You are currently browsing the monthly archive for November 2006.

Over the past week we ran into technical difficulties with our blogspot. It was accidently incorporated with another blog. The only way I could find to unmerge our account was to delete it and begin again.

Fortunately, I didn’t have many posts on our account. Unfortunately, we’ve lost the comments that were attached to the posts. Please feel free to read back over the posts and comment again.

I’ll continue adding posts a few times a week.

Donald Miller, in Blue Like Jazz, writes, “I was in love once. I think love is a bit of heaven. When I was in love I thought about that girl so much I felt like I was going to die and it was beautiful, and she loved me, too, or at least she said she did, and we were not about ourselves, we were about each other, and that is what I mean when I say being in love is a bit of heaven. When I was in love I hardly thought of myself; I thought of her and how beautiful she looked and whether or not she was cold and how I could make her laugh. It was wonderful because I forgot my problems. I owned her problems instead, and her problems seemed romantic and beautiful. When I was in love there was somebody in the world who was more important than me, and that, given all that happened at the fall of man, is a miracle, like something God forgot to curse.”

How is loving another like loving God? How is it different? When we learn to love God we move further into our faith. We stop thinking of ourselves so much and start thinking about God. What does God want? How can I please him?

How do we continue to fall in love with God?

Last night the Service and Outreach team met at our house. We discussed this past year and made plans for next year. We had several excellent events this year. We hosted the Spiritual Growth Boot Camp, Family Fun Fest, Fun with H2O day, and Trunk or Treat.

We felt like we could do better with follow-up. We need to beginning planning for follow-up as part of the preparation for the event itself. We’ve planned for Family Fun Fest, Fun with H2O day, and Trunk or Treat again in 2007. We’re still deciding on the Spiritual Growth Boot Camp (SGBC).

Should we do something like the SGBC again or should we think of some other events? There were suggestions of a marriage, a parenting, or a financial seminar. Should we bring in an outside speaker? Who would you suggest?

So, what do you think? How should we proceed next year?

Again from Gordon T. Smith, “Nothing is more crucial than that we learn to think Christianly. Everything else in the Christian life depends on our capacity to allow truth to engage our minds from top to bottom, inside and out.”

As Paul says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2).

Or again, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).

How do you learn to discipline your mind so that you are continually renewed? How do you take captive every thought?

My in-laws visited for the weekend. For the last two years we have used an oil furnace to heat our house. It’s used a lot of oil and not always kept the house the warmest. So, this year, we switched to a kerosene heater. It’s supposed to be very efficient and clean. Two of my wife’s uncles use the heaters in California and are quite pleased. We even bought our heater from one of her uncles and had it shipped to NC.

We’ve spent the last several weeks trying to get someone to come install the heater. We had no luck. Finally, her father volunteered to come down from WV and help with the installation. What was supposed to be a Saturday afternoon installation (the book said two hours) turned into a Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday installation. We had to clean and raise our 500 gallon fuel tank. We had to drill through the wall to vent the stove (12 inches of wood, plaster, and brick). We had to rewire for the heater. We had to raise the tank again. We had to trim the copper tubbing running from the tank to the heater. Several trips to the gas station for Kerosene for our test run.

This was an important project for us. In the last several weeks it’s become more urgent (as the weather turns colder). And yet, several important projects got pushed aside. Now there are several projects that have become urgent and are clamoring for attention.

As Christians it is easy to spend our time focused on the urgent. Though we may be doing good things, we may not be doing the important things. We think, “I don’t have time for prayer, Bible study, serving others. I already feel burnt out and stressed. I have so much to do and so little time.”

How do you stay focused on the important and not get overwhelmed by the urgent?

God calls for us to grow. While he accepts us as we are, he loves us too much to leave us that way. The Hebrew writer says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses [the people of faith from chapter 11], 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, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (12:1-3, TNIV).

The Hebrew writer urges us to remove sin from our lives and to focus on Jesus. Sin separates us from God and makes our transformation more difficult. We don’t desire the things God desires and we don’t wish to be in his presence. Alternatively, we focus on Jesus. He lived the life all humans were intended to live; a life of fellowship and communion with God.

How do you best avoid sin? How do you focus on Jesus instead?

In On the Way, Gordon T. Smith asks, “What does it mean to be a Christian? What is Christian spirituality? What are the essential elements of a dynamic faith?”

Smith begins to answer his own questions: “Renewal in the Christian life is not usually found in some new technique or method but in getting back to basics.”

So, what are the basics for you? What are the spiritual activities or disciplines to which you regularly return? What do you do when you hit a spiritual dry spot? (You can leave a comment by clicking on the “Comments” button below.)

In recent family meetings we’ve adopted the purpose statement “Christ in us, Christ to others.” It is our hope that this weblog will contribute to our discussion of this purpose. Through this tool we can enter into discussion with one another and share insights and encouragement.

“Christ in us, Christ to others.” In one respect, this is not something we are able to accomplish on our own. It is necessary for God and his Spirit to move upon us to transform us into the image of his son.

But in another respect, we are able to position ourselves so that God is able to more easily work on us. We need to remove those obstacles that hinder our relationship with God.

How do we best “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles” (Heb. 12:1) in order that we can move forward in our life with Christ? What practices, disciplines, habits best help you turn toward God?

(I’ll try to contribute to the blog regularly to keep our discussion going. If anyone else would like to submit a discussion starter, please email me and I’ll include it on the blog. Matt)