posted in: random | 1

Happy New Year!  As I write this I’ve alreayd run a 5k (with a horrible time, but I did it), had a leisure brunch with 2 good friends, and am now watching the Gators, who seem to have forgotten how to play football, at least for the first quarter.

As I look back on 2010, I look back on it with mixed emotions:

1.  Love the friendships that God has sustained and used to nourish me…some in Louisville, some new and old ones here in the RDU area, and of course some fb and faraway love and friendship from people who don’t see me every day.

2.  I love my job that God has provided for me.  At the end of 2009, I knew this new job was coming.  I was so excited about it.  Then, however, I don’t think I knew what a HUGE job it was.  I mean, you know its going to be great and hard and a God-sized task – but its not until you have been in it for 9 months today that you reaize that you are totally inadequate for it, you are thankful for others who are a part of the journey with you, and you leave every day somewhat overwhelmed with what God has asked you to do.  He is good.  His grace sustains.

3.  The part of my life that I am most disappointed in at the end of 2010 is the lack of healthy living in 2010.  I have gained 25 lbs as of this morning, and that can’t be the case.  So…here we are back at it again.

4.  2011 will be the year of pushing it hard.  In every area: writing (job, blogs, book), exercising (1000 miles, at least 3 races, yoga, kettlebell routines, reading (1 book a week, and I read slow), relationships (which are key to live and I want to keep pouring into those, photography (I love this and I want to get better at it), and cooking (see paranthetical statement with photography).  And this is all not knowing what 2011 will hold…I’m praying some big prayers.  We’ll see how the faithful God and my Provider will answer those.

So, what I do know…God is gracious, faithful, and willing to forgive.  He is the constant and stable in my life.  He will be the same on Jan 1, 2012 as He is today.

But, I can change.  God’s power and grace gives me reason to change.  The cross is my ability to change.  The gospel must impact every area of my life.

Who will be on January 2012 when I will almost be 35?

Book Review: Radical / David Platt

posted in: Books, ethics, Worship | 0

There have been two similar books published in the recent past that were pretty much about the same thing: this one is better.  In my opinion, which really doesn’t matter, I know.  I loved Platt’s book: all except the familiarity of the stories he told through out the book.  I’ve heard him preach on several occasions – and I’ve heard them.  So, I could skip over them.

He is very practical and honest in his book: which I love.  He just doesn’t give lofty ideas of how to let go of American Christianity – but he actually gives you ways to do it.

If you are ready for a gut-check (as my cousin calls it) – read it.  If not, keep it on its shelf and pick it up when you are ready.

“Wake up and realize that there are infinitely more important things in your life than football and a 401(k).  Wake up and realize there are real battles to be fought, so different from the superficial, meaningless “battles” you focus on.  Wake up to the countless multitudes who are currently destined for a Christless eternity.” – p 15.  This hits home because what do we normally talk about in our chuches: this superficial stuff.

“As long as we achieve our desires in our own power, we will always attribute it to our own glory.” – p 46.  Do we dream big dreams?  I want to start dreaming big and praying big, so when things happen – God gets all the glory.  How big do you dream?  Do you dream for attainable things in your own power or do you pray for God sized dreams?  Ephesians 3:19-21.

We’ve been hearing a lot about this in our ed staff meetings at our church:

“The church I lead could have the least gifted people, the least talented people, the fewest leaders, and the least money, and this church under the power of the Holy Spirit could still shake the nations for His glory.  The reality is that the church I lead can accomplish more during the next month in the power of God’s Spirit than we can in the next hundred years apart from His provision.  His power is so superior to ours.  Why do we not desperately seek it?” – p 54

I need this especially for the work I am doing right now, because it is so often overwhelming to me: “Our great need is to fall before an Almighty Father day and night and to plead for Him to show His radical power in and through us, enabling us to accomplish for His glory what we could never imagine in our own strength.  And when we do this, we will discover that we were created for a purpose much greater than ourselves the kind of purpose that can only be accomplished in the power of His Spirit.” p 60

Do you really believe this for yourself? “God has created us to accomplish a radically global, supremely God-exalting purpose with our lives.” – p 83.  I don’t think I do.  I again ask petty things that I want.  But, I know one prayer I always pray that hasn’t come true yet.  But, I still pray it.

We are starting Backyard Bible Clubs this summer at our church.  I thought this quote went very well with the reason we are doing it: “Disciple making is not a call for others to come to us to hear the gospel but a comman for us to go to others to share the gospel.  A command for us to be gospel-living, gospel-speaking people at every moment and in every contest where we find ourselves.” -p 94

Who do I go to first when I need advice? “Jesus never intended us to be one voice among, many counseling us on how to lead our lives and use our money.  He always intends to be the voice that guides whatever decisions we make in our lives and with our money.” – p 121

Here is his one year experiment and ways that I intened to take him up on it:

1.  Pray for the entire world.  I haven’t decided yet how I am going to do this, but Operation World is a good start (that he mentions).

2.  Read the entire Bible.  Again, the plan isn’t in place, but it will be done.

3.  Sacrifice your money for a specific purpose: I’m partnering this year with PSSWF because its close, the gospel, and tangible.

4.  Spend your time in another context.  Every month my church works with two low-income/homeless ministries here in Raleigh: feeing the homeless in Moore Square and With Love From Jesus.  Once a month I will partner with these.  This definitely takes me out of my upper-white neighborhood.

5.  Commit your life to a multiplying community.  Pray dot org.  Done.

How will you live the experiment?  For one year.  This is a new year beginning, start now.

Much & Link Love: Christmas Week

posted in: Books, yoga | 3

Two weeks left in the year. You know when you are celebrating Christmas, the year is almost gone. I leave tomorrow to head to the home state of Florida, by way of Georgia.
1. Tim Tebow had a great first quarter of his first NFL debut yesterday. Unfortunately, he plays for a really bad team. Maybe him and Urban can hook back up in then NFL and all will be right with the world. Then maybe Danny and Steve can hook back up in the NFL and the two pairs can play against each other in the Super Bowl and then we’d really know who is the better pair. That’s about all I have to say about the NFL this week – except the Colts did win – yay!
2. I had a very relaxful weekend and I loved it!
3. I’m so glad Ben and Brittany Salmon are in my life. Just sayin’.
4. The three ladies who work in our kid’s min here at Providence are a blessing to me. When I ask questions, need help, or even just witnessing their ministry to the kids and parents that come through these doors.
5. Successful writing day at Bou on Saturday afternoon. Knocked out what I needed to do and engaged two new people that I had never talked to before.
6. Get to hang out with some great college girls today and tomorrow and then friends tomorrow through Sunday – and family of course. Then, I’ll be ready for some down time next week.
7. I’m not satisfied. Never should I be satisfied. I’m more satisfied with some things at the end of this year, less satisfied with others.
8. Have you been thinking of New Years Resolutions (or goals)? I personally like goals better than resolutions? Don’t know why…both can be unattained.

1. My fave female author writes on the Incarnation – perfect for the week of Christmas.
2. Danny hits on the the somewhat stupid tradition of writing Christmas letters.
3. If you are like me and like to read some of a book before you buy it – here is your chance. Mark Driscoll gives you chapter 1 of Death by Love if you haven’t read it.
4. You know Christmas couldn’t come and go without John Piper saying something about Santa?
5. Think I’ll be making these for the first Gathering of the year in 2011.
6. I’m surprised Vogue hasn’t gotten some slack for this because it might resemble the Virgin Mary?
7. Let’s continue to pray for Liam Neeson’s salvation. Even though he isn’t saved, I do love him as Aslan.
8. I love this Simple Advent Calendar.
9. Do you think Dr. Mohler would eat these?

Book Review: Living in God's Two Kingdoms

posted in: Books, ethics | 0

I was really excited when I saw this book on the new release list. I had been in recent conversations with friends about how they were personally engaging the culture, and I attend a church that seeks to “engage the city”, and used to attend a church (before I moved) that modeled engaging the city and culture very well. I was intrigued to see what David VanDrunen had to say about Living in God’s Two Kingdomws (btw, the cover design is really cool).
VanDrunen does a good job at laying out the outline of his book, telling you exactly where he is heading. He engages some of the opposing views and arguments that basically are the foundation of this new “area of theological discussion” (Neo-Calvinism, Emerging Churches, but this is not exhaustive).
I personally do not fully agree with either side. I think one side takes it too far, and one side doesn’t go far enough. Finally, though, the author basically states three ways that Christians are to engage the culture, how a Christian should live successfully as sojourners in this land we call “culture” .
1. “Christians should pursue cultural activities not with a spirit of triumph and conquest over their neighbors but with a spirit of love and service toward them.” (p 124). Wow – I think this is probably the toughest one of his three and I wholeheartedly agree. Even our redeemed status doesn’t make us perfect yet, and I personally often struggle with motive.
2. “The New Testament calls us to critical engagement with human culture.” (p 126) I almost wish his whole book would camp out on this point. This is where I try to engage the culture. I learned this well from a friend and professor at SEBTS, and I love reading through secular books, watching movies, and looking at art with this critical mind at work.
3. “The New Testament calls us to engage in cultural activities with a deep sense of detachment from this world and of longing for our true home in the world to come.” (p 126) This is probably the hardest for me to deal with on a personal level. As I get more into style, design, photography, clothing, I tend to step back into a materialistic mindset which the Lord has saved me from, but Satan likes to wedge his foot in my mind.
While the author does a good job at bringing in cultural examples and has a personable writing style (unlike some theological books on differing subjects), I think VanDrunen could have made this a shorter book and made his argument more simple for the non-theological to grasp.
A word for all Christians: you can’t engage the world by separating yourself from it. Home-schooling families who only allow their children to be friends with other Christians, people who will never go to movies, read secular books, watch television, own ipods, allow their teenagers on social networks…this is no way to engage the culture. Read more on VanDrunen’s point #2.
Wherever you land in this discussion: one thing is for sure: We are to be shining lights in a crooked and depraved generation (Philippians 2)

Crossway Book Review: Acts by R. C. Sproul

posted in: Books | 2

Crossway is a blessing to me. I love their books!
R. C. Sproul is a faithful, long-time minister of the gospel. He has set a standard in writing and preaching and theology. I was very ready to get his commentary on Acts. I got it in the mail last week, opened it in the car, and was flipping through it at red lights. That definitely tells you it is a good book. The pastoral staff at my church is going through Acts right now so it is perfect timing and I’m also using it for the second quarter of curriculum I’m writing which happens to be on missions.
Things I love about this commentary:
1. Readability.
2. Not just facts (like Greek terms and sentence parsings)
3. Personality of author (Sproul) comes through the pages
4. The cover (and I usually discard the dustjackets right away, not this one)
5. Very easy to navigate (headings, chapters, etc)

Here is a quote, just in time for Chistmas: “The glory of Christ shone through the veil of Jesus’ humanity.” (90)
I’ll definitely be using this for personal use come January when I plow through Acts in my quiet times.
Well done and useful for preaching, teaching, or personal study.

Operation Christmas Child 2010

posted in: Uncategorized | 0

I remember when Mom and I used to do Angel Tree from the Lakeland Square Mall. I’ve now not done much of anything in that realm for Christmas for many years, although I would give to other organizations or missions endeavors. This year, I wanted to do an OCC box. So, I did, and delivered it to my local CFA who was giving away free sanctified chicken sandwiches with the drop-off of each box. It was fun shopping for my Girl, 10-14 with my friend, Tina.
I also had the opportunity to take a charter bus trek down to the Queen City and serve at the distribution center for OCC. They do have a well-oiled machine going there. We were given a short tutorial and then put right to work, not to miss much of our 6 hour shift. I got to work alongside friends and packed boxes that were going to Sudan and Malowi (sp?).
Coolest part of the day: Many of you know I’m writing curriculum for churches that will eventually be translated for the nations. So exciting. The first lesson we wrote was on the tower of Babel and one of the games was a Jenga tournament. One of my proofers said that people in other countires may not have Jenga games so I better have a alternate game they could do. Well, I just so happened to open a box and it had a jenga game inside. I was so excited. Right before I passed the box off to the next person, we stopped to pray over these boxes. I rested my two little hands on this one box and prayed for the child who would receive this box and wondered if God would ever allow them to study the story of the Tower of Babel and be able to play the Jenga game. So cool.
Here are some thoughts:
1. We are such a material culture. I thought much about this as I was searching the boxes for “unapproved” items. There were some boxes that were half empty and I thought, man I wouldn’t like to get that box. There were some that were full of school supplies and underwear, again, I would not be happy with that box. It tooks some cool toys, candy, notebooks, etc that made me smile at the box. I’m sure these children that get these boxes will be ecstatic just to get the box.
2. We are greedy. There were some pretty cool toys in some of those boxes. Can I find some of those toys?

If you are packing an OCC box this year (still) or will pack one in the future, please help your packers by remembering these helpful hints:
1. Follow the instructions. They come with every box or you can find them on the internet.
2. Don’t pack chocolate (except Tootsie Rolls, and I haven’t figured out if those are chocolate or not).
3. Any other type of candy is fine – PLEASE SEND IT. But, if you do, please put it in a baggy. That way, when we open it, it won’t go flying everywhere.
4. Don’t put liquids in the boxes. Liquids will be removed. If you want to give them hygiene stuff, send bars of soap, preferably not Irish Springs, wow – those bars are really strong!
5. Don’t put stuff with all English writing on it. Most of these boxes are going to places where the first language is not English. How would you feel if you got a book in Chinese and you don’t speak it and have no way to learn it?
6. Mix up the box some. Add some “helpful, useful” stuff in it (socks, udnerwear, notebooks, pencils, etC) and then also include fun stuff (toys, candy, etc). Wouldn’t you want your Christmas presents to be the same way.
7. Don’t wrap the box in a rubberband. We’ll just take off the rubberband and throw it away.
8. Don’t send your unwanted toys and used items. We’ll take them out. Would you want to get a bunch of dirty, used toys under your Christmas tree, probably not (unless you are a thrift store snob)!
9. Please pack a box. Make it a family mission opportunity. Pray for the children who might receive it. Have your children fill a box for a child the same age as they are. How fun it will be!

Give this season. It is definitely better to give than to receive.

Much & Link Love (Nov 1) and November!

posted in: Books, Month, weight loss | 0

Well, thought I might tie these two posts together since November 1 falls on a Monday.

1. Great weekend: the ocean, 31 miles, mahi mahi tacos, and a Gator win!
2. Getting organized and down-sizing.
3. Love seeing old friends: they are rare!
4. Love talking about what God is doing in my life.
5. Love hearing about what God is doing in others’ lives.
6. Thankful for my pastors and their wives.
7. Much to do – hopefully celebrating by the end of the week. Press on!

Link Love:
1. I want to make this now that the weather is getting cooler.

2. She seriously is a great food writer – and I love her books, though I have different one – am asking for some of her’s for Christmas

3. Do you watch Glee? Here are some good reasons NOT to. I’ve only watched 5 minutes of one, and it was one of my un-edifying, make-me-cringe – 5 minutes of my life.

Now for November:
1. Living healthy! That is def on my menu!
2. Ice Skating – not to make a fool out of myself or break anything is always a good goal.
3. Meta – our big youth wknd at PBC – Troy Temple, one of my fave people from SBTS is speaking!
4. Tedd Tripp in town in Apex for a conference. Looking forward to that – live blog coming.
5. Hiking Grandfather Mountain and some girl time with a friend.
6. My third half marathon in Charlotte on Thanksgiving Day
7. Parents are in town for that week, be good to get some things done.
8. BABIES! They are coming from different place. I love new babies!
9. A new life class at church – am excited about something new.
10. Writing Writing and more Writing.