Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Life lesson from a ranch boy

It was the perfect spring day.

I was on horseback under a glorious blue sky, helping our neighbors push cows from winter to summer pasture.

For the first hour or so we rode alone, fanned out across the extensive pasture. I was in charge of rounding up the mamas and babies on the plain above the creek bottom. CJ was kind enough to obey my cues even though he knew much more about herding cattle than I. We made a good team. In general, mama cows thought it wasn't time to leave winter pasture. Babies stared at us as if to say, "Are we supposed to listen to you?".

A few minutes of fun riding and hat waving managed to convince them that they were indeed moving. We settled into an easy walk behind the bellowing multitude.

The sky was cloudless. The high desert air, cool and invigorating. No wind. 70 degrees. Bright green leaves on the cotton woods. New Mexico springtime at its best.

I talked with God as I rode along. What a day to be alive! But the best was yet to come.

Our little group of riders converged at the farther end of the field, bringing our charges. The cattle were counted as they ran through the gate, then we turned our horses homeward.

I rode beside one of the neighbor boys on the way home. He's one of my little buddies. A ranch kid through and through (the kind you think only exists in books anymore). We talked about the things that interest ranch kids. How he fell off CJ last time he rode him. The time the bonfire he was in charge of got a little out of control (he stomped it out himself without any help!). The new cowboy boots he was wearing. Our horses continued across the field, sometimes walking, sometimes trotting, sometimes cantering-- always side by side.

I asked, "Ty, what do you want to be when you grow up? Do you want to be a rancher like your daddy?" "I would like that", he replied. "I also like carpentry work." (His hero daddy is a carpenter too).

Then he spoke words that moved me to the core.

"But what I really want to be is a missionary to those people we're fighting".

I named the people groups in question.

"Yes, them. The ones who try to kill Christians. I want to tell them about Jesus."

I looked with new fascination at my little friend.

"And if they kill me, it doesn't matter 'cause I'm going to heaven anyways."

He said it with such abandon. I was thunderstruck. This 8-year-old boy had figured out what I am just beginning really to grasp at 25. That to live is truly Christ and to die is only gain.

"Oh Ty, I'm so glad to hear you say that. I want to do that too".

Yes, I want to do that too. Lay my life on heaven's altar, and run into the darkest places in the earth to see the triumph of God's glory. Learn the lesson of utter self abandonment. Serve Him by living or dying- if only He can use me to bring glory to His name, and light and life to those who haven't seen Him yet.

My friend inspired me. He didn't have to think twice about the ultimate sacrifice. It is what he wants to do for Jesus… and he knows the reward far outweighs the sacrifice.

We arrived home and put our horses away. The cows were happy in their new pasture. I went home to ponder our conversation for the rest of the day.

The call to my heart was to pour out my life for Jesus today, in real, tangible ways. To live with Him ever in mind-- ever in view. Absolute abandonment of my self is harder to do right where I am than the thought of abandoning my life for the sake of the gospel someday. But it comes first.

Lord Jesus, let me live, and die for You today. Because I love you more than life, and I love the souls you came to save. And if I am called someday to lay down my life in pursuit of the souls that are yet in darkness, I'll do it gladly. You are worthy.

Maybe I'll run into my little ranch friend across the wide ocean in years to come among the people we want to share our precious Jesus with. But if I don't I know we can compare notes in heaven, because that's where we're going anyway.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

We love New England...

We love the landscape saturated with history.
We love the regal old houses, and the monuments to yesterday's heros.
We love the smell of old books, white churches in the woods, cobbled streets, brick buildings...
Marble. Sandstone. Granite. Gravestones polished smooth by 200 winters.
Waves on gravel beaches. The salt-smell of the sea. The cool breeze even in late spring.

But all that could go, and we would still love New England.
Because God is there... And because multitudes of human hearts beat there.

I'll never forget looking out a 16th story Hyatt window, praying for New England. 

And I'll never forget the way God filled us as we sought to make His name great in the Northeast.
We have ten-thousand reasons to thank You, Father...

...lots more photos from our trip here.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Feet of our Fathers

North Bridge, Concord Massachusetts
Two hundred thirty plus years ago intrepid feet held this ground; crossed this bridge.
Feet that burned for freedom. 
Their footwear didn’t match. Their uniforms didn’t either. 
But they were driven by an adamant stronger than death. 
They were ordinary men, but they were men of passion. 
Men of conviction.
And so across this bridge was fired “the shot heard round the world.” And the blood spilled on the road was the first signature of a new republic... 
Two hundred thirty-six years later, our feet are here. 
Same bridge.
Monuments stand where the blood once stained the road. 
I peer into the muddy creek and wonder how much mud covers the musket shot. 
And I wonder if our hearts are made out of the same stuff.

I wonder if our feet burn with the same eagerness; willingness; discipline.

I wonder if the offering of our lives poured out is the signature of the place God’s children call Home...

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Limited Connectivity

The ultimate frustration.

I sit in a puffy hotel chair, a computer in front of me. Now, at last, since it’s just Joshua and I here in this hotel room for the evening (and he’s buried in school), I’m going to take care of my out-of-control inbox. Take care of all the correspondence waiting for me.

I sign in.

Yep, there are a bunch of new emails waiting for me, not to mention the plenty already there. Friendly messages from childhood friends, a bunch of ministry correspondence, several business emails waiting to be composed… Oh, and that other email that has been waiting since December, since the answer has been evolving over the months.

I picture an empty inbox.

Everyone waiting on an answer from me satisfied. Oooo…. That would be wonderful. I’m going to take care of this, once and for all.

Wait, what’s this? 

Suddenly a little yellow strip appears at the top of my screen. “Unable to reach Gmail. Please check your Internet connection.” No. Not this, please. I check my Internet connection. “Signal strength: Excellent.” Good sign. Maybe. So why won’t this work? It was a moment ago…

Joshua is the one hard wired into the Internet right now, using Chantee’s laptop. He’s broadcasting the Internet to me. And I tell you, it was working a moment ago, very nicely. So what’s wrong? Joshua’s Internet is still working just fine. Neither of us have changed anything as far as we are aware. But now it isn’t working at all. Out goes the visions of a productive evening of conquering my renegade inbox and having it empty.

I try all the stunts. Joshua likewise tries all sorts of trouble shooting. Nothing works. The signal strength still claims to be excellent. But… it adds this: 

“This computer currently has limited connectivity to Chantee’s broadcast.” 

Limited connectivity… is that my problem? Okay, I give up. Forget the world wide web for tonight. I minimize my frozen inbox. Somewhere in the back of my mind something whispers that there is something to learn from this.

I don’t know about you, but I want to get something done in my spiritual walk. Don’t you want to accomplish, overcome, triumph, live… life more abundantly? Don’t you have visions of being a hero of the cross, of rescuing the perishing, the hungry, the abused, the suffering? Don’t you long to accomplish great things for the kingdom of heaven? 

I sure do.

What’s going wrong? One peek into the Word of God assures us that the signal strength coming from the Master of heaven - our source of power and only access to the universe wide network of servants of the Almighty God - is excellent. Good sign. Why then are we languishing, and our spiritual life frozen? I picture a sorrowful angel writing down in heaven’s record books: “This child of God currently has limited connectivity to God’s power.” Oh, if we want to get anywhere for the kingdom of heaven and its glorious King, this limited connectivity thing has to go! I review this past day, and see where there was limited connectivity in my experience. This computer has reminded me of the impotence, the uselessness, the weakness, the frustration, of such a position. I’m re-inspired to go after the kingdom of heaven and all its trophies with violence. I’m headed back to my knees. There is where power can be found...

See, isn’t God creative? He used a confusing computer, a delinquent Internet connection, and a frozen inbox to send me running after Him again. Come along with me, my friends. Let’s be done with this limited connectivity thing. It’s the ultimate frustration.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Dog [my dog] vs. US Air Force - (a lesson in spiritual gusto)

Lockheed C-130  |  US Air Force Photo

So there I was, working under a deep blue sky... This time ripping rough timbers into slats for the top of our giant arbor. The day was absolutely glorious, and my world was unnaturally peaceful thanks to my clunky orange ear protectors.

Our heroic dog, (the subject of this story) was across the lawn lying in the shade of a tree, and watching for gopher action out of the corner of his eye.
Then all at once, we heard a rumble...

Nothing out of the ordinary. Just our "friends" from the airbase down south doing their routine supply drop practice over our house and down our canyon in their C 130. (Every once in a while we change the pilot's name. First he was "Adam," then "Bill," then "Clarence," then "Duke"...)

I kept working.

Then all at once I caught sight of Admiral in my peripheral vision. From his spot under the tree he seemed to be sizing up the massive bird, but his consideration only lasted for a split second. 

The next second, he was light on his feet, chasing the roaring machine one or two hundred feet overhead with the same gusto that he applies to the pursuit of the local ravens and rabbits.

Silly dog.

For a moment the circular saw paused in my hands, as I watched a 65 pound golden retriever chasing 75,000 pounds of aircraft aluminum with no apparent concept of the difference in size. (or elevation)

I shook my head and laughed as he passed me, calling out something about being “silly” as he went. He didn't mind. He just flew by as if he too had wings.

C-130  |  USAF
Then just as I was turning back to my work, I was gripped.
I suddenly whirled back around to see the last of him disappearing amongst the trees and fairly yelled after him--

"YEAH! That's the spirit!!"

Too many Christians shrink into the corner at the mere sound of the approaching enemy. And if they do finally conjure up the audacity to take God at His word and pursue His glory, their stride breaks the moment a motionless spectator calls them “silly.”  
I know. It’s happened to me. 
Ahh friends, where is our gusto?
God never said that our little 65 pounds would bring down the kingdom of darkness. But He has said that he is pleased when “the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.”

Let Him worry about the enemy’s size.
Let us worry about our attitudes.

 C-130  |  US Air Force photo

Monday, May 9, 2011

Counting Our Blessings...

22 years ago an adventure began as our Joshua emerged into the world. He was the first (and last) Nebblett baby who would smile at everyone. No one was a stranger. 
God has taken that friendly baby and turned him into a man. A soldier. A rescuer. A friend. 
Walking along side you in the journey has been sweet Joshie. I’ve learned so much from you, as I’ve watched Him shape and mold your life. Through the sunshine and the crucible alike, He has made you what you are today. I am thankful. I’m so glad to call you my brother, my hero, and my friend.


Another journey began more than 26 years ago when someone very precious to us discovered for the first time that she was a mother. Through the years we have watched that special someone (who we are privileged to call “Mother”) pour out her life on our behalf. She held our hand and taught us how to be polite in new situations. She stayed up with us when we were sick. She was our patient teacher during those (sometimes) trying homeschool days. She made the boundaries clear. She taught us what it meant to love Jesus with all our hearts. She was (is) our greatest source of encouragement and inspiration every day... And the list could go on forever.
My little sister asked Mother a few weeks ago, “What is it like to have four young adults in your home instead of four children?” The smile on her face as she answered warmed our hearts. “I love it!” 
We love it too, Momma. We love you.

And 12 years ago, a red safari mini van filled with a brave woman and four adventure-loving urchins drove into this place we now call “Sweetwater”... home to stay. Our daddy followed a couple of months later (as soon as work would allow). 

The Lord watched over us and taught us so many lessons as we carved out a life in an untamed land. Dry wells and overflowing hearts, garden-destroying hail storms and  beautiful moments with God and family in the stillness... through it all He taught us to trust and persevere. We know He led us here, and we are so grateful. 12 years pass quickly when you have experienced such joy and peace, even amidst difficulty. 

And though His call often takes us far away, and though our hearts long for our heavenly home more and more, there is a little corner of this earth that we hold very dear. 

Thanks, Lord Jesus, for bringing us to this place. Thanks for our home away from home.

...and now.

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Making Of... the next CD

The story of Jesus...
The story of His birth, and life, and death, is a theme upon which we love to dwell. And always when we do, we find ourselves shaking our heads at the enormity of His benevolence, and the sufficiency of His sacrifice. And when in wonder we look at each other and try to answer the age-old question, "How could He...?" The answer is always the same...

"I cannot tell."

Rough mix 1.0 rolled out a month ago, and I promised a clip or two...
So if you can hear past half-edited audio and and the list of little things we've got marked down to fix... ;)
Here it is.

The Making of "I Cannot Tell" from Nebblett Family on Vimeo.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

ASI Atlantic Union

Join us in praying for the outpouring of the Spirit on the ASI Atlantic Union Regional Convention upcoming in Boston. We're excited about what we know by faith the Lord will do as His servants come together to seek Him.

"Lightened With His Glory..." What a theme! And what a promise...

If you're in the area on Sabbath, May 14 we would love to see you there!

click here for more info.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

In Retrospect: Walla Walla

The God we serve makes us rich... 
Not in earthly goods perhaps 
but in things so much more valuable.


How can we articulate to You, beloved Master,
what it means to us when You pour Yourself out in such
measure that the faces of your children glow
with the light of heaven?

How can we express the joy, the all-consuming,
overflowing sea of exhilaration we
find in serving you?

How can we say enough "thank you"s for filling

 us faster than we can empty ourselves?

We can't.

And words wouldn't do it anyway.
But we can live for you...
And by Your grace,
we will. 

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