Friends Along the Way

We just spent the weekend in Greenwood, Wisconsin at Missionary Baptist Church visiting with friends, Pastor Geoff and Pam Smith.

Our family shares a number of similarities with the Smiths. Geoff and I are both from Pennsylvania (having grown up about 45 minutes away from each other). Sarah and Pam are both from Colorado. We all attended Northland Baptist Bible College, and then Geoff and I both graduated from the same seminary. Not only that, but both sets of families have 5 children. Needless to say, we had a lot of fun spending time together.

img_4123img_4121As in just about every place we go, we have felt very welcomed. Our kids loved the time playing together, and we had some fun outings (like visiting a farm and playing miniature golf). I am grateful for Geoff and Pam’s ministry at Missionary Baptist, and their investment in our family as well. They were very gracious hosts and were so kind to take time out of their schedules to make us feel at home!img_4089img_4098img_4101img_4107img_4090img_4104img_4095img_4118

Mentors and Friends in Ministry

For those in ministry, we all need mentors, and we all need friends. It is really special though, when the same person can serve as both your mentor and friend.

This past week our family had the chance to spend time with a man I have greatly respected over the years. Curt Lamansky was a professor at Northland when I first met him back in 1998 during my freshman year. I vividly remember times sitting in his classes and soaking up teaching on theology. In many ways, I have sought to pattern my own teaching after his. I look to him as a mentor in ministry.

But, over the years, I have also appreciated Curt’s friendship. On occasion (when we would visit Northland), I would bump into him and it was always a blessing to reconnect. However, since we have begun working on the program for Haven of Grace Seminary, we have had a ton of opportunities to communicate. Curt has been a huge help in formulating the program layout and helping us think through important questions ahead of the launch of the seminary. I have truly appreciate his friendship.

This past week, it was wonderful to get to visit the church Curt pastors (Immanuel Bible Church – Sheboygan, WI). The folks there we so kind to our whole family. We got to experience so much while we were there from visiting Bookworm Gardens, to Lake Michigan, to enjoying fresh (delicious) Wisconsin cheese!img_3902

Family and Friends

On August 18 we began our Westward travels. Although there are many long hours on the road, there are also many blessings along the way–the greatest of these being opportunities to connect with family and friends. After our meeting in Western PA on Sunday, August 19, we traveled to Sarah’s brother and sister-in-law’s home in Midland, Michigan. We spent four exciting, fun-filled days with the Muths. Having all 9 cousins together meant there was never a dull moment in the house!img_3821It was a true blessing for Sarah to reconnect with her younger brother, Michael. We are all looking forward to Thanksgiving when the entire Muth clan will be together in Rocky Ford, Colorado.img_3831img_3804After leaving the Muths we made a pit stop at the Regular Baptist Press Headquarters in Arlington Heights, Illinois (You can read more about that in the blog post “Signed Contract!

A good friend of mine, Tim Wilkes, lives only about an hour from Arlington Heights, so we thought this would be the perfect time to stop over to see them. We had the chance to stay with Tim and Emily and their family on Friday night. Tim was my best friend in college and it is hard to believe that it has been over a decade since we have last seen each other. We seemed to pick right up where we left off, and it was great to be able to reconnect with Tim and Emily, and let our families get to know each other.img_3886img_3891img_3882img_3852img_3866I am finding that the journey in life is what you make of it. You can know great joy in the various circumstances and changes in life, if you trust God’s leading, rest in His goodness and show gratitude for the blessings (both small and great) that He graciously provides.img_3874

Signed Contract!

On our journey out West we had a chance to stop by the Regular Baptist Press Headquarters in Arlington Heights, Illinois so I could sign the author contract for my upcoming book, God Gives More Grace.

During our visit, I was privileged to spend time with the director of Regular Baptist Press, David Gunn.

These are exciting days and I will try to share more details in future posts.

Big, Exciting News – REVEALED

On Friday, we told you that we had some “Big, Exciting News” to share… but at that time we were not quite at the place where we could share it. Well, today, we are thrilled to reveal the news.

Last Friday, I received word that Regular Baptist Press would like to publish my book, God Gives More Grace. Today, I received the contract for the book, which I will sign on Friday, August 24 when we visit RBP’s headquarters in Arlington Heights, Illinois.

I will take some time to tell more about the book, and how God brought all of this together in later blog posts. But for the meantime, we are just excited to partner with Regular Baptist Press to see this work published!

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Big, Exciting News!

Have you ever had big, exciting news that you can’t wait to share… but you are not quite at the point where you can share it just yet? Well, that’s exactly where we are at. Stay tuned for some thrilling news to come. (And no, we are not expecting another baby!)

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Sing Praise to God

Last Sunday we visited New Life Fellowship Baptist Church (East Stroudsburg, PA) and really enjoyed out time with Pastor Pat and Debbie Hughes and the church family at New Life.img_3615While there I was reminded of the importance of singing. After the Sunday evening service a group of men gathered around a couple of guitars to just sing praise to the Lord. After taking care of a couple of things, I was even able to join in with my ukulele! As time went on the crowd grew, and we were singing together until around 10pm. img_3632Singing is a vital part of a Christian’s worship. There are few greater joys than to sing with all of your heart to the praise and glory of God surrounded by fellow believers. And singing is something Christians should get used to. As we get glimpses of heaven from the book of Revelation, the saints are frequently surrounding God’s throne, offering their songs of praise. Let us sing the praises of our Redeemer!

“I will sing unto the LORD as long as I live: I will sing praise to my God while I have my being” (Psalm 104:33)

 

Future Plans

FUTURE PLANS

We have been thankful for many blessings and some great meetings over the past 11 months. I wanted to briefly outline our future plans for the rest of this year leading into 2019 all the way up to our departure for the Philippines.

Mid-August 2018 Through Mid-January 2019

We will begin our trek out West with a meeting in Western PA on Sunday, August 19. From there we will spend time with family in Michigan followed by two Sundays presenting our ministry in Wisconsin. From Wisconsin we will visit with family around Kansas City, Missouri before heading to Sarah’s family in Rocky Ford, Colorado. In the middle of September we will venture even further West with meetings in Salt Lake City, Utah, Elko, Nevada, and Bend Oregon. While in Oregon we look forward to spending time with my sister and her husband who live in Portland.

Once we make it back to Sarah’s home town (Rocky Ford, CO) in mid-October, we will have meetings in the surrounding area throughout the rest of the year.

Sometime in early- to mid-January we will begin our journey back East.

Mid-January 2019 Through February 2019

We hope to have most of our support in place by the end of the year (we are presently bumping up against 70%). During the frigid months of January and February, I intend to take some time off traveling in order to prepare materials for the courses I will be teaching when we launch the seminary. In the first semester I get to teach Hermeneutics (Interpretation of Scripture) and Greek Grammar 1. During this time I will also continue coordinating the teaching schedule with adjunct faculty as we fill out the seminary program. Things on that front are already falling into place, and we are close to having the first semester already filled.

March 2019 Through May 2019

In the final months before our departure, we will try to visit a few new churches, and potentially a couple of our supporting churches. During these months I will continue working on course materials, as well as making sure we have the proper paperwork in place for our Visas.

May 2019 Through June 2019

In May 2019 we leave for the Philippines with plans to launch Haven of Grace Seminary in June 2019.

As I have noted before, we are planning on returning to the States every April and May (while the seminary is in summer recess) to visit our supporting churches and raise any additional support needed.

Thank you once more for your support and encouragement. We are looking forward to being in the Philippines this time next year training Filipino nationals for Gospel ministry!

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Thanks to God for You

Last Wednesday, I had the chance to preach in the mid-week service at our home church. The text we considered came from 1 Thessalonians 1:2 where Paul offers thanks to God for the Thessalonian Church. As you read the rest of his letter to them, you can tell that Paul is genuinely grateful for this band of persecuted, yet faithful believers. We took time on Wednesday to note that Paul could not say the same of every congregation he wrote to. In fact, the occasion for many of his letters (like Galatians or 1 Corinthians) brought out a tone of frustration more than appreciation.

This past weekend, we had the chance to be with Grace Baptist Church (Highland Falls, NY). This is a ministry for which we can truly offer thanks to God. It is amazing how quickly you can feel at home in certain places with fellow believers.img_3495From the very start, Pastor Steve and Debbie Snavely, made us feel welcomed.img_3570We enjoyed meals with them, and they even took us out on Saturday to visit nearby West Point.img_3509The Warner sisters are buried in the back corner of the West Point Cemetery. It was encouraging to hear of their witness to the soldiers, and the impact they left in the words to the beloved song, “Jesus Loves Me.”img_3524img_3506On Sunday, we enjoyed the opportunity to interact with this passionate group of believers. It was a privilege to open the Word of God to them and share the ministry God has called our family to at Haven of Grace Seminary.

In the afternoon, Pastor Steve gave us a tour of the nearby Fort Montgomery Fire Department (where he volunteers). The kids had a blast checking out the fire trucks and trying on the equipment.img_3551img_3550img_3540img_3546The Fire Department at Fort Montgomery has a piece of steel from the Twin Towers, along with a memorial to those who lost their lives on 9-11. It is important to remember the sacrifice of so many firefighters to who gave their lives to help save others on that dreadful day.img_3531Pastor Steve and Miss Debbie (as the kids called her), along with their church are folks we can truly give thanks to God for! We thank God upon every remembrance of them.