Friday, January 30, 2009

The Quest for Character

The past couple of days I have been reading The Quest for Character by John MacArthur. It is such a convicting read. I just got through the beatitudes part. I know this is kind of long, but it is very much worthwhile to read through. Here are some of my favorite parts so far:


The Character Crisis

“The only societies that confer celebrity status on immoral and villainous people have been cultures in serious decline and on the precipice of utter ruin”

“People today literally entertain themselves with iniquity….virtue and infamy have traded places.”

“Honest character is now seen as totally optional- or worse, hopelessly unfashionable.”



Blessed are the poor in spirit,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn,
For they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek,
For they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
For they shall be filled.

Blessed are the merciful,
For they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart,
For they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers,
For they shall be called sons of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.



“Every one of the Beatitudes focuses on what we are, not merely what we do.”

“They [the beatitudes] show us our need for a Savior and direct us to Christ for the forgiveness and cleansing we need.”



1. A Humble Spirit

“We are not fundamentally good. We are not in any way spiritually self-sufficient. We are fallen sinners in desperate need of a Savior. We are spiritual paupers.”

“Humility before God is the first and most essential of all virtues.”


2. A Repentant Sorrow

“Mourning of repentance”

“ ‘Godly sorrow produces repentance’. This kind of sorrow has a healing effect. It involves painful anguish over the wickedness of our own sin. But because it produces repentance, it results in forgiveness- and that is the only un-regrettable answer to all our regrets.”

Worldly sorrow is characterized by resentment over our sin’s consequences. Its ultimate fruit, the Bible says, is death.”


3. A Meek Composure

“Meekness is not weakness…meekness is strength under control.”

“Meekness is where humility and self-control meet.”


4. A Parched Soul

“Want to be truly satisfied? Cultivate and feed an appetite for righteousness.”

“The Beatitudes are not merely the first signposts on our quest for character; they are also the keys to true happiness.”


5. A Merciful Compassion

“Mercy is vital to godly character. If you want to reflect the epitome of God’s own heart and character, cultivate mercy.”

“…mercy colors God’s dealings even with those who hate Him, and if our character is going to be a reflection of His, we must be merciful even to those who hate us. That’s not a natural quality for fallen human hearts, but it is essential to the quest for authentic godly character.”


6. A Pure Heart

“What really counts in God’s estimation is the state of our hearts…and there’s nothing we can do for ourselves to make our hearts clean…that’s why Christ died- to redeem us from that bondage.”

“…justification, which involves not just the forgiveness of our sin and the erasure of our guilt but also the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to us.”


7. A Passion for Peace

“ ‘Pursue peace will all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord’. Peace and holiness are indivisible partners. Try to divorce the two virtues and you destroy them both.”

“…anyone who genuinely loves holiness will spurn the false, worldly “peace” of blithe tolerance for evil things. That is not true peace in any sense. It’s actually a thin disguise for fallen humanity’s hostility against God.”


8. A Steadfast Love for Christ

“It’s ironic and highly significant that Jesus moves immediately from the idea of encouraging peacemakers to the reality that a person with righteous character inevitably will incur persecution.”

“The persecution He describes is a specific kind. He’s not blessing those who are merely suffering the due consequences of some sin…this beatitude applies to those who take a stand for Christ and suffer because of it…He is blessing people who are innocently and falsely accused by others for no reason other than the persecutors’ resentment of everything righteous.”

“Don’t take persecution as a personal insult, and don’t retaliate in kind. But endure the affront for Jesus’ sake, remembering His example of never returning reviling for reviling or threat for threat.”



This is as far as I have gotten! Next comes “The Progression of Faith”.

Friday, January 23, 2009

January

Well, the month of January is coming to a close, well, at least in a week it will. I thought that maybe it was a good time to update!

Neal has started his LAST semester of undergraduate classes. 6 CLASSES! Yes, he is crazy! They are proving to be quite challenging and time consuming, but he is learning a lot. He comes home and just talks my ear off almost every night about what he's learning in his classes, especially his energy policy class. It seems like this is a field that he is incredibly interested in, so much so that he is seriously considering looking for a job in is directly in or at least relates to the field. The "offer" from GE Energy in Duluth would be kind of in this area, but not exactly what he is looking for. We'll keep looking!


I've gotten back in to the full swing of things at work. Each day is still different and still exciting. I'm really glad, thankful and blessed to have this job where I still look forward to going to work...almost every day! The people I work with, one gal in particular, Kenzie, has been such a blessing in my life. Almost every day that she works, we eat lunch together. It is not atypical to find our conversation going back to theology and how to apply the Word of God to every situation that is going on around us, not only at work, but also in our personal lives outside of the consulate's walls. We have both had opportunities to witness to some of the five Consul's in our office. We joked back and forth at Christmas time when our new Consul General picked out a Christmas card to send to all of his colleagues, and it had 1) a Bible verse 2) a manger scene with wise men and 3) it actually said Merry Christmas and not Happy Holidays! Oh the little joys that brighten the days! I am just so thankful to be in an environment like that!


Neal was in a car accident, he was hit from behind, the week before we left for our trip to Spain & France. We took the car in to the shop and were expecting to get it back shortly after we returned two weeks later. Well, when we got back state-side, they had not even begun to work on it. So, we had to get a rental. Well, finally, a month and a half after we first dropped the car off at the shop, we got the little guy back today! We were really getting use to driving our big ole' Ford truck, so it was very strange and felt like we were sitting on the ground when we got back in to our car! We definitely are thankful to have it back though.

Other than work and school, things have been fairly calm. We have enjoyed having some families and dear friends in our home for fellowship and of course food! It seems like we went on an entertaining spree a few weeks ago having 5 separate occasions in 2 weekends! We enjoyed the fellowship and catching up!

Neal & I are really looking forward to February: birthdays, Valentine’s Day and especially the counseling conference are all going to be packed in to this short month! We have been recruited to help with some of the behind the scene's stuff for the conference, which I at least love doing, but the teaching that we anticipate hearing makes us very eager for the time to arrive! I’ll be sure to post the highlights! (you can get more info here: faithcommunitychurch.org)

Well, until next time,

Neal Franklin & Deborah Lynn

Friday, January 2, 2009

Happy New Year

So, what happened this year? In a quick “cliff-notes” version (not that I know what cliff notes are mom!) here it is:

January-
Moved back to Georgia! WooHoo!!!
Started my last semester as an undergrad

February-
Celebrated our 22nd birthdays

March-
Went to Savannah to celebrate my grandmother's 80th birthday

April-
Studied for final finals!

May-
I graduated from KSU!!
Planned a 4 day Indian wedding...this was my first commissioned ethnic/blended wedding!

June-
1 year wedding anniversary!!!!
Joel & Ifat got married
David & Caroline got married

July-
Neal worked at GE
I had to find a "real" job :(

August-
St. George with the family
Neal starts his last year at Georgia Tech

September-
I found a job at the Korean Consulate!!!!!

October-
Neal's mom celebrated her 50th birthday

November-
Thanksgiving with Neal's siblings and found out that David & Caroline are expecting a little one on July 4th!
Thanksgiving with my family
Thanksgiving with Neal's parents (we were really stuffed by this point!)
45-42!!!!!!!!!

December-
Neal's semester finally ended
Christmas with Neal’s parents before we left
2 weeks in Barcelona and Paris
Christmas with my family when we got back

We got back from our wonderful trip two weeks ago today. Hard to believe it has been that long already! We had such an amazing and relaxing time exploring the culture and art and sights of both Barcelona and Paris! It was nice to actually get to see Neal again. I think I had almost forgotten what it was like to see him on a consistent basis! His last semester was just tremendously demanding of his time. Some weeks I only saw him when I would wake up in the morning before I had to head off to work! So, after months of that, needless to say, it was very nice to have my husband back!

We headed off to Barcelona on Sunday afternoon, December 15th. We arrived around 8am on Monday. We were exhausted from the travels and school and work, so all we did was sleep away Monday. It was rainy anyways, so why not!!! Tuesday though, we woke up and hit the town! Here are some highlights from the week in Barcelona:


Overview of Barcelona from Parc Guell


Sagrada Familia- this bascilica has been under construction for 100 years and is 50% complete



Casa Mila by Antonio Gaudi



I'm at the Mediterranean Sea!


Neal on top of the world at Montserrat


Eating dinner in our favorite spot on the La Rambla: Egyptie

National Cathedral in Barcelona- built on ancient Roman walls


Neal with the mosaic lizard in Parc Guell

After a magnificent week in Barcelona, we boarded another plane for Paris. Neal has been a time or two before, but this was my first experience in the city of lights! Was I excited or what?! It was rainy and freezing cold on Monday when we got there, but that was not going to stop us one bit from enjoying what Paris has to offer!

We were blessed to be able to meet up with Neal’s Uncle, Aunt, two cousins, and paternal grandmother. They are currently stationed in Germany with the US Army, and Paris is a short 4 hour drive away. We spent Monday, Tuesday, and most of Wednesday exploring and sight-seeing with them. Here are a few highlights from that time:
Champs Elysees
Eiffel tower from the Arc de Triomphe


On the top of the Eiffel Tower
View of the city from the top of the Eiffel Tower
Arc de Triomphe
Notre Dame



Inside the glass pyramid at the Louvre


Mona Lisa!


Eiffel Tower on Christmas Day


Christmas came and went. We packed and reminisced about all of the amazing things we had seen and done. We headed back home on Friday, December 26th. I’ll spare you the details of the nauseated plane ride and 4 hour delays on the way back home!

Neal has had this past week off of school. I had to return to work on Monday. It has been a pretty quiet and uneventful week, but it was a good transition back to normalcy!

We had a quiet New Year’s Eve at home. Started watching the Chick-fil-a bowl, but we didn’t finish it…. New Year’s day we went to the King Tut exhibit with my family. It was very interesting and educational. I would recommend it!



Yeah, a lot happened this past year that really kept us on our toes! We thank the Lord for seeing us through it all. We are praying for peace and joy, restoration and guidance in our families for this next year! I will try to update more frequently for all of the family members that are geographically distant!!

Happy New Year and God Bless,

Neal & Deborah Parker