Thursday, July 16, 2015

Living in a world gone mad

In whatever you do, do it to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31

Let’s begin by praising God this morning that He is sovereign and in control of everything that happens. In today’s culture of fear mongering, we often lose sight of His sovereignty and don’t know how to live in a way that glorifies Him.  Between the homosexual agenda, rampant Islamophobia and the vilification of Christians, it’s easy to get confused about the “right” thing to do. Threats to our religious freedom and accusations about our faith and motives have a paralyzing effect. How do we stand in such times without offending and how do we love in a culture that has redefined love to mean permission and advocacy?

When I moved to Romania, I learned that many nations have battled with these questions before us.  In 1995 my theoretical questions of being a Christian in an openly hostile environment took on flesh and blood as I befriended people who had lived through years of repression and persecution because of their faith. Surprisingly there were two distinct groups of survivors. One group had openly opposed the government and the religious suppression—blatantly breaking laws and challenging restrictions. The other stayed under the radar and worked within safe boundaries—not abandoning faith but not making themselves targets.

Unfortunately, these two groups had not worked in tandem and tended to point the finger and accuse the other of recklessness or compromise, respectively. Who was right? I didn’t have the answer and I still don’t, but I’ve learned a few things along the way.  I hope sharing them will encourage you a bit this week to focus on the right things and to live boldly and free of fear for God’s glory.

1.     Remember this is not a battle for America, nor is it a battle over Israel, defeating Islam or wiping out homosexuality—it’s a battle for God’s glory as revealed in Jesus. Cultures will come and go. Acts 17:26 says that God made the nations, determined their appointed times and their boundaries. And he did it all so that man would seek God. America’s future is already written. We are witnesses to God’s determined plan and we can trust Him so…

2.     Don’t live in fear. Watching too much news can scare the bee-jeebers out of you and get your focus off of God’s sovereignty. The Bible clearly says where things are headed and they will get worse before the get better. Don’t fret over it, but prepare your heart and focus on what’s important. We KNOW the future, both good and bad, so we can relax and watch God work for His glory and our good.

3.     Seek intimacy with Him over comfort and material security . Often times, the reason our anxiety level rises is because we are scared of losing things that are precious to us. But all we have is a gift from God and we musn’t hold on to them so tightly that we forget to hold on to Him. He never changes, he is eternal, and he will never be defeated so when we put our affections completely on Him, we can be truly secure.  We are not living for the American dream, but for the Kingdom of God.

4.     Don’t hope in a political solution. This is not going to end well on earth. Will it be unpleasant for us? Probably. But God is good and sufficient and won’t abandon His people. Jesus came to bring personal salvation from sin, not political salvation through policy or privilege. Don’t hope in a new President or despair because of our present one. God is sovereign.

5.     Seek opportunity to share Christ before seeking opportunity to make a statement. What we believe is meaningless if we aren’t offering hope to a broken world. So don’t just fight for the right to publically confess Christ, publically confess Christ!

6.     Be bold about the WHOLE Gospel. Don’t be afraid to share the Gospel in its entirety, because that’s the only Gospel that matters. Sharing God’s love isn’t enough, nor is sharing God’s hatred of sin. The message of the Gospel is powerful and changes lives, but it must be about Jesus, it must call out sin, it must demand repentance and faith, it must be about dying to self and living for Christ, it must credit our salvation to Jesus’ blood and righteousness and not our works. Jesus is THE ONLY way. Yes! This will offend people and Yes! It’s intolerant, but watered down, its nothing more than an inspiring story and has no power. 

Does all this mean you should not bake a wedding cake for a homosexual couple? I have no idea. Should we have the right to refuse? Yes, I think so. But as a believer, our rights as an American citizen are not really the point. Glorifying God in this world is. Do you bake the cake and share the Gospel? Maybe. Do you deny the request and share the Gospel? Maybe. Do you listen to the Holy Spirit at work in you and follow His lead? Absolutely.

I challenge you this week to spend as much time reading God’s word, praying over it, and listening to the Holy Spirit as you do watching news programs and reading articles on social media. Saturate your mind with God’s perspective or you will be drawn into despair and confusion in a world gone mad.

Help me Lord to trust you in these crazy times and to not fret as it leads to evil doing. (Psalm 37:8). Help me to glorify God in all that I do (1 Cor 10:31). Thank you that you established the times and boundaries of all the nations for the purpose of helping people seek after you (Acts 17:26).  Help us to go boldly and make make disciples, confident that you are with us until the end of the age (Matthew 28:20).

Praying for you,


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Christmas, Kids Coming and Going, A New Year Begins

Waaaaayyyyy past due for an update. I have no excuse. So let's move on.

David and Lauren were here for a month over Christmas and I soaked up every minute I had with them. It wasn't enough but I'm grateful they are both doing well and following God as they head back for another semester. Our home is more quiet now, much more orderly, and ever busy and full of people, but their presence is missed daily if not hourly. I am so thankful, however, that God has filled my heart with peace in their departure. I am looking forward to seeing what He has in store for them in the year to come.

Slowly but surely we are crawling into 2012. January always seems to go by in slow motion after the hustle and bustle of Christmas and New Years. We started the birthdays off with a bang as David--our baby David--turned 21. We watched home movies and watched him grow up again. He's come a long way since crawling up on my hospital bed when Jessica was born and asking, "does she have eyes?" I mean, he still has his moments, but for the most part he's witty, intelligent and handsome. :)

I'm next in the birthday line-up. And that's all I have to say about that.

Our lives are full right now with all that God has brought into our lives. Andrew is playing basketball and loving it. He's also playing the djembe for chapel at school. Jess is helping to lead worship at chapel and her youth group through singing, piano and guitar. She is also very busy practicing for the school's drama production "Bye Bye Birdie."

Preston is loving his job as Theological Education Consultant for Europe. He has visited some great schools throughout the continent over the past semester. He is advising, helping to place faculty and teaching. He is also working on writing some curriculum. I continue to write for our European Media team and have done some other free lance writing for bible studies and devotionals.

Locally, our English class is still meeting every Tuesday. We have just begun to plan our camp for this summer. The best news is that we started doing a Bible discussion every other Tuesday and although most don't come, a few do and they are definitely searching. I'm excited to see that God is continuing to draw these people. Please pray for us as we work with this group. They have become good friends. We are expecting a group of about 60 for camp this summer. Pray for God to prepare their hearts.

I have resumed teaching the high school girls from our International Youth Group. They are a great group of ladies. I have 7 Americans, I Ukrainian, 2 Czechs, and 1 Serbian. Please pray for them as they navigate the difficult waters of being TCK's, being believers in a very secular place, being teenagers!

I will try to update you more regularly this year. Thank you so much for your prayers and support.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Heaven is for real

I just finished reading the book Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo. Fascinating story. And what I love about it is that this kid is confirming so many things we already know to be true--biblical truths that we believe by faith, but he saw with his eyes. And he's staying true to the facts. Jesus is the only way. God is three in one. Our loved ones are waiting for us. Jesus has wounds on his hands and feet. I don't know how to explain what happened to this little guy, but do I think its possible he went and sat on Jesus' lap? Absolutely. And reading the book has reminded me of all I have to look forward to when I get my turn on Jesus' lap. I can't wait to see my dad and my grandmom and even a baby brother or sister I never met. Heaven is a real place for real people.

That reminder also encourages me in our work as missionaries. Our mission to tell others about Christ isn't just a battle of opinions. I'm not just playing my role in "he said, she said" about world religions, defending my heritage and my church. I'm offering a choice between life and death--one that is real and lasting. I found the contrast interesting that in this little boys experience in heaven, he didn't see everyone from his family and Jesus didn't tell him that all are welcome. This is in contrast to Rob Bell's new book Love Wins, which wrongly teaches that everybody is going to heaven, regardless of their relationship with Christ, our Savior. As we continue to share Christ with Czechs, our prayer is that many will be saved. The reminder of the reality of heaven has made our mission all the more urgent.

Please pray for our English students. We are planning a family camp for this summer and expect about 40 people. Preston and I have never planned one of these ourselves so please pray as we recruit volunteers, put together a program and work out the details. This group continues to meet weekly where we often throw out spiritual topics to discuss. There is really very little interest on their part. Please pray for them to be hungry spiritually. During our camp, I want to share the message of Christ clearly and we are praying that they will be ready to respond at that time. In fact, God has led me to pray for each one of our regular students by name every day. If you feel led, please join me in this. Their names are: Jan, Ladya, Eva, Ivana, Renata, Martin, Petr, Dasa, Dominika, Robert, Lenka, Ladya (another one), Ana. I would covet your intercession on their behalf.

Also continue to pray for Lubos as Preston disciples him. He is seeing an amazing ministry begin through teaching boxing. It has been his dream to do that full time, professionally and is now working on gathering start up money for a gym. Please pray for him as he trusts God to provide for his needs and his future. Pray, too, for his testimony as he shares Christ with these men.

Preston is making great progress in contacting and assessing needs of seminaries in Europe. He has been teaching at a couple of those schools and helping put together some modular programs. Please continue to pray for the seminary in Serbia, Czech, Germany and Ukraine.

I have taken on some new writing responsibilities and ask for your prayers as I balance my time between that, family and local ministry. The youth ministry we are involved in , Youth Praha, is going very well. God is at work among these kids and its a blessing to see.

Thank you for your faithfulness in praying for us. We love you.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Sharing with friends

Kristyna is a 16-year old girl that has been coming to English club for several years. She is a new Christian. I was chatting with her on Facebook the other night and this is what she said.

"Something very strange but very encouraging happened yesterday. I was chatting with my best friend, who had started to believe in God at camp, and then I felt something inside and I knew that God wants me to tell my friends about Him. So this week I have told a lot of my friends about God and Jesus. I have never told them before. It is exciting. I am very glad he is showing me His love and mercy."

Isn't that precious?! It is so exciting that God is speaking not only to her but through her. She came over today and we talked and prayed for her friends. Since sharing her faith, she has found two of her classmates who also believe in God and are trying to follow Him. She was very encouraged!

We had our first English class last night and had 6 people come. We used Matthew 1 as our text and talked about many things from there, i.e. genealogy, dreams. There were no real spiritual questions or discussions. Please pray for this group.

Bridge Community, our church planting effort, is going pretty well. We had several visitors last Sunday! Please pray for more to come and for those who come to really hear. Pray especially for a young man named Tonda.

My Jr. high girls bible study is great. Precious girls! I met with my student helper today and our time together was really nice. Please pray for her. Her name is Joana. Pray that she will grow spiritually and continue to seek God in her life.

We are having lots of new people at Youth Praha, including some Czech kids from camp this summer. Kristyna is also going to come this week. Please pray for her and a boy named Andrew, who has also visited (his parents are in our English class).

Thank you so much for your prayers. I will keep you posted.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Did you Feel that?

Steve and Lubos baptize Lubos' mother, Sonya

Zdenka came to Bridge Community for the first time last night. She is a friend of Sonya. After the service Zdenka turned to Sonya and asked, "did you feel that?" Sonya asked her what she was talking about and Zdenka said that it was like the preacher was talking only to her. "That's God drawing you to Himself," Sonya said.

Sonya is a new believer. She came to Christ last year through the testimony of her son, Lubos. She's been telling Zdenka about her new relationship with Christ and gave her a bible, which Zdenka is faithfully reading. Please pray for her as God draws her. Pray for her to respond and not push away. Pray for Sonya's consistent testimony.

Lubos is a fairly new believer as well. Preston is discipling him. He is faithful to come several times a week to our home where he and Pres talk about scripture and work on memory verses. Pray for him as he continues to grow in his faith.

Bridge Community is the church plant we are working with. It is headed up by the leaders of the Prague team, Steve and April Brown. Lauren and I are leading music on Sunday nights and Preston is preaching every other week. We have a young Czech couple who is working with this effort as well, Martin and Tereza. Please pray for them as Martin is beginning to preach some and they are key to helping us reach the Czechs in Prague. Pray for them to be continually drawn to God. They have such sweet spirits, are newlyweds, are seeking to follow God. Martin is a seminary student.

Thank you for your prayers. I will keep you updated.

Friday, August 27, 2010

God's Working--quick update

Summer is winding down for us--just one more week until school starts! It's been a long one for us since we got out of American schools in May. The kids are ready to see all their friends and teachers again.

The last 6 weeks have been really busy and very blessed. God is working in Czech and we can see a difference in the spiritual atmosphere here. I've been collecting information for articles from all the different teams in Czech about their camps this summer and I'm amazed at how many people are coming to Christ. Our Ms all over the country are excited and encouraged. If you would like to read more about God's work in Europe, click here.

You have prayed in the past for a friend named Dereje. He is very close to baptism and is seeking our our fellowship since we've returned. He is married to an unbeliever and it is hard at home right now because of his faith. Please pray for him and for our time with his family.

You prayed in the past for a young girl named Kristyna. She became a believer recently. She is noticing how her friends are not interested in God. Please pray for her continued growth, as well as for her sister Kayja.

At our family camp this year, we continued to build relationships with 5 families. Lauren was able to share quite a bit with a teenager named Ondrej (Andrew). He is interested in coming to Youth Praha (an international youth group) this year. Pray for him to follow through. I also will continue to meet with Dasa once a week. She has not yet made a decision for Christ. Please pray for God to draw her. We're excited about taking over the English class with these families. As we plan and prepare for the year, pray for us to know how much spiritual content to put into our lessons and that our conversations on Mondays will be redemptive.

We had some friends over this past week and they brought a man they met in the park with them. He was from Texas. We shared Christ with him and he is spiritually open. Please pray for David. He invited Preston to come play basketball with a group of men every week. Its a great opportunity! We've invited him to Bridge, the church plant we are working with. Pray that he will respond.

Youth Praha will start soon and I will be discipling a young girl named Joanna as well as leading the Jr. High girls. Joanna is thinking about helping me lead but is hesitant to take on the responsibility. Please pray for her to listen to God's voice and be obedient.

In addition to God working in Czech, we've seen him doing some great things in other places as well. Preston and I have been to a meeting in Germany, planning some training events for our missionaries and we've been to Serbia and Romania talking to theological institutions about how we can help them reach their own people. Both trips were wonderful and God opened doors. We're excited to see what he's going to do. Preston will return to Serbia in October to teach Hermeneutics to the first 2o students at the seminary. He also has bible schools to visit in Ukraine, Spain and Germany.

That's a quick update of what we've seen God doing here. We so appreciate your prayers.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

We're Home

We are finally back in Prague. It feels so good to be home. Our year in America was truly blessed. Absolutely no complaints. But now we're back with our stuff, and we can finally relax. We pretty much had to move back into our apartment because most of our stuff had been put in storage in our attic. We had a busy week getting our home set up and getting phones and public transportation passes. We have been blessed by many friends helping us out and cooking for us. Things are getting back to "normal" now and it really feels like we never left.

Our time in the States was full. Some highlights were:

*Preston loved teaching at Louisiana College all year. Being back in the classroom was great and he was able to impact many young minds.

*The kids all did remarkably well--God blessed them all with friends, good grades and a sense of His presence next to them as they experienced new things and turned to Him when things got tough.

*Great time with family--We were about 2 hours from Preston's mom during the school year and got to spend 2 months with my family as well as some holidays. We celebrated Preston's mom's 85th birthday before leaving and still managed to leave everyone in good health.

*David had a good first year of college and was able to get a job over the summer. He's living with Preston's sister and her husband in Kingwood, Texas. The job pays very well, and he's been able to save up some money for a trip home to Prague for Lauren's graduation. He will head back to school in Virginia in about a month.

*We were able to re-connect with several friends we haven't seen in years. It was such a blessing to us to catch up and see how God has been working in their lives. Thank you to those of you who made the effort to come and see us or welcome us into your home.

Now that we're back, we're eager to see what God has for this phase of our life and work. Preston is beginning his new position as Theological Education Consultant for Europe. Please pray for him as he evaluates current teaching institutions and programs as well as places that need new work, and determines how we can partner and help in each of those.

I will continue to write for teams working in Europe and will help get their stories out to supporting churches via internet and special projects.

Lauren will begin her Senior year in September. We will be applying and preparing for college. She will join David at Liberty next fall. Jessica will be a Freshman in high school and Andrew will begin 6th grade. They are all really excited about returning to CISP. (Christian International School of Prague).

We are leaving for English Camp on Saturday. This is a family camp. There will be a total of 40 people including Czechs and volunteers. None of the Czech families know the Lord. We will have conversation classes every morning, group activities in the afternoon and a time of singing/bible study in the evening. Please pray for God to work in the hearts of these folks. They have been part of a weekly English club for a few years and have been exposed many times to the truths of scripture. (Preston and I plan to take over this club in the fall so pray for good friendships to develop.) Lauren will be leading music and teaching pre-schoolers. Jessica and Andrew will be helping in their "classes" as the native English speakers. Preston and I will both be leading small groups.

We have also begun working with a new group here in Prague called Bridge Community, an evangelism church planting effort begun by our Prague team. God has just provided a perfect location for us to meet and has given the team here a great vision for reaching people with the Gospel in a way that is culturally relevant. Please pray for the team and for us as we find ways to intentionally form relationships with Czechs and introduce them to the claims of Christ.

In August Preston and I are taking a trip to Serbia to see what is happening there at a local seminary. The same week Lauren, jessi and andrew are going to an MK (Missionary Kid) camp. Please pray for the camp leaders to challenge and encourage the kids in their walks with the Lord and for Lauren and other seniors who will be serving as counselors.

Thank you for your prayers.