The Answer to Why is Who

November 14th, 2014

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We showed this 24-minute testimony at our last Bright Lights meeting. I believe it was the third or fourth time I have seen it in the past month, and I love it each time–especially the end.

Look up Naghmeh Abedini on Facebook or Twitter for more information on how to pray and support her!

University of Iowa / Halloween Evangelism

October 31st, 2014

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Here is the team who joined us to share the gospel at the University of Iowa a few days ago. Or rather, we joined Brad, who is there consistently on Wednesday afternoons, even when he’s by himself.

I was encouraged to hear of many good conversations. Chuck (who was with us for the first time) had a lengthy conversation with a girl who welled up in tears a few times, seeking true answers.

Another girl told me that she had stopped going to church. She said it was never real to her. But it was clear in her eyes that she was wanting it to be real to her.

Praise the Lord for the way He brings people to us who are hungry to know His answers and His grace.

Here is the questionnaire I was using to start conversations. If any of you will be at public places or events tonight where you can share the gospel, you may want to try using this questionnaire!

1) What is the most destructive force in the universe?

a) nuclear bomb
b) sin
c) disease
d) famine
(Note: if they say “nuclear bomb” you can remind them that sin precedes war.)

2) Is there a cure? What is it?

3) Do you believe in ghosts?

4) Do you believe in God?

5) What do you think happens when someone dies?

6) How does someone get to Heaven?

Sarah did the same thing, but just used questions 3-5 to get conversations started.

I’d also recommend checking out this Halloween tract that our family put together last year. It’s a series of verses.

If you don’t have plans to do anything tonight, I would recommend you take advantage of this night to share the gospel! One idea I have seen work well is to go door to door giving nice quality chocolate and tracts (instead of taking candy) and do the questionnaire above with them if they’re willing. It’s a great time to do door to door evangelism, because people are already expecting visitors. When we give instead of take, it surprises them. See blog post about that here.

Stephen’s Car in Flames

October 30th, 2014

20141030_100939_30528 We received a text from Stephen around midnight last night saying that he was okay, but he hit a deer and his car was in flames. It actually wasn’t his car – he was driving the company car for the Gazette. (He’s a photojournalist for our local newspaper, as many of you know.)

They hit the buck at 70mph. After being disoriented from the airbag deployment and loss of visibility due to the windshield being covered with a fluid, they were able to get to the side of the road.

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Ironically, it was the reporter who took these pictures while Stephen was on the phone with 911.

He and the reporter were able to safely move all of the photo gear out of the car (while the car was in flames).

When Stephen arrived home around 3am we all gathered in the living room to hear the details. I was there physically on the couch, but I barely remember anything that was said.

We are so thankful to the Lord for protecting Stephen and the reporter last night!!!

“The Lord is gracious and merciful” Psalm 111:4

Love is Always Tried

October 28th, 2014

Sarah texted me this quote, and it really enocouraged me!

Spurgeon, Come, My Heart_smaller

“Hold fast what you have until I come. The one who conquers and who keeps My works until the end, to him I will give … the morning star.” Revelation 2:25-28

“We love Him because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19

“You shall remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.” Deuteronomy 8:2

Sheep and Grapes

October 23rd, 2014

20141013_110709_30280 Isn’t this a beautiful place to live?! We visited our friends, the Kirks, after the Missions Fest in Seattle. They raise sheep, grow grapes (among other things), and have a beautiful horizon of mountains. Talk about a rich place for spiritual analogies!

They told us that it’s a misconception that sheep are dumb. They said sheep are just stubborn and slow to trust that you are actually trying to help them and that you know what’s best for them. (Hmmm … that sounds familiar!)

They also emphasized that sheep cannot bear being alone.

Anna and Melody Kirk also lead a Bright Lights group in Washington and have been to Cedar Rapids a few times to help with the Bright Lights ministry. One time, while with us in Iowa, they showed us pictures of their little lambs and told us their names. My mom asked them, “How do you tell them all apart?!” Melodie laughed and said, “By their faces!” It reminds me of how the Lord knows each of us so individually…

20141013_111714_30300 …with all our unique quirks and personalities, =) and He is so patient with us!

20141014_125005_30376 Early one morning, I walked over to their grapevine, and noticed something I had never thought about before regarding grapes: the fruit is somewhat hidden.

20141013_112802_30324 It’s not displayed loudly for all to see, such as apples.

20141014_131652_30383 Although the fruit is incredibly beautiful, it’s quiet and hidden, so to speak.

20141014_125012_30378 It was a reminder to me that our focus should be on bearing fruit on the inside, in the heart, where our Heavenly Father is looking.

The Lord does intend for our fruit to be seen that HE may be glorified (Matthew 5:16, John 15:8) but it’s His job to make it visible. It’s our job to abide.

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before me to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 6:1

20141015_104647_30472 On a different note, have you ever had grape sized kiwis? They are amazing–sooo sweet and delicious. The Kirks also grow these.

20141013_151110_30343 Lunch at the beach. Thank you, Kirks, for the wonderful time we had with you.

“My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.” John 15:8

Missions Fest Seattle 2014

October 17th, 2014

Last weekend, Sarah, Nickie, and I were so encouraged by all that happened in Seattle at the Missions Fest. The first day started out with the “Friday Field Trip.” This is an event to encourage young people to be missionary-minded. It was so excited to see the 640+ kids flooding into the church.

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20141010_115605_30135 Energy filled the air as the young people began finding the rooms for the workshops they wanted to attend – a hard decision, because there were almost fifty workshops, with topics such as “How to Use the Wordless Book,” “Use Illustrations to Share the Gospel,” “How to Share the Gospel with Your Atheist Friends” and so on. I wish every city in the US could have a conference like this!

20141010_124906_30154 Just as Paul went into the market place in Athens and shared with those who happened to be there (Acts 17) so we told the kids that when believers go out to parks or malls to share the gospel, the Lord arranges conversations! We shared several examples of this. We explained to them that they actually have many advantages in witnessing while they are young. For example, people are less intimidated by them. Additionally, people will see strong contrast between them and young people in the world. They can begin practicing talking with unbelievers about the gospel now while they’re young, and by the time they are older they will have a lot of experience.

Seattle is in great need for more laborers. We pray that the Lord works in the hearts of these kids and makes them into zealous voices for Him!

20141010_133406_30167 We were also asked to teach a session entitled “The Mall a Mission Field.” =) It was fun to hear their questions afterward: “How do I witness to a strong atheist?” “What do I say to a friend who just doesn’t think it’s important?”

20141010_155845_30172 After I shared with the kids how being a friend to the “unpopular” and “hurting” children gives us an opportunity to share Jesus with them, the girl on the left came up afterward and told me how she had done just that with a friend she knew, and it gave her an opportunity to share the gospel. We need to pray for more laborers to the harvest that take action as she did!

20141012_165911_30267 Heather (right) is the main one who coordinates the “Friday Field Trip.” I was encouraged and challenged by her zeal for serving God and her heart to share the gospel with everyone she comes into contact with from neighbors to the UPS man.

20141010_135529_30169 After the “Friday Field Trip,” the main conference began Friday evening. One of my favorite parts of the conference was getting to know the other exhibitors / speakers there. (Pictured above is the New Tribes Missions booth.)

For example, during lunch, I began talking with the Arabic couple at my table and they told me about the difficult persecution they experienced in central Asia before escaping their country. It was so awesome to hear how the Lord had worked in their lives and is still working in their people group. I realized that I was sitting with modern day heroes and I wished I would have had time to ask them many more questions!

There were actually many “modern-day heroes” at this conference – many men and women who had spent decades laboring on the mission field. There were also many who were interested in going on the mission field. It was so refreshing to be surrounded by people who are living with their focus on eternity!

The church was filled with believers from many different denominations and cultures, brought together with joy under the banner of missions. It was a very sweet atmosphere. The “WHY” of missions wasn’t the focus, because that was already a “given.” The focal point was more on the “where?” and “how?” of missions. I noticed how much joy I sensed among everyone, and I think that was because these people were focused on serving God and not on themselves.

20141011_165409_30218 In the afternoon on Saturday, Sarah and I were asked to be part of a session that discussed the importance of BOTH word + deed ministry. The first ten minutes of the session was a 10 minute video by Tim Keller. Then Sarah and I shared some testimonies on witnessing. The session concluded with a panel with two main speakers from the conference: Jeff Lilley and Paul Watson, who both lead urban missions here in the US. (Questions were texted in from the audience.)

I was challenged by Jeff and Paul’s perspective and answers. Jeff mentioned how when you start helping a person in need, you better be prepared because it is going to get messy. He mentioned how “it’s going to consume your day.” They referenced the story of the good Samaritan. It made me think “How many of us think we are a good Christian and would do what the good Samaritan did, when in reality we do exactly what the priest and Levite did and look the other way?” Sure, maybe the situations we encounter are a little less extreme, and every case certainly requires wisdom, but let’s pray that we don’t miss the opportunities God puts in our path!

20141012_165951_30268 We stayed in the home of Paul and Sandy Blauert, who started the Seattle Missions Fest nine years ago. While others retire and spend their time on themselves, Paul and Sandy instead give their time to organizing and running the largest free Missions Fest in the country. =) They were such a blessing and encouragement to us!!

“And let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful (Titus 3:14).”

“And he said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation…’ (Mark 16:15)”

A Message Demonstrated By My Grandma

October 7th, 2014

20141007_161836_30024 Grandma and us, 1991

Sometimes we are proportionately challenged in the way we look at ministry. I.e. Little looks big and big looks little. The things we consider “really big,” may not actually be as big as we imagine, and the things we think are “just little” are not little at all.

Recently I have been reminded how often serving God means being faithful in the little things. Over a lifetime, those things add up and impact countless people! This is something I have learned from my grandma. It was reinforced to me by those who have shared with us how she impacted their lives since she went to be with the Lord last month. My grandma was one of the most selfless people I’ve ever known, continuously thinking of others. She had a special heart for anyone handicapped, less popular, or overlooked. For example, Grandma would often have one child from our church over (maybe someone who didn’t get a lot of attention) and spend the afternoon doing a craft with that child. Grandma and Grandpa consistently gave people rides to church, had them for dinner, and developed special friendships with the “less-noticed” in the body of Christ.

There are no little things with God. Cooking and deliver meals, writing letters of encouragement, visiting people in the hospital, listening to a friend who is struggling, babysitting, cleaning your church building, being kind and patient with our family members, laboring in prayer … these are NOT little things! In fact, I think the “littler things” are often the “bigger things” with God—because it takes greater faith to persevere in them. It takes faith to know that God is using them—even though they may not seem to make much difference. It takes faith to be confident that these good works are worth the time and energy they take—even if just one person is helped by it. The growth of the kingdom of God here on earth happens little by little, as one sheep at a time is brought into His fold and nurtured.

Another reason to delight in behind-the-scenes acts of love is that there is generally no earthly applause for them. This makes it easier to work with pure motives: simply desiring to be noticed by the Lord. Let’s do more “little” things!

If we could only see how the Lord multiplies our work and uses even the smallest things we do for Him, we’d probably be much more diligent in them! But we don’t get that luxury. The heroes listed in Hebrews 11 didn’t get that luxury either. Instead they worked by FAITH—and that is what made them heroes! God likes faith. =)

In Heaven, the great ones may not be names we recognize, but men and women of God who were faithful in their little corner, serving quietly and faithfully without concern for human praise or recognition. People whose minds were occupied with something much nobler—their love for their Commander. That is what should drive us. And that is the work which pleases our Father most!

My grandma did things to help people all the time, not just to check off her “ministry check list for the day,” but because she really cared about them! She, together with my grandpa, was an example of Romans 12:9 – “sincere love.” Her love for the Lord caused her to love those He loved. The New Testament couldn’t be more clear that Lord wants His servants to be driven by love.

Stop and ask yourself: WHY am I doing what I am doing? Who am I hoping to be noticed by? Who am I doing it for? “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10)

“Does the place you’re called to labor seem too small and little known?
It is great if God is in it, and He’ll not forget His own.
Little is much when God is in it! Labor not for wealth or fame.
There’s a crown—and you can win it, if you go in Jesus’ name.”
– Kittie L Suffield

The White Hot Chocolate Drama

October 4th, 2014

20141003_205506_30014 Last night was the annual “Chocolate Walk” and our store (Noah’s Archive) opened up from 8pm- 10:30pm along with many other stores downtown and served chocolate. We decided to serve “spiced white hot chocolate” this year because it would be easy.

20141003_204704_30008 We had a table set by the door to serve customers as they came in.

The problem was that I didn’t start warming the milk in the crock pots soon enough. People began coming and one crock pot was lukewarm and the other was cold. =( I began warming up individual mugs at a time as customers began to trickle it, but I knew that was NOT going to work for the whole evening!

I began to think. How in the world could I get those crock pots to heat up faster? Is there any other way I could heat this?

I prayed. Customers would be coming for the next 2 hours, and we really needed to have something to serve them! Though I knew the Lord can answer any prayer, I couldn’t really imagine how He would answer this one! [smile]

20141003_211301_30018 I began to pour milk into any possible heating device I could imagine. Lol.

Then Nickie came back and realized I needed a little help!

20141003_210827_30016 She agreed with me that heating up white hot chocolate in individual cups and bowls in the microwave all night long was not an ideal plan. And those coffee pot warming bases were not exactly doing the trick!

20141003_205341_30009 After giving the situation a little thought, Nickie had the brilliant idea of taking the whole crock pot OUT of it’s heating base and warming it in the microwave. It worked perfectly, and we had hot white chocolate to serve customers the whole night long. Praise the Lord!

Missions Fest Seattle, October 10-11

October 2nd, 2014

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Next week Sarah and I will be speaking at the Seattle Missions Fest. If you live in the area and would like to come, I would encourage you to do so. It is going to be a very exciting event! See missionsfestseattle.org for details.

This year the theme is bringing the gospel to the city as the Lord continues to bring “the ends of the earth” to us! To quote the conference program (Dr. Jan D Hettinga), “Going to the far ends of the earth is still vital, but going across the street has become nearly as difficult and equally essential…”

We would greatly appreciate your prayers. Please pray that the Lord would powerfully raise up laborers unto the harvest!

“Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers…” Romans 15:30

My Grandma’s Memorial Service

September 30th, 2014

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Here is one of my favorite pictures of my grandma

Ecclesiastes 7:2 “It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart.”

A week and a half ago, at my Grandma’s memorial service, this verse struck me in a way it never had before.

When Mr. Glock closed the service and referred to this verse in his prayer, I thought that’s so true. It’s so much better to go to a funeral than to a party. In the past hour, as I had been sitting there on the front row, I had been reminded deeply of the realities of life through all that had just been shared.

Parties are often filled with emptiness, but funerals are rich with lessons and reminders. First, they remind us of the reality that each one of us will also die (unless Jesus comes back first). It is at funerals when we ask ourselves questions such as What difference will my life make in the battle for Christ? How many lives will I touch? How deeply? How much will I have prayed?

We only have one time around – one chance. We need a lot of reminders about how short life is. So it is better to go to the house of mourning than to the house of feasting!

And, of course, Christian funerals are the best, because though they are tear-filled, they are basically a big worship service. We rejoice in the hope that we have in Jesus – the One who has conquered death and replaced it’s sting with hope!

Even though many of you didn’t know my Grandma, I still think you would be edified by listening to her memorial service.

Here is an outline of what is shared:

Stephen’s introduction
2:30 George Farber (message)
18:00 Stephen introducing sharing time
19:20 Matt Coventon (friend from church)
21:00 Andy Parker (friend from church)
26:00 My mom
30:00 My aunt Roxanne
32:30 Carla Neto (friend from international student outreach)
34:20 Sarah and myself
41:00 My uncle Larry
46:00 Dave Keele (friend from church)
50:00 My Grandpa
57:00 Mr. Glock Closing Prayer


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