Girls Night Thank You

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Thank you for everyone that came to the Girls Night.  It was really encouraging to see so many friends.

Even though I was not able to answer all the questions that were submitted, I felt God allowed us to talk about the things that he had for us that night.

Several of you have asked for more information — especially related to two of the questions.

Question One

In response to a question about how Jim and I maintain our marriage, I said one topic I believe is vital to the discussion of cultivating good marriages is the importance of a healthy intimate relationship.  The church often does a great job of speaking about the boundaries of sexual intimacy before marriage but sometimes fails to provide support and encouragement to couples after marriage.

Sex is not the most important aspect of a marriage relationship but it is a central part of what it means to be married.  While God designed the gift of sex to be the “super glue” of relationships (see Jim’s sermon, “Sex in Marriage” from the 2009 series Like Christ:  Think. Love. Live.), it is a gift that takes work, sacrifice and time.  It is a gift that changes over the course of a marriage, and because sex reflects the core of who we are as women it often involves working through issues of how we view ourselves.

IssueOne good resource is Intimate Issues: 21 Questions Christian Women Ask About Sex by Linda Dillow and Lorraine Pintus.

These women candidly discuss the emotional, spiritual, and physical aspects of sex from a strong biblical basis.

Even though this book is helpful, don’t face this issue alone.   Pray for a friend or mentor that you can openly, but appropriately, discuss these issues so that Satan doesn’t end up manipulating God’s good gift for great harm.

 

Question Two

Sensible-Shoes-IVP-coverIf you are only able to read one book this year (although I would like to add the caveat to please, please read more than one book this year!!), my recommendation was Sensible Shoes:  A Story about the Spiritual Journey by Sharon Garlough Brown.

The book is a fictional account of four women, Hannah, Meg, Mara and Charissa, who do not know each other before God brings them to the shore of Lake Michigan to take them on a spiritual journey over the course of several Saturdays.

When we talk about spiritual disciplines, it can sometimes be confusing and overwhelming to know where to start.  Brown does a beautiful job of weaving together the successes, failures and heartbreaks of these four characters in a way that also provides a look at how the spiritual disciplines can allow God to transform us.

Brown also provides tools to help the reader learn along with the characters practices such as lectio divina, prayer of examen, wilderness prayer, praying with imagination and rule of life.   If these sound overwhelming or non-traditional, the book is a gentle guide to help you.

Sensible Shoes would also be worth reading and working through with a group of friends.

You can find out more about the book at sensibleshoesclub.com.

Thanks again for a fun evening together.

All is well,

Lisa

Summer of Psalms

summer-psalms-web1This summer, Jim will conclude our Undivided sermon series preaching from 2 Samuel and the Psalms.

As a family, we decided to read through the Psalms together and wanted to invite you to join us.

In order to facilitate reading the Psalms, we divided the book up by the weeks in the summer.  So, if you feel led to join us beginning on Sunday, June 2, following is a schedule that will allow us to read the entire book of Psalms over the summer:

June 2-8:                                  Psalm 1-12

June 9-15:                                Psalm 13-24

June 16-22:                              Psalm 25-36

June 23-29:                              Psalm 37-48

June 30-July 6:                         Psalm 49-60

July 7-13:                                 Psalm 61-72

July 14-20:                               Psalm 73-84

July 21-27:                               Psalm 85-96

July 28-August 3:                     Psalm 97-108

August 4-10:                            Psalm 109-118

August 11-17:                          Psalm 119-126

August 18-24:                          Psalm 127-139

August 25-31:                          Psalm 140-150

Bookmarks with the reading schedule are also going to be available at church so that you can take the reading plan with you this summer.

In addition, we want to use the blog to post quotes and pictures that bring some of the Psalms to life.  Also, since the Psalms is known as the Bible’s songbook, we hope to post lots of different songs from a variety of genres that show how the Psalms continue to be the basis of the church’s praise to God.

Looking forward to our summer in the Psalms,

Jim and Lisa

Paradox

par·a·dox

[par-uh-doks]

noun

1. a statement or proposition that seems self-contradictory or absurd but in reality expresses a possible truth.
–from dictionary.com

The Christian life is full of paradoxes.  Consider a few of the paradoxes about believers presented in scripture:

Wicked lawbreakers, yet blessed (Psalm 32)

Crucified with Christ, yet we live (Galatians 2:20)

Lose our life, yet find it (Matthew 10:39)

Humble ourselves, yet are exalted (Matthew 23:12)

Give, yet receive in greater abundance (Luke 6:38)

Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing (2 Corinthians 6:10)

Having nothing, yet possessing everything (2 Corinthians 6:10)

Weak, yet strong (2 Corinthians 12:10)

Outwardly wasting away, yet inwardly being renewed day by day (2 Corinthians 4:16)

This reality of the Christian life is seen most clearly in Easter…when Christ dies to bring life.  Evil thought it had won, but it was actually Satan, sin, and death that were defeated by the cross.  These truths are beautifully presented in this video:

All is well,

Lisa

Insights Into Church

Chad HarmsChad Harms is the senior pastor of Creekside Bible Church in Oregon.  We became friends after he contacted me about my book The Gift of Church.  Since then, God has blessed me with the opportunity of interacting with Chad in a mentoring relationship.

Chad has some great insights into the importance of church that he wrote on his blog so I thought I would link you to his posts.  I am excited for what God is doing through Chad at his church, as well as for the way God is helping others think about church through Chad.

Blessings,

Jim

Praying With Kids

childlikefaithThis week, I am teaching at MOPS on praying with your kids.  I am excited both for the opportunity to speak to this beautiful group of women but especially to be able to talk on the topic of prayer.

The disciples spent three years with Jesus.  They saw him do amazing miracles, they heard him preach life-changing sermons and they observed him care for the hurting.  But, the Bible records that the disciples only asked Jesus to teach them one thing, and it had nothing to do with the public aspects of ministry.  The one thing that the disciples asked Jesus to teach them was how to pray.

As parents, it is a helpful reminder that prayer is actually something that can, and needs, to be taught.

Since we are still helping our children learn to pray and I am always looking for good ideas, I thought I would ask for your suggestions.  Do you have any ideas for praying with young kids that have been helpful?  Are there things you are doing (or did) that really helped your children learn to pray?  Or, was there something your parents did that really helped you learn to pray?

Lisa

Old Books

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I love books.  As a child, my secret goal was to read every book in the youth and children’s section of the local library.  I’m sure I never even came close to that goal (due in part to the fact that libraries keep adding new books all the time!) but it was not for lack of giving it a significant effort.

So, it is probably not a surprise that one of my favorite Christmas traditions is giving each kid a book to read aloud as a family.  It has been so great to re-read books that I loved as a child, such as the Little House books by Laura Ingalls, as well as discovering great new books.

Some of my favorite quotes about reading come from C.S. Lewis, who says:

It is a good rule after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between.
No book is really worth reading at age of ten which is not equally (and often far more) worth reading at the age of fifty–except, of course, books of information. The only imaginative works we ought to grow out of are those which it would have been better not to have read at all.
…a children’s story which is only enjoyed by children is a bad children’s story.

Even though I am not to 50 yet, one of the great joys of having school-age children is rereading “children’s books.”  They are treasures of history, imagination and adventure.  It is often interesting to read them through an adult or parent lens.

As I child I didn’t realize that when Laura Ingalls wrote about being hungry during an extended blizzard in The Long Winter that they weren’t just hungry.  When I was young – and living in Texas – being shut inside during a blizzard sounded a little like a great adventure.  But, when I reread it as an adult, I came to the shocking realization that they were literally starving to death.  In addition, to read about the amount of work Ma Ingalls had to do in order to feed the family takes on a far different meaning now that I am preparing three meals a day for a similar size family.

We just finished reading Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery.  I had forgotten how much I loved the story.  But, it is funny to read some of the sections from the perspective of an adult…and a pastor’s wife.  Here are my favorite quotes after absorbing myself in the world of Anne of Green Gables:

…isn’t it nice to think that to-morrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?  (Chapter 21)
I don’t know what lies around the bend, but I’m going to believe that the best does.  It has a fascination of its own, that bend, Marilla.  I wonder how the road beyond it goes – what there is of green glory and soft, checkered light and shadows – what new landscapes – what new beauties—what curves and hills and valleys further on. (Chapter 38)
And besides, we met the new minister and his wife….His wife is very pretty.  Not exactly regally lovely, of course – it wouldn’t do, because it might set a bad example.  Mrs. Lynde says the minister’s wife over at Newbridge sets a very bad example because she dresses so fashionably.  (Chapter 21)
Mrs. Lynde says that sound doctrine in the man and good housekeeping in the woman make an ideal combination for a minster’s family.  (Chapter 21)
It’s always wrong to do anything you can’t tell the minister’s wife.  It’s as good as an extra conscience to have a minister’s wife for your friend. (Chapter 24)

As a young girl, I am sure those statements about the minister’s wife didn’t even make me pause but now they make me laugh – a little from acknowledgement of the truth that people often have certain expectations of the minister’s wife and thankfulness that most of those stereotypes are gone.

Now that winter has finally arrived, perhaps you can find your favorite “old” book and take some time this winter to enjoy it afresh.

I also would love to know your favorite “old” book.

All is well,

Lisa

Insecurity and Arrogance

On Sunday (Nov. 25) we revisited the issue of insecurity and arrogance during the sermon.  I said because insecurity and arrogance come from a reliance on self, the solution to the problem of insecurity and arrogance is to wait for the Lord, to be still and know that He is God.  In the areas of life where we exhibit insecurity and arrogance, it is often the result of trying to make something happen in our own power or finding our identity in what we accomplish.  God is encouraging us to trust him and cast our cares on him because he cares for us.

One more comment about waiting on the Lord is probably necessary.  As we keep emphasizing during our study of 1 and 2 Samuel, it is only by looking at the heart can we truly know a person’s motivation.

For example, outwardly a person who is waiting on the Lord and a lazy person can look the same.  They both may appear to be dragging their feet on making a decision or seemingly refusing to put forward the kind of human effort we think will make them successful.  Likewise the person who is busy with activity may actually be submitting themselves to the Lord and obeying what he has told them to do.  Or alternatively, a busy-looking person may simply be taking matters into their own hands. You can’t tell just by looking at outward activity.

How do we evaluate our lives in this area?  It requires discernment and honesty.  If we think that we can get by with just doing nothing – that’s laziness.  If we are praying and actively listening to God before doing something – that’s waiting on the Lord.  That is why there is not a list of outward activities that I am prescribing for waiting on the Lord, but rather an attitude of the heart.

If we trust God, know that he loves us, realize that he is our only hope and believe we should submit our will to his – the activities that spring from that attitude will be those consistent of waiting for the Lord.  If we only give lip service to God, think that it takes too long or too much effort to follow God, or if we believe obeying God will only cause our lives to take a sharp turn towards miserable – then the activities that spring from that attitude will be consistent with looking to ourselves to solve our problems.  As a result, all the insecurities and arrogance associated with such an attitude will be present.

I hope these additional thoughts on this very big and complex issue are helpful.

Blessings,

Jim

National Adoption Month

Did you know that November is National Adoption Month in the U.S.?   It is also when we recognize Orphan Sunday, a Christian effort to promote and assist families with adoption.

Jim and I are so thankful that Calvary has a rich history of families opening their homes and their lives to orphans.  They have hearts that beat with God’s heart to “defend the fatherless” (Deut. 10:18), to “take up the cause of the fatherless….” (Isaiah 1:17) and to practice religion that “God our Father accepts as pure and faultless…to look after orphans….”(James 1:27).

But it is not just a historical emphasis at Calvary. We know of at least three families that are actively in the middle of their adoption process, and we look forward to welcoming their children into our church family.

This November, adoption is also personal for my family.  My brother and sister-in-law will return from Uganda at the end of the week with two children, three-year-old Elsie and one-year-old Ki.  Because of their desire to seek the Lord to see if He had additional children for their family, my extended family will now include not just Europeans and Arabs, but Africans as well.

And it is not only my extended family that is becoming more diverse but our church family as well.  Adoption is one way Calvary looks a little more like heaven, as those circled around God’s throne will reflect all the shades of earth’s ethnicities.

During our recent series in Ephesians, Jim preached a sermon in which he showed a brief clip of our friends, Jason, Amanda and their two grade school daughters, meeting their two sons/brothers in Ethiopia for the first time.  We have been friends with Jason and Amanda since Oxford, and we are so grateful for our friendship despite the fact that they in California where Jason teaches at Biola University.

This Thanksgiving, we received a beautiful thanksgiving card with a picture of their family and a link to a video sharing glimpses of their story in bringing Elle and Yuni to be part of their family.  I hope you enjoy it.

All is well,

Lisa

This is Not Where I Belong

What images does the word “home” create in your mind?

The dictionary definition of “the place where someone lives permanently” doesn’t capture the feeling of walking in from a long day, tired and weary, taking off the uncomfortable shoes and clothes stained and wrinkled from the day and slipping on comfy clothes and slippers, nestling into your favorite chair with a cup of coffee and letting the day drain away.

Home.

Or perhaps you remember being a college student drained from a long semester of assignments, living in a dorm with its industrial furniture and cafeteria food, and then the feeling of walking into your old room with its familiar surroundings and favorite smells from the kitchen, the memories flooding back.

Home.

The idea of home for Christians is that same longing.  In one of my favorite passages of scripture, Hebrews 11:13-16, the writer talks about biblical men and women of faith saying:

 

All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they have been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had the opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country — a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be their God, and he has prepared a city for them.

While we may shrink back from the thought that we are strangers and aliens in this world when our flesh desires to belong, there is actually great relief in admitting that we were made for heaven.

So, this week when so much attention will be focused on the election and its outcome, I can’t think of a more appropriate anthem than the following song by Building 429.  The chorus says:

All I know is I’m not home yet
This is not where I belong
Take this world and give me Jesus
This is not where I belong

 

All is well,

Lisa