I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands,
My soul will be satisfied as with the richest
with singing lips my mouth will praise you.
Psalms 63:4, 5.
I spent last week at Abilene Christian University. I participated in Missions' Focus. We began each morning with worship. There was much thought put into this. I was so blessed to be asked to be a part of this ministry. I met mission committee members from a number of different churches, students, Missions' faculty, and others. Steve Allison and I taught a two hour class each day on marriage and family strengths - a foretaste of our workshop we will hold in August in Brussels at the Pan-European Lectures. Dr. Laura Mae Gardner, who is a lovely, gracious and godly woman, presented each morning. What a pleasure to get to know her better! She is a specialist in Member Care. Different ones of us lead case studies she had prepared in the afternoon and after our afternoon classes, I was one of several on a panel. The panel's job was to take Dr. Gardner's lessons and apply them to churches of Christ. It was a rich time. It was also a fun time. Wednesday evening I attended the Missions' Focus Banquet. The Talent Show afterward was wonderful, especially Yann Opsitch's ability to play three instruments at once! I look forward to next year's Focus.
I'm reading a bunch of books right now. I'm reading E.M.Bounds on Prayer, Simply Christian by N.T. Wright, EatThis Book by Eugene Peterson and to get my Dutch up-to-speed before I go overseas, I'm reading a mystery novel, De Ware Josef, by Elizabeth George. For PBS Mystery watchers, it is an Inspector Lemley book. Of course, I read my Dutch bible - a modern translation - every week. It is kind of refreshing to be able to look at scripture from different translations. I'm dangerous in book stores. When I was in Abilene and in a good book-store, I bought a number of books to read in the future, including John Mark Hick's and Bobby Valentine's new book, Kingdom Come. I attended their class at Tulsa on the topic and so enjoyed it. I find Restoration history fascinating.
But there won't be much book reading this next month. God willing, I'm moving from my apartment to a real house! And I hope God is willing, as I've given notice to my land-lady. I'm not a good shopper - hate it, in fact. Shopping makes me tired! I'm thankful I had such a good realtor who really helped me. She noticed every cracked wall, foundation flaw, roof problem, etc. I went into houses thinking, "Can I have a lot of people over in this house?" "Will I have room for people to come stay?" "How close is this house to the church building? my work?" So having a realtor who knew how to look at a house was a real blessing to me. She taught me a lot. I don't think I'll ever walk into a house again and just begin redecorating in my mind. I'll think - foundation. Is it slab or pier and beam? Does the house have gutters? Is the chimney higher than the highest point of the roof? (smile) I finally found the right one and it has few flaws! It is five minutes to the church building, which is important to me, and adds only 10 more minutes to my commute to work. I've actually gotten used to driving on the freeway. It is now my first choice - even though I have learned all the alternate routes to almost everywhere I need to go.
One of our MRN office staff and his wife left for Africa yesterday. To keep up with Sam Shewmaker and his wife, Nancy, you can read his http://mac.com/samshew2/Web/Impact%20AFRICA.html. He will be travelling the African way - on foot, by bus and by boat. Sam and Nancy will be traveling with national church planters from Kenya and Tanzania. Sam bought everyone a sleeping bag, as they will often stay in a brother or sister's house and sleep on their floor. Pray for Sam and Nancy and the African church planters. May God guide them to ripe fields that are white unto harvest and keep them safe from the Evil One. Please pray for their health and stamina.
I leave you today with words from E.M. Bounds:
Prayer in the Old Testament is called wrestling. Conflicts and skill and strenuous, exhaustive effort are involved. In the New Testament we have the terms striving, laboring frequently, fervent, effectual, agony: all indicating that when intense effort is put forth, difficulties are overcome (p. 72).
The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous person avails much (James 5:16)
Won't you struggle in prayer for our missionaries today?