Saturday, May 31, 2008

Old Dragon Head

Lao Long Tou means "old dragon head" and is the name of the one part of the Great Wall in our city.

We had some friends come in to town for few days and we took them to our quaint little section of the Great Wall. It's the beginning of the wall and fun to go to because it has forts and different displays of weapons and defense mechanisms. Each kid has gotten to go by themselves at some point to the Wall. All of them too little to remember, but we've got pictures to prove it to them when they're older. It's amazing to see how creative they got with the resources they had. That's one thing that is so fun to watch. The Chinese are very resourceful. They save and reuse lots of stuff and I've learned a lot about how wasteful I can be sometimes.

If you're feeling down today, let these signs motivate you to turn a new leaf. They are posted throughout the barracks and museum parts of the Wall.

Feeling inspired now?

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Why Does God Allow Evil in the World?

Brad here.
As you know, I'm a boring guy to most people. I study theology for fun. A bit odd according to most people. In my studies, I have spent the most time on this and its related questions, "Why does God allow evil in the world?" It impacts almost every theological issue we can think of...sin, morality, relationships, salvation,... It's by far the one most people have questions about and the one that causes the most emotional response in people. "Why did that kid die from cancer?" "Why do terrorists exist?" "Why did the earthquake or tsunami happen?"

We've been asked this question recently. Undoubtedly, this is one you hear being asked or have asked it yourself. I'm not going to be able to offer a comprehensive response in one blog, but I hope to equip you with some thoughts to consider, to somehow direct you through His word.

There are different ways to answer the question. Different aspects of the problem require different answers.

1. With respect to specific instances of evil, we cannot presume to say why this or that person suffered in this or that way. We must hold our tongue and not presume. Instead, we must grieve with those who grieve.

Some presume we can say nothing of evil and its reasons. This is only true if we throw out the Bible. It has much to say.

2. Evil is allowed to exist (for now) in order that God may use it to love His people BY revealing the glory of His character in contrast to the vileness around us. (Romans 9:22-23; 2 Cor. 1:8) This reason is frequently ignored and rejected because we fail to realize God's passion for His glory, which is the most loving thing God could do...SINCE the most loving thing God could do is reveal himself as fully as possible since that alone will maximize our joy.

3. Evil in suffering is allowed to exist (for now)to show the sufficiency of His grace (2 Cor. 12:7-9; Job)

4. Evil exists (for now) as an instrument to humble us and make us more like Christ (2 Cor. 12:6-7a)

5. Evil is allowed to exist (for now) in order to show the heinousness of sin and the splendor of His LOVE in Christ....KEEP IN MIND, no matter how deplorable, awful, seemingly unjust, and painful the suffering we are seeing in these days...NOTHING was more foul, grotesque, and wicked as the crucifixion of Jesus, God's own Son. Because of our sin, we ought to wonder why He allows us to live anymore, but he graciously does. Jesus deserved none of our pain.

6. Some evils exist (for now) because of sin. This has two aspects. First, we all sin therefore we all contribute in some way to our own and others' suffering. This should close our mouths as we complain. Second, in Genesis 3 and Romans 8, we see that God has subjected all of creation to futility and suffering in order to give a picture of the awfulness of all sin. When we see the suffering in the world, we are reminded of the infinite evil of any and every sin we commit. There are no small sins. This explains things like earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes....

Final thoughts--

Obviously God could do away with evil now in one wave of his hand. He has not yet done this. In the Joseph story (Genesis 37-50), we read and incredible story of personal and community suffering--betrayal, attempted murder, deception, imprisonment, isolation, famine....It is often noticed that God used these situations to use Joseph to save his family and Israel. HOWEVER, it is not frequently seen that God wants us to notice that HE SENT THE FAMINE in the first place (Gen. 41:25, 32; Psalm 105:16). Yet, he wants us to see and savor Him more than he wants our comforts or even our sustained existence in this world.

We frequently question God when "bad things happen". However, as John Piper observes, we rarely notice when good is happening, when a plane makes it to its destination, when a bridge does not collapse, when the computer actually works, when there's a day when our loved ones don't die. Do we have the same passionate thankfulness in those times as we do when we indignantly object to his allowing evil?

We love you. I hope this help and encourages your faith. We are jealous for your joy.

Romans 8:28. "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose."
What a promise! As you see, this promise is only given to those who love Him. If any of you don't believe in Christ alone for your reconciliation to God the Father, I urge you to come to Christ with all your trust, that this promise might be for you.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

low lying stress

It's been quite a month. Most of you know the family junk we've been
going through. Visas, adoption, hand foot and mouth disease, our
closest friends having to leave, etc. And then the struggles our
country is experiencing with the earthquake and neighboring country's
cyclone. I just read about Steven Curtis Chapman's loss. There's
been this perpetual pit in my stomach all week. Brad and I have been
talking about the fact that as believers, there will usually be a low
level amount of stress and sadness in our lives. If we are deeply
concerned about those around us, there will be sadness. If we are
burdened for the decisions friends are making, there will be stress.
If we are living faithfully and boldly, there will be struggles and

But as this sadness has been stirred up this week, we are reminded
that there is Someone who is never shaken. There is Someone who is
not surprised when earthquakes shake and children's lives are
abruptly ended. There is Someone who offers us flickers of hope
amidst many dark days in a row. There is someone who sees the end of
the struggle and marvels at the goodness of it all. Our view is
tainted by limited understanding, His is crystal clear with wisdom
and goodness. Our eyes are small and humanly, His are magnificent
and heavenly.

And for that...and that alone....I am grateful.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Good Friends Leaving

Our closest American friends in the city have just been told that they won't be coming back next year.  They have had some disagreements with their teaching organization that they are here with.  We actually met with some of their leadership the other day and had a fairly cordial yet internally frustrating conversation.  

They want their teachers to "have a good experience.  Learn some culture, maybe be changed by the whole deal and go home."  

I will leave the frustrating remarks for my journal.  

But we are really sad that they are leaving.  We've only known them for a year, but really sense a kindredness with them.  And friends these days are few and far between.  So their leaving will definitely be felt by our family.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Adoption-1st Hurdle....not jumped....

So we just got off the phone with a really connected American woman who lives in Beijing.  She's pretty much THE go to person for adoptions for people living in China.  She told us that nobody can adopt right now.  That the 2 gov'ts are hashing it out over the regulations.  This all started Apr. of 2008.  So we are too late to qualify under the old regulations (which are much less strict).  
So we ran, jumped, and hit our back knee on the hurdle...flinging ourselves into the other lane.  

But we will dust off our too short track shorts,  get back up (enter slow 'Chariots of Fire' music) and keep running.  

We'd love your continued thoughts.  While they hash it out, we might not be able to pursue adoption until the fall or even next year.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


As a family, we have decided to pursue adopting a Chinese baby.  We are only at the beginning stages, so we still have lots of questions that need to be answered.  But we feel like we are supposed to start the process and let the rest be up to the Lord.  

We would love your thoughts as we figure out an agency that can work with us living overseas.  And your thoughts on finances and logistics.  

More later....

Also, please keep thinking of the earthquake victims.  It's gotten really bad and  many cannot afford to "start over".  They are in desperate need for resources and aid. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

China Earthquake

You may have heard to the huge earthquake in China. We’re ok, but please keep them in your prayers every hour as rescues, resources, and medical attention continue to be given.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Emotional Roller Coaster-take 2 & 3

Monday was just not a good day.  It wasn't a good culture day, mom day, homeschool day, language student day.  It was one of those days that you beg for the clock to be wrong when it says it's only 2 in the afternoon.  I was outside and was having a nice chat with some women.  Then they started to criticize me for our parenting.  This is fairly normal here and I try to just ignore it.  But then the "bird lady" (that's our family name for her because she raises birds) came outside.  She breathes criticism.  I usually  just smile and nod and keep walking.  But she came out and stood with the other two woman.  They all turned their backs on me and continued to criticize me and my parenting.  Then the bird lady walks over to me and criticizes me about how fat I am and what a bad mom I am....yada, yada, yada.  She told me I was too skinny a few months ago. She's just never pleased.

 Anyway, I couldn't take it, collected my kids, came inside and just cried.  

That was monday. 

Tues. was "emotional roller coaster-take 1" that you can read below.  

And also on Monday, we found out about a sweet little girl who has essentially been abandoned by her mom and given to our former nanny (the one that cut Charis' hair).  My tutor lives with our former nanny, so we've been processing things with her all week.  The young mom is a prostitute with no other job.  This poor child only  likes to be in public with lots of noise and commotion.  When she was first dropped off, she just stood by the wall with her feet together and hands folded with her head down. 

The grandparents have lost face because the mother gave birth out of wedlock and so they refuse to help.  The boyfriend owns a business downtown, but refuses to help.  

 She is about 22 months old.  We went over there this morning to play with her and she is absolutely precious.  We've been giving her food, clothes, toys and whatever we can to help.  But it just seems so trite.  

  Our nanny is a wonderful woman, but also has no money.  Just last month, she had a minor stroke.  So at any moment, this little girl could be left alone.  And they don't even let our tutor cook because it takes up too much electricity.

So if you think of her this week, please think of Yue Yue and her mom.  Ideally, the mom reforms her life and picks up her little girl again.  We need wisdom as to how to best help.  

Emotional Roller Coaster-take 1

To say this week has been an emotional roller coaster is an understatement.  I'll try and summaraize:

We've had visa issues.  Big ones.  Which should come to no surprise if you follow the news.  Our country is cracking down BIG time...especially towards foreigners.  Tons of our friends have been asked to leave or been issued visas good for only 30 days at a time.  Then they must leave the country and return again.  

Day 1: the head police officer is TICKED because the computer says we are privately teaching English and earning money on our student visa.  Which we weren't, but the computer said we were.  This is a kick outable offense.  

Day 1 1/2:  pray, pray, pray

some of the things we prayed were 
~ for female police officer to handle our stuff (they are more compassionate, but very rare to find)

~ for the computer information about us being teachers to be changed somehow.

~ for our school rep. to really work for us and advocate for our visas to be renewed.

~ patience for us

Day 2:  
Long day summarized, all the requests answered!!  At first they would only issue us a visa until July (no, not a coincidence that the Olympics start  in August), but our school rep. continued to push and we got them until Aug. 09!!  Everyone we tell here is BLOWN AWAY at this.  This is unheard of....but not for the Lord!

And then this Sat. We will have dinner with one of the police officers that handled our visas!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Desperate Housewife?

After Hilary realizes she has lost, maybe she can join the cast of “Desperate Housewives”? She looks life a middle school girl without a date to the Valentines Day dance. Poor lady….she’s looking pretty pitiful these days.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Translations of the Bible

We’ve recently been asked what English translation(s) of the Bible we recommend and use.

We highly recommend the ESV, English Standard Version. It is a word for word translation while still readable.

Go to: for more information. We have loved “The Reformation Study Bible” as our English STUDY Bible, having many useful and accurate notes. (Do a google search for it)

Second, we would recommend the NASB (New American Standard) for its closeness to the Greek, though it is more difficult to read. After that, the NEW King James is good.

Of course, any form of God’s word is better than none at all. So, though the NIV (New International Version) and the old King James are not among our recommendations, they are still used by God as translations. We don’t recommend these for two reasons. The NIV is a phrase for phrase translation that results in compromise of the original meaning in places. The KJV is unreadable and based on limited early and less reliable manuscripts.

We would stay away from things like the Message and similar paraphrases and retellings, as these are not actually translations but full-blown interpretations, not translations themselves. Too much is lost.

Enjoy his word!

Sunday, May 04, 2008

McCain Just Lost Any Chance At My Vote

According to John McCain, whose comments we heard directly and read follow-up reports, oil is a good enough reason to go to war. Here are his comments:


“I just want to promise you this, my friends," McCain said in Denver, "I will have an energy policy, that we will be talking about, which will eliminate our dependence on oil from the Middle East. That will prevent us from having ever to send our young men and women into conflict again in the Middle East.”


He tried to offer a lame explanation that he was referring to the first Gulf War. Two problems. First, in his speech he had not and did not mention the first war. Second, even if he were correct, how would this rational change his thinking for continuing this second Gulf war? As a believer, voting involves various particular considerations. Certainly the willingness to send people to die for the sake of securing other people’s oil should be one of those. This is as much a moral, spiritual concern as any other.

Timeless Truth

Antony of Egypt, an early church father


"Wherever you find yourself, do not go forth from that place too quickly. Try to be patient and learn to stay in one place."

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Grae-take one

Here's another picture of my sweet new niece! And as my sister so eloquently put it..."here's Grae, throwin' the duece." We got to see her this morning when we talked to my family over Skype. She's so cute and doing great.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Some Feedback

A conversation with a person's kid can reveal a lot about them.

We just asked the older kids, "Does anyone know Kesed's full name?" Selah said, "I do. Kesed Edwards..." We then asked, "Do you know what his name means?" Here are her guesses, in order:

1. A book in the Bible (nope)
2. John Piper's wife (nope)
3. John Piper (nope)
4. One of the books you read (no, but your getting closer)
5. Someone from history (you got it! Jonathan Edwards)

What do we learn from this....our family loves the Bible, listens to a lot of Piper sermons, and likes to particular things about history.

Talking to kids is always revealing. If these are the things she is learning to love from us (the Bible, good theological teaching, and reading),...we'll take it.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Selah's Baptism

A few months ago, Selah felt called to give her life over to Jesus. She's been wanting to get baptized for awhile now, but we wanted to wait a little bit while her decision settled. We don't feel like Scripture teaches pre-conversion baptism, so we wanted to wait until we saw her life and heart's affections changing. We had some Americans over to eat and then had a small ceremony. Don't mind the mess on her clothes, it was part of our potluck. :) One of our American friends also decided to get baptized. He wanted to have a post conversion baptism, so we did both he and Selah on the same night. Here she is giving her testimony. She did a fantastic job!

What a blessing that in the same year, Brad has gotten to deliver our 4th baby (he literally caught him) and baptize our oldest daughter.

When Brad asked the group if anyone had any questions, Malachi jumped in and asked Selah "Do you believe that God is strong?" And he asked the other guy "Do you believe God is good?"

The Lord has been abundantly good to us. We are seeing Him grow our kids more and more each day. Selah, we love you and are praying for your walk with the Lord to continue in richness and covered in His mercy!

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