Thursday, April 26, 2007

While in the seventh grade, Kara heard a young man share during a book report at school. He told his classmates how they could have a personal relationship with Jesus. She had given her heart to Jesus, but was not living for Him.

This young man startled her with his boldness, especially for such a small little guy. She fell under conviction and knew that this was how she must live her life. Something within her changed that day. This was who she wanted to be. One who was bold for Christ.

Over two years later, this young man would be hospitalized with an infection contracted while serving the Lord in a foreign land.

Word traveled quickly through his former school and community. Kara and some of her friends began to leave this young man messages on a blog site established to keep others updated on his condition. Kara would share about that day back in seventh grade. How moved she was at his ability to take a stand for Jesus. She could not believe he would do so, in the presence of so many non-believers. It changed her life. She surrendered herself to being more like Jesus, and telling others about Him when she had opportunity.

Around 19 months later, the tables would turn.

It was Kara who was filled with the Spirit of God and boldness to take on a difficult task. Her Student Venture club (a para-church student organization) helped organize a community event, called Carmel Idol (held at Carmel High School- where Lauren and Whitney both graduated). The event was complete with 10 participants vying for the rights to be considered the best. The field was very talented, but this competition was established for a different reason.

Jeff Saturday from the Superbowl Champion Indianapolis Colts, would come toward the end of the event and share his testimony. The crowd was loud and at times unruly as he did. Certainly not the desired response!

Kara knew she should be nervous as she listened to Jeff and the less than desirable response from part of the crowd. What had brought her to this point? Why did she have to follow a "World Champion" in his field?

Strangely, a calm came over her. She was filled with peace.

Jeff concluded, and Kara moved to the microphone. This junior in high school stood before a crowd of over a thousand people. She began to share the journey of young man who had such a powerful impact on her own life. After telling his story, she played a dvd with pictures of him on the mission field, video of him sharing his testimony and pictures of him in the hospital. The dvd was set to the music of MercyMe. Specifically, a song called "I Would Die for You," inspired by this same young man's life.

Six and a half minutes later, the song ended and the formerly unruly crowd had grown deeply still. Kara proceeded to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. She was not ashamed. She was not afraid.

She led the group in prayer.

Over 200 people surrendered their hearts to the Lordship of Jesus. This, in one of the wealthiest schools in the state of Indiana, where there is no perceived need for a Savior.

The boldness of a seventh grade boy, the boldness of a 17 year old young lady, the boldness of a 30 something year old Super Bowl Champion, is the same boldness that is available to you and me, if we will just surrender our inhibitions about what this is all about, and live and speak for the Spotless Lamb.

When this seventh grade boy lived in this same community, he obtained a poster of this same team. A poster of this same man. It was autographed and it adorned his wall. Even after he moved, he carried it with him. He heard that this man was a believer, and he was inspired that in spite of his fame and success, he still served Jesus. With no fame, he also served. So too, is Kara.

Go and do likewise.


Thank you for your prayer covering for our quick trip to Mexico! The Lord blessed it and has inspired some new works! Deanna and I leave for Indy this afternoon. I will write when I can, it just depends on access and time.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Brent and I were unable to connect last night on the phone. He ended up sending me a text. I don’t even know if he received my text in reply. When I tried to call him, I got a Spanish speaking “not in service” type message, “por favor.” It’s good he’ll be home tonight and we’ll get all the news, Lord willing.

I was thankful I had a friend over and we were busy, actually I was busy talking her ear off. We laughed and had a sweet time. I made a delicious new cabbage salad discovered from our friends who had us over at Easter. It’s got sunflower seeds and sliced almonds in it – what salad could be better with those ingredients? I ask you…

Did you know J. R. R. Tolkien (Lord of the Rings author) was friends with C. S. Lewis? C. S. Lewis was actually an atheist and an Oxford professor with Tolkien for many years. They would walk and have discussions about Christianity; Tolkien may have been the only one who could talk with Lewis on his level of intelligence. The makings of “Mere Christianity” for sure. I found this fascinating! After our discussion last night, I have resolved to read the “Chronicles of Narnia” again to get a fresh appreciation. It’s been years and I don’t really remember anyway…

Have a great day!


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

I’d love to take a survey of people to see how happy they are in their jobs. It seems so many are not. I know I go back and forth arguing my position. Middle school is a different atmosphere than elementary in so many ways. It’s easy to see why it’s not most teacher’s top choice. I’m continually reminded of the rough patches BJ overcame at such an age. Yet, my school has teachers that I think are exceptionally caring and highly qualified. For the most part they love it there and are able to keep disappointing behaviors in perspective. I have the utmost respect for them. The need is great and somebody has to do it!

God has shown me again and again that “It’s not about me.” Hmmm… That’s the slogan on mine and BJ’s t-shirts from a mission trip in 2005. Appropriate. My happiness in my position/ career and circumstances in life is not to be the issue. Doing what God wants me to is.

Perspective. It’s seems I’m always thinking and talking about perspective. How you view things and people and our God makes all the difference.

Several stories come to mind that we have a different perspective on now and especially since we have lost a son. Abraham offering Isaac as a sacrifice. It seems such a ludicrous thing for God to ask from our earthly perspective. When BJ was 6 feet in the air on a motorcycle lift at the hospital, Brent kept thinking about Abraham and Isaac and that moment Abraham offered his son. When Brent shares our story, it is my favorite one and continues to move me. Isaac saw there was no lamb. What if Isaac, in unusual “teenage” wisdom, said “Dad, I know you’re scared, but I believe God is going to deliver me through this. But even if he doesn’t, that’s OK ‘cause I’ll be with Him.” (BJ’s words after the blood test revealed how seriously sick he was.)

How often do we pray to be delivered from our situation? When maybe that's not the right attitude. Do we trust God enough to give us strength in the difficulty? I feel ill-equipped to teach middle schoolers, but I'm on my knees every day asking God for help. He's getting me through each day in sometimes surprising ways. Thank you Father for holding my hand - I'm counting on that firm grip!


Around 6 p.m. last night, I heard from Brent. They arrived safely in Nuevo Laredo. Thank you for your prayers for them. We know it’s a long shot, but we’re praying he gets to see Sylvia – he told her story when we got back from spring break.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Thank you so very much for your incredibly generous responses. We are very moved by them, and appreciate them greatly!

The Lord has been showing me the enormity of His grace. While that should not surprise me, for some reason it does.

I listen to sermons on my i-Pod while I run. Between those and one a friend recently gave me on dvd, I have seen in new light, how very small I am. How very little my life is compared to all that God has done. Not just people, but all of His creation.

That we as people spend so much time trying to convince ourselves and others of our value, just doesn't make any sense. In the big picture, I should just be seeking to glorify God. I should be doing all I can to point others to Him. I need to go to greater lengths to show Christ to those I encounter.

There are so many lost people out there. Not one of us is capable of doing much about that by ourselves. Our cities are filled with millions of people, and only small fractions get it. When you travel down the road and see the sheer numbers of them, it is so obvious that without an all-knowing, all-powerful and all-present God, the task of winning them to Christ could not be accomplished.

Yet His word tells us to look at the sparrow. I have not been to any part of the world that does not have sparrows. They are everywhere! There are so many of them, and most consider them a nuisance, yet God knows each one, and wants us to stop and consider them.

I don't know the ratio of sparrows to people on this planet, but I know God knows and had His hand in creating each and every one. He knows them all by name. He knows you and me by name. Names are so important to Him, that He renames many that He calls into service.

I know my parents love me and gave me a name. They have called me by it for my whole life. Sometimes it has other words attached to it, (if I have been out of line) but I still recognize their voice when they called it out. Yeah, I not only have a name, but I recognize the voices of those who love me when I hear them.

If the God of the universe has taken the time to be present for me, to name me, to surround me with others who love me, and to show me the calling He has for me, who am I that I have the nerve to get so busy, that I try to accomplish other things? Self serving things that don't bring Him glory!

Even then, He offers me His Amazing Grace! I am truly humbled at His breadth, and vastness.
I do not deserve all He has provided. Yet He keeps on giving to me. His love is astounding!

How and why do we sit on this kind of information? This kind of relationship will bring life to the lifeless! Hope to the hopeless! A Father to the fatherless! Love to the unlovable!

It is a sin not to share what we have in Christ! We must!


I am on my way to Mexico! Yay!

Friday, April 20, 2007

It has been an interesting journey, writing on this site. Obviously, it began as a method of getting the word out about our son during a very difficult time. It was a place of tremendous prayer and encouragement. We sensed the Lord was doing a great work in and through our time here. It was and is a healing place.

It went through a phase where it became a place for prayer requests to be shared and for the body of Christ to intercede on behalf of many who needed a covering. That was a blessing to us as well. That has seemingly ended.

Too often recently, it has seemed more of a desert place. A place where fewer and fewer gather, and have less and less to say. A place that you want to grow out of and get back to that mountain top, to visit face to face with the Almighty.

The truth is, we continue writing here regardless of measurable impact, because the Lord has not released us from it. It is not a small responsibility to do this so frequently. There are times (as with any role we play in life) that I would love to walk away from it. To invest in a place where the difference you make is more obvious. That would be wrong. It would be self serving.

The Lord has used to grow us, heal us, encourage us, and call us to continued obedience.

We continue to hear from many of you through email, myspace, facebook, etc. about what is going on in your life, and how God is using you. We are very thankful for this. We also continue to hear that God is using this site, even though it cannot be seen, to further His kingdom.

We are most thankful for those of you we know are out there, that the Lord is blessing and using. Your faithfulness and obedience is making a difference for the kingdom.

So, for those who feel sadness, pity, or perhaps that this should end soon, as its following has trailed off, just know that we do not write to gain or keep a following. We write out of obedience. If we are not faithful in the small things, how can we be trusted with larger things?

To catch you up, the book is at the publisher. It has been there since Easter. It is due out in January of 2008. We are very excited about it!

I am headed back to Mexico for a set-up trip on Monday, and will return Wednesday. On Thursday, we go to Indiana for Lauren's graduation (from Indiana Wesleyan Univ). We will move her here to Tulsa for the time being. She is waiting on the Lord to reveal her next steps after her India trip this summer. We won't be back in Tulsa until Monday night (April 30th).

Whitney completes her sophomore year at IUPUI the week after Lauren finishes, and will come to Tulsa for a few days with family. She will return to Indy to work and then go back to school in the fall.

As always, we will continue to write when we can. Perhaps Deanna will write while I am away.

Thank you for your prayer support.


Thursday, April 19, 2007

Among other things, Deanna and I are busy preparing for a summer in Peru. We are taking a team to serve in many of the same areas BJ ministered in. We will be working with Pastor Tito (Peruvian Pastor), that many of you saw or met at BJ's funeral celebration. We are very excited to be able to go back and serve with Tito in the land where he resides, knowing we are walking some of the streets where Beej served.

The Lord has assembled a team that we are very excited about. The majority are made up of students who are the age BJ would be if he were returning. Somehow that blesses us in ways we cannot really articulate.

As we are getting to know the students on our team, we see the enemy begin to attack, and we see the Lord bringing protection. This is to be expected, but it is frustrating at times.

One of the younger students on our team is Nicole. She recently turned 16 and her parents purchased her a truck for her birthday.

Sunday night, she was driving home from church. It was a rainy night, and she is a new driver. I am told she had dropped a friend off on her way, and so was on a back road. As she was driving in unfamiliar territory, she hit a pothole. This disrupted her steering, and caused her to careen towards a tree stump.

Her truck hit the tree stump which catapulted her vehicle end over end down an embankment. When she came to rest, she was upside down. Her truck was destroyed.

She released her seat belt, and crawled out her window. She made her way back up to the road, and found that another car had seen her plight, and had already called an ambulance.

She was transported to the hospital, where for the next several hours, she was treated for the many bruises, she acquired.

The miracle in this is that she should not have walked away. The crumpled metal that housed her body serves as a testimony that she should have perished.

Not only did she not die, but she walked away with no open cuts, just bruises. After two or three hours at the ER, she was released.

Nicole is a living testimony to God's protection, provision, and plan for what He wants to accomplish through this team. She is aware that her life was spared. She is confident of the Lord's call on her life, and His desire to see her serve Him this summer.

We are privileged to be able to serve alongside the Nicole's of this world, whom the Lord loves, spares, and has a plan for. She will have the opportunity to share her faith 150 times or more this summer. She will impact the world for Jesus. Not because she is more valuable than others, but because she is willing, she is obedient to the call.

Praise God for sparing her life! I cannot wait to see what He will do through her and the rest of this team!


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

It is impossible to make sense of the Virginia Tech shootings. Our prayer support is extended to the families and friends of those who lost and those who have seen such horror on the VT campus.

The bottom line is that we must be ready, and must do what we can to assure that others are ready.

My sympathies run deep. I cannot imagine what it would be like to lose a loved one under such insane circumstances. There is no justice, when one takes judgment into his own hands and begins to impose his will. He is a victim of the enemy when given to carrying out such heinous acts.

When we view such a terrible event it, we must not lose our focus. We must keep our perspective...Christ's perspective. Regardless of who we are or where we come from, we need to be willing to share with the people we encounter. The person with whom we intervene, may be the next potential shooter.

We cannot make a difference, but Christ in us can make all the difference in the world. The task is overwhelming.

I heard one student with a bullet wound in his shoulder offer forgiveness to the shooter, no matter who he was. The shocked interviewer did not know how to respond. When we allow Christ to speak and minister through us, those who always have words will grow speechless. The message of forgiveness under such unbelievable circumstances will rise to the top, and astound our world. That is because our Savior remains a foreign concept. One, too few understand or relate to.

That one young man saw many around him slain, and he himself was shot, yet he offers forgiveness causes those around to take a second look.

I do not know this young man, but I recognize Christ in him. Our Jesus is consistent. His message does not change. His desire for us to share His message does not change.

BJ was not heroic by nature or superhuman in disposition. What sets people like him apart is their willingness to allow Christ in them to make a difference in the lives of others. Yielding the desires of self to the leadings of the Holy Spirit should not amaze others. But it does, because too few of us live lives like that.

Everyday people around us are dying and going to hell. We tend not to pay attention until events of tragic proportions occur. Everyday we can choose whether or not to allow the Lord to minister through us..."to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him."

Though it will be required of few, we each need to be willing to give our lives for Him, that others may truly live, and know the Saving One! Even if we do not die a physical death, we must die to ourselves, that Christ might reign in us.


Monday, April 16, 2007

A young lady (who has become a good friend of mine as she was on both of BJ's Peru teams) in Portland, Oregon celebrated Easter a bit different from the rest of us.

She is a seminary student. To know this about her is a bit surprising. Those that have watched her grow up, look at her now in disbelief. She walks in the power of Jesus Christ, through the Holy Spirit. I have written of her before.

To know her is to get to know a shy young lady. Very unassuming. She wouldn't stand out in a crowd of people, except for her actions. She is very uncomfortable speaking in front of people. She has a Greek final coming up that has her insides twisted, because she has to speak in front of a class of 6.

That she walks in the power of Christ is revealed most vividly when she does what she was called to do. I have told you about her before. While in seminary, the Lord has called her to minister on the streets of Portland where she can be routinely found sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with those she encounters.

Perhaps this is never more poignant than when the people group she is called to share with surround her. She takes the aroma of Christ into the church of Satan.

That she has been accepted by many of them has many believers casting dispersions her way. They seem to forget that Christ suffered the same persecution for not spending time with the people they thought He ought to be with.

Praise God for a young lady who is afraid, but goes anyway! She knows to whom she belongs, and she is ready.

For Easter, she organized a party of a most unusual nature. She got together with a friend who also spends some time with this group, and they invited 10 other believers to join them. Then, this group of 12 invited 40 members from Satan's church to come to an Easter party.

They invited 40, but 130 showed up! 12 believers walked among 130 Satanist's. To say that they were nervous would be an understatement. They had no expectation that so many would come. Surely the odds would change the intended direction of the party.

Not to happen. While they entertained this group that outnumbered them by more than 10 fold, they were also obedient to their objective. To share Jesus Christ.

They encountered hardship. They were argued with. They spoke not of their own power, but with the power of the Holy Spirit. You know, that same spirit that raised Jesus from the dead?

They overcame odds, they overcame arguments, they walked in simple obedience. "David" in this "Goliath's" tale, once again came out the victor.

Because they did not back down because the odds were scary, the Lord reaped an incredible harvest! 17 people gave their hearts to Jesus.

Imagine that, on the day of resurrection, 17 people who worshipped the enemy, now are free!

This young lady knows who she is in Christ, and follows Him when He directs her. She had a teammate that did the same thing a couple of years ago. Though he was seven years her junior, he, the youngest and smallest on the team, also walked in obedience, and did what the Lord called him too.

When walking in the power of the Lord, your size does not matter. Your youth does not matter. Your ethnicity does not matter. The odds against you do not matter. What matters is that you have an obedient heart. He supplies the courage, the strength and the words. Sometimes, He also reaps a harvest!

Let your next step be from a heartbeat of obedience.


Friday, April 13, 2007

Below is a letter that BJ wrote to his 2005 Peru team before their trip, in response to the verses from Romans 10:14-15, which say:

"How then can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!"

This quote in Romans, refers back to Isaiah 52:7 which similarly says:

"How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, "Your God reigns!"

BJ's response to these verses are as follows:

Wow. These really are some powerful verses!...these verses really speak to me at this point in my life because though God has taught me and equipped me to GO and serve Him, I often hesitate and even avoid doing His work in my daily, weekly, and even monthly life. I sometimes feel like I am lingering in the valley, wanting and waiting to be lifted up to the mountain--to share with others of how awesome my Savior is, to be close to God, etc. But this verse speaks out to me of how in order to move somewhere else, I have to get up and GO.

I think its also cool how it says, "As it is written, 'Beautiful on the mountain are the feet of those who bring good news.' " Sometimes, it is as if we look up to the mountain and hesitate to climb it because we don't want our feet to get dirty spiritually--we don't want to face the pain, the persecution, and the warfare that we know awaits us. But this verse shouts to me loud and clear: God likes dirty feet! In fact, He describes them as beautiful! When we push through and persevere, when we climb the mountain despite the struggles and solely rely on God, He is glorified, and THEN we are fulfilled and satisfied.

It is sad how much of a stronghold that Satan has in our country with apathy and lethargy. Too often, even, in our own lives (or in mine, at least), do we(/I) fall to thoughts of "Letting someone else do it," or, "Its not that important," or, "It can wait." And not getting up and being obedient to God's call...

Anyway, these verses just really emphasize to me that we/I need to GO, be obedient, and share the Gospel. Not just this year or this summer, but right now, in our own schools or workplaces, for there are CERTAINLY many lost people there as well. "And how can they believe in one of whom they have not heard?"

In Christ's Love,


Today we need to "Go" and be obedient. Tomorrow too.

BJ was ready. He went.

I can imagine what our Savior says to those who come home with "dirty" feet. I don't like to think about what He says to the believers who come home with "clean" feet.

Think about it.

Consider this.

What do we need to do?


Thursday, April 12, 2007

Two weeks from today, we will head back to Indiana to attend Lauren's college graduation. I cannot believe she has been there for four years. It is amazing to me how time passes in larger blocks as we age.

She has grown a great deal and I am very proud of her. There has been much on her plate, and by His strength, she has met each challenge, and overcome. Now if she can get through the last two weeks!

We will be moving her to Oklahoma for the time being. She will co-lead one of our mission teams this summer. She and David (who led BJ to Peru) will take a team of 20 to India. They are very excited about what God has in store there.

After India, Lauren is hoping to attend grad school. She is currently seeking the Lord's direction for where that would be...and if that would be.

It truly only seems like a couple of years ago, that I walked the aisle and collected my college diploma. Well its actually been 25 years. How can that be?

I am looking forward to having Lauren at home for a bit. I miss her. So do her Oklahoma friends. I am not sure the few weeks before we leave for the summer will be enough.

As we have grown accustomed however, we must make the moments count, and not view it through the lens of time. We are blessed to have her here for a time at all...and thankful.

Whitney will arrive here a week after Lauren, as she finishes her sophomore year of college. She will only be home around 9 days. However, those will be wonderful days. Days we will spend together hanging out, and just loving each other (hopefully I won't put on my grumpy pants during that time frame).

She will likely return to Indiana and work this summer. She is still negotiating this process. She is applying to nursing school where she is enrolled, and other places. She hopes to participate in medical missions, soon.

I love my girls, and am very proud of them. Somewhere above, I think they have a little brother who feels the same way.

Today, just the anticipatory musings of a father's heart.


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Deanna and I do not have the perfect marriage. We are each guilty of having made many selfish mistakes in our lives that cause the other pain and suffering.

The thing we have brought to each other is the pledge to always try to meet the others need. We do our best to learn from our mistakes, apologize, and move forward to bring healing to our relationship.

We strive hard to keep Christ at the center of our relationship. Following Him in obedience is our primary goal.

Where this gets difficult, is when being obedient means the other will be left behind in some form or fashion. At this place, we have to work very hard to recognize the others need, and seek to keep them loved. It is part of the compromise in our lives. Meeting the need of our spouse, when our lives are so crazy busy, that it would be easier to ignore.

Ignoring is selfish. Obedience can seem selfish when one has something to do, and the other watches from the sideline. The thing is, we did not arrive at this place separately. We came together, and are in this battle together.

Relationships fail everyday in our world because people who were convinced that the Lord brought them together, start nursing their own needs to the exclusion of the other. They begin to grow apart, neither paying close enough attention.

Successful relationships seek to meet the others need when they least feel like it. We have both talked about it before, but our marriage would have failed quickly and easily through the loss of BJ, had we allowed others to meet the emotional needs we each had. It was/is so hard to be fully present for each other when our needs are very different.

If we are not willing to invest in one another at that level, we have no business getting married in the first place.

Relationships fall apart as personal needs are allowed to be met in unhealthy ways. For a man who is struggling to share with another woman, is a least it is for me. He needs to be dumping his truck on the doorstep of another man who will listen and invest in him. This needs to be a godly relationship where both are centered on a walk with Jesus. It is difficult to get wise counsel from a non-believer. Even nominal believers are more apt to give worldly advice than Christ-exalting influence.

The keys to successful relationships are plugged into the ignition of selflessness. When the key is turned, Christ-likeness and selflessness whirl into a synchronized harmony.

Jesus met our needs when we least deserved it. If we are not willing to meet the needs of the one God has provided to us, we are selfish and immature. Our lives will be wrought with failed relationships, regardless of what successes might be attained from a worldly perspective. Even from a ministerial perspective, if we are unwilling to invest in the one He has brought us, hardship will multiply for both.

Relationship is about investment. You don't invest, you lose.

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself..." Philippians 2:3-8

When you invest more in yourself than the other, you grow apart. Soon, if unchecked, your portfolio will fall apart...even if it looks healthy and flourishing. You cannot keep what you do not continue to make a priority.

Humble yourself. Take on the nature of a servant. Be Christlike.


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

I don't know where the tradition of the Easter Bunny started, and I certainly find it hard to believe that with the bunny came hiding colorful eggs. It's kind of a twisted version of Chik-fa-lay's cow saying "eat more chicken."

Somebody is going to write me and tell me where it all began 'cause you know how to use google. You have my permission not to do this.

When our children were little, we hid eggs for them. I imagine we were bad parents 'cause I think we told them the Bunny hid the eggs. I can tell you though, that they thoroughly enjoyed this tradition, and knew sooner rather than later that there was no Bunny out hiding eggs. It didn't scar them for life, and they didn't develop trust issues with us as a result.

Every year, they would anxiously await "the hunt." They could not wait to be set free to race around the yard looking in incredulous places for ovoid orbs. Gleefully they would move. It did not matter what weather came with it, they were out in it, joyfully hunting down those little bunny prizes.

This year, we spent Easter at the house of some new friends. They have a large beautiful home on a small lot. They have meticulously landscaped their home and it is lovely. There were lots of nooks and cranny's to hide eggs...or so we thought.

When I used to hide eggs for my kids, I always counted them ahead of time to be sure the number would divide out evenly in the end. Was I alone in this pursuit of equity.

I found I also hid way too few eggs for my children. For Easter dinner, there were four couples and four children. The kids were aged 4th to 6th grades. They could not wait for "the hunt." They kept prompting Grandma to "get the men outside hiding the eggs."

Have you ever noticed that when children's hearts are full of anticipation, that adults are great procrastinators? Anticipation can turn to frustration on a dime. We needed to get moving.

I went outside to avoid the "rule-setting" talk that Grandma gave. Every family has similar rules, I wanted to avoid the question and answer session, and just enjoy the back yard.

I am supposed to be living in the south or the west or something here in Oklahoma. April here is supposed to be warm. It was 45 degrees outside on Easter afternoon! I'm trying to remember an Easter when it wasn't 45 degrees (or worse) outside. What is the deal with that? No matter when Easter falls, so does the temperature?

When Grandma came outside to hand out the bags of eggs for us to hide, I about fell over. When I hid eggs for our children, I usually hid enough for each child to have 20 to 30 eggs. Apparently I raised my children in the "Easter Bunny Slums."

She brought out hundreds of eggs! I was stunned. This was a small yard, how were we going to "hide" all of these eggs?

I learned something else. Apparently, the words "hunt" and "hide" were terms that should have been reserved for my poor, abused children. Or maybe it was that the landscape would not support the effort of hiding a bazillion eggs.

I took my 50 pound bag of plastic eggs and began to "hide" them. This was serious business. Deanna and I set out putting them in "undetectable" spots (she had a 50 pound bag did all the adults!). These were older children, I was sure they were up for the "hunt."

Have you ever noticed that when kids hunt for eggs that they move in packs? Apparently, that is supposed to be the etiquette for hiding them as well. Deanna and I aren't very good at french words that end in -ette.

The back yard was void of adults, save Deanna and me. We moved out of the back and headed to the front. My expectation was to find the rest of our friends.

Instead, what I found caused me to laugh so hard, I could hardly move...Deanna too. Apparently we were taking the stealth of this whole experience way too seriously.

I always hid eggs in Indiana. This was not Indiana. This was Oklahoma. Apparently in Oklahoma, you don't hide the eggs.

The front yard was littered with color. There were little eggs everywhere. You could not walk without stepping on them. They were just laying on the grass. These were older children. I don't think they were going to be fooled by these obvious "hiding places."

After we shared a good laugh, we realized that it was not "Oklahoma tradition" we were experiencing. It was that every adult had soooo many eggs to hide, and this small yard just would not handle the sheer numbers of pastel projectiles.

When the time finally came, the young ones thoroughly enjoyed racing about the yard, in a pack, stepping on each other and the eggs, until all were collected. They even went inside and divided things up evenly.

That was a whole lot of candy and money.

I should have been hunting eggs instead of hiding eggs.

Well we weren't with our family, but we certainly were blessed by the time with our new friends. Great food. Great fellowship. Great laughter.

This is the body of Christ!


Monday, April 09, 2007

I cannot tell you the last time we were separated from family on Easter, but yesterday was such a time. We had a great weekend, and a blessed Easter day in spite of this.

Saturday we had lunch with our new pastor and his wife. We had a time of precious fellowship, and shared a great meal. We had one of those times where we left feeling like we had known them all of our lives, though we have only recently started to get acquainted.

Sunday morning, he preached with such power and conviction I was sure the altar would be flooded with people. It wasn't. I think time can get in the way of conviction.

Like many churches, ours has three morning services. This is very taxing to our staff, and yet they carry on without complaint or unmeasured word. We go to the middle service. As such, it is sandwiched between two others, and the time element, I fear, can get in the way of the Lord moving.

There is something unspoken that happens inside of us where we know it is almost over and we need to run to check the roast, or scamper off to Sunday School, go make the coffee for our class that follows, and we just don't allow the Spirit of God to move.

I find myself wondering if the those who come only at Christmas and Easter are bound by this same time constraint. If they are not connected to other people and have no plans to attend anything else after the service, what keeps God's Spirit from moving over them?

I am concerned that it may be the lack of passion for Jesus in our own hearts on Sunday morning. I recently preached a message while on the mission field about our lack of preparation for entering into His presence.

I have found that one cannot enter the church sanctuary in other countries with the same attitude of reckless abandon that we do here. While some would argue that it is legalistic, I find value in entering the sanctuary with reverence and awe. If we expect the Lord to move, and have prepared our hearts to usher Him into our service, and are not talking with loud and boisterous voices, what might happen?

One of the things I teach students while moving in other countries is to do so with "European voices." That means hushed tones. We don't talk so loud that others can hear us, and we do not allow laughter to rise to the place that we become the focal point of others attention. We fight enough negative stereotypes as Americans without perpetuating them.

What would happen if we entered our churches with the same attitude of preparation that the matriarchs in our families prepare Easter dinner with? If we truly spent time on our knees before the service trying to prepare ourselves for His presence, for His movement, would He be more likely to stir the hearts of the lost? If they saw reverent attitudes, would their expectations be different?

My mom would get up early on Easter and begin meal preparations. There was a symphony of foods that needed to be ready at the same time. This could not happen without a servant's heart and attitude. She would make many preparations, including decorations, and would work hard to assure that all was prepared to assure the best possible experience.

In our churches we tend to rush into the service after an unpleasant morning where virtually everyone encountered difficulties on the way in. By the time we arrive, we lack focus and are so distracted that we are not even thinking about Him. The enemy prevails in this battle week after week...and we continue to let him.

We do nothing different to combat it. We see it play out each Sunday morning, and we just expect it rather than praying against it. Truly, it is no wonder that our churches are full of defeated believers. The one day a week that most go to worship, they are defeated before they arrive, and do not even realize the battle is raging.

Unprepared. That is how we enter His courts.

A friend of mine recently began going to church early to pray before the service. He wanted to be ready for the Lord to move. He wants to see the Lord move. He is asking the Lord to move.
He is at the altar on his knees seeking God, while most of us are fussing with each other or our children.

His heart is ready, but most aren't. Unless we don our spiritual armor, and prepare ourselves for battle, especially on Sunday morning, the enemy will continue to have victory, and we will continue to wonder what is wrong with our church.

We need to be reminded that the church is not the building, it is us. WE need to be prepared when we enter His courts to Praise. "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body." 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.


Friday, April 06, 2007

Many times recently the Lord has reminded me that He is doing a new work. That He is leading somewhere that I cannot go alone, and that I will not arrive unless I am surrendered to Him.

I am amazed at how easy it is to cross the line and begin to believe things about myself that are no reflection of me, but are Christ in me. I am thankful for a gracious God who is my All, because pride is always warring for prominence in my life. My life has no purpose apart from Jesus. I cannot accomplish anything of eternal significance or value apart from Jesus.

There is much I know about Jesus, and yet there are those times that I would listen to the enemies voice and claim accomplishments, when there are none present...apart from Jesus.

Last night, for the first time, our Peru leadership team (for the summer) met. It so obvious that our Lord is up to something. We are expecting great things this summer, but it will be a road of suffering that brings glory to Jesus. My biggest fear in knowing myself, is that I will get in the way.

I like to think I know things, and have good things to say. Jesus knows better, and has better things to reveal.

God has assembled a unique team in an unusual fashion. I am in awe of the work He is doing. I do not have words to convey what I see happening. The strength He has brought will contribute to much gain for the King of Kings if we are humble before Him.

If we do not empty ourselves of personal agendas and vain conceit, we only suffer humiliation at our own hands.

If Jesus was about to be crucified today, I fear many of us would be in the crowd shouting our approval to do away with the One we claim as Savior. We are so fluid in a crowd, and so inflexible before God.

We ascend to lofty positions in the church (in our own eyes) and refuse to bend our knees in private. The attitude many of us convey is one of "Jesus is my Lord as long as it serves my purposes."

When was the last time that we really studied the Bible? I don't mean read it, I mean study it verse by verse? Are we changed when we do or do we get up from studying and walk back into the same foolishness? Do we assimilate it like a college student cramming for a final only to forget it as soon as the test is over? Does it reverberate through our lives? Does our countenance reflect the Purity and Presence of Christ or the burdened heart of a beaten down believer?

We are celebrating Easter! The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead RESIDES in your heart!!! The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead is the same Spirit that is within you! There is so much POWER in this. Not your power but His. What is He accomplishing in our lives if we are overbooked, overbusy and underbelieving?

He resurrected our lives that we would walk in His power! Are we? Or are we trudging through, reflecting a life no one would want?

If His Holy Spirit is in you, then yield your unbelief, your achievements, and your personal goals. Allow Him to align your will with His. Walk in the power of Christ in you! You can do His will, not by yours.


Thursday, April 05, 2007

It has been way too long since we have been able to see our girls. This separation is not easy for any of us. We each know we are where we are supposed to be, but the longing to come back together is strong. We have always been very close as a family. None of us are familiar with being apart for months at a stretch.

Lauren will graduate at the end of this month. April 28th and 29th are when the festivities are set for. We anxiously await this time together. She will finish with a double major...Adolescent Ministries and Biblical Literature. Her hope is to go on to graduate school in the fall to study Christian Counseling (for youth).

While we are in Indiana, we will be collecting her belongings, packing them up, and moving her to Oklahoma. This may be temporary, but will give her time to figure out her next step before she and David (who led both of BJ's Peru teams) lead a team of 20 to India this summer. It is an exciting time in Lauren's life, but full of distractions.

Saying good-bye to many friends will take her quite a while. Mixing that with the family present to congratulate her will leave her little time for anything else.

This means Whitney will be left in Indiana by herself (in terms of immediate family). This is easy for none of us, least of all Whitney. She finishes school for the summer, the week after Lauren graduates, and is working to plan a couple of visits our way during the break.

She will not accompany us to the field this summer. Though she knows this is right, it remains a struggle, as she knows her family will be in Asia and South America.

Sometimes the changes God brings in our lives are completely unanticipated, and not ones we would desire. Any one of us could choose to step out of His will to assure more time together, but we have certainly learned of our need to follow Him in instant obedience. We also know that many families across the US and world are dealing with similar issues.

Our collective desire is to bring glory to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We will have times of suffering in that journey. Sometimes it means extended time apart. Sometimes it means heartbreak. Sometimes it means we get to see Him do amazing things in and around us.

More than each other, we treasure our time with Him. He is what makes it possible for us to put one foot in front of the other, even when it takes us farther apart from each other.

I am very thankful for two beautiful daughters who serve and love Jesus. I am very thankful for a precious son who currently has a view we all covet. I am most thankful for a loving God who ministers to each one of us, day by day, hour by hour, and minute by minute. How blessed we are to have the opportunity to minister to others because of His love for us!

Lord, haste the day when faith shall be sight!!!


Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Recently, I was thinking back to the nights we spent in the hospital. Being in that place and trying to sleep was a bit of a challenge. I have never struggled with sleeplessness, but in that situation I came close.

My friend Big John, gave me his iPod during much of the stay, and the Lord used that to minister to me in depths that I did not expect. For much of my life, I gleaned more out of worship than I did the message, in church. During this journey, the Lord sustained me and the hope I had in Him through worship.

Friends gave me sermons on suffering, and other topics while we were there, but I could not listen to them. I could not focus. Worship, on the other hand transported me to the Throne room
of my Savior. When I laid down at night, or when I was alone during the day, I would listen to the songs of the redeemed, and be encouraged.

BJ was encouraged during this time by worship as well. I'm sure you remember me telling you about placing the earbuds into his ears and cranking the volume on some of his favorite Christian music. That came with positive tangible results. I could relate to him on that level. I could not possibly know what was tracing through his mind at other times, but during worship, I felt as if I knew what he thought, for I had worshipped beside him many times, and we had discussed worship on multiple occasions.

That God cared enough about me to minister to me at significant depths through worship during those days is no small investment. I remember falling asleep to some of the most Christ exalting lyrics and music I had heard. Some I would play over and over. I'd put the song on repeat and listen as it portrayed exactly what I was feeling. I could not sing it out as loudly as I would have liked, but that did not keep me from letting go.

I surrendered my son to Him during worship and prayer. I had done so years before, but saying it when he was not in a life threatening situation, and meaning it when his life was on the line are two different experiences. I knew I was not in control. I knew Jesus was.

I knew the desire of my sons heart was to glorify God, and to see others come to know Him. That Beej wrote so much about love, and laying one's life down for that love was something I would not discover until later. However, his life reflected what his words portrayed. He was consistent. Would that my Lord could say that about me and my life.

Do I really care? Is my life consistently pointing to the Savior, regardless of what is happening? Have I learned anything through this?

I truly hope so. I can say that the Lord has begun a change in me. I still passionately love worship, but He has given me a new hunger. What I was not ready for during that 6 week journey and even after, I now thrive on.

My iPod is loaded with sermons. Deanna's iPod is as well. We don't have all the same messages or speakers, but God has placed a deep hunger for His teaching within me, that is not easily quenched.

Two of my daughters from North Africa last summer would routinely ask me to teach them something. I never felt worthy of that request...because I am not. However, I know who is Worthy, and He continues to fill me, and give me a lust for His Word and teaching. That same short term desire that gets me into the Word and teachings, finds a home at the Throne of the one who Loves. It resonates within my soul, and clings to the precipices therein until such time that He would allow me to let it go, to flow back out.

How precious is my God who loves me like that! I Praise Him for investing in my life again today!


Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Ana and Andrea, neighbors and obvious close friends. One had two young boys, actively running around, playing like young boys should, the other looked like she could be the boys’ grandma. After the drama on the dirt road in their neighborhood, no one was talking with them as they hung around. Sam accompanied me and translated for me after my lame attempt at a Spanish greeting as we walked over to them. They seemed to understand the drama, they knew who Jesus was, but there was something missing. They graciously filled out the information cards for us and walked away.

Since that uneventful conversation, I’ve prayed for them many times. Thankful that Pastor Sergio has their information and I was able to tell him about them, I’m prayerful that the church will be able to reach them with more news of Jesus, that they may fully understand and come to know Him in a personal way. I ask you to join me in praying for them that they won’t forget the drama, the team from the United States and most importantly the message of the second story that you “see with your heart.”

My prayers since our Nuevo Laredo trip has been filled with admonitions for the many dedicated believers who will be following up, discipling and encouraging the new commitments that were made when we were there. I pray their sincerity remains steadfast and propels them to a deeper understanding of the life God has for them. I pray against distractions and circumstances to get in the way of further ministry on their behalf. I pray their enthusiasm for giving their heart to Jesus spills over to the believers who are downcast and wearied by the worries of life. See, life in Jesus is a win/ win situation! We encourage each other and in the process get encouraged ourselves.

May it be so for you today.


Monday, April 02, 2007

I am far from being fluent in speaking Spanish. I have found that I understand more than I can speak, but not always enough to get by. Perhaps it is normal to be able to comprehend more at times than others, but I have found that for me to be able to speak and understand the best, it is better if I am one on one.

There are many opportunities to try and speak the language when you are in a Latin-American country. Sometimes the pressure is greater than others. When you are trying to tell the store clerk what you want and there is a line behind you, it can be intimidating. Suddenly, your amazing (self-perceived) ability to speak and understand Spanish goes out the window. The words don't make any sense, and it's like they're speaking a foreign language. The incredible accent you have developed suddenly gets stepped on by clumsy teeth, and they look at you with an embarrassed posture, and begin to say words you've never heard before.

Confidence is the first thing to go. The phrase "stupid American" is the first phrase to come (at least in my mind). I really want to be able to talk to these people. I took two years of the language way back in high school. I should be better.

One of my problems, according to my friend Sam, is that in school I was taught not to mess up. If I said something wrong, I was penalized for it. This is not true in Spanish speaking countries. The people are very willing to help you with mis-pronounced words, or poor grammar. They may laugh at you, and think you are pretty funny, but they help you. The help I got in school was a letter grade lower if I didn't enunciate properly. It made me not want to try.

When I was right out of college, I moved to Houston for my first job. I was in the landscaping field, and all of my crew were from Mexico. They did not know any English. Those two years of groaning in school about never using these language skills after graduation went right out the window.

My (lack of) skill was immediately pressed into service. Unfortunately, my crew thought it was funny to teach me words that didn't mean what they told me. I ended up with my size 10 American foot in my mouth on more than one occasion. I had to be careful.

I learned when I said things to them at what should have been appropriate times for what they taught me, but would quickly see their posture stiffen and realize I had insulted them. It was never intentional. I was trying to follow what they taught...they stopped doing that. They didn't think it was funny after I used my new words on them.

The church where we stayed, La Primera Iglesia Bautista (in Nuevo Laredo) has a black wrought iron fence in front of it with a flat edge on top. It is not unusual to find church members standing at the fence leaning on it looking out into the community. Some talk, some pray, some just spend time alone.

I took advantage of this time to get alone with Pastor Sergio, or Sirvando or one of the other nationals who were patient with me and my amazing linguistic skills.

The sidewalks near the church are always busy. People coming and going. People set up a small businesses nearby from vendor carts they could roll back home at the end of the day. It is a busy area. The smell of meat, cheese, tortillas and jalapenos fill the air

For some reason, this is a place of peace for me. I can stand against that rail and speak the best Spanish of my life. I am understood, and I can also understand what is being said to me. If I slip up or have a question, I am quickly given encouragement, not rebuke. You don't lose letter grades in life for trying to communicate with the people the Lord uses to break your heart.

When I stood at that fence, I felt like I knew the language. I felt like I understood every word spoken to me. It was an incredible feeling. I started trying to figure out how to take that black wrought iron blockade with me, so I could talk to everyone the Lord moved in my heart to share with.

I knew it was foolish to think that way, but for some reason it seemed to make sense. Trying to talk when the pressure was off, when others weren't listening, when the days activities were mostly done, that was the time I could really engage and understand. I made real progress at that place.

It is very apparent to me that sometimes I need that fence to be able to talk to my Savior as well. I have trouble hearing from Him when things are so crazy and loud. I find myself not comprehending from His Word what He wants me to get.

I'm in too big of a hurry, and feel too much pressure from the upcoming day or events. He just wants me to slow down, meet Him at the fence and visit with Him. No pressure, just two friends sharing ideas, and extending love.

I used to watch my son do that back in Carmel (Indiana). He would stand at the fence and carry on long conversations with the neighbor girl. We teased them about solving life's problems. In some respects, they did. They learned to share with each other when things were tough, or when things were amazing.

Their relationship was not taxed by time, or the push of schedules. They just invested in each other. They made an effort to share.

That is what the Lord wants from us. We need to meet Him at the fence, and have a conversation, engage in a time of sharing that is mutually beneficial. There won't be any letter grade reductions here either. Just the unconditional love of the truest of Friends.

He might even teach us something. Of course, we'll have to get off of the fence to apply it.