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