29 December 2007

We Have Become Skypers

Have you heard of Skype? Well I hadn't until I began reading blogs of missionaries and learned of this wonderful, free downloadable software. It allows computers to connect to one another (much like email) but has text, voice and video capability. Robert purchased a web-cam with Christmas money. My parents and in-laws have just purchased web cams as well. And now, we can call each other and see each other live on our computers as we're talking. That may not be amazing to some of you, but it just about knocks my socks off.

What this means is that when we are in Brazil we will be able to SEE and talk to our loved ones all the time through our computers, for FREE! Blessings abound! If you have a skype account and want to add someone else with skype to your list of contacts, all you need is their email address.

My very old computer will not do the video, and it only has a 50% success rate with the audio. But Robert's laptop works great and it works well for our family. However, my computer does very well with text messaging, so if you want to try it out, my email address is kerrihamilton@cebridge.net. Robert's is roberthamilton@cebridge.net.

Happy Skyping!

Another Good Soup Recipe

We're having taco soup tonight. Another one of my and Robert's favorites. Kids?--not so much. They're having Wacky Mac, pineapple and baby spinach.

Here's the recipe (and it's EASY!):

Taco Soup
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 onion
2 cans Mexican stewed tomatoes
1 can Rotel
1 can corn
1 can cream corn
2 cans Ranch Style beans
2 cans Great Northern Beans
1/4 c. taco seasoning

Chop onion and brown with ground beef in skillet. Drain off the grease. Blend Mex. stewed tomatoes & Rotel in blender, then pour into pot. Add meat, corn, crm. corn, Ranch Style beans, Northern beans, and 1/4 c. taco seasoning. That is IT! The longer it cooks, the better. It's done when the flavor is rich and it has a thick soup/stew consistency. You can eat it with cheese on top and tortilla chips or with cornbread. It's great both ways. Fritos and a dollop of sour cream might be good too, if you like those things. (You could actually use almost any type of bean you want, but the recipe as is, is very tasty, and very easy.)

26 December 2007

A Wonderful Christmas!

This was a wonderful Christmas for me and our family. If we stay on our current schedule, it was our last Christmas in the states for quite a while, but it couldn't have been better.

Here's some things I loved about it:

  • that God loved us so much He became one of us, lived a perfect life and then chose to pay the price for our wrong-doing in giving His life
  • Christmas Eve with church family whom we love
  • Christmas Day with my parents who are so beloved and precious to all of us
  • Christmas Eve day of children opening gifts from our loved ones in Alabama
  • Christmas cookies that we made and decorated
  • how we did gifts . . . our family of six drew each others names and every one put a lot of thought into the gift(s) they purchased for their select recipient
  • our time together
  • the blessing of many friends who are so dear to us
  • hot chocolate with marshmallows
  • "What God Wants For Christmas"
  • hay ride and the chopping down of our Christmas tree
  • the loveliness of the tree all decorated and lit
  • the wonderful Christmas card given to Robert and I by my parents
  • Christmas cards we received from friends (especially the ones with pictures)
  • our family privately shopping for Christmas angels
  • our church family shopping for Christmas angels
  • our Advent wreath and the times we celebrated the first advent of Christ together
  • the Christmas pageant at our church
  • reading our Christmas books
  • my dad's steaks
  • learning about the "turducken" (a partially deboned turkey stuffed with deboned duck, stuffed with deboned chicken stuffed with stuffing) that my in-laws cooked for their Christmas dinner in Alabama . . . intriguing, isn't it?
  • the excitement of children at Christmastime
  • our children's expressions of love for God in their prayers, their songs and their art

Our Willingness to Just Be Relational

God works through our relationships in drawing others to Himself. Here's a Christmas story of salvation called "An Awesome Christmas Gift". It is a story of God blessing our willingness to just be relational with other people. I hope you are blessed and encouraged by it.

Let's make investments in relationships . . . it's really why we're still here on earth and not home in heaven yet!

For God, who said, "Light shall shine out of darkness," is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. 2 Cor. 4:6

24 December 2007

Merry Christmas!

See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are . . .
I John 3:1

May you and your family be overwhelmed and blessed by the love of our Lord!

23 December 2007

Very Funny!

Take a close look at this magnetic nativity book set. What about this is just wrong?

No, it's not the wise men . . . although the wise men were never at the manger. Jesus was actually toddler age when the wise men got to Bethlehem, and I doubt Mary and Joseph lived in the stable during all that time!!!

This is even funnier . . . something definitely out of place.

Scroll back up and look again.

Did you find it?

Here it is:


20 December 2007

Tah Dah!

We have done it! We have requested a job assignment with the International Mission Board that has been reserved for us. Knowing where we are going gives feelings of relief, privilege, excitement, sobriety and love.

After running the long, arduous course of education on the lostness of so many parts of the world, we have settled on one place in particular. This has been difficult. Our hearts have been broken for so many regions and people groups in this process.

Before going on with the specifics, let me encourage everyone: educate yourself on the lostness of our world . . . places like South Asia that is referred to as the "heart of darkness" and the thousands of people groups (over 6,000) who await someone to come and tell them about Jesus.
The lost are everywhere. Right now our world population is 6.61 billion. The population of unreached people groups is 2.72 billion. That's 41%. Unreached means they don't have the gospel. Staggering, isn't it?

Visit the Joshua Project or People Groups .Visit the International Mission Board and read about opportunities to go . . . short term, long term, ministry teams from your church (from teenagers to retirees), your family vacation, so on and so on. Give to the Lottie Moon offering that goes to support over 5,300 missionaries who are already engaged with lost people groups.

There are lost here in the U.S. - - everywhere, and ministry in the culture in which we are a part is so important. We are blessed to know so many who pastor, teach, lead, foster, adopt, do prison ministry, counsel the unwed pregnant, share Christ with neighbors, co-workers, grandchildren, and the list goes on. But God has asked us to go, and we've said yes. Finally, we know where!

Here's the whole scoop! We are going to Caxais do Sul in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, South America. There is much we don't know, but here's some things we do know:

  • The city of Caixas do Sul is the center of Italian culture in Rio Grande do Sul, and in southern Brazil. It is also the least evangelized city in the state. It is located in the northern mountainous region of the state of Rio Grande do Sul.
  • Brazilians of Italian descent are one of Brazil's least evangelized cohesive people groups. Due to their isolation and density of numbers (about 540,000), Italians in the state of Rio Grande do Sul have proven to be particularly resistant to evangelization, in a state that is known for being the most resistant to evangelization (southern Brazil is one of the biggest challenges)
  • Brazilian Portuguese will be the primary language of use and study, but we will be learning Italian as well for the evangelization of the smaller rural communities where Italian is still the "heart language" of the people. Language study and cultural acquisition will take approximately one year.
I am overjoyed to have an assignment reserved for us through the IMB. We still have many steps to complete prior to actually engaging this group of people known as the Gaucho. Thanks for your prayers.


19 December 2007

Our Meeting Yesterday

This second meeting with our IMB Candidate Consultant went very well.

We were asked a lot of questions based on the written materials we have submitted (life sketches, autobiographies, and Christian belief statements) medical questionnaires, etc.

We talked in detail about the rest of the process and about the job assignments we are contemplating.

We are choosing between two jobs: one is in Brazil and another is in South Asia . . . opposite sides of the world to be sure.

We will be doing much research in the next several days. Please keep us in your prayers as we are continuing to seek God.

Let me share a blessing: The friend I had lined up for childcare ended up needing to tend to her sick child. I called another dear friend of ours at about 8:00 a.m. She tweaked her plans for the entire day to stay with our children. It was a tremendous blessing, and our children had a wonderful day. We drove 2 1/2 hours both ways to a meeting that lasted 2 1/2 hours. She cared for our 4 children ages 7 and under for 7 1/2 hours. (It was very hard for me to not share our news with her. But we're close to being able to share this with everyone, and I'm pleased about that!) I'm thankful for dear friends who will sacrifice to help a friend. If you ever read this Tamara, thank you!

"O Katherine! My Katherine!"

She hears this occasionally from me . . . and one day, when she's a little older, I'll read her the poem that I loosely take it from. (written by Walt Whitman in homage to U.S. President Abraham Lincoln after his assassination: "O Captain! My Captain!") I hope she likes it as much as I do.

Today is my Katherine's birthday.

Wow, I cannot believe my girl is seven years old. She was just close enough to 5 pounds when she was born . . . close enough for the hospital to let us take her home. She was born just a couple weeks early, but I had pre-eclampsia and she had lost weight prior to her birth. She was born fast, beautiful, healthy and as tiny as a baby doll.

Katherine is intelligent, reserved, enormously helpful, service oriented, creative, artistic and very conscientious. Did I say artistic? That is an understatement!

She also is brave when she wants to be, loves any kind of adventure and can run longer (without tiring) than anyone else in our family.

She is a writer of love notes . . .to everyone in our family and to God.

She is a reader . . . 7 years old today and starting her 4th chapter book (she's reading the Magic Tree House series, a chapter each school day.) She reads the Beginner Bible as well in conjunction with where we are in our Bible study and then various other books.

She accepted Christ as her Savior on September 26, 2006 at the age of five. She has a hunger for God's Word and delights in the Bible training she receives.

She struggles with mothering her siblings and employing honesty in all circumstances, but has grown leaps and bounds in these areas and continues to grow.

She is burdened for the lost and continues to pray daily for a boy she met at Chick-Fil-A named Sebastian that does not know God.

I'm blessed to have her for my daughter.

I love you Katherine! Happy Birthday!

(sorry for all the changes in font . . . editing trouble)

18 December 2007

Join Me For a Cup of Hot Chocolate, part 1

As I sit here enjoying my marshmallow laden cup of hot chocolate my thoughts are many. I'm thinking about the privilege it is to be God's child . . . adopted by Him at such a high price. That, in and of itself, is an outstanding reality that necessitates other mentionable blessings to be listed separately.

Those blessings would be many such as family, children, friendships, the surrounding beauty of God's creation, innocence, laughter, music, balloons, a cozy bed, a comfortable couch, water for bathing and drinking and swimming, a good cup of coffee, an icy cold diet coke and, yes, a marshmallow laden cup of hot chocolate. We enjoy these things because God has made us capable of enjoying them.

So here's my question: When is it that we become consumers rather than just recipients of God's immeasurable graciousness? It is when we turn our eyes on ourselves instead of keeping our focus on God. We are intended to live the Christian life with an eternal perspective. Living our lives most definitely IN the world, engaged IN the world, but never OF the world. It is a complex calling that is ours. Our citizenship is in Heaven. We have to be purposeful in our lives . . . moment by moment, looking for every opportunity.

Jesus said “The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light.” This means we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith. When we do this, we see things as God wants us to see them. When we do this, others are drawn to Christ as we are full of His light.

These are the things that matter most: knowing God, time in His Word, talking with God, and people who are dying every day and do not know Him.

Heb 12:1-2 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

17 December 2007

Change of Date, Change of Heart & Coveting Your Prayers

Our in-depth interview with our IMB Candidate Consultant will be tomorrow instead of Wednesday. It just happened that this change worked better for him and works for our "babysitter" as well. As you pray for us, please pray for our dear friend Pam who will have our children. Caring for four children ages 6 and under all day is no small task!

As you know, we have been intently looking at opportunities in the South Asia region. As we learned more about this area, often referred to as the "heart of darkness", our hearts were broken for the predominance of lostness in this area. We've reviewed a host of people groups and IMB job descriptions. But we have yet to find the one group of people that God tells our hearts "YES! - I want you here." In case we are confusing just a general burden for the lost with the specific area God wants us to go, we are beginning to include other parts of the world in our search. Please pray for us. God has told us to go, and we've said yes. But in choosing where we will go, we are seeking God's clear voice and a God-given, inexplainable, deep love for a particular people group.

After prayer and much conversation we have sent off for some other job descriptions. One of them is to the unengaged, very secularized Jews of Brazil. Those of you who know us very well know that we already have a strong love for the Jews (many stories about the history of this, but must wait until another time). We will be considering as well a couple of opportunities to share Christ in the Pac Rim region to animistic catholics, an opportunity to the Italian-Brazilians in Brazil and another to non-muslim South Asians who are in the UK.

One of my original prayer requests was prayer for where in the world God wants us to go. Partner with us in continuing to pray as we feel God prompting our hearts to be in tune with His in finding the place He would have us to go.

12 December 2007

Sore Throats and Winter Recipes

It's another "sick day" for us . . . school continues to be out. The 3 oldest have sore throats and sporadic fevers. The doc determined it was viral, not strep. So we're waiting it out with Motrin & Tylenol as needed.

We did make some hot chocolate mix today. This is the best hot chocolate EVER! Here's the recipe:

3 2/3 c. Nestle Quick
10 2/3 c. dry milk
3 3/4 c. powdered sugar
4 2/3 c. dry coffee mate

Heaping 1/3 c. mix to one coffee cup hot water. Top with marshmallows (of course) and enjoy!

Tonight, by special request, we're having chicken and dumplings. It is very good. But I'm looking forward to potato soup. Last year I trial and errored until I came up with this recipe. It is very good.

1/2 onion chopped very well
1 clove garlic minced
6 c. chicken stock (can use broth if no stock)
2 T. butter
2 T. flour
diced potatoes to desired amount (depends on the size of your pot!)
chopped baby spinach leaves (to desired amount)
2 c. half and half

Cook onion, garlic, butter and potatoes with salt and pepper in stock until done. Take some stock out, add 2 T. flour to it and then add back in. Add chopped spinach and cook a little longer. Add 1/2 & 1/2 at the very end and serve.

Nothing about either of these recipes is low in calories, but oh, are they tasty! Enjoy!

11 December 2007

School's Out!

Second day of no homeschool this week . . . sick kids. My guess is strep throat. I'm taking the sickest (Elizabeth) to the doc this afternoon to see if he will confirm my hypothesis. If so, we'll get meds for all 3. Elizabeth & Joseph have fever and soar throat, Katherine, who started symptoms later than the others, is sure to follow suit.

(We'll do some Bible and read favorite books, but that's about it!)

Samuel is doing better with ear infection. It is my understanding that 18 month olds don't get strep, but I'm not certain about that. The earliest any of the others had strep was 3. If you know different, let me know!

Exposure: would have to be Target or Toys R Us . . . shopping for Christmas "angels"

And now for something completely different: Huckabee is climbing up in the polls. I'm excited about that. He's actually the only candidate with a shot at the Pennsylvania Street address that I would be able to vote for. (I could never vote for anyone who is pro-abortion or someone who is married to a cultic religion . . . casting a vote for the lesser of two evils is not something I feel comfortable doing.)

Share Christ's love with someone today!!!

10 December 2007

My Long Hiatus.

It's been a month since my last entry. I have so many ideas for blogging, but so little time. There's much to tell of kids, our progress of becoming missionaries through the IMB, and my current personal thoughts on God's revelation of Himself through Elijah (the kids and I are currently studying him, and he's about to pass the baton on to Elisha).

I have one with ear infection and two with mystery high fever at the moment so this will be sketchy at best! (make that 3 - - Katherine has fever now as well). Poor kiddos!

  1. Thanksgiving was wonderful . . . our last in the states. My parents, brother & his family along with Robert's parents, his sister and daughter were all here. It was a blessing to have everyone together.

  2. We're meeting with our IMB consultant on December 19th for our first in-depth interview. We've both written and submitted autobiographies, life sketches, Christian belief statements, reference forms for us and our children, and transcripts from universities and seminaries.

  3. Our family has stumbled on the opportunity this Christmas to shop for 30 children who have been designated as needful this Christmas season. That has been a blessing to all of us. Our church shopped for a total of 80 and for a local crisis family center.

That's us in a nutshell . . . please pray for our 4 kiddos who are sick with high fevers at the moment.

14 November 2007

Listen Up Neighborhood, Jesus Loves You!

My daughter Elizabeth, who just turned 4, has spent this afternoon in the backyard on the trampoline shouting every song she knows about Jesus. She has especially spent time shouting the words to the song “Shout To The North & The South . . . . Jesus is Savior to all, Lord of heaven & earth“. She stopped at one point and came inside to ask me if it was bad manners to be shouting so loud in the backyard. I told her she could be as loud as she wanted to outside. I also added that maybe others in the neighborhood would enjoy hearing her sing songs about God, and that certainly God enjoyed it. She then went outside and shouted the above title, "Listen up neighborhood, Jesus loves you!". She sang a little for the possible invisible audience of our neighborhood, and then resumed singing just to God.

So simple is the faith of our children. We could learn so much from them. We complicate things and analyze things to the minute detail (when “the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men” I Cor. 1:25) . . . but that Jesus loves us, that it's joyfully fulfilling to praise Him and that God loves everyone else too are the most profound of truths that we have. I watched her and I recalled David - - praising God amongst the sheep and then dancing before the Lord as the Ark was led back into Jerusalem. God is glorified and we are edified by our adoration of Him . . . and our praising Him is a testimony.

May our adoration of our precious Lord be perpetual . . . and when it is not, may we be convicted into a right perspective once again.

two more joining in the chorus
left to right: Elizabeth, Joseph & Katherine

10 November 2007

Cracked Pots

We have much that lies ahead of us. The area to which we currently think God is leading us (South Asia) is an area which we will not be bringing anything but us and our clothes. So we would have ahead of us the liquidation of everything!

No matter where we go, ahead of us as well are the interviews, conferences and training with the IMB, the sharing of our being called to full-time missions with our church, of which Robert is the pastor, and the goodbyes to our beloved family.

We have ahead of us the learning of another language and another culture.

Our hearts are eager to do what God is calling us to do. Parts of it will be very hard . . . but our hearts are thrilled with His directing us to a particular region of the world that He wants us to go to.

We embrace all the changes that lie ahead, knowing that many of them will be difficult for us and those we love. We embrace whatever degree of sacrifice God is calling us to as well, knowing that it may possibly be more than we ever imagined. We are humbled and privileged by His conditioning our hearts to obey the Great Commission and go where He directs us. How can we not obey God?

(An important aside: We are no greater than any other Christian who is following God. I am personally so afraid of being elevated in the eyes of others. We want God to receive all the glory. It belongs to Him. He is the One who accomplishes great things, according to His purposes through us. We are all just the cracked pots He graciously shines His Light through. We are sinners saved by the amazing grace of God, just like every other believer. We have no calling different or higher than the calling to every other believer. It's only the location of where God is leading us that may be different.)

Since God's revealing His will for us in August of this year we have learned much . . . we have grown much. We've been encouraged through God's Word and through the stories of others following God as well.

There is one family in particular (the Phams) who have given me the okay of putting a link to their blog, which is a journal of their journey of God's leading them to Lima, Peru. I think the entries on their blog may be a help to those loved ones who would like a more knowledgeable glimpse into many of the things that lie ahead in the leaving of this culture and going to another. They are currently in Costa Rica at a language school. Although our destinations are most likely different parts of the world, there are many similarities between our family and theirs. I hope you are encouraged as we have been by what you find on their blog. And I hope that you will find yourself in prayer for them and their ministry. I've listed their blog in the margin under “Favorite Blogs”.

If you don't have or take the time to acquaint yourselves with our new e-friends, the Phams, please do at least view their slideshow. It gives a great picture of where God is leading them!

08 November 2007

IMB News

International Mission Board News worth checking out:

82 new missionaries appointed by the International Mission Board Nov. 7

See story

New budget, successes and goals after the November meeting of the IMB

See story

06 November 2007

Pecan Gathering & Tractor Riding

We went to my parents house Sunday afternoon for the best steak on the planet (my dad is very gifted in grilling steaks, chicken, sausage, mushrooms, onions, peppers, hot dogs, WHATEVER to complete perfection. It is a gift, I'm sure of it!). We also gathered pecans from under their pecan trees. And each of the kids got a turn with pop on his little tractor (a riding lawn mower, but a tractor to my kids!) It was wonderful fun. Some pictures I wish I would have gotten: Robert up a pecan tree shaking it to get more pecans to fall, my kids getting to be up in the tree with Robert one at a time, and my mom picking up pecans with my kids. But here's some pictures I did get:

Robert and the girls cracking & shelling pecans on the porch.

Pop with Katherine & then Joseph!

Pop with Elizabeth & then Samuel!

05 November 2007

Calvinism in the SBC

What's all the hullabaloo in the SBC convention about Calvinism? Don't take the word “hullabaloo” and assume I don't know anything about Calvinism, or Armenianism for that matter. I've studied the two. But what I know for certain is this: These are non-essentials.

As for words like predestination, free-will, foreknowledge . . . these words are certainly in the Bible. We should study them and discuss them, and hopefully grow from our discussion of them. But let's also realize that these are non-essentials. There are in fact ramifications of both Calvinistic and Arminian positions that can be very hazardous to us as believers and to the perception of who God is. My plea is for us, as a family of believers, to stay focused on who God IS and engaged in culturally relevant ministry . . . careful to know God's Word and always keep it in context. Let's not waste time and effort on taking sides, drawing lines and adamantly defending positions against one another.

First, let's consider God. And let me start this with my favorite phrase: “God is God, and we are not.” Free will and election are His to give or not give to whatever extent He desires, and His sovereignty is not dependent on either. The same of His foreknowledge. All of these are His alone, and our hypothesis about any of it makes no difference. The Bible addresses both free will and election, and when an honest, contextual look is taken, good arguments can be made for both sides. For a Scripturally based glance of the two positions, go here. (This is from a church named Xenos up in Ohio somewhere that usually has some pretty good resources. This particular series of pages is very good in my opinion and worthwhile for review.)

To the Calvinist I would ask the following: If the Spirit prompts every heart (which, according to the Bible is true, ie:“all men are without excuse”Rom.1:20, “it is not God's will that ANY should perish, but that ALL should come to repentance”2 Peter 3:9; "And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw ALL men to Myself." John 12:32) and it is up to the individual to accept or reject according to a God given free will, how does that diminish God's sovereignty? Just because free will in our minds limits God's sovereignty doesn't mean that it actually does. Catch my drift here? We are not God, and we cannot figure Him out. If we could, He certainly wouldn't be my God. Isn't God big enough to give us complete free will and remain completely sovereign at the same time? Really chew on that one for a while. It may be a bigger concept of God than you have ever considered!!

My concern also is that the position of Calvinism can lead to spiritual arrogance, self-centeredness and complacency. Bear with me here as I explain this. 1. Arrogance comes from the idea that I am chosen and “you” (whomever that may be) are not, to be God's child. Which would have to mean: the Bible says Christ died for all, but not really . . . He died for the salvation of the elect and the damnation of the rest. YIKES! 2. Complacency is also a real danger for this theology because “everyone God calls is going to heaven no matter what I do.” - - so why “do”? Although I do not see many signs of this one in the Calvinists that I know, it is still a logical concern. 3. Self-centeredness is a bedfellow to complacency because if the focus is not on reaching the lost, than individual, personal discipleship is what matters most, which would feed the consumer mentality already so prevalent in our churches. I see this just about everywhere I look. Let me be quick to say that our relationship with God and our spiritual growth should be paramount to each of us. But there has to be a fervent desire, ardent prayer life and impassioned sharing of our faith in hopes that ALL will come to know the Lord as Savior. Calvinism itself does not teach or promote
these ideals directly (arrogance, complacency & self-centeredness). But the logical following of this theology can have these results. I'm not making a presumption here. I have first hand knowledge of this. I also have Calvinist friends and acquaintances who are plagued by this in their spiritual lives as well as confessions I've read from former Calvinists.

Secondly there's the problem with double-predestination. If God appointed certain people to Heaven, then the natural following is that God has appointed certain people to hell as well. Ask yourself if this fits with the God of the New Testament and the dispensation of grace in which we are living.

Moving to the other side, there are problems with Arminianism as well. Total depravity, conditional election, unlimited atonement and resistible grace are all biblical. However, the Arminian theology can sometimes lead to a diminished perception of God's sovereignty. This is tragic. However, as I addressed in my second paragraph, if someone has a correct view of God and an understanding that our finite and fallen wisdom cannot begin to grasp the extent of His sovereignty, then this wrong perception of God's sovereignty can be avoided. Gods granting freedom of choice in the area of salvation does not mean freedom of choice in all areas of life. The Bible clearly teaches God's sovereign choice of nations for specific roles (Ezek.38:4; Ps. 33:10; Ps. 2:1-6), and even of individuals for the roles they play in His national strategy (Isa. 45:1; Dan. 4:32,34-35). Other passages clearly teach that God sovereignly decides what spiritual gifts we get (1 Cor. 12:11), and our specific ministry callings (Gal. 1:15,16). (excerpt from the page I linked to above with the word "here")

Second, Arminians can easily put too much personal pressure on their act of service in witnessing to others . . . looking only to results and forgetting the important part that the Spirit has in the timing and drawing of the lost to Christ. The POWER is in the gospel message . . . not in the presentation of it. So the focus for all Arminians has to be sharing, not results. The results are in the realm of the person to whom the Gospel is presented to and God.

And last, the final point of Arminianism (present assurance of salvation) is neither biblical nor logical. Many Arminians, Arminius himself and even John Wesley did not believe in eternal security. However, eternal security is a biblical fact.

My conclusion is: Our theology does not determine God's sovereignty. He's perfectly sovereign no matter what we believe. Our finite minds will never comprehend the things that are in the the realm of God. I will state once again: God is God, and we are NOT! Deuteronomy 29:29 states "The secret things belong to the Lord our God: But those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this Law." We have enough to busy us for a lifetime with the things God has revealed to us!

My plea: Stop wasting time arguing over such issues. Concentrate your energy on sharing the Good News with the lost and in prayer. There's real spiritual warfare going on right on YOUR doorstep. Our enemy probably gets great satisfaction out of seeing Christians bickering over theology rather than engaging in service to the Lord.

Harsh words? Maybe. Necessary? You bet. Let's busy ourselves with the tasks that are most glorifying to the One who has given us so great a salvation.

Now, for the lighter side of things:

03 November 2007

Don't Forget to Change Your Clocks

I absolutely abhor the end of daylight savings time every year. Everyone else I know seems to love this time change because of the hour gained. But every year from the end of daylight savings (which is now November) to start of it again (in March), it just feels wrong! (By the way, it was October to April, but a federal law passed in 2005 is in effect that makes it November to March.) My family and I really enjoy the extra hour of daylight. And when we change our clocks, my kids don't change. They will be tired at 7:00 instead of 8:00, and they will be up around 6:00 instead of 7:00. That really throws off my morning - - especially my Bible time. But time change is upon us. Next November we won't be changing our clocks. Are you interested to know what other countries utilize Daylight Savings, and when they change their clocks? Click here.

Don't forget to change your clocks!

02 November 2007

this, too, shall be made right

A news story that is heartbreaking:

Baby allegedly used as shield tests positive for meth

Lyrics to a song that is sobering:

Words and Music by Derek Webb (Song and album The Ringing Bell)

people love you most for the things you hate
and hate you for loving the things you can’t keep straight
people judge you on a curve
and tell you you’re getting what you deserve
and this, too, shall be made right

children cannot learn and children cannot eat
stack them like lumber when children cannot sleep
children dream of wishing wells
whose waters quench all the fires of hell
and this, too, shall be made right

the earth and the sky and the sea are all holding their breath
wars and abuses have nature groaning with death
we say we’re just trying to stay alive
but it looks so much more like a way to die
and this, too, shall be made right

yes there’s a time for peace, there is a time for war
there’s a time to forgive and a time to settle the score
a time for babies to lose their lives
a time for hunger and genocide
and this, too, shall be made right

oh I don’t know the suffering of people outside my front door
and I join the oppressors of those I choose to ignore
I’m trading comfort for human life
and that’s not just murder, it’s suicide
and this, too, shall be made right

oh this, too, shall be made right

(I found the above entered on anther blog)

Scripture that describes the yearning for our Lord's return:

Rom 8:19-27 For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.

For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope

that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.

For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.

And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.

For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees?

But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.

In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words;

and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

Scripture that reminds us why we are still here:

2Pe 3:9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

All of those who belong to God are missionaries . . . right now, right where we are! The Great Commission was given to us ALL!

01 November 2007

Samuel Eats Dirt

Now don't act like you haven't eaten dirt yourself . . . you have, even if you don't remember it!!!

I'm having a tough time coming up with stuff to blog about.

Some topics I've thought of: Calvinism in the SBC, Evangelism Training, and some stuff about Moses. But would anyone who reads this blog be interested in any of that?

My real purpose for this blog is to update everyone on our process of becoming IMB missionaries and to train myself to become a “blogger”. I imagine that overseas our computers will be our lifelines to family and friends here in the states. The problem is, we are in a holding pin of sorts right now. We're still awaiting preliminary medical clearance and everything is on hold until we get that.

I can share this: we are looking and looking and looking, and praying and praying and praying about job opportunities all over the globe. Some jobs in Asia seem very interesting . . . unreached people groups coupled with situations that would be optimal for our children. A few places in South America have our attention as well. God will lead us somewhere . . . it will be neat to see where. It may be a completely different part of the world than I even named here!

A blessing to add: In our quest to eliminate debt, Robert's supplemental job has offered him all the overtime he wants at overtime pay. The problem is finding the additional time!

Oh! I have other exciting news as well. Robert and I have stumbled onto the blog of some IMB missionaries (family of 6 like us, kids about all the same ages – 2 boys, 2 girls) who are in language school right now in Costa Rica. Reading their blog has given insights into the transitions we will be making, emotions that we and our children might experience, etc. But the neat part is seeing another normal family like us just following God and getting to share in their journey and pray for them. And by the way, we are normal!!! Just because God asks us to go overseas doesn't mean we're somehow different than any other Christian who is striving to follow God and share their faith with those who don't know Him. I mean look at Samuel . . . he eats dirt like every other 17 month old out there. It doesn't get any more normal than that!

30 October 2007

Happy Birthday Elizabeth!

Today our youngest girl is 4.

She came into this world in quite a dramatic way. We were at the hospital, my water had broken and my doctor was just down the hall. He knew from the last delivery that towards the end everything comes fast and hard. I was definitely into the last part of labor. What we hadn't anticipated was the awful nurse that was attending me that night. She was rude and very sarcastic . . . assuming she knew more than me about when to call the doctor. She ended up delivering Elizabeth without even time for rubber gloves. My first glimpse of that sweet little newborn babe is ingrained in my memory for all time. She was so alert, and never cried a tear. Her blue eyes locked on my brown and in that instant we bonded in a mother/daughter relationship that has certainly blessed my life.

There are so many things to tell about Elizabeth. She loves to cook . . . anything from toasting bagels to fajitas. She is very adventurous . . . she's held a snake, gone down the steepest, scariest of slopes, traversed into the darkest of caves and jumped right off the diving board, all with not a hint of fear or caution. And with all of that, she remains the girliest of girls. She is genuinely sweet and quite sentimental. She is also very loving. She can sometimes be a little manipulative in her quest to have things her way!! She is full of zest for life. At 3 and 1/2 years old she was a beginning reader. This was her idea . . . I never would have even contemplated starting her in readers before the age of 4. She is quite independent!

But best of all, she loves Jesus. She's given Him her heart, although I can't say exactly when. At an early 3 she shared with us she had asked Jesus in her heart. And to tell you the truth, we were rather dismissive. How can a 3 year old understand enough about Jesus and sin and forgiveness? But here's what I do know . . . He lives in her heart and she loves Him. When exactly He became Lord of her life is a mystery to me, but certainly one I can live with (as the WHEN seems so insignificant to the WHAT!). And she prays . . . and prays . . . and prays for just about everyone who crosses her path, and seems to never forget a prayer request.

Yesterday we celebrated her birthday together as a family. We are all thankful for God sending us Elizabeth. May we be the stewards God wants us to be as we continue to raise her.

Here's some pictures!