P.

Prayer and Petition, With Thanksgiving

Prayer and Supplication (4/14/15)

This morning during our international team meeting, we had a sweet time applying Philippians 4:6 together. We have been studying Philippians for a few months now and since Dave (who normally teaches) was out, Brian (who led today) decided to spend some time thinking about what we’re thankful for and what we need prayer for. We did this by writing things we’re thankful for on pink and purple Post-Its and then our petitions on yellow and blue ones. The result of the dozen of us there this morning is what you see in the photo above. It was a neat time and I enjoyed praying with our team as well as seeing this visual reminder in the office which will stay up through the summer. There’s a lot of ministry starting up here in the next month or so and our team won’t be meeting for a while. There is so much to be thankful for and so much we need to pray for. Praise the Lord He can handle all of it!

Park Time (4/14/15)

This afternoon Bethany took the kids to the park. As always they loved it, but today they did something a little different and collected rocks during their walk. The kids were really excited to tell me about when I got home and we even spent some time this afternoon playing with the rocks in the driveway. Avery named them “Mommy Rocky,” “Daddy Rocky, “Sister Rocky” and so on. I”m glad they had a good time and here’s a few photos of their time.

Park Time (4/14/15)

Park Time (4/14/15)

Lately the kids have really gotten in to these Steve Green “Hide Em’ In Your Heart” Bible videos. Bethany knows them for her own childhood and our kids are starting to love them. Below is really short video of the kids doing the motions to Luke 2:52 “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man” (NIV).

Bible Song from Shay on Vimeo.

I’ve been thinking a lot today about a college friend named Bjorn. We haven’t had much contact (if any) since college, but I’ve been able to follow his life via Facebook since then. Bjorn is a godly man and was definitely example of Christian character to other men at college. During college his girlfriend (another friend of Bethany and me) was killed in a tragic car accident. I will never forget hearing Bjorn speak at a special memorial they had for her at Master’s and he was a testimony to all of us of Christ-likeness during that trial. More recently, however, his niece has been battling cancer and watching from afar has been hard. As we’ve watched post after post roll by on Facebook about her story, we have just been amazed at the faith of him and his family. And this past week we saw the news on Facebook that Bjorn’s brother was tragically killed in a skiing accident. When Bethany told me about it I think I just paused. I think my first words were, “Are you kidding me? That’s unbelievable.”

Last night Bethany and I watched a video sermon/message on trials and suffering. One of the repeating elements in that message was that “Life will come at you,” or said another way, “Life is going to go wrong.” The speaker then went on to outline a Biblical response to trials using the acronym G-O-L-L-D (or “Go for the Gold!). His outline reads:

G – God Doesn’t Make Any Mistakes! (Job 23:10)
O – Operate With Eternity’s Perspective! (2 Corinthians 4:16-17, 1 Peter 3:14)
L – Live One Day At A Time! (Matt 6:31-34)
L – Look For A Blessing In Each Day! (Philippians 4:8)
D – Do Something For Someone Else! (Matthew 25:40)

This was only the first half of his outline. He went on to describe a specific plan for responding to trials, including the acknowledgement of God’s sovereignty and even refusing to grumble and complain during a trial. It was a great blessing to be reminded of the truth of God’s Word during trials, even though I can’t say that I’m experiencing trials like my friend Bjorn right now. At the same time I want my heart to be prepared when “life comes at me.” I want to respond rightly to trials, much like I have seen Bjorn do. I want to respond the way Job did in Job 13:15 “Though he slay me, I will hope in him…”

It’s with that in mind that I leave you with this video that has blessed me often. It’s a song based on Job 13:15 and trials, along with a little excerpt from the preaching ministry of John Piper. I hope it ministers to you as it has to me today.

H.

Heart Day and When the Youth Pray

Heart Day (2/14/15)

Bethany always does something special on Valentine’s Day, especially for the kids. It started this morning with heart shaped Swedish pancakes (above) and this afternoon it was heart shaped peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (below). It was really fun and the kids are always so excited to have different shaped food. Beyond the food, we didn’t do much else today for V-day other than rest. The kids are still getting over being sick so their noses are running and they’ve got lingering coughs. I had fun playing with them in their Thomas the train tent thingy and we all snuck in some early afternoon naps which was nice.

Heart Day (2/14/15)

After lunch I spent some time reading my Bible and studying a little bit of Czech. I’m really not trying to allow any day to go by where I don’t spend a least a few minutes working on Czech, even if it’s just reviewing or going over my vocabulary flash cards. I WILL learn this language!

Study Hard (2/14/15)

Speaking of language, I had the opportunity to join our church’s youth at their English Camp meeting this afternoon before youth group tonight. They are gearing up for the summer ministry and camp is a big event for them. The entire meeting was done in the Czech language, but one of the young people (his name is Daniel) was kind enough to translate for me. This year’s theme is “You Are Here” and follows the life of Paul in the book of Acts. Basically, the idea is that you might be at one place in your life, but you shouldn’t stay there. God is calling you to “move” from the place you are to where He wants. My team at Josiah Venture helped create this year’s theme and my church had a poster we did out on the table during the meeting (below).

Youth (2/14/15)

The one thing that struck me today during the meeting was that these young people love to pray. You would think a big camp meeting would be a bunch of planning, but it was actually minimal today. Mostly, they wanted to meet and pray AND plan to pray more. Not only did we spend an extended time asking the Lord to bring many unbelievers to camp, but later they setup a time that on Wednesdays at 9:30pm they would all seek to pray either together or alone for the camp…every single week until the summer. Ondra, the leader of the youth ministry, gave them a charge to continue to pray and stay in the Word of God as they prepare for the summer ministry. I was encouraged and challenged. Here’s a photo I got as they all prayed in their native tongue.

Youth (2/14/15)

At youth group tonight (after the camp meeting), we spent more time in prayer. I was able to sit with the two young men, Ondra and Marian (who lead the music), and listening to them share their hearts was just incredible. Marian shared that his vision is to see another 35-70 young people join the youth ministry through evangelistic efforts. He said he wants to go out in to the community with the other youth from the church, play music, share the gospel, and invite young people to church. I’ve been doing youth ministry for a while now and I don’t remember an 18-19 year old with that kind of vision. Not only that, he setup a time next week to do just that and has sent out invitations on Facebook, inviting lots of unbelievers. We prayed they would come next week. Lord, make it so.

Youth (2/14/15)

I had a great time building relationships with the youth at our church and I left so encouraged. Their heart to see their community reached with the gospel is inspiring. Their passion to see Christ exalted is exhilarating. And their desire to pray and bring it all to the Lord is humbling. Do I pray like that? I couldn’t help but think, “What happens when the youth pray like this?” What happens when the young people take the gospel to their unreached friends with fervor and compassion? I have no doubt it’s like a fire that can’t be stopped. Oh sure, Satan with do whatever he can to stop it, but we serve the King! The war has been won by the Savior and we can all go out boldly. When young people pray like this, asking for God’s help and His grace, I know God will give it in abundance.

Pray with us for these youth. I was so encouraged by them tonight and we want them to see their vision realized. In the end, it means more souls in the Kingdom of God and all glory to the King of Kings.

R.

Reflecting and Lots to Pray About

The Second Day of September (9/2/14)

For the past two days I have found myself saying, “I can’t believe it’s September.” On this date last year I was starting my last two weeks of work at Paul Mitchell and our family was stepping into a new adventure called full-time support raising. I can’t believe that was a year ago and I can’t believe I’m sitting here in Czech Republic writing about it. No doubt God’s hand has been in this process with our family and has brought us many miles physically and brought us further in our faith. Praise the Lord for His goodness and faithfulness to us in this journey.

The Second Day of September (9/2/14)

Maybe I’m just reflecting more tonight, but I’m amazed at the growth in my kids. Titus and Avery both seem to be making big strides in all areas of their little lives. Avery is still have accidents, but she’s consistently using the potty and telling us so we can take her. Titus is building more complicated things with his legos (photo above). He’s helping more around the house and he’s just talking a lot more. Every day he comes to the door when I get home and says, “So dad, how was your day?” I’m so thankful for their growth and for the work that Bethany puts in with them. Praise the Lord for His grace and kindness to us with our kids.

Tonight we had dinner with our new friend Soňa (pronounced “Sown-yuh”) over for dinner. You may remember that Bethany met her at a little preschool in our town. We don’t believe she knows Christ, but she told us tonight her family is Catholic. In fact, her mom texted her while she was at our house asking her to pray about the situation with Putin and Russia as she heard reports that things are escalating. Like all Czechs she brought us a little gift and even thought of our kids (photo below).

The Second Day of September (9/2/14)

Soňa is a very busy girl with multiple jobs and she’ll be starting university (like college) later this month. She has offered to babysit for us but we wanted to spend more time with her. We see an opportunity to minister to her and see what God does. Pray for us as we seek to make wise decisions in this area. Soňa also told us about the new English teacher at the preschool who is from New Zealand. Bethany is going to try and contact her as well and see if we can help her with her visas stuff. We feel like we need to push into some of these relationships and see what God has. It’s a reminder to pray.

After Soňa left Bethany got a phone call from the lady who runs the preschool. They continue asking Bethany to come and speak/teach English. Right now they are asking her to commit for a fews day a week and we’re just not sure about it. The woman that called insisted we go to her house to discuss it and now we’re scheduled for lunch on Saturday so we’ll see what this might entail. Obviously, we’re not her to hold jobs like that nor are we legally allowed to. We would have to work out some kind barter, but we just need to pray and have wisdom. Again, I don’t believe these are accidents, but we need the wisdom that comes from above. Just another reminder to pray.

S.

Swords, Salsa, and Something Special

The photo below is of Avery running towards the doors of our church. We were about four minutes late this morning so you don’t see anyone standing around outside, but often there are many people fellowshipping and talking on and around those steps. Right when we walked through those doors one of the pastors saw us and greeted us by saying “Dobré ráno” (“Good morning”) and immediately pointed to his ears. He was motioning to remind us to grab our English translations headsets. Every week someone will translate via a little microphone to our headsets so we really don’t have any issues understanding the flow of the service and the sermon. It’s a huge blessing and I’m thankful for the different people who serve us this way. Even though we’re trying to learn Czech, it’s really nice to be able to come to church and understand most of what’s happening.

Church Clothes (8/17/14)

Today’s sermon was on putting on the full of armor of God from Ephesians 6. That was actually the first passage of scripture I ever memorized. I still remember it to this day and I even remember reciting it in front of my 6th grade class. At one point during the sermon our pastor put up a photo of a Roman soldier and just started to describe the spiritual armor that correlated with the photo. It was a good visual reminder to me and I think very helpful to the body. He even discussed that the “sword of the Spirit” (the Bible) is one of the only things listed in the passage that is offensive in nature and the other pieces of spiritual armor are defensive. His point was that even though a sword is an offensive weapon, he believes that in the context of the passage it’s defensive. Super interesting thought and something I’m still thinking through this evening. It’s a joy to watch these Czech pastors work through the text, try to understand the original intent, and preach it to us. To be honest, it wasn’t what I had expected we would find when we moved here and from what I’ve heard it’s not the norm throughout the entire country. For all I know at this point our church may just be the exception.

Church Clothes (8/17/14)

Church Clothes (8/17/14)

The photos above are Avery and Bethany going in and out of the grocery story this afternoon after church. I had taken the first photo just because I thought they were cute, but then watching Avery cary a few bags of groceries on her way out with Bethany was the cherry on top. Bethany even said that the Czechs were stopping and looking at her and admiring Avery as she was leaving the store because she even had the bags around her shoulders at one point like a purse. Cute kid.

Tonight we had some friends over for dinner and enjoyed a little “American comfort food.” Those are the best words I can use to describe any kind of Mexican food that Bethany makes. In fact, we finished off our only container of Pace picante sauce…let’s just pause and take a moment of silence…it was good run for our salsa, but as my mom always says, “All good things must come to an end.” Some sacrifices in missions are hard…even salsa.

We ended up video chatting with Bethany’s parents late tonight and it was extra special. They kids got to stay up late and say hi but we talked for a while longer after the kids went to bed. For all of the junk that technology produces, one of the incredible blessings is to be able to video chat with family who are over 6,000 miles away. Towards the end of our conversation Bethany’s dad asked what things they could be praying for and he wrote them down and prayed with us. That was special. I guess it was just really practical. He prayed for the things we mentioned and as I listened and agreed I was blessed. God is so good to give us family who care for us and even when life is a little disjointed for us we know that we have family and many others praying for us. And even though miles separate us and time zones separate us, we are united in Christ. Now that’s special.