Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Two-Handed Gospel

Earl has taught all of us the meaning of the Gospel.
The two-handed Gospel, we call it.

"The Gospel says that . . . "

1st finger . . .

"God is the Supreme good.
2nd finger . . .

"Man is an idol worshiper.
3rd finger . . .

"Jesus is the double cure."

4th finger . . .
"faith is trusting in the promises."

5th finger . . .

"repentance is the obedience of faith."

middle finger folded down . . .

"God is sovereign over all."

Thumb folded over middle finger (making a cross)

"Jesus is a willing Savior for all."

"And that moves us to" . . . (the next hand)

1st finger . . .
"Seek God for life."

2nd finger . . .

"Serve others for their good."

3rd finger . . .

"Submit gladly to authority."

4th finger . . .

"Sacrifice in the exercise of freedom."

5th finger . . .

"Speak the truth in love."

middle finger folded down . . .

"Suffer to the glory of God."

thumb folded across middle finger (forming a cross) . .

"Show grace to the ill-deserving."

We recite this as a family almost every morning.
Even our 3-year old almost has it down.
It has been very helpful throughout our days,
and reminds me that I, as a parent,
can't expect my children to walk out the second hand,
if the heart attitudes of the first hand are missing.
So, when the actions of the second hand (or lack thereof)
are causing conflict among us,
we can go and look back at the attitudes of our hearts
and confess where we need to
and beseech a gracious God who promises
to give us what we ask for
in Jesus' name.

"Lord, have mercy on me, the sinner!"
"O wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!"

Disabled Parenting

Church was good this morning.
(Oh, there's Earl rubbing off on me again. Let me rephrase that.)
Church was completely great and just what I needed to hear this morning!
(There, that sounds more like me.)

We started our worship through the teaching of the Word by talking about parenting.
Here is Earl's definition:

Christian parenting is the divine stewardship of immature sinners by more mature sinners by the grace of God through faithfulness to the revealed will of God (Word) for the glory of Jesus Christ and the eternal good of the children's souls.

I am a disabled parent.
I am disabled by sin.
I am a sinful parent walking through each day.
My sin disables me from loving perfectly.
It disables me from having a biblical perspective and practice.

A Gospel-centered perspective focuses on the imputation of Christ's righteousness and looks away from my failure to love God and man perfectly and look to Jesus' righteousness of perfectly loving God and man all the way to the cross . . . as a sinful parent.

A Gospel-centered perspective also focuses on the obedience of faith and does the hard thing (obedience) while trusting God for the good thing (His promises) . . . as a disabled parent.

Seeing myself as "disabled" by sin,
helps me to avoid "pharisaical parenting".
In Luke 18:9-12 we see a man who trusted in himself
and viewed others with contempt.
He did not see his own sin.
When I am blind to my own disease of sin,
but well aware of my children's sin areas,
I lose my ability to parent with compassion and empathy.
I must remind myself that in a real sense,
I am in the same boat as they are,
(though farther ahead - maturity)
wrestling with indwelling sin and the weight of the law,
and in need of a Savior and Redeemer.

The place of humility brings grace,
and Christian parenting takes the grace of God.

More about what "Christian parenting" is later.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

I look to the hills . . .

When we were in Williams, we took an evening and walked around a cemetery.
The lighting was perfect and I got some pictures that have ministered to me.
My mind has been focused on the cross lately.
And on my Redeemer.
And on my righteousness.
And on His righteousness.
I have been longing for Home.

I was at a conference last weekend at John MacArthur's church.
It was entitled Women Discipling Women
and it was all about Biblical Counseling.
Martha Peace and Elyse Fitzpatrick were just two of the wonderful women speakers.
One thing that Elyse said that really got my attention was something to
the effect that
we all long to lie in bed at night and be able to rest in our own righteousness. Our natural man is wired that way. In my brain it sounds like,
"Lord, I just want to end the day being able to say
that I did well,
so You'll be proud of me (and I can be proud of me),
but instead all I see are my mistakes and short-failings,
and I feel so unworthy to come to You."

Oh, if I really understood the concept of "righteousness" and God's standard, I would NEVER want to stand in my own righteousness.
It is a constant fight to remind myself that I have no righteousness of my own,
but that Jesus has lived a perfect life (the one I long to live but can't!),
taken the punishment that I deserve for failing to be perfect,
and given me His record of perfect obedience.
Imputed righteousness.
That's what I want to rest in.
When I see my sin, I get discouraged.
I feel myself falling into the pit of self-pity,
and self-loathing.
That is to stand in the place of pride,
and therefore to miss the waterfall of grace
that our Lord promises to those who stand in the place of humility:
"Lord, have mercy on me, the sinner!"
That is not "adorning the Gospel".
As a child of God,
live in the reality of Christ's imputed righteousness for me.
"Lord, have mercy!"
"Save me from myself!"
"Revive me according to Your righteousness,
'cause my own is drowning me in the sea of despair!"
I must stand on the promises, and
lift my eyes to the hills,
from whence cometh my help.

"I will glory in my Redeemer,
His faithfulness, my standing place."

Monday, July 21, 2008

Coast Community Church

This year, marks 12 years that Earl has been pastor at Coast Community Church. We love our church! We met for about 6 years at another facility on Saturday nights, 'cause that was what the Lord provided for us when Fountain Valley School District sold the land that we were leasing. Now we have been meeting at an elementary school on Sunday mornings for over a year. We love our Sundays.

Earl teaches a "Pastor's Class" at 9:00 a.m. Right now, he is teaching on parenting out of Ephesians 5. He has already spoken on wives, and husbands. We break for 1/2 an hour and then at 10:30 he is preaching through Romans. So good!

During the 9:00 hour, our children are in Sunday School classes. This is our 4-8 year old's class. Molly and Annie are both in this class.
They sing, recite the Westminster Shorter Catechism, and are taught the Scriptures.

Some men from our body lead the 8-12 year olds. They too are going through the Westminster Shorter Catechism and learning more in depth about the doctrines of our faith. Emily and David are in this class.

Then we have a nursery and 2's and 3's class. The goal of this class is to introduce them to the Catechism, and get them ready to sit through the worship service while playing with them, reading to them, singing with them, and sharing the wonderful truths of Scripture with them.
These little ones are in their class for the entire morning, whereas the older students (4+) are in the worship service with the adults, learning to worship through song and through listening to the Word preached. Our Jonathan has one more year in this class. Then I will have all 5 of them with me during the service!

After the worship service, we have time to mingle with our friends and catch up on the week.
We end about 12 ish and have until about 1 pm before we have to be out of the Multi Purpose room.

Then it's time to break down all the equipment and diligently load up the trailer which is parked on the side of our house during the week.
I am really impressed with all the young men who faithfully serve in this area week after week. God has blessed Coast with many faithful servants!

Then, it's Jonathan's favorite time of the day.
Lunch time!
We have use of the grounds all day and so many families bring their lunch, or go and buy it and bring it back, so they can spend the afternoon fellowshipping and enjoying the ministry of the Body to a greater degree.

Many of us find solace and refreshment under the shade trees.
It is a sweet time of fellowship and a very restful afternoon.

We also have shaded picnic tables available.

After lunch, it's PLAY TIME!
During the summer and warm months, the youth (and those eternally young souls)
gather on the field for a game of soccer or Capture the Flag, or football.
One of our young men is faithful to lead them in prayer for safety and godly attitudes, etc. I especially love how the older youth involve and welcome the younger kids. This is Emily and David's favorite time of the day!

It is also a time for mentoring and discipleship and passing along other skills.

Earl seldom eats with us, as his day is mainly spent talking and listening.

Our family has been staying until about 4 pm these days. It is a long, fun, relaxing day for all (well, fun for the kids and I anyway.)
Earl gets home after locking up the grounds between 5:00 and 6:00 pm. He is usually exhausted and tries to get a quick rest in before dinner.

We love our days at Coast.
We love the teaching and preaching. (big smile)
We love our friends.
We love seeing the people working out their salvation along with us.
We love seeing the Body of Christ caring for one another.
We love the privilege of being involved in the lives of those at Coast.
We love sharing the common bond of a passionate love for the King and worshipping Him in all that we say, think and do.

Living for His glory . . .
Learning about His grace . . .
Empowered by His righteousness . . .
Standing on His promises . . .
Growing in holiness . . .
Walking in His joy and peace.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A Rest For His People, Part 2

Well, our time in Williams came to a close.
We sure enjoyed all the sights and sounds of small town, America.
Check out this cowboy who greeted us as we drove up the main street.

Before leaving, the kids each picked out a special "Arizona fabric" to bring home with which to make their vacation scrapbooks.
We're looking forward to some fun family nights putting those together and remembering back on all our fun.

We left Friday morning and drove along enjoying the last remaining vestiges of "elevation" and pine trees
before entering the desert later.

We stopped and enjoyed a lovely lookout spot, and looked at all of the hand-made Indian jewelry.
We took some pictures . . .

and stretched our legs!

We drove through beautiful Sedona

and then stopped and had some lunch.
It was hot, but not too bad.

After lunch we drove on into Phoenix where we were to stop and visit with
some dear friends for a little while.
As we pulled up to the guard gate, our tire decided it had had enough of the heat and hard work
and gave out.

So, while Earl and Dick changed the tire in the 112 degree heat, the kids and I refreshed ourselves with lemonade and chocolate chip cookies out by the pool.
It was truly a wonderful experience after driving through the heat and being cramped in the car.
But, it was hard for me to completely relax 'cause I wanted so bad to be with Earl encouraging him or bringing him something cold to drink,
but we had no car.
Neither did Laurann.
How good the Lord was though,
that we weren't stranded on the highway somewhere!
We continued to be amazed at His provision and loving care of us.

Dick and Laurann Cook were neighbors of mine while I was growing up. She used to feed my sister and I (and other neighbors) milk and cookies after school before she had children of her own. I babysit for her beginning when I was 12 years old. It was nice. They were right next door. Lots of memories. I remember she ALWAYS paid me way too much and had the best snacks available. (smile!!)

Thank you, Dick and Laurann for your incredible hospitality in your lovely home that day! It was wonderful to catch up a bit. We were incredibly blessed.
And the cold water lasted all the way to Tucson!

Coming up next . . .
We arrive in Tucson for the last stop on our adventure.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Had a Happy 4th!

Yesterday, our family went to the annual Huntington Beach parade. We've done it almost every year since Em and David were very young.
It's very "small town".

It can be silly.

But it's a lot of fun.

Earl wants to comment on this year's photos too,
so I'm going to turn
the keyboard over to him.
(His comments will be in blue!)

There were lots of boy scouts and Indian guys.
Their outfits can be quite elaborate!

There are some outfits that inspire (or require)
a stern look of determination.

This guy was cool! He even jumped through it.
Quite the performer! (David loved him!)

Orange County rush hour traffic as the gas crunch leads men to creative alternatives ...
although I'm not sure the top hat is very aerodynamic.

I love the marching bands and there were some really professional looking ones this year.

So this is what a bad economy can do to our mighty military ...
couldn't they at least provide


There are always lots of "soldiers" and military vets in this parade.
I always have to make sure that I have my sunglasses with me,
'cause I always get "emotional".
Everyone stands
(I got this picture seconds before everyone

stood up in front of me!).
And applauds.
And says, "Thank you!"
It is such a picture of honor.
And gratitude.
And I love seeing it after hearing SO MUCH negativity in the media.
Yes, the majority of people are still
glad to be AMERICANS!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

A Rest For His People, Part 1

I have always loved the above verse. God has placed eternity in my heart and this body groans to be with the Bridegoom!
But until that 'eternal rest', He graciously provides me with opportunities to get away from it all and rest awhile.
The above picture was taken in Williams, AZ while our son David was having a lesson in "bull whipping". Yeah. We had some pretty fun experiences!

Earl very skillfully loaded up our trusty van

and we all hopped in with excited anticipations of what was to come (I think for our children those anticipations centered around the "vacation treats" they knew were packed in the back just awaiting our "snack stop".)
Our plans to stop at some "lovely rest area" to eat lunch and save money and get some exercise, quickly melted away when the realization came that we were driving through desert and 112 degree heat and 40 mph winds. Uggghhh!
Denny's here we come!!
We arrived in Williams, AZ about 7pm that first night.
Our days there were spent riding the train up to see the Grand Canyon,

Meeting cowboys,

shopping for souveniers, (David bought a new cap gun, holster, and an arrow head for a friend. Emily bought a necklace and bracelet. Molly and Annie bought Indian dolls and rings.)

and horseback riding through beautiful pine trees while this mom stayed back in the hotel reading while Annie and Jonathan got MUCH needed naps
(Earl got some gorgeous shots with our Kodak.
He even got some horse poop shots and one of his silhouette!).

When the horse riders got back to the hotel, we walked across the street to an old-fashioned soda fountain shop and had ice cream.

Some of us TRIED to stay out of mischief

and we learned some new skills.

We enjoyed our time in Williams very much and the weather was perfect.
We enjoyed walking around after dinner and enjoying the "spontaneous" cowboy shows (though I will say that we did not always find their "family friendly performances" friendly to this family). We visited the local cemetery and got some good shots there as the light came filtering
down through the pines before dusk.

All in all, we were amazed as we gazed on God's creation and took in the grandeur and majesty of the Grand Canyon. It truly was breath-taking!
We enjoyed being together and not having a schedule.
We enjoyed reading together in the evenings in the hotel,
and listening to the radio dramas of The Chronicles of Narnia while driving around.
We enjoyed meeting new people and hearing their stories.

We left Williams and drove down to Tucson for the next half of our trip.
So . . . this narrative will be continued.

P.S. I really want to "blog" more of what God was doing in my heart throughout our trip, but first need to get the narrative and pictures up. So, much more to come over the next few months I'm sure.
Stay Tuned!

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