Sunday, May 28, 2006

New Attitude is Now


Stop by the Na Blog to read and see all that's happening right now in Louisville, KY.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Fulfilled as a Wife and Mother

The following story is from a wonderful lady in our church named Kelly. She's married to Isaac Hydoski who is one of our singles pastors. Kelly shared this on Mothers' Day, and I found it very encouraging.

It is a pleasure to be able to share with you a story of God’s grace and mercy today. If anyone had told me ten years ago that I would one day be on this stage sharing a testimony on the high calling of wife and mother, I would have thought they were a little crazy. You see, although I was very fortunate to be raised by a mother who valued these roles highly and instilled the same appreciation in me, I very quickly encountered a culture that would instruct me otherwise. From an early age, I can remember being bombarded with messages at school, in the media, and through acquaintances that being a wife and mom was “nice”, but wasn’t enough. In order to truly contribute to society I had to also pursue a successful career. This led to years of confusion about how to reconcile the two. I recall one occasion in high school when I was discussing future career plans with my Physics professor- I was explaining how I planned to pursue a career in medicine- he actually laughed at me and said “You? No, you’ll get married, have a couple of kids and forget about that.” Having been a Christian for about all of two months, my response was somewhat less than humble. I squinted at him, pointing, and firmly replied that he was wrong- one day I would see him at our high school reunion and that he would call me by the title “Dr.”. Not my finest moment!

Well, let’s fast-forward a few years to 1997. By this time I was married, a member of Covenant Life, and I had been accepted to Veterinary School in Blacksburg, VA. God had definitely blessed my pursuit of this goal. Isaac and I had prayerfully considered the Lord’s will throughout the preparation and application process; however, He also had other plans for us. Shortly after we received news of my acceptance, the Lord laid it upon my husband’s heart that He wanted us to stay here, rather than relocate, to continue investing in this local church. I cannot express to you how grateful I am to the pastors and members of Covenant Life Church- for the sound teaching we had received, the godly examples we had witnessed, and the personal care we experienced that really prepared us for this difficult decision. It was not easy to set aside aspirations I had held dear since I was a little girl, however, God mercifully and gently led me to lay down what the world would consider as worthwhile, a respected profession, for what it would consider as foolishness, greater involvement in our Church. I have never regretted this decision. Isaac and I experienced more growth, both personally and in our marriage, that following year than we had the entire three and a half years prior. I am so thankful that my husband was faithful to lead our family in prioritizing spiritual growth over temporal gain.

In the spring of 2000, Kenneth Maresco approached Isaac and asked him to consider attending the Pastor’s College the following fall. By God’s grace I was able to secure a position with a large Pharmaceutical company as a Sale’s Representative, which was slightly more lucrative than the one I currently held, in order to meet our needs while he devoted himself to full-time study. Over the next three years, God gave me much favor while in this vocation- I was asked to assume increasing responsibilities and leadership roles, and was being groomed for promotion that led to a very successful and financially generous career path. I mention this not to draw attention to myself, but to God and His kindness. In the spring of 2003, Isaac and I discerned the Lord leading that it was time for me to transition from supporting him in the workplace to fully supporting him at home. This did cause quite a stir at my job; most people did not understand why we would make such a choice, but I had the awesome privilege of seeing the Gospel proclaimed to many coworkers as a result of this decision. One of my teammates, a Muslim from India, expressed his surprise and encouragement that an American woman would desire to focus her time and energy on the home as opposed to on personal advancement at work; this presented a perfect chance to explain that my decision was based solely on my faith as a Christian and to discuss the hope I have in Christ, as a result of His sacrifice on the Cross, both with him and another member of our team present at the time. I am still humbled and amazed that God sovereignly arranged numerous such meaningful conversations.

In October of 2004, Isaac and I were blessed with the arrival of our oldest son, KJ. In September of this year, we are eagerly anticipating the arrival of another son, Owen Tate. I am amazed at the joy I have received being able to stay home with KJ and look forward to the same with Owen. I have been asked at various times, “Do you miss working, the money, and do you ever think of going back? “ I am grateful to God that my honest answer is “No”. A hundred times the salary I was making is not worth the smile I see on my son’s face every morning or the contentment and happiness I have found in serving my husband and child on a daily basis at home. What could be of more value to society that the opportunity to invest for eternity in the life of this precious little boy that God has graciously gifted us with? Every diaper, meal, load of laundry, sleep-deprived night, or child-training opportunity may not always feel like important Gospel work, but feelings lie and God’s Word does not. So, are just being a wife and mother enough? Oh yes, more than enough- in God’s eyes and in my own.

I must admit, I still do look forward to attending my high school reunion in a few years, and I do hope to see my Physics professor- not so I can arrogantly demand respect for a title, but so I can tell him that he was right- I did forgo career ambitions to invest in my God-given role as a wife and mother- and that decision has brought me more fulfillment than I could have ever hoped for or imagined.

So, as I stand here before you today, on the one day a year our culture celebrates motherhood, my prayer is that every Mom present would experience a sense of God’s delight in the vital investment you are making every day in the lives of your children. Thank you and Happy Mother’s Day.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Back From Seattle



I spent the past week in Seattle at Mark Driscoll's Reform and Resurge conference for pastors. Six of us flew out early Tuesday and returned via red-eye on Thursday night. (Lord willing, I will never fly a red-eye flight again in my life. I felt like death warmed over when we stepped off that flight.)

We really enjoyed our time. It's been several years since I've been to Seattle and I'd forgotten what a gorgeous city it is. The combination of water, city skyline and mountain ranges is incredible. We spent a good bit of time at the famous public market. The picture was taken there (L-R, Kenneth Maresco, Corby Megorden, Grant Layman, Eric Simmons, Me and Brian Chesemore). The highlight of the trip was spending time with these men. I am so blessed to serve God with my dearest friends. There are no men that I respect more. And, boy, do we have a good time together.


I enjoyed the conference. It was fun seeing Mars Hill, the church I've read and heard so much about, for myself. (The photo is from the final evening during worship.) I was impressed with the kindness and servant-heartedness of everyone on staff that I met. It was also great getting to hear Tim Keller and Mark Driscoll preach in person. On Tuesday Mark hosted a dinner at his house for all the Acts 29 pastors and their wives which I enjoyed. It was great meeting men with a common zeal to spread the gospel and build Christ-exalting local churches. There is definitely a lot of energy and excitement in this young movement of churches.

My message, entitled "Humble Orthodoxy" was from 2 Timothy 2:14-26. Foolishblog, provides a succinct summary of the message. I pray God used it to encourage the people gathered.

I closed the message with the following quote from Mark Dever, pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church. He originally shared it on the Together for the Gospel blog. I share it here for your encouragement:
“What we need is humble theology—theology which submits itself to the truth of God's Word. “Liberal” theology—theology which does not view Scripture as finally trustworthy and authoritative—is not humble before the Word. Churches which are tentative and decry dogmatism may sound humble, but it is not truly humble to do anything other than to submit to God's Word. Christian humility is to simply accept whatever God has revealed in His Word. Humility is following God's Word wherever it goes, as far as it goes, neither going beyond it nor stopping short of it. The humility we want in our churches is to read the Bible and believe it—everything God has said, dogmatically, and humbly! It is not humble to be hesitant where God has been clear and plain.”
Amen. May God give us courage to humbly believe and obey his word.

For those interested in the messages, Resurgence will be podcasting the messages (I believe both audio and video) in the days to come.

Your Feedback: Any Seattle natives reading? I'd love to hear from you. And any pastors at the conference, feel free to share your perspective of the event, too. Finally, give me your thoughts on the Dever quote. Have you encountered the seeming humility of uncertainty that is so popular these days? I hope to hear from you.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

This Just in: Davinci Code is Fiction!

Tomorrow our church has the privilege of hosting, Dr. Al Mohler. He's coming to give a message on the "controversy" surrounding Dan Brown's book The Davinci Code and the soon-to-be-released movie based on the best-selling book.

The other day I read a short interview with Tom Hanks about the movie. When asked about the controversy he made a statement emphasizing the fact that it was utter fiction. Of course this is obvious. But it also seems obvious to me that Mr. Hanks would probably never touch a movie based on a fictional story that so misrepresented and essentially slandered any other person or group. Would he star in a film that distorted history and facts to tell the story of Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr. or a well-known homosexual? Could he get away excusing it all as fiction?

But let's talk about the real problem with this movie: Tom Hank's hair. Seriously, this is something people are actually talking about. One news outlet reported:
There are worries in Hollywood that Tom Hanks' hair may be a buzz kill for 'The Da Vinci Code.'

Studio insiders are reportedly worried that the Oscar winner's strange looking "bowl cut" will put audiences off. Could it actually dissuade audiences from flocking to see Ron Howard and Brian Grazer's new $125 million blockbuster?

Hanks has gone for a radical "hair make-over" in an attempt to look like a historical academic. But the new look raised eyebrows when trailers for 'The Da Vinci Code' hit theaters recently. Not since his marathon running sequence in 'Forrest Gump' have his locks been so long and unkempt. Is it too unattractive, especially for young audiences?
A "buzz kill"! Pretty funny. I think someone should write a conspiracy theory book about what would possess a seemingly intelligent man like, Mr. Hanks to let them do that to his hair. Maybe God is orchestrating all this. We've been praying He would protect people from the inaccuracies of the film and so he worked out a big ole buzz kill—the ultimate bad hair day for poor Tom.

Alright, I'm venting a bit here. I know I'm supposed to be grateful for the opportunity the book and movie give to Christians to share our faith and defend the veracity of scripture and deity of Christ. And may God use us for this purpose! But honestly, I'm just so tired of the Davinci Code. I'm weary of the hubbub about it.

But in case you're not weary, here's a link to a HUGE COLLECTION of Davinci Code related articles and papers. If you haven't had enough, or if you've got a friend struggling with questions you're sure to find help here.

Here are a couple questions for you: Has this book and movie given you opportunities to share the gospel with anyone? And do you know anyone who has been unsettled by or convinced by the ideas in the Davinci Code? Also do you plan to see the movie yourself? Please feel free to comment.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Together for the Gospel

This past week our pastoral team, along with all the pastors in Sovereign Grace, attended the pastors conference called Together for the Gospel which was hosted by four men: CJ Mahaney, Mark Dever, Ligon Duncan and Al Mohler. These men spoke along with John Piper, RC Sproul and John MacArthur.

There were 3,000 pastors from across the country and many different denominations. It is no exaggeration to describe this event as both historic and anointed by God’s Spirit. I can’t do justice to describing the effect of sitting under the teaching of these world-class leaders as they exhorted us to faithfully preach God’s word and proclaim the gospel. But beyond their teaching, it was moving to witness them come together in celebration and defense of the gospel.

It was also deeply moving to be with so many brothers from around the country who are devoting their lives to proclaim Christ and Him crucified. To sit with them, talk with them, and sing with them was a joy.

But my greatest joy was seeing God use my dear friend, CJ Mahaney. He passed on the leadership of our church to me so that he could be free to serve God in new ways. What a thrill to see at this momentous event some of the "new ways" he is being used.

CJ just did an outstanding job. His leadership and participation was essential. His example of humility, his passion for the Savior and his teaching deeply effected all the men present. And he added some much needed humor.

The following is a letter I emailed CJ after the conference. One brief note of explanation: before his session, CJ, with his typical self-deprecating humor told the story of the pilot of a Cessna airplane finding himself on an airport runway with one of the huge Concord planes. When it took off, the ground shook. CJ said that with each of the previous speakers, we'd experienced Concords taking off, but his own session was like that little Cessna puttering into the sky. Knowing this will explain what I reference at the close of the letter...

My friend, my mentor, my hero and my pastor:

I am so proud of you. I am bursting with gratefulness to God for you, for your example for the job you did at the conference, for the outstanding message you gave.

I just want you to know that you preached so faithfully, there was obvious conviction taking place throughout the room. The conference would have been incomplete without your message and without your voice throughout. You weren’t merely representing “below average” guys like me, you were caring for REAL PASTORS through your efforts.

This is the greatest encouragement I can give you: a pastor named Eric came to the conference by himself. We met him at the airport waiting in line at a restaurant and invited him to eat with me, Eric Simmons, Brian and Joe. He pastors a church of 60 in Kermit, Texas, which is in the middle of nowhere. He is alone in his work. He has no team. He loved the conference. At the end of the meal he said this:

“Tell, CJ he was a concord today...but he has the heart of a Cessna.”

That my friend is why you are so great in my eyes, but more importantly in the eyes of God. You are a concord but you walk with an awareness of your weakness and dependence on God. I hope that when you sleep tonight you will dream of what happened Sunday morning...three thousand pastors along with five of the most brilliant Christian leaders in the world on the front row, listened to their friend and faithful expositor preach the word with clarity, boldness and humility! My friend, it was not a dream! It really happened by God’s grace.

Thank you for doing this conference so that our team and all of Sov. Grace could participate. We were so well served.

With deep love and respect,

Joshua


If you're a pastor, I would highly recommend that you get ahold of the messages from the conference. They're available from the Sovereign Grace Store.

Interview for Driscoll Conference

Next week I'm flying to Seattle, Washington, with several of my fellow pastors for Mark Driscoll's Resurgence Conference for pastors.

Here's an interview I did about the conference.

If you're going to be there, please come say hello.

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