Thursday, September 30, 2010

Reflections on the Letters of Francis A. Schaeffer

It was easy for me to connect deeply with the content of Schaeffer’s letters. There were a number of elements that stood out to me in it, the first of which was the response he took towards the struggle in his involvement with the spiritual coldness of the separatist movement. He says, “I really feel lighter than I have for years. I do not know what this all means in my relationship with the movement, but I have come to this conclusion – that, God willing, I do not want to lose this joy that I have before the Lord” (p. 33). This “True Spirituality” that he later poured into his book of the same title seemed to characterize him from then on. This joy Schaeffer describes in his walk with God is one that is only borne through learning to live well in the face of adversity. We often want to simply fight against the hardships in life and decry the pain they bring - however we must not give in to such temptations. The fruit of joining in the sufferings of Christ, even while in ministry, always yields such glorious joy that it cannot be discounted. This is a point I feel I can always learn more from.

Secondly, the way the Schaeffer depended on God for their finances was incredible! To not actively seek to raise support for what they did, but to wait patiently on God instead was something that sticks firmly in my mind. As Linds and I are currently engaged in the support raising process for our work with Mission to the World the query quoted from Amy Carmichael was particularly inspiring: “Why not ask God to make those who love Him want to help the little children whom He loves, instead of asking help from those who perhaps don’t love him” (p.79). It is hard to imagine living this way practically. Having to wait, trusting in God’s provision when I have not specifically asked for it from any particular individual or organization is something that I struggle to imagine. Even though we have only begun our support raising efforts, the burden of this seems so heavy. Waiting on God’s providence even in the anxious moments is something Linds and I are beginning to learn much more of.

Finally, it was amazing to see the theme of dependence on prayer woven so thoroughly throughout the decades of his letter writing. This was not so much a point of intentional discussion in his letters, but was instead a peripheral atmosphere that all of his words seemed to swim within. Often the letters opened by recording that Schaeffer had already been praying for the recipients and finish with a request that his readers be praying for him as well. The heavy consciousness of their dependency on Christ’s work in response to their prayers seemed to be the driving force behind all of their interactions. It was a blessing and encouragement to see this played out over the Schaeffers' many years of personal correspondences.

In these areas in particular and many others as well, The Letters of Francis Schaeffer did much to provide an inspiring example of what it means to be a person of meekness, boldly committed to the God’s Word, passionate for God’s Truth, and, regardless of who they are, sincerely delighting in the people God has made. The example of Francis Schaeffer's passions is well displayed in his statement that his "joy is in seeing many who have such little hope come to the place of not only of being saved for eternity, but of being more human in the present life” (p. 103, italics mine).


Monday, September 27, 2010

A Devotion (I know it's long, but I hope it's encouraging)

The other day I was in charge of giving the devotion for the student council meeting at Seminary. This is my second year serving on the council in an elected position. My official position is the women's rep. and I really enjoy the meetings and the collaborative work that goes on between the council and the staff. Ok, that is not the point of this post, but now you know a little more about me! What I really want to share with you is the devotion that I gave. I have found myself thinking a lot about 2 Corinthians 5:16-21,

16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

I spoke a little about what it means to be a "new creation" according to the passage. Once a person excepts Christ as their Savior their lives change in the eternal sense. They are no longer called by the name Sinner, but are rather given a new name, Redeemed! The old order of life has passed because, through their union with Christ, they now have the ability to not sin and to live to glorify Christ in all that they do. But if I am honest with myself I don't feel like a new creation very often. I still feel plagued by the brokenness of this world. I still sin against those I love all of the time. I feel pain and experience sickness. BUT, the passage says that we are new creations and it is telling the truth. However, though our newness has been initiated, we still wait to be made completely new. We live in a tension right now between the 'Already' (redemption has come because of Christ's death on the cross) and the 'Not Yet' (though we can see affects of his redemption we won't see the completion of it until he returns). So we wait and we live in this tension. But even in this we live with hope!

The second part of the passage reminds us of our calling as Christians. To bring this message of reconciliation to the world. As I was reflecting on this passage I began to question that, while often we work really hard to bring the message of reconciliation to others, do we ever bring it to ourselves? My pastor recently gave an illustration about a women who faced domestic abuse. She was finally moved to a safe place, but one day the knock on the door came. The abuser had returned, and she was tempted to yet again to open the door and let him in. This was used to illustrate how we often respond when sin knocks on our heart. As I was listening I realized that this not only means the sins that we do, but the sins that have been done to us; the sins that have hurt us and caused us to feel shame, the sins that have caused us to tell ourselves over and over again that we are not worthy of love, that we are stupid, that we are ugly, or that we are responsible. We need the message of reconciliation when we are tempted to believe those lies. We need to shut the door to the continuing patterns that we find ourselves in. The message of reconciliation is one that we need to remind ourselves of everyday as well as we interact with a world that is need of the reconciling Savior.


Friday, September 24, 2010

My Grandpa

I found this picture the other day of my grandpa and me! I just love it so much and it reminded me of all the great times that we had when I was little. He would always stay up late and watch Nick at Nite, and I loved to watch it with him. He had about a bijillion green acres episodes recorded on VHS, haha! During his late night TV watching he would of course always make a snack and sometimes it included BBQ potato chips dipped in BBQ sauce. I always thought that was hilarious! He was famous for putting his coffee in the microwave and then forgetting about it. It was not surprising to open up the microwave hours later to see his cold coffee still in there. He used to play school with me and we would always argue about who would be the teacher (he never wanted to be the teacher :)) I really loved him a lot and I am thankful for this picture to remind me of all the sweet memories.

Friday, September 17, 2010

A Change in the Journey

Our pastor gave an illustration this past Sunday that resonated so much with my heart. He began by asking if any of us have ever driven through Kansas in route to Colorado with the longing to see the majesty of huge mountains in the distance. I was reminded of the tiring and long hours in the car, only being kept awake by the rumble strips, as we continued our trek from St. Louis back to Colorado when we were first married. Our pastor had the congregation laughing as he described the painful hopelessness that you begin to feel while in Kansas surrounded by corn and cows. You begin to believe that you will NEVER see the mountains.

BUT then the journey changes. All of a sudden you get a glimpse of the majesty. You see the jutting of rocks into the blue sky and the journey once again becomes hopeful. His words during the sermon were

"Mountains in the distance change the journey!"

How amazing and true! How often we lose hope in the midst of our own sinfulness, the sinfulness in the world, and the sin that is committed against us. But the grace of God gives us hope and as the passage in the sermon reminded us we have the ability (through the grace of God) to say no to sin and yes to life!

Titus 2:11-14
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. 12It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

Worship this past Sunday was a glimpse of the mountains. It was so refreshing for me to hear the Word of God preached and to worship with other believers. We also enjoyed dinner and great conversation with friends this week. I would say that the Lord blessed me this past week with a view of the mountains to remind me of his amazing grace!


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Reflections on Henri J.M. Nouwen's In the Name of Jesus

It didn’t take long for me to get sucked into this book. That’s not to say it was a pleasant read, rather it was an interesting combination of unpleasantly, yet compellingly, true. My heart resonated pretty closely with Nouwen’s portrayal of his life orientation. He had accomplished many things, worked extremely hard, and even found himself working in Boston on the beautiful campus of Harvard as a priest in their divinity school! In this he does not present some image of himself being prideful or arrogant in his position, he simply hadn’t been too stretched in his experiences. That said, his work at L’Arch, a home for mentally handicapped adults, opened him up to so much more, and his words in this book have opened me as well.

I struggled to understand what he meant about not seeking relevance. I work in youth ministry, and with students, if you are not relevant then you are nothing - at least so I thought. Then Nouwen broke my heart. He says that his experience at L’Arch forced him to “let go of my relevant self - the self that can do things, show things, prove things, build things - and forced me to reclaim that unadorned self in which I am completely vulnerable, open to receive and give love regardless of any accomplishments” (p. 28). Wow, I still find myself reeling and even wincing a little as I type that. There is a part of me that doesn't like it. There is beloved sin at risk in admitting it, but I don’t think this way. I can think of a thousand “but"s to insert, and even more correctives about what it actually takes to cross over into youth culture, but those are all simply stylistic points and miss the foundational idea entirely. As Nouwen says in the conclusion of his first chapter, “The leaders of the future will be those who dare to claim their irrelevance in the contemporary world as a divine vocation that allows them to enter into a deep solidarity with the anguish underlying all the glitter of success, and to bring the light of Jesus there” (p. 35). Wow.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


I recently was given some advice from my supervisor on how to take care for myself this year. The advice that was given to me was that in the midst of seeing a lot of pain and brokenness I need to take time to see beauty. I need to expose my eyes, ears, nose, and heart to beauty to be refreshed! This is one my passions and in many ways the reason for this blog. As I have said many times on this blog, but feel like I can never say enough, there is beauty in the midst of brokenness everywhere because of what Christ accomplished on the cross. In referring to human beings Francis Schaeffer used the term "glorious ruins." All of creation lives in the tension of being beautiful and broken. The broken part is going to be clearly in front of me as I work as a counselor. Therefore beauty is what I long to see and even hope to cultivate as I work to spread Christ's redemption to all of life.

Drew surprised me with these sunflowers the other day. Aren't they beautiful? I love the circular design in the middle of them and the bright burst of color that they add to the table. We usually study at our dining room table so this is the perfect spot for a little bit of beauty. Here is a picture of an early morning reading time. The sunflowers had not entered the picture yet, but you get the gist.
(good coffee is definitely a beautiful thing)

I am excited to keep exploring ways to be intentional at seeking out beauty. I think this weekend we are going to an art fair in the streets of Clayton! I hope you enjoy your weekend and take time to see beauty!


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Psalm 139

This last Sunday Tony, the Sr. High Youth Pastor at our church, preached the sermon. His passage was Hebrews 4:12-13,

(12) For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (13) And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

In a class I am taking this year entitled Pastoral Theology, the culminating assignment is to identify what you believe to be the sin in your life which has the most potential to undo your ministry, and write a 10 page paper discussing what Scripture says about it, how you experience it, and how you are going to resist it. We are also to seek out trusted friends to help give us insight into this, so that we aren't limited to only our own perspective. Hebrews 4:13 suddenly felt all the more real as Tony preached from it.

Tony used as scene from the movie Saving Private Ryan as an illustration. In the scene there is a Nazi soldier and an American soldier fighting in a room at the top of a stairwell with only bayonets as their weapons - the American is losing. At the bottom of the flight of stairs there is another American soldier who still has a gun. He can hear the fight above him, but he stands with his weapon in his arms, too afraid for his own safety to risk entering into the fray and use his gun.

Tony pointed out that Hebrews tells us that Scripture is our weapon, sin is our enemy, and we are often too scared of being cut open and exposed to enter in and use it well. However, he stated, the parallel ends there - the difference being that, while most weapons bring death through their wounds, Scripture, like a scalpel in the hands of a skilled surgeon, cuts through and brings life. With each slice, though you are left exposed to the very core before our Creator and Judge, Scripture serves to cut out the sin, and put you back together again.

To be honest, this is a pretty intimidating project. I have had graduates warn me about it since I first began here. However, as the author of Hebrews (and Tony) reminds us, we use God's Word to cut to the heart of our sin, expose it to our Redeemer, and then be brought back to further health once again. Pray that I would not shy away from using Scripture to evaluate my life and heart. Pray that I would not only be further exposed to the sin in my life, but to the grace of my Saviour as well. Please pray for me as I engage this and many other difficult assignments this semester.

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Test me, and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.
(Psalm 139:23-24)

- Drew

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Chicago-The Windy City!

An evening view of Michigan Avenue.
The city from Navy Pier
The elevator in our lovely hotel!
More city
I hope you have enjoyed a little taste of Chicago this week. It really is an amazing city, and Drew and I hope to visit again.

Enjoy the Labor Day weekend!