Tuesday, May 29, 2007

new song

Hi from Austin -- we are visiting Michael's cousin, wife and baby daughter -- the second cousins are meeting for the first time. John is having a great time playing with all new toys! It's funny how he likes new toys but old songs -- ones he's heard before. I've noticed that the first time I sing a song to him he's not interested, but after several hearings it becomes a familiar song and elicits a big smile.

I too like old songs better than new songs. In church I prefer songs I know to those I don't. This is probably pretty common. It strikes me how in spite of this, the Psalms frequently encourage (command?) us to sing a new song to the Lord. He likes new songs! Whenever we do something new, go into the unknown, we are singing a new song to him. As hard as it may be, we can trust that he is pleased -- and is with us.

Thursday, May 17, 2007


"Faith is the assurance of things hoped for . . . ." (Heb. 11:1). But what do I hope for? I spend a lot of time hoping that things will change for the better -- things of this world, e.g. my relationship with John as he grows, or our finances or whatever. But I get in trouble spiritually when I put my faith in what I hope to happen today: that dinner will be good, that John will nap well, that I'll have a good day. To take a verse slightly out of context, "If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. " (1 Cor. 15:29).

But if I hope in things that are eternal -- God's faithfulness and goodness, heaven, my relationship with God through Jesus' death, freedom from sin and death -- then one day my hope will be fulfilled, and so this kind of faith is true and warranted. And of course it is this kind of faith that believers are commended for: again, in Hebrews 11, even though they "did not receive what was promised" (Heb. 11:39) . . . yet.

Sunday, May 06, 2007


I heard on a radio show for children a dramatization of the Bible story of Naaman, a Syrian with leprosy. The prophet Elijah (or was it Elisha?) tells him to bathe in the Jordan river and he'll be healed. Naaman is furious and complains: "The Jordan is dirty! There's a million rivers in Syria that are better than the Jordan! I'd do anything, I'd fight battles to be healed. But get in that nasty river?! You must be joking." Of course, after he's convinced to do just what he's been told, he's healed.

I immediately thought of my own situation. God, I want to be healed, sanctified, cleansed of my immature, selfish ways. But I don't like "the Jordan" you've given me! To take care of a baby all day is so difficult. It doesn't come naturally. I'm anxious, fearing that something will go wrong, so I never relax. God, I would rather lead Bible studies, teach, do something that uses my particular gifts and skills. Taking care of John, even after six months of his being with us, still fills me with doubt. I love him, but I thought I would feel maternal by now, and I don't.

This is where God has put me, however, and I can see that this is my Jordan. It's funny how I've changed in some little ways: bad drivers don't infuriate me anymore; some people I used to find annoying are likable now. God is giving me new life in unasked-for areas, and the changes are incredibly minor for all the pain I've experienced. But that will just help me to be humbled!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Why am I doing this? Part 2

From Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Life Together:

God has put this Word into the mouth of men in order that it may be communicated to other men. When one person is struck by the Word, he speaks it to others. God has willed that we should seek and find His living Word in the witness of a brother, in the mouth of man. Therefore, the Christian needs another Christian who speaks God's Word to him. He needs him again and again when he becomes uncertain or discouraged, for by himself he cannot help himself without belying the truth. He needs his brother man as a bearer and proclaimer of the divine word of salvation. He needs his brother solely because of Jesus Christ. The Christ in his own heart is weaker than the Christ in the word of his brother; his own heart is uncertain, his brother's is sure. [p. 22-23]

The other day a plant lover mentioned that everything she plants for herself dies, but what she plants for others flourishes. This seems to exemplify how you can't minister to yourself. The Word has to be shared to be received.