Saturday, March 31, 2012


One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple. Ps. 27:4

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Ps. 16:11

O Lord, I want ONE, all-consuming desire. I want all my energies, talents, resources, and passion to be poured into that ONE desire. . . dwelling in your presence. May the beauty of you, my heavenly Bridegroom, always captivate me. Oh! To enjoy you fully and forever.

Father, May I always bask in your presence--being filled with joy unspeakable. May that be the place I long to be/remain. Lord, I desire to walk the path of life, light my way.
Beautiful Savior
Beautiful Savior, King of Creation,

Son of God and Son of Man!
Truly I'd love Thee, Truly I'd serve Thee,
Light of my soul, my Joy, my Crown.

Fair are the meadows, Fair are the woodlands,
Robed in flowers of blooming spring;
Jesus is fairer, Jesus is purer;
He makes our sorrowing spirit sing.

Fair is the sunshine, Fair is the moonlight,
Bright the sparkling stars on high;
Jesus shines brighter, Jesus shines purer,
Than all the angels in the sky.

Beautiful Savior, Lord of the nations,
Son of God and Son of Man!
Glory and honor, Praise, adoration,
Now and forevermore be Thine!
-Joseph A. Seiss

Friday, March 30, 2012


God works all things for good for those who love Him.

This song reminded me that God doesn't make junk - He makes beautiful things.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Is God Still Good?

"God is so good!"

How often do you catch yourself saying that? A few weeks ago it seemed like that phrase came out of my mouth every other sentence. "The sun is shining! God is so good!" or something to that effect. I love the sun, and when it's nice I just want to be outside and praising God in it. However, I hate gloominess. It is so easy for me to worship the Lord in the sun, but what about when He takes it away?

There was a man who knew this well. He had everything--family, wealth, and health--and he praised God. But then it was all taken away. This man was Job. God said of him, "there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil". But God allowed him to be tested, and Satan took everything but the man's life.

When Job's property and children were taken from him, he had the opportunity to show his frustration at God, but he chose to do just the opposite. Job 1:21 says, "The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD."

He praised God after all that? Whoa.

Constantly throughout the Old and New Testament, we see that God is good. In creation, everything He created was good. In the midst of the Israelites turning their back on Him, He was good. When He sent His Son to die on the Cross, He was good. God does not change. Even in the struggles that we face, the days that are "gloomy", God is good.

"For the LORD is good; His steadfast love endures forever, and His faithfulness to all generations."-- Psalm 100:5

"Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!"--Psalm 34:8

No matter where you are today, God is still on His throne, and He is still good.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Prepared - ?

According to our Target baby registry, baby Langness' due date is a mere 43 days away. Yikes.

To prepare for the beginning of this parenthood adventure - the lovely part called childbirth - Jordan and I attended a "Prepared Childbirth Class" last week. Although there was helpful information and we learned some good tips for the labor process, I decided that the term "prepared childbirth" is an oxymoron. How can you prepare for something that is different for every woman, especially one who has never had any past experience (like myself)? Seems to me that you just go in knowing what kinds of things to expect and just roll with the punches as they come.

I also decided that when Scripture compares the return of Jesus to childbirth, that's a pretty accurate image. Just as I've learned many of the things to expect during labor and childbirth but yet have no idea what exactly it's going to be like, I believe we can learn many of the things to expect during the last days and Christ's return - yet really we have no idea what it will be like. The Lord has revealed many things to us in His Word - we know there will be famines, earthquakes, wars, indescribable terror and immense destruction on the earth. And yet, how the Lord will bring all these things to pass is still a mystery. We don't know exactly how He shall choose to execute His wrath. However, we do know it is coming.
"Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. While they are saying, 'Peace and safety!' then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober . . For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him." - 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6, 9
We may not know the day, the hour, or how the events will play out. But we can rest assured that Jesus will indeed come again - He promised and He is faithful. We can also know with certainty that whatever happens, however it happens, we are safe in His arms. Maybe, when it comes to the return of Jesus and the events of the tribulation, we simply need to learn what what we can and then cling to Him when the time comes.

So, how prepared are you for the return of Jesus? Do you know Him? Are you telling others how to be prepared? May we be faithful stewards of the time the Lord has given us -- sharing Him until He calls us home or takes us home.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

two pies are in the oven

two pies are in the oven
prepped and prepared by the Master Baker
filled with flavors, rich and unique
as the moments pass, I want to sneak a peek

one of them is further along than the other
one of them is preferred by my mother

both are sure to be good choices
both are recommended by different voices

two pies are in the oven
dreamed and designed by the Master Baker
filled with flavors, better than great
as the moments pass, I'm learning how to wait

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Destination Wisdom

Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm. Proverbs 13:20

Summer 2010 my cousins and I were hiking Arches National Park in Utah. When the trail made a sudden fork, we stopped. There stood two rugged, wooden signs with (confusing) arrows directing hikers. An hour later found us back at that same fork, exhausted, wounded, and feeling defeated. We'd, unfortunately, chosen the wrong path--leading us up a most treacherous climb over loose rocks before finally dead-ending. We hadn't escaped without cuts, bruises, and a few honest fear-for-our-life moments.

An intelligent hiker decides on his destination, then maps his course. He cannot take a path heading an opposite direction and expect to reach his goal. Neither can we. As Christians traveling through life, we will encounter many forks. Proverbs 13:20 serves as a map: destination harm--turn left; destination wisdom--turn right. Choose the destination, then the path will be clear.

"Whoever walks with the wise"... Influences surround you--friends, books, sitcoms, movies, video games, magazine, websites, music. Take inventory of each on of these influencers in your life and categorized them in one of two columns--wise or foolish (no neutral zone!). Do you walk with the wise or fools? Reaching the desired goal of wisdom (instead of 'harm') requires living intentionally--choosing
wisdom over foolishness.

"You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read." Charlie "Tremendous" Jones

Friday, March 23, 2012

My Cup is Overflowing

As I read Psalm 23 today, God blessed me with assurance that He is taking care of me, and that things will be Okay. Then, as I read verse five, He gave me an even greater assurance as He reminded me that I can also say with David

"My cup overflows with blessings."

God really has blessed His children in GREAT ways. Many times, though, we tend to forget about all His blessings He has bestowed on us and focus on the bad things, or what we don't have. We really could drink from our saucer because our cup is always overflowing with God's blessings, if only we saw the spill. And the overflowing blessings could pour out onto other people’s lives if we let it.

Today, I am going to count my blessings, and praise God from Whom all blessings flow as I drink from my saucer, and pray that His blessings would spill onto those around me.

Are you drinking from your saucer today?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

God Has a Purpose

"Wherever you are, be all there! Live to the hilt of every situation you believe to be the will of God."--Jim Elliot

Where are you right now?

Do you ever feel like you're just waiting for where you're really called to be? To be honest, I do. There are many days when I feel like I just want to start my "life-work", what I feel called to, and get frustrated in the here and now. As much as I love being a single college student and working part-time as a nanny, I want to be where "God wants me to be" and where I know He has "big plans for me".

But what is that saying about this time in my life?

Is this time completely worthless? Am I solely here so that I can be better there? I recently (as in yesterday) read a book called God At Work by Gene Veith that speaks of our vocations in life as a believer. He so clearly states, "Our vocation is already here, where we are and what we are doing right now."

So whether you feel like you're set, you're good to go as far as where you want to be in life and feel God wants you to be, or if you're like me--you enjoy where you are, but you are eagerly anticipating the future where God "wants you", or even if you despise where you are and are seriously anticipating getting to the green grass on the other side, God has a purpose.

Job (who we'll be looking at more next week) got it right when he was speaking with God after all of the tragedies of his life, "I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Your's can be thwarted." (Job 42:2) Even in the midst of all of the pain and sorrow Job went through, he knew that God had him there for a purpose. A common verse that is quoted also speaks of this: "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good for those who are called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28).

God doesn't have you here just because you're not ready to be where He wants you to be. He wants you to be where you are right now. He has a purpose. Even in the mundane, tedious, everyday things like going to that job that you're at just to pay for school or doing your homework because you need that passing grade, God has a purpose.

So wherever you are, be all there. And praise God wherever He has you today. You were created to worship the Lord and to love your neighbor (Matthew 22:46-39), and no matter what you're "calling" is, this is what you are called to right now.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Never "Just" An Eye

In case you hadn't noticed or didn't know this about me: I love the ministry of Feed My Starving Children. I love the hands-on participation in global missions that I can be a part of in Minnesota; feeding children throughout the world because of it. I love to know that Manna Pack Rice is only the beginning for missions organizations, hospitals, and orphanages. I love the ministry's desire to obey what the Lord commanded countless times throughout Scripture to feed the hungry. 

This past week, I had the incredible opportunity to spend six hours volunteering with this ministry that is so near to my heart. As I opened the plastic Manna Pack Rice bags and held it under a funnel as ingredients were poured inside, I was struck with the importance of every job along this assemble line. As my fingers and knuckles grew soar from tightly holding those Manna Pack Rice bags closed and sealing them with a vacuum sealer, I was struck with how incredible it is when the body of Christ works together. There are always jobs that seem more "glorious" to us for some reason - maybe it's scooping the ingredients into the funnel, or boxing up 36 bags of Manna Pack Rice in a box. But no job at FMSC is insignificant. As I dwelt upon this truth, I tried to imagine only four people labeling the bags, scooping the four different ingredients, holding the bags, weighing them, sealing them, and packing them. It would take so much more time -- and so many more children would go hungry. 

Each job is critical. No job is insignificant. Not only at Feed My Starving Children, but in the body of Christ as a whole. 
"For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot says, 'Because I am not a hand, I am  not a part of the body', it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. And if the ear says, 'Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,' it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. If they were all one member, where would the body be? But now there are many members, but one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, 'I have no need of you'; or again the head to the feet, 'I have no need of you.' On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable. . ." - 1 Corinthians 12:14-23 (emphasis added)
Although it is easy for us to sometimes feel like the role we are playing in the kingdom is insignificant -- there are no insignificant roles in the body of Christ. Too often we focus on those we see publicly: pastors, teachers, leaders. But where would the body be without those who quietly invest in individual's lives? Where would the body be without those who spend hours in their prayer closet before the Lord each day? Where would the body be without those who encourage and support those in the public eye? 

It is a beautiful thing when the body of Christ works together. May you and I be faithful in doing our parts. And through that faithful service to the Lord, may we impact the world for Him.

Friday, March 16, 2012


A small group of young adults just started going through the Truth Project in our church, so thus begins a metamorphoses in our lives. That is the emphasis of the series, as well as the prayer and focus. God's Word does not return void, but will accomplish what it has set out to do.

The beginning of my transformation is pondering this question.

"Do you believe that what you believe is really real?"

What do I believe? God's Word. It is there that I find Truth. Do I believe that it is really real? I want to say that I do, but if I did, wouldn't I serve God with joy? Wouldn't I give all that I have to help others, who ask with selfish motives? Wouldn't I be more like Jesus? If I really believed that the Bible is really real, I could impact so many lives.

So what is holding me back?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Huh. I Wasn't Expecting That

Back in the summer of 2007, I became intimately acquainted with five of the "I am" statements of Jesus Christ as I taught them week after week after week after week after week (and a couple more weeks) for Vacation Bible School. When we learned about Jesus being the Good Shepherd, my 1st and 2nd graders baa-ed a lot. When we learned about Jesus being the Bread of Life and feeding the 5000, we ate a lot of goldfish. When we learned about Jesus being the Light of the World, there were many flashlights given out as prizes. This past week, I revisited many of those "I am" statements of Jesus as I journeyed through the book of John. My favorite: "I am the resurrection and the life" -- the account of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead.

What I love most about that story comes before Jesus even gets to Bethany, before He talks to Mary or Martha, and before He calls the stinky Lazarus out from the tomb where he'd been for the last four days. What I love most is found in what may be called the "introduction" of the account. Lazarus' sisters send word to Jesus that their beloved brother is sick:
"But when Jesus heard this, He said, 'This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it.' Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when He heard that he was sick, He then stayed two days longer in the place where He was." - John 11:4-6
Did you catch that? Does that not seem somewhat ridiculous to you? Maybe a little bit contradictory? Jesus loved this family, but when He heard about Lazarus' illness, He stayed put. Not just for an hour or two while preparations to depart could be made, but for two whole days. I'll be honest, if I was in Mary or Martha's shoes; if I knew how great Jesus' love for my family was and the close personal connection we shared; I would expect Him to drop everything and come. Now. Pronto. Immediately.

But Jesus didn't.

The result? Lazarus dies. Mary and Martha mourn. They question why Jesus wasn't there earlier to prevent Lazarus' death. And I bet we could assume they might have been a little upset at Jesus for not being there. But the story doesn't end there, does it? Remember what Jesus told His disciples after He first heard about Lazarus' illness? "'This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God. . .'" (John 11:4) To be honest, I think the fact that Jesus brought Lazarus back to life after lying dead in a tomb for FOUR days is pretty awesome. What an incredible miracle to experience, to see, to hear about! Because of this miracle, many people came to believe in Jesus. Maybe more than would have believed had Jesus simply healed Lazarus' sickness.

I believe this story is the perfect example of the LORD's promise towards us in Isaiah:
"'For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,' declares the LORD. 'For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts that your thoughts.'" - Isaiah 55:8-9
Whatever circumstance you find yourself in - if you feel that the LORD is ignoring your cries for help, if you feel like you've been waiting too long, if you feel as if everything's a mess - remember Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Remember that although Jesus loved them deeply, greater glory would come to Him if He let them experience the pain of the valley. Remember that Jesus didn't forget them, and what He ended up doing - although later than they would have anticipated - brought joy, glory, and believers to Himself.

Keep your eyes on Jesus. Always.

Sunday, March 11, 2012


"Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us..." Hebrews 12:1

In response to John Wesley's question, "What is sin?" His mother responded,
"Take this rule: whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, or takes off your relish of spiritual things; in short, whatever increases the strength and authority of your body over your mind, that thing is sin to you, however innocent it may be in itself."
-- Susanna Wesley (Letter, June 8, 1725)

I challenge you to prayerfully meditate on this, asking the Lord to reveal such sin in your own life. Are you willing to lay aside every weight that could hinder you? Will you? Today?

And don't forget the reason...
"Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:2

Thursday, March 8, 2012

God's Perfections For My Imperfection.


Over the last few days I've been frustrated with the definition the world gives for perfection. As I looked at what media and what our culture portrays it only made me realize that I did not measure up. Perfection is beauty and beauty is flawless. For women, this mindset is incredibly hurtful as "perfection" wears a size 2 and is 5'7'' tall. I do not fit this mold. I am not perfect.

But wait, that last statement rings a bell. God has a definition for perfection as well-- His Law. As I look through the law, given in Exodus 20, I realize that there I do not fit this mold either.

So I'm not perfect by the standards of this world, nor in the eyes of God. Great.

However, I have a God who is perfect. And a Savior who lived a perfect life for ME. Hebrews 4:15 states that He was "without sin" and yet He went to the Cross to pay the penalty for these sins-- and since He had none of His own to atone for, He took on the sins of every person who ever was or ever would be to come. Jesus Christ was perfect for us.

And yet, I still try to play that role. I don't like being real with people-- I want them to think I have it all together, that I'm a "good Christian" who doesn't struggle with sin. It's easy to think as believers that we must always be happy, never become angry, always eager to forgive, never afraid, always humble, and so on. And to an extent, it's fairly simple to play the part. But doesn't this defeat the purpose of the Cross?

I'm a Christian, a believer, a SAINT in the eyes of God. But to man and here in the flesh, I am still a sinner. Daily repentance is needed because I am still in need of a Savior.

The world needs to hear this message. It's easy for believers to put up that guard and "have it all together", but this isn't saying anything to unbelievers. The lost must hear that we, as Christians, are still sinners. We, as Christians, are imperfect. We, as Christians, are still in need of a Saviort. My Savior is not, but I still live in the state of imperfection in this life.

"But God shows His love for us in that while we were [and are] still sinners, Christ died for us."

I am still in need of a Savior, even when I appear to "have it all together". We're not fooling God, so we might as well stop trying to fool everyone else. I am not perfect, but I have a God who is.

Monday, March 5, 2012

More Hungry for a Burger or the Word?

Food cravings are strange things. And they have been hitting me with more intensity as of late. Cravings for things I would never normally eat, let alone crave, like Chinese stir-fry; cravings for things that I have always loved, like my mom's homemade pizza and a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie. Unfortunately, sometimes I get hit hard with a craving that cannot be satisfied, like a Quesadilla Burger from Applebee's (my current major craving) or a Pizza Bagel from Bagel Boy. And as much as I attempt to create my own restaurant masterpieces, sometimes the only thing that will satisfy is the real deal.

As I contemplate the randomness of these food cravings, I begin to think of a different kind of craving: a craving for the word of God. Why can I so often crave a certain food but never crave the words of my Savior? Why can I feel the incredible desire - even need - to eat a certain food, but never feel the incredible desire - even need to immerse myself in the Word?

In one of his letters, Peter encourages believers: ". . . Like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation. " (1 Peter 2:1-2) Another translation reads to "crave pure spiritual milk". David also wrote a psalm regarding this craving for the Lord: "As the deer pants [longs for] the water brooks, so my soul pants for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God . . ." (Psalm 42:1-2)

It is my prayer that the Lord would create this longing, this intense craving, for Him and His Word within me. I pray that I would crave His Word more than any food - no matter how delicious it tastes.

"Lord, I want to yearn for You, I want to burn with passion over You and only You. Lord, I want to yearn."

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Answer Can't Be

Watching the news is depressing. Reading the newspaper is depressing. Listening to the radio is...depressing. It seems like the only thing I hear through the media these days is news of everything evil under the sun. Then there's the news from those you know: someone you were close to passed away, another friend was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 18, and the list goes on.

Sometimes it's easy to ask: Why?

Many people in the world ask the question, "Why would a good God let bad things happen?" Honestly, this question has baffled me for years. I used to always point to the fact that we're sinners and there is sin in the world, which makes the world evil. However, I like the answer one of my teachers (Pastor Brent Olson) said in class last week:

“Why does God let bad things happen? We have to bring that question to the Cross. The Cross doesn’t tell us what the answer is, but it does tell us what the answer can’t be. It can’t be that He doesn’t love us.”

We talk about the Cross a lot as Christians, but have you ever really stopped to think about it? I mean, really think on it? The Cross is the ultimate demonstration of love-- "For God so loved (in this manner) the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life."

There is a lot of hurt in this world, and while it is not incorrect to state that fact that there is evil because there is sin, but to sit there and dwell on that gets one nowhere. We need to bring that hurt to the Cross; there Christ took that hurt for us. Bad things do happen in this life, but God is still good. God has given us the hope of eternal life with Him, where there will be no hurt.

The answer can't be that He doesn't love us. That is the one thing that we know for certain in this life. No matter what situation you find yourself in at the moment, you can know with absolute certainty that God loves you. He is still in control and on His throne. And He still loves you.