I want neither a terrorist spirituality that keeps me in a perpetual state of fright about being in right relationship with my heavenly Father nor a sappy spirituality that portrays God as such a benign teddy bear that there is no aberrant behavior or desire of mine that he will not condone. I want a relationship with the Abba of Jesus, who is infinitely compassionate with my brokenness and at the same time an awesome, incomprehensible, and unwieldy Mystery.

Brennan Manning, Ruthless Trust

peder & annie's baby

pregnancy due date

07 July 2009

rocking my world

Just listen.

30 April 2009

good words*

I was angry with my friend:
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe:
I told it not, my wrath did grow.

William Blake

10 April 2009

a poem for good friday {2009}

Good Friday

I remember.
Thick spikes,
wooden crossbeams.
A circle of thorns.
Agony. Blood.

I have nothing to add
that you have not heard;
my voice harmonizes
with the chorus of remembrance:

my sin
your love
my hate
your love
my pride
your love
my rejection
your love

And I forget.
My skin is too thick
and I over fond of my calluses,
numb and hard and yellow.

I pray:
like the heavy curtain,
rend my heart in two
let your blood flood the crevices,
and proclaim:
“It is finished.”

my holy of holies.

19 November 2008


I do not like who I see sometimes when I get a full look at her.

The person you see is fairly tame and in these online spaces is mostly well-behaved. She's rational about the things that trouble her deeply and though you hear her heart ache from time to time, she's mostly able to keep it together.

As these layers are burned away, I see someone else entirely. Skin and muscle peeled back, nerve endings exposed and raw, I have been coming to see who she really is -- the red and throbbing life underneath it all.

She knows trials and troubles are promised, and she knows she should endure these things as discipline. A move away from family, friends, and familiarity and mysterious health issues are refining her soul. She knows she's being taught to trust deeply in the Giver and not in the gifts themselves. She observes what she perceives to be the ease and happiness of others and thanks God for how He's blessing them.

Truth is, she loves the gifts more than the One who gives them. Trials, tedious and prolonged, have worn her down like water over a rock and make her doubt what she knows: not that He exists, but if He is good. She pouts and pines away in the hopes that she will somehow get her way. She wonders what she has done to get here (is it punishment? does she inhabit God's blind spot?) and what she could do to escape. She has considered that if it meant her circumstances would improve, she would turn her back, give it all up and try something new. She wonders what kind of God has the power to heal, but withholds it from her. She knows that He counts her tears, but protests that she'd rather not have a reason to cry them in the first place.

She is not as devoted and faith-filled as she thought she was. She is selfish and proud, desiring above all else her own comfort and happiness. She fears that this is all there is, that this is as good as it's going to get, and that she had just better get used to it.

Every time she thinks the last layer has been pulled away, He finds another, peeling it back easily as the skin of an onion. It seems to her that there is nothing left, no covering for her nakedness. And so her insides are turned out and her raw nerve-endings are exposed, unprotected. She is totally exposed, entirely vulnerable even to the most infinitesimal threat. She is afraid. He is, after all, the One who burned away her layers of protection. Will He protect her now?

She does not know what He will do next, or how He will be with her, but she knows for sure that she is something truer now than she was before. It burns and it stings, but it occurs to her: this is what changing feels like; this is the business of being made new.

28 October 2008


Many of you know that I'm in the process of picking up my life here in Bellingham in order to move to the Seattle area, roughly 100 miles south of my current home. This means a lot of things -- not only has this meant I'm away from the blogs while I get things ready for the big move, but I'm also in the process of preparing myself for my new home. Part of that is checking out new churches.

While I still intend to remain committed to Christ the King church in Bellingham, I am in the process of checking out churches in my new area. I am aware that the day will likely come when commuting to Bellingham no longer makes sense and God calls me to become more fully integrated into church life in my new community. I've been listening to sermons online from Mars Hill Church, which has several campuses in the greater Seattle area and have gotten hooked on the most recent sermon series on the Song of Songs.

While there's only so much you can tell about a church from a podcast, I can tell you that if this is the teaching I can count on every week, then I can count on teaching that is solid, biblical, and aims straight for the heart (and maybe sometimes the jugular). It's straight from the word of God and is as convicting as ... well, you know.

This is the most recent sermon in the series on the Song of Songs that talks about confession and repentance in the context of relationships (specifically the marriage relationship). I cannot begin to describe how this series has taught me, convicted me, dug to the bottom of my soul, and inspired me to check this place out in person soon.

Note: the video is about 70 minutes, but worth every bit of it.

05 October 2008

reflections on job: part 5 {an answer, of sorts}

The Almighty is beyond our reach and exalted in power;
in his justice and great righteousness, he does not oppress.
Elihu (37:23)

In the last chapter of Job, our hearts are eased as we see him restored: God tells the friends how wrong they were in their continued claims that God was punishing Job for a wrong commited. His wealth is restored. He has a new family and dies old and full of years. In my heart, I sigh relief not only to see his suffering end, but to see that he is able to enjoy the remaining years of his earthly life in peace and prosperity.

But something still niggles. Something is not quite right. In the school of knowing God, I sit in my desk and look around me shyly, tentatively. Should I just shrink back, fold my hands piously, nod and smile as the story draws to a close? I bend my elbow, drawing it in close toward my side. I raise my hand cautiously, simultaneously hoping for and dreading the prospect of the instructor calling my name. Yes? he asks, already knowing my question.

But ... um ... well ...

Yes? he asks again.

Well, I say, Job never really got an answer. I mean, he went through all this suffering. He lost everything, he got really sick, was in massive amounts of pain, and on top of that, he had to endure arguments with so called "friends" who supposedly came to comfort him, but only go eighty-seven rounds with him to tell him he's going through all this pain because he must have done something terribly wrong to offend God. I mean, he doesn't even get the assurance that it all had a purpose or meaning or anything. Everything is okay in the end, but still. He went through all that, and for what?

My instructor folds his arms, looks at the floor, and nods knowingly.

With the momentum of pent-up emotion finally being released, I continue: And what's all this business about a leviathan and the behemoth? What kind of good does that do for a man who has quite literally been through hell and has no one at all to comfort him?

My instructor stands silently, displaying a calm and collectedness that I find even more unsettling than the question I've just asked. I know that the only answer I'll receive is the same one Job received: an assertion of God as sovereign and eternal, as creator and sustainer of the universe, as master and tamer of massive beasts. He set the constellations in place and whispers to the birds when it's time to migrate. No, I was not there at creation. No, I can't tell a bird when it's time to move south. I get it.

But ... I know I have nothing to say. His answer, while not satisfying, puts me in my place. God does not answer to me. I have no case to make before him. The classroom is silent and I bow my head, looking at my folded hands through a stream of tears.

He looks me full in the face and extends a hand forward toward me, lifting a tear off my cheek with his finger.

And at once I know that His assertions of sovereignty, while they serve to show me my proper place in the scheme of things, are not to whip me into fright, nor are they a showy display of divine machismo, showing off how much bigger He is than I am. He is infinitely bigger and more powerful than I am, but every facet of his potency and his bigness is for me. He knows infinitely more than I know and sees infinitely more than I see. And even when everything I can see and feel causes me to call this relationship into question, He asks me to trust Him.

Yes, He will allow awful things to happen -- bad things, painful things, evil things, unjust things. When Satan enters the heavenly court and asks permission to have his way with us, God will permit him to afflict us. And perhaps we will never receive a satisying answer as to why. Maybe we will never see how God might redeem the pain and evil we experience, how He will work good out of something so terrible. We're asked not only to trust that He will -- we're asked to trust Him: to trust He is good and sovereign, to trust He is the first to defend our righteousness, to trust that His love for us is fierce, that He has not lost sight of us, and that we are safe in the palm of His hand. This is no small feat when the losses are compounding and there is no relief in sight.

Trust me, He says. Know me. I am good. I am for you. Look to me. I am in control of all of this. I am infinitely bigger than everything you're facing. You are safe. Even when all you can see and know and feel would tell you that it's crazy to believe it. Know me. I am good. I am for you. Look to me.

Trust me.

And that is the answer.

21 September 2008

renewing my mind

I'm not quite done with our friend Job just yet, but I wanted interrupt our regularly scheduled posting to share with you a class that Kaari and I are taking at our church right now called The Truth Project.

The Truth Project is a 13-week video/discussion series which looks at some of the biggest and most basic questions facing us as human beings living in a world of competing philosophies and worldviews, a world that is increasingly antagonistic to God. The course is led by Del Tackett, an engaging, intelligent, and gracious instructor.

This series asks some big questions: What is truth? What do I believe? How do I know that what I believe is really real?

Here's a teaser:

What I love about this course is that it's not about rote memorization or learning the answers to get a good grade on a test. It's about inviting the kind of inner transformation that can only come about by the renewing of the mind.