21 January 2023
18“Do not remember the former things,
Nor consider the things of old.
19Behold, I will do a new thing,
Now it shall spring forth;
Shall you not know it?
I will even make a road in the wilderness
And rivers in the desert.”
– Isaiah 43:18-19 nkjv –
Once is a happenstance. Twice is probably a coincidence. But three times? Hmm. Receiving a word three times may mean that the Lord is trying to get our attention. In less than two weeks, from three different people (none of whom knows the other two, but all three have track records of hearing God) we have received this word — “I will do a new thing.”
I’m well aware that “I will do a new thing” is a stock phrase in well-meant, but uninspired, man-conceived prophecies. I also know it’s a favorite text for New Year’s messages, from both pulpit and page. This is different; this resonates. “By the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established” (2 Corinthians 13:1b).
What does it mean for Denise and me here and now? I have no idea! In the past, “a new thing” has meant:
- Leaving a beloved church fellowship;
- Having to pull up stakes, so to speak, and move to a different part of the country (California to Georgia, Georgia to upstate New York, and New York to Virginia);
- Being led into teaching pastors and leaders in Latin America;
Spending weeks away from home in a Spanish-language immersion school;
- Attending grad school;
- Writing and publishing my first book;
- Starting this unique ministry, Finest of the Wheat Teaching Fellowship, with the encouragement of friends and the sovereign leading of the Lord.
So we’re seeking God, listening carefully, and trying to make certain our hearts are open to however / wherever / whenever the Lord is leading. But as you’re praying for us, keep this in mind — because a “new thing” is a new thing, it’s often hard to recognize it for what it is. Being creatures of habit and pattern, we’re comfortable with “the former things… the things of old.” We expect a wilderness to be path-less, not to discover God’s road in it. We expect a desert to be dry and desolate, not to find God’s river flowing through it!
Updates from Latin America
…and on with the new metal roof.2
Let me share some praiseworthy news from our brothers and sisters in Latin America. For this edition, we’ll concentrate on Guatemala.
- Rut Chávez (Coatepeque, Guatemala) sent me an encouraging report about how their church re-roofed their building. Years ago, when the building was expanded upwards to create Sunday School space, the church had recycled the existing roofing sheets in order to save money. But time and tropical weather have taken their toll. The church has slowly been raising money, and God stretched the gifts they had given so that they could re-roof the entire upper floor with good metal roofing material.
- As for Rut herself, we’ve been praying for her health (serious thyroid-related issues) for quite some time. Here is her praise report:
I praise the Lord for He has been healing me; since the beginning of 2023 I’ve felt much better.
Some of the changes (visible ones) that I have noticed are: I can walk longer distances. Every morning we go on walks to a green area near our home and I don't feel easily tired anymore. I am able to do more things at a time, like cooking and taking care of the birds at home. I am also not feeling pain as often as in 2022. (Last year I would spend whole days in pain and unable to move.)
God has provided enormously. I have medicine for months in advance and he has provided for all the laboratory exams and doctor appointments.
Right now the doctor is treating the headaches I get. He prescribed a medicine for the oxygenation of the brain. My daily meds have been reduced from 9 a day to 3 a day. He has been faithful. Thank you so much for praying for me. God is working and will complete the work he has started in my health.
- Another report, also from Guatemala, is about the slow recovery of Pastora Carolina de Cojtín. Readers might remember she and her husband were nearly killed in a head-on motorcycle collision with a drunk driver back in May, just before I visited. Her husband, Pastor Giovanni Cojtín, just sent me this update. (Apologies for any translation errors.)
Thank God, [Carolina] is now moving, talking, and doing some more activities. But her headaches are still affecting her, so we have to have a CT scan to see what is causing it, and to see if the fluid on the brain situation continues. She still continues to be treated by the neurologist.
The long-term prognosis is still hydrocephalus, and the lack of control of the nerves that connect to the cerebellum as it becomes inflamed.
Thanks to you, my brother, for your spiritual and moral support and in everything through which you have supported us.
Please continue to pray for these dear brothers and sisters who follow and serve the Lord wholeheartedly.
Here are six quick notes about where we stand on our various active writing and publishing projects:
- Messiah’s Missing Months and the Magi was completed and posted on the website, but Christmas travel and activities took so much time that it never appeared in e-booklet format. That will happen sometime between now and November, before the Christmas 2023 season, Lord willing. There’s no rush for a Christmas e-booklet in January, is there?
- Logos y Rhema, our Spanish translation of Percy Gutteridge’s very helpful Logos and Rhema message, was posted on the website, and now exists in unpublished e-booklet format — but only available to the translator, Inés María González Valdés, and me. We’re working our way through the new format, trying to track down any final typos. Nevertheless, there’s a good chance that Logos y Rhema will be published on Amazon by early February.
- Speaking of Pastor Gutteridge, Denise and I have been laboring over the editorial alchemy involved in transforming Percy’s message Why Revival Tarries from audio to transcription, from transcription through the multiple drafts required to refine it into a free web article, culminating in an e-booklet on Amazon’s Kindle format. Hope? End of January. Reality? Probably mid-February.
- Returning to the subject of translation: In the last two newsletters, I teased (but did not name) another project. The Spanish version of my book The Rejected Blessing (La Bendición Rechazada) was started too many years ago by Pastores Fermin and Lilian Chávez (yes, they’re Rut’s parents); but I was never certain how to deal translationally with the bibliography and the 54 endnotes, so the project sat idle. Lately Inés and I have finished working our way through the biblio (¡gracias, Inesita!), and we hope to have the footnotes completed before the end of February, allowing online posting and e-book publication before the Ides of March. It would be a bonus-points blessing to have a paperback copy or two to take with me to Guatemala in May!
- A lot of “can’t show the results yet” research and study have gone into the work on Book 2 of The John the Baptist Experience. Meanwhile, my goal is to web-publish a chapter from Book 3 before month’s end — The Secret of John’s Appeal.
- We’re blessed and encouraged by initial thoughtful, enthusiastic reviews and responses to Book 1, The Exceptional Messenger. Take a peek at what other readers of this newsletter are saying about it.
As Christians we share much in common, including always being in need of clear leading, understanding, and provision from the Lord. We appreciate your prayer support!
- In one month a new superintendent will be elected over the Guatemalan churches and pastors which I serve. Our dear brother Atilio Chávez has served this office with Christlike humility, distinction, diligence, soul travail, and great fruit over the last 16 years. (Perhaps longer. He’s been the “super” since at least my first visit in 2008.) The two choices put forward by the conference leadership are Jorge Perez and Victor Manuel Santos, both veteran pastors in the conference. Either man will need great grace to fill the role, because Atilio “deja un hueco difícil de llenar” (“leaves a hole difficult to fill,” the Spanish equivalent of “leaves big shoes to fill”).
- Missions and other teaching trips for early 2023. Three? four? five? trips are in various stages of “almost” coming together between now and the end of May. The saints in Guatemala came close to chastising me last May because I didn’t bring Denise along to minister. I’d love to do just that, but trip costs might be as high as $2500, and would have to be prayed in.
- Our ongoing translation work.
- Continued reviews and distribution of The Exceptional Messenger from The John the Baptist Experience series. I’m not concerned about sales, but I do care about getting this message from the Lord out to a wider audience.
- Writing of The Extraordinary Message, Book 2 in that same series. Sometimes there’s a temptation to be discouraged when I sit up and realize, “I’ve spent two months delving into the Greek and taking notes, but I haven’t written anything new yet!”
- The ability to see, understand, and respond to “the new thing” towards which the Lord seems to be leading us. We need Him to open the right doors (and our eyes!), make the right connections (not the easiest thing for us), and supply abundantly.
We thank God for your prayers, support, friendship, and interest!
Much love in Jesus,
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- The New Thing graphic is my own. The plant background of the graphic is one of the photos I took during the pastors’ retreat near Retalhuleu, Guatemala in 2022. ↩
- Photos provided by Rut Chávez. ↩
- Photo provided by Fermin and Lilian Chávez ↩
- Photo provided by Giovanni Cojtín ↩
- The cover of The Rejected Blessing was created by Bro. Murry Whiteman, whose wonderfully illustrated book, A Man Like No Other: The Illustrated Life of Jesus, I highly recommend. ↩
- Photo of Jorge Perez was provided by Jorge’s family. (Sorry I had to crop you out, Emy! Jorge always smiles better when his arm is around you!) ↩
- Photo of Victor Manuel Santos is mine (cropped from a group shot I took last year). ↩