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May 30, 2009

Sunday Morning Ministry: May 30, 2009

Blessed Lord's Day morning to you!

For those of you who may be at home with sick children or some other reason you are unable to meet with other local Believers, I've prepared a message for your encouragement and edification.

For those who would like to listen, here is an audio version, and the written version is below. It's not professional quality, but I hope it will suffice.

  • Be sure to sign the GUEST BOOK so we evaluate how useful this ministry tool is over time.

  • There is a blog badge below for the "Riggs Family Sunday Morning Ministry" if you want to post it on your blog so others can find out about it.

This But Not That

2 Corinthians 4:8-10 We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. (NKJV)

Life is hard. Even on the very best of days we are never far from understanding that life in general is difficult and complex. That doesn't mean it's not joyful.

That doesn't mean it's not satisfying. At any given time there are usually several difficult aspects or circumstances in life.

Have you ever wondered why God allows life to be this way? I mean He could simply snap His fingers and we can live the rest of our days and complete joy, pleasure and excitement. God could simply decide that His children will never have another problem, another heart ache, another pain or another difficulty and guess what? They wouldn't.

God doesn't decide that though. We live day after day with joy as well as pain, with suffering as well as happiness. Again I ask, why? We're going to look at Paul's answer but first let's look at his list of "this and that".

Hard-pressed but Not Crushed

Have you ever felt hard-pressed? Do the pressures of life tangibly squeeze in on you? Do you ever feel like everything is just coming at you from every direction? As human beings we will feel this way simply because of life. As Christians we will be even harder pressed because we will have a world that hates our Lord pressing in on us as well.

While it may feel that way, we are not crushed. God protects us, He cares for us and while He will allow us to endure hardship, He will never allow it to crush us. You may ask "but what about people who are destroyed or died? Has not God allowed them to be crushed?" For Christians the answer is "no" because to leave this life is the ultimate victory.

Perplexed but Not in Despair

To be perplexed means to be filled with uncertainty. I'm not sure there's a day goes by that I'm not uncertain about something. Living in a sin cursed world with millions of other frail sinful human beings assures us each day of our share of uncertainty. Politics, finances, weather, health and many other factors all conspire together to remove any sense of certainty from our lives.

This is reason to despair if you don't know God. But for those who do know the Creator there is not one single reason to despair because He has revealed to us the end of all things. We know who wins, we know where we end up and we know that all uncertainty will disappear for those who have placed their faith in the Lord God.

Persecuted but Not Forsaken

It is human nature to feel forgotten and betrayed every time we face persecution. For the Christian, we face the temptation to accuse God of abandoning us or forgetting about us in the midst of our trials and suffering. When the unsaved world that hates Jesus Christ persecutes us for our faith in Him, it is easy to reach the point of feeling like God has forsaken us because He could stop the persecution if He chose to.

We may be persecuted, God never forsakes us. As a Christian matures spiritually they come to realize that persecution refines the believer's faith in God and in reality is a sort of compliment from God. God never allows us to be persecuted beyond our ability to endure it and He is always faithful to reward us eternally for suffering in His name. So if you are suffering, it is because God knows you can handle it and He is doing it so that you will have even greater faith. You may be persecuted but you are far from forsaken.

Struck Down but Not Destroyed

Following the same theme, many things may happen to beat us down and knock us down but God will not allow us to be destroyed. Like a broken bone that heals stronger than before the break, a Christian becomes stronger each time they are struck down and rise back up in the power of Jesus Christ. God will never ever allow us to be destroyed. Even if your flesh is destroyed and the body dies, you have gained the ultimate victory.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

So what does Paul say about all this? What is the purpose, the reason and the benefit that God has prepared for us by allowing life to be tough? Notice what he says:

"Always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested"

The suffering we endure in this body is a living example and testimony of how Lord's body died for us. The trials we endure, the perplexing nature of life and the persecution remind us of the pain and suffering Jesus experienced on our behalf. When we are crushed and struck down, it transforms us into the image of Christ, manifesting the life of Christ in us so that everyone around us can witness it.

If you are hard-pressed, it is an example of how the Lord was hard-pressed. If you allow God to work through it, the life of Jesus will be manifested in your life. If you are uncertain about life, you do not need to despair because God is in control. This uncertainty is a reminder of what Jesus did for us and how you can become like Him. If you are suffering persecution, God will never forsake you. Let that persecution be a memorial in your life to help you recall what Jesus did for you and how you will suffer for His sake - which in turn He will reward you for.

Is life tough? No?
Don't worry, it will be soon.

Is life tough for you right now? If it's not, don't worry, it will be soon. When it is, have hope that things will be rough but you will not be crushed, you need not despair. God will never forsake you and you will not be destroyed. Take joy that through the difficulties you're reminded of how the Lord Jesus suffered for you. Through the sufferings we have life more abundantly. God is using the difficulties of this life to transform us into the image of His son so that we can spend all eternity with Him.

    Mowing for Widows & Abby Pics

    Here is the second yard that has been added to our "mowing for the widows"
    ministry effort. Her name is Millie, and she grinned ear to ear when I
    asked her if I could mow her lawn and assured her it was for free.
    She told me she was just about to do it herself. She's got to be
    near eighty years old and she push mows the whole thing. Takes
    her a couple of days each week. Even just the two current
    yards are almost two acres and LOTS of things to mow around.
    It seems the "yard things" are a popular past time of older ladies.

    In another elderly couple's yard that we mow, they have this one single
    flower that we were told has bloomed just like this every year for 10 years.
    Abby loved it, so naturally she had to have a pic next to it. I was fixing an
    outdoor faucet for them, and the Princess flashed a smile at me
    so I would drop everything and go get my camera which of course, I did.

    I have no idea what kind of flower this is. I'm sure some of you do.

    Abby and some fresh picked roses that "Miss Dorothy"
    (our elderly neighbor) picked and put in a vase.

    True or Not True: the Hummer Adventure

    True or Not True is a fun feature we do occasionally where I (Brent) tell a story. It might be true, it might all be totally made up, or it might be part true. That's for you to figure out. This time we are offering a prize for whoever gets the closest to the right answer.

    (Note: the pics are not real photos of this story. We didn't take any pics. I just found these on the Internet to give you an idea of what this all looked like.)

    At a magazine I started with some other guys, we decided to get a HUMMER for promotional purposes and wrap it with graphics and a big logo.

    We went down to the only local dealer that sold them and told them we wanted a black one. The manager said they didn’t have any on the lot but could get one in from another location in a couple of days.

    “In the meantime” he said, “why don’t you take the demo loaner we have and drive it for a day or two.” No doubt this was to keep us interested and help us not change our mind. “Have you ever seen what these things can do? You would be amazed.”

    “No” I said, “I haven’t driven one. Are you saying it’s okay for us to take it off road and try it out?” The manager was unaware that I was in the Army for a decade and knew what the military Hummers were capable of.

    “Sure” the dealer smiled. “That’s what the demo is for. If you go off down by the river, over just west of here, there are some great areas to offroad. You know where I’m talking about?”

    I did. “And you don’t care if we take it there and test it out?” I asked.

    “Nope. Just try not to tear it up. It’s covered by insurance but any damage you cause by hitting a tree or something, you’ll be responsible for. If anything happens structurally because of being off road, that’s our problem. These things are supposed to handle some pretty rough terrain.” They SURE are, I thought with a devilish twinge.

    “Sounds great” I replied, excited. “I’ll bring it back tomorrow and we look forward to getting the black one in a couple of days”. And with that, me and a couple of guys were off to have some fun in a demo Hummer, covered by insurance with the blessing of the manager to “test it out”. Could there be anything more primed for an adventure? Or a disaster?

    The offroad area he described was actually back behind a Lowe’s that sit near (a couple hundred yards or more) a bend in the local river and there was probably a hundred acres or so of woods, sand bar and washed out gullies accessible from the very back corner of the Lowe’s parking lot. Evidently it was a well known offroading area because the paths that led off the Lowe’s parking lot and into the woods had plenty of fresh tracks.

    At first I was pretty cautious. A Hummer is a big vehicle and it’s hard to get the feel for how wide and tall it is. This commercial model (H2) was a different proportion than the military version, sitting up higher and more narrow. I daintily went down a few trails that really any pickup truck could have negotiated with no problem. After a while the landscape opened up as we neared the river, and combined with my growing familiarity with the Hummer, we started to have some fun.

    Over big mounds, straddling deep gullies, up steep hills, through the mud and silt, mowing down brush and small seedling trees… I’m sure I wasn’t pushing the Hummer to nearly what it was capable because it did all this without even using the four wheel drive or low gears. Then… we went around a bend, and there it was: a real test.

    Before us lied about 60 yards of mush… standing water, oozing mud, a couple of deep muck and mud filled depressions, a steep muddy bank that was capped off with some big rocks. We paused for a second, more to consider our own bravery than the Hummer capabilities, but like all good testosterone filled male-idiots with a new toy, the consideration was never in depth or for very long. Off we went….

    We plough through a couple of wet spots and over a big gully before arriving at a big standing mud pit that looked every bit like swamp bog but filled with thick, goopey slop. There were other tire tracks leading into, around and apparently through this area so you know us boys, “if they did it, then our Hummer can do it.”

    We plowed into the middle of the mud bog and got stuck only a few feet into it. There was mud all the way up to the bottom of our doors which on a Hummer is about two and half or three feet from the ground. No worries… I realized we weren’t even in four wheel drive yet. So I shifted to four wheel drive. No luck. Tires were spinning off and on as the Hummer tried to disperse and divert power to the ones that were not. I let off the gas. Okay, what next? I actually got the manual out of the glove box and quickly read up on the different gears available – probably should have done that BEFORE we started.

    I shifted the Hummer to its lower four wheel drive gears and settings which would give us maximum power, slower tire rotations, dispersion of power equally… the optimum configuration possible. Nothing. The Hummer wouldn’t budge. The mud had grabbed the vehicle like a giant sucker and the more we tried to move, the tighter its grip became as it packed in around us. What’s more, the engine started to sputter and wasn’t accelerating properly when you gave it gas. That really worried us because this machine was supposed to be able to deal with crossing through water, mud, dirt, sand, whatever… not only were we stuck, the engine was acting up. I started to get a little nervous. We were NOT getting out of there alone, that much was for sure.

    I called one of the guys from the office who I knew had a big truck himself. “Mike, hey I’m out here behind Lowe’s in the Hummer. You know where I’m talking about?” He did. “Well, I got into a huge mud hole and we are stuck. The engine is acting up too. Can you come and pull us out with your truck?”… “No, I’ve tried four wheel drive, and the low gears; no luck”… “I’m not sure about the engine, it’s just sputtering and acting weird”…. “Not yet, there’s no water or mud inside. We haven’t tried to open the doors or get out. The mud is up to the bottom of the doors though”… “Okay, hurry. We aren’t going anywhere.”

    A half hour passed and we finally see Mike coming into the area in his big four wheel drive. He stops at the edge of the mud pit, gets out and heads to the back of his truck to get something to pull us out with. He appears with something orange in color.

    “What the heck is that?” I hollered out my window.

    “A long extension cord.” If he wouldn’t have been standing there in plain sight holding it, I would have never believed it.

    “Are you out of your mind????” I yelled across to him. “Do you really think that is going to pull this monster out of this mud hole? You might as well have brought dental floss!”

    “Well, it’s all I had” Mike explained. “I figured we double it up or something. I didn’t realize how bad you were stuck.”

    An extension cord. That would not have pulled a bicycle out of the mud without breaking. “Go back to Lowe’s and by a heavy chain. I’ll pay for it” I told him.

    Another half hour passed and Mike returned with the chain. I crawled through the Hummer and got out on the back bumper. Mike threw the end of the chain to me. Luckily, he actually bought a “tow chain” so it had those hooks with clips on the end. I ran it around the heavy bumper and secured it to the towing frame on the Hummer.

    “Mike, put your truck in the lowest gear and pull us out SLOWLY. Otherwise, we’ll both be stuck.”

    I got back in the drivers seat, set the lowest gear, put it in reverse, and waved at Mike. Between his truck and the sputtering power of the Hummer, we inched the beast out of the mud pit and onto solid ground. We unhooked the chain and drove back to the Lowe’s parking lot. Obviously something was wrong with the Hummer. By the time we hit pavement on the parking lot, not only did the engine sound weird, THE BRAKES DIDN’T WORK. The brake pedal had gotten softer and softer as we drove back to civilization and finally they were dead. Nothing. I had to use the emergency brake and low gears to slow down and stop. This was getting really fun now, and probably expensive.

    “Listen” I told the other two guys with me, “there is a car wash just down the street. I will drive really slow, and we can use the low gears and emergency brake to stop. We have to get this thing cleaned up and back to our office or we are going to get hammered by the dealer with a big repair bill.” It was around 7pm, so traffic was light, and we had no problem getting to the car wash although, looking back, driving a HUMMER on city streets with no brakes was not one of my more wisdom-filled moments.

    Between us, we spent almost $20 and an hour washing mud from the Hummer. Thick, drying mud was in EVERYTHING. The wheel wells were packed, the underneath, the drive train… it was amazing how much mud there was. I opened up the hood and figured out the cause of the engine trouble. The entire engine compartment was cover in mud though I couldn’t really figure out how, or why that would be affecting the engine, but obviously it was. We hosed off the engine for what seemed like an eternity but the engine still sputtered. We would have to take our chances with the dealer.

    As we were hosing out the inside/underneath of the wheels, it became obvious why we did not have brakes. One of the brake hydraulic lines was broken loose and a few drops of the remaining fluid was hanging on for dear life at the end of the line. We must have caught a rock or fallen tree limb or something. Just our luck.

    After an hour of washing, mud was still finding its way out of the cracks and crevices. It was going to be dark soon so we needed to get the truck back to our office for the night.

    “Okay guys, get in” I told them. “I’ll be careful.” We go off down the road taking a less traveled route back to the office. At one point, I near a right hand turn and was going a little faster than I should. I look left and a car was coming… no time to gear down and I didn’t want to lock up the wheels with the emergency brake, so I look right and see a pretty wide open area up on the curb off the side of the road. I pulled right, hopped the curb and looked every bit like an idiot with a big boy toy driving on the sidewalk/grass next to a city road. I just hoped it wasn’t a cop coming by.

    The oncoming car I was avoiding pulled alongside, and I kid you not, rolled down the window to expose a car load of what appeared to be high school boys. “Hummer Dude!!!”, they yelled giving us the thumbs up. One car load of idiots encouraging what appeared (appeared?) to be another car load of idiots. They thought we were just “offroading” down the side walk, showing off in our Hummer. It was the perfect ending of our adventure.

    Since we knew the dealer would be closed by now, we decided at that point to go an extra mile or two and get it back to his lot when no one was there so that we could avoid the embarrassment of driving up the next day in a still-mud-dripping Hummer with no brakes. Oh, I didn’t tell you. This Hummer was WHITE… so every mud drip looked like chocolate syrup oozing down. We arrived without further incident and parked it for the night to await our fate at the coming dawn.

    To make a long story short, we went back the next day and told the dealer the truth about what happened. He found it pretty amusing and told us he would let us know what would happen next after his mechanics looked things over. Come to find out, someone who had serviced the Hummer had left a large cover off an air intake under the hood and mud had been sucked straight into the engine. Bye bye engine. Totally gone. They had to replace it but it was not our fault. The broken brake line was determined to just be something that “happened” while offroading, and we were told we could take the vehicle offroad, so we weren’t on the hook for that either. I have a feeling they did the math and figured they would make more money by selling us a new Hummer than they would be dinging us for repair bills.

    All in all, our only cost was the $20 at the car wash and the humiliation of getting stuck.

    We never took OUR new Hummer offroading. It was against official company policy.

    But we did keep a nice, long, heavy extension cord in the back in case we needed to pull someone else out of trouble.

    True? Not True? Partially True? What do you think? Leave a comment and let us know.

    The winner (whoever gets closest to the truth) will get their name and link listed on our blog along with instant worldwide fame, and your choice of one of my books, or a photo art gift (

    May 29, 2009

    Two Winners of Photo Gifts

    Remember the poster I did last week from this photo?

    Well, I got some sleep, and put a little more creative juice to it and wanted you to see the difference:

    Photo Caption Contests

    Last week we had two picture caption contests. And the winners are:

    Please Lord, not chicken from Walmart again!
    Submitted by Missy, Molly & Mattie

    You are getting very sleepy...Dream of your sister, your beautiful sister, who you are going to give all your toys and candy to....
    Submitted by Paul and Angela

    If the winners want their Photo Art Gift, email me ( I'll help you come up with a good idea for a good photo. It's a LOT of fun.

    Since we're on a roll, let's do another photo caption contest for a Photo Art Gift from Brent. For those who don't know, the photo art gift is just something special, fun or cool done with a photo (some samples here: Here's some more samples:

    I put my friend's children into this Star Wars poster, in the top middle, and the next character to the right. Using their photos, they got to be part of their favorite movie poster. Of course I cannot sell this type of stuff because it's all copyrighted, but it's fun to do as a personal gift.

    This is my nephew Robert. He is a great soccer player, and for his senior year, I took a photo of him playing, and made a professional poster for him.

    Abby wanted to be a pirate when she was in the hospital. So Dad made her into pirate. A fun, easy little photo gift.

    SpideyLandis hanging out with the original SpiderDude.

    A photo love gift, not so much "creative" as just a beautiful keepsake.

    So that's what I mean by a "photo art gift". The winner gets something like this. Here's a new photo caption contest. Submit your comments, and the winner will get a photo art gift from me.

    Open Season Friday - May 29, 2009

    Open Season Friday

    Open Season Friday's are when you ask us anything you want, and we post up several answers today and over the weekend. We try to answer as many as we can. If we missed your previous question, feel free to post it up again.

    Ask your question using the form below. Don't be bashful, ask anything you want... questions about:

    • our family, our life, adoption, cancer, parenting, marriage, marriage, family
    • blogging, photography, technology
    • marketing, personal finance
    • the Bible
    • what we do professionally...
    • ask for advice
    • WHATEVER.... hey, it's OPEN SEASON!!

    May 28, 2009

    Open Season Answers & Pics

    From Michelle:

    First, Blogger lost my adoption blogroll, I am working on it now.

    taylor asked:
    What are your kids favorite things to do? Also, have you ever thought about special needs adoption?

    Their favorite thing to do is play with Daddy. They are so loud when they are playing with him, but they are smiling from ear to ear and laughing until their sides hurt. I love watching the kids climb all over their daddy.

    They also love to play outside and swim. The more friends who are with them the better. They also enjoy listening to books on tape while they quietly play with toys or do crafts. The kids all (including the teenagers) play really well with each other and are very close. We are truly blessed.

    Have I ever thought about special needs adoption? YES, YES, YES! Their is a special needs orphanage in Ethiopia that I would love to adopt from. Will I ever get to do it? I hope so, but I don't know what the future.

    Abby and Sami talk ALL day, EVERY day about adopting again. Abby wants a baby brother more than she wants anything else. I asked her if she would rather go to Disney World (her Make a Wish trip) or adopt a baby boy, she picked a baby brother, hands down. She wants him to live in her room and sleep right next to her. She talks about feeding him, rocking him and kissing his little bald head. Some four year olds dream about having a baby, without really knowing what changes it would bring to them and their family. Abby has taken her "job" of being Landis's big sister very seriously from day one. The fact that he now out weighs her doesn't slow her down one bit.

    Sami wants to adopt a 9 year old girl from Ethiopia. She dreams about having another sister to play with. Sami know all to well how many older kids are waiting for a family of their own.

    I have no idea what God has in store for our family, but we are willing to do whatever God calls us to do. This post by Amy Block makes me want to adopt again right now.

    Merrill Preiss asked:
    Just wanted to let you know that my family and I will be volunteering with Mayan Families in Guatemala for 7 weeks this summer. We leave for Guatemala June 4. We plan to post updates and photos of our adventures.

    I love Panajachel, Guatemala. Thank you so much for spending your time helping the Mayan families. I would love to be there with you. I added your blog to our adoption blog role, so that I can follow your journey. Thank you so much for letting us know about your trip.

    Abby and Kadan are pals. Kadan is Travis Block's
    little brother. So if Travis marries Abby, then Kadan
    will be Abby's new brother! Sounds like a plan!

    Abby wants a new brother or sister.... BAD! She talks
    about it every single day.

    May 27, 2009

    Photo Art

    From Brent:

    Here is an example of photo art I like to create. My older brother, Kelly, asked me to do my thing with a rugby photo of his son, Scott, who is a Senior at Broken Arrow High School. Here is the original photo, and my treatment of it:

    Questions? Comments?

    More here:

    Open Season Answers From Brent & Pics

    Abby and Sami share a "Happy Family Day" cake that we have each
    year to honor when all three international rascals came to our home.

    Hmmm.... I wonder what Landis is up to... what is he thinking?
    Leave a comment with a suggested caption, and I'll do "my thing" on
    a winners photo of their choosing....
    ("my thing" is whatever cool or pretty thing
    you want me to do to your photo)

    Answers from Brent:

    Merrill Preiss asked:
    Just wanted to let you know that my family and I will be volunteering with Mayan Families in Panajachel Guatemala for 7 weeks this summer. We leave for Guatemala June 4. We plan to post updates and photos of our adventures.

    Can’t wait to see the pictures. It is a beautiful country, and the Mayans are beautiful, warm people.

    Anonymous asked:
    What is your favorite book to read (other than the Bible)?

    That’s hard to say, there are so many. I can give you my REQUIRED READING FOR EVERYONE list:

    SeriousFaith Volume One – Brent Riggs : )
    Foxes Book of Martyr’s
    I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be An Atheist - Turek
    Disciplines of a Godly Man - Hughes
    Follow Me – Hettinga
    Heaven – Randy Alcorn
    Changed Into His Image – Berg
    Living By the Book – Hendricks

    Here is a page where I list many more of my favorite books:

    Amy S. asked:
    What are your opinions on suicide? Do you think people who commit suicide go to heaven? What does the Bible have to say about it?

    I’ve talked about that in the past here:

    Jennifer W asked:
    I loved your post on lying. We also have strict rules about lying in our house. Our children have never been the he did it, she did it sort. At our house, its the not me ghost who does everything. What do you do when no one will fess up to whatever is going on? We have 5 kids, so this can be a recurring problem!

    That’s a tough one. Sometimes it’s obvious who is lying no matter how big of a show they put on. As parents, we are concerned that an “innocent” might be punished but if one child has a history of lying, it can still be a lesson:

    “You know, you might be telling the truth this time, but it appears you aren’t. If you would not have chosen to lie in the past, I would not have reason to doubt you now. So remember that lying can follow you LONG AFTER when it happens and still affect your reputation.”

    Sometimes you have one guilty child and they refuse to confess leaving the others to get in trouble too. That’s just something you have to be wise about and try to figure out over time. Some kids have no problem letting their siblings get punished TOO, while they keep their mouth shut. You usually figure out “which one” over time. It’s not easy… you just have to be as fair as you can, don’t bend to manipulation and trust your “gut” about who is guilty. Kids can sense true “unfairness” and are forgiving about honest mistakes in judgment when we are just doing our best. The truth always leaks out eventually over time.

    Martha asked:
    If you were leading a small child to the Lord (4-6 years old), what would you say? How much does the child need to understand at this age? Thank you. I love Open Season Friday!

    I answer this question at here:

    Joni In MN asked:
    Have you gotten tired of answering all these questions? I’m thinking of doing this myself.

    Absolutely not tired of it. Never will be. Have been answering questions for years. It is not for the faint hearted though. You take a lot of criticism and disagreement. You have to be willing to put it the hard work of never ending learning, and develop a way to communicate it effectively. I would not do it on any of my sites myself except that it is my clear gift and calling as a Christian, so I can no more QUIT doing it than I can quit breathing.

    Marie asked:
    This just might be the most pointless question ever asked...but what does the *G* stand for in G. Brent Riggs? I’m going to guess...Garry. You look like a Garry. Am I right???

    Close. Gary. Or Goober.

    Kelli Bosarge asked:
    Can you give instructions to a clueless newbie on how to put Mr. Linky on a blog post? I recently started a blog carnival and hope to eventually have enough participants to use Mr. Linky! Thanks!

    To be honest, I don’t use Mr. Linky, and have never really liked the implementation. He is currently having a long term problems with delivery of his functions. I’m glad I made the decision to create my own. The best I can answer you, is to tell you to check out his instructions.

    Niels Nielsen asked:
    Does the bible have all the answers for everything? Is the bible written by God, or is it written by Humans? Is the bible true, both the old and the new testament? Is the bible open for interpretation? I get these questions a lot when I tell people I am a Christian. I dont know what to answer them. Please help me...

    I answer this question at

    Pray for Me... Pray for Others... May 27, 2009

    Pray for Me... Pray for Others

    Brent: Facebook - Twitter . . . . . . . . . . . Michelle: Facebook - Twitter

    Landis prays so sweetly for everyone in our entire family.

    Our Requests:

    God has truly blessed us this last week. Abby's blood counts were better and all of our children were able to many fun activities. We are very thankful Abby was well enough to attend parties, go to church and see the Lion King. Abby has spent almost a year dealing with doctors, pain and side effects from the chemo. This week was a wonderful break for Abby.

    Please pray Abby's doctors find the right chemo dose for Abby. They are increasing her chemo this week. As the higher doses of chemo begin to weaken her immune system, please also pray that Abby is protected from infections.

    When Abby was the sickest our focus was on caring for Abby's needs and our other children. I know there will still be times when Abby will need a lot of care, but my hope and prayer is that there will be many moments of time when God can use us to help others.

    Pray for these folks:

    Please pray for McKayla She is a leukemia survivor who finished Chemo 3 years ago. Doctors found a mass on her kidney and are very concerned. They are running tests tomorrow. Her mom hasn't blogged about it yet, but I know she would appreciate you thoughts, prayers and encouraging words. Please pray for McKayla and her family.

    Ethiopia is taking steps to make sure that children who are listed as abandoned, really have been. There are millions of orphans in Ethiopia. I am thankful their government is being careful, but I also know there are many children who are starving and alone. Please pray that the children who need parents will be home with their new parents soon, so that there will be room in the orphanages for more children who are living on the streets. Until you walk down those streets in Africa, you can't even imagine where those children are living and how scared they are.

    I have many friends waiting for their adoptions to be approved. Please pray for the children who are waiting in orphanages, for the families who want to adopt them and for wisdom for their Government.

    A friend of mine is in Uganda trying to obtain passports for 3 children whom she has already legally adopted. Melissa began trying to adopt these children BEFORE we began our adoption of Sami. Please pray they will be granted the passports, so they can bring their children home. You can follow Melissa's story at

    Pray for Me... Pray for Others is where we all get to pray for each other. It is obvious, and we don't pretend otherwise, that we cannot give full attention to every request and comment we receive. This feature on Wednesdays is a time we ask YOU for help praying for others, as they pray for you. Check back a couple of times today for new requests.

    Pray for Me... Pray for Others - Instructions:

    1. Use the form below to enter your prayer requests. You must enter an "identity", and put something in at least one of the "pray for me" or "pray for others" in order to be included (links to blogs are not required).
    2. If you link to YOUR blog, please include the following HTML in a post on your blog so that we can create a linked network of prayers (your link will allow others to find us, and be able to participate; make sure you are in HTML mode when pasting this code).

    3. Put out an email or post on your blog and encourage everyone you know to come and join us in prayer.
    4. Look over the list and pray as God leads. Come back and visit the list two or three times today as it will grow all day long.

    Remember... if you don't take the time to pray for others, then on what basis can you really expect God to lead others to pray for you? I created this with "community" in mind - pray for you, pray for me, pray for others - so that we are both giving and receiving as a community which is far more spiritually productive than simply wanting everyone to pray on our behalf.

    Truth is, many people do not have a community they can ask for prayer. We hope to become that community for them.

    Let me know if you have suggestions or questions about Pray for Me... Pray for Others. If this is a blessing to you, please leave a comment and let us all know.

    May 26, 2009

    Open Season Answers From Brent & Pics

    SpideyLandis goes in for a stolen web kiss...

    ... but bails out when it's time to pay up with Kya Blu.

    Abby hunting Easter eggs. Isn't God's creation beautiful?
    The spring colors here are full of life... just simple colors that speak volumes.

    Landis shows his enthusiasm for his discovery.

    Open Season Answers from Brent:

    Kathy asked:
    Is it O.K. for a church to turn a library into a book store and have it open on Sunday mornings to sell books, t-shirts, tickets to Christians concerts....? I don’t know if this applies to Jesus turning over the tables because of it being a market place or not. The elders of this church say it is not the same thing. They justify it: that the money made goes toward mission efforts, etc... But didn’t the people selling animals for sacrifice have the same excuse... that is was for church?

    I answer that at here:

    charlie asked:
    Will the Cubs finally win the World Series this year?

    If they all take steroids and the other teams use replacements… maybe. :) asked:
    Why have I not seen my question on here, How do you choose which to answer? You say your question is next, but that has not been so.

    Not sure. I know the “submit a question” works because we get plenty submitted. If you have trouble with the form, just email your question to me:

    Stacey asked:
    Brent, Any news yet on a riding lawn mower? How much money has been donated so far?

    Besides a gift from my father-in-law, we had about $400 donated. We went ahead and made the decision to personally invest the rest of the cost, and here is a picture of the first lawn mowed for our elderly neighbors:

    The first lawn mowed with the new mower, about a 3/4 acre lawn.
    What a blessing to help others. Our neighbor Dorothy, is eighty-something,
    and still cares for other children as well as her even older husband
    who appears to have Alzheimers and is very difficult to care for.
    She is in all practicality a widow even now as far as needing help goes.
    The mower was $2500. We raised about $900 of it, and invested the rest
    ourselves knowing that it is treasure laid up in heaven.
    If you would like to help:

    Nicole asked:
    By not treating diabetes or cancer, a parent is allowing their child to die from a treatable condition. How can we stand for the rights of the unborn and not take action against parents who allow their children to die AFTER they are born? Why should a parent ever get to decide if their child with a viable life should live or die? (I phrase the last question out of respect for the Freemans, as I do believe their child was already gone.)

    This question refers to a previous answer I gave here: (4th answer)

    There is no perfect world. We cannot cover all variables and situations, so we have to consider the bigger principles. We don’t have 50 million children, entire generations, dying from parents withholding medical care. Even if there were more cases, it has to be weighed with the loss of productive social freedom and increased government control that comes with allowing bureaucrats to decide what is best for our children, which of course they already do in mass through the government school system and welfare.

    There is a huge difference between parents deciding the welfare of their own children, even if decisions are made that we disagree with versus wholesale government approval and in fact, financial incentives for the slaughter of millions of unborn babies.

    In the case of abortion, the FREEDOM to have sex has already been exercised. It is the RESPONSIBILITY that is being criminally avoided by killing the unborn child. In the case of withholding medical treatment due to religious beliefs, it may be a tragic false belief, but it is not avoiding responsibility, it’s actually taking it, at the cost of being demonized (however foolish that belief may be).

    I’m amazed that we sit by as a country and promote the murder of generations of unborn children (a WOMAN’s RIGHT), but excoriate a religious family who decides not to give medical treatment to one child (where’s the PARENTS RIGHT to choose?).

    Is there a perfect answer to this question? No. But giving the government control of one decision over our children leads to a never ending slide into allowing the government full control over them. I realize that "criminal negligence" could be argued in a case of denying medical care based on religious beliefs. But then we have to weigh a few tragic cases of misplace religious beliefs with the removal of religious freedom completely step by step which is already occurring in the name of "tolerance", "political correctness" and "hate speech".

    Open Season Answers From Last Week's Questions & Sami Soccer Pictures

    From Michelle:

    Here are some recent pics of Sami playing soccer.

    Open Season Answers from Brent:

    Here are the answers from the rest of last weeks Open Season. I got behind answering them as I was finishing my office project.

    Star asked:
    Hi, I attend a church that believes that going to the doctor is a lack of faith, and that if we are sick or injured we should ask God to heal us. Recently a young woman from our church died of a unknown illness. I am having a hard time with this. Do you think it is really Gods will for us to just sit back and wait to be healed? Or does he provide us doctors for a reason? I am just confused about the whole thing.

    I answer that at here: asked:
    I need to know how to witness to a Muslim.

    I answer that at here:

    Natalie asked:
    I had someone mention that they believe that those who have things right with God have easy deaths, while those who don’t are more likely to suffer. Do you believe there is any truth to that?

    No. There is no Biblical support for that. Spiritually and emotionally speaking, obviously, true Believers are going to die more peacefully because of their hope and confidence in God and eternity in Heaven. Believers are subject physically to die just as painful deaths as anyone through sickness, persecution or neglect. That is part of living in a SIN CURSED creation. There is no hint in Scripture that a Christian is automatically granted an “easy death”. asked: do you do a black and white pic and then have something in the pic that is colored? Does that make sense? Thanks so much for any help.

    You start with a color picture, and remove the color from the areas you don’t want it. You cannot ADD color to a black and white (technically it’s a “grayscale” picture) if you don’t have the original color (not realistic color anyway). I will do a demo on it soon.

    Sarah asked:
    Brent - How did you get so lucky to be with Michelle? Michelle - Why in the world did you pick Brent? LOL!! Cmon Brent! Laugh!!

    Not lucky, blessed. GRACE – I got what I did not deserve. She is a fantastic, wonderful, caring, loyal friend to me. I could not have a better wife. I am truly and magnificently in love with her. She picked me because… because… because I like jello. That’s the only thing that comes to mind.
    becky asked:
    Has anyone ever told you look like Matt from Clean House?

    Nope. I’ve had plenty of people think I look like Doug from King of Queens, not sure which part of my body they are talking about. When I was young, I looked like Luke Skywalker in the first Star Wars. Others have compared me to an English bulldog.

    Stacy asked:
    I read your book *Terrorist to Evangelist* and really enjoyed it. My question is when are you going to write a book to continue the story? I want to know what happens after his conversion. How long does he stay in prison, how to others react, what becomes of his family?
    I’ve already begun to write the 2nd installment of the trilogy.

    sara asked:
    What church do you attend? Do you believe in soul winning to unbelievers through door to door evangelism? What are your beliefs about modesty (girls in pants, boys in short shorts...) Love your blog and hope abbey gets better soon!

    I believe we live our lives as living sacrifices and perpetual examples of Christianity. I believe we say “yes” to every opportunity God clearly leads us into to share the Gospel. I believe the correctly Biblical approach to witnessing is: The Law convicts, Jesus saves. See the question above for a better explanation of that.

    I wrote a series on modesty for families on which I shamelessly think every Christian, every parent and every family should study and learn:

    Brent Riggs asked:
    What’s the funniest saying or phrase you’ve ever heard?

    My grandpa used to say “that makes my butt wanna suck a lemon!” I’m not sure exactly what it means, but I know it meant it was BAD.

    - - - - - - -
    If you have a new question, go to the last post below, and use the most recent Open Season form to submit one.

    Laughter Lives Tuesday & Win A Photo Gift From Brent

    Abby, ever the drama queen, loves to play dress up with her friends.

    Sami is such a classic beauty. I know everyone gets sick of me
    talking about how pretty she is, but I find it remarkable how perfect
    her features are... and she's only 15, 12, 10. Boy, am I going to have my
    hands full with her in a few years.

    Okay, I'm 44 now, and embarrassed to put up pictures of my 12 chins.
    Well say goodbye... I know if I don't get back in shape now, then the next
    40 years are going to be health problem after health problem. So will you do
    me a favor? Harrass me, pester me, goad me, pressure me, hound me about
    losing weight and I mean a LOT of weight! I've let the desk job, stress and a bit
    of undiscipline in this area get the best of me in the last 10 years.
    I'll keep you posted and you have my permission, in fact I'm begging you,
    to really put the screws to me if I don't show continual progress.
    Don't go easy... make it hurt.
    Remarkably, all my blood work and health is quite excellent. I'm very strong,
    can do hard work for hours and hours on end. I'm still athletic and active.
    Just need to lose weight... NOW!

    Oh Henry.... Carol & Scott Bauman's son is the most precious thing!
    All their kids are ultra-photogenic.

    Laughter LivesLaugher Lives Tuesday is a day when we all get to look forward to a good laugh. No rules, no stress, just OPEN SEASON FUNNY!

    Your post can be about whatever you want, just make it funny so we can all have a good laugh. I could use a good laugh. How about you?

    Pics, videos, jokes, stories... stuff about you or your own family... stuff off the Internet... WHATEVER.

    Our Laughter Lives

    From Brent:

    Abby was up to NO GOOD in this picture. Leave a comment with a caption for the picture. I'll choose the one we like best. The winner will get to send Brent a photo of their choice, and Brent will do "his thing" with it, bringing it to life, making it "come out" of the photo, like this here:

    If you submit the winning caption, I'll do something really fun, really cool, really neat or really special (your choice; I'll help you with some ideas) to one of your photos, and send it to you to put on your blog or to print. Leave a comment with your caption for the picture above if you want a chance to win the photo gift....

    Okay, now it's YOUR turn.

    Here's how you get your link on our blog for "Laughter Lives Tuesday!":

    • Go to your blog, create a new post for "Laugher Lives Tuesday!". Start by copying and pasting all the following HTML code at the beginning your post. (NOTE: Make sure you are in HTML mode or view when you paste in HTML code!):

    • Then, use the form down at the bottom of this post to enter the title of your BLOG (not your post, your blog), and the link to your blog, or the blog post, either one. (if you don't have a blog, feel free to leave a comment, but we would prefer you put up a post if you have a blog.)
    That's it! You'll be linked in today's entries and we'll have a fun and inspiring list of "Laughter Lives" posts for everyone to read!

    Can't wait to read your blog posts for "Laughter Lives Tuesday!"

    May 22, 2009

    Open Season Friday - May 22, 2009

    Open Season Friday

    Open Season Friday's are when you ask us anything you want, and we post up several answers today and over the weekend. We try to answer as many as we can. If we missed your previous question, feel free to post it up again.

    Ask your question using the form below. Don't be bashful, ask anything you want... questions about:

    • our family, our life, adoption, cancer, parenting, marriage, marriage, family
    • blogging, photography, technology
    • marketing, personal finance
    • the Bible
    • what we do professionally...
    • ask for advice
    • WHATEVER.... hey, it's OPEN SEASON!!

    May 21, 2009

    Open Season Answers From Brent & Pics

    Answers from Brent:

    Amber asked:
    Wow Brent! You have some tough questions to answer! How will you answer them?

    Depends on who you ask. Some will say I’ll answer them with confidence, experience and honesty. Others will say I answer with arrogant, judgmental pontification. The reader gets to decide.

    anonymous asked:
    What do you recommend for the wife of a man called by God to be a preacher who feels like she is not ready to be a preachers wife? I was not raised Christian, and was new in my walk when I was thrown into a new church, and left little opportunity to learn. I was just getting involved and LOVED going to church, and for the past 3 years, since we moved, all I have done is be in the nursery w/ my own children. I teach some, but I long to be taught and worship in church again.

    I answer that on here:

    Jenn N asked:
    Recently there has been a lot of talk about the world coming to an end in 2012 due to various different events. My understanding is that we will never know when Jesus is to return, and sadly this is not one of the causes being reported. I also dont believe He would let the world come to an end in the ways being forcast; however, I, as well as others., dont know His full plan. What are your thoughts on these reports?

    I answered a similar question a short time ago on

    Smiley asked:
    What do you think of the Minnesota judge ruling in this case and not allowing the parents to stop giving their son *modern medicine* to treat his lymphoma? Link to story is here:

    I think parents should have sole and sovereign right over their children up to the point of inflicting REAL physical or mental criminal abuse. If parents want to hold religious beliefs that cause them to deny their children medical care, so be it.

    Why? Because once you allow someone else to decide what is proper for YOUR kids, and what isn’t, you get what we have: the government deciding if you can spank, the government forcing you give kids psychotropic drugs (such as Ritalin), other people deciding about your child’s physical and “mental” health… all in the name of “protecting the children”.

    Of course it is truly sad when a parent’s misguided ideas cause a child to suffer, die or be deprived of something they should probably have or experience. It’s sad. It’s a fact of human existence. Again, I’m not talking about criminal abuse (beatings, torture, starving, sexual abuse, etc) but Americans FAR TOO EASILY give up their rights and freedoms under the guise of protecting the EXCEPTION from the EXCEPTION to the rules.

    Once you allow the government or some other group to tell you “you must give certain medication regardless of your beliefs” then you have to accept when they tell you “for your child’s welfare” what other medicines, education, mental health and brainwashing you must subject them. Parents are either sovereign or they are not. The “in between” leaves NO BOUNDARIES that cannot be crossed by manipulating public ignorance.

    The world is not perfect. We cannot protect every person from every other person in every circumstance, even children. And even if we could, the price in freedom and parental sovereignty is FAR TOO HIGH.

    - - - - - - - - - -
    Some Pics

    Abby and Kadan

    I just like putting up pics of Sami because she is so beautiful.

    Abby and Travis Block... she played coy the whole time he was here.

    Hmm... Travis brought his OTHER girlfriend... what shall I do with her?

    SpideyLandis getting some more super nutrition for web slinging.

    From yesterday's "what is it?" picture:
    J.T. was NOT supposed to get wet. After getting permission from his Dad,
    I walked over and encouraged him unexpectedly from behind to go ahead
    and jump in. This was him trying to get his t-shirt off after getting out.