Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Tribute to the Real Pastors

 I've been privileged to grow up and serve under some wonderful pastors.  Today I was praying for these men, and thanking God for them, and I began to think about how each one of them influenced me.

My first pastor, that I can remember, was Pastor Bob Benefield, at Sequoia Baptist Church.  I remember him being a giant.  (Of course I was five and under during those years!)  He preached long services, and I remember waking up in my dad's arms on the way out of the building many times.  I liked it.  I loved the singing at church.  To this day, when I hear the song, "There's a New Name Written Down in Glory", I think of Bro. Benefield. I used to belt that song out.  I wasn't saved, but I was learning to enjoy church.  I wanted to please God.  Missions Conferences and Revival services were something very very special.  Bro. Benefield loved the Bible, and it's a big emphasis at Sequoia Baptist.  I was small, but I remember that very well.  I also knew that if my mom put my hair in a side ponytail, Bro. Benefield would squat down to my level, look me in the eye, and inform me seriously that my mother had put my head on sideways.  I knew he cared about me, as a pastor should care about the little ones in his church.  Every time I see him and his sweet wife I still get that impression.

My next pastor was my father, Pastor Roger Margerison at Oat Valley Baptist Church.  He pointed me to Christ every chance he got.  He led me to a knowledge of my sin, and the saving grace of God.  He baptized me.  When I needed a pastor's counsel he would always drop what he was doing to put on his pastor's hat and give me his best.  I knew I could count on him.  He gave me a love of the study of Creation.  He infected me with his curiosity in  the personalities that populate the Bible, and showed me how to ask questions while I'm reading God's Word.  Most importantly, I saw that he lived his faith, and God rewarded it in real, miraculous working right in front of my eyes.  I wanted that same kind of relationship with God.  It was under my father's pastorage that I learned to walk with God independently from my parents.  That's the job of a pastor!  He's to challenge every member to be right with God, and to seek out His heart on their own.

The next man who pastored me was at college.  Pastor Paul Chappell is the pastor of Lancaster Baptist Church, a church that seemed dauntingly enormous to me, when I first started out my freshman year.  The theme that year was "Serving God From the Heart".  It's something that sank down into my heart and stayed there, and I'm still learning new truths about what it means to serve our Lord from a heart of love.  One of the first things I noticed when I arrived was a joy and excitement about the service of the Lord.  I enjoyed all my ministries there, and learned so much by just observing the spirit.  Love for God really does make a difference!  This ministry  stands for God without compromising, and is full of grace, love, and joy.  I made so many great decisions under Bro. Chappell's preaching.  I learned to bring my heart to the altar before the preaching started, to be ready to make changes in my life, and hold nothing back from God.

After college I got married and we went to serve in the church that reached my husband for Christ.  Pastor Jerry Schiedbach became my pastor.  He was also my employer at first, as I taught in the school while my husband worked in the offices.  He's one of those fellows who just believes every single word in the Bible, and acts on his beliefs. He emphasizes God's Word, knowing it, studying it, and applying it consistently.  He has a gift for study, and for teaching, and he teaches the church to study the Bible for themselves.  Because of this understanding of the Bible, and the heart of God revealed in the Bible, Bro. Scheidbach has a passion for revival, walking under the control of the Holy Spirit, and having a relationship with God that is clear of offense.  He and his wife are also two of the most "real" people you will ever meet, and he is a fearless preacher, pastor, and friend to my husband and I.  The kind of friend who will give you what he believes you need, even if it sometimes hurts!   If you sit under his preaching you will be convicted of the seriousness of a lack of revival, of any sin you might be cherishing in your life.  You will be challenged to get right with God, to start spending time building a relationship with God, and to begin going to battle in prayer and in service, as a Christian ought to.  I made some things right with God as a result of Bro. Schiedbach's preaching, some things I'd been ignoring for a long time, and it still influences me to today to keep my conscience clear before God and man.

I know there are charlatans and wolves out there, fleecing the flock.  God will judge them, but I've been privileged to be pastored by four of God's shepherds, and here is some things I've learned about pastors, from my own experiences.

  • God's shepherds don't do it for the people, or the money, or the fame, they do it for Christ.
  • They are willing to help you if you are hurt, abused, in sin, in jail, or just need a shoulder to cry on, no matter what time of day or night it is.
  • Sometimes when they help you, it smarts.  "Faithful are the wounds of a friend..."*  A man called "pastor" who won't confront your sin doesn't love you with Christ's love, and is not one of God's men.
  • They are courageous.  They are on the front line of attack, and they know they will be hurt by people they love and pray for, but they keep right on keeping on, eyes on Christ, Who did the same thing for us.**
  • They are human, and they make mistakes.  Not one of the men who have pastored me were sinless, neither were their families!  The outrage!  That's it.  The church is full of hypocrites, so I quit.  (Tongue in cheek there.)  Pastors have to deal with the burden of people who expect them and their families to be paragons of righteousness.  It takes guts, and grace to deal with that!
  • They are accountable to God personally for what they teach out of the Bible, and how they comport themselves in God's church.  If I have a bad attitude about my pastor, because of a fault I see in him, or because I'm feeling convicted for a sin in my life, Hebrews 13:7*** says he will give account to God with grief, and if he does, it will be unprofitable for me!  That sounds like I have an account to make too, doesn't it?  I want those men to have joy when they give account, seeing that God used them in my life, and that God did great things.

If you have a real pastor, one of God's men, thank the Lord for him today, and let your pastor and his wife know that you appreciate them!
*Pro 27:6  Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. 
**Heb 12:1-2  Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,  (2)  Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.***Heb 13:17  Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Why I love working in the nursery

Ruth is looking forward to helping in the nursery
Many people think of the nursery in church as the least enjoyable ministry; a necessary evil to be endured.  Some believe it's completely unnecessary, because people should make their kids behave and that's that.  I disagree, respectfully, with both of these opinions. I thoroughly enjoy my time in the nursery every Sunday morning, and I think it's a very important supportive ministry.

I'm not under delusions either.  I know it can be tough.  My age group is birth to three.  Yesterday, I had two screamers, a little boy who couldn't handle the noise of the service, and his brother, who wanted to run about and holler and play in the service.  Both of these youngsters are individuals made by God, and He brought their family to church that morning.  God wanted the parents of these boys to hear how they could be saved.  While I know that very young children in Christian families can be taught to sit still and behave in a service, children like these two precious boys keep their parents from hearing anything at all, and their parents just don't know what to do about it.  Without a nursery, frustrated parents of misbehaving children usually walk out the door after church for the first and last time, never to be seen again.  Instead of judging them and shaking our head(you know the attitude, "What is this world coming to?"), why doesn't the church come along side them and try to help?  Why don't we try to comfort the children, let them know that we care about them, give their parents confidence that we love them as a family and wish to be a blessing?

For the one who does nursery work out of duty, thinking that it's not that important, let me say this.  Arron and Hur held up the arms of Moses over the battle.  Remember the story?  Joshua was fighting, and God wanted to bless.  He commanded Moses to raise his arms with the rod of God over the battle and stay that way throughout the whole campaign.  While Moses tried to do this, he got tired in the heat of the day.  Instead of criticizing the weakness of their leader, Arron and Hur ran to him and gave him all the help they could, so God could give the victory, helping him sit and holding up his arms.

 As a worker in the nursery, I believe I'm doing exactly the same as those men did for Moses.  While our pastor holds forth the Word of God, I work in the sidelines,  showing love and tenderness to the children of the families God brought to church that day.  I know it's not easy to preach the Word of God, and crying infants and children make it much harder.  It's also very hard for a parent, or anyone sitting around a parent, to listen while they try to keep their babies and toddlers quiet.  To me, it's a holy thing to protect the atmosphere of the sanctuary while a man of God is preaching.  He is fighting a spiritual battle, wrestling with the souls of men and women, pleading for God's people to give God their all, for the lost to find salvation.  I am holding up his arms, providing a loving place for children to stay, while their parents and devote their attention to the message God has for them.  As a mom myself, who has placed my babies in nurseries all over the Western United States, I know the difference a loving nursery environment makes on a baby and the baby's mom!

Now it's normal for a baby of around a year or more, who has never been separated from mother for a moment to experience uncertainty and fear the first time they are placed in a nursery.  This doesn't mean they are being damaged, but a wise worker is understanding of their very real fear.  Babies learn through experience, and they need to know several things;  1.  Mom is coming back.  I have not been sold to these strangers forever.  This understanding is only gained by seeing it happen a few times, so patience is necessary. 2.  The people here are happy, they love me, and it's fun to play here.  3.  Finally, as they start enjoying every week, these little ones need to know that church is a fun place to learn about the Bible.

For a person serving in this ministry there are a few pitfalls to avoid, things that will increase frustration and hinder patience.  We are here to show God's love, not judge a child's lack of discipline.  Go in expecting children to misbehave at times.  Even kids of parents who discipline them faithfully will try things in the nursery they can't get away with at home, just because mom and dad aren't there.  Remember that we are each one born with that ol' sin nature.  This nature actually delights in wickedness, which might help us to understand why a three year old dimple-cheeked angel snatches a toy he didn't want previously from someone, and when he doesn't get the reaction he's looking for, he smacks his victim with it for good measure.  He isn't the devil incarnate, he's just a sinner like I was before I was saved.If this is your ministry, and you are struggling with having a loving and peaceful attitude, ask God to help you!  Don't settle for doing any ministry with a bad attitude.  You know, you will lose an eternal reward if you do that!

By the way, children of visitors, who often don't behave well, often are more frightened and destructive, often make the whole experience trying for the nursery worker, also often stay longer than anyone else's children because their parents might be receiving Christ as their Savior after the service.  This is exactly what happened to my two little screamers yesterday morning.  For the small part that I was able to play, I pray this whole family will come to know my Savior and walk in His ways.  It's an honor to be in this ministry!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Who's afraid of the big, bad, doll?

I asked some children in my class at the beginning of this month what kind of things they were afraid of.  I got a varied assortment of things.  Bad dogs, toilet flushing, high places,  and insects all came before terrorists and burgles.  One thing that was mentioned strongly by about three fourths of my class was, dolls.  Yes, dolls.  "Dolls freak me out!  The ones that have eyes that open and close are the worst!  I can't even have them in my room or I won't sleep!"  On a hunch, I asked the class how many had seen a movie that featured dolls coming alive and murdering people.  Without exception, the doll-fearing children raised their hands.  The others, without exception, did not.

Now, each of these children are old enough to know that dolls do not come alive and murder people.  But common sense means little when eyes and ears have manipulated the imagination to fear something.  I asked them to think about their pre-doll-fearing days.  They were innocent to evil. They were innocent to an evil lie, to be true, because their hearts came to believe something that was not true, even when they knew with their minds that this feeling was absurd. Then they watched a movie that changed their perception to this innocent thing.

Then I asked them this question, "Are you going to ruin your innocence to something else this month, by watching some other silly October movie?"

2Timothy 1:7  For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

"Much more my gain"

This beautiful poem is on an ancient tombstone near where we live, from the English settlers that worked on the mines many years ago.  It shows a right attitude about death, something that will be good to remember during the next few days.
"In perfect health I went from home,
Not knowing that my race was run,
As flowers grow and then decay,
A sudden death snatched me away.

Little thought my time so short,
In this world to remain,
When from my home I went away,
And hoped to return again.

The stroke of death did end my time,
And cut me off just in my prime,
Short was my life, sharp was my pain,
Great was your loss, much more my gain."

Farewell my wife and brother so dear,
I am not dead, but sleeping here.
My debt is paid, my grave you see,
Therefore prepare to follow me.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Facebook Funnies from 2011!

My idiot dog has been getting better, and behaving herself for the most part, but yesterday she made up for all the good behavior by snarfing down the equivalent of two entire sticks of butter that happened to be on my kitchen table.
 One of the things I say often to my poor kids: "You have to put up with my kisses. Mommy kisses never wash off, and when I'm gone, I want you to fairly covered with them for the rest of your life! So take that! And that! and that!"
Thidwick the Big-hearted Moose-if you have trouble understanding socialism, get it, you will understand. (It's a Dr. Suess book, for those who don't keep up on fine literature.)
So I started using our clothes hanger for it's original purpose. (Most exercise machines make excellent coat hangers.)
Big, fuzzy, blue bathrobe. Coffee. :)
 Another first: Yesterday I saw a woman breastfeeding a newborn on a motorcycle. (She was sitting behind her small child, who was sitting behind her husband; and yes, they were going on the road!)
Tip of the day: If you have a seven year old, and she washes the dishes, you ought to check the drinking cups before you use them. Just sayin'. :P
"MOM! (hug attack) "OH! I LIKE YOU!!!"
David's emotional response to most meals served in this house.
Well, my son dressed himself for church this morning, and when I looked at him from a distance, I thought all was well. After we got to church I noticed he had no socks, and was wearing his Lightening Macqueen jammies under his slacks and button-down shirt.
The other day we spent a little time with another missionary family. When we were done, Elisabeth said, "That was WEIRD!" When I asked her why, she said, "It's weird to talk to people I don't know in English!"
David made an announcement at dinner tonight: "I can blow FIRE out of my LELLY BUTTON! And it kiws the bad guys!
It's so nice to finally know his super power.
After a couple heavy dust storms slammed into the house last week, I decided I have to get around to Spring cleaning. I've discovered something. Pet hair is baking powder for dust!
"Are mangoes good for something?" Asked Elisabeth while industriously scrubbing her arms with the gooey mango seed.
I know I have a future scientist in the works.
Elisabethism: I'm so excited I can feel my heart beeping!
Missionary Kid Moment: "Mom, does 'hit the road, Jacks' means 'go away?' "
 Just experienced the exhilarating joy of chasing my wet, soapy dog covered in fluffy red hair all around my neighborhood, while I myself was also wet, soapy and covered in fluffy red hair. The people of Hacienda Ermita have now officially seen me at my best.
 Cute little smiling stick figures drawn with small fingers on my jewelry box. A friendly reminder that I really need to dust my bedroom.
 When teaching a class, we usually confiscate any number of contraband items that are distracting the class. Last night, it was a cucumber in the purse of one of my own daughters. What is this world coming to?
David has been followed today by full karate sound effects.
I was pushing something heavy today and Rebecca warned me to not "strangle my milk."
David: Mom, Buzz Lightyear is in my bed.
Me: You can keep him in there as long as you don't play with him...
David: But Buzz likes to play!
 Our internet access is a lot better now than when we had the other provider, but still not enough for regular phone conversations that don't sound like, " Hello? Thi....aohthagyh......ME! I'M CALLIjahgauyhfrg......What?..........WHA...." Facebook is a blessing.
 Today Ruth drew a picture of a sleepy fairy (she had butterfly wings) magically causing a cup of steaming coffee to float into her hands.
 I just confiscated Max Steele's sword. I was wondering where my pencils went.
Rebecca, holding an ice cube tray in front of the open freezer; "Hurry up and help me with this, I'm turning into an ice pickle!"
 Question of the day:
Ruth asked me, "What's a meteor? Is it like a spade-alite?"
 Every now and then it is necessary for a mother to scare the ever-living daylights out of her child. It shows love. And it's fun.
Got sunburned in clown makeup. It's an unusual look!
 Cleaning your house while your children are awake is like brushing your teeth in the middle of eating an Oreo.
 Another first! I actually consider myself lucky that yesterday was the very first time I said, "*name of child*, untie your sister this instant!"
Heard in my house today: (We are memorizing from Ephesians 6 in school) "And ye fathers, provoke not your children to math..."
Here's a great game to play with four children. I call it, "Quietmouse", and it's simply a game to see who can be the quietest the longest. The first person who talks gets nothing, the second gets one marshmallow, the third, two marshmallows, and the winner gets three. Four solid hours of silence in my house! Ha!
 I know all you mothers already know this; some of you have said it on facebook recently. BUT, if a young child comes running up and says, "Mom! smell this!"

 Missionary Kid moment: "Mom, where am I from? Someone asked me and I don't know!"
Mother's instinct serves me well:
"If you want to help me, go wash your hands."
"I did!"
(Something moves me to suspect.) "No, I mean REALLY good."
"I did!"
"You need to wash your hands again."
"OOOOH! You mean with SOAP!"
I asked the kids if they wanted 7-up. David took offense at the exclusion of himself and Elisabeth. "Hey! It's six-up and four-up too!"

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Couple of Little Angels

A couple weeks ago, one of our soulwinners was out knocking doors, and a young girl of about nine answered.  She said her mom couldn't come to the door.  He asked her if they went to church, and she said no.  Then he asked her how she thought someone could go to Heaven.  She said that she knew how.  Jesus died for everyone's sins, and they could only go to Heaven if they asked Him to save them.  He asked her who told her this.  Turns out, one of our families has a little girl who attends her class at school, and she led her to Christ at school.  This family, who now attends faithfully and is growing in Christ, only started coming last year after the little girl was befriended by yet another of the little girls in our church, and started coming.
Praise the Lord for these precious little angels.  (Angel simply means "messenger of God".)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Survival handbook: Yourself

I saved this one for last, and I think it's the most important.You can get along with the authorities, love the classes, and have great friendships, but still fail completely at college.  But I've seen people who fought the authorities and acted like a snot to their roommates and acquaintances, but then God got hold of their heart, and He changed them.  Your heart, and how much of it God has, is the single most important factor to spiritual success. 

Remember that the devil is actively trying to discourage you. That is, he's trying to remove your motivation, your courage.

1. Don't go thinking of plan B, if this doesn't work out. You should be determined to finish what you start. If God wants you there, and He's confirmed it in your heart, plan B is just rebellion. Go with that faith that God is leading you, and determine to let God show you that it's His job to get you through. My husband and I both had seemingly insurmountable financial challenges, and I got pretty sick two years in a row. The sickness caused me to fail some classes! I remember asking God what I was doing there, when I couldn't have success. That year is one of my most precious memories, and the things I learned about God's presence in my life are with me today. God can use anything that happens in our life, as long as our faith line remains connected to Him. Unplug it, let doubts come in, and they can ruin what God wants to do!

2. Modern day me again.  Hannah, your mom told me this one. Read your Bible every day, and touch the throne of God every day, just to pass time with Him, and not to pass a class. Study for classes is good, but it does not ever, ever replace time set apart to be in God's presence. You need it. Make it a priority. Find your place to be alone and do it. (My place was in one of the upper classrooms of the North Auditorium, and this very annoying young male student liked the same room, so he beat me to it, and I had to go find another room. In auditorium part of the building, a student would worship God and pray while he played the piano, so my devotions were usually accompanied by this music. He is now serving God on a mission field on the other side of the world, and the guy who stole my prayer room is now my husband.*) You will hear a hundred times this year, "Bible college is the easiest place to get backslidden."  ad nauseum.  Because it's true.  Well, any place is easy to get backslidden if you are relying on yourself.

3.  Modern day me again.  Morgan, your dad told me that "doing" was not nearly as important as "being".  Working for God vs. being His child and loving and knowing Him.  I kind of understood him, but it took some time for that truth to hit me fully.  I'm still learning it!  Activity does NOT equal God is pleased with you!  Anywhere you think that God is pleased because "I'm doing _____" or "I'm getting this blessing_____" or "everyone thinks ________ about me."  is a dangerous, dangerous place to be spiritually.  You are right with God when you get on your face in His presence every day let Him change you.  When you die to the flesh and carry your cross.  Activity is good, but it's only a product of our walk with God, and sometimes when we get comfortable doing certain things for God, we think we can swing it without Him.  Actually, my flesh is always confident in this manner.  And it's the thing that makes me want to quit when I make a big mess of things doing them without God's Spirit.  Hypocrite, isn't it?

This isn't as long as my other posts, but I hope you take it to heart.  If you went to Bible college because you believe God wanted you to, then give Him liberty in your life to do what He wants with your life!  The "big secret" to spiritual success (and you will hear tons of sermons on this) is very simple-being full of the Spirit, walking with God, and getting out of His way.  It can't get old to you-it's your lifeline.  It takes day-by-day checking, tending, and repair.

My love and prayers are with you!

Oh, one more thing.  If, for some odd reason, you find yourself sitting in chapel, and exhausted.  maybe your blood sugar levels are, hypothetically, weirded out by too many strange snacks and not enough sleep, and you might find yourself having a very hard time keeping both eyelids open.  Let's say you might have a pack of Listerine Pocket Patches in your purse, and after fruitlessly pinching yourself, chewing on your tongue, squirming and trying everything else you know of to stay awake, it occurs to you that it might be a good idea to use one of those little strips to "wake yourself up".  Refreshing and all that.  If such a thing happens to you, and I'm not saying it will, or that it happened to me or anything like that, I'm just saying it might, you know.  Don't put it under your tongue.  Just don't.
*For the record, my husband wishes it to be known that his version of this story is that some cute girl periodically stole his prayer room.  Whatever.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Survival mini-handbook: Other people

My friend, I hope you aren't tired of my unasked for advice yet.  It's not because I think I'm smarter or more spiritual than anyone else, just that I've done what you are going to do, and this is a collection of things wise people told me, and things I would want someone to tell me.  Today I'm going to focus on other people. I didn't have any nightmare roommates, and I hope they can say the same of me. :)  That is not to say there were no differences, because I know we are all sinners, so differences are inevitable, especially when you are sharing living space with someone.  You can stuff your weaknesses down enough in front of most people, but someone who can't get away from you is going to know who you are at the end of the year.

1. ) Don't despise people who are different.  If you are living in a dorm, you will be sharing space with people who are different then you. Here are some ways they might be different:
* Different style of education; public school, Christian school, homeschool
*Different ways of bill paying; you might have to go get a job, someone else might have their parents pay their bills.
*Family structure; some will be from Christian families with generations of faithful Christians-what a blessing! Some got saved out of the world, and no one in their families are saved, but they want to start serving the Lord, what a blessing! (My husband fell into the last category, and I'm a third generation Christian.) Some had a hard life before college, there will be young people there with scars most of us can't imagine, some with rough edges because they came from a rough home.
*Cleanies vs. Messies-you know that's gotta cause some conflicts!
In any case, let me tell you that you will not understand everyone, and a good many of them will not understand you. Don't start out with a chip on your shoulder, and don't be drawn into conflicts. You really can learn from every one! God just might want you to minister to and help someone who is different from you, and if you start out despising them, He can't! Don't whine about other students.
We also are humans here, and humans naturally despise others.  You might say that you don't, but you have a tenancy inside, called pride, that wants to look down at others for any of the above mentioned differences.  If you get a roommate who snores loudly, is really overweight, has smelly feet, or never learned to clean the bathroom at home, is this going to be the topic when you are with your friends? Most people don't think twice about mocking others for their stupid problems, but we know right away that it's wrong if someone does it to us!
Please don't make big deals out of minor things, and don't get all sarcastic about people who are easy to despise. God loves them as much as He loves you.
2. ) That was a lot of "don't", so here is a "DO!"  Look for David and Jonathan type friendships.  Jonathan saw David serving before his father, and his heart was knit with David's.  Why?  Because Jonathan saw a love for God in this scruffy lad that mirrored his own.  When you love God, you love others who love God.  I thank God for my friendships from college, many of whom are just as strong today as then, even though we don't have a lot of contact with each other.  All we have to do is get together and all of the same things we shared in before are still there to enjoy, even though we are all in different stages of life now.  Ask God to lead you to people that you can be a blessing to, and who will be a blessing to you.
3.)  Another "Don't".  Avoid whiners.  Ryan  cornered got to interview missionary Rick Martins once at a mission's conference we were in together.  One of his questions was, "As a young missionary, what kind of things should I try to avoid?"  The immediate answer?  "Negative missionaries!"  Negative whiners are everywhere, even at Bible college, even in the ministry.  Although it's easy to develop friendships with folks who share the same whine as me, it doesn't help me to grow spiritually.  Jonathan's heart wasn't knit with a whiner.  These people will happily share their rotten attitude with you and anyone else, and then walk away and gripe about you!  Here's a clue, if you notice that most of your conversation with a particular friend is in discussing problems, try to change the subject and put an encouraging spin on each thing, giving glory to God.  A true whiner will get frustrated quick and have nothing left to talk about.  Someone who is growing spiritually will feel convicted and want to be around you more because you encourage them to do right.
Here's modern day me, with a note on this point.  While the method I suggested does work,  I've found it's better just to ask the person if they've talked to the other person, and kindly but frankly say they should talk to them and not to me.  The other method makes the person not want to talk to you, and this one might just help them with their problem. 
4.)  Make godly friendships with people of the other gender.  Freshman often enter their first year with romantic notions that they will make eye contact with some stranger and their future will be set.  Newsflash!  God doesn't use Disney protocol!  Just let God work in your heart and keep your friendships godly and honorable.  The Bible tells young pastors to treat the younger woman as sisters, because they are.  Our kinship, however, is a spiritual one, and not a physical one.  In the physical world, we must protect the honor of our brethren with modest dress, behavior, and speech.  I'm thankful for my friendships at school, that I've nothing to be ashamed of with the husbands of other women.  They treated me with honor and respect and I did the same with them. So keep your relationships pure, including conversation.
5.)  DO give other people the benefit of the doubt.  I Cor.13:5 says that Charity, or God's love, does not think evil of others.  In other words, it doesn't make negative assumptions of others.  This is easier to do than you would think.  As a rule, give the benefit of the doubt when someone says something, or does something you could be offended over.  In matters of open sin, or abuse, the Bible tells you what to do in Matthew 18.  But most of our problems with others (especially between ladies) involve hints and grouchy comments that can be taken in a number of different ways.  Look, if someone has a problem with you, and they aren't willing to come out and tell you openly, give them the benefit of the doubt.  Maybe they are struggling with something spiritually, or homesick, or just having a bad year.  Compassion and love in such a situation will give God liberty to touch a heart like nothing else.  Patience.  You need it for others, and for yourself; not just to bear your burdens, but to do it joyfully.
 6.)  Finally, study Matthew 18 and commit to deal with all differences and offenses that require action in accordance with God's command.  Also, watch out for others who want to dump their problems in your ear.  If you aren't part of the solution or part of the problem, kindly but firmly ask why you are being involved.  In my experience, this is a new concept for a lot of young people in college. Look out for whining (it will be called "burden sharing" or "getting it off my chest")  Look out for slander.  (It will be called a "prayer request")  Look out for information swapping.  (I tell you how so-and-so hurt me, you tell me something just as juicy-this information will usually be used against you at some point.)

Your friends in school can be a great blessing to you, and you can be used of God to help others who are hurting.  In a dorm with all kinds of girls, I promise you that each year there will be someone in close vicinity that is hurting in ways you can't understand, and God can use you to encourage them!  They can also draw you away from the Lord, as there are some people there for the wrong reason.  Pitfalls come when we start to get sarcastic and look down on others.  So let the Lord have His way!  Remember I'm praying for you.
This is the second part in a three part series.  The first part is here.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Survival mini-handbook: The Bible College

In 2011 some of my friends from church went to college, and I wanted to send them some loving words.  This is what I would tell myself if I could go back to when I went to college.  Now a couple of my precious nieces are headed out to various Christian colleges, and I wanted to share those thoughts with them.  I love you both!  I'm stunned and thrilled to see what God is doing in your hearts and lives, and I can't wait to see you again.

Hey you! Getting ready to go to Bible College! I want to talk to you! Are you excited? I remember getting ready to go, and I was excited, a little nervous, a little fearful. Once I got into the swing of things, that first year, I had so much fun. I hope you do to! I talked to my husband (Who I met that year, by the way.) and asked him that if he could talk to himself from back then, what would he say to himself. I know I would like to have a couple words with myself from that year! Here are a few tips we came up with, and my post was getting long, so I organized them into separate posts with tips on the school, tips on myself, and tips on other people.

1. If you are going to the same school I went to, try to start out with a hair do that can get blown to smithereens and look decent with a finger-combing. I started out with a pom-pom shaped perm'! Big mistake. (No, I will not be posting pictures of it.) You may whine about the wind. Everyone is going to be doing it, just don't overdo it. And don't overdo the hairspray. You'll regret it every time. Also, memorize Proverbs 30:4, and every time you go out there into it you will get an object lesson on the power of God. And when you go into a building, hold your skirt. Just sayin'. (Wind going sideways hits the building, and then blows up right next to it.)

2. Get over the rule book. It's a Bible college. They have to have rules, and some of these rules make certain folks uncomfortable. If God wants you to go there, then it makes sense that He will want you to follow the authorities. Even if the rules don't make sense to you, you should just do it as long as they aren't asking you to do something wrong. Who knows, you might learn that some of them have actual reasons behind them. Don't whine about the rules.

3. The cooking will be different than your mom's. Your mom doesn't have to cook for hundreds of people.

4. You will get preached at. A lot. Enjoy it! You'll never have a time like this again. Just don't forget to bring your heart to the altar before the service. If God impresses on your heart to make some changes, write the changes down in the journal you will get. If you are struggling in an area spiritually, write that down too, as a prayer, in the same journal. Later, you will be amazed at how faithful God is to answer and teach you just what you need.

5. If you never struggle spiritually, and never feel God pushing at you to make a change here and there, there are only two options. Either you are so very far away from God that you have no idea what the Holy Spirit is trying to tell you, or you are not saved. Get that matter fixed! This is a spiritual battle, and it is no place for half-hearted Christians, or lost people. I remember coming to that question during a lukewarm time at school, and God showed me that I wasn't anywhere near where I thought I was, spiritually. The decisions I made that day gave God the freedom in my life to lead me to the place I am today, and I believe firmly that if I had continued to resist Him, I would be out of His will today!

6. If there are conflicts between you and an authority, go read Hebrews 13:17 and think about how God wants you to deal with it. He does not want you to tell all your friends. He does not want you to quit. He does not want you to self destruct because you are fuming over it all the time. He wants you to A.) Pray for them, because their duty is to God, not you. B.) Obey them. If they aren't asking you to sin against God, why not? C.) If someone is abusing their authority, the school authorities ought to be notified. If you don't think it's that serious, then it's not serious enough to gossip or get bitter over. Ok, it's never serious enough to gossip or get bitter over. That will just make their problem ruin you, which is unprofitable for you, my friend.

7. You are there to study and learn. Have fun, but apply yourself to the subjects. Get everything you can from them. You will need it later. Prepare your projects ahead of time, and make time to study. You are learning to balance work, recreation, and ministry. If you are like me, you will probably fall out of balance in each of these areas from time to time. The important thing here is knowing when to correct the problem, not being perfect all the time.

8. Take a typing class the first year, if you don't know how to type, not the third year like a certain young lady I knew. Duh? (that was me.) It will make some things much, much easier. Also anything else that will help you prepare projects, like computer courses; first year!

9. Also take time to develop your soul winning skills. You need first to depend completely on the Holy Spirit. A formula, or list of verses is useful, but the Holy Spirit knows the need of the heart, so get connected with Him. Also you need to know your Bible. Prayerfully studying the Word, just so you can have an answer for anyone who asks is vital. Don't depend on classes to do this, or your church background. If you are from my church, I know you have a solid understanding of doctrine, but you still need to study for yourself.

10. Enjoy the school! Enjoy the ministry, the church services, the spirit, the work. No place is perfect, but soak up all the blessings God has for you there. I've known some young people who do nothing but whine when they go to school. Honestly, most of the whiners drop out, or stop whining. You need those blessings to make it through, and if you are complaining all the time, they will pass you right by. So have fun, and enjoy yourself!

I've got a couple more posts on this topic up my sleeve. I hope it's a blessing to someone! I sure did enjoy my time at Bible college. God used it in too many ways to count so He could put me where I am and shape who I am today.

Friday, July 15, 2011

May-June prayerletter!

As you can see, the bottom floor is mostly finished, except for painting.  On the other side of the building is a doorway that needs a door, but all is secure.  You can see the top floor where the nursery and offices will be.

Two vehicles God provided to bring people to church.  Most of our members don't have cars, so this ministry is needed.
Here is our beloved church family.  Every family unit has a story, a burden, and a victory.  Many of them have seen miracles as God changes people and provides for His people.  It's truly a priviledge to serve here!
Thank you for your faithful prayer and support! God has blessed us during the last two months, and I’m excited to tell you all about it.

The theme for May was Missions. Two missionaries came to present their work during this month, and we took them on for support, representing Christ for us in Spain and Israel. Our church congregation also attended a three-day mission’s conference at a church in Pachuca, and their hearts were touched to serve God and commit to His will. Many also committed to faith promise missions giving in our Mission’s Sunday. Families from all over Mexico presented the need for missions in their home states, and we presented the need for missions and revival in the United States. It truly encourages my heart to have my brethren here join in my burden to pray for my homeland!

The fruit of this emphasis is readily seen in the faithful attendance to door-to-door soul winning on Saturday, with an increasing number of new believers getting out of their comfort zone and starting to testify. It is great to see new Christians going beyond the ‘silent partner’ stage, to begin giving the wonderful gospel of Christ, and see souls saved! Several men have also approached me asking for prayer about a calling to service. Pray for them as they seek God’s will for their lives.

We have seen much advancement on the building. As of last week, we now have a building that we can leave chairs and pulpit in, and we can lock it up when we leave! Doors, windows, and bars on the windows make a secure place to meet. A new need has come up however. The funds provided by several brethren here in Mexico have come to an end, having been used on the building, so now the church is working to raise money weekly to finish the project. While we don’t know how God is going to supply this need, we are confident that He will provide. He is the One who has done all of this work up to this point, and if He wants it finished, it will be done. Continue to pray for this need. The work to be finished is mainly on the second floor, finishing the walls and roof of the nursery, offices, and bathrooms. The nursery is currently being accommodated in an unfinished storage area, with a ceiling at 5’4”. My wife, who works in the nursery stands at 5’8”.

Please continue to pray for our discipleship programs with several individuals. I am working with three groups right now.

  •  Brother Jesus is struggling to keep his discipleship times, because he is looking for work. He’s been faithful to Saturday soul-winning, and he has not had a relapse into alcohol or drugs since the incident I wrote about several months ago.
  • Juan and Paty have temporarily discontinued their discipleship because Juan’s mother is gravely ill. She was a follower of the Watchtower and Tract Society, and had a bleeding problem in her arm. She refused for weeks to receive a blood transfusion, and finally changed her mind after frustrated doctors sent her home, since there was nothing more they could do without a transfusion. Since then she has received the operation, and several transfusions. She has been cast out of the Kingdom Hall, and we are praying for her salvation. I beg you to intercede for her, that God will have mercy and continue to call her heart while there is still life in her. Pray for Juan and Paty, who are new to the faith, and faced with such a difficult trial.
  •  David and Yolanda are also struggling to find enough work to put daily food on the table, but they are so hungry to learn and grow more that they are coming twice a week for discipleship sessions. They are actively involved in ministry as well. Pray for them as they learn this faith walk, and that their zeal remains steady.
Thank you again for your prayer and support! God bless you and your church family as we labor together with God to reach the world.
God bless you all!

Sincerely Yours,

Missionary Ryan Case

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Facebook Funnies!

I went through my facebook account from last year and copied all the funny stuff I want to remember.  One of the things I love about facebook is how easy it is to pop on and type out something hilarious a kid just said or did.  Maybe I do it too much, because yesterday I laughed at something Ruth said, and Elisabeth piped up, "Mom!  You've got to 'face' that on facebook!"  
Why does a child who does not hesitate to pick up gooey freshly squished spiders think a gooey glop of cheese that dropped off his plate is too gross to touch?
My daughter is loudly singing "Away With the Manger!" Gonna have to correct that one!
Quote for the day: "I like to wiggle my toes together when they are clean." (Ruth, 8 yrs old.) so many people are posting wonderful, life-changing quotes, I thought I'd include one that made me stop and think about the deep things of life.
A child in my house was heard belting out, "Who wants a friend like the lonely Jesus? No not I! No not I!" Oh, my word, we need to work on theological education!
Yesterday the toilet backed up, and I had to plunge the daylights out of it to get it back in "running" condition. Today, my son came to me in tears, asking me to get his favorite underpants back.

Yes. These two items are related.
My law of children: Children are not naturally makers of neat places, but they are drawn to neat place. They are drawn irresistably to neat places, with their minds filled with all kinds of plans about what to do with the neat places. None of these plans involve neatness.
Sticky mouse traps. I have not caught any mice, but I have caught my dog, three of my children, and my foot. The dog finds where I put them, and she drags them out and leaves them for us to step on. When she steps on them, she slaps around the house like she's got flippers on her feet.
I'm getting pigtails put (ouch) in my (ouch) hair by a five year old.
There is a stripey blue and yellow frog hopping around the house and saying, "Wibbit! Wibbitwibbitwibbt!

No mother enjoys hearing this from their three-year-old:
"Um, mom? I get the toe-lit, um, bigger. Yeah. It's bigger..."
Something I never expected to say as a mother: "R___, we do not suck oatmeal with a straw."
This morning David woke up and attempted to give me a kiss right away. "Oh, Mama! You lip smews YUCKY!"
Conversation from my house today
David: "Mommy, my thtummik thez 'gimme a thandwich!'"

Me: "Tell your thtummik it needs to learn to say pleath!"

Apparently he thinks bad manners are acceptible if they are vicariously acted out through a third party. (thtummik)
The little bench is a little heavy, I won't deny it. But it is not too heavy to pull out of the corner I put it in, turn upside down, and use as a motorcycle for a small body, and then leave at the bottom of the stairs for me to trip over. It is apparently way too heavy, however, for that same small body to drag back to the corner, turn right side up, and put away.
Heard in my house today: No David, do not chew on the table.
Heard in my house today, singing: "Superclalafradulisticexpialid​otious! Even though the sound of it is something HALITOSIS!"

They make me laugh, thought I'd share.
Heard in my house today: (earnestly) "A infinito! Y máth allá!" Translation:  To infinity! And Beyond! (with a lithp)
So I was knocking doors for the church today and a grasshopper jumped on my foot. My young soulwinning partner told me she likes them fried with lemon. That's a first for me!
Heard in my house today:
Me, sending Elisabeth on a mission-"Quick! Like a bunny!"

Elisabeth, hopping away-"Ribbit! Ribbit! Ribbit!"

Me-"That's a frog, not a bunny!"

Elisabeth-"Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit!"
I noticed part of my son's ninja outfit hanging out from under his cloths after we had arrived at Bible club this morning. Luckily, no-one was hurt by the undercover ninja attending class, and the his secret identity remained intact.
My kids are playing with a jalapeno. It is quite amusing.
So I just found the hairbrush and comb that was missing. Both were filled with plastic pony hair. Suspicious.
Well apparently the doctors have it all wrong, and all you have to do to make a sick, feverish child feel better is feed it marshmallows every now and then!
Note to self: scratching eyes, nose, or ears after cutting serrano peppers is a very, very bad idea.
Necessary qualifiers: "Elisabeth, go wash your face and hands."
"With my skirt?"
"With my tongue?"

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Mighty Fortress is Our House

I love all the locks on the doors.  I love the fact that every window has heavy iron bars.  I love that our hacienda is closed with a giant iron gate and a heavy padlock.  These are all things that help me sleep at night a little more peacefully.

These things are great, until you lose your keys and the doors are locked.  This morning, I used the keys to unlock the back door so I could light the hot water heater.  (There was wind in the night, so it was out.)  I remember placing the keys on the table in the kitchen.  Later, one of my children, who shall remain nameless, picked them up, and I told her to put them away.  It was to be the last time I saw them.

They passed through her hands to the unpredictable hands of my son, who is not remaining nameless because I'm still holding it against the little twerp.  Extensive questioning revealed that they went up and down the stairs in a pillowcase for a while, unlocked secret doors in the walls and the beds in the kids bedrooms, and then somehow evaporated.

I have an image in my mind of George Bailey shaking poor Uncle Billy by the collar and screaming at him, and for the first time, I relate to George.  (Note, I did not do that to my son, I just related.)  We were trapped in the house with no way out.

Hours later, with everything from the rooms having been gone through, every stone unturned, and church service coming up, we gave up and called a locksmith.  He got them open after about 30 minutes of work, and had the locks replaced with new keys two hours after that.

Hey I've got an idea!  Let's be real careful with these keys!

I had a Bible lesson to give tonight about being anxious for's funny how the Lord gives me an object lesson on what I'm teaching.  I'm pretty sure that lesson was more for me than for the kids.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

You encouraged me!

When I went to the Youth Conference at Lancaster Baptist Church, I had reached the point where I just wanted to do whatever God wanted me to do. He led me very directly, based on the doctrine, standards, and spirit of love for God; to go to West Coast Baptist College the next Autumn. It was a decision I have never doubted or regretted, even after things (bills, sickness, etc.) got tough.

I knew what God wanted me to do, and when I stepped forward to do it, He provided, and kept on leading me to the next step. Right now, I am still on that path, and He's just as faithful as ever. I've seen things and done things I could never have imagined. He's given me a life that is challenging at times, but so packed with amazing things, that the funny little ideas I had as a child of what my future would be look silly.

I get to see God do what He does! What does He do? He transforms lives. He takes impossible situations (a dozen are popping into my mind, just from this past year.) and turns them into glorious and unexpected blessings. He can crush hearts of stone, and save people everyone else has given up on. He humbles Himself to hear the voice of little children who are hurting, confused, or just want to learn how to know Him better. He humbles Himself to hear my cry!

And I wanted to be a veterinarian. I've got nothing against veterinarians, don't get me wrong. If that's what God made you for, go for it. I just can't now imagine myself doing anything other than what I'm doing now.

Which brings me to the title of my post. Some of my friends from my church made some decisions at the last Youth Conference. I remember, some years ago, sitting in the pew and listening to you sing, "But each one, can reach one, if we follow after Christ we all can lead one, we can lead one, to the Savior..." If you saw me you must have wondered what was wrong with me, because I was blubbering. I was thinking, "What if each one of these children did what God made them for?" And I was praying for you. If you start out on that path, you may or may not end up in Mexico like me, but I promise you, you will never ever regret it! Hearing that you made decisions for God is such an encouragement to me I can't find words to explain it. Stick with those decisions! Keep hold of the faith that God has given you now (we make those decisions by faith), and He will bless you for it. Do what He made you for!

You are taking a step away from your families to study, and to gain experience serving God. I know this can be nerve wracking, and sometimes you will feel homesick. If you start out with a bad attitude, it will be real tough. If you make some unwise decisions along the way, the devil will try to convince you that you are done for. He will also throw some roadblocks in front of you from time to time.

God knows all about each and every one of these things, and I've seen Him give victory to His own in each of these situations. So what I'm saying is, step in to finish! If you have a goal, finish it, and be open to God guiding your life from this point. Let the Lord have His way in your life, and don't let yourself get discouraged, as challenges come. Keep getting closer and closer to the Lord, letting Him use every thing you pass through to draw you more and more into His heart. If you are taking that step away from your family, and into the will of God, it's like stepping right into His arms. Don't worry about anything-He will take care of you!

I hope you don't think I'm nagging. This is just sisterly advice from someone whose gone that way before, and loves you, and can't keep her mouth shut. Know that I'm praying for you!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Celebrating with Menudo!

 It's menudo!  The kids aren't being bratty-it really does smell that bad when it's cooking.  It's my husband's favorite dish, because he grew up in a Mexican home where menudo was standard holiday fare.  It makes him think of happy times. (It does taste a lot better than it smells.)

I love him.

Happy Birthday Sweetheart!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

New Building!

Bro. Pedro, Bro. Ryan, and Bro Ismael
You might notice that both Ryan and I are bright pink-we went doorknocking the day before and forgot sunblock.

People arriving in the church van

I'm so thankful for the opportunity we've had to be part of the planting of this church!

May the gospel continue to be preached from this spot for generations to come!

Monday, May 09, 2011

Happy Mother's Day (and I'm NOT late!)

Here mother's day is tomorrow, which means for my multicultural children, they must honor their American heritage, and their Mexican heritage.  Absolutely.  Yesterday I got cards from my kids, and my sweet oldest daughter made coffee and brought me some. (I'm not ready to trust her cooking in the kitchen without help.)

 My husband says I have to pick one day.  I think he needs to open his mind!  What about embracing the good in other cultures and all?  Well, I'm going out with him today, so I better not complain!

For the record, I love being a mom.  I had a sweet, humble, hardworking, dedicated mom that I try to be like as much as I can, and this journey has been one I would not trade for anything.  It's a privilege indeed!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

God's blessing poured out-and missed!

The storms have begun!  We have a nice warm day, then around 4 oclock, on the dot, thunder slams through, rain pours, hail hammers, and my dog freaks.  These began this week, and as we experienced this every day during the spring and summer of last year, it does not bother us. (Humans)

Church time under a tarp, on the other hand, is an adventure.  Chairs are moved to the middle.  There are many more people now than there were last summer, so we are close together.  Puddles form quickly in the overhead tarp, and when a gust of wind moves the tarp, they empty out over the sides.  Tonight the seats had to be placed very close to the pulpit, and I was sitting on the front row, close to where Ryan was leading the singing.  We were singing "Avivanos, Senor".  I don't believe I've heard this song in English, but since it's a rousing revival song, I love it.  The last line of the second verse begins with "La lluvia de tu bendicion..." or "The rain of your blessing..."  I thought quickly, Yup, we are getting that tonight!  The line ends with, "derrama ahora aqui!"  Or "pour out here, now!"

Right when we began to sing the word for "pour out", a puddle began to pour out blessing from the Lord directly to Ryan's left!  It started small, then dumped about a gallon of icy water into the platform, while he quickly sidestepped to the right, and continued singing, with difficulty, because the laughter problem.  (There are times when we must not make eye contact in church if we wish to retain proper decorum.)  Later, while Ryan was preaching, more "blessing" continued to pour out over the other side of the tarp, and we had to scramble to rescue the piano.  I thoroughly enjoyed the service tonight!  No one is going to be tempted to fall asleep if the visit here!

The good news is the construction of the building should be finished in a month or so!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Monday, March 21, 2011


Mondays are off days for us. It's like Saturday for us, and we have school on Saturday.  This morning we got up late.  I dilly dallied around and got around to making breakfast late-very late.  The kids cleaned up while I prepared a week's menu and shopping list; slowly.  I also found the time to tickle attack at least three of my children.  Elisabeth broke my pyrex baking pan, and I reassured her that I understood it was an accident.  Pyrex explodes violently when broken, so she was traumitized.  We went shopping, and on the way got stopped by the federal police to have our papers checked.  He saw that we were Americans with California plates and thought it would be good to make sure we were here legally.  (Honestly have no problem with that!)  Then we ate at a restaurant-very late for lunch, and enjoyed some more family time, and some fruit before sending the kids to bed.   David threw up all over his bed about five minutes after that.  This is no surprise, because this ugly bug passed through each of the girls last week.  David must have taken a little longer to incubate.  So now I have an urgent interruption in my laundry routine in the morning, waiting for me.  David is a brick, ready to do the deed and go right back to sleep.
All in all-a restful day, and and ordinary one.   I'm so thankful for days like this!  I love laughing and making my kids laugh.  I love helping them with their trials that seem so great to them, helping them to be strong.  We all need quiet days from time to time, don't we?  It never goes right to plan, but it helps me connect with my husband and my children.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Hey it's Spring!

There are some beautiful flowers growing in the fields, but not many near my house.  If I get some good pictures of the Spring blossoms here, I'll be sure to post them!  Here are some that I took of Springtime at my parent's place in Cloverdale last year.
Ryan was terribly allergic to this, I think.
Cherry plum blossoms just beginning to open

More cherry plum blossoms

Elisabeth was in this position much of the time.

Peach blossoms!

I forget what these are!

More from the peach tree.  (The same one that my daughter watered with gasoline.)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Happy Birthday Becca!


Roly poly


Always excited!

Always ready to explore

She looked great last year with no front teeth

Always ready to be silly

Happy birthday, sweetheart!