Christians, awake, salute the happy morn
Whereon the Savior of the world was born!
Rise to adore the mystery of love
Which hosts of angels chanted from above;
With them the joyful tidings first begun
Of God incarnate and the Virgin’s Son.
Then to the watchful shepherds it was told,
Who heard the angelic herald’s voice: “Behold, [click to continue…]
August Ludvig Storm
Thanks to God for my Redeemer,
Thanks for all Thou dost provide!
Thanks for times now but a mem’ry,
Thanks for Jesus by my side!
Thanks for pleasant, balmy springtime,
Thanks for dark and stormy fall!
Thanks for tears by now forgotten,
Thanks for peace within my soul!
Thanks for prayers that Thou hast answered,
Thanks for what Thou dost deny! [click to continue…]
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 [click to continue…]
An Encouragement from Jorge
Pastor Jorge Pérez praying
As I was preparing to depart for my Honduras teaching trip in late July, I was surprised and blessed by a short, simple, and encouraging e-mail from Pastor Jorge Pérez in Guatemala. The fruit of all our investment of time, travel, teaching, money, and resources in Guatemala — including pastors' basic Bible study books; laptops; powerful, lightweight travel projectors for their teaching assignments; and helping to send the Guatemalan leadership-training team abroad — was summed up in that email:
I desire that God would give you a good teaching time in Honduras, and that the pastors there become lovers of Bible reading, just as it happened in Guatemala.
You and I have invested a lot in Guatemala over the last nine years. Have you ever asked yourself what return we're getting on the investment?
[click to continue…]
From prayer that asks that I may be
Sheltered from winds that beat on Thee,
From fearing when I should aspire,
From faltering when I should climb higher—
From silken self, O Captain, free
Thy soldier who would follow Thee.
From subtle love of softening things,
From easy choices, weakenings, [click to continue…]
¡Un Viaje Exitoso (A Successful Trip)!
Thanks for praying! I’m back from almost two weeks in Honduras and the “prayer umbrella” was apparent every day — divine appointments, new friendships, unction in teaching, excellent translators, safety, perfect health, and lots of energy. Even two “almost missed” flight connections were just that — only “almost.” But the greatest success of the trip may be measured within a year’s time by the number of “elephants” eaten. Let me explain.
With translator Antonio Rodríguez [L] and Superintendent Javier Cruz [R]
Hermeneutics and Elephants
When I visit these Latin American countries, the initial invitations center around teaching hermeneutics, a fancy word that can be boiled down to this: learning how to read, study, preach, and teach the Scriptures in context. We spend time in the first seminar defining and demonstrating many aspects of context — text, history, language, culture. But my overriding goal is to have the pastors and leaders remember two things: [click to continue…]
Thy Word, O Lord, like gentle dews,
Falls soft on hearts that pine;
Lord, to Thy garden ne’er refuse
This heavenly balm of Thine.
Watered by Thee, let every tree
Then blossom to Thy praise,
By grace of Thine bear fruit divine
Through all the coming days.
Thy Word is like a flaming sword, [click to continue…]
Crazy? Guilty as Charged (I Hope!)
Where in the world is Honduras? (Map courtesy of Operation World)
Almost two months ago, once the dates were set for my first trip to Honduras, I asked missionary friend Bobby Hoyle of LendAHand Mission Teams if he had pointers about how to prepare for for my journey. “Yes,” said Bobby, who has been there. “Wear a bulletproof vest!” He was only partially in jest.
Yes, you can buy them on Amazon…
Now I don’t own, nor am I going to buy, a bulletproof vest. But it was Bobby’s way of saying that Honduras is a violent place. The United Nations ranks the country as having one of the highest murder rates in the world — 91.4 homicides per 100,000 people. (For comparison, the same report places the USA at 3.00-4.99 per 100,000 and Canada in the 0.00-2.99 range.)
“So why are you going? Are you crazy?” Well, yes, of course I’m “crazy” — I’m a follower of the Lord Jesus! I’m not brave or bold or macho; I’m going because the King is at work in Honduras, and He has called me to help His Church. I’m going in order to train pastors and leaders, men and women who are making a difference in the world, ministers who are part of the Kingdom advance that has raised the percentage of evangelicals in Honduras from around 10% of the population in 1975 to a projected 30% by 2025. I’m going to a country where half the population of over 8 million is under the age of 18. [click to continue…]
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.
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…]
He's Off Again…
Those of you who read our last newsletter (The Elvenking's Blessing) will remember Jim's request, “Please pray that what we teach in our upcoming teaching and discipling time in Nicaragua and Guatemala will be what's “most needed,” and, in the sense of deep heart needs, “least expected.”
National Palace, Managua, Nicaragua
The urgency of the needed prayer is now upon us. As this arrives in your inbox (May 5th) Jim is en route to Nicaragua. There he will be part of a team ministering to pastors in two out-of-the way locations, Quilali and Ocotal. But before the rest of the team even arrives, Jim will be making some strategic connections, solo, in Managua. Please pray with us for divine appointments, for facility in Spanish, for sensitivity to the Holy Spirit, and for ministry in and of the Lord – He is the one who touches hearts and lives with the reality of His empowering and life-giving Holy Spirit.
“Home” Defined by Mark 10:30
Map of Guatemala
Nicaragua is a fruitful field with many new friends, yet it isn't quite “home.” But in two weeks, we can say, “Estamos en casa” (“We're home”) — in Guatemala. [click to continue…]
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…]
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