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Link Love

July 28, 2014

I’m moving today, so this might be the only post you get this week. We’ll see.

This lecture from Ryan Anderson is worth a listen. He counters same-sex arguments with a philosophical bent.

This mother is hiking the Appalachian trail with her four year old twins. Love it.

This self-identified “failed” pastor is ministering out of his weakness, and it’s a beautiful thing.

This is the best dating advice I’ve seen anywhere.

This makes my heart sing.

This short video is worth a watch, especially if you resonated with my recent article on singles in ministry.

Men of Mission from AIM On-Field Media on Vimeo.

Touched

July 16, 2014

I speak in the language of touch and I hear best when words, any words, are accompanied by a hand on my shoulder, arm against arm, or heads close together. I do not know why this is the language I speak best and I understand less why this is the language I receive best. It is not the language of the suburbs and I feel that acutely here. I take my hugs whenever I can. I give them because I want you to know that I love you, but I also want to feel that you could love me too.

Cards, gifts, time spent talking or a surprise task finished, these bless me, but I quickly forget. Like all the times I’ve tried to learn Spanish. Whole semesters of conjugations and tutors and rote memorization and my grasp is still medial, at best. It is not my language and it does not come naturally to me. It does not even come unnaturally to me. It dances circles around me, taunting me with the secrecy of its word-speak.

A hand on the top of my head, a thumb rubbed into my weary shoulders, and my ache for love subsides. This may seem hyperbolic to you, and perhaps it is, but we are speaking different languages, that’s all.

I want to love well. I do. But I also want to be loved well.

There is a part of me that would like to believe that the creator of the universe, the one who designed love and is love, that he would be beyond the need for our earth-encrusted affection and dirt-laden offerings, but it was he who pled before his father “Take this cup from me” and earlier finding his brothers asleep on their watch, “Could you not wait with me? Keep with me?”

I wonder if that perfect Christ, the sinless man, the creator in flesh, if he felt in that moment of abandonment, his utter humanness.

I wonder if it is in our need for love that we are most human. Here, with our knotted muscles, tired from the work of life, we know our need.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Good hugging runs in my family. At a family celebration recently I hugged a stranger, she backed right up and said, “You hug just like your mother.” My mother has many great qualities, but of all the ones I’d be happy to inherit, good hugging is at the top.

A friend hugged me a few weeks back, he pulled my head against his chest and I felt shepherded and shielded—a rare feeling. Another friend hugged me that night, her arms tight around my neck, and a quick, choked goodbye was all I could manage. This morning I bought a wooden desk off of Craigslist for thirty dollars. I didn’t have a twenty and a ten though, so she kept the change, ten dollars, and hugged me tight, tighter than a stranger should and I left.

I heard John Piper once talk about praying God would make him a good hugger and I wept right then. The ministry of a hug has meant more than any word ever said to or about me.

The importance of a pastoral hug cannot be overlooked. “Leaving room for the Holy Spirit,” the “12 inch rule,” and “side-hugs,” can be moralistic rules put in place to avoid sin or the appearance of sin—but in our effort to put up boundaries, we’ve taken away the simple healing action of appropriate touch.

Some people have only ever known inappropriate touch—sexual, abusive, or unwanted. Some have never known any touch at all. But healthy touch is God’s design and a perversion of it within the church and in the world is not reason to avoid it. Some will need to be taught the healthy way to interact with members of the opposite gender, but all people need hugs. Good, healthy, pastoral hugs.

Maybe some ought to check their motives before embracing, maybe some ought to refrain from hugging the opposite gender for a season, but if your motives are pure, your care is honest, and your surroundings are appropriate, then hug. Especially if you are in a pastoral role, hug your people.

Logos Giveaway

July 10, 2014

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Logos Bible Software has teamed up with some bloggers to give away some of great resources. This month they’ve asked us to help give away Zondervan’s seven volume Theology Collection. Enter below.

The winner will be chosen at random on August 1st and the collection will be sent to the winner’s Logos account. Don’t have an account? No problem! You can sign up for free here and download free apps to read your books on any device here.

How to Enter

Login below with your email address or Facebook account and follow the steps in the widget. That’s it! Each prompted action you follow will earn you additional entries. You can always come back and share a link to the giveaway with your friends for additional entries.

*Disclaimer

By entering this giveaway you consent to being signed up to Logos’ “Product Reviews” email list. You’ll receive emails featuring content on Logos written by Christian bloggers (including me).

Jubilee

June 19, 2014

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I was 13 when I knew I would be a writer even though definitions of verbs and adverbs and gerunds were still a bit hazy in my mind, not to mention my atrocious spelling. I came of age in the coming of age of spell-check which ruined it for us all. No idea how to spell anxious or brevity or volatile or naive? No problem. I wonder what will become of us now that most digital devices anticipate our words before we can spell out even their first few letters. We are already less than literate, now will we be less than half?

I’m no opponent of modernity, nor am I antagonistic to those who spend their resources grabbing up every new resource as it comes. I am writing this on a 15inch MacBook Pro, on which I spent more to get the anti-glare screen and super impressive pixel ratio. I wake up every morning to the alarm on my iPhone which gets me to work on time so I can learn and earn more so I can buy gadgets such as these. Praise God for GPS without which I’ll bet cities wouldn’t grow so fast so quickly.

Stepping back from the whole of it, though, the writing, the spell-check, the convenience, the anti-glare screen, (everything except the alarm), causes a kind of built-in pause, as it is meant to, and this morning I think about the year of jubilee.

Rightly understanding the law’s place is one of the gospel’s great benefits, but sometimes I lament that He who set us free indeed didn’t keep a few of the more beneficial laws around for good measure. The Year of Jubilee would be one I’d have kept because I’m very bad at resting and my guess is you are too. Because we can do everything faster, better, and more efficiently, we can do more and more and more until we’ve lost sight of why we’re doing it at all.

What are we doing anyway?

There’s much talk of obscurity and the normal and going about our business, minding it in light of the Gospel and little else, and this resonates deep in me. But I wonder sometimes if the reason we have this conversation at all is because minding other people’s business is so tres chic these days. “All up in your bizniss” in the street lingo. Sharing it all brings this strange delight, a false sense of togetherness and a true sense of coolness.

I used to think the word community was derived from common and unity, or together and altogether. But it’s not. Com: together and Munus: gift.

Gift, together.

In the Year of Jubilee, God’s people would return to their own land, and return the land they’d inhabited to its original owners. They would set free captives and slaves and servants. They would forgive debts. They would celebrate all year long the gift of God to them. They would community: gift, together. A long year of gifting.

When I set myself down and rest my mind and eyes and ears from all that which threatens to steal my joy, I think it’s the stuff of it all that steals it most quickly. Instead of feeling gifted to by what modernity has brought, I feel stolen from. It steals my time and my energy, my opinion and my coolness. Apart from all that I do or have, I am not cool after all.

But it turns out things don’t steal my joy, my need for them does

What is beautiful about Sabbath and Jubilee and rest, is when I’m set apart from what I do or have, I am nothing—and nothing is what I bring to the cross. Nothing enables me to gift everything and come, trembling and grateful, empty-handed, atrocious spelling, without GPS or alarm, come. Quiet and aware. Stilled and stayed. Comforted by nothing but His grace and love toward me.

c2261c8246316ed0dfea405f565551e8A few weeks ago I tweeted, “In my home we don’t shout. This is our home & the rules are No Shouting. If you want to shout, you can, but not in my home.” It was said in reference (and perhaps defense) of blogs which do not have open comments. I removed comments two years ago and have only looked back wistfully a time or two. All it takes is a quick glance at some other blogs with similar content, though, for me to remember it was the right decision for me.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

I think of Sayable in much the same way as I think of my home. My home has four outside walls, keeping out the wind and elements, a front door which is often open to passers-by, and often closed to afford us some time home as a family. In our home we do not yell at one another and if there is some disagreement it is talked out in quiet, gracious voices. There have been occasions where words have been flung carelessly and trust has been broken, but that is not the modus operandi of our home. That is not the norm.

I grew up in a home with a good amount of yelling. Excuses for it were common, as well as prefaces or follow-ups. What I learned early on is there are levels of yelling, there is also tone of voice, there is not enough coffee, too much Irish in our bloodline, and too short a fuse. I learned yelling was the expected response and apologies came later, if at all. And I learned, most of all, that what is yelling to me, was not the universal decibel level of yelling.

Everyone has their own barometer of what constitutes yelling and when it is appropriate. 

Because I’m a sinner and we’re not in the new earth yet, I still find myself sensitive to the tones of voices around me, to how words are phrased and flung, and what excuses are given for anger. I am rarely offended, but if you yell at me, I’ll be looking for the nearest closet. Fear of man is alive and well in this soul on this issue.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

What does this have to do with blog comments? In our day to day life, we’re face to face, tone of voice is heard, body language is seen. On the web, though, and social media, we are left without those necessary cues. If a person uses coarse or aggressive language in a post/comment, and defends their words with, “I just want to have a conversation,” they should understand words that sound conversational to them may sound abusive to someone else. And likewise, someone like me who feels any slight pushback is a personal affront to my character, my spirituality, my soul, and my personhood needs to take a step back and assume a charitable posture.

The longer it’s been since I lived in a home with yelling, the more I realize yelling or raising your voice in anger is not functional, not ever. If you are a parent, there is no excuse for yelling at your child. Ever. If you are a child, there is no excuse for yelling at your parent. Ever. If you are a friend, you should never yell at another friend. And the same goes for blog and blog comments. If you find yourself typing furiously using a tone of voice in your head that you reserve for moments of anger, frustration, or even defensiveness, stop typing and step away.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

I got spanked more than any child in my home, sometimes multiple times a day (mostly for being the resident smart-aleck), so many times that I have no recollection of any time save one when I was about nine or ten. I had disobeyed one of my parents after them repeated telling me to stop, they were getting angry and I could see it. Just one last time I pushed the envelope and it sent them over the edge. But, for the only time I can remember, they looked right at me, took a deep breath, told me they were going to spank me, but needed to go calm down first. In those twenty minutes of waiting for the coming walloping, I had a few minutes to think about my actions and my disobedience, and they had a few minutes to calm down. I’ll never forget that spanking. It may have the first time I was actually repentant before they put me over their knee.

It is never in our favor to dash off responses, use the internet equivalent of raising our voices, or react in anger. And, which is more, it is never in the favor of anyone else. It is not loving or long-suffering, kind or hopeful.

Questions for personal consideration: What is your tone online? What are you known for? Do those who may disagree with you find you approachable and generous? Are you aware that what is simply aggressive conversation to you may be abusive to someone else?

You fancy yourself a prophet, a priest, or a king, but the Bible says you are all three, not just one.

Prophet, you ride high, calling the world to repentance. Priests, you lay low, taking confessions like coins. Kings, you rule lofty, making decrees with your mind and hands. But the Bible says you are all three, so will you be?

Will you be the prophet who points the ever-loving way to the Lord, never exposing sin to ridicule, tear down, or bully. But to peel away the layers of grave-clothes, the years of sin and shame, exposing deadened flesh to the hand of a skilled surgeon?

And will you be the priest, who takes and handles confessions dearly as the costly thing they are? Not as one who publishes pages of confessions on the street corners for all the callers and peddlers to market. But as one who covers the confessor and the broken with the manifold grace of a Living God?

And will you be the king who rules with gentleness, graciousness, and weight? Who disciplines his fellow kings and receives discipline in the same way? A king who does not put himself above others in the kingdom, but who lays his life down for his friends?

Some rule with a heavy and hidden hand. Some nail confessions to the doors of their churches, stoning the sinners and the saints all the same. Some cry out in the wilderness to prepare ye the way of the Lord.

But I want to be like Mary, pouring everything dear on the worship of One who has already come.

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Moving

June 4, 2014

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 presetWhen I first moved to Texas, it was hot. It was 100 degrees the mid-September day I crossed into the metroplex of Dallas-Fort Worth. I was on a mission. The church I knew I’d be calling home was holding a quarterly event we call Group Connect and I knew if I wanted to make this place home, I’d need a group.

I drove ten hours that day and got there late, didn’t find a group, but talked to a person who put me in touch with Jen Wilkin who taught Women’s Bible Study. I only wanted to know one thing: is this the kind of women’s bible study where weepy women cry and complain and take prayer requests that sound like gossip? I was assured it wasn’t and so I went.

And God, that hidden man, the monster of my heart, the one I feared, at times hated, and rarely trusted, split the veil in two. This temple, for the first time maybe ever, knew what it was like to approach the throne with confidence, to be full of the Holy Spirit, to cease sacrificing the lamb of self and to trust Him. I was home.

It was a new kind of home for me, the vagabond pilgrim. I’ve always been the girl who moved a lot. Comfortable with risk and averse to complacency, I’ll nomad my way through life if it means more treasure in heaven and less on earth. But this kind of home, in Christ, in the gospel, it was new and different. It fit. I never liked Texas, but I was home. Inside the doors of my church I found a people who became my family.

This past week my pastor had a few of us stand during Elder Led Prayer (a once a month prayer meeting at my church, mostly attended by covenant members and staff) and receive prayer. I didn’t see all those who had hands on me, but I felt them. I felt the hands of my family and the prayers of the saints. I left that night and felt so full and so at home.

But, dear reader, all has not been right in this temple-home of mine. Some of you know all the details, some of you have suspected, some of you guessed, but this year has been hard. Hard in hard ways. Ways that make me wonder daily what I’m doing wrong, or what God is doing right.

I have known since I moved here that Texas wasn’t the long-term plan. I moved here with the intention of staying six months. Six months has turned into four years and they have been four good years. But it has become increasingly clear to me that my heart is back in the northeast, that my soul yearns for four seasons, for the darkness of winter, the light of spring, the death of fall, and the life of summer. Even more than that, my heart yearns for the people of the north. I love those people. I love their wild eclecticness, their independence, their fierce can-do-itiveness. I love their ideas and philosophies. I love how hard they are, and how soft, how welcoming and how hard to win they are. I can’t get the northeast out of my blood, out of my soul. I get them because I am part of them.

When I moved here four years ago it was a fluke. Texas was nowhere on my list or mind. A certain mid-sized city in New York was my aim and then one day I knew it wasn’t, couldn’t be. I have never regretted that decision. He brought beauty out of the ashes. He taught the pilgrim how to pilgrimage.

Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of Baka (Valley of Weeping),
they make it a place of springs;
the autumn rains also cover it with pools.
They go from strength to strength,
till each appears before God in Zion.

That was the verse God gave me to meditate on before I moved to Texas and I have seen how he has taken my weeping and turned it to joy, a dry land and made it bear fruit. He has given me strength after strength, given me men and women who have pushed on those strengths and called me to deeper and stronger places. Everything he has done with the gifts he has given me, has surprised me. He has shown me his character in a fullness I never knew possible, he has put a new song in my heart, a song of praise to our God. That is a blessing I know I will never understand fully. All I can do is be grateful.

And I am.

And yet I am leaving, heading back up to the northeast, to the people who I love with my whole heart, to lilacs, rivers, lakes, and mountains, small churches with great needs, to gospel-dry places with gospel-rich people.

Will I be home there? I don’t know. But I know for sure He is at home in me.

To End

May 30, 2014

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It’s been a month.

In the beginning I asked God to press the burning coal to my mouth and now I know that He has never stopped. A friend asked today what I’ve learned this month and I wasn’t sure how to answer her except this: what have I lost?

If I never write another word, has 13 years of writing been good enough?

If I never think another cohesive thought, am I grateful for the singular thought that He thinks of me?

If I am never read by many, have I proclaimed truth as best to the few?

And if I am never read by the small tens and twelves of a decade ago, have I been gentle and careful to the masses?

This month has not accomplished much in me except this, I hold no light but the light which he puts in my hands. I create no light, but am only the steward of it. Nothing is of me, born in me, birthed from me, that did not originate in Him and with Him. And if I think any different, I am a bigger fool than anyone.

Writing is work, from the first word to the last, but the gospel is not. Sanctification is. Sanctification is work from the moment we roll our sleeves up our newly saved arms to the time dust to dust is tossed over our shallow grave. Life is fleeting and short and is full of the difficult work of the day. At night we go to bed weary and if we do not, we are not obeying the first commandment: to be fruitful and multiply, to take dominion and subdue. Subduing is tiring work and what is writing if not lassoing the words into submission, corralling them into coherent sentences and stories? It is work I tell you.

To those who think the words comes easily, swift off my mind and into the pages, I remind you it is the easy words we ought to fear most. The difficult, painful words, these are the ones we ought to heed and hear because sweat has spilled for them. The words groaning in gestation, brought forth in a bloody birth. Those are the words of eternal life and those words are not to be found on any blog, in any article, or book, or from a podium or podcast.

I have thought much of Simon Peter during this writing sabbath. Peter with the gift of speak, words persuasive and foolish, loyal and rebellious, anxious and placid. I know Peter as well as I know my own mind—a paradox of faith and doubt, fear and hope. “To whom else would we go,” Peter said, “You have the words of eternal life.”

Last night’s dinner was rained out. The tables were set, one long row of them, a banqueting spread, the plates and napkins and tulips in their spring array. We stood there, palms up, eyes up, willing to sky to close, the grey to leave, but it didn’t. We moved everything indoors—set that banqueting table through the whole of our living space.

And the rains came down.

Friends arrived, wet and laughing, because what is there to do but laugh when you have gotten caught in the downpour that almost wasn’t? We lit candles and passed dishes, drank wine out of clear plastic cups, and feasted on lamb and pork tenderloin—because although we are in the new covenant, we never forget the old.

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After dinner worship, twenty-five people, most transplants from elsewhere, some strangers, all sinners and saints, we sang and some wept. And then confession. The right of the gospel is confession, one to another, and oh how often we forget that holy act of worship. Strangers confessed doubt, fear, weariness, rejoiced in a hope that does not disappoint, and then became friends.

The cross saves us, the resurrection raises us though, and oh how we need to be raised. We who are sown in weakness, need so badly to be raised in power; sown perishable, need to be raised imperishable; sown natural, raised spiritual—we need the resurrection not only as proof of Christ, but proof of us too.

A friend stays late and we talk on the couch about the truths of the gospel, how frail we feel and how good He is. We who are wasting away, we cannot lose heart, because day by day by every blessed day we are drawing nearer to that final resurrection. Saturday feels like an eternity sometimes, a whole lifetime of Saturdays, waiting for resurrection.

But Sunday is coming.

Preaching to Yourself

April 12, 2014

“Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take those thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated them but they are talking to you, they bring back the problems of yesterday, etc. Somebody is talking. Who is talking to you? Your self is talking to you. Now this man’s treatment [in Psalm 42] was this: instead of allowing this self to talk to him, he starts talking to himself. “Why art thou cast down, O my soul?” he asks. His soul had been depressing him, crushing him. So he stands up and says, “Self, listen for a moment, I will speak to you.”

“The main art in the matter of spiritual living is to know how to handle yourself. You have to take yourself in hand, you have to address yourself, preach to yourself, question yourself. . . You must turn on yourself, upbraid yourself, condemn yourself, exhort yourself, and say to yourself: “Hope you in God”—instead of muttering in this depressed, unhappy way, and then you must go on to remind yourself of God, Who God is, and . . . what God has done, and what God has pledged Himself to do, then having done that, end on this great note: defy yourself, and defy other people, and defy the devil and the whole world, and say with this man: “I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance, who is also the health of my countenance and my God.

Martin Lloyd Jones as quoted from Spiritual Depression in John Piper’s When I Don’t Desire God

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Made for More

April 7, 2014

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Over a year ago when Hannah Anderson began talking about her work in progress, there was no title, no beginning or end, there was only the whispering ripple of “We need more.” Which is interesting because what Hannah has accomplished in her new book, “Made for More,” is less about more and more about less. It is about stripping away the trappings of stereotypes and unbiblical constructs, tearing down the self-made idols of motherhood and husbandry. Her book is an invitation to live in God’s Image and it sets a fairer table and finer feast than almost any book on gender I have read.

She begins by walking her reader through creation—and not  the creation of man and woman, the imago dei, but the creation of a new believer, that tender sprout of life bursting within. The issues of faith that are wrestled with in tears and pain, and the birth of realization, the a ha! of salvation—these are also the things we wrest with in our souls as we discover who we are at our core. Not what physical attributes we bear or circumstantial constructs the world has given us, but the actual core of us, that deep and profound moment when we, like Adam, say, “At last!”

Sadly the “At last!” happens for fewer and fewer of us, and so Hannah makes it her aim throughout all of Made for More to draw the reader’s eyes back again and again to the beauty of the image of God. It is not a book about biblical womanhood, it is not a book about how to be better, purer, or more of anything but an image bearer of the Most High. It is a book about humans flourishing under the great weight and light burden of God’s design.

This is not a book for women alone, and in fact I hope many men will read this book. Toward that aim, I am giving away three copies of Made for More. If you’d like to receive a copy of Hannah Anderson’s book, enter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Link Love

March 26, 2014 — Leave a comment

Five Essential Benedictine Values for Writers: You have to kill these things that seem so wonderful when you first thought of them or wrote them, but that don’t belong. I have a phrase that I first thought of in 1970, and I am still looking for a place to put it.

Phelps, Driscoll, & Gothard: I’m not trying to silence anyone. I’m not trying to shame anyone. I am trying to consider how our discourse, particularly online, might be helped if we took to heart Solomon’s warning on grabbing passing dogs by the ears and Jesus’ warning about specks and planks. I am hoping it will begin with me.

Nickel Creek’s new album A Dotted Line is available for a limited time streaming on NPR’s First Listen. Give it a listen.

How to Fill Your Life With Joy: I think everybody wants the silver-bullet, the thing that makes sanctification move like a superhighway rather than the dirt path that it is.

All of Christ for All of Life: In Christ, there is grace to get through the stinkin’ day. And whether we do so by the skin of our teeth or bounding and leaping with joy upon joy, our souls are united to him day by day and age to age

 

Kristin is a friend from my church who speaks and does comedy improv for a living. Her dry humor is always a surprise and a delight, and I promise you, she really does practice what she preaches here. Enjoy!

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I own an eight-year-old light blue Toyota Highlander. It’s a reliable car, even if it isn’t a lime green Cube. (My dream car. Don’t judge.)

A few years ago I began leading a home group for high school girls through my church. It was my first time volunteering in a way that required a commitment to investing in the lives of others.

At the beginning of each semester I gave an open ended offer to pick up or drop off anyone needing a ride to or from home group or church. If I’m honest, I offered more out of a strange leader-ish obligation than I did a desire to drive teens around.

Many of the girls already had driver’s licenses and owned cooler cars than mine (though none were cooler than a lime green Cube), but during the first year, as our group grew from six to eight to 12 and finally settled around 20ish young ladies, a week rarely went by that I didn’t pick up or drop someone off.

I have three rules in my car: no country music, please don’t bury yourself in your phone, and if it’s on the floor you may put your feet on it or kick it out of the way. (Keeping my car clean is an uphill battle. Cars are a bit like human hearts. They get messy fast if you don’t consistently purge them of junk. And that’s probably both the deepest and cheesiest thing I’ve ever written.)

I had various expectations and assumptions about how student ministry might go, but I definitely didn’t expect my car to be so instrumental in ministering to teens.

Away from the presence of peers, there was no need to try and say the right thing or impress anyone. There was only the time between point A and point B and silence to fill. Questions were asked, doubts expressed, sins confessed, hurts shared, joys celebrated, and my very ordinary car became an unlikely sanctuary for teenagers needing a moment of vulnerability.

My car is where God reminded me that He’s mighty to save—and curious, narcissistic, goofy, selfish, insecure, shy, rebellious, awkward teenagers are part of His remnant.

After several weeks of driving one young lady home, listening to her struggles and answering her questions as best I could, I got to see the burden of the world lift from her shoulders as she realized Jesus wasn’t just a man in a story, but her personal Savior.

My car is where I learned teenagers are ready for harder theological truths. They need these deeper truths. Desperately. Our culture constantly pumps them full of lies; lies that can’t be fought with books about self-esteem and posters about chasing your dreams. They can be fought only with the transformative power of the Holy Spirit and the freeing power of the gospel.

Lastly, my car is where I realized how much I needed God. I’ve never prayed more desperately for the Holy Spirit to give me wisdom, discernment, and grace than when messy sin got brought to light in my messy car.

Last year my high school students graduated and I defected to middle school ministry, where I currently lead a pack of wonderfully precocious 6th grade girls.

Eleven year olds, however, are much, much (insert infinity much’s) different than 11th graders, and the car conversations have taken on a new dynamic. Sometimes we talk about favorite foods. Sometimes it’s listening to theories about why they think we’ll all ride unicorns in heaven. Sometimes they rebelliously sing country songs or try sneaking my radio to a country music station, which means I have to exercise godly discipline and make them walk the rest of the way home. (We live in the suburbs. It’s safe.)

Someone once told me youth ministry is all about sowing seeds. It often feels like conversations about “little things” aren’t doing anything. But, tending to and caring about the little things (which are often the “big things” to a young girl) yields conversations about deeper truths.

Seeing God bring fruit out of a something as simple as offering a ride home has encouraged my own soul. In moments where I’m tempted to believe that nothing I do makes a difference, I remember that I serve a God who uses ordinary people with ordinary cars to achieve His extraordinary will.

I pray God continues using my car in youth ministry. I also selfishly pray that someday these conversations will take place in a lime green Cube, but I’ve accepted that I may have to wait until heaven to drive my dream car.

Only then I won’t need one because we’ll all be riding unicorns.

Kristin is a writer, speaker, and comic from Dallas. Her first book, “The Smart Girl’s Guide to God, Guys and the Galaxy,” a humorous advice book for teen girls, hits stores in April. She enjoys deep conversations, Chipotle, and deep conversations about Chipotle. You can find her on Twitter @Kristinweb

I listened to Rich Mullins for the whole of seventeen hours on a road trip recently. I drove across the America he loved and wrote about, the America he was driving across when he went home to His God and Friend.

He was a pastor poet and I wept when he died. I was sixteen and knew nothing of death or how it would visit my own home just a few years later. Life seemed invincible for my best friend and me, but that autumn night we wept on the floor of my bedroom while the local radio station played Go Out Like Elijah. We tried to make sense of fiery chariots and Jeep Cherokees, but death doesn’t make sense, and I don’t think it is meant to.

I have had many teachers in my life and I remember them all by name or lesson, but of them all, Rich Mullins has been the constant. He taught me that theology is found in winter wheat and pheasants show us God is on His throne. Rich taught me Jesus is unimpressed with our houses or treasures and faith without works is like a screen door on a submarine.

I forget to preach the gospel to myself often enough—especially in times like the past few weeks when my soul has felt the battering and bruising of life and all its circumstances. But Rich preaches it to me still.

His book An Arrow Pointing to Heaven was as aptly named as any I know. That guy pointed and still points to heaven more than almost anyone I’ve encountered. Sometimes I ask the Lord for a fraction of his mantle, that modern barefooted prophet.

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