Monday, May 30, 2011

1000 pieces

For some reason, I've always liked puzzles. I'm not sure why. When I think about it, there's no real good reason for doing a puzzle. But maybe it develops patience...or attention to detail...or perseverance. Maybe not. This past week I've been working on one.The boys and girl wanted to "help." As is common with young children, their help is not exactly the most helpful.But we managed to get it done. I think puzzles are good for me to take my mind off of things. Sometimes I need help disengaging my mind. I think too much. This was a fun distraction.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

We survived!

We had Andrew's birthday party last night (a week early due to VBS being next week). It was our first sleepover party, although I wish we could have slept more during the SLEEPover! He had 4 of his buds from school over.We kept it super casual...just chillin' in the backyard mostly. No - we played Jenga, Ninjago, war with nerf guns and swords, typical boy stuff. Well, they played. I think I just crossed the line and am now too old to be cool enough to play with them on those things.But Andrew and his friends had a great time. After they left, Andrew said, "That was the best birthday party ever!"

Friday, May 27, 2011

#11 - Gospel Worship

Gospel Worship by Puritan pastor Jeremiah Burroughs was my latest read. Burroughs has become one of my favorite puritans.In this series of 14 sermons, Burroughs explains how true Gospel worship must make God's name appear holy through hearing the Word, receiving communion and praying. Here are some gems:
  • In worshiping God, there is a drawing night unto Him. When we draw nigh to God, we should take heed to ourselves that we sanctify God's name (make God's name appear holy). If we do not sanctify God's name in our drawing nigh to Him, then certainly God will sanctify His own name upon us.
  • God stands much upon little things, though men would think it a little matter whether they use this fire or that fire [referring to Nadab and Abihu]. Men will say, 'Will not his burn as well as that?' But God stands on it. And so it was for the ark. Uzzah but did touch the ark when it was ready to fall. Now we would think it to be no great matter; but one touch of the ark cost him his life. There is not any one small thing in the worship of God but God stands mightily upon it.
  • You do not understand the nature of divine worship if you are not particular about it. God is particular, and stand upon little things in the matter of worship.
  • We think much to have the lives of men taken away, but if we knew what the glory of God meant, and what infinite reason there is that God should be glorified, we would not think it so much that the lives of so many men should go for the glory of God. It is mercy that our lives have not gone many times for God's glory.
  • Further it is a special sign of our adoption to love to be near God. What should a child love most but to be in the presence of his father? Would you know whether you have received the Spirit of adoption or not? I can hardly give you any one sign so clear as to love to go into God's presence.
  • I am never better than when I am with God. I think when I get into God's presence, either in prayer or any duty of God's worship, I find my heart warmed and quickened. They are ready to say with Peter, 'Master, it is good being here.'
  • We must labor to suit our worship to what there is in God so that our worship may be proportionable in some measure to the nature of God Himself.
  • You must come without any righteousness of your own. You must never come into God's presence but as a poor worm; and if there is any difference between you and others in outward respects, it is nothing to you. When you are in the presence of God, you are as a base, vile worm, though you are a prince or an emperor.
If you haven't read Burrough's book, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, you must! That one is worth its weight in gold. Gospel Worship definitely deepened my understanding of worship. It was somewhat difficult to read at times unlike The Rare Jewel. But it was worth the read nonetheless, especially the first few chapters about making God's name holy.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Summertime

I know. It's not summer yet.
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But it felt like summer the other day so we brought out some summer magic...the Slip N Slide!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Tornado

Last night, I was at church preparing for my sermon today. I like to go to church on Sat night before I preach to practice and pray. When I was wrapping up, I heard sirens. For those of you not from KS, when a tornado has touched down in the county, the sirens go off. I immediately stopped what I was doing and called home to check on Sandy and the kids. They were fine and in the basement. Then I wondered if I should go home to be with them or if I should stay there and hunker down. I went outside and this is what I saw.
2 trees and some grass. No - if you look super close and if you can click on the picture and zoom in on it, look to the left and slightly above the tree in the center of the picture. There's a very faint funnel cloud. In real life, it was HUGE and looked like it could have started coming right to me.

This was my very first time ever seeing a tornado. It was very humbling. I felt very small. God's power is a lot more vivid here in KS. He is truly awesome and fearful. It is good to know that because of the grace of God through the blood of Christ, that God is for me and not against me.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

What a day!

After several days of cold and rainy weather (though we sure did need the rain), today is beautiful - 82 degrees and sunny! Sandy and I took advantage of it and rain 13 miles cumulative between the 2 of us. She is going to run a 10k in 2 weeks so she went 5.5 miles. Then I went 7.5 miles after she came back.

We spent the afternoon tending the garden (Sandy) and mowing the lawn (me). Now it's time to get my mind ready for tomorrow. I'm preaching on Romans 12:2. I've been reading D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones' classic, Preaching and Preachers. It's getting me all fired up!
  • He is so moved and thrilled by it himself that he wants everybody else to share in this. He is concerned about them; that is why he is preaching to them. He is anxious about them; anxious to help them, anxious to tell them the truth of God. So he does it with energy, with zeal, and with obvious concern for the people.
  • I would say that a 'dull preacher' is a contradiction in terms; if he is dull he is not a preacher. He may stand in a pulpit and talk, but he is certainly not a preacher. With the grand theme and message of the Bible dullness is impossible. This is the most interesting, the most thrilling, the most absorbing subject in the universe;
  • If he really believes what he is saying he must be moved by it; it is impossible for him not to be.
  • Where is the passion in preaching that has always characterised great preaching in the past? Why are not modern preachers moved and carried away as the great preachers of the past so often were? The truth has not changed. Do we believe it, have we been gripped and humbled by it, and then exalted until we are 'lost in wonder and praise'?
  • What is preaching? Logic on fire! Eloquent reason! Are these contradictions? Of course they are not. Reason concerning this Truth ought to be mightily eloquent, as you see it in the case of the Apostle Paul and others. It is theology on fire...Preaching is theology coming through a man who is on fire. A true understanding and experience of the Truth must lead to this. I say again that a man who can speak about these things dispassionately has no right whatsoever to be in a pulpit; and should never be allowed to enter one.
The truth of Romans 12:2 has been marinating my soul for several weeks now. I pray that I am both theological and on fire!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Spring

Spring is such a great time of year, isn't it? God's creation has come alive again. Our roses are blooming like crazy.Sandy loves cut flowers.Doesn't she know how to make a room look so inviting?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

3rd grade

Andrew wrapped up another year by the grace of God. Tonight was his school's awards night.Can you tell he's excited?Somehow, he managed an A average and won an award for reading the most books for his grade. His teacher, Mrs. Hatfield, deserves an A+ for teaching him so well this year.Mom and Matt were very proud of him, as was I. Good job this year Andrew.

Monday, May 16, 2011

It's rabbit season!

Or as Elmer Fudd would say, Wabbit season!Our friends and neighbors brought over some baby bunnies that they had caught, well to be more specific, that Cooper had caught.The boys and girl were pretty excited.I must admit, they were pretty cute. It reminded me of my childhood when I raised and bred rabbits, once.But keep them away from our lettuce!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Soccer finale

Matt finished up his soccer season today. Here's one last goal for old time's sake...
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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

#10 - The Power of the Cross of Christ

I recently finished reading The Power of the Cross of Christ by Charles Haddon Spurgeon. It is a series of sermons diving deeply into the familiar details of Christ's death on the cross. Though it is a very familiar subject, Spurgeon brings out such insight and profundity that it makes the familiar brand new.Usually, I give a broad overview of the book I read and some quotes to give the flavor. But this time, I'd like to share just 1 item from the book in a little more detail. In chapter 8, Spurgeon focuses on the shortest of Christ's 7 cries while on the cross - "I thirst." Just 2 words. Although Christ is God and has control of all the water in the world, he thirsts.

"Our Lord is the Maker of the ocean and the waters that are above the firmament. It is His hand that stays or opens the bottles of heaven and sends rain upon the evil and upon the good. 'The sea is his, and he made it' (Psa 95:5), and all fountains and springs are of His digging. He pours out the streams that run among the hills, the torrents that rush down the mountains, and the flowing rivers that enrich the plains. One would have said, 'If He were thirsty He would not tell us, for all the clouds and rains would be glad to refresh His brow, and the brooks and streams would joyously flow at His feet.' And yet, though He was Lord of all, He had so fully taken upon Himself the form of a servant and was so perfectly made in the likeness of sinful flesh that He cried with a fainting voice, 'I thirst.' How truly man He is."

But this thirst was not a thirst that comes from exercise or a hot day. This was the "death dew" thirst. "The words, 'I thirst,' are a common voice in death chambers. We can never forget the painful scenes of which we have been witness when we have watched the dissolving of the human frame. Some of those whom we loved dearly have been unable to help themselves. The death sweat has been upon them, and this has been one of the marks of their approaching death, that they have been parched with thirst and could only mutter between their half-closed lips, 'Give me a drink.'"

"'My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?' points to the anguish of His soul. 'I thirst' expresses in part the torture of His body. And they were both needful, because it is written of the God of justice that He is 'able to destroy both soul and body in hell' (Matt 10:28)."

"Now recollect, if Jesus had not thirsted, every one of us would have thirsted forever afar off from God with an impassable gulf between us and heaven. Our sinful tongues, blistered by the fever of passion, must have burned forever had not His tongue been tormented with thirst in our place."

But despite His incredible sacrifice, men reject him. "Jesus came to save, and man denied Him hospitality. At the first there was no room for Him at the inn, and at the last there was not one cool cup of water for Him to drink. But when He thirsted they gave Him vinegar to drink. This man's treatment of His Savior. Universal manhood, left to itself, rejects, crucifies, and mocks the Christ of God."

Even when men try to be compassionate or respectful, it is ultimately a mockery of Christ. "See how man at his best mingles admiration of the Savior's person with scorn of His claims: writing books to hold Him up as an example and at the same moment rejecting His deity, admitting that He was a wonderful man but denying His most sacred mission, extolling His ethical teaching and then trampling on His blood, thus giving Him drink, but that drink vinegar. Beware of praising Jesus and denying His atoning sacrifice. Beware of rendering Him homage and dishonoring His name at the same time."

Thankfully, Christ no longer thirsts in the same way, but He still thirsts. "And now, brethren, our blessed Lord has at this time a thirst for communion with each one of you who are His people, not because you can do Him good but because He can do you good. He thirsts to bless you and to receive your grateful love in return. He thirsts to see you looking with believing eye to His fullness and holding out your emptiness that He may supply it."

So much from 2 words - I thirst. Spurgeon was a master at preaching. It took me a few chapters to really get into the book. I don't know if it was me and my inability to understand him or if it took him a few chapters to get going. But the latter 2/3 of the book were excellent! I recommend it.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Memory verses

Andrew's still going at it with Bible verses. Here are 3 more - Romans 8:28, Romans 8:1 and Galatians 2:20.
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I tried to cut off the bragging, but it slipped in there a little bit. We're working on that. And speaking of bragging, I hope you all don't see me posting about my kids memory verses as bragging. I mainly do it for 3 reasons. First, I know my mom likes to see her grandkids memorizing Scripture. Second, I've been doing it for a few years now and like the accountability it gives me to keep at it. Third, I hope that one day the boys and girl will look back on this blog and get a glimpse of how important memorizing the Word of God was to me and their childhood.
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I don't know why Matt loves to talk G.I. Joe after his verses...but he does.
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Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy mother's day!

For Mother's Day, Sandy requested just 1 thing - to RELAX. So I instructed the boys and girl to not talk to mom, to not look at mom and to pretend as if they never knew their mom...and Sandy loved it! They cooked lunch and dinner for her too. Lunch was pb&j - Matt and Emery did that one.Andrew took care of dinner - nachos!He used the stove for the first time and cooked the meat. Most of it stayed in the pan.All in all everyone had a good day. Mom got a nap in and didn't cook a thing. Andrew had fun cooking. Matt said it was "the best day ever!" But Emery, while impatiently waiting for mom to wake up from her nap, had one sarcastic moment. I told her that mom needed to nap because she works so hard. Her response, "I don't know why she needs to nap. It's not THAT hard work..." Someday you'll understand Emery - which reminds me, Thanks mom! Happy Mother's Day!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Columbine flowers

We planted a whole bunch of perennials last spring. Most survived thankfully. And now we are reaping some of their God given beauty!Right now our columbine flowers are blooming.Emery's happy about them too.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

#9 - 50 People Every Christian Should Know

I recently finished 50 People Every Christian Should Know by Warren Wiersbe. It's a brief (4-8 pages) biographical sketch of 50 people that Wiersbe thinks we should know. I liked a lot of the people, but there were enough obscure folks whom I wondered - why is he/she in here? And there were quite a few folks that really should be in there who are not - like Calvin and Luther and Wycliffe just to name a few. But the books is not titled - the 50 greatest people every Christian should know! So Wiersbe had the right to put whomever he want to in there!A lot of the 50 people were from England and quite a few were from the Chicago area. They also seemed to predominantly come from the 19th to early 20th century. Some of the names I knew a lot about like Charles Spurgeon and J. Hudson Taylor. Others I knew nothing about like Christmas Evans and Andrew Bonar. Others I recognized their names but not much else. I particularly enjoyed learning about Robert Murray McCheyne, Alexander Maclaren, Charles Jefferson and G. Campbell Morgan.

As usual, here are a few gems:
  • "Let my name be forgotten, let me be trodden under the feet of all men, if Jesus may be thereby be glorified...Let us look above names and parties; let Jesus be our all in all...I care not who is uppermost. I know my place...even to be the servant of all." [George Whitefield]
  • The zealous pastor used to rise at four each morning so that he might devote hours to prayer and study of the Bible. [Charles Simeon]
  • "Remember this, that you cannot commit some loved sin in private, and perform the work of the ministry in public, with facility and acceptance...Preach the gospel of the grace of God intelligently, affectionately, and without shame - all the contents of the great box, from predestination to glorification...Let the preacher influence himself; let him reach his own heart, if he would reach the hearts of others; if he would have others feel, he must feel himself." [Christmas Evans]
  • "The best part of all Christian work is that part which only God sees...Many want salvation, but they do not want the Savior." [Andrew Bonar]
  • "God's work done in God's way will never lack God's supplies." [J. Hudson Taylor]
  • "This surely is a good rule: whenever you see a fault in any other man, or any other church, look for it in yourself and in your own church." [Phillips Brooks]
  • [In talking about people saying they don't have enough time] "We cannot look seriously in one another's faces and say it is want of time. It is want of intention. It is want of determination. It is want of method. It is want of motive. It is want of conscience. It is want of heart. It is want of anything and everything but time." [Alexander Whyte]
  • "No man can long be interesting in the pulpit who does not think. No man can think wisely who does not study...Popularity is the most fearful of all tests." [Charles Jefferson]
  • "Preaching that costs nothing accomplishes nothing." [John Henry Jowett]
I think my favorite person amongst the 50 was Alexander Maclaren. He was a Scottish preacher who lived from 1826-1910. After a couple of stops, Maclaren preached at Union Chapel in Manchester for 45 years.

Wiersbe described him as "a perfectionist and an idealist. Hence he was never satisfied with his own work." Maclaren was described as one of the best preachers of his day by his contemporaries which included C.H. Spurgeon, R.W. Dale, Joseph Parker and Henry Liddon. He was an expositor of the word who had been known to spend 60 hours on a single sermon. "He studied a passage in the original language, meditated on it, sought its divine truth, and then 'opened it up' in such a way that we wonder why we didn't see it before. No artificial divisions, no forced alliterations, nothing sensational; just divine truth presented so simply that any listener could understand and apply it."

Maclaren's strengths were devotion and discipline. "He was devoted to the Lord, and he walked with the Lord." But despite all of his success in ministry and great blessing from the Lord, "Maclaren was haunted all his life by a sense of failure." He seemed to have a melancholy streak. He seemed to be quite humble too - "To efface one's self is one of a preacher's first duties. The herald should be lost in his message."

I identify with many of the traits of Alexander Maclaren, except of course, the great preacher part.

This was a good book to read. The variety is its strength and weakness. There will undoubtedly be several people you don't identify with but hopefully, there will be many that inspire and challenge you too.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Weird

Are your kids weird?My kids sure can be! :)
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I'm glad they enjoy being kids and having fun with each other. I know there will come a time when they will be too cool for everything. I'm glad that day isn't here yet!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Blondie

No, she's not a natural blond.Emery got a hairpiece that you can color and style for Christmas. Yes, we stretch out our Christmas gifts a LONG time.