Sunday, December 20, 2009
Part of the problem I think is that we're not very good at rest. See, to my understanding, biblical rest is time in the care and attention of the Father. It's supposed to be time we take our hearts, hurts, concerns, joys and everything else and just be with God. Believe me, this is what our hearts desire. But we always seem to find time for other stuff, be they movies or trips or books or games or whatever. We tend to view rest much in the same way we did before we became believers, before Jesus became the supreme desire and draw of our hearts.
Do you struggle with this? Have you found anything to work?
God, take control of our break. Let it be dedicated and about you. Let our hearts be molded such that you are the apple of our eye, that our hearts leap at the thought of our communion.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Yup, we're going to have another little one! On July 12th, or there abouts, we'll be adding another child to our family. The ultrasound confirmed that there's only one in there, which is a relief. We would probably have to move for sure out of our apartment if we had twins! We're super excited! Noah will enjoy having someone else to show books to and throw balls at. We'll maybe have to watch that though. :) Noah was pretty cute at the doctor's appointment too. He was looking at the screen of the baby and saying "ball." Yup, sure. Something like that, I guess. Life will definitely change this summer.
The nice thing is that we'll probably be placed in Columbus this summer to coach interns and stinters who are raising support. We were originally supposed to go to Venezuela for the summer but we had no intentions of having a baby in Valencia, Venezuela! It will be pretty fun to coach people because we've been through what they're going through and we'll know a lot of them. There are quite a few graduating seniors at OSU who are applying for stint or an intern position so it will be a blast to stay connected with them while they're trucking through the support raising process. The other nice thing is that having a baby in July shouldn't really interfere with the beginning of school.
So we're slowly getting used to the idea of added chaos. Luckily we already have the stuff for a baby and lots of clothes to go along with it. Hopefully we'll be a little more prepared this time. :) Please pray with us for a healthy baby and healthy mom and that we would be able to take the next 6 months to prepare well for this new transition in our lives. We really appreciate it!
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Dr Phil, and our culture, would subtlely have us believe that if we could just figure out a healthy and mutually beneficial compromise in our marriage and family, then we will be ultimately happy. Just figure out a system in which you're both giving 50% and both taking 50% and you will gain marital bliss. I find this system quite wanting. For starters, people's felt needs differ greatly. Melissa, for example, has virtually no need to be affirmed. I could tell her she is great all day long and it does virtually nothing for her. But if she tells me how awesome I am, I will climb mountains and slay dragons for her.
So, let's assume that Dr. Phil's philosophy grants that each marriage partner has different needs and 50/50 won't always work (and it may, I really don't know all that much about what he thinks). Then, if I'm a single man, my goal is to find the most unneedy person I can; someone who has no emotional or physical needs at all is ideal because then I get what I want all the more frequently! If I only have to serve 20% of the time, then I get served 80% and that sounds better than the alternative!
Here's my main problem though, with our current culture's view of marriage. The entire premise is that marriage is about our happiness. Let's figure out a way to maximize our happiness so that we will be fulfilled. We seem addicted to happiness but I would suggest we seek it in the wrong places. What if, instead of using marriage as a drug to make us happy, we saw it as an avenue to grow our character and make us holy? What is parenting and marriage were more about refining us as people in the image of God than they are about us feeling happy?
Don't get me wrong, I think as we pursue holiness and character growth in marriage and parenting we will be happier, but the end goal will be our holiness, not our happiness. What if rather than helping Noah avoid uncomfortable and scary situations, I encouraged him to perservere through them, growing him as an individual? What if, rather than using Melissa to make me happier, I deny my happiness, and seek only hers?
I guess the main point is that believers and unbelievers have different ultimate goals. For unbelievers, and our current culture falls here, this life is all we have; thus, we should just try to maximize our enjoyments in the small time frame we have. They have no hope, no ultimate goal for which to strive. After death we return to dust, so let's eat drink and be merry! The believer, on the contrary, has a purpose in becoming more like Christ in this life and the next. Our lives are not about how to maximize our enjoyment in our stay here, but rather how to become more like God for eternity. Our scope is longer, do you see? Marriage and parenting are not for this temporary earth, but are relationships to help equip us for the joys to come.
See, Christianity is about joy and happiness also. But for the Christian his joy is found in Jesus. His joy is in growing in Jesus' character, in experiencing Jesus' pain, in loving the way Jesus loved. The Christian's joy is found in enjoying God. The alternative is to enjoy the creation of God rather than the creator. The unbeliever enjoys the pot while neglecting the potter.
I fear that was perhaps all over the place but there you are!
Monday, December 14, 2009
We're on break now, which is much needed. Fall quarter essentially consists of running yourself into the ground physically, emotionally, spiritually and any other "ly" you could think of! We're off till around the 27th when we head to Indianapolis for Christmas conference.
Our Christmas present to each other was a family zoo pass. We get to take all three of us and two guests whenever we so desire for the next two years. It's already been put to great use. Noah is playing in the play area above; He really seems to like the tunnels :) Really, he is more interested in the other kids than he is the animals, but we'll take it!
We're heading to Waynesfield for about a week before heading to Canton for a few days, then back to Waynesfield, and then off to Indy. The traveling is one thing we could do without over the holidays, but it seems it's unavoidable. It's great to see family and let Noah play with the grandparents and aunts, uncles and cousins though.
Monday, December 07, 2009
Yesterday we decided to get one of those family pasta deals from Bob Evans and they made the wrong pasta. We got to keep that extra as well! We walked out of there with two family pasta's (feed 4!) and half a dozen dinner rolls. I can only guess we'll be eating these leftovers for the foreseeable future.
I was thinking about these events and the God we serve. See, we don't really live in a culture, nor do we have needs in which God needs to provide water from a rock or manna from Heaven, but God does still provide. Many would see these events as happenstance or luck or coincidence. I believe that God cares for the needs of His people and will provide. God can use messed up orders to provide for the material needs of His children. He cares and provides for the sparrow, how much more for us?
PS Sorry for the lack of blogging lately. I'm planning on 9 or 10 more entries in December.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Monday, November 02, 2009
I was finding myself just really really tired. Emotionally, physically, spiritually, you name it, and I seemed to be drained. I was feeling a heaviness just about every day and in just about everything. I think, in very subtle ways, I began to abandon the Gospel the grace, even while simultaneously I taught it! I had made ministry and my life about my tasks and my work. I had been making leading and building students a job done out of myself alone. It's no reason I've been so tired.
Bunyan says, in The Pilgrim's Progress:
"Run John, run, the law commands
but gives neither feet nor hands.
But better news the Gospel brings,
it bids me fly and gives me wings."
I had made life about the law. I was about my tasks and responsibilities. I'm choosing repentance. I want to be about the Gospel. I want to be about the God that gives life. I'll find my joy and heart renewed in the person of Jesus. Join me. Leave the rat race and rest on the Lord.
"Come all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest."
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Then on Saturday, we went to a farm. They had pumpkins, rides, slides and animals. Noah had a blast. He really enjoyed the animals and some of the rides. Really, I think he enjoyed playing in the corn the most. And I, of course, enjoyed throwing Melissa's mom in it too! We have a video of that but I'll need to download it.
Going down the slide, he wasn't very impressed.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Thursday, September 17, 2009
We had a party for his birthday, and it actually happened on his birthday! He wasn't very excited about the cupcake, but he enjoyed it nontheless. We decided that this was the only real party we're going to have for him, so we figured we should make it fun. I think everyone enjoyed it. We had it at our church so we could fit all of the families, so it was nice to have everyone play ping pong, pool, play station and more and still have plenty of room to sit and eat. It was a lot of work, but it turned out great!
Saturday, September 05, 2009
It is just so hard to practically be aware of God's presence throughout the entire day. Seriously, try it; especially in our culture, I dare you. It seems we've gotten very good, and I the chief of all, at compartmentalizing God. We have "quiet times" and "prayer times" and then we go on throughout our day with little recognition of the reality of MT 28:20 that says "...I am with you whereever you go."
I do this so much that in thinking on it now I almost literally sick to my stomach. My thought is "ok, I've finished my time with Jesus, and I've finished my faithful acts (supporting raising stuff) today, so now I can enjoy myself! What's on tv?! What football games are on, or are coming up? How is my fantasy football team?" God takes the sidelines and Bart's pleasures take the forefront. It breaks my heart. Oh wretched man than I am, who can save me!? Where can I find hope?
I give my life to lesser things; sports, movies and the like. These things are not bad, but they are undoubtedly lesser. The presence of and intimacy with God in all things is a much more noble pursuit. I think you can enjoy God in the midst of sport, and I think you can enjoy God in the midst of games or movies or just about anything; but I just haven't figured out a healthy way to do it. I don't watch football, for example, and enjoy it with the Lord; I watch football and movies because they entertain, because I can shut off my mind and watch. I enjoy the neurological and emotional impulses those things bring. Really, to be completely honest, is it any different that simple self-gratification? Can entertainment of this sort be any different than a drug addict getting his "fix?" Help please, if you have wisdom on the topic. Share with me some insight into how you enjoy Christ in and during sport or television or video games or movies. I could use it.
And how do you not feel as though you are compartmentalizing God? When is entertainment "healthy" for you, and not just self-pleasure bringing?
My problem is we've gotten very good at justifying things. "I enjoy God's creation when I golf" or "I enjoy redemptive stories in movies because it makes me think of Jesus" or "I love reading because it sharpens my mind/imagination/knowledge/whatever which allows me to more fully grasp and love God." Those are very real things and I admittedly feel the same about all of them. But is it very different from "I just love golf" and "I love movies" and "I love books?" Do we just do whatever we like and then twist God into it? Is that really death to self? Is that denying all and embracing our cross to follow Jesus? I find this tension difficult.
Can you help? Do you have any advice or wisdom to offer?
Thursday, September 03, 2009
Nor less when He denies:
Affliction, from His sovereign hand,
Are blessings in disguise.
I can think of no better way to sum up the whole of our hearts than that saying penned by Brother Lawrence in the 15th century. God is good; His grace and mercy overflows our hearts and besieges our souls. God is good, though support be difficult. God is good, though we’ve lost $225 in monthly support in the last two weeks. This time, from His sovereign hand, is a blessing in disguise. He is working and reshaping our character to His good and perfect will. To thee, oh Lord, we bow in reverence.
On the whole, we have been raising support for about 13 months, and to be completely honest, we grow tiresome. The passion of our hearts is to engage students with the reality of the historical person of Jesus Christ, to see their lives change, and to watch the world be transformed by these students. From OSU we pray to send laborers the world over, in every occupational field imaginable to shake the world with the humble, love-led Kingdom of God. Since our support has not come in as of yet, we await our entry into this field. We rally partners to this cause and await God’s perfect timing; that we may embark on the quest He has laid before us.
But the school year is upon us! Surely you can imagine the tension we feel! On one hand we are drawn to embrace students returning from the summer, while on the other we are in need of support. This will be a difficult balance over the next few months; but, we trust that this is to God’s good pleasure. We have learned through this process that God’s business is to redeem and grow the character of His people. He is building in us a joy in Him above all else, that we may be patient and discerning. He is helping us to trust in the Holy Spirit’s leading in our lives to become wise regarding our time, our emotions and our hearts. James 1:2-4 says:
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
Monday, August 31, 2009
Saturday, August 22, 2009
We're clinging to that currently. We got news a few days ago that a foundation that has supported our ministry in a huge way has chosen not to this year. They may in the future but they cannot this year. The news was pretty bad for both of us, and we took it pretty bad. Lots of questions: Why would you do this God? Why can't we just be done with support raising? When can we move on? God, don't you care?
We know that God is more interested in growing our character than he is in doing what we want. Oh, praise Him that that is true. I could think of a hundred things that I/we have wanted but have been better off either waiting for or not getting at all. God is truly in control and we're especially grateful for that.
It's been a while but I'm still planning on finishing up my post on the Gospel (see a few posts ago). I have more thoughts I'd like to get down on paper...err... page. Whatever. In the meantime here's a couple pictures: Melissa thought the first one was hilarious.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
To update support, it's been a bit up and down lately. Lots of phone calls and emails and facebook messages have been sent out this week. Prayerfully they'll reap rewards. We're hoping to have 4 or 5 appointments this weekend.
I'm planning on posting at least one follow up to my post entitled "The Gospel." Read it if you haven't; hopefully I'll get to it this weekend.
Friday, August 14, 2009
Monday, August 10, 2009
Keller went on an on about what a meritocracy America is. That is, that we are a nation and people that base everything upon our merits. Have you done enough to deserve a good job? Have your test scores and grades been good enough to get into a good college? Are you a nice and good enough man to be worthy of a wife and family? Even, you will get presents for Christmas if you are a good little boy all year.
If yes, then you're good to go! A good job is yours! A good school, a good family are yours! If not, then you just don't deserve them. You get coal.
In Christian circles it's more subtle. Do you pray regularly? Do you share your faith? Do you study your Bible and know a great deal about it? If these things are true, you are a good Christian! If not, uh oh; you may not be a Christian at all, or so the thinking goes. At the very least, you are a bad Christian. You get no results in ministry, and you do little to impact other people. You aren't living a good enough life.
This meritocracy, or merit-based world we live in, is hard to shake from our psyche. You get what you deserve may as well be (a part of) the American motto.
I was doing this a great deal. Subtlely, I began to think that God was more pleased with me, and I was more loved if I was just more faithful. If I made more support calls that day, then God was happier with me. If I read the Bible more than God was happier with me. If I prayed a little more... you get the point.
And conversely, if I was not doing those things, than the guilt was heavy. God must not like me much today, I'm such a bum. God can't be pleased with me, I don't deserve it today.
The question, then, is this: Is that true? Is God happy with me when I'm good and upset when I am not? Is it true that Jesus loves (only, or so the implication goes) "good little boys?"
Saturday, August 08, 2009
I weighed in at 215 this morning, so I lost 6 lbs in one week! Sheesh! I stayed at the 2,000 calorie diet and let Jillian beat me around 5 times this week. I also went running twice. I must admit I feel more energetic, which is nice. As is true for most people, when I eat sloppily I just feel sloppily.
Jillian annoys me with some of the things she says though. "If you want abs like these you have to work" and "you don't get shredded overnight" or something like that. It annoys me because I feel like I'm investing in our culture's love of vanity. I'm not working out to look good, I'm working out to be fit. I could care less if I look good with my shirt off; I care that I live to see my grandkids and that I'm the kind of good father and husband that my son and wife need. Rant over.
We got Papa John's pizza last night per my wife's request and she let me get an anchovy pizza! It was stinkin awesome. I love anchovies though I only get them maybe once a year. I'm having leftovers tonight and I'm stoked.
Support has sort've hit a stall. This morning I made nearly 30 calls and talked to 2 people. One of the calls was super encouraging, but nonetheless, overall, the morning was a bit disappointing. We're so close, but we want to continue to rufn the race to win. We can't quit just because the finish line is in sight; we have to push harder.
Noah talked to us the other day. Well, ok, he didn't talk to us, but he signed "more." It was pretty exciting. We're communicating!
Hes breaking his fifth tooth in currently as well. The dude gets a bad runny nose and real congested when he breaks teeth; we just feel terrible for him. The best is when the snot runs into his mouth.
Thursday, August 06, 2009
Wednesday, August 05, 2009
Hopefully that last post made sense. Re-reading it I feel maybe I failed a bit at explaining my ideas, and the writing was a bit poor. Regardless, I'm moving on; my major objection for non-exegetical sermons (sermons that do not study, in depth, a particular passage of scripture):
My understanding of Sunday morning messages is that they are to teach. They are to mentor, or disciple, the attendees in the ways of faithfulness and Godliness. They are als to be wise in the way they do this.
Most messages these days are essentially pep-talks, or simple exhortations. By simple exhortation I mean a basic piece of advice. The pastor has essentially one point and then he rambles for 25-30 minutes about it:
"We should read our Bibles! Look at 2 Timothy 3:16 - The Word is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training.... Let's read our Bibles! If you have been struggling with reading your Bible lately, repent now and come to the altar. Today can be the day you change. Ok now, with every head bowed and eye closed... who here could use more Bible reading in their lives?"
Messages like this have one point, in this case to read your Bible. Why not just say it and move on?
Here's my problem. Why? Because the pastor gave me one random verse I'm supposed to just jump in? Besides, I have no idea how to read my Bible. Where do I begin? What about when struggles come? What are good resources? Why is it important?
I'm rehashing that I hate being told what to do; and to be honest I have a general distrust in a great deal of pastors these days. I've failed to move to my point I think, here is attempt number two.
A pastor's role, and I believe the role of the church, should be to grow the congregation. Seeker friendly churches and stuff like that just seem a bit off to me. The church should be about teaching and growing it's members, not watering things down so that the messages come in catchy topics. Bring the meat! Non-exegetical sermons fail to bring the meat. Pastors that do this fail horribly at equipping the congregation in it's knowledge and skill in using the Bible, and deciphering true and health exegesis. They are just dumbing things down to simple nuggets. No wonder we are so apathetic to things of God; it's for unintelligent robots that like being told what to do.
The outreach should be left to the members of the church, not for Sunday mornings. Let's leave the analogies and the catchy word-plays to the members of the church trying to reach the people that need such things (the unchurched). Let's bring the depth of knowledge and meat to those members of Sundays.
Sunday, August 02, 2009
Friday, July 31, 2009
I have lots and lots of thoughts from this last week and a half at CSU for crusade's national staff conference. Tim Keller was bringing it, as was just about everyone else I talked to.
Starting a diet tomorrow. Crusade has a wellness program in which they're willing to donate $5 to our staff account for every pound lost between now and January 1st. Sounds like incentive to me to lose 30 lbs or so! I'm probably around 225, but I'll officially weigh-in tomorrow and keep you updated. Eating at a cafeteria buffet all week definitely was not good for me, and neither was knowing the official weigh-in is august 1st; it made me want to chow-down until then. I haven't decided if I'm getting a gym membership or not, I'll go check it out today. I'm just considering running more and lifting a bit, but I'll add some junk into that should I get a gym membership.
Deeper thoughts coming tomorrow.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
So my first plane ride was pretty good! Now we're staying in the dorms at CSU. I'm not even a student yet and I'm living in the dorms. Not sure how I feel about that. The food is good.
Monday, July 20, 2009
If that flower doesn't say "laid back" I'm not sure what does!
Great time seeing the nieces also. Lots of cute pictures I'll probably post hereafter.
This week has been spent packing and getting everything ready to head to Colorado State University for 10 days for Campus crusade's staff conference. It's always fun traveling with a baby. Pfft.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Tuesday, July 07, 2009
Monday, July 06, 2009
The 4th was fairly uneventful. We had some family things, but I just wasn't feeling very well. I wasn't all out sick, yet anyways, just a bit under the weather. We went out with her mom and dad that evening to a chinese buffet and man was it good. It was good the next morning, also, except it was coming out instead of in.
I woke up Sunday at 3AM or so and never went back to sleep. Was on the toilet and puking for the majority of the morning, not a good time at all.
Worse yet, though, Melissa's mom and dad's dog Spencer (who was Melissa's puppy for five or six years I think) passed away Sunday morning as well. He wasn't old, but not young either, I think he was 10. It was emotional all around and I admit I would've been a lot more said if a parade wasn't going on in my nether regions. Melissa actually was petting him when he passed away. Spencer was a great puppy and he'll really be missed. They buried him that day and I was sad I didn't get to help or be there.
It's funny how we just bond with pets, dogs especially it seems. I've said it in joking, but I'm pretty serious as well, that dogs just represent a lot of Christ. They are super forgiving (you could yell and scream at them and the next minute they're right by your side), they are loyal, and the good ones like Spencer are obedient. Melissa used to joke in college that she didn't need a man because she had her dog. To a small extent I think she was on to something there. Obviously a friendship with a dog is a small glimpse of what we were created for, for intimacy with God and fellowship with each other.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Heres the situation. My younger brother is getting married in a week and a half, and his bachelor party will be this coming weekend, July 3rd and 4th. I found out about the date of the party about a month ago and was a bit dissapointed because I knew Melissa and I were busy that weekend. Melissa's family is having a get-together over the weekend and we had committed a few months ago that we would be coming. You see the dilemma: honor my word to Melissa and her family? or head to Canton to be with my brother to celebrate his bachelor party.
I chose the former, and I would do it a thousand times over. Melissa is first in my life (well actually a distant second to Christ). She is my world and my loyalty belongs first and foremost to my promises to her. Ephesians 5:31 says:
"For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh."
I have left my former family and have begun a new one with my bride. Yes, family still plays an important part in our lives, but it is secondary to my unity with Melissa. She comes first. This is a tough marriage lesson, but one that I hope I'm grasping better.
Anyways, my older brother was disappointed (and said my younger brother was also) that I couldn't come to the party. To his credit, he was looking out for my younger brother and make his wedding stuff special, which is a good and commendable thing. I tried to explain that we have prior commitments, and that my allegiance is to the things I've promised my wife. It saddens me that I'd dissappoint others by this, but I guess that's the way it goes.
Anyone else have similar issues? Is leaving and cleaving a difficult thing for you? Care to share?
Monday, June 29, 2009
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Today I got an email from a guy named Ekpes. He asked, "Why do wife inspite of what you do for them, love and care for them even owe debt just to satisfy them still nags at issues that worth nothing." A tough question. Here is my response:
Marriage is a difficult thing. I can definitely sympathsize with you, that I often feel like my wife and I are fighting over "little" issues. Really, I think, our fights are about deeper aspects in our hearts. When we fight over little things, it's usually our wives way of telling us that we've hurt her in some way. Perhaps we aren't loving her sacrificially? Perhaps we put other things before her? Perhaps we neglect her feelings or put her down? It's tough because we are sinful people, in need of grace ourselves, but our wives are as well. The only cure for stuff like this is Jesus. I love Hebrews 4:14-16 that says:
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathsize with our weakness, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
So, Jesus understands this plight! He was ridiculed, mocked and even betrayed. People thought he was crazy. Definitely Jesus understands what tough relationships were like. God would have us look to Jesus, who understands the frustrations we deal with, and accept the grace and mercy to cover over the sins! I would love to be in contact about this. Let me know how I can help! I will be praying for you.
Thanks for reading. I hope this encourages anyone in tough circumstances that may read.
Monday, June 22, 2009
"And Mary said: 'My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me– holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as he said to our fathers.'
Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home."
First, a few things to point out. One, Mary could be as young as twelve years old. That is the age at which young Jewish women begin to be given in marriage. Most think she is around 14. Imagine today! So, let's not over-spiritualize her, this is a 14 year old girl!
The context is that Mary was just called blessed by Elizabeth for believing in God and trusting His promises. Elizabeth says, "Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!" Mary is blessed! She bursts out into this song, called the Magnificat.
Mary breaks out in rejoice for God. Remember now, she probably isn't that pregnant. She is bursting out in absolute faith. She may not even be showing signs of a baby yet; the only evidence she has been given is John's leap in Elizabeth's womb.
I've emphasized two different things in this early church hymn. First, in bold, is the recognition that God is the actor. He is the initiator and the mover. He is mindful, He has done great things, He extends mercy, He performs mighty deeds, He scatters the proud, He brings down rulers, He lifts the humble, He fills the hungry, He sends the rich away, He helps Israel, and highlighting one of the main points in Luke, He keeps his promises, just like He said. Mary's recognition of this is awesome. God is the mover; all things are because of and brought about by Him. For me, it would read: He brings in our support, He is raising Noah to love Him, He holds our family together, He sets students' hearts ready to know Him, and many more! God is the actor of everything in our lives. What does it read for you? Do you recognize God's hand and control over every aspect of your life, as this 14 year old girl does?
Here is why Mary recognizes this so fully, and my second notation in the above passage; the italicized point out Mary's humility and brokenness before God. She is humble, she is the receiver of mercy, and she is His servant. She comes to God saying, 'I am yours. Nothing in me has earned your favor. Thank you for your mercy and use me as your servant.' This is where God has been setting my heart. I believe it starts by recognizing God is in control of all things, just as Mary does, and then moving forward knowing we have nothing especially great or good to offer.
God I am yours. Raise our support as you will. Raise our family as you will. I am your servant to accomplish your will in my life, family and community. Thy will be done.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
I'll get to Mary's prayer tomorrow. I'm excited for it, check back.
I just finished Angels and Demons by Dan Brown. Really good book. He does a great job at leaving cliff-hangers and forcing you to continue reading. It's just a very difficult book to put down, just ask Melissa! The Science v. Religion theme seems to dominate the entire book, for good and bad. I just wish people wouldn't read the book and claim Dan Brown's subtlely conveyed worldview as their own. To his credit, the guy is ridiculously intelligent, but he is no theologian or philosophical scholar on the existence of God or His church. Brown is just off on a few points, in both the Da Vinci Code and this book, which I will not go into here unless someone eagerly wants to know. But if you're looking for an entertaining and capitvating story, look no further than either of those books.
I'm curious what people will think about this, but we started a new family tradition on my brithday. We decided that for each of our birthdays henceforth we will receive no gifts. Rather, we will give gifts to every other person in our family. So, for example, on my birthday I got Melissa a CD and Noah a set of building blocks. I'm am super excited about this new tradition. If it is true that it really is better to give than to receive, than why not act this truism out on our birthdays? How great would it be to have a son that is more eager to give gifts and toys rather than hoard them for himself? Forget our son, what if that was my heart? It saddens me to see little kids (though I know this is the natural selfish sinful nature) tear through gifts only to ask, "Where is the next one!?" or "What else?" We want to do our best to instill in Noah a sense of giving. Additionally, we hope this will help our kid(s) learn to be excited about the achievements and special occasions of others. Granted it'll be for selfish reasons Noah is excited about my birthday and Melissa's, but that'll be a step from me having a hard-time even remembering my parents birthdays, far removed from anything even resembling excitments for them.
If this idea sounds familiar to you, it's because I stole it from JRR Tolkien's hobbit-world. This was the practice of Hobbits. They took the theme farther to give gifts to anyone coming to the birthday party; in Bilbo's case this was hundreds of hobbits.
I would love to hear what you think about this! Post comments below!
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Melissa was gracious and awesome. She sensed my despair and we went for a walk. She allowed me to vent for a bit and just listened. During this walk, I also allowed the Lord to join us, and allowed my frustrations and burdens to be placed on Him. It was rather awesome. I will not say all stress and pain was alleviated on that walk, but it helped a bit. I love my wife, and I love Jesus. I love that we have a Savior that, according to Hebrews is "able to sympathize with us" because He was "tempted in every way, just as we are, yet was without sin." Jesus knew what it was like to feel abandoned and even betrayed. He knew and embraced the cost of discipleship more than I could possibly hope to attain.
This verse hit me this morning. Luke 1:38. "'I am the Lord's servant,' Mary answered. 'May it be to me as you have said.'..." Pondering Mary has brought me great encouragement this morning. Mary said this following the Gabriel's announcement that she would be with child and He would be King Jesus. This made Mary's acknowledgement in v.38 rather huge. She would be totally ostracized for having been pregnant. She was not yet married! Obviously Joseph would have major objections! This was a heavy burden God was asking Mary to embrace.
It is easy to say, "I am the Lord's servant" when things are going splendidly; it is not at cost of mental, physcial, or emotional hardship. Mary knew her embrace of God's will was a costly one. This thought humbled me. Bart, you're embrace of God's call in your life is not an easy one. Following me is to embrace your cross.
Mary's humility following in her song floored me also. I'll discuss it tomorrow.
Thank you for your prayers. We will follow God no matter the cost.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Saturday, June 13, 2009
We got to go swimming together this morning. See above. I just like to smile. Smiling's my favorite. And when I'm done with my nap, we'll make baby food for two hours, then we'll go swimming, then we'll eat a whole roll of Tollhouse cookie dough as fast as we can, and then we'll snuggle.
Sounds like a good birthday to me. I hope you enjoy it Dad!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Mom & me, we love you a lot!
Sunday, June 07, 2009
And get "The Reason for God." Seriously, stop reading this ridiculous blog and go on Amazon and order it.
Saturday, June 06, 2009
Wednesday, June 03, 2009
Our different reactions were hilarious. Because it was thundering in the distance, Melissa was a bit worried. "Oh no," she kept saying, "We're going to orphan our child! Poor little buddy!" I laughed. My reaction was total bliss. I was hootin and hollerin; I even busted out in a few phrases of worship to God for His power and glory in creation. It was awesome. This was my favorite moment of my last year, undoubtedly. I was telling Melissa I'm going to do something like that in Heaven. The only things that could've enhanced the moment were Jesus walking on water beside us, and perhaps St. Augustine in a parallel canoe discoursing with me about theological matters. What a dream!
The time with Melissa was way overdue and was utterly sweet. I love my wife. For whatever reason, I forget that at times throughout the grind of life. I think I've taken for granted that she is my best friend, but that day and a half gave me time to just adore her in her beauty. She is more than my best friend, she is my princess and I'll storm the castle for her.
We got lunch at a little dinky joint called Etta's lunchbox cafe. Seriously, if you're ever in the area stop at this place. It looks totally pathetic and run-down, but they're famous nationally their food quality. Everything is delicious. We ate here on our honeymoon 4 years ago and just had to return.
It was good to forget about support and even Noah for a little bit and just focus on our marriage and where God is taking us together. I think we all need slow-down moments like that, and the $100 for a cabin is well worth it in terms of reorienting and rejuvenating our hearts.
Lord, slow us down daily, that we may look in your face and behold your beauty. Let us be captured by your radiance.