Thursday, May 31, 2007


An excerpt from Gary Thomas' Sacred Influence:

Elyse Fitzpatrick, a counselor, once told her small group about how God had moved her from a legalistic, works-oriented faith to a "grace-filled, peaceful existence with my merciful heavenly Father."

"The pressure is off me," she told them. "Don't get me wrong; it's not that I'm not pursuing holiness. It's just that I know that my Father will get me where He wants me to be and that even my failures serve, in some way, to glorify Him. My relationship with God is growing to be all about His grace, His mercy, His power."

Then Elyse's friend "astounded" her by responding, "That must be such a blessing for your husband, Elyse. To be walking in that kind of grace must enable you to be so patient and so grace-filled with Phil. To know that God is working in him just as He's working in you must make your marriage so sweet and your husband so pleased. It must be great for hiim to know that the pressure is off for him too."

The reason this friend "astounded" Elyse is because Elyse rarely made the connection her friend made. "I scarcely ever extended to Phil the grace I enjoyed with the Lord. Instead, I was frequently more like the man in Jesus' parable, who after he was forgiven a great debt, went out and beat his fellow slave because he owed him some paltry sum."

Monday, May 28, 2007

family picture

Sundays are lovely days. Especially when they are Bring-and-Share days ... yum!

My family and I enjoy a lazy morning that ends frantically at 12:45 as we scramble around loading the car with the computer, projector, briefcases, baskets of Sunday School supplies, and food for after church in Hannover.

Once on the road, we drop Sonja off at the train station where she will catch a train to Hannover to practice with the worship team. My parents and I continue on to the small English-speaking church in Celle. We meet in the large German Baptist church in town and set up a small semi-circle of chairs for the thirteen faithful believers that come to worship their Lord in a language closer to their heart language than German. However, some German nationals join us because they feel they are fed with the Word of God.

We have to leave them at three so we can be at the Hannover church at four to set up there. Tonight everyone has brought food to share for dinner after worship. While the music team practices, I hold baby Bennett as his mom sets up for the dinner later. (Poor wee babe has the hickups.) At four I head to the back room for a ladies' Bible study.

At five, we move back into the main meeting room and I sit next to Lily as her new husband leads in worship. (She's just moved to Germany from California ... I thank God that she has the church family here to support her as she's in a completely new environment knowing no one but her husband... So ... in a way ... I'm also thanking God for Crossroads.)

My dad preached on Hebrews 4:1 (He is famous for moving very thoroughly and ... ehem ... slowly through books of the Bible.).

Sonja, my friend/wedding coordinator, made an announcement after church asking for brothers and sisters to assist with the preparations of the wedding at the end of June. Who's up for helping set up? Who would be able to house out-of-town guests? etc. She did a good job.

And then the FOOD ... no wait! ... we took the picture first! Aren't they lovely?

Thursday, May 24, 2007

what did i do?!!

The famous Bremen musicians.

Bremen cathedral and "dude"

Sonja bought us some strawberries wie aus Oma's Garten.

What did I do to her?!!
(This woman looks as if she's going to back-hand me with her purse ... but it's merely what turned out to be a humorous cropping of a photo of the Bremen market.)

Sonja learns some sweet moves from a Filippina missionary to Germany.

The beautiful site of my church family studying God's word in the garden this evening.

Monday, May 21, 2007

flirting with me

It's been almost a year since Mike and I have known each other. We had fun today going through old posts looking at how we interacted on each other's blogs ... from strangers, to friends, to flirting, to wow, I really like this guy!

Mike posted a couple of links to his flirtatious attempts on his blog here.

Below is how it all carried over onto my blog.

May 30 - i wish they all could be Califor ... Modest ... girls
Mike's respect for me begins to build.

May 31 - lack of faith?
Mike is open to finding love on the internet.

June 1 - what is it like to be tall?
When we establish that Mike was in fact taller than me. Beware, the flirting is a bit thick here. And ... he wants me to move to Hobart.

June 3 - links to me
Mike called me a "Christian Feminazi".

June 5 - summer reading
Mike's plan to get married at 30 fizzles out and he claims to watch cage fighting ... but Craig calls him out on it.

June 7 - i'm a friendly nerd
Mike wishes he were the one sitting next to me.

June 19 - men get all gushy when they fall in love
Mike shows that he has what it takes.

June 24 - i hate youth lockins
The flirtatious comments on the blog have slowed down ... but have only heated up in our private conversations ... for instance when I stayed up all night chatting with Mike and he asked me ...

June 25 - what men want
Well not really ... he asked me "What do women want in a man?" Sleep deprived I couldn't come up with anything good ... so he volunteered what he thought ... and I seemed to have some idea of what a man was looking for.

July 25 - the news is out

How it all came about.

UPDATE: Mike posts Part 2.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

not natural!

The ladies at HIBC throw the best baby showers.

Oma: (auf Deutsch) What does baby shower mean? Why do you call it this? (Germans do not throw baby showers ... don't ask me what they do for fun. Who knows ...)
Me: Hmm, good question. I suppose it is a showering of love and gifts on the new mother.

But it's the games and the gusto in which these ladies from Africa, Europe, Asia, and the US (my mum and I) take part that make these parties so memorable.

These are the same ladies that are planning my wedding (their first) ... should be a very memorable time.

baby Bennet

Friday, May 18, 2007

my lovely church family

The afternoon after I arrived I was tired but not TOO tired to miss out on eating ice cream in the garden with my brothers and sisters from church. Such a lovely day!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

going away party/wedding shower

Someone asked me today if I was also going to have a blogger going away party/wedding shower.

What do you mean?!! I'll still be in the blogosphere!

But I got to thinking about what a blogger going away party would be like.

Here's a game I devised ... play along if you like:

If Today Tonight/Current Affair (for the Aussies) or 60 Minutes (for the Americans) were to do a segment about Mike and Christine, what sort of scenes would they have (example: Mike walking along the beach looking woefully out across the ocean obviously distressed that his love is not by his side).

If they interviewed you/someone else, what would you/they say?

How do you know Mike and Christine?

What would you say about Mike or Christine before they "met"?

What would you say about Mike or Christine after they "met"?

Have you personally met either Mike or Christine?

Saturday, May 12, 2007


Laura links to this article from Boundless.

(I'm busy packing. I leave the US in FIVE days!)

Thursday, May 10, 2007

mike preaches...

... about where our hope truly lies.

outlined here.

listen here.

Monday, May 07, 2007

he blesses me in prayer

When you listen to a sermon that exhorts hearers to extend grace to others as grace has been fully given to them, you may nod your head in agreement but your mind is puzzled about how you might actually do that.

A mavelous theory ... a great idea ... but how will I actually extend grace, what does that even mean? what does it look like practically? So you stow it away in a card file of "good ideas" in your brain, but keep on living life as usual.

In a conversation today with a friend, I challenged him to move beyond the "idea" and toward the practical living.

How will you bless and honor the reputation, family, and heart of the woman you love?

One practical way Mike honors and blesses me is through prayer.

This may sound trite. One of those things in your card file ... you know you should do it ... but honestly ... what good could it actually do?

From the beginning of our relationship, Mike would end each of our conversations over skype or the phone with prayer. Take it from a woman whose man leads her spiritually in this manner, I am blessed, encouraged, and proud that Mike leads us before God in prayer as the spritual leader in our relationship.

I began to look forward to that time of prayer together more than anything. It removed the distance between us bringing us together to stand before the throne of God in prayer. God became more than just an honorary member of our relationship but the Cause, Sustainer, Lord, and Fellow-covenanter in our love.

Mike continued this discipline when we were together for two months in Australia. Each evening when we parted ways, Mike led me before the Lord in prayer to bring before Him our hopes, our sin, our love, and our desires.

Knowing that prayer ended our time together deterred a world of sin because we were living our lives before God.

When Mike leads in prayer, I am honored and blessed and respected.

Men, how can you honor the women in your lives?

Women, how can you encourage the men in your life in their spiritual leadership?

(For a fabulous Piper sermon on extending grace, click here.)

Thursday, May 03, 2007

it was good: making art to the glory of God

Bustard, Ned, ed. It Was Good: Making Art to the Glory of God. Baltimore: Square Halo Books, 2000.

Christian periodicals in the 1980s and 90s were peppered with reports of sacrilegious works of art that were being funded by American tax dollars. Conservative Christians by and large shunned the arts as a result, counting it off as pagan and crude. The image of the crucifix in a jar filled with urine triggered gag reflexes. Blood boiled when Christians read of Karen Finley smearing her nude body with chocolate and proudly proclaiming it “art”. In the midst of this debauchery, Christians yearned for “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise” (Philippians 4:8). Christian art became confined to cute depictions of Bible stories, praise songs, and Christian historical romance novels. Looking back, some Christians now observe that in the process of shunning evil, they ignored their embrace of the mediocre.

What exactly is good Christian art? What was it about God’s creation that made him pronounce it “good” at the end of the day? Editor Ned Buster and twelve other Christians in the arts take a different approach to many Christian books addressing Christians’ place in the arts to examine biblical perspectives of the actual act of creating art. It Was Good: Making Art to the Glory of God is a compilation of essays covering a range of important issues Christian artists must consider when demonstrating God’s creativity as men and women made in God’s image. The chapters cover the topics of good, evil, form and content, community, glory, subject and theme, Christ, identity, creativity, light, truth, symbolism, and imagination. Together, they make an inspiring resource for any Christian concerned about how they may glorify God by creating works of excellence with their minds and hands.

Bustard begins the “conversation” by addressing the issue of good. To understand the concept of good one must understand the attributes of God, for all of his attributes (his justice, mercy, etc.) may be summed up in truth that God is good. He reveals his goodness to man in creation, redemption, and his providence. The world has a limited view of goodness. They are like fish who only know the wet sand at the bottom of the sea. However, those who are redeemed and found in Christ have a broader perspective of the world just like the turtle that emerges from the sea to sun himself on the dry sand. Bustard encourages Christians to build a strong foundation concerning their understanding of good. To do so, he urges Christian artists to study God’s attributes as he is revealed in the Scriptures. God’s goodness may also be known when believers regularly engage in Christian “fellowship, prayer, and the sacraments.” An artist must know goodness before he can express it in his craft.

Christian artists have the responsibility of revealing God’s goodness to the world in a balanced manner. Too many “Christian artists” equate good with sweet and nice. Their work is sugar-coated and lacking in balance. If you are portraying God’s mercy, is his justice also apparent? Bustard puts forth Michaelangelo’s Last Judgment as a worthy example. On one side of the painting Christ is condemning sinners to their punishment in hell. However, on the other side Jesus beckons to the elects to find their rest forever with him in eternity. The work, centered on Christ, offers a balanced view of a good God who necessarily hates evil.

“It is out of the life-giving understanding that humanity is far worse off than we think and God’s grace extends far beyond that which we can imagine, that we can produce good fruit that is rich in the fullness of our humanity” (p. 26). As sinners redeemed by the grace of God, Christian artists ought to be consumed with reflecting God through their lives and work. Understanding God’s goodness and man’s lack thereof, enables them to creatively find ways to reveal God’s nature and truth to a world in darkness. Bustard ends his chapter with the charge given by Paul to the Galatians, “let us not grow weary of doing good.”

The following chapters by various men and women dedicated to glorifying God in all aspects of their lives offer both theoretical and practical advice for those who wish to do the same in the arts.
  • William Edgar counters Bustard’s chapter with an artists perspective on how to portray the reality of evil in the world.
  • Painter Makato Fujimura challenges artists to allow content to drive their form; just as their identity is found in Christ, their art (like their lives) must represent the message of God.
  • The need for fellowship among the body of Christ is the topic of David Giardiniere’s chapter in which he rebukes those who isolate themselves, neither giving to nor receiving from the communion of the saints.
  • Pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian in Philadelphia, Tim Keller explains to readers why it is the church needs the aid of artists to help them understand truth and assist in their worship.
  • Edward Knipper uses several artists’ examples of how to communicate the truth of the gospel plain in art through subject matter and theme.
  • Charlie Peacock-Ashworth instructs artists in the art of glorifying God not only in the making of their art but also in the living of their lives.
  • Theodore Prescott cautions artists to find their identity in Christ rather than conforming to the world’s (or the church’s) perception of what they ought to be.
  • James Romaine examines Michelangelo’s Trinity-inspired work of creativity on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
  • Photographer Krystyna Sanderson writes not only about the practical use of light in her work, but also of the symbolic quality of light pointing to the Light of the World.
  • Steve Scott emphasizes the commitment of Christian artists to Truth in a culture that rejects it.
  • Gaylen Stewart tackles the task of using symbolism to communicate and connect with the audience.
Each of these chapters cover different topics by different authors who use different mediums to communicate to the world their worship of the Creator.

Gregory Wolfe, founder and editor of Image: A Journal of the Arts and Religion, concludes the book with his chapter on the imagination. “It is my conviction that the Christian community, despite its many laudable efforts to preserve traditional morality and the social fabric, has abdicated its stewardship of culture and, more importantly, has frequently chosen ideology rather than imagination when approaching the challenges of the present” (p. 260). Wolfe claims that it is the imagination that truly communicates and develops understanding, and those Christians holding on to tradition rather than engaging the present culture’s imagination have broken down the communication barrier. The West has been reduced to politics and ideology, everyone shouting and fighting from power … no one actually communicating. “The imagination calls us to leave our personalities behind and to temporarily inhabit another’s experience, looking at the world with new eyes” (266). Wolfe concludes that the art of Christians will only be effective if it achieves “an new synthesis between the condition of the world around us and the unique ways in which grace can speak to that condition” (267).

One might find the cover of the It Was Good a bit daunting with its long list of contributing authors, however, this book is invaluable as a unique resource that is filled with practical of examples of men and women who are actually engaging the culture for the glory of God. The personal stories, descriptions of works of art whether their own or another’s, black and white as well as color reproductions all serve to encourage the minister, artist, and layman that Christians are, in fact, making a difference by producing visual, audible, and verbal works that point people to Christ.

Novelist, Ron Hansen is presented as one such contemporary example of an artist who is a “steward of the culture”. He engages the imaginations of both believers and nonbelievers in his novel Mariette in Ecstacy (published in 1992) by delving into the little known world of convents and the bizarre phenomenon of the stigmata. Hansen effectively ties all the topics covered in the chapter together in order to challenge one’s view of spirituality. Hansen does not play the role of the removed narrator who shares the story as actual propaganda for his agenda. Instead the reader, due to the masterful writing of the author, finds himself to be an observer of the events free of authorial commentary on how the reader ought to perceive the events. One is permitted to side with the conclusions of various characters throughout the story, whether it’s awe of the young woman’s devout (almost erotic) love for her Savior, fear of the unknown, or disdain. Either way, the audience is engaged in a realm where good, evil, form and content, glory, subject and theme, Christ, creativity, light, truth, and symbolism all connect with the imagination pointing readers to God and his glory.

The only apparent fault of this book is the lack of detailed citation. Original authors are always given their credit, but at times without mentioning which text the quote was taken from and never a page number. Someone who might find a particular quote inspiring might have to wade through the murky waters of an entire book in order to find the context in which that quote was made (if, that is, the reader even knows what book the quote may be found in). This proves unhelpful for those who wish to deepen their understanding of a topic.

The church has a lot of ground to retrieve as a result of their retreat from the culture. Church leaders must encourage their people in developing their talent and skill to use for the church and to transform and redeem the culture around them. Reading It Was Good helps one to think about one’s life as a Christian. Are you an artist and separately a Christian? Or does your faith permeate every area of your life. Is your worldview so transformed by the work of the Holy Spirit in your life that you wish to see the culture around you redeemed, transformed through freedom from sin in Christ? The theoretical and practical advice given by the contributing authors inspires believers to be creative for the glory of God. The personal experiences shared encourage those who desire to engage the culture and uplift the church. Whether you read one essay or the entire book, your heart will be ministered to and your faith will be challenged to grow and reveal itself creatively to manifest God’s magnificence.

In conclusion, the church must heed the warning of Gregory Wolfe in the final statement of the book: “Unless we contribute to the renewal of culture by participating in the life of art in our own time, we will find that the barbarians have entered by gates that we ourselves have torn down.”

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

wish i could but i can't

Two articles I'm dying to read but can't because I shouldn't. Besides I'd feel guilty if I did ... because a certain lovely man prayed this morning before he left for Uni,

"... and I pray that she would be able to focus on writing her papers and study and not be distracted by her blog."

Consider Each Other How to Stir Up Love

Enjoying God and the Transformation of Culture: The Public Life of a Modern Evangelical

I'll save these for later. Maybe you could read them and tell me if they're any good ...

acts 29 misrepresented

The Missouri Baptist Convention refuses to cooperate with the Acts 29 church planting network for the following seven reasons as stated in their periodical The Pathway.
"Acts 29 should not be an organization with which the Missouri Baptist Convention networks by means of our Cooperative Program money, missions emphases and church planting"
1) Acts 29 is a part of the Emerging Church movement;

2) We have great difficulty with the notion or philosophy that a church can be theologically conservative and methodologically liberal. There is an inherent connection between biblical theology and missions methodology;

3) There seems to be levels of immaturity and even rebellion among the leadership of the Emerging Church movement;

4) Acts 29 should not be an organization with which the Missouri Baptist Convention networks by means of our Cooperative Program money, missions emphases and church planting;

5) A commitment to planting indigenous churches in Missouri is not a commitment to cultural compromise;

6) We recognize the diversity of opinion in American evangelicalism when it comes to alcoholic beverages. This does not negate our historic and ongoing affirmation of the resolutions at 57 annual meetings of the Southern Baptist Convention regarding abstinence as the Baptist position on the sale and use of alcoholic beverages;

7) There are vast theological extremes and a profound depth of doctrinal diversity, even instances of clearly heretical statements, within the Emerging Church movement with which we are greatly uncomfortable.

Read Acts 29's gracious response to these accusations here.

Timmy Brister has been following the events here.

green VW new beetle for sale

green VW new beetle for sale

37,000 mi.

2003 model


must sell by May 15.

contact: ckhnat at hotmail dot com