Sunday, December 31, 2006

Small things can be very important

I had a nice surprise this Sunday. We held a birthday party for one of our deacons after the service, and as a result, many “irregular” attendees came to honor him, help with the birthday dinner, or maybe just to have a part in the feast we had. But whatever the reason, it was good to end the year with a church a good bit fuller than usual.

Tina tried out a traditional Puerto Rican garlic-pork recipe and it was sooo good that all the Puerto Rican ladies wanted her recipe! We usually bring home left overs, but not today! They kept coming back for seconds of that dish.

After the meal, we took some food to the home of an elderly man who has been too sick to attend services lately. We prayed with him, his wife and grand-daughter and got lots of hugs.

This week Tina and our college age kids went to the church and finished painting the interior and doing a really good cleaning.

Wednesday we had our prayer meeting in the home of a family that lives up an extremely steep road, which is really saying something here in Puerto Rico. Not ever having ice or snow and being cheap, the government has allowed roads to be built so steep, that it makes those streets in San Francisco look like roads for beginner drivers.

I preached a New Years Eve Sermon on “Gods’ Apgar Score.” A summary follows :

“The Apgar score is a system used in hospitals for rating the condition of a new born. I used this metaphor to teach about how the world evaluated the newly arrived Jesus. And how by judging him, we categorize ourselves. I spoke about the smallness of the baby, and compared it to another small thing. In Zechariah 4:10 a man holds in his hand a small object, a plum bob on a string. It is a very small object, but it is a sign than soon something big is about to begin, a project that will include some destruction and some building up. The holder of the small object will use it to make his judgments, depending on what relationship the object of his attention has with the plumb line. Jesus, though small, makes a line. God views us in relationship to his Son. What side of the line are you on?”

Tonight we are going to watch all eight hours of a DVD series we have based on the book “Bleak House” by Charles Dickens. It is really very good.

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Family Reunion Plus

Bethany and Rachel have come home for a 5 week Christmas break from their studies at Pensacola Christian College in Florida. They brought with them two fine young men, Max and Abe Kennedy. They are helping us paint the church, get some chores done and of course, a bit of site-seeing in as well. This is us visiting an Indian village on the south coast.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

What goes around, comes around. Mostly good came around this week.

Some good things came around this week. We found out that Evangel Baptist Church in Florida sent us a love offering of more than $1,600! Thanks Evangel! I reached 52 years old Sunday and got some nice presents from Tina and our twins, Sarah and Kristin. Monday I gave final exams and the students in my American History class all got A’s . In World Religion and also in American History, I had our Bible college students make videos and many of them where either very good or very funny.

There are some great things coming up as well. Bethany and Rachel and two boyfriends are coming to our house in Puerto Rico from Dec 16-Jan 18. We are very excited about having the whole family together again and getting to know these young men.

Some not so fun things come around too: I designed an fill in the blank, long answer type of final exam, and now have to grade them all. It takes longer to write a multiple choice test, but the grading is a LOT easier. Maybe next time I will learn.

Our church attendence was going up for a while, but some elderly members got sick and some teens got jobs on Sunday. The teen job situation does not just absent the teen but sometimes the whole family. Most don’t drive, so the parents drive them to work and we end up missing the entire family groups over this situation.

But as a whole, a lot more blessings are coming around. We are trying an experiment with our Wednesday night services to increase attendance. We are having them in a different home every week. Attendance has picked up. My hope is that we can return to the church building Wednesday nights and maintain the increase that have come about through our round-robin type of prayer meetings.

Friday, December 01, 2006

"It's never to late to be who you might have been" Geroge Eliot (1890-1880)

This coming Sunday is my birthday, I will be 52 years old. As a young man I had thought to divide my life into three parts: Preparation (college + basic work experience), Application (work) and Transmission (passing on what I have learned).

In general terms, I have followed this outline and am happy with it. At 52 years old, I would like to have accomplished more. But even so, the Lord has been good to us, and we have been blessed to have seen fruit in our ministry.

I am still church planting and have a Bible College ministry. I have not left the one to do the other. Church planting is our ministry. The Bible college is secondary, but it is not something ‘extra” we are doing that is unrelated to church planting. The Bible college ministry is directly related to our church planting, because it is through our college that we train the men who we will bring in as the future pastors of the churches we plant.

To sustain the college, we have begun work on establishing a Seminary. I have posted my first class online and hope to develop an entire distance learning option for those who cannot attend in person.

Our vision is to have on the island of Puerto Rico everything that the church needs to complete its mission. That included a place where our Bible college graduates can get further training and then come back as professors and help us expand the Bible College, and so provide more men and better trained men for the work of church planting, missions and evangelism.

So, in spite of wishing I had more to show for my 52 years, I am content to have been part of something important and to have seen the Lord bless. I have many reasons to rejoice.

No matter how you look at it, the future looks good when God is in it!


Here are a few Thanksgiving verses I used in a service last week:

Joel 2:25 I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpiller, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you. 26 And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, that hath dealt wondrously with you: and my people shall never be ashamed.

Habakkuk 3 17 Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: 18Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. 19 The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places.