Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Visit to Rome

Last week, I was a part of the best Vacation Bible School ever. Every two years, we do a big production for our VBS - in 2005 it was Jerusalem Marketplace, in 2007 it was Galilee by the Sea, and this year it was Rome: Paul and the Underground Church. Each of these is a Group kit. I don't know about the rest of their curriculum, but they do VBS well, particularly this Rome one. My only complaint would be their Bible translation, but that's another story.

We had fantastic participation from our church family and good response from the community. In fact, our local weekly newspaper had a front page feature picture of "Paul" and his house-arrest guard "Brutus" (way to go Brian and Dylan - have fun with that at work!).

There was one particular highlight this week. One dramatic sketch (they interrupt the marketplace time with on-theme dramas) took an unexpected turn. The story was that the food booth merchant was offering free samples of "sweet bread." While she wasn't looking, a young woman carrying a baby stole a basket of bread. A soldier - a tough guy we had prowling around all week - caught her and was preparing to take her to prison for a flogging and incarceration.

What was in the script was that the merchant - a Christ-follower - was to hurry back to her stall to get money to give to the mother to pay for the bread, a great illustration of ill-deserving favour, i.e. God's grace to us sinners.

What wasn't in the script was several kids offering their money to the poor criminal. The kids recieved a pouch each day with 3 Roman Denarii. They used this money to do marketplace things - including buying food for their snack. They needed that money. I don't know who made the first move, but lots of kids rushed up with a coin held high to "save" this poor thief.

That was cool. I think the kid - and adults - will remember the big idea of that evening, which was, "God's love saves us."

Anyway, I'm proud of my church for the great job they did in teaching and serving a bunch of kids last week. I think they had fun, too!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Interview @ Challies.com

Tim Challies over at Challies.com sent me some questions regarding our loss of Emily. I've enjoyed Tim's blog for years, it's one of my every day must-reads. I hope if you read the interview, you'll check his blog regularly.

I found these questions tough yet sensitive. I'm really glad I had a couple days to think about them and get Juanita's help. They would have been hard to answer on the spot.

This was a hard exercise. I went back and read my blog posts from last fall. The comments were what really got me. It was such a difficult time, but we so appreciated the encouragement and help from so many people.

This morning I preached on 2 Samuel chapter 12 on repentance and forgiveness. Parts of that were hard, too, but God's Word is such a great anchor.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Church Website

I am very happy to announce that our new website is up and running. We had it professionally done, and we're glad we did. It's still a little rough around the edges, but that is no fault of the developer (we don't have a logo and the copy on some of the pages needs some fine-tuning).

My sermons will be hosted at the new site, so I've added a link to the site on my link box at the top of this page.

Check it out at www.edsonbaptist.com. I'd welcome any feedback on how we might improve things over there (or here, for that matter).

Friday, July 03, 2009

Playground Dedication: Sunnybrae Bible Camp

Our family has been in Edson for almost twelve years and we are thankful to be here. However, we left part of our hearts at Sunnybrae Bible Camp near Salmon Arm, B.C.

To launch the camp year, the Interior Association of churches that supports the camp holds a Sunnybrae Celebration to launch the new season. This year - June 21st - was a special Sunnybrae Celebration for our family, even though we were not able to make it. Juanita's Mom and Dad were able to be there - more on that in a bit.

When Emily was killed, we asked that donations be made to the camp, as it was a very special place for her. She was planning to follow her brother as a counselor in training this summer.

We were amazed at the response of people. More money than we could have imagined came into the camp as people were affected by Emily's death and gave generously. We are very thankful.

Talking to the director, we agreed that the money would well spent building a new playground. Below are some pictures of that new playground - ready for the summer season.

Several years ago, a pastoral family in the area lost their young son. They established a memorial fund. They agreed to put the money from that fund into this playground project as well.

My father-in-law prayed a prayer of dedication for this new playground. He gave me permission to post it here.

We're very thankful for such a godly heritage - a living legacy - for us and our children in our parents.

Heavenly Father,
As we gather together today, we thank you for [the boy] and Emily Stauffer in whose memory this playground has been provided. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for drawing both [boy] and Emily into vibrant faith and love to Yourself. We thank You that because Your Son Jesus covered their sins with His own blood and Your Spirit drew them to faith, we have the assurance that they are with You in glory, rejoicing in Your presence.

We thank you for their parents, for [the boy's family] and Terry & Juanita Stauffer, who raised their children to know You and love You and serve You. We thank you for using [them] and Terry & Juanita to touch lives for You, and we pray that many more will be drawn to faith in Christ through their lives and ministry in coming days.

We thank You for this playground to which so many have contributed in memory of [him] and Emily. We pray that many children will enjoy this playground and be drawn to Christ through this camp. We ask You to bless every contributor for their generosity.

We thank You for Sunnybrae Bible Camp and for Jim and Wendy Neustaeter, our Camp Director. We thank You for the lives which have been touched here at Sunnybrae and ask You to draw many more to Yourself this summer.

And now, Lord, we dedicate this playground to You to be used for Your honour and glory.

In the name of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.