Friday, August 31, 2007

This is the basic book cover. There will be some changes that are relatively minor in nature. I have heard from many of you that you have pre-ordered it, and I want you to know that we really appreciate that.

In a sea of printed materials, it is often difficult for us to see how this can ever be anything more than another droplet of rain into an already teeming ocean. It is our fervent prayer however, that the Lord uses this to further His kingdom, and that all is done according to His will and timing.

We have often struggled to understand the timing. It has been hard for us to see the book not come out when the MercyMe cd was current (they have a new cd due out this fall, our book due out in January).

It was hard for us to see the song not get released as a single. Bart told me they only ever played it in concert once, 'cause it was too high for him to sing night after night. I'm thankful that I got to be present for that one time; however, my family didn't. I hurt for them.

Perhaps the Lord has been saving it for future use. Perhaps not. We must wait and see.

The moments we walk in right now feel like a deep, collective breath before a prolonged exhale.

We do not know what the Lord will do, we only want to be found faithful. We have already been afforded more than many parents who endure the loss of a child. We are most thankful for that. In no way do we ever want to appear ungrateful. God has blessed us significantly!

Anyone who ever has the privilege of publishing a book, hopes that it will sell well. We do hope for that. More than that, we hope that it changes lives, and allows others to see that one life can make a huge impact for the Kingdom. That God does use our faithfulness, though we don't often see it. We want it to bring hope where there is none. We want to see people surrender to Him.

Through the life of a young man, we hope to see a climate of change begin to take place in America and across the world. It is a mighty dream, we know. But we serve a Mightier God! If He chooses to use it this way, it can be done.


Thursday, August 30, 2007

I heard from a college freshman yesterday who was very concerned about the students back at her private Christian High School. She spoke of how many "good people" are there, but expressed concern over how most of them come from wealthy families and are far from understanding what it means to "surrender all" for Christ.

Most of them say they are Christians, but there is a chasm between what they proclaim to believe and what their lives reflect. It is not my intent to judge them, but to ask the question, "how do we close the gap between them and the life Jesus taught us to live in Scripture?"

In reading the book "Jesus Freaks" by DC Talk, one quickly sees a different view. On the other side of the world, believers of all ages are persecuted, tortured and killed for their faith. How is it possible to teach those who have so much to be willing to lay down their lives for Christ with the grace of the modern day martyrs who have preceded them.

We as a society, are largely shielded from this view. We know more about the terrorists who give up their lives for a cause they believe in, than our own brothers and sisters who die every day for their faith. Our media in this country doesn't speak of such atrocities, unless it affects us where we live. Many of us are not connected to the sources who deliver such information (like "Voice of the Martyrs").

We have a benign belief that little is required of us, as we are Americans. We are the wealthiest country in the world. We no longer need to live in fear of our lives for religious freedom or any other purpose. It is no wonder that Christians in other countries believe our Christianity is powerless.

The Bible teaches us that as followers of Christ we will be persecuted, and that we should count it as gain when it does occur. The disciples gloried in their sufferings as they considered it a joy to suffer on behalf of their Savior.

Jesus told us we must "deny ourselves, take up our crosses and follow Him." How can we do this when we don't live in need for anything? At what place will we deny ourselves? Our monies go to pad our personal accounts and dreams that have little to do with furthering the gospel.

As I consider the death that so many martyrs have experienced, I am reminded of Life, and Life abundantly! Even as I write, a friend many states away, randomly sends me a text message that says, "O death where is your sting!?! Thanks be to God through Jesus!!"

Too many of us are 2,000 years and many dollar signs removed from this way of thinking.

"for me to live is Christ, and to die is gain."Phil 1:21

I do not have a death wish. Nor am I trying to spread one.

It is about living! How do we live!?! If we live our lives as Christ lived His, we have great victory and what we have becomes desirable to many others. When they receive it, they are fulfilled for eternity.

What most see in us now, is our wealth, and they want it, but it only delivers more want, if it is ever achieved.

We are poised to have tremendous impact on the world through how we live our lives and what we do with our wealth! Shall we continue to live in Laodicea?

What shall we show our children? How do we teach them to "deny themselves" when we won't?

We must die to self, live in Christ, and do it moment by moment. Only if we do this will we keep at bay the constant longing for more...more of something to fill a space that only the Spirit of the living God can bring resolution to.


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

I believe the Lord would bring about revival among His people, if we were but willing. I believe we will experience newness in Christ if we will allow His Spirit to penetrate our and out of church. I believe we could know something of the unity Christ prayed for among His body, if we would start being the church, and stop just attending church.

While in Peru this summer, many of our students were moved by the heart of God to begin new ministries upon their return home. Several were led to make Jesus THE priority in their schools and communities. This is not a small task, and requires significant focus and follow through.

Upon return, a couple of students from the Oklahoma City area began trying to follow His leading. I have spoken of them before. They began meeting nightly in a barn with others who would come and take part. The numbers grew. Provisions were made to help equip the building.
Beyond the meetings they have begun to put their faith into action.

One of our staff went there this past weekend to spend some time with them. He went to take part in what they were doing, not lead them to do things they weren't. What he found was fellowship, joy, prayer and in general, focus on Jesus. They sought to do what He did. This was not something put on by those who knew he was coming.

Their enthusiasm for what the Lord has led them to do, was instrumental in drawing our staff person there. A dozen or so students gathered on Saturday. They went to the store and bought groceries with their combined resources. They took those supplies and began to make sandwiches. When all were completed they headed out.

They headed downtown to the areas the homeless gather. They split into two groups (led by students from the Peru and Ecuador teams from the summer). They began to invest in those who have nothing. They heard stories that broke their hearts. They shared their faith. They loved on people, the way Jesus taught.

They had incredible encounters. This was not their first visit here. It will not be their last.

This group of students do not expect anything for their efforts. They are simply trying to live as the Word of God speaks. They are being the church.

On a day when most people are shopping, playing sports, involved in leisure activities, working in the yard or even resting, these students are taking Jesus to those in need. There is nothing wrong with any of these activities. There is something amiss when they become our busyness that does not allow us to serve our Savior.

Attend church. That is a good thing. While you are there, learn to be the church, that is what Christ taught.


Monday, August 27, 2007

My brother and I were talking on the phone yesterday (he's coming to visit us tomorrow...Yay!). He was telling me a story about his dogs (we'll call them M and D). They are both good dogs, but one of them tends to do things he shouldn't when no one is present.

When it comes to food, the temptation is just to great for M's canine nature. He must have whatever is out in the open. Sometimes he can't wait until humans leave, and will take advantage of opportunities when presented inadvertently. He is not a bad dog, he is behaving as they do. Eating what is available.

D, on the other hand, will walk up to the food, desire the food, even press his nose up close, but unless given permission, will not take it. Much to his dismay, he will even watch M take and eat, but because he knows he is not supposed to, will not participate.

While talking on the phone, Brad is like his big brother...he paces. While we chatted, he left a piece of pizza...a large piece of pizza, out in the open. As we spoke, he suddenly realized he had left the room and raced back. It was too late.

There was no trace of it left.

Now both dogs will express (to an extent) shame when they have done something wrong. The question is, "is it wrong to do what comes naturally?" If your you are born with desires, and you fulfill them when others aren't present, is that wrong?

In the canine world, the answer can be argued from both positions. Many of us would prefer to have the dog whose temperament doesn't allow him to eat what he does not have permission to. Others don't want a dog at all, they are cat people.

I often find myself in this place of indecision. Do I go ahead and do what comes naturally when no one else is looking, or do I choose to do the right thing, regardless?

This is an area men will always struggle with. We were created with certain desires. When we give our lives to Christ, we put to death this nature and the Lord fills us with His.

The issue is a battle that rages within. Living for Christ and doing the right thing, or giving in to what we'd like to do in the moment, reason that it won't hurt anyone, and go ahead with it.

Just like the dog, the action has consequences. The dog may ingest something that his system cannot handle, and he pays the price. Similarly, the aftermath of poor choices brings about unanticipated results that are harmful. Often, more than the individual pays the price.

Dogs can be trained not to proceed when tempted. So can we. Only, we have to want to stop, and we have to be willing to allow the Lord to keep working in our lives. When we give in to unhealthy desires, we fail Him.

Colossians 3:3 says, "For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God."

Too often we act more like, "you never died and your sin is hidden from the world...for a moment."

Both dogs have the same desire. One is full and may pay the price. The other may be hungry, but knows he has done his masters will.

Which will you be, today?


Friday, August 24, 2007

Sunday marks the 13th anniversary of my father's death. It is also his sister's (my aunt's) birthday.

I cannot imagine what it would be like to celebrate my birthday on the anniversary of my brother's homegoing. I do know she has always done so with grace.

My father was a very humble and gentle man. He seldom spoke harshly, and wore a smile on his face that became his signature. All who knew him recognized that smile. He spent his career as a teacher and guidance counselor in elementary schools. His passion was fourth grade. He loved and invested in the lives of children.

He was often the only man in their lives who seemed to care. This demeanor and non-threatening approach caused those in his presence to be at ease.

He spent his life in schools. He had impact on many families in the town he raised us in. Never would we realize how significant an impact...until much later.

He was not a man who argued. He did not battle for the limelight. He did not seem comfortable being the focus of attention.

Daily, I saw him in the word. It is forever etched in my mind, and I know he has set the example of Jesus for his children to live by, even for his grandchildren to die, by.

He did not know about mechanical things. He was not a sports enthusiast. He did not teach me to fix broken stuff. He showed me by example how to love on the Savior.

He tended his yard as if it were the finest of gardens. He seemed to know that it brought joy to my mother, but it also brought joy to him. He treated her like a queen. Breakfast in bed every morning, until he had to be served the same as he battled a disease that took him quickly.

I remember visiting my sister in Virginia in early July when we received a call that he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I remember going for a long walk alone, and pouring my tears upon the pavement. This cancer killed quickly and there was seldom hope as once diagnosed, it was usually too late.

We left Virginia to head home. How could you think about anything else? The memories flooded my thoughts. He was an incredible grandpa to my children. He played games on the floor with them. He was the patient to their being the doctor. He sat in a motionless car for hours with my son as he pretended to be grandpa, and grandpa pretended to be BJ.

He was the most patient father one could have. He taught us how to walk out our faith. He was an excellent example of what a true believer looked like. He was generally silent, but when social injustice sprang to life, he would fire off a letter to the editor of our paper. Very well written, and it's point made the contrary view seem foolish and impertinent.

His peers invested in their careers and sought financial gain. He invested in his family and reaped a wealthy harvest.

He held my children accountable in areas I was inexperienced. They had such respect for him that when he asked a question, if they did not have a reasonable answer, they sought out reasons for their actions, and it often changed their attitudes.

He treated my wife as one of his own. He delighted in her, and made her part of the family. His expressions of love toward her are seldom known by daughters-in-law. His loss grieved her tremendously. She was not alone.

His "viewing" brought about enormous surprise. Neighbors of the funeral home he was honored in visited to see what celebrity had passed, as they had never seen lines the length of his for any other funeral.

The lives he touched from a gentle disposition spoke volumes about what the life of Christ really means to those in our world who are lost and hurting. He was Jesus to them and when he passed, they came out in numbers so great I could not believe it. He touched so many. More than I thought he even knew. He was quiet, gentle and unassuming.

There was no pretense in him...only Jesus.

I love you dad. I miss you. Thank you for your legacy. No son could be prouder of his father. You are the aroma of Christ!


Happy Birthday Aunt Maralyn, I love you!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

I have heard from increasing numbers of you that you can no longer leave messages...that somehow the blog feature that is used to write, will no longer accept your attempts. I do still want those of you interested to have access, so feel free to write us at or

God has done so much in the last two years. When I look back, I am just amazed at all that has happened, and at His provision. In many ways, things have changed so much that there is simply no way to ever go back.

We are not supposed to go back, I know, but comfort sometimes follows the idea of being able to return to what used to be. Going back to a place where memories flourish, and can be almost touched by an extended hand.

When we look back even to our homes in Indiana and the friendships, we still have immense love for the people, but we are aware that their circumstances have changed a great deal, too. The churches we were involved in have changed significantly. The faces of staff and even members are different.

There was a time when we took our leap of faith to come here, that I clung to the idea of being able to return if things did not work out. That was something I thought about quite a bit. I know we could still return and love on the same family and friends, but when things change, so do the familiarity, and the connection points.

It is said that "hindsight is 20/20." I know that is true for looking back and fixing what didn't work. I know it's often true for looking back and glimpsing what was. It does not work for looking back and returning to what used to be.

I am not saying I want to return, that things have not worked out. I am saying the comfort of thinking I could has mostly evaporated as the lives and circumstances that once were have changed.

For me it feels like I've been walking on a rope bridge between two cliff faces...over a deep chasm. Within the rope bridge were secured planks of wood for footing. Each step we've taken is sure, but for some reason, each plank splinters and falls as pressure is released from it.

Of course all of this is an illusion. None of it is real. If the Lord directed our return it would happen and the opportunities that He desired would be open. We carry no expectation of such.

I know that this time of year is difficult and has our minds resting in gardens of the past. Colors are always brighter and truer in those places. Things always seem less complicated, more serene, when you look back.

When you are walking through them...they are not.

This journey is and always will be about faith and obedience. What I have to do in my own mind to keep looking forward will likely always have an element of being attached to the past as part of its process and motivation.

The Lord brings comfort by and through the most unusual of circumstances. I thank Him for this, and will continue to follow His lead.


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

I want to share a story from Lauren's team that went to India. I am likely not to get all of the details just right, so I apologize in advance if in the retelling, I err.

Her team traveled a great deal across the southern parts of the country. They knew going in that the Voice of the Martyr's magazine was sending out stories routinely of Christians being detained, beaten, even killed in India. Radical Hindu groups are seeking out Christians and expressing Satan's displeasure through violent means. This is happening almost exclusively to nationals. No stories were reported that we saw, involving foreigners.

The backdrop of potential violence has a way of keeping ones senses on the alert. Certainly Lauren and her partner David (who led BJ to Peru twice) were aware of possibilities, but did not live in fear. They walked in the power of Christ and knew you and others were lifting them up for safety and Salvation.

On this day, they headed into a leper colony. Most remember the social structure in India is the Caste system. There are three tiers and then the "untouchables" who are the outcasts of that land. The lepers are the untouchables.

The teams presence was a surprise to the people of the village. The team had passed flags on the way in, warning of the dangerous people they would encounter. Dangerous due not to potential violence, but disease.

What they saw was heartbreaking. Humans who had fingers and toes, hands and feet, gnarled beyond recognition. Noses that were sunken into faces. To try and describe the devastation to their bodies seems cruel and unusual, and yet this is how they live...abandoned, discarded by society. If I understand correctly, only 20% of leprosy is incurable, yet no offerings of cure are being extended to this people.

The team went in and loved on these people. Embracing them, trying to communicate with them...engaging them. Smiles were quick to be found on otherwise hopeless faces. There is something unfair about the deep lostness that resides behind the eyes of God's created, that all others seem to have abandoned.

After sharing the drama, one of the girls on the team began to do her best to share with one of the ladies. She like most, was wearing the "bindi." This is the "third eye," worn by Hindu's to ward off evil. It is usually found as a dot on the forehead.

The young lady on our team had learned five phrases of this ladies language. She began sharing with her (about Jesus), and quickly ran through all five. By this time, the lady believed that the student spoke her language. She began slinging words so quickly and frantically that our girl looked around for help, realizing she did not know what was happening or what to do about it.

As this dear lady spoke, she also began to weep. What would happen next would serve as a symbol for this team of the work God was doing in this land. Far too few workers are there. Even fewer are willing to minister to this segment of society.

This lady saw the depiction of Christ crucified and resurrected. She understood the story she had witnessed. She wanted what was being offered.

With tears streaming down her face, she took her fingerless hands and wiped the moisture from her irrigated face. Then in one swift movement, moved to her forehead and wiped away the "bindi."

The Truth and light of Jesus Christ had come to this woman. With all that she was, she removed the mark from her forehead knowing that all it represented, was a lie. She had received Truth!
Truth would set her free.

This experience was not the norm for this team. They were not routinely able to share their faith as scrutiny was always nearby. Still, the Lord moved in power among them and through their obedience. New brothers and sisters will one day stand side by side with them, whole...complete...healed and worshipping the One who is worthy of all our praise!


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Many times I have read the book of Acts and wondered what it would be like to live in community where God's Spirit was moving and the people had everything in common, and they sought and worshipped Him regularly.

Their experience was not relegated to Sunday mornings. What they lived was not contrived or orchestrated. They did not plan out services and hope the Holy Spirit showed up to fill them.

They lived and dwelled in the awe of God.

They hungered after Him. They celebrated the filling of the Holy Spirit. They saw Him move in power. They saw lives change directly as a result of obedient hearts beating as His own.

I find myself wondering what it will take for the body of Christ today to come to the place where all pomp and circumstance are laid aside, where the borders and boundaries of denominational tags are dropped. Where pretense and expectation based on individual fulfillment will be displaced with the recognition and expectation that unity in Christ what is truly important.

Where recognizing that Christ alone is the way to Salvation. Nothing added, nothing subtracted.

One does not need to read far in the New Testament to realize how out of sync we are. When will unity come? What will be required to precipitate the kind of unity Christ prayed for in John 17? How it must have anguished His heart to recognize this day was coming when we would so separate ourselves from one another, and act as if only our way was the right way.

No wonder a lost world has little interest in our offerings. They seldom resemble Christ, and are most often empty of His power.

Yet, we are compelled in His Word to walk in His power, and to live as He lived.

It says "Anyone who claims to be in the light, yet hates his brother walks in darkness." 1 John 2:9 How dark is this darkness that we do not recognize who our brother is so that we can love him. We discard them verbally based on what church they attend. We stiffen up when they enter a room believing them to be the enemy...oh we may not say so, but our actions would certainly reflect it.

We live our lives as if there is no truth to the fact that in heaven we will all have to get along. That ethnicity won't matter, that denominations won't matter, styles of worship will be unimportant.

If we do not love them now, how on earth do we expect or believe that we are "walking in the light?" We are walking contrary to His word.

BJ recognized this and prayed and begged for unity. His experiences on the mission field showed him what Acts chapter 2 living was like. Everyone had everything in common. They lived together, ate together, worshipped together, studied together, encouraged and exhorted each other. They even rebuked one another (in love) when necessary.

We lived the same thing this summer and I am tremendously moved by it! It has become part of who I am. I long for it! I do not want to live without it.

I don't get that at church. I love my pastor. He cannot make this happen.

It will only come from a people...THE CHURCH...who are completely surrendered to Christ and willing to lay down selfishness to embrace the Jesus of the Bible. He is not a flannel board depiction that we can pull out when it is convenient for teaching. He is the way, the truth and the life, and no man comes to the Father, but by Him.

When will we begin to love like Him? What are we waiting for? Padded pews, air conditioning and designer coffee do not usher in His presence. Lives spent for Him do.

Lets go and empty ourselves for Him.


Monday, August 20, 2007

Yesterday, in church we had a prayer and commitment time for "True Love Waits." I believe most know about this program. It is designed to encourage sexual abstinence until marriage (from a Biblical basis).

The approach was different than I have seen before. It began with asking the students present to find a seat with their parents.

As the shuffle began, I noticed a young lady, already seated with her parents. She was early high school age and her younger brother would have been in junior high.

The pastor asked each student to stand to speak words of commitment. This young man immediately looked to his older sister for whether or not he should join in. She was not moving, though he was already half way to standing. Her lack of movement brought about insecurity, and he sat back down.

Feeling it was right, he looked around, saw others up and stood to his feet.

Meanwhile, the young lady, clad in a denim skirt which was short enough that it threatened to expose her from a seated position, refused to stand. Her posture was defiant. Her mother told her to get up. She shot one of the ugliest faces you can imagine in response. She was not interested in participating or perhaps she was just too self conscious to want to stand up in front of the crowd.

Regardless, she looked to her dad for protection, but he also insisted she rise. She stood and forcibly took part in a commitment ceremony, where she was vowing to remain sexually inactive until she got married.

Unfortunately, her defiant attitude and her dress told a different story.

I must say, this was not an encouraging sight to behold. I quickly found myself invading this families privacy, yet it was unfolding in a public forum.

Students struggle significantly for identity and acceptance in today's world. Clothing is just one of the vehicles used to gain a spot on the "in-crowd" roster. Sex is another. I have counseled with and watched students struggle with these issues for more than a decade. It is not easy for them.

Knowing how BJ felt and seeing this struggle unfold in a public way, intensified my desire to have him at my side. I wanted to be praying for him over this as other parents were. I could tell from Deanna's emotion that she was longing for his presence during this time as well.

I forced myself to pray for this young lady...for her parents...for her little brother. Unfortunately, judgment was in my heart.

I am thankful that Beej does not have to deal with this issue, but simultaneously long for his presence.

I could write about the difference between commitment and surrender in our culture.

I could write about the problems with teens and how they dress and how it impacts their subculture.

Instead I am going to stop in a very unsettled place, and hope that this finds you as uncomfortable as it does me.

We must take these issues to prayer. They play out in most every home across the United States. We can contribute to solutions if we pray, then act...instead of the reverse.


Friday, August 17, 2007

I heard from Junior in Lima, and he is fine. He feels kind of silly because he didn't even feel the earthquake when others were running in the streets as a result of it. He requests you continue to pray for his country.

When BJ was younger, we enjoyed the movie "The Fox and the Hound." We would watch it together, and he would imitate Todd, the baby fox, trying to howl like the bloodhounds. I can still hear his little voice as he did this, as he was amazingly similar to the actual voice.

As he grew, he would imitate that scene from time to time. I always laughed at his impression. I will also always remember it.

Some time after this, I read a story about a mother who had a son named Todd. I remember the story but forget many of the details. The name Todd, means Fox. That is significant to both "The Fox and the Hound," and to this story, as the young man named Todd, died. His mother was heartbroken. She lived in a densely populated area of the northeast, where wildlife was seldom if ever seen within the city limits.

One day shortly after she had lost her son, and was grieving hard, a fox appeared in her backyard. Although she was startled initially, it was a significant blessing to her. She became aware of the extraordinary symbolism as the fox appeared each morning.

In the wake of significant loss, such things can bring healing to those who are mourning. (There was much more to this story, but I only remember this)

In the spring of 2004, before we moved to the Camp where I would join the staff, you may remember me sharing about the experience BJ and I had camping. One evening as we sat by the fire, we saw movement across the valley. After grabbing the binoculars, we discovered that baby foxes were playing outside their den.

We slowly crawled that direction to unsuspecting baby foxes who romped like kittens. We watched them for an hour or two as dusk turned to dark. We were both so excited about our rare opportunity that we struggled to sleep.

It became a story we would share over and over. We even took family back out to see them, but their mother had detected our scent, and moved them to a new den.

I can't explain why, but I have thought about these things from time to time, never really trying to connect any of them. When BJ died, I didn't go looking for baby foxes. Precious memories of all kinds replayed as if they could not stop. The echoes of his voice baying like a baby fox pretending to be a baby hound still makes me smile.

For many years, I have known the Lord was moving me in a particular direction. A direction in ministry I have not really wanted to follow. Still, He has gently provided me opportunities to proceed in ways that lead down this path.

This week has become landmark to me as I have been given opportunities that I did not want to follow. Opportunities that are the gateway to new areas of ministry that I would prefer to let others who are more proficient than I, pursue.

I have struggled in more ways than I can articulate. My natural "fight or flight" response has been laden with thoughts of "flight." I have wanted to run far and hard from this as it stretches me to limits only the Lord can perfect.

The timing of these opportunities coincide with the anniversary of BJ's death and birthday. Two dates that are five days apart.

I have been struggling so much with the obedience factor, that I have missed details.

I know that God equips those he calls. I teach that.

I have asked Him over and over if He really needs me to take these next steps of obedience. Simultaneously, I have said to Deanna, "I know BJ would want me to do this, but this is not about what he would want, but about obedience to God, and I just want to be sure I am doing the right thing."

Two different men are vessels in this story. They each are in positions of authority in different ministries. They have each asked something of me for the period of time running on and over these emotional dates.

I have dreaded giving them my "yes." I have dreaded it, because it means I must jump off of the cliff of faith, and free fall into the trust and rest of provide where I quickly come to the end of my own strength, and must depend on His.

Yesterday afternoon, I would hear from them both. They would call back to back. There were literally seconds between hanging up with one, and having the other on the line.

I was very confused, however. While their voices were nothing alike, their requests were. But that is not why I was confused.

What was going on? How had I missed a very simple detail that suddenly meant so much? It reflected affirmation, divine participation, and even strong emotional memories of one I love dearly.

I knew I had to give my "yes" to both. I did not want to give it to either. I had sought the Lord hard, for His answers to these questions, yet His Spirit had already moved within me, and I knew I had to say "yes." My struggle was not over God's answer, it is over the depth of my need for His provision. What He has called me to, is not within me. What He is asking of me, are not things I am good at. Still, I know that if He has called me, He will equip me.

As I hung up the phone with one, and immediately answered the phone with the other, my initial confusion begged for an answer to the question, "how did I miss this detail before?" Then, confusion would turn to clarity as I realized both men were named..."Todd."

Though it took me awhile, the Lord knew I would eventually see this thread, and He would use it to bring me affirmation.


Thursday, August 16, 2007

Many of you are already aware of the earthquake which struck Peru and killed several hundred (at current count).

Here is what I can tell you.

My team worked in the northern coastal regions, hundreds of miles north of where the quake occurred. The BJ school is located up there as well. As of right now, I have no reason to believe any of them were affected by the quake.

The missionary that I work with for our Extreme teams in southern Peru, lives in Lima, but is in the US right now for meetings. Thus far, I have no word on whether or not their homes were impacted.

The quake itself was centered 90 miles or more south of Lima along the coast. The cities most impacted by the quake are not ones my teams have worked...yet.

One of my translators lives in Lima and I am awaiting word from him on his safety and how bad things may be.

My nephew Derek worked in southern Peru. I will let him or his family comment on his proximity to the affected cities. I mean no disrespect to those who are suffering in Peru, but I am very thankful that Derek arrived home last week. However, I am sure both of us would rather be there right now to assist in any way we could, and to minister to the broken hearted.

Here are the names of those who I know would appreciate your prayer support.

Junior lives in Lima and works as an interpreter for us.

Mike and Kathy Weaver are missionaries who live in Peru, but are here in the US, currently.

Farther north, Pastor Tito is my primary contact. His wife Edith just delivered their fourth child, Stacy, a month early. Mom and daughter are doing very well! So are brother Daniel and sister Loida Joy. Their fourth child (and oldest) passed away from an asthma attack, a few years back.

Marco and Julie (both single adults) both live in Trujillo (where Tito and his family live) and were our primary translators all summer. Trujillo is the city we worked that is closest to Lima, but is still many hours (by bus) north.

Luis is pastor and the man God used to raise up the BJ School in Piura.

Pastor Raul and his family are our contacts in the city of Piura, and have assisted us greatly each time we worked their.

Thank you for your concern for these people, They will most definitely benefit from your prayer support!

Thank you to those of you who have contacted my by email and myspace to seek updated info. I will update here as I receive word.


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

My nephew Derek who spent the last 7 months in Peru, returned last week. For the last three days, he has been here with us, along with his girlfriend Audrey.

Hearing his stories and looking at his pictures stirs my heart. Though we have not been back that long ourselves, I cannot wait to return. I am so thankful for his obedience, and for how he has surrendered his heart to the Lord.

I am inspired that one who has just graduated from college, would give up such a period of time, and go. There are not near enough who are both willing and motivated to go. Many talk about it, few actually leave.

In most of the small villages he visited, he saw the same thing. We had seen it as well. It is very unsettling, and as a believer should be motivating. We had been approached different times, and even when we weren't their presence was known, as we saw them working the same areas we were.

Their presence in Peru and other countries far surpasses our own. They outnumber us many fold. The work they are doing causes much confusion. They are recognizable there as they are here. They travel in pairs, and dress in Peru as they dress here in the your neighborhood and mine.

In the smallest villages where no Christian churches are present, there is often one of theirs. If it is not theirs, then there is often one from another group that say they are Christian, but are not.

These missionaries who don't know Jesus, but are present in much greater numbers than Christian missionaries, are sharing a false gospel with lost people.

If we are truly in the last days, and if the gospel must reach every nation before Christ's return as the Bible says, then gone is the time when we can afford to wait for someone else to take the Word of God to these lands. While we are waiting, lies are being circulated and accepted as truth by unknowing people.

They are hungry for the Truth, and clinging to what resembles it.

Since the missionaries of these two other groups far outnumber our own, what is to be the result? Are we able to armchair quarterback our way into their land, tell them of Jesus the Saving One, and expect they will come to know Him? Can we do that without ever leaving? Can we expect the number of Christian missionaries to suddenly increase to make the difference in lands where lies are being spread and accepted as Truth?

Who can make a difference if we won't?

Being aware of a problem and doing nothing about it changes nothing!

Meanwhile, people die daily and go to hell, while we buy the next "i-thing" and collapse into the air conditioned comfort of complacency. Surely, someone else will deal with it. Plenty of theologians know about it, so if I just sit tight, things will change. After all, I know a missionary and they will make the difference.

There is no truth in that equation. Numbers don't lie...but people do.

Some lack truth and unknowingly lie to others about what it is. Some have truth but knowingly lie to themselves about who will share it. Meanwhile, more people each day assimilate lies into their daily lives, believing them to be truth and eventually lay down with them for eternity.

We each hold the power to change this. First we must deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him.

Colossians 3:3 says, "You died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God." Jesus doesn't hide behind the front door...He stands at it, and knocks (Rev 3:20).



Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Growing pains hurt.

Faith stretched brings the aching of bones, even nausea.

Seeking God for answers sometimes brings about unexpected responses that require more of you than was ever anticipated.

It's crucial for me in these times to remember that I have nothing to offer, but surrender. When I try to offer what I think I have, it amounts to little. When God calls me to His obedience, He equips me for the journey.

He has been growing me for ultimate eternity with Him, but that is not just an end game. The journey and my obedience are what He desires I invest in, rather than my thoughts of future days when I can rest in His resplendence.

The lives He impacts through the obedience of His children often go unnoticed to the faithful. Not because they are blind, but because He often shields us from the work He is doing lest we claim credit, or puff up with pride from tangible results. This is not always the case, but happens more frequently than we know.

I asked Him for opportunities. When opportunities then began to present themselves, I find myself struggling to believe they are His answers. Why? Because they are much greater than I asked for, and require more of me than I feel prepared to give.

Surrender is not a measure of what I can do, or what I am expecting at the moment I seek God. It is a faith cliff and I am a base jumper who must trust a Holy God to prepare me for what He is leading me into. He has given me the equipment, and He is able to bring about His intended results.

Do I have enough faith? Will I be obedient? Will my focus be substantial enough to remain in Him as He prepares me for new views of His work?

I will let you know.

Free falling for His glory is a pretty safe place to be...but it doesn't slow the ground from rapidly racing towards me and taking my very breath away.


Max, we are definitely praying!!!

Monday, August 13, 2007

When I was young I had hair. A lot of hair. It was very thick, quite wavy and brown. It began to fall out significantly while I was in college. I remember watching it circle the shower drain, and wondered how to stop it.

I never got the upper hand on that query.

My passport expires soon. I have to reapply. I am wondering what to put in the blank that requests my hair color.

If I let it grow, it is salt and peppery, but still has brown in it. If I write "brown," it seems like I am lying. What to do, what to do?

I have worn my hair close cropped for years. It wasn't until last year in Africa that I changed my hair style. (That feels like a lie, too. Can you say "Change your hairstyle," when you aren't displaying any?)

One of my students was leaving for the military shortly after we got back (he is in Iraq now). He decided he was going to shave his head now to get ready. His friend who was also with us, decided he would show support by also shaving his head. Now, when I say shave, I mean close cropped. They had no intent of scraping it all off.

They asked if they could borrow my clippers. "Certainly," I said.

Well, three swaths into the clipping, my tired electric razor gave up. Something to do with different electrical currents and not liking the converter that was being used probably contributed to their demise.

Anyway, we had an instant dilemma. This student had three stripes on the back of his head, and no way to make the rest of it look equal.

Quickly the decision was made to borrow disposable razors, and rake the rest of it off...both of their heads.

They went from normal looking young men to those that would stand out in every crowd we assembled in. Those gleaming white heads commanded attention.

I was left with a choice. Let my scrubby scratches of scree grow out for the rest of the summer, or shave it all off. I deferred my decision for almost a week. It got to that stage where it was too long to look close cropped, but too short to lay down, so I walked around like I'd been quilled by a porcupine.

When I could take it no longer, I shaved it all...and I haven't stopped since.

The interesting thing is that children of other lands (and drunk ladies) have never seen such a thing, and have many questions about it. Well, they mostly have rhetorical questions and/or rude comments.

They begin with "he has no hair." The next one is generally "is it cold up there?" Both are followed by obligatory laughter.

I've discovered that when they realize that I understand what they are saying, their curiosity turns more personal. They want to touch the anomaly. I have had many children in foreign lands pet my head. When one does it, they all want to, and line up to take turns. Interestingly, none want to be left out.

This has opened the door of opportunity for me to share with them. Often, my team reminds me of Elijah's comments from the Old Testament. Annoyed with unkind offerings of a similar nature, he called upon the Lord to destroy them at the mouths of wild beasts. There was one time this past summer when I was very tempted. Actually two, but the drunk ladies did not qualify as children.

For the most part, I have recognized that my appearance can be a bit intimidating, and the curiosity of it beckons to children. I can honestly say I enjoy the interaction with them, and have on many occasions, had the opportunity to invest in them because of my hairless disposition.

Now, none of this helps me know what to put in that blank on my passport application. I guess I'll cling to what once was and put down the color "brown." Maybe I'll use parenthesis after that and say..."bald."


Friday, August 10, 2007

While in Peru, some of our travel was on overnight bus trips that took many hours. The buses were set up a little different than those here in the US, and made it a bit better for overnight journeys.

One evening, after we all loaded on, a couple of our students struck up a conversation with the hostess on our bus (all long distances buses in Peru have hostesses). Friendliness begat trust. Trust begat relationship. Relationship begat sillyness. Silliness begat singing. Singing begat testimony.

The hostess who made announcements via an intercom system yielded her microphone to one of our students who had befriended her. Startled that she actually allowed him to talk on the microphone to a bus full of Spanish speaking people, he wasn't exactly sure what to say or do initially.

Shortly, he began to lead us in a worship song. Somewhat embarrassed, he laughed quite a bit. A drunk man nearby, really enjoyed the singing. He encouraged the team to keep doing so.

This student was one who had memorized his testimony in Spanish before leaving the US. So when the song was over, he began to share it with a captive audience. They had nowhere to go. We began to pray that the Lord would use this moment to bring glory to His Name.

When the student was finished, the drunk man said, "No más testimonio, pero más cantando." He enjoyed the singing and urged us to keep on. He had understood enough of the testimony to know he didn't want any part of it. Apparently he did not understand the words to the songs we were singing. His wife/girlfriend was embarrassed and shrank into the seat. He just laughed as he found great humor in his outbursts.

One of our leaders stood an began to pass out tracts to our captive audience. Almost everyone took one, and began to read! Many seeds were planted that night. Some were already believers and let us know that.

It was an encouraging evening, and we were greatly blessed at how God had used relationship to open a platform for witnessing!

Even the simplest and most obvious lessons continue to have impact on the kingdom, if we will take advantage of the opportunities He provides!


Thursday, August 09, 2007

Yesterday, I was blessed with the opportunity to go to a local country club for the PGA Pro-Am. Essentially, it was a practice event for the actual tournament that begins today. It was interesting being present as some of the best in their field, played a round of golf.

For those of you who have never played golf, it is not easy to get the ball to go where you want it to. A narrow fairway is a death sentence for many. Add sand traps and fast undulating greens and you can forget about good scores. To see some of the best hit great shot after great shot is humbling and depressing.

However, most would never admit to this. To walk around there yesterday, one would have thought they were walking among more professionals on the sidelines than were on the course. Most talked, walked and acted as if they were best friends with whatever pro was on the course, and their own play was good enough to be competing.

If the pomposity and pretentiousness present was measurable, it would have eclipsed the Gross National Product of some small country. Most conversations led people to talk about their own game. The atmospheric pressure from the untruths being told should have induced a lightning storm.

I guess the intensity of the triple digit heat was punishment enough for those of us silly enough to brave the day. Even then, the reading on the thermometer was lower than most scores would have been had we been playing instead of the Pro's.

My family would agree with the "silly" part. Lauren thinks golf is the most ridiculous thing she has ever seen. Just the night before, she was making fun of anyone who would chase a little white ball around a several hundred acre course. To air it on national television then, was beyond all comprehension for her. Wait, I don't think "silly" is the word she used.

I like to watch golf cause it helps put me to sleep on Sunday afternoon. The problem is when I fall to sleep, my girls think that means I am no longer conscious, and they take the remote and change the channel. How is one supposed to get a good nap if the narration during their sleep time goes from "He's using a seven iron," to "You have bewitched me, body and soul?!"

It's not fair. I think television remotes should have DNA readers on them, and only work by the one who is programmed into the set.

People who enjoy particular activities will likely always have an affinity for people who are actually good at that same activity. Fortunately, not all of these activities are aired on television. We are getting close however, and I am living in fear of the day when the national scrapbooking championships come to cable. When that happens, they will start calling scrapbookers, athletes. Shortly after that, it will become an Olympic event.

Instead of trying to improve my golf game, I think I'll just keep trying to be more like Jesus. Attending the occasional golf event just reinforces my drive to do so.

Fortunately, being more like Jesus will have a more significant impact on the world around me than getting better at golf ever could. Should make it a pretty easy decision.

Come to think of it, most congregations are made up of people who play every week, improve their handicap, know who all the pro's are...and can't recite a single verse of Scripture.

Pass me the remote, maybe I do want to change the channel.


Wednesday, August 08, 2007

For any of you who have not seen the cover to the book on BJ, you can go to, and in the search box, do an author search with Brent and Deanna Higgins or a title search with "I Would Die for You." Then you can click on the cover and it will take you to a blurb about the book. Again, it is due out in January. We are very excited!

We sent in the re-edited/corrected manuscript yesterday evening, and believe our part to be nearly done. Woo-Hoo!

Being back in the states and getting back to work in the office to start work on the next series of trips must be a bit like coming down from the mountain after meeting with God, for Moses.

How quickly we see the lostness and darkness of our world. Not that it wasn't apparent while on the mountain, but then we were doing something about it. Now is about pulling together and devising new plans, drawing new battle lines.

On Sunday, my pastor reminded me that the mountain top is barren...nothing much grows there. The valley is fertile, moist and poised to lend to significant growth. Each mountain top I've been to in North Africa, Peru and other places has proved this to be true. Yet I prefer my time there, over the rich fertile valleys where growth is abundant.

Growing is painful, dwelling usually is not.

A key for me and others who share this experience, is learning to dwell, during the growth.

The vastness of the deserts I have seen in the last two summers have been significant. Yet, even in them, the lowest points where water sheds and streams form produce the growth that is absent elsewhere.

There are many modern or trite ways to say it. Something like, "time spent in the valley prepares you for your next mountaintop experience." Living our lives proves this to be true in most cases.

What is the difference between those who know exactly what to do when they get to the mountain and those who flounder?

Perhaps its an unfair depiction of Peter, but if you remember his reactions and words on the mount of transfiguration, he made little sense, and was so overwhelmed by the circumstances that though he was dwelling in incomparable light, he was uttering foolishness.

I can't speak for Peter, but I know in my own life that I must take advantage of the growth opportunities that the Lord provides (while in the valley) if I want to have understanding, wisdom and leadership ability when I crest the acme of the next mountain.

Much of what I experience in life is preparation. At times I am so eager to leave my source of nourishment, that I end up stumbling about more like a blind man, than a wise man. Those who know me, know I am often in a hurry and have trouble being still for long. I've certainly been guilty of encouraging others to do likewise. My own children are something of a reaction to this.

My family likes to tease me about "trying to hurry the cars in front of me so that we can keep on schedule," when we have no schedule.

Many times I do the things I do out of selfishness, not out of wisdom or with a real agenda to keep.

When I get to the mountain, and I my vision improves and I can see deeply into the things He is showing me, I have those "Aha!" moments where I wonder why I didn't get it in the valley. It seems so obvious. The clarity is so pure and real up there. The valley tends to be densely foliated, and perhaps it blocks my view...or perhaps, my own stubbornness and lack of joy in the journey clouds my vision where He is leading.

The point is, I need to pay less attention to my geographic position, and more attention to direction of my view. If my eyes are on Jesus, He is leading me...even "through the valley of the shadow of death."

It is by His strength, wisdom and leading that I will maneuver through the difficulties of life and be prepared to bless the lives of others. Stepping out on my own in attempts to accomplish things for God produce no fruit or eternal value. I can't be following Him if I am too busy leading self.

To be adequately prepared for each step in life, I must remain spliced into the "Root of Jesse." Nourishment is more abundant in the valley. Perhaps that is why time on the mountain is always too brief.

Stay connected to the Vine.


Tuesday, August 07, 2007

One day in Trujillo, we arrived at a small marketplace, and prepared to do ministry. As my team got ready, a curious lady came over to me and began to engage in conversation. She wanted to know why we were there. I explained the drama to her, and she began to ask more questions.

I asked one of our translators to come over as I had come to the end of my ability in our brief exchange. Julie, a seminary student, came to my rescue.

The questions the lady asked were deep and pointed. She shared that she was a religion teacher. She relayed that she taught her students to have an open mind with religion. She wanted to know why we taught that Jesus was the only way.

I shared Acts 4:12 with her which says, "Salvation is found in no one else, there is no other name under heaven given to men, by which we must be saved."

She responded with a query about the central truth of the Bible. I showed her John 3:16. This Q&A session would continue for the next 30 to 40 minutes. I was so moved that the Holy Spirit gave me a Scriptural answer for each and every question.

She asked, "How can I know for sure, and how can I show my students so they know?" I walked her through the Roman Road. I told her what each Scripture was and what it implied about the Truth of why Christ came.

At several junctures, I would pause and ask if this was a decision she would like to make. Each time, the troubled far away look in her eyes would deepen. At one point she said, "I have many problems in my life."

Though I seldom shared his story in one on one conversations, I was prompted to tell her briefly about BJ. How he had come to her country to share the Truth, and what had happened after his return.

Tears filled her eyes as she opened up and told me that she had psychological issues as a result of her own son dying in bed with her (I got the impression she may have accidentally smothered him).

I shared with her that Jesus sent the Comforter to minister to us in times like this. I told her how the Holy Spirit had worked in our lives and helped to minister healing through the greatest tragedy we had ever faced. I told her He was there to do the same in her bring her peace and direction if she would invite Him into her life.

She said she was afraid she would lose her job if she accepted Christ. I shared with her the truth about all religions being mans attempt to reach God, but that through sending His one and only Son, His attempt to reach us, was revealed. That if she knew this Truth and accepted Christ, her knowledge of other religions would become very useful, as she could use this Truth as her guide in teaching.

She asked many more questions and we continued on. At different points we were surrounded by many curious onlookers who tried to assert their own questions. This time, however was for her alone. Even Julie, the translator, recognized this as she would redirect others as we forged ahead.

It is hard to explain the unity I felt with this woman in these moments. I understood her questions, I sensed her deep pain, and I knew the Lord was drawing her close.

We wept together as she came to know Jesus as her Lord and Savior.

I encouraged her as she told me that it was an accident that she was even here today. She said she never comes to this area, but felt drawn here. She was visiting family and actually lived far from this place. I told her there were no coincidences in Christ Jesus. That things happened for a reason, and today was her day to come face to face with the Living God.

She smiled broadly and indicated her desire to be involved in a church that taught the truths we had discussed. Tito, our contact (and pastor) was nearby. He came and found out where she lived, and gave her the name and number of a pastor in her area. We also gathered her info for this other pastor.

As I look back on this experience, I am extremely humbled at the provision of my God to have answers for each question she asked. There were times when the initial shock of the depth of her query was unnerving, but the Holy Spirit always brought Scripture and Truth to mind so it could be conveyed to her.

This is truly how loving our God is. When we avail ourselves to His purposes, He blesses us by allowing us to be part of bringing the solution to a lost world.

Praise His Holy Name!


Monday, August 06, 2007

We had an great time together last week. The break was much needed, and the time to reposition thoughts through the lens of time with family, a significant blessing. The four of us spent time in a cabin on a lake. A very large lake.

Our cabin was rustic, and quaint. It's view peered out over the water, and was filled with boats docked in slips too numerous to count. Trees framed the expanse, and clumsily blocked the sightline of many other homes. While the lake was enormous, our corner of it seemed quite small.

This lake had many fingers, and several wide open runs. Our position was tucked neatly away from all of the traffic. We scarcely saw two or three boats per day involved their purpose.

We spent time talking, playing games, sunning by the pool, simmering in a private hot tub, reading and in general, catching up. There was no agenda, no plan we had to rush out to complete, just taking time to look back as we began to look forward.

One day by the pool, Lauren removed the silver necklace she bought in North Africa last year to assure she did not lose it. Previously, she had lost the earrings she bought in South Africa in a similar setting, and did not want a replay.

While overseas, we generally find one or maybe two items that are meaningful to us, that help us remember the journey. That is the often the extent of personal purchases.

On this day, somewhere between leaving the pool, and heading back to our cabin, the keepsake disappeared.

When she realized it, she began a search. She retraced her steps, and looked carefully through each article of clothing. She spoke to the cabins owner, and he joined in the search. Later, we went back to the pool area and again no avail.

We looked in likely places and unlikely places. Down on all fours, she took time to separate nearby blades of grass as she sought the necklace. I went through the pool filter, and looked at each area around it that we had spent time. It was gone.

Surrendering to the misfortune did not come easily. It was frustrating for her, I know. She was trying hard to be careful, and still it disappeared.

That day ended as most did, with a game back in the cabin.

Late the following morning, we headed back to the pool to relax. We resumed our positions from the day before. My three girls were in reclining chairs, and I propped my feet up in the same two deck chairs as I had used the day before.

As I moved one into position to recieve my feet, my attention was drawn to the deck. It was contoured concrete of natural color. There before me, as though it had just been placed so I could see it, was her necklace.

I had looked there yesterday. So had she. So had the cabin owner. None of us saw it. I honestly don't know how we missed it. It was right in our traffic area.

Realizing from previous experience how important lighting is in these situations, we had tried to view each area from many angles to catch the suns glint off of the shiny silver. We had failed.

I kind of laughed when I found it, realizing how crucial the direction of light was to the ability to really see.

In John 9:39 Jesus said, "For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see, and those who see will become blind."

Some Pharisee who heard Him responded with sarcasm and question. He responded, "If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains."

Too often we think we know best, can see exactly what is coming, and can best interpret our circumstances. When we behave this way, we exhibit our blindness. Our world is full of people who live this way, so are our churches.

Later in John 12:35-36, Jesus says, "Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. The man who walks in the dark does not know where he is going. Put your trust in the light while you have it, so that you can become sons of light."

We need to be sure that the we are walking with the light and not aimlessly with self-confidence, walking in pride and darkness.

The week before we left for our retreat, Deanna had fasted and prayed over a job interview. She was seeking His guidance for her. Trying hard to be sure she was seeking His light on her path, and not pursuing her own desires.

The day we left to come home, she was offered and has now accepted an elementary music teaching position in a school much closer to our home. We praise God for His provision. We are most thankful for this.

She had to carefully consider this opportunity as it is a part-time position. While that was not what she was looking for, we know it is what He has provided, and are walking into the unknown once again. His light is shining on the path before us, and we will continue to seek Him.

His Name be praised!

brent (dad)

Karen, we are praying for His provision in your life as well. I know He has plans for you. "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you." (Jer 29:11) Seek Him in the light as we lift you up.