Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Update On Moving To New Website...

So, this wasn't quite as difficult as I expected.  I will no longer be using blogger.  You can see my previous blog post.  Our new family website can be found here:

Please come visit!

The Acuffs Are Moving....

Well, just to a new website.

I've decided to change my blog to Wordpress so that it will be a more interactive community, meaning if you leave a comment to a post, I  can respond back to you.  Also, it seems to offer more if I can figure it all out.  But, mostly, to be interactive.  You get it.

I won't be blogging for the next few days to get the new website going and to transfer archives, but please feel free to visit.  I would love for you to subscribe and and start following my blog at the new address.

It is www.theacufffamily.com.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Reality is Found in Christ

Comparison is good if we are searching for cars but not when we are comparing ourselves to others.  It is never difficult to find someone better or worse than we are - by human standards.  Our reality, however, is found in Christ.

When making a comparison, it only makes sense to compare ourselves to perfection.  In that comparison, we see our need for a Savior.  With Christ as the plumbline, righteousness is the goal and nothing less.

But there's more...  Do you know that "in Christ" you are already righteous?
"And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption.
(1 Corinthians 1:30)  
He has declared us righteous, is perfecting His righteousness in us and will complete His work at His return.  We need not compare ourselves to others.

The next time you're tempted to compare yourself to someone in regards to looks, material possessions, talent, marital bliss/lack thereof, perception of spiritual maturity/lack thereof, or anything else, remember your reality and righteousness are found in Christ.  He is the standard by which we measure.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Basil Pesto

Did you know you can freeze pesto?  That's a good reason to make it in bulk.  I separate mine into sandwich bags (about 4 T per bag), but you can also freeze it in ice cube trays. 
4 cups fresh packed basil leaves
5 cloves garlic
1 cup grated parmesan cheese (I cube mine)
salt/pepper to taste (remember parmesan is salty)
2 cups extra virgin olive oil (drizzle as being processed)
Pesto calls for pine nuts, but I don't use them, probably because they are not a staple in my house.
Serve with pasta and grilled chicken.  

Saturday, July 16, 2011

A Dose of Daily Identity

WOO HOO!  The idea of this slapped me in the face!  The more we struggle with a problem, the more likely we are to define ourselves by that problem. I've learned to preach the gospel to myself and identify myself by what Christ has done on my behalf, BUT I have always struggled with my weight. So, I am tempted to define myself by that struggle and others I face.  How would you define yourself? Divorced, depressed, addicted, angry, abused, adulterous, dishonest, impatient, gluttonous?

Your struggle may be with one of the above or something different, but if you are in Christ, you are first a child of God.  Take 1 Peter 1:3-9 to heart.  Did you hear that?
His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness...

Whatever name-calling you're inflicting on yourself, Christ has His own name for you.  Find a list here.  
Preach it to yourself.  Preach it to others.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Responsive Reading

When I was reading this morning, Cooper asked me to read out loud so he could hear.  I was about here:
"O LORD God Almighty, who is like you?" Psalm 89:8

Cooper responded:  No One!

Ha!  I wasn't expecting a response, but my 5 year old was probably accurate. 

God is looking for a response to His Word.  

It has power and authority and requires action. doing. response.

Sometimes our response is just to wrestle with God's Word, but it's movement nonetheless, right?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

See For Yourself

"God designed us to live in community, first with him and then with one another.  According to the Bible, personal change is a community project.  In fact, it is in the process of change that we really begin to see our need for one another."  Paul Tripp

Too many times, we do not see our need for others.  Honestly, I don't think I started living in community because I was humble enough to see my need.  I think I started because I believed others when they said enough times You have to be with others to grow.  I took their word for it, although cautiously, and had to see for myself.  I have to agree with Tripp: Once the heart is transformed in community, we see our need. Maybe we don't see our need because we haven't taken that first step into real community.

Others see in us what we can't see in ourselves.  Other believers provide grace, direction, and encouragement at just the right time.  In seeing these things for myself and finding community to be an agent for change, no time soon do I want to step out of the safety of community - not until I'm in the safety of eternity.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Fall Back

When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats.  Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.  1 Peter 2:23

Are your first words those of defense?  Is arguing or pleading your case what first comes to mind?  Do you deflect the stones or catch them and throw them back in retaliation?  Do you slice others with the sharpness of your tongue when you are hurt and insulted?  
Suffering or threatened?  
When your husband is hurt and insulted?  
When your kids are hurt and insulted?
Do you entrust yourself to Him who judges justly?  To Him who secures your salvation?  To Him who marks your identity?  Do you entrust yourself to the one who speaks on your behalf?  The One who says what I think/know about you matters?
Will you entrust yourself to Him who stands in defense of your reputation? 
Will you entrust your husband?
Your kids?   

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A Man and His Music

Cooper is the lover of all things music...

No shirt required for Bongo drums.

Our attempts at transferring Keynote to video failed after many hours of work, so here are some individual videos of Cooper doing what he loves.

Spoil. Punish. Repent.

Who made the kids in your house so rotten?  I mean, seriously, who bought them all of the toys, took them out to eat so many times, let them stay up late and let them get away with sassing you like that?  This is currently one of our favorite conversations.  Why do we spoil our kids and then punish them for it?  Eating out may have been a luxury when we were growing up, but if we take our kids out to eat weekly, should we be shocked at their lack of gratitude?  When we let them stay up late, is it fair to punish them for their grumpiness the next day?  This one is going to sting:  Can we really have a sharp tongue all of the time and expect that our kids will not turn and respond as a smart alec at some point?  These examples only scratch the surface, and they don't begin to touch the baggage carried into teenage and college years.

I think most of us desire to cultivate a spirit of  gratitude in children.  The last thing we want is to send more entitled people into the world.  So what do we do with them?  More importantly, what do we do with us?
Parents:  We always start with repentance.  Then, we let the gospel reshape our thinking and doing.
Children:  Henry Van Dyke says, “Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received. Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse.”  With that said, gratitude is internal, meaning it comes from the inside out.  We can make them say "thank you" all day long, but we can't make them feel it.  We can't guilt them into it.  Can we trust the gospel will shape their thinking and doing?

John Piper agrees that gratitude is a feeling.  For more on gratitude, follow this link from Desiring God:
Is gratitude nothing more than a thoughtless feeling?

Monday, July 11, 2011

I worry what you just heard was give me a lot of bacon and eggs...

If you like Ron Swanson as much as we do, this is the video for you.

Can Someone Help Me Out Here?

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says.  James 1: 22

Have you ever known that certain changes need to take place, but you didn't know how to make them?  Maybe you even made steps but felt defeated and quickly gave up.  Have you ever known that certain changes need to take place in someone else?  Have you stood back shaking your head as they struggle for their confessional and functional theology to match up?

We have all probably been on both sides.  Some of us hear the word and want to change but we're not really sure what action to take.  Some of us know the actions to take, but instead of helping, we watch from afar hoping not to get our hands dirty -- we want others to change without it costing us.

In making disciples of Jesus, we have to be willing to show one another how to do.  Find that struggling someone and make a date.  Help them apply biblical truth to their lives, teach them their identity in Christ and provide them the accountability they need.  

"Faith only becomes faith in the act of obedience."  Bonhoeffer

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Tim Challies on Homeschooling

Tim Challies is a blogger, author and book reviewer.  He recently wrote a three part series on homeschooling.  If you are interested in following the articles, you can find the first one here.  If you read the first, you will see links for parts two and three.

I believe there are 2 ways that we can go about prayerfully discovering if we are weak or strong. Before we do that, though, we need to remind ourselves that in this context we are discussing people who are saved by grace through faith and who are not looking to any of their choices as a means of salvation. Neither are we discussing people who have refused to weigh the options. The man who enrolls his children in public schools without counting the cost and without carefully shepherding them along the way is not weak or strong—he is stupid. The person who homeschools his children because he thinks that the 4 walls of his home will protect them from sin and worldliness is not weak or strong—he is foolish. -Tim Challies

Friday, July 8, 2011

Seeping. Bursting.

For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.  Romans 8:22-23

When we drive to Chattanooga and see water seeping through the limestone from the interstate, I imagine creation groaning.  I envision the creation subjected to the evil of this world wanting to burst forth and cry out to the Holy God to restore it back to its intended state.
Do you feel it?  
Our souls do the same.  
It's welling up in you.  It's welling up in me.  There are no words adequate enough for us to express it to one another. We just know it's something we share because we're told so. Some days it seeps like the water from the limestone. Some days it feels as though it will burst from your chest. The eagerness for adoption.  The eagerness for redemption.

"The first-fruit does but whet the appetite--does but stir up the desire it was never meant to satisfy.  [It] should but excite in them an insatiable thirst after more."  Charles H. Spurgeon

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Specifically Simplicity

I am eager for God to create in my heart an anthem of simplicity -- to cut out the clogging and bondage of duplicity. 

Yesterday, I expressed a need for simplicity in my life.  Clutter often gets in the way of what I feel God is calling me to, but I would like to be more specific about what that looks like for me.

1.  Keeping our family schedule whittled down to few activities.  When we are running around non-stop, there is little room for work, quiet, study, meditation or time to focus on Gospel-centeredness and Kingdom efforts.

2.  Trying to keep consumption at a minimum.  What I've learned is the more we have, the more we have to keep up with.  It's bondage.  Not freedom. Simplicity means not having too much in our possession but also sharing what we have.

"Covetousness we call ambition.
Hoarding we call prudence.  
Greed we call industry."  
Richard Foster

Simplicity comes down to time and money in my life.  The above are my desires.  They are not my accomplishments.  I fail at them daily.  I hope to look back at the end and believe my time and money have been well spent. So far, I'm not anywhere near satisfied.

What clutter is clogging your path?  What are you doing to simplify your life?


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Reaching for Simplicity

I fear I am not meeting my full potential in Christ.  Do you ever feel there has to be more?  If the same Spirit dwelling in me is the one that raised Christ from the dead (Romans 8:11) and if the Sovereign God of the universe is for us (Romans 8:31) and if we ask anything in His name, He will do it (John 14:14), there have to be higher standards.  The higher standards aren't meant to impress others or to reach some worldly success or goals; they are a personal calling I feel tugging at my heart.  The standards will not be met only by work but by first answering the call of God on my heart.

What is the biggest obstacle to reaching the raised bar?  Our biggest obstacle is always sin.  It may be fear, the idolatry of comfort or our family, pride, greed or a moral failure.  Many times what is standing in my way is the neglect of simplicity.  I desire to seek first God and His Kingdom, but there is always a great amount of clutter causing me to seek other things first.  I may be on the right track one moment, but in the blink of an eye, I can get wrapped up in the world around me and lose sight of the reality of Christ. Richard Foster in Celebration of Discipline says, "conformity to a sick society is to be sick."

I am eager for God to create in my heart an anthem of simplicity -- to cut out the clogging and bondage of duplicity.  There is a bar to reach, the plumb line of the perfection of Christ and all He has called me to, unmet potential that I want to fight for.  There is a higher standard that deserves my all.  It was all accomplished for me on the cross, so for that, I will continue to reach. (Philippians 3:12-14)
I have this plaque on my shelf that says "simplify" to serve as a reminder.  I often joke that it is so covered with clutter that I can't see what it says.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

It's Only Cute When Kids Say The Darndest Things

Have you ever noticed that people say really dumb things when you're in a tragedy?  When Chris and I were struggling through the affair, I was amazed at the things people would say.  They ranged anywhere from being extremely insensitive to making it about themselves.  I've heard similar stories from others.  I have a friend who lost a child to cancer.  Someone remarked in the receiving line at visitation that they knew how she felt -- they had just buried the family pet a week earlier.

I became very critical of others during our difficult time and wrote them off as shallow and uncaring.  I expected many to pull through for me in ways that were probably unfair.  They were trying to help and console the best they knew how.  I learned to have more grace from my friend who lost the child. She commented to me that people just don't know what to say in a tragedy. After what she has dealt with, I'll take her word for it.

If you're in the middle of a tragedy, know that most people aren't really as inconsiderate as they appear; they may be uncomfortable and searching for the right words.  If you are on the other side of tragedy, like me, you may need to look back and show grace to some; you've probably said some pretty awkward things yourself.  And, a good lesson for all of us when dealing with those in tragedy -- it is okay to have no words.  They usually just need a listening ear anyway.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Building the Identity of Girls

One of my goals as a parent is to help instill in my girls their identity in Christ.  It is a struggle, but I don't want to emphasize their abilities or traits over that which only Christ has and will do for them.  At the point in which they begin to look to their intellect, athleticism, talent, beauty, success, weight, race, shame, mistakes, shortcomings, or sin, they will be exalting themselves to a position that those found righteous in Christ do not own.  We have His identity.

This article is beautiful.  It's a sweet story of adoption, but it's also a great reminder of how we shouldn't put our girls' identity in their beauty.  The world often speaks of building the self-worth of our children.  What is gospel-centered building?  Reminding them of who they are because of Him!