This little book is packed with important principles for the role of parents based on Scripture. It’s easy to read, it’s clear, it’s practical, it convicts, it’s inexpensive. It presents concisely what it means to disciple your own children at home.

Every parent should read this. And when you need to be reminded of why God gave you a family, read it again. Or when you lose sight of the big picture as a parent as you deal with the headaches of the day-to-day, read it again.

Day 9 Matthew 2:3

I can be a child of God, be a follower of Jesus for years, and yet some days I can live as if he’s not there.

“Let this Christmas be the time when you consider the Messiah and ponder what it is to worship him.”

Day 5-8

Day 5 Luke 2:6-7

This is my favorite advent devotional so far. Jesus did not take any detours to Calvary. “For your sake he became poor.” (2 Cor 8:9)

“Now if you would think that if God so rules the world…, he surely could have seen to it that a room was available in the inn…The Calvary road begins with a ‘No Vacancy’ sign in Bethlehem and ends with the spitting and scoffing of the cross in Jerusalem.”

Day 6 Luke 2:12-14

When I do not pray and trust God, I cannot experience the peace of God.

“The people who enjoy the peace of God that surpasses all understanding are those who in everything by prayer and supplication let their requests be made to known to God.”

Day 7 Matthew 2:1-2

I take it for granted that as a Gentile I can be saved. If Jesus did not come, salvation would only come to me if I adopt Jewish customs. That may be fun, but very inconvenient at the least.

“So Matthew adds proof to the messiahship of Jesus and shows that he is Messiah – the king and Promise-Fulfiller – for all the nations, not just Israel.

Day 8 Matthew 2:2

We should allow ourselves to have things that we will never understand. This keeps us humble and in awe of God who does know everything.

“Over and over the Bible baffles our curiosity about just how certain things happened. How did this ‘star’ get the magi from the east to Jerusalem?”

Day 4

 

Day 4 Luke 2:1-5

God moves world affairs in order to fulfill his plan in the lives of two unknown ordinary people. He can both macro manage the world and micro manage my life.

“For it is implicit in Scripture that all the mammoth political forces and all the giant industrial complexes, without them even knowing it, are being guided by God, not for their own sake but for the sake of God’s little people – the little Mary and the little Joseph who have to be got from Nazareth to Bethlehem. God wields an empire to bless his children.”

Days 1-3 

04
Dec

I started on December 1 to meditate on a daily advent devotional, following John Piper’s plan.

Here are some of my thoughts.

Day 1 Luke 1:16-17

Focusing on Jesus is not as easy as it seems. I am too familiar with the Christmas account that it has lost some of the grandeur and awe for me. Let’s prepare our hearts to receive Jesus afresh.

“Gather ’round that fire this Advent season. It is warm. It is sparkling with colors of grace. It is healing for a thousand hurts. It is light for dark nights.”

Day 2 Luke 1:46-55

God manifests himself to the ordinary. Look for him among the least of these. Be one of the lowly.

“The only people whose soul can truly magnify the Lord are people like Elizabeth and Mary – people who acknowledge their lowly estate and are overwhelmed by the condescension of the magnificent God.”

Day 3 Luke 1:68-71

Jesus came to save his people, but not in the way the Jews expected. Am I also so short-sighted to expect him to only save me from my circumstances?

“These are the days of great expectation. Now the long awaited visitation of God was about to happen – indeed, he was about to come in a way no one expected.”

Day 4 

My son recommended the book, and then took me to see the movie (3D, with reclining sofa seats!)

As always the book is much better than the movie. A movie made it look easy to survive alone on Mars for over a year. The book was pretty exciting, capturing all the hurdles he went over using science, and the amusing personality of Mark Watney.

I read a review that said something like: don’t ever get stranded on Mars, and if you do, you better be really smart.

The book, though not based on true events or anything, made me appreciate how smart astronauts have to be.

03
Oct

You would think Jesus only got angry at evil guys, so I was pretty scared when I read this in Mark 3:5 -

“And [Jesus] looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart…”

He was angry at the Pharisees for caring more about the Sabbath laws than about a man’s life. They weren’t murderers or rapists. They were upright citizens who followed the law.

While the name Pharisees has a well-deserved bad connotation, I sympathize with them. The Sabbath laws were instituted to keep the Jews holy. In OT history, they disregarded God’s laws and went their own evil ways, reaping the consequences of God’s judgment. The strict laws of the Pharisees were to insure that Israel will not sin against God.

Maintaining the laws became an obsession and lost it’s original intent of fellowship with God. It lost basic common sense.

I sympathize because to be honest, I’ve seen myself caring more about maintaining a nice neat structure than the people it is suppose to serves. You don’t mean to serve the structure, but it subtly creeps up on you.

Especially in working with children, we want the children to “fall in line, get with the program, be obedient”. We end up managing outward behavior to fit the mold than ministering to their needs. This is something I am constantly aware of. Children ministry is not managing behavior. It’s reaching their hearts.

I guess that’s why I like changes. I like to start things over so we can all remember what and why we do what we do. We focus back on people, and then form the structure to serve their needs.

 

 

10
Sep

A reminder to myself – another way of saying “It’s not how long you life, but how well you live.”

“You never know when your time is going to expire, so remember: as you add years to your life, it is more important to add life to your years.”  Barbara Johnson

 

12
Aug

I heard this on the radio today that I want to remember:

“Salvation is not just a decision for Christ; it’s continual dependency on Christ.”

Everything about our Christian life is about Jesus.

In the America culture where we value independence, we often live the Christian life by doing things for Jesus. I need to remember to focus on Jesus, not on what I do for him.

 

 

Came across this article from Aaron’s blog.

“Slow traffic, a sick child, or a costly home repair may not seem like important tools in our sanctification, but they are. We often overlook these interruptions and inconveniences and instead expect God to work in our lives through huge life-changing circumstances. But the reality is, we won’t often have major events in our life that cause us to trust God and obey him in some deeply profound way. We won’t be called to build an ark or take an only child up Mt. Moriah. Rather, it’s in these small frustrations and interruptions, the little things in our life, where we are given opportunities to rely on God, to obey him, and bring him glory.” 

The rest of the article is worth reading.

Picked up this book from the library from the Juvenile section for a quick read about Amy Tan, the author of The Joy Luck Club.

I thought Amy Tan was a great story teller, making up the complicated lives for her characters in The Joy Luck Club. Now I find out those are based of true events in her family, particularly her mother’s life. I have a greater appreciation for her after knowing her difficult crazy family background.

Her second book The Kitchen God’s Wife is based on her mother’s life. I didn’t want to read it before, but now maybe I will.

 

Heard these today that struck me -

You start off walking with Jesus and end up working for Jesus.

Ephesians 3:1 Paul is a prisoner of Christ, not prisoner of Nero. Christ put him in prison for His purposes.

How do you appropriate Christ into your life? How do you lean on Him?

 

04
May

For some reason, every dream I have about going to the bathroom is a bad dream. I’ve had dreams of bathrooms that are filthy, flooded, with weird shaped toilets, with too many people around, with no doors, with doors that do not lock, with multiple doors that pop open, in a creepy basement, in an old shack on a cliff, in a maze that I can’t find…

Last night, my nightmare bathroom was full of spiders! I was sitting on the toilet fighting off spiders in my hair and crawling up my leg! And I’m allergic to spiders, I said in my dream. (I’m not in real life. I just don’t like them!)

In the meantime, my senior pastor is waiting for me outside in the car to take a group of us to the market. After my ordeal in the bathroom, I went to his Hummer with an open top, apologizing for taking so long, and he was perfectly patient and smiled as he usually does in real life.

I don’t look forward to the next bathroom nightmare.

29
Apr

There are many things in the book Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret that have greatly encouraged me and given me deeper understanding of life in Christ. This biography is written by Howard and Geraldine Taylor, Hudson’s son and daughter in law, a condensed version of a two-volume biography.

Here are some highlights for me:

I am no longer anxious about anything, as I realize this; for he, I know, is able to carry out his will, and his will is mine. It makes no matter where he places, or house. That is rather for him to consider than for me; for in the easiest position he must give me his grace, and in the most difficult his grace is sufficient. p.123

“But are you always conscious of abiding in Christ?” Hudson Taylor was asked many years later. “While sleeping last night,” he replied, “did I ceased to abide in your home because I was unconscious of the fact? We should never be conscious of not abiding in Christ.” p.124

One difficulty follows another very fast…but God reigns, not chance. p.129

John 7:37 ‘If any man thirst, let him come and to me and drink.’ Who does not thirst? Who has not mind–thirsts, heart–thirsts, soul-thirsts or body- thirsts? Well, no matter which, or whether I have them all – ‘Come unto me and’ remain thirsty? Ah no!…, Can Jesus meet my need? Yes, and more than meet it. No matter how intricate my path, how difficult my service; no matter how sad my bereavement, how far away my loved ones; no matter how helpless I am, how deep my soul-yearnings – Jesus can meet all, all, and more than meet…He not only promises me to drink to alleviate my thirst. No, better than that! ‘He who trusts me in this matter (who believeth in me, takes me at my word), out of him shall flow…’ [John 7:38] Can it be? Can the dry and thirsty one not only be refreshed – the parched soil moistened, the arid places cooled – but the land be so saturated that springs well up and streams flow down from it? Even so!…The cause of thirst may be irremediable. One coming, one drinking may refresh and comfort: but we are to be ever coming, ever drinking. No fear of emptying the fountain or exhausting the river! p.129-130

 

23
Apr

While conversion to Islam is a concern to many Christians, implicit in the study is that birth rate also will play a part in Islam’s accelerated growth. According to Pew Research, Muslims have the highest fertility rate globally – an average of 3.1 children per woman; Christians are second, at 2.7 children per woman. The “replacement” level – the minimum typically needed to maintain a stable population – is 2.1 children per woman. – from OneNewsNow

It makes me sad when Christian couples choose not to have children, or do not want a “large” family: “Oh, one or at most two kids are enough!” Or I see couples wait to have children, and waited too long that the biological clock of the woman catches up and does not allow her to have more than one child. Christians, above all others should value children because God values children. The Bible has nothing negative to say about children.

Yes, I understand it’s a choice. We are not “commanded” by God to have a certain number of children. I am just bothered by the attitude that children are “hard to raise today” or “expensive” or “we want time to ourselves” or “there’s so much we want to do that we can’t do once we have kids” rather than the blessing that God says they are. What if kids will give you more fun than the traveling you want to do? What if kids are the best use of your money than the vacation you are paying for? What if kids will enrich your life more than anything you could be involved in? What if kids are actually worth all the time and energy you invest? Why do people automatically assume that everything else they want to do is better than kids?

Whenever a parent tells me that they are not sure whether or not they should have another child, I tell them that I’ve never heard any parent regret having more kids, but I do hear parents wishing they had more.

 

 

 

 

 

Pastor A asked if I would like to read Drucker and Me.  Being that my husband and I are in business, he thought I would like the book. Peter Drucker, known as the guru of management, was required reading in any management class of my generation. I don’t know about now, but his principles and insights still holds true today.

Pastor A gave me one week to read the book. It’s a good thing he did or it would take me months as I like to read several books at one time.

The book, written by Bob Buford who was mentored by Drucker, gave me insights about the mega churches that I didn’t know. Leadership Network is a product of Drucker’s advice to Buford.

While Drucker had a big influence on the growth of mega churches, I didn’t get the sense that he loved the church. I think he loved the idea of what an effective church can do for society, which is not a bad thing. He taught Buford that a well managed church is making the church to be better at what it’s meant to be, not to make it function like a business.

Overall, I liked the book and learned from it. As with all books, I don’t remember much details of what I read. But then, I don’t remember what I ate for dinner last Friday, but I know it nourished and changed me.

From Jesus Calling by Sarah Young:

“Walk by faith, not by sight…When I gave you My Spirit, I empowered you to live beyond your natural ability and strength. That’s why it is so wrong to measure your energy level against the challenges ahead of you. The issue is not your strength but Mine, which is limitless. By walking close to Me, you can accomplish My purposes in My strength.” – March 11

I love reading missionary biographies such as Gladys Aylward and Hudson Taylor. They accomplished incredible things for God and I wondered, how did they have the physical strength? How did Gladys Aylward walk many days without food and caring for over 100 children? How did Hudson Taylor suffer through the poor conditions of the China interiors? How do many of our present day missionaries find the courage to do those difficult things for God?

I should not measure my abilities with the challenges ahead. I have God’s strength which is limitless.

On leadership: Is it more important what you do or who you are?

“The best thing you can bring to leadership is your own transforming self.” – forgot where I heard that.

23
Feb

I said I would read one book at a time, but I broke that rule. There are so many books I want to read. So I buy them and read a couple of chapters from each.

I bought several Francis and Lisa Chan’s new book You and Me Forever to support their ministry.

Some quotes I like:

Sometimes people are paralyzed by fear of failure. They are so afraid that they might do the wrong thing that they do nothing. We need to learn to err on the side of action, because we tend to default to negligence…. For example: Why not assume you should adopt kids unless you hear a voice telling you not to? That seems more biblical since God has told us that true religion is to care for the widows and orphans (James 1:27) … One reason we don’t err on the side of action is the harsh criticism we receive when we fail. People are quick to point out action that ends badly. But we rarely recognize the sin of omission. We criticize the guy who fed too much sugar to starving children rather than criticizing that thousands who fed them nothing. (p.16)

In a way, if we don’t get it right in our marriage relationships, it won’t really matter how well we do beyond that.

Marriage is a big deal when you think of it that way. God does so much work in our minds and hearts through this relationship. Marriage is one of the most humbling, sanctifying journeys you will ever be a part of. It forces us to wrestle with our selfishness and pride. But it also gives as a platform to display love and commitment. (p.35)

16
Feb

I’m reading/listening to this. Here are some ideas that stood out to me:

“What is leadership itself? What does it mean to lead people?” Here is a simple definition, that leadership at its heart involves change. It involves movement. Leadership is movement. The leaders help people to move from where they are to a better place in the purposes of God.

Leadership is not caretaking. There is nothing wrong with caretaking. The people need to be taken care of, but that’s not the specific task of leadership. People need a leader to help them to move or else they typically won’t move. They’ll typically stay where they are, afraid to move – that’s the way we are. The sheep need a shepherd. 

To build on this, we can see that fundamentally there are two things that leaders do. I know that this is an oversimplification but it’s also a very useful one, to clearly articulate the nature of what it is that leaders do. Leaders think and leaders act. First, the leaders think, because leadership involves movement. Where are we going? Leadership involves definition of direction. Where are we going? Leadership involves definition of direction. Articulation of direction, articulation of means by which we will go there. Leaders think. Leaders are thinking outside of the current situation. They’re looking into the future. They’re looking into the possibilities. Hopefully they’re looking at the face of God and they’re being challenged by Him. They themselves are being challenged personally. And then out of that life comes the direction, the vision, the purpose of God in order to help the people to move there. So, first leaders think – they explore, they think outside of the normal patterns of action, the normal ruts that we find ourselves in for so much of our lives. We need leaders to help us get outside of that. This is the essence of what leaders do.

This is good stuff. I encourage you to read/listen to Healthy Leaders.