Thursday, May 28, 2009

Hymn of the Week--He Touched Me

We have begun going back through our list of hymns. I'll try to publish the whole list and ask for suggestions on ones we missed the first time through. I know what you'll say about this week's "hymn." Bill Gaither? I grew up in the change over period. We still sang from the hymnal every Sunday, but "choruses" had made their way into the pages. This is one of those that I still love. I love the idea of Christ's initiation. I didn't reach out for him. He touched me and made me whole.

Hymn of the Week
He Touched Me
Words and music by Bill Gaither

Shackled by a heavy burden
Need the Lord again and shame
Then the hand of Jesus touched me
And now I am no longer the same

For He touched me, He touched me
He touched me and what a wonderful joy
What wonderful joy that foods my soul
Something happened and now I know
He touched me and made me whole

NOTE: Do a search on IMEEM and see all of the people that have sung this song. Elvis, Barbara Streisand, The Isaacs, Donny Reagan, George Beverly Shea, Benny Hinn and many more. I like the version below.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Small Group Camping

From Small Group Camping

We meet with a group of people every other Sunday night to study, discuss, worship, and get to know each other. Five families, more than 20 kids, 3 babysitters, 1 house. It is an often rich and chaotic time. These are the kids that we imagine our kids growing up with in Sunday School and youth group. These are the families we imagine walking with in good and bad, mourning and rejoicing.

This weekend we went camping with most of the small group. We missed those who weren't able to come, but we had a grand time with those who did. Here are a few of my highlights.
  • Walking into the campsite and looking out to the river, looking up at the huge trees and knowing that we were going to enjoy ourselves.
  • Seeing Madelyn dive into the river and come up with a HUGE smile.
  • Watching (and not watching) the boys play in the woods with all of the other kids.
  • Getting in the tent at the end of the night and then getting out again once the kids were asleep.
  • Campfire
  • Preparing food over the fire with the guys.
  • Hiking with my boys and the other dads and kids.
We had such a good time that we are hoping to make this a tradition. You can see all of our pictures here.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


I love living with boys. Every day is an adventure. I think this will only grow as the boys get older. For our read aloud book at night, we are currently reading Robert Newton Peck's "Soup and Me" or "Soup 3 Me" as Caleb call's it. This is a CLASSIC boys' book. It is part of the genera of elementary school books like, "Ramona" and "Henry and Ribsy". I loved these books growing up. The boys have really enjoyed "Soup and Me." Ben has even wanted to read ahead. My favorite scene is in the first chapter when the boys decided to take an early spring dip in the pond buck nude. Their clothes are stolen by the dreaded Janice Reiker and they have to sneak home in skirts and dresses that they steal from a Goodwill box. We all got a kick out of that.

Yesterday in a scene right out of "Soup and Me," I came home and Amanda yelled to me, "Andy, come back here quick."

She pointed up to the tree and said, "Look at Ben."

He was at the very top of our pine tree in the back, past the telephone wires. I love that he is becoming adventurous and spreading his wings. When he got down, I gave him a high five and said, "Let's not go quite that far any more."

Monday, May 18, 2009

Why Butterfinger is the perfect candybar

I consider myself to be a bit of a candy aficionado from a long line of candy aficionados. I remember many a night when my dad made a candy bar run. He would come back with one of each of us. Mom's was always a Chunky and the others varied. I have traditionally been more of a sugary candy lover. When we were growing up, Joey and I would collect bottles in the wagon and walk the few miles to the nearest drug store and turn the bottles in for $.10 a piece. (We lived in Michigan.) Splitting our profit we would each get a small bag of Laffy Taffy, SweetTarts, wax lips, pixie sticks, etc.

Just recently I have taken a greater liking to candy bars. I appreciate the traditional Snickers. My favorite of the new ones is Take 5. But Amanda and I both agree that the best one is a Butterfinger. It is the perfect mix of chocolate, salty, sweet, crunchy, chewy. Mmmm. I'm actually about to finish one off right now. I love an afternoon snack of a Butterfinger and the remaining gulps of my morning coffee.

How about you? Sugar candy? Chocolate? What's the one that you reach for when you need a sugar fix?

Friday, May 15, 2009


We are done! The boys spent their second night in their new bedroom down stairs. Last night we watched our first Thursday night shows in our new family room. Yesterday we said our official goodbye to our new friend Phil the Carpenter. We are very blessed.

Remodel recap: Two months ago we hired Piper Construction to finish our basement. They were to complete a bedroom with egress window, a bathroom and a family room with a new gas fireplace. Here are a few before pictures.

Then the wizards from Piper Construction, Ben and Phil, went to work and we now have something that we could not be more pleased with.

Here is a list of my favorite things about the remodel.
  • The boys hanging out with Phil everyday. Phil being so kind and gentle with them and including them in his work.
  • Getting to know Ben and Phil.
  • The fireplace
  • The details--puppet window, the two extra inches Ben bought us coming down the stairs, the clean and interesting lines.
I cannot say enough about Piper Construction and their professionalism, workmanship, timeliness (They finished earlier than expected), and general care for our project, ideas and family. We did not imagine coming to care for our contractor the way that we have. On their website it says that their missions is "To become your life-long contractor by meeting all your remodeling needs with care that exceeds your expectations." Ben, Phil, MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! Thanks for your work and everything else.

We are now excited to begin to share our new space. If you're interested, drop in and see it. We are thinking about other ways for us to open this space and work on our hospitality. Amanda and I both love having people in our home, but are not "naturals." I am praying that God will use this new space to push us to growth in this area.

A little boy named James came to our house

While Brad and Sarah are camping with Brad's friend Seth, James has come to our house. Amanda said this morning that when Sarah was pregnant with James, she and Sarah talked about sleep-overs that the cousins would have. When she found out that she was having a boy, she called Amanda and said, "I guess they won't be having sleep-overs." James joined us in our bed this morning a little after 6:30. He did a great job sleeping last night. No problems. We're looking forward to a fun weekend with Cousin James.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Why I love church 3

On a continuing theme, this is another reason why I love our church. After Pastor John went through all of this in his intro to last Sunday's sermon, Amanda leaned over to me and said, "Exactly."


Some of you may have little or no experience with what I mean by preaching. I think it will help you listen to my messages if I say a word about it.

What I mean by preaching is expository exultation.

Preaching Is Expository

Expository means that preaching aims to exposit, or explain and apply, the meaning of the Bible. The reason for this is that the Bible is God's word, inspired, infallible, profitable—all 66 books of it.

The preacher's job is to minimize his own opinions and deliver the truth of God. Every sermon should explain the Bible and then apply it to people's lives.

The preacher should do that in a way that enables you to see that the points he is making actually come from the Bible. If you can't see that they come from the Bible, your faith will end up resting on a man and not on God's word.

The aim of this exposition is to help you eat and digest biblical truth that will

  • make your spiritual bones more like steel,
  • double the capacity of your spiritual lungs,
  • make the eyes of your heart dazzled with the brightness of the glory of God,
  • and awaken the capacity of your soul for kinds of spiritual enjoyment you didn't even know existed.

Preaching Is Exultation

Preaching is also exultation. This means that the preacher does not just explain what's in the Bible, and the people do not simply try understand what he explains. Rather, the preacher and the people exult over what is in the Bible as it is being explained and applied.

Preaching does not come after worship in the order of the service. Preaching is worship. The preacher worships—exults—over the word, trying his best to draw you into a worshipful response by the power of the Holy Spirit.

My job is not simply to see truth and show it to you. (The devil could do that for his own devious reasons.) My job is to see the glory of the truth and to savor it and exult over it as I explain it to you and apply it for you. That's one of the differences between a sermon and a lecture.

Preaching Isn't Church, but It Serves the Church

Preaching is not the totality of the church. And if all you have is preaching, you don't have the church. A church is a body of people who minister to each other.

One of the purposes of preaching is to equip us for that and inspire us to love each other better.

But God has created the church so that she flourishes through preaching. That's why Paul gave young pastor Timothy one of the most serious, exalted charges in all the Bible in 2 Timothy 4:1-2:

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word.

What to Expect from My Preaching and Why

If you're used to a twenty-minute, immediately practical, relaxed talk, you won't find that from what I've just described.

  • I preach twice that long;
  • I do not aim to be immediately practical but eternally helpful;
  • and I am not relaxed.

I standing vigilantly on the precipice of eternity speaking to people who this week could go over the edge whether they are ready to or not. I will be called to account for what I said there.

That's what I mean by preaching.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Why I love church 2

I wrote a post very similar to this in November, but I've got to reiterate. I love church because, at church, God works to help me step outside of myself. I am a self-centered person. But at church, I get to see people loving God, loving each other, struggling, overcoming and it helps me to join them. Yesterday, for Mother's Day, our church dedicated babies and gave each of the mothers of those babies red roses. It also had large vases of white roses at the front of the sanctuary. Pastor John explained that Mother's Day is an amazing day for many and a difficult day for just as many. Many women (and the men who love them) have struggled with infertility, lost babies to miscarriage, still birth, the death of a child or even worse, the spiritual death of a child. Pastor John encouraged women to come up after the service and take a rose. For the offertory, they sang the song "Hide Away in the Love of Jesus" (play song below). During this, I watched one man across the sanctuary weep. I prayed for him and thanked God for His church and his great love and mercy in choosing me to be a part of it.

We live in a world of here, but not yet. Our church tries to be a part of these two paradigms. We celebrate Mother's Day, but recognize that not everyone is able to celebrate this. We praise and lament. We worship and confess. We are both Holy and broken. This is one of the reasons that I love church and need it so much.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Hymn of the Week--For the Beauty of the Earth

A little late this week.

Hymn of the Week
For the Beauty of the Earth
Words by Folliot S. Pierpoint
Music by Conrad Kocher

For the beauty of the earth
For the glory of the skies,
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies.
Lord of all, to Thee we raise,
This our hymn of grateful praise.

Remodel Update

The contractors have left the building. Yesterday Phil the carpenter left after completing his punch list and loading all of his tools into his trailer. Tony the electrician is finishing up a couple of other little things today. Our plan is to finish some touch up painting tonight and get to cleaning this weekend. Carpet should arrive some time next week and we should be living down there by next weekend, Lord willing. Then we'll do the official "unveil" on the blog for everyone. I can feel the suspense.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Quotes: Screen time

From Ben after a few days of camping, playing outside and generally being busy.

"Can I play with your iPod?"


"Please! I haven't had any screen time in two days!"

Monday, May 4, 2009

Uncle Brad

One other thing that I wanted to write about when we lost Caleb was how much I love Brad. When we figured out that we had left Caleb on the trail, Brad didn't even hesitate. He said, "I'll run back," and he took off. Brad has never hesitated to love our kids. From the moment that he arrived at the hospital in his Junior year at Calvin, to meet Benjamin for the first time, he has been an amazing uncle to our kids. He is one of their favorite playmates, all-time best storyteller and one of their biggest idols. We all believe in Bradleyman.

Thanks, Brad. We love you.

Busy weekend

We had a busy weekend at the Gammons house. Saturday we did our second annual Gammons/Nagel Guys' Campout at Interstate State Park. It was another great time of hanging out and making memories with Dave, Brad and our boys. Highlights included our losing and evntual findinf of Caleb on our hike. We got seperated and Brad and I thought Dave had him and vise versa. When Brad and I got back to the campsite to see that Caleb was not there we both booked it back down the path. I was praying the whole time I was running. About a mile down the path, Brad met up with Caleb and a man who had seen him and was walking him back to the campground. Caleb was fine, but a little scared. Another highlight was how cold it was at night. Dave was sleeping in a bright orange sleeping bag that said on the bag "comfortable to 45 degrees." I think we tested it, and it failed. He didn't get a lot of sleep. We had a great time though all in all.

On Sunday, we had the boys' end of the year program for their homeschool co-op. It was very nice. Ben and Caleb quoted the Apostle's Creed. Then we all had some snacks while students did musical performances. Ben and Shube did a duet of "New World Symphony". Shube has been giving Ben piano lessons for a few months. He's doing well.

It was a great weekend. We are a little tired. You can see all of our photos from the weekend here. It looks like our remodel will be complete this week. We have a lot of cleaning up to do and the carpet will arrive in a couple of weeks. I think we'll be living down there by mid-May. We can't wait.