8 May 2023
A Misstep and a Watery Threat
- 37Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. 38He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.’”
- John 7:37-38 nasb
Even though the Guatemalan pastors threatened to throw me into the pool during my visit last year, I’m returning to them in ten days to be the Bible teacher at their three-day conference / retreat (May 25-27). In their defense, I should note that their threat was made in good humor, that it arose in part from their hunger for the Word, and… well, perhaps I deserved it by inadvertently teasing them.
Let me rewind this story to last May 2022. Honestly, I don’t remember how the subject of John 7:38 came up briefly during last year’s teaching on Soul and Spirit. For some reason I touched it in passing, noting that when Jesus said, “As the scripture has said,” that there was no verse in the Old Testament from which He was quoting. As I flipped to the next passage in my Bible, I mentioned that I had been taught the answer to this seeming enigma decades before. When the pastors asked to know the explanation, I realized my mistake — going down that side-path would take us many miles from our subject, preventing me from finishing my teaching topic. When I told them that we’d have to look at that another day, um, that’s when the pool-threat came!
Finding a Verse “That’s Not There”
During the years that Pastor Gutteridge visited our first church (1970-1977), we met in the Costa Mesa (California) Women’s Club facility. When we started to be overrun by our own young children, we also rented the Costa Mesa Girls’ Club right next door for Sunday School.3
To put this in a greater context, let me super-fast-rewind the story back more than fifty years, taking our “Way-Back Machine” to Sunday, January 28, 1973 (which, as it turned out, was the day before Denise and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary). One of my two fathers in the Lord, Percy Gutteridge, had come to teach at our small fellowship — always a great blessing! — to preach both morning and evening — double the joy! He delivered two messages that I have never forgotten. In the morning he taught on Rivers of Living Water from John 7:38. I was four-and-a-half years old in the Lord at that time. Every time I had come to Jesus’ words, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water” I could never find where the Scripture said that, try as I might.
Imagine my surprise when Pastor Gutteridge, this great Bible teacher, said to us, “I looked for years and years and years for that Scripture, but I couldn’t find it.” Then he asked the congregation if any of us had looked for it. I raised my hand, surprised that mine was the only one that went up. Percy asked me, “Did you find it, brother?” to which I sheepishly replied, with no little embarrassment, “No.” Imagine my greater surprise when he replied, “That’s good, brother. Because it’s not there!” Then he went on to teach us the Old Testament basis of Jesus’ words, and it all made perfect sense.
Readers: Please Don’t Throw Me in the Pool!
When the original edition of Faith Is Substance appeared in 1975, it protected many of us from faith fads, fallacies, and fanaticism. We were blessed to be able to re-release this book in 2019 on the 110th anniversary of Percy’s birth.
When we announced this article months ago, I mentioned that it covered the subject of Moses’s sin. Now you know when the seed was planted!
You may be ready to “throw me in the pool” now when I tell you that I won’t be sharing the answer here. It’s too long; it won’t fit in the newsletter. But since this is one of the three or four topics I will be covering this year in Guatemala, rest assured that I have my teaching notes almost finished, and that from them will come an article, probably towards the end of June this year.
Fast-forward, not quite to the present day, but to, say, September 2022. Those of you who follow our website closely know that for over 15+ years we have put considerable effort into making Pastor Gutteridge’s messages available, as transcribed articles (both on our website and as Kindle e-booklets), and audio files (mostly at our other website, KernelsOfWheat.org); we’ve even re-released his book Faith Is Substance. We obtained the main corpus of his audio messages, but every so often others contact us, saying, “Hey, we’ve found an old cassette tape of one of Pastor Gutteridge’s messages. Do you have this one?” I received such an inquiry from our California friends, Larry and Joan, about several cassettes they had discovered. I can’t tell you how excited I was when their proffered short list revealed a two-sided double-message cassette — Side 1: Rivers of Living Waters; and Side 2: Moses’ Sin. (Notes on the cassette label helped me to deduce the exact date of those double-header messages, by the way.)
Larry digitized those messages and sent them to me. But I didn’t listen to either at first. Why? Because I was busy writing about what the Lord had opened to me about Moses’ sin (in On the Brink of Failure?, available on the website), and I didn’t want to “plagiarize” anything from my mentor. Of what Pastor Gutteridge had “planted” through that message a half century ago, how much had the Lord made it my own?
Not a little, as it turns out! Once that article was completed and published, then I listened to Percy’s 1973 message, Moses’ Sin. I found (much to my amazement) that I had remembered most of the important points of that wonderful message from two-thirds of a lifetime ago. But the Lord had opened other facets of the passage to me. The planted “seed” had become its own “tree.”
Guatemala: This Month’s Mission Trip
Whether what I plant in Guatemala this month will be as memorable to and fruitful in my brethren, only the Lord knows. Nevertheless, I will have the pleasure of fulfilling my promise to teach on John 7:37-39, to cover the subject of Moses’ sin as a lead-in to James 3, and to finish up with one other important subject (which will fill the last full day of teaching). I fly away on Thursday, May 18th and (because ticket prices are much higher around the American Memorial Day weekend), I won’t return to the States until nearly midnight on Wednesday, May 31st.
In addition to the pastors’ retreat proper (May 25-27, as I already mentioned), that time frame allows me two weekends to minister in various churches (Sunday, May 21, and my following birthday Sunday).
And some of those might be new churches (at least to me), since the “baton” of the superintendency of the Guatemala churches has passed from Atilio Chávez to Walter Almarás. Wherever they use me, it’s hard to believe that I’ve been teaching in Guatemala almost every year since 2008!
The Lord graciously provided for this trip during our teaching visit to Florida last month. (The Holy Spirit honored the teaching on the First Epistle of John at the seminary all day April 15, and on Thomas’ revelation in John 20:28 on April 16, by blessing many. Thank you for praying!) Please pray and trust with us for the Lord to cover our regular expenses while I am away and Denise is “minding the fort.”
Publicaciones en Español
We have only one new publication to report, but the timing of its appearance couldn’t be better. La Bendición Rechazada (the Spanish translation of my small book The Rejected Blessing) received its finishing touches and was published to the website in April. It may take a few more months before it appears in paperback.
Meanwhile its existence allows me to take digital copies of this and our two other Spanish translations — Percy Gutteridge’s The Gospel of the Glory (El evangelio de la gloria) and Logos & Rhema (Logos y Rhema) — on my Guatemala trip and have the files passed out to any pastors who might want to read them.
Prayer Focus: Guatemala Ministry Trip
If you would share the prayer burdens of my heart this month, the focus is (no surprise!) the upcoming Guatemala trip:
- For wisdom in preparing the teaching materials, and a blessing on those who will help me translate them.
- For inspiration in knowing the word of the Lord to share in each church I visit, as well as “tuning” the pastors-retreat teaching in “perfect pitch.”
- For “the gift of tongues,” by which I mean — inspired help in speaking what Spanish I already know. That’s always a concern, since I have so few opportunities to speak Spanish between trips to Latin America. Just a few nights ago I had an annoying dream in which I was trying to teach, had a complete vocabulary/memory lapse, and couldn’t find a translator! The dream “woke me up” again to the ongoing language challenges and inadequacies I feel on each trip.
- For traveling mercies, and especially for protection and provision for my wife Denise while I’m gone.
Thank you for your encouragement, prayers, and ongoing support. I can’t wait to share with you next month what God does on this trip!
Much love in Jesus,
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- Photo for the title image is by Clark Tai on Unsplash. ↩
- Photo of Pastor Gutteridge provided by the Gutteridge family ↩
- Photo of the Costa Mesa Women’s Club from their official website. ↩
- Guatemalan photos are courtesy various other Guatemala pastors. ↩