Monday, October 26, 2009

Keeping the Cross Front and Center (Part 1)
A little over a month ago, when Kelley and I began to make some major transitions in our life together, we quickly realized that a great deal of uncertainty surrounded our next steps. We both felt like where God wanted us long term was much clearer than what our next season would look like. It was a very weird place to be in, but during this time God has really deepened our knowledge of the Gospel, and increased our ability (only by His grace) to apply it to daily life.

Theologically and practically I feel like the last month of our lives individually and together have been very rich. Definitely not free from struggle, in fact it has been full of struggle, but God has restored and deepened our joy in the midst of the struggle. During this time, we have been going through the Psalms of Accents as a church, I have been studying the Book of Ephesians still (probably pound-for-pound the best book in the Bible... just sayin'), and also I picked up a book by C.J. Mahaney called, The Cross Centered Life. If you have never read it, you should and here are a couple reasons why:
  1. It is about keeping the Gospel the "main" thing in your life. In I Corinthians 15:1-3, Paul tells the Corthinthian church that one thing is of the utmost importance, and it is the Gospel. We all need to be reminded of the Gospel constantly!
  2. It is small and short, only 85 pages, and it will dominate your world.
  3. It leaves you wanting more Jesus!
Sounds like a best seller doesn't it men?! In this book Mahaney gives you some great practical ways to "preach the gospel" to yourself daily, and what I wanted to do is give you a modified version of how I have been using these practicalities in my daily walk. I will do this in 5 parts. Hope you enjoy them!

1. Memorize the Gospel
Now, I know that some of you just went, "Really... I stink at memorizing". That's okay because about half the people in the world do, so you have some good company. Don't give up! Work at it because God is not keeping a scorecard. I promise you will not regret giving a good effort here.

Why should I memorize? Psalm 119:11 says, "I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you." What a great reminder that as we tuck away the Word of God in our hearts, there is a greater propensity for us to stay focused on the glory of God and honoring Him rather than trying to rob Him of His glory, which is at the root of sin. Having verses/passages accessible throughout the day is priceless. If you are like me, I float in and out of proper perspective constantly throughout the day and need to be roped back in. There are many other verses that speak to memorization that I would encourage you to cross-reference if that didn't suffice, but for time sake I won't go into all of those.

Which verses/passages should I memorize? Good question. If you already have some favorite verses/passages that center on the Gospel, I would start there. If you don't, not to worry I will give you some below. Now, I recommend more than just simply memorizing verses/passages. For me, I have found it more effective for my heart to meditate on (mull over, think on) and pray through verses/passages that I write down on note cards throughout the memorizing process. You can do this in your quiet time in the morning, on your commute to work, during your lunch break, and/or when you pray with your family at night. Kelley and I have even been reading a verse before we bless the meal at dinner time. It is just a simply way to keep these verses front and center in our day. Memorizing is definitely a discipline and you will have to have a plan if you want to take more successful steps in this area. Come up with a plan that works best for you and ask the Holy Spirit to assist you during this process. You will be surprised at the progress you will make!

Here are some of the verses I recommend (start small and work up to larger passages):
2 Corinthians 5:21
2 Corinthians 8:9
Hebrews 10:14
I Corinthians 15:3-4
Galatians 2:20-21
Titus 3:4-7
Romans 5:6-11
Romans 5:12-19
Romans 8:28-32
Isaiah 53:4-6
Ephesians 2:1-10
Ephesians 2:13-16

Praying for your joy!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Next Steps...

As some of you may already know, Kelley Ann (I love to call her that) and I have been in a transitional season of our lives. Back in August, we felt like God was moving us away from being in full-time ministry for a period of time, and calling at least me to the business sector. I say at least me because Kelley Ann is now the Administration and Finance Director for the church (Christ the King Presbyterian Church) that we have been attending for over 3 years now. CTK and its leadership have been a huge blessing for us during this time. They have not only loved us well, but have helped me greatly in the job finding process. We recently have become members there, and are trying to serve the church in anyway possible.

Over the last month or so, we have had up and down days both spiritually and emotionally, but God has been so faithful to us. As family and friends (including past and present supporters), have come beside us in this time, our understanding and daily application of the gospel has increased, our marriage and friendship has taken leaps and bounds, and our desire to dream about what God may have for us together in the future has been filled with joy and longing, not doubt and worry. Thank you so much for loving us and praying for us! Here are ways you can continue to do that if you would like:

  1. That Kelley Ann and I would continue to preach the gospel to one another and REALLY believe the gospel on a moment by moment basis. We long to experience more joy in the midst of our circumstances.
  2. That I would be able to find a job soon, and with the "right" company. Finances have been tight as we try to raise money to pay off our support deficit and live off of one salary. I have had several encouraging interviews, and I am asking God for clarity moving forward.
  3. That we would continue to build relationships and share the gospel with the people that live in our neighborhood. We live right between a low income area and a historic (high dollar) area, so the harvest is plentiful!
  4. That God would give us clarity on His Will moving forward. My long term desire is to get more formal training and church plant at some level.
Psalm 126
"When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dream.
2 Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then they said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
3 The Lord has done great things for us;
we are glad.

4 Restore our fortunes, O Lord,
like streams in the Negeb!
5 Those who sow in tears
shall reap with shouts of joy!
6 He who goes out weeping,
bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
bringing his sheaves with him."

I don't ever regret having to endure tough times because I get to go through them with my God, my incredible wife, and my family and friends. Your faith will be tested and strengthened ONLY in tough times, not easy ones.

Please leave comments...we would love to know how you are doing!

Saturday, October 10, 2009