Thursday, July 31, 2008

Rise in the Darkness

Good music, good for your soul. I'm enjoying some great passages of Scripture, old hymns, and original songs set to a mix of meditative and stirring acoustics. My favorite so far is the great job he does with "Not What My Hands Have Done". We met the artist when he passed through ABQ a couple of summers ago and it looks like he's coming back to NM pretty soon.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A good tool for family worship

I've been impressed with this book as we've used it during family worship. It's an easy way to explain the answers to the Westminster Shorter Catechism and to read through the supporting Scriptures, too.

By the way, the author lives in this area (Mesa, Arizona) and, if she's able to come, would make a great speaker for a woman's retreat.

Monday, July 28, 2008


The kids have taken to calling Zeke by the nickname, Bud-bud. You needed to know that to understand the Line of the Day, which was from Isaiah's lips.

"Hey Mom! Bud-bud has strong toes. When I ran over them with the scooter he didn't cry."

Also, today I'm kicking off another series titled "Mess of the Day" and there are two for the day both involving Bud-bud. The first was discovered when Kristin found Zeke perched on the dining room table happily shredding paper napkins. The second occured when Zeke cluster-bombed the kitchen floor by emptying the whole containter of Beta fish food that he lifted unknowningly from the girls' room.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

American Generalship: Character is everything

I read this as part of Air War College, one of the Air Force's military education programs. It's an easy read, although lengthy, because the author had such personal access to some of the greatest American generals: George Marshall, Dwight Eisenhower, George Patton, and down to the '90s with Colin Powell and Schwarzkopf. In fact, in over 35 years he has interviewed more than a thousand officers of flag rank, over 100 of those being 4-star generals.

This book is about effective leadership and leader development, but the reason I'm blogging about it here, is because it has value for more than just military leadership. I want my children, and especially my sons, to have rock-solid character, but that can be difficult to define. That's where I found this description of Gen Marshall helpful and can use it as a prayer for my children as they mature:

"his unshakable integrity; his consistent courtesy and gentlemanliness of conduct; his ironclad sense of duty; his imperturbability--the imperturbability of a good conscience--in the face of harassment, pressures, and criticisms; his deliberateness and conscientiousness of decision; his serene readiness--once a decision has been made--to abide by its consequences, whatever they might be; his lack of petty vanity or ambition; his indifference to the whims and moods of public opinion, particularly as manifested in the mass media; and his impeccable fairness and avoidance of favoritism in the treatment of subordinates."

This is certainly an illustration of good character and I pray that my household will be known for it.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

What is a Healthy Church Member?

Many, and perhaps even the majority of Christians, have a fear of commitment to the church. Two reasons in particular concern me the most. First, some of the most popular churches I know do not practice membership and second, a large number of Christians have an unhealthy desire for independence or autonomy in their personal life. In both cases, many Christians do not practice biblical membership simply because they've never been taught how to or seen it lived out firsthand.

This short book (120 small pages) helps Christians understand what church membership is supposed to be and how God has designed it to help both the local church and you grow in maturity to Christ.

Here are the ten points Anyabwile focuses on:

A healthy church member is an expositional listener
A healthy church member is a biblical theologian
A healthy church member is gospel Saturated
A healthy church member is genuinely converted
A healthy church member is a biblical evangelist
A healthy church member is a committed member
A healthy church member seeks discipline
A healthy church member is a growing disciple
A healthy church member is a humble follower
A healthy church member is a prayer warrior

Each of these ten points receives a chapter-length treatment that concludes with good questions for reflection and application.

I wish I had read a book like this years ago; it may have prevented some painful mistakes I made in being part of a local church.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Staycation Day 5

The saga continues, yet at a slower pace. Our only destination was the new playplace, ABQ Jump. As the pictures below show, this is an indoor area stuffed with 7 gaint, inflatable, vinyl jumpy playsets. The kids enjoyed themselves immensely, until a troupe of teenagers invaded and ran rough-shod over the little children, which is when we left.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Staycation Day 4

Today we enjoyed the Rio Grande Zoo, the Wall-E movie, and our favorite ice cream place, I Scream Ice Cream. This little locally-owned shop has the best toys in town and diverse ice cream flavors, but you have to watch out for the celebrities.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Staycation Day 3

Day 3 began when I woke up, stepped into the hall, and found this...
As Isaiah tells the story he was on his way to the bathroom in the middle of the night but collapsed en route (a distance of 3 feet from his room) from "tiredness" and made the hallway carpet his bed for the remainder of the night. To me this is a sign that we're having a good vacation; if the 6 year old is worn out, things are going well.

Today took us to the Tram with grandma, a 4,000 feet climb up a suspended cable in 15 minutes.
The crest is a refreshing getaway from the city with its cooler, wet climate and lush forest greens.

IT'Z was the second stop of the day. For those lucky enough not to know what IT'Z is, it's a mega-sized Chuck-E-Cheese. It's easy to know what it sounds like inside an IT'Z; simply turn on every TV, stereo, and alarm clock in your home to different stations, crank them up full blast, and let them go while you try to communicate with others scattered throughout the house. Throw in an assortment of strobe lights and a couple thousand flashing lights to complete the effect.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Staycation Day 2

Today was spent at the Explora children's museum/science center, a picnic lunch, and ice skating.
They could have spent the whole morning building a better ball drop.
He built it.

We skate on the edge (of the wall). This is how we roll, er, skate.

Staycation Day 1

We're on our version of a vacation, one where we stay put in Albuquerque and see the local sights. Dubbed "Staycation", it saves on gas and lodging, and still provides a good time with the comforts of home. For day 1 we went to the city Aquarium and Botanic Gardens. The children never tire of the Alice and Wonderland effect of the magic garden with its larger-than-life vegetables, caves, and maze.

In other news, the older children were able to save up $200 between the three of them and thus fulfill a deal we made with them to purchase a Wii. Surprisingly, Grace has found her athletic niche and so far is undefeatable at any Wii sport. The most humbling defeat for me was boxing; my Mii character was decked four times in three rounds by her little girl Mii before finally being KO'ed. Kristin had a good laugh at my desperate lunging punches and Grace's rabbit-like speed punching.

Friday, July 18, 2008

The opposite of a guardian angel

With Shadow around, you have to stay alert. Glory (our dog) wasn't checking six and got jumped. The same thing happens to us way too often when we enter a room or just turn a corner.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Children unplugged

Take away the DVD players and the X-boxes from a neighborhood full of children and what happens? Games of freeze tag, backyard baseball, and touch football break out. The sound of children's laughter is heard all over the block. Parents get to know each other, share stories, and swap memories.

Just behind our house is the Temporary Lodging Facility (TLF); the place where families stay when their household goods (including collections of videos and video games) have been packed up and are in transit to or from Albuquerque. Summer is the moving season, and the TLF stays busy.

On these summer evenings the kids and I enjoy hopping the back fence and playing in the neighborhood games. Last night it was twilight baseball, the evening before it was dodgeball.

One of the parents who recently sold their house and is staying in the TLF for 3 weeks said, "I've never seen so many children! This is like another world from our neighborhood on Tramway; we never saw any children besides our own!"

After talking for a while he asked me some questions about adoption, which as usual, allowed me an opportunity to talk about Jesus and the family of God.

Community comes alive when children are unplugged.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Humility: True Greatness

Confessing my sins is no indication that I'm sufficiently convinced of their danger in my life. Rather, the fact that I haven't done something as simple as read a book about my most common sins is an indication that I'm not taking my walk with God seriously. So with this book I am beginning to fight back against a sin that has schooled me for years.

I enjoy the ministry of C.J. Mahaney, who is the author of this book and a conference speaker at great events like Together for the Gospel, Ligonier's National Conference, etc. Humility is short and easy to read. But it still packs a punch if pride is a sin in your life.

Tabletalk magazine gave it a glowing review; their only complaint was they wish it was longer.

Here are the points that I don't want to forget in my battle with pride:

  • Pride has one end: self-glorification; it desires to rob God of his due and in fact contends for supremacy with him. The proud person seeks to glorify himself and not God.
  • Pride is ranked by many as the most difficult sin to root out
  • True greatness as biblically defined is not self-glorification but serving others for the glory of God

As with all of C.J. Mahaney's efforts, Humility is focused on the Cross for putting the sin of pride to death and he makes sure to include many practical applications (ex: a list of daily suggestions to fight pride, how to have humility in parenting, in trials, in sports, etc).

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Crisis Pregnancy Chronicles

Kristin has recently switched from being a scheduler/secretary at our city's Crisis Pregnancy Center (CPC) to serving as a counselor. This is a high-stress job, but one that is of utmost importance when you consider what is at stake.

This week a teenage couple came in for an ultrasound and counseling, along with the girl's mother. When the young man found out his girlfriend was pregnant, he declared that he would not look or speak to her until she had an abortion. The mother was indecisive about what to do and put the decision squarely on her daughter's shoulders.

There's more to the story than I can share here but the couple stayed a lot longer than scheduled and it appears some progress was made. Kristin was able to pray with the young lady.

Meanwhile, the leading abortion-advocacy organization, NARAL, has apparently stepped up their efforts to shut-down CPCs, or at least dissuade as many pregnant women as possible from going there. This recent report describes CPCs as deceptive and misleading. NARAL continues to lobby Congress for legislation to severely limit the work of CPCs. The CPCs and those that volunteer there are worthy of your prayers.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

An Ordinary Pastor

The prolific biblical scholar and ubiquitous speaker, Don Carson, tells the story of his father, Tom Carson, through a collection of his father's private journal entries. Here we see the life of an "ordinary pastor"--one who does not rise above the local level, preach to thousands, or write books to millions.

This short and easy book convinces the reader that the work of an ordinary pastor, if he is faithful to his call, is not short and easy. Tom's love for the flock meant that he patiently endured hardship and poured himself out--well after "retirement age"--in life-long service to his Savior's bride. This is just what an ordinary pastor does.

Tom Carson was more aware of his faults than his strengths and he struggled with seasons of depression when he doubted his abilities and service. But he was a man who remained faithful and who served the Lord with all his heart.

I enjoyed reading this book from first to last. There is much we can learn from a faithful, but ordinary, pastor.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Loving adopted children

What a joy it has been to study the way God has saved us through adoption into his family (Gal 4:1-7, Rom 8:15-17). C.J. Mahaney was right in his recent message on adoption that meditating on this truth of Scripture will lead to assurance of God's love, peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Spirit, and I believe, increase of grace.

All Christians doubt, at times, whether it's possible that the Father really loves us as much as he loves his only begotten Son, Jesus. Could he love his adopted children as much as he does his only begotten Son?

My experience as a father of adopted and biological children is that there is no difference in the love I have for them. Whether through adoption or birth, they are all part of my family, and being in the family is what counts.

If you are in the family of God, you are loved as much as Jesus himself is loved by the Father. Believe it! Rejoice in it!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Googling got me

Here's a google search that took me by surprise tonight and moved me to tears (just a little, of course). Type in "Gotcha Day adoption" and click on images. ("Gotcha Day" is adoption lingo for "the day we got you.")

You'll see page after page of great photos of beaming parents and orphans finding homes. We love gotcha day stories! Here's a few great pictures.