Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Kingdom of God

God bless the disciples. Sometimes they catch a lot of flack (take poor Thomas, for example), but Jesus really did not make things easy for them.

Take the context of the passage I wrote out in my last post (Matthew 25:14-30). I went back to chapter 24 to see what question they had asked Jesus to prompt his impromptu sermon, and finally found it in 24:3. "Tell us, when will this (the destruction of the Temple) happen? What sign will signal your return and the end of the world?"

Of course by the time we get to the middle of 25, Jesus has answered this question and then some. By this point he's beginning his second parable on the kingdom of God.

It's easy to shake our heads and cluck our tongues at the disciples' misunderstanding of the the kingdom of God. Oh, silly disciples. Just didn't get it. But maybe in some ways they had a lot better handle on it than we do today.

They expected respect. They expected riches. They expected mighty works, justice, authority, glory, power, and the name of the Lord to be honored and renowned.

Granted they expected these things in a very literal, political, worldly sense, but at least they caught the vision of God's majesty and omnipotence. And they seemed to understand that they would be a part of "the kingdom coming."

The passage from Matthew 25 makes it very clear that the kingdom of God takes proactivity from the members of that kingdom. As sons and daughters of God, we are called to claim, maintian, restore and defend the kingdom.

This parable indicates that God has gifted each of us, entrusting us with his wealth and power. And what are we called to do? To use what he has given to multiply his kindom. And it seems like that is a very deliberate, proactive choice we are called to make.

The disciples got it. I think it took the power and revelation of the Holy Spirit to get there, but they got it. The "Twelve Stooges" of the gospels become warriors of God, and so our calling remains to this day. They took every ounce of the gifts the Lord gave them, and because of their willingness to risk foolishness and even their own lives, the Lord multiplied their riches exponentially, all for the sake of bringing God's kingdom to earth.

So what are we doing today? Are we living a safe faith, hoarding and hiding our gifts in fear of getting them dirty or looking foolish? Or are we trusting that the Lord gifts us still and with reason, throwing our lives into that calling. This parable is a sobering reminder of God's perspective.

Father, Almighty God, thank you for entrusting us with your riches. Give us wisdom, courage, and foolishness to be good stewards, bringing honor to your name and your kingdom to earth.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Criminally cautious

The kingdom of God is like a man going off on an extended trip. He called his servants together and delegated responsibilities. To one he gave five thousand dollars, to another two thousand, to a third one thousand, depending on their abilities. Then he left. Right off, the first servant went to work and doubled his master's investment. The second did the same. But the man with the single thousand dug a hole and carefully buried his master's money.

After a long absence, the master of those three servants came back and settled up with them. The one given five thousand dollars showed him how he had doubled his investment. His master commended him: 'Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.'

The servant with the two thousand showed how he also had doubled his master's investment. His master commended him: 'Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.'

The servant given one thousand said, 'Master, I know you have high standards and hate careless ways, that you demand the best and make no allowances for error. I was afraid I might disappoint you, so I found a good hiding place and secured your money. Here it is, safe and sound down to the last cent.'

The master was furious. 'That's a terrible way to live! It's criminal to live cautiously like that! If you knew I was after the best, why did you do less than the least? The least you could have done would have been to invest the sum with the bankers, where at least I would have gotten a little interest.

'Take the thousand and give it to the one who risked the most. And get rid of this "play-it-safe" who won't go out on a limb. Throw him out into utter darkness.'

-Matthew 25:14-30

What does this mean to you?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Friendlationships- a guest blog

This gust post was written by Blake Blackwell. Blake has been a dear friend of mine for almost 8 years now. He has also been the iron that has sharpened my own, and his perspective and insights have blessed me. We both decided to take a topic and write our opinions on the subject without consulting the other. So to see my take on friendlationships, click here.

Let’s be honest: in the end, there will only be one. Or there better only be one. One what? One deep relationship with the opposite gender, that’s what. After my first close female friend got married, this lesson started to hit me. As female friend after female friend continued to get married, the truth became clearer and clearer. Then one day it dawned on me – the day I get married is the day this equation changes altogether. It’s one thing when my friends get married; I lose one at a time. But then, once I’m married, I lose all of them in one fell swoop.

But that time hasn’t come yet. And so I still have many close female friends. I cherish these friendships, much as I cherish my now married female friends. So what’s the problem?

You see, while these friendships are great I realize their time is limited. Unbeknownst to most of them, I continually struggle with how much to invest personally, emotionally, and spiritually.

I’ve decided that if both sides are platonic (meaning non-romantic), then be thankful for the friendship you have. Several of my friendships with females are completely platonic, and God blesses us both through our friendship. However, if there are signs that one side feels romantic, and the other does not, both of you have a responsibility to each other to protect each others’ hearts. Often this means breaking off the friendship, or limiting time spent together. Investing in another person is a harmful business if the affections will never be returned. Letting someone invest in you is equally dangerous, and even selfish, if you will never return the feelings.

These aren’t easy conclusions. Being single in your young adult years is a time of great joy, fun, but oft coupled with confusion, longing, and sometimes even loneliness. That is why our lives are filled with many friendships of both genders. Be careful though, guard your heart! A friendlationship is oh too finite!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The endearing fist bump

As if there aren't enough reasons to love Barack Obama, the picture to the right gives me all the more reason.

A little history. I have long been opposed to the high five; I find it awkward and unnatural.

So how fantastic is it now that the fist bump has come into common use.

I was skeptical at first, until one of the vice presidents of the university made it a point to greet and dismiss everyone in our office with a fist bump on a regular basis. Although at first it was funny to me, I quickly warmed up to the process. In fact, I started using it myself around campus and socially.

It's just so... endearing. Endearing is the word I use to describe things (or people) that are awkward yet irresistibly lovable.

And I love that Barack and Michelle Obama fist bumped as he was announced the democratic nominee. That look on her face, to me, says, "Okay, Boo, now you go out there and win that presidency!" :) Ooh, I love it.

I can't wait to find my Boo like that and live a life-long fist bump of love.

Long live the fist bump! Anyone else with me on this?

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Father's Day

Stan and Ann, circa 1982

I imagine it's not easy being my dad. :)

But when I decided I was going to go to Oklahoma to school, my dad supported me and helped make that happen.

And when I decided to be an English major, he didn't give me speeches about the importance of a marketable degree.

And when I began traveling around the world on my summer vacations and then moved abroad, he was proud of me.

And when I got sick, he was always there and endured what parents shouldn't have to, just to make sure that I was never alone.

And when it turns out that I disagree with him on different topics, he respects what I have to say.

And when I'm still just a little girl who needs her dad's advice or help, he is always more than willing, without making me feel like a burden or foolish.

And I know that no matter what lies ahead, I'll always have someone who believes in me.

Thanks, Dad. I love you.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


From my neighbor's garden. They melt my heart. One of God's many graces.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Answers, Redux

A little Saturday night blogging with the new questions.

Amanda asks, What exactly is this job that you love so much?

Good question! I thought about whether or not I should put it online, but frankly, I am very googlable. I have an extreme web presence. :) I work at my dear alma mater, Oklahoma Christian University, as the web content coordinator in the marketing department. I also do some technical writing. I work a lot with news stories and keeping the content of our site up to date. If you go to the new, amazing, I worked a lot on the organization of menus.

Rachel O (one of my fabulous co-workers) asks, what is the scariest thing you have ever done?

I've had a lot of scary things happen to me, but I'm going to guess this means something I've willingly done. Definitely getting on a plane to move to Japan. I'd never been there, was moving to a town where I didn't know anyone, had no idea what to expect... oh man, I don't know if I've ever been as scared as I was when I got on that plane. Talk about a leap of faith.


LOL! Alrighty, well here is a short but serious list.

  • Involved, Christian leader already active in ministry
  • Someone who encourages me to pursue my spiritual gifts
  • Humble
  • Kind
  • Gentle
  • Shares quite similar viewpoints (theological, political, family roles, etc)
  • Compliments me (not like saying nice things, but accentuating who I am with who he is)
  • Push back. I don't know how succinctly phrase this, but I have a fairly strong personality and opinions, and I have found that I need someone who will push back at this- not argumentative or debating, but challenging me with their own thoughts, perspective, and experience rather than just agreeing with me.)

There ya go. Fascinating, hmm? If you know any good fellas who match this list, drop me a line. :) I promise I'll be back with real content soon.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


You asked, I will answer.

Leah asks- Your all time favorite book?

I will exclude the Bible, and name one fiction and one non-fiction.

Fiction- East of Eden by John Steinbeck. Love love love this book. I've probably read it at least five times. Amazing storytelling, deep symbolism.

Non-fiction- Prayer- Finding the Heart's True Home by Richard Foster. Revitalized my prayer life, which changed so much about my ministry and relationship with God.

For a complete list of my all time favorites, check out the amazon widget in the left hand column.

Do you ever see yourself going back to Brazil in the future?

I would love to go back to visit, and think I will. But I don't have any plans or a strong desire to live there again. It would have to be a very unique and good situation for me to consider moving back (living, working, etc).

Holly asks, What is your favorite memory of living overseas?

This isn't a specific moment, but both in Japan and Brazil, the most precious memories are those with church members. It was amazing to me to witness how the Holy Spirit and bond of Christ can unify people despite culture, language, and experience. God is good!

Amanda asks, What is the biggest obstacle for church growth in Brazil?

Disclaimer that I'm giving my opinion from what I've seen, not necessarily in the places where I've lived, but in missions in general. It seems to me that a critical problem in missions (typical North Americans going elsewhere) is a dependence upon foreign leadership and money. Sometimes it's just a product of the system, in other cases it seems that some missionaries create that type of monopoly.

I would like to see more focus put on training native church members in leadership and letting them "own" and grow their churches. The mission churches I respect most and see as most healthy are those where the native church members are entrusted with responsibility and given freedom to lead.

If you could do absolutely any job, anywhere in the world, what would it be?

Hmm, I had to think about this one. First of all, I want to say how much I love my current job. And I'm not just flattering my bosses/co-workers who read the blog. :) I find myself often talking about how much I love what I do and the people I work with. I never imagined I could like a job as much as I like mine.

That said, call me a glutton for punishment but I still feel some draw to ministry. I'm not sure what that would look like, but some areas I have a great deal of interest in are hospital chaplaincy, counseling, writing, or academia.

Great questions! Sorry it took me so long to answer. I actually did this last week, but then blogger ate it. :(

One last chance- if you have questions, leave them in the comments and I'll answer with a quicker turnaround than this time. :)