Sunday, January 31, 2010

Indicators of Pride

"God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble."James 4:6

In his booklet From Pride to Humility, Stuart Scott has compiled an insightful list of 30 biblical indicators as to whether pride is resident in our hearts. Read these slowly and prayerfully.

1. Complaining against or passing judgment on God (Numbers 14:1-4, 9, 11; Romans 9:20)
2. A lack of gratitude (2 Chronicles 32:25)
3. Anger (Proverbs 28:25; Matthew 20:1-16)
4. Seeing yourself as better than others (Luke 7:36-50)
5. Having an inflated view of your importance, gifts and abilities (Acts 12:21-23)
6. Being focused on the lack of your gifts and abilities (1 Cor. 12:14-25)
7. Perfectionism (Matthew 23:24-28)
8. Talking too much (Proverbs 10:19)
9. Talking too much about yourself (Proverbs 27:2; Galatians 6:3)
10. Seeking independence or control (1 Corinthians 1:10-13; Ephesians 5:21)
11. Being consumed with what others think (Galatians 1:10)
12. Being devastated or angered by criticism (Proverbs 13:1)
13. Being unteachable (Proverbs 19:20; John 9:13-34)
14. Being sarcastic, hurtful, degrading, talking down to them(Proverbs 12:18, 24)
15. A lack of service (Galatians 5:13, Ephesians 2:10)
16. A lack of compassion (Matthew 5:7, 18:23-35)
17. Being defensive or blame-shifting (Genesis 3:12-13; Proverbs 12:1)
18. A lack of admitting when you are wrong (Proverbs 10:17)
19. A lack of asking forgiveness (Matthew 5:23-24)
20. A lack of biblical prayer (Luke 18:10-14)
21. Resisting authority or being disrespectful (1 Peter 2:13-17)
22. Voicing preferences or opinions when not asked (Philippians 2:1-4)
23. Minimizing your own sin and shortcomings (Matthew 7:3-5)
24. Maximizing others’ sin and shortcomings (Matthew 7:3-5; Luke 18:9-14)
25. Being impatient or irritable with others (Ephesians 4:31-32)
26. Being jealous or envious (1 Corinthians 13:4)
27. Using others (Matthew 7:12; Philippians 2:3-4)
28. Being deceitful by covering up sins, faults, and mistakes (Proverbs 11:3; 28:13)
29. Using attention-getting tactics (1 Peter 3:3,4)
30. Not having close relationships (Proverbs 18:1-2; Hebrews 10:24-25)

[from the 9Marks blog]
I fee like I fail on every question. Thanks be to God for His grace in Christ.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Foundation is Essential

I thought you might like this from Justin Taylor’s blog…and check out this quote at the end from John Newton!

Postmodern Architecture-- From an address by Ravi Zacharias

I remember lecturing at Ohio State University, one of the largest universities in this country. I was minutes away from beginning my lecture, and my host was driving me past a new building called the Wexner Center for the Performing Arts.

He said, “This is America’s first postmodern building.”

I was startled for a moment and I said, “What is a postmodern building?”

He said, “Well, the architect said that he designed this building with no design in mind. When the architect was asked,

Why?’ he said, ‘If life itself is capricious, why should our buildings have any design and any meaning?’ So he has pillars that have no purpose. He has stairways that go nowhere. He has a senseless building built and somebody has paid for it.”

I said, “So his argument was that if life has no purpose and design, why should the building have any design?”

He said, “That is correct.”

I said, “Did he do the same with the foundation?”

All of a sudden there was silence.
You see, you and I can fool with the infrastructure as much as we would like, but we dare not fool with the foundation because it will call our bluff in a hurry.

John Newton in a letter to Rev. Thomas Jones (October 20, 1767): “As to myself, if I were not a Calvinist, I think I should have no more hope of success in preaching to men, than to horses or cows.”

Monday, January 25, 2010

Math and Ping Pong

Malachi: "Mommy, I think I want to study math when I get to college."

Me: "Great buddy, you'd be great at studying math."

Malachi: "But Mom, could I also play ping pong?"

Me: "Actually buddy, lots of people who study math in America also like to play ping pong!"

So, I realize that it sounds like a bit of a racial comment, but Brad was a math major. And I'll tell you that he was one of only a few whities in the class.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Old Person's Olympics

Makaria and I are in Guangzhou, taking care of her visa stuff. I'll try and keep this positive and light, which is a contrast to the experience we have had working with US gov't offices. The cool thing about this city is that it's a main portal for Americans picking up their babies from China to bring home through adoption. I've gotten to meet some wonderful families and hear some incredible testimonies. Another fun thing about this city is that there is color here. As in lots of different nationalities. It's like a buffet of color. I love it. I spent some time looking through gorgeous African cloth this afternoon and dreamed of all the things I could make with them.

This morning, we had a little time on our hands, so we gallivanted off to a park. This is pretty much what Makaria looked like for a decent portion of our stroll. She laughed and said hi and shook hands and lifted up her shirt for all to see.

This is the first time I've gotten to do bubbles with her. I love 'first time' things with your kids. What a blessing.

Then we got to eat Turkish food. I love Turkish food. I do not love the hair on the arms of Turkish men.

I will tell you, that if there was such thing as an Old Person's Olympics, China would take the entire Western hemisphere to school. One of the things I love about China is watching the older people do their hobbies. They are always outside doing something. Playing cards, carrying around their grand kids, beating their legs on a tree, kicking around a hacky sack, walking backwards, hitting a badminton birdie, the list could go on and on. I've finally decided to capture some of it in pictures.

In this picture alone, there's a squatting man, a woman dancing with a plastic ring, a woman using the bridge to stretch, and a woman doing Tai Chi.

This is not your family reunion type of badminton. These people sweat playing it.

Now, this man with the jacket. He was initially walking around in circles clapping. He then realized that Makaria was sleeping and so decided for a quieter form of exercise. (This might have been a decision hastened by the fact that I shot him an evil eye.) So he removed his jacket. And started running in circles. And then twirling the jacket around like Julie Andrews.

This is one of my favorite exercises to watch. They all have a small racket with a ball on top. Then, there is music that is played and a routine that is danced. They twirl around, moving the racquets in a very fluid motion so that the ball doesn't fall. It's really amazing to watch. They put it behind their backs and through their legs and spin around. Amazing. And Makaria thought so too.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Noel Piper's thoughts

As I weep over the orphan crisis in Haiti, a friend reminded me of Noel Piper's blog. She's got a lot of resources if you are wanting to help or find out more information. And it's also just a really great blog. We've followed her thoughts on trans-racial adoption and have appreciated her Biblical approach to the whole thing.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Haiti and adoption and my weird dream

Everything that has happened in Haiti has raised emotions of every type. Anger, sadness, fear, shock. I've honestly not wanted to blog about the earthquake. I'm not sure why. Sometimes I feel like things are best left unspoken. There's just too much to process in an event like this.

There are tons of charities to give to. But I know that Compassion International has been in Haiti for a long time, ministering to families and orphans. They have embedded themselves in the community and have been a respected Christian organization for some time. But it really seems as if people are informed on where to send their money now.

It's been interesting for me, because the thing that has hit me most in all of this is the orphan crisis. Haiti already has a large percentage (I've read over a million orphans existed in Haiti....before the earthquake) of orphans. After this earthquake, not only will the number of orphans increase, but children already promised to adoptive families have died. As we were going through our adoption process, the second we got a referral picture of Makaria, our family changed. Once you have a picture of your child in your minds, you start to envision their personalities, dream about what will make them laugh, quiz your other children on what it will be like once she gets home. This dream has been shattered for so many parents.

I realize that this is a weird take on the whole thing. My heart aches deeply for all the communities that have been destroyed. But I've also found my heart aching deeply for the orphans and their soon to be families. We read a story of a family that received a new picture of their son and their orphanage that is now based out on a street. I cannot imagine the sadness this would bring for a family.

I had a dream last night where Matt Chandler (I know, that's rather random) and some friends asked me about our adoption journey. As I started to explain, I sobbed uncontrollably, out of joy. The joy in the adoption process, the rejoicing over our email inbox that showed us our new daughter, the worshipping that happened when we held her for the first time. It is overwhelming even now. Anyway, I woke up the next morning and my eyes were puffy and watery. I had actually cried in my sleep. I was overwhelmed in my dreams and my reality.

All of this rambling is to say that if you are contemplating adoption, I want to encourage you to take the plunge. Trust God with the details. Kids, like these in Haiti, aren't getting any younger. The window is small to be able to adopt. Meaning, that these kids will grow up. Make that phone call to agencies today. Do the research today. Pray today.

Children are waiting....and so is insurmountable joy for you and your family.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Is the God of the Missional Gospel Too Small?

Here is a fantastic corrective to a tendency among "missional" churches.

The article, "Is the God of the Missional Gospel Too Small?" comes from a ministry called "9Marks", which is solid in every respect (led by Mark Dever).

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Malachi's 6th

Today is my not-so-little-anymore-guy's birthday! He's 6 today. The above picture is us at a barbecue type of thing, where they bring around skewers of meat. I've blogged about it before, but they have things like cow's tongue and chicken hearts and pizza made with cheese and bananas. There's also a huge buffet with noodles, salads, fruit and tons of other various sides. Malachi wanted to go there for his birthday dinner, so we packed up the gang and headed out.

Makaria entertained the masses, while we scavaged for edible meat. We really did have a good time. I think the older 3 kids went up to the buffet at least 8 or 9 times a piece. They were just beyond themselves. It was really fun watching Malachi soak it all in. He's a kid that feels and lives deeply. The waiters, the new foods, the shiny deserts. They all were very intriguing to him. I think he sampled one of everything on the buffet line.

Then tonight we had a family dinner at home and ate the Oreo ice cream pie and opened a few gifts. We did our traditional going around the table and naming things that we love about Malachi. He's really grown up a lot this year. He's very concerned about taking care of the poor, about protecting his brother and sisters (he started Tai Kwan Do this year, so if he sees a potential coflict, he tells us not to worry and that he'll just Kong Fu Panda them) , and making sure that justice prevails. He and I (Carrie), had a little lunch date a few days ago and we had the best time. He asked me some really great questions and we just chatted like old friends. It was wonderful. I love that little guy.

We had a great time together. He's growing up way too fast. I cannot wait to see what the Lord does with him as he continues to grow. We love you, buddy!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

"Make a Life, Not a Living"

To all who long to perceive and be a part of God's significant work around the world, Samuel Zwemer, one of the pioneer workers among Muslims in the Middle East, wrote a brief article called "The Glory of the Impossible". Enjoy!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

today I saw... and a funny adoption story

This is what my kids looked like as they got ready for bed. We don't really do pajamas in our house. I dunno, I can't seem to keep the pajama world organized, so I just deny it exists. Henceforth, we get this:

On a funny adoption note, I wanted to share what is probably my favorite comment yet. Our family and a friend were waiting at a tv station for Selah's dance performance to begin (you can rest assured that there will be a blog on this in the very near future.). So of course we acted as the opening act as all the families waited in the lobby. Pretty much everyone just stares, takes pictures of us and asks us funny questions. Our friend was holding Makaria, when she got asked this question: "So, as the baby (Makaria) gets older, will she get whiter and whiter? You know, to match the rest of her family." My friend was laughing really hard when she called me over to tell me the story. My first thought was: "She's a baby, not a chameleon!"

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Brit Hume and Evangelism

From the Gospel Coalition blog:

The furor surrounding Brit Hume’s encouragement to Tiger Woods to convert to Christianity shows us that the prevailing sentiment of our culture is adamantly opposed to the idea of evangelism.

As Christians, we must recognize that before we can make a robust defense for the Christian faith, we may have to clear the air by making a case for evangelism in general. After having listened to some of the remarks made about Brit Hume, I have compiled a list of common objections to “proselytism” and why each of them are unpersuasive.

Objection #1: “Brit Hume’s remarks indicate that he thinks Christianity is superior to Buddhism.”

Response: Of course, he thinks Christianity is superior. Otherwise why would he remain an adherent to the Christian faith?

In the same way, I would expect a Buddhist man to think that his religion to be superior to Christianity. If the Buddhist doesn’t consider Buddhism to be superior, then why not convert to whatever religion he thinks issuperior?

It is not arrogant to believe that your religion is superior to others. We should assume that religious people believe their faith to be superior.

Furthermore, if you believe no religion is superior to another, you are putting forth a viewpoint that you believe to be superior than the “religious superiority argument” you condemn. Thus, you fail to live up to your own demand.

Objection #2: “Christianity looks bad when Christians talk this way. Christians should not publicly and actively proselytize people of other faiths.”

Response: If Jesus calls us to make disciples of all nations and to preach the gospel, then Jesus is calling us to evangelism/proselytism. The issue is not about the way Christianity looks before the world. The question is whether or not someone can be a faithful follower of Jesus Christ and not evangelize.

To the person who says, “It’s arrogant to proselytize”, I say, “I consider it more arrogant that you think I should followyou in this area rather than Jesus Christ, who I claim as Savior and Lord.” It is the height of arrogance (and prejudice) to tell a Christian, “You should not follow Jesus Christ in this area.”

Objection #3: “Brit Hume implied that Buddhism is deficient in some way.”

Response: The assumption behind this objection is that all religions are equally valid. But that assumption is not so easily proven.

Do we really want to argue that no religion has any deficiency? That every religion is equally good (albeit in its own way)? Such a view is very disrespectful to the adherents of other religions. Buddhists know that they are not Christians. Christians know that they are not Muslims. By assuming that every religion is equally valid and good, you are downplaying the significant differences between these faiths.

Don’t patronize people and act like their differing views don’t matter. They do. They know they do. We know they do. Let’s agree on the fact that there are substantial disagreements and leave aside this nonsense that we all believe the same thing.

Objection #4: It is arrogant for Brit Hume to assume he believes in the only true religion and to try to lead people to the Christian faith.

Response: Is it? Most people in the world today do not believe that all religions are equally valid. In fact, most people believe that their religion is the correct one.

So by saying that it’s arrogant to insist your religion is right… well, that’s an arrogant statement too. You’re telling me that the majority of the world is wrong and you are right. Sounds oppressive. It’s also ethnocentric and prejudiced to believe that we in the enlightened West have figured out that all religions are the same and the poor, mindless Christians, or Muslims, or Hindus, or Buddhists across the world are still in the dark, thinking they have the only light.

Objection #5: Brit Hume’s attempt to evangelize Tiger Woods shows how exclusive and narrow-minded fundamentalist Christians are.

Response: Actually, no. True evangelism takes place because the call of salvation is radically inclusive. We are to call all people everywhere to repentance and faith: people from every tongue, tribe, and nation; people of every color, ethnicity, and background; yes, even people who claim other religious identities.

The truly narrow-minded, prejudiced Christian looks at a Buddhist like Tiger Woods and stays quiet about Jesus. Their silence says this: Jesus isn’t for you.

On the other hand, the evangelistic Christian recognizes the radically inclusive call to salvation. It is because of the exclusive nature of Christianity that the offer of the gospel is so radically inclusive. Christ calls all people everywhere to repentance. Forgiveness in Jesus Christ is available for all… even Buddhists like Tiger Woods.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Effectiveness vs Efficiency

Two things everyone wants in their work and ministry: effectiveness and efficiency. Americans take pride in being efficient, but many people might not know how to distinguish the two words. Here are two possible definitions that we are finding helpful.

"doing right things" (effectiveness)
"doing things right" (efficiency)

Who cares if we are efficient as being ineffective? When do you consistently evaluate if what you are doing in your family, job, or ministry is most effective?

This requires distinguished between what is good and what is best. Satan rarely tempts us with blatantly 'evil' things. It's usual 'good' things that stop us from the best. We hear them in arguments when people say, "It's not bad!" or "This is a good thing." This requires Biblical saturated minds that seek the wisdom of God hourly.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

A Genuine Question

A Genuine Question for Arminians (from Justin Taylor's blog)

I’m not so much interested in a debate, but for those readers who are Arminian (welcome, by the way; I’m glad you’re here), how do you understand a passage like Genesis 20:6, where God tells Abimelech “I . . . kept you from sinning against me” and “I did not let you touch her”?

If God can prevent the action of this king, was the king’s choice free?

And if God can do this for the king, can he and does he do it for others?

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

THE photo shoot

About two weeks ago, I heard a knock at the door. It was my friend who has been stalking me for about 6 months now. She works at a modeling agency in our same building and has been wanting to take pictures of our kids for a long time. I've done the "I'm really busy right now." and the "I need to talk to my husband first." Seriously, I've run into this girl at the store, on the street, the elevator, and then staring me face to face at my front door. When she came in, I told her I was busy at the moment and she said "you've been busy for 6 months already!" So I told her that I needed to talk with my husband first. She replied "you've had 6 months to talk to your husband!"

I was stuck.

I knew I was going to need to do this photo shoot. So, we wrapped up home school with Selah and I took her and Makaria up to the 19th floor to see what was in store for us. I didn't know any specifics, just that she wanted us to come upstairs and take pictures for free that we could keep.

We walked in and she told me that next time we should wear more fashionable clothing. "Oh," I thought, "you have no idea what kind of clientele you've got on your hands here." They wanted me to take some pictures, but modeling is just not my thing. And I'll tell you that my 8 year old was a little too good at it for her mom's liking. The lady asked me if I had taught her these moves that Selah was giving the camera. And if you know me at all, the question will make you snicker. Teaching my 8 year old how to model just didn't make the home schooling cut. All of these are her own home grown moves.

There are a few more pictures with me in them, but I'm not posting them. Nope...just not gonna post them.


Listening is not simply, or mainly, hearing what the other person is saying. It is thinking about what they are saying, and doing so from their point of view.

Implication: This includes a willingness to be influenced by others. If you are generally unaffected by what other people say, you aren’t listening.

(from What's Best Next blog)

Monday, January 04, 2010

Arbitrary Parent Rule #8, #9

These were directed towards my 3 year old.

8. You may not stick blue pencils in the cornbread.

9. You are not allowed to stick rolls in your armpits.

The Quest for Relevance

Today, people talk a lot about relevance.

What one needs is far more relevant than what one wants.

Let this simple thought protect us from compromising our preaching and practice, from church hopping, relationship fickleness, and the emotional fragility that plagues us as modern Christians.

Saturday, January 02, 2010


I love this picture because it's filled with unfiltered joy. There's not a worry or concern in his body. I pray on a daily basis for this type of attitude. And I will tell you that this is not my natural disposition. For whatever reason, I lean towards cynicism and lack of joy. If the Lord had not changed my heart, I can't imagine the sarcasm and melancholy that would flow freely from my pores. Anyway back to our week.

We had to head into town for dental and medical appointments and do a few things regarding Makaria's immigrant visa. For some reason, God has decided to deal our famiy the 'do things the hard way' card. So He called us to adopt while living in China. This has added more hurdles to the adoption process than I can even explain and more than you care to read about. A simple trip to the clinic to get her medicals has turned into a two week, multiple trips to Beijing type of event. But, first we stopped at a place called Fundazzle. It's a HUGE indoor play place. What kid wouldn't love that ball pit?!

Did I mention that no taxi drivers will take our entire family now? We can still flag a taxi if half of us wait by the curb and get in the taxi. Once in, the rest of the crew ambushes the car and slams the door shut before the driver knows what hit him. Then we just shout directions at the driver and he takes off with his head in a frenzy.

We tried having pizza...closed. We tried having Ethiopian food...closed. If you've never been to China, you would not believe the amount of stores that open and close in any given month.

I definately didn't bring my 'A' game on this trip. I forgot important documents, tried to take our family to places that no longer existed and then left my immunizations on the window ledge at our hostel. (I realize that sounded weird as I typed it. Many times, we just buy our vaccinations and bring them back and have a nurse/friend inject the vaccine. I was trying to keep mine cold by putting it by the window.)

But, we made it. This is how the girls and I spent New Year's Eve. Now we are home, doing laundry and catching up. By the way, 2010 is going to be a year of joy for us. That's going to be my prayer and focus for the year....the entire year....not just January 1-5. (That's about how long my Trapper Keepers stayed organized while in school too. For the first week, I was organized and tidy. After that, it was over. I'm going to try and make it all year long this time.)

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