Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Full Gospel

So, I woke up the other morning (Friday) with hymns of mercy in my head and focusing on mercy and grace (what a great thing to wake up to). so, I got ready for my day and then spent some time in the Word studying mercy. Really limited it to the NT that morning. The last verse I read that morning was Titus 3.3-7:
For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
How had I never focused on these verses before? Its like I had never read them (but of course I had), but God just opened my eyes to them that morning. Here is the full gospel in 5 verses:
Our state before Christ - slaves, foolish (saying there is no God), hated, doing evil
God's action (again the more reformed model of salvation) - only according to God's great mercy did Christ appear
Regeneration through the Holy Spirit
Justified (as if I had never sinned) by grace
Heirs to eternal life! That is our HOPE!
But, the thinking of it didn't end there. I text it to some of my girls. Then I got to church on Sunday morning (the Summit) and Chris allowed us to read it as a congregation. So, see, God just made me dwell on it all weekend. What a powerful way to tell your testimony. And its all because of God's goodness and kindness (Rom 2.4)

Monday, July 30, 2007

Friends in NC

It was so amazing (and tiring) to be in NC this weekend. I have totally missed it (the scenery) and the people there.

Got up there Wed after a long drive and hung out with Kasey, Frank, and Katelyn. We went to youth group where Frank talked about wise speech from 2 Tim (he is actually doing expository preaching to youth group on Wed night - unheard of!) Way to go Frank! We had some amazing fresh shrimp (caught by an adult vol in his youth group) and parm pork chops - thanks for your hospitality!

Thursday was appointments (thank goodness for chiropractors and hair experts!), breakfast with a very pregnant and glowing Mrs. Gaynor, and then hanging out with Rach and Matt and some new seminary friends eating a delicious dinner and ice cream that Rach made and playing badmitton. Rach took all the pictures and she has yet to send them to me, so when I get them I'll put them on here.

Friday was seminary hanging out day and rehearsal and bridal luncheon. Steph's family was great in putting up some of us and they have a gorgeous house - but more importantly - her family (including steph) excels at hospitality and kindness. Thank you Chiullis! I ran by the Greear's to get ready for the dinner. Allie actually talked - it was so cool to hear her voice and of course to see Kharis as well!

Saturday was hair and the wedding. The wedding was great, went off without a hitch, JD did a great job preaching the gospel - even at a wedding. The reception was wonderful although quite warm and by that time my feet were killing me.

Sunday was church (preached by Pastor Furtick of Elevation Church from Charlotte). Got to worship with my old roomie - thanks for getting up early Erin! Then a long drive with a stop off in Columbia to see friends. That was a fun and much needed break.

Fairer still today

I love the song that was congregationally sung at Laura and Chris' wedding this weekend (even with JD leading it). Fairest Lord Jesus speaks the truth of what they know to be true in their lives. Even though I saw much commitment, love, and loyalty in their relationship during the 4 years I've known them - I know they both KNOW that Jesus is the reason why and even when things aren't in the honeymoon stage - they still can rely on the fairness of Jesus.

Anyway - these are some of the pictures. They are now chilling in Aruba - enjoying being married! Congrats both of you - I love you both.

Girls - it was great to see all of you as well - I miss all of you (including people not in the wedding like Vern and Janel!)

Monday, July 23, 2007

reading the word in the mtns

I got some great time this week while at Global camp to spend some time in the Word. I didn't have any strategic reading plan this week - just wanted to take what God was working on me and find something to read re: that.
The two that I sat in most of the week was Ps 34 and Is 44 (in reverse order):

44.8b - Is there a God besides me? There is no Rock; I know not any.
Rocks are strongholds in battle a lot - provide security and stability. Nothing in life (not ministry, marriage, jobs, money, abilities, etc) can be that stronghold.

12 The ironsmith takes a cutting tool and works it over the coals. He fashions it with hammers and works it with his strong arm. He becomes hungry, and his strength fails; he drinks no water and is faint. 13 The carpenter stretches a line; he marks it out with a pencil. He shapes it with planes and marks it with a compass. He shapes it into the figure of a man, with the beauty of a man, to dwell in a house. 14 He cuts down cedars, or he chooses a cypress tree or an oak and lets it grow strong among the trees of the forest. He plants a cedar and the rain nourishes it. 15 Then it becomes fuel for a man. He takes a part of it and warms himself; he kindles a fire and bakes bread. Also he makes a god and worships it; he makes it an idol and falls down before it. 16 Half of it he burns in the fire. Over the half he eats meat; he roasts it and is satisfied. Also he warms himself and says, “Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire!” 17 And the rest of it he makes into a god, his idol, and falls down to it and worships it. He prays to it and says, “Deliver me, for you are my god!”
The folly and stupidity of making and fashioning fake idols. This is everything in life we put ahead of God - everything. It will burn as rubble.

20 He feeds on ashes; a deluded heart has led him astray, and he cannot deliver himself or say, “Is there not a lie in my right hand?”
What an amazing verse that just powered me this week. Made me question and think. How do ashes taste. Being that I've never tasted any (save maybe on a slightly burnt smore marshmallow) - I don't know. But I would think it would not satisfy and only leave you thirsty for something that does satisfy.
What is a deluded heart? Man - what in contrast to Pr 4.23 - deluded or well spring? Delude means to deceive - coming from the latin to play. We need to constantly filling our minds with something that doesn't deceive (the Word).

23 Sing, O heavens, for the Lord has done it; shout, O depths of the earth; break forth into singing, O mountains, O forest, and every tree in it! For the Lord has redeemed Jacob, and will be glorified in Israel.
Praise God He has redeemed us by the cross - by His Sovereign Hands.

Ps 34
I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. 2 My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad. 3 Oh, magnify the Lord with me,and let us exalt his name together! 4 I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. 5 Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed. 6 This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles. 7 The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them. 8 Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! 9 Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack! 10 The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.

All of it - good stuff. No commentary really necessary. Read it and rejoice for the goodness of the Lord.

peaks, rapids, and boards

This past week I spent time on top of Ft. Mountain in N. Ga at a youth camp with the kids from Anastasia (I'm not in the picture b/c I was taking it - it was taken at a rest area somewhere in GA I think, maybe Floriday - it was at least before midnight). It was gorgeous - actually this scenic picture was taken from my balcony - it was very nice.

The youth interns impressed me the most this week. Yes - they are still teenagers - but they have been poured into for the past 12 months hard - they helped and mostly lead church group devo time and they were also leaders in their teams at the camp. Other teenagers looked up to them and saw their leadership. These guys are the leaders in a year or two on their college campuses (or in the army or in missions, etc) - that excites me as one who works with college kids.

On Friday we went white water rafting down the Ocoee in TN. It was great fun. Julie and I were in the front of out boat - and this being my 3rd time rafting - I only fell out once. It was near the end of the ride and we took a 4 rapid sideways, Julie slipped my way and then we both went out backwards and under - man it felt great and was a rush of energy! "Dry Boy" - brandon elder got to sit back and chill - no really, he did get wet, but not as much! I loved it. It was also very cool to be among (in a crevasse) of God's creation and be able to look up and see mtns and trees - God did it!

Getting home really early on Sat morning - I still got to get good sleep and then enjoyed the day with the Crums. Patty, Anna, and I rode down with some boards and I went boogie boarding for the first time. If you really catch the wave just right - it is such a rush - its amazing. Then Patty and I went back out later to enjoy bike riding and chilling on the beach - then did some "wave jumping". It was such a relaxing and feeling like a child day. We sang some great songs that night at church - Made Me Glad being my fave (Thanks Bobby) and then got a great lightning storm which I love watching.

Sunday was church and college group in OC. Worship was amazing yesterday with some new hillsong stuff that Jason got in there and some new passion stuff. Good hard core lyrics - opened wide in the back loving worship. (I had gotten used to the freedom in worship we had at camp singing Dancing Generation all week).

Anyway...what a great week. Looking forward to this week as well as I head to NC whoohoo!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Great Outdoors

This past weekend was spent traveling through 13 FL counties. It was great fun minus the little bit of traffic on 295 in Jax. Oh, well.

Started out in Orange City, then Deland, then Ormond Beach to hang out with Thomas and Joy. I miss them and we just hung out on the beach and ate pizza and talked - it was great way to start the weekend. They live in TX now so its not like this is a normal occurrence. I'm very thankful for their constant friendship and godly wisdom they have poured into my life the last 7 years.

Then to St. Aug to hang out with Regina for a brief moment and enjoy a coconut bubble tea from Cafe 11. Not as good as Chai's - but I love coconut!

Then the traffic came! Oh, well - at least I had good music in Shane and Shane.

Got to eat Cracker Barrel and TCBY in Lake City with Sarah before going out to her house. Her house is so quiet and surrounded by trees - you gotta love it.

The next day we got up early for our 60 mile bike ride to High Springs and back. We ate at a place called Nells in Branford which is a small town country place. Her dad rode with us for a bit and he made it fun as he was like a little kid. Thank you Mr. Humphries for your gracious spirit with us all day. We then got going. We ate at a diner (Floyd's in High Springs) for lunch with her Mom and neice. We then started back. It was fun, rewarding, hot - but worth it.

Then on Sunday we floated down the Ichetucknee which I hadn't done since my last summer with the youth at Anastasia (99). It was cold and refreshing. Everyone needs to do that.

Then we watched a movie - and I headed back home. So, I loved my great outdoors weekend!

Thank you Sarah and family, the Whites, Regina - to making it possible!

Comfort in Affliction

This psalm jumped out at me today as I what I lean on everyday.
Ps 119.50
"This is my comfort in my affliction - that your promise gives me life."

When things don't seem to be going the way we think they should - what do we lean on? our gifts, our abilities, hope that the world offers. This psalm is telling us to hope in the eternal word of the Lord - the everlasting covenantal promises of our God and King who gave us these very words.

This word comfort is only used twice in the whole Bible - it means comfort (go figure). But the other time is in Job - and we know what misery he faced. (If you want to read more about that, go to what Piper said about it here). It is good stuff. (Scroll down in the section to 1994 - there are 4 poems Piper wrote about Job.

Be comforted, not by your circumstances (even when they are good) - but by God's promises which bring you life.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

more worship

Of course we know that the book of psalms is worship. But, this I thought was such an odd display of worship - one that we rarely do.
ps 119.48
"I will lift up my hands toward your commandments, which I love, and I will meditate on your statutes."

With open, flat hands raised to the very commands of God - the things that come out of his mouth - we can't be holding on to anything with clinched fists. How often I do that. I come to God expecting to hear from Him and have all these things in my hand that are blocking my ears if that makes any sense. What do you have clinched fists around? How is that hindering how you hear from God?

This love is a friendship love, spending time with love, but in the case of being God's friend (just for you Jenn Pappa) - I am a friend of God 18 times - we have to be obedient. Jesus says you are my friends if you obey my commands. What commands am I - are you - not obeying today - probably because we have our hands wrapped too tightly around our sin!

Sing, speak, act upon the commands of God - meditate on them. They are prescribed for our good - not for our harm. Our God is a God of love - much unlike the gods of this world. There are several religions that have 100s of gods, but not a one of them is a god of love - like our one true Supreme, all-loving God - for His glory - our good and eternal joy.

Meditate - sing - act!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


The Psalms are so rich in their repeating of things we need to know - God is so aware of that and He gives it to us.
119.34 -
"Give me understanding, that I may keep your law, and observe it with my whole heart."

I thought of understanding in a couple of ways...understanding of who I am (sinful, dead, broken) and who God is (Power, all, sustaining, merciful - I could go on). But, I think of my sinfulness this morning in light of the never ending mercies of God that are new every morning. How coming to Him is so refreshing - and wonder why I don't stay here all the time. But, again, His mercies are so receptive. They are receptive because of the finished work of Christ on the cross - who is for me for His glory.

So, in all that - give me understanding that I may observe/keep/protect/guard the perfect law that is in your Word, but not only keep it and guard it - but DO it with everything that is in me.

And as James Mac said this morning - I can't do it on my - but it is only Christ through me - that is something that Brad and JD already remind people of - DONE, Christ in me.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye?

Carolyn McCulley hits a homerun with this book. When I first saw the title, I thought there was no way I was going to read it because it was surely lead me to a life long result of singleness. But, then I heard her speak at SEBTS right before I moved back to FL. She was such a refreshment to everyone there (at least in my opinion).
This book is honest, hopefully in the sovereignty of God and His plans/timing, and pointedly active. She gives us ways that we as WOMEN can fulfill Prov 31 even while we are single. There are so many ways.
The thing that has hit me the most is in her chapter - wise speech. She recounts listening to a Mark Dever sermon about Ruth. She says that since God gave us every breath - aren't we going to be accountable for every word that comes out of our mouths? How rich this was to me this weekend.
And two more great points: she highlights many resources to follow-up with if you want to study a particular area more. She also ends the book with the presentation of the gospel - like all Sovereign Grace publications - very CROSS centered!
Thank you Carolyn. Every single woman needs to read this book.


I really don't even know if that is a word - but if not, I'll make it one today.
I continued in my reading of Ps 119 this morning. What a great verse to meditate on this morning. I've also been reminded recently (thanks Bobby) of the painstaking truth found in Rom 7 - of being purchased by Christ but living in the flesh. Its a battle.
Ps 119.25 says
"My soul clings to the dust, give me life according to your Word."
These are short and easy to memorize and take with you during the day.

Soul in here actually meant the seat of the appetites. The things that I desire are most of the time fleshly. I need you Jesus to come and dismantle my appetites for things of this world and start making me desire things of you - clinging to your word, putting you first (as you are the preeminence - as Col 1 said and James MacDonald reminded me of this morning).

Clinginess in people has never really been a favorite character trait of mine. There were some youth I worked with a few years back that were like this. I guess I'm just more independent and want others to be like that too. But, I want to be clingy - not as in the first part of this verse - where I'm clinging to useless things of the world - gripping them so tightly - fisted around them. No, I want to be clingy to the Word of God - to portray His life to a world that is living in and dead in their sins.

That is where the grace of God comes in through the cross. Even though we were once held in bondage to our sins - we are now free to live in Christ. What a great thought. I don't have to be chained to the dust - it has no power over me - Christ has power over me - and I choose to cling to Him.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Doing Things Right in Matters of the Heart

Another book down - another book review being written. Doing Things Right in Matters of the Heart is a book that is sort of a hybrid between RBMW, Sacred Marriage, and I Kissed Dating Goodbye. All good in there own right, this one adds something to the mix. This is also the current book club reading for the Girls on their blog - so check out their weekly thoughts (usually on Fridays). I think we are on chapter 3 if you are reading it together - so its not too late to get in on the action
This is by a new guy to me, John Ensor, who lives in the NE with his family and directs Heartbeat International.
This book is a quick read and can be done in one afternoon. It is written for both men and women and would be excellent in a young married or singles group at a church.
The first part of it deals with the base of his subject: biblical manhood and womanhood, salvation, relationship with God, how things got so messed up in the first place, etc. Good meat but his writing styles tend to jump around too much for my liking; although I do like the personal feeling to his writing.
The second half is more practical in nature. Deals with subjects like submission in dating/courtship, family responsibilities, personal qualities in both men and women, sacrificing, and happiness in relationships. This part is very good - for singles or married couples.
One of my fave verses he used in the whole book was Ps 107.9: "For He satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul He fills with good things."
"When God prohibits something, he is not robbing us of a good time. He is preserving for us a better time. He is blessing us and this blessing is for both men and women equally."
Talking about how pair figure skating and dating look the same (or should): "Her focus is on following his lead and signaling her readiness to receive his next move. He takes responsibility for the two of them, and she trusts his leadership and delights in it."
Probably the most famous quote in the whole book speaks of how women can be open to a man's inquiry: "It is for women to crack the twigs and stir the leaves so we know where to find them." I think that is the hardest thing for godly women to know how to do.

Good book altogether, one I would recommend. And it is a perfect complement to the book I'm also reading right now, Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye from Carolyn McCulley.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Berries and Beaches

This weekend was packed full of new stuff in St. Augustine - which is always fun!

Stayed with Misty and Cory. This was them at Snowquest in February. They are so much fun!

We went on Friday night out West St. Augustine and picked wild blueberries. We drove up and down the road and then found a whole pile of them next to a new elementary school they are building. The moon was gorgeous and gave us enough light to keep picking till a little after 9p. Misty made great homemade strawberry topping for some shortcake - so it was delicious.

Too bad Cory had to work on Saturday (but he got to see Billy Donovan), but Misty and I went beach fishing down at Marineland. I caught 1 catfish and she caught 3 more catfish and 1 hammerhead. We had a blast (and so did Cora - their dog).

Sang in church on Sat night and Sunday morning. Then helped Patty finish painting their girls' bathroom - that was a first too. Ate at Gypsy Cab and then headed back down to Orange City.

It was altogether a great weekend! :)