Saturday, January 24, 2009

John Piper and the Prosperity Gospel

The truth in the last line of this video makes me shutter because it is right: "God is most glorified when you are most satisfied in him in the midst of loss, not prosperity." When all we have left is God, HE IS ENOUGH. That is the message of the gospel of Jesus. What gospel other than that does the world have that is that so beautiful? When all is lost, the world has no other gospel to offer you. THIS is the good news of Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Building My House

Proverbs 14:1 “The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down.”

The girls will be two in a couple of months and I am beginning to sense, in a compelling way, that our time during the day is no longer just about survival and playtime. They are not babies. They are becoming little girls. Little girls whose little minds seem to be working and churning and they are actually becoming students of sorts. I see them thinking. I see them figuring things out. They surprise me with intelligent abilities like snapping buckles together and doing puzzles correctly and “feeding” their babies like they get fed. And in these things, I am sensing the change in direction of our home life.

I have always felt that although there is certainly a good amount of advice out there that is useful and beneficial for our family, sometimes just being a good observer of my own children, coupled with being a good listener of the Holy Spirit who knows them so well, is the wisest manner to know what is going on with them and how I should care for them. In no way am I saying to not seek out counsel. Proverbs 11:14 wisely warns, “Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.” But our most Wonderful Counselor, in fact that is one of his names, is Jesus. And he has made me fit to be Kanah and Grace’s mama specifically as my daily gift, so I know he has also enabled me for the task and speaks to me frequently about what he has for them. And I also believe, when I am willing, he turns my eyes upon them to see their needs.

I am still slowly reading Proverbs. About three verses a day. And about a week or so ago I came across this verse and couldn’t get any further because it seemed to be filled with a wealth of meaning for me and my home.

Proverbs 14:1 “The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down.”

With the sense of change already dwelling on my heart, I felt I was kind of waiting for more leading to know what to do or understand next. This verse was one of the answers. I do want to be a wise woman who builds her house and I want to avoid the follies that would cause me to tear my own house down.

One thing I noticed from this Scripture was that their is either building or tearing down. The construction of our home is in process now. It is not complete and I am just living in it. Jason and I are building the home for our family that they will live and thrive in and doing nothing towards building is a form of tearing down because it’s rotting. So I want to not be foolish to think that just going about our days purposely isn’t a form of tearing down. I want to actively build.

Because I am sinful and not perfect, when I read it my heart also acknowledged that I am not always wise. Sometimes I disobey or do my own thing and so rather than building, I am lazily tearing down. I felt compelled to write a list of ways God has enabled me to build our house thus far, first as a wife and homemaker and also as a mother. Some of these were: my own relationship throughout the day w/ the Lord, worship, asking what Jason needs me to do or what he would like, prayer walks, snuggling/kissing/touch with the girls, creativity in time/meals with the girls since it’s a weakness for them, unique time w/ girls at naptime and bedtime singing and praying, divine appointments throughout day to teach and learn, asking for God’s strength in weak moments.

I also made a list of ways I can be lazily tearing down what we have built in folly: having computer on downstairs during morning time causes great distraction and impatience w/ girls, skipping prayer, not practicing the presence of God (talking to him throughout day as I need help and feel weaknesses rise up), bad attitude during eating times, when schedules are more important than relationship, lack of visioneering and just surviving, tiredly ignoring God moments. I know that even in these times and others I may have not mentioned here, God is about restoring and redeeming. And even when I have (and will) go to these places and not embrace fully being a Woman who Builds Her House, God can still correct that in me and make my mistakes his redemptive stories in our lives.

Another thing that I found the Lord saying to me on this was that I should look to women in my life who have already begun to build their homes in wisdom. I literally made a list of those women and now am determined to go and meet with them and glean from the fields they have been cultivating. I think I want to try to do this with a number of them before the next baby comes at the end of March; otherwise it will be a while before I will have that kind of time (and brainpower) again to start my planning.

Lastly, for now, the Lord continued to work on this topic with me as I continued my Proverbs reading by giving me correlating Scripture to make that verse more full in my heart.

Proverbs 15:6 “In the house of the righteous is much treasure.”

Proverbs 24:4 “By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; by knowledge the rooms are filled with precious and pleasant riches.”

The fullness of all three of these verses was reminded to me in a scribbled reference note I had written myself a couple of years ago. It took me to Colossians 2:3 (I would encourage you to read the verses before too but for now the point is about what is found in Christ) “...Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”

I really liked the addition of these verses to my thinking about how to build my house because its focus was on, first, my own relationship with God. Because I am not righteous without Christ. And I do not have wisdom, understanding or knowledge without Christ. And according to these verses, I must have these to have a house filled with treasures. Knowing Jesus Christ is to have obtained spiritual blessings that are readily available to us – forgiveness, redemption, restoration, love, grace, mercy, kindness, goodness, joy, and on and on. Oh to have the rooms of our home filled with these treasures! What a gift it would be to my girls and to me and Jason. I look forward over the years to finding these treasures in abundance and enjoying them as a family. I don’t know how to express my gratitude with full sincerity about how I feel to be given every spiritual blessing in Christ. It is our fountain of life.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Funny Morning

I meant to leave at 9:30 this morning for some me time. I left at 10:30 after a good Gracie girl barf session on her Panthers game day outfit, losing my makeup bag, and getting a call from mom I didn’t want to miss. I decided to pack up for Starbucks. Genius. 10:30am on a Saturday morning is a very peaceful time to search for a good comfy spot at a Starbucks. Ha. In all, I visited three, count them, three Starbucks in an attempt to settle down with my laptop. Recently Jason saw this picture of a huge group of people in Pakistan who were making their way back from a religious celebration and they were literally dangling from this train, the entire thing covered like a mess of ants stuck to a stick of honey. And I said to him, 'why in the world would anyone do that? (dangle dangerously off a train) That is so stupid.' I tend to say that phrase a lot and should probably back off it. Anyhow, not only were there no seats in any of the three stores, but it was laughable how much this religious parade scene reminded me of these coffee spots this morning. I mean, people were desperate for seats. It’s like if they could just shove themselves into a little tiny spot, eventually they could pull in other pieces of furniture and in the meantime they would all sit on top of each other. And I was planning on just being a coffee sipping vulture but I already spotted some who had hunkered down, like homeless people, just marking their territories and I knew it wasn’t my place to stick around. Do you know where I ended up? In my desperation I ended up at blasted McDonalds. I am sitting in a very empty fast food restaurant with the worst elevator music imaginable in a round booth with my laptop. I am certainly out of place. When I reluctantly ordered, I had to turn away not one, not two, but three order-happy employees ready to plump me up. I didn’t want a mc coffee. I wanted a Starbucks. (sigh). I begrudingly ordered an americano, an orange juice (since pregnancy makes me so dehydrated) and two apple pies (because it’s 2 for a dollar and if you only buy one it’s 89 cents – what?). If McDonalds wants to get in on this mc cafe thing, they’ve got to get a few things down. One. It feels like a hospital floor in here and everything is so echo-y and dull. Not a great ambiance for people who wish they were in Starbucks. Two. If you’re going to serve coffee drinks, at least set up a coffee condiment bar. Geez. I had to ask for my creamers and sugars after I had dug through their little bins. And they wouldn’t just give me a generous handful; they wanted to know exactly how many I wanted. Well, if I am pouring the creamer at a real coffee place it would probably equal like five little creamer containers, but you had to go and make me feel like a mouch for asking for three, so I guess I will be bugged that it isn’t creamy enough so I don’t have to deal with social disappointment. I sound quite irritated. Well the truth is that it’s weird that I am sitting in here, legs crossed in my booth, my meal clearly not the reason I am here, and glances every once in a while from the true McDonalds fans who are here to eat a lot and a lot very quickly. I guess I should think of a few positives before this gets to far. Starbucks could use some booths like the semi-circle one I am sitting in. It’s cozy and personal. Ridiculous amounts of seating would also be nice like in here. Yeah, I thought I would be able to think of more, but that’s gonna be it ;). Alright, this was kind of fun to rant about but now I am off to actually write and attempt to get some me McDonalds. Still funny.

Sunday, January 4, 2009


It’s New Years and once again a word I haven’t heard in about a year is fresh and vibrant again on the tongues of friends and strangers. Resolutions. It’s a little haunting but at the same time, as my pastor said today, there’s something about getting another clean slate for a whole ‘nother year that feels good. I’ve been thinking for a few days on whether or not I would make any resolutions. I wish I had a dictionary in front of me (or internet right now for that matter) but if I could throw out a definition, I would say that it means: a determined goal, a conviction to follow, something you have resolved or decided wholeheartedly to do. I am drawn towards that idea of being resolved, of being set on something. Anybody else have a good picture of resolution?

I think making resolutions is either popular or disdained among the masses. It’s either irritating to you to be asked if you have any or else you have a good, perhaps entirely too ambitious, list. It would be interesting to see what personalities fall into each category. For myself I almost always fall into the resolution maker category. I almost feel like it would be against how I operate to not be sucked in to a chance to appreciate the sense of re-grouping and renewing that the New Year seems to bring. Essentially, I think what I want is a kick in the butt to remember what my direction my life is being called to go.

Therein lies much of my need for a new year: I have the memory of a lawn chair. At least, that is what one of my friends told me once and it kind of stuck. And it’s pretty accurate unfortunately. I am someone who loves to learn and think and write and mull things over and then I am cursed with a mind that kind of reorgs itself about once a week, deleting most files. This mind doesn’t even bother to consult me about what I would like to keep in the memory rotation. So I remember things like singing the “purple people eater” in second grade and forget entire chunks of our marriage. I wish I could at least be consulted.

So my being a lawn chair, and letting that rule my patterns in life, becomes quite the issue when it comes to resolve.

However. Last year I had a bit of a different year. This is the first year I got back to the New Year and found it somewhat refreshing when I found myself able to recall the lessons I walked through in 2008. I am not saying I checked off resolutions and they are done. But I was able to sit down and journal what the Lord taught me in a variety of seasons through 2008. I could name them, meditate on them, and see the trail of where the Holy Spirit took me over a long period. That may seem simple to some of you, but honestly for me it was a miracle to be able to do that.

In January of 2008 I was doing the How People Change study book with my Bible study. For those of you who are not familiar, the theme of this study is to expose the idols that are in your heart and to experience heart change by the gospel, not behavior modification, so that my life would produce fruit (righteousness) and not thorns (sin). This is when the Lord set a resolution on my heart. I would start a journal. Journals are not uncommon for me, but this one was. It was a themed journal. I would be adding to the same theme the Lord wanted to teach me about over a period of time. He began to reveal idols in my heart – unhealthy dependencies which I needed to confess so that I could rely on the true God and his benefits. The other theme of the book was on being a wife. Through spring and summer the themes of love and kindness would not let me go. So, reluctantly I headed into 1 Corinthians 13. I say reluctantly because it’s “old news” and it’s not a passage that I have studied in a long time, because of pride. It changed my heart that summer as I studied one “love is” each week. In the fall as I would tire here and there of my downfalls and cycles of sinful behavior the Lord turned my face distinctly onto confession and the giving and receiving of forgiveness. This has continued to now and has exposed a reluctance going back to the deep beginnings of my faith to deal with sin and also acceptance of grace fully. And this too, more than anything in a number of years, is transforming my heart.

And for 2009 I already sense some of these themes continuing, mainly because I have such a hard head ;). But this is also because the fight between our flesh and spirit (romans 6-8) can sometimes take a long time on deep rooted issues in us. One thing I know for sure as I walk into 2009 regarding our most important heart issues:

The Lord determines my resolutions. He knows how I need to grow, change, and be transformed. He can see through me when I can’t. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before his eyes. He knows every word before it is on my tongue. The other day I read the beginning of 1 Peter. It reminded the audience reading that we have been chosen FOR obedience to Jesus Christ. As his chosen daughter, dearly loved and uniquely created, I must trust and obey Him who knows me better than I know myself to have insight into what my heart should be resolved about for 2009. God determines my resolutions and I am called to remember them and follow his Spirit, also called our Counselor, as I see how I need to be changing by his grace.

Lord, fold up this lawn chair of mine and replace it with a heart and mind that fervently looks for you and what you are saying to me. Help me to remember what you have taught me through meditation and a heart of thankfulness. To you be the glory for my year ahead in 2009.