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Archive for July, 2011

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Here in west Texas, we are praying for rain. We are in the middle of a severe drought, but we are not the only ones praying for rain.

East Africa is in the middle of the worst drought they have experienced in 60 years. Unfortunately the stakes are much higher in their culture. East Africa has been declared to be in a full-fledged famine. It is estimated that 800,000 children will die of starvation.

I’ve been to Africa twice, once to the specific region that is most devastated by this famine. This morning my heart is breaking. All I can do is pray. And ask you to do the same.

Please read this article for more information. Note, the pictures are graphic.

http://m.theatlantic.com/infocus/2011/07/famine-in-east-africa/100115/

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There is SO much speculation when it comes finding out whether a baby is a boy or girl. I’ve been taking a poll and asking every mom I talk to what they thought our sweet baby might be.

David and I definitely wanted to find out, at least for this first one. I’m definitely have “first time mom syndrome.” I’ve read more books and articles than probably helpful about pregnancy, birth plans, and delivery. I’ve even talked to a Dullah. But nothing except that 20 week sonogram could tell me what we were having!

Well, the verdict is in!! The sonogram told us for sure!

This December, we will be the proud parents of a baby BOY!!

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Dr. A. says he’s healthy and very, very energetic (I have no idea where he got that). The above picture is our sweet boy taking a moment to give a thumbs up!!

Thanks for all the prayers. I thank God for the honor and blessing He has given us through this precious baby!

( For more pregnancy pictures check out the “Our Bump ” page at the top of the page!)

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Great Blog Post for all women to read! Beware Romantic Pornography from the Gospel Coalition website and written by Betsy Hart.

Check it out and let me know what you think!

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Why the Gospel Still Matters to Christians: Your individual calling and destiny.

You may have picked this up by now, but I truly believe that the Gospel, the amazing redemptive work of Jesus Christ, is the most important aspect of the Christian life. I hope that your challenged to something greater than a “head nod” or a “Yeah, I get it.” Sometimes we as Christians are the worst at this. We don’t even realize that our relationship with Jesus is just a moral-modification Genie-of-the-lamp mentality, where Jesus is just a piñata to beat blessing out of.

It’s really not until we center our lives on what Jesus actually did for us, that we suddenly become obsessed with the Gospel. We suddenly drop the “good’ person. We are radically transformed into a new person. The Gospel changes everything you do, because it changes your motivation for everything.

There’s a buzz word among Christians in America. This blog can attest to it (some of my most read blog posts have been on this very topic). One of the most sought after, obsessed over, and talked about topics among Christians is the idea of individual calling / destiny / purpose.

Again like all the other topics in this blog series, there’s nothing wrong with the desire to have a purpose for your life! The problem lies elsewhere, somewhere a little deeper down inside. Every day we document our importance through social media. We Tweet about our funny musing or encounter. Our tweet updates our facebook status so all the people we never talk to in person can read it too. We post a picture of an adventure. We go home and blog about our interesting idea of the day. Believe me, I do all of these things. It’s evident through our apparent social self-awareness that we have an important felt-need for purpose and significance.

God what do you want for my future? What is my calling? What is my destiny? What is my purpose?

Here’s where the problem lies: For some reason, we think that the answer to those important questions isn’t the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We think it’s some spiritual adventure, experience, or job. We think it’s being star of our own Bible story. We think it’s some sort of greatness or achievement worth remembering, because, deep down inside, we think we are the star of our own story. This is not the Gospel.

4 Reasons the Gospel will Change Your Individual Calling:

1. Jesus becomes the star of your story.

I’ve heard it described that most people view their lives like a baseball game. Bottom of the ninth, packed stadium, scores tied, and one batter left to hit. Most people think their destiny in life is hitting that home run to win the game. But this isn’t reality. In reality, we aren’t that last batter ending, redeeming, and winning the game. We are actually the fan screaming in the nose-bleed section fixated on the triumph of the true and worth winner of the whole game. The whole world and all of creation hinges on what Jesus accomplished on the cross. It’s so silly that we think anything we do could ever compare.

2. Jesus is made great.

While Jesus certainly had a specific mission and purpose while He was on this earth (to die in your place). It was not done with the intent to glorify Himself. In fact, He was carrying out the mission of His Father in Heaven. His purpose in life was to glorify His Father. He was pointing to the love of Another. What Jesus did was so amazing, so undeserving, so beautiful. Having Gospel-centered purpose in life is all about making the name of Jesus great. He’s the One that makes life worth living anyway.

3. Life is all about sacrifice, not personal greatness.

If you allow the first two things to shift your mentality about your purpose and destiny, this point flows naturally. Jesus’ life was all about sacrifice, and when we fashion our lives in the same way we actually gain true fulfillment within ourselves.

4. Calling and purpose is corporate instead of individual.

The reason that we are obsessed with Facebook, Twitter, and the like is because we were made and created for a greater purpose. One that is outside and beyond self. We want to be joined to something. We want to have a mission. It’s our fallen, sinful nature that thinks we need it to be individual. Having a Gospel-Centered purpose is not about finding your own specific calling. Having a Gospel-Centered purpose is about join in with the purpose that Jesus Christ gives all Christians. Take the pressure of your self. Take the focus off your self. Take a deep breath and be ready for a fulfilling life of adventure!

That’s what I think. What do you think?

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Why The Gospel Still Matters: Has Church Just Become a Social Club?

Today 20% of Americans attended a Christian church. What is church really? Is church really any different that a social club or a support group? Does it really serve a greater purpose in the lives of Christians? What about in your life? Or is it just a time to shake hands and let everyone you know including God that you have crossed “attending church” off your weekly duty list?

The church without the Gospel of Jesus Christ being the central message, meaning, and driving purpose really is no different than an your average social club. And I think it’s time we ask ourselves a very important question. What role does the Gospel play in the church and our Christian community?

I’m not writing this to bash the church. I think the church gets enough bashing. Instead of protecting, providing, and caring for the Bride of Christ, oftentimes Christians are demanding, careless, and withdrawn from their local church. Why? Because we are just in the social club. So we treat the church as such. It’s time that we, as members of the church, make a change.

10 Ways You Can Bring the Gospel Back to Our Churches:

1. Make the Gospel message central.

It’s time we make the Gospel message the central message we communicate at church. There is nothing more important, powerful, and transforming than the love of our God, who sacrificed everything, so that we can have life. This should be the reason for every sermon we preach, every song that we sing, every prayer that we pray, and every person that we hug. This is what the church has that every support group and social club is lacking! This is true and transformational love and grace. This is the only source from which a true community of people can function.

2. Get back to the basics.

Once the Gospel is central in your thinking, it can easily become your reason for everything. Community and church doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, it comes from such a basic place. Everything is about how you can display the Gospel to your fellow church members and the world around you. Lose all the complications. Lose worrying about what people think about you. Church is not about you. It’s not about what you can receive. It’s a place to worship Jesus for the Gospel. And it’s a place to display the Gospel to others.

3. Unconditional Love

Jesus Christ has loved you with unconditional love. Practically, this is something He has called you to do. It’s time to go to church with the purpose of loving Him, others, and your local church in that kind of way. Unconditional love expects nothing in return. You shouldn’t either.

4. Sacrifice

Jesus Christ paid the ultimate sacrifice for each one of us. And His sacrifice was completely from a place of grace. We need to sacrifice for our churches. We need to sacrifice for each other. We need to give our hearts as sacrifices to Jesus. Church can become again, a place of sacrificial worship.

5. Faithfulness

Jesus calls the church the Bride of Christ. One of the most beautiful Gospel displays of a bride is the quality of faithfulness. So be faithful. Do the right thing, when it counts. Fill the church with faithful people. And do it because that’s what Jesus was to you.

6. Vulnerability

True community and church doesn’t work without raw vulnerability. Without it, it’s just another social club to put on your “happy face.” But the “happy face” doesn’t preach the Gospel. The Gospel is about a God who saw even your most messed up, ugly sins and took the punishment you deserved for them. We cheapen the Gospel when we lose our vulnerability at church and with people.

7. Submit to Authority

Ultimately Jesus submitted to God to the point of death. When He looked at the fate of the cross He told His Father, “Not my will, but Your will be done.” As Christians, we are called to submit ourselves to the Lord and to the authority that Christ puts in our lives. The church isn’t a perfect bride. The church isn’t a perfect authority. But it is one that God has given us. Ultimately we love Jesus and His church when we humble ourselves and seek it’s unity and well-being.
Romans 13

8. Healing

As Christians, we have been called to carry out the mission of the Gospel in this world. Jesus reconciled (healed) our relationship with God. The Gospel offers the world physical, relational, and emotional healing. God intended this healing to be extended to the world through His people. We must not lose sight of our mission.

9. An Attitude of Gratefulness

It’s time that we were thankful for the freedom to meet and worship. It’s time we were thankful for the opportunity to better experience Jesus in community. We must be thankful for the opportunity to participate in the Gospel.

10. Show Something Different

A Gospel-Centered church truly shows the world something different. A Gospel-Centered church shows the world a different kind of community than a social club or support group. A Gospel-Centered church can physically demonstrate the love and power and reality of Jesus Christ in the world like nothing else can.

Meditation:
Romans 12:9-21
“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Podcast Recommendation:

“The Culture of The Gospel” by David Ritchie

Previous blog on this topic:
Pure and Spotless Bride

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Why the Gospel Still Matters to Christians: Christian Religion Without the Gospel

The Christian religion without the Gospel message is no more than self-help.

There are so many things from the Christian message and the Bible that can help your life. There are so many great stories that can apply to your life. There are so many inspiring things that boost your faith and get you excited. It’s great advice. And again, great advice is not wrong.

What makes it wrong is when we make it “most important” or central to our faith and lives. It’s easy to the Bible just a book about self-help, advice, behavior modification, and feel good stories. It’s good for your head, but its bad for your heart.

I remember much of life listening to sermons and reading my Bible, simply to pull out the concepts and ideas that would make me a better Christian. I’d open up my Bible in the morning looking for that verse from God that would get me through the day. God wasn’t displeased with that, but where was my heart? Christianity was about me.

Here’s where we need to make a shift:

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not about the ideas and advice of Christianity making you a better person. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is about intimately opening your heart and faith up to Jesus Christ and allowing is grace and love to make you a completely new person.

I love what the Westminster Catechism says:

“1. What is the chief end of man?
The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.”

Practically how to not let my Christian religion become self-help:

1. Realize your existence is not about you.

2. Realize Christianity is not a life-coping mechanism. It is worship and closeness with Jesus Christ, and from that place you do what you do.

3. Realize the Bible is not about you. In fact, the Bible is story after story of the exact same story. God longing to love His people. God redeeming His people out of love through grace. Jesus is in every single story.

4. Find a way to make your story on this earth about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, not about you.

Meditation:

2 Corinthians 5:11-21
” Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience. We are not commending ourselves to you again but giving you cause to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast about outward appearance and not about what is in the heart. For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

KR:)

Next Mini-blog: Church Without the Gospel.

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It’s happening very subtly in some of our conversations, churches, sermons, and certain theological debates. It’s a wave of culture in some Christian movies, Christian music, Christian universities, and Christian books. It’s a developing trend, but not with what’s being talked about. It’s what is not. And it’s important that Christians notice. It’s somehow easy to miss.

I didn’t even notice it myself for most of my life. It wasn’t until a few years ago after a conversation that I began to evaluate. I began to evaluate myself. I began to notice that, while I was a Christian who believed in Jesus, but the emphasis of my day-to-day Christianity wasn’t the message of the Gospel. The Gospel of Jesus Christ really wasn’t the centrality of my life.

Ok, so this may seem a little silly, coming from a Christian. And you’re probably wondering what the emphasis of my Christian walk was then! Well, it was kind of my own mix of Christianity that worked for me. It looked a little bit like:

1 cup of good advice from the Bible I read in the morning
1 cup try and resemble Jesus today
2 cups pray in the car about my worries of the day
1 cup thank Jesus for blessings
3 cups be moral
*add some other cool stuff.

Now don’t get me wrong, all of those things in my Christian recipe were good things. And my intentions were really in a good place. The problem with it is that it mixes up a Christian that has a faith centered on self.

Friends, there is a better way. It’s a tweek with HUGE implications. We need to go back to the “basics,” and we need to stay there. We need to go back to the cross, and we need to stay there. What Jesus did for us needs to be the lense by which we see all of life. What Jesus did for us needs to be the reason we do everything in our Christian lives.

So what is the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

(In the words of Kate…)
In the beginning to we took ourselves out of relationship with God. We chose selfishness, pride, and essentially self-worship over the fulfillment and love we were offered by closeness with God. This is sin. Because God is just, the penalty for our sin was a fractured life and at the end death. But because God loved us so much, He placed the punishment of our sins on Jesus Christ, and Jesus died in our place. And through faith is the wonderful sacrifice of Jesus, we receive forgiveness. Three days later, Jesus rose from the dead, and because of this we too receive new life that lasts forever.

(Romans 1:24-25 ; Romans 3:9-12 ; Romans 3:21-26 ; Romans 5:6-11 ; Romans 8 ; 2 Corinthians 5:11-24 )

When we truly let the Gospel penetrate our hearts- the love and grace and sacrifice of Jesus. Suddenly our faith is bigger than ourselves, it’s more than what we can get. It is a life of gratitude and worship because of the Gospel.

I want to give you some practical advice on how to make this change in your life. For the next few mid-weeks, I’m going to be posting a mini-blog on this topic. Don’t miss it.

1. How have you left the Gospel? What areas of your life do you do for reasons other than worship and gratitude for what Jesus has done?

2. Where has it been easy for you to “move on” from the cross?

3. Where is your Christianity self-focused?

4. Is it hard for you to simply put faith in the grace that God has offered you? Do you try to perform for blessings and merit from God? Does this cheapen the amazing thing that Jesus did for you?

5. Do you like a Christianity that isn’t too uncomfortable with your sin and God’s grace?

6. You may know the Gospel do you live the Gospel? Do you experience a relationship with God because of what our Savior has done?

7. How can your life display the Gospel to the world?

Next time: The Christian Religion Without the Gospel.

KR:)

Here’s a fun quiz! “Hogwarts House Sorting Quiz” See which house you would be in before Thursday! 🙂


Which Hogwarts house will you be sorted into?

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