Billboards & Cotton Candy

I’ve really been thinking about culture’s influence on Christianity. When I drive home from work every day, billboards scream at me left and right (I don’t notice them in the morning because I’m just waking up). The “me’s” and the “you’s” shouting from the billboards make it difficult not to think about what I want or deserve. I guess I really do need an exotic vacation, a million dollars, and the perfect body.

Many pastors today preach right along with the billboards: “You can have it all now.” “Believe in yourself.” “God wants to bless you.” “God wants to make you rich.” The focus is drenched on man, but very little attention is upon God. This kind of teaching feels so good. It tickles my ears. I begin to think there really is so much greatness in me if I just tap into it. It even tastes like cotton candy but in the end, it bites me with a bitter, awful taste.

The truth is that living a life committed to Jesus Christ is far from this sugar-coated mentality of “Jesus wants to bless me and I am so great.” True Christianity calls me to a life of surrender (giving away my life), sacrifice, hardship, humility, loss, pain, and more. Yes, God does promise blessing and joy when I live life in Him and I am the first to say I experience his fullness every day, but he also tells me that above all else my heart is deceitfully wicked and apart from Him, I can do nothing.

This message is very conflicting with the message we hear in culture and even in churches today. And I might be lucky if I catch these words on a billboard. I have to constantly examine what my eyes and ears are taking in and line it up with Scripture.

Do you think many churches are teaching a false gospel? How has cultured shaped your view on true Christianity?

Attacking Our Debt-Snowball

“You’ll always have a car payment,” was a comment I heard from someone a few weeks ago. I really thought about how sadly mistaken this lady was but that I thought this once too (prior to Dave Ramsey). I was amazed at how much my mindset had changed. Her comment was strange to me because we were about to finish paying off our 2002 Nissan Pathfinder. With all our credit cards paid off, we have attacked our next debt: my car. Living on the cash system only plan, and banking everything else, we were able to pay off $5,000 in the past few months.

Well the day has finally come and this morning we were able to pay it all off! My car payment is now gone. No more. Now, we have student loans and my husband’s car payment left and we will be debt free (all this totals around 25k or so). It’s hard to believe we no longer have a car payment. It feels so freeing. Jeremiah said he felt as if a huge burden had been released. I was so happy for him too because he’s been ready to attack this just as much as I have. Getting our finances straight has been a huge blessing to our marriage as well, in so many ways…

I don’t know where you’re at in your finances (there’s probably a reason why you’re reading a post on finances), but always think about where you could be and set goals to get there. Don’t allow anyone to discourage you (because there will always be those kind of people you know who say “You’ll always… blah blah blah).

I’d love to hear ways your mindset has changed in regards to finances. Are you hoping to not have a car payment one day? What things have others told you that you might have taken to heart, but knew that it wasn’t really true?

IT’S A…

 BOY! We found out last Tuesday, June 3 that we’re having a baby boy- our heart’s desire. I had always wanted a boy and it’s so neat that God is going to be giving us just that. Our ultra-sound tech went through all the parts of the baby to make sure they were good and healthy. Our hearts were beating so fast because we couldn’t wait to hear what she would say. Finally, she asked us if we wanted to know what it was.

We both said, “YES!” She smiled and said you have yourselves a little boy! I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t stop smiling the whole day. Seeing all the intricate parts of him inside me was so amazing. He was sleeping when the tech was looking at all his parts, but he finally started to wave a little when she moved my belly more firmly. I couldn’t believe he could sleep with all that was going on.

It was such a precious, surreal moment. That night I baked a cake with blue icing and our best friends here in Dallas, Jay and Julia celebrated with us and decorated it with sail boats. They also bought us pacifiers (I got teary eyed when opening them up), bottles, and an adorable newborn outfit. It really began to hit then and it’s hitting more and more now that I’ve outgrown my clothes and should start gaining a pound a week.

I definitely have fears about being a “Mommy” and bringing a new life into the world. I have fears about the responsibility and what it will be like. I know these are probably natural though and my prayer is that I will continue to learn and grow through this pregnancy and be all that I need to be for this precious life.

We’re at the 21st week- half way there. And baby boy Krieger is due to arrive in this world on October 17- give or take. Will he arrive on Jeremiah’s birthday, the 20th? We’ll see.

Prayer for Steven Curtis Chapman & Family

I woke up to K-love this morning and they revealed the tragic news today about Steven Curtis Chapman’s youngest adopted daughter. You can view the article on Fox here.

I remember Steven C. Chapman since the very beginning of Contemporary Christian Music. He has stayed the course the whole way and continues to write powerful songs for his audience. His latest song, Cinderella, is very special and is about his daughters. My heart goes out to the Chapman family during this time and I know many people will be lifting them up in prayer as well.

Paul in Rome Writing Project

 I was asked today by Phil, our director of production and Jackie, our Senior producer if I would write the leader’s guide curriculum that goes with our upcoming video series on the Life of Paul in Rome with teaching from David Nasser. The study is geared for youth and will release August 1.

I feel very honored and humbled to have the opportunity to write on this video series and reach teens in this way. One, I love that it is based in Rome and is about the life of Paul. Two, I am a huge fan of David Nasser. He spoke often at Liberty University when I was a student there and the Lord always used him to speak to me. I also love that he is scripturally-focused and has a heart for the next generation. Third, of course I love that Bluefish is behind it all. Our producers have worked really hard on it.

I am excited to start plugging away at this in the upcoming weeks.

 

Filming Youth Series w/ Sean McDowell & Marcus Goodloe

This past week, I enjoyed talking to Phil about his recent trip to LA to film two separate series for our upcoming youth ministry kit.

Phil and Josh filmed Marcus Goodloe aka “Goodie,” in a downtown loft in LA. He taught on the upcoming youth series called Choices. Goodie is on staff at Mosaic with Erwin McManus and has a passion for leadership training, particularly to youth and young adults. I really love that we get to partner with such creative and brilliant leaders there at Mosaic.

Sean McDowell was also a part of the upcoming series. He encouraged teens in the series called Friends, which was filmed at Capistrano Valley Christian Schools. Sean actually teaches “Apologetics 101” and “Old Testament Survey” there.

I smiled at Phil when he said that he and Josh managed to fit in a Dodger’s game (actually I got a little jealous). Phil and Josh hung out at the game with Chris Seay from Ecclesia Church and Eric Bryant from Mosaic (author of Peppermint Filled Pinatas). They also ate good Mexican food at the same place Richard Nixon used to dine.

I’m really looking forward to the upcoming 2009 Youth Ministry kit. We have some awesome leaders lined up for the teaching and some really impacting interviews from teens. The kit will release August 1 so you can keep an eye out for it at bluefishtv.com.

 

Remembering Dr. Jerry Falwell

Today marks the one year anniversary of Dr. Falwell’s death. It’s so hard to believe one year has already gone by. I remember the funeral like it was yesterday. Jeremiah and I flew from TX to VA. We were interviewed twice by reporters in Lynchburg and for CNN. It was such a surreal time and so hard to grasp the reality. We were in shock for several weeks. Still today, it’s hard to believe.

Dr. Falwell’s legacy will continue on in our hearts just as I told CNN. He founded Liberty University with the purpose of raising up Champions for Christ. He had a mission to fulfill on this earth and he accomplished more in a lifetime than a person could in one year. I really got to know Dr. Falwell better when Jeremiah took care of him in the hospital in March 2005. Jeremiah was his nurse. They would watch LU basketball together and Jeremiah would bring him hot chocolate at his request. For a seminary class assignment, I was able to go up to his room and interview him (we still have the recording). I saw him in his hospital gown with his wife, Masel. He was the first to say he would marry me and Jeremiah. We took him up on his offer and in December he married us.

He remembered our names where we were from and he always had an encouraging word. He truly loved people and those who rubbed shoulders with him the most, knew he did. He was a man of great faith and inspired multitudes, many of which we have no idea. He inspired my entire family and my Dad in his new faith. He invested in his family, college students, Liberty University, Thomas Road, the Liberty Godparent home, politics and so much more. My college experience was what it was because of his influence. Liberty changed my life and changed countless of my friends’ lives.

What a joy to know today that he is with Jesus- with the One we’ve all been waiting for. He is missed greatly, but his legacy will continue on in the hearts of those who really knew him. Thank you, God, for using Dr. Falwell in my life. How has Dr. Falwell influenced yours?

Brian Mosley named EVP of Product Development

In 2000, Brian came on board at Bluefish excited to use his radio/television/film degree to communicate biblical truth. At this time, he also founded the RightNow Campaign to help our generation use their gifts and passions to do something significant right now. Since then, Brian has established a network of 75 mission agencies and service organizations to partner with RightNow and has connected over 2,000 opportunities to make a difference in the world.

This Spring, Brian Mosley was named Executive Vice President of Product Development. He leads a team of two writers, two graphic designers, and eight video producers who create all the video resources Bluefish creates each year. To date, over 93,000 churches have used at least one Bluefish TV resource.

“I enjoy being behind the scenes shaping part of the message without being the person who delivers it. In a society where there are more screens (TV and computer) than people, we love using those screens to encourage people to live out their faith. I love that I get to work with such a creative and passionate team,” says Brian.

Brian anticipates many exciting opportunities for the Product Development team as they continue to expand and produce new resources.

Insider: What Guys are Thinking & Why You Need to Know

 I just received several copies of the bookzine I contributed to with LifeWay. It’s called Insider: What Guys are Thinking and Why You Need to Know by Shaunti Feldhahn and Lisa Rice (based on the book: For Young Women Only). I contributed the article: Avoiding Digital Dangers. My main points for teen girls to consider when they’re online were: Say no to excessive digital doses, peel off the masks, guard from infatuation, and your relationship with God trumps everything. You may just have to purchase the book to read further. Feel free to contact me if you’d like to see the article. Teens using wisdom on the internet is a huge passion of mine and I’d be glad to offer any advice.

This bookzine also highlights everything young girls need to know about the male mind and the importance of purity and modesty. It’s great to bring along for your summer vacations. You can also check out Shaunti’s website for more resources and lifeway.com.

When We Blow It

I go through times when I really blow it. Either I’m angry, selfish, frustrated, impatient, hateful, and just a real jerk. (Am I the only one here with this problem?) In marriage, I see these moments of “blowing it” come out the most because my husband sees every speck of dirt in my life- that others may not see. But he also sees the gems and the moments when I am obedient to God’s Spirit and there is harmony.

It is in these times of screwing up, that I sense God’s unfathomable grace more and more. Grace is something I am only touching the surface of. Why does he love a sinner like me? He came to die on the cross for my sins way before I was born and had the chance to steal candy from the drug store- when I was four years old. He died for the wretchedness that is in me and he now calls me to live for righteousness instead. What a divine rescuing!

The grace He has for all of us when we blow it, is truly a gift and is precious- it really is Amazing Grace. At any time God could pour his wrath out upon us, but he chooses instead to withhold it. He beckons us to come near to Him and choose LIFE…not death. It is always when we look at ourselves and what we can do on our own that we fail. It is when we surrender and give our life to Him that we find our life. These truths are hard to even describe.

Does anyone else resonate with this?

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