Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Good Samaritan - A Child's Perspective

[Can't remember where I found this, but it's great]

A Sunday school teacher was telling her class the story of the Good Samaritan, in which a man was beaten, robbed and left for dead. She described the situation in vivid detail so her students would catch the drama. Then, she asked the class, "If you saw a person lying on the roadside, all wounded and bleeding, what would you do?" A thoughtful little girl broke the hushed silence, "I think I'd throw up."

Monday, June 28, 2010

Happy Birthday Micah!

Micah turned two today. He is such a joy to our lives, and we are so blessed to have him as a son!

Best Free Online Applications

Gizmo's Freeware site is the best place to find reviews on free software. He recently added a new category of reviews for online apps. I discovered several apps that will be very helpful to me. Check the list out here.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Update on Peabody Elementary School

This Lamplighter article was written by Lurene Kelley, who is a part of our little community of CY residents sending their kids to Peabody Elementary School next year.

Peabody Elementary has been in the heart of this neighborhood long before the community was called “Cooper-Young,” but is the school really in the hearts of CY residents? That’s the question school administrators would like its neighbors and local business owners to answer with a resounding ‘yes’… and some money, ideas, and elbow grease to back it up.

According to the school’s principal, Kongsouly Jones, because Peabody is a desirable optional school, approximately 50 percent of the student body comes from open enrollment. This means that nearly half of the children at Peabody live outside its designated boundaries.

Mandy Grisham, a member of the Peabody Leadership Board, says the first step in giving the school a more neighborhood feel is obvious – have more children who live in and around Cooper-Young enrolled at Peabody. This fall, approximately 10 children from the Cooper-Young Parents Network (CYPN), parents who live in or near the neighborhood, will be enrolled in this year’s kindergarten class (In fact, my own child will be among these kindergartners.)

Read more here.

Monday, June 14, 2010

You Can Change 16

This is my last post on Tim Chester's wonderful book You Can Change. At this point in my life it is definitely a Top-1o book, one that has both encouraged me and challenged me a great deal. I feel like I need to read it again soon, as I so want these truths to be internalized in my heart. I want to end this series with four summary statements that Chester gives:

  1. Keep returning to the cross to see your sin cancelled and to draw near to God in full assurance of welcome.
  2. Keep looking to God instead of to sin for satisfaction, focusing on the four liberating truths of God's greatness, glory, goodness and grace.
  3. Cut off, throw off, put off, kill off everything that might strengthen or provoke sinful desires.
  4. Bring sin into the light through regular accountability to another Christian.

Friday, June 11, 2010

You Can Change 15

The last chapter of Tim Chester's book asks the question, "Are you ready for a lifetime of daily change?" This question is an appropriate way to end this book. He begins by explaining that without Christ we are slaves to sin. We are not free to make the right choice. That doesn't mean that we never make the right choice, but it does mean that we're not truly free. However, Jesus set us free. We are no longer under the bondage of sin.

We are now free to choose, free to either sow to the Spirit or sow to the flesh. As great as that is, though, it is a huge responsibility. It would be great if we could make that decision once in our life, and the battle would be done. But unfortunately, walking with God is a daily thing. Everyday we choose. To know that we have to choose is the first step. The second thing we need to understand is that we are in a battle. Paul says in Galatians 5:17 that "the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other." Peter says that the passions of the flesh wage war against our souls (1 Peter 2:11).

The good news again is that we are able to choose. We are able, because of the hope we have in Christ and His work on the Cross (Galatians 2:20), to become more and more like Him every day. This is what the Bible calls sanctification. It requires daily effort, and it's hard work. Many days I don't want to be conformed to the image of Christ. I want what I want. And so in those moments I remind myself of what I know:
  • Only God satisfies
  • There is a lie behind every sin
  • I am free to choose
  • I have to choose
  • God will continue to give me grace
I want to leave you with one one quote from Tim Chester:

The Reformers had a Latin phrase to capture this truth: semper peccator, semper iustus: "always a sinner, always justified." I still sin, but in Christ God declares me to be righteous here and now. So we needn't and shouldn't despair. If we think of ourselves only as failed sinners, then we may feel disqualified from Christian service and settle for a compromised life. You are a justified saint, equipped for battle, capable of adventurous, risky discipleship on the front line of God's kingdom.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

You Can Change 14

In about six weeks I'm going to begin teaching through Ephesians, so I was excited to see that this next chapter, which focuses on the role of community in change, follows much of the themes in Ephesians. One of which is this: not only is maturity possible through Christ, it's commanded. Chester says that just as sin is a community matter, so too is change.

Sometimes I'm able to remind myself that the sin in my life is rooted in lies. At that moment I can come back to the truth of the gospel and can overcome that sin. However, at other times I need someone else to say these things to me. That's the role of community. Unfortunately, this kind of community is often hard to find. One of the reasons for this is that community is messy. Though we may not want to be pretenders, it is much easier. After all, what will people think if they know the "real" me? So when we are held captive by some kind of sin, we either withdraw from community or begin to wear a mask. Chester says,

I need people who regularly ask me about my walk with God, readily challenge my behavior, and know about my temptations. I need my friend Samuel, who often asks, "What's the question you don't want me to ask you?"

The other reason this kind of community is so rarely found is that we don't want to speak truth to people. I have to say that this is one of the biggest things that God has been challenging me with these days. I don't like saying harsh things to my friends, even when I know that what they are doing is destructive. However, Paul says that one of the ways we grow towards maturity is by speaking the truth in love and having the truth spoken to us in love (Eph. 3:15).

I must admit that many of us don't know how to do this. I know that I struggle with it. How do we respond when someone confesses sin? How do we challenge them to seek God for true change? How do we help them to know the love and comfort of God? We need to come back to the gospel. We need to be able to say to one another, "Yes, this is sin. Yes you are guilty. But Christ has taken on that guilt. He has faced the judgment of God not because of sin that he committed but because of our sin."

I so desperately want to be a part of this kind of community. Not one where, as Bonhoeffer said, "Christians are unthinkably horrified when a real sinner is discovered among the righteous", but one whose identity is shaped by brokenness, grace, and hope.

Monday, June 07, 2010

You Can Change 13

In this chapter Chester begins to talk about strategy. He begins to answer the "How?" question, and he uses Galatians 6:7-8 as his starting point: a man reaps what he sows. He writes:

Our sinful nature has idolatrous desires that cause sinful behavior and emotions. But the Spirit has placed in the heart of every Christian a new desire: the desire for holiness. So we sow to the flesh whenever we do something that strengthens or provokes our sinful desires. We sow to the Spirit whenever we strengthen our Spirit-inspired desire for holiness (134).

It's important to understand the lies that lead to sin, and the truth that we need to return to in order to see the desires of our hearts transformed. And it's also important to remember that it is ultimately God who does the transforming. But we must also understand that we have a role to play. What we do does matter. In our daily living we are constantly sowing, either to the flesh or to the Spirit, and what we reap depends on what we sow.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Crazy Yahoo

I just went to Yahoo to check my email account. On the front page there's a headline that says, "City of Memphis asks Herenton to return..." I immediately checked to see what kind of craziness was going on in our city. Turns out we're not asking him to "return" but to "return money." That's much better.