Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Counter-Cultural Christians

Article Three:

The third and final thing I want to write about for this assignment is the idea of conforming to the image of the world, rather than conforming to the image of Christ. I think this is an issue that my generation really struggles with – and something that is becoming a real danger to our churches today. As more of the world seeps in, more of Christ seeps out.

There are so many examples of this among young adults and teenagers in our churches – ‘fellowship’ nights that are beginning to include drunkenness, Christians that are wrongly citing the passage of ‘becoming all things to all men’ to justify using profanity, engage in impure relationships, etc. Simply put, it is when a Christian begins to compromise.

Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Our goal is to become more like Christ, not the world. As the church, we were called out of the world! Yes, we must still live in it, but shouldn’t non-Christians at least be able to tell who we are?

John says in 1 Jn. 2:15-17, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world--the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions--is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”

Kingdom people should be about kingdom business. We can convert the lost without conforming to the pattern of the world. It’s surely a lot less confusing to them that way! I know it is difficult to be counter-cultural – I particularly struggled with this in high school. But I believe that our generation has the passion and love for God that could bring about a true restoration in the church today! Let’s try to be counter-cultural and follow Paul’s advice to Timothy: “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” (1 Tim. 4:12).

Commission to Submission

Article Two:

Each of us has convictions, doctrines and opinions in our lives that we are passionate about. These are things we hold to and I fully recognize the importance and necessity of these, which define who we are and what we seek. We also have goals, vision and pursuits that truly matter to us and God as we strive to serve Him on this earth. These things are vital. But what role does submission play in these areas of our lives?

This has truly been on my heart lately as I seek transformation into Christ’s likeness. I see the attitude of submission as a key part of Christ’s life. And yet so often, it is downplayed in my own life – or even nonexistent. Submission to God and submission to others was something Christ portrayed on a regular basis. Christ sought out God’s will for his life in each situation, often removing himself to the Garden to spend time with God alone to discern it. The most vivid of these scenes in my mind of course comes from Matthew 26:36-46, when Christ prays an agonizing prayer to let the cup of death pass from him. What a prayer of sheer humanity! And yet, the end of Christ’s prayer is what really stops me. He prays, “Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Christ as a man didn’t want to suffer on that cross, but Christ as the Son of God was willing to submit himself to God’s will and die for the salvation of mankind.

As a child of God, what am I willing to submit myself to God for? Am I willing to do it when suffering could result? What about on a daily basis – am I willing to submit in the small things of life? If it involves my convictions, opinions, goals and pursuits in life, what then? Far too often, submission isn’t the first thing that comes to mind.

We are commanded to submit to God (James 4:7) and to others out of reverence to Him (Eph. 5:21). I am praying for a spirit of submission like this – the kind that Christ had in the Garden. I know I am a far cry away from it, but I also know that the power of God can work within my life. I pray that you will consider whether you also require growth in having a spirit of submission. Are you submitting to God in your decisions and pursuits? Are you submitting to your family on a daily basis? And for the ladies – are you specifically submitting to your husbands? (Eph. 5:22). I think this involves a degree of humility that is completely counter-cultural to our world. It is an attitude that says Christ is sitting on the throne of my heart and others come before self (Phil. 2:3).

Family and Youth Class

For my Family and Youth Ministry class, I am assigned to write three web-logs on issues affecting family and youth in the church. Hope you enjoy them! Feel free to comment.

Article One:

“Unity of the Faith”

Lately, I have really been thinking about the fact that God gave us various spiritual gifts for the purpose of unity. In Eph. 4:11ff, it says he gave us various roles/gifts for a specific purpose – “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ…” Paul goes on to say that we are to grow up into Christ, our head, from whom we are all held together. When each part is working properly, it makes the body grow and build itself up in love. I don’t know about you, but this is a hefty consequence of my using or not using the spiritual gifts God has given me! It’s quite a sobering realization!

Basically, when the body of Christ is functioning as it should – making full use of the spiritual gifts God gave us – we build the church up to unity, maturity and growth! And of course we know from Paul’s prayer in Eph. 3 that we do that through the power of God through his Spirit within. The question is… am I using my spiritual gift and yielding to the process of growth in those areas from the Spirit? And am I encouraging the use of spiritual gifts in those around me (particularly in families and youth striving to be more like Christ and have more involvement in the body)?

I think answering these questions is going to take a lot of prayer, submission to God’s will in my life, spending time in the Word of God to seek growth in my areas of giftedness and consciously making an effort to encourage giftedness in others! I was made keenly aware of this during our team’s MRN training this past week and have been more thoughtful about it since.

For an idea of various spiritual gifts, see Romans 12:6-8. It’s interesting to note that even giving is a spiritual gift! Surely all of us can pursue that at the very least! And at the most, pursue things God has blessed us with natural talents and passions for to benefit his body and help others grow in maturity and unity! My prayer is that you consider your spiritual gifts this week – and encourage the ones you see in others. You may want to take a free giftedness test online –

Friday, June 20, 2008

Around the world in 80 days

Well, we successfully finished our first year of school. We promise a newsletter to come soon! We went straight from finals week into a two-day drive to WV. We stopped in Parkersburg to visit my grandma and cousin and had a great day. We celebrated my cousin passing her RN test! Congrats Michelle!

We next visited with my sister and her fiance for over a week and just enjoyed spending time together in Shepherdstown. We had a great opportunity to worship with the Hagerstown Church of Christ and Robin even taught a youth class there. It was an encouraging time with family!! Please pray for Ashley and Joel as they prepare for their wedding and marriage, it's an exciting time for our family!!

After our visit with them, we drove to Jacksonville, NC to spend a week with my parents. It was such a wonderful time together! We just spent time catching up and also helping with the Roosevelt Drive Church of Christ (our sponsor congregation) VBS. It was a great week with the kids, there were over 60 in attendance and the number kept growing at the end of the week. What a blessing to see those kids learning about God! I had fun chasing around 20 5 and 6-year-olds!! Wow! We also got a chance to go to Wilmington, NC and visit my grandma and her husband John for my grandma's birthday. It was a special evening.

Yesterday, we left for Stirling, Scotland and arrived this morning! It was a long trip and we are jet lagged and tired, but it was one of the smoothest trips we've had. We had an 8-hour layover in Philadelphia and had never been there, so we took a 20-minute train ride into the historic district for a few hours. We saw the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall and Washington Park with the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers. We also stopped by Chinatown and had Chinese pastries and bubble tea (yes, Steph, real bubble tea!!!! Did you know it was a Chinese thing?).

So, we are hitting the ground running with a Youth Day tomorrow here in Stirling. There are kids even coming up for it from England! We look forward to seeing some of the kids we worked with at camp in years past. On Sunday, Robin is preaching at the Stirling congregation. Monday, we are spending time with Robin's grandparents and aunt, uncle and cousins. Tuesday is the mid-week Bible study (Robin may be teaching again) and on Wednesday, we leave for a 3-day vacation (holiday) to Inverness with Robin's parents!!! We're excited for a quiet getaway amidst a very busy trip! It's also a great chance to scope out a growing city that has great potential for a future church plant. Who knows? God surely has a plan and we trust in that whatever it may be!

Following weeks are going to be very busy and include a trip to the north to work with the youth program in Peterhead, where I lived for two years, and visit the missionaries and congregation there and then a trip back down south to work with about three or four other congregations. We also hope to fit in a trip to Ireland to work with a church there!!! As you can see, it's going to be a very busy, but exciting summer of service to the Lord and His church and seeking His will!

Please pray for our safe travels, but more importantly that all of the work be to God's glory. Please also pray for us as we consider the work in Scotland and what plans God has for it -- and for us! We appreciate it so much!!! Have a blessed week!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Going south!

Hello everyone! I can say that with relief, as we just finished our finals today! I know, it's hard to believe another semester is already gone! It seems like we just had Christmas and started this term! It's flown by, but been a real blessing. It was a challenging semester, though. We seem to have hit burnout a few weeks back. But we pressed on and made it through this week, including a brutal Ed Wharton final in Scheme of Redemption today. We did our best!

And now, we head to Mexico in the morning!!! We're excited!!! This will fulfill our foreign campaign credit. We got the opportunity through another congregation in Lubbock to join a work campaign to an orphanage in northern Mexico, just outside of Chihuahua. We will be refurbishing dorms for the kids, and of course when we get free time playing with the kids and trying to encourage them. Of course, we don't speak Spanish, but we do speak the international language of soccer! :) Please pray for our safe travels tomorrow! Thanks!!!!

It's going to be a fly-by couple of weeks, as when we return from our Mexico mission trip, we begin a campaign in Lubbock with our school. We are canvasing the entire city in an effort to spread the gospel. We'll be doing different methods, including coffee shop ministry, door knocking, benevolence work and I hope to grab some students at Texas Tech too! Please pray that hearts will be opened during this campaign and that God will get all the glory!

After three days of the Lubbock campaign, we'll be flying to NC for my dad's retirement after 30 years in the Marine Corps! We are so very blessed to be able to take part in this special day with him! If you don't know, this is a huge deal for the Marine Corps, and for our family. It's going to be an event to remember! Don't worry, I'll take lots of photos.

Well, I'm off to finish packing and get eveything ready for the big trip! Thanks to all those who support us and make it possible for us to serve the Lord in these ways. We love you all and miss you loads!!!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

a skunk and a scone

Well, this Valentine's Day has proved eventful already. Let me tell you about our skunk saga this week...

Monday morning we woke up to the rancid smell of skunk. One had gotten under our house through a hole around the side. Apparently, skunks are running rampant in Hale Center. The skunk must have sprayed to get rid of the stray cats that live under our house that we feed daily. Yes, we feed 5 stray cats. I can't help it, they're so cute!!!

So, we called the city at the advice of a deacon in our church and they came to set up a skunk trap. Apparently, this is a normal occurence in Hale Center. We put an egg inside and set the trap. We waited for a few days.

Wednesday morning we woke up to a skunk in our trap. It was soooo cute! It was digging around until it curled up inside and slept most of the day. I have to insert here that I worked at a zoo in high school and we had a descented skunk in our petting zoo. It was SO cute and would curl up in my lap with its little feet wrapped around my arms. Ok, so I obviously have soft spot for the critters (aside from, of course, their aroma).

Wednesday afternoon, two city workers come around to take the skunk away. Only, the short one gets sprayed. They tried to cover it with a blanket to calm it down, but it was too windy. The short one said, "Well, we'll come back in an hour when the skunk is calmed down." Coming back in an hour means coming back to take it away right? WRONG!

An hour later on Wednesday afternoon, we look out the window and see the short city guy coming to our door with a rifle. That's right. You heard me. A rifle. Would anyone else be concerned about this? I was. I begged Robin to talk him out of shooting the skunk. He did. What a husband, eh girls? So the short guy leaves and says he'll come back tomorrow.

Thursday morning, as I am making chocolate chip scones for a Valentine's Day breakfast, the city employees come back. They try to cover the skunk cage with a blanket again, but the skunk sprays like 3 times. The city guys are getting annoyed, so they call a local cop to come and shoot it!!! Welcome to West Texas!!!!

Well, Robin knows how strongly I want the skunk to live (I was quite upset, which I know is a little dorky, but I can't help it), so he starts trying to talk the short guy out of it again. The cop rolls up, just as they try one last time to get the blanket on. It's a success!!! The cop is all annoyed and wants to shoot it anyway (how unfair for the little guy). But thankfully, the skunk is carted away to the city truck to be released outside of town, as they originally promised!!!

Ahhhhh... I am now breathing a sigh of relief for the skunk, lighting every candle we own to rid our house from the smell, and enjoying my chocolate chip scones topped with cream. Happy Valentine's Day everyone!!!!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

a stripe with a smell

Robin and I are enjoying our research week so far. Our dear friend Crystal came and spent the weekend in Lubbock and we had a great time! It is so refreshing to see old friends. We also had one of our classmates from NY over for dinner Friday night and it was such an encouragement. We just love time of fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ!

Since then, we've been trying to stay busy with all of our homework. We have quite a bit of it this week -- a 10-page research paper, 2 books to read, a book report, a 13-outline lesson series, a take home test and memorizing Matthew 5!!! Haha. You have to admire Sunset for keeping us in the Word constantly!!

As for a more exciting event of this week, we woke up on Sunday morning to the pungent smell of skunk wafting through our bedroom!!! We think a skunk got in under our house somehow. We called the city hall and they said it was happening alot around here lately. They came and set up a trap in our yard. So far, no luck! Today, the smell subsided so maybe Mr. Skunk snuck away during the night. Gotta love west Texas!!!

Robin and I are hoping to get our work done as quickly as we can so that we can take a one night camping trek up at Palo Alto Canyon near Amarillo. We've been dying to check this canyon out -- it's the second biggest in the country and only an hour and a half away!

Well, I'm off to do some reading and memorizing. Hope you're all doing well. Have a great week!!!