About Denise Krebs

I'm the chief learner in life's adventure.

Inadequacy and Other Thoughts

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Recently I was reading Luke 9 and I noticed a distinct contrast between what the disciples said and did in the first half of the chapter and in the second. In the beginning of Luke 9:

  • The twelve disciples were sent out by Jesus, successfully “bringing the good news and curing diseases everywhere.”
  • They witnessed the feeding of the five thousand.
  • Peter declared Jesus was the Messiah of God.
  • Several witnessed Jesus’ transfiguration on the mountain.

But, interestingly, after all that, the Luke 9 account takes a turn. Here is Luke 9:37-50:

37 The next day, after they had come down the mountain, a large crowd met Jesus. 38 A man in the crowd called out to him, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, my only child. 39 An evil spirit keeps seizing him, making him scream. It throws him into convulsions so that he foams at the mouth. It batters him and hardly ever leaves him alone. 40 I begged your disciples to cast out the spirit, but they couldn’t do it.” 41 Jesus said, “You faithless and corrupt people! How long must I be with you and put up with you?” Then he said to the man, “Bring your son here.” 42 As the boy came forward, the demon knocked him to the ground and threw him into a violent convulsion. But Jesus rebuked the evil[h] spirit and healed the boy. Then he gave him back to his father. 43 Awe gripped the people as they saw this majestic display of God’s power.

While everyone was marveling at everything he was doing, Jesus said to his disciples, 44 “Listen to me and remember what I say. The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of his enemies.”45 But they didn’t know what he meant. Its significance was hidden from them, so they couldn’t understand it, and they were afraid to ask him about it.

46 Then his disciples began arguing about which of them was the greatest. 47 But Jesus knew their thoughts, so he brought a little child to his side. 48 Then he said to them, “Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me also welcomes my Father who sent me. Whoever is the least among you is the greatest.” 49 John said to Jesus, “Master, we saw someone using your name to cast out demons, but we told him to stop because he isn’t in our group.” 50 But Jesus said, “Don’t stop him! Anyone who is not against you is for you.”

Mr. Christopher spoke at the English Language Congregation (ELC) recently and said when God calls you, his will will take you into situations unexpected, inadequate, and incomprehensible.

Keith and I looked at each other often during the sermon.

Yes, God’s will has put us in such situations. Unexpected, definitely. We were not looking to move or change our situation. Then God asked us to move across the world to Bahrain. Unexpected? Yes.

When Mr. Christopher got to inadequate, it really resonated. In my life I tend to be a proud person who likes to be adequate and effective. God has shown me, like the disciples, that there are many things that I cannot do except through his power at work in me.

First, look at the disciples in just this one short passage. Were they inadequate for what God was requiring of them? Definitely! In just this passage alone:

  • they couldn’t do it
  • they didn’t know
  • they couldn’t understand
  • they were afraid to ask
  • they strived to be put on a pedestal as the “greatest”
  • they disallowed other disciples’ good work

The disciples were inadequate, rough hewn, unexpected choices. Jesus called them to follow him, though. He’s done the same to inadequate me.

  • I had never been out of North America when I was called to leave everything and move to Bahrain.
  • I knew nothing about the Arab culture or living in the Middle East.
  • I, so far, have never learned a second language.
  • I am humbled at being asked to help lead church school at the ELC.
  • I am inexperienced and too old to teach kindergarten, yet God called me to that position.
  • My faith seems like toddler faith compared to so many of the saints I’ve met here.

I am inadequate for the tasks set before me, but so were the disciples.

And finally, God’s will puts us in situations that are incomprehensible. Especially in the questioning times, I’m reminded of Job when God asked him: “Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth? Tell me, if you know all this.” (Job 38:18)

No, God, I haven’t. I can’t really tell you anything. I’ll be quiet now. “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:7)

I found it interesting that Mr. Christopher said that God’s will WILL (not may or might) take you into situations that are unexpected, that you are inadequate for, and that you humanly can not comprehend.

What impossibility is God calling us to be and do today?

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Wake Up

My Exhausted Guardian Angel

Thanks for all the prayers! We are now officially licensed drivers in Bahrain.

View From the Driver's Side

Since the traffic wasn’t too bad, Denise took her maiden voyage about a month ago. Safely.

Now, today she tried her first solo drive. Safely. Praise the Lord.

Guardian Angels: A Heavenly Conversation

God will put his angels in charge of you
to protect you wherever you go.
They will hold you up with their hands
to keep you from hurting your feet on the stones.
You will trample down lions and snakes,
fierce lions and poisonous snakes.
Psalm 91:11-13

Denise’s Guardian Angel: Whoa, that was a close one! Did you see the size of that hole I just helped her avoid? She puts on a lot of kilometers walking around here and seems to find more than her share of sidewalk holes, loose bricks, and uneven pavement.

Keith’s Guardian Angel:  How about this guy? I’m really getting worn out with Keith. I wonder if Peter made the right assignment for me? I mean keeping Keith safe while driving in Bahrain! This is exhausting. I can’t take my eyes off him for a millisecond. Did you see that? He just drove through the round-about, crossed two lanes of traffic and almost got T-boned by a Toyota SUV. In addition to stopping the SUV, I had to push three pedestrians and a bicyclist out of the way to save them too. He just can’t keep track of so much traffic. How long can I keep going with this gig?

DGA: Well, I guess I should be thankful she’s not driving.

KGA: Yet! I heard talk about them going to get her a driver’s license.

DGA: God, help us all!

KGA: And another driving issue I hope he learns. Keith doesn’t understand how to use his car horn here. People honk their horns for all kinds of reasons–mostly friendly. “Beep, Beep, I’m coming around the corner. Do you see me?” Or “Beep, Beep, come on into my lane, but hurry.”

Keith had a throat infection and needed an IV for dehydration. He was at urgent care, not an in-patient. All in a day’s work.

When someone cuts him off, he honks like an American. Angry. His honking just invites others to  pull into his lane too. He’s hopeless. I’d rather get a more relaxing stint, like protecting a high rise window washer or a Formula 1 race car driver. At least they know what they’re doing!

DGA: That sounds like a great idea. Window washers and race car drivers don’t encounter nearly as many viruses as Denise is finding. Between the new bugs she’s never met before and the kindergarteners helping to spread them, she’s met 32 new viruses. I’ve managed to help her trim that down to only three colds so far.

KGA: She’s also managed to share those viruses with Keith on occasion. At least they are in good hands at the American Mission Hospital. That makes our work easier, doesn’t it?

DGA: Yes, you’re right, but, hey, we better quit talking and pay attention to those lions and snakes up ahead!

This picture was taken after their first solo driving trip. THEY MADE IT! That was a milestone!

Krebs Timeline

Katie is finishing up a graphic design class in college this semester. She made a Krebs family timeline for a  final project.

KrebsTimeline

I thought it was beautiful. She said I could share it on our blog.

The various trees in her graphic are palms in California, where Keith and I grew up and were married; a ginkgo from our house in Michigan, which we took an annual Father’s Day photo in front of; an orange tree from our house in Glendale, Arizona;  a corn stalk from our backyard in Iowa; and now a new palm representing Bahrain.

At this time of transition, we poignantly think about all the places we’ve lived, all the roots we have put down over the years. The trees Katie chose are a beautiful reminder of these special places.

We are not a giant oak of a family with roots in the same community for generations. We have been a family that has uprooted itself several times. While it’s not always been easy, we can all look back and see that we have grown as a result. We have lifelong friends in each place. In addition, we have left a part of ourselves in each home.  Now, we are saying goodbye and moving once again.

We hope to take our next  family photo very soon in Bahrain.

Keith and Denise 1988

Father's Day Ginkgo Tree

 

Krebs family circa 1995

Maria and Katie with their cousins

Maria and Katie with their cousins

 

Arizona the Beautiful

We love Arizona. We lived here for ten years from 1994-2004. Our daughters grew up here, and we all have good friends here. We have enjoyed this beautiful week to connect with three churches, including our church home while we lived here.

Churches continue to inspire and bless us with their uplifting prayers, good wishes, and financial support. We couldn’t be doing it without them. Many thanks to our Arizona brothers and sisters.

Keith, Maria, Katie and I were together for two meals in Arizona. We celebrated Thanksgiving at In-N-Out Burgers and Z-Tejas, as we weren’t together for Thanksgiving this year.

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South Dakota Strong

Our posts have not been coming regularly this past month. We’ve been busy visiting churches in South Dakota, Iowa, and Arizona. Here are a few photos and thoughts from our trip to South Dakota.

One of  the blessings of slightly populated rural South Dakota is that Christians work ecumenically. For instance, in one of the towns, all the churches had the same youth group–Methodist, Lutheran, Roman Catholic, and RCA. When they go to high school, they can invite their friends to the one and only youth group. I thought it seemed kind of like heaven will be.

In another small town, the RCA and CRC churches have come together to worship and work. They are known collectively as The Church in Harrison, but they still use the two buildings–North and South. We arrived 40 minutes before worship was to begin at the deserted South church. We waited about ten minutes, when someone providentially arrived to pick up some music. She informed us that worship was at the North church this morning. Ooops!

We went to the wrong church. Thankfully someone stopped by and told us.

It was quiet at the wrong church. 

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Beautiful organ in the North church in Harrison.

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A bountiful harvest in Platte.

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Platte First Reformed Church

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We have grown to love rural America.

A Great Visit to the East Coast

A Beautiful Fall Day in New Jersey

Keith spoke for a few minutes at Abundant Life Church on Sunday morning. Then we enjoyed a soup dinner and shared our story with the congregation. The people of God here were encouraging and prayed for us. They have been longtime supporters of Appu, and they will support us now when we go to Bahrain.  We were pleased to meet Dr. Corrine Overkamp, a medical doctor who served in Bahrain for 32 years.  Again, we were reminded of the long and faithful track record of people like Corrine in their work with the mission to Bahrain.

 

Keith and Doug

Keith and Doug, pastor of Second Reformed Church in New Brunswick.

 

State Line Diner

We enjoyed dinner at the Stateline Diner in Mahwah, New Jersey. Thank you, Doug.

 

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The Nassau Suffolk Classis met at The Community Reformed Church in Manhasset.

 

Joanna

We were able to see Joanna and hear her tell about the work she and her family do among the Daasanech people in Ethiopia.

 

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We also visited the elders at New Life Community Church of Sayville, New York. They listened to us share our call and the work God is doing in Bahrain, and they prayed for us.

Here is Scott, the pastor of New Life, with Keith and Ken Bradsell, in front of The Community Reformed Church in Manhasset. Keith used to work with Ken on denominational staff.

We continue to be blessed and humbled as we meet so many wonderful people supporting the mission in Bahrain.

 

Posted in RCA

A Rich Legacy

When I joined the Reformed Church in America at Emmanuel Reformed in Paramount, California, I was an 18-year-old college freshmen, excited to be part of a church that encouraged me to think, as well as feel. I was never afraid to ask hard questions of my college and career pastor Rev. Jerry Sittser. I was challenged from the pulpit each week by Rev. Harold Korver to study and discuss scripture and its relevance. It was a rich time to grow as a new disciple of Jesus.

It was at that time that I began to hear about the work the RCA was doing in missions. Emmanuel had a rich relationship with missionaries in Chiapas, Mexico, and Ecuador and India, as well as Bahrain. I loved hearing what God was doing around the world. It was the first time in my life that I actively prayed for, supported, and even met amazing people of God who were doing his work around the world.

Now fast forward almost forty years, and I am humbled and grateful to God that he has called Keith and me to join in this rich history. We recently spent a week in Bahrain, and the legacy of the Reformed Church is permeated in the mission there.

Medical mission has deep roots in the RCA. American Mission Hospital in Bahrain was started by RCA missionary Samuel Zwemer over 100 years ago. Christian Medical College and Hospital in Vellore, India, now one of Asia’s foremost teaching hospitals, was started in 1918 by Ida Scudder, a third-generation RCA medical missionary.

That quote, taken from the RCA’s Medical Mission page, speaks volumes about what we experienced when we went to visit. The American Mission Hospital is respected in Bahrain. Men and women of different faiths and nationalities work together to bring healing in Christ’s name to people of all walks of life. While we were there, Appu introduced Keith to many of the people who work in many different departments all around the hospital and clinic.

I too was able to meet many of these doctors, nurses, receptionists, couriers, office and maintenance workers, and more.

Ida S. Scudder as a young woman 1899

One such introduction stands out to me. There were two doctors from India who met Appu, Keith and me in the hallway outside the hospital chapel. Keith had already had a chance to meet one of the doctors earlier. She excitedly introduced her colleague to Keith and me by saying these words, “These people are from Dr. Ida’s church.”

This was Dr. Ida S. Scudder they were referring to, the doctor–along with generations of her family–whom I had heard so much about as a young person. These two Indian doctors, now working in Bahrain, had studied medicine at the Christian Medical College and Hospital in Vellore founded by Dr. Ida.

Praise be to God that the Reformed Church in America (Dr. Ida’s church) has faithfully served in global missions for over 200 years. We were so proud and humbled at that moment to be members of the RCA.

This morning we worshiped with the people of Newkirk Reformed Church. Their women’s chorus sang these words, “Raised in His power, the weak become strong…”, and I was reminded yet again how humbled we are to be asked to join in this work. We can’t do it on our own, but God is good. God is faithful. And is there anything too difficult for God?

Food, Fellowship and New Friends

We have had an amazing week in Bahrain. We have only one more day here, and then we will head back to Iowa to finish raising support.

We have eaten too much delicious food, and we have relished even more in the rich fellowship we are having with new friends.

We will definitely be sharing more later.

You can see pictures of our trip on Flickr.