Thursday, March 29, 2012

Mommy date

As much fun as it is to date my daughter, it is much more fun to date my wife.Since spring has sprung around here, we decided to enjoy another beautiful day (they are getting pretty regular now!) and hit the ABQ Botanical Park.It's so peaceful and tranquil at the Japanese garden.Isn't she beautiful? Oh, and the flowering trees were pretty cool too.We walked around planning and thinking about what trees and plants we should plant around our home...once we buy a house again, someday.Praise God He has given me such a wonderful wife. I truly am blessed that I get to rejoice in the wife of my youth.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

#8 - The Shepherd Leader

I recently preached a series on the qualifications and responsibilities of elders. One of the books I read to assist me in that endeavor was The Shepherd Leader by Timothy Witmer.
Witmer divides the book into 3 sections - 1. Biblical and historical foundations of elders / shepherds 2. The design of a biblical shepherding ministry 3. Some practical ramifications for implementing that ministry.

The first section established the biblical foundation of leaders as shepherds in the OT, the NT and church history. Witmer spends sufficient time establishing the biblical mandate for shepherding and explains how all elders are called to shepherd, not just the paid elders. He also spends a chapter re-establishing God's delegated authority of elders in a culture that resists all authority. This was a wisely placed chapter both for elders to take their responsibility up and for the sheep to submit to God's representatives.

The second section was the heart of the book. Witmer divided the ministry of shepherding into 4 parts - knowing, feeding, leading and protecting the sheep. But what was novel and interesting to me was his matrix for evaluating those 4 areas of shepherding. He explained each of those categories as falling into 2 subcategories - a micro and macro distinction.

For example, elders must know their sheep on a macro level. That is, they need to know who are the sheep that make up the flock. There needs to be a list that identifies who's a member and who's not. But the elders also are to know each individual sheep on a micro level. What are his/her strengths, weaknesses, testimony, spiritual gifts, temptations, etc. in order to better shepherd him/her. The ministry of shepherding is both public (macro) - in the church as part of a group - and private (micro) - in people's homes and personal. Elders must preach and teach publicly (macro) but must also be involved discipling and counseling individuals (micro) in order to feed the flock.

Lastly, Witmer concluded the book with practical suggestions for implementing a strategy for fulfilling these responsibilities. He suggests dividing the church into groups with 1-2 elders and 1-2 deacons working together to oversee their groups as part of the whole. I loved his proactive, systematic and strategic plan so that no one falls through the cracks. It is not the sheep's responsibility (though he does have responsibility) to pursue the shepherd for feeding, leading and protecting. But the shepherds are the ones who are to call, visit and build relationships with the sheep as part of their responsibility to God and to their sheep.

I highly recommend this book for all pastors / elders. If you are looking to establish a comprehensive strategy to shepherd your flock or to improve what you already have going, this is the book for you.

Monday, March 26, 2012

A daddy date first

I like to think that I have a very special relationship with Emery. Not only is she THE girl, but she's the youngest too. She gives me hugs every morning and every night, and throughout the day. She loves to cuddle with me and sit in my lap every chance she gets. Even though she's turning 6 in July, she still want to be picked up and held several times a day.
Her smile and laughter are constant and infectious. Although I do say "no" to her constant requests, I must admit, it is hard and I probably give in more than I should.
Last Saturday, I took her out to the mall for the first time ever on our special daddy time date. We went to do some shopping at the store Claire's since she loves dressing up. Most of her "jewelry" is made up of various plastic toys or hand me downs from mom. Emery had just earned a couple of bucks so I thought I'd see what we could get for $2-3.
Unfortunately, you can't get much these days for that! But we had a great time together. I take her out on these dates for three primary reasons. First, I want to spend time with her because I love my daughter. These days go by fast, and I want to enjoy having fun with her.
Second, I want to build the kind of relationship with her where we are always comfortable talking. That's what we will continue to do because that's what we've always done. When she becomes a teenager or a pre-teen or whatever else it may be called in years to come, we won't have to figure out how to connect because we will have always connected. I took some time on this date to talk about inward beauty. Since the mall and everyone around us was so focused on external beauty, I thought it was a good opportunity to begin setting a biblical foundation for caring more about how her heart looks to God than her fashion looks to men.
Third, I want to show her directly how a man should treat her. She sees my example of how I treat Sandy as my wife. But I also want her to experience how a man should respect her, care for her and talk to her like I do. I want to start preparing her now to know what kind of man she should be looking for when that day comes...hopefully many, many, many years from now. Did I mention it's going to be a while?
The mall is one of my least favorite places to go and shopping is one of my least favorite things to do. But my precious daughter is worth it. And to treat her and myself, we enjoyed a DQ Blizzard too. A dad can make the best of every situation!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

What a day!

Today was a FABULOUS day! 80 degrees, sunny, no wind. I must say, folks weren't kidding when they said the weather here in ABQ is nice. It's been nice for a while and the forecast is continued niceties.We broke out the patio furniture and set it up. I foresee many a lazy summer afternoon out here in the shade.We love to eat outside so we took advantage of the day to enjoy dinner out on the patio too.Emery watered our little snow peas that are coming up in our tiny garden. We're taking it easy this year. Just snow peas this spring.The boys and I played a little basketball. Don't worry I beat them...most of the time.When we weren't looking, guess who got ahold of the camera?

Friday, March 23, 2012

Psalm 19:1 and 19:14

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Keeping up with the memory verse theme, Andrew finished up selected verses from Psalm 19.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

2 Corinthians 5:17

The little ones keep plugging along with their verses.
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2 Corinthians 5:17 is a great one. I hope it's true for both of them.
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Matt put on his Awana Sparks vest today but took it off right before he said his verse. We've been so busy with school and church that I don't think they've missed Awana too badly. Since we keep memorizing at home and school, maybe they won't notice! :)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Be a missionary!

Our church had a missionary appointee who is heading to Scotland at our church today. He shared a lot about God's work in Scotland and his future plans in ministry there.The kids in our church prepared a little song for the event - Be a Missionary.
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Can you hear Emery? This is where her general volume comes in handy. At home, it's not her best attribute but singing at church, it's great! :)

Friday, March 16, 2012

Spring program

Andrew's school had their spring program for 4th-6th graders. Here he is relaxed, smiling and notice his tie - the length is ok, right? It's a little short, but it's in the ballpark of acceptable. This was before the program started.
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His class went on first. They recited a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Did you notice his tie? I don't think it shrunk. His torso is so long and his hips are so narrow that his pants slipped down.
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Then they played a couple of songs on the recorder. Andrew started off one handed. I asked him why? His response? The song starts off pretty easy so I didn't need to use 2 hands.
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After that, the combined grades performed a play about George Muller. Andrew was part of the choir. The whole night he never cracked a smile. He's usually pretty jovial even up on stage, but he got pretty nervous. After it was done, he said, "I was so nervous I was sweating! My back got all sticky." He and all the other kids did a great job.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Sprinklers

You know, it's the little things in life that mean a lot. Have you ever thanked God for sprinklers? Our last house did not have sprinklers. A couple of years ago, we put in a new lawn from seed. If you've ever done that, you know that you have to keep the lawn moist for the new seed to germinate. This requires a lot of moving the hose over hours every day IF you don't have sprinklers.Sandy put down some seed the other day to hopefully turn our little patch of dirt into some grass. And to our surprise, the yard has automatic sprinklers THAT WORK! Can you see it in the corner?
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Just so you get the full effect, I took a little video of it. You have to HEAR the sprinklers working to really appreciate it. Can you tell we LOVE the sprinklers? Such a beautiful hissing noise.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Happy birthday grandma and grandma!

Today is both my mom's birthday and Sandy's mom's birthday. So convenient. Thank you both for making life just a little bit more convenient!
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We wish you God's blessings today!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

We're almost there

About 6 months ago, we put our house on the market. I blogged about it here. We had quite a few showings even over the winter. With 3 different parties, we were told that our house was down to the final 2 or the final 3. But each time, they picked the other house. Always a bridesmaid!

At first, it didn't bother me much. I had targeted the spring market, specifically March, as our likely sell date. So if we sold it earlier, it would simply be a bonus. I had enough savings to be fine with that.

But have you ever carried something fairly light for a long period of time? Maybe it was a backpack or a small child. At first, it's no big deal. But as time wears on, the load feels heavier and heavier. As I saw my bank account get smaller and smaller, as I kept seeing housing prices drop lower and lower in my neighborhood, the load kept getting heavier and heavier.

Now I know that God owns all of my money. I know that God owns everything. He has given me my wealth and can take it away whenever He wants because it's really His money. I have taught a few times about what the Bible says about wealth in the past. Passages like the following are familiar to me.
  • Proverbs 22:2 The rich and the poor have a common bond, The LORD is the maker of them all.
  • Psalm 50:10 "For every beast of the forest is Mine, The cattle on a thousand hills."

Yet despite my knowledge, I realized something about my heart this week. I really didn't want to lose "my" money. And that was the key word - my. I felt like it was truly mine. So when it left me, it bothered me.

Jesus said in Matthew 6:24, "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth."

Through this process of selling our house, God has shown me in His kindness that there is a piece of my heart that loves wealth. This piece of my heart is not loving and worshiping and rejoicing in the greatness of God. This piece of my heart was enslaved to the sin of loving wealth. God showed me that I needed to repent of it so that I could completely trust in the goodness and sovereignty of God.

So regardless of what happens to our house, this process was well worth it. The testing and purifying of my faith is well worth it as it produces patient endurance in me. Endurance to hope in God, to trust in God and to worship God regardless of any circumstances. It just so happened that tonight, we agreed on a sale price with a buyer, the first person to bid on our house.

Now, escrow begins. We could close escrow and complete the sale of our house next month. Or we could fall out of escrow and continue to wait for God to provide the right buyer. Either way, God is sovereign and good. It is His money that I am temporarily managing for His glory. He gives and takes away as He sees fit.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Psalm 19:7-11

Psalm 19 is such a great psalm. God's glory sings from the skies and in the night. God's Word is so precious and effective. I was tempted to have Andrew memorize the whole thing.
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But I must admit, it's a tough one to memorize. He did a good job sorting through these 5 verses.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

1 John 1:9

Isn't this one of the greatest promises in Scripture?
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I can't be reminded of this enough. Praise God that He is always faithful to forgive when I confess my sins.
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Sunday, March 4, 2012

The humility of parenting

I think I am like most parents. I am pretty busy all week working so I try and make some time to have fun with the family on the weekend. We decided to go to Home Depot Saturday as they had a free project for kids - building race cars. The boys were excited about the race cars, and Emery got to build a heart basket with mom.What was intended to be a fun morning and a happy childhood memory turned into another opportunity for my sinful pride to rear its ugly head. Since Matt is younger, I was focusing my time on helping him with the instructions. The first step involved gluing the main parts of the body together first, then nailing them.As I was helping Matt, Andrew raced ahead. I checked on him, thinking he had carelessly glued the wrong parts together. In an ugly moment, I chewed him out for not paying attention to the instructions and for not being more careful. I thought of it as a teaching moment but really, it was a sermonizing monologue. He meekly took it and kept building the car.

A few minutes later, Andrew came back to me with a question about the car. It turned out that I was completely wrong. He had put it together exactly correct, and I am the one who made the mistake and carelessly glued the wrong sides together. What a moment.

As a parent, I think I know the answers for my children. As a pastor, I think I know true biblical parenting. But no matter what I think I know, my implementation is so wickedly sinful, it's embarrassing. I had no recourse but to completely apologize and ask for my son's forgiveness. Thankfully, he is gracious to me and has been every time I have needed to apologize to him. And even more thankfully, God is gracious too.

Though I am older and though I know more about the Bible than my children, I am just as sinful as they are. Maybe worse, because I know so much more and am held accountable to that. I was painfully reminded of the truth that I am just one sinner seeking to train and teach another sinner. Thank God that His glorious Gospel is alive and well and effective in my life daily.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Giggly

Emery has been awfully giggly lately.She just keeps cracking up at everything.
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I'm glad God has blessed us with happy children.