Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The Great Eight

John Piper calls Romans 8, "The Great Eight." As I've been gradually munching on the truths in this book, it's apparent why Piper would give it this title. First we need to start with Romans 7. The last two verses of Romans 7 presents the plea of every two believers: "O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin."

Although our natural bodies want to serve sin, we have been saved by Christ and our flesh serves the law of sin, but minds serves the law of God. This is fleshed out and explained in Romans 8:5-6: "For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace."

Being in Christ means that we face no condemnation for our sin. Instead of being recipients of God's holy wrath we got nothing but His grace and love. How do we know we are in Christ and saved by His blood, but by being spiritually minded and setting our minds on the things of the Spirit. Satan doesn't want us to be in Christ and will speak accusations to make us doubt our standing before God (Zechariah3:1-5).

Romans 8 is filled with so many nuggets of truth to prepare our souls for any of satan's attacks. The truth that all others is hinged on is Romans 8:1. We are free from any condemnation. Even though we have indwelling sin, the debt for it has been paid. In all of life's circumstance, this is what we must stand upon. Let this truth inform our souls when our flesh wants to give in to lies.

Lie: I've struggled with pride and self sufficiency for so long. Why hasn't God come to my aid? I'm really not sure if I am still a believer.
Truth: Romans 8:15-17 This lie reveals a misunderstanding of progressive sanctification. Sacnctification will never be finished in the life, but God is faithful and when we are glorified we will be from sin. The truth is that we are God's children and He will never abandon us. Instead of fearing sin and its effects, we need to fear God and know He has a perfect plan for our growth.
Implication: God is our father and He will provide everything we need for growth. Growth is a process and instead of being focused on our continual shortcomings, we need to 1)be confident of God's unconditional love for us and 2)be aware of the grace that is at work in our lives.

Lie: If God really cared then why would He allow me to suffer?
Truth: Romans 8:18 This lie makes God's care for us conditional upon our circumstances. The reality of the matter is that the sufferings we currently face are preparing us for a future glory. Our sufferings should create in us a greater longing for our home in Heaven. No suffering can compare with what awaits us in Heaven. Suffering on this earth should lead to thanksgiving because the hope we have far outweighs any trials or disappointments that we may encounter.
Implication: Suffering should increase our faith. We walk by faith and not by sight. When we suffer we should become more aware of Christ and His work on the cross. Christ came to suffer and be glorified through His suffering and so to should we seek our glory in knowing Christ through suffering.

Lie: How can I adequately pray in this situation? Can pray really aid right now?
Truth: Romans 8:26-27 Our prayer should be done by the power of the Spirit. When we pray it should never be about us, but the object of our prayer. We can never know all the details, or how to best pray for a situation, but we can be assured that God is all-wise and even when we don't know what words to pray God is fully aware and is always at work. We don't need to be eloquent, knowledgable or in a special prayer place, but instead totally dependent on God.
Implication: We should pray with confidence. God desires for us to pray, even in our weakness. Let's not pray with an attitude of self-sufficiency, but pray with a reckless abandon eager for God's spirit to be present and for God to work for His will and good pleasure.

Lie: I don't know how God will bring good out of my circumstances. I am sick...Friends are spreading rumors...My job is on the line...Do I have any hope?
Truth: Romans 8:28-37 We were enemies of God, dead in sin with wicked and deceitful hearts, but God has called us and saved us. He's given us a hope and taken our hearts of stone and made them soft. If God did that, then how can He not work all situations for our good! Because of the cross, God is on our side and there is no one better to have on our side. We are more then conquerors in Christ and nothing can hinder God's purposes in our lives
Implication: We can never move past the cross. What God did at calvary is the greatest act of love, power and goodness known to mankind. If He can take the worst of all sinners, me, and make me a part of His family and give me a hope and a future, then He truly can work all things for my good. It all starts at the cross. At the cross we are placed before an unparalleled grace and compassion on our lives. "He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?(Romans 8:32)" No other verse better sums up a power that can defeat our sin; a love that can conquer our rebellion; a wisdom that can solve our greatest need still have God be considered righteous.

This part 1 of a two part post. Tune in on Thursday for how this applies to leadership and what a leadership that seeks God's glory looks like.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Romance in practice

On my old blog people would request that I'd write more personal entries, for all the people reading and wishing for more of a glimpse of my personal life, here you go.

I want to regularly write about our dates, present and past because we've had some fun dates that I haven't made time to share with others about.

This entry is about a really fun double date that we did with our friends Hector and Kat last Friday. I've only hung out with Hector a handful of times, but whenever I do, I always come away from it thinking, "gosh, I want to hang out with Hector more often."

The evening started out at California Pizza Kitchen where the four of us enjoyed a meal and then us guys presented the ladies with a mission. I reached into my bag and pulled out an envelope and said, "Ok ladies, we have a mission for you. If you choose to accept, this mission involves three locations, three clues and three blessings. Each clue will lead you to a location that will have a blessing." The girls accepted the mission, but almost cancelled the mission when they found out they couldn't take us with them.

The first clue led them to Starbucks where we had a $10 dollar gift card waiting for them. After Starbucks the next clue led them to the Christian Bookstore where when we left the clue and we also left them gifts, a CD for Laura and a book for Kat. The last clue led them to Lake Whetstone where we were. Contrary to popular belief, we were not the blessing at Lake Whetstone, but we took them back to Hector's place and made dessert. I made chocolate covered strawberries and Hector made a passion fruit custard thingy. Oh yeah buddy!

Back at Hector's place we played "Settler's Of Catan." Before playing the game we had a good time of fellowship talking about conflict and communication. There may be a future post to come about this game because it truly is one of our favorites.

I am always marveled by the different way that guys and girls communicate. It's something that is cultivated from childhood. Girls are very relational where as guys are very object and task oriented. Girls grew up playing with dolls and having tea party with the purpose of relationship building. Guys on the other hand had army men with the purpose of accomplishment and destruction of the enemy. How does this practically play out in everyday life? Laura may come to tell me something wanting me to listen where as I am in seek and destroy mode and I am ready to draw her out and ask, "what lie are you believing? what does the cross say about this? who are you going to be accountable to?"

Statistically women use twice as many words per day as men. That makes sense, men solve the problem, task accomplished and no more need to communicate. Due to a woman's relational nature, it doesn't matter if a problem is solved, but communication is part of who they are and something all of us men can grow in to show care. Men and women are wonderfully different and there is so much we can learn from one another. Communication should never be about problem solving, but about care and showing affection. Solving a problem can be part of communication, but should never be the goal, the goal should be saying, "I am there for you." Part of this involves growing in being comfortable with silence, something I can definitely grow in, knowing that I am not called to always solve the problem.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Romance, not a novel concept

This post contains an excerpt from the married life blog that both Laura and I are big fans of. It's a post by John Loftness about romance. There is a popular misconception that romance is about physical intimacy. If romance was all about the pleasure we receive, then a 50% divorce rate would be justifiable.

In reality, romance is a pursuit of Biblical love. When we die to self and aim to sacrifically love another person, then that is when romance is achieved. The reason why it's so easy for romance to die is because we are by nature lovers of self. God's call to romance, is a call to bear our cross so that those that we love will better know His love. Neither Laura or I will ever truly ever be able to find true and satisfying pleasure in one another, which is why we must always be pointing each other to the cross, the only source of true pleasure.

John Loftness has four practical tips for achieving romance. After his tips are my thoughts in italics.

1. Feelings can never be the goal nor the ideal. Pursue God and your responsibilities to him (husbands love and cherish your wives; wives respect your husbands, etc.). Good Things Follow.
This makes me think of the passage in Galatians about sowing for good fruit. I have two options, I can for sow good fruit or bad fruit. If I am sowing to bad fruit, most likely, the results will come sooner and some of that bad fruit may even mask itself as good fruit. I am called to not grow weary of doing good and continually sow to what is true good fruit that has eternal value. Romance is work, but like anything that is not imitation, good things follow.

2. Don’t limit romance to the bedroom. Marriage is the union of two people, body and soul. It’s the intermingling of two lives, which means participating in each other’s thoughts, feelings, fears and joys. Nancy, my wife of 28 years, often surprises me with new ideas, new perspectives, new directions. As I ponder her unique personality and ways, it causes me to wonder. She’s more than a physical delight, and when I engage her whole person…Good Things Follow.
My friend Joe once told me that sex doesn't just begin in the bedroom. Instead, physical intimacy comes from knowing and appreciating the true person. True intimacy starts with words of encouragement and surprises that show a deep respect and desire to honor, cherish, serve and bless your spouse. Sex can be separate from romance, but that has never been God's purpose in romance. Romance isn't just a bedroom activity, but a lifetime pursuit of growing together and cherishing the uniqueness of the other person and what they bring to the table. Romance is an everyday activity for all the world to see for God's glory, not just for our pleasure.

3. Don’t allow any offense to go unreconciled. This may mean getting others involved to mediate. Resentment kills wonder and excitement. But when you are reconciled…Good Things Follow.
Is there a greater love story then the fact that while we were still enemies of God, that He would send His son to die for us so that we could be reconciled to Him. Let us imitate that love to our spouses, a love that seeks reconciliation and grace instead of a desire to be right and prove a point.

4. Take time regularly to cultivate the garden of your love. Isolate yourselves to talk daily. Take hours to be together just the two of you weekly. Get away, at least yearly, to focus on each other for days on end. Need I repeat myself?…Good Things Follow.
In the school of life, my goal is to major in knowing and loving God, followed by a minor in knowing and loving Laura. One of the things I get the most pleasure from is talking to Laura and being a student of her. She is so gifted and her thoughts are so gospel-saturated. It's neat to look back at some of the times when we talk late at night on the phone and not want to hang up. What excites me most about marrying Laura is that I am marrying my best friend!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

My cause and example for love (Part 2)

6You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.9Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him! 10For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! (Romans 5:6-10).

Romans 5 has always been one of my favorite chapters of the Bible (ok, they are all my favorite, but in a tie breaker this one comes out close to the top). Lately, it's just really come more alive to me. Even though that last post opened with a verse from Philippians, it was inspired by Romans 5:5. These next four verses from above totally speak to my self centered pride. Stuart Scott calls self centered pride when thoughts, words and actions are centered around my agenda, problems, lacks, desires and needs. When I think about my own self centered pride, I think about how people can inconvenience me and how I want to be exalted instead of serving others.

The key to fighing my selfishness is by meditating on the crucifixion. When I see how much Christ gave of Him self and His humility that brings so much conviction to me and hatred of this sin.

While I was still His enemy, Christ carried a 110 pound tree to the place of His execution so I could be reconciled to the Father.

As a traitor to the most glorious and holy One Christ had railroad spikes driven through His ankles and wrist for my sake.

When I was dead in trangression and sin, He was whipped, bruised and suffocated so that I could be made alive.

What amazing love, that the High King of Heaven would step down from His throne, take on flesh, become covered in my sin, so He could pay the debt that I owed on the cross carved for me and wear a crown of thorns I deserve so I may be crowned in glory with Him.

Think about this, Christ was God and I was ungodly, which means, I was the complete opposite of God, but He died for me. By Christ blood, by His sacrifice, by His death; I am saved from God's wrath. The beloved son of God took on the infinite wrath of the Father so that I may have peace with God. If Christ would do that for me, if He would show me such love, then how can I not die to self and seek to imitate His love to Laura. There is no inconvenience or suffering that is comparable to what Christ went through to me. Any time my "needs," are not my meet, my "desires,"or my agenda forsaken, I just have to look to the cross and see that my "sufferings" are only light affliction compared to the suffering that allows to me always be doing much better then I deserve.

4 Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:4-6)

Christ- the end of the Law

I know, long time no see! Where have I been hiding you may ask.... nowhere really I think I have been hiding from my computer since my semester ended. I must confess Lew is just a better blogger than I am, but I guess I will get the hang of this eventually.

I was reading this morning in Romans and was really encouraged by chap. 10 vs 2-4:

"I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God and seeking to establish their own, they do not submit to God's righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes."

I can bear witness for myself that it is so easy to have a "zeal for God" based on my own good deeds. There are days where I will have a great day whether it means doing well in school or at my job, or even Lew and I would have a conflict free day where we communicated really well and overall I would feel encouraged. Then there would be days quite the opposite; I didn't do so well at school/work, Lew and I had a conflict or I sinned against him in some way then the feeling hits....discouragment. I am realizing more and more that what this says about me is basically I am proud and carry a sense of my own self righteousness. I am so grateful that we have a patient Lord who is willing to work with us and pour out grace abundently. God's word is clear for those who have put there faith in Christ that Christ is the end of the law--we cannot through our works earn righteousness "for if justication were through the law then Christ died for no purpose." (Gal 2:21)

So whether or not I have a "good day" or "bad day" God's love for me never changes-- when he looks at me he see's the righteousness of Christ. The most beautiful part is how undeserving I am, I know that nothing I could have done could earn this for me, it is truly God's diving love and mercy.

CJ Mahaney sums it up well in his book Living the Cross Centered Life

"I know the temptation to legalism. That's why when I complete my daily devotions and close my bible, I make a point of reminding myself that Jesus' work, not mine, is the basis of my forgiveness and acceptance by God. I pray, 'Lord, I ask for Your grace and strength as I seek to serve you today. I thank You that all Your blessings flow to me from Your Son's work on my behalf. I'm justified by Your grace alone. None of my efforts to obey You and grow in sanctification add you Your finished work at the cross.'"(120)

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

My cause and example for love

"Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. 5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross." Philippians 2:3-8

I am thoroughly convinced that there is no way that I can love Laura apart from the cross. Because God has poured out His love into my life (Romans 5:5), I am able to know what love is and to freely give that love away. Rich Mullins describes this richly in a song called, "All the way to kingdom come," as he speaks of Christ: "We didn't know what love was 'til He came And He gave love a face and He gave love a name And He gave love away like the sky gives the rain and sun...Now we know what love is 'cause He loves us "

By nature, I am selfish and love myself, but through Christ death and resurrection I have been given a new heart, a heart that loves God and seeks to see Him increase (John 3:30). As God increases in my life, I decrease and I also desire to view others better then myself, especially Laura and her needs. If not for Christ and the Holy Spirit strengthening me, then there would be no way that I could look to Laura's interest above my own. Because the mind of Christ is growing in me, I can be a servant and put to death my desires and bear my cross daily.

To have a marriage that shows my love for Laura is to have a marriage centered on the cross. When the cross is central everything I say to Laura will be seasoned with grace to encourage and lead her to Godliness. When the cross is central my leadership for Laura will be personified by sacrifice and humility with a desire to glorify God and serve her. When the cross is central all my decisions will be made with God's holiness in mind so that we can be set apart for His purposes and distinguished from this world. As the cross remains central the two highest priorities of study throughout my life will be first and foremost God's Word and second will be Laura as I will never stop learning about her. With the cross central to my relationship with Laura my prayer is that during those Habakkuk 3 moments I can die to self and increasingly learn to be more patient, gentle and gracious.

As I know myself and my own nature, I know that my only success in this area will be because of God's grace in me and nothing of myself. I also know, that there will be times that I fail, many times that I fail. Because of the gospel, there is no reason to despair, but to praise God that there is no condemnation and that my ultimate sin in those times of failure is not against Laura, but against God. If God can forgive me, then Laura can forgive me.

The beauty of the gospel is that it doesn't just end at God forgiving me, but He will grow me and He will be faithful even when I fall time and time again. My marriage to Laura will be centered on the gospel; the gospel is my only hope. Without it, I have no hope of ever being able to truly love Laura. Thank God for the gospel, for Christ example to me in His love for the church, for Christ death to redeem me and make me His own and for Christ resurrection which exhibits His power over death and His power to defeat my sin and transform me to His image.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Time to get new flip-flops

I probably wouldn't have believed this unless I saw it in a magazine first. When you hear about shoes of the Fisherman, how can you not want to look into it and learn more.

Talking about walking in the steps of the Savior and having beautiful feet that bring good news

Don't forget about the sunglasses as well! They call these, "Terminator III: Terminate the devil"

Friday, May 12, 2006

We Walk By Faith

I've encouraged a couple of friends the past couple of days about God's sovereignty using this quote from "The Exemplary Husband," by Stuart Scott: "no one could improve on God's perfect plan and perfect purpose for your life...Every man who hopes to honor God and know true contentment in this life must be thoroughly convinced that God's ways are perfect."

I know that one of my biggest sinful tendencies when I look at circumstances is to ask the "what-if" questions to see what I could have done to avoid how I got to where I am. Even worse, I'll sometimes take my current situation and compare it to my ideal situation. It's almost like I have a chart that I want to show God and make the statement, "Now God, if you look at what we currently have here and what I would have preferred it's obvious that if we would have done things my way then things would have turned out much better then doing things Your way." Seriously, how ludicrous is that?!?!

Sinful thinking like this does not take into account the trustworthiness of God. It no longers takes into account the goodness of God. All of a sudden instead of God being all-knowing, His thinking and knowledge become wrong as I place myself on the throne and create the idol of me and my dreams.

When I am believing truth I have no reason to doubt God's plans for me. My pride is crushed as I realize that I don't deserve anything He's given to me, whether good or bad, and I worship Him for always treating me better then I deserve. When I bow before the cross I realize that He has done the ultimate good for me and will never cease to work all things for my good. As I view my life in light of the cross I see that I am a son because of Christ blood and the Father is continually growing me into His image, He doesn't always use the circumstances I'd choose, but He always uses those that are best and will work for my good and His glory.

I am finite, but He is eternal. He is all-wise and and I am a goober. God knows every circumstance and detail, even the ones that I don't know and when I humble myself before Him I realize that even though I may not know the end outcome, I can be confident that He will work all things for my good. When I take myself off the throne I realize that there is none like my Lord. He is majestic in holiness, awesome in praises and working wonders (Exodus 15:11).

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

who ever said that marriage will be easy?

"He gave up his comfort in order to gain eternal glory. Tomiss that is to miss the point. Likewise, God has purposed for all those areas where you experience pain and suffering to be the very places where he displays his sufficiency and so brings glory to himself. And not just so that you can see it, but so that the people around you can see it. Everything from looking for a job to facing surgery to working on a difficult marriage, those are the very things God has planned to use for his own glory." Mark Dever

Posted above is a Mark Dever quote from "Message of the New Testament," on the book of 2nd Corinthians. I've been thinking about this quote for a while, especially in light of what Tripp says in, "instruments in the redeemer's hands," about all of this life, especially marriage, being an engagement to Christ. If this life is preparation for our marriage to Christ and we are guaranteed to have struggles and trials in this life, then can it not also be said that marriage will have its fair share of trial and struggles. I don't expect marriage to be this blissful haven where all of my trials and worries will go away.

As I came across that above Dever quote above, I couldn't help but to wonder if there is such a thing as an "easy marriage." Marriage involves sacrifice and service. It's interesting because as I've read about people who have been married for less then a year and for almost 30 years, I have only become more convinced that marriage is about a daily bearing of the cross. Is there a better verse about marriage then Hebrews 12:1-3

1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

I kind of chuckled to myself as I read verse 3 and realized something I had never realized before. The sinful men it is referring to in verse 3 is myself. Laura and I are sinners. We are great at sinning, if there is one thing we do better then anything else, it's sin. Because of the example of Christ and His ability to forgive us and triumph over our sins, we will not grow weary or lose heart for loving each other.

Although marriage is much hard work, there is so much joy that can be found in it. Joy can be found in marriage for the same reason that joy can be found in all aspects of life, because of the cross and the Holy Spirit that enables us to be filled with joy. With the highest highs and lowest lows there is joy to be found because we are redeemed and made friends with the King, not because of any meritorious work, but because of His glorious grace. How much richer does the blessing of marriage become in light of how God has freed us from wicked humans wills and empowers us to glorify Him through marriage.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Quick Thought on Communication

I just got the book "The Exemplary Husband," and I am excited to start reading it. Specifically the chapter on communication.

Being a guy, I generally don't excel at communication, especially meaningful communication. Guys are great at communicating when they know no one is listening. Think about it for a second. Take for example, if a guy is watching sporting event on TV and the athlete clearly can not hear him, the guy will yell clear direction and opinion to the athlete on the TV screen. Granted, it would be logical that since the athlete is on tv and cannot read body language or even hear the loudest shouts to assume that any communication would be useless, but yet men of all ages attempt this.

If a guy needs to communicate something to a significant other, instead of using any and all means necessary to make sure they are on the same page, he will just remain quiet or assume she knows what he is thinking. A popular game many guys grew up playing is, "Guess what I'm thinking," where other people have to guess what you are thinking instead of clearly letting others know what you are thinking.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Thank God for rain

Today is one of those rainy days. Some people get depressed by rainy days because of the lack of sunshine that comes with them. Although it's dark and cloudy, there is still reason to rejoice, especially because of the majesty God. There are so many mysteries in nature that God has sovereignly ordained and is all-powerful over. Rain is one such thing where God displays His power. I've pasted an excerpt from a John Piper article below on rain.

"Is rain a great and unsearchable wonder wrought by God? Picture yourself as a farmer in the Near East, far from any lake or stream. A few wells keep the family and animals supplied with water. But if the crops are to grow and the family is to be fed from month to month, water has to come from another source on the fields. From where?

Well, the sky. The sky? Water will come out of the clear blue sky? Well, not exactly. Water will have to be carried in the sky from the Mediterranean Sea over several hundred miles, and then be poured out on the fields from the sky. Carried? How much does it weigh? Well, if one inch of rain falls on one square mile of farmland during the night, that would be 27,878,400 cubic feet of water, which is 206,300,160 gallons, which is 1,650,501,280 pounds of water.

That's heavy. So how does it get up in the sky and stay up there if it's so heavy? Well, it gets up there by evaporation. Really? That's a nice word. What's it mean? It means that the water stops being water for a while so it can go up and not down. I see. Then how does it get down? Well, condensation happens. What's that? The water starts becoming water again by gathering around little dust particles between .00001 and .0001 centimeters wide. That's small.

What about the salt? Salt? Yes, the Mediterranean Sea is salt water. That would kill the crops. What about the salt? Well, the salt has to be taken out. Oh. So the sky picks up a billion pounds of water from the sea, takes out the salt, carries the water (or whatever it is, when it is not water) for three hundred miles, and then dumps it (now turned into water again) on the farm?

Well, it doesn't dump it. If it dumped a billion pounds of water on the farm, the wheat would be crushed. So the sky dribbles the billion pounds of water down in little drops. And they have to be big enough to fall for one mile or so without evaporating, and small enough to keep from crushing the wheat stalks.

How do all these microscopic specks of water that weigh a billion pounds get heavy enough to fall (if that's the way to ask the question)? Well, it's called coalescence. What's that? It means the specks of water start bumping into each other and join up and get bigger, and when they are big enough, they fall. Just like that? Well, not exactly, because they would just bounce off each other instead of joining up if there were no electric field present. What? Never mind. Take my word for it.

I think, instead, I will just take Job's word for it. I still don't see why drops ever get to the ground, because if they start falling as soon as they are heavier than air, they would be too small not to evaporate on the way down. But if they wait to come down, what holds them up till they are big enough not to evaporate? Yes, I am sure there's a name for that too. But I am satisfied for now that, by any name, this is a great and unsearchable thing that God has done. I think I should be thankful–lots more thankful than I am. "

Friday, May 05, 2006

Sibling Rivalry

Yesterday was a loooooong day for me! Between work and school I was feeling overwhelmed! I had a good talk with my sister Hannah and she mentioned that she had sent me some pictures of my nephew Isaiah, and that they would definately cheer me up. She was absolutely right! I thought they might make you guys smile too! You can see the love between Isaiah and his "sister" Molly! Enjoy...

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Nevery by the letter, but always by grace through His Spirit

I was reading Romans 2 and the other day and the last two verses just totally rocked my world!

28 For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; 29 but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.

I had journaled on this passage, but my thoughts were kind of jumbled on it, so I want to give five quick points to take away from these two verses.

1)Being made right with God is because of what He does. Our justification is because of His work in our hearts. Therefore we have no reason to fear His wrath or losing our right standing with Him because it doesn't depend on us, but all on His grace. "So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy." (Romans 9:16)

2)The appearance of Godliness must mirror a humble heart that acknowledges any good work is by God's grace. All that we are and all that we will ever accomplish is by God's grace. On our own we can accomplish no good work. "But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me." (1 Corinthians 15:10). Once we become well acquainted with our hearts and our own sinful natures we will know that any good work we do isn't of ourselves, or our own strength, but all by God's grace working through us. The true Christian lives a life empowered by God's spirit because Christ dwells within his heart seeking to sanctify him daily.

3)Our lives should be lived for the praise of God. We should live only for the audience of one. "If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31) If no one can bring a charge against us, then why should there opinion or approval matter? Instead, let us live boldly with our hearts desire to be to hear, "well done good and faithful servant," instead of an empty praise from others.

4)The highest praise we can live for is God's. All awards, monetary gains and anything else from man is temporal and considered dung compared to the eternal worth of God's praise. If we ever find ourselves craving man's approval more then God then we've formed an idol. Our God is a jealous God and any idols in our lives take away from the true worship of the God who sent His Son to die for us so that we may have life and have it to the full. All idols are useless with power to save (1 Sam 12:21).

5)Because we are living for God and by His grace, we should not fear being transparent and sharing our weakness. Since God's praise is more important then that of men, let us live open and transparent lives that are characterized by humility because we can take joy in weakness knowing that His grace will be sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). What is outward has no weight, but instead what we shall prize is what God is doing inward. Let us show off our outward failings, knowing that inwardly the power of Christ is our delight.

Back on Track...

Yes I have been MIA since Monday or maybe even before that... These last 2 weeks have been quite the whirlwind for me since finals have come around! First of all I have never had finals spread out over 3 weeks before (not sure if I like it or not) and never have finals provoked so much stress before! I feel as though I have been on another planet for the last few weeks..but no fear I have returned. I still have one cumulative final on Monday but then I am done...at least for 2 weeks until my summer class starts ;) God has proven himself so faithful though. The very fact that I survived this semester is only by God's grace, it is truly quite amazing! It gives me much faith for my last year and a half of nursing school.

Soon to come.... more encouragement of God's grace in Lew's life.... 2 days before his birthday! I will post more later.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


A quick observations about conflict. Conflict is pretty much rooted in two things.

1)We are both sinners.
2)Poor communication because I expect Laura to be a mind reader.

Honestly, I was hoping that when we got engaged, I could give Laura a secret decoder ring that would take thoughts from my head and put them into her head to alleviate those communication problems. Unfortunately there aren't any decoder rings like that. Even if there were, we'd both still be sinning constantly. Thankfully there's grace and God has a plan to sanctify us and conform us to His image until we are in Heaven. Plus the ring I gave Laura is better then any mind decoder ring that could be invented anyway.

Little Bit of History

I added some new links to my blog. They are from Bob Kauflin's blog on blogging to worship God. Bob has some great insights on this subject. Honestly, I struggle with blogging, especially my personal life because I see so much pride in me. I feel like when I blog about my personal life I am walking that fine line of glorifying myself or glorifying God. Near the end of my blogging with xanga, I rarely ever had a personal post, but it was always about what I was learning from God.

My original blog was meant to keep in touch with friends. I am guessing some of them won't read this blog, because it's another step where as with xanga you could just subsribe. For those of you who like subscription, I do have an rss feed on here and I will be adding a link soon for that. Even through the blog, I felt like I lost the connection with some friends. Virtual community has nothing on a real community.

One of the things I am excited about with this new blog is that Laura and I can post together on it. We can chronicle our journey through engagement and even into marriage. I had actually thought about doing this before we were engaged and created a blog called, "Sinners in need of Grace." We both definitely need grace and God has definitely been generous in giving us grace.

My prayer with this blog is that it won't be about us or a place to feed our ego's. Instead, a place about God and His glory, where we make much of the cross and how it has impacted our lives. Really, without the blood of Christ we would not be together and really not have anything worth saying.

Tell it like it is

My roommate collects baseball cards and I was looking at one of the packs and it said, "Suggested retail value is $4.99. Fleer does not, in any manner, make any representations as to whether any of its cards will have or attain any present or future value."

Good thing I am not in public relations, because I like to tell it like it is. If I wrote that little blurb for Fleer it would say, "we want you to pay $5.00 for this pack of cards, but you've been warned, right now it might not be worth something and in the future it could still be worth nothing."

Thankfully we've been redeemed by something of more value then Fleer baseball cards.

17 And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; 18 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. 20 He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you 21 who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God (1 Peter 1:17-21)

Monday, May 01, 2006

Happy 6 days until your Birthday!

Yes, today is six days before Lew turns 26! Yay....so my goal is to find a new way to encourage him each day leading up to May 6th. There are so many ways I can find to encourage Lew; when thinking about this I was honestly having a hard time narrowing it down to 6 things! Either way I hope you guys enjoy sharing in this encouragement.

So today.....the most prominent thing that sticks out to me in Lew, is his JOY! He has a joy that is not only contagious, but it just makes all who see it want to smile and sometimes laugh. Even on my most moody and grouchy days Lew can still somehow find a way to spread joy... and sometimes make me laugh, which is no small feat! In fact one such event was last Thursday. I was preparing for a huge exam for one of my most important and difficult nursing classes. He came over to help me study and as we were talking he shared one of those random "thoughts from Lew", those of you who know Lew well know exactly what I mean! So his thought was that if you were to look around at the other people in their cars when your driving home from work they all look pretty sad and depressed, as if they all just had the worst days ever. Well Lew's idea is that in order to spread the gospel without words he is going to be excessively joyful while he drives home. I am imaging Lew in his car dancing, smiling, and probably waving joyfully at these poor people who have had very long days.... just the thought made me laugh! But that's my Lew, and this is one of the reasons why I love him.

The best thing about Lew's joy is it isn't based on circumstances. His joy is rooted in the solid foundation of his salvation.... the cross. He reminds me of our Savior who "for the Joy set before him endured the cross" (Hebrews 12: 2). Lew isn't just rejoicing when he's having a great day and everything has gone according to plan...no, Lew is obeying the Philippians 4:4 command (rejoice again I say rejoice!) even when the circumstances are unfavorable and he doesn't necessarily understand what the Lord is doing. Why is Lew able to do this? It's not because he is just a joyful guy who has an optimistic outlook and always sees the bright side-- he is able to have a constant joy because the cross never changes. The message is the same from day to day-- that he is a sinner who was deserving of death but instead given life eternal and a promise for sins forgiven! Lew sees this message, he studies it, meditates on it daily, preaches it to himself....and the result....he lives it! So Lew I thank God for this joy and I know I am not the only one who benefits from it. I pray that God will help me to live with this kind of joy that celebrates in the truth regardless of my circumstances. Thanks for being a living example that the joy of the Lord is our strength!

" A joyful heart is good medicine." --Proverbs 17:22


Reading about the release of Barabbas made me think of my own sinful nature. Barabbas was a murderer and led a rebel. Is there any difference with me? In my younger years I had a period of rebellion until God became my shield and exceedingly great reward. Even though He is my exceedingly great reward, I still reward and choose the fleeing and worthless things of this world. I am also a murderer, because of my sin, the son of God died in my place, a death at my hands to make me an heir and give me a hope.

Like Pilate, I have a decision to make, will I live free in Jesus or mortify my sin. Because of comfort and popular opinion I will often release my sin and let it have free reign, while Jesus is hanging on a cross to save me from the things I choose over Him.

How shall I who call Christ Lord continue to release Barabbas, a murderer and rebel? If I am dead to sin and alive to Christ then why do I continually give into my flesh so Barabbas can be free and all the while shouts of “crucify” are being made to Him who made me alive? Praise God that His effectual grace has given me life and made me free. I am no longer controlled by my sin and forced to let Barabbas have reign over me. Instead, I can live free from sin, be a slave to God and bear the fruit of Holiness. (If this paragraph sounds famaliar, it was a paraphrase of Romans 6)