Archive for April, 2010

April 26, 2010

Late have I loved You.

I went to church at Redeemer yesterday evening.  The message was about God’s peace as explained by the apostle Paul in Philippians 4:4-12 and towards the closing of the message, Rev. David Bisgrove quoted Augustine.  There’s a song I love by the band Gungor that is based upon this quote, which I didn’t realize until last night.  I’m going to let it speak for itself (though I will note this was originally written with “Thees” and “Thous” :) I chose to post the version that’s a bit easier to follow) and let me just say that it’s ridiculously beautiful…

Late have I loved You, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved You! You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for You. In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which You created. You were with me, but I was not with You. Created things kept me from You; yet if they had not been in You they would have not been at all. You called, You shouted, and You broke through my deafness. You flashed, You shone, and You dispelled my blindness. You breathed Your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for You. I have tasted You, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for Your peace.

How indescribably thankful I am for a God who called, shouted and broke through my deafness.

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April 22, 2010

God is a lot nicer than I am.

Just over a month ago, I was walking to the subway after a prayer meeting and talking with a friend.  It’s funny, the topic of conversation had come up the day before with different friends.  We were discussing how amazingly loving and patient God is with us and how too often we seem to think God speaks to us like we speak to ourselves.  As if He’s shaking His head saying, “Brittany, how many times do I have to tell you?  How long is it going to take you to GET IT? Are you stupid?”  He is not AT ALL that way.  Sure, that’s how we speak to ourselves (not that this is right, mind you).  But then we project that same attitude on God.  We conform Him to our thoughts.  The truth is, the thoughts of a holy, righteous, loving God are nothing like our thoughts.

“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 than your thoughts.”

Isaiah 55: 8,9

I could sit here all day and reference scripture about His love and His kindness and His patience.  But my point could probably be wrapped up in this:

“But You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious,
Slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness and truth.”

Psalm 86:15

God is much nicer than I am.  He is much more loving when He speaks to me than I am when I speak to myself.  Yes, there are lessons to be learned and changes to be made.  But God is my Father and His correction and discipline is done in love.  And the even better news is that He wants to do the work in me, for my good and for His glory.

“For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”
Philippians 2:13

April 21, 2010

orange marmalade.

As I was laying in bed last night, about to fall asleep, my mind went to Ethiopia and all the little details that tend to get lost in the bigger picture.

I was remembering falling asleep in Ambo while next door there was always some sort of party happening and drums being played.  I remembered how early we’d get up in the mornings to meet for breakfast in the hotel restaurant.  I remembered the waiter who would just smile at us and say “eshhhhhi” to everything we said.  I remembered ordering eggs, toast and coffee with milk every single morning.  I remembered the morning they didn’t milk the cow, forcing us to have our coffee without milk.  And I remembered the orange marmalade we’d get with our toast and how delicious it was. Now I’m really wishing I had some orange marmalade on hand.

Isn’t it funny how the little things can be such comforting or heartwarming thoughts?  Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of bigger moments from Ethiopia that still make me laugh, smile and/or cry.  But something as seemingly insignificant as breakfast… I just miss being gathered around the big table with my team, talking and laughing… and eating toast with orange marmalade.

I think I’ll go to the store and buy some today.

April 19, 2010

love your city.

Has it really been two weeks since my last post? Whoops…

If I were to update you on all my goings-on, we’d be here for far too long.  I went to a friend’s photography show at SALT Gallery, celebrated Easter Sunday with a sunrise service in Central Park, went to a NEEDTOBREATHE concert, spent time with friends old and new, went to the Lausanne 12 Cities, 12 Conversations NYC gathering, reunited with some friends from my Venice trip in 2007 and, as usual, cooked and baked up a storm.

I really, really love spring in New York City.  Everything just starts to look alive again.  Everyone is outside, walking in the park or sitting at outside cafe tables.  The park looks absolutely beautiful.  I could wander around for hours on end with no destination.  That actually tends to happen quite a bit!

I could say it a million times but I really just love this city.  I know most of you remember 16-year-old Brittany who couldn’t wait to move to New York.  Sometimes I look back on that and it hits me how cool it is that I’m really here.  As much as I’ve always loved it, God has really given me a heart to see this city reached with His love.  For all the cool, trendy, exciting things happening in New York, it’s still a really dark and hurting city.  Tim Keller (pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church here in NYC) said something interesting at the Lausanne event last week: everything, both great and dark, is magnified in a major city.  The good stuff is really, really good.  The bad is really, really bad.  I’d even say that things that appear “good” can have a dark side.  For instance, success and money drive so many people here.  In the world’s eyes that ambition and drive is good, but at the end of the day there are a lot of really successful and rich people who are totally hopeless and empty.

I feel like I always go back to Ethiopia when I think about that stuff.  I just think about the people there who, by our standards, had nothing and should have been hopeless and miserable.  But they weren’t. They were kind and joyful and selfless.  And then you have New York (and probably most major cities), where we’re filthy rich in comparison to most of the world. We have more than we could ever really need and we’re empty and selfish and discontent.

New York City is full of people who desire more and who aren’t content with where they are, what they’re doing and what they have.  I am so thankful for the hope that I have in Jesus, because without it, this city would probably chew me up and spit me out.  I’m thankful for the family I have in Christ and for the opportunity to reach this city with His love alongside them.  I love the tagline for Redeemer’s City to City website, and feel that it sums everything up pretty perfectly:

LOVE YOUR CITY TO LIFE.

“And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the LORD for it; for in its peace you will have peace.”
Jeremiah 29:7

April 3, 2010

a beautiful day.

I started yesterday morning with pancakes from scratch, scrambled eggs, an apple and a yummy cup of coffee from the french press.  I can think of no better way to start a day off.

I headed into Central Park early in the afternoon and spent some time reading my Bible and listening to music at my favorite spot.  It’s right on the lake and I love the view.

Central Park

After some good alone time, I met up with my roommate Anna and friend Jessey for some coffee at Aroma, the spot that Tori introduced Amber and I to last week.  Seriously, the coffee is so yummy, and so was the sandwich I got- mozzarella, tomato and basil with balsamic vinegar on fresh baked whole wheat bread.  Are you kidding?! Delicious.

Aroma Coffee

At 7pm, Anna and I went to the Good Friday service at Redeemer on the Upper West Side.  I’d been to Redeemer once before for a Sunday service, and Anna’s really been wanting to go, so we went!

Good Friday is such a beautiful reminder of what Jesus did for us on the cross.  I was thinking yesterday about how grateful I am to know that it doesn’t end there.  I would encourage you to go pick up your Bible and read the accounts of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection.  Let’s not forget what Good Friday and Easter are truly about- our crucified Savior and our risen King.

“…and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.” 1 Peter 2:23,24

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1-3