Thursday, December 27, 2007

Wrapping up vacation

I'm heading back to Lakeshore tomorrow, Lord willing. Here's a few pictures from my vacation in Platteville.

Sitting in front of the computer at my parent's house

I'm talking with my aunt about planning a trip to Lakeshore.

Just having fun in the snow

This is me with all the babies...who knew you could have 11 kids at one family Christmas party under 7 years old. And my sister's dog, which is just like one of the babes.

More fun in the snow

Monday, December 24, 2007

Santas and Carols or Christ and the Gospel

As I almost have forgotten tomorrow is Christmas, the day set aside to celebrate the birth of the risen savior, I am pondering the meaning of Christmas. Most everyday has gone by since I have been home without a mention of Christ. I've read and prayed on my own, but I've only met once for corporate worship (services were canceled this past weekend on account of the weather) have spent very little time around fellow believers. This is very different than what I am used to - working, serving, and living around other Christians all the time.

It is when I am away from the fellowship, encouragement, correction, and the sharing and discussion of God's Word that I realize how blessed I am. But when I am away it also reminds me of the great need to share the gospel and I am convicted at the lack obedience I have when it comes to sharing the gospel with family, friends, and acquaintances.

I came across a clip of John McArthur sharing the real Christmas story. It helped me set my mind on Christ this Christmas eve as I am away from fellow believers, who share the joy of the birth, life, and sacrifice of the Christ.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

pray for leading

I've made it through all the family get togethers. It was great to see family and spend time talking with them. I have about 5 days left here in Platteville before I head back to Lakeshore. I fully intend to get some sleep and try to visit some folks here in town.

I am praying for direction as I think about whether to continue serving in Lakeshore. As of this time I have no leading to move away from Lakeshore. I am asked on a daily basis what my plans for after May 2008 are. I have been talking with the North American Mission Board and considering their US/C2 position - a 2 year position. Things sound like they could work out for me to stay on in Lakeshore

Honestly I can't think of anything else I'd rather do at this point in my life than to continue serving in Lakeshore. I've been asked a lot this week what I find attractive about Lakeshore or why I'd want to stay in Lakeshore. The main reason I stay in Lakeshore is the need for the gospel. There are a few faithful Christ followers in Lakeshore spreading the gospel to those who do not know the Lord, but still the gospel needs to be spread. I'd like to ask for prayers that the Lord would reveal to me direction and that I'd be obedient to whatever way he leads.

Monday, December 17, 2007

How to Spend the Day with God pt. 2

How to spend the day with God - part 2

Temptations and Things That Corrupt

Be thoroughly acquainted with your temptations and the things that may corrupt you - and watch against them all day long. You should watch especially the most dangerous of the things that corrupt, and those temptations that either your company or business will unavoidably lay before you.

Watch against the master sins of unbelief: hypocrisy, selfishness, pride, flesh pleasing and the excessive love of earthly things. Take care against being drawn into earthly mindedness and excessive cares, or covetous designs for rising in the world, under the pretence of diligence in your calling.

If you are to trade or deal with others, be vigilant against selfishness and all that smacks of injustice or uncharitableness. In all your dealings with others, watch against the temptation of empty and idle talking. Watch also against those persons who would tempt you to anger. Maintain that modesty and cleanness of speech that the laws of purity require. If you converse with flatterers, be on your guard against swelling pride.

If you converse with those that despise and injure you, strengthen yourself against impatient, revengeful pride.

At first these things will be very difficult, while sin has any strength in you, but once you have grasped a continual awareness of the poisonous danger of any one of these sins, your heart will readily and easily avoid them.


When alone in your occupations, improve the time in practical and beneficial meditations. Meditate upon the infinite goodness and perfections of God; Christ and redemption; Heaven and how unworthy you are of going there and how you deserve eternal misery in Hell.

The Only Motive

Whatever you are doing, in company or alone, do it all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). Otherwise, it is unacceptable to God.

Redeeming The Time

Place a high value upon your time, be more careful of not losing it than you would of losing your money. Do not let worthless recreations, television, idle talk, unprofitable company, or sleep rob you of your precious time.

Be more careful to escape that person, action or course of life that would rob you of your time than you would be to escape thieves and robbers.

Make sure that you are not merely never idle, but rather that you are using your time in the most profitable way that you can and do not prefer a less profitable way before one of greater profit.

Eating and Drinking

Eat and drink with moderation and thankfulness for health, not for unprofitable pleasure. Never please your appetite in food or drink when it is prone to be detrimental to your health.

Remember the sin of Sodom: "Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food and abundance of idleness" - Ezekiel 16:49.

The Apostle Paul wept when he mentioned those "whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame -- who set their minds on earthly things, being enemies to the cross of Christ" - Philippians 3:18-19. O then do not live according to the flesh lest you die (Romans 8:13).

Prevailing Sins

If any temptation prevails against you and you fall into any sins in addition to habitual failures, immediately lament it and confess it to God; repent quickly whatever the cost. It will certainly cost you more if you continue in sin and remain unrepentant.

Do not make light of your habitual failures, but confess them and daily strive against them, taking care not to aggravate them by unrepentance and contempt.


Remember every day the special duties of various relationships: whether as husbands, wives, children, masters, servants, pastors, people, magistrates, subjects.

Remember every relationship has its special duty and its advantage for the doing of some good. God requires your faithfulness in this matter as well as in any other duty.

Closing the Day

Before returning to sleep, it is wise and necessary to review the actions and mercies of the day past, so that you may be thankful for all the special mercies and humbled for all your sins.

This is necessary in order that you might renew your repentance as well as your resolve for obedience, and in order that you may examine yourself to see whether your soul grew better or worse, whether sin goes down and grace goes up and whether you are better prepared for suffering, death and eternity.

May these directions be engraven upon your mind and be made the daily practice of your life.

If sincerely adhered to, these will be conducive to the holiness, fruitfulness and quietness of your life and add to you a comfortable and peaceful death.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

How to Spend the Day with God

I came across this while I was reading tonight. I thought it was great advice. I plan to split the points between two days so it won't be a very long post.

How to Spend the Day with God

adapted and updated from
RICHARD BAXTER (1615-1691)

by Matthew Vogan

A holy life is inclined to be made easier when we know the usual sequence and method of our duties - with everything falling into its proper place. Therefore, I shall give some brief directions for spending the day in a holy manner.


Measure the time of your sleep appropriately so that you do not waste your precious morning hours sluggishly in your bed. Let the time of your sleep be matched to your health and labour, and not to slothful pleasure.

First Thoughts

Let God have your first awaking thoughts; lift up your hearts to Him reverently and thankfully for the rest enjoyed the night before and cast yourself upon Him for the day which follows.

Familiarise yourself so consistently to this that your conscience may check you when common thoughts shall first intrude. Think of the mercy of a night's rest and of how many that have spent that night in Hell; how many in prison; how many in cold, hard lodgings; how many suffering from agonising pains and sickness, weary of their beds and of their lives.

Think of how many souls were that night called from their bodies terrifyingly to appear before God and think how quickly days and nights are rolling on! How speedily your last night and day will come! Observe that which is lacking in the preparedness of your soul for such a time and seek it without delay.


Let prayer by yourself alone (or with your partner) take place before the collective prayer of the family. If possible let it be first, before any work of the day.

Family Worship

Let family worship be performed consistently and at a time when it is most likely for the family to be free of interruptions.

Ultimate Purpose

Remember your ultimate purpose, and when you set yourself to your day's work or approach any activity in the world, let HOLINESS TO THE LORD be written upon your hearts in all that you do.

Do no activity which you cannot entitle God to, and truly say that he set you about it, and do nothing in the world for any other ultimate purpose than to please, glorify and enjoy Him. "Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." - 1 Corinthians 10:31.

Diligence in Your Calling

Follow the tasks of your calling carefully and diligently. Thus:

(a) You will show that you are not sluggish and servants to your flesh (as those that cannot deny it ease), and you will further the putting to death of all the fleshly lusts and desires that are fed by ease and idleness.
(b) You will keep out idle thoughts from your mind, that swarm in the minds of idle persons.
(c) You will not lose precious time, something that idle persons are daily guilty of.
(d) You will be in a way of obedience to God when the slothful are in constant sins of omission.
(e) You may have more time to spend in holy duties if you follow your occupation diligently. Idle persons have no time for praying and reading because they lose time by loitering at their work.
(f) You may expect God's blessing and comfortable provision for both yourself and your families.
(g) it may also encourage the health of your body which will increase its competence for the service of your soul.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Let it snow

I woke up this morning and looked out the window to see big snowflakes falling from the sky, it was pretty peaceful. The backyard was very tranquil and the only sounds was the squirrel sitting in the tree gnawing on a walnut and the birds chirping and rustling in the bushes.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Fly away home

I made it back to Wisconsin for Christmas and time with my family and church family after a extremely long day in airports waiting and hoping I'd be able to get on a plane headed north.

I was late for my flight from New Orleans due to an accident and then fog on the causeway, which caused me to arrive at the airport at 11:03, my plane leaving at 11:30. The only option without paying for a ticket for the following day was to be on standby for a flight at 5:00pm for New Orleans to Chicago, and then be on standby from Chicago to Madison.

I knew the Lord knew the situation and that he was in control of it as well. If I wasn't able to make it to Chicago or Madison, it wouldn't have been the end of the world, knowing that it was the Lord's providence...though I was really looking forward to getting home and seeing my family. I got the last spot on the plane from New Orleans. When we arrived in Chicago I went to the gate where the plane to Madison was to take off from to put my name on the standby list. The lady seemed very hopeful that I'd get on that plane, which indeed I did. Though I arrived in Madison at 10:30 then drove to Platteville arriving there after 12:15am. It was a long day, but I am grateful to be home for a couple of weeks and see my family who I haven't seen since May.

There is a big difference between Mississippi and Wisconsin...and a lot of snow here. I'll post some pictures for my friends in MS who are rubbing it in that it is warm there, when I'm able.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

That Christ May Dwell in You Richly

This past Sunday Pastor Don preached to us from Eph 3:17. It was a convicting sermon dealing with Christ dwelling in the hearts of believers and asking ourselves if Jesus is at home in our hearts... “So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith-that you, being rooted and grounded in love”

Pastor Don said there were different ways cultivate Christ being at home in us and allowing him to have access to every portion of our life; we aren't to sit around wait. But we cannot just decide to make Christ the center of our being..Like a food you do not like - you can choose to eat it, but you can't just choose to like it. It is part of our affections, the more we eat it the more we grow to like it....the more time we spend with Christ and in his word, the more or affections change and he is able to take control of our being and be the center and our desire.

Two of the main ways to spend time with Christ and let our affections be controlled by him are through prayer and Bible Study.

1. Prayer – through prayer we can ask Christ to dwell in – to be at home in our hearts. As Christ dwells in us he is going to change us. He's going to help us throw away those things that are not glorifying to him and that we desire above him.

There are a couple ways praying can facilitate this
  • A. We can ask Christ to dwell in us. We can pray: Christ – may passions are all wrong, I desire this rather than that, I desire money rather than you, I desire respect more than the word of God, I desire this more than you – change that in me God, I can't change it myself!
  • B. Prayer time itself will facilitate Christ living in our heart. You get know know others by spending time with them. The more intimately we know Christ the more at home he is going to be in our heart.
2. Bible Study – This is how we get Christ in our minds. As we look at the Word we begin to store it in us. The memorization of scripture is huge in storing God's Word in our heart “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might sin against you.”

Memorization is one area that Pastor Don emphasized that is so important, but not focused on enough by most believers (including myself). I've recently begun getting up earlier so that I have time to spend with the Lord and focus on prayer and scripture study. I used to memorize a lot, but have not done that as much as I ought to recently, so I will be adding that to my daily Bible study time.

Take a couple minutes to listen to Pastor Don urge the people of Lakeshore Baptist Church to make memorization a priority in their life, it's a great admonition to treasure God's Word.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Luther's conversion

As I ponder the saving grace of God, I am made grateful that God has revealed himself to us through nature and our surroundings and even more grateful he has given us His Word. It is only through the preaching, reading, and/or hearing his word that man is saved.

As I was reading online I came across Martin Luther's account of his own conversion, an awesome example of God revealing the meaning of scripture and regenerating and justifying a man - as Martin Luther, who said he hated the righteous God, as he struggled with the scriptures.

Here's the excerpt from the Preface to the Complete Edition of Luther's Latin Writings found online at ReformationInk

Meanwhile, I had already during that year returned to interpret the Psalter anew. I had confidence in the fact that I was more skillful, after I had lectured in the university on St. Paul's epistles to the Romans, to the Galatians, and the one to the Hebrews. I had indeed been captivated with an extraordinary ardor for understanding Paul in the Epistle to the Romans. But up till then it was not the cold blood ab out the heart, but a single word in Chapter 1, "In it the righteousness of God is revealed," that had stood in my way. For I hated that word "righteousness of God," which, according to the use and custom of all the teachers, I had been taught to understand philosophically regarding the formal or active righteousness, as they call it, with which God is righteous and punishes the unrighteous sinner.

Though I lived as a monk without reproach, I felt that I was a sinner before God with an extremely disturbed conscience. I could not believe that he was placated by my satisfaction. I did not love, yes, I hated the righteous God who punishes sinners, and secretly, if not blasphemously, certainly murmuring greatly, I was angry with God, and said, "As if, indeed, it is not enough, that miserable sinners, eternally lost through original sin, are crushed by every kind of calamity by the law of the Decalogue, without having God add pain to pain by the gospel and also by the gospel threatening us with his righteousness and wrath!" Thus I raged with a fierce and troubled conscience. Nevertheless, I beat importunately upon Paul at that place, most ardently desiring to know what St. Paul wanted.

At last, by the mercy of God, meditating day and night, I gave heed to the context of the words, namely, "In it the righteousness of God is revealed, as it is written, 'He who through faith is righteous shall live.'" There I began to understand that the righteousness of God is that by which the righteous lives by a gift of God, namely by faith. And this is the meaning: the righteousness of God is revealed by the gospel, namely, the passive righteousness with which merciful God justifies us by faith, as it is written, "He who through faith is righteous shall live." Here I felt that I was altogether born again and had entered paradise itself through open gates. There a totally other face of the entire Scripture showed itself to me. Thereupon I ran through the Scripture from memory. I also fount in other terms an analogy, as, the work of God, that is what God does in us, the power of God, with which he makes us wise, the strength of God, the salvation of God, the glory of God.

And I extolled my sweetest word with a love as great as the hatred with which I had before hated the word "righteousness of God." Thus that place in Paul was for me truly the gate to paradise. Later I read Augustine's The Spirit and the Letter, where contrary to hope I found that he, too, interpreted God's righteousness in a similar way, as the righteousness with which God clothes us when he justifies us (Augustine passage included below). Although this was heretofore said imperfectly and he did not explain all things concerning imputation clearly, it nevertheless was pleasing that God's righteousness with which we are justified was taught.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Specific, Selfless, and Spiritual

I was sitting here reflecting on the sermon preached today here at Lakeshore Baptist. Pastor Don preached on Ephesians 3:14-21 focusing on prayer. Prayer is something that I say I do, and I do, but often times do not pray as I ought. Pastor Don brought up many great points from this texts that I hope I can incorporate into my own personal prayer time.

3 Types of Prayer
I. Specific Prayer
  • Paul is praying for strength and knowledge of God for the believers in Ephesus.
  • Our prayers are often very vague
  • We can go in with a plan as we pray. We can make a list of the things that we are going to pray for and specifics so we don't get distracted as we pray.
II. Selfless Prayer
  • Paul was in prison but he was praying for others. Here he is not praying or asking for prayers of himself for comfort, relief, or release from prison he is focused on others.
III. Spiritual Prayer
  • Paul is praying for spiritual issues in the life of others.
  • We don't see here him praying for the sickness of so and so. If sickness and health are all that we pray for we are showing God where I priorities are. And if the physical is our only priority we are flirting with idolatry - we are worried about the tangible things more than the everlasting things of someone's spiritual well being. This is not to say, though, not to pray for those things. Praying for health and healing are good things and we have a miracle working God who can heal those things. But we just must make sure we know I priorities.

Other notes on Prayer
A. Paul is praying from Prison - Paul is not waiting until his circumstances are better, he sees the need to pray for the church and he's doing it while he is locked in chains in a Roman prison. We shouldn't wait until our circumstances are good to pray for others, we ought to pray for others if we are sick, homeless, or otherwise in distress.

B. Paul's prayer is a prayer of Passion - he bowed on his knees. It was as if we was begging God on his knees for the spiritual issues of the church in Ephesus.

C. Paul Prays to the Father - God is the Father of all families (of believers).

D. Paul is praying for power - Vs 16 - Paul is asking for strength for the inner being of the church. The stronger you are => the healthier you are => The more ready you are to fight of sin, temptation, depression, etc.
This strength comes from 2 places - through the Spirit and according to the riches of his glory.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Learning Quickly

The past couple of weeks have flown by. We've had several teams here from multiple states (Georgia, New Hampshire, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, North Carolina, Kansas) and it's been a great growing experience for me. These past few weeks I've been a bit more involved with taking teams to the jobs sites and instructing them on what to do. Honestly, at first I was a bit out of my element, but as time has gone on it's gotten easier to instruct and answer questions. The teams these past couple of weeks have been very gracious as I learn what tools are what and what they do, as I figure out how to get materials to them, and as I tell them what I need done in areas that I thought I knew nothing about but am learning very quickly (electrical work for example). Thankfully they've know what they are doing and have been able to explain the way things work and why we need to do things a certain way.
This week I am pretty excited. A team from Arkansas is working at Ms. Gillum's house. They are working on installing light fixtures, toilets, sinks, tub, ceiling fans, water heater, and touching up paint. It is looking more and more like a home, not just a house. Lord willing we will be able to get all the cabinets in the next week or two and get the electricity turned on, and move Ms. Gillum in.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The October-November blur

I'm a sitting here tonight, on Liz's last night with us for a while, wondering where October and most of November have gone. We've had many volunteer team coming and going these past couple months and a lot of progress has been made on the homes we've been working on.

He's just a glimpse of what's been happening.

  • Ms. Gillum's house is getting closer and closer for her to move in. We are waiting on her kitchen cabinets to come in, but most the rest of the house is complete...with a few exceptions.
  • Mr. George's trailer is getting very close. We've sent a team in to hook up the kitchen sink this weekend. Now the main thing that remains is a couple of doors and his furniture, which Lord willing we'll be getting in the near future.
  • The Moran's house is nearly all sheetrocked and she was going to have some relatives finish that and do the mudding and sanding.
  • Ms. Diane's house is insulated and Lord willing we will be starting to sheetrock this week.
  • Mr. & Mrs. Green's posts have been set for the porch, which should be started this week.
  • We've had a team break up two slabs to prep the site where we plan to start another 2 homes.
It is strange when it hits me, which happens multiple times a week, that this community was completely destroyed. There was not one home that wasn't affected by the storm. I don't know of any house in Lakeshore that didn't take on at least a few feet of water, most place taking on somewhere between 5-15. Some places got 20 to 40 feet of water. I still cannot imagine. But I am grateful the volunteers continue to come into Lakeshore and minister to this community.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Appreciation is due

Pastor Appreciation month has gone by and I've not been able to express to my pastors how much I appreciate them and their ministry to the flock. Pastor Jeff in Platteville, WI and Pastor Don here in Lakeshore, MS are great men of God who hold fast to the truth and faithfully preach it each week. I know there are hours of preparation for the sermon that come out in the sermons, but otherwise goes unnoticed and for this preparation I am eternally grateful as I sit under their preaching and hear the Word of God.

Not only do they bring God's Word each Sunday and throughout the week, they spend many hours taking care of other needs, counseling people, encouraging people, hospital visits, discipling people...the list could go on and on. They also have their own families who they lead, protect, encourage, discipline, love, and guide in Truth.

While I am grateful for my pastors, I also appreciate my pastors wives. I am convinced that as pastors are much appreciated and sometimes recognized, often the women who are by their side, who support their husbands, and do much more around the church than is really realized are neglected in appreciation and praise.

Both Felicia and Courtney have been extremely encouraging and helpful in my growth as a believer and into a young woman. They've been the ones I can go to all the time, in any situation. They are there when I have questions about life and scripture. And for the Church...They do much more around the church than most church members and have devoted many hours to meeting the needs of the church body in cooperation with their husbands.

They have both been great examples for me by being godly women who love their husbands and children. As I look forward to being a wife and mother one day, Lord willing, I've been blessed to have several examples of women, like Felicia and Courtney, to learn from. Not only do these women serve the church, they serve their family continuously. - from preparing meals, making sure the kids have everything for school, running kids from place to place, doing the normal house cleaning/laundry/dishes, supporting their husbands, and many other daily activities. I praise God for my pastors wives and what they do for the Church and what great encouragement they have been to me.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Redneck moments

I was thinking I should start a series for moments that might be labeled "Redneck"....We could have pages and pages of posts on all those moments that we have around here. But today Liz and I had our own special moment....

So Liz and I were driving around today helping teams get from site to site and picking up a few materials. After making a purchase from Home Depot she and I figured out how to get 16 feet of baseboards to fit into the van. While we were doing that the side door to the van apparently decided that it wasn't going to cooperate with us and when Liz went to open the door it basically fell off.

Well, Liz and I worked together and got the door back on, so we thought. We got the trim in the van and started down the road. We turned off from the Hwy to a side road and that's when the door decided to come off again, as we were driving. I will say it didn't totally fall off, but was definitely something that needed attention. We made it to our destination with the door half falling off and discovered the problem.

We needed a bolt or something similar to put it back on it's track and keep it there. Were searched the van and the house we were at, finding no bolt. So we reverted to our redneck ways...let's just find something we can jam up in there and call it good. We were searched for something to fit, finding a lone carpenter pencil, random shims, scrap wire, and scrap trim. The lone carpenter pencil proved to be a perfect fit. So we jammed that pencil through the bolt hole and were able to secure the door to it's track, continued down the road, finished our errands, and arrived safely with door and all at the church.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

framing, sheet rock, flexibility

It's been a great week at Lakeshore Baptist church. We've had a crew from Georgia working on framing the Landry home this week. Lord willing they will have the first floor done and a crew can come in Sunday right behind them and get started on the second floor.
We've also had a group of sheet rock guys from Illinois, who were incredibly flexible with us this week as we had them doing odd jobs, picking up sheet rock from Home Depot, and sheet rocking the Moran's home.

Its great to see things happening and moving forward around here. I am looking forward to the rest of this fall.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

If the Lord wills

Today something happened that helped me to see just another reason why I am here in Lakeshore and why I love it so much. To give a little background...There is a couple in the community who has three boys. Like most in the area, they are living paycheck to paycheck, trying to get enough money to build a home. After the storm they received very little money, but with living expenses and several medical issues that money depleted very quickly. The family is very anxious to get out of the FEMA trailer and into a home.

Because they are living paycheck to paycheck they would buy a few boards as they could afford them and the husband was doing the work himself. They came to Lakeshore Baptist asking for help and we really wanted to help them, but with their limited income and a grant we are typically able to get it still was going to be way short.

So Pastor Don kept thinking about ways to be able to help them. Through a series of events we were able to find out that another organization had come back to the coast and was helping get materials to build homes. We quickly caught up with them and proceeded to find out if that organization could help this family.

Pastor Don and I were able to go today and tell the woman that we were going to be able to help and if everything works out right a framing crew would be in this weekend to begin framing the home. Things are seeming to fall together as today progressed...If the Lord wills, we will have a team over at their home next week.

One of the greatest things about telling her that we were going to be able to help was to see her smile. Something I had not really ever seen her do before. She's been hit with some difficult situations and seems to have lost hope. I pray these teams that go there from now on would be a light and an encouragement to this family.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Thy Way, Not Mine, O Lord

I was reading some hymns written by Horatius Bonar when I came across this hymn. This is my prayer tonight, I hope this will be my prayer for each day.
"The Lord will guide you always." Isaiah 58:11

Thy way, not mine, O Lord,
However dark it be;
Lead me by Thine own hand,
Choose out the path for me.
Smooth let it be or rough,
It will be still the best;
Winding or straight, it leads
Right onward to Thy rest.
I dare not choose my lot;
I would not, if I might;
Choose Thou for me, my God,
So I shall walk aright.
Take Thou my cup, and it
With joy or sorrow fill,
As best to Thee may seem;
Choose Thou my good and ill.
Choose Thou for me my friends,
My sickness or my health;
Choose Thou my cares for me
My poverty or wealth.
The kingdom that I seek
Is Thine: so let the way
That leads to it be Thine,
Else I must surely stray.
Not mine, not mine the choice
In things or great or small;
Be Thou my guide, my strength
My wisdom, and my all.
Horatius Bonar, 1857.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

hot chocolate and twizzlers

Tonight we began the ladies Bible study here at the church. I am very excited about how it started and I look forward to the coming weeks.

Following Bible study tonight we headed out of the church to find the weather rainy and cold (well at least cold for here). So once we got into the office we decided it was a great night for some hot chocolate and candy (side note ....The three of us received a package today from our friend Doug in Louisville containing an encouraging note and a bunch of candy). So here's Liz and Kristy enjoying the hot chocolate and twizzlers.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

A few random thoughts on concerts

Last night I had the opportunity to go to a MercyMe concert in Baton Rouge with a group from Providence Presbyterian Church on Hilton Head Island. I'm not too familiar with MercyMe, but the concert was pretty good. During the show I was in awe as I listened to the music and watched the lights and the effects of the show. I am a bit of a nerd when it all comes to sound and lighting - especially sound...I really take an interest in it, but it's also a great opportunity to worship the God who created sound, light, and colors.

I haven't given this as much thought as I would like and haven't really thought about how I want to articulate this. So I apologize if it comes off as a bunch of random thoughts, since it probably will.

I was thinking during the show how awesome it is that God has created sound. There's the piano, guitars, bass, drums, and vocals. It's beautiful when they are all mixed together in such a way that you can hear each one of them. When one is not over powering and the people running the sound board strive for excellence in their service. When each individual instrument is tuned and the vocals are on the right note. I'm grateful the Lord has made sound and that He's allowed me to hear it and enjoy it.

The creativeness of music and lyrics is another thing I praise God for. It's possible for every song to sound the same and for every song to be about superficial things. But this wasn't the case during this show, though the songs did have a "common theme", but when the songs point you to Christ that's not a bad thing. Composing music itself takes creativity - a gift God has blessed some people with - praise God.

Obviously in a concert situation the performers and sound and lighting people are striving for excellence. There is nothing wrong with striving for excellence as long as self doesn't get in the way. There is something awesome about excellence and God is glorified through excellence. And though things are not always perfect, God can still be glorified through your actions and humility.

After the concert I reflected a bit on the greatness of God to allow us to sing, to play instruments, to hear the music, to see the lights, and to watch other people really worship God. It's kind of neat to be in a place with many other believers and worship together - some focusing on the lyrics of the songs, others on the technological aspects, but together worshiping the Creator of all things.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

167 hours from now...1 & 2 Peter study

One week from tonight I will be starting a women's Bible Study here in Lakeshore. I am pretty excited about the study. We will be looking at 1 & 2 Peter and going through the study John MacArthur has put out called 1 & 2 Peter - Courage in times of trouble.

For the past several months, I've been wanting to do another study. No one kept me from beginning one, I just hadn't found material to guide the study. I originally thought about co-leading a study guided by Feminine Appeal by Carolyn Mahaney. It is a great book and I think the ladies here in the church would enjoy it as well. But I am not really qualified to lead that study...since the book is about being a wife and a mother (both of which I am not). But more than that, I felt a real burden to get the ladies here more into the scriptures than just another book. Books are great, but I want to see them cherish the Word of God and read, study, and meditate upon it. Hence the reason I chose to cover 1& 2 Peter.

Lord willing we will cover 1 Peter beginning next week and end mid-December. I'm planning on starting 2 Peter up after Christmas which will take us about 4 weeks. I am looking forward to the study and pray that the ladies involved would grow in the knowledge of the Word and would grow in their love for and cherish the scriptures.

Please pray for me as I lead the study and for the ladies participating in the study as we dive into 1 Peter together. It ought to be a great study.

Monday, October 15, 2007

cabinets and flooring

Things are moving along again this week. Last week a group from Tennessee put cabinets in Ms. Speed's house and a group from Alabama laid the tile in the kitchen and laundry room and the laminate floor around the rest of the house. I would love to see Ms. Speed get into her home soon, Lord willing it won't be much longer. But there's still plenty left to do...

Friday, October 12, 2007

Grace to Make it Through

My home church, Rolling Hills Church, in Platteville, WI asked me to record a video so I could inform the folks up there what is taking place here and let them know how things were going with me. Pastor Don also posted it on RebuildLakeshore, but I wanted to share it with some of the folk who aren't familiar with the rebuildlakeshore website and add a little bit more commentary.

I'm often asked what exactly it is that I do down here in Lakeshore. If I had an exact job it'd be easy to tell folks what I do, but the fact of the matter is I don't have anything that I do exactly the same from week to week. I do answer phone calls and field questions, but that is different each time I pick up the phone. I organize the sleeping arrangements, but some weeks that takes 10 minutes other weeks over and hour. I sometimes help line up the team with homes to work at and get them to the sites, but not always. But whatever it is I do, I am grateful for the opportunity to serve the folks here and to be in the place the Lord has placed me – even if it does wear me out at times, I am so glad to be here in Lakeshore.

I am grateful for the opportunity to serve here in Lakeshore and to work alongside the folks here at the church and in the community. This experience has been amazing and the Lord has stretched and grown me in many different ways. The Lord continues to reveal truths to me in scripture, break me of sin, and sanctify me. He puts me in situations I've never been in before, but gives me the grace to make it through. I'm learning a lot of this “life lessons” people are supposed to learn, I guess, as they grow up - like looking for a car, dealing with insurance, budgeting, rarely but occasionally dealing with difficult people, and other random things.

It's sometimes hard, but it is overall awesome. To see the Lord working in such tangible ways is incredible, to see such great need is heartbreaking. To see what devastation a storm can leave behind makes me wonder about the force of the storm, but to know that our God is bigger and is capable of holding that storm in his hands makes me stand in awe of the greatness of our God. To see God give hope to the hopeless, a good nights rest to the weary, patience in the heat and hard times, food to the hungry, and the grace to sustain us through the day are just a few of the amazing ways I get to see the Lord work.

I know I could go on and on about how much I love it here in Lakeshore and there are so many stories to tell, but I must save those for another day.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Movin on up

A team from Monticello, KY came in last Friday. They followed the the from NJ who put the posts in the ground at the Moran's. The team from Kentucky came down and totally tackled the house. Despite issues getting materials from the store the team wasted no time framing the house, by Thursday this week they hard the whole house framed the windows and doors in and the roof on. It was pretty awesome to watch them this week and I know the homeowners were blown away - and so happy to be able to sit on their front porch.

Monday, October 08, 2007

The Gospel

This week I was encouraged to hear Mark Driscoll present the gospel in a very quick, yet not you just have to pray this prayer kind of way. It was truthful, acknowledging us as sinful people, Christ coming to suffer, Christ going to the cross, the imputation of our sins upon Christ, and Christ's resurrection. It encouraged me to hear an example of a quick, yet truth packed, presentation of the Gospel.
Here's the clip to that Gospel presentation.

I was also reading Timmy Brister's blog this week and was encouraged by his 2:00 am @ Mars Hill post. - A very encouraging example of a like minded believer sharing the gospel with his unbelieving co-workers.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

hurricane straps, collar ties, and house wrap

We continue to have teams working on Ms. Diane's, the Green's, Ms. Cindy's and Vic's home this week. A team from Providence Baptist Church in Franklin, MA is helping to knock out a few of the miscellaneous things that need to be done on the homes before we can proceed. Here they are working on Ms. Cindy's house.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Rebuilding update

This week is off to a good start. After seeing fewer volunteers in the month of September, the numbers are picking back up for the month of October. This week alone we'll have almost 75 volunteers on site before the end of the week. We are beginning a new home this week for Ms. Judy. A crew from New Jersey is digging the holes and setting the pilings and a crew will be coming in this weekend to frame the house.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Fountain of never-ceasing grace,

I was reading some articles and poems at ReformationInk and came across this poem by Augustus Toplady. It's an amazing poetic articulation of the grace, imputation, justification, Christ's suffering, man's sin, and forgiveness.

Thanksgiving for the Righteousness of Christ
Fountain of never-ceasing grace,
Thy saints' eexhaustless theme,
Great object of immortal praise,
Essentially supreme;
We bless the for the glorious fruits
Thy incarnation gives;
The righteousness which grace imputes,
And faith alone receives.

Whom heaven's angelic host adores,
Was slaughter'd for our sin;
The guilt, O Lord was wholly ours,
The punishment was thine:
Our God in the flesh, to set us free,
Was manifested here;
And meekly bare are sins, that we
His righteousness might wear.

Imputatively guitly then
Our substitute was made,
That we the blessings might obtain
For which his blood was shed:
Himself he offer'd on the cross,
Our sorrows to remove;
And all he suffer'd was for us,
And all he did was love.

In him we have a righteousness,
By God himself approv'd
Our rock, our sure foundation this,
Which never can be mov'd.
Our ransom by his death he paid,
For all his people giv'n,
The law he perfectly obey'd,
That they might enter heav'n.

As all, when Adam sinn'd alone,
In his transgression died,
So by the righteousness of one,
Are sinners justify'd,
We to thy merit, gracious Lord,
With humblest joy submit,
Again to Paradise restor'd,
In thee alone complete

Our souls his watchful love retrieves,
Nor lets them go astray,
His righteousness to us he gives,
And takes our sins away:
We claim salvation in his right,
Adopted and forgiv'n,
His merit is our robe of light,
His death the gate of heav'n.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Captive to the Word of God

An excerpt of chapter five "Scripture" from Desiring God by John Piper
"But are we to pursue this joy like Christian Hedonists? Are we to throw the kindling of God's Word every day on the fire of joy? Indeed, we are! Not only every day, but day and night: "Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord and on his law he meditates day and night" (Psalm 1: 1-2). This delight is the very design of our Lord in speaking to us: "These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you and your joy may be full"(John 15: 11) . Not to pursue our joy every day in the Word of God is an abandonment of the revealed will of God. It is sin."
If this is true, that not pursuing joy every day in the Word of God and thereby abandoning the revealed will of God is sin, many of us need to repent. I think we need to take the Word of God more seriously. The 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith does a great job of describing the necessity of the Word of God and gives reason for us to praise God for the written record of God's revelation of Himself to man.
"The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience, although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men inexcusable; yet are they not sufficient to give that knowledge of God and his will which is necessary unto salvation." - From the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith, Chapter 1: Of the Holy Scriptures
We must see as believers the importance of spending time in the scriptures, every day. That we may grow in our knowledge of God and also that we might delight in the Lord as He has commanded us to do. Let us not see the scriptures of little importance, if we do we find no value in the labors and suffering of saints who esteemed the scriptures and were willing to give their life for the scriptures.

Let us not forget men like Martin Luther, who said

"Since, then, Your Majesty and Your Lordships desire a simple reply, I will answer without horns and without teeth. Unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain reason-I do not accept the authority of popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other-my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise. God help me."
Luther knew the scriptures and that they were of high importance. He translated the Word of God and made it possible for the common man at that time to have. We have the scriptures available to us, let's praise God that He's revealed himself, his promises, and the work of Christ in the scriptures and for the saints who have labored to make scripture available to people in their own language.

Let's pursue our joy in God through reading the Word and not see the Bible as unimportant and insignificant. Let's not abandon the Word, but continue as the saints did reading and studying scripture and making it available to those who do not have the Word of God in their own language.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Sovereignty of God over the not so dull moments

As I often remind myself that there is never a dull moment around Lakeshore, today proved to be a day full of not so dull moments. Things began this morning when a semi with 10 pallets of food came from the Bay Area Food Bank to deliver some food that we had ordered for the distribution center. Since we just recently lost the school gym we don't have a lot of room to put a lot of things. But we took the delivery man to the new warehouse and we worked out a way that I would be able to pick up the pallets with the fork lift and get them into the warehouse. That was all good, except I seemed to be good at ruining things while I got the food into the ware house. Somehow I managed to put a hole in the concrete with the weight of the forklift but worse than that I tore of a small piece of siding that bordered the edge of the door. Though not to make myself look like I am a terrible forklift operator, there is literally 1/4 to 1/2 inch clearance between the fork lift and the header of the garage door. So you have to have things just right in order to make it in, but with a full pallet of Macaroni O's and beef it's hard to get things just perfect.

Later in the day Kristy, Pastor Don, and I were driving down the road and things were not feeling right as I drove the van. When we arrived at our destination we checked the tires and made sure the lug nuts were not loose. After dinner Kristy and I decided to hit the road before it got dark and I'm glad we did. About 20 minutes down the road we heard a hideous noise - scared me half to death. I wasn't sure what it was but the van seemed to drive ok after that so we slowly drove to the next exit and called for help. It ended up being the tire - it didn't blow but all the tread came off. James came to rescue us and brought us back to Lakeshore safe and sound.

While it proved to be a destructive day for me, there was nothing that happened that the Lord didn't know about or was in control of. With the delivery of the food, the Lord continues to provide for the folks in the community of Lakeshore that come through the distribution center. Over 2,000 families each month flow through the distribution center and food is place on their FEMA camper trailers or clothes cover their bodies. The man made destructiveness was really insignificant.

Tonight the Lord kept Kristy and I safe as we travel down I-12. There are many different scenarios that have run through may head of things that could have happen. I am grateful the Lord kept us safe, kept the van on the road, and kept the other vehicles on the road out of danger. He brought us safely back to Lakeshore to continue ministering to the folks of this community that I've grown to love. Praise God for his sovereignty.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

sin - an opportunity for praise

I was speaking with a friend a few days ago on the topic of sin. It is not a surprise, I'm a sinner - saved by grace. But as I struggle with sin, the thing I struggle with the most is forgiveness. I know in my mind that as a believer if I sin and then repent, I am forgiven. I think the best way to describe what I am thinking and feeling is that I don't always fully believe that I am forgiven. The advice I was given was to turn to the scriptures. Expanding on this I was to focus on the forgiveness, focus on praising God that He would forgive even that sin.

The past few days I've been considering the opportunity to praise God after I sin and turn to him in repentance. How can I praise him and what specifically should I praise him for. Here's a few of those things, I'm sure I could list all his divine attributes and reasons why I am thankful he is divine and possesses those attributes, I could list all he's done for me and times I've been forgiven – his attributes and times I've experience his forgiveness are great and important to praise and be thankful for. But as a part of the advice I was given to turn to the scriptures, I've done just that. Here several reasons (though not an exhaustive list) that I am thankful and praise God that are specifically noted in scripture. I figure this gives me a great place to start giving God the glory.

Praise him for the fact that God even grants us forgiveness.
1 John 1:9 - If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Praise God for sending His Son as a propitiation for our sins.
1 John 4:10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Praise Christ who left his place in heaven to come to earth to die for sinners who would believe, for the only way one is saved is by the shedding of blood and a sacrifice.
Heb 9:22 - Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.

Praise God for He canceled out debt against him that we could never repay, through the death of Christ.
Col 2:13-15 - And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him

Praise Him that we can come to him when we fail.
Psalm 32:5 I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah

Praise Him that he continues to sanctify us.
1 Thess 5:23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Praise Him that when we are tempted it is not beyond what we can bear and that he provides a way out.
1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

Praise Him that He is sovereign. He knows what we will do, the choices we will make and yet he grants us forgiveness, grace, mercy.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Speechless, I Thy mercy trust

God, Be Merciful to Me
(Psalm 51)

God, be merciful to me;
On Thy grace I rest my plea
Plenteous in compassion Thou,
Blot out my transgressions now;
Wash me, make me pure within;
Cleanse, O cleanse me from my sin.

My transgressions I confess;
Grief and guilt my soul oppress.
I have sinned against Thy grace,
And provoked Thee to Thy face.
I confess Thy judgement just;
Speechless, I Thy mercy trust.

I am evil, born in sin;
Thou desirest truth within.
Thou alone my Savior art,
Teach Thy wisdom to my heart;
Make me pure, Thy grace bestow,
Wash me whiter than the snow.

Broken, humbled to the dust
By Thy wrath and judgment just,
Let my contrite heart rejoice,
And in gladness hear Thy voice;
From my sins O hide Thy face,
Blot them out in boundless grace.

Gracious God, my heart renew,
Make my spirit right and true.
Cast me not away from Thee,
Let Thy Spirit dwell in me;
Thy salvation's joy impart,
Steadfast make my willing heart.

Sinners then shall learn from me,
And return, O God, to Thee
Savior all my guilt remove,
And my tongue shall sing Thy love
Touch my silent lips, O Lord,
And my mouth shall praise accord

©1997 Christopher Miner Music.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Almost like I've heard this before

I am currently reading and enjoying the book All of Grace by C.H. Spurgeon. These are a few quotes from the book - though there is so much more - that have jumped out at me. Some things to remember...

"The salvation of God is for those who do not deserve it and have no preparation for it." - pg 13

"The grandest fact in heaven is this: Christ by His precious blood does actually put away sin. And God, for Christ's sake dealing with men on terms of divine mercy, forgives the guilty and justifies them - not according to anything that He sees in them or foresees will be in them, but according to the riches of His mercy which lie in His own heart." - pg 24-25

"This method of atonement is only known among men because it is a fact. Fiction could not have devised it. God Himself ordained it; it is not a matter which could have been imagined." - pg. 30

"Remember this or you may fall into error by fixing your minds so much on the faith which is the channel of salvation that you will forget the grace which is the fountain and source of faith itself. Faith is the work of God's grace in us." - pg. 44

"Jesus did not die for our righteousness, but He died for our sins. He did not come to save us because we were worth saving, but because we were utterly worthless, ruined, and undone." pg. 72

"The doctrine of the cross can be used to slay sin like the old warriors used their huge two-handed swords and mowed down their foes at every stroke." - pg 81

Monday, September 03, 2007

The Truth of the Cross

I just finished reading The Truth of the Cross by RC Sproul. This is probably one of the best books on the atonement that I've ever read. Sproul's book is dense, but easy to read and understand. He spells out the doctrines of grace and preaches the gospel very clearly throughout the book.

He begins the book with the fact that the atonement is necessary now, because it is such a debated issue. Sproul explains that God is just and would be right in punishing us for all of eternity. We are criminals, debtors, and enemies of God. But God having a plan sent his son in the person Jesus Christ to die upon the cross to be a ransom for those who would believe. The ransom Christ paid purchased his Bride and released us from the bondage of sin.

Sproul covers atonement, redemption, substitution, expiation, propitiation, and salvation. Helping the reader understand each of these theological words in a way they'd be able to explain it on their own.

One of the areas in this book that really put things into perspective for me was when Sproul writes that Christ was forsaken on the cross. The idea that Christ while on earth had intimate communion with the Father, then at the time of his death he was forsaken by the Father. This was in order that anyone could be redeemed and saved....

“The hard reality is this: if Jesus was not forsaken on the cross, we are still in our sins. We have no redemption, no salvation. The whole point of the cross was for Jesus to bear our sins and bear the sanctions of the covenant. In order to do that, He had to be forsaken. Jesus submitted Himself to His Father’s will and endured the curse, that we, His people, might experience the ultimate blessedness.”

This book will center your attention to the cross, Christ, and the atonement. It's available from Reformation Trust.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Quote for today, tomorrow...

I recently read this quote, it's really transformed my way of thinking.

"Wherever you are be all there. Live to the hilt every situation that you believe to be the will of God." - Jim Elliot

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

On the gulf coast two years later

I cannot pretend that I know the feelings of the residents of the gulf coast today, August 29. It was two years ago that hurricane Katrina ravaged the gulf coast and left the lives of many in shambles. Every home here in Lakeshore took on water, many of them were removed from their foundations or sucked out into the gulf.

I reflect back on that day, I was in my fifth year of college in Platteville, WI. Most of what I remember reading on the news was taking place in New Orleans because of the levees that had broke and the water that was filling the city. A few other times I saw pictures of casinos in Gulfport and Biloxi that had been tossed to and fro. I don't ever remember specifically seeing anything on Waveland or Bay St. Louis, though I may have, but nothing on the place called Lakeshore.

I knew Katrina had left massive devastation on the coast, but at that point, I felt, there was not much I could do. It was November of 2005 when I was presented with the idea from my Pastor to take a trip to the Mississippi gulf coast. He said he'd heard through a friend about a place called Lakeshore Baptist Church. So we began planning to head south. My pastor gave me the website address of the church and the pastor's blog and I began reading about Lakeshore Baptist Church – a place I'd never heard of, but eventually would fall in love with and spend a couple years serving

I was watching the local news last night, hearing them talk about the storm brought on some weird feelings. Feelings that in no way, I imagine, match the residents of the gulf coast. Feelings I cannot totally describe. There is a feeling of awe – watching the images of the storm come ashore makes me stand in awe of the power of our God. A power that I cannot fathom. I believe he is able to hold the storm in the palm of his hand and this storm was huge and powerful, but God's much bigger and much more powerful. There is an encouraging feeling as I continue to take phone calls and receive emails from people all over the nation that are planning trips to Lakeshore Baptist Church. I'm sure it's a different encouraging feeling – it's not my community or home that they are coming to rebuild. Yet there's still something about folks from all over coming to help and getting to see and meet them that is encouraging.

Though there's still a bit of sadness that grieves for the community. It has been two years and many in the area are still living in FEMA campers. Daily I see people come into the office that are looking for help. Some have started and need assistance with doing things they are unable to do. Others have no money and have nothing started and really don't know where to turn. Some are at their wits end and have lost hope. I pray for this community that they will continue to be encouraged and that those who feel like there is no hope and they have no place to turn, will turn to Christ, our only hope. God who became man, to live a life that we cannot live, to die for us, so that, those who'd believe would not face eternal judgment. The only One who can really give hope.

I cannot begin to communicate the feelings of the folks in the area, but I've been given the opportunity to be here and serve a community that hurting and to get to know the people affected by the storm. This has been an amazing experience. I've learn much about myself, but more importantly I've grown in the knowledge of God. His providence, His will, His provision, His sustaining grace, His mercy, His wrath, His glory.

Pastor Don also wrote a post today on the rebuildlakeshore website about the storm, his first blog post after the storm, the progress that has been made, and the fact that there is still a long road ahead of us.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

flat tires, gearing up, and sleep

This week has been pretty great. I've had a significant amount of time to sit a reflect on a lot of things that have been running through my mind the last several months and begin to correct some things that need correcting.

I got my first chance to change a flat tire, with some help from JoEll and Don. I will say I'd rather change a tire in the spring time in Wisconsin than southern Mississippi in the middle of August. But it was a great learning experience...last time I got a flat Greg and Don graciously came and changed it for me, since I had no idea what I was to do. I guess now I know.

Things around the church have been a bit slower this week, as we have no volunteers, but we have been able to catch up on a few things (at least I have) and get prepared for this fall. So that we'll be able to hit the ground running when the volunteers return in September.

As I got a chance to relax and spend time in the word and preparing for tomorrow's worship service, I listened to a sermon today delivered by CJ Mahaney. It was titled “A Biblical Understanding of Sleep”. In his sermon he addressed reasons why Christians may not be sleeping well, aside from the obvious late night coffees and ice cream, but those reasons give a great deal to consider about why we sleep and why we need it. Sleep being under the big umbrella of God's glory, that we should desire to sleep for the glory of God... “Do all things for the glory of God.”

1. Sleep is a daily Gift from God. God created and provided sleep. Psalm 127:2 “...for he gives to his beloved sleep.”

2. Sleep is a daily Reminder of our need for God. We are dependent on God. We are creatures. Have we acknowledged this? Psalm 3 - David slept at a time he was being pursed by enemies because he was dependent on God and he trusted God. We must trust God. Sleep is humbling because it is intended to be a daily reminder. We are vulnerable while asleep, but it is an opportunity to express our dependence upon God and trust God to protect and sustain.

3. Sleep is a daily occasion to examine our hearts before God. Psalm 4:4 “...ponder on your own hearts in your beds and be silent.” "Experience transforming grace resulting in refreshing sleep." Usually this is the first time we are able to examine ourselves and give close attention to our heart since our morning devotions.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Summer's Failure

Well I had great intentions of reading a few books this summer that I have been desiring to read for some time. Though...I only got to one of those (The Holiness of God by RC Sproul). This summer, however, was not all wasted to time on facebook, pacman, and reading blogs. Several other books were either brought to my attention or just looked interesting so I read them instead. This summer included A Taste of Heaven by RC Sproul, The Expository Genius of John Calvin by Steve Lawson, The Truth of the Cross by RC Sproul, The Purity Principle by Randy Alcorn, Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye by Carolyn McCulley, Feminine Appeal by Carolyn Mahaney, Stop Dating the Church by Joshua Harris, The Dangerous Journey by Oliver Hunkin, Family Worship by Don Whitney, Life As a Vapor by John Piper, and Come Back Barbara by C. John Miller.

From this list I cannot pick a favorite, however, Feminine Appeal was a great book and probably has the biggest effect on me. It helped to make me think more about becoming a godly woman and while it was directed more toward a married woman it was a great discipleship tool. Having been away from Wisconsin and the women who have spent nearly 6 years investing in and discipling me it was a great tool for me to continue to learn characteristics of being a godly woman.

So while I failed at completing the books on my summer reading list, it's been great to be immersed in doctrinally sound and challenging books even if they weren't on my summer reading list. I recommend all these books for reading, even The Dangerous Journey – yes I know it's a children's book...but it's a great overview of John Buyan's Pilgrim's Progress...which I intend to read at some point in the near future.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Gospel Saturated week

If there was one thing that has consumed my thoughts and providentially has been intertwined in almost every sermon, lecture, or book that I've heard or read in the past couple of weeks it has been the gospel.

It has been made very apparent that to me the gospel is essential to Christianity, since through it is the only way to be saved. But learning that the gospel is involved in every aspect of life and is essential for pursuing Christ-likeness has altered the way I've been thinking about things.

One of the first times in the past few weeks that this was really emphasized was in Pastor Voddie Baucham's talk on the discipling of children. He emphasized that when you discipline a child it's a great way to share the gospel with them.

In Stop dating the Church by Joshua Harris he says the gospel brings unity to the church. We can agree with people of other denominations over the non-negotiables, namely the gospel. It also brings us closer to one another and able to confront each other when one sins.

RC Sproul in The Truth of The Cross explains that the atonement was the only way to save us, the debtors, enemies, and criminals from the wrath of the just God.

In addition to those, I've heard sermons from Pastors Ascol, Elbourne and Piper all have referred to the necessity and importance of the gospel for believers in every aspect of life.

I keep asking myself... in all that I've heard and read lately, hasn't this always been the case? Haven't these men and others I am familiar with not preached this many times before, it can't be the first time. I know the gospel is important, but why all this emphasis on it now or have I just not paid close attention before or is this a much needed reminder?

While some of these questions are a bit rhetorical, all the talk of the gospel has made me think and brought me to some conclusions.
  1. The gospel is not only for unbelievers it is for both unbelievers and believers.
  2. I need to be preaching the gospel to myself.
  3. I need to be taking the gospel out into the community.
  4. We need to preach the gospel to each other as believers.
  5. The gospel is essential in growing in Christ-likeness.

I'm sure there is more lessons to be learned about the gospel and there will be other times that the gospel is made evident in preaching or in books. But starting now it is my plan to think about the gospel, preach it to myself, unbelievers and believers and pray God and the gospel would shape me into a godly women who forever desires to grow in godliness and Christ-likeness.