Date Nights and Gun Fights

It seemed to be a date-night like many others, a little ice cream and good conversation. We had managed to step out together for an evening out alone during our recent trip and we were delighted to practice this important routine in a new place.  As we finished our ice cream and walked back to the car, we recalled seeing an Indian grocery store nearby, and thought we’d like to go check it out.  We pulled through the parking lot toward the Indian grocery and noticed a group of bikers standing at a bar and grill. But what shocked us out of our conversation would change our night. 

It started with yelling suddenly getting louder than our conversation.   

“I’m not f… drunk.   … on’t let him go..  …  keep him away fr…..  “

A bike revs to life as a handful of bikers run toward the commotion. Five or six others were trying to restrain a guy on a bike.

“get your….  he’s got a….. Bi..’s gonna run… Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go”

Before we knew it, there were more then twenty guys in leather were rushing forward. Pop, pop, pop, pop, pop.  People went down, bikers were shooting and running, and cycles were racing out of the lot.

In a matter of a few seconds, our evening was transformed from a peaceful date night conversation into one with gunfire less than 40 feet away.  It could have easily ended badly for someone.  It sounds like a bad TV drama, but this was no romantic Hallmark rewrite of “The Wild One“. 

As the action slowed, people poked their heads from behind cars and looked around.  As far as anyone could tell, there wasn’t going to be a bloodbath right in front of us, and the danger was past.  Amy and I looked at each other and said “Welcome to the big city”. 

Later, I reflected on the situation and was reminded again that five seconds can be a very long time.  God was gracious that night, and reminded me again how precious life is, and how uncertain is the number of our days.  We are given but a small window of time here, and the choices we make significantly impact our own lives and the lives of others, both here and for all eternity.  

If you have not believed in Jesus to give you the free gift of everlasting life, please talk with us – we would love to share with you some of the reasons that we are persuaded that you can believe Him to do as He promised. 

If you a believer and not experiencing closeness and vitality in your Christian walk, I want to share a bit with you from my heart.  You have probably heard me say it before.  Even though you can’t lose eternal life, there is something which you can walk away from – discipleship.

Luke 14 defines a disciple of Jesus this way “If anyone comes to me, and doesn’t disregard his own father, mother, wife, children, brothers, and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.”  You can try to sugar coat things a bit but let’s just be honest here, if we look at what we have been given (time, talent, treasure) and we see relationships, objects or affections in close competition for our lives, you can call it lots of things but one thing you can be certain is that it is not discipleship. If we meditate more on Facebook than on His book, it’s not discipleship. If we are seeking the praise of others, it’s not discipleship. If we spend more time investing in our sports team than God’s mission, it’s not discipleship. Discipleship is learning from Jesus and putting this knowledge into action. Discipleship must permeate all aspects of life or it is not discipleship. It is not free and it takes hard work, commitment, and endurance.
 

Perhaps the hardest thing is that for every one of us there are times where we can see we are not living the life of a disciple. But do not give up. Luke 15 goes on to tell three of the most gracious and emotionally stirring stories which answer “Can I regain discipleship – and become salty again? Is there hope even for me?” I encourage you to read them on your own and note just a few things. 

  • The sheep, the coin, the son – they are always the Shepherd’s sheep, the Widow’s coin, the Father’s son. No matter where you have strayed, any who have believed in Jesus’ promise for everlasting life are secure in that position.  
  • See the common thread of God’s joy over anyone who gets right with Him. See 1 John 1:9 on how to get right with God. 
  • Note the patience and forbearance of the shepherd, the widow and the father in looking for the restoration of his valued possession. Remember that this is the picture of God who in His lovingkindness is merciful and longsuffering yet looking for the restoration of you, His valued child.
  • See the tender kindness of the shepherd who carries his wandering sheep back. Remember that you can’t restore yourself, only God can. 
  • Observe the father who does not bully or cajole but waits for a straying child to ‘come to his senses’ and does not withhold richness much beyond what the son deserves or could earn through his own labor. 

There is much more and coincidently our pastor chose to teach this particular passage just this last week. (You can watch the service here) .

Friends, I hope that you know that there is little more important to us than that each of us would be able to stand before Jesus one day and with a radiant, warm smile on His face He would wrap you up in His arms and say to you “Welcome home, you were a faithful servant. I am so proud of you. Rejoice, come share in your inheritance.”   

Your life is precious, and your time here on earth is finite. Use it with great discernment. And if there are issues between you and God, now is a good time to get things right. 

If you have any questions about this passage or other matters we would love to chat with you. 

We’ve been taking a date every week for more than 20 years, but didn’t get a picture on this one.  So here’s a different picture from our trip – where we found a “Davis” truck stop!

Current Support Level: 41% monthly, 63% annual

Road Trip!

We have been on our supporter connections road trip for the past two weeks, and are currently enjoying our eleventh host of the trip!  A special thanks to the many who have shared of themselves through lodging, food or other resources.

If you visit our website or are connected to us on social media, you’ve probably seen several pictures of our adventures (we’re posting pictures a few days after visiting a particular place).

The highlight of the trip for me (Amy) so far has been the wonderful fellowship.  We’ve made or renewed connections with a number of people, and have been greatly encouraged by the community of those who love God and His word.  

Along the way we’ve done a handful of small helping projects – scrubbing a school bus, constructing a fence, and filling potholes, and we’ve also had some terrifically fun experiences – barrell riding, swimming, four wheeling, and bowling!  We even got to enjoy some tourism – it was the kids and my first time to the Gulf of Mexico, to see an alligator and dolphins in the wild, and to visit  Washington DC.

We’re so grateful to God for allowing this trip (and providing the car to do it in), and to our friends for hosting us, praying for us, donating hotel time, and giving toward this ministry.  Truly, we are beyond blessed.  God is using this time to refresh and encourage us, and help focus in our mission and methods toward greater effectiveness. There also have been so many wonderful opportunities for conversations that glorify Him also. Please continue to pray for us on the trip especially that God would give opportunities to share the gospel while we are traveling. 

Thank you!

Sweet fellowship at the Grace Evangelical Converence and in many other places!

Welcome Home

Dear Friends, When I (Chester) was a tad bit younger I served in the US Navy. I visited many ports in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and loved most of it. The beauty of God’s creation is staggering and it truly stirs your heart to praise.

However, the most moving of times was those days returning from deployment, standing at parade rest along the ship rail and as the morning fog lifted you could just see the outlines of your own home shore. As you chugged into the harbor the fog would continue to lift and the details would become clearer. Finally, when the tugs have gone and the ship is docked, the Captain would give the call “Liberty Call, Liberty Call for all non-essential personnel. Welcome Home and God Bless America”. The moment you hold for a lifetime though is sharing the joy of families reunited with their beloved. Even writing this narrative stirs my emotions. 

This last week we had the joy of welcoming Moriah back home from her service with Matt and Noelle Harris. We are very proud of Moriah for choosing to give of herself to serve during Noelle’s recovery from c-section. Matt and Noelle returned from serving in Uganda to have this latest addition (Charlotte), and connect with their supporters for a few months. Moriah helped them tend the kids and the housework as they scooted around Colorado, Kansas and Nebraska for the last weeks. I do not know if Moriah’s experience in returning home was like mine but what we want to say publicly is “Welcome home. Well done”. I want to engage your mind for just a moment and imagine a colossal homecoming that has been waiting for thousands of years. If you have been up on recent news in the world it may occur to you that perhaps that homecoming is closer now than ever. When Jesus returns there will be a performance review for believers, those who have received the free gift of eternal life by faith in Jesus. I get so excited about this return because God has said those whose performance excels will receive a hero’s welcome.A hero’s welcome, for me? Is it really possible? Absolutely yes. God wants you to succeed in your spiritual life and has made significant promises which you can trust. Because of this God wants you to add some things to your faith so that your faith will mature and be productive. Read more about this in 2 Peter 1:3-12 but I quote from the Berean Study Bible. “Therefore, brothers, strive to make your calling and election (commission) sure. For if you practice these things you will never stumble, and you will receive a lavish reception into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

I love it! A lavish reception. Yes, for those who have believed Jesus for everlasting life we can also believe Him to bring through life well. Do not be discouraged. Jude 1:24 says it so well. “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.”

I pray for you, that one day you will have the joy of being welcomed to our forever home with a truly lavish reception and these words “Welcome home. Well done my good and faithful servant”.
Moriah reads to the four Harris children

Prayer Requests

Friends – Would you mind praying for us today and this week? For the past few weeks now, we’ve felt spiritually attacked. It’s been comical (two broken stoves within a week), a bit painful (a broken tooth) and annoying (computers that don’t work right). It’s also been distracting (a project was delayed while we tried to fix stoves), and is starting to hinder our work (we tried to haul a load, and discovered that our trailer has two flat tires and of course, only one spare tire). Our patience is being tried(we’ve been trying to wait patiently for Rich’s boss to approve time off so that he and Chester can go to Kenya, but the approval keeps being delayed). And it’s starting to discourage us (after Chester spent an entire day working on the Suburban, it started backfiring).

This week, we are planning to leave for a week of visiting family and friends and getting some spiritual refreshment at the Grace Evangelical Society conference. It’s our version of a family vacation. The conference is an eleven-hour drive for us, and we want our vehicle to be in great shape to do it. Today, Chester plans to spend a portion of the day, in the freezing rain, troubleshooting and fixing whatever is causing the Suburban to backfire.

Would you please join us in praying:

  • For us to not be discouraged in our circumstances
  • For the Suburban to start working properly with very little additional time invested
  • For our health to stay good (we seem to be in a covid hotspot right now)
  • All the details of our upcoming trip to work out
  • Rich’s boss to allow his time off, and soon, so that we can purchase tickets for Chester and Rich to go to Kenya in six weeks.

And an additional prayer request: Our friends, the Shires, who serve in Southern France are in the process of buying a home. They have asked us to consider coming to help renovate so that they have sleeping quarters for all eight children as well as an office space to use for their work. Please pray for God to provide for them and to work out for us to help them if He would like us to.

The first of the broken stoves….

So many things to be grateful for!

The kids making nativity sets for a local nursing home in homeschool shop class.

For the past few weeks, we’ve been at home.  Yet even when we are home, we keep busy with plenty of smaller projects for and with local ministries.  One of our more time-consuming projects as we approach the end of the year is evaluating and summarizing the past year’s ministry.  We view this process as very important in sharing what God has done, in accountability, and also in shaping the upcoming year.

Most of you probably got physical mail from us this past week.  If you didn’t, then we either don’t have your address, or don’t have your permission to mail you.  Correct that by emailing us now!  (Our physical mailings are often different than these emails, and less frequent.)

This year, we found it helpful to make an info-graphic of our 2019 activity, and in the process of making it, were wowed again at some of the things God has done.

In the winter-spring, we took a course called “Perspectives on the World Christian movement”.  This was something we had been wanting to do for years, and was also required by our mission organization (GlabalGrace Fellowship). God provided both the funding and the large block of time needed for study and reflection. God used  the course to help clarify our vision and goals in ministry.  Thank you God!

In the summer, we spent a lot of family time volunteering with Glad Tidings Bible Camp (in Northeast Nebraska), and working at the bath house at Haven on the Rock (in Wyoming).  This resulted in a lot of driving – almost 40,000 miles in one year.  God kept us safe on the road with only one fender bender and only a few minor breakdowns.  Thank you God!

One area that we are seeing God’s hand is in finding equipment and materials for different ministries.  In the fall, God provided materials for the bath house project, and for a new kitchen upgrade project at Glad Tidings Bible Camp at huge discounts through auctions and providential donations.  Again, Thank you God!.  It’s so fun to see God’s hand involved in these projects!

In the physical letter we just sent out, we mention that our ministry vehicle needs to be replaced.  Today we received notice that six individuals had sent special financial gifts in the past month for our ministry – without even knowing about our need.  God started sending money to meet this need before we even asked for it!  Again, Thank you God, and thank you friends, for your generosity!

If you’d like to join with God in providing for this need, just click the button below to donate. 

As we come into the Christmas season let us not lose sight of the greatest gift. We are thankful to God for His provision of a redeemer. We are thankful for Jesus, the life giving messiah. We are thankful for the free gift of Eternal Life received simply through faith in Jesus the Christ. And we are thankful for God’s generous hand in helping believers walk in newness of life.

May God bless your Christmas season with many reminders of His love for you. 

Merry Christmas!