“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” ~ Ephesians 5:15-16
A close, long-time friend of mine who did not marry until the age of forty, once (in a self-admitted bout of couple-envy) declared that Bryan and I came across as Ken and Barbie. When I bristled at this comment, she quickly clarified by saying, “Well, maybe more of a special edition ‘End Times’ Ken and Barbie.” This, I took as a great compliment as I envisioned the sleek packaging with the words, “Bryan and Kerrie: here to remind you not to tarry!” What child wouldn’t want to play with dolls like that? 😊
In all seriousness, one of our major goals as parents has been to instill in our children the fact that this present world is not our true home. Peter reminds us that we are strangers and aliens on this earth, and in Hebrews the author refers to the great people of faith as those who desired a better country, that is, a heavenly one.
Along with this sense of foreignness, the Bible also conveys many reminders of life’s brevity. Psalm 39:4 is just one example: “O Lord, make me know my end, and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!” And to quote a famous bard (who knew his Bible well), “The time of life is short! / To spend that shortness basely were too long.” While Bryan and I try to live intentionally as we keep these two truths in mind, it does not prevent us from appreciating the saints on Earth that currently surround us.
Next month, we will leave behind our amazing church family as we retire from active duty and move to Houghton, NY. Naturally, this leaves us feeling very nostalgic since Peninsula Community Chapel has long ministered to our entire family. Lord willing, as of June 13th, all four of our children will have been baptized here, publicly committing their lives to Christ in front of fellow PCCers. Although no place is perfect, the Christian community in this church has been deep and genuine.
For those of you who may be newer to our church body, I want to encourage you to jump right in from the very start. We have moved enough to know that it can be easy to think that you must take a backseat to members who have been attending for a long time. Not true! So many opportunities to serve are available, and serving is always the best way to connect deeply with others. That, and joining a home group! Your home group will challenge you to grow in your faith, will be your lifeline in times of crisis, and will join with you in celebrations in a way that the larger church cannot.
Before COVID-19 disrupted life as we knew it, one of the things we loved the most at PCC (besides the youth group!) were the CD classes. Bryan and I had the privilege to lead several sessions over the years, but I always enjoyed the parenting classes the most. I doubt there is a message that I want to share with young parents more than this: make the church the center of your family’s life. Obviously, I am not encouraging anyone to make an idol out of the pastors or the building. But I do believe that if you make things like Sunday services, home group, service-projects, youth group, and global ministry trips a priority (instead of putting that time and money towards things of this world), you will not be disappointed. Impress upon the hearts of your children this basic truth from the great man of faith, George Muller, “Money is really worth no more than as it can be used to accomplish the Lord’s work. Life is worth as much as it is spent for the Lord’s service.”
Thanks to each and every person who has loved us even though we were a military family that planned to move away. We will always carry you in our hearts as we continue to seek to live lives worthy of our Savior.
The city of Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is ringed in the north by a stunning chain of mountains called the Virungas. For all of their beauty, these mountains harbor a simmering threat. Nyiragongo, the nearest to Goma, is particularly dangerous. This active volcano has destroyed portions of Goma's environs regularly over the past centuries. Most recently, in 2002, lava flows covered 20% of the city, killing almost 250 people and leaving thousands homeless.
Since that devastation, the city has gone through a phase of enormous rebuilding and growth. In 2002 about 250,000 people lived in Goma. Today, its estimated population is nearly 1.5 million. Better monitoring systems have been implemented around the volcano, which indicate the lava lake in the crater continues to rise. A future eruption is a certainty-- the question is only when. And yet the blossoming community in Goma continues to repair roads, build houses, and found new businesses.
As we establish our life, ministry, and work here, Nyiragongo illustrates the tensions of risk and value that have defined our life in DRC. We want our work to have impact, to change broken systems, to bring new life to our community. But is it worth it to fight for progress in the looming shadow of the literal and metaphorical volcanos of Congo?
This past year has taught most everyone in the world that there are many things we can't control, even with the most risk-averse planning. Here in DRC there are plenty of examples of plans destroyed or waylaid. Our first business-as mission endeavor, Cafe Kivu, saw its coffee production facility destroyed by rebels in 2015. Multiple evacuations from Beni, our first DRC home, kept us away from work at the primary school and university there. Our long-term commitment to that community was cut short by our son Eliot’s medical and educational needs. Corrupt and greedy government officials routinely threaten to put an end to our solar energy project which seeks to provide clean energy to hundreds of citizens who would otherwise have none. These are just a few examples that come to mind.
In the end, what can we really do? Our calling has to be one of a higher order-- a calling from God to offer hope. Hope of a better tomorrow, of meaningful systems change, of a better life for everyone in our community because we are living it together. Hope that means that, even if the things we've built get covered by lava, we'll return to rebuild together.
“All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.” - Acts 4:32-35
Here are some practical ways to love your single friends.
Disclaimer: these are not hard rules, but general guidelines. This article is meant to spark conversation between married and single friends. Use this as a springboard for deeper discussions!
SF = single friend(s)
Don’t assume they aren’t happy because they are single.
Again for emphasis: do not assume that your single friends are not happy because they are single! Many single people are actually really content being single. Of course, single people are human, so they have seasons of loneliness, anxiousness, frustrations and challenges, so be sure to check in on them. But don’t assume they are not enjoying life as a single person!
Display and discuss marriage honestly.
It’s really helpful and encouraging for single people to witness genuine marriage. Invite your SF into the messiness, the struggles, the fun and the joys. Being able to see real marriage, rather than the Disney depiction, allows your SF to see a spousal relationship with a more accurate perspective.
Invite them to things!
Your single friends are people too and want to feel included. Even if there will only be other married couples at this event, your SF will still appreciate you asking them to join. Everyone appreciates being thought of and included.
Don’t set them up. But also set them up.
Some single people really do not want to be set up on dates. Other people would really like to be set up on dates. This is a conversation that you should have with your SF!
Avoid saying phrases like these to your single friends.
Sentences like “When you get married…” and “The right guy/girl is out there…” and “Just be patient and your time will come” are really not helpful or true. When these things are shared, it makes it seem like marriage is the “end” and SF are missing out on a huge piece of life without being married. Which brings us to the next point…
Understand that marriage is not the goal. Communion with the Father is the ultimate goal.
In a culture that is often structured around couples, it can be portrayed that marriage is the standard. Affirm in your SF that they are not second best. Notice in sermons, podcasts and conversations the tendency to emphasize marriage and leave out the unwed or widowed.
Jesus was single his whole life on earth and fully satisfied in God. Whether we push each other towards the Father as spouses or friends, He should be the focus.
For more clarity, talk to your single friends! They have an option on these points and would love to share.
One of my favorite activities is corporate worship through music. I am naturally a “musical” person, and I discovered a love of music through various activities early in my life. Singing, dancing, playing instruments…there’s something about music that speaks to my soul. And it is through music when I most often feel the power of God’s presence.
Personal worship is important but worshipping through music in an assembly of believers is essential. In fact, God commands it! “Be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart” (Ephesians 5:18-19). This command is not reserved only for those who are “musically inclined”, but for every follower of Jesus. Our corporate worship serves to encourage one another and invites the Holy Spirit to live and work among the church body.
I also think corporate worship serves another purpose for believers on earth. It gives us a small glimpse of what heaven will be like. I experienced this two weeks ago when I attended The Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference. I stood in a darkened room with thirty-five hundred other women as the worship team played beautiful melody after melody, and our collective songs of praise rose to the Lord above. Submission, joy, and thanksgiving seemed compulsory. My heart felt too large for my chest and my hands instinctively reached high. The glory of God filled those moments and I thought, “I never want this to end!”
Similarly, a couple of years ago, prior to the COVID pandemic, I attended a Beth Moore live event. This time there were 4,000 women in attendance, and the conference ended on a dramatic and unforgettable note. The worship team led us in the popular chorus, “Holy, Holy, are you Lord God, Almighty! Worthy is the Lamb, Worthy is the Lamb. You are Holy!” (Hopefully, you’re singing along in your head!) And, as we repeated the chorus, the worship team voices dropped out. Then, the instruments faded away, one by one, until all that remained were the voices of the women, all 4,000 of us, singing that refrain in unison. The memory brings tears to my eyes this very moment as I type these words.
It’s the scene I imagine when I read about the choir of heavenly hosts that appeared to the shepherds in Luke 2:13-14: “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” Can you just close your eyes and picture it? All is calm out in the fields on an ordinary night, when suddenly the black sky is ablaze and the heavens roar with angels singing praises to the Lord! It is a breath-taking word picture – one I wish so much I could have experienced first-hand.
But the Lord, in his loving kindness and grace, comes down to meet us in our worship of Him, and we can experience the majesty of the heavenly choir, if on a much smaller scale, through corporate worship experiences like those I’ve described. Worship is our response to a revelation of God’s holiness, and this will lead us into a deeper relationship with Him. Sisters, let us savor each opportunity for gathered worship, until the day when we will join the community of saints in heaven and proclaim endless praise in the presence of our Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus!
Here you can read perspectives on life, ministry and God's Word from a variety of PCC's female leaders.