Tuesday, June 14, 2011

...love at first sight...

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

:: ah, wee babes are a delight ::

Yes. We are expecting another wee one in our home. Can't wait!!!! Children are a blessing from the Lord. :-D

Some prayer requests:
* safe, uneventful, and healthy pregnancy for me.
* healthy baby
* to find a house soon!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Up Your Intake...

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,

Michael Breznau

[This article was adapted from a sermon I delivered to the Evangel Baptist Youth Group on 6.1.11]

About Me

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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.