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…]
Looking Back at a Carrier — and Its Tugboats!
I’m reminded of a special “cruise” we took in 2008, right after my first missions trip to Guatemala. We were guests of Petty Officer Bruce Wasson (now pastor of Morningstar Church in Scottsville, Virginia) on a “Family and Friends Day” aboard his ship, the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Harry S. Truman. What a privilege to be out to sea, out of sight of land, on the deck as jet fighters were launched and recovered, to see one of these “birds” [continue reading…]
Rough Times in Country ‘X’
Leaders who couldn’t attend
the April gathering also received
their Bible dictionary
and one-volume commentaries.
It’s nearly Christmas! And I want to give thanks, to the Lord and to you, for the “Christmas in July” which a group of forty pastors in… well, let's call it “Country ‘X’” in Latin America… experienced this year. I’d like to keep them out of the limelight for security reasons, “just in case.” (But you can read more about their national situation in recent news, as well the murder of a pastor and [continue reading…]
The Giver and the Given
When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources,
Our Father's full giving is only begun.
God, as the Giver and the Given,
calls for us to give and be given.
As I was waiting on the Lord this morning, I was reminded that He asked me to give up three major things during my senior year of high school. (That was 49 years ago, if anyone is counting.) Although each thing requested seemed large and costly at the time, none of the decisions to obey was difficult or required a protracted inner struggle, because Jesus was my Lord. The cost was counted, and each transaction was [continue reading…]
Our “Plan A”
A man's heart deviseth his way:
but the Lord directeth his steps.
Proverbs 16:9 KJV
All any of us should want
is God's will for our life.
If things had gone according to “Plan A,” right now Denise and I would be just returning from a three-week teaching trip in Perú, having ministered to about 140 leaders in the cities of Lima, Jicamarca, Huánuco, and Chancay. There was one small problem with that – barely a tenth of the amount needed for travel came in. And so, since we're completely dependent on the Lord's supply for these trips, it was easy to determine that Jesus must have [continue reading…]
Denise and Jim at Iowa Holiness Association
Camp Meeting 2018
I do a lot of travel in order to teach the Bible. In the process of traveling and teaching I learn a lot. And I think what I learned while I was ministering in Iowa recently will give an important, additional focus to our ministry going forward.
It's only in the last four or five years of my overseas teaching that people have begun to think of me and treat me as a “missionary.” That label came as a surprise, because I hadn't thought of myself as a missionary, but rather as an itinerant teacher. Lately 95% of my teaching has been in foreign countries, so I've had little involvement with the spiritual needs of my fellow believers in the United States and Canada.
Context in the Cornfields of Iowa
Jim and one his favorite students
That's why my week of ministry as the Bible teacher at the annual Iowa Holiness Association camp meeting was such a wake-up call. I went there with a burden from the Lord: “Don't tell them what you do overseas; teach them what you teach there.” So, [continue reading…]
Yes, Best.Trip.Ever (Despite “Doing a ‘Denise'”)!
The mind of man plans his way,
But the Lord directs his steps.
His & Hers:
One friend accused us of taking the
“they two shall be one flesh” thing a little too far…
I probably shouldn't say this, because only God can judge the merits and results of a given missions trip. But right now, my post-Guatemala “high” is such that I want to call last month's Guatemala trip the Best.Trip.Ever!
This is despite the fact that I had two rather blatant spiritual attacks during the trip. One was a disconcerting bout of dizziness and related vision problems as soon as I arose from my seat after the plane taxied to the gate in Guatemala City. The other, as many of you know, was the pratfall I took on the first day of teaching at the pastors' retreat. (I missed a step down.) The results of my face-plant were [continue reading…]
Marathon Leg #2: Nicaragua
The mind of man plans his way,
But the Lord directs his steps.
…and that's just what we did!
“The hurdles? Jim, last I heard, your analogy for the 50-day Spring Olympics was the marathon.” Yes, well, somebody altered the rules and started putting up hurdles (guess who!?) and even a detour (guess who again!) throughout our Nicaraguan adventure last month. As my dad used to say, “That ain't kosher!” After last month's round of spiritual warfare, it was to be expected, right?
Nevertheless God blessed and that trip is now stamped and filed as “Primary Mission Accomplished.” Here are the hurdles and what the Lord did to help us jump them.
Hurdle #1: No concordances delivered, but…
Pastor Norlan addresses the pastors
about the upcoming study-book distribution
Pastors Nelson Cardenas
& Norlan Avila
helping prep the books for distribution
Remember when we [continue reading…]
The first portion of my “Spring Olympics” marathon is in the heavenly record books. Honduras played out differently than I had thought, but even better than I could have planned. I’ll give you a report on that and cover an “Olympic event” that gets very little “sports coverage” — wrestling, specifically the “Sidewalk Smackdown.” (Spoiler alert: Sidewalk: 1; Denise: 0.)
Marathon: Part 1: Honduras
Before we consider this wrestling event in the Spring Olympics, let me report on how “Leg One” of the Spring marathon turned out. This marathon portion was run in Honduras. It didn’t turn out anything [continue reading…]
The Honduras Event
“Run in such a way
that you may win!”
What's that you say? There are only Summer and Winter Olympics, and the Winter Olympics just finished. If only you knew! There's the Kingdom Olympics, where we “compete” to honor the Lord, by doing “my utmost for His highest.” (Thank you, Oswald Chambers, for that unforgettable phrase!) Thus, under the counsel of Coach Paul (1 Corinthians 9:24-27) and the discipline of the Holy Spirit, I've been training for my “events.”
I will be doing a “marathon” of sorts all through Spring, traveling about 50 of the 90 days of the season [continue reading…]
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:
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).
- 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!)
Flag 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.
Pastors' 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…
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 [continue reading…]
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?)
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 [continue reading…]