I blogged yesterday about where we are in our Ethiopian adoption process. As I shared yesterday, we are on the brink of bringing our child home from Ethiopia. We are “on deck” as they call it, meaning that at any moment we can get a phone call telling us who our child is and when we need to be in Ethiopia to meet them and continue the legal process of our adoption. The way it looks now, we will be taking 2 trips to Ethiopia and bringing our child home to our family by the end of 2013. It is hard to believe we are this close since beginning this journey back in February of 2010.
So far, God has provided in incredible ways and allowed us to raise almost $20,000 towards our adoption. For the last leg of the journey, we need to raise $9 – 15 thousand more. The range comes from us not knowing how much travel will be when we make our two trips to Ethiopia.
To accomplish this goal, we are partnering with an organization called Both Hands, who derives their name from James 1:27 which says:
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visitorphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
We have put a team of people together who will get sponsored, much like someone running a 5K. We are getting sponsored to work on the home of a widow. Mabel lives in Tucson, is 93 years old and we will be taking out 2 trees, replanting a tree, replacing her roof, doing some landscaping, and repainting her shutters and trim on her house. It is going to be a full day.
There are a couple of ways you can be involved:
- Continue to pray for our family and this process. Pray for our team as we work on June 15th. Pray that we are able to raise all the money we need to complete our adoption.
- Give to our project. Because of partnering with Both Hands and Lifesong, you can give here and it is tax deductible.
- Spread the word. Through Facebook or Twitter, if you could simply post this: Help my friends adopt a child from Ethiopia and serve a widow http://bit.ly/12sMaWh.
I had my birthday recently and it got me to thinking about birthday’s and social media. Facebook has proven to be nice for a few things when it comes to birthday’s or anniversaries. Facebook tells us when these things happen. I don’t have to remember, write them down or keep track. It will just show up on my page. I can then write a quick, “Happy birthday” and be done.
This is nice and somewhat lazy.
If we’re honest, it makes us feel like we are checking something off and being a good friend. But it is missing something.
If you have ever bought a card for something, you maybe wrote something in it. If anything, you at least took 5 seconds to pick out a card that fit that person. It caused you to have some thought about what you gave them or said to them. Social media has taken that away.
One of the things I’ve started to do and here’s my challenge to you: when you write happy birthday to someone on Facebook, write a message to them on their wall. Tell them why you appreciate them or why they are special to you. If you don’t know them well enough to do that, skip the greeting all together. They won’t know you didn’t write them a message.
I am so excited about this coming Sunday at Revolution Church. It will be the first time we have met on Mother’s Day as a church. To celebrate, we are providing FREE family pictures for anyone. So families, couples, groups of friends, or if you need a new Facebook picture, we have you covered. This will happen an hour before and after our service this week.
We are also continuing our brand new series Jesus Changes Everything and looking at what it means to be made new. I’ll be preaching from John 3:1 – 15 if you want to read ahead. Maybe you have felt like you aren’t new or still struggle with many past sins or hurts, or maybe you still do things you wished you didn’t do. Yet, the Bible says that when we begin following Jesus we are made new, not improved upon, but made completely new.
This week, we’ll look at what being made new means, how to know if you are new and the steps Jesus lays out for us to follow Him as He makes us new.
This will definitely be a week you don’t want to miss!
I’ll see you this Sunday at 10am and be sure bring someone with you (you never know when a simple invite will make an eternal difference).
Remember, we meet at 8300 E. Speedway Blvd. at 10am.
Every Tuesday morning, I review a book that I read recently. If you missed any, you can read past reviews here. This week’s book is Letting Go of Perfect: Women, Expectations and Authenticity (kindle version) by Amy Spiegel. Instead of me writing this review, my wife Katie was kind enough to share her thoughts on this book hoping to serve the female readers of this blog. You can follow Katie on twitter here or friend her on Facebook here.
I let go of perfect quite a while ago, with four kids 7 years old and under, perfect is not a word that I would use to describe my life or a standard that I strive for much anymore. A better word may be awake or present. I was excited to read this book because although the backdrop of my life is not perfection, there are times that I expect much more out of myself and life then actually happens. Those are the things that I was hoping the book would address. Letting Go of Perfect, although not entirely what I expected, covers some great topics.
From the first page of the introduction Amy Spiegel is transparent with her past and the struggle she is facing, “My life: one minute I love it and know I am right where God wants me; the next minute I loathe it and feel that I have been misplaced and forgotten.” A place that I think every wife and mother feels. Each chapter chronicles a topic in which she trying to lay hold of the freedom she knows is promised through a life in Christ.
Chapter one deals with marriage and kids, and how God uses these close relationships to sand off the rough edges and make us more like Him. “Rather then seeing them as obstacles to be removed or reshaped, we must embrace them as instruments of grace being used for our own betterment. Our identity as God’s children isn’t one of perfection, yet, but a picture of His grace. This perspective, along with a firm grasp of our own sinful nature, should humble us in the face of relational difficulties but also encourage us in the face of adversity.”
I really enjoyed the second chapter, and Amy’s spin on modesty and values. “Going to the gym or the neighborhood pool may be a challenge for men to keep their thoughts pure and lust-free. But I would venture to guess that just as many women struggle to keep their thoughts free of envy and pride.” Too often this conversation is left to the wandering eyes of men, and totally downplays the responsibility we have to other women. “I have a responsibility not to create a competitive or hostile environment for my fellow females. By dressing more conservatively, we lessen the temptation to envy and compare, allowing the spirit to overrule the flesh, so to speak. I have noticed for myself that both my inner and outward dialogue tend to be more edifying while chatting in baggy sweats rather then in my ‘skinny’ jeans.” “Whatever the focus of your vanity, there is nothing wrong with looking nice, but we need to consider our motives and the impact our actions have. …We are called to swallow our pride and vanity for the good of the body or push away our freedom in order that others might not stumble.” “I try to concentrate on whether or not this outfit makes my values look small.”
This next chapter deals with parenthood, and although difficult, we give our children what they need, not what they want or will make them happy. The author relates this to our relationship with God. “So why does God bring these hiccups and monsters into our lives if all they do is make us feel bad about ourselves and make us question whether or not He cares? Why doesn’t He simply shower us with sunshine? The answer to that goes back to giving birth. In order to bring forth the greatest blessing in my life, save Jesus and my hubby, I had to voluntarily enter a room labeled “labor and delivery.” I suppose given the choice at the time I might have been tempted to go back, to reverse course and head for the hills. But were that possible, I would have done so empty-handed. In order to get the blessings, I first had to do the labor. For it is through the pain and the blood that I was delivered.” “This is true of our spiritual labor too. But the amazing thing is that the labor has already been done for us. When Jesus groaned and suffered on the cross, He was bringing us out of death and slavery; He was paying for our lives with His own. Whatever pain we suffer here is just the extraction of our new selves from the old. The pain is real and certainly nothing to joke about, but it is fleeting and simply part of the process of giving birth to our new nature. It may hurt like heck, but it will pass. And in our agony, we are not alone. Because He suffered, we can cry out for relief and be heard. It may not stop the pain but it will give us the strength to carry on.”
Chapter four discusses the practical matter of simplifying our life. “Our life’s work is to be just that- work. I want to run into the gates of heaven out of breath and dripping with sweat not because my effort gets me in but because it is the destination I have been running for all along. May our lives reflect the words of the classic film Chariots of Fire ‘I believe God made me for a purpose… and when I run I feel His pleasure.’ While the film refers to physical running, I think it can be applied to any effort we pursue for the right reasons.”
Chapter five deals with the delicate balance we have to follow God’s commands without becoming legalistic or blasé. “The fruit we bear in our lives should blossom out of a deep trust in God’s provision, not an attempt to repay the great debt we owe.” I love her description of trying to muster change in ourselves by picking and choosing what characteristics we want to add or change in our lives. “When I attempt to take life not from its true source-my Father’s will and purpose- but my own, the results are not pretty. Like some mad Frankenstein scientist, I frantically create the person I think I should be. I look at those who I admire and respect not with appreciation for God’s work in their lives, but with green eyes of envy seeking to acquire what is not mine. I piece together all these enviable attributes and sew them on, not in the spirit but in the flesh. The result is not the new creation I am called to be but a hideous monster of rotting flesh that roars in frustration and despair. I create not a better version of myself but an enemy to my very soul.”
Friendship and relationships are the topics discussed in chapter six. She states that we can us truth to combat our feelings of ungratefulness and being left out and come to a place of gratefulness. She reminds us that it is in the hands of God that we are truly transformed and that it is often through human relationships that we are sanctified.
Chapter seven focuses on sifting through the opinions of others through books, blogs, people’s advise, etc. to find our true identity in Christ and allow the Bible and His opinion of who we should be shape us. “Keeping the goal, to glorify God with our lives… … helps us to practice discernment when processing influences and advice.”
Chapter Eight deals with relationships, a struggle everyone knows. “As Christian women, you and I desire to be defined ultimately by our relationship with Jesus but so much of our satisfaction (and dissatisfaction) with our lives comes from our earthly-rather than heavenly- relationships. …But how do we maintain a healthy balance between investing and nurturing relationships-especially with our male counterparts- and still stay rooted in our identity as brides of Christ?” This chapter delves into boundries in relationships before marriage as well as a few truths about marriage.
Chapter Nine deals with the job description of a mom. “This is when I have to remind myself that it isn’t really my kids that I am making all these sacrifices for. They are not my Employer. They are merely the tools He uses to mold me into His finished produce. Too often, I treat my relationship with Him like a union negotiation rather than a covenant based on mercy. I feel entitled to certain wages for the hours I have put in. But this isn’t Let’s Make a Deal; this is about servanthood and death to self.”
Counter culture living is addressed in Chapter Ten: “When we truly set our eyes on Heaven, it will put us at odds with the culture around us, but if we do so in humility and faith we ultimately have nothing to fear.” She lists and expounds on 3 principals in which we consider being counter cultural: stewardship, discipleship, and the importance of the mind.
Chapter Eleven starts with a lighthearted example of breaking away from addiction and the idols that we so easily turn to, specifically materialism. “I can live my live like that, filling it with so much activity that it’s hard to see God’s hand in it all. I say I am living for Him, but in the end I am just going through the motions and failing to remind myself for Whom all the motion is supposed to be. Though I wouldn’t consider myself materialistic, if I tend to value the material over the immaterial I might need to rethink that assessment.” This chapter had some bite that was appreciated and appropriate
Chapter Twelve talks through standard for yourself and family as to how you approach pop-culture. She lists some very practical guidelines for decision making. And encourages you to make your own decisions, knowing that there will be consequences to the choices that you make.
The final chapter is all about your calling as a mother and how to rest well. “True, God-focused resting might feel like self-indulgent inactivity as well, but that is far from the truth…” “Reading the Bible and praying aren’t the only ways we can seek God and the power His presence and blessing bring. The truth is like a spring of water which bubbles from God and flows in many directions. It can be found in the laughter of a friend, the witty turn of a phrase by your favorite author, a touching scene in a well-made movie. WE all need to drink from this fountain but while the water is the same, our ways of collecting it differ. A big part of maturing is coming to understand what activities or disciplines you personally find refreshing. I have friends who come back from a weekend with friends beaming with energy, having been refreshed and encouraged. I am more of a one-on-one girl and enjoy spending time doing physical activities like hiking or riding bikes.”
He whose life is one even and smooth path will see but little of the glory of the Lord, for he has few occasions of self-emptying, and hence, but little fitness for being filled with the revelations of God… but they who ‘do business in great waves,’ these see his ‘wonders in the deep.’ Among the huge Atlantic-waves of bereavement, poverty, temptation, and reproach, we learn the power of Jehovah, because we feel the littleness of man… your trials have been the cleft of the rock in which Jehovah has set you, as he did his servant Mosses, that you might behold his glory as it passed by. -Charles Spurgeon
I appreciate the author’s desire to create an atmosphere where you feel like she is walking alongside you, but this is the part of the book that I had the hardest time with. In doing this I feel like the great gospel truths that are discussed in the book were short lived… and overshadowed in some of the stories that quite frankly came across as whining. I assume that it was in jest, but whenever anyone jokingly makes fun of someone else there is a sliver of truth to it. It really bothered me and set my teeth on edge when she called her kids barbarians. I realize that this may seem nitpicky, but God has moved mountains in my own heart to lovingly train my kids and enjoy it. And so it seems like she is belittling them through this one statement.
Here are a few things you need to know about the first Easter Sunday (and weekend) at Revolution Church:
- It is going to be incredible. I say it every week and this week is no exception. Come to Revolution Church ready to see God do some incredible things.
- Pray. Pray for the leaders who will be leading worship, preaching, leading in Rev Up and Planet Rev. Pray for guests who will come and hear the truth about Jesus and their need for him. Pray for open doors before handing out invite cards.
- Good Friday we will be participating in the Stations of the Cross. This is a move at your own pace, worship experience. Childcare will be provided and you are free to come any time between 6 and 7:30pm on Friday night. The stations go through the final hours of Jesus’ life and bring us face to face in a powerful way as to what Jesus went through on our behalf.
- Hand out invite cards. Don’t come to Easter Sunday by yourself. Every study says that Americans would go to church if someone would invite them, so make the ask. Use Facebook, pass out a card, send them an e-vite. But invite them.
- Parking. Parking at Magee is somewhat limited and even on regular, non-Easter Sundays we can have a completely full parking lot. We can, however, open up a lot of spaces if we utilize the bus drop off lane on the east side of the building, along with parking along the curb on Keesal Ave (the street on the east edge of the school). With our regular attenders parking in these areas and leaving the more obvious spots in the school parking lot open, we will have plenty of room for guests and late arrivers to find a place.
- Sunday. Be ready for guests. Say hi to people you don’t know. Be kind and courteous in the parking lot. Fill up the front to make room for guests who may come late.
At Revolution, we challenged our church to give something up for Lent. While most people give up caffeine or chocolate and then spend 40 days complaining about how much they are suffering, we took the angle of asking, “What takes up time in your life? What could you live without and replace that time with Jesus?” For me, I decided to give up Facebook for Lent. Here are 4 things I’ve learned one week into it:
- Facebook wastes a lot of moments in my day. I took Facebook off my phone and iPad and off my app of choice, Flipboard. I find that without thinking I go to check Facebook. It is amazing to me how automatic it is. As I think about it, it really is sad to me how much a part of my life social media has become. I can get lost in it without thinking about it.
- I care about how many likes I get on things. This is hard to admit, but I like when people like things on Facebook that I post. I want people to be impressed with things. This week has been good because I don’t know what people are thinking about what I post. I’m curious. It is teaching me that it doesn’t matter.
- I have no idea what people are doing, which makes me think I have some fake community in my life. While fake social media community is now the way we do community, it isn’t really community. I have over a thousand Facebook friends, many of them I’ve never met. This is cool on one hand, but it also keeps me from getting community. It makes me feel like I don’t need it. I now have to connect with people give them a call, go out for coffee or have someone over to find out what is happening in their lives. While Facebook is a time saver in this regard, it also keeps you from actually having community.
- My life is connected through Facebook. People have asked me about why things are posting on Facebook if I gave it up. I have given it up, but I realized how much my life is connected through Facebook. My blog, twitter, linkedin, signing into hootsuite and a whole host of other apps have to have my Facebook login. Disconnecting from Facebook was more work than I felt like it was worth. So yes, I’m not reading it.
Question: What did you give up for Lent? What are you learning during this season?