Monday, December 28, 2009

Gingerbread men

Katie loves to bake gingerbread men around Christmas-time, so I decided to capture the event with a few pictures!  Normally I post pictures on my photo blog, but for the few who do not visit it, I thought I'd share these with you.  :)


















 


 
cookies and icing

 


My youngest brother's decorating; isn't it cute?



Saturday, December 26, 2009

Creation Museum

The Creation Museum is outstanding. (And if you want to visit there as a personal suggestion you should go in the spring or fall because of the gorgeous outdoor grounds and incredible places to take pictures…from a photographer’s perspective. :P) They have done a wonderful job at expressing the crucial importance of the sufficiency of Scripture. Using powerful aesthetics, animatronics, films, and contrasts in light, the Creation Museum revealed what a rejection of absolute truth ultimately leads to—hopelessness and moral decay in society. Then they turned it around to unveil glorious hope of the gospel!

There is such a vital importance in knowing and understanding the sufficiency of Scripture, but then also practically applying it to our lives. Not only does the belief in the sufficiency of Scripture build a firm foundation for a biblical worldview, but it is the essence of your view of God, man and the world. Mr. Ken Ham conveyed that “Your view or support of evolution or creation doesn’t affect your salvation, but the next generation’s view of Scripture.”

(Martin Luther)

This is so true. At the creation museum I read a statistic that showed that only 44% of born again adults believe in the existence of absolute moral truth, and only 9% of teens do! Staggering statistics. We are living in a time where tolerance and relative truth is rampant. And we have been so influenced by our culture that often we, the Christians, don’t believe that the entire Word of God is true, and that is evidenced by our lives! Ultimately this leads to weak doctrine and placing man above God, which is a highly dangerous thing to do.


In order to stand against the winds of doctrine and the philosophies that are thrown at us, we know that we need to stand on the only firm foundation—the Word of God. To do so though, we must study, mediate and memorize it, because how can we stand on it if we don’t know it?

My encouragement to you is to study the Word of God. If we want to make a difference in all different arenas of life, we need to know what the Scriptures say about it. Because if we believe in the sufficiency of Scripture, we can trust that God has principles and commands in His Word that speak to every area of life and show us what is biblical.




Isaiah, Moses and David


The day we went to the Creation Museum it was so windy that they closed the grounds.  So we weren't able to take any family pictures on the beautiful bridge.  I took this picture from a distance.

Pagoda in the midst of winter  (you can see a gorgeous picture of it in the fall here)



Pagoda at night

We returned to the Creation Museum another evening to visit their live nativity, and while there I took some pictures of the grounds at night.





They even had dinosaur lights!


Thursday, December 17, 2009

I'm back!

My family recently returned from a 6 day trip to Covington, Kentucky (right outside of Cincinnati, Ohio) where we attended the NCFIC’s Sufficiency of Scripture conference.

The conference was fantastic. I was blessed to spend 2 ½ days listening to dynamic speakers such as Doug Phillips, Voddie Baucham, Geoff Botkin, Paul Washer and others! It was an amazing time of hearing the truths of the sufficiency of Scripture proclaimed and applied to many different areas of life. We were about 30 minutes away from the Creation Museum and had the opportunity to go there as well!


My little brothers enjoyed watching the planes land.


Our plane was small (46 seats I believe) but it was so fun being up in the clouds! We haven't flown in 7 years, so we loved it!  And it was my youngest brother's first time to fly, so he was ecstatic!




You can find pictures and a few videos from the conference at the NCFIC blog as well as pictures on Mr. Phillip's blog. 

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Are you a perfectionist?

Are you a perfectionist? I often am. But have you ever thought about who sets the standard for perfection? If you think about it, when you want things done “perfectly”, isn’t perfectly your own standard, your idea of how something should be done? And usually when others don’t follow that standard we’ve set in our minds, we get angry at them as if they’ve broken a rule or sinned.

Think about a recent circumstance where your perfectionism was disclosed. Did you expect someone else to do a task exactly how you do it? Perfectionism is usually “me-focused”, wanting to achieve (or wanting others to achieve) a standard of “perfection” we have set. So ask yourself—what is my heart’s motivation? Why do I want this to be done in a certain way or to a certain caliber?

I’m not suggesting that you not do things well. It is good to do things thoroughly. God commands us to do all our work “unto the Lord”. Additionally, He desires for us to work diligently and hard at what we are given, and to be faithful whatever task He has set before us. But if perfectionism is an extra biblical standard that we’ve set, when does thoroughness and hard work turn into perfectionism and sin?

Most of the time when we desire for ourselves to reach a level of perfection it is for the wrong reasons. Could it be…
So others will recognize and praise you?
So you can feel confident about your status or accomplishment?
So God will be pleased with your achievement?

If this is your motivation for getting things to a certain standard or until they are just right, your heart’s motivation is wrong. Whatever we do should be done well, and we should work with all our might as unto the Lord, but it needs to flow from an earnest desire to love and obey Him, not anything else! Reaching your standard of perfection isn’t going to please God any more. He wants your heart, not things done right outwardly.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A glimpse into my life...

I decided to divert from my regular posts and give you a peek at what we’ve been doing lately outside of the daily routine.  

For Thanksgiving I decided to send a few special pen-pals Thanksgiving cards.  You have to keep in mind that I am not the creative one of the family, and so my cards end up being quite plain and simple.  But it's the thought that counts, right?  :)  Oh, and the pictures are worse than I realized too, sorry about that. 





Saturday my sister and I made pumpkin and banana bread to take to our neighbors. Katie made cute little tags to tie onto our loaves.




Sunday our church celebrated our Thanksgiving, and we had a huge and delicious meal. We also learned about the fortitude and faith of pilgrims and their sacrifices, as well as emphasized missions by gathering our Operation Christmas child boxes and praying over them.




no, we didn't just eat pie ;)





As a Thanksgiving craft, Katie helped our little brothers make these adorable Indians and pilgrims out of toilet paper rolls! Aren’t they cute? :)







Recently we celebrated our dad’s birthday as well. We had a yummy banana cake which was his request.






 Have a blessed Thanksgiving!



Friday, November 20, 2009

Thankfulness


It’s nearing that day of Thanksgiving, the day that we as a nation have set aside to remember the things we’re thankful for. This is a special time of year, and we do need to ponder and consider the many blessings God has given us. But as believers, we also need to remember that we are to always be thankful. Thankfulness should not just be reserved for one day of year when we have a big dinner with family; thankfulness should be a continually evident quality in every believer.

Sometimes it’s hard to be thankful in the midst of challenging circumstances and daily problems. But what would it be like if instead of focusing on the problems, you found something to be thankful for in them? How ‘bout…
  • The next time your sibling irritates or does something mean to you, thank God that He’s given that sibling to you and be grateful for what they do for you.
  • The next time someone does something kind to you…even something very small, thank them for it! Show a spirit of gratitude.
  • The next time things don’t go your planned way, thank God that He knows what’s best and is in control, no matter what happens. Also remember to thank Him for giving circumstances that reveal your sinful heart and enable Him to refine and shape your character!
  • The next time you are interrupted by a sibling needing help or a parent asking you to do something, instead of grumbling about it, be thankful that God has given opportunities for you to serve, and that you have a family to serve.
A complaining, sharp tongue is contagious. One person with a bad attitude in the family often upsets the entire household. Don’t let that person be you. When tempted to be upset or ungrateful, remember all the things you do have, and learn to continually be thankful! Many Scriptures remind us of the importance of a grateful heart. Colossians 2:7 tells us to be “abounding in thanksgiving”. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 exhorts us to “give thanks in all circumstances”. And Colossians 3:17 tells us “Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Believers should be the most thankful and grateful people around, because we are the ones who have been saved from the depths of our sins! Let’s set aside time to thank God during this season of Thanksgiving for all He has done for us and all that He has blessed us with, but let’s not associate thankfulness with Thanksgiving alone, let’s learn to be thankful daily!

“I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart”
~Psalm 9:1



Friday, November 13, 2009

Purpose of Education

Education is a vital function in society. But what is the purpose of education? Is it simply for children to be able to claim that they reached a certain intellectual level validated by a piece of paper? And does is matter who educates the children?

To society in general, if you were to ask what the purpose of education is, you may come up with answers that express the importance of knowledge and skills to benefit themselves and society. Perhaps the answers will vary slightly throughout our culture, but the answers should differ greatly for Christian parents who are educating their children at home. Homeschoolers need to have a much greater vision!

In Webster’s 1828 dictionary, education is defined as: The bringing up, as of a child, instruction; formation of manners. Education comprehends all that series of instruction and discipline which is intended to enlighten the understanding, correct the temper, and form the manners and habits of youth, and fit them for usefulness in their future stations. To give children a good education in manners, arts and science, is important; to give them a religious education is indispensable; and an immense responsibility rests on parents and guardians who neglect these duties.

Isn’t that an amazing definition? The most important reason for Christian parents to educate their children at home is to pass on the faith—to actively and purposefully disciple their children. Those who are around the children most, who have the ability to pour time and into their lives and teach them, will be the ones who disciple the next generation. As Webster aptly conveyed, it is the responsibility of the parents. Leaving it up to a school is not only shifting the parents’ responsibility onto another, but also neglecting to actively be involved in their learning and discipleship.

Pastor Baucham stated:
“I am commanded to bring my children up in the nurture and instruction of the Lord (Eph. 6:4), and to do so by teaching them God’s statutes when I sit in my house, when I lie down, when I rise up, and when I walk along the way (Deut. 6:7). I am also admonished not to place myself, or by extension my children, under false teaching (Col. 2:8), or to expose them to teaching that undermines God’s Law (Matt. 5:17-20). Instead, I must teach them to “take every thought captive” (2 Cor. 10:5), to refuse to be “conformed to the pattern of this world” (Rom. 12:2), and meditate on God’s Law day and night (Ps. 1:2).”

For those of you who have not reached the point of having children to teach and train, consider your motive and purpose for your future children’s education. There should be a larger purpose in homeschooling than to protect your children from ungodly peers. It should be first and foremost to obey the Lord! Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin articulated that:
“The object of education then is twofold: to develop the faculties and to direct them; to bring out the energies of the soul, and to bring them to operate to the glory of the Creator. In other words, it is to render you useful to the extent of your ability.”



Monday, November 2, 2009

Reformation Day


Our church celebrated “Reformation Day” yesterday. It was a great event, remembering the sacrifices, boldness and firmness of the reformers, and connecting the importance of the reformation to us today. Not only did we hear a great sermon on the importance of the protestant reformation and reformation today, but we learned about Calvin and his influence and listened to a short debate between Calvin and some others on transubstantiation. Several people sewed costumes this year, so we were surrounded by monks, reformers and well-dressed ladies.

There is much to learn from the men of the reformation, who were willing to endure whatever it cost for the sake of Christ and the Bible. They were not willing to compromise, to give in even a little. Their ultimate authority depended on the Bible alone, not the pope or the leaders of the church.

Reformation involves repentance. It involves change. It involves being willing to stand for Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone) and not compromise to the world’s standards. It is not an easy life; many of the reformers were burned at the stake or tortured in other ways because of their biblical convictions. But the ultimate purpose is to glorify and obey the Lord. And there is nothing on earth that should bring more joy and fulfillment than knowing that you are obeying God.


Will you be a reformer?

"Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed."
1 Peter 4:12-13



Friday, October 30, 2009

Lucky who?

"Good luck!"
Someone has probably asserted something similar to this to this phrase to you before, or perhaps you've used the same phrase yourself. But have you ever thought about what you or someone else might be implying when stating something using the words luck, fate or chance? 

R.C. Sproul expresses:
“There is a crucial difference between the providence of God and fortune, fate, or luck. The key to this difference is found in the personal character of God. Fortune is blind while God is all-seeing. Fate is impersonal while God is a Father. Luck is dumb while God can speak.”
So using a term such as "luck" can express a reliance on a force that is not even there!

Why do we, even Christians, use words such as "luck"? I believe one reason is because of the influence of our culture upon us. It is so deep that often times we simply do not comprehend the meaning of such wording when we wish someone "good luck".  I mean, it just means that you hope someone does well, right?  If that is all you're really meaning, then is it possible for you to find alternate wording that will express your thoughts better?

Christians should use wording that evidences their complete reliance on the providence of God, His power and His might alone.



I have to admit, when I catch someone saying some form of the word "luck", I sometimes remind them that "there's no such thing as luck". If someone asks me what to say instead, I suggest wording that reveals a dependence on God and not on chance. John Calvin expresses that:
"If every success is God's blessing, and calamity and adversity His curse, no place now remains in humans affairs for fortune or chance."
He goes on to say,
“We make God the ruler and governor of all things, who in accordance with His wisdom has from the farthest limit of eternity decreed what He was going to do, and now by His might carries out what He has decreed.”
It brings joy to me to hear my brothers and sisters in Christ expressing how God has worked in their lives, how He has been good to them, or how they are praying for me.  Honestly, I'd much prefer to hear that other than "good luck".  :)  What about you?



Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Talking to yourself...good?

I always thought talking to yourself was kinda silly, even though I sometimes do it. It’s not something generally encouraged. However, recently I read Humility: True Greatness and C.J. Mahaney suggested talking to yourself! Surprised?

Mr. Mahaney quotes Martin Lloyd-Jones who expresses:
“Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself?”

Think about that. As strange as it may seem, it’s true! When you daydream, you’re allowing your mind to wander—you’re listening to yourself. Daydreaming isn’t always “bad”, but often times it decreases our productivity, distracts us from things we should be doing, or even disregards the command to think whatever is true, noble, right, pure…

Mr. Mahaney continues:
“Take a moment to review and examine your pattern of thinking yesterday. Did you spend more time speaking truth to yourself, or was most of your time spent listening to yourself? Most of us spend more time listening to lies than we do speaking truth to ourselves.”

Our hearts are prone to wander, so we must take every thought captive. Our actions follow our thinking, so we must actively take each thought captive to the obedience of Christ. And in order to learn to think what is honorable and pleasing to God we must replace our wrong thoughts with right thoughts. Only Christ can give us the power, strength and ability to do this, but it also involves talking to yourself. Not silly, made-up conversations. On the contrary, learn to speak truth into your life. This involves meditating, memorizing and quoting Scripture and reminding yourself of the promises and commands God has given in His Word. Diligent study of Scripture will reap great rewards.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Forming Friendships

Becoming close friends with people should be a slow process. Not because the people you’re around are necessarily bad or unworthy of your friendship, but because friendships need to be built on Christ.

Prov. 22:24-25 reminds us: “Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare.” The wisdom found here is that being around someone who character is ungodly can result in negative parallels in your own life. Hastily rushing into a close friendship can also easily end up as a broken friendship later on. Usually instantaneous close friendships are built on the current similar interests that don’t always last because of change of interests, instead of being built on Christ, the only strong foundation.

The people you want to be close friends with are those who not only share similar convictions, but can fulfill some of the ideas I shared in the purpose of friendships.

Henry Blackaby says:
“Be careful in your choice of friends! Jesus chose His closest friends wisely. He did not look for perfect friends, but friends whose hearts were set to follow God. It is equally important to examine the kind of friend you are to others. As a friend, it is your duty to put the needs of others first (Prov. 17:17). Strive to find godly friends who will challenge you to become the person God desires. When you have found them, be receptive to the way God uses them to help you become spiritually mature. Strive also to be the kind of friend that helps others become more like Christ.
Also, don’t limit your friendships to people your age. You can learn and glean so much from those older than you, and you can use friendships with those younger than you to practice things like encouraging, inspiring and ministering!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Influence, part 2

What if I’m not trying to influence anyone but am? You are known by your deeds but you also influence by them. The way you act, speak, and respond to different circumstances can influence others, whether for good or for bad. It is likely that you are silently influencing others, whether you are trying to or not. Remember that “Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” (Col. 3:17). While our motivation for doing what is right should not be to simply influence those around us, we need to be aware that we often have the opportunity to do so. “Walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into His own kingdom and glory”. 1 Thess. 2:12

Why should we desire to influence others? Because leading, inspiring and encouraging others in godliness is a great privilege! 1 Thess. 5:14 urges us to “admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.” We should love to allow God use us to influence others for His kingdom. We also need to use our time wisely, and by clarifying the purpose of our friendships we can wisely use our time while making an eternal impact in those around us! “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” Eph. 5:15-16

Who are we to be influenced by? Those who are godly, who will encourage, exhort and inspire you. “Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good.” (3 John 11) Unbelievers and less mature friends should be influenced by us, not the other way around. When I was younger, my mom used to tell me that if I wanted to play with neighbors that I needed to always be influencing, not being influenced. This is incredibly important because allowing ourselves to be influenced by people that we don’t spur us towards godliness will reap bad fruit. Remember, someone is always influencing; either you are the one influencing or you are being influenced.

And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
Phil. 1:9-11


Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Influence, part 1

Although the size will vary with each person, everyone has a realm of influence. For you, it may be your younger siblings, friends or neighbors. It could be younger kids who enjoy playing with you. You might not even realize who and how you are influencing, but I guarantee you that in some way, you are. This may strike a little fear into your heart, because if you’re like me, you know that there are so many things you do that you don’t want others mimicking. But I’m not here to scare you or tell you to straighten up because others are watching you, but hopefully to remind you of the influence you can have and how to use that to build up the kingdom of Christ.

Watch how others imitate your actions. This is most clearly seen in younger siblings. When you see a sibling doing something wrong, ask yourself if they’ve picked up on it from you. You are silently influencing them. Does your own behavior espouse godly character or the opposite?

What is the purpose in influencing? Is it to gain more recognition or approval? Is it to have more authority? Is it to control others? No, no, no! It should be to lead others to Christ, allowing God to use you as a humble vessel to impact them. Your obedience to Christ, even in the little things, can be used mightily by God to influence others. Ultimately then your life will bring the honor and glory to God because of His work in you.

How are we to influence others by our words? By speaking gently (Prov. 15:4) graciously (Col. 4:6), lovingly, kindly, words fitly spoken (Prov. 25:11), with wisdom (Prov. 31:26) and by speaking words that will build up (1 Thess. 5:11).

Do things that you want to encourage others to do. If you exhort your siblings to obey your parents yet display a disobedient or reluctant heart when they give you an instruction, do you think they’ll take you seriously? If you want to encourage godly behavior you need to watch your own heart for evidences when you are not obeying the Lord. A change in your own heart and a desire to follow the Lord completely is the most likely way to inspire, encourage and influence those around you. Henry Blackaby wisely conveys:
“Your life should convince those around you of the wisdom of following God.  Do not underestimate the positive effect that your obedience will have upon those close to you.”

You never know who may be watching you, but your actions speak clearly for your character. What do people see when they watch how you act? Relate with others? Speak to your parents? Just by your actions, are you encouraging things like obedience and respectfulness to your parents and other authority? Are you inspiring others towards a deeper walk with God? Towards a love of holiness and godliness? Are you involved and supporting meaningful conversations, or are you always joking around? By your actions and behavior, do you encourage joyful serving, or is helping others a chore? Do you set the example by talking with or including those younger than you in games and discussions, or do you give the impression that it’s only fun to talk with people your age? Do you encourage language that honors and reverences the Lord’s name?
Don’t rely on others to set the standard—you set the standard! Set a godly example (1 Tim. 4:12).

I purposely didn’t answer all the questions I asked. I hope that you will think and pray through them. In addition to searching your own heart, pray that God would use you as a humble vessel to influence others for Him and encourage them in godliness. Also remember to pray for specific people that you feel you might be influencing.


*In my next post I hope to answer a few more questions regarding influence.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Honest Scrap Award/Tag


This award was given to me by Moriah, Katie and Caleb.  Thanks guys! 
Rules:
  • Say thanks by giving a link to the person's blog who tagged you.
  • Share ten things about yourself--be truthful!!
  • Present the award to 7 others whose blogs you find brilliant in content and/or design, or those who have encouraged you.
  • Tell those 7 people that you have awarded them.
 I figured that since I was given this by 3 people that I should do it.  ;)  However, I've shared 50 things about myself (they're all honest ;) and other facts in various tags, so I thought I'd twist it a little like Jasmine and Katie have done.  So I'm sharing 10 honest music related things about me... :)

1. I’ve always struggled with playing by ear. I need the notes in front of me!
2. In the past year though, I’ve worked on chords for worship songs and so can now play a little better by ear.
3. I teach 4 piano students that range in age from 5-15.
4. I love teaching piano, and it’s good learning experience for me!
5. I’m working on a degree in music via distance learning.
6. I don’t like music theory, but I’m about to start a distance learning theory course for college credit.
7. I can play the beginning part of “The Entertainer” by Scott Joplin, otherwise known in our house as the “ice-cream man song”. It’s really fun!
8. I’ve played the piano for 11 years, but don’t really have musical gifting, so I’ve had to work hard at it. Lest you think that I’m some amazing pianist now, let me assure you that I’m not. I didn’t work as hard or quickly as I should have and so despite my many years of playing am not that great. I’m continually learning though…
9. I love singing harmony and playing duets on the piano with my brother. I also love playing harmony on instruments (with my siblings or friends)!
10. The guitar has a beautiful sound and I would really like to be able to play decently. I’ve tried teaching myself chords and will sometimes be found in my room “playing” and singing. But my siblings will attest to my incredibly poor playing. :P


I decided not to award anyone this time, but if you're reading my blog and would like to do it, feel free!  Just let me know so I can read it.  :)