Friday, July 27, 2007

Tonight, Whitney flies in to spend several days with us. We cannot wait to see her and for the four of us to spend time together. We are going on vacation together, and will be away from the internet until this time next week.

The difference between what happens on the mission field and what happens here at home can sometimes be attributed to comfort zone habitation.

On the field, no one knows us. We know we are there to serve Christ alone. We depend on Him completely as our knowledge of the area we are working is limited and our grasp of the language much less than that of our own. Cultural differences keep you on your toes.

Living and moving as a group of 19 is not always easy. We set up parameters to maximize safety. We meet frequently, we give information on our schedule as needed to keep our team on the edge of what is happening next.

We get into the Word together and discuss its applications. We share from our times alone with God (even though during that time we might be surrounded by others). We teach the Word, exhort from it, train from it, rebuke from it and grow from it.

Discipleship is a huge part of what we do on the field. This brings encouragement to students and adults alike. We grow as a family, understanding more of who we are in Christ, and what is expected from us as a believer. These things all contribute to a harmony that is often absent at home. Much of the reason is because of the pride we each foster in our own hearts by giving in frequently to our own selfish desires.

When we are home, people know us. They know who we are, how we move, what our schedule is like, what we talk about, what our focus is, and what we spend our time doing. Often, these are not the things of God, and bring us to the place that Christ spoke of..."a prophet is without honor in his own hometown."

In my lifetime, the field is the closest I have ever come to living an Acts 2nd Chapter lifestyle. It is hard to convey to you how blessed and incredible this is. It is not just this way for me alone. Those who experience it together, long for it upon their return.

This is because, once home, others who have not experienced the growth, the unity, the difficulties in living so closely with others...yet overcoming them by denying self, only know who we were before we left, and offer little to no space for change. For them, there is conviction over the lack of time spent pursuing His will, and so they unknowingly try to force the missionaries back into the box they fit nicely into, before leaving. For some there is the undercurrent of belief that it cannot have been as good as they make it sound.

Those who have spilled themselves out in prayer during the time the missionaries were away come the closest to having true understanding and insight into what was experienced, and what the longing is like for return to that place. These have drawn close to the heart of God and know His mind and His will as they have been at the hem of His garment seeking Him for the duration.

However, those who truly do this are few.

It should be no surprise that there is an element of discouragement after being home for a time. Schedules collide, friends and family are unavailable...either physically, emotionally, mentally or spiritually.

The desire to return to church and share from the depths of how God moved is overwhelming. The prevailing lack of interest from the body of Christ is underwhelming. The 2nd Chapter of Acts church has suddenly disappeared into a sea of new priorities. Few of them have to do with bringing God glory. Most are about keeping on schedule...our schedule, for our sakes.

Therein is the problem with many churches in our blessed country. We have so much and it has become about having, not serving.

Jesus came to serve. His Word compels us to be like Him.

Our comfort zones don't allow for service as they are wrought with time spent in the pursuit of gain for gains sake. Too many have the attitude of "I will let you tell me about what happened on your little mission trip this summer, but that is not reality. Reality is my world and the suffering I experience because my needs are not being met as I would like."

The truth of that is, that we make up a small percentage of the world's total population (4 or 5% I think), and consume a number approaching half of the worlds resources. The audacity of our lifestyles and expectations are not realistic. They certainly are not Christlike in their attitudes.

One day as we were concluding at a ministry site, a man happened upon the scene who was disturbed at our presence there. He began hurling verbal insults at us for being American. As our bus was about to leave, his frustration exploded within him, and he picked up a large rock and hurled it at us.

The rock struck about 3 inches below the window of one of my team members, scratching paint and denting metal. No harm was done to us physically, but the mental picture of that moment sent shock waves through our thought lives.

Our comfort zones don't have places for being persecuted or suffering for Jesus. Those are extremes in the lives of others.

We saw a tiny glimpse of what our martyred brothers who have gone before us must have experienced before stones actually penetrated their bodies...piercing flesh and mangling bone and muscle.

We did not suffer on this trip. The reality is, we suffer more upon our return home due to the lack of true Christ-like living within our churches here.

"It's time to raise a revolution. God will give me the strength."

brent (dad)

Thursday, July 26, 2007

One of the difficulties in being from the United States and ministering in foreign lands is the prevailing belief in other countries that all people from the US are wealthy, and have money to meet any need.

We are wealthy compared to what others have, there is no doubt. However, I do not begin to have the kind of money necessary to meet all of the needs I see. This does not keep people from asking. I guess I can appreciate the boldness with which I am often approached, as others try to improve the circumstances in which they are trying function.

One such day, I was traveling with the team to a school in a village outside of Piura. Deanna had to remain back with a sick student on this day. Our team set up inside the school yard and shared the drama with several dozen students.

When the drama was over, and our ministry time was nearly complete, I was approached by an interpreter telling me that the Principal wanted to talk to me. I headed over and met he and the Vice Principal. They seemed very close, I suppose it could have been his wife.

Anyway, they told me how much they appreciated our team coming to share with the students. They went on to say that this school was Catholic, and that it served the poorest students of the area, and had nearly no budget from which to function. They asked me if I could help support them.

I had a strange array of emotions in those moments. When asked to speak to them, I was immediately reminded of when BJ was asked to go to the Principal in a similar school to share his faith. I wondered if perhaps this was that school. It would be so awesome to meet the Headmaster he had led to Christ!

When asked for money, I was mindful of the fact that if I refused, I may step on any impact we may have had there. I also knew I had no money to give them.

I conveyed that we were a small ministry that operated on a very small budget, and that the students had to raise their own support in order to come. Then as I spoke, the Lord began to provide.

"Silver and gold have I none," I relayed, "but what I do have I will freely give to you." I told them the disciples had shared similarly in Scripture when they found themselves in a place of need, where what they had to give met spiritual needs over physical needs.

I began to share the Gospel with them. They stood very attentively as a crowd surged up around us, pulled in tight, then dissipated all within the span of our fairly brief conversation. I could tell by the looks on their faces that these were not those my son had shared with. The Lord had blessed me with my own opportunity to share with a man and woman in a position to make a real difference in the lives of the students.

Both educators gave their hearts to Christ in those closing moments. I was moved at their decisions. Like my son before me, I was reminded that these adults in a land where "plenty" is elusive, had made a decision that would impact the lives of many around them.

Initially, as we talked, they seemed embarrassed. However, the further the conversation went, the more hungry they appeared. Ultimately, we connected them with a local church that could disciple them, and help assure they understood the decision they had just made.

The Lord God is incredible, and His provision is never late. The opportunities He provides for us to share are immense, if we are seeking to be faithful.

Thank you Lord Jesus. I give you my Praise!!! Please meet the significant needs of the students in that school, Father. Please give the Principal the wisdom and contacts to raise up funds to meet the needs of those young men and women. Their need is enormous, but sufficiency is found in You. As they begin to walk in this, reveal further truth and understanding to them, as they fill the calling you have laid on their lives. Amen.

brent (dad)

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

While we were in Peru, our schedule was rigorous most of the time. The drama is physically taxing when you do it many times per day. The travel time between sites can be very draining as well. For these reasons, it is important that we eat and drink to keep our strength up.

When many questions were being asked by much of the team about "fasting," the Lord provided a teaching that was shared with them. I didn't really know what God was going to do with it, and admit now, I was surprised and would probably have thought harder about bringing the teaching with the unforeseen outcome.

Many on our team were seeking hard after the Lord in terms of His calling on their lives. This trip happened to be a vehicle God was using to draw them to Himself, and make His will known.

In His Word, when Jesus was questioned about fasting he gave this response, "How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them; then they will fast. No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment making the tear worse. Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved." Matthew 9:15-17.

As we looked at that passage in terms of "fasting," as it is presented, it became clear what Jesus was saying.

We know from His Word that the Holy Spirit shares with each of us from the mind of God as the Lord see fit to impart to us. When we are ready, He gives us knowledge, wisdom, etc.

The discipline of fasting is practiced by too few in our world. Often our motivations can be wrong or misdirected. The Lord wanted those He was speaking to to realize that fasting is a discipline that prepares one to receive from Him.

God often leads us into times of fasting for specific purposes. He wants to share with us things that will give direction to us, but we are not in a position to be able to handle these words until we prepare ourselves through "fasting."

If He were to give us the words He has for us without our denying ourselves to come to Him, we may end up being boastful and proud with the words He gives us. This would be futile and not serve the Lord's purposes. In essence, the good word He had to share would be spilled out and useless if we were not prepared to receive it.

Similarly, the unshrunk patch would tear at the old fabric, and the new wine would burst the old wineskin. In both cases, ruining the vessel. In order to be prepared for what God has for us, we must be prepared to receive it as He intends. Denying ourselves through fasting, helps us to be in a humble posture that the Lord can fill without the knowledge ripping at the fabric of who we want to become, as we are seeking what He wants us to become. The vessel is prepared for the flood of new words that God has for us!

One of our young men had been seeking whether the Lord was calling him into ministry. He began to fast. He approached me separately and relayed that as the rest of us ate lunch in this park, he was going to a bench to study the Word.

He headed a stones throw away, and sat down. He opened his Bible and his journal, and began to study and write.

He had been in this posture for no more than 10 minutes when he looked up in shock.

He leaned back on the bench and called out for a translator. As he sat studying, a curious crowd had surrounded him. He could not move. They were each wondering what he was doing, and were pressing in on all sides.

He rose up, and began to preach the Word to this crowd. He explained who he was, why he was here, and who Jesus was and what He brought to the people of Peru.

Many gave their hearts to the Lord because of this young mans simple act of following God in obedience.

I had never seen anything like it! We celebrated the secure calling God had on his life!

The anointing of Christ hovered over this team throughout their time in Peru! Many would "fast." Many would receive a word from the Lord in terms of what He had for them. It was an incredibly exciting time to share together in most every way!

In my human wisdom, had I known how many would "fast," I probably would not have brought the teaching, as their strength was too important. God provides when He calls, and no one suffered beyond what He strengthened them to endure.

My human wisdom is of little value. Give me the Mind of Christ, for His wisdom will endure!


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Several have asked about contributing to the school carrying BJ's name. If the Lord moves in your heart to do so, you can send checks to BJ's Hope at:

Awe Star Ministries
PO Box 470265
Tulsa, Ok. 74147
c/o Brent Higgins

Indicate on a separate note your desire for the money to go to the school. (Otherwise, it will be used for scholarships for students heading to the mission field.) From there, I will either hand deliver the money, or get it to him electronically. This way you can receive tax credit for the donations. Thank you for your requests!!


Before we left for Peru, we had been asked for photos of BJ in Peru by our contact there. We had no idea how they would be used, only that there would be a surprise waiting. We had no idea what to expect.

While there, the Lord gave me opportunities to speak in several churches, all of whom knew our son. I can tell you there were many surprises awaiting us. It was a very healing time for Deanna and me.

I can also tell you that late in our journey there, in the city of Piura, we were scheduled to go to a "visitation" and were given few details of what that meant. We had the students change out of their drama costumes, and headed off in our bus. We left the main part of the city for the desert rim. By the time the bus slowed, we had reached the poor edge of town. The homes were not tolerable by our standards. They would have been condemned long ago.

Yet this was a community that was full of people. We left the paved road for its sandy replacement and began making turns into what looked like the ends of the earth. As we rounded the final corner, Deanna and I felt as though we had our throats and stomachs grabbed simultaneously.

Between the ramshackled sections of houses, amid the blowing sandy breeze, an entire community had turned out to celebrate their guests of honor. They were holding a sign that read, "WELCOME! BJ WILL ALWAYS LIVE IN OUR HEARTS!"

Unsure what to make of this, we all got off of the bus, and headed into the waiting crowd. We entered to loud applause. It was a bit unsettling. You'd have thought we had won some great championship.

We were guided to the sign, where we stood. At that point, the crackle of a microphone broke the chaotic din. Pastor Luis began to share with us what was happening. Across the way from the sign, stood a freshly painted light blue wall. It was the front of a row home which had been converted into some sort of school.

It was painted up with letters in dark blue and red, which declared it's name. "MISIONERA BETANIA, PROGRAMA EDUCATIVO PRE ESCUELA BJ."

This was a pre-school with a Christ centered focus which carried our sons name!

Pastor Luis began to share the story of how this came about. In the wake of BJ's death, God had given him a dream that included starting a school in the poorest section of town, where thieves and other unsavory characters lived among the people of Piura.

He was to open a Christian pre-school that would minister to families of that area, and to the orphans who had been left behind by parents who were incarcerated or whom had disappeared.
This school was to carry the name of "BJ" and was to symbolize the life of a young man sold out for Jesus, and was meant to inspire this generation of children.

This was to be the first of many schools like it.

Pastor Luis began on faith. He had no money and no furniture or books to begin the school. Knowing that where the Lord leads, He also provides, he began to move forward in obedience. tables were constructed from discarded materials. A building was provided. Classrooms were set up, and the Lord even raised up teachers. Two young women with beautiful spirits who receive no pay, they trust in the Lord for His provision for themselves and the school (one of them is named Deanna).

As the dream began to take shape, Pastor Luis began to pray that the Lord would send BJ's parents. He did not know them. He did not know how to reach someone who knew them. He only knew that in order for the Lord's will to come to pass, that it would be necessary for Beej's parents to come. He prayed in earnest for this.

In the schools first year, 10 students came. They worked hard in pretty bad conditions to make significant progress in their own lives. There are no plumbed toilets or running water in this school. We would never even inhabit an area like this, yet these precious children learn here daily.

That group of children graduated and moved on to first grade. Those 10 children are now at the top of their class, and 27 pre-schoolers have replaced them at BJ's school. Deanna and I met the children and loved on them. We were invited inside to see the learning environment. It is dark and dreary, yet filled with hope and the dream of what is yet to come is alive!

Pastor Luis did not ask for money. He simply cast the vision the Lord laid firmly in his heart. He celebrated the answered prayer of our coming, and told of the Lords powerful impact in the communities of Piura, through BJ's life...both while he ministered there for two summers, and since his death.

The Word of God says, "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." James 1:27

The vision that Pastor Luis is pursuing has clearly come from the heart of God. He is trying to set forth a passion that will enable the poor and outcast of his city to come to know Christ, and to serve with His principles in their lives.

He told of a nearby building, just four blocks away, that would be better suited to their needs, and had indoor toilets and running water. He only had a little time to come up with the funds to lease it. There was a Jehovah's Witness group waiting behind him to lease the same space.

I have to trust the Lord at this point to see this through. I wanted to hand him a kingdom of riches to fulfill his God-breathed dream. I do not own such wealth. I serve a God who owns the cattle on a thousand hills. If He sees fit to raise up necessary support to put feet to this dream, then I will Praise Him! If He doesn't I will continue to Praise Him.

It is my hope to return to Piura, Peru in December. I would like to revisit this school and bring them further hope and encouragement.

I have seen my God minister mightily in a land where they have little. I praise Him that men and women who love and serve Him are not caught up in the pursuit of material gain, but are looking out for the welfare of the next generation...perhaps the last generation before Christ's return.

I believe He is teaching me to be more selfless. I know I need to be, if I am to allow Him to make a real difference through me.

The crowds of people treated Deanna and me as though we were gods. They wanted to touch us. They wanted us to touch their elderly parents and kiss their children. We did so. It made us uncomfortable, and broke our hearts simultaneously. It is difficult to convey how it feels to be in a position where it feels as though the hope they have is in you, instead of in the Lord. We literally had to be drug from their midst as they closed in around us.

We know God has a plan for them. We pray He truly brings the hope of Christ to their lives.

Pastor Luis is doing what he can, but more is needed. For the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are just too few.


There are a couple of pictures taken in front of the school on the aforementioned awestar website.

Monday, July 23, 2007


Our flight into Peru found our youngest student seated beside our oldest. Our youngest was a young lady who had been at BJ's funeral and was inspired by his testimony. The year before this she had gone to Chile with Awe Star.

The older student was on his first trip with us. God had orchestrated his coming with us in the way God does things. This young man has had a difficult life (unbeknown to all of us at this point). His grandmother had told him he was "spawn of the devil." His mother had disowned him. While she had three sons, she only claimed two to be hers. His brother had tried to drowned him when he was younger, which resulted in a two week hospital stay.

God had a plan for his life. He sought hard to find it, but found bitterness and people who let him down at every turn, instead. Still, through another broken relationship, God had called this man to serve him in Peru. His face seldom reflected the joy of his salvation. His countenance was filled with sadness, and he seemed defensive without provocation.

He and his seat partner struck up a conversation with the lady seated with them in their row. Now our young lady is quite the opposite of our aforementioned man. She is exuberant! Filled with life and joy!

As they shared with the lady, they began to talk to her about a relationship with Jesus. She could see the 'life she wanted' in the eyes of our young lady. Several of us aware of the sharing began to pray for them.

Jesus won!

He did not just add one more member to our family in the kingdom of God. He began to transform the life of our oldest male student.

This team began to pour into our brother. They could see that he lacked joy. He reported to us, "I don't smile." He begged us not to expect it. For one of the first times in his life he began to experience the love of the body of Christ! Every day, the team would celebrate together who we are in Christ. We encouraged and exhorted one another. Our young man was baffled. He had never seen people care about each other. This love had never been directed at him.

Over the course of the summer, God did a mighty work in his life. He came in believing God had called him into ministry. He was living a defeated Christian life. It was nearly impossible to see how God could use him as he was. He had head knowledge, but his heart was detached and broken. We wondered how God could use him to impact lives as he was.

God did.

As he made himself available to the Lord's purposes. God began to raise up a new spirit within him. After a week or two, a smile replaced the entrenched frown. Life and joy began to spill into others through him. The transformation was immediately noticeable. He received such affirmation, and God continued to replace bitterness with new and fresh life and vision.

While we were in Peru, this young man was one of many who would fast to seek God's will and direction for his life. (Many questions had been asked by the students about fasting. We did a teaching on the subject which God used to establish a new discipline in their lives.) He came to us with a culinary degree. His specialty was cheesecake. My personal favorite! While serving the Lord, God called him to Dallas to ultimately seek a seminary degree. He will have to pull up stakes from his southern home town farther east, and move to an area he does not know. He reports his father is supporting his decision.

The Word of God says, "and a child will lead them."

God began a work through the obedient life of one young lady on an airplane that had a permanent impact on the life of a young man who was hungry.

I wish you could have been there to see the transformation! This is one of the reasons God has called me into this ministry. I absolutely am filled with His joy over seeing a changed life, change lives! It happened many times this summer. Both in the lives of the Peruanas, and our team!

Truly, Praise God!


Friday, July 20, 2007


It is interesting how the decisions we make each day can affect what we do and I am reminded of this nearly every morning as I drive my short drive to work. Little, I'm afraid to admit, can get me frustrated as quickly as a drive in the car to...anywhere or nowhere in particular.

This morning (cue violin) driving in on my long, four mile commute (and no interstate!) I found that the traffic in my lane, the left or "fast" lane was being held up by a driver having the audacity to drive the speed limit. The right lane of traffic was flashing by us as the driver blatantly refused to yeild to faster traffic behind him. I was finally able to move to the right and get around the offending vehicle, flashing angry eyes at him as I went by.

Wow, he almost cost me 30 seconds of my day. Of course, he passed by me a few minutes later, still holding up traffic behind him, as I waited to turn left. There was no reason that I had to be at work any earlier than my normal early. I tell people all the time that I learned how to deal with traffic years ago when I had to drive from the north side of Indy to the far-west side and that the secret was just to stay in the right lane and stick to the speed limit, yet I forget this lesson over and over and let the aggravation build over unimportant issues that have no eternal consequence.

It really works, at least under normal circumstances. Oh, I don't arrive as quickly maybe (though I often did), but I arrived stress-free most of the time, no anger at the perceived incompetence of those around me having generated an ugly mood to start the work day. I just made the decision each day that I was going to take it easy on my way, wherever I was going and stay right and within the speed limit.

Like most things, if I had worked it out in my head before I left there was no problem, I didn't miss the stress and elevated blood pressure of flying low, and I got there when I needed to. Stay to the right and within the law. What a novel idea....

Lord, we lift up the hurting this morning -- those dealing with challenges in their lives, marriages, jobs and hearts. I lift up my friends Lin and Bob who have lost a father and are facing so many other health issues in their lives. I lift up Whitney as she seeks your will for her future, short and long-term. It is amazing that we can come to you with a long list of petitions and you hear and know every one. We praise you for being the Lord of All and the King of Kings and we thank you for sacrificing your son so that we might live. We thank you for those who have given up their lives to see glory brought to you and to defend our freedom and liberty.

Lord, though there is no way we can be worthy, thank you for seeing us as worthy of your grace and love. May we make the small decisions each day that have a big impact on how we will live. In Jesus' name, Amen.


Thursday, July 19, 2007

Hello!!! We are back and soooo blessed! What an incredible summer we had in the Lord! I have so much to share with you that I fear I will blast on like a firehose with all we saw Him accomplish.

Our team was incredible! The Lord drew together a team that was equipped to deal with all that came our way. We saw Him move powerfully both on the team and in the hearts of the Peruanas. The tool we used in Peru was a drama that begins with creation and flows through to crucifixion and resurrection. Then we send the students out in teams of three to share the Gospel with those who want to hear. The team did the drama 91 times and saw 1500 people or more come to a saving knowledge of Christ.

We met many who knew BJ. We had many encouraging conversations about his impact on their lives, their love for him, and how he related to the people of Peru. I have a story to tell about a school that was named after him.

I cannot begin to thank you enough for your abiding prayer support!

God did so much in Peru this summer. We saw people and His created creatures bring Him praise.

There is a scene in our drama, where those who have accepted Christ bow down to Him. In Peru, there are dogs running everywhere. Most of them malnourished, and diseased. On this particular day, a healthy dog ran up to view what was happening. Those who gave their hearts to Christ had just accepted. The dog saw them bow. As they stood up, he moved into the stage area, near where the young man portraying Christ was standing.

If dogs can smile, this one did. He bowed down on his front paws, toward Christ and remained in that pose for 15 seconds, until Christ moved. I stood their dumbfounded! God's created was worshipping and praising the Savior!

If they will, I will too!

I have much to tell you and will begin writing again soon. We are still in Dallas debriefing our summer teams, and then we receive and send out a new team headed to Panama for 10 days. We won't return to our home until Sunday sometime. Until then, thank you for your faithfulness to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! I will write when I can!


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

"Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint. Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle."
--Proverbs 23:4-5

Do you find yourself exhuasted at the end of the day? Maybe in the middle of it? Is it what you are doing that wears you out or what you are trying to accomplish? As you go through your day, what is your goal? Is what you are doing putting food on the table? does it bring glory to God? Are you doing it to put food on the table or to further the kingdom of Christ?

I'm asking myself these questions and don't like the answers of late. I don't think my coworkers or anyone looking from the outside in would see my daily toil -or attitude in performing it - as very God-glorifying. Of course, it is His view that matters, but if they see things this way it is probably strong evidence that He isn't too excited either.

When I was young I wanted to be rich and live in a castle. Now I'd prefer a little cabin and stable serenity. I don't work to get rich but it isn't the amount that really makes the point of the scripture above, is it? It is the focus of our drive. While most of us are "simply trying to make ends meet" in our own minds, we often make that task more and more difficult by stretching the ends with nicer vehicles, clothes and homes. I know this isn't true for all of us, but we need to be honest with ourselves when we are evaluating our lives, looking at why we do what we do or look at what we need to be doing.

Many of us, maybe most, don't have jobs that we find bringing us fulfillment in a real sense, or that we see God being glorified through. Often, this is more a result of our motivation or attitude that the details of the job itself. As we get caught up in the details of our work we lose focus of life. At the same time, I don't believe that we are all meant to find fulfillment in our work but in what we do to serve the Father. For many a job is just that, a way to makes ends meet (or come as close as possible). For others, there is fulfillment and service in everything they do.

If you aren't fulfilled in what you do to earn a living, and you aren't finding it in your life outside of work - which is the most important part of life anyway - it is time to re-evaluate. Maybe you do need a new job, or maybe you just need a new perspecitve. Maybe it is just a matter of refocusing on meeting the needs of others because as we reach out to lift their burdens we find ours tend to fade.

Father, as I look inward too often and upward too seldom, I pray that you will help me to find ways to reach out to those around me in a way that leads them to see You living in me. Let me focus outwardly on their needs and in so doing, leave room for you to move into the space left when the me-worries leave. I love you Father and need you more than life itself. In Jesus' name, Amen.

In His love,


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Brent, Deanna, Lauren and their teams return to the U.S. this week after their missions to Peru and do the rest of the AweStar teams that have been serving the Lord around the world. Please join us in praying for safe travel and good health for each member of each team.
It has been challenging not having had the opportunity to speak with Brent since they left. I understand he has tried to call me, we just haven't connected.

The Peru team performed the drama that they do more than 90 times and saw more than 1300 decisions for the Lord during their time there! They are unwinding a bit in Ecqaudor before starting for home. My understanding was that the Lauren's India team was leaving yesterday but I am not certain of this. Please pray that the lives touched and changed (participants and recipeints both) will be nurtured and continue to grow in the Father's love and service.

It is so hard for these young men and women to go abroad, focus 100% on serving the King, then return home and seperate from their teammates and try to assimilate back into life here in the States. Our prayer should be that what was normal for them when they left isn't the same as it will be now, that the fire they have caught will continue to burn and in whatever they are doing here, their primary purpose remains focused on serving Jesus Christ.

Pray that they will not become depressed, anxious, angry, etc. as they are forced to return to school, work and their "regular" lives. May the light of the King and the burning desire to win others to Him continue to be the catalyst in their everydays. You know who challenging it is to come off of "spiritual highs" and not let the levelling out affect us in negative ways. Satan loves nothing better than to see these young warriors return and grow frustrated and distracted in and from their faith.

Thank you all for your continued prayers and support of the family and blog. We hope that it always brings glory to the King because that is what it is all about!

In His love,


Sunday, July 15, 2007

Travis, thank you for taking the time to write. My name is Brad and I am BJ's uncle. His Mom and Dad (Deanna and Brent) will return from Peru later this week. They are serving there with the ministry BJ had visited it with (Awestar) and among other things, visited a school that now carries BJ's name -- something I know Brent will be sharing about soon. I hope you know that this blog family will be lifting you up in prayer as you work through the deaths of two loved ones. Your story has stirred so many thoughts....

It is easy for us to try and bury ourselves in other things to avoid having to deal with the reality of life -- maybe more so in trying to avoid dealing with death. I know that I am personally guilty of this and that I became "very busy" when my Father was diagnosed with cancer shortly before his death in 1994, finding an abundance of things that needed to be done just to keep my mind and body occupied. In many ways I have remained "busy" ever since.

Losing your Grandmother is difficult, losing anyone that you love is. Having multiple losses lumped into a short period of time compounds your ability to grieve either satisfactorily or fully and I think makes seeking escapes even more likely. Your friend was so young and there is an unnatural element tied to losing someone when they are young, a greater sense that it isn't fair - especially when it is something like cancer. My words can't make this season of your life easier but the whispers of your Heavenly Father can bring peace and understanding to your heart . Keep listening actively, He often speaks when you least expect it in ways you won't anticipate.

Our Father understands your anger and hurt, He truly does. You will experience so amany emotions as you go through this time and innocuous things can trigger them. I pray that this time of grief can also be a time of healing for you -- ask the Lord to help you see the fruit that this situation can bear and know that He is there to carry you at those points where you feel you can't take another step.

Death is an ugly thing and is a direct result of Man's unfaithfulness to God. I don't mean that he struck down your loved ones because of something they did, I mean that we die because Adam and Eve chose to cast aside the instructions given by their Creator and Friend, and as a result of this, sin and death entered a perfect creation.

Ironically, death is a victory for those who love the Lord because they get to go be with the Savior. I understand exactly when you say you are jealous of BJ because I have struggled with this too - many of us have. For families that know the Lord I think this is normal and again, something that God understands. We have been blessed to see how the Lord is using BJ's life (and death) to bring honor to Himself, something many do not see clearly when they lose someone they love, yet we still grieve greatly at times. We still miss him and always will. We talk to him at times like you do your friend and Grandmother, I have even written to he and other loved ones that have gone home to be with Jesus.

And they are Home. So are your loved ones if they had a personal relationship with Christ Jesus and I pray that they did. His word tells us that we are aliens in this world (I Peter 2:11) and I believe that one of reasons we are jealous is that we know they are Home with Jesus in Paradise, and it is our Home too if we are faithful to Him - and we long to be there with Him. Let their battles, their lives inspire you to honor Him and serve Him, so that you can go Home too when it is time.

Just as knowing the story behind the song ("I Would Die For You") makes it more real and effective as a ministry tool, the story is God's story and is repeated in so many ways in Scripture and in life. Isn't it interesting how life is like that; anytime we can truly identify with something it speaks to us in a deeper way -- the same way that God's Word seems like foolishness or just so many words to the non-believer, but becomes water in the desert when the heart is truly searching and open.

Loving Father, embrace Travis and all of those hurting because of the loss of ones that we love, those who are improtant to us and yet more important to you. Thank you for understanding our grief; the anger, tears, hurt and pain. But Father, please don't let it overwhelm us, but let us grow through it and draw closer to you. This world tells us that a loving God would never allow these things to happen, but it is because you love us so much that you gave us free choice, not wanting the allegiance of automatons. Our choices have let so much pain and hurt into the lives of those you love, yet you love them -- you love us. May we truly, truly love you back in a way that makes a difference in your world. We come to you in the name of your son Jesus Christ,


Friday, July 13, 2007

The "Flip Flop Summer Tour" made it's stop in Indiana last night. The big Kenny Chesney concert, it sold out in an hour I believe. One of my friends at work got to go and was gracious enough to tell me all about it this morning. I like Kenny Chesney just fine but Sugarland opened for him and they are one of my favorites so I am quite jealous of her attendance.

I was actually listening to Sugarland on the way into work this morning and I turned to one of my favorites of their songs. It's called April Showers and the chorus goes like this:

April showers, bring May flowers and I have seen rain before
But if Sunday morning, lets that sun in, what are we waiting for
Love leaves an open door.

It's kind of a sad song, but i love it. I feel like so many people in my life right now could claim this as their theme song for the stage of life they are in. And as hard as it is, the truth is that rough times in our lives truly do allow us to grow.

1 Peter 5:10 says "And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast." What a great promise. After the rain, eventually the sun will return. We just have to hold on and allow the trials to finish completely to allow God to grow us in the areas He needs. When we endure the storm, we always end up better for it on the other side. So hold on and trust all that the Lord is doing knowing that He knows what He's doing.


Thursday, July 12, 2007

Last year I wrote about a man I had observed who lost his legs; he is bound to a wheelchair and lives in a less than prime part of town. However, I had seen him out tending his yard and the sidewalk in front of his house on one of my weekly trips downtown, bobbing up and down to prune and water his flowers, pick up trash from the walk, etc.

I saw this gentleman again today down the block from his house, picking up trash around the bus stop which is located adjacent to an old, run-down gas station that now services radios and electronics.

Last week we had a group of summer associates from an Indy law firm who were here to stain the trim on a couple of our cabins and to put in a stone path through a small area we have planted with prarie grass and wildflowers. They did a great job. One of the young ladies is a parapalegic who relies on her help-dog Duke to do little things that we take for granted, like turning on and off the lights, opening drawers and cabinets and retrieving the mundane necessities of life. It is obvious that this young woman was up to the challenges that life has dealt her and she seemed to have a very upbeat disposition about things.

Today we had a guest who spoke about the upcoming 2007 Disabled Water Ski National Championships which take place next week just outside of Indianapolis. I decided I am going to volunteer to help because I need to be around people like these who have learned to overcome the obstacles that have intruded into their lives, who make the best out every day.

Each one of us deals with some type of handicap, though for most of us they aren't physical. I am much more crippled by my fears and anxieties than many are by missing limbs. I spend too much time wondering "what if" (a common theme for single men - ok, maybe most men in mid-life) and not choosing to be proactive in my situation.

My license plate may not identify me as having any special needs in my life like some folk's do, but their ability to cope, even thrive in their daily lives gives a wonderful example of what we could accomplish if we put a bit of effort into it. The thing that holds most of us back each day from serving others and in so doing, serving our Lord, is not something others look at us and notice, but the inner workings of a defeated mind or spirit - certainly one of Satan's greatest pleasures.

Today, make the decision not to give him the pleasure....


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

For the past week or so I have been working on preparing my house for a much-overdue repainting. The house was built 70 years ago and hasn't been painted in the 9 years I have owned it. Procrastination and other issues have intervened in the last few years after it had reached the point that it needed a new coat of paint.

A house can accumulate a lot of paint in 70 years. Most of my time this past week has been spent scraping - one side of my house. Each time you scrape it smooth, then go to bed and get back up more paint has freed its edges and begs to be freed of its attachment, so another round of scraping and sanding results. I finally was able to put a layer of binding primer on it and then another coat of primer over most of it as I tried to beat the predicted rain for today. Hopefully, I can now move on to the next side of the house.

As we live we have the tendency to accumulate a lot of outer layers as well. Interacting with others in each of our circles of activity, we tend to put on masks that present the person to them that we think they need or want to see. I believe that this is one reason we often find such relief when we go away for vacation to an area where we are removed from these circles - the weight of these masks accumulates as well - slowly, so that we aren't even aware of the addition, the weight of the burdens making our daily lives more difficult.

As I have worked at scraping the house it has revealed all of the colors that it has worn before. This has served to remind me that I need to scrape off the layers of "protection" that I wear as well, that I need to be the same person to all with whom I come into contact. Our true colors tend to sneak out anyway, often at less than opportune times.

Father, reveal to each of us the loose paint that needs to be removed from our lives - the camoflauge we wear to hide the moisture, mildew and damaged wood. Let us realize that without taking the time to properly address the hidden issues in our lives, the new coating we wear on the outside will only fail again. Only you can do a professional job of repainting who we are.

In Him,


Monday, July 09, 2007

I tend to be a judgemental person. I make assumptions about a person based on the first couple things I notice about them- their attitude towards authority, their clothes, car... however shallow or genuine my reason may be I put stereotypes on people very quickly. I think part of this is natural- a way to classify people in our minds to understand them, but I'm sure I take it too far. This issue has led me to having a terrible attitude towards people that I have maybe had a single conversation with. Instead of trying to get know others, I tend to write a lot of people off as in a certain crowd and not even try to talk to them. At times I even develop a sort of hostility towards them based on the title I gave them.

This attitude issue I have keeps me from really getting to know a lot of people. I'm sure I miss out on a good deal of great, fun people because I build up in my mind who I think they are then don't even give them a chance.

In Colossians 1, Paul gives a quick description of what we were like before putting our faith in God. One of the phrases he chooses is, "hostile in mind." As non-believers, we were hostile towards God in our minds. Because of the attitude we are born with as sinners, we are not able to get to know God. We are automatically enemies of God. Regardless of the truth of who God is and how GREAT He is, without God, a human mind cannot see that or understand it because it is hostile towards Him.

I don't know why this was so profound to me, but it is. I guess because I can relate. I know what it's like to write someone off without knowing the truth of who they are. But even more so because if we can understand this as we talk with those who don't know Christ, it gives us a greater understanding of where they are coming from. We are asking them to switch sides in the middle of a war. We are asking them to join the team they have been fighting against, to love the one they have written off as the enemy and so refused to get to know.

To me, it is a reminder to have patience with people. Instead of getting irritated with non-believers for sinning, I need to understand that they are not a slave to righteousness as I am. They don't have a capability of understanding the things of God because they do not have the Holy Spirit. They aren't even able to grasp who God is. We need to love on them and cover them in prayer. That is what will draw their curiousity towards who God really is. Beating people over the head or proving how perfectly we can follow rules is not what shows people the reality of the God we serve. They will know us by our love.


Friday, July 06, 2007

Rainy days are magical. They keep us in and let us go places we aren't, be with the people we love, focus on dreams , puddles or clouds.

To sit on a breezy porch with rain coming down tapping on the roof and streaming to the ground, well, what better time to reflect, to miss a loved one, to dream of a cabin in the mountains overlooking a stream. What better setting to romanticize life or wish a thought into the reality of the heart?

A cup of coffee, a friend or two; looking into a smokey valley or over a bay disappearing into the mist, the down-falling water opening our minds and hearts. Laughing at things we've done, planning things we'll do...missing the times never shared but oh how we wanted to.

The color of Fall, the smoke from a chimney, the smell of coffee and the steady sound of the rain. We look back on days gone by and know them fondly, softly. the misty sky filters out the bad that came with the good, and presents a clear, clean image of that special trip, day, week or person.

Rain brings a melody to our lives, filters sediment from our hearts, soothes a hurting soul. Like any time of reflection it may also bring back some pain or hurt, but it quickly softens the jagged edges that once tore at us with wicked barbs. Now there is meloncholy warmth, not burning anger or pain.

Rain brings out the philosopher in each of us and dulls extreme emotion. It changes our plans but deepends our lives. It brings with it sustanance for our souls, a balm for our heart, peace for an anxious mind.

We see whom we have become and remember who we'd wanted to be. We sip our coffee in anonimity and relish the thought that right now, to the rainy day people around us we can be whoever we want to be, whoever it is we want them to think we are. The sound of the stream or the breaking of waves brings us back to the moment, then our mind takes us away again to the next thought, the other Place where our heart longs to dwell - where we aren't who we are, but whom we long to be.

Father, thank you for abiding our ramblings, be they mental or physical. Thank you for the rain in our lives, in whatever form it comes. Reignite faded dreams and inspirations and through all of our wonderings, may we come back to the certainty that we are Yours and that You love us unconditionally.

In your Son's Holy name,


Thursday, July 05, 2007

The AweStar teams are about halfway through their respective trips. The teams post updates as often as they can at I thought I would put up the latest from both Peru, my parents are leading that trip, and India, Lauren and David Post are leading that one. Check out the website for pictures and more updates!! Please continue to keep the teams in your prayers...

Peru team, posted 7/3/2007:
"Yesterday we ministered here in Pacasmayo where we are staying. We went to schools, plazas and market places. The market corners and plazas are where most people gather. It´s amazing that they take the time to stop and watch our drama and then wait to talk with us. They are hungry for truth and we are seeing that over and over. Today we were in Tembladera which is a city surrounded by mountains. It was gorgeous. It was a quiet smaller town and the pastor and his wife there were very hospitable to us. We saw many lives stirred and touched. We pray for the follow up work of these new believers by the many church members that were in attendance. It is awesome to be in the presence of God´s majesty and serve as His hands and feet. For the past two nights we´ve had home cooked meals by a local Peruvian family. Everyone is eating well and thoroughly enjoying this time. Tomorrow we will minister in the Ciudad de Dios (City of God). Thank you for your continued prayers. We´ll write again when we have access. Deanna and Brent Higgins, CCs"

India team, posted 7/2/2007
"Stodrum, God Bless those that are reading this update. The past two days have been a whirlwind. We started yesterday morning at 6:00am and we did not stop until 1:00am Monday morning. The day started with us traveling for an hour and a half to a village called Salem. In this village we performed the drama at a Childrens Home. It is a Christian place so we were able to just love on them and play games with them. The two games the boys really liked to play was thumb wars and also a game called swords. Ask the students when they get home to play swords with you. After performing we went and had a snack and learned about the Home. A couple of the interesting facts are one, the home is not really for orphans, it is for children whos parents can not afford to keep them and two it is a rescue for girls. In the culture here if a family has three girls a lot of the families will pay someone to kill the third girl born. This society wants to have boys so they do not find any value to the girls, it is more expensive to have a girl. We then traveled to Chennai, the hottest place on earth. Along the way we stopped at a park to worship and while in the park we had a little girl come and stay around the team. As the team started singing this girl started trying to sing. Tiffany Hamm had a burden to tell this girl about Christ so in the middle of sharing we stopped and Tiffany presented the gospel to this girl. We do not know if she made a commitment to Christ but we know that the seed was planted. We will be in Chennai for the next week, sweating and ministering until we cant go on. We have many villages and schools along with tsunami victims and HIV patients. Today was a very interesting day for the students. It started in a school where we were able to perform the drama for high caste boys and girls and also to some muslim kids. We had to watch what we said as to not offend either one. We then went to a place called CMCT. This is a ministry that deals with mainly the poor, feeding, medical, schooling, and helping them learn how to make money for themselves. After a tour of some of the facilities and lunch we headed out to a Leprosy colony. This colony had many people affected with leprosy and no way to get food, clothing or really any of the necessities. Some of the people were believers but others still are looking to their hindu gods. These people were the most receptive to the drama thus far. On the funny side of things, we were told today that our bus drivers cant believe the amount of water we drink. They think we are drinking too much. Please continued to pray for the team, we have a long week and in high temperatures. Please pray for continued health. Pray for the follow-up work and those that will be doing the follow-up. Please pray that the team continues to see God on a daily basis. We covet your prayers. Lauren Higgins and David Post CCs"

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

I have been fortunate to have my life touched by many people. Two couples that stand out in my mind on this Independence Day are Brent and Deanna and Gary and Janet Strader.

These couples actually have a lot of pain in common, both loosing sons in recent years, both experienced the resulting anger, hurt and tears, both finding that through this pain the Lord has launched unexpected ministries that have impacted the lives of untold numbers of people. Through their losses they have seen their faith tested greatly, and strengthened by the fires that tested them.

In the year preceeding BJ's death in the army of the Lord, Gary and Janet's eldest son, Sgt. Morgan Strader, was killed in Fallujah, Iraq. Like many others , Morgan was fighting to win the freedom of the population there and in the long run, make our own lives more secure. Through the nearly unbearable grief that resulted Gary created a beautiful, inspiring and Christ-focused Thanksgiving-themed PowerPoint presentation that has now been viewed by nearly a million people world wide (at least 68 countries).

The Straders have been very instrumental in the Military Support group in our church, leading efforts that have sent thousands of care packages, Christmas cards and presents, Girl Scout Cookies, Bible devotionals and sermon CDs to our soldiers. The Lord has given Gary a voice in the community because he cared enough to make a difference, having now spoken in a number of public venues about our need to not only support these men and women in thought, but to pray for them and to show tangible recognition that they aren't forgotten or taken for granted. All of this is done with an eye on their spiritual health and growth, that they will know that they are fighting for a cause greater than any country or government.

They have moved steadily forward with this mission, footing the bill of much of it themselves, including the minting of beautiful, silver-dollar-sized prayer coins (you can receive info on these by emailing as daily reminders to pray for our service men and women. I can tell you they serve their purpose well -- both the coins and the Straders.

After Morgan was killed, with (I am sure) tremendously torn emotions, the Straders have watched the second of their three boys enlist and graduate from Army Ranger training. He too is now serving his country - serving us - knowing too well the possible cost. Please pray for Chris, for spiritual guidance and for safety in a world that is increasingly hostile to both his faith and his mission.

Pray for the Straders and for families like theirs all around us - like many of you - who have loved ones involved in physical, as well as spiritual wars. At their heart, all wars are the result of a fallen world that has rejected Christ.

As we watch and participate in celebrations with inspiring fireworks and music - remember that for thousand around the world the projectiles and fireworks are real and tragic, accompanied by the thunder of death and misery. "Freedom is never free." Underneath it all, none of our hard-won freedom would be worth even one death if it wasn't for the death of One on a rugged, ugly stick sunk in a hill overlooking the refuse of the city and the people who had rejected Him.

Thank you Gary and Janet, Brent and Deanna, Mom and Dad...and all of the rest of you who have made this Day of Independence a day worth celebrating.

Have a wonderful 4th and remember its cost. Celebrate the lives of those who know/knew the meaning of service and sacrifice.

Bless Him today,


Tuesday, July 03, 2007

I am off work today and I believe this morning, I will go for a run. Running and I have a love-hate relationship. Some days I look forward to putting on my Asics and taking off around my neighborhood. Some days however, I struggle to keep my shoes tied, much less run my usual 3 mile loop. I tend to go in spurts. For a couple weeks, maybe even a month, I will be good about getting out and at least attempting my loop several times a week. Then I hit dry periods- where I no longer can find the drive to even pick up my tennis shoes. I know I need the exercise but I just can't bring myself to exert that much energy after working all day.

For me, the real issue is not one of physical condition or ability, it's one of discipline. It's not that my legs wouldn't carry me three miles if I forced them to, it's that I don't let like to run through the pain. When I start to get tired or "feel the burn," it's much easier to stop and walk for a bit or just even head home than push through. I know my problem isn't physical limitation because if I run with other people- I have absolutely no issue going the whole three miles and I usually feel I could continue on if I wanted.

There's something about not being alone that pushes me to not give up. I don't want to let the other person down or hold them back, so I push through regardless of my feelings. Also, I have something to keep my focus from how long it's been, how much father to go, whether or not my lungs are burning, etc... Rather than thinking about what I'm doing, I'm able to just do it and even enjoy it.

I see this issue of discipline play out to the rest of my life, at school, around my house, at work. I am a procrastinator to the max. If I am working on a project or paper alone, I don't usually do it until the last couple of days before it's due which makes for late nights and lower quality work. However, if it's a group project- I make sure to be prepared with my absolute best work. I don't want to get anyone else a lower grade because I didn't work as hard as I could. I try to get my chores done regularly as it's my turn at home because I share the space with my roommate. My room however, hasn't been swept in.. we probably don't need to go there.

Accountability keeps us in check and helps to keep us from slipping into bad habits or out of good ones. Life is hard, it's good to have someone there who knows what you're dealing with and can give you that extra nudge you need to keep moving forward or can encourage you when you do make the tough decision that needed to be made. We are not made to be alone. We need each other, not just to have fun but to stay focused and disciplined in our actions and lives.


Monday, July 02, 2007

Too often I find that I'll pick up a book to read from the book store, take it home and start reading, only to realize that I have read the book before. It may take 50 pages or it may take half of the book to confirm it, but it certainly happens more than I want to consider. Thank goodness for used book stores. The up side of this is that I can re-read a book every couple of years and enjoy it all over again or learn something new.

Reading Scripture is certainly like this. My most recent experience of "when did they add this to the Bible" occurred as I read in Luke 17 about the 10 lepers. Maybe it is because there is so much meat in this chapter but somehow this particular story hadn't taken root into my permanant memory. The story is tucked between "it is better to tie a millstone around his neck" for those who lead little ones to sin (vs. 2), the faith of a mustard seed (vs. 6) and the coming of the Kingdom of God (vss.20-37) I'll use the "too much meat" excuse here.

In case you, like me, have forgotten the story - 10 men who suffered from leprosy met Jesus as he entered their village, recognizing him (as evidenced by their greeting of "Jesus, Master, have pity on us!"). Jesus' command to them was to go show themselves to the priests, andas they went on their way they were healed.

Now, assume that you and nine of your friends were afflicted with HIV/Aids or some other affliction that not only caused great pain and discomfort on your way to death, but made you outcasts in the eyes of the society around you. You have suffered miserably and have basically no hope of cheating death when a man comes and heals you with a simple command. How would you react to this miraculous event? There would have been an incredible celebration and unbridled joy had BJ been healed gradually through the heroic medical efforts put forth to save him, let alone had the Lord chosen to step in and raise him out of his bed and make him whole.

One man returned to thank Jesus - one. The other nine went on their way to something they apparently deemed more important but didn't seek out the man who had healed them, I just cannot imagine doing this - it puzzles and grieves me. It makes me wonder how many times the Lord has blessed me that I have taken for granted, or been too focused on "doing" that I have completely failed to acknowlede the blessing received.

Oh, you should also note that the one man returned to thank Jesus was--a Samaritan. As you will recall from a slightly more celebrated story the Samaritans didn't associate with the Jews. Yet it was this one man, a double-outcast if you will, who came and humbled himself before Christ. Lest you wonder, Christ noticed that the other 9 didn't come back.

All of us are outcasts in one way or another, we all experience hardships and we are all in need of some type of healing. We have a Savior who is already reaching out to us with an eternal healing we can't possibly, truly appreciate in this life. Yet the further outcast we are, the farther we have fallen from the standards He gave us, the greater our realization should be of His grace and mercy. None of us has a good reason to ignore His blessing and move forward even a day in this life without thanking the One who has given it to us.

May you experience His blessings today - and remember to thank Him for them!