Feelings of Blah…

I don’t know about you, but this week has been a fight for joy. No, there’s not anything majorly bad going on in my life, but I feel just kind of blah…foggy…like I’m stuck in a funk of sorts, and I can’t figure out why. Maybe it’s the horrible weather that we’ve been having here in southeast Iowa or the incessant drumbeat of bad news online, but I’m just feeling kinda down. Ever been there? Do you know what I’m talking about?

I think it might have something to do with just the daily rhythms of life. We get stuck in stable rhythms that feel like ruts. And ruts are frustrating. Ruts are boring.

Yeah, that might be the issue right there. We just feel bored. We have plenty of things to do, but we’re just bored with it all. We crave something new…something exciting…something to make us feel alive again.

Perhaps our schedules have gotten cluttered with activities and responsibilities, and we just desire a hard reset…a do-over…a clean slate. We’ve said “yes” to so many good things that we’ve inadvertently said “no” to the best things.

I feel like I’m rambling, probably am, but that’s just kind of sorta where I am at the moment…I feel foggy, stuck in a rut, and I’m a little bored despite having a cramped schedule filled with things to do. I know that I can’t be alone in such feelings. You either have had such feelings in the past, are feeling them now, or (mark my words) you’ll feel them at some given point in the future…That’s just life on this side of Glory.

So, how do I counsel myself out of such mundane, blah feelings…Well, I do the following…Maybe you’ll find my approach helpful for yourself…

  1. I Preach To Myself – That’s right. I take the Word of God and read words like this from Psalm 42:5, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation, and my God.” Feelings come and go. Indeed, feelings are funny, fickle, fleeting things, don’t trust them! Trust in God. Hope in Him.
  2. I Pray With Honesty – The Apostle Paul encourages us in Philippians 4:6, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Certainly, I could stew in my feelings of ick OR I could talk to God about how I feel. When I pray, I certainly ask him to take away the negative feelings, but, more than that, I thank Him for the opportunity to practice humility before Him despite how I feel. Listen, we all want to feel good, but sometimes God uses the nasty feelings of life to draw us into a newer and better relationship with Him. Remember Job in the Old Testament?
  3. I Post Things Online – Ha! Maybe not the best thing to do, but here I am honestly and transparently saying, “I feel kinda down today.” And you know what, that’s all right. The super critics out there will roll their eyes at this blog post. “Suck it up!”, they’ll say. “Count your blessings!”, they’ll shout. “And yes, I agree. I’m not going through anything severe or heartbreaking, and I have much to be thankful for. But writing for me is therapeutic. It gives me a good outlet to air out some thoughts…

So, there we have it. Do I feel better after all of that? Kind of. But I’m not looking for a quick fix to my feelings. God is good, loving, and wise despite my feelings of blah. So, I’ll choose to rest in Him.

Bible Project Video: Water of Life…

“In the beginning of the Bible, God transforms a desolate wilderness into a garden through a stream that waters the ground and brings life wherever it goes. This image gets developed throughout the biblical story as wells, cisterns, rain, and rivers all become images of God’s creative power. In this video, we’ll explore the ‘water of life’ theme through the biblical story and see how it leads to Jesus, who presents himself as the one bringing living water to a world that is desperately thirsty.”

Waiting On The Lord…

Waiting is hard. We want answers and results right away. Indeed, our culture of instant gratification is completely intolerant of long wait times. Whether we are waiting for a package to arrive or for some procedure to be done, we want it done, and done now. Waiting, for many of us, isn’t simply hard, it’s intolerable. We are anti-waiting.

Children are such excellent and dramatic illustrations of our anti-waiting natures. Ever witness a toddler throw a full-blown temper tantrum because they are told to wait on something that is literally coming their way in like five minutes? We smile and snicker at such things, but aren’t we the same way? Children (and all of us) don’t like to wait. I mean, let’s be honest, we hate to wait. And why do we loath waiting so much? Because we honestly believe that if a certain desire has hit us, it must be met with immediate satisfaction, or we won’t ever be truly happy, at peace, or free.

Then, like a flashing red light along our Christian pathway, we have these verses that pop up…

  • Psalm 27:14 – “Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!”
  • Psalm 37:7-9 – “Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! Refrain from anger and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the LORD shall inherit the land.”
  • Psalm 130:5 – “I wait for the LORD, my souls waits, and in his word I hope.”

Over and over again, the Psalmist David reminds us to “wait for the LORD.” And let me tell you, David was extremely familiar with the waiting game. Remember how long it took him to be installed as King of Israel after he was anointed King of Israel? 15 years! Yes, it took God 15 years to finally and fully install David as King after God had already chosen and anointed him to be King. David had to wait on the Lord during this time period, a time period that involved him running for his life as King Saul tried to kill him over and over again, and he had to wait on God many times thereafter. With impeccable credibility, David tells you and me to “wait for the LORD.”

Friend, let me encourage you, whether you are waiting for an answer to prayer or waiting for God to give you clear direction concerning that big decision in front of you, wait on the Lord. Wait on God’s timing. Wait on God’s provision. Wait on God’s instructions. Rest assured, in the waiting, God is working. Yes, even if you can’t see it or feel it, God is working in your waiting. As you wait on the Lord, trust Him. As you wait on the Lord, worship Him. As you wait on the Lord, serve Him. He’ll come through, because His timing isn’t just better than yours, it’s perfect – completely and totally perfect.

Membership Sunday: The Vogels!

This Sunday, March 13, we will bring into membership Greg & Marsha Vogel! The Vogels have been attending our church for several years and are now making the plunge into full-blown church membership. We’re so excited to have Greg & Marsha as an official part of our church family! Below are their testimonies of salvation and baptism…

Greg Vogel’s Testimony of Salvation & Baptism…

Don’t always like to tell my testimony as it involves a girl, but not the girl I married…Not supposed to talk about other women you know…

I was not raised in a Christian/church going family. Not bad people, just had our own ways.

I never even went to a church until I was 19. The young lady I was seeing at that time was a believer. Probably the first Christian I had any real dealings with. After a few months of going to church with her and talking with people there, I was sitting in my room at home reading the Bible (and other papers about Jesus) and I decided that this was right. I prayed right there, just God and me, agreeing that His way was the right way, that I was a sinner, and I asked for His forgiveness and to show me the way to live.

For various reasons, I stopped dating that young lady but got in with some other believing friends at another church and was baptized there about 18 months later.

This life since has not always been what one would call an easy or straight path, have had my adventures, but through everything God is still God and Jesus is still risen from the grave. And that is reason enough to follow Him.

Marsha Vogel’s Testimony of Salvation & Baptism…

Growing up in a Christian home, we were at church any time the doors were open, and they were open a lot. We also did devotions every evening and/or morning. If Billy Graham was on TV, we were watching. It was after watching one of these crusades on TV, that I snuck out of bed and went out to my Mom and said I wanted to ask Jesus into my heart. She made sure I understood what I was doing and helped me pray. Shortly after that I went through a membership class and was baptized, along with my older sister.

As we grew, we didn’t get to do many extra-curricular activities at school, but my dad made sure we were able to attend all the church activities, including summer camp and retreats. As we got older, we had to help earn these events, teaching us a good work ethic. As we didn’t move and attended the same church for 25 years, I was very comfortable and participated in most of the events/activities in the church.

We are on our 10th move since I married Greg. I love the fact that I have seen a lot of the country and met so many people. It has made it a bit harder to start to feel at home in a church though. We have tried to contribute of our time and talents wherever we are. We love the friendliness of Prairie Flower Baptist Church and their strong desire to spread the Gospel and preach the Bible. I look forward to growing and serving with you.

“They Found Hope”: An Article From Baptist Mid-Missions on John & Bev Leonard

More disabled people live in São Paulo than in any other city of Brazil. The reason is not surprising. This megacity of 22 million offers Brazil’s best healthcare, accessibility, and transportation—essential services for people managing conditions like paralysis, blindness, deafness, or mental disabilities. Families of disabled people move to São Paulo from all parts of Brazil for these burden-lifting services.

For the same reasons, missionaries John and Beverly Leonard uprooted themselves from northeast Brazil to São Paulo State in 2007. Two years earlier, on July 3, 2005, everything in their lives changed. John had finished preaching the evening service at the mission church he and Bev planted in Coqueiro Seco. In this drug-scarred community on Brazil’s coast, the Lord gave the Leonards marked success in leading addicts to salvation and to Christ-transformed lives. This didn’t escape the local drug lord’s attention. Threatened at his loss of territory, he sent assailants who waited outside the church. Their intention was murder, but instead their gunshot left John a quadriplegic.

Through tears, John and Bev knew that God makes no mistakes and that the only way to overcome evil is with good (Romans 12:21). From his hospital bed in Des Moines, Iowa, where he was flown, John sent a statement to the local newspaper in Brazil, declaring forgiveness for his attackers and concern for their souls. He also prayed each day that God would give him grace to not ask…


Spr22 TFH Bev Food Distribution

Instead, the question John and Bev focused on was “How?”

Deep down, they knew God had not released them from His call to Brazil, a call tracing back to John’s childhood as the son of Brazil missionaries Jerry and Frances Leonard. But how could they serve with this unexpected derailment of what they previously could do as missionaries?

After extensive physical therapy, the Leonards returned to Brazil in 2007, trusting God to show them what missions would now look like. They moved to São Paulo State, close to good medical care. Each day, Bev cared for John’s needs and loaded him into their adapted van. Although their work was now harder, they let God use them to help start four churches and to conduct ministry among Brazil’s Guarani Indians.

In 2020, with John facing increased health challenges, the Leonards moved from the outlying areas of São Paulo State into the city of São Paulo itself. In the late 1980s, BMM missionaries Marv and Diane Fray were the lead church-planting missionaries for Igreja Batista Esperança (Hope Baptist Church), located in the heart of São Paulo. This urban church seating 1,000 people has missions outreach in its DNA. The Frays’ burden was to reach ALL the lost souls of São Paulo, including those with special needs. A ministry to the disabled was initiated. This work has been organized and is currently under the direction of a Brazilian missionary, Lidia Costa. The Leonards had previously participated in the ministry from time to time. In 2020, John and Bev were invited to lead the ministry’s evangelism/outreach branch.

Esperança’s ministry to disabled people functions similarly to any other, with special get-togethers and outings to build relationships. The group has its own Sunday School, and those able to do so are invited to attend church services or join the church’s other Sunday School classes. Disabled believers go through discipleship classes to be baptized, and several made their public profession in last August’s baptismal service.

One of the group’s evangelistic outreaches is camp. In October 2021, 100 disabled people and their caregivers boarded São Paulo’s handicapped-accessible vans for a weekend retreat. Before the final message, the crowd chatted among themselves until John wheeled up to the front. The room became dead silent, and all eyes fixed on John. Here was someone just like them, and they hung on every word. Among the people making decisions afterward was a blind woman named Cintia, who received the Savior. Other group leaders were shocked. Formerly, she was antagonistic toward the gospel, but hearing it from someone who understood physical loss gave her hope that Jesus cared about her and that He could give her new life.

Spr22 TFH Cintia

The ministry had made initial contact with Cintia through food distributions during COVID-19 lockdowns. It was a particularly difficult time for disabled people, when São Paulo temporarily halted its accessible van transportation. During that year, Esperança’s ministry regularly distributed food to 250+ disabled people and their caregivers. During each package distribution, they prayed with the recipients and counseled them. Many new families began coming to evangelistic meetings held specifically for them. Several people received the Lord and are being discipled.

Bev has been surprised at the number of opportunities to pray with and counsel caregivers, some of whom have accepted Christ. One of these is Nena. She and her husband took in their niece, Nicole, after her mother (high on drugs) slammed her into the wall repeatedly and left her brain damaged and quadriplegic. After delivering food and medications to them last July, John and Bev shared the gospel, and Nena found eternal hope in Christ.

John lives with daily pain due to his neurological damage, but he made the decision long ago to forego pain meds. In the early days of his recovery, doctors prescribed narcotics that left him with a mind too foggy to think and, even worse, a difficult addiction to overcome. He often thinks about the addicts he worked with in Coqueiro Seco. Back then, John couldn’t fully understand what they were experiencing, but now he can say, “I’ve been there, and with the help of the Lord, I’ve overcome.”

When families of the disabled see John in his wheelchair and Bev with her caregiving challenges, the Leonards have a unique platform for the gospel that comes only through deeply identifying with people’s hurts: “We’ve been there – and are still there – and with the Lord as your Savior, He can help you overcome too.”