Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Friday, September 30, 2011
What do you enjoy? What experiences or things of this life do you enjoy most? Would you enjoy business success or financial gain? Do you enjoy a delicious meal from your favorite restaurant? I’m sure, like me, you would certainly enjoy a big bowl of ice cream on a hot summer day, or an icy-cold glass of lemonade after a long day’s work.
Would you enjoy owning a brand-new sports car, say a late model Ferrari or a Lamborghini Diablo? Or more realistically, would you enjoy a ridiculously fun job that meets your bills and maintains a decent standard of living for your family – how about being a toy and game designer for children? Would you enjoy a romantic evening with your spouse? Or that soft “kiss goodnight”? Maybe you would really enjoy traveling to exotic or beautifully remote locations like Alaska, Peru, New Zealand, Switzerland, or Nepal? I know I certainly would.
Or perhaps you would simply enjoy coming home to an orderly house with the family all residing in quiet, peaceful harmony. Maybe you would enjoy spending more time with your aging parents or close siblings who live out-of-state. For me, I love the simple joy of coming home to the sight of Hudson peeking out the window with a big smile on his face – all the while hearing him shout, “Daddy’s home!” There is pure enjoyment in the warmth of a child’s love.
We could go on and name two or three more dozen items or experiences that we would enjoy – and it probably wouldn’t take more than 5 short minutes. We know what we enjoy and we seek after the fulfillment of our tastes.
Built for Pleasure
We are built as beings seeking after enjoyment, happiness, and pleasure. All men, women, and children seek happiness. As Blaise Pascal wrote, “This is without exception. Whatever different means they employ, they all tend to this end [seek happiness].” But is seeking enjoyment or happiness wrong? Are we supposed to muddle along through life with a whip at our side, ready to beat ourselves into painful suffering if we enjoy life too much? Obviously, the answer is no.
Yet, there remains a problem. We are driven by a desire for something more. Like most people, you and I are driven to fill our enjoyment factor or desire quotient with something or someone that will never bring lasting joy or fulfillment.
Can we honestly say we find our greatest enjoyment and pleasure in God Himself? If we are around church friends and family, oh yes! You and I would repeat the memorized lingo.
The Hinge of Enjoyment
However, I believe you and I know, in the depths of our souls, that we find most of our enjoyment outside of God. You see, the problem is not love, joy or pleasure. We were built by God to seek these things. The crux of the matter is what we find to be the object and source of our joy or pleasure. This is the hinge on which our purpose for living hangs. Who or what we enjoy most shows what we believe to be the purpose for our existence. So, I ask myself, “Am I enjoying God Himself more than anything else?”
I know what my answer should be. But I’m not sure I can always give an honest, affirmative answer to this question. I wonder, is my relationship with God so limited and shortsighted that I am not finding all the pleasure and delight available in Him?
The God Factor
The godly, revered authors of the Westminster Shorter Catechism wrote, “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” Do I really enjoy God above all right now and look forward to an eternity dwelling in the delight of Him alone?
But then we must wonder, maybe the problem is who we know God to be. Perhaps you view God as a mean-spirited dictator who demands your duty – well performed and punctual to the timeline. Or perhaps you view God as a hateful judge who is scrutinizing your every move so he can keep your eternal rewards as slim as possible. Maybe you think God is vindictive, unforgiving, and narcissistic. Or like me, you have thought God loves you more or less depending on your daily actions. However, all of these views of God are aberrant or incomplete.
Getting God Straight
I am moved by how King David described his relationship with God:
“I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore, my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 6:8-11; see also 34:8; 36:8; 37:4; 42:1-2; 63:1; 73:25; Isa 12:12; Luke 2:10; John 10:10; Phil 4:4; Rev. 21:3-4)
Notice what David does not say. He does not say, “I have set the LORD always before me, so that he will love me more.” David does not announce, “He is at my right hand watching my every move, therefore, I am shaking with fear that I might make a mistake.” No, David views God correctly and fully. God is the source of His joy and pleasure. David has recognized that in God alone is true and full satisfaction. Therefore, he cannot contain himself! He has experienced the true pleasure and joy found in God alone, and his heart is filled with praise. Because David fully enjoy God, the Lord was made known through his life.
Because David fully enjoyed God, the Lord was made known through his life.
This is how God is glorified – this is how He is made known. When we fully grasp who God is and the joy and delight of Him, then and only then is He glorified! To tweak an old adage, you can’t put the mommy in front of the stroller. Our enjoyment of God is the means by which He is glorified. Pastor John Piper proclaims it this way: “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.”
This is the same reason why the apostle Paul boldly instructed the church in Philippi to “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice” (Phil 4:4). Even though Paul was under house arrest in Rome and far from his friends – he had found the enjoyment of God to be satisfying.
This is what it looks like now - in the present. But the pleasures of God are not just for “now” – they are also “forever” and even better! The glimpse we have caught in this present age will be finally and fully realized when Christ returns to reign on the earth forever:
“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, or crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:3-4).
Pleasure, joy, and peace in God are the promises of Christ for His people. We are to be driven by desire – the desire of God. This is why we exist. This is why we are here. We exist to make God known by enjoying Him - all the time. So I ask you and myself, have we truly begun to live for God’s glory? Have we found in Him immense joy and pleasure?
As I mentioned, who or what we enjoy most shows what we believe to be the purpose for our existence. Do we enjoy the pleasures of Christ and the joy of grace more than anything else?
Maybe you are still trying to fill the “desire quotient” with items or experiences that won’t last. Perhaps you are attempting to be satisfied through temporary pleasure, power, or possessions. Most of us have fallen into this never-ending cycle. But with King David and the Apostle Paul, I want to declare to you that God Himself – a relationship with Him through Christ – is the only thing that will ultimately satisfy. God in Christ has offered an end to the journey for pleasure. In Him alone is found the pleasure you’ve been seeking. God has invited us to enjoy Him. Will you accept?
In Christ Alone,
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
I will never forget the first moment I saw Michael. My breath caught and I felt dizzy. He was by far the most handsome guy I had ever seen. What was wrong with me? I wasn't the type of girl to get weak kneed over a guy. I calmed myself and continued my conversation, aware that he was sitting right across from me, sneaking glances my way. There was no way I could have known that at that moment he was having the same reaction. People talk about love at first sight as a myth, an illusion. I do agree there is no such thing as deep love at first sight, but there are moments of connection and Michael and I definitely connected that day. We talked on and on for hours, finding that we had a lot in common and similar hearts for ministry and Jesus. I never thought I would see him again. :-)
Thankfully, I was wrong.
Now, five years after that brief and ordained meeting, I am married to that amazing man. I thank God for him every day. I am so grateful for all the big things, but also the small (having a husband who changes diapers without complaining is indeed a huge blessing). ;-) We have endured so many things together: a honeymoon baby, a deathly ill baby and sick wife who both had severe pertussis, no money, the hardships of graduate school, hard living situations, him working 2 jobs, etc. I could go on and on, but God protected us through each step of the way. The wondrous thing about it all is that God used those difficult circumstances to draw us closer to each other, not far apart.
To say that I love him seems insignificant and lacking. It is much deeper than that and I love seeing it grow more every day.
I adore you Michael and I can't think of any way I would rather spend my life than by your side, serving Jesus together every step of the way. <3 Happy 3rd anniversary Honey O' Mine!
Sunday, June 5, 2011
Thursday, June 2, 2011
Our little Hudson now has a bit more than 2 full years under his junior-size belt. With each new day comes another word, phrase, or hilarious facial expression. He sure loves to see us smile and laugh at his nutty antics – which, of course never cease. God has taught Stephanie and I a number of lessons through our journey with Hudson thus far and this past week another unusual class session arose at the Breznau home.
Several weeks ago, Hudson figured out all the tiny critters that crawl around on our porch and driveway (and sometimes our kitchen floor) are called “bugs.” In true toddler fashion he quickly added a goofy suffix to this generic word, turning every creepy, crawly creature into a “buggy,” or if more than one was in sight, “buggies!”
Ants, spiders, beetles, grasshoppers, and every other insect in God’s creation were now: Buggies! Sometimes Hudson would spot a crumb on the floor underneath our kitchen table and quickly stand up on one of the nearby chairs, and shriek, “buggies!”
Stephanie and I would often try to differentiate ants from spiders, and beetles from grasshoppers. Yet for Hudson the jury was in: they were all “buggies.” In his young mind he understood one fact – tiny moving things with skinny legs are buggies. It didn’t matter the color, shape, or sound, they were all buggies to Hudson.
Yet, this wasn’t the only part of our little guy’s world that was “toddlerized” (i.e. this means generalized for all you pedantic types out there). His all-time favorite toy – the car – included all cars, vans, pick-up trucks, dump trucks, and smaller semi-trucks (although bigger semi-trucks were conveniently lumped in with the large “train” category, which also included the 30 yard dumpster sitting beside our church!). Life is simple in a world of just bugs, cars, and trains. However, it is also drastically incomplete, isn’t it?
Sure, Stephanie and I could go on letting Hudson call everything that moves below his ankles “buggies” and most everything with four wheels a “car,” but such lack of definition doesn’t match up to the complexity of life. Eventually, Hudson will have to mature beyond his toddler understanding about the big, varied, and multifaceted world beyond our backdoor. This task will not be easy. In order for him to learn even just a portion of the specific names for insects and cars will take time, exertion, energy, and lots of rote memorization.
From the Toddlerized to the Evangelicalized
Yet, you and I often fall into the same world of simple generalization. We have our handy “evangelicalized” terms, which fit nice, broad categories of an undefined spirituality. We all tend to simply want to understand only the easy parts of the Christian life and faith. Exertion is shunned in our day of entitlement mentalities and entertainment philosophies. We subconsciously believe that being cool or displaying a “cool-factor” trumps communion with God and tenacious devotion for Christ. And so, we look at the Bible as a quick-fix item or cure-book to solve our problems.
Yes, the Gospel message is simple enough for a child to understand. Yes, we need to value skillfully executed media presentations. Yes, being declared righteous in the sight of God is received by grace through faith apart from any human work or effort (Eph 2:8-9). But, the walk of following Christ is not simple or easy. This walk is also by grace through faith. But the process of sanctification (growing toward maturity in Christ-likeness) is not performed on disinterested, limp bodies, but in and through those made alive in Christ. If our belief or representation of the Christian life is conveyed through a medium of “easy, cool, and generalized” than you and I have grossly distorted the message of God’s Word and the call of every Christ-follower.
Alive and Thriving
Hudson is most certainly alive and well. Yet he will also be encouraged and taught to learn beyond the elementary teachings of life. He will eventually grow beyond calling every sort of insect a “buggy.” He will probably soon grow out of naming all four-wheeled vehicles simply, “cars.”
As believers in the Savior Jesus Christ, we have been made spiritually alive in Him (Rom 6:1-11). We have been brought from death to life. But are we ready to up our spiritual intake? Are we growing beyond the simple, elementary, Sunday school answers for life? Or, are we on the brink of “failure to thrive”? Do you find yourself simply brushing over the more difficult passages of God’s Word? Do you rationalize Christ’s commands far away into oblivion? Are the complexities of life’s difficulties weighing heavily on your belief system? Sometimes it seems easier to succumb to a method of Bible study that says, “Out of sight, out of mind.” Yet, our call and commission as Christ-followers is far different…
Moving from Milk to Meat
The theme of progressing in spiritual maturity beyond the stage of infancy is repeated over and over again on the pages of the New Testament. Notice here what the writer to the Hebrews said:
[regarding Melchizedek – how Jesus Christ stands in relation to Melchizedek] “Concerning him we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.” (Hebrews 5:11-13)
As those who have been made alive in Christ, the exhortation and message of the Scriptures has a clarion call for us: Grow in Your Faith. We are to be ever maturing and progressing, by the grace of God, into greater Christ-likeness. This is precisely what the apostle Paul was inspired to write about through the Spirit’s direction in his letters to the churches in Corinth and Ephesus:
“And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere man?” (1 Corinthians 3:1-3)
The result of the Corinthians spiritual immaturity was a severe and devastating disunity. They were the most horrendously perfect picture of a clique-driven church. As a result, their witness for Christ in the metropolis of Corinth was failing, flawed, and at best, weak. Unfortunately, you and I often fail to look and act any different. The church of today is rife with division, flimsy theology, self-appeasement lifestyles, and an ineffectual witness for our Savior. Yet, God has given us a specific syllabus to follow so that we will grow together and function properly as Christ’s Body. Pay close attention to the same theme found here:
“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”(Ephesians 4:11-16)
Growing Beyond Bugs, Cars, and Trains
Our purpose in maturing in Christ is that we grow together in unity and love, and by this mankind will recognize that we are followers of Christ (John 13:35). This process of maturation will not be easy – just like it won’t be easy for Hudson to expand his mind beyond “buggies,” cars, and trains.
Moving from the trite answers of an infant faith to a growing understanding of Christ’s radical call to follow after Him will take time. And, can only be accomplished by His grace, through faith, and via our dependence on His power. Each of us are to learn to work as people gifted in different ways yet all functioning as one body, with Christ as our head. This unity in diversity proclaims the amazing work of God and will show the world the reality of our faith.
Grace to Grow
All this seems rather impossible, doesn’t it? Perhaps it should. To “mature…to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” could never be accomplished in and of ourselves. Yet, as those made alive in Jesus Christ we have been given the grace to grow. You and I can grow in our faith and can up our spiritual intake by following God’s will revealed in the Scriptures.
We can be refined, purified, and directed by His Spirit through His Word. You and I can be exhorted, strengthened, and loved by others joined with us in this body. And we can be unified together in the mission of making God known in the world. This is the call of every Christ-follower. May God’s glory be known and His power be shown in and through our lives to the praise of His glorious grace.
In Christ Alone,
[This article was adapted from a sermon I delivered to the Evangel Baptist Youth Group on 6.1.11]
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
As I was reflecting on His goodness to me, the following praises came to mind. These are just a drop in the bucket... there are so many more. I could write a book from all the praises we could share, prayers answered, food and necessities provided, needs met. His mercy is new every morning and His love endures forever!
Happy... that I have such a wonderful little family.
Tired... from such a busy schedule and little sleep, but feeling rested in Jesus.
Delighted... that our seminary journey is almost complete.
Relieved... that Michael still managed to get an amazing grade in spite of all we've been through.
In Love... with my wonderful husband.
Grateful... for all Jesus has given us.
Thankful... for the friends and family He has given us the privilege to know and love. Y'all have encouraged and supported us above and beyond what we could have ever expected or asked for.
PEACE... in knowing the Prince of Peace who reigns in my heart.
Anticipating... the next part of our journey together. There is so much more to come. There is so much here now!
I could just burst with extreme gratitude. :-) God has kept us throughout this journey. One thing we tried to keep in mind is that the things of this world do not matter. Only Christ. In Him alone do I put my trust. Believe me, it's worth it.
"Jesus Christ is not valued at all until He is valued above all." ~ Augustine
Saturday, April 30, 2011
If I can reach 400 fans on facebook, I will do a huge giveaway starting May 2nd (just in time to be able to give an IOU as a gift for Mother's Day). So please share with all your friends and get them to like this page. Believe me, the giveaway will be HUGE! Also, gift certificates are available!
Monday, April 25, 2011
He is now in the running to be a finalist in the Parents Magazine cover contest! Please help him win.
I know he is my kiddo, but I think he is pretty much the cutest little charmer ever!
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Please enter her giveaway here: http://2lovebirdsonthemove.blogspot.com/2011/04/giveaway.html
You can view and buy art pieces on my etsy site: The Vintage Canvas Etsy shop
or on facebook: Stephanie Breznau-Artist
Thursday, March 31, 2011
Friday, March 18, 2011
It has been a myriad of emotions for me living in Michigan. It has been so dark, gray and cold. I am excited to see the area now that the snow has melted (a girl can hope, right?).
We absolutely love our new church family. They have been so welcoming and loving to us. We really do feel privileged to work with the teens and see Christ working in their lives. :-) We already love them so much and pray for them every day.
The house search is going well. We have a wonderful Realtor from our church. Our lives have been so very busy that we have only had the chance to go and look at houses once, but we are constantly looking at listings and praying that God will lead us to the one He wants us to have. :-)
Hudson is growing so fast and constantly amazes us at his quick learning and joyful personality. I enjoy our times of reading and playing together so much. His favorite things in the world are cars, his "bebe" (little puppy blanky he sleeps with), and mama and papa. :-) I've started working with him to sit with us in church. He is a bundle of energy so it may take a while. :-P Any tips would be appreciated. He definitely has a little will of his own and we pray that it will be used to the glory of God someday, but right now we are working on taming it. :-P
Michael is super busy with school and church work. He will walk in the DTS graduation in May, but will receive his degree upon the completion of his thesis in July. We can't wait! It has been an amazing journey, but we are definitely ready for him to be done with papers, exams, and school. Even with the pressures of everything outside our home, he remains sweet, caring, and wonderful. I sure do love my husband!
My parents came for a week-long visit the beginning of March and boy was it fun! It definitely went by way too fast though. My mom really helped me organize and de-clutter! I get to see them again in June when my "little" brother Philip gets married to his sweet Ellen (kind of weird to see him actually old enough to marry).
I try to stay busy with my little home and taking care of my boys. I also spend a lot of time drawing and trying to get my art business off the ground (The Vintage Canvas). I am looking forward to making some friends up here to do things with! I really need a girl's night. :-D
Prayer requests for our family...
* That we can be available to the teens when they need us!
* That Michael can finish school on time and for the glory of God!
* My health... going to dr's soon to try to pinpoint some things.
* That Hudson would be obedient and we can try to skip the "terrible twos" ;-)
* That I can be the wife and mother He wants me to be.
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Hudson loved it too. He looked just like a little burrito. :-)
- Stephanie B.
- My name is Stephanie and I grew up in Florida. I have been drawing since I could hold a crayon. Even though I never had any formal training, I am well known for my vibrant style. I enjoy painting murals, drawing wall art, colorful stationary & invitations, and many other artistic projects. I am currently working on writing and illustrating my first book.
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