Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Monday, January 30, 2012
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
Friday, January 27, 2012
Thursday, January 26, 2012
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
Monday, January 23, 2012
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
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
Thursday, January 19, 2012
Colossians 4:2 Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving.
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
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
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
Friday, January 13, 2012
Thursday, January 12, 2012
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
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
Monday, January 9, 2012
- 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
- 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
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
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:
#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
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.
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
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?