Spiritual Battles in Orlando

IMG_5719 Please pray for the conversations we will be having the next few days with public school teachers here at the NEA Convention. We will be giving away about 4,000 DVDs and 4,000 books produced by Answers in Genesis. Our desire is to move beyond the Creation Science topic with the teachers and share the gospel of Christ–the only message with the power to save!

As you can see, we had quite a few boxes to unpack!

IMG_5720 Some of our team this year

Back row: Joe Owen (speaker for AiG), Steve Ham (Director of International Outreach for AiG), and James Opperman (Director of the web team for AiG)
Front row: Me and Haley Skrnich (Bright Lights leader in Texas)

Our theme verse (and prayer) this year is Acts 4:33, which says:

“With great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all.”

We are so utterly dependent on the Lord’s grace, but we rejoice that His power is great, and He is the One who fights for us, rescuing souls! Praise God He allows us to help, though we are undeserving of the privilege.

God’s Surprise Provision

It all started when Sarah told us, “We really should start praying for the guest house plumbing and shower – I don’t know what we’re going to do with 12 girls staying there this summer!”

A few weeks later she brought this concern up again as a prayer request. That very night, an old friend of ours who was visiting told us, “The Lord has put it on my heart to remodel your basement bathroom at your guest house.” His offer was a complete surprise!

IMG_5706Randy and his son Michael

As I write this, Randy is working hard, as he has been for many days. Not only is he replacing the shower, he’s enlarging the whole bathroom down there! Those who have seen our basement shower downstairs and were brave enough to take a shower in it know what bad shape it was in. [smile] There was also a large leak from our upstairs bathroom into our downstairs one.

Additionally, our friends Tracy Jarmon and Dave Fuller (who helped us remodel our office) got on board, and volunteered to replace the vanities, fixtures, flooring, you name it, in BOTH bathrooms.

We can hardly believe this is happening and praise the Lord for how He answers prayer!

Single Ladies Retreat

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Sarah and I and some other Bright Lights leaders will be part of the Single Ladies Retreat hosted by Mirren and Taryn Martin (Biblical Discipleship Ministries) in Texas in just over a month.

Last time this retreat was held (2 years ago) it was a very special time of fellowship and encouragement (I posted about it here ). We are sure this year will be the same! Women of all ages will be sharing testimonies of God’s work through their lives, and insights about how we can best serve Him in this season of our life. We’d love to see you there!

For more information or to register, click here.

Neighborhood Ice Cream Social

Last Thursday, we joined together with some neighbor friends to run a “Neighborhood Ice Cream Social” at the park a block from our house. About 100 neighbors came! We were so grateful.

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This idea started forming several months ago when my dad and I ran into our neighbor, Seth, at a coffee shop. Seth works with youth at his church and has a heart for ministry. We began talking about our neighborhood and our desire to have more contact with our neighbors. We decided the first step was to pray about it, so we invited some other like-minded neighbors and joined together for a time of prayer in our basement …

IMG_4688 Prayer with neighbors, April, 2015

Then we decided, “Let’s just put something on the calendar right now. Let’s do an ice cream social at the park.” We put “June 4″ on the calendar.

IMG_5617 Invitations were made and distributed…

IMG_5642 We told everyone to bring a topping and lawn chair

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We were thrilled with the turnout. We were able to have conversations with many that we had not even met before! Neighbors stayed around for a long time talking. They all enjoyed meeting each other too!

IMG_5670 Looks like this might be the start of a new tradition.

IMG_5655 We all cheered for the lady who had lived in our neighborhood the longest: 51 years!

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If you’d like to do this in your neighborhood, here are a few tips.

1) If you don’t have a park a block away, consider doing it in your driveway. (See pie party post as an example…)

2) Team up with a few other neighbor families so you aren’t doing it “alone.”

3) Be aware that you may actually have more conversations with neighbors when you go door to door inviting people than at the party itself, so block out sufficient time to do that. (Believe it or not, I found that not one person minded being invited to a neighborhood ice cream social! :) )

4) Make sure you have name tags and sharpies. We put the name tags in the front of the line before the ice cream to make sure people got one.

5) Consider starting an e-mail or texting list so that it is easier to invite them to future neighborhood events. (But remember that face to face conversations are much better as they are more personal!)

6) Bring a simple map of the neighborhood so they can put an “x” where their house is.

7) Don’t forget: tables, chairs, napkins, bowls, spoons, lots of ice in coolers (or dry ice), ice cream cones, and garbage bags.

8) Most of all, pray and thank God for what He does!

Vessels of Honor Conference

Last weekend four friends and I drove down to the “Vessels of Honor” conference, held at a college in the Kansas City area. It was humbling and encouraging. I gleaned a lot. And as I look through my notes, I am still gleaning. :)

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I received much rain, both physically and spiritually. :) The physical rain was because I forgot an umbrella. The spiritual “rain,” the rich teaching, was the preferable part, but getting wet was kind of fun too.

11270520_10153028400383318_1606222366252370415_o Scott DeGroff taught about being mighty warriors for the Lord today and walking in victory. Sometimes we have a pessimistic attitude, thinking that a struggle we’re having will just linger on and on. But if we belong to Christ, we don’t ever have to live like slaves to various struggles or sins, because Jesus powerfully frees us from sin’s grip. We need to “wake up” (Romans 13:11) and ask Him, trusting Him for the victory. We must be delivered from living a wasted life that we’ll be ashamed of at the judgement seat of Christ.

IMG_5585 Mr. Attwood talked about seeking after a more intimate walk with Christ. The more we fall in love with our Savior, the more things that used to captivate us lose our interest … because of the explosive power of a new affection. The closer we get to the Light, the more corrupt we see ourselves … but this makes us love Him more as we experience His forgiveness and grace.

There is always a danger in becoming so busy, even with “ministry,” that we don’t spend quality time in the presence of the Lord, worshiping Him, studying Him, enjoying close fellowship with Him. Yet, it’s these times that change us most and enable us to encourage others most!

IMG_5562 Scott DeGroff and Mike Attwood, answering questions

When speakers are willing to spend much time with the attendees, it demonstrates how much they care. And that says a lot.

In between the 12+ hours of Bible teaching, we had some free time for extra activities. I love being with people who love to talk about the Lord, and that was the atmosphere of this event. It was a mature group of youth and young married couples (who don’t want to quit coming :) ).

IMG_5550 One of the guys attending (Chris) initiated a door to door witnessing outreach in the nearby neighborhood. A group of about 20 joined him, and some exciting things happened.

11141787_10153028449898318_5692873668064859635_o Much of the teaching was in break out sessions. I really enjoyed Mr. Attwood’s (left) breakout sessions on rightly dividing the word of truth. He spoke of all the problems that have arisen because Christians have failed to distinguish between the church and Israel. It was an excellent session. I also enjoyed Lynn DeGroff’s session on discernment, especially in popular Christian literature being published today.

11313083_10153028323913318_5308071870858695107_o The singing in the main sessions were nice, but many wanted to keep singing more …

IMG_5565 … so an attendee (Danny) coordinated a hymn sing one evening. It was beautiful!

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IMG_5581 Abby and Guy

Many of you know Abby through Bright Lights conferences over the years. In this picture she and her husband Guy are singing “Complete in Thee.” It was a sweet conclusion during the last session of the conference.

“…in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete … ” (Colossians 1:9-10)

May we run after the Lord Jesus in hot pursuit, confident that He is a Rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6)!

Todd Biegler’s Memorial Service

IMG_5170 Last Saturday hundreds in our community experienced a beautiful, sad, and very God-honoring memorial service.

IMG_5187 The Biegler family did a wonderful job preparing for this day amidst such a hard week.

IMG_5243 Mr. Biegler and baby Nickie

IMG_5249 Visitation line

IMG_5288 Mrs. Pratt, (talking to Sarah in this picture), wrote on Todd’s tribute wall, “Now Todd can really turn his eyes upon Jesus and look full in His wonderful face!” (“Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus” was Todd’s favorite song, sung frequently to him during his sickness. He had it on an alarm that went off every three hours.)

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IMG_5217 Todd’s youngest granddaughter. I have come to conclude that this is her default expression. Must be because she has great parents. [smile]

IMG_5251 It was common knowledge that Todd’s favorite color was lime green because he wore that color a lot; however, I will admit that this is the first time I saw Mrs. Biegler and the others wearing lime green. [smile]

IMG_5276 Talking with good friends who drove up from Virginia for this day

IMG_5404 Steven shared about the many things he had learned from his dad. His final point was that his dad taught him to trust in Jesus — both by his words, and by his example. Steven shared that he was blown away by watching his dad go through cancer: never complaining, but steadfastly proclaiming that God has a purpose and we can trust him. “I really loved him a lot,” Steven said in closing.

Jessy, Michael, and Jim (Laura’s husband) also shared about their dad. Their high compliments for their father, and their testimonies of how his standards and godliness formed their convictions and lives, were powerful. No one could leave that service without seeing a picture of a godly father who invested deeply into shaping the lives of each member of his family. As my dad mentioned, “All the fathers in the room should have been convicted.”

From family devotions twice a day to tackling huge projects with his boys to his steadfast commitment and high standards, he paved a path that his family is so grateful to follow.

Todd’s younger brother shared how Todd consistently planted little seeds in his life… how he was there in the hard moments, pointing him to God.

Several other men spoke as well. The gospel was shared beautifully and passionately. Many worshipful songs were enjoyed.

Cheryl Kissling, Deb Biegler, and Edie Dukek playing “The Prayer.” I heard this song first when they were playing it in the hospice house.

The Biegler’s asked Bekah and her sisters Hannah and Leah to sing “Blessings.”

IMG_5476 Afterward the gym was filled with beautiful table arrangements, delicious food, old friends, smiles and hugs, a sense of closeness amidst the sadness, and a gratefulness to God that we do not grieve as others who have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4).

IMG_5445 I got the impression this wasn’t the first time these fathers went through the food line with a 2-year-old. [smile]

IMG_5415 Some lingered in the auditorium providing prayer support … how could we go through such a time without the solace of coming to His presence for the much-needed grace He gives?! Thank you to all who have joined in prayer for the Biegler family.

2015 Bright Lights Conferences

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We are grateful to the Lord for all the pieces He has put in place already to run summer Bright Lights conferences! If “Bright Lights” comes into your mind, please pray that the Lord would deeply touch the lives of girls during these conferences! It is our desire to see the Lord turn the hearts of young ladies to seek Him fervently in their youth. Praise God that He is able to do more than we ask or imagine! There will be a Strong in the Lord Conference and Radiant Purity Conference in each location.

If you would like to help spread the word about these conferences on social media, Hannah Sandersfeld put together these images which can be easily shared via Instagram, FaceBook, Pinterest, Twitter, Blogs, Google Plus, etc. (Thanks, Hannah!) She also put together another document with practical ideas for sharing on social media. See that here if you would like.

Note: Click on the above image for instagram or the below image for blogs, etc. The original file will open. Then right click to save it to your computer so you can share it. If anyone would like actual paper flyers [smile] we’d be happy to put some in the mail to you. Just e-mail me and let me know how many you can use!

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Mr. Biegler With Jesus

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Nickie’s dad went to be with Jesus Monday morning. Please pray for grace and strength for her family as they will continue to miss him greatly. As Mrs. Biegler said, “I’m deliriously happy for Todd; not so much for the rest of us.”

It is a happy thought to think of all he is seeing and experiencing now in the presence of Jesus.

I know the Bieglers would appreciate prayer that his memorial service on Saturday would bring much glory to Jesus. Pray that the light and hope of the gospel would be seen by those who do not yet know Christ!

See more information here.

Update on Nickie’s Father

Tood_Deb Photo: Hannah Sandersfeld

I wanted to share an update of what is happening with Mr. Biegler.

He is still alive, though he continues to show signs that it won’t be much longer. Sarah and I have been at the hospice house a lot this week, and I think we have been more encouraged by them than they have by us. There have been many tears, but words of praise and gratefulness are consistently coming from their lips. There’s a definite peace from the Lord.

I appreciated Michael’s words as we were leaving the other night: “We know that God is good—He was good yesterday; He’s good today; and He will be good tomorrow. And we know he has a purpose for this. If God wasn’t doing something great, He wouldn’t be doing it.”

His family echoes the same words of faith.

“I am planning to write down all the ways we have been seeing God’s hand providing for us and given us grace,” Laura said.

Mrs. Biegler often plays peaceful hymns on her guitar, and there have been some sweet times of singing. I’m sure the hospice house does not have many families like the Bieglers. The Lord is using them to be a bright shining light right now in this time; please keep upholding them in prayer—and please pray for those who are being touched by their family right now. They would like prayer for the salvation of others who they are interacting with during this time …

Here is Mrs. Biegler’s latest update (from three days ago):

Thank you for praying for Todd and for our family. Thank you for phone calls, texts, emails, cards, food, music, etc., etc. …

We’ve been here for several days. I have lost all sense of time. Somehow, I see by the calendar, we slipped into May. Todd’s pain is able to be managed for the most part, and he spends time hovering between semi-consciousness and deep sleep. Todd is continuing to decline, and continuing to hold on. The doctor thinks his time is very short – yesterday she said yesterday or today. :-) A few minutes ago, she said normally hours, but could be a few days because he is so strong. God knows.

God is continuing to make Himself evident. There is pervasive peace that is impossible to explain. The support from the staff, from volunteers, from friends – in such a variety ways – is incredible. God is blessing us with verses, prayers, songs, encouraging words, pictures – via email, texts and delivered in person. Food is abundant and delicious. We are being sustained.

Family and friends were here most of yesterday and several stayed overnight. After Todd had been unconscious most of the day, he had a time of being fairly coherent last night. God orchestrated an unpredictable, unimaginable, unbelievable gift. Our entire family was here gathered around Todd’s bed. We spent about an hour singing, praying, laughing… Todd was awake for the first time all day. He joined in for most of it – and he was hilarious. There were lots of hugs, kisses, good-nights… joy, peace. I can’t begin to explain the specialness of it, but it sure felt a little like heaven.

After everyone left the room, Todd was in extreme pain, and right back to the bloody, leaky, messy place he’s been in for so long. There were some intermittent rough spots overnight and this morning. Now he is heavily medicated to help with pain, and pretty much out of it.

I have come to some conclusions. Pain, disease, suffering, anger, fear – are a huge part of our world. Death stinks. Sin is not worth it. And, yet, we do. I do. I don’t think I go five minutes (and I’m giving myself extreme grace in that estimate) without sinful, selfish thoughts, words or actions. It is our nature. My nature. I hate it. Even in the midst of this terrible, necessary season of Todd’s life, of our family’s life, when it seems like there are so many needs, I find myself thinking, “Hey! What about ME?!” Why God would be so forgiving, so loving, so kind…showering selfish, inadequate me with grace upon grace is beyond my comprehension. And to think, because of His love, He paid the price – eternal death – for our sin; for my sin. He died for us. For me. We are forgiven. I am forgiven. He conquered death and rose again. He rose again and He loves all of us with all our unique gifts and faults; and we are to do the same. I am to do the same. Oh, that I could. sigh…

Thank you for supporting us for so long. We are praying for many blessings on the known and unknown pray-ers who are holding us so tenderly.

Deb