Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Biblical Femininity 2009

I love pearls. I love pink. I love to cook. I love to dress up. I love to look nice and want my hair to be done well. I also love to wear sweats, not put my contacts in, not have to put makeup on, wear no jewelry, run, camp, hike, football and most sports.
What does that have to do with biblical femininity? NOTHING. Some of those things the world considers feminine.
This year, I am going to study (mostly) Biblical Femininity and how it is in contrast to what the world says is feminine. Are the two totally different - no? But, they are very dissimilar.
What did this come about? I started loving to wear pearls, lotion, and perfume earlier this year. Yes, I did wear them before - but I saw much benefit to wearing them now. So, I like being a girl. But, God wants me to be a woman after his own heart. So, I want to know what that is.
Someone said to me many years ago that I was not a gentle and quiet spirit. That hurt me more than that person will probably ever know. But, then not more than 2 months later, someone else said the thing they appreciated about me the most was that I had a gentle and quiet spirit. This week while home, things came out of my mouth that didn't reflect a gentle and quiet spirit. Rob Plummer mentioned in the sermon this weekend at Sojourn that Paul commands us to "let our gentleness be known to all. (Phil 4).
So, here are I go. Embarking on a year long journey of learning more about what it means to be feminine - according to God's standards.
Here is my list - 12 books that I want to read on this subject. I will read more - but these are in my library (do you have any that you think I should read)? Any topics you think I should study or concentrate on? I would love to hear your thoughts.
Don't know what I'll do with all this knowledge when I'm done with it. Hopefully be transformed by it - inside and out. Hopefully it will be reflective in relationships - not only with God, but with other men and women, family, strangers, church members.
Lord, help.
Faithful Women and Their Extraordinary God - Noel Piper
The Fruitful Life (fruits of the Spirit) - Jerry Bridges (thanks Timothy and Rayann)
Radical Womanhood - Carolyn McCulley (thanks Courtney)
Keep a Quiet Heart - Elisabeth Elliot (thanks Joy)
Called to Womanhood - Beth Impson
Queen Esther's Reflections - Ann Platz (thanks Lorie)
Woman After God's Own Heart - Elizabeth George
Esther and Ruth - Iain Duguid
Praying God's Word - Beth Moore
Beautiful in God's Eyes - Elizabeth George
BeAttitudes - Dorothy Patterson
Holiness - Rhonda Kelley

Note that none of these are specifically about being single, in ministry, married, a wife, a mother, etc. Our femininity is not based on any of those things. They are additives to it. The only things are femininity is based upon are: being created in God's image and the cross of Jesus.

Progressive Dinner Winter Part 1

Winter holds two progressive dinners for me. Last night was version 1. It was with Laura and David Dawkins and Beth and Wes Crouser. Such a fun time.
Started off with the salad course at my apt. This conversation was mostly about school, work, and random stuff.
Next was the Dawkinses' house. They had the main course and all was set out beautifully by Laura. She is such the great person for that! David opened up with a psalm about how God has faithfully and graciously withheld his wrath from us and offered us salvation. We enjoyed the food and shared our favorite Christmas memory from this past week.
Our dessert course was at the Crouserses'. Such a chic apt complete with a Roombie (a automatic vacuum cleaner). We got to make homemade fruit pizzas, have a contest for the best one (Wes won, but since it was his house, Laura took home the prize - a disco snowman snowglobe). We talked about New Years' Resolutions - if we would keep them or just wanted to do them.
It was great. I am looking forward to Winter Part 2 in 2 weeks!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Random 2009 Resolutions

As I was journaling last night, I figured why wait for these resolutions for 2 more days - start doing them now. Hopefully that will help me keep them throughout the year.
This will include random ones. My spiritual/reading one will come on Friday - be ready for it - it will be exciting (or least I'm excited about it). My food one (recipes, cooking) is at my other blog:
So, here goes...and like I said - I have already started working on these.
1. Run my first 5k. This will take place Feb 21 in Indianapolis, IN - that is only two hours away. It is called the Polar Bear Run. I started training yesterday - doing the Couch to 5K training. Anyone want to do it with me? I am excited for the challenge and the goal.
2. Take better care of my face and skin. This comes with getting older, but too often I go to bed with makeup on, or only wash my face but don't moisturize it. I need to be a good steward of the only skin I was given.
3. Try new things: food, sports, etc.
4. More piano playing. I took 8 years of this at LCS, but since I haven't done much with it. I am getting my uncle's very nice keyboard in March and I look forward to having it and playing more on it. Just so my parents won't think they wasted that extra money at Lakeland Christian and Mrs. Parrish will get some credit!
5. This is partly with number 1...lose 30 more pounds. Since April I have lost 31 lbs and I need to lose another 30. So, I'll just keep pushing along and get 'er done (as some of my friends would say)

Those are my top 5 resolutions. My reading and study list will come on Friday.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Season 2008

Well, for me this is an unusual Christmas. This is the first time in 5 years that I haven't lived in either NC or KY and been there for Christmas Day, usually by myself or just sharing a meal with a close family. I've enjoyed colder weather for Christmas Day and no leaves on the trees. I've had a retail job for the holidays that have made life busy and hectic with hardly any time for Advent because I'm wondering if I'll make a good sale on knives or pots or see anyone in the store I know.
This Christmas I am in FL. I am wearing short sleaves and hopefully will go bike riding this afternoon if it doesn't rain. It is 74 degrees out there right now - this morning I walked out and picked an orange from a tree in the back yard. Alan and Tywonn are camping in Charlie (their VW) on the Manatee River. Dad is over smoking mullet with Papa. Granny called and she is making sweet tea and wanted to know if we wanted a red plastic table cloth on - we'll pass we said. But, the tea should be good. Mom and I have been cooking for about 30 hours now: pecan pie, lemon cake, apricot sugar cookies, cauliflower au gratin, steamed broccoli, sweet potatoes, cinnamon raisin bread, fruit salad, applesauce, sour cream biscuits, cornbread pudding. all for one meal along with some meat. And I love doing it all.
There have been arguments as we try to not get stressed and communicate well - what else is new. I'm learning when to just shut my mouth and not feel the need to say everything and be in control.
What I have loved about this Christmas season is the preparation - the Advent. I've been enjoying the sermons at Crossing and the music and art at Sojourn to help prepare for Christmas. The song Glory Be, Hosanna in the Highest, Amen Amen. All these have been great. God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman is so focused on the gospel. Here are the words to Amen, Amen:
Let every creature rise and bring
Their grateful praises to our King
Angels descend with songs again
and Earth repeats a loud Amen, Amen
Amen, Amen
I found my life
I found my life in Him
Amen, Amen
Peace like a river from His throne
Will flow to nations yet unknown
His word a light where all hope is demand
All tribes unite to cry “Amen”
And in this Child we’ll find our rest
And all the meek and lowly blessed
An infant tongue could sing the hymn
of Hallelujah and Amen

Jesus - what a beautiful Name! Find my Rest in Him! Come Quickly Lord Jesus!

Monday, December 15, 2008

O Come O Come Emmanuel

Yesterday morning at Crossing we sang this song. How many times have I heard it - and heard it - and turned it because I had heard it too much? Yesterday, as the sermon started, this song was still fresh in my head, so half of my sermon notes are on this hymn (don't worry, Dustin, I can multitask)
I am very blessed this year to be in a church that puts so much emphasis on advent (and going to another church at night that puts equal emphasis on it). In the past I've been in churches that talk about advent and Jesus' birth and preach about hope, peace, love, etc...and how to deal with family during the holidays, spending too much money, etc. But...this year it is very different and it is taking root in me more this season than past.
Not only are the songs we are singing the typical Christmas songs maybe arranged a little differently, done to a different beat or tune - but we are also still singing songs focused on the Cross of Christ and His return. You already have gotten a glimpse into "Glory Be!" - my fave this holiday season. But, now you get a chance to get some thoughts on another one (and maybe even another one or two before the season is through).
This is a familiar tune to most of you reading this blog:
O come, O come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel - His coming brought freedom from bondage (as we saw in part at the Exodus, freedom from captivity in the OT, and we will see in completion at the end of time). But, for day to day purposes - His coming, His "being with us" allows us to battle the things that hold us bondage: addictions, sin, people-pleasing, laziness, etc.
O come, thou Wisdom from on high, who orderest all things mightily - With so many things going on in politics and the economy, even down to the Heisman Trophy winner and prices of plane tickets and how my biscotti or brownies or steaks turn out this week - Jesus, the personification of Wisdom dwelling among us, orders all things. He just doesn't order the big important things - He orders the daily, mundane things - all for His glory and our good.
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night, and death's dark shadows put to flight - Holidays are very tough for people who have lost loved ones this year. In a way this season at home will be a little sad because my brother and sister in law are leaving for 4 years to go to Cameroon to magnify Jesus. I won't see them except maybe once or twice during that time. But - Jesus came and was God with Us so they could go to Cameroon, help people medically, and magnify Jesus through counseling missionaries. There is no reason for gloom!
Make safe the way that leads on high, and close the path to misery - this is actually the line that I wanted to write down while I was singing it. Earlier in the day I had to make a conscience choice to accept God's provision and shield of a LACK of a good thing in my life (Ps 84.11) instead of dwelling on what I didn't have that another had received. Then as I thought about this line in light of that - some would think the road they are on is misery (like sometimes I think). But, some times the "path to misery" is for our sanctification. He does not always close that path. While Jesus was "with us" He experienced so much misery and pain - He never said we wouldn't have - contrary - He definitely said we would face trials and troubles. But, in those trials and troubles: financial, family, relationships, jobs, indwelling sin, etc - He is "God with us".
O come, Desire of nations - This is still probably my favorite line in the whole song. He is the Desire of all the nations! As St. Augustine said this thing about our hearts being restless till they rest in Thee. They just don't know it yet. All were created by their Maker. That Maker is their Desire. We have an obligation. I know in the coming year this will happen in SE Asia, Central Asia, Cameroon, Louisville, RDU, St. Aug, etc. Where will you go to make Him Magnificent? 2 enlarge of the glory of God through Jesus like Mary did (see, Dustin, I was listening).
And as the refrain says - may we REJOICE because our God is with us - Emmanuel - and praise Him He is coming again - Come quickly Lord Jesus

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Baking Fun with Friends

One of the fun things about the holidays is getting to bake with friends. I have many great friends here in the ville who love to bake and cook - and I get to learn from their expertise and share some of the things I know about cooking and baking.
Last night was the first of this type of party I went to. Object of Brandi's Baking Party was to bring a favorite holiday recipe, all the ingredients to make it, and share the finished product with the other ladies.
I only knew one other of the ladies other than Brandi - Sarah, a girl that goes to Sojourn and the Seminary, came to Crossing way back in the day when I first started going there - and is a great cook!
Brandi was a very gracious host in ordering pizza, making sure everyone had what they needed before making her own, gave us a tour of her very pretty and well-decorated house.
We had a lot of fun and it was great just to unwind with others while baking at the end of a very stressful week. Now - I am glad it is Saturday!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Advent 2008.9: Guilt, Sin, and Creation

This time of the year (from Thanksgiving till my birthday) is the hardest time for me to try to be healthy and lose weight. It is cold, gets darker quicker,, busy, everything revolves around food, etc. I already have had a defeatist attitude today about it. But, many friends have reminded me to be wise with my eating, try to get in exercise, don't be gluttonous, and January 9th will be here before I know it. The parties and dinners and eating out seem never ending - but they are right.
As I read the advent reading in Piper - He talks about Jesus conquering Satan for HIS glory. He reminds us that we are not held in bondage to sin or guilt - but our freedom has been paid for! Hebrews 2.14-15: "Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery." I love the hope and empathy that are found in these verses.
"The death of Jesus nullified the damning effect of sin for all who trust in Christ. The weapon of soul-destroying sin and guild is taken out of Satan's hand." (83). I find more hope in this as well. What I also must remember is just because Jesus has done this doesn't mean I can berate myself, be down on myself, be a glutton, be lazy - or anything. First of all, because I am created in His image and He loves me (that's what the other advent reading today was talking about). Also, Rom 6.1-4 (amazing powerful verses) say: "What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Advent 2008.8: Suffering and Answered Questions

How often do I question the care of God in my life? I have learned over the last couple of years how to be thankful in life. But, I remember many times when I wondered how I was going to pay for this and do that and be able to go there - all the things that really (don't?) matter in life. He has all these needs covered - and I have seen His goodness.
But, I shouldn't have even had to "worry" about this because He gave me something to complete my joy in Him - the Savior. Not only did He come to walk through life, enter into our sufferings and trials - but He came ultimately to die. Phil 2.8.
Bethlehem wasn't the end - we must not be just Christmas Christians. We have to remember Good Friday - Easter Sunday! In that act - all our needs are met.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Advent 2008.7: Humility, Poverty, and Family

My Dad is a genealogist. Most of you reading this will know that it has something to do with family and the history of families. I tried doing what he does in 2007, but it just wasn't for me. Not that I don't think its interesting, it just wasn't for me.
But, it has been neat learning all growing up where I came from, who my family is, the lineage that we are as Davidsons and Hatchers. But, how do I mirror or look like my eternal heritage? do I put on Jesus every day to mirror him to the nations - just as He put on flesh in the incarnation to show us Jesus.
I was very convicted about my lack of Jesus last night. I was sitting in a church service - one of the missions of this church is to reach its community around the church building. Germantown is not an affluent part of Louisville to say the least. Where I was sitting there were a couple of people walking by more than once who definitely were not of the churched variety. They were unkept and smelled of smoke.
Now, I should have been ecstatic because they were coming, the church was fulfilling its mission, they were hearing of the gospel of Jesus. But, I wasn't. I was too prideful. I was irritated because they were getting up and down, I was holding my nose as they walked by because I don't like cigarette smoke, etc. You get the picture of my pride. It is not pretty. Jesus humbled Himself and became poor - born in a stable, not looking like the King He was, not looking like the priests he had opportunity to talk to.
I want to look more like Jesus - my eternal co-heir under God our Father. "Truth itself was the stumbling block. And so the only escape for the enemies of truth was caricature and half-truth. Jesus is a glutton and drunkard. That is why he eats with tax collectors and sinners. But beneath the ugliness of calumny is the glory of compassion. Why did he eat with tax collectors and sinners? He gave the answer - 'those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick." (65)

Advent 2008.6: Wisdom and Payment

Piper focuses in on the wisdom of Jesus, the Son today. I work at a seminary - tons of brilliant men teach here. When I was in seminary, I was amazed at how the men I learned from could quote books, have memories that recalled most things they had ever read - they could discuss any topic at the drop of a hat - and sound intelligent. I can maybe do that with a limited number of topics: cooking, college football, some spiritual topics - but I still want to "study up" before I have to talk.
Jesus doesn't have to study up. He is all-knowing - because He is one with the Father - He is God. One thing He knew before coming to earth was that He was coming to earth to die. That was the purpose of His mission.
Two things that stood out to me: "He knows God perfectly." (60). Jesus knows God perfectly because He is God perfectly. I often want to know God better, but take little steps and often put off doing things that will enable me to know Him more. But, I will only see dimly till I reach Heaven. "He knows all our thoughts before we express them." (58). Psalm 139.3, 4: "You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether." JD mentioned a while back - in the presence of Jesus is the safest place. As I was driving to Sojourn last night I was in a hurry, fussing at the people who were blocking St. Catharine Street and making me late, irritated at the people constantly getting up and walking in front of me. Jesus knew I was thinking these thoughts. Best thing: I have the ability to confess them - and still hope in Grace and ability to stand in His presence because of the Gospel! Forgiveness and grace.
And what about purchasing all these gifts at Christmas time. We spend so much time standing in line, surfing the net, laying down our credit cards, cash, are ATM cards. We search for that perfect gift. We were purchased already by the blood of Jesus - to set us free from the things I mentioned above - sin - and free us to worship and live on mission with God. 1 Corinthians 6.19b-20 "You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body."

Friday, December 05, 2008

Advent 2008.5: Floods and trees

People often laugh at me when I sady I miss hurricane seasons in FL. This year, here in Louisville, we got a taste of Ike that left me w/o power for a week. But, as I stood out in the street in front of my apt on that Sunday morning, watching the wind as it took down trees, I remember even more missing the hurricanes of Florida.
I miss them because I see such amazing awe and strength in the storms that Jesus Himself is commanding. It is often fear-bringing and beautiful at the same time. My Dad will stand out and video as hurricanes come right over our house in central Florida. My brother and I love to sit out on a porch and listen to the rain. I loved living in St. Augustine watching the storms come in off the Atlantic. Breath-taking.
This morning, it was crisp, Carolina-blue skies here in the ville. I was out driving East of town and watched as the sky turned an amazing pink - becaue of the sun - another reminder of the faithfulness of God.
Piper talks about this today - Jesus' command over nature - the very thing He was the agent of creation for. And during Jesus' incarnation here on the earth - many people were witness of that: water into wine, bringing back the dead, calming the storm, miraculous catches of fish. God is so cool to let His Son come to show us and be a display of the almighty power that is in the personhood of the Trinity.
Job 37.9-16a: "From its chamber comes the whirlwind, and cold from the scattering winds. By the breath of God ice is given, and the broad waters are frozen fast. He loads the thick cloud with moisture; the clouds scatter his lightning. They turn around and around by his guidance, to accomplish all that he commands them on the face of the habitable world. Whether for correction or for his land or for love, he causes it to happen. “Hear this, O Job; stop and consider the wondrous works of God. Do you know how God lays his command upon them and causes the lightning of his cloud to shine? Do you know the balancings of the clouds, the wondrous works of him who is perfect in knowledge?"
In Christ in Me, the subject was bearing fruit, being close to God. Often when I'm out watching the weather, hiking, being on the beach, in the mountains, experiencing literal storms - that is one way I feel very close to God. I love standing out in the rain and having it just drench me. It is very refreshing. We are definitely more aware of God's presence when we are spending time with him every day - and we are more able to be a light for others when we have been near the LIGHT.
Enjoy the weekend being light, enjoying the cold winter weather - wherever you are - we are supposed to maybe get some snow!

Advent 2008.4: Indestructible Joy and Cell Phones

I'm loving seeing how God works these readings into the very things that I experience on that day. Today's readings are no different.
JP refers to the gladness or eternal joy of Jesus. "Jesus himself - and all that God is for us in Him - is our great reward, nothing less." (41) Jesus is so far above anything of the want, worry, destruction, horrors, failures, miseries of this world. But, you know...He is also far above any of the rewards, the joys, the happiness in this world. As JD always uses the pointing finger and dog analogy in sermons. I can't focus on the gift - anymore than I can get bogged down by the bad things that happen. This morning, I received an email from a person who just resounds the gospel to me. Actually, 2 of them. They have, just in who they are, spoken the gospel into the situations in my life.
"The glory of Christ is his infinite, eternal, indestructible gladness in the presence of God." (43). But, then JP goes on to write that He wept with the weepers, he mourned, he was tested, he was tried. But, his infinite joy was not moved. That is how I long to be. That is can be moved by these trials in life, not be immune to them - but knowing that even through them I have a greater joy.
Hebrews 1.8-11a "But of the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.” And, “You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands; they will perish, but you remain."
Then, in the other reading...the illustration of calling closed stores is used. How God and his listening to our prayers - He is never closed. Last night as I got home from band practice after 11, heavy heart, sat down and rambled on the blog before this one, tried to go to sleep. I kept looking at my cell phone, wondering whom I could call who would still be awake and not be put out by my phone call. I couldn't sleep. My stomach was empty, my head and heart were full. I was focusing on the situation instead of the Answer to the situation. I was more focused on the problem instead of comforting myself and calming my spirit with the Words of the One who has all the answers. I ended up not calling anyone and finally falling asleep. God is good.
What it would have been like to walk beside Jesus, hear Him pray, know His burdens, know that He had all the answers. But, really...I'm thankful for living in the post of the "beautiful scandalous night."

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Heaviness and Tears

I am definitely not a person who cries a lot over much of anything - unless its a sappy movie or Apollo 13 (the 4 minute wait or reentry) or Anne of Green Gables when Gilbert Blythe is dying...oh, movies.
But, tonight, something is really just heavy on my heart. For the most part I can't even really put my finger on it.
It has been a long day but that has really nothing to do with it.
During our prayer time tonight, hearing prayers of humility and lowness of heart, of heartfelt worship, or prayers for healing, marriages to be restored. When I was driving home, texting, then glancing up and seeing the beautiful moon - knowing and being gripped by the holiness and faithfulness of God.
More than any of us - God is the picture and standard, the plumb line, of faithfulness. This world knows so very little of faithfulness. It is something I long for in relationships. It is something I long to be in who I am. That is something I want people to say of me. Faithfulness - it is so hard to see a picture of outside of Christ. We are sinners - we all fall short. But, faithfulness. Even in little things - like the moon - or the sunrise that will be here tomorrow morning. Jesus gave us a picture of that when He came to earth and He was faithful in everything He did. God is so good. Jesus is so good.
He heals, He is Everlasting Father (that shows faithfulness). Our world is so marred by sin - so scarred by the unfaithfulness of ourselves and others. Why is this so heavy? Why are broken marriages so weighty to me right now. Even in the church we are not immune to Satan. The Spirit is so strong. God is so amazing. But, we are still sinners.
What can be done about it? I'm so at a loss for what can be done to strengthen marriages. It is a deep sigh coming out of me that is never ending. Yes, I do see some wonderful marriages. But, its almost more often than not that I see ones hurting. This is such a picture of Christ and the church - and the world sees such a skewed picture - almost a out of order paint by number - of marriage.
Each time I hear of one more marriage failing, or hurting - I wonder why in the world I would ever want to get married. What makes me think I am any better than anyone else who struggles in their marriages or in their relationships. This has been such a weight on me today.
The other weight is the issue of pride. How I shut down when I'm not in control of something. Or when I get called out on something. Its like "multiple personality" or something - and I really am completely kidding on that. But, seriously. I don't take criticism well - even though with all I've been getting I need to get better at it. If I'm not the strongest personality or if I am outnumbered in anyway, I tend to shut down, be quiet, let others talk. Its almost an all or nothing thing. Or if I am unsure of something or fearful of criticism - then I tend to shy away from stuff.
Ok - so this is really just a rambling blog. I am thankful that I am going to bed tonight - knowing that God is still on His throne - He is still faithful - He is the mighty healer. He will continue to break me of sin. He will continue to draw men unto Himself. God - thank you.
Anyway - if you read this...thanks, hope something was in it for you. But, more than anything, it was a way for me to talk to myself and let my fingers catch up to my brain.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Advent 2008.3: Contrasts

Piper talks in this chapter about Jesus being both Lion and Lamb. Two sentences really stuck out to me - then we'll see how it relates to the other book...
"His sovereign dominion over the world was clothes with a spirit of obedience and submission." (35). So, when Christ came to earth as a little baby - He was still King of Kings and Lord of Lords, He was still the Lion of Judah and the Lamb that was Slain. All of this is His eternal nature. But - he also put on obedience and submission in a form that we could understand it. He had to be obedient not only to His Father (God) but also to His earthly parents: Mary and Joseph. He had to be submissive to the governing earthly authorities. He gave up His divine nature to be God with skin on (more on that later).
"This glorious conjunction shines all the brighter because it corresponds perfectly with our personal weariness and our longing for greatness." (37) Today, I was so glad to have the grace of Jesus. That grace was displayed in other people who have authority in my life. That grace was lavished on me by friends and people who care about me. But, there are also days when I need discipline in my life and need a word of correction. I like those days too actually - because I know the love of Jesus in that. I am grateful to have both sides of my Jesus - my companion, my warrior, my faithful High Priest, and the Answer to my every prayer. All these beautiful contrasts! I love the complexities of Jesus.
The other book talked about skin. How our skin is and what it does for us. Jesus put skin on - as Younger Lifers say "be Jesus with skin on." Well, Jesus was God with skin on. He came to show us the glory of the Father - and what did we do - we rejected the light. We cast Him out. We crucified Him. We rebelled against Him. And yet - He is still close with us, as close as skin - even closer. He is in us in the form of the Holy Spirit.
I am thankful for all the ways of Jesus and that He loves me and wants to be near me - because I am his.

Advent 2008.2: Slave, Satisfaction, Surrender

Today Piper focuses on the Deity of Christ. I think before we can understand fully the Incarnation - we have to understand the Personhood of Christ. Christ is above all and agent of Creation (Col 1), the radiance of the God the Father and the worshipped of Heaven (Heb 1). He is the I AM as He tells the Jews in the gospel of John. All these things - yet He considered Himself nothing and took on the form of a servant - the slave of a cross (Phil 2). That is remarkable. That throughout time (Alpha and Omega) Christ knew the day was coming that He would have to give up His eternal nature and take on bodily form in the womb of a teenager and live among people who would eventually nail him to a cross and mock him and spit on Him. Did He have an "advent countdown" like we do today. No matter what else - we know as Hebrews says that He endured the cross for the joy that was set before Him. As Piper starts out - that Joy was the glory of God the Father - and that is where our satisfaction must be found. I am not satisfied as I right this. There are many things I'm disappointed with in life - even just right now. Father - let me know and find my satisfaction in you - and in the Son that you sent on my behalf - that I would find my complete joy in You!
CIM talks about our citizenship. I think about Christ's citizenship - how He was a "citizen" of another "country" and He gave up those rights and freedoms (God-ness, Phil 2) to come dwell among us. And I also think of the many people I know who are out in other countries, who live and dwell in dark places, all to tell those people about this one who became a baby and died for them on a cross. These people in dark places worship other things and other gods - they don't know (or mostly even want to know) to truth of this Incarnate and Sacrificial and Glorious Jesus.
This is why we celebrate the Incarnation - because we know the other side of the Cross and what that means for the world.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Advent 2008.1 - Light, Glory, Thrill

Yesterday at church we talked much about Light piercing the darkness. We sang about it, we read about it (Light of the World, We are Listening, etc). Dustin preached from Is 9 (the prophecy of Jesus who would pierce their governmental darkness). The first chapter of Piper's book Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ is about that and the glory of God.
2 Corinthians 4.6: For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
Yet - we fail to see this. Especially at Christmas time. I get wrapped up in what I'm giving (and how the getter will receive it), what I bake (and if people will like it), what parties I'm going to (and what I'm wearing). All these things are not important. This is how I "live out parables of depravity" (p 21) - Rom 1.
This is where we find healing - especially at this time of Christmas: "healing of the soul begins by restoring the glory of God to its flaming, all-attracting place at the center" (21). I don't need more things or more baked goods (definitely not to eat) - I need more of Christ.
Then - I finally saw a connection in the other book. We get so thrilled with these things (people, gifts, achievements...) that we miss Christ. I was talking to a friend today and was telling him that there has got to be more than football - because even though the Gators won a resounding victory against FSU, and however much I was excited for the game (and the game Saturday against the Tide), it was such a let down when it was over. It was over. No more. But, God and His glory are for my satisfaction for eternity. Do I get just as thrilled with knowing more of Christ as I do for watching football or finding great deals on smaller-sized clothes.
May I even tomorrow - be aware that Christ is all - and He came and dwelt among us (John 1.14) in the darkness - showing the light of the glory of God the Father.

Advent Readings

Holidays are special times because you can read things you might not otherwise read throughout the year. On Good Friday (or sometime around there) I've been reading The Cross Centered Life by CJ Mahaney each year. What a great reminder of the cross and living in light of the gospel.
This year for Christmas I want to do the same thing. Since today is December 1 - I thought was a great time to start.
So...the two books I am reading (in addition to my study in Galatians and reading through the Bible) are:
Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ - John Piper (focuses on who Chris is and how we can cherish him). I thought this would be great because we often get so wrapped up in the demands of the season: cooking, shopping, giving, traveling, snow, parties, being tired, music, etc. And we forget about the fact that Jesus came to offer us new life and freedom from this life (and all those demands if they have control over us). I'm looking forward to reading this again.
Christ in Me - Group Publishing. This is a litte gift book that came in a set I found in a trash pile. Who knows? Never read it. But, there are 30 readings of who Christ is for me. So...I have one about who Christ is and one for how His character applies to me. These are shorter readings but one I need to focus on.
I'll try to post my thoughts on these each day as we get closer to Christmas.
What do you do to keep your focus on Christmas - and not everything else?

Sojourn: Glory Be

Well, here it is...the favorite Christmas song this season. I know, I usually pick one or two new ones that I really like. This is it for this season (so far)... We sang it last night at Sojourn and even though I had heard it on the Advent CD, it is so much better in person:

Glory Be
It was the longest night, the world was waiting
Eager for the light, the world was waiting
O come, come Messiah
Sing for joy, all the earth, Messiah's come to set you free!
Join the angels in their song
Glory Be Glory Be
It was the longest night, my heart was waiting
Hallelujah, the Lord of life has come
To reconcile the nations to their God
Hallelujah, he's coming back again
To finish was began at Bethlehem
O Come, Come Messiah

Now what you don't get in the lyrics is the harmonies, melody, high notes, repitions, etc that make this song amazing.
What I like about this song: originality, scope of lyrics (not just about Christmas), freedom found in Christ, completion of salvation, joy that is brought to the whole world, our missions focus of Christmas (and not presents and food and Santa). The focus on the return and expectancy of Jesus.
Good stuff! You can find it at iTunes or

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

8 in 08

So, since I probably won't be near a computer most of tomorrow (save to post some recipes) I thought I'd use today to go ahead and post 8 things I am thankful for this Thanksgiving.
1. Salvation: 2 Corinthians 5.21 - "For our sake, He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God." Love that verse. Yesterday, doing pilates, I was reminded that I don't even take my next breath if not for the mercy of God. I am thankful for that breath and for the mercy of God. That He is enough!
2. Job. I love my job - I love the guys I work for and the fact that I am doing ministry, even in an admin position. It has been since 1999 working at Anastasia that I can honestly say I love what I do. And am thankful that God has allowed me to be in my position for 16 months now! Wow - can you believe it?! God is so gracious to me!
3. Church - Community. I still love the community God has given me in other parts of the world in my former churches: pastors/staff, mentors, families, my girls, precious babies who grow up too fast. But, this year (because last year was such a struggle with no church home) is an added blessing. I just joined Crossing on Sunday (officially, even though I've been going since July). Its great to have friends who care about you, people to push you, minister with, do life with. Love my new Xing Family! :)
4. Friends. One of the sub-things I'm thankful for this year is Facebook. I got on facebook shortly after coming to Louisville. Its been a great tool of ministry and re-connecting with people who spur you on for the sake of the gospel. So thankful for that online tool! But, really, am thankful for the faithfulness of friends, for God teaching me about friendships (how some come and go in life for reasons unbeknownst to us), and how God uses us in each others' lives (Col 3.15-17).
5. Family. My family will be going through some changes. Last year (2007) we all lived pretty close together as I was also in Lakeland for about 6 months. But, come April (I think) we will look very different. Mom and Dad will still be in Lakeland, I will still be in Louisville, but A/T will be in Cameroon, West Africa. So excited to see what God is going to do through them over the next 4 years, but yes, am a little saddened that they won't be a short flight (long drive) away.
6. Independence. I do not mean my freedom (as in USA), although I am very thankful for that as well. I mean my independence. Some people look at that at a negative thing, and I guess it could be. But, I love being an independent person, for moving to a new state (knowing 2 people who live here) and getting to explore and find new things, do what I want when I want, go where I want, etc. It is very fun and I never want to take that for granted.
7. Stuff. Yes, I am thankful for stuff. I am thankful for my 800 Sqft Square I call home. I am thankful for my cute little car, Charlie the Cruiser. Thankful for a new laptop, a free VCR someone gave me, clothes, cooking supplies, etc. There are so many things. Heat for one! God is so gracious to me. May I never rely on these things - but always be grateful for them - and be ready to give them up if the need arises! And share the blessings with others!
8. Mission Folks. I am so thankful to have people in my life who are called to the others sides of the world (in one way or another). Since some of these people are in closed countries: here we go with just their initials. A/T, MS, M and L M, RG, AL, L and K M, J and K R, R and K P and probably many more. But, I'm also thankful for people who have a heart for the world who are living here in the US of A: Sarah, Bruce, Greears, Brad and Jena-Marie, Bacons, Dawkinses, Kathy L, Bob and Jackie, and so many others. They spur me on - keep me focused on God's heartbeat for the Nations for His glory.
All these things to be thankful for - all given by one Good and Gracious God!
Ps 150:
Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! Let everything that has breath praise the Lord! Praise the Lord! (or as David Platt put it: Let everything that praises the Lord have breath!)


With the Thanksgiving holiday upon us, (then Christmas, New Years, Birthday), this is a time of the year for great reflection for me. I think I officially started it yesterday when I made my bday plans. Am looking forward to it and the preparation leading up to it as well.
On my walk to work this morning, I started to think and wonder if I've grown any this past year in certain areas. One area is that of satisfaction/desires.
My "life verse" up until my Senior Year of high school was Ps 37.4-5: Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act."
Then I started taking the verses surrounding it for a more complete look at that promise:
Ps 37.3-7a: Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him..."
So here are our commands as believers:
1. Trust in the Lord (this is active, not passive)
2. Do Good (again, active, not passive)
3. Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness (this is something I want more of in my life, for people to know me as a faithful person).
4. Delight yourself in the Lord (Sandra keeps reminding me)
5. Commit your way to the Lord
6. Trust in Him (wow, 2 times we are told to actively do this)
7. Be still before the Lord (oh, how hard is this - to listen to the Lord)
8. Wait patiently for Him (I often tend to run ahead of God, thinking I know better than He does).
What He has promised He will do (and He keeps His promises):
1. He will give you the desires of your heart (reminder: read it and believe it in context with the rest of the verse).
2. He will act (and we see so often in our own lives and in the lives of others His faithfulness to do this on our behalf). I was telling someone yesterday that it is very exciting to be at a "turning point" in our lives - because then we get to anticipate the incredible ways God is going to act on our behalf for His glory.
3. He will bring forth our righteousness (He is our righteousness, as Paul clearly says in 2 Cor 5.21 - but I think this also means our works of righteousness he will allow people to see - He will be our crown and our significance.
4. There's that word justice again - see note on last blog.

So...what does all this have to do with how I've grown (or not grown) this year. Do I still have some unmet desires. Yes, I am selfish and human. I am still being sanctified. I have changed this year for the most part - is that I do find my satisfaction in Him. When thoughts of wants or loneliness or desires that aren't met yet come into mind causing me to sin (envy, covetousness, idolatry - wanting something more than Jesus) - I remind myself of who God is for me, Bible verses that deal with those issues, the faithfulness and reward of God. He is so much better.
How have you grown this year?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Psalm 107 and Thanksgiving

I woke up yesterday morning thinking I would hear a topical sermon on Thanksgiving and grace and the cross. No, no...not at Crossing, my official new church home here in Louisville. I heard a great sermon on Ps 107 - and how (in my terms) our thanksgiving should be wrapped up in the character of God.
These are the main points that Dustin pointed out from this Psalm: (and my thoughts on them)
Who God Is and What He Has Done:
Our God is the Merciful Deliverer and the Satisfier of souls who has given His people a place to dwell. How has God delivered you, satisfied your soul, and given you a place to dwell?
He has delivered me from myself and my sinful, harmful tendencies (of gossip, laziness, and eating too much) and He satisfies me more deeply than anything here on this earth - or anything that I think could satisfy me. Oh, how I want to know that more. Even in the literal term of a place to dwell - He has brought me to Louisville and allowed friendships and opportunities out of being here.
Our God is the Chain Breaker who frees His children from their bonds. How has God broken your chains? Where do you need Him to? I need him to continue to break them in terms of competition and trying to impress people and running my mouth (opinions I call them). He has already been doing this - but I need him to continue as He faithfully will.
Our God is the Merciful Healer who brings healing by His Word. How has God brought healing through His Word? How do you need Him to? I need Him to make His Word even more real to me - so that I won't just read it and think He means what He says - but taste and see that the Lord is good in these above areas of satisfaction. And I need Him to make the Word real to me as I read it and get so bored with it at times. He is so gracious - and even when I come to Him out of boredom or halfheartedness - He heals with His Word by His faithfulness to meet me right where I am.
Our God is the Sovereign Ruler over all of His Creation who stills the storms. How has God brought you through the storms? How do you need Him to? I can see the last 15 months of my life and how God has orchestrated it divinely to His specifications. I can see how the last 4 months have been so much better with a church family and the community of believers here. I am thankful for new friendships to weather storms with you. And knowing that God is in control of all of them - no matter how long the winds blow. He is a good God who lets us see.
Our God is Righteous Judge who brings justice. How can God use us to bring justice as an act of thanksgiving? Justice and Thanksgiving. I'll continue to think about that one. Not usually something we put together.
I'm very thankful for another look in Scripture where I can see that the God is far above the worth of my praise - but He desires me to thank Him, have a heart attitude of thankfulness, and share that grace and thanksgiving with others.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Psalm 69 and Prayer

Lately I've been reading through Ephesians for my quiet times, but last night I had no desire to read it. So, I did something different. Sometime yesterday I read a blog on Psalm 69 - so I thought I might read that - and I did - and got so much stuff that tied in with JD's sermon on Sunday and community group last night.
I continued reading and outlining what God was teaching me this morning - so here you go:
Psalm 69 is written by David, the man after God's own heart. He was in some sort of affliction. We often as for intercessory prayer from others or our prayer lives pick up substantially when we are in affliction or experiencing hard times.
These are 5 things I learned about prayer from this psalm:
1. David prayed persistently. Verse 3: "I am weary with my crying out; my throat is parched. My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God." He uses words like weary, parches, dim, waiting" - these are great words to describe his affliction - not ones of peace, harmony, and joy. These words are specifically used to relay the message of tiresome, long suffering, pain, uncomfortableness. These things aren't pleasant - Yet - he continues in his crying out - he keeps crying out - and he keeps crying out.
2. David acknowledges his sin. This is also something we don't like to do. First, we may recognize sin, but we don't like to confess it - especially to God (funny, because He already knows our sin whether we confess it or not - Ps 139). But, David sees that need. In verse 5, 19, 20 he says "O God, you know my folly; the wrongs I have done are not hidden from you. You know my reproach, and my shame and my dishonor; my foes are all known to you. Reproaches have broken my heart, so that I am in despair. I looked for pity, but there was none, and for comforters, but I found none." He not only acknowledges his sin, but he also is brokenhearted over his sin (Psalm 51). This is also something else I have found. Christians get good at confessing our sin (Catholics in confessionals, Protestants in counseling sessions or small groups), but how often are we broken over our sin - or how often do we HATE SIN?
3. David trusts in the nature of God. Three things are seen in verses 13, 16: "But as for me, my prayer is to you, O Lord. At an acceptable time, O God, in the abundance of your steadfast love answer me in your saving faithfulness. Answer me, O Lord, for your steadfast love is good; according to your abundant mercy, turn to me." Here we see three glimpses into the character of God: good, steadfast love (His covenant, unchangingness), saving faithfulness (how His faithfulness is salvation to us - think about that for a second), and abundant mercy (not just what we need, or just enough - but abundant, overflowing compassion).
4. David gives worship to His God in his time of need. Verses 30-32, 34 are evidence of David's worshipping heart: "I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving. This will please the Lord more than an ox or a bull with horns and hoofs. When the humble see it they will be glad; you who seek God, let your hearts revive. Let heaven and earth praise him, the seas and everything that moves in them." David praises and worships his God through son, thanksgiving (think about that as we celebrate Thanksgiving next week - Dustin is preaching on it this Sunday, can't wait!), in pleasing sacrifices, humility (obedient piety as Dr. Vogel preached on this morning), he even challenges all creation to worship their God (I think of the Summit Song - "Let the Sea and Everything in it" - that Will sings on the CD.) Oh, how God desires our worship in prayer - and prayer itself is an act of worship.
5. David recognizes God's faithfulness and His willingness to answer. How often would our prayers change if we actually believed God would answer them? How often do we pray with so little faith and so much disbelief - thinking we'll pray - but not counting on God to answer? Verse 33 says this: "For the Lord hears the needy and does not despise his own people who are prisoners." He hears the needy (do you recognize yourself as needy - is that how we come to God or do we come to Him self-sufficient?). He doesn't despise us - He counts us as worthy, not as unworthy. I learned what it means to hold someone in contempt and despise them a few years ago - and then realized what that means in my relationship with Jesus. Oh, thank you Holy Spirit. He also knows our bondage and our need. Oh, how He has freed us from that bondage to sin and death. And He knows exactly what we need and when we need it!
So - my prayer life should change based on this teaching. What I loved about JD's sermon on Sunday - is prayer is not a matter of knowing how God will work or what He has pre-ordained. God tells us to pray - so we need to pray. And then in small group - how we pray for each other, care about each, follow-up with prayer requests. Amazing stuff.
So - pray, consistently pray, pray with worship, hate sin, and pray focused on the goodness and faithfulness of God! That's what this whole blog boils down to.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Psalm 20

This morning in chapel, Dan opened with the call to worship from this Psalm. I didn't even know where he was reading from, but found out later. Don't know what version he was reading from either, but I heard this:
"May the Lord fulfill all your petitions" - 20. 5b (ESV)
Once I found out where he was reading I went back and read it:
This is verse 4 and 5
May he grant you your heart's desire and fulfill all your plans! May we shout for joy over your salvation, and in the name of our God set up our banners! May the Lord fulfill all your petitions!
Last night (I know, backing up): I got to talk to Nena, my dear dear friend in St. Aug whom I've known for over 10 years and I love the girl! Anyway, when asked a question - I said something to the effect of "I know God's peace right now". I don't know how to describe it. Am I any richer? Am I married? Do I have a paid church staff ministry position? Am I as thin or as pretty as I want to be? No. But...
God has saved me, made a way for me to know Him, and has given me Himself - that is where my peace comes from. He has fulfilled all my petitions in Himself. This is probably the first time in my life that I can recall that I can honestly say I believe and know and am experiencing that. God is so so so gracious to me.
So, just thought I would share.

God is Good and Faithful in NC

Not that He is only good in the good state - but these are just reflections on this past weekend and God's goodness that He showed me:
1. A Riding Partner. Beth, a friend from here, rode with me down to Raleigh. We stayed at her in-laws' house in Charleston, WVa - so that made the trip shorter because it was broken up. Also, we had great conversation down there - what the Lord was doing, life in general, etc. And God provided financially as we were able to split the trip costs (tolls and gas). Thank you Beth!
2. I went to bed Saturday night and my quiet time was Eph 3.7 - "Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God's grace, which was given me by the working of his power." - Wow - what timing. I got to speak the next day on the gospel and Hope that is the power of the Cross - and the power of Christ! I was so excited that He gave me a chance to do that!
3. I spoke on Saturday of the doctrine of original sin, what sin looks like in the heart of women (pride, worry, fear, people pleasing, worldliness, ungodliness, etc), and then how our only Hope is the GOSPEL - JESUS. I have been planning and contemplating this for over a year now. As I sat on the floor during the last bit of worship and closing thoughts - I just felt an amazing weight lifted from me - like I could breathe again. God is so good!
4. Sunday morning getting to be at the Summit Church, sit under the worship leading of Jason Douglas. One of the songs we sang was None But Jesus - a song I am quite familiar with and one that I love. Here are the lyrics:
In the quiet, In the stillness, I know that You are God
In the secret of Your presence, I know there I am restored
When You call i won't refuse, Each new day again I'll choose
There is no one else for me, None but Jesus
Crucified to set me free, Now I live to bring Him praise
In the chaos in confusion, I know You're sovereign still
In the moment of my weakness, You give me grace to do Your will
When You call I won't delay, This my song through all my days
All my delight is in You Lord, All of my hope
All of my strength, All my delight is in You Lord, Forever more
Amazing. What a song to capture my thoughts from the weekend and the peace that flowed over me while singing that morning. (More on this in a coming blog)
5. Jason said something while introducing "Oh Glorious Day" - we are to live in light of the gospel. This is what I had said all weekend. Amazing how great the cohesiveness of the weekend was. We have to preach the gospel to ourselves everyday - and not live in the flesh and death of sin.
6. JD preached on prayer from Philippians. 1.9-11 says this: "And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God." He brought the word "approve what is excellent" to a new light - we, as Christians, need to be attached to what is good - bind ourselves to Christ, and live in Jesus - through Jesus - all to HIS PRAISE - not ours.
7. Everytime I am at the Summit I am reminded of the 3 things I love about it: a. It is a worshipping church. As Clarissa put it - there is an intensity - that I have never known in another church. Thank you Chris and Jason and the band and choir. b. It is a giving church. Last year for the Christmas Missions offering - we gave over 200k. This money went to Durham, RDU, the IMB, church plants in America, church plants all over the world. Abby and Leslie gave video testimonies yesterday of how newly painted teachers' lounge and paintings on the wall in their elementary schools have made a way for them to share the gospel. c. It is a praying church. Curtis Crutchfield - amazing man of God. This church prays more than any other one I have been a part of as well.
8. I have been gone from NC for almost 2 years now and I still have friends there that push me to the gospel - that love me, that relate to me, that can ask me the tough questions, that I can have fun with - but that show me and point me to Jesus. So thankful!
9. The gorgeous creation. God is so faithful in that too. Even while sitting in my car waiting to get out of Southpoint - looking at the stormy sky mixed with the sunset - gorgeous. Or driving up Hwy 52 north of Winston-Salem, looking at Pilot Mtn and the rolling hills that are so beautiful. I'm so grateful for His continued faithfulness in Creation.

Fun Stuff in NC

This past weekend I was able to go to RDU - the best place in the world outside of St. Augustine! Honestly - the saying for me is - Nothin' can go wrong in Carolina. God blessed that state with beautiful scenery, wonderful people, great churches, great restaurants, a great Seminary, and fantastic state university! are some highlights from the weekend...
Pulled into rainy Wake Forest on Friday around lunch time. After dropping by Stealey Drive on Southeastern's campus to see Rach, met up with Charity at the Tea Room. I love the tea room, but the food wasn't stellar that day. The scones I had been so looking forward to were dry and tasteless that day - even with honey (since I don't like Devonshire cream). But, the company was wonderful. Charity and I had time to sit and chat and see what God was doing in our lives! And drinking hot tea while its raining outside - couldn't get much better than that!
Then the day was crazy after that. Went to get my haircut by Kathleen - love going to a hair dresser that knows what you want and will fit you in when you come visit! Oh, and I stopped by the Inquest offices next door to see Tina and Mike. Then I went to see Leah and Baxter (Georgia was asleep and Nathan I suppose was at the office). It was only momentary - but wonderful to see a cute little baby - who was born just one day after I saw them in September.
Then I drove to the other end of Raleigh to see another newborn - Heather and Billy had baby James Michael on Thursday night and I got to see mother and son on Friday. So cute with a head full of black hair. Billy had to work, so I didn't get to see him. Then went to my famed chiropractor. God is again so good in allowing me doctors who will see me when I come back in town, know exactly the problem, fix it, and give me things to do to help it not happen again - so I can wait until May to get adjusted again. Thank you Dr. Adams! :)
Drove then to Cary to meet up with Frank, Kasey, Katelyn, and Mr. Carter for Ruby Tuesdays! It was yummy and it was fun to see Katelyn devouring and playing in Frank's cake.
Then we had much to do to get ready for the women's conference next day. Finally got to sleep a little after midnight, woke up at 6 to get 'er done - as some friends like to say. God was gracious in letting that little bit of sleep last till almost midnight Saturday night.
The conference was wonderful - more on that in a later blog. Then went to Champps to hang out with Erin, Janel, and Jason while watching the Gator game (Chomp Chomp), the Heel football game (even though they would later lose), and the Heel Bball game - which they did win - it was their first game of the season! Good times. Such a lively place in there. Then it took me about 30 minutes to get out of the Southpoint parking lot - reminded me of the weeks right before Christmas when it took over an hour.
Got to hang out with my favorite family in Durham - the Bacons. Jean Anne was at the One Student retreat from the Summit. Bob's family was in town, and Noah was playing with his new "toy" from Dick's Sporting Goods. Clarissa and I were watching football, eating dinner, and sitting on the couch just talking for 4 hours or so - so wonderful. I miss that woman! :) Really - that family is such a blessing to me! I need to go back when I can stay longer! Thanks Bacons!
Sunday was a great time for me. Went to CMR campus of Summit but Curtis wasn't there yet, so I didn't get to see him. They run a well-oiled machine over there in the set-up and welcome station - hosted by Miss Carla Boast! :) Then on to the Briar Creek campus. It was great to see people, but more importantly - what a great time of musical worship (led by the talented Jason Douglas) and preaching in Philippians by JD on prayer. Then on to the WCC Campus and saw the Captain, Brad and Jena-Marie, the Workmans, Dinglers, etc. Good times too.
Finished off my weekend in Carolina by having lunch with the Wrights. Steve's family was in town as well. But, Tina fixed a great lunch and we all chatted about different things, ministry, and necklaces. Then, unfortunately, it was time for me to head back to the ville. Passed snow in the SW Va mtns on the way back and had a quick drive thanks to Beth. So glad God gave opportunity for a relaxing, do everything, worshipful, fun weekend in Carolina!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Sojourn Music: We Are Listening

Crossing, my church here in the ville, planted 3 years ago August from Sojourn here in the ville. Sojourn has some great music you can find here. A friend loaned me their newest regular cd - Before the Throne - and I've been listening to it pretty much non-stop in my car. I have come to appreciate the songs and the Spirit usually convicts on some point while I am intentionally listening to them.
One of the songs, #6 (because I skip to it sometimes), We Are Listening, has been especially convicting. We sang it Sunday at Crossing. I loved it! Its always fun singing songs corporately that have meant a lot to you individually. Here are the lyrics:
Father, I long to be wise, to see with new eyes
The truth that was written by your hand
Father, speak, your truth into me
Because I still believe, that you will help me understand
And we are listening to your word
Morning and evening we come
To delight in the words of our God,
Give us eyes to see, give us faith to hear
That the Word has come, the the Word is here
Father, I long to see Christ
The Truth and New Life, the Word, that made the universe
Father, speak, now I believe
I have been set free, by the Word that lived and died for me.

I'm sure if you listen and meditate on music at all, there seems to be a part that sticks in your brain. Well, the first verse of this song pierced me first. How the Word makes me wise, by listening and obeying the Word of truth (we've been in Proverbs at church). And the doctrine of Scripture is in there too - that the Word is very words inspired by God and breathed by Him into man for our good and sanctification.
Sunday night, the Scripture read right before this song was John 1.1-14 - about Jesus being the Word, creating the universe, dwelling among us, bringing grace and truth into our lives, being God with skin on to us - so that we might see and hear and come and believe. After hearing this passage read in prelude to these songs, I really focused on the second part.
The Incarnation of Christ - how He is the very Word of God brought down to man. How He made everything we see - but came in grace and truth to dwell (pitch his tent) among us. He made it possible for us to know the unseeable God.
Learning point from listening to the sermon from Sunday night in light of this song: Dustin preached on self-discipline. I had already been convicted of still trying to work for my standingi n Christ. My consistent or daily reading of the Word makes me no less "worthy" of participating in communion then if I didn't read the Word at all. My "ability" to take communion is based on His finished work of the Cross. If I start equating my standing before God with what I do and how self-disciplined I am - then I have gone away from the teaching of Scripture and have subscribed to my own form of idolatry with a works-based salvation.
How grateful I am for both - the Word (as in the Bible) and the Word (as in Jesus, the Incarnate God, God with us - as we celebrate at Christmas). And I'm also grateful for talented musicians at Sojourn who wrote the lyrics and music to this song - and for Crossing worship band who played it on Sunday.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Secret Church - Exploring the Holy Spirit

David Platt. Brookhills. Birmingham. Seminary-training. Persecuted Church. Missions. All in one night. Amazing (even better w/o being sick and hitting B'ham traffic).
Really, worth the 6 hour drive. I of course wouldn't give up my seminary education for much, but this would be great if you can't go to seminary, but you want the chance to know core doctrine. This night was dedicated to 5 hours of teaching (83 pages of notes) on the Holy Spirit. During breaks, they had testimonies and videos and prayer for the persecuted church around the world (specifical Friday was Equador and SE Asia).
I actually left about 11pm because I was sick, and coughing, probably annoying the people around me - but seriously 2000 people (most between the ages of 15-25) packed out a sanctuary on a Friday night.
Here are some of the highlights (or ah - ha) moments I had on Friday night:
Exodus 33.11 - Moses is meeting with God. I want to be a woman on whom rests the Spirit of God. I want to be the tent - a friend of God. John records in his gospel Jesus saying a friend of mine is one who obeys my commands. Christ through his death made the relationship possible. Sin keeps us out of it. Sin has got to go!
The Spirit is essential. Acts 19. I am speaking this weekend in Apex - but really - I am nothing. I want the Spirit to impress that fact upon me more than anything else. It doesn't matter how well I speak, how I've prepared or studied, what I wear or look like, what I weigh, how many ladies are there, how well I sing. I think being sick going into this weekend is one of the ways God is going to teach me this. Its not what man brings to the table - it is a work of the Spirit.
Job 34.14-15. We as Baptists usually look at the Spirit as substandard (not really part of the Trinity) or we consider the Spirit in negative terms, controversial terms. We seldom look at him or know Him to be ESSENTIAL! Our very next breath comes from the Spirit.
Luke 2.25-32. Can I please be like Simeon - to wake up every morning just to see Christ. That is all he was living for. To be like him - to have Christ be all that I am breathing for and getting out of bed for.
Acts 2. Do I pour out the Spirit of God? "In Acts, the one who possessed the Spirit now pours out the Spirit" - love, grace, conviction, mercy, God - do these things pour out of me?
Luke 11.11-13. When we ask - He gives us the Spirit. If we are asking for guidance - He gives us the Guide. If we ask to be comforted, He gives us the Comforter. And so on. Everything we need is wrapped up in the Work and Being of the Holy Spirit.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

27 Dresses

I've been housesitting this week so I have access to movies that aren't mine (I love people with great movie collections). I hadn't seen this movie, had heard some good things about it, and wanted to check it out.
But, I also learned from Bruce at Southeastern to always watch movies with a critical eye - looking for the worldviews in it and how it differs from God's worldview that He gives us in Scripture. So, I sat down in the lazyboy with my steno pad and pen - and pressed play.
This is what got on paper:
- weddings are more important than marriage
- woman minister in one of the weddings she was in - this denies a complementarian viewpoint and you could also see that in some of the relationships in the movie and random comments.
- Competition and sex is what it boils down to
- They mocked 1 Cor 13
- Kevin (Malcolm) actually had the divorce rate correct - which is also sad.
- True - marriage isn't always easy
- The girly notion of number 1 and longingly looking at the wedding annc page in the newspaper
- Guys - its all about getting laid
- Women try too hard to win the guy's hearts (and again, we are back to the complementarian thing about men leading in relationships)
- Relationships are built on lies (however, this comes to light before the wedding takes place - one redeeming quality, although not in the way she does it)
- Wallow in self-pity
- "rebound" dating - using the other guy
- Love is all sentiment - love is an action and choice
- Getting drunk always helps, and dancing on bar tops, which understandably leads to sex (hint of sarcasm)
- "Last legal form of slavery" - what happened to the marriage for the glory of God?
- Destroying someone else doesn't make you feel better
- It isn't always better being someone else
- Girls take lead in commitment (again, complementarian is completely wrecked).
I hope this inspires you to think more about the movies you watch. I love chick flicks with the best of them. But, I know they are so not a picture of the real world. I read once that chick flicks are female porn. Maybe not porn for guys (sexual) but porn for women - we want the sweep you off your feet, bring me roses, call me right away, talk to me for hours, drop dead gorgeous guy who buys me things - and watching chick flicks makes us want that - instead of maybe what we do have - or what God has planned for us.
Do I still watch chick flicks - yes, but now I watch them with an eye for what is false and hope to pick out something redeeming in them.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Jesus is So Much Better

Ah - the things I think about. Sometimes I just write what I'm learning at church or in my quiet times. This is one of those times. Not a deep critical thinking thought or a well-researched idea - or one that is highly controversial - just the goodness of God still talking to his daughter.
Yesterday was a good day at Crossing and a convicting day at Crossing. That is what happens when you hear the Word being preached, and are forced to constantly examine your life in light of the gospel. I love taking communion every Sunday and pray that it will never become "habit" for me.
I try to prepare for church before I go. Sounding all spiritual to myself and my reasonings, I do it just before I leave - but really its because other things are more important (running errands, cooking, football). So convicted of that as I sat down with Hab 2 before church yesterday. So, in repenting of that, I get the joy of spending time on Sundays with God - first thing - so that is my focus on Sundays and not just having most of the day free to do what I want.
Then, realizing that there will always be people who are better than me at everything. I am not going to be best at anything I do. There will always be better greeters, singers, cookers, bakers, thinkers, talkers, dressers. People who are prettier than me, skinnier than me, lose weight faster than me, exercise harder then me, etc. The list believe me could go on.
But why do I strive to be the best at those things - and why does it make me so discontent when I realize that I'm not the best. Because I put my worth in those things. I put the value of who I am in those things. That is not where my value lies. Should I strive to do good in all things - yes. The Word clearly says to do all to the glory of God. But, my worth is not based in what I do. My worth is based in 2 things: I am a daughter of the King created in His image and the blood of Jesus was spilt for me.
Thinking also today about dreams. We all do have them - hopefully. Goals, dreams, whatever you want to call them. Should we pursue those - yes - as long as they are God-given dream to enable us to give more glory to Him. But, if they are for our own gratification and glory - then we need to rethink those - and put those under the authority of God's Word.
And in all of that - from yesterday's sermon and service, to today's blog world - I know that Jesus is so much better than anything I could be, the best dessert I could make, the best voice I could have, being the skinniest or prettiest, have a great marriage or the most well-behaved kids. Better than having the best job in the world - the one I've always wanted. Better than speaking to the largest women's gatherings every weekend. Better than having the cute little house that I can decorate and a big kitchen so I can bless people with cooking. Better than having the most incredible ministry in the area. JESUS IS SO MUCH BIGGER (and BETTER)!
And how do we know that if the things we want are taking over Jesus' #1 spot - because we want those things more than we want the companionship of Jesus.
Two verses on being satisfied from the Psalms:
Ps 81.16 - "But he would feed you with the finest of the wheat, and with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.” Honey doesn't come from a rock. Wheat takes work. Even in the hard times of God's discipline or our times when we think nothing is like the way we dreamed our life to be - GOD WILL SATISFY!
Ps 90.14 - I learned this verse a few years back from John Piper - "Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days". This is the Thing to rejoice in!
May this encourage you today - that even in times where you may not have everything you dreamed of, or you realize that other people are better at you at certain things, or at times when you have everything you dreamed of - JESUS IS SO MUCH BETTER!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Gender Roles Pre-Marriage

This blog post has been in the thinking process for a few days now. But last night, conversing with a friend, something came out of my mouth that put in all into perspective for me.
First to the ladies: Ladies, especially single ones, we need to be living out biblical womanhood now, while we are single. God did not create us as married women - He created us as women - and desires for us to live as women who model biblical womanhood (that's why He gave us women in the Bible, and the writings of Paul). If you need two books to read on this subject - I would recommend Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye - really a book on how to live out biblical womanhood while you are single (Prov 31) written by a single woman, Carolyn McCulley. The second would be RBMW - Piper and Grudem - what was known as the big blue book when I was coming through seminary. Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood is not named Council on Biblical Husbands and Wives. Because that is not where the character is rooted. Our character and qualities as woman are honed by God in our lives prior to us getting married. So, don't be saying to yourself, one day, if I get married, I'll do this...and be this way... Start living the way God would want you to live now: care for the men in your life as brothers in Christ, keep your home, be hospitable in your home and in your church, love your neighbors, learn from older women on how to do these things, mentor the younger women in your life, live by grace, focus on your walk with God - being who God wants you to be as a woman of God.
Married Women - two more books (besides the two above): Biblical Womanhood in the Home (ed by Nancy Leigh Demoss) and Feminine Appeal by Carolyn Mahaney. I have read both and re-read both and couldn't recommend books more highly on the subject than these. Love your husbands, respect your husbands, keep your home. First priority in your life, outside of your relationship with God, should be your husbands - then your children and home. That is not to say that you can't work, go to school, hang out with other women - but as Prov 31.12 says - she is to do her husband good all the days of her life. That is going to look for each couple - but our first priority should be our husbands.
Pastors/Godly Leaders - I love the older (or younger) godly men in my life - am so thankful that God has allowed us to be friends. Please shepherd the young men in your keep to be biblical men - to love the women in their life (all of them) as sisters in Christ. Keep setting the bar high in your churches for your men to love Christ, love their wives, show us single women what biblical husbands should be - so that we will know what to look for in our future husbands.
I speak for several single women - we want biblical leaders, masculine, Christ-like men as our husbands. Pastors - please teach this. We crave it and desire it.
Prov 31, Eph 5, Gen 1-2, 1 Peter, 1 Tim 1-3

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Big Bone Lick State Park

Yes - there is such a place, but I am in KY - right?

Up northern KY about 20 minutes from Cinci there is a state park with this name. It is 6 miles off I-71 so we decided to go. Little did we know we weren't the only ones going to this park this weekend.

At the Big Bone Lick State Park - there was a Salt Lick Festival going on. I know the Azalea Corn Festival, the Strawberry Festival, and other ones - but come on - a Salt Lick festival - with parking dudes and cops?

Mom and I just drove by, took a picture, and turned around. I guess even people in really small towns need something to do on the weekends!

General Butler State Park

I will probably go back to this state park - but for now Mom and I just did a drive through on an absolutely gorgeous day.
This park is a resort park about an hour from the Ville. It has a lake, bball courts, tennis courts, hiking, cabins, conference center, falling leaves, etc. It was a nice curvy drive back to the conference center itself. It has an observation point as well which is very pretty looking down over what I would assume to be Kentucky River - but who knows?

Parents, Cincinnati, and Worship Styles

Wow - what a busy couple of days. God is so gracious in having my parents up here for a few days. They came up Wednesday afternoon just in time for dinner with the Weldys. It was great hanging out with them and eating some delicious food cooked by Lindsay! Such a precious couple to me. I learn so much from them that I can apple in my life - both now and in the future if I ever get married.
Thursday was lunch with Brandi. Mom cooked some great taco soup and then we had pumpkin muffin cakes for dessert. I'm glad Brandi got to hang out with my folks. Dad came to chapel with me too. Then he left to head to Cincinnati and Mom and I got a few more days to hang out and do girl stuff.
Thursday night we shopped and Friday night we shopped. Saturday we ate at Lynn's and then explored the road between Louisville and Cincinnati. We went to General Butler State Park (see other post) and some Wal-marts looking for shoes (to no avail). Side note: while Mom was getting her hair done, I strolled down to W-S where I've worked the past 4 Christmases. This year I'm not working there because I really wanna go to FL for Christmas. I walked in and totally felt a freedom from materialism and needing everything in that store. Thank you Jesus!
Saturday we went to IKEA for Mom to get some frames that we are going to work on while I'm at home during the holidays. Then we joined up with Dad to head to Montgomery Inn down on the Ohio for dinner. Then we watched some football, hung out on FB, and Dad slept.
We woke up early on Sunday, grabbed some Cracker Barrel for breakfast, then headed off to a church service at Cincinnati Primitive Baptist Church. A song service of about 5 hymns, all without music, then two sermons by Justin Huffman (asst guy at Cincinnati) and Thomas Mann (from VA). I loved one thing he said from Is 46: God used a man from afar to free us from captivity and offer us the chance to go back home and worship. Sound familiar? God used a foreign king who didn't know God at all to do this back then. Later - He would use Jesus to do that very thing. What a great prophetic word.
Then tonight got home and was so ready to go to Crossing. So thankful God has brought that church into my life. They rock out in worship. But, you know...
Worship really isn't about style. I learn this very slowly. Yes, I love the new worship styles in chapel at Southern. It is more free and more contemporary, so to me, it is more conducive to true worship. That is just me. Then this morning singing hymns, sitting down, no music, all verses...the truth was still in those hymns. Then tonight - Eddy and Phillip and guys rocking out to songs - all done for the pleasure of Jesus and there was truth in the lyrics that we were singing. The truth is found in worship. I pray God will continue to work on my heart when the style isn't necessarily my type - that He would allow me to come boldly before his throne in awe-filled worship of Him -joyfully!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Small Changes for a Better Life - Elizabeth George

I used to read everything Elizabeth George put out. And, I still think she is a great and practical writer - I just think she is not "thick" enough for me. If I need a quick practical book - I pick her's up. Usually I find many things that I need to work on from reading her work. I picked this from my boss' shelf and gave it a quick read - yes, still convicting. The points (18) are her chapters, followed by some thoughts of my own.
1. Wisdom - we must ask for it. This is a book on how to live wisely in your world. Solomon, the King, had to ask for it and was granted it. We need to ask for it today.
2. Ordering Life. I have been doing a little better at this. I do so through meal planning and weekly calendaring - trying to get in relationship building, church, outside time, and me time in every week. I've learned there is much good that comes from this - more later.
3. Purpose. A friend of mine who will soon be 25 asked me if life ever slows down. I told him you just have to prioritize your life and what you do. My life isn't near as busy as I let it get when I lived in Durham - and I like that. I am more intentional about what I do - but I also know I don't have to do everything! That is SO freeing!
4. The Word - Dwell on it. She brings up the three different stages of reading the Word: "cod liver oil, shredded wheat, peaches and cream". How o Lord I want to always be in the Peaches and Cream stage. As my mentor has always said though - even when you don't feel like it, read it anyway! "You'll never hear me say I am Christlike, but you will always hear me say I desire to be Christlike." (chapter 4)
5. Prayer Life. This is one I lack mostly. My prayer life isn't a sit down and pray type thing - it is more of a throughout the day, pray without ceasing type thing. I don't know which is better? I struggle with it. But, I love being reminded of things to pray for throughout my day - and praying for people - even if not aloud - then silently under my breath - God hears either way.
6. Spiritual Growth. She says to "recognize sin and overcome spiritual laziness". I do my quiet times at night. Sometimes it is earlier than others. Then sometimes, I spend too much time watching tv or being out with friends, that I am too tired to spend time in the Word. I rationalize it and say I'll spend more time tomorrow, or God doesn't want my tired time. How foolish is that reasoning?
7. Manage Your Life. Learn to Eliminate. (see number 3). I am trying to always have Friday nights to myself. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't - but I try. That helps me usually to have a more productive weekend. I also look forward to Friday nights because of it. My brain is tired, but "being around people skills" are tired. I want to chill.
8. Live by a Schedule (see number 2). I want to do more of this if I ever have the ability to be a stay at home wife/mother. But, mostly now it is get up and go to work - then other things. I don't need to always plan my day.
9. Care for your home. I got a great compliment by my friend who stopped by the house the other day. And honestly, it wasn't even clean because I had been housesitting all week. She said "I'm glad to see you have made this into your home." And a friend of mine, Lindsay, is great at this. She loves to take care of her home. It is her place. Her husband loves her because of it (and for many other reasons of course). Everytime I go to their house, I find something new that she has done. She is a great inspiration! "Married or single, your home is an indicator of your spiritual maturity and a direct reflection of your care and character." (125) I actually agree with this statement now.
10. Invest in Your Marriage. Now, you may be thinking - how can a single woman invest in her marriage. I read books on marriage, I hang out with married people, I listen to sermons on marriage, etc. This is how I currently invest in my marriage.
11 and 12. Train and Love Your Children. I love being around families who do this well. Then when I see kids who aren't disciplined very well - I notice it. Dustin, in his sermon from Sunday, said when you see a child who isn't disciplined, you see a child usually who isn't loved.
13. Cultivate Inner Beauty. I've received two compliments that have meant a lot to me. One was back in seminary. A boss I worked for said the thing he appreciated most about me was my gentle and quiet spirit. And recently, a friend said he appreciated my joyful and gracious spirit. These two compliments make me strive more to God-please in this area! Thank you Lord for working it in me!
14. Tend to Your Appearance. I am working on this one for work every day - as I just told a friend who complimented my makeup.
15 and 16. Watch what you eat and eat just enough. This is definitely an area of growth for me - and one of constant struggle. I can eat whatever I want - but only in moderation - and sticking mostly with things that are helpful to my body - as it was given to me to be a steward over!
17. Grow in Discipline. Nuf said - from 1-16.
18. Work on Diligence. This is another one of my big struggles. God - continue to work in me in this area. I am weak in the flesh - but allow me to live by the Spirit.