Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Temporary Home Sweet Home

Yes, that's right. We finally found a homeowner who is willing to rent to us for the next four months. Up to now have only come upon homeowners willing to lease for 6-7 months minimum. Our hope continues to be that we might buy a home some time in December. This leaves us with a 3 1/2 month gap between Sept. 5th and mid-December.

We have been praying that God would provide a rental house within a mile or two of the community where we plan on living long term. Our Lord has done just that, and at a great price (for Las Vegas standards). Thankfully the homeowner has agreed to half his normal deposit. We should have the funds we need by Monday in order to move in Sept. 3rd. Pray that all will go smoothly.

Pray for the relationships that we will have with our new neighbors. Even though we will only be there short-term we are praying that God will allow us to connect with three new families and to share our lives with them in the gospel.

We are also meeting several families from the North Las Vegas area that are expressing an interest in being a part of this new worshiping community. Our close proximity will also make nurturing those relationships much easier. Soon I'll write more about our plans for gatherings with these families beginning in late September or early October.

Another reason that we wanted to find a rental home central to what will be our final landing spot is to be able to begin some relationships with the local schools. I am hopeful to do some tutoring at the high school just down the street. Pray that doors will open up in a couple of weeks when I approach the school administration. Please pray for one or two relationships with students there. As much as I want to serve them I'm also looking forward to what I'll learn about the Las Vegas culture from these teenage citizens.

I have been promising to update you on our fundraising progress. September will be a key month as several churches who have expressed an interest in partnering with us will be meeting to make decisions about their budgets for next year. During September many of our personal friends will also be deciding whether and how much to commit to our ministry work as well. Please continue to pray that the Lord of the harvest will send out his workers with full provision.

Our budget for the first 3 1/2 years is around $681,000. The Pacific Presbytery will allow us to begin our work once we have raised around 75%, or $510,000. Thus far we have seen commitments of around $235,000, putting us just about half way to what we will need to begin. As we close in on meeting our funding needs I look forward to updating you regularly on the progress.

My church planting partner, Eric Phillips, arrived in town safely late Saturday night. He and his family are settled into the condo that has been provided for them free of expense while they make their transition. We are grateful to be in close proximity so that we can pray together again regularly.

One final thought: This week I've been pondering the Biblical account of Mephibosheth in the O.T. King David showed unbelievable kindness to this lame descendant of the outgoing dynasty because of his faithfulness to the covenant he had made with Jonathan, Mephibosheth's father. Of course, we are all beneficiaries of God's faithfulness to his covenant promise of redemption. We have been brought near to the table of great David's greater Son. My heart has been experiencing fresh joy over God's kindness. My heart has also been challenged to realize that our position as recipients of the King's grace means that we have only one kingdom to expand...and it is not our own. This touches every area of life as we live at the King's table. Think about it.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Answered Prayers

Last week I asked many of you to pray for several needs. To those of you who were able to take time in prayer, thank you. Here is an update:

1. Several folks took the opportunity to let me know how God's word impacted them through the preaching this last Sunday at Spring Meadows Church here in Las Vegas. I continue to be amazed at God's pleasure to use us as mouthpieces of his grace. Indeed he has stored the treasure of the gospel in clay pots!

2. Eric and Annette Phillips will be making the journey to Las Vegas today. The details for their long-term stay at a condo here are still being worked out, but they have received accommodations for the next 10 days while the kinks are ironed out. We rejoiced to learn that a friend of the ministry paid for their airline tickets as well! Thanks be to God! Angie will be flying to St. Louis early this morning in order to accompany Annette and their four children back to Las Vegas. Please pray for safety, and that Angie will be able to make her connecting flights without any problem. Pray also for safety as Eric drives their van and a few remaining belongings across the country. He hopes to arrive in Vegas by Saturday night.

3. My meeting with the mortgage lender went well this week. It seems as though we will be able to get qualified for a mortgage later this week, and should be able to close on a home in late November or early December. Please pray this week that we will find a home to rent for the next three months.

4. Our oldest was able to complete his placement exams for the K-12 public school here in Las Vegas. Everything went well, and he should begin on-line classes this Monday. I'm sure that we will have more requests for prayer in this area as we begin to see exactly how the on-line classes, course work, and group activities will flow.

5. Today I was able to complete the last of my written exams for ordination. Thank you for your prayers for that too. My heart was warmed as I considered the Lord's Supper in my study and thought afresh about the reality that Jesus, being truly God, but also truly man, laid down his life and took upon himself such a cruel death, and the wrath of God, that I might be seen as righteous before my God. I deserve that death. Thanks be to God for Christ our Passover Lamb!

6. We continue to be encouraged by the process of raising funds in order to begin this ministry work. Please continue to pray with us that God will put it upon the hearts of his people to meet every need. Again, as promised last week, I'll be updating with specifics related to our fundraising in a couple of days.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Potpourri of Prayer Requests

Greetings! I'm just dropping in for a moment to share a few needs in the hope that some of you will lift these needs before our Father this week.

My church planting partner, Eric Phillips, has received an offer to stay at a condo here in Las Vegas for several weeks--for FREE. This is tremendous news, but it isn't final yet. The owner of the condo is working out detais and should have final word for Eric and his family soon. Please pray that this opportunity will be a reality for thier family. They have housing in St. Louis throuth Friday, August 24th. Please also pray that our Lord will give them safe travel, especially for their newborn baby boy.

We are on the process of seeking pre-approval for a home mortgage. We have an interview with a lender this week. Please pray that our meeting will go well, and that we will be able to obtain a loan with good terms. We are hoping to close on a home in late November.

This week I'll be taking the last of my written examinations for ordination to the gospel ministry. Please pray that my study will not only be a means to an end, but that I will be all the more encouraged and built up in Christ our Savior. I'll be tested on 2000 years of Church history, the Lord's Supper, and baptism.

Please pray for our oldest son this week who will be taking a placement exam in order to enroll in Nevada's K-12 school. We were excited to learn that he will be able to attend this school tuition free.

We continue to watch in amazement as our Lord gathers together the necessary funds to support this work for the first few years. We are finding that many people are giving sacrificially as they trust God with us in hopes of seeing many Las Vegans submit to the loving Lordship of Jesus. We are so encouraged, and humbled. I'll be providing a more specific update on the finances in a week or so.

Finally, I'll be preaching in Las Vegas this weekend. I'm preaching from Matthew 9:1-8. Pray that God's people will be strengthened through His Word, and that those outside the Kingdom might find repentance and faith as they hear afresh that Jesus has authority on the earth to forgive sinners, to make peace between man and God.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Surprised at the DMV

Who says, "Nothing good happens at the Department of Motor Vehicles"?

If you're like me you dread having to put together the necessary paperwork in order to get in line so that you can get a number to be in another line and wait...for a long time until some kind employee of the state looks at your paperwork only to tell you that you don't have what you need, and will have to return again with something else when you get it together.

Today I ventured out to obtain a Nevada state driver's license so that we can enroll our oldest son into school. Thankfully, in Nevada the person you encounter in the first line, who will give you a number for the next line, checks to see if you have your papers in order.

I didn't. One paper was missing an official seal. Another version of the same document had the seal, but wasn't an original. My third trip to the car to look through my medical file brought victory, though, and I was able to get into the second line.

Just then Angie called. She had finished grocery shopping earlier than expected and needed me to swing back by the store in order to take her and the children home before the frozen garlic bread cooked itself in the Nevada heat. No problem. With hours to wait I'd be able to make that trip and return to the DMV in no time. Problem. When I returned an hour later my number had been called just three minutes earlier. Thankfully, another citizen had left their upcoming number crumpled up on a counter top so I was able to use that without having to start completely over.

I would soon discover that God was at work. When I woke up I would not have expected to see God at work in the dreaded trip to DMV (except in the miracle of just getting through the ordeal). I would not have expected to see God answer a prayer request we've had for some time. But, God was at work.

Just after I took my seat I was joined by a young couple with their baby boy in his stroller. We began to chat. I learned that they are one of the many thousand families moving to Nevada this month. They moved to Vegas in order to begin teaching at the Andre Agassi College Prep Academy, a school that Andre began in order to reach out to at-risk youth in his native city. The answer to prayer came in discovering that this husband and father will be teaching African drums at the school, and at a community center on Sunday afternoons. He agreed to provide private lessons for our oldest. This has been one of our prayers, that we would find a percussion instructor.

We are praising our Lord for this connection, and praying that much more will come of it as we join the drum circle at the community center in a couple of weeks. Pray that many opportunities will open up for us to share the gospel to God-prepared hearts as we look to begin many new relationships in North Las Vegas.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Loving Others for the Sake of the Gospel

OK. Who wants to look inside my heart? Not me!

This afternoon our family enjoyed a beautiful drive through the Red Rock Canyon just west of Las Vegas. Absolutely breathtaking! I've posted a couple of pictures. Just before our drive we stopped at a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant for some lunch. Over our meal Angie and I were talking about ways in which we will try early on to integrate into our new community. One of the things we spoke about is my desire to tutor in the high school just down the street, as there is a tremendous shortage in Las Vegas schools for teachers who specialize in the sciences and mathematics. For those of you who don't know it, I love math. Pray that those doors will open.

I told you that so that I can tell you this. You'll remember that the purpose of this blog is to communicate our progress and to share the challenges of our work. I'm finding again and again that progress at this stage of the work (and no doubt through a lifetime of ministry) must take place at the heart level. After we returned home from our short day trip I was watering some new grass seedlings at the home where we are house-sitting. At once our daughter came out the door looking for help with her "floam" that granny just shipped to us and our oldest son asked me to help him install some new software for a network card that my brother sent in the mail. I gave a half-hearted, "Yes, I'll be right in to help." I didn't want to help. I was tired.

Just then I realized that the desire I have to tutor young school boys in order to love them as image bearers, and to demonstrate the truth of the gospel, is unmatched at times by my desire to demonstrate the truth of the gospel to my own children through loving service to them. Why is it like this sometimes? I can't answer that, but can only thank our Lord for the grace to realize the need I have for repentance and growth.

Pray that we will be known as Christ followers by the love we have one for another, as well as the love we show the lost.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Dinner's Ready

Here's what those words assume. God has provided food. Yesterday we went to the grocery store, filled up our cart with necessary ingredients, and paid for them. God provided a vehicle for us to drive that food home. When we arrived it all went into a cold refrigerator for safe keeping. This afternoon Angie sliced, diced, boiled, and baked. The dinner table stands ready for our plates, our silverware and our drinks of safe and refreshing water. Of course, for months before God watered the fields, fed the cows, and blew the wind that led to this bounty.

I was just sitting here thinking about all the things I hope to see happen. I was just thinking about the various provisions yet to be realized in order to begin this work in a new city. And into my want came these words: "Dinner's ready." How thankful I am to hear that when I consider all of God's care represented in turkey fold-over and broccoli.

We are praying for our Lord to work out the details of financing for a home purchase in late November or early December. Please pray that things will go favorably with the mortgage company this week and next, and that we will be able to organize our down payment by then. It will be a few days until we get word on our application for prequalification.

I don't know what some of your might be waiting for today, or lacking. I realize that some may be without the meal they hoped for. I hope that when you hear certain words throughout the day you'll be reminded of God's care even as you trust him for what remains to be realized.

I've got to run. My family is waiting for me in the dining room. Dinner's ready.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007


My how I hate that word.

I hate to hear, "Wait."

My church planting partner, Eric Phillips, after catching up on some tasks that we've split up this week, asked me a great question yesterday. He said, "What are we supposed to be doing right now?" My reply: "Nothing, you are doing everything you can be doing right now."

Eric is studying for his ordination exams, following up with many friends who have shown an interest to support the beginnings of our ministry in Las Vegas, he is preparing to move his family west, and doing a variety of odd-ball activities related to this preparation phase of our work.

"No," I told him, "I'm wrong. You are supposed to be doing something right now. You and I are both supposed to be waiting. "

I haven't ever thought about how active the state of waiting can be. In the Psalms (27, 31, 130 just to name a few) the writer often calls the nation, the needy, the oppressed, and the weak to wait upon the Lord. What does that mean? I'm beginning to discover that it involves more than finding something else to do while you wait for your prayers to be answered.

The Biblical picture is one of continued, active waiting. Many of you have already begun to support our work and are eager to hear stories about how the gospel is advancing in North Las Vegas. So are we. But, for now, while we look to see how our God will supply every provision necessary to begin our work I want to invite you to do something with us--wait. Wait upon the Lord with us in prayer that the many pieces to our transition will come together in good time. I'll be sharing some more specifics later this week. Until then, take courage in our Lord as we wait upon him!

Me and Angie

Me and Angie
December 2010