Sunday, January 25, 2009

Lessons We're Learning: The difference betweem results and reasons

For the past few months, we’ve been meditating heavily on the connection between joy, love, the cross, and faith. As full-blown Christian hedonists, we well know that our joy in Christ overflows into love for others. However, we recently discovered how we have misused this wonderful truth.


It dawned on me that I have so striven to be a good parent and love people that I have been using love or joy in God as a means rather than the only end goal. In other words, as I’ve sought to love my kids or other people more, I’ve gone to the Bible seeking my satisfaction in Christ (rather than convenience, internet, books, etc.) SO THAT I could then be a better parent, spouse, worker, etc…. THIS IS THE PROBLEM!


We can never use joy in Christ as a means, for it is the ultimate end of our existence. There is no greater prize. No greater reward. Being a good parent, spouse, worker, etc does not satisfy as Christ does. His happiness is better and forever. In effect, I have been pursuing the fruit of the Spirit as if they were the consummation of our joy, all the while missing the fact that the only reason these are desirable is because they reflect Christ’s own nature.


How does this practically affect love? We were reminded by John Piper’s Desiring God that the motive for loving people is because God promises us reward. This was the way Christ constantly motivated people, BUT this is not being a mercenary. This is because God is our reward. He alone is the proper aim of all our efforts. Therefore, loving people, displaying patience, etc are all means and opportunities to know and enjoy Christ, particularly as His grace and power move in us. Therefore, even when we don’t feel affection for a person, our ambition to savor Christ propels us to loving acts; these are actually faith steps that God will be satisfying when we obey; then, we see that he reveals Himself to us, changing us more into the likeness of Christ, thereby increasing our capacity for joy. This is the essence of sanctification—the increase capacity for enjoying Christ. [Far too many books only speak of sanctification in term of loving actions]


The true Christian cannot be satisfied with merely seeing Christ; (s)he feels the compulsion and drive to be like Him and experience Him within us. Therefore, when Christ is our ultimate final joy (and not a means), then love does come [but as a result, not the final goal]. This epiphany has taught us the subtly of sin and the difference between a reason and a result. When we say “so that” in English, we may sometimes either refer to a result or to the purpose of an action. When we say, “Find your satisfaction in Christ so that your love may abound,” we need to be clear we are talking about the result of joy, not its purpose. This makes all the difference in finding lasting and final joy in life—in Christ alone.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

arbitrary parent rules and a little update

Here are two recently said to our 3 year old, Charis:

1. "Charis, you cannot put dominoes down your pants."

That one sounds like it can also be said in many nursing homes.

2. "Charis, you cannot go to the poop on the trashcan anymore."

Here's the adoption update:

We've submitted our paperwork and are working out logistics for the next phase. We've got a couple of visa issues posing problems. If we can get those worked out, we might be able to get our baby sooner than we thought!!

We'll keep you posted.

Monday, January 19, 2009

When They're Older?

We hear a lot of people ask us about having 4 young kids living overseas. We also hear many people say they think it best to wait a little bit until their kids get older to move overseas. It doesn’t make sense to them to move when the kids are small. Aside from our own experience, we know a lot of families who live overseas. Without exception, we have found that logic (“Wait until the kids are older”) to be completely opposite. In fact, we again and again see the following pattern: the older the kids, the more difficult the transition.


All transitions are challenging, for sure. However, when kids are young, they are more flexible and adapt quickly, learning language and culture easily and naturally. The new country become home. That is what is “normal”. It’s older kids who have already planted a lot of roots in American culture, who have more challenges adjusting to new language and loss of friends. Of course, people do it all the time. If we’re honest, we parents tend to put onto our kids our own pains and fears. WE don’t want to miss what we’re used to. WE will miss coaching the baseball team or going to the same activities we did growing up. Our kids won’t miss them…they’ll have a whole new series of wonderful experiences which they will treasure. They won’t miss our experiences.


OUR point is this: Families, don’t hesitate to move overseas!


The truth is, according to standard thinking, there is never a logical time to move overseas. There’s always some reason to stay…money, career, job, friends, family… There is much joy waiting those who leave these precious things to experience the intentional, fruitful, diverse experience of overseas life. What a gift to kids and adult a like. If you are considering moving overseas as a family, begin the process today. Don’t wait! We love you and hope to see you soon.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Actually, everyday's a circus

It was our last day of Circus studies for Malachi's home school. Here's a few pictures from the occasion. We had a friend come over while we were getting ready, so she got to join in on the fun. Have I said yet, that I love home school? Cause I do. Charis' make-up was self evolving after she got hold of the markers.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Malachi's 5th

We celebrated Malachi's 5th Birthday last night!! Wow, time flies.

He loves math, reading, green pea ice cream, pizza, seaweed and garlic salad, green beans, climbing trees, corn ice cream, playing with brother and sisters, going to school, transformers, wrestling and lots more. He's pretty much into all things boy. He's a wonderful big brother and is really excited for the new baby to come, because "I want to see her skin."

We went downtown to have some pizza and celebrate.

Selah has learned this instrument at school and Malachi has fallen in love with it. So we got him one for his birthday. You have to blow in it in order for it to play. He's always hearing a beat and has picked it up really quickly.

Selah wrote him a story about Transformers. It was really cute.

Selah is yelling at him "SAY POOP!" in this picture...hence his expression. I don't know if he's reacting to her words or to the fact that he's allowed to say the word 'poop'.

We had a great time celebrating with our little buddy! We're going to do a little more celebrating in a few weeks with some friends. But we always do our family celebration and dinner on the date of their birthday.

Happy Birthday and we love you!!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The (Twisted) Anatomy of Amercian Evangelism

Have you ever thought of the contemporary American "style" of evangelism?

Basically, the main goal that people have in conversation tends to be to GET THEM TO CHURCH. We'll feel like we've done our job if we at least get them thinking about going to a church. Besides the fact that this encourages a "religious" or institution mentality, it doesn't get people to Jesus.

It is assumed that the church will give them Jesus (You know what happens when as assume?) However, so many churches these days are more focused on "seekers", on performance, and very general and light messages that again no one hears much about Jesus. Church might heighten someone's sense of conscience, but struggles ot preach the gospel. If people were actually to talk about the essentials of the gospel (sin, judgment, genuine faith means obedience, Christ is the ONLY way to the Father...), tons of people wouldn't come to church.

It is assumed people will hear the gospel in a small group (IF THEY JOIN ONE...another assumption). Then we return to the cycle of people not personally sharing the gospel. After all, it is assumed if you're in a small group that you might be a Christian. Perhaps, they claim to be so. THEN, it's awkward to challenge that profession despite their contrary life and understanding.

If we would be more intentional to personally share the good news rather than passing the buck to some sermon, we could break this cycle and see people know Jesus. I plead: Let us not be ashamed of the gospel.

A good recent book is Mark Dever's "The Gospel & Personal Evangelism".

Sunday, January 04, 2009

The rest of the show

These are the outfits that I'm glad my children were not subjected to.

Actually, this one's cute. I added it because I loved this little guy.

This is a BOY...

and this one too.

New Years Performance 2009

So, the kids had their annual New Years performance on Friday. As many of you know, that usually brings an interesting post and many black mail photos. This year was actually pretty tame. My only hope was that Malachi would actually wear more than his underwear this time. Here's Charis and Malachi getting ready.

I had to use a little ice cream bribe, but she eventually up there on stage. Her entire class was crying the entire time.

Malachi, all ready to go.

Charis' class was so cute. They jumped up and down and shook those shiny things on their wrists. Charis jumped and jumped and jumped. She was fantastic!

Malachi had a kong fu performance. He calls it "Hiya" because they kick, punch and say 'hiya' the whole time. It was a great show and he did awesome. At the end was a Tai Chi wind down.

He had one costume change and ended the show with a tribute to the Sichuan earthquake victims. He and his classmates sang their little hearts out. I was really proud of both of our kids.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

"The Roots of Endurance"

Paragraph 3 of this book and I had to stop and blog already.  

"There is a mind-set in the prosperous West that we deserve pain-free, trouble-free existence.  When life deals us the opposite, we have a right not only to blame somebody or some system and to feel sorry for ourselves, but also to devote most of our time to coping, so that we have no time or energy left over for serving others."   

"This mind-set gives a trajectory to a life that is almost universal-namely, away from stress and toward comfort and safety and relief.  Then churches grow up in this mind-set, and it never occurs to anyone in such a community of believers that choosing discomfort, stress, and danger might be the right thing-even the normal, biblical thing-to do."

I have lived for so long in the idea that I DESERVE comfort and safety.  The problem with that, is that you just don't see the faithful people in Scripture living that kind of life.  If I want to see a BIG God, I have to be willing to put away my small ideas about Him and step out into discomfort and worldly insecurity.  And instead see my comfort and safety in any given day as a momentary Grace.
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