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Sunday
Jun142015

Kenley Fortner, 1935 - 2015

My father-in-law died on May 12, 2015. Elise and I arrived in Austin, Texas the next day sad we did not make it before he died but glad he was no longer suffering. Cancer can be a long, drawn-out battle or it can go very fast. We knew he was sick less than a month before he died.

The trip back was not easy; yet, there were many blessings. Family who supported and encouraged even in the midst of their own grief; friends who came to love on us when they did not have to; Ryan and Summer flying to the funeral from China and leaving five days later; Bret driving the 650 mile round trip on two consecutive weekends to be there with us; and an employer that treated us with kindness and love, all the while making sure we knew how the policies for bereavement leave would work.

We miss Paw-paw, the correct spelling of which is open to debate, every second of every day. We are thankful for his faith that gives the certain hope he is now with the Lord. Below is a picture of Elise with her dad, taken last year in Vienna.

Thursday
Jun112015

Eugene Peterson's Influence on My Life

Eugene Peterson is often criticized in more conservative circles; something we seem excel in. But I love Eugene Peterson's books and he has had more influence on me than any other author.

Which books by Eugene Peterson, and I've read them all, have influenced me the most?

1. The "Conversations in Spiritual Theology" Series

Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places

Eat This Book

The Jesus Way

Tell It Slant

Practice Resurrection plus A blog about and excerpt from Practice Resurrection

 

2. How to be a Pastor

Working the Angles

Five Smooth Stones for Pastoral Work

The Contemplative Pastor

The Unnecessary Pastor

 

3. Two Classics

A Long Obedience in the Same Direction

Run with the Horses

 

I don't read a lot of books a second time. These are so good and influential, I've read them all several times. In an evangelical world that is often more about appearances than reality, Peterson is a fresh breeze bringing challenge, encouragement and life.

Tuesday
Jun092015

Say a Prayer for Slovakia

We get to live and work in Bratislava, Slovakia. We love it. The infrastructure can be a bit lacking at times - watch your step - but the people have been welcoming, friendly and open.

Say a prayer for this country and our new city. Ask God to work in the lives of people here, including us. It is a joy to be His servants, adopted son and daughter, and ambassadors for the gospel. Pray we will have that combination of boldness and love, grace and truth, that only comes from the Spirit.

For a few views of our beautiful place, which we've only seen two of, check out this blog.

Monday
Jun082015

Thank You for Your Support - Lottie Moon Offering

Every year Southern Baptists collect an offering for foreign missions. It is called the Lottie Moon Offering. It is a huge blessing to all IMB workers. Thanks for giving the second largest offering in the history of the Lottie Moon Offering. You can read more about it here.

Thanks!!!

Friday
Jun052015

Praying for Europe - June 5, 2015

June 2015
 

 

The following stories come from IMB workers serving as Apprentices, meaning they are serving their first term (usually 3 years) of a career of missionary service. For more information visit: http://www.imb.org/go/serving.aspx#Apprentice/Career

 

by an IMB worker in Germany

We had a time in our language class last week where my husband and I were able to share with the entire group of twenty. Our theme of the day was about teenagers and protecting them from drugs and alcohol. Since we were the only people in the room who had teenagers, our teacher asked us to share how we handle our own kids. We were able to share how the most important thing that we teach our own children is to put their relationship with God in the first position. We also shared that just as God loves us no matter what we do, we tell our children the same thing. It was truly amazing that God opened up this door for us to speak to the entire class. We have never seen the class remain that attentive for the past six months we have been there. Four students came up to us afterwards and commented and asked some questions. At our class break, we were able talk to a few of the class members separately and share with them a little more about our faith. Quite frankly it was a bit intimidating to stand before a large group like that but God gave us the courage and words to speak. Praise be to Him.
 

by an IMB worker in France

God opened a door for me to ride my bike with a friend, a few foreigners, and a French man to the Eiffel Tower. There is a nice bike path from where I live to the tower and we spent the morning on a ride that included a lot of conversation and cultural learning. We stopped at a small cafe and over coffee talked about learning and education. We discussed how learning as a craft is best done in a hands on setting and not in a classroom. This opened a door to talk about following Jesus and discipleship. While one's faith can be informed inside of walls, it is best expressed and experienced out in the places Jesus leads us to serve. We continued the conversation about a few other things, but I hope to share more next time we meet up for another ride.
 

by an IMB worker in Romania

Recently I went to get my hair cut at a place near our apartment where they sort of know who I am and I usually have opportunities to share the gospel. Unfortunately, this time the guy cutting my hair did not want to talk at all about spiritual things, so I was kind of down on the walk back home. As I was entering our apartment, our upstairs neighbor was also coming in from work and I spoke with him for about an hour. The best part of it all was that he began asking me questions of a spiritual nature. He even asking what we believe about salvation and life after death. After coming inside I realized that God had still been gracious in giving me an opportunity to share my faith, even though it was not at what I expected.

MONTHLY PRAYER FOCUS

Who Needs God?


Looking across the skyline of Gent, Belgium, it is not uncommon to see crosses signifying the presence of church buildings. Driving through the countryside often takes you through small villages generally consisting of homes, a baker, a butcher, a grocer, and a church. The latter gives evidence that at some point faith was an important part of life in Belgium. Sadly, today only the most magnificent of these buildings draws much of a crowd, and for aesthetic rather than spiritual reasons.

Prayer Focus: June 2015

Who Needs God?

Looking across the skyline of Gent, Belgium, it is not uncommon to see crosses signifying the presence of church buildings. Driving through the countryside often takes you through small villages generally consisting of homes, a baker, a butcher, a grocer, and a church. The latter gives evidence that at some point faith was an important part of life in Belgium. Sadly, today only the most magnificent of these buildings draws much of a crowd, and for aesthetic rather than spiritual reasons.

John and Lucy Long have served in Gent for the past 8 years. They share, “Western Europe has the lowest percentage of Evangelical Christians per capita in any region of the world, but that is not a valid excuse not to share our faith here. Often it seems as if God is just no longer on people’s radar and men no longer seek Him. The vast majority of Belgians see themselves as beyond a need for the superstition of faith. It is a hard place to work, where the seeds of the gospel almost always fall on rocky, hard ground. Often we must look for the still, small evidence of God’s hand.” One such example occurred recently, when John met with a man who described himself as a “bad atheist.” He further declared that he only believed in love and his pets. John was able to share with him and plant a seed of truth in the crack of the hardened soil surrounding this man’s heart.

Prayer Requests:

  • Pray for John and Lucy and other believers who are living out their faith in Belgium. Ask that they will “not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time they will reap a harvest if they do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).
  • Rejoice that there are three families in various stages of the process of joining the Longs in Belgium. Petition that they will form a unified team with each other and national believers to work together as “two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor” (Ecclesiastes 4:9).
  • One of the most urgent prayer needs for Belgium is finding a creative and effective way to help those that say they are “maybe” interested in knowing more about God and/or faith to dare to take the next step. Petition that there will be national leadership and input in this area and that God will clearly show them “the path of life” (Psalm 16:11).

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