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Friday Fruit (06/23/17)

Friday Fruit (06/23/17)

On Fridays, BTSF offers links to other discussions about race & Christianity. It's an opportunity for you to read other perspectives, and for me to give props to the many voices leading the way...Weekly Round...
Season after Pentecost (Proper 7 [12]) : The Epistles Passage – Silly Questions & Serious Answers

Season after Pentecost (Proper 7 [12]) : The Epistles Passage – Silly Questions & Serious Answers

Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound?” (Romans 6:1b) The writer of Romans (Paul) asks an absurd question to make a point. “By no means! How can we who died to sin go on living in it?” (Verse 2) And answers it by saying “me genioto” which in the ancient Greek means “by no means!” I can still hear my Greek from seminary saying that with special emphasis. Paul has a habit of asking absurd questions, like this one to make a point – should we sin in order to know and get more grace? And answers it with another question asking how can we who have sworn to live a good Christian life deliberately do that which we know is sin! (Picture your favorite image of Paul being horrified!) [...] […]
Peace Treaty Signed in Milk Soup

Peace Treaty Signed in Milk Soup

On this Father’s Day I remember and honour my father. He was a simple peasant on what today might be not much more than a hobby farm yet with that piece of land he was able to feed six children and provide endless adventures—greater than any theme park! I remember that there were occasional unclarified […]
One Pastor’s Story of Recovery from Depression and Anxiety

One Pastor’s Story of Recovery from Depression and Anxiety

Although May as Mental Health Awareness Month is now over, the impact of mental illness on life and ministry continues, so today I’m sharing another mental health story on video followed by an interview. Is it possible to survive and thrive after burnout? How do you have a panic attack and still keep your job?…
Unseen Logic: A Rambling Testimony

Unseen Logic: A Rambling Testimony

Several years ago, my life group decided to each pick a one word theme for our year instead of a list of New Year's resolutions. Never having been someone to make New Year’s resolutions, I liked the idea of keeping it simple.
I can’t remember what my word was last year. Or the year before. But this year’s word has actually been a concept I’ve returned to repeatedly in the last several months. The word is “unseen” since I wanted to remind myself of the reality of the unseen spiritual world with its counterintuitive principles.
I don't know if “unseen” is the best word for what I'm getting at. My Sunday School teacher uses the phrase “in God’s economy” frequently to refer to this inhuman logic; Jesus seemed to like the description “such is the kingdom of heaven”. Perhaps some would just call it “living by faith”.
As much as I want to rely on reason and facts, I find that God doesn't always work that way.
My church and life group have been going through some of the basics of apologetics over the last several weeks, but repeatedly my life group concludes, “You cannot convince anyone to become a Christian through logic. It takes faith.” We celebrate the craziness of Christianity --that God cannot be tamed or confined to our limited brains.
It reminds one of Jesus telling his disciples that they needed the faith of a child or letting them know that searching for God was the “narrow way” or like “going through the eye of a needle”.
Unseen Logic #1: Prayer is powerful.
When I chose the word “unseen”, I was specifically thinking about prayer --and my tendency not to treat it as valuable. Sure, I claim it is important, but the time I spend praying doesn’t reflect that. (Think Peretti’s This Present Darkness).
I’ve been attempting to write a novella. When I spend time working on the novella, it's tempting to view increasing my word count as progress, but instead I’ve been prompted to focus on prayer.
Human logic says that actually typing out words gets it accomplished. The Logic of the Unseen says prayer accomplishes more. If I write without the power of God then I am only a “sounding gong” or a “clanging cymbal” (to take that metaphor out of context).
Unseen Logic #2: The Spirit lives in me.
While I generally think of myself as a fairly confident person, I’ve been struggling with a lot of self-loathing lately. At one point, I caught myself again thinking negative thoughts, but I was so fed up with them that I verbally burst out “I rebuke you, Satan! Get out of my mind”. Now, that is generally not how I pray, nor did I consciously think, “I need to rebuke Satan.” However, I think that I reacted because the Spirit of Christ lives in me.
It is often easy to recognize the Spirit working in my life in hindsight, but in the present, it is often difficult to determine if I'm listening to the “still, small voice” or my own desires.
I've felt led to write a novella as my fictional testimony of God's goodness in singleness. I believe God wants me to write it and has given me a burden for singles. Yet, at the same time it feels incredibly presumptuous to say “God told me to do this", and I find myself questioning myself constantly: “I don't have the time, discipline, or ability. I'm an innocent little Mennonite girl whose life few could relate to.”
And yet, I have this nagging feeling it is what I”m supposed to do --even if the only person who benefits from the story is me.
Jesus lives in me. He works through me. It's exciting to see Him touch other people's lives through my actions, words and prayers. But too often I doubt that He wants to use me, and, thus, I miss out.
Unseen Logic #3: His strength is weakness.
I’ve been traveling a lot. Some may love being busy. I do not.
Having come up with a theory last year that busyness and stress should not necessarily be times to avoid busyness and stress, but rather opportunities to see God work, I frequently prayed that God would show up. Instead, God sent even more stress and more people to help.
I was accusing God that He hadn’t come through the way I’d expected. “I’m tired of being strong.” I complained.
“That’s the point.” God told me. "Busyness shouldn't be about successful accomplishments, but rather recognition of your frailty, humanity and need." It doesn't quite feel right to rejoice in failure, to be thankful for not being perfect, yet faith recognizes that success sometimes looks like human weakness. The Unseen I'm learning that living by faith often could be described as "acting crazy". Why celebrate a God who dies? Why continue to trust God when a baby has a fatal illness? Why leave the comforts of home to travel to a new place? Faith is crazy. It's uncomfortable and illogical. But the more I experience instead of evaluate --the more I pursue God instead of human priorities-- the more I long for the reality and meaning of faith.
NOTE: I often post several months after I've written the blog post --hence, the time discrepancies.
"For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but it is God’s power to us who are being saved. For it is written: 'I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and I will set aside the understanding of the experts.'
 
Where is the philosopher? Where is the scholar? Where is the debater of this age? Hasn’t God made the world’s wisdom foolish? For since, in God’s wisdom, the world did not know God through wisdom, God was pleased to save those who believe through the foolishness of the message preached.  For the Jews ask for signs and the Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles. Yet to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is God’s power and God’s wisdom, because God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength." --1 Corinthians 1:18-25
 
How It Has Always Been

How It Has Always Been

Summer hit our house like a freight train when the kids got off the bus last Friday at 1:15.  It's all good, but intense.  I'm still writing, but with preaching this Sunday and preparing for next week's (!) writing retreat, I didn't get my usual post out on Monday.  In lieu of anything new, I'm sharing this poem that first arrived in June 2014. Enjoy! Also, scroll down for a preview of some of the paintings I've been working on this spring.  How It Has Always Been
The vicar general, shying away from ‘paganism’ hangs back and sits under a tree reading the guidebook.  I am able to approach the Buddhas barefoot and undisturbed, my feet in wet grass, wet sand. – Thomas Merton describing his visit to the sleeping Budhas in "The Asian Journal"
My son comes walking to me, barefoot,
across the wet summer grass. The morning light lays soft around him
and in that moment I see how it is,
how every child is a contemplative,
exposed in every way to the Now.
“This is what you must become,” Jesus whispers
and I see now how it has always been, God
and his children, barefoot, the morning grass
cool and wet beneath their feet.
* I stopped by Infinity Graphics today to get some prints of recent paintings. These bright beauties (the picture is a little dark) will soon be available to purchase as small wooden block paintings. Stay tuned.

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