Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Being the good Southern Baptist that I am, I feel compelled to include a short entry to remind everyone that Sunday begins the Week of Prayer for International Missions and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. Though I don't necessarily agree with everything that takes place in the Convention, I am happy to encourage everyone to support this endeavor as 100% of the offering goes directly to missionaries overseas.

In recent weeks, I've been feeling some level of conviction over the lavish lifestyle that I seem to live - everything in excess. Too many clothes, too much food, too many bills, etc, etc. I have been somewhat surprised by my own propensity toward living such a shallow, selfish, self-centered existence yet I remain a little unsure of how to correct my erroneous ways.

Offering a little advice, I came across Paul's encouragement from 2 Corinthians 8, yesterday:
Last year you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so. Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have. Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality...

I pray that as the Christmas season approaches God will use us so that out of our plenty others will find what they need.
posted by Rick
We leave in just a few weeks to travel to Snowshoe Mountain, West Virginia for several days of skiing. So far, the conditions are great and are getting even better. As of now, 14 trails and 4 lifts are open, with the terrain park and the remainder of the slopes scheduled to be groomed and ready any day. This will be our second year at Snowshoe, and of the few places I've been, no other resort can even compare! You literally ski out of your back door onto some of the best slopes in the eastern United States. There are several individual lodges on the mountain, none of which are further than a few minutes walk from multiple restaurants, ski shops, coffee shops, movie theaters, arcades, indoor heated pools, the list goes on. And the great thing is that the price is really no different than other places that can't boast near the experience Snowshoe does. It's going to be great!
posted by Christie

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Although we're far from liturgical, Rick and I decided to put an Advent wreath in our home this year. We placed green garland and candles on a crystal stand, in nothing more than a feeble attempt to try and fashion a symbol, reminding us that Jesus came into the world. But how could we ever forget? God became literal flesh and blood and walked among us. All the unimaginable fullness of the deity of God the Father rested upon a babe. I'm not sure what that has to do with our wreath, but the first candle has been lit and we draw our attention to the hope that Christ has brought into our lives. Although we no longer await the first Advent, we do await the second one in which Christ will reveal himself to the world. In this season of Advent, we celebrate not just an event that occurred 2000 years ago, but the truth about God reconciling his people to himself and the consummation that we so eagerly anticipate. So, for us, the Advent wreath - a mere symbol - isn't about liturgy, but about Christ in us, our hope of glory.
posted by Christie

Monday, November 28, 2005

We're back after a longer than usual Thanksgiving break. As always, we had a great time relaxing and visiting with both of our families. We partook of food so pleasing to the palate that we came nigh unto hurting ourselves, and possibly others. The cause of this malady were things like Rick's mom's mashed potatoes of which I enjoyed multiple helpings of throughout the day. Also my sister-in-laws macaroni and cheese that could only be rivaled by her Kentucky Derby pie - minus the bourbon - or my sisters cream cheese pumpkin roll. Among the memorable delicacies, I would be remiss if I forgot the homeade, hand rolled crossiants that we almost fought over. Other notable occurrences include the discovery that our two year old niece would rather eat ice than any of the above mentioned food, that our three year old nephew would rather watch Spongebob than eat any of the above mentioned food and that our five year old nephew will eat any and all of the above mentioned food if you're not careful. He and I are definitely kindred spirits.

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving.

Picture is of my sweet five year old nephew, Daniel, with his Aunt Christie.
posted by Christie

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Pelagianism was a belief that arose around the 5th century that taught the goodness of man and freedom of the human will. And if we're all honest, we have to admit that many in our churches today, whether knowingly or not, at least espouse some form of Semi-Pelagianism. So, here's a hymn for them.

Songs For the Pelagian Hymnal

My Hope is Built on Nothing Much

My hope is built on nothing much
But my freewill, a broken crutch
And Jesus promises to save
Conditioned on how I behave

On Christ the Solid Rock I stand
And also works of my own hand
And also works of my own hand

When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace…
And my good choice to follow Him
Freewill cleanses me of all my sin

His oath, His covenant, His blood
Support me in the whelming flood…
But not his promises alone
Atonement alone can’t get me home

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
O may I then in Him be found
Unless I forsake and turn away
Maybe I’ll come back some other day

Thanks to Robin for this.
posted by Christie

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

In a recent article, Penn Jillette, who is part of the comedy act Penn and Teller, writes a very sad commentary explaining how he is beyond atheism. He says that he has transcended past the idea of "not believing in God" and instead simply states that he believes, "there is no God." Somehow, he claims to be comforted by this fact.

"Believing there is no God means the suffering I've seen in my family,and indeed all the suffering in the world, isn't caused by an omniscient,omnipresent, omnipotent force that isn't bothered to help or is just testing us,but rather something we all may be able to help others with in the future. No God means the possibility of less suffering in the future.

Believing there is no God gives me more room for belief in family, people, love, truth, beauty, sex, Jell-o and all the other things I can prove and that make this life the best life I will ever have. "

If I searched the earth over, I'm not sure I could find a more backwards statement than Jillette's. My only hope is that there is an onniscient, omnipresent, omnioptent force that is behind all of the tragedy in the world. If life's events are only random occurrences and God is not working out a plan for eternity, then we are all to be most pitied.
posted by Christie
I have a rather odd sense of humor, and that causes me to laugh hysterically at The Dilbert Blog. Scott Adams pens some of the most strange, but funny comments I've heard in a while. Below is his most recent entry.

A few days ago I invited the readers of my blog to tell me why I’m stupid. The results are in.

If you are new to the Internet, allow me to explain how to debate in this medium. When one person makes any kind of statement, all you need to do is apply one of these methods to make it sound stupid. Then go on the offensive.

1. Turn someone’s generality into an absolute. For example, if someone makes a general statement that Americans celebrate Christmas, point out that some people are Jewish and so anyone who thinks that ALL Americans celebrate Christmas is stupid. (Bonus points for accusing the person of being anti-Semitic.)

2. Turn someone’s factual statements into implied preferences. For example, if someone mentions that not all Catholic priests are pedophiles, accuse the person who said it of siding with pedophiles.

3. Turn factual statements into implied equivalents. For example, if someone says that Ghandi didn’t eat cows, accuse the person of stupidly implying that cows deserve equal billing with Ghandi.

4. Omit key words. For example, if someone says that people can’t eat rocks, accuse the person of being stupid for suggesting that people can’t eat. Bonus points for arguing that some people CAN eat pebbles if they try hard enough.

5. Assume the dumbest interpretation. For example, if someone says that he can run a mile in 12 minutes, assume he means it happens underwater and argue that no one can hold his breath that long.

6. Hallucinate entirely different points. For example, if someone says apples grow on trees, accuse him of saying snakes have arms and then point out how stupid that is.

7. Use the intellectual laziness card. For example, if someone says that ice is cold, recommend that he take graduate courses in chemistry and meteorology before jumping to stupid conclusions that display a complete ignorance of the complexity of ice.

posted by Christie
We are considering attending the 2006 Shepherd's Conference at Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, CA. It's going to be held the first week of March and the keynote speakers will be John MacArthur, Albert Mohler, R.C. Sproul, Mark Devers and others. A guilty sigh of relief overcame me when I realized that the wives conference has been cancelled this year. Thankfully, instead of being part of a wonderful time of "encouragement and fellowship" I will get to sit next to my husband as we listen to the preaching of the Word. The latter sounds like a much better alternative to me. Certainly the entire event will be excellent, hopfully we'll get the chance to experience it.
posted by Christie

Monday, November 21, 2005

The American Family Association and others are leading the charge in a holiday boycott of Target. Their gripe is multifold, but mainly centers around two areas of concern. (1) Target will no longer grant the Salvation Army permission to place their red kettles outside of their stores, and (2) Target refuses to allow "Merry Christmas" to appear on any of their in store promotions or public advertising. The AFA has inferred that Target ended their relationship with the Salvation Army in an effort to appease the homosexual community. And they also suppose that Target will recognize Jewish and Kwanza holidays, while excluding Christmas.

Whatever the case and motives may be, I am a bit puzzled by the actions of the AFA. Certainly I uphold family and biblical values, yet I am confused as to why Christian organizations and individuals expect non-Christian organizations and individuals to act as if they were. And secondly, the label "Merry Christmas" means very little. Target executives could plaster the slogan everywhere if they desired, yet that doesn't necessarily mean that they honor God. If you don't want to shop at Target for those reasons or others, then don't. But why organize a formal boycott in a futile attempt to make non-Christians act and perform as something they aren't and then wait to join in on the revelry as their stocks drop?
posted by Christie

Friday, November 18, 2005

I was first introduced to Derek Webb when I was in high school, through the group Caedmon's Call. Infact, I remember the very day that I purchased their debut CD. And although I was an instant fan of their sound, honestly, many of their lyrics puzzled me more than they did anything else. I understood what the songs were saying, but somehow, had a difficult time truly discerning and comprehending their message.

Strangely, as I sat last night on the front row at Murray Hill Theater and listened to Derek Webb once again, with many years distancing me from my first encounter with him, I realized that those very same songs finally resonated with me. The precise words that were, for the most part, hollow to me at one point in my life, have become some of the most profound and meaningful that I've ever been confronted with. I guess that's what ten years has the potential to do.

Of course, Derek also sang several picks from his first two solo records, as well as a selection from his new album Mockingbird, which releases in December. Whereas his previous two works dealt much with the church and its subculture, his new piece centers more on social justice and the Kingdom of God. And if the few songs I heard are any indication of what the entire record will be like, it's going to be tremendous. Infact, I'll probably sit back years from now and realize that its message is really just beginning to sink in as well.
posted by Christie

Thursday, November 17, 2005

I've heard the song "In Christ Alone" many times, but always assumed that it was a hymn, probably written in the 1800s, since it has that feel. However, I learned today that it was penned in 2001 by Stuart Townend. That it was written in this century surprises me, that it was written by Townend does not. He is the author of "How Deep the Father's Love" and other such meaningful and thought provoking songs. The lyrics of "In Christ Alone" are by far some of the best I've heard in a very long time. Laden with scripture and doctrine, these lyrics boldly proclaim the Gospel and the ultimate sovereignty of God.

In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This Cornerstone, this solid Ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All,
Here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone! - who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save:
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied –
For every sin on Him was laid;
Here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain:
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine –
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life's first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand!
posted by Christie

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

I recently read on the Founders website that Al Mohler and Paige Patterson are planning a debate at the 2006 Pastors Conference of the Southern Baptist Convention in Greenville, NC. Known to be good friends, the two are supposed to intelligently and honestly discuss the issues of Calvinism and Arminianism and not attack and wrongly characterize them as some have. Personally, I think it's great that doctrinal matters are going to be focused on and openly debated at a Southern Baptist function. I look for this event to be a great display of scholarly, helplful theological dialogue. Hopefully, we'll be in attendance.
posted by Christie
Last night we had the privilege of hearing the Male Chorale from The Baptist College of Florida sing at our church. The guys were returning from a previous engagement in Madison, GA and were able to stop in Hazlehurst on their way to Phenix City, AL. As usually is the case, the concert was excellent. One thing that has always amazed me about this particular group is their ability to take the voices of twenty plus collective guys, and make them sound as one. Their talent, combined with their humble and genuine spirits created a meaningful musical and worship experience. We also had the opportunity to open our home to one of the guys and were able to spend some time sharing together about life, ministry and college. It was great seeing the Chorale perform, and finding that anyone from Graceville seems to automatically become an old friend.
posted by Christie

Friday, November 11, 2005

Often as American Christians we are blinded to the plight of believers in other nations who come face to face with peril and the sword every day. As we sit comfortably in church pews, hundred of thousands worldwide worship secretly for fear of death and torture upon exposure. Although Christians have faced opposition to their faith since the days of the early church, many experts consider the previous one hundred years to be the bloodiest century that Christians have ever endured. Yet, even under the most brutal of circumstances throughout history, the persecuted church has grown. By being faithful unto death, the blood of the martyrs has most definitely become the seed of the church.

Remember those fellow believers each day, but as we celebrate The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church on Sunday November 13, pray especially for the strength and endurance of persecuted believers worldwide and for the salvation of their persecutors.

Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. Hebrews 13:3
posted by Christie

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Right now, my Sunday school class uses material by Lifeway, called Masterwork. Basically, you study two works of different famous Christian authors each quarter. The literature is an abbreviated version of a given writers book, with commentary, scripture and questions added in by an editor. Although I'm not always impressed with the material, thankfully, I sit under an excellent teacher who can take even the most biblically and theologically shallow lessons and eek out deep, life-changing truths. We've studied books by Billy Graham, John MacArthur, Beth Moore and the like. Certainly each of those are great writers, yet often the material or maybe its arrangement, definitely leaves me wanting.

So, learning that our new study is on John Piper's book, Let the Nations be Glad, most certainly has me excited. So much contemporary, Christian writing has neglected the centrality of God in salvation, scripture, life, etc. We, our problems, the solutions, a new program, method or prayer has taken center stage over that which is of first importance. Yet, John Piper does an excellent job of displaying the supremacy of God in missions. He says that missions is not the goal, but God is. Piper goes even further to say that God's goal is not missions, God's goal is himself. Now, when is the last time you were in a Southern Baptist church, or any church for that matter, and heard a lesson on the God-centeredness of God? I'm not real sure how Piper snuck into Lifeway, but I'm sure glad that he did.
posted by Christie

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

[Imagine here the picture that Blogger won't let me upload]

"Israeli prisoner Ramil Razilo was removing rubble from the planned site of a new prison ward when his shovel uncovered the edge of an elaborate mosaic, unveiling what Israeli archaeologists said Sunday may be the Holy Land's oldest church."

You can read the rest of the article here.
posted by Christie
We leave early next week to "Celebrate the Harvest" at the Georgia Baptist Convention in Columbus. Although we can't even pretend to be good Southern Baptists, we do enjoy getting away and the opportunity to re-connect with old friends. As is usually the case, we'll pull out our biggest smiles and finest garments for this event. Yes, maybe even the cuff-links. We'll sit through the opening assembly, rather covertly peruse the Founders booth, and then most likely, make a quick exit. Of course, our honorable Governer Sonny Perdue will be present for prayer and testimony, among other notables who will provide us with a high octane Bible belt experience. So, most likely, while everyone else gets their political groove on, you'll be able to find us sipping coffee at the local Starbucks. Sounds like a much better alternative to me.
posted by Christie

Friday, November 04, 2005

Where in the world are you? Mark your spot on our Frappr map so we can find out.
posted by Christie
thanks micah!

Sending mad props to Micah for designing our sweet new blog header. Now everyone is going to expect you to do this. Great work!
posted by Christie

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Beyond the Gates of Splendor, is a feature length documentary about Jim Elliot, Nate Saint and other missionaries who were brutally speared by savages in the jungles of Ecuador in the 1950s. The piece also covers the return of two of the missionary wives to the very tribe who murdered their husbands. Although it actually released in a few theaters in 2004, it is now available on DVD. The quality of the piece is said to be excellent, and of course, the story itself is an absolutely incredible and touching display of courage and faith.

Now, to follow up the documentary, is a movie entitled End of the Spear that releases in theaters on January 20, 2006. The film covers the life of Steve Saint, Nate's son, and his own return to Ecuador and the tribesmen responsible for killing his father. We learn how the Waodani tribe have turned from violence and now embrace the enemy they once tried to destroy. What a powerful story of God's loving providence that we, our churches and our children need to see.
posted by Christie

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

In response to a reader question, Michael Spencer dishes out some helpful information about fads in Christian retail, and especially issues surrounding The Prayer of Jabez, by Bruce Wilkinson. Although he certainly does not discredit the book in and of itself, he sheds some interesting light on tendencies to elevate such works to a superstitious level. Even though the entire article would be worth your time to read, the following quotes sum up his opinion rather succinctly:

"It starts with the fact that Jabez is another one of the publishing fads that the church has to deal with. Every year, Christian booksellers tell us that the Holy Spirit has anointed a new book, and if we will buy it and do what it says, the Lord will powerfully move. I don't know how long this has been going on, but long enough that someone should have noticed there is no great wave of miracles, the church is more worldly than ever, ignorance of the Bible is appalling and the Gospel is hardly heard in many churches right here in America."

"I'm a pretty simple person. I think the Bible is about Jesus. Yes, there are a lot different kinds of passages in the Bible, but I am one of those people who believe that, in the end, it's all supposed to add up to Jesus. He, and he alone, is the point, the focus, treasure and the message. Not Jabez or anything else. Not secret Bible codes or hidden principles or unknown prayers. The key to the Bible isn't hidden in the Prayer of Jabez. It's right in plain view in the New Testament: Jesus is God's final word and ultimate word to us. Believe in him and follow him."

posted by Christie
Since we've yet to convince our pastor to let us throw a Reformation party on October 31st, we have been forced to settle for a Fall Festival. Instead of a Papal Bull roast, Diet of Worms cake and games such as pin the 95 theses on the Wittenburg door - we've opted for the likes of hot dogs, funnel cakes, cotton candy and inflatable games. Where is his sense of adventure?

Theological and historical concerns aside, the latter idea seems to resonate best with the people here. Oh, did I mention people? Close to 2,000 of them. The population of our entire county is only about 10,000 - and assembling 1/5 of a community together anywhere for anything, I think, is quite a feat.

I was the head honcho in charge of face painting. And although I'm not all that artistic, I consider myself to be quite creative if I do say so myself. But possibly, I'm the only one holding that opinion. Most of the kids weren't too happy with my suggestion of having things like "sola gratia" and "sola fide" written on their foreheads. Instead they chose rainbows, flowers, footballs and pumpkins. And how could I forget the many red University of Georgia "G's," and camoflauge disguises I slathered on kids faces. How could they choose something like that over my recommended #62 of Luther's theses? Rednecks.

Rick ran the cotton candy machine. And perfected it quite nicely I might add. With my face paiting ability and hidden juggling talent combined with his knowledge of spun sugar, we could always join a traveling carnival if ministry doesn't work out. And then, maybe we could convince some of those folks of the great need for a Reformation Day Festival.
posted by Christie