Category: Thankful Thursdays

The American Revolution And The Church’s Present-Day Revolution

This is a special Fourth of July for me for a few different reasons this year. It’s special because I got to surprise my family with a visit to Houston, AND because after having spent the past year and a half in India, I have a new appreciation for my country that I didn’t have before.

You may remember that few years ago there was a Dodge car commercial released for the World Cup games between the US and the UK back in 2010.

You should watch it real fast before reading on:

Now you’ll think I’m totally out of my mind when I say this, but the first time I watched this commercial, I cried.

Yes, I totally teared up during a 60 second car commercial.

I know it seems so weird. What’s the big deal about a TV ad with George Washington kicking *ss in his Dodge Challenger, right? But I felt a surge of admiration and affection towards the Americans shown in the commercial because I felt that Americans in the ad represented us in Christ.

The commercial showed what it’s like when we charge the gates of Hell — fierce, determined and waving the banner of our Love and Nation: “For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere.” (Eph 6:12).

Just like the redcoats in the commercial, the enemy trembles at the sight of lowly men, empowered by Christ, fearlessly storming the battlefield.

One by one, the British soldiers drop their weapons, the line breaks and they run. The moment the Challenger (who I believe symbolizes Christ or us IN Christ, depending on how you spin it) shows up on the scene, it’s not even a fight. Why? Because it is Christ who ALWAYS leads us in triumphal procession. There is no battle. The mere presence of Jesus makes it a victory.

In the same way spiritually, Jesus hasn’t left us to our own devices to fight an unfair fight. He’s equipped us with every imaginable advantage and spiritual weapon He has. He has already won the battle, you just need to show up and participate in His victory!

“Yet amid all these things we are more than conquerors and gain a surpassing victory through Him Who loved us.” (Rm 8:37)

Since that commercial I’ve watched a few other battles scenes that have stirred my heart in the same way. For instance, the entire story of Lord of The Rings can be paralleled to our own epic odyssey with Christ, but who remembers this particular scene from the movie during the Battle of the Pelennor Fields?

In a deep way, I admire and connect with these battle scenes. It doesn’t matter how many times I watch Band of Brothers or certain scenes from Braveheart, I’ve gotta reach for a box of tissues. Not because I enjoy seeing brother war against brother — I don’t. I cry because I always see these two things at the same time:

1. I clearly see the representation of the Sons (and Daughters) of God being revealed in the fight to restore justice to the opressed.

2. I clearly see Jesus’ sadness that that desire to restore justice had to be taken out on a fellow creature made in the image of God, rather than demonic powers and principalities. (I personally think that’s why Jesus tells us to turn the other cheek: it’s so we don’t get distracted with quarreling among each other while forgetting the real war going on in the spiritual realm).

I believe the “American Dream” is still alive in other parts of the world where you’d least expect it — even though it’s been somewhat lost in the country of it’s namesake. I believe that because I think it was originally God’s dream for His people and His heavenly Kingdom.

So that’s how I like to think of the American revolution: it’s really just a shadow of how God wants his Church to look and function against oppression and injustice. We are more than conquerors.

Happy 4th everyone!

Thankful Thursdays: My Brothers And Sisters In Christ

Last night Michael and I had dinner at friend’s house up in Kansas City. Before we moved to India, we had become really close (or as my friend would say: “supernaturally close”) to these guys in a short amount of time.

I don’t remember the exact story of how we met them, but I think Michael was at the mall praying for people’s legs to grow out and they just so happened to be walking by and overheard him: “Leg come out in Jesus’ name!” Not exactly something you overhear everyday at the mall, so they stopped to check out what was going on and eventually exchanged info and we’ve been in touch ever since.

It’s hard to describe how comforting and reassuring it is to be away from them for so long, but still being able to pick things back up right where we left them off. It’s like we never moved away.

As our conversation went on through the night, I somehow wound up talking about my various spiritual struggles since we’ve been in India. I didn’t have to think about it, it just came out naturally. And I think in the same way, they didn’t have to think about sharing in my sorrow, they just did out of the overflow of their heart.

I have a lot to think about from our conversation last night, but there was one statement that I’ve been mulling over all day: They both agreed that even though it may feel like we were just complaining, they actually felt life in our expressions of sorrow. What felt like death and a “dismantling” to Michael and I, brought them life and hope.

What reason could there be for that other than we both have the same Person living inside our hearts and communicating what words cannot express? It’s so evidence of how much God longs to be connected with our hearts through Holy Spirit and through those He has made our brothers and sisters in Christ.

I don’t know what picture God is painting overall, but when I stand back and look at how Holy Spirit transforms an ordinary friend into a brother or sister, I am stirred. And I am shaken by how tremendous and invasive Jesus is.

I’m reminded of a verse from a song called “Bread & Wine” by Josh Garrels:
“If I fall, I fall alone, but two can help to bear the load
A threefold chord is hard to break
All I have I give to you if you will share your sorrows too,
Then joy will be the crown upon our heads
My friend”

By the time we left our friend’s house last night, I felt lighter and reassured. I don’t know that anything in my situation has changed, and I still don’t feel hungry for God, but at the same time I feel a peace. Which is both confusing and all right at the same time.. It’s like I know that this is just for a season.

This morning I decided to listen to that song “Bread & Wine” and I connected with it in a way I hadn’t been able to before. I know it’s because the night before I had experienced the exchange of life and love the song talks about. I’d like to share a video of it with you with the lyrics posted below.

I’m slowly learning that we were never meant to live life apart from others. There is no shame in sharing a sorrow with a friend. Being vulnerable is how God “flexes His muscle”, as pastor and author Gregory Boyd might say, and it’s the place where we see Jesus fully expressed in His Body.

I was wrong, everybody needs someone, to hold on
Take my hand, I’ve been a lonesome man, took a while to understand

There’s some things we can’t live without,
A man’s so prone to doubt,
Faithful are the wounds from friends.
So give it just a little time,
Share some bread and wine
Weave your heart into mine,
My friend

Walls fall down, where there’s a peaceful sound, lonely souls hang around
Don’t be shy, there’s nothing left to hide, come on let’s talk a while

Of the places we left behind,
No longer yours and mine
But we could build a good thing here too
So give it just a little time,
Share bread and wine
Weave your heart into mine

If I fall, I fall alone, but two can help to bear the load
A threefold chord is hard to break
All I have I give to you if you will share your sorrows too,
Then joy will be the crown upon our heads
My friend

Thankful Thursdays: My Kindle

Kindle

Kindle

I totally love my little Kindle.

It wasn’t until I was in the middle of reading Lord of the Rings and I was lugging around such a massive book while we were flying once, that I saw the benefit of owning an “e-reader”.

It’s been incredibly convenient to throw our Kindles in a bag and be on our way. Not to mention how much weight we’re saving toting around our Kindles verses a few books.

And we’ve found another advantage since moving to India: most of the books we’re interested in can’t be found here, but we can still purchase them online over Amazon and have them wirelessly delivered to our Kindles.

I also really like being able to highlight and type notes as I read. I know you can do that with an actual book (and sometimes I still prefer to have an actual book for that), but it’s really nice when I’m on the plane or in the car bouncing around and I can just type out some thoughts.

And I could be imagining things, but I think because of it’s accessibility and portability, I actually read more than I did before.

I know some folks like the LCD screen, but since it can be so hard on your eyes, I really prefer the Kindle’s electronic ink screen. It’s definitely designed for one thing and it does the job well.

After Michael, my Kindle is my favorite travel companion. I never go anywhere without it. (Wow, why don’t I just write up a commercial while I’m at it!)

Thankful Thursdays: Thanksgiving

Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Pie

I love all the time you get to spend with friends and family during Thanksgiving and the holidays. It doesn’t matter how cold it is outside, you feel warm and cozy being around loved ones.

Thanksgiving isn’t celebrated in India, so it’s kind of up to you how or when you want to get into the “holiday spirit”.

I picked up some candles and I’ve been making A LOT of apple cider, so the apartment almost smells like Thanksgiving, hah. I also set up my Christmas Tree and I’ve ordered a pumpkin pie from our local bakery for today. Later this evening, I plan on making pumpkin chocolate chip cookies and listening to Christmas music in the kitchen.

No it’s not the same as being at home, but without all the extra fluff of seasonal commercialization, you learn that it’s actually the little things that make a holiday special.

Tomorrow evening we’re having a late Thanksgiving dinner with some friends. It’s kind of crazy, to think that one day Michael and I will look back and say, “Hey, remember that time when we celebrated Thanksgiving in India with our Canadian friends?”

I miss my family and friends back home a lot and I wish I was getting to visit with them over turkey and pumpkin pie. But I’m thankful for all the Thanksgivings we’ve celebrated in the past and I look forward to all the Thanksgivings we’ll celebrate together in the future.

I’m also thankful for the adventure God has brought Michael and I on (no matter how much I complain sometimes) and I’m thankful we have friends here to celebrate Thanksgiving with. No matter what, the Lord provides.

Sending love and blessings to you and yours. Happy Thanksgiving from India!

Thankful Thursdays: Apple Cider

One of my favorite drinks to have during the fall and winter is apple cider.

There are a couple different recipes I like to use and I like interchanging some of the ingredients.

A friend of mine here in Delhi showed me a new cider recipe that I’ve been making a lot recently. It just uses regular apple juice, a couple of tea bags, and some cinnamon. You throw it all in a pot on the stove and let it warm up. It’s quick, easy and it makes a lot for bigger gatherings.

But my favorite cider recipe wraps spices and orange peel in a cheese cloth and lets them simmer in the cider all day. I like to put it in the Crockpot so that by the time you sit down in the evening, it’s ready to drink and the whole house smells like warm cinnamon and cloves.

And that’s the best part about making cider, especially here in India, because it reminds me so much of home. It’s such an easy way of recreating the same feeling you get right around Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Here’s a recipe for you to try out some time!

Hot Apple Cider

6 cups apple cider
1/4 cup real maple syrup
2 cinnamon sticks
6 whole cloves
6 whole allspice berries
1 orange peel, cut into strips
1 lemon peel, cut into strips

1. Pour the apple cider and maple syrup into a large stainless steel saucepan.

2. Place the cinnamon sticks, cloves, allspice berries, orange peel and lemon peel in the center of a washed square of cheesecloth; fold up the sides of the cheesecloth to enclose the bundle, then tie is up with a length of kitchen string. Drop the spice bundle into the cider mixture.

3. Place the saucepan over the moderate heat or 5 to 10 minutes, or until the cider is very hot but not boiling.

4. Remove the cider from the heat. Discard the spice bundle. Ladle the cider into big cups or mugs, adding a fresh cinnamon stick for stirring.

**Optional: One reviwer on the website makes this helpful suggestion:

I just added one thing which is an old trick I recently learned from a New York State apple farmer who’s family has been making hot cider for 150 or so years. Thinly slice and or chop up some McIntosh apples including the peel into small pieces and drop a small bunch of the apple pieces into each cup of hot cider just before serving. This makes a wonderful addition to this recipe, which I would say is the best hot cider I have ever tasted. Thanks so much for posting this great recipe. IT IS WONDERFUL!” – rgirl

Enjoy!

Thankful Thursdays: Trees

Mussorie Forest
Mussorie Forest
A forest up in the foothills of the Himalaya’s near Mussorie.

Whenever I think about home, it’s the trees that I miss the most. I just love being in environments where there are lots of trees and vegetation.

I admire trees for their enduring nature.

I like to think of them as silent, steadfast guardians.

Whenever we would drive from Kansas City to Houston, there’s a place just past Madisonville, Texas that’s filled with old pastures and oak trees. The kind of old oaks that grow wild, with low, outstretched branches.

They’re beautiful.

There’s another place, just outside of Michael’s parent’s house, that has amazing trees.

I love thinking about the drive through the windy road that takes you to their neighborhood. The trees grow right up to the road and in the autumn and spring they’re the prettiest.

Trees provide us with so much, but it’s their beauty and enduring nature that I’m the most thankful for.

Thankful Thursdays: Thunderstorms

Moonlight Apartment StormI love thunderstorms. I always want to cozy up and make a hot drink while watching them come through.

I like how the sky gets dark and closes in. I like sitting indoors and hearing the thunder. And I enjoy the sound of the rain coming down outside.

My favorite storms are the cold fronts that come in right as the seasons are changing from winter to spring. In Houston it never gets very cold, but right before it rains, the temperature still drops enough to feel a change in the air.

After I moved to Kansas, I could really tell the difference between spring thunderstorms and fall thunderstorms. The ones in the spring can get pretty violent, and sometimes produce tornadoes. Fall storms bring a lot more of those slow, steady rains.

And the smell of the rain during spring has a freshness, whereas in the fall it’s more crisp.

You don’t get thunderstorms very often in Delhi, even during the monsoons, so I definitely miss them a lot here. I hope that where ever we move next has a rainier climate so I can enjoy stormy days indoors again.

Thankful Thursdays: Autumn

Yellow Farmhouse Winery
Taken outside Yellow Farmhouse Winery in Defiance, MO.

The official first day of Autumn in the US was September 22nd this year.

By now, at home they’re experiencing cool, crisp evenings, the smells of apple cider, spiced nuts and fruits, and restaurants are offering pumpkin-flavored this or that.

I love it when I walk into Hobby Lobby and that country, crafty aroma hits me first thing. It’s like heaven being in their store. And the combination of cinnamon, cloves, and orange-cranberry candles is divine.

Autumn’s the beginning of baking season, which means I get to bake and eat as much pumpkin pie as I can manage.

It’s also when I get to start wearing all my favorite scarves and sweaters. Then in the evenings, when Michael and I watch movies, we’ll snuggle up with hot tea and blankets.

In September, the trees in Kansas usually start to turn colors. It may not be as pretty as other places in America, but after growing up in Houston, I always thought it was special.

Right before Michael and I moved to India, most of our things were getting boxed up for storage or for shipping. We kept our bikes out for as long as we could.

Almost every evening we took them out and rode along various bike trails or through nearby neighborhoods. It was probably the most memorable thing we did before we moved… and it’s probably the thing I miss the most.

There really isn’t a Fall season here in Delhi, so I’ll miss it again this year, but I’m thankful for it all the same.

Thankful Thursdays: Stringed Instruments

Whenever I hear a cello or stringed ensemble I’m always transported. I love listening to acoustic guitars and mandolins too. I find that there is a distinct natural and spiritual sound to stringed instruments. They’re so pretty and magical.

I played the violin when I was in middle school, but I always wondered if maybe I should have picked the cello instead. I love to watch people play the cello too. It’s like the instrument transforms from a dead, funny-looking piece of wood, into something alive and apart of the musician.

Michael says he loves anything with a piano. What about you? Do you have a particular instrument or sound that speaks to your heart?

Thankful Thursdays: Dancing

I recently went to a birthday party where the little girl and her friends were dancing to different Bollywood songs. It was so charismatic and lively.

It reminded me of a story I once heard about a man who went to heaven in a vision. In the vision he saw King David dancing before the Lord. The angel told the man that David danced like that day and night before Jesus.

Sometimes when I’m by myself, listening to worship music, I like to dance. I imagine being like King David in that vision and dancing my heart out before Jesus.

I think in heaven there will be lots of dancing.

All the peoples and cultures of the world will dance before the Lord day and night: Irish dancing, Indian dancing, Turkish dancing, Russian dancing; there will be so much happiness and jubilation. We won’t be able to stop.

I’m thankful for times of celebration and the expressions of song and dance.

%d bloggers like this: