Why We Go “There And Back Again”
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…]
The Guatemala-Peru Connection
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 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…]
No Rest for the… um… Traveling Teacher
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
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!)
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?
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“The Hurrieder I Go…”
Denise 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
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
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:
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Celebrating the New Year God Has Given
Not surprisingly, everyone seems focused on the fact that a New Year is upon us. We present here some of our favorite New-Year-related poems and articles from the Finest of the Wheat website. God has given you a New Year—use it to His glory!
Speaking of the Wesleys, [click to continue…]
for His Coming
We've just released a powerful, unusual, and thought-provoking Advent message by Pastor Percy Gutteridge. Is it really an Advent message? Well, yes — sort of. It was delivered as the last in a series of several Advent messages. But it's about the Second Advent, that is, the Second Coming of Jesus, not the first.
More importantly, it's about what God longs to do for and in us in order to prepare us both for the Coming of Jesus and for dwelling in God's presence forever. What's the key? Holiness: The Preparation for His Coming, episode #27 of our Grains from Gutteridge podcast.
A Gutteridge Galore Thanksgiving
Grateful for a Godly Influence
The “outdoor cathedral” where I first heard Pastor Gutteridge teach – Yosemite Valley
Here in the United States, November is the month during which we celebrate Thanksgiving. In looking over my 63 years, I find that I am very thankful for the teaching, influence, guidance, and friendship of my “grandfather in the Lord,” Pastor Percy Gutteridge. My first clear memory of Pastor is the summer of 1969. He was the Bible teacher for our church's week-long high-school-youth-group campout in Yosemite Valley, California. I was only a year old in the Lord then, had been baptized in the Holy Spirit less than five months, and all things scriptural were new and wonderful. But this man's teaching – it was deep, yet simple; profound, but practical; and (as I learned subsequently in many years of personal Bible study) not often the sort of thing one was likely to find in books or commentaries.
As he did with some other young “Jesus Movement” pastors of that day, [click to continue…]
We Give Thanks with Hymns of Gratefulness
We give thanks to God for a fruitful year!
If you're too busy to be thankful to God for all of His blessings, then you're too busy! We of Finest of the Wheat Teaching Fellowship are grateful to God for a fruitful year that saw us ministering in Guatemala, Romania, Czech Republic, and central Virginia. We were blessed to be “about our Father's business” — Kingdom Business!
We're also grateful for our newly redesigned Finest of the Wheat website. There are still a lot of “rough edges” to fix; after all, around 500 pages were transitioned from a static-code site to a WordPress CMS (Content Management System). Remember what your “new” residence looked like the evening the moving men drove off in their truck? Boxes everywhere, key items temporarily “lost,” windows needing curtains — it takes a few weeks to get it all sorted out. We'll have the website “all sorted out” by [click to continue…]
- There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:
- The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.
- Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
- Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?
- Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
- That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
- Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
- The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
- Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be?
- Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?
- Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness.
- If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?
- And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.
- And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:
- That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
- For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
- For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
John 3 kjv [click to continue…]
his is a favorite theory many people. It is to be noted that it contradicts the two methods already spoken of, for if people expect “to grow into it,” it is a plain confession that they neither received it by being “born so,” or at their “conversion.” It is hardly worthwhile to take space here to show the large percent of professed Christians who hold to this theory, when they can be met almost anywhere, if one commences talking about full salvation. Properly speaking, this theory should be defined as gradualism. [click to continue…]
Sanctification Not Obtained by Growth
Not by works of righteousness which we have done.
eople who are not in the experience of holiness are often hindered and defeated in obtaining the blessing by seeking it in some impossible way. Satan helps them in this, for so long as he can so deceive them, he hinders them from having the experience. One of the most plausible of these deceptions is that one who is not holy may become holy by “growth.” [click to continue…]
“Speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward.”
“Go forward.” Death was behind Israel in the shape of the flower of the Egyptian army; or if not death, then slavery. They could not stand still.
The three disciples could not remain on the mountain of transfiguration; 1 there was need for them at the foot, where the throngs of needy men were congregated. 2
The eleven on the slopes of Olivet stood looking into the vacant heavens, where their blessed Lord had just swept through the clouds to His home at the throne. But they could not stay there, even while trying to retain the sweet memory of that wonderful vision. Jesus sent his angel to say to them, “Why stand ye gazing up into heaven?” 3 Nothing wrong in the loving gaze so far as that is concerned. But neither could they stay there. [click to continue…]
A Word Beforehand,
The Holy Way is now available as an e-book in the Kindle, Nook, and Kobo formats.
That the reader may “know the way of God more perfectly”; 1 have “life more abundantly”; 2 ever go forth with Jesus “conquering and to conquer”; 3 walk with Him “in white”; 4 and perfect “holiness in the fear of the Lord,” 5 have these lines been written.
If only one inquiring soul shall be helped; a bewildered one led into the light; a hungry one fed; an uncertain one established; an opposer won; or any blessed with full salvation, the author, and his words in these few chapters, will be blessed indeed.
Let the blessed Christ, who giveth us all things richly to enjoy, 6 have all the glory. [click to continue…]
Faith Is The Substance
Faith is not just the fuse of a spiritual explosion. It is more than the trigger to produce a sign and wonder. It is not just a necessary ingredient for a miracle. It is substance, in fact the substance that God created to be the pith and marrow of the true Christian life.
“Grandpa Jack” Mavros [left] and the author Summer 1968 Bible Teaching Conference Camp Seeley, Crestline, California (Photo courtesy Dennis and Patti Holland)
Faith was substance in Jack Mavros, one of God’s hidden saints, very few of whom are known to the established Christian circles of earth; but “Grandpa Jack” was known in Heaven. He worked as a cobbler in his own small repair shop in North Hollywood, California.
A friend of mine was in his shop one day, when in blustered a motorcycle gang member in his typical black leather jacket. He hit the counter with a pair of shoes and yelled out, “Clean these, ol’ man.” Grandpa Jack was not a cleaner of shoes, but a most able shoe repairer. He took up the shoes and cleaned and polished them beautifully, and then handed them back with his usual sweet smile.
“What’s the take, ol’ man?” asked the potential gangster. [click to continue…]