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Luke’s Second Birthday (2012)

425437_10150673644893373_638543372_11144900_1034074824_nDear Luke,

As I sit here at the desk, you are standing right next to me looking intently into my eyes as if to ask what I’m doing. You are one of the most inquisitive little boys that I have ever seen and it’s a joy to watch you grow and learn.

This has been a year full of exciting new developments for you. In September you learned how to walk, which has opened up a whole new world of drawers, cabinets, and door knobs to explore. One of your favorite things to do is to open the refrigerator and to bring us random items from it. Your speech has also been developing lately as you’ve learned to call our names and especially to let us know when you’re unhappy with something.

As I watch you grow, it’s funny to observe some of the similarities between you and your brothers. You’re very athletic like Micah, it’s funny to watch you climb all over the furniture like he did. You’re also very passionate like Cody is, we pretty much never have to wonder what you’re thinking. You have your mother’s good looks and hopefully you won’t get my receding hairline :-)…all right, non-existent hairline.

One other thing that you did inherit from your mother and I is a sin problem. The Bible tells us that we are estranged from God from the womb, which means that we desperately need someone to reconcile us to Him. Luke, that’s why Jesus came. He came to live a perfect life and to die a brutal death and to be raised on the third day, so that we could be reconciled to God. My prayer for you this birthday is that this "good news," that God has made a way for us to be reconciled to Him, would be very sweet to you and that you too would come to know Jesus.

Love,

Daddy

March 31 2012 | Blog | 2 Comments »

Happy Fourth Birthday Cody (2012)

387564_10150542736393373_638543372_10689958_1726159171_nDear Cody,

This last year has been a big year for you and for the rest of our family. Shortly after your last birthday we moved into our new home here at the church, which has been nothing short of wonderful. At first, you had a hard time leaving our house in the trails. Like me, you still have a hard time with change of any sort even when that change is so obviously good. But within a short amount of time, you grew to love what you affectionately call the “Giant house”.

One of the highlights of my day is seeing your little head walk by office at the church and waiting for you to burst through my door and ask for a jolly rancher and a kiss, quickly followed by your little brother who proceeds to pull all of the books down off my shelves J.

As the years have gone by, it’s been a pleasure to watch more and more of your personality come out. I think the one thing that has become most clear about you this last year is that you really feel things. What I mean by that is that you seem to live your life with a great deal of passion. Whether it’s joy over a jolly rancher or tears over having to go to bed, you don’t take anything lightly, you live your life with gusto and passion.

I feel like there’s a lot that I can learn from you in that, because as you’ll find out when you get older much of life gets kind of routine and you stop marveling at things like jolly ranchers and you start worrying about other small, less important things like bills, etc. My prayer for you this year is that you would take that same passion for life and in God’s time learn to cultivate a deep passion for Christ and for the gospel. Now this kind of passion comes from understanding four powerful things: 1) You have to know who God is, that He’s the Creator and He’s the one that life is all about. 2) You have to know who you are, that you’re a sinner in need of a savior. 3) You have to know who Jesus is, that He’s the Savior who came to save you from your sins. 4) You have to respond in repentance and faith so that you can know real joy.

Now, I know that it’s easy to say that you believe these things, but you and I both know that it’s something entirely different to feel them and to embrace them by faith. That is a gift of God and as your birthday draws near this year, I’m praying that in His time He will grant you that gift.

‘Til Sin is Bitter Christ Will not be Sweet,

Daddy

March 28 2012 | Blog | 1 Comment »

Happy Birthday Amy (2012)

224113_10150247351498373_638543372_8722303_1560927_n

Dear Amy,

As the years go by I continue to learn new things about you and to find new reasons to be thankful for you. Here are just a few of the things that this last year has taught me about the precious gift from God that you are.

1) You are an outstanding mother and our family is much richer because of you.

I know that much of what you do in our home seems to go unnoticed, but I want you to know how much all of those little things mean to me. You truly are the glue that holds our family together and without you…well, let’s just say it, everything would be a disaster around here. The sink would overflow with dirty dishes, the laundry would never get done, the house would never get cleaned and the children would rarely get bathed. All of that is to say that I appreciate you and I want to affirm the fact that you are a very good mom!

2) You are my best friend and I couldn’t do what I do without you.

Not only is our home richer because of you, but our church family is vastly richer because of the way that you support me. From late night phone calls to emergency hospital visits, I simply would not be able to do half of what I do if I didn’t have you at home supporting the ministry. God has been so gracious to our church these last couple of years and I’m convinced that a large part of it is simply due to your quiet faithfulness here at home.

3) You are a faithful representation of Christ to the flock that God has entrusted to me.

Most people probably have no idea how many things you do for the church body, but from quiet lunches with people who are suffering to brining special meals to the sick and bereaved, you truly are living out a Proverbs 31 lifestyle. More importantly than that, you are a faithful representation of Christ in our community and that makes me love you that much more.

4) You are even more beautiful today than you were 11 years ago when I married you.

I know you won’t believe me about this, but it doesn’t change the fact that you truly are even more beautiful to me today than you were 11 years ago when we got married. I love your hair, your Dutch cheeks, and everything else about you.

5) You complete me.

Last year I mentioned the fact that you are my ezer kenigno (my “helper suitable to me” from Genesis 2). I guess another way of putting it is that Amy, you complete me. I would not be the man that I am, if it weren’t for your powerful influence in my life.

I love you with all of my heart,

Andrew Buell

March 21 2012 | Blog | 2 Comments »

Micah’s 6th Birthday

Dear Micah,
 
In some ways I’m not quite sure how to start this letter. I want to tell you how proud I am of you. I want to tell you how much I love you. I want to tell you what a blessing you are to me and to our family and to our church. More importantly than all of that, I want you to know how much God loves you and how desperately I want  you to love Him. 
 

 
I’ve been so encouraged in this respect as I’ve watched you participate in Awana, memorize many verses, go to Sunday School and listen attentively at night as we read “God, Baby Jesus” (that’s what you call our family devotions ). While all of these things are wonderful and I wouldn’t trade any of them, I want you to know that being a Christian is about far more than participating in church activities. Being a follower of Christ is about loving Christ, treasuring Christ and setting our affections on Christ above everything else. This is my great hope and prayer for you, that you would grow to have deep affections for Christ and that you would find Him to be all-satisfying to you. 
 
2011 has been a great year for you and for our family. In January you started the Prep-K program over at Northside school, your teachers were Mrs. McComb (I probably didn’t spell that right) and Mrs. Harvey and you loved them both very much. You also began working with Mrs. Singletary as your speech therapist and thanks to her hard work and yours, we’ve seen tremendous progress in your speech and in your all around development; I am so proud of you!
 
We had a wonderful summer together. You spent time with Grandma and Papa, as well as Nana and Granddaddy. We got to check out some of the great things to do here in Northern California like Lake Tahoe and we moved into the house at the church, which you and Cody like to call the “Giant House.”
 
This Fall you began Kindergarten, which you enjoy very much, with Mrs. Duff as your teacher. Your mom and I are still going back and forth about what the coming years will hold for you as far as schooling goes, but right now we’re very glad that you like Northside so much.
 
There are so many things that I want to teach you and talk to you about, but it seems at this time God is still calling me to wait as your speech has developed just far enough now so that we can have a basic conversation. That’s one of the funny things about waiting, there’s always more of it to do. But since He is my Heavenly Father I will trust Him and wait ‘til your ready, but in the meantime I am having a wonderful time enjoying who God has made you to be right now.
 
‘Til Sin is Bitter Christ Will Not be Sweet,
 
Daddy

January 13 2012 | Blog | 2 Comments »

Honoring My Dad on Father’s Day

With today being Father’s Day I can’t help but take a moment and express how grateful I am to my Heavenly Father for giving me such a godly man as an earthly father. I haven’t written much about my Dad here on the blog, but I do want to take a few minutes to honor him here publicly because so much of who I am is a direct result of the investment that he has made in my life.

My Dad is a really simple guy, he gets up in the morning, goes to work, takes care of his family, serves as a shepherd at his church and that’s about it. He does love playing with new gadgets (that’s probably where I get it from :-)), right now he’s having a great time with his iPad 2! When I think of my Dad I can’t help but think of 1 Thessalonians 4:10b-11, “But we urge you, brothers, to do this [love one another] more and more, and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders…” My Dad lives a very quiet life and yet this quiet life has been one of the most profound influences on the entirety of my life, if for no other reason than the fact that my Dad has always been there:

  • My Dad was there when I was born, he was the first person to give me a bath.
  • My Dad was there when I got saved.
  • My Dad was the man who baptized me, when I was in High School.
  • My Dad was there for all my graduations.
  • My Dad was there when I needed to talk to someone about asking Amy to marry me.
  • My Dad was the man who married Amy and I.
  • My Dad was there when my first son was born.
  • My Dad was one of the first people I called when I was in a world of trouble in ministry.
  • My Dad was there when I was ordained by Emmanuel Baptist Church, he actually preached the ordination service for me (which you can watch below).
  • My Dad was there when I became the Senior Pastor of my beloved Church here in Cool, CA.

At every major event in my life, my Dad has been there. He is my biggest fan and one of my best friends.

It’s not too much to say that my life and ministry would simply not have been possible if it weren’t for my Dad being there, because by his presence in my life he’s set an example for me of what my Heavenly Father is like who not only cares about all of the great things in the cosmos, but who cares about every detail of His children’s lives.

My prayer this Father’s Day is that I could be the same kind of Dad to my kids, that my Dad has been to me. I love you Dad.

June 19 2011 | Devotional | 1 Comment »

One Year Old

This is a letter to my son Luke, who turned one a few days ago. My plan is to write a personal letter to each of my boys on their birthday every year, recapping some of the highlights of the year and reminding them of the gospel.

photo-761647Dear Luke,

Of all my boys, you seem to be the one who is changing the fastest. I suppose that’s not really a profound statement, seeing as you are so young but nonetheless you are a joy to watch grow up.

I think the word “joy” is the best word to describe your life this past year. You brought tremendous joy to your mother and I when you were born and you continue to bring us great joy with every new thing that you learn. Now that you’re a little bit older, you bring a lot of joy to your big brothers as well. Cody was pretty unsure about you at first, but within a couple of months you had won his heart over. Now he and Micah chase you around the house calling you “honey” and making sure that you stay away from the fireplace and the television.

Not only have you brought joy to our family, but even at your young age it’s clear that you are full of joy yourself. You always have a smile for your mommy, me, or any stranger who happens to catch your eye on the street. For quite a while, you were perfectly content to let anyone in the church hold you, as long as mommy was nearby. Although, lately you’ve been a little bit more particular about things. To tell the truth, there are times when you don’t even want to go to me Smile.

Even at your young age, my deepest prayer for you is that you would believe the gospel and come to know Jesus Christ as your great joy. You see faith in Christ is all about pursuing joy in Christ. I pray that as you grow up you will become a radical Christian Hedonist, passionately pursuing joy in Jesus Christ to the neglect of all other things because He is the only one can truly satisfy our longing for joy.

‘Til Sin is Bitter Christ Will not be Sweet,

Daddy

April 04 2011 | Blog | 2 Comments »

Three Years Old

This is a letter to my son Cody, who turns three this month. My plan is to write a personal letter to each of my boys on their birthday every year, recapping some of the highlights of the year and reminding them of the gospel.

photo-751955Dear Cody,

This has been a year of really big changes for you. Three days after your birthday, you were given a present that you weren’t sure you really wanted when mommy and I came home with your baby brother. At first, it was a tough adjustment for you as you were no longer the baby of the family, but I have been so proud of you in how you’ve stepped up to the challenge. You really do love your baby brother and I love watching you take care of him, keeping him out of the toilet and away from the fireplace. You are a very good big brother.

Another big change this year was moving from Mount Vernon, WA to Cool, CA. You probably don’t remember any of this, but I think the move was harder on you than anyone else. You and I are a lot alike, we love consistency and we hate change. Well moving requires a lot of change and with every box that got packed and every piece of furniture that got sold, I could see your little heart grow more and more anxious about the changes in your life. I was so happy to find you continually in my arms looking for comfort amidst the changes in your life, because that’s where I go when I need to find comfort and a quiet place, I go to my Heavenly Father.

Cody, my deepest prayer for you is that you too would know my Father by believing the gospel and becoming one of His children. I pray that you would know who God is, that He is the creator to whom you are accountable. I pray that you would know who you are, that you are a sinner in need of a Savior. I pray that you would know who Jesus is, that He is God’s own Son who died and rose again as a sacrifice for your sins. Finally, I pray that you would respond in faith and repentance to this wonderful good news that we call the gospel.

Since our move down to Cool, you have really begun to enjoy yourself and your new surroundings. You love visiting the pool and playing in the water. You love annoying Micah as much as you can (BTW, you really should stop that). You love your mommy and her kisses (as do I) and you love food. Oh my goodness, do you love food!

This next year will be full of even more changes I’m sure. Micah will be going to school full time, Luke will continue to get bigger and pretty soon he will be the one annoying you. That’s pretty much how life goes, it’s full of changes and yet through all of the changes in life one sure thing remains that you are a great sinner, but Christ is a great Savior. I love you Cody.

‘Til Sin is Bitter Christ Will Not be Sweet,

Daddy

March 28 2011 | Blog | Comments Off on Three Years Old

5 Years Old

IMG_0214This year I’m starting a new tradition with my boys.  I’m going to try to write each of them a letter, every year on their birthday.  My hope is to kind of recap the year for them and specifically to tell them how much I love them and how I’m praying for them.  Eventually I think I’ll get each boy’s letters bound together and give it to them at their 18th birthday.  Hopefully they will be able to look back at these letters and see my love for them and a consistent presentation and application of the gospel to each year of their lives.  Here’s the first one for my 5 year old.

Dear Micah,

It’s hard to believe that you’ll soon be turning 5 years old. It really seems like just yesterday when your mom and I rushed down to the hospital from your grandma and grandpas house and met you for the first time. Even as I write this letter and look at you in bed, I’m amazed at how much God has done in your little life.

Your mom and I had a real scare a few years ago when we realized that you were having a lot of trouble with your speech, but today you have made so much progress we can hardly believe it. I wish that we could say that your progress was due to our quick thinking or good parenting skills or even the outside help that we’ve gotten from the school, but the truth is that God deserves all of the glory for what’s happening in your life and both your mom and I want to thank Him for it.

This year has been full of changes for our whole family. We moved down to Cool, CA from Mount Vernon, WA where you had lots of friends and a great church. It was a hard move, because we all had to leave things that were so familiar but I’m convinced that it was a very good move. You have made so many new friends here, you have a great school that I think you’re really going to love attending and we have a new church that really loves us! Even better than all of that, I’m so happy that you have your grandparents so close by. They come up about once a month or so to visit you and your brothers and you are so excited to see them each time. You bring so much happiness into their lives and into our lives as well.

I think one of my favorite memories of you this year is going to be the entire Christmas season. You just love Christmas!!! Even back in June you would walk up to complete strangers at Target and say, “Merry Christmas”. You especially love it when we go to look at Christmas lights, which we’ve done a lot of this year. There are few things that give me as much joy as hearing you talk about “baby Jesus” and the “star”. That’s usually followed by something about Santa Claus, but I’m at least glad that you’re starting to get the picture that Christmas is about Jesus.

Micah, I love you so much! You are such a precious gift to me and I am so thankful that God decided to make me your daddy and to make you my son. My greatest prayer for you is that you too would come to know God as your Father. I know that even at 5 years of age, the concept of God can be a hard thing to grasp but whenever you do get around to reading this I just want you to know that I have been praying for you that you would know who God is, know who you are, know Jesus and believe the gospel. Really, you could sum up my prayer for you in that I want you to love Jesus. Not just to say that you love Him, because you know that’s what I want but that you would have a great passion and affection for Jesus like your mom and I do.

Next year will be another year of change I’m sure. You’ll be starting up Kindergarten (I’m sure I’m going to cry my eyes out the first day of school), continuing to grow and becoming more athletic (you’re already very athletic). Through it all, I want you to know that I love you very much and I will continue to pray for you that you would love Jesus as He already loves you.

‘Til Sin is Bitter Christ Will Not be Sweet,

Daddy

January 17 2011 | Devotional | Comments Off on 5 Years Old

How Should Christian Couples Approach Family Planning?

Wow, definitely some food for thought here from Randy Alcorn on Birth Control, Family Planning and Abortion.

 

November 19 2010 | Blog | Comments Off on How Should Christian Couples Approach Family Planning?

Learning to Grieve (part 5) – Beauty for Ashes

SONY DSC                     Isaiah 61:3 has been an especially meaningful passage to me this last week, “[He will] give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness…”  For the Christian there is always the promise of hope in the midst of grief, there is always the expectation that God will give beauty for ashes and will restore the years of famine.

The fact that Christians are able to grieve as those who have hope is one of the principle things that distinguishes us from the world.  As Amy and I sat through our recent IEP, I couldn’t help but be struck by the sense of hopelessness in the room.  There was no appeal to the greater plan of God, no thought given to the mercy of God in blessing us with a child who has some special needs, no mention of God whatsoever.  I certainly don’t begrudge the school system for their approach to an IEP, but one can’t help but notice the fact that life under the sun is full of grief and full of tragedies and without a Christian world view, we ultimately have to chalk all of the suffering in life up to nothing more than chance.  But life lived under the Son and His Father’s rule is full of hope, even in the midst of tears.

One final thing that I’ve learned through this process is the fact that grief is not a destination, it is a journey.  In our case this journey will almost certainly come with recurring reminders of the path that we are on.  Those reminders will come in the form of IEP evaluations, difficult questions about Micah’s future, his career, and a hundred other things we probably haven’t even thought about yet.  There’s no doubt that this will be a difficult journey for us as a family, but I believe that this path is actually a gift of grace.  This is a path that I have never been down before and because of my unfamiliarity with the terrain, I will need to stay especially close to my Guide who has already experienced the deepest form of grief and yet rose from the dead to offer hope to those who grieve.

November 04 2010 | Devotional and Learning to Grieve | 4 Comments »

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