Thursday, December 31, 2009

First Decade of the New Millenia (Recap)

I don't know if you are one of those people who think 2010 is the beginning of a new decade or that last of the old...nor do I really care (because who really is right?)...
Anyway...I wanted to give you a quick(maybe) recap of the last decade of my life. God has been extremely gracious to me - through trials, blessings, and many moves. Here we go:
1. Started off the year in the world's best beach city. Finishing up being on staff for 2 years at Anastasia Baptist Church. I loved this place, and could have stayed forever - but then the rest of this post would be non-existent. I left shortly after the new year and turning 23 to go to Wake Forest, NC. Leaving mentors, friends, home, Florida sunshine.
2. That first semester was rough: family struggles, weight struggles, new place, new state. I loved seminary and started even then to form crucial relationships. I worked that summer at Centrifuge at Union University (still friends with some people I worked with) and knowing how small of a world it is. I currently work with a guy who is the President's son of Union University, who was a teenager then when the Fuge staff went to their house for a bbq. Fun!
3. Rest of seminary: working my way up through the ranks. I worked keeping score for the intramural football and basketball. Key relationships: the Whites, Ashfords and Greaars, the Hiltons, and Jr. Loved it. Then I worked in the mail room, gym, a VPs office, then another VPs office for a f/t job. I was on student leadership team where I hung out with great guys and got to meet John Piper for the first time. I sang with some great girls and still have a friendship with them. I loved my classes: Nelson, Coley, Reid, Little, Schemm - just some of my faves. Graduated. Had a job at the seminary. Good stuff.
3. Didn't like that job very much...too monotonous, though I worked with some great people. So, the last day of that job, a dude called me from the Summit offering me a p/t job. Didn't pay much, but it was a job. I took it. Then I took another p/t job - my first yeat at Williams-Sonoma, continuing my love affair with cooking.
4. The next two years were hard in the money earning world - but phenomenal in the ministry years. I started going to the Summit in Durham and worked in the college ministry mostly. I had some amazing girls who are still very much a part of my life today. LOVED IT.
4b. Relationships: life is hard with them and hard without them. But, I need to read Tripp's book Relationships: a Mess Worth Making. I have dated a few guys since 2000. First one was confusing, second wasn't healthy at all, third was long and drawn out and very hard, 2 one-daters were not worth making it a 2nd (just because I knew I wasn't going to marry them), and the last was a distance thing and was not worth pursuing anymore. I prayed to God at the end of the long drawn out one that I wouldn't date another guy (seriously) unless He was the one I was to marry. God has faithfully answered that prayer. I have had 3 dates since 2002. That is entirely painful too - for a single woman of almost 33. But, I love the faithfulness and nearness of God.
5. At the end of my time in Durham, I had lost all the weight again, had emergency gallbladder surgery, major mouth work done, and was moving back home to work on finances. Two years of hardly making any money will take its toll on the credit. But, God was gracious even in that.
6. 6 months after being home in Lakeland...I got a call from the President of CBMW and he was offering me a job. 10 days later I moved to a city I had only been to once and knew only 2 families who lived here. The last 2.5 years of my life have been amazing times of friendship and growth for me. The thing I have learned most is that the body of Christ is bigger than the 4 walls of the church. My friends in Raleigh and St. Augustine still have such a major influence in my life and I am thankful for them. I am thankful for the profs and co-workers I have at SBTS.
7. Missions and Ministry: I have spoken for many women's events throughout many states as God has provided those opportunities, and I look forward to doing more in the future. I have worked youth camps and disciple nows. I have been on 5 mission trips: 2 to NYC, Alaska, Thailand, and Indonesia. Amazing times in my life.
8. 2010 will start off a new decade and soon will be a new era in my life. I am looking so forward to the changes that 2010 will bring. All with this in mind: God is still God and He remains the same.
Blessings to you in 2010. Goals are coming tomorrow for the New Year.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

ApParent Privilege - Steve Wright

Whenever do I cry during a flight? When I am reading a book by Steve Wright - ok, this book by Steve Wright.
Over the last 2 1/2 years I've gotten to know Steve and his wife, Tina, who minister at Providence Baptist Church in Raleigh, North Carolina. He came and taught one of my youth ministry classes during my time at Seminary, but I'd never gotten to know him and his family and ministry.
This book is good on its own. My boss has it on his reading list for his class at Southern. Another one of our profs uses it as well.
But, this book gets better when you know the person who wrote it. When you know they live out the joys, sorrows, prayers, worship, ministry, heart of this book. That is what makes it so good. So, yes...I cried, laughed (aloud on a flight), prayed, longed for, remembered times that I didn't have growing up. So, must read? Yes. Right up there with Instructing a Child's Heart.
Here are some of my fave quotes - hopefully I'll get the opportunity to use them one day. (I think this book actually made me want to be a parent...)
"You have an apparent privilege, the most exciting of you life, right in front of you - to be a touch of grace on your children's souls." (17)
"If the cross of Christ is the center of history, then it must also be the center of our lives as well as the center of our communication with our children." (29)
"We must continually show our children what it means to be a biblical woman and a biblical man." (40)
'God gave parents the primary discipleship role." (54) - Did I mention this guy is a youth minister at a church? He is not thinking he is going to lose his job with this statement.
"We must take hold of the privilege to share a theology of family with our children. They need to hear from us first because they are already hearing from so many others." (59)
"Biblical parenting is more than keeping our kids from having sex, using drugs, or going to jail. It is fostering an awe of God in our children." (62)
"Yes, we are recipients of the limitless blessings of marriage, but marriage isn't primarily about us. Christian marriages point to God and therefore must be protected and valued." (66)
"We must understand a healthy marriage is the foundation of healthy parenting that enables God's glory to be seen by our children and others." (68)
"Your parenting affects more than your child's here and now. It affects generations to come and their eternity." (94) My boss spoke on this topic at Wright's conference, ReThink 2009. I remember him saying that we don't parent and do ministry just for our children, but for our children's children, and their children, and their children. Think future. Think eternity.
This next statement came just for me: it was very clear that this paragraph was written just for me: "The responsibility to teach our children the incredible truths of God may seem overwhelming, but the Bride of Christ is there to help. She will teach you how to teach. She will train you how to train. You cannot do it alone." (109) This was one of the cry points in this book for me.
Steve does a great job of pulling together many statistics from youth ministry, Scriptural support for all of his points. He does the research for you (as well as in his other book, ReThink).
So, here is a good ending point. Go buy this book. If you are a parent, go get it. If you know someone having a baby - get it for them. Buy the youth pastor at your church this book. Tell him to read it. Just read it. Then live it and practice it. By God's grace and for His glory. For eternity.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Gospel-Powered Parenting - William Farley

This book came across my Google Reader, and I immediately passed it along to my boss, one of my profs I work for, and a youth pastor. This was right up their alley. I was asked to order 10 copies within the week.
I finally was able to sit down and finish this book. An easy read, not too hard, not too long (225). Though not stated, this book, I would have to say, is written to men. If you keep that in mind, this book will pose little problem to you. If you are a woman (mother, wife) you may feel a little slighted. Farley does a great job addressing the need for Fathers to step up and be fathers - but sometimes at the neglect or dismissal of the mothers. (That is just how I felt reading some of his words, others may not feel that way at all).
Anyway, again, since I'm not a parent, I won't make much comment, but hopefully you can learn and maybe even pick this book up to read yourselves, or give to parents you know.
"We are absolutely dependent on God's Spirit to complete the parenting process." (19)
"We (parents) are responsible to reach our children for Christ." (21) This as opposed to what many parents would say: the school or the church is responsible.
"Either we can focus on preparing our children to enter the world and conquer it, or we can concentrate on protecting our children from the world." (23)
"Most Christian parents assume that church attendance or youth group involvement equates to new birth." (28)
"Effective Christian parents aim at their children's hearts rather than their behavior." (43)
"We parent out of our theology. Everyone, Christian and non-Christian, has a theology - an idea of who God is and who we are by contrast. Some are accurate. Some are not." (71). This can go for everything - its called a worldview.
"Marriage-centered, not child-centered moms, usually exert the greatest influence on their children for Christ and his kingdom." (113)
"Those who meditate on the message of the cross strive for holiness. Their efforts only make them more aware of their failings. This causes them to run to the cross for forgiveness more frequently. It causes them to need the cross more desparately. All of this happens because they feel the weight of their sins more biblically. It culminates in the peace of biblical humility." (121)
"We should encourage women to promote biblical masculinity." (135)
"A woman can also encourage masculinity by respecting her husband, especially in front of her children." (140). I see this often on facebook. Now, true, most children are not on fb because of the age limitations, but what is said on fb is often said in person or on the phone talking to a girlfriend, etc. Wives will cut down, or belittle their husbands, or speak of his incompetence, etc. Children pick up on this. This causes them to lose respect for one or both of the parents. It is difficult to regain.
"The gospel should be at the heart of all attempts to discipline children. It motivates our discipline and it becomes the end of effective Christian discipline." (147) - Probably my favorite quote of the book.
"We have not learned to be thankful for our children, despite their problems. We think we deserve better. We are ungrateful. A lack of gratitude always points to pride. We deserve crucifixion. We don't deserve obedient, easy children." (213) - Second favorite quote of the book.
"What wonderful news! God uses the imperfect efforts of gospel-centered parents to do his deep and abiding work in our children. In the meantime, the gospel frees us from the burden of perfection." (219). Ends it with the gospel - which is where he stays most of the time.

Now - how to teach this, promote this, equip parents in this, live this out - without being a parent. That is the task.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Instructing a Child's Heart - Tedd Tripp

The next three months I'll be doing a lot of reading, and I'm glad. 2010 holds a new structure in my reading (but more on that on Jan 1). I cranked this book out in 5 days - mostly last night while working a desk job for 8 hours (after my normal job). I used a lot of red ink in this book: Instructing a Child's Heart. It was good from the get-go. Tedd and Margy Tripp - (brother to Paul David Tripp who is one of my fave author's) wrote a parenting book. Now you may be asking yourself why I'm reading a parenting book - no, I'm not a parent. But, as a gave a shout out on FB - this book is crucial for anyone who knows kids, works with kids, is a parent, wants to be a parent (and by kid I'm meaning B-12th grade).
Here are some of the quotes that I really enjoyed. And, I just want to give you some thoughts to think about - I'm not putting much of my 2 cents worth here. Definitely go get the book - you'll be glad you did!
"In the absence of biblical formative instruction, secular formative instructors take over." (15)
"Formative instruction must be rooted in Scripture." (19)
"The most effective way to teach our children to love the Scripture is to love it ourselves. They will see us longing to read it, hear it, and understand it, and learn that it is valuable." (21)
"We must show our children the vital connection between the powerful story of redemption in the Scriptures and their daily experience." (27) This is why I'm glad I go to Sojourn here in Louisville. I love how the pastors bring every sermon back to the gospel. It has given me a framework to see all of Scripture in light of Jesus and his finished work on the Cross.
"The primary place for children to receive formative instruction is in the home. ______ cannot replace the family. The home is the place where we present a culture that is distinctively Christian." (35)
"Our hope is that the gospel will be the power of God to salvation in their lives as it has been in ours." (43) - See Romans 1.16
"We devote a great deal of time to the outer man, but God is concerned with the heart. Our children will never interpret life correctly until they understand that it is the heart that directs all of life." (53)
"Manipulation of behavior through rewards and punishments will never touch the stony heart." (59)
"Since God is concerned with our hearts as the source of our behavior, it follows that heart change is our most important concern as we instruct and discipline our children, encouraging them to live consistently with God's law." (64)
"We reap in habits for life." (74) - This was valuable to me in all areas of life right now, but especially as we come upon a new year in a few weeks.
"Behaviorism may be popular - it may even work, but it obscures the gospel." (77)
"We are fashioned for the fascination his glory evokes." (94)
"Think of harmless hobbies in which children will invest vast amounts of time. Think of the daydreams that provide excitement to a heart that is not finding true and lasting pleasures in knowing God." (97)
"Sadly, many youth ministries pander to the appetites in young people for the banality of the youth culture. Young people are idealistic and yearning for something grand and glorious that is worth living for." (108)

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Raisin Cakes

At first glance of the title, some of you are probably thinking I have the wrong blog. Raisin cakes - isn't that something you eat (like those little debbie oatmeal raisin cream pies - my fave)? Well, not these raisin cakes (for me).
Raisin cakes were cakes given to the gods of the lands in the Old Testament. In Hosea, the Lord tells Hosea to love Gomer - even though she'll turn away and be like those who love other gods and raisin cakes.
So, it got me thinking: what is my raisin cake? What am I willing to love more than God? Ok - maybe not literally, but practically speaking...What do I love more than God, the Lover of my soul and the Healer of my faithlessness?
This goes hand in hand with the verse from yesterday. Love those moments in the shower when the Spirit speaks something so clear - almost like He was talking audibly to me. This was one of those moments.
Colossians 3.4 - "When Christ, who is your life appears, then you will also appear with him in glory."
Basically - the first part - when Christ, who is YOUR LIFE. Christ - my life? Does my life resemble that?
What would people say I'm about? Florida football (when or lose), cooking, baking, exercising, weight loss, Mentalist and Simon Baker, North Carolina, beaches? I mean - isn't that what most people think I am about?
Make note that CHRIST is my LIFE. There is more to life than football games, cooking, burning cookies (or sweet potatoes like I did today), or traveling, or March Madness.
Christ is more important than sappy seminary relationships - or the lack thereof. (I'm currently listening to one dude who can't shutup about his girlfriends cooking and is sounding just ridiculous. Man, does he know how pathetic he sounds. "God could send a million punchbuggies during this meal and I wouldn't punch you one time, this meal is so good." (bleh) The girl is like just eat already. How many times can you say "its awesome" - 20? Ok, minor detour. Did he just say "your stomach is precious" - really? Some of you will know what I'm talking about, some of you be glad you don't).
All this blog is to say is maybe take some time to reevaluate your life - what is your life? Would people see Christ as the most important thing in your life and would how you think, what you say, what you do during your day, spend your money - reflect an accurate answer? A couple of good books to read for this topic would be: Redeeming Love and Counterfeit Gods.
Thankful to the Word and the Spirit

Thursday, December 03, 2009

The Faithfulness of God over a Plate of Wimpy Spinach

Earlier tonight, I wrote this post over at the Food Blog. Pretty depressing I know.
But, thankful to my Community Group from my church, I got to hear a replay of the OT - and I started writing.
Sojourn has been going through the OT on Sundays - and we are quickly coming to an end. It has been great to see and hear every week what God has been up to and see how it all points to Christ and the Gospel!
Today, I was listening to a sermon by David Michael, who is one of the pastors at Bethlehem in Minneapolis - he said they want to point children to God, not morality that is found, not the bravery and courage of Esther, or the strength of David - but the God who led them, who made them, etc.
Tonight, as I heard people go around and talk about each book of the OT - I was reminded of the faithfulness of God. Whenever I am:
- depressed because it is cold and dark outside
- sinful and not faithful to living out the Word
- listening to my emotions and not trusting in the unchanging Word of God
- focusing on other things other than Christ for my identity
- lonely
- focusing on what I don't have rather than all the abundant things I do have
- eating just to eat
- not preaching the Gospel to myself - yet I am listening to myself
- doing so many other things and not reading the Word
- tired and all I want to do is curl up in a ball and go to sleep...

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 quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

As one of the dudes in my CG prayed right before hand: "Thank you for your patience and your work in me." And for that - it makes up for a lonely dinner. God is so much bigger than a wimpy plate of spinach topped with ketchup!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

God-sized Life

I have been living in and breathing in God's goodness the past month. God has proven Himself faithful in so many ways. I am excited beyond anything, feeling great, need to be living more by the Word. Here are just a few things I am learning: read on. I hope you are encouraged!

1. Deut 8.1-20. This has been a sweet and convicting passage in my life for about 2 months now. I write it out, journal about it, read over it over and over. Never without a convicting statement to pierce my hardness of heart. I am to be CAREFUL to do all the commans. I am to REMEMBER what the Lord has done for me. I am to TRUST that God is going to be good to me. I am to NOT FORGET God in the midst of this goodness. I have seen God do every bit of this chapter in my life in the last almost 3 years. I look forward to the remembering, dwelling in, not forgetting, and the hope and freedom of the future.
2. James 3.8-18. This past Sunday I was visiting a friend of mine and her family in Paintsville, KY. Anytime I get around good friends who I can be real with, I often tend to think I am complaining a lot because I voice those concerns in my life and talk about my opinions about certain things. I woke up on Sunday morning feeling very guilty of the things that had come out of my mouth: too much negativity - not enough gratitude and praise. My mind went straight for this passage. I love it - one that is very hard to do as well. I also focused on repentance and Romans 8.1. First - taming the tongue is a SPIRIT thing. No human being can do it. I need to live every moment in the Spirit so He can work that in my life and through my speech. I want to have "meekness of wisdom" define my life. Also, at this church was a sweet "mother mentor". From the time she opened her mouth I saw the beauty of Christ - the sweet aroma, wonderful fragrance. Wow! God is so good in her life. I hope I get the chance to know her more in the coming years. I want my life to also be characterized by James 3.17-18 - peaceable, pure, righteous (only through Christ).
3. He has been Jehovah-Jireh to me in the last month or so, especially. Providing extra jobs to take money off my rent, to provide friends who come along at the very right moment, providing ministry opportunities in the area of fitness and weight loss, to provide people in my life to calm me and speak in to my life when I need a good Word, for providing family. Psalm 34.8 says "taste and see that God is good." I know that full well. Also, one of my fave verses in the NT is Romans 8.32 - If God gave us Jesus, how will we think he will withhold other things - graciously giving us all things. As John Newton once said (I think) - We don't need anything that God withholds, and everything He gives, we need.
4. John 10.10. Oh, the abundant life. I don't have anything more materialistically than I have had before - probably less actually. But, God has been so good and faithful and perservering in my life that it has truly made me stop and see that I have an ABUNDANT LIFE!
5. And in that abundance - I want to live a John 15.16 life - a verse that I pulled from Steve Wright's book Re:Think - I want my life to bear fruit - not for me - but for God's glory and fame. Not just in teaching or work, but in every facet of life. I am so far from that - but praising God this morning for continued sanctification in my life through the work of the Word and the Holy Spirit!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Choosing Gratitude Part 2

Honestly, the reason this blog follow-up has taken so long from the previous one, is because this book got tucked away in a bag and I just now found it.
Well, here are some quotes from the newly released Nancy Leigh Demoss book, Choosing Gratitude. I have definitely loved and benefited from this book and already recommended it to many ladies. One random benefit is if I wake up in the middle of the night or am having trouble falling asleep - I choose to be thankful and start listing things in my head. Good way to fall asleep.
"I've seen that if I'm not ceaselessly vigilant about rejecting ingratitude and choosing gratitude, I all-too-easily get sucked into the undertow of life in a fallen world. I start focusing on what I don't have that I want, or what I want that I don't have. My life starts to feel hard, wearisome, and overwhelming." (p. 16)
"Its a choice that requires constantly renewing my mind with the truth of God's Word, setting my heart to savor God and his gifts, and disciplining my tongue to speak words that reflect His goodness and grace - until a grateful spirit becomes my reflexive response to all of life." (p 17)
I love her word choice of "choosing". We can choose what we want to do. We can either live a joyful hectic life or we can choose to live a bitter life. Take our pick. So often its our outlook on life that makes all the difference in the world.
She starts with a look at the base of our gratitude: the cross. Our only hope in this life of being grateful is the cross of Christ. She then presses us to be grateful and honoring of Christ to others:
"Forgive me for the many times and ways I reflect negatively on Your character and Your goodness, by verbalizing discontent and murmuring to others." (p 58).
I think about this now. Do I cause You grief to others - do others get a wrong picture of Christ because of what comes out of my mouth? Think about it. You interact with non-Christians throughout every day: whether its the checkout lady at Walmart, the bank teller, co-worker, neighbor. If its raining out and your neighbor says something negatively - you can either react negatively back or you can "I thank God for the rain, it makes everything shiny" or something about the full parking lot at the new Target or the mall during Christmas time. They can comment on how hectic it is and you can say, "its providing good business for the stores and I was able to get extra walking in because of having to park way out." Just think of little ways you can choose to be grateful.
"Gratitude does become a reliable measure for where our hearts are with Him." (p 69). I know if I am bitter and critical - I haven't spent much time in the Word or praying because my heart becomes very much like the world. Turn. Stop. Be grateful. Repent. Praise.
She has a saying in here that her dad used to say "I'm better than I deserve!" when people asked him how he was. A friend of mine that I worked with in seminary, Bryan, used to say this too. It was contagious. Everytime he said it it brought me back to thinking of my salvation and the grace that God graciously bestowed on me because of His good favor and kindness.
"Grateful people are loving people who seek to bless others, while ungrateful people are bent on gratifying themselves." (p. 84) Another great test of motivation and purpose.
Dt 8.11-14 - such powerful verses! Meditate on these!
"The guilt-to-grace-to-gratitude model we talked about earlier is not only keeping with a biblical theology and lifestyle, it is crucial to our joy." (p. 147) I'm reminded of John Piper's book When I Don't Desire God.
"I believe that a humble, grateful woman who walks in community with other believers will become increasingly gracious, warm, large-hearted, and yes, beautiful - inside and out." (p. 155) I am thankful for women in my life who live this truth and choice out every day. You can tell a difference in their lives and attitudes, jobs and marriages, and families. I love being around them. Thank you ladies for being a witness and life model!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Gratitude Part 1

I just finished Nancy Leigh Demoss' newest book, Choosing Gratitude. My thoughts on that book will be part 2 of the Gratitude blogs. (I'm very thankful that it was a free book - thank you!)
This weekend has just been grand. I have thoroughly enjoyed it. I wanted to share with you (whoever you are) some of the blessings that God has poured out on my life this wknd.

1. Work on Friday night. I work in the housing office to get some money taken off my rent each month. This easy, do-nothing job has been great. And it has given me opp to see some Boyce girls and buid a better relationship with them.
2. Whole Foods - I've gotten to go twice this weekend. What a great place. I'm not rich enough to buy all my groceries there, but I do buy a few things there each week.
3. Fall weather. This is one thing that I like better in both KY and NC rather than FL. I like waking up on crisp fall mornings. Then, I am ready for Spring. Yes - I'm fickle!
4. Apple Picking with a sweet friend. It worked out very well to only have one lady be able to go apple picking. One of the joys of being at Crossing last year was to meet Ben and Cynthia - Cynthia is wonderful (Ben too). She juiced all these great fruits and veggies to go along with the pumpking muffins I brought for our breakfast. She is an encouragement to me, and pushed me for the sake of the gospel. And we just had FUN!

5. Cooking. God has given me talent and enjoyment in this - and having fun stuff to bake and cook for others is such a pleasure to me.
6. Football and friends. I love FLORIDA football. And I love my friends, Brad and Lindsay Weldy. We have moved 3 states together. They have 3 of the most darling kids. I got to hang out with them last night while they had a date. I loved on the baby, then watched football in HD. What a blessing. They are amazing friends - ones I can be completely honest with and let down my guard around, one who encourage me, ones who love me, ones who let me love on their kids, ones who display the gospel boldly in the lives and home and marriage. They are the biggest blessing in this city to me.

7. Down Comforter. When my brother and sister in law moved to Africa, I got their down comforter. I love it. It is so warm and comfy and weighted. I love to snuggle under it. Unfortunately - I didn't get enough time under it last night.
8. Serving Communion. Communion in and of itself is amazing. But, serving it is a joy as well. Sojourn is a fairly big church, and I definitely don't know tons of people. This morning, the quote from Princess Bride came to my mind before I served "Love her, as I love her, and there will be peace" - from Prince Humperdink announcing his choice of a bride. I got to serve a faculty member and his family, a friend who does everything at Sojourn including waving the magic parking wand, a dude from the Summit whose birthday is today, a new friend from the seminary. The wonderful thing is - folks looking you in the eye when you say "the Body of Christ, broken for you", claiming it, accepting it, and voicing it back to you. Behold, the family of Christ!

9. Beautiful weather. It was cool and clear and sunny today in Louisville. So, I got my camera out and sauntered down Frankfort Avenue - snapping pictures, and just enjoying the weather.

10. Friend for a good lunch. I love friends. One of my dearest ones here, again from Crossing, is Sarah. Sarah has been a fantastic friend, we go to lunch about once a month, and text encouraging things to each other. We share prayer requests, and the joys that God has in our lives. And we ate at a new fave of mine in the Ville - North End Cafe (locally grown, great food, warm fun atmosphere - perfect for sitting for 2 hours for a relaxing lunch).

11. Fresh baked bread. A friend who give me a bagel recipe - and then smelling the yeast as it rises and then baking it off.

12. A laptop with a strong battery. I love my little Samsung portable Netbook. Its great. I carry it like a book - and it is perfect to use while sitting in Mullins checking ID. (Thanks Dad!)
Learn to be grateful in and for all things. Voice these praises! Ok - more from NLD later this week.
So, even though I am praying about many things: future, relationships, control issues, - God is so good.
"I will bless the Lord at all times - His praise will continuously be in my mouth." - Ps 34.1 (again, I am thankful for Chris Gaynor who got that verse drilled into my head at the Summit.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Cast Net Fishing Prayers

A few weeks ago I traveled to the beautiful part of Western North Carolina for a prayer retreat. Many things are happening with family, friends, personal, etc and hearing Mary Kassian definitely was a highlight (as well as just being in North Carolina).
My brother is a fantastic writer. I love how he writes about another good state, Florida. I know he loves to fish with my grandfather, so I asked him to write a little blurb about cast net fishing. You'll soon see how the two tie together:
Cast netting is an art form from making it, to throwing it, to eating the treasures that lie underneath. My grandpa and his fishing buddies taught me this art form. It wasn’t easy, but I was motivated to learn it because it was one of those traditions that unless my generation learns it will be gone forever.
Making a cast net is hard work. There’s no other way to put it. Your fingers cramp. Your back aches from hunching over the linen net. You mind wanders causing you to screw up a knot and then have to either cut it out or spend the next 30 minutes untangling the knot. It is tedious. But once you are finished a sense of satisfaction follows because now, as a fellow cast netter said, you’ll be able to put food on the table if the need arises.
Throwing a cast net is something beautiful to behold. I’ll be the first to say that I’m not the best at it. Others that go on mullet fishing trips have such a fluid motion that they look akin to a grungy camouflaged Brad Pitt in A River Runs Through It—which in our case should be A Back Bay Runs Through It. The nets sings off their shoulder, down their scrawny forearms, through their sinewy fingers, and onto the salt water in the likeness of making pizza dough.
Once the net hits the water the weights drag it to the bottom covering what you hope is a few black mullet. And you’ll know right quick if they are under there, because they’ll begin jumping just like they do without a net over them. From here, goodness and excitement seep into your bones like a warm Florida night. You gently kneel in the water grabbing each mullet with your cramped hands, and break their neck so as to drain the blood hereby preserving the meat and preventing it from getting a strong odor. Once you’ve done that to all the mullet under the net, you’ll place them on a stringer that is hopefully getting full.

Although the mullet are still now, your stomach is jumping knowing that soon and very soon you’ll taste their scrumptious meat after a long day of mullet hunting.
Cast net fishing for mullet is much like prayer. And the weights and burdens. Here are the similarities:
1. Its hard work. It is a discipline. My fmr pastor, J. D. Greear, always says that no one brags about their prayer life - but if you really wanna know how someone is doing spiritually - ask them about it. I know a couple good "pray-ers" in my life - and they have been a blessing to me - but they also know it is hard work.
2. Prayer is a weighty thing. This is where I camped out for a while. The weights and burdens I carry are heavy - not as heavy as some, but these things are important to me and to my family and friends. Hymns of old speak of this:
Leave it there, leave it there,
Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there.
If you trust and never doubt, He will surely bring you out.
Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there.
Scripture speaks of this: Ps 55.22a:
Cast your burden on the Lord,and he will sustain you.

3. Prayer is an exciting thing. I remember well the thrill of catching fish. I also remember well the thrill when God answers prayers in such dynamic ways. Yes, of course, I like it better (at the time) when God answers the way I see fit - but how much better it is in the long wrong when He answers as He sees fit.
4. Prayer is a continual thing. I remember when my Papa and his friends would bring home tons of mullet to smoke. Those mullet didn't come from one casting. They came from casting after casting after casting. What rang true with me that wknd at the prayer conference is that God does not grow weary of my asking. He will never tire of me coming to him with my requests. He doesn't think it too large of a thing for him to manage: my cares, burdens, and weights.
I do not pray like I should. I have tried to be more Ps 34.1 in my prayers lately. Even driving across town this morning - the sky dark from looming storm clouds at 7:30am - just voicing praise that the skies declare His praise.
I wish I prayed more - but that requires hard work. And when I don't see answers (I've been praying some prayers for over 10 years now and still have gotten a "no"), I grow weary or just stop altogether.
Right now, I'm praying specifically for 3 personal matters, 1 family matter, and 1 friend matter. Those are the big things - then there is the daily stuff.
I am so thankful that my God is so much bigger than me, stronger than any net to catch mullet in, and that He never grows tired of hearing (or reading) my prayers.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Bible and Yogurt (Guest Post)

This is a guest post by one of my wonderful girls (and friends) from UNC. Meredith is great - artistic, loving, creative, real. I do miss her. Maybe since her family now lives in the same city as me, I will get to see her more and maybe enjoy a breakfast or two together! I do have some pictures of us together, but I think this picture captured of who Meredith is: her love of cold weather (she used to live in CO), her love of outdoors, and her fun hair that I've always loved!
I hope that those of you reading this will be encouraged tonight. For me, this evening was one of those times when I was so tired from my day that after reading chapter 1 of Ephesians, I couldn't even remember what I had read.
I am a perfectionist, and therefore, I expect my devotions to be perfect; meaning I will have life-altering mountaintop revelational moments daily. But then I have nights like tonight, when I don't feel anything except how my eyelids are trying to close.
I was brushing my teeth feeling discouraged (that's one feeling I know well as a perfectionist!), when I remembered Hebrews 4:12 - "the word of God is living and active."
And here is where yogurt comes in. Yes, this is an analogy comparing the Bible to yogurt. As weird as it sounds, though, God has truly encouraged me with this! You know how you can buy yogurt with "live active yogurt cultures" in it? Well, often when I'm eating yogurt in which there are actually living organisms such as Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus, I think about how these little organisms are running around inside me, doing good stuff that I can't feel!
I think it's the same with God's word; regardless of what we feel, His Word is living in us; it is at work. Reading the Bible is analagous to ingesting live active yogurt cultures in a sense; perhaps it seems as mundane as eating Yoplait one day, or even most days. Perhaps it seems we haven't achieved anything meaningful in our devotions. But we have - Hebrews 4:12 tells us we have.
I trust the seal of the National Yogurt Association that tells me Lacto and Strepto are diddling around in my tummy. (Did you even know there was such a thing as the National Yogurt Association!?) So, do I trust that I have been sealed by the Holy Spirit and that this seal assures me Christ will complete the work he started in me? And He will do this regardless of how "well" I read my Bible tonight. He will do this regardless of and because of the physical and mental limitations of being a human.
I'm going to bed encouraged tonight, and I hope that you are, too, especially if you share this frustration. And in closing, the major flaw in my analogy is that yogurt cultures are potentially beneficial, but the word of God always is.

Thank you Meredith. Enjoy your live active cultures!

Every Wind of Infatuation

The title of this came from a blurb I heard in chapel this morning. Don't worry - I'm not a poet, this just got jotted down on paper:

Soul wanders.
Soul wonders.
Searching stars.
Searching cravings.
Static haunts.
Static joys.
Seeking direction.
Seeking meaning.

Soul found.
Soul happy.
Searching long.
Searching eternity.
Surrendered heart.
Surrendered calling.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Left and Right of Feminine Style/Dress/Modesty

InStyle. What Not To Wear. Ann Taylor Loft. The Devil Wears Prada. The Bible.
Most women would recognize the first four as beacons for the world of fashion. What about the last? Shouldn't the Bible be our first place to go for answers on what we can wear and how we should dress as Christian women?
Many years ago now I was given a sermon by my then pastor's wife on "The Soul of Modesty" by Sovereign Grace pastor CJ Mahaney. I always thought I dressed modestly - but before I pulled out of the church parking lot, the Spirit used that sermon to convict of so much more than hems and necklines. That day started a work in my heart that God is continuing even till today - more than 5 years later.
This post isn't so much about lists of what we can and should not wear. It is more about our heart and seeing some of the ways the culture and its bent toward feminism has altered our view on modesty. Recently, I attended a women's conference. There were women dressed in skirts and tees - there were also woman dressed in dockers and plain shirts. Some had their hair done and makeup on and matching purses and some didn't have any makeup on and wore worn-out tennis shoes. Trust me, I love days when I don't have to put on makeup and I can stay at home in exercise clothes - but that does nothing for my sense of femininity and I rarely go out in public like this (anymore).
So, here is where the title of this blog post comes in. I had a brief chat with a wise woman about this topic and my concerns. The first thing she pointed me to was Isaiah 30 where God whispers to His children "this is the way, walk in it". The Lord is chastising His unfaithful children who live their lives without consulting Him or His laws, how they make plans without seeking His face, how they longed to stay in slavery to self and worthless idols. Then, He offers hope - that if they would just return to Him, to His Word, to His Commands, they would know his directions. With every step - whether to the left or the right - they would know his direction.
Scripture gives us Biblical guidelines for our daily lives. We don't need to wonder about anything - we have everything we need in order to live Biblical lives. This goes for fashion and our wardrobe too. There is a left and right (extremes) in this due to the sin in our hearts. Let us strive to live "this is the way, walk in it".
Here are two of the extremes:
1. Not wanting to dress/present ourselves as femininely. Women blame this on place of residence (in the country), personality, lack of money or interest. In reading Carolyn McCulley's newest book Radical Womanhood: Feminine Faith in a Feminist World, I came across this excerpt from The Goddess Within by Woolger and Woolger:
"Despite her strength, brilliance, and independence, there is a paradox contained in the traditional image of a maid clad in armor. It seems to us that the more energy the Athena woman puts into developing her successful, worldly, armored self, the more she hides her maidenly vulnerability. So, with her androgyny, Athena conceals a conflict, an unresolved tension between her tough outer self and her hidden, unexpressed self that can be a source of great insecurity with regard to her finding an integral feminine identity. We call it Athena's wound."
This may be one of our culture's problems. We want to be so equal to men that we are unwilling to dress femininely. God didn't create us to be androgynous. He created us FEMALE! Live in it - accept it - love it. Its hard for me to even wear business suits to work because they look very manly - even if I wear a pink shirt and heels with it.
We are given a great, godly example of this in Scripture - Queen Esther. She spent 7 days in preparation - a full week at a spa! Makeup, dress, oils, lotions. Now, I'm not suggesting we spend hours on our look every day - but 30 minutes to get dressed, do our hair (in front of a mirror), put on makeup (not while driving) isn't bad.
2. On the complete opposite end of the spectrum is the woman who cares too much about what she wears. Recently, I was loaned a copy of the latest issue of InStyle magazine. I enjoyed looking at all the latest styles, but I don't have $300 to spend on a purse of $900 on a pair of shoes. Some of sin by going into debt to buy these things or by attaching ourselves unhealthily to things of this world. Maybe we spend more time looking in the mirror getting ready for our day than we spend in the Word of God. Or we tend to get judgmental of others - basing our thoughts of them solely on what they are wearing. Are we too proud to shop at thrift and discount stores or clearance racks? One word of caution in Scripture comes from the preacher in Ecclesiastes chapter 2. He learns after all his striving that "all was vanity and a striving after wind".
So, if we are "to walk in this way" - according to Scripture. What does it say on this topic?
1. Proverbs 31.30. A profound verse. Our hopes are not in what we look like - they are only found in God. We may think this and "believe it" but until this comes out in our actions and in our hearts - it is just lip service.
2. 1 Peter 3.3-4. Again, emphasis on the heart. But this admonishment from the Apostle doesn't say "do not pay attention" to the outer - he warns not to get them out of order - the heart is first.
3. Titus 2.4-5. Teaching others about purity - especially "older women". This doesn't mean we have to wear pants and turtlenecks year round - but we do need to watch our necklines. Women - train those around you. Model biblical femininity. They look to you. Be fashionable - but be modest. Especially if you are in front of a lot of women, or on a platform. I remember the rule for singing in Southeastern's chapel was to wear skirts below the knee, preferred to the ankle. Is this necessary - no. But, the standard is higher for those in leadership.
4. 1 Timothy 2.9. We must adorn ourselves with modesty and self-control. If some woman has 300 pairs of shoes - or even 30 - that may not be a problem with modesty but with self-control.
I think these guidelines are very important. The Bible doesn't give us a list because its not about lists (last legalism) - it is about Christian liberty, grace, protecting others, being feminine, living pure, conduct becoming to Christ, running hard after God.
I was in Goodwill recently. Found a great gray skirt by Banana Republic - expensive. The Goodwill price was only 3$. I knew it looked short on the hanger, but of course it wouldn't be that short in the dressing room. However, it was. I thought it about it - looked at it in the mirror from many different angles, sat down in it. I finally had to take it off and say no. Sometimes I wish I didn't know anything about God's commands when it comes to my clothing, my heart, and the protection of men around me. But, I do. And I am thankful because they are life-giving.
My prayer for you is this:
1. Dress modestly. If there is a question about it - you probably shouldn't wear it.
2. Love God more than your wardrobe.
3. Don't judge others because of what they wear or don't wear.
4. Dads (if any are reading)- set the bar high - go shopping with your wife or daughter and give your input into their wardrobe.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Catch up on my world...

Sorry for the lack of posts on this particular blog. I don't post many pics here anymore because most people use facebook for that. I've tried to keep this blog for truly what it set out to be - a place for my thoughts on the Word. So, here you go.
1. Reading. I do love to do it. Currently, I am spending most of my time reading books about women in missions (for a blog I am working on) and also Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers - for the upteenth time. I LOVE that book. It is my bed time reading. Find much of her in myself and love the modernized story of the book of Hosea.
2. I am slowly reading through Colossians from the J B Phillips version of the Bible. I got this Bible from Brad Layland back in 97 when I started working with him at Young Life - great boss. I love this Bible. I love the inscription on it. He was such an influence in my life. Thank you Brad! Colossians is one of those books that no matter how many times I read it - I learn something more each time, wondering where that came from and how come I never saw that before. I am thankful for the continuing working of the Holy Spirit through the writings of Scripture.
3. I am trying to plug in to Sojourn - my church here in Louisville. I am grateful for a church who's passion is the Word, the community. There you go. The force driving both of those things is the Gospel. Sojourn is not about great music (which they have) or great preaching (which they have) or great art (which they have), its about the Gospel.
4. This week is my 2 year anniversary of being in Louisville. I absolutely love the men of God that I work for. They are men who encourage me, pray for me, lead me, show me what it is to be real, humble, leaders of their wives and children, etc. I love their passion for the gospel and the ministry of the local church. I love how they care about their family and spend time with their children. I love their love for their students - and how they succeed. How refreshing this is. I am grateful for my job and for the professors in my life.
5. Thinking about gluttony vs indulgence. When does indulgence become a sin? Why don't more pastors or leaders preach on the sin of gluttony? Thank you JD for such a powerful sermon on this topic many years ago.
6. Learning to say no. I am learning that I am a person of scheduling, and I am learning how to say no to things so I have time for myself. I love meeting with girls and others but I also know that if I don't have any downtime during the week, life is not pretty.
7. God is so gracious and forgiving. I am not. I am very selfishly motivated in things I do. I am very critical and like to give my opinion. I need to shut up more and grow in wisdom. Would I be considered a person of wisdom? Am I faithful in all things? These passages of women (1 Pet 3, 1 Tim 3, Titus 2, Eph 5) always convict me when I read or study them again. Again, thankful for the Word and the Cross.
8. I am learning I do not like to pray aloud. I like to pray - I pray throughout the day. The other day I was praying for my brother and thought to myself I do not know how to pray in this situation. The Holy Spirit interceeded and I am grateful for that. But, prayer is so intimate, and even when I have a good relationship with the person in whose company I am in, I still don't like to pray aloud. Scripture commands us to in certain situations, but I am definitely more of a prayer journaler or silent pray-er.
9. Discipling the younger generations. This is still my heart. As I see so many areas this younger generation needs help with (many areas I still need help with) I am on the look out for opportunities to serve them, teach them, pour into their lives.
10. Thankful for people who want to be my friend. Not because I offer them something or bring something to the table, but just because. These girls all love me, and all bring out some sort of mercy and grace in my life. Some can call me out on sin more than others. Some add depth to my life. Thankful.
11. I love using this period of my life to travel, enjoy the US, enjoy riding in my car, blessing others with my cooking, having people in my home, pouring into other girls' lives, honing my homemaking skills, enjoying some quiet time with the Lord, watching football, being convicted of sin. Its a good time. We'll see what the next year brings - who knows? That is why I love serving a big God - you never know what He is going to do in your life.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Paul Tripp at Sojourn

I got to attend the last session of the Paul Tripp Counseling conference this week at my church (thanks Sojourn for free entry). It was on his new book Broken Down House which I have yet to get just because I'm trying to not spend as much money (but it is on my Amazon Wish List in case anyone out there in Blogland cares to get it for me?...).
This message (I only stayed for first half) was great - I was busily taking notes. Here we go. You may be able to go to the site and hear the msgs once they are up.
Basic Premise of Broken Down House. We live in a fallen world. Things aren't going to go exactly as planned. There is sin. God is bigger. We should rejoice because we know a HOPE greater than the fallenness of this world.
We should (as Christians who love Jesus and His Word) should resist the following:
1. Being Satisfied. We need to be honest and realistic about the world and how it is. We need to learn to weep for the world. We must fight (hear the John Piper language) to be dissatisfied. We need to be glad we aren't devasted in our weeping - we have HOPE! We are at once the saddest and most celebrant community in the whole world. We are both because we have to be dissatisfied with this world and dissatisfied that we aren't in THAT world yet.
2. Spirituality. God's people got so satisfied with distant, impersonal spirituality that they were ok with offering sacrifices to Baal on the way to the Temple. We often mistake commitment to Christianity for commitment to Christ. Unless our commitments to Christianity (church going, witnessing, talking right, not sinning, reading the Bible, etc) results in obedience to Christ in our hearts - then its just stuff. Best thing out of a list was we substitute a system of theology and rules for maturity. I see that around me (and in me at times).
3. Passivity. God calls us to redemptive activity - but we offer excuses. I am too small (like Moses and Gideon). I am too busy (like me). The problem is too big (like Aids in Africa). It is not my problem (like many things in the city you live in).

One of the most convicting thoughts of the night: We can sing one minute songs of praise and worship and then the very next minute be yelling at our kids in the car (or gossiping, or fussing at traffic, etc). Which is more determinate of your heart? (See verse in Bible that asks can blessing and cursing come from the same mouth?).

Paul Tripp is definitely one of my fave authors, in the top 5. He has an amazing grasp of hurt, truth, reality, counseling, wisdom of the Word, etc. If you are really trying to impact your CITY for Christ - read this book!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Come One, Come All - Mercy Me

Finally got on the spin bike last night shortly before the gym closed after a long day. My iPod was about dead, but I was praying it would make it through at leat 20 minutes. It did (and now it is in the cradle charging). This is one of the songs I heard. Loved it. Love it all the time. It is one of my fave Mercy Me songs. Thankful that God used the lyrics of this song to soften a very prideful heart.

Come you who are weary
Come you who are strong
Take in His wondrous glory
And dance the freedom song
Everything revolves here
Around His holy name
And after you have been here
You'll never be the same

Come one, come all
To the presence of our God
This is where all hope and peace and joy are found
Come taste and see
We've been summoned by the King
Enter in and place your feet on holy ground
Come you who are searching
Come you who are saved
Embrace the gift of mercy
Embrace the gift of grace
Enter all you nations
Worship at His throne
Glorify the wonder
Of Christ and Christ alone

I know it is only pride that keeps me from being in His presence daily. I need the King and One True God in my life at every moment.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Francis Chan - 2 Things

Really like this guy more and more - as I read his stuff, listen to him preach (which I've been doing for a while) and just catching little glimpses of what he says.
One of the things he is big about is not having a lot of stuff (riches) and being the church (for savings, etc). Not hoarding but giving - being the local church as in Acts 2.
I've even experienced this this week in little ways. Money has been tight because I'm doing a lot of traveling in the month of August. I was having people over this week. Didn't want to waste gas or money to go buy bread to serve with the Turkey bbq I made. I then remembered that Panera Bread delivers their leftovers here to the seminary on Mondays. I ran down there right before it closed and got 3 french baguettes. Maybe not the bread I would have chosen first, but free and great with bbq. Then, I was looking in my fridge for a jalapeno I needed for the corn casserole (that I thought I had) and couldn't find it. But, I got an email the next day (I was just going to do without it) that a retired prof here at the school brought in many things from his garden - and jalapenos were on the list! :) God is good.
Here is a short 2 minute video from Francis Chan more on this topic. Love it.

Summer Progressive Dinner

Well, this was a non-progressive progressive dinner. The 5 of us got together again for our Spring/Summer version of the progressive dinner. Its been a bit hectic here with mission trips and out of townness - so we had to combine two of the seasons.

Then yesterday with the storms passing through the ville we thought it would be better just to have it all at one house - mine - since I had the main dish. It was fun, but as Laura said, it was less of an event!

I love these friends. We talked about everyone's jobs, church, traveling. Since I had very capable men in my house I asked them to help me figure out my keyboard (moving bookshelves, amps, plugging in things, etc). That was a tremendous help and the evening concluded by me playing the melody of Trust and Obey. I also showed the guys how to do some basic kettlebell moves.

These friends are very encouraging to me and source of God's wonderful grace in my life.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Old Doorknobs

Alice in Wonderland:

"Doorknob: Read the directions and directly you
will be directed in the right direction.”

I need to remember this for reading the Word.

I took this picture this wknd near Charleston, TN on the Hiawassee River - an old schoolhouse.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Old Hymns: O Thou in Whose Presence

Old Hymns are making a "comeback" in our churches: music like Sojourn, Mars Hill, Red Mtn Music, and the Gettys just to name a few. One of my favorite artists for just sound accoustic music in down times or relaxing times is Fernando Ortega. As I was walking last night, this song came in my iPod shuffle: O Thou In Whose Presence. Written in 1791, it definitely fits the bill for an old hymn. Just because a hymn is old doesn't mean its lyrics are biblical. Always, as with any music, put its lyrics up against the truths that are found in Scripture. Scripture always stands the test of time. Here are some of the lyrics that I especially enjoyed:

O Thou in whose presence my soul takes delight, On whom in affliction I call,
My comfort by day, and my song in the night, My hope, my salvation, my all.
(so many Psalms in this first verse)

Say, why in the valley of death should I weep, Or alone in the wilderness rove?
(Ring a bell with 1 Cor 15?, Ps 23)

O, why should I wander an alien from Thee, And cry in the desert for bread?
(I think of the Israelites whining for manna, then still whining when they got it)
Thy foes will rejoice when my sorrows they see, And smile at the tears I have shed.

His voice, as the sound of the dulcimer sweet, is heard through the shadows of death;
The cedars of Lebanon bow at His feet, The air is perfumed with His breath.

His lips as a fountain of righteousness flow, That waters the garden of grace,
From which their salvation the Gentiles shall know, And bask in the smiles of His face.

He looks, and ten thousands of angels rejoice,And myriads wait for His word;
He speaks, and eternity, filled with His voice, Re-echoes the praise of her Lord.

Dear Shepherd, I hear and will follow Thy call;
I know the sweet sound of Thy voice.
Restore and defend me, for Thou art my All, And in Thee I will ever rejoice.

Women in the SBC

Much in the news lately about former President Jimmy Carter and his leaving the SBC church in GA he was a member of because of their position on women in leadership in the church. So, here we are again. Some people think the Gender debate is old news and not very relevant any more. But - it SO IS! This needs to be discussed in our churches, our homes, our families, our communities.
Here are some thoughts:
1. Scripture teaches that men and women are created equal in the sight of God but with different functions (Gen 1-3).
2. Scripture also teaches that in the local church, men are to serve as the head (1 Tim 3).
That is really what the whole argument of women leading the local church boils down to.
These next few points are for ladies.
I used to think that teaching men was the one thing I wanted to do - or at least be up in front of everyone talking, leading a youth group (full of young men), etc.
But, why do we aspire to be leaders of the church - the teaching elders of a church?
Sin - That part in Genesis 3 where we desire to rule over our husbands and where we seek to form our own heart idols - our little g gods. We want to, in our flesh, usurp God's authority and His Word in our lives.
Do we not think that the following is just as good of a role to accomplish and fulfill?
1. Being a wife and a mother - teaching our children to fear God, loving and helping our husbands (Eph 5, 6)?
2. Training the younger women to love their husbands, have solid doctrine, be wise and smart in things of the home (Titus 2, Prov 31)
3. Training children in the local church - VBS, weekly children's time, etc.

These are the things that are beautiful. We, as women, should not desire to be the pastors and men-teachers in the local church. We should love to be what God has called us to be - nurturers of our home, lovers of our husbands, and most importantly lovers of God, passionately loving Jesus, making Him gloriously known throughout the world, and to be Christ-followers - humbled by grace.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

With One Voice - Alex Chediak

This book isn't a new release, but this is the first time I've had opportunity to pick it up and read it. This is a great "what to do now" book. With One Voice: Singleness, Dating & Marriage to the Glory of God is a very practical, quick read. This book has study questions in the back of each chapter. This is a book I wished I had read and applied during my few relationships. It would have made those relationships go a lot better for the glory of God. But, this is why I'm telling you guys to read it now.
This book goes from teenagers to those are older and dating and wanting to get married. Talks about what to do during each stage, what not to do in those stages, why accountability with different ages of people is important, why Christian Biblical community is important in relationships.
My favorite part is how this book ended - with a declaration of the gospel and placing our Hope not in relationships but in Jesus:
"But, oh, the grace that God extends to needy sinners who turn to Him in genuine faith and repentance. Is. 64.4. GOD actually works FOR those who wait for Him. There is forgiveness and power for right living in Him. He loves to show Himself strong for those who humbly submit themselves to His lordship and treasure Him above all else. So no matter where you've been yesterday, seek Him for your tomorrow."
Alex and Marni - thank you for writing this book. May God's blessings be on your family and as you continue to encourage singles in your sphere of influence - both in your local community and as folks read this little book.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Ordered Life = Beauty (Part 2)

As human beings, we are created in the Imago Dei - the image of God. See Genesis 1.
How are we, daily, living as image bearers? One of the ways is to strive, by grace, to live out, display in our own lives, different characteristics of God. We need to be giving, patient, righteous (through the blood of Jesus), etc. You get the idea.
One of the coolest attributes of God is that He is a God of Order, or design, telos. I thought about this very fact yesterday morning as I was walking into work. When I looked up near the clock tower on Norton Hall - there was the moon. What? Its 830am, the sun is already up in full heat behind me, but look, there's the moon. Then I started thinking about how God set that all in motion during the Creation week. How God designed how the orbit of the sun and moon and earth and stars would work. Nothing gets out of whack or out of alignment. God, being a God of order and design, put it into motion. And being the God is holy - His design is apart from our design. We couldn't have designed the sun's ways.
Here are some thoughts from the Bible and some theologians about God being a God of order and design:
Thomas Oden - The Living God - "Careful observation of plant and animal life, physical elements, centrifugal forces, stellar movements yeild that overwhelming conviction of orderliness" (p 143).
Psalm 8.3-4:
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him."
Thomas Aquinas in his arguments for the existence of God:
"In the world we find that things of diverse natures come together under on eorder, and this is not rarely or by chance, but always of for the most part. There must therefore be some being by whose providence the world is governed. This we call God."
Gen 1.1-3:
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.
So, what does this have to do with us living an ordered life? If we are to display God in our lives - this is one area that it must happen in.
If we live our lives haphazardly and dysfunctional - what does that say about the God who made us?
Let us strive to be more like our Maker. Live ordered lives, ones that please our Maker and Savior. We'll see more how to do this in later posts.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Ordered Life = Beauty (Part 1)

There is a song by Tim Hughes that I absolutely love, and have grown to love more and more over the many years since I first heard it.
Beauty of Your Peace - Tim Hughes (here are a few of the lyrics)

To lead us to the place where you'll restore our souls
And all our earthly strivings come to cease

Take from our souls the strain and stress, and let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of your peace

Here are some of my thoughts.
1. I try to do this a couple of different ways: calendaring, keeping a schedule, and trying not to let things stress me out.
2. The Hope of the gospel is the answer to number 1.
3. What do we show a world who needs to know the peace of God?

1. Calendaring. I plan way ahead. Just ask many friends. I like to get things on the calendar. If things aren't on the calendar...well, its a little harder to get things on it. Say if I have nothing to do some a weekend, I have already planned it in my head that it is going to a quiet one, at home, chilling. So, I am less likely to put something on there last minute. Schedule. I try to think through my day, either the night before or the morning of, and get in the things that I know need to be on there. Again, I have many things that need to get done during the day, and I try to make the best use of my time. This schedule keeping goes with house cleaning, daily chores, reading, blog posts, writing, ministry events, church activities, lunches/meals with friends, etc. No Stress. A new(er) friend said to me the other day that I never get stressed out about anything. That is definitely not true, but why get stressed out. I think the most stressful thing to me is driving when I'm in a hurry. But, then again, why am I in a hurry - because I haven't kept to my schedule. You may be wondering if my schedule runs my life. No, friends/life are more important. But, if something doesn't have to happen right now - then I try to look a few days down the road and schedule it in there.
2. Hope of the Gospel. No matter how well or how poorly I keep this schedule - Jesus is still bigger. He allows me to keep it well, and he is still in charge when I don't keep it at all. Sometimes I do get agitated when my schedule doesn't get accomplished or I get behind on tasks or reading. But, Jesus died for that - my sin and tyranny over my schedule. He died so that I wouldn't stress over the little things in life but also that I wouldn't live at the demand of the world that is telling me I must do this or that to feel worthy.
3. The World. What does your house (clean, organized), your clothes (ironing, mended), your meals (planned, healthy, affordable, not wasteful), your daily QTs (are they happening at all), your relationships (how you talk to your friends and family, how much time you spend with people vs alone time), how you handle conflict or unexpected happenings, how you worry or don't worry about the future, your desk/work space (are you a time waster or clutter keeper) - all these things. If a friend who is a Christian came over or observed any of these things in your life - would they see the glory of the gospel? And if a non-believer was to witness these - what would they hear your life saying about the gospel of Jesus?

This is again a new area of interest of mine. One that I have not perfected, but am working for under and with the grace of Jesus. I didn't grow up like this at all. I think I planned ahead for things, but everything in our house was a mess: clutter, stuff, not-organized, stuff everywhere, my locker was a mess. But, since seeing my life and my home life (loving my home, organizing, my home, living a stress free life) as a way to display the gospel - it has radically changed my life.

This will become a guest post series. I look forward to hearing from some of my friends on more of these topics. Check back.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

CBMW Re:Post: Weight/Dating/Obesity

Here is a post I wrote for CBMW - check it out:

Ps 81: Worship, Obedience, Discipline, Promise in the Hard Times

Usually, I stick with the ESV, but I love the NLT for reading, journaling, etc. This wknd I spent a lot of time in the higher numbered Psalms - journaling, praying, etc. This morning as I sat down to my waffles and blueberries - I opened to one of my fave psalms. This is the reason for re-reading - you always see something new. Thank you HS for opening my eyes this morning to the glories of your Word!
Psalm 81
Sing praises to God, our strength. Sing to the God of Jacob. Sing! Beat the tambourine. Play the sweet lyre and the harp. Blow the ram’s horn at new moon, and again at full moon to call a festival! For this is required by the decrees of Israel; it is a regulation of the God of Jacob. He made it a law for Israel when he attacked Egypt to set us free.
I heard an unknown voice say, “Now I will take the load from your shoulders; I will free your hands from their heavy tasks. You cried to me in trouble, and I saved you; I answered out of the thundercloud and tested your faith when there was no water at Meribah. “Listen to me, O my people, while I give you stern warnings. O Israel, if you would only listen to me! You must never have a foreign god; you must not bow down before a false god. For it was I, the Lord your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it with good things. “But no, my people wouldn’t listen. Israel did not want me around. So I let them follow their own stubborn desires, living according to their own ideas. Oh, that my people would listen to me! Oh, that Israel would follow me, walking in my paths! How quickly I would then subdue their enemies! How soon my hands would be upon their foes! Those who hate the Lord would cringe before him; they would be doomed forever. But I would feed you with the finest wheat. I would satisfy you with wild honey from the rock.”

Verses 1-3 is all about the act of worship, the noise of worship, that the Israelites are doing. Why? Verse 4 tells us that - because God commanded them to worship Him - and they did because He freed them, broke their chains of bondage, parted the Red Sea.
Verse 6-7 talk about how God freed them from their distress and bondage - He heard their cries for help.
Verses 8-9 is their admonishment again to not have any foreign gods ("little g gods" as I heard Sunday) before the only God.
Verse 10 gives them a reason to be a hopeful in this command.
Verse 11-12 - They still didn't get it, so they got the discipline (not wrath) of the Lord. He will not settle for second fiddle (as a Gaither song says).
Verses 13-15 - A promised plea from God - hey do this, look at what I'll do for you - I'll bless you if you'll just obey me.
Verse 16 - a great verse of promise coming from the most unusual places.

Now for us:
1. Worship. Loud. "Sing aloud. Beat the tambourine. Blow the trumpet." These aren't soft commands. Yes, there is room for soft and tender worship before the Lord. I think most of us have that down. But, why is it so hard for us to worship with total abandonment? Not caring if others around us hear our worship. As JD used to say I wish we would get as excited as the folks in Cameron Indoor - the Cameron Crazies - what if we were the Summit Crazies?
2. He freed us. God has paid the price for our lives so we may worship the One who has freed us. He delivered us from everything that troubles us. That doesn't mean we won't have any more troubles (the NT makes it clear that in this world we will have troubles). But, the one who loves us is the One who overcame sin and death so we could triumph over our troubles.
3. He tells us not to have any other gods. He knows us. He knows we are going to succumb to other gods. He knows we want to have the control in our lives and want things now just the way want them.
"Oh, if you would but listen to me!" "If you would only listen to me." I've heard this many times from my parents in the past - sorta an "I told you so". God just wants us to listen to Him. To obey Him. He knows the good that comes from that. He knows the blessings that will come. He knows our happiness that will come when we obey and listen - FULLY.
4. But, He has to often discipline us because we aren't listening - we choose other gods - we get discouraged because our focus and gaze is on other things other than Him. We get worked up because we don't think God is capable of solving our problems. We get distracted by worthless things.
5. His promises: Open your mouth wide and I will fill it. Based on the action He already did - calling to their mind - that He freed them from bondage. He is the same God. I will feed you with the FINEST of wheat, and with honey from the rock I will satisfy you. Not just with wheat to fill your storehouses - not just giving you stuff. But the FINEST of WHEAT. And since when does honey come from a rock. He will satisfy us out of these hard places.
This is what I cling to even now when I pray the same thing as I fall asleep at night. I seldom pray aloud - but last night as I laid listening, I spoke very softly, a genuine prayer of my heart. I pray more now - just the inward unceasing prayer. That He would stay my mind, but that He would also graciously give me the things I desire.
God is good.

Monday, July 06, 2009

So Called "Expert" Advice from the Bartender

It was magazine day last week. I had 4 magz in my box and got the chance to glance through them then read them a bit closer during dinner meals (one good thing to eating by yourself most of the time - you can multitask).
I came across this article in the August 2009 Bon Appetit. Honestly, what caught my eye was the look of this woman. She is a my age-ish bartender in Boston. She is dressed mostly in black (with a white shirt, sorta tuxedo-ish). She has a beautifully crafted tattoo of a bird or chicken taking up her right arm. She has a beautiful smile and short black hair. My first thought was, man, that is definitely not what a biblical woman dresses/looks like. Than I thought "I don't even know this woman, who am I to judge?" I thought to myself would people who don't even know me, look at me, and think I am a biblical woman? More importantly - would they, after knowing me, think I am a biblical woman? Don't know if I want to know the answer to either of those questions.
Now I was intrigued, and kept reading the interview. The last question - here you go:
Q - As a Harvard Divinity School graduate, have you found any parallels between religion and cocktails?
A - Humans seek comfort in many ways, two of which are the rituals of organized religion and the rituals of social drinking. Martin Luther wrote who loves no woman, wine, and song remains a fool his whole life long."

Couple of thoughts:
1. She is right
2. Unfortunately
3. Hopefully your relationship with Jesus, my relationship with Jesus - is more than the rituals of organized religion
4. Nice use of the ML quote
5. Would any SBCers agree with that Martin Luther quote?

So, if you are ever in Boston, head to Drink on Congress Avenue and you may be able to strike up a conversation about cocktails and religion with their bartender.

4th of July Wknd

I spent the 4th in Indiana chilling at a friend's apt because they were out of town and I got to go up there. I was so thankful for that. What a great time of chilling in the Word, reading various chapters from various books, relaxing, cooking good food, etc. As I've been reading others' blogs this morning - I'll post in bullet format - because sometimes its just easier!

* It was nice to sleep past 7am each morning. I got up at 945 on Saturday and 915 on Sunday morning. It was still quiet with no delivery trucks or garbage trucks or lawn mowers or air conditioners or cars that need new mufflers. I was very thankful for that!

* Steak and smores and black bean burritos. This is pretty much what I had for my 4th food. I made a great pot of black/pinto/kidney beans with lime and garlic. Yummy on burritoes with some pepperjack cheese. I grilled ribeye for dinner on the 4th and had an indoor homemade smore! I've been craving one and it was so yummy and delicious with gooey-goodness!

* I spent my time in the Word this wknd in Ps 143-147 - journaling through it, singing, thinking through what God was saying to me. Its been good to be going through the OT at church, thinking about all the idols. God was pointing me to things that I had placed my hope in - things other than Him. But, he kept pulling me back to how happy and blessed are those whose hope is completely in HIM. God is gracious to me.

* I so am an introvert. Most people really don't believe that. But, I spent 48 hours this wknd not seeing a single person. My only contact with the outside world was the occasional text msg and Food Network. I LOVED it. I just didn't really want to return. I told my neighbor when I got back from church that I had to get used to talking to people again. It was so nice to be quiet and alone for 48 hours!

* Books written by Elyse Fitzpatrick, Paul David Tripp, and Ed Welch need to be read by everyone! I love these authors. Paul David Tripp is doing a conference in August at Sojourn. Hopefully I'll get to go to one of the evening sessions on his new book (can't wait to read, but have no money to buy books right now). I heard Elyse Fitzpatrick last spring on her new book. Ed Welch is just used mightily to convict. All of these authors are. Counselors who rely on the Word as their means of change - good stuff!

* It was a cool wknd. I was very thankful to be in a house where I didn't need the ac and I wasn't sweating. Thankful for the rain and the low 70s temps. Quite a change.

* Carpet! I loved it. I loved sitting on the floor and being comfortable. I like hardwood floors, but I love carpet! Why? Because I love to sit on the floor.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

June snapshot...

This is going to be a blog post full of random things. I haven't been posting in a while on this blog, so I thought I would catch you up on life in one blog entry.
1. SBC 2009. I did post my thoughts from here. I thought in the end it was a very encouraging convention. I like Danny Akin's thoughts on it (and Acts29) here.
2. Exercising. I still need to lose some weight, but a lifestyle change is what is needed. I've done better at that this year. So, God has been good and faithful in allowing me to be obedient.
3. Fruit picking. I've already done my fair share of berry picking this season - with at least one more Saturday set aside for this fun activity in Southern Indiana. I've picked strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, black raspberries. Next to pick peaches, tomatoes, blackberries and blueberries. So yummy!
4. Work. Going very well. Summer is slow, but we are heading into a big transition. We just had the 150th anniversary of SBTS. Our guys did a great job getting everything ready and our campus is very beautiful right now.
5. Foot. A few years ago I started to notice a pain under my pinky toe of my left foot when exercising. Well, i'm finally going to do something about it. I have an appt set for July 15 to get it looked it. If surgery is needed, hopefully I can get it scheduled for when my parents will be in town in October (after race season, just in time for winter, before Spring running starts).
6. Books. I'm learning that some people are just GREAT writers. I love the description ability of Charlotte Bronte'. I'm reading Jane Eyre. I feel like I am sitting down with Jane and we are sipping tea and she is just chatting away. Her characters are so life-like. I'm also reading some for blog-material: John and Abigail Adams' letters and 7 Hardest Thing God Asks a Woman to Do. We'll see. And I'm reading one for fun - Alone in the Kitchen With an Eggplant - hilarious, some choice vocabulary, cynicism, sarcasm, some recipes. My brother is a good writer as well - especially about Florida.
7. Summer. It has been hot. I do not have air conditioning. I walk once it gets cooler. I try not to use my oven as much. God is good by having a reprieve of the heat this week - its only in the mid 80s.
8. July 4. This weekend i'll be in IN celebrating the 4th by taking a personal retreat with me and God and a pen, bible, and paper. I'm looking forward to the quiet, a/c, hanging out prayer time to seek some answers, grow in my willingness to be open and vulnerable, and be away from fb, texting, tv, computer for 48 whole hours!
9. Sojourn. I love my new church. We are seeking to start a new site here in the area of Louisville in which I live. Looking to start in August (I'll be gone the whole month however). Excited. Also, I'm loving the sermons. Continuing in the BC (OT) series. Good stuff. And they just put out a new CD - click the Sojourn link on the right.
10. Friends. I love my friends. I loved catching up with many around the SBC last week. I love how friends are moving and going to different parts of the country/world. I love friends who I can be real with and who still love me. I'm thankful for the WHOLE Body of Christ and how we can celebrate what God is doing in our lives - and have accountability with those people. God is good.

Well, that is just a brief snapshot. Enjoy

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The SBC 2009

Well, here goes. These are my thoughts and not anyone else's.
Psalm 138: this was my reading this morning. I love how perfect it is for this time and place:
I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart; before the gods I sing your praise; I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word. On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased. All the kings of the earth shall give you thanks, O Lord, for they have heard the words of your mouth, and they shall sing of the ways of the Lord, for great is the glory of the Lord. For though the Lord is high, he regards the lowly, but the haughty he knows from afar. Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand delivers me. The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.

1. Pastor's Conference - the ones I heard - rocked! JD Greear, although a sermon I've heard before - was very worth a repeat in this crowd for this purpose. I am very glad to call him my friend and pastor. David Platt - AMAZING! Simply a humble man of God who preaches the Word (knows that is more important) and calls us to Biblical action and love and missions and living out the gospel. I love his church, I love Secret Church, well worth the 6 hour drive from Louisville. Doc Reid - thankful for this man who loves Jesus and loves people. He practices what he preaches. I loved hearing him in class and learning from him because His love for the gospel is so evident.

2. Friends. I've seen many this week. Not all that I have wanted to see. But, many. Former pastors, friends from SEBTS, SWBTS, SBTS. This is the best part about the SBC to me - seeing people who get together once a year - like a reunion.

3. Men of God who stand for Truth. Men like Dr. Mohler, Mark Dever, David Platt, JD Greear, Doc Reid, Dr. Moore, Tom Ascol, Dr. Akin, Nathan Finn. These and many more. When people get up to ridicule them, blame the problems on things that aren't really the problems, little divisive things that don't mean squat...these men rise above it - stand for Biblical truth - and call us to action. May the future of the SBC be first - led by Christ and His love - and second, in human terms - be lead by these men - who love Jesus, the Gospel, the Word, the local church, and the World.

4. Repentance for my attitude. In all of these little nitpicky things that came up yesterday - my attitude stunk about them. I was mad at these things that people call the important things and really are just divisive. My attitude of haughtiness and pride and anger and cynicism was no better than their divisiveness. Jesus - thank you for the Cross that covers my sin and change my heart Lord Jesus to reflect you even in moments like these.

5. There is still more to come today. 150 years of SBTS - being a hostess to the many who will come on campus today. Thankful for men (and their teams) like Dan Dumas and Jeff Dalrymple who have made sure everything goes great today. Another full day at the Convention. David Platt preaching again - can't wait to tune in at 10am for that. But, the most important thing happened yesterday. The GCR passed with a 95-5% vote in favor. I just stuck my fist in the air. I was so excited. Now - the next year - Johnny Hunt will appoint a taskforce to look at some things. Will this bring change to the SBC - yes! Is change needed - most decidedly. Just like in the 80s - before I was in a SBC church - men like Paul Pressler and Paige Patterson stood for the inerrancy of Scripture and the conservative resurgence. Thankful for these men and the men who will lead us for the next odd many years.

6. Thankful for the gospel. Thankful for the SBs of Texas who gave 100k to the IMB yesterday. Thankful that hopefully many more of my friends who want to be SB missionaries will get the chance to because of the changes that will come over the next couple of years. The gospel will go further.

7. Thankful for one young dude from Plano, TX who said "we young Southern Baptists want to live for something bigger than ourselves - and we want to live for something bigger, better, and greater than the SBC." The SBC may go away tomorrow - but the gospel, Jesus, God's Word, and the name of the JESUS CHRIST will never fade away. God is making His glory known - may I be a part of that - and never cause it harm - only by the Grace of God!