Just rolled in from Central Illinois and a wonderful time at Mason City Christian Church visiting our dear friends, Pastor Joe and Cheryl Briseno and their 3 girls, not to mention +/- 300 new friends in their congregation!

What a wonderful time of fun, food and fellowship!

On Sat. MCC hosted a Ladies Luncheon for their church and community women. We ate and laughed our way through a table overflowing with every salad you can imagine, but things quieted down as I shared the Truth of God’s word and how He gives us Beauty for Ashes. Life after the fall is not at all what God intended for us–He truly is the Lover of our soul, but instead we walk around looking for love in all the wrong places believing the lie of the enemy instead of the Truth of Scripture. The ladies were attentive and interested in the message and I know from shed tears and whispered words, that Jesus changed lives on Saturday.

Kary was able to travel with me and we had a chance to visit with the leadership of this growing church that has a regional vision for impacting Central Illinois on Saturday evening. Kary and I have been involved with prayer ministry and strategic prayer for our community for 12 years and we have seen changes in our community that we know are because of the prayers of the Saints. Joe and Cheryl asked us to share some of the insight we’ve gained on prayer mapping a city and strategic prayer. It was a great time of fellowship and questions and answers as Kary and I shared our passion for prayer and they caught the vision of, as Joe says, “pre-acting, instead of reacting” as they pray to transform their city.

Let me tell you, MCC is a great church–we worshiped there on Sunday morning and through our 4 days there, we met so many warm and friendly people who are excited about their faith in Christ and what they can do to share that faith with others. They have not one, but two praise bands with stellar musicianship, but even better, worship teams with a heart and passion to enter into the presence of God and take the congregation with them. And of course, as always, Pastor Joe’s most excellent preaching. It is a great package and I am believing God is doing a great work in and through that church body. The excitement at MCC is palpable as they build not only their congregation, but a new building at the gateway of Mason City. A building that has been planned not just as an edifice that glorifies God, but designed with serving the region in mind. If you pass thru Central Illinois, or if you live there, stop by Mason City Christian Church. They’ve got it going on!

It was also heart energizing just to have time to catch up with Joe and Cheryl and the girls. Our hearts were knit together with the Briseno’s when they pastored here in St. Francis, KS and God has continued to deepen our friendship across the miles. Kary and Joe share a passion for football, so I think Super Bowl Weekend was divinely inspired for our visit! It was great for these two spiritual brothers to laugh and bond over great food and an exciting game although we were hoping to see Kurt Warner pull out another stellar victory.

Cheryl and I shared many cups of tea, belly laughs and tears during my visit. She always challenges me with deep questions that go to the heart of “where the rubber meets the road” faith. Cheryl is my web-guru extraordinaire, so we are talking of updating my website and getting the new books and products on the site! Yea! That will make it easier to access the Ashes to Beauty books instead of emailing an order! That should be coming in the near future.

That’s all for now–It is late and I’ll be back to the real world of work tomorrow, but for now, in the words of a famous Kansan….”There’s no place like home!”