November 7, 2010

Irish Inspiration

I was trying to think of what I should create for a history assignment about a church in Ireland. I knew I wanted to paint, but I couldn't see the painting in my mind. It was getting late and I was tired of trying to think about it, so I just went to bed.
I had a dream that I walked into an art gallery and saw a painting that I thought looked right for my assignment. Then girl 2 shook me awake. I could still see the painting in my mind. This is what came out of my paintbrush...
girl 3

September 22, 2010

Thinking Deep on a Drive

The other day while I was driving and I started thinking about the people in life I respect the most.
Why do I admire them so much? What was it about them I appreciated so much that made them stand out from all the rest of the people I know?
Then I began thinking of who in life has had the greatest influence on me. People that I have wanted to emulate, be like, copy--even become. Why did I want to become them? Had I?

Humility. Of the traits I found myself both admiring and desiring to imitate in my own life, what stood out to me was that many of the people I loved so much are humble. What does that even mean?
"God created the world out of nothing, and as long as we are nothing, He can make something out of us." -Martin Luther

Luke 22:26 says "The greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves."
This verse might as well have never left the original language it was written in. It has for the last twenty-two years of my life had absolutely no bearing on my life whatsoever. I'm sure every time I've ever read or heard that verse spoken it has had little or no weight on my heart. Now I look at it and wonder, how do you live like that?
How can I, a naturally selfish person who out of impulse looks for the shortest line, changes lanes frequently and ends prayers quickly because I'm hungry even BEGIN to understand what this means?
Luke 5:8 Peter cries out "Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man" which is how I've lived my entire life.

It is the fullness of the Spirit that makes me take in Christ and live as if He is in my life. Not anything I do.
Andrew Murray writes, "...the reality is that external teaching and personal effort are powerless to conquer pride or create the meek and lowly heart in a person."
Jesus came as a man not to be served, but to serve. That is key. The connection I am beginning to realize is that it is not through my own empowerment I am redeemed, but through riding the wake of Christ that I begin to realize what humility truly means.
I have been given a tremendous gift of grace, a learning curve in life that allows me to pursue relentlessly becoming exactly it is that Jesus has for me to be. Unlike drag racing, I do not have a straight line I need to adhere to, but instead the freedom of the law to live in. I can chase after becoming a godly man and discovering what it is God has for me without worry that I'm going to mess things up or fall short.
It isn't about the end goal, it's about the journey. It's about following Him moment by moment.

James 4:6 says "God opposes the proud." This directly affects and deals with me, as I am by nature of my humanity, prideful. But this is not a stand alone statement. "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." And it is there I must live.
I suck at the daily tasks of submission. Serving, praying, thinking about holy things, these things don't come naturally to me. But God delights in me, His child, somehow anyway. I am promised this, told this, shown this, and time and time again reminded that it isn't about me. It isn't about me.
It isn't about me.
It's to the glory of God.
Donald English says in his book The Message of Mark, "At the source of all Christian service in the world is the crucified and risen Lord who died to liberate us into such service." Our service then, my service, is not what brings about humility. It is the act following the submission of my heart to His, recognizing that I am not deserving of any pride. None.
I cannot serve my way out of this prideful hole my life so often exists in.
Instead, I need to recognize my position as recipient to a huge kingdom, my place being to serve that kingdom and in as many ways as possible, effectively communicate the love and sacrifice that Jesus is to our hurting world.

What I have admired most in the people I respect are their humility, how effectively they communicate, how often they choose to serve, and their love they have for others.
These things come from a perfect Savior who promises the same to me. I can become what I see and long for.
It starts with the decision to realize with humility that I have been given much; many opportunities to serve, many chances to love, and more than both combined to live the way Jesus has asked me to.

Originally posted by guy1 at tastedangerouslyrandom

August 26, 2010

Tableux from Ephesians

Jesus Christ, standing in the corner of a thistly, barren field, arms outstretched, holding uplifted a single living structure, his church. (Ephesians 2:19-22)


Angel rulers focusing, peering into this living church, amazed to see the many-faceted wisdom of God on exhibit. (Ephesians 3:10)


Dead men wandering about the field, following a prince of the air. Chasing after each want of their flesh, each self-centered desire, each sick curiosity. (Ephesians 2:1-3)


The Father, rich in mercy, reaches in and lifts a man out of death and into life in his church with Christ. And another. And another... (Ephesians 2:4-10)


Christ loves, washing his church with the water of his word, cherishing her by smoothing every wrinkle of her garments. (Ephesians 5:25-27)


Now, fully loved by Christ, we choose to walk as though we are indeed fully loved.

Hidden sexual immorality, impurity, consuming thoughts of what does not belong to us, crude talk and thoughts... once part of our every day life, now we expose. We now bring these into the light to melt. We choose to walk as ones fulfilled by light, not darkness. We choose to walk as ones cherished. (Ephesians 5:1-15)

photo © RPE 2010

August 5, 2010

In Love? Wear a Tribal Symbol

Why do they do it?

Good question.

Every person above the age of 37 has wondered that completely original thought since facial jewelry started to come with an "imbedded" option.

Ears, nose, cheeks, ears, lips, chin, tongue, eyebrows, can all become a strange and wonderfully magnificent meeting place for all types of metallic and plastic infection inducing works of human art. (The word “ears” is used three times because there are three times as many places in your ears to pierce than the whole rest of your face combined.)

I often wondered why on earth people of a non-ethnic minority chose to wear bones in their nose and ears. You know, the curved ones that are pointed on either end...sometimes big, sometimes bigger.

Then it came to me. They were simply hopeless romantics.

Yes, the kids walking around jingling like Christmastime in enough metal material to subdue a small country were chivalrous, idyllic, imaginary dreamers.

The cartilage-like matter dangling from their faces and ears meant they were in love.

“Sweetheart, I will love you with every bone in my body.”

Thats what they told their girlfriends. Every one of them, scared that they wouldn't be able to give enough love, added just a few more bones to their bodies.

Notice, no one actually asks these kids why they have chosen these piercings, for fear the individual will take out their iPod headphones and have an intelligent conversation with them, shattering their stereotype of the subculture.

I've had my lip pierced... in the same spot. Three times.

“Why did you do that?” you ask. Well, its like this.

I don't really know.

I'll list responses in order that I think them up.

1. There was something comforting in the knowledge that I was never to be bored again, having endless entertainment there at my lips. It was like a friend just waiting to be played with.

2. After getting it, I had to change the way that I spoke to allow for the irregularity on the left side of my mouth, and after taking it out each time, it threw me off completely.

3. “Dance, Dance,
We're falling apart to half time
Dance, Dance
And these are the lives you'd love to lead
Dance, this is the way they'd love...”

4.The ability to psyche people out when I had it by conversing intelligently with them made my day every time.

But that is the perspective of a guy with one big logical fallacy for a brain.

July 29, 2010

When He Speaks

There are many questions that the Bible does not answer. It doesn't disclose what God thought about Abram sending his servant to choose a wife for his son. It doesn't say whether the animals hibernated or raised a ruckus on the ark (or whether they had babies). It doesn't foretell the year that Jesus will sweep the church off her feet.

When my ESV Study Bible reminded me to search for what the Bible does say, instead of what it doesn't, I was slightly surprised, then relieved. With this refreshing view, Genesis 1 fit hand in hand with John 1.

Question: How does God create new life?
Answer: Genesis 1
He speaks. He says out loud, "Fruit trees," and there are figs, peaches, and starfruit (Gen. 1:11). He speaks, "Swarms of Living Creatures in the Sea," and there are orcas, swordfish, and electric eels (Gen. 1:20-21).
(For a pictureful, well-told story, try the "Jesus Storybook Bible".)

Q: How does God create new life?
Answer: John 1
He speaks. He gives his Word (John 1:1-5, 9-11). His Word, his action, his reaching out and speaking to man, is his Son (Heb. 1:1-2). And in people who receive his Word, his Son, he creates new life (John1:12-13).

To Him who is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb 13:8).

© RPE 2009

May 29, 2010

Over PBJ and Carrots

How Joshua (2) prayed over PBJ and carrots this noon,

"Dear God, Thank you for God. Thank you. Amen."

May I pray this way sometimes too.

April 28, 2010


I've just walked past nine booths lined up on either side of me displaying the pictures of hungry, dirty children with the most beautiful eyes and smiles you could ever hope to see. In our marketing culture of small payment plans, redit lines, sex appeal and sales that draw us in, at the heart of it all is our culture. We are a culture that spends. We buy comfort, love, health, laughs, counseling sessions and new movies.

Hand-in-hand with every taste or preference you have is an opportunity to serve or an outreach to join with. If you want to build a well, adopt a child, buy incredible photographs to support a given cause or travel the world in service, the opportunities are there. On this planet with networking now so extensive I can identify with someone four states away who just posted an update about doing their taxes at the last second possible just like I did, there is literally a limitless, infinite number of available chances to serve or give.

We pull up in our Buick Rendezevous careful to park with an even space nest to both sides of the vehicle, get out and lock it with the push of a button, then go inside the Youth Ministry Conference to get our badge for the week. We walk by the ministry tables and smile courteously, making a mental note to avoid that section of the conferencing area from now on. I glanced then walked by to lunch, and so, so many people reacted that way.

Jesus said "there will always be the poor." This may or may not surprise you, but He was speaking the truth. I contend, however, that He was not providing an escape route. We are not called to serve everyone in the world tirelessly and care about every single outreach, He was also clear about that. We are given specific gifts, passions, intuitions and abilities. But what Jesus did say, and what I saw a startling lack of, is compassion.

"Caring" and "getting involved" are not synonymous with compassion. Compassion is sincere, scriptural, and an aspect of our faith that is both unique and powerful. What does it look like to be compassionate, to have compassion for those who hunger for and need it more than a well, medical help or an education? Every single answer to life as we need is found in the bible, and we have it as an open book to refer to as often as we like, no holds barred. That should be where we learn to sift through hundreds of organizations, thousands of people passionate about them, and the millions of needs that are represented. What is it that God is calling me to, how can I encourage these people and what they do? How can I use the gifts I've been given for His glory and learn how to become more compassionate and full of grace?

I saw many people give the booths they walked by the same look I imagine they give homeless people asking for a dollar, and it was so apparent the difference between what a hardened heart looks like and what compassion comes across as. A hardened heart shuts out each booth and makes the person feel a slight twinge of guilt as they walk by and later push a button to unlock their 2009 SUV. A compassionate heart sees the unity in Jesus through grace and is open and honest as they interact with the individuals who are so drawn to those needs, joining them in prayer and through fellowship with the Holy Spirit whether or not they adopt a child for $38.00 a month.

originally posted by Guy 1 on Taste Dangerously Random

April 19, 2010

Medicine Cabinet Mistakes

Grammy Morgan was 85 years old the day she told me "I learn something new ev'ry day".

Here's what I learned this week:

#1) Don't keep the Desitin next to the toothpaste.

#2) When the two year old has a sunburn on his neck, double check to make sure you've grabbed the small bottle of clear aloe, not the small bottle of clear hand sanitizer.

March 12, 2010

Boring? No. Insightful? Yes.

Book Look

I stereotype books about the Christian life as boring, but I loved In the Name of Jesus from the introduction. It is honest, simply worded, and encouraging. Six pages later, the book started scaring me.

The biggest hurdles I had to overcome while reading the book were the same things that prevent me from showing love: relevance and wealth. One of the main themes of the book is resisting relevance. On the other hand, one of the main themes of popular Christianity is embracing relevance. Nouwen sees relevance as a way to hide behind one's own accomplishments and abilities. Giving that up means being vulnerable and unattractive, but it also defeats prejudices that prevent us from loving. It is very true in my own life that relevance leads to prejudice.

I read relevant magazine. I choose friends that listen to my music, dress like me, and talk like me, because that is what I value. Nouwen challenges that the love of God and the needs of people have to be enough. When Nouwen says that "the Christian leader of the future needs to be radically poor, journeying with nothing except a staff (84), it makes me nervous. Case in point: there is a Godly, pleasant, pretty girl of my acquaintance that I have no interest in dating. Why? Because she is madly in love with Kenya and has no desire to stay in America. Of this, my flesh is afraid. Nouwen convinced me of this when he wrote that "the servant-leader is the leader who is being led to unknown, undesirable, and painful places." (81).

My family jokes in church that the pastor has bugged our house when he chooses the topic that dominated our week. In the same way, Nouwen seems to have a direct line to my brain. The temptations that he described are the same that plague me.

He sounds like a psalmist pouring out frustration as he writes, "I have found over and over again how hard it is to be truly faithful to Jesus when I am alone" (85). This truth has especially painful consequences in my life because I am an introvert: People drain my battery, even happy people. Every time I get alone, though, I have to deal with myself. Therefore I fear quiet times. I fear what I need the most.

Sufjan Stevens sings a song about the serial killer John Wayne Gacy Junior. The last line sung as the music fads is, "In my best behavior, I am really just like him. Look beneath the floorboards for the secrets I have hid." It is a truth I should not hide, I am broken. How I fight against my quiet sins is for me to confess them. "Future leaders... must always be persons always willing to confess their own brokenness and ask for forgiveness from those to whom they minister" (64). In context of his own Catholicism, he clarified that confession to one's own priest is not enough. The people I serve need to know who I am.

In the Name of Jesus gave me a vision for how things could be. Random statements he made reached inside of me and made me joyful.

"We are sinful, broken, vulnerable people who need as much care as anyone we care for" (62).
This admission of his feels like chains dropping off my ankles.

"Through contemplative prayer we can keep ourselves from being pulled from one urgent issue to another and from becoming strangers to our own heart and God's heart" (43).
Prayer: time spent walking directly toward Jesus

March 4, 2010

Shocking, Indeed

Dear James,

I picked up your letter, sir, because I remembered you having mentioned something about holding one's tongue and a brief introductory bit of encouragement to get through trials. This morning, however, your first three paragraphs gave me quite a shock.

Must you say "trials of various kinds" (James 1:2-4)? I can imagine stealthily paddling a river boat through a closed country in Southeast Asia, smuggling a Bibles that have covers made to resemble some nationalist propaganda, getting bitten by a mosquito, and counting that itchy spot joy for the sake of the gospel. It's quite another story when you insist I consider my husband's lack of full-time work hours, my uncle's pancreatitis, and the daily bout with dishes and laundry... joy. When I am expecting, I routinely lose my breakfast, lunch, and supper and most of the water I drink for four months, then lose just my breakfast for another four. (I don't expect you to understand this, obviously never having been in that condition yourself). I assure you, it is most uncomfortable. Am I to consider this joy as well? You say that this testing of my faith brings steadfastness (James 1:3-4). I am accustomed to spending more time thinking about the trials themselves and less time thinking of what those trials could produce in my faith.

You recommend asking God for wisdom, if I lack it (James 1:5-8). Alright, I concede. I do lack it. However, in the past, I have found it most expedient to first ask my friends at sewing group and my husband. Their answers are prompt, and require less searching the Word and waiting than His. This will require quite a change of habit.

Your third paragraph was a bit easier to digest, "Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, and the rich..." (James 1:9-11). Of courseI read this from the perspective of a "lowly brother", or at least, a "middle-class brother". We live in two bedroom, 1,000 square foot home, certainly not in the best neighborhood. I only occasionally shop for clothes, and then only at second-hand stores. I am not at all discontent with being...
Oh! Please excuse me. I've just looked up some statistics that rather change my view. Apparently, in our current situation, my family is more wealthy than most of the families in Estonia, Czech Republic, Poland, Lithuania, India, Japan, Denmark, Mozambique, South Africa, and approximately 200 other countries. From this, I assume you would consider me one of the rich (James 1:11)? As I read on, I will try to read with this understanding, then.

Your letter is well worth reading, in spite of your affront to my pride. However, I think three paragraphs at a time is enough to set me reeling.

Sincerely Yours

February 19, 2010


Thoughts well worth reading
Written by Aunt Joyce

I sat beside her just a week ago at our last meeting of Solemn Assembly. I turned to her and said: I love you, Nancy. She looked at me and said: I love you, too, Joyce.

A few days later she was in the Father’s House. ‘Eye has not seen nor ear heard, neither has entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him….’

Unaccustomed to the dazzling light of Glory, so lately come was she

From earth’s dark labyrinths of shadows,

With eyes of wonder, she beholds the beauties

Of celestial majesty spread out before her;

With heart so full of indescribable delight

She hears the sounds of harmony she’s never heard before!

But wait – What now does her eye behold?

The Wonder has centered in the light-filled eyes of One she knows and loves

Yet Who up to now she has not seen - except with the eye of Faith!

With awe and worship she gazes upon His Holy Beauty,

Such love overwhelms her soul, she listens to a Voice as of many waters, saying:

Welcome Home! You have come, He said, in answer to My call.

For your delight and joy in every way, these things have been prepared

Things your earthbound mind could not imagine but which now you see and hear.

Look and listen and glory in their beauty for they are yours because - you love Me.

But wait, that’s not all, He said, My brightest jewels are coming through the gate!

Come with me and see the precious eager crowd of My children there.

They have just arrived from Haiti and I wanted you

To stand with Me and welcome them Home!

They’ve come through trauma and loss of all around them

To the Heavenly Home of warmth and joy and fulfillment at last;

Where hunger and sorrow, earthquakes and tsunamis, cannot touch them ever again.

And so she stands, with arms outstretched beside her Saviour;

In awe she contemplates the Salvation He has completed for His own.

She gathers to her heart these little ones once lost and far from God.

For He has called them, too, from living in the Shadowland outside the Gate

Into the Reality of His presence – into the Fulness of Life in His Father’s House.

Together they raise their voices in Praise to Him!

With such multitudes streaming through my Gate just now, He said, I wanted you

To join my welcome Team – to stand with me to greet my other sheep whom I love,

To hug the little ones, to reach out a healing hand to my wounded ones –

To watch with me as they become strong and whole in My Presence.

Yes, she said, there is no greater joy than to be a ‘ministering angel’

In the courts of my Lord! My heart responds to His voice –

This is what I’ve been practicing for lo, those many years on earth!

To serve Him in His heavenly Kingdom is my highest calling.

I fall in worship and praise at the feet of my Lord.

Amen! Blessed in the eyes of the Lord is the death (Homecoming) of His saints!

written by Joyce Wiebe ~ at 2 a.m., Friday, January 15, 2010 ~ for Nancy who has gone from the Shadowlands into the shining Presence of His Glory

February 3, 2010

Swashbuckling Heroes

“And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals. And they abandoned the Lord, the God of their Fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt. They went after other gods, from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed down to them...” Judges 2:11-12

So the Lord gave the Israelites over to plunderers, who did what plunderers do best… plunder. The Israelites fought back in their own strength. And lost. Several times.

“Enough!” they cried, “We want you back, Lord, save us.” The Lord listened. (This phrase shocks me whenever I see it in the living Word). The Lord listened.

The Lord chose judges to rescue his people. Judges beat back the enemies of the people of Israel… sometimes with a two edged sword, sometimes with an oxgoad, sometimes with jars and torches. If ever you know a twelve year old boy looking for a book of violent adventure, he need look no further.

But as I am older than twelve, and never was a boy, the pattern becomes discouraging.

“Whenever the Lord raised up judges for them, the Lord was with the judge, and he saved them from the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge. For the Lord was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who afflicted and oppressed them. But whenever the judge died, they turned back and were more corrupt than their fathers, going after other gods, serving them and bowing down to them. They did not drop any of their practices or their stubborn ways.” Judges 2:16-19

The judges were swashbuckling heroes. They rescued the people of Israel time and time again from their enemies. But that’s all they could do. The judges couldn’t rescue the people of Israel from their own corrupt hearts. In the end, it seems the judges couldn’t even save their own hearts from corruption. Disobeying God, falling for wives of the bad guys, it’s what judges do. Gideon got my hopes up. Humble, hospitable… but that was in the beginning of his story. In the end Gideon’s son slaughters 68 of his other sons.

The accounts of these judges leave my soul feeling bleak. How can one rescue other when he cannot rescue himself? This question pushes me upwards for a breath above the surface. One does rescue me. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Cor. 5:21

January 21, 2010

Lullaby for the Innocents

Lullaby for the Innocents
© 1989 Birdwing Music

(never to be sung)

Hear now a lullaby
You'll never hear
For your life was something
That wasn't held dear
You need not a lullaby
For you do not weep
Nor love's arms to hold you
In death you do sleep

What your life might have been
We'll never know
A miracle happened
But there's nothing to show
We're left with this sorrow
But hope all the same
That in heaven there's Someone
Who knows you by name

January 19, 2010

From the Mind of 1884

This Christmas my brother and I drove from Washington to Montana. During our trip we sang songs, took turns driving, argued about the effect of autotuning on the music industry and it's downfalls/benefits, drank energy drinks, sang anthems loudly, peered through a snowy windshield, yelled at passing semi-trucks, and actually used the restroom maybe twice for the whole eight hundred miles, a topic of great pride.
One of our stops was a ten minute drive back the way we came off an exit to find a rumored bookstore.
We found it.
Upon arriving at the front door that jingled merrily, we saw floor to ceiling every square foot of the place covered in books. Treasures. Invaluable and intoxicatingly joyful treasures.
We dispersed, went our separate directions, and dove headlong into the past. An hour later I emerged with one of my most prized finds. See, since dating this incredible girl who has all but renewed my fire for reading and literature as well as old books, I found a gem among the dime novels, outdated text books, and editions of past National Geographic. It was titled "the Human Body and It's Health" by "Smith." Copyright: 1884. Marked in penciled old lady handwriting was the price "7.95" on the inside cover.
She took five dollars.
I walked away with my heart light and my hand filled with a tiny little "reader" for elementary students of the past, a surprisingly well versed and detailed overall entailing of the human body.
I will share with you a short paragraph titled "Effect of Alcohol and Tobacco."

"Section V. --1. By the action of alcohol, muscle is sometimes changed, in part, to fat. It thus becomes flabby and feeble. Alcohol affects the muscles indirectly, by affecting the digestion and the blood, and so spoiling their nourishment. The athlete training for a prize, knows well, that, if he indulges freely in alcoholic drinks, he will surely fail to bring his muscles to a hard and vigorous condition. Total abstinence from alcohol and tobacco is important for his success.
2. Firm and active muscles are desirable for every one. The boy who thinks it manly to smoke, is, by doing so, lessening that muscular power which is an admirable and manly possession. The pale faces, dull eyes, and flabby limbs which this practice tends to produce, give no sign of manliness. It is true that men distinguished for strength of body are often users of intoxicating drinks or tobacco. But it is also true that such men frequently become diseased, and die before their time. They have squandered the powers which nature has given them."

I found the article surprising and concise...even if the science behind it was only speculated, not proven.
Be ye warned, young males: drinking makes for flab.
Flab just isn't sexy.
Nor is dying of disease.

At least we know Harry Truman, John McCormack and Eleanor Roosevelt weren't born from drunks in 1884 with this quality education being taught in New York and Chicago at the time.
The world needs more little green elementary reader books and less Ludacris lyrics about "gin and juice."
Well, maybe. Or maybe it's that back in the day people were tough.
Like...I would so not mess with this group of people. They could all totally outrun my flab, and I rarely, rarely touch the stuff.

Post-note. I can't be certain, but I think the subliminal messaging behind this elementary reader is that if you drink or smoke, these people in the above picture will come back from the past and point their finger at you.
Drink and smoke at your own discretion.