Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Customized

Emery customized her new bike with her pink bunny, a basket and some ribbons. She is sporting one cool ride now...Then she went off to celebrate with Amberly. Nothing like a tire swing ride with a friend to make your day.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

#13 - The Tender Heart

I just finished Puritan Richard Sibbes' book, The Tender Heart. To be honest, it's more of a booklet than a book. It is only 65 pages long and it can almost fit into your pocket. I thought it was a full book when I ordered it and was surprised by its brevity. So I read it twice to make it feel like it should count as a book for the year.Sibbes was an English Puritan pastor in the early 17th century. Probably his most famous work is The Bruised Reed. In the preface to this book, the author describes Sibbes as not being concerned so much with surface behavior - "we have done wrong things and we need to start doing right things. Sibbes plumbs much deeper. He knew that the outward acts of sin are merely the manifestations of the inner desires of the heart. Merely to alter a person's behavior without dealing with those desires would cultivate hypocrisy, the self-righteous cloak for a cold and vicious heart."

He goes on to say that Sibbes "explains that those who are tender-hearted - who are soft to the Lord - do not simply desire 'salvation'; they desire the Lord of salvation himself. Only then, when a person is brought to love the Lord with heart-felt sincerity, will they truly begin to hate their sin instead of merely dreading the thought of God's punishment of it."

This booklet is a text from Sibbes' sermon from 2 Chronicles 34:26-27 in talking of King Josiah, "because your heart was tender..." Here are a few gems:
  • A tender heart, so soon as the Word is spoken, yields to it. It quakes at threatenings, obeys precepts, melts at promises, and the promises sweeten the heart.
  • If you will preserver tenderness of heart, take heed of the least sin against conscience, for the least sin in this kind makes way for hardness of heart. Sins committed against conscience do darken the understanding, deaden the affection, and take away life; so that one has not the least strength to withstand the least temptation.
  • If you will preserve tenderness of heart, take heed of spiritual drunkenness; that is, that you be not drunk with an immoderate use of created things; of setting your love too much upon outward things...The setting of too much love upon earthly things, takes away the sense of better things, and hardens the heart. When the heart is filled with the pleasures and profits of this life, it is not sensible of any judgment that hangs over the head...When a man sets his love upon created things, the very strength of his soul is lost.
  • Let those who are young by all means labour to keep tenderness of heart; for if young persons be good, there is a sweet communion between God and them, before the heart be pestered with the cares of the world.
  • How is your heart affected to men when they commit sin against God, as idolaters, swearers, drunkards, liars, and the like? Is it mercy to let these go on in their sins toward hell? No, this is cruelty; but mercy is to be showed unto them, in restraining men from their wicked courses. Therefore do not think you show mercy unto them by letting them alone in sin, but exhort and instruct them.
  • What an excellent thing a tender heart is. God has promised to dwell in such an heart, and it is an excellent thing to have God dwell in our hearts...can God come into a heart without a blessing? Can he be separated from goodness, who is goodness itself? When the heart therefore is pliable and thus tender, there is an immediate communion between the soul and God; and can that heart be miserable that has communion with God? Surely not.
  • But it will be an unfruitful repentance to repent in hell; for there a man shall get no benefit by his repentance, seeing there they cannot shake off the execution of God's judgment, as they shake off the threatenings of his judgments here.
Sibbes is very readable and had many great thoughts. He seems especially relevant to a culture today that misunderstands grace and mercy. People want to act as if they are the judge and king of the universe, able to impart forgiveness and grace to others. Let's err on the side of grace to others they say.

But is this truly grace? Toleration of sin? Grace and mercy is the exact opposite. The most loving thing to do is to show people their sin and idolatry so that they may repent and experience true grace and true mercy from the true king and judge of the universe. Then they can experience true joy both in this life and the life to come.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Happy early birthday!

Emery's 5th birthday is in 2 weeks. We've been keeping an eye out for a new (to her) bike. At a garage sale yesterday, we found the perfect fit.She loves it and can now keep up with her brothers on their bikes. She's already asking me to take off the training wheels.The weather last week was real nice. The boys and girl had a friend (Carston) over and enjoyed a nice picnic lunch in the shade. Life is good.

Friday, June 24, 2011

1 John 4:20-21

We took a little break from memorizing but are now back at it. I wanted to teach the boys and girl that petty fights as children lead to bitterness and anger as adults. All of these things are not consistent with the love of God and should not characterize the children of God. My hope and prayer is that they grow up and are best of friends both personally and spiritually. video
Is it me, or could she be any cuter?
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Matt is chill about these verses.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

#12 - The Masculine Mandate

My small group recently finished The Masculine Mandate by Richard Phillips. We read a chapter a week and discussed it.The premise of the book stems from Genesis 2:15 - men are created and called to do 2 things: work and keep. In whatever role we are in - husband, father, worker, friend, church servant, etc. - we are to work and keep. He calls this the masculine mandate. The first 5 chapters explain what this means. The rest of the book explains how to do that in every area of life.

I found that the biblical content was well understood and explained. The practical wisdom and focus on employment was very good especially. Aspects of being a husband and father contained great insight and exhortation. I liked this book.

However, I think the weakness of the book was his concept in defining the masculine mandate - to work and keep. The concept itself was somewhat limited, not very intuitive and needed explaining. Because the Bible uses multiple metaphors and concepts to explain the role of men, Phillips needed to be creative in explaining how leadership and lordship and shepherding fit into working and keeping. Keeping was ultimately defined as protecting. In the end, working and keeping had so many concepts, metaphors, roles and explanations that I think its clarity and thus its impact was lost.

Personally, I prefer describing the calling of men as being the head of his household (1 Cor 11) with the 3 roles of leading, providing and protecting. The men's ministry at my church, using this construct, has done a good job advocating a clear concise vision for biblical masculinity.

But The Masculine Mandate is a good book and I recommend it. Here are a few gems:
  • When leaders are too lazy or self-absorbed to learn and apply truth that the Bible's lament comes to pass: 'They were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd' (Matt 9:36. To be a successful shepherd-leader, a man must master the needed skills, primary among them the study of the truth of God's Word.
  • God's curse on the man draws him unwholesomely away from the woman, even as God's curse on the woman draws her unwholesomely toward the man. This is why most marital counseling sessions are some variation on this theme: Wife - 'You don't pay attention to me.' Husband - 'You are too demanding and nag too much.'
  • The husband must embrace self-sacrifice for the sake of his wife's well-being, this of course includes her physical safety. But the main threat against which a man must protect his wife is his own sin. A friend once expressed his awakening to this truth in these words: 'I used to think that if a man came into my house to attack my wife, I would certainly stand up to him. But then I came to realize that the man who enters my house and assaults my wife every day is me, through my anger, my harsh words, my complaints and my indifference.'
  • There simply is no substitute for our children hearing the Word of God read from our lips, with its doctrines explained clearly so they can understand, and the message applied to their hearts.
  • The time to impress on a child the central importance of Scripture is not in high school, but in preschool. Likewise, time spent building goodwill and trust during a child's elementary school years may be vitally important during the years of immature adulthood, when the minds of our kids can be clouded and bewildered by change.
  • Any Christian man who wants to serve the Lord, in any role and at any level, must begin by devoting himself to God's Word. A man who is weak in the Word of God will be of little use for service, for we cannot truly serve God effectively in our own knowledge and strength. But God's Word stirs up in us the faith and spiritual strength needed to serve Him.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Swimming lessons

The boys and girl started swimming lessons yesterday.I don't know, but I'm guessing Emery likes it so far.I'm very proud of Matt. He's been having a good year. He learned to ride a 2 wheel bike; he started reading; and for the most part, he can swim. Granted, he's not Michael Phelps...yet, but he can swim to the side of the pool. Andrew's just working on his 100m butterfly stroke.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day

What a great Father's Day I had! We began the festivities last night with a fabulous meal of my choice. Korean bbq. Somehow we didn't take a picture of the meat though. But it had all of my favorite side dishes. For all of you non-Koreans, it's really not that scary...except for the Kimchee. I'll admit, that's a bit scary.Praise God for blessing me with a great family! I am a blessed father. And happy Father's Day to my dad and father-in-law!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

11 miles

This morning I ran 11 miles! It took me a little over 2 hours. It was a beautiful run out in the country. Anybody want to join me for 13 miles in 2 weeks?On a separate note, our spring crops are done and our summer crops are getting close to harvest. The rain the last couple of days have been real good for our veggies.Here's the before picture. Can you tell we just LOVE gardening?

Friday, June 17, 2011

The wind!

Last night, we had some strong wind and storms. I tried to sleep through it, but the banging and crashing of everything was too much. Do you think I'm exaggerating?! Our grill was literally blown over, gas canister and all! I even put bricks on top of the grill to keep the cover on. You'd think after 3 years we'd be used to this, but there's always something new and surprising...Thankfully, our plants weren't uprooted and blown away. Our Hollyhocks are in full bloom now which is neat. I guess they bloom every other year.Our Delphinium plants are blooming too. We keep trying different ways to keep them upright. We've had a few plants literally snap in half due to the wind.Sandy has done a great job designing and caring for our little flower bed. Although the plants aren't fully grown yet, I think it's coming along nicely.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

100 push-ups

I guess I do a decent amount of exercising around the house. It doesn't seem like it to me, but that's what the boys and girl keep doing in their spare time.
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If you're suspicious of the accuracy of their counting, you should be!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Ulrichs

Our good friends Frank and Eliza flew out to visit us from CA this weekend. We've been having a ton of fun - catching up on life, talking old times, going fishing, seeing the sites and eating good food. Actually, we've been trying to take them out to eat authentic Kansan foods but everywhere we try to go, it has either been swamped or closed. It's the most popular weekend of the year to come to Emporia apparently.Matt has especially loved Mr. Frank. Matt keeps trying to cuddle up to him to the point where I had to talk to Matt and advise him that he needs to ask for permission before constantly touching, hugging, patting and otherwise bumping into Mr. Frank.
With a confused look, Matt asked "how come?"
Me: We can only do that with family
Matt: Mr. Frank isn't our family?
Me: No, what kind of family did you think he was, your uncle?
Matt: Yep.I think we gave them the complete Kansas experience including goats that said "Bleeeeeehhhh!"

Thursday, June 9, 2011

VBS

Tonight is our last night of VBS! It's been a great week. Last night, we had 3 children make a profession of faith in Christ. They clearly understood the Gospel and were able to articulate it and talk about with their leaders. Praise God! I hope and pray that they grow up and bear much spiritual fruit in their lives.Our kids have been having a blast. Emery can't stop smiling.Andrew has been having fun non-stop from morning to night with science camp and then VBS.
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Matt got a little shiner the day before VBS. He got hit by a lamp on accident. It didn't faze him though. He's been a tough little guy.
It's been a lot of fun.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Happy birthday Andrew!

Oops! I forgot to blog about Andrew's birthday yesterday! Since we had his party last week, it felt like we already celebrated it. Plus Andrew has science camp all day and we're in the middle of VBS in the evenings, I hardly see the poor guy right now.

I can't believe he's 9 - that's half way to college! Crazy how fast it goes. Here's a little walk down memory lane:

Monday, June 6, 2011

Family

Life is a blur right now. We kicked off our VBS last night. It went great - praise God! Here are some pictures that don't really have any coherent connection, but it's the best I can do right now.It's so rare to get a decent family shot.Here's some good mother daughter bonding time with matching outfits. Emery LOVES to match with mommy.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

10k

A 10k is 6.2 miles. Sandy wanted to run a 10k so we signed up for the Wichita River Run. We left the boys and girl with the Hintz's last night and went for it this morning.This is the before picture.This is the after picture. Here we are with our medals! Sandy went so fast she even beat me, sprinting the last 100 yards. All I could see was a cloud of dust. Great job honey!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Random pics

Life has been so busy lately with our church VBS starting up this Sunday that I didn't realize I hadn't blogged in a while. So here are a few random pics.Our spring crops are starting to finish up. We ate or gave away a lot of this lettuce. I am bummed though, our peach tree had about 5 little peaches coming up. But none of them made it! :(Our strawberries are starting to come ripe which is nice.We went to a wedding last weekend. Like 2 peas in a pod.We can actually stat having pictures with us in them now. The boys and girl are old enough to take our picture. Doesn't my wife look beautiful?!