Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The girl

Emery is really starting to blossom. I think age 6 is one of the best years of childhood where things start to click both mentally and physically. We got to enjoy Matt hit a bunch of milestones last year. Now Emery, always so precocious, is starting to develop in those ways 6 months early.She has carried around a variety of bags and pretended they were purses. But none were quite realistic enough or the right size for her to really stick. They were always soon replaced. Thanks to the magic of duct tape - can you believe this purse is made of duct tape?! - and the talented Kiersten, Emery has the perfect fashion accessory.Emery practically sleeps with her new purse. She takes it everywhere and is constantly putting things in and taking things out. She couldn't have gotten a better gift. Thanks Kiersten!

Monday, January 30, 2012

#4 - Gates of Fire

I'm not sure what happened, but here we are with my 4th book read in the first month of the year. I just finished Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield. It is a fictional book about the historical battle of Thermopylae (translated "Hot Gates" for its regional hot springs).The battle of Thermopylae occurred in 480 BC when King Xerxes I of Persia led some gigantic army (scholars aren't exactly sure about the exact number but guesses have been anywhere from 100,000 to 1 million though it seems more likely to be lower on that scale) into Greece to conquer it. King Leonidas of Sparta led a much smaller force of about 7,000 soldiers to a narrow mountain pass to stem the invasion temporarily.

It was a death mission, a courageous last stand for the greater good of Greece. Outnumbered and out-supplied, the Spartans and their fellow Greek comrades held strong for 2 full days of battle despite the odds against them. Unfortunately, the Greeks were betrayed by a local traitor who informed the Persians of a narrow path that went behind the Greek army. Upon hearing the news, the Spartan king dismissed the bulk of his small army and made one final stand with his few remaining troops.

I'm a sucker for these inspiring, courageous, military stories of commitment, loyalty and valor. Here's a quote describing this ethos, "When I first came to Lakedaemon and they called me 'Suicide,' I hated it. But in time I came to see its wisdom, unintentional as it was. For what can be more noble than to slay oneself? Not literally. Not with a blade in the guts. but to extinguish the selfish self within, that part which looks only to its own preservation, to save its own skin. That, I saw was the victory you Spartans had gained over yourselves. That was the glue.

"When a warrior fights not for himself, but for his brothers, when his most passionately sought goal is neither glory nor his own life's preservation, but to spend his substance for them, his comrades, not to abandon them, not to prove unworthy of them, then his heart truly has achieved contempt for death, and with that he transcends himself and his actions touch the sublime."

There is so much biblical truth in this perspective. A Christian should truly die to himself and love his brothers and sisters - the Church. The church of God should have this commitment, this unity, this eternal love. It reminds me of John 12:24 "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 "He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal. 26 "If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him."

The book nailed biblical servant leadership too. Here's a quote of a Spartan soldier rebuking the Persian King who did not exemplify servant leadership like the Spartan king did. "I will tell his Majesty what a king is. A king does not abide within his tent while his men bleed and die upon the field. A king does not dine while his men go hungry, nor sleep when they stand at watch upon the wall. A king does not command his men's loyalty through fear nor purchase it with gold; he earns their love by the sweat of his own back and the pains he endures for their sake. That which comprises the harshest burden, a king lifts first and sets down last. A king does not require service of those he leads but provides it to them. He serves them, not they him."

What a description of humble leadership! It does describe the King of Kings, Jesus Christ and should describe me as one of the leaders of my church and as the leader of my home.

All in all, a very entertaining read with good spiritual illustrations. However, it does not romanticize war but describes it in plenty of gory detail. I know actual war is far, far worse and is the closest picture of hell on earth, but the book made you feel what war could be like.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Proverbs 22:9

Sometimes I wonder if Andrew should/could memorize the whole book of Proverbs. There are so many good ones.
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He looks a tad casual here, eh?

Friday, January 27, 2012

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Yesterday for Spirit week, it was "what do you want to be when you grow up day"?Andrew wants to play in the NBA. Matt wants to bend it like Beckham. Matt wants to be a soccer player but he's afraid to actually play soccer. We keep asking him if he wants to play on a team, and he keeps saying, "Nah. It's too scary." And Emery wants to be a nurse. I'm pretty sure 2 out of the 3 will have to deal with disappointment in life pretty soon.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

#3 - John MacArthur by Iain Murray

I recently finished Iain Murray's biography of John MacArthur. This is a pretty unusual biography for Murray in that MacArthur is still alive. I guess he'll have to either revise this edition or write a part 2 someday.

I must admit that I have a fond affection for the life and ministry of MacArthur. I attended Grace Community Church where MacArthur preaches as a child. In fact, I was saved by the grace of God at that church and was baptized there. I also know many who have attended or still do attend there. I have several friends who graduated from the Master's Seminary where he is president. I've been to a couple of Shepherd's Conferences and have listened to many of his sermons and read several of his books.That being said, I also am not a blind MacArthur follower. I agree with him on many things, but I do have a few minor disagreements of substance and style. I know there are many who have strong disagreements with him as he is a very polarizing figure.

But regardless of how you feel about him, I think his biography is a fascinating read because he is a fascinating person. His background, his family, his character and his ministry all attest to a man who loves God and loves His Word.

Here are a few gems:
  • You cannot be faithful and popular, so take your pick.
  • Success isn't measured in hours, or even centuries. Our focus is fixed on eternity.
  • It was my father's preaching that made the greatest impact. You don't grow up a pastor's son without hearing a few thousand sermons - some more than once...What I found as I watched - and what has most profoundly influenced me - was that my father's life rang true. His actions and his attitudes didn't change according to where he was or whom he was with. He lived by the same standard he encouraged his family and congregation to embrace, and by doing so, refused to give us an excuse to compromise. In a word, what he taught me was the value of integrity.
  • [Grandfather MacArthur] often said there were others who could preach it better, but they could never preach a better gospel.
  • A congregation that evangelizes 365 days a year is better than church which has a week of 'revival' meetings once a year.
  • Whether a woman works outside the home or not, God's primary calling for her is to manage the home. It is the most exalted place for a wife...far more crucial to the future of a woman's children than anything she might do in an outside job.
  • If you have no opposition in the place you are serving, then you're serving in the wrong place. MacArthur quoting G. Campbell Morgan
  • I needed to continue teaching the powerful Word, reiterating sound doctrines from all the rich texts of Scripture. Because God's Word is timeless, dynamic, and fundamental to godly living. No one ever outgrows it or exhausts its immeasurable death.
  • Pastors should study to know God, not just to make sermons. For me, the greatest joy of preaching comes, not in the final step, proclamation, but in the transformation of my own life.
  • I have learned to embrace failure and criticism as probably the most productive work of God in my life. I can exegete a passage, what I cannot do is to refine myself. I cannot crush my own pride. So there is a sense in which the best things that have happened to me have been the disappointments and misrepresentations.
  • MacArthur was convinced that the best illustrations to use are those taken from the Bible itself. To stay close to Scripture in everything is to rely on the highest authority. 'Stories have emotional impact, but they are lightweight compared with Scripture.'
  • The love between husband and wife is the real key to a thriving family. The properly situated family has marriage at the centre; families shouldn't revolve around the children.
  • There is nothing to prohibit a man from seeking his wife's counsel about such matters as where the family should live, what job offer he should accept, whether the family should participate in this or that activity, or a host of other similar decisions. In fact, the man who is not interested in his wife's opinion in such matters is a foolish and uncaring husband.

I think Murray did a great job letting MacArthur, and those close to him, speak for him. I feel like a got a very good sense of who he is and the major events / controversies of his life. Personally, I think MacArthur is the greatest preacher of his generation. He can explain the meaning of a text better than anyone else I have ever heard. I also appreciate his emphasis on the church. My passion has always been to serve and be a part of God's church. Even though MacArthur is involved with many other para-church organizations, they all seem intentionally designed to support the ministry of the church.

I highly recommend this book and listening to John MacArthur preach.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Crazy clown day

This week is Spirit Week at Victory Christian School. The boys and girl have LOTS of spirit and unbeknownst to me, they have a strong inner clown that they have not let out previously.Andrew was the mime clown animal trainer, notice the animals strung around him. Matt was the fireman clown with the sad clown eyes. And Emery was the ballerina clown. Our house has become the greatest show on earth...

Monday, January 23, 2012

Mozart

Mozart he is not. But I don't want him to spend his life trying to be either. As I mentioned earlier, Andrew is starting up his piano lessons again - mostly just reviewing his old lessons for now. He's learning to play sharps.
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It's funny to me that our society has emphasized self-esteem so much that every child is supposed to be the next Mozart or Beethoven. I guess the people who push this have never been around the average kid. I, for example, was a pretty average kid but never became the next Itzhak Perlman or the Korean Magic Johnson as I had hoped. But that's ok because I became something better, a child of the most high God. Hopefully, the boys and girl will follow me as I follow Christ and will be proficient with music enough to serve God for His glory.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Piano lessons

When we lived in Kansas, we were borrowing a piano in order for Sandy to give Andrew piano lessons. But when we moved to ABQ, we had to put the piano lessons on hold. Thankfully, God provided a keyboard for us recently through friends at our new church so that she can start piano lessons again.
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Sandy added a new student - Emery. She's been dying to learn and actually has some finger control now. It's been cute watching her try and practice on her own initiative. She gets frustrated easily as you can see from the video, but she is persistent and doesn't give up.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Spelling bee ribbons

Guess who got their spelling bee ribbons yesterday?It's not like they are excited about them or anything...Matt kept wearing his ribbon around yesterday, re-pinning it all over his shirt - chest, stomach, back, you name it. Because he got 2nd place, he will be going to districts in 2 weeks. Our world is filled with practicing spelling words - baby, back, cash, cold - we're only up to the "C's" so far.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Colossians 4:2

After 5+ years of consistent memorizing myself and training the boys and girl to memorize, I have come to the conclusion that memorization is a skill. Some have more natural ability to do it than others, but if you don't practice and train yourself to do it, you will never be good at it. Matt does not have the natural ability for it, but he has become fairly proficient at it. Andrew has a God given "talent" for it, and he has become super efficient at it. He memorizes his verses for school, and home with ease, especially if it's just 1 verse. He can whip through single verses and retain them without a problem. I'm having trouble figuring out what he should memorize next.
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Colossians 4:2 Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

#2 - Time and Again

Our church, Alameda Bible Church, has supported missionaries Richard and Betty Elkins for some 40+ years. Betty passed away in 2008 and Dick remarried in 2010 to Agnes. He is retired from the field, but our church supports missionaries for life, even through retirement which I think is a pretty amazing commitment. In any case, Dick and Agnes wrote a book about his time in the Philippines.They were Wycliffe Bible translators to the Manobos. I love reading about missionaries because it is so inspiring to read of their dedication to the Lord, their sacrifice, the power of prayer, the power of God's Word, the miraculous ways God saves souls and protects missionaries. The Elkins are no exception as this book was filled with fabulous stories including all of the above and more. It was doubly inspiring because so many people at Alameda know them personally and attested to the integrity and character of the Elkins.

I only have 1 complaint about the book. It was too short! It started out with great detail about the early years of preparation to go to the Philippines and the initial few years there. But then it zoomed through the second half of their ministry. I wanted to read more.

Nonetheless, it was a great read. I especially appreciated the emphasis on the sovereignty and grace of God throughout the book. God was truly the main character in this story, as He is in all of life. I highly recommend it.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Happy Birthday Matt!

The 17th is Matt's birthday. He turns 7.We celebrated it today and invited his friend Iain over. The funny thing is Iain's birthday is also the 17th. They are the only 2 boys in their class, and they have the same birthday though Iain is 1 year older than Matt.They did what boys love to do - play Star Wars. What did boys do before 1977 when Star Wars was released?

As I have mentioned before, I am very proud of Matt. He's had a great year - growing in wisdom and knowledge and the fear of the Lord. Yet he's still such a little boy and so sweet. I love you Matt.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Hebrews 13:5-6

In light of all the Christmas gifts and massive amounts of stuff that the boys and girl have in general. I thought Hebrews 13:5-6 is an appropriate passage for them to remember.
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I don't know why, but Emery's face looks HUGE in this video, doesn't it?
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Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday Night Fever

Since it's the Friday, I thought I would inspire you all to enjoy your weekend...
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Mom is off to a ladies retreat today so it's time to paaaar-taaaay in the Lee household.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

#1 - The Sum of All Fears

I decided to start the year off on the lighter side by reading The Sum of All Fears by Tom Clancy. It is eerily prescient in that it predicts a terrorist strike on US soil before 9-11. However, the strike is a nuclear bomb.I never watched the movie so I have no idea if the movie is any good. And this is the first Tom Clancy book I have ever read. Obviously, he's very popular, making the NY Times Bestseller list for this book and many others.

But this book and his style isn't for me. You know you're in trouble when you've read 200 pages (of the 900) and you're still not sure who is who. There must have been over 50 characters in the book. I guess it would have helped to have read one of his earlier books first, but I had no idea what was really going on for the first 300 pages.

And then this book was very technical. You could learn a lot about politics, the Presidency, nuclear physics and the department of defense in great detail just by reading this book. It took far more concentration then I wanted to give a fiction fun read.

But one thing was very interesting, the main character of the book, Jack Ryan talked at length about the ability to critically evaluate something. To be able to present a view impartially and acknowledge all of the weaknesses and faults of that view. Not to assume anything but to persistently attack it from all angles in order to truly evaluate its strength. Not only was this a wise skill to develop for the CIA but also to apply to church ministry, who knew the church and the CIA had so much in common?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Spelling bee

Our school, Victory Christian School, had a spelling bee yesterday. Andrew had participated in previous bees at his old school, but this was Matt's first time.Andrew got 3rd place for his grade. He did well despite the fact that spelling is not his strength.
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Matt surprised us with a 2nd place finish. He actually moves on to the next round. But don't get too impressed, he was 2nd out of 4. He took the bee pretty seriously. When he brought home the spelling bee list, he practiced by himself with this very unusual technique - he would say a word and spin around the table spelling it. He did this for dozens of words.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

14 years

Today is our 14th wedding anniversary. It feels like it was yesterday, but at the same time, I can't really remember life without my wonderful wife, nor can I picture a life without her. I hope I don't ever have to.It's amazing to me that as beautiful as she looked on our wedding day, I can still picture her walking down the aisle, she is even more beautiful now. I'm not sure how that happened. God has blessed me tremendously through her.She has given me 3 beautiful children and lovingly followed me as I have led her across the country, then back across the country, then half way across the country and now a quarter of the way back across the country. God only knows where we'll end up next. I must admit, I am not an easy man to live with. But she has been my faithful, respectful, industrious and fun helper. She is truly my best friend. I thank God every day that I am married to her. I love you honey.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Kids verses 2011

The boys and girl had another banner year for verses memorized. Our resident expert memorizer added 13 more passages, 1 of which was 10 verses long. Andrew is getting even better at something he is already quite good at. Here are his 2011 verses:
  • Ephesians 4:1-2
  • Ephesians 4:30-32
  • Mark 10:43-45
  • Philippians 4:6-8
  • Psalm 119:9-11
  • Romans 12:1-2
  • Romans 10:9-10
  • Romans 8:28
  • Romans 8:1
  • Galatians 2:20
  • 2 Corinthians 5:21
  • Proverbs 18:13
  • Ephesians 2:1-10
Matt and Emz did well too. Although they are not quite on the level of Andrew, they started memorizing earlier in life. With Matt just about reading, he'll be able to start learning how to read and review verses on his own soon. I can't wait for that! They added 8 passages. Here are their verses for 2011:
  • Proverbs 26:11
  • Colossians 3:9
  • Psalm 23
  • 1 John 4:20-21
  • Romans 5:8
  • Romans 6:23
  • Romans 3:23
  • Proverbs 14:16
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To start 2012 right, here's Proverbs 18:2. We're trying to instill the discipline of listening to and understanding others before speaking.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Lee Family Retreat 2012

As we like to do, Sandy and I go away for a night and look back on the amazing things God has done. It such a wonderful time to reflect, discuss and plan. I have been doing this for the last 14 years. It is so easy to forget what God has done in the past year (at least for me), and this helps me give more praise and glory to God for the good things He has done.

It is also a great time to encourage my wife with the great things God is doing in her and to be encouraged. I am so blessed to have such a wonderful wife. In thinking back over the past years, God has really transformed me into a different man. Our marriage has been transformed too. Praise God!

Here's a quick recap of 4 of my 2011 goals:

1. Read through the Bible twice
  • This was one of my most ambitious goals ever. I honestly didn't think I could do it. But somehow I did, by God's grace. It really strengthened my reading muscles. Now, reading 4-5 chapters is easy. It's still a stretch to read the 7-8 that the plan required, but it was beneficial to always been in the Word so much. I definitely didn't have time to study and meditate much on what I read. But the overview and quick pace, kept reminding me of Scriptures on a regular basis. For 2012, I have reduced my plan to read through the OT once, and Proverbs, Psalms and the NT twice.

2. Memorize Titus

  • This was a pretty fun goal. After memorizing lots of different passages over the years, it was cool to get back to memorizing Scripture in its full context. It is also proving very helpful as I am preaching through Titus right now. I also memorized Colossians 3:1-4, Psalm 31:23-24 and Romans 12:1-2. I think I will try to memorize books before I preach them. I am thinking of preaching through Philippians next so I am working on Philippians 1 and 2. They are pretty long chapters - 60 verses total - though the verses are often short.

3. Run the KC Marathon in under 4 hours

  • This is the one goal that I didn't complete or even come close to finishing. After my too close encounter of nearly going into heat stroke, I stopped training at 13 miles. But with the move to ABQ, I wasn't going to be running in a marathon anyway. So this year, considering the high altitude and my current cardiac condition, I am going to go for a smaller goal of running the Duke City Half Marathon in Oct, here in ABQ.

4. Read 24 books

  • I did make my goal and read 25 books this year. Reading books help me to think better. They help me to think about truths of God. They help me to unwind. They inspire me. They give me new ideas to try out different things. However this year, since I am reading so much to prepare to preach and teach, I'm coming home and not feeling strong enough of mind to read anything difficult. So I am going to focus on biographies this year and some fiction and history. I'm also reducing my goal to 20 books. For posterity, below is what I read in 2011:
#25 - The Afghan Campaign by Steven Pressfield
#24 - Putting Your Past in Its Place by Stephen Viars
#23 - The Discipline of Grace by Jerry Bridges
#22 - Crazy Love by Francis Chan
#21 - Get Outta My Face! by Rick Horne
#20 - Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell
#19 - Good to Great by Jim Collins
#18 - Deception by Randy Alcorn
#17 - Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
#16 - Manhunt: The 12 Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer by James Swanson
#15 - Preachers & Preaching by D. Martyn Lloyd Jones
#14 - Decision Making and the Will of God by Garry Friesen
#13 - The Tender Heart by Richard Sibbes
#12 - The Masculine Mandate by Richard Phillips
#11 - Gospel Worship by Jeremiah Burroughs
#10 - The Power of the Cross of Christ by C.H. Spurgeon
#9 - 50 People Every Christian Should Know by Warren Wiersbe
#8 - Surprised by Grace by Tullian Tchvidjian
#7 - First, Break All the Rules by Marcus Buckingham
#6 - Thoughts for Young Men by J.C. Ryle
#5 - Living the Cross Centered Life by C.J. Mahaney (re-read)
#4 - Ministering Cross-Culturally by Lingenfelter & Mayers
#3 - The Second World War by John Keegan
#2 - You Never Stop Being a Parent by Jim Newheiser & Elyse Fitzpatrick
#1 - The Peacemaker (re-read) by Ken Sande

Friday, January 6, 2012

Seh-beh

New Year's Day is a big holiday for Koreans. Most families have a big gathering and eat rice cake soup. Most of these family gatherings for me always seemed to end up with the adults talking in Korean and the kid cousins hanging out in another room.

One of the big events was seh-beh where the kids bow to the grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. I always looked forward to this as a kid because after you bow, the adults give you money. It's been fun watching my own kids bow to my parents and my in-laws and other relatives and participate in a tradition that I did and many generations did before me.
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This year the boys and girl got to participate in seh-beh with both my family and Sandy's. The girls are supposed to bow a certain way which is different than the boys. They are saying a phrase in Korean which means "May you receive many blessings in the New Year."

Thursday, January 5, 2012

CA

We all had a great time in CA. My mom gave Matt some tips on drawing. He was quite into it. Matt has a lot of diverse interests right now. He likes being wild and playing all sorts of pretend battles. He likes sports. But he also likes being quiet and drawing or coloring.Emery got a little bottle cap craft kit. She had a ton of fun with that. She also got a new princess suitcase which she has been wanting for awhile. She was taking it with her everywhere. The boys and girl got a lot of presents this Christmas. Every year I am torn about this. This year, they got to see a lot of relatives and so got a lot of gifts from them. It's hard to say "No" to the grandparents and relatives who want to bless our children, but it really does dilute the meaning of Christmas and Christ's sacrifice for us, you know? The dilemmas of fatherhood.There was lots of eating and lots of tv. Sometimes, they were at the same time.
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There was also lots of time outside enjoying the fabulous weather. It was quite warm even for CA standards with temps around 80 lots of days. The boys played lots of games including the classic tennisball. Hasn't everyone tried to baseball with a tennis racket at least once?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Happy New Year!

I know, I'm late. It's been a hectic but very fun week in CA. We got to see a ton of our extended family, some of whom we have not seen in about 4 years. We have entered that stage in life where a lot of our cousins have kids. Some of those kids are brand new to us, others have gone to HS or even college unbeknownst to us. Where have we been?First we saw some of my side of the family. My family is a little spread out all over the world and have never had regular gatherings. So this is just a few of the cousins.In contrast, Sandy's side of the family gets together every year. We are missing a couple, but it was a full house nonetheless. The boys and girl really love getting together with their cousins even if it's just once a year. On the drive home, I asked the boys and girl what the best part of our trip was. I expected them to say the presents or time with their grandparents. Actually, one of them did say presents, but Andrew said, "Family reunions!" Who knew?