Sunday, February 27, 2011

classic Saturday

From Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ, written by Madame Guyon (1648-1717).

Guyon wrote about two ways to meet Jesus.

She calls the first way "praying the Scripture" and advises her readers to stay in a short passage of Scripture until the reader has sensed the presence of God, felt the heart of the verse(s), and turned it into prayer.

Guyon calls the second way "beholding the Lord". She encourages the reader to set aside time to sit in the presence of God, using Scripture only to help get our minds off outward things and turned in to the deep parts of our being.

In her words, "The Lord once promised to come and make his home within you (John 14:23). He promised there to meet those who worship him and do his will. The Lord will meet you in your spirit. It was St. Augustine who once said that he had lost much time in the beginning of his Christian experience by trying to find the Lord outwardly rather than by turning inwardly."

Madame Guyon wrote of the importance of Scripture to help us tune out the world and tune into the presence of Christ. I don't know about you, but it's not possible for me to go long without Scripture before I feel disconnected from Christ. His Word really is living and active. Do you find this true for yourself as well?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

undoing racism

I'm in a 2 1/2 day workshop at UNI this week called "Undoing Racism" brought to us by the People's Institute for Survival and Beyond. Critically important conversation this first day regarding institutional racism and its effects.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

classic Saturday

Francis of Assisi (1182-1226)

In today's selection from Devotional Classics (edited by Foster and Smith), St. Francis had been called by God into a life of devotion to Christ, but he was experiencing angst as to what that call entailed...whether he was to give himself to continual prayer or to preach publicly. The text says, "He wanted very much to know which of these would please our Lord Jesus Christ most. And as the holy humility that was in him did not allow him to trust in himself or in his own prayers, he humbly turned to others in order to know God's will in this matter."

Oh the goodness of God through His fellowship of followers. I'm grateful today for all of the spiritual friends God has given me who offer to listen to my life and who provide counsel that helps me develop character and discern at the crossroads. My life is so much richer because of these friends! Can you think of a few friends who help you to better know God and God's will?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

the new jim crow

I'm in a book discussion over the book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander. The group met today and has read and discussed through chapter 3. All I can say is that I'm deeply challenged and thoughtful by the content and implications.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

classic Saturday

Today's Devotional Classic author is Sadhu Sundar Singh (1889-1933?). Sundar, a native of India who was a devout Sikh, had a radical conversion to Christ as a teenager. This excerpt is from his writing entitled With and Without Christ.

"We ought to make the best possible use of God-given opportunities and should not waste our precious time by neglect or carelessness. Many people say: there is plenty of time to do this or that; don't worry. But they do not realize that if they do not make good use of this short time, the habit formed now will be so ingrained that when more time is given to us, this habit will become our second nature and we shall waste that time also. 'Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much.' (Luke 16:10)

Now it is right that every one of us should fulfill in our life the purpose of our Creator and spend that life for the glory of God and the good of others. Each of us should follow our calling and carry on our work according to our God-given gifts and capacities. 'There are diversities of gifts but the same Spirit.' (1 Cor. 12:4,11)

The same breath is blown into the flute, cornet, and bagpipe, but different music is produced according to the different instruments. In the same way the one Spirit works in us, God's children, but different results are produced, and God is glorified through them according to each one's temperament and personality."

2010 census

Who lives in our community? Yesterday's paper came out with local and regional census data-

Waterloo, Iowa's population: 68,406 (loss of 341 people since 2000)
Cedar Falls, Iowa: 39,260 (increase of 3,115 people since 2000)

Black Hawk County: 131, 090

African-Americans in Waterloo: 10,606 in Cedar Falls: 814
Hispanic and Latino population in Waterloo: 3,827 in Cedar Falls: 771

Census data show that Iowa's population rose by 4.1 percent from 2000 to 2010 to just over 3 million people.
Data shows that rural areas are losing population as people move from rural to metropolitan areas.

You can read articles related to these census findings at :

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

third culture

"Being third culture means having the mindset and will to love, learn, and serve in any culture, even in the midst of pain and discomfort." This is what our staff heard Dave Gibbons (pastor of Newsong Church) say in a video segment we watched yesterday during our staff mtg.

One thing Gibbons said is that Third Culture focuses on the misfit not the masses. Third Culture loves and serves those on the margins. And God loves to use the fringe to lead movements. Gibbons also talked about how weakness guides us more than strength and how relationships trump vision.

I was thinking about my experiences at Harvest Vineyard, our partner church. I was there on Sunday for worship and to teach a class to students. As I walked into church, I passed through a whole crowd that spends the worship hour having fellowship with one another outside while smoking cigarettes. I walked through another layer of folks who feel safest to hang out at the coffee tables and listen to the service from another room. As I walked in to the sanctuary hearing worship music, I watched one member who was close to the front dramatically and physically respond to the worship music. I saw an old youth group member of mine who just got out of jail. Less than a year ago, I sat next to a man who, with alcohol on his breath, propositioned me and handed me a piece of the bulletin with his phone number on it and said sternly "call me" as we came to the end of the service. This group has many of what our community would label the "misfits". The poor, the addicted, the unemployed, the homeless, the struggling. And what have I discovered in their midst over the past few years?

1. I'm a misfit, too. The Holy Spirit has helped me to understand my brokenness and weakness in the midst of this group better than anywhere else. Maybe it's because there's such an openness and vulnerability to our struggling, sinful condition among those who don't do much to mask it. Whatever it is, I have owned and become more honest about my own heart because of them. And that leads me to the next discovery.
2. God's grace. I experience God's grace and a great dependence on the Holy Spirit to fill me and change me. When you're with those who have come to the end of themselves, you realize there's only One who can supply and transform.
3. Relationships really do trump vision. I've learned that in the midst of building relationships and beginning to understand those we have seen as "other", God gives a new vision grounded in those relationships. He reconciles people and binds them together to realize a new vision together. It's new wineskin.
4. God really does use the fringe to lead movements...
- God is drawing people to Himself through Harvest. It is growing, and becoming more diverse. More "mainstream" people are attending. There's a growing African-American presence in the congregation. It is reaching about 200 people on a Sunday, and there are 3 other mainline churches in the neighborhood that are in decline.
- Harvest is a lead church in Love Cedar Valley. Of all the churches that participate in Love Cedar Valley, Harvest has the greatest percentage of their congregation participating in the event.
- Harvest purchased a house in the neighborhood to rehabilitate. With cash. And their hope is to meet the need for transitional living quarters for men in the community.

Every day that I spend in the margins, I am keenly aware of the upside-down Kingdom of God. I am keenly aware of who I am and who God is. Our Luke reading for today is fitting....

Luke 5:30-32 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, "Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and 'sinners'?"
Jesus answered them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."

Sunday, February 6, 2011

baffled in Cambodia

Here's a final post from friend Molly Hagen as she finishes her time at Youth With A Mission in Battambang, Cambodia:


For the last 9 months of my life God has baffled me. Completely.

Here in Cambodia I see good fruit coming out of our staff everyday. Not that everything is perfect, but I see God's transforming ways in people more clearly then I have ever seen before. A year ago, I asked a woman who had lived and worked in Asia for 30+ years how she kept going she said, "Molly, it's simple. Don't stop believing in people and don't stop preaching the Gospel" As I look at some of our amazing Cambodian staff that have been with us for 2, 3, 4+ years I am so thankful that God helped me to see the gold inside of them and encourage and challenge them to keep going. I know I'm a bit one sided, but we might have the best staff in the entire world in Battambang. If you don't believe me, come and see for yourself! Really, come to Battambang!

As my time in Battambang winds down God is helping me to see how it really is God who builds the house. I've seen things be successful and I've seen things fail over the last 4 1/2 years in Battambang, but I'm just thankful for the privilege it has been to be a part of it all.

January was a packed month! Our Phase 2 school came to an end. We finished the school by constructing a 4-classroom building for the Youth Center, they are putting the finishing coats of paint on it right now! And also doing mini-Discipleship Training Seminars in some of the surrounding churches. It was so encouraging to hear the thoughts of the young Cambodians when the school ended. One 19-year-old guy said, " I usually only like to do what I want to do, but Phase 2 has helped me to learn how to serve and have joy when doing it." that comment was like music to my ears!

Baffled at how being a servant is truly the best way to live

We have had some really big, long meetings in our Leadership Team. I am the first person to step out of our Base Leaders Team so we are trying to figure out how to fill my shoes (actually flip flops, we don't wear shoes here!) It's been a sad/happy process. As I step out of this leadership role I'm creating multiple spots for other leaders to fill and take on as their own. We are actually creating a whole ministry group of people to take over some of the work I've been doing. They are going to do such a good job!

Baffled at how much God has done over the last 4 years with just a simple girl like me.

And the last week of January was by far my favorite. A team from theBridge Church in Ottumwa, Iowa, has been supporting some of our key Cambodian staff for a few years now. A group of 11 people came out to Battambang to work alongside us for a week. We built a playground, did clinics in villages where there is no access to medical help, played with hundreds of children, taught in some of our staff training, had our first music night at Cafe Eden, lead worship for us and just spent time with us! It was so exciting how God used them here in Battambang, but also how they received things from God at the same time. Connections with groups of believers like this is key to continuing to advance the Kingdom not only here in Cambodia but in places like Ottumwa, Iowa.

Baffled at how in one week someone's life can completely change because they let God use them.

But that last week of January wasn't all work, because Kellee, my boyfriend, came to visit me! After nearly 5 months of skyping, he came! But I'm very happy to tell you all that he is no longer my boyfriend, but my fiance. Yah!!! One afternoon, we paddled down the river in a kayak, found a place to stop, got all muddy jumping out of the kayak, he read me a poem, got down on one knee and proposed! So I have this pretty little ring around my finger as I type this update to all of you!

Baffled at how following God's call to a dozen different nations has led me to love a man I met when I was 12 at church camp!

Baffled at how good it really is when you trust and obey God.

So I'm going to keep on trusting and obeying God.
I'm closing up this season in Cambodia the end of February and will be in Iowa on the 26th. Many of you know I will be moving down to Ottumwa Iowa to get my RN and then see where God leads for further education. But by the time school starts I will no longer be Molly Hagen, because in June I will become Molly Van Hemert! (and the crowd goes wild!) :)

I have a million things you could pray for, so here a few...

1. To finish well. I'm teaching "Hearing God's Voice" in our DTS Feb. 14-18.
2. Two nursing friends are coming to do some clinics with me, pray that we would be able to help people with their health, but also know truth.
3. I'm going to be wife! I've never been a wife, pray that God would help me!
4. I need wheels. That's right, I'm leaving my bicycle behind in Cambodia. If you know of a lonely car that needs an owner, email me!

Thank you for taking time to read this and I hope you are having a great day!


Saturday, February 5, 2011

classic Saturday

An excerpt from Conversion, written by E. Stanley Jones (1884-1973):

"Conversion is a gift and an achievement. It is the act of a moment and the work of a lifetime. You cannot attain salvation by disciplines-it is a gift of God. But you cannot retain it without disciplines. If you try to attain salvation by disciplines, you will be trying to discipline an unsurrendered self. You will be sitting on a lid. The result will be tenseness instead of trust. 'You will wrestle instead of nestle.' While salvation cannot be attained by discipline around an unsurrendered self, nevertheless when the self is surrendered to Christ and a new center formed, then you can discipline your life around that new center- Christ. Discipline is the fruit of conversion-not the root.

This passage gives the double-sidedness of conversion: 'As therefore you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so live in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith' (Colossians 2:6-7) Note, 'received'-receptivity; 'so live'-activity. It appears again, 'rooted'-receptivity'; 'built up in him'-activity.

The 'rooted' means we take from God as the roots take from the soil; the 'built up' means we build up as one builds a house, a character and life by disciplined effort. So we take and try; we obtain and attain. We trust as if the whole thing depended on God and work as if the whole thing depended on us. The alternate beats of the Christian heart are receptivity and response- receptivity from God and response in work from us.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Jesus and justice

Our church is reading the Gospel of Luke together in bite size chunks over the course of 89 days. We've only been at it four days, and I've been amazed at a couple of passages that speak to me so loudly of the strong tie between Jesus and doing justice.

In Luke 3, John the Baptist is preaching to the crowds coming to be baptized about 'producing fruit in keeping with repentance'. He goes on to say, "The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire." When the crowd asks John, "What should we do then?", this is how John answered:

"The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same."

Tax collectors also came to be baptized. "Teacher," they asked, "what should we do?"

"Don't collect any more than you are required to," he told them.

John didn't just say, "Pray and go to church," or "Confess your sins and believe in Jesus." His message of repentance calls for action that turns away from sinful, selfish living, toward Jesus and a life of compassion and doing justice.

And in Luke 4, when Jesus returned to his hometown and stood up to read in the synagogue. He could have chosen from several prophesies from the Old Testament, but he chose Isaiah 61, a passage that oozes with action, compassion, redemption, justice.

"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."

God clearly speaks through these Scriptures to me that his call for me to be a Christ follower is a call for me to follow Christ in his work of redemption and justice.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

what topics are on your "learn list" this year?

At the CCDA conference this past year, Immigration Reform was a hot topic. After listening to a few people speak about it, I determined that I would get closer to the issue by at least learning more about it this year. And it always helps to hear personal stories from people involved in the struggle. That's why I'm going to UNI on February 8 to watch the premiere of a documentary called "abUSed: The Postville Raid"; director, Luis Argueta. Read more about this here in the article that was in last night's paper.