Thursday, June 30, 2011

Memories in my Memory

I'm fascinated by memories.

When I say memories I'm talking about two things.

First, I mean memories as in the things that some people have and some people don't. Your brother might have a great memory but your memory isn't quite as sharp. This is sort of like a journal in your head - for one person it's got pages packed with details and another person has a couple notes here and there while someone else has stacks of paper scattered everywhere in no sort of order. Our memories are all different.

Secondly, memories are specific events stored within each individual's memory. That sounds like something a computer geek would say - but this is more human. Everyone remembers different parts of life differently. Your mom remembers your birth differently than your dad, but each of them has the memory. His and her recollection of that first kiss is a distinctly unique memory. Matt, Mark, Luke, and John all have slightly different yet similar memories of Jesus when He walked the Earth.

So, each of us have memories stored in our own memory. It is from our memory that we pull these memories from the past into our present moment to make some sense of life. More often than not, music triggers my memory. When certain songs enter my ear and cruise into my brain, my memory starts to get all nostalgic and have a party.

Today, the 30th day in the month of June, I read the 30th chapter in the book of Psalms. In the fifth verse, the phrase "but joy comes with the morning" was read and memories began to dance in my memory.

My beard was gone.
My hair was long.
My voice changed more frequently than my underwear.
My dreams were big and my God seemed to keep getting bigger.

My memory has stored the memory of first hearing the song "Trading My Sorrows" at the FLY convention years ago. Today, almost ten years later, I read one line in the Bible and God brought me back the the first time I heard one song sung. My memory has preserved those intimate moments with my Savior, singing with hundreds of other students, and being shaped into the person God has created me to be today.

The lyrics of this song say:


I'm trading my sorrows
I'm trading my shame
I'm laying them down for the joy of the Lord

I'm trading my sickness
I'm trading my pain
I'm laying them down for the joy of the Lord

Yes Lord, Yes Lord, yes yes Lord
Yes, Lord, Yes Lord, yes yes Lord Amen!

I am pressed but not crushed persecuted not abandoned struck down but not destroyed I am blessed beyond the curse for his promise will endure his joy is gonna be my strength

though the sorrow may last for the night His joy comes with the morning


In the years it took for my hair to shift from the top of my head to my face, I have made a lot of memories. Countless times, these memories have caused me to trade my sorrows and shame in for the joy of the Lord. As often as I screw up, Jesus is always there for me ready to restore my broken heart with His joy. The curse of sin is always in front of my face, but I can trust in His promise of forgiveness.

Wherever you're at in life right, rest in the fact that Christ died and rose again for YOU. Trading your shame and sorrow for His joy will be the best memory ever stored in your memory.

You've been remade

2 Corinthians 5: 11- 21 is titled "The Ministry of Reconciliation" It says, 11 Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. 12 We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. 13 If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
 16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."

These verses came to my mind as I was listening to Tenth Avenue North's song " You Are More." Take a listen.

I cannot think of anything more encouraging and uplifting than the message of reconciliation. God takes every broken bit of us and binds us together in Him making us whole and holy.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Just Music?

I want to touch briefly, thoughtfully hopefully, on the power of music. Music has the ability, as other forms of art do as well, to move us in ways that reach deep down into our hearts. Reading the lyrics (unless truely poetic in nature) on a page more often than not does not have the same effect upon us as the lyrics matched with the music does, and music, such as classical, has the ability to move us in very powerful ways as well with absolutely no lyrics involved. The simple ways that the moves moves in rhythm and tone and all of the stuff that I don't know anything about can bring our minds and our imaginations soaring to where the music makes it come alive. It can make our hearts feel afraid, joyful, or simply awestruck by that which we have just heard. There is no doubt about. Music is powerful.

It is because music is so powerful that I wanted to touch on this and cause myself and hopefully you who are readers to prayerfully consider the music that we listen too. No, this is not another one of those secular/Christian debates about whether or not Christians should or should not listen to secular music. Simply it is an opportunity, and a desire of mine to come before the Lord and ask Him what He thinks about music. Because music does have the power to move us in such beautiful, winsome, and certainly wonderful; Godly ways I think that it is necessary that we acknowledge that it has the power to do the opposite as well in the fallen world we are in. It has the power to invoke lust, fear, as mentioned before, anger, depression, and an attitude of "It's all about me, it's all about me, it's all about me." Artists use it to portray godlessness or Godliness; there really is no middle ground. Don't get me wrong here though. I'm not saying all secular music is bad. I do listen to it, maybe some that I shouldn't. In fact I know there is some that I should not, but sometimes when a song comes on that I know is complete trash I find it difficult to say no and turn the station. Why is that? Because we are in a battle and the world, my flesh and the evil one are all looking for opportunities to take me out and a main way to do that is to infiltrate my mind. If my mind can be drawn to the things not of God then often my heart will often give up the fight and the end result will then be death. Death to what? Death to my heart. Death to the intimacy I could be having with God or another person in that moment. Death to what I ought or not ought to be doing. Death. It surrounds us and the enemy loves when we feast upon and enter into it, for it cuts us off from the life we ought to be living with God in that moment.

Philippians 4:8-9 says, "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me-practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you." (ESV) Things that are honorable, just, true, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, or worthy of praise can be, and are found, in music that is secular by title; yet maybe not by nature, but let us be wary about that which we allow to enter into our minds for it is not simply "just music."

Monday, June 27, 2011

Resting in the Love of God

You can count the number of days I have left as an employee of Beulah Lumber on three fingers. Although I am forever grateful to the Lord for providing me with a job in Beulah for the last year and a half, I can't say that the lumberyard ever had my passion. In fact, I'll admit that since my first weeks at Beulah Lumber in October of 2009, I was praying for the Lord to provide me with a different job. Something in a less discouraging environment. Something where I would feel as though I was truly serving others. Something in an arena where I had even some knowledge.

But for many months, there seemed to be silence from heaven in this regard. Possibilities arose, but they either did not turn out favorably, or I felt unsettled about the position. So, despite my desire to leave the lumberyard, I stayed. Waiting upon the Lord to provide another opportunity. And praise Him, He did! In May, I started working for Easter Seals Goodwill; working with a family in a neighboring town whose little girl has a disability.

Waiting for the answer to prayer can be difficult, can't it? In a society that is used to instant things, waiting is painful. At one time, we marveled at the wonder of a computer and the ability to surf the internet - now, we get frustrated at having to wait 20 seconds for a webpage to load. Meals come frozen, prepackaged, or microwaveable so that we don't have to feel hungry for longer than possible. Unfortunately, we've taken this mentality to our relationship with the Lord. We pray and expect immediate, instantaneous results.

But the Lord doesn't always work that way. Actually, often times, the Lord doesn't work that way. His ways are higher than our ways; His thoughts are higher than our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8). Honestly, I have no idea why the Lord placed me at Beulah Lumber. But I suppose I don't have to . . . He's God, I am not. I'll let my words be few before Him (Ecclesiastes 5:2). During the last year and a half, I had to cling to the words of Psalm 37:5 - and practice them, which is where faith really gets tough -
"Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him . . . "
If you feel that the Lord is not answering your prayers, or like He's taking too long to get back to you - just remember that He is indeed listening. He knows your thoughts before you even form them (Psalm 139:4) and calls you to find rest and comfort in Himself (Matthew 11:28-30). Go there, my friend. Rest in The Love of God.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Glorious Day!

Growing up, I have always had a fascination with history. I loved learning of the American Revolution, the growing civilizations of Europe, life during the Depression, etc. I think the coolest part is seeing how history always has an impact on the present, and therefore the future as well. The cool thing about the Bible is that it is a history book-- full of battles and romance and everything inbetween. And the best part of the Book: the biography of the perfect Man, Jesus Christ!

God used an athiest professor at a secular college to make me realize that the stories of Jesus in the Bible aren't just stories, they're HISTORY. That's fact. She told us that the Bible was a credible source to use because it is historically accurate. That's when it finally hit that these stories that I read of Jesus living for me, dying for me, rising again for me, and resurrecting for me, became truly for me.

Today we sang a new song in church called "Glorious Day" by Casting Crowns (Please, take a listen to it! It's the title of this post). This song has the entire Gospel wrapped up in its text. The verses go through His life: born of a virgin, dying on the cross, and rising again. The chorus is what truly got to me...

"Living, He loved me. Dying, He saved me. Buried, He carried my sins far away. Rising, He justified freely forever. One day He's coming, O glorious day!"

That has a lot of power in there! I love how the words to this chorus put it so simply; no fancy talk. He loved me, He saved me, He carried my sins away. That's history--fact. He justified freely forever-- freely! There's nothing we can do to earn this justification, and yet it's offered freely, forever! The last statement is of hope, a hope that's assured. This isn't history, but will be a part of the future. He's coming again, how can we not sing O glorious day?!

This week, I have a challenge for each of you and myself. Read through the entire Book of John in one sitting, out loud if possible. I know it's a longer book--21 chapters-- but it goes through the life of Jesus in a way that none of the other Gospels do. Realize that what you're reading is real, it's history, and it's life changing. And we'll sing together, O glorious day!

Friday, June 24, 2011

I don't have the strength

We cannot accomplish anything in our own strength. I try and try to be like Christ, and I try and try to accomplish His will. But that is the problem. I try. And in my trying, I am pushing Christ aside and saying that I can do this on my own. But I can't. We cannot live apart from Christ, but in that truth we often distort it when we try to live in part with Christ.

This song by Third Day has been going over and over in my head, and I realize that in all that is going on in my life, even I don't have the strength to give it all over to God. In the trials of life I do not have the strength to give my life, my worries, my doubts, or my fears to God. But I pray that He would take it anyway - I don't have the strength to give it, but I don't need it, because He is my strength.

How many times have I turned away
the number is the same as the sand on the shore
But every time You've taken me back
And now I pray You do it once more.

Please take from me my life
when I don't have the strength
to give it away to You Jesus

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Light Up the Sky

When the road less traveled is before me and my old Subaru is functioning properly, I am in my happy place. Most of my driving time is spent alone, which is actually something that I enjoy - especially when the music blasting through my speakers correlates in perfect sync with the pictures on the other side of my windshield.

Just the other day, my internal compass had me heading slightly North and a little West across the roads of Minnesota and my happy place was somewhere on I-94.

My foot pressed the pedal to the metal.
My finger turned up the volume on my car stereo a little too loud.
My eyes were focused forward.
My ears tuned into the sounds around me.
My nose noticed that I had not showered that day.
My mouth let out a little laugh.
My heart skipped a beat.
My most of me realized that everything at that moment was orchestrated by God.

Thomas Kinkade couldn't have painted a better sunset on the Western horizon. None of Hollywood's special effects could create a storm compared to the thunder and lightning up North. Even the hug of a long lost friend couldn't compare to the feeling of significance that God gave me inside the confines of my little station wagon.

All of this would have been impossible without the song "Light Up the Sky" by The Afters playing on the radio. (click the blue letters to listen to the song and see the music video) The artist's vision for the video is a bit different than the experience God gave me.

Regardless, I hope you notice when God is letting you know that He is right there with you.

Look up at the sky.
Listen for crickets.
Smell apple fritters.
Taste fresh coffee.
Feel the grass between your toes.

Remember that Christ died for you, rose from the dead, and wants you to live life with Him.

Please Don't Let Me Go

I've been hearing this song on the radio a lot recently. Take a listen to Group 1 Crew - Please Don't Let Me Go:

This verse struck me:
"I remember the moments life was a blur
An adolescent spirit far from mature
I couldn't tell between a friend or a foe
So alone I remained looked to the sky for hope
Its hard to feel alive when your cold
Its hard to reach the sky when your low
Sunlight is hard to find in a storm
How can I give love if my souls been torn
A broken vessel you call it a master piece
No eye can see how deeply your in love with me
Honestly I cant love me how you love me
But obviously there's something that you want from me
Cause you don't want to let me go
Owner of the world but you want my soul
My heart is crying out lord please take control
I need you and I don't wanna let go"

Actually one line in the verse struck me in particular: Owner of the world but you want my soul. 

I just started reading Mark Cahill's book "One Thing You Can't Do in Heaven." Do you know what he says the one thing you can't do in heaven is? Witness. 

John 17:1-5 says,

"Jesus spoke these things; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You, even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life. This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do. Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was."

God's been reminding me this week that there is really only one thing that matters in this earthly life, that the owner of the world wants our souls. When it comes right down to it that's all that matters, that all would know Him as their Lord and Savior.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


I heard this song on the radio the other day, and I've always loved the song, but it left me feeling awestruck of God this time around in a way it has never done before. It reminds me of Job being rebuked by God. What do we really know of holy? I want to know more and more each day.

"What Do I Know of Holy"
I made You promises a thousand times
I tried to hear from Heaven
But I talked the whole time
I think I made You too small
I never feared You at all No
If You touched my face would I know You?
Looked into my eyes could I behold You?

What do I know of You
Who spoke me into motion?
Where have I even stood
But the shore along Your ocean?
Are You fire? Are You fury?
Are You sacred? Are You beautiful?
What do I know? What do I know of Holy?

I guess I thought that I had figured You out
I knew all the stories and I learned to talk about
How You were mighty to save
Those were only empty words on a page
Then I caught a glimpse of who You might be
The slightest hint of You brought me down to my knees

What do I know of You
Who spoke me into motion?
Where have I even stood
But the shore along Your ocean?
Are You fire? Are You fury?
Are You sacred? Are You beautiful?
What do I know? What do I know of Holy?

What do I know of Holy?
What do I know of wounds that will heal my shame?
And a God who gave life "its" name?
What do I know of Holy?
Of the One who the angels praise?
All creation knows Your name
On earth and heaven above
What do I know of this love?

What do I know of You
Who spoke me into motion?
Where have I even stood
But the shore along Your ocean?
Are You fire? Are You fury?
Are You sacred? Are You beautiful?
What do I know? What do I know of Holy?

What do I know of Holy?
What do I know of Holy?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Done In Love

If you were to ask me one of the things the Lord has been teaching me over the course of the last year, it would be the practicality of Christianity. Simple things like feeding the hungry. Giving a glass of water to the thirsty. Placing a coat on those who don't have one. Simple, practical ways to show the love of Jesus.

As I was reading through the book of 1 Corinthians the last couple of weeks, I came to the all-familiar "Love Chapter" - chapter 13. Whenever I read this chapter, I have to go slowly. Reading deliberately - because it is easy for me glaze over the true meaning of Paul's words. This week, I was struck by verse 3 --

"If I give all my possessions to feed the poor . . . but do not have love, it profits me nothing."
So as I pray over and consider how the Lord would have me to practically participate in the Gospel, I was struck my the reality that I cannot just do things. Whatever I do, it must be done in love. However the Lord calls me to feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, clothe the naked, and care for orphans and widows, I pray that I would never get into a habit of doing.

As I sang with the kids at Abiding Savior in our summer care program, " . . . It must be done in love! MUST BE DONE IN LOVE!"

Sunday, June 19, 2011


The older I get, the more I realize that I don't know a single thing! Do you ever feel like that? I constantly feel like I'm failing, falling, and crawling. A dear friend showed me this song today, and I couldn't have been pointed to a more fitting song right now!

Life is hard; the Christian walk is not an easy one. We all have problems--whether they're finances, relationships, jobs, future plans-- we can't escape. And no matter how much we try to avoid it, we all hurt too. The great thing though is that God is there for us during the good times and the bad times! "The wonder of it all is You" (Listen to the song "Crawl" linked in the title of this post). how great and awesome to know that the Creator of the universe is carrying us through the hard times when we feel as though we don't have the might or strength to even crawl ourselves!

Paul, yes even the amazing Paul from the New Testament, went through struggles in his life as well. When he pleaded with God to whatever it was that he was dealing with (read for yourself in 2 Corinthians 12), God replied with a different answer. He said, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness" (2 cor 12:9).

Friend, if you can't handle the burdens in this life, look to Christ. He will carry you.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

What Can I Say? (click me for a beautiful song:))

Music is such an integral part of most of our lives isn't it? Whether it is driving in the car, working out in the gym, talking with friends, doing homework, or as a tool for praise we find music in the midst of all of our lives. It also covers the backgrounds of movies, t.v. shows and commercials. It has been the means of some of the greatest communications of all time. It has the ability to mourn with you, rejoice in your happiness, and create emotions within you that you might not have thought were there. Music is powerful, no doubt about it. So, what can I say? Music moves me and I have enjoyed elements of most of the genres out there over the course of my lifetime, but the main staple, the delight of my musical life has slowly, but surely, become praise music. This has not always been so.

For the most part growing up during my teenage years and early twenties music was just something that was there. I enjoyed listening to it but didn't really have a passion or anything for it. I'm not musically inclined, though I did play in the handbell choir at the Christian school I went to. I always had to play the smallest and highest ringing of the bells. I'm not quite sure to this day if it was because it was the easiest parts to play or if it was because I was so small and I couldn't handle the bigger bells. Either way, it was not the most manly thing to do, but looking back on pictures of that I am able to enjoy the memories. So, back to the music thing. Over the years some of the more popular genres in my life have been Christian rock, country, and a little bit of the reggae flavor, but I also love sappy love songs and culture songs that aren't too dirty and I can sing along too. Women's voices have always been a main staple in my flavor as well. I'm not quite sure why, but I do enjoy them a lot. Ok. From there I've gone through the ups and downs of should I listen to secular music or should I not listen to secular music. At different points of my life I haven't but I think I've come to the place in my life where I am satisfied, and I believe God is too, with the music I come into contact with. Praise though has become the delight and joy of my life. I can sit and listen for hours basking in the presence of God, and that's why I love it so much. Promise has been given to us that God inhabits the praises of his people (Psalm 22:3); so through all of the journey of my musical background it simply comes down to this. I enjoy what I enjoy because I enjoy spending time with God. That's all that I can say.

Some of my favorite artist to listen to right now are: Laura Story, Misty Edwards, Jesus Culture, Gungor, Mat Kearney, and Shawn McDonald

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Bread Would be Nice

One of my favorite songs is "Blessed Be Your Name". I love how simple and straightforward this song is. Take a look at the lyrics:

"Blessed by Your name
In the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed by Your name

Blessed by Your name
When I'm found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed by Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I'll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed by the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

Blessed be Your name
When the sun's shining down on me
When the world's "all as it should be"
Blessed be your name

Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there's pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

You give and take away
My heart will chose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name"

Is that what your heart says? When life is good, it's easy to say "blessed be your name". But what about when it's hard, when you go through the pains of life? Do you still say that? I know I don't.

I heard John Piper speak a few weeks ago and he spoke on the Lord's Prayer. Have you ever considered all of the requests that are made in this prayer? And the very first is "hallowed be Thy name". But how often do we only pray for our bread--our needs? To quote Piper on this, "What do you pray for? It should be "hallowed by Your name"...and bread would be nice."

Our life is to praise God, with everything that we have. That means in the midst of all the troubles that we face too. God will provide for all your needs, but not always in the way that you think, nor in the timing that you expect. During those times that everything feels dry, we're still called to praise God.

I pray that in whatever situation you're in right now, you would be able to say "blessed be Your name".

Friday, June 10, 2011

2nd Annual Grounded 3:17 AFLC Young Adult Gathering

Hello AFLC Young Adult friends!

If you are interested in attending the 2nd Annual Grounded 3:17 AFLC Young Adult get together this year, it's only ONE week away!

Join us and other like minded young adults Saturday, June 18 following the AFLC Annual Conference for a time of connection and encouragement.

We will begin our time together by joining in with the Saturday morning Apologetics Event with speaker David Menton.

We will meet at the Sioux Falls Ministry Center in Sioux Falls, SD.

Here is the schedule for the event.
12:00pm Lunch
1:00pm Introduction, Praise and Worship
1:45pm Speaker Rich Merkouris
2:15pm Music and Fellowship
3:17pm Event Ends

AND if you can believe this event will only cost you $5. Pocket change, I tell you.

Sooooo Contact AFLC Youth Ministries @ (763) 545 -5631 for more details or to sign up!

God's blessing on you today!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

2nd Annual Grounded 3:17 AFLC Young Adult Gathering

2nd Annual Grounded 3:17 AFLC Young Adult Gathering

When: Saturday, June 18 following the AFLC Annual Conference.

Morning: Apologetics Event with David Menton

Grounded 3.17 Gathering
Location: Sioux Falls Ministry Center

12:00pm Lunch
1:00pm Introduction, Praise and Worship
1:45pm Speaker Rich Merkouris
2:15pm Music and Fellowship
3:17pm Event Ends

Cost for event is $5.

Contact AFLC Youth Ministries @ (763) 545 -5631 for more details or to sign up!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Deep in the Heart of Texas

It's hot in Texas. My Dallas thermometer confirms that it's a humid 95 degrees today. Even for a Texan, this is miserable weeding-the-garden weather. I'm happy for an excuse to steal away from the garden, from the hot kitchen, and even from folding clothes just pulled from the dryer, to sit in the coolest corner of my room and write this blog.

I'm hoping my future blogs won't be so lengthy, but since we're just getting introduced, a few more paragraphs are necessary. We've probably never met, so let me introduce myself. The name's Ballmann, Karyn Ballmann. And if that German name rings a bell, it may be because you know my sister, Christie (AFLC Home Missions) or brother Nathan (AFLBS). Or perhaps one of my other siblings, Matthew, Rachael, Elisabeth or Sarah. You read correctly--that's 6 siblings. I'm second born of seven and absolutely love it! Despite the summers, I am truly proud to be a Texan. I recently relocated from West Texas (Lubbock) to Dallas where I work at Baylor Hospital in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) as a Registered Nurse. In the NICU we take care of premature and sick newborns.

As a PK (pastor's kid), I was exposed to the gospel message from a young age. I was around six when the Word of God personally convicted my heart of sin and my depravity before God. It was then that I trusted in the blood of Christ to cleanse my sin and pay my debt. Ten years later, I came to a place of complete surrender before the Lord, allowing the blood of the Lamb to not only save, begin its sanctifying work. Sanctification is a process. I’m still in it. I wish I could say that from age 16, when I placed my life on the altar before Christ, that I left it there for good. But I do, from time to time, jump down. The Lord’s everlasting love for this Bride of His never allows me to stay away. He beckons me back until I am once again fully surrendered in His arms.

Take a quick rabbit trail with me. I want to lay a foundation for my future blogs, so you’ll know where I’m coming from.

What do you think went through Isaac's mind when his father, Abraham, placed him on the altar in Genesis 22? The story seems to portray a child-like faith, a trust in his father and a willingness to submit. And when his father took a rope and bound his hands and legs? What then? It appears Isaac remained submissive. And when Abraham placed him upon the pile of sticks and wood... what then? What must Isaac have been thinking? Even staring up at the knife, ready to pierce his body, it doesn't appear that Isaac fought, but rather yielded to his Father's will. Certainly it wasn't the circumstance he would've chosen for himself. Certainly the altar and ropes were uncomfortable. Certainly staring up at a knife, expecting imminent death, conjured up many emotions we can probably identify with, although through different circumstances.

But we know the end. We know an angel tells Abraham to not sacrifice his son--and in Isaac's place a ram is miraculously provided. We see a beautiful picture of redemption played out. We know that all along God was in control and had a very specific plan—a plan working for Abraham (and Isaac's) good and for His own glory.

Naomi asked me to share with you where the Lord currently has me. Honestly, I feel like I am right there with Isaac--laying on poky sticks, the Texas sun burning my face, my hands and legs tied... at times it seems I can almost see the knife above my head. In a very real way, life around me is hard and painful. But what I desire, more than anything, is to submit—even through tears of hurt, or grief, or pain (or whatever other emotion may wash over me)—to submit and trust Him. Knowing that God is good and God is sovereign... and is working this together for my good and His glory.

Do you, like me, find yourself in the painful, but beautiful process of sanctification? Do you trust Him? Are you pressing close into your Saviors bosom to meet every need—physical, spiritual, emotional? In my future Saturday blogs, I'm sure we'll be walking together through some of the specific life lessons the Lord is walking through with me.

In closing, let me share with you who exactly Christ is to me. Christ is my joy—because He died in my stead, the unbearable weight of my sin has lifted. Christ is my strength—because He lives, I can face tomorrow. Christ is my peace—His glorification (making His name famous), in all things, makes life, and all it’s trials, ‘worth’ living. Christ is my hope—my greatest longing is to spend eternity with my bridegroom, worshiping before His throne. If I had to choose a verse I want my life to exemplify, it would be Psalm 27:4, "One thing have I asked of the Lord,that will I seek after:that I may dwell in the house of the Lordall the days of my life,to gaze upon the beauty of the Lordand to inquire in his temple."

-Karyn Ballmann
Dallas, Texas

Friday, June 3, 2011

give me Your eyes

I've been there a million times
A couple of million eyes just moving past me by
I swear i never thought that i was wrong

Well i want a second glance
So give me a second chance
To see the way you see the people all alone

Give me your eyes for just one second
Give me your eyes so i can see
Everything that i keep missing
Give me your love for humanity

Give me your arms for the broken hearted
The ones that are far beyond my reach?
Give me your heart for the one's forgotten
Give me your eyes so i can see

This song has been my prayer for a long time, but the importance of being intentional in this prayer hit me really hard today.

We have had several new kids come to our Kids Club this year, but lately, it seems like soon after a new kid comes, they don't show up, move, or are unable to come anymore. The discouragement keeps coming, and the wonder of how and why we are loosing numbers in the kids coming reveals more questions. But today, after finding out that several more kids will no longer be coming broke my heart. They were the sweetest kids, always listening and responding to God's Word - and I was rather attached to them.

Their departure without being able to say good-bye caused something in my heart to click - and my head. We never know what is going to happen each day. We can assume, but we don't know for sure - only God knows. That is why I need to live every moment as if it is the last - I need to love each person as if it's the last time I see them, I need to be Christ to others, because I may not have another chance.

Our lives impact others, whether it is positive or negative. I pray that God would give me His eyes, hands, heart, and arms, that when I encounter others, whether for one second or over ten years, they don't encounter me, but they encounter Jesus.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Nuts and Bolts

The past 17 days of my life have been memorable.

For some reason, I decided to tackle the highly-feared, often-cursed Comp. II at Northwestern College in a two-week long summer version of the course. My intent was to avoid a summer of drudgery and constant procrastination by getting the paper researched and written in two weeks. So, I said "Goodbye" to my social life, and headed for the library.

In the first five days of class, I found myself flipping through stacks of books, scrolling through articles on the internet, and scratching my head while trying to find rather specific research in the field of youth ministry. At the end of that first week, I had spent more hours in the library than in my first two years of college combined. After that was one more week of proof-reading, revising, re-writing, and more head scratching. Upon completion of the course, the last thing I imagined myself doing was reading another book.


Tuesday morning I sat in the warm Minnesota sun, frying my epidermis, and read a book: The World as I remember It: Through the Eyes of a Ragamuffin. This is a compilation of writings from one of the greatest song writers in the 20th century, Rich Mullins. In a few all-too-short hours, I read this short book cover-to-cover and saw the beauty that was created by one of God's chosen sons.

The pages of this book are not filled with lyrics from Mullins' songs, but rather, the articles he wrote for a column in Reasons from 1991-1996. Merely mentioning the name Rich Mullins evokes fond memories for me.

Just months before he passed away on September 19, 1997, I had the opportunity to sit at his feet while he hammered away on the dulcimer. At the time, my elementary ears didn't realize the beauty that was being portrayed before me, but today, I am beginning to understand the significance of that moment.

While I haven't listened to Rich's music for almost a month, his writing has been stirred something inside me. Like a washing machine on spin cycle, my heart was caught in the momentum of Mullins' wordsmithery. It was in the first few pages of the book that Rich's smoothly shaped phrases slid right into a rough and ragged spot in my heart.


"I am a Christian, not because someone explained the nuts and bolts of Christianity to me, but because there were people who were willing to be nuts and bolts, who through their explanation of it, held it together so that I could experience it and be compelled by it to obey."

No more than two hours after reading this, my phone rang. On the other end was a good friend of mine calling to see what I was up to for lunch. While my molars made my cheeseburger mush, me and Mr. Erickson decided to get together. Minutes later, Jeremy showed up, we laughed a lot, and he became the nuts and bolts of Christianity to me.

Wherever life has you today, ask God to open up doors for you to be the nuts and bolts for someone else. When you need to, explain clearly why you are loving unconditionally, kindly correcting, or providing for physical needs. Be the hands of Christ, working in the world.

Tighten the bolts of belief that are necessary to bring people back to Jesus.

Loosen the torque the nuts of legalism have on members of the family bound by the law and let the live in the freedom of God's grace.