Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Feliz Navidad


We wish you Merry Christmas as we celebrate the fulfillment of these words from Isaiah.

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
(Luke 4:18–19 ESV)

You might look at this and ask, "If these words are fulfilled in Jesus, then why are there still the poor or the blind or captives or the oppressed?" Or perhaps, "Why is there still so much evil in this world, if Jesus came to bring such good news?" If you are asking that, I think Jesus anticipated your question and had to push the people of Nazareth to realize it. The people that heard him quote this and tell them it was fulfilled in their ears that day gushed with praise at his gracious words...until he got to his point...then they were filled with rage and tried to kill him. But why? What made them so angry?  I hope to have an answer soon since I will be preaching on this passage this Sunday night. Pray for me. I'll just say it has a lot to do with the message of the prophecy of Isaiah, especially the last several chapters after this quote. It also makes the meaning of Christmas and why Jesus is so special all so much more powerful. 

     This is the beginning of a group of sermons I am working on for a missions conference.  I think Luke 4 may be the first passage and then possibly Isaiah 66 to show the new heavens and new earth including those who hear His word and tremble at it coming from all nations to worship Him. This wonderfully leads into Paul's explanation of the implications of this fulfillment in Christ and the Church in Ephesians. Perhaps the next two parts will be the plan and purpose of God to unite heaven and earth in Christ (from Ephesians 1-3) and then the centrality of the Church as it flows out from and through family to the world around (from Ephesians 4-6).  The biggest problem is that it will be impossible to cover all this in only four sermons. I am looking forward to learning from this.  I pray that this will teach, guide and prepare me as much as it will be a help for the congregation that will hear it.  

My prayer is that I will listen to God speaking to me as I study these things before I seek to figure out how to speak to others. It is as my seminary profesor, Dr. Elias Medeiros, said that we should not be like pizza makers who are making pizza all day long but starving because we don't eat.  I pray that I will be a well nourished baker or perhaps I should say a well furnished carpenter.  My point is along the lines of Ephesians 3:19 of Paul's prayer that we would know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, and that we may be filled with all the fullness of God. As He fills us up, we overflow with grace to spread to the world around us.  May we be full and may we not be able to contain it.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Blessings, Community & Support Raising


Dear praying friends and family,

       It is a wonderful blessing to get to experience the joys of living in community. We have been blessed to come back to my home town, Zachary, LA for a season while we prepare to return to Peru for long-term service.  We are wonderfully blessed by friends and family who have bent over backwards to help us and love on us. First Baptist church in Zachary has blessed us with their mission house for the year. We have been blessed by a dear friend and family doctor, a local pharmacy, the Plains Presbyterian Church, friends, and family who have helped us through giving us gifts and food, to coming over, helping with dishes and watching the kids. We are very happy to be here in the Zachary community and are indebted to many in the Greater Baton Rouge area. I pray that we will be able to pay all of these blessings forward to others who need such loving service.

     Our return has been somewhat of a whirlwind. Shortly after arriving, I had the opportunity of going through ordination trials and then a week after completing all the exams, our son Ezra was born. The Lord blessed us amazingly in all of these things; Meg was able to deliver Ezra naturally after two C-sections, I passed all ordination exams to free us up to focus on support raising, and to top it off we were blessed to be able to reschedule our return flight to Peru next August without having to buy new tickets!

     Now after settling down a bit and getting used to three children, it is time to get busy working on support raising. I have been spending my time trying to catch up on correspondence, studying for future ministry development and preparing for sermons for missions conferences. I still have much studying and letter writing to do but it is also past time to start finding new churches and contacts with whom to share about the work in Peru. We hope that God will be leading them to us to join with us in partnership to help further His Kingdom in Peru.

     We need to raise more support to return to Peru next August, 2013.  We are about 30% of where we need to be with monthly supporters. Our goal is to raise $96,000 per year. We are amazed at God's grace and the love of those who are continuing to support us. We have been receiving about 30% in monthly and 70% in one-time gifts. This ratio of financial support gave us more than enough support that carried us through our first two years and then another eight months. This was a wonderful blessing but we will need to find more monthly supporters to be able to stay in Peru long-term. I am also praying for supporters to help with the Parish Woodshop project and even more a Christian entrepreneur who would run marketing and sales in the States.  In order to further expand our project, we want to succeed in exporting. However in order to accomplish this, we need someone in the States who would run a business  promoting the work of the Peruvian craftsmen.

    As the year draws to a close, and some of you may be considering what to do with your extra blessings to avoid paying too much on taxes. Please consider the work we are doing in Peru. You may also want to look at Peru Mission's Marketplace and buy items for Christmas gifts and all the proceeds will go back to Peru Mission to help us further the gospel work we are doing.  I realize many of you are worried about the future of our economy and are not able to contribute financially. For that I thank those of you who are giving and those who will for your faithful sacrifice. I know it is difficult and I pray the Lord will enable me to faithfully serve Him and bring fruitful return on all of these contributions by His working through the Holy Spirit in the lives of those who will hear His Word through our efforts.

   Please also consider committing to pray for us. Money will only get us to Peru and enable us to take care of material needs while there. What we need much more than money is prayer. We need prayer warriors who will plead with our loving Father to open the door for us and for the Holy Spirit to apply The Word of Jesus Christ in the lives of those who will be hearing it.  Please consider being partners with us to help us get back to Peru.

Ephesians 6:18-20. "praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.