Sunday, April 30, 2006

"Wisdom" as an idol

11 The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails—given by one Shepherd. 12 Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them. Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.

13 Now all has been heard;
here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the whole duty of man.

Ecclesiastes 12:11-13

I just left a professional conference with days of seminars and teachings and speakers. Some of them were highly interesting and others were less than stellar. I am such a student by nature (probably why I do collegiate ministry) that this kind of thing is my manna from heaven. My PhD fantasy life kicks into high gear: "If I went back to school (again) and got a doctorate I could teach and write and become a professor!" (And it's not that I don't currently teach and write and influence college kids, but it's in a different forum.)

But I never want to forget the warning of Ecclesiastes that "of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body." The point is not to pursue wisdom in and of itself, but to pursue the One who is Wisdom. To live out truth on a daily basis is more important than "knowing" more truth. The whole duty of humanity is to fear God and keep His commandments. Simply, humbly, totally. Perhaps part of God's plan for my future includes my PhD fantasy, and perhaps it is to continue to do what I do today:

  • Love Jesus and follow Him, seeking to be transformed by His power in my life
  • Love my husband and never sacrifice my marriage to the tyranny of the urgent
  • Love my children and nurture them in the love of God and family and teach them the joy of giving their lives away to God
  • Love my ministry team and my students and set a vision for them that honors God and allows them to live out their giftedness in a way that will impact our city and our world.
  • Seek to create intentional community wherever I go--to the homes of my extended family, to my homeschool group, to church, to campus, to the library, to my neighborhood, to my kitchen table.
Father, Son and Holy Spirit--I ask you that this day you would show me what you have for me. Guide me in paths of righteousness for your name's sake. Allow me to serve You wherever I find myself and to be content.

Micah Girl

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Any tips on TN or KY?

We'll be travelling this week in Tennessee and Kentucky. We've never been to either place. We are going to spend most of our time in Nashville and Louisville. Anyone suggestions of fun stuff to do? Part of the time I'll be working, so my husband and kids will be touring Nashville mostly on their own.

We are looking forward to some beautiful driving in Kentucky. We have pictures in our minds of the famous bluegrass and horses farms and country, at least outside of the cities. Nashville is a town where one of my dear friends recently moved, and I am looking forward to catching up with her as well as just seeing a bit of the city.

Micah Girl

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Fantasy or heavenly longing?

I love my life. Love. My. Life. Life is sweet, and God is good to me. Even when I have gone through difficult times of mourning and depression, God has been closer to me than any friend ever could be. And did I mention that I love my life? My husband, my children, my city, my ministry????

And yet my husband and I have the fantasies of relocation. Selling our house, making a bundle, and moving somewhere cheaper and living more simply. We are not living extravagant lives now by any means, but the cost of living here is so high that the thought of moving is very attractive.

And yet when I think of leaving my ministry and my home and starting over, I say NO! This is a blessed place. However, I am often the one to start the conversation with my husband: "What if? What if we moved to Charlottesville, VA, and you got a job at the Medical Center, and I started work on my doctorate, and I worked with college students and we bought a little place with land and had chickens and maybe even horses. And how cool would it be to homeschool in a college town like that. And how much would the kids enjoy it?" The fact that we've never even visited Charlottesville doesn't affect the fantasy at all.

I have been reading in Joshua all the chapters about the allotment of land to the various tribes. It makes my mind wander as to where my earthly dwelling should be. But I am also reminded that I am a pilgrim and that this world is not my home.

2 Corinthians 5

1Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. 2Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, 3because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. 4For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

6Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. 7We live by faith, not by sight. 8We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. 10For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.
My husband and I, above all else, seek to please the Lord, and we will not move unless he places a peace in our hearts about moving. The Holy Spirit, our guarantee of our heavenly dwelling which is to come, will speak to our hearts about our earthly dwelling as well, and we will trust in God for direction.

Micah Girl

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Eternity in their hearts

(Following are the notes from a recent talk on campus at a soul food dinner.)

A soul food dinner is the perfect ending to "Infinity Weekend." Soul food is all about community, comfort, and love. Just the smell of the chicken and the beans and the corn bread as they are waiting to be devoured makes your mouth water. The memories of other great meals shared with loved ones, some of whom you may not see very often, or who may have gone ahead of you into eternity, makes the meal seem to be part of something bigger than just this one night. Something that is part of generation after generation. Something that is even part of eternity. One of the things that I look forward to is enjoying feasts in heaven. Jesus has always been one to love a good party.

Tonight we are all hungry for soul food. All the time we are hungry for love. People are hungry for love because they are created to live in eternal relationship with God who showed Himself to us in Jesus Christ.

Saint Augustine wrote in his autobiography about this hunger for God: "Thou has formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee."
King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived according to the bible, asked for wisdom above riches or power or anything else, often thought deeply about the human condition.

He wrote:
I have seen the burden God has laid on men. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3:10-11

Way back in the ancient times, King Solomon observed this restlessness in people. This burden that God laid on humanity—the burden of eternity in their hearts. Have you ever felt burdened by this yearning for more? Have you ever wanted your life to count for something bigger than you are? Have you ever had tough questions about why God has allowed something to happen in the world? You are in good company: even the wisest man that ever lived had these questions. You are created for eternity, but you are now bound by time. You were, in fact, created for love, in love, by love, through love, with love, to love. And not just today, not just tomorrow, but forever.

But life is hard, you might shout out at me from your table. Life is hard and I am having trouble holding on to hope. A very wise follower of Jesus once said: We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope. Does anyone know who that was? That follower was Martin Luther King, Jr. If anyone knew about living a life that counted beyond his lifetime, it was him.

Jeremiah, an ancient prophet speaking to the people of God living in exile, said

The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying:
"I have loved you with an everlasting love;
I have drawn you with loving-kindness. (Jeremiah 31:3)

The whole bible, in fact, is a love story. A story of God’s everlasting, faithful love for the people he created to live in relationship with Him. From the beginning to the present to the future. God is love.

(Hold up handwritten John 3:16 poster)

I’m sure you have noticed these John 3:16 guys who hold up posters at football games in stadiums. They want to say something to people. Something to answer the restlessness in their hearts. The problem is that people who grew up in the church know what John 3:16 is understand the message, and those who didn’t have no clue what this cryptic message means. John 3:16 comes from the famous story of a religious leader who comes to Jesus at night to ask him what he must do to have eternal life. Jesus tells him that he must be born again—start fresh by the power of God—all because of the overwhelming love of God that carries us into eternity.

John 3:16 and 17 says
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him."

I especially like these verses in following paraphrase from The Message:
"This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn't go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again."

God. God loves. God loves the world. God is love. Jesus came not to condemn, but to save. Jesus is the answer to that restlessness in your heart. Seek after him.
This is the message I want to leave with you tonight whether you follow Jesus or not. People are hungry for love because they are created to live in eternal relationship with God who showed Himself to us in Jesus Christ.

Micah Girl

Friday, April 07, 2006

Revelation about nothing

One of the curses of being a blogger is that when profound thoughts come to you during the day, or your kids say something unbelievably precocious, or you get a zap of insight from the Holy Spirit about what the next 20 years of your life is going to be, you are surely not near a computer. Such was my life today--my brain was filled with "Yes, Lord, that's it exactly!", and all I now remember is a simple day, sweet in many ways.

I was with my children all day, took them to athletics, went to a friends house, came home and read some stories, went to a collegiate ministry event, met my husband there so he could take home the kids, enjoyed a worship service with my students, went out afterwards talked about communism, capitalism, free trade, social justice, and then had a great conversation with the owner of the pizza shop. Simple, everyday, very sweet.

Looking back over this day, I am looking for my aha! moments (of which I had several) but remember only the fuzzy outlines and the general warmth in my heart over the blessings I enjoy.

So, here it is, a blog post about nothing. But to me a nothing day for which I am grateful.

Micah Girl

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Be radiant

"No one lights a lamp and then hides it or puts it under a basket. Instead, it is put on a lampstand to give light to all who enter the room. Your eye is a lamp for your body. A pure eye lets sunshine into your soul. But an evil eye shuts out the light and plunges you into darkness. Make sure that the light you think you have is not really darkness. If you are filled with light, with no dark corners, then your whole life will be radiant, as though a floodlight is shining on you." Luke 11:33-36

Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy;
no shadow of shame will darken their faces. Psalm 34:5

Tuesday, April 04, 2006


"There is no safer place to be than right in the center of God's will for your life." That's something that people tell missionaries (or the parents of nervous missionaries) when they go off to minister in a dangerous place. I think it's true, and I've even said it myself to people. However, it doesn't guarantee an easy life. Suffering and sacrifice are part of life, particularly if we are following Christ.

I have a friend who is having some trouble understanding God's path for her. She is wondering, is there a bigger adventure right around the corner? Am I growing stale by ministering in just this one place? And I have been telling her there is no better place to be than the center of God's will for her.

Contentment in where God has us it a sign of maturity. Not complacency, of course, but true contentment.

I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. Philippians 4:10-12

Thank you, Lord, for every single blessing in my life. Let me never take for granted the sweet and spacious place that you have placed me.

Micah Girl

Blogarama - The Blog Directory Who links to me?