Friday, October 24, 2008

It's all just stuff

Have you ever felt like God shows you something in your life and no matter what you do He won't let you forget about it? I have felt that way for about the past two months in regards to giving and the poor and needy. There is a haunting in my heart that I need to be doing more for the poor and desolate of this world. The problem is I live in America where it is so easy for me to forget about those in need, or I can just change the channel when "those" commercials come on. But God, in His grace, is refusing to let me forget it. Yesterday I was listening to a sermon by Dr. David Platt, I would highly recommend it, you can find it on iTunes. In it he talked about the amount of Scripture God devotes to talking about the poor. Here are just a sampling of ones he highlighted and some others I have found:

Duet. 15:7-14 "You shall not shut your hand against your poor brother, but you shall open your hand to him...Therefore I command you, "You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor in your land."
1 Sam. 2:8 "He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap."
Prov. 14:21 "Whoever despises his neighbor is a sinner, but blessed is he who is generous to the poor."
Ps. 112:9 "He has distributed freely; he has given to the poor."
Prov. 21:13 "Whoever closes his ear to the cry of the poor will himself cry out and not be answered."
Is. 61:1 " bring good news to the poor."
Ez. 16:49  what was the great sin of Sodom? "she had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy."
Luke 4:16 Jesus came to earth, "to proclaim good news to the poor."
Luke 16:19-31 the rich man is sent to Hell because he refused to care for the poor (he was sent to hell because he didn't trust in Christ, which is evidenced by the fact that he didn't care for the poor)
Matt. 25:31-46 the parable of the sheep and the goats. Jesus knows those who are his by their reaction to and giving to the poor. Those who turn a blind eye and do not give are not followers of Christ and are sent to eternal punishment.

I could go on and on with verses of Scripture about God's call to us for the poor. I think the passage that haunts me the most is Matt. 25. I look at my life and wonder what God would think of all my stuff. I am secure in the fact of my salvation. I know I don't earn his favor and forgiveness by doing things, but the evidence of that salvation must be apparent. I am praying more and more for God to take my love of things away. That he would continue to awaken in me a deep longing to give to the poor and needy. Because all my stuff is not worth comparing to Christ.


Monday, October 13, 2008

Radical Womanhood

I don't usually recommend a book before reading it, but this is an exception. God has been waking me up to how far our culture has shifted from biblical womanhood and biblical manhood. Roles have been redefined and values have changed. Some of these changes are for the better. I'm really thankful I can vote, for example. However, other changes have actually gone against what God says in His Holy Word. 

I can feel comfortable recommending this book because of the men and women who have reviewed it and recommended it. C.J. and Carolyn Mahaney, Wayne Grudem, Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Bruce and Jodi Ware... They may not be names familiar to all, but they are men and women of God whose opinions I've come to trust.

The book is called Radical Womanhood: Feminine Faith in a Feminist World, and it's written by Carolyn McCulley. I think the title explains a lot, but I've posted a link to the book's website. On it, there's a video of Carolyn explaining the premise for the book. Ultimately the goal is for Jesus to stop the cycle of us sinning against one another and for women to trust Jesus for what our femininity truly looks like.

I can't begin to express all that God has been showing me with regards to biblical womanhood, but I will say that it's been very liberating. It truly is for freedom that Christ has set me free, and there's much freedom in living as a woman (or a man) according to God's original plan. 

For women, Titus 2:4-5 is a great place to start.

Here's that link...


Saturday, October 11, 2008

Thai Cuisine

When we were living in Tyler, Derek and I discovered a great little Thai restaurant. I learned the Chinese Super Buffet was not the best place for gaining an appreciation for true Asian food. The restaurant was called Baan Nitaya. 

We ate there on one of our first dates, and then up to once a week after we were married. We took swing dance lessons with some friends, John and Karen. Swing dance lessons were in a pilates studio two doors down from the restaurant. We would dance and then go eat. Derek's favorite dish was the green curry. Mine was the pad thai.

So, I was pretty excited to find a fairly good Asian food section in our grocery store here in Austin. Here's a recipe for green curry that's pretty good! Maybe not quite as good as that made by the woman at Baan Nitaya, but close.

Thai Green Curry Chicken

14 oz. can coconut milk  (I use the light.)
2 Tbsp green curry paste
2 fully cooked boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
2 Tbsp fish sauce
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1/4 cup thinly sliced carrots
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/3 cup chicken stock

In a large saucepan over medium heat, bring coconut milk and green curry paste to a simmer for 5 minutes. Add chicken, fish sauce, brown sugar, carrots, peas, and chicken stock and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve over brown rice.

Easy Brown Rice: Mix 1 cup brown rice (washed), 3 cups water, 1 tsp salt in a casserole dish with a heavy lid. Bake at 300 degrees for 2 hours. An added benefit is that it makes the whole house smell yummy!

As a side note: if you're into wines, a Shiraz always seems to taste great with Thai food. At least to me!


Monday, October 6, 2008

Living Below the Line

Our current economical situation has got me thinking. There's a little fear in me that the level of living I've grown accustomed to may not last. But then again, maybe that's not such a bad thing. Why do I think I deserve prosperity? Why in the world would we ever think it's our inherent right? 

On Al Mohler's blog this week he has a quote from an essay in Time Magazine:
In the case of households, debt rose from about 50% of the GDP in 1980 to a peak of 100% in 2006. In other words, households now owe as much as the entire U.S. economy can produce in a year. 

Did you catch that? In our race to keep up with the Joneses, we've borrowed our way so far into debt that we now owe as much as our entire economy can produce in a year. Families in the United States, all told, are billions of dollars in debt! And what do we have to show for it?

I just had a birthday and received a few hundred dollars in cash. I bought a few new shirts, some new pants, new shoes, a new bag... But when the money ran out, there were still things I wanted. I suppose I could have charged some things, after all I'd paid cash for most of it. But where do you stop? There's always going to be a cuter pair of shoes, a better looking pair of pants, one more kitchen gadget I just have to have...

It's sickening really. Do you know that if you are reading this post you are among the elite, the wealthiest people in the entire world? First of all, you have the education to read this post. Second, you have the time to read it. Then there's the fact that you've got a computer to read it on. But what have we done with these privileges? We've charged our way into debt up to our eyeballs because what we have is never enough.

Even as a believer, I still struggle with finding satisfaction in the created rather than in the Creator. How do I honor God with my finances? How do I find joy in Him rather that in this twisted culture we live in? Here's a few thoughts:

1. By giving - my tithe, but beyond that as to support Compassion International or Campus Crusade or to missions or to buy food for the food bank...


3. By living below our means and seeing what God wants to do with the excess.  Every now and then, can't we look at something and say, "I can, but I believe I just won't."

4. By seeking God first everyday...those carpet fibers on your forehead are a crown of beauty to our King. I pray for my soul to be crushed with longing after God's Word. (Psalm 119:20)