Sunday, July 30, 2006

Wisdom of Counsel

My primary ministry at HPC is the Marriage Ministry. I knew when we first went through leadership training that this is what God equipped me to do. I like helping couples, whether through premarital mentoring or marriage counseling.
I understand how hard it is to seek help. In fact, there are many times when me and Brandi are going through something that we need help in, I don't seek help. Usually, we cover that issue during a premarital session or working with a couple and it comes up and we deal with it. That's a cop out, I know, but it gets done.
I would really like to create a culture at HPC where seeking help doesn't feel like admitting defeat or admitting a weakness. Afterall, do any of us really think we're the only ones going through stuff? That's unrealistic expectations.
Then, I think about all the biblical heroes that needed help. Moses needed Aaron and Jethro to help him out. David had Jonathan. Paul had Timothy & Barnabas. Many more I can't think of.
Check out what the "Books of Wisdom" (Job, Psalms, Proverbs) in the Bible have to say about COUNSEL.
I know how passionate I am about helping others in the area of marriage and I know many of the others in marriage ministry are just as passionate. Whether we are in need of a simple tune up, or in the middle of a storm that all marriages face, there is great benefit in getting help. It's as simple as letting someone outside your situation with the calling and passion to help and the experience to understand where you are help you get through it.
But, we have to take that first step...

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Reaching Outside the Four Walls

One of my majors at LSU for my General Studies degree is Sociology. In one of the classes we learned about studies that show that up to 80% of our perceptions are incorrect. 80%!!! The only way to break false perceptions is to get the facts. Learn, learn, learn.
Here's one of the reasons I love HPC. HPC was involved this week with some people that have different METHODS than us, but the same MESSAGE. Check out Pastor Dino's latest POST on his blog.
In a place where it's so easy to keep an arms length from people who are different than us, its SO REFRESHING and ENCOURAGING to see our Pastor learning and experiencing ministry with others. I believe there is such POWER in unity.
I saw the billboards in downtown Baton Rouge several weeks ago and I just smiled. If you've seen Pastor Steib on TV and experienced HPC, the differences are obvious. I'm so glad we're willing to look past those insignificant differences and excecute the common goal.
Thanks Pastor!

Friday, July 28, 2006

Sports/Media/Perception/Judging Others

The example is the Tour De France winner. As I read newpapers and internet articles, all the headlines read, "Positive Test Results." Well, this is a lie! But, its catchy, it grabs your attention, it sells newspapers and magazines. The FACT is, the first test results were abnormal. His test showed high levels of testosterone. This is an indication, an abnormal result. There is a second sample they will process that will determine if he took illegal substances.

One thing the media indicated is true. Whether he clears his name or not, this story will FOREVER overshadow his win. I don't know if he's clean or not. I don't know if some American hating people spiked his sample. I don't know if he cheated. But, even he admitted, this tarnishes the victory, whether he is cleared or not.

As soon as this story came out, he was judged. He was perceived as a cheater because that's DRAMA. We like to believe the worst of a situation, too much Jerry Springer exposure. We love the dirt, the gossip, the other person falling on our face.

I remember on one of his Live recordings, Kirk Franklin asked the audience if they were glad that Jesus doesn't expose our sins or tell the world about who we USED to be. Even those of us who have been eternally forgiven, even those of us who have had our sins washed by the Blood, blotted out of The Book and remembered no more, even we are facinated by other people's faults, failures and shortcomings.

Did you know that Jesus doesn't remember the faults we confess? All He remembers is The Victory! We need to be more like Jesus!

Monday, July 24, 2006

34 years old!

Yesterday, July 23, was my 34th B-day. I don't have any strong feelings about my birthday in general. I really don't sweat "getting old" and I really don't make a big deal of it.

We went to 11pm Service at The Annex, which we are really beginning to enjoy. Smaller crowd, laid back atmosphere. I do miss the main sanctuary, but we've been encouraged to attend Annex services to make room for the HUGE crowds at the 10am & 12pm Sunday services at the Highland Campus. So, it all works out.

Then we went to PF Chang's for lunch, in honor of our little Chinese Girl we're about to get. Then we hit the Chocolate Factory and Starbuck's for dessert. I got the Mint Chocolate Fudge and Brandi got the Apple covered with everything! Slammin'!

Then we headed to Tanger Mall to spend Jada's clothing allowance. She's not even here and she's buying clothes already! It was really fun. Can't wait to get her so she can try on all the stuff we got for her already! Got some outfits from Carter's and Children's Palace. Neat stores.

Then, we went home, plopped on the couch and watched some UFC on Spike TV!

It was a good day. Spent some quality time with my girl. Doesn't get any better than that.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Early Birthday Gift

My birthday isn't until July 23, but I got an early B-day check this week and I wanted to treat myself. Something we could use that would be handy for our trip to China to go get Jada. I have an Sansa SanDisk MP3 player like this:

But I broke the display and I can't see what I'm listening to or swap between songs or podcasts. So, I figured I'd bump my MP3 capabilities up to this:

iPod Nano. It's alot smaller and holds twice as much as the Sanyo. I was browsing around on iTunes today and found audio books!! This is great for me. I love reading and I love listening to books even more. So, I think I've found a new hobby: Audiobooks! My first audiobook is Brother Lawrence's "Practicing the Presence of God". I've always heard good things about that book. I still listen to The Dave Ramsey Show, his radio program, but I want to start listening to books too.

The only critique I have about it is that the audio isn't as clear as the SanDisk. I liked the earbuds from the SanDisk. The iPod is the saucer shaped ear pieces that sort of jam into your ear, but isn't as crisp a sound. I guess I can use the Sansa earpiece with the iPod.

Monday, July 10, 2006

4th of July at the Fishing Camp

"The Fishing Camp" at Bayou Sorrel. This is a lot that Brandi's mom and dad lease from the state. They built a little chateau to hang out in. The place is SO PEACEFUL.

Lucy eyeing a fish. Not a water dog.

The view from the pier. Old Glory flying.

Brandi, Austin & Andrew her 2 nephews.

This is what we do most of the time at the fishing camp. Eat and chill out. For some reason, we always forget to stop and get our fishing licenses. Then again, who wants to wake up at 4am?

Speaking of eatin'. BBQ Ribs, BBQ Chicken, Hamburgers and much more. This place has a full kitchen, 2 sofa beds, 2 bunk beds and 1 Queen size bed. I would've taken some shots of the inside, but at the camp, no women wears makeup. No women want to be on camera without makeup. No women want to leave the camp so Gered can take a picture of the camp innards.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

"If God is real, let's do His thing!"

I listen to the Dave Ramsey Show on my MP3 player. The other day when I was listening, a caller called in and asked if they should continue to tithe while getting out of debt. Then, she asked if the tithe came from the gross or net income. Excellent questions. Dave's reply was priceless. Alot of callers call each day with tithing questions, and recently he has changed his approach on the subject. He says it really doesn't matter what he thinks, it matters what the Bible says. In Proverbs alone there are over 20 scriptures that explain that the tithe is the first fruits of the household increase that goes to support the local church. There is never a time in scripture that instructs us to stop tithing.

Then he explained that tithing does not ensure material wealth because he was tithing during his bankruptcy when he lost several million dollars. But he said something that really challenged me in so many areas in my life other than personal finance. He said,"Ever since I got saved, I have tithed. I don't know why. I just figured if God is real, let's do His thing!"

In Genesis, God didn't take up an offering or have a building fund drive for funds to create the universe. He spoke and it happened, simple, He's God!. So, why does God have us tithe? Because He wants to transform us into the image of Christ. He wants us to be givers.

We were challenged about our giving only a couple of months after joining Healing Place Church and we weren't quickly converted. But we took small steps. We should have dove right into it in faith, but we didn't, we crept along slowly. It's only because of God's grace that He met us at each small seed of faith and He blessed us, even though we didn't dive head first in faith. Over a period of 2 years, we were able to give the tithe and offerings above the tithe and still keep the roof over our heads, the shirts on our backs and the food on our table.

Then, we were introduced to Dave Ramsey's teachings. We started applying his teachings in June 2005 and since then we've paid off all credit cards, both vehicles, Brandi's student loan and are able to pay cash for Jada's adoption. We weren't this bold and confident 3 years ago. Then, we were ashamed of the material things we had, yet didn't trust God with a measely 10%.

We've sown a seed of faith in the area of our personal finances and God has been faithful. "If God is real, let's do His thing." And still, we're hesitant to do His thing in other areas of our lives. But, with His grace and our small seeds of faith, He will show us again that He's smarter than us and the more we trust in Him, the more faithful He is. But, over time, we must learn to take bigger steps and sometimes dive in head first in faith. We have to be confident that without faith, we cannot please God. I'm pretty sure the bigger the leap, the more He is pleased and the greater reward. Here on earth and up in heaven.