Monday, April 27, 2009

All I Want to Know is Christ

I had the pleasure of visiting Kalyn and Hannah at Taylor University. I was even blessed enough to get to go to chapel with them. The speaker was a man from Scotland.

I can’t remember his credentials. I don’t remember the title of his address. I can’t tell you all of the key points that he made. BUT, I can tell you one thing that I heard that just rocked my socks.

It is a passage of scripture that I have read countless times, memorized, and taught from. Today I heard the same verses in a different version (Good News Bible) and I was blown away.

Philippians 3:10

“All I want to know is Christ…”

Did you catch what that is saying?! Did you hear what Paul is proclaiming?! Do you see the stand that he is taking?! ALL HE WANTS TO KNOW IS CHRIST! I can’t wrap my mind around it!

The version I have always read and studied is from the New International Version: “I want to know Christ…” Can you see how this different version puts a new perspective on things?

“All I want to know is Christ” is a powerful proclamation. And I don’t know if I could proclaim that. I mean, I could. I can say it right now in the middle of Starbucks (grande vanilla latte). I could tell people as I see them, “Hey, all I want to know is Christ.” I would probably get some crazy looks. I might get an “amen” or “go for it” or “good luck with that.” But to proclaim that all I want to know is Christ is something completely different.

I’m teaching about the American Revolution right now with my 5th graders. We are talking about the proclamations were made then: “Give me liberty or give me death!” “Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes!” These were not said in simple passing. These were not merely spoken just to be said. These were proclaimed and the people that said these things lived it out.

To proclaim “All I want to know is Christ” is more than just opening our mouths and speaking words. It is a life. It is a daily choice. It is a denial of one’s self. It is complete surrender of all control. It is humility.

I want to know a lot of things. But if I don’t want to know Christ, first and foremost, what good is wanting to know the lots of other things?


“But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.” (2 Tim 1:8b)

I’m reading 2 Timothy and was hit hard with this verse. So many questions came to mind.

What does it mean to suffer for the gospel?

Is this suffering the same for everyone?

Am I suffering for the gospel?

What do I need to do to suffer for the gospel?

I wrestled with this verse. Some days I feel as if I go through the day with no NEED for Jesus. I am in complete control of every aspect of my day: my travel, my job, my time with people – everything. Then I read this verse and realize that I am called to suffer for the gospel! How do I do that when I’m not even sure what it means?! Like today, what have I done that has caused me to suffer for the gospel of Jesus? Or what will I do for that matter?

I asked some of my peeps what on earth Paul meant by this verse. Basically it is literal suffering and hardships. Let’s look at the ministry that Jesus lived on this earth. He was homeless. He hung out with the “wrong crowd.” He was questioned constantly. He was tempted. He was beaten. He was nailed to a cross. He suffered.

Look at the life of the disciples. They left everything that was familiar to them to follow Jesus. They were questioned, ridiculed, shunned, and (several of them) martyred. That is literal suffering and hardships.

The crazy part of this is that they CHOSE this life! Jesus, his disciples, Moses, Abraham, Paul, John, the list goes on – they all suffered (literally) for the gospel. They heard the call of God and CHOSE to follow it. They relied on God to get them through and had their hope in Jesus. Nothing that they went through was too much, because it was all for the glory of the Lord. It was all to give testimony to the work that God was doing.

So, I go back to the earlier questions:

What does it mean to suffer for the gospel? From what I have read and heard, it means hardship. It means putting me out there for Jesus. It means struggling…literally.

Is this suffering the same for everyone? Absolutely not. However, we can share our sufferings in that they are for Jesus. We can listen, learn, console, and encourage one another in our sufferings.

Am I suffering for the gospel? I would have to say that I’m not sure. Sometimes I’m just sure I am. But, my life is not a life of hardship or suffering. Today, I feel as though I am just because of the wrestling in my heart to learn what it means to suffer.

What do I need to do to suffer for the gospel? I need to live beyond myself. I need to step out in faith MORE! I need to put myself in uncomfortable places and circumstances. I need to stand up for Jesus more than I do. I need to rely on God and the truth that HE has his best for me.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

God Loving Ordinary Women

Just a quick note:

I am part of a women's ministry at church called GLOW (God Loving Ordinary Women). There is a link to our blog on the side. Just wanted to let you all know. There are six of us who post on there. We all come from different backgrounds with one common purpose - to spread the love of Jesus.

I just wanted to let you all know.

Much love, Dina

Monday, April 20, 2009

A Great Day

Today was a great day! I woke up tired (see previous post noting time it was posted). I think I got about 5 hours of sleep. But, right as I remember falling asleep, I prayed that God would let the little amount of rest be enough to get me through the day. HE did! I love my God!

Nothing super significant happened today, it was just a good day. First off, I got to spend the day teaching...AND I LOVE MY JOB! I know so many people who do not have joy at their place of work. I can honestly say that I love my job. I look forward to each new day. I wonder what it will bring. And I genuinely enjoy my students. They are some of the coolest 10 and 11 year olds that I know.

So, what made today so great...Well we started a unit on the American Revoluntion in Social Studies. We are doing some things different and the kids were overall excited. This is one of my most favorite parts of US History. Also, we started our Poetry unit in Writing. I love teaching poetry to kids. This is my 3rd year teaching poetry and it amazes me what comes out of kids. I plan on sharing some of the things they write.

After school I worked out - my thighs are on fire. I spent some time with Robin. I had a good dinner and conversation with Tim. I watched the news (which I love to do). I did some grading, including reading letters from some of my kids about what they are reading. I emailed some people, chatted with some of my former youth kids on facebook, and spent time with Jesus.

Again, there wasn't anything super significant to my day. It was a just a blessing of a day and it was good. I love days like this. They are like a little piece of candy from God, just the right amount of sweet.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Do We Really Get It?

I was getting ready to go to bed and my mind is just too busy. I have this "problem" every now and then - my mind gets to racing and I have to get my thoughts out. Normally I would write in my journal, but I left it in my Jeep. So, my thoughts shall get posted here.

Let's day today was busy: blogged this morning (on a private - soon to be public - blog), went to church, stopped by home quick, went to a cookout/6-year-old's bday party, ran back home for 45 minutes, went to a 4 and 2-year old's bday party, hung out with my other mom, came home at 9:30. That is the day in a nutshell.

Church got me stirred up (as if I needed anymore to do that). J preached and his sermon title was "Unreasonable". The gist of the sermon was exceptional generosity - what we are called to give as followers of Jesus. Let me tell you, he spoke truth, he made me uncomfortable with how little I am giving, and he challenged me. So many times we "christians" quote scripture saying that we need to "give 10%" of things. J put it well...10% is the minimum. God wants it all, 24/7, everything that we have. As I listened to the sermon I wondered, "Do I really get this?"

I celebrated some pretty awesome kids today at their bday parties. But, as I sat there in the midst of presents, food, mindless chatter, I had to wonder. At one party I was blessed to see and hear a friend who has been doing missions in several countries. She was talking about ministering to prostitutes in the red light district in a city in Thailand. There we all sat, enjoying the securities that we have and I wondered, "Do I really get what Jenn is doing? Do I grasp the depth of the crap that she is seeing?" I found that I just wanted to break down and cry, but it wasn't the time or place for that (so I did it in my car as I drove away later).

I spent time with my "other" mom, Kimmy. I haven't sat and talked with she and her husband in a long time. I can honestly say that every time I am with them, I am filled with joy. I can be myself and talk and know that I am loved. We talked about everything; what we are reading, what we have been doing, families, etc. We laughed and just purely enjoyed the company of each other. I left there happy but questioning, "Do I really understand the importance of these relationships? Do I understand that Jesus has built this relationship to what it is? Do I give HIM praise for these people in my life?

I don't want to downplay my day. It was a great day and I am blessed by the relationships that I have , the kids I celebrated, the WORD that was preached, and the home that I have. But there is so much more going on around me. Do I get it? Do I understand that not everyone lives a happy, comfortable life? Do I realize that there are people in my personal life, my community, kids in my class that can't comprehend the blessings that I too often take for granted?

Just what is on my mind tonight. I thought I would share. Praying that God would open my eyes more and break my heart more. Praying that I would give more, give all that I am and have to God.

Friday, April 10, 2009

An Uncomfortable Wrestling Match

I don't really know what to title this I'm not going to title it. I just can't seem to find the right words. And, forgive me now if this post wanders and I seem a little ADD. I have a lot going on in my brain and I can't keep it to myself any longer. So, for those of you who actually do read this, I hope it stirs you and causes discomfort.

I just finished reading The Shack. I won't give anything away, but I highly recommend this book for ANYONE to read. It is on the New York Times best seller list, it is fiction, and I have never read anything that so clearly portrayed the relationship we are to have with the trinity. The story takes you through a man's struggle to forgive and understand why. I was moved to tears, laughter, anger, questions, and a deep desire to grow in my relationship with God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. My eyes were opened to how close-minded I am in my walk with God. More importantly, my eyes were opened to how . . . looking for the right word . . . clouded the church is to what relationships and love and forgiveness and fellowship and worship are really about.

One of the first things I tell people about my testimony is that I wasn't "brought up in the church" or that I didn't grow up in a "christian" home. But, I am realizing that doesn't matter. I was raised to love, care about human beings, not judge, and live with good morals. Truth be told, I was raised better than many people who were brought up in the church or grew up in a christian home. Don't get me wrong, I know lots of people who were raised well in the church and christian homes. But I also know many who have turned from God because of being raised in the church or in a so-called christian home. What is my point? God doesn't care about it! He cares about the here and now. He cares about us growing closer to him, attempting to understand a little more every day, giving up ourselves daily, trusting HIM 24/7.

Those were my thoughts when I finished The Shack. Today I started reading Irresistible Revolution. I haven't been able to put it down for long. I am intrigued. I am stirred. I am feeling forced to look at my life in alignment with the Gospel, with what God has spoken to my heart, with what I know to be true of Jesus and the sacrifice that he made for this world. Let me tell you - IT IS NOT COMFORTABLE! I like to feel in control, to have a plan, to know what is coming at me tomorrow, to be in a routine. Well, that is not a life of faith. So, I wrestle with what is important to me right now: a safe plan or a life of faith. Not an easy wrestling match. Honestly I hope I lose this one. I hope that Jesus pins me and beats me up in the process. That is what I need right now.

I think of the account of Jacob wrestling with God (found in Genesis 32:22-30). Jacob wrestled through the night and was given a new name, Israel, because of this. What is the new name God has for me? What is the purpose in wrestling with safety versus faith? Why is living by faith so incredibly difficult for me? For the church? For humans?

(I just thougth of a title. So, if you are reading this and wondering why I said at the beginning I didn't have a title, well I didn't have one at first. It just came to me...)

Back on track . . . Well, I lost my train of thought. I guess I just wonder if I am trying more and more every day to live by faith, to trust God with my whole life and not just parts of it, giving up control and safety, willing to go wherever God wants me, and showing people that I truly love Jesus with all my heart.

I would love to hear your stories of wrestling. I have a friend who shares her stories with me often and I am encouraged. I hope you are encouraged by this. More importantly I hope you are challenged to be in an uncomfortable wrestling match.


It is Spring Break.
I went to the East Coast.
I spent a day touring some of the sights that formed our great country.
I saw some beautiful Vermont country.
I read a fantastic book - The Shack.
I met 10 amazing teenage girls.
I was reminded of the importance of relationship with people.
I was blessed by my friend Sara.
I watched my Lady Huskies win a National Championship.
I drank some great coffee and some great beer.
I missed the way things used to be.
I thought about life.
I watched "Slumdog Millionaire" and was moved.
I realized how much I really do have.
I started reading my Bible every day (for the 198th time).
I questioned God.
I spent hours traveling.
I hung out with some cool people.
I bought a Vermont hoodie.
I listened to good music.
I ate some great food.
I listened to some awesome Boston accents.
I conversed with Jesus lots.
I slept in.
I started another book - Irresistible Revolution.
I looked at books with dad.
I talked on the phone with mom.
I sent a lot of text messages.
I struggled.
I missed my kids.
I am challenged.
I consider if my life is reflective of the relationship I have with Jesus.
I wonder what I am doing every day that requires faith.
I look forward to time with a friend tomorrow.
I go back to school on Monday.
I start teaching on the American Revolution in a little over a week.
I wrestle with where God is wanting me to go.
I love.