Eclectic Reports

This past month has been a busy time for us, as I’m sure it has been for most of you!

IMG_3094 Our Christmas began right after Thanksgiving when we took our friend Manish (from Nepal) with us to cut down a tree … which led to an interesting discussion on the way home about the tree of life in the Garden of Eden and what that means. =) Manish was a student at a local college and has become a good friend of our family. Even though he lives in another town now, he’s able to visit often.

IMG_3223 We had an encouraging time Christmas caroling with our Bright Lights group, and this lady told us that our caroling made her whole Christmas season! She said she used to carol as a girl, but she didn’t know anyone did it anymore. Praise the Lord for how He directs to the right houses.

IMG_3435 My mom arranged a little Christmas celebration with Joan, our friend in a nearby nursing home.

IMG_3471 Often when you have an opportunity to talk with someone about the Lord, others are also listening! After my dad read the Christmas account to Joan, we began talking to the lady in the other bed whose name was Jill. She hadn’t heard the story very well, but wanted to. We explained that the main point was that God sent His Son, Jesus, to come to be our Savior! Sarah then went back a few days later to talk to Jill more. She read the Christmas story to her again, and they had a nice talk.

IMG_3505 On Christmas Eve, several international friends joined us along with my grandpa and a few from our church. The paper crosses on our Christmas tree provided an opportunity to explain to our guests the purpose behind them: it’s something that many believers are doing this year to remember to pray for the persecuted church. This led into a good discussion about persecution, and I was reminded of the value of having “objects” in our homes which can be used as springboards into conversations.

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IMG_3550 We all thought Grandpa looked great in his new hat!

IMG_3567 Brad and Lindsay Sturm and their six adorable children joined us (along with Christa and Nickie) for dinner after church a week ago Sunday. It was such an encouragement to hear of the church they started in Mexico which is now filled with young, growing believers … the harvest truly is plentiful but the laborers are few! Brad also preached the sermon for our church.

I love it when people take a portion of Scripture and present a perspective I hadn’t seen before. Brad did this with the story of the father of the demon possessed boy in Mark 9:14-29. I was really blessed by it and have listened to it twice.

IMG_3593 A family from Mexico (friends of some of our friends there) were visiting Cedar Rapids to stay with some friends of theirs here. These friends of theirs in Cedar Rapids are also friends of ours (haha, this is sounding confusing!) Okay, let me start over. Due to a complicated connection of mutual friends in both Mexico and Iowa, we were invited to dinner to meet this special family. As we got acquainted, we learned that they are part of a Bright Lights group in Mexico! It was so encouraging to hear how they’d been praying for something for the girls in their church and then they found the Bright Lights curriculum. At the same time they read Will Our Generation Speak? in Spanish, not knowing the origin of the book, but shared how God was using it in their lives. We had a wonderful evening of fellowship. Praise the Lord for how He arranges circumstances to meet the needs of His children.

“Don’t Delude Yourself,” he told me

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While at Menards last week, I saw an older gentlemen walk by leisurely with his cart. I gave him a Christmas tract. He seemed appreciative and I noticed he started reading it right away.

Twenty or thirty minutes later, I saw him again near the front of the store. I smiled and made eye contact, hoping he might comment on the tract.

“Hey, where did you get that little booklet?” he asked me.
Yay! Just what I was hoping for!
I explained that I ordered it online, and that I think it’s important for people to remember the basics of what Christmas is about, and what the Bible has to say about it.
“Well, good for you,” he said.

“So do you have a spiritual background?” I asked him.
He said that he went to the Eastern Orthodox church in town.
“What about you? Do you have a spiritual background?” he asked me.
Yay!
I shared a brief version of my testimony… that when I was six I realized for the first time that “even though I was in a Christian family, that didn’t make me a Christian, and I had to trust Jesus to save me… I wanted to go to Heaven and not to Hell…”

“Well, you have to do a lot of bad stuff to go down there!” he exclaimed.

I referenced a few of the Ten Commandments, commenting on the very high standard it is, and told him that just one sin disqualifies us from God’s presence.

But when I explained the gospel, he replied, “Now don’t delude yourself…”

Hmmm. I wonder what he disagreed with? I thought. I had said that I was trusting in Jesus’ death alone and His gift of righteousness to get to Heaven and not my own good works.

Apparently, his view was that everyone was going to Heaven unless you do something “bad enough” to send you to Hell. So we talked for about thirty minutes in the aisle there about God’s justice, Romans 2, the gospel, and why Jesus came. It was a very nice conversation and he told me his name, telling me to call him if I wanted to talk more.

Since my conversation with him, I’ve been thinking about Matthew 7:13-14. “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

Most people on the broad road think they are headed for Heaven, but if they would listen to God’s Word, they would realize that they are not. Most are also open to talking about it. “Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.” Matthew 9:38

Get GOOD Christmas Tracts!

Some gospel tracts are boring and dry. I don’t even feel like reading them, so why would an unbeliever? The gospel is the most exciting news in the world, and I think it should be shared with enthusiasm and creativity! So when I ran across these fun and tastefully written Christmas tracts, I quickly ordered a bunch for our store. I appreciate their engaging style and their approach of teaching the foundational concepts of the gospel (something our Biblically-illiterate generation really needs!). You can read/purchase them online here if you’d like.

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Christmas provides a very natural opportunity to witness to your dentist, doctor, neighbors, music teachers, local fire station, etc….. We can simply make an “appreciation plate” of cookies, add a Christmasy message (tract) to the top, and drop it off with a warm greeting. I don’t know about you, but this is a great solution for me in reaching people that I want to witness to more than I have.

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Some other recommended Christmas resources:

The Christmas Story from the Bible Scroll is something my mom especially enjoys giving people at the store. She was just telling me the other day how people receive it very well – it seems special to them. (You can print them off yourself – follow the link to see English and Spanish version.) You can also order them glossy and color from our online store here. We sell them in NASB or KJV in a variety of quantities.

“Uncovering the Real Nativity,” is a booklet from Answers in Genesis that I really enjoy giving. I usually share a quick summary of what it’s about to spark their curiosity. (Read it here if you’d like.)

“What are Christmas and Easter All About?” teaches the gospel with very clear and simple language and is illustrated beautifully.

“The Greatest News Ever Told…” is just Scripture–all the way through. When I pass it out, I like to explain, “It’s a big string of Bible verses!” and I have found people to receive it gratefully and with interest.

Who knows? This could be the last Christmas season before Jesus comes back. Let’s give Him ALL our love and energy and pour our efforts into what is on HIS heart–lost souls for whom He died.

” … and you will testify also, because you have been with Me … ” (John 15:27)

Sharing the Gospel at the Mayflower Steps

20140812_070730_29275 We had the privilege in August to go to the location where the Pilgrims boarded the Mayflower in Plymouth, England.

20140812_070724_29274 It was an interesting feeling to be there and think about what must have been going through the Pilgrims minds when they took off.

20140812_101705_29313 This was the last phrase of a plaque put up as a memorial to the Pilgrims overlooking the steps.

While we were there, we decided to see if we could get into a few conversations with people about the gospel. We knew we a great starting place – we could ask them about their perspective on the Pilgrims!

Both of the encounters on the video below ended up being great conversations (most of which happened after we turned off the camera!) I thought I’d put a few bits and pieces from the conversations here for Thanksgiving! I’m sorry it’s a little choppy and windy!

https://vimeo.com/112943779

I received an e-mail from this man later, saying he enjoyed the conversation. Please join me in praying that the Lord raises up laborers unto the [very needy] harvest in England. I believe many are interested in conversing about the true message of the Bible, and very few are sharing it.

University of Iowa / Halloween Evangelism

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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.

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) Which of these four things is most destructive?

a) nuclear bomb
b) sin
c) disease
d) earthquake

2) Is there a cure or solution for these things? 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 can sinners be reconciled to God?

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.

Sharing the Gospel at the University of Iowa

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!

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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.

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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.

Five minute NEA Gospel Outreach Report Video

We’ve had another fantastic day in England and I’m looking forward to blogging about it later when I have time. In the meantime, I wanted to share the latest video that Nickie and I put together about the witnessing outreach at the NEA last month.

Nickie and I always feel sharpened after returning from the outreach at the NEA Convention. We learn a lot from listening in on the witnessing conversations of those who’ve had more witnessing experience than we have!

We’re excited to now give you a little taste of what the Lord did last month in Denver. This 5 minute video has witnessing footage from the booth as well as reflections and tips from team members.

You can also see a really exciting story from the NEA recently posted on Ken Ham’s blog here.

If at first you don’t succeed…

On our free day in between our two conferences last week, we watched a Way of the Master training video and had a discussion on witnessing with the Bright Lights leaders who came in to help with the conferences.

Then we spent the afternoon at a park. Unfortunately, however, there were not enough people there for everyone to witness to. Several girls expressed a strong desire to spend more time witnessing.

Our plan was to have a singing time after dinner, but I casually mentioned to the girls that if they wanted to go somewhere else after dinner to witness instead, I could take a few with me in our minivan. I suggested going to the concert that is held on Thursday evenings in our town square because there are often a lot of junior high and high school kids hanging out there.

20140710_190403_27755 I was surprised when about 17 girls wanted to go! We gathered in the parking lot and divided into three vehicles.

Upon arrival at the square, we found that this particular concert was geared to older people and, in fact, it had just finished. All we found was elderly people walking away with their lawn chairs.

Not exactly what I was anticipating. Hmmm.

It was a bit perplexing to have an anxious group of evangelists and no people to talk to! (It’s in times like these that I wish we lived in southern California or by a beach or somewhere with more people!)

I called Sarah. I talked with Stephen. Finally, we resorted to the mall. It was pretty empty, and we only had a half hour before it closed … but we were blown away by the conversations the Lord arranged! Some of the girls were just glowing on the way out as they were telling me how well their conversations went!

We picked up a gallon of mint chip ice cream, and spent about an hour sharing stories back at the church. I thought some of you would be encouraged to get a little taste of our sharing time, so I took a bit of very casual video footage with my little camera.

The first story is Kaylin explaining how they spotted three teens (two girls and a guy) that they wanted to witness to. While they were trying to figure out how to approach them in a non-awkward way, they noticed a wallet that someone had left on a bench. They picked it up and recognized that it belonged to … guess who? The guy in that group of three teens! Can you think of a better way to get a witnessing conversation started than to return someone’s wallet? [smile] Praise the Lord!

https://vimeo.com/100755778

I was reminded that if at first you don’t succeed in finding witnessing opportunities, pray, and keep persevering, knowing we have a powerful God.

“We give thanks to you, O God; we give thanks, for your name is near. We recount your wondrous deeds.” Psalm 75:1

4th of July Witnessing Report

20140704_174746_27461 A group of friends joined us to share the gospel downtown on the fourth. Praise the Lord He gave many encouraging encounters! We found people were especially drawn to the Evolution Vs God DVDs that we gave to those we spoke with.

20140704_191014_27466 Brad talking with six teens. Although they were goofing off some of the time, he stuck with the conversation, had fun with them, and lovingly communicated the law and the gospel.
“So what do you guys think?” he asked after finishing.
“I’m scared now,” some of the girls said.
That was an interesting yet encouraging response, we thought. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Psalm 111:10).
We explained that it was good they were taking this seriously, and emphasized that God’s message is good news.

Approaching little groups like this is one of our favorite ways to witness at these events. It’s personal and friendly, yet you get to reach several people at once.

On the afternoon of the fourth before we started witnesing, I got a text from a girl that I had witnessed to at the parade the previous week — asking if I’d be at the fireworks. I responded that I would, but then didn’t hear any more from her. I thought it was unlikely I’d be able to find her. But, just as we started witnessing, there she was, calling my name! I was sort of shocked. [smile]
There was a guy with her this time. When I explained to him how we’d met last week, he became very curious. “So what was it that you guys were talking about last week?” he asked.
Realizing this was a good opportunity to witness to him now, I started to share. Then my friend Brad joined the conversation and recognized this guy! Brad said, “Hey, I know you!”
The guy seemed to acknowledge he knew Brad too, but acted awkward.
“At the mall, like three years ago, remember? You were witnessing WITH me!” Brad told him.

Then I remembered this guy too. He had actually joined our witnessing team once about three years ago because another guy on our team was discipling him and brought him along. We had paired him with Brad and they spent a couple hours witnessing together at the mall. How interesting to run into him again while we are out witnessing! Unfortunately, it seemed clear that this young man has fallen away and is not walking with the Lord now. He didn’t want to stick around and talk. But I do not doubt that the Lord caused our paths to intersect last night! So please pray for him. He obviously already knows the gospel.

Prayer request:
In about three hours, our Bright Lights conferences here in Cedar Rapids begin. We have a large number of leaders who have come in to help — there are about forty of us! We’d appreciate prayer for the Lord’s hand to be intimately upon each aspect of this week! It is already going great – praise the Lord! 😀

The NEA Gospel Outreach

20140703_174417_27460 Spiritual battles were being fought in the unseen realm at the National Education Association Convention in Denver, Colorado this past week! Fifteen thousand public school teachers came together, representing 3 million NEA members around the country. Many of these teachers came by the Creation Science Educators’ Caucus where they were given free books and DVDs that Answers in Genesis had donated to the caucus. The most exciting part was engaging in conversation about a topic even more controversial than the Creation and Evolution debate: the GOSPEL.

20140701_132055_27262 Carlos, a history teacher (in white), had such an open heart. He said, “I’m so excited to talk about this. I just don’t want to take your time!” (A very refreshing contrast to others who yell at us or give us nasty looks or comments!)

One of our main give away items this year was Evolution Vs.God. If you haven’t seen this yet, make sure you do! You can watch it online at www.evolutionvsgod.com. I also recommend ordering them here for $2 a piece and giving them out freely. People are very intrigued by it and receive it gladly.

20140702_150517_27295 The guy in the blue cap told me, “I’m SO interested in this topic! I’m just not sure where I stand yet.”

He brought up a medical question that he thought was an evidence for evolution. I wasn’t sure how to answer him, but thankfully Dr. Menton and Dr. Martin both joined the conversation and gave him many answers and explanations. He was very interested! It’s so exciting to start witnessing conversations with people, knowing that behind me are experts and spiritual giants who can jump in and finish the conversation!

One geology teacher told me, “I’m an atheist–I see no evidence for God whatsoever.”
“Oh really?” I said, “Well the Bible says in Romans that we see God clearly by the things he has made…”
I continued, “Is there anything that could cause you to believe in God?”
He said, “Every time I go into a church I ask if there’s a higher power to kill me right now…but it’s never happened. But if it did, I guess that might cause me to believe in God for a split second before I died.”
I asked about his view about the origins of morals.
He said, “Well, I just don’t think there’s someone up there keeping score–that doesn’t seem right at all, or kind!”
“Well if an earthly judge let murderers go free, that wouldn’t be right, would it?!”
He agreed, and this seemed to spark his interested a little.
So I continued to share my testimony—how I was a “good girl” on the outside but a wicked sinner in comparison to God’s perfect standard. I shared how God can be merciful to me—yet a just Judge at the same time—because Jesus died in my place.
To my surprise, he listened with interest!
“You know one thing I’ve always wondered?” he asked me, “What’s the difference between the god of Islam, Judaism, and Christianity?
Interesting comment coming from him, don’t you think?

20140702_145740_27293 Dr. John is speaking here with an Native American young man. This young man and his friend talked to Mirren Martin for a long time the first day, and appreciated the conversation so much they came back and talked for a long time the next day.

20140702_165359_27309 My dad got to come along with me and Nickie this time. Always better when Dad is along. [smile]

20140702_163005_27306 Frank (in white) and James (in pink) talked to this man for probably over an hour. Our goal with these teachers is not to argue science but to share the gospel. Science is just a starting point in the conversation.

It’s clear that many of these teachers aren’t fighting against Creation–they’re fighting against God.

“Would you like a free DVD?” I asked a man who approached our booth, curious about what we stood for.
“Are you a teacher?”
“Yes, I’m a chemistry teacher,” he said.
“Oh, neat! So what are your beliefs about this issue?” I asked. “How do you think life started?”
“Well, I believe in the primordial soup. That’s probably not your cup of tea,” he added, “Not meaning to be funny.”
I smiled.
“So can I ask you a question?” I asked him.
“You’ve already asked me several,” he said playfully.
I laughed.
“So do you think it takes more faith to believe in God or in Evolution?” I asked.
“Oh, well I think it’s easier to believe in God – I mean, that is a simple explanation to everything. But that doesn’t mean that’s the correct view.”

“How do you think morals started?” I asked.
“That’s a good question,” he said, and began talking about his support of alternative lifestyles and disapproval of those who reject them.

Soon we got back to the creation issue and Dr. John joined the conversation, sharing some things about chemistry (which were above my level!), and pointing out flaws in the evolution model.
The chemistry teacher said, “I agree with you, evolution is definitely an uphill battle…” and expressed that it was the harder route to believe.
“So why is it that you choose to believe Evolution?” I asked him.
“Yes, why do you believe the more unlikely option?” Dr. John added.
“It just feels right!” he said, “It feels good to me.”

“So what I’m getting from what you’re telling me,” I commented, “is that you would prefer that evolution was true.”
He agreed.
“Like,” I added, “you would prefer there wasn’t a God?”
He smiled and said, “It just fits my life better! I guess I believe evolution for the same reasons you believe in God – it feels right.”

He began talking about the beauty of the Smokey Mountains, where he recently took a vacation.
I grabbed a Bible and opened to Romans 1. He looked my direction a little playfully, and said, “Read me something.”

I read from Romans 1:19-20 “What may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse…”

“I know you disagree with this,” I told him, “but I believe that everyone knows there’s a God—it’s obvious by the beauty and the design all around us. That’s what the Bible says…”

He said that referencing the Bible was circular reasoning, but Dr. John was quick to point out that he was reasoning in a circular way also.

The chemistry teacher looked me in the eye and stated, “When I die I just become worm food, and I truly believe that.” He wanted to know why I had a problem with him believing what he wants.

I explained, “If this life was all there is, then I would be fine with you believing whatever you want to believe. But … ” (and I saw in his eyes that he knew where I was going with this) “… but we believe that this life isn’t just it. We’re eternal! And we don’t know you very well, but we care about you–”
“You’re trying to save my soul,” he said.
“Well, I’m not!”
“You’re not? … Oh, I see you’re trying to put me on a path where I’ll find salvation …”
I agreed.
“Well,” he said, “I do not doubt at all your intentions or think that you have ulterior motives. And this has been a good discussion,” he said with genuine warmth.
“So the issue really is God,” I clarified. “That’s what it comes down to.”
He agreed.
“Well, I realize that you don’t desire God, but I know that He desires you!” I told him.

This conversation reminded me, once again, that with these teachers it is not an issue of the mind. It’s an issue of the heart. That’s why, at our booth, our goal is not to fight for Creation Science — our goal is to share the GOSPEL. It’s not evolution vs. creation. It’s evolution vs. GOD.

20140703_094149_27385 After two days in one location, we had to move the booth to a different location, about a quarter mile away (in the same huge building). We were a bit concerned about the moving process for a number of reasons. But the Lord, who provides above and beyond, gave us favor in the eyes of the convention center leadership staff and these kind men moved all of our stuff FOR us. Unbelievable! 🙂 (Well, not really, not when you know the Lord.)

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20140703_152023_27441 After setting up the second booth, we continued to have almost non-stop conversations.

20140703_151919_27432 Although this man was skeptical, he was willing to stick around for a while and talk with Tony. He said he discusses these things with his brother who is a Christian! Maybe we were an answer to his brother’s prayers!

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Here Tony is showing this man the chapter on the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus. At the end of this conversation, I gave him our tract on the resurrection of Jesus. At first, he didn’t even want to receive it, but when I told him it was something my sister and I wrote, then he changed his mind and happily took it. He even began reading it right there at the booth! I’d encourage any Christian to write their own little gospel tract. Sarah and I have consistently found that people receive it much more readily when we tell them it was something we wrote personally.

20140703_163711_27458 This girl was extremely open to things of the Lord, humbly admitting her need for Him – what a blessing to talk with her.

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Please pray that the 4,000 DVDs and 4,000 books and booklets distributed to public school teachers are watched and read. Please pray that the Lord convicts hearts and leads them to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

“By awesome deeds in righteousness You will answer us, O God of our salvation, You who are the confidence of all the ends of the earth, And of the far-off seas; Who established the mountains by His strength…” Psalm 65:5