Thursday, June 29, 2006

Men, turn all your leading into serving!

I read a great John Piper sermon yesterday called, "Husbands who love like Christ and the wives who submit to them." I would recommend this article to anyone! It superbly unwraps God's true intention for serving and leading. I've included below the parts that most impacted me!

Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord. For Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church, and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. Even so husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. he who loves his wife loves himself. For no man ever hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." This mystery is a profound one, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church; however, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. (Ephesians 5:21-33).

"One of the things to learn from this mystery is the roles of husband and wife in marriage. One of Paul's points in this passage is that the roles of husband and wife in marriage are not arbitrarily assigned and they are not reversible without obscuring God's purpose for marriage. The roles of husband and wife are rooted in the distinctive roles of Christ and His church. God means (by marriage) to say something about His Son and His church by the way husbands and wives relate to each other...Sin didn't create headship and submission; it ruined them and distorted them and made them ugly and destructive.

Now if this is true, then the redemption we anticipate with the coming of Christ is not the dismantling of the original, created order of loving headship and willing submission but a recovery of it from the ravages of sin. And that's just what we find in Ephesians 5:21-33. Wives, let your fallen submission be redeemed by modeling it after God's intention for the church! Husbands, let your fallen headship be redeemed by modeling it after God's intention for Christ!

Therefore, headship is not a right to command and control. It's a responsibility to love like Christ: to lay down your life for your wife in servant leadership. And submission is not slavish or coerced or cowering. That's not the way Christ wants the church to respond to his leadership: he wants it to be free and willing and glad and refining and strengthening...

Headship is the divine calling of a husband to take primary responsibility for Christ-like, servant leadership, protection and provision in the home.

Submission is the divine calling of a wife to honor and affirm her husband's leadership and help carry it through according to her gifts...

Submission is an inclination of the will to say yes to the husband's leadership and a disposition of the spirit to support his initiatives. The reason I say it's a disposition and an inclination, is because there will be times when the most submissive wife will hesitate at a husband's decision. It may look unwise to her. Suppose it's Noel and I. I am about to decide something foolish for the family. At that moment Noel could express her submission like something like this: "Johnny, I know you've thought a lot about this, and I love it when you take the initiative to plan for us and take the responsibility like this, but I really don't have peace about this decision and I think we need to talk about it some more. Could we? Maybe tonight sometime?"

The reason that is a kind of Biblical submission is because 1)Husbands, unlike Christ, are fallible and ought to admit it. 2)Husbands ought to want their wives to be excited about the family decisions, because Christ wants us to be excited about following his decisions and not just follow begrudgingly. 3The way Noel expressed her misgivings communicated clearly that she endorses my leadership and affirms me in my role as head."

Monday, June 26, 2006

conviction about prayer

"pray without ceasing,"1 Thessalonians 5:17

Every believer should be about the business of prayer. Prayer allows us to come into the throne room of the Most High. We are not allowed to come in on our own merit, but by the blood of the Lamb that was slain for our sins so that we may wear His righteousness. This is no simple matter, God gave His own beloved Son because He is compassionate and merciful towards undeserving and wicked sinners making a way for us to commune with Him.

It is easy for me to discount prayer. A prayer that I will probably always pray is that God will increase my desire for Him. I am commanded to pray without ceasing, (Romans 12:2), but that is rarely the case even though prayer is effective (James 5:16). If I want to fight anxiety I must be a man of prayer (Philippians 4:7). If I want to know more of God’s Spirit I need to be a man of prayer (Ephesians 6:18). Paul states that the only thing that should interrupt marriage is a season of prayer and fasting (1 Corinthians 6:18). Peter calls for two things as we wait for Christ return 1)Love one another and 2)To be serious and watchful in prayer(1 Peter 4:7).

I always find myself amazed at the high priority Scripture places on prayer, but yet how easy it is for other things to deceive me and make me think they are of higher importance. In reality, the most powerful thing I can do every day is to have “eyes of faith and knees of prayer” (Thomas Watson).

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Kitchen Tips...

As I am trying to learn to be a good wife (which I will be in 5 months and 3 weeks!) One of the important things that I want to pursue (by all means not the most important) is learning to be a better cook. The journey getting there has been a bit discouraging at times as I am finding out cooking is just not that easy! But I am determined to learn from my mistakes and press on!

So I will begin my "Kitchen tips of the week". My goal is to try a new recipe every week and if it's good I will post it, if it's not then I will just tell you about it. I also will tell you what I find out on the way so those of you "experienced chefs" can just laugh at my ignorance, and those of you who are like myself can learn from my mistakes. For example, last week I learned that:

1) When cooking garlic if it burns even a little bit it's pretty much ruined so you need to start over before you add it in with the other ingredients. Trust me on this one, when I didn't follow this advice my lasagna ended up tasting like a big Italian cigar!

2) When making brownies from scratch if you want a "healthier alternative" you cannot just substitute all the sugar for splenda you have to do 1/2 sugar and 1/2 splenda. Or else you will find like I found they come out pretty flat..pretty dry..and really not very sweet at all!

One of our favorite recipe's lately that is very simple is
Hummus Pizza
Can of Pillsbury pizza dough (sometimes we make our own crust it just depends)
About 3/4 cup of hummus (My favorite brand is Cedar's I think it has the best flavor)
2 Tbs. yellow corn meal (this is optional- it makes the crust crunchy
1 Teas. Garlic powder
3/4 Teas Oregano
2 cups chedder mixed with mozzarella (you can do just mozzarella but the chedder tastes yummy with the hummus)
We usually add tomato (I like to let the tomato drain on a paper towel a little after I slice it so it doesn't make the pizza soggy) and a mixture of peppers (green, yellow, red, orange) and onion. But it tastes yummy with any kind of topping you you can just add what you like

Preheat oven 400
Grease pan and spread cornmeal over bottom of pan then add dough
Bake crust for 8-10 minutes (or according to package instructions)
Smooth hummus evenly over crust with spoon/spatula
Sprinkle oregano and garlic powder over hummus
Spread sliced tomato over hummus
Add half of cheese over tomato
Add other toppings of choice
Sprinkle remaining cheese over final toppings
Bake for 5-11 minutes or until crust slightly brown and cheese melted

One thing we have found with this recipe is dont overdo it with the hummus. If you add too much the flavor can be overwhelming and the dough can get a little soggy. So you should just have a thin layer of hummus on the dough.

So that's all for now....until next time!

Friday, June 23, 2006

Tending to the field

3 “Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. 4 And it happened, as he sowed, that some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds of the air came and devoured it. 5 Some fell on stony ground, where it did not have much earth; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of earth. 6 But when the sun was up it was scorched, and because it had no root it withered away. 7 And some seed fell among thorns; and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no crop. 8 But other seed fell on good ground and yielded a crop that sprang up, increased and produced: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.” Mark 4:3-8

I was reading this parable the other day and realized something I had never realized before. When a seed is sown four things can happen. 1)It falls to the wayside and there is no growth. 2)Stoeny ground with growth, but no lasting effect 3)Throny ground that has growth, but no crop. 4)Good soil with growth and an increase. The conviction I felt as reading this is my role in this process. I am not just a spectator, but there is an active process in caring for souls and not just gravitating to those that can help me grow or who can serve me.

I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. 7 So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. 1 Corinthians 3:6-7

Do I go to the rocky or thorny soil and water it? Do I tend to that soil and help to cultivate it for growth? We are not just called to sow seeds, but also to make disciples. There is no such thing as a lost cause or soil that can't be redeemed. When you look at the apostle Paul, the disciples probably thought that was the worst soil possible for a seed, but because of God's grace he yielded an increase. I owe a debt of gratitude to those that poured their lives out for me and watered my soil. God does not need me to bring the increase, but what a privilege it is to labor for Him in this work.

This passage doesn't just have a context for caring for younger believers, but also for husbands as they lead their wives. Husband's must water the souls of their wives with the washing of the Word. What better way to love her then to help her know the true source and ultimate manifestation of love. There is no better place to lead your wife then to the one who loved her so much that He would die for her. When a husband seeks to nourish the soul of his wife then he is truly seeking humility as he seeks to decrease so that Christ may increase in her life (John 3:30).

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. Ephesians 5:25-29

Thursday, June 22, 2006

They grow so fast..

I was able to spend some time with my nephew Isaiah yesterday, we had so much fun! He is getting so big...and he is becoming more and more fiesty, especially at naptime! He is starting to hold onto things to stand and if you lay him on his tummy he will squirm around on the floor to get from place to place. He also has started to say Ma Ma and Da Da...but he also says ga ba da la fa sa... so it's not clear yet if he know's what he is saying ;)
Enjoy some updated pictures!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Husbands love your wives...

Husbands love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.
Ephesians 5:25

This is a passage that I am so familiar with I have read over it many many times. However, this morning as I was reading The Passion of Jesus Christ by John Piper something new struck me. In chapter 35 Piper makes the connection in this passage between the husband and Christ:

"Husbands are not Christ. But they are called to be like him. And the specific point of likeness is the hunsband's readiness to suffer for his wife's good without threatening or abusing her. This includes suffering to protect her from any outside forces that could harm her, as well as suffering dissapointments or abuses even from her. This kind of love is possible because Christ died for both husband and wife. Their sins are forgiven. Neither needs to make the other suffer for sins. Christ has borne that suffering. Now as two sinful forgiven people we can return good for evil."

Now what stood out to me most in this passage was how the husband is not only called to suffer to protect his wife from any potential harm, but he is called to suffer dissapointments and abuses that come from the very person he is suffering to protect! Now when I was thinking about this even more I began to see this example of Christ-like love in Lew. And the more I thought about it the more I thought about the example Lew is to me of Christ. It's amazing how I can get familiar, even comfortable with how gracious Lew can be at times, but I am praying even now that God will give me a fresh awareness of how undeserving I am of any mercy at all. Lew has stuck by my side graciously loving me through some difficult times, he has loved me when I am almost impossible to love, and this is even before we are man and wife. He has gone beyond what is comfortable in order to obey God, serve me, and display Christ in his actions. And the result of this? I get to see and understand more the love of Christ. Through Lew's earthly example, though it is still imperfect in some ways, is an example of Christ's sacrificial love for me. It is an example of the way that Christ suffered for me, a sinner, to the point of death in order that I may gain his righteousness. Christ has suffered all the dissapointments and abuses from me past present and future. And ultimately it is Christ's suffering and sacrifice that makes it possible for Lew to love me and sacrifice for me. What a beautiful display!

Lew my love, I am so grateful for God's grace in your life! Thank you for showing Christ to me.

"The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love."
Psalm 103:8

Monday, June 19, 2006

Give Me Jesus

"Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." (Romans15:13)

The above verse is very applicable to me right now. There is definitely a temptation not to have my hope be in Him. This easily leads to a lack of contentment. For instance, I've had people ask me how many days until the wedding. I've had to explain to them that I've stopped counting. Counting down to the day of wedding led me to hope in that day more then I hope in God. I've actually noticed that pattern in my life, that I will hope more for future earthly events then in the goodness, power and love of my Lord. When I kneel before the cross, I realize the ultimate reason for hope.

It's neat to think that the God we serve is the God of hope. If we place our trust and belief in Him and not anything earthly, then in all things we can be filled with joy and peace. He sent His son to die for us, so if God will do that for us, how will He not also do all other things (Romans 8:32). In whatever circumstance we are going through God wants us to be filled with hope because of the cross. The reason we can be filled with hope is because God's promises never fail. If we endure, we will obtain the promise (Hebrews 6:15). Therefore, let us always lay hold of this hope which is the anchor of our soul (Hebrews 6:19-20).

"For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. (Romans 8:18)."

Thursday, June 15, 2006

My visit to the ICU

I had the pleasure of shadowing my sister-in-law Rachel at her job in the ICU at Georgtown University Hospital on Monday. It was such a great experience. As a first year nursing student I must say that a lot of the nurses that I have seen at clinicals have not been very inspiring. A lot of them complained about their jobs and spent a lot more time eating and talking then taking care of their patients. But being at GUH was so different. The nurses actually seemed to like their jobs! Not only that but working with Rachel was sooo great!

When I met Rachel before her and my brother Jeremy were married she was still in nursing school at GU, and I was struggling with whether or not I should try to go back to school for nursing. Rachel was a vital instrument that God used to encourage me to to go back to school, and here I am now! So needless to say I look up to her and respect her a lot.

We had 2 patients, one who was very sick and the other who was not quite as sick. It was really neat to see Rachel's care for her patients, her dilligence in the many different tasks she is responsible for, and how much she knows about nursing. We had some really funny experiences, a few that involved cleaning up not so pleasent "body excretions" to put it nicely (no Jeremy this isn't what we did all day), and another that involved one of the patients funny hand motions that he used when he wanted more pain medicine. Oh and not the mention the patient who didn't want to go to the bathroom (were not talkin about number 1 here folks) so he kept trying to hold it...and well lets just say Rachel snuck in 2 doses of lactulose and he didn't have much choice!

Either way it was a really fun day and made me think more about potentially working in the ICU for my first few years.

Thanks Rachel for letting me tag along with you all day. I respect you so much, and hope to be like you as a nurse one day!

How do you give honor where honor is due

I was thinking about the post I wrote last Thursday (you gotta give honor where honor is due). I feel like moving past this topic wouldn't be wise because I didn't really leave any application. One of the things I am strong at is knowing truth and not applying at. I figure if I am weak at finding application for Sciptural commands then either 1)Those who read this blog can give me good feedback or 2)Those who read this blog can find helpful suggestions.

How do we show honor to the important women in our lives. The key is through communication. Communication happens in two ways(bear with me here); verbal and non-verbal. When we seek to honor wives we must use not just words, but also action.

What does verbally honoring our wives look like. Just a few suggestions
  • Encourage more then discourage
  • Seek to build her up, especially with others
  • Pray for her
  • Ask questions about her day
  • Speak in a kind and gentle tone
  • Do not be condescending or belittling

What does non-verbally honoring our wives look like

  • Seek to serve instead of be served.
  • Know her schedule and when you forsee a rough day for her, have a surprise planned.
  • Know her likes and dislikes so you know what blesses her.
  • Know her fears so you can comfort her
  • Know her temptations so you can protect her
  • Know her needs so you can bless her
  • Know her limitations so you can better serve her.

As it appears from the above, to honor a wife verbally is a lot easier then doing it non-verbally. Before any action can take place, a husband must be a student of his wife. After being a student of his wife a husband can't just stand idly by once he's obtained that information about his wife, but he must use it to communicate love and affection. Anyone can read the lines of a script or say the right words, but living those words and truly being the part of a husband is only possible through the grace of God.

Feel free to comment if you have any thoughts about how to show honor and love, cuz we all know that I am no expert.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Roles and Goals

I had lunch with one of my groomsmen today and we were talking about the sanctifying nature of being in a relationship. He is newly married and he said that it's easy to believe the lie that his primary motivation for his growth should be to help his wife grow. I definitely know how easy it can be to lose sight of God's glory. We are commanded to do all things for God's glory, but honestly, instead of seeking of God's glory, I will seek Laura's approval or to please her.

As we were discussing this, we got on the topic of a leadership exercise that was given to me several months back by an older married care group leader called "Roles and goals." This exercise is helpful for prioritizing and also seeing where our energy and effort is going so we can best reach the goals that we've been called to. The number 1 role on every Christian's list is to be a disciple of Christ. Unfortunately with everything that cries out for my attention, from being a fiance, employee, etc, I've discovered that it is easier for that role to slide further down on the list.

I can have different goals that I want to achieve in life. My role may vary depending on the environment, but if I am to love Laura and love for the reason that God has created me, then ultimately I must always seek His glory above all else. All other roles are secondary. Only by accomplishing the goal of living for His glory can I accomplish any good.

"For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)"

Friday, June 09, 2006

Quick thought on leadership

I was reading Romans 12 and verse 8 struck. It is talking about leadership and those that lead should lead with diligence or zeal. I was curious about what this looks like and followed the cross reference to Acts 20:28. In Acts 20:28 I don't find a description of what leadership should look like, but the motivation for leadership. To provide a little context, Paul is exhorting the elders at the church of Ephesus and he says, "Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. "

Why should I be diligent and zealous in my leadership over Laura or in any other leadership context, because of how much God prizes His people. We are so precious to Him that He paid the highest price. He sent His son to die for us, so this His blood could make us acceptable and bring us into relationship with Him. My motivation to lead diligently or with zeal isn't because those that I am leading are worthy or eager to get behind my leadership, but because God crushed His son for them. Because the lamb of God is worthy and was slain, I will lead in a manner worthy of the Gospel.

"I come by the blood
I come by the cross
Where your mercy flows from hands pierced for me
For I dare not stand on my righteousness
My every hope rests on what Christ has done
And I come by the blood"
"I come by the Blood," Steve and Vicki Cook

Thursday, June 08, 2006

You gotta give honor where honor is due

"Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered." 1 Peter 3:7

On Monday night Laura and I were talking and she made the comment to me about feeling spoiled. I told her that I didn't want to feel spoiled, but to feel honored. Something that I tell her often is that I want so spend my life serving, blessing and honoring her. It is a clear mandate that men have from Scripture. There is a great chapter in the Exemplary Husband that expands on the idea of living with your life in an understanding way from 1 Peter 3:7. Today's post will look at that verse and what Scott has to say about it.

The word "Live" comes from the greek sunoikeo, which means to contiually dwell together with. The idea of living with our wives in an understanding way and showing them honor should never cease, but be regular like breathing. Just like our lives should be a pursuit after God, they should also have a pursuit after understanding and honoring our wives. For the commands of this verse there is no vacation, but it's a way of life.

The word "understanding" comes from the greek kata gnosin, which means according to knowledge. There are two types of knowledge that Peter is referring to in this verse. 1)A man's knowledge of his wife and 2)knowledge of Christian principles. This information is crucial and should guide a man's daily living. Understanding our wives is very important, because as we seek to give them honor, we have to know what honors them.

Honor is the highest degree of esteem and thankfulness. Peter uses an analogy to describe how we are to give honor. There are three key words here to break down; "showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel." The word, "as" in the greek, means "hos" which mean "like," or "in the manner of," so we should give honor to wives in the same way we would a weaker vessel. To break it down even more the word weaker can mean strengthless or fragile and the word vessel means useful container. When we put all of this together, how do we honor wives? "We are to treat our wives in the we would a very delicate and useful vessel...Every husband needs to honor his wife treating her as a delicate possession (Scott, 199-200)."

Now we move on from the how do we honor our wives to why do we honor wives. Once again the word "hos" (as) appears, but this time instead of making analogy, it states an actual quality. Laura is a sugkleronomos, an equal participant in glorifying God and an heir together in Christ. She is not lesser then me, but instead she is a complement to me. I do not look down on her because we are both sinners made in God's image that are daily in need of grace. I esteem her with great value because just like me she has been bought by the priceless blood of the lamb.

Edit: More coming soon on Biblical manhood. Sorry ladies, I won't say too much on Biblical womanhood because I haven't read much about being a woman.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Nothing is Beyond You

One of the interesting things about reading Romans is that you see Paul being very cut and dry. In Romans, Paul is laying out the theology for a church that he has yet to speak to, whereas, in all the other epistles, Paul is writing to people he already knows and there is almost a more personable touch. Take the church in Philippi for example where Paul states early on:

Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, 19for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.[a] 20I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. 25Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, 26so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me. (Philippians 1:19-26).

Paul is in essence telling the church of Philippi what application of Romans 8:28 looks like. I love v.24 of this passage. Paul is in prison and instead of being despondent or feeling hopeless, he knows that it's necessary that he is there because God has a purpose and God is going to use him. Paul is not a man who is controlled by his circumstances, but instead he is focused on the objective reality of the cross.

Death used to be the enemy and the cause of fear, but it has been swallowed up in Christ victory on the cross, death no longer has any sting (1 Corinthians 11:54-55). Formerly, death had power to make us dread, but now God uses death as His tool to bring us to glory in His kingdom until Christ returns; what was once loss, is now gain. If God can do that to death, then He can use any circumstance for our good and glory. Whether it's sickness, loss of a job, singleness, financial trouble, or any thing that may appear out of our control, we must have confidence in the God that we serve. Walking by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7) means knowing that He is good and always does good to His children (Psalm 119:68).

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Don't give up...He's not finished!

I am a person who is easily surprised by the consistant appearance of the same sin manifested in a multitude of ways. I think this says a lot about my proud heart. When I am convicted of a specific sin I become ready to battle. In general I will write out my convictions pray and confess the specific sin, mourn over the sin, and immediately go to my battle plan. In my heart I am convinced I can overcome this....sounds like a godly pursuit..but shamefully Ive got it all wrong, there is something vital missing. Time and time again I use this plan when the Holy Spirit brings conviction, and find myself very soon discouraged and weary in the fight.

Today is an example. I woke up convicted of a grumbling complaining spirit, definately not a new area of struggle. I have become very aware of how often I am complaining in my heart and how drastically this is hindering my ability to grow. It's polluting my thoughts, my beliefs and my actions. The main way I was seeing this manifested was through my interactions with Lew (poor Lew!). In my heart I want things my way, I have a plan in my mind of how I want things to go, and when things don't go according to plan I begin to grumble in my heart, and then my complaining attitude shines through... most commonly Lew is directly in the line of fire. So this morning after God was kind enough to show me my sin, I went through my usual routine... I journaled on my conviction- how I had seen it manifested and how I wanted to grow. I spent a lot of time this morning praying through it and asking God to help me to battle this out. I created my battle plan and felt very empowered...ya know that spiritual sense of euphoria that comes when you feel like you've done something "right". Well, then reality hit and very soon after my "very spiritual morning" I was hit "smack" right in the face by my sin. I had not only down right complained in my heart but in my actions too-- The very thing I had spent all morning praying through, confessing, and battling out. Soon after followed the feelings of discouragment and more complaining. I thought: I did all the right things, how could this happen?? After wallowing in pity for a little while God gave me grace to humble myself and confess to Lew what was going on in my heart, he was able to ask two profound questions that brought the truth that I needed to hear.

The first: "Did you expect to see immediate growth?" According to God's word He controls every aspect of our growth

Romans 8:29-30: For whom he foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that he might be the firstborn among many bretheren. Moreover whom he predestined, these he also called; whom he called, these he also justified; and whom he justified, he shall also glorify.

So knowing this I should not expect to see growth based on my time schedule, but I should in faith wait on Him, knowing that "He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it" (1Thes 5:24) This is a promise that as we are called as His children he will surely complete our sanctification and growth. This also reminded me that my growth is not based on my own effort, just as I cannot earn my Heavenly Father's love...I cannot earn my right to grow. Though practicing repentence and taking sin seriously will help a Christian to grow, they still will only grow at a rate that God has planned for them in that specific season. So we must in faith sow seeds towards godliness, but not be surprised when we still see traces of our sinful hearts, this is a sweet reminder of our complete dependence on Him!

The second question was: "What are you more commonly thinking of- your sin and your inability to grow, or God's grace and His power that can enable you to grow and overcome your sin?" It was simple, my thoughts were geared more towards my inability and my failure, rather then on the power of Christ to help me to overcome. The promise I have is that Christ willingly gave his life as a ransom for my wicked soul to be redeemed. He faced all tempation yet never sinned so that all temptations I give into and every wicked deed I commit can be forgiven, but even greater I receive not only grace to be forgiven but grace to be transformed. Because of Christ I will grow-- it's a promise all throughout the New Testement. It is a promise that as believers we must preach to ourselves by the week, by the day, and some days by the hour. If we neglect to remind ourselves of this truth it will affect every aspect of our lives-- and if we sow to this pattern long enough it can and will lead to discourgement, feelings of condemnation, and despair. But the good news is we have a Savior who's gone before us ...
"Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ"
-1 Cor 15:57
Victory is ours-- Let us rejoice!!

So my hope is, by God's grace that I will continue to grow in dependence on his grace and that when I am convicted of sin I will first take it to the foot of the cross-- the cross of the one and only Savior- the only hope for victory over my sin...Though I continue to see my sin I can rest assured that He isn't finished with me yet.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen
Ephesians 3:20-21

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Memorial Day fun

So this weekend was our "one year since we met" anniversary. It was a lot of fun.. Saturday we went to sugarloaf mountain, Sunday we went to a cookout at my sisters house, and Monday we went to a brunch at a friend of Lew's on the roof of his apartment in Alexandria, VA... It was very nice...then we went to brookside gardens and spent a few hours there. It was a lot of fun, but I must say this weekend left me a little tired...and a little sunburned! Here are some pictures ;)

View from sugar loaf

Lew and Chad on the roof top

Lew, Chad, Greg, and Mark

more pictures..

Here's just a few more...

*The Functional Centrality of the Gospel in Marriage

"to be spiritually minded is life and peace" (Romans 8:6)

Men, we are called to be leaders, a leader has a goal and an aim for where he is leading people to. Ultimately, our goal should always be to lead our wives to God's truth that is found in the gospel. Just as spiritual mindedness is the key to life and peace in Christ, any marriage based upon the cross will find life and peace through being consistently fed God's truth and forsaking all things carnal. All problems in marriage come from a failure to apply the gospel. My primary role in leading Laura is giving her a greatuer understanding and appreciaiton for the gospel.

23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish." (Ephesians 2:23-27)

A verse I need to continually guide my leadership is John 3:30, "He must increase, but I must decrease." As I gain a greater realization of who I am and my sinful heart, I am given more motivation to direct Laura away from me and to God. If my goal is for Laura's sanctification then I should be constantly aware of my inadequacy and need for grace as I lead her to gospel truth. If our marriage ever becomes about me and my glory then I have failed. "Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, But to Your name give glory, Because of Your mercy, Because of Your truth (Psalm 115:1)." The most valuable thing I can give to Laura isn't financial freedom, a dream vacation or an amazing house, but His word and mercy is where great gain and contentment is found.

This should be an even greater motivator to my devotional life! How else can I lead Laura to a continual application of the gospel, if I myself am not doing that. The best leaders lead by example and not only by word. My life must be fixed on knowing God's truth. Everything else in the world will change. Circumstances will fluctuate, but "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever(Hebrews 13:8)."

As I become devoted to knowing God better and leading Laura in knowing God more, then our lives will be impacted by that truth. Any change and anything we accomplish for God's glory is all empowered by the Gospel. If we are to resolve conflict better, it is because of the gospel. To forgive one another as we continually sing against each other is only possible through the gospel. Any positive strides of stewardship, whether it be with time or money is motivated by the gospel.

I am always encouraged whenever I think about how the gospel has transformed a former co-worker of mine and her husband. The doctor informed them that their two option for kids were either adoption or IVF and at that moment her husband said to her, "our sins are forgiven. We are going to heaven!” and this gospel truth enabled them to walk through this trial with joy and hope in the greatness of the God they serve. They went to a seminar on IVF and discussed the option of adoption. Then God performed a miracle and in mid-October they are expecting a little one of their own.

Because of the cross we can have hope in the midst of all trials and know that if He can save wicked sinners like us, then He is more then able to deliver us from any trial.

*If parts of this post sounded unoriginal, specifically in the first paragraph, I paraphrased Mike Bullmore's message on the Functionality Centrality of the Gospel from the small group leaders conference and adapted it to what a husband's leadership should look like.