February 2013

Posted by on Mar 6, 2013 in Newsletters | 0 comments

Dear Family and Friends,

It’s been ten years since Americans awoke to the tragic news that the space shuttleColumbia, returning from a successful 17-day mission, disintegrated upon re-entering earth’s atmosphere.  President Bush’s words later confirmed what most of us already knew:  “TheColumbiais lost.  There are no survivors.”  In one brief moment,Columbia’s crew of five men and two women passed from the temporal realm of time and space into eternity, a journey upon which all of us will one day embark.

For at least two of the astronauts, Col. Rick Husband and Lt. Col. Michael Anderson, this last flight was a glorious one that carried them safely and securely into the waiting arms of their blessed Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Leaving their earthly “house” behind, they experienced the inexpressible joy and bliss of being “clothed with [their] heavenly dwelling from heaven” (2 Cor. 5:1-2).  Both men were known among their friends and colleagues as committed Christians, devoted husbands and fathers, and servant leaders in their home church, Grace Community of Houston.  Before leaving on the Columbia mission, Rick recorded 34 video segments – 17 each for his eight-year-old daughter and three-year-old son – as a “devotion with Dad” for each day he was to be gone.  What a priceless treasure!

On the day of the launch, as the crew was about to meet with members of the press prior to boarding Columbia, Rick paused outside the door of the media room to pray for his fellow astronauts and for the mission.  “I never saw a commander do that before,” a suit technician recalled later.  During the mission the astronauts’ spouses were given the opportunity to select “wake-up songs” for them.  Rick’s wife, Evelyn, chose God of Wonders by Steve Green.  The words to this song of praise extol the greatness and majesty of the Creator God:

                  Lord of all creation, of water, earth and sky,

      The heavens are Your tabernacle; glory to the Lord on high!

   God of wonders beyond our galaxy, You are holy, holy;

        The universe declares Your majesty, You are holy, holy.

          Lord of heaven and earth, Lord of heaven and earth.

               Early in the morning I will celebrate the light.  

 When I stumble in the darkness I will call Your name by night.

             Hallelujah to the Lord of heaven and earth. 

            Hallelujah to the Lord of heaven and earth![1]

In response, Rick acknowledged to Mission Control, “We can really appreciate the lyrics to that song up here.  We look out the window and see that God truly is a God of wonders.”  In an “extraterrestrial e-mail” to Steven Green, Rick noted how overwhelming it was to behold the wonders of the universe from space and how he began to cry while peddling his exercise bike and looking out the window at God’s creative genius and power on display.

Rick’s faith-inspired and faith-affirming testimony stands in stark contrast to that of former Russian cosmonaut Gherman Titoy who, upon returning from space several years ago, remarked, “Some people say there is a God out there, but in my travels around the earth all day long, I looked around and didn’t see Him.  I saw no God, nor angels.  This rocket was made by our own people.  I don’t believe in God; I believe in man – his strength, his possibilities, his reason.”

The ancient proverb still holds true:  “There are none so blind as those who will not see.”  Although he could hardly be considered a spiritual giant, Albert Einstein was nonetheless on the right track, theologically, in admitting that “every one who is seriously engaged in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that the laws of nature manifest the existence of a spirit vastly superior to that of men, and one in the face of which we with our modest powers must feel humble.”[2]  The universe bears undeniable and irrefutable witness to its divine origin:  The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands (Ps. 19:1).  Since the moment the first atom came into existence, God’s “invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood by what has been made” (Rom. 1:20).

Released Time introduces boys and girls to the God who, in the words of philosopher and theologian Francis Schaeffer, “is there and is not silent.”  One of my greatest joys in working with children is observing their willingness, by God’s grace, to receive and respond to divine truth.  I have yet to meet a boy or girl who had to be convinced of the reality of God’s existence, who disputed and ultimately denied what creation as well as conscience clearly affirm.  The seeds of spiritual skepticism and cynicism germinate and grow in the soil of time and experience, yielding their bitter fruit, more often than not, in the adolescent and adult years.  This is why reaching elementary-age children for Christ is our top priority, and enabling them to understand and believe the God “is” (Heb. 11:6) is the necessary foundation upon which sound theology and saving faith are established.

Both Rick Husband and Michael Anderson embraced this basis truth at an early age and, in time, came to know the One who is “the radiance of [God’s] glory and the exact representation of His nature” (Heb. 1:3), the One who bears “the image of the invisible God” and in whom “all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form … our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (Col. 1:15; 2:9; Tit. 2:13).  Our constant prayer is that the little ones to whom we minister would be given grace to behold, with eyes of faith, this One who “is God” – the great “I AM” – and that they would confess, with Thomas, “My Lord and my God” (John 14:9; cf. 1:1; 8:58; 18:5-6; 20:28).  For Rick, Michael, and every other spiritual child, it is Christ alone who guarantees our sure and safe passage from earth to heaven, from darkness to light, from death to life, for He and He alone is “the true God and eternal life” (1 John 5:20).

Patrice Rogers, our Released Time coordinator in Smithville, OK, has a burden to reach every child in her school district (which includes several communities in the area) with the message of Christ.  The current district enrollment, grades 1 – 8, is 165 students, with 163 enrolled in Released Time!  “Two boys from one family in our school are not allowed to attend Bible Time,” Patrice noted her most recent report.  “They are the only ones left at school [when Released Time meets].  Please pray for the softening of their Mama’s heart.”  Together, let’s lift up this woman before the throne of grace, that God would indeed soften her heart and allow her sons to participate, and that they in turn would be able to share with their mom the wonderful truth of God’s love and forgiveness in Christ.

In a little over three weeks I’ll leave for Kenyawith David and Amy Warr and Bobby Johnson of Interlocking Ministries.  During our two-week stay (March 17-30), we will be ministering on Mfangano Island, Lake Victoria, sharing the Word through open-air evangelism and Bible classes in the public and Christian schools.  On Sunday, March 24th, David, Bobby and I will be preaching in three different churches on the theme, “The Value of Your Soul.”  The day before, David and I will be conducting a one-day Pastors Conference for area pastors, most of whom have a very limited knowledge of the Bible.  Please pray for God to prepare the hearts of those who will hear the gospel, and that those who need to grow in their faith will receive the encouragement and resources to do so.  Pray for safety in all the traveling that will be done by the Kenyans and Americans.  Pray that we will have wisdom in knowing how to help the many orphans and widows on the island, and that both Kenyans and Americans will be blessed by one another as we serve our great God together.  Our Kenyan brethren plan to set aside Saturday, March 2nd, as a day of prayer and fasting for these things, and for the trip in general.  Thank you for praying, giving, and perhaps even fasting, as the Lord leads.  I look forward to sharing with you in the coming weeks the greatness and goodness of our God!

To the Praise of His Glory,


[1] Lyrics by Steve J. Hindalong and Marc Byrd.  Copyright:  Universal Music Publishing Group.

[2] Albert Einstein, in a personal letter to a sixth-grade student named Phyllis Wright, dated January 24, 1936.

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