Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Excellency of Christ - Jonathan Edwards

I have to read Jonathan Edwards in small doses. That is why I love his sermon reader - a book of quite a few of his sermons. I started reading this one because it was mentioned in a John Piper book I have been reading. Basically - Edwards is contrasting the humanity and divinity of Jesus. But, in doing so - he also affirms how Christ is above all because of these two things. It was a good read. Here are some thoughts:
Christ's meekness: "But Christ, being both God and man, hath both infinite majesty and superlative meekness." This is from whom I need to learn meekness.
"We have dreadfully provoked God, but Christ has performed that righteousness that is infinitely precious in God's eyes." - Oh, the sweetness of us being counted righteous in Christ - that we are made the righteousness of God because of Christ' death on the cross.
JD says that there is no safer place than in Jesus - and also no more dangerous place. "Whatever your circumstances are, you need not be afraid to come to such a Savior as this: be you never so wicked a creature, here is worthiness enough: be you never so poor, and mean, and ignorant a creature, there is no danger of being despised, for though he be so much greater than you, he is also immensely more humble than you." Never thought of benefiting from Christ's humility in that way before.
What a comforting thought: "Tis altogether needless for you to continue laboring and toiling for that which can never serve your turn, seeking rest in the world, and in your own righteousness, I have made abundant provision for you, of that which is really good, and will fully satisfy your desires, and answer your end, and stand ready to accept of you, you need not be afraid; if you come to me, I will engage to see all your wants supplied, and you made a happy creature."
Are you friendless or lonely: "Let what has been said be improved to induce you to love the Lord Jesus Christ, and choose him for your friend and portion." I am singing in my head "I am a friend of God, repeat..."
This is a compelling thought: "One design of God in the gospel, is to bring us to make God the object of our undivided respect, that he may engross our regard every way, that whatever natural inclination there is in our souls, he may be the center of it, that God may be all in all."
May you see Christ in a new way - to see more of His excellencies!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Prayer and Faith - blind praying...

How do you know how to pray when you don't even know what the answer will look like? It is very hard.
The subject of prayer has been on my mind lately - probably because I stink at it and God is trying to work that in me. My mind wanders during long prayers at church, I don't have a solid prayer time everyday - that is disciplined and structured.
But, I have a prayer request and don't know what the answer would look like - because I see no tangible evidence of an answer to that prayer. Does anyone know what I mean?
Prayer and faith...the two have to go hand in hand. But, it is so difficult. There are a couple of things - big things in my life right now - that I have no clue what it would look like if God did answer.
Thoughts? Prayer? Faith?

Monday, April 28, 2008

Church thoughts - God-working Voice

I usually do my Sunday afternoon church thoughts from the morning service - but it just didn't get done yesterday. I love going to a church where I know the Word is going to be preached and it is going to be done in a loving way that brings me to repentance and conviction. Thank you Holy Spirit for working yesterday.
1. This is from their statement of faith - which we read aloud as a congregation yesterday. Listen to the God-working voice in this paragraph:
We believe that, in order to be saved, sinners must be regenerated, or born again; that regeneration is a change of heart, wrought by the Holy Spirit, who quickens the dead in trespasses and sins, spiritually and savingly enlightening their minds to understand the Word of God, and renewing their whole nature so that they voluntarily love and practice holiness; that it is a work of God’s free and special grace alone; and that its proper evidence appears in the holy fruits of repentance and faith, and newness of life.
I am grateful for this salvific work in my own life - but also am praying this for conviction of sin (yes, in my own life) but also to work Truths in other people's lives.
2. Isaac Watts today - Give to Our God Immortal Praise. This one refrain line stood out to me as I went back and re-read it: "repeat his mercies in your song". His mercy and grace should ever be coming out of our mouths - in all of our songs, thoughts, etc because that is how we draw our very breath (Ps 150.6, Ps 34.1)
3. We read one of my favorite OT passages - Ez 36.22-32 - all how God is going to work in our behalf to bring us back to him. But, this isn't for my good - it is for the good the Lord that others may know Him!
4. I remember the first time I heard "Beautiful Savior". It was at a Young Life Leader meeting during college. I think Brad Layland introduced it. I loved it. Every time I got to pick the songs I would choose this one. We sang this yesterday. My favorite verse is this:
"I will trust in the cross of my Redeemer, I will sing of the blood that never fails, of sins forgiven, of conscience cleansed, of death defeated and life without end." Again - listen to the God-working voice even in this modern hymn.
5. The main Scriptural passage today was 1 John 3.4-10 - continuing in his sermon series through 1 John. His main thought was why we don't get over to sin. Here are his whys: a) sin is in opposition to God v 4, b)Union with Christ forbids it v 8 c) We've been born of God (which comes from the entire passage).
I love the logic of verse 6: No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.. so its an if then statement. If I abide in Christ, I won't keep sinning. If I do keep seeing then I don't know Christ. We are not talking about sin here. We are talking about habitual, unrepentant sin. We are not perfect because John also says in his letter that if we think we are perfect, then the love of the Father is not in us - we deceive ourselves. But, there shouldn't be repentant, unconfessed, habitual, daily sin in our lives. Here are three more random thoughts from the sermon: a) What sins am I tempted to make peace with or rationalize? b)We are included in Christ's victory over sin because we are in Christ - Ephesians! c)The work of the devil is slavery to sin - that is his main goal. God has already freed us from that slavery.
Final: If we are in Christ and see no fruit, have a lack of conviction in our lives over sin - don't be content with the lack of evidence of grace in your life. Repent - God has promised forgiveness. His Sons life paid the price for it.
I pray that each of you are in a church where the WORD is the Central part of the worship service. So often our churches are showy, performancy, lights, skits, tons of songs, and then the Word is preached for about 25 minutes at best, or even some with longer sermons 50 minutes are more stories - I pray that the Word would be preached in churches.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Psalm 40

Some people probably think I only read the Psalms. I want to assure you that it isn't true. But, if you want to listen to some good sermons on the psalms - Josh Harris at CovLife in Gaithersburg is currently preaching a series on them. There is so much life and theology in the psalms. One can find out so much about God's character and how we, as His children, are to interact with Him.
Even as I sent a prayer request to some folks this morning and used some of Ps 40 in my prayer - it made me so quickly reevaluate my prayer life (or the lack thereof). So, here we go...
Ps 40 (man, now that I've looked at it even more - I love it even more - I love the WORD)
1. David was waiting on the LORD. Period. How my prayers often work is I tell everyone else about the prayer request and my little brain thinking is - well, that works as me saying the prayer too. WRONG! I need to first and foremost look to my LORD as my audience for prayers. He is the only one who can answer, the only One to offer relief. And the answer came. Yes, there is biblical commands for intercession and community of prayer - but never should we forgo taking our requests to God first!
2. "He drew me up" - God is working on our behalf. It is not a we thing. It is a God only thing.
3. I love this verse! Praise! Praise to our God - I think also of Romans 11.33-36 (see I do read other books of the Bible). All of our praise is due Him and no other - this is where it all comes from. And for what purpose is our praise: (one of them) is that people will "see and fear and put their trust in God." One of the reasons God answers our prayers is so that people will see HIM (not just the answer).
4. "who makes the Lord his trust, and does not turn to the proud" - concentrated gaze on God!
5. "You have multiplied your thoughts toward us" I love the idea of that - God thinks about me. HIS very Words (God-breathed) says that - and God doesn't lie. There is thankfulness and praise as a result of answered prayers.
6. I like this in light of Ps 50 (see next blog entry).
7-10. Declaration of our immediate obedience. Delight to do your will, law is within my heart, told the glad news of deliverance, I have not restrained my lips.
10-11. David extols the character of God that he declares: deliverance, faithfulness, salvation, steadfast love, faithfulness (again), mercy, steadfast love (again), and faithfulness (yet, again). These are so important characteristics when we have waited and waited and waited to see God work in an area of our lives - and finally (or maybe not yet) have seen the movement of God.
13. He takes joy to deliver me! But the deliverance may not come in how we think it will come. But, God is so WISE (as I have definitely learned over the last month)!
16-17. "But may all who see you, rejoice and be glad in you, may those who love your salvation, say continually Great is the Lord! As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me. You are my help and my deliverer, do not delay, O My God!" This is David's resounding confidence - not in the answer - but in the Answerer! (Ps 16.11)
Matthew Henry, great theologian that he was, said this: "From God he (David) expected relief, and he was BIG with expectation. Not doubting but it would come in DUE time. And resolved to continue believing, and hoping, and praying till it did come."

Monday, April 21, 2008

David Crowder - Psalm 50

Praise Habit - this is a very good supplement to one's readings in the Psalms. David Crowder, songwriter extraordinaire - uses The Message and his own devotional thoughts to bring some Psalms to life. It is a creative tool - not to be read without with the Word (not a paraphrase, but a translation) and one's own meditation - but it is a good additive for devotional reading.
I use it in this way. I read the chapter (this morning I was in Psalm 50), and then I read it in the Bible I'm using (for devo time right now it is the NAS), then I write the psalm down in a notebook in literary form and then color it (like a text study). This morning - when paired with my reading and prayer time in Gen 34 - there was quite a contrast.
Here is my question: Is my life hidden in Christ with God (Col 3) or is my life more representative of the wicked as the psalmist described here and as Shechem is described in Gen 34?
Do I "quote his laws like we are good friends" yet fail to live them out by His grace and through the Holy Spirit each day? Do I "treat his words as garbage"? Do I make sinners my buddies ("thieves and adulterers")? Is "lying a serious art form to me, do I frame it with my tongue"? Am I filled with lust and greed (as Shechem was in Gen 34)?
Or is my life reflective of Jesus? Do I walk by the Holy Spirit so I will not gratify the desires of the flesh? Am I hidden in Christ so others do not see me, but only see the God of the Universe? Every bit of my life needs to reflect the One who died on the cross for me - no part of my life is my own. Soften me - Ez 36 - put within me your Spirit so I may live YOU!
Here are some of Crowder's thoughts: "Praise Living. It is God leaning in and shouting I am the Center! and the sum of our lives nodding back in agreement. It is the core of our hearts echoing that statement." "Higher than our ritual is the simple acknowledgment that, in truth, He is what we need." Yesterday, worshipping at a church in Berea, being able to shout the songs being sung (music much like the Summit - Tommy Walker, Hillsong, hymns uptodate) - raising hands in adoration. But, checking my heart to make sure I was doing that for His glory and not my own. "It is more difficult to find the Creator in a bbq sandwich than in your favorite Sunday morning song, but when you do, when you begin to find Him in all the stuff of life, everything starts singing. Every moment breaks into song. Every breath becomes sacrifice, and the songs become sweetness. That is living praise!" (Ps 150)

Friday, April 18, 2008

Willow Creek: Kimball and McLaren

Which is more important: social justice or eternity? I think Jesus makes that perfectly clear in the gospels: Matthew 6:19-21 - "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
Dan Kimball and Brian McLaren, both leaders of the emerging church movement, both had some thoughts to say about these two subjects: life on earth and eternal life. They both spoke at a conference earlier in April at Willow Creek in Illinois. My quotes are coming from three articles published in the Baptist Press today (4/18/08). I actually agree with Brian McLaren some and agree with Dan Kimball definitely more than Brian. But, some of McLaren's thoughts are absotively against Scripture. Here we go:
"The emphasis Christians place on the traditional Christian doctrines of hell and the second coming of Jesus inhibits believers from living effective lives of services in this world" - BM. This can be contradicted by Matthew 5.14-16.
"The problem isn't the Bible. The problem is modern rings that we put around the Bible. And what we need to do - some of us in our thinking - is to find the courage to snip the ring so that our faith can really have a future." - BM. So, if we believe in the traditional thoughts (Bible is God's infallible Word) - then we need to usurp that authority and step out of the "modern ring" and become God - basically. (hint: sarcasm)
"The doctrine of hell need radical rethinking. People who believe in hell may be inclined to dominate and take advantage of people, rather than help them." - BM. Is he trying to bring up the crusades or the radicals who take the Bible out of context?
"Jesus will return at a future date and forcefully conquer all His enemies also needs rethinking." - BM. Se Matthew 24, 1 Thess 5, and most of Revelation (and other passages in the NT). What exactly does BM mean when he says "rethink"?
I chuckled at this one (again, sarcasm): "The book of Revelation does not actually teach that there will be a new heaven and a new earth, but that a new way of living is possible within the universe if humans will follow Jesus' example." - BM. Its all in how good we are - yeah, that's Biblical. Eph 2.8-10, Rev 20
Here is where I actually agree with McLaren: "humans have turned the quest for prosperity into a religion; repent doesn't mean just feel means you realize that your entire way of seeing things is misguided and wrong; a life of care for ultimately more fulfilling than a life of seeking wealth and security..."
Dan Kimball had this to say at the same conference: "Christians must never focus on conditions in this world so much that they fail to tell people about the eternal life available through Christ." - GO DAN!
An SBCer had this comment: "When McLaren questions the existence of hell and the hope of the second coming - he is a not a 'new kind of Christian'. Such things are neither new nor Christian."

This is what is being taught to some of the youth in our churches. And we wonder what the future of our local churches will be like in a few decades?

"Doing church"

No one can ever tell me that early morning showers don't prove fruitful!
Last night I was having Thai food and pie kitchen with a friend of mine here in L-ville - and as always - one of the topics of conversation was church.
I have been in church my whole life. I was in a small church of 20-30 until 10th grade. Then moved to a huge church of about 2500. Then went to a church of about 400 that grew to 1700 by the time I left. Then was plugged into two churches during my time in NC, one of about 1700, and then one that was about 500 when I went there and grew to over 2000 (and is still growing). I moved to FL and went to a church that is steadily growing with currently over 500. Some of these churches did most things right, some of these church did a few things right. God used each of these churches, though, in my life for a specific period of time.
However, this morning, I was standing in my shower about 4am, and I wondered what the Bible had to say about going to church. Hebrews says "do not let yourselves forsake the gathering together of the brethren" - that's a KJV paraphrase probably. Basically - be plugged into a community of believers: both to get, and to give.
The church worship service is not for unbelievers. At least that is my limited understanding. It is for the building up of believers by the preaching of the Word and the exaltation of the Risen Christ. I think that "what if I go to a church that isn't appealing to unbelievers." Churches seem to be trying so hard to look like the world to appeal to the world - but that isn't what needs to happen. Yes, we need to be welcoming to unbelievers, but not seek to make our church services look like the world so they might come. Church isn't going to be appealing to unbelievers unless the Spirit is already working in their heart. They just aren't - in and of themselves - going to wake up one Sunday morning, and in their sinful hearts, say "I wanna go sing about Jesus". What the church needs to do is:
1. Worship Jesus. That includes everything: music, preaching, teaching, prayer, ordinances, giving, etc. If I'm forgetting anything that is biblical for a fellowship of believers to do - insert here.
2. Strengthen the community of believers by the expository teaching of the Word - both in worship services and in small group settings. Strengthen the families within the church. Two blogs I know about who are helping in this are Lasting Divergence and Two Institutions.
3. Engage the lost during the week, in the community, in their cities, around the world. Some churches do this very well (H4D) and frankly, some churches don't do this very well.
4. The gospel needs to be preached. Not solely "you need Jesus" which is sometimes all that gets said, but actually - you are a sinner, you can't come to Christ by yourself, you need Jesus, you need grace, you need the cross." DONE not DO.
If you want more information on different church models that are out there right now, you can go here to learn some about multi-site movement, here about Sov Grace churches, the Acts 29 Network.
So, these helped me clarify some things morning. God is good - will answer in His time!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Little Things, T4G, and Lyrics

The past week has been one of randomness for me! I have been in new places in KY, down to TN, reading, working, eating out, hanging out with friends, chilling, enjoying the beautiful weather, etc. These have been some thoughts:
1. Col 3. I heard our President's wife quote the entire chapter yesterday at an administrative appreciation lunch. When I realized she was quoting it - it made listening to it better (who knows why?). But, the first part of it, which I do have down, struck me in a new way yesterday. "For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God" - that is verse 3. My life is inside of Christ's - who is in God. I shouldn't even be seen to people - I should crave no thing that Christ wouldn't crave - because I am in Christ. People should see me and see Christ - through what I do, say, look, etc. I no longer exist!
2. John 17. This is what I listened to this morning over breakfast. Verse 3: "And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent." This goes against most people's thoughts on eternal life: happiness, no pain, nirvana, reincarnation, etc. Eternal life isn't primarily about us - it is that we may know God in all of his glory! and know Jesus! Verse 4: "I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do." - Do I in turn glorify Jesus? Do I do the work that He has given me to do? Verse 17: "Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth." - If I am not in the Word on a daily basis - how can I be being sanctified in the truth. Yes, God uses every thing in life to sanctify us - but the primary way is in the TRUE Word of God.
T4G - I am so thankful for YouTube and people like Tim Challies. I can "go to" these conferences for free! I am able to download all the sessions, watch short videos. The only thing I do miss out on is Bob Kauflin's worship leading and free books. But, thanks to Chris I got one that he already had (thanks!) The one thing that I was grateful for was part of Ligon Duncan's message which you can watch a clip of here. I was told this by a friend of mine recently (what Ligon said) and it sorta of went right over my head or seemed unattainable at the time. But now I see it even as more necessary and I'm glad people like Pastor Duncan is preaching it. Some more videos are found by searching sovgracemin on YouTube. Thanks!
Lyrics: In chapel this morning we sang a Sov Grace Hymn called "O Great God" written by Bob Kauflin. I have loved this song ever since I first heard it when the Valley of Vision CD came out a while ago. Here are the lyrics: (the violin was amazing too)
O Great God, of highest heaven, occupy my lowly heart, own it all and reign supreme, conquer every rebel power. Let no vice or sin remain, that resists your holy war. You have loved and purchased me, made me yours forevermore.
I was blinded by my sin. had no ears to hear your voice. Did not know your love within, had no taste for heaven's joys. Then your Spirit gave me life, opened up your word to me. Through the gospel of your Son. gave me endless hope and peace.
Help me now to live a life that's dependent on your grace. Keep my heart and guard my soul, from the evils that I face. You are worthy to be praised with my every thought and deed. O great God of highest heaven, glorify your name through me.
I love the line in that last stanza - keep my heart and guard my soul. I have seen God do that so amazingly over the last few months - in HIS ALL WISDOM AND ALL GOODNESS! Praise be only to Him and He continually guards me and guides me - helps me to see Him for Who He is! Thank you Jesus. So thankful that the Word and the Spirit and things around me have been one theme - glory in Jesus, glorify Jesus, renounce sin, life in Christ, look only to Him.

Packer on Owen's Death of Death

I was told once in seminary that I might have some books on my shelf that I will never read cover to cover. You may just read one chapter of this one, one chapter of another - and that is ok. You don't have to read every word of every book.
My friend Brad suggested that I read an introduction of a book. How often do I just skip over the introductions to most books. I am so glad I finally read this - having started it back in August. It is amazing. Oh, which intro am I talking about?
J I Packer on John Owen's Death of Death in the Death of Christ. You can find the entire thing here.
John Owen was a brilliant theologian in the 1600s. Packer is a brilliant theologian now. One man's writings greatly influenced the other. As CS Lewis says - we usually only read books written by people in our generation - I mean - look at the Christian book section of your nearby superstore or grocery. Its called Chronological Snobbery! Don't fall victim to it! Read outside the 20th century. One of the most difficult books I've read was John Owen's Mortification of Sin.
The main reason I like this work by Packer is because it looks at Calvinism from a standpoint other than the 5 Points. Most people - when you say, I am a Calvinist - get all defensive and say how we never evangelize and we don't do missions and we don't like people. Packer makes a case that Calvinism isn't solely about soteriology - or the work/process of salvation - but it is a worldview that permeates all of life. I mentioned that to a friend the other day. I hope the longer I live, by the grace of God, that people will not have to ask which "camp" I'm in - they will see it in how I live, how I teach the Word (to women), how I think and pray and worship.
Packer looks at two different gospels: new and old.
"The new gospel conspicuously fails to produce deep reverence, deep repentance, deep humility, a spirit of worship, a concern for the church." I see this so often, not only in my own life, but in many many churches (sadly).
"Calvinism is something much broader than the “five points” indicate. Calvinism is a whole world-view, stemming from a clear vision of God as the whole world’s Maker and King. Calvinism is the consistent endeavour to acknowledge the Creator as the Lord, working all things after the counsel of His will. Calvinism is a theocentric way of thinking about all life under the direction and control of God’s own Word. Calvinism, in other words, is the theology of the Bible viewed from the perspective of the Bible—the God-centred outlook which sees the Creator as the source, and means, and end, of everything that is, both in nature and in grace. Calvinism is thus theism (belief in God as the ground of all things), religion (dependence on God as the giver of all things), and evangelicalism (trust in God through Christ for all things), all in their purest and most highly developed form. And Calvinism is a unified philosophy of history which sees the whole diversity of processes and events that take place in God’s world as no more, and no less, than the outworking of His great preordained plan for His creatures and His church. The five points assert no more than that God is sovereign in saving the individual, but Calvinism, as such, is concerned with the much broader assertion that He is sovereign everywhere." I love this! Thanks Packer!
"God saves sinners. God—the Triune Jehovah, Father, Son and Spirit; three Persons working together in sovereign wisdom, power and love to achieve the salvation of a chosen people, the Father electing, the Son fulfilling the Father’s will by redeeming, the Spirit executing the purpose of Father and Son by renewing. Saves—does everything, first to last, that is involved in bringing man from death in sin to life in glory: plans, achieves and communicates redemption, calls and keeps, justifies, sanctifies, glorifies. Sinners—men as God finds them, guilty, vile, helpless, powerless, unable to lift a finger to do God’s will or better their spiritual lot." How amazing is this thought that it is not up me.
The main thought in the book by Owens is preaching against Universal Atonement (vs Limited Atonement). Packer defends "L" by saying that if Christ's work on the cross was for all - and not everyone believed - then his work was ineffective.
"The new gospel, by asserting universal redemption and a universal Divine saving purpose, compels itself to cheapen grace and the Cross by denying that the Father and the Son are sovereign in salvation; for it assures us that, after God and Christ have done all that they can, or will, it depends finally on each man’s own choice whether God’s purpose to save him is realised or not."
And ending thought by Packer: "And to the further question still: how am I to go about believing on Christ and repenting, if I have no natural ability to do these things? it answers: look to Christ, speak to Christ, cry to Christ, just as you are; confess your sin, your impenitence, your unbelief, and cast yourself on His mercy; ask Him to give you a new heart, working in you true repentance and firm faith; ask Him to take away your evil heart of unbelief and to write His law within you, that you may never henceforth stray from Him. Turn to Him and trust Him as best you can, and pray for grace to turn and trust more thoroughly."
Thanks Brad! Any more introductions you would like me to read and then be convicted?

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Hudson Taylor 1

I am doing some reading in Spiritual Secrets - the life of Hudson Taylor - missionary. It is one of the best missionary the same ballpark as Jim Elliot's and Adoniram Judson's. Good stuff - for anyone - not just people who want to be missionaries. But, I find it convicting and compelling. Here is one quote that helped me again view the weekend in light of the hard time of ministry that it was.
"The inconsistencies of Christian people who, while professing to believe the Bible, were yet content to live just as they would if there were no such book, had been one of the strongest arguments of my skeptical companions, and I frequently felt at that time, and said, that if I pretended to believe the Bible I would at any rate attempt to live by it, putting it fairly to the test, and if it failed to prove true and reliable, would throw it overboard altogether. These views I retained when the Lord was pleased to bring me to Himself. And I think I may say that since then I have put God's Word to the test. Certainly it has never failed me. I have never had reason to regret the confidence I have placed in its promises or to deplore following the guidance I have found in its direction."
The Bible is our pattern - our plumb line - we are called to be holy. How do we do that - by living by what it says. I failed in so many ways this weekend - I do every day. Yet - by grace and through compassion - I am called to get up everyday and still seek the face of God and learn of His ways.

Friday, April 04, 2008

2000 and Beyond Me

Well - I have hit the 2000 mark in views. There is no way to tell how accurate this thing is - but hey, I'll take it. I hope some of you have gotten something out of this blog over the past couple of years. I've realized that the blog entries this week have been about me - a pity party for me if you will.
Today as I finish preparing for a DNOW I'm teaching this weekend at a church in Indiana - these are my thoughts pre-weekend: (I like to journal through teaching times - before, during, and after - to see how God uses me for His glory and what He teaches me in the process)
1. I find I often rely on my strengths instead of relying on the Holy Spirit (crafty teaching, skilled teaching, etc)
2. I don't study for these things as much as I used to - is it because I think I know it so I don't have to study certain things as much?
3. Are these girls going to like me? Will they open up to me? I don't know any of these girls - and yes, I am still female - I wonder about acceptance! But, that doesn't change the fact that I bring the Word hard.
4. Who do I say I am? Where is my security? That is one of the questions that is being asked in the 3rd lesson.
5. Why do I let so many fruitless things get in the way of my daily fellowship with Jesus?
6. Where did habitual prayer go to in my life? How is it different then "pray without ceasing"?
7. Why do I not find joy in daily reading of the Word - not just random reading. It is so good when I do - why don't I always?
8. Why does life seem to be about me lately?

Life should not be about me. I hopefully have an opportunity coming up with some kids I know - what a great opp - can't wait! :) The main message in the last lesson is "how is your life hidden in Christ"? Paul's life was no longer about Paul; it was all about Christ. We see this so clearly in Phil. 2.
What would people say about me? Would they clearly see Christ?

Thursday, April 03, 2008


I've been thinking about this word a lot this week (and its been a long drawn out week for me and its not over). Sunday afternoon I'm looking forward to taking a nap - I think?!
Anyway, I love change. Always have. I rearranged my room growing up all the time because it was something new and exciting - even waking up and seeing a different view. We moved into the house my parents still live in when I was 8 months old. The most exciting change ever in my life growing up was a new school year (I love getting the supply list on orientation day) and vacations - which we either took to Vogel State Park in N Ga or to the Suwanee River. I love both of those places. Big change came in my life in high school when I switched churches. But, then that change was over quickly and became pattern again.
The next big change was going off to college - it was only 2 hours away. Then it was moving to NC for seminary - the biggest change of my life up to that point. But even in the tween time - I moved a lot, youth ministry always has a changing schedule, spontaneous is a good word.
Seminary was great because the dorm was always in change - with new people every semester, friends were your friends for that semester, unless you were graced to find ones that lasted all throughout the years. I switched churches 3 times in seminary - never really being satisfied with any of them. After seminary I moved a lot and found a great church, changed jobs, etc.
I also love to travel and go on mission trips and see friends. That brings about an element of change - something to look forward to - to bring excitement.
This last year brought big change as I moved back to FL for a time. Then I was offered a job here in L-ville, a mission trip to NY, a move to an apt, getting lost in a new city.
Now - I'm in a foreseeable future that has no change in it? Yes, I get bored with that. I guess I can move my furniture around - but there aren't many options for that. Maybe that's why I change the books I read so often...Who knows?
But, I have been learning to take one day at a time, rest in today, grace for today, God's got today and tomorrow all planned out - He will let me know when He sees fit.
This I found written by one of my girls from Anastasia - great stuff! She was reflecting on
Psalm 40.8:
So there we have it. Take joy in doing his will. Trust that his instructions and plans are already in place. All we have to do is rest in that and tap into it. No worries about jobs, who we will marry, where we will live, ect. We get to enjoy the journey. That is really exciting if you think about it. So I am talking joy today. I am tapping into peace today and let it rule my heart, which in return rules all around me.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Ps 27

I have gotten in the habit of waking up, getting some breakfast (whether its homemade waffles or pancakes or a bowl of cereal), sitting down in my big over sized chair, and flipping on my iPod player. This morning was no exception. However, when I woke up, I had no desire to get up and face the day - even though the sun was shining in all of its beauty. I just couldn't figure out how today was going to be any different than yesterday? But, grace for today...right?
So, when I sat down, I skipped some songs and got to one and pressed play.
Ps 27 (don't know the name of it) by Hillsong. I just sat amazed at this psalm - which I fell in love with via Chris Gaynor who quoted it often at the Summit.
Such a precious psalm and one that is loved by me!
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When evildoers assail me to eat up my flesh, my adversaries and foes, it is they who stumble and fall. Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident. One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple. For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock. And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me, and I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing and make melody to the Lord. Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud; be gracious to me and answer me! You have said, “Seek my face.”My heart says to you,“Your face, Lord, do I seek.” Hide not your face from me. Turn not your servant away in anger, O you who have been my help. Cast me not off; forsake me not, O God of my salvation! For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me in. Teach me your way, O Lord, and lead me on a level path because of my enemies. Give me not up to the will of my adversaries; for false witnesses have risen against me, and they breathe out violence. I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!
Here's a little bit of commentary - not that it needs any:
Lately I've been doing a lot of listening to myself instead of preaching to myself (go read some Jerry Bridges and CJ Mahaney). It has just been a tough couple of days. But, then listening to this - raising my hands to this - singing it this morning (quietly) as I walked through Norton on the way to work. Wait for the Lord and be strong!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Quips of the Day

I love it how certain things I read or see or hear during the day speaks to me of God's knowledge and plan for my life.
This morning I woke up with the words - "grace for today". My back hurt, I was still tired, the birds were chirping, cars were pulling into the seminary, there was no sun yet. Yet - grace for today. His mercies are new every morning (from yesterday's blog).
Michael Card was in chapel. He sang about the lament psalms. I am afraid that any generation after me will miss out on the Christian songwriters like Card, Keith Green, and Rich Mullins. He taught us a song (old-style) - "Come Lift up Your Sorrows" - and then reading this entry on Justin Taylor's blog from Powlison on quiet times - my quiet times are much too quiet. Praying yesterday aloud with a friend about the harder times we are going through or the questions we have - our God wants to know these. It is ok to voice those.
We sang "Come Thou Fount" which I absolutely love. God is our helper and our victor - He reigns supremely and will get the victory (for all of you wondering what ebenezer means in that hymn). Here are some of the lyrics that drill me every time I hear them (including today):
"Tune my heart to sing thy grace, streams of mercy never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise; How his kindness yet pursues me; o to grace how great a debtor, daily I'm constrained to be; Here's my heart Lord take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above; Oh that day when freed from sinning, I shall see thy lovely face. Come my Lord, no longer tarry, take my ransomed soul away."
Hebrews 2.10-13: For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers, saying, “I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.” And again, “I will put my trust in him.”
"Great is Thy Faithfulness" - we sang our closing hymn acapella led by Michael Card (no organ!) - He could have played it on the piano and that would have been fine, but I love acapella in Alumni Chapel. More lyrics I love:
"Thy compassions they fail not (this means that God will ever love me as He does right now); all I have NEEDED thy hand hath provided; pardon for sin and a PEACE that endureth - thine own dear presence to cheer and to GUIDE, strength for today."
Then I was flipping through the girltalk blog and came across this from a years ago: "Rather than take matters into my own hands, I stepped back and realized that I didn't "need" answers, as some had said. I needed to trust in the Lord." So this is where I stand: grace for today, louder quiet times, trust in a God who provides all my needs in HIM, seeking His face and not His hand, and did I mention trusting HIM!