Monday, May 31, 2010


God is love.

He doesn't just offer love or bestow love or pour love forth...He is love. When it comes to God, love isn't a verb. It's a noun.

And because of that, it's impossible to come into the presence of God and not experience His brand of furious, relentless, and powerful love.

Because He's it.

So when it feels like I don't have enough love to cover something, the reason might be that I've been edging God out (with my own desires or my own laziness or my own need to be right all the time).
It might even be that some reassessment, some prayer (maybe even some repentance) is needed on my might be that the situation needs a little more God and a little less me.

Because this God that is love is the source of all good and true things,

(which means that)

Loving well isn't mustering up enough strength to treat someone kindly in a hard situation - loving well involves coming into the presence of an Almighty God and being so filled up with His bold.relentless.astounding LOVE that you can't help but for it to spill over into every other part of life.

Love isn't an action - it's a reaction based on an encounter.

If we want to love the world
and love it well,
then we need
do little

stay near the source.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Rock from which you were cut.

Jesus was a tekton.

In English, we have chosen to translate the word tekton as "carpenter," but tekton can mean other things as well.

It can also mean "stonecutter."

Most likely, when the Bible calls Jesus a tekton, it is referring to Him as the latter, a stonecutter.

You see, back in Jesus' day, people didn't usually work with wood, and if you take a walk through the Biblical ruins of Israel, all you see is stone stone stone.

Why is this important?

In the grand scheme of things, I guess it doesn't matter either way. Jesus built things as a trade, and that's all we really need to know...


There is richness to be found in the picture of Jesus being a stonecutter, because there are countless references to stone and masonry and building processes that are scattered all throughout the Bible.

For instance, take this verse:

"Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness and seek the LORD:
Look to the rock from which you were cut, and to the quarry from which you were hewn.
Look to Abraham your father, and to Sarah, who gave you birth.
When I called him, he was but one, and I blessed him and made him many." - Isaiah 51.


Look to the rock from which you were cut.

It's a stonecutters job to cut and shape the rock from the quarries.

Which, yes, is a cool reference in light of Jesus being a tekton, but there's so much more than that going on here too. Dig a little deeper with me into the meaning of the verse:

Look to the rock from which you were cut...

Well, in order to look to it, we first need to know what rock Isaiah is referring to. Our answer to that question comes from the very next verse:

"Look to Abraham your father, and to Sarah, who gave you birth."

Abraham and Sarah are the mother and father of the Israelites. God blessed them "and made them many." He made them into the Israelites - the Jewish people.

The rock from which we were cut is the nation of Israel.

The rock from which we were cut is the chosen people of God.

Do you know what that means?

It means that

Abraham is our father.
Sarah is our mother.
Elijah is our prophet.
Moses is our guide.
Samuel is our priest.
Paul is our teacher.
Peter is our brother.
Ruth is our sister.

and on and on and on.

These stories that God has passed down to us, these people of faith, are a part of our legacy. They are the heritage that we bear.

And even better?

We are cut from the same rock.
We are made of the same material.
We have the same abilities.

We. Are. the. Same.


Because we serve the same God. The same God we read about in all those stories.

And do you know what that means?

It means that
we serve
the God

created the world.
called Abraham and made an everlasting covenant with him.
parted the Sea of Reeds.
sent the 10 plagues.
provided the promised land.
empowered Elijah to run faster than chariots.
sent down fire on the altar.
enabled a young boy to kill a giant.
won battles.
spoke through prophets.
healed the sick.
raised the dead.

That God
is our God.

And because
that God is our God,
we have the ability to live lives like the ones who went before us.

Because their God is our God.

We have that ability because Jesus, our tekton, cuts us from the same rock as the rest of them. He, with His infinite power, crafts all of us from the same stuff.

And if we would get to a place where we
truly believed and understood that...
do you know what we could do?

We could

go, with the faith of Abraham, to new and distant lands.
lead, with the strength of Moses, the people of God from their bondage.
run, with the swiftness of Elijah, past the evil of this world and its fears.
prepare, with the passion of John the Baptizer, a people ready for the Lord.
encourage, with the understanding of Paul, fellow believers.
rejoice, with the perseverance of Peter, in the sufferings of our circumstances.
praise, with the heart of Hannah, the amazing things that God has done.
love, with the purity of Jesus, our great God and the people of His world.

This story, God's story - it's our story.
This Bible, God's Word - it's our history and our guide.
This people, God's nation - it's our ancestry.

And whether we like it or not, we are called to be a part of the story.

God's story..

We pick it up, we partake in it, and we pass it on.

It's ours.


So own it.


Step one in owning it?

Knowing it.

Let's study. learn. know. the stories that God passed down to us.

look to the rock
from which
we were cut.

God has blessed us
we are capable
we are many.

Pick it up.
Partake in it.
so we can
Pass on it on.


more than anything...




Friday, May 21, 2010


"Tell Him what you like about Him..." - Francis Chan, Crazy Love.

Father, Rabbi, Almighty God:

1. I love your heart for history. I like it that you thought to put Jesus in a place like Israel, where it's dry and hot and dusty, so that memories and pictures and places from His life could be preserved. I like that you gave us archaeology, I really do. It makes me excited that we can know Jesus better because of it...(plus, it's fun to dig things up). I really like the things you're allowing us to learn because of the way you kept Israel protected from too much modernity. You knew what you were doing, hiding all that stuff in the sand. Thanks for letting us find some of it in my lifetime.

2. I love your sense of adventure. I like it that I serve a God who isn't so safe. I like that you ask us to risk. You plant and deposit so much RICHNESS into life, and then you ask us to go and find it. I like that your call is scary and mysterious sometimes. Your world is a place full of culture and spontaneity, and I like that you give us a spirit that desires that adventure.

3. I admire your creativity. How there is color everywhere. How you infuse poetry throughout the world. People, places, ideas, things, from big to small, everything is different and new and mysterious and beautiful. I like that you give us the desire and ability to be creative too.

4. I'm proud to follow You because you speak truth that doesn't let us off easy. You see potential in us and demand much from us, even our best. I love it that your truth is always laced with kindness, but never relents. It makes me better, the way you push me and the example that you set. You are brave in life and you are brave in truth, and it challenges me.

5. I love your ability to tell stories. Glory, honor, betrayal, sin, mystery, humanity, redemption, humor...your Word is full of them. You know us well and you speak to us in a way we understand and you use people we can relate to. Your stories are full of broken people and the way you work through them...and that inspires me.

6. I admire your intelligence. I am amazed Jesus, by your ability to speak so plainly yet challenge so fully, all at the same time. I appreciate and enjoy the levels of wit and humor you root in people. And I really like what you have allowed us to discover about your world. It's so intricate and full and complicated and big. The detail of it, the intelligence behind it, is astounding.

7. I love your JOY. The way you delight in us, despite it all. How you send us good things, every day. Your LIFE, all around...abundant.

Thank you for all of it.

Your history, your adventure, your creativity, your truth, your stories, your intelligence, your joy.

Your mere presence.

And help us, Father,
not only to SEE you,
but to rejoice in you as well.

The next day.

***P.S. Thanks, too, for the printing press... for the ability to make A LOT of BOOKS.
That, God, is one of my favorites.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


"Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins." - James 4:17.

Maybe, instead of worrying only about the sinful things we shouldn't be doing, we should try putting more emphasis on the good things we could be doing, but are not.

Maybe, instead of looking only at those things that Jesus avoided, we should give equal notice to the things He embraced.

Maybe, instead of just trying to rid ourselves of indifference and hate, we should also try our best to fill up with things like grace and love.


just maybe,

the point of all this

is not

those people we're trying to be different from,


the person we're trying to be like.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Green Pastures.

"The Lord is my Shepherd. I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures." - Psalm 23.


Green Pastures.


The phrase conjures up an image of grassy hills that stretch for miles, green and restful and inviting; It calls to mind a soft and restful place where we can relax and forget all our troubles.


And yeah, that's a nice image...but it's not really true to form.


You see, the life of a Middle Eastern flock of sheep is a lot different than the life of an American one.


In Biblical Israel, shepherding was done in the desert, and most of the time shepherds were (and still are) young Bedouin girls or very young Bedouin boys (we're talking 10 years old here. Makes the story of David a little different, yeah?).


It's the shepherd's job to lead the sheep to food. And because they're in the desert, finding daily food requires a lot of traveling, both for Shepherd and for sheep. In the desert, there isn't much food to be found in a one single spot.


In fact, when you look across the expanse of the desert,

all you see is brown.

All you see is rock.

All you see is dust.


Take a look at this picture. I took it while standing in the Judah Wilderness, only a stone's throw away from a young Bedouin girl and her flock.

This is what they call green pastures in Israel.

A tiny little sprout, no bigger than my finger.

These little plants are scattered sporadically along the desert floor, poking their heads out every so often in little groups, a few here, a few there.

And I got to stand there, in the Judah Wilderness, in Israel, and watch a young shepherd girl lead her flock from one group of sprigs to another. She would call to her sheep and they would follow her to a certain area. She would then sit there with them for a while, watching her sheep graze, and when they had eaten all there was in one spot, she would get up, speak again, and move on.

To the next patch.

All day, every day, the shepherd leads and the sheep follows. They have to in order to stay fed. It is a continuous journey for the both of them. Because the way that the desert and green pastures are set up in Israel, there is only enough food for the moment. Just enough to have your fill.

And even that small amount has to be constantly traveled for. worked at. sought after.

And you know what? That kind of set-up, that kind of Shepherd, fits so much better with my experiences of who God is and how He leads.

For example:

I have $324.00 in my bank account right now.
I have to pay rent in 10 days.
I have to buy groceries.
I have school loans.
I have to wash my hair and buy toothpaste sometimes.
And on top of all that? I feel like God is calling me back to Israel to minister there in some way.


Last time I checked, God, $324.00 doesn't stretch that far.

But slowly (and sometimes very slowly and with MUCH patience), through my circumstances God is teaching me what He means when He calls Himself my Shepherd.

He's teaching me that it isn't about tomorrow.

It's about trusting Him, and following him, right now.

It's not my job to figure out where the provision for the future will come from. It's not even my job to figure out where I'll get it today.

Because I'm the SHEEP.

It's my job to follow my Shepherd.
It's my job to learn His voice and know it.
It's my job to trust that my Shepherd knows where He's taking me, and that where He's taking me has what I need.

The LORD is my Shepherd.

That's all I really need to know. And when I lay my head down on my pillow tonight, I can once again say:

Thank you Lord, I had enough today. You fed me.

And Lord?....

I trust that you will do the same, tomorrow.


One last thought: After Jesus had risen He came to talk to the disciples along the shore of Galilee while they were fishing. Do you remember what He said to Peter?

Feed. My. Sheep.

Not once, not twice, but three times, Jesus repeats it.

Feed my lambs. Take care of my sheep. Feed my sheep.

Jesus shepherds us. With what He teaches us, we shepherd others.

God blesses us. With what He gives us, we bless others.

We can't forget this step.

We can't forget that

it doesn't end with us.

He calls us to share it, too.

Sunday, May 16, 2010


"You have said, 'It is futile to serve God. What did we gain by carrying out his requirements and going about like mourners before the Lord Almighty?" - Malachi 3:14.
Do we walk around acting like being a disciple of God is futile?
Do we give God credit for what He's doing in our lives, even when it is not evident in rich and obvious blessings?
Do we testify with our actions that we really believe that God will provide for us and take care of our needs?
Do we make BOLD choices, trusting that God will show up in powerful ways, even before He does?
Or do we live practically, making safe choices, excusing away challenges and risks, turning down possibilites and adventures, because deep down in our hearts we don't believe that God can do great things through us?
I often catch myself subconciously acting out of the belief that God won't show up for me. That I'll end up penniless and shamed if I step out for Him.
That obeying Him with bravery will turn out to be futile.
But you know what? IT ISN'T. When God is involved, futility is impossible.
God really is powerful.
A friend recently reminded me that even His name testifies to that power.
I AM - A name that carries such mystery and depth and power within it.
Will I be able to pay rent this month, Lord? I AM Provider.
Do I have what it takes to go to school in Jerusalem and proclaim Jesus there? I AM Teacher.
Can you heal my heart, her heart, their hearts, from those past wounds? I AM Healer.
Will you really be with me, every step along this journey? I AM faithful.
Today, I once again move myself in the direction of trust and BOLD obedience, attempting to live a life that testifies to the truth that God is willing and able to show up in my life in incredible ways.
I will act in a way that puts faith in Him who is powerful. faithful. bold. wild. reckless. zealous. passionate. full. glorious. almighty. awesome. brave. present. TRUE.
And I will pray the following for all of us, who continue to carry on this mission.
"For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of His glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge -- that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
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." - Paul's letter to the Ephesians.
We are disciples of JESUS (!).
We are disciples of a brave and powerful and wild Rabbi.
That means we can (and must) be brave and powerful and wild too.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


I let people tell me who I am.

I always have.

Do you know that book, "You are Special," by Max Lucado? A simple children's book, only a few pages long.

But filled with truth.

It is the story of a little wooden toy who is covered in little red dots. Little red dots that were placed on him by others. Marks that send a message of inferiority and failure. A little toy, labeled by his peers as broken, less than, and not much.

Not all the stickers in the story are bad. There are stars that are given as well. Shiny gold ones. They are good marks, marks of success given from one peer to another.

Simply put, it is a story about value. A story about striving and approval. A story about our unceasing desire to obtain an image that is gold, shiny, and admired.

I am valuable if they label me as so. I am something if the many voices of those around me agree: "She is special."

The message behind this simple tale has always resonated with me, but never so much as it does

Because right now, at this very moment, I am at a red-dot phase in life. You see, recently I made a choice (a big choice) that many people don't agree with and don't understand. That one big choice continues to lead me to even more choices that people don't agree with and don't understand. Choices that have been marked.

wrong. ungodly. unbiblical. selfish. ugly. sinful. untrue.

And until right now, I didn't really realize.

I didn't really realize how often I cling to my bright, shiny, golden stars.
How much I strive for them, every single day.
How I desire so badly to be admired by my peers.
How I work and long and strain for the image.

I want it.

I want that mark of value and success, and I want it given to me from people. from peers. from loved ones...from EVERYONE.

And I didn't realize just how much I really do want the image until I started getting covered with little red dots.

Those dots crushed me. They left me broken and questioning who I was. They ripped my heart open and left me weak.

I was surprised to find out that all along, all this time, I have been listening to the voices of people to discover my value. I have been working and striving and sweating all these years for the approval of man.

What does she think of me? Does he think I'm beautiful? Does she believe I'm capable? Does he think I can do it?

...Who do they say I am?

Thankfully, Today, this very night, my Creator pursued me in my confusion and in my pain and reminded me of what matters most. He opened my ears and allowed me, through His incredible grace, to hear what is true.

His Voice.

Because ultimately, when the rest falls away (or sometimes, as is neccessary for a turning/repentance, when the rest is ripped away), it is His Voice that remains.

The Voice of the One that formed us.

And through His Voice (His blessed Word) He tells us that we are blessed. beautiful. radiant. brides. stones. heirs. sons and daughters. capable. sheep. powerful. full of love. disciplined. chosen. led. protected. passionate. zealous. comforted. healed. priests. grafted in. graced. good. disciples. like Him. His.

And when we begin to listen, once again, to the Voice of our Maker, we start to believe that we.are.who.He.says.we.are.

We start to hope and trust that we are all of those things. Because our Creator believes that we are. And He would know...because He made us.

He made us (and continues to make us) those things.

The more time we spend with Him, the more time we allow Him to speak into our lives and refine us, the more we become those good things.

And tonight, I needed to be reminded of that.

I needed to listen to His Voice. I needed to open up His word and read what He thinks of me. What He says of me. I needed to remember that I have been labeled by Almighty God as valuable.

Today, I ask you to allow Him to do the same for you.

Let Him remind you.
Let Him speak good things about you, pour blessing over you, begin to peel away your stars and your dots.

Allow His Voice to rise above the others.
Allow Him and Him alone to refine you and make you new and whole and better.

And when He speaks, believe.

You are all the things that He says you are.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Faith, Doubt, and Wrestling.

"Believers should acknowledge and wrestle with doubts, not only their own, but also their friends and neighbors. It is no longer sufficient to hold beliefs just because you inherited them. Only if you struggle long and hard with objections to your faith will you be able to provide grounds for your beliefs to skeptics, including yourself, that are plausible rather than ridiculous or offensive. And just as important for our current situation, such a process will lead you , even after you come to a position of strong faith, to respect and understand those who doubt." - Tim Keller.

Faith is a process. It requires a lot of work, alot of wrestling, a lot of failure, a lot of doubt.

And faith without questions is not really faith at all, but habit.

Question. Study. Research. Pray. Disagree. Cast aside. Pick up again. Fail. Falter. Dialogue.

Let's grow in this together, with God's continuous help and instruction.

"Therefore, my dear friends...continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling." - Paul to the believers at Philipi, Philippians 2:12.

Saturday, May 8, 2010


(Sorek Valley. Shephelah - The place where worldviews meet. Israel, 2009).

God is BIG. God is not limited to my understanding of Him. God tells me that with His help, I am capable.

And I feel in my heart, this day, His call for me to GO.

I have many distractions to my going: Money. Fear. Debt. People I love. Insecurities. Home.

But my heart is beating and His voice is speaking, and I want to be BRAVE in this. I want to walk with boldness.

I want to GO in obedience, trusting in the voice of the One who calls me forth. The kind of trust that takes a step without seeing blessing before.

Stepping out and then watching for God to move.

The Jordan didn't stop flowing until the priests had already put one foot in. Sometimes the obedience has to come first.

go. go. go.

I mark today as a turning point.

Today and tomorrow and the next day I will keep my eyes open to God in the details of my path.
I watch for His provision.
I hope in His Word.
I wait in anticipation.

Antipation for the journey He lays out before me, for His work.

Here I am God.


Friday, May 7, 2010

"I have prayed for you."

(Sea of Galilee. Israel, 2009).

"But I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail." Yeshua to Peter - Luke 22: 32.

These words struck me right in the gut this morning...

Rabbi Yeshua prays for us.

The words didn't hit me because of the concept, really. I have known for quite a while and read a thousand times that Yeshua prays for us. But as I studied the Text this morning, the words hit me differently because this time, I read them with experience.

My experience came from a 2-week study trip to Israel that I was blessed to go on last year with a man named Ray Vanderlaan, someone who I think is best described as a Rabbi of modern day. He takes people to Israel and teaches them about Ancient Jewish culture and how the Bible would have been perceived by the people it was written to. His passion for being like Yeshua and sharing His truth with others is not only inspiring but challenges me daily as well.

One morning, far into our trip, we found ourselves (after a rigorous trek) sitting on top of Mt. Arbel, tired but excited from eight days of 12-mile-hikes through the deserts of Israel. As we rested there a moment, looking over the Galilee, RVL informed us that he had been on the top of the very same mountain the night before. He had hiked it when the rest of us were at dinner or getting some much needed sleep...

And why did he hike a mountain in Israel during the middle of the night?

To pray for us.

Not a corporate prayer either. No. RVL prayed for each one of us, individually, one by one. Under those eastern stars, this man who had been leading us and teaching us and preparing all the daily details for our trip...prayed for us. Us, the ones that God had put under his care for those 14 days in Israel. He used what little time and energy he had left to lay us (me?!?) at the feet of God.

And when I heard that, sitting on the top of Mt. Arbel, exhausted to my very bones...I felt cared for and loved in a way that I have never felt before. To be prayed for with that kind of devotion is a powerful thing. An incredibly selfless gift from a man as busy and exhausted as RVL.

And I not only felt grateful, but I also felt a responsibility. A responsibility to this man who invested so much into my learning. A man who thought so much of me that he would sacrifice that much for my benefit.

From that morning on, I hiked harder than I have ever hiked before. I woke up early to study my notes. I kept my eyes open and I paid attention. I listened. I watched. I prayed. I studied.


Because if RVL could offer me his night hours and his energy and his prayers, then I was without a doubt going to give back every ounce of strength I had to walk beside him and listen to what he had to say.

After reading John this morning, I took this idea back to Yeshua. The verse quoted in John above is spoken to Peter by Yeshua on the night of their last supper together as they celebrated Passover. It is the night before Yeshua was arrested...the night before He started the most challenging and painful phase of His entire ministry...the night before the journey of His death began.

And He was thinking about Peter.

Yeshua used the time He had in that moment to encourage Peter. To remind Peter of what was true. To pray for one of His own.

What Rabbi is this, that He cares for us like that?

A man who gives so totally of Himself that, upon facing His darkest and most excruciating hours, He prays for another, for one of us?

Today, I am reminded by the words of John how grateful I am to this wise and selfless Rabbi, for offering me so much...for calling me His own...for allowing me to walk behind Him...for bringing me before the throne of His Father and praying for for treating me as someone who is worthy of His thoughts and His time and His prayer.

And along with that gratitude, I feel responsibility.

A responsibility to live, love, breathe, pray, work, and sweat whatever I can for this Rabbi and for the ones He loves.

Because that's what He did, and that's what He does, and that's what He will do.

And He told me that I can be like Him.

You see, it's what a disciple does. They live like their Rabbi. And if my Rabbi loves people that much, then I want to too.

It's not a task to be taken lightly, and it's a not a challenge for the faint of heart, but it's a responsibility to be grateful for.