Thursday, April 24, 2008

Wasps and Chili

So there I stood during the worship service at Seneca E.C. Church watching a wasp hover a few feet above the pulpit, hoping that God would miraculously strike it dead or that it would just fly away. Neither happened. So as I got up to preach on Sunday morning, I warned the people that I'm a bit of a sissy when it comes to large flying bugs with stingers and that I may be moving around a bit to avoid the thing. After about 5 minutes of buzzing around the pulpit area and distracting everyone, the wasp took a couple of swoops through the first few rows and met its crushing demise between a bulletin and a window! With the distraction gone, the worship service continued, I preached, and the folks at Seneca laid hands on me and prayed for us. It was great to spend some time with Josh and Rachel Reinders who are in pastoral leadership there--they're good Midwesterners like myself!
After averting a bee sting, Sunday afternoon I headed off to Cottage Grove E.C. Church just outside of Akron, OH to spend a couple days with the folks there. Perhaps just as important as me speaking there was that they were having their 6th annual Missions Chili Cookoff! Yes, I had the special privilege of being a judge and trying all 13 kinds of chili, which, surprisingly, had no negative effects on my digestive tract! It was great to reconnect with Bob Shuey, the pastor there and a former seminary classmate of mine, as well as Robert and Bettina Schaeffer, an amazing couple whom God is using mightily to deliver people around NYC from the homosexual lifestyle. They're the ones pictured with me below.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

10 Foot Jesus & Steve Lamotte

Last evening I had the special privilege of speaking at Avenue United Methodist Church in Milford, Delaware. Our good friends, Steve & Andrea Lamotte, are in ministry there (Steve's the "Next Gen Pastor" with me above), and we've had the opportunity throughout the years not only to maintain a good friendship but also to minister together on a few occasions--last night was one of those. Unfortunately, Rachel couldn't be there, but, even so, Jesus was there, as you can see in the photo above. That's actually a somewhat frightening painting of Jesus--His eyes follow you throughout the room, and He's really huge!

Anyway, something great happened last night other than me getting to catch up with good friends. During my three hour drive, I was a bit overwhelmed, down and discouraged because of all the stuff going on in our lives right now--work, school, support raising, having to move after graduation, and the like. But by the end of the evening, I was greatly encouraged. The folks there were interested in us, they asked some good questions about us and Spain, and they wanted to hear stories of what Steve was like in college. Many of them told me that they would be praying for us and wanted to join our financial support team. God really used our new friends at Avenue to encourage me, which was just what I needed. It was refreshing to experience God's goodness through His people!

Here's another photo of Steve and me with 10 Foot Jesus--I'm not sure what we're doing, though it kind of looks like we're slow dancing like middle schoolers.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Church Visits Can Make You Fat

The past week has been an incredibly full week! After speaking in a seminary chapel service last Tuesday, I headed out to western PA on Thursday for a trio of missions conferences. Thursday and Friday were spent at Bethany Crossroads E.C. Church, while Saturday was spent down the road with the folks of Grace E.C. in Knox. Sunday morning I had the opportunity to preach and then share our Spain presentation with some new friends at Trinity E.C. in the village of Fern (below is a picture of Pastor Mark Micklos and his son Nate), and Sunday evening was back at Grace with their youth group. To close the weekend I got up at 5:45 on Monday morning to share breakfast and a little bit about Spain with around 15 teens at Knox Grace--I was pretty proud of those teenagers for getting up so early to eat and learn about the spiritual needs of Spain. What a whirlwind weekend!
Here was the basic itinerary of the weekend: eat, speak, eat, eat, speak, sleep, eat, speak, eat, eat, sleep. If I had to do this every weekend, it would be a very unhealthy lifestyle--I would become grossly obese. Our new friends out there fed me well (maybe too well!) and were very warm and receptive, which I am very thankful for. But I have had to run two days in a row to try to work off the thousands of calories I took in over the weekend.