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)!