Monday, May 31, 2010

John 1:1-4

An encouraging word from the Gospel of John:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
John 1:1-4 (ESV)

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Evangelism Video 05/29/10

Paul Latour of The Word Street Journal posted this video on his blog last week, and I couldn't wait to show it to you. This is a video of Paul witnessing to a group of young girls leaving a pro-life candle light vigil. Read the rest of the story here.

I was captivated by this video because though there was a lot of giggling going on, there also seemed to be serious contemplation and consideration of what was being said to them. I think it's worth watching, and thanks to Paul for sharing it.





Friday, May 28, 2010

Evangelism Evening 05/28/10

Tonight I headed out to a local festival (a couple towns over) called Wild West Days to hand out gospel tracts. Greg went with me, so I have a few pictures of the evening.


I handed out million dollar bill tracts and optical illusion tracts. They're very easy to give away.





When I handed out the million dollar bill tracts I usually said. "Here's a million dollars for you. Now, don't spend it all at the carnival." When they'd smile, I'd say, "There's a gospel message on back for you to read." Most people flipped it over immediately and started reading it when I said that.


As we were heading back to the vehicle, I passed a couple pushing a stroller, and I said, "I'm giving a million dollars to couples pushing strollers this evening." The man laughed and took the tract. When he looked at it more closely he said, "Hey, this isn't worth anything is it?" I said, "Yes. it is. It has a gospel message on the back that's priceless." He said, "Well I better put my reading glasses on then."

Pray for those who received gospel tracts this evening, that the gospel message will penetrate their hearts.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

A reminder of the cost of sin from my daily e-mail feed at Grace Gems (www.gracegems.org)

--------------------------------------------

Who is this amazing spectacle of woe and torture?

(Samuel Davies, "The Preaching of Christ Crucified, the Means of Salvation")

"Christ died for the ungodly!" Romans 5:6

In the cross of Christ--God's hatred to sin is manifested in the most striking light! The evil of sin is exposed in the most dreadful colors! Now it appears, that such is the divine hatred against all sin, that God can by no means forgive sin, without punishment; and that all the infinite benevolence of His nature towards His creatures cannot prevail upon Him to pardon the least sin--without an adequate satisfaction.

Nay, now it appears that when so malignant and abominable a thing is but imputed to His dear Son, His co-equal, His darling, His favorite--that even He could not escape unpunished--but was made a monument of vindictive justice, to all worlds!

What can more strongly expose the evil of sin--than the cross of Christ? Sin is such an intolerably malignant and abominable thing, that even a God of infinite mercy and grace--cannot let the least instance of it pass unpunished!

It was not a small thing that could arm God's justice against the Son of His love. Though He was perfectly innocent in Himself--yet when He was made sin for us--God spared not His own Son--but delivered Him up unto death--the shameful, tormenting, and accursed death of the cross!

Go, you fools, who make a mock at sin! Go and learn its malignity and demerit--at the cross of Jesus!

WHO is it that hangs there writhing in the agonies of death--His hands and feet pierced with nails, His side with a spear, His face bruised with blows, and drenched with tears and blood, His heart melting like wax, His whole frame racked and disjointed; forsaken by His friends, and even by His Father; tempted by devils, and insulted by men? Who is this amazing spectacle of woe and torture? It is Jesus, the eternal Word of God; His Elect, in whom His soul delights; His beloved Son, in whom He is well pleased!

And WHAT has He done? He did no wickedness; He knew no sin--but was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners. And WHY then, all these dreadful sufferings from heaven, earth, and hell? Why, He only stood in the law-place of sinners; He only received their sin by imputation. And you see what it has brought upon Him! You see how low it has reduced Him! What a horrid evil must that be--which has such tremendous consequences, even upon the Darling of heaven!

Oh! what still more dreadful havoc would SIN have made, if it had been punished upon the sinner himself in his own person! Surely all the various miseries which have been inflicted upon our guilty world in all ages, and even all the punishments of hell--do not so loudly proclaim the terrible desert and malignity of sin--as the cross of Christ!

The infinite malignity of sin, and God's hatred to it, appear nowhere in so striking and dreadful a light--as in the cross of Christ! Let a reasonable creature take but one serious view of that cross, and surely he must ever after tremble at the thought of the least sin!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Resource Wednesday 05/26/10

Today I'd like to share with you a resource shared with me when my friends Betsy and Jane were here a few weeks ago.

Often when evangelising, we encourage people to start reading the Bible by beginning with the Gospel of John in the New Testament. When Betsy came to visit, she brought me several small books of the Gospel of John, These booklets are distributed by The Pocket Testament League (www.pocketpower.org).

This organization provides pocket-sized Gospel of John booklets for a small fee or for no fee. There is an option to purchase the booklets with a donation. There is an option to get on a waiting list and then receive the booklets (free) as they become available. And there is also an option to sponsor some booklets so others can receive them free and distribute them in their area.

These pocket-sized gospels are available with many different covers and in several different versions. I would encourage you to go to the website, read this ministry's philosophy of operation and consider participating in their ministry.

Another good resource to add to the evangelism tool belt. Thanks Betsy and Jane!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Suffering and Comfort

Today I'd like to share with you another excerpt I transcribed from the audio presentation Portrait of a Struggle by Paul Tripp. It's an encouragement and admonishment at the same time, as only Paul Tripp can do. The excerpt ends with several questions that give you an opportunity to examine yourself.

------------------------------------

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort. For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.
2 Corinthians 1:3-11

What you have in this passage is a theology of suffering and then Paul giving us a personal example.

Here’s the model: Suffering, Comfort, Suffering, Comfort. God brings us into suffering so we cry out for His comfort. Now filled with the experience of His comfort, we move to other sufferers helping them to get the same comfort that we have received. What is that comfort? That comfort is that I have something bigger than me, that I’m not in this life by myself, that I am not left to my resources and my wisdom and my strength. God Almighty has invaded my life, and there is hope for me. There is hope for me even though I yelled at my wife the other day. There is hope for me even though I have been impatient with my children. There is hope for me even though I am a student and I cheated on a test. There is hope for me even though under pressure I lied to my boss. There is hope for me because God is in my life, and He is pressing, pushing, hammering, sawing because He loves me. That is deeply comforting to me. But I know I am next to people who do not see Jesus. They look at their life and they do not see God. They look at their marriage and they feel like God has abandoned them. They look at their friendships and they feel like they are around disloyal people who, in their moment of need, are not there. They look at their boss and feel like he is never able to be satisfied. They look at all of that, and the one thing that is present in their life, they do not see. They do not see Jesus. They do not see His grace. They do not see His love. So, God will push me beyond me so I would cry out for God, so my eyes would be open to His presence so I could reach out to other people who are struggling with suffering and help them to see grace that has been given and the love that has been poured out. Here is the agenda. Suffering is God’s choice for you because He wants to change you. He wants holiness to be more valuable to you than your personal definition of happiness. He wants participation in His purpose to be more satisfying to you than getting your own way. Do you have realistic expectations? Do you get the plan? Are you doubting God? Are you doubting His love? Are you doubting His goodness? Are you questioning His faithfulness? Are you questioning even the truths of Scripture because you’re just not on God’s agenda page. Your expectations are unbiblical and unrealistic and they cause you endless heartache because you look at grace and you do not see grace. You look at love and you do not see love, and you feel alone and discouraged. Are your expectations realistic?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Sleepover

I put this post on hold about a week ago and thought since this is an off-week for Cookie Baking Night, now would be an appropriate time to post it.

Two Saturdays ago I had the unexpected pleasure of hosting a sleepover to my nieces, Emily and Kylie (cousins, one daughter from each of my brothers). Emily is 9, Kylie is 10. Emily was already scheduled to spend the night at our house and go to church with us on Sunday. Kylie was staying at her dad's house for the weekend, so she came along with Emily. I don't see Kylie nearly as much as I see Emily, so it was fun to have her in our space. Our guest room has one small bed in it, so we had to come up with a plan B. We made beds on the couches in the basement. The girls seemed to have a fun time with that.

I am so grateful to God that He has allowed me relationships with my nieces and nephews. It is a joy to play a part in their lives.

Some of the stuffed animals balanced precariously on a toy couch between the two girls. Amazingly, it stayed there all night.
Emily said her stuffed possum (toy) needed to sleep upside down because "that's what possums do"
so she found a place for him hanging on the treadmill (it was nice to see it get some use).
Posted by Picasa

Friday, May 21, 2010

Evangelism Video 05/21/10

Tonight I'd like to share with you a video of Mark Cahill speaking at a youth event about sharing the gospel with the people around us. Mark Cahill shares the gospel with other people often, so it's enjoyable to hear of his encounters and learn from them. He will challenge you to get out and do the same. I think it's a video worth watching. (Note: It will end a bit abruptly, but the content up until that part is worth hearing).


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Don't Believe Your Own Press

Today I had my yearly performance review at my place of employment (8 years with this particular company).

After God saved me and regenerated me (about 6 years ago), the process began of changing my self-focused worldview to a biblical worldview. Up until that time, I kept my work life separate from my home life. I later realized that God does not draw lines in the Bible between how you act in the corporate world and how you act in your personal life or at church. There is one standard and it applies to all of life. Humility does not remain in the back seat of your car as you approach the door of your workplace in the morning. Honesty is not to be checked at the door when you punch the time card for your shift that day. Kindness does not take a 30-minute break for lunch as you do.

Keeping the above ideas in mind, that brings me to the process of the yearly performance review. At my company, this is where the raise for the year is decided. Our company decides the percentage of your yearly raise (between 1% and 5%) based on your performance review. The performance review is completed around your anniversary date with the company, and the information for that review is gathered from interaction with your direct supervisor, peer reviews filled out by your coworkers about your performance, and a self-appraisal peformance review that you fill out about your own job performance prior to your yearly review. All of these opinions are taken into account, given a number value, and compiled into a final report that generates a final performance rating number, with which your yearly raise amount is decided.

God has allowed me to work at a company that is still in a position, in our current economy, to give out yearly raises. And I am grateful for that.

When seeking to follow a biblical worldview, there can be some tension within yourself when preparing your self-evaluation for the yearly review.

The world system would say: "Nobody tells the complete truth on these things. Everyone exaggerates a bit. You have to do that to survive in the corporate world."

The Bible says: "Thou shall not bear false witness..." (lie). Exodus 20:16

The world system would say: "If you don't say it about yourself nobody else will."

The Bible says: "....do not set your mind on high things but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion." Romans 12:16 "One's pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor." Proverbs 29:23

The world system would say: "If they hurt you, it's okay to hurt them. If they're nice to you, you should be nice to them."

The Bible says: "Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others as better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of a cross."

I have many of these verses posted at my desk at work to remind me of what the Bible says when I am tempted to believe what the world around me says.

For seven years, I had the same supervisor. This year I have a new boss, and she is not only my direct supervisor, she is the executive director of the company (the boss of the whole place, if you will). Having a new boss is a little like having a new job. It has taken me an entire year to understand the expectations of my new supervisor (what is important to her was not important to my other supervisor and vise versa). But what has not changed is that what was important to my God last year is still important to Him this year. Ultimately, I report to Him.

As I prepare for my self-appraisal performance review each year, I use it as a time to examine myself. I weigh myself against the standards of the Bible and see how I am doing.

This year, I knew that I was struggling in the area of punctuality. I marked myself with a low score for that area. It is something that I have confessed to God and my husband, and we've been praying about it in our family. I know that when I show up late, I am lying with my actions. I agreed to start work at a specific time yet I am not honoring my agreement. I also know that the main reason I am not showing up on time is selfishness. I refuse to deny myself one more thing (an extra 15 minutes of sleep, checking an e-mail, getting something ready for supper, eating something for breakfast, grabbing a book so I have it with me for break time,) before I walk out the door. God has been convicting me of my sin in this area. I'm also aware that my boss doesn't really know what time I show up, so I knew I'd be informing her of this with my self-appraisal form.

Before heading into the review, I prayed that God would allow me to take correction. I've been studying the book of Proverbs lately, and I'm struck by the idea that "God disciplines those He loves."

As I sat in my supervisor's office today, we discussed my yearly performance review. It went well, and I received a generous raise. As usual, if I received any marks that reflected less than a perfect score, it was in the area of "corporate mentality" usually manifesting itself under the headings of Problem-Solving and Productivity. We discussed my comments under the Punctuality category, and I assured my boss I am working to correct it. Yet, under the category of Punctuality on my final performance review I received a perfect score, complete with comments such as: "Katrina's attendance is excellent and she is punctual."

I did find this comment intriguing under the category of Personal Accountability. "Katrina invariably contributes to the general good and avoids consequences that might hurt others. A high degree of ethical, moral, and professional behavior is exhibited in her everyday personal conduct. Her promises are always kept and her commitments are always honored. Her performance upholds the organization's core values by presenting herself in a professional, positive manner."

If I did not fear God, as His Word instructs me to do, none of this could be said of me. No amount of instruction and explanation of the company's core values could have changed my heart (and influenced my behavior).

The Bible says, "........for the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."

I titled this post "Don't Believe Your Own Press", and that's a good thing to remember when filling out and sitting in on yearly reviews, as demonstrated with the comments under my punctuality performance on my review. I would encourage you to use yearly reviews (or other evaluation practices) as a tool to examine yourself and ask yourself, "How can I best glorify God in the workplace and am I doing that?"

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Resource Wednesday 05/19/10

You might have noticed I have my own style when it comes to reviewing books. I like to review them and share excerpts from them as I read them and then give a final summary at the end of it. I have finished reading Bookends of the Christian Life by Jerry Bridges and Bob Bevington, so I thought I'd weigh in with my final summary.

I'll explain the premise of the book by quoting a few paragraphs from the introduction:

" Think of your life right now as a long bookshelf. The books on it represent all the things you do--both spiritual and temporal. There's a spiritual book for each activity of your Christian growth and service, perhaps with titles such as Church Attendance, Bible Study, Daily Quiet Time, Sharing the Gospel, or Serving Others. The temporal books might include Job Performance, Educational Pursuits, Recreation and Leisure, Grocery Shopping, Driving the Car, Doing the Laundry, Moving the Grass, and Paying the Bills, to name a few. Our temporal books are intermingled with spiritual books on our bookshelf, since all our activities are to be informed and directed by the spiritual dimension, just as Paul indicated: 'Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God" (1 Corinthians 10:31).

When we become united to Christ by faith, God places a set of bookends on the bookshelf of our lives. One bookend is the righteousness of Christ; the other is the power of the Holy Spirit. Though they're provided by God, it's our responsibility to lean our books on them, relying on them to support, stabilize, and secure our books--everything we do.

Why are these two gracious provisions from God the bookends of the Christian life? And how do we lean our books on them? This book will answer those questions and these:

  • How can I overcome persistent guilt?

  • How can I deal with the pressure to measure up?

  • Where can I find the motivation to grow?

  • How can I live the Christian life with my heart and not just my head?

  • How can I be sure God loves and accepts me?

  • Where do I draw the line between God's grace and my works?

  • Where can I find the strength to change in an authentic and lasting way?

Hopefully this glimpse into the introduction of the book and the excerpts I've given along my reading journey will cause you to want to read the book. It is well worth the read. It is a small book and a quick read. I think it would be beneficial for a seasoned Christian and for a new believer. It would lend growth to people of both those categories.

I also think this book would be a great discipleship tool. When the opportunity presents itself again for me to disciple a new believer, Bookends of the Christian Life will be required reading in that process. It does a great job explaining the gospel and explaining the sanctification process.



Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Count It All Joy

Last week I was reading in the book of James in the Bible. During that week, I was also listening to an audio presentation from Paul Tripp called Portrait of a Struggle. I transcribed some of the presentation as I was listening to it. This particular section on trials and suffering stood out to me, so I'd like to share it with you today.


Paul Tripp - Portrait of a Struggle - audio presentation

James 1: 1-12
Count it all joy my brothers when you meet trials of various kinds for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness, and let steadfastness have its full effect that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

"Now, hear this, your Redeemer will not relent until you are perfect and complete lacking nothing. He will stay on task. He will stay committed to the job. He will be active and near until His work in you is finished. Now, what’s the vehicle? Trials. Suffering. They are not objects of His unfaithfulness and inattention. They are objects of His active grace and the pouring out of His redemptive love."

Monday, May 17, 2010

Cookie Baking Night 05/17/10

Tonight was Cookie Baking Night. In attendance this evening: Ethan and Carissa. Usually, I make supper for us, and we eat it together when everyone arrives. Last time we were together, I told the kids that tonight they would make supper for us, and they did.

They made tacos.

Ethan browned the hamburger and added the taco seasoning.






Carissa grated the cheese.






Ethan cut the tomato (first time with a sharp knife, so we spent some time learning how to use that).



Carissa chopped the lettuce. (table knife for her)



And then we set the table and enjoyed the fruits of their labor.





We made chocolate chip cookie brownies for dessert.




At the end of our evening, we read from our book, Leading Little Ones to God by Marian Schoolland. We're on lesson 29. Our lesson was titled God Takes Care of Us. Ethan read the story from the Bible for us as well. He read about Joseph in Genesis 45: 1-8.
With all the work we did this evening, our time went quickly. We spent a couple minutes outside enjoying the beautiful sunny evening and then it was time to go home. As usual, a good time was had by all.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Evangelism Evening Part 2


My new friends, Betsy and Jane, picked me up on Saturday morning and we set out to share the gospel with people we met.

We started out at the local mall. We had a couple very good conversations about the gospel. We had a conversation with a man named Paul who had a variety of thoughts about what happens to a person when they die. We were able to share the gospel with him and leave him with some material to read and consider. We also spoke with a Christian woman named Dorine. She was 84 years old and shared her testimony of faith in Christ with us. She wanted to hear our testimonies as well. We were able to leave her with some books and materials to help her share the gospel with the people living in her apartment complex (as she said she likes to do).

At the mall, I had my first brush with a security guard. He saw me handing out tracts and told me I'm not allowed to hand out anything to anyone in the mall. I asked him a little bit about the mall policy and said I would call on Monday to talk to management about it so I'm clear on the rules and can comply with them. Since we really like to leave follow-up material with the people we share the gospel with (at least a tract) and we were now asked not to do that, we decided to move on to a new location.

We went to a laundry mat. There we were able to share the gospel with Lynn and Scott. They listened attentively and were grateful to receive material at the end of the conversation. As we were leaving, we had a conversation outside the laundry mat with a woman named Jennifer. She professed faith in Christ but seemed to need some encouragement in her current circumstances. Betsy shared some information with her about biblical counseling and offered to send her a few books. As we left Jennifer, she had tears in her eyes. She said, "I don't think that it's an accident that you talked to me today." We agreed. We told her that we prayed before we started out for the day and asked God to send us to the right people.

Please pray for all we spoke with today and for the seeds that were planted. We pray they will repent of their sins and put their trust in Christ alone for their salvation.

On a personal note:
At the end of our afternoon together, we stopped and had lunch at a very girly place and enjoyed soup, salads, dessert, and fellowship with believers. It was a grand time. I was greatly encouraged by my time spent with Betsy and Jane. On Friday night, I shared the gospel with kids at the skate park. On Saturday, mostly I observed Jane and Betsy as they shared the gospel. I learned how to share with gentleness and compassion and boldness. I am grateful to God for these new friends and for their passion to share the gospel with a lost and dying world.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Evangelism Evening 05/14/10


When I went to the biblical counseling conference in Lafayette, IN, back in February, I met a woman named Betsy. We were seated next to each other at a dinner we attended on the first night. Besty and I started talking about evangelism, and we found we shared a common interest in that area. Betsy lives in Wisconsin. About a month ago, Betsy contacted me and said she and her friend, Jane, were planning a trip to Minnesota as they have always wanted to share the gospel at the Mall of America. Betsy and Jane went to the Mall of America in the morning and came to our house for dinner in the evening. After dinner we went to a couple skate parks to share the gospel. We had some good conversations with several young people and handed out gospel tracts. (The picture above shows, left to right: Jane, Betsy, myself).


I was greatly encouraged by the fellowship with Betsy and Jane. It was fun to talk about evangelism with them and to pray with them. I will be going out with them again tomorrow before they head back to Wisconsin. I'll share about those adventures in tomorrow's post.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

To Be a Christian

Today I'll share with you a thought I received in my Grace Gems daily e-mail feed (http://www.gracegems.org/). It's worth pondering.


Are we in reality--what we are in name?

(Samuel Davies, "The Sacred Import of the Christian Name")

"The disciples were first called Christians at Antioch." Acts 11:26

We call ourselves Christians--but do we really understand the MEANING and sacred import of that name? Do we really know what it is to BE Christians indeed? Are we in reality--what we are in name? Certainly it is time for us to consider the matter!

What is it to be a Christian?

To be a Christian, in the popular and fashionable sense, is no really difficult or excellent thing. It is to be baptized, to profess the Christian religion; to believe, like our neighbors, that Christ is the Messiah, and to attend upon public worship once a week, in some church or another. In this sense, a man may be a 'Christian'--and yet be habitually careless about eternal things. He may be a 'Christian'--and yet fall short of the morality of many of the heathen. He may be a 'Christian'--and yet a drunkard, a swearer, or a slave to some vice or other. He may be a 'Christian'--and yet a willful, impenitent offender against God and man.

But is this to be a 'real Christian'--in the original and proper sense of the word? No! that is something of a very different and superior kind.

To be a Christian indeed--is to be like to Christ, from whom the name is taken!

To be a Christian indeed--is to be a follower and imitator of Christ!

To be a Christian indeed--is to have Christ's spirit and temper; and to live as He lived in the world!

In short, to be a Christian, is to have our sentiments, our character and our practice, formed upon the sacred model of the gospel.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Resource Wednesday 05/12/10

This Resource Wednesday I'd like to tell you about a ministry called Stand To Reason(http://www.str.org/). It is an apologetics ministry. I would encourage you to check out their website. There are a lot of resources on there for learning how to defend the Christian faith reasonably and biblically. The ministry is lead by Greg Koukl. Mr. Koukl does a weekly radio program (three hours) where he takes questions from listeners and helps them work through arguments for the Christian faith from a biblical worldview. I podcast the program and thoroughly enjoy listening to it.

Again, I encourage you to check out the website and check out the apologetic resources they have available.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Happy Birthday, Blog!

And many more...

I started the Katrina's Musings blog one year ago today, and I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I have learned a lot through blogging, and I'll use this post to share what I've learned thus far:
  • I like to write. I didn't know that about myself until I started blogging. Writing allows me a platform to gather ideas, form thoughts and share them with others.

  • Blogging takes time. This is not a reason to avoid starting a blog, but it is something to be aware of before starting one. You cannot do it well without spending time on it. I consider this blog a ministry from the Lord, and I treat it as such. Just like any other ministry, blogging takes preparation and commitment.


  • Blogging keeps you accountable. I think this aspect of blogging has surprised me the most. Writing a blog has its own accountability attached to it. There is accountability for what you say, so it causes you to research your ideas. There is accountability for how often you post an entry, so it causes you to manage your time accordingly. Since I often write about my evangelism efforts, it keeps my accountable to that ministry as well.

  • Blogging exposes your thoughts. I am typically a quiet and private person. Blogging has challenged me in that area. Once your thoughts are released to a public forum, questions will ensue. In a sense, your thoughts become public domain.


  • Blogging requires discretion. Not everything should be said on a blog. I often use my blog as a tool to share the gospel. When I go out in the community and share the gospel verbally with others, I give people information that contains an e-mail address for me and the address for my blog. When I am writing on the blog, I am aware that anyone could be reading it, and that knowledge should be handled with respect.


  • Blogging allows you to connect with others. Blogging has a certain anonymity to it for the reader. For the writer, it allows you to connect with others in your immediate circle, and it allows you to connect with others around the world (literally) with whom you have never met yet you share commonalities.

Those are my thoughts. As mentioned above, I have thoroughly enjoyed the blogging experience. I look foward to another year of blogging.






Monday, May 10, 2010

Self-Reliance

Last week I shared a little from the latest book I've been reading, Bookends of the Christian Life by Jerry Bridges and Bob Bevington. Please refer to the posts from April 26 (Self Righteousness) and April 27 (Persistent Guilt) for more information. Self righteousness and persistent guilt were named as gospel enemies #1 and #2, respectively. There is a third gospel enemy mentioned in the book: Self-Reliance. Today I'd like to share with you what is said about self-reliance from pages 124 & 125 of the book:

Self-reliance toward God is dependence on our own power, not the power of the Holy Spirit.....Self-reliance is the opposite of dependence on the Holy Spirit's power for sanctification. Just as by nature we assume we earn our salvation by good works, so by nature we assume we grow spiritually by our own effort and willpower.

What's wrong with this kind of self-reliance?
Everything.

First of all, it doesn't work. The Christian life is a spiritual life lived in a spiritual world. Our human strength, be it physical power or willpower, is inadequate. We need divine strength that comes from a divine source--the Spirit of God. When we attempt to live the Christian life in our own strength, we head in the direction of legalism, pride, frustration, or ungodly living. It can even lead to a shipwrecked faith. When we nullify the grace of God provided by the power of the Holy Spirit, it's just a matter of time before we nullify the righteousness of Christ as well. That's why self-reliance is a gospel enemy.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Evanagelism Video 05/08/10

Today I'd like to share a video with you from the Living Waters University series. This video is a chalk talk of sorts. As Ray Comfort witnesses to these defense attorneys (Tony and Paul), he explains his thoughts and his strategy for this witness encounter. It's an interesting encounter. You can see the faces of these men change as they contemplate what Mr. Comfort is saying to them. It's worth watching.

The Last Frightening Friday

May 7, 2010, was my last Frightening Friday post.

When I first started posting about the evening I set aside to go out and intentionally seek to share the gospel with strangers, it was appropriate to call it "Frightening Friday". I was very nervous to approach strangers, and it often terrified me.

I'm still nervous as I approach strangers to talk to them about the gospel, and I still have to deny my flesh the opportunity to turn and run every time I go out. But, I no longer want to focus on that fear. It is a great privilege to go out in the community and tell others about the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ. I'm going to start treating it as such.

The name of those posts will now be "Evangelism Evening". I will continue to set aside one night a week dedicated to sharing the gospel with strangers (usually Friday night, but not always), and I will use my Friday posts to share of those experiences.

As summer approaches I'll be keeping my eyes open for outdoor events where lots of people gather (festivals, parades, etc.), and that's where I'll be focusing my evangelism efforts. I'll write about those experiences on my weekly "Evangelism Evening" posts.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Frightening Friday 05/07/10

This Frightening Friday was very rainy (all day and into the evening). I had an errand to run this evening, so I went to the mall. While I was there I passed out gospel tracts. When I'm in the mall, I try to give a gospel tract to everyone sitting on a bench. Those sitting on benches are usually killing time, so I give them something to read while they're sitting there.

As I was leaving the mall I had a rainy day thought. In the parking lot of this mall, there is a large, covered city bus shelter. I parked near the bus stop (also a park and ride) and walked over to the bus shelter. I started at one end of the shelter and made my way to the other. As I made my way through I passed out million dollar bill tracts. Most people took them and thanked me. I said, "It has the million dollar question on back." That phrase usually causes people to flip it over so they can read the gospel message.

If you aren't passing out gospel tracts, I encourage you to do so. It is a good way to get your feet wet in the evangelism process. The gospel tracts are also a great way to start conversations about the gospel (i.e., "Here's a million dollars for you. It has the million dollar question on back, "What happens to a person when they die? What do you think happens to a person when they die?").

If you're reading this post, I challenge you to give out at least one gospel tract this week.

For gospel tract information: Check your church to see if they have gospel tracts available that they recommend (possibly with the church information on back for follow up if the occasion arises). I like the tracts sold by Living Waters ministry (http://www.livingwaters.com/). Their tracts are creative, visually appealing, and content rich. I also use a tract that I wrote myself. It contains my own testimony and a gospel presentation. I use it a lot because I know what it says and it's thorough. Answers in Genesis ministry (http://www.answersingenesis.org/) also has some thoughtful tracts and materials available.

So get equipped and please join me in sharing the gospel in your community this week.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Ambassadors' Academy Remembered


A year ago today I flew out to Los Angelos, CA, to take part in the Ambassadors' Academy. It was Wednesday evening thru Sunday morning, one full day of classroom training with the Living Waters staff and two days out on the streets of California putting our training to the test by handing out gospel tracts, street preaching, and one-on-one conversations sharing the gospel with people we met.


I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was without a doubt the catalyst for making it a point to get out at least once a week and intentionally share the gospel with strangers I meet. The training was extremely valuable.




What stood out to me the most was that the staff of Living Waters ministry didn't just train people from all over the country to go out and spread the gospel, they lived it. They all started in the same place (afraid) as the rest of us were starting. And each staff member (as near as I could tell) had their own ministry in their own community where they shared the gospel on a regular basis.





I also enjoyed meeting people from all around the country (and Canada at the one I attended). It was a joy to be with people all united by a heart to share the gospel. Some of the people I met that weekend I'm in contact with yet today.



If you have been thinking about pursuing training of this nature, I would encourage you to consider attending the Ambassadors' Academy. They run training sessions once a month for about six months out of the year (March thru August generally). They are full for 2010 but will start taking applications again most likely in the fall for the 2011 sessions. They have dropped the price considerably since I attended. They did this to allow more people to attend during these tough economic times. I would recommend checking into it (http://www.ambassadorsalliance.com/).
Note: The people attending these training sessions range from those who have never handed out a tract to those who regularly witness to strangers and regularly street preach. Once at the Ambassador's Academy, they simply ask that you take a couple steps out of your comfort zone and learn while you're there.
All of my pictures while at Ambassadors' Academy are of other people. I'm pretty quiet by nature and can be timid at times. Getting on the plane alone, flying to California, meeting a lot of new people, handing out tracts, engaging in one-on-one conversations about the gospel, and standing on a box on Hollywood Blvd and street preaching was pretty much the limit for this introvert. Asking someone to take my picture while I was there would have put me over the edge (seriously).

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Resource Wednesday 05/05/10

This resource Wednesday I would like to share with you a new blog that my friends, Megan and Katelyn (mother and daughter), have recently started. It is called Teaching What is Good (http://www.teachingwhatisgood.wordpress.com/). It is a blog dedicated to older women teaching younger women (and vise versa). Several ladies from my church (including myself) have been asked to contribute to the blog from time to time. I look forward to reading and contributing. I think it's a great idea.

Here's the description from the home page of the Teaching What is Good blog.

Our Purpose

This blog was the brain-child of Megan and Katelyn Bumgardner. As the wife and mother of bloggers, I was strongly encouraged (by my daughter) to join the family blogging community. I could only justify this if we could spiritually profit from it, as my time is very limited. Since I do have a specific assignment to teach my daughter, this will be part of the process. We hope to have contributions from all ages. May we attain to be Titus 2 ladies. "Older women . . . They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women . . . . that the word of God may not be reviled."


I encourage you to check it out. The blog has several posts on it already, and the content is edifying. A great idea!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Modern Church

This morning I was listening to "Wretched" radio program on my MP3 player. They played a clip from Matt Chandler preaching to his congregation at The Village church in Texas about the modern evangelical church in America. I transcribed the soundbite for this blog post. It is as follows:

"Here's what you're going to get at church 99% of the time, all over the place. You're going to get pragmatism. You're going to get "4 ways for better biblical sex", "9 ways to your best life now", "15 ways to be a better man", "7 ways to....." And do you know what you're not going to get? [You're not going to get] the nature and character of God. Here's what ends up happening. Because the world is broken and God has not restored it to its fullness yet, somebody is going to get sick, somebody is going to dies in a car wreck, somebody is not going to get in the school they wanted to get into, somebody is not going to get the job that they wanted to get, somebody's wife is going to leave them, somebody's husband is going to leave them, some 3 year old is going to get cancer, some of you are going to get sick. And at that moment, when that happens because you do not know the nature and character and beauty of the transcendent God of the universe (you simply know here are the behavioral modifications that I am supposed to do), you find yourself standing in half melted marshmallow, unable to move, feeling betrayed and you bolt. That's what happens over and over and over and over again., while the church continues to figure out how to get you back by getting creative, using smoke and lasers and helicopters and explosions....etc. Through it all, what you are not getting is the one thing you know, which is the picture of the transcendent, all-knowing, all-powerful God of the universe. So, most of us have a faith that is built on "I'll behave so God gives me what I want. And when He stops giving me what I want, I'm going to be furious and feel betrayed by Him because I did this, I did this, I did this, and He did not give me what I want." And that is in my experience [Matt Chandler] a bulk of what evangelicals believe."

There might be a bit of overstatement in the first sentence or two of this quote, but there is certainly a fair amount of truth as well. I have held this viewpoint myself in the past and I know people who live this worldview every day. I also know that without daily searching the Scriptures for myself and without attending a church that holds a high view of God and His Word these thoughts can sneak back in. It is prevalent in our culture today.

These words resonated with me today so I wanted to share them with you in this post.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Cookie Baking Night 05/03/10

Tonight was Cookie Baking Night. In attendance: Carissa, Ethan, and Emily.
For supper: Macaroni and cheese (a classic), little smokies, and apples.
For our cookie: We made magic cookie bars (aka 7-layer bars). It was our first experience making a graham cracker crust (a great project for the kids, by the way). We put graham crackers in a large plastic bag and took turns crushing them with a rolling pin. The kids did a great job, and they enjoyed it.
We read lesson #28 entitled "God Takes Care of Us" from our Leading Little Ones to God book (by Marian Schoolland). Emily read Psalm 23 from the Bible to accompany our lesson.
We witnessed a hard rain (complete with hail) while we were preparing our cookies. After the rain, we went for a walk.
A great time was had by all.


The girls have been in the habit lately of wearing aprons while they bake (so cute!)

Ethan thought he'd have much more "crushing success" if he pounded the rolling pin on the bag like a hammer, but upon my advice he contented himself with rolling it out like the rest of us
(sometimes its hard being the only boy at Cookie Baking Night--no pounding allowed and there's a lot of apron wearing going on).

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Cookie Baking Night 07/31/17

Tonight was Cookie Baking Night. In attendance this evening: Ethan, Carissa, Allison, Rylar, and Enzo (and Larry, Clara, and Greg). Tonight ...