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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Bring Me a Higher Love

This Blog is updated each Tuesday.
This past weekend I had the privilege of attending a leadership training for Community Bible Study in Houston, TX. I attended with my friend (and Children's Director) Tina. It was such a blessing to learn more about my friend (we stayed up til 3 a.m.!) and to glean knowledge from the Holy Spirit and the hearts of the speakers. I could fill this blog completely up with my notes from the weekend. Instead, here are a few things I took away.

If you want anything to happen in your ministry, get closer to God. If you want to be a more dynamic leader, teacher, etc ...the answer is always the same. Get closer to God.

There was a story of a woman who was condemned when her community found out she had been letting her 9 children live in and eat out of garbage cans. We do the same thing. We let our children live in spiritual squalor when we fail to equip them. Do not settle to live your life by default.

We hold the DNA of tomorrow's church. If we want tomorrow's church to have healthy marriages, focus on discipleship and have balanced lives, what must we be? The problem is that we are trying to duplicate rather than incarnate. God wants to do a fresh work. Lead out of rest.

If you are not moved by the Holy Spirit, you will base your life decisions on momentary setbacks.

We settle things in prayer. Then we live it out.

Your family is your ministry.
"I am your Lord, gracious and loving. Rest in My Love, walk in My ways. Each week is a week of progress, steady progress upward. You may not see it, but I do.

I judge not by outward appearances, I judge the heart. Though you may feel that your work has been spoiled and tarnished, I see it only as Love's offering. Courage, My children.

When climbing a steep hill, a man is often more conscious of  the weakness of his stumbling feet than of the view, the grandeur, or even his upward progress.

Persevere, persevere. Love and Laugh. Rejoice."

From God Calling (devotional: day March 31st)
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Cosmo & Suzi came to visit Gomer a few weeks ago. Here they are trying on Laomai's hat. I love these two people. They are vibrant, life-giving, and lavishly creative. Cosmo invented this thing called a Hyper Vest. Check it out. Apparently, it's a big deal! 
Men's Health named it the top fitness product of 2009. 


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Serve and Surprise


I read this wonderful post on CJ Mahaney's blog

He also has a free download available: Women, Beauty, and God

In the previous post in this series, I explained the personal goals that flow from my most important relationship: my relationship with God. Because that relationship is a priority, my goal is to practice the spiritual disciplines as a way of communing with God and acknowledging my dependence upon him. This goal shows up in my schedule as I protect my morning devotional time.

Today we begin to explore biblical productivity in my relationships with others, particularly in my roles as husband, father, and grandfather. 

Serve and Surprise

As I explained earlier, in my relationships with others I work from two biblical categories. Broadly speaking, my goals are twofold:

  • Serve (How can I serve?)
  • Surprise (How can I surprise?)

Obviously, I don’t think these are the only categories you may work from, but thinking in terms of serving and surprising has helped clarify my goals and scheduling week after week over the years.

Connect my roles to my goals and you begin to see the basic framework that informs my schedule. If I were to draw this out, it might look something like this (click for larger):

Studying

I can hear you asking, 
But C.J., how do I serve and surprise my wife? How do I serve and surprise my son? What exactly am I to do? Give me specifics.

Actually, at this point the most effective way I can serve you is to 
not give you specifics on how I serve and surprise my wife, son, and grandchildren. Here’s why: Those you are called to serve and surprise are unique. This means the specific ways you serve and surprise your wife may look very different from the ways I serve and surprise my wife. 

Study Your Wife

For example, let’s look at my role as husband to Carolyn. As I plan how to serve and surprise my wife, I think about a number of categories. Here are my two lists. You can probably add to them.

Do you know how to surprise and delight your wife in specific ways in each of these areas?

  • clothing sizes, styles, and stores
  • jewelry
  • health
  • exercise
  • books and magazines
  • movies
  • the arts
  • sports
  • food
  • music
  • entertainment
  • places to visit
  • intellectual interests
  • hobbies
  • vacations/getaways
  • and, of course, sex

Do you know how your wife is faring in each of these areas?

  • theological knowledge
  • practice of the spiritual disciplines
  • growth in godliness
  • spiritual gifts that can be used to serve others
  • involvement in the local church
  • relationships with children
  • relationships with parents
  • relationships with in-laws
  • relationships with friends
  • personal retreats
  • fears
  • hopes
  • dreams
  • disappointments
  • temptations

Once I have considered these categories, I can put specific ways to serve and surprise my wife on my weekly and monthly schedule.

Conclusion

It’s relatively easy to consider our roles and create goals. The greater challenge is to deliver on our good intentions by transferring those goals to our schedules. 

Serving and surprising others requires that we study them carefully, learn their particular needs and interests, and take action based on what we learn. And when we do, our wives and children, and all those we serve, will freshly experience our affection, care, and service. 


(Don't just forward this to your husband. Figure out how you can do it in your relationships.)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Flotsam and Jetsam

This Blog is updated each Tuesday.

For the past few days I have had these words in my head. Flotsam and Jetsam. I'll be honest, I couldn't even remember what exactly they had to do with the ocean or why I was thinking of them. It must be a message, I thought. That led me to look it up on handy dandy Wikipedia. There, I relearned exactly what Flotsam and Jetsam are. Both are types of debris found in the ocean.

Jetsam is debris voluntarily thrown (jettisoned) into the water to avoid detriment. The cargo remains the property of the owner. Flotsam is debris found floating on the water (usually after a ship wreck). It is the property of the finder.

Here is the message I got. Throw over what is holding you down and you will retain your goods or find yourself ship wrecked and your goods will be a free for all. Ouch.

What debris do you need to throw over the side of the boat to avoid ship wreck? Maybe you are even like Jonah and you need to throw your whole self over. Here is my challenge to you this week: Examine your life. What is something you can give up in order to have a more intimate relationship with God? Let go. 
Throw it overboard.

*Two additional posts below.

Monday, March 16, 2009

A Spring Break Challenge


I want to issue a small challenge to you this week. It is two-fold. First, be positive. Avoid making your conversations consist of who is sick or gossip. Not only focus on the positive, focus only on the positive. Completely ditch the negative. You only have to do it for a week. Second, take a moment this week to tell someone who loves on, inspires, exhorts, encourages, or challenges you how very much they mean to you. Have a phenomenal week!

(Ever get taken the wrong way? This picture made me laugh.)

***We have a work day at Gomer's House this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 
Come see the vineyard I am planting! Email me for more info.***

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Honduras Mission Trip

Please take a minute to pray for our dear friend, Eric Perucca, and his team as they hike into a remote part of Honduras this next week to serve and share the gospel. Our pastor is also accompanying him on this trip.


Amo Honduras !
Amo Honduras !


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Laomai is Two

Our daughter is two. I am not really sure what to do with this realization. We are beyond blessed by her in our lives and I am continually thanking God for sharing her with us. We are praying a blessed year ahead. May she continually grow in godliness and love. Please take a moment to pray for this little girl. 

Laomai trivia: There are so many things we love about her. She firmly believes that she is a princess. She can walk in my four inch heels easily. She absolutely loves to pray and somehow she picked up that the Holy Spirit helps us. She is reading. She puts herself to sleep by singing the Doxology. Laomai loves people!! All of these funny little things make me laugh. She is unique and special just like Every child God created. 
We are thankful to share in her life.


Last week I challenged the ladies at Shiloh to speak kind words for the rest of the month. Someone was gossiping to me before the night was over. I had to laugh. It was a good reminder that I can talk all I want, but only God can change hearts. Do you ever feel like there are people strategically placed around you that dispel light? They are always negative, always complaining, always comparing (their kids especially)? Do you think they realize it? Do you realize it when you are being negative? Do you truly understand what gossip is? If you are irritated with people, tell them. Don't tell other people who are not part of the solution. 

Proverbs 29:11 (NLT)

 Fools vent their anger,
but the wise quietly hold it back.

Try speaking kind words. Let go of jealousy. Don't compare. Even comparing children is judgmental. Let go. Love and show kindness.


Friday, March 06, 2009

Jubilee Dirt!

I have started the process of redeeming our yard. My first project is to plant flowers down each side of our sidewalk. I have estimated that this will take a few hundred begonias. What was I thinking! Denbigh asked me if I was going to need new top soil. I thought of the recent lesson (in Bible Study Fellowship) about letting the land rest for Jubilee and I realized this land had been at rest 20 years! Jubilee dirt!! In fact, I have never seen anything so lovely. It is beautifully aerated. Jubilee dirt. I like it.

Things I thought of while gardening:
1. Why is it called a sidewalk when it goes down the middle?
2. Is a male black widow called a black widower?

Monday, March 02, 2009

Speak Kind Words

I gave a little snippet at Shiloh tonight and wanted to challenge all my blog readers to do something I challenged those ladies to do. Speak kind words. For the next thirty days, set your heart and mind to edify. Turn away from gossip and hurtful words. Open your mind up to things that you might not perceive as gossip. If anything you say about anyone defames or slanders the reputation of someone else, it is not Christlike. It could be about your kids, your husband, or your in-laws. It could be to your best friend, your mom, or your husband. If what you desire to say demeans another, let it go. Thirty days. I have people in my life who always have to share other people's dirty laundry with me. I don't need to know!!! I get so frustrated with the one gossiping that I want to complain about them to my husband. That's gossip. You can call it venting or concern or doll it up any way you like. It will never be pretty. Just for thirty days, let it go. Hand it over to Christ and see the deep and intimate relationship that can develop when you take your complaints to God. 

Which one will you choose to be?

Not a word from their mouth can be trusted; their heart is filled with destruction. Their throat is an open grave; with their tongue they speak deceit

Psalm 15:3
and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong and casts no slur on his fellowman,

Psalm 35:28
My tongue will speak of your righteousness and of your praises all day long.


I have several more blogs coming this week as a bonus for you! :O) Stay tuned.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Jesus Loves Me


I love the words to the old hymn Jesus Loves Me. The most profound parts of the song are never sung. Ponder the poetry and the grace.
~

Jesus loves me! This I know,
For the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong;
They are weak, but He is strong.

~

Refrain

~
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
The Bible tells me so.

~
Jesus loves me! This I know,
As He loved so long ago,
Taking children on His knee,
Saying, “Let them come to Me.”

~

Refrain

~
Jesus loves me still today,
Walking with me on my way,
Wanting as a friend to give
Light and love to all who live.

~

Refrain

~
Jesus loves me! He who died
Heaven’s gate to open wide;
He will wash away my sin,
Let His little child come in.

~

Refrain

~
Jesus loves me! He will stay
Close beside me all the way;
Thou hast bled and died for me,
I will henceforth live for Thee.

~

Refrain

~

This stanza from the original is commonly omitted in hymnals:

~
Jesus loves me! Loves me still,
Though I’m very weak and ill,
That I might from sin be free
Bled and died upon the tree.

~

Read the history: 

http://www.hymntime.com/tch/htm/j/e/jesuslme.htm