Wednesday, August 25, 2010

You Can Change

Our Fellowship Group (small group) leaders have been going through Tim Chester's "You Can Change" over the last several months. It has been extremely fruitful. Change is the agenda of our groups. The goal of our groups is not to just have weekly bible study or mere confession time. The goal is to change together by the radical grace of God. The book is highly theological, dripping with Scripture, yet highly practical, as Chester, a church planter and theologian, writes out of his many experiences he has led himself and others through.

Here are a few great quotes...

"One of our problems is that we think of holiness as giving up things we enjoy out of a vague sense of obligation. But I'm convinced that holiness is always, always good news." (p. 12)

“The message of this book is that change takes place in our lives as we turn to see the glory of God in Jesus. We ‘see’ the glory of Christ as we ‘hear’ the gospel of Christ. (2 Cor 4:4-6) Moral effort, fear of judgment and sets of rules can’t bring lasting change. But amazing things happen when we ‘turn to the Lord.’” (p. 23)

“The essence of holiness is not new behavior, activity or disciplines. Holiness is new affections, new desires and new motives that then lead to new behavior.” (p.33)

“Sanctification is the progressive narrowing of the gap between confessional faith and functional faith.” (p. 83)

“When we face temptation we need to say not only ‘I should not do this,’ but also ‘I need not do this.’” (p. 104)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Talking to yourself

I talk to myself frequently. Rachel catches me doing it and it gives her a good laugh. But I find solace in the fact that David and Paul do it too!

Check this out: David talking to himself -- "Why are you downcast oh my soul?...Hope in God!" (Ps. 42:5-6, 43:5)

And in Romans 6-8, Paul describes his fighting against sin like he's talking to himself --

1. "consider yourself dead to sin and alive to God in Christ" (6:11)
2. "what fruit were you getting from the things of which you are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death." (6:21)
3. "set your minds on the things of the Spirit..." (8:5)
4. "by the spirit but to death the deeds of the body and you will live...the spirit testifies that we are children of God...fellow heirs with Christ...suffering with him, that we may also be glorified with him." (8:13-17)

So how should we talk to ourselves as we are fighting our sin? Here's what I gather from these self-talkers:

1. Look at your sin and see how it can't deliver what it's promising. (i.e. approval, comfort, power, control)
2. Turn to God by the Spirit which testifies that you are a child of God, and heir with Christ, glorified with him. Fill your heart with these gospel promises of who you are in Christ.
3. Repeat steps 1 and 2.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Sin and Death as Illustrated by a Flying Roach

by Rachel

The other night I went into the bathroom to get ready for bed. I opened the shower curtain and immediately saw some kind of large insect on the shower wall, furiously flapping brown wings. I thought it might be a huge moth. At any rate I let out an ear-piercing scream and bolted out, nearly jamming a finger in the process as I banged it against the sink counter. Ben came in and after I told him what I had seen, he began searching the bathroom and finally found the unwelcome visitor - a big roach. Texas-style, large flying cockroach.

The roach proceeded to crawl out of the bathroom and head straight for my closet, to my horror. I knew that if we lost it in my closet, there was no way I was going into my closet for the next few days, and I was going to have to beg my sweet husband to get my clothes out for me. Thankfully, Ben chased the roach as it went in and started throwing a bunch of my clothes out as he followed it. After a couple of requests for tools to assist him in his mission and a couple of misses, he got the roach under one of my slippers (which will be washed thoroughly) and pounded his fist on the slipper until the roach was, let's say, no longer a threat. He flushed it down the toilet, and finally I could breathe again. The rest of the night all I wanted to do was hug him, tell him I loved him and thank him for saving me from that awful creature.

I guess the Holy Spirit got me thinking - I was overflowing with love and gratitude to my husband, even thanking him for "saving" me. Why do I rarely do that with God? Have I EVER done that with God? I realized that maybe I have never seen my sin and the penalty of it with as much fear, horror and desperation as I saw with that roach. What a weird thought, but it felt so relevant. I felt more horrified and in need of a savior at the thought of a flying cockroach coming at me or hiding in my clothes than I usually do at the thought of my disobedience to God and utter failure to measure up to His holiness and righteousness.

Thank You, Lord, for reminding me of Your gospel of grace in these little experiences. Thank You for providing for my ultimate need for a savior even though I often don't even realize my need. Thank You that it's only by Your grace that I am saved, and not by anything I do.

NOTE: Please do not let this story deter you from ever visiting our home! This is not a common occurrence. Besides, whose house NEVER has any kind of random vermin show up every once in a while? This is reality, people. :)

Saturday, May 1, 2010

think till you weep

Theology vs. practice. Orthodoxy vs. orthopraxy. Cold hard doctrine vs. loving people. Are these really two different things? Do we need concentrate on living out the gospel and stop thinking about the gospel?

I don't think these are two separate things. I had a seminary professor who would weep in class. We would be studying the greek text in the book of Luke, parsing verbs, talking about theology, and he would just weep. As we studied harder, as we thought more deeply, he would just get so overwhelmed at our great God, the mighty, gracious Redeemer who saved us. Thank you, Dr. Mcdonough for teaching and modeling for me to think till you weep.

Friday, April 23, 2010


I just got back from a conference for church planters called "Exponential." And there were just a couple of ideas/nuggets that really stuck out to me, and will stay with me for awhile, probably because they were just reminders about what God has been teaching me for awhile.

1. How you live tells me about what you believe.
What we believe about God (theology) is incredibly important. Everyone believes something about God. But don't just TELL me what you believe. Show me how that affects how you live. This is what the entire book of James is about. I can say that I believe that I am saved by grace through faith and not by my works, I can write a paper about it, and I can teach you a workshop about it. But then why I am so anxious and worried when I don't get people's approval? I say I believe in this right doctrine, but I actually am living like I am saved by people's approval, not by grace through faith. Ask this question: If I REALLY believed the truths revealed in the bible about God, how would that change the way I live? We need to love God with all our heart, soul and mind (Matt 22). Think and live. Live and think.

2. We're all addicted to something.
We live in an age where we have more channels on TV to watch than ever in history, more clothes in our closets, more food in our fridges, more computers/smartphones/ipads than ever. Yet we are more bored and empty than ever. A speaker said -- "our stuff just numbs us from our real heart problems." So one person uses heroin to numb him from the fears and difficulties in his life. And another person watches four hours of tv or surfs the web for hours. And another person cleans or organizes obsessively. Is it really any different? Procrastination is just another form of addiction. What do you use to escape, to run away? We're all trying to numb ourselves from the real issues in our hearts we don't want to face.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Subtle Effects of Porn on a Relationship

A sobering testimony I read today...

I have not mentioned the effect of lust on my marriage. It did not destroy my marriage, did not push me out find more sexual excitation in an adulterous affair, or with prostitutes, did not ever impel me to place unrealistic demands on my wife's sexual performance. The effect was far more subtle...

I stare at a Playboy centerfold. Miss October has such a warm, inviting smile. She is with me alone, in my living room. She removes her clothes, just for me, and lets me see all of her. She tells me about her favorite books and what she likes in a man.
Because I have... gone over every inch of Miss October as well as the throng of beauties that Madison Avenue and Hollywood recruit to tantalize the masses, I start to view my own wife in that light.... I begin to focus on my wife's minor flaws. I lose sight of the fact that she is a charming, warm, attractive woman and that I am fortunate to have found her.

Beyond that, lust affected my marriage in an even more subtle and pernicious way. Over time, I began to view sex schizophrenically. Sex in marriage was one thing. We performed OK, though not as often as I liked, and accompanied by typical misunderstandings. But passion, Ah, that was something different. Passion I never felt in my marriage.

If anything, sex within marriage served as an overflow valve, an outlet for the passion that mounted inside me, fed by sources kept hidden from my wife. We never talked about this, yet I am sure she sensed it. I think she began to view herself as a sex object - not in the feminist sense of being the object of a husband's selfish greed, but in the deprived sense of being only the object of my physical necessity and not of romance and passion.
- "The War Within", Anonymous, Leadership Magazine, Fall 1992

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Time Management Tips?

So one of my new year resolutions, really one of my life resolutions, has been to manage my time better. Here are a few things that I'm trying to do (that I usually don't do) that I'm finding really make a difference. They sound like no-brainers, but I think most of us don't actually do them, especially in our one-second-attention-span culture.

1. Make to-do lists in order of priority.
2. Do the hardest tasks before the easiest tasks.
3. Always finish a task (or a chunk of a task) completely before moving on to another task.
4. Check email and favorite internet sites less (i.e. limit facebook, ESPN, and CNN to once a day).
5. Preach the Gospel to myself. (If I find it difficult to do 1-4, it's b/c I'm not doing this.)

What have you found to be helpful?