Monday, May 10, 2010

New Blog - Moved

I attached all my blogs to one! How exciting.

This Whole Life

All the blogs on here are on there. So, follow it, google feed it - do something to keep up to date!

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Day and Night

Something new...being obedient to all the Psalms that command us to meditate both day and night on the Word.
Psalm 1 is a good place to start.
Well, I am finally obeying it. In his strength, for His glory in my life, mind, heart, and then eventually hopefully in the lives of others, in my writing, and in the world...the Word takes root.
Here is the plan: simple. I read a Psalm before going to bed - helping me rejoice in the day and worship the One who made it. A proverb before going about my day - wanting wisdom, practical ways I can live in obedience today.
Random ways this has been good: day 1 I was able to text a verse to a friend who is praying through many different options for her life right now. It was a good verse for her - Prov 1.33. Psalm 1 helped me remember why I needed to do this in the first place. Ps 3 - last night I fell asleep on the couch and I dreamed about people being able to break into my screen door from my porch. I woke up, went to bed, reading Ps 3 about dwelling in safety and Him providing sound sleep. God is wonderful.
This morning: feeling horrible from my Italian dinner last night both in mind and in body - I read Prov 3. I thanked God for his mercies, grace, forgiveness, and a new day. Here are some wys that is evident to me in that proverb:
1. Do not forget teaching (mind, I know what I need to eat, not eat to live my body in a way glorifying to God), but heart keep commands (but I crave in my heart things that aren't good for me). But I need to remember that the heart is deceitful and above all desparately wicked.
2. Steadfast love and faithfulness need to be how I relate to everyone I come in contact with: to find favor and good success with men.
3. If I turn away from my own wisdom (and worthless rationale) and seek the wisdom that comes from God (which is found in this Book), then it will bring healing to my flesh and refreshment to my bones. Do you take the Word literally. Most people claim that the Word has nothing really to say about health and our bodies and what we do we them or how we treat them by what we intake. We live this out in most of our churches actually. In most of our homes. But, this passage: Prov 3.7-8 speaks to just that. If we turn away from seeking our own wisdom and evil things (over eating, indulgent and seeking our worth in food) then it will bring healing to our bones, refreshment to our bodies. I love that promise!
4. Honor the Lord with your is a recapture of Mal 3. God is blessing me in many ways and I've seen the truth of this played out in my life. Neat how God says He will reward obedience - and He really does. When He tells us to "test him in this" (Mal 3) He actually will come through. That is the amazing God we serve.
5. Do not grow tired of His reproof: I even was so glad He gave me an upset stomach this morning and wiggly vision last night (after eating so much white pasta and white bread). This is part of his reproof in my life for overeating and not heading my body and how He has made it. I want to be obedient in this way. I desire the Lord's correction in that.
6. He blesses the dwelling of the righteous. This last proverb in chapter 3 brought to mind two others. Often times we'll see signs that "Bless This House" - sorta the welcome sign on most southern doors. But, do we think about this verse. He blesses the home of the righgteous. I think in light of Proverbs and preceeding verses he is talking about those who make righteous choices and seek wisdom and understanding. But, also and most importantly...our righteousness is found in Christ - we must abide there. If we abide there, part A will come.

Do you meditate on Scripture day and night - do you see it impacting your day?

B90x Update

Some of you may recall that back in January I started B90x - a reading plan from Elevate Church in Charlotte for reading through the entire Bible in 90 days. Started off well, like most New Year's Resolutions and Bible reading plans.
March is where I really slacked off - as I was preparing to move, pack, late nights, working much - it was tough - I was sinful and lazy in forgetting this daily need.
Well - here is my update. I finished the OT the end of April. I start the NT. Hopefully the NT won't take me as long as the OT took. I doubt it.
Here are good things about the B90x reading plan:
1. It makes you prioritize the Word. It takes about 50 minutes each day to read the allotted segment. I'm not a fast reader.
2. It helps to give a bigger picture to the Word. One thing I dislike about most reading plans is that you get 2 chapters here and there in 4 different places. I like seeing complete pictures. It helps me follow story lines better. One day I think I read the whole story of Abraham from Ur to death. Joseph followed a day later. It helps when all of Genesis is done in 4 days. You see the connectedness of Scripture.
3. Themes. It also helps because you can draw out themes or words that help in preparing Bible studies or seeing the Big Picture of the Word of God. This was probably my fave part.

I will keep going. His Word is important.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Community, Trinity, Love and DeYoung

Ever read one of those paragraphs...that you want to read aloud to whoever is in the room and it expresses a new way of thinking or a new way of understanding a complex thought? Sorta an "aha" moment.
Here is one:
I am reading Kevin DeYoung's book The Good News We Almost Forgot - Rediscovering the Gospel in a 16th Century Catechism. Basically, Kevin takes the Heidelberg Catechism and applies the gospel found in it to modern day. Putting this hard to read or understand or even say in a fluid pattern - something in paragraph form and explaining it. Quite good. More of that later though.

"The Trinity matters for relationships. We worship a God who is in a constant and eternal relationship with Himself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Community is a buzz word in American culture, but it is only in a Christian framework that communion and interpersonal community are seen as expressions of the eternal nature of God. Likewise, it is only with a Trinitarian God that love can be an eternal attribute of God. Without a plurality of persons in the Godhead, we would be forced to think taht God created humands so that He might show love and know love, thereby making love a created thing (and God a needy deity). But with a biblical understanding of the Trinity, we can say that God did not create in order to be loved, but rather, created out of the overflow of the perfect love that had always existed among Father, Son, and Holy Spirit who ever live in perfect and mutual relationship and delight." (p 52)

Love this. God didn't create us because He needed us. My friend, Sean Cordell, preached on this topic as well a few weeks ago at Treasuring Christ here in Raleigh: Pursuing Community. You can not know true community without the knowledge of the true Creator of Community.
We must know love and community only through an intimate relationship with the one who desires to be in community and sent Jesus to die to make that possible.

Book Review: Collaborate

In light of the title of the book, Collaborate is a collaborative effort by many ministers in the field of children, family, and student ministry to bring the best of the best of their ideas to the table. Chanley, at Southeast in Louisville, KY, put together these short chapters filled with excellent events you can do at your church to help bridge the gap that is evident in ministries and families across America.
Good things about this book:
1. Rob Rienow's chapter. I had read a bulk of the material for since I am familiar with Rob's writings, but it was a good reminder of WHY we do family ministry and WHY THERE IS A NEED for family ministry. The reason this chapter, for me, was the best out of this book is because it is the only one whose main focus was the theological reason behind family ministry. Others definitely drove Deut 6.4-9 into the ground and used that as an imperative for ministry - but Rob opened up the biblical mandate for Family Ministry and parenting and the church and the gospel. Theology, I know, wasn't the main point of this book. And Chanley and others definitely succeded in the aim of this book. (That's why there are multiple books out there, each with its specific niche.)
2. Rob Bradbury encouraged me by his list. Not only will this chapter be helpful as people sit down to plan out events - but he started with the most important, yet most often overlooked element. PRAYER. He listed prayer before advertising. How often to do plan, advertise, talk up, poster-up, get volunteers - even before we pray. At the church I serve, we have even noticed that this is not as big of a focus as we need it to be. So, we are taking many efforts to strengthen our prayer times in staff meetings or in our lives personally. Today, even, stopping in the middle of staff meeting to pray for a lady who walked through our doors during Joy Prom and said she had never (in 62 years, in the South) walked into a church. These are the things that need praying for.
3. Short chapters. I like books with short chapters because I feel like I can plow through a book without having to sit down and read for 2 hours straight. I like being able to end at a chapter, not in the middle of one.
4. Very practical. If you need ideas, or are stuck and uncreative (like I often am), this book will help bring some fresh new ideas from literally around the world to you.

One word of caution with this book: Picking up this book would lead some to believe that is all about activity - or events. Family Ministry is not event driven. It must NOT be. It has to be theology and gospel driven. God can and does use events to draw people to themselves (take Joy Prom for example, or youth camp, or VBS, or Family Fall night, but if it is event driven, we will just fill up a calendar and spend money. If it is gospel-driven - then hopefully God will use the church to make an impact in the lives of families. You can't get your people on board with events unless they know the why behind what you do.

That is my daily challenge. May it be your's as well.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Book Review: Ware's Big Truths for Young Hearts

Most people would not pick up this book and think of a seminary text book on theology (for example: Grudem, Erickson) - but this book is just as potent - just in paperback form!

Having the opportunity to work with Dr. Ware at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary was definitely a highlight for me during my time there. Seeing the humility and focus on the gospel in which he and his wife lived their lives was a light. The best part of the book, in a way, was the forward which was written by Ware's daughters. They provided insight into long road trips and family dinners they had with their Dad. Dr. Ware lives this theology book. He just doesn't teach it in the classroom or preach it from the pulpit; he and his wife model it for their children, even now as they are grown women. They have had a godly example from which to pattern their lives after and as they raise their children by teaching them Big Truths for Young Hearts.

There are multiple uses for this book (and no, one of them is not hand it to a 10 year old and have them give you a book report on it in a month):
1. Read it. Especially if you are a new believer, or know new believers, Dr. Ware puts many difficult theological concepts in terms and with illustrations to make them easier to comprehend.
2. If you are a Dad: read it, share it with your family - even a chapter a week - at family devotion time. It would be a source of encouragement and edification for you. Read the chapter (short 2-4 pages mostly), then have discussion. Makes family worship easier. The end of each chapter even has questions for discussion (so you don't have to come up with those on your own either). This would be a great tool for Family Worship.
3. Praise. Many times at the end of each chapter, Dr. Ware breaks into a doxology of sorts. The idea that he models here for his readers is that knowing who God is (and Christ, the Spirit, the Church, Man, Salvation, End Times) should warrant our utmost praise! Maybe even break into song!

What I loved about this book is that it gave me broad segments of theology, didn't try to cover everything, was readable, had Scripture within the text, and gave me many "pierce the heart" moments of conviction. Here are some:
"How foolish we are when we forget to read and study this book. But how wise and blessed we are when we go to this book constantly for instruction, guidance, correction, and help with living life as God wants." (p 23 - The Bible)
"A grumbling spirit is sinful, because it fails to recognize God's goodness and kindness in providing for us every good thing in life that we enjoy." (p 69 - God Provides)
"If our punishment is a small thing, then when we learn that Jesus took our punishment upon himself, we think little of this. But, when we see our punishment as the great and weighty and horrible thing that it is, then it becomes a wonder and a marvel to us that Jesus took that punishment upon himself for us." (p 99 - Punishment for Sin)
"The Spirit will have a great influence and will provide more direction in our lives as God's Word "dwells" more and more within us. Our reading of his Word, our time spend memorizing and meditating on Scripture, is one of the main tools that the Spirit uses to help us think, feel, speak, and act in ways that are more and more pleasing to Christ." (p 167 - Spirit)
"We love many things in this world that we shouldn't love, yet we don't love God as we should." (p 171 - God's Kindness and Wisdom)
Believe me, there are many other sentences and paragraphs underlined in my copy. Read it. May it be an encouragement to you and may it be a tool you can use to help lead your family in knowing God deeper.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Redeeming the Time (Guest Post)

I don't know of any woman (single, married, young, not as young, with kids, no kids) who will tell me that she is not busy. We have iPhones, calendars, outlook, post-it notes, etc to help keep us organized! Unfortunately, every day we live, most of us are just getting busier.

There are many Scriptures that tell us how to redeem our time - in every area of life. But, I want to concentrate on your time at home today.

There are a few books that have helped me see this reality a bit clearer: Girls Gone Wise, Shopping for Time, and The Gentle Ways of a Beautiful Woman. Of course there are more, but these three come to mind.

I want to live most of my life at home. Ok, yes, I work a full time job, in ministry, so that often means that it is well over 40 hours and even when at home I'm doing work for work. However, since i've been here, that has not been a reality for me. Some of the personal disciplines that I had in Louisville have not translated well to Raleigh living. Why - busy-ness and lack of strategical planning my day.

My friend Courtney wrote a fantastic blog post on her site about how the Spirit is sanctifying her in this area right now:

"Today has been a lazy day. And boy, do I like it! About a month or two ago a dear friend encouraged me to examine my schedule and cut things out that took me away from my husband and my home. As she wisely observed, I had begun to fill my evenings, and even my Saturdays, with a lot of other things that had very little to do with my husband. I had assumed that since he was studying I could just do whatever I wanted. He didn't need me around, right? Well, what happened was these other things became overwhelming. Suddenly, I was just away from home too much, but I was exhausted and moody when I was home. Not good."

To read the rest...go visit Courtney:

Here are a few exhortations from Scripture:

Prov 31.10, 15, 27: "An excellent wife, who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. She rises while it is yet night, and provides food for her household and portions for her maiden. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness."

These commands and characteristics of the excellent wife (or excellent woman as Carolyn McCulley points out and illustrates in her book Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye) will look different depending on what life stage you are currently in. But, each of us must strive, in and through grace, to live these out. God has given us His Word to live out by the strength of His grace for his fame and glory in the world (or in our home, or to our friends, or our husbands).

May you be strengthened in His grace today!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Book Review: Our Home is Like a Little Church

Sojourn Community Church in Louisville, KY is graced to have many talented people in her body. There are artists, writers, singers, players, cookers, - so many.
What I really like about this one is it a simple reminder (complete with rhyming syntax, fun type, and creative characters) of what "worship-at-home" could look like.
Often, in this discussion of family worship, people ask "How do I do that?' There isn't anything you MUST do to have family worship or have to incorporate for it to be right. If you aren't singers, you don't have to sing. If you aren't into poetry, you don't have to have a reading time. Family Worship can start simply by just reading 10 verses, talking about it, and praying together as a family. Maybe that will take 10 minutes. Maybe you will do that once a month. Maybe you'll do it once a week. The simple equation: just do something. Maybe you are gifted at the guitar or piano or writing songs or creative motions - incorporate those. There is so much freedom in this concept of family worship. Maybe your children love to draw - show them how their drawings can be an act of worship - as they share with the family what God taught them through that practice.
Sojourn tries to remind parents that they should be taking the lead in family worship, that the Dad should be shepherding his family in this way (just as the Pastor would do at the church). An underlying theological truth that is hinted at is that male leadership is a right Biblical concept. This is stated in their goal of this book: "was written to teach preschool children the Christian truth evident...that the home is a little church where the father teaches his family God's commands and leads them to worship the one true God."
And in accomplishing this goal very well, Sojourn also puts forth the co-championing model of Family Worship: "God intended the home to be the front line of ministry to children - not the Sunday School or public church gathering ALONE." This is even intentional throughout the book as on one side of the page there is what we do in church and on the adjacent side if what we do at home.
One critique: this is more of a cultural one. Unfortunately, many marriages/families even within evangelical churches are lead by a single mother. Whether that is by divorce/separation/never present father/unwed teen moms/death - the reality is clear and present. The book is designed to appeal to "cookie cutter" Christian families. How does this work when given to a single Mom who is at her rope's end because her kids are driving her crazy with all the other demands of being a single parent? One way to use this would be to give it to her, but then do a couple things:
1. Pray (with her) that God would give her strength and grace to accomplish this task of raising her children and discipling them in the fear and admonition of the Lord.
2. Pair her up with another Mom (single or married) who is leading well in this area.
3. Don't just send her on her way - make sure she is being cared for, loved on, and nurtured.

This book would be an excellent, inexpensive tool to share with new parents, or new parents in your preschool ministry at your church - about what you expect of them as parents and leading the way in Family Worship.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Winner's Mudhouse Sabbath

There is more to this book than just a cool title.
My friend Janel had this book at her apt when I went to visit in January. I had just started reading through the Bible doing B90x (which I'm still doing by the way) and this aided in my understanding of some of the Jewish laws. With all the fun that we had that wknd, I only got about halfway through it before I left (I'm not a fast reader). But, I was so intrigued by it that I had to pick it up later and finish it. I just did.
This book was helpful in learning more about the laws and customs of Judaism, modern and ancient. This was helpful in seeing a Christian Jew live out her faith but not be under the obligations of the law. Helped to see how community and the law are so important to folks who are devout Jews.
Winner covers many different aspects: food, the sabbath, hospitality, death, doorposts, weddings, candles, etc. All offered insight into what was practiced, what is still being practiced, and how a Christian can incorporate these practices into her life.
On Fasting: "People who have fasted for years tell me there will come a time when I look forward to fasting." (88). Man - this is hard. I remember in recent churches I have been in when the pastors would call the church to a corporate fast. I would try to do it. Most of the tie, I did it out of trying to please certain pastors. Not in an effort to pray and seek the face of God as part of the beautiful Bride of Christ. So, I did it more out of pride, man-pleasing, and legalism and I always failed at it.
On Fasting: "When I am sated, it is easy to feel independent. When I am hungry, it is possible to remember where my dependence lies." (91) This applies to more than just food. Yes, food is the way Lauren talks about it here - but more recently I come to recognize this in finances and material goods. God has been more than gracious to me in so many ways and there is nothing for which I want. But, even toward the end of the month where I have to be more careful and rely on him for guidance on spending and scheduling - I realize that I need to do that all through the month and not just the last week. God is good.
On Aging: "Christianity and Judaism both offer narratives that make sense of death." (101). A few months ago I thought about this paragraph (yes, before I read it). There were a coupld of deaths in my life that occurred all in a short span of time. And I was also helping others through greiving, etc. I started to think that we would never understand death. I came to the conclusion that we were never meant to understand death because we weren't created with death in mind. Adam and Eve were created to live with God in the garden in perfect harmony forever. Then...SIN. Sin is what brought death. God made a way to conquer death - but He never said he would explain it to us.
On Candles: "Even when I am lighiting two thin tapers over dinner, I like to think about the light of Christ rectifying the sin by which came death to the world. The Light of Christ, I sometimes say to myself, Thanks be to God." (119) Most of the time when we have lit candles in our homes they are to create ambience or help eliminate odor. I wonder what would happen if Glade or Yankee Candle Co started marketing to Christians as way a remember this Light of the World. Probably what would be the result is some cheezy fish candle or cross candle just like Testamints or other silly things like that. But, what would happen if we lit candles in our home and made it an intential part of that lighting to thank God for sending the Light of the World to use so that we could behold his glory and truth?