Posts Tagged ‘missions’

What an amazing day this was!

Learning To Fly

Welcome to our life party ūüôā

Thank you to everyone who came out and celebrated with us ‚Äď make sure to watch the videos, who knows.. you may see yourself

To others who want the full experience, hopefully this will help you get a feel for what our celebration was all about. I want to encourage you to watch every video in the order they are posted‚Ķ they build on each other to show our life and our journey through the great, through the trails‚Ķ Thank you for taking the time to share in our day even from your personal computer ‚̧

Those who don’t have the time to walk through this day with us, you can just view the pictures as you scroll down.

Life Party Getting Ready Set up, worship practice and getting ready for The Life Party to begin

Everyone Watching The Amazed Video (which is below) ‚Äď Sam and I‚Ķ

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Lion's Den

 As for every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king consulted them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and conjurers who were in all his realm. And Daniel continued until the first year of Cyrus the king.  Daniel 1:20-21

Daniel is one of the most amazing characters in the Bible for a number of reasons. ¬†Our canon of Scripture places Daniel among the prophets but the Jewish Scriptures do not. ¬†The Jewish Canon¬†places it¬†in a group called The Writings. ¬†While one cannot deny Daniel’s prophetic gift, he did not hold the office of prophet. ¬†Certainly God calls on him¬†repeatedly to speak ¬†to the various leaders of Babylon, but that leads us to another unique thing about Daniel. ¬†Other than the fact that Daniel was a Jew and was taken at a young age from his home in Judah the contents do not speak of or to the Jews.

So what do we know about this enigmatic figure and author of one of the 39 books of our old testament (one of the 24 in the Jewish Canon)? Daniel lived in the sixth century BC. ¬†His family was either of the royal family or the nobility. ¬†Pretty much everything that we know directly of Daniel comes from the book bearing his name. ¬†The authorship of the book is much debated but I do not doubt that Daniel wrote it¬†near the end of his life, probably after he had retired from public service. ¬†I find most other textual criticism to be contrived either for academic reasons (you have to write your dissertation on something) or with the express need to explain away the miraculous. ¬†He grew up during hard times in Judah. ¬†His dedication to God from the very beginning would indicate to me that his parents were godly people living in ungodly times. ¬†They are not mentioned here or elsewhere in Scripture. ¬†If they did survive the siege and capture of Jerusalem Daniel was taken from them at around the age of 13. ¬†This was the typical age at which the Babylonians of this era began training for public servants. ¬†We are able to historically place the siege and capture of Jerusalem right around the year 605 BC. ¬†This enables us to date many aspects of Daniel’s life, particularly when his service to Babylon began and ended. ¬†This is what caught my attention and brought me to look a little deeper at the life of this man of God, this man of ¬†hupomone (perseverance). ¬†Daniel as we said was not a prophet, he was not a priest nor a missionary. ¬†He was a public administrator and in many ways a politician by trade. ¬†Daniel served God in the Babylonian courts and government until the year or year after Cyrus captured Babylon seizing control of that empire. ¬†That event is historically established as occurring in 540 BC. ¬†So Daniel served God in his capacity as an administrator for several versions of the Neo-Babylonian Empire from 605 BC until 540 BC, or including training around 65 years! ¬†That is some serious Hupomone! ¬†Throughout that time he maintained his dedication to and love for God, even facing death! ¬†He probably spent the last few years of his life (from 540,41 to 543,44) penning the book under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit which would become of part of the canon of Scripture we hold as the Word of God today! ¬†He was very much an Old Testament Missionary, called to a pagan people to speak the heart of God. ¬†Consider his words to Nebuchadnezzar: ‘Therefore, O king, may my advice be pleasing to you: break away now from your sins by doing righteousness and from your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor, in case there may be a prolonging of your prosperity.’ ¬†Daniel 4:27 It seems that most often studies of Daniel focus in on either the eschatological aspects of his prophecies or just a few specific events within the book. ¬†The next few weeks will be dedicated to looking at Daniel and the Long Haul.

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This is our first Newsletter since the closing of The Lewis House.  Below is a link to the PDF version with live links for donations and contacts.





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Change is a part of the Christian walk.  Some change is sudden and some change comes slowly.  Last Friday our whole world changed but our hearts did not.  As The Lewis House website is no more I wanted to post this here.  The Lewis House is gone, a sudden death, and our lives have been turned upside down since this was recorded but our heart of ministry continues unchanged, building the Kingdom of God one relationship at a time…



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“Son of man, with one blow¬†I am about to take away from you the delight of your eyes.¬†Yet do not lament or weep or shed any tears.

Ezekiel 24:16

(I do want to start this with a disclaimer: While I do believe that God has called us to walk this difficult road for His purposes and have already seen incredible fruit from our experiences both within us and around us, I have no reason to believe that Allana is going to be taken from us any time soon.)

Serving God can at times be overwhelming. ¬†We are not told a lot about Ezekiel’s wife, just that she was “the delight” of his eyes. ¬†Ezekiel loved her. ¬†She was perhaps, next to God, the most important thing in Ezekiel’s life. ¬†I have heard it taught that Ezekiel somehow sinned in his desire for his wife, that he had placed her above his devotion to God. ¬†This is simply not in the text and perhaps arises from the desire to believe that God is here to serve us instead of the other way around. ¬†We serve a God who loves us immensely. ¬†We also serve a God who commands ultimate obedience, honor and trust. ¬†The circumstances surrounding this loss are not known to us. ¬†It can be supposed that Ezekiel’s wife succumbed to a fatal illness, a much more common occurrence in the those days than living a long and healthy life. ¬†I can easily imagine Ezekiel crying out to God in prayer over her having been there many times for Allana. ¬†I cannot but believe that Ezekiel’s wife was a godly woman, the respected and honored wife of a priest. ¬†Why O lord does she have to go through this? ¬†And the answer comes,” “For my purposes”

Paul understood service to God when he wrote to the Philippians,¬†“For to you¬†it has been¬†granted¬†for¬†Christ’s¬†sake, not¬†only¬†to believe¬†in Him, but¬†also¬†to¬†suffer¬†for His¬†sake, ” (Philippians 1:29)¬†¬†Carizomai¬†does not mean imposed upon or required. ¬†It carries the sense of a pleasant task, a favor, something given benevolently. ¬†As His servants, suffering for His name and for His purposes is part of the gift, but in the same book we find that this gift is paired with something else. ¬†“¬†Rejoice in the¬†Lord¬†always¬†;¬†again¬†I will¬†say,¬†rejoice¬†! ¬†Let your¬†gentle¬†spirit be known¬†to¬†all¬†men. The¬†Lord¬†is¬†near. ¬†Be¬†anxious¬†for¬†nothing, but in everything¬†by¬†prayer¬†and¬†supplication¬†with¬†thanksgiving¬†let your¬†requests be¬†made¬†known¬†to¬†God.7¬†And¬†the¬†peace¬†of¬†God, which¬†surpasses¬†all¬†comprehension, will ¬†guard¬†your¬†hearts¬†and your¬†minds¬†in¬†Christ¬†Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7) ¬†This does not mean that everything is going to go the way that we desire it to, it means that through the storm we will be able to say, “It is well with my soul”.

God called Ezekiel to more than just losing the love of his life. ¬†He is called to contravene the social norms of the day and to not enter into what was the common practice of very public and very loud mourning. ¬†God calls him to “groan silently”. ¬†Paul says, “Let your gentle spirit be known to all men.” ¬†We are called to a holy standard not only in the gift of suffering for His name, but in the Holy Spirit empowered ability to break the customs of this world in our reaction to that suffering and show the very nature of God in our actions. ¬†When we do that the world takes notice! ¬† “and in the¬†evening¬†my¬†wife¬†died. And in the¬†morning¬†I¬†did¬†as I was¬†commanded.¬†The¬†people¬†said¬†to me, “Will you not¬†tell¬†us¬†what these¬†things¬†that you are¬†doing¬†mean for us?” (Ezekiel 24:18-19) ¬†It is in the very city of Philippi that we get the story of the Philippian Jailer. ¬†After being beaten and praising God through a night of imprisonment Paul and Silas are able to lead their captive audience, the jailer, and his whole family to Jesus. ¬†“Sirs, What must I do to be saved” (Acts 16:30)

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I just went back and read my Christmas Eve post on Nisa.  This is a quote from that post:

We have a mighty heavenly Father who cares for us in ways that I cannot begin to fathom.  He loves us in a way that is so far beyond my understanding that I only touch the edges of what AGAPE really means!

Several weeks ago while in prayer God gave me the name Nisa Faith.  Indeed she is a miracle of faith, not the simple faith of a single prayer or even the cry for healing but the faith of a 9 year journey.  She represents to us the faith of Abraham as he led his entire family to Canaan.  She represents the faith of Joseph as he waited in slavery, in prison for God to act.  She is even now, yet in the womb that miracle, an incredible act of God.

I did not know how real it was going to have to become in just a few short day. ¬†I did not know that the flu symptoms that my beautiful wife was having were not the flu at all. ¬†10 days later Allana was in the hospital in a battle for her life with a deadly disease known by its acronym ALL chromosome positive; Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Philadelphia Chromosome positive. ¬† Allana’s CaringBridge site follows the details of our experience. ¬†Throughout this time we have had ups and downs. ¬†I have faced the prospect of losing her and I have faced the deep pain of watching her suffer in ways that I could not even have imagined. ¬†Yet the statement that I made 8 days after Nisa’s birth remains the truest thing in my life:

We have a mighty heavenly Father who cares for us in ways that  I cannot begin to fathom.  He loves us in a way that is so far beyond my understanding that I only touch the edges of what AGAPE really means!

I truly believe that it is this core belief that has opened up our lives for the miraculous interventions that have followed us throughout this experience. It is when we tie our relationship with God to our circumstances that trouble occurs.  If we accept that when bad things happen God somehow has diminished his love for us then our spiritual life will be a roller coaster of highs and lows, undermining our ability to grow spiritually.  The core statement then becomes:

We have a mighty heavenly Father who cares for us when life is good.  He loves us when I understand and can grasp the good things that he gives us.

I have recently been reading Ezekiel.  My heart broke for him as I read the simple verse in the middle of chapter 24. 

¬†“Son of man, with one blow¬†I am about to take away from you the delight of your eyes.¬†Yet do not lament or weep or shed any tears.”

It is with that statement that God informs Ezekiel that his wife is going to die.  We are not given any of the back story or the circumstances, just that as a part of his office as prophet of God, as a part of his calling to serve the almighty, as a part of her calling to serve Him, his beloved wife was going to die.  Two things we need to understand here.

1. ¬†Ezekiel was not told by God to just ignore the death of his wife and not to mourn for her. ¬†The culture of the day and even through to today in many cultures in the region, called for very loud and public mourning. ¬†We know that in Jesus day wealthy families would hire professional mourners to make the process as loud and public as possible. ¬†It was this public and plastic mourning that God called Ezekiel to ignore. ¬†“17¬†Groan quietly;¬†do not mourn for the dead. Keep your turban¬†fastened and your sandals¬†on your feet; do not cover the lower part of your face¬†or eat the customary food [of mourners].” ¬†¬†This was extraordinary behavior for a recognized public figure. ¬†God calls us as His elect to extraordinary behavior but he does not expect us to be wooden soldiers. ¬†This mourning would be between God and Ezekiel. ¬†And while the text does not explicitly say so, I believe that the phrase,¬†The Word of the Lord came to me…¬†is an indication of the miraculous intervention of the Holy Spirit. ¬†Dabar is the Hebrew equivalent of Logos. ¬†I am not going to jump into a word or phrase study here but I want to make the point that God did not leave Ezekiel hanging. ¬†Ezekiel did not have the benefit of the indwelling Holy Spirit that we as New Testament believers enjoyed (He does note that the Holy Spirit entered him at one point and helped him to stand (Ezekiel 2:2). ¬†Still “The Word of the Lord”¬†was with him. ¬†Ezekiel’s continued obedience and interactions with God’s people are a testament to his continued faith in God’s love for him.

2. ¬†Ezekiel’s experience was not in vain. ¬†When the Spirit of God moves things happen! ¬†We may not understand or see the full scope of what God is doing but he calls His people to extraordinary behavior in extraordinary circumstances for His glory and to extend the purposes of His love for all mankind.

19¬†The¬†people¬†said¬†to me, “Will you not¬†tell¬†us¬†what these¬†things¬†that you are¬†doing¬†mean for us?”¬†

When God’s people do the extraordinary within the context of the extraordinary people notice. ¬†And honestly what we do within the context of the ordinary often appears extraordinary to those who do not have a relationship with God. ¬†We are not often told the impact of the words spoken by the Old Testament prophets. ¬†I have to believe that while the national fate was sealed by the word of God individuals were impacted by the message and turned their faith to Him even as everything around them fell apart.

3. ¬†It is in our relationship with God that the extraordinary occurs not out of ourselves. ¬†It was the Holy Spirit through Ezekiel who defied the cultural norms to bring God’s message to the people of Israel. ” …for¬†no¬†prophecy¬†was¬†ever¬†made¬†by an act of¬†human¬†will, but¬†men¬†moved¬†by the¬†Holy¬†Spirit¬†spoke¬†from¬†God.” 2 Peter 1:21 ¬†Ezekiel’s response to this catastrophic even in his life is a direct response to the Holy Spirit. ¬†I can assure you that his heart was breaking even as he rejoiced at the work of God being done in and through his life. ¬†Some day I believe we will be able to talk to the individuals impacted by the ministry of Ezekiel even as the nation fell apart and ¬†fell into exile.

Whatever circumstances one faces the opportunity for the extraordinary exists for all of the followers of Jesus who have the Holy Spirit as an integral part of their lives.  It is interesting that the less that we attempt to be extraordinary and only seek to be obedient, the more extraordinary things God accomplishes through us.

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Wow I have not been here in too long.  As you can imagine other things have been keeping me busy.  This will be redundant for many of you but I wanted to add this wonderful Guestbook post from our CaringBridge site.  It is a great reminder that we have a Living God who walks on water in the worst of storms!  Our Spirits rejoice even as our flesh weeps.  God is moving and we are excited to see the results when the storm is stilled.

A big thank you to Karen for allowing me to share this in a more public way.


June 27, 2013 6:50pm

Hi Sam and Allana,

I am so sorry, my last entry got deleted except for the first line. ¬†You don’t know me but I went to Israel on a Missions trip with your sister Beth in 1983. ¬†I have had no contact with her since then until she befriended me on facebook yesterday. I went to her wall and saw your caringbridge link there, and while working all night, read the entire thing. ¬†I have no words except to tell you how much my flesh aches for you and all you are going through, and yet my spirit rejoices at how God is moving in you and through you to reach others in so many ways. ¬†I have been faltering in my faith over these past few years and just really struggling…trying to “figure out” who God really is and what Christianity is all about. ¬†As I read the words in your entries, God took ahold of my heart in a way that I haven’t experienced for a long time. ¬†I wish I had a better way to express it to you….but adequate words escape me. ¬†Thank you for your faith, your love for Him, your humaness, and your willingness to share this hard, hard journey He has you on. ¬†I will be praying continually….May you continue to feel His presence and peace during this difficult time.

Karen Bobalik

Here is the link to our CaringBridge site for any who may not have it.


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