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


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.