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25 February 2007

an epiphany.

Yesterday, I realized why God made beer bellies. Now, when you sit in your favorite chair with a glass of beer but can't reach to put the beer down anywhere, you can rest it on your belly. My other thought is that it could be a reminder for you to get back in the gym, but that's not as happy an idea. In truth, I'm not that bad, but I have been really wanting to post this picture.

06 February 2007

Blessings & Transforming Grace.

The following are a couple of things relative to the transformation of my mind and heart through God's grace.

Katie and I went through the membership process and signed the Membership Covenant a couple of Sundays ago, so we are now officially members of Watermark. What a blessing! I can not underscore with near enough emphasis how joyous we are to be in such a great community of saints. We are continually impressed with the intentionality and thought by which the church leadership operates and truly leads. The manner in which the church seeks to shepherd and disciple its parishioners within authentic community is both refreshing, encouraging, and challenging. Coupled with other influences and catalysts of late, this has been both the most self reflective and simultaneously outwardly community focused period I can recall. I have been consistently stretched by sermons & teachings, by friends new & old, and by my wife. This is the most I have ever felt connected with Katie as a team in our marriage. We have prospered much of late from daily conversation about what each other is reading from the Word and what God is teaching us through it and application therefrom. Moreover, we have grown so much closer through great discussions about our marriage, our community, our needs, and our trials. As such, we have been able to encourage each other in personal steps of faith, yet we have been equally challenged weekly in corporate settings through sermons and teachings, in which we regularly leave church dicussing what we learned and how we were challenged. And though that has been truly refreshing, my excitement is the result of seeing talk transition into walk. To move from the mind to the heart - words from a pulpit into actions carried out in lives - this is the gracious gift of God transforming our hearts. It has been as if I have been awakened. I never look at my watch during a sermon and I can't wait until the next week. I look forward every morning to reading through the Journey, Watermarks daily Bible reading program. I even cherish early morning Bible studies. Though I have always been active in church before, these feelings are somewhat new to me. I now have my eyes opened to the correlation between words and action - between the teachings of the Word and the moving of the Spirit. Before I thought I lacked discipline or attention - it has been made clear to me that I lacked neither of these. I lacked desire. I realized this in a sermon by Todd not long ago, and have been praying for desire since - and God has proven once again faithful. The Christian life is real to me like never before. What is so amazing though is how far I have to go, yet every step I make is solely through God's grace and He is ever faithful. I read on Dan's blog not long ago that he realized eyes have been dry to the lost - this too has been my confession, though recently, even this has seen a small breath of life. I know I am going on and on, but I truly feel so blessed and desire to praise God for it. It is not a church or a staff - nor is it a community that I praise, but it is God who has placed Katie and I at the right time in the right place with the right people in which He has graciously revealed Himself and His truths to us in a way that has been transforming of late. He has been most gracious.

Another catalyst has been the influence of a study I have been a part of at Park Cities Presbyterian called Men's Fraternity, in which we study authentic manhood. I have never been so tested in my leadership as a man, particularly as a husband and someday father. My time with Tim and my group has been nothing short of transforming in how I view my relationship with Katie and the world around me, for it has reshapen much of my perceived identity - both my natural person in the fallen legacy of Adam and my new self in the promise of Christ. It is simply a study on authentic manhood - what a man of God is. Daunting and inspiring, it has blessed me with a desire like never before to truly lead my family and be a serving leader in my community - moreover, it has granted me necessary tools. It has literally been mind-blowing how sin and men's passivity go hand-in-hand in the Bible. I literally never saw the correlation so sharply. The lack of true leadership both inside and outside the church is staggering to me, yet my whole life I have been all too familiar with it. I am so thankful for influential men in my life both present and past who have guided me and shown me the what true manhood and authentic leadership looks like. Though lessons are difficult, I also praise God for difficult times past and present where I see the results of men's passivity in the family and community - or those on the other side of the spectrum, who attempt to rule and control in an authoritarian and manipulating fashion. How prevalent are both of these in our society and families: the lack of or perversion of leadership and love. I am so excited to continue and finish up this study and renew my time in it throughout my life. If you have a Men's Fraternity study near you, go. It's that simple. They are all over the country, and if nothing else, listen online. I have heard of girls who never want to marry a guy who hasn't gone through it. I have friends who have said it changed their life. I have other friends who said it saved their life. I can see why these all statements are true. It has been truly life changing for me and has transformed my mind and heart in a way that will hopefully serve as a blessing to all those God entrusts around me.

I was listening today to a CD of a sermon by Skip Ryan (formerly of PCPC) lent to me by a friend of mine, and I caught something quite simple yet very significant: the Christian life is essential composed of two things: 1. Talking to God about men, and 2. Talking to men about God. It is my prayer that God will keep me ever mindful of these two things.

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