Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Proverbs 10:23

Matt can be a little bit of a smart aleck. Sometimes it's cute. Sometimes it's not. Sometimes it's way too close to being a mouthy teenager.
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So to prevent him from going down that path, Lord willing, I found a great proverb to help him discern when he's going too far with his jokes. Proverbs 10:23 - Doing wrong is like a joke to a fool but wisdom is pleasure to a man of understanding.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

#7 - Lady Jane Grey

I was looking around for biography to read and found Lady Jane Grey: Nine Day Queen of England by Faith Cook in one of book boxes (still haven't unpacked all my books yet!). I got it free at a conference a while back.It is the story of Jane Grey who was crowned queen of England for a grand total of 9 days. Unfortunately, she was caught in the aftermath that was Henry VIII's life. She was collateral damage in the middle of political power struggles and religious power struggles. It was a very sad story.

After Henry VIII's son, Edward VI, died unexpectedly, Jane was basically forced against her will to be queen at the age of 15 so that the Duke of Northumberland could be the de facto ruler of England. Unfortunately, the rest of the nation saw Mary I, the eldest daughter of Henry VIII, as the rightful heir and proclaimed her Queen after just 9 days. Mary was known as bloody Mary for her systematic destruction of protestants in her attempt to return England to submit to the Pope's rule. Eventually, Jane was beheaded by Mary for her "attempt" to steal the crown that was rightfully Mary's.

What was fascinating was understanding more of the back story to this biography which was the English wing of the Reformation. I was also very impressed by Jane's true faith in Christ in the face of death. Though many switched sides from Protestant to Catholic depending on the winds of power, Jane stayed true to her Savior and Lord even unto death. She had very impressive thoughts and words for a girl who was martyred at 16.

There were many martyred saints mentioned in the book including the good pastors - Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley. As they were led to the stake to be burned in 1555 for their faith in Christ alone by grace alone apart from the Mass, Latimer said, "Be of good comfort Master Ridley, and play the man; for we shall this day light such a candle by God's grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out."

It was a tragic time in history. But one that saw the power of the Word of God work in mighty ways as the Bible was translated to the language of the common tongue and got into the hands of everyday people. Many saints truly suffered and died for their commitment to the Bible and to the true Gospel. I often wonder how I would have responded if faced with death or the death of my family for my faith. Sobering indeed.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Spring is here!

It's amazing. Here we are at the end of February and spring has arrived. Temperatures have been in the high 50's and even the 60's the last few days. Spring has sprung. How do I know?The dirt has turned green! Ha! Everyone warned me to get used to brown here in ABQ. But lo and behold, we do have green in ABQ. The weed. Not the hundreds and hundreds and thousands of weeds I had in KS. Just 1 weed.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Polar bear cannonball

Sandy went to a women's conference today. The speaker was a woman from Peacemaker Ministries, and it was really good. So while she was away, I decided to take the kids out to the zoo.It was a beautiful day to be out. 60+ degrees and sunny. Just another typical February day here in ABQ!The zoo had lots of toddler animals which was really cute. They were all born last spring apparently.
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We got to the polar bears in time to see them pacing frantically. Do you know why? I apologize for the poor amateur video by the way. I was holding up Emery with one arm so she could see and trying to film with the other. I didn't realize the camera was focusing in on the wonderful chain link fence.
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It was feeding time! It was cool because the zoo worker was throwing fish all around their habitat. So the bears were jumping all over the place to get the fish, cannonball!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Matt and Emz have lots of laughs together.We do our best to help them be best friends and not fight. I hope they grow up and have fond memories of their childhood together.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Girls

It is a lot of fun watching Emery becoming more of a big girl every day. She asked Sandy to make her hair curly so she did her hair the other night.Even though she has 2 older brothers, Emery is not much of a tom-boy. But she does have a lot of pizzazz.And the next morning, voila! My little girl with curls.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Working out

I have always loved the self-discipline of working out. I used to have some muscle tone and strength, back when I was single. But now, I am just trying to stay healthy long term.
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Whenever the little ones see me working out, they usually try and join me. Is it me or is it the cutest thing to watch little ones work out? The army would definitely not approve of their push-up form but even a drill sergeant would have to smile.
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Emery is such a crack-up!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

2 Peter 1:21 for Matt

Matt finally caught up with Emz on their memory verse.
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Slow and steady is Matt though. Even though it takes him a little while longer to memorize, he usually retains it a lot better.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Pit!

Thanks to the generosity of some friends - thanks Robert! - Andrew and I got treated to an intense game at the Pit!It was a very nice stadium and very easy to get to.I understand why they call it the Pit. Every seat looked down to the court at a pretty steep angle. It seemed like a pretty intimidating place for a visiting team to play. It's pretty ironic too that the Pit is at an elevation of 5,213. I loved the psychological mind games they played as the opening theme emphasized that at this elevation visiting teams can experience dizziness, fatigue, an elevated pulse, etc.It was a fun game as the Lobos blew away the #11 ranked UNLV Running Rebs. And we got free Lobos sticks too! Everybody wins.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Look out!

She looks worse in this picture than she really is. And it sounds worse than it is too. But Emery got whacked in the eye with a tennis racket.How did that happen you ask? Well, of course, she was playing tennis. Unfortunately for her, she didn't have a tennis court or a net or any other physical boundary to keep her from being right next to the person she was playing tennis with. And if you guessed Andrew or Matt whacked her in the eye, you would surprisingly have guessed wrong. It was actually a friend from school.

I think I might have to give Emery an eye patch or something. Her left eye is a magnet for hard objects. Just last year, she cracked the skin right above it open. Click here to relive that story. Poor Emz!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

#6 - Memoir and Remains of the Rev. Robert McCheyne by McCheyne and Bonar

After what felt like years but was probably more like a year, I finally finished Memoir and Remains of the Rev. Robert McCheyne by McCheyne and Andrew Bonar. McCheyne was a well esteemed Scottish pastor who died at the age of 29. As you can guess, this wasn't my favorite book of the year. I had heard that it was a great book along the lines of The Diary of David Brainerd which if you have not read, you must.And this is not to disparage Mr. McCheyne. From what little I could tell, he did seem to be a kindred spirit to David Brainerd. The introduction well states, "O if all the Pastors of our Church, or a large portion of them, were such as McCheyne, as dead to the world as he was; as full of sanctified unceasing ardour to do good to the souls of men; as watchful to instruct and edify the young and old; as much like Christ in all their habits and efforts - what a different aspect would our portion of the religious community wear? How much more elevate would be the eloquence of our pulpits!"

Thus, lies the problem. Instead of letting McCheyne speak for himself in all his ardour, zeal and passion for the Lord, Mr. Bonar spent more time describing the things McCheyne did and who he was didn't shine as bright as he could have.

Here are a few observations about McCheyne. First, he was a humble man who truly compared himself to the greatness of God.
  • Pray for me, that I may be holier and wise - less like myself, and more like my heavenly Master; that I may not regard my life, if so be I may finish my course with joy. This day eleven years ago, I lost my loved and loving brother, and began to seek a Brother who cannot die.
  • Deep penitence, not unmixed with tears. I never before saw myself so vile, so useless, so poor, and, above all, so ungrateful. May these tears be the pledges of my self-dedication.
  • But perhaps, my old sins are too fearful, and my unbelief too glaring. Nay; I come to Christ not although I am a sinner, but just because I am a sinner, even the chief.
  • O! For true, unfeigned humility! I know I have cause to be humble; and yet I do not know one half of that cause. I know I am proud; and yet I do not know the half of that pride.
  • I am persuaded that I ought to study more my own weakness. I ought to have a number of Scriptures ready to be meditated on, such as Romans 7, John 15, to convince me that I am a helpless worm.
  • Some tears; yet I fear some like the messenger, not the message; and I fear I am so vain as to love that love. Lord, let it not be so. Perish my honour, but let Thine be exalted forever.

Second, because of his accurate view of himself, McCheyne truly prized Christ.

  • Lord wean me from my sins, from my cares, and from this passing world. May Christ be all in all to me.
  • I must never think a sin too small to need immediate application to the blood of Christ. If I put away a good conscience, concerning faith I made shipwreck. I must never think my sins too great, too aggravated, too presumptuous - as when done on my knees, or in preaching, or by a dying bed, or during dangerous illness - to hinder me from fleeing to Christ.
  • If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million enemies. Yet the distance makes not difference; he is praying for us.
  • When I look into my wickedness, it looks like an abyss infinitely deep, and yet it seems to me that my conviction of sin is exceedingly small and faint. Why do you wish me to have such a discovery of my lost condition? I answer, that you may be broken off from all schemes of self-righteousness; that you may never look into your poor guilty soul to recommend you to God; and that you may joyfully accept of the Lord Jesus Christ who obeyed and died for sinners.
  • Let every new sight of your wicked heart, and every new wave of trouble, drive your soul to hide in him, the Rock of your Salvation. There is no true peace but in a present hold of the Lord our righteousness.

Third, he was a man of humble, integrity who sought personal holiness.

  • It was noticed long ago that men will give you leave to preach against their sins as much as you will, if so be you will but be friendly with them when you have done, and talk as they do, live as they live, and be indifferent with them in your conference. How much otherwise it was with Mr. McCheyne, all who knew him are witnesses!
  • Two things he seems never to have ceased from - the cultivation of personal holiness, and the most anxious efforts to save souls.
  • Satan often tempts me to go as near to temptation as possible, without committing the sin. This is fearful - tempting God and grieving the Holy Ghost. It is a deep-laid plot of Satan.

Lastly, he was a true shepherd who loved his flock.

  • His visits to friends were times when he sought to do good to their souls; and never was he satisfied unless he could guide the conversation to bear upon the things of eternity. When he could not do so, he generally remained silent.
  • All joys of this world are short and fading - they reach not beyond the dark boundary of the grave; but to rejoice over those whom the Lord has given me out of a perishing world - this is joy which God himself shares, and which reaches into the light of eternity. Ye are my joy and crown. In like manner, there is no sorrow like the sorrow of the pastor who has to weep over a backsliding people.

There were many good and deep thoughts in this book. But it was difficult to mine them. If you are looking for a challenge, this book has it for you.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Joshua 1:6-9

I told my small group today that memorizing verses is a skill you develop. It's a lot like working out. The longer you workout, the stronger you get. When you first start, you've got to go light and easy until you build strength and endurance. Andrew's been doing this for quite a while now and has gotten pretty strong.
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Sometimes you need to work out with the light weights - 1 verse at a time. Other times, you've got to do some power lifting - like today's passage - Joshua 1:6-9. Good job Andrew!

Monday, February 13, 2012

2 Peter 1:21

Man, this is the first night in the last 6 nights that we've all been home to have a regular family Bible time. I've squeezed in some memory verse practice and the occasional Bible reading at various times despite the busy week. It was nice to have a relaxing time singing praise, going over verses and reading the Bible together. We did Proverbs 14 tonight. I love having family Bible time.
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Emery got 2 Peter 1:21 done pretty fast.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Darts

One of our Christmas gifts this year was darts. They are plastic tipped darts that fit into holes in the dartboard. It's definitely not like the metal tipped darts that I had growing up. But then again, we also don't have a zillion holes around the dart board either. :)
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Matt has a little trouble getting the darts to stick but his form! How about that?!
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Andrew is a little more accurate, just a little.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Balloons!

I was drinking my tea this morning when I happened to glance out the window and notice a big hot air balloon about to land in our backyard!Actually, it wasn't quite in our backyard, but it was about 2 yards from our backyard.I'm wondering if this has something to do with Valentine's Day coming up next week. There are at least 20 balloons floating around near our house.I guess this is like a mini-balloon fiesta. For our non-ABQ friends, there's a big hot air balloon fiesta in October with hundreds of balloons. Can't wait to see it now!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Micah 6:8

The boys and girl have chapel at school every week. For today's chapel, Emery's kindergarten class did a little presentation and recited their verse - Micah 6:8.
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Those kids can really recite a verse, eh?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

#5 - Applied Economics by Thomas Sowell

How many pastors out there are reading books on economics? I must be one of the weirdest pastors out there. But if you give me a chance, it's really not as crazy as it sounds! I just finished Applied Economics: Thinking Beyond Stage One by Thomas Sowell. He's written several other books, one of which I also read - Basic Economics.
First off, you have to love a man who looks like this.Second, and more important than how he looks, he writes and explains things so well and so simply. I think everyone could read this book and say, "Wow! That makes a ton of sense!" The book explains "why and how things have happened the way that they have" in the areas of medical care, housing, discrimination and the economic development of nations.

The point of the book is to explain processes and results beyond the intended design (stage 1) and to consider the unintended consequences over time despite the good intentions of people in positions of power and decision making. For example, "Political thinking tends to conceive of policies, institutions, or programs in terms of their hoped-for results = 'drug prevention' programs, 'profit making' enterprises, 'public interest' law firms, 'gun control' laws, and so forth. But for purposes of economic analysis, what matters is not what goals are being sought but what incentives and constraints are being created in pursuit of those goals. ..it is an open question whether drug prevention programs actually prevent or reduce drug usage, whether public interest law firms actually benefit the public, or whether gun control laws actually control guns."

"No economist is likely to be surprised when rent control laws, for example, lead to housing shortages and fail to control rent, so that cities with such laws often end up with higher rents than cities without them. But such outcomes may be very surprising to people who think in terms of political rhetoric focussed on desirable goals." If you want to know why and how that happens, you have to read the book, but think San Francisco and Manhattan.

Sowell is so well read and so learned that he brings up example after example of economic policy implemented in different countries and different time periods to illustrate the consistency of these unintended consequences. So many of the programs politicians argue about have been attempted across the continents and over the millennia with identical and obvious results. We really should learn our history and good economic policy to save ourselves from repeating these less than ideal consequences.

If you haven't read Sowell, you must. Of course, first read your Bible, and then Sowell.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Mommy daughter time

Sandy took Emery out for some mommy daughter time over the weekend. Where do you think they went?To Home Depot of course! Now ordinarily, Sandy isn't really the Home Depot type. She would probably prefer to go shopping with Emery. But they had a Kids Workshop where you do a project together with your kid for free. The project this month was a jewelry box. Emery was dying to make one of those to keep all her jewelry in! That is, all her plastic necklaces and one metal one. I'm not sure where she got so many.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

2 Timothy 3:16

The 2 younger ones are starting to enter an exciting phase in their memorization. Instead of just memorizing practical verses that deal with anger and kindness and complaining. Now we are learning verses that deal with doctrine.
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Up first, biblical inspiration.
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It is something clearly assumed and believed in our household, but now we are starting to teach why.

Friday, February 3, 2012

The NM state spelling bee

Well, after 3 weeks of intense spelling bee prep (I was drilling Matt for hours every night! Just kidding, I'm not THAT much of a tiger dad), he finally had his spelling bee today. He got 2nd place at his school spelling bee which qualified him for the state spelling bee. He was competing against 19 other 1st graders from Christian schools across the state.In our practices, we managed to get through the first page of 100 words. He had those down good. Those were the easy words. Unfortunately, there were 3 more pages of something like 300 more words which were MUCH harder. It turns out it only took 2 rounds to get through that 1st page.Needless to say, Matt didn't last long. He got "moon" and "cage" right in the first 2 rounds. But in round 3, he spelled "count" as "cownt." But I don't blame him for losing, just look at those fierce, intimidating, ferocious, merciless 1st grade beasts. Who could stand a chance against them? On a separate note, after 3 months in ABQ, Matt's hives have almost disappeared. For the last 1-2 years, he has been having an allergic reaction (from what, nobody knows) where he breaks out in hives. We've been giving him Zyrtec every day during that time to keep it down. But thank God, we took him off the medicine, and he's only had hives 2 times since then. We've been praying for him every day since he started breaking out, and praise God He has answered our prayers in this way!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

ABQ Thoughts

We have now been in ABQ for 3 months! Wa-hoo! I definitely don't have a feel for the land just yet, but there's a lot to see.Here are some random thoughts about my first 3 months here.
  • I am very surprised at how comfortable life is here. Considering we have never lived in the SW and hardly even visited, considering ABQ is a very different place than anywhere else we've lived (and we've lived in quite a few places), considering we have not been part of a smaller church with such a long history, considering our kids have not all been in school at the same time, considering we knew no one coming in, things are very comfortable all around - home, church, city, school. God has given us an amazing comfort level here very quickly.
  • I really appreciate the weather. It is so steady. I love that all of January was basically 50 degrees give or take 5 degrees. We're in a cold spell right now, high 40's. We're headed for a heat wave next week, high 50's. It hardly changes. And it's always sunny. I guess some people like the variety, but I think the temperate climate is awesome.
  • I am very happy with how much my kids like their new school. At first, I have to admit, it was tough. I think moving to a new school and a new city with a new church was super tough on them. So they struggled. But by the grace of God, they love it now. And for such a small school, it has a lot of activities and opportunities for them. I am pleasantly surprised. Sandy and I were planning on homeschooling our kids for a lot longer, but God has shifted our plans, and I am glad He did.
  • I like ABQ. It is the perfect size city for me. It is big enough to have mostly everything we are interested in. Yet, it is so easy to get around. Every time we go somewhere, I usually think, "Wow. We got here a lot faster than I thought we would." It is fun to explore new foods and new places too. We really enjoy that. However, my one beef with ABQ right now is this - we can't find a good Chinese restaurant. What city doesn't have at least 1 good Chinese place?
  • Our church. After 3+ years, loving and serving our old church, I was a little hesitant in thinking about how this would work out at our new church. We really gave our hearts out to the people and built some fabulous friendships in Christ with our church family there. How could we just leave that and pick up from scratch at a new church? I compare this to having your 2nd child. Do you remember that? When we had Andrew and Sandy was pregnant with Matthew, I wondered, "How could we ever love another child as much as we love Andrew? Would we love Andrew less so that we could love Matt?" But as all of you parents with 2 or more children understand, God just gives you a heart to love more than you ever knew you could. It's the same way with our new church family at Alameda.
  • I am very thankful for our new church family. We have been so well received. So well cared for. So encouraged not just personally but by the faith in Christ of so many believers. I love visiting our senior saints and shut-ins. I get so encouraged hearing the stories of God working in so many different ways through the decades in their lives. I really am enjoying preaching more than I thought I ever would too. I am learning a lot and enjoying both the successes and the challenges. I have really appreciated joining the leadership team here too. They have a real steady and calming leadership style.

All in all, it's been a great 3 months. I am very excited that God brought us here. I never would have picked it or imagined it. But God's ways are truly so much higher than our ways in every way. I am curious what the future has in store. You know me, always planning and looking ahead.