Monday, May 28, 2007

Katie and her favorite friend

We had the pleasure of baby-sitting one of Katie's favorite friends the other week. Katie and Jeremiah have basically grown up together, and it's neat to see how they relate to each other now. (You might remember Miah from the video below taken when she was 4 months old.) Katie absolutely loves Jeremiah. If I just say his name, a special smile (reserved for him alone) spreads across her face. Then she starts chanting his name, which right now sounds like, "Mom-mee." Jeremiah likes Katie, but he's definitely more interested in stuff. It's amazing to see the differences between girls and boys already--relationships vs. toys.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Back in "the Ville"

Sorry for the blogging hiatus. As soon as I promise some sort of "series," it pretty much guarantees that I won't blog for a week! We just got back from TX, visiting Adam's family. We had a GREAT time. Especially Katie. See for yourself:

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Changing things up

Yesterday, I wrote about what I do for my devotional time, and I commended to you the One Year Bible.

While I have definitely enjoyed the variety of this plan as well as reading extended passages, I've been wanting for some time to go through a little booklet called A Gospel Primer. You can order it from this website or download it for free. The pastor that wrote this booklet was motivated by reading Jerry Bridges' The Discipline of Grace (which coincidentally we are reading right now for our women's book study!) In DoG (which is my affectionate abbreviation for the Bridges' book), Bridges challenges Christians to preach the gospel to themselves every day. It seems that over the last 5 years of my life, I have heard this exhortation again and again, with increasing intensity. Going through this Gospel Primer is a practical way for me to become more disciplined in this vital spiritual discipline.

My hopes are to post a nugget from this booklet every day for as long as it takes me to get through it. The first section of this book focuses on reasons why we need to preach the gospel to ourselves every day. He gives 20 reasons. Today's were: the New Testament model and my daily need.

Today's quote comes from the section, "My Daily Need:"

"There is simply no other way to compete with the forebodings of my conscience, the condemnings of my heart, and the lies of the world and the Devil than to overwhelm such things with daily rehearsings of the gospel."

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

On "Quiet times"

For the third year in a row, I am attempting to read the Bible in one year. I'm ashamed to admit that in the 16 years I've been a Christian, I've never read the Bible all the way through. I really think I'm going to make it all the way this year; by God's grace I've already persevered longer than the previous two years and I think my past failures have strengthened my commitment this third time around.

There are several different plans for reading the Bible in one year. I've opted for The One Year Bible. I was inspired to use this plan by my friend Jenny...who ended up marrying the guy that suggested they read the One Year Bible together! How's that for motivation? "Read the Bible in one year and get a husband!" I love you, Jenny and Mark!

I like the One Year Bible because it takes you once through the OT, once through the NT, and twice through Psalms and Proverbs. Each day's reading is laid out by date. For example, yesterday I read 1 Samuel 15:1-16:23, John 8:1-20, Psalm 110:1-7, and Proverbs 15:8-10.

After I read, I try to make a few comments on each thing I read and then meditate on one verse that stuck out to me. (Note: Christian meditation is a completely different animal than Eastern meditation. Hopefully a future post will discuss this.) I also try to integrate what I read into my prayer time. So, yesterday I meditated on Proverbs 15:8-10:

The Lord detests the sacrifice of the wicked, but the prayer of the upright pleases him.
The Lord detests the way of the wicked but he loves those who pursue righteousness.
Stern discipline awaits him who leaves the path; he who hates correction will die.

It's neat how sometimes the different Bible passages relate to each other. In 1 Samuel, God took his Spirit away from Saul after Saul totally disobeyed the Lord. "To obey is better than sacrifice," Samuel told Saul. Then to read this same truth in the Proverbs! After meditating on these verses, I incorporated them into my prayer time, asking God's forgiveness for times I attempt to offer him my own sacrifice of self-righteousness instead of approaching Him trusting in Christ's righteousness. I thanked Him that Jesus' upright prayer pleases him and praised Him for His constant intercession for me. I acknowledged to God that He detests wickedness and that, were it not for Christ, I would be worthy of his rejecetion because of my own unrighteousness. I thanked Him that He loves his children enough to discipline them when they leave the path and prayed that I would be open to His correction. I prayed for Katie that she would not despise correction but would have a humble, teachable spirit and so find life in Christ. You get the picture.

All that happens, however, only if I wake up when I'm supposed to. If I get up late or am falling asleep, I just read the psalm and then try to read the other passages before I go to bed that night.

So that's my plan. Some days it works out better than others. The good news is that my success or failure in no way affects my acceptance before God! Praise God for a righteousness that comes from God and not myself!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Sermon review

If there's anything you hear again and again about Third Avenue Baptist Church, it's that we want to be as Word-centered as we can possibly be. You can see this desire worked out in numerous ways, but this morning I was reminded of one in particular.

Several months ago, Adam and I attended a Sunday School series called "Living as a church." One class was on preaching as the foundation for church unity. There were so many insightful things said in that class (you can read it for yourself here). One thing I took away was the importance of making time to deliberately review the sermon, both individually and with others. I've benefitted so much from intentionally talking with Adam and other members about the sermon, whether over lunch after church or other times throughout the week. This is such a practical way to seek unity in the church through the shared experience of hearing the Word.

I also remember someone in the class commenting that he and his wife devote their Monday devotional time to reviewing, meditating on, and praying through the previous day's sermon. What an awesome discipline to insure that we are not just hearers of the Word but doers as well.

So, that's what I did this morning and was even more impacted by the preaching of the Word than I was when I was actually sitting there! May that motivate you to have your own personal sermon review this week.

(One of our elders just completed a two-week series on the book of Habakkuk. I highly recommend it. Once it gets posted, you can listen to it here.)

"Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
GOD, the Lord, is my strength;
he makes my feet like the deer's;
he makes me tread on my high places."
Habakkuk 3:17-19

Sunday, May 13, 2007

The other side of motherhood

In honor of Mother's Day, I'd like to share with you one of my favorite quotes from my new favorite book. The main character (aptly named Katy) has just given birth to their 3rd child in the middle of a very trying season of life. A well-meaning friend pities Katy for having "one more mouth to fill and two feet the more to shoe, more disturbed nights, more laborious days, and less leisure or visiting, reading, music, and drawing." Here is Katy's response:

“This is one side of the story to be sure, but I look at the other. Here is a sweet, fragrant mouth to kiss; here are two more feet to make music with their pattering about my nursery. Here is a soul to train for God; and the body in which it dwells is worthy all it will cost, since it is the abode of a kingly tenant. I may see less of friends, but I have gained one dearer than them all, to whom, while I minister in God's name, I will make a willing sacrifice of what little leisure for my own recreation my other darlings had left me. Yes, my precious baby, you are welcome to your mother's heart, welcome to her time, her strength, her health, her tenderest cares, her life-long prayers! Oh, how rich I am, how truly, how wondrously blest!”

May this always be my response to motherhood! I am truly grateful for the gift of my daughter and pray that she would feel herself always welcome to my time, strength, health, care, and prayers.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Remember the unborn on Mother's Day

I was reminded this morning that a group of Christians from Louisville's crisis pregnancy center would be gathering this morning in front of Louisville's abortion clinic to pray. Not to picket, not to heckle, simply to pray. To pray that God would protect women from aborting their babies so close to Mother's Day and having to live with that knowledge every Mother's Day after.

Pray for women today who are contemplating abortions. Pray for women who have already had abortions. Pray for our government that they would work to protect women and unborn babies from the horrific realities of abortion. Support the crisis pregnancy clinic in your town so that women facing an unplanned pregnancy would not abort their babies out of fear or lack of resources.

I encourage you to visit the ACLJ's website and
sign their petition to stop the "Right to Choose" act proposed in Congress. Our rights must be limited when their exercise detroys the life of another.

Other links:
Forced abortions in China
Piper on abortion as racism

Photo #1: Katie McCulloch in utero, 9 weeks
Photo #2: Katie McCulloch in utero, 20 weeks

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Photo link test

If you click on this link does it get you to my photos on yahoo? All of them or just one album? Let me know.

McCulloch photos on Yahoo

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

A plug for Piper

Piper hit Davidson my sophomore year. I had been introduced to him the summer before when Desiring God was the assigned reading for the youth internship at Third Pres (thanks, Danny!). That December Piper spoke at CO's Christmas Conference and rocked our worlds. For all of my college friends (and anyone else), if it's been awhile since you've read or heard John Piper, I recommend you do so soon for the encouragement of your soul.

His website was recently revamped and now possesses a blog, online copies of most of his books, as well as mp3s of all the sermons and messages he has ever preached. And all this for FREE!

So my encouragement for today: go to Desiring God's website, listen to a Piper sermon, and be refreshed. Well...refreshed and challenged to sell all your stuff and move to Saudi Arabia.

A few recommendations:
Doing Missions When Dying is Gain
Boasting Only in the Cross
How to Kill Sin

Monday, May 7, 2007

My new favorite book

When I was growing up, I remember seeing a book called Stepping Heavenward lying around the house. Even though I was a Christian, I remember thinking disparaging thoughts about the book. Perhaps I thought the cover was cheesy or that it could not be nearly as spiritually significant as Mere Christianity or The Great Divorce (I was a huge C.S. Lewis fan in high school). Little did I know how wrong I was about this little book.

Thankfully, God in His mercy allowed this book to re-surface in my life. It all started when the ladies at the GirlTalk blog chose the biography of Elizabeth Prentiss as their second book club title. Elizabeth Prentiss was a 19th century pastor's wife who penned the hymn "More Love to Thee" as well as several books, her most famous being Stepping Heavenward. I devoured her biography and began to realize how hugely mistaken I had been about this book with the uninspiring cover.

When I visited Richmond in April, I was thrilled to see that this little book was still "lying around the house." I began reading my mom's copy and asked her if I could take it back to Louisville with me. She said no, but then handed me my very own copy from a secret stash of Stepping Heavenwards in her closet!

Well, I am pages away from finishing (which is heart-breaking), but as soon as I finish will start it over again. I can say that Stepping Heavenward is now my new favorite book. I am sort of thankful that I didn't ever read the book before I could fully appreciate the particular temptations that come with being a wife and mother. Yet at the same time, I wonder how my experience as a new wife and mother would have been different had I already been exposed to the precious truths this book teaches.

So...whether you are already a wife and mother or are not even close to this season of life, please buy this book and read it carefully. I even recommend this book to any men out there. This book will give you tremendous insight into what life is like as a Christian woman and would help you know how to encourage the women in your life.

A word of advice: buy the book, don't just borrow it. That way you can underline and make notes and take this book with you through every season of life. I understand now why my mom didn't want to loan me her well-marked copy! Oh, and if anyone out there has read the book and loved it, feel free to say so and leave a comment! Encourage others to share in the blessing!

PS-Even though I no longer find the cover to be a hindrance, I was happy to see that there's a new edition out with different cover art.

PPS-To motivate the men to read this book, check out my husband's post about its author.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

"A deep breath of the righteousness of Christ"

I meant to point you all to this great post by my husband, back when my blogging had almost flat-lined. Adam quotes a letter from Martin Luther, and the truths it contains are precious.

For my non-Christian readers, please go to my husband's blog and read Luther's letter. It contains such a clear presentation of what God calls us all to believe. "You will find peace in Christ only through a confident despair in yourself and your works. Then, in addition, learn from Christ himself how in accepting you he has made your sins his and also made his righteousness to be yours."

And to my Christian readers, have you taken "a deep breath of the righteousness of Christ" lately?" If not (or if so!), please go read Luther's letter and breathe deeply.

Friday, May 4, 2007

17 months and two words together!

Yesterday was Katie's 17 month birthday. Wow. She decided to celebrate it by putting two words together for the first time! Don't believe it? Watch this:

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Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Encouragement from the Psalms

For whatever reason, the past week or so has been very difficult, spiritually. In the midst of discouragement, however, the Lord encouraged me this morning through Psalm 102:12a.

"But You, O Lord, sit enthroned forever..."

But- One of the most important words in the Bible. I love this word because it does not invalidate whatever was stated before it yet it also says, "That's not the whole story." In this psalm, this psalmist has just finished describing his miserable state: his days vanish like smoke, his bones burn within him, he can't eat, he can't sleep, his heart is withered, he cries all the time, he is cursed by his enemies, and he feels that God has thrown him down in anger. It is out of such a state that the psalmist now says the awesome word, "But."

You- I love that the words "but" and "you" occur so often together in Scripture, with the "you" referring to God. "I am ____ but You are ___." I think this is a good pattern to model our thoughts after. I also love that the Psalmist is not simply saying this to himself, but is actually talking to God. He's not saying, "I am ___ but He is ___." No, he's telling God, "I am ___, but YOU are ____." It is a prayer.

LORD- Not just any god, but YHWH. He uses the personal name of God. This is not just any God--this is the God of Israel. Just think of all the images and characteristics attached to this name throughout Scripture: the God who delivers, the God who makes promises, the Holy God, the Jealous God, the Kind and Merciful God, righteous, just, loving, faithful, patient, powerful, majestic, gracious, compassionate. "But You, YHWH..."

The anticipation builds! To what specific truth about YHWH is the psalmist about to appeal?

"...sit enthroned forever."

Sit- an image of establishment, rest, completion, security, confidence. This God is not pacing the floor in anxiety or fear. He is unrivaled and totally secure.

Enthroned- He is King, He rules over all. He is majestic, deserving all respect, honor, and fear. He is in total control of his domain.

Forever- And his rule is not ending soon. In fact, it's never going to end. He is not concerned about being overthrown at some future point. His throne is eternal, unchanging, not moving. I am ____ but You, YHWH, sit enthroned forever. God, I am falling apart, but You are not. You are in control. I am weak, but You define strength.

The Psalmist is deliberately contrasting his frail state with the immovable state of God. He turns from focusing on himself and his circumstances to focusing on God. He turns from seeking hope in himself to basing his hope on the character of God.

Yes, a simple, basic, obvious principle of Christian living...but one that was revealed afresh to me this morning in an hour of great need. Oh, that I might remember this as the day goes on!