30 August 2010

The Good News

In interacting with the first chapter of Mark (You, Me & Mark (Zondervan, 2002)), Adrian Plass talks about how it is difficult, when looking at how messed up the world is, even to know what the good news is. Looking at mess the church is and also ourselves as individuals makes it even harder to see the good news. And the lovely theological answers that we might have don't really cut it beside the day-to-day reality of hypocrites, hardship, the offense of the gospel, sin, and our own failures.

And so, Plass gives the following picture of the good news, one worth recording and coming back to:

"I have met this man called Jesus who, as this passage tells us, stepped out to deliver the good news two thousand years ago. My spirit tells me that he has all the answers I shall ever need, even if he will not give them to me now. Like Peter splashing to the shore from his fishing boat I shall run to him one day when I spy him in the distance because I want so much to be with him. I shall have breakfast with him - he will cook it. He has made it possible for me to go to a place where the past cannot strangel the present, and bodies cannot wear out, and tears will be wiped away, and sins will be forgiven, and reltionships will be healed, and we shall be very much ourselves, and things will be as they were always intended to be, and we shall be in the place that we were homesick for but could not identify and there will be no more religion and it will be divinely ordinary. We shall be happy and at home. Good news for God, and good news for us."

Adrian Plass's You, Me & Mark (Zondervan, 2002), 22-23.

23 August 2010


This week marks the beginning of the new season for the community. It has meant the return of all the core community members that were on vacation - a joyful and lively arrival. Unfortunately, their arrival has also meant the leaving of a couple from the core community, who had been staying on to cover things while most of the other community members were on vacation. And so, as much as I am thankful for the arrival of those who had been gone, I find it hard not to link their arrival with the going away of people I know I will miss. Despite expecting this leaving for months now, having seen some of the brokenness that led up to the decision to leave, and even truly believing that their leaving is for the best, I am still saddened by the real-ness of it. There was a brief month in the middle of the almost leaving when I got to enjoy their company and be community together with them - and simply show up for chapel knowing that the other would be there and most likely available to drink tea or coffee afterwards. And now that brief month is over - and I am thankful for it, even though it means I have been reminded more of what is being lost.

And I'm not sure exactly how to mourn, nor how to participate in the joyful return of the community members whose presence makes things different simply by being here - and who didn't share that last month.

So I am simply going to chapel and otherwise cacooning in my house as much as possible. I've attached myself to my computer - it is high time that I get my act together and write some stuff on Ezekiel. And the forcing myself to work hard and concentrate fully on something I enjoy and flourish in is good for me, and if I work hard enough on it, it will bring on a good weariness and a joyful feeling of accomplishment. And hopefully after a week, I will be more able to participate in the rest of life in community, being able to mourn well while also hoping and delighting in all the new possibilities and upcoming challenges.

10 August 2010

What's wrong with you?!?

I think one of the lines/statements I'll be bringing into my marriage is:
"You are [or do things] so different from me. What's wrong with you?!?"

It is, I realize, an utterly ridiculous statement. And that's the point - I need to say it so that I can take a step back from myself and/or the situation and be able to laugh at myself. Because even if the statement is ridiculous, subconsciously I will probably think it. No matter how much Matthijs and I are alike and how much we care about each other, there will be [are] moments when we do/think things so different from each other that it causes frustration. And then it's easy to think/act as if there's something wrong with the other person. And then by learning to express that frustration in such a riduculous but still helpful way, I can better remember to be less quick to judge. And I am reminded to recognize that differences from my way of doing things are hardly inherently wrong, even despite the fact that they often bring challenges and sometimes frustration.

And as I continue to laugh at myself, hopefully I'll also remember that Matthijs isn't the only person in my life where this question might be helpful. Life in community draws me into close quarters with people who are very different from me, people whom it is also easy to judge that there is something 'wrong with them.' And it's easy to let that fester into something unhealthy. Learning to laugh through my frustration and being willing to see the challenges of living together as people who are different is also good for me. Knowing the blessing of living together well, the good things we as different people can bring together, makes the effort definitely worthwhile.

08 August 2010

hearing the David and Goliath story again

In church this morning, we read the story of David and Goliath (1 Sam 17). And as I listened to this familiar story, I heard it again anew.

The pastor pointed out how Saul tried to clothe David in his armor, the same armor with which Saul (and his army) had not been succeeding. Not burdening others with our unsuccessful methods/ways was given as a moral of the story. Even as much as I question whether this was a moral (and more so, why a moral even is necessary), this thought got me to thinking, something I appreciated.

And the story itself had got me thinking. Thinking about how utterly crazy it was for David to try to take on Goliath (after hearing the story so many times, one can kind of forget that). And that made me wondering if in the last while I've too easily said/thought/felt that I couldn't do something.
And then the next strange part of the story is that the adults in David's life actually let him try to take on Goliath! They even went so far as to try to give him armor, as if further condoning what he was doing - or as a last-ditch effort to try to let him go home in mostly one piece.
And then hearing/thinking about the death of Goliath, it occurred to me that David never touched Goliath, but instead shot him from a distance. Even as much as Goliath could have rushed David when he realized what was going on with the slingshot (or perhaps even raised his shield), it seems a bit un-sportsmanlinke for David to have killed him from such a distance. Perhaps I'm missing part of the story or how slingshots work, but I do wonder a bit about how fair David's killing was. And what are the implications of it being unfair?

I'm not completely thought out on the story, which is good. I always appreciate being able to hear the stories again and wonder about them anew - and wonder about God's presence and what He is saying and what I can and do hear.

04 August 2010


The following quote about 'integrity' has stayed with me in the last while.
"Integrity is the gap between what you say and what you do. The smaller the gap, the larger the integrity of that person. The larger the gap, the less integrity." Taken from: Integrity

The quote has raised the question:
What does it mean if I say I love doing something (like academic research), but really struggle to find the time and energy to do it?

How does integrity fit in here? Is it a question of whether I'm fooling myself in saying that I really do love doing this? or does my struggle of finding time and energy reflect that something else is going on in my life (some kind of problem, imbalance and/or sin) that is affecting my integrity?

It is something I continue to ponder.