Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Food for Thought

Recently Allen and I were having a conversation about a book that he is reading, which reviewed the way that we as people had changed over the past century. It noted that we cannot read. Inundated with all sources of the media around us, pictures, blogs, catalogs, advertisements, magazines and even some books have come to be filled with many more pictures and many less words than they used to or they are a new form of media altogether that focuses less on reading and more on skimming, or glancing at pictures.

I admit that I skim blogs with the best of them. I look at your pictures, scan the words and then click "Mark All As Read" so that I can keep caught up with everyone on my Google Reader.

Maybe this shouldn't be so.

Perhaps, in effort to guard my time and choose not what is "okay" for me to do but what is MOST beneficial, I should choose just a couple blogs and internet resources that are an encouragement, challenge and exhortation to me, and certainly only visit those blogs after I have given time to the Lord, my children and it happens to be nap time when I don't actually need one.

I'm not saying this has to be everyone's strategy, but being in the season of life that I am in with small children, this will be most beneficial to me. But, regardless of the season of life you are in, spending unprofitable time on the internet is not being careful with our time, which should be shaped by biblical priorities.

I guess the question we should ask ourselves is, "Does this hinder me? or Is this keeping me from valuable reading/study or meeting with people?" and take it from there.

Now, the whole point of this blog post, an exceptionally good reason to carve 15 minutes out of your day:

Do you READ?

Why or why not?

If the answer is no or not as much as I would like, check this out (courtesy of John Piper):

Suppose you read about 250 words a minute and that you resolve to devote just 15 minutes a day to serious theological reading to deepen your grasp of Biblical truth. In one year (356 days) you would read for 5,475 minutes. Multiply that times 250 words per minute and you get 1,368,750 words per year. Now most books have between 300 and 400 words per page. So if we take 350 words per page and divide that into 1,368,750 words per year we get 3,910 pages per year. This means that at 250 words a minute, fifteen minutes a day you could read about 20 average sized books a year!

You will not be the same person next year at this time. Your mind will be stretched, your heart enlarged, your zeal more fervent. Above all you will have grown in wisdom. And it may not be long until someone says of you: "the words of his mouth are as deep waters; the fountain of wisdom is a gushing spring" (Proverbs 18:4).
Now, if you are a member of New Life, I just want to encourage you to read along with us in Total Church. It's an amazing book and it is serving to get the entire body of believers on the "same page" regarding the goals of the church and ministry together. New Life's blog is also following along through the chapters, so make sure to check that out.

I hope this challenges you that even if you aren't a self-proclaimed reader, you can do this. Anyone can. And how much more worthwhile to say at the end of the year that you read 10 books than to say that you saw some cool websites or blogs during the year.

If you need ideas of what to read, please checkout my book list on the right sidebar of this blog. These are books that Allen and I wholeheartedly endorse.

One last challenge: share what you are learning with someone else. Don't keep it to yourself!


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Discipline of Grace

I absolutely MUST recommend this book. It is by far and away one of the most helpful, comprehensive books on the Gospel that a Christian will ever read and understand.

As Christians I know we think and you must be thinking, "I know the Gospel, why would I read a book about it?"

One of the things I have been learning the past 4 or so years of my life is that the Gospel is a daily thing. I read the Cross-Centered Life when we were becoming members of a Sovereign Grace church in NC about 4 years ago and it enlightened me to the concepts that a Christian should be familiar with.

Preaching the Gospel to yourself..."continually face up to your own sinfulness and then flee to Jesus through faith in His shed blood and righteous life"

  • AGREE with our conscience about our guilt and then remind ourselves that our guilt has already been borne by Christ
  • REMEMBER that God himself devised a way for His wrath against sin to be fully executed apart from our actually experiencing His wrath

"It is not our contrition or sorrow for our sin, it is not our repentance, it is not even the passing of a certain number of hours during which we feel we are on some kind of probation that cleanses us. It is the blood of Christ...that cleanses our consciences and gives us a renewed sense of peace."

Since having kids and feeling like I am continually falling short by my lack of patience, frustration and even anger toward them at times, it has become an easier realization (and my goal) to go to the Lord in those times of struggle as I realize how sinful I am and how much I actually need him. It's so easy to feel like we can handle things on our own UNTIL we fall incredibly short and realize our need for a Savior. Why not just admit this BEFORE we fall short? Why not preach the Gospel to ourselves BEFORE we fail? Not to say that this will prevent us from failing, but it may help, comfort and challenge us to pursue a life of holiness through Christ and help us to succeed in our daily struggles, whether it be in thought or action.

Bridges uses the analogy of having a "good" and "bad" day spiritually to portray our thoughts toward God based on our performance mentality.

On a bad day spiritually, we fall short, we know it and then we feel guilty. Here are some scriptures to combat those feelings:

  • Christ bore our sins in his own body...1 Peter 2:24
  • By faith we appropriate the blood of Christ to cleanse our conscience...Hebrews 9:14
  • He justifies the wicked (sins are merely the expression of my sinful heart)...Romans 4:5
  • There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus...Romans 8:1

On a good day spiritually, we have read our Bibles, prayed and are feeling pretty good about ourselves. Here are some scriptures to combat those feelings of pride, like we can do anything to earn our standing before God:

  • Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect...Matthew 5:48
  • Whoever keeps the whole law but stumbles at one point is guilty of breaking all of it...James 2:10

We are ALWAYS dependent on God's grace.

"God never intended that we relate to Him directly. Our own performance is never good enough to be acceptable to Him. The only way we can relate to God is through the blood and righteousness of Christ."

As those who are dependent on God's grace, a deep sense of gratitude and of Christ's love for us is what motivates us toward a life of committed discipleship, not duty or guilt. A heart that doesn't trust in Christ won't be able to be committed because it may be out of obligation or guilt, or perhaps even a desire to change but without the power to do so.

I plan to blog some more on this book. This post just scratches the surface of the goodness and truth that is contained in it.

I hope this challenges you to live differently, to think differently.

Don't just read this and move on. As a matter of fact, many of you probably just skimmed over this blog post. I understand, I do the same thing sometimes. But I challenge you to take a moment and consider how you can preach the Gospel to yourself this coming week and then actually do it. See if it doesn't change your perspective on God, on your day...


Monday, June 15, 2009

Preggo Update

It seems crazy to me that (potentially) the 5th member of our family will be arriving in 6 weeks! Is it possible that I have already been pregnant for 7 1/2 months? Moms of multiple kids told me it would be hard to keep up with how "far along" I was and I completely concur. When someone asks me that question, I turn to the closest woman to me, (who is due in July, of course) ask her how far along she is and then figure out mine based on hers.

So far so good with regards to the pregnancy. I am becoming less and less active the bigger I get, but I am still feeling good and somewhat lively. Although, the chasing the kids around the house and piggybacking them has really slowed down. Taylor Joy understands, Beckett...not so much.

This weekend a lovely baby shower was thrown for me and it was such a sweet blessing. Being surrounded with many friends and family was a blessing, receiving thoughtful gifts that will bless our little one and being prayed over specifically for me, the baby and our family was something I will treasure always.

Having friends and family who love me pray over specific requests in regard to the rest of my pregnancy, the delivery, the recovery, the baby, my family's adapting to the new baby, this baby's life and spiritual development is one thing that really blesses my socks off. After praying with these women, I always feel a deep sense of gratitude for the care and concern they have for my family, a thankfulness for the Lord's hand in everything and excitement/readiness for this baby's arrival!

I completely recommend taking part in this at the next shower that you host. It will bless your guest of honor beyond words. In case you don't even know where to start, I'm going to put the prayer points we prayed for my baby to get you started.

- to make nursing uncomplicated and enjoyable
- to give Mom extra energy and a swift recovery
- for baby's disposition to be easy and good-natured
- for siblings to adjust quickly to baby
- for Mom to have special time with older siblings now and once baby arrives
- for grace to siblings so that they still feel connected to Mom and don't become jealous and disobedient
- to give Dad wisdom in how he serves Mom and that the Lord will direct him in how to minister to her
- for Mom to continue to seek the Lord when things are running smoothly and not so smoothly
- wisdom and grace for Mom and Dad as they shepherd their children
- the body of Christ to come alongside Mom and Dad and take active role in pointing them to Christ
- that baby will trust Christ as Savior at a young age and will treasure his/her inheritance as a Son/Daughter of God
- that baby would grow in faith and obedience and in love for God, not love the world or the things of the world and that baby would love the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind and strength and fear the Lord
- that baby would hate sin and love godliness, appreciate discipline and instruction, be quick to repent and not be stubborn before the Lord
- for baby's protection against Satan and evil, a firm stance during persecution, patience in affliction that looks to God and trusts in His faithfulness
- that baby would grow to treasure God's Word and stand up for truth and be free from deception and the lies of the evil one as well as having a great understanding of the Word
- that baby would grow to be responsible and loving in their relationships with others, walk in humility and look to the needs of others
- that baby would choose godly influences, be led to good friends and way from bad ones, and to marry a godly mate
- that baby would grow to desire inner beauty and godly character as they grow more Christ-like daily, that they and their future mates would be kept pure both before and after marriage
- that baby would grow to be fully devoted to Jesus Christ and joyfully invested in the cause of the kingdom

This obviously isn't an exhaustive list, but may help some of you with a starting point.

And, if you'd like to continue to pray these things for me and my family, I certainly wouldn't mind...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Picture Update

We've been keeping busy with VBS this week, but I wanted to post some pictures I've taken recently of the kids. We went to the splashpad last week and it was Beckett's first time to truly experience it and he had a blast!

Check out the pictures from the splashpad and other cutie patootie pictures!

A pregnancy update is coming soon...the belly is extra huge so a picture is in order!

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