Monday, December 24, 2007

Say Hello to Sammy

Sammy is the latest edition to my family! I had to say goodbye to Fred (the Ford Taurus) because of a gracious gift from my parents. I got Sammy after thanksgiving and he is such a cute little thing.

Some things I'm learning - I do have better parking abilities with Sammy than with Fred. Good pick up, smaller gas tank and it doesn't get as good of gas mileage, but oh, well.

Sammy looks much better now that it has a Gator sticker on the side of it.

This was taken after our first snow last weekend. As you can see not much - but some! Sammy's first taste of snow.

Oh, Sammy - official introduction - is a 2006 PT Cruiser (the S is from his color - silver). Lisa gave me some guidelines to naming our cars many years ago! (thanks!)

Books, Books and More Books

When I moved into the apt here I just wanted to get the boxes out of my living room - so I just through my books onto bookshelves in no particular order. Today - since I had some time (smelling citrus bread in the bread maker) - I organized my books. Now I can find them. I have a resource section, Piper and Lewis have their own sections (surprise). I have one for women, Christian Living, Missions and evangelism, fiction, Literature, church, family and home, theology, youth, culture/apologetics - and I think that is it.
As I was going through them I came across some that I hadn't read in a while. So, I wanted to create a Top 10 list of sorts. These are ones that I have read and completed - ones that have definitely made a serious impact in my walk with God. I'm thankful to these authors - how God has used them in my life.
Some of you will be surprised by these (not all are Piper, shock, I know!)

These are really in no particular order except that they all made the list:
1. Feminine Appeal - Carolyn Mahaney. I've read this one three times and it has given me much insight into marriage and how to counsel women who are married - and how I want to be married.
2. Faithful Women and Their Extraordinary God - Noel Piper. Best book on amazing women and how God used them to change their worlds!
3. Swans are Not Silent Series - John Piper. Ok - so far there are 4 in this series, the best of which is number 2 - Hidden Smile of God. Amazing biographies (which is my fave type of book outside of cookbooks).
4. Humility - CJ Mahaney. If I could even have an ounce of the humility of this guy. He was on campus a week ago. One of my co-workers said, he opened the door for me. That is the type of simple humility this guy has!
5. Cost of Discipleship - Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I read this in college - and it totally changed my view of following Jesus back then. I'm so thankful that I had to read it. I still use many of his quotes.
6. Shadow of the Almighty and Through Gates of Splendor - Elisabeth Elliot. I put these two together because one is much a part of the other. The story of Jim, his journals (book in themselves) have deepened my faith and the love of Jesus and been used to convict me mightily of the inadequacies of my own personal walk with Jesus.
7. Pursuit of Holiness - Jerry Bridges. He is quickly becoming one of my fave authors. Such convicting books. I'm reading Trusting God right now and want to get Respectable Sins, one of his newest.
8. Mortification of Sin - John Owen. This book probably was the hardest to read because it was so convicting - the Word is so powerful and he used much of it. But, warning. I'll tell you what my pastor told me when I finished it - go read a book on grace. That is what we all need - GRACE!
9. My Sister's Keeper - Jodi Piccoult. Duke made their incoming freshman last year read this and discuss it on orientation day. I picked it up. I cried, yelled, was frustrated - all these emotions. But, this book - probably more than any other - gave me an insight into many cultural thoughts and questions that we as Christians need an answer for. How are you engaging the world on these levels?
10. Valley of Vision - Multiple. This is a book of prayers written by Puritans. I use it as a supplement to my personal worship. I have shared with many of my girls as several people read it before me and shared it with me. Be prepared to be convicted on how light we view sin.
Enjoy them - if you have any thoughts on them, I'd love to hear them! Keep reading! Make it a discipline - I definitely know I need to read more! But, never forsake the perfect Book - the BIBLE!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Yay, Lord We Greet Thee...

Christmas songs. Most radio stations start playing them the day after Thanksgiving to get everyone in the mood to spend some money on black Friday. Well, radio stations up here in L-ville started playing them before T-day. I love normal music - I want it back!
But, I try to listen to some of the words - hear the Biblical truth in some of them, like the harmonies.
One line I heard traveling the other day stuck with me:
"Yay, Lord we greet Thee, born this happy morning. Jesus to Thee be all glory given. Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing...o come let us adore Him."
I know Christmas morning (Dec 25) was probably not the day that Jesus was born. But, so often Christmas morning is a time of opening presents and playing with new toys, eating. In FL growing up Dad would get up first, then Mom (her one day a year getting up early), then me, then Alan would eventually get out of bed. We would open gifts in about 10 minutes, each taking turns. Then the day would be over - we would walk usually in shorts and a t-shirt to Granny and Papa's to eat, watch football, go to a movie, etc.
But, have I ever opened my eyes on Christmas morning and said "Jesus - I greet you, born this happy morning."? Nope - maybe that will be a new tradition for me this year...
Happy almost Christmas Eve!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

3 Jobs, 2 Moves, and a Partridge in a Pear Tree

This is from some emails I sent out to some this week:

Everybody sing!
I'm saving money this year again by sending out my yearly letter via email (or blog) - since that is how most of us communicate anyway - since stamps keep going up every year. I think that is good money management! :)
This year has definitely been one of changes for me. I started out the year working for Duke, living in Durham, attending the Summit church, loving Carolina. The Gators won the national championship, I went to my first Tarheel bball game, and then the Gators won another national championship.
The end of February I decided to move back home to Lakeland, FL to live with my parents for a while, not knowing how long it would be. I was working for my dad, helping out with the errands and shopping/crafting with my Mom. I loved getting to hang out with my friends in Orlando, Orange City, and St. Augustine. I loved getting to spend some time with my sister-in-law. I found a church in Orange City and plugged in there with the college ministry. I did some ministry with my former church in St. Augustine and got to know those high school girls more - they are great. Financially, it was a smart move as I was able to (graciously) delete some debt.
Orange City is about 90 minutes from Lakeland, so I started to look for a job near there. There was nothing full time - and I didn't want to take a p/t job and get in debt again. So, in early August we (my family and I) decided that I had to find a job and I sent out an email saying "I must have a job - I'll go anywhere and do anything!" - mostly out of desperation. One of my friends received the email and asked me for my resume. The rest is history.
I am now working for in Louisville for an SBC Seminary. I love the people I work for - it is great environment. I have a church up here that is full of very friendly people and am in a great SS class.
I only knew 4 people coming up here. It is great getting to be around them more, I'm grateful for their friendship. I do know other people in other places in KY - so it will be great to see them next semester.
When I first moved here I lived in a dorm. Thankfully - an apt on campus opened so I now have my own place with my own stuff and my own kitchen. I think I got out of the practice of cooking for 3 months - but I love it!
God has been very gracious to me this year - in many ways. It has been extremely hard, but through it all He has remained faithful - to Himself and to His glory - which is the main priority.
Two sets of verses have kept coming to me over the past year:
Ps 84.8-12
O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer; give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah Behold our shield, O God; look on the face of your anointed! For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly. O Lord of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you."

Acts 3.19-20
Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus."

As I've listened to Christmas songs recently (who hasn't), one line stood out to me in Mercy Me's "Little Drummer Boy" - "Then he smiled at me" - may we bring a smile to the face of our incarnate Savior this Christmas and pleasure to our Gracious and Faithful Father.

must love to you all - 2008 will be a year of more change for me, but we'll see the outcome of that come 2009.

blessings - kd

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Hospitality of Jesus

I heard a song this morning while sitting in my living room that made me think of this. The blood of Christ welcomes me as a friend. Right now is Jenn Pappalardo's fave song, Friend of God. I am a friend of God - you call me friend. What a concept.
But then I started thinking about it. Often times we will let friends into our homes or we will call people to us who are like us or can offer us something in return. We couldn't offer anything to Christ - we were enemy's of God - backs turned toward Him in sin.
Yet - He came to earth. This time of year we celebrate the incarnation of Jesus - Him coming to earth as a little baby.
Now, with his blood we can be friends of God. The price for us: as the book of John says: You are my friend if you obey my commands. One of those commands is to be hospitable to others.
I've learned a lot about hospitality from others. My friend Lindsay is always reading a book on hospitality - I think she and Elizabeth have it down.
Hospitality isn't about making sure your house is clean or cooking the best food and presenting it the best or anything like that. It is comforting the people who walk into your house - offering them grace. Bringing warmth into their lives by them being in your home. I can say that for every time I walk into some people's homes.
May we be hospitable to others all because Jesus called us friends.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Thirst, Dehydration, and the Goodness of God

Life can be exhausting. But, as long as I try to survive independently of the One who made me, I will fail. But, if I live by grace alone and in HIS Strength, then He will live through me.
I read Ps 42 last night. I then wanted to follow that up with a study of thirst and dehydration. This is what I found online:
Fluid loss may even be severe enough to become life-threatening.
Basic fluid intake serves to replace the fluids which are required to perform our normal bodily functions.
Dehydration can be defined as "the excessive loss of water from the body."
Ps 42.1-2a says "As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God."
I remember my trip to the PacRim. We reclaimed wells for the tsunami victims. Their water was filled with black sludge. If we wanted to drink any water, we first had to boil it then refrigerate it. We took a bath in the water - pre-boiling stage. We have all the opportunities in the world in this country to have clean and purified water. But, yet often we don't drink enough.
Put that in Spiritual terms - God has given us unlimited gracious opportunities for us to know and commune with Him. Why don't we? Why don't we continually drink so we never get parched?
Ps 42.4 : These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival.
I can remember good growing times in the Word and in fellowship with my God. But, why don't I let that remembrance of His goodness compel me to meet with Him everyday. I get so independent from Him.
I love the focus on these next two verses: (5, 11)
"Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation. Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God."
so often I think who I am is determined by what I do or my position or relationships. I am only possessed and bought by God - that is where my position comes from. I am bought with a price.
Therefore, I shouldn't place my hope in any other thing - only in God and His goodness, mercies, and wonders that He works in my life - and more importantly what He did for me on the cross.
As I continued to read, I also picked up These Strange Ashes again and Valley of Vision:
"I come to thee as a sinner with cares and sorrows, to leave every concern entirely with thee, every sin calling for Christ's precious blood. Revive deep spirituality in my heart. Let me live near to the great Shepherd, hear his voice, know its tons, follow its calls. See Jesus as the essence of the Gospel. Sin makes me forget thee. Grant me to know that I truly live only when I live to thee, that all else is trifling. Abide in me, gracious God."

Monday, December 03, 2007

These Strange Ashes

Finally got all of my books unpacked yesterday. A friend was over and saw this book by Elisabeth Elliot and said it was really good. I hadn't read it - so I said sure, give me something new to read.
I read the preface last night. That was enough to convict me of some thoughts of entitlement and ungratefulness for even the hard times in my life. As JD preached this past week - we need to be so overwhelmed by God's grace - not by anything else. We should be astounded that we got grace and His goodness - not His wrath which we deserve.
So often in life I think I should be entitled to something: but I am not entitled to anything except an eternity in hell. But, apart from the salvific meaning of this...I think I'm entitled to a lot of things in life - then when others get something that I don't, I often don't like that. Not at all. But, why should I even get them...
Does the Bible really say - Kim, you will be married? No it doesn't? So, why do I dislike it sometimes (however brief or long) when others get marriage and I don't? Am I more deserving than they are - no, we both don't deserve it - it is just a means of sanctification that some people get and some people don't - all in God's perfect plan.
This is from the Preface to her book: (from a time in her life from the 50s)
"Nearly every time I have told it and tried to explain what I think God wanted to teach me in it of absolute commitment and trust, someone has asked, 'but why did God let it happen?' Someday they and I will be satisfied with His answer. Of one thing I am perfectly sure: God's story never ends with ashes."

Friday, November 30, 2007

From Valley of Vision

This book is amazing. I'm thankful for Bobby, Phyllis, and Nena who all introduced it to me - so thankful that I've been able to pass it along to my girls too.
Yesterday was a hard day for me, so I went to bed last night just wanting comfort from my Jesus - I found that in Ps 141:8 - mainly but the rest of the Psalm was good:

But my eyes are toward you, O God, my Lord;in you I seek refuge;

Then, I turned in the Valley of Vision (a book of Puritan prayers):

"That I have erred both on the side of my hopes and also of my fears, that I am unfit to choose for myself for it is not in me to direct my steps. Let the Spirit produce in me wise desires by which I may ask right things, that I shall know thou hearest me. May I seek first thy kingdom and its righteousness, may I value things in relations to eternity, may my spiritual welfare be my chief solicitude. May I be poor, afflicted, despised and have thy blessing, rather than be successful in enterprise, or have more than my heart can wish. May I regard the "world" (however you want to define it) as dreams, lies, vanities, vexation of spirit, and desire to depart from it. And may I seek my happiness in thy favour, image, presence, service."

Also, what hit me with the last two sentences was the end of James 1 - which I've read every day this week and trying to figure out what it would look like in my life: 1.27c - "to keep oneself unstained from the world."

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

To Grope...

Last night here at Southern we had a women's chit chat cafe. This is where we get together, eat chocolate, drink coffee (or me, water, because I don't like coffee) and listen to a woman in ministry who can offer something to us from her relationship with God. They are definitely beneficial!
Mrs. Bobbye Rankin was here with us last night. She opened with Rom 16 and those that grope in the darkness (talking about missions). She shared about many of her experiences as a missionary - telling the good news of Jesus to the lost - those blind and groping in the darkness.
I have not been very diligent at my quiet times, but last night I opened the Word and just flipped it open, not knowing where to go. I landed in one of my fave OT books - Isaiah. This is what I read:
Isaiah 59: (portions)

59:1 Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear;2 but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear. 3 For your hands are defiled with blood and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies; your tongue mutters wickedness. 4 No one enters suit justly; no one goes to law honestly; they rely on empty pleas, they speak lies, they conceive mischief and give birth to iniquity. Therefore justice is far from us, and righteousness does not overtake us; we hope for light, and behold, darkness, and for brightness, but we walk in gloom. 10 We grope for the wall like the blind;we grope like those who have no eyes; we stumble at noon as in the twilight, among those in full vigor we are like dead men. 11 We all growl like bears; we moan and moan like doves; we hope for justice, but there is none; for salvation, but it is far from us. 12 For our transgressions are multiplied before you, and our sins testify against us; for our transgressions are with us, and we know our iniquities: 13 transgressing, and denying the Lord, and turning back from following our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart lying words. 14 Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands far away; for truth has stumbled in the public squares, and uprightness cannot enter. 15 Truth is lacking, and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey. The Lord saw it, and it displeased him that there was no justice.16 He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no one to intercede; then his own arm brought him salvation, and his righteousness upheld him. 17 He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on his head; he put on garments of vengeance for clothing, and wrapped himself in zeal as a cloak.18 According to their deeds, so will he repay, wrath to his adversaries, repayment to his enemies; to the coastlands he will render repayment. 19 So they shall fear the name of the Lord from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun; for he will come like a rushing stream, which the wind of the Lord drives. 20 “And a Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who turn from transgression,” declares the Lord. 21 “And as for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the Lord: “My Spirit that is upon you, and my words that I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouth of your offspring, or out of the mouth of your children's offspring,” says the Lord, “from this time forth and forevermore.

Why do we? Why do I? The redeemed of the Lord - bother with sin - why? Why do we grope around in the darkness of our sin - we know better - we have the Spirit of the Living God living in us...yet we grope!

Grope: to feel about blindly or uncertainly in search, to look for something blindly or uncertainly, to feel one's way

On my own - again

Well, all my stuff is almost in my new apt. I haven't lived by myself about 18 months. Now, I love Erin and my parents...but I do love living by myself.
It is so much better than living in a dorm.
I ate breakfast this morning with real silverware (yes, in a styro bowl just because I can't find mine yet) and in my own dining room.
I cooked dinner for some friends last night and washed the dishes right there and had everything at my fingertips.
I have all my books in the state I live in, but they are all still in boxes because I can't figure out how to put my lone bookshelf together.
I have some "home" things and slept on a full size bed last night with lots of pillows.
I have all my movies here - so excited about that!
Its voice-quiet. Now, there is still plenty of noise as I live on a corner of campus, but no voices! :) That's so great! Can you tell I like my peace and quiet.
Anyway, I love having my own place again - people, you can come visit - I'll take pictures when I get everything put away - which may not be till after the holiday season!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Yet it is as God Has Planned

life sometimes just isn't quite as I would have planned it. Yet, (as my mentor said this morning), it is as God has planned it. Ultimately, I do want that - but God has also allowed times of mourning in our lives. Not mourning over a death or anything, just mourning over unfulfilled longing, visions, dreams, desires.

Yet it is as God has planned.

This morning my verse for a battle with sin was Ps 62.5-8:

"For God alone, o my soul, wait in silence. My hope is from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress, I will not be shaken. on God rests my salvation and my glory. My mighty rock. My refuge is God. Trust in HIM at ALL times, people pour out your hearts before Him. God is a refuge for us!"

How pertinent are these verse to my life today. So grateful for the reality of Scripture and the truth of the VERY WORDS of the Word of God. A time when words have lost so much of their meaning - yet I can trust that these are the very inspired Words of God.

I was reminded again this morning by a friend of the validity of Ps 84.11a "For the Lord God is a sun and shield, the Lord bestows favor and honor." - He is a SHIELD!

May the vision of God's Glory be my life's ambition. If I ever get a clearer goal, a more specific goal, that would be good - but God's glory - not my own - is what life is all about. He is my glory - not anything else or anyone else.

Yet, it is as God has planned. Thanks Phyllis!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Galatians 5.1

Bondage. Yoke. Slavery. Strangle. Stronghold. Enslaved. Struggle.

What do you picture when you read these words?

Many in the mid 1800s in this country were looking to this man to free them from a life of slavery they had known. They wanted a man to free them so they could live the life they wanted to live. He did so. But, years ago - Jesus did something so much more freeing for us - on the cross.

The first words up there are very strong words to me, especially in certain areas of my life: areas of sin that Satan throws at me.

Galatians 5.1 is my verse for the day in an area of sin that I'm trying to "live by the Spirit so I will not gratify the desires of the flesh" - Here it is:

"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery."
Paul is writing to the church at Galatia. The bulk of his letter is dealing with the law and its legalistic hold on the church there. Christ did come to set us free from the harshness of the Law - our hope and freedom and loyalty is in HIM - not in how well we uphold the law.
But, knowing the above - he also says we should not go back and live like we once were living. i love the last bit of this verse - therefore (since Christ is your freedom) don't return to being slaves again to the law - don't return to being slaves to sin in your life - be slaves, servants, bond servants of Jesus Christ - who paid your penalty and has set you free.
We, by the power of the Spirit, can strangle sin in our lives - literally like a wrestler puts a stranglehold on his opponent. We need to strangle sin and let the only thing that has any hold on us in this life - be Jesus.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Random quotes

Facebook has become a great way to participate in ministry for me.
It also gives space for quotes that you like. I thought I would elaborate on two of the quotes that I have on my page:
"We would do well to meditate...on how prizing God's gracious wisdom, and treasuring his sovereign reign over our circumstances, purifies us from the sin of impatience."
John Piper said this in his book Future Grace. It is definitely one of my favorites of his, short chapters so you can read one day and finish it in a month. I have not done that, but one can if one chooses!
I tend to get impatient with a lot of things in my life. Ministry positions, jobs, friends, relationships, marriage, driving in traffic, standing in line at Wal-Mart. In all of these things - God is sovereign and has a plan. He reigns over our circumstances. He reigns over everything. Impatience is in direct opposition to that knowledge.
"The world will never starve for want of wonders, but only for want of wonder" -
G K Chesterton wrote that. So many things and people can claim our focus. When really - we are commanded to focus on two things: love God, love people. That's it. God's glory will shine and we (and all of our superficial wonders) will fade in comparison to the brightness of the GLORY.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

The Thrill of the Chaste

This book has come into my sphere of knowledge in the last month or so. A pastor's wife and friend in NY mentioned it to me. She said it opened her eyes to the reality of what some women live through - the idea that premarital sex is going to be fulfilling.
A fellow blogger and youth ministry person in NC had this book in his library, so I asked if I could borrow it. He said I could, graciously sent it to me, and I've now finished the book.
All in all, I think the book was good. Dawn Eden is a self-described Agnostic Jew who is now a born-again Christian. She is 38 and still single, living in the NY area. This book is real and transparent as to her life before she became a Christian and how God has done a work of grace in her life since her salvation experience.
This book would be a great read for young women who have come from a lifestyle of random sexual partners or serious boyfriends who they are sexually active with. It would be great for them to see someone who has lived it out and is still not satisfied with the results. Happiness doesn't come from that. Happiness and ultimate satisfaction comes from Jesus. He may grace us with a spouse, but He may not as well - all in His sovereignty.
Below are some quotes I thought were good:
"As time passed, however, another, clearer advantage came into view. It was the realization that all the sex I had ever had - in and out of relationships - never brought me any closer to marriage or even being able to sustain a committed relationship."
"By viewing sex as a means to an end rather that the fruit of a loving relationship, I rendered myself incapable of having a loving relationship."
"Active resolution: the determination to never miss an opportunity to experience God's grace, or miss an opportunity to share His grace with others." - (Instead of never getting out in the world or always trying to pursue and date).
I think this book is weak on its theology, though definitely written from a Christian viewpoint. It brings up points of interest, but doesn't complete them - only offers little blips. But, it was in the Christian living section/relationships, not theology.
This book has been relatively hard for me on a personal level: God has shown me some ways I tend to pursue single men, those ways may not be the conventional way, but they are my ways - and with an impure heart - so pursuing isn't right, no matter how you do it. It also has brought me many moments of loneliness. So, I'm glad I'm done reading this book.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Atheistic Living or Wise Living

Am I an atheist...of course not.
But, would my actions define me as an atheist?
"A fool says in his heart their is no God" - that is from the words of a psalmist.
Do my actions speak louder than my words? Would my actions declare me to be an atheist?
Dean preached a sermon on Sunday night about walking wise - looking at Christ in the book of Proverbs. How often do we live as foolish Christians because of the sin in our lives?
This goes for every sin - even the ones we like to categorize as acceptable sins like Jerry Bridges says in his new book. Every sin is a mockery of the Cross and dims the light on the glory of God.
A pastor in SC put it this way:
If wisdom is the knowing and obeying of the Word of God, then we might conclude that foolishness must be the knowing and disobeying of the Word of God. By that definition, we all qualify as fools much of the time. But I believe the book of Proverbs reveals to us the real difference between a true person of understanding and a fool. What really identifies one
as a fool is not that they take wrong turns and make wrong decisions in life. We all do that. What truly distinguishes a person of understanding from a fool is how they respond to it when confronted or rebuked for their disobedient ways.

May I not only read and listen to the Word of God, but may my actions also convey the fact that I am striving to be wise (with God's grace) and not a fool.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Message of Missions

Last night I had the opportunity to speak to a WMU International Crafts Banquet at a church in Elizabethtown, KY (about an hour from here give or take traffic). It went great.
The ladies there were so receptive, authentic, welcoming, hospitable, refreshing it was to see that. The pastor was from FL and a Gator fan - so that definitely helped. The ladies also didn't have any tomatoes to throw since the Gators beat UK on Saturday.
I got to talk a little bit about the women's program here at Southern. The WMI (for anyone) is great if you want to learn about seminary topics (OT, NT, Baptist history, theology, etc), but you don't want to get a degree or maybe you never graduated high school or college. This is for you. And I got to talk about what women are doing here at Southern in the way of missions - they just went to China last spring. I'm grateful for women like Lorie and Jaye who are bringing in fantastic women like Mary Kassian and Bayne Pounds to speak and teach our ladies. They are learning stuff that will impact their homes, churches, and worlds.
My main passage was Acts 1.8 - what better for a missions banquet. The three main things were:
1. We can't do missions on our own. Our power comes from the Holy Spirit - we can do nothing on our own.
2. We have to be witnesses of Jesus. The disciples definitely knew who they were talking about - they had lived with Jesus for three years. We can't be missionaries until we have a first hand experience with the risen Jesus.
3. Missions is an everywhere command. We are told to be missionaries everywhere. Not just overseas and not just in our backyard. It is a both/and thing.
I also gave a short bio of Lilias Trotter who was a single woman missionary to Algeria and worked with Muslim women. She had passionate abandonment, despite many physical obstacles, to no one but God - giving up pleasures of this world because of the infinite worth of the next world.
I pray that those ladies were encouraged to be obedient to do missions wherever they are. And that they wouldn't settle - that they would ask God to do amazing things and notice how HE does them.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Travis Cottrell

Travis Cottrell, worship leader for Beth Moore conferences, was at Fegenbush last night. It was the closest thing I've gotten to Bobby, Jason, and Chris/Jason here in Louisville. Too bad Travis is not here all the time. It was a great evening of really great worship songs.

The choir of about 125 sounds incredible. This is a friend of mine Tracy who sang in it with Travis (who is from NC, so she was pretty excited about it).

These are just some of the lyrics that caught my attention:

"hear the angels' awe" - I can think of them in Isaiah 6 singing holy holy holy over and over again. Having a glimpse of the majestic glory of God in his splendor, on his throne. Were we to ever catch that glory as well, maybe our worship would be different as well. Maybe we would be on our faces, or standing with arms lifted so high and stretching out our fingertips because we just can't reach high enough.

We sang two of the greatest modern hymns last night: Made Me Glad, also on a Hillsong CD I have; and In Christ Alone. I love Made Me Glad because it talks about all the things that God promises to be for us: shield, my strength, portion, deliverer, strong tower, very present help in time of need - straight out of the Psalms. Also, In Christ Alone because it is the gospel in one song - such powerful words. How can you sing that song and not understand the worthlessness of us as sinners, but the great love of Jesus for God's greater glory to come and die for us so that we may live to bring him glory?

Travis quoted Rom 12.1-2 from the message. "Quickly recognize what the Lord wants from you and do it." We miss the mark on this in two ways: we don't recognize what the Lord wants from us because we are too busy in our own worlds to read the Word and digest the Word to know what the Lord wants. Our lives are too busy and hectic that we don't spend enough quality time in the presence the Lord, listening, taking notes, beseeching Him to come and dwell in us in a captivating and authentic way. The second way is that if we do know it, we don't do it (at least not immediately). As the pastor of a church said yesterday, why don't we stop asking God to do things in us that He has already given us the power to do: like stop being angry, stop sinning, stop spending too much money, etc. He has given us the power (through the death and resurrection of Jesus) to overcome sin yet we still do it and wonder why we aren't being successful in our Christian walk.

One of the last songs we sang was "Jesus Saves". Amazing song. One of the lines is "see the sky alive with praise". He has and will redeem the creation. But more so...He has redeemed us. We are HIS! We ought to live our lives in daily worship of Him. Authentic to others, focused on Him, not mirroring our current culture. The Bible says to clap, dance, shout for joy...yet in so many churches we sit and don't even nod our head with the beat of the music or tap our foot along to the beat. If the song says Jesus Saves Jesus Saves - that ought to evoke something in us that makes us want to stand and shout - in honor of the one who saved us - not sit there with our hands folded like that phrase means nothing to us.


Friday, October 19, 2007

Two Institutions on Modesty

Recently, I've had the pleasure of being introduced to the blog of these guys - Two Institutions. Mike Hall, one of the contributors, over the summer, wrote a blog similar to mine recently on Modesty and Femininity. It was definitely an encouragement to me to hear a fellow brother in Christ say this - and one in the same age bracket - not an old dad or a 70 year old pastor (not that those are bad) - but a brother who is striving hard in purity and holiness. Girls - you definitely need to check it out - and hear the heart behind it. Strive forward in holiness and in purity. Thanks Mike for the entry. Keep em coming - those girls in RDU need to hear it! :) (But I love them anyway).

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Technology and Ministry

Technology has gotten a bad rap lately - and I want to bring some good back to it. Some are taking a tech sabbath - which I definitely think is a great idea. Some complain that Halo and Playstation are stealing time. Some have complained that bloggers are really lazy and they need to get out and do something instead of sit behind a computer all day and blog. Some say different networking sites are bad and lead to practices of evil.
I don't want to lump all in to either category. But, I want to bring a good note into the discussion.
I use technology to do ministry. I love writing on this blog and my food blog (when I have a kitchen to cook). The food blog started as a way to help my college girls learn how to cook. My blog started out as a way for me to record my devotional thoughts. Since my "girls" are so spread out in FL, NC, SC, and then I have other ministry connections all over the country and world - technology is great.
I started on Facebook about 3 weeks ago. Good gracious - what a blessing that has been. I get to encourage people by reading their profiles and praying for them or offering them Scriptures to read. I get to hear what is going on in ministries around the country and learn how I can pray for them. I stay up with the lives of high school and college girls and know how I can minister to them - even 3 or 4 states away.
I love cell phones and texting. I have a friend who texts us Scripture 3 or 4 days a week. You never know when that particular verse will come in handy that day. I think of the sufficiency of Scripture! :)
What about itunes and podcasts. I love being about to listen to sermons from Josh Harris, David Sims, JD Greear, James MacDonald, Mason Reigger, John Piper, Mark Dever, CJ, all at the push of a button, instead of spending so much time on gas and travel.
So, while I shouldn't waste my time in front of a computer, I should use the means and technology that God has given for HIS GLORY.
As with everything in life - for HIS greater glory!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Modesty, Femininity, & Feminism

I have few "soapboxes" but this definitely is one of them. I saw the bulk issue during my college years because I was living in St. Augustine doing youth ministry. It caused many problems: trying to get the girls to dress modestly when all they wanted to wear, especially 10 months out of the year, were bathing suits and tank tops.

The problem, I have learned, is not with the clothes you wear, the length of your skirt, and how many fingers-wide your tank top strap is. The problem lies in the heart and the motivation for wearing what we wear. I was given a CJ Mahaney sermon to listen to by Veronica Greear about the "Soul of Modesty" - you can find it here. I started listening to it before I left the church parking lot; and God had convicted me deep in my heart by the time I reached the red light (first couple minutes of the sermon which was mostly Scripture). Modesty is a matter of the heart, not necessarily of the closet.

How this whole blog entry came about today was by an article I read today in the Southern Baptist Texan, a newspaper out of Texas. One of the things Penna Dexter said was "Christian women and girls unwittingly undermine their testimonies by the way they dress." How true! Some of our girls are learning how to dress by watching the teen stars on television - and yes, this even occurs in our churches and youth groups. Modesty is about: a gentle and quiet spirit, not letting the outward appearance take control or define our inward spirit. If we want the world to see what Biblical Femininity is - the first thing they are going to see is how we dress. Now, I'm not saying we have to wear skirts that cover our ankles, long sleeve shirts in the summer time, and never wear a bathing suit. I am saying think before you buy an outfit. Think what this might say to a lost and dying world, or to younger girls that you are trying to mentor. Moms - think what your daughters are seeing every time they watch you get dressed to go somewhere. What are you modeling? I had a friend of mine in college tell me once, "It doesn't matter. I could wear a long sleeve shirt and jeans and guys would still lust after me." That isn't modesty. It is about the heart - and then that is reflected in the wardrobe.

One of the things that impressed me most in the Pastor CJ's sermon mentioned earlier (he preached it to his own people at Covenant Life in Gaithersburg, MD) was his emphasis on the Dad's being the head of the household, the spiritual leader, even in what their daughters and their wives wear (see 1 Tim 3.4). This is not widely seen in families today. Dexter said, "mothers hold the purse strings and have the final say regarding their daughters' clothes." Why is that? Do Dad's really not care how young men are looking at their daughters? Do they not care what their daughters' and wife's clothes say about them as a father and a husband? Dads - please, we want you to be the fathers God created you to be. If you don't have time or desire to go spend the afternoon at the mall: review everything that is brought home (most girls love fashion shows, especially when they are on the runway), go through catalogues or the Internet stores with your daughters before they go, teach them what is and isn't appropriate of young Christian girls, train them up (Prov. 22.6).

Last, what does this say about feminism. Dexter talks about the impact of the sexual revolution: "girls are victims of this corrosion. So is a society that once benefited from the virtue of its women. But we no longer encourage that virtue, and the sexual revolution of the 1960s that claimed to empower women has fueled a full-blown sexualized culture." She went on to talk about the positive changes that are seen in some aspects of culture that this might be changing. It might be changing, but we've got a long way to go.

A couple of things that might make the change more wide spread:

1. Dads - please love your wives and daughters (and God) enough to know and care about what they are wearing - teach them about modesty and how looks matter to guys. Girls don't see the clothes the way guys see clothes. Protect us - we want that.

2. Women - learn to look at yourself in the mirror before you walk out: are bra straps showing, can you see through your skirt or blouse, when you bend down, can you see down your shirt? All these are important questions. And think not only "do I look cute in this outfit" but "how am I going to honor my brothers (in Christ) today by this outfit". Think unselfishly!

3. Churches - be the CJ Mahaneys and teach about this in your youth group, college group, from the pulpit. Don't leave clothes and apparel just to the GAP window dressers and Britney Spears Bratz Dolls. They aren't cutting it. They are teaching our young girls the wrong way to dress. This is what's happening with those: "The doe-eyed, midriff-baring doll was dressed in cheap pink-and-black lingerie and looked as if she should be dancing round a pole.
"It’s one of the BratzBabyz!" the little girl burst out. "She’s called Sugar and I want to be just like her!" This was at a 4-yr old birthday party.

4. And as with anything - be modeling the grace and glory of God in what you wear and how you wear it.

Friday, October 05, 2007

The Mortification of Sin - John Owen

J I Packer said of John Owen, "embodied all that was noblist in Puritan devotion". This book definitely was a mark of that. This was one of the most difficult books I have read - not in terms of length or subject matter, but of its power (by the Holy Spirit) to cut to the heart of sin in me. I would put this second to Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges on the subject of personal holiness.
These re just some quotes that I underlined while reading the book:
"When Scripture tells Christians to mortify sin, the meaning is not just that bad habits must be broken, but that sinful desires and urgings must have the life drained out of them." (p. 15)I was thinking about this in terms of the Office (NBC) show last night. I wondered why so many Christians liked it when it caused us (in our flesh) to laugh at things that weren't funny or God-glorifying (Phil 4.8, Eph 4)? I don't want to laugh at, crave, desire, or glimpse at sin - I want that personal holiness and integrity (being above reproach). There is a "deceitfulness of sin" (145) - Satan is not going to make sin look ugly and unattractive - or Oreos and Cheese fries wouldn't taste so good and tv wouldn't be so entertaining.
Nothing we can do on our own will help remedy sin. Being in NY this week (where there are many practicing/non-practicing Catholics) reminded me of how so many people's salvation is based on their good works. "In vain do men seek other remedies, they shall not be healed by them". (40) We can do all the things we want, "but being strangers to the Spirit of God, all in vain." (46)
If we want to be useful in ministry - and effective in reaching the lost and discipling others - then we must not let sin take root in our lives. "An unmortified lust will drink up the spirit and all its vigour of the soul, and weaken it for all its duties." (51) Owen says "surely it will take away a man's usefulness in his generation." (117)
I've even been reminded by people since I've been in L-ville to not try to outwit temptation, or think I can handle it on my own. The Word says to flee temptation, "lust gets strength by temptation." (65) Do you want to strengthen your relationship with God or strengthen your depravity by staying in sin?
This is not merely the outward remedying of sin - but we need to be killing sin at its root. "This is the folly of some men. They set themselves with all earnestness and diligence against the appearing eruption of lust; but leaving the principle and root untouched, perhaps unsearched out, they make but little or no progress in this work of mortification." (68) That's why I think it is hard for some people to understand and confess sin. They are waiting to find that outward sin - not realizing that most of our sin (or at least mine) comes from a wrong heart and attitude. But, God sees that heart and knows our thoughts (Ps 139).
But - praise be for the cross of Christ - "There is no death of sin without the death of Christ." (74) This is where our hope is (1 Cor 15). If not, we are, above all men, to be most pitied.
I was talking about this last night while I was at Carabba's with a friend, and she said "aren't you glad that God doesn't do all the refining at once." YES! God's process of sanctification doesn't happen all at once, it is gradual. But, I am glad that He convicts daily of sin in my heart and helps me to 'kill it." (Mal 3, p 76)
I am reminded of a CS Lewis quote about playing in mud puddles at the beach (meaning we settle for here when we are really made for something not here and something so much better). The glory of Christ is so much better than any of the fun sin can bring. "If ever God shine into their hearts to give them the knowledge of his glory in the face of his Son Jesus Christ, they will see the folly of their present way." (86) God's glory is brighter! I think of the hymn Fairest Lord Jesus and Come Thou Fount. (Gen 39.9 - Joseph's thoughts on the matter). "All that he knows by it, is but little, low, compared to the perfection of his glory." (133)
God is so utterly gracious in his dealings with us and sin - as a breach to his holiness. "When God says, he will heal their breaches and disconsolations, he assumes this privilege to himself in an especial manner" (146) I am reminded of one of the passages in Gen and how JD brought that passage to life in a favorite marriage/sermon. Gen 15 is a clear demonstration of this thought by Owen.
We can be like the psalmist David when he pants for God (ps 42 I think). "Get thy heart into a panting and breathing frame; long, sigh cry out." (125). I know I don't do this enough, and I don't think we as a church do this enough? Do you?
So what is one way to do this: "Be much in thoughtfulness of the excellency of the majesty of God and thine infinite, inconceivable distance from him." (131). If we think on Christ more often - then we are less apt to sin.
"Mortification of any sin must be by a supply of grace. Of ourselves we cannot do it. We are freed from the condemning power of sin, and ought yet to make it their business, all their days, to mortify the indwelling power of sin." (25, 166)
This is where I will end. This came more from a talk with my pastor (thanks James) in the White Plains airport last week. I wasn't even done with the book, but conviction over sin was so strong. He said, go home, read Rom 8, and don't read another Puritan book for a while, follow this one up with a book on grace). Good advice! But, here is a way John Owen's puts it: "Consider the infinite patience and forbearance of God towards thee in particular. And yet, above all thy expectation, he hath returned with visitations of love, and wilt thou yet abide in the provocation of the eyes of his glory? How often hast thou been at the door of being hardened by the deceitfulness of sin, and by the infinite, rich grace of God hast been recovered to communion with Him again!" (123)

If you need a thick book to read - go for it. It is going to be hard. But, read it in light of the amazing grace of Jesus - the cross has paid the penalty - and we have no condemnation. But, be thankful for the power of conviction of the Holy Spirit - he restores us to a right fellowship with our Creator and the Lover of Our Souls.

Pastor Appreciation Month #3 - OC

Well, now we are to the latest of the three most influential churches on me. This is the one I'm currently a member of, but have moved - but still have yet to find a church in L-ville. First Baptist Orange City is a growing, thriving church...and these are just a few of their staff...
James Hilton - pastor. It was such a joy for me to serve under his pastoral leadership. I told him long ago when we met at seminary that it would be fun to be in his church - and I'm so glad God gave me that opportunity, even if just for a few months. He loves his family. He loves the Word. He is so compassionate for his people - a true shepherd. He believes in the Sovereignty and Control of God in all things. He believes in me and the gifts that God has graciously given me. I appreciate that about him. He challenges me. I thank you for your friendship and continued prayer and help. (I'm almost done with Owen, will finish today).
Jason Wilson - worship pastor. I don't think I've sat under a worship pastor that has such a love for contemporary worship, theologically sound songs, and culture/philosophy. He is absolutely so smart in this and brings it to the table every Sunday. He is a great teacher. He is talented in leading worship, a rare skill and gift from the Spirit. He is an encourager and loves to read. Jason - thank you for showing me what a great contemporary worship service would look like. It was very refreshing! :)
Jeremy Beeler- Student/College pastor. Thank you. Thank you for believing in me and letting me use my gifts there and ask for my insight and thoughts on things - and counting them as valid. Thank you for loving your wife and children. Thank you for holding your daughter's hand and having that bring a big smile to your face (and her's). Thank you for your passion for church and college students - and the Truth of the word of God. That is also rare in today's churches, and I'm glad God brought you and Elizabeth there to the OC. Thank you for teaching Charlie to cry out with David Crowder songs instead of silly child songs (the words are so much more meaningful). Thank you for your hospitality and graciousness and realness. God is using you mightily on Stetson's campus - be encouraged.

Thanks guys very much. Sorry I was there for such a short time - but look at the impact you guys have had on my life. Thank you for letting me serve with you guys at the OC.

Pastor Appreciation Month #2 - Summit

Going on down the line, with about 3 years in between Anastasia and Summit (link on the right, in Durham NC)...
These pastors (not all of them by any means, just a select few)...have such a rare gift of humor, theology, love for others, brilliance in their subject - and almost any other subject. I've enjoyed my friendship with all of them. I have learned so much from being a part of the Summit - and I continue to learn much even though I've moved on from the church. All of these men love Jesus with everything they are - that is a given (just so I don't have to say it for every one).
JD Greear - lead pastor. He is brilliant. That is the first thing. He can preach a sermon that someone with a PhD will enjoy but also one that a person who has never heard the gospel will learn from and understand. What a rare gift! He has never changed in personality from when I first met him 7 years ago. He is still JD - nothing has gone to his head! He is real - he admits that he isn't perfect. I really enjoyed teaching a Bible study with his "smokin hot wife" (his words) for 3 years - living life with them. He is the same person in the house as he is on the stage with a mic on his lapel. He loves the world and wants them to come to know Jesus - he is not satisfied with status quo - he is such a visionary. All these things make a great LEAD Pastor. JD - thank you for having me at your church, for still answering my emails, and being a real pastor.
Chris Gaynor - Worship Pastor. I would have to say the thing I like most about Chris is his wife, Michelle. Seriously though...I do love her, she is a dear friend, but Chris has a lot of great qualities as well. I learned how to live out Ps 34 and Ps 27 from him. He loves music and making worship a real and integral part of each service - and each congregants life! He glories in Christ, he is a great preacher (JD, watch out), he adores his wife, he is a great cook. He has two fantastic parents. Chris - thank you for loving college students, passionate worship, and your wife.
Jason Douglas - Chris' right hand man. I remember when Jason came to the Summit - we got there about the same time, he was at UNC. He had an amazing charisma that people just flocked to him. But, he used that charisma not for himself, but for God's glory. He has not changed at all either. Some people let "fame and power" go to their head. No...Jason is still Jason - just in seminary, married, and on stage all the time. But, he loves Jesus and wants college students to know and experience authentic worship. Also, the thing I like most - he's from the good state and he likes my oatmeal raisin cookies! :)
Danny Franks
- Connections Pastor. what a kidster! :) Danny - thank you for really being my pastor the last few years. Thank you for taking time out to pray with me and for me and about sin and situations, thank you for your guidance and laughter and wisdom. Thank you for your amazing organization skills and the obvious talent of remembering peoples' names. You are gifted beyond your years and more than anyone I know in that regards. Thank you - you mean a lot to me - and for loving your wife and kids!
Brad O'Brien - Community/Missions Pastor. Thank you for giving me opportunity to love on college girls for 3 years. Thank you for showing me a passion for the world - especially the PacRim. Thank you for allowing me to go over there with the first Institute. Two things I love about Brad - he passion for the world (NYC, PacRim, Durham, UNC/Duke) and his great humility. He, more than anyone I know, loves the grace of God and realizes where he would be without it. Brad - not many people are like that - thank you for modeling that. Thank you for your passion for reading and knowing more things. Thank you for stories about the thunder chicken and talking with me about football (even though we pull for different teams usually). Go Gators! And congrats on the upcoming marriage to Jena-Marie. Sorry I won't be there, but Louisville is a little far away.
Guys - thank you for living out the gospel and for loving those around you.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Pastor Appreciation Month #1 - ABC

Ok, I'm going in order here, somewhat of a timeline...
October is Pastor Appreciation month (just in case you weren't aware of it). Usually I try to do something fun for them, but since I'm so far away - I have to do it on here.
First - I will start with Anastasia Baptist. It is in my favorite city in the world, St. Augustine. Two of the pastors there mean a lot to me - so I appreciate them.
Bobby - worship leader and hand in everything else guy. Does Singles ministry, college ministry pastor (so he oversees the actual leaders). He was my "boss" when I was on staff there doing youth ministry back before seminary. Bobby has come to be someone I highly respect and he is more of a big brother to me. He challenges me to think and not just take things for what others say they are. He always pursues new music and brings the latest to the table. He is so gifted at the guitar. He loves his three girls: wife Patty, girls Allie and Anna. He has many talents outside of the church - like growing flowers and fruit in the back yard. Bobby - thank you for believing in the talents and gifts God has graciously given me. Thank you for allowing me to use them. Thanks for offering advice and prayers - even when we may not always see eye to eye. Thanks for introducing me to FoxTrot tea and Arizona Green Tea. You never know when one might show up on your desk.
Mason - youth pastor extraordinaire! He wasn't even there when I was on staff, he came the month I left to go to NC. But, over the past almost 8 years I've come to respect this man of God for sticking to the Word of God even when it wasn't the most popular thing to do. He strives hard to model integrity and holiness for the guys he leads in the youth group - above reproach. He is creative - that is definitely an understatement. Some of the things that God gives him in the way of youth ministry - I would never even have thought of. God has graciously given him so many gifts that he uses for HIS glory. Those are the two things I love most about him - his creativity and his love for the Word. Thank you for respecting my opinion on some things and letting me do some ministry with your girls.

Bobby and Mason - thank you for making a difference in St. Augustine and St. Johns County by being a spiritual lighthouse on Anastasia Island (where do I know that quote from). I pray that God continues to bless you both in every way possible to the richest degree. All for HIS glory. I look forward to seeing you both in February, if not before.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Ode to Friends and Toy Story

I love that movie. I love the characters, the voices, the plot, the funness (is that a word) of it, all of it. It makes me laugh and smile just thinking about it. But, I'm not going into Toy Story details - watch it for yourself. But, I want to talk about friends. I have plenty of them - God has been extremely gracious in that department. So, this definitely isn't about naming them all, just want to highlight three who have been very influential in the past couple months especially.

Sarah - I've known Sarah the longest out of these three women. She makes me laugh, challenges me in living and in the Word, she is brilliant, she is very resourceful, she loves Jesus and sharing Him all over the world. She'll go on long bike rides with me, share her clothes, make tasty meals and show me how to make hummus and other yummy stuff. She's amazing - and I miss her.

Rachael - I've known Rachael a little over 2 years - and it really feels like I've known her forever. She acts as my friend yes, but also my "Priest". I can call and confess things to her and she is an amazing listener and accountability partner. I often think we are a lot a like, but then realize how different we are. But, I love her - and I'm so grateful for Matthew (another friend) and the Shanes for introducing us! It was an amazing night that ended in great food (Red Robin) and a great friendship.

Elizabeth - I've known her the shortest - only for about 6 months, although we overlapped in RDU for a period of time. She is an amazing wife, friend, mother, homemaker, lover of God, pours herself into the Word. She is the only married one out of the bunch that I've mentioned. She teaches her kids the praise and worship and adoration of God. She is so hospitable.

I look at these three women that God has placed in my life, women who will be used of God to convict me when I am, encourage me when I am down, and love me and pour into me to make me more into the image of Christ. These three women are all amazingly similar and all have similar goals in life.
Hebrews 3.12, 13:
Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

Phil 1.3 definitely applies to all of these women. I am eternally grateful girls! :)

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

A Crowning Moment

I just returned earlier today from my weekend in White Plains. It was a great weekend of ministry and fellowship in a decidedly different world then the south. I really liked the city of White Plains - and the town of Granite Springs we (the ladies and I) went to on Saturday to pick apples. I got a suitcase full (25 lbs), and a small pumpkin. Angela and I roasted pumpkin seeded and got out the filling to make our own "canned" pumpkin. It wasn't as difficult as I thought. So, now I have apples to eat and bake with - if I only had a kitchen. I may just have to go borrow one.
I learned many things this weekend: conviction of the Holy Spirit and Grace is so rich and free. Also, what is looks like for women to be the crown of their husbands. Even though I'm not married - I can think to that end. But, also, I'm already married and the Bride of Christ...I should not want anyone to look at me and see me, but I should want people to look at me, see Christ the King - and not even think of the crown that He wears. I want people to look at me and see Christ - with me doing no harm to the name of Christ. Oh, how far I have to go.
Pray for Christ the King Church - they are reaching a mostly Catholic neighborhood and definitely a multi-cultural city. Good thing God is a multi-cultural God - meaning that it doesn't matter whether you are white, black, hispanic, asian...Jesus is. (period).
Enjoy the pictures. Ones from the pumpkin/apple farm and the others are from the Sims' backporch at sunset - beautiful Creator God that we serve!

This Week in Magazines

This week in are some thoughts:
From Christianity Today...a Hillsong Article. My relation to hillsong started back in the day when Bobby Crum was starting the contemporary music scene at ABC, but before that, brought in some early hillsong tunes to the youth worship on Wed nights. Now, Jill is there and Mel is going - why does everyone want to go to Oz? Anyway...their music is all over the place and you probable sing it in your church whether you know them by name or not. Most of their music is correct theologically, although some I skip on the CDs because it seems like they write some songs for the lyrics to rhyme, instead of to be biblically correct. But, I take the good stuff. They probably have the most music titles on my iPod, so I definitely like them.
Their church is 20 years old and stretching across the globe - with United doing their first worship conference in Orlando next month (another thing I have to miss b/c I'm outside the state of FL).
This was an article on their fame and churches going world-wide...
"The church is Christ's body in which he speaks and acts and fills everything with his presence." Christ is the head of the local body - I wish more churches lived like that. Instead we get to hear of church splits and denominational catastrophes and marriages of pastors that end in divorce. Oh, if more of our churches lived out this above statement.
"To build something beautiful that reflected God in a beautiful way." That was the Houston's desire as they kept plugging into Hillsong. So many of our churches in many different denominations have other motivations than to lift up the name of Jesus and proclaim His salvation and His alone in a dark world.
"Can people flourish under your ministry?" This is a great question to ask no matter what ministry you do - whether you are a boss of an organization, a Bible study teacher to 3 women or 40 women or 10 3rd graders. Are people growing in the Truth and knowledge of God's Word by them being in your ministry? This has got to be answered - especially in discipleship/teaching ministry. By God's grace, I love looking back on girls' lives that I've plugged into and see what God is doing in their life today. God allowed me to have only a small impact in their life - just as so many has had on mine.
Hillsong is making a difference in many spheres outside the "religion world". That is important. God called us to be salt and light. Are we doing it here in America - or do we just sit on our cushioned pews and sing hymns, pray, go home...
There are some great things about hillsong: worship, small groups (I've heard they are amazing teams of serving together, doing life together, etc), and changing the culture around them.
But, there are also some not so good things: like women worship leaders and pastors. The Biblical model of male headship is not purposed there - they are more of a co-ed. I love Brian's preaching - but I wish they had complete male headship in the pastoral staff - mostly the worship Leader.

Ok - onto another one...What God Has Joined... by David Instone-Brewer; also from Christianity Today.
Ah, the question of divorce and remarriage. It is definitely one that is so involved in our churches than we should ever want. One of those questions that pastors should never have to answer - but sin entered the world almost at the beginning - doing things our way instead of God's way.
"Many have welcomed such stretching of Scripture because they couldn't accept what they believed the text apparently said." This is a sad reality about many subject of what the Bible teaches on. We would rather go on in our sin then come to terms with what the perfect Word of God says - as it cuts to the marrow of who we are. That is a hardness of the heart, something I'm currently reading about in The Mortification of Sin by John Owen (17th century Puritan).
This article is very much like my pastor's sermon recently from Matthew ( Goes through the historical cultural aspects of d/rm before Jesus and during Jesus' earthly ministry.
There is grace and mercy in divorce and remarriage. The fact is - it does happen. Whether it is right or not. How are we going to relate to those who are? Let them be a part of us, or ostracize them because they don't have the "perfect" marriage with 2.5 kids and a dog?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

WORLD magazine on politics, religion, gay marriage, and culture

I was able to flip through a World magazine today and several articles caught my attention, and I thought I would elaborate on them here.

"Not Too Hot, Not Too Cold" - Joel Belz
Good article on how much we want our politicians to be religious. We don't want them to be heretics or heathens, but we don't want them preaching the Word to us all the time either.
"Mike Huckabee...that's dangerous stuff, bordering on radicalism" - on how he was a Baptist Minister
"Mitt Romney...his beliefs in Mormonism shaped him thoroughly...he's a fanatic."
Mr. Belz does say that the founding fathers mention God in the documents of our early country, but very little is made mention of the Trinitarian God and "speak only in vague generalities about God".
We want a person's political beliefs to not be linked to anything demanding like religious beliefs.
But, what does the word of God have to say about it. The title made me immediately think of Revelation where He says to the church "“‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth."
Belz wrote: "or someone whose religion is just an accessory to his life, about as important as the brand of suit he wears, but then he's a mere nominalist."
I don't want a mere nominalist as a politician, as a pastor, and I surely don't want to be a mere nominalist.

On Gay Marriage:
San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders went with his heart on his action of vetoing a law outlawing same-sex marriage. His daughter is a lesbian. But, as soon as I read the statement about "I decided to lead with my heart" I thought of Jeremiah 17.9: "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick, who can understand it?" I guess Sanders didn't think about all the laws in God's Word where it says that homosexuality is a sin and God didn't create sex or marriage for that - He created both for His glory in the relationship of a covenantal marriage between a man and a woman for life.

On "Braveheart" - Jenny Kraemer
The first time I saw the trailer for Jodie Foster's movie The Brave One, I thought of a recent sermon by my pastor, James Hilton, on love and how we always seek vengeance - and not love (out of the sermon on the mount). But, as I read the article I was convicted about something else. Aren't most movies the same as this one? Take Batman (I love this series) - it is all about his vengeance of his parents' death. But, we cheer for Batman, we cheer at the end of all these movies. We don't think of it as sin do we? James Mac just preached a couple of sermons on this topic as well. We don't think about our lives being gripped by fear, "grappling with the pragmatics of justice and mercy". The only answer "Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him." (Isaiah 30.18).

I hope these thoughts spur you on to read magazines and culture and the light of the Word. May you think about the WORD as you read and engage culture. Don't be afraid of culture - but view everything through the lens of the WORD - have a Biblical Worldview.

Convergent...or Converging...that is NOT the question

This past weekend, Southeastern Seminary hosted a conference about a popular topic (or an unpopular topic) - the Emerging Church. It was called the Convergent Conference.

Some key people in this discussion were present on the campus of the old Wake Forest College (now the Demon Deacons of Winston-Salem) to lead this dialogue: Dr. J. D. Greear, Dr. Alvin Reid, Ed Stetzer, Mark Driscoll, Dr. Danny Akin. If you weren't able to make it to the conference (like me), you do have the opportunity to listen to it thanks to the media services at Southeastern. If you have any interest in this area of church/missiology/theology/culture - then you should definitely spend some time in the next few days to listen to these messages. I've listened to Driscoll's now twice and am sure I could still glean more from it.

JD did a great job on Acts 16 - noting how Paul reached different types of people and broke the customs of his day - but didn't water down the gospel at all.
Stetzer, who works for Lifeway in Nashville, spoke on the church and who we are. He asked why the church is in decline in North America? It is mainly because we have forgot the Jesus message that should define us and we have become ineffective: we have lost our passion and we must truly not want to see the world change. If we had those two things - we would be doing church differently in most of our churches. Two other things he said that were important enough for me to write down: "you can't love Jesus and hate his wife" - (my friend wrote a blog post on that, go check it out as well), "we fall in love with the forms" - He was talking about how we fall in love with the form of church (worship, carpet, evangelism programs, etc) but then we fall out of love with Jesus. The forms aren't the things that are going to save of us from hell and give us abundant life. No programs ever saved people. They were instruments - not the Savior. Jesus is that!
I want to talk mainly about what Mark Driscoll said. He has gotten somewhat of a bad reputation within conservative circles, some were even surprised by Southeastern bringing him to the campus. But, his theology is right on - no one could fault him on his theology. So maybe he practices it a little differently than we do...
Anyway...Dr. Akin asked him to categorize the Emerging Movement for the audience. This was very helpful. Everyone linked to this movement is not necessarily in the same boat.
He set up three categories if you will: relevance (the "cool church"), new reformed (nicer version of the old reformed), and revisionist (these are the ones that we need to be concerned about).
He would put the following people in the Relevance camp: Dan Kimball, Donald Miller (of Blue Like Jazz fame), and Erwin McManus (he is also speaking at the Catalyst Conference coming up soon). These (as far as he is concerned) do not have anything wrong with their theology, they aren't heretics.
The Revisionist Camp would be people like Doug Pagitt, Rob Bell, and Brian McLaren: These are ones who have left the Scriptural faith and have opted for their own theology. They use books in their writings from people from the Jesus Seminar and ones who believe in Open Theology (that God is bipolar and still evolving). Driscoll said that he heard McClaren say that he didn't want to take a side on homosexuality because he didn't want to hurt either side. Sin is sin - as Driscoll pointed out that any sexual activity outside of a heterosexual marriage is sin. I loved what he said about taking stances on God's Word: "When God speaks, we aren't to converse, we are to obey."
The New Reformed people would be folks like Joshua Harris, CJ Mahaney, John Piper, Matt Chandler, JD, Mark Driscoll, young pastors who preach longer expository sermons and want to preach the Word, call people out of sin, to trust in Jesus, and to change the world with the love of Jesus.
If I had to be in a "camp", I would definitely choose this last one. And I'm not just saying that. I am not just saying that because some would call it the right camp, because frankly I know a lot of people who fall into the other ones. I honestly haven't read Blue Like Jazz or Velvet Elvis (although this is the book I'm working through when I go to B&N for the evening) or Generous Orthodoxy.
But, you know, as I've been in seminary and out of seminary...I've learned church and the Christian life is not about being in a camp, although some people might want it that way.
I figure this:
God is holy
Jesus is both God and man
Man is sinful and is going to a final hell without Jesus
Jesus died on the cross as my only way of salvation
The Spirit regenerated me
Salvation is by grace alone and faith alone
The church has a command to reach the world with the uncompromised Gospel of Jesus
The Bible is the true utterance of God - he spoke it through the Spirit to the writers.
The Word is sufficient.
We need to be going out in the "real" world and reaching the lost of our cities: something that JD and Mark and Dr. Reid are doing on a normal basis. Driscoll may go to places I won't - but why won't I go? Dr. Reid wants young people and students in his churches that have earrings and long hair - what is wrong with that - why don't some of our churches want them in their's? JD spends his time and his staff's time in the "slums" of Durham reaching them, ministering to them, LOVING them with the love of Jesus and the cross. That is what all of us should be doing. Why aren't we?
Dr. Patterson preached on 2 Tim 4 - this is the truth the churches should be doing. We have to change our methods - but we CANNOT change our message:
I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

New CBMW Site and Blog

Since about 2000, I have been greatly influenced by the ministry of CBMW: Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. Their ministry in teaching, producing, and highlighting the Biblical foundations for gender roles has influenced my teaching and understanding of Scripture on this subject. This gender role topic plays into every area of life: dating, marriage, family, church, ministry, politics, etc. This is not a topic that can be ignored. While I was in NC I saw it taught and lived well both in the classroom and in the home.
CBMW has a new site - just came out less than a week ago. Included on that site is a blog dealing with all things related to gender roles. I would definitely recommend saving the link to your favorites folder, read it daily, listen to the messages they have linked on the site.
Also, the JBMW is the Journal - all students need to get it and read it (it is cheap, don't worry, you can afford it). It has been a help to me in my seminary career, but more importantly, it has helped as I've had discussions with pastors about this topic, girls on what ministry they can and can't do, how marriages should work - especially when arguments take place, or when girls are dating and want to know about submission.
Check it out - it will be a help to you.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Simple Hospitality

At a friend's home this weekend (where hospitality is done so well), I picked up a book called Simple Hospitality by Jane Jarrell. I love reading about this discipline, even though in a dorm it is very hard to practice it (in the home that is). But I can still practice hospitality outside the home and gear up for it when I move to an apt in early December. I'm so ready!
Mrs. Jarrell made this book very readable and applicable. She had strategically placed tips at the end of each chapter that would serve as reminders of what the chapter was about and give you some quick tips.
I loved her explaining hospitality and what home is - a place of comfort, relaxation, but also one of healing and pleasure and friendship and safety and warmth.
For me - it was eye opening. Sometimes my hospitable acts are more attempts to show people how well I can cook and entertain. That is not the law of hospitality in Scripture. It is doing unto others and not caring about self. That is where I need the grace of God! As I continue to practice hospitality (b/c it is a command), I pray that I would get out of the way and make welcome other people.
I have great examples of this in my life - whom I hope to watch and learn from:
Misty and Cory Harp
Lindsay and Brad Weldy
Phyllis and Billy Robshaw
Rachael Woodworth
Elizabeth and Jeremy Beeler
Lisa and Matt Moseley
Clarissa and Bob Bacon

They need to all get together and write a book - it would be a best seller! :)
Thanks for all you do for the command of hospitality - letting God's love and light shine through you.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

a day in the life of a college football fan

Wow - what a day in college football. If you have tivo'd any of your games and don't want to find out how they end - watch them, then come back! :)

Gators - with so many STINKIN' penalties (I wonder what they will be working on this week) - still pulled out a W against the Rebels. How do you kill UT one week then barely win against Ole Miss the next? Haven't figured that one out yet! Urban is still a brilliant coach!

UGA - pulls out a victory. I was pulling for Richt's team because they were both SEC, so I had to pull for the East team. You gotta stick with your division - its all about loyalty. Plus, I think Mark is a better coach than Nick.

Spurrier got beat in the Bayou. They held with them a little bit, but then they just couldn't play - and that fantastic little fake punt...what a play!

App State - they beat Michigan and lose to Wofford - what is up with that? You can never tell each week in college football what will happen?

UNC looked pathetic today against the very impressive first time ever ranked in the top 25 USF Bulls. Don't worry - I'm not jumpin' on the latest Florida Football bandwagon - but their QB is great, and UNC's threw way too many INTs.

And now that I live in L-ville - I'm still not a L-ville fan (I'd rather cheer for the Wildcats because they are SEC), they lose again, 2 losses in a row, pretty soon, they'll be unranked again!

I guess that is about it. Tomorrow is Colts and Bucs (in their own games). Gotta love football weekends in the fall! :)

Go Gators!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Intimacy with Jesus and Powerful Hymns

Today's chapel was very good. The preaching, but I stuck mostly on the call to worship verses that were read. Kinda get a verse stuck in your head - then you go with that. All the music fit in with it as well.
The verse was right after a very familiar passage, but I don't think I've ever concentrated on these verses before:
John 10.14-15
"I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father..."

If I call myself a follower of Jesus - than I am one of his sheep (as this passage calls me). Then I am supposed to know Jesus and be known by Jesus just as the Father knows the Son and vice versa. Think about that - what does that entail?

Jesus was one with the Father.
Jesus took time to spend with the Father.
Jesus talked with the Father.
Jesus listened to the Father.
Jesus knew the Father's Words (the OT).
Jesus went about the work that His Father gave Him to do.
Jesus didn't grumble and complain b.c his Father gave him something to do.
Jesus told others about the One whom He was so close to.
Jesus put his relationship with His Father above all else.
Jesus was obedient to the Father above all.

Now, what does that look like for me?
Am I one with Jesus? Do I know his heart and his passions and his wants and desires for my life? Do I talk with Jesus as often as Jesus did the Father? Do I know the Words of Scripture as completely as Jesus did? Am I always about the work of Jesus here on this earth?
Do I put my relationship with Him above all else?

Lately - I would have to say I'm intimate with my computer, Facebook, ESPN, my Sodoku book, James MacDonald sermons, JD Greear sermons, iTunes. While those aren't bad things in and of themselves - if they take the priority space - than they become a distraction - slothful as JD preached a few weeks ago.

Here are the songs we sang today: (it wasn't as good as ABC's version on the GO Cd, but still the song was good.
"Come Thou Fount" -
O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

"Before the Throne of God Above" ( I love this one - Hebrews all wrapped in a song)
Before the throne of God above
I have a strong and perfect plea.
A great high Priest whose Name is Love
Who ever lives and pleads for me.
My name is graven on His hands,
My name is written on His heart.
I know that while in Heaven He stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart.

"In Christ Alone" - not as good as the Summit or Faith, but again, the song kept its meaning:
And as He stands in victory
Sin's curse has lost it's grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Brought with the precious blood of Christ
No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life's first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
'Till He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand