July 27th is not a welcome day in our house. So much about the time of year--whether the length of the long summer days, the sunshine, the humidity, and even the relative calm of a mid-summer schedule, brings back memories we wish we could escape. It was on this date in 2009 that our son Micah, a happy little 9-month old boy, died as a result of a confluence of events. Many people in grief, or who have endured great suffering, are said to “live in the past.” Because current circumstances create such pain in their lives, some people who have endured great hardship try to avoid current circumstances and hold on to everything about the past that provided them joy. In that vein, we might look back at a particular event and consider its worth to us based only upon the joy or usefulness it brought in that particular moment. For the nine years that have passed since that awful July day in 2009, we have come to painfully associate the attributes of a midsummer day in Minnesota with the memories of our son’s death. Continue Reading
Martin Luther is said to have begun his morning devotions by praying the Lord’s Prayer and the Apostle’s Creed. When I decided to give it a try, the alarming request in the Lord’s Prayer to “forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” put reponsibility on me. Two verses later Jesus said, “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” This is a serious charge with eternal consequences.Continue Reading
This spring my daughter Grace and I had the opportunity to visit Ireland. We were touring the city of Dublin and decided to visit the National Gallery, mostly to view their most famous painting, Caravaggio’s The Taking of Christ. When we found the correct wing of the museum, we saw a series of open doorways leading to room after room, with a painting at the very end. We concluded the painting must be Caravaggio’s so we quickly headed down the long hallway, bypassing every room. When we arrived at the end, we realized it wasn’t the painting we were looking for and discovered that we had missed it. We began walking back through the rooms, more slowly this time, and after finding and viewing Caravaggio’s painting, we took our time browsing through each room, marveling at the beautiful art and treasures they held. Continue Reading
“Keep calm and carry on.” You may recognize these words, having been made popular today on a variety of advertisements and posters. Originally, however, these words had a very serious purpose. They were used on a motivational poster produced by the British government. In 1939, on the eve of World War II, the British government was desperate to provide hope for its people. Hitler’s armies had overrun the Czechoslovak Republic and the Republic of Poland in a matter of weeks. By the summer of 1940, one year later, the Nazi war machine had conquered the rest of Europe—France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway—and had surrounded nearly the entire British Army at the port of Dunkirk.Continue Reading
Lately, I've been thinking about the clichéd phrase, "Count your blessings" as it seems my husband, Jason, and I have been incredibly blessed in recent days, both with the generosity of others and with the anticipated goodness of new endeavors in our lives. Continue Reading
My dad went home to be with the Lord on March 17, 2018. He was 62 years old. Dad was a man who loved Jesus deeply and walked with him closely. He was a man genuinely interested in others in a way that was rare and winsome, and his love was both gentle and strong.Continue Reading
If you read my last blog post you may recall that my wife Sara and I were completely surprised when she found out she was pregnant. We had definitely not planned on adding another child to our family but, nevertheless, here we were getting ready to welcome our new family member into the world. As I fretted about this and that, God began to show me that there was no need to fret, that He had everything under control. At every step of the way, He has continued to show us that His plan was to add this new baby to our family and He would take care of the details. Continue Reading
My husband Jim and I recently attended a celebration of the life of a friend. I was drawn to the kind words of friends and family describing the affect she had on them and the lasting imprint of her life. Of course, she was not perfect and there were bumps and trials along the way, but her life left a significant imprint on many. It was this beautiful legacy that was celebrated.
The very next day, Jim and I were asked to say a few words about our 47 years at Redeemer Bible Church. We found ourselves describing how God had graciously used the life and legacy of Redeemer (which was previously Woodland Hills Bible Church and Maranatha Bible Church before that) in a special way in our lives. Of course, the church is so much more than the building or place of meeting, which also has changed over the years. The church is the people who have come broken, sick, hungry, and weak looking for hope, healing, food and strength and finding Jesus.
And we were just that: a rag-tag group of people seeking truth and desiring to grow together in the Christian way of life. We embraced what became the 25th anniversary slogan, Living Truth, Loving People. As Maranatha, Woodland Hills, and now Redeemer Bible Church, our body of believers has a growing love for the Lord, His Word, and for one another. Forty-seven years ago it was compelling to us and began to take root in our lives. The Word of God was faithfully exposited week after week through God’s sovereignly called shepherds, and the glorious gospel of grace began to change lives, including our own.
Of course, the road in the life of this church, made up of imperfect men and women, has also been marked by bumps and various trials through the years. The trials have been humbling, often painful and confusing, but sovereignly used by God. We have mourned the hurt and loses and often found our words to be inadequate to bring help or relief. But amid pain, our eyes have been turned to our Chief Shepherd and His Word which has never left us. He is continuing His work of healing and sanctification in our lives. By grace, the Lord continues to bring men and women hungry for God and His Word, dependent on one another, and willing to live out the Christian way of life together. It is a work of grace. God and His transforming love will build His church!
What is the legacy that our lives will leave? What is the legacy of Redeemer Bible Church? Thankfully, it is not about numbers, programs, and grandiose buildings. By God’s grace alone it will continue to be about Living Truth, Loving People for another 50 years or 150 years, should the Lord tarry.
I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul makes its boast in the LORD; let the humble hear and be glad. Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together! Psalm 34
Recently, when I did something good for someone, or even thought about doing so, I detected some vain motives. I noticed an ugly desire within me to be recognized by others for the good works, even when I tried to do some of them secretly. In other words, I wanted to get the glory for myself for my acts of kindness instead of giving God the full glory for them. I realized that what I was really doing was robbing God of the glory that is due only to Him. He said in Isaiah 42:8, “I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.” God alone is worthy of glory because He is the One who created us, sustains us, saves us, and gives us His Spirit. He also gives us the opportunity, the strength, and even the will to do all of our works (Phil. 2:13). Everything we have we have received from God (2 Cor. 4:7), so seeking glory for ourselves is the height of arrogance and pride.Continue Reading
Do you panic when asked to . . .
give your testimony in front of a group,
share the Gospel with someone,
pray out loud in a group,
teach a Bible lesson,
or just generally be the focus of attention?