Sunday, December 06, 2009

A Vision for the Head and the Heart

"So there is a second task needed in winning people over to a vision... Not only must there be thorough exegesis, there must also be a portrayal of the vision that satisfies the heart as well as the head. Or to put it another way: we must commend the beauty as well as the truth of the vision. We must show that something is not only right but also good. It is not only valid, but also valuable; not only accurate but also admirable."

This quote speaks of biblical manhood and womanhood ( ...), but I think the truth of vision casting for anything should take on both the factional rationale and the appeal to the heart. What a great application for any teacher, evangelist, or visioneer!


Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood.
Chapter 1 by John Piper, p. 33. Piper and Grudem, eds. Wheaton: Crossway, 1991.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Empty Hands

Beautiful empty hands
in this dark night of my soul.
I've nothing to bring,
I never did.

But the emptiness reminds me
that the day it all began on June eleven
I could barely understand,
but I believed.

The cleansing water was sprinkled.
Jesus washed away the guilt of my sin.
My life exchanged for His
and the Spirit entered in.

No reason for boasting -
I played as a child, but something had changed.
Peace dwelt in my heart
first I'd ever known.

No returning to the land of death
even today in my dark night.
God changed me forever.
I am His.

Still to this day
I proclaim with joy these empty hands.
I've nothing to bring my living King.
Praise God, I never did.

(C) 2009 by Kendra Hinkle.

I Boast No More

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

My grandfather died this past week, so I spent the weekend at the family farm where I grew up. I'm glad that I'm part of a family who has a good name - a reputation of hard work, dedication, and loyal friendship.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Randomly Me

I don't know that I ever spend time writing about my personal life. I usually seem to have a purpose in sharing something God-focused. That is good. But I think it misrepresents who I am, if that's all I show you. So, here's my random story for the day.

My friend Peggy and I decided to go walking at the Lake Ray Roberts this morning. We like the trails, though they aren't quite as good as Colorado, Washington state, or the Smoky Mountains. It's mostly flat around here, so we hike with the mountains in our imaginations. The lake is pretty.

On the way, I almost killed us. We were completely on the wrong course at that point. Somehow we were too busy talking to notice a turn. As of yet, we've not made it to the lake as planned even once. Always stinkin' lost in the car. Maybe we'll get it next time.

Anyway, after we figured out that we were lost, Peggy told me to turn left. I confidently prepared to turn right. Peggy pointed out that I was turning the wrong way - which didn't register in my head for a while. Then as I figure out the problem, she decides to tell me we're about to die. I had failed to see the red light.

Burnt rubber stinks bad. I think I burned up most of my brakes.

We eventually got to our hiking spot, after only one wrong turn onto the well-marked "maintenance only" road. And with our luck, the national adventure race championships were being held. We didn't realize that we'd be sharing the path with bikers until we got a mile in. And it was completely muddy. We spent most of the time scaling mud holes and watching out for horses and bikes. But it was a workout all the same.

After about 3 miles, I kept giving excuses as to why we should keep going just a little further. (Keep in mind you have to turn around and cover the same mileage on the way back.) I hadn't brought water or eaten breakfast, so at the very least I was looking at 6 miles. But the turnaround point was just around the corner... just a little farther... see that opening ahead... the power lines mean we're close... I can hear the highway... let's just find the next marker so we'll remember how far we got next time... the cows mean there are houses and the road must be close... the trail markers are getting closer together and that means we're getting close... My ridiculous reasoning went on and on. But she didn't draw the line, so we kept on caking mud to our clothes and wading through the bogs.

Eventually, I pointed out the water tower 20 miles away and said, "See. We're almost there!" By that point delirious laughing was all we could do. We both wanted to get to the turnaround and enjoy some civilized facilities before having to turn back around. We could sense we were so close! A woman's intuition should never be questioned.

Ten miles. We went 10 miles total.

At one point I decided I needed to pray for food and water because we both have issues with low blood sugar. Just as I started, "Okay, Lord..." I realized I was passing a water bottle in the brush. It just so happened that it was an unopened, didn't expire until 2011, bottle of Ozarka water. I inspected the seal. Totally unbroken. Someone must have dropped it.

Thank you, Jesus! I would have gotten pretty sick without water on the way back.

There was also a Red Bull in the parking lot at the turnaround, but we decided against the sugar content. We were pretty close to having it, though. Desperate times call for desperate measures. =) It was noon by then, and we'd been going for over a couple of hours.

Four hours later, we returned to the car moving slow motion and caked in mud. We were silent. Too tired to talk. Mission accomplished.

So I got home and made breakfast at 3 pm - scrambled eggs, sausage, and toast.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Grace Demands Grit

Unless you are one of the women I have discipled, my commendation might usually be a safe and well-planned route in life. I would not want to direct you to stupidity. But if I have spent time with you and allowed you to see how I live out my priorities and decisions, then I cannot hide the fact that my life is not safe or comfortable in many ways.

I am driven by grace. Shown mercy and made new - I'm not who I once was. Walking down a hallway when I was 17, I responded to that grace. Somehow. Within. I affirmed the stirring on my heart that working for the glory of Jesus would be the path of my life.

No career.

Just a dream of serving God with my life, my desires, my grit.

Through this commitment, and with grace leading me, I faced my fears within men's and women's prisons. I fed misplaced friends with my last cans of food. I packed my car with the unsettling question, "Where will I sleep for two weeks?" I shared my faith in China and fell sick. My list, and your list, I'm sure could take up pages. But in every one of them, the grace of God drives us. And, for me, I struggle with my flesh the whole way. These choices in faith demand grit.

But what about the daily, mundane, and unromantic moments? When I need to confront in love. When I ask for forgiveness because I'm a jerk. When the commitment interrupts my sleep. When my budget just doesn't cut it. Even here I have to live with grit and look to the enduring joy that is mine in Christ.

Living out grace demands our grit. Every commended Bible man or woman had true grit in life. The path wasn't easy. Difficulty abounded. But joy remained.

Monday, October 05, 2009

God Verbs

God lives.
God speaks.
God creates
and God breathes.

God sees.
God knows.
God stepped down
and God imposed.

God hung.
God prayed.
God reached wide
and God saved.

God calls.
God seals.
God anoints
and God heals.

God holds.
God names.
God loves you
for glory's sake.

God sends.
God serves.
God unites
and God endures.


(c) 2009 by Kendra Hinkle.


-------------------------------------------------------------

Tonight as I said goodbye to the Dallas skyline, I decided to keep the car stereo off. I don't prefer to hear myself sing. But sometimes you just have to respond to who God is and what He's done.

My women's class covered word-smithing. So my mind was ready to choose good, strong verbs. My song became. . .the God verbs. I recommend making your own song, but here's mine. I stuck with one syllable verbs mostly. Sorry there's no tune! I'm not sure how to communicate that. You'll have to make a new one up for your own song.

Have fun with your God verbs!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Old Things...A Quote by J.C. Ryle

It is easy to use them in a cold and heartless way. The very familiarity of them is apt to make us careless. . . Let us strive to use the old prayers, and sing the old hymns, and kneel at the old communion rail, and hear the old truths preached, with as much freshness and appetite as in the year we first believed.


J.C. Ryle, Holiness (written pre-1900)

Saturday, August 29, 2009

On Holiness. . .

"A man may go great lengths, and yet never reach trule holiness. It is not knowledge--Balaam had that: nor great profession--Judas Iscariot had that: nor doing many things--Herod had that: nor zeal for certain matters in religion--Jehu had that: nor morality and outward respectability of conduct--the young ruler had that: not taking pleasure in hearing preachers--the Jews in Ezekiel's time had that: nor keeping company with godly people--Joab and Gehazi and Demas had that. Yet none of these was holy! These things alone are not holiness." (34-35)

"And this I do boldly and confidently say, that true holiness is a great reality. It is something in a man that can be seen, and known, and marked, and felt by all around him. It is light: if it exists, it will show itself. It is salt: if it exists, its savour will be perceived. It is a precious ointment: if it exists, its presence cannot be hid." (39)


From Holiness by J. C. Ryle (Fleming H. Revell Company, New Jersey).

P.S. Not sure I agree with Ryle's full opinion in the book, but was struck by these quotes.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Until Heaven is Home

God once breathed and created;
wind of life birthed the ground.
Hands of splendor formed man's image;
Ruling earth, a servant crowned.

Yahweh spoke and chose a nation,
Set a king upon her throne.
Though expelled in sin - expect, remember.
Cloud and pillar led Israel home.

Immanuel came to call the nations;
Humility's garment enwrapped a child.
Justice and compassion intermingled,
Upon the Son His wrath not mild.

Little ones gathered with bated breath,
Raised for heaven, called from death.
Spirit moved and walls were shaken;
Ruah anointed the fellowship with oil.

Shout and dance --
God resides among His people.
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
With the saints today are found.

Stand up, honor, adore your Lamb.
Our time is short to make Him known.
Praise the Lord wholly invested!
Praise Him until heaven is home.

(c) 2009 by Kendra Hinkle.

This is a personal psalm I'll come back to later. Not too fond of it, but working with paralellism and the traditional structure of a Psalm was fun. I've tweaked and changed some of the order...so it really doesn't follow the correct form any more of the Biblical Psalms.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

The Conversation in Psalm 51

Cleanse me, because You alone are holy.

Fall on your knees, child of God.

Purify me, for You alone are able.

From within I will restore you.

Breathe into me, so that I may live in your presence.

My Spirit is with you.

Deliver me into joy through brokenness and faith.

For I delight to see my Son living through you.

Your glory on the mountain is a wall for this city.

Don't be afraid. I am in my place to uphold the heart of the righteous.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Spiritual 911

. . .the "first aid" in every spiritual accident is the simple act of telling Him everything.

Lewis Sperry Chafer, He that is Spiritual

I like this quote today. It reminds me of David, of a repentant heart, of the close proximity of God to the sinner.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Your Word

Lord, your word stands before me.
it towers from above me.
my authority.

Lord, your word searches me,
discerns me,
knows me.

your word holds firm,
unbending,
convicting.

Lord, your word humbles me.

your word is love,
discipline,
and pain.

from your mouth
torrents of grace,
today.

your word heals,
cleanses,
hope restored.

from your lips,
truth.

trustworthy.

good.

You.

(c) 2009 by Kendra Hinkle.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Guard Your Heart, part 2 (Psalm 139:1-5)

Proverbs 4:20-27 taught us to guard our hearts by humbling ourselves under godly teaching and making daily choices consistent with God's truth. But has anyone else ever cringed at the prospect of godly teaching? I like to receive truth and make my own judgments independently. That's very different from making my life vulnerable, facing accountability, and receiving feedback according to the Bible. Does truth have to be that personal? I like my independent rights as an American!

If I have to be real, then most likely you will see that I'm easily crushed under that kind of honesty, or I puff-up in pride when I receive constructive criticism. The fear of man in me LOOKS like obedience from the outside. But when I'm real, I must painfully admit that the fear of man and sin often motivate my daily decisions.

Psalm 139:1-5 considers the scrutiny of God as a blessing. 

O, Lord, you have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You understand my thoughts from afar.
You scrutinize my path and my lying down,
and are intimately acquainted with all my ways. . .
You have enclosed me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.

To "scrutinize" literally means to winnow. In the time of David (the Psalm's author), farmers harvested grain and beat it out at the threshing floor so that the kernels of grain would break free from the plant. Piles of grain and chaff were left. The threshing floor sat atop a hill, usually a flat place available to the community. As wind blew across the top of the hill, farmers would toss the grain into the air. The heavier kernels would fall to the ground and the light chaff would catch the wind and blow away. Farmers used winnowing as an act of separating the valuable from the worthless.

If someone's path and lying down are being winnowed by the Lord, then they have the blessing of a life being separated into valuable and not-so-valuable components. The Lord actively separates the good from the bad, both in outward actions and in the heart. He leads us to remove parts of life and heal places in the heart so that our spiritual lives will be healthy. They places of healing and removal are like chaff being blown away by the Spirit of God. But other parts have significant value and receive a newfound priority. These build us up in relationship with God and others.

Next, the Psalm says that the Lord encloses us behind and before, and lays His hand upon the psalmists head. Is anyone else feeling a little claustrophobic? I like my space to make decisions (ie. to flex my spiritual muscles), not to be boxed in and held down! But King David found great value in being protected by boundaries. Kings protected cities by fortified walls and strong gates. Shepherds protected sheep by occasionally herding them into pens to keep them from wandering. Protection was an act of faithful and kind love.

Boundaries limit freedom. But boundaries, given by God, also protect our hearts from greater sin. Take, for example, sexual sin that can quickly become a life-entangling addiction. This could be pornography, lust (including emotional lust for women), sexual promiscuity, etc. In American culture today, our rights to practice any of these are considered a private matter. We decide if, when, and how to indulge our desires. But under God's instruction in the Bible, specific boundaries have been laid in these areas, a protection for the dignity of man and the marriage covenant. Even the most private parts of our lives have been given boundaries for the heart's protection against sin.

The Lord's winnowing and His boundaries reveal sin. And that may cause pain, discouragement, or disappointment. Yet, God stays close in faithful love. He presents us with truth, especially in the areas we are not getting what a holy life should be. As we grow, that scrutiny becomes an act of grace -- an effort to draw us closer to Him through the forgiveness of Jesus Christ.

Is God winnowing you? Is He hemming you in behind and before? How so? May we choose to recognize and proclaim His goodness as He does so in each of our lives.


(c) by Kendra Hinkle 2009.
Scripture quoted from the New American Standard Bible.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Sight for the Blind

I recently shared elsewhere about a blindfold I wear for praying through difficult times of faith. The source of that blindfold is the story below. Keep in mind that now I am in Texas, and have been here for many years:

(written Sunday, February 13, 2005 by Kendra Hinkle)

Be Thou my vision,
O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me,
save that Thou art
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.
(8th century Irish hymn)

This past summer, I spent some time playing in the Little Painted Dessert in Arizona with a team of college students. We took off running down the thin pathways of colored rubble, and skated down steep embankments of loosenning rock. After a while there were a few of us left, jumping dry stream beds and discovering fossilized trees while we ran. Off in the distance we headed to a 75-foot drop where you could stand and surf down a crumbling rubble embankment. After my first ride down and ending knee deep in loose rock, I headed up for another try. I gazed about a mile over the landscape, and my innate drive to run began to well up within me. Abandoning a second surf down the hill, I grabbed a fellow runner - a girl on our trip who had already been my adventure partner early in the mornings on the Navajo reservation.

We took off running a new trail through the hills and valleys...keeping an eye to the dot (our van) on the ridge above. Running in that place was a moment I will remember forever. No maps...just pure love for what God enabled us to do. We ran long and hard, and eventually slowed to a walk as we ascended the steeper parts of the trail.

Later that week, we were blindfolded and taken into a van. As the van bumped over rough terrain, a song with the lyrics, "I'm desperate for you. I'm lost without you," played in the background. As I sat there, tears began to stream down my face. The song played, and the memory of the previous run through the Little Painted Dessert played through my mind. There was a God-ordained freedom in that moment of running. No fear. No need for a map. But in my memory, there were no longer two runners tracking among the breathtaking landscape...there were three. I became overwhelmed as I realized that God was with me in that moment, in a very personal way.

The van stopped. Our blind, human chain climbed a rugged trail. Finally, we removed our blindfolds in front of two dead limbs fashioned into a cross. I went off by myself and sat on a volcanic rock ledge overlooking the landscape. I began to sense God calling me to place the blindfold over my eyes both spiritually and physically as I prayed over the decisions ahead in my life, and recited Proverbs 3:5-6, "Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowlege Him and he will make your paths straight" (NIV). It was the same verse the Lord had given me four years earlier upon entry into my current ministry situation. Then, He was calling me to contentment in Him in all of the newness of Indiana, and now He was calling me back out.

As the impact of those moments has joined with my situation, I have decided to follow with a blindfold on. Everything I own on this earth is packed into a 5 X 10 space. My suitcases, which will be my traveling companions, are almost ready. The destination: first to the family farm where I grew up. Solitude will retune and deepen my ears for the Lord. After some more trips to see various family members, I will begin to apply and search with the Lord for what He is specifically calling me to.

Lord, be my vision and my strength. My legs are weary, but yours are sure. I cannot see ahead of me, but I have your voice to guide my steps. No one is like you, Lord. There is none who compare.

Scripture marked “NIV” is taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sometimes...

Sometimes kyaking backwards is an important skill, but you will get very frustrated because I can't navigate well that way and make us go in circles.

Sometimes I get dizzy spells and can't go into the office on time. But I prove I'm sober when get there by walking like on a balance beam and touching my finger to my nose.

Sometimes I forget to zip my fly. Augh!!!! Makes me so mad that I forget so often. Why me, Lord?! Why did I have to get left out of the common sense gene pool?

Sometimes when I'm on walks men stand half naked in their yards and stare endlessly at the sky, or balance on small cement blocks and stare at stop signs. There are some strange characters who live near campus.

Sometimes I do a few pushups.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Screenwriting and Story


Screenwriting might not be my forte, but story is. I'm unearthing some great insight into how I write, read, and speak about God's word, as well as new ways to understand story. The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers by Christopher Vogler is a common text for those in screenwriting and film industry. It's not a book built from how movies are made, but a book resulting from research on how people have told stories from different cultures over the course of history. Many of the movies we see have likely been impacted by people taking cues from this work.

So what is it that draws millions of our dollars, our time, and our attention? Hehe. Read the book and find out. =-)

On a smaller note, the below quote reminded me of how even the small things we do can help people prepare for the story of God as they come to church:

"The great German stage and film director Max Reinhardt believed that you can create an atmosphere in a theatre well before an audience sits down or the curtain goes up. A carefully selected title can strike a metaphor that ingrigues the audience and attunes them to the coming experience. Good promotion can engage them with images and slogans that are metaphors for the world of your story. By controlling music and lighting as the audience enters the space, and consciously directing such details as the attitudes and costumes of the ushers, a specific mood can be created. The audience can be put in the ideal frame of mind for the experience they will share..." (p.84)

I'm not suggesting the ushers wear costumes, and I lean toward simplicity, but at times we could get creative in preparing better for the story we gather together to remember. Instead of simply promoting a church service, why not promote our story along with it? The attitudes of the ushers even!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Down Home

Just a few days before a blind date, my sister posted a whole slew of pictures from our years growing up on the farm. Facebook faux pas! To her credit, I hadn't mentioned the date - but had a good laugh at the timing.

I would be the one in blue, upper left. I climbed more like an ape than a kid. Obviously, my keen sense of fashion started on the farm, too.

It was a priceless upbringing with my sister and cousins. We fished, played in the creek when it rained, ate apples from the orchard, fed grass to the horses, and washed dishes after meals. I love them. They are more like sisters than cousins. The land belonged mostly to our grandparents, and my dad bought a few acres from them.

In the pic, we're playing in a chicken pen-converted-to-playhouse contraption. Growing up on the farm gave ample room for imagination and priority to family relationships.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Lip Tint and Holy



She affirmed, and my heart sank. Can visits to the temple really satisfy the price for forgiveness? Can good works earn you right standing and favor before God? Getting to heaven through good deeds and kindness appeals to my friend's common sense. She says that salvation through Christ alone, offered to those who live bad lives, devalues a life well lived. According to her, we get what we earn.

Our discussion and time in Scripture ended pleasantly, but not joyfully. Seeds planted take time to germinate in the heart, under the control of the Holy Spirit.

How can I explain the nature of who God is? He is holy. His holiness is an attribute. He did not earn it or add it to himself, but exists in that state. So as humans who are included in the "all" of John 3:16 and Romans 3:23, we have been declared sinners. And sinners are not holy. Holiness isn't a trait we can work for or add to ourselves by deeds.

Holiness likens to beauty. Both are traits that pre-exist, and are not added by human hands. Beauty can be enhanced by additions like makeup and clothes and photoshop, but not created by our scheming. Similarly, holiness may be amplified through good works. The holiness of God through a human life is evidenced by actions and behavior, but a sinner cannot add holiness like a Girl Scout badge.

As many hours as I will stand in front of a mirror during my lifetime, I cannot rely on a reflection to measure my beauty. I trust that it is an attribute given to me as one of God's creations. Opinions on attractiveness may vary from person to person, but beauty exists in me through God's hand. Period.

Serving dinners, building houses for the homeless, obeying authorities - all have their rewards. God sees, but he does not call people holy until they believe in Jesus Christ through faith. At that point he reckons to an individual the holiness of Christ. God, who is holy, grants holiness through faith. The works lived out by a person after that point only amplify what God has done in the heart.

While works proceed from a holy life, they are not the cause of holiness. Neither is the measure of a persons beauty solely reliant on lip tint and plastic surgery.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Story

Well, I'm never going to publish. It's impossible. I just can't shut up long enough to wait on a publisher.

I've been working with my main goals for the Bible study in Ruth, and narrowed in on my goal for twenty-somethings as they process through it. I desire for them to clearly understand and be prepared to share about God's redemption story. Little did I know that story is central to the book of Ruth.

I'm reading in the Anchor Bible commentary on Ruth. Edward Campbell spends a good amount of energy looking at the literary structure and format of Ruth. He's convinced the author of Ruth was a genius because of the word plays, poetry, themes, etc. The book truly existed as a story among Israel. How the author goes about the book keeps us involved and anticipating. He's a master story teller recounting a true life story. Partially, it was developed as oral history. So the author isn't creating all of it. But he is using many contraptions to make the story an extremely well-packaged unit.

One of my favorite speakers excells at story and visual imagery. When I listen, I'm captivated. He understands the use of story and visual connection. Because of how strongly it impacted me, I've started to relearn how to deliver and approach teaching.

If we grasp the story of God, we should be able to share it. Not just drop information on people, but involve them in the romance of a loving God, the power of being saved, and the wonder of who He is. This is our God!

So my heart and my research are going in the same direction. It was very humbling to see that God was leading me, and I didn't even realize it.

He loves His story.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Ode to Amber

Amber is the kind of girl who will be your friend for life. She will watch movies with you, dump cold water over the curtain when you shower, and sleep outside the bedroom door when you are deathly sick. She likes to play in the snow and play at the prison in Jesus' name. And she will call your cell phone pretending to be a man. I like Amber. She's my friend.

She likes dogs and kids and yelling loud. And its OK if you don't like to yell. She can do it for you. Her mom makes killer Chex Mix. She is crazy fun. She likes to call you when drunk men are banging on her door in the middle of the night and she's waiting for the police. She likes Phil, Jill, and Will as names for apartment plants. And when you kill it because your office has no windows, she will save your ivy plant. She has common sense. She likes to work hard, do youth ministry, play softball, and visit families in Kansas. She'll even ride in your car with gasoline fumes and sparks, with the possibility of death. She loves Jesus and prison inmates. She'll go to your family farm and climb trees, too.

Amber is a true friend. She will put up with your desire to rearrange all the furniture every few months. She will help hold the loveseat from falling from the second floor though it has been impaled by the bannister because you weren't strong enough to lift it up and over. She won't make too much fun of you when you get mad at the Jello after surgery. She will cry with you when the kitten you almost adopted gets sold. And she will be a sport when you wake her up to tell her what you learned. She'll share with you honestly. And best of all, she'll tell you "don't go". . .just to see how long it takes before you stop giving in and actually go.

It's a good thing Amber is my friend!