conflict and the gospel

i have a sharp memory from my sophomore year of college: i was reading through my new training material for Youthworks, my upcoming summer job. the binder had an entire section dedicated to conflict--the good, the bad, the ugly. it talked about how to anticipate conflict, how to keep composure in conflict, how to reach a true better-than compromise, how to walk in a manner worthy of the gospel even in the midst of conflict.

it was like all the house lights suddenly came up. 

sophomore year was characterized by constant conflict. you know, best of times//worst of times. we had a great group of friends, we had tons of fun, we all lived in the same hall, and eventually we became an infected, seeping, ingrown toenail of sorts. girls fought over guys, guys fought over girls, the guys treated the girls with very little concern, the girls didn't give the guys much respect or space, and we played a lot of texas hold 'em and catchphrase in between all of the mess. 

and we were incredibly unpracticed at applying the gospel to our corporate mess.

when i read the training manual on conflict, i immediately discussed it with a few of the girls involved. it was a hard pill for all of us to swallow. we had to admit that we were doing something wrong. we had to give up our claims of rightness and our self-justifications. we had to repent of our selfish anger and these-are-my-rights mentality. and we had to extend grace to one other for our weaknesses.

bear one another's burdens, and this way you fulfill the law of Christ. galatians 6:2

oh, gospel. there you are.

you know, when we are accustomed to being ruled by worldly wisdom or carnal desires, the word of the cross becomes a stumbling block. the wisdom of God sounds like foolishness to our death-filled ears. we wrap our fists around all the so-called injustices we have suffered and we use them as weapons of vengeance. and you know what? we may even be "right." but, as a wise friend once told me, the gospel changes everything.

the gospel

even when i'm right. especially when i'm right.

what good is it to win every conflict by clever arguments or sheer force of personality if the gospel is trampled? there is no winner when the flesh determines the outcome, for there is only death in the way of the flesh.

but when conflict brings about truth spoken in love, when it brings reconciliation, when it brings healing, when it brings us to be satisfied in Christ instead of the world, when it exposes and expunges our sin, when it brings redemption ... then the gospel lives, and we with it.

so tonight i'm thinking about how to be diligent to preserve the bond of unity, which is love, between my brothers and sisters, even when we frustrate one another. it is certainly not easy, but it is definitely worth it.


autumn delights

although i probably COULD write an entire post about how delightful autumn is to me, this is actually a recipe for an autumn treat. i don't want to call them cookies because they're really much more healthy and not as sweet, but they're just as delicious as their chocolate-chip (and butter-laden) counterparts.

soundtrack: vaughan williams, fantasia on a theme by thomas tallis (this is a critical part to the baking process)

"wet" ingredients:
1/2 cup butter or coconut oil, softened
2 eggs
1 tbsp molasses (or maple syrup, i suppose)
1/2 cup splenda/sugar mix
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
cinnamon (i use a LOT, and i don't measure. to taste?)
nutmeg (same story, but not as much)
2 medium apples, cored, peeled, finely diced (hello food processor! and apple corer/peeler/slicer!)

dry ingredients
3 cups oats (for a finer texture, i put mine through the food processor for a minute or so.)
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
crasins (i used cranberry and pomegranate flavor)

preheat oven to 375*, or 350* for dark or non-stick

in large bowl, combine all wet ingredients except apples with hand mixer until well blended. blend in apples until well mixed. add flours and oats, stirring until very well mixed. fold in cranberries.

spoon onto cookie sheets, about 2" apart, by rounded teaspoonfuls. be mindful that they will retain whatever shape you put them in, so the rounder, the better. bake on center rack for 9-12 minutes, until they retain shape when lightly pressed.

remove immediately from pan and cool on rack or wax paper. yield: 50-55 cookies.


the plunge

not to be confused with the plunger :)

this sunday, i'm being baptized at the 7:00 pm service at sojourn community church. if anyone who reads this is in the louisville area, i would love for you to celebrate this with me, especially since my family won't be able to attend.

i've never actually attended a baptism service at sojourn because of work schedules and being out of town, so i'm a little bit nervous about how it's all going to go down (pun intended). but i know this much: i wrote my baptism testimony for them, and someone is going to read it before i'm dunked :) i thought it might be an encouragement to someone out there, so i'm posting it here as well. some background: i was baptized in the methodist church when i was a month old. i was saved when i was 13, after which time i went through confirmation (and a public confession of faith) to join the church. because of this, even as i learned more about doctrine and denominational theology, i became conflicted about whether or not i needed to be baptized "again" -- or maybe just plain ol' baptized. i was afraid of offending my family. i was afraid of causing other people in similar situations to doubt their salvation. but ultimately i came to understand this: baptism is not magical. it's not salvation-inducing. it's not something that will give me heaven insurance. in fact, i am already completely assured of my salvation, so it's not going to even make me "feel better."

so what is it? it's an act of obedience. it's conforming my life to be more like Jesus'. it's putting action to my faith. it's worship and submission to God.

that's certainly something worth doing.


I was raised in a church-going family, and I was the Sunday School know-it-all. But even though I knew a lot of things about God, I didn’t know Him as my Father, my Sovereign Lord, or my Savior. In fact, I didn’t even know that I needed a Savior—by my own estimation, I was a pretty good kid. Then, when I was 13, I heard the gospel (probably for the hundredth time) and finally I understood what God had done for me. God gave me eyes to see and ears to hear, and I saw that I had spent my whole life in self-centered disobedience to God. I was a sinner, and I deserved death. But I also heard the call of hope: I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I needed and wanted to know Jesus Christ who had paid my debt and who had put death in its grave on my behalf. I responded to God’s call to repent of my sin, to believe and to follow Him. That night, at a church camp in Northern Indiana, I prayed for Jesus to take my life, to be my life. Since that time, He has not stopped His work of sanctification in me, by His grace, and I could speak of countless ways that He has changed me and is changing me. He has taught me how to love and forgive in the face of hatred and injustice. He has given me new eyes to see people with compassion instead of judgment. And though I am still wrapped in flesh and struggle with sin, He continues to take my stubborn, stony heart and make it His again. The same God who made me is the same God who saved me, is the same God who is perfecting me by grace in Christ Jesus for His eternal glory. That is why I come for baptism today. Although I was saved by God’s grace 12 years ago, I was never baptized afterward. My parents ‘baptized’ me when I was an infant, and I made a public confession and joined the church after I was saved. But the truth is that God desires and delights in my obedience, and it is His command for me to follow in Jesus’ footsteps with baptism. I am a servant, certainly not greater than my Master, and with my baptism I am telling God, the Church, and the World that I am His and He is mine! I belong to no other, all I have is Christ. His life, His death, and His resurrection are my only plea. So wash me in the water of the Word, make my life His own. Hallelujah!


homemade granola bars

i love granola bars, but i don't like how much they cost. so i decided to try my hand at making my own today. i googled several recipes, but i ended up just making up my own recipe based on what i had sitting around my kitchen.

a few notes, before i share the recipe: the most important thing is the ratio of dry to wet ingredients, so if you don't like flax seed or peanuts, or if you only have honey and maple syrup, simply substitute more/less of another ingredient. you can use any fruit and any nut, even chocolate chips or m&m's if you want to. i used prunes, dates, and apricots, which i diced before i began. i also used cranberries, blueberries, and raisins, which i left whole. i used sunflower seeds, peanuts, and soy nuts, but i threw them all in my food processor to keep it all fine. i'm not a big fan of huge chunks of anything in my baked goods. also, instead of wheat germ or oat flour, as some recipes called for, i just put some whole oats in my food processor for a minute or so until it became flour, and then i added some xantham gum for a little extra "stick." i'm not sure if the xantham gum was necessary, so i suppose you could try it w/o and see how it works! also, i used coconut oil instead of only butter, because coconut oil's melting point is 77*F, which means that it will stay solid longer.

also, these directions are for a double batch. each pan, depending how you cut, will make 12-18 bars.

2 large mixing bowls
1 cookie sheet
1 medium saucepan
2 pans, 9"x13" (or 8"x8" for thicker granola squares)
wax paper
cooking spray

dry ingredients:
4 cups oats
2 cups processed oats (to oat flour)
1/2 cup milled flax seed
1/2 cup seeds
1 cup soy nuts
2 cups peanuts (or other assorted nuts)
1 tsp salt
2 tsp xantham gum
3/4 cup brown sugar
3 tsp assorted spices (cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, ginger, etc.)

syrup ingredients:
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup agave
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup coconut oil

other ingredients:
3 cups cup assorted dried fruit
1 tbs raw sugar

preheat oven to 400*F. mix together all dry ingredients, making sure the brown sugar is well-mixed. Separate into two batches, about 5-6 cups each. (at this point, if making different flavors, add the substitute nuts/spices). toast first batch of oat mix in the oven on the cookie sheet for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep from burning. while oats toast, heat all syrup ingredients in saucepan over low-medium heat, stirring frequently to mix (esp. the molasses) and to keep from burning. when toasting completes, put 1 1/2 cups of dried fruit in large bowl, pour toasted oat mix over, mix well. (at this point, begin toasting 2nd batch of oats). add half of the syrup mix to the bowl, keeping the rest over low heat. stir oat mix and fruit and syrup very well, making sure all is coated. i had to stir for about two minutes. in the first 9"x13" pan, place wax paper in the bottom (leave it long enough to fold all the way over the top), spray lightly with cooking spray, and if desired, sprinkle raw sugar lightly. pour the mix into the pan, spreading evenly with spoon. fold wax paper over top, press very firmly into the bottom of the pan. (i found it helpful to cover the wax paper with a towel). allow to cool for 3 hours before removing from pan and slicing to desired size.

my first combination: cinnamon, nutmeg, dates, prunes, raisins, blueberries.
my second: cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, almond slivers, apricots, dates, cranberries, blueberries.


be still

we sang this hymn last sunday, and being a classical musician with more than a few sibelius pieces under my belt, i've always loved it for the melody alone. but over the past week, the words have resonated in my life and in the lives of many, many friends and family around me.

here is the crux: my faith, and the joy therein, rests not on good or bad fortune, not on circumstance, not on the persuasiveness of clever arguments, not on the merit of my own actions, not on the conviction of my own mind or the force of my own will. no: my faith, and the joy therein, is founded completely in the work of Christ laying death in its grave. death and all its cohorts have been swallowed up in victory. as i sang today with quick said the bird, "as we wait for the dawn//will you stay awake?//we'll be naked again//but we'll feel no shame//everything will be revealed//and we'll have no pain//all creation will sing//our song's refrain."

Christ is the Victor, Christ is our treasure. His kindness is greater than any good thing we could gain on earth, His love is more able to heal than any evil is able to hurt. there is nothing that could happen that would be so bad that His goodness cannot overwhelm it. there is nothing that could happen that would be so good that His goodness would not still be better than it.

in the face of the unknown future, in the face of new challenges, in the face of returning cancer, in the face of lost friends, in the face of broken marriages, in the face of suddenly expanding families, in the face of disappointment, in the face of depression, in the face of sin ... be still, my soul: this is not the end of the story.

be still, my soul: the Lord is on your side.
bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
leave to your God to order and provide;
in every change, God faithful will remain.
be still, my soul: your best, your heavenly Friend
through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

be still, my soul: your God will undertake
to guide the future, as in ages past.
your hope, your confidence let nothing shake;
all now mysterious shall be bright at last.
be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
the Christ who ruled them while He dwelt below.

be still, my soul: the hour is hastening on
when we shall be forever with the Lord,
when disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
sorrow forgot, love's purest joys restored.
be still my soul: when change and tears are past,
all safe and blessed we shall meet at last.


live well right now

i recently heard about a friend of a friend who has unexpectedly had to deal with infidelity in a marriage. i suppose infidelity is never really expected, though. people don't usually enter into marriage with an expectation of being cheated on. most people probably think that loyalty is one of the main points of marriage in the first place.

the way it happened was pretty usual: there was opportunity, which is just a little bit nicer way of saying there was temptation. and instead of resisting and fleeing temptation, this person let it linger. like dangling a carrot in front of your own face, it just sat out there for a little while as an possibility. then there was some 'innocent' communication -- you know, over technology, not face-to-face, so it seemed less formal ... and less real. and then the invitation, and finally the indulgence. mix well, bake at 375* for thirty minutes, and voila: one incredibly broken family.

we are all sinners. denial of that fact only sets us up for failure. but so often we think that our circumstances will reform us: i'll be faithful when i'm married. i won't be addicted to sex or p-rn when i'm married. i'll stop cutting or starving myself when my boyfriend proposes. i'll keep a cleaner house and a cleaner mouth after i have children. i'll live a more spirit-filled life once i go away to seminary. i'll give up alcohol and cigarettes once this stressful season of life has passed.

it's all a lie. circumstances will not reform us. we are still sinners. we are sinners who get married, who go to seminary, who raise children, who minister in the church, who witness in the community with our words and our lives. and none of those situations will flip a switch to reform us of our sinful behaviors. in fact, each of those situations will probably expose us as the sinners we are. we will find ourselves tempted and we will find it all too easy to succumb to sin.

we don't need different circumstances. we need a savior.

"Lord, You establish peace for us. All that we have accomplished, You have done for us."
--isaiah twenty-six : twelve--

we cannot bring deliverance to the earth, and we cannot bring deliverance to ourselves. for all our efforts, for all our writhing and suffering under the pains of labor, all we could give birth to was wind. there is nothing of substance to be found in us ourselves. (read the rest of isaiah 26)  but there is someone who can accomplish it all for us.

which is why we can't trust our circumstances, as they change, to change us to make us better. our bad habits and sinful tendencies will remain. but what we can do is begin relying on the sufficiency of the strength and grace of Christ to sustain us completely even now, in our present circumstances, and watch as a supernatural change begins to occur. if we live well, relying on Christ, right now, then no devastating change in circumstances could ever destroy us.

if i can't worship God and live faithfully in obedience to Him right exactly where i am today, then it doesn't matter that i can do it elsewhere.

be here now, and live it well.


all i have is christ

we're singing this song at church on sunday. i'm pretty doggone excited about it.
All I Have Is Christ from Sovereign Grace Ministries on Vimeo.

i try to pick songs from scripture and songs that are drenched with the gospel. but i also try to pick songs they they can learn quickly and sing easily as one congregation. when it comes to the chorus of this one, i hope it get stuck in their heads for a few days ... i know it's been in mine :D


mind over matter? not usually my strength.

don't go to the grocery when you haven't yet eaten lunch.

not only will you spend more money than you planned,

but you will also buy things you don't need. like doughnuts. (funny, i resisted the first display, but the second display on the other side of the store, by the milk, caught me unprepared. and on sale, too.)

maybe i should've prayed for an extra measure of self-control of the Holy Spirit before i went in to kroger.


now let me at the truth which will refresh my broken mind.

mumford & sons, from the album "sigh no more."

  i've fallen in love with this album. i call it "the avett brothers meets quick said the bird." but this likening only works if you know both of those groups... and since one of them is my small (but mighty) collaborative musical effort, it might be rather unlikely that you know us. enough of that, though ... on to the lyrics:

the cave [listen here]

It's empty in the valley of your heart
The sun, it rises slowly as you walk
Away from all the fears
And all the faults you've left behind

The harvest left no food for you to eat
You cannibal, you meat-eater, you see
But I have seen the same
I know the shame in your defeat

But I will hold on hope
And I won't let you choke
On the noose around your neck

And I'll find strength in pain

And I will change my ways
I'll know my name as it's called again

Cause I have other things to fill my time
You take what is yours and I'll take mine
Now let me at the truth
Which will refresh my broken mind

So tie me to a post and block my ears
I can see widows and orphans through my tears
I know my call despite my faults
And despite my growing fears

But I will hold on hope
And I won't let you choke
On the noose around your neck

And I'll find strength in pain

And I will change my ways
I'll know my name as it's called again

So come out of your cave walking on your hands
And see the world hanging upside down
You can understand dependence
When you know the maker's hand

So make your siren's call
And sing all you want
I will not hear what you have to say

Cause I need freedom now
And I need to know how
To live my life as it's meant to be

And I will hold on hope
And I won't let you choke
On the noose around your neck

And I'll find strength in pain

And I will change my ways
I'll know my name as it's called again


i tried (and failed) to give blood today.

for the second time, no less.

the first time was in college, and it had been less than a year since getting tatted up. (yes, rachel bell has a tattoo. shocking. before you throw stones--or give me a rousing cheer of "bad---!"--i should tell you that it's the holiest tattoo that has ever existed. not only is it the words of JESUS, from the BIBLE, but i got it with my bible study leader while we were meeting for discipleship. before or since, there's never been as much sanctification happening in a tattoo chair than there was that day.)

but today, with all things go, my hemoglobin was too low. it needed to be 12.1, and it was 11.5. i even let them stick me twice to make sure. and even though i had been really nervous about it, in the end, i was just bummed. as i sat and waited for my friend to finish giving her ever-so-acceptable blood, i tried to figure out why i was so bummed.

i was there in the first place because i wanted to be some small part of giving someone life. this blood is a mysterious thing. it carries oxygen and nutrients and platelets and things i don't even remotely understand to keep all bodily systems running. it pumps and flows and rushes. it circulates. it replenishes itself, and adapts to heal wounds big and small.  it never stops.

unless it does. unless there's a breach, and it bleeds out. and then it's lethal. if the wound is too great, the body can't restore itself, even after the wound is covered.

and the life-giving blood of another is required to rescue it.

i wanted it to be my blood, to have my life be the sustenance for another's. i was there in the first place because i wanted to be some small part of giving someone life. 

i guess it's a good thing i can do that--on an eternal scale--without ever giving my blood. because the wound is too great, the breach is gaping, and our only hope for rescue is in the freely-given blood of Another. i hold the gospel salve in my hands. only, Jesus, teach me how to get it to them.


unless the seed is sown

the flower in it never opens.

Jesus replied, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal. If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there my My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him."  --john 12:23-26--


especially true for the hard-headed among us (read: especially true for me)

experience: that most brutal of teachers. but you do learn.

--c. s. lewis--



i knew they would get me. they are in kenya this week. two years ago, they got me while in uganda. but this time i was ready. ready to sponsor again, that is. even as one blogger said this week, "how can i ask people to give until it hurts if i'm not giving until it hurts?" more aptly for me, how can i ask people to see the worth of the glory of God if it costs me nothing to proclaim it? i cannot tell you how much i love compassion international. i have the utmost respect for their mission and their methods, and i am filled with JOY at their stories of the Kingdom coming even now. i love compassion international. releasing children from poverty in Jesus' name. and releasing rachel bell from wealth in Jesus' name.

this is my joy, my very delight, and his name is procter. look at that face!!! such concentration. i love him already.

Procter Memba

Birthday:  June 15, 2003
Age:  6
Gender:  Male
Region:   Africa
Country:  Kenya
Program:  Musembe Child Development Center

Personal and Family Information:
Procter lives with his father and his mother. He is responsible for running errands. His father is sometimes employed as a farmer and his mother is sometimes employed as a farmer. There are 6 children in the family.

Playing ball games and playing group games are Procter's favorite activities. In primary school his performance is average and he also regularly attends church activities.

Because of your sponsorship, Procter will have new opportunities to learn and grow physically, mentally, and spiritually. Thank you for your concern and prayers.

procter, i can't wait to introduce you to jacquline!

find your joy, your very delight. the call of God is on you to love His children. obey Him until it hurts, and the world will begin to see that He is worthy of our everything. 

(the link will take you to the search page for a child to sponsor. i would encourage you to search by "longest waiting." you will see the children who have been waiting more than 6 months for a sponsor, like procter was. i'm sorry, little man, that it took me so long.)


simple, not easy.

from the end of the earth i call to you when my heart is faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than i.

--psalm 61:2--

simple, if i am not too proud. not easy, if i am. 


election and evangelism

the lack of a biblical view of election can destroy a believer's ability to practice effective evangelism. such a believer is convinced that it is his job to do the actual saving, and he despairs when he realizes how much of a stumbling block the gospel can be to those who are currently perishing. if such a believer is convinced of the extreme weight that his specific words and actions carry while speaking with unbelievers, his conviction to speak the truth boldly will wither for the fear of inciting a negative reaction.

what freedom comes for evangelism when understood in light of election! praise be to God that it is not my responsibility, and even less is it my ability, to complete the work of salvation! all i may do (and it is no small task) is to preach faithfully the good news of Christ's great work for a sinner's great need. all i may do is to live a life worthy of the gospel by which i have been saved. this will mean that i do not, by my overzealous judgment or inconsistent behavior, put an unnecessary stumbling block in the path of the perishing around me, but neither do i refrain from giving them the whole, undiluted, bone-crushing truth of the gospel.



i am really clumsy. 

today, for example, as i was reaching for my phone, i knocked over my mug of coffee. it went e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e..... i sat back, inwardly groaning at the instantaneous mess, and sighed. if you had been sitting at my kitchen table with me at that moment, i would've turned to you, shut my eyes, furrowed my brow, and said, "i'm gonna need a minute."

i do this kind of thing quite frequently. if i'm focused on something else (in this case, reading an article on my laptop), i don't give my full attention to the fact that there's a full coffee mug between my phone and my hand. if i'm running late, i make such haste that i don't take the time to situate something (or myself) properly and it all falls apart. 
the one that always gets me is when i'm carrying stuff in from the car. one trip, daggunnit. imma do this all at once if it kills me.

then i arrive at my front porch, bags ripping and falling out of my hands, purse dragging on the ground, keys nowhere to be found. one time i dropped the lid to a metal stockpot at the top of my (also metal) stairs. at 11 pm, the entire complex was rattled by the "clang-clang-clickety-clang-clang-claa-a-a-a-a-a-annnng." smooth.


i was reading an article about the slow process of spiritual discipline when i spilled my coffee today. and once i had stripped the table, started the washing machine, and wiped down every coffee-splattered surface, i started thinking about my pervasive clumsiness. in the very moment that i'm thinking about patience and endurance in discipline, about being diligent and full of care in sanctification, the simple act of answering the phone betrays just how little patience and care i practice regularly. if i don't have the patience to make two trips to the car, how much less patient am i with the slow and grueling process of spiritual growth?

there isn't one single way that i have been changed by the Spirit of Christ that isn't profound. He has reached into the far recesses of my soul and slowly pulled out glob after glob of sin-polluted gunk. His word has washed the dust and dirt from the crevices of my mind where i had trusted in earthly, passing things. with each bit of de-gunkifying i have become a different person; i am profoundly different because of the work of Christ in me. every moment, every thought, every action, every word, every choice, every purchase, every phone call, every day off is something very much other than what it would have been if my own will ruled over me. we're talking comprehensive overhaul. 

but every bit of it required careful, intentional, diligent, patient striving after God. it took assiduous introspection. sedulous study of scripture. implacable meditation on the gospel.

which means that, obviously, it was all by the grace of God. 

because i am clumsy. impatient. careless. lazy. foolish. and if i needed a reminder, behold: it's a puddle of coffee all over the floor.


i like it when the bible makes me laugh.

...but only because i am caught red-handed by it.

today's chuckle-bearing scripture-whipping was from isaiah twenty-eight.

"and now do not carry on as scoffers, or your fetters will be made stronger."

a couple of weeks ago, i shared with my community group that i had been experiencing a recent episode of conviction over my attitude toward sin; specifically, i had begun to notice that i have a seemingly innate desire to laugh at sin. i make a joke over it. i treat it with sarcasm or silliness. my sin, sin in the world, sin of others in my life ... i try to lighten the weight of all this sin with simple triviality. when a friend tells me a tale of their destructive behavior, which so clearly is the outward manifestation of an inward turmoil, i join them in having a good laugh over it. and when i share my own turmoils with trusted friends, even those friends who will faithfully administer the gospel salve to my gaping wounds, i try to ease the blow of confession with sarcasm.

do not be fooled, rachel. God cannot be mocked; a man reaps what he has sown.

tonight i am asking for stronger fetters. it is a dangerous request, but i entreat the Lord in utter solemnity. i know ... deeply, i know that i need tighter fetters. i do not welcome the raw flesh they will inflict upon me, but the reward is more than worth the injury.

the earth is broken asunder,
the earth is split through,
the earth is shaken violently,
the earth reels to and fro like a drunkard
and it totters like a shack,
for its transgression is  heavy upon it,
and it will fall, never to rise again.

but when the earth experiences Your judgments,
the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness. 

isaiah twenty-four : nineteen and twenty; twenty-six : nine 

let me be bound by the fetters of Your judgment, for only then will i be bound for righteousness.



yesterday, i was reminded by events in the lives around me that life is a vapor. i had forgotten, momentarily; i had been seduced by the joys and pains of these moments and had become unmindful of the joys and pains of eternity.

this morning i woke up, i made a cup of coffee, and i wrote this poem. perhaps it will become a song someday, though i am not often brimming with creative melodies. not that my lyrics are much above mediocre, either ... my aspirations exceed my abilities, i know this full well. nevertheless, i digress.

Father Time played his trick on me again.
Seemed I'd found a happy dwelling and I started digging in.
But the Earth, it quaked and rumbled, dancing 'round its daily spin--
Father Time, he stole my days from me again,
Father Time, he plays a game I'll never win.

Mother Goose told me tales to make me yearn.
I was happy 'nough before, but still she knew I had to learn
That the happy-ever-after wouldn't make it to my turn.
Mother Goose told fairy tales to make me yearn,
Mother Goose gave me alonely, not the cure.

Brotherhood dulled the sting of passing through.
My companion did the good and bad as only he could do.
Now I miss those golden moments, but it helps that he does too.
Brotherhood dulled the sting because he knew,
Brotherhood, my fellow man, he struggles too.

Sister Friend left her mark upon my soul,
Held my hand as cru-el enemies brought nights as black as coal.
Sister proved her steadfast love, she stayed as long as River rolled,
But Sister Friend, bless her soul, she didn't know
That Sister Friend, still even she would have to go.

Life is but a string of days and nights in line.
At setting sun we still believe we'll see it rising one more time,
For tomorrow isn't promised, yet I drink as if it's mine.
Then I'm gone, just like a bell that's sung its chime.
The silent shell without a song stands as a sign.

Father God has set eternity in man,
Yet He has made us out of dust, and so we cling to dropping sand.
Holy Spirit sings a song of hope: we can be born again,
For Brother Christ defeated death with willing hands.
Our Brother Christ delivered us to promised land.
Brother Christ, He gives us life that never ends.



sometimes in the middle of a particularly grueling bout of sanctification, i like to yell at God, "why won't You just leave me alone!?!!?"

sometimes after a particularly grueling bout of sanctification, i like to say to God, "thank You for not leaving me alone."



it has a lot of meanings in our society. he's available: he's on the market, single and ready to mingle. there is a one o'clock slot available: there's an appointment open for you. i'm going to have a new availability in two weeks: the hours you can schedule me to work are going to change. 

but no matter the situation, 'available' means nothing until it is claimed as your own. there is infinite potential--it could be for a relationship, a hair cut, or a full time job. but until you take action, put your name on it, or show up for a shift, available doesn't make a single difference in your life.

God's readiness to give and forgive is now public. salvation is available for everyone! we're being shown how to turn our backs on a godless, indulgent life, and how to take on a God-filled, God-honoring life. this new life is starting right now, and is whetting our appetites for the glorious day when our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, appears. He offered Himself as a sacrifice to free us from a dark, rebellious life into this good, pure life, making us a people He can be proud of, energetic in goodness.  titus two : eleven to fourteen

and not just that ... but sanctification is available for everyone as well. whenever someone asks me, "how do you know the Bible so well? how can you remember scripture and know when to speak it?" as if i have some special training in scripture-spewing. no, i have claimed it. it is mine. it is my daily bread. it is the best teacher i can have. it is Jesus without His flesh on (He was the Word made flesh). it is the mysteries of God made known to us (read first corinthians two). it is the mind of God made available to us through the teaching of His Spirit.

we have all we need for salvation in the work of Christ on the cross. and we have all we need for sanctification in the proclamation of Christ in all of scripture. if we so freely partake of the gift of salvation as it is made available to us, then why should we not as freely partake in the gift of sanctification? it is here, it is for everyone, it is yours for the taking.

grab a hold. 


adventures in baking: apple blueberry bran muffins

i don't know why it never occurred to me before today, but i love the culinary arts. i'm not abnormally talented in the kitchen, and i certainly don't have any special training (excluding my awesome grandmother), but i'm nearly always game for one cooking adventure or another, and more often than not, i am pleasantly surprised with the quality of the results.

today's adventure was FLAX SEED!! recently, several different friends shared an article on my google reader which gave ten suggested foods to add to your diet for better health. among them were apples, blueberries, and flax seed. now, i make a mean apple pie, and my banana bread is known for having blueberry surprise tucked inside, but i've never ever ever used flax seed. this week, i learned (from the aforementioned article) that "Flaxseed has been used for centuries for medicinal and health reasons. The seeds contain Omega-3 and -6 essential fatty acids that help reduce inflammation and strengthen cell health. It has nutritional value, very usable protein, healthy fatty acids, and minerals like magnesium, potassium, and zinc. Flaxseed is also a rich source of fiber." today, when i bought some milled flax seed, i also learned that it is naturally gluten free, which makes it a perfect fiber-booster for GF diets.

so i embarked on my first bran muffin adventure, as follows.

  • 1/3 cup milled flax seed
  • 1 1/3 cup flour (substitutes: 1/2 whole wheat and 1/2 white, or a gluten-free baking mix or rice flour)
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • two eggs
  • 1 tsp. almond extract (or vanilla)
  • 1 1/2 cup finely chopped apples (i used my apple corer/peeler/slicer, then diced them even more)
  • 1/2 or 2/3 cup fresh blueberries, rinsed
  • 3 tsp. coconut oil, melted (or vegetable oil)
  • 2/3 cup milk
 preheat oven to 400* (350 for dark/nonstick). blend dry ingredients in medium bowl. in separate bowl, blend eggs, milk, almond extract, and oil. if using coconut oil, add last, as the cold milk and eggs will solidify it a bit. stir in dry ingredients; batter will be a little thick. fold in apples until well blended, then blueberries until just blended. spoon into well-greased muffin pan, about 2/3 full. don't overfill; these won't rise very much, so you don't want the tops to overflow. it'll look like a bad 80's haircut (the flat top). if desired, sprinkle tops lightly with raw or brown sugar, or drizzle tops with honey. bake for 18-20 minutes, until top springs back up when pressed. allow to cool completely before removing from the pan; the super-wet blueberries compromise the integrity of the muffin structure, especially while they're still hot.

yield: about 16-18 muffins.

here's a fun fact about flax seed: it can be used as a fat or egg substitute in a lot of recipes. 3 tbs. of flax seed can replace 1 tbs. of fat or oil, and if you mix 1 tbs. of flax seed with 3 tbs. of water, that equals one egg.  good fats, no cholesterol, and more fiber!!

hot from the oven

can you guess which color is my favorite?

beware the blueberries that make the edges crumble while they're hot!



there is no conflict in isolation, but neither is there confluence.  we're better together.

i'm thankful for the community that regularly kicks my butt when i'm out of line, that picks me up when i'm stuck in the mud, that helps me climb ladders onto roofs just so i can see the view, that doesn't laugh at me when i'm scared of climbing down, that inspires and ignites new passions in me, that feeds and grows off of my existing ones, that includes me in the family, that lets me sing and laugh at the top of my lungs, that calls me in and brings me home.

without them, i'm just a lone violin. together, we are a symphony. or, more accurately, an atmospheric folk orchestra. i love them; and even more, i love us.

there is no conflict in isolation, but neither is there confluence.  we're better together.

photos by jon earley.