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, joyful...how 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 magazines...here 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 (www.fbcorangecity.org). 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?