31 January 2008

A Sad State of Affairs, part 2

There are those who would orchestrate events to center around themselves, make themselves out to be a martyr and implore an outrageous vocabulary of obscure words to over-impress their loyal following.

There are those who thump their Bible publicly, sacrilegiously touting a prosperity gospel that the desperate and unenlightened just may buy ($) into, doing more to send someone to hell than to reach them with the Gospel of Christ.

There are Christian hedonists who think that God is all about their satisfaction, too focused on self-fulfillment and their own experience of God to ever contemplate the vastness of God and His purposes that may in fact include our suffering and brevity of physical life.

There are entertaining churches filled with consumeristic Christians.

There are hyper Calvinists who believe that they are chosen and that others are damned . . . that God's sacrifice was only for some and their focus is personal growth.

There are Arminians who believe that the blood of the lost is on their own personal hands . . . that their presentation of the gospel is paramount, disregarding that the power is in the gospel itself, that the Spirit draws the unbeliever and that God's gift of eternal life is secure.

There are many who practice idolatry under the guise of Christianity.

And, sadly, there are many who blaspheme the Holy Spirit, rejecting the gift of eternal life.

all of this and more in a culture where politicians deceive, unwed mothers abort, married couples divorce, consumerism rules, greed is a way of life, violence and suicides plague daily life; and enjoyment, entertainment and possession are the highest of aspirations

This is pride, and our society, both secular & non, is permeated with it. What happens next? Sure we're in a period of grace, but how far will we as a culture be allowed to go? God only knows. We do know He does not change. He offered much grace to Israel & Judah - - but there came a time to pay a price for the pride of kings and nations. There was even reckoning for the pride of heathen kings and nations (remember Nebuchanezzar & Belshazzar?)

Is pride a sin that is at the root of all other sin? It seems that way to me. So then, how do we combat it? Can we combat it? We all possess the capacity to be totally consumed by it. And to not be is a continual personal choice of emptying ourselves and being filled with the things of God (His Word, namely). And even then, we can fail.

We can't force this choice on the rest of the world. We can pray for conviction, but the humbling of oneself is not just a matter of the Spirit's conviction, it is a matter of responding to it.

So this is where we find ourselves and I guess the conclusion, once again, is that God is God and we are not. He knows where we are right now as a people and as individuals. He knows where we're headed. His glorification and purposes are in no way dependent on us and our choices. So we can love Him, and know Him, enjoy Him, obey and strive to please Him. We can comfort and encourage one another while the day is here.


The previous posting on pride: Sad State Of Affairs, part 1 was posted on 1/5/08

Help Me, I Can't Stop Running

My children love to run . . . especially IN the house. This is by no means a punishable offense in the Hamilton home. In fact, our house is great for it. The kitchen is situated in the center of the downstairs so that my children can run laps from the front room, down the hall, around the corner of the family room, through the kitchen and to the front room again.

At the age of just 3, Joseph (now 5) created a game that has practically become a rite of passage in our home. He would run laps on the course mentioned above while yelling, amidst laughter, "Help me, I can't stop running!" Of course in no time the other children joined in. It is truly a favorite way of my children to expend a little extra of their unending energy.

A couple weeks ago I was sharing with a dear friend over a cup of coffee how when I see them running and laughing and chanting this phrase, I think of Elijah. He walked so very many miles for God, but he ran also. God strengthened him to outrun Ahab's horse drawn chariot at a distance estimated to be about 16 miles. (My friend wondered if Elijah actually had the thought during this very long run of, "Help me, I can't stop running!"!!! ~ what a great thought!)

Many of us want to have such zeal for our Lord that when He privileges us with a task for Him, we run to do it. (Strikingly opposed to the description of feet who run to evil and are eager for destruction in Proverbs 1. With an over-abundance of feet who hastily run to evil, we should desire to have feet that run to good and are eager to do God's will.) And in running, we want to "run and not grow weary" Isaiah 40:31. God's word tells us to do this:

Hebrews 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.

1 Cor. 9:24-25 Surely you know that many runners take part in a race, but only one of them wins the prize. Run, then, in such a way as to win the prize. Every athlete in training submits to strict discipline, in order to be crowned with a wreath that will not last; but we do it for one that will last forever.

And while this is encouraging and motivating (at least to me anyway) I was reminded by another friend this morning that it is essential to rest. Elijah was a go-getter in every aspect of the term. But he rested also. God Himself orchestrated and even forced Elijah into times of much needed rest (at the brook and with the widow, the 40 day journey and Mt. Horeb).

David ran, but David also rested. And the most beautiful of Psalms and praise in our Bible came from both . . . times of resting and times of running.
Paul, Jeremiah, Abraham, Daniel, Jesus - - they all rested.

Running can be fun! (especially if it involves no shoes and socks that slide on the wooden floor!). But running is too exhausting if we're trying to run on our own strength. And even running by the power of God's strength, we all need rest. We're invited by Christ Himself to rest.

Resting accomplishes great things . . . it renews our strength (a prerequisite to running), it gives a much needed fresh perspective, it is a time of focus, adoration and intimacy with our Lord, it is a time of restoring our soul and healing, and it is a time of learning.

30 January 2008

God Is The Strength Of My Heart

We are headed to the IMB (International Mission Board) Candidate Conference in March. We are excited about many aspects of this week. Among interviews, medical examinations and a number of classes to attend, we will get to meet a host of people at the IMB. We will also have the opportunity to learn more about our people group in Caxias do Sul, more about the language school in Brazil and the school the children will be attending while we are in language school.

We received the official invitation on Monday (28th) and faxed our information back so that all the arrangements for travel and accommodation can be made.

And now I come to the part about my weakness. In my mind I have been preparing myself for being absent from my four children for 5 days. Five days in which they would have a wonderful time with my dear inlaws who are coming to stay with them. However, five days, for reasons of necessary traveling arrangements, have turned into seven. I'm not sure what dynamic exists here . . . I mean we're only talking
two more days. This is not a large number. But upon discovery of this fact came tears, and then more tears, and then some more.

In the midst of my emotional unrest I said to Robert, "I don't have the strength to do this." And then it occurred to me. Ahhh! isn't this just the place God likes us to be . . . a place of relying on His strength rather than ours. I have dear friend who was just here - - in a place of no strength of her own and relying completely on God. And God gathered her under His wings of refuge and completely provided for her in a way that only she can describe.

In comparison to the giant she just faced, my dilemma seems pathetic. I know that so many have much more to deal with than 7 days away from their children. But this remains very hard for me.

So I turn to God's Word. A little time in God's word brings an eternal perspective. And once again I remember that these are not my kids. These are God's kids. He's blessed me beyond any words that I understand or know by allowing me to be a steward of them as their mom. Sure I'm going to miss them like crazy. There is no part of me that desires for us to be apart. But then there's God. I'm His possession, and they are His as well. And if that doesn't comfort the soul, I don't know what would.

Does it make it easy? no, it does not. But it does strengthen and it does stretch . . . and maybe that's just what God is intending.

29 January 2008

"Once Upon A Time, God Used A Donkey"

Remember Numbers 22 - - God's use of a donkey in Balaam's disobedience to the glorification of God Himself? I love this story . . . as do my children.

I also enjoy satire. I think the right satire can spur one to great thoughts.

In my opinion, here's satire at it's best:

(from his blog entitled The Assembling of The Church)

Once upon a time, God used a donkey. How foolish! Not today. Today, God has other means of transportation available to him. He uses nice cars - Cadillacs, BMWs, Mercedes, even limos. God even uses jet planes. Why would God want to use something as foolish as a donkey when he has planes available to him?

Once upon a time, God used pagan prophets and philosophers. How foolish! Not today. Nothing good can come from culture. Today, God wants his people to read Christian books, watch Christian movies, and listen to Christian music. If God has something to say, he would never be so foolish as to speak through a pagan.

Once upon a time, God ate with prostitutes, drunks, thieves, and other malcontents. How foolish! Not today. God has enough good people now that he doesn't need to hang out with that sort anymore. It would be foolish for God to be found among the dregs of society today.

Once upon a time, God gathered people in fields, and on a mountain, and in a valley, and in homes, and in a school. How foolish! Not today. If people want to meet with God today, they can come to his house - a church building. Wouldn't it be foolish for people to think that God would come to them when he has beautiful buildings now?

Once upon a time, God spoke through untrained people. How foolish! Not today. There are plenty of college- and university- and seminary-trained people for God to speak through today. He doesn't need to speak through the unlearned. What if they said something wrong? How foolish to think that God would still speak through uneducated people today.

Once upon a time, God called the foolish, weak, and unknown - the nobodies - of society. How foolish! Not today. Now God calls the smart, the powerful, and the celebrities to speak on the lecture circuit, write books, and hold conferences. How foolish to think that we could make it without our Christian celebrities!

Once upon a time, God asked people to drop everything and follow him. How foolish! Not today. God realizes that today we need a steady job with a good salary, a home, two cars, health and life insurance, a good dental plan, excellent schools, vacation, and a retirement plan. Do you foolishly think that God would ask us to follow him without these necessities?

Once upon a time, God expected his people to encourage one another when they met together. How foolish! Not today. Now God has provided us with professionals to handle all the dirty work, to study, to teach, to sing, to deal with problems. How foolish to think that God would expect us to do these things today.

Once upon a time, God wanted his people to trust him completely without relying on their own ability to understand. How foolish! Not today. God knows that people today need to think logically about things, to make reasonable decisions. God knows that we need all the details of his plans, especially the outcome. Do you foolishly think that God still expects us to trust him completely?

Once upon a time, God created and enforced covenants. How foolish! Not today. God now expects us to write our own covenants and to hold people accountable to them. If we don't hold people accountable, then who will? How foolish it would be to think that God is still capable of taking care of his covenants and his children.

Yes, once upon a time, God used a donkey. But we can all see how foolish that would be now. We won't get fooled again.
Won't Get Fooled Again, posted by Alan Knox on his blog entitled The Assembling of the Church, January 16, 2008

"but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God." (I Cor. 1:27-29)

The foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men!!! (v. 25)

28 January 2008

Pin Oaks Christian Fellowship

Yesterday was the day we shared with our church that God is calling us to full-time mission work in Caxias do Sul, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil.

Let me first share a little about Pin Oaks. It will be six years old this year. Robert is the founding pastor, and, truth be told, Pin Oaks was God's will, not ours. We wanted out of this area, but God told both our hearts to stay. And then through our obedience to Him, God began a work that He has continued to grow and bless in such a way that He, and only He, can receive the glory. It is a spiritually vibrant and healthy church. Everything about it is genuine. It's people are earnest in their desire to know, and please, and worship and serve God with their lives. It has truly been a joy, and will continue to be a joy to us . . . like a chapter in a favorite book that has been highlighted and marked and creased and corners folded over.

Having made the big announcement today, we're left with a mixture of emotions: from great excitement, privilege and humility in God's calling us to a new work - - to great sadness of heart at leaving the family of believers we love so dearly. The words of Paul in in the first part of Philippians 1 where he is expressing his affection for them and his thankfulness for their fellowship ring true in our hearts.

We are eager to go to the place that God has called us. We are eager to learn the languages and become a part of the culture where God desires to use us. We are eager to begin this new work for Him. But we are thankful, also, for the time we have had here and the few more months we will have with the brothers and sisters we love so dearly. The support, encouragement and prayers of our church family are overwhelming. It is a blessing, and joy upon joy.

All praise belongs to Him who has given us so great a salvation!

27 January 2008

Prayer Request for family of Tristan Hostetter

Tristan Asher Hostetter surprised the doctors and lived 56 days. His short life made an eternal difference in the lives of a family in Florida, and in many, many more. He went to be with our Lord today. Please keep his family in your prayers.

In case you aren't familiar with him or his family, I wrote and posted about him on January 2nd.

You can learn most about him and his family from their blog which is listed under "Favorite Blogs" in the lower right side of my blog page. Or you can just click here.

26 January 2008

How To Be An "Engine Turtle" part 2

A continuation of "Engine Turtle" part 1 posted on January 24.

It's sometimes easy to forget that we have an enemy . . . one who goes around like a roaring lion seeking who he may devour (I Peter 5:8). But we most certainly do! This enemy is also referred to as the father of lies (John 8:44). his flaming arrows are often aimed right at us (Eph. 6:16). he is our adversary. he wants our lives to be complacent. he wants us to think that we can't make a difference. he wants us to just bump along in this life, never really getting into God's Word and having a perspective that is eternal. This realization can be discouraging . . . as if our own sinful natures were not enough to contend with.

But the good news is that victory can be ours! We are encouraged to "be strong in the Lord and the strength of His might." (Eph. 6:10) The strength of HIS MIGHT! There is no end to the strength of His might! We are then instructed (verses 11-17) to put on the full armor of God. (A relatively good website to share with kids on the specific pieces of armor is here (only that this website is wrong about the foot covering . . . it's not "sandals of peace", but having our feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace which means our knowing and presenting and sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with the lost world.)) There are also coloring pages w/verses, and Armor of God crafts for the craft lovers.

This armor is more than just a protective covering. Romans 13 tells us "The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and
put on the armor of Light." This armor of Light is defined in verse 14 as "putting on the Lord Jesus Christ." This act would of course begin with a repentant heart, seeking forgiveness and professing Christ as Lord and Savior, after which, we stand dressed in His righteousness. But I think this also includes our, through a steady process of walking with God, being transformed to be more and more like Christ.

And Christ Himself admonishes us to "be DRESSED IN READINESS, and keep your lamps lit. Be like men who are waiting for their master when he returns from the wedding feast, so that they may immediately open the door to him when he comes and knocks." (Luke 12:35-36).

We're given a reason for the armor, for the putting on of Jesus Christ and being dressed in readiness. Ephesians 6:12 says "our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places". If, as God's children, we laid aside the deeds of the flesh . . . the sin that entangles and ensnares us, and put on Christ, think of the souls that would be drawn to Him through us!!!!

Yes, we do have an enemy, but in Christ we have no cause to fear.

Psalm 91 . . . we do not have to be afraid of the terror by night or the arrow by day - - He is our refuge and dwelling place; He gives the angels charge concerning us . . . to guard us and bear us up in their hands; we will tread upon the lion and the cobra; we are delivered and secure simply because we have known His name . . .
I John 5 - whatever is born of God overcomes the world
All of Psalm 121
and so many more verses that I would never be able to name here . . . suffice it to say we have the prophecy of how all this ends . . . God wins! (in fact, He has won already). What a blessing He's given to us through His Son to allow us to not only witness His victory, to be partakers of it through His unexplainable grace and mercy, but to even play a part as the cracked pots He graciously shines His Light through.

Yes, we have an enemy. An enemy that one day soon God will crush under our feet (Romans 16:20). But victory is right now for those who don the proper attire!

"but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord. " I Cor. 15:57-58

24 January 2008

How To Be An "Engine Turtle" part 1

This last Friday night Joseph, my 5 year old, had the privilege of spending the night with my parents . . . a treat my 3 oldest children get on a monthly, rotating basis. While he was away, the girls did play. And of all things, they played "Engine Turtles".

Now anyone with children will understand that this is a four year old gross misinterpretation of "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" . . . a program that none of my children have ever seen, but are strangely fond of none the less. Joseph does have a couple figurines that he somehow obtained from happy meal boxes that he never ate. And while I'm on the subject, who in the world would ever think of such a thing - - Teenage (I guess for the aspiring elementary age boy) Mutant (the one descriptive word that I understand completely) Ninja (aren't these agents of Japanese guerrilla warfare?) Turtles (common reptile). ANYWAY, there is occasional, innocent play revolving around these mutated tortoises at our home.

With what would typically be the head turtle away for the evening, the girls raided Joseph's toy chest, donned the acceptable attire and began a girl version of "engine turtles". This endeavor was led by the youngest of the two, Elizabeth. She explained that all engine turtles were boys, but that now there would be girls also. She would have a pink mask and would be "engine turtle Carol". Play ensued, consisting mostly of posing for pictures at the discovery of a camera in the room.

And then it happened. I was instructed on how I too could become an "engine turtle". According to Elizabeth, all I would have to do is raid Joseph's toy chest for dress up, pick an imaginary mask color, come up with a name and then just "use my style" (I guess this last part had something to do with the flash photography.) I wondered how I could ever come up with a name as foreboding as "engine turtle Carol". It was well after bedtime, so I quickly adopted the name "engine turtle Marla" because of how well I thought it would go with Carol.

The evening wound down, teeth brushed, prayers prayed and then bed for the girls. Robert and I very much enjoyed Friday night's "engine turtle" production in the girls room. But what I love most is how God will use my children as an object lesson for me. He did just this in reminding me that it is my job to don the proper attire in order to successfully navigate the time He has graciously given me here on earth.

23 January 2008

The Sinful Nature of the Homeschooled

This topic has been churning around in my mind over the past few weeks. I have intended to write about this, but was beat to the punch so to speak by a fellow blogger named Tony Sisk, aka the "Rambling Prophet". What he wrote has been published on the collaborative blog, SBC Impact, and is entitled "Character Formation in Children: Not A By-Product". It's a very good article and I encourage you to read it.

There is a common misunderstanding or assumption (or maybe a little of both) by homeschooling parents. It is assumed that because we are homeschooling our children that the development of godly character will be a natural result and that many of the temptations that ensnare other children will not entrap them.

My children are very young . . . but I can see in each of them the same sinful nature that every other child possesses, homeschooled or not. My kids inherited it from me and my husband, who inherited it from our parents, who . . . . . . . . . Adam & Eve. And man oh man, is it a human default, or what? My 20 month old began showing his sinful nature 4 months ago. There will be temptation to lie, to boast, to hoard, to not control anger, to not control self, to say the words they shouldn't say, to do the things they shouldn't do, to put their selfish desires first, to expose themselves to things that are not good for them, and I'm not even contemplating with this list the things that must come with hormonal changes in adolescence.

The truth is, we're all plagued by it our entire lives. Choosing a homeschool or private school may shield our children from certain influences and peer pressures that we see as harmful and just too risky. But it does nothing to eradicate the innate desire to put self first and do the things that are wrong.

I truly think our best tool is God's Word. That's what works in the lives of Christian adults. How do we resist temptation? It is knowing God's Word, being filled with the Spirit and yielding our stubborn, prideful natures to His Kingship. And we adults fail at this . . . and our children will fail as well. But we can disciple them, we can teach them what God's Word says, we can gently lead them into a faith and relationship with the Father that is their own. That is our highest calling, and I'm asking God to make me better at fulfilling it!

21 January 2008

Going Public

Today I have opened my blog to public access rather than invitation only.

This really is more of an experiment . . . making my blog more user-friendly to those who have had trouble accessing it. (The disclaimer is that I may shut it back down to invitation only if I decide I'm uncomfortable with sharing so much with those I don't know!)

I began blogging on August 10th of 2007 . . . the day that God revealed His will for us to serve Him in the capacity of long-term missionaries with the International Mission Board.

The purpose of my blogging is to share with others our journey from here to there, and to share other, more personal things as well . . . our family, my thoughts on varying topics, scripture, struggles, prayer requests, other blogs of interest that I come across and occasionally some things I find to just be funny.

You and your comments are quite welcome here, and I'm honored by your visiting and perusing around.

For those of you who have been reading for some time, you can now load the RSS feed and have a handier pull down menu of posts in your tool bar rather than having to load my entire page to see if there's anything new.

20 January 2008

Happy 40th Anniversary to my Mom & Dad!

This day commemorates 40 years that my parents have been married. Below I am pasting the surprise article my dad ran in the local paper that he owns.

All 40 years of their marriage they have devoted their lives to serving the Lord. What God has accomplished through them in the past 40 years amazes me. (and I'm not just referring to their survival of my teenage years !!)

I'm truly blessed to have them for my parents . . . my brother and husband would say the same.

Augghh! Intermittently throughout the day I have tried to convert the pdf I have of the article my dad wrote about their 40th anniversary to a jpeg so I could post it here . . . all to no avail. If I gain the know-how anytime in the near future, I'll return and add it below!!

18 January 2008

A Tale of 3 Stitches

My bolt and run, tough and tumble, pugnacious 19 month old boy got a trip to the ER yesterday and received 3 stitches above his lip. In short, he pulled a very small television down from a playroom bookshelf onto his face. From downstairs I heard the “thud” and came thundering up. This tough guy, blood rubbed all over his little face, was fine from the moment I picked him up. Nevertheless, the episode dominated the day.

Robert, who was testing computers at the time and whom I could only contact by text message, had to stop what he was doing and come home to escort Sam to the ER while I tried to continue our homeschool day.

Samuel, by the way was a trooper. God answered mine and my oldest 3 children's prayers to make this a very gracious ER visit. Samuel's behavior was remarkable and made it easy for Robert; and the nurses and doc who attended him were outstanding.

15 January 2008

What Kind Of School Am I Running Here?

Talk about unorthodox. The Hamilton homeschool is it. I have 3 current pupils with a 19 month old contender up and coming. We fly by the seat of our pants most of the time. But learning does take place . . . and even discipleship.

Truly I think we are somewhere between homeschooling and unschooling. Those who would subscribe to the idea of unschooling would say I'm not an unschooler. We do have curriculum, but it is unscheduled and done when it works for us. Those who are more structured homeschoolers would think I'm just nuts.

I started the school year with a schedule, some 'teacher books' that accompany the curriculum and a routine. Soon after the schoolyear began the schedules, the teacher books and the routine were toted out to the curb with the diapers and other garbage we escort to the sidelines of our suburban street on a regular basis.

But I guess that's what homeschooling is all about . . . doing what works for us regardless of the opinions, successes or failures of others.

Case in point was today, which began with a rough start. I was diagnosed with hip bursitis yesterday and given a cortisone shot in the right hip. (that's right, even 38 year olds can have bursitis . . . I went online to find some hip bursitis jokes . . .there are none. but i did find one thing funny:a link that says "Find Hip Bursitis Coupons, Deals and Discounts.") Anyway, I awoke with some soreness this morning.. . . enough to warrant an over the counter pain pill. (In hindsight . . . the Motrin would have been a wiser choice.) I took the Aleve. And for some reason it, and what I ate for breakfast, refused to stay in my stomach!!

Needless to say, the kids found extra free time this morning and made the most of it. Then we did Bible study. After Bible study I still wasn't feeling quite right so I put a movie on for them: The Veggie Tales version of Jonah. It's a movie that they haven't seen in such a long time, and have been requesting to see again for weeks.

After lunch we cleaned house. Then we did math and language arts. We signed cards for aunt and grandmother who are soon to have a birthday. Afterwards was outside playtime, followed by reading. Elizabeth (4) actually read to Katherine (7) today while Joseph (5) read to me and Samuel napped. I'm so proud of Katherine. She did very well. She was patient and careful to not tell any words to Elizabeth, but to just encourage her to try again if she sounded out a word incorrectly.

We did not do science or hand writing or history or spelling or read-a-louds (of which is rarity . . . we NEVER skip read-a-louds). But I'm proud of the day we did have. I'm proud of most of the days we have . . . but a camera hidden in our house somewhere would most likely warrant ridicule and possibly even interference from the nosiest, most opinionated of today's homeschool culture. I'm okay with that!

14 January 2008

A Quote - Resting on His Blood & Righteousness

Here's a quote I read on a blog today . . . one that I frequent on a regular basis just from interest. I'm pasting it in to save my readers from outclicking to yet another blog.

I don't know anything of the author . . . but I sure do like the quote:

"There is nothing in us or done by us, at any stage of our earthly development, because of which we are acceptable to God. We must always be accepted for Christ’s sake, or we cannot ever be accepted at all. This is not true of us only when we believe. It is just as true after we have believed. It will continue to be true as long as we live. Our need of Christ does not cease with our believing; nor does the nature of our relation to Him or to God through Him ever alter, no matter what our attainments in Christian graces or our achievements in behavior may be. It is always on His “blood and righteousness” alone that we can rest."

B. B. Warfield on why the gospel is needed for believers

13 January 2008

This and That

So little time for blogging these days . . . but here's some updates!

  • Samuel has reached, in his sweet 19 month old mind, a pinnacle of accomplishments. He can climb to the top of the dining room table. (Mom needs to be a little more on top of making sure everything gets cleared off the table after breakfast!) We grabbed camera and giggled as we watched him truly enjoy himself for a "second breakfast"?

Hallelujah, I've made it to the top of the table!

Ahh! it's the sugary good stuff!

Second breakfast!

  • We have shared with some of our friends from church about God's leading in our lives to the Italian Brazilians of Caxias do Sul, Brazil, and our process of appointment with the International Mission Board. Those with whom we have been able to get one on one with so far are encouraging and supportive, but at the same time a little saddened to lose pastor and pastor's wife, and of the future long-distance friendship vs. the close fellowship we enjoy now.
  • QUESTION: Are you as disgusted as I am in Bush calling on Israel to end their "occupation"? In case you've missed this, check out this story . There is also an interesting post on a blog I frequent that gives what this "request" specifically means for Israel.
  • Here is a great way for memorizing Scripture. You join for free, pick your program or design your own program for Scripture memory. Then you receive an email daily to help you in learning the verse you're on (1 verse a week). If it is a verse you already know, you can advance to the next. The brilliant way to use this is to review, review, review. I'm in my 6th week of using this program and have memorized 10 verses so far. There are many other tools out there for reading, studying, hearing and memorizing God's word that are free.
  • And, last of all, "Dance, Dance Revolution". We are PS2ers, when time allows, and through Robert's supplemental job he acquired a dance pad and game disc. It is fun . . . although I have proven to my family (I've been telling Robert this for years) that I am the most uncoordinated person when it comes to things like this. It's fun all the same. We have dual dance pads and can compete against one another. (Pictures are forthcoming!)

09 January 2008

Sharing Christ With Those Who Don't Know Him

Here is a useful post I came across today put out by Lifeway. It is viable research on the unchurched of the good ol' U.S. . . . what theunchurched think about church, what they think about someone sharing their faith, etc. all conducted by USA Today. I share it here on my blog for anyone who is interested in reaching the lost of our culture (that should be ALL of us)!

The emphasis of it is our being relational and sharing our faith.

Here's some methods for sharing Christ with others. It's enormously useful to be familiar with the methods, but the most important thing that God keeps impressing on my heart is to just know His Word and be led by the Spirit.

One Verse Evangelism - (The Navigators)
- good, very simple evangelism
method, but a little rewording needs to be done as anyone without Christ needs to be led to repentance. It might be good to add this where the word "trust" is discussed.

F. A. I. T. H. - a very good method and the training for the program is done very well. The only hang up is that it could be misconstrued in a way that makes it the "selling heaven" method. Lifeway has apparently re-vamped the training of this program and it was to be released in December. I have yet to see the new materials, but anticipate that it will be very good. The last training program was very good.

Romans Road - tried and true . . .this method has been around for a long time.

The Way Of The Master - street witnessing (to people you don't know) that seems to be connecting with the culture.

The Four Spiritual Laws - another method that claims great success

Evangelism Explosion - tried and true again . . . been around a long time . . . can, again, be misconstrued as "selling heaven" and seems to gloss over the repentance part a little. Faith/trust is key, but repentance is key also.

This list is by no means comprehensive . . . but just the ones I'm familiar with. And again, these are good tools, but they are only tools. God is teaching me that the most important thing is reliance on Him!

A word of caution . . .beware of any program that claims there is only one correct way, or even one most effective way, to share Christ.

08 January 2008

Beautiful Feet

That's right. I took a picture of my kids feet the first of this week. And throughout the week we're talking about what the Bible has to say about feet. It's fun, and I share it here not to educate anyone reading, but to just have something my kids and I can go back to and remember our talk of feet.

As an aside, I love the feet of children . . . especially babes. They are just wonderful to me . . . fun to play with and look at.

We started, of course, with the One whose feet were pierced for us. Psalm 22:16. It's a beautiful thing to see such young hearts so tender for the Savior who died in their place.

We talked of the woman in Luke 7 (v. 36-50) who washed the feet of Jesus with her tears. We talked of footwashing: a civility very common in those hot countries, where walking without stockings, and only with sandals, they needed washing. This was usually done by the servants of the house. Jesus had been invited to dine at the home of this Pharisee but had not been given water to even wash His own feet. We talked of the sinfulness of this woman, the love Jesus has for the lost and the example she set in worshiping. The extravagance of washing His feet with her tears and drying His feet with her hair, the extravagance of the perfume all for Jesus. She had no consideration for appearances.

We talked of Mary anointing the feet of Jesus with expensive perfume in the presence of many others at the home of the resurrected Lazarus (John 12).

We talked of Jesus washing the feet of the disciples, illustrating His humility and setting an example of forgiving one another and serving one another sacrificially. (John 13)

We've talked of the "foot of pride" (Psalm 36:11); how God's Word is a lamp to our feet (Psalm 119:105); and a warning that there are feet who run to evil . . . who swiftly and hastily are eager for destruction (Proverbs 1).

Today we will talk of beautiful feet (Romans 10:15) . . . the feet that are shod with the gospel of peace (Ephesians 6) and bring good news of Jesus' love and forgiveness to the lost. We will talk of the promise of satan one day being crushed under our feet (Romans 16:20); And that one day we will be able to worship at the very feet of Jesus (Rev. 22).

And there's much, much more. . . many verses of God's providence . . . of His not allowing our feet to slip, not allowing us to stumble, putting our feet on high places, enlarging our steps so we do not fall, subduing enemies under our feet, and the list goes on, and on.

Have you noticed the trend as of late for (especially in the summer time) of feet that are pampered, manicured, adorned and even massaged? Not that there's anything wrong with any of this. In fact, this last summer I saw some very pretty feet. Although I quickly must add some if this is tied with our cosumeristic and self-centered culture.

I have feet that are, especially this time of year, dry and cracky. I have, what I like to call, chubby toes. I've never thought my feet are very pretty. And, in truth, I have never cared much that they are not.

But I want my spiritual feet to be lovely. I want feet that are shod with the gospel of peace; feet that bring good news to those who are oppressed by simply the fact they do not know the love of our Lord. I want my heart and my lips to be full of praise for the God who sets my feet on high places, who enlarges my steps so I do not fall and who keeps my feet from stumbling. I want my children to stand secure on the promises of God and I want the path of our feet to always be enlightened by the Lamp that is the Word of God.

All the while yearning for the day that satan is crushed under my feet and, most of all, the day that I may worship at the feet of Jesus.

It is my prayer for my family, myself and for you, my reader, that your feet be swift to do the will of God, that your feet carry you to share the good news of our Lord to those who need it and your path forever be enlightened by the Word of our Lord.

05 January 2008

A Sad State of Affairs, part 1

A well known pastor blogger in the blogworld has blatantly, falsely and very publicly accused an upright brother in Christ of racism. Taking words completely out of context and then twisting them in such a way as to bring political advantage to himself within his denomination is what he is guilty of doing. This is a "man of God" who is to be a model to the church he pastors and the community in which he lives. I am repulsed by his behavior and await a public apology. I am not giving details of names and webites because I have no desire to draw readers of my blog into the muck and mire of self-elevation, lies and pride. But I do want to use this circumstance to address an issue that is so prevalent in the community of believers, and that would be the issue of pride.

At the heart of slander, attacks, wrong assumptions and accusations is pride. It is arrogance that causes one to think that their interpretation and opinion of another's words is more accurate than the intentions of the author/speaker of them. What if all relationships were like this? What if our marriages, friendships, co-worker relationships, etc. were all based on our opinion of what someone has said rather than ever taking care to learn the true intentions? What if we dealt with Scripture this way . . . our interpretation rather than a hermeneutical effort, our reliance on the Spirit within us and the other Scripture to determine what the Bible is really saying? There are many, many false religions that have resulted from just this very thing. I'm sure you catch my drift here . . . the meaning of words lies with the author of them.

Pride can be exposed as it was by the servants of Naaman in 2 Kings 5. Naaman's prideful heart was offended by being addressed by Elishas's servant rather than Elisha himself. He was offended by even the idea of going down into the dirty Jordan river. However, at the urging of his servants, he had a change of heart. He humbled himself and went into the Jordan 7 times as Elisha's messenger had instructed. As a result, Naaman was was cleansed.

Pride can be exposed, but exposure alone does not accomplish the cleansing and healing that is necessary. There has to be a change of heart. We are given many examples in Scripture of those who were filled with pride and never were repentant and cleansed of that. It is sad, and I pray that this will not be the case in the recent chain of events on the SBC blogworld.

Our job remains living in such a way as to be ready to give an account . . . making the most of our time here on earth. It means encouraging and lifting one another up as the Spirit prompts. It means discerning truth in all circumstances. It means being humble and guarding our hearts against the destructiveness of pride as our inherent sinful natures make all of us prone to it. It also means revealing pride, warning others and holding one another accountable for the damaging effects that pride has on another brother in Christ.

Pride is a matter of the heart. It's effects are damaging and long reaching. A dear friends recent call to prayer is a poignant call indeed. What remains to be seen is whether or not there will be a personal choice, a changed heart, resulting in a repentance, cleansing and healing. I hope so.

03 January 2008

Recruiting Prayer Partners

We are looking for prayer partners . . . . people who are willing and committed to interceding for the lost of Caxias do Sul and the surrounding area, and who will pray for us through our appointment process, language school and time in the mission field. The people who partner with us will receive detailed information (probably by means of a monthly email or newsletter) on specific prayer requests. If you are willing to partner with us in prayer, please contact us and let us know.

Prayer is our most coveted and vital objective right now. The best and most effective way you can take an active part in this ministry is through your prayers.

Please join with us in what God is calling us to do and begin praying with us for God to condition the hearts of the people in Caxias do Sul to be receptive to the sharing of Christ. Please pray as well for the elimination of our debt, the selling of our house, the selling of our assets, our health and our ability to keep our eyes fixed on the vision and calling that God has placed before us. Our desire is to have a minimum of 100 intercessors committed to regular prayer for the lost of Caxias do Sul and for us before leaving for the mission field. Would you faithfully partner with us?

02 January 2008

Tristan Hostetter

I have, through a recent email, come in contact with a family in Florida . . . the Hostetter's. The purpose of this posting is to ask you to join me in prayer for them. Here's a synopsis of their story. And here's where you can get a better understanding of T-18 or Edward's Syndrome.

What I love about them is that they are celebrating every moment of this boys life. It is beautiful. They are focused on Tristan and on what God is accomplishing in them through this heart-wrenching season of life.

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

Speed Bumps and Potholes

We have, along with our IMB candidate consultant, developed a timeline that would most likely put us overseas in language school in October. (wondering where we're going? - click here) However, we have had some recent and some current medical issues which are causing the money that would be used for debt elimination to be allocated toward doctors, tests and a visit to the ER (which, as medical things always do, add up to an large amount). This would slow down our process of getting to the mission field. We do have medical insurance which is provided to us by the church, but the deductibles and copays will be hitting us hard and don't fit into our current budget.

So we have a couple of options. The first option is to delay our timeline. I don't know what the alternate timeline would be as of yet, but when I do, I will post it. The other option is to try and raise some support. With the International Mission Board we are completely supported through the Cooperative Program of the Southern Baptist Convention. Our IMB support will begin when we are in Virginia for our orientation (August on the current timeline). But in order to continue on this timeline, we will need some additional support to cover the recent medical expenses and help with the elimination of some debt such as seminary and some past medical expenses.

So in the next few nights, Robert and I will be writing a support letter. We had been intending to write one anyway, seeking prayer support. But now we will share our need for financial support as well. Please keep us in your prayers. (This is an enormously hard task for me, but I'm blessed to be married to a man who, in a situation such as this, is good to ante up and do what needs to be done.)

I share this information on my blog not seeking financial support, but prayer support. Please continue in prayer for debt elimination and the selling of our house. And please add to your prayers our health, and that we would keep our eyes on the vision God has set before us and not get discouraged by the speed bumps and potholes along the way. And, as always, please pray for the people of Caxais do Sul, that God would condition their hearts for the gospel.

01 January 2008

A New Year Is Upon Us!

Last year was yet another year of our earthly experience of God's phenomenal grace. It was filled with blessings and trials, happiness and sadness, easy times and hard.

The year starting today holds many challenges for our family and I am comforted by the assurances that we are His possession and our citizenship is in heaven. I am grateful for the time and opportunities we are allowed here on earth and ask God wisdom, discernment and power to make the most of them this year.

Join me in resolution to make this a year for sharing Christ, defeating obstacles that stand in our way and living our lives purposefully for the glory and honor of our most deserving God.

At this start of the new year my focus is on this passage of Scripture: 2 Cor. 3:4 - 2 Cor. 5:9. I hope you are encouraged, strengthened and given a more eternal perspective by it as I am.

Thanks for taking time to peak into our lives through the blog and joining with us in yet another year of Adventuring With God.

Happy New Year!