Friday, December 29, 2006

In Review....

As I take some time to reflect and breathe, I feel like I just arrived in Lakeshore the other day, the past 6 months have flown by. But I am grateful for the opportunity to be serving in Lakeshore and work along side the crew that I do. The task is big, but our God is so much bigger.

So I know I blogged a couple weeks ago what Sarah from Florida learned when she was here, but I thought I'd share a few of the many things that God has taught me, the things I have learned by experiencing and moving to an unfamiliar place and different culture, and the lessons that I learned as a volunteer working in a small church in a place a little over a year ago I had never heard of.

These are just a few of the lessons, I am sure there are things that I have learned that

1. Without trying to sound generic…Trying to do things in my own strength, might get me through a day or even a few, but the reality is if I’m not relying on God to get me through, I become easily frustrated, very tired, proud, and probably hard to work with.

2. Seeing women get excited about studying scriptures and contemplating them, will encourage and get you excited as well, at least it does me.

3. As much as I disliked cell phones before, Cell phones can come in handy when you need to talk with your sister or a friend who are 1200 + miles away. Or when you’re stuck in a gas station parking lot with a flat tire and need a couple of friends to come rescue you.

4. The more time you spend with a group of people, the more you realize they are human just like you.

5. You can make a really great friend in less than a week.

6. Maybe sounds a bit elementary, but I sometimes need to remind myself - Prayer is essential, not just in the mornings or evenings, but all throughout the day.

7. A church rat is no match for Jamie with an ironing board.

8. Sometimes you just have to do something crazy or out of the ordinary.

9. There are a few things in Mississippi that creep me out…mostly the wild life…

    • Big hairy looking spiders no matter where they are.
    • Snakes in the sanctuary
    • Rats in my bedroom
    • Roaches in the shower

10. Sometimes the most unpleasant job, you can have a lot of fun with – if the smell doesn’t make you sick.

11. I have found that toilets can be the source of a few laughs.

12. Meeting hundreds of people does not allow for a shy person to stay shy for very long.

13. Very few things can beat being under the preaching and teaching of God's Word.

14. An important truth... God has not given us everything we deserve. I deserve to be in hell. But I thank my God, His Son bore the wrath of God for the sins that I would commit.

15. It is sometimes easy, yet sinful, to take for granted the provisions that God gives us (the next breath we take, the semi-load of toilet paper, a truck full of Christmas presents) and seeing things like this everyday it's easy to say "oh this happens everyday". But when I see one of the volunteers help upload the truck and says with much excitement "man, this is awesome how God is providing" it reminds me that they are being excited over something that deserves excitement and praise to God.

16. Sharing a bathroom with sometimes 50+ men a week is pretty gross.

17. A plumber, electrician, or carpenter may take a couple of day to a week to complete a project (depending on the task at hand). But give a group of teenagers a yard to clean or a house to gut, you better have at least one more job lined up for them that day, because they are excited and will have completed that job in no time.

18. When you spend enough time with a group of people, they see every side of you. The good, the bad, and the “I'm so tired I can't help but be silly”.

19. Everyday be ready to learn something new. It might be driving a forklift, learning a recipe foreign to a northerner, learning what goes into building a home, or a theological term or concept that you were unaware of before.

20. Patience is a good thing. I think most people probably need a little more of it, myself probably the most of all.

21. If needing to get away for a little while, leave money in your room, drive to Wal-Mart, walk around for an hour, and repeat the next day. (If you skip the step of leaving your money in your room it can get expensive, especially if you repeat the next day).

22. I eat three meals a day and find it difficult when I miss one meal. I’ve learned though that if I’m not intentional to set time aside to feed myself through reading the scriptures it might not happen. I must ask myself some days where does the word of God rate with me (I feed myself food three times and sometimes find it hard to allow myself to be fed by the Word once) All that to say I’ve learned reading scriptures needs to take a much higher priority than where I put it some days.

23. The Lord’s timing is perfect.

24. Being intentional with sharing the gospel is important… ok so another elementary idea. For me it has been hard, yet helpful, to think about how many times I have shared the gospel in the course of the month. It has help to spur me on to try to make the most of the opportunities that I am given to share the gospel or at least begin a ‘spiritual’ conversation with someone.

25. Honestly, when I asked Pastor Don last March if I could come volunteer for the summer in Lakeshore I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. But I know I have learned more and been blessed more out of this time in Lakeshore than I could have imagined and much more than I’ve been able to do for the folks in Lakeshore.

Monday, December 25, 2006

A Christ-less Christmas?

As a believer, it is hard for me to ignore the birth of Christ our Savior this Christmas. Yet this Christmas has come and almost gone without much mention of Christ. Yet much conversation focused on Santa or figures of Santa and snowmen, Christmas trees, who's getting what gift and how much it's worth, and the few times the Lord's name was mentioned (in conversation) it was being used in vain.

Even in one of the church services I attended Christ's name was mentioned, but all that was said about our savior's birth was "I'm glad we know the reason for the season." No mention of what that reason mention that Christ's birth would be followed by His death that would save all who would believe from the penalty of their sin.

But this Christmas I am happy to be back in Wisconsin spending time with my family and my church family. I am grateful for my pastor at my home chuch who shared with us on Christmas eve morning about God's gift of His Son. And mostly grateful for Christ who chose to leave heaven, become a man, and bear the wrath of God meant for us (the sinners) which we totally deserve.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

For All the Saints

I arrived in Wisconsin a couple days ago to spend Christmas with my family. I was able to get around to see a couple of people yesterday and then hang out with a few of my college friends last night. Today my parents, my sister, her husband and I had our family Christmas together. IT was great spending some time with them. Lord willing after tomorrow and having a Christmas eve gathering at my grandparents house I sill be able to sit down and rest for a week before heading back to MS.

So I feel like it's been some time since I've posted anything new, so here's a hymn I recently became familiar with and can't stop listening to.

For All the Saints
by William How

For all the saints, who from their labours rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confessed,
Thy Name, O Jesus, be forever blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
Thou wast their Rock, their Fortress and their Might;
Thou, Lord, their Captain in the well fought fight;
Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true Light.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
For the Apostles’ glorious company,
Who bearing forth the Cross o’er land and sea,
Shook all the mighty world, we sing to Thee:
Alleluia, Alleluia!
For the Evangelists, by whose blest word,
Like fourfold streams, the garden of the Lord,
Is fair and fruitful, be Thy Name adored.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
For Martyrs, who with rapture kindled eye,
Saw the bright crown descending from the sky,
And seeing, grasped it, Thee we glorify.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
O blest communion, fellowship divine!
We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
All are one in Thee, for all are Thine.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
O may Thy soldiers, faithful, true and bold,
Fight as the saints who nobly fought of old,
And win with them the victor’s crown of gold.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
And when the strife is fierce, the warfare long,
Steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
And hearts are brave, again, and arms are strong.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
The golden evening brightens in the west;
Soon, soon to faithful warriors comes their rest;
Sweet is the calm of paradise the blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
But lo! there breaks a yet more glorious day;
The saints triumphant rise in bright array;
The King of glory passes on His way.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
From earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast,
Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
And singing to Father, Son and Holy Ghost:
Alleluia, Alleluia!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Wanting to come home

Pastor Don posted recently on the Rebuild Lakeshore website about the Shiyou's who will be returning to Lakeshore for Christmas and our hope to get them into their apartment by then. He also wrote about an elderly man from the community, Mr. George, who would like so much to return to his home. When talking with Mr. George yesterday, He said that having the team come work on his home was one of the best Christmas presents he could have received.

Here are some pictures of the progress taking place this week to get both the Shiyou's and Mr. George into their homes. The team here this week from First Baptist Church North Augusta is working tirelessly at both of these homes and getting so much accomplished.

The Shiyou's home

Mr. George's home

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Christ's death, fighting for joy, and a lust saturated world

So I have sat down to blog the last couple of nights, but have refrained from doing so. Not because there is nothing going on around here, as we continue to have volunteer groups come from all over the nation, working on several homes, and are still seeing over 500 locals come through the distribution center on Wednesday alone, but because I've totally enjoyed taking every spare minute I have in the evenings to read. Here's the most recent list of books, all of which I recommend, that I have been reading.

Christ Our Mediator by CJ Mahaney makes the gospel a matter of first importance. This short book is packed with challenges for every Christian. Most of us are familiar with images portraying Christ's death, but Mahaney says that it is only the preaching of the gospel, not the depiction, that God promises to accompany with saving effect. Christ or mediator (1 Timothy 2:5-6) had to bear the cup - that cup being the wrath of God for our sins - containing the full fierceness of God's holy wrath poured out against sin and intended for sinful man to drink. I think one of the biggest things that hit me as I was reading was that Christ had to experience abandonment of the Father, because He took on my sins.

In When the Darkness Will not Lift John Piper explains that any Christian can go through a period of depression and times when it seems like joy is out of reach. Piper uses examples in scripture and examples from other Christians to encourage believers as they fight for joy. I highly recommend this book and I, personally can't wait to read John Piper's When I Don't Desire God: How To Fight For Joy.

You can pre-order the book and find excerpts from When the Darkness Will Not Lift: Doing What We Can While We Wait For God - And Joy can be found at Good News and Crossway

A few years ago I read I Kissed Dating Goodbye and Boy Meets Girl so I was familiar with Joshua Harris and his honesty and upfrontness he shares in those two books. And again, I think Joshua Harris does a great job in this book of being upfront with us and honestly viewing lust as not just a sinful guy problem, but a sinful human problem. I think this would be great book for anyone struggling with lust, in any way, but also for those who aren't as aware of the lustful struggles that many men and women face.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

lessons from Lakeshore

My friend Sarah from Florida was here a few weeks ago. After returning home from Lakeshore she listed on her blog 50 lessons she learned while she was here. Many of these great lessons I have also learned since I arrived in Lakeshore 6 months ago. I cannot articulate to the extent that I would like to the things that I’ve been learning through life experiences, through relationships I’ve built, and through the reading/teaching of God’s word and the conviction of the Holy Spirit.

Here are a few of those 50 lessons:

7) Some of the greatest discussions can be held in a cramped hallway, outside walking through the mud, or in an overgrown storage pantry.
9) The most essential part of the day may be the thirty-second prayer that helps you get out of bed.
11) Spending twenty minutes just listening to someone is rarely a waste of time.
18) 5:30 am is a wicked time to have to wake up.
19) At 5:30 am it doesn’t really matter whether or not your clothes match.
23) God is glorified through things that may not seem to matter much to us - a yummy meal, a clean kitchen, a squeaky clean pot, a book read to a snotty-nosed four year-old.
24) God’s Word is as essential to a healthy day as a good breakfast.
27) No matter how old you are, you are capable of saying stupid, hurtful things and asking forgiveness.
32) An encouraging word and a hug can do more to lift the spirits than chocolate.
34) If you are willing to make a fool out of yourself and laugh about it, you will be a much more appealing person to be around.
44) There is nothing as refreshing as worshiping with other believers and hearing God’s Word preached.
47) There comes a point when sleep takes precedence over almost everything else.
49) Hearty laughter with good friends is almost as relaxing as a hot bath.
50) When you arrive with a plan to serve others, it is almost inevitable that you will come away having been served yourself.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

concrete and paint fumes

This week at Ms. Lynn's, a few folks from First Baptist Church of Crystal Springs, MS worked on several different tasks. They worked on putting the frames around the windows, some of the plumbing, and several differnt things in the bathroom.

A team from the west coast (California and Oregon) poured Mr. Sherman's slab. Mr. Sherman and his wife are residents of Lakeshore and are rebuilding on the property where they lived prior to Katrina.
The same team from California and Oregon worked at James and Ms. Bea's house, priming and painting their home.

Our friends from Immanuel Baptist and Southern Seminary in Louisville, KY worked on several projects this past week, most of which included mudding, sanding, and painting.
Here they work at Ms. Lambert's home, which got painted this week.

And at the church office. Putting both a second coat of paint on the railings and doing some sheetrock work and painting in the bathroom.
And here at Ms. Redford's painting and putting up the little wooden decorative things on the porch.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God

So as the ladies and I have been going through Pursuing God by Jim Elliff we came to the third chapter, which, honestly, I had a hard time understanding and teaching. The title of the chapter is "Is God Angry Anymore?" basically having to do with the wrath of God, a topic I confess that I have many questions on. So in doing a little more studying I listened to Jonathan Edwards sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God". Edwards, in this sermon, was as straightfoward with the wrath of God and God's anger towards those out of Christ as one can get. I can see how this would be hard to hear by the "hard-hearted congregation" it was preached to in July of 1741.

Here's a exerpt from the sermon that expresses "the awful weight of sin, the wrath of an infinitely holy God, and the unexpectedness of the moment when God will execute justice" (

"The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked: his wrath towards you burns like fire; he looks upon you as worthy of nothing else, but to be cast into the fire; he is of purer eyes than to bear to have you in his sight; you are ten thousand times more abominable in his eyes, than the most hateful venomous serpent is in ours. You have offended him infinitely more than ever a stubborn rebel did his prince; and yet it is nothing but his hand that holds you from falling into the fire every moment. It is to be ascribed to nothing else, that you did not go to hell the last night; that you was suffered to awake again in this world, after you closed your eyes to sleep. And there is no other reason to be given, why you have not dropped into hell since you arose in the morning, but that God's hand has held you up. There is no other reason to be given why you have not gone to hell, since you have sat here in the house of God, provoking his pure eyes by your sinful wicked manner of attending his solemn worship. Yea, there is nothing else that is to be given as a reason why you do not this very moment drop down into hell."

"O sinner! Consider the fearful danger you are in: it is a great furnace of wrath, a wide and bottomless pit, full of the fire of wrath, that you are held over in the hand of that God, whose wrath is provoked and incensed as much against you, as against many of the damned in hell. You hang by a slender thread, with the flames of divine wrath flashing about it, and ready every moment to singe it, and burn it asunder; and you have no interest in any Mediator, and nothing to lay hold of to save yourself, nothing to keep off the flames of wrath, nothing of your own, nothing that you ever have done, nothing that you can do, to induce God to spare you one moment."

Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God can be read here
It can also be downloaded and heard here