Thursday, July 27, 2006

 

Cost of discipleship

This morning Mario and I had a wonderful visit. I shared with him that I have been praying for him and his family. I was concerned that often when there is only one believer in a couple, it creates conflict at times. He readily agreed with me. He told me that his wife said that he needed to choose between his Bible and her. If he didn't go to the march to Caacupe to honor the virgin, she would leave him. I asked him how he felt about that, and he told me that he had to follow Jesus.

I asked him to look at the directions given in Scripture 1Cor 7, so that he would have Biblical answers to his dilema. He discovered that if she wants to leave, then he has no choice but to let her go. They have been married 5 years, and together 7 years. I told him that trust is hard for a man to earn in Paraguay. She knows him and may just need some time to think about her loss before she realizes that she really wants both him and the gospel. He has discovered a Baptist church in his area, and wants to visit. We will take him either this Sunday or next.

Sunday is friendship day here, a time when Paraguayans typically give gifts to their friends. I gave Mario a book written by the Chuck Swindoll of Latin America. The title of the book is A Doorway Called Divorce. The author explains the Biblical basis given for divorce, the sanctity of the marriage commitment, and offers practical ways for reconciliation without compromise.

Please pray with me that his wife will come to her senses and accept Christ.

I took him home, and on the way we read 1 John, and talked about the different stages of the life of a believer: child, youth, father. When we arrived, we continued the discussion of 1 John. His cousin, Victor, joined us. I assured Mario of the fact that his sins were forgiven, and that a sign that he knows the Father is a desire to follow Him. We talked about the steps to spiritual growth -daily quiet time, memorizing scripture, and fellowship with others whose life has been changed by the power of the gospel. Victor is not a believer, but is interested. I gave him lots to think about today. Please continue to pray for this family, that God would call them from darkness into His light.

What an adventure!

Friday, July 21, 2006

 

Patience in Guarambare

Thursday came, and with it another opportunity to serve. Actually, it was a depressing day for me. I went to the park hoping to see Mario, who wasn't there. We were to visit him that day in his neighborhood, so I called their cell phone. His wife sells clothing in a neighboring town. I asked about him, and she said that he was in the park. Well, I was in the park and he was not in the park. I told her that, and half an hour later, he called me to tell me that that day was not a good day for me to visit his neighborhood. I later learned that she leaves earlier than he does, and suspect that he did not want to dissappoint me by no one's willingness to participate in a Bible study in his neighborhood, so he didn't go to work. Friday, the next day, we talked about the fact that the Cornelius story found in Acts 10 and the Samaritan Woman story are both rare exceptions to the experiences that we, my colleagues and I, face on a daily basis. Many times, it takes time to build trust and sow seed.

The plan is that a musician from our church, Mario, and I will continue to go out there weekly, spend some time singing songs, visit those who are interested, and share from portions of God's Word.

My faith has no merit in itself to make God work a miracle. However, based upon His desire that every believer be in a body, that He has told us to witness, that He died for Mario's family, neighborhood, and that He has called us to participate in the Great Commission, I am asking the All Powerful God to intervene in the lives of the people in that area so that they can know the truth and be set free from the enslaving powers of darkness, hopelessness, and self-destruction.

I am asking the Lord to help Mario not to be in a hurry, but to just allow us to come, visit, share, meet needs, and love the people there. When we push our agenda, it's manipulation. When we push religion, it's often deception. When we love them and teach them to love each other the way that Jesus loves them -when we taste the salt in their tears, connect with their hurts - we become God's instrument of change in the neighborhood. When we show them the clear, calm assurance that only comes from a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and help our brothers and sisters to do the same, we have the privilege of joining God in His work.

Monday, July 17, 2006

 

Missionary pressure

My calling is to build a relationship with the person of Jesus Christ. I am to be so in love with Him that the relationship is contageous. One day, when I get to heaven, God will not ask me how many people were baptized, signed a card, or even how many opportunities I missed along the way. He is sovereign over all, and does not need me. rather chooses to allow me to work with Him in calling a people to Himself.

As I said, He is sovereign over all, and can save anyone at any time with or without me, the IMB, Southern Baptists, or any other missions sending agency. For example, once a man was on his way to a town to kill Christians. He was struck blind from a light, heard voices ,and acknowleged Jesus' resurrection and submitted himself to Jesus' Lordship. My purpose is not to resurrect the lordship debate, except just to say that our mandate is to make disciples. We are not called to make decisions. So that there is no doubt, a decision is someone who makes a verbal commitment to accept the free gift of salvation which has been provided on the cross. A disciple recognizes that the cost of salvation was a cruel, bloody death, then a resurrection. They enter into a slave type relationship with Jesus, giving Him complete rule over their life. Does not mean that they are perfect, it just means that they recognize that Jesus owns them, and thus has authority over their actions.

As I was saying, God does not need me to usher in His kingdom in Paraguay. In fact, He does not NEED me at all. He could take me out and His work would go on. He chooses to allow me the privilege of partnering with Him in His work by spreading the news, teaching others, and starting small groups. Current leadership does not pressure unduly. They are concerned that we do our job, I am thankful for the accountability that we have. That helps us to stay on target. I am thankful for the training that is offered.

Having said that, let me say that our mission force is over 5,000 strong, and we are all different. Some of us are type A personalities. These are the people who play every game to the very limit. They are going to win! They are the movers and shakers of our world. Thank God for these people. We need them. I'm the guy that watches the family board game go three or four times around the table, before asking when I will get to go again, knowing all along that the beloved type A who goes after my turn has skipped me unconciously again.

I refuse to feel internal pressure. It is true that William Carey spent 7 years without a convert, but look at Noah, who spent over a hundred years, and nobody outside his family was saved! There are also other prophets such as Isaiah and Jeremiah, who would be marked as complete failures, if we look only at stats.

I know that God loves everyone, and that He desires that no one perish. I believe firmly that when Jesus died on the cross, He died for every human being that has ever, or ever will live. Yet, we are told that in the last days, perilous times will come. Men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boasters proud blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy..... having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof. The truth is that we are not going to usher in the kingdom of God by our evangelistic efforts. That does not mean that we do not evangelize.
It just means that if we play by the numbers, we tend to burn out, loose our relationships with our family members and our health. God's plan for us is to enjoy Him as well as the journey, balance the time that we spend outside the home, in preparation, and with family members wisely. If we as missionaries loose our families, we have lost everything. Our ministries cannot prosper if our family members' needs for our presence go unmet.

My call is to a confident relationship with my Lord. I am called to obey Him. His command is to make disciples, and allow Him to use me for His glory and to spread the good news that Jesus is the only hope that anyone has. I am to tell them the stories, live my life as salt, light, and an agent of change, regardless of what others think, say, or do.

The Holy Spirit has the responsibility of convicting the world of sin, what is right, and that there is a coming judgment. He is responsible to guide me to the people with whom I should speak, and even giving me the words I should say. When the day ends, without baptisms, but I know that I have been obedient to do my job, I believe that I am more successful than the prophet Jonah, who had all the numbers, but misplaced values, wrong motives, and ultimately miserable.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

 

Transformation

Last month, a visitor came to our men's Sunday school class and seemed to be very interested in what was being said. When the pastor gave the altar call, this young man, Derlis, went forward and professed faith in Jesus, along with about 5 others. I have had the privilege of discipling this man since his profession of faith. He brings his 2 small children and the lady that I assumed was his wife to our meetings and I tell stories to them, and some of the youth who also want to be part of our group. Apart from this, I have been visiting them in their home where Derlis, his lady and I can talk about things without the presence of a group. The lady, Marta claims to believe and has been Baptized. However, Derlis shared that they are not married, and he wants to make it right. God has convicted him to tithe, even though he seems to have pay at the end of the month, and his friends have noticed a different man.

Saturday night, he and I sat at a booth at Burger King and he had lots of questions about how we should respond when someone does not walk in light and claims to be a believer.


The scriptures teach that if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature. Old things have past away, behold all things are become new. For Derlis, this verse is very descriptive.

Friday, July 14, 2006

 

The Lone Christian

About a month ago, Mario told me that he felt the need to belong to a body of believers. He needed to be connected in a church. I agreed with him, then I asked him about the Samaritan. We had only recently talked about that story. For Mario, and this Samaritan, a trip to the local First Baptist of Jerusalem would be quiet a hike, and if they went, chances are they would not be welcome. Supposing that they were welcome, they would not feel comfortable there. That's where the bosses go!! So, I told Mario that I would pray that God would raise a church in his neighborhood. My job is to plant churches. What an opportunity.

Mario loves to share his faith. Thursday, he and two different men got into my car and as we started down the road, he opened the door, and asked me to share my faith with them. I had less time, because we picked up one of my fellow church members on the way. He brought his guitar. They wanted to know him.

We sat in the small bedroom and Mario read some passages from Psalm 69 to a lady in her mid to upper 50's. She has diabetes, and was in pain that day. We visited with her, and sang some songs. I prayed and asked God to reveal Himself to them through healing her that afternoon. My hope was that God would authenticate the gospel for the small humble group of houses that are in that area.

My fellow church member and I left and as we drove home prayed for them again. Mario needs a church family. Pray with us that God will call his wife, his family, and her family to Himself. Mario has a pastors heart, and is not afraid to tell it like it is.

Thanks,

 

Our Church

Our young boys need direction. They need the family that we left in the states. They need aunts and uncles that will give them the stability that we cannot. This is a constant prayer of ours. That God would provide those intimate friendships and the help that we need. As the African proverb I learned in New Orleans states, it really does take a village to raise a child. Our village is a very long way away from us, and often we feel the loss of family.

For this reason, and others, it is important for us to belong to a local body of believers. Yes, I want to plant churches. I want to see God's kingdom advanced through new church starts, through groups of non-believers that form and learn about God's love for them, confess Jesus as their only Lord, and believe that He has rights to rule because of the power of the resurrection. I want to see groups of people follow Jesus command and be baptized. I want to see God's kingdom advance. I belive that there is also a great need within the traditional churches who are struggling to survive.

In Paraguay, there is a paradigm shift that is taking place. The ways that traditionally worked for churches no longer functions. I have some experinece working with youth, and our church here has a hand-full of youth who are searching for their identity within the church, and as a group. The church youth group has no leadership. The youth themselves have grown up in church, and are almost professional musicians. Maybe I'm a little biased, but they do very well. The youth in our church play the keyboard, drums, base, guitar, and sing very well. They have grown up in church, and know lots about the Bible. They fit my definition of good kids. Still very young in the faith, but good kids. Last month, we Baptized six of them. they had been saved for a while, but the church did not offer guidance on the need for Baptism.

At any rate, I began working with them in March. Feeling the need to give them a model of how to reach their peers, I began by stating that God had no beginning, and would have no end. He always was. He began his creation by creating the heavens, then there was a rebellion where one third of the heavenly hosts fell. Over the next two months, I shared about Satan, temptation, sacrifices of the Old Testament, and the promised messiah. Afterwards, we talked about the prophesies, then Jesus as the fulfillment of those prophesies. We then talked about John the Baptist's declaration that Jesus was a lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world. John was the son of a priest, and so he knew what to do with a lamb. He knew the sacrifical requirements, and that God had sent Jesus to die. We talked about John's baptism and message of repentance. The group multiplied when others made a profession of faith. I started working with them in discipleship on Saturday nights. We all meet with the youth at 7:00, we sing, play games and then have our Bible study. A third discipleship group for youth has begun to meet on Saturdays at 5:00 at our church.

This Saturday, in addition to the Saturday youth events, I will teach two groups of church planters how to tell the stories of the Bible and apply them to the lives of the people who are listening. We are scheduled to finish at 5:00. I am thankful for a brother in the Lord who can fill in for me while I am not there.

I suppose this is enough for now about our chcurch. Have a wonderful day

Friday, July 07, 2006

 

Mario's witness

Usually there are two babyseats in my car for my two children under the age of 5. Yesterday morning as I was leaving, the Lord told me that I would need that space, to take them out. I did, and that afternoon I had planned to go to Guarambare and begin a new outreach group with Mario. The neighborhood is about an hour away from where he sells fruit. His family members and friends began to call him to come on and get on the bus with them. He responded telling them no. I asked how many there were, he said four more. I told them to come on and get in that there would be room. The five young men got into the car, and Mario told me that they wanted to get saved, and asked me to tell them how. I thought that I may not have another chance to share with them, so here goes:

I shared the gospel with them, using the Roman Road. Romans 1:16-28, 2:1-3,3:23, 5:12. At this point, I began to share with them how that after Adam and Eve had eaten the forbidden fruit, and received their concequences, God killed an animal, initiating the idea of sacrifice. Abel, Noe, Abraham and his descendents also gave sacrifices. Moises received the ten commandments from the top of Mt Sinai, and directions for regular sacrifices, and the temple and ark to house the stone tablets that he had been given.

I shared wit them that the blood of animals was a reminder that the price of sin was death. Because someone sinned, justice demanded that a death, and they had this constant reminder. I shared with these men that along with this bloody habbit, the Jews also had promises that a king would be born of a virgin and He would bless the whole world. God had told His spokesmen that this promised king would be born in Bethlehem of Judea; he would come out of Egypt, he would be called a Nazarine and his ministry would be in Galilee which is in the North. Both Bethlehem and Nazareth were in the South.
At the time of his birth, mothers would cry for their babies, and that there would be a prophet born to announce his arrival. I told them that the prophecies were very presice. If they were to look at a horoscope it would tell them something like, you will have a bad day. The horoscope would be very vague, but the prophesies of Jesus were specific and very detailed. Jesus completed these prophesies. When John the Baptist saw him, he said behold the lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world.

John knew what to do with a lamb. His father was a priest. John knew that Jesus would die as a sin sacrifice. The blood of bulls and goats cannot take away sin, but had made a way for us to return to God, and showed a picture of what would come. Jesus was the true sacrifice.

From there, I shared with them Romans 10:9,10&13 Which states that "if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses resulting in salvation." I asked them about the term Lord. The first step, I told them, was to confess that Jesus is Lord. -then I asked, what good is a dead Lord? We have to believe that Jesus rose from the dead. If we don't accept Him as the boss of our Life, we cannot be his disciple. Then I gave them the option to respond.

They were typical Paraguayans, they just sat there. We had arrived at their stop, they clymbed out of the car, and thanked me for the ride. They left with lots to think about.

Mario and I prayed for them, and for others that we hope will attend next week. We prayed for other contacts that we know as well.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

 

Eye clinic

Today I helped a group of optomologists help around 500 patients, and fit them with eye glasses. A local church raised a tent inside a gymnasium, to provide less light...by no means darkness. I shared the differences in beliefs with one of the doctors that came. He was Catholic, and very educated. We talked about a works based salvation vs a faith based salvation, and the syncrinism that has infected the Paraguayan culture. syncrinism is mixing the beliefs of one religion with another. Here, the first missionaries allowed the people to keep their superstitions and fears instead of recognize the sovereignty of our Lord. I didn't tell him anything about our beliefs that he did not already know.

I learned lots about eyes today. We saw people with legions growing over their eyes, scratched retnas, eyes that go in different directions, cataracts, diabetics, and older patients with colesterol. Most of the people we saw today were older patients.

It is amazing to me how much our eyes are affected by things like stress, high blood pressure, diabetes, too much time in the sun -especially here, and our age.

I suppose a spiritual parallel would be fruit production in the life of a believer see Gal 5:19-26. The circumstances of our aches and pains of life will always be there. In fact, Rick Warren says that life is like a railroad tract, having two parts one is on a high, while the other is at a low. We always have something that we could complain about if we choose to do so. Likewise, we always have something to give thanks for if we so choose. Our calling is to enjoy the presence of our Lord. We cease to bear the fruits of the spirit when we allow the stresses of life to call our attention away from our first love. We quickly begin to look for fulfillment in other areas. This is a daily battle for every believer. As we practice walking with Him, we become more and more aware of the pitfalls around us.

One man was hit in the eye when he was twelve. He appeared to be around 60 something years of age now. He lost vision in the injured eye at the time of the accident. I asked him how he felt about his friend who had done the dammage to his eye, and he said that he had forgiven him.

I affirmed that and said that when we don't forgive the people in our life, the one that suffers is us. We suffer the hurt over and over again. I was thankful that this man had found that truth. So many with whom I talk have yet to discover the liberating power of obeying God's commands.

Have a wonderful afternoon

 

New Church start?? Please pray

Yesterday, Tuesday I visited with Mario. I will pick him up tomorrow at 12:30, we will drive to his house and visit with his family members. I am not sure what we will do that day. I think we may just visit, then begin the work next week giving time for the word to spread.

He told me that he was reading the book of John again, and sounded a little discouraged as he said it. I let him know that I was sorry that I couldn't be there for him last week. He sees the importance of being a part of a body of believers who will help him in his Christian walk.

Today, July 5th, I will translate for some eye doctors in need, so I will not be going to sajonia.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

 

Small groups

The longer I spend on the field, the more I am convinced in the power of small groups. The world uses a small group concept to help people overcome all kinds of addictions. Jesus used a small group concept as He made disciples. In fact, when the crowds were too big, Jesus seemed to move away. Much has been written on this subject already, and the shift from traditional church to the personal touch of a small group is expanding God's kingdom throughout the globe.

My life was radically changed by the power of a small group as we began to open God's Word and study what He had to say to us and apply it to our life. At the time, I served in the Air Force. We began to discover the freedom found in Jesus, and fell in love with Him.

Here, I currently lead 4 small groups, and am hoping to start another. I have been helping out with the youth in our church this year. I told them that I would help them this year to raise leadership for our youth. We began with about 7 youth and a lot of enthusiasm. By God's grace, they have a leader, a man and wife team. Six were baptized recently. Last Saturday, a family came, forming another group, and another group said that they will come this Saturday. This means that the total groups for Saturdays will be three. I will lead two with the help of a 17 yr. old, responsible Paraguayan. So, two of the groups that I am leading are in the church, and the other are in government buildings.

One of the groups is struggling for survival. We meet at 6:30AM in their place of work, and three weeks in a row, nobody showed up. This is the peak of their season, and things may pick up within the next few weeks. If not, I'll invest my time elsewhere. I figure, it's better to end a group than to let it die a slow painful death. What I mean by that is that, if the people are feeling burdened and guilty because they have so much to do that they cannot make it, or that the group is not important enough for them to come, I can better use my energy to make friends and start new groups with hopes that they will become a church. Henry Blackaby taught us to work where God is working. As for now, I am still praying and going.

The other group is doing well. There are a few believers that work in this office building and they spend time with the people, have a good testimony, and want to see their friends come to the Lord.

Please pray that God will raise up someone to work with six children under the age of 5 who are at our youth meeting mostly unsupervised during our meeting time. What an opportunity for someone to minister.

I hope to see Mario today, Tuesday. Last week, we had a medical team here from the US. I had the privilege of translating for them some and seeing first-hand the work and ministry of the doctors who came. These were mostly retired missionaries, and their grown children who are now doctors themselves. They know the history of Paraguay. One girl came to visit the home that she grew up in. We live in that home now.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?