05 December 2017

28 November 2017

Conclusions, Conferences, and Christmas Prep


Classes for the second term of 2017 have come to a close. The deadline for our grading is fast approaching (just over 72 hours away)! My favorite class this term was our Old Testament Survey course. I'm looking forward to next year's Bible reading to revisit some of our conclusions in the class. Please pray for perseverance for students and teachers alike as we complete oral exams and some lingering assignments as well as assessments.
As the semester drew to a close we welcomed Dr. Steve Lawson to speak to us on the topic of the Reformation. I especially appreciated the way that Dr. Lawson used the lives of the reformers as a means to pointing to the gospel. These were deeply flawed men, no doubt, but God used them to reawaken an awareness of the good news of justification by faith alone and a commitment to the authority of the Scriptures over the lives and consciences of Christ's followers. We continue to pray that God would use our efforts to spark a similar fire of reformation here in Kenya and beyond.
The family and I enjoyed a long weekend after the busyness of the conferences to celebrate Thanksgiving and make some preparations for Christmas. We've begun our long anticipated advent readings from a familiar storybook Bible. Let's pray together that God's Spirit would grant us all a sense of wonder at the incarnation of Christ, especially rejoicing in the success of the Son's mission to earth and his victory over sin and death through the cross.

31 October 2017

Happy Reformation Day!

It's been encouraging to see friends here in Kenya post on social media about the Reformation's anniversary today. The Lord is at work spreading an unwavering devotion to his Word and a passion for the pure gospel throughout our city. What a privilege to be a small part of what he's doing!

One way we're seeking to spread the flames of reformation through the thick brambles of man-made religion is by equipping church leaders with the Word. Our school year is nearing its completion, and each course, from Old Testament Survey to New Testament theology to Methods in Writing, aims to give pastors and others the tools they need to serve. Please continue to pray for impact beyond the academic.
On the home front, we've enjoyed a special visit from my mom this month. We sneaked away for a quick trip to a game park a few of hours out of town while she was here. We're grateful for this opportunity to connect with family and to make these memories. Our God is kind beyond measure in ways big and small.
Please be in prayer for Kenya as the political situation remains unstable. Kenya’s elections this year have been marred by various complications. The Supreme Court declared the original presidential election of 8-Aug invalid, and the second one (26-Oct) was poorly attended in large measure because one of the main candidates was convinced that the problems with the first vote had not been fixed and asked his supporters to boycott the second. We’re still waiting to hear what will come of that second vote. In the meantime, political violence has erupted, the economy has slowed, and crime has escalated. We have been safe as a family, but the instability has certainly touched places we frequent and people we love. Please pray that God would grant wisdom, humility, and integrity to our leaders here as well as peace and justice to the Kenyan people.

30 September 2017

Slaying Sin and Mobilizing Missions

Since our good friends and coworkers the Moores began their assignment in the States this June, our community group has been working through a little book called The Enemy Within. This book updates and simplifies John Owen's Mortification of Sin. The wording comes from Paul's command to "put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry" (Col 3:5, cf. Rom 8:13). I have been repeatedly encouraged by our Friday night gatherings as we endeavor to help one another fight sin.  One participant last week brought up a helpful flowchart (available here for print and for free) so that we could discuss how the principles of the book could be shaped into a process to be repeated from now all the way to heaven. We're so thankful for the camaraderie we enjoy at this church as we seek to put to death the deeds of the flesh, holding nothing back.
Emmanuel Baptist pursued a special missions emphasis this month. Pastor Ken and a few other speakers challenged us as a congregation to prioritize God's glory and the salvation of the nations, especially those who remain unreached. I love how we've been led as a congregation to consider how God uses ordinary people for his extraordinary redemptive purposes. God is at work for the glory of Jesus among the nations! Please continue praying that God would use us in his great rescue plan even as he continues to rescue us from our own sin.

16 September 2017

School Days, Family Days, and Every Day

Classes continue for both EABST students at work and the Pittsley boys at home. Right now I can hear Josiah working through the rudiments of calculating interest in his online math classes. In EABST's Old Testament Survey, we've just completed the initial preparatory questions: What is the Old Testament? How has it come down to us? And what are we supposed to do with it? Now we're prepared to dive into the text itself. Pray for us that we would see the glorious reign of God as he sovereignly prepared the path for Jesus through the sometimes hard and sometimes happy history of Israel.



This semester Monday is officially family day, and I've been working to keep that day free for hanging out with Jen and the kids. It's been a treasure recently to deliberately set aside time for discipling, enjoying, and relaxing with these guys. Each of them is a pleasure to talk to and play with at this stage. At the same time, Jenny and I long to see them grow toward faithful, godly adulthood, and this time together an investment in that future.


Please also pray for us as we reach out in our community. We need wisdom to capitalize on the opportunities that God sends our way for the spread of his fame and the gospel. The man pictured to the right is a complete stranger. In the middle of a local grocery store the other day, he asked to take a picture with me, and I obliged. I have no idea what use that picture is to him, but as I think of it now, I could have used this chance meeting as an opportunity to get to know this man whose life intersected with mine in what appeared to be completely random circumstances or even as an opportunity to bring up the saving gospel of Jesus. Keep praying that we'll be faithful to this task that we all share every day. Thank you for your faithful prayers and partnership with us as we work for the progress of the gospel here in Kenya.

02 September 2017

12 August 2017

Post-Election Silence

Around 9 years ago this fall, I preached my first deputation message on our long journey to Kenya. The text was 1 Timothy 2:1–7. There Paul instructs churches to pray for those in authority that we may "live peaceful and quiet lives" not for the sake of our own comfort but because "God our Savior…wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth." National peace and stability is a strategic tool in the hand of God for the sake of the progress of the gospel.

The results of the Kenyan election were given last night, and the incumbent was declared the winner. While the opposition leader has disputed the results, he has not called upon his supporters to protest publicly—at least not yet—and for that we're thankful. There have been some skirmishes between police and protesters here and there in the city and around the country, but on the whole sanity has been maintained.  Right now, it's really quiet outside, and we're okay with that. 
Please continue to pray for peace, for the sake of the many Kenyan lives at stake, and for the sake of the Name.

10 July 2017

Courses

Opportunities to train and equip leaders for the expansion of the gospel in Kenya have continued to grow. Last month, I had the opportunity to facilitate an online course for Emmanuel Baptist's church-planting interns. The course gave an overview of the rules of Bible interpretation and application. My role was to help the students stay on schedule and to discuss all of the videos and assignments. It's a very high quality course although we worked through it quite rapidly. We could have easily expanded our month of coursework into a whole year.
This week, we've welcomed Dr. Jeff Straub back to teach a week-long intensive course on the early church. The students will get to see the early expansion of the Church, its struggle with the Roman Empire, and the roots and development of Roman Catholicism. Discussing the doctrinal progress and aberrancies of these periods will reinforce the biblical truths the students have learned in other classes and help them develop the kind of discernment so necessary to faithful pastoral ministry.
If you are attuned to the world of politics, you may be aware of the approaching Kenyan elections. The 2013 presidential elections were relatively peaceful, but the previous elections of 2007 became quite tumultuous. Tensions between various ethnic communities escalated and violence erupted. Many were killed, and many more lost their homes. Please pray for peace as the country goes to the voting booth on August 8.

31 May 2017

Proclaim!

We're thankful for the many answered prayers over the last month.
The first weekend of the month, EABST hosted a workshop on Bible message development. We explored 2 Timothy as a case study. Jonathan and I enjoyed watching as the students worked through the text, observing the structure of the book, its original occasion and central themes, and its 21st century application. It's such a privilege to see the way that the Lord is equipping these men to serve the church with the Word.
The next week the Huffstutlers and Pittsleys took a quick break out of town. This was an opportunity to retreat and take a deep breath before the next couple of weeks of intense busyness and work. We also took time over the weekend to grow in our relationships as members of the EABST team. One of the first things I noticed was how quiet it was outside the city. We have become so accustomed to the noise of traffic, school children, radios and TVs; it's nice to just hear the wind sometimes.
Two weeks ago, Jenny and I had the privilege of traveling to Malawi. I was able to visit with a teacher and administrator at a pastors' school. There I acquired a feel for their ministry, some ideas to take home for our ministry, and some ways our ministry might be able to serve them in the future. While we were there, Jenny and I also stood as best couple in the wedding of two dear friends. It was such a beautiful ceremony, and it was so exciting to see this couple finally tie the knot!
Last weekend EBC and EABST partnered to host the long awaited Proclaim Conference. We had just over 400 attendees including many international guests. Christ's grace in allowing us to participate in his plans for his church in Africa is so incredible! The opportunity that we have here to equip pastors from many backgrounds with the truth of God's Word—especially this year, with our concentration on God's plan for local churches—is truly invaluable. Please keep praying for this ministry!
During Proclaim and now into this week, Dr. Mark Snoeberger has been teaching on the topic of biblical theology. He has been equipping pastors and other church members with tools they can use as they seek to study for themselves how the pieces of the Bible fit together.
Thank you for keeping us in your prayers. Please continue to mention us before the Lord: It is by his work in us that we are able to bring glory to his name.

26 April 2017

Catching Up and Thinking Ahead

Every once in a while the Lord gives us merciful little reminders that what we call normal is in reality a very fragile thing. As the seasons changed from dry to rainy this year, I noticed a number of people taking time out due to illness. And three Fridays ago, I got hit too. I was diagnosed with some sort of bacterial infection in my blood. Antibiotics treated it pretty quickly, but a stomach bug took the opportunity to swoop in just as I was getting over the infection. I've been grateful to God over the last week to be able to recover the energy to catch up on everything. All told the month of April has flown by incredibly quickly!
This last week we had the enjoyable treat of meeting with a pastor friend from the States. We had  nyama choma (Kenyan barbecue), and he walked our students through several aspects of the life of a church planter and pastor. We're thankful for opportunities like this to equip and shape our students as they engage in ministries of their own.
Next month is shaping up to be a big month for EABST and our local church, Emmanuel Baptist. The weekend after next, EABST is doing a one-day workshop on 2 Timothy, helping students work through the process of interpreting the Bible and preparing expository sermons. The big event at the end of the month is the Proclaim Conference, our pastors' conference. This year, we will be concentrating on the importance of the local church. Christ's good news creates a community and to miss the priority of the community is to misunderstand his mission.
Please keep these items in prayer. As always your efforts and partnership with us in prayer are a source of deep encouragement. Our awesome God is worthy of our reliance and confidence.

24 March 2017

The Kids

One area of everyday life that I don't frequently write about is family. Jenny and the boys work hard on their homeschooling throughout the day during the week. Sometimes it's difficult to notice development as each day blends into the next.
However, we're excited about a few areas our boys where the boys are making some progress. Josiah has begun joining us in the adult services at Emmanuel. I don't remember specifically how he conveyed to us that he was ready, but we've been enjoying the discussion after each sermon. He appears excited to learn what to listen for to understand a sermon well. I've had the opportunity to preach several times recently, so it's been fun to discuss my sermons with him.
Together as a family we have been memorizing Hebrews 11. Jonas has taken the lead here: He's the one to remind us at bedtime that we need to spend some time working on it, and he always wants to try the new verses first.
Jamin has been reading The Big Picture Story Bible to us in the evenings. It's so neat to watch his confidence in reading grow as he makes steady progress through the hefty book. As a father it's exciting to see these evidences that God is watching over our children spiritually. Please continue to pray that we would lead them well and that they would walk with the Lord.

24 February 2017

Some Prayer Requests

I'm hoping to get our print newsletter format updated in the near future. If you have a US mailing address you'd like me to be sending my print newsletters to, don't hesitate to drop me a line. In the mean time, here are a few ongoing prayer requests.

Please pray for:
1. Wisdom as we continue to try to make EABST the best pastors’ school it can be. Curriculum development is an ongoing project, and the current progress is exciting.
2. Skill and energy for teaching both at our local church and at EABST.
3. Fruitful, effective ministry to area pastors through our pastors’ conference, Proclaim. We’re concentrating on a sound theology of the local church this year. The event will be the last weekend in May, Lord willing.
4. Growth in our own personal Christlikeness, in our discipleship relationships, and in godly parenting. We long for God's glory to shine through lives that could only be the product of his Spirit.

Thank you for continuing to partner with us; God is working in answer to your prayers.

24 January 2017

Supernatural Preparation for Church-Planting

My co-worker Jonathan Moore shared a bit here about another project we've been working on. It's a joy to see the way God has brought faithful men across our path who are eager to get to work in the mission of Christ in this city and beyond.

17 January 2017

Word's Getting Out

Last Tuesday we began classes at EABST, and we're quite excited about two new developments here. The first is a couple of courses, Church Life and NT Survey, that we're implementing for the first time this semester. Some time ago, we identified several gaps in our curriculum and started planning to close those gaps. NT Survey is aimed especially at those students whose programs don't include our biblical theology courses. We want to expose them to the riveting message of the New Testament books with a view toward the grand story of redemption in Christ. Church Life covers sometimes controversial issues like the roles and responsibilities of pastors, church members, and missionaries. Other classes we're teaching include Evangelism, Old Testament Theology of the Writings, and New Testament Theology of Matthew and Mark.
The other news we're excited about is that the Lord has brought seven new students our way! One of the new students, a pastor from a church across town, took me aside today to gently rebuked me. He said he had been looking for solid, affordable theological education for years. "Why are you keeping this place a secret?" he asked, only half joking. In fact, we're quite glad that word about us is getting out, and we're eager to be of service to this fine group of students as they seek to serve our Lord and his people. Please continue to pray with us as we seek to help churches entrust the Word to faithful men.