Saturday, January 30, 2010

Upward

Andrew played in his first basketball game in the Upward league. It is a Christian basketball league put on by the Nazarene church in town. He did a very nice job playing his best on both ends of the court - defense and offense.And guess who got roped into being his coach? Somebody who doesn't know what he's doing. But at least I got a free shirt out of it!But I think the best performance of the day came from the cheering section. Go Cavaliers!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Snow toddler

He's definitely not a snow man. I've been looking forward to making a GIANT snow man this year. But the snow today was too dry so it didn't pack together.But we had fun outside anyway. We love the snow!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

99 Balloons

99 Balloons from Igniter Media on Vimeo.

Warning: Don't watch this unless you have Kleenex ready.

This video brought out a lot of different thoughts and emotions for me. But I will share two:

  1. I am absolutely amazed at how God used such a difficult human tragedy to bring glory to Himself. Even though I have never experienced something so profoundly difficult, I shouldn't be surprised that God used tragedy to bring glory to Himself considering how many times He has done that in the past as recorded in the Bible, but I am.
  2. I am utterly humbled at how blessed I am to have been given 3 beautiful and precious children. Matt has been struggling with hives for the past 6 months almost every day that often drive him to tears. Lately, the hives have been on his neck, making it difficult for him to breathe. It is painful as a parent to watch him in such discomfort. But after watching this video, I realized that I have no right to demand anything from God. He has given me 5 years with Matt's sweet smile and endearing personality. No matter what happens tomorrow, I don't deserve to be his dad or to have been given everything else I have received. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Monday, January 25, 2010

1 Corinthians 13:4-8a Matt!

He finally got it!
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We practice our verses just about every night before we read the Bible together. Memorizing doesn't come naturally to Matt, but he works hard at it. I'm proud of him for doing his best.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Special daddy time

2 years ago, I started having special daddy time with Andrew. We went out to McDonald's for a $1 sundae or maybe a Happy Meal once every month or 2. He needed some 1 on 1 attention from dad. It was good for both of us, and now we've started having some real good talks while we're out.

Last year, I started taking out Matt. He loves and needs more attention so our times out have been great for him.Today, after watching her brothers go out with daddy her whole life, Emery finally got her chance to go out with me all by herself. $2 on Whopper Jrs, $2 on a kids meal...our lunch together? Priceless.

Friday, January 22, 2010

1 Corinthians 13:4-8a Emz

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Isn't she amazing? She's been good at memorizing since she turned 2.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

#1 - The Pursuit of Holiness

2010 has started off well...in the book department.
I just finished re-reading The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges. I read this book as a teenager and remember being profoundly impacted by it. 20 years later, it's Scriptural exhortation and explanation of the process of sanctification (becoming holy) to the average Christian is timeless.
This is an incredibly readable book with great insight and depth and breadth. Bridges not only exalts a high view of God, he also shows you why and how that should impact your daily life. He balances the need to work hard at being holy with a Christ centered, grace for when we fail.
Bridges not only gives you good biblical information, he also gives you the proper way to view sin and holiness - a biblical worldview - which is priceless. Here are a few gems:
  • The absolute holiness of God should be of great comfort and assurance to us. If God is perfectly holy, then we can be confident that His actions toward us are always perfect and just.
  • But if we truly grasp the significance of God's perfect holiness, both in Himself and in His demands of us, we will readily see we can never justify before Him even the slightest deviation from His perfect will. God does not accept the excuse, 'Well, that's just the way I am,' or even the more hopeful statement, 'Well, I'm still growing in that area of my life.'
  • When we are holding on to some sin, we are not pursuing holiness and we cannot have fellowship with God.
  • You, too, if you diligently pursue holiness, must often flee to the Rock of your salvation. You flee there, not to be saved again, but to confirm in your heart that you are saved through His righteousness alone.
  • If we are to win this battle for holiness, we must recognize that the basic problem lies within us. It is our own evil desires that lead us into temptation. We may think we merely respond to outward temptations that are presented to us. But the truth is, our evil desires are constantly searching out temptations to satisfy their insatiable lusts.
  • It is time for us Christians to face up to our responsibility for holiness. Too often we say we are 'defeated' by this or that sin. No, we are not defeated; we are simply disobedient! It might be good if we stopped using the terms 'victory' and 'defeat' to describe our progress in holiness. Rather we should use the terms 'obedience' and 'disobedience.' When I say I am defeated by some sin, I am unconsciously slipping out from under my responsibility. I am saying something outside of me has defeated me. But when I say I am disobedient, that places the responsibility for my sin squarely on me.
There were a lot more good quotes that I underlined - you must read the book or re-read it if it's been a while! I'm at that stage in life where I'm not just thinking about books that are good for me but books that I want my children to read. This will be one of them.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Rev 4:11 and Col 3:9

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Andrew's cranking them out again now that Awana is back in session.
  • Revelation 4:11 You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things...
  • Colossians 3:9 Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices

Monday, January 18, 2010

The dentist

Emery went to the dentist for the first time last week.As you can tell, she LOVED it. She has been waiting with bated breath to finally go to the dentist like her big brothers, get a free toothbrush (they usually come back with one) and gum (sugar free of course)!
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And Matt's been working on his game...

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Happy Birthday Matt!

Sunday is Matt's birthday but we had his party today. This is Matt's first party inviting his friends. He was very excited about it.Matt wanted to have a Star Wars party so we got some clone troopers to drop by.We had lunch.
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And ran around in circles for a few hours. What else do 5 year-olds do?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

It's melting!

It feels like Hawaii around here. Well, not to a Hawaiian. But for us Kansans (when do I become official?), it's very warm around here. It's amazing to be saying this considering how I felt last winter, but highs in the 40's feel quite warm to me.
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While we have some snow left, Sandy took our kids and Julia and Nathan out sledding the other day. Somehow Nate got stuck.
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The things you can do...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Happy Anniversary Part 2

I managed to scan a couple of our wedding photos in quicker than I thought. Here's the original:This is my favorite wedding picture.And here's us in the same spot 10 years older and 3 kids later. Wow! Where did all my hair go?!Here's another original.Notice how timeless and beautiful my wife looks! I know, I married well.

Another facet of the Lee Family Retreat is evaluating how we are doing as husband and wife, spiritual leader and helper. I've always thought my wife is great, but this past year, she showed again how "Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised" (Proverbs 31:30).

Not only does she manage our home, take care of 3 young children, home school and train them in biblical instruction, provide warm hospitality to many a guest (and there were many this year), serve many ladies in the church during the week, serve faithfully in several areas in our children's ministry, cook fabulous meals for our family, do all of this on a tight budget, but she's also my biggest source of encouragement, advice and help in all of my ministry.

I'll let you in on a little secret - it's not all glory being an Equipping Pastor. :) Occasionally, I run into conflict and complaints. But Sandy has been such an encouragement, provider of godly wisdom and source of strength during the tough times. She has truly been a woman that deserves her husband's praise.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Lee Family Retreat Part 2

Our Lee Family Retreat was a lot of fun. It was relaxing and refreshing. I got to spend a lot of time praying and thinking about why I'm doing what I'm doing. It gave me a lot of spiritual perspective on the past year. I think it's too easy for me to get caught up in the day to day and live for the temporal rather than the eternal.I also got to marvel at this bright red cardinal in a labyrinth of ice.

As many of you know, I'm a goal oriented person and a planner. Proverbs 21:5 says, "The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage, But everyone who is hasty comes surely to poverty." It is good to plan and God in fact makes plans (Psalms 33:11; Isa 25:1). But unlike most planners, I do my best not to put my hope in plans but to use plans as a tool to create more flexibility and freedom to love and serve God.

In my personal plans, I try to use my planning to discipline myself for the purpose of godliness. And by the grace of God, I met all my goals in 2009. I think it was first. Usually, I am too ambitious in my goals. But last year, I met them all! I guess living in Kansas helps me be more disciplined in life.

So this year, a few but not all of my personal goals include:
  • Continuing to memorize Scripture - 1 new passage a month in addition to maintaining my previous passages. In 2009, I memorized Psalms 13:1-5; 40:16; 42:1-2; Luke 10:17-20, 38-42; 1 Peter 3:8-9; Matthew 9:35-36; Ephesians 4:30-32; Colossians 3:12-14; Acts 12:21-23; 2 Chronicles 7:13-14; Daniel 4:30-33. If you wondering what's the logic behind the passages, I was memorizing verses on the themes of humility (because I am proud), gentleness (because I am at times harsh) and now having a passion for God (because I often don't love God as much as I want to).
  • Read through the Bible - I have read the Bible before several times, but I've never done it in a year. I was reading about George Mueller (worked with orphanages in the 1800's) a while back and was challenged by the fact that he read through the Bible every year and had read it some 50+ times at least.
  • Read 16 books - I thought I would up my goal from last year (12). But keep in mind that I want to re-read 3 books, read 3 biographies and read 3 history books - so it's not like I'm reading 16 theological books.
  • Run a half marathon in less than 2 hours - I ran the LA marathon 8 years ago and before kids. I ran a 10k last year. So I'm hoping I can run a little more. I think the bodily discipline will help my spiritual disciplines and overall health.
Now keep in mind that I share these goals for fun. I'm not bragging because I know of many people who memorize more than me, read the Bible more than me, know the Bible better than me, live the Bible far better than me, read far more books than me and run far longer and faster than me. I just want to share what I am hoping to do this year to better live for the glory of God and to encourage others to keep pressing on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Happy Anniversary!

By the grace of God, we've hit 12 years! It's fun being able to look back at this blog and see my post for our 11 year anniversary here. I'll post more (hopefully tomorrow) about my thoughts on marriage and our Lee Family Retreat. But for now, here's a little look back.This is us at Hearst Castle in CA for our 10 year.This also a 10 year anniversary picture (I have to scan in our wedding pics! This is the same pose and location as one of our wedding shots. I want to go back to Glendale, CA for our 20 year anniversary and do the same thing!)This is us at our 7th anniversary / Lee Family Retreat. Don't we look the same today as we did back then?! Ha! And Sandy was 9 months pregnant by the way with Matt.Guess who still keeps trying to squeeze in between us?God has given us 3 very tangible blessings after 12 years of marriage.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Lee Family Retreat

Sandy and I just returned from the annual Lee Family Retreat! It was another fabulous time reflecting on the past year and planning for this coming year. It was great to spend hours reading God's Word, praying and talking about what God has done and is doing in our lives, our marriage, our kids and our household (more details in a post to come). It is definitely one of the highlights of our year!We stayed at a bed and breakfast fairly close by (just outside of Council Grove). One of the great things about this place is that it's out in the country, and we get the whole house to ourselves.Without the kids, we get to rest and relax a bit. Nothing like a hot bath on a cold day. In fact, it was so cold the pipes froze in part of the house. I think the low was below zero. I guess it's one of the coldest snowiest winters we've had around here for some 30-40 years.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Dinner Conversation

Wow, I'm off to a good blogging start to the new year. 2 in 1 day! We had interesting conversation over dinner with the kids tonight.

Andrew: "My favorite foods are: shrimp, bacon, fish cake, ha-ja-bee's meat (galbi) and his crab and lobster!" We said, "Wow, high culinary tastes for a little boy." Then Matt had to of course tell us what his favorite foods are.
Matt: "My favorite foods are tomatoes, tangerines, oranges, yogurt and milk. Oh yeah, and bacon." I'm pretty sure he just threw in the bacon to be like Andrew. He's my little vegetarian. He's not kidding about his love for tomatoes and tangerines. At dinner after he finished his quesadilla he started DRINKING his left over salsa which I had in a separate little bowl for him. Then for dessert, he turned down chocolate fudge for a tangerine. At least he'll always be regular. :)

Then Matt asks: Are we real?
Dad: Who?
Matt: Us. All of us! (pointing at the family)
Dad: Yes.
Matt: Oh. Is Satan real too?
Dad: Yes.
Matt: Oh.

Sometimes I have to wonder what is going on in that little brain of his. Then the conversation got theological.

Emery: Will Jesus ever visit the lake of fire?
Mom: I don't think so. (But he has before, maybe he would again, who knows?)
Emery: How long will the people in hell have to be there? Until they become Christians?
Mom: They have to be there forever. Once you die then you don't get another chance to be a Christian. That's why it's important to choose to follow Jesus while you're alive.
Emery: Didn't say anything but became very serious in her expression and quietly went back to eating. I guess that was a sobering thought even for a 3 year old.

Snow days

I think I know what it feels like to live in Minnesota now. We had yet another snowfall yesterday but this time a chilling wind came with it. I think today's high is 8. The last time I checked the temperature today it was 6 degrees, but -14 with the wind. At least with the snow it's pretty outside even if it's too cold to actually go out.

The kids have had to make the most of being indoors all day lately. They have really been into playing "Superfriends" lately. It's quite cute to watch them and reminds me of a picture of Sam and I doing our super hero poses at about the same ages as these two.
They're searching for bad guys that need capturing from the Hall of Justice.

Superman and Supergirl were never so cute!
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Mattew does the traditional flying with fists out in front. Emery has her own style of flying, holding the sides of her "cape."


We got a surprise visit from some friends yesterday and the kids were thrilled to have some company. Emery got some dress up clothes for Christmas from her grandmother and it was precisely for this reason. Are these two girls fancy or what?!

Monday, January 4, 2010

1 Corinthians 13:4-8a

We have been working on helping the kids to love one another (and not fight with one another). So it occurred to me that maybe I should show them what God means when He commands us to love one another. What a novel idea!
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Sunday, January 3, 2010

#19 - The Joy of Fearing God

The last book I finished reading in 2009 was The Joy of Fearing God by Jerry Bridges. It brought my total for the year to 19 and my goal was 12. Praise God!This was a very good book. I recommend it to all. Bridges started off with a bang, seemed to lose me a bit in the middle (it could have been those sleepless nights I had that shut my brain down a bit) but then finished strong. He did a good job explaining from Scripture how there is great joy in fearing God and that those 2 ideas are complementary, not contradictory.

The fear of God and trying to raise my view of God has been something I've been trying to develop especially this past year. This book will definitely help you if you are interested in growing in fearing God. Here are a few tasty morsels of truth:
  • 'The fear of God is the soul of godliness.' That is, the fear of God is the animating and invigorating principle of a godly life. It is the wellspring of all godly desires and aspirations. Do you desire to be a godly person? Then you must understand and grow in the fear of God.
  • We stand in awe not only of God's fiery splendor and absolute purity, but also of His grace and mercy to us.
  • Emotional feelings of awe, reverence, honor, and adoration will definitely be stimulated within us as we have great thoughts about God - as we encounter His majesty, splendor, holiness, and love.
  • [John] Calvin concludes, 'As a consequence, we must infer that man is never sufficiently touched and affected by the awareness of his lowly state until he has compared himself with God's majesty.'
  • Had sin never entered the world it still would be fitting for us to fear God - to bow in reverential awe before Him...But sin did enter the world - and because of His holiness, God now reveals Himself as the hater of sin and the just punisher of sinners. But He also reveals Himself in the person of His Son as merciful and gracious Savior. Our awe of His holiness can be joined with amazement at His love.
  • 'Godly fear,' wrote John Bunyan, 'flows from a sense of the love and kindness of God to the soul. Where there is no sense of hope of the kindness and mercy of God by Jesus Christ, there can be none of this fear, but rather wrath and despair, which produces a fear that is...devilish;...but godly fear flows from a sense of hope of mercy from God by Jesus Christ.'
Bridges ends with this quote from Isaiah 30:10-11, "They say to the seers, 'See no more visions!' and to the prophets, 'Give us no more visions of what is right! Tell us pleasant things, prophesy illusions. Leave this way, get off this path, and stop confronting us with the Holy One of Israel!'

"This is the description of so much of Christianity around us today. 'Tell us pleasant things, but above all, stop confronting us with the Holy One of Israel. Don't speak to us of the fear of God.'...God does have His faithful ones, however. Even in these difficult days there are those who delight to fear God and who encourage others to do the same.

"Are you one of those? If so you have already discovered the joy of fearing God."

This was a good book but second behind my favorite Jerry Bridges book - The Pursuit of Holiness. That one is a MUST read.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

I love the New Year. I love looking back on the past year and recounting all the amazing things God has done. I also love looking forward to the next year and all of the endless possibilities that God may bring about.Now as a father of 3, I get to see God's grace and goodness in the lives of my children as well.This past year has been filled with so much laughter and so many touching moments. How much better will heaven be?!Until Christ returns, fun times await in the year ahead.