≡ Menu

Tools: The Sacred Treasure House Initiative

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…]

Thy Word Is Like a Garden, Lord

Thy Word Is Like a Garden, Lord

Edwin Hodder
(1837-1904)

Thy Word is like a garden, Lord,
With flowers bright and fair;
And every one who seeks may pluck
A lovely cluster there.

Thy Word is like a deep, deep mine;
And jewels rich and rare
Are hidden in [click to continue…]

The Elvenking’s Blessing

Why We Go “There And Back Again”

Jim Kerwin's battered copy of the Hobbit

My tattered copy of The Hobbit

It’s surprising the multitude of sources of inspiration the Holy Spirit can use. An unusual quote has guided a lot of my praying for ministry, especially over the last eight years of missions trips.

After the climactic battle in J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit, the victorious survivors (including, thank goodness, our hero Bilbo Baggins) journey together to their respective homes. Coming to a place where the Elven host turns off for the palace in Mirkwood, the Elvenking's farewell to Gandalf, like a benediction, has always captured my imagination. Here are his words as they are underlined in my delapidated, fifty-year-old hardback copy of the classic:

“May you ever appear where you are most needed and least expected! The oftener you appear in my halls, the better shall I be pleased!”

Thus I often find my heart expressing itself before the Throne in almost those exact words: “Lord, please [click to continue…]

New Web Hosting Provider!

We changed web hosting providers over the weekend, so if you could not access our sites for a few hours, the change is probably the reason.

Lord, Enthroned in Heav’nly Splendor

Lord, Enthroned in Heav’nly Splendor

George H. Bourne
(1840-1925)

Lord, enthroned in heav’nly splendor,
First begotten from the dead,
Thou alone, our strong Defender,
Liftest up Thy people’s head.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Jesus, true and living Bread!
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Jesus, true and living Bread!

Here our humblest homage pay we,
Here in loving rev’rence bow;
Here for faith’s discernment pray we, [click to continue…]

Burn, Fire of God!

Burn, Fire of God!

L. F. W. Woodford

Burn, fire of God! my ransomed soul possessing;
Pure fire Thou art, and I would dwell in Thee.
Light of my life, true source of every blessing,
Grant all my days one holy flame to be.

Burn, fire of God! Thy grace and glory knowing,
My cleansèd heart shall be all fire within—
Love all constraining, tenderness o'erflowing,
One kindling passion other lives to win.

Burn, fire of God! Thy cloven tongue bestowing,
Baptizing me with heavenly energy. [click to continue…]

Unmailed Postcard #3 – The Guatemala-Peru Connection

The Guatemala-Peru Connection

Spanish-Speaking Spouse?

Map of Central and South America

Guatemala to Peru: What's the link between the two?

What were those strange noises coming from Denise in the kitchen? At first, I couldn’t make it out. Was she muttering to herself? Speaking in a tongue? Having a breakdown? Well, yes, yes… and yes, sort of, if you count “breaking down” sentence structure as a “break down.”

It turns out that she was beginning to practice Spanish, using a conversational Spanish book that’s been in our library for a long time. I was thrilled because it shows her level of commitment to our upcoming Perú trip (10/26-11/9), and Spanish practice bodes well for her return visit to Guatemala in 2017, Lord willing.

Our upcoming Perú trip will be exciting, no doubt, but perhaps not as exciting to me as another recent Peruvian training trip. Why? Because that recent 2 Timothy 2:2 training trip was the work of Guatemalan leaders!

Guatemalan “Go Ye” Gusto

Pastor Victor Manuel Santos Pacheco

Pastor Victor teaching in Palacagüina, Nicaragua

I’ll tell you a bit about my April ministry in Guatemala in the next “postcard.” But here’s the thing about these guatemaltecos (Guatemalans) – they not only hear, but they do! Guatemala has the potential to be a full-fledged Latin American “Antioch,” sending missionaries and trainers across Latin American borders and even overseas. Consider some of their recent activity: [click to continue…]

Unmailed Postcard #2 – Nicaragua Weekend

No Rest for the… um… Traveling Teacher

02-Nicaraguan-Cathedral-Postcard-300x200

A Nicaraguan postcard. Of what? No clue!

There must be a Nicaragua for tourists, but I have yet to see it. (That postcard cathedral image you see — I have no idea what or where it is in Nicaragua!)

That's not a complaint, mind you. It's just that these teaching trips I take usually require going “full speed ahead,” even on anticipated days off. Schedules and venues change on the fly. The ability to follow the Spirit's leading, and “go with the flow” adaptability, are the key survival tools. The Lord works out all the details. The report in this “postcard” is a good example.

2nd Postcard from Nicaragua

April 9-10, 2016

02-UML-President-Rojas-Talavera-260x195

UML President Rojas-Talaveras

A weekend off. You're kidding, right?

Bobby Hoyle had set up an early Saturday morning breakfast with Dr. José Moisés Rojas Talavera, president of UML / Universidad Martín Lutero (Martin Luther University), a Pentecostal undergrad school in Managua. Later that morning, I introduced the subject of hermeneutics to 79 UML students in a packed classroom on campus. (Oh, by the way — you only have 90 minutes to give your five-hour presentation. Adapt!)

02-UML-Classroom-300x155

A portion of my class at UML

Over lunch (from the school kitchen) several of the young leaders picked my brain for two hours. What other subjects could I come back to teach? Since I have a master's degree in Biblical Studies, what grad-school courses could I lead?

[click to continue…]

Holiness unto the Lord

Called unto Holiness

Leila Naylor Morris
(Mrs. C. H. Morris)
(1862-1929)

“Called unto holiness,” church of our God,
Purchase of Jesus, redeemed by His blood;
Called from the world and its idols to flee,
Called from the bondage of sin to be free.

Chorus:
“Holiness unto the Lord” is our watchword and song,
“Holiness unto the Lord” as we’re marching along;
Sing it, shout it, loud and long,
“Holiness unto the Lord,” now and forever.

“Called unto holiness,” children of light,
Walking with Jesus in garments of white;
Raiment unsullied, nor tarnished with sin;
God’s Holy Spirit abiding within. [click to continue…]

Unmailed Postcard #1 – Nicaragua

“The Hurrieder I Go…”

00-Postcard-Collage-300x200Denise and I were praying and brainstorming yesterday about our upcoming teaching ministry in Perú (Oct. 26-Nov. 9) when it hit me – there are some “postcard reports” that I have meant to send out about the ministry trips to Nicaragua, Guatemala, Iowa, and California earlier this year. Alas, my life is proof of the old saying, “The hurrieder I go, the behinder I get”!
You've been faithful to pray, so please allow me to send some brief “postcard” newsletters about these recent ministry trips.

Postcard from Nicaragua

April 3-8, 2016
Some of the pastor and leaders at the Quilalí sessions

Some of the pastor and leaders at the Quilalí sessions

Bobby Hoyle, head of LendAHand Mission Teams, and I headed off to Nicaragua early Sunday morning, 4/3. After a day of travel on Monday 4/4 and connecting with our Guatemalan teammates, we spent Tuesday and Wednesday teaching over 50 pastors and leaders in Palacagüina. My job was to introduce the subject of hermeneutics (the art and science of studying and preaching the Scriptures in context).

Thursday and Friday we taught 83 pastors and leaders in Quilalí (same subject, but second module in the series), where there's always such a hungry and appreciative response. Then we traveled the long road back to Managua, the capital of Nicaragua.

A Highlight of the Week

Pastor Nelson and two of the pastors he supervises

Pastor Nelson and two of the pastors he supervises

The first night in Palacagüina, I fellowshipped with Pastor Nelson (of Quilalí) for two hours – almost entirely in Spanish! Much of our discussion centered around the need of pastors in his area to obtain basic Bible-study tools – concordances, Bible dictionaries, and one-volume commentaries, (in Spanish, of course). The good news – we can get these three volumes for pastors for about $60 per set (a savings of 60%). The challenges:

[click to continue…]

The Eternal Goodness

The Eternal Goodness

John Greenleaf Whittier
(1807-1892)

O friends! with whom my feet have trod
The quiet aisles of prayer,
Glad witness to your zeal for God
And love of man I bear.

I trace your lines of argument,
Your logic linked and strong;
I weigh as one who dreads dissent,
And fears a doubt as wrong.

But still my human hands are weak
To hold your iron creeds: [click to continue…]

Join All the Ransomed Sons of Grace

Hymns for the Watch-Night (#11)
Join All the Ransomed Sons of Grace

Charles Wesley
(1707-1788)
John Wesley
(1703-1791)

Join all the ransomed sons of grace,
The holy joy prolong,
And shout to the Redeemer’s praise
A solemn midnight song.

Blessing and thanks and love and might
Be to our Jesus given,
Who turns [click to continue…]

Ye Virgin Souls, Arise!

Hymns for the Watch-Night (#10)
Ye Virgin Souls, Arise!

Charles Wesley
(1707-1788)
John Wesley
(1703-1791)

Ye virgin souls arise,
With all the dead awake,
Unto salvation wise;
Oil in your vessels take,
Upstarting at the midnight cry,
“Behold the heavenly Bridegroom nigh!”

He comes, He comes to call [click to continue…]

Come, Let Us Anew

Hymns for the Watch-Night (#9)
Come, Let Us Anew

Charles Wesley
(1707-1788)
John Wesley
(1703-1791)

Come, let us anew
Our pleasures pursue;
For Christian delight
The day is too short; let us borrow the night!
In sanctified joy
Each moment employ
To Jesus’s praise,
And spend, and be spent, in the triumph of grace. [click to continue…]