Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Live The Gift

Christmas 2006 is now history. For many people, it was stressful, depressing, an economic disaster. Lots of smoke and lights without any real substance that left them with mounds of empty boxes, empty emotions and empty check books...a legacy of debt.
What freedom, what joy we can have as Christians when we consider the reality of the greatest gift ever given--God's giving of Himself in the person of His Son that first Christmas. Everything else is just a pale imitation.
This Christmas eve, Living Hope Bible Church was again privileged to host a short time of remembrance of God's provision to pay our debt of sin. We saw how His promises given to His people in the old testament were fulfilled in the birth of Christ. We sang the story that is proclaimed in the carols of Christmas, and we heard it read in the words of scripture.
We met together with folks we knew and folks we'd never met...in a shed...on a farm...to celebrate Christmas. The baby cried, and the sheep tried to "bale" out...possibly the same things that might have happened on that first Christmas eve in another shed. Then we went home to live out the gift.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


Yesterday, at our Bible study at Oostburg Pizza Ranch, one of the ladies said that she had been talking to someone who sincerely believed that God is a God of love only…not a God of judgment. Nothing that my friend could tell this person seemed to sway her belief in who she thinks God is.
Many people today seem to be like this women, fashioning their concept of God upon what they “think He should be like”, a “Do It Yourself” God, rather than on what He says He is in His own words. They look to experience or emotions or, perhaps, just wishful thinking, and they see a god of indifference, a god of wrath and anger, or a soft and fuzzy god of love. But they do not see the God of the Bible because they do not listen to what He has said there about Himself.
Various accounts in the Bible reveal different facets of God’s character—some of which seem paradoxical—but God is really a sum of those seeming contradictions. Because He is holy and perfect, there is no tolerance for man’s impurity. Because He is righteous and just, He demands man’s absolute obedience to His commands. Because He is merciful and compassionate, He chose to serve man’s death sentence for disobedience (sin) Himself, so that His perfect justice could be satisfied, and man could live under the covering of His perfection.
All through the ages, men have attempted to fashion gods to their own standards. The Greeks and Romans and those who followed in their cultural footsteps pictured a pantheon of deities as sort of superheroes, larger than life, but with the same inherent failings of character that they experienced themselves. The Egyptians and those who worshiped the natural world assigned magical qualities to their gods of the heavens, the rivers, the animals. Some venerated wise men, teachers, and political and spiritual leaders, in spite of their human failings, and lifted them up as gods, worshiping them in both life and death.
Today, we live in an age of widespread religious tolerance and intolerance.
People seem ready to tolerate the elevation of both man and nature to objects of worship, yet they refuse to recognize God, their Creator, as He has represented Himself in His Word, the Bible. They are not willing to tolerate all of the attributes of God…only those that agree with their philosophy of who God should be.
But wishful thinking does not change the facts. DIY--Do it Yourself--is fine for home improvements, but it is a dangerous thing when we tinker with God.
God is not what I wish Him to be. He just Is what He Is.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Our Ultimate Objective

The October 19, 2006 Wall Street Journal had an interesting article by Emily Parker on Zaha Hadid, an Iraqi architect. Apparently, Ms. Hadid has a very original outlook regarding the relationship between design and function in architecture…in fact, she designed the BMW Central Building in Germany with conveyer belts carrying cars in production directly over the heads of employees. The article goes on to explain the reason for this novel approach: “Having the presence of your ultimate objective within view helps remind you of why you are there.”
We who are Christians would do well to remind ourselves of that fact.
If we are predestined to be conformed to the image of Christ, as Romans 8:29 tells us, should we not “keep the presence of our ultimate objective within view”?
When we lose sight of Christ as we work, as we play, as we worship, we forget why we are here on this earth. Ephesians 2:10 tells us that we are “his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them.”
Maybe so many of us are so ineffective in doing God’s work because we have lost sight of our ultimate objective…Jesus Christ, Himself. This is an area where I need to be reminded again and again to look at Jesus. It is so easy to focus on the work at hand…on plans for the future…on past failures…and not to focus on the One Who is both past and future.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Come, Meet the Stranger

When Jesus walked this earth 2000 years ago, He met people where they were--whether they were fishing or collecting taxes or worshiping God in the Temple in Jerusalem. He ate lunch with the religious leaders and with known "sinners", and He valued His friendships with women and children just as much as He did those with the inner circle of men He lived with each day. He invested nearly three years of His life in someone who would ultimately betray Him. And yet...even those who knew Him best really didn't know Him at all. Perhaps those of us who think we know Him well don't, either.
Today, I met with seven other women to study the Bible so that we can see God from His own perspective, through the lens of His Word. We will be meeting at 1:30 p.m. every Tuesday at the Pizza Ranch in Oostburg, Wisconsin, so if you are in the area, we'd invite you to stop in and listen to what God has to say about Himself. We will use the book, Stranger on the Road to Emmaus, by John Cross, as our guide. There is no cost for the books, and Pizza Ranch is serving the coffee, so... ya'll come!
If you've already read the book, I'd love to get some feedback from you. Let me know what you think of it---and if you can't make it to Oostburg, maybe we can meet online.

Sunrise Over Gibbsville

There was a fantastic sunrise Sunday morning! I love to paint, and I know how hard it is to paint light convincingly. God just makes it look so easy. When I looked at that magnificent light display, it reminded me again of the Rich Mullins song, "Awesome God". If all He ever did was sunrises, it would be reason enough to stand in awe of Him.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Wisconsin Farm Technology Days Harvest

Those sticks are still walking! The final day of Wisconsin Farm Technology Days was hot and sunny—perfect weather to make hay. And did we ever have the harvest! While the field demonstrations showed how hay is processed, we were seeing lives processed at the Fellowship of Christian Farmers tent. God was bringing in His harvest of souls, old and young, from all walks of life.
Over the 3-day period, 10 storytellers from Living Hope Bible Church and 2 volunteers from other parts of Wisconsin had the privilege of being God’s ambassadors to the Wisconsin farm community and others who came to sample farm life.
What a thrill to tell the greatest news in all the world and to see God take that and change lives. And it was exciting to see new believers going out to re-tell the good news to their friends and family. Some people came back to get replacement sticks because they had told the story and had given theirs away. In all, we gave out about a thousand walking sticks and owner’s manuals...a thousand re-tellings of the “story”. God is still building His church, and it’s fun to be just His hammers and nails as He does it. Thank you, Lord!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Extreme Makeover

We woke up today to damp and fog, but that soon burned off, and the sun shone for the rest of the day at Wisconsin Farm Technology Days. Muddy streets were a challenge at first, but it wasn’t long before they were packed down and people were on the move. We saw God direct a pretty steady stream of visitors to the multi-colored Fellowship of Christian Farmers tent as they came looking for walking sticks. What a privilege and what fun to be able to give, not only a free walking stick, but the news of something really free—salvation in Jesus Christ alone. Heaven reached out and grabbed hearts, and we had the privilege of seeing people walk into the tent as lost sinners and back out as born-again children of God. Wow! God sure is good.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Taking Jesus to the Farm

After months of preparation and prayer, the Gospel Walking Sticks began to walk! Today was day one of the Wisconsin Farm Technology Days near Gibbsville—the day we’ve been waiting for. The tent was in place, chairs were set up, sticks put out. There we were, placed between the grain dryers and the farm equipment, just where God put us, just the kind of place where Jesus would have gone to meet people. He went where the people went, and today we were privileged to go there, too, and to take Him with us.

Volunteers and staff from the Fellowship of Christian Farmers met for prayer and final instructions, and we were ready for whoever the Lord brought our way. Although the morning began a bit slowly as people began to enter Tent City, traffic picked up by about mid-morning, and the chairs began to fill up.
Soon people were asking, “Where are the walking sticks?” Clusters of adults and children of all ages had an opportunity to hear the story of the beads...the story of God’s love for them and His desire for them to know Him. What a powerful message told through five simple colors—easy enough for a child to comprehend. Many people took sticks with them and a number of people chose to trust Christ for the most important transaction of their lives. Jesus went to the cross to pay for our salvation and to make heaven available for those who simply believed in Him. What an unequal trade—our sin for His righteousness!

I Peter 1:18a Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God.”

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Taking Jesus to the Park

As part of the annual Independence Day celebration, the Village of Oostburg and local businesses sponsor a festival of food, games and family-oriented programming at the village park on the 4th of July. For the last four years, Living Hope Bible Church has worked with two other Oostburg churches, the First Reformed Church and the Christian Reformed Church, to provide a family fun tent that day to reach out to local children and their families. We offer free balloons, games, crafts, and face painting as we tell the story of real independence through God’s marvelous free gift of salvation in Jesus Christ. This year, children were able to make beaded Gospel bracelets and patriotic necklaces, and we used the colors and story of the Wordless Book as we painted faces and polished fingernails. As we talked with children and parents, we also gave away free copies of the Bible, coloring books, pencils, “Jesus” videos, and other literature. What a privilege to live in a free country and be free from the bondage of political tyranny...What a greater privilege to trust Christ and to be free from the bondage and curse of sin.
Come with us next week as we "Take Jesus to the Farm". Visit us at Wisconsin Farm Technology Days in Gibbsville, July 11-13, as we work with the Fellowship of Christian Farmers, and ask for your free Gospel Walking Stick.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Learning to Lean

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding” Just a couple of weeks ago, I did an object lesson for the kids at Living Hope to teach them Proverbs 3:5. Trusting...Fully Relying On God...Little green frogs...Leaning on the Lord instead of myself... It’s easy to teach, but hard to learn.

It seems that no sooner than God teaches me some new thing (so that I can teach others, I think), than He expects me to put it into practice in my own life! About ten minutes after I had finished writing out the lesson, I got an email that really rocked me. Discouragement hit like a avalanche. Then depression came as an aftershock, and it was a couple of days before I realized that God had already given me the weapon I needed to overcome it. He had never left me defenseless, even when I felt forsaken.

Trust is a conscious act of the will, a deliberate choice, realizing that my own understanding is flawed and placing myself in the hands of One who has perfect understanding. As I’d told the children, our reliance is not to be in ourselves, in other people, in money, in “stuff”. God wants us to rely fully on Him...and sometimes the only way He can get us to do that is to take away some of the props we are leaning on.

Then He reminded me of that as I was leaving the Walmart parking lot a few days later...and the license plate on the car in front of me said PROV3 6. In the entire state of Wisconsin, there is only one license plate with that verse, and I followed it for miles.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding, In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path.”

Do you really think God doesn’t know what you’re leaning on?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Good Bye Again

In a little more than 24 hours, we will say good bye to our oldest daughter and her family and, unless the Lord intervenes, we will not see them for another four years. By then, our five grandchildren will have lived most of their lives on the other side of the world—Little Hannah will not even know us. Perhaps we will not see any of them this side of Heaven.
I hate good bye’s.
Every separation is a kind of “little death”, and all death is unnatural in God’s view. We were created to live in union with Him and with each other. Harmony and union ruled until sin entered the world, and with it death and separation. Adam and Eve experienced “dis-union” immediately after they disobeyed God. Their relationship with Him was broken and so was their relationship with each other. Ever since they were expelled from the perfection that was Eden, they lived with the imperfection of ruptured relationships and physical separation and death. They lived with death of the spirit, too, because they no longer had unrestricted access to their Creator, and all of their descendants have inherited their curse. Sin is bound into our spiritual genes, and it affects all people of all colors and nationalities.
God hates good byes, too.
He hates them so much that He endured separation from His own Son so that we could be reunited with Him. Jesus left the perfection of Heaven and lived in a human body in a sinful world for 33 years. He lived a perfect life that was not marred by the sin around Him, and He took the curse of sin on Himself when He died on the cross. He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life—no man comes to the Father but by Me.” He said, “I am the door. By me if any man enter in, he shall be saved.”
Only through Jesus Christ can we become what God has intended us to be. By trusting in Him and His saving death and resurrection on our behalf, we will never again be separated from God. There will be no eternal good bye for believers, and God has entrusted His people with the good news that Christ has died to make that relationship available to all people—not just here in America, but to the ends of the earth.
And that is the reason why Gail and John and their children are leaving again.
They are serving God in the Philippines so that people in remote mountain tribes will have the opportunity to come to know the God who made them for His pleasure. When they enter that plane and the doors close, we will say good bye. When tribal people are introduced to the Door of Heaven and come to trust the One who has saved them, it will be worth it.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Cultural Christianity

I saw this quote by J. C. Ryle the other day, and thought it was worth "chewing on" for awhile. Just how much of Christ in my life is enough? It seems that it is easier to fall in love with a church than it is to fall in love with its Head. Read on, and let me know what you think.
“There is a common worldly kind of Christianity in this day, which many have, and think they have enough. This cheap Christianity . . .offends nobody, requires no sacrifice, costs nothing, and is worth nothing!”
--J. C. Ryle

Spotlight on Missions

For over a year, New Tribes missionaries Paul and Susan Boothby have been sending us regular email updates telling us about the work God has been doing among the Gende people of Papua New Guinea.
We have prayed with them through discouragment and setbacks, tribal violence, sickness and the death of a parent. We have also been privileged to rejoice with them as they have recently seen some of these people who had no hope turn to Christ and become new people in Him. What a miracle of God!
In just a few weeks the Boothby's will join us for our Spotlight on Missions--Live Update. If you are in the area and would like to hear what God has done, and is continuing to do in PNG, stop in--We'd love to see you.
Events include:
Saturday, June 10--7:30 a.m. Men's Breakfast with Paul Boothby at Kislewski's--Call 564-4299 to reserve your eggs!
Sunday, June 11--6:30 p.m. "From Darkness Into Light"--Live follow up on the Gende people with Paul & Susan--Come see what is "new" in Papua "New" Guinea. Ice cream social at Living Hope Bible Church will follow. Bring a friend.
Monday, June 12--6:30 p.m. Dessert/Coffee Hour for Ladies Only--Susan Boothby and her daughters will take us into the world of the Gende ladies and also tell us what it is like for a family to be separated when children live at an MK school. Women and girls of the community are invited to join us at Living Hope for our final spotlight on missions.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Wisconsin Farm Technology Days--Here We Come!

God uses people of all ages and abilities in His work. Tonight's work project for Wisconsin Farm Technology Days saw children as young as 4 and 5 years old working alongside their parents and grandparents as we completed another 600 walking sticks. Nearly 1300 gospel walking sticks have been drilled, sanded and tagged with plastic beads representing God's wonderful plan of salvation through Jesus Christ. Just as God offers His salvation as a free gift, the walking sticks will be given--free--to those attending the farm show July 11-13 at Quonset Farms near Gibbsville. Ya'll come and see us there at the Fellowship of Christian Farmers tent. We'd love to explain how you can receive the greatest gift in the world.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Living Hope Family "Assembles"

The ladies enjoy Living Hope's version of the old-fashioned quilting bee....with slivers!

Sunday, May 7, saw the Living Hope family congregating at the Wynveen Farm to begin assembling the walking sticks. There were still sticks to be sanded and more beads to lace, but the time had come to "build" the sticks.

While several of the men continued sanding sticks, others worked the transport route, carrying sanded and unsanded sticks to work stations.

From counting and stringing beads to drilling holes, sanding, assembling the finished walking sticks, this has truly been a project for the whole family.
We have one more work night for Sunday, May 21 scheduled to try to finish up the remaining sticks. If you would like to be involved in this cooperative outreach with the Fellowship of Christian Farmers, or would like more information about the walking stick ministry, you can find it at our church website at http://www.livinghopebiblechurch.org/index.htm

Labor for the Lord

We arranged to have a local sawmill, Ongna Wood Products of rural Sheboygan Falls, cut 1400 walking sticks for us...but there was still plenty of work to be done....
Each stick needed to have a hole drilled 1" down from the top end to accept the beaded lace. Then the tops had to be sanded down to prevent "sliver damage" to the recipients. Young and old both learned how to safely use power tools in the work of the Lord.

From Soup to Sawdust

The ongoing saga of the Gospel Walking Sticks....
Friends from other churches, including Calvary of Sheboygan, joined the Living Hope family on Sunday, March 26, for an old-fashioned soup supper before we again tackled beads and leather.
Again, we were able to complete about 700 beaded laces toward our goal of 1400 completed walking sticks.
God is so good!!

Gospel Walking Sticks

Living Hope Bible Church members and friends will be working in conjunction with the Fellowship of Christian Farmers to share the Good News of Jesus Christ at the 2006 Wisconsin Farm Technology Days event to be held July 11-13 near Gibbsville, WI. They will distribute free walking sticks to event attendees and will present God's plan of salvation with each stick.
On January 29, church members met for a "Famine Feast" of bread and water before they began work on producing the Gospel Walking Sticks. Family members of all ages worked together to string colored beads on leather laces to be assembled later into the finished sticks. Each of the colored beads represent components of the gospel presentation. About 700 laces were completed during that first work session.


Our Mission...
Living Hope Bible Church is an Independent Bible Church. Our goal is to preach the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, both in our local Oostburg, Wisconsin, area and throughout the world. To that end, Living Hope Bible Church offers weekly Sunday worship, Sunday School, mid-week Bible study, fellowship activities, and community outreach. We support missionary outreach through prayer, through financial support, and by sending out missionaries from our own fellowship.
Our Location...
Living Hope Bible Church meets 2 1/2 miles directly north of Oostburg, Wisconsin, at N3595 E County Road A (Former St. George School at 6 Corners, intersection of Hwys V, A, OO and Van Treeck Trail). We are 3 1/2 miles south of Deer Trace Kohler, and about 2 miles west of I-43, just off Hwy V. Living Hope Bible Church is conveniently located for visitors from Kohler Andrae State Park, as well as those from the surrounding communities.
Our Blog...
You can get to know us and see what God is doing through Living Hope Bible Church. It is our hope that you will be challenged and blessed by the fact that God uses insignificant people in out-of-the-way places to accomplish His work. If you'd like more information about us, our church website can be found at http://www.livinghopebiblechurch.org/index.htm