Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Mark 10:43-45

As most of you know, Andrew talks a mile a minute. We've been working hard to slow him down. I've tried putting marbles in his mouth, tying his tongue down and using glue...just kidding, but I am open to suggestions.
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I think he's improving. But I guess the real test is - can you understand him?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Picnic

Emery has been struggling with kindergarten so far. Any change in the schedule or new situation causes great anxiety for her. First, it was how the lunch line worked. Then it was not understanding how certain activities worked. Nap time, recess, you name it. Anything new or even a new wrinkle on it, gets her all worked up.So when she gets home, she can truly relax and be comfortable playing with Matt. They had a picnic together. Isn't she perfectly dressed for a picnic too?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Psalm 23

Isn't Matt such a sweet kid? He's such a good example to me of patient perseverance. I am such a vile sinner that I can learn a lot from my own children.
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Psalm 23 didn't come easy for Matt, but he kept at it for weeks with that sweet smile on his face. May the Lord forever be his shepherd, his comfort, his joy and his eternal life.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

So close...

Last week, Sandy had a talk with Matt about his eternal destiny. I think it came up as we were flying on the airplane to Albuquerque. Apparently that put the fear of God in him, and he was asking me all week to talk to him about becoming a Christian.So last night, we had the talk. I started out asking him what God is like. His answer? God is holy, great, shiny and sparkly. He understood his sin before this holy God. His specific sins included being mean to his sister, playing when he should be doing his chores, lying and stealing (mostly juice boxes and candy from our home stash). He understood the penalty of his sin - the lake of fire. And he believed that his sin was put on Jesus who died on the cross for his sin and rose again on the 3rd day. He understood that Jesus was fully man and fully God.

He was a little confused on the imputation of Christ's righteousness to him (and still is). But I explained to him that when he becomes a Christian, God gives him a new heart, the Holy Spirit lives in Him and he becomes a part of God's family. We prayed together, and he said afterwards that he had tears in his eyes because he was so happy!

At our family Bible time that night, I told the news to the other kids and do you know what their reaction was? Andrew was happy for him and gave him a high 5. Emery started bawling! "That means that they are both Christians, and I'm not! Why am I the only one who's not a Christian?!"

The one thing I forgot was to ask him if he died, where would he go? So I asked him that today. And he said, I'm not sure. After further probing, he understood the Gospel and that if you believe in that you become a Christian and go to heaven, but he wasn't sure if he believed. He wanted to learn more and felt like he wasn't ready to become a Christian after all. Oh so close!
With Andrew, he was confident and ready and had no hesitation, before or after. With the younger 2, they both seem to want it. They know the Gospel for sure. But they are both really unsure. They also are both a bit younger than Andrew was when he professed faith though. Hopefully God will save their souls soon.

Friday, August 26, 2011

#19 - Good to Great by Jim Collins

Last weekend, we flew to Albuquerque, NM. It was a great trip but exhausting. I'll provide more details on that later. Today's post is about a very interesting book I finished on the flight back. It's called Good to Great by Jim Collins, and I also finished a companion monograph entitled Good to Great And the Social Sectors which applied the same principles of the book to non-profits.You might be wondering - why would you read a secular book on business/leadership? You're not in business, and shouldn't the Bible be the guide to leadership for the church? You are absolutely correct. But reading a secular book on business leadership can be applicable to a pastor for the following reasons. First, good leadership is based on biblical principles. God is the ultimate leader. When we follow His principles, we will lead well in the church, at home and at our workplace. Second, non-Christians can lead well too. This is a form of common grace. If non-Christians follow God's principles, they too can be blessed with the fruit of God's blessing in this life. Third, as long as you are discerning, you can benefit from non-Christians who apply God's principles to life well. Christians aren't the only ones who can apply God's principles. In fact, Christians can lead poorly when they don't follow God's principles. They can be poor communicators and make bad decisions despite knowing God's principles for leadership. So in reading this book, I sought to learn how to apply biblical leadership principles better.

With that in mind, the book evaluated for profit companies and found 11 which had good yet unspectacular histories but then skyrocketed to over 15 years of sustained stock market profitability that crushed their competitors in their field. Jim Collins and his research team evaluated these 11 companies to figure out why and how they transformed themselves from good companies to great ones.

The research led to the following conclusions. First, the key decision was who. Get the right people on the bus and the wrong people off the bus. The right people were humble, disciplined, ambitious not for self but for the company, driven and diligent.

Second, once you get the right people on your team, then figure out what to do and where to go. The way you do this is by confronting the brutal facts of reality. Create a culture where people can speak the truth and dialogue vehemently while at the same time retain faith in the long term direction. Also, you need to make sure that you stay disciplined in thought, adhering to a simple, consistent system and learn to say no. Too often groups lose direction because they can't say no to the good things that are not crucial.

Lastly, when you put disciplined people and have disciplined thought, it will produce disciplined actions which result in a culture of discipline and sustained excellence. This will look rather ordinary, a series of simple good decisions that build upon each other and create momentum, rather than any one huge turning point.

This book had so many good observations about leading groups. It was amazingly helpful.

I loved this quote - "No matter how much you have achieved, you will always be merely good relative to what you can become. Greatness is an inherently dynamic process, not an end point. The moment you think of yourself as great, your slide toward mediocrity will have already begun."

If you translate that to a biblical perspective - No matter how long you've been a Christian, you will always be a wretched sinner compared to the holy greatness of God. Spiritual maturity is an inherently dynamic process (transformation / sanctification), not an end point (until we die). The moment you think of yourself as mature (or better than others), your slide toward immaturity will have already begun. This is what I like to refer to as holy discontentment.

I love talking to the wise elder men that God has gifted me with over the years. Not one of them has ever said - I know what I'm doing; I'm older than you; We've done it that way for years; or otherwise referenced their age or experience as a badge of spiritual "greatness" or a trump card to end discussion. They always listen to me carefully and evaluate our discussion humbly. When they reference their past, they use specific examples to apply to the current situation.

They exemplify the principles contained in this book. It's amazing how biblical this book was - though the language was in business not biblical terms.

I hope that I will never reach a point that I think I am old enough, mature enough or better than others but will always strive to be more holy, more biblical and more wise. I hope that God's glorious holy standards will always show me my sins, my faults and my failures and that the Gospel will always be my identity, my motivation and my joy.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Philippians 4:6-8

Philippians 4:6-8 is one of my favorite passages of Scripture. What a comfort, what a promise, what peace the great God of the universe provides for those who trust in Him. I hope that this passage helps Andrew to hope in God for many years to come.
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There was a lot of background activity. I'm glad Andrew stayed focused throughout.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

#18 - Deception

I haven't read a fiction book in a while so I thought I would give Randy Alcorn's Deception a try.It was such a tough read that it took me 2 whole days to finish it! More specifically, 2 whole evenings. I've read a couple of Alcorn's non-fiction Christian books which I loved - The Purity Principle and The Treasure Principle. So I was curious how he was as a fiction writer. I am glad that I got such a good answer. His style of writing is very fast paced, quick and witty. If you are looking for an easy, entertaining read, this fits the bill.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Biking

Emery has been dying to ride a 2 wheel bike all summer. Ever since Matt learned to do it earlier this summer, she has kept badgering me. I hesitated because she just turned 5. Both Andrew and Matt did it at 6. But if you ask me 1,000 times, eventually I'll give in.
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I went over all the pertinent instructions and let her go at it. Now it looks like she got it on the video. And at the point where the video ends, is where Matt and Andrew kept riding their bikes around the track when they learned. But for some reason, Emery drifted a little closer to the edge of the track and then suddenly, committed bicycle suicide by just turning into the grass and crashing! It surprised me so much that I didn't save her.

Thankfully, she just got a little scrape and went after it again. But the weird thing was that she would ride for a little bit and then suddenly start turning her bike as if to crash again. It was as if she just didn't want to keep going so she thought she had to crash (she had no idea why she was doing this). Fortunately, after the first time, I was prepared and grabbed the bike steady while I'm running beside her every time she started to crash. After a while, it was too nerve racking for the both of us, and we decided to wait until next year when she turns 6! Phew!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Mini - Golf

I took my 3rd-6th grade Sunday School class to do some mini-golf today. The whole family got to have some fun with it too.
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I love Matt's persistence. He isn't fazed by failure and just keeps going after it.Andrew had fun with his friends.We also went to the Mulvane Art Museum at Washburn University and saw a Lego exhibit. The artist did some pretty cool stuff with Legos.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

My little baby!

Well, it finally happened. My little baby grew up. We sent Emery off to kindergarten today.Isn't she too tiny to go to school?She's going to Timmerman Elementary, just a couple of blocks down the street.She had some apprehension about it all, but she was quite brave. Before I know it, I'll have to walk her down the aisle or send her off to college or give her the car keys or...deep breath. Ha! It's not that bad for me...yet. I'll just focus on helping her adjust to kindergarten first.

I wasn't expecting this but Emery is more excited about being promoted to Matt's SS class and sitting with us during service and going to Kids Worship than going to school.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The house

I still can't get over the transformation of our house. We finished the latest update today. Hopefully, it's the last major one. We got a new roof and new gutters. Voila!
Here's the house with the old roof. It's more obvious in person but the roof was much lighter.And here's the original look, 3 years ago

Monday, August 8, 2011

#17 - Unbroken

I've been on my summer reading kick and finished up another entertaining read in Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand.It is a story about Louis Zamperini - a troubled child, an Olympic athlete, a bombardier (aimed the bombs for bomber planes for the US) in the Pacific during WWII and most importantly, a child of the one true God.

The man's story is incredible. His childhood was crazy. His teen and college years were amazing as he became an incredible track athlete (miler) and eventual Olympic athlete in the '36 Olympics. He would have probably medaled in the '40 and '44 Olympics had they had them in '40 and had it not been for WWII.

During WWII, his plane was shot down over the Pacific. He ended up floating around with 2 other men in tiny little rafts with nothing to eat or drink, fending off sharks, and scraping by on rainfall and the occasional bird / fish they managed to catch for some 47 days. 1 of the men starved to death.

After that ordeal, they were rescued...by the Japanese. Can you imagine that? You're on the brink of starvation and about to lose your mind only to end up in a horrific POW camp. Not only did he continue to be on the brink of starvation, now he had to go through beatings, humiliation, disease and horrific mind games for YEARS! It just kept getting worse for the poor man.

After the war ended, the poor guy was an emotional wreck. Haunted by nightmares of torture and mental abuse, there was no escape from the captivity of his mind. Until by the grace of God, he was freed from sin and death and was adopted into the loving, protecting arms of our great God and Father, the creator and sustainer of the universe. It was only through God's wonderful gospel did Louis Zamperini become freed from the horrific memories of WWII through the ministry of Billy Graham of all people!

This was quite the captivating and inspiring story. Zamperini's unrelenting human spirit was only eclipsed by the marvelous grace of God at the end of the book. It gave me even more appreciation for the sacrifice and service of the men and women who protected our nation from evil and injustice during WWII. This book was a great read.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Psalm 23

We've been chipping away at Psalm 23. And I believe she's got it.
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Emery still struggles with fear. Lately, it's been fear of robbers breaking into the house when she's trying to sleep at night. I have no idea where that came from. But it's been encouraging that as I point her to the greatness of God, it soothes her fears and gives her peace and comfort. We recount the stories of God's greatness in protecting Noah and David and the Israelites in the Exodus as I tuck her into bed. It is awesome to see my daughter trust in the omnipotence and love of God.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Incredible Hulk cake

If the Incredible Hulk ate cake, this would be it:Why you ask?Because it's his favorite color. It's green tea cake, and it looks even more green in person.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

You'll shoot your eye out!

Did your mom ever warn you to never run with scissors? How about never own a bb gun? Maybe, don't run when your arms are full? Well, the last one is good advice when you're a 5 year-old girl.She had her arms full with her towel, life jacket and goggles after an afternoon at the pool. While running to the car to get in first, she slipped and fell right into the side of the open car door. It didn't look that bad and I thought, oh well, not a big deal. Then I heard Matt say, "Wow, Emery is really messy." Hm. What could that mean? Oh, blood dripping all over her face is pretty messy! Thankfully, we didn't need stitches, and she's going to be ok.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Row, row, row your boat

Andrew has been steadily working at his piano skills. This is his first song.
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The other day, Andrew came running up from the basement and frantically asked for gloves. Now keep in mind that it's 110 degrees outside right now. "Why do you need gloves?" I ask. His answer - "I need to do surgery on Matt!" Can't leave those 2 alone for a minute.

Monday, August 1, 2011

KU

The University of Kansas (also known as KU, not UK mind you) is located in the "big" city of Lawrence. Now that we've been in Emporia for over 3 years, every city is big.One thing Sandy and I love to do is eat food when we get out of town. Have you heard of 5 Guys Burgers and Fries? They are quite different from In'N'Out, but I must say, they are some of the best burgers I've had in a while.They come in a brown bag stuffed with fries. We had them Cajun style. This was a small.This was a regular burger. Do you get the idea that they like things big here? I wish I had access to this place 10 years ago. Another thing I like about this place is that they let you pick your toppings. Yummy.