Thursday, October 29, 2009

a national treasure in Santiago de Chuco, Peru

In a month, Deanna has a landmark birthday. To be sure she does not forget that she is entering the autumn of her life, a national organization sent her a membership card. One she did not request.

With this card, she can get discounts at hotels, and on meals at restaurants, etc. She reminded me we would soon be taking our evening meal at 4:30 in the afternoon. Apparently, when this card arrives in the mail, it becomes obligatory.

The only problem with this is that I don't get off until 5:00. Perhaps I could begin my day a half hour earlier to accommodate this life change. I'm certain I'll be ready to eat then. We currently don't wait much past that. Just ask my children.

Not that long ago, I wrote of becoming a member of another fraternity. We did not seek to join this one either. Perhaps this first one coming along when it did, has positioned us for a smoother transition beyond the life season of summer.

In many respects, it often feels like winter, though it seems yesterday, we were walking among new floral representations of life.

That metaphor actually doesn't work well for me. I like winter. I miss the snow. The last two winters it has snowed while I have been sporting short sleeves on the other side of an ocean somewhere. It was all gone upon my return. I leave in December, so perhaps it is coming again.

Deanna was not happy to see her new membership card. They expected her to pay a fee.

Come to think of it, we had to pay a fee last time... at least this time we can decline. You know, postpone the inevitable. She tore it up and threw it away. I tried to find it so I could talk in more detail about it. We don't own a shredder, at least I didn't think we did. That card is unrecognizable! So is all of the accompanying paperwork. If she bores of teaching, she has another marketable skill.

She promises mine will be along soon. I'm quite sure that won't happen for at least another year or two. Yes, our birthdays are only two days apart, but I am convinced that staff at my work (where her card showed up?) will intercept this little inflammatory credential and discard it (at least I have given them instructions to). Besides, I'm leaving the country on my birthday, and being a recent development, surely this national "association" will not know how to find me.

This organization goes by an acronym. Don't ask my wife what it is. She adds unnecessary letters when speaking of it. Actually, I like her version better. IT makes me laugh.

I don't feel old... most of the time.

My eyes don't work right, neither does my metabolism. I am reminded of the verse in James 1 that talks about seeing yourself in the mirror and then forgetting what you look like when you walk away. Actually, that could be a virtue when you get to this stage. I like remembering what I looked like when I was... younger. I do it all of the time. It's how I see myself.

I apologize that the rest of you have to look at the current version of me. The one in my head is far more attractive!

Anyway, the organization that I AM a part of didn't cost me anything to join. However, it was terribly expensive. In that fraternity, I don't have to worry about the inconveniences mentioned above! I get to deny myself, daily. I get to serve the One I love, and oh how He loves me, so!

I don't need a membership card, the handbook is supernatural.

Even the mirror is pointless. All members who look into it see the same thing...

Christ alone!


Monday, October 26, 2009

Rooftop Worship in Huamachuco!

Some of the most beautiful and powerful times of worship I have experienced, have been on the rooftops of places we've stayed (overseas). We could see for miles. We saw the vastness of the lost. We could count His creation. We did not let the rocks cry out before us... but heard them echo His glory! How I long for Him.

I find that I am most fulfilled when I am doing what He has created me to do. Areas of giftedness that I never knew when I was young, have come to be a part of His purpose for me. My greatest joy comes in times of obedience. My greatest frustration emerges, when I am following my own desires.

The sense of His pleasure in me comes when resting in Him. The sense of my pleasure in Him comes from the intimacy born out of denying self, and seeking His face.

Knowing all of this, why do I struggle perpetually, with submission?

I am routinely reminded that He does not need me.

I am, however, thankful that He longs for me and my obedience.

Part of what He has created me to do is to raise awareness of these things in others. I thrive when I am before those He has called me to. Though I suffer, I thrive.

I would rather suffer following Christ, than suffer after engaging in the pleasures at my own hand.

So many have never known His pleasure in them. So many are desperate to be loved. So many are desperate to love, but don't realize it. So much of who we are is hidden behind yet another decision to fill up our lives with promised instant pleasure... pleasure that once again, fails to deliver.

It fails because we seek our own hand, and not His.

Things I never expected to do in life, have become part of my purpose. Not because I wished it so, but because He seeks to direct my submitted life.

Yielding to Him, brings Him glory. Following Him, brings Him glory. Reaching out for Him, brings Him glory. Speaking for Him, brings Him glory. Suffering for Him brings Him glory.

Doing all of the same things for my own pleasure, multiplies frustration and prolongs a sense of failure. I don't like failure. I am weary of frustration. If the "joy of the Lord is my strength," then I must seek His will and not my own. I cannot expect to find "joy" in my selfishness. Rather, "joy" must be found in selfLESSness.

Jesus bids us to 'die, take up our cross and follow Him'... not 'live, crucify others to supplement pleasure and lead.'

Dying is hard because we have to yield.

Living is hard because we try to carry the burden ourselves.

Dying is a lighter load, because He's doing the heavy lifting.

In living, you will die.

In dying, you already live!

I need to go and shout it again, from the rooftops!

"You died, and your life is hidden with Christ, in God." Col 3:3

He's drawing me... it's time to elevate!


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Kuna children

This blog will be hard for some to read. I caution you to proceed at your own risk.

The remains of another child, found in a Georgia landfill, have been identified. She is the precious seven year old who went missing off of the streets of Florida, while walking home from school.

Our world is spiraling out of control. When we take children and use them as our means of sexual gratification, and then throw them away, we have reached the lowest of lows.

This story rises to the surface amid the clamor of the child sex trade being alive and well in the USA. For a long time, we heard it was prevalent in many Asian countries and we've seen similar stories play out on television cop shows as though this trade was active here.

It's not that I doubt it, it's that I wanted to believe it was not so. I wanted to believe that we were not that sick. I wanted to believe... but I can't any longer. It's here. They are being abused and they are dying. What are we gonna do about it?

Some have started missions for those rescued from this slavery, and tend to their needs. Others go and serve in these same places. This is good. It is a blessing for those rescued, but it is not enough.

When I was young, I was traveling with my family. We had stopped at a restaurant to eat. We were either traveling with friends, or had met them there at this diner. Conversation was in full swing, and I was focused on eating. I sought to clean my plate while my parents talked to our friends.

Nearing the end of the meal, I asked to be excused to go to the restroom. I believe I was probably around the age of 6. I was little for my age.

As I stood at a urinal in the restroom, the door opened. I glanced over my shoulder to see one of the restaurant workers enter. I could tell by his clothing and the pointy hat he wore. He was likely the cook or dishwasher, I wasn't sure which. He was probably in his late teens to twenties. I am afraid I was not a good judge of age at that time. However, I have not forgotten his look.

Just as I finished my business and moved to zip up and then wash my hands, I will never forget what happened next.

In my motion to move, he stepped forward. He was tall and lean. I was short and... defenseless. He reached down and grabbed me. What he did to me, he had no right to do. The entire encounter probably only lasted a few seconds, but it seemed like eternity.

Today, when I think back, I am surprised that he let me leave. I hurried out and back to my waiting family. I was sick at my stomach.

I did not understand what had just happened but I knew it was wrong. This was before the days of teaching children about "good touch, bad touch."

I did not know what to do or say. I sat in a daze. I tried not to think about it, but I couldn't help it. At some point, my parents realized something was wrong. They were very kind and loving. I wasn't sure if I should tell them. I wasn't sure if I could tell them. I didn't want to get into trouble.

My father persisted until I told my story. Then he disappeared.

I don't know what he did about it. He was gone for a while, talking to the manager I assume.

We left.

I remember staring out the window not knowing what to think. What had just happened to me was not a common occurrence in that day. At least it did not routinely get publicity.

Years later, when I was in junior high, I had a math teacher who was "very friendly." I was small for my age. I was naive. During class, he would come to answer questions at my desk. While answering them, he would put his hand on my leg and begin to rub it. He proceeded up my leg. He went too far.

Other students joked about him being a pervert. He had done this to others as well.

Years later when I was in high school, I had an early morning paper route. He began to show up on my route and hunt for me. We call it stalking, today.

One morning when I had had all I could take, I ran up to his little green Pinto, and screamed at him at the top of my lungs. I told him to leave me alone. I never saw him on my route after that.

While I was in college, I was foreman on a landscape crew during the summer. My team and I were landscaping a yard, when I noticed this same man come out of the house next door and begin to watch me. He lived there. It was a big job and I was going to have to be here for several days.

I was suddenly six again and I acted like it. I was sick at my stomach. I wanted to go an throw up. I wanted to go and "punish him."

I was very fortunate. I survived.

I have moved past most of this... except for the sickness I feel every time I hear of another child being kidnapped, abused and killed.

We serve a God who loves us desperately. He has given us wisdom. We often use in it perverse fashion. We have taken the technology for the internet and put horrendous pictures and video on it. It compels many who are perverse of mind, forward. It is so easy to get our hands on that which we should not access in the first place.

Many start out innocently enough, and soon through pop-up screens, etc, are taken into a world that they cannot or will not get out of.

We must do more. I survived. Many are not. Many are dying while we shake our heads and say, I'm sure glad that wasn't my child.

We have the mind of Christ! Let us begin to use it for His glory and the deliverance of the defenseless.


Monday, October 19, 2009

A Kuna Indian woman in her village in Panama

Here is my updated schedule:
October 23 Ok Baptist Academy, Enid Ok
November 6-8 iGo Missions Conference, Ridgeway BC, Sapulpa, Ok
November 29th Ridgeway BC, Sapulpa, Ok
December 1-9 Set-up trip to Venezuela
February 3 Wed night service (unconfirmed)
February 3-5 Spiritual Emphasis Week, Indian Rocks Christian School, Tampa, Fla
February 5-7 Disciple Now, FBC Marion, Arkansas
February 16-18 Chapel/Missions training for Dallas Christian College, Dallas, Tx
February Missions Sunday in Pflugerville, Tx (date unconfirmed)
March 13-20 Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, Mission trip

This past weekend I was afforded the privilege of preaching three times in two different churches. First at a student retreat and then for a Sunday morning service. What a blessing it is to be able to proclaim the love of our Savior, and to disciple those who love Him!

This coming Friday, I am traveling to Enid, Oklahoma (I've never been there) to speak to high school students. I am excited about going!

I am at times, overwhelmed, at how fast and furious the enemy attacks the weaknesses of believers. I see believers who have battled through much in this life, fall prey to bitterness of heart, sexual immorality and much more.

I must intensify my prayer assault on behalf of each of these.

Have you noticed that the words, "I understand" can get you into trouble?

I think I first realized this, when sympathetic people were offering their condolences to our family, and we heard the phrase often. It is meant to imply, "I am so sorry for your situation," for "your loss," or "I empathize with your circumstances."

Unfortunately, to those in grief, these two words somehow diminish or cheapen the pain of their experience. Especially, when those who speak the words, also offer up a situation that does not begin to compare, as evidence.

Pain is relative. There is no way to compare it except in ones own experience.

For example, I have experienced the loss of my grandparents, aunts, uncles, very dear friends, my father and finally my son. In my own experience, the loss of my grandparents, pales dramatically, in comparison to the loss of my father. There is no way these two experiences are congruent.

Frequently, those who struggle with what to say, and those who are sure they know what to say, offer the same phrase... "I understand."

In truth, they do not. Not even close.

I never knew this was an issue until I heard it over and over again from those who meant well, but have never walked in my shoes.

Their intent is always the best.

Their words often inflamed my ire.

I share this today, because recently, we have seen others suffer similarly. (I truly do not mean to step on the toes of those who have supported us. I just think it is important to NOT tell people you understand something you cannot possibly comprehend.)

Not long ago, we found ourselves on the ugly end of this. What I mean by that, is someone dear to us was expressing the immense difficulty of their own experience in coping with a situation we have never been through.

Innocently, but with empathetic intent, we offered up, "I understand."


How quickly came back the haunting borders of bitterness we camped on when while grieving!

We should have known better. We should have said, "I am so sorry" or "I cannot begin to imagine," or "I sympathize."

The words, "I understand" should not be spoken unless you have walked the same path. We were guilty of comparing griefs. Griefs do not compare... they are relative to the individuals suffering them.

All of this to say that the enemy finds weaknesses in us during times of struggle, suffering, or grief. We must work hard to be available for those God puts in our path, but must be careful of word choice.

Individually, we must also guard against bitterness. It is a playground for the enemy, and comes with all shades of rage and emotion. It may be dumped on unsuspecting well-wishers, without warning.

We do not wish it that way, it tends to be the result of lack of opportunity to clarify ones feelings as needed.

Deanna and I never erupted (that I can remember) on others as we were afforded opportunities to discuss these kinds of things.

Sometimes, people just need to talk without us offering our two cents. They don't want advice. They aren't seeking input. They just need a listening ear.

I think we can all do that. In so doing, we should arm ourselves with the words, "I am so sorry," or "I cannot imagine," over "I understand."

Though the intent is good, the reality often is, we don't.

Have a blessed week!


Thursday, October 15, 2009

A photo of our first meeting with Afshin and Meredith

Some may remember that when BJ was eight, Afshin came to Indiana to speak at our youth ski retreat. He spoke of growing up Muslim and being of Iranian descent. He spent around four years of his early life, living in Iran. During a dark period of Iran's history, his family escaped back to the USA.

During this period, hatred for the people of Iran grew among those in the US. As a result, his early school years were difficult. Few people cared about him, and he was often ostracized for being from that place.

A woman who was teaching him to speak English, also happened to be a believer. At some point in their working together, she gave him a Bible. She was the only person in his world who was kind to him, outside of his family. He knew this book would be trouble, so he hid it deep in his closet.

Years passed.

When he was in high school, he dug it out. He had questions about this Jesus, so he began to read.

As a result of this Bible and those the Lord strategically placed in his life during this period, Afshin came to Christ. For some time, he kept it hidden from his family.

An uncomfortable place grew within him. He knew he had to tell his family. When he finally did, his father disowned him.

He clung to the passage from Matthew 10: "I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother... a man's enemies will be the members of his own household... anyone who does not take his cross and follow me, is not worthy of me."

Years later, as an aspiring preacher, he was on staff as an intern at one of the largest churches in Dallas, Texas.

He was interviewed for that position, by the man who would one day, later in life, become his father-in-law.

His very first speaking engagement outside of his own church, was at our ski retreat.

When he shared his testimony, the Lord got a hold of my son's attention. He came home expressing his understanding of the gospel for the first time, and proclaiming that he had become a believer!

Around twelve years later, the Lord would stir my heart and urge me to get in touch with Afshin. I had thought about it in prior years, but had not considered it much beyond the moment.

This time, I felt I would be in disobedience to my Savior, if I did not.

I quickly found a way to contact him, and fired off a message. To my complete surprise, he almost immediately responded.

The humility and love in his response, reduced me to tears (shocking, I know).

I quickly shared it with Deanna and we wept together.

It seems his wife had purchased our book and come home to share the passage with him about the Lord's impact on BJ, through Afshin's obedience. They knelt on the floor together and gave thanks.

Afshin had been in a place of question and frustration, as he pondered whether or not his ministry was actually having an impact for God's glory. As an itinerant preacher, he was never around to see life changes take place in the lives of those the Lord had saved through his preaching.

A few months later, our first meeting occurred. I wrote of this previously (June 11, 2009). The above photo was taken that evening.

Fast forward to this past June. We were in Dallas to train our summer mission teams. We once again were in touch with Afshin and Meredith, and set a time to have dinner. It was Father's Day weekend. They arrived to pick us up, and we headed out.

We spoke of having Mexican food, and proceeded to find a specific restaurant.

We were en route, when Afshin suddenly spoke of another place. As he was telling us about this restaurant, his demeanor filled with surprise. I couldn't imagine what he was going to say.

He began to tell us about this other eatery, and as the name of the restaurant was about to leave his lips, he realized a providence of the Lord.

The name of this restaurant was... "BJ's!"

He exclaimed, "I don't know why I didn't think of this before!"

We went in and had an amazing meal and evening with our new friends. As we prepared to leave, our server informed us that as a Father's Day gift, each man got to take his dinner glass (with "BJ's" emblazoned on it) with him.

We were so blessed. What an incredible evening. What an incredible mercy of God!

Deanna and I were about to leave the country for the summer, so Afshin and Meredith kept our glass for us until our return.

We would later collect that glass and more time with these precious people... our good friends, Meredith and Afshin!!!

We praise God for them! He is doing amazing work in and through their lives and ministry. We are blessed to call them friends.

Afshin is coming to speak (3x) at our upcoming missions conference. We are looking forward to having more time with him!

Praise God!!!


Monday, October 12, 2009

One of Whitney's pups (Sig)

I am so thankful for the opportunities I had last week in working as a Chaplain. So many needs came to light, that by Friday, I was overwhelmed at the depth of their brokenness.

The Lord provided multiple opportunities to share His Gospel. I could see the hunger in many of them, and yet the common desire in our culture to "make it on my own," seemed to prevail. Many were running away from something, and this was the reason they became a "Carnie" (one who travels the State Fair circuit and works the rides or games commonly seen at each of them).

Carnies who "talk" for a living, were suddenly exposed. It was clear they were used to being able to 'outgun' others with their words. Some put on a "Christian-eze" air when we talked, but most became quickly transparent.

They are not used to having others seek their best interest. In fact, they live in a world where no one cares about their needs. Each quickly submits that the "bosses" only care about getting their own money. Many spoke of money owed to them, that they had yet to see and feared they never would.

They travel with few possessions, and are not equipped to deal with cold weather or heavy rains. Last week in Tulsa, they got both. Suddenly, many of them had needs exposed they didn't expect to encounter.

When we work the Fair as Chaplains, we have one remain back in the Chaplain's trailer, where Carnies can come for certain supplies (blankets, toiletries, rain ponchos, Bibles, gloves, prayer, etc). Then usually four to six of us spread throughout the fairgrounds, to interact, attempting to meet spiritual needs.

It is uncommon to have much traffic at the trailer. Well, at the beginning of the Fair, we will often see many come for blankets and other needed supplies not generally handed out at other fairgrounds. This is often the end of traffic at the trailer.

Because of the wet and cold weather, their sales were way down, their frustrations way up, and their needs abundant. From 10:30 am to 4:30 pm on Friday, we had over 150
carnies show up at our trailer to have needs met!

Praise God we were able to help supply those needs! We got to pray with many!

On this day, the lesson was clear.

Though the Word tells us not to show favortism within our church bodies, we are talking about a segment of society that could easily be ignored in many churches across our land. They don't dress right. They don't bathe often. Many other needs can be identified just by looking at them.

For this reason, too often, they exist without knowing the love of a Savior, or of Christian brothers and sisters, willing to look beyond the external.

Interestingly, they are not very different from you and me. They have many of the same wants, needs and desires that we have.

To them, Christianity isn't real. If it were, someone would have reached out a long time ago. If Truth were out there and making a legitimate difference in peoples lives, the evidence would surround them. It doesn't.

It must be easy to call out to indifferent, passing people. Jeering at them. Making fun. Trying to incite them into playing a game.

They learn to prey upon our vanity. It works. Too often, it works.

I know my vanity often lies closer to the surface than my faith. They know it, too. They make a living off of it.

If my faith were real, they should know love in a way they have yet to experience.

Vanity is real. It's worn by most of us. It's tangible. It's identifiable.

Reaching out? That virtue must belong to someone else...


Thursday, October 08, 2009

The woman who supplied our bread each morning, in Santiago de Chuco, Peru

Working with the "carnies" at the State Fair each year is always an interesting experience. You can tell quickly that no one takes an interest in their lives or wants to hear what is really happening. Some of them seem to be just waiting for someone to come along and ask questions, so they can talk about life's difficulties.

I know I need this in my own life, and it is evident they do as well!

This year the Chaplain trailer is near a portable fishing tank. I have never seen one like it. The tank sits up at eye view for children... rather like an aquarium. Their hooks come pre-baited, and they can drop their lure into the water and see who is going after it. They can move the lure to the cluster of fish they desire, and raise and lower it as fish come near.

The children's eyes are very focused as they try to catch the "big one." Anxious parents are encouraged to wait behind a rope (just behind their children). Some do, but some have to engage. It is too difficult to stand back and watch the little ones come so close and miss.

The children have just a few minutes to catch a fish. Some have no skill. Others have clearly "gone fishing" before.

This particular day was frustrating for most of them. The temperature was cool. The owner told me the fish had not been fed in four days and were hungry, but it was ten degrees cooler outside than is optimal for fish to feed.

There were 2,000 fish in this tank. Surely some would be hungry enough to strike. On occasion, one would. In watching and talking to the carnie, time passed quickly. Before I knew it, nearly thirty minutes had gone by. Somehow, it is intoxicating to watch little children try to catch fish... especially when you can see the fish swim near the bait, time after time. It was so interesting to see them seek shade rather than light... even when it was too cool to feed.

In that one period, I didn't see one fish get caught.

It made me wonder about how we "feed" in our churches.

I couldn't help but make the transition. I started hearing hungry people offering up excuses.

"I would have gotten more out of the message if someone hadn't sat in my seat!"

"I could learn if the preacher wouldn't start each of his points with the same letter!"

"I couldn't believe how hot (or cold) it was in there this morning. Who can concentrate when its like that!?"

"I was so hungry that my growling stomach kept me from focusing. I couldn't help but think about the cafeteria we're headed to after the service."

"I could worship better if we'd sing more Hymns!"

I'd get more out of the service if we'd sing more praise choruses!"

"Did you see what the preacher was wearing today?"

"When are we gonna use that pipe organ? My money paid for that..."

I couldn't shut the flow of voices and excuses off. They kept echoing in my hollow noggin.

I couldn't help but wonder what it would take to get us to focus on the worship experience really being about worship and not our own personal comfort(s). Our desires can consume us, and be the only voice we hear.

We are way more like fish than we realize. When the environment is not to our liking (in any way) we won't feed. We seek what need not be found in moments when the food for our souls is right there for the receiving.

When we yield our comforts and expectations to Him, He will show us much. When the deepest longing of our heart is truly Jesus, it will be reflected in the lack of distraction amid a storm of temptation or opportunity.

When we start seeking truth and knowledge in Him and aren't pre-occupied in how we think things should be, our lives will be "full" of His presence!

What a difference we could make in our corner of the world, if we sought Christ over comfort, Truth over tradition, or the Savior over social status.

I'm headed back to work the Fair in a few minutes.

I hope the fish are biting today.


Monday, October 05, 2009

A Quechua mother and child

Here is my upcoming schedule:

October 1 WMU Parkview BC, Tulsa, Ok
October 6, 8, 9 State Fair Chaplain, Tulsa, Ok
October 16-17 DiscipleNow FBC Bristow, Ok
October 18 Belview Baptist Church, Tulsa, Ok
October 23 Ok Baptist Academy, Enid Ok
November 6-8 iGo Missions Conference, Ridgeway BC, Sapulpa, Ok
November 29th Ridgeway BC, Sapulpa, Ok
December 1-9 Set-up trip to Venezuela
February 3 Wed night service (unconfirmed)
February 3-5 Spiritual Emphasis Week, Indian Rocks Christian School, Tampa, Fla
February 5-7 Disciple Now, FBC Marion, Arkansas
February 16-18 Chapel/Missions training for Dallas Christian College, Dallas, Tx
February Missions Sunday in Pflugerville, Tx (date unconfirmed)
March 13-20 Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, Mission trip

We've had the privilege of spending the last few days with our nephew and his wife. They just completed their missions training through the International Mission Board, and are heading off to Language School on October 22nd. Ultimately, they will land in Panama, to work in Urban ministry.

They are anxious to get to work! It has been such an encouragement to spend time listening to what they have learned, and watch their passion overflow.

Often, believers in our country treat and view missionaries as "super-Christians."

Missionaries will tell you, this is a myth. Missionaries are believers walking in the obedience God has called them to. They seek to live everyday the way the Word implores us to. According to Scripture, that makes them... Christians.

Elevation to "super" status comes from a body, largely believing themselves incapable of doing likewise. One excuse after another are submitted as evidence of their own inability. In short, they often believe what the enemy tells them about who they are, rather than what the Word of God teaches.

To be a missionary, one must follow the Lord in obedience, and speak Truth in conversations with those He brings into your path, regardless of where you are.

How incredibly refreshing to hear my nephew articulate that the primary issue emphasized in training, is the need to daily, spend time with Jesus!

I confess, I took for granted the idea that those who surrendered to missions, were already doing so. Most of us believe this.

Regardless of how many actually arrive doing so, it is the primary life-line of every believer, and must be emphasized to all, regardless of where each of us are, individually, in our walk.

Those of us who fail to routinely spend intimate time with the Lord, drift from Him, His call on our lives, and increasingly struggle with worldly issues. Those who remain close, are aware of His subtle movements in life, and are more available to be an extension of His impact on those around us.

The awesome thing is, if we fall into the latter category, He is always seeking to draw us towards Him. We can become intimate again, by submitting our desires to Him, and turning back into His presence. He loves, receives, and forgives! But we do need to talk to Him.

We can't draw closer to those we don't interact with, or invest in. Some of us act like we can. I promise, it doesn't work.

One decision at a time to be obedient to Christ, draws us closer to Him and makes a difference in our own lives and then the lives of others.

A good friend of mines says, "a changed life changes lives." It's true!

Now, on to letting the joy of the Lord, overwhelm the disappointments of life... that reflects Jesus... and that is where He wants me to be!


Thursday, October 01, 2009

God has graciously seen to it that our book has sold somewhere between 20,000 and 25,000 copies worldwide! We are awed and humbled and tremendously thankful!

Happy Birthday, BJ! You would be 20 today. I know you no longer count such trivial things as you are in the presence of the Almighty, and such selfish observances are completely unnecessary.

We however, do remember. We can see the impact your life, your death, your writing, and your love have had on thousands across the world. We are amazed. We are grateful.
We are blessed to have been your parents!

We miss you today, but not with the kind of longing that would bring you back. Rather with a hope for the future reunion that will take place when you first greet us on the other side.

Truly, that will be a day worth noting. A day of celebration like we cannot fathom here. We praise God that you have had this privilege. It urges us on!

This morning, I will be speaking to a Women's Mission group. Sharing stories from the field and seeing God work in others lives is incredible! That you are a part of this journey is overwhelming and again, humbling.

We miss you. We love you. We are thankful that you lived your life with your Sword Unsheathed! For He did not come to bring peace, but a sword. You wielded yours well. You fought the good fight. You have preceded us to that which we will ultimately kneel beside you in honor of our King.

Laying our own swords down. Laying our own lives down... for our God, for our King, for our Savior!

Glory be to his Name for how He has used you.

We celebrate that today, and give thanks to our merciful, loving God.

He reigns! Glory Hallelujah, He reigns!!!