The Great Intervention

We have a cat that the kids named Molly. I just call her cat. During the day she is outside and comes in at night. Recently she climbed up in our carport where she was stuck. I thought, she climbed up there, she has to know how to come down. That was not the case.

I ended up having to get a ladder out, climb to the very top and grab her to bring her down. In the process I was scratched by her and my jacket received some nice new holes from her claws.

I needed to intervene.

The word “intervene” means to take action to improve the situation.

Intervention is Needed

Like my cat, we have found ourselves in a dire predicament. I am not talking about just making some bad decisions. I am talking about a spiritual condition that has left us unable to save ourselves. We need an intervention.

A book that I would recommend to read more than once would be Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan. It is a classic with so many metaphors for the Christian life that is so relevant for us today. 

There is this one particular moment where the main character, Christian, is trying to get the burden off his back. He runs into a man named, Mr. Worldly Wiseman. Christian wants to go to the path to remove his burden and go to the Celestial City. Mr. Worldly Wiseman is asking why he would want to go that way: 

Mr. Worldly Wiseman says, “If you continue in this direction, you are likely to experience wearisomeness, painfulness, hunger, perils, nakedness, sword, lions, dragons, darkness, and, in a word, death, and who knows what else.”

Christian responds, “Why Sir, this burden upon my back is more terrible to me than all these things which you have mentioned.”

The Burden

Christian understood that the burden on his back was worse than the dangers that were ahead. He would be willing to endure those terrors in order to be relieved from his burden. 

This is so insightful for me because many times we want relief or intervention from our problems. This is not a bad desire; I want that at times. But if we misunderstand that there is a greater danger, a heavier burden, that we face besides trials and tribulations which is sin than those trials and tribulations will be unbearable. 

I have to understand that sin is worse than trials or tribulations. Sin is worse than the dragons according to Christian in Pilgrim’s Progress. Sin is worse than sickness or disease even. Sin is an eternal problem. A weight that is incomparable that every human being bears (Romans 3:23). 

We may ask for intervention/help from those trials and tribulations. Sometimes that happens and sometimes not. If intervention happens for those than it is just for a time. We still are in a dire predicament. For the believer it is very important for us to understand that the great intervention did take place. 

Sin has been paid for. The burden can come off. This is better than even healing or relief to come temporarily because there is eternal healing and eternal relief that is in Christ. Just like Christian in Pilgrim’s Progress who understood that the burden coming off meant more than the dangers he would face on his journey. 

Friend, the burden can come off, Jesus paid the price by giving his life. Turn to him, call on his name to be saved (Romans 10:13).

A Life of Service

Blog Recap: Here is an article on the life of Amy Carmichael to share with you again. She was a missionary in India who founded an orphanage.

I am reminded of the fruit of the Spirit which is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22–23). These are the reflection of Jesus Christ. We are to reflect Jesus in all things, and that is also in the fruit of the Spirit.

Not everyone may be familiar with Amy Carmichael or her writings but she is a world changer. There is a sweet vault of wealth that comes from the writings of Amy Carmichael. You read the spiritual riches that she possessed that came from her heart that was joined to Christ. Amy Carmichael is a world changer as she served the country of India by bringing the message of salvation to a dark place.

Amy served India for over 55 years, opening an orphanage and founding a mission in Dohnavur. She was a prolific writer, which includes many books of poetry, her testimony of the mission work, her biography, and devotionals.

My first hearing of Amy Carmichael was as a child in school. The story goes that Amy, who is the oldest of seven siblings, was born with brown eyes but wished she had blue eyes like her brother. She would often pinch his cheeks to make the blue in his eyes stand out. As an adult, she realized that God gave her brown eyes to help her gain more acceptance in India. I don’t know if this story is true. I couldn’t find a credible source either way, but she knew God had molded her and created her to be a vessel in India.

Amy was born in a small village in Ireland in 1867. She was raised in a God-fearing family. God equipped Amy with a strong personality. She left Scotland as she was accepted by the Japanese Evangelist Board, and sailed to Japan in March 1893. Once she entered Japan, she wasted no time going throughout the streets with a translator sharing Jesus Christ. She wore the native dress.

She entered India in 1895, where she remained until her death in 1951. Though her original goal in going to India was not to start an orphanage, God directed her steps. It started when a seven-year-old girl, Preena, came running to Amy to be rescued. Rescued from what? Her family was going to sell her to the temple where she would become a temple prostitute. Though dark, this was the custom in India and Amy would make her aim in caring for the children that were to be forced in this life. She would wear the dress of the culture, and dye her skin with coffee to make her skin darker in appearance to be accepted.

By 1904, seventeen children were under her care. It would continually grow. Amy soon was called “Amma,” which in Tamul means mother. At the mission, her job was to be a nurse to those who were sick, to teach the children the basics, and raise them up in the ways of the Lord. Though Amy never married or had children, God gave her many children to raise as her own. Through Amy’s life, she was able to help thousands of children and to this day, the Dohnavur Fellowship continues.

In 1931, she suffered a serious fall, which would change her daily life. Though not completely bedridden, she was very limited in mobility. She would never recover from this injury, and had another serious fall in 1948. This fall resulted in her being bedridden for the remainder of her life until the Lord brought her home. Through this season in her life, she wrote more than 13 books, which shows her diversity and knowledge.

Her Impact:

You may not be familiar with Amy Carmichael but once you read some of her writings it doesn’t take long to see her impact. Elizabeth Elliot, greatly impacted by Amy Carmichael, said, “With the exception of my parents, there is no one who has more deeply influenced my spiritual life than Amy Carmichael.”

Amy is known to have said, “Nothing is important but that which is eternal.” She lived by that mindset by counting the cost, leaving her home, and living in an unfamiliar place where should would be an example of Christ to them.

Amy never solicited funds from anyone. She never left India and never sought financial help. Amy was encouraged by the way George Muller trusted God for His provisions of the thousands of orphans that were under his care, and she had the same mindset with the ministry God entrusted to her. John 15:7 says, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” That was her motivation.

She had a mindset of prayer and had this motto with everyone who served in the mission:

1) We don’t need to explain to our Father things that are known to Him.
2) We don’t need to press Him as if we had to deal with an unwilling God.
3) We don’t need to suggest to Him what to do, for He Himself knows what to do.[1]

Amy not only left an impact with the thousands of children she rescued and freed from temple prostitution, but left a greater impact through the power of the gospel as many lives were changed forever.

She was in a dark land that was in the clutches of Satan, but we know God is in control and is greater. We must remind ourselves that when it may seem the darkest, light shines the brightest. God has called His church to infiltrate, and that is exactly what Amy did with her life.

She Teaches Us the Importance of Being Steadfast Until the Very End:

It would have been understandable for Amy to go back home to Scotland with her family at any point in her life, but she resolved in her heart that India was her home. I am reminded of what Paul wrote to Timothy in his last letter to his son in the faith. He said, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7–8 ESV).

In one of Amy’s poems, she so eloquently portrays her steadfastness by saying:

From prayer that asks that I may be
Sheltered from winds that beat on Thee,
From fearing when I should aspire,
From faltering when I should climb higher,
From silken self, O Captain, free
Thy soldier who would follow Thee.[2]

Amy Carmichael is a world changer. As you read about her life, may it be a fan to your flame of faith as you serve the Lord.

Shadow and shine art Thou,
Dear Lord, to me;
Pillar of cloud and fire,
I follow Thee.
What though the way be long,
In Thee my heart is strong,
Thou art my joy, and song —
Praise, praise to Thee

Family Update

A Long Time Since You Heard From Us

Hello Everyone!

I hope and pray you are doing well. I must apologize for not writing more. It has been a huge adjustment to this new season of life and blocking out time to write has not been my best discipline. 

In Washington we were able to have our first snow of the season. I took this picture early on because it didn’t last. By the end of the day, all the snow melted. It sure is pretty to look at! 

Here is an update regarding us as a family:

The kids- They are doing great!

Jackson and Jude are involved in the youth basketball of the area and are loving it. A big moment was for Jude stepping out of his comfort zone and doing something he has never done. He was hesitant at first but loves it.

Jude had some educational setbacks before we left California and with COVID making things even harder it set him back even more. This year he has grown leaps and bounds in reading and writing. I get excited to see him pick up a book now and start reading it. He is getting closer and closer to where he needs to be and the way he pushes himself through these struggles is quite inspirational. 

Adah is doing well in 7th grade. She is making new friends that she has invited to youth group at our church. I am amazed at her willingness to share the gospel and invite kids to the church. She is excelling at school and really has started to apply herself. She is maturing into such a godly woman, it is great to see. 

Jackson is loving his friends and sports. He is quite an athlete. He did baseball in the fall and now basketball. He loves it and is having fun. He is doing well at school and loves going and learning. 

She has gone through so much with her health. She was diagnosed with IIH earlier this year. Here is a brief description from Alyssa about it, “IIH is a brain condition called Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension or IIH. In short I have too much spinal fluid in my head. I was relieved talking to the doctor because I have raised concerns about my symptoms for years while being brushed off; the main symptoms being headaches and a form of tendinitis.” 

She has dealt with this for many years and to have a diagnosis is helpful. So far she has had her medication changed three times and each time it takes her a couple of weeks to adjust. I am encouraged by how she has handled all of this. The move alone has been rough in certain way but on top of that being diagnosed with something that has impacted her for so long and learning how to go forward has not been easy to say the least. 

We have a great community that has reached out and been mindful of her and her health.

God has her in his hands. She is liking working in Juvenile Detention and has a great crew to work alongside of. There have been some heavy cases and we just see that people need Jesus so much. 

This year has been full of many things. I just completed another semester for my Masters of Theology program. I have about three classes left. I am shooting to be done by the Spring. 

I also completed my EMT course to be certified to serve as a volunteer firefighter. I passed the course and also the test for the national registry. I don’t recommend doing both masters program and the EMT course at the same time as it was a little hectic to say the least. Alyssa and the kids were very patient with me through this endeavor. 

The church, RCBC, is going well. The Lord continues to amaze me with his faithfulness. He has been faithful in the finances of the church and with many new families being added to the church. I am very confident that God has placed RCBC exactly where it is to be a light in the community. The gospel continues to be shared weekly and people are confronted with the truth. I get excited to see the growth and what God is doing. We see because of sin we were dead in our sins and trespasses but God who is rich in mercy and great in love makes us alive in Christ Jesus. 

This year we completed a series on What is the Church?Jesus Fulfills: Looking at the Festivals in the book of JohnThe Book of Acts (a lot of the recordings we did not get as we were outside for most of the summer), and we just started our Christmas series called, Come Let us Adore Him.  

We have been able to experience the seasons now and see how winter can be tiring. We are currently getting ready to see some family for a little bit and it will be a nice time to reconnect with friends as well. 

Going Forward:
We plan on continuing to be part of the community where God has placed us. We see that the fields are ready for harvest but the laborers are few (seems to be a trend today with finding workers, lol). Where God leads, we want to follow!

A big thank you all for your continued prayers and support. We miss you all and long for days we can see one another again!

Stick to Your Guns

It is an interesting phrase for sure. I heard it recently and wondered where did it come from. The meaning of the phrase is basically for a soldier to stay at their post and not give way. Some trace this phrase all the way back 1769 by Samuel Johnson.

I believe the same phrase can be true to Christians with the core doctrines of faith. More specifically would be the centrality of Scripture. If one does not depend on Scripture everything else will follow. Ones doctrines and beliefs, if not grounded from the Bible will change and compromise will take place. Like dominoes standing on end, knock this down, your life will follow.

More than ever it would seem that we must lead with our convictions which stem from the Bible. What do we need to hold too?

  • Hold to the Word of God as authoritative and Inspired (2 Tim 3:15-17).
  • Hold to the Word of God that it is relevant today and is what you need (Heb 4:12).
  • Hold to the Word of God that it is how God has spoken to us. This is how God has revealed himself in a special way (John 1:14; 2 Tim 3:15-17).
  • Hold to the importance that the Bible leads people to faith (Rom 10:17).

King David is attributed to writing this:

The law of the Lord is perfect,
    reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure,
    making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right,
    rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure,
    enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is clean,
    enduring forever;
the rules of the Lord are true,
    and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold,
    even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
    and drippings of the honeycomb.
11 Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
    in keeping them there is great reward (Psalm 19:7-11 ESV).

What is the Mission of the Church?

This past Sunday I had the opportunity to preach on what is the mission of the church?

There are a lot of good things the church can do. In fact, we should do good unto others especially of those of the household of faith (Gal. 6:10). The question then comes up what does good mean? That is for a different time.

Though there are many things that a church can go and to be busy with, there is really only one mission of the church. We find what that is in Matthew 28:18-20. Jesus said, “And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

We have the mission and that is to make disciples.

You can listen to the whole sermon below:

Does this Offend You?

Does this Offend you?
Photo by Carolyn V on Unsplash

A little bit of controversy has come up from this poster from a local mall which promoted our church’s Southern California outreach . Harvest, my church has done this outreach for last twenty-nine years.
Different news outlets have reported on this where you can read more here. We as a church were first asked to modify it due to different complaints and one “threat” which the church complied because of the Bible that Pastor Greg Laurie is holding (Even though it is a Bible, the poster depicts more of a black book).  Eventually, we were asked to remove the banners completely from the mall.
The Bible has been a staple in our American culture with families having one in their living rooms to finding a Gideon’s Bible in every hotel room. Times have changed! The Bible which points people to the freedom from sin found in Jesus Christ alone is not valued but considered offensive. We should not be surprised by this. Continue reading “Does this Offend You?”

Jim Elliot (1927-1956)

jim-elliot“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose,” wrote Jim Elliot as a college student in his journal in 1949. These words were deeply seated in his heart. He did not just write a pithy phrase; he believed what he wrote and was willing to live and die by these words. These same words have also encouraged and inspired so many other men and women for the cause of Christ.

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”

Jim Elliot lived to be 28 years old, a life the world would call short-lived and wasted. That would be farthest from the truth. Jim Elliot’s life, though short, was not wasted. God, who directed Jim every step of the way, would direct him to serve the people in Ecuador. God directed Jim and fellow missionaries in taking the dangerous journey to a native Indian tribe that had the potential to be violent. They boarded a plane and landed on a beach head to make contact with this Indian group. It was the end of Jim’s life as he and the fellow missionaries, Nate Saint, Ed McCully, Pete Fleming, and Roger Youderian, were killed at the hands of the Huaorani people of Ecuador, whom they went to win for Christ. It may have been the end of their life on earth but it was the beginning of God’s grace and outpouring on that people group.
The world called it a nightmare, a tragedy, wasted life, but what the world did not know was that through tragedy, God does great and mighty things. Jim’s wife, Elisabeth, who would share Jim’s story with the world, said, “To the world at large this was a sad waste of five young lives. But…the Auca story…during all the years since as I have recounted it…has pointed to one thing: God is God. If He is God, He is worthy of my worship and my service. I will find rest nowhere but in His will, and that will is infinitely, immeasurably, unspeakably beyond my largest notions of what He is up to.” Through Jim’s death and Elisabeth’s faithfulness despite tragedy, God would use Elisabeth Elliot to minister to the same tribe that killed her husband. The murderous tribe would become a tribe of forgiven men and women who looked to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
Jim Elliot is a world changer as he shows us God uses those who are willing to be spent for Him. Jesus said, “Whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life, for my sake will find it (Matthew 16:25 ESV).” He was willing to lose it.
Jim Elliot was born in 1927 in Portland, Oregon, in a God-fearing family. He, at a young age, desired to follow Christ and live for Him. Where we see a lot of spiritual development is when he went to college.
Within the first two years at Wheaton College is when he realized that he was called to be a missionary. The Great Commission was directed at him. His black journal that he would carry around in college, which later would be found on the beach of the Curaray River where his body was found, was filled with sermon notes in different languages such as Spanish, English, and Quechua. He had notes on the Auca language, and several pages of mission statistics. It contained several hundred names of people that Jim was praying for and he even had a recipe on how to make a bar of soap as if he was preparing for the pioneer life of mission work.[1]
This was a commitment that he was willing to stick with. He was so passionate about mission work that he hitchhiked during one of his summers to Mexico to visit a friend’s parents who were missionaries. There he was amazed and in love with mission work. This confirmed his calling by the Lord.
Jim would graduate from college, where he took the time to prepare for the mission field of Ecuador. He was not idle and spent his time preparing properly.
The story of Jim and Elisabeth Elliot is quite remarkable and could be another article in and of itself. They met in college and were quite good friends. Yes, Jim was interested in her but he took his time to know what exactly was the will of the Lord for their relationship. They both had the same desire: to reach the lost in Ecuador. They would eventually be married in Ecuador where the Lord directed both of them serve.

He had a strong focus on his calling.

Jim Elliot was very mature for his age and what helped in his maturity was his focus and confidence in his calling. Jim would write in his journal,

“Men who live and never understand what they were created for may be said indeed to be ‘dead,’ As the Scriptures say, ‘Where there is no vision, the people perish.’”[2]

This means the decisions of what classes and even his extracurricular classes were made with this objective view in mind. He would have this single-focus vision as he spent his free time and studied Scripture and prepared his body for mission work.
We can learn how important it is to have a strong focus in our lives. We can easily get distracted from the things of this world. He wrote how important it is to have quietness to help with determined focus.

“‘And the work of righteousness shall be peace, and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance forever (Isaiah 32:17).’ ‘In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength.’ I think the devil has made it his business to monopolize on three elements: noise, hurry, crowds.…But he will not allow quietness. For he believes Isaiah where we do not. Satan is quite aware of the power of silence. The voice of God, though persistent, is soft.”[3]

It is easy to get distracted with the busyness of this world. If the devil can’t have you, he will distract you. Christians should have a singular focus, and that is making disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19).

 Obedience is costly.

At age 20, he said somewhat prophetically, “I seek not a long life but a full one, like you, Lord Jesus.”[4] He may not have known that the Lord would call him home at the age of 28, but he did desire to live a full and faithful life to the Lord.
He knew in Scripture it shares that obedience to follow after Christ can be costly, but it is worth it. He would write out 2 Timothy 2:4: “No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.”[5]
Jim Elliot is a world changer as he was willing to count the cost and take the risk, which cost him his life, to seek the lost and share Jesus with them. Through his death and the death of his fellow missionaries, we see that God did not waste their deaths. Many were saved by faith through God’s grace. We may not even know the extent of their impact as their story continues to be shared to the world. May we be like Jim and say, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”
[1] Elliot, Elisabeth. Shadow of the Almighty. Pg. 54
[2] IBID. Pg. 182
[3] IBID. Pg. 112-113
[4] IBID. Pg. 68.
[5] IBID. Pg. 44

Why are Family Devotions so Hard?

It’s a new year with some new goals that you may have as a family. What are they? Maybe it is eating better as a family. Or, being a better steward of all that God gave you. Maybe one of those New Year Resolutions would be being better at doing family devotions. Maybe last year you wanted to do it and you had all of the best intentions but it just never happened. All resolutions are tough to keep going but I would argue the spiritual ones seem to be even harder because we have an enemy, the devil, that wants to distract you and destroy you. You may start out strong but stuff happens throughout the year and you find yourself asking, “we didn’t really keep it up, what happened?” Why are family devotions so hard? Here are a few reasons why.
Continue reading “Why are Family Devotions so Hard?”

Being in Awe of God

What are some things that make you say, “That was awesome”? Maybe it is standing on the beach and watching the waves crash, hearing the thunderous sound and feeling the cool spray of the ocean’s mist on your face. Maybe it is sitting in an airplane and looking out the window at 40,000 feet and seeing how big the world is as you fly high above the ground. Maybe it is looking up at night and seeing the moon in the sky like a big pizza pie and the stars and everything that displays God’s handiwork. You can’t help but say, Awesome! These are just a glimpse or a snapshot of God’s glory and power.
Why is it important for us to be reminded of God’s glory? Continue reading “Being in Awe of God”