28 February 2021
For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come. 9This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance. 10For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe.
1 Timothy 4:8-10 nkjv
My next-door neighbor, despite being Virginia born and bred, is a lifelong New York Yankees baseball fan. This morning he and his family left for Florida so that he can fulfill a long-held dream of watching the Yankees during their Spring-training camp. (Of course, there’s also the small matter of visiting a Florida-based great-grandchild — their first!)
My neighbor’s neighbors (that would be Denise and me) are in “spring training,” too, but it’s not nearly so glamorous as swinging bats, snagging line drives, and signing autographs for fans. Yes, assuming we can qualify for the medical-travel requirements this Spring, the missionary/teaching travel season will be upon us before we know it. To that end, we are in “spring training” and keeping busy.
Physical Fitness: “Bodily Exercise Profits a Little…”
“Physical fitness”? Am I taking the “spring training” analogy too far? Not at all. After all, Paul tells Timothy that “bodily exercise profits a little” (1 Timothy 4:18). Three months every year “on the road,” teaching abroad, hopping planes, long truck rides over rough roads, living out of suitcases, and teaching as much as six to seven hours per day — it all takes a physical toll, and more so as I grow older.
With that in mind, we are protecting our physical fitness, staying up to date on our annual physicals and all of the resulting poking, x-raying, and scanning those visits indicate. We also have a daily walking regimen. As of the 27th of this month, I have logged over 220 miles (~354 km) for 2021 already, pounding the pavement in all weather, and I’ve lost 11 pounds since January 1st. Plus, these walks give us opportunities to pray together, discuss what we’ve been thinking about in our personal Bible reading and meditation, and talk through our writing and editing challenges.
“But Godliness Is Profitable for All Things…”
But walking is just part of the physical daily training routine. On an uninterrupted morning, I’m up before dawn to write and study (currently working mostly on the manuscript for The John the Baptist Experience). The rest of the morning is taken up in waiting on the Lord, followed by Bible reading (to stay current with my personal reading regimen), including about 30 minutes of reading “en voz alta” — i.e., out loud — in my Spanish Bible. (You see, I have to keep my pronunciation “exercised,” too!)
Speaking of Spanish, the morning “exercises” usually conclude with nearly an hour of vocabulary review and language study — Spanish (of course), and NT Greek (because of a course I hope to start teaching near the end of the year), and OT Hebrew (which, until recently, has been “Greek to me,” if you’ll pardon the pun). Almost every week I meet virtually with Inés, my Spanish “coach,” to work on my many fallas y debilidades (faults and weaknesses) in Spanish. (However, our current “class project” is working line by line through the new Spanish translation of Percy Gutteridge’s Logos & Rhema.)
The rest of each day is spent in correspondence, counseling phone calls, prepping teaching outlines and materials for various upcoming venues, and focusing on various writing, editing, and publishing responsibilities, along with other special projects. Come 9 p.m., I’m “exercised out” and ready for bed!
24Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win.… 27I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.
1 Corinthians 9:24,27 nasb
Muscle Growth & Workout Reports
Probably the biggest cause of “muscle growth” in the past seven months has come from the “workouts” of seeking the Lord to know His mind about how to allocate the relief funds you have so generously provided for Latin America. Here are several “workout reports”:
Nicaraguan sisters receiving food and supplies
at the banquet4
- Nicaragua & the Managuan pastors’ widows: Regular readers will recall the burden we’ve had for the widows of the 24 Nicaraguan pastors who died of COVID-19 last year. Our December gift was a large part of the donations used by their denomination leadership for more food and household supplies, as well as a special banquet for them and their families, honoring their fallen spouses. My Nicaraguan missionary contact in Managua, Bonnie Hernandez says, “Please express our generosity to all those who gave.” She tells me that a number of the widows have stepped into their husbands’ roles and are now pastoring and serving in the same pulpits. Keep “exercised” in prayer for them, please!
- Perú: Our friend, Pastor Ernesto Javier Ambicho of Huánuco, Perú wrote a few weeks ago asking for prayer because he had come down with the COVID virus. No funds were needed or sent, but I’m happy to report that the Lord answered His people, and Ernesto has come through his ordeal and is regaining his strength.
- Guatemala #1: Sister Rut, a young lady we helped with medical expenses a few months ago, wrote to me (in excellent English!) to report that the doctors tell her that her situation is much improved. Praise the Lord!
…you know that young pastores Wilder y Venesa Hernández have foremost in their hearts the salvation of souls. It reminds me of the words of missionary hero C.T. Studd:
Of church or chapel bell;
I want to run a rescue shop
Within a yard of hell!”6
- Guatemala #2: Yesterday I texted Guatemalan superintendent Atilio Chávez to let him know that we were sending the money for Pastor Edwin’s surgery momentarily. (Previously you had provided the funds for Edwin’s diagnostic work.) Atilio and his wife Gladys called me from Guatemala IMMEDIATELY to keep me from hitting the “send” button. Another organization had contacted them just the day before, promising to send the full amount today; and they accepted the offer. So we’ll have to share the blessing of helping Edwin with someone else, while we go back to the Throne to see who else gets blessed!
- Guatemala #3: A dynamic young church plant is winning souls in Guatemala City’s “Zona 18” (“San Luis”), despite being in a high-crime area. At last count, their children and youth alone already number nearly 60. The national leadership has felt led to “go out on a limb” and take out a short-term mortgage equivalent to US$22,000 for land on which to erect a permanent church home. If you’d like to help with this take-it-to-the-streets Gospel outreach, we’ve set up a fund to help them pay off that mortgage quickly. They are looking in faith to the Lord to make this possible.
Weight-Lifting in Our Publishing “Home Gym”
Here are some other quick milestones from this month’s “workout” records:
to a deeper level, you should learn
to “pull the trigger”!
on our website and as a Kindle ebook
and (soon, we hope!) a paperback.
- As promised in the last newsletter, we have completed and published on our website Pulling the Bible’s “Mnemonic Triggers”. (The Kindle version should be available within a week of the time you receive the newsletter.) This is actually a little “side snippet” excerpted from my The John the Baptist Experience manuscript (see below).
- We have bench-pressed a few more drafts in the process of preparing The Feasts of the Lord: God’s Calendar of Prophetic Events by Percy Gutteridge, and still expect to publish it in March before the next newsletter.
- For those of you who are praying for me as I wrestle through the writing of The John the Baptist Experience manuscript — thank you! Some very serious and substantial progress has been made this month in a subject I’ve been deeply studying for many months.
- Through March and into early April, Lord willing, we will be doubling down on getting the paperback version of New Testament Holiness to print by late April. This weighty and wonderful spiritual classic, written by a layman for laymen, has been an eye-opening, burden-lifting blessing to almost everyone who reads it.
As always, everything mentioned above (with the exception of The John the Baptist Experience, which is only half complete7) is freely available on our website.
So that’s “spring training” for our teaching ministry. And since right now I’m “sweating” a bit over whether I can get this newsletter out before month’s end, I’ll sign off. Thank you for your exercise of love, prayer, and financial support. Missions is a “team sport,” after all, so thanks for being part of the squad!
Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.
1 Corinthians 9:25 nasb
Much love in Jesus as we strive together for the imperishable wreath,
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- The photo used by this ‘Spring Training!' title image, a photo of a man and woman hiking, is courtesy of Hilde Demeester on Unsplash ↩
- Photo by Denise Kerwin, who, given the age of the photo, may have been tutored by the famous photographer Mathew Brady. (And, yes, there’s only one “t” in Mathew’s first name.) ↩
- This graphic links to the video on the Asambleas de Dios of Nicaragua Facebook page, and comes courtesy of missionary Bonnie Hernandez. ↩
- Photo courtesy of missionary Bonnie Hernandez ↩
- Photo courtesy of Atilio and Gladys Chávez ↩
- Photo courtesy of Atilio and Gladys Chávez ↩
- Even so, we have posted two samples from The John the Baptist Experience “Deeper Dives” appendix section: Pulling the Bible’s “Mnemonic Triggers” mentioned above, and Greater Works Than These. ↩