Sunday, June 27, 2010

Modern Day Wonka

"Hello, I'm Brian Pelletier, the chocolatier!" And that's how our tour through the wonderful creations of the Ka-Ka-O Chocolate shop (http://www.kakaochocolate.com) began. Besides a few of the necessities that aren't grown in the United States, Brian does his best to use organic, locally grown ingredients in his chocolates, and we were excited to see the ways that he even works to rotate his products according to what crops are in season. This kind of intentionality with food is something that Linds and I have been really excited to start supporting with our own purchases, and Ka Ka O is a great example of a company that does it well. We went with the small-group that we've been a part of for the last year as a send off to one couple that is moving away to another state. It was awesome. Here is just a small sampling of the confectionary genius we were able to experience:



First was the Chai Truffle. It was a milk chocolate truffle with a little bit of cinnamon sprinkled on top of it. It had flavors of ginger, anise, and cardamum, and was fantastic. The cinnamon on top really pulled the flavors together!



Next on the menu was the mint truffle with a candied lemon peel placed on top. The mint flavor comes from real mint leaves that were grown locally, and the candied peel was a creation of Brian's wife. The combination of the two were fantastic!


To follow that up we were served a super dark chocolate truffle with "smoked sea salt" on top. The salt itself was actually black on the chocolate and the whole thing had a flavor that tasted "like the smell of bonfire smoke on your clothes the next morning." Yes, that is a little weird to say, but it was surprisingly accurate and even more surprisingly delicious!


There were many more amazing items that we got to dip into and each was more delicious than that which came before it. We had a wonderful time getting to talk with Brian about what he does and the passion that he has behind it all. We found a superior product and are glad to have been able to experience the joys of food done well!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Taking Off Your Mask

I am currently working on some literature for our ministry with GYFM. We leave on Friday for our first support raising trip and there is still a lot of work to do in order to prepare. I was searching for different images to add to the brochure and I came across this picture.



Wow, I think this picture describes well the life of a Third Culture Kid!

-Lindsey

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Deeply Rooted


Psalm 119:11-16
"I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Blessed are you, O Lord; teach me your statutes! With my lips I declare all the rules of your mouth. In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches. I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word."

I have been on a journey in the last year of having a deeper love and understanding of the law of God. I read this morning Psalm 119 in it's entirety and I was struck by its beauty. Reading the law has in the past felt like oppression, but reading it this morning I understood how the law is truly a delight. The heart of the Psalmist is reflected so clearly through the beauty of the poetry. The Psalmist loves the Lord and desires to live in such a way that reflects this love. There is a clear picture throughout the Psalm of what it means to live righteously before a holy God which is contrasted with those who do not seek to live righteously. I found myself confessing a lot and praying that the attitude of my heart would reflect the words of Psalm 119. After reading it I glanced at a devotional by Calvin called Heart Aflame.

"Among scholars, those whose knowledge is confined to books, if they have not the book always before them, readily discover their ignorance; in like manner, if we do not imbibe the doctrine of God, and are well acquainted with it, Satan will easily surprise and entangle us in his meshes. Our true safeguard, then, lies not in a slender knowledge of his law, or in a careless perusal of it, but in hiding it deeply in our hearts. Here we are reminded, that however men may be convinced of their own wisdom, they are destitute of all right judgement, except as far as they have God as their teacher."

I really appreciated the analogy of the scholar. Knowing the Lord is deeper then head knowledge, but must run deep in our hearts. My prayer is that the affections of my heart would be for the Lord and his word, and that my study of his word would not simply stay in my mind but would be rooted deep into my heart and lived out through my hands.

-Lindsey


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A Few Resolutions

Linds and I have both been down and out lately because we've been pretty sick (hence our lack of posts and updates. sorry!). Unfortunately Linds is still feeling pretty low, but I started to feel better again a few days ago. In order to help jump-start my system and get back into the swing of things I went out for a good run on Sunday. The jump-start worked, and while I was out I was struck by a number of things about my life and physicality.

I have always taken a back seat with my body, and have never really pushed myself to live intentionally healthily. It's a hard thing to do, but it's the hard things in life that remind me of the way God has been faithful to me in the past as well as to all the people who have gone before me. It's this looking back that gives me the strength to continue pushing forward. I've often used my high metabolism as an excuse to not try hard: I'm not overweight, so eating well and working out are things I don't need to do. Or so I thought. But why? I'm learning that stewarding my body should not be merely in reaction against unhealthiness, it should be the foundational standard. I haven't given too much thought to working to glorify God with my body, and if I am going to claim a holistic understanding of the Gospel then I need to apply it to my whole self. Lindsey does a wonderful job at modeling this well and I am excited to stop following idly along and actively join her in it.
By the end of my run all of these thoughts cultivated into a few resolutions:
- no more constant munching at Trader Joe's
- adapting to eating better portions at meals
- turning extra hunger I may feel in the process towards prayer
-researching healthy standards and expectations for my size and weight
- working out minimally twice a week, and to the best of my ability, more
- gain 10 pounds of muscle
- become not only an encouragement to Linds in her pursuits of a mature physicality, but a participant as well.

The time is overdue for me to invest my life in these ways. I am excited to reform my less-than-healthy perspectives and dive into a fuller understanding of what it means to live well in all of God's creation.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A Taste of David Arms

God's Story


Hydrangeas


Innocence


The Feeling of Forgiveness


The Last Supper


The Provider

Some of my favorites from David Arms. You should check out his website!
http://www.davidarms.com/

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

All Things New













I won't ever claim to be the most talented poet to walk the earth, but it is fun to occasionally experiment with different forms of expression. That said, in thinking a lot about a favorite passage of mine, Rev. 21:1-5, I wrote out the following verses and chorus. I originally put it together as an assignment for a class last semester, but the more time I've spent thinking about it the more I've enjoyed playing with an expression of my response to the text. I wrote the words to fit in with the tune of Indelible Grace’s O Come and Mourn, by Sandra McCracken, but I don't think the tune is really necessary to understand the song itself.

Being at Covenant has really made paying attention to the story of Scripture come to the forefront of my understanding of Christ's work and the gospel as a whole. It's amazing how much our understanding of God's end goal in his creation overflows into how we are to live out lives right now!

The groom’s face brightens with delight,

His wayward bride he has pursued.

God’s dwelling place is now with man,

“Behold, I’m making all things new.”

...

O Sin, your reign comes crashing down!

In this bold grace Death’s death is true:

The former things have passed away,

“Behold, I’m making all things new.”

...

Death’s dark effects have seized our hearts

Its goal, life’s beauty to undo

But listen to the Savior’s cry,

“Behold, I’m making all things new.

...

When loss brings us to emptiness

And sharply cuts our spirits through

In Him our mourning is no more

“Behold, I’m making all things new.”

...

O Sin, your reign comes crashing down!

In this bold grace Death’s death is true:

The former things have passed away,

“Behold, I’m making all things new.”

...

The tears that fill our flowing eyes

Will disappear like morning dew

His hand will wipe them each away,

“Behold, I’m making all things new.”

...

The ache of sickness felt throughout,

Pain’s ill effects that oft ensue

Can’t weaken His redeeming love,

“Behold, I’m making all things new.”

O Sin, your reign comes crashing down!

In this bold grace Death’s death is true:

The former things have passed away,

“Behold, I’m making all things new.”


In writing this song, I attempted to follow the general flow of the passage, starting with the image of a wedding, and then progressing through the subjects of death, mourning, crying, and pain. I then tried to synthesize it all in the chorus by emphasizing the theme of the text, “the former things have passed away...Behold, I’m making all things new.”

-Drew

Monday, June 14, 2010

Physicality


A long time ago I found myself thinking thoughts like, "wow I am a person." I never really shared with anyone these thoughts until I was married to Drew because it just sounded so weird to say out loud. Of course I am a person! Why is that such a big deal? The real question behind this thought was "what does it mean to be a person and have a physical body?" What I came to realize after starting Seminary is that so much of how I understood Christianity was focused simply on identity and knowledge, and that God didn't really care so much about the physical. This is not a Christian way of thinking, but more of a Platonic way of thinking. It is amazing how much Plato's thought has affected our Christian worldview. I don't think that this dichotomy was something that was taught to me specifically, I think it was simply implied by a lack of discussion about our physicality. A saying that I often hear in my counseling classes is that, "though we are good at taking the pieces apart to study them in depth, we often forget to put the whole person back together again."

I am about to start my counseling internship within the next month and half, and I will be sitting with a lot of different clients who have faced and are continuing to experience brokenness in their lives. The brokenness is not just isolated to the emotional or psychological, but it also affects the physical. We are whole people and often how we take care of our physical bodies tells a lot about where we are emotionally. Our bodies and our whole physical being is absolutely something that the Lord cares about. He made our bodies and promises that when the story of Scripture is complete and he comes back to make all things new, our bodies will be made new again as well. I believe that we need to have a better theology of physicality and listen more to what our bodies need. God has given them to us to enjoy and glorify him: we can run, play tennis, ski, sing, dance, touch, have sex, climb a tree, heal, sleep, eat, and drink. These are all wonderful things that we could not do without our bodies.

Jesus himself has a physical body. When Adam and Eve fell in the garden they were suddenly aware of their sin and even it's affects on their physicality, they covered themselves with fig leaves and hid. The entrance of sin through Adam and Eve caused the whole person to be broken. We all experience shame because of our bodies, but the redemption of Christ provides healing for the whole person. The incarnation and resurrection is proof that the whole person is important to God and will be redeemed when his kingdom is brought in it's fullness. Until then we have the opportunity to continue pushing back the affects of sin on our physical body and look forward to the day when our bodies will be made new!


Saturday, June 12, 2010

the ZONE

We made it! Camp turned out to be incredible. We were hoping to have 150 people attend, and all in all we ended up having just over 200! In addition, we had two new youth pastors come to visit for the day so that they could get an idea of what it would be like for them to join in with us next year. What a blessing! I have to admit that it was a little scary to lead a whole camp together, but it is exciting to follow where God seems to be leading us and have things play out so smoothly. Praise the Lord!

Highlights:
(1) pummeling a middle schooler dressed in a Dumbledoor-esque robe in a pillow fight in the parking lot at 1:00am with his own pillow,
(2) sending one of my favorite prof.'s daughter soaring 10ft into the air off of the Blob on the lake,
(3) tossing a puppet under a high powered lawnmower,
(4) riding the "Camp Director" golf cart obscenely short distances instead of walking,
(5) leading Minute to Win it competitions that almost invariably failed to work,
(6) the ability to enable the youth pastors to spend more time being with their students rather then worrying about the next event,
(7) watching God answer prayers all week, from the weather to group unity to students coming to know Christ, and
(8) doing it all while working side by side with Linds. It was a great week.

The biggest challenge of the week was not having our own youth group. It was really hard. It made me really miss all my kids from our past churches. If any of you happen to breeze through this blog, I miss you a lot and continue to pray for you.

- Drew

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A Bigger Perspective


Drew and I are currently directing the ZONE camp, so that is why we have been a little absent in posting. We have been running around trying to keep everyone on schedule, answering questions, hanging out with students, and encouraging the leaders. Drew is also speaking every night on what it means to live in the story, mainly focusing on Hebrews 12:1-4a. It is all going really well so far. The kids are having a blast and it is such a blessing to watch youth leaders investing in their students. We are so thankful to have the privilege to serve a long side other people who love youth ministry!

This morning I gave the devotional during our leaders meeting. Something that Drew and I have talked a lot about during our years in youth ministry is the importance of having a bigger perspective on what God is doing. I think this is especially important in youth ministry because the fruits of your labor are not always evident. As a leader you crave the affirmation that what you are saying and doing is actually getting through, but sadly that affirmation is not always there. I wanted to encourage the leaders this morning that the work they are doing is awesome, but remembering the bigger story of what God is doing in this world is an important part of their ministry. We looked at Ephesians 3:14-21 which is Paul's prayer for the Ephesians. Paul's prayer reflects that he gets the bigger picture of who is really in control. Paul has all the positive credentials and was even commissioned by Jesus himself to take the gospel to the ends of the earth, but Paul understands that it is ultimately God who will change people's hearts and lives.

Ephesians 3:19-21

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen."

The Spirit is at work this week and though we may not see the results today or even tomorrow the Lord is in control! I am so excited to be a part of the larger story of what God is doing in these students lives and it is a privilege to walk along side young people as they navigate their years of adolescents.

What is summer camp without the BLOB???


Friday, June 4, 2010

The Beauty of Redemption

I have been watching the show 9 by design on Bravo for the last two days and have felt a little inspired by some of the awesome and creative design they do in homes. One thing I really love to do is find old furniture and turn it into something beautiful. I especially love old doors and windows. I find so much enjoyment in bringing beauty to something old and broken. Creating a beautiful and welcoming space in our home is something I believe is part of bearing God's image and continuing to spread the story of redemption. The story of redemption is about bringing beauty to brokenness. God created things to be good and the fall caused everything to be broken. Christ's death has brought redemption to the broken things, and not just to human beings but to all of creation. Bringing beauty into my home and to all of life is part of furthering the story! N.T. Wright in Surprised by Hope says this,

"It is, I believe, part of being made in God's image that we are ourselves creators or at least procreators. The extraordinary ability to bring forth new life, supremely of course through begetting children but in millions of other ways as well, is central to the mandate the human race receives in Genesis 1 and 2. To make sense of and celebrate a beautiful world through the production of artifacts that are themselves beautiful is part of the call to be stewards of creation, as was Adam;s naming of the animals. Genuine art is thus itself a response to the beauty of creation, which itself is a pointer to the beauty of God."

Here are a few of my favorite pieces of beauty in our house!






















Do you have any pieces of beauty in your home that are particularly your favorite?

What are some ways that you see beauty in the midst of brokenness?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Doodling


Linds and I are working as the directors for a Jr. High camp this summer called THE ZONE. The camp will host six churches from three different denominations in the St. Louis area, totaling approximately 170 attendees. It's really exciting to be able to serve the community in this way and to be able to foster unity in the local Church body!

One of the perks of being the director of the camp is that I also get to teach five times over the week. Today I was able to spend a few good hours sitting at a table in a Starbucks in downtown Clayton working on my talks. Sometimes it can take me a little while to get my head in the game and think in such a way that makes all the tools I've learned in four semesters of preaching classes a help rather than an obstacle, and today was no exception. After a while I finally had to stop systematizing biblical information and start refocusing on the various elements that go into the Jr. High life. The above image is result of my refocusing, and I was surprised to see how helpful it was to redirect my efforts towards a little doodling. It's hard to shift perspectives to see things from an adolescent point of view, but it can often be one of the most important things to do in preparation for a ministry event. It is vital to remember that Scripture does more than simply declare statements of fact: it brings truth to life. In each instance of God's revelation to his people he communicates in ways that they would understand: cultic sacrifices and civil laws in Canaan, poetic movements in the prophets, human flesh in the gospels, and all this while using the common languages of his people's culture! The importance of such contextualization cannot be underestimated, especially in the training of the next generation of God's people! One of the biggest lessons I've learned in Youth Ministry is the importance of being able to step into their world and see life from their point of view. What matters to them? Why would they care about this? What would make them interested in this? Where do they hurt? What do they need to hear? What are they able to hear? How are they able to hear it?

Please pray for me as I put together the talks for the week, and for both of us as we put the finishing touches on THE ZONE!
 
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