Friday, July 29, 2011

#16 - Manhunt: The 12 Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer

It's been so hot lately that I have had trouble doing much of anything. With 15 of the last 19 days in the 100's and the other 4 days all in the cool 90's, it's been hard to do much of anything outside. Just the other day, the high was 105 with wind in the 20-30 mph. I've never felt such heat before in my life. It was like feeling a hair dryer blowing at you every time you stepped outside.Thankfully, our AC is working great, and I've had the pleasure of reading a marvelous book. I just finished Manhunt: The 12 Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer by James Swanson. The book was captivating. I finished it in less than a week. It traces the motivation, planning, implementation, escape and eventual capture of James Booth's assassination of President Lincoln. There were so many primary sources and well written summaries. It was truly fascinating.

I learned so much about Booth. I never knew that he was a famous actor and had such a racist agenda. I didn't know that there were multiple assassination attempts planned simultaneously. I learned a lot mostly because I didn't know much of anything about this crucial chapter in our country's history.

I highly recommend this well written, intriguing and easy to read book if you are at all interested in this subject. It has caught Andrew's attention and he's enjoying read the book too!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Chopsticks

Matt hit another milestone this year. I guess it's just a milestone for Asians, but he learned to use chopsticks. It was strange too because he wasn't even close to using them to pick up anything this whole time until one day, he did it.Now he can even eat rice with them. Maybe one day I'll teach him how to catch a fly with them...

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Super heroes

Emery officially joined the Hall of Justice with her own cape.The fabric has a princess on it and her letter, E. It's a lot better than the makeshift one we made for her last year.Now everyone can save the world with their appropriate capes.

Friday, July 22, 2011

My little girl!

I can't believe my little baby is going to Kindergarten in just 3 weeks! What on earth is going on?! She's getting her school supplies and got her backpack this week. She's a little bit excited and wore it all day. Of course, it's a princess backpack. I need to buy some stock in Disney. I've already invested plenty into all their merchandise with more to come I'm sure!Isn't it hilarious how the backpack is almost as big as she is?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Brave Explorer

Andrew loves to draw. The other day, he drew this.Now imagine that he is not drawing a scene from a movie or a book or even his own imagination, but from real life. What could he possibly be looking at?...The resemblance is uncanny! Matt was such a still model for a LONG time.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

#15 - Preaching & Preachers

The latest book to come off my nightstand and go back to the shelf is Preaching & Preachers by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones.I had heard great things about this book. It's a classic and must-read for all preachers. I must confirm, these things are true. If you ever preach, you must read this book. It truly does whet your appetite to bring the Word of God to people.

Lloyd-Jones writes about the priority of preaching, the content and form of the sermon, the delivery of the sermon, the preacher, the congregation, just to name a few topics. Here are some gems:
  • Great preaching always depends upon great themes. Great themes always produce great speaking in any realm, and this is particularly true, of course, in the realm of the Church. While men believed in the Scriptures as the authoritative Word of God and spoke on the basis of that authority, you had great preaching. But once that went, and men began to speculate, and to theorise, and to put up hypotheses and so on, the eloquence and the greatness of the spoken word inevitably declined and began to wane.
  • I am not saying that the preacher should never do any personal work; far from it. But I do contend that preaching must always come first, and that it must not be replaced by anything else.
  • My contention, then, is that personal counselling and all these other activities are meant to supplement the preaching, not supplant it; that they are the 'carrying on', 'follow up' work if you like, but must never be thought of as the primary work.
  • Someone may say, 'Have not times changed?'...What is the answer to that? It is quite simple. God has not changed, and man has not changed. I know that there are superficial changes - we may dress differently, we may travel at four hundred miles an hour instead of four mile an hour - but man as man has not changed at all, and man's needs are exactly and precisely what they have always been.
  • There is nothing new about this condition of ours; one of the central fallacies of today is to think that because we are living in the mid-twentieth century we have an entirely new problem...It is just nonsense; it is not new at all. God does not change...And man does not change; he is exactly what he has always been ever since he fell and has the same problems.
  • He [the preacher] is not there merely to talk to them, he is not there to entertain them. He is there - and I want to emphasise this - to do something to those people; he is there to produce results of various kind...He is there to deal with the whole person; and his preaching is meant to affect the whole person at the very centre of life. Preaching should make such a difference to a man who is listening that he is never the same again.
  • The preparation of sermons involves sweat and labour. It can be extremely difficult at times to get all this matter that you have found in the Scriptures into this particular form...you have to keep on putting the material into the fire and on to the anvil and hit it again and again with the hammer. Each time it is a bit better, but not quite right; so you put it back again and again until you are satisfied with it or can do no better. This is the most gruelling part of the preparation of the sermon; but at the same time it is the most fascinating and most glorious occupation. It can be at times most difficult, most exhausting, most trying. But at the same time I can assure you that when you have finally succeeded you will experience one of the most glorious feelings that ever comes to a man on the face of this earth.
  • The whole personality of the preacher must be involved...'truth mediated through personality.' I believe that is right, that in preaching all of one's faculties should be engaged, the whole man should be involved.
  • The second element I would emphasize is a sense of authority and control over the congregation and proceedings. The preacher should never be apologetic, he should never give the impression that he is speaking by their leave as it were; he should not be tentatively putting forward certain suggestions and ideas. That is not to be his attitude at all. He is a man, who is there to 'declare' certain things; he is a man under commission and under authority.
  • 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.
  • When I say zeal, I mean that a preacher much always convey the impression that he himself has been gripped by what he is saying. If he has not been gripped, nobody else will be...He is so moved and thrilled by it himself that he wants everybody 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 people.
  • 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 love and praise'?
  • What is preaching? Logic on fire! Eloquent reason!...It is theology on fire!...Preaching is theology coming through a man who is on fire.
  • What is the chief end of preaching? I like to think it is this. It is to give men and women a sense of God and His presence.
  • It was Mr. Spurgeon, I believe, who used to say to young men - 'If you can do anything else, do it. If you can stay out of the ministry, stay out of the ministry.' I would certainly say that without hesitation whatsoever. I would say that the only man who is called to preach is the man who cannot do anything else, in the sense that he is not satisfied with anything else. This call to preach is so put upon him, and such pressure comes to bear upon him that he says, 'I can do nothing else, I must preach.'
  • This idea that because people are members of the church and attend regularly that they must be Christian is one of the most fatal assumptions, and I suggest that it mainly accounts for the state of the Church today.
  • The same thing applies to, and the same wrong assumption tends to be made by, the listeners. Because such people assume that they are Christians they tend to resent preaching which assumes that they are not Christian, though it is what they need most of all.
  • 'This man preaches to us as if we were sinners.' That is terrible! She was made to feel uncomfortable and forced to examine herself and to see herself truly; and she did not like it. She had been attending that church for nearly thirty years; but she showed that she was antagonistic to the Truth when really faced with it in a direct, personal way. She liked general expositions of Scripture, and sermons based on the Scriptures for believers; they did not hurt her, they did not trouble her, they did not examine her, they did not convict her. She revelled in that but she did not like preaching when it became personal and direct.
There is so much more. It was very easy to read. It was convicting, inspiring and interesting. I highly recommend it.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Random thoughts

  • 6 of the past 8 days have been in the 100's, reaching as high as 106. The other 2 days not in the 100's? 98 and a frigid 92. The next 2 days are forecasted to be in the 100's, and then we're in for a cooling trend - 99, 98, 97. Time to bring out the thermals!
  • After church, I asked the boys and girl what they learned in church during lunch. Matt answered, "We learned about Jesus dying on the cross for our sins. Everybody knows that story." It's good to know that at age 6, he's got the Gospel down.
  • This afternoon, Emery was identifying everyone's talent. Mine was playing the guitar; Andrew's was playing basketball; Matt's was soccer; Emery's was making up songs. So mom chimes in, "What's my talent?" After a moment's thought, Emery says, "Sleeping! It's something you like to do and you're good at it!" True...Sandy wants to clarify - she is NOT lazy. She has what I like to call the sleep gift. Any time, any where, she can fall asleep instantly. It truly is a gift. I wish I had it.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Heat wave

For the last 7 days, the temps have been well into the 100's and high 90's. The coolest day has been 92 and the hottest, 106. It's been murder on the lawn and the plants. But it's been good swimming weather.
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Emery has been a swimming machine lately. Although I can't figure out why her body is always completely submerged when she swims. How on earth is she going to learn to breathe while she swims when she can't swim on top of the water?
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Matt has made tremendous improvement. I am very proud of him! I can still remember how he was last summer - clinging to my leg with 3 floaties! (Click here to see that hilarious sight!)
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And to my delight, Emery is also swim safe.
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And the perfect way to end our post is with a cannonball.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

#14 - Decision Making and the Will of God

I recently finished Decision Making and the Will of God by Garry Friesen, PhD. It is over 400 pages with some very good appendices that bring it up to close to 500 pages. But if you've never read this book, it is a must read.I've been trying to develop a must read list for my children. But I haven't gotten too far with it. I want them to read The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn and The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges when they are in HS. There are some marriage and parenting books, I want them to read when they get older. Desiring God by John Piper is on the list but that's for a bit older in life too. There are a several biographies I want them to read. But for sure, in HS, they will read this book.

The book is divided into 4 sections. First, Friesen explains the traditional way that most people view God's will. Basically, that God has a specific individual will for every person. He wants every person to go to 1 specific college, marry 1 specific person, live in 1 specific place and work in 1 specific capacity. I could identify very well with his description because for most of my life, I held that view and was constantly searching for God's will when I had to make a big decision in life.

Second, Friesen critiques that view in light of what Scripture says. He very thoroughly examines the breadth and depth of Scripture to show that this view is not biblical, not logical and not consistent.

Third, he presents a Scriptural view of God's will and how to make decisions. Again, he is very thorough in his treatment of Scripture and does a good job explaining various texts. There are a lot of helpful charts and illustrations.

Lastly, Friesen applies this Scriptural view to various important topics such as marriage, the "call" to ministry, vocation, education, etc. He also has 2 of the best chapters on the weaker brother / stronger brother in regards to Christian liberty I have ever read. Top notch stuff right there.

There is so much good stuff in this book. I think every Christian should read it. I mean that. Especially in this day age when so many people are claiming that God spoke to them or told them to do this or that, we need this teaching to protect us from unbiblical claims of God's guidance and to free us from the burden of trying to discover what we were never meant to know.

This book is very readable and organized. But if you are just too intimidated by its sheer size, another option is John MacArthur's book(let), Found God's Will. If you are averse to books, I preached last Sunday on this topic as well (click here to listen). Please, put this on your to-read list.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Happy birthday Emery!

I can't believe my little baby girl is 5 years-old! How did this happen?! Every year, we let 1 child have a big party with friends. This was Andrew's year. When it's not their year, we let the other children invite 1 friend over. Emery picked Addy. There were lots of girly presents...Princesses and puppies type stuff.After fun outside on the slip n slide, we ate cake and ice cream. She said, "This was my best birthday ever!"

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Great American Worm Race

Yesterday, the boys and girl all participated in the Great American Worm Race at the library. Everyone got a worm and watched to see which one would move to the edge of the circle the fastest.Real exciting stuff, even when it's your worm. And guess who got 2nd place?Emery was a little bit excited about her first ever trophy! She hasn't let go of it since. She takes it everywhere. But she even got her picture in today's local paper. Our local celebrity! Hopefully the paparrazi won't be too intrusive.

Friday, July 8, 2011

2 years later

When we first moved into our house, Sandy and I had lots of dreams and plans. As first time homeowners, we had been waiting for this day for almost 10 years. We love to garden and landscape and couldn't wait to get started. But for those of you who own homes, you know that house projects always take longer than you think they will. Always.So it is with great satisfaction, that I have finally leveled out our castleblock around our house. 2 years ago, I had to throw it down in rather fast fashion so we could seed our lawn.Isn't this before picture shocking? Maybe not to you, but man, it is to me!Here's the side of the house. Too bad our grass is dead in all this heat.This picture gives a better view of how bad the castleblock was when I first put it down. It's like I was trying to emulate the ocean waves...

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Andrew's verses

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Hopefully, you can understand him. He's memorized Psalm 119:9-11; Rom 12:1-2 and Rom 10:9-10. We've been working on speaking slowly and enunciating. We've also been working on not bragging. As you can see, we had another good opportunity to work on that after this.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th of July

We celebrated the 4th last night at the Van Gundy farm for a Kansas style celebration.Nothing like a good bbq for the boys and girl.The boys did some paddle boating with mom.Emery did some kayaking with dad. She insisted on paddling herself.Andrew surprised us by kayaking by himself. He did quite well though mom's heart was racing.Matt went frog hunting. Don't you love how everyone in the background is intently focused on his attempt?Emery got to ride a horse.And light bombs, er...fireworks. Nothing like a 4 year-old lighting things on fire.But she wasn't the only one. It was too dark to film the jumping, hugging, screaming and excitement, but I think you can guess how much they liked the fireworks this year. If you know our boys and girl, you know that they love to have a good time. And they definitely did.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Half-year update

Can you believe that we're half-way through the year and through the summer too? It's flying by. As I love to do, here's my 2nd quarter update. (To see the last quarter click here)

Goal #1 - Read through the Bible twice
  • 1 down, 1 to go. I finished the Bible right on time, June 30. It was really cool to see how God is so central to the Bible. It seems so obvious to say, but how often do we read through the Bible thinking about the human characters or what I can learn or apply from this text? But reading through it so fast, God's prominence stands out. And not just His being, but the commands to worship Him and fear Him. Worship is such a prominent theme as well. It really is the core of our relationship with Him.
Goal #2 - Memorize Titus
  • This one is going just fine. I am ahead of schedule, working on Titus 2:6 right now. It's been refreshing to memorize whole chapters and get the flow of thought in the text and not just a verse or a passage. I really love the emphasis on sound doctrine in Titus too.
Goal #3 - Finish the KC Marathon in under 4 hours
  • I hit my first major road bump on any of my goals with this one. After starting my training a couple of moths ago, I realized that I was way behind schedule. But somehow, I started catching up and was relatively on pace, until today. I had a lot of trouble with my 13 mile run today. Now, I'm wondering if I might need to put the marathon off. It's just so hot in the summer to be running 10+ miles. We'll see.
Goal #4 - Read 24 books
  • I'm on pace - 13 so far. It hasn't been as easy going as it was in the first quarter. I've been looking forward to breaks more than actually reading. I think I'm going to need to lighten up some of my reading as the last 4 books have been a bit serious. They have been good. But I'm going to need something a bit inspirational and/or light I think to re-light the fire so to speak.
When do disciplines become less what you are trying to do and more just who you are? It seems like that answer ebbs and flows. At times, these disciplines are who I am and what I do without at thought. At other times, I need to beat my lazy desires back and press on. Either way, it's good.