Neighborhood Pie Party

20130926_174139_23048 Last night was our annual (well, almost annual) neighborhood pie party! It went great, praise the Lord! About 35 neighbors came from all around the block, and we were so excited about the warm responses and good connections made!

20130926_174056_23043 Our purpose for the pie party is simply to get acquainted with our neighbors.

20130926_170622_23039 The first year we had the pie party about a dozen neighbors came. It has just continued to grow since then. The neighbors like the opportunity to get to know each other. (Now they express strong disappointment to us when they have to miss a neighborhood pie party.)

Unfortunately, in today’s generation, most people don’t know their neighbors that well. It’s not because people are less social than they used to be – it’s just because they don’t “rely” on each other as much, and have more connections elsewhere. But we’ve seen that our neighbors really do like getting acquainted (and eating pie).

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If you’d like to try this in your area, we’d highly recommend it! Here are a few tips:

1) Set aside a couple hours a few days in advance to go around, knock on doors, and invite all the neighbors. It’s helpful to tell them about it face to face. It also gives extra opportunity to get acquainted. (Sometimes I have long talks on their doorsteps!)

2) Print up a little paper to leave with them (or attach to doors) to remind them of the day, time, and place.

3) Whatever you serve for desert, make it special and memorable.

4) If there is a prayer request or celebration in the neighborhood, acknowledge that. For example, last night as everyone arrived my dad prayed to give thanks for the food and prayed especially for Harry, our next door neighbor struggling with cancer. We also honored the couple across the street who was celebrating their anniversary.

5) Use name tags. Last night my dad invented a new kind of name tag by cutting paper plates in fourths so they looked like pieces of pie.

Right now I am working on a study guide to go along with Will Our Generation Speak?. I’m looking for practical ideas similar to this one to include. I’d love to hear any you may have! Feel free to leave a comment or e-mail me. Thanks!

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works” Hebrews 10:24

He Has Given Us His Son

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Remember the story of the woman in Luke 7 who wet Jesus’ feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair? Can you imagine being in her position? She experienced the favor, love and protection of Jesus Himself. The huge burden of her guilt was instantly lifted as she heard His voice tenderly telling her, “Your sins are forgiven … your faith has saved you; go in peace.” What an unbelievable privilege and gift.

What if, the next day, you found her sweeping her home, grumbling about something? You would think, What?! You’ve just had intimate personal contact with Jesus Himself and experienced His grace and forgiveness and love … what could you possibly be grumbling about now? Is He not enough for you?

The other day as I was feeling a little dissatisfied about something, a simple thought came into my heart: He has given me His Son.

He has given us … His Son!

If that doesn’t silence every form of internal murmuring and discontentment, then we need to gaze more thoroughly at who Jesus truly is. Having Him, we have everything. Possessing Him, we lack nothing. Let us not allow lesser desires to take our eyes off the only One who truly satisfies.

“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ (Philippians 3:8).”

“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Col 3:1).

Special Trip to Ohio

20130907_164609_22985 The weekend before last we drove out to Ohio for our friend Danielle’s wedding.

20130907_165039_22989 We have been very blessed to have Dani on our team at many Bright Lights conferences both in the States and internationally.

20130907_115449_22954 A highlight of the trip was getting acquainted with Dani’s older brother and sister-in-law who are missionaries in Ukraine, and also with her sister and brother-in-law who are missionaries in Alaska. Dani has told us so much about them and how much they have encouraged her in the Lord over the years. It was special to see their excitement for their little sister, to see the expression on their faces during the “family prayer” on stage, and to see their joy over how the Lord has answered their prayers for Dani. The support, prayer and love of godly brothers and sisters is a huge treasure.

“Give thanks to the LORD for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever.” Psalm 136:1

1,200 People @ Iowa Farm with Duggar Family

20130902_122726_22845 Our friends the Bontragers host a unique event every year at their farm called the “Turning Hearts Celebration,” based off Malachi 4:6.

Home school families from all over Iowa and surrounding states come for a day of great fellowship, hay-rack rides, food, special music, and speakers. It has been exciting to see this event grow. This year topped every other year with over 1,200 people!

20130902_164057_22855 We wondered how that many people would fit, but much prayer went into the day, and the Lord worked it all out. (The Bontragers even served dinner! [smile])

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20130902_174217_22877 It was nice having some friends who are students at the University of Iowa come with us.

20130902_180522_22880 The Duggar family sharing special music

20130902_190954_22892 In the evening Mr. and Mrs. Duggar did a Q&A time and shared a lot of good advice. I think my favorite point that Mrs. Duggar made was how Matthew 18:15-16 revolutionized the way she dealt with tattling with younger children. All the wisdom we need for every area of life is in the Word of God.

It was a good thing the Bontragers had a good sound system because as you can see, not everyone fit in that barn! The Bontragers ended the evening with a concert. If you haven’t heard their family sing before, I recommend you check their schedule here to see if they are coming to your area. You would be encouraged!

It is very encouraging to be with a large group of godly families for a day – to be reminded that God is raising up a generation of ministry-minded warriors!

When we consider the strong opposition to homeschooling in Germany and other nations, we’re reminded to be grateful to God for what He’s given us here. Those of us who were raised in godly homes with much godly teaching have great responsibility. “For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.” (Luke 12:48) May we not lack zeal or focus, but run looking unto Jesus.

… let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus … (Hebrews 12:1-2)

Last Bright Lights Conference of 2013

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Our last Bright Lights conferences of 2013 will be in St Cloud, Minnesota just over one month from now!

Strong in the Lord Conference – October 8-9
Radiant Purity Conference – October 11-12

For more information see here.

“O taste and see that the Lord is good;
How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!
O fear the Lord, you His saints;
For to those who fear Him there is no want.
The young lions do lack and suffer hunger;
But they who seek the Lord shall not be in want of any good thing.”
Psalm 34:8-10

Witnessing with the Duggars at the University of Iowa

20130831_122005_22832 We were blessed to have the Duggars for lunch at the Bright Lights office last Friday!

20130830_133842_22786 It was so fun to have our office swarming with people and fellowship for a few hours.

After lunch, we asked if some of their older children would like to come witnessing with us, and we were delighted that the whole family volunteered to come!

20130830_152903_22797 Here Mrs. Duggar is sharing her testimony and the gospel with a growing crowd at the University of Iowa.

Since many recognized them from their TV show, this provided extra opportunity for open-air sharing, one-on-one conversations, and getting tracts into people’s hands.

My mom greeted a girl who was waiting in line to talk to Mrs. Duggar.
“What’s your name?” my mom asked her.
“I don’t need to tell you that,” she responded. She didn’t seem very happy.
She seemed to have a complaint about the Duggars’ motives and all their kids.
Mrs. Duggar talked to her for several minutes, and treated her with such warmth that her countenance totally changed. By the time she left, she was smiling and wanting to get pictures. It reminded us how “a soft word turns away wrath,” and a loving response goes a long way!

20130830_162652_22819 We loved how the Duggars initiated a time of open-air testimonies and singing, and then interacted with the crowds in such a loving and embracing way. Many good contacts were made with university students! Praise the Lord.

20130830_152155_22791 The Duggar boys did a great job passing out trillion dollar bills with cheerfulness to people walking by. Kids are often best when it comes to passing out tracts. [smile] Which is just another reason why doing ministry as a family is such a good idea. (And the more kids the better. [smile]) As Psalms 127:4-5 says, “Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them … ”

20130830_162615_22815 Jinger had a long conversation with a group of skeptical teens. They seemed to be responding with interest to her words and appreciating the conversation!

20130830_154747_22807 Jana and I had a few interesting conversations with people further down the street.

Since we had a larger group than normal this time we were able to interact with many more individuals on a personal basis. Teamwork is exciting.

20130830_162730_22824 We praise the Lord for the way the Duggars are using their unique position for the glory of the Lord.

20130830_125323_22774 About three months ago Avalon, the younger sister of Bekah May (who has worked with Bright Lights for many years) told her parents she really wanted to meet the Duggar family. (She LOVES their show.) Her family encouraged her to pray about it. So that’s what she began doing. What a special thing it was to see how the Lord gave her the desire of her heart. [smile] My mom commented, “I think the reason the Duggars came for lunch is because of Avalon’s prayers!”

“Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples! Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works! Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!” Psalm 105:1-3