Thursday, August 28, 2008

The God Empowered Wife

Yesterday was the first class of a six week series based on the book, The God Empowered Wife. The author Karen Haught, is a member of my church & she is even teaching the class. I must say that after 1 class, I'm super excited about reading the book & learning some biblical principles to put into practice.
The author has a great personal testimony about how God used many decades of her life & several divorces to finally give her insight into what His plan is for marriage. She felt so strongly about women learning these biblical truths that she wrote a book and travels around the world teaching workshops & small groups. You can learn more at her website & see if there is a class near you.
Most Christian women know that the Bible teaches that the man is the head of the household & that wives should submit to their husbands. Why I agree with that is a whole separate post, but the purpose of this bible study is to understand why most wives get it backwards in a marriage. Most women are the list-makers, task-masters, busy-bodies & multi-taskers. In my marriage, for sure that is me.
I'll spend the next few weeks reading the book & blogging my thoughts about it. Coincidentally, I've been reading some other secular books lately about the changing role of women in the workplace and marriage, how women struggle to be the perfect wife & perfect mom. I'm glad God put a small reminder back into my life of how He designed marriage. I find it fascinating that historically, cultures have taken decades and decades to slowly evolve. However, since the 1950's, there have been so many drastic changes about the role of women in motherhood, the workplace & as a wife. No wonder so many women are really struggling to be everything to their boss, their kids and their husbands.
I'm looking forward to learning how to be a better wife!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Back on Track

Well, this blog has officially been abandoned for 7 months, but I think it's time to start blogging about my faith again. You may be a regular blog reader on my other blog and wonder why I am keeping a separate blog about my faith. Part of the reason is for me to document my spiritual journey & also as an outlet to share my faith. I personally believe that faith is very personal, but never private. God didn't intend for me to keep it under a bush (those pre-school songs come in handy!), but it's also incredibly intimate and close to my heart.
You can re-visit some of my early blog goals, that never quite materialized in the puny 5 posts I managed before becoming too busy with a trip to South America and studying for my engineering license exam.
With the start of the school year, I am motivated to re-commit to being deliberate about my faith and devoted to spending the necessary time grow spiritually. I've again volunteered to teach a pre-school class on Sunday mornings. I have a group of 4 year olds for an hour each Sunday, and I look forward to sharing the lessons I learn with them. I had taught Sunday school for 2 years, and had taken a 2 year break. I feel it's a really important way to minister to the families in our church. The parents couldn't attend worship or their small group without hundreds of volunteers teaching their kids.
I've also signed up for a short 6-week class on Wednesday nights. It starts this week, and we are studying how to be a God empowered wife. Last fall, I made it about half-way through a series on spiritual warfare that was both very interesting and very dull at the same time. I'm hoping this short series will hold my attention, and I might sign up for a series the second half depending on my work schedule.
Finally, H & I are going to start attending our small group classes again on Sunday morning. We've found various reasons not to go for the past 6 months. Usually it was chores that needed to be done or errands to be ran or the fact that we'd miss the next week's class anyway. I really want to connect to other young couples in our church & be part of a church family. I was part of an awesome singles group, so I really miss that dynamic of church.
I'll be back soon this time- I promise!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

House of Prayer

This week's message on Rebuilding the Altar was about corporate repentance. How we as a church need to take responsibility for our sins as a congregation, confess them, repent and rebuild. I'll try to share a few short snippets of the message that really stuck with me. We so often focus on prayer as an individual activity, that we forget all the occasions that the Bible mentions the church coming together for larger prayer gathering.

The instructions and direction that God gave us in the Bible tell us exactly how he wants His Church to look. It's not a house of worship or a house of bible studies or a house of small groups. Jesus specifically stated that his Church was to be a house of worship.

Jesus said, "...My house shall be called the house of prayer" Matthew 21:13 and he was quoting old Testament scripture Isiah 56:7.

Our church is holding a prayer gathering this Friday night and Saturday morning as a time to come together as a church and learn about prayer and pray. We are planning on attending Friday night's gathering, with the focus on learning how to pray for ourselves and how to pray for our marriage.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Rebuilding the Altar: Starting Clean

Our first message this past week (over a week ago) on Rebuilding the Altar was about a fresh start. We know that when Jesus Christ died on the cross, all of our sins were wiped away for eternity. However, in addition to confessing Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we must also repent for our sins. We can't acknowledge Christ with our lips and then go on sinning with our bodies. In order for us to rebuild the altar of worship between us and God, we need to repent of our sins and come blameless to the altar.

I realize I'm often sorry that I did something wrong or that I sinned. I might even feel some guilt about something, but rarely am I "broken" over my sin. I can't remember the last time my sin caused me grief and anguish. It really should. All the time. Any sin, no matter how large or small by human standards, is always a sin against God which demands the punishment of death.

Why is it that I've become so insensitive to sin? I tried to think of the last time I could say "oh I sinned there". It took me a while, although I'm sure I'd sinned countless time before even arriving at church that morning. At what point did I become unconscious to my sin? I certainly don't go around killing people or worshiping idols, but I could certainly think of a few times recently when I've been very angry or put other desires before my love for God.

Our pastor asked us if we could easily point out the sin in others, but had a hard time identifying our own failures. He asked us to ponder how often we reacted to others sin with judgement instead of the mercy. These points were especially convicting for me.

Before the sermon, mid-way through the singing portion of worship, a man arrived late and sat with the people behind me. He wreaked of cigarette smoke and I immediately cringed inside. Being in church, I instantly felt guilty about my judgement and shallow concerns. What if a drug addict or a homeless man or a poor mother or anybody else I deemed outside of my 'ideal church-goer' model showed up? During the sermon, I was fairly convicted about my instant judgement on this man. I should be happy another person was coming to worship and to hear the message.

Monday, January 21, 2008

The Altar and the Door

We started a new series at church this week called Rebuilding the Altar. I thought it would be appropriate for me to study up on the actual meaning of an altar. In general wiki tells us that an altar is a place where sacrifices are made or offerings are given. I was actually raised in a church with a physical altar rail, where the congregation kneeled down to take communion. My current Church has more of an elevated area and not a specific altar.

The first altar mentioned in scripture is the one Noah built after the flood. Modern altars can come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They can be for a church congregation or they can be individual. I believe the purpose of an altar is to serve as a physical place to worship, a place to gather God's people, a place to bring sacrifice and offerings and place to meet God through prayer. In the modern context, the entire church building can be seen as an altar since we no longer must collect sticks and rocks to signify an altar to God.

Our church will be focusing on rebuilding our altar to God, so that we as a church body will be strengthened as a body of believers. It is our purpose and desire for people to return, repentant to God with a humble heart and ready to serve and sacrifice those inside and those outside our walls. Our next few weeks will involve intensive prayer and messages full of soul-searching scripture.

The Casting Crowns even have an entire CD & Concert dedicated to keeping us focused on what we learn at the altar as we walk out the door of the church. Check out their Altar & the Door Tour.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Encouraging Runners

Several years back, I decided to have running shirts made for my step-mom and I to wear on marathon day. On the front, I put "Go _____" and our name. This is such a fun idea because there are so many fans and volunteers who shout your name and words of encouragement. Since then, even the marathon officials have started including your name on your bib, so the fans can shout words of encouragement to each runner.

It works great & every time somebody cheers for me, it boosts me just a few more steps along the 26.2 miles. Sometime I manage a wave back to the kind fan, sometimes it's only a smile that I can eek out. Just as all the fans encouraged me, I wanted to encourage all the other runners with some scripture. I also figured writing it on my back was a great reminder to me that I had God's words behind me and I hoped the power of those words would propel me to the end.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

This is one of the very first verses that I memorized, and it's a great remind to myself and other runners that strength to finish any thing, no matter how great or small, comes from God's blessings and his grace. I had dozens of runners, mostly those who passed me, telling me they liked my shirt or that was a great verse.

The joy of the Lord is my strength. Nehemiah 8:10

My step-mom has this other fabulous verse on her back, which reminds both us and other runners that doing things pleasing to God is the source of our strength and energy to do those things. Not that God specifically endorses running marathons, but anytime that you do something that forces you to rely on Him, then God is glorified through your dedication and obedience.

The New Testament does however compare the Christian life ahead of each of us to a long race, that requires training and endurance and commitment. As I ran for 5 hours around Houston last Sunday, I hope I was able to witness to other runners in some small way and offer a reminder of the encouragement that we have in the God's strength and his eternal promises.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
Hebrews 12:1

Friday, January 11, 2008

Welcome to My Reflections

WELCOME & thanks for joining me on my Reflections of the Good News!

I started this blog as a place to share the lessons that God is teaching me through my church, my small group, the Bible and life. I am hoping that having a dedicated place for me to post my thoughts and meditations will push me to dig a little deeper in my spiritual life and meditate a little bit longer about the messages God is sharing with me.

I hope that some of you from my regular blog will stick around and feel free to join me with your own reflections. If you just happen to stumble upon this blog some other way, I hope you find something of spiritual value. I honestly don't think I will be able to commit to devoting a lot of time to this blog right now. Hopefully after my big test in April, I will be able to set up a regular schedule and be more consistent with my reflections.

I will set out some early goals for this blog by mentioning what I envision. Mostly this blog will be for myself- to help me grow and study the Bible. I hope to post mini-reviews of the sermon each week, so that I can take notes and truly spend time reflecting on the great message that I hear every week. I'd like to share particularly meaningful songs that I hear on the radio and love to sing at the top of my lungs. Given the tremendous amount of reading I've done in the past few years, and the hope to do more reading in the future, I plan on reviewing and sharing books that I found very inspiring or encouraging to my Christian walk.

I also hope to be able to use this blog as a place to document my progress that I am making in my faith walk- to share where I am struggling, to reflect on when I am disappointed and to celebrate when I overcome great struggles. Much like the history I've blogged about, I'd like to share the history of my spiritual walk. I envision this blog as a place where I can personally reflect, dream, question, celebrate, mourn and be real about the inner-workings of my soul and mind. I really would encourage everybody who is reading this to leave feedback about your own faith walk and what you would like to see me discuss on this blog.

Things to blog about: sermons, music, books, other faith blogs, missions, Jesus, New Testament, Old Testament, End Times, evangelism, finances, devotions, prayer, marriage, service, fellowship, small group, current events, salvation, obedience, prophesy, apologetics, heaven, hell, death, baptism and many more. Feel free to leave a comment with any issues you'd like to see me blog about.

Welcome to the journey and God Bless!