Big Milestone: I Turn 17 (for the Fourth Time)
28 May 2020
In Guatemala, the birthday boy gets to help
pass out the cake…
…but sometimes they make him wear
a small silly hat on his large pointy head!
A fondly remembered special birthday lunch
with Atilio and Gladys Chávez
This feels… odd. I’m spending today, my birthday, at home. Why is that so strange? Well, usually at this time of year, I’m in Latin America, most frequently Guatemala, and some hermanos wind up singing “Feliz cumpleaños a ti.” I’ve got birthday-party pictures from multiple years to prove it. Just to change things up a bit last year, I spent 20 hours of my birthday flying from Guatemala City, Guatemala to Lima, Perú by way of Atlanta. (Shortest route? Absolutely not! Cheapest? You bet, and we’re all about making donations stretch as far as possible.)
I haven’t traveled now for nearly two and a half months. Am I disappointed? No way! Do I miss the [continue reading…]
29 April 2020
Being “stuck indoors” could be
a blessing in disguise…
Yes, yes, but what about your spiritual
Often God’s blessings come in disguise — the disguise of a closed door, financial reverses, the loss of a loved one, the termination of a job, a move away from friends. Usually it’s only in retrospect that we see the Lord’s hand working in us through what transpired. It’s then that we see afresh that “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28 nasb). That’s one of those verses that is easier to quote “after the fact,” and much easier when someone else is “going through it”!
Do we [continue reading…]
27 March 2020
God is still on the throne,
Almighty God is He!
And He cares for His own
Through all eternity.
Leadership potential aplenty in Trojes, Honduras
“El Salvador declares a national
in-home quarantine for 30 days.”
We were able to leave El Salvador and Honduras just in time, before the borders closed!
Thank God that not all the news is “coronavirus news.” The King of the Kingdom is still in control and carrying out His purposes! I bring back good news of blessing from my recent missions trip. I got home from Honduras not a moment too soon — praise God for His sovereign timing! Less than a week after my return home, the infamous coronavirus started closing borders, first El Salvador and then Honduras. Another mercy: Although I left on the trip with a head cold, I came back healthy, and have continued so.
“Shelter in place”? “Shrinking economy”? “Social distancing”? God used this trip to grow [continue reading…]
The Pieces Come Together
7 February 2020
The challenge: trying to check-off the items as fast as the list grows!
Maybe you’ve never thought about it. How does a missions trip come together? A trip like the one I’m about to take to Honduras and El Salvador doesn’t just “happen.” I can’t just show up and have folks say, “Hey, Jim’s here. Let’s gather the pastors for some teaching meetings.” So please let me share a few insights from this upcoming Honduras trip (February 20-March 6).
15 December 2019
“Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse” here at home. Denise is still in Florida (for reasons I’ll explain in a minute), from whence I just returned. We have much for which to be thankful and much to anticipate.
A Paper-Plate Thanksgiving
“Grandma” and Chase
Yes, we had a paper-plate Thanksgiving in Florida with our daughter and her family. Oh, we enjoyed the usual holiday menu, so don’t feel sorry for us. It’s just that there was so much going on in preparation for our new grandson’s arrival that there wasn’t time to spend on “fancification” or clean-up. Completion of a multitude of pre-baby tasks was the priority of the day.
It must have worked! We are giving thanks to God for the first birth that we’re celebrating in this newsletter, Grandson #2 [continue reading…]
29 October 2019
To everything there is a season,
And a time for every purpose under heaven.
— Ecclesiastes 3:1 NKJV —
Here in the Northern Hemisphere, it's autumn.
Do you know what season it is
in your spiritual life and ministry?
In His wisdom, our Creator not only established seasons in the natural world, but also seasons in our earthly lives and our spiritual experiences. It takes some life experience in the Kingdom to appreciate the value of God-appointed seasons. Sometimes it requires the Holy Spirit’s fruit of patience and God-given wisdom, so as not to “hurry” a season along; a season is as long as God knows it needs to be. And having willingly submitted to God’s seasons and their appointed lengths, perhaps the best of all is the ability to enjoy the season through which we are passing.
…A Time to Heal…
Copyright © 2019
An excerpt from the forthcoming book
The John the Baptist Experience
In prophecy, when do deer walk
and when do they leap?
When the imprisoned John the Baptist sent two of his disciples to Jesus, he had one question in mind: “Are You the Expected One, or do we look for someone else?” (Matthew 11:3 nasb)
Jesus didn’t answer them directly at first. He believed in “show and tell,” and Luke tells us what John’s two disciples saw with their own eyes:
At that very time He cured many people of diseases and afflictions and evil spirits; and He gave sight to many who were blind.
With the long day’s ministry over, the Lord approached John’s two representatives.
Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and report to John what you hear and see: the blind receive sight and the lame walk, [continue reading…]
A Busy Month in the “Work Zone”
25 September 2019
Teach me, my God and King,
In all things Thee to see,
And what I do in anything
To do it as for Thee.
— George Herbert —
“‘Work zone’? Didn't we use to call that
a dining-room table?”
What does a missionary teacher do when he’s not traveling abroad? (As you know, I’ve been sidelined a bit for medical reasons.) Well, it’s been a busy, productive month doing work that other people can’t see… just yet. The Lord can see it, and if He’s pleased, we’re happy. There’ve been “housekeeping” issues that have been left undone for a long time. This hiatus from travel has afforded the opportunity to catch up, starting with some long-overdue vascular “plumbing.”
Surgeries “in Vein”
The Passage of Time
22 August 2019
Crown Him the Lord of years,
The Potentate of time,
Creator of the rolling spheres,
The Eternal One has His appointed times!
Since the last newsletter, I celebrated the 51st anniversary of giving my life to Jesus. In the scope of eternity, 51 years isn’t even a blip on the radar scope. But such milestones provide a moment for reflection and thanksgiving for the goodness of God, and sober us when we consider the end of earthly life is approaching faster than we realized.
Part of preparing for eternity, as well as serving in the “now,” is in reviewing the things He has taught us. One thing I’ve learned in 51 years is that knowing the will of God for any given situation isn’t nearly as challenging as knowing God’s timing. It’s God’s marvelous timing I’d like to share about this month.
“My Times Are in Your Hand”
My times are in Your hand.
— Psalm 31:15 NASB — [continue reading…]
This tapestry? Tourist stuff!
But God's tapestry is a weaving for eternity!
16 July 2019
Normally I’d feel more than a bit frustrated getting this “June” newsletter out so late. Instead, with all the health challenges I’ve faced since returning from Perú, I’m very thankful to send this off at last! There’s at least one blessing in the delay: The “lost” time has afforded the opportunity to step back and get a better perspective of God’s artistry in bringing together so many different threads to make a rather intriguing Peruvian tapestry.
Threads of Unexpected Colors and Origins
A “Flying” (Literally!) Report from the Field
28 May 2019
I can't quite remember how many birthdays I've spent while teaching in Guatemala!
I’m dashing this off during a layover in the Atlanta airport. I’ve just finished 11 days of ministry in Guatemala and I’m spending this, my 67th birthday, on a 20-hour marathon journey, flying a “dog leg” flight path (via Atlanta) from Guatemala City to Lima, Perú. (It’s cheaper to go “the long way,” and we’re all about being good stewards.)
Anyway, the verse that best sums up what the Lord has done in the last month — the days leading up to departure, the teaching, and the interactions in Guate — seem best summed up by one of my favorite verses about Jesus: “He has done all things well” (Mark 7:37a).
Despite what it says on the bucket —
Let's Not! (Oops — too late!)
“What did you say? I can't hear you over the fan noise!”
If “April showers bring May flowers,” what do April leaks bring? Squishy carpets and domestic discombobulation, that’s what!
This is the “April” newsletter, but the deadline, um, leaked into May. This late edition got a bit waterlogged, so to speak! Apparently, just a few hours after we left for a granddaughter’s birthday and some ministry in Florida on April 10th, we had an upstairs pipe start leaking. Water has this God-given nature of wanting to flow downhill. In our case, “downhill” meant through the wall, and through our downstairs ceiling, into our entryway, living room, and dining room. The situation would have been worse, but our Christian neighbor, Donna C., caught the problem before it gave Noah’s Flood a run for its money.
Such fun to come home to! After our carpet was cut out and trashed, and the bathroom floorings and cabinets were removed, 11 noisy fans and 2 large de-humifiers ran for four days to dry the place out. Much of our living space consists now of bare concrete floors, and [continue reading…]
Oh, the Irony!
Does your “fuse” get blown, too? Not a little modern teaching on faith seeks to “electrify,” but winds up being simply “shocking.” Let us point you to something that's far more “grounded”!
Irony is something I’ve learned to savor, even if it is somewhat bittersweet at times. Consider this unexpected reaction from a reader…
Twice a week on our ministry’s Facebook page, we share a link to “things old and new” on our website. Usually on Thursdays we share a hymn or devotional poem; on Mondays we share a link to a Bible-teaching article (or, once a month, our current newsletter). The response has been encouraging and the “Likes” for the page have grown. (By the way, have you “liked” our page on Facebook yet?) So far, so good, but…
For the last five weeks or so, we’ve been sharing chapters from Percy Gutteridge’s classic, foundation-laying book Faith Is Substance. Most folks who’ve taken the time to read it have found it liberating and enlightening. But one commenter really “gave us an earful,” lumping us together with “freaks” who are pushing semi- [continue reading…]
Fruit, More Fruit, Much Fruit in Guatemala
Fruit, more fruit, much fruit
Have you noticed what happens when God answers prayer? Answered prayers generate the need for more prayer! This is part of God’s design for us to grow in our fruitfulness, responsibility, and Christlikeness. It moves us along the “fruitfulness spectrum” that Jesus laid out for us: First “fruit” (John 15:2b), then “more fruit” (John 15:2c), and finally “much fruit” (John 15:5,8). And notice how this “fruit” passage intersects with prayer — “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples” (John 15:7-8).
When what we pray in Jesus’ name receives an answer from the Father, we aren’t allowed to pause too long and [continue reading…]