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7-Day Practical Faith Blog: Windmills, Gratitude, Challenges, and Hope

1 Peter 2: 5

I knew I would be excited to see my first windmill. I didn't know the experience would eventually bring tears to my eyes.

I've just returned from a European vacation. The trip has provided fodder for my blog, so expect to see various references over time to things I saw and learned. I'll start with my visit to a working windmill in Kinderdijk in The Netherlands.

It was so interesting to see a windmill up close, to sense the power of its spinning blades, to understand how it worked and why the people of the Low Country (which is what "The Netherlands" means) needed windmills to pump out water from this area below sea level.

But on the return trip up the canal to our origin point, I quietly reflected on how privileged, grateful, and blessed I was to actually see a windmill. Hundreds of tourists shuttle through this windmill each day, but most people will never see one in person. The visit seemed surrealistic. Even the picture on this post, which I snapped, has a slight dreamlike quality to it.

Windmills were an early answer to a challenge: The North Sea tries to reclaim this land that shouldn't exist as land. The Netherlands often reminded me of a well-organized swamp. The ground is saturated with water below the surface. Amsterdam buildings tilt as a result. Even the dikes can't be raised too high, because the weight of additional dirt will simply cause them to sink into the land.

As a result, the Dutch people face a tremendous challenge going forward. In the United States, debate on climate change is a theoretical and political discussion. In the Netherlands, it's an accepted, looming reality. Solutions like windmills and the modern pumps that have largely replaced them will not work in 50 years at the rate the oceans are rising. No one in the Netherlands has the answer to how the North Sea will be held back much longer from reclaiming their land, their homes, their history.

Yet one of the themes I took from the entire European trip is the history of people dreaming of what could be built, recognizing future challenges, doing what they can in their time, and trusting subsequent generations to figure out the required technology to keep pursuing the visions of their ancestors.

It struck me that this is the same challenge Christians face today. Church membership is declining. More and more people are critics of the church and don't want to participate. But we believe that this institution created by Christ is meant to last forever. In our time, we must consider and respond to the challenges, evolving and creating a new church, and trusting future generations to carry it forward, just as we were entrusted by our predecessors. The proclamation of 1 Peter 2: 5 is still fresh for us today:

You yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

Drifting up the canal, I felt all of these ideas and their corresponding emotions - the gratitude for the privilege of seeing a windmill, the challenges for the Low Country people and for the church, the hope that somehow, someway, humanity in general and Christianity in particular will prevail against such challenges. I felt tears welling in my eyes as I tried to hold them off like the Dutch dikes standing firm against the North Sea. And I knew it was time to come home with renewed vigor and passion for my mission to teach Christians how to put their faith into practice.

I have exciting news! I am now writing for the popular Christian web site, My first article has been published and is available at I'm grateful for the opportunity to serve Inspiration Ministries and to introduce a new audience to

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