Monday, April 30, 2012

Our new house

Many of you know that we are in the process of purchasing a house in ABQ. If you thought, "Whoa, didn't you just sell your house in KS?!" You're right. We did. We closed the sale of that house last Friday. If you are curious as to how this happened, here's the timeline:
Wed (or so): We are supposedly going to close escrow on Friday. We were supposed to close the previous Monday. Then it got moved to the previous Friday. Then it was either Tue or Wed. At this point, it's scheduled to close in 2 days. I don't truly believe we will close, but maybe we will. But regardless, I've been looking around online tracking houses for about a month. I've noticed the good bargains sell in a week or 2. Then, I find this house.
Thu: I show Sandy and she loves it. Everything, except for the pink carpet that is. But we talk, should we put an offer on the house? We'll try a low offer and use the listing agent just to see how that works. We won't make this a big deal but just try and gain experience. We figured we'd try this approach in the fall or winter when the market slows down.
So we call the realtor and drive over there. It looks pretty nice so we give a verbal offer.
Fri: We figure this won't amount to much and go on with our lives. Only to find out that they are interested enough to want us to make a formal written offer so that they can counter offer. I figure that they will counter and we'll say no, can do. That was fun and good experience, moving on.
As we are working on the paperwork to submit the offer (always so much paperwork!) which takes a while, we find out that someone else is going to submit an offer too. Good. Now we're definitely not going to get the house. That was fun and good experience, moving on.
Sat: Sandy is getting worried at this point that we might actually get the house. I keep assuring her, don't worry, we're not going to get the house. They'll take the other offer. I helped officiate a funeral this morning, and we didn't think twice about the house...until we got home and found out that they pretty much accepted our offer as is. What?! No counter offer?! How could that be?! The offer was so low! We're not ready to move again! We just got settled into the parsonage!
But God had other plans for us. He wanted to give us a good deal in a move-in ready house in a nice neighborhood, real close to church. We're always getting better than we deserve. He is good, always. Chateau Lee will be open for guests this summer. Please come and stay awhile...

Sunday, April 29, 2012

A Lego Revelation


I've been preaching through the book of Revelation during our Sunday evening service. I just finished up Revelation 15-16 concerning the 7 Bowl judgments. Andrew and I decided to team up with some Lego creations to visualize part of Revelation 19.
The Beast is the one on the right in red and the False Prophet is the one in green on the left.
 Rev 19:19 "And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies assembled to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army." We didn't have a white horse, but we did the best we could.
Rev 19:20 "And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone."
Rev 19:21 "And the rest were killed with the sword which came from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse, and all the birds were filled with their flesh."

Friday, April 27, 2012

Wa-hoo!

Good things come in bunches apparently! Today, was a GREAT day. God's blessings are great every day in Christ, but some days feel better than others, you know? First of all, we closed escrow on our house in KS today. So we are free from that mortgage payment! I've never been so happy to NOT be a homeowner. God's timing is perfect, and I am so thankful that His timing made it happen today.

Second, the moths are just about all gone. As quickly as they came in, the super high winds yesterday seemed to blow them all away. Praise God those little critters are gone. I have a new appreciation for the 10 plagues. I can't imagine living in ancient times without sealed windows and doors. Those bugs would be covering the insides of your house or tent or whatever you might have slept in back then. Crazy.
Third, Matt pulled his 4th tooth out today! He was pretty happy that I didn't have to pull it out for him.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Aliens

Do you remember that movie from the 80's? Remember that scene at the end when the few people left alive were trying to barricade themselves in the compound while the Aliens were trying to get in and get them?

Hudson: [Knowing that the Aliens are close, Hicks and Vasquez are welding the door shut] Movement. Signal's clean. Range, 20 meters.
Ripley: They've found a way in, something we've missed.
Hicks: We didn't miss anything.
Hudson: 17 meters.
Ripley: [Checking the tracker] Something under the floor, not in the plans, I don't know.
Hudson: 15 meters.
Newt: Ripley.
Hicks: Definitely inside the barricades.
Newt: Let's go.
Hudson: 12 meters.
Ripley: That's right outside the door. Hicks, Vasquez get back.
Hudson: Man, this is a big signal.
Hicks: How are we doing Vasquez, talk to me?
Vasquez: Almost there.
[They welded the door shut, and stepped back away from the door]
Vasquez: They're right on us.
Hicks: [Waiting for the Aliens] Remember, short controlled bursts.
Hudson: 9 meters. 7. 6.
Ripley: That can't be; that's inside the room.
Hudson: It's reading right man, look!
Hicks: Then you're not reading *it* right.
Hudson: 5 meters, man. 4. What the? They're coming out of the walls!

Now I don't recommend this movie for children or for the squeamish, but it sure does capture the sentiment around here.
video
I'm not sure what Andrew is saying or why. But there were only 2 moths in that window yesterday. Now there are 10 or so just in the window. But it's worse. The moths are in the house now - 20 meters, 12 meters, 7, 6, 5 meters, 4. They're coming out of the walls! Actually I don't know what they're coming out of, but they are in the house. And momma don't like it, not one bit. She's sitting in the dark at this moment, hoping they don't come near her.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Mothra

Did you ever watch Godzilla movies on Sat afternoons? My favorite God-zira movie was the on with Mothra - the giant moth. I guess it only makes sense that you have a giant lizard fight a giant moth.
For some reason (someone from ABQ please fill me in), Mothra's babies are all over the city. They are all over my house, all in the bushes and trees, all over the highways, everywhere. San Juan Capistrano has beautiful swallows. We have moths...and cockroaches.
video

They get past the screens and into our windows. Thankfully, they are not getting into the house.
video
You can't really see the moths flying all over the place in this video, but there are hundreds, buzzing around like an infestation of gnats or locusts. There are so many they even attacked Emery.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Can you tell she's excited?

 Emery went out with mom for some special mommy time. Guess where they went? That's right, shopping. It was Emery's choice.
They hit a little antique mall and found some earrings for 50 cents!
Emery doesn't have pierced ears yet though. These are clip-ons. We told her that if she's obedient and trustworthy, we will let her get her ears pierced when she's 8.Guess what she asks us every other day? "Am I still on track to getting my ears pierced when I'm 8? Yes, good." Can you tell she's excited about earrings?!

Friday, April 20, 2012

1 Peter 3:8-9

Man, is it already Friday? This week went by fast. And in case you were wondering, our house did NOT close escrow today. It was supposed to close last Monday. But then it got pushed back to today. Now, it's sometime next week. I don't even get an actual date anymore. Don't ask. Thankfully, I can rest in the fact that God is in control and is using this to grow more patience in my life. I guess it's pretty obvious to Him that I don't have much and could use a lot more.
video
Here is Emery, helping to put life in perspective for me, and doing it in style.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Resurrection

A few weeks ago, Matt's class came over to our house for a "field trip." A field trip to the other side of the parking lot.They were taught about the resurrection of Christ.And made resurrection buns. I think it had marshmallow inside.Matt seemed to enjoy the field trip.Sandy also made some resurrection eggs with the boys and girl. I love that we celebrate the resurrection of Christ at Easter and that we can celebrate His resurrection every day because He IS risen, that is, He is still alive and will always be alive.

Monday, April 16, 2012

#11 - The Bruised Reed

Richard Sibbes, 1577-1635, is called the "heavenly Doctor Sibbes" on account of "both the matter and manner of his preaching. He was a Puritan pastor in England. I had heard that one of his most famous books, The Bruised Reed, was both encouraging and inspiring. I must say, it was.The book is an exposition of the passage from Isaiah 42 - "A bruised reed he shall not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench." Like most Puritan writings, it is organized but not in a contemporary fashion. So I will simply share some gems:
  • The bruised reed is a man that for the most part is in some misery, as those were that came to Christ for help, and by misery he is brought to see sin as the cause of it, for, whatever pretences sin makes, they come to an end when we are bruised and broken.
  • After conversion we need bruising so that reeds may know themselves to be reeds, and not oaks. Even reeds need bruising, by reason of the remainder of pride in our nature, and to let us see that we live by mercy.
  • It is no easy matter to bring a man from nature to grace, and from grace to glory, so unyielding and intractable are our hearts.
  • But if we have this for a foundation of truth, that there is more mercy in Christ than sin in us, there can be no danger in thorough dealing.
  • Therefore let us not take off ourselves too soon, nor pull off the plaster before the cure be wrought, but keep ourselves under this work till sin be the sourest, and Christ the sweetest, of all things.
  • Men, for the most part, are not lost enough in their own feeling for a Saviour. A holy despair in ourselves is the ground of true hope. In God the fatherless find mercy.
  • The church of Christ is a common hospital, wherein all are in some measure sick of some spiritual disease or other, so all have occasion to exercise the spirit of wisdom and meekness.
  • Suffering brings discouragement because of our impatience. 'Alas!, we lament, 'I shall never get through such a trial.' But if God brings us into the trial, he will be with us in the trial, and at length bring us out more refined. We shall lose nothing but dross.
  • Being able to 'do nothing against the truth, but for the truth' (2 Cor 13:8), the truth being dearer to us than our lives. Truth does not have this sovereignty in the heart of any carnal man.
  • We must carry this always in our minds, that that which is begun in self-confidence ends in shame.
  • Faith works best alone, when it has least outward support. Hence, it is that we often fail in lesser conflicts and stand firm in greater, because in the lesser we rest more in ourselves, in the greater we fly to the rock of our salvation which is higher than we (Psa 61:2)

This book was very readable, very short and very good for those who are struggling with discouragement or melancholy as I often do. I highly recommend it.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

More Wu-shu

Andrew went to Wu-shu lesson #3 today. It's at a perfect pace for us, twice a month. But Andrew is starting to get really into it.
video
He learned sparring combination #1 today.
video
And sparring combination #2.
video
Andrew was so pumped up about Wu-Shu that he came home and became sensei Andrew. How is that when he's only a white belt? Matt only wants to do Wu-Shu at home. We asked him if he wanted to take lessons along with Andrew, but he said he was too afraid. Apparently, Emery is too afraid to even do it at home.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Psalm 27:4

Andrew wanted me to put this clip up.
video
Fail! He also wanted me to write that. Here's his successful attempt at Psalm 27:4.
video

Thursday, April 12, 2012

#10 - Visit the Sick

Charles Spurgeon said, "I venture to say that the greatest earthly blessing that God can give to any of us is health, with the exception of sickness. Sickness has frequently been of more use to the saints of God than health has."You don't read too many books about sickness. But it happens to everyone and pretty frequently. I've never read a book on sickness but Visit the Sick by Brian Croft is a clear, straightforward and helpful book on this subject.

Croft begins by outlining the Scriptural principles regarding sickness, disease and suffering. He highlights 2 theological considerations behind these topics - God is sovereign over sickness and God calls His people to care for the needy and afflicted. Then, he outlines very specific pastoral and practical things to do when you visit the sick. My favorite was to make sure you have fresh breath.

This book had both depth and breadth, theology and practice, exhortation and encouragement - everything you'd want as a Christian to inspire you and help you visit the sick. I liked his emphasis that visiting the sick is not just for pastors, it's for Christians.

Sickness is not a misery but an opportunity to glorify God's character and His salvation.
  • In the midst of sickness or affliction that someone in our church may be experiencing, we have the glorious privilege of pointing to a greater, divine and more significant reality than that person's physical circumstances. We can point to sickness and affliction as results of the Fall and to our dying bodies as reminders of our birth in sin. We can remind others that sickness was a means for God to discipline his chosen people that caused them to long for a Redeemer. We can rejoice that the signs of God's kingdom coming were the healings and restorations by the authority of the Son of God - a foretaste of what we will experience in full when Jesus returns and resurrection becomes a reality.

At this point in my life, I feel comfortable going to hospitals and nursing homes and visiting those who are sick and/or elderly. But I remember years ago, having to go to a nursing home during seminary as part of one of our service days. I had no experience in that type of thing and cannot recall ever being taught anything about how to do it. I surely didn't have a book like this which would have been extremely helpful (and it's still helpful today). But I did have a friend who was an experienced, caring pastor who took the lead as we went from room to room. He was a great example who impacted me with his love for the sick that day. Thanks Ken.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Spring has sprung

And so have the lawn seeds.Little green hairs have sprouted. Reminds me of a chia pet, remember those? Unfortunately, for us, there are probably more dandelions in our lawn than grass seeds.Our tulips have bloomed. Sandy loves fresh cut flowers. She's always wanted a cutting garden. Maybe someday.I recently finished a 500 piece puzzle. Got it for a quarter, love that. 1 down, 3 to go.And Emery's being crazy again!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

#11 - Built to Last

I've been on a little bit of a reading tear and just finished up Built to Last by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras. I love to read books about leading and building exceptional organizations. There's a wealth of practical wisdom here.Collins and Porras examined 18 exceptional companies and compared them to one of their direct competitors. After 6 years of research, they determined that there were consistent differences between them to differentiate a truly great company from a good one. The main thesis of the book is that these superior companies focused more on creating a great organization or company rather than on any specific task, ie - making profit, creating a product, making a business plan, etc.

Specifically, these companies developed a core ideology - an inner culture, "the organization's essential and enduring tenets," their true character. This core ideology transcended even charismatic individual CEO's and leaders, their particular business model and their products. This was who they are as an organization that has lasted for some of these companies, over 100 years.

But as important as the core ideology is to these visionary companies, they are only part of the process. This core ideology never changes, but everything else can. That is the other side of the coin so to speak. These companies preserve the core ideology while stimulating progress in 5 specific ways - through big hairy audacious goals (BHAG's), cult-like cultures, try a lot of stuff and keep what works, home-grown management and good enough never is (a relentless drive to improve).

What astounded me was how biblical this process is. First off these visionary companies are what the church should be. The church should be the most impressive and amazing organization on earth. Second, the church has a core ideology that should never change - sound biblical theology found in the inerrant Word of God. This ideology should be preached consistently, taught effectively and implemented consistently in every area of the church as it is done in these companies. Third, and this is where so many churches have dropped the ball, the church should be stimulating progress in how we apply sound biblical theology. We should have BHAG's (after all, God has the most audacious power and ability to achieve amazing goals), Christians should have a fanatic commitment to the church as an organization and to one another, the church should be fearless in its ability to try any type of ministry that's consistent with sound biblical theology and keep what works, the church should be making the ultimate home grown management in faithful teachers and elders, and Christians should have a relentless pursuit of holiness and transformation above all others.

Collins made a very interesting observation that was part of his thesis. He called it the "Tyranny of the Or," that is embracing "the Genius of And." His point was that most companies and people make everything a binary decision. It is either this or that. You can make a profit or be altruistic to others. You can be values driven (driven by principles) or be pragmatic. But in reality, these companies figured out how to be both profitable AND altruistic, driven by values AND pragmatic. He writes this:
  • We're not talking about mere balance here. 'Balance' implies going to the midpoint, fifty-fifty, half and half. A visionary company doesn't seek balance between short-term and long-term, for example. It seeks to do very well in the short-term and long-term. A visionary company doesn't simply balance between idealism and profitability; it seeks to be highly idealistic and highly profitable. A visionary company doesn't simply balance between preserving a tightly held core ideology and stimulating vigorous change and movement; it does both to an extreme. [italics his]

I find this same dynamic in a church. Often times the choice is between being very biblical or being very practical; being very conservative or being open to new people. But the reality is, we should be both deeply biblical AND very practical; soundly theological AND very pragmatic; cherishing traditions AND welcoming new ideas and people. Not because this book proved it, but because THE Book advocates these ideas. Collins and Porras simply made great observations about these biblical principles in companies.

If you're into books on organizational leadership, this is a great one.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Election results

After 49 of 50 precincts reported, (don't ask me what happened to the last precinct) we have a new President, Vice-President and Senator of the Lee family.Just a quick word about the process so that there is no doubt about the validity of this election. We had very high tech, confidential ballots - 5 piles of 10, 1 pile for each person.The ballots were tallied and marked on a dry erase board in not permanent ink. And the results showed a clear mandate for our new President - Andrew. The Vice-President was a bit of a closer call with Matthew taking that by 2 votes, the margin of error was 1 so he squeaked by. And Emery won the office of Senator. Everyone got their dream job.
video
Andrew was compelled to give a victory speech to the masses.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Wu-shu

Andrew started Kung-Fu lessons recently, specifically it's Wu-Shu.He's been asking and praying for some type of martial arts lessons for months. So finally, we found a place that was very affordable and let him have at it.The first time he went, he used muscles he didn't know he had and was sore for several days afterwards. Who knew a 9 year-old could get sore? But I think he's getting the hang of it now.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Elections

In the spirit of the Presidential elections this year, our home is having elections too. The kids wanted to have home elections for some reason so we are in the campaign process.The person with the most votes gets to be President. Each person in the family has 10 votes and can vote for anyone with those 10 votes. Guess who wants to be El Presidente?The person with the 2nd most votes gets to be Vice-President. Matt wants that position. But do you know why? So that when the President dies, he'll be President. He apparently likes the indirect route.The 3rd place winner gets to be Senator. Emery wants that position. So far we've had some campaign interviews with the press, and we've been collecting signatures to get on the ballot. Everyone has qualified. I think my job is to count the votes and Sandy will announce the winners. We'll let you know when we vote and elect the offices.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Yuck!

Unfortunately, we've had something gross in our home.Sandy's expression just about captures what we all feel about it.Can you guess what these are for? You got it - cockroaches. For the first time in our lives, we've got some. We found 3 one morning, and we all panicked. The boys and girl are scared to death of those things. Sandy and I are disgusted. We had heard that this house had them previously and already had 12 traps out (the one on the left). But after finding those disgusting things, I went out and bought another 12.I read online that roaches can survive on crumbs. So we put the boys to work.We have 3 little crumb factories so you can imagine how effectively we are going to be able to keep our house spotless, but desperate times call for desperate measures!Guess who got ahold of the camera again!?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Surprise

This morning we were treated to a wonderful surprise.Big, fat snow flakes! It rained yesterday and last night for the first time since we've lived here. I don't count .00000001 inches of precipitation as rain by the way. I think we ended up with over an inch!It's been perfect weather for about the last 10 days and the forecast is perfect for the next 10 days - 70 and sunny. So one day of snow/rain is a refreshing change.

Monday, April 2, 2012

1st Quarter Update

Can you believe that we're already in April? Man, this year is going fast, again. Life truly is a vapor. As is my habit, I like to give a status update on my goals for the year. I didn't really outline my goals for 2012, but here is my recap for my goals for 2011.

For 2012, my goals are very similar. I have settled into a groove that works for me in a lot of ways. These aren't all of my goals as I have more personal goals, goals as a husband and goals as a father. But here are 4 that I like to track through the blog:

1. Read through the Bible
  • Technically, I'm reading through the NT, Psalms and Proverbs twice and the rest of the Bible once. I've finished Psalms and Proverbs and am in Hebrews right now. The Bible reading program is going well. I am reading at a much slower pace than last year (read through the Bible twice which was about 7 chapters a day), and I like it a lot. I'm able to read through the study notes and think more about what I am reading. I even re-read texts too. One thing I did this year in drawing up my reading plan was to divide reading sections into their more natural book divisions or thematic sections. This is helpful too.
2. Memorize Philippians 1 & 2
  • Philippians chapter 1 is 30 verses long. I am currently at v.24. It's good to be ahead of schedule. If I can keep up this pace, I may go for chapter 3 this year too.

3. Run the Duke City Half-Marathon in under 2 hours

  • This half-marathon is in ABQ on Oct 21 so I have some time. My main goal is to be able to run 4 miles at a 9 minute mile pace by July when my training really starts. Right now, I'm at about a 9:10 pace. Real close. I've also run 6 miles without a problem so I am in good shape right now. Ahead of schedule in this one too!

4. Read 20 books

  • So far I've finished 9 books this year. I am surprised at how many I've read. I guess I have adjusted to the studying load that was a tad overwhelming at the end of last year. I can't believe how far ahead of schedule I am on this one too.

Going into this year, I knew the transition to a new ministry and a new church would be difficult so I purposely cut back my goals. And I won't sugarcoat it, the transition has been hard in a few different ways. But God has been sovereignly using them for my holiness and for my good. He has been good. Surprisingly though, they haven't affected most of my personal goals so far.