Thursday, May 31, 2007

New Attitude, Session 1

In the first session, the speaker was Joshua Harris. You may know Josh from his book, "I kissed Dating Goodbye" and the follow-up, "Boy Meets Girl". Amazingly enough, Josh was the speaker I have known of for the longest amount of time, since his dating book was very popular when I first started college. I have long respected his God-centered stand, but it wasn't until about a year ago that I realized he was now the senior pastor at Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg. C.J. Mahaney primed him young to take over the church and he seems to have moved into the position well.

He was, by far, very easy to listen to. He was hip and relevant, funny and sincere. I felt like he was most comfortable addressing this age group, but I am sure he does fine with the older crowd, too!

The theme of the weekend is always "Humble Orthodoxy" with an emphasis this year on Discernment. Josh introduced the topic by stating the importance of having discernment and the fact that you can't live humble orthodoxy unless you can separate the good from the bad. So really, discernment is a matter of life and death!

I laughed when he started expounding on the idea by suggesting that if only we had warning labels on music, tv and movies, even other Christian books. Like if we went to the local Christian book store and picked up a bestseller and found on the inside of the beautiful jacket, "This book has about 80% of great Scriptural truths. They will help you live by the Spirit's control and will cause you to grow in grace. However, there is still about 20% of errant theology that may very well lead you astray from true worship of God. This 20% can be found in chapters 2, 11, and 13." Wouldn't that be great? Unfortunately, we all know it doesn't work that way, so we are left with a need to be discerning.

Then from Romans 12 he outlined what it takes to be discerning:

1. It requires resistance. "Do not be conformed to this world . . ." This can sound easy when you are in a group of 3,000 people who want to honor God, but it gets a bit harder when you are back in your school or workplace and all of a sudden you look like a geek for not doing all your friends do. I loved the line he said, "When rock stars are non-conformists, it is cool. When Christians are non-conformists, we look like idiots."

2. It requires renewal. We can't live discerning lives without renewing our mind on a daily basis with God's Word. It can be hard work, but we have to constantly be reviewing what we know to be true to counteract what the world would have us believe.

3. It requires action. We can't sit back and just say we are discerning, we must act accordingly.

4. It requires the gospel. I love that this is a recurring theme with Sovereign Grace Ministries. We cannot be discerning without first realizing how it was even made possible, by the cross of Christ. Discernment should make us more humble because we realize that it is only by the work of Christ that we can have new eyes and new hearts to see and savor that which is right and good and to reject what is wrong.

One tidbit that I took away from this message was the idea that we need to proclaim this truth not as people who are right but as people who have been rescued. There is a true humility that comes with the gospel. And for me, I realize this is something on which I need to work. Too often I champion truth as an arrogant person. I so sincerely desire to be humble and meek in my walk with Christ that this message was an important one for me to hear.

Once again, remember that you can download all the sermons for free from the Sovereign Grace website.

I'll post again soon on Mark Dever's message.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


I returned home yesterday afternoon from the Na Conference, tired but refreshed, overwhelmed but grateful. I would like to post in the coming days what I learned from each session, but I kind of just want to give you my overall impressions from the conference first.

When we first arrived in Louisville, we saw groups of kids (umm, sorry, young adults) who were obviously there for the conference. I instantly felt old and unhip and started to question why on earth I would come to a conference for singles and young married people. Because let's be honest, after almost 8 years of marriage and 2 children, you don't feel young married anymore. But anyway, Laura encouraged me that it wouldn't matter how old I was once we were there and the conference started, and I must admit that for the most part it didn't.

The first session was Saturday evening with Joshua Harris as the main speaker. They did a lot to introduce the conference and said silly things like "make sure you get enough sleep." Like you have to tell me that! I was just excited to have 3 nights without a toddler waking me!

The music was a bit overwhelming at first. Very upbeat and exciting, and while I have no problems with it, I felt like all the songs were new and everyone was raising their hands and I'm not used to doing that. But my attitude soon changed when I saw the genuineness of everyone's worship and I quit having the judgemental attitude and started to truly worship myself. I did tell Laura that first night that I couldn't have a song service like that every Sunday and then by Tuesday I wished we did!

The speakers were phenomenal. This is what caused me to go to the conference in the first place. And it wasn't about being single or young married. It was solid, Biblical teaching about our culture and how to interact, when to separate, what obedience pleases God, etc. It was outstanding and each session left me overwhelmed with what I had heard. Thankfully the Na website will spend the next couple of months dissecting what we heard and making it manageable for us to apply it to our lives. I will visit there often, and you should check it out too! All the sermons will be available to download for free, so it can be like you were there, too!

Well, like I mentioned earlier, I would like to post in-depth about each session, so check back in the coming days to read my thoughts. I know my chicken-scratch notes won't do each sermon justice, so if you want in-depth analysis, you can check out 3 blogs that live-blogged each session. The best is Tim Challies (which, by the way, had I known he was there I would have tried to meet him) but you can also read Alex and Brett Harris at Rebelution or the staff at Boundless' take on the weekend.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Louisville, Here I Come!

Just a quick note to ask you to pray for me this weekend. I am attending the New Attitudes Conference hosted by Sovereign Grace Ministries in Louisville, KY. I am going with my good friend Laura and leaving Dan and the kids at home. Normally, I don't think I would be bothered by this, but I am just getting them back from my parents after a week away, and I'm not sure I'm ready to leave again!

Even so, I am looking forward to hearing the speakers, including CJ Mahaney, John Piper, Al Mohler, Mark Dever and Joshua Harris. It's not very often that we lay people get to hear such a line up!

Pray that my heart is open and I don't get caught up in the excitement of it all. I am easily distracted and I want to be quiet and contemplative. This is the first time I have been able to take an extended break and really have time alone with God. Pray that I don't squander the time. And if it isn't too selfish, pray that we are wise traveling, what with traffic and all, and the fact that we will probably be talking a lot!

AND, I get to see Gretchen! Can the weekend get any more exciting?!?!?!

Favorite Granola

I absolutely love granola. I would eat it every morning if it weren't so expensive and fattening! Well, a good friend of mine, who has a large family, makes her own granola and shared the recipe with me. After making it only once, our family was hooked! In fact, I will be gone this weekend and I am making a batch that Dan can enjoy while I am gone. I thought you might like the recipe, too:

Debbie’s Best Granola

Dry Ingredients:
6 cups oatmeal (quick cooking or old fashioned)
½ c. slivered almonds
½ c. coconut
½ c. chopped walnuts or pecans (pecans taste better)
½ c. whole wheat or all purpose white flour
¾ c. brown sugar
¾ t. salt

Wet Ingredients:
½ c. honey
½ c. oil or ¼ c. oil and ¼ c. applesauce
¼ c. water
½ t. vanilla extract
½ t. almond extract

In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl combine all the wet ingredients. Mix the wet ingredients thoroughly with a wire wisk until the oil, water and honey have combined. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and mix by hand. Place in a 9x13 pan or a large jelly-roll pan. Bake at 325 degrees for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Granola is done when it is starting to brown at edges and starting to get dry. Take out and stir. Let cool and then store in an airtight container.

*I have found that the granola will still look a bit damp after an hour, but will continue to bake out of the oven. This is a great starter recipe. Customize it however you like! You can add any dried fruit to it and use it as cereal or a topping to ice cream.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Home and Away, Again

We just returned from a lovely overnight stay in Door County. Trying desperately to utilize every minute of our time without children, we planned this 24 hour trip in about as much time! We stayed at the Brittania Bed and Breakfast in Algoma. This is actually where we honeymooned, but it was under a different name and different owners. It was fun to go back. We passed the restaurant where I was served raw (yes, I said raw, not just undercooked) chicken cordon blue and it was closed. Our hosts said they had gotten food poisoning from the same eatery, so it's a good thing they are out of business!

We had the most interesting breakfast companions Tuesday morning. We all gathered to eat in the B&B's dining room and started introducing ourselves and telling a bit about our lives. Their were 2 other couples, probably about our parent's age, and between the 4 of them, all college professors! We had a man who taught ancient languages, including Greek and Hebrew and Sanskrit, his wife (who monopolized all the conversation) taught some sort of history, including religious history, and the other couple taught education training and philosophy. After we discovered the similar professions, it started a very involved discussion into religion and philosophy and students and the apparent influx of children who are more conservative than their parents and are searching for a real religion. Dan and I sat, dumbfounded. Especially after one woman commented on "fundamentalists who can't open their mind at all."

So I ask you, what would you have said? We politely listened and at one point mentioned to the guests that we were Bible College graduates, highly involved in our church, and quite familiar with a "fundamentalist" upbringing. All of a sudden, the tune changed. The one lady who who made the fundamentalist comment started back peddling and saying things like, "Oh, we are highly spiritual, we just don't go to church. We draw from Christianity, Judaism, and Buddhism. In fact, I think spirituality is important, it's all about community." It was almost comical to see how she changed her mind so quickly.

Now, keep in mind that these are strangers to us. We shared a short breakfast with them, and that is all. We don't know them or have a relationship with them. What should we have said? We excused ourselves shortly thereafter to enjoy the waters of Green Bay with our boat while we had the chance and we wondered what the conversation was like after we left. Did they regret saying such hateful and stereotypical things about Christians? Or did they laugh at our naivety for adhering to such a silly belief system?

Who knows, but to be honest, I don't think we were the ones guilty of being close-minded yesterday morning.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Time Away

My parents are wonderful people. We had previously arranged for them to have Elijah until the Memorial Day weekend when we go to their house, and they decided they could take Alli, too! So yesterday morning they left with both my babies and Dan and I went into overdrive. We went on a long walk with Sadie, came home to shower, left to go to Home Depot and Lowe's, came home for lunch, left to spend the afternoon on the boat, came home to eat supper, and finished our day out at the mall. Whew! What extra time we must have wasted when we didn't have kids!!!

So here is a pic of me in the boat. It was only the 3rd time she's been out this season and it was a great day for her. We tried a new lake and had a blast exploring all the inlets and admiring the beautiful homes on the lake. Someday we want to live on the water, but until then, we will be content enjoying it for the afternoon.
Today promises to be less crazy. We must paint our master bath with the paint we bought at Home Depot, and then we will install some new light fixtures. I hope to be able to post the before and after pictures in the coming days.
Off to work on my projects! Have a great weekend!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Mother's Day

I woke up to a glorious Mother's Day. I was fast asleep when I faintly heard the fan being shut off. It was odd, because I didn't even know Dan was up. Then a small voice whispered in my ear, "Happy Mother's Day." I didn't open my eyes right away, I was still a bit disoriented from being woken from my REM sleep. So after a short moment passed, again I heard, a bit louder this time, "Happy Mother's Day!" I opened my eyes to see Dan, Elijah and Allison, all standing there with breakfast and my coffee on a tray and bearing a present. What a great way to be greeted!

After we all cuddled in bed for a few minutes, and I had eaten my breakfast, I opened my present. It was an iPod! I was so excited! I never thought I would use an iPod, but I bought Dan one for Christmas, and since then have been very jealous. I have never asked for one, but I have asked Dan to purchase songs from iTunes and I have been known to steal it from him. It is nice to go on trips and listen to our whole catalog of music without bringing a ton of CDs. We are hoping to get a docking station so that I can listen to it while I work around the house, but until then, I will use it whenever I can!

I have already been online getting acquainted with iTunes. Dan presented the gift with a gift card for iTunes, so I have already started spending! I love being able to purchase just one song that reminds me of a special memory. It keeps me from having to buy a complete CD that, upon further inspection, isn't a great investment. iTunes also gives a free 30-second sample to make sure it is the version you want. Isn't technology great?!?!

In the future, after I have had some more time to utilize it, I will post what I've been listening to. Until then, I hope you all had a great Mother's Day, too!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Copyright Question

All fellow bloggers,

Where do you find your non-copyright pictures for your posts? I was just contacted by a photographer whose picture I had used in my last post. Apparently I am not able to use just any picture that comes up on google images. This is news to me. So I am wondering where the best websites are to use royalty free pics to make my blog look pretty! Let me know what you use!

And to make sure that I am compliant with all copyright rules, I am using a picture from my own collection. Enjoy!

This is my sister-in-law (on the left) with her friend showing off their coffee mask. Cute, huh?

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

If God is for us, who can be against us?
He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?
Who shall bring any charge against God's elect?
It is God who justifies.
Who is to condemn?
Christ Jesus is the one who died -
more than that, who was raised -
who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

ProLife Articles

If you have the chance, spend a few minutes at Al Mohler's blog and read the first three articles he has written this month on abortion. As usual for his writing, they are outstanding. After reading him on a regular basis, I am still amazed at his ability to cut to the heart of the matter, and these three articles are no different.

And, if you can stomach it, check out what John Piper had to say about the recent Supreme Court ruling concerning partial birth abortion. It is graphic, but some things need to be.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Cross Centered Scripture

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin,
so that in him we might become
the righteousness of God.

2 Corinthians 5:21