Friday, February 25, 2011

Proverbs 14:16

Matt finished his Awana book for the year! There's over 20 verses in there.
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So keeping those verses in his head and memorizing more verses on top of that gets confusing!
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Almost...
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Hope he grows up to be a wise man.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Crazy beautiful

Isn't she?Emery has been asking me (Sandy) to do her hair like this for some time. But, because I love her, I will not allow her to be seen in public (though it's ok on our public blog!) like this. So after her bath tonight when she asked me once again to do her hair like this, I quickly took the opportunity and let her keep her hair like this until bedtime.

On a totally separate note, Emery and Matt had quite the theological discussion over lunch today.
Matt: People look different on the outside. But inside, we're all the same. We all have black hearts.
Emery: Yeah, we're ALL sinners. Even Christians sin. Like mom when she gets mad at us and talks to us too firm! (Meaning my tone of voice.) Right mom?
Sandy: Yep!
I can't deny I'm a sinner. Why try and hide it!?

Monday, February 21, 2011

#6 - Thoughts for Young Men

I've been meaning to read Thoughts for Young Men by J.C. Ryle for sometime. I think I was clearly a young man at the time. Now that is somewhat questionable.J.C. Ryle was a pastor in 19th century and father to 5 (3 sons). It's amazing that this classic is in fact so classic! His thoughts for young men in the 19th century are just as relevant to the young men of the 21st century.

Reading this book made me realize that I am not so young any more. I guess fatherhood really ages you...in a good way. I realized also that many of the struggles of young men just begin then. If they are not dealt with and repented of, they will become the struggles of old men. Here are a few gems:
  • Believe me, you cannot stand still in the affairs of your souls. Habits of good or evil are strengthening in your hearts. Every day you are either getting nearer to God, or further off. Every year that you continue impenitent, the wall of division between you and heaven becomes higher and thicker, and the gulf to be crossed deeper and broader. Oh, dread the hardening effect of constant lingering sin!
  • Another danger to young men is thoughtlessness and inconsideration...Believe me, this world is not a world in which we can do well without thinking, and least of all do well in the matter of our souls. 'Don't think,' whispers Satan.
  • [Referring to a great statesman who retired later in life] His former gay companions came to visit him, and told him he was becoming melancholy: 'No,' he replied, 'I am serious; for all are serious round about me. God is serious in observing us - Christ is serious in interceding for us - the Spirit is serious in striving with us - the truths of God are serious - our spiritual enemies are serious in their endeavors to ruin us - poor lost sinners are serious in hell - and why the should not you and I be serious too?'
  • Call to mind the saying of good Colonel Gardiner [a well known Christian at that time]: 'I fear God, and therefore I have nothing else to fear.' Go and be like him.
  • Never be satisfied with the friendship of anyone who will not be useful to your soul.
  • For one thing, resolve at once, by God's help, to break off every known sin, however small...Nothing darkens the eyes of the mind so much, and deadens the conscience so surely, as an allowed sin. It may be a little one, but it is not the less dangerous for all that. A small leak will sink a great ship, a small spark will kindle a great fire, and a little allowed sin in like manner will ruin an immortal soul. Take my advice, and never spare a little sin.
  • There is nothing small betwixt us and God, for God is an infinite God.
  • This, too, is one great reason why worldly amusements are so objectionable. It may be difficult, in some instances, to show that they are, in themselves, positively unscriptural and wrong. But there is little difficulty in showing that the tendency of almost all of them is most injurious to the soul. They sow the seeds of an earthly and sensual frame of mind. They war against the life of faith. They promote an unhealthy and unnatural craving after excitement. They minister to the list of the flesh, and the lust of the eye, and the pride of life. They dim the view of heaven and eternity, and give a false colour to the things of time.
  • Agents are wanted now in almost every great and good cause, and cannot be found...Money is more easily got for doing good than men. Ministers are wanted for new churches - missionaries are wanted for new stations - visitors are wanted for neglected districts...many a good cause is standing still merely for want of agents. The supply of godly, faithful, trustworthy men, for posts like those I have named, is far below the demand. Young men of the present day, you are wanted for God.
If you are a young man, know a young man or once were a young man, you probably should read this book at some point in your life. It was short, easy to read and convicting in many respects.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Early spring cleaning

We're hoping spring is here! I for one am very much ready for warm weather, green grass and leaves on trees. We took advantage of temps in the 60's yesterday to do a little pre-spring cleaning.Matt and Emz are so helpful these days!Have you seen a little girl look so happy to bag leaves?!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

#5 - Living the Cross Centered Life

The first time I read this book, I was surprised at how legalistic I was concerning my own salvation. It was eye opening to consider that I felt better about myself depending on my own "good" actions or worse for a "bad" day (self-condemnation). It started a pursuit to dive deeper into living by faith (as Romans 1:17 puts it) and not by my own works.After I finished re-reading this book last week, I realized that I feel a lot more comfortable facing my own sins. Of course, I still have a TON of pride and easily fall back into thinking I'm pretty good at a variety of things. But previously, I would feel a lot more shame and embarrassment at talking about my sin or heart idols. There was a tension within where I knew I struggled with a lot of specific sins, and I knew I should admit that for transparency and accountability. But I also felt like I could do better; I should do better; I must do better. And when I did, I would be better; a better Christian, a better husband, a better father.

That tension was a difficult burden to bear. But now, I feel so much more free. My sins are bigger than ever from my perspective. I have come to realize am a worse sinner now than I thought I was 5 years ago. But that's exactly why Jesus died, because of my heinous and wretched sinfulness. It's so liberating to know that I cannot and will not be good enough, ever. In fact, as I get older, I'm going to continue to learn that I am worse than I thought I was.

That makes the cross of Jesus Christ that much more amazing. That makes the holiness, justice, love and mercy of God that much more incomprehensible. That makes loving God and obeying Him easy and not burdensome, joyful and not difficult, pleasant and not arduous. C. J. Mahaney's book, Living the Cross Centered Life has helped me along in this life long process. Here are a few gems:
  • Our common tendency is to habitually begin with the internal, the subjective, the experiential, then use those feelings and impressions to determine what we'll accept as being objective fact. We let our feelings tell us what's true, instead of letting the truth transform our feelings.
  • D. Martin Lloyd-Jones once issued the warning, 'Avoid the mistake of concentrating overmuch upon your feelings. Above all, avoid the terrible error of making them central.'
  • Who killed Jesus? God did. God the Father was ultimately responsible for the death of His Son. God is telling us, 'I purposefully determined to crush My Son with My wrath - for your sins, as your substitute.' Why? Because I love you.
  • The Christian who desires to live a cross centered life will regularly face his or her own depravity and the seriousness of personal sin, and he or she will do it squarely and unflinchingly. Our sinfulness is a reality. But the reality of the death and resurrection of Jesus for the forgiveness of sin is even greater.
  • Very small errors in a person's understanding of the gospel seemed to result in very big problems in that person's life.
It is amazing how a mis-application of the Gospel leads to all sorts of problems in life. The Gospel is the key to work relationships, church relationships, husbands and wives, parenting - you name it. I highly recommend this book.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Snow memories

The last couple of days were in the 50's and 60's I think. The snow is melting fast. I thought I should post these pics before they are too distant a memory. What does this look like?If you guessed ammunition to pound dad with, you're wrong. They're just a bunch of ice cream scoops ready for eating.Matt played out in the snow by himself before it all melted away.I found the boys air grooving the other day. I'm very slowly trying to teach Andrew the guitar. So far, he's got one chord down, barely.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

School play

Andrew was part of a school play this past week. Everyone was part of a caterpillar. But Andrew's legs (on the caterpillar) were different than everyone else's.So he got left out and made fun of - you know how it works, right? I guess he played the part of "victim" very well.

On a separate note, I took Matt and Emery to the bank this morning and on the way home, we had the following conversation:
Emery: Why do grandma and grandpa buy us gum all the time?
Me: Well, they love you and want to buy you stuff to show their love for you.
Matt: AND, they spoil us.

They have figured how things work a little too well.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

14 inches

This is what 14 inches of snow looks like:Somewhere down in there are about 20 little strawberry plants!I came home to shovel the driveway and this is what I find! The boys and girl (and their mom too!) were working away. They were actually quite productive. I think next year Sandy and I are going into supervisory mode.We all love the snow!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Fond memories...

of warmer days. We're in the middle of another GREAT snow storm. The snow is gently falling outside. We may be up to 10+ inches by now with more to come. It is quite cold out there with a low of below zero expected tonight. As I was cleaning up some videos on the computer, I found these gems. It really made me long for warmer days and green grass.
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Sandy was working in the front yard with Matt and Emery last fall. But eventually they snuck out to the back yard to do this unbeknownst to her! Don't you love Matt's hat / goggles look? video
This was their ultimate plan. If you can't understand her, Emery says at the end, "That is hilarious now Mr. Matt! General!"

On a separate note, I read Matthew 16 tonight to the boys and girl. In one section of the chapter, Jesus preaches for all to deny themselves, take up their cross and follow Him. Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but he who loses his life for Christ's sake will find it.

I explained the Gospel through that verse and gave an impassioned plea to put faith in Christ for their sins. Matt and Emery both have been talking a lot about becoming Christians and asking for clarification in a lot of Gospel matters. They were both looking at me in seemingly deep thought when Matt asked:
Matt: Dad?
Me: Yes? (can you hear the hope in my voice?)
Matt: How old do you have to be to grow a beard? Can you grow one even though you are a kid or do you have to be old like Cancun (his uncle)?

Deep, theological questions tend to plague our family Bible times. :)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Proverbs 3:5-6

I've heard many people say that kids can memorize things very easily. And I've believed that for years. But as I've worked on training my kids to memorize, I'm starting to disagree with that sentiment. While it is true that many kids memorize things fairly quickly, they also forget things very quickly too. Or at least my kids do. Maybe they are the exception. :)

We spend so much time reviewing our verses for the simple fact that if we don't, Matt and Emery forget them (Andrew does it on his own now). Hopefully, not only will they continue to remember God's Word for the rest of their lives, they will have formed the discipline to memorize and review God's Word for the rest of their lives.

I typically post the kids on the blog once they've memorized the verses. But I thought it would be cute to show the process over a few days of trying to get it down. Sometimes they think they're ready just a tad before they really are.
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Here's take 1.
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Take 2.
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And here he got it! To be fair, he has been memorizing A LOT of Awana verses. So he has had a lot of new verses running through his head. I've tried to slow down on our family verses for his sake.
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Emery has not had as many Awana verses to memorize since she is in Cubbies (the youngest club) so she jumped ahead to Prov 14:16 - A wise man is cautious and turns away from evil. But a fool is arrogant and careless.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Basketball

Andrew is half way through the season. It hasn't been a smooth one. So far, he's had 2 of 5 practices canceled due to weather, missed most of another practice after jamming his thumb and missed another because he was sick.
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Despite the lack of practice, he still managed to score.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Caterpillar crawl

This song is called the Caterpillar Crawl.
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The piano lessons continue...so far so good for the first month.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Brrrrrr

As I'm writing this, the temperature is 4 degrees with a wind chill of -11 degrees. There is something called a Wind Chill Advisory going on - who knew there was such a thing? The low is supposed to be -14 degrees (record low) with a wind chill of up to -23. That is 55 degrees BELOW the temperature water turns to ice for all of my CA friends!But that doesn't intimidate us anymore! Even knee deep snow (granted it was knee deep to Matt which is only about 8 inches) can't stop the boys and girl from going out to play.This is what happens when you give an 8 year-old the camera...you get a picture of Andrew's shadow. That and all of the snow balls he is stockpiling for the ultimate snow fight...snowmaggedon.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Lee Family Retreat

I'm back. Sandy has been holding down the blog fort for long enough. I never intended to take a blog sabbatical. It just happened for a variety of reasons. Hopefully, I will be back to my regular every other day posting routine.Today was quite the snowy day which landed us about 10 inches of snow and sub zero wind chills. I decided to get a cozy fire going, and Sandy baked some cookies. It was a very relaxing winter day indoors. A perfect day, in fact, to reflect on our Lee Family Retreat which was about 3 weeks ago.

As usual, Sandy and I went to a B&B in the country to reflect on God's faithful grace and love in our lives in the past year. We spent time on our own reading Scripture, praying and thinking. We spent time trying to figure out how God has changed us and continues to change us. We talked about our marriage, our parenting and our kids. We evaluated our past goals and set new ones for 2011.

It was a rich time in so many ways. I love pausing and reflecting on how God is working all around me and even in me. He is so good.

This blog has been a great way for me to keep track of my goals. So here are just a few for 2011:

1. Read through the Bible twice
  • Last year, I read through the Bible in 1 year. I thought it was good, but I had trouble reading through 2 places at the same time - 2 chapters in the OT and 1 in the NT daily. George Muller who read the Bible 3-4 times a year inspired me to strive for more. So far, it's been going very well. Reading 6-7 chapters a day from Genesis forward has been surprisingly enjoyable. I'm getting a good grasp of the overall story of the OT books. I've also started reading from the ESV Study Bible - I highly recommend it!
2. Memorize the book of Titus
  • I must admit that I have memorized the book of Titus years ago so I imagine (hope?) that it will come back fairly easily. It's also only 3 chapters and only 46 verses.

3. Run the KC Marathon in under 4 hours
  • The half-marathon went so well that I'm excited to go for the full marathon! We'll see how excited I am when I am running 20 miles in the hot and humid summer...

4. Read 24 books
  • Last year I read 26 books. I think I'm maxing out, but I like this pace. I read some fun books, some difficult books, some marriage and parenting books and some ministry books. God has used them to help me think great thoughts of Him more often. Just for posterity, I list them below.
Also for posterity, Andrew memorized 30 verses; Matt and Emz memorized 15. They also memorized a bunch of verses for Awana, but I don't think they retained most of those. It's good to know how much they have been memorizing for future comparison.

I can't believe it's already February. 2011 has started faster than I had anticipated. These are not all of my goals, but nobody needs to know all of them! I think I have too many. But they are very helpful for me to grow in grace and the knowledge of Christ.

2010 Books:
  • #26 - What Is a Healthy Church? by Mark Dever
  • #25 - When the Game Was Ours by Magic & Bird
  • #24 - Why Small Groups? Ed. by C.J. Mahaney
  • #23 - Simple Church by Rainer &Geiger
  • #21 - The Reformed Pastor by Richard Baxter
  • #20 - Worldliness ed. by C.J. Mahaney
  • #19 - The Trellis and the Vine by Marshall and Payne
  • #18 - Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
  • #17 - Spurgeon by Arnold Dallimore
  • #16 - Half-Marathon: You Can Do It by Jeff Galloway
  • #15 - This Momentary Marriage by John Piper
  • #14 - A Game Plan for Life by John Wooden
  • #13 - George Muller of Bristol by A.T. Pierson
  • #12 - The Complete Husband by Lou Priolo
  • #11 - Gospel-Powered Parenting by William Farley
  • #10 - The Godly Man's Picture by Thomas Watson
  • #9 - Basic Economics by Thomas Sowell
  • #8 - Worship Matters by Bob Kauflin
  • #7 - The First World War by John Keegan
  • #6 - Already Gone by Ken Ham & Britt Beemer
  • #5 - The Treasure Principle (re-read) by Randy Alcorn
  • #4 - Don't Make Me Count to 3! by Ginger Plowman
  • #3 - Heralds of God by James Stewart
  • #2 - The Life and Diary of David Brainerd by David Brainerd, ed. by Jonathan Edwards
  • #1 - The Pursuit of Holiness (re-read) by Jerry Bridges