Friday, Feburary 28, 2003

February 28, 2003

Friday, February 28 We arrived back in Oak Park late this evening, a little weary from the travel but glad for the time spent at Word of Life Florida. I ended up riding 102 miles on the bike I bought, then I turned it over to the conference center today. Last night I spoke at 10:30 PM to the students at the Bible Institute plus about 23 prospective students. Great spirit very evident among the students. By the way, during the week I read a fine book called “Tuesdays with Morrie” by Mitch Albom. Some profound insights on life and death and finding out what matters in life before it’s too late.

Wednesday, February 26 Another beautiful day in Florida, 77 degrees, mostly clear skies. Some rain on the way tomorrow. Last night after the evening service we went to Harry and Millie Bollback’s home for a time of fellowship. The Hubbards were there along with Harry’s sister and her husband Wayne plus another couple. Great fun, lots of stories about Harry’s childhood in Brooklyn, their recent trip to the Philippines, plenty of laughter, plus Millie served pickled herring. It’s become a personal favorite and the only place I’ve had it is when Millie has served it. After the service tonight the entertainment is a big production of “The Price is Right,” featuring eight contestants from the conference guests this week. I volunteered Marlene for the big event. Winners receive “Harry Dollars” redeemable in the Word of Life bookstore.

Tuesday, February 25 77 degrees, bright sunny skies. Wonderful biking weather. Had a wonderful visit yesterday with some transplanted Calvary friends who now live in Florida: Paul and Phyllis Lavenau, Dick and Ann Baer, and Betty Grosser. We went out for steaks and enjoyed getting caught up with each other. Last night Harry Bollback preached on Romans 10:13. I’m doing the Prayers of Paul series and Dr. Hubbard is preaching on the life stories of great Bible characters. Right now Marlene is doing a bit of bike riding. I heard someone say it was 3 degrees in Chicago this AM so I guess I’m glad we’re in Florida.

Sunday, February 23 Greetings from sunny central Florida where the temperature is around 70 and I’ve been told the rest of the week will be near 80. Marlene and I just arrived at Word of Life Conference Center in Hudson, about 50 minutes north of Tampa. I’m speaking this week along with Dr. Donald Hubbard, longtime pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in New York City. A few minutes ago Harry Bollback called to say hello and ask if we needed anything. Nothing that I can think of, except for my bike perhaps. It was 12 degrees when we left Oak Park and now it’s 70 in Florida. It’s going to be a great week.

Saturday, February 22 Last night our junior high ministry held an outreach event. Here’s a portion of the report from Darin Weil, director of that ministry. “As you know, the Mall Hunt is our biggest outreach of the year. This year we had about 120 people involved in the event. About 85 of them were Jr. High Students, and approximately 30 were first time visitors. At the end of the night two students shared their testimonies and I presented the gospel. On the decision cards we received, 15 of them indicated a first time decision to follow Jesus.” Here are a few comments written by the students: “I have accepted myself as a sinner, yet the Lord will forgive me for all eternity for all my greed and my stupidity, and He will take me into his kingdom.” “I really meant it [the prayer] because I want to turn the black [representing sin] into white [righteousness].” “I have decided to accept Jesus as my savior. I have accepted Jesus as my Lord.” “I understand that Jesus died to take away our sins, so that we may be united with God.” Please continue to pray for our student ministries. God is doing some mighty things.

“Gods and Generals” is a great movie, especially if you are a Civil War buff, as I am. I am not surprised by some of the mainstream negative reviews. Many of the characters pray and quote Scripture. The Christian faith of Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee (portrayed with great power by Robert Duvall) comes through strongly. Christians could be found on all sides in the Civil War, and the film does not ignore the strong faith of the slaves who longed for freedom. Excellent battle scenes, if you like that sort of thing (I do). Cliff Raad told me that Calvary may sponsor a tour of Civil War battlefields in 2004. If so, count me in. This film (and “Gettysburg") would be excellent preparation for the tour.

Friday, February 21 This Sunday Phil Miglioratti of the National Pastors Prayer Network will be speaking at Calvary. Marlene and I will be flying to Florida where I will be speaking next week at Word of Life conference center in Hudson, an hour north of Tampa. Tonight we’re going with some friends for the premier of “Gods and Generals,” the second film in the Civil War trilogy by Ron Maxwell. 

Thursday, February 20 It’s a beautiful day in Oak Park—great for biking. Working to finish my income tax so we can file our FAFSA form before heading for Florida on Sunday. Big event of the week: Planning to go see “Gods and Generals” tomorrow night. It’s a “prequel” to “Gettysburg.”

Monday, February 17 Yesterday we asked the congregation to give us the names of immediate family members serving in the Armed Forces (active or reserve). We want to publish a list of Calvary members and regular attenders who are serving in the military so we can pray for them in these days when war looms on the horizon. 

Sunday, February 16 Great services today. Baptism is always a very moving time for me, especially since I’m “up close and personal” with those being baptized. The five Muzikowski children were so eager, so happy, so delighted to be baptized. After witnessing the joy that baptism brings, I don’t know why anyone would hesitate. I have believed for many years that God gives a special blessing of the Holy Spirit to those who are baptized. Today I prayed before each baptism that the Lord will fill each person with the Holy Spirit and with joy. I believe those prayers were answered.

Saturday, February 15 Tomorrow we are baptizing 10 people, 2 at 8 AM, 5 at 9:15, and 3 at 10:30. The 5 at 9:15 are five brothers and sisters from the Muzikowski family. This will be a first for me. I’ve never baptized so many from one family at one time before.

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