Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Plethora of Pictures

Some of the most delicious carrot cake from a cafe in Fulshear!

The sun through the trees

Marcelina helping us make dinner

Backyard flowers

Tree in our backyard.  At one time we thought it would be a fun place for future kiddos to play, then we discovered there might be snakes.


One flower

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Gossip: Reflections on Murder

"You shall not murder."  Exodus 20:13

"You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.'  But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment...But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell." Matthew 5:21-22

This last Sunday I lead the youth in a discussion about the sixth commandment, 'You shall not murder.'  It seems simple enough in theory.  Most people look at such a command and think, 'I'm doing pretty good, haven't killed anyone recently', and most of the time when confronted with news stories about brutal murders or the issue of abortion, my sense of righteous anger and justice are excited.  How could anyone do x, y, z?  I wonder.  It's so inhuman!

But then, I'm confronted with the words of Christ in Matthew.  He doesn't let me off the hook.  In fact, He digs deeper into the heart and reveals to me just how wickedly sinful I am.  He says that if I am angry with someone, if I call them a name, then I am a murderer in the eyes of God.  Wow!  Hold the phone!  A murderer?  Sweet and innocent Courtney?  (For the record, if you're thinking this you clearly don't know me as well as you think you do.)  The answer to this question of course is a resounding yes.

The fact is, at the heart of my anger and my name calling is a heart that is not valuing human life!  And is that not what murder is?  Devaluing life?  Talk about convicting.

One of the pastor's wives furthered my conviction when she mentioned gossip as a topic heavily addressed in the bible.  I didn't realize this right away, but later on that day I considered the fact that gossip, like hate, is just one more way of devaluating human life!  Gossip has, at its heart, the same sinful attitude as murder.  We cannot escape it.  It puts us first, others second, and maybe God third.  It say, "I am infinitely superior to everyone around me, and I place value on what I will place value."  This leaves absolutely no room for us to think well of ourselves, and that's the point!  That was Jesus' point.  He did not come to the world to raise our self-esteem, He came to the world to give us a new nature, to satisfy the wrath that we deserved, and to grant us a right relationship with God.

It is this kind of grace that knocks the wind out of me and leaves me speechless.  I pray it does you too.

Monday, March 14, 2011

In Tragedy

Amidst tragedy we have a great and good God.  Amidst tragedy we have hope.  Amidst tragedy we can come together as the body of Christ and show the world what it means to be one in Spirit and in truth.  Amidst tragedy the kingdom of God is advanced.  Amidst tragedy we cling less to the things of this world and more to its creator.  Amidst tragedy God is glorified through His people.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Cowtown Run Photos

These must have been taken near the end of the race because I look pretty wiped, but I'm glad to have some pictures of me running now!

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Cant? Or Won't?

Driving home tonight, completely beat and rather wobbily, I could only think of how nice it would be to live less than twenty minutes from Katy. Fulshear really isn't in the middle of nowhere, but often times a twenty minute drive feels that way, especially when you are exhausted. Most of this, admittedly, is my own fault but that realization never improves my attitude and in fact, it typically makes it worse. This of course, was my emotional state when I got behind a five belower. Never heard of one of those? It's a person who insists on driving five below the speed limit when there is no traffic in sight and nothing between them and the open road but some obvious rancor towards you, the exhausted person behind them (you see the problem with my attitude emerging already -- clearly I am the center of the universe and everyone's minds... insert eye roll here___). So I get stuck behind this five belower on a one way road with little opportunity to pass them when a thought enters my mind in the form of a "prayer". It goes something like "Lord, please speed them up, I can't handle this."

Really? Can't handle it? Now in a way, there is some theological truth to this statement. Left to myself, with no outside help, I can't choose to put up with a horrific (read minor) annoyance, and am a slave to my tired emotions. But this, of course, is not the case. As a child of God trusting in the finished work of Christ on my behalf (and on behalf of all those He loves) I am not left to myself. I have a power established inside of me that enables me to do that which my sinful nature would never choose to do! Therefore, when I decide to react badly, sinfully to a certain situation, it isn't that I couldn't act in the right way, it's that I wouldn't. I need to do what Paul encourages in Philippians 1:12-14 and to "work out [my] own salvation in fear and trembling, for it is God who works in [us], both to will and to work for His good pleasure."

It's an odd tension, knowing both that God is the One willing us to do good and that it is our responsibility to work, but it is there very clearly in scripture. Maybe it is a little like eating good food. The nutrients strengthen you to do the work, but if you don't actually get up and run you will never accomplish your goal. All analogies break down at a point but you understand my meaning. Pray for the strength to obey, then go an do it whether you understand it or not.

"Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgements and how inscrutable His ways! 'For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been His counselor? Or who has given a gift to Him that He might be repaid?' For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever. Amen." Romans 11:33-36