Monday, December 31, 2007

The Shorter (Westminister) Catechism... put to music

For those of your looking for really edifying music, with a blend of historical orthodox theology, or those interested in teaching yourself or your kids the The Shorter Catechism, we just got turned onto a album by Bruce Benedict (go to ITunes) called “The Shorter Catechism, Vol 1”, which uses the exact words from this 1600’s catechism, but put to folk rhythms. Already, even our kids have started singing the words (and reinforcing a similar catechism that we’ve already been doing with them). Check it out if your interested. We just wanted to pass the word for those interested. Usually, songs kids enjoy are not enjoyable to parents or vice versa. At first, it sounds strangeto hear such substantial lines put to music, but they begin to grab you after a listen or two.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Most Encouraging Christmas.

Here's my big guy at 3 months! Also his 1st Christmas!

So here's the juicy details of our Christmas month. It's been the most encouraging month by far. It started out with 4 separate Christmas parties hosted by our family and visiting friends. While crazy, it was wonderful! It has had much relational fruit. Selah got to go over to her friends house for dinner, Brad now plays basketball every Sat. night with some men (this is wonderful, because the men here are hard to meet because they are ALWAYS at work) and we got invited to a party by a Korean friend. All of these friends, and hopefully more, were made through these parties. We also got to have a local store worker over for a little bit-also a hard task because they work 7 am-10 pm and sleep in the same store.

Then, last Sunday, we had another small Christmas party with some local friends. We've also gotten to know some friends better this month and done lots of dinner hosting. Here's us at Christmas dinner with a friend who's family is out of town right now. We even got to introduce him to real American apple pie!

Christmas morning we had a friend and his wife over for cinnamon rolls. They wanted to come over and give the kids gifts before they had to leave for work, so 6:30 am and we're hosting. He's been incredibly busy, so it was nice to see them both. They stayed and had coffee with us while we opened our stockings. After that, we talked with some family in Texas and then it was off to open more gifts. We rested in the afternoon and did a little of our Christmas story reading of "One Wintry Night" by Ruth Bell Graham-fantastic book about the entire story of Christmas from Creation to Easter. The pictures and story are beautiful That night, we had a friend over for dinner (see picture above) and then crash into bed. It was a wonderful holiday.

This month was our anniversary also. We decided to go to a hotel and eat some Indian/International food. It was wonderful! The back drop to dinner was a choir of Santa dressed young people. The best was when I was about to sit down, what did mine ears hear? Nothing other than "Feliz Navidad" sang by the aforementioned Chinese choir. It was actually a "Feliz Navidad"/"Rudolph" medley. You just can't pay enough for that type of entertainment.

Here's a family Christmas picture. We are no longer worried about if everyone is smiling, but rather if everyone is sitting down in the same place.

We are also getting more and more encouraged at our language skills. Are we there yet...hardly. But we are getting more comfortable in speaking and actually having more in depth conversations. Life here is getting to seem more like life rather than this frantic, confused existence.

Sorry for the random pictures with few captions, but I figured the pictures weren't hard to figure out, so I just did them randomly. We have spent much time rejoicing this month. For answered requests, fun care packages, new friends, more mad language skills, wonderful and healthy family, the season itself.


Tuesday, December 25, 2007

A Christmas Offering: "God's Gift"

Inspired by Isaiah 53:11a on Christmas Day 2007

God's gift to the world is rejected
not initially embraced
it is covered in flesh wrapping
bound in suffering lace

Opened in anguish
smells of death raise up high
but oh what joy awaits us inside

Such pompous for rags
a waste of time seems his shame
who will awake early and eager?
so profane is this thing

Though no eye can now see
yet a rattles shakes noise
how quickly we'll put aside all of our toys

To accept such a grace that joy may be won,
for glory eternal, let no one lament,
cannot be apprehended
efficiently or in a moment

by BV

Friday, December 21, 2007

Seeking Contradictions!!

First of all, some qualifiers… (1) We are not against “big churches”, rather we’re against the mindset of those in big churches who hide in the big group, apathetic in living like Christ. We’re not against “seekers” (as in “seeker churches”) as should be obvious. Rather, we against the notion that the church exists for seekers rather than for God. Romans 3 makes clear that actually, no one seeks God! In fact, by definition, “church” in Scripture is the assembly of God’s people, of whom “seekers” are not a part. Therefore, in fact, it’s impossible to have a “seeker church”.


With that lengthy qualifier made…it dawned on us what a walking contradiction “seeker churches” are in much of what they do. For example, every seeker church will be very quick to say we’re saved by faith, not by works. {So far so good}. However, in stead of being places where the content of this faith is fully declared and articulated, “seeker churches” tend to be the last place one will find thoughtful, comprehensive theological teaching. Rather, every church I hear that praises a “seeker sensitive” mentality spends all their time on “how to” teaching {How to be a good…How to live…. How to find…} Catch the irony….the necessity of faith for salvation would seem to compel more rigorous preaching and certainly more God centered sermons. How to’s concern works, which they supposedly minimize (in the conversion process). Seeker churches, of all places, claim to focus on the unsaved, nonChristian.


In short, “seeker churches” fill their building with a lot of people who don’t love Jesus (after all, they’re “seeking”) to tell them how to live (i.e. do works), despite the fact that they can only be saved through faith (the content of which is barely if ever taught).


Consequently, the very method attempting to win seekers may be sending them to hell!! (since they are being taught how to do works but unfamiliar with the content of our faith).

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

9 years ago, today!

We were walking down the aisle to get married! I cannot believe it was that long ago. I wish I had pictures, but that was pre-digital cameras.

4 kids, 4 continents, endless moves, deaths, and many starbucks later, we are still having a great time being married. Anyone who says that married gets boring the longer you're married have just stopped trying. My wonderful husband does a fantastic job of taking me on dates, serving our family and leading us all in Godliness and intentionality.

We're going to enjoy some hot pot after the kids get to bed and go out this weekend. We've got some friends baby-sitting for us! We'll get some pictures and post them this weekend.

To my wonderful husband-here's to 9 years and the next 90-I love you!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Romans 9--Passionate Love and Rigorous Thinking

There is a terrible lie that abounds saying essentially that one is either “loving and practical” or “aloof and theological”. Similarly, it is said that if you truly believe in God’s sovereignty of all things, even the human will, we’ll become cold, lazy, and fatalistic. (Of course, this runs absolutely counter to history’s greatest kingdom laborers, like Spurgeon, Edwards, Whitefield, Judson, Carey….to name a few.) In Romans 9, ironically, both one of the most neglected and yet hotly debated chapters in Scripture, we see both coming together. In most of the chapter, Paul lays out a very full argument on the sovereignty of God in individually electing who would be His people (i.e. what people today call “Calvinism”). However, notice 9:1-3, where Paul pours out his heart more sincerely and passionately that perhaps any of us have for His people: “I am speaking the truth in Christ--I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit-- 2 that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh.” Let this convict us not to compromise Scriptural teachings for the sake of worldly logic and in the so-called name of “love”. Let our hearts not grow cold for God because we think we are growing warm towards people. We are pierced in heart at how deep, hard thinking and zealous, consuming love come together not only in this text, but throughout the church’s history….but how easily we separate them.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Song Lyric of the Week

Robbie Seay wins it this week with his song “New Day” which says, “If you’re like me, you need a hope, a coffee, and a melody, so sit back down and let the world keep spinnin’ round…”

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Honor and Shame in Practice

A lot of people know that China is more of an honor-shame culture. In America, we really have no parallel. It’s far more than mere pride or peer pressure. It’s a group dynamic where conformity is valued, sought after, and enforced holistically.

Recently, we’ve seen a few noteworthy examples of the daily implications of this honor-shame dynamic. Example #1: Bank loans—we asked one of our tutors about what would happen if she did not pay back her student loans, what would happen? She replied that they bank would post her name on the internet. “So…?” we thought. When asked about it, she explained how horrifying it would be for that to happen to her. We asked, “Who would read it?” She said probably no one, but nevertheless, she would know and be humiliated. Example #2: No Smoking in Beijing Taxis—recently it was announced that smoking in Beijing taxis was prohibited (at least by drivers, we think passages but can’t recall). The punishment was that people would have their pictures posted online.

Though we laugh at how crazy this sounds to American ears, we see again how much we all desperately need help if we are to learn to communicate with so many people in the world who think so differently than we do. When we surround ourselves with like minds, it’s easy to forget our narrow our vision can become.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Christmas Idol?!

Today,the girls that come over everyday were taking notice of our Christmas tree. Twice I looked over at one of them and she was on her knees, hands folded and murmuring something. I think she was praying to the tree. I asked her, but she didn't seem to understand why I'd ask that.

Brad thought I was crazy. I see NO other reason why someone would be kneeling in front of a tree, hands folded and eyes closed-murmuring. The verdict, she was the tree.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

From Selah's eyes

These kids are my friends from my Chinese school. But they're Koreans. They don't say very much because they don't know very much Chinese. But they are also very nice. These pictures are from my camera that I got for my birthday from Mimi and Grandpa. I took them all by myself. This little girl is my friend from school. She also has a brother. These pictures are from the Christmas party we had. We decorated lots of cookies, we did a play and I was Mary. Then we all sang 'Silent Night" together. That's all. We had a great time.

This picture is Mrs. Christina, when they were visiting us in China. But they left today.

This woman at the bottom is also Korean. She is the mom of the girl above her. But I've never seen her husband, when she picks her daughter up from school. Maybe she doesn't have a husband. All the pictures are of my Korean friends. They are all Korean....except Mrs. Christina.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Why are more people offended by lack of choice rather than abortions themselves?

China is well known for their one child policy--that a family is only allowed one child, otherwise, they will be fined severely. Abortions are normal here, encouraged or compelled either by family or other authorities. Consequently, many in the West, especially America, scorn China for its abortion views and practices. It is regularly decried by Americans that such "forced" abortions are immoral and unjust. What is interesting however, is comparing the differences between America and China related to abortion views. We read an article recently saying that there are about 2.5 millions abortions a year in the United States. Strangely enough, only Christians bemoan this number so strongly. More typically, the fight is over the choice to abort or not to abort. Yet, on the whole, there is not the "outrage" in America against herself as there is again China. What is the difference? The only difference appears to be CHOICE.

The issue apparently is not abortion itself. Apparently, the outrage is that people in one country are not getting to choose abortion. In contrast, where there is choice, there is no outrage. Abortion then becomes an arbitrary matter. The real "issue" for many people is CHOICE. Consequently, we could just as well expect such outrage is the people in China we denied the CHOICE to drink Cokes whereas Americans were given the choice. Would we see the same outrage and cries of injustice? Would other countries be so hated because of the lack of "choice"? I doubt it. The truth is that our society uses the hot issue of  to give stronger persuasion to the value of choice. Pro-choice-abortion advocate have no grounds to malign China or any other country so long as they defend its existence in America. It's an evil everywhere it exists.
A related aside, a quote from an article I read this morning about a woman charged with killing her unborn fetus, "Freeman was initially charged with murder under a 2005 law that allows murder convictions of people who cause the deaths of fetuses that could live outside the womb. However, that law contains a specific exemption for women who cause the deaths of babies they're carrying." Contradiction?

Monday, December 03, 2007

Last few from the parents trip

Here's a few more pictures from my parents trip. We had a wonderful trip with everyone. It went by much too quickly, for sure. I'm having trouble with blogger, so pardon my wayward 'the' that's dangling in space.

Here's Kesed-about 9 weeks now! He's rolling some and smile often. He's been a great baby so far. I'll tell you, it's hard not to spoil him when you know he's probably your last.

The grandmother's got these costumes for the kids! Now we'll have some things to go along with the various objects Malachi uses as a sword-pencils, sticks, half eaten bread, crackers...pretty much anything will do.

We have some good friends of ours visiting right now, so we'll try and post some of those pictures soon. We also had a great time having some Christmas parties this weekend. We'll blog that later also.
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