Sunday, November 29, 2009

jesus saves from the american dream

being different from the culture only happens as a gift from God. its not something we can work hard enough at until we get to the point that our lives line up with the bible... God does tell his followers to work out our salvation [phil. 2:12], and to press on to maturity [hebrews 6:1], but says that this will only happen if God permits [hebrews 6:3].

there have been some encouraging victories in my life where God has really been working to change me to line me up more with His character, and these things are especially apparent when i am around people who dont claim to follow jesus. one example is that i used to hate the idea of motherhood, tensing up every time i thought about it. graciously God has changed that in the past few years, to the point now where i am willing to take that step and make that sacrifice. i am reminded of God's grace to change me in this way when i have told my co-workers about the fact that we are adopting, i have gotten a look of surprise and bewilderment (because of my young age) almost every time the subject comes up.

but there are ways that jesus is still in the process of saving me from the american dream. one area i especially struggle in is going to stores with nice stuff or going to people's houses who own lots of nice stuff. i instantly get jealous, and want to have a nice house with nice stuff... and then a second later i judge those people who have the nice house/nice stuff, or the people who are at the store paying the ridiculously high prices for things.

your desire and my desire for the american dream (and anything else we want more than God) is sin that jesus died on the cross to pay for. he also died to pay for our sin of self-righteousness when we feel more spiritual than other people who are pursing the american dream. what leads to maturity is to remembering that its in God's hands... and throwing ourselves down before Him, asking Him to change us.

if any of this rings true in your life, you might enjoy this lecrae video as much as i do. in the background are some clips from my favorite mark driscoll sermon, i especially love this quote:

"in our day, rebel means sinner. but everyone is sinning, so its no longer rebellious to sin"

in what ways are you rebellion against the culture, or struggling to do so?

Friday, November 27, 2009

the weight of sin

there is perhaps no passage more insistent upon the depth of our sin than romans 3:10-18.

this is a passage i have really loved for a while, but in reading "chosen by God", sproul has taken it even deeper for me.

"None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands;
no one seeks for God."

most people would agree that "no one is righteous", a common response i get when i share my faith is "nobody's perfect!" however (as Paul goes into later) God says that not only is no one perfect, but we can't even do a single good thing.

something that sproul pointed out about the above verse that smacked me on the head was this:
"how many times have you heard christians say, or have you heard the words from your own mouth, "so and so is not a christian, but he's searching"? It is a common statement among christians. the idea is that there are people all over the place who are searching for God. their problem is that they just haven't been able to find him. he is playing hide and seek. he is elusive.

in the garden of eden when sin came into the world, who hid? Jesus came into the world to seek and to save the lost. Jesus wasn;t the one who was hiding. God is not a fugitive. we are the ones on the run."

"All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one."
"Their throat is an open grave;
they use their tongues to deceive."
"The venom of asps is under their lips."
"Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness."
"Their feet are swift to shed blood;
in their paths are ruin and misery,
and the way of peace they have not known."

the idea that people cant do good is controversial. many people who have no claims to be christians have done wonderful things. one of the many examples would angelina jolie who has adopted many orphans and given lots of money to africa.

sproul writes about the concept of "enlightened self-interest", which he defines as "that motivation we all feel to perform external righteousness and to restrain some evil impulses within ourselves". this enlightened self-interest does lead us to do some "good" things. however, even our most selfless acts are still tainted with sin (for example, the desire for people's approval, or for God's approval.)

in light of our inability to do anything good without false motives shows that we really cant do anything good, just as the bible states. i love how vividly paul describes this when he says "The venom of asps is under their lips. "Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness." etc etc... this almost sounds extreme, but doesn't even come close to describing the reality of how horrible our sin is in the eyes of God.

"There is no fear of God before their eyes."

this statement caps off paul's point. we dont fear God. we just can't, apart from him allowing it.

as a side note, and a possible future post, if you believe this doctrine of sin, that humans in our natural state are full of sin and incapable of doing any good, then you are on the first step towards believing the doctrine of sovereign grace (that it is fully God's choice to whom to give grace).

Thursday, November 26, 2009

he wasn't in a coma... he was actually fully conscious for the past 23 years

this week on the radio i heard a very interesting story about a man from europe who was thought to have been in a coma for 23 years. in fact, he was actually just paralyzed. his brain functioning is entirely normal, but ever since the 80's doctors assumed that he had little to no brain function.

the doctors said that this may be true for up to 40% of others in a vegetative state.

this got me thinking more about life and life with disabilities. it seems that people are quick to see people like this as less than human, even to the point of encouraging euthanasia in this type of situation. i hope this story will spread and make people think twice about their assumptions of people with severe disabilities. i wonder how many other people in the world are assumed to be in a vegetative state but are actually fully conscious?

watch/read more about it here:

Monday, November 23, 2009

what i'm learning from my kiddos

i work part time as a behavior therapist with kids with autism and down's syndrome.

i just took the job because it was offered and i needed one... but i have been learning so much in the process. here are some of the things i have learned about myself, about God, about kids and about the world... its been pretty cool.

*some things are innate [just like God made it to be]. there is a girl in one of the classrooms i work in, we'll call her anna [not her real name]. anna is pretty mild mannered and i would guess that she has a moderate developmental disability, possibly retardation, but i don't know that as a fact. she is non-verbal and fairly low functioning. however, every day, anna wants to help out with the kids in the wheel chairs, pushing them, stroking them on the head, cleaning up their spit. its been a reminder to me of how God gives us natures- men and women- that are in line with what he created us for. anna can't do a lot of school work, but she has an innate desire to care for others that are even lower functioning than herself, to mother them. and i think that's pretty cool. :)

*another belief i have about how God created the world is that we are born a sin nature, meaning that from the time we are born, we desire to do what is contrary to God's nature. i find it interesting that many of the kids i work with have pretty extreme negative behaviors, but few (if any) extreme positive behaviors. i have kids that will hit and pull hair and yell and cry, but none that hug too much or are overly compliant or ask me frequently (or ever) how they can help out. their behaviors are selfish, and self-centered. now dont get me wrong, i absolutely love the kids i work with, but its hard not to notice that they tend towards sin, and only play by the rules when they absolutely have to.

*i am more patient (at times) than i thought i could be. i have sat without flinching while being hit, pinched, choked, and having my hair pulled out. probably good practice for motherhood.

*investing into young lives is exciting and rewarding. but it will be even more exciting and even more rewarding when they are my own, and the investment i make will play out for a lifetime.

*one thing i think about a lot is how i treat God like these kids treat me. one girl i work with stomps her foot and sometimes hits me when i make her wear her glasses. all the kids i work with get upset when i make them do school work. another girl i work with gets upset when i make her use her sign language to communicate. all of these things are for their good, but you would think i was torturing them. however, i know that i do the same with God, when he it trying to teach me, mold me, grow me and love me.

the job is hard in many ways, but i am excited that God is allowing me to do it for this season of life.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

books about predestination are a girl's best friend

i love love love to read.

a book that i am reading right now that i am really enjoying is "chosen by God" by rc sproul. in the book he writes about the doctrine of predestination (basically the idea that God decides, before we are born, whether our final destination is heaven or hell) and answers some of the biggest questions/objections to this doctrine.

here are some of the questions he answers/points he makes:

*if God decides people's destiny, then are people just basically robots?
sproul's answer is a firm no. people are allowed by God to choose what they want. however, the bible makes it clear that people (in our natural state) want sin (romans 1, 5), we want to be separated from God to do what we want. no one will ever choose God on our own, we will always choose sin, because we are enslaved to it (titus 3). however, when God opens some people's eyes to his mercy, they truly want his mercy and accept it.

therefore, whether christian or not, we are all choosing what we truly want.

*if God chooses some people to receive his forgiveness and be known by him, does he also specifically choose other people to not receive forgiveness?
yes, this is known as double predestination.
in that case, does God put evil in the hearts of non-believers just as he puts a desire for Himself in the hearts of believers? NO!!! this would be evil, and God is not the author of evil and doesn't tempt people (james 1:13). when the bible speaks, for example, of God hardening pharaoh's heart (exodus 7) this is an example of his passive wrath, where he isn't actively doing it, he just allows it to happen. and when God doesn't intervene in our sin, we dig deeper and deeper into it... and our hearts get hardened (romans 1 also explains this process).

*sproul also points out that contrary to popular teaching today, rebirth/regeneration precedes faith. in other words, God doesn't remove our sin because we place our faith in him, as some kind of reward. God forgives our sin and cleanses us, and when he does so we are no longer enslaved to sin and therefore are able to believe in him. first, new birth, then faith.

good stuff :)

speaking of RC Sproul, even though his podcasts are among the top ten listened to on itunes, apparently he has never sent an email and never gotten on the internet!!!! [who has time to when you're so godly?]

i recommend mark driscoll's interview series with sproul. here is the first one, where he talks about his lack of internet ability:

Saturday, November 21, 2009

population control of non-white races... the foundation of planned parenthood

"The abortion industry kills as many Black people every four days as the Klan killed in 150 years." -Rev. Childress

[if you are viewing this via an rss feed, you may need to click through to see the video]

on rejoicing

i don’t know if i rejoiced a single day this week. i am most definitely not proud to admit this.

i have many “excuses” why this is true; namely because of spending more than 8 hours this week in la traffic [i really highly dislike driving], still dealing with the emotions of my dad’s death, and trying to trust God amidst some uncertainties with alex’s job.

just now i read a puritan prayer that really shook me [i like reading the dead guys… if they are still being published, you pretty much know that it has to be good].

“for whatever a man trusts in,
from that he expects happiness.

He who is the ground of thy faith
Should be the substance of thy joy”

wow! that woke me up a bit. i definitely expect happiness. who doesn’t in this culture? we are told that we should always be happy, in fact the pursuit of it is an "unalienable Right" according to the declaration of independence. and if we cant bring that about ourselves, there is a pill that will fix it.

the problem comes when i am expecting it to come from a place other than jesus christ.

“whence then come heaviness and dejection…
art thou seeking rejoice in thyself
from an evil motive of pride and self-reputation?”

another gold nugget of conviction. when I get mad at the la traffic and annoying drivers, i am not only putting myself first, but worshiping myself, believing it needs to all revolve around me and go according to my plan.

and why exactly did i lose my joy in the first place? he answers it here:

“thou has nothing of thine own but sin,
nothing to move God to be gracious,
or to continue his grace towards thee.
if thou forget this thou wilt lose thy joy.”

there is no question that i lost sight of this this week… how undeserving i am of God’s continual lavish gifts to me, how i was dead in my sin, weak, ungodly and moreover, God’s enemy (all from romans 5:6-10). in addition God has helped me to “leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity” [well, I progressively maturing, not “there” yet]… which hebrews 6 makes clear only happens “if God permits”. Heavy words!

the writer finishes with:
“let God be all in all to thee,
and joy in the fountain that is always full.”

full. nothing else can boast that.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

my evolution of differentiation

when i was in high school, i thought that the best way to share my faith was to be as much like everyone else as possible, but just a little happier and having a little bit more fun.

in college, i started to realize that my life should look different from the rest of the world if i was truly a christian. however, in many ways i still accommodated the world, not wanting to be too radical in my faith, lest i push some people away from jesus.

"do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? therefore, whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God" james 4:4

the more i grow in my faith, the more that i realize that God is changing me to be radically different than my peers who know christ. in some ways it is very uncomfortable. but i do rejoice that God is changing me and making me more like Himself.

here is a quote i absolutely love from one of my favorite mark driscoll sermons ever:

"Tell me if this is a great place. Tell me if the addiction, compulsion, suicide, death… that is not a culture of life and grace and freedom and joy… its not.

So, here’s the deal, we are an alternative lifestyle church…

Getting naked, being gay, getting drunk, that’s not an alternative that’s the majority.

You want to be counter-cultural? You want to be a total rebel? Get a job.

Want to be countercultural, totally alternative, radical?! Be a VIRGIN until you get married…. To a person of the OPPOSITE gender…. And then STAY married and pump out some kids…. And pay your taxes and read your bible… you FREAK. You’ll be just totally the rebel."

more to come on my rebellion against the culture...

Monday, November 16, 2009

having children and loving it

i used to hate the idea of having kids.

the idea of children being a blessing from God was another one of those things that came first as head knowledge and later as heart knowledge. again, i held off for so long on really embracing God’s plan in this area mostly due to my selfishness.

i was blessed to have a mother who stayed at home to raise me from a very young age, so I am fortunate to have a positive view of stay at home moms. i always thought that I would like to stay at home with my kids, but i wanted that to be later, maybe in my late 20’s or early 30’s, after I had done lots of cool things and impacted a lot of people.

in a recent sermon, mark driscoll perfectly identified the folly of my thinking (watch it here). he pointed out how silly it would have been if mary said that she was “just” a mother and hadn’t accomplished much. she birthed and raised God! if that wasn’t enough, she birthed and raised some of the pillars of the early church, including the writers of two books of the bible (james and jude).

however, we live in a culture that says we need to accomplish a lot and change the world, and figure out how to fit having kids into that. the reality is that motherhood IS one of the main ways God has ordained for women to impact that world.

this was one of my main objections to motherhood previously... i wanted to live and i wanted to experience and accomplish a lot before i would tie myself down to such a thing.

“behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward.” Psalm 127:3

“older women …are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children” titus 2:3-4

just like submission is humbling, so will be motherhood. i wont be getting a paycheck and i wont have a work schedule… it will be 24/7. i will be changing many many diapers and cleaning up spit up.

but in many ways i know that God has designed me for motherhood, and i am excited that there is no expectation from Him (or Alex) that i should have any kind of career outside of raising our kids. i’m looking forward to being a mom, which is good because we may have the opportunity to adopt sometime early next year!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

submitting and loving it

often times when i study the bible, i become convinced of some truth in my head, based upon the text. its often only later that i really come to experience and know and appreciate these truths. its often when i experience the truth that i can rejoice in it.

this has been true of my theology of predestination, prayer, gender roles in marriage and grace, among other things.

"wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord." ephesians 5:22

though this is a very controversial verse, i don't remember a time that i ever really disagreed with this verse intellectually. i do, however, remember a time when i resisted it in my heart.

this has changed, in part because of the benefit of jesus-centered, biblical preaching on the subject, as well as the work of the holy spirit in my life. it has also helped me to see that practically, this really is the best way for a marriage to function.

so now, instead of pushing back against alex, and i can joyfully submit, which frees me up to fulfill my role and the lover and nurturer of our family.

these are some of the ways that i benefit from our different roles in marriage:

*i never have to carry the burden of being the ultimate decision maker for us (this especially helps because i am so indecisive!). for example, right now we are on the verge of choosing a church. if it was up to me to decide, i would be a little stressed, but since its ultimately up to alex to decide in my mind, it makes it much easier.

*my natural tendency is to worry about how i/we spend money, but since i have really embraced my role to submit, i dont have to nit-pick about spending money. i can trust that Alex will make honoring decisions before God in this area

*also in the area of money, i am freed up to focus on our household and [starting] our family, and not worry about where the money for this is going to come from.

*i wont have to be the one that stands before jesus and gives an account for how i lead our family.

*i am able to focus my energy into loving and serving alex, and supporting everything that he leads out in, managing our household and being hospitable.

*submission is humbling. i need to be humbled. it helps me to focus less on myself, which is also beneficial for our relationship.

[disclaimer: i am most definitely not perfect in my desire to submit. i merely write this to rejoice in how far God has brought me so far!]