Wednesday, January 29, 2014


In Chapter 6 of “Face to Face with God” by Bill Johnson he talks about the idea of waiting patiently. He says that sometimes people (not you, but other people) talk about waiting for God to move in a very passive sense. In the Bible, the majority of references to waiting means “writhing in pain, as in childbirth,” or “whirling in the air in dance.” Tom Petty knows his stuff. The waiting is the hardest part.
            When we truly are waiting on God to answer, it is not a passive, patient time. There is no peaceful, relaxing moment in childbirth and I imagine not much in dancing. Bill goes on to talk about the intense focus needed when we are waiting on God. No one would describe a woman in labor as “waiting” for the baby to be born. When I was in labor, I could not concentrate on anything else. In the later stages, I could not listen to music. Not even Tom Petty.
            What might it look like to be waiting on God? For me it is having a quiet moment in the day. A literally quiet moment when no one else is around. I don’t want to miss God speaking because I’m listening to Pandora or checking Facebook. It can mean crying, journaling, constant prayer or maybe even insomnia.  But I don’t think it means continuing on with life as normal.
            Bill goes on to describe (in the section “There’s More,” for those of you following along) David’s use of the word wait means “to lie in wait,” as if in ambush. Bill compares it to hunting deer: “If I want to hunt deer, I won’t set up an ambush on Wall Street in New York City or in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. To set up an ambush with any hope of success, I must do so in areas that deer frequent. But many do not realize the same is true of waiting on God. There are many who need a miracle, but they won’t go across town to a church where miracles are common. We play a mental game of pride when we refuse to humble ourselves and go to lie in wait in the places that God frequents.”
            What if LiveOak became a place where God frequented? Where people waiting on God were finally answered? Where miracles happened and we comforted each other as we earnestly, truly wait for God to move?
Beth Kropf


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Moving God

At the close of chapter 5 of “Face to Face with God” by Bill Johnson, he talks about our own personal need. That’s not what I want to dwell on. I want to think about how I can change the world, the many, many evils that need to be stopped. And yet, how critical it is that we think about why we need a Savior. Not in sweeping sense of saving all of humanity, but our individual sins.
            Johnson says “The prostitutes, stargazers, tax collectors, and harlots all recognized Jesus as the Messiah. The ones most trained in Scripture were the ones who didn’t recognize Him for who He was.” In a current context, imagine those that are frowned upon in our society- the homeless, the addicts, maybe even the Wall Street schemers and child abusers. What if they were the ones to recognize Jesus, if he was here today, and our Christian pillars [enter your favorites here] in society did not recognize him?
            It is shocking and disturbing to think it could be so. And yet we have all heard incredible stories of people in deep darkness turning their lives around. And there are churches and individuals doing shocking evil in the name of God.  Johnson continues: “The awareness of deep personal need is also the setting where extraordinary faith grows. When there is no awareness of need, the opportunity to respond to God remains out of reach. For this reason, the Pharisees had no access to the realm that pleases God the most- faith. And faith moves God like no other thing.”
            I talk often about concepts like self-awareness because it is so essential to growth. Also, awareness of sin is like flossing. You go to the dentist and get convicted to floss your teeth. You may even lie about how often you do it. For a while, you floss religiously, possibly motivated by high dental bills. And then you skip a day and one day turns into a few and before you know it your gums are bleeding. I don’t want to be bleeding before I admit my sin and seek to change.
I’m still chewing on the connection between awareness of our own sin and faith. But I read this passage a few weeks ago and the idea of faith moving God has really stuck with me. Maybe because faith costs so much to give. Faith is trusting that even when it seems like God is not near, He is. That even when terrible things happen, He still has the whole world in His hands, like the child’s song says.  
I am awestruck at the thought of our great Creator being moved by anything I do. And yet, we see over and over God being moved. He answered cries. He rescued His people. He brought the dead back to life. He responds to us. We just have to ask, and listen. And wait.
(P.S.- Happy Birthday to my mom, who taught me so much about self-awareness and faith) Beth Kropf


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

when miracles don't happen

Continuing my thoughts on faith, there is a great article in the last issue of TIME magazine, available here: article
Andy Crouch talks about the family of 13-year-old Jahi McMath, who has her on life support after she was declared brain dead from a tonsillectomy. I can’t imagine something so horrific happening, and my heart aches for this family. He talks about how Christians have faith that God can heal, but they are more likely to rely on extraordinary medical intervention to accomplish these miracles.
            Of course, God can heal and raise from the dead with or without medical intervention. But don’t we all hurt for this family? Wouldn’t we do the same thing? If my little girl was injured I would expect every doctor on the planet to do everything possible to save her.
            Crouch affirms that he does believe in miracles and says “miracles are not the result of human or technological heroics. They come, if they come at all, when we are at the end of our heroics. And miracles are not magic. They do not come because we somehow persuade God to act by our strong faith. Sometimes, even for the most faithful, they do not come at all” (Crouch, 2014, p.17)
            This silence of unanswered prayers can be unbearable. If you are reading this in hopes of an answer, I am sorry to disappoint. I do find comfort in knowing that just because a prayer is unanswered, it does not mean it was because I did not have faith.  Someday we will know why each prayer was not answered to our liking. Sometimes we get to hold these gems on Earth. Crouch does not leave us in this dark of miracles that don’t happen. He closes: “The real hope for us all is not that there is a machine that will save us but that even at the very end there will be someone who loves us, closer than our own breath. From what I’ve seen of those closest to Jahi McMath, that hope and faith is with her, stronger than any shadow” (Crouch, 2014, 17)
Crouch, A. (2014, January 14). Lost in the Valley of Death. TIME Magazine. 183 (2), 17.

Beth Kropf


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Listening to God

When I was 22, I was newly married and lived in my hometown in California, close to my family. One night I had a dream that my grandfather had died and my grandmother, who had Alzheimer’s in real life, was lost and confused without him.  The dream had enough of an impact on me that I called them the next day to see how things were going. During the conversation, I felt magnetically pulled to move to Austin.  I talked it over with Ben and we agreed we should go. My parents did not intend to stay in California, and we thought we would stay in Austin for two years and then move back to California, or to wherever my parents were.
            That was 2001. We are, of course, still in Austin. God called me here to care for my grandparents, and my family is now in Ohio. I listened to God, but did not know that I had other purposes for being in Austin, and that my parents and I would be called to live in a different state. I’ve never gotten over living in a separate state than my family. Listening to God and following His direction is not always easy.
            We so desperately need a guide, as Caz talked about in his sermon. The story of Samuel is wonderful, of God speaking to a child. We named our daughter Samantha because it means “spoken to by God.” Our name for her was our hope that God would speak to her. 
            In 2014, may we learn to discern God’s voice, however He speaks to us. Let us listen, and follow. It is so simple, and yet it requires daily commitment to pray and be silent.  God gives us Spirit without measure (John 3:34). How much would our lives change if we were able to receive it?
Beth Kropf


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

imitating Christ

Chapter 5 of “Face to Face with God” by Bill Johnson is called “Jesus: The Face of God.” I keep looking back at my bookmarked pages, and it really is tempting to just post quotes from the book. I feel I have so little to add, but the ideas really need to be shared. In the section titled “The Lord’s Prayer, he said “it’s best to live from what you know to be true in spite of the mysteries that you can’t explain. I cannot afford to stumble over my questions when what I do understand demands a response and commitment. The portrait of God the Father, as seen in Jesus Christ, is wonderfully clear. He deserves the rest of my life as I learn how to imitate Him.”
            What a wonderful focus. What an answer to so many questions. There are so many things we do not have answers to. Or, we focus more on one verse or subject in the Bible and allow it to overshadow who Jesus is and how He responded to others. We are called to imitate Christ. As we come down from the Christmas high, let us learn what it means to imitate Christ. I think it means talking and listening to God constantly. We are instructed to “abide” in Him. The word abide means “breathe hard.” So, this should be a constant part of our life. Imitating Christ means feeding the hungry. Literally. It means treating others with patience and love. Let us resolve to imitate our Savior. We don’t know what 2014 will look like. And yet we can choose to move towards Him or drift away. There are only two options. Are you in?
 Beth Kropf