30 October 2007

28 October 2007

The Prayer that Brought the Holy Spirit Down, by John Piper

This was one of those "I love technology" days. I stayed home from our African church service this morning. After Ladies' Bible study yesterday afternoon, and a very tiring day for me in general... sometimes the African service, while I love it, is hard. I spend the bulk of my time walking around outside the building, trying to find shade for Elsie Mae and I, as she isn't always too inclined at her tender age of almost 14 mos to sit and listen to the sermon.

On those days when I do stay home, I try to find something interesting, something spiritually challenging, to listen to on-line. Often, I listen to sermons that have been uploaded to "SERMON AUDIO" by our church. Other times I listen to streaming Christian radio. Often, it just depends on how cooperative our internet connection is being.

Today, this sermon by John Piper caught my attention. While we don't agree lock, stock and barrel with all that he writes/preaches/advocates - he is always challenging and thought provoking, so I decided to listen. If you are interested in hearing his 31 minute sermon, you can click on the link above. If not, I've outlined his key points below. I'd be very interested to hear your comments/reactions to his message.

Acts 4:23-31

23 And being let go, they went to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said unto them.

24 And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is:

25 Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things?

26 The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ.

27 For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together,

28 For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.

29 And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word,

30 By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus.

31 And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.(KJV)

Piper contests that this passage, as the early church asks for a 2nd great outpouring of the Holy Spirit, is incredibly relevant to the church today: Why?

1) Because of the answer that came-- If you look carefully, there is a tremendous similarity between the response of the Holy Spirit in this situation and His initial coming at Pentacost?
  • they were all praying;
  • they were all filled;
  • there was shaking/a great sound - tangible evidence of God's power; and
  • the result was speaking with boldness the great things of God;

Thus, we can conclude that extraordinary enabling of believers by the Holy Spirit is not unique to Pentacost, and is necessary in even the very best, the very strongest of churches.

2) Because of who was praying-- Peter and John, just released, went to their friends and prayed with their friends. That word "friends" literally means "their own." It is the same word used when the rulers allow Paul while in prison to be ministered to by "his own," and also the same word used in John 1:11 ("He came unto his own, and his own received him not.) Thus, it was normal, everyday church believers who prayed this prayer. To pray this prayer does not require "apostalic authority"

3) Because of the occasion on which it was prayed-- Peter and John had just been threatened. (And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard. So when they had further threatened them... )

These men were men just like other men. They loved their wives and children. They wanted to live. Yet continuing to speak the name of Jesus would be dangerous. It would be very tempting to give into those very real threats (James is beheaded in Acts 12, Peter shortly thereafter is in jail escaped what appeared to be sure death only by miraculous intervention).

Essentially, these men were asking God to grant them a fresh filling of the Holy Spirit and a boldness in speaking, to continue as they had started, for they would be"walking right into the face of a loaded muzzle" that the chief priests and leaders had levelled at them.

Now, in our day and age, we may not face such physical threats, but we do face some other, incredible obstacles:

  • the anonymnity of our mobile and busy lives;
  • entertainment round the clock - we live in a world saturated with entertainment that continually shouts, "Don't think of God... PLAY!";
  • we are in a God-ignoring culture; medical technology - Americans don't give much thought to God when they get sick due to medical advances. Elsewhere in the world, poor health is an issue of eternity;
  • the church exhibits great weakness in speaking boldly, so we need the extraordinary power of the Holy Spirit.

4) Because of to whom this prayer was prayed-- 5/7ths of this prayer is man telling God who God is. Now, God does not need to know who God is, but we do... especially whn w are aobut to ask God to do something awesome. We need to remind ourselves who He is to give ourselves the courage - and then to know it and believe it completely in our hearts.

What do these believers say about God? In vs 24, they recognize Him as the Creator. In vs. 25-28 (my paraphrase of Piper's paraphrase) they essentially say, "You, God, control everything, even the wickedest deeds of the wickedest men and turn them to be meet for your plan and your purposes to save the world." Read vs. 27 and 28 again carefully to see this truth!

Theology matters - think of the doctrinal truths contained within this prayer: the doctrine of creation, the doctrine of the inspiration of the Word of God (part of Ps. 2 is quoted), the doctrine of the Sovereignty of God, the doctrine of prophesy and its ultimate glorious fulfillment. Yes, accurate theology is important.

5) Because of what was asked for--

  1. Look upon their threats! Peter and John were told to never speak the name of Jesus again in that city, EVER! The believers are crying out to God, "Look at how they are insulting Your Son!
  2. Then first, they ask to speak with boldness, that His Word go forth in power.
  3. Next, they ask Him to heal and do mighty works in the name of Jesus- in other words, to stretch forth His hand and bear divine witness of His Word after and as it was being preached. Why? Because of THE NAME!

In conclusion, we SHOULD continue to pray such a prayer! Why? Because of a love for our God, because of a love for His Son's Holy Name, and because of a love for those around you who need to hear about Him- in the place where God has placed you to minister by the Holy Spirit's power and in His Son's name.

...Not by might,
nor by power,
but by my spirit,
saith the LORD of hosts.

25 October 2007

Témoinage de vertu

This week, Anna received and award at school. Each week, students are selected from each class to be recognized for outstanding effort in particular areas of discipline. Anna was chosen from her class. In the collage below, you can see her as she receives her award (she was just a little nervous up in front of everyone.)

Her certificate reads:

"Anna Wright, Classe CE1A, a montré l'autodiscipline quand elle fait ce que l'on attend d'elle sans qu'on ait à le lui rappeler et qu'elle progresse toujours un peu plus dans son travail."

For those of you who don't read French:

"Anna Wright, in the CE1A class, has demonstrated self-discipline when she does what is expected of her without having to be reminded, and because each time, she progresses in the quality of her work."

We are so pleased with Anna's courage - we know French school is not easy (in fact, it is a bit scary) for her! And we are so pleased with her hard work. It truly is a privilege to be her mama and daddy!

24 October 2007

Studying through Jeremiah

I participate in an on-line, "Scripture of the Day," Bible reading and accountability group, which has really been a blessing to me for the past - wow - year and 1/2. I didn't realize it had been that long until I stopped and counted it up. We've been reading through Jeremiah - today was Jeremiah 22 - and it really, really spoke to my heart today, so I thought I'd share here what I felt the Lord was saying to me...

As I read this chapter, I looked at the commands given by the Lord to His people, most of whom were either ignoring or deliberately choosing to follow other ways. I found those commands a. very. good. reminder... for those of us comfortable in our churches, or present day walk with the Lord.

-HEAR the Word of the L*rd (the word "hear" refers to hearing intelligently, paying close attention, with the intent to obey)

-DO what is just and right (to do or make, in the very broadest sense possible)

-RESCUE from the hand of the oppressor (snatch away, defend)

-DO NO wrong or violence to the alien, the fatherless or the widow (maltreat, particularly violently)

-DO NOT shed innocent blood (spill forth, or more abstractly, expend - in other words, to use up or consume someone's energy or force)

-If you are careful TO CARRY OUT these commands, then... (includes the idea of accomplishing or becoming, sacrificing, serving or offering)

-If you DO NOT OBEY... I will surely make you like a desert...

After having lived here for several years, I am beginning to know just a little bit about the desolateness, the forsakeness, the barreness of the desert.

1) There are times it has a beauty and majesty that is unmistakeable, and when God leads through desert times, at the final tally, they will have been difficult but precious... something I'll never want to exchange.

2)On the other hand, when I choose desert times, there is naught but emptiness, thirst, longing and a desire to escape or death, for the Lord promises, "I will send destroyers..." Oh, how this is not God's desire for those He so loves, but He is clear that His justice cannot be escaped:

"People from many nations will pass by this city and will ask one another, 'Why has the Lord done such a thing to this great city?' And the answer will be; 'Because they have forsaken the covenant of the Lord their God and have worshipped and served other gods.' "

I've been starting to work on our Christmas prayer letter, and there is a theme that God has been impressing in my heart for several months, now - maybe longer. He has given me clear direction - there are really only two things He asks of me as one who carries His name:

1) To love Him above all else; and

2) To serve Him by allowing Him to love others through me.

That was what Jesus did so perfectly:

1) He loved God the Father so totally that even though He could claim equality, He chose submission and obedience and allowed His Father to lead Him into a place that must have been such a desert, I can not begin to imagine...

2) He allowed God to love man, so unutterably unlovely, through Him: through His birth, His life, His words and teaching, His anger, His suffering, His death, His resurrection, His ascension, and even now, His intercession on our behalf...

Thus, it is only through Him that I can approach God the Father, only by Him and His Spirit that I can begin to love and obey Him, and only by allowing Him to work through me that I can learn to truly love and serve others.

A bit later, I went back later to read how the Lord had spoken to some of the other ladies in the group, and I'd like to share one of the other gals thoughts. Catherine in Alaska, made a comment that provoked some more reflection:

The Lord says in verse 15:"He did what was right and just, so all went well with him. He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me? declares the Lord."I've been thinking about that verse for several minutes now. I am curious about the words "went well" and am wondering if that has a different meaning for God than it does for us? For instance I might think it means no sickness, job, home... and God may mean it to be well with my soul and have nothing whatsoever to do with material things (and can I [Richelle] add, temporal things?).

As I read her comment, I was thinking, "Right on!"

The last part of that verse: "Is that not what it means to know me?"

When we truly know Him - our view of a day that goes well will correspond with His perfect view of a day that goes well, and our hearts will be continually looking towards an eternity where we can be confident that-

all. will. always. go. well...

There is so much more in this powerful chapter - but the following verse was the last thing that particularly caught my eye: "I warned you when you felt secure, but you said, 'I will not listen!' This has been your way from your youth; you have not obeyed me." (Jer 22.21) How I do want to feel secure in my confidence and trust in my Savior, but I never do I want to become complacently secure that I've got it all figured out, that my plan and my way are better than what the Lord has in store.

22 October 2007


Read an interesting article relating parenting to "The Lord of the Rings..." It wasn't a "link" I'd considered before - but considering the LOTR fans in our family, thought I'd give it a read. Try it... you might like it... or at least find it interesting.


One of the hardest things about living so far away from family is not being able to be there during difficult times. It is hard to know what to say, hard to know how to best encourage, and for "doers" like us, hard to know that all we can do is pray, even when we know that is so important.

Recently, the kids' Grandma Betty has been in the hospital with some serious health problems. This Wednesday, their great grandfather, Pop-pop, will be having surgery on his back. Brendan decided he wanted to play them a song on his flute, hoping to encourage them and to remind them how very often we think of them and pray for them...
(Brendan is still nervous about playing by himself in front of people, so we recorded this with very little light for his comfort level. Please encourage him with your comments - we feel he is doing great for only having played the flute for a year!
S. Trevor Francis, 1834-1924
Thomas J. Williams, 1890
O the deep, deep love of Jesus
Vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!
Rolling as a mighty ocean
In its fullness over me,
Underneath me, all around me,
Is the current of Thy love;
Leading onward, leading homeward
To my glorious rest above.
O the deep deep love of Jesus,
Spread His praise from shore to shore!
How He loveth, ever loveth,
Changeth never, nevermore;
How He watches o'er His loved ones,
Died to call them all His own;
How for them He intercedeth,
Watcheth o'er them from the throne.
O the deep deep love of Jesus,
Love of every love the best;
'Tis an ocean vast of blessing,
'Tis a haven sweet of rest,
O the deep deep love of Jesus,
'Tis of Heav'n of Heav'ns to me;
And it lifts me up to glory,
For it lifts me up to Thee.

14 October 2007

Baby pics from a LOOOOOOONG time ago :-)

For some reason,

when Richelle was just a young'un,

she resisted giving her Pop-pop a kiss.

She would cry and cry

(and everyone else would laugh, so the story goes...)

Until she finally relented ...

All that fuss for nothing!


We had fun showing the kids the above photos,

as well as some other ones

of Richelle as a baby,

and their general opinion was

that Elsie Mae looks an awful lot like her mama.

Take a moment

and let us know what you think

by leaving a comment -

since we can't set up a poll for this one!

09 October 2007

He giveth and giveth and... giveth again....

Some weeks just seem more challenging than other weeks - and it seems the last few weeks have been among the more challenging ones. We've been struggling with some health issues here in Niger, Tim's mother is sick and in the hospital, Richelle's grandfather is awaiting surgery on his back, annoyingly, our refrigerator and freezer aren't working, the air cooler motor that burnt out is taking forever to be rewound, our water heater has once again sprung a leak, the front door doesn't close unless it is locked, in the past 10 days so many friends have come to us with serious and real needs and we feel helpless, not having any resources to offer them other than our love, friendship and prayers...

Yes, the Lord promises that His burden is easy and His yoke is light - but why are there so many days when it doesn't feel that way?

Thankfully, a very dear friend recently reminded me of the words to this song - and it is a song I've sung many, many times over the past several weeks, hearing my favorite arrangement in my mind so oft played by a man who used to be in our home church. His arrangement emphasized the unendingness of His giving as he played that last line of the refrain: "He giveth and giveth and... giveth again..."

There have been days lately where I've sung this song with tears in my eyes, but He, in His grace, keeps me singing, keeps me leaning on Him and keeps me trusting Him to walk (or carry) me through this time.

He Giveth More Grace (Annie Flint Johnson)

He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater, He sendeth more strength when the labors increase; To added affliction He addeth His mercy; To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.

When we have exhausted our store of endurance, When our strength has failed ere the day is half done, When we reach the end of our hoarded resources, Our Father's full giving is only begun.

Fear not that thy need shall exceed His provision, Our God ever yearns His resources to share; Lean hard on the arm everlasting, availing; The Father both thee and thy load will upbear.

His love has no limit; His grace has no measure. His pow'r has no boundary known unto men; For out of His infinite riches in Jesus, He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again!

2 Corinthians 12:9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

(If you'd like to hear the song, play the video. The song is sung by Larry Ford.)

04 October 2007

All those things that we moms like to say...

I came across this video yesterday -

it. was. just. too. funny!

Thought I'd share it with you...


this is supposed to make you




Actually, I hope you are more than smiling...



03 October 2007

Ready for some KICKBALL?

These photos are from back in August - it has taken me a bit of time to track them down, as the 2nd one was the only one I took before the recently recharged camera batteries fizzled thanks to the heat. Sahel has intramural sports each year, and home school and otherwise schooled students are invited to participate.

The kindergarten and elementary aged students played kickball. The jr high and high school students had a soccer tournament. So, pretty easy to figure it out - our girls were on the kickball field while Brendan was playing court soccer.

Since I wasn't the one taking the photos, I wasn't able to find any of Anna or Brendan playing. I was disappointed - when you see those two out with their peers, it is easy to see how much they've grown.

It is quite obvious, however, ...that Rebekah was the
camera magnet...

I remember many games of playground kickball as a child. It was always one of my favorites. I liked to play the equivalent of the "shortstop" position 'cause you got lots of action. Trying to steal bases was also fun.

But on this day, it was neat to watch my own children playing a game that I so enjoyed myself as a kid.



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