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.