Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Andrew's job for the past couple of years has been clearing the table. But I decided it's time to start teaching him the art of loading the dishwasher. As with all child training, one of the side benefits is to develop greater patience in me. Teaching Andrew to load the dishwasher take 3x longer than me doing it, but I know that the benefits for him and me long term are worth the time investment.
Right now, he's excited about the new job. I guess that will last about 2 more days. Andrew loves to start new things but follow through and completing things are less exciting to him. Matt is a very impressionable little brother. He is super excited to be doing Andrew's old job, and he can't wait to load the dishwasher and mow the lawn.
2 years - I'm 2 years away. With 2 more years of training, it'll be time to kick back, relax and watch the boys and girl DO EVERYTHING! Ha!
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Sunday, November 27, 2011
Saturday, November 26, 2011
Thursday, November 24, 2011
During the time, I was sick, I couldn't speak much. So I couldn't read the Bible to the boys and girl during our evening Bible time. I am thankful that God has given me the privilege to read His Word to them. It is something I should not take for granted nor so easily forego on evenings we are busy.
Also, while I was sick, I couldn't sing. That made me real sad. What a privilege and honor and joy it is to sing to our great and glorious God. I am so looking forward to heaven where I will be able to sing, hopefully in perfect pitch, with all the saints of all time and praise God in heaven! And I will never miss a day from sickness or being tired or anything for that matter. O Glorious Day!
But in the end, I am most thankful that God never gets sick. He never gets tired. He never misses a day being God to me and to all His creation. He doesn't need vitamins, Nyquil, a humidifier, cough drops or extra rest. He is self-sufficient and needs absolutely nothing to be the all perfect, all powerful, always righteous and infinitely good and loving God of the universe. Isn't that comforting? The old theological term for this is the aseity of God. This thanksgiving, I am especially thankful that I can depend and trust in the aseity of God.
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Monday, November 21, 2011
Sunday, November 20, 2011
I really should enjoy the fact that some people think I am in my 20's although doing the math, that would mean I would have been a teen father. And with my less than vibrant head of hair, I don't understand how people could think I am so young. But really, it's one more opportunity for me to decrease and Christ to increase in my life.
We started celebrating a little early with a yummy birthday dinner last night. My wonderful wife grilled me some fabulous rib eye steak and some of my favorite foods.The boys and girl made me some cards and gave me some presents - one gave me 6 cents, another 12 cents. Child labor doesn't pay what it used to...We couldn't quite manage a decent picture where everyone's eyes are open and looking at the camera. But somehow, the crazy picture always turns out fine - why is that?
I'm feeling a bit under the weather today, some kind of head cold and congestion. So I'm not having the wild and crazy birthday I usually have. :) But I got to preach God's Word on my birthday this morning, celebrate with my beautiful wife and the always entertaining boys and girl, and worship with my new church family. That makes it a pretty great day.
Saturday, November 19, 2011
Friday, November 18, 2011
- The pursuit of holiness must be anchored in the grace of God; otherwise it is doomed to failure. That statement probably strikes many people as strange. A lot of Christians seem to think that the grace of God and the vigorous pursuit of holiness are antithetical - that is, in direct and unequivocal opposition to one another. To some, the pursuit of holiness sounds like legalism and man-made rules. To others, an emphasis on grace seems to open the door to irresponsible, sinful behavior based on the notion that God's unconditional love means we are free to sin as we please.
Unfortunately, I have been called a legalist and one who emphasizes works, not grace, because I have exhorted Christians to pursue holiness and to a high standard of commitment to the Lord. I think those people didn't understand that the key to a high standard of commitment to the Lord can only be found in a deeply held dependence on God's grace. Whether we have a good day or a bad day, we are never good enough. We always need God's grace. And the key is the conviction that Christ is enough for us so that we don't need to (really we can't) do anything else. That gives us a freedom to give everything to God because we know that we will never be good enough.
- Regardless of our performance, we are always dependent on God's grace, His undeserved favor to those who deserve His wrath. Some days we may be more acutely conscious of our sinfulness and hence more aware of our need of His grace, but there is a never a day we can stand before Him on our own two feet of performance, when we are worthy enough to deserve His blessing.
- Your worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God's grace. And your best days are never so good that you are beyond the need of God's grace.
- On a good day, as we perceive it, we tend toward self-righteous Pharisaism. On a not-so-good day we allow ourselves to wallow in a sense of failure and guilt. In fact, it may be more than not-so-good days - it may be weeks or months. We have moved away from the gospel of God's grace and have begun to try to relate to God directly on the basis of our performance rather than through Christ.
- The gospel, applied to our hearts every day, frees us to be brutally honest with ourselves and with God. The assurance of total forgiveness of our sins through the blood of Christ means we don't have to play defensive games anymore. We don't have to rationalize and excuse our sins. We can say we told a lie instead of saying we exaggerated a bit. We can admit an unforgiving spirit instead of continuing to blame our parents for our emotional distress. We can call sin exactly what it is, regardless of how ugly and shameful it may be, because we know that Jesus bore that sin in His body on the cross. With the assurance of total forgiveness through Christ, we have no reason to hide from our sins anymore.
The Gospel is not just for unbelievers. The Gospel is not just for evangelistic sermons at Christmas and Easter. The Gospel is not just funerals and visitations with non-Christian family members. The Gospel is for all of us, every day.
- So if we are to live by the gospel every day, our tendency to compare ourselves with other believers, not to mention unbelievers, must be put away. Rather we must measure ourselves against God's perfect standard and daily confess that we have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
It's ironic that those who accused me of legalism were actually the ones guilty of it. If the standard is God's perfect righteousness, we all fall short and thus all need grace all the time. The minute we lower the standard to anything else (even in the name of compassion or grace), we have created a man made, legalistic, self-righteous standard that some can merit whether we realize it or not. And thus we have lost grace in doing so.
- It is not our contrition or sorrow for our sin, it is not our repentance, it is not even the passing of a certain number of hours during which we feel we are on some kind of probation that cleanses us. It is the blood of Christ, shed once for all on Calvary 2,000 years ago but appropriated daily or even many times a day, that cleanses our consciences and gives us a renewed sense of peace with God.
Bridges exhorts believers to preach the gospel to yourself daily.
- To preach the gospel to yourself, then, means that you continually face up to your own sinfulness and then flee to Jesus through faith in His shed blood and righteous life. It means that you appropriate, again by faith, the fact that Jesus fully satisfied the law of God, that He is your propitiation, and that God's holy wrath is no longer directed toward you.
- This is a book about God's grace and the pursuit of holiness. You can be sure of one thing though: When you set yourself to seriously pursue holiness, you will begin to realize what an awful sinner you are. And if you are not firmly rooted in the gospel and have not learned to preach it to yourself every day, you will soon be discouraged and will slack off in your pursuit of holiness.
Bridges then spends the rest of the book outlining how various disciplines such as convictions, commitment and watching need to be developed but firmly grounded in the gospel. I highly recommend this book.
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Whether it's Sensei Andrew or General Andrew, he loves to be in charge.
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Monday, November 14, 2011
We happened to be reading through this chapter last week during our family Bible time, when it struck me - Sandy's dad is just like Bezalel. He is very good with home repair, electrical, woodworking, art, golf, horticulture and even cooking. He's been doing a ton of stuff to get us unpacked and set up in our new home. But he expanded his repertoire last week.He did some ironing of fabric.So that he could sew a curtain for us.And voila - we have some privacy and it looks good too.He even helped us wash our windows. He did about 3 months of work for me in 1 week and did it better than I could have. Thanks so much to our modern day Bezalel.We had another great visit with Sandy's parents.
Sunday, November 13, 2011
For several weeks, I had been contemplating what I would preach and say for my first sermon. At the time, I thought it was going to be a big deal. After all, this was my first sermon as "the" pastor. But after witnessing Pastor Bicker's last sermon which was probably his 2,000th or so sermon at just this church, I came to realize I was having delusions of grandeur...again. Anyone can preach 1 sermon and start into pastoral ministry. But by the grace of God, I hope I can be faithful to preach His Word with passion and accuracy for my 2,000th sermon too. So this was a good morning to contemplate my insignificance and strive for the long term.
Also, with all of the major transitions in life the last couple of weeks, let's just say, I haven't been at my spiritual finest. As a pastor, it is easy for me to feel hypocritical going up in front of others and preaching. I had a great opportunity to cast myself upon the cross of Christ again, knowing that I have nothing good to offer God but for His grace in my life. But the thought struck me, I still have nothing good to offer God even when I don't feel like a hypocrite and when I have had a good week spiritually (at least in my eyes). Regardless of my thoughts and feelings of the past week, I need to trust in the Gospel daily for my righteousness and my service to Him.
Preaching a message at a funeral is usually not something people dream of doing. I think up until a few years ago, it was probably one of the last things I wanted to do. I knew this day would come, but I was surprised that it came so quickly, on my first Sunday preaching in fact. The church was packed too - standing room only. Most of the people were not from our church, and I didn't know how many, if any, were believers.
I don't think I've ever preached a Gospel message to so many people in that type of situation. As I think back upon this evening, I am surprised that I wasn't nervous at all. Usually, in a new situation with new people, I have trouble feeling comfortable. I am so thankful to God for being so kind to me today. What a great way to start here in ABQ. Praise God!
Saturday, November 12, 2011
It was a fun day, and now we know where to take our family and friends who come visit from out of town!
Thursday, November 10, 2011
At first, Matt was very hesitant. But he wanted it out so bad that he couldn't resist. Grandpa told him to close his eyes and then, ta-da! It was out and pain free to boot. Emery was the most excited of them all - screaming and running around the house. Matt, as you can tell, wasn't quite as expressive. I've been very happy at how well Matt has adjusted to our new life here. He was the most resistant to moving originally. He's never been in a school before and academics have not been his strength to this point. But he has really shown a maturity and responsibility that I didn't know he had. He comes home and informs us of tests and assignments that he has to do. He wants to do well and puts in the extra time to make that happen.
He's even quite popular in his class. There's only 1 other boy in his class of 6 or so kids. We asked him if he played with that boy:
Matt: Nah. He doesn't try to play with me.
Our response: Well then you should try and play with him.
Matt: I can't. Everyone else wants me to play with them. They're always telling me to play this or do that. So I don't have time.
Oh, who knew? But I saw him playing catch with that boy later on in the week at recess so I guess his celebrity status has died down. Phew.
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Monday, November 7, 2011
Friday, November 4, 2011
Yet for some reason, this move has been the hardest of them all. Maybe it was arriving on Sat night and starting all our kids at a new school on Monday. Maybe it was moving from a small town where everything is 5 minutes away to figuring out how things work in a city of about a million people. Maybe it's that this is the 11th move and Sandy and I are too old for this. :)
God blessed us with a wonderful send off from our previous church in KS with encouragement, meals, gifts and help. He also blessed us with a wonderful reception from our new church in ABQ with hospitality, encouragement, meals, help unpacking and a wonderfully renovated parsonage. And when I think about it, we are very much moved in and almost settled into our new place in only 4 days. We've found everything that we packed away except for Sandy's study Bible. The boys and girl are adjusting very well to their new school. I really couldn't ask for more.
But unfortunately, I really am a wicked sinner and I do want more. I want internet access at my house. I want to know where everything is in the new house. I want to know how to get everywhere in the area. I want to settle into my office and work and live as if I had worked and lived here all my life.
I was convicted this morning that I have been letting the pressure of getting settled, getting ready for family coming tomorrow and getting ready to preach next week rob me of the joy of my salvation. I have been focusing on what I need to have and do to get ready for next week rather than on the truth that God is good and does good, always...no matter what my circumstances are.
So while I wouldn't wish a move on anyone. If you do go through it, I hope that God uses it to transform your heart and increase your dependence on our glorious Savior as He has for me.Thanks Beverly and Glenn for all of your hospitality and help! It was truly a fabulous blessing from God!