Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The love of God in our lives

I came across a quote in one of the books I am reading right now that really blessed me.  The author wrote "It is the cross alone that ultimately proves the love of God to us-not the providential circumstances of our lives."  This has been a recurring theme in my own personal life as well as many of the people in the church that I pastor.  Several of our members are dealing with difficult circumstances.  They range from job loss and financial issues to serious health problems and issues with rebellious kids.  It always seems that these outward circumstances control how we think about the love of God in our lives.  Many times we feel that if our outward circumstances are going well and we are having minimal struggles God is pleased with us and we are performing well.   When the tides take a turn for the worse we tend to think that God is displeased with us and for some reason we begin to question whether God loves us.  We forget to look at who God is and how He has always taken care of us.  I think people tend to have this attitude because that is how our society is set up.  I don't care if you are in North America or Europe of up at 9000' in the Andes mountains, society is set up in such a way that we are rewarded for our performance.   In the company I worked for I would receive an end of the year bonus based on how well the jobs I ran performed.  The more money my jobs made and the quicker they were complete I received a larger check at the end of the year. Athletes are given monster contracts based on their performance.  I even tell my kids, "behave and I will get you an ice cream."  This all translates into our view of God and our circumstances.  If I am in the midst of difficulty I tend to look at my performance.  What I need to do is look at the tender mercy of God.  I need to remember who God is and who I am in Christ.  Remember when Jesus was being baptized.  The heavens opened up and God the Father said this is my Son, with you I am well pleased.  The One that God the Father is pleased with is His Son, that is it.  But when we come to Christ by faith, we are united with Him.  Our lives our hidden in His life.  His life becomes ours.  So God the Father looks at us through the lens of His Son and so in Christ God looks at us and is well pleased.  Our circumstances no matter how bad they are, are not the indicator whether or not God loves us.  God demonstrated His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  All we have to do is look at the cross to see that God loves us.  We don't ever have to question whether God loves us.  So we need to get our eyes off our circumstances and onto God.  We need to reprogram our minds from the way society is, in regards to a performance based reward system, and remember that God is a God of grace and He loves us.  And yes I know that in the end we will receive rewards based on what we do here and now and yes we are to strive to live lives that bring glory and honor to God and strive after His will.  I know all that, but that is not the basis for God's love for us.  We do that out of our love for Him.  But God cannot be more pleased with us than He is right now if we are in Christ.   That is a great comfort.  That is a great motivation.  That is a great relief.  It also should make us realize that the outward circumstances of our lives are not controlled by whether or not God loves us and is pleased with us.  Just think about the life of Jesus.  He had some pretty horrible outward circumstances in His life, yet God's love was infinitely poured upon Him.  So for us, "It is the cross alone that ultimately proves the love of God to us-not the providential circumstances of our lives."  If you are in Christ, God loves you more than you can even imagine.  Take heart in that!

Soli deo Gloria

Friday, December 4, 2015

Missing my wife

My wife and daughters have been in the States apart from my son and I since October 27th.  This is the longest we have been apart in our thirteen years of marriage.  I can't even begin to express how much I miss her and love her.  The upside is we only have five more days until she returns to Peru!!! One of the positive things I have learned through this though is how much I love her and appreciate her.  She is a wonderful woman who pushes me to pursue Christ at a deeper level.  I am encouraged by her faith and her relationship with Christ and it makes me desire to be a man that does the same for her.  Last night in our midweek service my Dad preached on 1 Samuel 25 and did a great job and one of the things he brought up is how as a husband we need to listen to our wife's wisdom and counsel.  God put her here as a help meet and they complete us.  In these days apart, I have learned that on a whole new level.  I have also learned that her role that she takes in this house is huge!  I have never appreciated as she deserves all that she does here, but now I do and I am even more thankful for her.  Marriage is a difficult task, I am not going to pull any punches, but with the grace of God and focusing in on the roles that we are given in marriage, it can be a beautiful thing.  I am called to love my wife as Christ loved His church. I am to live selfless for her, I am to exemplify selfless love to her and my kids in order to show the gospel through our marriage.  I do believe that this world needs a great demonstration of a biblical marriage which in turn is a demonstration of the gospel.  I pray that when she returns I do that.  I pray that I remember this time and don't just fall back into the old routine, but I cherish her and adorn her with selfless love.  She is my queen and I can't wait for these next five days to be over.

Monday, November 2, 2015

In Peru, well two of us.

My son and I returned to Peru last Wednesday.  We are so excited and blessed to be back but it is starting to set in that mama and the rest of the girls aren't here and boy do we miss them.  I know the time will go by, but 7 weeks seems like ages at this point. Besides that though things are going well.  It was so great to be back with my church and see the growth and new faces.  Everyone did amazing while I was gone.  I am so blessed to be surrounded by such a good team.  This Friday I get to preach the gospel at a one year anniversary of a school that a family in our church runs.  What an opportunity to share Jesus.  I love being back!  I love my church and I love to see what the Lord is going to do this next year.  Thanks so much for all the love and support.  Be praying for my son and I though while the girls are still stateside.  We will have fun skating and hanging out, but we really do need the others to be complete :)

Friday, September 25, 2015

Furlough is upon us.

The final days are upon us here in Peru before we head to the States for a time.  We are filled with mixed emotions to be sure.  While we know we need to go to the States and visit our supporters and give reports of the Lord's doings here, it is so hard to leave.  My son and I will only be there for a month and then my wife and daughters will be there into December.  As I prepare some things and get some things in order before I leave on monday, I already am missing my church and the people and our new ministry at the skatepark.  I am love my church and the people I pastor and I love what the Lord is doing and we are just torn right now but we know that it will be a blessing for us to go visit and eat some food we crave :)

Please just be praying for us and our emotions and that we would have a fruitful time in the States and pray for everyone here in Peru also.  I am so blessed by such a great group of leaders and servants who take care of the Lord's work when we are not here.  I am not worried at all for the ministry here.  We are just going to miss it and everyone.

Thanks so much for the love and support.  See you soon.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Totally blown away by the Lord's grace to us.

I wanted to share just some incredible news that has happened for us and just to show how much the Lord cares about all the little details.  I pray that it will encourage you as you read this and see just how gracious our God is.

This year I had planned on not returning to the States for furlough and my son was going to be staying in Peru with me.  My wife and my three daughters were planning on still going to the States and they were staying for two months and nine days.  There were several factors in my decision not to take a furlough this year but one of the main reasons was financial.  My wife and daughters got all their tickets and everything was set.  As time got closer and we continued to pray about this situation and we both felt uneasy and didn't think it was the best idea for our whole family to be apart for such an extended time.  We decided we have to do what it takes for my son and I to go on furlough even if it is only for a shorter time.  So we came to the conclusion that my son and I will go back for a month and that way our time apart as a family is cut in half.  We looked for tickets and there was a crazy good deal and the Lord provided so we jumped on them.  The only problem was it is on a different flight than my wife's.  The girls all fly out and go from Lima to Miami and then have a 10 hour layover and then into Los Angeles.  They arrived in Los Angeles at 7pm or something like that and the last flights to San Francisco end about that time so they ended up getting a hotel for the night and then the following morning they would fly up to SFO.  The tickets that my son and I got were from Lima to Los Angeles direct.  We arrive in Los Angeles at 7am.  So we said no big deal we will go skate a couple of the famous skateparks and wait for the girls and then we will all head up to SFO in the morning.  My son and I got a pretty good deal and my poor wife has to deal with our 2 year old by herself now and it a long layover and my oldest daughter loves to skate and so she is bummed also.  So we said lets just call the airline and see if they will change it.  Well they wouldn't, but they said if we make any changes to your itinerary you don't have to accept and then you can change all your tickets for free.  Well to make a long story short, they made some changes and so they changed all my girls to my flight for free so we all get to travel together and we all get to skate some pretty amazing skateparks!  The Lord totally worked it out for us and we are so thankful and overwhelmed by His blessing of allowing us all to be together.  He cares about all the details and I am blessed He worked it out in our favor.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

A Lunch Invitation

Today was such a wonderful day in the Lord.  Earlier in the week we got invited over to the house of a newer member of the church.  I have only talked to him very briefly on several sunday mornings and never anything substantial.  So when he wrote me and asked my family to come over we were excited but did not know what to expect.  To our surprise it was a beautiful time.  He had his girlfriend of four years there, his sister, and his brother and his wife and kids.  After we ate, we sat down and just began talking about the Lord and how He works and what happens in your life when you come to know the  God of grace.  My wife and I got to explain the joys of fellowship with Christ.  I really feel that he invited us over to share with his family.  He had sown some seeds and he wanted us to come and confirm all that he was saying was true.  One of the questions they asked is "what do you think we could do to improve our culture?"  And the answer to that every time is for the gospel to take hold.  I could have said a number of things.  I could have said stop throwing garbage everywhere.  I could have said well you need clean water.  I could have said improvement of a number of things but in the end really, the only thing that truly matters is knowing Christ in all His glory.  As I have studied missions and the impact of missionaries, the one thing that made a lasting difference was when people came to Christ.  Many have gone and given better homes and clean water and taught people how to have better infrastructure but with little emphasis on the gospel.  After these missionaries left, more than not, the communities went back to their old ways.  Where the missionaries went in to preach the gospel, all those areas improved and lasted longer.  So when asked what can improve our community and our culture, the only answer in faith in Christ.  With this it opened the door so easily to share all about the good news of our Lord Jesus.  It is times like these that we are so thankful for.  Carlos (the young man who invited us over) told me that he had never experienced a church like ours.  He told us when you walk in it there is so much love.  He said I feel like it is a family.  He said never has he heard the Bible taught like the way we teach it.  For us, there is not a better or higher complement and there is nothing to be more proud about.  Jesus said by this they will know you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.  What a testimony to the grace of God in our church.  The members are making others feel loved and like family when they walk in.  The Word of God is being preached and lives are being changed.  I love our people and our church and I am so blessed to be part of it in a small way and I am so excited to see what the Lord continues to do.  One of my pastors use to always say, "I want everyone who walks in here to be the most loved on people!"  I want to live a life like that.  I want everyone to know how loved they are when they walk through Refugio's doors.  The funny thing is, my wife so beautifully explained to them, that everyone can have this love if they come to trust Christ, because He pours His love through you to others.  Let us be conduits of God's love and grace.  Let us be salt and light.  I am so thankful that God showered me with love and grace because I am really so unlovable.  I am sure you are as well.  What a great God we serve.

Soli deo Gloria

Friday, August 21, 2015

Little Spurgy for the morning!

"Sinner, the devil says you are shut out! Tell him that 'whosoever' shuts out none. 
Oh that precious word, 'whosoever'….Remember there is the same Christ for big 
sinners as for little sinners; the same Christ for grey heads as for babes; the same 
Christ for poor as for rich; the same Christ for chimney sweeps as for monarchs; 
the same Christ for prostitutes as for saints: 'Whosoever'.  I use broad words that 
I may take a broad range, and sweep the whole universe of sinners through- 
WHOSOEVER looks to CHRIST shall LIVE!"

Charles Spurgeon

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

God's faithfulness

As I look out the window and watch the clouds roll over the mountains like a waterfall coming into the valley, I sit in my office reflecting on how faithful the Lord has been to my family and I.  Sunday was our 4 year anniversary of moving to Peru.  A wide range of emotions hit me.  I never thought I would serve the Lord in the capacity that he is allowing me to.  I never thought I would see His hand so visible in my life and ministry.  The road the Lord brought us down to get us here is overwhelming.  From heartbreak to times of elation and back again.  When we first began to heed the Lord's call, we thought without a doubt we were going to a small Eastern Eurpoean country.  We spent a minute over in Latvia and made life long friends and pray for the Lord's hand to touch that country, but the Lord had other plans for our lives.  We were devastated but the Lord was in control.  Not ever even thinking of Peru, we moved here to just get accustomed to living in South America.  We had plans of maybe going from here into Brazil.  The Lord had other plans.  Our hearts began to break for some of the practices we started to see.  We developed a deep love for the people we were getting to know.  Step by step the Lord was opening doors for us.  3 years ago we planted the church.  We have our ups and downs.  We have our struggles.  Sometimes I want to throw myself this huge pity party.  I want to invite all of pity's friends.  Doubt, despair, failure, fatigue and all the rest.  I read my Bible every day.  I use a Bible reading plan.  But sometimes I am just reading and not listening.  Sometimes I am not paying attention to God's Word.  It is almost just like I am going through the motions.  I tell myself, "you have to read the Bible because you tell everyone from the pulpit to do that!"  So I do, but sometimes I am doing it but more concerned about getting to the passage that I will be preaching from Sunday.  So today in the chilly Andean air, I thought "I need to just slow down my reading plan.  I need to pick up God's Word and hear His voice and then do what He is telling me.  I need Him to encourage me and maybe even shake me up a little."  By God's providence I decided to go to 2 Corinthians and just do some personal study.  Study for my soul.  Am I selfish, no.  How can I help others if I first haven't been ministered to by the Lord?  Well I couldn't get past chapter one and I didn't need to.  Tomorrow I will press on, but I needed to hear what the Lord has spoken through the Apostle Paul in chapter one.  I had to cancel my party for pity.  Paul had been through the washing machine!  Paul was in the trenches and you know what, He was praising God and loving what he was called to do.  But I was overwhelmed by Paul's joy in what the Corinthians had become.  He tells them that one day they will boast of him and that he will boast of them.  There are people here in Peru, who have touched my life.  There are people in Peru who have made me a better pastor, a better Christian, and a better person.  And I know that there are people who can say the same of me.  I do not say that to brag in a prideful way.  I say that broken and humble because it is not me but the Lord who gives the grace and power.  I am just a vessel.  I am just a tool in the Master's hand.  When we get over ourselves and look at what an unbelievable God we serve and the mission that we each are called to do and that all of us can have an impact on others through the grace that the Lord has bestowed upon us and through His power, I have to say, any struggle or hardship that we face is worth it.  As Paul says, we go through things sometimes just so we can help others when they go through it.  We are all usable by the Lord.  The real question is are we willing to allow the Lord to work through us?  It is not easy, but His grace is sufficient.  There are people in your life, right now, who need to know about how good Jesus is.  They don't know where to go.  That's ok, cause Jesus told us He is sending us.  Go to them.  He might not be sending you to the Andes or to the plains of the Sahara.  But he might be sending you into your kids room.  Into your office. Into your grocery store.  In 4 years living in a foreign land I have learned more about the grace of God than I ever had.  And it isn't because I live in a foreign land but it is because I realized how desperately I need it.  Let me encourage you, desire to know the grace of God and the power of Jesus's resurrection.  I would not trade a moment of what I have been through and I am so excited to see what the Lord continues to do.  There is no greater joy than walking the path the Lord sets before our feet.  Don't try to step off because it is too hard.  Don't try to run to fast because it is going good.  Enjoy every step and praise His name for the lot He has given.  May the Lord bless you today and may you be bold in His grace.

Soli deo Gloria

Monday, May 18, 2015

Struggles and Warfare

As I am studying Galatians to preach this sunday I am just overwhelmed by the struggle that the Christian life is.  Yesterday was an amazing day at church.  We had a very large team from the States join us and that was nice, but as I was reading the text that I was going to preach on, I saw one of our locals, a girl who I baptized last month.  She walked in and sat down.  What caught my eye is who walked in with her.  It was her mom!  Her mom has never walked into our church.  She has only said hello in passing.   She did come to the baptism but was very stand offish.  Her mom is a devote Roman Catholic.  When I saw her I almost lost it.  My eyes filled with water and I had to do everything in my power to hold back from weeping uncontrollably out of joy.  It was such the providence of God that she came that morning as well which was another reason I was so moved.  The text we were looking at was such a powerful text on the grace of God and the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.  It laid out salvation so clear.  It contrasted works verses faith.  As soon as the message was over I walked right over to her and told her the joy in my heart to see her there and she gave me a huge smile and hug.  I have no idea if the Spirit of God took the word of God and got it from her ears to her heart.  I pray that it did and she will come back.  It was such a blessing to see that.   Another couple though talked with me about their family who have been coming over the last month.  They as well are devote Roman Catholics.  They have a daughter who is 15 and she is so in love with our church and told her parents she wants to be baptized a Christian and they got so upset.  They immediately enrolled her in confirmation classes, which take place on saturday nights so she can't come to youth group any more.  She is devastated.  At the same time, the family is talking about the things of the Lord with the couple whom I was talking to (their family).  And the couple told the family that God is doing a work in their lives, why else are they talking of the Lord, something they never had done in the past.  The family shared that they want to come to church, but they don't.  Sunday they came to the door, but then left.  There is a battle going on.  The flesh against the Spirit.  And even right now as I write this and study for sunday I have this battle going on.  I want to return to the States.  I want to go back and work and walk away from the ministry.  I thought about a family who hasn't been to church in 2 weeks.  I was broken hearted and just asking God "Why?"  I am burdened over people's souls.  I am burdened that just a few weeks ago, our church was full.  And yet Sunday we were missing several of our members.  And this battle began in my soul.  Here God showered me with this beautiful blessing and encouragement of this mom coming and I am having crazy doubts and feeling of letting go.  In the back row sunday was a man who was our first member 3 years ago and is still coming.  My wife and I always said if we are just here for him, then everything is worth it.  Yet for some reason I don't think about that.  This man's wife and daughter are mormon.  He used to go with his wife to the mormon church and then show up about 10-15 minutes late because he went to their service first.  After several months of sitting under the word of God, he stopped going to the mormon church and is on time.  The Lord is working and sometimes I think I put to much expectation on myself.  We have been seeing in our little fellowship the unity of the body.  Fellowship between different social classes that would never happen on the street here.  It is just the work of the Spirit.  I had been super encouraged and blessed as of late but then here comes these doubts and struggles and the desire to throw in the towel.  Why?  I am not under the threat of death like so many of my brothers and sisters serving in hostile lands.  The Lord is working in and through our church.  There is a battle going on between the flesh and the Spirit.  This is where God has called me and I am doing what He has called me to do.  Success in the kingdom of God is based on faithfulness.  Sure it would be so much easier for me to return to the States to a job I loved and a job that I did for over 17 years.  That would be easy.  It would be easier to go back to the States and minister in my native language, for sure!  It would be easier to live in a society that I am accustomed to.  All these thoughts have been bombarding me just this morning.  If I choose to focus in on that, I will be defeated. The Lord has given me tons of little glimpses of what He is doing and things that should be motivating me to press on.  I need, like Paul says in Galatians, to crucify the flesh and walk in the Spirit.  The victory is in Christ and through the Spirit of God I can walk in that victory.  How can I have such a wonderful day on sunday but at the same time have such a horrible day on monday?  Because that flesh rears up and shows its nasty head.  Wow to walk in the Spirit is a moment by moment, day by day need.  To kill the flesh is a moment by moment, day by day need.  May God's grace fill you today as it is filling me.  Rejoice in Him and the victory of Christ.  Pray for me as I struggle to remember this and live by this and I will do the same for you!

Soli deo Gloria

Thursday, April 16, 2015


We all have our ups and downs, the mountain tops and the valleys, good times and bad times For us right now, glory be to God, we are in the good or the up or on the mountain top.  Over the past few weeks even months we have just seen great growth in our personal lives and well as in the lives of God's people in our church.  This saturday we are having a baptism where 3 local Peruvians and my oldest daughter will be taking the step of faith of water baptism.  How encouraging is it to see believers want to follow the commands of Jesus and publicly proclaim and demonstrate that they have died, been buried and raised to new life with Jesus.  This will be a very public baptism as well!  It will be held at a local restaurant (that gets very crowded) here in Baños del Inca in there swimming pool while the restaurant is open and serving lunch.

Another issue that we are so grateful is the fact that we are dedicating a specific day a week were all we do is just hang out as a family.  We turn off all electronics and we just spend time together playing games and of course if there is no rain we hit the skatepark for a few hours first thing in the morning.  It is great because the whole family is skating now.  It is great exercise and great fun and I love seeing my kids push each other to get higher air or better tricks or whatever.  It is just a good time and something we all do together.  I never understood this hashtag thing, but we even made up our own hashtag that says "a family that skates together stays together"  so you can find some of our pictures on instagram with that.

We are all feeling the most settled in and blessed to be here than we ever have before.  I personally over the past few weeks have dealt with the worst cases of homesickness that I have ever dealt with since being here, but when I get out and am involved in ministry that all goes away.  I had never dealt with missing the States until, like I said, just a few weeks ago.  I don't know why all of sudden that has started but one thing I do know is even that won't rob me of the joy Jesus has given us to serve Him here in this wonderful location.  I love Peru, I love Cajamarca, I love the church I am privileged to pastor, I love my family, and most of all I love Jesus.

I am sure soon enough the downs will come, we will be in the valley and the bad times will show up, but I praise Him for those just as much as I praise Him for the season we are in right now.  I love that the Lord gives us these moments so that when those dark and hard days show up, we can look back and remember just how good the Lord is and know that no matter what happens, He is with us and loves us!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Praying for our brothers and sisters who are being persecuted for the gospel

I am sitting here in my nice comfy chair, in my nice private office inside my home while preparing my sermon for sunday morning.  Scanning over the news I see an article about the 200 or so Assyrian Christians who are being held by Isis and threatened and asked to convert to Islam.  They all boldly denied and professed faith in Jesus.  I thank God that I serve in a country where we can meet publicly and preach openly the good news of Jesus Christ.  At the same time my heart breaks for our brothers and sisters throughout the world who are suffering for the sake of Christ.  Here I am studying, in what I consider a beautiful environment, in comfort, surrounded by my books and a computer and internet and   I am not thinking about anyone coming into my home and taking my wife and kids or threading us to deny Christ.  Yet all over the world most Christians don't have it this nice.  In Hebrews we are told "Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body" (Hebrews 13:3 ESV). How often do we take this charge seriously? I know I was convicted this morning, not by the fact that God has placed me where He has placed me. There are lost souls right here who need to know Christ as much as in other places in the world. I was convicted because how little time I spend on my knees interceding for other members of the family of God who are not as fortunate as me to live in a place of gospel freedom. For those who are loosing their lives for standing for Jesus. For those who are being persecuted and suffering for taking the name of Christ. These are the heroes of the faith. Lets pray that the Lord continues to strengthen our suffering family to continue to stand for Christ and that the Lord would be glorified and that through the boldness of the suffering, the persecutors will come to know the great salvation in Christ. Lord protect Your children and give them great boldness!

Friday, February 27, 2015


James tells us that "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this:to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world" James 1:17.  Today we get to go into a state run orphanage in Cajamarca and spend time with some precious orphans.  It is always one of my highlights.  For two and a half hours we get to go in and love on them and play with them but most importantly we get to open up God's word and teach them and pray with them and share the deep things of God with them.  I love this ministry that the Lord has allowed us to start.  Our primary focus is on planting a Bible teaching church and making disciples through the church, but we also get this wonderful blessing to be part of this orphanage.  One of the greatest blessing that the work of Christ obtained for His people is adoption into God's family.  This is something that we overlook so often.  When we think about salvation most the time we think of heaven and being spared from God's wrath and even having access to God the Father but so many times adoption is over looked.  As I work my way through Galatians on sunday mornings, I am being reminded of the great privilege of being adopted by God the Father and becoming an heir to all that He has to offer.  As we go into this orphanage this afternoon, what is most important for these priceless niños, is not that someone would come adopt them, but that they could be adopted by God the Father.  That by faith they can enter into the most incredible family ever.  They can can receive an inheritance that is above any earthly inheritance.  They can cry out with the rest of the saints, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with EVERY spiritual blessing in the heavenly places" Eph 1:3.
Please join with us in this ministry and pray for these young ones that the Lord may open their hearts to see just how great He is and that they would run to His open arms.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Being Available

It is thursday afternoon here in Peru and we have our midweek church service on Thursday nights.  We are currently looking at the life of Elijah and tonight specifically at the calling of Elisha.  Elisha is such a great example for the Christian as one who responds to the calling of God.  He made himself available to do what ever it is that God asked.  As I was reviewing my notes my wife got a phone call and was for the next hour and twenty minutes counseling a woman from our church.  I was so blessed that my wife took the time (which she should have) to minister to this dear saint.  It was right during lunch and after lunch there is always a crunch to get the homeschooling done so she can prepare dinner in time for the kids to eat before we head to church.  Keep in mind that my wife and homeschooling are  arch rivals.  It is not something she enjoys or really even wants to do, but this is where the Lord has placed her and she is answering the call of the Lord like Elisha.  I listened in to her counsel and was so impressed by her wisdom and godly advice that she gave.  I know it was hard for her and she was out of her comfort zone and it was a very challenging time of the day for her.  I am not trying to brag on her or say look at how great my wife is (even though she truly is),  my point is she was such an example to me that no matter what is going on I need to be available to be used by the Lord to minister to whoever needs it whenever the time comes.   I can get so caught up in my own little world that I forget what is happening around me.  Yet that is not what the Christian life is.  When we look at Jesus, He wasn't so caught up in His own little world that he neglected the needs of the people.  He actually left His little world, heaven, and came to earth to serve and not to be served.  Lord help me be more like Jesus.  Conform me to His image that I may shine His love in this world.  Forgive me for my selfishness and my sinful desires.  Let me see Jesus more clearly and thank you for the example of Elisha who left all to do your will and thank you so much for my wife and her example of being available and allowing you to use her so you could strengthen one of your daughters.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

We are justified by faith!

On sunday mornings I am preaching through the book of Galatians.  It has been a great time for me personally.  Studying and preparing sermons from this wonderful book has brought such a renewed passion to serve Jesus.  Before our time in the States I had preached through the first two chapters and last week was my first sunday back in the pulpit.  I did an overview and a refresher of where we have been and where we are going.  This sunday we will dive into chapter three and look at verses 1-5.  As I have been studying, so many of the commentaries have brought up the new perspective on Paul.  I haven't even touched that in my exposition and I don't plan to.  I haven't even really read much on it because I am still trying to come to terms with the old perspective on Paul.  The doctrine of justification by faith alone is such an amazing doctrine it is almost impossible to believe!  It is so inherent in us to try to do something for God that pleases Him so that we are able to take a little credit.  I always have to catch myself and search my motives, "Why am I doing this?"  Sometimes I think if I work harder or do more good Christian works, I am somehow securing my standing with God.  The fact of the matter is, my standing is secure with God based upon my faith in Christ and what He has done.  It has nothing to do with me.  I always feel this little bit of legalism creeping in or this works based righteousness crouching at the door.  Luther said this is the most important doctrine so it is imperative to know this article well, teach it to others and beat it into their heads continually!  I love that.  I need to beat it into my head continually.  When we understand that there is not one ounce of effort we can pour into the merits of our standing before God, this frees us up from trying to please God for our salvation and instead free us to live for Him with love and joy.  No longer do I have to worry if I have tipped the scales in my favor, I can just live the life He has called me to by the power of the Spirit and when I have my days where I fail, I know that I am still justified because my justification is based on the life, death and resurrection of Christ!  I don't have to wake up in the morning and stress to undo what I did and throw more good works on the scale.  I get up and thank Jesus for His grace and carry on being a Christian saved by grace through faith in Christ!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Man does not live by bread alone but every word that comes from the mouth of God!

For years I have done the Robert Murray M'Cheyne Bible reading plan.  It is an incredible plan that gets you deep into the Word of God.  If you stick to the schedule you will have read the Old Testament once and the Psalms and the New Testament twice in one year.  It is a lot of reading, but there isn't a better way to really soak up the Bible.  However, this year I decided to try a new plan, to switch things up.  There were several plans that I looked at but one caught my eye more than the others.  It is called the "Bible Eater" plan.  Let me say I couldn't be more excited for this plan.  I haven't been this fired up for my daily reading in a while.  Maybe it is the change of pace or the freshness of a new schedule, but whatever it is I am pumped.  We must remember that if we do a reading plan, it can't become a burden.  It isn't something that we do so we can just check it off our list.  The whole purpose to read through God's word is to know Him better and see His character and so we know how to live lives that bring glory to Him.  The description of this plan starts by saying "God hasn't told us how often or how much we are to read of His word but he has told we need the Scriptures in order to live."  That is so true and relevant.  We live in a time where the authority and sufficiency of the Bible is disregarded. People want to hear from God and have God speak to them.  People are reading silly little devotionals that supposedly record Jesus's words to them. But God has spoken in His word and if we want to hear the voice of God, we need to open up our Bibles. God speaks through His word.  I am not against devotionals.  I read Spurgeon's Mornings and Evenings and there are many other very good devotionals, but for some reason people are looking for this new or fresh revelation from God as if the one He has given is not sufficient and it breaks my heart.  God's words are life to us.  We are told that man does not live by bread alone but every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.  If we want to be physically healthy we need to diet and exercise.  The same is true spiritually.  We need a good diet of God's word.  Paul told Timothy that, "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work." (2 Tim. 3:16).  In other words the Bible is sufficient for all that we will face in life.  We need to be feasting on the meal that God has provided for us.  One thing about this new plan that I am using is that it highlights redemptive chapters.  Of course every chapter in the Bible is important because every word is breathed out from God. But some chapters are more crucial in helping us understand the big picture and see the overall picture of God's salvation plan.  So there is special emphasis on certain chapters that highlight the promises of Christ and His coming and redemption etc.  Jesus said the Scriptures testify of Him and sometimes we have the tendency of reading without focusing on how the section we are reading is pointing to Christ.  This plan helps in some of those areas.  If you aren't reading the word daily, let me encourage you to pick it up and spend some time with Jesus.  Meditate on God's word and who Christ is.  Read it with fresh eyes, looking to see how the passage you are reading fits with the overall picture of the Bible.  Maybe a plan will help you or maybe it won't but one thing is for sure, "man does not live by bread alone but every word that comes from the mouth of God", so open up that treasure that the Lord has been left to His people!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Feliz Año!!!

Happy new year to all.  As I reflect on 2014, I would have to say the first thought or word that comes to my head is struggle.  It was a difficult year.  Difficult in the ministry, personally, spiritually, difficult in all facets of life.  Yet at the same time it was also such a sweet year.  It was a year where the Lord stretched and stretched but did not break us.  We experienced His grace like we have never before.  It was such an intimate time of fellowship with Jesus.  I learned things of Him, that I would never have known had it not been the year we went through.  I learned things of myself, that I had not known and even had blocked out because it was too painful to deal with.  I would never want to go back through the year we just went through, but at the same time I would not trade it for anything.  If 2014 was what God allowed us to go through to mold us and mature us.  It was so worth it.  We saw,  like I said,  His sustaining grace like never before.  I can not wait to see what Jesus does this year!

Upon returning from our two and half month furlough, we hit the ground running.  We had two choclotadas and running around getting things back in order with our house and seeing people and I preached a midweek service and our Christmas message.  It was so refreshing to be strengthened by the Lord to continue in what He has called us to do.  We missed Peru and the ministry so much.  It was great to see the growth of the church and the people.  Everyone who stepped up did an amazing job.  It just confirmed in my heart that the Lord doesn't need me.  It is His church and His ministry and we just to get to be part of it.

There were a few issues that I was not looking forward to when we arrived back.  There was one particular burden that over 2014 had been taking so much energy and was such a constant draining of myself.  During our time in the States, I remember just asking the Lord to deal with the issue.  Once again the Lord has shown Himself in wonderful ways.  Several days ago this one issue that had plagued me, the Lord removed.  I don't even have to start this new year dealing with this or worrying about it or trying to handle this.  The Lord is His infinite grace handled it for me.  I am so encouraged and refreshed.  I can't begin to describe the freedom that Christ has given me to start this new year.  That is not to say, that this year will be trial free.  That is not to say that the Lord will remove every hardship, burden or obstacle off the course.  In fact I think that this year could be just as hard if not harder than last year.  If it is, I can look back and see how the Lord delivered us through 2014 and have no doubt that He will sustain us for 2015.  But it sure is a good way to kick off 2015.

I am excited to see what the Lord does this year in us and through us.  I am excited to see what the Lord does through all His people and throughout the world.  A friend of mine on Instagram encouraged me to keep making Jesus famous in Peru.  I thought, "wow, what a call!  What a privilege!"  But you know what?  That is everyone's calling who is in Christ.  We are to tell the world about Jesus.  Not only missionaries and pastors are to glorify Jesus.  Whoever takes the name of Christ is to be His witness.  To testify of His works, His love, His grace, His mercy, His justice, His wrath, everything about Him.  People need to know about how great our Jesus is.  We are in tumultuous times and the answer to the world's problems is Christ.  Let's make Jesus famous in our lives in 2015.

Soli Deo Gloria