Saturday, October 31, 2009

"Why do we pray?"

One day last week, I wanted to call Carrie (I had been out of town all week). However, I had no agenda. I just wanted to call her. I simply wanted to call in order to feel like I was in her presence, to remind my heart again of what I love about her.

Then I realized this is at least one reason why we pray. We are not yet in the immediate presence of Christ, but we long for him. We want to be in heaven where our fellowship is uninterrupted. Until that day, we pray so that we may get a small taste of his presence and to be reminded why we love and delight in him.

Prayer is to the Christian what a cell phone is to a husband who is travelling, away from his wife, but wanting to be with her.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Are You Sure You Like Spurgeon?

A lot of people LOVE Charles Spurgeon because he was an amazing evangelist. Some people have never thought about the theology that motivated his evangelism. Here's an interesting article, Are You Sure You Like Spurgeon?

Here's a taste: Spurgeon writes In Defence of Calvinism,
"The doctrine of justification itself, as preached by an Arminian, is nothing but the doctrine of salvation by works...[T]here is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified, unless we preach what nowadays is called Calvinism. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else.

I do not believe we can preach the gospel, if we do not preach justification by faith, without works; nor unless we preach the sovereignty of God in His dispensation of grace; nor unless we exalt the electing, unchangeable, eternal, immutable, conquering love of Jehovah; nor do I think we can preach the gospel, unless we base it upon the special and particular redemption of His elect and chosen people which Christ wrought out upon the cross; nor can I comprehend a gospel which lets saints fall away after they are called, and suffers the children of God to be burned in the fires of damnation."

Thursday, October 29, 2009

"Do It in God’s Strength"

I typically cringe inside when I her people saying “we just need to do it in God’s strength”. That sounds odd, but here’s why. I rarely her anyone explain what they practically mean by that. How do they discern doing something in their own strength versus His strength? I am practical. I want to know what is happening in their heart or actions.

I recently saw a dynamic in my soul. I have long strived after various points in my Christian growth. I have wondered why sometimes the Lord does not bless my efforts, yet other times, He pours out grace. James 1:25 says we will be “blessed in our doing”, yet so often my doing leads to no progress. So what is the deal?

I see that one difference in the ground of my confidence. Much of the time, I am expecting my self-discipline, problem solving, and planning will get the job done. So much in my life has been accomplish by raw effort. I therefore apply that to my sanctification (my maturity in Christ). I also can discern a second motive which is grounded more in Scripture. Sometimes, my striving is motivated by the fact that (a) I am simply overjoyed in who God is, and (b) I am sure that God’s blesses those who seek after Him (Heb. 11:6) and not merely some goal.

Paul is actually pretty explicit on this point. Philippians 2:12-13 says, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”

Notice the GROUNDS for Paul’s challenge to obey, “FOR it is God who….” Some people say, “If God is sovereign over my life, heart, and sanctification, why try?” Well, Paul saw it the others way. Because God asserts Himself upon our affections, we have hope we’re progress. Here that last sentence” Because it is God works to will and work in us, we can mature. To think otherwise is nothing less that pride and presumption. What makes you or I think we’ll wake up Christians tomorrow except for the sustaining grace of God upon our hearts.

How does this relate to the “in his strength” line we often hear? Let me link a few verses.

1 Peter 4:10-11 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace….whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies--in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.

Then in 5:2, Paul says to elder-pastors: “shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly;

Finally, Neh. 8:10, “the joy of the LORD is your strength.”

The strength God provides enabling us to obey comes from a joy in Christ and a hope for great satisfaction in Him. What really motivates your service and sanctification? A sense of achievement? Fear? A desire for recognition? Or for the pleasure of see grace manifest in your life, in the hope that your affection for Him would increase more and more and more?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Why I'm not at all like Jesus

I am sitting in a quiet house, eating leftover spaghetti with some added spicy pepper sauce and a cold coke zero. My angel and wonderful friend, DY, took the kids for a sleepover. All of them. At the same time.

I'm actually not sure what I'm going to write at the moment. This is Carrie, by the way. My wonderfully disciplined husband would never start a blog with no idea of how it's going to end. But that's just who I am. With most things, I start them enthusiastically and hope that in the process nobody gets maimed or looses a limb.

Here's the deal: I am not at all like Jesus.

Do I want to be...yes, desperately. Am I even This is not a pity blog, but more of a stream of consciousness. For instance, I just dropped a chopstick on the floor and left it there. I looked for it for a brief second, couldn't find it immediately and then took a small lick of the sauce from off the floor. Jesus would not have done that. He would have persevered and found the chopstick. I'm not sure about licking sauce from off the floor. It's a great sauce so I'm pretty sure he might have licked.

I have realized of late that I can't love people well who are different that me. And honestly, I get annoyed by too many people. Food smackers, line cutters, spitters, abc applique jump suit wearing elementary school teachers, christian singers who don't sing about God...ever, cute camp girls, people who say 'just' 83 times while they are praying, and the list goes on really. That's ridiculous. Jesus wouldn't do that either.

I still want to look cute and sassy. I feel like I shouldn't still breakout on my 33 year old face, but I do. And it bothers me. I want to get cute haircuts that sashay in the breeze, wear cute scarves that match the changing leaves of fall, to wear cute winter boots with those little tassle thingies. I shouldn't care. But I do. Jesus wouldn't do that. Stick with the white robe and the birks. It works for Jesus. He's never consummed with fitting in. Yet, so often my mind calculates what to say, how to dress, when to laugh, what to read...all based on what the world tells me I should do in order to have people flock to my side. It's goofy.

I could blog about these shortcomings forever. My life is covered in failings. But it is also spotted in Grace. Praise the Lord for Jesus and His example. And that God gave us the cross and the Holy Spirit so that we have the ability to change our affections. You can't muster up affections. They are gifted to us. And I pray on a daily basis that my affections would be for Christ and his character.

I'm not even sure how to label this post. To put it under 'theological reflections,' seems to cheapen the other entries in that section. But here goes.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

today i saw...

today I saw:

This menu that is unfortunately inverted from Photo Booth:


Chocolate Pizza
mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce and chocolate

Banana Pizza
mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce, cinnamon and banana

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Truth Behind Arrogance

One reason we are unceasingly trying to prove ourselves right and worthy of others' admiration is that such conclusions are so blatantly false. We are sinners, deserving of the worse unimaginable punishment. Just as we would not persist in fighting the laws of mathematics, so let us admit what is so obvious to everyone else.

The Voice in Your Head (Part 2)

What a frightening responsibility to be a teacher, particularly people's pastor! For better or worse, the voice they hear teaching them the Bible will be to them as the voice of God. Whether good or bad, when they think on God's voice, his tone, and emphasis, they will often hear your voice. How sobering. What trembling this should evoke!

Will they hear compassion and gentleness? Will they hear conviction and firmness? With they hear practical counsel and honest assessments? Will they hear sober words of joy? Or will they hear flippantness, harshness, complaining, impatience, and an irrelevant clanging of words? What effect ought this to have on us as we prepare to speak, ready our hearts, and consider their needs. This is no casual task. Proceed with reverence.

The Voice in Your Head

Martin Lloyd Jones wisely says in his classic, Spiritual Depression, "Most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself.”

As someone who, while working, exercising, and moving from one place to another, listens to 5-7 sermons a week, I can appreciate the power of words.

The voice in your head greatly impacts the way you live your life. We become like those we listen to, whether a critical parent or a tenderhearted pastor. Their habits, tone, and content direct our own hearts and actions. We will hear that voice when we walk, pray, write, and solve problems. The Spirit sometimes takes on those godly voices. Satan speaks through the complaining and argumentative around us. It is thus no surprise to us, having experienced this dynamic in our own hearts, that we then see our children becoming like us, particularly in their temperament and speech. Thanksgiving, patience, shortness, and quickness of speech are all possible fruits of our hours and years of pouring words as seeds into their hearts. The voice in their head shall guide their (and our) lives.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Pleasure unto Adoration

In our family we frequently use the ACTS forms of praying [Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication]. Like most adults I know, our kids cannot easily distinguish thanksgiving from adoration. Perhaps the following quote will help us all.

"Pleasures are shafts of glory as it strikes our sensibility … I have tried to make every pleasure into a channel of adoration. I don’t mean simply by giving thanks for it. One must of course give thanks, but I meant something different …

Gratitude exclaims, very properly, “How good of God to give me this.” Adoration says, “What must be the quality of that Being whose far-off and momentary coruscations [you'll have to look this word up!] are like this!” One’s mind runs back up the sunbeam to the sun … If this is Hedonism, it is also a somewhat arduous discipline. But it is worth some labour."

[C.S. Lewis, Letters to Malcolm Chiefly on Prayer (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1963), 89–90.]

All 5 octaves, baby

I have laughed until I cried watching this. I don't know....maybe it's just me.

Monday, October 12, 2009

City ABC's

Every Saturday, we have family night. This week, we took out the camera and found the entire alphabet in the city. Below, we spelled 'today'

Here ya go:

We had a blast. And our 3 year old even participated. In my usually over zealous plans, I'm going to print out each kids name using these letters and put them in their rooms. We'll see. But I'm really excited about how they turned out.

Friday, October 09, 2009

today i saw...

I will tell you, this is a dangerous post. Dangerous, because I could fill up two or three blogs full of things that I see that are "post-worthy" in a given day. I will try and control myself in the posting in the "today i saw..." series. I actually lifted this idea from another blog, but she does it every day and adds a picture. But, I can't remember the blog name. So, sorry, random blog person.

Here we go:

today i saw...

A middle-aged, overweight Chinese man sporting a gray sports coat, white with pink pin strips polo shirt, purple sweat pants, black ballerina slippers and a comb over.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Fall crafts

We just finished our pumpkins for fall. We made some of these at Easter and the kids loved doing them. So we brought out the homemade glue and did them again. We'll probably do them again for Thanksgiving too. We're making leaf cookies today and are going to fill them.

We make shifted some cookie cutters out of foil and tape. Then the kids cut around the shapes to make fun leaf shaped cookies. After a while, we abandoned the shapes and made snails, moon, smiley faces and houses.

We invited friends to put frosting and colored sugar on the cookies and eat. They were wonderful. You can make homemade colored sugar by just adding some food coloring to sugar and tossing it around. So next time, don't buy it.

And finally, our paper mache pumpkins. They turned out really cute. We filled them with cookies and gave them away. A great start to fall. I love fall by the way.

Together For Adoption

James 1:27 "Pure and undeviled religion before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world."

Together For Adoption is a group of pastors, speakers, and churches that is encouraging the church to take up the cause of orphans worldwide. This website has so many resources for those interested in adoption. There are books, sermons, agencies, scholarships, articles and so much more. Take time to check them out. Even if you cannot adopt (right now :) ), then educate yourself so that you can encourage others to adopt. This is an issue that Christians MUST open their eyes to.

We have been really encouraged at so many that are now adopting worldwide. Almost once a week, we get an email from a friend or a friend of a friend who is wanting to adopt.

If you are thinking of adopting, PLEASE give us an email and ask any questions you've got. And if money seems to be the issue, there are scholarships and ways to make it work. Trust me. If we did it, anyone can do it. God is faithful.

I cannot watch this video and not weep for the orphan crisis. If it were up to me, we'd have 100 more added to our family.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Pretty day, pretty faces

It was a BEAUTIFUL day today. I don't like being inside, so out we went...and the camera went with us.


Patience is the capacity to "wait and to endure" without murmuring and disillusionment-to wait in the unplanned place, and endure the unplanned pace.

-Piper "Faith in Future Grace"

Thursday, October 01, 2009


This will be brief, because I, Carrie, am writing this entry. It would feel weird to do a long drawn out post about my own birthday. But I did want to post a couple of pictures from our birthday dinner. Getting old doesn't really freak me out at all. I don't know, age has never been a big deal to me. I guess being 33 and already having 5 kids makes me feel young. And everyday, the Chinese remind me that I'm too young to have so many kids.

We had barbecue for my birthday dinner. I love barbecue. So we headed to a local place. Anywhere that I can throw the bones and pea pods on the table or floor is a great restaraunt in my book. And if you can leave the table looking like this:

then it's definately a good meal.

I got flowers from my family and friends and B gave me a nap! It was a wonderful birthday. Thank you guys for all your emails and facebook messages!!
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