Monday, November 30, 2009

Love, the Gospel, and Service

What is love? 1 Corinthians 13 describes love as follows:

"Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails."
-- 1 Corinthians 14:4-8 (NASB)

We often overlook the beginning of the chapter which says:

"If I speak with the tongues of men and angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing."
-- 1 Corinthians 14:1-3 (NASB)

The passage seems to be discussing our actions, and clearly indicates that they must be acts of love, since love is also an action. Without love, nothing we do matters, and it is not pleasing to God.

That said, we are incapable of love. Love by God’s standard is impossible for us to accomplish on our own. The unbeliever cannot love in accordance to God’s standard. The only reason the believer is capable of love is through Christ’s imputed righteousness- the perfection that God sees in us not because of our own doing, but due to the blood Jesus shed on the cross to atone for our sins, our depravity, and our inadequacy.

I wonder often when we serve others who we are really doing it for. Just because we say we are Christians does not mean we do everything to God’s glory. There are things we do that do not please Him, things that He hates. When we serve out of a selfish nature, the things we do- though good by human standards- are worthless to the Lord. His standard is so much higher than ours.

I think sometimes we get so caught up in “doing” that we forget why we do it. We don’t clothe the naked, feed the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless to make sure they are dressed, full, and living in a warm house. Have I lost you?

We do acts of service because it enables us to spread the Gospel, to share Christ with others, to fulfill the commands Jesus gave us. What good does it do us to install a smoke alarm when the building is already on fire? Similarly, what good do our works do unless we also share the Gospel with those who we are serving?

Our desire should be that all would be saved, not that people would be “comfortable” in life. After all, what good is it to make the world a better place to go to hell from? The Christian walk is difficult, and God often uses hardships to draw us close to Him. There is a reason that it is nearly impossible for a rich man to be saved. When we are down, without hope- that is when we have only the Lord to turn to.

So when we serve, let’s focus on first getting the person out of the burning building, then work on helping them build a new house through discipleship and further acts of service. People will not always know we are serving because of Christ- we must make that clear by unashamedly sharing the Gospel message with them.

True love is caring enough about a person to want them to be saved from eternal hellfire and damnation. Jesus told us He came to seek and save the lost- to glorify the Father- his signs and miracles were an aid to that, not the main goal. Let us keep that in mind as we strive to serve others- to the glory of God, not man.

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the father and the son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you..."
-- Matthew 23:19-20 (NASB)

“We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers; constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father…”
--1 Thessalonians 1:2-3 (NASB)

O Christmas Tree!

Weslee's first look at a Christmas tree

Ah, a tall tree! After 4 1/2 years of marriage, we finally have a tree taller than 3'! I hit the sales after Christmas last year and scored a 6 1/2' tree for only $10 at Wal-Mart. Go me!
Life at our house is never boring, and putting the tree up was no exception. I had put all the bottom branches on and fanned them out nicely, when I realized the top section just wasn't going on right. Ken, in all his brute strength, tried to force it on a little harder. Instead, the base of the tree that holds the legs snapped, and the tree fell over. I (along with a little help from Ken) spent the next hour super gluing and holding the cracked pieces together in hopes that the tree could be salvaged. That super glue was worthless- it didn't hold anything together except my fingers (I'm lucky I'm not typing with fingers permanently adhered to each other). We tried a little duct tape over the broken pieces, and that held for a couple minutes, but the base still gave way under the weight of the tree.
Finally, in a last-ditch effort to salvage the tree I'd spent so much time putting together, I grabbed the roll of duct tape and started wrapping it around the base. It worked. Half a roll later the tree stood up as straight as it originally had. Afterward, Ken found the tree's warranty (who knew fake trees came with warranties?) and discovered we still have a year left on it, so hopefully they'll send us another base to the tree so I don't have to buy another one this year.
Weslee was in awe at the tree when I showed it to him in the morning. We put it all together while he was asleep- one so he would be surprised, two so he wouldn't get in the way. Hooks and glass ornaments do not mix with the fast little hands of a baby. He just stood and stared at the tree for a few minutes before trying to figure out how to get to it. I'm glad we have a gate to put around it.
I think we'll go shopping this year for a "baby's first Christmas" ornament. Right now we have Ken's first ornament (from 1985) on the tree, since it's for a boy. I'm so looking forward to getting to show Weslee what Christmas time is about. I know he won't understand about Christ's birth this year, but he will get the joy of all the new things happening around him, and that's still pretty cool.
Next on our list is decorating the rest of the house and putting lights up outside (that's Ken's area). This will be the first Christmas we've really had the whole house decked out. I feel like a "real" family now, starting our own traditions that we can follow through the years.

Dill Potato Rolls

I have discovered an awesome recipe for potato rolls (by a lady here in Oregon!) on click here to see the recipe. The only difference in my recipe is that I add about 2Tbsp of dill to the dry ingredients. You can't really taste the dill; it just gives it more of an aromatic flavor, I think. They still have that potato-bread sweetness to them that I love! I also roll them or tied them into 32 knots instead of the 24 the recipe suggests. It makes slightly over-sized dinner rolls, or small sandwich rolls. I made them for my family's Thanksgiving, and they were a hit. I'll probably be making them more, since they don't take much work.

Thanksgiving 2009

Family pic, from left to right:
Ken, Me, Weslee, Meredith, Quinn, Sela, Ryan, Mom (Nancy), Dad (Wes)

Our updated picture (the last was in May, I believe)
We kind of have this pose down, now, and it seems to work for us

Ken hanging out with Weslee

This year we spent Thanksgiving day with my family in Dundee (which is only 10 minutes from where we live in Newberg). I have to say, Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays since it's always spent with family. We had our traditional meal, and spent the afternoon in fellowship, just having fun.
We did go to Ken's parents' house on Friday for their Thanksgiving meal. It's always nice to be able to see family that we don't get to see on a regular basis. The Lucas family brought some smoked turkey that was amazing! I had never had it before, and I'm sold on it.

Weslee Walking

Weslee is now walking a little bit, though he's still got some balance issues to perfect. I know that I also walked at 10 months, and we're not sure when Ken started walking. We've noticed Weslee has a tendency to do the least amount of work possible, and you can clearly see he's not eager to take more steps than absolutely necessary to get to Mom as evidenced by his lunging forward, arms out.

Date Night: Tyrone Wells in Concert

Tyrone Wells and Mark Chippelo

Ken and I after the concert... it was about midnight, and it shows on our faces

Ken and I went to my cousin Tyrone's concert at the Aladdin Theater November 11. We don't get out very often for date nights, but this one was totally worth it. My sister and one of her friends and our Aunt, Uncle, and a cousin were at the concert, too. It was fun to get to see some family we don't see too often. If you haven't heard of Tyrone Wells or listened to his music, check out:

November Pictures

Weslee standing on his own for the first time

I came home and found the boys sacked out together on the couch

Pumpkin Pictures

We carved out Weslee's 30lb pumpkin and he had some fun sitting inside it, and Mom and Dad had fun taking some pictures- fun for the whole family! He's 9 months in these pictures.

Weslee and the Tractor

Pumpkin Patch

We had a lot of fun going pumpkin shopping for Weslee's first fall. His pumpkin was the 30lb whopper in the pictures, and he was fascinated with it. This place is "Grandma's" for those who are from the area... there were so many pumpkins there! Ken and I went to a pumpkin patch the first year we were married, but it didn't hold a candle to the size of this one. We liked that it was pretty family friendly, and the prices weren't too bad, either.

Button, Button, Who's Got the Button

Weslee had a fascination with the shiny, flower-shaped buttons on my nightgowns, so every time he would touch one I'd say, "button, you're touching the button!" Eventually he caught on and was able to point out buttons on different kinds of clothing. It was the first sign that he was actually understanding some of the things we were saying to him, which was pretty cool.

First Trip to an Ice Cream Parlor

We took a little family outing one evening to Jem 100, a local ice cream parlor. Weslee was a little young yet for ice cream, but he had some milk while Ken and I ate the good stuff. He seemed to really enjoy all the colors of the ice cream in the display and watching the different people around the place. Hopefully we'll get to go back when Weslee can have ice cream and get some more fun pictures.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Greek Festival (October)

I went with Ken and Weslee to the Greek Festival in Portland for the very first time this year. Talk about an experience! The food, the atmosphere, the Greeks- amazing! We had so much fun hanging out with family and friends, and brought home some pretty tasty treats which were quickly gone. This was the first time we'd really taken Weslee out into a big public place, outdoors, and all bundled up for the cooler fall weather. I think we'll be going back next year, too.

Weslee getting excited about standing

When Weslee learned to stand, he was all about pulling himself up on anybody and anything he could to show off his new talent. He was pretty cute as he snorted/panted with excitement, eventually getting so excited he'd fall down. :)

Weslee Standing Up

September pictures

Weslee learns to crawl

Weslee learned to crawl in his 6th month, and we're pretty sure he knew how to do it before we saw it. The first time we noticed it, he booked across the whole living room to get a plate. No tentative first movements, just a mini-marathon!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

More August Pictures

August photos

Visit from Ben

Ken's best friend Ben visited us in early August, which was fun. Weslee just loved him!