Growing up I learned that God wants us to be kind, love one another, and respect authority. Somehow along the way I incorrectly adapted that message into that I should not “ruffle any feathers” and instead I should seek to make "peace" in all situations. I became very shy aside from the rare occasion I simply could not stop myself from speaking out against injustice, but even then it was often in a whisper tone
It’s late Spring and the sun is high in the Israeli sky. Ruth bends down to collect pieces of barley dropped by the harvesters. She is a foreigner in this land and a childless widow. Fortunately, Israel has provisions in its law made for people like her, a woman with little lot in life, so she can glean in this field, and at least she won’t starve. When she returns home, the only one to greet her will be her mother-in-law, Naomi. A woman who too has seen loss: a husband and two sons. Naomi now desires to be referred to as Marah, which means bitter.
Change can be an exciting venture, but it can also cause stress and uncertainty while you’re working through the fog. There are times when my brain is overwhelmed, and time appears to be flying by without much progress being made. And in another moment, I’m being blown away by the amazing ways God is moving. When the impossible is looming ahead and we invite God into the conversation/situation, we experience His power and His solution to our problems.
Last spring I took a spiritual formation class during my last semester of undergrad. Honestly, I expected it to be a breeze. I was used to academics. I knew how to study well, maximize my time, and give professors what they wanted. When I saw that we were assigned a different spiritual discipline to practice and journal about every week, I was prepared to go through the motions and check off any box necessary for me to succeed (I had severe senioritis!) But what I didn’t expect was a loving but convicting lesson from the Spirit about my tendency to do all the things (prayer, worship, Bible reading) to feel as though I was succeeding in my relationship with God rather than to simply bask in his presence.
If I am completely honest, prayer is something that has felt daunting to me. I have often become discouraged because my prayer life is not what I want it to be. I get distracted. I don’t always know what to pray for. Sometimes it feels like a chore. Often I feel guilty because I know prayer is a beautiful gift we have, and it is a calling. I want to have intimacy with my God, but my own imperfection discourages me. I often let my discouragement paralyze me, which inhibits me from growing in prayer.
When it comes to human sexuality, the Church knows what we are against, but does it know what we are for? That's the question this book seeks to answer. Throughout our 2000-year history, the Church has failed to thoroughly articulate a Christian vision for the body. Scripture teaches us that creation is good, that we are made in the image of God, and that we represent Him in the world, yet we often ignore the ways our bodies communicate His grace in our everyday lives.
I have been known (at least in my own heart) to have a chip on my shoulder criticizing how churches operate: Why do all the pastors sit together instead of spreading out in the sanctuary? Why aren’t the pastors mingling with strangers? Why don’t those worship leaders go hangout with a loner in the back? And so on. But at one-point years ago in my grumbling to God about church operations, He so kindly reminded me that though I am not paid to do so, I am a part of the body…so if my heart is so strong in reaching out to people, why am I not the one doing exactly what I think they should do?
Deconstructionism calls for the pulling apart of faith for examination. At first glance, this sounds beneficial. We should know what we believe and why we believe it (1 Peter 3:15). However, the deconstructionist is rooted in doubt, not in faith. We are encouraged to doubt everything that we have ever known. Doubt, not faith, is encouraged and praised.
Some of you may not know this, but just this past year I started a new job at the missions organization, World Mission. It’s amazing to me how quickly your focus can change depending on the environment you’re saturated in. After carefully watching award show nominees for five and half years while working at a film school, this past year I couldn’t tell you which films were nominated for the Oscars. I could however tell you about the crazy military coup that was taking place in Myanmar or the humanitarian crisis in Bangui, Central African Republic when rebel groups were choking off their supply chain.
I didn’t think I wanted to get married so young. I wasn’t looking for a husband. I was looking for a career. Marriage and family? That could wait until after I’d put my degree to use. Maybe 28. Maybe 30. That’s when it would be time to settle down..... Those were my thoughts as a nineteen year old girl. I knew that I wanted to get married… someday. But that someday seemed a lot farther off than the two years when I’d be standing in front of the altar exchanging wedding vows at only 21 years old. So what changed? My perspective on what marriage is and what marriage isn’t. As a 21 year old bride, I realized that marriage isn’t just a season of life. It’s doing all of life... together.