would go no where. We came close to accomplishing our goal. In life, however, I’ve experienced the fate of the staple many times. That night at camp was one. I was pulled in five directions, and just stood in a room, turning in circles, trying to decide where I should go. Finally I got a hug from one of the camp leaders, took a deep breath, and went out and on, looking for my next assignment.

The awesome thing about that night is that even though I was overwhelmed, even though for a large portion of the evening I was with two of my girls and the nurse, unable to know what else was going on, I knew that God, my ONE, big God, was able to (and actually did, as well) take care of each of us. He had other counselors, leadership, friends, sisters, and nurses ready to fill in not the blanks of my ability, but the perfectly fitted puzzle of His plan.

Ephesians 4:16 - "From whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love."

To God be all glory.

It's Who You Are

Each camper filled out a questionnaire including checking off from a list of questions which they would most like to have discussed. Top results were how to be a better witness, how to deepen my relationship with God, and how to know God’s will for my life.

The last question stuck most in my head, and I was trying to figure out how I would answer it. I have chosen a non-conformist life by not going to college, moving out, or pursuing a career. My life goal is to fulfill Romans 12:2, as I’ve written before. And my dream is to be a wife and a mom. Whenever parents, therefore, entrust me with their kids, I get all unconfident about actually telling the kids what my choices have been lest their parents disapprove. (Most parents want their kids going to college.)

So the approach I took was definitely more how I made my decisions, and to direct them to the spiritual side. Ultimately my choices are justified by the command to trust God, and the call to do it radically. In provision for me and my family, and in waiting for a husband, as well as direction in all the ministries and ventures each day, its been a matter of submitting my anxieties and control-issues and demands to God.

Psalm 37:4-5 is precious to me: "Delight yourself in the Lord,and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act."

along with Psalm 32:8 and Isaiah 40:31.

Recently the part of the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus commands us not to worry, because our Heavenly Father knows that we need all these things, has been important to me.

Faith needs to be radical, all-out, nothing withheld.

The truth is that God didn’t leave us hanging without concrete instructions on His will for our lives. We just don’t like the advice we’re given.

"Christianity has not so much been tried and found wanting, as it has been found difficult and left untried." -- G.K. Chesterton

God tells us who we need to be, not always what to do. But that who we are determines what we do, when submitted to the parameters of God’s word. I find Romans 12 always helpful when I despair of knowing God’s will.

Romans 12:9-21 - 'Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.'

To God be all glory.

Clouds and Rain

Up in Estes Park where the camp was, the scenery and weather was so beautiful. There was a thunderstorm/downpour almost every day that turned the paths into rivers and the volleyball courts into ponds. One day we had hail right after lunch that still hadn’t melted by 10 that night. My favorite part was watching the clouds descend over the tops of the mountains into our bowl-like valley from all sides right before it rained. I wrote about one afternoon like that while I was there:

Thunder echoed between the mountains just as we stepped out of the chapel. Already a gentle rain was falling. We ran for our cabins and watched the grey ceiling settle lower over our camp valley. From the porch we could see shreds of cloud pouring over the peaks on all sides. Slowly the cold fingers of the sky enclosed ranks of evergreens standing bold and tall like an army meeting an oncoming foe.

We went into the dim, quiet cabin, embraced by our pillows. Vision fluttered in and out of comprehension, whispered names vibrating us awake with their resonance. The half hour was passed with rest while outside the world was rinsed with an afternoon rain, renewed for more hours’ busy trampling.

To God be all glory.

Wearing a Hug

On the last day or two everyone is running around with a t-shirt and at least one Sharpee. People figure out odd ways to use trees, hands, backs, knees, posts, etc. as tables against which to write. The reason is: we all want a wearable hug, an autograph-shirt of memories from people at camp. Some things written can get silly. My brother can sign his name backwards and forwards. Another kid can do the same, except inverted or up-side-down (backwards every way imaginable).

I usually sign a verse that has been on my mind during the event. This year it was Romans 6:13, accompanied by an admonition to Yield Yourself and Trust God.

So many people signed my shirt, that I definitely have a keepsake there. On the last day you’ve built friendships, and you get a chance to, by reading your shirt on the way home, find out what people thought of you. I know it sounds a little self-centered, but when you’re thinking that maybe you didn’t connect enough with people, or were a bit too timid, or just not energetic enough to be considered cool at camp, it is reassuring.

So I’d like to thank everyone who signed my shirt – ever, because whenever I feel like I’m alone in the world, I have proof that I’m not.

To God be all glory.


One of the testimonies a high school camper gave the last night was about identity. He’d entered high school expecting to be known as the guy who plays football. But he didn’t get to play. So he switched to being the chem. kid, “chemistry whiz.” But he barely passed chemistry. And finally it was back to football. Only he got injured.

Finally, he said, he figured out that God didn’t want him to have an ego identity. God wants us to be His servants. And God should be known through us.

When I was in junior high and high school, I did Awana Bible Quizzing. And that was sort of my identity. If you wanted to hear me talk, ask with interest about quiz, and off I’d go. My fellow quizzers could talk over the same competitions for hours, time and time again. The days on which we competed were some of the best – and most vividly remembered – of my life.

It all started because all my friends were quizzing. So I joined the team, practiced, and our team screamed with excitement because we won. We were third and fourth graders, so I mean screamed. That became a sort of tradition. Each year as they announced places, our teams would squeeze each others’ hands and wait, saving up for the scream. Six years in a row, that is what happened to my team. The eighth grade year there was a three-way tie, and after several tie-breaker questions and only one team eliminated, we decided to share first place.

And then it happened. The next year my team lost. Well, we didn’t lose; we got third place. But to me anything except first place was an inky chasm that engulfed the miserable, bitter “honorable mentions.” I think I had a problem.

Fortunately the next year the best part of the first place team that beat us from the year before joined up with our team, and we soared to amazing, unexpected heights. Our coach was accused of having a ringer on her team, to which she replied, “I have four ringers.” (And four was a full team.)

During that year and the next, once again winning, I was nevertheless learning a lot about teamwork, prayer, humility. For one thing, I realized that in the higher rounds of the national competition, it wasn’t necessarily the team that buzzed in first or who knew all the answers that won. Something else had to be at work, and I realized it was God.

Prayer was the answer. But the prayers couldn’t be of the sort that demanded a win. The prayers my team ended up praying were for spiritual growth, God’s glory, His favor, for lasting friendships, for the Word of God to be proclaimed.

Finally my senior year came, and it was bittersweet knowing that after that I would graduate, and never do quizzing again. But priorities were different as a senior, and while I really wanted to do well and invest in Bible quiz, I couldn’t quite study so much as I had. I wanted so much to go out on top, and feared that people would think that I’d slacked off. So the pride and vanity were still there.

That spring was a spring filled with prayer and surrender. By the day of the quiz, I had such freedom knowing that God’s will would be done, and I could rejoice in it. And while everything went well, my team took second and a friend’s team took first. That team was so shocked and delighted, and deserving, that I couldn’t help but be so happy for them. And I smiled all day.

My last year as a camper, the big brother of the guy who gave the testimony above signed my shirt, addressing it to “Quizmaster,” but that’s not who I am. My identity isn’t Lisa, blogger or Lisa, quizzer or Lisa, anything else. Hopefully people see me and say God is Lord, or God is good, or God is able.

Romans 12:1-2 – I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice – holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind; that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.

But I am still a quizzer. At camp there is a song, No Mountain High Enough, which is famous for one line about strength at which everyone poses to show off their muscles. The camp teacher known as Russell the Muscle because of this song got up after we sang it and began, “I have a quiz question.” At which point I became tense, ready to spring. His question was from what passage of Scripture the song was taken (the point is that nothing is big, strong, dark, etc. enough to keep me from God). The correct answer was also one of the memory verses from junior high that week, so I expected my hand, which shot up, to be joined by a myriad of others. It wasn’t. All alone my hand sat, and of course I knew the answer, but I didn’t want him to call on me. Finally it all came out that I was a counselor, and the answer was dragged from a little junior high camper instead.

I just can’t help it. I’d have had to sit on my hands to keep from participating. = )

To God be all glory.

Authority at Camp

During the week of camp, one of the difficulties I had actually anticipated was dealing with authority. Mind you, the people running the camp, and most of the other sub-leaders and counselors, are my friends, and I’ve known them a long time. I know how they function, and typically understand them pretty well. But whenever you’re in a position of authority and also under authority, things can get confusing.

I don’t want to admit that I’m a leader. I prefer the timidity I described earlier, and decision making for other people is hard work. But if something isn’t being done well, I’d rather do it myself. And if my instructions go against what I think is best, you may imagine I have a struggle making the authoritative instructions preeminent. My personality is independent.

Nothing really big happened, but sufficient conflicts were visible that for the older girls in my cabin, I hoped they got a good example of what it means to be grown up, with your own rights and responsibilities, and to still submit. An almost-out-of-the-house teenager needs to learn these things. So it was nice to be a little transparent with the older girls, and tell them that I disagreed with some decisions, but then they could see I still followed them.

My only big issue was on devotions. Counselors were instructed to prepare a devotional time for each night. We were also encouraged to be connecting with those in our cabins and focusing on their spiritual growth. So when a couple nights the schedule got adjusted enough that I wasn’t doing devotions with my cabin, it was really hard to follow the new schedule. Every other time I had a chance to talk with my girls about spiritual things was just that – chance (well, in the Christian sort of sense). Evening devotions were the scheduled time where they all had to be listening, and they liked it, liked the discussions, I think. They needed to debrief from their day.

I wouldn’t say the authorities were wrong in changing the schedule. It wasn’t sinful, and they didn’t mean to make problems. They were doing as they thought was best, and since they were the leaders, that was their responsibility. I just chafed under different priorities. It doesn’t mean I’m not going back!

To God be all glory.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

I Could Do This Forever

The second morning of camp, Monday, after one and a half days of camp, I was up before dawn wondering how there could be four days left. My feet and eyelids were heavy, and I couldn’t remember a time before camp. So much had happened that it felt like a week.

Activities for every day included a counselor’s meeting at 6:30 AM, personal devotions, breakfast, cabin clean up, Bible hour, a morning activity or preparation for service, lunch, team spirit time, 30 minutes mandated by state law for us to be on our bunks (during which time we talked, did our lessons, and said our memory verses), two and a half hours free time, dinner, an activity (and the word active is in activity), free time, chapel, another activity, and cabin devotions with lights-out at 11 PM.

By Thursday morning, the dawn of the last full day, I was wishing it weren’t so close to over (even though the day stretched out with promise ahead of me). With a little more sleep worked into the schedule, I could have kept on forever.


The intentionality of every day was energizing. You always had somewhere to go, and it was hard to waste time. Days were spent fellowshipping with other Christians, with ministry thrown in naturally. I didn’t have to make decisions about what I should fix for lunch. There was a lot of prayer, Bible study, and worship going on.

“Why?” again

Why is that better than everyday life down from the literal mountaintop? Here I get distracted. There are things I did quite well without, like shopping and tv and even computers. I don’t have my day scheduled, so I waste time deciding what to do and getting motivated to do it. My friends and I have to work to spend time together. And God gets considerably less time and focus.


How could things be different? I think life down here could be more like camp. For starters, we could have prayer/devotional meetings in the early mornings. And every evening we could rotate houses and do a mini, no-practice-necessary worship service where we share what God has taught us recently and what we anticipate for the next day or two. I can play worship music more often, and sing along. I can turn off the tv and follow a schedule. I can be intentional about looking for God’s ordained moments for ministry in the lives of others. I can care about what He’s doing in the lives of others.

To God be all glory.

PS: Amy of Humble Musing fame had a similar post this week.

That Kids Grow Up

I’ve been out of the camp scene for a few years. The last time I was there, those who just graduated this year were about to be freshmen. Adjusting to the fact that they’re all basically adults with plans and responsibility was hard. For one thing, some of them were still awkward and obnoxious adolescents when last I was at camp. Kids I thought were hopelessly irretrievable pests are still themselves, but now they’re leaders, self-controlled (relative to what they were), and considerate of others. The gifts that were puzzling them as freshmen are blooming into ministries and life-directions.

To God be all glory.


The last several months our Sunday school class has been going through a series on building Intimacy with God. My topics have been Isolation and Nothing Withheld, which when I looked over my journals at the beginning of the series, were the subjects that have most drawn me to God. Our series uses an acronym based on John 15’s vine and branches metaphor. It is ABIDING.

At our counselor orientation meeting they camp directors told us that the object of the week, the prayer the camp board had been praying, was that the kids would grow in intimacy with God. Our first counselor devotion was taken from John 15, and dealt with abiding in the branch, our source for bearing fruit. And finally one of the testimonies given by a Varsity camper on the last evening was all about burdens, giving them to God, and trusting God to get you through tough times.

The “coincidences” showed me how providentially God had been preparing my spirit to minister to the campers that week. And the further lessons refreshed and influenced my preparation for teaching Sunday school when I got back. There’s always the chance, too, that God is trying to get these truths into my life. Repetition is a powerful tool.

To God be all glory.


The last several months our Sunday school class has been going through a series on building Intimacy with God. My topics have been Isolation and Nothing Withheld, which when I looked over my journals at the beginning of the series, were the subjects that have most drawn me to God. Our series uses an acronym based on John 15’s vine and branches metaphor. It is ABIDING.

At our counselor orientation meeting they camp directors told us that the object of the week, the prayer the camp board had been praying, was that the kids would grow in intimacy with God. Our first counselor devotion was taken from John 15, and dealt with abiding in the branch, our source for bearing fruit. And finally one of the testimonies given by a Varsity camper on the last evening was all about burdens, giving them to God, and trusting God to get you through tough times.

The “coincidences” showed me how providentially God had been preparing my spirit to minister to the campers that week. And the further lessons refreshed and influenced my preparation for teaching Sunday school when I got back. There’s always the chance, too, that God is trying to get these truths into my life. Repetition is a powerful tool.

To God be all glory.

Fight for Me

I mentioned spiritual warfare, and I have to mention that one young lady had brought a song to camp to audition. The song was Fight for Me, by Danny Oertli, and the lyrics talk about sensing the spirits in the air and crying out to God, who is greater than he who is in the world, to fight for me. And I, feeble little child of God who would rather worry, will remain still. The girl was rehearsing all alone in the community room of our lodge. From down the hall I could hear her enchanting voice pour out the folk-like melody. As soon as I entered her sight, she stopped.

Which was the story of her day. She had stage fright, had misplayed a chord on her guitar when she auditioned but was still allowed to sing. Usually she only sang in her bedroom with no audience. We talked for a while, and I tried to encourage her.

That night she still looked really nervous, so I got to pray with her before she sang (and for her as she sang). She did great. And God fought for us, I know, because we could sense the opposition. The adversary wanted to defeat her, to keep her afraid. But God fought for her.

To God be all glory.

Walk in the Spirit

During my week at camp I was preparing for a Sunday school lesson in which we were studying Ephesians. One of the points was the fact that the unsaved are governed by the lusts of their flesh and of their mind, and those lusts war against the Spirit in a Christian.

One afternoon early into the camp week I was wandering around during free time trying to be a counselor. I was doing what my mind knew I was supposed to do, what I thought I should do, and what would satisfy me as completing the responsibility. Most of my campers were dispersed to the far corners of camp that I had not yet discovered, and the rest were playing volleyball.

Reassuring myself that they were old enough to be independent and smart enough to have brought friends to camp with them, I sat down to wonder what I should do. At least they weren’t clinging on me like the JV girls were to their counselors. But I began to wonder if my charges didn’t need me why God even had me there.

By the evening I had thoroughly repented. I was back to actually communicating with God, content to wait for His opportunities rather than manufacturing my own. When the evening praise began I phased into my own prayer. I needed to be reminded who God was. Just to focus on Him. At first. I needed it. And right there, the first song was all about God and His attributes, His power, holiness, and glory. God heard me.

And the next day I did wait for him, and the day went so much better. I gained insight into my campers – and others, as well. I had purpose but it was to wait on God and obey His promptings. It was to fellowship more with Him.

To God be all glory.


The chapel messages each night of camp were about Nehemiah, and his leadership. Our theme was Tool Time, so we ran with the building connotations and settled on building the wall of Jerusalem. Those eligible for camp have generally a lot of Bible knowledge and are comparatively more mature than your average Christian teenager. We had as our object encouraging the deepening of their relationships with God and as always, training them to serve Him. So I guess the messages could apply to them. While I sat there, I was sure God was speaking directly to me.

Young, first time, typically timid counselor gets nightly pep talk from her Master. He takes her on different aspects of leadership from the fact that we’re all just servants, vessels for His use to the need for boldness. Nehemiah was a real man who exercised real leadership over real people in real situations. I forget sometimes that Bible heroes really are human. It was probably even harder for Nehemiah to ask for three years’ leave from his job than it would be for my dad. Think about it. Yet he prayed and then obeyed.

The counselors of the Varsity (High School) group were charged with overseeing the Varsity service project of the week: doing the chapel service the last night for the younger kids. This involved prayer, skits, service, worship, special music, testimonies, and interspersing themselves with the Junior Varsity to keep attention directed. Through the fault of camp leaders who “hang loose” and long-distance telephone static, I expected to be assigned a sphere of responsibility – or even assistance. Understand that I’m young for a high school counselor, got my application in late, and was chosen to be with the high school group only a few weeks before the camp. So I assumed most of the important jobs were already filled, and I would fill in where needed.

Enter application of Chapel messages on leadership. Some counselors knew their roles. Most of us were clueless. The leaders, as much wanting to form leaders out of their counselors as to leave the kids to take possession of their ministry, would not decide for us. One of the counselors took charge, temporarily exited the room (this was all happening under pressure; kids were waiting to be told what to do next), and came back with a list, assignments for each of us. We looked it over and all consented.

The responsibility I was allotted was to oversee testimonies. Two or three were expected to be presented as part of the service. I’d been on the team once when I was in high school; I write my own Sunday school lessons; and work with high school and junior high a lot, so I figured I could handle it. We had one volunteer. What’s more, he wanted to be part of the service team, too. So the first day I ran around with one of the leaders who said she wanted to be hands-off, and tried really hard, but succumbed to my lost smile and helped me to beg for more volunteers.

The second day I made a bit of progress by seeing an outline of the testimony. Yes, that took all of a minute or two. And I was delighted to learn we had one more volunteer, whose talk was as of yet completely unprepared, but he felt God wanted him to do it, so he was. I’m ok with that. I still had nothing to do. But I had a question: How much time can my charges talk? How much time do we have at all? Who is putting all these components together into one long service? Ok, so I had more than one question.

Depending on the person to whom I was inquiring, I used a different approach. Since I had nothing else to do, I set out to discover the answer. Starting with the nearest fellow counselor, I asked ultimately 4 people. The first person said the worship leader. So I went to ask him. He said it would probably be him, but no one had actually given him that job. The male head of the Varsity camp (one of the hands-off couple) said probably the counselors and graduated Varsity campers. His wife (the other hands-off person) said it was our job, that of the counselors.

Answers so often lead to more questions. Did anyone else know this? I suspected not. When would we decide? Where? How? And how would anyone find out we were supposed to be in charge? I dreaded the thought – sorry to admit it – of going to each person to ask them their opinion. I just don’t like stepping up to people and interrupting their important thoughts… Excuses, excuses.

Chapel service that night had me convinced. I needed to let the Nehemiah story go to my head and call a counselors meeting for the few minutes right after breakfast. Me? Leader? Tell all the other counselors what to do? But as it was God prompting and I could think not only of a plan, but of how to word the plan, I was determined.

And then I slept. And the next morning, I backed out. Resolve is so much stronger when immediate. Tired little me failed in her leadership task. But something still had to be done.

The next morning the hands-off leaders told all of the counselors at our morning meeting that we were in charge of ordering the service. So I was no longer the only one with the information. Still no word on how that was supposed to happen.

A few hours later I was talking to an old friend who was one of the Varsity counselors with me, and wondered when we should get together to make all these decisions. Through a mutual discussion, we settled on the same time I had originally imagined, only a day later. And we decided to spread the word. She took enough initiative to tell her color team co-counselor, and he told the announcement man at breakfast.

The meeting did take longer than I envisioned, but an hour later we’d all worked together to come up with a schedule. Back and forth, pros and cons, logistics and tone. All came together. And God was in charge of it all, carefully orchestrating everything, using us as His tools, His vessels, even though at times He seemed even more hands-off than our leaders.

To God be all glory.

Hang Loose

“Hang loose!” It made me laugh that our Camp Speaker, an Awana missionary & pastor in Illinois, was using the phrase with a corresponding wave-like gesture to me. I’m midwest as Marianne on Gilligan’s Island, and a “sheltered little church girl,” but it was fun.

It was also the message I needed just then. A day or so later I asked him what it means. The meaning seems obvious, but I was looking for history. He just picked it up from a friend. I am imparting to you now the knowledge of research:

hang loose
To do nothing.
To be relaxed and unperturbed by one's surroundings, etc.
- from

to hang loose is to be cool, you are going with the flowIt is a surfing slang from your posture when you are totally comfortable standing on a surfboard, in control but just riding the wave
- from Yahoo Answers

… in Hawaii the same gesture [pinky and thumb pointed out of a fist like a bulls head – similarly used as a Texas Longhorn symbol] pointed forward, and waggled a bit, means "Hang Loose", a friendly signal of commeraderie among the locals, which I've noticed tends to stick in the minds of the tourists even after they go home. And since rich people tend to visit Hawaii often, well, you can extrapolate from there.

To God be all glory.

Camp First Day Frustrations

When I first got to camp almost two weeks ago – how time flies! – I could tell we were under spiritual attack. The camp director’s wife had experienced a broken wrist in the past week and a flat tire that morning. I myself discovered that my clock which I bring everywhere, not being fond of watches, would not work. I use my cell phone, and apparently it refuses to keep time without service. On top of a mountain, several miles from any city, is not a good place for cell phone service. How would I wake up at the unheard of hour of dawn each morning?

The camp asked us not to use scotch, duct, or masking tape to decorate our cabins – protecting the old paint on the walls. Instead, we were offered that blue painters tape, which won’t pull tape off walls. Why? Because it doesn’t stick. That’s for what its made, to not stick. Nor would it hold up the decorations I brought – not even streamers.

I was rather beside myself with giddy nervousness, reuniting with friends, acquainting myself with the ladderless bunks above the sandy wood floor, and the above mentioned frustrations. Mom to the rescue delivered to me my dad’s wristwatch, and he taught me how to use it. I don’t know what he did for the week, but it was such a relief.

You know if I were running a camp store, I would have in it the “Oops! I forgot (blank) at home” items: toothbrush, deodorant, batteries, film, postcards, chocolate, and alarm clocks. Definitely alarm clocks. No such luck. Thank you, Dad!

The frustrations of day one were pointers to God, though. By the end of the day I knew I needed Him, and had cried out to Him from free-fall mode several times. One of the younger girls in my cabin had a similar first day (forgot her towel and pillow, lost her hairbrush: cue up Veggie Tales!), and I felt like our shared experience was a gift of God for us to connect.

Spiritual warfare continued during the week. Especially during invitations and Bible hour, chipmunks would visit the chapel or equipment would malfunction or some silly counselor (yours truly) would spill her pens all over the floor. But we prayed hard and worshiped hard and the messages ended up having an impact. I know. I think they were written for me, just for that week.

In the words of our chapel speaker to me after breakfast one morning, “Hang Loose!”

To God be all glory.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Thinking about Our Worship Songs

One of the things that happened at camp this week (and there will be a lot more to come) was worship. First of all, worship is a lifestyle lived recognizing and responding to God's worthiness. It is a life-sacrifice.

At camp the praise services every night were remarkable. Everyone sang, and we didn't need a lot of instrumental back up. So we could hear voices. The songs were familiar and new, a pleasant mix. The leaders knew the service wasn't about them. Personally, God gave me exactly what I needed in the songs. When I needed to focus on who He is, that was the subject of the next song.

The other thing about our songs that I appreciated was their truth. I don't know if you've ever thought about it, but a lot of the worship songs and even hymns have some strange theology in them. Songs are made to just sound good or emotional or happy. At my church there are some songs I just don't sing. There is one that says, "Holy Spirit rain down." Now what are they saying? Do we really pray to the Holy Spirit? I pray to God the Father, with intercession from the Spirit, in the name of Jesus. And rain down? Isn't He already here, indwelling us?

At camp the songs we sang were simple and Jesus/God-centered. There is an article I found tonight that deals a little with this subject. Find it here.

I want to encourage you to think about what you sing. Is it true? Do you mean it? If it is worship, is it focused on God or on you? Go deeper. Are you testifying about God to others? Are you praying to Him? Praising to Him? Are you lamenting to Him? Is the song about God's character or His activity or His revelation? How does God want to be worshiped?

When you sing, are you thinking about sounding good, looking good, or what the person behind you is doing? Are you enjoying a well-rehearsed performance? Is the electric guitar (or the organ) more prominent than the voices of God's people? What should it be?

Another thought I had coming home from camp is that we sing in our churches in the morning time. At camp we sang every night (and I think every day would be fine here at home, too). By that time, we had experienced God's work during the day and reflected on His grace the past week. So we were compelled to sing, as a response. We were awake. Yet at home, in the early Sunday morning we haven't all those advantages. So why do we sing in the morning? I feel like singing morning praises sometimes, but only when I can see the morning. Inside a church building, you can't really. Just a question.

To God be all glory.