Remember September 11

I am sure you already know that this last week was the 10 year anniversary that so many will remember.  There are images of terror that will stay in your memory for many years to come. We will have different emotions that will rise when we revisit those memories, such emotions as anger, fear, confusion, and thoughts of revenge.

 

I would like to turn your attention to another event that took place that has stayed in the memories of even those who were not there. World War II does not even compare to the memories, nor does Vietnam. The Civil War may be in many books, but that doesn’t even hold a bar close to this memory.

Let’s go back even further to an event that has changed all of the world forever. This one event was planned for so long, was written about even before it happened, is discussed daily and will never, ever be forgotten. The event happened seemed to be at first, only affecting a few. But you have probably figured it out by now, I am talking about the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Now that I have your thoughts on Jesus, let’s put those thoughts back with the event of 9-11. Those who we see as responsible for the event, those who want to see death and destruction. Those who are willing to kill or even die for their beliefs. How can you fight this enemy and win? I will tell you this, the war has already been won. Jesus is the victor, justice will be served. BUT, while we are you on the earth, what do we do to fight? I will tell you this, that no amount of bullets or bombs will actually defeat the true enemy. This battle is not of the human flesh, this battle is in the spiritual realm. It can only be truly fought and won in the spirit. The physical part of the army can only be conquered in the hearts, the spiritual enemy does not what us to see that, he wants us to fight in the physical where he can win.

We should view this battle correctly and fight the way our Lord intends us to. We should be praying for those who are against us, we should be supporting our fellow believers in those territories and even send others there to spread the Gospel of Christ and to disciple the new believers. By this we will truly conquer the enemy and grow the army of God throughout the world.

So remember…..

… Why Jesus died.

To Learn as Job

Job went through so much to learn this:

2 “I know that you can do all things,
and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
3 ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
4 ‘Hear, and I will speak;
I will question you, and you make it known to me.’
5 I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear,
but now my eye sees you;
6 therefore I despise myself,
and repent in dust and ashes.”

I hope my heart will always acknowledge God in this way.

If you have not yet read the book of Job, I would suggest you set some time aside to do so. Reading Job will open your eyes up to the Lord in a greater way. The lesson Job learned is a lesson we all need to learn. To see ourselves for who we are and the Lord God for who He is.

Praise God!

 

Inside out Church

Throughout the New Testament we read how the church was formed under that covenant and we are able to see what Jesus taught. He started with twelve. These 12 men were the beginning of a fire that is still spreading today, however, that fire seems to be diminished. What began through 12 became thousands in a few short years. What was the distance between Jesus and 12 men, became thousands of miles instead of just inches. The Gospel spread and was contagious.

What has happened between the time of the 12 to today? What has changed? Has God changed? Has the Word changed? Or has the message been changed?

Many of us desire to see the power of the book of Acts in our lives. We want to see miracles both of the physical and of the spiritual. We want to see the ‘many’ come to Christ. Where have we fallen short of this great story?

Let’s go back to some of the final words of Jesus himself and what He told us to do. He had a commission, a command if you will, of what the believer is to do. We are to reach the whole world with the Gospel. But how does one person do this? Do we go to church regularly, tithe regularly, go to bible studies and fellowship regularly? (None of those things are wrong.) How do those things spread the Gospel of Christ? What then, do we invite people to church so they can hear the pastor talk about who Jesus is? Do we tell the pastor or deacons who is sick in a hospital or who is in prison who needs to be visited?

I believe the whole church is backwards or inside out in its current structure.

Before you think I am going to condemn churches as a whole, or say pastors are at fault, please hear me out.

What is the pastor’s role according to the Bible?

Ephesians 4:11 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers (NAS)

Pastors are to be shepherds of the flock, teachers of the Word. They should be building up and teaching the flock, equipping them to go. The equipped flock will go out and tell others about Jesus, but not to stop there, what was the command Jesus gave His followers? To “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations” (Matt 28-19a) – make disciples! How do you make a disciple? Well, what did Jesus do? He said to follow Him. We may not necessarily say it the same way, but if we are following Christ and we can then point to Him and say “follow Him” by my example.

Our discipling should not stop there, it should be on going. We need to teach the new believer how to do the same thing, equip them with the Word, walk with them in the life and stand by them in battle. This may be a weekly time set aside, it could be talking on the phone, it can be showing up when they want to tell someone about Jesus and helping them speak the truth of the Word.

So, if we were to take the church and reverse the flow of thought, instead of people going to church to see the pastor and hear a message that could change you – how about go to church to be equipped to take the Word out to the world? Can we see how 12 men (11 who remained) touched thousands of lives by discipling others? Can we see the multiplication that took place? How about the reverse – can we see the duplication of the pastor being the “go to guy” who may touch and transform a few a year? Which way will actually even keep up with the population growth?

Can we change?

Who needs to change?

Let me suggest that it isn’t necessarily your pastor. (Even though his view of the church may need to be adjusted.) How about I suggest it is me? It is I. The one who needs to go and make disciples of all the nations is me. I need to widen my world view!! I need to think how Christ wanted me to think, bigger than I ever could be! Why? Because then He will do what I can not! Through making disciples I can touch the world!

How big is your vision?

Children, Bless Your Parents

Raising children is never easy. Raising them in the ways of the Lord so that they will not stray, even harder. But the mercies of the Lord are great and He can do what we can’t.

We had the privilege to talk to both Jeremy and Joshua in the last week. This was our first time talking with Joshua since he went to Mexico and it seems like it has been a year (yet it has only been about two months.) He was still excited about being there and serving. Then speaking to Jeremy who was visiting the Mission for a week was also able to tell us how God was working in his life and in Joshua’s life.

To be able to hear from your children that they are following the Lord, giving their life to the Lord and trying to only make decisions with the Lord can fill a parents heart with joy!

I pray that all my children will one day fill my heart with that same joy as they serve the Lord.

So children, bless your parents and serve the LORD. Seek Him with all your heart, mind and soul.

 

 

Can You Impress God?

This morning at the church service here in Sosua, the visiting pastor asked this question: How can you impress God? I thought it was a very interesting question, not only by the direction he took the answer but to really think about it, can you impress God?

Sure God, look what I am doing. Look at who I am. Did you see what I did?

Somehow God would be impressed?

The question almost instantly brought to mind – there is no way to impress God, but there is a way to please God.

Being the dad of 6 great kids I think I can understand some of what it is to be a father. I also know what “pleases” me as a father. When my kids trust me, when they listen and when they obey. But to please God, there is one thing that leads to those and more: faith. In the bible it says in Hebrews 11:6 “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

When we have faith, we respond to Him. When we have faith, we obey Him. When we have faith, we can do what everyone says not to, but God said to do. It is only by faith that we can know God.

Faith is also action, if you have faith you will act. When someone says they have faith, but never act on it, do they really have faith? If you say you can run, but never move faster than a walk, how does one know what you say is true? You must run, move, act out – your faith. If you feel your faith is lacking, ask God for more. Ask Him knowing He desires you to have faith and as a loving Father he wants you to have abundance of faith.

I believe so many of us a missing out on what God really has for us and it all starts with faith.

Do you believe God says who He says He is? Is He the Great I Am, the Alpha and the Omega, the King of kings and Lord of lords? Do you believe that Jesus really did live a perfect life on this earth, died for our sins, paid the price of that sin, rose again to glory and is coming back again?

So can we impress God or should we just think about how we can please Him?

I love my God and hope that my faith (with actions to back it up) pleases Him and someday I will here Him say “well done, good and faithful servant.”

Radhames Reynoso music

Check out our friend’s music and website. Radhames plays across the country of the Dominican Republic and other latin American countries. God has gifted him with music and preaching.

Radhames Reynoso

 

More things happening

During the last few months we have been helping with Niños de la Luz. This has been a great opportunity for all of us. Our boys get to practice and learn more Spanish as they talk and play with the boys who live there and Heather spends time with Summer who lives there.  Jessica has been helping with the schooling of the lower grades which has also stretched her in learning more Spanish.  I have been fixing things, helping with things of the new house and working with the short term teams.

We have been stretched in so many ways over the last 10 months. The challenges of finding a place to live to the challenge of cars that  are old and abused. The strains it puts on the family relations and testing of our faith that has grown and strengthened us. God has been good!

During the first part of July some of our friends from Medford have been in Santo Dominigo with YWAM (JUCUM) and we have gone to visit and work with them. Watching our kids join in the work, learning dances, dramas and even speaking to people has been a huge blessing to me as a father.

One thing you can be praying is for us to know our next big step. We have been talking about going to Mexico to a Spanish school for a few months so that we would be more effective in ministering the gospel and really being able to deepen our relationships here.

 

 

Planning an escape route

Driving in the Dominican Republic really brings to mind “defensive driving.” At times in the USA I would be on a busy highway at I would keep in mind an escape route in case the traffic came to a quick stop or the guy who was driving sporadically in front of me decides to do something even dumber than before.  Here the roads are narrow. People drive ready to pass with their car 3 feet over the line at all times and leaves you little room to avoid motorcycles who are riding 3 feet in.

The winding road we take up to Niños de la Luz is narrow and has corners with little visibility. The large dump trucks will come down about 45 mph down the center and don’t move over for oncoming traffic. The road have no shoulders like what we have in the US. Trees, fences, cows, people or horses are also in spots. Sometimes even a “parked” car will be on the side (2 wheels on the dirt, but most of car in road.)

The other day as I drove down that road and realized how much time I was spending thinking of where I can drive off the side of the road. This was my way of planning an escape of an oncoming vehicle. I also realized that we should do this in our daily walk especially when we know we might be in an area of temptation. If you struggle with alcohol, for example, and you are visiting a friend’s house who drinks – you may want to have another friend come with you to keep you accountable. If we make our exit plans beforehand, or not necessarily make plans but be aware of the “exits” we have available to us.

But like it says in I Corinthians 10:13 – “There hath no temptation taken you but such as man can bear: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation make also the way of escape, that ye may be able to endure it.”  So, there is always at least one way of escape, we just need to be looking and aware of our escape routes.

Even the keyboard I am typing on has an escape key…

 

Fun day at Niños de la Luz

Josiah in the Sack Race

This week is Semana Santa (Holy Week) celebrating the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. However, much of this country does not celebrate it in a “Holy” fashion. Please keep us in prayers, the roads here are considered deadly and many are driving intoxicated. Loud music and big parties are the norm around the touristy areas (bars and beaches.) We are limiting our travel some, but we are also not living in fear.

Since this week is a national holiday, the boys at Niños de la Luz have the week off from school. We joined them Friday for a play day and had a great time with the boys and the other families working at NDLL.

Boys in sack race

Josiah in the Sack Race

Josiah in the Sack Race

Eating stuff during game

 

Today we went up to visit some families in Villa Paraiso. Little nervous about the roads, but we did fine and made it back alive. Don’t think I will be heading out anywhere tonight!

One man in the village, Jose, has been bleeding for 12 days and has to go to Santiago Monday to be checked out why. Please lift him up in prayer. This may be something related to his past, since before he came to Christ he struggled in drugs. Also, hold his family up as they are all deeply concerned for him. Pray for God’s peace.