Saturday, June 27, 2009

Quotes: Talk to me

This evening I had to give the boys a spanking. Matthew laid on the bed, then rolling over he said, "I just want you to talk to me."

The kids' Christmas wish list

Here's a picture of what the kids want for Christmas.
PSALM 127:3-5
Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
the fruit of the womb a reward.
4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the children of one's youth.
5 Blessed is the man
who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame
when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.
JAMES 1:16-18
16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. 18 Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
God has once again blessed us with the gift of a child. Amanda is pregnant. We stand amazed at how, even as we fail and prove faithless, God "with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change" shows himself faithful.

We went to Amanda's first appointment on Monday. She had some bleeding over the weekend so we went to an ultrasound yesterday. Everything looks good. The baby is a little over 12 weeks. The baby is 6 centimeters long, but already we could see it's complete form, head, spine, arms and legs. It had it's hands in front of it's face. Already sucking it's hands?
JOB 10:11-12
You clothed me with skin and flesh,
and knit me together with bones and sinews.
12 You have granted me life and steadfast love,
and your care has preserved my spirit.
PSALM 139:13-16
For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.
The estimated due date is 01/01/10. We think that it will probably be before the new year though because of the cesarean. Thanks for reading and thanks for loving us and celebrating with us. We love you all.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Quotes: Over weight

After we told the kids that Amanda was pregnant, Benjamin asked the following question.
"Mom, when will you start to get overweight?"
No offense to those of you who are already "showing".

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

It's our anniversary!

Nine years ago I married Amanda in my mom's backyard. Since then God has used her to draw me closer to him and to bring me much joy. I am so thankful to Him for Amanda. I look forward to the coming years and all that God will bring our way.

Enjoy the song below. Amanda sings the chorus to me at least once each anniversary. (We sang it today at lunch.)

Monday, June 22, 2009

What do I believe and why?

I have been having some interesting conversations lately with a friend about my faith. He asks challenging and penetrating questions with a level of respect that I appreciate. As I have thought about his questions, it has led me to rethink and refine some of my answers.

Providentially, this weekend I listened to a White Horse Inn podcast entitled "Why is Christianity True?" The program focused on apologetics. They asked some Christians the question, "Why do you believe in the Gospel?" The answers they got back were almost all something like, "Because it has changed my life." This is not good enough. As they said, this could be the answer for any faith that a person held, Islam, Hinduism, Oprah, etc. The only reason to believe something is because it is based on true things. They pointed to I Corinthians 15, where Paul defends the faith that he holds.
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.
Paul here is appealing to things that are provable by eyewitness accounts.  Of course the interpretation of those accounts could be different.  Someone could say that they all lied or that they were all deranged, but that is an interpretation of the accounts.  The above is a great definition of the Gospel.  It's a great definition of what I believe.  I believe it because it is true and because it really happened.  You could argue that it didn't really happen, but if it did, then its true and it should be believed.

I read this chapter over again last night and was once again struck by the gift of faith that God has given me that allows me to believe this.  I have prayed for many people in my life that God would give them a similar gift.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Ask and ye shall receive

Providentially, Pastor John posted this Taste and See article about enjoying God's gifts today. I think this speaks to many of the questions and issues from my earlier post.

I found the following helpful.
"Enjoyment is becoming idolatrous when it is not permeated with gratitude. When our enjoyment of something tends to make us not think of God, it is moving toward idolatry. But if the enjoyment gives rise to the feeling of gratefulness to God, we are being protected from idolatry. The grateful feeling that we don’t deserve this gift or this enjoyment, but have it freely from God’s grace, is evidence that idolatry is being checked.
Enjoyment is becoming idolatrous when its loss ruins our trust in the goodness of God. There can be sorrow at loss without being idolatrous. But when the sorrow threatens our confidence in God, it signals that the thing lost was becoming an idol.
Enjoyment is becoming idolatrous when its loss paralyzes us emotionally so that we can’t relate lovingly to other people. This is the horizontal effect of losing confidence in God. Again: Great sorrow is no sure sign of idolatry. Jesus had great sorrow. But when desire is denied, and the effect is the emotional inability to do what God calls us to do, the warning signs of idolatry are flashing."
I'd love to hear your comments on any of this and the previous post as well.

How to treasure Christ above His gifts

Something that I have been thinking a lot about lately due to some sermons on Wednesday night and other wrestlings is "How do I love and treasure God above the many gifts that He has given to me?"

For instance, do I love Jesus and His glory more than I love the fact that He has forgiven me (so that I can have a clear conscience)? Do I love the gift of my family that God has given me more than Jesus? Do I love the gift of the church that God has given me more than I love Jesus?

Pastor John asked the question last Wednesday, "If you were given the chance to go to heaven and have no more pain or sorrow and to walk the streets of gold and to see all of your loved ones, but God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit would not be there, would you go?" He got into some of his thoughts taken from his "God is the gospel" book and series of sermons. My understanding of this idea is that God gives us many gifts the primary one being the death of His son Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins. The reason that He does this though is so that we might not have simply forgiveness, but that we might have the ULTIMATE gift, HIMSELF.

I find myself often struggling with my pride, self-centeredness, loving myself more than God. I long to love Jesus more than anything. I think that the way that this happens is only through suffering. When we are stripped of all that we have, maybe only then can we truly love what is left. What a scary thing! What do you think? Have you thought about this before? How do you struggle to love Jesus?

Watch this video from Pastor John about suffering. Is this the gift that you are longing for? Do I love Jesus enough to suffer for him to show others about him? These are terribly difficult questions for me. I don't know what to do with them.

I long to love Jesus this much. I long to get to heaven and have the first thing on my mind is to see Jesus!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

One of the funnier things I've seen in a while

I read some tech blogs in the morning and one of them recently featured Improv Everywhere. They are a group in New York that does pranks in public. My favorite one is where they have hundreds of people freeze at the exact same moment in Grand Central Station and stay frozen for five minutes.

They do all of these things just to make people smile and laugh. Here's another one. They had a bunch of people dress up in blue polo shirts and khaki pants and go into a Best Buy in NYC. When asked what they were doing, they all replied, "Just waiting for my friend." As you can see in the video, the Best Buy employees got a little worked up and called the police. The police had to explain to the security that it is not against the law to wear a blue polo and khaki pants in Best Buy. Hilarious.

You can see more of their "missions" here.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Hymn of the Week--The Love of God

Per Dave's suggestion, this weeks hymn is The Love of God.

"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Romans 8: 35 & 37-39

Hymn of the Week
 The Love of God
Words & music by Fredrick M. Lehman
The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star,
And reaches to the lowest hell;
The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled,
And pardoned from his sin.
O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure
The saints’ and angels’ song.

Best Pizza in St. Paul, MN

This weekend, Amanda, Shube, the kids and I all were jonesing for some pizza. Abigail had recommended a pizza joint in St. Paul, but we couldn't remember the name. Through the marvels of modern communication, I instant messaged Tom and we were on our way to Red Savoy's Pizza in minutes.

When Amanda and I want to go out for pizza we want a place where we can sit down and be served. We aren't looking for a lot of frills, just some good 'za. Red's Savoy had just that. The outside of the restaurant looks pretty ramshackled. It's right at the intersectino of I-94 and Highway 52. The inside looks like it has not been touched since the 1960's. The lights are low and the atmosphere is perfect. But what about the 'za? We ordered a peperoni pizza for me and the boys and a tomato, green pepper and mushroom for the girls. The peperoni was amazing. We counted six layers of peperoni and tons of cheese. The pizza is a traditional hand tossed and the sauce is very good.

If you're looking for a good pizza in the Twin Cities, check out Red's Savoy. The also have some other locations that do delivery.

Happy Birthday, Amanda

Today is Amanda's birthday. God has given her 31 years of life and given us more than 10 years of love and almost 9 years of marriage. With four small children at home who are always in need of our attention, Amanda is not celebrated nearly as much as she should be. I love you, Amanda. Thank you for how you give of yourself to teach our children about God's love and how you selflessly work toward our vision for our family. I look forward to 31 more years with you at my side.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Stop by and say hello!

Lately, 2ABC2M has spread to a little bit wider audience. With links from The Responsible Puppet, abigail's leftovers, and 22 Words, our traffic rate has picked up. I think we're getting more traffic from people at Bethlehem especially. Amanda and I met someone at church last night that said, "I've been on your blog so I always smile at you when I see you." It is always good to meet someone in person that may only know you virtually. So let's make some connections.

If you're someone new to our blog, WELCOME! Like Molly said, "You may be a stranger, but you're not a stalker." Drop a comment and then introduce yourself at church. There are a couple of people that I need to introduce myself to this Sunday. Is it weird to say to someone "I know you from your Twitter feed."?

John Piper and Hip-Hop

For those of you that don't get to hear Pastor John on a regular basis, here's a tidbit.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Quotes: Texas

Yesterday, Amanda brought all of the kids up to my office. I took them around to meet a number of my colleagues. One of my bosses is from Texas and has a great accent. When we met him, I said to the kids, "Can you tell where he grew up?"

Ben piped right up and said, "Texas!"

"How can you tell that?," I said.

I think Ben was a little embarrassed about being so eager, because he pointed to his silver belt buckle and said, "His belt."

Monday, June 8, 2009

Hymn of the Week poll

Hymn of the Week--I Stand Amazed in the Presence

After getting some great suggestions on further hymns, we have decided to not go back and repeat our list. We sang this hymn in church yesterday. I LOVE IT! I will include all of the verses below. They are all so rich. The theme of this one and many that I love is the amazing love that God has for "a sinner, condemned, unclean" like me. I always like when the last verse of the hymn ends in heaven. It's a great preview of our eventual consummation.

Hymn of the Week
I Stand Amazed in the Presence
Words by Charles H. Gabriel
Music by Edwin O. Excell
I stand amazed in the presence
Of Jesus the Nazarene,
And wonder how He could love me,
A sinner, condemned, unclean.
O how marvelous! O how wonderful!
And my song shall ever be:
O how marvelous! O how wonderful!
Is my Savior’s love for me!
For me it was in the garden
He prayed: “Not My will, but Thine.”
He had no tears for His own griefs,
But sweat drops of blood for mine.
In pity angels beheld Him,
And came from the world of light
To comfort Him in the sorrows
He bore for my soul that night.
He took my sins and my sorrows,
He made them His very own;
He bore the burden to Calvary,
And suffered and died alone.
When with the ransomed in glory
His face I at last shall see,
’Twill be my joy through the ages
To sing of His love for me.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Why I'm Tweeting

I have been doing Facebook and Twitter for work for the past few months. I have accounts that are used to keep prospective and current students up-to-date about what's going on at the college. Yesterday I started my own Twitter account. Here's why.
  • There were people that I wanted to follow that I couldn't do with my work account. @JohnPiper, @garciasn, @jgammons, @DoddsRootBeer
  • Twitter is a text based way to social network. One of the things that I hate about Facebook is when I'm using it for work and I come across photos of students that I wish I hadn't seen.
  • It has been good to get to know people better through their blogs. I think this will be a further way to do that.
So follow me on Twitter. @towngie

If you don't want to do Twitter or if you just want to see a little bit of what it's like, check out the Twitter widget over on the right side of the blog.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

We love Costco!

Reality Check

Hymn of the Week--Our list so far

We have been doing the Hymn of the Week for the last couple of years. We have only been posting them here since August of last year. It has been a great way to invite others into our family worship. When we get together with family her in town they often already know what hymn we're doing that week and gladly join in. So here is the list of hymns that we have done so far. I'm sure we've missed writing some of them down, but I think we've gotten most of them.

  • Rock of Ages
  • Love Lifted Me
  • Have You Any Room For Jesus
  • Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us
  • Trust and Obey
  • Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise
  • Wonderful Grace of Jesus
  • What Can Wash Away My Sins?
  • When We All Get To Heaven
  • The Old Rugged Cross
  • What a Friend We Have In Jesus
  • Blessed Assurance
  • Great Is Thy Faithfulness
  • Standing On the Promises
  • My Country 'Tis of Thee
  • When The Roll Is Called Up Yonder
  • My Faith Has Found a Resting Place
  • O How I Love Jesus
  • Count Your Blessings
  • I Need Thee Every Hour
  • Fairest Lord Jesus
  • He Touched Me
  • Jesus Paid It All
  • All Creatures of Our God and King
  • Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee
  • How Firm a Foundation
  • Like a River Glorious
  • Jesus Saves!
  • In My Heart There Rings a Melody
  • O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus
  • There Is a Fountain Filled With Blood
  • Come, Ye Thankful People, Come
  • Angels, From the Realms of Glory
  • Have Thine Own Way, Lord
  • May The Mind of Christ, My Savior
  • I Surrender All
  • Day By Day
  • Redeemed, How I Love to Proclaim It
  • Our Great Savior
  • I Must Tell Jesus
  • When Morning Guilds The Sky
  • All The Way My Savior Leads Me
  • For the Beauty of the Earth
Have we missed your favorite? Are there any you don't know? Give us some feedback and suggestions. Thanks for reading (and maybe even singing.)

Monday, June 1, 2009

Hymn of the Week--Jesus Paid It All

When we did this hymn last night Benjamin said, "We've already done this one." That was good to hear. We explained that we are going to do the ones that we've already done again. At least he is remembering them. We sing the version below at church. It's a good one.

Hymn of the WeekJesus Paid It All
Words by Elvina M. Hall
Music by John T. Grape

I hear the Savior say,
“Thy strength indeed is small;
Child of weakness, watch and pray,
Find in Me thine all in all.”
Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.

Jim Spiegel on Jon & Kate

I have only watched this show a couple of times, but Amanda loves it. Every time we go to her mom's (cable), Amanda looks to check in with the Gosselins. I think Spiegel has some great insights. You can read his article here.