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My very dear friends,

Senior Pastor Randy Martin and I were bunking with a group of ten-year-old boys at Lone Tree Bible Ranch in 1990. On the third day of our camp, I walked into our room and swooned. The stench. An interrogation discovered that, in spite of our full, active days of trail-riding, hiking, and archery, the lads had touched nor water nor soap. We frog-marched them to the showers to the tune of their pitiful protestations.

Later in the week we were all in bed and the lights were out at the appointed hour, but the boys wouldn’t stop yapping. Nothing we said could still their tongues. Then Randy decreed that “The next person who speaks has to take a shower now.”


These stinkers are now in their 40s, and they are pastors and elders and missionaries and fathers and brothers in the church of Jesus Christ. God himself transformed them. He transformed them through the ordinary means of grace. That is, our philosophy of ministry to children and youth at UPres began with the assumption that these (sometimes) malodorous creatures were in truth disciples of Jesus. So their parents and pastors and youth leaders and teachers all did with them what you do with disciples: teach them God’s word. Teach them how to read it, how to pray it, how to understand it, how (in dependence on God) to live it. The word was sown generously into their lives. Now they are trees of righteousness planted by streams of water, yielding their fruit in season. Praised be God!

One of the reasons we viewed our children as disciples is that, as Presbyterians, we are among the heirs of the seventeenth-century Puritans. From the framework of their covenant theology they created and passed down to us a culture of discipleship within the family, urging parents in their responsibility to catechize their children in the faith and lead them in family worship. This is a gift from God.

Slovak evangelicals have their own heritage from the pietists who sought reform and revival within the Lutheran church. However, we didn’t find among them a strong culture of family worship or catechesis. Creating and shaping such a culture is hard but necessary work, multi-generational work, and our partners Tomáš, Bohuš, Marek, and Juraj have that work before them. Please ask the Spirit to give young Slovak parents the eyes to see their children as disciples of Jesus Christ, and to teach them God’s word: how to read it, how to pray it, how to understand it, how (in dependence on God) to live it.

Thank you.


I’m almost a month into my writing experiment. One proposal I’m preparing is another adaptation of a work by (the Puritan) John Owen called The Grace and Duty of Being Spiritually Minded. When Owen was sick and thought he was dying, he decided to write out his spiritual exercises. When to his surprise God restored him, he turned his death-bed devotions into lessons for his congregation, then into a book for us all.

In his preface he explains why he prepared his devotions for others—and his philosophy about all his ministry—and his first goal is “To impart those truths of whose power I hope I have had in some measure a real experience.” In rewriting and adapting his work, one thing I fear is that I’ll be passing on good stuff, but passing it on second-hand, not as “truths of whose power … I have had in some measure a real experience.” So please ask God to give me a real experience of him that I can write from, and not just someone else’s (even a Puritan’s) recycled spirituality.

Thank you.


Some men at our church in Bryan started a book-discussion group this year, and our most recent read was Francis Schaeffer’s True Spirituality. Francis and Edith’s writings shaped my development as a young adult believer in the 1980’s, but I confess that much of this one felt a bit dated in the way he expressed his ideas (1953 lectures reworked and published in 1971). However, you really must read the last two chapters: “Substantial Healing in Personal Relationships” and “Substantial Healing in the Church.” Pure gold, and never more needed than now. Tolle, lege!


Since the school year wrapped up last week, Paula is hunting for a new job. Please ask God to provide her a situation.

Now may God in his mercy give you a taste and real experience of the power of his presence as you seek his face in his word, as you meditate on his beauty, as you thank him for all his kindness and generosity to you, and as you receive his fatherly love and care for you.

Kris (for Paula)

PS: Yes, that’s Paula flying around those barrels on a horse at Lone Tree circa 1991.
Crisis in Ukraine Crisis in Ukraine
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