Teaching to Learn and Learning to Teach

God Did This
January 17, 2012, 3:07 pm
Filed under: Christian Living, Counseling, Discipleship, Friends, Lessons Learned, Life

I saw a lot of guilt and bitterness  both in my own life and in the lives of others last semester, that stemmed from not believing God’s sovereignty. Many of us will say that God is sovereign, but then turn around and  say things like, “I know this is beyond my control, but I want there to be something I can do to change this so it doesn’t hurt so and so.” “I’m ruining everything.” “So and so doesn’t know what their sinning against me has cost me. I’m not ready to forgive him yet. He is going to have to earn my trust back.”

Let me clue you in on something. The sovereignty of God means that you or I can’t bring anything into each other’s lives that God does not orchestrate. Stop feeling guilt about not being good enough for that friend or spouse. Stop moping about how your difficulty has affected another when it was something beyond your control. Stop accusing others of harming you or bringing you more than you can bear. Those claims are actually accusing the Lord of not being good. It is accusing Him of being unkind to the person who you have affected or of his unkindness in allowing you to be hurt by another. Instead, we can be certain that nothing comes our way that is not loving and divinely orchestrated. That’s good news! That includes break-ups, financial struggles, limitations, sins, and the whole gammet.

Yes, that boy may have been insensitive. Yes, your illness may have come at some cost to your roommate. Yes, your moving away brings great sorrow to those who love you. Yes, that teacher is harder than the others and yes, his B may have cost you a scholarship… this trial was dealt to you by the hand of God. Take it as such and rejoice. Rejoice at seeing your heart. If you didn’t sin in response to this trial, rejoice at seeing the Spirit at work in you. If you are suffering and not sinning, rejoice at coming to know the Lord more fully. Rejoice at sharing in his suffering. Rejoice at your need for Christ. Rejoice at your opportunity to not only model Christ’s response but to help that other believer that wronged you look more like Christ too.

Let the sovereignty of God cure you of moping and bitterness and instead be replaced with rejoicing and loving service to God and others.


The Long Awaited Messiah
December 20, 2011, 8:37 am
Filed under: Christian Living, Family, Lessons Learned

Gifts not only represent the great gift received on that first Christmas – God incarnate, they can be a good example for kids of the expected Messiah, the long-awaited Messiah. On this end it can be hard to imagine the longing God-followers had before Christ, but waiting until Christmas eve, Christmas morning, or Christmas afternoon can be a small taste of that expectation for kids. Explain that as a part of giving gifts at Christmas.

Is Google Your Brain?
October 7, 2011, 11:31 am
Filed under: Christian Living, Cool Finds, Good Advice, Lessons Learned

Google has changed the way we think and learn. I know longer have to keep information in my brain to “know” it, I just need to know key phrases or search terms to find the well-informed article on that subject that I skimmed two weeks ago.  I can use the collective knowledge of society at any moment by searching Wikipedia, the phone a friend lifeline for everyday life. I don’t know about you, but I use the search functions on my email and computer all the time. I remember my boss said something about this project I’m doing. Let me search my notes or let me search my emails to see what that detail was. Technology has allowed us to get a lot done because I can be working on more projects with more details that I could have possibly done 100 years ago, because I don’t actually have to remember anything. I just need a good system for filing or finding that information when it is needed. I don’t even have to remember that truth God taught me a month ago. I can just search my blog and reread it when I need to. Unfortunately, this has affected the way we “know” our Bibles too. How often do you search for a key phrase in the Bible because you know the Bible speaks to that somewhere, but you don’t remember the reference or the details of what it really says. Is this true knowledge? What happens when our smart phones are taken away? Where will we be in our pursuit of God, our knowledge of His truth, and the application of that truth to our daily living?

Recently, a friend shared that he had been praying to feast on the meat of the Word. That is my prayer too. Do you want to know The WORD not just skim it in order to know how to come back with google when you need it. When Tim Challies was on campus, I asked him how to best fight for this knowledge in the midst of the age of technology. He had a couple suggestions.

1. Flounder around looking for your passage in the Bible before you quickly look to google. Think of the context of the verse and skim the Bible to try to find it.

2. Memorize!

Scripture Memory
October 6, 2011, 11:30 am
Filed under: Christian Living, Community, Good Advice, Lessons Learned

Recently, many areas in my life have converged to remind me of the importance, the challenges, and the methods for Scripture memory. Here are some appeals I recently heard.

Don’t think of Scripture memory as a childish thing to do. We can sometimes slip into that mindset because it was normal in Awana or in Christian homes or schools as children to have Scripture memory assignments. Most of us have not been as regular in this area since we hit highschool or adulthood. It may be easier for kids to memorize, but we need it even more as we face the challenges of daily life and the temptation to sin as adults. Memorize it in order to discipline your mind for godliness. It takes work. It takes discipline. Memory is not an easy thing for us anymore because of the way we have trained our minds.

Tim Challies on his recent visit reminded us of how good it is to memorize together. He said  their church congregation memorizes passages together and that a five-year-old can come up and ask the preacher what the verse for the week is. One temptation with this accountability is to memorize it right before it is due, just so you can say it to that person. Don’t succumb to this temptation. Don’t memorize it to regurgitate it and then forget it an hour later, memorize it because you recognize your desperate need  for and the rich value of the Word of God.

If the word of God is in our hearts, it will be on our tongues, and if it is on our tongues, it will be in our ears. 

What’s new?

1. Items hung on my walls including the frames from the flea market. Cherilyn, you asked for pictures; here they are. The step stool with the suitcase on it is also “new” from the flea market.

2. Sweet Notes from Villains. Never got anything like this in my old job :).

3. Refreshment and rest looks like this:

4. My niece is still new in my mind and she’s most definitely blog worthy (at least in this doting aunt’s mind).

5. Sweazy won Gotcha! I don’t know how many played, but out of an enrollment of 1000 students, one of my girls got 120 cumulative kills. We had a Sweazy Alliance. Our motto was, “Don’t forsake the Alliance for cute boys.” I stayed in until Friday at which point I fell on my sword for the Sweazy Victory Chain. I had to stay in all week to protect a Sweazy friend who was below me, so I resorted to participating in all the safeties available except for Friday’s. Friday I was sick in bed, so I didn’t yell out “Ninja” at anyone dressed in black that might have tried to assassinate me :). Here are the other day’s safeties:

Monday – ride an imaginary horse
Tuesday – talk on a banana like a phone
Wednesday – in song narrate your day and what you are doing
Thursday – waddle like a penguin

I have never been so paranoid in my life. I heard helicopters everywhere, I had my banana at hand while shopping at Costco, I had full conversations with the banana to my face, I semi-waddled into a class off campus, I wouldn’t open my door when a student that wasn’t from Sweazy knocked. I made friends and watched the girls build relationships with one another and think through issues of life far beyond the game as a result of what the competition brought out both positive and negative in their hearts, relationships, and lives.

6. I was sick over the weekend, but am on the mend. It was a good time to reflect again on God’s kindness in making me stop, rest, and eat better. I’ve never eaten so much chicken soup or rehydrated with such mass quantities of Gatorade. It was also a humbling reminder that I’m not all that important. God is at work and He allows me to be a part of that, but you pull me out of the equation and He is still at work. I needed that reminder to not be overwhelmed with the needs, demands, and responsibilities before me. If you start to think of yourself too highly and try to compare the demands before you to “your personal resources” (I put that in quotes because a friend recently reminded me that my time, energy, strengths, giftedness, etc. are not really my resources.), you are going to get overwhelmed or feel that your resources are overwhelmed. When you see, however, God’s responsibility and care for all those things which is matched by his infinite wisdom and limitless resources, you are not overwhelmed but in awe and energized to move in in the strength He provides. He is matching your time and your giftedness as a miniscule part of His resources at His disposal to a specific situation in which He is working for believers good and His glory. It also helps you prioritize as you see how He is working apart from you and that everything doesn’t and shouldn’t involve you.

7. We’ve celebrated a birthday and had wing breakfasts at my place. Here’s a picture of my favorite RA Team celebrating Natalie’s birthday as well as a few other pics for your enjoyment. We had a lemon and turquoise theme. Lemons are Natalie’s favorite fruit and turquoise her favorite color.

8. Tonight we had an event called Sardines and Shakes or Murder and Malts. This is a traditional Sweazy event during which we turn off the power to the dorm and in the dark either play Sardines or dub someone “the murderer” and play an intense game of hide and seek. We wash all the fun down with shakes or malts afterwards :).

9. My favorite blogger on contemporary Christian issues and thought, who is the recent author of The Next Story: Life and Faith After the Digital Explosion, has been around campus speaking in chapel, classes, and participating in a Q&A. My personal thinking and campus conversations have been shaped by his messages. His first chapel message dealt with all speech flowing from the heart and what that reveals. He challenged us to consider how all of God’s commands for our speech apply to how we communicate through email, texts, Facebook, or blogging. His next message dealt with technology’s use as a part of the command to subdue and have dominion over the earth, but he went on to show how the fall affects that in a way where technology starts shaping and changing us to recreate us in its image or to run our lives. It also draws us in and promises us fulfillment and happiness and encourages us to rest and trust in it. We can be idolatrous about technology. He challenged us in the midst of a world of beeps and distractions to think about how to limit distractions and carve out time to think. Shallow thinking = shallow living and the many beeps in our life on our phones, dishwashers, coffee pots, microwaves, etc. are not discerning in when they beep. They just do their job, as they were designed to do, drawing us away from whatever we are doing at the moment. You can listen to those messages by clicking on the links above or by going to http://www2.masters.edu/pulpit/ . I hope to consider and blog more on this soon.

10. NANC – well NANC itself isn’t new, but the NANC Conference will be new for me this year. I’m very much looking forward to it.


Have you ever gotten overwhelmed by the demands of ministry? Maybe you have seen many needs, too many to meet with your time and resources. Maybe you think you are not fit for the job or task God has given you. Pretty much every job I’ve ever been in, aside from GAP, I panicked at some point and thought, “I’m not up to the task. There’s been a mistake. I’m not supposed to be here.” I was wrong. God will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. That means that He has placed you there. When you feel the tension and you feel like there is more to do or more burdens than you can bear, remember He thinks you’re up to the task and He is using this to grow and change you.

Luke 9  shows us that Christ equips before He sends out. You may think you need x or y and you don’t have it, but He provides you with everything you truly need. II Peter 1:3  tells us that God has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him.

When I started writing this post last December, I saw how God was stretching me and remembered that He had custom built the trials for me because He knew I was up to the task. I saw at that time how those difficulties in my job were used by God to teach me how to respond when I saw needs I couldn’t meet. I recognized God was preparing me, although I didn’t know for what. I wrote at that time over 9 months ago, “God in His goodness is teaching me here and now. There will always be more needs than I can meet, especially if I am ever in a shepherding role be that teaching, a missionary, or a resident director” … Look at that. I’m an RD!!!!!! Yippee. When I started this post I didn’t even know if there would be a position open, let alone that I would be hired to fill one. I’m so thankful that the Lord equips us for the ministries He gives us. I need to remember this so that I don’t have that panicked moment in this job :).

At that same time last December, I saw God teaching me to be quick to listen and apt to take advice. Being a single girl in ministry is hard. I think it is even harder in my current role, so praise God He got me thinking about this almost a year ago. I can work work work and there is no one to say come home. This was an issue in my last job but thankfully I had people in my life saying, “Go home,” that I learned to listen to. I will need to continue to listen to them as they help me balance what it means to be in ministry as a single girl and how to think through the challenges of minsitry in general. I need to listen to them as they say, “Jenn, You may think that is best, but that is your opinion. It doesn’t make it best.”

Another apropos lesson God was teaching me last December was what it looks like to minister in a larger sphere. There are daily more and more opportunities that I see that I have to say no to. This is more true today than it was then. When my life was on an isolated little community in Israel with 40 students and 7 staff members with 7 kids, with limited mobility, and a centrally-located office where I lived in the same place as all my coworkers, friends, and the students I was ministering to I had more opportunities than I could take advantage of and more things I could possibly be doing than time to do them in. Last December I was working with 22 staff members, many of whom had spouses, there were 17 kids in our department, I went to a church of 600 and had more opportunities to get involved and interact with people there than at the Keilah (Congregation in Israel). There were around a thousand students I served. I had roommates, I have family in the area and I am only 5 1/2 hours away from the rest of my family. I have old friends within driving distance, I have new friends all around. All of these things are good, but that means I have to be willing to say no to good things for better things. All of these spheres of my life, church, friends, coworkers, etc. have grown leaps and bounds in my new role. I wrote about this lesson in the original draft, “God is so good and so wise to teach me this now. It makes me wonder what is ahead.” Haha. Now I know and I proclaim even louder “God was so good and wise to start teaching me that then.”

I’ve enjoyed going back through my drafts and considering these things which God was teaching me and which He is still causing me to think through or apply to daily life. I’m getting close to writing about my current life :).

Tyranny of the Urgent

Usually when things feel urgent, it is because you have pressure from someone else making you think it is urgent. I have learned sometimes it is better to miss that phone call as an Admin Assistant. The student, parent, or coworker learns to rely on the Lord and after not reaching someone immediately, by the time I get back to them it isn’t such a crisis. John 11 “Let us go back to Judea … Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” He waited two days. Others thought it was urgent, but he was more concerned with God’s glory, their sanctification, and being a faithful servant than meeting their urgent demands.

Not only is it for the other person’s benefit that I don’t always take their phone call or meet their urgent demand, but it is also for my good and God’s glory. I am a human. I am finite. I am not God. I need sleep and nourishment. I have limited time and resources. I need to be faithful to not confuse myself as the Infinite, Limitless One. I need to be faithful to do the mission He has sent me on and not to take over the Kingdom. Faithfulness each day looks different. I need to be faithful with the task I have been given by the Lord. I need to be wise about using Kingdom Resources. I can’t dilly dally or waste time doing what every citizen of the kingdom or of another land wishes me to do. “Non Important – Urgent. Although unimportant, these activities in the guise of urgency conjure up an illusion that they are of value to us. They include interruptions of many kinds: some phone calls, meetings, visitors, requests for information. They can keep us busy for hours meeting other people’s expectations.” (37)

“Jesus did not meet all the human needs he encountered – many urgently desired by family and friends, and by others along his path. But he completed the mission his Father gave him” (Tyranny of the Urgent, 23). If Jesus didn’t meet everyone’s demands or stated needs then why should we think we can? We need to be faithful. They need to encounter a Savior often and not us.