He Chose the Foolish Things

I am a dreamer & a goal-setter.  Putting those practical plans into place, though…that’s another story. I am 100% ENFP. Look it up. You’ll see my picture next to the description.  Anyway, I’m trying to be more of a do-er than just a dreamer, so here I am.  Two of my goals/resolutions/hopes for the new year are to read more and to write more.  A year and a half later, finally writing another blog post…Check me out, getting a head start on my goal and everything. ; )

Yesterday and this morning, I read the first few chapters of 1 Corinthians.  A few key words stuck out to me: foolishlowlychosewise or wisdom

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things — and the things that are not — to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before Him. [1 Corinthians 1:27-28]

Verse 27 seems to be a bit of an oxymoron. (I just finished a unit on figurative language with my 8th graders. See, kids? We actually do use this stuff. 😉 ) God chose the foolish to shame the wise? God chose the weak things to shame the strong?

For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. [1 Corinthians 1:26]

Not many were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth…and yet He chose to use them. This is the beauty of the Gospel.  God consistently uses the poor and powerless, the awkward and average, the nervous and “nobodies,” to make His Name great.

And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. [2 Corinthians 12:9]

This past semester the 7th graders in my Bible class and I went through all the books between Acts and Galatians. We studied the history of the early church, Paul’s missionary journeys, and some of the letters he wrote to the believers.  Over and over again, Paul shares the Gospel with his audience, reminding them of its transforming truth on their lives and the urgent need and responsibility to then share that Truth with others.  One of the objectives I have for my students is to leave this class able to share the Gospel clearly and concisely with someone if the opportunity arises. [Shout out to CRU & Roger Hershey for all that training! #plusoneconversations]

We practiced in class, we discussed the how and the why of sharing our faith, we reminded ourselves of the meaning of the Gospel.  But with middle schoolers, you just never know if what you’re saying is actually sinking in…or if all they’re hearing is waaah waaah waaah waaah like the teacher in Peanuts. [Just bein’ real here.]

Last week, on the last week of the class before I get a new group of 7th graders, I was reminded of the transforming power of the Gospel and God’s consistent use of the weak (in the world’s eyes) for His purposes.

One of my seventh graders who is a little more hesitant and less confident than others in the class shared that over the weekend she felt “like the Holy Spirit was telling [her] that [she] really needed to tell [her] grandma about the Gospel.”  She admitted that she was afraid, but her grandmother had been wrestling with health issues and wasn’t expected to live long. “I wanted my grandma to know Jesus,” my student said. “I remembered what we’ve been talking about in class, so I talked with my grandma, and she became a Christian! She prayed a really sincere prayer and thanked God for bringing me to her,” my student shared. “It felt really cool.” (understatement 🙂 )

God used a twelve-year-old girl to share the Gospel with a woman years older than she is.  She didn’t come “with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to [her] the testimony of God” (1 Corinthians 2:1).  But she did come with the power of the message of the cross!

I was so proud and so humbled that afternoon, and I haven’t stopped thinking about it.  “The foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 Corinthians 1:25).  The Gospel is an oxymoron.  God’s ways and His plans often seem like oxymorons.  He can and does use each one of us, if we are willing and obedient to His Spirit’s leading.  He uses the weak. He uses the young. He uses the old. He uses who He uses for His perfect plan.

2000+ years ago, there was another teenage girl who was lowly, normal, average in the world’s eyes. Yet He chose this willing, humble, obedient girl to carry and bring the Savior Emmanuel (God with Us) into the world in human flesh.

And Mary said, ‘My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He has looked on the humble estate of His servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His Name….He has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate.’ [Luke 1:46-49, 52]

That is the Gospel. That is Christmas.



A Theology of Beauty

Lately (although this isn’t a new lesson), the Lord has been teaching me a lot about beauty. A few weeks ago I finished reading True Beauty by Carolyn Mahaney & Nicole Whitacre. Super good book! I’ll admit, I usually ignore books about “inner beauty” that are written for young women because they’re often cliche or disconnected from our daily experience (in my opinion).  This book, however, was a great starting point for discovering what our Father has to say about beauty.

A few mentions of “beauty” in Scripture:

When [Abram] was about to enter Egypt, he said to Sarai his wife, ‘I know that you are a woman beautiful in appearance, and when the Egyptians see you, they will say, “This is his wife.” Then they will kill me, but they will let you live…” [Genesis 12:11-12]

He had no form of majesty that we should look at Him, and no beauty that we should desire Him. [Isaiah 53:2b]

Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth. [Psalm 50:2]

Splendor and majesty are before Him; strength and beauty are in His sanctuary. [Psalm 96:6]

How beautiful upon the  mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns.'” [Isaiah 52:7]

[After the woman anointed Jesus with expensive oil before His betrayal & crucifixion] But Jesus, aware of [the disciples’ criticizing the  woman], said to them, ‘Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me.’ [Matthew 26:10]

From these verses from Scripture, I see, first, that beauty stirs up desire, attraction. It could be sexual desire, which is stirred up by outward/external/worldly beauty. We see that in Abram and Sarai’s experience with the Egyptians. They saw Sarai was beautiful and wanted to take her for themselves. However, it can also stir up a desire to know the Creator of beauty, the Lord.  This desire is stirred up by the imperishable beauty of a gentle and submissive heart to the LORD (1 Peter 3:3-4) that actively proclaims the GOOD NEWS (the Gospel!) of salvation (Isaiah 52:7).

Secondly, I see that the perfection of beauty is not found in a thin, toned body, attractive and trendy clothing, or the latest low-carb, high-protein, gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free, grain-free diet or workout regimen.  “The perfection of beauty” is found where the LORD Almighty dwells, Zion (Psalm 50:2). As someone who has struggled with striving to reach that “perfection of beauty” throughout my life…I love, love, love this truth.

Lastly, I see that beauty is found in sincere devotion, love, service to our holy God, the Creator and Culmination of Beauty itself. He should be our center. He should be that on which our eyes and minds are fixed, not the latest Pinterest workout, diet trend, or cosmetic brand. Those things fade, but He is “the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).

I finished this book on vacation for 4th of July. One night as we were watching fireworks by the coast of Lake Huron, the sun was setting and it was absolutely beautiful. Seriously, I’m usually not an overly sentimental person about sunsets haha, but that night, it was gorgeous.  A few minutes after we had set up our lawn chairs, the fireworks began. But all I wanted to do was stare at the sunset, because it was just that pretty.  The fireworks were pretty too, but they were artificial beauty, competing with the true, natural beauty of this sunset over Lake Huron, a beauty not manipulated by man, but designed by God. How true is that of our own lives? So often we “compete” with the natural beauty endowed by our Creator, when really, that is most beautiful.

Mahaney and Whitacre suggested that when reading Scripture, ask yourself, “Which of God’s desirable qualities are displayed in this passage?” Because “in those moments, we won’t be thinking about our hair or our weight….We will forget about our precious selves and focus on our precious God. We will be under a freer sky….When we behold the beauty of the LORD, our Savior becomes larger and we become smaller — and so do our struggles with beauty.”

Coffee & Wine

“Behold, I [Jesus] stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”   Revelation 3:20

When I think of dining, I think fancy. When I think fancy, I think wine. haha When I think wine, I think slow. The Father invites us to stop and simply enjoy time in His presence.

I love coffee probably more than most people. It’s kind of a problem. haha I love going on coffee dates with friends, but to me, coffee is still associated with busyness. We invite friends to “grab a cup of coffee” to either (1) take a quick break in the midst of the hectic pace of our lives or (2) help keep us alert and energetic enough to complete the long list of tasks we have each day. But God isn’t asking us to grab a cup o’ joe. He’s inviting us to dineEnjoy the sweet, slow, sacred “wine” of His Word, His love, His very heart. The focus is on being rather than doingpresence rather than performance. The Father wants to be with me simply because He loves me for me, not for anything I do but because of who I am — the daughter He designed exactly and perfectly as He purposed. That Truth gives me more of a boost to start my day than any cup of fresh-ground coffee ever will. (Though I did still have a cup or two already this morning, of course. 😉 )

Recently Read & Currently Reading – Summer ’13 Edition

I read some pretty great books this summer.  And if you know me well, you have probably been forced to listen to my overly-excited ravings about how great those books were or the cool quotes I found. I really love to read, and I reallllly love to talk about what I read. Below are the books I read over the past couple months, as well as the books I’m reading now.  I definitely recommend them.

Recently Read:

  • The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler — I started this one while I was on summer project in the Middle East.  It explains the Gospel through both a large-scale and small-scale perspective. Chandler also provides lots of Scripture to support his arguments and explanations, which is always a good sign in any theological book. 🙂 The Explicit Gospel is a great book to read for a better understanding and deeper love for the Good News we so often take for granted.
  • A Praying Life by Paul E. Miller — Two of my friends and I started reading this book for a Bible study last summer but never finished it, so I decided to pick it back up! It was a great read and gave a great perspective on prayer. I can really underestimate the power of prayer, and this book helped me to see what a wonderful gift it is to have open communication with my Savior and the Creator of the Universe!

“What do I lose when I have a praying life? Control. Independence. What do I gain? Friendship with God. A quiet heart. The living work of God in the hearts of those I love. The ability to roll back the tide of evil. Essentially, I lose my kingdom and get His.” (p. 125-126)

Geeze louise, why would I not want that?

  • The Giver by Lois Lowry — Breakin’ up the Christian non-fiction with a book for 12 year olds. You know. This was a super good book though. If you like dystopian/utopian society kind of stuff (think: Hunger Games1984, etc.), you’ll like this! Plus, I’m trying to read all of the Newbery Award-winning novels, and this was on the list. 🙂 Apparently this is the first book of a trilogy, so the next two are next on my reading list! 🙂
  • The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges — This. was. the. best. book. I absolutely loved, love, loved The Pursuit of Holiness.  It emphasized the importance of grace-fueled, gospel-centered effort in our walk with Christ. Yes, there is grace, and as someone with overachiever/perfectionist/performance-driven tendencies, grace is especially important to remember. 🙂 But I also really appreciated the emphasis on the necessity of obedience out of love. The preface began with an analogy between farming and the Christian’s pursuit of holiness:

    “A farmer plows his field, sows the seed, and fertilizes and cultivates — all the while knowing that in the final analysis he is utterly dependent on forces outside of himself. He knows he cannot cause the seed to germinate, nor can he produce the rain and sunshine for growing and harvesting the crop. For a successful harvest, he is dependent on these things from God.” (p. 10)

So is the same for us as Christians. I cannot and will not reach perfect holiness here on earth, but I do want to pursue becoming more like Christ and more into the woman He created me to be. And that will take some effort fueled by love for the Savior who’s given me above and beyond my every need.

  • Discipline by Elisabeth Elliot — I ordered this book right after I read The Pursuit of Holiness. I wanted to learn more about self-control, perseverance, and discipline. Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit after all, and Paul compares the Christian life to training for a race several times in his letters (including 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 — one of my fave verses as I’m training for the Detroit Free Press Half Marathon right now!). Plus, Elisabeth Elliot is the bomb-dot-com. (If you haven’t read her book Passion and Purity, you should.)

Currently Reading:

The best part about finishing a book is starting a new one.

  • Who Do You Think You Are? by Mark Driscoll
  • Voices Behind the Veil by Ergun Mehmet Caner
  • Shadow of the Almighty by Elisabeth Elliot

The First One!

When I was younger, all I wanted to be when I “grew up” was an author. Or a librarian. Or a singer, like Lizzie McGuire in The Lizzie McGuire Movie — Gordo look-alike included.  Now that I’m a bit older and graduating college next year, I’m on my way to becoming a teacher when I “grow up,” but that desire to write is still there.

I love writing.  I journal my prayers to God.  I write lists when I need to process the pros and cons of a decision. I communicate with long-distance friends through handwritten letters. Writing is one of my favorite means of self-expression. Words of affirmation? My love language. Random fact: I won a Creative Writing award/scholarship from Hope College, even though I still didn’t end up going to school there.  I really like words.

I also really like reading and listening to others’ words. The Bible holds the best words I have ever read, hands-down. I also love children’s literature and Christian non-fiction. Throw in a few fluffy Nicholas Sparks novels for good measure, and you’ve got my home library of about 200+ books.  Blogs are great too. I started reading blogs a few years ago and have identified my favorites, the ones I go to regularly for recipes, DIY ideas, work-outs, etc.

I’ve always wanted to write my own blog. So here I am. Finally. I’m trying to do that more often — just doing things that I say I want to do rather than simply planning and talking about those plans all the time.

So, with all that said, welcome.