Wednesday, December 15, 2010

What I'm Reading:
1. The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
2. Axiom by Bill Hybels
3. The blogs listed to the right and also Michael Hyatt's blog.

What I'm Watching:
1. Scrooge, The Musical with Albert Finney (this is my favorite Christmas movie so I keep it on deck all through December)
2. Parenthood (Tuesday nights on NBC) - my husband and I love watching this one together, especially as we are navigating our way through the early years of marriage and parenthood

What I'm Listening To:
1. Andy Stanley's sermon series on "The Thrill of Hope"
2. One Question with Ken Coleman - series of short podcasts asking questions of some great leaders and innovators
3. North Point's new Christmas album - AMAZING!
4. Gungor - an incredible worship team from Denver; if you only download one song, make it "Beautiful Things"
5. The song "Winter Snow" sung by Audrey Assad - makes me cry every time I listen - if you were in worship with us at Ashley Ridge on Sunday, Kadie Naugle sang this song beautifully!!!

what are you currently consuming?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

For months I said, "I don't care how cold it is, I just don't want it to rain."

But then race day came, and it rained, and it rained, and it rained.  But still we ran - 13.1 miles we ran.

That's right, friends, I finished my first ever half marathon Saturday on Kiawah Island.  I had two goals: to run the whole thing and to finish in less than 2:15.  I ran the whole thing and I finished in 2:13 - mission accomplished!

A few observations:

1. There are a lot of really skinny people at these events.

2. We, and by "we" I mean Jamin, observed that at the starting line where the masses lined up according to pace, people got skinnier as you got closer to the front (which is the nice way of saying that those of us between the 9 and 10 minute pace were heavier :) - something you can easily tell b/c everyone is wearing spandex.

3. Everyone got a medal as they crossed the finish line.  While I typically frown on the whole "everyone gets a trophy" mentality, I am now a firm believer that running 13.1 miles is deserving of a medal.  (Plus, the people who won got much shinier and fancier medals that actually said "winner" on them; whereas mine just says "Kiawah Island Half Marathon.")

4. We need to challenge ourselves.  There is no exhilaration that comes with doing something we knew we could.  There's a complete euphoria that comes with doing something we didn't think was possible.  It's about being stretched, getting out of our boxes and re-learning again and again that God wants to do more with our lives than we dare to dream.

So, who's running with me next year?
Joseph's Disruption

The first Christmas when Jesus came, it was anything but silent and peaceful, it was a HUGE disruption to everyone involved.

For Joseph, it was a family issue.

Family is so complicated – tis the season, right? We visit with our families and we eat a lot of food and we think, “surely I don’t share DNA with all of these people.”

Nevertheless, families are important.  I had an OT professor who said to never read thru Biblical genealogies too quickly.  In 
Matthew 1 Jesus' genealogy is rolling along with so-and-so the father of so-and-so and so-and-so the father of so-and-so until 1:16, which says “and Jacob, the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah.”  Something doesn't seem quite right.  It doesn't say "Joseph, the father of Jesus."

Can you imagine what it was like for Joseph when he found out Mary was pregnant?  He had to have been stunned.  In the end, he had two choices: take her to trial and have her stoned to death for adultery, or divorce her quietly and make no accusation.  The Bible tells us that he was a "righteous" man and therefore chose the second.

But then...the angel shows up and clues him in.  Stun gun, take two.  Joseph, Mary is pregnant by the Holy Spirit, take her to be your wife and name the child Jesus because He will save us from our sins.

And so he did.  And because we know the rest of the story, we applaud his obedience.  But, think about his decision at the time.  The angel didn't show up to the rest of the village to explain what was going on.  By taking a pregnant Mary as his wife, Joseph opened himself up to a lot of gossip and ill repute.

You see, Joseph takes on a life that only history will celebrate.  In his life, it will not be celebrated. He’ll be the discussion in the corner at the family Passover celebrations.  He’ll be talked about in the town square.   He’ll be the guy the other guys leave out on spin the dradle nights.

And yet, he was obedient because following Jesus is so much more important than your reputation.  

Here’s the deal – Joseph may not have fathered Jesus in the traditional sense, but it was through Joseph’s family line that God promised a Savior would come.  God had a plan for Joseph’s life – didn’t fit Joseph’s plan, wasn’t very popular, BUT…

God has a plan for your family this Christmas.  When we let Jesus into our lives, into our families, our decisions don’t look the same, our lifestyles don’t look the same.

What is God asking you to do this year that will be hard in the moment, but unforgettable in the end?

Thursday, December 09, 2010


After a two-month break, my Thursday morning women's Bible study started again this morning.  As three married women and one soon-to-be married woman, we decided to read "Wild at Heart" by John Eldredge in an attempt to grow in understanding of our husbands.  (We try, men, I promise we try.)

Our conversation this morning led quickly to a conversation about safety - our desire for safety, our pursuit of safety and the sinfulness of safety.  We live in a world that seems driven by the idea of safety and security.  We work hard to make sure our children are safe, we make career choices that are safe, we make financial decisions that are safe (and if they aren't safe, they help us keep up with the Joneses, so at least there's a good reason :/).

While we're not called to be careless with our lives nor foolish with our money, we are called to live dependent on God, which means at times abandoning our safety nets.

How are you living dangerously? What recent financial decision have you made to give extravagantly?

Monday, December 06, 2010

Disruption, Part 2

Disruptions come in the good and the bad variety.

Good Disruption - my son wakes up from his nap early and comes walking down the hall saying "Mommy, hold you" with his little arms outstretched.

Bad Disruption - a staff member accidentally spills coffee all over his Macbook Pro and we spend the morning laying hands on it in desperation, cleaning the mess and googling home remedies for drying out a computer (for all of the Apple lovers out there who are panicking, fear not, all is well).

Zechariah's disruption in Luke 1 was a little of both.  The good part - "even though you and your wife are old and maybe not up to chasing kids, you're going to have a baby and he's going to be awesome.  He's going to prepare the way for Jesus!"  The bad part - "since you doubted whether the good part was possible, you're going to lose your ability to speak for nine months, which may be a tad detrimental in your work as a priest."

Can you say "DISRUPTION!?!?!"

A kid on the way, no way to talk (how many of you pastors have tried preaching a whole message to your congregation in subtitles?), and on top of all of that, the kid was supposed to be the one the prophets spoke of who would call people back to faith and prepare the way for the Savior of the World (not exactly the message Rome was waiting for or wanting to hear since Herod thought he was the King of the Jews).

See, it's like I said before, that first Christmas when Jesus came created a major disruption for everyone involved.  Zechariah thought he had life figured out.  He knew his gifts, he understood his job.  Sure, he and Elizabeth had experienced some disappointments in life such as not being able to have kids, but they were fine.  They had each other.  Their life had been good. They knew their parameters and the way of the world.  They understood their limits and they worked well within them.  Oh, but wait...

Jesus was coming and everything was about to change.  Rules are gone, limits blown away.

Jesus is coming again this Christmas.  What limits are you placing on your life right now that need to be taken away?  What boundaries have you set for what you can and cannot do?

Jesus wants to do more than you ever dreamed possible.  Will you let him disrupt your life?

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Awkwardness and Praying Couples

So, let me take you back a few years to one of my earliest and most awkward ministry moments:  I was finishing my first year of seminary and had been assigned to a large church in South Carolina for my summer field placement. I was newly engaged and not looking forward to heading even further from my fiance for 12 weeks. 

Before going, we had an orientation weekend for field placement supervisors and students filled with workshops and other get-to-know-you activities.  The pastor who would be my primary supervisor couldn't attend so he sent his associate pastor, a retired Air Force chaplain in his 60s who today is one of my greatest friends, advisors and confidantes.  However, at the time, it was simply awkward.  I wasn't real sure about heading to his church (i.e. the church I went to work at full-time when I graduated two years later) and he hated (still hates) sitting in meetings of any kind.  We were having a great time (read dripping sarcasm :).

Anyway, during one of the workshop breakouts we chose to attend a workshop that was titled "Spiritual Growth in the local church."  Sounded better than "Death and Dying" so off we went.  When we got there, we met a pastor who talked about a lot of things, but I don't remember much spiritual growth.

I do remember about 15 minutes into the session when he started talking about couples praying together, followed by the statement that couples who pray together regularly dramatically improve their sex life (he actually was much more graphic, I'm keeping this PG for my readers and my own comfort level).  Whoa!  Who saw that coming?  Not this unmarried pastoral intern.  Not the guy sitting next to me.  AWKWARD!!! In fact, awkward doesn't begin to describe the moment.  We laugh about it now, but at the time, both of our faces were scarlet.

Ironically, one of the things that keeps many couples from praying together is the fact that it's so incredibly awkward.  Different kind of awkward, but still, awkward.  Fear not, I'm not about to try and talk you into it for the purposes mentioned above.  However, I would just like to say that whatever the fringe benefits may or may not be, couples need to pray together.  I tell our high school students all the time - look for the person who will pray with you and for you.

When my husband and I were engaged and living in separate states, we used to pray together over the phone.  That was more awkward for my roommates than for me.  As a married couple, we've had periods of time when we've been very faithful to pray together and periods where we've been awful about it.  I can guarantee you the times we're praying together are our best times, our most genuine times and the times we've been the closest and gone deeper in our relationship.

I'm thankful for a husband who invites me to pray with him even on the nights when I'm annoyed with him and would rather just go to bed.  I'm really thankful for a husband who invites me to pray with him on the nights when he is rightfully annoyed with me and doesn't really want to talk with me let alone pray with me.  Mostly, I'm thankful for a Savior who invites both of us into His presence even when we're so unworthy to be there, but at least we're there together.

I know it's awkward, but today, ask your spouse or the person you're dating to pray with you.  I promise you it will be awkward. I promise you it will be worth the awkwardness.