Thursday, June 30, 2011

God Created Male & Female...

So Does Gender Matter?

Rejoice in Your Slavery Today!

That is, your slavery to the Great Master!

Excerpt from Slave by John MacArthur, p. 132-133

The Bible teaches that God has chosen His slaves by His own sovereign, independent, electing choice. In fact, He elected them to be His slaves before they were born, and even before the world was created. As those chosen by God, believers were "purchased with [Christ's] own blood" (Acts 20:28), predestined to be freed from slavery to sin and ushered into the household of God. He pursued us even though we did not seek Him, drawing us to Himself and snatching us from the clutches and condemnation of sin. Like Paul, we were "laid hold of by Christ Jesus" (Phil 3:12), becoming His willing captives, His joyful prisoners, and part of the people for His own possession. We are those who belong to Him, not because we chose Him but because He chose us.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Not Your Ordinary Speech... a Secular University Class. A college-aged friend of mine who used to be in our youth group gave this speech on her last day of class at the University of Texas. It's a long read but worth it. She said her class was full of intellectual cynics who mocked Jesus and Christianity all semester. We praise God for her boldness for the truth.

“Oh, dear Lord baby Jesus! Dear tiny infant, eight-pound, six-ounce newborn Jesus!” These are lines from the movie Talladega Nights starring Will Ferrell. Amid this prayer to “baby” Jesus, the characters speak of their favorite views of Jesus, which include teenage Jesus, adult Jesus, ninja Jesus, bearded Jesus, and so on. While this scene is indeed amusing, I have realized that certain aspects of it are not as far-fetched as I initially concluded. Many people throughout the world do have many distinct views of Jesus Christ and Christianity as a whole. In fact, I’m confident that most people, including you in this room, have formed various opinions about Jesus and Christianity. I doubt, however, that most of these opinions are derived from the life and teachings of Jesus Christ himself. On the contrary, I have discerned that the majority of judgments about Jesus and Christianity are based on the lives of people who profess to be Christians and on the opinions of cynics. Thus, the intent of my speech today is twofold: First, I will expose potential pitfalls of forming judgments in this manner. Then, I will encourage you to investigate Jesus and His faith for yourself.

According to the Washington Post’s report “Holy Week 2011,” there are approximately 2 billion people around the world who identify themselves as Christians. That means there are 2 billion people who lead their lives in compliance with the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, right? I suspect making such a claim would incite several questions, such as the following: Why is it, then, that so many Christians live just as non-Christians do? For instance, why do some Christians fornicate and commit adultery? Why do some Christians habitually use profanity and lie? Why do some Christians spew hatred and condemnation? Why do so many Christians seem indistinguishable from everybody else? To these inquiries, I would respond with a couple of questions of my own: First, have you ever considered the possibility that many, if not most, people who profess to be Christians actually aren’t? Second, do you believe it is truly logical to
judge a belief based solely on the lives of people who allegedly adhere to that belief? I do believe that some people who claim to be Christians are, in reality, unequivocally lost and have no clue about Christian living. Moreover, I believe judging the validity of Jesus or the Christian faith based on such people is unfounded.

One day, I contemplated this phenomenon while studying for a Nutrition exam. I reviewed an eating disorder called Bulimia. People who suffer from Bulimia regularly binge on food and then use various methods, such as vomiting and excessive exercise, to prevent weight gain. Let’s imagine that I claim to be Bulimic. Yet, after being secretly recorded day after day for a year, observers determine that I never binge on food, I never vomit or exercise following meals, and, overall, I practice healthy eating habits. In light of this information, would people then say, “That Bulimia disease is such a sham. This woman is Bulimic, and she behaves just like everyone else”? Surely not! Onlookers would certainly say, “Clearly, this woman is not Bulimic, because her life does not exhibit any of the characteristics associated with Bulimia.” I’m sure there’s a plethora of other illustrations I could use, but here’s the point:

There are in fact characteristics that Christians’ lives should exhibit; and the lives of many people who assert to be Christians do not display those characteristics. Christians cannot be perfect, because like all humans, they are inherently fallible. Thus, if Christians are secretly recorded for a day, there’s a chance they will have more ethical failures than successes and ostensibly look just like everyone else. However, if true Christians are secretly recorded everyday for a year, a stark distinctiveness in the way they live should be readily apparent; their lives should obviously exhibit characteristics of Jesus and principles of His teachings. Sure, they will slip-up, and they will indeed be flawed; but there should not be a consistent pattern of immorality in their lives. They should not live just like everyone else. So, when we learn of the violence of the Christian crusaders, when we see some Christian pastors do and say ridiculous
things, when various Christian priests are indicted for pedophilia, when some politically conservative Christians encourage hate, when certain angry Christians on the West Mall here at UT condemn all the passersby to hell, etc., perhaps we should be less hasty to decry and reject the Christian faith itself and more inclined to question the soundness of such people’s claims to be Christians. Because we cannot look into people’s hearts/motives, we cannot conclusively determine what any given person truly believes. However, often times, people’s actions accurately denote what they sincerely believe. The actions of some people identified as Christians do align with the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, but the actions of other supposed Christians do not. Judging Jesus or Christianity in light of only the latter group is nonsensical.
Forming judgments of Jesus and Christianity based on those of cynics is misleading as well. In general, you can miss out on great things when you reject them based on others’ viewpoints alone. For instance, my senior year of high school, practically everyone told me not to take AP Economics, because the teacher was a jerk and graded too harshly. One day, I decided to sit in on his class and assess him for myself. I actually liked his teaching style and the class’s content. I enrolled in the class, finished with a final grade of 98%, and the teacher became one of my most ardent advocates; he has written numerous letters of recommendation on my behalf and nominated me for several awards and honors. Sometimes, I wonder how my life would be different if I had rejected him and his class due to the opinions of my peers. I believe it is highly difficult to construct an accurate view of anyone or anything based solely on other people’s opinions and portrayals. Therefore, I believe it is highly unreasonable to reject anyone or anything, including Jesus and Christianity, based only on the perspectives of others.

I should note that I believe it is equally illogical to accept Jesus and the Christian faith based solely on people’s opinions. It is for this reason I researched the life of Jesus and the Christian faith for myself. Some components of Christianity are primarily faith-based, but there are empirical, concrete components as well. I looked into the validity of the Bible; I researched the many prophecies in the Bible to see if they have indeed come to fruition. I looked for information regarding references to Jesus in secular texts from the time in which He lived. I read reviews of how other religions compare to Christianity. I watched investigative documentaries (i.e. Lee Strobel’s The Case for Christ). I assessed Christian, agnostic, and atheistic outlooks on life. After researching and processing all of this information for quite some time, I formed my very own opinion. I do believe in Jesus Christ, and I do believe in His
Word. The consequences of this decision are manifested in my life. I have experienced true love, true peace, and true joy; and I have a secure sense of my worth and my purpose in this life. Perhaps you already have all those things. But if you don’t, then what do you have to lose? I’m not suggesting that you take my word for it. In fact, I’m proposing the exact opposite: Don’t take my word, and don’t take anyone else’s word for it either. Look into the life and teachings of Jesus Christ for yourself and arrive at a conclusion about Him for yourself.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

12 Years on June 12th!

My sweet hubby took me on a surprise get-away to Duluth, MN. He loves to take me on surprise trips. We had a wonderfully refreshing 3 days! Most people go on vacations “To Do”. They have a whole list of the sights, tours, & explorations that they must do. However, our lives are so full with family & ministry that when we get away with just the 2 of us, we like to sit, be still & enjoy one another. Kempton truly spoiled me! We stayed at The A.G. Thomson House. What a beautiful Bed & Breakfast! The owners, Tim & Angie, are the most hospitable hosts that we've ever had on a vacation. They treated us like old friends. Our room was not in the main house. My hubby arranged for us to be in the grand Lake Superior Suite. Oh my! If you go to Duluth with your spouse, you MUST stay there! The pictures say it all. Below are more pics from our trip.

We chose to have our delicious 3 course breakfast delivered to us each morning.

Here's the comfy little room where I had my morning quiet time.

The 12 roses that Kempton gave me for our 12 beautiful years together.

Here's the yummy complimentary dessert after our superb dinner at the Black Woods Restaurant.

Of course we took a stroll along the largest lake in the U.S. - Lake Superior.

Thank you Sweetie for an absolutely PERFECT 12th Anniversary!
I Love You!!!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Friday, June 10, 2011

From The Short Bus to Graduation!

Then the LORD said to him, "Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Exodus 4:11

As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"Jesus answered, "It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. John 9:1-3

Praise God that His Works are being displayed all the way from the Short Bus to Graduation!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

A Request

Because of this, please do this. We need all that we can get.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Tuesday Thinking Out Loud

Here's an article that I recently found in a magazine.

If "Women as half of all workers changes everything"...

Imagine if women as half of all households stayed home to manage their home & serve their family...that would definitely change EVERYTHING!

Just Thinking...

Monday, June 6, 2011

I Love My Small Group!

I truly enjoy my small group! We have so much fun together. With Kempton & I being one of the youngest couples, we are privileged to have these Godly, wise mentors that we meet with regularly. We Love you Burks, Livingstons, Pipers, & Tongs!

"Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise." Proverbs 13:20a
Thank You for being a source of wisdom to us!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Forgetting the Label!

My church is so blessed to have Brenda Fischer as the Disability Ministry Coordinator. She has not been personally affected by disability but the Lord has given her a great big heart for the Disability Community. Her love for those with special needs & disabilities is evident in the countless ways that she sacrificially serves them.

One verse that comes to mind when I think of Brenda is, Luke 14:12-14 "He said also to the man who had invited him, "When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just."

Thank you Brenda! We cannot repay you but our heavenly Father will bless you in due time!

This is an excerpt from an article that Brenda has recently written.

Forgetting the Label to the Glory of God ~ Brenda Fischer

So many families are facing the hard and perplexing reality of having their child diagnosed with a developmental disorder. Acronyms like PDD-NOS, ADHD, RAD, FASD, OCD and ODD are scribbled onto a child’s records with increasing frequency. Almost one child in 100 has an autism spectrum diagnosis. A diagnosis is helpful in some ways for families. It can open the door to receiving medical, therapeutic and educational support. A diagnosis also sheds some light and gives helpful insight to parents or others who are in a child’s life. On the flip side, a label can lead to heartache and deep hurt. All parents want their child to be loved and accepted as a unique individual, not put in a box.

With all these labels flying around, it is tempting to pick out children and refer to them with a label and then mentally place them in a category. After all, it’s true that with autism there are patterns of behavior that lead to the diagnosis. Also, in the case of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), children have brain damage that affects their ability to respond and cope with life. Yes, each diagnosis has accompanying characteristics; yet as Christians, this world of labels can collide with who we know we are in Christ. Our God has “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14) every child with a heart and a soul. The variation in who each child is as a person is as big as the ocean. Any human-contrived label is too small for God.

Since so many children are impacted by labels, it is helpful to learn about specific disabilities while always acknowledging God’s great and unrestricted ability to work in the heart and life of each person that He has designed. Michelle Schreder shares in her book The Unexpected Gift—Raising Children with Disabilities*,

A diagnosis doesn’t really change our child in any way. It doesn’t change their interests, their likes and dislikes, their
sense of humor, their unique personalities. A diagnosis simply provides clues about how to help our kids, but it
doesn’t define them.

Your children, and my children, are bigger than their diagnoses-they are so much more than a list of symptoms and
disorders! They, too, have been made in God’s image, have been gifted by Him, and have eternal souls.

A diagnosis may change the way we express love to our children so that they can receive it… but it never changes our love for them and their need for our love, any more than our human ‘disabilities’ change God’s love for us.

*Schreder, Michelle. The Unexpected Gift: Raising Children With Disabilities. Sisters, OR: VMI Publishers, 2004.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011