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God’s 4 Gifts to us Part 2

 
God’s Four Gifts to Us, Part Two
As we saw in part one, Psalm 50:23 starts with “He who offers the sacrifice of thanksgiving honors me”–meaning that if we give thanks when we don’t feel like it, we fulfill the purpose of our lives, giving honor to God before the unseen hosts as well as the people around us.
The verse then continues with “…and prepares the way that I may show him the salvation of the Lord.” Here we see the second gift God has for us: the privilege of partnering with Him in bringing about solutions, of joining Him in a way that His power can work in us and in our situation for good.
Paul echoes this principle in 2 Cor. 12:10 “…I will boast all the more gladly in my weakness SO THAT the power of Christ may rest in me.”
As we give thanks in and for difficulties, we open the way (maybe, get out of the way is more accurate!) for Him to bring the resolution and results He’s planned and prepared. These may come right away, or they may not be visible until years later, as with Joseph in Egypt. Whether seen or unseen, God moves as we give thanks in faith for what is painful for us.
This means that the opposite may also be true: when we complain we block the way for God’s work in our situation. For instance, in experiencing a painful relationship, when we complain things get worse; when we offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving, we are helped with not saying hurtful things and help move things in a good direction.
As 1 Peter 1:5 says, believers,”THROUGH FAITH are shielded by God’s power….” As we trust, operating out of faith, we are protected; as we complain, we expose ourselves to attacks by the enemy.
May be an image of flower and nature

God’s Four Gifts to Us, Part One

What a kindness you have bestowed on us, Lord God, in calling us to give thanks in and for all things. You have a plan, you know what is best, no matter how it may look to us—like a leafless tree in winter–but full of possibilities. You work powerfully and patiently to bring goodness out of it at the right time.
Giving thanks in all is a privilege. It is God inviting us into a partnership with Him where He has at least four rich gifts awaiting us.
Psalm 50:23 shows us two of those gifts. “He who offers the sacrifice of thanksgiving honors me…” This sacrifice speaks of denying self, giving thanks when it is not natural, when it costs us. Note that this is not being thankful, which is an emotion, but giving thanks, which is an act of the will, often against what we feel.
This obedience of faith is a great means of glorifying God. When we give thanks in the midst of hurt, disappointment, suffering or loss, trusting that God has a plan and has allowed this for a good we cannot yet see, the angels stand in awe, the demons cringe in defeat, Adam’s descendants are amazed and God’s name is lifted on high.
Giving God such glory is the purpose for which we were created. So every time we find ourselves in situations where there is no solution, no discernible good, no visible positive point (as with the zoning board’s negative decision for me this week), we can choose to believe that God is good, at work and trustable–and we can demonstrate this trust by giving thanks in and for all things.
In doing so we are fulfilling the purpose for our existence (worshiping God) and doing something that will last for eternity. This privilege of giving thanks by faith is the first gift He has for us.
You, Lord, are the God who is more than we can imagine, more than what we could hope for, better than our dreams, beyond the understanding of our limited perspective. You are Great and Powerful, Glorious and Perfect, Gracious and Pure.
You are the fulfillment of the longing of our hearts and far more. Glory and honor belong to you alone! And we praise you for the privilege of giving you honor throughout each day by offering the sacrifice of thanksgiving. May we be consistent in doing that today.]
May be an image of nature, sky, tree, twilight and lake
 

More from my Autobio

Chapter 33 Forward Together
As Barbara began coming with me to the Saturday night youth group meetings, she proved to be effective with the girls, being both a good listener and a good teacher. She had deep insights and gave me good advice, too. I was struck by how much more effective I was working with her than working alone.
 
One evening she came over to go to a concert Dad was playing in, so I went along. We had a great time talking about our lives.
She told me about her summer short-term work with Operation Mobilization in France. I told her about how the Lord had cornered me in Alaska and brought me across the line into His Kingdom. I don’t think we heard a note the band played.
 
After the concert, in looking for Dad, I said to her, “You wait here.” When I came back to her I said, “It’s nice to have someone wait for me!”
 
And she replied, “It’s nice to have someone to wait for!” Hardly noticing, we were moving forward in our relationship.
The next morning Dad was tinkering on his motor-cross racing bike while I was working on entering new tires on the inventory cards.
 
“Say,” he said, “that Barbara is a nice girl.”
“Yes, she is.” I replied.
“When are you going to marry her?” he asked.
“Uh, umm, ah, I hadn’t thought of it!” I stammered.
 
Dad stood up and pointed his finger at me, “Don’t miss this one; you’ll never find another girl that meets your standards!” Then he bent down and continued working on his bike.
 
My mind was whirling. I sure did find her attractive–in fact the most attractive thing about her was her deep love for Christ, her desire to follow Him wholeheartedly. I had not met any other girl whose desire for Him and whose spiritual maturity was similar to mine.
 
“But,” I thought, “She’s five years older than I am. That’s a barrier. And she’s so good-looking, she’d never consider marrying someone like me!”
 
However, I knew that one way God directed us was through our parents, so I took Dad’s comments seriously. I began to pray intensely about this relationship and its possibilities, but got no clarification from God.
 
Barbara and I kept up our work with the youth group, praying together each morning, sharing what we were doing in our quiet times. I decided to spend more specific time with her to get to know her better.
 
For our first solo outing I took her to McDonald’s and bought us each a milk shake. As we sat in her little beige Volkswagon, sipping through our straws, I said, “Thick, huh?” She agreed, but maybe she was also thinking about how thick I was concerning our relationship!
 
She would come to the farm in the evenings in her little VW, and we would go for walks out in the big fields under the full August moon; I enjoyed watching the moonlight reflected in her almond shaped eyes and on her beautiful white teeth when she smiled, which was often.
 
We were always accompanied by my big dog, Isaak. He did not really like this intruder in his relationship with me, so when we sat on a big rock in the field to talk and pray, he would push his way between us and sit there like our chaperon.
 
We didn’t mind, as our relationship was of spirit and mind at this point. I had told Barbara, “nothing physical, no hand-holding.” She accepted that. I wanted this to be a pure relationship built on a spiritual foundation, with sharing of the spirit and soul as the beginning. And Barbara had a lot to share with her European background and wide range of reading. We had long discussions about many things.
 
Mom was very happy with our friendship. At this stage in my life I was a very serious person, fasting regularly, disciplined in my responsibilities, not given to any frivolity. Mom was very aware and pleased that Barbara brought some lightness into my life.
 
One day Barbara and I were talking and laughing together at Mom’s house. When Barbara went into the kitchen, Mom hugged her warmly, communicating her joy for the happiness Barbara had brought to me–and to Mom as well.
 
In August we celebrated Mom and Dad’s 30th wedding anniversary with a banquet in a nearby hotel. All the relatives came, along with my siblings except for Les who was away on a trip.
 
I brought Barbara with me to the banquet. She wore an elegant full-length dress with a pattern of big flowers in colors that matched her complexion perfectly. With her tan she was stunning.
 
My relatives were all goggle-eyed at this exotic, beautiful alien with her charming German accent. My uncles on both sides of the family were especially taken. This was also the first chance for my older sister, Andrea to meet her. All highly approved.
 
Picture: our faithful chaperone, Isaac
May be an image of dog and outdoors

More on the Gospel for Believers

What a wonder it is to know that you, Lord Jesus, chose us before the foundation of the world, that you wanted us as your children, bought us, sought us, adopted us and transformed us. It is so encouraging to know that you love us and cherish us (Eph. 1:2-8). What marvelous, unbelievable truths! They are far more than we could ever have hoped for!
Truly, you are the God who is beyond our dreams, beyond our hopes, beyond our understanding. You are Great and Powerful, Glorious and Perfect, Gracious and Pure. You are the fulfillment of the longings of our hearts, giving us, along with yourself, what we all desire: belonging, worth and competence (Eph. 1:18-19)–and far more. Glory and honor definitely belong to you alone!
May my wonder at you increase every day, O Triune God, may my amazement at being redeemed and loved by you deepen each morning, and may praise, thanksgiving and worship pour out of my soul to you throughout the day as you lead me to walk in the light of your powerful and preserving Presence.]
May be an image of flower and nature

Awe Sum

 
The gospel is not just for unbelievers to hear, it is a body of truth we should be repeating to ourselves daily. We should consistently be in awe at the wonder of God’s outrageous, illogical love for us, His qualifying us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the Kingdom of Light (Col. 1:12).
This morning I read in Titus 3 which has a beautiful description of the gospel:
“At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures…But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.
“He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs, having the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:3-7).
What grace! What goodness! What undeserved reconciliation! What peace and love! Lord, to belong to you, to be your possession, to be your treasured child, to know you as Father, God, King and Shepherd, is beyond wonderful. Blessed is way too mild a word!
And our wonder increases when we think of what we actually deserved–punishment, rejection, suffering, despair, darkness, hopelessness, death and eternal separation from you, being sealed off from all that is good.
The gospel is not just for unbelievers to hear, it is a body of truth we should be repeating to ourselves daily. We should consistently be in awe at the wonder of God’s outrageous, illogical love for us, His qualifying us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the Kingdom of Light (Col. 1:12).
This morning I read in Titus 3 which has a beautiful description of the gospel:
“At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures…But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.
“He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs, having the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:3-7).
What grace! What goodness! What undeserved reconciliation! What peace and love! Lord, to belong to you, to be your possession, to be your treasured child, to know you as Father, God, King and Shepherd, is beyond wonderful. Blessed is way too mild a word!
 
May we stand in awe every day, transfixed and transformed by God’s grace.
May be an image of snow, lake, sky, nature and tree

Freedom

 
[Written in 2014] Today’s reading in the book EDIFIED! [below] is very relevant to us as my little wife continues to live under a weight of multiple negative symptoms without any clear diagnosis or relief in sight. Is this simple depression, or chronic Lyme’s Disease, or something else? No one knows and thus far nothing we’ve tried has helped.
In the midst of this we must keep our eyes on Jesus, for He is the one who does know and will both give grace to pass through it and, at the right time, bring relief. Here is the perspective we must have: “Let those who fear the LORD say: ‘His love endures forever.’” Psalm 118:4
Praise you, Lord Jesus, that you are my Shepherd, that we can know that whatever comes, you have led us into it, as you led your disciples into the storm on the lake, into the opposition of the crowd, into the pain of your death. You have the larger picture, so we can trust and follow you as you walk with us into the future.
Psalm 118:5-9 says, “In my anguish I cried to the LORD….” This is the proper response to any situation, going right to you, O God, fleeing from self-pity, worry, fretting and anger to embrace your goodness, wisdom and love.
You will respond to our prayer: “In the day of my trouble I will call on you, for you will answer me” (Ps. 86:7). And your answer begins inside: “I sought the Lord and he heard me and delivered me from all my fears” (Ps. 34:4). “In my anguish I cried out to the Lord and he answered by setting me free” (Ps. 118:5).
You, Lord God, are the Freedom-giver—freedom from eternal death, from punishment, from condemnation, from selfishness and Satan, as well as from fretting and fear, problems and difficulties. You are always at work to set us free on a deeper level, in a higher way from things that bind us.
“The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid” (Ps.118:6). As we look away to you, fear is defeated, fretting is routed, worry is wiped out, unbelief is banished. They cannot stand in the light of your mighty, majestic, magnificent power, of your gracious, great and good heart, of your perfect, powerful, positive character, of your deep, dynamic, everlasting Love.
To trust in you is always wise, to take refuge in you is always good, to rest in you is always right. Praise be to you, Lord Jesus: Creator and King, Lord and Savior, Judge and Victor.
Prayer: “To you be glory in my life today and forever more. Help me to flee to you with each challenge, problem and difficulty, so the answer can come from you and bring you glory. Help me today to distrust myself and to trust in you instead. Amen.”
[Epilogue: Praise God that in the ensuing years my wife was diagnosed with chronic Lymes Disease, treated and cured; and with depression for which He provided help and gradual improvement. He is faithful!]
May be an image of 1 person, tree and outdoors

More From The Add-on Eskimo

More From The Add-on Eskimo
 
When the monumental task of harvesting the whale was done, Okfagit, as was customary, gave a feast for all the boat crews and the leaders of the village. The shaman also was invited. After they had eaten and were served tea, Okfagit spoke.
 
“You may have noticed that I did not perform the required ceremonies of a boat captain to call the whales to us, to pray to Apa, to offer sacrifices. The reason I did not do these traditional practices is the prophesy we all know about, has come true!
 
“You all remember that many seasons ago a powerful shaman predicted that an outsider would come to Sivukuk and bring good news. That has happened!”
 
The crowd was amazed and began to talk to one another.
“So, Okfagit, what is this good news?” the shaman asked.
 
“The news is that Apa, whom we knew to be far away from us, sent his son into the world to live as a man. Not only that, but Apa’s son, called Jesus, was sacrificed to pay the penalty of our sin. In his death he removed our shame and our weakness. And then Jesus rose from the dead!” The crowd gasped.
 
“Oh, no, that’s impossible!” exclaimed the shaman. “That has never happened in the history of the world!”
 
“That’s right,” Okfagit answered. “But it did happen once! Jesus came and lived as a man, but he was also Apa’s son, which makes him God.
 
“He has immense power. He created all that we see around us, the mountains and clouds, the sea and land, the elk and fox, the walrus and whale.
 
“Because of his great creative power, death could not conquer him. He defeated death and rose again. And, in rising from the dead, he bought eternal life for all who follow him!”
 
Again, there was stunned silence. After a pause Okfagit went on, “Our traditions did not promise us eternal life. After death, we were told, our spirits would roam the earth looking for peace, never finding it. But Jesus promises us eternal life with peace never ending.
 
“And not only that, but he takes those who follow him into his family, into his work, into his boat where he provides, protects and cares for us.”
 
The shaman spoke, “What does this have to do with your abandoning the ways of our people? Why didn’t you do the whaling ceremonies? You angered the spirits! You may bring disaster down on us!”
 
“Ah, that is part of the good news,” said Okfagit. “Jesus, the good creator God, is very powerful. He can free us from the fear of the spirits because they are afraid of him. And he, the Creator of whales, can help us when we hunt.”
 
Okfagit paused, ready to give his proof of Jesus’ love for them all. “Instead of the ceremonies, instead of sacrificing to the spirits, our ancestors, even to Apa, I prayed to Apa through Jesus, asking him to help me in my hunting, to bring the whales to me.
 
“He heard me and brought this great whale right to us, and then he had the whale swim to the village, not away from it. That has never happened before! Jesus can help us in our hunting, trapping and work. We can trust him; he is always with us; always at work with and for us.”
 
“What happens if the spirits attack us, attack our children?” asked one of the other boat captains.
 
“Let me tell you about Kalowi who lives in Sivukuk. His child was sick. He tried all that he knew, giving the child a different name, offering sacrifices and calling the shaman who consulted his spirits and did his ceremonies, but the child only got worse. Then the messenger from outside, the teacher, came and prayed to Jesus for the child, and it got well!”
 
“This means that Jesus is stronger than the spirits,” said one man.
 
“But,” said one of the elders, “That may be true if you follow the way of Jesus. What about those who don’t, who follow the traditional way?”
 
“There would be no change for them. In the old way we are attacked by the spirits, they bring sickness, famine and hardship. We are already enslaved to them, so if we go on in the old way we will be without hope, without salvation. And without the possibility of eternal life.”
 
Everyone was quiet for a while. This whole new perspective was too much to comprehend. Then the shaman spoke up, “I think this New Way is wrong. We have always lived in our traditional way. We must pray to and sacrifice to the spirits, to our dead ancestors. I say that if we leave this way for Jesus, disaster will come upon us. Okfagit is leading you astray!”
 
Okfagit stood. “I stand firm with Jesus. He helped Kalowi, he answered my prayers for a whale, he is changing my life, making me more generous. I do not want to stay in the old way of fear, hopelessness and then death. Jesus gives me peace, hope and eternal life. I choose Him.”
 
The shaman shook his head. “You will be sorry,” he said with a sinister look in his eyes, his face twisted with anger. He stood and strode out of the circle, leaving them all silent.
 
In the end Okfagit spoke again, “I challenge you to watch my life and see who is greater, the spirits or Jesus, the shaman or the good Creator God.”
 
Later that evening, Okfagit spoke with Ayit. “You remember the words from the Bible which Kalowi taught us, that we should add to our faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control and then to self-control endurance?”
 
“Yes, I remember,” replied Ayit.
 
“Well, we have learned about Jesus, we have seen him answer our prayers, giving us the whale and we have obeyed him in telling others. Now there will be difficulty, and we must add endurance to continue to follow Jesus.”
 
“You are right, father. I constantly remember what we have learned, that Jesus is our boat captain, that he will protect us, that he will provide for us. He will save us from our enemies, the spirits, and lead us in the right paths.”
Picture: Akfagit, willing to stand alone for Jesus
May be an image of 1 person

Psalm 62:6-8

 
Psalm 62:6 “[The Lord] alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.”
[This is an exact copy of verse 2, a repetition of the truth of where real security is found, indicating its importance. As I face each new day, If I seek refuge in the Lord, I will not be shaken, no matter how traumatic the events that come to me may be.]
Psalm 62:7 “My salvation and my honor depend on God;”
[We so naturally seek our salvation in the everyday events in our own efforts, and seek our honor from the opinions of others. However, both our salvation and our honor actually depend fully on God, not on us or others.
He has provided salvation both for eternity and for every day; we know where we are going, and we know He is with us in the nitty-gritty events of life, protecting, guiding and providing.
He is the One who has already given us great honor—choosing us before the foundation of the world, adopting us into His family, making us children of the Creator of the Universe, granting us membership in the Kingdom of light, giving us each a special part in His plan. What else could we desire? Yet we stubbornly tend to seek our salvation and honor elsewhere. Forgive us, Lord, help us to seek salvation and honor only from you.]
“he is my mighty rock, my refuge.”
[The unshakable, unassailable, unconquerable God is the One we can trust in, rest in. When all else seems to fall apart, He is there, steady and stable, reliable and good, wise and sure.]
Psalm 62:8 “Trust in him at all times, O people;”
[There is that command again: “Trust!” When we trust, we can rest. And this is possible all the time because God is always there in His goodness and grace. You, Lord, are sufficient, you are faithful, you are absolutely trustable.]
“pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.”
[Lord, it is right, good and necessary to lay out before you all our fears, desires, feelings and thoughts. With our heart thus emptied of these, with the Spirit’s help we can fill it with Truth and Trust.
 
Then we are safe in your refuge. You will never reject us for being honest with you–you already know all about us–and you are delighted when we are open, transparent and truthful with you. You desire to be our refuge, you call us to yourself, and in you we are safe.]
Help us, Lord God, to trust in you more and more, to find our rest, our refuge, our salvation, our honor, our safety and our joy in you. You are worthy of trust, you are worthy of praise, you are worthy of worship.
 
May my life give you honor and glory today as I trust in you alone, demonstrated by offering the sacrifice of thanksgiving in all.
May be an image of sky, tree, twilight and nature

Psalm 62:5

I praise you for your wonderful Word, Lord, and the powerful way you use it in our lives. During a very trying time in my life, I wrote the following.
 
Psalm 62:5, “Find rest, O my soul, in God alone;”
[This is a command, not a suggestion. In 62:1 the same truth is given as a statement “My soul finds rest in God alone,” telling us where rest is possible. Then here we are called upon to make a choice to find our rest in You, Lord.
 
We need to turn away from what we naturally pursue for rest–getting what we want, resolution of situations and tensions, positive reactions of people, or removal of conflict.
 
The fact is that each of these solutions is fleeting and superficial, so quickly replaced by other stresses. But finding our rest in you, Lord God, is the true solution, one that is deep, powerful and eternal. Help us to willfully find our rest in you alone.]
 
Psalm 62: 5 goes on to say, “my hope comes from him.”
 
[Again, this statement is a bit different from verse one (“my salvation comes from him”). Here is the hope, the certainty of receiving what we desire: rest. But we need to go beyond this, to turn from our desire for rest to desiring the One who can grant it.
 
As it says in Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself also in the Lord and He will give you the desire of your heart.” You, Lord, are to be the focus of our affections; then you can safely give us good things, knowing that they will not become idols.
 
And as we trust, the power of the Spirit comes into our situation; as we intentionally find our rest in you, Lord; then you pour out all kinds of goodness in our lives.]
 
We can trust you because you are Elohim, the incredibly powerful and persistently faithful One. You show your power in creation–you are the star Breather, the galaxy Former, the planet Hanger, the earth Spinner, the dawn Bringer. You are great beyond comprehension.
 
And you are the fully faithful One–you promise and it happens; you plan and it comes to pass, you speak and it comes to be. At the right time you came to be our Savior for eternity; and at the right moment you also save us in our daily lives.
 
Therefore, in the midst of present uncertainty and disappointments, I choose now to embrace your character as Elohim–the powerful and faithful One–for you know what you are doing as you shape, guide, change and transform my life. I gladly join you today by wholeheartedly trusting you with total praise.
Picture from internet
 
No photo description available.

Nrw Relationship

Chapter 32 Answers to Prayer
 
As a result of the coffee house outreach, we began to have extra meetings with the youth group, and many attended. I shared the principles I’d learned in Bill Gotthard’s seminars and had internalized through meditation on Scripture and personal application. The kids listened with rapt attention and absorbed it.
 
In that group were several who have become leaders in our church. Forty years later one of the girls from that group wrote to me, “Thank you for the years you spoke biblical truth into our young lives, giving us our foundation of faith and our relationship with Christ. Those pearls of wisdom have been the strong base that has kept me on the right path.”
 
It was the Lord who did this, not me. I was simply the tool in His hand. After He brought new freedom and a deeper surrender, His grace could flow more powerfully through me to others. This was a foretaste of the ongoing upward journey He would take me on, and the next step was not long in coming.
 
On the day after Thanksgiving of 1972, I stopped by His Mansion and stayed for dinner. Joe had some guests, two girls from New Jersey. After we finished eating, Joe read a passage from Philippians, and then asked if anyone wanted to comment on it. There was a short silence, then one of the girls stood up and gave a sermon!
 
“Wow! What a pushy woman!” I thought, “That’s a good one to stay a long way away from.” Dad’s warnings about the dangers of strong women were firmly entrenched in my mind and heart.
 
At Christmas my youngest brother, Sam, came home from college. He was interested in working at His Mansion, so we went over together for a visit. Those two girls were there again and I overheard a chat the shorter girl had with one of the residents.
 
She turned out to be a native German with a very pleasant accent, and was also very nice looking. She was the one who had delivered the after-dinner sermon. The fellow asked her how old she was. When she said she was thirty-one, he was amazed. So was I–she looked ten years younger.
 
“Hmm,” I thought, “five years older than I am. Along with being so pushy, that certainly eliminates her as a possibility for a wife. Besides, someone that good looking would never be interested in me!”
 
I some how had the idea that God would give me a fat, ugly wife in order to make me grow spiritually. That showed how much more I had to learn about the goodness of the character of God and the sinfulness of my own ascetic nature.
At Easter, the kids from His Mansion came to my church for the sunrise service and breakfast. As I was looking over the crowd trying to find my friend Joe, the German girl came up and said hello.
 
“Hi,” I replied, “Do you know where Joe is?”
She told me later that she was so happy to see a familiar face and then disappointed that I was unwilling to talk. Well, I had other things to do and wanted to keep my distance.
 
In June when I stopped by His Mansion on a Friday afternoon, the German girl came down the stairs. She had on a colorful European apron and a broom and dustpan in her hands. She looked great.
 
“Oh, you’re here!” I said in surprise. We had a little chat and I learned that her name was Barbara. I told her that my brother, Sam, was coming to work there in July.
 
After he began working at His Mansion, Sam often brought Barbara to the farm so she could get a break from her 24 hour a day responsibilities as women’s counselor, cook and cleaning woman. She and my mother became good friends.
 
That summer we planned another two-week coffee house outreach with the His Mansion in the same two towns as before. During the first week we had some intense interaction with interested teens.
 
One evening I was sitting in a booth, talking with two fellows and Barbara came and sat down with us. I was vaguely aware that she was there, but was fully focused on the conversation and did not acknowledge her presence.
 
The next week we moved the coffee house to the other town. On Thursday night I worked until 9 pm in the tire shop, so didn’t get to the coffee house until about 9:45. Barbara was sitting outside on the front step talking to one of the students from His Mansion. Just as I arrived the fellow got up and went inside. I greeted her and she said, “I’d like to talk to you.”
 
To my surprise, I said, “I’d like to talk to you, too!” I sat down and she asked me about my time in L’Abri. She listened intently as I told her all that God had accomplished during my time there.
Then I talked about my work with the youth group and the problem I was having.
 
As a twenty-seven year old single male, I sensed that the girls in the group were following my teaching because they liked me, not because they were following Jesus.
 
I wanted them to be following Christ, so I had been praying for a woman to work with me, to lead the girls. “Would you be willing to work with me in the youth group?” I asked.
 
“I would certainly be willing to consider it.” She said. “but I have to talk with Stan and Joe first to see if it’s ok.”
 
I then suggested that we take a walk, so we went up the street, talking about our backgrounds and gifting.
“I’m tender,” I said.
“I’m firm,” said Barbara.
 
I told her that the Lord had told me that I would be married when I was twenty-eight.
“Do you know the girl?” she asked.
“No, I don’t.” I replied.
 
She told me later that God spoke to her at that moment and said, “This is the man I have for you.” Her inner response was, “Oh no!” She had just broken off a five-year engagement—the fellow couldn’t make up his mind to take the plunge—and she was not interested in starting another relationship. Plus, she did not like my last name. “Such a strange one,” she thought. But she was also willing to follow God’s leading if this was it.
 
I suggested we pray together, so we sat on the low stonewall in front of a church. That is when Barbara made her almost fatal mistake. As I began to pray, she moved closer, “So I can hear better,” she said, but I wasn’t so sure.
 
I knew women were dangerous, especially pushy ones, and this move almost sent me off to the hills. But, being of the generous sort, I decided to give her another chance. Besides, her obvious love for Jesus was very attractive to me.
 
Two weeks later Barbara came to my mother’s baptism at the pond on our farm. Afterwards I offered to take her home on my motorcycle. She borrowed some blue jeans from my sister, Marcia, and off we went.
 
This was an important ride, for I was giving her “the motorcycle test.” As we went through the curves of the road, leaning first to the right and then to the left, I was waiting to see if she would try to steer me with her hands on my waist. That would mean she was definitely too pushy for me. But she leaned nicely into the curves with me, following along perfectly, passing the test with flying colors.
 
When we came to the stop sign just before His Mansion, I turned and said to her, “We’re just going to be friends.” This was something I said to all the girls I met. It put a safe boundary on relationships, keeping both parties from going off on fanciful dreams.
 
Barbara said, “That’s fine with me.” In fact, after her painful engagement, she was very happy to have this clear boundary set in our relationship.
 
I suggested to Barbara that we pray together each day for the youth group and she agreed. So each morning at 8 I would call her from the tire shop and we would pray for the kids.
Picture: Fall of 1973
May be a black-and-white image of 1 person