Wednesday, March 31, 2010

#7 - The First World War by John Keegan

I have started to grow in my interest of history, especially military history. I've heard a bit about John Keegan as a military history authority so I decided to read his book. I was actually intending to read his book on WWII, but the library only had this one ready so I went with this one first.
It was fascinating to learn about WWI as I really knew next to nothing about it. I was amazed to learn about the first modern war that really wasn't that modern. It was more like the first war that started to transition to modern warfare. Many of the armies involved were switching from bright colored, wool uniforms to more utilitarian camouflage type uniforms, from simple rifles to machine guns and powerful artillery, from straightforward marching into battle in columns to trying to avoid being shot and killed! Novel concepts, I know.


Tanks and airplanes came into the picture toward the end of the war (1914-1918) and wireless communication (radio) was non-existent. Although trucks and trains were used frequently, millions of horses were a part of battle and thus millions of horses died in battle.


It really was tragic in that the reasons for war were extremely petty, the desire results of the war by most of the combatants were almost non-existent in terms of even changing land boundaries, and some 15 million died in seemingly pointless battles of attrition.


The armies had somewhat modern machine guns and artillery to defend their positions effectively. However, without modern communication, generals who were miles from the battle line, had to rely on runners for updates from the battle. Therefore, generals were making decisions about battles hours after the fact, sometimes days. Needless to say, when your current battle plan is not working, waiting hours to days for the signal to retreat while being mowed down by machine gun fire is not an effective way to win a battle, let alone survive.


It was also staggering to find out that generations of young men were pretty close to wiped out. In Britain, France and Germany, huge percentages of young men were killed or wounded badly. This left millions of young widowed women or single women without any chance of getting married because the men were physically not available.


The consequences of sin and life without God are absolutely tragic.


I liked the book, but it was long - over 400 pages. It was somewhat confusing at times since I am not familiar with European geography though there were a few maps to help. I thought it was worth the read but only if you like military history. I especially wanted to understand the history that led to WWII.

Monday, March 29, 2010

2 Corinthians 5:17

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This verse takes on a whole new meaning now that Andrew is a new creation!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Transformers

...More than meets the eye.Lately, the boys and even the girl have been really into playing Transformers. So Emery wanted to have guns attached to her arms like every little girl dreams of...Unfortunately, she was no match for Optimus Prime. And to add injury to insult, she couldn't get up because of her guns!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Weight loss

I think the boys lost a lot of weight today.But it mostly came from their heads. I finally cut their hair today. They were getting SUPER shaggy.Before...After! I've been cutting Andrew's hair for 7 years and Matt's for 4 years. But I still can't give them a decent haircut! I am no Mr. Kraft (their winter barber - We grow their hair longer in the winter and I can't cut longer hair at all). However, I console myself by reminding myself about the hundreds of dollars I've saved over the years. So far, I've had no complaints. But I figure they're going to start noticing at about 13 or so. I have 6 more years to figure this out!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Celebration

Last week, I needed to give Sandy some time to study as she will be teaching at our next women's ministry event. And I wanted to celebrate Andrew's new found faith. So I took the boys and girl to Chuck E Cheese. Where else?Matt and Emery loved riding in the monster truck.Emery loved every single minute of it.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Proverbs 20:3

"Keeping away from strife is an honor for a man, but any fool will argue."
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We need this verse because in our house, there can be strife...hard to believe, I know.
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Monday, March 22, 2010

The Season

Andrew finished up his basketball season last Saturday. It was his first with Upward basketball and my first as a coach. I think it worked out rather well.The temperature has really warmed up. So our snowman started falling apart - oh the stress of life in Kansas! Andrew was so upset about the impending death of our snowy friend that he created a mini-man and tried to save him by putting him in our refrigerator (not the freezer though!). Nice try kid.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Hello spring!

On the first day of spring, God brought us sub-freezing temps, 20-30 mph winds and SNOW!The boys built a snow fort.Emery helped me clear the driveway.Then she fainted - just kidding mom!Then dad played with the snow. I forced Andrew to play with me - push it boy!I had visions of a 10 foot tall snowman. Alas, this was the biggest snow man I could make.

On a side note, Andrew has successfully had "quiet times" - reading his Bible on his own for 2 days now. And Emery asked me about 10 times if we could "talk" so that SHE could become a Christian too. She desperately wanted to become a Christian! But after talking, we both agreed that she doesn't quite understand what that means but she'll keep learning in the hopes of one day becoming a Christian.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Born again

John 3:3 Jesus answered and said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God."Yesterday, by the grace of God, our little Andrew confessed Jesus as Lord and Savior - Romans 10:9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. This is the day we've been praying and hoping for, for the last 8 years, since before he was even born!

Granted, we acknowledge that only time will tell if he truly bears fruit 30, 60 or 100 fold and shows evidence of his confessed faith. And we stressed the need for him to not trust in this prayer or this day but to daily trust in Christ's death on the cross and resurrection regardless of anything he does or does not do - Romans 1:17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH."

Andrew has been asking to become a Christian on and off for several years. But every time, we would ambiguously put him off and see if he was truly interested. Typically, he would seem to forget and not pursue it further. But recently, he has been very persistent and looking forward to this moment.

So we talked last night about the Gospel in some detail and its implications for the rest of his life. He was ready to repent and believe, trusting only in Christ for salvation. He articulated the Gospel quite clearly. Afterward, he said, "This is the happiest day of my life!" He had a mixture of sober mindedness (seemingly understanding the gravity of it all) and joy. And already in 1 day, his attitude seems to have a new perspective.

He also asked if I was going to announce it in our Sunday service! I told him that the Bible says that he needs to be the one to confess Christ and tell others of his new faith...but maybe I can pull some strings for him! :) We also talked about how someday, maybe soon, he would have to be baptized. His first question was, "What do I wear when I get baptized?" He was ready to go.

We are cautiously optimistic that our son has been born again by the grace of God for the glory of God. May the heavens rejoice! Luke 15:7 "I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance."

Thursday, March 18, 2010

#6 - Already Gone by Ken Hamm & Britt Beemer

If you haven't heard of Ken Hamm and his creation / evolution ministry, Answers in Genesis, yet please do go check them out. In this book, Hamm using Britt Beemer's marketing company took a survey of 1,000 young people in their 20's who had grown up in fairly conservative, evangelical churches to try and determine why they had left the church.
I guess other studies have shown that about 60% of kids who grow up in the church leave after HS graduation. So Hamm wanted to figure out why and thus how to stop it.


One of the most interesting findings of the book surprised me quite a bit. I, probably with most Christian parents, hope that my kids continue to love Jesus when they leave for college. I see the crucial point of decision as being college. However, according to this research, Hamm concludes that most children start "leaving" faith in MS and HS before college even comes.

He cites that about 40% of these people surveyed had doubts about the truth of the Bible in MS, 44% in HS and 11% in college. After the doubts about the Bible came, they started following those doubts by physically leaving the church - 95% attended church regularly in elementary and MS, 55% attended in HS, 11% still attended in their early college years.


As I have worked with children and teens (and their parents) for almost 20 years now, and having these 3 of my own, I have really begun to understand the depth of Proverbs 22:6, "Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it." Children generally are not living one certain way until the teen years hit and then they suddenly morph into Godzilla! Though they may not evidence certain behaviors until they are older, the seeds of these practices are typically evident during their elementary and MS years.


I have been mulling this vague idea in the back of my mind for a few years now, but the evidence in this book really brought it out clearly.


The other very interesting conclusion that Hamm discovered was that young people don't truly believe in evolution. This survey and others of the general population show that most people generally don't believe that people came from apes. Isn't this ironic considering how hard the media and higher education have tried to force this conclusion upon people going so far as presenting known fabrications of fossil evidence as true? Not only does the actual evidence of science fall strikingly short of evolution, but on a logical level, it doesn't make a lot of sense that one species would turn into a completely different species.


However, the true issue is that undermines biblical authority is the earth being millions of year old. Hamm writes, "But the issue of the earth being millions of years old? This is the big stumbling block...everybody assumes that the earth and the universe are millions and billions of years old, so they interpret all the facts through that preconceived mindset. Then when the Bible says that it happened in six days, they assume that the Bible is inaccurate, and that causes them to disbelieve the Bible more than any other single factor."


"When it comes to a major factor that has caused people to reject biblical authority, millions of years is the issue; it's not really evoluton. If you can't believe in millions of years, you can't believe in evolution."


And so many Christians have accepted that the universe is billions of years old when the entire basis of this philosphy rests on circular in reasoning. No actual hard data exists that is not based on an assumption of the universe being billions of years old which is almost exactly what the Bible predicted in 2 Peter 3:1-6, specifically v.4 - the theory of Uniformitarianism.


And if you don't believe in the Bible, every single detail, it is often the first step that leads you to not believe in the Gospel. And if you don't believe in the Gospel, that's obviously big trouble. And that is why, according to Ken Hamm, our young people are already gone. His solution is to teach the Bible and defend the truth that it is.


While I agree with his overall solution, I think his solution depends too heavily on the church and does not focus enough on parents. For if parents knew God's Word, loved God's Word, lived out God's Word, could defend God's Word and explain God's Word to their children as God's Word says they should, then I'm pretty sure the statistics would be different with their children. The church, while playing a vital role in helping parents and supplementing them, is not a parent.


I wouldn't recommend this book unless you have a real interest in this subject (or you just like graphs and survey statistics!) and want more details though it was a fun and easy read.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Wink, wink

For some reason, I think it's the funniest thing when my kids try to wink. Emphasis on TRY.
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Monday, March 15, 2010

#5 - The Treasure Principle

Unfortunately, I'm still not well. However, I have made significant improvement in the last 2 days. I think, by the grace of God, I have turned the proverbial corner and am on the upswing.

One of the benefits of this sickness, was that it afforded me time to read. So I managed to finish The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn. For those of you who have read this book, and it's a re-read for me, you know that this is not much of an accomplishment as it is only 100 some pages with small pages on top of that!

However, what it lacks in volume, it more than makes up for in biblical depth. In fact, this little book may be more challenging than any other book I have ever read. What other book literally asks you to put your money where your mouth is and make significant changes in your giving habits for your eternal good?

The Treasure Principle is quite simple - "You can't take it with you - but you can send it on ahead." Here are a few quotes:
  • 15 percent of everything Christ said relates to this topic - more than His teachings on heaven and hell combined. Why did Jeus put such an emphasis on money and possessions? Because there's a fundamental connection between our spiritual lives and how we think about and handle money. We may try and divorce our faith and finances, but God sees them as inseperable.
  • Consider what Jesus is saying: 'Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth.' Why not? Because earthly treasures are bad? No. Because they won't last...But when Jesus warns us not to store up treasures on earth, it's not just because wealth might be lost; it's because wealth will always be lost. Either it leaves us while we live, or we leave it when we die. No exceptions.
  • The more we give, the more we delight in our giving - and the more God delights in us. Our giving pleases us. But more importantly, it pleases God.
  • Giving isn't a luxury of the rich. It's a privilege of the poor. I've discovered that impoverished Christians find no greater joy than in giving...these early Christians were dirt poor but came up with every reason they could to give. They begged for the privilege of giving! What a contrast to us, who have much more than they had but manage to come up with endless justifications for not giving!
  • Many Christians dread the thought of leaving this world. Why? Because so many have stored up their treasures on earth, not heaven. Each day brings us closer to death. If your treasures are on earth, that means each day bring you closer to losing your treasures.
  • Money leads; hearts follow. I've heard people say, 'I want more of a heart for missions.' I always respond, 'Jesus tells you exactly how to get it. Put your money in missions - and in your church and the poor - your heart will follow.' Do you wish you cared more about eternal things? Then reallocate some of your money, maybe most of your money, from temporal things to eternal things. Watch what happens.
  • The act of giving is a vivid reminder that it's all about God, not about us. It's saying I am not the point. He is the point. He does not exist for me. I exist for Him. God's money has a higher purpose than my affluence. Giving is a joyful surrender to a greater person and a greater agenda. Giving affirms Christ's lordship. It dethrones me and exalts Him. It breaks the chains of mammon that would enslave me.

If you want to avoid the possibilty of change in your life, DON'T read this book. If you want to maintain the status quo in your life, DON'T read this book. But if you want to entertain the possibility that you love the things of this world more than you should, read this book. If you want to challenge yourself to give more and enjoy everything that comes with that, read this book.

I personally felt that lately, I had started to become too attached to worldly things rather than eternal things and that I needed to re-read this book. I was not feeling as generous and joyful in my giving as before. It was well worth it - I highly recommend this book. Maybe it's time for you to read or re-read it too.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Random pics

Are they listening to the same thing?
I'm cute even when I'm cold.Guess who got her 2nd haircut (of her life!) today? It really ISN'T easy being pretty!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Happy Birthday!

Can you believe my mom and Sandy's mom both have the same birthday? We love you!
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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Mute

After a relatively healthy winter, I have finally succumbed to the Kansas germs. I came down with a sore throat last week. I managed to keep it together, by the grace of God, long enough to finish preaching last Sunday. But after that, I have been pretty much mute. Although my ears work fine, I was surprised at how no one feels comfortable talking with me. It's amazing how talking facilitates listening.

I tried to fight through it this week and keep working, but finally, an older, wiser man advised me to just stay home and get better! I listened and stayed home...
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But who can rest in our house?!
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In any case, while I've been trying to rest, the boys and girl have been up to no good. As I was filming, I had the sneaking suspicion that something really bad was about to happen, but thankfully, my spider senses were off...just like my health.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

#4 - Don't Make Me Count to 3!

Or 4, or 5 or 10 for that matter.
As you can tell from this blog, a lot of my time and energy revolves around parenting. I need all the help I can get, so I generally keep reading parenting books. Ginger Plowman's book, Don't Make Me Count to 3!, was well worth the price of admission.
This book focuses on the specific area of discipline and all that comes with that. She explains the biblical purpose of discipline, how to correct your child verbally and how to use the rod to correct your child. Plowman explains why you need to shepherd the heart of your child (a phrase very much misunderstood in Christian circles these days) and then shows how to do so.
She does a very good job warning parents to not misuse the rod - out of anger, frustration, self-righteousness, lack of explaining what is expected of the child, using good communication skills, not being a hypocrite, etc. I was very impressed with how well Plowman articulated how to use the rod in a loving, gentle, God glorifying way.
This book is very practical, very easy to read and very enjoyable. Here are a few gems:
  • Someone once said, 'You can spank the fool out of the child, but you can't spank wisdom into him.' God's design for discipline accomplishes both. It drives out the foolishness and replaces that foolishness with wisdom. Therefore, one should never use the rod without the reproof [verbal correction]. Discipline that is not balanced by using both will surely fail.
  • In The Duties of Parents, J.C. Ryle says, 'Train with this thought continually before your eyes: The soul of your child is the first thing to be considered. In every step that you take with them, in every plan and scheme and arrangement that concerns them, do not leave out that mighty question, "How will this affect their souls?"' Our ultimate goal in everything should be to point them to Christ.
  • I believe that we are to know the Word of God and speak the Word of God so often in the presence of our children that it is done in a comfortable and conversational manner. It's not a formal, strict, legalistic way of teaching, but rather a way of life that is constantly on our hearts, our minds, and our tongues. Use God's Word to teach them from your heart.
  • Each time your child fails, don't view it as a hopeless tragedy. Remember that it would be unnatural for your child not to sin, after all he is a sinner...They sin, not because they are tired, hungry, or having a bad hair day, but because they are sinners...The question is not, 'Why does he act like that?' The question is, 'What are you going to do about it?'
  • If we fail to require obedience from our children, we become a stumbling block for them...We are robbing our children of the blessing that God intends for them when we fail to require obedience.
  • Make a conscious effort not to scold your child. You are ready to reprove your child biblically when you can speak to him in a normal tone of voice and with carefully measured words.
  • When training is done properly, it should always end on a positive note. A child who directly disobeys mom in the grocery store should not be yelled at or have to ride him with an angry mom. This sort of discipline does not show unconditional love and careful instruction. It send the negative message, 'I am not pleased with you' for the child to ponder. Our desire should be for the child to ponder what he could have done right rather than what he did wrong. The mom who takes the time to properly spank the child while assuring him of her love, and then discusses with the child what he could have done right instead, sends the positive message, 'I love you enough to train you in what is right.'
  • You have to be consistent [in discipline]. Bruce Ray says, 'It is not the severity of correction which will produce obedience; it is the certainty of correction which will bring about the desired result. Be consistent in your administration of discipline. Never, never, never issue a warning or a command without following through.'
  • A child who never knows what to expect can also become insecure. There is a great sense of security in knowing what to expect. What's cruel is for them to live in fear because they don't know what might happen next. What's cruel is for their discipline to be based on the mood, energy level, or whim of the parent. All children, whether infants, toddlers, or youths find much security in knowing where their boundaries are. Really, with boundaries come freedom.
  • Happiness and contentment are heart choices. Children can choose to obey with a happy heart. Parents must guide them in doing so.
  • We may become discouraged at times and think that it's no use, but our responsibility is to trust God and do what He says and then leave the results up to Him.

As much as I liked this book, it is not the end all book of parenting. In fact, it is quite narrow in its scope - how to discipline biblically. And while discipline is a huge part of parenting, especially for children 0 to 6 (or 7 or quite possibly to 10!), it would be wise to read other parenting books to help give a more complete understanding of biblically sound parenting.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Beware

Don't be fooled. She looks like a princess.They look harmless enough (I just missed them cuddling together while watching a video).But really what they do while no one is looking, is plant little insects and vermin all over the house!The mouse is on the ceiling! Thankfully, they're just toys...I think.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

What a day!

Yesterday, it almost hit 70 degrees! So naturally, the kids finally got a taste of freedom out in the yard.
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The Seidls came over for a little bit. Poor Carston - he's got 3 big brothers and sisters in his family and now 3 from ours.
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Andrew had another basketball game today. We've been working on the PASS all season long or at least a closer shot...but I suppose that just takes the challenge out of the game. video
But we definitely have the best cheerleader in the league...and the best sign. You wouldn't believe how many compliments we got about that sign!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

#3 - Heralds of God

Even though I'm not a preacher and am not gifted to preach, I am the back-up preacher. And though you always want your first string preacher in the game, sometimes, he needs a break. So I have been preaching roughly every other month and now have some 10 sermons under my belt here at FHCC.


Although I have plenty to do and improve on in my "day" job, I also want to continually strive for excellence in my preaching as a herald of God. I'm not sure when I picked this book up, but it was recommended to me by my preaching professor in undergrad. I can still recall, almost 20 years later, how emphatically he recommended this book. After having read it, I am more amazed that the Lord allowed me to find this book through that professor. He must have been the most conservative professor at my college as I think most of my other professors there would completely disagree with it.

Regardless, this was a good book, written in the mid 20th century. It was inspiring to read both for the gravity of the responsibility and the glory of the Gospel. Here are a few gems:
  • For your task is to confront the rampant disillusionment of the day, and smash it with the Cross of Christ and shame it with the splendor of the Resurrection.
  • This is no time to be offering a reduced, milk-and-water religion. Far too often the world has been presented with a mild and underdemanding half-Christianity. The Gospel has been emasculated long enough. Preach Christ to-day in the total challenge of His high, imperious claim. Some will be scared, and some offended: but some, and they the most worth winning, will kneel in homage at His feet.
  • 'No man,' declared James Denney, 'can give at once the impression that he himself is clever and that Jesus Christ is mighty to save.'
  • There is no short-cut to escape the burden and the toil [of sermon preparation]. Any evasion of the cost will inevitably rob a man's ministry of power. Any refusal to accept the relentless, implacable discipline will result in diminshed spiritual influence. Put into your sermons your unstinting best.
  • 'What' cries Richard Baxter, 'have we our time and strength for, but to lay both out for God? What is a candle made for, but to be burnt?'
  • ...nothing could be more tedious than the preaching which is all uplift and exhortation with no food to feed the mind. Resolve, then, that your pulpit work shall represent not only your truest fervour but also your best thought. Your congregation deserves it, and will welcome it. But even with the deep and difficult themes that tax the mind - with these, indeed, most of all - the rule applies: Be clear, be direct.
  • The fact is that this whole matter of [sermon] delivery can be resolved into two precepts which are not so paradoxical as they appear: Be yourself - Forget yourself.
  • Bring everything that you have and are to your ministry - your best craftsmanship, your most concentrated study, your truest technique, your uttermost of self-consecration, your toil and sweat of brains and heart - bring it all without reserve. But when you have brought it, something else remains: Stand back, and see the salvation of God.
  • It is a solemnizing thought for any preacher that what he speaks to men in the name of God is going to be mightily reinforced or mercilessly negatived by the quality of life behind it.
  • It is one thing to set out gallantly when the flags are waving and the drums summoning to a new crusade, but it is quite another thing to keep plodding on when the road is difficult and the initial impetus has spent its force and the trumpets of the dawn have ceased to blow. It is one thing to have inspirations: it is another to have tenacity.
  • Redemptive work is always costly. There is no hope of ease for the faithful servant of the Cross...if ever a man finds the work of the ministry becoming easily manageable and surmountable, an undemanding vocation without strain or any encumbering load of care, he is to be pitied, not congratulated: for he has so flagrantly lost touch with One whose ministry of reconciliation could be accomplished and fulfilled only through Gethsemane and Calvary.
  • The basic reason why a minister must pray is not because he is a minister (that would savour of official piety, always an odious thing), but because he is a poor, needy creature dependent on God's grace.
  • He [the preacher] is not diffidently offering men the dubious results of his private speculation: he is standing on his feet to deliver them, in the name of the King of kings, a word that cannot return void. He preaches as if the Lord God omnipotent were there at his right hand: as indeed God is. The keynote of his preaching is not 'Thus I think': it is 'Thus saith the Lord.'

Amen! I'm guessing that most of you are not preachers, but I encourage you to apply these same principles when you teach or proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ 1 on 1. Hopefully I will apply these principles myself as I preach the Word this Sunday.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Wiggling

Do you ever get the wiggles? Emery does...
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Maybe she was just so happy to be in CA.
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I forgot that Andrew and Emery had already done Romans 12:21 so here they are again. And Matt finally caught up...he can't lose with a smile like that!

Monday, March 1, 2010

CA part 4

The boys and girl had a great trip...filled with good times with grandmaand grandpa too.There were tons of activities including hiking complete with walking sticksand a carousel rideand Koi pondsand turtle rides.They were princes and a princess every morning. Could it be any better to be a kid?