Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Is it Christmas Already?

Every year it comes at the same time, and every year we have 4 kid's birthdays within the same month. Every year it seems to creep up on me and I'm unprepared. Yikes! No Christmas cookies made yet, the christmas cards are almost finished, no family photo, no ink in the printer....and the biggie, NO SNOW! Our Minnesota raised kids would love some white stuff to play in for Christmas. What's weighing in on our hearts the most this year? Joy. Here's an excerpt from the christmas newsletter John wrote:

One of my favorite carols is ‘Joy to the World’.  Sure, I like the slow, contemplative ones as well, but something wells up in me when that familiar descending melody starts.  (FYI – I love Steve Green’s version…and yes, I know that dates me.)  The Bible connects joy with the announcement of Jesus’ birth to the shepherds in Luke chapter 2 – “Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
So why did the angel bring joy and not happiness?  Happiness is dependent on outward circumstances. Joy, on the other hand, is internal and constant. We have an unlimited source of joy through Jesus Christ. We shouldn't be as concerned about happiness which is dependent on outward circumstances. We should have joy in the Lord based on an internal constant - our relationship with Him.
We continue to serve at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City.  I (John) teach music theory/piano at the ministry’s music school and private lessons at home; Cheryl does Sozo ministry, is webmaster for the girls’ dance studio and keeps the house organized and running happily; Zach plays guitar on an IHOPKC worship team and works at Best Buy; Rachel is out of the nest, living on the Plaza in KC and pursuing an education in art history and restoration; Sarah graduated high school earlier this year and will get her BA in Liberal Arts/Psychology and graduate from the dance program at Dramatic Truth School of the Arts within the next few months (whew!); Hannah dances at Dramatic Truth and turns 16 next week!!  Josiah’s interests are history, Minecraft and theatre (that’s new), Chloe leads worship at school and both her and Sophie are really talented singers and pianists.
One final note about ‘Joy to the World’…even tho’ it’s considered a Christmas carol, the words were based on Psalm 98 and speak of Jesus returning at the end of the age. 
May you have a truly joyous Christmas!

Now let it SNOW, let it snow, let it snow!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Silly Things Chickens Do

I'm going to start posting videos of the silly things our chickens do. It nature's entertainment. This activity is commonly known as the dust bath. We may have to put a fence around these gardens in the spring.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Walking by Faith

Link to read our complete Fall Newsletter

Way back when (mid-90's, maybe?), Freshfire, the praise and worship band Cheryl and I were a part of, were leading worship for a series of meetings at the Christian Ministry Center in Willmar. Each night, the speaker would have us play the song 'I Walk By Faith'. The lyrics are pretty simple - "I walk by faith, each step I take, I walk by faith, I put my trust in you". We'd play and sing and he'd have everybody else...walk. Walk to the left, walk to the right, stand up, sit down, fight, fight, fight. These meetings lasted nearly a month and every night we'd play 'I Walk by Faith', sometimes more than once! Not sure how many miles we'd walked by the time the meetings ended, but I was pretty sure I didn't ever want to play that song again. Lately tho', those lyrics have been playing in my head a lot. They come from 2 Cor. 5:7 - "For we walk by faith, not by sight." The NIV says we live by faith, The Message translates it this way - "It's what we trust in but don't yet see that keeps us going." I think that what God has been showing me these past few months is that, just like the song says, every step we take, whether it feels like it or not, is a step of faith, an opportunity to demonstrate our trust in Him.

It's that 'walk of faith' that's lead us to what we feel is the next chapter in the life of our family. One of the newer departments here at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City is the Children's Justice Initiative. CJI is dedicated to prayer for justice and local acts of service with the vision of helping orphans and the fatherless in their time of need. (See James 1:27) At a recent CJI meeting, Cheryl and I heard about a program called Safe Families for Children. Safe Families was started in Chicago a couple of years ago and is beginning to spread to other cities in the US, including Kansas City. Safe Families is an alternative to foster care that provides a loving sanctuary where parents can safely and voluntarily place their children in times of need. Safe Families partners with local churches and ministries (like IHOP-KC) and has grown to a network of over 1000 volunteer families that served as many as 1000 children and families lat year alone. It's often the last place a parent or family in crisis can go before they have to give up their children. (I really encourage you to check out the website - CBS News did a story on Safe Families that gives a great overview of the program. The video is posted on the site.) After praying and talking it over with the kids, we decided to sign up to become a Safe Family. We figured we'd fill out the application, have a home visit and an interview, then wait for the program to get established here in KC. Could be weeks or months, right? We forgot one thing - when you say 'Yes' to something the Lord has placed on your heart, He takes you up on it. Literally within days of filling out our application, we received a phone call from one of the leaders in CJI. They had learned of a young mother who was in crisis. She had given her life to the Lord and was trying to get herself cleaned up. She wanted to go into drug rehab, but needed a place for her 2 and 3yr old to stay while she got help. Would we consider taking these two into our home? After the initial shock wore off, we couldn't say anything by 'yes' - yes to providing love, stability and support to two of God's precious children while giving their mother the opportunity to get her life straightened out. 'Yes' to putting feet to our faith and being Jesus to this little boy and girl. All thing considered, it was a pretty easy 'yes.'

OK, that gets us caught up to where we are today. Right now, we're awaiting the arrival of just-turned-2 year old and his 3-year old sister. They could come as early as next week or it might be two weeks from now. Their mom is waiting to be accepted into a drug rehab program. We're planning on adding walls in our basement to make a bedroom for Josiah and trying to remember where we stashed the toys our own kids had outgrown. Speaking of our kids, they are super excited that we're doing this. They can't wait to welcome these little ones into the family.

I see so many scriptures that apply here, that help answer the question 'Why are you doing this?' Deuteronomy 10:18: "He (God) defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing." Psalm 10:14 - "But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted; you consider their grief and take it in hand. The victims commit themselves to you; you are the helper of the fatherless." Psalm 68:5 - "But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted; you consider their grief and take it in hand. The victims commit themselves to you; you are the helper of the fatherless." Isaiah 1:17 - "Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow." Matthew 25:40 - "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me", and Matthew 22: 37-39 - "Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'"

Please pray for us - for our hearts to be open and sensitive to the needs of these children, for their mom to be strengthened in the love and grace of the Lord to kick her habit, for the material needs we're sure will come (diapers, clothes, etc.) and for the thousands of fatherless boys and girls who need a home. We'll keep you updated on where this journey leads.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Could This Be the End of the Road For the Buick

The fall schedule has begun. I think it takes a good month for all the new changes to kick in gear on my internal calendar. My mind just sort of goes along with it. I'm kind of mellow that way. Let's just get it on paper so I can try to keep it all in sync. So I get a phonecall from Rachel on Tuesday. She's on her way home from her after school nanny job. In my mind I'm thinking Sarah has to be somewhere at 7, have to pick up other kids at other places, etc. "Mom, I'm driving down a busy street and parts of the car are falling off underneath. I don't know what they are". She pulls into a parking lot and John goes to rescue her. As you can see by the picture very large parts were falling off the bottom of the car....LIKE THE ENGINE! Oh, my word. Thankfully, she was not on the freeway when this happened. Did I mention it was my birthday on Tuesday? We never did have that family dinner. Maybe we can squeeze it in next week sometime.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Why Israel

Now is the time to pay attention to Israel. Next month the UN is voting on an important issue. Watch and pray Church.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Are You Ready For Restitution or Restoration?

I'll take either. I'm crying out like the widow to the judge, "Get justice for me from my adversary." I started reading a book about 5 yrs ago and recently picked it up again. Bob Sorge's Unrelenting Prayer. The dog-eared page I opened reads like this:
Restoration constitutes a return to the original condition. Your enemy has come against you to steal, to kill, and to destroy. He has taken from you what is rightfully yours as a child of the King. When you cry for justice, justice demands restoration of what is stolen. To satisfy justice, the judge says to your adversary, "You must return what you took. Totally and completely." Justice will be satisfied with nothing less than full restoration.
However, if the enemy has stolen from you, and then God has borne loooooooong with you, another element plays into the equation. Not only have you been without that thing, but now you've been without it for a looooong time. Now you qualify not only for restoration but also for restitution. Restitution involves punitive damages for losses sustained over time. In other words, if you've been ripped off by your adversary for many years, justice demands that you be compensated for more than the original loss; justice will not be satisfied until you are also compensated for the personal distress, inconvenience, and loss suffered due to the duration of the deprivation.
It happened with Joseph after his brothers threw him in a well and he was robbed of his freedom. He not only got his freedom restored but he got back much more and a high government seat. Job was robbed of his health, finances, and family. He got all that back, double the kids and finances. Elizabeth was robbed of the joy of having a baby, and she ends up giving birth to John the Baptist.
The devil wants you to believe that justice delayed means justice denied (so that you will lose heart and give up asking). But in fact, justice delayed means recompense compounded.
Proverbs 6:30-31-People do not despise a thief if he steals to satisfy himself when he is starving. Yet when he is found, he must restore sevenfold; he may have to give up all the substance of his house.
So that's the cry of my heart these days, "Get justice for me from my adversaries!" What's yours?