Saturday, March 29, 2008
And yet, God is faithful. Once again, I see God’s power in the fact that He can use you for His purpose, while still training you to do His will. Given the language barrier I will have with the youth, I am reminded, this time in a much deeper way, of the importance of leading by example and showing the teenagers how a Christian should live. A sobering thought this is to me. When these teens look at this young, new American visitor, will they see a living, breathing Jesus Christ?
Now my mind races with ideas, fears, questions, and doubts. But I must surrender them all to my Lord and venture out into this new, yet familiar territory He has placed me in. Pray for me. Pray for the teens. Pray for the church.
Brother Randy and I are seeking a national, someone here in this church, who would be willing to take on the responsibility of leading this group of young people. He has asked me to put together some materials for training a youth pastor/leader and then he will be asking some men in the church to attend a training meeting I will teach. I am also working towards teaching a youth Sunday School class on Sunday mornings. I pray that they’ll be able to understand through my Spanglish and learn to have a real, living relationship with Jesus.
Pray to this end:
1. That I will be a help to the youth ministry here at Faith Baptist
2. That I will be a living example of Jesus to the teens
3. That God will raise up a youth pastor here at the church
4. That God will give me the wisdom to teach through the language barrier
5. That when I leave in June, the youth ministry will be able to carry on without me.
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Thanks for all the prayers concerning my sermon tonight. Everything ended up going really well. At first it looked like there would be problems because I couldn't print up my notes on our printer here at home and didn't have time to take it somewhere to print it up. My computer was almost out of battery power and I couldn't put my notes on my Pocket PC. But God was in control and everything worked out as I took my computer to the church, plugged it in, and preached off of my notes straight from my computer :o) So thank you al very much and now I'll be starting on my all-Spanish sermon. I've got over two months to finish that one though. Praise the Lord for all of His mercies!
The Power of Prayer
Sermon – March 23, 2008
Introduction: Buenas tardes. Bienvenidos a la casa de Dios esta tarde. ¿Es un placer a estar aqui, no? Amén. En esta tarde, yo tengo un mensaje por todos de nosotros, pero ya perdóneme. Yo no estoy acustombrado a predicar sin preocupación de la tiempo. Cuando yo fui en universidad de la Biblia, nuestro profesor nos enseñó a predicar entre 20 y 30 minutos. Por que en los Estados Unidos, si predico mas largo que 30 minutos, todo la gente empiezan a mirar a la reloj, y quieren a salir, etc. Pero he visto aquí que alguien se puede predicar por un hora o mas. Y eso me gusta, pero no se si yo puedo predicar asi. ¿Me entienden? Ahora mismo estoy preparando un mensaje que quiero predicar completamente en Español – solamente a la gloria de Dios, verdad? – pero a Hermano Jose Luis yo dije que necesito mucho tiempo para prepararlo. Asi que, por hoy, si me permiten, voy a predicar en Ingles y Hermano Diego va a ayudarme, ok?
Today I would like us to study together on the topic of prayer. I don’t want to say that I am going to preach to you about prayer, because this message is really the result of something that God has been teaching me personally. I believe that a study of prayer is something that we approach differently than other studies. What I mean is that we already know much of what the Bible teaches on prayer, but our need is to do it. We do not need more knowledge about prayer; we need more time on our knees in prayer. However, every time that I have studied the Bible’s basic teachings on prayer, I find myself realizing more the importance of prayer, and spending more time in prayer. What we will be doing tonight is just reading through and thinking about the many aspects of prayer. The title of our study tonight is the power of prayer. We desperately need to understand the power of prayer. Therefore, in our study this evening, I want us to look at three aspects of prayer – the principle of prayer, the practice of prayer, and the priority of prayer. So before we begin, let’s go to the Lord in prayer and ask for His wisdom as we seek to know His Word.
I. The Principle of Prayer
What is prayer in its most basic sense? Why should we believe that God would give us something we asked for? Let’s see what the Bible says about prayer…
A. Lk.11:5-8,9-13; Matt.7:7-11
Explanation: In this passage we see two illustrations of prayer given to us by Jesus Himself. The first is that of a friend. Jesus says, “How many of you who had a friend in need would leave him to himself and not give him what he asked?” The answer is obvious – None of us would. The next illustration is even more powerful. It is so powerful, in fact, that it is repeated in another passage of Scripture: Matthew 7. Now, just as a side note, whenever the Bible repeats something, that means that God really wants us to pay attention to that point. For example, whenever Jesus wanted to introduce a truth about God or His kingdom, He would begin by saying, “Truly, truly, I say to you.” And in fact in all of the Bible, there is only one thing that is ever repeated three times, and that is they saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God of Hosts”. So when God repeats this passage in another of the gospels, It is so that we will pay special attention to it. This is the illustration of a parent to a child.
Illustration: Now tell me this, please. How many of you have children – raise your hand. How much do you enjoy giving good things to your children? It doesn’t matter to you if it is a big thing of a little thing, right? You enjoy to give gifts that make your children happy. This passage says, “Pues si vosotros, siendo malos, sabéis dar buenas dádivas á vuestros hijos, ¿cuánto más vuestro Padre celestial…?”
Explanation: Look now at Psalm 2, verses 7 and 8. How powerful is prayer? Read passage. Here God says that He will give up to the farthest parts of the earth. And don’t miss why. Verse 7 says, “Thou art my son.” God, our Heavenly Father, loves to give good gifts to us, if we only ask them of Him.
Explanation: But I want us also to notice another important passage of Scripture. Look at what God tells us in James 4. Verse 2 tells us that we have not because we ask not. But notice also verse 3. Sometimes we do not receive what we ask for because we are asking for the wrong thing, or for the wrong reason.
Illustration: Let’s think once again of the illustration of a parent to a child. I’m sure you parents have had times where you couldn’t give your children what they asked for. For example, maybe your 7 year-old son would like to have a gun or maybe a pocketknife. In that case, you as a parent probably would not give your son what he wanted. Why? Because your son sees something he would like to have and he thinks it would be fun to have it; but you know better than he does and you know that it would be dangerous for him to have it. So it is with our Heavenly Father. He loves to give us things we ask for. But ultimately, He knows what is best. And we’ll talk about this a bit more at the end of our study today.
Explanation: Look now at John 14, verses 13-14. Jesus tells us here, “Y todo lo que pidiereis al Padre en mi nombre, esto haré, para que el Padre sea glorificado en el Hijo.” In his life on earth, Jesus was always trying to bring glory to His Father. And so He does when He answers our prayers.
E. I Jn. 3:22
Explanation: Look also at I Jn.3:22. Here Jesus gives us another condition for praying effectively. He says again that He will answer our prayers, look, when we are doing what is pleasing to Him.
Illustration: Once again, we return to the illustration of parents. As much as you like to give gifts to your children, you’re not going to reward them when they are in disobedience to you, right? It is like when you are eating dinner and your child wants candy. What do you say to him? “You can’t have any candy until you have cleaned your plate, like I told you to.” Right? Again, we will talk about this a bit more at the end of our study.
Explanation: Now, to finish up the principle of prayer, I want to show you two very encouraging things. The first is in John 15:7,16. When you receive an answer to your prayers, that is evidence that you are abiding in Christ, just as Christ was abiding in the Father. Jesus said, “I am the vine and you are the branches. Without me you cannot bear fruit.”
G. I Jn.5:14-15
Explanation: The second encouragement is in I John chapter 5. Read passage. When you receive an answer to prayers, it is an evidence that you are a child of God. The book of First John was written entirely for this purpose – that you may know that you have eternal life. If you ever go through a time in your life when you begin to doubt that you are truly a Christian, read and pray through the book of First John. You will find there 15 evidences of a child of God.
Transition: So we have seen in these passages the basic principle of prayer. We must ask in order to receive. God wants to answer our prayers because we are His children. And we must be in obedience to Him in order to receive answered prayers. Once again, remember that there is great power in prayer! Let’s look now at the practice of prayer.
II. The Practice of Prayer
How exactly do we pray effectively? This is a question that many Christians ask, and it is a very good question. In fact, Jesus’ own followers asked Him the same question. Let’s look at several passages that teach us specifically HOW to pray.
Explanation/Application: This is probably the most well-known of all passages on prayer, because it it followed by what we call “The Lord’s Prayer”. But we need to notice some very important things here. First of all, is the element of privacy. Jesus says, “When you pray, go into your closet.” The idea he is trying to communicate is that our prayers are only between God and ourselves. Now Jesus said this to His disciples because they were used to hearing and seeing the Pharisees pray. Now as you know, Jesus often had problems with the Pharisees. They were the religious leaders of that day, but all of their religion was external. They did not love God, they loved themselves. They did not seek God’s glory, they sought their own. Jesus called them cleaned-up tombs. He said they looked good on the outside, but they were dead inside. The Pharisees, when they prayed, would stand on the steps of the temple and pray loudly, in long, extended prayers of meaningless words, and it was all just for show. It was so that others would see and think that they were good, holy men. Jesus said, “Do not pray like them”. He said, “Pray in secret, because your Father sees in secret, and He will reward you openly. Now think about it. When do you pray? Do you only pray in church, when the pastor asks you to pray? Or are you on your knees every day, before your Father in heaven, asking for His guidance and direction for the day? If not, then your prayer life is just like that of the Pharisees. Jesus reminds His disciples, “Your Father already knows what you need before you ask Him. Let’s look quickly at another passage to prove that.
1. Jn.16:17-29 (19,23,24) – The disciples wanted to ask Jesus something, but He already knew it; again, He says ask the Father in My name and He will give it to you; so far you have not asked in my name; ask so your joy may be full – like a parent.
Explanation: See here, in verse 19, they were confused about what Jesus said and they wanted to ask, but were afraid to. Jesus answers their question before they ask. Then notice again in verses 23 and 24, that they had not asked for anything in Jesus’ name. And again, like a parent, Jesus says that He will answer so that their joy might be full.
Explanation: Next let’s look at Luke chapter 18. Jesus gives us an example here of the attitude with which we must pray. The Pharisee in this passage came to God with pride and self-righteousness. And the sinner came to God in humility. What did Jesus say about these two men and their prayers? “Os digo que éste descendió á su casa justificado antes que el otro; porque cualquiera que se ensalza, será humillado; y el que se humilla, será ensalzado.”
C. Lk.18:1; I Ths.5:16
Explanation: Notice also two other passages. Both of these passages tell us the same thing. That we ought to pray at all times. Now, does that mean that we walk around all day with our head bowed and eyes closed, talking aloud to God, and we tell our friends, “Don’t talk to me; I’m praying.” Of course not. These passages teach us to live our lives in an attitude of prayer. I believe that is to live our lives with the recognition of God’s presence. It means that we go to Him all throughout the day as if He were there walking with us. “God, what should I do with my day that you have given me? Father, how should I answer the questions that this person is asking me about you? Lord Jesus, give me the courage to go and tell this person about You.” This is what it means to pray without ceasing.
D. Mat. 21:21-22
Explanation: This next passage is the area of prayer that god has been teaching in my life recently. Read passage. When you pray, do you really believe that God will answer? Our next passage will explain this more. But look once again, Jesus says whatever you ask in prayer, believing, YOU WILL RECEIVE!
>>> How many times does the Bible have to tell us before we believe it?
Explanation: Let’s read together about what it means to pray in faith. Read passage. Pray in faith, nothing wavering. He who wavers is like a wave of the sea, driven by the wind. That man who wavers in his faith will not receive anything from God.
Illustration: Allow me, if you will, to share with you how I have seen this principle work in my own life. God has been teaching me in my life, that, at times, I treat God more like a heavenly Santa Claus than like my Father. I go to him in prayer like a little kid asking for a Christmas present. “Dear God, I need this, and this, and this, oh and maybe some of that, too…” God has shown me that I often throw up prayers just hoping that maybe He will answer them. When instead I need to cry out to Him like a soldier on the battlefield, who is trapped and surrounded by enemies, and is calling in to his headquarters begging for support. And let me tell you, when you pray like this, God WILL answer you! And it’s kind of hard to explain. Basically, when you pray, you need to be expecting God to answer. Anticipate what it will be like when God answers. Go ahead and thank God for how He is going to answer. I first saw this happen when I was 18 years old. God had been teaching me this same thing about prayer. I wanted to see God answer something that only I was praying for, that I was expecting him to answer, and that nobody else even knew about.
At that time, I was traveling around the United States with a team of young people my age. Well one night, a girl from my team, whose name was Connie, told me some things about her father, who was in the church service that night. To put it shortly, her dad would often discipline her in anger while she was growing up. She had told me how much that hurt her and how she did not have a good relationship with him because of it. She then told me that we would be traveling to her home state of Alabama 7 months later and would see her parents again. So God burdened my heart to pray for her father. And I wanted to pray a very specific prayer. On the first Saturday of all of our meetings, we would lead a seminar for parents on how to raise their children. So this was my request. I prayed that when we went to Alabama 7 months later, that Connie’s dad would come, that he would stay for that seminar on Saturday, and that afterwards he would seek Connie’s forgiveness for his sin against her. So I began to pray for that every day. I tried to think what it would be like when God answered. I would write something on my hand to remind me that I had prayed for her that day. So for 7 months I asked God over and over, “God please answer this prayer!” And just as God promised, He answered my prayer. Connie’s dad came to those services, he stayed for the seminar that Saturday, and afterwards, he asked Connie to forgive him for what He had done. As if that was enough, Connie also told me that she could already see him changing his attitude towards his family and her two younger brothers and sisters. Brothers and sisters, there is incredible power in prayer!!! That idea goes along with our next passage.
Explanation: Ephesians 3: 20 goes beyond our own prayers. God not only wants to answer our prayers, He wants to do more than we could even think to ask Him for.
Transition: So now we’ve seen the principle of prayer and these passages teach us about the practice of prayer. Finally today, let’s look at the priority of prayer.
III. The Priority of Prayer
Let me ask you a personal question. This is not something you’ll answer out loud, just think to yourself about it. When do you pray? Whenever I ask myself that question, I am convicted by the Holy Spirit, because I know that I do not pray as often as I should. If you are like me, you find yourself going to God when you are in trouble or when you have a need. Now, is there anything wrong with this? Not at all. Like a parent, God wants us to come to Him when we are in trouble or when we have a need. Look at these passages:
A. When do you pray?
a. Trouble – Ps.3:7-8 – Call to God in trouble, but this should not be the only time. David called out to God when He was in trouble.
b. Need – Zec.10:1 – Ask God in times of need and He will answer. God promises to answer us in times of need. But I believe the best way to improve our prayer life is to observe quickly the life of Christ and to understand the priority of prayer.
B. When did Jesus pray?
a. Matt.14:23 – After feeding the 5,000; he was alone
If we look at the context of this passage, Jesus went off to pray after feeding the 5,000, one of His most well-known miracles. And notice also that He was alone. Remember what Jesus told His disciples? Pray in secret. He spent time in prayer after busy times of successful ministry.
b. Matt.26:36 – Before going to the Cross
Notice also that Jesus spent much time in prayer before going to the Cross, the greatest work of His life. He spent time in prayer before big events in His life.
c. Lk.6:12 – After healing a man, before casting out demons; in prayer all night
Jesus also spent time in prayer after being engaged in spiritual warfare. He spent long, extended times in prayer. He prayed all night.
d. Lk.9:28 – Before His transfiguration; with Peter, James, and John
Jesus also prayed with those closest to Him. He prayed before the Father revealed Him in His glory to His disciples.
e. Lk.11:1 – After long periods of teaching; alone, disciples asked how to pray
And finally, he prayed after long periods of teaching and public ministry. And it was after this time that His disciples came to Him and said, “Lord, teach us to pray.” You see, when we look at the priority of prayer in the life of our Lord, our perfect example, we see how greatly short we fall of a true commitment to prayer. So before we close with prayer, I want to look at one more passage and answer the question:
C. What do I do when my prayer is not answered?
a. Remember that “no” is also an answer. God knows what is best and He is allowed to answer “no.” Remember that, like a parent, God will give us what we ask, unless He knows that there is something different that we need instead.
b. Examine your own life for sin/disobedience. Now I want to be careful here that we don’t leave here thinking that every time God doesn’t answer our prayers just the way we want, that there must be something wrong with us. That was what Job’s friends tried to tell him, remember? In this step, simply ask God if He couldn’t answer your prayer because you were in disobedience in some area. You don’t need to go on a frantic search of your own life for sin – If it is there, God will show you. If not, then take step three:
c. Rest is God’s sovereignty; he works all for His glory and our good – Rom.8:28. We see from this passage one of the most comforting things in all of the Scriptures. God is always working everything out for our good and for His glory. Now does that mean that everything that will happen in our lives is good? No not at all. Just like Job, God sometimes allows evil things into our lives, but He promises that He is in control and will work those things out for our good in the end.
Conclusion: Once more, brothers and sisters, there is incredible power in prayer. I believe that if we really believe that fact, we would spend much more time in prayer than we do now. I know that this is certainly a need in my life and I would suspect that we all need a greater priority on our prayer life. As I said at the beginning of this study tonight, we do not need to know more about prayer; we need to spend more time in prayer. So it would be sad if we closed this night without spending time in prayer. I know that this is a need in my life, and so I am going to kneel down in front here and ask God to give me a greater commitment to prayer. If you believe that this is a need in your life as well, you are welcome to join me down here in prayer, and after our time of prayer, I’d like Brother Jose Luis to come up and close our service in prayer. Let’s pray together…
Friday, March 21, 2008
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
I am now living here in Jiminez with 3 other single guys - Brian, Adriel, and Adrian. Brian Alexander is the guy I've mentioned before who has moved down here and is opening a restaurant on our back porch. Adriel is a friend of Brian's that he met in El Paso who has moved down here to live with us. Adrian is a 22-year old guy who has grown up here in Jimenez, was saved through the ministry of Iglesia Bautista La Fe, serves in the preaching and Sunday School ministry, and was just ordained as a minister this past December. I can't even tell you what a blessing he is!
The house where we are living is about 5 streets down from the church, 5 streets from the "centro comercial" or the main shopping plaza, and within walking distance of anywhere in town. And it is because of this location that opportunities abound. We just drove down to the carniceria to get some meat and were handing out tracts along the way. It's so great. And later on today, we're going out just to hand out tracts and talk to people about the gospel.
The people in the church are just tremendous! Everyone is so friendly and welcoming, just like being at Cornerstone. It's just another reminider of the way that we are all a part of the family of God even though we don't speak the same language. You can just sense it. We are all family!
I first met Brother Adrian on Sunday morning, when he came up to me and said, "So you are the famous Brother Jonathan? Yes, you are famous, brother. All the people here talking about you, and some of them they don't even know you yet. You got a gift!" He can speak English well enough to be our interpreter when we need it. And he is just so passionate about reaching people. He told me he wants to reach inner-city youth "with the light, because they are all looking for it, but they don't know that it is in Jesus." He is really becoming my teammate here, my true brother, my fellow slave of Christ.
Well, I'm going down to the internet cafe to try and get these videos uploaded. Keep praying everyone. God is working, and He wants to do much more!
Sunday, March 16, 2008
This will just ba a quick post, but I wanted to tell everyone that I´m all settled here in Jimenez and everything´s good. I will be preaching this next Sunday evening, so I could use all your prayers for that! It will be mostly in English, with an interpreter, but I´m also working on one for later that I´ll be preaching all in Spanish.
Right now I´m staying at the ranch, but this week I may be moving in to town to live with Brian Alexander who will be moving down here on Tuesday. You may remember him from my newsletter. He is the guy who was cooking for us here last summer and is also considering moving here to work with the Ashcrafts. He has a house in town and that would put us in a very strategic place to learn the language and explore the town, witnessing to people. Since it´s during the school year, all of the boys from the ranch are living in town with different ladies in the church. The cost of fuel to drive 14 km to the ranch every day makes it better for them to live in town.
The Ashcrafts will be getting into town the Tuesday after this one. He will be preaching at a church in El Paso for Easter Sunday and then driving back here. The people here are great and the food is all hot. No it´s ALL hot. Picante y caliente; that´s spicy hot and temperature hot! My sinuses get cleared every meal!
For those of you on Facebook, I´ve got the next episode of my Video Journal finished and ready to publish, but this computer won´t detect my external hard drive, so I´ll probably burn them to a CD and post it later.
So on Saturday when I got into Jimenez, we went to the house of a lady in the church where they were having a ladies´get-together or Bible study. So I spent about 20 minutes with them and, of course, finding out that I was single, they all decided that I needed to marry a Mexican girl and are proceeding to find her for me in the next three months. We´ll see how that goes :o)
Oops! Gotta go! Love you all and keep me in your prayers!
P.S. It´s really hard to type on this international keyboard! Everything is in a different spot and in Spanish.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
The night was first an opportunity to worship together again like old times. Dan, Dan, and Ashley... you rock! Keep this band going while I'm gone, ok? Ashley, keep up those solos! You're amazing! Move aside, Darlene Zschech... Chris Tomlin, Hillsong United, and Casting Crowns provided our songs for worship and we thoroughly enjoyed singing to the Lord together.
After our worship time, Donnie Rice asked me to share briefly with the youth group my plans regarding Mexico and the mission field. Then the group gathered around me and Jay Lennington led in prayer for my trip and my future. What a wonderful group of people I have supporting me here from home!
As we finished my final Wednesday night here for the next three months, I was then taken out to dinner at Chili's by 14 of my teens for one last time of random fun, laughing, talking, spilling drinks (nice one Dan, on my white jeans!) and... snorting laughter courtesy of Michelle Feicke. Buying my dinner was a small gesture, but it meant so much to me, coming from those who mean the most to me here.
So tonight was sweet, bitter, and very encouraging to me. Thank you, teens! I love you all so much! You mean the world to me. Live for God and follow His plans for you! See you all in June...
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Wednesday, March 12th - Packing Day: This is my day to decide how to pack for 3 months into two suitcases and a carry-on, including suits for Sunday and clothes for weekdays. It is also the day for deciding what of my many electronic devices I'll need to minister in Mexico and keep people at home updated.
Thursday, March 13th - Training Day: This is the day I am most excited about. This is my day to practice what I will be doing in Mexico here in Illinois. I am going somewhere... not sure where yet... to find people who need Jesus. This is the day where I feel uncomfortable and probably rejected. This is my day to share the gospel one-on-one with complete strangers. Hey, if I can't do it with people who speak my language, what chance is there that I'll do it with people who don't?
Friday - March 14th - Praying/Preparing Day: This is the day where I prepare my heart to be taught and used in whatever way God desires. This day will consist of only things I will be able to do while I am in Mexico. No TV, games, or friends. Just me, my God, my Bible, my Spanish lessons, and my family.
Saturday, March 15th - D-Day!!!
The following is a list of verses that I'm printing up to memorize in Spanish and keep in my Bible for evangelism in Mexico. If anybody can think of others that I should add to the list, just post the references in a comment at the bottom, ok? I appreciate all your help.
John 3:16 - For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. Jn.3:16 – Porque de tal manera amó Dios al mundo, que ha dado a su Hijo unigénito, para que todo aquel que en él cree, no se pierda, mas tenga vida eterna.
Romans 3:10 - As it is written, there is none righteous, no not one Rom.3:10 – Como está escrito: No hay justo, ni aun uno;
Romans 3:23 - For all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God, Rom.3:23 – Por cuanto todos pecaron, y están destituidos de la Gloria de Dios,
Romans 6:23 - For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Rom.6:23 – Porque la paga del pecado es muerte, mas la dádiva de Dios es vida eterna en Cristo Jesús Señor nuestro.
Romans 5:8 - But God demonstrated His love for us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Rom.5:8 – Mas Dios muestra su amor para con nosotros, en que siendo aún pecadores, Cristo murió por nosotros.
Romans 10:9-10 - That if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. Rom.10:9-10 – Que si confesares con tu boca que Jesús es el Señor, y creyeres en tu corazón que Dios le levantó de los muertos, serás salvo.
Romans 10:13 - For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Rom.10:13 – Porque todo aquel que invocare el nombre del Señor, será salvo.
Acts 16:31a - Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved... Hch.16:31a – …Cree en el Señor Jesucristo, y serás salvo…
John 14: 6 - Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man comes unto the father, but by me. Jn.14:6 – Jesús le dijo: Yo soy el camino, y la verdad, y la vida; nadie viene al Padre, sino por mí.
Ephesians 2:8-9 - For by grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast. Ef.2:8-9 – Porque por gracia sois salvos por medio de la fe; y esto no de vosotros, pues un don de Dios; No por obras, para que nadie se gloríe.
Titus 3:5 - He saved us, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy, through the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Spirit. Tit.3:5 – Nos salvo, no por obras de justicia que nosotros hubiéramos hecho, sino por su misericordia, por el lavamiento de la regeneración y por la renovación en el Espíritu Santo,
John 3:3 - Jesus answered and said to him, Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you be born again, you shall not see the kingdom of God. Jn.3:3 – Respondió Jesús y le dijo: De cierto, de cierto te digo, que el que no naciere de Nuevo, no puede ver el reino de Dios.
2 Corinthians 6:2b - Behold now is the acceptable time; behold today is the day of salvation. 2 Cor.6:2b – …He aquí ahora el tiempo aceptable; he aquí ahora el día de salvación.
Joshua 24:15 - Choose you this day whom you will serve... but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Jos.24:15 – …Escoges hoy a quién sirváis … pero yo y mi casa serviremos a Jehová.
Matthew 24:44 - For this reason, you also must be ready; for the son of man is coming at the hour when you think not. Mat.24:44 – Por tanto, también vosotros estad preparados; porque el Hijo del Hombre vendrá a la hora que no pensáis.
John 6:37 - All that the father gives to me will come to me, and the one who comes to me I will in no wise cast out. Jn.6:37 – Todo lo que el Padre me da, vendrá a mí; y al que a mí viene, no le echo fuera.
John 3:18 - He who believes in him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten son of God. Jn.3:18 – El que en él cree no es condenado; pero el que no cree, ya ha sido condenado, porque no ha creído en el nombre del unigénito Hijo de Dios.
Luke 13:3 - I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you shall all likewise perish. Lc.13:3 – Os digo: No; antes si no os arrepentís, todos pereceréis igualmente.
Luke 18:29-30 - And he said to them, Truly I say to you, that there is nobody who has left house, or parents, or brothers, or wife, or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times as much at this time and in the age to come, eternal life. Lc.18:29-30 – Y él les dijo: De cierto os digo, que no hay nadie que haya dejado casa, o padres, o hermanos, o mujer, o hijos, por el reino de Dios, Que no haya de recibir mucho más en este tiempo, y en el siglo venidero la vida eterna.
I Peter 2:24 - And he himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by his wounds we are healed. I Pd.2:24 – Quien llevó él mismo nuestros pecados en su cuerpo sobre el madero, para que nosotros, estando muertos a los pecados, vivamos a la justicia; y por cuya herida fuisteis sanados.
2 Corinthians 5:18-21 - Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin in our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Co.5:18-21 – Y todo esto proviene de Dios, quién nos reconcilió consigo mismo por Cristo, y nos dio el ministerio de la reconciliación; Que Dios estaba en Cristo reconciliando consigo al mundo, no tomándoles en cuento a los hombres sus pecados, y nos encargó a nosotros la palabra de reconciliación. Así que, somos embajadores en nombre de Cristo, como si Dios rogase por medio de nosotros; os rogamos en nombre de Cristo: Reconciliaos con Dios. Al que no conoció pecado, por nosotros lo hizo pecado, para que nosotros fuésemos hechos justicia de Dios en él.
John 5:24 - Truly, truly, I say to you: He who hears my word, and believes on him who sent me, has everlasting life; and shall not come into condemnation, but has passed from death unto life. Jn.5:24 – De cierto, de cierto os digo: El que oye mi palabra, y cree al que me envió, tiene vida eterna ; y no vendrá a condenación, mas ha pasado de muerte a vida.
Lc.18:29-30 – Y él les dijo: De cierto os digo, que no hay nadie que haya dejado casa, o padres, o hermanos, o mujer, o hijos, por el reino de Dios, Que no haya de recibir mucho más en este tiempo, y en el siglo venidero la vida eternal.
Lk.18:29-30 – And He said to them, "Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house, or parents, or brothers, or wife, or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times as much at this time and in the age to come, eternal life."
One Month Left...
My brothers and sisters in Christ,
What an amazing journey God has been leading me on during the past year! My life has been changing and turning in directions that I would never have anticipated and could never explain apart from the sovereign direction of God’s guiding hand. In just under a month, I will be leaving the country to pursue what could be God’s calling for the next stage of my life, or the remainder, for that matter. But before I leave, I wanted to catch you up as my church family so that you can be a part of this exciting stage of my life. From March 15th to June 7th of this year, I will be living in the city of Jiminez, in the state of Chihuahua, Mexico. I will be living and working with La Fe Ministries and the Randy Ashcraft family, whom we have supported for many years at CBC. My purpose for taking this trip, in all honesty, is to seek God’s will for my future. I will share my full story later on in this letter. The Ashcrafts live on a ranch about 5 kilometers outside the city of Jiminez which also serves as a home for a number of Mexican boys, ages 7-17, whom they take care of. Randy is a third-generation missionary to Mexico and has been serving there full-time since 1997. He is the pastor of La Fe Baptist Church and the director of La Fe Ministries. He and his wife Gwendolyn have four children - Lee (8), Cynthia (5), Andrew (4), and Caleb (2 mos.). During my stay in Mexico, I will be learning the language, observing the ministry, spending time on the ranch with the boys, spending much time with the Lord, and helping the Ashcrafts in any way I can. I have felt God’s hand on my heart in a very specific way towards Mexico and the ministry there. I am not sure yet if God is leading me there full-time or if He will open a door for me elsewhere, but His leading has been very clear to bring me to this point.I have but one purpose for this trip, despite the many things God will no doubt teach me. That purpose is to prayerfully determine if God is indeed calling me to serve Him as a missionary to Mexico. God’s will always has been and always will be unmistakably clear. I pray that He will reveal that to me in these three months.
“You know, Christianity can get very complex… And so, If I might, I'd like to simplify everything and pull it down to the irreducible minimum of what it is that you're all about and I'm all about as Christians. We have been given the ministry of reconciliation. It is simply this: Our duty is to tell people they can be reconciled to God. That's what we do. Our mission is to preach the fact that God will forgive all someone's sins forever. That the relationship of hostility and hatred and enmity and bitterness and alienation from God can be totally changed - that enemies can become friends, aliens can become sons. That is the good news...The good news is that alienation from a holy God, which carries the price of eternal damnation, can end, and you can be reconciled with God and enjoy His glorious heaven forever, all your sin having been dealt with. Our high calling and our high privilege is simply to tell people that God will forgive all your sins forever. Are you interested?... We're here because there's one thing we can do here that we can't do in heaven, and that's the ministry of reconciliation...That term defines the heart and soul of our responsibility as believers in the world." -- Dr. John MacArthur
While my physical journey is about to commence, my spiritual journey has been in process for over a year now. It was about this time last year that I began to sense the Lord leading my life in a different direction. As much as I loved serving in the youth ministry here at Cornerstone, the Lord was making it clear that He had something different in mind for me. It was very hard for me to step down from this ministry without knowing exactly what God had for me next, but that was how God led. And isn’t it just like God that the last trip I ever took with our youth group would be the place He would direct me next!During our week in Mexico in June of 2007, the Lord was very real to me. He was opening my eyes to the world. He was burdening my heart for the lost. He was showing me the need for laborers in God’s harvest. I remember one morning when Brother Randy was sharing a devotional with our group, he said: “What is it that is keeping you from coming down here full-time?” The lesson he was speaking on was about our many distractions in life, but God used it in a different way for me. What was keeping me from going to Mexico full-time? It wasn’t a job. It wasn’t a ministry. It wasn’t family. There was nothing! From that morning on, I began to see things differently. I began to see the potential of my being a full-time missionary. And then, God showed me an opportunity!As we traveled to two different villages, preached the gospel, and saw a number of people saved, Randy came and talked to me. He shared with me his vision for the next 5 to 10 years of ministry. His desire is to start a network of home churches in these villages in the mountains. After sharing with me some of his ideas and beliefs about that he said, “I need two guys…” I had not shared with anyone what God was doing in my heart already, but those words sent me off on the journey that I will begin March 15th. It was as if God said, as in Isaiah 6, “Whom shall we send? And who will go for us?” And my heart replies, “Here am I, Lord. Send me.”There was another man with us that summer - Brian Alexander. He came to me two days later. I remember his words as if he spoke them yesterday: “Hey, have you heard what Randy wants to do with home churches? He told me he needs two guys… I think maybe I could be one of those guys.” God speaks again. I hadn’t told Brian that I was considering the same thing. Does this constitute a call from God? Maybe. On it’s own, not necessarily. But when God opens a door, should I look for a window? I can be pretty hard-headed at times. And sometimes God has to hit me over the head with something before I see it. But I have seen enough of God’s so-called “coincidences” concerning Mexico that I have pursued that direction this far. My life is His to use. Whether this trip leads me to Mexico for the rest of my life or merely drives me to a deeper relationship with Him, I am ready for it, I need it, and I am excited about it. Seek… and ye shall find.
This part is simple: PRAYER. What decisions should we make without prayer? How does one determine God’s will for his life without prayer? I need much prayer! The greatest thing that you as my church family can do to support me is to pray for me in the following: 1. Direction for my future 2. Spiritual growth and maturity 3. Physical health and protection 4. Moral character and integrity 5. Wisdom (and patience) in choosing a wife As far as physical needs go, I’ve been in contact with the Ashcrafts to help determine my expenses during my 12 weeks there in Mexico. Including my plane tickets, personal and ministry expenses, and my known costs for things here at home, I will need about $2600. The Lord has already provided for $2000 of that cost and I am very grateful for that provision. The one thing that I am most grateful to God for is the family that He chose to place me in. As I grew up, I was able to see first-hand how God always provides for His children as we trusted Him for our needs. He has never failed to provide. Finances, therefore, are the least of my concerns in life. I serve a faithful God. - “Where God guides, He provides.” - “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” - Phil.4:19