Tuesday, July 24, 2007

But not Without Sacrifice

We just put the children to sleep. It's 10:00 p.m. The first full day of our temporary stay, pre-official start, in Las Vegas is behind us. Many of you know that we were invited to stay in the home of some new friends who worship here with the Spring Meadows Church family. They will be gone for six weeks while we stay at their home, feed the dog, and cut the grass. We were excited for this opportunity because it gives us a chance to be in the city for an extended period of time in order to scope out the housing market, think through what we'll do for schooling, and get to know some of the locals in an informal way.

During this six-week stay we are also trying to spend much time together doing things as a family. We want this initial experience in Las Vegas to be as positive as possible for our children and family as a whole. Today we carried some submarine sandwiches, strawberries and Capri Sun drinks to Mt. Charleston just 35 minutes northwest of the city. We enjoyed temperatures that barely got past 70 degrees at the comfortable elevation of 8243 ft. And what views! We saw portions of God's creation that brought us to a fresh awe of his creative power and genius.

Coming down the mountain we traveled more than 11 miles with the van in neutral. It was just a steady downhill back to the Vegas valley. While we cruised downhill in our over-sized bobsled we experienced incredible chattering in the brakes. I'll be changing out pads and repairing/replacing rotors tomorrow--pray for success!

Beyond the details of what we are doing this week, I wanted to communicate something that struck me during some time of quite thinking yesterday. I had received an email earlier in the day from a friend of our family who is going to support this work through regular prayer and with a three-year financial commitment. I know their circumstances and was amazed that our Lord has moved in them to give toward this work. Here is what I know. They understand the sacrifice that is often involved in the labors of spreading the gospel. They share a conviction that God loves people in Las Vegas. They delight in the opportunity to trust God with all they have. This is tremendously encouraging. This is tremendously humbling. We realized afresh that God is calling many of his people to love others in His name...through us. The sacrifice of others moves us all the more to sacrifice along with them to see God redeem the people of Las Vegas. May God give many more of his people the grace to sacrifice, and may our Lord give us the grace to respond to the sacrifice of others with an increasing willingness to follow Jesus wherever he leads us in this place!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Little Flashing White Light

Hello all. I'm sorry that it's been over a week since my last post. In the past seven days I've been from Phoenix to St. Louis, back to Phoenix, to Las Vegas and back to Phoenix again. God brought much encouragement through the different conversations that we had in each location.

The time in St. Louis was well spent meeting with potential ministry partners, catching up with a couple of dear friends, and spending time in prayer with my partner, Eric Phillips. Through my time in prayer over the last week I've come to realize something about raising funds for a mission work like this one. Jesus told his disciples to see that the fields are ripe for harvest. He then told them to pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers. What I've come to realize through meditation on that scripture is that fundraising actually happens in prayer. Praying to our Lord to send out workers into the harvest is fundraising at its most basic level for those who have already received the call from him to be sent out. I know that there is more involved, but it is at least that.

I want to tell you about the little flashing white light. On my return flight from St. Louis I boarded the plane and greeted the co-pilot. I asked him if there was any severe weather over the Midwest and he told me that there was. I then questioned to see if we would be flying around it as I did on my last flight from Nashville to Denver via south Dallas. He responded, "Nope. We're going straight through it." "OK," I thought, "I'm sure he knows what he's talking about."

The flight attendants were shuffling up and down the isle very shortly after take-off, making an obvious effort to complete the beverage and snack service in quick fashion. One hour into the flight I realized why. We were on top of several storms and the captain called for all passengers and crew to be in their seats. In just a few more minutes our plane was shaking more than anything I've ever experienced. A couple of times I tried to put my drink back down on the tray, but the sudden drop in elevation kept me from finding the tray with my cup. Again, another near death experience for me this month. I hated the feelings in my stomach. I felt like our plane would break apart at any minute. Those of you who have had these kind of flights know what I'm talking about. Outside I could see nothing. Clouds were thick and the sky was pitch black. All I could see out my window was the little flashing white light that perches over the end of each wing. "As long as I can see that light I'm fine," I said to myself. "That means there is still a wing between me and it."

As my fear mounted, though, I didn't want to look at the light for the fear of not seeing it blink the next time. I was praying earnestly for God to be merciful to us in that plane. I just wanted to be back on the ground, in safety. God was merciful; we did land safely after nearly two hours of turbulence.

Then came the news last evening of an Airbus in Brazil that did touch the ground after a flight in a storm, but failed to stop before plowing into a fuel station, igniting a terrible explosion, and ending in the death of more than 180 people. Even some pedestrians who weren't on the plane, who had been on the ground all the while, were killed.

Here is my thought. I continue to think that my security is based on my circumstances. I struggle to trust that I am just as secure in our Lord whether I'm 34,000 ft. in the air or on the ground. He is my shelter, not my perceived security on the ground. I needed this reminder; perhaps you did too.

Please keep us in your prayers, and feel free to email any requests for prayer to us.


Friday, July 6, 2007

Transitions are Hard ( I know it should say "difficult")

On July 4th I decided to go for a quick 13.25 mile bike ride. It was about 114 degrees in the early afternoon. Two miles from the house my bottle of water that had been mostly ice was now completely water. Riding in that heat was a bad idea. I returned safely and decided yesterday to ride 14.25 miles, but waited until nearly sundown to go. It was only 108 degrees then, but the heat coming off the road dried my eyes and melted my ice. This idea turned out to not be much better. What was I thinking? "I need to lose some 24 lbs" is what I was thinking--but there has to be a better way.

The previous paragraph has nothing to do with this entry; it is just a slice of life in the desert. I want to confess this morning that transitions are hard. When my planting partner, Eric Phillips, agreed to join us in this crazy adventure he told me that his greatest concern was the transition that would be involved. He said that his experiences had taught him that transitions are hard. Seven weeks into transition from St. Louis to Las Vegas has made me a believer. But, even so, God has been faithful to remind us of his presence in wonderful and unexpected ways.

Please continue to pray for our family. Pray that God's Spirit would grant our children security in the transition. Pray for our Lord to continue to move in the hearts of his people to support this work through prayer and finances. Pray for me to lead and shepherd my family with the gentle care of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Pray that I'll find work to bring in the necessary income between now and when we begin our ministry in Las Vegas full time--hopefully in October. Transitions are hard, but our Lord is faithful.

Me and Angie

Me and Angie
December 2010