The Vine #005- Bill Adams

When disaster or hardship strikes, the first question we often ask is “Why?” Doubt floods into our mind and mouth, and whatever faith we have starts to falter. But there is something to be said of acknowledging God’s presence in the midst of chaos. It is not that we can understand or rationalize the difficulties before us, but there is certain beauty in the gentle profession that God is good and knows all. Confessing that God is God, and we are not. Bill Adams, who we interviewed for our newest Vine interview, understands this confession and suffering well. As director of the Disaster Response Services of World Renew, his story is one that doesn’t simply gloss over pain but one of silent faithfulness to God’s sovereignty. Come witness the calm in the storm.

The Vine #004- Kent Busman

“And God saw that it was good”–five times Genesis 1 reminds us that God created the world in his goodness and likeness. As mankind, also created in God’s image, we are called to love people, yes, but creation as a whole too. Kent Busman, the Director of Camp Fowler and youth pastor, may be of the few who really understand that. We had the honor of interviewing Kent for our fourth Goodberry Vine interview. His story is brimming with testimony of God’s love for creation and his call for us to be stewards of this precious gift. Come bear witness!

The Vine #003- Mary Hulst

And they just keep coming! We are on Vine interview number 3 now. Just published, hot and pip’n out of the Goodberry oven. This week we had an incredible conversation with Calvin College chaplain Pastor Mary Hulst. Her life journey is a true, resounding Amen to the grace of God. Pastor Mary truly knows to “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and to mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12). Come see for yourself.

The Vine #002- Ruth Olsson

And just in no time, we have another Vine interview! This week we chatted with Ruth Bell Olsson, HIV/AIDS activist and humanitarian. She’s all about love. Not the mushy, there-are-no-rules kind of love. Real love. Love that sees brokenness, acknowledges it, but does not shy away from it. Just as Jesus ate with sinners, prostitutes, and nobodies, Ruth does the same. Come read her story and witness her beautiful heart.

The Vine Project

We’d like you to meet someone.

She loves meeting new people; she’s a great listener. Making connections and networking are her strengths. Portrait photography and good writing are her soft spots. Passionate for Jesus. She loves long walks on the… what?

Well, not really ‘her’. My apologies for wandering down nonsense lane a little too far.

But we promise you will definitely want to meet this…thing. It’s a new project that we here at Goodberry are bringing to you. We are really excited for you to meet The Vine.

Now, it isn’t all lies. We created The Vine Project to meet new people and to be good listeners. We certainly want to create genuine connections and a dynamic network. We appreciate good craft; images, writing, and the like. We love Jesus. But it’s more than that. We want to know how others (you) love Jesus and are following him in their lives.

The Vine is our new, ongoing collection of interviews with members of Christ’s body, living the gospel out in real life and making impact in the world. As we tell each story, we hope our vision of knotted roots, intertwined minds, clasped hands, and counter-cultural interdependence will come alive. We want to err on the side of togetherness rather than aloneness. Join us in celebrating the stories of how God moves in our lives. Come share your story.

Our first interview was with author, servant, and family man Clare De Graaf. Check it out and share your thoughts!

Solemnized Independence

We often forget that freedom comes at a cost and is never quite as free as the word or world might suggest. With bloodshed and heartache, and under the suffocation of oppression, freedom is paid for in full by those who fight for it. Our Fourth of July’s may be filled with joyous ruckus and the brightness of bursting fireworks (not to mention the picnics, and fried foods galore), but under the red plaid tablecloths, clouded, is the costliness of it all.

In my reading as I was working on this post, I came across a beautifully written letter that forefather John Adams had penned to his wife Abigail on the Independence of the colonies (cue inspirational music):

“I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty; it ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”

And “the great anniversary festival” it has indeed become. “Pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations”– it is almost as if America has obeyed Adams word for word in celebrating Independence Day. But why I particularly enjoy this segment of Adams’ letter is not his surprisingly accurate prediction on celebratory rituals. I savor these words because they put forth the very heart with which we should approach our independence.

I love the words “solemn acts”, and “solemnized”. (Excuse my fondness for words; English major speaking here.) Solemn, very much like another favorite word of mine ‘sobering’, seems to always give a nice grey feel to the air. Serious. Grave. Somber. Anti-smile. But, as a matter of fact, solemnity just claims formality and ceremony, even awe-inspiring grandness. It doesn’t always mean funeral-style. When Adams writes that “it ought to be solemnized” he is calling us to remember, honor, and celebrate with dignity–for how much sacrifice and death has paved the way to this joyous occasion.

Reflection on Adams’ letter gently reminds me of another that sacrificed for independence. Christ gave His life as a costly sacrifice for the liberty of my heart. My freedom (deliverance)–from nagging despair, from persistent sin, from overwhelming inability that pushes me to apathy–was bought at the price of Christ’s life. Costly and precious. Just as much as I live life in celebration and freedom, I must commemorate in solemnity, with dignity and remembrance, the irreplaceable value of this independence.

A blog I passed through in my investigation labeled the Fourth of July as “America’s biggest secular holiday”. But the common framework of the narrative of freedom, in America’s history as well as in our lives as believers, speaks a language far from “secular”. This powerful occasion of celebrating the American identity is also worth remembering as a part of the larger narrative: God’s faithful pursuit of His people.

Let us “uncloud” this special day. Here’s to a Fourth of July remembering the costly and solemn path that led to this nation as we know it. Here’s also to remembering the grace of our Father who paid the price, by His only son, granting us the greater freedom of our souls.

In Memoriam

“Peace is more important than all justice; and peace was not made for the sake of justice, but justice for the sake of peace.”

-Martin Luther

This morning, we salute and remember the brave and true patriots who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedom, liberty and for justice. There are no words that can thank them adequately for such sacrifice.