Jesus is Not Calling Us to a Sprint

September 19th, 2014


Recently I was struck by Hebrews 10:36 which says, “You have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.”

Jesus is not calling us to run a short sprint — He’s calling us to a life-long marathon. He doesn’t promise immediate compensation or an easy path. But He does give us advance instruction about how to finish strong: “look not at what is seen but at what is unseen.” (2 Corinthians 4:18) i.e. Run by faith.

Life is not always going to make sense right now. And it’s okay — we just keep running. It is not always going to be fun or comfortable. It’s okay; we keep running. We may not be understood or approved of by onlookers. It’s okay. Our path may not go the direction we hoped. IT’S OKAY! Why is it okay? Because our treasure isn’t here anyway. Our Treasure is at the finish line.

If one is tempted to “slow down,” “give up,” or “yield to despair” because of a sudden rocky path or undesirable turn of events, maybe that’s a sign they have lost some interest in their true Treasure at the finish line, and put too much affection on things on earth.

May we run, looking unto Jesus, the finisher of our faith. Let’s guard our first love.

“For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.” (Hebrews 10:36)

(Picture taken during vacation in Colorado several years ago.)

Sharing the Gospel at the University of Iowa

September 15th, 2014

20140914_174329_29882 Yesterday a team of 10 friends and I went to the University of Iowa to share the gospel with students. Afterward we gathered and shared our stories over pizza.

I think we keep learning over and over that nothing compares to the joy and fulfillment of doing what Jesus has told us to do — going into all the world to share the gospel and make disciples. I thought you’d be encourage to hear a bit of what we saw the Lord do yesterday!

Here Nolia is sharing the exciting story of how a lady she and Maree talked to (named Ann) trusted Christ to save her! Apparently Ann went to church and had a lot of Bible knowledge, but the simple gospel message itself had never clicked with her until yesterday. We are praising the Lord for this divine appointment! Nolia laughed as she explained to us how Ann’s husband drove around the block several times, waiting to pick her up, but Ann kept saying, “well, he can wait,” since she was anxious to hear the rest of what Nolia and Maree had to say.

Jon and Eric talked for over an hour with this man and lady sitting on a bench. They were full of questions about why God allowed so many things to go wrong in their lives. The lady was in tears. It sounds like the Lord really used Jon and Eric to provide some good answers and caring encouragement. Jon shared about the rich man and Lazerus and how we are not promised an easy life. He explained that our hope is not in this life but in the next.

Amanda and I talked with a girl, Morgan, who had left her Christian background and now has many very different views. Amanda shared her testimony with Morgan, and that led us into the gospel.

“I don’t know you very well,” I told Morgan, “but I do know that many have a wrong view of Christianity and they think it’s about rules and working to be good enough to get to Heaven when in reality that’s not what the Bible says at all!”

Morgan seemed intrigued by this and asked some good questions. We had a good talk about the righteousness that God GIVES us as a gift, as Romans 3 describes. Please pray for her.

Radio Interview
On a different note, as we’ve been praying for the Lord to raise up laborers to the harvest and for opportunities to encourage lives in this direction, it’s always exciting to see the Lord provide. One of those provisions came in the form of a recent e-mail I received, asking if I would be willing to be interviewed regarding Will Our Generation Speak? on VCY America, on the CrossTalk radio show. That interview happened this afternoon, and if you’d like to hear it, it is archived here.

Sight-Seeing in London

September 12th, 2014

With just one day to tour in London, we decided to squeeze in as much as we could!

It was pretty neat to walk up the stairs out of the underground subway (the “tube”) and see Big Ben towering above us! The next thing I noticed was Mirren witnessing to a guy handing out brochures for a tour company. As she pulled out a gospel booklet to “trade” with him for his tour booklet, he asked her, “What is it about?”
“Well, it’s about what is true, and what is the meaning of life, and why we are here,” she replied.
“Why are we here?” he asked her curiously.
Mirren explained that we were here to glorify God – and that her God was Jesus Christ.
He responded by saying that he thought all the religions could get someone to Heaven. Providentially, that was the very topic of the booklet Mirren had just pulled out of her purse to give him – (Second Greatest Lie). His name is Christian and we praise the Lord for the opportunity we had to share with him about the salvation that can be had through Jesus.




I noticed evidence of what must have been a fantastic ministry at one time … “Samaritan Free Hospital.” It would be great to see some more of these in existence today!

My favorite part of touring London was definitely the Tower of London. Built by William the Conqueror in the 11th century, the castle (which actually has many buildings and towers) contains so much interesting English history. Henry VIII beheaded his wives here, Isaac Newton lived here for a while, Sir Walter Raleigh was held there, and the list goes on and on. Of greatest interest to me was the Christian and Jewish persecution that took place. Six hundred Jewish men were imprisoned in the tower in the 13th century before the whole Jewish population was expelled from England in 1290. Many Christians were tortured and persecuted there.

After this Yeoman (they aren’t actually tour guides – they are caretakers and historians) had taken us to the place where beheadings within the Tower were held (and shared more details about the process than I cared to hear!) I told him I was interested in studying more about those who had been persecuted for Christ there at the Tower.

I mentioned one persecuted prisoner in the Tower I had read about, of whom it was written, “he is exceedingly obstinate and a great friend either of God or of the devil, for they say they cannot extract a word from his lips, save that, amidst his torments, he speaks the word, ‘Jesus’.”

The Yeoman knew of the story and gave me more details, such as how this prisoner became close friends with his guard who would sneak him oranges.

Talking with the Yeoman was a reminder to me of how when one life is lived for Christ, people 500 years later are still impacted by the story. Even unbelieving historians researching the story could be drawn to Christ through stories such as this one.

20140806_054529_28572 I never knew that fig leaves were soft on the underside! No wonder Adam and Even chose to use them for clothes! =) (Okay, well, my dad thinks there were other reasons than that…)

20140806_105210_28682 At the Piccadilly Circus intersection

Stephen had noticed an article of the “25 coffee shops to visit before you die,” and since one was in London, we decided to visit. =] It’s called Kaffeine’s – and it was unique and delicious. With us is our good friend Sinming who invited us to come to London and organized the conference at the Chinese church. She spent the day taking us around in London and was an amazing tour guide! Thank you, Sinming!

Our evening concluded with a wonderful dinner with some friends who are actually from Texas, but living in London for a few years.

20140806_154503_28719 This is their neighborhood =)

New Neighbors

September 10th, 2014


No one complained when we learned that a chocolate shop was moving in next door to our Bright Lights office / Noah’s Archive Christian Bookstore. Shelby, Hannah, Nickie and I went over this afternoon to give them some business!

On the other side of our office, we have the world’s best pizza shop (famous in our area) and behind us we have a super cute bakery and very popular coffee house. *Sigh* So blessed. =}

20140910_114515_29708 Today Shelby put up some letters that my dad recently ordered so we can have Bible verses on our big front windows. We’re grateful for all that Shelby and Hannah do when they come in to volunteer.

After an eventful week with family last week, we are now getting back into a routine. I will resume posting a few more reports from England soon.

Tears and Gratefulness

September 5th, 2014


“For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality” 1 Corinthians 15:53


We had a sad but special sharing time just with family yesterday afternoon before my grandma’s burial. One of my favorite comments made was when Sarah shared through tears that when something was hard for her she didn’t really want to tell Grandma, because Grandma cared so much it would be harder for Grandma than it was for her! What a gift from the Lord we were given. I am realizing more and more how the Lord used my grandma to shape who we are in so many ways.

We will be having a memorial service for my grandma a few weeks. Thank you for your kind comments and prayers. We are so grateful for the Lord’s care.

Death means separation. But for those who have been saved by Jesus, it means just the opposite — it means entrance into the very presence of God, as the song below beautifully explains! (Hear tune here)

It is not death to die, to leave this weary road,
and join the saints who dwell on high, who’ve found their home with God.
It is not death to close the eyes long dimmed by tears,
and wake in joy before Your throne, delivered from our fears.

O Jesus, conquering the grave,
Your precious blood has pow’r to save.
Those who trust in You will in Your mercy find
that it is not death to die.

It is not death to fling aside this earthly dust,
And rise with strong and noble wing, to live among the just.
It is not death to hear the key unlock the door
That sets us free from mortal years to praise You evermore.

Henri Cesar Malan; trans. George Bethune; additional words by Bob Kauflin


20140904_152136_29685 My cousin and good friend Stephanie (we’re 92 days apart in age) with her husband Eric and adorable boys.

Oh Death, Where is Your Sting?

September 3rd, 2014


My grandma went to be with the Lord today around 2:20 this afternoon. I was the only one with her when she died because it happened so quickly and no one was expecting it.

Because of her declining condition and need for much extra care, she was in a nearby nursing home. She had had a rough morning this morning, but stabilized and even asked us to go for a ride in her wheelchair. We thought it might be getting “close to the end” for her, but we weren’t sure.

After lunch I decided to go back to the nursing home to check on Grandma. I don’t normally go at that time, and I even had fresh coffee in my cup and a somewhat urgent phone call to make, but I felt a desire to check on Grandma first. I see now that that was from the Lord!

“I’m so glad you are here,” the nurse told me, “She’s unresponsive and I can’t get a hold of your mom.” (My parents were taking my grandpa to the emergency room, but that’s another story. And he’s okay now.)

I walked into Grandma’s room. She was sleeping with somewhat strained breathing. The director of the nursing home (who is a Christian) came into the room moments later.

“This would be a good time for you just to stay and pray with her,” he encouraged me.

I informed my family of the situation, and then I prayed with Grandma. I texted Stephen that it could be getting near the end, but I didn’t know for sure. However, just moments later, as I knelt by Grandma’s bed, I noticed her mouth changed a bit. Then I felt her stop breathing. I ran to get a nurse.

“There’s no heartbeat,” the nurse told me. “I’m sorry, she’s gone.”

It was an interesting moment of shock mixed with a real sense of “it’s okay” … and joy that she was in the presence of the Lord now. It was a firsthand experience for me of the “powerlessness” of death. I know I am temporarily separated from my grandma, but there was no sting in that for me (or her!). However, I do know that I am really going to miss her. We were very close.

I am so grateful that the Lord led me to the nursing home just in time for those last moments. I’m so grateful for the director’s encouragement to pray with her right then, as I had no idea she was so close to the end! I am also so grateful for the many conversations we’ve been able to have about the Lord today with many in our “community of friends” there at the nursing home – and we would appreciate prayer for them.

How amazing that we can stand upon this beautiful truth: Because the Lord is in complete control, we can have complete peace.

“O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? (1 Corinthians 15:55)”

My guess is that many of you are probably thinking right now about how your grandma or grandpa died. But if they are still alive, remember to take the time to call them, write them, and spend time with them… maybe even journal the things they tell you. Our friends will come and go, but our grandparents are a treasure beyond what we even know.


August 29th, 2014


In London, we ran a family conference at a Chinese church. We felt “right at home” as most of our previous overseas conferences have been with Chinese people in Singapore and Malaysia. [smile]

20140804_142524_28446 Mr. Martin speaking

20140805_115802_28465 Dinner with the pastor (standing behind my dad) and church staff. We were encouraged by their heart for discipleship and their desire for the 5 branches of their Chinese church in London to have families that are strong in the Lord!

20140804_064846_28404 Teaching fathers and sons

20140804_103841_28423 Sarah talking to girls and moms

20140804_084100_28420 Mirren and Taryn Martin teaching girls and moms

20140804_140625_28439 Book table

20140730_032458_28077 I’ll admit, I wasn’t so sure it was a great idea to fly over with this much extra stuff (10 duffle bags filled with books), but we were sure glad we did!

20140804_074210_28408 Singming (right) is the one who invited us and coordinated the conference. We are so grateful to her for all of her work and coordination! Linda Lim (left) was a huge help in the whole process.

20140804_153629_28454 Susannah, her mom, and Isabella have started going through the Bright Lights material with some other friends who were also at the conference. We really enjoyed meeting them are excited to see how the Lord will use them as godly examples and role models in their communities!

20140805_122711_28467 A delicious dessert of fruit, meringue crumbles, and cream (called eton mess)

Please pray that the Lord would give grace and strength to these families to walk in a manner worthy of Him!

Swanick, Derbyshire, England

August 24th, 2014

20140802_130755_28316 Our first conference was held in Derbyshire. The great fellowship during this conference was a huge blessing!

20140802_090757_28293 During a break, several of us sat around and heard a powerful testimony from Barry, who recently trusted Christ to save him (after months of resistance).

20140803_090124_28370 Our family and the Martins with the Living Water’s representative, John and Danielle Harris (front right) and Ben Scotten from AiG UK (standing behind them).

Meeting them was definitely a highlight on the trip! The Harris’ described with enthusiasm how they see people often “repenting on the streets” as they go out and engage them with the gospel. Check out this short You Tube Clip of them interviewing people on the streets. You’ll enjoy seeing what they do! (Note: the talking on the video starts at minute 1:00).

They also shared how they see the Lord raising up laborers for the harvest – they are currently training 60 people in evangelism (3 classes of 20 people each every week). Wish I lived closer, I’d love to join them! They also have a lot of neat ideas and vision for the future. If you live anywhere near the Nottingham area, I would highly recommend you join one of their training classes! You can find their email address on the contact page of their webpage to get more information.

It was also encouraging to hear from Ben about how the Lord is growing the AiG presence in the UK. They are currently gearing up for the UK Creation Mega Conference!

20140802_144609_28323 A question / answer time at the end of Mr. Martin’s last session on negative influences in our society, and how to keep our lives clean and set apart for Christ.

20140802_092403_28294 Rani (next to Sarah) with her younger sister and two cousins. After meeting Rani, we felt she’d be a wonderful Bright Lights leader, and we were encouraged when we received an e-mail from her yesterday reviewing some of what the Lord has done in her life and stating, “I felt like all the things I was shown in my spiritual walk was preparing me to this call to be a a Bright Light Leader …” We are so excited to see how the Lord will continue to use Rani!

20140803_015630_28333 I took a picture of this plant as an inspiration to our staff here in the Bright Lights office, haha! We have a rubber plant just like that but unfortunately we haven’t done quite as good of a job caring for it!

Reports about London conference and sightseeing coming soon! =)

Birmingham, England

August 19th, 2014

We have been home from England for a few days now. We are filled with gratefulness to the Lord for allowing us to be a small part of what He is doing in that country. Thank you for all who were praying. We truly saw His hand at work in each place.

Since we were basically with people the entire time, we made many new friends. Well, rather, we met many of our brothers and sisters on that part of the world for the first time. [smile]. It looks like we will have continued contact with many of them. At least three new Bright Lights groups are starting, which is a big answer to prayer. One of them is having their second meeting tomorrow evening!

To share some of the highlights from the trip, I think I will categorize reports by city. So we’ll start with Birmingham, where we spent a day before going on to our first conference in Derbyshire.

20140801_055930_28212 The Davies family, upon hearing that we were considering coming to England, emailed us back in February, inviting us to stay with them. They also offered to organize a family gathering where we could speak to more families in their area.

20140731_145709_28194 My dad sharing with the parents

20140731_145731_28196 Sarah sharing with the girls

20140731_155031_28200 I really enjoyed meeting the Hughes sisters who live near Wales and drove quite a distance to come that evening. They are now planning to start a Bright Lights group. We praise the Lord for their lives and for what He is going to continue to do through them.

At the Davies home, we had a lot of fun, enjoying their wonderful hospitality, and learning about English ways and … vocabulary!

For snacks in the break at our meeting at the church, they had “tea and cakes.” It was delicious – though it wasn’t actually cake, but brownies, cookies, etc. This produced some fun conversation afterward, defining terms. [smile]
“Well, what would you call what we ate during the break?” they asked me.
“Well, we’d probably say ‘snacks or treats’ or just call it ‘brownies and cookies’ … so for you, you just put it all under the category of ‘cakes,’ right?”
“Yes,” they agreed. We continued from there to defining cookies and biscuits. (As many of you probably already know, a biscuit to them is what we would call a cookie.)
“Oh, so your biscuits are like dinner rolls?” they asked me.
“Yes,” I said, going on to describe what “biscuits” are to us.
“Well, that sounds like our scones,” Mrs. Davies said.
“Oh, what are your scones like? Are they sweet?”
“No, not really,” she said, continuing to describe them.
“Well we have scones too, but ours are sweet, and they are triangle,” I said.
“Now I’m really confused,” she replied.
We laughed. This conversation was taking place while I was drying dishes.
“The cutlery can go in here,” she told me.
Now I’m thinking, And what would that mean?” and then realized she was referring to silverware.
All the differences in our vocabulary is just too fun.

20140801_063453_28249 English home school room!

20140801_071514_28267 The Davies introduced us to a card game that helps you learn the Kings and Queens of England.

20140801_063146_28246 Another 3rd born baby of the family! [smile] I learned a lot about hedges and mince meat from Jemimah!

20140801_094054_28273 Off to the next place!

Young Ladies Conference in England

August 12th, 2014

IMG_1111 Sarah talking with one of the mothers. Behind her is one of the buildings of Brunel Mannor–the location where our last conference was held.

IMG_1175 Discussion time with the girls late Saturday night. The highlight for me was when one girl shared, almost teary-eyed, how she’d had so many questions and Sarah’s session on “Before You Meet Price Charming” gave her answers that really helped her. Praise the Lord!

IMG_0980 We have also had some exciting times sight seeing. Here were are on top of a huge rock in Dartmoor.

I have soooo many pictures and reports, but have not had much free time to post. I will be posting them soon, though!

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