Me with my lovely wife, Kathy:

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Home-going of Kay Marsceau, my Mother-in-Law:

"Well Done, Good And Faithful Servant."

I am confident that Kathleen (Kay) Marsceau heard those words from her Master this afternoon.
We had been expecting her death at any time, for some time now. I am glad to report that time is one of the earthly things that is now irrelevant to her glorious state.
I look forward to joining a line of snot-nosed kids--many like me grown old--who will look into her face and thank her for using the
Wordless Book, for teaching the songs, telling the stories, letting us get a present from the Birthday Box, and, more than anything else, loving us to Jesus. Forty-seven years ago she was instrumental in leading me to put my faith in Jesus Christ.

I figure that when folk get to heaven, like all of their other infirmities their wrong way of seeing things instantly fall away. We were made to fellowship with our creator. This sin-cursed state in which we live is the unnatural realm. Heaven's air is the atmosphere we were meant to breath. Still from my perspective here below it seems that there will be some things my Mother-in-Law will have to get used to. Streets of gold and the other luxuries that surround the throne of God will be odd to a lady who was so thrifty she could have taught classes on the subject to the Scots. She always struggled, wondering what she had really done for Jesus. I can imagine that she will be neighbors with the widow who gave her two mites--marvelous examples of those who give all for the Lord. Her accepting the truth that her life was profound value is a truth that I'm glad she now knows.

She joins her husband, Rev. Eugene Marsceau, with whom she served in small church pastorates for decades. She will be reunited with her son, Gene', who died when he was just stepping into manhood. Her dad, who died leaving a wife and three daughters to live through the depression and the war, will embrace her, knowing the path on which he set his family was the narrow way that led to glory. Her mom, who raised those three girls and then joined one of them in missionary service will be there. Her Old-maid Aunts whom she loved as a daughter will greet her. And there will be HIM. "Enter into the joy of thy Lord."

Kathy was on her way to Charlotte to help her sister, who has been mom's primary caregiver these past months, when she received word of her mom's death. While we were ready for her to leave her emaciated body, she will be missed.

In keeping with the way my Mother-in-Law lived, and her wishes, the services celebrating her life, and home-going will be simple.
I do not have the details yet, but I know that her body will transported to Michigan where there will be a graveside service for the family and a public memorial service.

I will post this note on my blog. As further information is available I will post that there as well.
At this point we will appreciate your prayers.

Monday, May 25, 2009

A Victory--Personal and for the Church:

Those of you who were present at Covington Bible Church yesterday morning know that yesterday was an outstanding day for Kathy and me.
I don't want to mess this blog up with a lot of blood and gore, so I'll simply say that our older son, Chad has been through a lot in the years since he left home. Kathy and I have always been confident that in the core of his being there was an attachment to God. Sometimes it appeared that Chad was running from that. On occasions it was clear that it was God's hand that kept him from going over the edge--various edges, actually. We can look back and see a trail of God's grace.
Yesterday, Chad was the guest speaker at Covington Bible Church. He told how he asked the question--first in fist-clenched anger, and then with submission, "God, I'm a good guy. What do you want from me?" Chad paralleled his experience with that of Asaph in Pslam 73.
Obviously, I am a biased observer, but my sentiments were echoed by a number of people who were there. It was a powerful message.
Bearing visible witness to God's work in my son's life, were his four children, not only present with him yesterday, but living with him full-time. His wife of less than a year, Tanisha, is another clear indicator of God's goodness. Tanisha is a Godly young woman, who not only loves Chad, but loves and "mothers" Christopher, Carrington, Madeline, and Kendal. Her coming into Chad's life, and Chad reopening the door for God to assume the place in his life that He deserves were processes that happened simultaneously. They are clearly inter-related. Again I am reminded of God's goodness.
Seeing our son at this point in his walk with God, enjoying time with his remarkably normal (from a Biblical standard) family was certainly great for Kathy and me.

I want to turn a corner here, though, because not only is Chad Kathy's and my son. He is a child of the church--the Covington Bible Church in particular. Not only did CBC provide him with a foundation that became that core that stayed with him through the dark years, but over the years numerous members of our church family have prayed for and encouraged Chad and his kids, and more recently Tanisha.

Thank You!

Many of our church family were kind enough to say things yesterday that helped us to maximize this "God showed up here" moment in our lives. I want to return the favor.
To those of you who:
  • Prayed
  • Encouraged Chad with emails, cards, phone calls, and letters.
  • Went out of your way to visit him, or open your home and schedule to him when he visited Covington.
  • Became aunts, uncles, and grandparents to his kids.
  • Challenged Chad to come back to the roots that in his heart he knew were true.
  • Encouraged his steps back toward the light.
  • Put your arms around Kathy and me in the really dark times.

This was your time as well. Rejoice!

At Chad and Tanisha's wedding I was reminded of Pastor Bill Hybel's words, "The Church is this world's last best hope." At the reception I was able to Thank Pastor Kirk. He walked to Hell and back with my son, and had the singed hair to prove it. He was there on that day as the representative of of the Body of Christ to affirm two people doing what was right, and to challenge them to keep on. My brother-in-law, another pastor, who had, over the years reached out not only to Chad, but to his kids, and not only as an uncle, but as a pastor who saw the opportunity to shine the light in a dark and needy place, also took part in the ceremony. He emphasized the importance of family. Church and family always go together. Then there was the impressive display of unity by a number of the CBC family who drove 600 miles to attend Tanisha and Chad's wedding.

There are those who question the need for the church or a church. In this day of cable-TV and Internet, why should a group of people get together on a regular basis and worship, banding together to serve?
I hold up my son Chad up as exhibit one. Chad has interfaced with social-workers, lawyers, courts, employers, physicians, and schools. These institutions were helpful. There were individuals in these realms who went out of their way at critical times to help my son and his kids--and to offer help to others who still need it--but in the final analysis it was the church that made the difference.

In the right sense of the word I was very proud of my son, yesterday.
I was also proud of the church--my church.

Know that your labor is not in vain.

(PS: We haven't started posting messages online yet--If someone in our assembly wants to take the project on I'll be glad to talk with them--but we can send you a DVD of yesterday's message. Just write and let us know you want one.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I recently returned from a trip to visit some missionaries and works in which the Covington Bible Church is involved.

I was privileged to visit with Fred and Cindy Stromberg and their lovely kids. Cindy's time is pretty well occupied taking care of Isaiah and Anna.
Fred is seeking to establish churches in the small communities that surround Neuva Ocatapeque in Honduras.

These good looking kids are students at one of the schools where Fred is currently holding character classes. Fred's plan is to use these classes and other points of contact to gain a foothold in these communities.

This week, a family from our church is going down to help Fred and Cindy work on their house.

From Honduras I went to Ecuador, where Doug and Dorcas Williams work. It was a strange experience, because while I was up in the mountains of Norhtern Ecuador at Rio Verde worshipping with the Williams partners and the some of the Awa Believers, Doug was in Covington preaching at CBC.

It was great to hear Milton (pronounced "meal-tone" more or less) Milton was teaching the children's lesson, but was clearly challenging the adults as well concerning the story about Lazarus, the rich-man, and eternal destiny.

Doug is translating the Old-Testament into Awapit. He, Dorcas, Becky and Sarah will return to Ecuador this summer.

Actually, the official reason that I had for taking this trip was to be one of the speakers at the Bible/Pastors' Conference held at the Liebenzell Ecuador headquarters. The Eglesia Puente de Amor (Bridge of Love Church) in Ibarra, Ecuador, shares facilities with this LME. Bill Shuit, the Global Outreach Director for LMUSA, and George Hege, former GM Dir. and former Ecuadorian missionary were the other guest speakers. Edgar Luz, the field the director from LM Germany, did a great job organizing the conference, speaking at each morning's opening session, and translating for we gringos.

It was great to relate, with these fellow-shepherds from another part of the world, from the word of God, and about issues that are common no matter what language the sheep speak.

Below you can see me with the guys from Word of Life Ecuador, who had an offical presence there at the conference. My arm is around Carlos, a young man with an amazing voice. Pastor Wilman paid me a great compliment. He had heard me speak ten years or so ago, and came back to hear me again. Through the language barrier, he and I shared some concerns with one another.

Some of the pastors at the conference are very solid in their doctrinal stance. Others could use some help in that regard. I thank God that we were able to encourage them in that regard

While Liebenzell is a relatively small, little-known mission, at least in the US. We are doing a significant work in Ecuador.

I thank the Lord for being involved

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Witness in a Needy Place:

Most days I read, or scan, Chuck Colson's Breakpoint commentary.
Today's was about the late Jack Kemp. I confess I mostly thought of Kemp when I was slaving over my income tax forms. His proposals for simplifying the tax system always look especially good on April 14 or 15.

I knew he was a conservative who shared many values with Bible-believing Christians like me, but until I read Colson's commentary I was not aware that Kemp was a believer.

Here is part of what Colson had to say about this his friend:

The pastor, Rob Norris of Fourth Presbyterian Church, [Kemp's pastor] gave the main message, from Job 14:14: “Can a dead man live?”It was one of the clearest expositions of Scripture I’ve ever heard, powerfully presenting the Gospel—and all this being listened to by most of the power establishment of the city of Washington. Some of the commentators afterward said that there had never been such an overtly Christian memorial service in the National Cathedral.

Colson goes on to add: "Jack Kemp’s life was his witness. God used the death of one of the great public servants of our age for perhaps the most powerful witness I have seen in Washington."

I was struck by Colson's unequivocal praise of his friend's testimony, Pastor Norris's willingness to take an opportunity to present the Good-news that many preachers pass up, and by the apparent lack of such witness implied by the commentators' comments about the overtly Christian nature of the service.

  • All of us who know the Lord need to live our lives as witnesses for Christ.
  • Those of us who are privileged to stand and speak for the Lord ought to make the most of every opportunity.
  • And we need to pray for the spiritual condition of our nation.

I welcome your thoughts.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Playing it safe:

I would encourage my younger readers--as in teens and young, single adults to read the May 5 post on Dr. Al Mohler's blog.

I have some identification with the movement described in this article. Some young folk are not only refraining from having sex until marriage--may their tribe increase--but are saving their first kiss for their wedding day. Before you snicker and quit reading, let me briefly share my experience.

Kathy and I kissed before our wedding day, but I determined, and I'm glad I did, that I ought to kiss her until I was sure that I loved her, and she me. And, yes, thanks to some god teaching, I did have a pretty good idea what that four-letter word meant.

I would encourage you younger folk to consider this idea:

God gave us the marvelous capaxity to express love in a physical way--all the way from holding hands to sexual-intercourse. We should only use this wonderful ability to express love that is there, not merely to bring about an enjoyable physical reaction.

I may say more on this in a day or two. In the mean time I welcome your comment.

Since I'm talking about young adults, let me tell you some encouraging things I'm seeing related to the younger set.

I'm in Ecuador right now, at a pastor's conference. There is a young man, Carlos, from Word of Life Ecuador who has one of the most beautiful voices I have heard in a long time. He says he would like to do a CD. If I hear that he has, I'll let you know.
There is a group of young people here from Germany, an impact team from Liebenzell Mission in Germany. The sweet way they are doing even mundane tasks is very encouraging.
Actually, the churches represented here are quite young. Several have only been in existence for less than 10 years, and the congregations of these churches are made up of a larger proportion of young adults than I'm used to seeing here in the US. Again it is encouraging.