only help my unbelief


I really should be in bed
December 21, 2008, 11:24 pm
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Today was a full day.

I woke up this morning and got to church early to greet the kids in my Sunday school class. Almost all of them were there, which is rare, and we had a special craft to do courtesy of Lee – picture frames to decorate, with pictures of our class that we took last week. The kids loved the pictures, and decorating the frames took an incredibly long time, which was actually great. I loved sitting there helping them put the stickers on and talking about the pictures.

After church Christian and I drove back to my house and ate a delicious lunch. Then my mom took us over to her friend’s house, where her friend and her friend’s daughter took some engagement pictures for us. I don’t know how they turned out yet, but we did have a good time making each other laugh and feeling somewhat awkward at trying to look like we weren’t posing.

That only took about an hour, so we came back to my house and relaxed with my parents until it was time to drive back to church.

We were in the 2- and 3-year-old nursery tonight, so it was the same kids I have in Sunday school. They were super sweet tonight, wanting to sit in our laps and read books and take silly pictures. My heart was full of them when we left.

After that we went to a Christmas party where we got to fellowship with friends from church. It was a really relaxing, joyful time, and we felt refreshed when it was over.

We drove back to church to pick up Christian’s car.

I dropped him off and was about to drive off, but I waited because he didn’t have his cell phone with him. God was so gracious.

Christian’s car wouldn’t start. Even though a couple weeks ago it was in the shop for two weeks. And we paid almost $1,000 to get it fixed.

We were able to jump it, but we still don’t know what the problem is.

We have a lead on a car someone is trying to sell before they go on the mission field, so we’re going to call them again tomorrow to see if that’s a possibility, but we know it’s all in God’s hands.

If you think about it, please pray for us. It seems kind of like we’re drowning. There’s the wedding to plan, and we’re still looking for an apartment, and now we need to find a new car as soon as possible. We know God is big enough to handle all this and more, but our faith is being tested, and we know that God hears the prayers of the saints.

Honestly, though, I’m thankful for these trials. Tonight on the way home the song “Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus” came on my iPod, and it was just what I needed to hear. I don’t think there’s ever been a Christmas when I wanted Jesus to come and overshadow me more than I do this year.

O come, thou Dayspring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight
Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel

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Mee-jut-lee
November 24, 2008, 1:26 pm
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That is how Sinclair Ferguson pronounces “immediately,” and that has absolutely nothing to do with this post. I just wanted to see what it looked like when it was spelled out how he says it.

Lots of thoughts running through my mind these days, mostly about church and the kingdom and marriage and birth control and prayer and music. Instead of taking the time that I don’t have to write a full-blown post about each topic, I thought I’d just write a little bit about each one.

***

The church is made up of believers, and the church is the bride of Christ. Thus, believers as a collective whole are the bride of Christ. So the woman sitting next to me at church yesterday is just as much a part of the bride as I am. I may feel like certain people within the church owe me something or need to take better care of me, but the real question is, how well am I taking care of them? I can trust God to take care of me, and He will. And even though I’m quick to act as though I have no friends or close people in whom I can confide, that’s simply not the case. I was reminded of that this past weekend.

***

Not using birth control is becoming more and more natural to my thinking, especially as I see families who may or may not be using it, but who nevertheless have many children over a short period of time. This is not a jugdment on those who use it. It is simply me saying that I would like to have lots of kids, because I can’t think of any greater earthly joy.

***

The more weddings I go to, the more cynical I become about potentially planning my own wedding. At this point, I’ve decided that my bridesmaids won’t have flowers; I will buy my bridesmaids’ dresses for them; they can wear whatever shoes they like; the guys will not rent tuxes; I won’t have flowergirls; we will invite most people via email; we will have one registry at one store with only absolute essentials. I’m sorry if you end up being a guest at my wedding and any of this offends you. However, it is my (our) wedding. And if I continue at this rate, considering how many weddings I will be attending in the next four months, by the time we get engaged, we’ll probably just elope, so no one will be offended at all. Except maybe my parents.

***

Kids are really smart. They can handle truth. And what is more beautiful than to ask four three-year-olds, “Why did God make you and all things?” and to hear them respond in unison, “For His own glory.” And when they say it, it sounds like “fo His own gwowy,” which is even better.

***

Feeling uncomfortable about your current state of sanctification is the best thing that can happen. I was reminded of this yesterday when I thought about how God started teaching me about the doctrines of grace. What really pushed me over the edge was someone speaking a hard word to me that made me feel incredibly uncomfortable. Who have you made uncomfortable today?

***

It seems like the older I get, I get simultaneously more tolerant and less tolerant. More tolerant of Christians who believe the essential doctrines of Scripture. Less tolerant of those who settle for anything less than total truth. Sometimes these two things clash. But most of the time, I find that those who are settling for less than truth really don’t believe the essential doctrines of Scripture, so it’s a moot point.

***

What’s going through your head?



Overheard Sunday night
October 29, 2008, 1:22 pm
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Background: The kids were eating a snack in the nursery while I drew pictures on the whiteboard for them to guess. I had just drawn a snake.

Christian: You know what, guys? Miss Chelsey really doesn’t like snakes.

*looks of shock from the kids, as if three-year-olds LOVE snakes*

Three-year-old: You know what I’m afraid of?

Me: What?

Three-year-old: Cats. Because they do their business in my yard, and they bite.



Offending others or offending God?
June 19, 2008, 1:31 pm
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Note: I hesitated before I wrote this post. In fact, I wrote it yesterday (Wednesday) evening, but didn’t publish it because I wanted to think some more and also run it by someone else. I talked about it with someone I trust, and that person said that it sounded gracious. I hope it does. Even now, after it’s been up for several hours and a lot of people have found their way here through Pastor Lukaszewski’s blog, I’ve gone back in and tweaked some things that I felt could be misconstrued. I apologize if anything that was in the post previously was unedifying or disrespectful.
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I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis. I try to read a wide variety: Some are personal finance, some are news, some are from moms, some are from people I know, and some are from pastors.

One blog I read is by Michael Lukaszewski, pastor of Oak Leaf Church. I had planned to leave my thoughts on this as a comment on his blog, but he turned off all comments a couple weeks ago, so I wasn’t able to.

Yesterday he wrote a post about offending other people. Let me first say that although I generally tend to feel uncomfortable at a lot of stuff I read on his blog, when I think about it, sometimes it’s really just things that are a matter of opinion or of personal liberty in the Lord. So even when I do disagree, it’s still not something that I feel the need to comment on.

I say that because when I read this post, I really felt like I needed to say something, because it got me thinking.

His basic point is that it’s Christians who get offended at things that go on at his church. He’s right in that Christians can be really sensitive about a lot of things – sometimes to an extreme. He goes on to say that the things his church has done that have bothered Christians haven’t bothered unbelievers.

And it seems like his conclusion is that this “silent approval” by unbelievers is what the church wants, because they don’t want unbelievers leaving the church.

If I were to get pregnant and decide to have an abortion, I think that a lot of Christians I know would be offended. But most of the non-Christians I know wouldn’t be. That doesn’t mean it’s OK. (I know this is an extreme example.)

I’m not saying that the stuff that goes on at Oak Leaf Church is on the same level as abortion; it’s not. In fact, I think Pastor Lukaszewski would argue that the things Christians got upset about were methods of reaching unbelievers for Christ; in fact, he calls them “over the top” methods in this post.

Where I think his reasoning really falls apart is when he says:

If a Christian gets offended at something we do, he will get mad and go to another church. If a non-Christian gets offended, he may go to hell.

I don’t disagree. If a non-Christian gets offended by something at a church and decides to leave, that person might go to hell. But what does it mean to “offend” a non-Christian?

Derek Webb said something once about how the cross is both beautiful and offensive. It is beautiful to us as Christians, because on it we see the body of our dying Lord, who died to save us from our sins. But for non-Christians, it is offensive, because it tells them they are sinners who deserve what Jesus got.

If a non-Christian gets offended at the cross, they might leave the church and never know more about Christ’s saving work. But if a non-Christian attends a church where the cross is never preached, they can stay at the church and rack up the attendance count for years and still go to hell.

But the important thing isn’t so much about which group is being offended. The real issue is whether God is offended that a place that calls itself His church isn’t really preaching the gospel.

I’m not saying Pastor Lukaszewski doesn’t preach the gospel at his church. I don’t know; I’ve never been there. His church is doing a study on the book of Joshua right now, which is awesome. But I do know that what saves people is not entertainment, or smoke and mirrors, or catchy sermon titles, or cool videos, or all the things that so many churches are using today. God saves people. And God’s been saving people for thousands of years without all those things. What He asks of us is a commitment to prayer and evangelism – but, more importantly, a commitment to preach the gospel as God sets it forth in Scripture.



An obvious question from a smart kid
May 25, 2008, 8:51 pm
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Three-year-old, having seen the pictures for the Sunday school Bible story: Are we learning about David today?

Sunday school teacher, impressed: Yes, we are!

*Teacher tells the story of David protecting the sheep from the lion and the bear*

After the story, there are a few moments of silence. Then…

Three-year-old, confused: Where’s the giant?



Do I need to live?
April 14, 2008, 1:04 am
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A few weeks ago while running I was listening to the song “All My Tears,” originally by Emmy Lou Harris, but covered by Jars of Clay on their most recent album “Good Monsters.” I was struck by the lyrics:

When I go, don’t cry for me;
In my Father’s arms I’ll be.
The wounds this world left on my soul
Will all be healed, and I’ll be whole.
Sun and moon will be replaced
With the light of Jesus’ face,
And I will not be ashamed,
For my Savior knows my name.

It don’t matter where you bury me;
I’ll be home, and I’ll be free
It don’t matter where I lay:
All my tears will be washed away.

I’ve been thinking about those lyrics a lot, about not being afraid to die. And then this morning, my pastor preached on Colossians 2:8:

See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.

He went through some of the “traditions of men” that keep us from sanctification, and then he started talking about the elementary principles of the world. “Elementary” is the Greek word that connotes the basics, the ABCs, he said, and so in that verse God is referring to the things the world automatically assumes is right and true.

One of the elementary principles he mentioned was only having as many children as you think you can afford. He said that one of the primary reason for having only 2.5 children is economic, and, ultimately, selfish. That’s a topic for another day and another post, but the principle that hit me the most this morning was the following:

I have to live.

The world says living is the most important thing. You should step on people, manipulate and take advantage if it keeps you alive and improves your quality of life. But we don’t have to live our lives in such a way that our desire to live is first and foremost. In fact, we should live as though we are prepared to die at any moment.

I don’t live like that. I fear the opinions of men, even though on their worst days they wouldn’t kill me for the things I do or say that resemble Christ. And so I know that if the threat were death, apart from God I would never be able to act in such a way that might get me killed.

And so my prayer for this week is to not be taken captive by the principle that I have to live. I want to give up the whole world and gain my soul, that I might be more like Christ.

Don’t forget to taste and see that the Lord is good.



Biding the time
March 31, 2008, 1:26 am
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I didn’t know if I’d get around to posting today, but I’m trying to pay my cell phone bill online and the Verizon Web site is officially the slowest site online.

I’m actually excited about paying the bill this month, because I got a new credit card in the mail this week that I haven’t used yet. I don’t really know why I’m so excited about having a credit card. I plan on using it just like my debit card, and I think the only thing I’m going to use it for is to buy gas and to pay my cell phone bill. But for some reason, it’s giving me a thrill to have it. Whatever.

The Lord’s day today was wonderful. I’ve been helping in the toddler Sunday school class for the past six weeks or so, and it has been such a blessing. The kids are mostly 2 or 3 years old, and that is such a fun age. This morning most of my time was spent taking the ones that are potty training to the bathroom, but there are so many sweet moments. Probably my favorite time is when Mr. Campbell comes in and plays a few songs on his guitar. We sing three verses of Jesus Loves Me. Until I started helping in there, I didn’t even know the song had more than one verse.
Here are the ones we sing, but apparently there are an infinite number of verses, as shown by this site:

Jesus loves me! this I know,
For the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong;
they are weak but He is strong.

Jesus loves me! He who died
heaven’s gate to open wide;
He will wash away my sin,
let His little child come in.

Jesus, take this heart of mine,
Make it pure and holy thine;
On the cross you died for me,
I will try to live for Thee.

Hearing the kids sing that is precious, especially since some of them know all the verses from their parents teaching it to them at home. It’s definitely such a good model for me in how I want to raise my own children one day.

Well, the Verizon Web site is still kicking and screaming, but I’m about to go and read a bit. I was convicted tonight at church about the amount of time I don’t spend praying and reading Scripture, so I’m about to turn and go in a different direction with that.

Hopefully coming up this week: the sins of omission, how not to prepare for a 10K, and either the success or failure of a new recipe I’m trying out tomorrow.

Grace and peace!