Tuesday, October 31, 2006
1) How would you define/describe a gospel-centered response to stress?
2) Can you think of any hymns or contemporary songs with lyrics that speak of this in some way?
I am still somewhat new at this whole applying-the-gospel-to-every-aspect of life thing. So I would love your input :) Incidentally, as I typed this post, God brought to mind something I read from Piper a while back which I think applies here...but I'll save that for another post and wait to see what kind of response I get.
Please comment below!
Was reading this verse the other day and reflecting on what it teaches about knowing God and fearing Him. Some thoughts...
*What is the difference between "keeping His commands" and "obeying Him"? One focuses on the words--the commands--it's about rules, guidelines, standards. That's important. But it's not the be-all, end-all. The other focuses on the Person--it's about relationship, intimacy. It's hollow to follow rules without truly knowing (and loving, fearing, serving, trusting) the Authority behind them. The Law cannot give life--only the Spirit gives life.
*We are to hold fast to HIM--not to traditions or rules or laws. To cling to Him--as you would cling to the last rock that kept you from sliding down the cliff, to the raft that kept you from drowning. To cling as a small child clings to his mother's hand or leg or neck when he doesn't want to be left alone. To cling like this is to acknowledge helplessness, to admit need. It is to be humble. But it is not only to see reality about yourself (you are helpless, needy)...it is to see reality about your God. It is to acknowledge and prize the value of the One you cling to--to recognize His strength, His authority, His ability and power to help. It is to treasure the blessing it is to be near to Him, the privilege of knowing Him.
Monday, October 30, 2006
We had a potluck at church last night--always a good excuse to make something yummy that's too much for just Steve and I to eat. I made pumpkin cake, but there were lots of other desserts, and not as many people there as we sometimes have...so we ended up bringing home half the cake. Goodness knows how many pieces I would eat if it were left lying around in our kitchen...so...I did it again. I sent the rest to work with Steve this morning. I almost hated to do it...this Betty-Crocker-for-the-guys-at-work thing is getting ridiculous...but this time it wasn't my fault! I had no intention of sending goodies to work with him this week. Honest. If the cake had gotten eaten at the potluck this wouldn't have happened.
Anyway, just in case there was any danger of my getting a big head about all this Betty-Crocker-ness, God knocked me down a peg or two. The hot dish I took to the potluck didn't go over well...apparently it didn't look all that appetizing because I believe the only people who ate any were me and Steve. Ah well...keeps me humble :)
*Did I just use a Britney Spears song as the title for a blog post? Somebody shoot me now.
Friday, October 27, 2006
Eye on the Flu Shot - Royal Canadian Air Farce
(HT: Amy's Humble Musings)
Monday morning, he emailed me to say that the banana bread was a big hit. One of his co-workers had already come back for seconds as of 9:30; in the afternoon, his boss grabbed a piece and commented that he was glad he hadn't known about it until then. Steve came home with an empty plate, having given away the last half-piece on his way out the door. (Thank goodness I swiped a slice before it left the house!) I was glad to have been able to bless my husband and his co-workers in a simple way, and didn't think any more of it.
Until Wednesday afternoon, when Steve told me that Stan's wife had made chocolate chip cookies. Food in the office isn't totally unheard of, but uncommon enough that twice in one week was a notable occurrence. We laughed as we pictured all the guys having gone home Monday and told their wives, "Steve brought us this great banana bread his wife made!" I jokingly remarked that I hoped the other wives didn't hate me.
I got an email from my husband a few minutes ago. Not to be outdone, Vince's wife whipped up a batch of brownies. From scratch.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
- a date with my handsome husband last Saturday
- said husband's mad grilling skills
- vegetable beef soup, and the fact that I like it now (I wouldn't have touched it with a ten foot pole as a kid)
- a clean, no-longer-smelly dog, and a husband willing to help bathe him
- the gift of music
- sparkly pens
- changing my heart to enjoy cooking/baking
- the fabulous taste of yellow cake batter--which I believe I would choose for dessert of my last meal if I were on death row. Just give me a spatula and a mixing bowl full of the delightful stuff.
- cake batter ice cream, a brilliant invention that's almost as good as the real thing
- being "the God who sees" (Genesis 16)--not a distant, impersonal force but a loving, sovereign God who watches over every detail of my life and never slumbers nor sleeps
- the cross, which gives me reason to rejoice even in the midst of sorrow or pain
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
"Before this I just figured I was a square peg of a woman trying to fit into the round hole of home maker. There is no hope in this conclusion."
" 'God, be with me (or us or them).' How often have you prayed this or heard someone else pray it?" It's a prayer that doesn't need to be prayed.
Friday, October 20, 2006
"The gospel is: you are more sinful and flawed than you ever dared believe yet you can be more accepted and loved than you ever dared hope at the same time because Jesus Christ lived and died in your place."More great sound bites from the Desiring God National Conference 2006 speakers here.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
- safe travel to Ohio and back last week
- apple cider and apple butter from MacQueen Orchards
- hot soup on cold, rainy days
- our gas hookup only costing $20 instead of the $170 I was told in July
- the fact that having a warm house is as simple as paying a small deposit and turning a knob on the wall
- a calm, gentle dog who is friendly and completely unaggressive toward people and other animals
- the generosity, kindness and acts of service we receive so often from both sets of parents
- peony and lily bulbs my father-in-law dug up for us to plant down here (now if only I can figure out where to put them!)
- GEMS--I missed those precious girls last week! It was good to be back last night.
- a free song download from Sovereign Grace--love it!
- a warm, soft bed with heavy, cozy blankets
- the fantastic book I'm reading
- updates on the blogs of friends who don't post often
- because of Christ's sacrifice, I can call God not just King or Creator or Lord, but "Abba, Father" (Romans 8:15)
- as His child, one day, I will inherit all that my Heavenly Father owns--the earth and everything in it, made perfect and forever freed from sin's effects and presence--and I will see Him face-to face--and the pleasures of that life will make these small joys listed above a dim shadow! (Romans 8:17-18)
Between the choir songs we began practicing last night, and the free download from Sovereign Grace's forthcoming Christmas CD, I am now completely in the mood to bust out all my Christmas music. Never mind the fact that Thanksgiving is still a month away.
Go check out that free song! It's a great one. I'm sooo excited about the CD!
"What Owen offers is not quick relief, but long-term, deep growth in grace that can make strong, healthy trees where there was once a fragile sapling. I pray that thousands—especially teachers and pastors and other leaders—will choose the harder, long-term path of growth, not the easier, short-term path of circumstantial relief.. . . We cannot properly estimate the blessing of soaking our minds in the Bible-saturated thinking of the likes of John Owen. What he was able to see in the Bible and preserve for us in writing is simply magnificent." —John Piper, Pastor for Preaching and Vision, Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis
“No writer has taught me more about the dynamics of the heart and the deceitfulness of sin than John Owen. ...Read this book carefully; it will help you understand your heart and experience God’s grace.”—C. J. Mahaney, Sovereign Grace Ministries
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
As much grace as God has given me when it comes to cooking, I still struggle with making all the parts of a meal come together smoothly at the same time. I don't know why I can multi-task everywhere except in the kitchen! (The main part was an improvisation that is yummy and easy--dip chicken breasts in a mixture of honey mustard and a little lemon juice, coat with crushed french-fried onions, and bake at 400* for 20 minutes!)
Friday I got to have lunch with three of my former co-workers from Project Respect (or rather, two co-workers and my boss). Left to right: Patty, Jackie, me and Shirley. My time at Project Respect was...well, let's just say it was one of the few times in my life where I believe God specifically called me to do something I ended up hating, yet knew He had led me to it. Maybe "hate" is too strong a word. It wasn't all bad. But I was glad to be done, for sure. Anyway, the saving grace of those nine months was these precious ladies (plus a couple of others) who became dear friends. I may not have liked my job, but I did love working with great people like them.
Friday night, my college roommate Stephanie graciously drove up from Fort Wayne to see me since she was busy the day I saw the rest of the Fort Fun crew. We have made a lot of memories together in five or six years as friends and roommates--Stephanie is one of those people who knows me really well and loves me anyway. She is a busy girl doing all sorts of neat stuff and I was so thankful that she made time for me. I loved hearing about all she's up to--serving God, enjoying life.
Oh, and I got a new haircut, which you can see in the last two pictures.
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Rachel at Women's Health News links to an unbelievable film that's part of Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty. She's got more links to photo retouching exposes here and here. We all know that photos in magazines and such have been retouched, but it's powerful to see actual before-and-after evidence. Sheds a new light on the standards we hold ordinary women to...
UPDATE: GirlTalk weighed in on this same video today:
The Dove Campaign got it partially right—the fashion industry has certainly contributed to a distorted perception of beauty. ...their solution—“every girl deserves to feel beautiful just the way she is”—is well-meaning and yet...Even if every girl did “feel beautiful just the way she is,” it wouldn’t bring her true joy or lasting happiness or solve even one of her problems.
Truth be told, what we all deserve is not to feel beautiful but rather to be condemned to hell for sinfully seeking to attract the worship of our fellow creatures instead of living to bring glory to God.
God did not send Jesus to this earth to die so that women could get over their self-esteem problem and feel better about themselves. No, He sent his Son to die to rescue us from our sinful, futile quest for physical beauty and to reveal to us the satisfaction that comes from knowing God—whether we are beautiful or not!
What freedom and hope is found in Christ! We don’t need to feel beautiful about ourselves to find happiness! ...Rather, God has offered us in Jesus Christ forgiveness, hope, freedom from sin and a joy that never ends.
Tuesday night I had some girl time with my best friend Julie. It is soooo refreshing to be with people who just know you...who don't need twenty minutes of back story...who understand you and can finish your sentences. I long for that here in Tennessee...but meanwhile I can't forget that God has already given it to me time and again--wonderful friends, gifts I can't take for granted.
On Wednesday it was off to the city Janet affectionately refers to as "Fort Fun"! I visited my grandmother, who has Parkinson's and lives in a nursing home (so sad...always hard to see her like that). Then met Janet for lunch. If you had told me when we were freshmen in college that we'd end up becoming good friends I would have been very surprised--not that I ever disliked Janet at all, but just that we're very different! My first impression of her was this beautiful, talented, confident girl who I assumed was certainly an upperclassman--I was shocked to find out she was a freshman like me. After a few years of chorale, communication classes together, chamber singers, etc...I am blessed to count her as a friend. Crazy and funny and just a beautiful heart. And if you were at my wedding you know how amazing her voice is. Hadn't seen her since then--so we had fun catching up. And Janet has a blog now--go check it out!
After that it was off to see one of my favorite cousins, Rebekah, and her son Matthew. The last few times I've seen her have been a rushed few minutes to say hi, so it was nice to spend a little longer with her. Matthew is growing like crazy and is completely adorable!
Then I capped off the afternoon with a raspberry mocha and a nice long chat with Jaala. How much do I love this girl! I had the privilege of mentoring her in college...she is a dear friend. I loved sharing deeply and honestly with her (and looking at her Israel trip pictures, too). On the way home I got to listen to a CD of Jaala's composition recital--30 minutes of various types of original music, both vocal and instrumental. Stellar! What talented friends I have. I loved listening to all the beautiful songs this beautiful girl wrote.
It may be possible for each to think too much of his own potential glory hereafter; it is hardly possible for him to think too often or too deeply about that of his neighbor. The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbor's glory should be laid daily on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken.
There's much more rich truth in this brief Lewis passage--go read the rest.
Monday, October 16, 2006
Can I just say, you haven't been to an amusement park until you've been to Cedar Point. And you haven't ridden a roller coaster until you've ridden Millennium Force or Raptor (front seat).
This is not an amusement park. It is a glorified county fair.
This is not Cedar Point. It is a wannabe.
If you really love roller coasters, you need to make your way to the great state of Ohio, to Sandusky--the roller coaster capital of the world. But don't go on a sunny Saturday; you'll wait in 2+ hour lines for the best rides. And if you go in October, dress warmly. Flying down a steel track at 92 mph next to the lake at 8 pm has a chill factor of approximately -17 F.
Ahhhhh...I love Cedar Point.
That is all.
(Pictures from Cedar Point's website.)
It doesn't get much better than being paid hundreds of dollars to spend a week with friends and family. But that's exactly the gift God gave us last week. Steve had training to do for work and found out it was offered in Toledo. Some figuring showed his boss that although they'd have to pay a ridiculous amount of mileage, it would actually be cheaper than paying for a hotel room and every meal if he were to go to Louisville. So we packed our bags and headed for Ohio.
What a blessing it was to have a long visit. Usually when we go home (Steve's parents and mine live in the same town) we are so rushed to pack in time with both our families, let alone trying to see friends. This time we had many more opportunities for QT with family, and I got to visit several dear friends while Steve was in his seminars.
Good times were had by all...even Hank, who only puked in the car one time.
I have many posts with pictures forthcoming. (Not of the puke. Micah.)
Thursday, October 12, 2006
Today I'm thanking God for...
- toasted marshmallows and s’mores--YUM
- donuts my parents saved and froze for us from the county fair--YUM
- pizza subs from the local joint, with burnt cheese around the edges--YUM
- reconnecting with one of my college roommates and her husband on Monday (at Bravo, no less--YUM!) --noticing a theme here???
- the starry night sky that proclaims His creativity, beauty and power
- the thrill of roller coasters
- girl time with my BFF
- fun times in Fort Wayne with friends and family yesterday
- old friends whom I don’t have to explain myself to
- the certain hope that one day there will be no more disease or pain or tears
- giving me a good memory and writing His Word on my heart
- the fact that I do not face condemnation when I fail because Christ bore it
What about you?
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Jesus’ blunt words—“None of your business, follow me”—are sweet to my ears. They are liberating from the depressing bondage of fatal comparing. ...That’s the way we sinners are wired. Compare. Compare. Compare. We crave to know how we stack up in comparison to others. There is some kind of high if we can just find someone less effective than we are.
...That word landed on me with great joy. Jesus will not judge me according to my superiority or inferiority over anybody. No preacher. No church. No ministry. These are not the standard. Jesus has a work for me to do (and a different one for you). It is not what he has given anyone else to do. There is a grace to do it. Will I trust him for that grace and do what he has given me to do? That is the question. O the liberty that comes when Jesus gets tough!
Go read the whole thing!
(HT: Between Two Worlds)
Monday, October 09, 2006
One friend of mine, a missionary in Rwanda, recalled to me the day when he was asked, "If God answered all your prayers today, what would be the net effect?" His answer was simple -- he would be happy and healthy and stress free and so would all his friends and family. He was convicted of the selfishness of his praying! He was not asking for conversions, for godliness, for new churches, for new leaders. He was asking for his own comfort.
I find this to be the one core condition -- am I seeking from God those things which are most on his heart? I know his heart by studying Scripture and knowing what Christ died for . . . and that is Gospel-driven praying.
Thursday, October 05, 2006
I like easy answers.
I don't know about you, but I've had plenty of times when I wish everything were black and white. Of course, I still believe some things are black and white. But when I got to college, I discovered that perhaps when it comes to the peripheral issues of faith, there's a whole lot more gray than I realized or cared to deal with.
There's usually one song on every new album that strikes me first. It's the first one I loop endlessly on repeat until I have all the words memorized. For Derek Webb's Mockingbird, it's "A New Law":
don’t teach me about politics and government
just tell me who to vote for
don’t teach me about truth and beauty
just label my music
don’t teach me how to live like a free man
just give me a new law
i don’t wanna know if the answers aren’t easy
so just bring it down from the mountain to me
i want a new law
i want a new law
just gimme that new law
don’t teach me about moderation and liberty
i prefer a shot of grape juice
don’t teach me about loving my enemies
don’t teach me how to listen to the Spirit
just give me a new law
I believe this could be the theme song for my alma mater. For that matter, I believe it could be the theme song for a whole lot of Christians--including myself at times. Wrestling with issues like politics and art and liberty and justice is hard. It'd be a whole lot easier if someone just told me what all the "right" choices are. Then I wouldn't have to think for myself. Then I wouldn't have to actually interact with a living God who speaks to His children--I could keep a safe distance.
Wouldn't it be a whole lot easier if we got an itemized list of the dos and don'ts? Wouldn't it be easier if the New Testament were bullet points? And isn't that what we in the church try to do, with all of our guidelines about holiness and morality and expected behaviors? How many of us have wished for skywriting about an important decision, rather than plodding tentatively but courageously through the lessons which are the whole point of the journey? We want someone to spell it out for us because rules are easier than relationship. They require less of us.
But as Webb asks,
what’s the use in trading a law you can never keep
for one you can that cannot get you anything?
Easier, maybe, but dead--not life-giving. The law cannot give life. The Spirit gives life. "What the law was powerless to do...God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering" (Romans 8:3).
The New Testament doesn't go into a litany of specifics about detailed behavior control because that's not where the power is. That's missing the point. It was the Pharisees who felt a delicious sense of control and self-righteousness through a mindset of "I can follow this list and thereby earn favor." We all know how that turned out.
The fact remains that our self-righteousness is empty and insufficient. And we are not in control. A detailed list of extra-biblical rules leaves no room for the Spirit to work on hearts. It casts shadows on the beauty of the higher law--the law of love. God doesn't just want our behavior...He wants our hearts.
Have you listened to this song? Did you like it? Hate it? What do you think of the lyrics I've posted here? Add your two cents in the comments below...
- my friend Trina and her willingness to teach me to sew and lend me her sewing machine (I am attempting to make kitchen curtains...rest assured, if this amazing feat actually gets accomplished I will definitely be posting pictures)
- paper and ink
- friends who aren't afraid to speak hard, truthful words into my life
- vanilla milkshakes expertly made by my husband
- wonderful time of fellowship with some ladies from church on Monday night
- opportunity to have lunch with a friend of a friend who recently moved to Nashville
- timely and repeated reminders of God's promises from various sources
- the perfect obedience and sacrificial death of Christ which enables me to have a relationship with God
How about you?
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
We are often quick to acknowledge the Lord and seek His guidance in extraordinary situations. However, we assume we can “carry on…the ordinary matters of the day without his counsel.” God calls this self-idolatry and pride. How often I live as if I...am sufficient in and of my self to handle most things!
Note that two completely separate blogs have now talked about this within the last 24 hours. I seriously doubt Mark Lauterbach and the Mahaney women consult each other before posting, so this tells me one thing: It's God trying to get my attention. Unfortunately, He knows He has to tell me more than once, from more than one source, for the light bulb to go on in my head. Wow! How kind of Him to make it so clear that I need to sit up and take notice!
Webb's newest CD, Mockingbird, was released in December of last year. But on September 1, he began a three-month promotion, offering free downloads of the entire CD. To anyone. No strings attached. Not just listen to, but actually download and keep all the songs. Visit FreeDerekWebb.com, enter your zip code and email addresses of five friends who might like a free CD (don't worry--they promise not to save or distribute these addresses). Then start downloading. Webb encourages you to take the ten bucks you would have spent on a CD and donate to a charity (he lists a few on the download site), but there's really no catch.
Except that there is: The catch is that the music will get inside your head. The lyrics won't allow you to sit back comfortably and enjoy them. They'll challenge you. And that's the whole idea. Webb explains:
my most recent record 'mockingbird' deals with many sensitive issues including poverty, war, and the basic ethics by which we live and deal with others. but i found that music has been an exceptional means by which to get this potentially difficult conversation going. and this is certainly an important moment for dialogue amongst people who disagree about how to best love and take care of people, to get into the nuances of the issues. ...we hope this bold campaign will provide a jumping off point for conversations about all of these issues, and communicate my commitment to playing my part in starting them.I've had Mockingbird playing in my car for about two weeks straight. It's a great CD. And I figure if someone's going to give me a free CD, the least I can do is think through and talk about his ideas. Head over to the website and download the album, and then stay tuned--I'll be blogging about my current favorite song from the album later today. I hope you'll join the conversation.
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
There are many hindrances to prayer, but the greatest hindrance is in my heart. It is not really that I cannot reconcile a sovereign and a prayer-answering God. Let's get off our theological high horse and repent of thinking we can figure out the inscrutable ways of God. The real issue -- at least in my heart -- is self-sufficiency.