Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Good Bye to 2008; Hello to 2009

2008 was an eventful year.  Of course everyone looks at the world events of this last year and can say the same thing.  For us it was personally eventful. Yet through out the year we were especially aware of God's provision.

One of the things that we learned was that God cares for us no matter what the circumstances.  It has been our experience that when things go poorly we begin to think more about God and how he cares.  But we have made a point of noting his provision and care in good times too.  

Our desire for 2009 is that we will be even more aware of God's provision and care in the coming year.  We desire to see the Gospel in all areas of our lives.  

Saturday, December 27, 2008

5 Browns Piano playing

Just wanted to put this in, watch some amazing piano playing.  

Thursday, December 25, 2008


This is always a special time of the year.  Last evening we had a wonderful Candlelight service at church.  There were several special numbers, Bethany recited a dramatic presentation of the Christmas story from a shepherd's viewpoint.  Then we lit candles as I recited Luke 2 and John 1.  There were a good number of people out with some visitors.  

After the service Renee and I and the girls went driving to look at Christmas lights.  Then we came home and had cookies and eggnog while we each opened one gift.  That has been a tradition our entire married life.  

As I think about this Christmas the over-riding emotion I have is one of gratefulness.  Certainly gratefulness for the gifts that I have received.  But a greater thanksgiving for what God has done.  I have been reminded anew of the great love that God had for us in sending his Son to die in our place.  That remarkable event changed all of history, and truly it changed me.  My gratitude this year is also directed at God's leading in our lives.  This year seemed to be a tumultuous year when it started, but as we have arrived at the end we see the wonderful path that God took us down.  He brought us here to a tremendous church where the people are especially loving.  We praise him for his sovereign plan.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Missionary Christmas

We just walked in the door after a blessed evening.  First Baptist in Portage has a marvelous tradition of having a missionary in during December and having an evening dedicated to giving them Christmas gifts.  The entire church participates.  

This year we had Michael and Katrina Geurink and their four children.  The Geruinks are ABWE missionaries to the upper Amazon in Brazil.  We had a carry-in meal and had time to just talk and get to know Mike and Katrina.  Then Mike presented his ministry for us. To see his heart for these Indians that need the Savior encouraged me.  He told of one couple that had labored as Wycliffe missionaries for 55 years to translate the Bible into the language of the these people.  He was so excited that he could step into this ministry and have a Bible to share and a written language to teach in.  Had that been the end I would have left having been blessed by God.  But there was more.  We had a whole pile of presents on the platform and the Geurinks sat down and opened the gifts.  My heart was stirred as I watched the excitement of the kids and the thankful hearts of the parents as they opened gift after gift.  

Tonight as I write this my heart is so full.  First from the blessing of seeing a young couple sold out for the Lord to take the Gospel to unreached people groups.  Mike's presentation moved me to tears.  Second I am blessed to have such a loving church family that knows how to share their love for others in tangible, special ways.  
Both these blessings remind me of God's tremendous love in sending his Son as a gift to us to reach all the world, of of us were onetime an unreached people.  All I can say is praise be to God on High.

I urge you to pray for this young couple returning for their second term as missionaries.  Pray for their support, pray for their health, pray for their safety.  Most importantly pray for their ministry to souls that need the Savior.  

Monday, December 08, 2008

A REAL Christmas Tree

We went out and cut a Christmas tree today.  That is the way we always like to do it.  Take a nice long walk through the woods across snow covered fields looking for the perfect tree.  There are always many trees that look good from one side but then you walk around and you see how lopsided they are.  There is a real art to picking a tree.  Renee's criteria is simply that there is no bird's nest in it.  We  actually saw a couple of those.  We found a couple that were close to being what we wanted, but did not want to settle for one that was just good enough.  We walked on back to the next field looking for a better one.   It is so nice in the woods with a fresh coating of snow over everything.  

Sarah and Alex went with us looking for the tree.  We had a good time looking.  Finally we found the one that was just right for us.  I pulled out a tape measure (I learned long ago they are much bigger than they look when they are outdoors.)  Yes, this tree would do.  Sarah held the tree while I cut it off at ground level.   Then Alex pulled it back through the fields to the car.  We loaded it in the trunk and tied the lid down.  What a pleasant time it was.

When we got home Alex and I put it in the stand and now have it standing in a corner in the Family room.   We will decorate it later, Renee will fix some hot chocolate, we will have some cookies and put the decorations on it.  The smell of evergreen is permeating the room already.  There is nothing like a real Christmas tree, the artificial ones may look nicer, but there is just something about the tree you picked out, cut down and hauled out on your own.

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