Friday, September 30, 2011

28 Days

It has begun. The one thing that everyone dreads. The one thing that is universally loathed. What is it?Packing. The moving truck comes to load our stuff for ABQ in 28 days. At the same time, we want to keep our house looking somewhat appealing just in case someone wants to buy the house. So whatever I pack I have to keep in our storage room in the basement. So far so good.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The enemy of leadership

One of my favorite blogs is Matt Perman's What's Best Next. He had a great post on the opposite of leadership - complacency. I think it's not just the opposite but the enemy of leadership. Complacency attacks, battles and wars against leadership. It fights against change. It fights to maintain. It fights what's new, what's different, what's uncomfortable.

I've been surprised to realize that at the heart of complacency is fear. I used to think it was laziness or simply old habits. But I've come to realize that it is fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of losing prestige or position or authority. Feeling like it's good enough, that I'm ok or that we don't need to go over the top are all signs of complacency. Complacency is truly the enemy of leadership.

For the full post - click here.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Crazy hair night

Tonight was Crazy Hair night at Awana if you couldn't figure that out. It's hard to be mom and fun and cool, but somehow, Sandy pulls it off. I had crazy hair too, but I only embarrass myself that badly for the Awana kids.

Monday, September 26, 2011

New to him

Matt got some new pajamas today, new to him.Not only are those PJ's awesome to Matt because they are new, but also because they used to be Andrew's.4 years later, Matt is wearing Andrew's PJ's. As a parent, I love it when more than 1 child wears the same set of clothes. Why is that?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

All done!

We finished the garage sale, and I am very pleased with the results. We got rid of almost everything we wanted to, and we made some profit too. I am most proud of selling our basketball hoop for $20 because I bought it 3 years ago for $20! Oh yeah!

We only have 1 table of stuff left which we will put out with our neighbor's garage sale next week. About half of that stuff, we'd actually be happy to keep but if we can sell it for the right price, we'll let it go.Our garage sale was so all consuming that we didn't do much parenting for about 24 hours. Sad, I know. But thankfully, most of the time, the boys and girl stayed out of trouble.Andrew and Matt took a break from their "security" jobs to play a little football. Thankfully, they were concerned about head trauma and took the proper precautions! Mom was proud.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Moving sale

Wow. This is our first ever garage / moving sale, and I had no idea how popular these things are!These things are like honey to bees. The minute we started putting things out, literally - the minute, people started stopping and buying. It was amazing! We haven't even officially opened for business - that's 3pm - but we've already sold more than $300 worth of stuff. This is 4 families worth of stuff though so we do have quite a bit.Going into this sale, I thought - man, I just want to get rid of everything we possibly can. I don't care if we even make a buck. But it's amazing how much greed I have in my heart. As soon as we started selling stuff, I started wondering how much more we could have gotten if we had just asked for a little more. Why didn't I put the price at a $1 more? Man, I am such a vile sinner.We are well equipped with high tech, roving, battle axe wielding security...just in case, you know, vikings attack or something.Security is always playing cards and eating, right?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Colossians 3:9

This is probably Matt's last non-Awana verse for a while since we started Awana last night.
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The boy is on a tear. He plowed through about 10 verses last night, mostly review ones though.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Impossible

The impossible has happened...I hope. Matthew 19:25 When the disciples heard this, they were very astonished and said, "Then who can be saved?" 26 And looking at them Jesus said to them, "With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."I think our precious little Matt has been born again. John 3:4 Nicodemus said to Him, "How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born, can he?" 5 Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.All 5 lbs 9 oz of him was born of water 6 years ago, but he professed faith the other day and may have been born of spirit now too. After we were so close, just a month ago (click here for that story), I thought we'd have a while to wait. But Sandy overheard Matt telling Andrew that he became a Christian. As Matt tends to be, it was a very understated moment. Very casually, he simply explained that he prayed to God on his own and that he became a Christian.

Last week, I decided to verify this confession as I took him out for what we call special daddy time. We went to McDonalds and shared some fries. I proceeded to ask him if he died, where would he go. Matt casually answered, "Heaven." Why? Because I'm a Christian. What makes you a Christian? I believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God [John 20:31 - one of his current Awana verses].

We proceeded to talk further about the Gospel. And he clearly believes that he is a sinner that deserves the Lake of Fire but that Christ died for his sin. He understands that he is not worthy of heaven and cannot do anything good enough to get there. He trusts in Christ completely. He understands that he needs to believe in faith every day and continue to repent for his sins.

As a father, this experience was very different than my talks with Andrew (click here for that story). It seems to fit Matt's personality though. But Matt is so young that I am very hesitant to even believe it. At the same time, God is the one who saves, and Matt definitely understands the Gospel. Who am I to declare that he is too young to be born again?

So with very cautious optimism, I will do my best to nurture what I hope is genuine faith. God will bear fruit in keeping with repentance whether a soul is 6 or 66 years-old. I trust in God's power to save not in Matt's confession. Praise God that He is mighty to save.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Ephesian 4:30-32

Our Awana program starts up this Wed, and we've already started working on those verses. But I want Andrew to keep memorizing his own verses. The trick is doing both. Thankfully, Andrew's been memorizing verses for so long that it hasn't been a problem so far. He doesn't always, but he can memorize 1-2 new ones a week and still keep up with all of his old ones. Which by now, is starting to be a pretty impressive list.
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Here's the latest, Ephesians 4:30-32.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Homeschool

Every day, Sandy and Matt work away for hours on the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic.Matt works hard even though school does not come naturally to him. I am so thankful for my wife to put in the hours everyday, giving him the individual attention that he needs so that he can establish so many foundational educational objectives.
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I asked Matt what he likes about school. His answer - Not much. Eventually he conceded that he likes coloring and drawing. Only Matt can talk about how much he doesn't like something with a smile.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

#21 - Get Outta My Face!

When I bought Get Outta My Face! by Rick Horne, I thought I was buying a parenting book about the teen years. Even though I don't have teenagers yet, I like to read parenting books to prepare me for what's coming.But this book is not really about parenting teenagers. It's even more specifically about how to communicate with angry teenagers who don't want to communicate. Horne writes, "This book has a narrow focus and a limited goal. It does not present a full-scale method of youth counseling or parenting. Nor does it show parents how to hold their teens accountable for their foolish choices."

Horne's main point of the book is "that your first words to an angry teen will strongly push that interaction toward one of two outcomes: your words being received, thus beginning a conversation, or a Get outta my face response, thus shutting it all down. Presentation, the way we approach our teen and start to talk, can make or break effective communication." [italics his]

I think it took me a few chapters before I fully appreciated the narrow focus of the book. I kept wanting him to deal with the heart of the teen, to apply Scriptures to the soul and to bring the Gospel to bear in the life situation of the young man he was describing. But then I fully realized and appreciated what he was doing. Horne gives a basic method of communication that describes how to listen to and build a bridge of communication so that we can start a relationship with a teenager who has shut down and tried to burn, explode and napalm that bridge.

As adults, we often give too much information. We move too fast in trying to tell and speak into our child's life (or anyone for that matter) before we fully listen to and understand the perspective of our child. I am guilty of that often. I call it monologuing as opposed to dialogue. Proverbs 18:13 speaks to that too - He who gives an answer before he hears, It is folly and shame to him.

If you work with teens, have a teen or anticipate either and have struggled with communicating with teens, you may want to get this book. It is written clearly and gives good examples to illustrate the communication principles outlined in this book. However, as with many counseling books, the examples are somewhat ideal. I have not talked with a teenager who gave such concise and clear, almost "perfect" answers to the questions asked. Usually, I get more of the "I dunno know" or incredibly verbose with various tangential stories type answers. Of course, maybe I'm just not applying the principles of this book well enough!

Monday, September 12, 2011

The help

Good help is hard to find.We're training the boys and girl to be hard workers. But quality of work takes time to develop. During our cleaning frenzy last week, we put the boys and girl to work.At least, they have fun with it while they work.With all her work money, Emz can buy more hair extensions...

Saturday, September 10, 2011

For sale

We just put our house up for sale this week. It is a great opportunity to trust the Lord for His perfect timing and good grace in our life. We have been praying fervently not just for a quick sale but for the peace to trust in God's good will for us even if the house doesn't sell for months. I'm already practicing what I'm going to preach.But how could you resist this advertising campaign?We've been cleaning and de-cluttering like mad. I think the interior of the house looks the best it has ever looked. Isn't this room to die for? That's what our realtor says. :)The hardest part is to keep the place looking like this with the boys and girls wanting to touch everything and put things everywhere like kids do. I am constantly following them, wiping down mirrors and putting everything back in its place.When we have a showing, we usually get a few hours notice. So we frantically tidy up and then clear the facilities like it's some emergency evacuation procedure.This picture just cracks me up. How did we shrink our dining room table? It must be a magic camera.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Albuquerque

For those of you have not heard, we will be moving to Albuquerque, NM at the end of October / early November. By the grace of God, I will be the next pastor of Alameda Bible Church. Many of you know that I have never desired to be the preaching / senior pastor of a church or are simply wondering how this came about. Here is my explanation.

It all started a little less than a year ago when 2 pastor friends of mine who don't know each other, each told me at different times that I should be a senior pastor. Not that I could be or do I want to be, but that I should be. One friend explained that I have spiritual gifts that should be utilized in that capacity. The other explained that I think and talk about the things a senior pastor thinks about.

You see I love to think and talk about ministry in the church. I love to explore and ask - how can we improve as a church? How can we better make disciples? How can we better shepherd? How can we glorify God more? I love to evaluate and analyze our church to formulate better ministry goals. I love to look back and critically assess the past in order to improve upon the future. I relentlessly think about and pursue a more biblically faithful methodology.

And it became clear after months of thought, prayer and counsel, that this was the direction for me. I wasn't sure if anyone would want me or if God would open a door for me that was the right fit. But by His sovereign providence, God opened the door to a church that I think will be a great fit and allow me greater ministry opportunity especially through the preaching and teaching of God's Word.

So I am surprised that after almost 20 years of pursuing and participating in ministry, I am about to fill a role, I never saw myself doing. It is exciting and humbling at the same time. I am definitely sad to leave our church in Kansas. We have loved our family in Christ here dearly and have been loved in return. I have been so blessed to serve alongside so many gifted, faithful and fun brothers and sisters in Christ. But I hope that our relationships will continue in the years to come and forevermore in heaven.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

#20 - Lone Survivor

I flew out to Maryland over the weekend and read Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell. The book was so riveting that it made the 2 1/2 hour flight seem like minutes. It is the eye witness account of Operation Redwing and the lost heroes of Seal Team 10. If you are patriotic and/or manly in any way shape or form(!), you will love this book. It had me tearing up just reading the forward. I know, real manly.Lutrell is a Navy Seal and explains what happened in Afghanistan as well as the necessary background and context of the men who gave their lives for our freedom in this country. There is some foul language, but it is amazing to read about the dedication, sacrifice and commitment necessary to become a Navy Seal as well as to protect our country. I have always appreciated the men and women who serve our country in the armed forces, but this brought my respect up several notches.

I think you can tell from the title, that Luttrell was the only survivor for a mission in Afghanistan. Many men died, bravely, heroically and valiantly for our country and for each other. I will not summarize the details because I won't be able to do justice to the story. It was amazing to read. I have to admit it, I was tearing up several times on the airplane and even shed tears once.

But here are a few random thoughts on the book. First, I was surprised at how smart Navy Seals have to be. I always knew they had amazing physical requirements but never realized how intelligent they have to be. These men could be lawyers and doctors, one person mentioned was even a Rhodes scholar, but they choose to be Navy Seals. Second, the principles that make Navy Seals great are biblical ones. They emphasize integrity, truth, justice, self-control, discipline, commitment and humility. All the things that should characterize Christians. Third, the camaraderie and love for fellow Seals is exactly what Christian fellowship should be like. They truly do have a bond and commitment to each other that exceeds blood family. It was inspiring and amazing to read about.

I highly recommend this book if you like military history. And as a Christian, you can appreciate God's common grace to all men who follow His design for life.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Funny pics

Sometimes I find the boys and girl doing the funniest random things.I guess it makes sense to wear goggles into the bath tub, but I would never have thought to do that.Emery decided to go punk one day. The 80's live on.And for some reason, everyone wanted to wear their costumes when they got home.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Star Wars

Emery slept over Addy's house tonight so the boys and I decided to fulfill another rite of passage into manhood - we watched Star Wars.I've been waiting for Andrew to get braver. He gets so scared about any imminent danger in movies even if he knows that nothing bad will happen in the end. It's weird, but Matt hardly ever gets bothered or scared about anything in movies even though he's so much younger.

But I was a little concerned so as we watched, I kept asking them - Are you ok? Andrew almost had to fast forward a couple of scenes, but he made it. When it was over, we noticed Andrew was really sweaty. It was because he was so tense throughout the movie! When we asked him what he thought of the movie, he shouted, "That was awesome!" It was worth the sweat apparently.

What did Matt think of it? "I thought there would be more killing."

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Something new

One of the fun things for me about parenting is that the boys and girl are always learning something new. Sometimes it's scary while at other times it's very exciting.I came home from work the other day to see Emz using a real kitchen knife to cut olives. To be honest, I wanted to stop that immediately, but I held back, barely.Matt and Sandy visited Emery for lunch at her school. I still can't believe she's going to kindergarten. And Matt was a lot happier to visit than he looks, really.After 5 years with a daughter, I still haven't figured out girl hair. But this one wasn't me, Emery did her own hair for the first time and went to school. She was SUPER proud of herself. Hopefully she'll be able to take care of that herself soon so I won't ever have to perfect that one.