Thursday, August 31, 2006

"What more can He say than to you He hath said"

We are still going through the DVD series of last years Desiring God conference (Suffering and the Sovereignty of God) at church on Wednesday nights. Last night we listened to David Powlison speak on Christ's grace and your sufferings. I was really encouraged as he went through the hymn "How Firm a Foundation", which is one of my favorite hymns if not my favorite. Mr. Powlison went through 6 of the stanzas and explained/laid out what they were about and how they were laid out.

But what really struck me was his explanation of the first stanza

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
You, who unto Jesus for refuge have fled?

He said that this stanza was an exhortation from believers to each other, reminding us that our faith has a foundation that is unbreakable and deep. It has a solid basis. The scriptures have said this, which is what God has said.

He then goes into the line "What more can He say than to you He hath said" and to paraphrase what Mr. Powlison said:

There are a lot of questions that come up when studying scripture. God in his providence did’n't give us all the answers. What more could he have said? When it comes down to what matters, good and evil, love and hate, salvation and destruction, the character of the living God and the nature of the human heart, what more could he have said. There is nothing more that needs to be said. He has said it all.

This was just a great reminder and encouraging to me to know that we have all that we need revealed to us in scripture.

If you'd like to hear for yourself, the sermon is available on the Desiring God website.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Random thoughts...Sin, confession

“if I am not confessing sin I am confessing sinlessness. And we know that does not happen.” Mark Lauterbach

Lately I have been giving some thought to the topics of sin and confession. I am trying to remind myself that the “little” sins (sins we as humans might not deem as bad as murder, stealing, adultery, etc) are just as terrible in the sight of God and that there is no reason for me to take these “little” sins, or any sin, lightly. Jesus death on the cross for sins that he had not done, but that we may be saved should show the vileness of all sin.

Confession, I must remind myself, is not to be taken lightly either. “Confession to God is not merely admitting our sin as real but also rejecting our sin as repulsive.” (John Piper). If I find myself refraining from confession I need to ask myself what is going on. Is it because I am without sin? That’s foolishness! 1 John 1:8 "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." Or is it because I fail to see the vileness of sin? Or some other reason?

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Getting ready for Labor Day

This week we’ll be gearing up for a fairly busy Labor Day weekend. We will have several groups coming this weekend, Lord willing, to continue serving the Lakeshore, Waveland, and Bay St. Louis area. We are continuing to work at Ms. Redford’s and Ms. Lynn’s and with each group that comes getting a little closer to getting their houses finished.

We have also done a lot of work at Ms. Laura Lambert’s trailer. Ms. Lambert’s trailer was flooded, but has been leveled, gutted out, wired, insulated, had some siding put on.

The office is coming along. There was a team here from Baton Rouge on Saturday to help paint the trim. This will be Pastor Don's office.

The distribution center is still very busy, seeing some days over 500. This is the line that formed this past Wednesday morning. We also had a donation of 50 children’s bikes come in. We were able to give those out to community members

I had the privilege to meet Mr. Malcolm the other day. We have been working on Malcolm’s place for a couple of months now, but I had never met him or been to his house. It was very encouraging for me to listen to him speak of the volunteers that have been to his house and how his life has changed since the storm. He explained how he now has compassion on those who are going though similar things. I also got to go visit the team that was working at his house this past Saturday. The team from Star, MS was laying tile and putting door handles on, making the house more into a home.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Am I being stupid?

I was reading Bob Kauflin's blog "Worship Matters" and for Monday's devotional he asks the question "am I being stupid?". It was a great entry (in my opinion) on obeying Proverbs 12:1 "Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid."

Here are a couple of exerpts from his entry, but read I encourage you to read the whole thing for yourself.

"I’ve been aware of my desire to love the encouragement and avoid hearing anything critical. I tend to have the same attitude after I preach a sermon. But God tells me that if that’s my attitude, I’m stupid. He wants me to LOVE reproof and discipline, not run from it.

Why? I can think of a few reasons. Loving reproof makes me more aware of my need for God’s grace in my life. Loving reproof helps me fight my inherent craving for self-exaltation. Loving reproof is a sign that I need others in the process of sanctification. Loving proof is a way of acknowledging I have blind spots and that I don’t know EVERYTHING.

Here are a few ways I try to cultivate the love of discipline and reproof (and I still have a long way to go):

1. Pray for reproof. That’s right. Ask God to bring people into your life who will point out where you’re making mistakes, sinning, or could do things better.
2. Expect reproof. Be on the lookout for it. I find that when I’m surprised by critical feedback from others, it’s usually because I'm looking for their praise.
3. Ask others for input. That’s why we hand out evaluation forms at the conferences. We read every one of them. They have been invaluable each year for making the next conference better. It’s best to ask people for input when they have time enough to think about it, and are convinced that you really want to hear it.
4. Thank people for reproof. It’s rarely easy to reprove someone else. When a friend approaches me and says they want to share something with me (and I don’t get the feeling it’s encouragement), I want to make sure I thank them for caring enough to give me input, whether I agree with them at the moment or not.
5. Ask questions about reproof. Oftentimes, people don't say everything they're thinking. Ask them to elaborate, expand upon, or fill out what they're saying. It will help you hear it more clearly and respond more humbly.
6. Thank God for reproof. Every critic is a gift from God. God is the one who enables others to overcome their fears and tell us what we need to hear. What an evidence of God’s kindness!"

End of the summer update

The summer is about coming to an end, and that leaves me trying to figure out where it went. This summer has been a great time of growth for me in several aspects of my life. I admit it’s hard for me to even know where to begin, because there’s just so much and a lot of that is hard for me to put into words. But here I go:

  1. The Lord has blessed me with great friends and fellowship. I knew coming down here that for the most part I’d be around Christians a lot of the time, but I didn’t know that I’d be blessed with such great friends. And meeting people from all over the United States and being able to have conversations with them has been much fun but relationships that I have made with folks from here has truly been a blessing.
  1. I’ve been encouraged to think theologically and know that as a female it’s alright to be thinking theologically (while I never thought it was wrong I felt a bit out of place when discussing theology since not many of my female friends didn’t care to learn and felt like others thought it wasn’t necessary for females to know).
  1. Realizing my frailty and sinfulness and the need to lean on God and his strength and power. It is humbling when I come to the point of realizing that I am acknowledging God in provision and doing so much work here, but I fail to run to him and fully trust and rather being self-sufficient. I came to realize very quickly that if I was going to be self-sufficient I wasn’t going to make it too long. Not everyday has been easy, but then when was that ever promised. But I definitely see a difference in the times I am trying to be self-sufficient rather than being in prayer, reading scripture, and trusting God.
  1. Seems small but huge to me…Realizing the advantages of singleness and seriously enjoying it. Still I’m pretty sure I don’t have the gift of singleness and don’t desire to be single forever; however, at this point I love it and realize that there is no need to be in a hurry.
  1. I’ve been stretched this summer beyond what I ever could have thought. And busier than ever. But still have had a lot of fun. Working as a project coordinator and mainly coordinating the inexperienced teams has been an experience in itself. Like we say around here a team of experienced workers will work on a project for a couple of days, but a group of teens will work on a site and have the work done in a couple of hours, and be ready to move on to the next project. It has kept me busy and hasn’t left much time to be shy. But I have been able to meet many teens, adults, and community members.

I know there is much more that I have learned and experienced so far, but to be able to communicate it is difficult without rambling, so I’ll spare you.

There has been a lot to learn this summer and we have kept busy the entire time summer; this week, however, we are pretty quiet around the church grounds. We have one family volunteering this this week and had a day team come in on Monday, but that's it for this week. With the beginning of the school year our numbers have dropped a lot, but there is still plenty to be done here on the gulf coast and a need for more folks to come help.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Brief reflections

I was able to stop by Ms. Malstrom's camper yesterday and chat with her for a while. The church has sent several teams over to her house this summer and she almost ready to move in, she is hoping to be in within the next month. Basically just waiting on the gas company and a refrigerator and stove, then she'll be able to get in. She took me in to see the progress that has been made. It is such a cute little place now.

Through the course of the summer I have had some time to reflect on what is happening all around me, however, as I try to explain it the words I can come up with don't seem like enough. But in a very brief summary: It has been awesome to see the ways God is working here. Working in the hearts and lives of folks around here and in other parts of the country; seeing the church stand firm on the truth; provision for the biggest of needs and the smallest; and seeing folks frodifferentnt denominations, states, walks of life come together and unselfishly serve along side each other.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Work, growth, and conviction

Much continues to be worked on here in Lakeshore. Teams are out working in several homes laying floors, putting up cabinets, putting in air conditioners, and ministering to the grieving. We have several small teams here at the moment and it has been fun getting to know some of the volunteers a bit better. One family that is here now John & Shannon and their 2 children from Maryland share a love of scripture and the doctrines of grace and it has been enjoyable to talk with them and get to know them as they serve.

This past Wednesday night we changed things up a bit for the church service. We watched a DVD of The Desiring God conference held last fall. John Piper preached to us last night and fit about 30 sermons into 55 minutes. He was preaching on God’s Sovereignty over Satan and evil. It was pretty intense and I am sure I missed part of what he was saying at times, but I was encouraged this morning when I heard that one of the members was having a hard time with one of the points Piper was making. I was encouraged that folks were really thinking about what they were hearing and questioning things that didn’t make sense. It is apparent that God is working in the hearts of the folks here in Lakeshore and the members of Lakeshore Baptist Church.

As I was reading my email this week and checking several blogs I came across numerous times a fresh words letter that John Piper recently wrote. It was very convicting and really made me think about what comes out of my mouth. Entitled "Talking to people Rather than about them" it is definately worth a read.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Total Depravity...and biking...

"It is a sad, harmful, and evil characteristic of sin not to recognize how serious it is and to excuse it by treating it lightly." - Dr. James Montgomery Boice

I am excited I finally finished the "Amazing Grace - The History & Theology of Calvinism" DVD. It was very helpful in helping me to understand even more about the doctrines of grace. I warned ya'll that I'd be writing more about calvinism. There is a lot concerning total depravity that I could touch on (many sermons and chapters of books are devoted to this).

Total depravity meaning we are completely unable to do any good in the eyes of God including believing the gospel. Each person is sinful and not right with God, this is all caused by the fall. There was one part that really hit me though and it is the difference between the words can and may.

Can is a word of ability. May is a word of permission.

This is important to take into consideration when looking at John 6:44-45

John 6:44-45 (ESV) 44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. 45 It is written in the Prophets, 'And they will all be taught by God.' Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me—

See in verse 44 Christ says that no one can come... Knowing that can is a word of ability, this verse is saying man cannot choose whenever he is ready. If it were left up to us on our own to follow Christ or not, we would never choose him because our hearts are full of sin. God draws people to himself, and that is the reason people are able to come.

Another installment of "When interns get bored" (still which almost never happens)....
Before the "M" here in Lakeshore and before I had gotten my car back from the shop my co-worker Greg gave me a gift. A gift that once the bosses left site I had a great deal of fun on. If only ya'll could come watch me make a fool of myself on my rusty old child's bike...

Sunday, August 13, 2006


I have had the opportunity to get a couple of days away from Lakeshore in the past few days. Friday I took my first trip to New Orleans with my pastor's wife and another volunteer. I had a great time walking around New Orleans and stopping in some of the stores along the way. I could have walked around all day just taking in the sights. I also ventured into my first tattoo shop, no tattoos for me though. But I did get a chance to play a couple decent guitars that were in a little hole in the wall guitar store.

Today I ventured off to Mobile, AL. I just felt like taking a ride, since I have gotten my car back and the a/c works! and I had never been to Alabama. I didn't stop really to do anything. I was content just to drive around and enjoy the beauty of God's creation. It's bit different than the surroundings here in Lakeshore.

Pastor Don began this week a series through the book of Nehemiah. I am really quite excited about this.

Work here in Lakeshore continues to go on. And this weekend we were able to get Ms. Bula into her house, so that is really exciting. We still have a few teams coming and going, working here on the church property, in the warehouse, and in people's homes. The distribution center is still a very busy place, many folks are still in need of the basics.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

A Mighty Fortress is our God

A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.

That word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him Who with us sideth:
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.

-Martin Luther
Psalm 46:1-3
God is our refuge and strength,a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam,though the mountains tremble atswelling. Selah

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Uniforms, distribution, and Mississippi's largest M

As time goes on we are getting closer and closer to moving into the new office and out of the camper. We recently got the power on and air conditioner running, this morning it was a brisk 65 degrees in the office. Though there are still a few things that need to be done before we can fully move in.

Our team from Texas has been working hard doing many different tasks. A team of 11 is spread pretty thin between helping in the kitchen, helping in the distribution center/warehouse, and putting up drywall, but they are doing a good job. Tomorrow we will give away uniforms for the Gulfview elementary school children, which we have been collecting over the last couple of months. The other day we were blessed with a few hundred uniform shirts, shorts, and pants.

The distribution center saw another busy day. I’m not sure of the final count for the day, but around 11:30am about 310 people had already come through. This is the line that started forming around 8:30am, a half hour before the store opens.

When interns get bored... (which doesn’t happen often):
So we filled in the bog that was behind the Quonset hut with part of the crushed up elementary school from down the road. Now we have the highest point in Hancock County behind the cemetery, well maybe not the highest but gave me a hill big enough to build on. I’ve told them back home we have the worlds largest “M” and they have seen my “I’ve climbed the worlds largest “M” t-shirt” so I decided to bring a little bit of home to Mississippi. The side of the hill gave me a place to put it.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

What the gospel is not...

I came across this as I was reading the other day and thought Mark Dever made some good points about what the gospel is not. The article can be found at

1. I’m Ok, you’re OK

Sin is humanity's biggest problem, not self-esteem.

  • Sin does not just make my heart desperately sick. It kills me as a person apart from the gracious and saving influence of God's Spirit. I was DEAD in my trespasses and sins, and I was earning death as a paycheck for my diligent disobedience.
  • Humanity's biggest problem is that our own sin has shut us up to spiritual death - eternal separation from the God whose fellowship we were created to enjoy, and servile slavery to the power and penalty of sin.
  • If we consistently or deliberately omit sin from our preaching or from our evangelism, we are preaching a different gospel, and need to repent of this sin and preach God's truth with bold, counter-cultural clarity. The gospel is NOT that we are all OK with God.

2. God is love

  • "God is love" is commonly misinterpreted and therefore misused. It is increasingly popular today to trot out 1 John 4:8, "God is love," and then assume that God's love is the only divine attribute that has any functional significance in the way He relates to people.
  • Simplistically equating God with love leads to error.
    • Mathematically, if God = love, then love = God. If God becomes equated with love, then love has become God.
    • Theologically, we know that many other things characterize God besides love - the Bible presents God as holy, sovereign, and a whole host of other things.
    • So to reduce God or His gospel to just love is crass idolatry that caricatures the King of Kings.
  • It would not actually be good news for sinners to learn that the only attribute out of which God acts towards His created people is love. If God were so singularly amiable, from whom would we seek retributive justice for wrongs suffered? Is it really good news to learn that Judge of all the universe is willing to forgive sin without punishing it? The gospel is NOT simply that God is love.

3. Jesus Wants to be my friend

"Christianity is not a religion, it's a relationship."

Ever heard that? It's true enough, isn't it? God has taken us in as His adopted sons and daughters (Rom 8:14-17; Gal 4:4-7). Jesus is not ashamed to call us his brothers (Heb 2:11-12). And whoever does the will of the Father is considered by Jesus as family (Mark 3:31-35).

But have you noticed that some people attach the implication that Christianity is simply Jesus wanting to be my friend or brother, along with a subtle appreciation for the irony of casual familiarity with the divine.

  • Yet Christianity is not simply a casual friendship with Jesus, because the gospel is not simply the cultivation of a friendship or even the following of another's example. The gospel involves God's holiness, our sin, the payment of a ransom, the conferring of an acquittal, the winning of a war, and ultimately the glory of God and the spread of His fame.
  • The gospel is referred to in the Bible not only in relational, but in economic, military, and legal language. Thus to pigeonhole Christianity as merely a relationship is reductionistic. The gospel certainly does enable us to have a relationship with God through Christ Jesus, but it is also more than that.
  • To say that Christianity can be summed up by the idea that Jesus wants to be my friend is a man-centered way to view the gospel. It assumes that the gospel is only or primarily about bringing man into a personally fulfilling relationship with God, rather than about bringing glory to God for His grace, mercy, kindness, faithfulness, justice, and love. The gospel is not simply that Jesus wants to be my friend.

4. We should straighten up and fly right

Some say that the gospel is simply the message that I need to change my behavior. The good news is seen as consisting in a set of virtues, biblical and otherwise. If I am busily enough engaged in these virtues, I will be pleasing to God and helpful to others.

If the gospel is just a change of outward behavior accomplished on my own, regardless of the state of my inner self - then the gospel is reduced to mere moralism. In other words, we've begun to think that the gospel penetrates no deeper than the level of outward moral renovation, when in reality the gospel penetrates to the level of inward spiritual transformation.

This tendency to moralism is often the danger of preaching that treats Scriptural texts and characters as mere examples to emulate or avoid instead of as integrated scenes and characters in the grand story of redemption writ large on the canvas of human history.

The gospel is not merely an additive that can make our already good lives better. Nor is it a commandment to live rightly that we can obey by digging down deep within ourselves. The gospel is not simply that we should live right.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

real quick...

This past week was a bit slower in that we had only one team working most of the week (15 folks compared to 210 is a bit slower). But this team, from Vinton Iowa, worked hard and had fun. Though we were on fewer work sites, the distribution center saw one of it's bigest days ever. On Wednesday 533 people came through the distribution center to get food, clothing, and other items.

Ms. Lynn's house is coming right along as well. Part of the team from Iowa was in there hanging sheetrock this week. Ms. Redford's house is still waiting on a few things before she is able to move in.

For the folks I haven't told yet:
All along I have been considering staying in Lakeshore a bit longer. So in the past week or so after much prayer and consideration I have made the desicion to stay here until December.

The Gospel

I am convinced that many of today’s churches are lacking an essential component. They got the fancy music, a program/class for any age group/gender/problem/etc., comfortable pews/chairs, large/attractive facilities, among other things. Do not hear me say that these things are altogether bad, I enjoy beautiful churches and comfortable pews, too. But these things alone without the gospel are dangerous. I know there are many churches today that rarely if ever preach the gospel, giving their folks a false sense of eternal security by not preaching the Bible, but just getting the folks into the church on a Sunday morning to tell them some nice happy story, never sharing truth with them about Christ, his death on the cross, and the death he died so those who believe would not see the terrors of hell. Sorry folks but just coming to church on Sunday morning does not make you a Christian. No one will get into heaven by just attending one church service or attending church every weekend for their whole life.

There is only way to heaven and that is through a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Any good work we do will not get us there, we could try forever to do good, yet fall so short. Romans 3:10-12 says “as it is written “None is righteous; no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks God, All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one” There is no one who does good, we are all born dead in sin. Romans 3:23 say all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We are born into sin, but sin results in death. Not just a physical death but also a spiritual death. Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” But hear the second part of the verse, the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Before receiving this free gift we must recognize that we sinners and that we are separated from God because of sin and we are in need of a mediator. "Your iniquities have separated you from your God" (Isa. 59:2).

Jesus Christ is that mediator and came to this earth to be a ransom for many.
"There is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men" (I Tim. 2:5-6).

God sent his only Son to show his love for us, in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8). Christ died upon a cross for the sins of men, though he had never sinned himself. He died that we may have life
"He himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness" (I Peter 2:24).

A person must believe that Christ alone died, that he was buried and raised from the dead on the third day for the sins of many. Acknowledge that there is no other way to be saved from the depths of hell, but through believing in and trusting Christ.
“He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:36).

“And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

To this good news we are called to respond in repentance and belief, meaning turning away from our sin and self-sufficiency, and turn toward God and trust that Christ’s bleeding and dying on the cross was the only substitute for the penalty we truly deserve for our sin.
The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel (Mark 1:15).