Drowning All Our Knowledge (My Redeemer Lives 4:3)

I like being in the know. Don’t you?

When people bring up topics, I like to think I can keep up with the discussion. The government shut down and economic crisis—of course I know all about it. The plight of children in Sudan—yep, I read about that this morning. The theory that led to the latest Nobel prize for astrophysics— yes, let’s discuss that over coffee this afternoon.

I do not mean to make light of difficult topics, but only to make this point: I do not know all that stuff. In fact, I know very little and I need to be honest about that. We have a problem in this culture that we think we need to know everything. We open our mouths wide instead of admitting that we need to do some checking or that astrophysics really doesn’t interest us, and that’s ok. By admitting we don’t know or aren’t knowledgeable about a topic, we can actually begin to grow and that, my friends, is where the cool stuff really starts.

Today we’re going to drown all our knowledge, so that God can teach us.

Name three things you know very little about:

Mine would be something like…how to speak Mandarin, anything related to lichen, and who is hot right now in Hollywood.

Now, name three things you know quite a bit about:

For instance, I, Heidi, know a fair amount about theological study, the impact of trauma on individuals, and how to cook supper with only a few ingredients that look like they came from a basket on Chopped.

What are your topics you bring out at a dinner party? That kind of thing.

Now notice this…how little you actually know.

Even though I am a theologian, I know only a drop in the bucket about the Bible. Even though I have more than one degree in psychological theories, I am far, far from an expert on any of them; and even though I can make food appear on the table for my family, I still don’t understand what baking powder or baking soda are and how they make baking work.

We all need to learn so much more.

A man named Nicodemus learned this lesson in a conversation with Jesus in John 3:1-15. Note, this is the same follower of Jesus that later (recorded in John 19) went with Joseph of Arimathea and wrapped Jesus’ body in burial clothes and laid Him in the tomb —

Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” 10 Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? 11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony. 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

Nicodemus was a Pharisee, so he really knew stuff, a lot of stuff. Jesus Himself tells him in John 3:10 above,

 Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things?

He is still in the dark, really, even though the manuscripts of the Old Testament with the prophecies of who Jesus was and what He came for were all laid out before him. How often are we the same way? Everything about Jesus is laid before us. We think we know so much, but really, we’re just babies of the Truth.

Jesus has a different answer though, and, just like Jesus, He gives the answer before He states the problem, so that it’s in our hands, just waiting for us. John 3:5-6 —

Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

God drowns everything we think we know, once, in our baptisms.

We die and rise to a new understanding, a new Spirit inside our bones. This resurrection process in baptism brings light into our darkened understanding. We look at the world from a new vantage point—the lens of the believer. We fix our eyes on Him, and He gives us Life eternal.

1 Peter 1:3-4 intricately links our baptisms with this rebirth into resurrection hope —

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you…

We think we are born to learn and grow and gain knowledge and share knowledge and be knowledgeable people, but in Christ there is a new reality.

We are born to be born again.

Twice born means hope. When we remember our baptisms, we remember the resurrection and the resurrection to come.

We know so little in our tiny time and place in history, but God has a bigger plan. We know what we need to know here, for His work in us. We learn and grow each day. We admit when we don’t know something so that we can learn more and grow more and glorify Him with all knowledge.

Then, one day, when He comes again, and we are resurrected with Him, we really will be Know-It-Alls with full knowledge and understanding of all Christ is as Savior and King.

To Him be the glory in the light of our knowledge and in light of just how little we really know.

Dear College Student: Be Brave

Dear College Student,

Be Brave.

This is a big thing you are doing, not a little thing. Jumping head first into the world. Entering the unknown, in order to know and be known deeper; learning, growing, becoming a truer version of yourself.

Some days might be scary. Other days might be lonely. Some days will be filled with laughter, so full and rich, that you’ll beg for more days, just like that one. You’ll crave more of that, want more – stronger relationships, more authentic conversations, more vulnerability and less doubt.

You’ll look around you and know suddenly that these are the people that you’ll stand beside to watch them marry, you’ll walk together through success and failure, you’ll hold each other’s babies. You’ll cry with them when their jerk boyfriend leaves them, even though you never really liked him anyway. You’ll comfort each other with Doritos and Halo Top, when life sucks the heart and soul right out of you. You’ll cheer and jump when someone gets accepted to something that seemed impossible and elite.

But again, none of it will be easy. It will be good, but very rarely will it be easy, and that can be more than a little disconcerting.

It’s time to be brave. Braver than you’ve ever been.

It’s not actually about reaching the skies. Don’t worry, GPA matters, but people matter more.

Be brave.

Care about truth more than being right.

Set some boundaries. Give of yourself, but only give yourself away to Jesus. Care for friendships, stay up late, do crazy things, but know your limit.

Be brave.

Tell boys, “No.” Tell girls, “No.” Only drink when it’s classy, and stop before you think you should. When situations feel not-quite-right, they aren’t. Get out, don’t do it. We all have a reverse button. Use it.

Be brave.

You have one life and one body, be good to it. Eat good food, three times a day, plus snacks. Workout, join intramurals, or be your athletic self. Get sleep. Stand in front of a mirror and tell your body it’s doing a great job. Don’t berate it. Speak the truth in love to yourself. Make sure you don’t creep out your roommate while doing it.

Be brave.

Some friendships may die. Some of the first people you meet may be your friends forever, but it’s ok if your first roommate isn’t the best one, and it’s ok to let a friendship go when it doesn’t bring out the best in either of you. God is always bringing new people into our lives, some things are worth holding on tight to, while some just aren’t. That’s ok.

Be brave.

Decide what really matters today. And if it takes some time to figure it out, that’s fine too. But don’t let professors tell you what really matters. Don’t let Joe Schmo tell you what you believe in.  Surround yourself with people who have questions, but are looking for answers, not those who believe they have them already. There is a difference between believing in something and being a know-it-all.

Be brave.

Listen for and follow people who share hope. Watch out for people who claim zeal with no mercy. Something is off. That’s a warning signal. People who cry mercy, but have no truth, that’s destructive too.

Think for yourself.

Ask often, “Is this truth in love and love in truth?”

Be brave.

Do not leave your Bible at home. You are going to have to open it, even if you never have before. If you don’t own one, go buy one. I’ll send you one, for that matter! You need a foundation, or everything you think you’re building will crumble. Look in the Word of God for the answers. Find pastors and campus ministries. Go to church, not just for the message, but to be part of the people of God. Seek, find, knock, and pray. Otherwise this world will seem so hopeless, so broken, so lost, that it will physically hurt.

Be brave.

Hold tight to Jesus. He’s not worth giving up – for a boy, a class, a job, a reputation, or a moment.

Be brave.

It’s hard. It’s work. It’s good. It’s new. It’s vibrant. It’s awesome.

Walk brave.
Think brave.
Be brave.
These are some of my favorite college students to be brave with.

* …for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord… 2 Timothy 1:7-8a 


For every Christian teacher – Thank You!

Kindergarten is a big transition for any kid. For our littlest, it was an epic transition.

I’m not sure who was more scared- me or him. But, you know, some things in life you bite the big one and suck it up. You hold on to your hats and pack that Star Wars backpack and say jolly things like,

“It’ll be great!”

“You’ll make so many friends!”

“I hear there are markers, and snacks, and three recesses!”

You’re over-happy-words fall flat, receiving only the grouchy look of a 5-year-old barely containing his rage at a world that is too noisy, too scratchy, and just a lot of work.

Enter Ms. Tinkey, and Mr. Kumm, and Mrs. Leonard, and Mrs. Baer and all the people who make the world a better place to be, one child at a time.

Zeke wasn’t just unsure of new places and new faces. For him, this was torture. Going to a new place, having a new routine, was like signing up to listen to nails scraping down the walls of the chalkboard, the sound of dial up internet stinging your eardrums, every moment, every day for the first month and a half of school.

This is sensory overload on steroids.

And I came with my delightful checklist.

“So, he’s gluten free and we try to avoid food dyes, especially the red ones. Sorry.”

“He hates holding a pencil, so if there’s an assignment he can use a marker on sometimes, that helps a lot. Sorry.”

“Sometimes he just needs a moment. Or 12 moments. Or 42 moments. I’m so sorry.”

And to everything I recited, Ms. Tinkey smiled and said, “Yes! We can work on that!” with actual joy. Not just fake niceties, but compassion and perseverance shining through. You see, some kids don’t receive services or have special classrooms, but they need a little extra touch of care. Teachers and helpers throughout the building made it their personal mission to turn that scared, grouchy face into a smiling, happy boy, who wanted to be there. A smile, a high five, the ability to turn down a high five if desired, persistent affection…all these things go a long way for spectrum kids, indeed, for any kid.

This, my friends, is the Lutheran School difference. The staff at Zeke’s school don’t get up to teach and shape the world every day.

They get up to show Jesus to every child every day as well. 

I’m pretty sure that they get tired. I’m sure they get frustrated. I’m sure they wonder if it makes any difference at all.

This blog would simply like to say yes, yes it does.

Your work in reaching in to little hearts, to growing hearts, is vital for my family and for countless other families out there. The world is a better place not because you showed up to work, but because you showed up in their lives. You are woven into the fabric of who they are becoming as teachers and leaders and workers in the kingdom of God and the body of Christ.

You make an eternal mark by being you.

Thank you.

A special kindergarten teacher once taught us this fun little song, that fits perfectly here…

Keep loving on those kids. Keep supporting those families. Keep sharing Jesus. Keep being you.

Happy National Lutheran School’s Week!
*as always, no Zeke’s were hurt in the making of this blog. His permission was asked and granted to share his story.