Friday, April 30, 2010

Sparks plaque and shark teeth

This is the Sparks plaque that Sandy referred to in the last post.Andrew has been so excited about it that he has been washing it with soap and water every day to remove all of the fingerprints! He can't wait to hang it up on the wall.
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Andrew's teeth keep coming in even though there's no room in his mouth. They look like shark teeth that keep coming up from behind his existing teeth. So the other night, I "strongly encouraged" him to make some room. He was quite hesitant, but went ahead with it. If you look closely, you can see the little white tooth pop out in the bottom left corner of the video. I apologize for losing focus with the camera while I was trying to demonstrate good tooth pulling technique!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

AWANA!

We love Awana! Ever since Andrew was three years old he has participated in the Awana program. Matthew started a little early at 2 years old and this was Emery's first year as a three year old. The kids LOVE it. They look forward to each Wednesday night when they have Awana. I jokingly call it Christian boy scouts but really it's a Christian club for boys and girls that focuses on Scripture memory and Bible teaching. Of course they make it fun with theme nights and games too. Tonight was our closing awards ceremony. Each of the kids received an award for memorizing Bible verses. I am especially proud of Andrew because he started memorizing his verse entirely on his own for the first time towards the end of this year now that he is able to read and we have taught him how to memorize verses. Here are some highlights from the evening:Andrew receiving his plaque for completing 3 years in the Sparks program. He was excited to get this because his cousins Ethan and Allison also have this award and he saw it at their house when we were in California in February.
Matthew receiving his award for completing the Cubbies program. Next year he will move up to the next level, which is the one Andrew just completed. Apparently shaking dad's hand was not very exciting for him and he just wanted to go and get his award.
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Each club sang their theme song for the audience. This was the youngest group called "Cubbies." Matt and Emery were both a part of this group this year.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

#10 - The Godly Man's Picture

I just finished Thomas Watson's (the Puritan, not the golfer) The Godly Man's Picture. In it, Watson explains what godliness is, what a godly man looks / acts like, and how to become more godly. Watson has a very vivid style of illustrating his points. It makes for interesting reading.

Here are a few gems:
  • The soul being so precious, and salvation so glorious, it is the highest point of prudence to make preparations for another world.
  • He who is good only in some part is not godly. Grace is called 'the new man' (Col 3:10), not a new eye, or tongue, but a new man. He who is godly is good all over; though he is regenerate only in part, yet it is in every part.
  • The man who is a pretender to saintship, but whose heart tells him he has nothing but the name, carries Christ in his Bible but not in his heart.
  • A godly man reverences divine institutions, and is more for the purity of worship than the pomp.
  • A servant is satisfied with his master's allowance...In this sense, a godly man is God's servant; he is willing to live on God's allowance; if he has only some left-overs, he does not grumble...When Christians complain at their condition, they forget that they are servants, and must live on the allowance of their heavenly Master. You who have the least bit from God will die in his debt.
  • It is more honour to serve God than to have kings serve us.
  • A godly person weeps because the sin he commits are in some sense worse than the sins of other men. The sin of a justified person is very odious: because he acts contrary to his own principles...The sins of the godly go nearest to God's heart. Others' sins anger God; these grieve him. The sins of the wicked pierce Christ's sides, the sins of the godly wound his heart.
  • When we want direction, do we consult this sacred oracle [the Bible]? When we find corruptions strong, do we make use of this 'sword of the Spirit' to hew them down? When we are disconsolate, do we go to this bottle of the water of life for comfort? Then we are lovers of the Word! But alas, how can they who are seldom conversant with the Scriptures say they love them?
  • Again, do we love the holiness of the Word (Psa 119:140)? The Word is preached to beat down sin and advance holiness. Do we love it for its spirituality and purity? Many love the Word preached only for its eloquence and notion. They come to a sermon as to a music lecture (Ezek 33:31, 32) or as to a garden to pick flowers, but not to have their lusts subdued or their hearts bettered. These are like a foolish woman who paints her face but neglects her health.
  • A proud man complains that he has no more; a humble man wonders that he has so much...he does not say his mercies are small, but his sins are great. He knows that the worst piece God carves him is better than he deserves; therefore he takes it thankfully upon his knees.
  • A child of God keeps two books by him: one to write his sins in, so that he may be humble; the other to write his mercies in, so that he may be thankful.
  • If you wish to be thankful, get a heart deeply humbled with the sense of your own vileness. A broken heart is the best pipe to sound forth God's praise...A proud man will never be thankful.
  • Though sin lives in him [the godly man], yet he does not live in sin...What is it to indulge sin? To give the breast to it and feed it...To indulge sin is to commit it with delight.
  • This is one great difference between a child of God and a hypocrite. The hypocrite picks and chooses in religion. He will perform some duties which are easier and gratify his pride or interest, but other duties he takes no notice of: 'Ye pay tithe of mint and anise, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith' (Matt 23:23).

As is typical with these Puritan writers, there are times when it is difficult for me to read or understand Watson. But the chapters on humility, patience and loving the Word are worth the price of the book alone.

On a slightly related note, Emery has been growing in her interest to become a godly person herself. She recently prayed with Sandy about something and then said, "Mom, can you and I pray just by ourselves together everyday?" Also, she's been going to her room to pray by herself lately and says, "I'm acting like a Christian to practice for when I become an actual Christian."

Sandy also had a conversation with the boys and girl about going to heaven. Everyone was looking forward to it. The boys were especially excited about all the fun toys they were going to ask God for. But Emery said in a wonderfully sweet tone, "All I want when I get to heaven is to be with Jesus." Then she proceeded to take big bite of sandwich and munch happily away.

Thank God He gave me this girl!

Monday, April 26, 2010

1 Samuel

It's been a busy week. And it's still busy the next few days. So I haven't had a ton of time to blog nor my usual interaction with the kids - thus not much blogging material. However, we have continued our nightly Bible times of memorizing and reading. Tonight we finished 1 Samuel. That's 13 books of the Bible so far.

I asked the kids what they thought of 1 Samuel and here's what they said:
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Emery said, "I thought Saul was going to kill Jonathan [his son]." But he didn't.
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Matt was surprised that King Saul killed himself in the last chapter. Andrew said that he was glad to be living right now in this day and age.

Friday, April 23, 2010

#9 - Basic Economics by Thomas Sowell

Now I'm sure that a nice thick book on economics is about as exciting to most of you as a root canal. But for some strange reason, I've always had an interest in economics. In college, I took an intro to economics course which was quite enjoyable to me. So I'm a bit of a weirdo. But this book, really should be a must read for all voting adults in the US though I know most people won't ever read it.

Sowell explains how a free market works in everyday language. No charts, no math, no formulas, just common sense explanations for how the world works. It was really eye opening for me. He explains how rent control and wage minimums though well intentioned, actually create higher rent and fewer jobs - hurting the poor those laws are supposed to help.

He is an advocate for less government intrusion and explains why a free market helps everyone in the long term. He shows how lower tax rates typically create more tax revenue rather than vice versa. There is so much more that is both interesting and informative. But at 500+ pages, it is a lot. However, if you have any interest in politics, this is a must read.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Gerbils

We got this tent, house and tunnel system as a gift several years ago. It takes up the most of the basement to set it up so I typically bring it out only every once in a while.
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Doesn't it seem like a little habitat for gerbils?
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We re-enacted the 3 Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf. It was too long to upload the whole video. But Emery got really excited about it if you can't tell! She's singing, "Who's afraid of the big bad wolf?"

I usually put the kids to bed and tell each one that I love them every night. Sometimes, I ask Emery - do you know how much I love you?
Emery: Infinity and beyond.
Me: That's right.
Emery: Do you know how much I love you and mom?
Me: How much?
Emery: Infinity and beyond and one hundred thirty.

I guess that extra 130 is the most love she can give.

Monday, April 19, 2010

#8 - Worship Matters

I recently finished Worship Matters by Bob Kauflin. As I lead the praise and worship ministries of our church, this was a very informative and helpful book.
Kauflin divides the book into 4 sections - The Leader, The Task, Healthy Tensions and Right Relationships. In the first section, Kauflin discusses the core essence of worship - offering our entire lives to God from the heart. In section 2, Kauflin explains a biblical philosophy of leading praise that emphasizes the greatness of God, the atoning sacrifice of Christ for sinners, the priority of the Word of God, and the supplementary role of music to amplify words that give glory to God. In section 3, he discusses various tensions that should be worked out by biblically sound guiding principles. Lastly, Kauflin expounds upon the vital role of relationships and how each (to the church, within the praise team, to church leadership, etc.) are different yet important.
Here are a few gems:
  • I want to make it clear from the start that worship isn't primarily about music, techniques, liturgies, songs, or methodologies. It's about our hearts. It's about what and who we love more than anything.
  • Faithfulness means firmly adhering to the observance of a duty, keeping your word, fulfilling your obligations. It involves being loyal, constant and reliable. Being faithful means fulfilling the desires of another. We don't define our ministry; God does.
  • My job is to make sure I provide the opportunity for them to be affected by the right things. And that means being faithful to draw people's attention to the God we're there to worship.
  • Is the gospel more precious to you now than the day you were converted? Or do you often find youself taking off days, or even weeks, from it? Do you want to move on to supposedly more 'advanced' elements of the Christian life such as discipleship, evangelism, spiritual warfare, and helping the poor? Don't miss this. Nothing should ever displace or obscure the centrality of the gospel in our worship. And nothing will bring us or the people we lead greater joy.
  • There is no reason for individual churches to change everything they have been doing; but there is every reason for all congregations to evaluate everything they are doing to see how they can do it better.
  • I always stress that being on the music team is an opportunity to serve, not a right to protect. In fact, if we're humbly pursuing God's will for our lives, we'll be the first ones to encourage others' involvement. That means present members might end up serving less or in another ministry. But that doesn't less their importance to the team now.
  • The church doesn't need leaders who love to lead people in worship but don't love the people they're serving.
I think this book is a must read for anyone involved in praise ministry. Kauflin's handling of Scripture and application of biblical principles to leading praise demonstrated a wisdom and depth of experience that was profound. However, Kauflin is charismatic in his perspective and occasionally wrote about prophetic experiences which I disagree with. I do not believe the sign gifts such as healing, tongues and prophecy are active in the church today as defined by the Bible. For a complete understanding of this cessationist position, please read Satisfied by the Promise of the Spirit by Thomas Edgar. There is so much biblical evidence to support this understanding of Scripture that goes beyond 1 Corinthians 13.
Regardless, Kauflin's book is still excellent. I also thought John MacArthur's, The Ultimate Priority was very helpful in discussing worship as well as John Piper's chapter on worship in Desiring God.
That makes 8 books so far this year - half way to my goal!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Wow! Wow!

Wubzy! For those of you who have no idea what that means, join the club. Apparently, it is a cartoon character and series on Nick Jr. The boys and girl particularly like re-enacting one episode...
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If you can't understand them, it's - "I'm shimmer! I'm sparkle! And I'm SHIIIIINE!" Why are my kids so weird? :)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Relaxing days

I took today off instead of my usual day off Friday. Now that things are mostly done around the house, we got to have a fun relaxing day. We ended the day grilling up some burgers and eating in our sun room.The boys and girl were effusive with praise about mom's yummy homemade burgers!

We also went to see an allergist this morning about Matt's hives. He's had hives almost every day for about 9 months. After much discussion (we talked to him for about an hour!), the doctor thought that Matt has chronic hives and that he is not allergic to anything. No one really knows what causes chronic hives. So Matt will be taking Zyrtec every night and hopefully that will keep his hives away. In a month, we'll follow up with the doctor. Thanks for your prayers!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Gardening

Project #1 for the summer is done! Technically, it's not completely done as there is watering, weeding and harvesting to be done. But the front beds are all planted with shrubs and perennials, the veggies are in and up, and now the gravel is down too. Wa-hoo!Here is the before picture of our 3 raised beds from last fall.Here they are today.One of the beds has strawberries. Can you taste those juicy red delicious strawberries yet? If you can't, it's probably because they look more impressive in person.One of them has beets, radishes, lettuce and spinach. The last bed has some of the same and some space for summer squash and cucumbers to come.The side view.The opposite view. I love how the leaves are starting to fill in our trees! It's one of my favorite things about spring.Lest you begin to think this is some idyllic setting out in the countryside of Kansas, here is a reminder of some of the crazies roaming around our house! The tall one is our neighbor Logan.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Saturday, April 10, 2010

We're ready

For SUMMER! It's been quite the weekend. We've finally got everything planted, the garage cleaned out, the lawn mowed, and everything is ready to go for a relaxing and enjoyable summer. We tackled one of the last projects today - our sun room.It's party time!While we adults relaxed in our new tranquil haven of rest, we sent the boys and girl outside to go fly a kite! No, literally, they really wanted to fly kites!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

1 John 1:9 and Proverbs 19:15

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Andrew's got another classic verse down.
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Can you guess what we're working on with the boys and girl? That's right...working HARD...for a 5 year-old.
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It's no problem for Emz.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Restaurant

The other day, Matt and Emery decided to play restaurant. It was complete with a table cloth, place mat and all the fixings! I'm not sure why Emery had to wear sunglasses though.Matt also recently noticed that his clothes from the past year have not been fitting quite the same. However, instead of thinking that he had grown, he thought that they were shrinking and said, "Mom, when my clothes get really tiny, can we put them on a bug?"

Monday, April 5, 2010

Quarterly Update

We've completed the first quarter of 2010, and I thought it might be good for me to keep regular track of my 2010 goals (for the original post click here). These are not all of my goals - I have a few other personal goals, goals as a husband, goals as a father and goals for the boys and girl. I know, way too many goals.

But I think goals are good as a means to disciplining myself for the purpose of godliness. If I don't meet them all, which is common, it's not a big deal. So here's how I'm doing so far in my 2010 goals as posted in the column to the right:

Goal #1 - Read 16 books
  • So far, I've read 7! Way ahead of schedule. I'm close to finishing 2 more. It's been a lot of fun and very helpful. I think I am really improving in my discipline of reading and reaping a lot of benefit from it. You can see to the right what I am reading and what I have finished so far. I enjoyed all of them as well as the diversity.

Goal #2 - Run the KC half-marathon in under 2 hours

  • I just ran 3 miles at an 8:52 pace. I need to run 13 miles at under a 9:00 pace. The race is in October so I think I'm doing ok. I'll really start training about 3 months prior. I just want to get in shape right now so 3-4 miles at an under 9 min pace is right on track.

Goal #3 - Read through the Bible

  • I just finished 1 Samuel and am in the middle of Luke. I am 11 days ahead of schedule - got to give myself some sick days just in case. Considering we went on vacation 2 months ago and I got sick for 3 weeks+, I feel really good about where I'm at. My reading has been fresh and fun so far. I love the plan and the pace.

Goal #4 - Memorize 12 new Bible passages

  • This is where I'm behind. I've only memorized 2 new passages as you can see on the right. I'm having trouble with Habakkuk 3:16-19 too. Not being able to talk for 3 weeks really hurt me as I memorize out loud. But Lord willing, I'll catch up in the summer. I have been planning on memorizing some smaller passages as it is too difficult for me to memorize such large chunks of Scripture and also keep maintaining my previous verses. I've got to get on the ball a bit more with this one.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter!

Praise God that He is risen and the tomb is empty! We had a very nice Easter Sunday at church.We also had an Easter egg hunt. On your mark, get set...GO!
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Saturday, April 3, 2010

Garden of Emporia

It's not quite the Garden of Eden...yet. But we spent the day, transforming our front bed into the start of something beautiful - we hope. This is how we started the day. I know, you can't get much worse than this. So thankfully, anything we try is bound to be an improvement!We went to a very nice greenhouse about an hour away from here and loaded up on shrubs, bushes and all sorts of perennials. Thanks to my very own in-house landscape designer we got all the right plants for our climate zone, sun exposure and space. Not only does she research and purchase, she also amends the soil and puts the plants in the ground! What can't she do?!Ta-dah! I know it's not that impressive now, but imagine what it will look like in 2-3 years! Trust me, it will be fabulous...Lord willing. And if it's not, I think the guy who dug the holes used a bad shovel.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Spring has...

sprung!We have taken advantage of a gorgeous week with temps in the 70's to plant our very first peach tree! I'm looking forward to many years of peach pie and peach cobbler...hmmmm.Here is our lilac bush...although bush might be a bit of a generous description for now.If you look super closely, you can see a row of radishes coming up! These look a tad better in person, though admittedly, not much better...yet. But these are 3 blueberry bushes which we are hoping will one day be A LOT bigger and bear fruit! Can you tell we're excited to garden?!