BCC Kids Hit The Road
KAA Bound!

Good Morning Everyone,

What a blessing it was to see parents and their kids all fired up early this morning as they prepared to head to the mountains of Missouri for a week of fun at Kids Across America! About 16 years ago I loaded up a van of 8 boys and went to Kids Across the America for the first time. Over the years we have taken hundreds and hundreds of kids from our neighborhood to Kamp and, for many of our kids, it has been a life-changing experience.

Kamp is more than fun, it is a week full of opportunities for our kids to be surrounded by godly counselors and staff members who desire nothing more than to introduce kids to Jesus. That is the reason why we keep going back year after year.

During the week our kids will stay in cabins with other kids from around the nation. They will have countless opportunities to play basketball, football, soccer, volleyball, swim, learn to ski, fish, rappel, go through the “tree tops” course, and much, much more. They will learn leadership skills that will greatly bless them long after Kamp is over. The kids will learn to study God’s Word and have opportunities to worship the Lord with all of the other kids and adults who will be at Kamp.

This morning I was so blessed to see the group of adults who got on the bus with all of our kids. I want to thank our Pastor, Herman Stevenson, and his wife, our Children’s Minister, Dana Stevenson, for all of the work that they have put into making this trip possible. I also want to thank our Youth Pastor, Bennett Geister, who has done such an incredible job working with all of our kids during the past 6 months or so. Bennett just got back from a week long trip with our High School kids backpacking in the mountains of Colorado and now he’s hitting the road again. Bennett, you are a bona-fide STUD! I also want to thank Heather Meldrum and Kelsey Rogstad, who work year round as teachers at Western Village and as volunteers with the young people at BCC! Ladies, you are something else! Last of all, thanks to all of the folks who have made the trip possible by providing funding, working the registration tables, and loving on our kids throughout the year. You are an amazing group of folks. Please keep our kids in your prayers as head to KAA.

In His Steps,
Mike

En Gedi
1 Samuel 24:1

For years I have studied God?s Word and thought about the places that I?ve read about. Two years ago I had the opportunity to visit many of those places, but there were still some places that were left on my “To Do” list. One of the places that I?ve read about so many times that I felt like I had been there was En Gedi. It is an obscure place I know. Most Christians probably wouldn?t even recognize the name, but for me, it has been a place of great strength and comfort.

When we were planning our trip to Israel during the past year I knew that I had to go there. I wanted to sit where David sat during some of the worst times of his life. I wanted to visit the place where God comforted and strengthened David when he was all alone.

Continue reading “En Gedi
1 Samuel 24:1”

Come and See!

Hi Everyone,
I’m so excited about having the opportunity to share with all of you this coming Sunday. While we were in Israel we had the opportunity to visit En Gedi. Most people aren’t familiar with this place, but it was David’s “sanctuary” when he was going through the most difficult times of his life. I want to take you there in hopes that those of you who are going through the storms of life can find your “stronghold” in the arms of God’s grace and provision.

I also want to share with all of you a video that I have put together of our trip to Israel. I want to give you fair warning: it is going to make you want to go with us next time to go to the Holy Land! Invite your friends and join us this Sunday.

In His Steps,
Mike

Congratulations Dan and Rachel!

Hi Everyone,

There have been many times in my life that I have stopped and thought, “You are one blessed man!” Last night was another of those occasions. The two great prayers that Connie and I have prayed over and over again for our three kids is that they would love the Lord more than anything in all of life and that they would choose a mate that who would share their same commitments in life. What a blessing it is to welcome Rachel, Dan’s new bride, to our family.

We want to thank all of you who took the time out of your busy schedules to make the long drive to Broken Bow, OK. to share in our joy. God has greatly blessed us with your friendship and it was such a joy to be able to share our joy with you last night. I wanted to share a few pictures with all of you.

In His Steps,
Mike

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Life and Death

Hi Everyone,

In Israel there are two main bodies of water. In the north of the country there is the Sea of Galilee and in the south there is the Dead Sea. God has given us one of His most powerful lessons without ever uttering a word…if we will only pay attention to these two bodies of water.

The Sea of Galilee is blessed with the waters that flow from Mount Hermon and the surrounding area. As a result, the Sea of Galilee is full of fish and surrounded by lush vegetation of every kind. All kinds of wildlife come down to the water to quench their thirst.

You have all heard of the Jordan River. Well, up until a few years ago, the Jordan River carried water from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea in the south. Because of the water needs of the nation a dam was built to stop the outflow of the water.

In the south there are wadis, low places between the hills, that carry rainwater into the Dead Sea, but the Dead Sea doesn’t “give” its water to any river or stream. All of the water that flows into the Dead Sea is “held” onto. As a result, the Sea is dead. There is no life that can live in its waters. The salt content is so high that you can’t sail a boat on its waters without the hull being eaten up by the minerals. Our guide told us that you can’t swim very long in the waters of the Dead Sea or it will eat your swimming suit right off of you. I don’t know if he was telling us the truth or not, but none of us tested his theory.

What a great lesson for us is found in these two bodies of water. When God chose Abram, He told him, 2 “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. (Genesis 12:2 NIV) Did you catch that? God was going to bless Abram so that he might be a blessing to others.

In the New Testament, Jesus said, 38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6:38 NIV) Give, give freely, give laviously, and without thought of what you will miss, and God will give to you. When others disappoint you and fail you, give forgiveness with the same measure that you would like for God to forgive you. When others are in need come to their assistance without thinking about the time you will have to give up and then watch how God provides for you when your time of need comes around.

There are great lessons to be learned from God’s creation. We had the opportunity to swim in the waters of both bodies of water. I could stay in the Sea of Galilee all day long. It’s waters are refreshing and relaxing. I stayed in the Dead Sea for about 15 minutes before I had to get out. The waters of the Dead Sea are like the people I know who are selfish and self-serving…they are hard to be around.

The Miracle of Renewal

Hi Everyone,

You cannot imagine the beauty of the Promised Land. I might need to qualify that statement. If you go south of Jerusalem you will run into a harsh desert. It is rocky, barren, and immense. Our guide told us that the whole land use to look like the region south of Jerusalem. The famous writer, Mark Twain, once visited Israel. In his book, Innocents Abroad, written in 1867, he wrote about the region around the Sea of Galilee with these words.

?… A desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds… a silent mournful expanse…. a desolation…. we never saw a human being on the whole route…. hardly a tree or shrub anywhere. Even the olive tree and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil, had almost deserted the country.?

If Mark Twain were to visit Israel today, 140 years later, he would be shocked. The land is blossoming at every turn. The Israelis have planted 300 million trees in the past 60 years. Water is at a premium in Israel because not much rain falls, but the Israelis have developed “drip irrigation” methods of watering their crops and vegetation. The farmers of Israel produce more than 3 million tons of fruit and vegetables each year.
God had told His people long ago not to cut down the trees of the land. Deuteronomy 20:19 says,

19 When you lay siege to a city for a long time, fighting against it to capture it, do not destroy its trees by putting an ax to them, because you can eat their fruit. Do not cut them down. Are the trees of the field people, that you should besiege them? (Deuteronomy 20:19 NIV)

Through years of battles, being invaded by enemy armies, and neglect the “land flowing with milk and honey” was turned into a desert. God reminded His people in Isaiah 35 that it would not always be this way, God would restore what had been destroyed. Isaiah writes,

1The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, 2 it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy. The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon; they will see the glory of the LORD, the splendor of our God. (Isaiah 35:1-2 NIV)

As we traveled throughout the Promised Land we were able to see evidence of God’s faithfulness right before our eyes. The beauty and splendor of the fields, the rich colors of the flowers, and the millions of trees speak to the faithfulness of our God!

In His Steps,
Mike

Are You Thirsty?

Hi Everyone,

I took this picture while I was at Petra. It was hot, sooo hot, and there were camels everywhere giving people rides out of the canyon. I was so thirsty that I bet I drank 5 galloons of water on the trip. I was watching some of our people get on board a camel when one of them pulled a water bottle out and proceeded to try and give one of the camels a drink. She didn’t need to try very hard. The camel snatched the water bottle from her hand and…well, you can see the results. The whole incident reminded me of a story.

I heard a story one time about a young guy who wanted to know Jesus in an intimate way. He had gone to church for years, but never really felt “close” to the Lord. He listened to others talk about the strength they gained from their “walk” with the Lord and he wondered why they seemed to be able to talk about Jesus like He was their best friend instead of a stained-glass saint? The young man heard about an old guy who lived down by the river who was a spiritual giant. Many people around the city had met with the old man and all had come away blown away by his insight from God’s Word. The young man decided that he would go and visit the man.

The young man followed the directions to the man’s house down by the river. When he arrived he saw what looked more like an old shed instead of a house. He knocked on the door and the old man answered. He had long gray hair and a big smile. The young man introduced himself and asked if he could talk to him about Jesus. The man swung his arm wide and said, “Come on in.” They talked for a few minutes and then the young man said, “I want to know Jesus as my best friend, but I don’t know what to do?” The old man smiled and said, “Follow me.”

They walked out the front door of the man’s house and down to the river. The old man walked straight into the river…fully clothed. He turned around and the young man was still on the bank of the river. He said, “Come on in. Come on. Come on.” The young man, hesitatingly stepped into the river and approached the old man. He walked within an arms reach of the old man when the old man said, “Do you really want to know Jesus?” The kid said, “I do.” The old man grabbed him with both hands and plunged his head under water. He held him until the young man began to struggle to come up for air, but he couldn’t. Age is deceiving–the old man was Samson strong. Finally, while the kid was fighting like crazy to come up the old man released him. Gasping for air he yelled, “What are you doing?” The old man said, “You told me you wanted to know Jesus–to really know Jesus.” The kid yelled, gasping for air, “What does that have to do with you nearly drowning me?” The man said, “How bad did you want a breath of air while I was holding you under the water?” The kid said, “More than anything. I thought I was going to drown.” The old man said, “When you want to know Jesus like you wanted that breath of air, only then will you know Jesus as your best friend.” He turned around, walked out of the river, and went home, leaving the kid standing in the river.

How bad do you want to know Jesus? I’m not talking about a Sunday morning kind of faith. I’m talking about really knowing Jesus, walking with Him, consulting Him about everything, crying on His shoulder when life is tough, thanking Him for everything that comes your way. How thirsty are you for that kind of relationship with the Savior?

We’re Back!

Hi Everyone,

It was so good to be back in church with you today. It was an amazing two weeks in Israel, but Dorothy is right, “There is no place like home.”

I had a tough time posting to the webpage the last few days that we were in Israel because they wanted an arm and a leg to buy internet time. I’m just too much of a tightwad I guess. The last few days in Israel were amazing as we visited Jericho, Masada, En Gedi, and our last stop of the trip was into Jordan to see Petra. Two of those places, Jericho and En Gedi, were spots that I didn’t get to visit two years ago when I was in Israel, but they were spots I had a great desire to visit.

Jericho is a Palestinian/Moslem city under the Palestinian Authority. There are no Jews or Christians living in the city and there is a fence surrounding the city with Israeli police guarding it. Jericho is located in the West Bank. I had a great desire to teach Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan there because of the current situation going on with the Israelis and Palestinians. There are deep feelings between those two groups, but no worse than the feelings that were present in Jesus’ day between the Samaritans and the Jews.

In Luke 10, an “expert in the Law” tried to trap Jesus by asking Him, “Who is my neighbor?” The Jewish teacher knew who his neighbor was from Leviticus 19, but he didn’t want to “love his neighbor as he loved himself.” When he asked Jesus the question, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus told him a story about a man who was beaten, robbed, and left for dead on the road to Jericho. Two men, a priest and a Levite came by the man, but they passed him by. Then another man passed by on the road and saw the man who had been beaten and left for dead. This man was a Samaritan, a hated Samaritan. He stopped, bandaged up his wounds, and put him on his own donkey before he took him to an inn and paid for him to be cared for. Jesus asked, “Who was the neighbor?” The man said, “The one who showed mercy.” He couldn’t even say “Samaritan.”

It was a blessing for me to teach the parable and to address some of the problems that people have with other people. I told those present that some black folks are taught not to trust white folks, white folks are taught not to trust black folks, and the list goes on. The divisions that we face in our own society are not just racial, they are economic, educational, political, and religious as well. We convince ourselves that others are not “worthy” or our time. We convince ourselves that others are out of the reach of the gracious grasp of our King. We build fences like the one around Jericho to keep people at arms distance from us, but Jesus came to tear down walls and fences.

As we were leaving Jericho that day one of the young men with me said, “I don’t know about all of the politics of this place.” I said, “Jesus’ story isn’t about politics, it is about people.” We need to let the politicians deal with the politics so that we can focus our energy on loving people–all people.

In His Steps,
Mike