Wednesday, May 27, 2015

on pride

So awhile ago, I posted about my struggle with caring so much about what people think. I called it Hypersensitivity then… but today I’m going to call it by its real name: Pride.
Pride is really the most basic sin in all of human history—it was this sin that brought down the Angel of Light and this sin that put a flaming sword at the gate of Eden. It barricades hearts against their dire need for a Savior, it cracks and erodes the foundation of unity in the Church, and it sets up Self as an idol in the place of God.

What is the remedy?

Is there any three-step process in Scripture to eradicate this poison?

I wish there were. I wish that I could find a “Five Days to Perfect Humility” regimen somewhere in the Bible, like the “Eight Steps to a Secure Faith” in 2 Peter 1. I wish there was something I could do, some system I could implement—some self-powered solution. But ah, there it is, the essence of pride again! To depend on Self to to reverse self-dependence is utterly ridiculous. So why is that the first place I turn when I feel convicted of this sin?

The fact is that there is only one answer to the question of pride, and His name is Jesus. There is only one reversal of Adam and Eve’s epidemic, and it is called Grace.

Grace, by its very nature, demands humility. Grace knows that without its intervention, I am utterly helpless—and that to gain the rescue I need, I have to acknowledge that fact. The only way I can be set free from the clutches of Pride is by ending my self-powered struggle and trusting that a far stronger Man will step in and take up the battle that I could not win myself.

Lucifer was never offered grace, and nor has he ever asked for it. That is why we know his battle is already lost; no matter how hard he fights our God now, he is in fact in eternal bondage to something that only God has the power to defeat. Lucifer will go to the Lake of Fire still clinging to the one thing that was his ultimate enemy, though it appeared to be his best friend. Pride.

Praise God that this is not the story He wants for us! Praise God that we, the deceived, have been given a second chance that the Deceiver has not! Praise God that we have been shown that Pride (or Self, or Sin, or whatever name it may fall under)—not God—is our actual mortal enemy!
“But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, ‘God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.”   James 4:6-10
If I will bow my neck and deliberately place myself beneath the authority and power of God, I can be saved. If I will endure the temporary pain that comes with the death of Pride, I can experience the eternal glory of the Lord. Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3). Happy are the ones who know they are helpless on their own, for they possess everlasting riches that no earthly ego or accolade or appearance could ever buy them.

The hard part is making this surrender on daily basis. Ultimately, I have humbly given myself to the power of Jesus’ blood for salvation—but daily, I find that helpless repentance is still required to enable this ongoing sanctification process. Some days, I just don’t want to feel the sting on my ego. Some days, allowing God to take on my battles seems impossible for the self-sufficient and stiff-necked person that I am. But every day, I’m amazed that God is still willing to do my dirty work when I finally let Him—no matter how many times I’ve willfully fought Him off.

“Thus says the Lord, ‘Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not a mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast in his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justices and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,’ declares the Lord.”   Jeremiah 9:23-24

Sunday, May 24, 2015

happy memorial day + thank you defenders


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I love cemeteries, especially on Memorial Day Weekend. Today I saw the flags on my way home from church and I had to go back with my camera to relish the melancholy quiet of a day of remembrance. It blows my mind that every one of those hundreds of flags stands for someone who thought my freedom was worth their life.

Thank you to the defenders.

Friday, May 22, 2015



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It has been such a pretty spring here. Finally, late as always, my dogwood tree is starting to bloom and my little inch-tall cosmos flowers have pushed their way out of the ground. There are a million little honeybees working hard at the raspberry blossoms and I can’t wait to be eating fresh berries again.

This earth is so beautiful—and yet this world is so ugly. I am heartbroken today over the poison of sin. Part of me wants to rant and rage against the injustice and hypocrisy I am seeing in the society I live in, but part of me just doesn’t have the words or the energy left for another moral crisis. I see Christians being ripped apart and backstabbed by people who call themselves by the same name. I see the workers of peace and justice being called hateful and bigoted for upholding those values to protect a thankless public. I see the agenda of the Enemy advancing everywhere, rapidly, and I see that so few people seem to care.

So the only thing that really makes sense to me to do is sit for a moment at the feet of Jesus, grieving the utter depravity of the humanity He once called “good.” If I look into His eyes, I see not outrage, but pain—so much pain as He watches His friends blacken His name and His enemies laugh at the sight of it.

“The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and He knows those who take refuge in Him.”  Nahum 1:7

Monday, May 18, 2015

but now i’m insecure, and i care what people think



I have a huge admiration for blunt people.

People with sharp tongues, quick wit, and an apparent disregard for the way other people might perceive them because of it. I know they have their flaws, and that like anything, it is a paired value; admirable Bluntness has an evil twin named Insensitivity just like sweet little Gentleness has that evil sister, Hypersensitivity. In truth I have battled both—but mostly, especially lately, I find myself on the side of Gentleness, quiet and drawn tightly into my shell, skin well protected and growing ever thinner at the same time.

And it has me thinking. What would it be like to live utterly beyond need of other people’s opinions?

Granted, there are a few people whose opinions I will always seek and respect. They have earned that. But the grocery store clerk hasn’t. Most of the people at my church haven’t. Honestly, a lot of my relatives even haven’t. What would it feel like to be sufficient in who God has made me—how He has formed my body and my personality and my mind and my walk with Him—without always wondering if I measure up to the ideals of someone else?

I mean, let’s look at the facts.

Fact 1: Other people spend 99% less time thinking about me than I spend thinking about whether or not they’re thinking about me. I’m thinking back to the last 10 people I had interaction with today, and honestly the most thought I really spared them (other than, of course, the amount of thought required to hold up a normal conversation) was, “Oh I love her dress” or “Yay, I got a friendly cashier at Fred Meyer!” And I really had to go back and dig these up—it’s not like I’m still thinking about the dress, or still thinking about the cashier, or still thinking about even the bad driver in the roundabout on my way home. I’m over it. Not that important. Moved on. I don’t form permanent opinions of people based on five-minute conversations, that day’s outfit choice, or their petty mistakes—so why do I default to thinking I am so important in other people’s minds that they just can’t stop thinking about me and how I looked or what I said?

Fact 2: The way I respond to personal criticism or a perceived negative comment is a pretty good indicator of the value I place on positive feedback and compliments as well. If it completely deflates me when someone has something even slightly negative to say (even if it’s just, “I love it! But I would change…”), then in all probability my entire sense of self is built on other people’s praise. What a shallow way to live! The human audience is a fickle one with ever-changing values and ideals, and much of what charades under the name of “encouragement” nowadays is actually meaningless flattery. There is only One whose standard is both excellent and changeless, and to strive for mere human approval is trivial, cheap, and selfish in comparison to His.

Fact 3: So many people are hiding who they really are, because who they really are hurts, or isn’t cool, or isn’t perfect. And they need to see someone brave enough to step up and take the mask off and show them that no, they aren’t the only ones hurting. They aren’t the only ones who are confused, who are flawed, who don’t have all the answers. In the Church, especially, we are so guilty of putting up walls—sitting in a safe zone behind a fake smile so that no one will think we are un-joyful or un-spiritual or un-Christian. So that no one will see that we are an unfinished product with very rough edges still desperately in need of the grace of God. And this is a tragedy, because behind the masks there are so many people dying to know they are not alone.

What would it be like to let go of all the fallacies we obsess over and live for the Audience of One? I think I would find myself set free. His standard is far higher, but His grace is likewise greater. And without myself in the way, what amazing spiritual intimacy I could enjoy with Him and with the rest of His Church! What a true encouragement I might have the privilege of being for others who need to know it’s okay to let go of the charade and fall back utterly on the holiness and mercy of God!

For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.    - Galatians 1:10

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

this is my song

^ This is my song… this is exactly how I feel so much of the time.

But there are times when I don’t feel that way quite so much. And this is one of them:

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Monday, May 11, 2015

untitled (aka, ramblings)


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I went home for the weekend, and it was a delight to absorb the sunshine and the wide open sky. I took Amy riding, threw a Jamberry party with Hannah, went to (most of) Amy’s tenth birthday party, helped Dad with the last heifer to calve, spent time with my horse, and looked in awe upon all the beautiful mountains that I don’t see often enough anymore.

Tonight, I went to home group and, very typically, sat in the corner without saying a thing while everyone else engaged in an interesting debate on the topic of prayer. I wanted so much to participate but found I didn’t have anything to say that had not already been said. I am not the kind of person who processes information verbally; I can’t speak up in a group unless I have carefully thought over what I’m going to say. So I am perpetually “the quiet one” and tend to be talked over, for the simple and understandable reason that no one expects me to speak in the first place.

I wanted so much to participate, but I find that regular conversations move too swiftly for my slow-churning mind. I am still deep in thought about the initial statement when everyone else has moved on into debate. My mind works quickly, filtering through the information and making relevant connections and throwing out what is worthless, but my tongue is unwilling; not until my brain reaches a place of rest and satisfaction with its conclusion is my mouth ready to share it. And by then the moment of relevancy has passed by.

I don’t really know why I’m writing all this, except that this is how I process things—in writing. If only our two hours on Monday nights had a pause button so that I could write an essay on our topic of discussion in time to share my actual thoughts... If only there would be some occasion in my life when I felt like I “fit in” with a group instead of always meandering in the outskirts, mulling things over behind the scenes of those with quicker minds and tongues. Honestly there are times when I’m sure I must seem like a brain-dead mute.

I told my sister the other day that sometimes, I feel like I have no place in the world. That I feel lost and wandering, ever searching for the actual, non-cheesy, non-Sunday school answer reason that I exist. Her reply, at least, made me smile: “Hey, you know, that’s the first attribute of a superhero.”

I guess that’s one way of looking at it. ;)

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

on purpose



I was born wanting to change the world.

Ever since I can remember, I have been long-term minded. I have never been able to carelessly cast aside the heavy things of life for momentary fun or entertainment; I have never been able to let go of this sense that I was made to do something bigger and better than I am. “I am Loki, and I am burdened with glorious purpose.”

And as long as this has been the case, I have been dually frustrated by not knowing what that purpose is. I fight with it and struggle against it. I wrestle with the balance between passion and contentment, between pushing myself to do more and remembering to ask God if “more” is really the plan of attack right now. Sometimes the brutal truth is that my obsession with finding purpose is actually an idolization of achievement. Sometimes I know that all these great things I want to do are more about me, boosting my ego and making me feel better about myself and soothing my fear of being useless, than about whatever “cause” they might help. Sometimes I am driven back to 2 Samuel 7, a chapter that has been my refuge since I was in GCBI, and I have to read and re-read until I remember that the right thing to do might not be the right thing for me to do; that my greatest purpose in this life might simply be to raise up a generation with a greater purpose than mine; that what matters is not what I make of myself, but what I have allowed God to make of me.

It is funny how God chooses to speak. On Saturday, I was in the middle of photographing a wedding reception in Tacoma when He spoke to me about this. Each guest was given the opportunity to write a few words of marriage advice for the newlyweds; I happened to look down and see what my Dad wrote on his sheet, and in the middle of my work I got that tight-throated, teary-eyed feeling that comes right before a dissolution into tears. He wrote:

Do not get so focused on the destination that you miss the journey. The journey is the purpose.

And I wonder if all this time I’ve been missing the point. I wonder if all this time, I’ve been bypassing the investment into people and relationships that actually matter because I’m too busy fishing for the Big Thing I’m going to do. I wonder if I have been plunging forth to build a temple that God did not ask for, rather than simply offering up the temple He already has here—my body—as a living and holy sacrifice for Him to work in as He pleases?

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.    1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.    Romans 12:1-2


I can only say with King David, “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that You have brought me this far?” (2 Samuel 7:18b). Who am I to demand a bigger calling when I have not been faithful in my small one? Who am I that God uses me for any purpose at all?


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