EMM-The_Gospel_for_Lonely_People-Leona

The Gospel for Lonely People

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

One afternoon, after a long day of fighting internally, I sat next to a friend who asked, “Rachel, what is the gospel for lonely people?” My mind started sifting through different ways to answer. Sure I knew “the gospel,” sure I knew that “Jesus was enough” and that “he would never leave me or forsake me” but that just didn’t seem like good news. It didn’t feel like the gospel I wanted to hear, this gospel for lonely people that I so desperately needed. It didn’t make me feel any less alone. Later that week, I got lost in the world of charms, wands, and dragons while reading Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire. Harry served as the mirror I needed and I saw myself in the lonely, frustrated character of Harry. He was lonely, even though people cared…

Read More
EMM-God_is_like_the_iPhone-Olney

God Is Like The iPhone

By | Uncategorized | One Comment

iPhones are these beautiful, useful, omnipresent things. They come with a manual that hardly anyone reads. This manual tells you all about the iPhone and the wonderful things it can do. It doesn’t tell you to go tell other people about the iPhone, you just end up doing that because they’re awesome. Some people still stubbornly resist the iPhone, probably due to pride or because they don’t want to learn a whole new operating system. However, the majority of iPhone users don’t find iPhones beautiful; rather, they only find them useful. And they find them useful not so they can “advance humankind” as Apple’s founder intended, but only insofar as they can advance their own comfort and sense of superiority. These often annoying people will also sometimes tell others about the iPhone, but only in a condescending way like: “Ew, why aren’t you smart enough to…

Read More
EMM-No-Leona

No.

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

“No.” she retorted back at me. I cringed. Had I pushed too hard? Was I asking too much? Was I stepping into the realm of busyness and un-usefulness? Did she think I was stupid for asking? Did she think what I was doing was pointless? Did I matter at all? Whoah. As I drove home that night caught in a trap of self-pity, tears streaming down my cheeks and an overflowing sense of uselessness, I caught myself at that thought: Did I matter at all? Did one word, one short response—fueled by who knows what—really cause me to rethink my entire purpose and identity? Yes. I had been caught in the trap of human approval, attaching my identity and my ego to how well or not so well the help I offered was received. Somewhere along the journey of serving and…

Read More
EMM-Hunter_and_Hunted_2-Hardesty

Hunter & Hunted

By | Uncategorized | One Comment

Smooth grey stones, oddities of the sea, and bleached bones—things my son and I stepped over and kicked at in curiosity. This morning we took a walk—but it was much more than that. We were on an intrepid expedition, exploring the ruins of an old coastal mill and a sun-drenched cove. Without thinking about it, born of some leagues-deep impulse, I found myself meticulously scouring the shoreline, the tide pools, and the waters of the copper stream that bled slowly into the ocean. I was hoping to find a Spanish doubloon, some shimmering gem from an ancient freight. I was instantly back in a childlike frame of possibility, a boy on an adventure where every coastline is the likely site of a pirate fight and stolen cache, where every forest harbors some mystery waiting to break the spell of an…

Read More
EMM-Doubt_Deliverer-Arionus

Doubt In The Deliverer

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

Once upon a time, a fearful slave placed her son in a basket. This basket floated down the river into the arms of a princess, who took the boy as her own. Within the walls of the palace, the young boy grew into a man. Though he lived in the palace—he was both a foreigner in his own home and a traitor to his people. Fast-forward several years and one burning bush later, this man returned to the palace of his upbringing—not as a foreigner or a son of the princess but as a leader. This leader demanded the king set his people free. After a fury of blood, frogs, locusts, sickness, famine, and finally death, the king reluctantly granted freedom to the slaves. If you have guessed the identity of this mysterious man, you might be a fan of…

Read More
EMM-Exhaustion-Hardesty

Exhaustion: A Confession

By | Uncategorized | One Comment

I was bone tired. I had been for a long time. But I hadn’t recognized the weight of the fatigue until I had travelled halfway around the world and truly “unplugged” as we often say—a telling term which makes us sound less like humans and more like the machines we hold onto with white knuckles. I can be thick, and often it takes a dramatic moment, something of epic proportions to help me see a glaring truth. This time it happened in Nazareth of all places (and the Jordan, and the Dead Sea—certainly an unforgettable day). Traveling with my wife and some friends on a long-awaited trip to Israel, I found myself in the pale, jade colored waters of the Jordan River baptizing one of my dearest friends, two Nigerian women, and an Asian American pastor. A great way to kick…

Read More
EMM-There_Will_be_Blood-Leona

There Will Be Blood

By | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

This Sunday I went to church and I was tempted to cut myself because this Sunday we sang “Nothing But the Blood,” a hymn that proclaims the all sufficiency and necessity of Christ’s blood to atone for our sins. While we sang as a congregation and took communion together, I was tempted with thoughts of shedding my own blood. As we sang of the “precious flow that washed me white as snow,” I fought back memories of the blood that flowed from the cuts I made on my legs so many times. This is my reality because I have been addicted to cutting (a form of self-injury) for almost 13 years. Cutting can be a very strange addiction to some people. Why cut yourself? Why purposefully harm yourself? Why spill your own blood? I am not a psychologist, nor am…

Read More
EMM-The_First_Avenger-Olney

The First Avenger

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

“The Lord is a jealous and avenging God; the Lord is avenging and wrathful; The Lord takes vengeance on his adversaries and keeps wrath for his enemies.” – Nahum 1:2 This Saturday, I took a mental break from the stress of preparing a sermon series through the R-rated little book of Nahum by going to see Captain America: Civil War with some buddies of mine. Civil War is my second favorite comic of all time and so even though I’ve grown a bit weary of the whole super hero thing (I didn’t even bother with BvS), I knew I had to see this one. I was not disappointed. It explored complex questions through well developed characters, somehow juggling an impossible amount of heroes without feeling bloated. The fight scenes were terrific, the villain was subtle, and the plot was rife with…

Read More
EMM-Baptism-Olney

What Your Baptism Actually Meant

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

Warning, I’m a huge baptism nerd. Yes, we exist. Let’s go. It’s one of those inescapable sayings that has become so cliché in the milk toast nondenominational evangelical world I live in that one would assume it was translated right out of the Bible: “Baptism is a public celebration of a private decision” or maybe “Baptism is an outward expression of an inward faith.” But that expression is expressly not found in the Bible. In fact, when we search the Bible to learn about baptism, a very different picture emerges. And you don’t actually have to wait until the New Testament to see it. So let’s start at the beginning. In the earliest pages of our Bible, a beautiful and orderly creation arises out of a watery chaos. Human beings, God’s children (image bearers), were created last and given the royal task…

Read More
EMM-Come_Home_Weary_Rebel-Leona

Come Home, Weary Rebel

By | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

I had hit rock bottom. Not once, not twice, but several times. I clung to my sin and my addiction and let it drag me down deeper and deeper. I knew God was calling me to be obedient and to face the monsters of past abuse but I refused. I had been caught, I had been graciously pursued, I had been loved, I had been disciplined, but I kept going down. I said things, did things, went places no one should dare go. I desperately needed to wake up and though many people were screaming in my ear, I was not listening. But I digress… Rewind back a few thousand years. We find a prophet of God named Jonah on a boat sailing to some place called Tarshish. Why? Because he was running as far as he could from the…

Read More