Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Christmas That Counts

Several months ago Ethiopia and her orphans became heavy on our hearts. We began to research ministries who reach and care for the many “least of these” in this country. We were pleased to find YWAM Ethiopia. YWAM Ethiopia reaches some of the most desperate orphans and widows.

Both Gretchen and I have served with and know well this wonderful ministry. YWAM is a ministry that serves in the US as well as around the world to offer God’s love in action to those in need. Gretchen was trained at YWAM Denver and has served in Guatemala’s remote villages and I partnered with YWAM Dallas serving the inner city youth program. Our relationship with this ministry extends over seventeen years.

Ever bought someone a goat or laying hens for Christmas?? We would ask that you consider supporting YWAM Ethiopia this holiday season as they impact REAL people this year. We have included some links buttons on our blog which will give details to the many opportunities.

To support a specific child or widow see the “Operation Giggle” button. The deadline for packages to be mailed is November 13, less than TWO weeks!

To purchase livestock or other needed items click on the “That We Might Be Adopted” button and then on the “Gift Catalog” button. Your gifts will be purchased in Ethiopia by their in-country representatives and distributed to those who need them most. No administrative fees will be deducted - 100% of your dollars will be used for widows, orphans and families.

Reformation Day

One of our newer family traditions is to go camping over Halloween weekend. All you have to do when you take something away is to give back something even better and camping, to our kids, is much better than trick-or-treating or attending one of the over crowded alternative functions at a local church. Plus, they never miss “Halloween” because they don’t see all the other children in the neighborhood dressing up and walking up and down the streets. So it is October 31 today and we are not camping. We had it all planned out, the place, the food, the friends we invited to go with us. What happened to the tradition? I chickened out. I absolutely love to camp, especially now that we have a pop-up camper. However, the thought of being 30 weeks pregnant and using a port-a potty twenty times a day and multiple times a night just did me in. A family camping trip will have to wait for spring. So we took away camping this weekend but are still having fun. We had a family day! The kids look forward to family nights when we will play games, watch a movie, or go somewhere special together. But today we had an entire day. We started with donuts for breakfast to get them good and sugared up since we were already depriving them of trick-or-treat candy. Then we packed a picnic lunch and headed for a local trail park. There are things I miss about the north, like the turning of the leaves and four seasons, but love that here in the south we have “beautiful enjoy the outdoor days weather” year round. We have a week long forecast of clear blue skies and 70 degrees. So today we walked, hiked, explored, discovered, and enjoyed our time together.


Building a dam.

Sophie had a little nature backpack and notebook with her and took the time to sketch and label many things she found interesting. These included poison ivy, wild mushrooms, an ant hill, animal den and poison oak vines.

Dad sacrifices himself to provide a clean table for the kids to set their food.

After our day at the park we headed to our church for a Reformation Day cookout and worship service where we ate, worshipped together, and watched clips of a historical movie about Martin Luther.

But this was not the end!

So regarding the above mentioned no “trick or treating” thing. When we got to the church for the cookout, I could not help but notice the unusual amount of Chipotle burritos that everyone was eating. In fact, I wondered if maybe the church had decided to splurge and provide Chipotle, yeeee haw. However, that was not the case. We were informed that Chipotle, which by the way is pronounced (chi-poht-ley) see, was giving, yes giving away free burritos, bowls, or tacos to anyone coming into the store adorned with aluminum foil. Now you and I both know that “wearing” foil on Halloween is kinda like dressing up. So what to do???? I hope y’all don’t think I am too pious to pass up free Chipotle over this. Heck, if they said I had to shove aluminum foil up my nose to get a free burrito, I would have been happy to do so. So we did, and had a great time together in the process. The last thing my three year old said to me when I tucked her in and kissed her goodnight was, “Thank you Daddy, I had a really, really lot of fun time today.

Thank you Lord for a great family and a fun day, and thank you Chipotle for the free burritos.


The History of Reformation Day

In late October, people all over the Western world dress up in costumes, attend parties, and consume handfuls of candy. Yet whether or not families join in on the Halloween festivities, very few recall one of the most significant events that ever happened on October 31. On that fall day in 1517, a young monk named Martin Luther nailed ninety-five theses to the castle church door in Wittenberg, Germany, which addressed the abuses of the sale of indulgences and which provided the catalyst for the Protestant Reformation.

Many churches standing in the heritage of the Reformation commemorate this momentous occasion as Reformation Day on the last Sunday of October each year. Luther’s magnificent hymn, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God,” is usually sung in worship services across the world as well as “For All the Saints” in order to remember all those who have gone before us. Churches with a more liturgical flavor use the color red to mark the occasion. Reformation Day continues to be a public holiday in several German states.

The celebration of Halloween remains a debated subject among evangelicals, but no one can dispute the influence of Martin Luther. He is one of the most important figures in Western history, as his thought has impacted family life, politics, church-state relations, individual liberties, and a host of other societal issues. His translation of the Bible is a high-point of biblical scholarship and did much to shape the development of the German language.

Comparable to Luther is John Calvin, another major figure of the Protestant Reformation. Calvin provided one of the most important summarizations of Christian theology in his Institutes of the Christian Religion, and his thought shaped the worldview of many of the earliest Americans. Economists recognize the reformer’s importance in laying the foundation for capitalism. Calvin’s work also influenced the Westminster Confession — the doctrinal basis for Presbyterians. Their system of church governance in turn is reflected in the judicial system described in the United States Constitution.

Luther and Calvin’s powerful expositions of the Gospel remain their most important legacy. Though earlier individuals such as John Wycliffe and Jan Hus would call for reform in the church, Luther’s forceful personality and Calvin’s brilliant systematization guaranteed reform would become widespread. In an era when the Gospel had been eclipsed by a system of human merit, Martin Luther, John Calvin, and the other reformers were able to remind the people of God that we are declared righteous in the sight of the Lord through faith alone in the person and work of Christ Jesus.

The widespread acceptance of watered-down doctrine and uncritical ecumenism in our day demonstrates how we cannot take biblical teaching for granted. Luther and Calvin were willing to die if necessary for the biblical Gospel, but many today simply ignore the doctrine of justification through faith alone by grace alone because of Christ alone. This year, let us remember the work of our forefathers on Reformation day and strive, as they did, to contend for the faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 3).

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


We have been busy. Our last post was over six months ago, but for good reason, baby Carel. We found out we were pregnant Mother's Day weekend and life has been about survival since then. The first and second trimesters are way too eventful for Gretchen. We have 12 weeks to go so are on the home stretch and life is getting back to normal (whatever that is.) So we hope to have some new posts soon and some older ones that have been on standby.