Monday, March 31, 2008

Grace for Today

The breezy wonderful weather today allowed for a walk to the retention pond (hey, don't knock it - its the only water I get near the campus). I enjoyed the conversation as well as the wind. In that conversation - I heard the words in the title. God gives us grace for today - his mercies are new every morning.
I am a thinker. That is sometimes to my demise. I read a lot, think a lot, overanalyze a lot, think some more, ponder quite a bit, I am a black/white person with little room for gray, I am a decisive person. All that to say those are good things - but everything in moderation - right? I've thought today about some things in my life - I got to a point where it had to stop. I realized this...God is still trying to teach me patience. I so need that. I'll never get to a point where I will not need that lesson. Sanctification - daily process.
Here are some verses that I've thought about in light of this new (or old) discovery today:
Lam 3.22-27: But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,“therefore I will hope in him.” The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietlyfor the salvation of the Lord.
Matthew 6.25-34: “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."
Lillies and birds don't even have the capability of worrying - that is what we are supposed to be like! Did you know that in the ESV worry doesn't even show up in the Bible...
Col 3.12-17 (parts): Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another ...And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Hymns, Distractions, and Repentance & the Big Fish

Call to worship out of Ps 95: Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker! For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.
I was definitely not going to church morning out of joy and readiness to worship - but right when the singing started I realized how much I had missed it. Congregational singing - its very cool. Try it sometime.
Some of the lines out of the very theological/meaningful hymns stuck with me. Those ones you linger on and forget to come in at the next verse because you are still thinking about the one you just sang...
Come Ye Sinners Poor and Needy: "In the arms of my dear Savior, oh, there are 10k charms." I think ten thousand charms lay in so many other things - only here do all those charms exist.
Take My Life and Let it Be: "Take my love my God, I pour at thy feet its treasure store, take myself and I will be ever only all for thee." I think this goes right along with Prov 4.23 and Ps 119. We let so many earthly loves get in the way of our love and devotion to Jesus. Lord - please guard my heart against all other love that might seek to take your place as first in my heart and life.
Distractions: During one of the prayer times this morning I was so distracted. It was a longer prayer and all I could hear was the sneezes, coughs, cell phones ringing, babies crying, lollipop wrappers crinkling. What in the world does that say about my prayer life? Its says that it is very shallow. Lord - enable me to block out all the distractions when coming to you in prayer. Even when it is someone else praying - let me join with them in that concert of prayer as it reaches your willing, listening ears.
Repentance - Jonah 3. 4 Points...3 Questions
1. We must acknowledge God's claim on our lives. The Ninevites did so as they repented after the preaching of Jonah's message from the God of the Israelites. He wasn't even their God. But - they repented
2. It demands that we have a contrite, submissive attitude toward God.
3. We must turn from specific sins.
4. We have a sure hope of mercy. The Ninevite king wasn't even 100% that they would be given mercy if they did repent. We know that for sure - the cross, Rom 2.4 (how I love that verse. Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?
1?. Is there any ongoing sin in my life that needs to be repented of?
2?. Am I avoiding or inviting temptation?
3?. What am I doing - why am I doing it?
Often times, I am aware of my sin - but is there is a sorrow (deep distress, sadness, or regret ) that leads to repentance that leads to change? If I say I love Rom 2.4 - mustn't I also live it in my life? If I say Jesus is Savior and Lord in my life - shouldn't my life prove that to be the case.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Treasure Principle - Randy Alcorn

Do we beg for the privilege of giving? (p 76)

A few years ago, JD asked all of the Summit to read this little book. God used its message in amazing ways in the life of members of the Summit: building campaign, missions, people going to serve in missions, sharing with others withing the church, etc. I just recently finished it for the second time. Now, being at a different point in life - I got something more out of it - and saw more of its truths.
"The treasure captures his imagination, becomes the stuff of his dreams. It's his reference point, his new center of gravity. p 7" - Here, Alcorn is referencing the man who finds treasure in a field, goes and sells all his possessions to buy the field. Do I do that? Am I unwilling to let go of these treasures to find something untold - something beyond everything I can imagine?
"The less I spent on myself and the more I gave to others, the fuller of happiness and blessing did my soul become. p20" - This was taken from Hudson Taylor. One of the books this former missionary is called the Spiritual Secrets - how true is that statement!
"One of our central spiritual decisions is determining what is a reasonable amount to live on. Whatever that amount is - and it will legitimately vary from person to person - we shouldn't hoard or spend the excess. p 26" This is very difficult to figure out. Over the last 8 years I've made varying salaries - but now, am I content to live on what I make now? Where is wisdom in saving for the future? Preparing, being smart? Not hoarding - just being wise? This is where I question some in the book.
"Gain was precisely what Jim Elliot was thinking about! He just wanted the kind of gain he couldn't lose. He wanted his treasures in heaven. p 49" - Jim Elliot didn't have time to start saving for retirement or for when his car broke down - how was he going to afford another one. He lived his short life in total abandonment of this life - in total surrender to the next.
"In 90% of divorce cases, arguments about money play a prominent role. p 50" My Dad always told me that. I do believe him - even as I get older - especially as I get older. But, this is why it is important to talk about money issues (how much, will the wife work, how will you give, the husband's job to provide - God-given mandate, etc) before you even get engaged. It is a big deal!
"Giving affirms Christ's lordship. It dethrones me and exalts Him. It breaks the chains of mammon that would enslave me. p 57" But the flip side is - people can be so captured by how much they give that they use it as a pride builder - not a Christ-exalter.
"Think about it. How does a young Christian in the church learn to give? Where can he go to see what giving looks like in the life of a believer captivated by Christ? p 82" I learned the joy of tithing once I got to college. I learned the principles of tithing and saw the fruit of tithing from my mentors. They taught me how to do it, how to do it joyfully. Yes, we sat down sometime to have conversations about it -but I saw them live it out. It was amazing. I love knowing every two weeks I get to give - it is amazing the joy that comes from that. I love being able to give to people who serve in ministry or missions now - God has given and blessed me to be able to do that.
"Dickens said of Scrooge: his own heart laughed, and was quite enough for him. (p 91)"

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

When Sinners Say "I Do" - Dave Harvey

Sovereign Grace pastors put out some good books. This is no exception. I've been wanting to read this book since it came out about a year ago. Then one of my friends who is newly-married told me that it was fantastic - and was changing her marriage already.
No one really wants to hear the information in this book - but it is so good. Again, a great book to read in light of the gospel - the grace and Cross of Jesus!
"To be a good theologian and therefore a good spouse, we must study God as he really is. We must get our understanding and interpretation of God and reality from Scripture (p.22)" The beginning of knowing anything about sin and why it is so horrible - is to know God. The more we know who God is the more we will know how sinful we are - but how welcomed we are by His grace.
"Marriage is set within the world – and within your home and mine – as a reminder, a living parable of Christ’s relationship to the church." (p 27). I said this a while ago on this blog that this was my biggest fear in getting married - was that people might look at my marriage and see a strained view of the gospel. But, grace is big. I am a sinner - sometimes I think I'm not (I guess, but that is pride, therefore I am a sinner).
"It is very important to our Christian lives to be suspicious of any claims to righteousness we bring to our relationship with God. It is in Christ alone, and in his merit alone, that we trust. True humility is living confident in Christ’s righteousness, and suspicious of our own. p 63" I love this definition of humility. I said to someone the other day that I am glad I'm reading all these marriage books - seriously - do I think I can work my way to a right relationship with God - it is still all grace.
"Needs are not wrong, we all have them. They exist as daily reminders that we were created as dependent beings. in fundamental need of God and his provision for our lives. But, maintaining a distinction between genuine needs and those needs invented by a self-indulgent culture is essential for a healthy marriage. " (p 74) Needs, expectations, etc - how often do I think about what I can offer the other person - people I see all around me - those in need - or is it just what I need that matters? My life should be about being a servant to other people - not about getting my needs and expectations met.
"Be merciful even as your Father is merciful (Luke 6.36) Mercy is a unique, marvelous, exceptional word. God’s mercy means his kindness, patience, and forgiveness toward us. It is his compassionate willingness to suffer for and with sinners for their ultimate good. Sweet marriages are built on mercy dispensed" (p 79, 82) As I've recently taken a personality test - I have grown in mercy. Now, let me tell you this is none of my own doing. Over the past few years I have prayed that God would work mercy in me because I have received much mercy. Not that personality tests mean everything - but God is gracious in letting me continue to receive mercy and is enabling me by His grace - to show it to others. I still have so far to go! :)
"Would your spouse say you sympathize with weakness? That you extend to him or her the mercy Christ has lavished on you in light of your weaknesses? Or do you sit in judgment?" (p 93) Oh, our marriages would be so different if we shared with our spouses the same grace that God shared with us. Jesus was able to sympathize with us - knowing our burdens - let us turn our faces towards our spouses in their times of weakness and struggle - and point them to a ever-loving Savior.
"God’s purpose for reproof is not to achieve a hassle-free marriage, but to inspire repentance unto godliness. And repentance and change simply take time. We must be committed to the entire process of helping each other grow in godliness through life." - (p 127) - The entire process. I seem to be committed to telling others what is wrong in their lives - not seeing them through. That is work of mercy in my life by a gracious Father. Thank you.
"Meekness has nothing to do with being weak or passive. Meekness is power harnesses by love. It is an expression of humility that will not bristle or defend when challenged about motives. In fact, a meek person realizes that he could have selfish motives and must evaluate himself. This fruit of the Spirit helps us govern our anger, restrain our tongue, and maintain our peace. Tozer said the meek man will have attained a place of soul rest. As he walks on in meekness he will be happy to let God defend him. The old struggle to defend himself is over. He has found the peace which meekness brings. In marriage, to be meek is not to be weak or vulnerable, but to be so committed to your spouse that you will sacrifice for his or her good. A meek person sees the futility of responding to sin with sin." (p 130) I have known for about 7 years that this is what I need in a husband - someone who leads with meekness - not with shouting, anger, tyranny. But, I pray now, having read this paragraph, that I would become more meek - seeing what I want to see in my future spouse also in myself.
Thanks Laura for telling me how good this book is. It is a definite must read for everyone getting married (yes, even in the engagement period) and also for those who have been married for 50 years.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Mike TV from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

I wonder if he ever had these thoughts...
Insecure. Not good enough. Seeing the world for what it is - worthless and ending. I'll never fit in to what is better (by the world's standards). My thoughts are not Phil 4.8 and Col 3.1-5.
See what even a little bit of television will do for you...
Movies are a different story for me because I can pick and choose my movies. You never know what is going to come on tv - even during commercials of NCAA March Madness.
Just my random thought for the day.

Amazing Grace, Music, and Josh Harris

This morning may be the first Easter Sunday morning I have not attended church - celebrating Christ's resurrection with a community. Not because of lack of want, but because of presence of pain. I find it very painful to sit for more than 15 minutes at a time (that would just be the ride to church much less the service). But, I also know I can celebrate right here because God is omnipresent and the Spirit dwells within me (He is alive in me).
This morning will consist of three things: Amazing Grace (the third time I've watched it this weekend), Easter songs on iTunes, and a sermon from Palm Sunday. Two things I've relished about the movie Amazing Grace:
1. Twas grace that taught my heart to fear. How many times have I sung that line. Grace is work in our lives of the Spirit drawing us to to fear the God of wrath, to fear because we know we are sinners. God is holy. But, grace is also the saving agent - along with faith - in the death of Christ and his BODILY resurrection.
2. I am a great sinner, and Christ is a great Savior. John Newton said those words. How true they are. How often do we think the gospel starts with the cross. The gospel doesn't start with the cross. The gospel starts with the fact that God is holy and perfect and we have despised and turned away from that - we are sinners. If we don't start there - what good is the cross. So, one can't preach the gospel without mentioning the fact that we are sinners, lost and dying and going to an eternity in hell without the cross. Oh, praise God for the cross. There will be many people in White Plains NY who get to hear the gospel this week. Maybe many for the first time. May grace draw them, the gospel (sin and the cross) compel them to come poor and needy to a Savior who loves them. Please pray for the people of White Plains this week as a mission team from NC is there - sharing the gospel in practical ways. May they not stop with the starbucks, food, and newspaper - may they be bold and share JESUS - the true gospel.
I Stand Amazed (Chris Tomlin) - I remember playing this song in church growing up too. I love this song. How marvelous, how wonderful is my Savior's love for me.
He Lives (Lakewood) - 1 Cor 15:55...
“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
Jesus Paid It All (Kristian Stanfill) - Just a tad different then the hymn I played growing up, but just a few additions and a bigger drum beat. Sang this first at the Summit, too. "Jesus paid it all, all to him I owe, my sin had left this crimson stain - he washed it white as snow." I love the bridge "Oh praise the one who paid my debt and raised this life up from the dead."
Sermon: Jesus in Jeremiah, Part 8 - Josh Harris (Covenant Life, Gaithersburg, MD)
What does Jesus have to do with Jeremiah? (600 years before the birth of Christ, and what does it matter to us) "Every story in the Bible whispers His name - Jesus"
1. We hear Jesus whispered in Jeremiah's warnings of judgment. 6.16; 7.17-20. The God of the OT and the God of the NT (embodied in Christ) are the same God. Love and judgment are in both - and God never changes. We have the same great need of grace - Jer 6.16 - we have not taken the way that God has prescribed. We have gone our own way.
2. We hear Jesus whispered in Jeremiah's theme of mediation. Mediate - to intervene between people in a dispute and seek reconciliation. Jeremiah (as God's prophet) is between God and man (he is speaking to the people of Judah for God). Jeremiah also speaks on behalf of the people to God. 14.7, 18.20 (remember how I stood before you to speak good for them) - have mercy on these people. This is what Jesus did. (my side note: I love the OT - and even listening to this sermon - you can see Christ in it so much! Every word!) Only Jesus who is without sin - greater then Moses and Samuel. This is what the NT celebrates - someone to plead our cause. One Mediator! (CJ Mahaney's book - Christ Our Mediator). He has turned the wrath of God into favor. (Before the Throne of God Above)
3. We hear Jesus whispered in Jeremiah's prophecies of restoration (30-33) God will restore the Israelites. Nehemiah...(no king in that time) - there is a distant fulfillment (person of Jesus) - in the line of David. The King who will reign. All the chapters mentioned above point to the coming of Christ. Jer 31.7-11 "sing aloud with gladness, chief of the nations, save your people, the blind, the lame, they shall return here, with weaping they shall come, pleas of mercy I will lead them back, straight paths, I am a Father, He will gather him and will keep him as a Shepherd keeps his flock."
4. We hear Jesus whispered in Jeremiah's promise of a new covenant. Covenant: Philip Graham Ryken - a biblical covenant is a binding relationship of eternal consequence in which God blesses and people obey. We can't obey - our heart's our deceitful (17.9) - we commit spiritual adultery. We are trapped - we can't approach - yet we need God to change us so we can obey. He announces that His plan is to do what we can't do for ourselves - to save us, to rescue and redeem. Jer 31.31 - "a new relationship, a new covenant, I will put their law within them and write it on their hearts, I will be their God and they shall be my people, they shall know me, I will forgive their sin, I will remember their sin no more." What incredible news! Goats and animals and sheep can never remove - forever!
God - thank you for Jesus - all along the way - you were painting a picture. Help me never forget that picture.
This has been an amazing sermon. I think I will go back and listen to the whole series. Josh is starting a series on the Psalms next week.
Enjoy the covenant of God!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

My thoughts this Easter and Some fave Easter songs

This is the thought that has been on my mind this Easter weekend: How is my life different than that of the disciples and other people who lived on the first Easter weekend. On Friday, witnessing the death of Jesus, and than what...nothing. They had to live Saturday not knowing that Sunday was coming. That would have been the worst Saturday ever. They didn't have March Madness to make a difference. Their friend had died. He had been murdered. What was going to happen next?
See, I, as a believer in the Risen Jesus, have no reason to despair. I live my life in response to a Sunday morning. That weekend took all of God's wrath from me, made me justified and cleansed forever, providing my entrance into the Throne room of God. I don't have to live like Jesus is still in the grave. He's not!
These are some of the songs I've been listening to...
O What A Savior - I think I like it because that is what is claims - we have such a Savior - and let me tell you Ernie Haase can sing it! I like the Cathedrals, Deep in the Heart of Texas version
Another song on that same CD I love it
Plan of Salvation: I want to thank Jesus... The cross had to happen - the wrath of God had to put on someone. He was humbled to his Father's own will (oh may I be that way too, no matter what the cost). The Garden was such a lonely and foreboding place...knowing what was coming. So many times I thank Jesus for other things - but how often (besides Easter) do I thank him for the cross? May that thought never leave my mind - may I preach the gospel to myself everyday - before I awake, throughout my day, persevere in that thought that the One who was the Action of Creation died on a splintery cross for me.
He Lives - Lakewood Church - I remember singing this at the Summit - best song we ever did I think. Jesus' walking on water didn't save me - His death on the cross and resurrection saved me. He lives, conquered the grave, covered our sin, death couldn't hold the promise within (1 Cor 15). Hosanna to crucify - how praising and cursing come out of the same lips. The only line I disagree with in this song is "everyone knows in three days he rose, with power forever to redeem you and me." Everyone doesn't know - that's what is lacking in the gospel (as Bruce Ashford said one time in a missions sermon). If everyone knew it then we wouldn't need to tell others because they would already know. May we never think that everyone (even in the Bible belt) has heard of this precious news!
My Redeemer Lives - Hillsong - I first sung this at Anastasia - one of my fave Hillsong songs. My shame he's taken away, my pain is healed in his name. I believe (Lord, help my unbelief). I'll raise a banner - my Lord has conquered the grave.
The Old Rugged Cross - I used to play it in Plant City Primitive Baptist Church in middle school. This is sung by Bart Millard. It is an emblem of suffering and shame and we wear it around our necks and tattoo it on our bodies - hang it on our walls - do we have it backwards somehow. My trophies are nothing. How can I cling if I am holding on to my sin and pride so tightly? Phil 2 is highlighted in this song to - the humility and exaltation of Jesus.
Beautiful Scandalous Night - Bebo and Sixpence - Be thirsty no more. We are wrecked by the fall. Tragic tree. Atoned by His blood. Justified.
There are many others - but those are it for right now...

Friday, March 21, 2008

Re-reading the Cross Centered Life

At Easter - I like to focus my reading. I have picked up this little book ever since it came out - some point during the Easter season - The Cross-Centered Life by CJ Mahaney - it came out in 2003. I have different colored highlights or pen scribblings for each time I have read it. This time the writing and underlining is in hot pink - because that is only pen I have near me. This is how God spoke to me through the reading of this book this afternoon (yes, it is an 85 page book you can read in one sitting):
DA Carson writing of the apostle Paul says this: "He cannot long talk about Christian joy, or Christian ethics, or Christian fellowship, or the Christian doctrine of God, or anything else without finally tying it to the cross. Paul is gospel-centered, he is cross centered." (p 11) So many times I love to talk about what God has done for me and ministries I am involved in and what God is doing those - how many times do I focus on the cross...
"Legalism claims that the death of Jesus on the cross was either unnecessary or insufficient." (p.25) I don't think any of us would ever say this - but how often does my life reflect it? JD usually points this out too - that we come to worship (on Sunday mornings) based on how we performed during the week - this is legalism.
I highlighted this in yellow as well a few years ago: "We may justly condemn ourselves as the greatest sinners we know because we know more of the folly of our own heart than we do of other people's." (p.44) How sad but true this is. No one, not any one in any relationship, will know you better than you know yourself. We usually try to put our best foot forward. God didn't care about our "best foot" when He sent Jesus to the Cross. He saw our ugly sin, his righteousness, and sent Jesus for us and His glory.
"Rom 3.23-26: For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and are justified by his grace as a gift through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus...this was to show God's righteousness." (p.58) I love the simplicity. We fell short - yet we are justified by Christ as a gift to show God's righteousness.
"Regardless of your relationship to others, whether you are single or married, a husband or a wife, a father, a mother, or a grandparent, your faithfulness and effectiveness in your relationships are directly tied to your understanding of the cross. 'Be kind and compassionate to one another forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.'" (p 80) I have learned so much about forgiveness - and grace in relationships.
And the thing found in this book that has become something big...Preach the gospel to yourself every day! I am a sinner standing in need of God's grace daily - not just once on the cross - Justification and Sanctification.
Live in the grace and stand in the shadow of the glorious cross!

Recent Reading

I change my books often - so today marked a day for some change in the currently reading section.
Life in Christ - I figured this to be my "meaty" book - John Stott is a heavier author to read, but I don't think this is one of his heavier ones. This is one of my sale table books - 3$ for a book is my kind of deal.
Feminine Appeal - I love this book and read it over and over. It is a good reminder of many things and I learn something new each time I read it. Carolyn Mahaney is very practical and Grace-centered in her writing.
A Woman After God's Own Heart - This is my fave E. George book so I thought I would pick it up again for daily simple reminders of the driving thing of living in grace - living under the cross. I want to press in and know God - be like David.
These Strange Ashes - I started this book by Elisabeth Elliot a while back in the fall but put it down - thought I would pick it up again.
Through Gates of Splendor - I love this book. It is my fave biographical book of a missionary. You can see Jim Elliot through this book and also through his journals. There is no difference between the private and the public Jim. He was younger than I am when God chose to bring him into His presence. But, what a life lived! My friend Janel has recently lost two young friends (and the whole of UNC's campus) - but she makes a good case for living well on her blog. Whenever I feel stagnant in life or that something else bigger is coming - I like to think of Jim Elliot. So grateful for his life of service, passion, and example.
The Treasure Principle - We all need to question and evaluate what we do with our money, time, and talents. This book is a good source. While I don't necessarily agree with everything in it - it reminds me of a movie and a grace gift one time - Pay it Forward. This principle was graciously brought to my attention a few years ago - now I own and love the movie.

Be reading!

Things that make me smile

Sometimes, its the little things that make me smile.
I smile when I see a real elderly man shuffling along the street.
I smile when I see kids - especially my friends' little Annie - she is 9 months old and about the most adorable creature I have ever seen.
I smile when something I bake or cook pleases someone else. Or when I send a card or package to someone and they receive it well! :)
I smile when my phone rings and its someone I want to talk to.
I smile when I get emails from people I want to talk to.
Lately - squirrels have made it to the "things that make me smile" list. I saw one hopping along a fence post down the street and then he hopped to a tree and scurried up it.
I smile at the beach.
I smile at thunderstorms.
I smile at tulips.
This post was inspired by 22 words (Abraham Piper's new blog) and his thoughts on squirrels

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Sin and Decay

I know - what a topic for this coming weekend! So thankful Christ defeated death, sin, and the grave - for HIS Father's glory and my salvation and justification!
I've been dealing with some serious back pain this week. This isn't a new problem, just an aggravated problem. A few weeks ago, on the girltalk blog - the girls were talking about how we (as women especially) use certain things to justify sin: PMS, menopause, postpartum depression, etc. I have been thinking much about this this week. I have been reminded of things in Scripture to read to comfort me or to get my minds on other problems in the world and not look at my back pain as the end all be all. (Read almost the whole month of Feb - they were talking about all these issues - very insightful in light of the gospel)
So, I thought about it in light of pain too. Does being in pain allow me to have a sinful attitude or to act sinful in anyway? No, of course not. We use that as an excuse. I have no right to be rude or short or sarcastic with people just because I'm in pain. Excuses - there is never any for sin - because sin is an affront to God's glory. God's glory never diminishes, so our sin will never be allowed.
But, then I need to apply this thought to when people cut me off in traffic and I talk back to them or get mad, or when I get impatient because the line at Kroger is too long, or my excuses of working in a Christian place for not witnessing to people - all are excuses!
None of them are acceptable.
Praise God He sent His Son to die on a cross for ALL our SINS where we wouldn't have to be enslaved to them any longer. I love Rom 6-8 and 1 Cor 15 in light of the glorious weekend we are celebrating!
Celebrate happily! :)
In this pain though - I have found comfort in this:
2 Cor 1.3-11
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort. For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Which 5?

I saw this question on a facebook page, thought I would throw the question out to the blog world?
If you only had 5 books to have for the rest of your life - what 5 books would it be? I am constantly buying new books even though I have so many on my shelves that I haven't read. It would take me forever to read everything on my current bookshelf - would I ever buy a new book? I've tried it - it doesn't work for me.
But, here are mine (I think):
1. The Bible in the English Standard Version (ESV)
2. Future Grace- John Piper
3. Redeeming Love - Francine Rivers
4. Joy of Cooking - I've gotta have one cookbook
5. Bible Doctrines - Wayne Grudem

I would really like to know yours - thoughts?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Things to do in the City! - Updated

Well, when I mention the "city" - I'm of course only talking about New York City. Isn't every city built off this one? I'm slightly kidding.
I've been 3 times and have loved every trip (really twice, then once a little north of the city). My first trip was right after 911 - a group of students went to minister to people and talk to them - it was an amazing time of ministry in Time Square. The second trip was also an amazing ministry time as I went with about 15 college kids from the summit to Staten Island and then we went to the city for day. Loved it! :) I really liked Staten Island - there was actually grass! The third trip was to White Plains to help out a church plant up there. Got to meet several ladies from the church and go apple picking. White Plains is a great little town, not too far from the City.
So, Rach, Sarah and I have been talking about going again one day in the near future (whenever money will allow, so that will be never). So, I've been thinking what I want to do:
1. John's Pizzeria in the Square - we went there with the Summit - fantastic atmostphere and pizza.
2. Wicked or Jersey Boys on Broadway
3. This little place for tea: - its in Brooklyn.
4. Go to Ann Taylor Loft and Sephora!
5. Walk through or around or on Central Park
6. Go to some parks in White Plains
7. Find that little cheesecake place again by the place the kids saw Rent in Times Square and eat some plain cheesecake. amazing stuff!
8. Walk and shop and look and walk and just enjoy being in the city!
9. Go to Ground Zero
10. Go to the statue of liberty - I've never been to it - just seen it from the Ferry
11. Go to the Empire State Building
(Things I forgot in first post)
12. Attend a prayer meeting at Brooklyn Tab
13. Go to a service at Redeemer Pres (where Tim Keller is the pastor)
14. Do something to help out both church plants I know while I am there - The Gallery Church in Soho and CTKC in White Plains.

The City is easily in my top three places to go: along with Richmond and DC. Man, I miss living on the East Coast!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Headaches, Elyse Fitzpatrick's "Helper By Design", and NCAA Basketball

This morning, time change and all, started early. It started early because I had a headache, so I gave up the idea of church today and tried to sleep off the headache. My eyes and head hurt. Feeling a little better at the writing of this, but still my head hurts some. I don't like to take medicine if I don't have to - I try to rest and take it easy if I'm not feeling well.
Thursday evening I had the opportunity to hear Elyse Fitzpatrick speak on her upcoming book Because He Loves Me. I have read several of her books, including Helper by Design, which I just finished today. She has to be, if not the best, one of the best woman speakers I have heard. She is very gospel and Word centered and her approach to speaking is seriousness - not fluffy stuff. She is right on in aspects of the gospel that apply to women's lives. Hands down, that 80 minute "sermon" from Elyse to women on Thursday, was the best sermon I've heard from anyone since being here in KY. I'm grateful for the opportunity to have heard her.
Helper by Design is a book about what it means to be a helper to your husband. Yes, I know I am not married, but I can continue to learn and grow in that direction, if God so pours out his grace in that way in the future. These are some of the thoughts that stood out to me (got underlined) in my reading:
"How can I facilitate his development of a fruitful rest? What could I do to make our life together a place of harmony and God-centered worship, especially on the Lord's day?" (37) I think one of the many purposes or goals that I, as a wife, should have, is to keep harmony and peace - an atmosphere - in our home. Whether that is keeping a schedule for the successful running of the home, keeping the house clean, and also with peace that comes out of my mouth and in my non-verbal communication - that is a task I am given.
"Being your husband's companion-helper is much more than making his breakfast and sitting with him as he cheers on his favorite football team. Its a holy calling and one that you've been designed to fill, all for your joy and God's glory." (44) Notice the last line doesn't say "for your husband's enjoyment". It says for your enjoyment and God's glory. Just like Piper always rights - if we find our complete joy in Him - then our joy will be full. Life is not about making much of us - its about making much of others and ultimately making much of Jesus.
This was the biggest thought of the book for me: "The Lord has commanded him to love me just as Christ also loved the church and gave himself up for her. When I think about that command all I can do is shake my head in amazement! My heart reaches out in sympathy to him, and I long to help him obey. So, out of love for him and in light of our unified love for Christ, I want to try to make myself easy for him to love. I want to make his obedience to Christ easy." (94) Just think on that awhile and see how your life changes.
"You must be careful with your girlfriends to guard the words you speak about your husband, not only because you're called to honor and respect him, but because those thoughts will stick with you when you're with him that evening." (106) This is something I've thought of and heard before - and something that is so hard to practice. I want to be that wife - who never is heard speaking an ill word against her husband. The words might even be true - but those thoughts and words are still not God-glorifying - Phil 4.8.
Outside of being a woman who loves Jesus and His Word, I want this to be said of me: "Kindness, as opposed to a harsh, crabby temper. It is easily pleased, a mildness of temper, calmness of spirit, an unruffled disposition. It sweetens the temper, corrects an irritable disposition, disposes us to make all around us as happy as possible. God is the only one who can tame our hearts and make us into women who are known for their kindness. Is your lifestyle marked with good deeds, expressed in grace and tenderness?" (122)
In speaking on a chapter about submission: "You are to embrace the mission, calling, and vision of your husband, making it your own. You are to bring all your gifts and strengths to him for his use, as he fulfills God's calling in his life. In this way, submission is much deeper than mere obedience, although it is not less than that." (154)
This book is an easy read. It is also very practical with questions in the chapter and study group questions at the end of each chapter. This book is also very Word focused and focused on the life transformation the gospel can and should have in your marriage. It is another high recommendation (as iare any of Elyse's books).

Bball - we are heading into a very important time in the life of NCAA basketball. It is time for the conference tournaments and then those lead on to the Dance. Florida has had an awful end of the season (just losing a close one to UK) - although Nick Calathes will be great next year (and he is this year). UNC pulled off a huge win last night at Cameron Indoor. They won the ACC - big big game! :) Go Heels! Now, we'll see what happens this coming weekend and then on to the brackets!

Saturday, March 08, 2008

thoughts on hymns

I told a blog friend that I would post something about hymns this weekend. I've been listening to them in prep for church tomorrow since we sing mostly hymns there.
There are several ancient hymns put to contemporary music. I love them. Here are some of my fave:
Come Thou Fount, Come Thou King - Gateway Worship - I heard this first back in August I think at the summit. What a great blend.
Come Thou Fount - Irish style. Jill Robshaw McCloghry did this on the Anastasia "Go" cd - see worship in the Anastasia link on the right.
It Is Well - Passion Live 05 CD - by Shanes. This is an amazing live version of an incredible song. I love the speaking through it, the harmonies, the simpleness. I could listen to it a long time and never get sick of it.
Fairest Lord Jesus - Christy Nockels on Passion's Hymns CD and Praise to the Lord, the Almighty - also by Christy on the same CD, both of which I would love to have sung in my wedding. I heard Christy sing in Jill's wedding - a cappella Holy Holy Holy - man, what a voice.
Be Thou My Vision, How Great Thou Art are also some of my faves.
When I was growing up, I played the piano some in my small church where we always sang hymns. I loved playing The Old Rugged Cross, I Know Who Holds Tomorrow, When We All Get To Heaven, Holy Holy Holy.

Most of the hymns we sing today have sound theology. But, we always sing the same ones. Where are the lesser known ones that also have sound theology. You can look at most modern hymns CDs and probably 6 of them are the same ones.
Cyber Hymnal is another good way to get to know some of the old hymns we never sing anymore.
Don't be scared of singing them. If you need to, put them to drums and a guitar and not an organ and a piano. But, look carefully at them - make sure they are sound in their theology. Don't just sing hymns to sing hymns. Be direct and focused in your personal worship and corporate worship. Think about what you are singing. Hopefully there is a lot of truth in what is written on the staffs...
And don't sing them like most of the authors who wrote them - dead. Sing them in spirit and in truth. You can raise your hands and have a smile on your face when singing hymns (even if you playing them on an organ).

Winter Wonderland in March

Well, last weekend I was in 75 degree weather with clear blue skies and a slight breeze. This weekend, its 8 inches of snow and about 30. The joys of living in the slight north!

I am having to be productive in the house this weekend, but I did go outside and enjoy a jaunt around campus after it finally quit snowing. It snowed from Friday 7a till 4p and then picked up again at 8p and snowed hard till 12p today. This has been the most snow I've seen (other than skiing) since Jan 2000 in the blizzard in NC. 2 feet there!

So, here are some picks. I have two favorites: the little girl who was trying to climb the hill in the Valley of Decision (named due to so many marriage proposals that happen on the bridge) and then the one with the tree and the sun shining through the clouds. Dave, my neighbor, is being the man of his household and shoveling snow off his car! I tried to build a snowman, it was great snowman snow. But, my hands were so cold so by the time I got three balls put together and tried to pick them up - it didn't look like much, so I kicked it over. Oh, well.

Enjoy the pics! :)

Thursday, March 06, 2008

50 Reasons Part 2

And today - the rest of the 50 reasons - 26-50. May we be mindful of the gospel - may it enthrall us and let us know how sinful we are and how loved we are.
To Bring the OT Priesthood to an End and Become the Eternal High Priest: "Oh, how happy are those who draw near to God through Christ alone." As JD's message in sharing the gospel - Christianity is the only religion that is not spelled D-O, but is spelled D-O-N-E. We are not saved by bringing something to the table - we are saved by one who died on a cross and rose again.
To Free Us From the Futility of Our Ancestry: So much modern and popular psychology is based on this very thing - generational sins - or how bad were your parents?... I do think you can learn - but you can't blame. "When Jesus died, all the blessings of heaven were purchased for those who trust him. And when God blessed none can curse. Nor is any wound that was inflicted by a parent beyond the healing of Jesus. The healing ransom is called the precious blood of Christ. The word precious conveys infinite value. Therefore the ransom is infinitely liberating. No bondage can stand against it."
That We Might Die to Sin and Live to Righteousness: My favorite Christian fiction book is Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. This bit reminds me of it: "Sin is like a prostitute that no longer looks beautiful. Therefore, the believer is dead to sin, no longer dominated by her attractions."
To Make His Cross the Ground of All Our Boasting: One of my fave John Piper's sermons was Boast Only in the Cross - preached at one of the Passion Days. "We are not as Christ-centered and cross-cherishing as we should be, because we do not ponder the truth that everything good, and everything bad that God turns for the good, was purchased by the sufferings of Christ."
To Give Marriage Its Deepest Meaning: "God's design for marriage in the Bible pictures the husband loving his wife the way Christ loves his people, and the wife responding to her husband the way Christ's people should respond to Him. That means that in God's mind marriage was designed in the beginning to display Christ's relationship to His people. Now we see that marriage is meant to make Christ's love for his people more visible to the world." I was talking about this the other day and said it was my biggest fear in getting married - that I would mess up the gospel to a lost and dying world. Oh, God help me in this area...even now.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

50 Reasons Part 1

This is a perfect book to read 50 days before Easter. Seeing that Easter came earlier this year, I didn't get the adequate jump I needed on it. So, I am cranking out more than one each day. But, with this Piper reading you can do just that. Each "chapter" is 2 pages long. It is an easy read, but a harder read to comprehend and live by. So, here are my thoughts on 1-25.

To absorb the wrath of God: "We have all loved other things more. This is what sin is - dishonoring God be preferring other things over him, and acting on those preferences. Therefore, sin is not small, because it is not against a small Sovereign." Oft times I think I am better than some other people because I haven't done a particular sin or two. But, oh what I must remember is that any sin is the same because the sin is against the same God.
To Learn Obedience and Be Perfected: "But His heart was perfectly in love with God, and He acted consistently with that love." That is my problem - I am not perfectly in love with God - I am in love with other things that don't give me that complete joy - and I act consistently with that love - and it leaves me empty - it brings no complete joy.
To Show the Wealth of God's Love and Grace For Sinners - "The measure of His love for us increases still more when we consider our unworthiness." Only God's grace is big enough to cover me. It wasn't for me - it was God's rich grace.
To Become a Ransom for Many - "Yet not everyone will be ransomed from the wrath of God. But the offer is for everyone. There is one mediator between God and men - the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all. No one is excluded from this salvation who embraces the treasure of the ransoming Christ." - This is where the proclamation of the gospel and the duty of man to do just that comes in. Some people say Calvinists - or reformed people - don't witness as much. I've heard it just the opposite - we should witness more. Because we compelled to know that it isn't us - it is a much bigger God - and He can save whomever He chooses.
For the Forgiveness of Our Sins - "Oh, how precious is the news that God does not hold our sins against us." I love the word Oh! It is so descriptive and so little. This reminds me of the verse is Lamentations 3 where it says that His mercies are new every morning.
To complete the Obedience that Becomes Our Righteousness - "Let us admire him and treasure him and trust him for this great achievement." The treasure part to me is important in the negating of sins. If I treasured Christ the way I should - I wouldn't harbor sins and love sin the way I do.
To Take Away our Condemnation - "Condemnation is gone not because there isn't any, but because it has already happened." Piper is referring to Rom 8.1 here. I realized when I read this line today that I often say and use Rom 8.1 so flippantly when it comes to the Christian life. Oh, how horrible I am that I would make such light of the death of Jesus. He took our condemnation for us - its not like there never was any - its just already been paid. May I be mindful of this.
To Bring Us To Faith and Keep Us Faithful - "Jer 32.40 - I will make with them an everlasting covenant...I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me." I wrote at the bottom of the page - do I not know the fear of God when I sin (and I listed specific sins to me)? Oh, that it would do me good to remember this every minute of every day and to live in the Spirit in order to be killing sin (as Owens would say).
To Make Us Holy, Blameless, and Perfect - "One of the greatest heartaches in the Christian life is the slowness of our change." One would think that the longer you've been a Christian the less you would sin. As I was discussing with my friend the other day - I think I sin more. But, as a wise Greek scholar from Southeastern put it - the more we walk with Christ the more we will be aware of our sin and therefore we will be more mindful of it and be more appalled by it as well. I say that if a day goes by without me being convicted of sin then something is wrong - its not that I am perfect - but I must not be in tune with the Spirit to hear Him convict.
To Obtain for Us All Things That Are Good for Us - My favorite verse - Rom 8.32 - "What then does it mean that because of Christ's death for us God will certainly with him graciously give us all things? It means that he will give us all things that are good for us. All things that we really need in order to be conformed to the image of his Son. All things we need in order to attain everlasting joy." Then I could probably list everything this verse doesn't mean as well. This is not the health, wealth, and prosperity gospel - this is the conforming to the image of Christ and his death gospel.
To Bring Us To God - "If our best joy comes from something less, we are idolaters and God is dishonored. Turn from the fleeting pleasures of sin and come to pleasures forevermore. Come to Christ." I think of the Cameron Crazies or any other fanatical sports people - like me. I can get so excited about many sports events. Oh, that I may get even more excited about the work and person of Christ.

Come back later for 26-50 (as you can see, there aren't 25 here, and I doubt there will be 25 in the Part 2). Just giving you a taste to see what you are missing if you haven't read this.

Monday, March 03, 2008


Yes, it has hit! This weekend was really good but really long!

Friday my plane got in a few minutes early, but sitting at the airport for about 2 hours (because my wonderful ride took me before she had to be at work) was long. Starbucks to the rescue! There were two dance/cheerleading squads - so much for a quiet trip! Oh, well.

Lunch with James and Shana and their growing kids was great. To hear such wonderful things about FBC OC (link on right) and how the church is growing both numerically and spiritually was so cool. And - of course eating at Sonny's - which some people claim isn't "real" bbq... hmmmm. I'll take Sonnys!

Then, headed up to St. Augustine - oh, the beautiful city that it is. Got to hang out with the office staff some at ABC (link to right), then see my girl interns whom I love! Then the rest of the DNOW participants got there. We did skits - Chase's rocked!

The sessions and scavenger hunt over the weekend were good. I love the Palmers! Ella (girl in picture up there) has phenomenal parents who love to treat us very well! Thank you!

We won the Lego wall so we got to ride in an excursion limo on Sunday morning - gloating over the fact to the other teams (all in good fun!). Church - we sang Worth is the Lamb, took the Lord's Supper, and heard a great girl sing (on ABC's www). She can sing and play! So cool. It was great to see parents I hadn't seen in so long, talk with people who are such key players in my life, and just be loved on.

Then I got to sit outside in the ABC parking lot for 90 minutes in the beautiful sunshine - about 75 slight breeze not a cloud in the sky. Then got some fresh produce from the Crum Farm. Thank you!

Drove down to OC to hang out with the Beelers and the college life group. It was like I hadn't left - I love talking and hanging out with the Beelers - life, vision for ministry and Stetson, playing with Charlie (Piper-wannabe and future singer in the DCB band) and Annie (who loves to eat dirt?...). I really miss them - thank you guys!

Then the end of the evening came for me at 10:40 - I was out real fast in their comfortable guest bed which is one of my favorite in the world). 3:30 came early - 430 was actual get up time. Enjoyed my breakfast, car ride, and conversation with a great girl from OC. The airport at Orlando was packed. But, God was good - by the time we got through everything (along with half the cheerleading team from Friday who won this weekend in Orlando) we were able to walk right onto the plane. I slept some with the iPod in. Then had some Moe's for lunch before coming into work.

My brain wasn't quite functioning for work.

So, when is it too early to go to bed? 6:15pm sound ok? No, I have to unpack, clean some, put up the strawberries I hulled, and just breathe!

But, I love St. Augustine and Orange City...they are very dear to me! So, its been such a good weekend.