A Gracious Place

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Dead but Faithful

I just finished 1 Samuel, and started 2 Samuel. I love this narrative portion of Scripture, which is easily forgotten as we tend to spend a majority of our time in the NT. The stories are fascinating. The contrast between Saul and David is probably too familiar, and I have actually been pondering that dynamic frequently as of late (thanks to my Brother-in-law, Lyndon who gave me a short, yet insightful book called A Tale of Three Kings by Gene Edwards). However, on my latest reading through 1 Samuel, Jonathan has caught my attention more than any other character. The Narrator has nothing negative to say about Jonathan. Even though he would be next in line for the throne, he accepts the fact that David will be King. He loves David, and is intensely loyal to him. As Saul acts more and more obsessed/neurotic Jonathan continues to be faithful. You start to really like him, and wish that he could be David’s right-hand man (which is actually Jonathan’s wish, too). So, it’s a huge disappointment when you get to the last chapter, and realize that Jonathan dies in the prime of his life in a battle that was doomed from the beginning. My reaction: Why, God? Why does Jonathan get the same fate as his father? He deserves better. He should have been David’s right-hand man. Then I began to realize that I have a lot of “If I do things reasonably right, things will turn out reasonably well for me” in my personal theology. Bad things aren’t supposed to happen to faithful saints. If you follow the rules, God is pleased and gives you the stuff. If the suffering people would just be more faithful, their lives wouldn’t be so bad. Jonathan throws a wrench in that kind of theology. In fact, the lives of all the apostles put a wrench in that kind of theology. John and Emily Haagan put a wrench in that kind of theology (beautiful Christian Father and daughter hit by a drunk, Emily dies, and John is disabled). I do not deny the fact that consequences follow actions (if I did, I would have to throw out a lot of the Proverbs). However, I think it’s time to confess God’s sovereign rule over the universe; it’s time to cling to the promise that, “God works for the good of those who love him…” It’s time to emphasize our eschatological hope, not for a happy & comfortable life, but in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jonathan is my hero, because he was faithful. A tragic death? A waste? That depends on your perspective. God is God, and He answers to Himself. He doesn’t show us what the story would look like if Jonathan had lived. He died young, but he died faithful. Lord, let me be faithful!

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Indiana Jones and Diedra

The Treasury
Originally uploaded by dandeelines.
Since I'm the man, Diedra graciously allowed me to be Indiana Jones this time. This shot is the famous Treasury of Petra. Notice how huge it is! This picture was taken probably 50 yards away, and those two tiny dots on the steps are Jones and Diedra.

Anyway, I spent some time uploading more pictures onto flickr, so if you click on this pic you can see some more of our photos. Unfortunately, I haven't figured out how to put them in order, so they are a bit disorganized. I wish I could sit with each of you and explain them, but I don't know when that is going to happen...so, enjoy!

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Rock of Ages

Diedra and I have been listening to Glad Hymns the last few days, and we just love "Rock of Ages." I thought I'd share it with you. If you are a hymn lover, I recommend this album. Glad's arrangement, interpretaion, and overall musicianship is hard to beat.

Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy wounded side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure;
Save from wrath and make me pure.

Not the labor of my hands
Can fulfill Thy law’s demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and Thou alone.

Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to the cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die.

While I draw this fleeting breath,
When mine eyes shall close in death,
[originally When my eye-strings break in death]
When I soar to worlds unknown,
See Thee on Thy judgment throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee.

The Theological richness of this song puts most of our modern stuff to shame, frankly. When is the last time you heard the two-pronged nature of the Atonement in prose, let alone poetry or lyric for that matter? Christ's atonement accomplished two main things: (1) The propitiation of God's wrath (satisfied God's just demands for the punishment of sin), and (2) The expiation of the sins of the Elect (washing clean forever the sins of the Elect).

The second stanza communicates the desperate plight of the sinner, utterly condemned, and utterly helpless to save himself. Zeal, good works, all the crying in the world; all of these are powerless to save. Salvation lies completely in the hands of the One who will give it as He chooses.

The third stanza shows the sinner, utterly helpless, coming naked to the Savior. It is He who must save, He who will dress us in His righteousness. This imagery is all over the Scriptures! The writer knows the only two options: to be washed in the blood of the Lamb, or suffer eternal death. This isn't about finding a guru with the best ethic on the religious buffet.

The fourth stanza soars into our eschatological hope. We all face death and judgment. But the saint dares not be found on that day boasting of anything he or she considers righteous. Only hide me in the Savior, the One judged on my behalf!

I think the "Rock of Ages" imagery is probably found in the story of Moses and the Rock in the OT. First, Moses was commanded to strike the rock, from which life-saving water flowed for the Israelites. The second time, God commanded Moses to speak to the rock. Moses failed, and struck the rock. Christ is the rock. He is smitten for our transgressions once and only once. Perhaps God's severe judgment on Moses for this action is due to the fact that he ruined the type.

If you're still reading, I commend you. This is a long post. As we face uncertainty regarding infertility and incarcerated tenants we know that this pain is temporary. This song reminds us of what really matters, our horrifying need and the awesome provision of the Savior! Rock of Ages, cleft for me, Let me hide myself in Thee.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Happy Father's Day!

Good Lookin' Dad!
Originally uploaded by dandeelines.
Unfortunately, I don't have a recent picture that includes Matt. But I thought this one was good to show off my handsome father on Father's day.

Happy Father's Day, Dad, to my best man! Thanks for everything! I am the man I am primarily because of your godly influence. Thanks for loving mom, and for loving us. Thanks for teaching us how to work hard and how to love well.

Happy Father's Day, Grandpa! Thank you for training my Dad in the way he should go. Thank you for loving Grandma. Thank you for leading by example. Thank you for passing to us a godly legacy.

Happy Father's Day, David! Thank you for being a great Father-in-Law to me and Father to Diedra. Not to mention, Grandpa to the Yoder boys! Thank you for loving us and supporting us even when that means moving Diedra 1000 miles away!

Happy Father's Day Grandpa Showalter and Grandpa Lehman!

We love you all, and wish we could honor you in person.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Happy Anniversary

Today is an important day to our family. Not only is it my Grandparents (Dad's folks) 60th Anniversary, it is also my Uncle Dan & Aunt Rose Ellen's Anniversary, as well as our fourth Anniversary!

We had a good day. Diedra and I went out for breakfast, and did a little shopping. Diedra bought some flowers for the patio and I bought a half-pound of coffee. Grandma, Grandpa, and Dad called and sang Happy Anniversary to us on the answering machine- precious! We called them back and heard all about how Grandpa surprised Grandma with a new car for their anniversary. I think Grandpa's out to make Uncle Dan and me look bad! :-)

Diedra and I plan to celebrate after church on Sunday; we're planning to try one of these fancy Dallas restaurants.

Happy Fourth Anniversary also to John and Ellen Buerger, our close friends here in Dallas!

Wednesday, June 15, 2005


After having a bit of time to rest, and process some of what has transpired over the last 4 weeks, I thought I’d share some of my musings…

When you think about going to Israel, you may expect to have a spiritual experience as you see the places where Jesus lived, ministered, died, rose, and ascended. Indeed, I’m sure many people do have spiritual experiences. However, what would you do if you arrive at the site, full of expectation, and feel very little if anything at all? Do you close your eyes and try harder? Many of the sites are not at all what you would expect. Christians throughout the ages have built churches on top of many of the important sites, decorating and venerating until one can hardly imagine what it could have been like 2,000 years ago.

I did go to Israel, and I did have a spiritual experience, an amazing experience that defies my attempts to record it or describe it (for this reason, I am so thankful Diedra was able to come along)! The Land, the archeology, the sites do tell the story. They silently witness through the ages that the Bible is indeed true, and that the stories it contains are historical accounts of real things that happened to real people in real places. Standing in the same geography is HUGELY important and helpful. You can read the stories “in color.” Obscure names like Negev, Shephelah, and Hazor now leap off the page. Particularly meaningful to me was the Mount of Olives from where we had an amazing view of the East side of Jerusalem (perhaps a similar view to what Jesus saw when he wept for the city). Here, I was struck with the awesome nature of our future hope. Jesus will return again, this time as the Conquering King!

As profound as these silent witnesses are to the veracity of the Scriptures, I must say that I was more compelled, and more moved by the living witnesses I encountered. Our group was extremely diverse, a fascinating mixture of interesting, even eccentric personalities. As diverse as we were, we were incredibly united together through the bond of Christ. We read an immense amount of Scripture together, we laughed, we cried, we talked, we sang together. Christ is alive today, and the Spirit indwelling believers who causes us to love one another is the most powerful witness on earth. You can go to Israel, and learn a ton, but the face of God is more clearly seen reflected in the lives of believers. For some reason, God in his infinite grace has allowed Diedra and me the profound privilege of experiencing both. Thank you, Lord.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Nursery Rhyme

To Market, To Market
To Buy a Fat Pig
Home Again, Home Again, Jigity Jig

To Market, To Market
To Buy a Fat Hog
Home Again, Home Again, Jigity Jog

Thanks to David, Diedra's Dad for coming up with the rest of the words to our Nursery Rhyme. His mother used to say the "Home Again, Home Again Jigity Jig" part, as my mother still does. He learned the rest of the it from a book of nursery rhymes. Has anyone else heard this poem? Or is it a Northern Indiana original?

Friday, June 10, 2005


Today a brother from my church handed me an envelope containing $261 cash, the exact price I paid to have my broken car window repaired! Can you believe it? What grace, what love. This is the crazy Christian love made possible only by the indwelling Spirit of God. I'm convinced this love is the most powerful and compelling witness on the planet.

1 John 4:7-21
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Home Again, Home Again!

My mother has this little ditty she would say whenever we would return home from a trip, "Home Again, Home Again, Jigity-Jig!" I have no clue what it means, or where it came from, but it makes me smile, so I'm posting it. Mom, maybe you could let us all know if you made that up, or where it comes from...

Anyway, We’re back in Dallas, safe and sound. I think the return trip was easier than the departing trip. I slept better on the plane, which made the flight seem shorter. We flew over 8,000 miles and it only took about 15 hours. Incidentally, we flew Lufthansa, and were very pleased with the service. We are a bit jet-lagged, but feeling better now after a restful night in our own bed. It’s good to be home, but kind of bittersweet. We had an awesome time, and made wonderful friends. However, now we have one more hill to climb, Tell-Laundry. Also, one of our cars was broken into while we were gone, so we’ve got to get that taken care of. Thanks everyone for all your support and prayers.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Last Day

Well, time marches on, and our amazing journey is almost at an end. We finished our tour of Galilee and Jordan and we are back in Jerusalem. Today is our last full day. Right after breakfast we have two exams: unit exam #3 and the Final. Immediately following, we have a tour of the Israel Museum, and some last minute shopping in the Old City. After dinner we'll head to bed since we have to leave at 2:00 AM for the airport (our flight leaves Tel-Aviv at 5:30). There is much to share, and we look forward to showing everyone our pictures. Thanks again, to everyone who helped to make this trip a reality. My Bible study has been changed forever. Much Love, D&D.

Sunset 3

Sunset 3
Originally uploaded by dandeelines.

Sunset 2

Sunset 2
Originally uploaded by dandeelines.

Sunset over Galilee

Sunset over Galilee
Originally uploaded by dandeelines.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Hey Ya'll

Sorry so few postings. The internet availability is quite scarce outside Jerusalem. Here at our hotel in Galilee there is only one computer for about 300 people! So I must be brief, because there is a long line of hecklers behind me wanting to use the computer.

We're having a wonderful time in Galilee. The Sea is sooo beautiful. We've seen many of the sites around the Sea, and read huge portions of the Gospels at the various sites. Very cool. Our Bungalo is about 100 yards from the water, and it faces west. If I get more computer time, I'll post pictures of some fabulous sunsets.

Well, I need to run. I love you all, and miss you. Tomorrow we depart for Jordan, so I have no idea when I will be able to post next. The Lord is good, we are safe and healthy. Don't worry, we'll be home in a week.