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Mulling Milestones, Pondering Peanut Butter

Mulling major milestones

The world says that “time flies when you're having fun.” Yes, time is passing swiftly, but for a Christian walking in the ways of the Lord, that “flying time” affords the perspective and opportunity to see multiplied examples of God's faithfulness. As this new year starts, I am filled with thankfulness over the milestones that 2018 is bringing:

  1. A beautiful brideProverbs 18:22

    Our 46th wedding anniversary. As we greet January 29th, “suddenly” Denise and I are within four years of our 50th wedding anniversary! “Whoever finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord” (Proverbs 18:22).

  2. My 50th spiritual birthday: My soul's sentiments are best expressed in Charles Wesley's anniversary song. (Follow the link to one of my favorite hymns if you dare!)
  3. Flag of GuatemalaFlag of Guatemala

    Guatemalan 10-year anniversary: Last week it suddenly struck me-my first visit to Guatemala was in 2008. Lord willing, this May will see my 9th visit to teach these sold-out-for-Jesus leaders.

  4. Bible-study book set for pastors in Quilalí, NicaraguaPastors' Book Sets

    36 book sets ordered! Remember The Sacred Treasure House Initiative? Six months later, just this past week, we sent a check for almost $3,700 to the Nicaraguan Bible Society via the American Bible Society for the Nicaraguan pastors' reference books. As the Lord supplies for travel (see below), I will be delivering these books on April 20th and training the leaders in their use. Add these to books in hand and 40 leaders will have their first Bible-study library.

Thank you to those who pray for us and our family. Thank you to those who have prayed for me over the years as I travel. And thanks to you who contributed towards the blessing of these books for pastors. I don't give thanks enough for being allowed to successfully challenge leaders in developing countries to read and and study and marinate in and devour the Scriptures…

…To wake 'em up, shake 'em up,
Teach 'em truth, and when [click to continue…]

Yesterday, Today, Forever

A.B. Simpson
(1867-1951)

Jesus Christ the same
yesterday, and to day, and for ever.
Hebrews 13:8

Oh, how sweet the glorious message simple faith may claim:
Yesterday, today, forever, Jesus is the same!
Still He loves to save the sinful, heal the sick and lame,
Cheer the mourner, still the tempest—glory to His name!

Chorus:
Yesterday, today, forever, Jesus is the same,
All may change, but Jesus never—glory to His name!
Glory to His name! Glory to His name!
All may change, but Jesus never—glory to His name!

[click to continue…]

Snapshots from Perú

How Are They Alike?

Here's a Peru question for you: What do these three men have in common – the son of a Japanese immigrant, a young American missionary, and a former Marxist guerrilla? Answer: They all love the Lord Jesus and each one pastors a church where we ministered in Peru. Another question: What do the three of them have in common with you? Answer: You helped make ministry to their leaders possible!

Listening to the teaching in Lima

Thank you for [click to continue…]

O Master, Let Me Walk with Thee

Washington Gladden
(1836-1918)

O Master, let me walk with Thee
In lowly paths of service free;
Tell me Thy secret; help me bear
The strain of toil, the fret of care.

Help me the slow of heart to move
By some clear, winning word of love;
[click to continue…]

Christians, Awake! Salute the Happy Morn

John Byrom
(1691-1763)

Christians, awake, salute the happy morn
Whereon the Savior of the world was born!
Rise to adore the mystery of love
Which hosts of angels chanted from above;
With them the joyful tidings first begun
Of God incarnate and the Virgin’s Son.

Then to the watchful shepherds it was told,
Who heard the angelic herald’s voice: “Behold, [click to continue…]

Thanks to God for My Redeemer!

August Ludvig Storm
(1862-1914)
translated by
Carl Backstrom
(1901-1984)

Thanks to God for my Redeemer,
Thanks for all Thou dost provide!
Thanks for times now but a mem’ry,
Thanks for Jesus by my side!
Thanks for pleasant, balmy springtime,
Thanks for dark and stormy fall!
Thanks for tears by now forgotten,
Thanks for peace within my soul!

Thanks for prayers that Thou hast answered,
Thanks for what Thou dost deny! [click to continue…]

22 Down, 15 to Go as We Go to Peru

Not Too Hurried to Be Thankful!

Yes, we're time-crunch busy in getting ready to leave for Perú next week, and, yes, more funding for that trip would be a blessing, and, yes, I need to be spending time on preparation of our new teaching modules. (Sleep is overrated anyhow, right?)

BUT!

The three books in the Bible-study set for Quilalí pastors, Spanish versions of Strong's Concordance, Matthew Henry's Commentary and a Bible dictionary.

The three books in the Bible-study set for Quilalí pastors

How can we go running off to Perú in nine days without expressing a profound THANK YOU to all of you who have given towards the Quilalí pastors' reference book project?! If you'll recall, I shared about this back in July when I wrote about The Sacred Treasure House Initiative. (Check that link for the background.)

There are 37 pastors (representing over 50 churches, since not a few are responsible for more than one church), in the region of Quilalí, Nicaragua who don't have basic Bible-study tools in Spanish. And by basic, I mean:

  • A Strong's Concordance for simple look-up and elementary word studies in Hebrew and Greek;
  • An illustrated Bible dictionary for background. (Who were the Assyrians? Where's Jericho? What's an ephod? When did Solomon reign?)
  • A one-volume commentary to shed a little light on difficult Bible passages.

To the best of my knowledge, none of these brothers has been to [click to continue…]

Guatemala Report: Return on Investment!

An Encouragement from Jorge

Pastor Jorge Pérez

Pastor Jorge Pérez praying

As I was preparing to depart for my Honduras teaching trip in late July, I was surprised and blessed by a short, simple, and encouraging e-mail from Pastor Jorge Pérez in Guatemala. The fruit of all our investment of time, travel, teaching, money, and resources in Guatemala — including pastors' basic Bible study books; laptops; powerful, lightweight travel projectors for their teaching assignments; and helping to send the Guatemalan leadership-training team abroad — was summed up in that email:

I desire that God would give you a good teaching time in Honduras, and that the pastors there become lovers of Bible reading, just as it happened in Guatemala.

You and I have invested a lot in Guatemala over the last nine years. Have you ever asked yourself what return we're getting on the investment?

[click to continue…]

The King of Love My Shepherd Is

Henry Baker
(1821-1877)

Psalm 23

The King of love my Shepherd is,
Whose goodness faileth never;
I nothing lack if I am His
And He is mine forever.

Where streams of living water flow,
My ransomed soul He leadeth,
And, where the verdant pastures grow,
With food celestial feedeth. [click to continue…]

Flame of God

Amy Carmichael
(1867-1951)

From prayer that asks that I may be
Sheltered from winds that beat on Thee,
From fearing when I should aspire,
From faltering when I should climb higher—
From silken self, O Captain, free
Thy soldier who would follow Thee.

From subtle love of softening things,
From easy choices, weakenings, [click to continue…]

Honduras Report: Eating 81 Elephants

¡Un Viaje Exitoso (A Successful Trip)!

Antonio Rodrigeuz, Jim Kerwin, Javier Cruz

With translator Antonio Rodríguez [L] and Superintendent Javier Cruz [R]

Thanks for praying! I’m back from almost two weeks in Honduras and the “prayer umbrella” was apparent every day — divine appointments, new friendships, unction in teaching, excellent translators, safety, perfect health, and lots of energy. Even two “almost missed” flight connections were just that — only “almost.” But the greatest success of the trip may be measured within a year’s time by the number of “elephants” eaten. Let me explain.

Hermeneutics and Elephants

When I visit these Latin American countries, the initial invitations center around teaching hermeneutics, a fancy word that can be boiled down to this: learning how to read, study, preach, and teach the Scriptures in context. We spend time in the first seminar defining and demonstrating many aspects of context — text, history, language, culture. But my overriding goal is to have the pastors and leaders remember two things: [click to continue…]

Thy Word, O Lord, Like Gentle Dews

Carl Garve
(1763-1841)
translated by
Catherine Winkworth
(1827-1878)

Thy Word, O Lord, like gentle dews,
Falls soft on hearts that pine;
Lord, to Thy garden ne’er refuse
This heavenly balm of Thine.
Watered by Thee, let every tree
Then blossom to Thy praise,
By grace of Thine bear fruit divine
Through all the coming days.

Thy Word is like a flaming sword, [click to continue…]

“Wear a Bulletproof Vest”

Crazy? Guilty as Charged (I Hope!)

Map showing location of Honduras in Latin America

Where in the world is Honduras? (Map courtesy of Operation World)

Almost two months ago, once the dates were set for my first trip to Honduras, I asked missionary friend Bobby Hoyle of LendAHand Mission Teams if he had pointers about how to prepare for for my journey. “Yes,” said Bobby, who has been there. “Wear a bulletproof vest!” He was only partially in jest.

Image of bulletproof vest

Yes, you can buy them on Amazon…

Now I don’t own, nor am I going to buy, a bulletproof vest. But it was Bobby’s way of saying that Honduras is a violent place. The United Nations ranks the country as having one of the highest murder rates in the world — 91.4 homicides per 100,000 people. (For comparison, the same report places the USA at 3.00-4.99 per 100,000 and Canada in the 0.00-2.99 range.)

“So why are you going? Are you crazy? Well, yes, of course I’m “crazy” — I’m a follower of the Lord Jesus! I’m not brave or bold or macho; I’m going because the King is at work in Honduras, and He has called me to help His Church. I’m going in order to train pastors and leaders, men and women who are making a difference in the world, ministers who are part of the Kingdom advance that has raised the percentage of evangelicals in Honduras from around 10% of the population in 1975 to a projected 30% by 2025. I’m going to a country where half the population of over 8 million is under the age of 18. [click to continue…]

A Miner's Tools

TOOLS. If you forced me to distill my recent ministry trip to Nicaragua into a single word, that would be the one I'd choose — tools. Let me explain.

Shortly after I was born again (July 31, 1968 – almost 49 years ago!) at age 16, I became an avid Bible reader. I learned that the words of Edwin Hodder's hymn were true:

Thy Word is like a deep, deep mine;
And jewels rich and rare
Are hidden in its mighty depths
For every searcher there.
 
Miners need basic tools to pursue their mining activities — a pick, a shovel, and a wheelbarrow, at the very least. Desiring to be a “Bible miner,” I discovered that the basic tools of mining the “jewels” of God's truth were:
  • An exhaustive Bible concordance;
  • An illustrated Bible dictionary; and,
  • A one-volume Bible commentary.

One of my new Christian friends pointed me to Sacred Treasure House, a small Christian bookstore in the town where I lived.

Sacred Treasure House, Costa Mesa, California

My old stomping grounds — Sacred Treasure House —
where I purchased all of my early Bible-study tools.
(Source: Costa Mesa Historical Society. Used by permission.)

Many of my part-time-job paychecks were spent [click to continue…]