27 February 2010

make up your mind already

Today's weather update from Oxford:


Hev murcy.

"The Lord said,'Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.'
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.
When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave..." 1 Kings 19:9b-13a

25 February 2010

glory of the ordinary

Golly, it's a good day.

Today was that amazing special first day that I didn't wear a coat out. It was a beautiful early-spring-feeling day. Now I'm sitting at my desk, listening to John Mayer, watching the rain outside and smelling it through the open window. It's not a spitting misty rain like normal in Oxford, but a strong, cleansing rain. Tonight I get to work in the Ebbe's kitchen with some of my favorite people. Somewhere in there, I'll write an economics essay, but that's okay. I might even bake some banana bread for our breakfast-and-prayer tomorrow morning. Oh, and my house is clean and my laundry is clean and there are yellow tulips spreading sunshine in my living room.

Life is broken, but seriously, it is also beautiful.

And in this daily beauty, this constant provision, the joy of labor, the glory of the ordinary, I worship my God. For it is daily that I meet with him, see his face, receive his provision, and treasure the way that his beauty overflows into the things that he makes, even the smallest of things.

"You heavens above, rain down righteousness;
     let the clouds shower it down.
Let the earth open wide, let salvation spring up,
     let righteousness grow with it;
I, the Lord, have created it." Isaiah 45:8

21 February 2010

what fits us for service

Rereading my journal always makes me so aware of my brokenness. My inability, my pettiness, my confusion, my weakness, my humility. But the writer of Hebrews has important words for me:

"The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!" Hebrews 9:13-14

It is not I who make myself good; it is Christ who fits me for service, for servitude, for sonship to the living God.

Elisabeth Elliot wrote, "Is there any Christian who does not long for some special experience, vision, or feeling of the presence of God? This morning it seemed to me that unless I could claim such I was merely going through motions of prayer, meditation, reading; that the book I am writing on discipline will prove to be nothing but vanity and a striving after wind. The Lord brought yesterday's word to mind again with this emphasis: it is not any experience, no matter how exciting, not any vision, however vivid and dazzling, not any feeling, be it ever so deep that fits me for service. It is the power of the blood of Christ. I am "made holy by the single unique offering of the body of Jesus Christ" (Heb 10:10), and by his blood "fit for the service of the living God." My spiritual numbness cannot cancel that--the blood will never lose its power."

This is so heartening, so emboldening, so vitalizing. It is Christ's sure and powerful redemption that fits us for service. We are inadequate, but he makes us adequate; we are broken, but he makes us strong; we are flawed, but he makes us right. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

And so I dearly hope this for you, my brothers and sisters, with great joy and expectation:

"May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen." Hebrews 13:20-21

20 February 2010

beautiful people, beautiful places

I have cherished having Kelly and Kaitlin and Lucy here this week. We rambled all over Oxford on Thursday, despite the pouring English rain. First I took them up in the tower of the University Church of St. Mary because it is AWESOME. Here's Luce with the iconic Rad Cam behind her:

Isn't she beautiful? Here are the girls in the quad of All Souls' College:

And then I took them to G&D's, the best ice cream cafe in the history of the world:

Lucy came to small group bible study at my church, St. Ebbe's, with me Thursday night. It was precious for her to get to meet those girls that I love so much and that have been such an encouragement to me.

She also came with me to formal hall Friday night, and this is us hanging out in the JCR afterwards:

This is fifth week, the week traditionally known for "fifth-week blues." But I had the best fifth week imaginable. Sweet friends rock my world.

"Keep on loving each other as brothers." Hebrews 13:1

17 February 2010

the whole earth reverberates the story

Lucy and I lived life together yesterday. Good times.

Flowers are starting to bloom already in University Parks, which I can't believe! It's the middle of February! Spring always used to be my least favorite season, but I now love it like a normal human being. There is so much spiritual symbolism in spring. I was overwhelmingly reminded yesterday of the significance of spring in the Chronicles: when spring finally begins to shatter winter in Narnia, it's because Aslan has returned. It's a reminder that though he had gone away, and some people had given up hope that he would ever return, he comes back, and joy and life for the whole world comes with him. As always, Aslan is only a dim reflection of Jesus, who is no longer here walking on earth with us as a human. But when I see the snowdrops pushing up through the wet dirt, I remember him. And it makes me ache for him. I miss him, I miss his physical presence, in a weird and unexplainable way; how do you miss something you never had? But I can't wait until he comes to live with us again.

"Let us acknowledge the LORD;
let us press on to acknowledge him.
As surely as the sun rises,
he will appear;
he will come to us like the winter rains,
like the spring rains that water the earth." Hosea 6:3

"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.'" Revelation 21:1-4

15 February 2010

lucy gets here today!!

And there will be much rejoicing in Oxford.

"Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of one's friend springs from his earnest counsel." Proverbs 27:9

08 February 2010

when he shakes his mane

Melody shared this with me. Best PostSecret I've seen in a long time.

"My lover spoke and said to me,
"Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, and come with me.
See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone.
Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come..."
Song of Solomon 2:10-12a

" Let us acknowledge the LORD; let us press on to acknowledge him.
As surely as the sun rises, he will appear;
he will come to us like the winter rains,
like the spring rains that water the earth."
Hosea 6:3

04 February 2010

celebrity lookalike

Doppleganger week from a non-facebooker:

Myself as the talented, beautiful, and famous Katherine Ebling.

Oh, and for any of you who haven't looked up the meaning of doppleganger, stick it into Wikipedia. It sounds so jolly, but it's really sinister.

"And your fame spread among the nations on account of your beauty..." Ezekiel 16:14

03 February 2010

good labor

I have a new job. A cafe in Oxford.

There are kind people there.
I'm learning how to make great coffee.
I get to welcome, serve, and nourish people.
All with joy.

How much better does it get?

"I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil— this is the gift of God." Ecclesiastes 3:12-13

01 February 2010

come and listen

Come and listen.
Come and listen to what he's done.

Let me tell you what he has done for me.
Let me tell you what he has done for me,
          he has done for you,
                    he has done for us.

Praise our God, for he is good.

Let me tell you what he has done for me: he has given me life abundant, rich, beautiful in its very normality, a life of loving people, reading books, singing, writing papers, drinking tea, rowing it up, telling stories, riding my bike, taking photos, watching our flowers bloom, listening to music, talking to friends, learning from smart people, eating apples, taking communion.

Not only am I studying at one of the top academic institutions in the world, but also I have gained intimate knowledge of another world besides my own, and have received the broadening of mind that comes with such knowledge. I am growing roots in a church that nurtures and challenges me and wants to help me serve God better. I have new friends here who pray with dedication, who have wicked piano skills, who want to rescue child soldiers, who can cook like crazy, who are passionate about Japan, who are going to make films that change hearts, who listen intently, who are brilliant scientists, who are persistant in love.

And as if that all weren't enough, he has done even more for me:

          When I gave more than I thought I could give financially,
          he provided me with more.

          He is in time growing me into maturity, teaching me how to
          release childish ways.

          He has given me a natural inclination for mercy and gentleness,
          but as I grow up, he is working on the many many things I lack,
          things like courage and self-control and discernment and purity,
          bringing me into all the fullness of the perfection of Christ.

And finally and greatest, he has loved me. He has laid aside his divinity to come live with me and love me. He has forgiven me everything that is wrong with me and is healing everything that is broken in me. He has given me you and you me. He has given me himself. But he has done this not just for me. He has done this for you. He has done this for us.

For all these things and more I praise the one who has loved us.

"Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done. Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts. Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always. Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced... Sing to the Lord, all the earth; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples... Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever." 1 Chronicles 16:1-12, 23-24, 34