Tuesday, January 30, 2007

On Being Wholly His

When the Galilean boy brought his bread to the Lord, what did the Lord do with it? He broke it. God will always break what is offered to Him. He breaks what He takes, but after breaking it He blesses and uses it to meet the needs of others. After you give yourself to the Lord, He begins to break what was offered to Him. Everything seems to go wrong, and you protest and find fault with the ways of God. But to stay there is to be no more than just a broken vessel - no good for the world because you have gone too far for the world to use you, and no good for God either because you have not gone far enough for him to use you. You are out of gear with the world, and you have a controversy with God. This is the tragedy of many a Christian.

My giving of myself to the Lord must be an initial fundamental act. Then, day by day, I must go on giving to Him, not finding fault with His use of me, but accepting with praise even what the flesh finds hard. That way lies true enrichment.

I am the Lord's and now no longer reckon myself to be my own, but acknowledge in everything His ownership and authority. That is the attitude God delights in, and to maintain it is true consecration. I do not consecrate myself to be a missionary or a preacher; I consecrate myself to God to do His will where I am, be it in school, office or kitchen, or wherever He may, in His wisdom, send me. Whatever He ordains for me is sure to be the very best, for nothing but good can come to those who are wholly His.

May we always be possessed by the consciousness that we are not our own!!

Watchmen Nee

The Normal Christian Life
Taken from from Volume 26 of 'Send!', the quarterly publication put out by Gospel For Asia.

Photo Credit

Monday, January 29, 2007

Mission Bible School - Sep. 29th-Oct 1st

When Friday came, in some ways it felt as if I'd been at YBS forever, and in other ways, I could hardly believe we were living the last day of Mission Youth Bible School 2006. It seemed impossible to me that such close relationships could be developed over such a short time when most of us came as complete strangers to each other. Working, studying, thinking, praying, singing, learning, and sharing together for a week created a unity in purpose that I thought was so beautiful! This unity made this a rather bittersweet day. Knowing it was the last time all of us would be together like this side of eternity was hard to think of, and yet the memories of things experienced that day made it one I wouldn't trade for anything!

The sessions on Friday were in many ways less intense which I was grateful for. They didn't impact me nearly like some of the conversations we had around meals that day, and like the evening spent in Old Town, Ft. Collins, yet I gleaned many little tidbits that have really provoked thought since returning home.

Steve Byler touched on something that I've wondered about for a long time. He spoke on six different giftings and style in service, and how each one of us play a particular role in the body of Christ. Phil spoke about this some on Thursday as well, and the basic summery was that we need to serve God in the capacity He has given us, and not compare ourselves with how others are being used of God. The six areas he touched on were evangelistic/confrontational, (evil vs. truth,) testimonial, interpersonal, (personal friendships with the intention of communicating Christ,) invitational, (inviting people to events and into relationships with people who can help,) and service, (assisting people in a place of need with whatever resources you have.) Being stretched outside of our comfort zone is a very needful thing at times, but his point was that we must not condemn ourselves for not having an evangelistic or teaching gift, for instance, but are rather just serving in ways that don't seem to bring immediate fruit. Some plant the seed, some water, and others oftentimes bring in the harvest. Living a Spirit-led life needs to be our only concern, and the way God uses us we need to trust completely to Him.

Phil's afternoon session started out with another walk - I think designed this time to wake us up and get the blood flowing! It did feel good! Before we left, all the chairs and tables were rearranged in a circle and a scary looking stool was set up front. We were left to wonder what the purpose of it all was until we got back! Shortly thereafter, Phil announced it was time for a testimony meeting! :-) This wasn't a "who-ever-wants-to-come-up-and-share-meeting," but a "you're-first-and-we're- going-in-a-circle!" We had to clip an equally scary looking microphone to our collar, and then tilt our head just right when speaking so as not to blow everyone's ears out, or make them wish for a hearing-aid! Ok, maybe I'm exaggerating a bit - this group was almost like family by Friday, but still, I never have liked public speaking! Being second in line didn't help matters any, but it still wasn't as bad as it could've been! Nevertheless, if stretching us outside of our comfort zone was Phil's intent, he certainly succeeded!

During our last session time before supper, we watched a video put out by 'Way of the Master 'on street preaching. This wasn't an instructional video like the other ones I've watched by by Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron, but rather just a compilation of video footage taken of situations we might face that evening on the streets. Hecklers, gangs, cult members, and severe opposition by rowdy crowds was shown in detail, and prepared us well for much of what we faced that evening. Though it wasn't as intense as some of the video footage shown, it gave a fairly accurate picture of much we experienced.

Supper time that evening was one of my favorite parts of the day. The weather was simply gorgeous, and we all ate outside on the picnic tables. Several of us stayed talking for over an hour sharing testimonies and witnessing experiences. One of our principles that week was central in the conversation, and the testimonies he shared of God's working on the streets were such an encouragement to me! I was excited about the opportunity that evening, but rather nervous as well, and his testimonies of God's faithfulness were so timely! He told story after story of God's move among the people there, and how it was always when he felt at his weakest, God's grace proved the strongest. His exhortation to not trust in our own strength and knowledge, but in the Lord for every word we were to speak to the lost that evening was the best encouragement he could have given to us!

The last couple hours that evening before hitting the streets we spent in singing and prayer. That last time of quieting our hearts together before the Lord, and beseeching His Spirit upon our evening is something I don't think I'll ever forget! The power of united prayer among God's children is such a joy to be part of!

About 9:00pm we headed to Old Town, and thus began one of the most exciting, stretching, challenging, and heartbreaking times I've ever experienced. That town came alive in the evening, and at midnight you would've thought it was rush hour! Hundreds thronged the streets, and the lines at the bars and nightclubs stretched well onto the sidewalks. Almost every fifth shop was one of these establishments, and as the evening progressed, drunkenness and debauchery prevailed everywhere you looked. Sodomites, lesbians, cult members, and satanists were a common sight, and cat calls, shouts, taunting, and cursing were almost continuous at times. People knew why we were out there, and they were not happy!

Here's a few quick snapshots into the lives of a few of those I talked to that evening.

Andy - a young college student and admitted agnostic. He was not opposed to Christianity, but very skeptical. He's studied many religions, and honestly told us he didn't know what to believe. Life was absolutely wonderful to him, and he saw no reason to change. He was happy, enjoyed talking to us, very friendly, but completely blind to his need of a Saviour.

Laura - a second-grade teacher, said she used to be a Christian, but had completely lost faith in the validity of God's Word. She's couldn't understand why unbelieving Jews could go to hell when they believed in the same God that Christians do. Even when we explained to her that they were rejecting God by rejecting His Son, she couldn't understand why He would judge that. She couldn't embrace a God who would let children be abused and starved, and a God who would send "good moral people" to hell.

A young man, half-drunk, and completely convinced we were out there for selfish purposes, hardly let us speak to him. In between curses, he insisted that earning brownie points with God was our only motivation, and thus all of Christianity was a big self-centered hoax.

Three people in one town amidst a world teeming with millions on their way to a Christless eternity. The majority hardened...most refusing to let us speak with them....many receiving tracts and then grinding them into the dirt with their heel.... That evening it became a little clearer to me why many people see America as one of the hardest mission fields. People have heard the Gospel and rejected it. Their love of sin drives them to nearly animal behaviour. The last thing they want to hear is that their sin is going to be judged.

Not all were hardened. Some, like Andy were willing to talk and be reasoned with. A few requested prayer. A couple more thanked us for what we were doing. What the fruit of that evening will be, only God knows, but it thrills my heart to the depth that I was able to be a very small part of the advancement of His kingdom! I earnestly hope for many more such opportunities!

I believe we left Old Town around 1:00am. It was told me that the partying continues until around 4:00am, but by the time we left, most were too drunk to be reasoned with. Despite my extreme weariness, sleep fled for a while that evening as I considered the claims of Christ on my life. The needs of this world are great, and an utterly consecrated life is what God will use to meet those needs. Am I willing to go with Christ all the way?? What price am I willing to pay to see the salvation of souls? These questions still burn deep in my heart, and motivate me onward and upward to continually give my all to the One who is worthy!!

Saturday was a day of catching up on sleep, journaling, and fellowship with the few remaining students who hadn't left that morning. A few of us talked about going up to RMNP and doing some more hiking, but somehow or another that never materialized. I was glad, as it gave me the opportunity to spend quite a bit of time with Cheri that evening which was mutually encouraging! There's nothing quite like a nice supper with a good, not-often seen friend!

Sunday morning's church service flew by as by then my body was well-accustomed to sitting all day! Before I knew it, I was seated back on a 737 jet plane headed back to MN where my family eagerly awaited my return. 9:30 that evening I landed in Minneapolis, 90 minutes from home, and a lifetime away from all I knew God wanted to continue teaching me! I've seen His faithfulness over and over in continuing to take me on in the things I learned, and I anticipate seeing His continued leading and teaching! He is truly worthy of all I have to give. May the Lamb that was slain receive the reward of His suffering!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

A poem....

I came across this today on a dear friend's blog, and was so blessed! May you be inspired as well! It so accurately portrays the battles that often go on in the human heart during the testing and trying times Satan brings our way. Satan's attacks are strong, but the grace of our Lord yet stronger! May you be encouraged to continue pressing on amidst the heat of the battle!

In the wilderness I languished
And grew weak, the battle strong,
Drew on my strength 'till I was spent
I felt I couldn't go on.

But would I appoint a captain
To Egypt lead me back
Into the bondage that I'd known?
Nay! That a darkened track.

Would I provoke the Lord and say
I cannot win against
This giant You have sent my way?
Nay! Dangerous recompense.

Oh Lord, renew me, strengthen, stay,
My High Rock and my Hope!
Take me on upward toward that goal
That's in the eternal scope.

A table in the wilderness
My Lord has set for me,
Where I can draw upon His truth,
That will set my spirit free.

Mold me, oh Lord, by what You send
I trust in You today
Your joy, Your peace, Your hope and light,
Will ever be my stay!!!
-Rachael Lofgren

Friday, January 26, 2007

Mission Bible School - Sep. 28th

Thursday marked the day when I started to really feel an overload of head knowledge and a need to start practically applying things to my life. As much as I enjoyed the times of intense teaching and spiritually rich atmosphere, I started to look forward to going home. As wonderful as this time of seeking the Lord was, I was really anticipating being able to incorporate what I learned into my day to day life.

Thursday was also the second day I helped lead worship. It was stretching again, but this time there were two other guys who really knew what they were doing. I could just hide behind them on all the songs I didn't know! :-) Thanks Joe and Jonathon!

So far I haven't said much at all about Steve Byler's sessions. I enjoyed them very much, but found it slightly harder to apply to my own life in an intensely practical way like Phil made possible. Thursday was a bit different, though. This was my favorite session of his as I really felt it laid some groundwork for the street witnessing we would be doing the following evening.

The first thing he did was re-work a common idea concerning witnessing approaches. One thing I've struggled with is the idea that all witnessing has to be confrontational and in-your-face type boldness. Some believe this is the only way to approach someone deep in sin, and if you don't proclaim law and judgement first, you're promoting easy-believism. Steve took us on a journey through Scripture, and painted an awesome picture of Jesus' approach to people and how He dealt with them. He brought our attention to the fact that the only time Jesus approached anybody in a harsh, bold way, was with the self-righteous hypocrites. Every other one of His dealings with sinners illustrates tenderness, love, and compassion. He also spent quite a bit of time telling us of experiences he had in dealing with the unsaved, and the many, many heartbreaking stories surrounding their lives. While we often pass quick judgement for someone's outward appearance and lifestyle, automatically assuming they are hardened and hopeless, they are often some of the most hurting, broken people that only love and tenderness will win. He showed us how desperately we need the eyes of Christ when dealing with eternal souls.

During the week, both Steve and Phil took great lengths to burn one central truth into our lives. That being our desperate need for the Word of God. An intimate knowledge of the Bible is the first and primary stepping stone to being effective in the kingdom of God, and without it, we drift extremely easily into human reasoning. All throughout the week Phil would tell us stories of people and situations, than ask us what we thought should be done. After we stretched our minds to their limit, Phil would turn to a passage in Scripture and show us plainly how we were leaning on our human understanding for the answers. These crystal clear truths straight from the heart of God often blew me away completely! It is so adequate for every problem we will ever face in life!

The object lesson that Phil used that afternoon has been one that I don't think I'll ever forget. In the midst of a mind-twisting question, Phil jumps up from his stool and says "follow me!" He walks towards the door while we all sit in our seats in stunned silences, not sure what he was up to. He pokes his head back in the door, and urges us again. "We're going for a walk," he matter of factly announced.

During our very brisk, six block walk, we animatedly discussed what Phil had up his sleeve this time. Ideas flew back and forth, while the blocks flew under our feet despite the very warm weather. Back at the church, we all eventually found a seat again after a rush to the water cooler in the back. Phil's first of all wanted to know what we thought his purpose was. By now we had well caught on to the theme of exercise and he congratulated us for the correct answer. He then pointed out the result of our exercise. The first thing nearly all of did after coming back was get a drink. The exercise produced a thirst, and he said the very same is true of our Christian life. The more we exercise ourselves in the things we have learned and in the disciplines of the Christian life, the greater will be our thirst after the water of God's Word. Soaking ourselves in the Word will in turn better equip up for the exercise. Just as a dehydrated runner is no good in a race, a dehydrated Christian is no good for the kingdom of God.

Though I could share so much more about the sessions themselves, I'll only touch briefly on one more thing that greatly impacted me. Living our lives completely for the glory of God was emphasized the very first day, and this was brought a step further the rest of the week by stressing how easily it is for a Christian to fall into the rut of dividing his life into sacred and secular portions. It's very easy for us to consciously glorify God through prayer, Bible reading, church attendance, and ministry, but what about the day to day, normal things in life? Does brushing our teeth really bring glory to God?

Both Phil and Steve drilled into our heads that if we fail to offer these mundane, daily things up to the Lord as an act of worship, it will be one of the greatest hindrances in our spiritual walk. They explained that this is the secret to walking with God throughout our everyday life and not losing the blessings received during our times spent alone with God.

After supper that evening, we again found various vehicles and headed over to the new house of a young couple in the church. Because YBS had been going on, there was no one available to help them move that day, so we all decided to give them a hand! Within a couple hours the guys had loaded a moving van up with the large furniture and moved it over, and us girls helped unpack some of the kitchen stuff. After it was all said and done, the guys pooled together and brought us all out to Starbucks. Sitting around, visiting, and sipping coffee was a neat last free evening together. The next night we knew we'd be on the streets, and many were leaving the following morning. We found it amazing how just one week of corporately seeking the Lord together brought such a closeness and unity. The body of Christ is truly an amazing thing!

One more post should finish up this series just in time for the commencement of a new one! I plan on covering our Mexico trip the same way, and am excited to see what the Lord has planned!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

I am His and He is Mine!!!

Loved with everlasting love, led by grace that love to know;
Gracious Spirit from above, Thou hast taught me it is so!
O this full and perfect peace! O this transport all divine!
In a love which cannot cease, I am His, and He is mine.
In a love which cannot cease, I am His, and He is mine.

Heav’n above is softer blue, Earth around is sweeter green!
Something lives in every hue Christless eyes have never seen;
Birds with gladder songs o’erflow, flowers with deeper beauties shine,
Since I know, as I now know, I am His, and He is mine.
Since I know, as I now know, I am His, and He is mine.

Things that once were wild alarms cannot now disturb my rest;
Closed in everlasting arms, pillowed on the loving breast.
O to lie forever here, doubt and care and self resign,
While He whispers in my ear, I am His, and He is mine.
While He whispers in my ear, I am His, and He is mine.

His forever, only His; Who the Lord and me shall part?
Ah, with what a rest of bliss Christ can fill the loving heart!
Heav’n and earth may fade and flee, firstborn light in gloom decline;
But while God and I shall be, I am His, and He is mine.
But while God and I shall be, I am His, and He is mine
-George W. Robertson

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Some noteworthy links

Just recently I've been blessed and encouraged by some things I've come across, and wanted to share them with you all. These links are in my sidebar (or soon will be) for your future reference!

Our High Calling is written by a sweet Canadian girl I've gotten to know some over the past year. Her posts are insightful, heart-felt, and full of many gems. 'That We Be Found Faithful' was one of my favorites. An unashamed, bold testimony for Christ is rare these days, and I appreciated how this article lifted that up. Stop by and receive a blessing!

Things Old and New is a brand new blog started up by a friend of mine. Full of deep thoughts and soul-stirring articles, expect to be convicted, challenged, and changed! You YBS students will especially appreciate 'Worship and Missions' as a fitting reminder to much of what we learned.

I stumbled across 'Finally Free in Him' this last summer while looking for an Amy Carmichael quote. Full of challenging nuggets, and practical life applications, Tina strives to bring Christ into all she does. Her most recent post, 'Divine Interference' was a challenge to me to take every interruption and change of plans with trusting faith in the orchestrating hand of God.

Finally, the older sister of a dear friend of mine just completed her first harp recording. We just received our copy about a week ago and have greatly enjoyed it! It is very soothing, relaxing, and worshipful. A sound clip can be heard here.

God bless you all as you strive for His highest!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Mission Bible School - Sep. 27th

Wednesday was by far one of my favorite days out of the week. For a break from our normal classroom setting, Phil took us hiking up in 'Round Mountain,' a foothill of the Rockies. Directly after lunch all 27 or so of us managed to pile in various vehicles, and drive the half-hour to the base of the mountain. For those of you who have visited Estes Park before, you'll know what I mean when I say the drive was a treat in itself. It was simply breathtakingly beautiful! Having only been there once before, I savored every minute of the drive with the sheer cliffs rising on either side of the road and the little stream meandering it's way alongside. God's creation is so spectacular!

Once arriving there, we all grabbed our Bibles, energy bars, and Gatorade. After Phil's serious talk on what to do if we came across mountain lions or rattlesnakes, (yup, for real!:-) we set out. 27 of us heading up a narrow mountain trail was quite the sight, but we managed alright! :-)

Phil's purpose in this trip was multifaceted. Mental, spiritual, and physical exercise had been the focus of many of his sessions so far, and he wanted to give us a taste of all three on this hike. We hiked for about two hours, stopping every 15 minutes or so while Phil brought our attention to the many parallels of the Christian life we encountered as we journeyed up this mountain. Because of the object lesson type teaching, I think these sessions probably stuck with me the most and have been the most practical in my life.

Our first stop was only about 10 minutes up the mountain. My poor Wisconsin lungs were already heaving from the altitude, and I was soooo grateful for a chance to catch my breath! Once we all found a seat other than on top of thorns or briers of some sort, Phil asked us if we were tired. Most of us assented, and he then asked us if we felt guilty for being tired. I suppose the reasons for this could be many, but in any case, it was a thought-provoking question.

The point of the question struck very, very close to home for me. In ministry, whatever sort it may be, one of Satan's #1 tactics in defeating us is physical and spiritual burnout. Phil explained that when God gives us a task to do, He usually fills up our cup to overflowing, and along with disciplining our time to accomplish as much as possible, we must also discipline ourselves to take the rest and spiritual refreshment our body and soul needs. There are always going to be many more needs around us than we can possibly meet, and there comes the temptation to let these things drive us until we drop, rather than letting the Spirit of God lead us in every decision and action. He brought the perfect example of our Lord Jesus Christ as an example. His service was in demand probably more than anyone else who lived, and yet He took time apart to rest with His disciples, and spend time in prayer.

I left home desperately in need of this word from the Lord. I had just finished one of the busiest months of my life, and I was so in need of a rest. I'm the type that tends to handle stress well for awhile, but there comes a point where I near the snapping point of my endurance. I was very near that point, and I realized that it was because of my lack to trust the things I couldn't do, or needs I was not able to meet in the Lord hands. I was not neglecting my time with the Lord in the morning, but I was letting the stresses and demands of the day steal my joy and peace completely away. Praise the Lord for this timely season of rest and spiritual refocusing!

There's no way I can cover all the little lessons brought into this hike, but there is one more I want to mention. That of physical exercise. At our last stop near the top of the mountain, Phil divulged one of his motives for bringing us up. He wanted to show us how out of shape we were, and he proved that to me well! I really struggled with the hike, and part of my problem was that I had allowed myself to become dehydrated before going. I ran out of water half-way through, and the dry air and elevation soon started seriously draining my stamina. Fortunately someone had extra water with and the rest of the hike was down-hill. I made it fine, but it only brought the lesson Phil gave us closer home.

He started out by describing in great detail some of the conditions we were going to face on the mission field, and stressed the necessity of keeping our bodies in shape and available for the Lord to use wherever He should send us. He contested the argument that many people use in quoting I Tim 4:8 "Bodily exercise profiteth little, but godliness is profitable for all things...," and explained that many people fail to notice the context of this passage. The rest of that verse explains the reason why. "... (godliness), having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come." Paul is comparing temporal things to the eternal, and in an eternal perspective, exercise is worth very "little" in comparison with the "all things" of eternity. Yet, it does profit for that little bit - our time here on earth, and we must not neglect the proper care of our bodies. It is not to be our priority or focus in life, but it is needful if we want to keep our bodies available for God's service.

Before heading down, we took the opportunity to take group pictures. Someone suggested that we divide up into states in the normal YBS fashion, until we realized that there would only be 1-3 people in each picture! That idea was pitched and we took girls, guys, and group pictures! How fun to all fit in one!

By the time we got back to the church that evening, we were more than ready for the barbecue they had waiting for us. I don't think a hamburger every tasted better! :-) Nothing was scheduled for that evening, and us youth stuck around the church until about 10:30. I was able to catch up on journaling for a couple hours, then joined the rest for another couple hours of singing. Sitting together in a circle, singing, playing, and worshipping the Lord together was a fitting close to a tiring day. I enjoyed the informality and how it drew us together as a group and prepared us for the practical application we were to experience later in the week.

Lord willing, I'll be finishing up this series in the next couple weeks. I know I've been very sporadic at posting, but a new adventure is forcing the conclusion of this one! Feb. 2nd I'll be flying back to CO to join a team of students from YBS and others from the church there, and we'll be driving down into Chihuahua, MX for a week of ministering among the Tarahumara Indians. We'll be hiking down into the Copper Canyon delivering food and building supplies to a very remote tribe, and building a school house for them. I'll be facing the physical conditions and strains Phil warned us about, and by God's grace, I'm going to be better prepared this time. If the Lord brings me to your mind, I would deeply appreciate your prayers as I spend these final three weeks in preparing myself physically and spiritually. My desire is to be a vessel, completely ready to be used by God in whatever way will bring Him the most glory!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


"Begin. Act. Awaken to the next thing in the path of known duty. Walk in the light. Act out your faith. Keep up repeated acts of faith. Put faith to work.

Above all - do something - that next thing. Do it today - here and now. Keep on. Keep on keeping on. Go forth - anywhere, providing it be forward. Cry aloud. Spare not. Be earnest. Be hot for God. And then hotter. Stir into flame the gift that is in thee. Refuse all deadly indifference. Beware of the cooling-off process.

Spare yourself no pains. Go and sell and give. Speak and sing. Keep your heart in heaven and your head in the book. Put your hand to the plow - and to the purse. Push the battle. Let your very talk, day in and day out, tell for eternity. Burn out for God."
-L. E. Maxwell

Friday, January 05, 2007

Special Edition!! Reflections On The New Year.

I know this is a few days beyond the calender's roll-over, nevertheless, these reflections are applicable (at least for me) every day of the year. Though not the annual (late:-) letter our family will be sending out shortly, this is my version, in my words, written just for you!

This last week has been considerably slower, and has given our family extra time to spend together. Whether it be working, playing our instruments together, music lessons, ice-skating, a whole meal of junk-food and snacks, or just being hilariously goofy and silly together as only families can do, many precious memories have been made. As I look back over the past year, my heart is filled with gratefulness for all the ways the Lord has drawn us together. Though not without struggles, I can truly say this year has been the best in that respect. Through times of relationship building fun, heart-binding tragedy and grief, special trips, and times of seeking the Lord together for desperately needed wisdom, this year has been full of opportunities to love, live, and grow together. I am so grateful for this precious season of life I am living right now, surrounded by those who I love the most!

Here are just a few snapshots highlighting the extra special times and memories shared with my family and others that have made 2006 so meaningful!

Father's Day we all headed out to Scharr's Bluff. When I was young we used to go their ALL the time, but
hadn't visited for at least 10 years. What a special day of family bonding
time and reliving memories!

Late Spring and Summer I enjoyed spending three weeks in Southern WI helping to prepare for, and attending a dear friend's wedding. Amidst all the wedding preparations, I never dreamed I'd learn to drive a skidsteer while there, plus help with milking! Thanks to Ryan for his patient teaching! :-)

Learning to play our instruments together has been an exciting, challenging, and sometimes frustrating journey. A family evening at some friends offered us the opportunity to play in public for the first time. Hopefully those times will be coming up more frequently as we hope to branch into nursing homes soon.

A day of horseback riding and then one last evening of singing that following weekend marked the final time our family would see Jamie Hilsgen this side of heaven. Adjustments have been many and painful, but God's grace has been sufficient through it all. (Jamie is holding the music and is on the closest horse.)

Satisfaction at the end of a Fall of canning! Thanks to Amy's help, I was able to get it all done before flying to CO! See that link for the continuing story of my time out there.

Dad's "bowtie" before our special night out at Orchestra Hall hearing the Handel's Messiah!

Working with a dear friend at a bakery some mutual friends of ours own during the Christmas rush. If we look a little bit tired, it because we had been up and working since 3:00 that morning!

Christmas Day!

New Year's Eve my cousin and I were discussing days gone by when all of us were younger. How the laughter rolled as we recalled those weekends at Grandma and Grandpa's playing spy-on-the-grownups, "What-time-is-it-Mr.Fox?" in the horse arena, the baby-powdered "slippey-slide" in the basement, and the breathtaking sled rides down the snow covered back pasture. For awhile, we wished we could leave our young-adult lives behind and go back and relive those times of innocence are carefree gaity. Yet, amidst all our wishing, the reality is that time has gone on and we will never again be able to reclaim those days of childhood.

The same holds true for right now. I am living in those very moments I'm going to someday wish I could come back to. Am I treasuring them for what they are worth? Though God has laid on my heart very specific visions for the future, am I so caught up in them that I miss the beauty and specialness of today? Am I so busy "looking forward to" that I lose the sparkle of living?

I am so grateful that God has pressed upon my heart the value of these days I'm living in. My siblings are at a very special spot in life right now. The older ones of the brink of young adulthood, and the youngest is still one that loves to be cuddled and played with. I am blessed more than I can comprehend, and it is my desire to daily live in the realization of this precious gift from the Lord's hand!

May God bless each of you as you anticipate serving Him in this brand new year!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Let Me Burn Out For Thee!

O God, the world is lost in sin,
And so few that seem to care!
Many of whom profess Thy name
No burden will help to bear.

We need a passion, Lord, for souls,
To bring the lost back to Thee;
Our hearts must be stirred, till all have heard
At least once of Calvary.

Let me burn out for Thee, dear Lord,
Burn and wear out for Thee.
Don't let me rust, or my life
Be a failure, my God to Thee.

Use me and all I have, dear Lord,
And get me so close to Thee
That I feel the throb of the great heart of God,
Until I burn out for Thee.

How cold has been our giving, Lord!
How selfish our love has been,
Keeping from those who never heard
The gospel that saves from sin!

How often we have turned aside,
Neglecting to do our part,
Forgetting Thy tears and agony,
Forgetting Thy bleeding heart!

Meet us and break us up, dear Lord,
Until driven to our knees.
Bare to our gaze Thy cross and love,
Of blood-baptized Calvary.

Speak till we hear again Thy call,
And hold nothing back from Thee.
Oh, burn on our hearts the hopeless wail
Of souls damned eternally.

O God, with shame I humbly bow,
In tears and with contrite heart.
Forgive me for the broken vows,
And failure to do my part.

I heed Thy call and say, "Farewell,"
To all that would hinder me;
Thy grace and Thy love to lost ones tell,
And my life burn out for Thee.
-Bessie F. Hatcher

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