Thursday, April 29, 2010

New Website

I have moved my blog to - I'm still updating and getting the new format together, but it will include baby updates, pictures, and hopefully at some point I'll be able to set up a podcast of our Wednesday night services!


Thursday, April 22, 2010

My April Newsletter Article

A Gospel Centered Life, or a Religious Life? At the onset you would probably think I was crazy to say that being religious is a problem. Some may say that religion is good for the world, that it promotes morality, values, etc. And you’re right, it does all that. What is it missing though? The Gospel….

Recently I came across a blog post talking about the Gospel Life vs. the Religious Life. I've put in some of my own thoughts as well. Here goes, it talked about:

1) Our reaction when things go bad – A religious life says “God, you owe me this!” But a Gospel life says “God, you owe me nothing except that which you freely give by grace. I trust you more now than ever”

2) Our reaction to others – A religious life says “Hey, at least I’m not as messed up as that guy!” A Gospel life says “By the grace of God that is not me. Only by the cross am I who I am right now”

3) Jesus – A religious life says “Yeah I follow Jesus, and He’s part of my life when I have time. I’m a good guy, I pay my taxes, love my family, etc.” A Gospel life says “Jesus is my greatest treasure, the object of my greatest desires, and the deepest longing of my heart”

I write this to challenge you to examine yourselves, and your families and ask yourself the hard question: “Are we a religious family, or are we a Gospel family?” Gospel centered families aren’t always easy, but the Kingdom rewards and impact are amazing!

Soli Deo Gloria

What to do when your best friend moves

Last night I reopened our "Fishbowl Questions" for our student ministry, which is the chance they have to ask anything they want about the Bible, Christianity, Church History, etc. and I try to answer their question as best I can. One I got last night I won't be answering on a Wednesday night, but felt like I should answer it on here anyway.

The question was "How do you respond when you best friend is moving?"

Sadly, relocation and job transfers and moving are all too common these days. Very rarely do people plant roots in one place for 15 or 20 years, but instead 3-7 is looking more like the norm.

Losing a good friend to a move is never easy, and the hurt that such a loss creates should never be understated or blown off as "being emotional." God created us to live in community, and God created us with a desire for companionship from other people. In short, God created us to desire and want friends. So when we lose one to a move, or worse to death, there is a hole left in our hearts. That's perfectly normal and OK to feel hurt, sad, or down over something like that. You're simply doing what God wired you to do.

For the believer, there is never goodbye. It's just "see you later!" because we trust in the hope of the Resurrection, where we will live forever in community with all those who are identified in Christ. That means you'll get to see your friends again, and I have no doubt that in heaven and later on the redeemed earth, the fellowship and company between friends will be even more amazing than it is now. I look forward to running with Mark again, lifting weights with Jason again, and talking with my friends long dead (Luther, Calvin, CS Lewis, etc.).

Here's _ tips in dealing with this, they come from both personal experience and from seeing others go through similar circumstances:
1) Allow yourself time to be down about it, but don't dwell on it - Grieving is normal and natural, and you should have adequate time to weep and cry over it. But this shouldn't consume you, it should only be for a time.
2) Take comfort in the fact that your separation is only temporary - You'll see each other again! If not here, then in heaven. And how awesome is that!
3) Keep in contact - Think of how much God has allowed us to communicate with one another. What once took weeks in letter writing can now be accomplished immediately through e-mail. And think about the phone, texting, Facebook, and all these other ways we can communicate with each other. Use them! Take advantage of the many ways you have to keep up with each other. We use video chat with our dear friends, and Carrie and I use that when one of us has to be out of town.
4) Take this as a time to make new friends, particularly friends you can be intentional about sharing Christ with - Self-explanatory here
5) Keep praying for them, and send each other quick notes/texts of encouragement
6) Don't isolate yourself because your "best friend" is leaving. This can be extremely dangerous, and very unhealthy. If the period of grief lasts a really long time, it can actually be harmful. If you hold on unnecessarily to a friendship separated by great distance, then you can become co-dependent on that person. Healthy friendships have other friendships. Outside of marriage, you should not have one single solitary person you spend all your time with, pour your heart out to, etc. It's just not healthy.

I hope these are of some help, here's a verse from a song that is fitting as well for goodbyes.

We meet to part, but part to meet
When earthly labors are complete
To join in yet more blest employ
In an eternal world of joy

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Incredibly Humbling Moment

Today I had one of the most humbling moments in my life, sitting in a dark exam room with my wife while she had an ultrasound, and for the first time we heard our baby's heartbeat and could see the outline of what is our son or daughter, who I am exceeding overwhelmingly excited to meet in November.

But in those moments, a couple things came to mind, and I'm going to share them with you.

1) God is amazing - This sounds so simple, but is also so profound. The God who built the entire universe by simply speaking it into existence is also the sovereign God who is over 9 months causing all the things happening to Carrie's body to grow this child. The fact that this process happens is a humbling act in and of itself, but then the grace of God making itself known through advances in technology is incredible. To think that God has enabled us to develop technology that allows us to hear our baby's heartbeat and that we live in a place where that is accessible, it's truly wonderful.

2) The fragility of life - Our baby is right now 1.7 cm in length, roughly the size of a big raspberry. Right now the life that is in Carrie's womb is so fragile, and we have to be careful with what she eats and at this point nothing sounds good to her. But how fragile our child is, how delicate his/her life is. We are humbled by this, and daily pray for our baby's safety and healthy growth. We know that at any moment the worst could happen, and trust in the Lord with this.

3) The fact that I am not in control - This is the hardest one to swallow, that I am not in control of what happens. As a guy, this is very difficult. I want to protect my wife and child, I want to ensure their safety, I want to provide for them and make sure that nothing harms them. I want so desperately for our child to be saved, but I can't even control that.

These are just a few of the many thoughts going through my head today in those brief moments hearing my baby's heart beating and seeing his/her shape develop, many more to come. Keep praying for Carrie, me, and the life that God has entrusted to us. We are not worthy, but He is gracious and good to us.