28 October 2006

Escaping Mediocrity

I would have posted this yesterday but my left hand was too swollen to type -- boiling liquid exploded on my hand and now two of my fingers are purple-ish and numb. But all is well.

----------From the pages of Carey's Journal----------
Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)
Mediocrity is something I detest with a passion. I am constantly surrounded by it and trying to avoid it. The college culture is laden with hedonism and Christians have not escaped -- we have merely tailored hedonism to suit our morality so that we feel better about ourselves. It is so easy to settle into the mindset of those around you -- whether they are Christians or not.

No one dares to venture beyond their comfort zone. No one dares to step outside the bounds of conventional "Churchianity." Where is the hunger? Where is the thirst? Where is the zeal? Why can we not be only satisfied with Christ, yet never be satisfied with enough of Him? He leaves you hungering for more of Himself with a passionate, intense "soul-fire." Why do we pursue fleeting desires that have no ultimate value?

After Axcess last Tuesday night, I pulled out a book I'd been waiting to show some friends of mine. I really wanted to get together a group to study and discuss Joshua Harris' Sex is not the Problem (Lust is). The book is challenging and convicting -- a topic that many "good Christians" skirt around. My friend glanced at the cover then looked at me with a questioning look. She briefly flipped through the pages.

"Oh my goodness!" She blushed and put the book on the table. "That's just a little too awkward. I wouldn't feel comfortable talking about stuff like that."

"Well," I sighed, "what about I Kissed Dating Goodbye?"

"There's no way I'm doing that one," chimed in another friend. I rolled my eyes and groaned in frustration.

"Seriously, this is something we all need to know," I reasoned.

"Look, you can be a nun if you want to, Carey, but no one else is joining you."

It's amazing how one can be surrounded by people all the time and still be lonely. Maybe it's just me, but I find a lack of like-minded "edgy" people. No one wants to pursue the Lord with reckless abandon. No one wants an intense relationship with Christ. No one wants to address the "awkward" issues that hinder us from running after Him. Instead, they prefer to avoid confrontation and discomfort at all costs. Most prefer mediocre Churchianity to high-octane Christianity.

I am reminded of a piece of dialogue from The Fellowship of the Ring. Frodo tries to rid himself of his burden by offering the Ring to Galadriel...

Frodo: I cannot do this alone.
Galadriel: You are a Ring-bearer, Frodo. To be a Ring-bearer is to be alone.
Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. (Matthew 7:13-14)

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2)
As Christians we must not meander down a smooth path, but run with all that is in us toward our Goal -- Christ. Run with passion and zeal. To live is Christ -- and we're only given one life.
...it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment... (Hebrews 9:27)
What kind of life will I give an account for at the Judgement Seat of Christ? Do I wish to lay the pebbles of a sorry life at His feet? Absolutely not!

26 October 2006

Four Steps of Repentance

Read 1 Samuel 12

1) Discover what sin(s) you have committed through:
* the Spirit speaking through the Word
- be consistent in reading/studying the Word
- make it a goal to consistently pray for the Lord
to reveal specific sins
* other people
- surround yourself with strong Christians who
aren't afraid to confront you
- keep yourself accountable

2) Confess the specific sin(s)
* Come clean with your sin so God's grace can move
you forward into repentance.
* Psalm 51

3) Receive forgiveness and joy from God
* Psalm 32

4) Turn away from the sin(s) -- change directions
* Don't just be sorry -- sorrow isn't enough
* Not just improvement of behavior (Luke 3:8)
* Not just changing direction and behavior, but
have a changed mind (Romans 12:2)

As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment! At every point you have proved yourselves innocent in the matter. (2 Corinthians 7:9-11)

To be selfish, or not to be selfish -- that is the question

It had been a long day working at MOMs from 8 AM to 3:30 PM. Mom had taken off half an hour before to babysit again at church for an evening social. I had just finished getting ready for Axcess (the highlight of my week) and was walking out the door when my cell phone rang. It was Mom. They were under-staffed (yet again) and she wanted to know if I could come help. Work again after a long day? Miss the highlight of my week? I bit my lip.

"... Sure."

"Well, we could probably manage," Mom said, hearing the hesitation in my voice. "It's your choice, sweetie."

Not really. It would be horribly selfish of me to abandon them, but I so badly wanted to go to Axcess. I struggled as I drove, but finally came to the decision that the right thing to do was put aside my plans and help out. Before I could even pick up my phone, Mom called again and said they rearranged the staff and they'd be fine. I could go to Axcess after all. Funny how the Lord works that way -- you have to come to a place of abandonment before He can truly bless you.

Last night's lesson at Axcess? Repentance. Ouch. The Lord knew I really needed that. Really good lesson -- I'll put the notes in a separate post.

23 October 2006

Perverse Minds, Pizza Chicken, and Protestant Nuns

Funny how I can sit down by myself at a table in the commons room and be surrounded by six or more people within a few minutes. A History exam loomed in the near future, so I curled up in a chair to study. Within 30 minutes, Danielle, Kami, Chase, Daniel, and Michael sat at the table with me. Whoever had food donated to the Communal Lunch. The three guys (a.k.a. The Perverse Minds) sat across from me laughing at something (I know not what).

"Sorry," Chase laughed. "I get perverse when I'm tired."

"You must be tired all the time," I commented from behind my History book.

"Ouch!" Chase winced.

"How come you never react like that when I'm mean to you?" Danielle asked.

"Because when you're mean, it's just like 'Oh, it's only Danielle.' When she's mean it hurts."

"Sorry, Chase," I apologized. "I grew up with an older brother who made me learn to react with quick come-backs because of his dry humor. But that's no excuse. Forgive me?"

"Sure." Twisted as his mind may be, Chase is very sweet and forgiving... or crazy. How many guys keep asking a girl out after she has bitten his head off?

Last class period was the delightful little History mid-term exam. Half of the exam required a full-blown hand-written essay on the events leading up to World War 1 and the United States' involvement. Russia declared war on Austria-Hungary -- Germany declared war on France -- Britain declared war on Germany -- Italy left the Triple Alliance and was replaced by the Ottoman Empire which was comprised of modern-day Turkey, Syria, Iran, and Iraq -- Germany had the most casualties -- What was the significance of the Treaty of Versailles? Yadda yadda. I left the classroom with a headache.

My "sister"Amanda was on my mind all day, so I called her up after class and asked her if there was some way I could help around the house (she's expecting baby #4).

"Oh yes, please come! I'm about ready to strangle my children. It's been one of those days."

"Oh my, I'd better come and save the kids!" I laughed.

Without fail, I'm always greeted by a chorus of little voices as soon as I pull into the driveway: "Carey! Carey!" Three little girls and Dixie the dog run up to my car door. Though I missed laundry-folding, I made it just in time to help ice/eat pumpkin cookies and drink Diet Dr. Pepper (sweet nectar of life) that Amanda had bought for me.

"Know what you're having for dinner?" I asked from beside an icing-covered three-year-old.

"Something with chicken... have any suggestions?"

I rummaged around in her pantry. Tomato paste... oregano... garlic seasoning salt... bread crumbs...

"Got any potatoes?"

"Yeah, right here."

I rolled up my sleeves. Dinner would be "Pizza Chicken" (the girls liked the sound of that), garlic scalloped potatoes, and corn-on-the-cob. I concocted a sauce for the chicken, Amanda sliced potatoes, Nivelle (age 5) and Erin (age 3) were put to work sprinkling cheese, and Aleeza (20 months) got into everything.

Dinner was just about done when I scampered back home to eat a hamloaf my grandma made and see Mom off before she left to babysit my other "niece" Emma. Erin and Nivelle each grabbed a leg and pleaded with me not to leave.

"Can you pleeeeease stay and eat dinner with us? Can you spend the night sometime?" I love being Aunt Carey.

It's funny when I think about it, but I told my mom once as a very serious thirteen-year-old that I'd be a spinster aunt and spoil all my friends' children. I laughingly reminded her of this prophecy the other day. Indeed, I am Aunt Carey to my friends' children. However, I prefer the term "Protestant nun (until further notice)" as opposed to "spinster."

*photo: Aleeza (L) and Erin (R) coloring before dinner

21 October 2006

No, you lead

Two boys from Jer's old Boy Scout troop came to swing last night. There is nothing more funny to see than two highschool boys learning to dance (neither had ever danced before). I taught both of them the Jitterbug and attempted the Charleston. One of the boys, Ben, is a total sweetheart but he has no sisters (and I don't think he's ever physically handled a girl). We worked on gentility.

"Remember, be gentle with me. You have to be gentle with girls," I reminded my six-foot dancing partner (who has the build of a football player). "I'm a petite 5'0", so you can't just sling me across the dancefloor."

Mike, the other boy, dances much like Jer started off -- like a statue. We worked on flexibility and fluid movement. Both boys picked up pretty quickly on the dance steps, but I had a hard time getting them to lead. That's one of the reasons I don't like teaching guys how to dance. They get intimidated and prefer to let me lead, but I purposely have to make them take the leadership.

"Okay, so what do you want to do?" I asked Mike.

"I don't know. You lead."

"No, you're the guy. You are supposed to take leadership, Boy Scout. Don't get me started."

It's not that I wouldn't love to take over, but I have to make conscious efforts to make guys lead. Not just in dancing, but in everything else. I "train" my guy friends (especially the ones without sisters) by purposely stepping back and making them lead.

My friend Adam (who also has no sisters) and I walked into church. Out of habit, I opened the door for him. He thanked me, but then I stopped him.

"Whoah, whoah... come back here. Let's do this over again." I made him come back outside and open the door for me.

"There we go. Let's make a habit of this -- you'll thank me someday." Now he always opens the door for me.

Guys seriously need a sister or sister-figure in their lives. My younger brother, Jeremy, is much better prepared because he's had me to practice with -- holding doors open, fetching tissues and dealing with female emotions, shopping with me, etc. I've taken several guy friends under my wing as their "adopted sister" so they can learn how to properly treat a girl. I don't mind being a learning experience (I've already served as a guinea pig for my mom).

19 October 2006


Here are some of the lessons from my church's weekly college ministry meetings. Listen to some of them when you get the chance.

College Life: Axcess: 2005-2006
College Life: Axcess: 2006-2007

Writer's Block = Dead Blog

"I'm afraid just about every blog on the web is boring. This one, of course, isn't, but then it isn't a blog. People take some inane event in their life and wax catty to make it sound interesting. It's not, believe me. It's not your fault your life is boring - wait - it probably is, nevermind." - Ebumpkin
I read this and thought, Oh man... how many people have I bored to death? That is partially why I haven't posted in so long (and consequently why my blog is dying). But that's okay -- there's more to life. Hmm... dead blog... that sounds rather nasty, like some slimy dead animal on the side of the road. Oh look, it's a dead blog.

11 October 2006

Constructive Posting

Just to let you all know (in case you haven't figured it out already): the reason for my sparse posting is due to a very full schedule. I want to concentrate a little more on my studies and am getting more involved in ministry, so my plate is quite full with just those two things (not to mention work and everything else). I didn't fall off the earth, I've just better prioritized my life.

Beginning next semester, I'm hoping to start a Bible study group for college ladies. We will be known as the SWAP Team (Singles With A Purpose). Plans are still formulating, curriculum being searched, and much prayer invested, but I am thrilled beyond words at the prospect of teaching a young women's Bible study. I'm praying that the Lord will see things through (if it's His will) and work in me.

There are many things in my life that need working on, but I am spending this time to learn so that I in turn can share my findings with other college women. I get no greater joy or satisfaction than when I'm expounding the Word and encouraging other women in their faith. That's all I want to do (if you can't already tell from many of my posts).

From now on, posting will be less frequent (some days I don't even get to my computer), but it will be more edifying and constructive. A verse I read this morning in Ecclesiastes 5 really convicted me...
Do not be rash with your mouth, and let not your heart
utter anything hastily before God. For God is in heaven, and you on earth; therefore let your words be few. (Eccl. 5:2)
Ephesians 4:29 states...
Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good
for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.

I want my writings to be good for necessary edification and impart grace to my readers.

09 October 2006

Constructive Comments

Sorry I haven't been more on top of this blog lately. I've hardly been at the computer all week (needed a break from technology).

No more nasty comments! I just read my blog for the first time in three days and found some disturbing comments from our hateful Anonymous. I've taken care of that problem by editing the comment settings on my blog. A little more effort on my part to screen comments, but I want this blog to glorify the Lord and will not tolerate any more filth dropped on it.

06 October 2006

In my Bible reading this morning...

Isaiah is one of my favorite Old Testament books. This morning I was reading in chapters 25 & 26. Here are some verses that meant a lot to me...
O LORD, You are my God.
I will exalt You,
I will praise Your name,
For You have done wonderful things;
Your counsels of old are faithfulness and truth.

And it will be said in that day:
"Behold, this is our God;
We have waited for Him, and He will save us.
This is the LORD;
We have waited for Him;
We will be glad and rejoice in His salvation."
(Isaiah 25:1,9)

You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You.
Trust in the LORD forever,
For in YAH, the LORD, is everlasting strength.

With my soul I have desired You in the night,
Yes, by my spirit within me I will seek You early;
For when Your judgments are in the earth,
The inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.
(Isaiah 26:3-4,9)

04 October 2006

"Come Away, My Beloved"

O My beloved, ye do not need to make your path (like a snow plow), for lo, I say unto thee, I go before you. Yea, I shall engineer circumstances on thy behalf. I am thy husband, and I will protect thee and care for thee, and make full provision for thee.

I know thy need, and I am concerned for thee: for thy peace, for thy health, for thy strength. I cannot use a tired body, and ye need to take time to renew thine energies, both spiritual and physical. I am the God of Battle, but I am also the One who said: They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. And Jesus said, Come ye apart and rest a little while.

I will teach you, even as I taught Moses on the back side of the desert, and as I taught Paul in Arabia. So will I teach you. Thus it shall be a constructive period, and not in any sense wasted time. But as the summer course to the school teacher, it is vital to thee in order that ye be fully qualified for your ministry.

There is no virtue in activity as such -- neither in inactivity. I minister to thee in solitude that ye may minister of Me to others as a spontaneous overflow of our communion. Never labor to serve, nor force opportunities. Set thy heart to be at peace and to sit at My feet. Learn to be ready, but not to be anxious. Learn to say 'no' to the demands of men and to say 'yes' to the call of the Spirit. These may sometimes be at variance. Be not distressed by the misunderstanding of people. Let Me take care of them Myself. They too must learn this same important lesson, and thou canst help them by setting the example; but if ye try to please them by answering every demand, ye shall both fall into the same snare.

I am a jealous God, and I am always at peace with Myself. I would have you to be likewise at peace with My Spirit within thee. As ye give Me My rightful place and do not allow others to intrude, ye shall be at peace with Me. Be very serious in this. I am not speaking to thee lightly. I was never more in earnest in any message that I have brought to you. Do not fail Me. I have brought you this message at various times in the past. It was never more urgent than now.

For man is experiencing a new awakening, and he is searching for My Truth more than ever, and I must speak through My prophets; and if they be not separated unto Me, how can I instruct them? Yea, I shall nourish thee by the brook as I nourished Elijah; and I shall speak to thee out of the bush as I spoke to Moses, and reveal My glory on the hillside as I did to the shepherds.

Come away, My beloved, and be as the doe upon the mountains; yea, we shall go down together to the gardens.

~ From Come Away, My Beloved by Frances J. Roberts

02 October 2006

Outreach Sunday

My church partnered with two other small churches yesterday for Outreach Sunday. (The first Sunday of every month we go out and do evangelism.) We're all smaller churches that branched off from Denton Bible -- Lifeline Bible Fellowship, my church, is predominately African-American; Denton Community Church, predominately Caucasian; and Nuevo Templo, a Hispanic church.

After a worship service together, we mixed everyone and divided into five teams, taking different neighborhoods in our city to do tract-passing and door-to-door evangelism. It was awesome! Walking up to a complete stranger's house and knocking on their door sounds intimidating to most people. Walking up to a complete stranger's house, knocking on their door, and then asking them if they have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ sounds even more intimidating!

My group was comprised of two other women and a guy. Even though we only spoke with four people out of ten houses, we planted some seed. One lady we spoke with was actually a member of Denton Bible. We had a nice visit and got to pray for her kids, who are my age and not walking with the Lord.

Another guy who answered the door said, "Oh, I'm Baptist."

"All right, well, is there anything we can pray about for you?" Chris (the guy in our group) asked.

"No, I go to a Baptist church," and with that he shut the door. We all looked at each other and shrugged our shoulders. Texan Baptists can be weird around non-denominational folks like us. (We have no label, so they don't know what to do with us.)

After the door-to-door evangelism, we all met back at the Sumrall Center (a DBC building where Lifeline is held) for food and fellowship. I didn't get to stay long, because I had to go up to the main DBC building to do childcare for the evening service, but I thought it was so awesome to see such an ethnically diverse fellowship of Christians laughing and eating together.