Full Wood Shavings

Since you are reading this, you are one of the faithful to get more information for this week’s Wood Shavings.  Thanks for taking the time.  You are precious to Denise and I.

It has been a long and wonderful day.  The Lord and I had a good time together early this morning.  The Lord has me in the book of Mark right now.  I find this book of the Gospels to be so unique in perspective.  The familiar parables and events to the other Gospels seem a little more direct and succinct in Mark.

Then went off to the gym for some self-inflicted torture.  Every other day for the last month I am doing circuit training led by one of the trainers, Bartek.  In circuit training there are a number, 10 for us, of stations with different exercises. Typically there are three to four of us, but today it was six.  I felt very out of place today as I was the only guy other than the trainer.  So today I was the only one dripping sweat onto the equipment at each station.  I have started to turn the mats over so I have the dirty and sweaty side to myself.  I try to be kind!  God is leading me to more spiritual prospects at the gym.  The regulars know I am an American and a few of them are staring to speak with me if they speak English.  A lady, soon I hope to get here name, asked in very good English if I am a teacher.  I said no, but that my wife is.  She asked if Denise would consider tutoring her son who is seven, but she insists is gifted in language.  Then she asked if I thought a four year old was too young for an English tutor.  I avoided the second question and told here I would bring contact information for Denise this week.  Sadly the woman has not been back in the gym.  Please pray for her and that I will continue to be able to build relationships at the gym.

I talked at little with Edyta, the young lady wanting the tattoo.  I continue to encourage her to be reading the Bible verses that I gave her, but she says she doesn’t have time.  I will keep bugging her in a kindly way.  Please pray she will develop a desire for God’s word and a personal relationship with Him.

Classes started at the Wroclaw Language School today.  This reminds me that I need to tell our 24 year history with the school.  I went to the school this afternoon for prayer, a meeting, and then more prayer.  It looked like a good start with lots of kids and parents.  I prayed especially for the teachers today, please join me in this prayer.  God knows each of their unique needs.  I also prayed that as each student entered the school that the seed of the Gospel would be planted and grow in them this year.

Tomorrow Denise will teach her advanced English class at the school.  Please pray for her as she finishes her preparation and for her students.

Sunday night we will conduct a Prayer & Praise (P&P) service in English.  This marks the semi-official beginning of the future international church.  Every other Sunday night we intend to offer a P&P service at our apartment.  If you are familiar with the small group idea of Life Groups, this will be our basic model.  There are many goals for these gatherings, but the first is to gain some momentum gathering English speakers in Wroclaw.  Please pray that a good group with attend and that we will let God create a deep spiritual community from this first meeting.

Denise and I have started discipling two younger believers; Marianna and Caspar.  Please pray that these relationships will grow strong under God’s leading us.  Pray also for spiritual protection as we know the enemy does not want these kinds of meetings to take place.

Please also pray for Ferdinand.  He is from Cameroon, but works in Wroclaw for HP.  Tomorrow I will take him to the airport for his long trip home – to get married!  The ceremony is on the 4th.  Ferdinand and his fiance are grateful for our prayers.

And I end on a painful note.  Denise and I are working on formal plans for further Polish language study.  It is not easy to learn Polish and I need your prayers for my crummy attitude and for a greater desire to study.  There I admitted the truth.  It does feel good to share this, but sadly still won’t make it easier to learn Polish.  My Russian friend told me – (insert Russian proverb) – “Patience and labor win all”.  Since God did make it possible to learn Russians somewhat well, He can do it again with Polish.

Thanks for praying!

Wood Shavings

Looks like my future plans for the Wood Shavings will have to start now.  My plan is to start sending bullet point versions of prayer requests by email.  Then if you want to get the full details you will need to go to TheWoodShavings.org.  I intend to start adding a lot more information to this website including devotional thoughts, books I have read and am reading, etc.

So here are the prayer requests for this week.  The requests will primarily be statements, not written as specific prayer requests.  I ask you to pray for each item as God leads you.  (The full details might not be available on the website until later today or even tomorrow.)

Classes start at the Wroclaw Language School today.
Denise teaches her first class tomorrow.
Sunday night we will conduct a prayer and praise service in English.
Denise and I have started discipling two younger believers; Marianna and Caspar.
Denise and I are working on formal plans for further Polish language study.

Thanks for praying.


Hi from beautifully sunny and warm Wroclaw (this may be our last day for a while.)

I had a great bicycle ride to 1st Baptist church and back today.  Ok, one embarrassing moment.  At an intersection I slowed to wait for a city bus, but I didn’t see a curb parallel to my path.  Though nearly stopped my front wheel caught on the curb and it sent me to the ground.  No serious damage other than my pride.  I like to think of these all too common experiences as creating memories – not being accident prone.  I have lots of “memories”.

I went to the church for exercise and to get the picture below.  This is the 1st Baptist building and specifically the location for the English school I have told you a little about.  While there I also did a little prayer walking.  Please pray with us for the student’s salvation and teachers spiritual and educational preparation for this school year.  Pray also that God’s will is done at all times and in every way.

English School Door

This is the front door to the English School. The blue and brown sign, in Polish, is for the school.

For now on I intend to send you less than the full Wood Shavings by email.  My idea is that not everyone has time to read my verbosity.  If you wish to read more then choose this link to the rest of TheWoodShavings.org.  There are more pictures also if you choose to visit the webpage.

Thanks for praying.

English School

This is the back of the 1st Baptist Church building and the location for the English School.

God has been leading to more formal plans for the new church.  It is looking like it will be named the International Church of Wroclaw.  This is not my first choice, but I am growing to be more confident this is the right one.

1st Baptist Church Wroclaw

1st Baptist Church Wroclaw

This last Sunday we conducted our first unofficial service.  1st Baptist had plans to move their whole service to a park and would not have English translation.  So we took the opportunity to plan an Praise & Prayer service.  Sadly only one person was able to come, but the three of us had a great time with the Lord.  (More people said they were planning to come, but a Marathon in the city shut down much of the public transportation.)  God never makes mistakes, and we believe He wanted the service to take place, so that evening Denise and I debriefed.  It became clear the service was how God wanted to show us the next step.  Over the next six or so weeks we plan to conduct more Prayer & Praise services on every other Sunday evening.  Please be praying for the next service September 30th.

Please pray for Denise and I as the Lord has sent both of us younger people to disciple.  Denise has been meeting for a few months with Marianna, the same Polish young lady I told you about many months ago.  Last night I met for the first time with Caspar, from the Netherlands.  Pray that all four of us will hear God’s will clearly for our weekly meetings.  Denise and Marianna are doing a formal study, Caspar and I intend to tackle key topical studies from the Bible.

Meeting one-on-one is one of our goals for the new church.  I intend to start rolling out more of the vision for the church in the coming Wood Shavings.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for praying – you who have persevered to the end.

Organic Church Conference

Technology is great unless it isn’t working flawlessly.  Yea, fighting our internet connection today.  But it reminds me how much I take things for granted.  It shocks me to think how I can forget how blessed I am vs thinking I “deserve” things like a stable internet connection.  Everything is a blessing from the Lord.

Denise in the rose garden

In the rose garden behind the Lipizzaner building

We had a great and safe trip to Vienna over the weekend.  On Sunday after attending the International Baptist Church of Vienna, Denise and I walked around the city.  It was a beautiful day.  God gave us perfect timing as we heard what sounded like a marching band when we were outside the Lipizzaner horse building (I am sure it has a more official name).  We ended up watching a whole, but small, parade for a harvest festival.

The conference was excellent for me.  I encourage anyone to read any of Neil Cole’s books and to attend any of the Greenhouse training he leads.  There were no huge truths shared or even any incredibly innovative strategies shared, but maybe that is why it was so powerful.

Harvest festival parade outside of Lippizzaner building

I got some grapes from one of the floats!

I have been asking the Lord for the last six months to strip away my previous conceptions of church to replace them with God’s will for His church.  Probably the greatest truth He has been teaching me is how simple His church is supposed to be.  In the Old Testament, Deuteronomy 6:4-9 stands out to me as the key to His church.  (Please read it if you do not already know these verses.)  It boils down to Love God in literally every way and pass that love relationship with God to the next generation.  In the New Testament Jesus told it as the greatest commandment(s) in Matthew 22:37-40.  But I also hear Jesus telling it again in Matthew 28:18-20 when He told us to “go and make disciples”.  Is God’s church where you live and serve making disciples out of total love for Him?   God’s new church in Wroclaw, the one He is leading Denise and I to start, will be a disciple making church or we will be disobedient.

Neil Cole said at the conference; “we need to hang out with lost people, eat what they eat and drink what they drink and go where they are“, “what is the definition of a church – nearly every definition leaves out Jesus”, and “the Bible never tells us to plant churches, but to plant the good seed of the gospel”.  Attend the training and read his books and you will get the full meaning of each statement.  Maybe the greatest truth tying these statements and the whole training together for me was the pure simplicity of “listening to Jesus and doing what He says”.  The last quote is a core conviction for Mr. Cole.  The church planting network God has built through Mr. Cole is astounding and disciples are being made in the process.  I believe Mr. Cole is onto something and the “proof is in the pudding”.  There is so much more I would love to share, but I will save it for another time.

Please be praying for wisdom and God’s will as Denise and I continue to work toward starting the new church.  We have penciled in a goal to hold our first informal celebration service the first part of October.  We so need your prayers.

I will sign off for now.  Thanks for praying.

1st Baptist English School Teacher’s Meeting

Teacher's Team Building

Teacher’s Team Building

Hi again. (I sure like my new system better, seems like most of you do as well.)

We are doing really well and getting back into the routine of “normal” life. July and August in Europe are so different than the rest of the year, mostly August. It seems like nearly everyone is off somewhere far away on vacation. Meetings are nearly impossible to schedule. But it is great to have the change of pace. Most schools other than college age start the first few days of September. So it is like a switch has been flipped and starting the 1st the city is bustling again. I have to admit that I like the slower pace better.

Yesterday, today and tomorrow the teachers for the 1st Baptist English School are meeting for planning and training. Denise will be teaching one class of advanced students and I will be the chaplain for the school. Monday was new teacher/chaplain orientation. Today was the first full team meeting oriented toward team building. The bulk of the training time fell on the chaplain’s shoulders, me. We started with a fun game of “pens”. Ok, so most of us would call it “spoons”, but I thought it would be easier with pens. Then an extended time of introducing ourselves. Finally we played a trust game. The game was to close your eyes and fall backward (not far or quickly) into the hands of the rest of the teachers. This is somewhat scary for most people, but once they have tried it a stronger bond has been established. The goal of everything was to learn a little more about ourselves and each other, thus becoming a stronger team. Everything went well. The picture above is all the teachers minus one, and myself taking the picture of course. Please be praying for tomorrow and the weeks to come as the teachers will be doing more planning and training.

We also need your prayers as Denise and I take a road trip starting tomorrow. When I heard that an organic church training event was taking place in Vienna, I jumped at the opportunity to attend. Please Google organic church for details, but in general it is a different approach to structuring the life of a church. I really don’t know much myself and therefore look forward to the training. Tomorrow we will travel about five hours to Brno, Czech Republic. Friday we will drive a few more hours to the event in Vienna. Sunday we will take a nearly identical schedule backward and get home Monday evening. Thanks for your prayers for travel mercies, but please mostly pray we will be open to all God want’s to teach us.

Thanks for praying. Nothing really to update on the rest of the family or the other requests we have been tracking.