Moving on

Esteemed reader:

As I close one chapter of my life and move onto another, I invite you to keep following my posts on my new blog, Sojourn.

Thank you for reading and commenting on this blog the past 8.5 years.  The adventures continue at isojourn.blogspot.com.  Onward and upward!


Holy Spirit, Editor in Chief

In our last Sunday evening service, Pastor led a study on prayer and pointed us to Romans 8:26-27:
In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 
I was captivated by the idea that the Holy Spirit—God himself—intercedes for me when I don't know how to pray—or when I do pray but not according to the will of God.  It's like having the world's best editor who will kindly take my rough draft (at all hours of the day or night) and expertly rework it into a thing of beauty and truth.
_ _ _

Holy Spirit, Editor in Chief:
I yield my prayers to you.
Keep what can be salvaged—
More each time, I hope—
And change the rest.

When I demand instead of ask,
When I ask more than praise,
When I praise with trite speech,
Correct my prayers.

When I bring up the old guilts,
Long since forgiven,
Strike them through
With the blood-red flow of Calvary.

When I get the pronouns all wrong,
Replace the I's and Me's with You's.

Revise, refine, rework, reshape.

And in those moments
When doubt and searing pain
Have robbed me of all words,
Holy Spirit, be my Ghost Writer.



What a year.

My personal theme for 2014 was "Learn to labor and to wait" (a line from Longfellow).
I grew in both diligence and patience (Heb. 6:11-12).  Mostly just learned how much I need to learn.

New friendships; also some painful goodbyes.
Buried more friends than in any previous year.  Heaven seems sweeter now.

Recovered from my first surgery, not sure how I would pay for it...
And then got a happy, happy surprise that the majority of my bills would be covered.

Strategic planning at Key Radio... meetings, goals, lots of prayer, some failure, more prayer.

Heard Fernando Ortega and Ravi Zacharias in the Mormon Tabernacle, of all places.  (pictured)
Light shining in darkness.  Still pinching myself.

A part-time job that paid ridiculously high wages for two months.  More pinching.
Another job fell into my lap in the fall, just when I needed it most.

National Religious Broadcasters convention at the Opryland in Nashville...  (pictured)
Ate breakfast with Erwin Lutzer, sang hymns with Joni Eareckson Tada.  Pinch, pinch.

Two witnessing opportunities stand out: one in front of the MTC, the other over BBQ.
Still praying for both people.

The 25th anniversary of Provo Bible Church.  Soli deo gloria.

The world's largest scavenger hunt, right here in Provo.  Is it legal to have that much fun?

Held a workshop for children's ministries workers: a longtime goal.
Spent a day going door-to-door in a polygamist community.  Strange and heartbreaking.
Roughed it at Bible camp for a few days.  Shared my home with an intern for a month.

A supporting church sent a group to spend a July week with me.  Ain't nobody like Kansans.  (pictured)

A few refreshing days with my folks in the rugged majesty of Capitol Reef Nat'l Park.
Another few days at the missions conference of Appalachian Bible College: more refreshment.

Got an accountability partner and a new morning routine including memorization time.
Memorized Colossians 3 and Psalm 25.  All the paths of the Lord are lovingkindness and truth...

Three of the most spectacular Utah hikes I've ever done:
Mt. Timpanogos via Timpooneke  (pictured)
Y Mountain (the true, less-traversed summit)
Grand Wash Trail, Capitol Reef

Good reads included:
Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi
The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom (for the 3rd time)

...And in all of this, the Father's goodness and grace and faithfulness proven each day.
An excerpt from my journal entry, March 2, 2014:


In the Bleak Midwinter

For as long as I can remember, I have lived in places between 37º and 44º N latitude.  That means that Christmas has always been accompanied by cold temperatures, and usually snow.  I savor the change of seasons and I especially like having white Christmases.

It's no secret that Jesus probably was not born in December, and there almost certainly wasn't any snow falling that night in Bethlehem.  But there's something so apropos about celebrating Christmas "in the bleak midwinter" because it reflects mankind's condition.  It is not the weather that was bleak when Christ was born, but our hearts.  Cold, hopeless, lonely, miserable.  Into this bleakness Life and Light came!

But Christina Rossetti said it far better than I.  Her poem came to mind as I took a chilly Christmas Eve jog with this in view:

In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Long ago. 
Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him
Nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away
When He comes to reign:
In the bleak mid-winter
A stable-place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty,
Jesus Christ. 
Enough for Him, whom cherubim
Worship night and day,
A breastful of milk,
And a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels
Fall down before,
The ox and ass and camel
Which adore. 
Angels and archangels
May have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim
Thronged the air -
But only His mother
In her maiden bliss
Worshipped the Beloved
With a kiss. 
What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb;
If I were a wise man
I would do my part;
Yet what I can, I give Him -
Give my heart.


Shocker (an Advent Rumination)

"It's official," a friend posted online yesterday, "Dick Cheney is evil."

He linked to an article titled, "Dick Cheney Defends the Torture of Innocents" about interrogation techniques used by the CIA.  I didn't read the article.  I just sighed at the shocking-but-not-so-shocking mention of more accusations and inhumanity.  And then I closed my laptop and climbed the stairs for bed.

For some reason I awoke at 4:34 AM, and those six words sprang to mind again: It's official.  Dick Cheney is evil.

Only this time, it was not a sigh that followed but the memory of a jarring indictment from Jeremiah 17:9, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked."  Then John 3:19, "Men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil."  And Psalm 53, "Together they have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one."

All of a sudden I was wide awake and forced to admit it: I am Dick Cheney.  My friend could have just as well broadcast to the world, "It's official.  Karisa Clark is evil."  And it would have been true.  Utterly, undeniably true.

The shocker in all of this is not that man is evil.  A thirty-second dose of any evening news show is proof enough.  Wars, greed, degrading speech, the careless snuffing out of human life.

The shocker is not even that I am (and you are) evil.  Probe the corners of your heart with even a small measure of honesty and you'll be forced to admit with me that the dark stuff of sin is, on an individual level, very, very real.

No, the shocker is not the darkness around us or the darkness inside us.  The real shocker is the Light.

It is this: "The Light shines in the darkness" (John 1:5).

And it is this: "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Rom. 5:8).

And it is gloriously this: "God sent forth his Son... so that he might redeem" (Gal. 4:4-5).

This Redeemer did not leave us without hope, caught in the reverseless spiral down into our own wretchedness.  He did not wait for us to come to him, for we could not.  He came to us.

He who is holy, he who is wholly Other, emptied himself of his glory and took the form of a servant.  He dwelled with us, he died for us, and he raised us with himself.  This is what should stagger us.

If you do not shake your head in utter disbelief at least once every Christmas, I'm afraid you are missing the whole point.
I wonder as I wander out under the sky,
How Jesus the Savior did come for to die
For poor, ornery people like you and like I?
This Christmas, I wish peace for the world; I wish goodwill and compassion to replace accusations and inhumanity.  But for you, my friend, I wish you most of all: complete astonishment at Jesus, Emmanuel.