Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Redeemed Reprobates

This thought struck me last night while driving home from my parent's house--Jesus redeemed us knowing we would continue to sin. It would have been one thing if in our redeemed state we never sinned again, but we are redeemed reprobates. Not only did Christ die for us "while we were yet sinners," (Romans 5:8) he died for us who still sin even after redemption.

Because of my continual sin, "I'm so thankful," as Caedmon's Call sings, "that I'm incapable of doing any good on my own." Any good I do doesn't make one bit of difference. "All my righteous acts are like filthy rags," Isaiah says. I'm damned all the same. Or was, until Jesus came along. Now, when God looks at me, He sees the righteousness of Jesus. (1 Corinthians 1:30) We are justified through faith alone by grace alone in Christ alone, as the Reformation emphasized. I am so thankful that "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the worst." (1 Timothy 1:15)

Sunday, January 27, 2008

12 bowls of salsa later

Today my church celebrated our third anniversary, and what a party it was. :) We had a grand time, even those who helped plan it got to enjoy themselves. We had a salsa competition [food, not dance], photo scavenger hunt, toasts to the leaders [whom we made wear massive sombreros], potluck and pinata. Such a good time! And after it was over, everyone pitched in to help clean-up in a record time.

As I sat during the potluck holding Gracie [seven months], I was looking around at the faces thinking about how dear these people had become in just a few short months. I first visited Oikos around July of '07 and started coming regularly at the end of August or beginning of September. I didn't know a soul when I first came, but now I feel at home here. Thanks to events like a women's retreat and involvement in Community Group, the music team and Sunday School, I've gotten to meet some amazing people who also call Oikos home.

It's an honor for me to gather there weekly with other like-minded people to glorify God corporately. I am thankful for the leaders, who take their responsibilities seriously, but also let us do fun things like dress them up in sombreros. I'm thankful that their passion is to glorify God in everything that happens. I'm thankful for the excellence with which everything is approached, the way kids are loved and cherished by everyone, not just their parents, how the Word of God is preached without fail and how we are continually pointed to the Cross. I'm thankful for the laughter and warmth I experience when I walk in. Even more so, I thank God that He brought me here and allows me to be a part of such an amazing church.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Book Review: Small Town, Big Miracle

Even though I am not some insanely well-read person like Thea or a philosophical nerd--er, genius like Jacob, I thought I would try my hand at some book reviews. This will be the first of (hopefully) many and will help keep me accountable to read more and do other stuff less!

Title: Small Town, Big Miracle
Author: W.C. Martin

This is book is about a topic very close to my heart--adoption. Small Town, Big Miracle tells the story of Possum Trot, Texas, a small-town church of 200 people who adopted 72 kids from the foster care system. Written by the pastor of the church, he tells how their interest in adoption was piqued and how God led them and guided them through the challenges of foster adoption. It's not a particularly well-written book, and I would take issue with some of their theology, but the story is quite enjoyable. It is encouraging to see a group of Christians taking seriously the command to "look after orphans" (James 1:27). Obviously, looking after doesn't equal adoption for everyone, but it does for some.

Small Town, Big Miracle is a pretty quick read that is encouraging and challenging to read (especially as I would like to adopt older kids, Lord and husband willing). You can order it online, or ask me to borrow it and I will sweet talk my mother into letting me lend it to you. :)

I'm practically famous!

Well, not really, but the blogging guys at work were kind enough to post something I wrote about Customer Service. Check it out:

Sunday, January 20, 2008

"Children are made readers on the laps of their parents"-Emilie Buchwald

[I'll expound upon the quote later, but first I want to start with a story...]

Last night at the E Street House:
[Setting is around 11:30 p.m., Elizabeth and Bethany's bedroom]

After some random chit-chat about serial killers and terrorists*
Elizabeth: Do you mind if I keep my light on to finish my book?
Bethany: No, that's fine. Betty [stuffed sheep] and I will watch you.
Elizabeth: Do you want me to just read it out loud?
Bethany: Yes.
Elizabeth: Seriously?
Bethany: Yes.

I then proceeded to read the last two chapters of Prince Caspian aloud to my roommate (and her stuffed sheep), and loved it. I grew up in a reading family and everyday after lunch, we would eat apple slices while my mom read aloud to us. This has become a treasured memory for me, and something I hope to do in the future, not only with my own children, but with my husband as well. Reading out loud isn't just for kids--I have a good friend who reads out loud with her friends at school.

For the last week or so, I have been pondering what makes it so powerful and unique from reading silently. Obviously, reading out loud is generally shared with someone else (unless one is listening to an audio book). You also need to pay more attention as you have to read each word. I know I sometimes skim things, or read them too quickly, but last night while reading out loud, I literally stopped at least twice because something in the story happened that I didn't expect.

Last year at school, I was able to both participate in and experience an event in which the entire Bible was read out loud from start to finish, 24/7 without stopping. Its name escapes me, but it was powerful to go into a room and just hear the Bible being read. I got to read part of the Old Testament and was there when the last verses of Revelation were uttered. Granted, the Bible, being God-breathed and "sharper than any two-edged sword" is more piercing and powerful than any other book that has ever been written. Still, though, I think that reading even non-biblical books out loud is an experience unlike anything else.

I find the quote used in this post's title to be quite true and inspiring. It will most likely grace the walls or bookshelves of my house someday. I am trying to make reading more of a priority in my life, a discipline which I hope will bear fruit in my life not only as a single woman, but also, Lord willing, as a someday wife and mother.

Potentially useful links:
"On Reading Widely
"I read to my kids" [facebook group]
Books suggestions from Jim Trelease

*=Bethany recently read books about serial killers and terrorists. That is why we were talking about them. Not because we like them or anything like that.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Animals =/= people

So one of the common commercials that plays on a local tv station is for the SPCA. It starts out with a sorrowful looking lady mourning the abuse that animals suffer everyday. Now, I love animals. My family has almost always had a cat, dog or some combination thereof, and I am so thankful that God gave them to us.
However...animals are not people. They are not made in the image of the Triune God like people are (Genesis 1:27). In the commercial I previously mentioned, you could replace almost every mention of "animal" with "people" or "kids" and it would sadly hold true. I'm currently reading a book about adoption (about which I will blog later) that contains snippets of some horrific stories these kids experienced. You may accuse me of being a cynic or animal hater (which I am most definitely not), but I'm not--I simply believe that people are the most important. Jesus died for people, not animals.
Should we care about animals? Absolutely. (Genesis 2) Value them on the same level as people? Not so much.

[I have seen some statistics about Americans spending enough on pet care in one year to essentially solve world hunger. I did a little bit of googling to this end, but didn't come up with much. Just found one site that said Americans spent an estimated $40.8 billion on pet care last year. If anyone has any facts to confirm or deny this, they would be very welcome.]

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Why I don’t like the phrase “Christmas Spirit” (and don’t think it’s Biblical)

Some reflections after Christmas 2007...

You may accuse me of being a Scrooge when you read this…so be it.
Anyway, frequently heard around the month of December, is the phrase “Christmas Spirit” is tossed around, as in “show a little Christmas spirit,” or “do you have the Christmas spirit?” I have pondered this for a few Christmas seasons now, and have come to realize that, as the title of this post says, it isn’t Biblical, and is annoying. ;)

First things first, when someone talks about the “Christmas spirit,” what are they meaning? Usually things like peace on earth and goodwill toward men. Fine things to be sure, but apart from Christ, they will never happen. Having the Christmas spirit is frequently seen as a reason to be kind to others, give to those in need, etc. However, shouldn’t we be doing those things all year round? I’m not quite sure what makes the month of December the one month where we should be nicer and kinder to people. If you are a Christian (and I would guess most of the three people reading this are), we are called to clothe ourselves with “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” (Col. 3:12) Now, I may be missing something, but I didn’t see anything in there about how we should make extra effort to show those traits during the Christmas season. The fruit of the Spirit is not limited to December.

I’m not going to suggest that we turn the phrase “Christmas Spirit” into “Christian Spirit” (that’s far too cheesy), but why don’t we show unusual kindness and love all year ‘round?