Diverse Excellencies

An idea from a great book, a sale priced canvas, and a couple Saturdays equals this:



There is an admirable conjunction of diverse excellencies in Jesus Christ. 

–Jonathan Edwards

For example, we admire Christ for his transcendence, but even more because the transcendence of his greatness is mixed with submission to God. We marvel at him because his uncompromising justice is tempered with mercy. His majesty is sweetened by meekness. In his equality with God he has a deep reverence for God. Though he is worthy of all good, he was patient to suffer evil. His sovereign dominion over the world was clothed with a spirit of obedience and submission. He baffled the proud scribes with his wisdom, but was simple enough to be loved by children. He could still the storm with a word, but would not strike the Samaritans with lightning or take himself down from the cross. The glory of Christ is not a simple thing. It is a coming together in one person of extremely diverse qualities.

So Christ is a lamb-like Lion and a lion-like Lamb. That is his glory—“an admirable conjunction of diverse excellencies.” This glorious conjunction shines all the brighter because it corresponds perfectly with our personal weariness and our longing for greatness. Jesus said, “Come to me, all who are labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart” (Matthew 11:28-29). The lamb-like gentleness and humility of this Lion woos us in our weariness. And we love him for it. If he only recruited like the Marines, who want strength, we would despair of coming. But this quality of meekness alone would not be glorious. The gentleness and humility of the lamb-like Lion become brilliant alongside the limitless and everlasting authority of the lion-like Lamb. Only this fits our longing for greatness. Yes, we are weak and weary and heavy-laden. But here burns in every heart, at least from time to time, a dream that our lives will count for something great. To this dream Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations. . . . And behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20).

The lion-like Lamb calls us to take heart from his absolute authority over all reality. And he reminds us that, in all that authority, he will be with us to the end of the age. This is what we long for—a champion, an invincible leader. We mere mortals are not simple either. We are pitiful, yet we have mighty passions. We are weak, yet we dream of doing wonders. We are transient, but eternity is written on our hearts. The glory of Christ shines all the brighter because the conjunction of his diverse excellencies corresponds perfectly to our complexity.

– From Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ, ch. 3

I tried to paint a gentleness into the lion and put cool colors behind him, as the lamb has a fierceness and is surrounded by warm colors. It was a fun experience to think for hours about Christ as perfectly both.

*Diverse Excellencies is 30″ by 40″ and is too giant for my apartment so he’s for sale, message me for details  🙂




90% of the pictures on my phone are of the sky.. the phone never captures all of what I see but I can’t stop taking them.  Not really sure what’s so intriguing to me about clouds or sunsets or just how many different blues certain days allow me to see but I love them.  It may sound simplistic but I’m thankful that God has me in a place where I get to see Him glorified in the sunsets, clouds, and gradients of blue pretty often.  Proof:


driving to campus on Thursday night, don’t worry, the light was red.


driving to play volleyball a couple weeks ago


this past weekend at Jordan Lake

“He covers the sky with clouds;
he supplies the earth with rain
and makes grass grow on the hills.”  – Psalm 147:8

I should have read this before going on stint…

“Christians often seem to have the impression that ‘becoming a missionary’ is some form of metamorphosis by which a radical change of nature is achieved. Someone, possibly deeply stirred at a missionary meeting and challenged by the need of some less-privileged people, feels constrained to offer for overseas service. Almost inevitably this ‘offering’ comes to be regarded as a ‘holy call’ to a sacrificial vocation. The whole idea becomes wrapped in a veil of romantic splendour, so that even the candidate may fail to observe the unreality of it. The tendency of congregation and friends well-nigh to hero-worship the missionary only increases the dilemma. Looking at the situation honestly and critically, many may know that, mentally, physically or spiritually, the candidate is unsuitable for missionary service. Some would-be candidates do not even have a burden of prayer for the peoples they hope to serve, nor have they ever sought to bring their immediate friends and neighbours in their own country to a knowledge of their Friend and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Yet they vaguely hope that as soon as they board the steamer or plane to take them to a foreign land, something mystical will occur and transform them into their image of a ‘missionary’. Nothing can be further from the truth! I believe that, at its simplest, a missionary is one sent by God to live a Christian life, usually amongst people other than his own. It is living which counts. This may include formal preaching, but it will certainly include personal relationships, and these often have to be worked out under most trying conditions. For example, many missionaries discover that it is far from easy to adapt themselves to a completely different climate. The native foods may be hard, not only on the digestive system, but also on the aesthetic tastes. The language barrier may constitute a difficult problem, especially in early years. One cannot choose one’s friends. Two missionaries of vastly differing backgrounds, likes and dislikes, may be thrown together for several years with no choice of other companionship. One is often expected to do jobs for which one is not trained, and which may be actually distasteful. Yet in all this, one is called upon to reveal Christ, to live a Christ-like life, to be a ‘missionary’.

It is then that one realizes it is not the journey in the steamer that changes one’s nature. I did not escape from myself by going to Congo. Rather, I came to know myself better, perhaps more as others had already seen me. The ordinary trials and frustrations of life that meet us all were just as real in Congo, and, in some ways, were more pronounced, as there were fewer ways of avoiding or circumventing them. For myself, it was only as I allowed the Lord to show me my own pettiness, or willfulness, or pride, in different circumstances and problems, that I became willing to let the Lord teach me of Himself. ‘Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me’, the Lord said, ‘for I am meek and lowly in heart.’ What happened in the two years following my first taste of success as a missionary doctor shows simply how very much I had to learn of Him, for surely no-one merited the description of Christ-likeness less than I, if it was to involve the phrase ‘ meek and lowly in heart’.

Another deep truth I have learnt, and one we can all cling to, is that God is personally interested in us as individuals and that He will engineer our circumstances and daily lives so that He can thereby make us like Jesus. This takes the sting out of much that could otherwise hurt. He allows various accidents and happenings to occur, which will affect us deeply, perhaps, only so that, through them, we may be drawn closer to Himself.”


– Helen Roseveare  Give Me This Mountain




Sunday was rainy… so I listened to sermons and painted a barn.  Here’s how it went down.

Set up my kitchen studio.  There was an incident involving midnight blue paint and my light beige carpet a few months ago.  I paint in the kitchen now.  I also own 4 different types of carpet cleaner. 




I wanted to take a black and white picture and paint it in not so natural colors. Image








annnnd finished product!ImageIt looks brighter in person but its too late tonight to hone my photography skills. 

Observations from The Big Apple

As I’ve spent time overseas I’ve realized that college students in Asia usually know a good amount more about our country than I do about theirs.  They always ask about Hollywood and New York City, and I always embarrassingly tell them I’ve never visited either one.  They gasp, try to understand what kind of strange American who hasn’t even visited my home country has made it to their side of the world and we move on.  So I decided to use some Christmas money and free time to take a trip with my good friend Monica who has been at my side for everything from middle school art class to learning to drive to seeing 8 Mile when it came out in the theater.  Here are 10 thoughts about our few days there:

1.  This has happened before, but being in a really big city makes me feel small in, I think, a really good way.  Seeing window after window for as far as I can see makes me think about how each window represents a person’s home or work or whatever.  And each of those people has their own hopes, dreams, crushing defeats, etc.  So in a really healthy way, I like that being in a big city rather than the small town I call home, makes me feel like my life is not so important and certainly not ultimate.  In the big picture perspective of how many people live on earth, my life is quite small.


2. I love China.  And I miss it.  But hearing Mandarin, eating Sichuan food and drinking milk tea without 30 hours of travel are wonderful!


3.  One of the first things I would do with a million dollars is hire a driver.  I love being driven around, mostly because I feel like I can do other things while getting somewhere and it feels very productive.  That’s not as related to NYC but it was sealed in my mind as we took a cab here and there.


4. I thought of a Seinfeld reference approximately every 3 minutes.  Every place in the city reminded me of an episode!  “Oh look Elaine, the black and white cookie. I love the black and white. Two races of flavor living side by side in harmony.  It’s a wonderful thing isn’t it?”


5. Magnolia Bakery cheesecake.  Wow.  Worth the cost of flights?  definitely.  I didn’t take a picture, probably because I was inhaling it.

6. Traveling is fun and I love figuring out how to get around, etc.  Its like a big puzzle to solve, but its never as exotic as it sounds.  Struggling with the not fully up and running subway system (thanks to Sandy), finally finding central park just as it got dark and creepy, taking forever to figure out which way to go…. none of those things are fun when they’re happening.  They make cool stories but aren’t as glorious at the time.  (my friend Blair has written a hilarious post on this…)


7. Even with #6 being true, for me there’s something life-giving about doing something new.  I know its cliche to say I love adventure, but I do.

8. If you’re going to travel and take lots of pictures during a cold time of year, at least bring more than one scarf!  I promise there were different clothes underneath my blue coat and paisley scarf.  I promise.

nyc collage

9. Old friends are the best because no matter how differently your lives turn out to be, they still know you.  They know the you that had weird hair in middle school and refused to wear blue jeans for a number of years, and somehow they still love you.


10. I wish I could (would?) see God’s spiritual kingdom more.  Huge structures, intricate transportation systems, tons of new development – these things amaze and humble me.  They’re incredible to look at.  Its too much to take in the whole skyline at once.  I wish I saw the spiritual reality that God is building His Kingdom everyday.  I know that His Kingdom will not fully come until Christ returns but all around us, He’s stacking spiritual stones into peoples’ lives and when we’re all compounded, its massive.  His work is extensive, ongoing, intricate – its everything I love about seeing a big city. I wish I would more readily notice the sure foundation He’s building in a student’s life through struggles, or the groundwork being laid for missions through a group of people in prayer, or someone sharing the Gospel in Central Asia as the leveling of ground for the Kingdom to come.




“The white devil of spiritual sin is far more dangerous than the black devil of carnal sin because the wiser, the better men are without Christ, the more they are likely to ignore and oppose the Gospel.”  – Martin Luther  (in this amazing Commentary on Galatians)


“God has promised to sustain us by his grace.  He has promised us the sustaining grace of forgiveness, so that we can stand before Him unafraid.  He has promised the sustaining grace of enablement, giving us the strength to do what he has called us to do.  He has promised us the sustaining grace of protection, delivering us from evil.  He has promised us the sustaining grace of wisdom, protecting us from our own foolishness.  He has promised us the sustaining grace of perseverance, keeping us until the final enemy has been defeated.  He has promised us the sustaining grace of eternity, giving us the hope of a day when the struggle will be over.”  – Paul David Tripp (Whiter Than Snow)