Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Flowers and Skyscrapers

We had a great time on our trip to Chicago to celebrate our five year anniversary. We had a blast exploring the city and we walked so much on Saturday that I had blisters on the bottom of my feet.

We wanted to share with you throughout this week some of our favorite pictures. Drew finds so much delight in walking around with the camera and capturing the small and big things around us. I like this shot in particular because of the angle of the flowers with the huge skyscrapers in the background. There is definitely beauty in both settings.


Monday, August 30, 2010

Sailing Anyone?

Sailboats on Lake Michigan from our trip to Chicago. Looks inviting doesn't it?

Friday, August 27, 2010

Guide Me Oh Thou Great Jehovah

I just wanted to share this song with you. It has been ministering to my heart these past couple of days, and brings tears to my eyes because of the promises of God that are so beautifully put to song.

Here are the lyrics (From the RUF hymnal):

Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah,
Pilgrim through this barren land.
I am weak, but Thou art mighty;
Hold me with Thy powerful hand.
Bread of heaven,
Feed me now and evermore;
Bread of heaven,
Feed me now and evermore.

2. Open now the crystal fountain,
Whence the healing stream doth flow;
Let the fire and cloudy pillar
Lead me all my journey through.
Strong Deliverer,
Be Thou still my Strength and Shield.
Strong Deliverer,
Be Thou still my Strength and Shield.

3. When I tread the verge of Jordan,
Bid my anxious fears subside;
Death of deaths, and hell's destruction,
Land me safe on Canaan's side.
Songs of praises, I will ever give to Thee;
Songs of praises, I will ever give to Thee.

Land me safe on Canaan's side
Bid my anxious fears, bid my anxious fear
Land me safe on Canaan's side
Bid my anxious fears, bid my anxious fears, goodbye

I could not figure out how to link the song to our blog, but you can download it off itunes for $.99.
In the lyrics I hear a plea, a prayer, and anticipation. As the people of God we are constantly crying
out for guidance from the Lord. We are weak and he is mighty and he is the one that leads us through this journey.
The anticipation part is my favorite, because of what I have been facing lately. The promise that we will land safe
on Canaan's side and there will be no more death or destruction. We will be able to say goodbye
to all of our anxious fears because through Christ ALL THINGS will be made new! I hope this song
gives you encouragement today as you face the brokenness and pain of this world, but face it with hope
because God's promises are TRUE!


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Entering Into Worship

When you walk through the doors of a church, what are you proceeding in to do? As I reflect on my thoughts as I have grown and matured in my walk with God and engagement in his Church, I recall often thinking that true worship was the sense of personal fulfillment and reassurance in my relationship with God that one feels in singing glorious hymns and being moved and stirred by the sermon. I think it is for the most part the paradigm that I operated out of for the majority of my life. Another way to put it would be that I believed the purpose of going to worship was to receive something from the alter - to be "refilled to be able to face the rest of the week."

There have been innumerable occasions where all I wanted to do was make it through till Sunday, so that I could see my friends, could sing the songs that enliven my heart, and hear the Word preached that invigorates my spirit. This is not a bad thing by a long shot. However, over the last few months, I have begun to see that while it is a good thing, it is neither the whole thing nor the best thing. The issue lies in that this perspective on worship leaves the worshiper to come in merely a passive manor. This is good in that in everything, we acknowledge God to be the one who moves us and directs us, who fills us and completes us, and even who grows us and matures us. But, acting as a passive receptacle, while important in the act of worship, is only the secondary reason I walk through the doors on a Sunday morning.

The primary reason for man to worship is to BRING something to the alter. The only thing that separates us from the rest of creation is our ability to turn our experiences around into praise. As Westminster (via Piper's interpretation) likes to put it, our chief end is to glorify God by enjoying him forever. That said, we go to church in order to bring our praise to him! We sing our songs so that we might express the passions of our heart, directing the heart liberating words to the Lord who made us and set us in his story! We sit and listen to his Word preached so that first of all we might present to him our hearts humbled and bowed in deference to his will. It is then, and only then, that we are able to act as receptacles. Entering into true worship is the act of bringing to God our hearts and lives humbled to his will, praising his glorious character, and then standing ready to further engage his creation!


Thus It Begins.

Today stands as the last day of summer for all of us Covenant students. It's very interesting to be sitting on the cusp of our final year here. It's intimidating because we are cramming so much into the next nine months that it almost feels insurmountable; it is exciting because of all the opportunities that it holds; it is sad because of all that we will leave behind as we finish; it is joyful because it marks the beginning of the end of a personal challenge and because it marks the dawn of a new stage of our life.

We are both extremely excited about the classes that we will be taking, the privilege of stepping gently into our client's lives, and even the structured schedule that we can live around (the above calendar represents only the weekly recurring events). But it's also going to be a whole lot of very hard work. To be completely honest, we are pretty nervous about the upcoming challenge. Not nervous like an ant looking up at a teenager through a microscope, but nervous like a freshly vacationed runner returning home to his waiting training grounds: it's going to hurt. Please pray for us as we step back into the life of school again. Pray for endurance to stay on task even when it's painful. Pray that our attention spans would be flexible enough to make it through all our books. Pray that our memories would be sharp. Pray that our minds would be creative to engage our papers well. Pray that our physical health would not let us down. Pray that our fingers would be nimble as we page through all the research. And most of all, pray that our hearts would not be so distracted by the labor to forget the tasks we are training for.

We love you guys, and we need your prayers and support so much as we enter once again into the melee of scholastic battle! Over the next few months we'll be updating this blog with not only our thoughts and reflections on the adventures we experience, but on our current needs and prayer requests as well. It has been impressed upon us that as missionaries we have to establish a broad base of support. We are continuing to learn that this not only means keeping you all updated on our thoughts and experiences, but on our needs and weaknesses as well. The fact is, we need you. Will you please help to build us a foundation of prayer?

In His Grasp,

- Drew

Friday, August 13, 2010

Five Years

Five years ago today, Linds and I were married! A LOT has happened over those last five years, and it has been the greatest of adventures to be able to walk through it all together. We have climbed mountains and snowboarded down them, we have started in new ministries and have moved away to others, we have invested locally and worked globally, we have launched into four masters degree and discovered the value of experience, we have toured big European cities and strolled dirt paths in Latin America, we have escaped to the rural and we have exploded into the urban. Throughout it all we have had some incredible experiences, some glorious fights, and more than our share of a joyful friendship. It's been five years and I love my bride more than ever. Right now we're exploring Chicago, and the next couple of days we have here promise even more adventure. These five years have been the best of my life, and I can't begin to express how excited I am about all those we have ahead of us!

- Drew

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Be Strong and Courageous

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9.

The book of Joshua is one of Drew's favorite books of the Bible. My husband is a very passionate man and his passion is revealed when he talks about the book of Joshua. If you have ever been in any of his youth groups you will know what I mean. This passage has become one of my favorites and it came to my mind yesterday morning while I was walking in the neighborhood. I usually have a hard time praying or thinking about anything else when I am exercising, but yesterday it was different. I found this verse going through my head as I was thinking about this upcoming year in school. It is going to be crazy crazy CRAZY busy, overwhelming, and stressful. As Drew and I will both be finishing up our degrees, doing our internship for counseling (15-20 hours a week), working part-time jobs, and raising support. Not to mention grocery shopping, homework, laundry, homework, marriage, homework, friendships, oh and homework!

Whenever Drew teaches on this passage he always points out that God is commanding the Israelites to be strong and courageous. He is not patting them on the back and giving them a warm word of encouragement, but he is commanding them! God had shown himself faithful to his people through the exodus and through the desert, and he is now telling them to continue to be strong because he will continue to be with them as they go into the promise land. What a beautiful part of God's story!

I am not about to fight armies in order to gain land, but I am about to embark on a year of new experiences, busyness, brokenness, and stress. The Lord has been so faithful to Drew and me in these past three years of seminary, and yesterday I heard his reminder as I walked that he is commanding me to be strong and courageous for HE will be with me wherever I go! He has called me to these tasks, and I need to enter his will with joy, knowing that his promises are good!

I wish it was easier to remember these things during those moments of freak out!

Friday, August 6, 2010

A Brief Reminder

A few days ago a batch of new mulch was laid down at the base of the trees around our apartment complex. That night, once the sun went down, life began to emerge. As I was heading out to work that day I noticed the mulch, but I also noticed the dozens and dozens of little mushrooms that had grown up in it over the few hours of night. When I came back home again that afternoon, the mulch bare and all the mushrooms had perished in the heat of the sun.

Those little mushrooms did not have much time, but they grew to their fullest beauty as quickly as they could before the heat of the day overcame them. For all I know, besides Lindsey, I could have been the only one to ever notice those mushrooms. They certainly weren't able to spore off any more mushrooms, and I can only assume that their very brief life was simply the unintended result of the damp and dark climate of mulch storage practices. However, In the few moments that they did have, they grew strong, they stood beautifully, and even if for no one's benefit but their creator's, they did their utmost to accomplish the purpose for which he designed them. God appreciated their beauty. God appreciated their efforts. God was glorified in their life.

For all of us who have toiled in what feels like meaningless work, who have been scorched by the heat of would-be providers, and who continue to press forward with his design for as long as God enables, be encouraged. God sees and God knows, and he is always glorified when his creation lives out the purpose he designed them for.


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Another Take on Aging

For a class that I will be taking this fall I have been reading Anthony A. Hoekema's The Bible and the Future. In his chapter on physical death he makes a brief yet poignant comment that "The older we get, the more it grieves us that we keep on falling short of doing the will of God. One feels something of the weight of this burden when he reads Paul's words in Romans 8:32, 'And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.'"

This struck me because, though I am accustomed to viewing the world around me as "groaning" under the longitudinal effects of man's mismanagement and the fall as a whole, I have never considered my own physicality in this way. Though a decline in physical prowess is a commonly lamented theme amongst older generations, I have only ever heard it referenced as a personal frustration. Hoekema's statement forces his readers to consider the negative effects of aging in light of the commission God has given his people (to be fruitful and multiply, to fill the earth and subdue it), such that we see our physical decline as lamentable not only because of the ways that it limits our own abilities, but also because of the ways it hinders us from carrying out the duty he has given us.

Perhaps another application of this thought could be the importance for caring well for our bodies and doing our best to push back the negative effects of aging. If we view our gradual physical decline as a stumbling block in our pursuit of living out God's design, then shouldn't we be much more intentional about the food we eat and the exercise we engage in? Once again this shows how much the things we are tempted to view as limitations (such as diets, eating plans, exercise, studies, etc.) can actually be launching pads towards the fullness of life that God originally designed us for.

Additionally, I believe this thought of the negative effects of aging causing us to fall short of God's design for us, and the "groaning" that we experience along with the rest of creation for the renewal of all things should push us towards instilling those who come behind us with the passion to press forward as well. As the Psalmist writes in Psalm 71:17-18, O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds. So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come."

Reading Hoekema's quote, I am excited to become aware of another area of my life that I can apply myself to the exciting task of chasing after the call of God's design, and am also even further affirmed of the importance of intentional next generational ministry!


Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Farmer's Market

Drew and I love to support our local farmers and really see the importance of buying local and fresh produce. I was listening to an interview recently with Barbara Kingsolver on NPR who recently wrote the book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. I have read some of this book and really appreciate her knowledge about the ethics of food and her commitment to eating local foods. She was so committed that she uprooted her family from Arizona to move to a farm in the Appalachians and live off the land for a year. One of her main points in the beginning of the book is how much fossil fuel we burn in shipping our foods. In this interview she mentioned that lots of people give up meat due to ethical reasons, but she has given up bananas. It really made me think about how much fuel is used to ship bananas to the U.S.. I really appreciated her point!

We wanted to give you a glimpse at the beauty of the produce, flowers, and people that were at the Farmer's Market. We had a great time and look forward to the day when we have more money and time to shop there every week.