Wednesday, March 21, 2007


If you're tired of my Amsterdam musings, you should skip this post. :)
I was just reading on Eric Asp's blog that Eva has made it safely back to Amsterdam. She was home in Missouri for about 18 months, raising support to return to Amsterdam as a full-time missionary.

I first met Eva on my first missions trip to Amsterdam. She was there for a one-year "short term" trip, and was our "host" while we were there. I remember that I liked Eva right away. I liked her spirit, her passion for God, and her heart for the city. During that trip, we were supposed to help her plan and execute an art event called "The Hug". I have a lot of event planning/coordinating experience, but there's nothing quite like trying to pull off an event in Amsterdam. One of my most distinct memories of Eva was of her walking into the Zolder50 office and announcing that we had just lost the venue we'd planned to use for The Hug. I remember her walking through the door and simply saying "Well... we don't have a venue." Keep in mind, this was less than 48 before the event was supposed to take place. There were flyers and posters up all over Amsterdam advertising the time and location for The Hug.

I remember appreciating Eva in that moment, because she didn't freak out. (Granted, she may have been freaking out on the inside, but if she was... we couldn't tell). She simply made her announcement and went to working trying to locate a new venue.

Over the last 18 months, I've had a lot of conversations with Eva. She even came to Detroit for a few days, which was great. And I was able to see her briefly during the Christmas season. She's truly been a blessing in my life since that first trip to Amsterdam. Even then, when her time in Amsterdam was limited to a year, she knew she wanted to go back long-term. And now she has. It's so awesome to see a dream like that realized in someone's life. She's worked so hard over the last year and a half, raising support and doing all the things necessary to move oversees. I know it's been tough at times, and sometimes the obstacles may have seemed insurmountable. But she just kept moving forward, one step a time. And now she's back, and I couldn't be happier or more excited for her.

I'll miss our conversations. Talking via email just isn't the same. But it gives me one more great excuse to return to Amsterdam. One more friend to visit.

Congrats, Eva. Welcome home. :)

Saturday, March 17, 2007

are we counting the right cost?

In Christian circles, there's a lot of talk about "counting the cost" of obeying Jesus. I'm not talking about the cost of putting your faith in Him, but the cost of earnestly following Him from that point on. We talk about the sacrifices, the difficulties, the trials, etc... but is that the right focus? Are we counting the right cost?

What does it cost us not to follow Him? We often count the cost of obedience, but how often do we count the cost of disobedience?

Yes, if I choose to fully surrender my life, and to obey Jesus with reckless abandon, it will cost me things. But it will cost me so much more if I don't. It will cost me - first and foremost - my intimate relationship with Jesus. I'll still be "saved" and I'll still have a place in Heaven, but the deep, closely personal relationship that I'm learning to enjoy with Jesus will be lost.

Disobedience will cost me a depth and richness of life that can only be found through following Jesus. I'll miss out on experiences, relationships, and a sense of purpose that comes from a life of faith. I'll miss out on adventures and miracles.

It's a truth that I hope God will remind me of everytime I'm considering going my own way. The greatest cost is not in following Jesus, but in not following.

Monday, March 12, 2007

I had the strangest experience this morning. I was walking along Main Street in Royal Oak, and for a moment, it felt like Amsterdam.

It wasn't early (it was about 10am), but it's apparantly too early for Royal Oakers because the streets were fairly empty. The weather today is cloudy and cool, and the street I was walking on has brick pavement accents that are reminiscent (sp?) of a European city. For just a moment, I experienced the kind of quiet, settled, "at home" feeling that I get on those rare occassions when my feet have the pleasure of hitting Dutch pavement. It was nice. Sadly, though, it was short-lived as I turned the corner to face landscape and architecture that were undeniabely Royal Oak.

I feel as though I dedicate an unusual amount of blog space to Amsterdam and my frequent longings to be back in that city. Maybe it's because the feelings come on unexpectedly and are always very strong. Regardless of the reasons, today I long to be in Amsterdam. To be in a place of brick streets and canals. A place where the conversation is always quiet and the settings nearly always intimate.

Today I want to hear tram and bicycle bells announcing their arrival and warning of their close proximity. I want to sit at Cafe Toussaint, where I can take my time enjoying a bowl of the best tomato soup I've ever had. (you might laugh... but it's true...). Today I want to hear the Dutch language, spoken as only a Dutch native can speak it, and I want to hear it inter-mingled with a dozen other languages.

Today, I want to be the minority. I want to have to ask for directions, interpret signs and menus, dodge an oncoming bicycle. Today I want street performers and Vondel Park. I want to walk along the lighted strip of sidewalk in Museumplein and lead someone else to discover the musical instrument that's built into the pavement. I want to walk through the Red Light District and pray, in Jesus' name, for all those men and women to be set free.

Today I want to walk down the street and feel like I'm home. And today, just for a moment, I did.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

I am my beloved's and He is mine...

For the past couple of weeks, I've been struggling with feeling significant. Actually, with feeling insignificant. I've been feeling like I don't contribute anything of real value. Not at my church, not in my relationships... not anywhere. It's not new. It's something I've struggled with before, and though I always get past and think I've finally beaten it, it always rears it's ugly head again.

I know that some of the feelings have re-surfaced because of my job at my church. Not because of any negative experiences at my church, in fact, the others on staff there are incredible people and with their help I'm continuing to heal. I'm facing demons leftover from experiences at my previous church. It's good that I'm facing them, but it's painful. By the time I left my old church, I was broken. I was convinced that I wasn't a good leader, a good mentor, or even a very good follower of Jesus. It's taken a couple of years for me to recover and for some of those wounds to heal, but like I said... not all of the demons have been defeated yet.

I'm currently going through a study on the Song of Songs. I highly recommend it. It's one of the best studies I've ever been through and has done more to heal my heart and correct my sense of identity that any other study or message.

The other morning, I went through Session 8 of the study. This particular session focuses on Chapter 2, verses 8-17. It was verse 11 that got me: "See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone." Mike Bickle, who teaches this series, spent some time on this verse, talking about how Jesus is talking to His bride and saying to her "Look, we've made it through the winter and we're still together. We went through it together and you still love Me and I still love you." It was a revelation to me. I know that Jesus was with me through this winter season of hurt and brokenness. But I always envisioned Him as being "with me" in that He was around and available. But... in reality, He took hold of my hand and walked with me. I don't know to explain the understanding I came to except to equate it to a married couple who faces some terrible crisis, but faces it together. When the crisis is over, the couple is stronger, closer than they were before.

Coming to that understanding led me to some other, very significant understandings.
Jesus was with me during a season of barrenness and inactivity. I wasn't involved in ministry, I wasn't actively producing any fruit or building into His kingdom. Anything positive that happened was by default and not through any intentional effort. And even though I wasn't involved, even though I wasn't seeking ways to build His kindgom or produce fruit, Jesus was with me. The Bridegroom stayed with His bride. It gave me a whole new understanding of His love for me and my value as His beloved. It gave me a whole new understanding of my significance and my value. My relationship with Him is personal. Intimate. He loves me regardless of how much or how little "fruit" I'm producing. When I "sat out", He sat out with me. We really are in this together. Like Husband and wife.

It was such an intense revelation and understanding. I cried for 1/2 an hour.

Truly... I am my beloved's and He is mine., S.o.S. 2:16