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!