Wednesday, January 30, 2013

#1 - American Sniper

My first book of 2013 was American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History by Chris Kyle. It's the story of a Navy seal who fought in Baghdad, Ramadi and Fallujah. If you like military history, you'll like this book.
Now I am very thankful for our military. They protect our country and our freedom from evil men and women.
  • Romans 13:3 For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; 4 for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.
And I fully support this man's service for our country and his work as a sniper. But the interesting thing about this book is that he claimed to be a Christian. He even called on Jesus as his Savior and knew the gospel in its essence. But the book, as most military autobiographies are, was filled with obvious, unrepentant sin - swearing, drinking, lying, fornication, etc. How can this man continually sin and sin and sin with no remorse even but instead almost a hubris and pride of his sin and still call himself a Christian?

Could he be a Christian who has simply not learned any of the Word of God and thus doesn't realize he is no longer a slave of sin and that the Holy Spirit of God lives in him? Or is he one who calls himself a Christian as those did in Matthew 7:22 but will tragically find out on the judgment day that he is not saved?

It's hard to tell because I just read a book and don't know the man personally. I have not talked to him at church or visited him in his home. I have not gone out to lunch with him to talk about his testimony. I have not had him and his family over to my house and talked about spiritual things. I have not taught him the Word, encouraged him in Christ, exhorted him to be holy or rebuked him for his sin.

This is one reason why the local church is so important. God gave us shepherds in the local church to care for our souls. I cannot care for this man's soul, but I am actively caring for the souls of the people at my church. I hope Chris Kyle is part of a church where shepherds do the same for him.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Quality time

A pastor's schedule is often a tricky thing. I have great flexibility during the day, Monday through Friday. It's very convenient that I can manage my own schedule and take care of things. This is great except for the fact that the boys and girl are in school during the day. The evenings are also tricky because they have schoolwork or extra curricular activities now, and I often have meetings.

Another challenge is my weekends are often very inflexible. Sunday used to be a relaxing and refreshing day often doing things with extended family when I was a part of the secular workforce. But now, Sundays are very busy and often very exhausting work days. Saturdays used to be family day trips or work days, now they are a mixed bag. I usually do my last preparation on Saturday evenings for my sermon the next day and the kids need a rest day after a busy week at school. We're still figuring out how to make it all work.

But I have made a concerted effort to maximize quality time with the boys and girl. Quality time requires quantity time. So this past weekend, we were silly together.
Matt and Emz love getting shaved. They usually don't need the full shave, but they were grizzly that morning. :)
We also pulled out a 1,000 piece puzzle. I like to relax and work on these every once in a while. They wanted to "help" me. It didn't turn out as relaxing with all that "help"! But it was fun to work on it together. If you're wondering where Andrew was, he was reading most of the day. I do get to spend quality time with him every week, taking him to basketball practices and games. He wasn't neglected!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Spelling Bee

Last week, the boys and girl participated in our school spelling bee. This was Emery's first time, and she had some stiff competition. But she came in first place! Matt improved from last year's second place finish to grab first place also! They both get to go to the district spelling bee in a couple of weeks. Andrew tried hard too, but he came in 4th place. Spelling's just not his thing.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Happy birthday Matt!

Yesterday was Matt's 8th birthday. We had a few friends over after school to celebrate today.
We decided to do cupcakes. I think it was just a ploy to get more food.
We played a mean game of Sorry.
We let Andrew have a friend over. They broke in his new game - Civilization IV. He was surprised at how thin Gandhi was.
And Emery got to have a friend over too. They did some beads. Otherwise it would have been too much boy in the house.
video
Matt got a Hexbug Spider. It was a hit. I promise I won't put it in our bed when Sandy is sleeping...I promise.
Happy birthday Matt!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The next Kobe

His team is the Lakers. His number is 25. He's the next Kobe. Andrew started another season of basketball and had his first game last night.
They do this fun thing with the player introductions in his league. They mentioned everyone's favorite food. Most of the kids said pizza and nachos. I'm pretty sure he was the only kid whose favorite food is California rolls.
video
Andrew had a great game. He scored 3 baskets, and I barely managed to get one of his on tape. Here's a nice little lay-up.
video
He also shot some free throws and made one.
video
All in all, Andrew had a great first game. He said he was so tired his feet hurt.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Jeopardy!

This past week, our friend Lee Ann was on Jeopardy. We've never known anyone personally who has been on Jeopardy before. So we hosted a party at our house.
There she is on tv.
There she is on our living room couch. She's a national celebrity! And she did a great job on the show. It was very impressive.
It was super fun to watch and we had over 40 people from church in our house. That was pretty cool too.
We even had an overflow room with plenty of space for another 40 people! Not quite, but we had more room. We're all ready for Lee Ann to be on tv again! Here's the link if you want to watch her on the show.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Winter wonderland

It's been a mild winter so far this year. That I like. But it's also been a snowless winter. We've only had one snow. The boys and girl have been sad about that. We had one little tiny snow a little while ago.
Emery tried to make the most of it, but there's not a lot you can do with 1/8 of an inch of snow.
I think Matt was throwing a snow ping pong ball. One of these days we've got to make it to the Sandia mountains where I hear there's lots of snow.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Lee Family Retreat 2013

As usual, Sandy and I went away for our annual Lee Family Retreat. It was a great time of spiritual refreshing, personal encouragement and worship of our magnificent God. After a turbulent couple of years, it was fabulous to look back on a fairly "normal" year. We had a wonderful time of remembering God's faithfulness to always be gracious to us and to lovingly transform us too in the past year.

On a personal level, this was the first year that I really got to see significant fruit of a decade plus of working toward my mission statement - To be a man of sound doctrine who studies, lives out and teaches the Word of God - as an elder and especially as the main teaching elder of our church. It was humbling and gratifying to see God prepare me for so long and now bring me to this place and to this role where most of my energies are spent fulfilling my personal mission. I still have a ton of ways for God to continue His gracious work of transforming my heart, knowledge and actions, but it's amazing to finally reach this place.

My personal goals have stayed pretty steady for a while - memorize, read the Bible, read other books and exercise. But this year, I have decided to drop the exercise goal. Hopefully, I will maintain physical discipline, but I have decided to take a year off and not try to run any kind of race.

Instead, I'd like to spend more of that time investing and enjoying the boys and girl. We realized that these years will soon pass and so we really want to maximize the few short years we have left at this stage.  Andrew has already showed signs of hitting those "pre-teen" years. Someone described this stage - post toddler to teen years as the golden years of parenting. We are understand and agree with this assessment!

Our family has always been a priority as we spend most nights having a family Bible time, Sandy and I pray weekly and date regularly, I have special daddy time with each child monthly or every other month and we have Friday fun nights together on top of the other spontaneous things we do for fun and spiritual development. But this year, I have decided to take things to another level with Andrew and start a formal discipleship time with him this summer.

I realized that I have spent much time discipling other men, surely I should do this with my own son.The young men to be that I want to have the most impact on, live in my house. So I plan on giving him a summer crash course in a basic understanding of the Bible and christian character. We'll see how it goes.

So some of my goals for 2013 include:
  1. Memorize Philippians 3 & 4
  2. Read through the Bible twice
  3. Read 24 books
  4. Disciple Andrew over the summer
For posterity, here is what we accomplished in 2012:
Andrew's 2012 verses:
  • Psalm 119:63
  • Proverbs 18:24
  • 1 Corinthians 15:33
  • Proverbs 13:20
  • Matthew 6:33
  • Psalm 103:8-14
  • Psalm 27:4
  • Psalm 19:1, 14
  • Psalm 19:7-11
  • Joshua 1:6-9
  • Proverbs 22:9
  • Colossians 4:2
  • Proverbs 18:2
 Matt & Emery's 2012 verses:
  • 1 John 5:3
  • 1 Corinthians 10:24
  • Romans 12:10
  • Colossians 3:12-14
  • 1 Peter 3:8-9
  • 2 Corinthians 5:17
  • 1 John 1:9
  • Proverbs 10:23
  • 2 Peter 1:21
  • 2 Timothy 3:16
  • Hebrews 13:5-6
My goals for 2012:
  • Read through the Bible - Done!
  • Memorize Philippians 1 & 2 - Done!
  • Read 20 books - Done!
  • Run the Duke City Half Marathon in under 2 hours - Done!
 Books read for 2012:
  • #26 - All Things for Good by Thomas Watson
  • #25 - Marine Sniper by Charles Henderson
  • #24 - Once a Marine by Steere & Popaditch
  • #23 - A Personal Odyssey by Thomas Sowell
  • #22 - Dangerous Calling by Paul Tripp
  • #21 - Serving God on the Christian School Board by Roy Lowrie, Jr.
  • #20 - Rescuing Ambition by Dave Harvey
  • #19 - The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller
  • #18 - American Military History by Allison, Grey & Valentine
  • #17 - With the Old Breed by E.B. Sledge
  • #16 - The Art of War by Sun Tzu
  • #15 - The Heart of Anger by Lou Priolo
  • #14 - The Drift Into Deception by Agnes Lawless (Elkins)
  • #13 - Expository Listening by Ken Ramey
  • #12 - Protestant Biblical Interpretation by Bernard Ramm
  • #11 - The Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbes
  • #10 - Visit the Sick by Brian Croft
  • #9 - Built to Last by Collins & Porras
  • #8 - The Shepherd Leader by Timothy Witmer
  • #7 - Lady Jane Grey by Faith Cook
  • #6 - Memoir and Remains of the Rev. Robert McCheyne by McCheyne and Bonar
  • #5 - Applied Economics by Thomas Sowell
  • #4 - Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield
  • #3 - John MacArthur by Iain Murray
  • #2 - Time and Again by Richard and Agnes Elkins
  • #1 - The Sum of All Fears by Tom Clancy

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

#26 - All Things for Good

I sneaked one last book in before the end of 2012, number 26 - Thomas Watson's All Things for Good. I like to keep a steady diet of Puritan books throughout the year, and Watson is one of my favorites.
The book is really an explanation of one verse - Romans 8:28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Watson first explains how the best, the worst and everything else in between work for good to the godly. Then he spends time addressing the love of God. He ends by explaining both the call of God and the purposes of God.

Here are some gems:
  • God does not bring His people into troubles, and leave them there. He will stand by them; He will hold their heads and hearts when they are fainting...God will be the strength of our hearts; He will join forces with us. Either He will make His hand lighter, or our faith stronger.
  • Faith and fear go hand in hand. Faith keeps the heart cheerful, fear keeps the heart serious. Faith keeps the heart from sinking into despair, fear keeps it from floating into presumption.
  • Affliction teaches what sin is...A sick bed often teaches more than a sermon. We can best see the ugly visage of sin in the glass of affliction. Affliction teaches us to know ourselves. In prosperity we are for the most part strangers to ourselves. God makes us know affliction, that we may better know ourselves. We see that corruption in our hearts in the time of affliction, which we would not believe was there.
  • Desertion works for good, as it gives us sight of what Jesus Christ suffered for us...None can appreciate Christ's sufferings, none can be so fired with love to Christ, as those who have been humbled by desertion, and have been held over the flames of hell for a time.
  • Thus we see desertions work for good. The Lord brings us into the deep of desertion, that He may not bring us into the deep of damnation. He puts us into a seeming hell, that He may keep us from a real hell.
  • A believer carries his sins as a prisoner his shackles; oh, how does he long for the day of release! This sense of sin is good.
  • A child of God being conscious of sin, takes the candle and latern of the Word, and searches into his heart. He desires to know the worst of himself; as a man who is diseased in body desires to know the worst of his disease...It is good to know our sins, that we may not flatter ourselvesm or take our condition to be better than it is. It is good to find out our sins, lest they find us out.
  • When God lays men upn their backs, then they look up to heaven.
  • Discontent is an ungrateful sin, because we have more mercies than afflictions; and it is an irrational sin, because afflictions work for good.
  • By this let us test our love to God. Have we the spirit of martyrdom? Many say they love God, but how does it appear? They will not forego the least comfort, or undergo the least cross for His sake. If Jesus Christ should have said to us, "I love you well, you are dear to me, but I cannot suffer, I cannot lay down my life for you," we should have questioned His love very much; and may not Christ suspect us, when we pretend to love Him, and yet will endure nothing for Him?
  • Be much in prayer, meditation, and holy conference. When the fire is going out you throw on fuel; so when the flame of your love is going, you make use of ordinances and gospel promises, as fuel to keep the fire of your love burning.