Saturday, July 29, 2006

Josiah's Plays Cricket

Josiah played cricket today with about 200 other children from the surrounding area. He has enjoyed learning how to play these South African sports - cricket, soccer, field hockey, and swimming - he knew how to swim, but they swim competitively over here. I don't know many elementary schools in America that have a competition-size swimming pool. He has enjoyed all of his extra-curricular activities. He is also taking piano lessons at school. Josiah's name was submitted by his coach to represent the North West Province in regional competition play. We'll have to wait and see if he is chosen.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

The Baboons

I saw some baboons along side the road today as I went to visit a pastor in Leherutshe. As I saw them and then passed the baboons, I just said to myself – “Oh, there are some baboons!” It was kind of like “Oh, there is some dirt.” I realized just after I passed them how complacent I had become about seeing ‘animals’ along side the road. We have herds of cows walk through our sub-division. Donkeys stand beside and in the road as you swerve to miss them. Sheep and goats are everywhere! As I was thinking about this I quickly stopped and turned around just to watch them do whatever baboons do. It was then that the Lord quietly said, “Dennis, have you become complacent about seeing people... along side the road, in the shops, everywhere you go?” I paused and asked the Lord just again to tenderize my heart – allow me to see people through eyes of love – to see them in relation to eternity.

The reason that I was going to Leherutshe was to visit John Ndlovu and his family. He is a pastor that I have preached for on numerous occasions. He calls me the “Prince of Preaching!” I just have to laugh to myself and think that he must not have heard anyone else preach. He is leaving his church after 4½ years. He has had a hard time. The church had previously been without a pastor for 18 years – yes, you read that correctly – 18 years. Needless to say, there is a little bit of leadership “anarchy.” Those ‘in charge’ had a hard time submitting to the leadership of the pastor. He stayed as long as he could. He is talking with a church in Johannesburg about planting a church for them in J-burg. I would ask that you pray for them during this time of transition.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

July Update

And these are the sons of Zibeon: Aiah and Anah—he is the Anah who found the hot springs in the wilderness when he was pasturing the donkeys of his father Zibeon – Genesis 36.24. You know it is interesting reading through all the genealogies and finding comments about people. The only significant event worth mentioning about Anah’s life is that he found some water while taking care of some donkeys. The question has to be asked of us – in light of eternity - when our life is through and our epitaph is carved in stone, what will be ‘written’ about us?

We are thankful for the passing of June – as June in South Africa is winter and it is cold. June in Setswana basically means ‘don’t visit because we don’t have enough blankets.’ It has been a lot colder this year than last year. The insects that were not killed last year were certainly killed this year. Houses are not centrally heated so when you come inside from the outside cold, there is not a whole of change. We do have heaters in the bedrooms and a large kerosene heater in the living room; it still is not the same as central heat. However, I know that we are a lot warmer in our house than many people living in corrugated metal ‘houses.’ So we continue to be thankful for all of God’s blessings.
I had a very good meeting with Ben Poo and Moses – he is the man that will be leading the Bible study in Unit 15. He is also leading a Bible study out in the same village that Jody is storying in. I will be working with Moses in strengthening and encouraging these two groups. I told Ben and Moses that our purpose was for these groups to eventually become churches. They were in full agreement and that was their purpose also. The area is wide open in Unit 15, and across the road is another area of about 500 – 750 houses going up. These are RDP houses – houses that were promised to people when apartheid ended and the new government was put in place.
There has been another Bible study started at the Hotel School – like a Hotel Vo-Tech – where you learn everything from the kitchen to the cash register. We had 17 students on our very first night. Hedley Daniels, pastor of Calvary BC, and I are partnering together for this Bible study. The school is walking distance to Calvary, so many of the students attend.
That’s a little bit of what is happening. Thanks for your prayers and giving to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and through the Cooperative Program. Your prayers and giving makes us partners together in the harvest.

Well, first of all, I want to greet you all, our prayer partners. We certainly do love you and can’t wait to see you again. We are looking forward also, to the warmer weather! As Dennis told you we’ve been cold! We all had the flu last month, and I’m still recovering from the congestion. I can’t take a lot of medicine right now, and I think that has made me stay sick longer. Please pray that we can all be completely healthy again!
I’m still going to the village to teach Bible stories. We’ve been having huge numbers these last couple of weeks because school is out for a break. It has been really good. I think I told you of another woman last time who died from AIDS. We witnessed to her and her family. Two weeks went by after we buried her before we were able to get to the village again. When we arrived, we were told that this woman’s two month old baby had died the day after we buried her. I was heartbroken. I started beating myself up over what I should have done or could have done. But, no one knew what would happen except the Lord. I have comfort in the fact that this child is with Jesus, and also his mother. My sister has asked how I can deal with all the death. I just can’t think about it much. It does teach us all that life is short, and that the decisions we make today will affect us tomorrow whether we think so or not.
The boys are finishing up their second term of the school year in about three weeks. Andy and I are working furiously to try to finish up fifth grade so we can get back on the American schedule to start sixth grade. He’s doing very well with only a little complaining! I have just met with Caleb’s and Josiah’s teachers. They are both doing very well and excelling in every way. We’re very proud of them. Caleb’s teacher actually said that she sees Caleb as having a more equal relationship with her than that of teacher-student. That makes me laugh because I can just see Caleb telling her all kinds of things. She can actually converse with him. Of course, he also makes her laugh! He says something funny almost every day. His most recent is that he washed his “knee-pit” in the bath. I had to call and tell my parents about that one! Bethany is doing well. She’s growing up so fast! She’s starting to talk, and actually say things that we can understand. She’s also trying to learn her colors. She always starts out with something being “green.” She hero-worships her brothers. They don’t mind being wrapped around her fingers along with their Daddy. I do know one thing, though. She’s going to have a rude awakening to reality when this new little girl arrives. Bethany will have to share Mommy! We’ll see how that goes. We’re still working on a name for the baby. I want her to have at least one Bible name. There just aren’t as many girl names as boy names in the Bible. She will have a name eventually you know, though.
I guess that’s all for me and the kids. Hope to hear from all of you. Thank you for your giving and your prayers.


Wednesday, July 12, 2006

An Interview with Rick Warren

I usually don't forward things but I thought this was really worth you reading this. This is an absolutely incredible short interview with Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life and pastor of Saddleback Church in California. In the interview by Paul Bradshaw with Rick Warren, Rick said:

People ask me, What is the purpose of life? And I respond: In a nutshell, life is preparation for eternity. We were made to last forever, and God wants us to be with Him in Heaven. One day my heart is going to stop, and that will be the end of my body--but not the end of me. I may live 60 to 100 years on earth, but I am going to spend trillions years in eternity. This is the warm-up act -- the dress rehearsal that God wants us to practice on earth what we will do forever in eternity. We were made by God and for God, and until you figure that out, life isn't going to make sense. Life is a series of problems: Either you are in one now, you're just coming out of one, or you're getting ready to go into another one. The reason for this is that God is more interested in your character than your comfort. God is more interested in making your life holy than He is in making your life happy. We can be reasonably happy here on earth, but that's not the goal of life. The goal is to grow in character, in Christ-likeness.
This past year has been the greatest year of my life, but also the toughest, with my wife, Kay, getting cancer. I used to think that life was hills and valleys -- you go through a dark time, then you go to the mountaintop, back and forth. I don't believe that anymore. Rather than life being hills and valleys, I believe that it's kind of like two rails on a railroad track and at all times you have something good and something bad in your life. No matter how good things are in your life, there is always something bad that needs to be worked on. And no matter how bad things are in your life, there is always something good for which you can thank God. You can focus on your purposes, or you can focus on your problems. If you focus on your problems, you're going into self-centeredness, which is, "my problem, my issues, my pain."
But one of the easiest ways to get rid of pain is to get your focus off yourself and onto God and others. We discovered quickly that in spite of the prayers of hundreds of thousands of people, God was not going to heal Kay or make it easy for her. It has been very difficult for her, and yet God has strengthened her character, given her a ministry of helping other people, given her a testimony, drawn her closer to Him and to people. You have to learn to deal with both the good and the bad of life. Actually, sometimes learning to deal with the good is harder.
For instance, this past year, all of a sudden, when the book (The Purpose Driven Life) sold 15 million copies, it made me instantly very wealthy. It also brought a lot of notoriety that I had never had to deal with before. I don't think God gives you money or notoriety for your own ego or for you to live a life of ease. So I began to ask God what He wanted me to do with this money, notoriety and influence. He gave me two different passages that helped me decide what to do, II Corinthians 9 and Psalm 72.
First, in spite of all the money coming in, we would not change our lifestyle one bit. We made no major purchases.
Second, about midway through last year, I stopped taking a salary from the church.
Third, we set up foundations to fund an initiative we call The Peace Plan to plant churches, equip leaders, assist the poor, care for the sick, and educate the next generation.
Fourth, I added up all that the church had paid me in the 24 years since I started the church, and I gave it all back. It was liberating to be able to serve God for free.

We need to ask ourselves: Am I going to live for possessions? Popularity?

Am I going to be driven by pressures? Guilt? Bitterness? Materialism?

Or am I going to be driven by God's purposes (for my life)?

When I get up in the morning, I sit on the side of my bed and say, God, if I don't get anything else done today, I want to know You more and love You better. God didn't put me on earth just to fulfill a to-do list. He's more interested in what I am than what I do.

That's why we're called human beings, not human doings.

Happy moments, PRAISE GOD.
Difficult moments, SEEK GOD.
Quiet moments, WORSHIP GOD.
Painful moments, TRUST GOD.
Every moment, THANK GOD.