Apr 18, 2014 - missionary    No Comments

Why is it Good Friday?

If there was ever a day in all of history to be called “good”, Good Friday is such a day for mankind.  This is the day in which Jesus, the lamb of God, was slain for the sins of the world.  This was the day in which the holy wrath of God against sin was poured out on the Son of God who was dying in our place.

You see, it was us, me and you, and every single person in the world who should have been the ones receiving the wrath of God.  We are the ones who have turned our back on our creator and have lived for ourselves instead of seeking to live for Him.  He is not just a loving God, but He is first of all holy. As a matter of fact, the attribute of His holiness is far more expressed throughout Scripture than His love.  The only time in Scripture where an attribute is ascribed to Him in a repeated form is when it mentions His holiness.  Isaiah cried out, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord…”  The angels and saints of God in the book of Revelation continuously cry out “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God almighty…”  So, God’s holiness is reflected in everything that God is and everything that God does.  That is why when He made us, He commanded us to be holy so that we might walk before Him.

But man fell.  Man fell to the temptation in the garden of Eden through the wiles of the serpent to the same temptations that man falls to today…autonomy and the quest for power and control.  Man turned his back on His creator and chose to follow his own desires.  Yes, I am talking about Adam and Eve, which as a result, the Scriptures teach that we are all condemned because of their sin. It’s called Federal Headship…Adam was our representative for all mankind. He represented the whole human race.  When he fell, we all fell.  So many people hate to hear such a thing. The fact that we could be blamed for the sin of somebody who lived thousands of years ago seem absurd to them.  But that is what Scripture teaches us.  But the truth is, my friends, we don’t need Adam’s sin to place us guilty before God.  We have all sinned and turned our back on the God who loved us and created us for His good pleasure.  We have spurned His goodness and decided that we could do better on our own.  So, whether you want to attribute your sin to Adam or not…the fact is that we are all guilty of turning away from the living God to live instead for our own selfish purposes.  Should we be surprised that God’s wrath should burn hot against us?  He gave us everything we have…everything we are…our very existence is owed entirely to the sovereign God of the universe.  And He commanded that we obey Him, yet we decided instead to obey our own carnal desires.  Yes, God has every right to pour out His wrath on such sin.  We fully deserve it for all the ways in which we have rejected God and sought to live life apart from His prescribed way that was given to us.

But back to Good Friday.  We see that we as the created fully deserve the wrath of the creator because of the way that we have repeatedly turned our backs to Him and rejected His prescribed way of holiness.  And a God who is both perfectly holy and perfectly just must punish such a grave act of disobedience.  But now we must understand also that as well as being perfectly holy and perfectly just, He is also a God of incredible mercy, grace, and love.  He loved us so much. His desire has always been to have on-going fellowship with Him forever.  He created man and woman simply to enjoy their fellowship for His glory.  And so, in perfect justice and perfect mercy, He provides the way for sin to be punished and a way for His children to be forgiven and brought back into perfect fellowship with Him.

The cross.  It is not just an icon of antiquity.  It is not just a religious symbol.  It is not just a fine piece of jewelry.  It is the place where justice and mercy came together in the most glorious way ever known.  It is the place where Jesus took our place so that we could be pardoned from our gross offenses.  God had to punish sin otherwise He could not be considered holy and just.  But God loved us so much that He did not want us to be lost forever in hell, forever separated from His love and goodness.  And so, in the greatest act of love, God became man in the person of Jesus Christ. And Jesus was sent to earth for one purpose…not to be a great religious man…not to be one of the world’s greatest philosophers…not to be a good moral teacher. No, He came to reconcile fallen man back to right relationship with God.  And the only way in which this would be possible would be to first fulfill completely the holy law of God, satisfying the requirement of holiness and obedience, and then also to suffer Himself for the penalty of not following God’s perfect law of holiness and obedience…the penalty that we ourselves deserved, not Jesus who fulfilled all righteousness.  But He suffered in our place.

The cross was the place of the great exchange. Jesus took our death penalty upon Himself.  Our sin deserved God’s holy wrath and fury…a wrath and fury that will one day send the unrepentant sinner to hell forever separated from all that is good and light.  That is what we deserve for turning away from the living God. But instead of us getting that punishment, Jesus took our place. All the righteousness that was in Jesus from perfectly obeying and fulfilling the law was given to us while all our sin and rebellious acts against God were placed on Him when He hung on the cross.  He was our substitute.  He gave us His life while taking our death.  O what love we have in Christ our Savior!

Now, the sinner can be set free from the condemnation that he was under.  Now, fallen man can be reconciled back to God.  Now, the redeemed person has been credited with the perfect righteousness and obedience of Christ and has had his filthy garments of sin and rebellion forever taken away.  When God looks at the redeemed, He sees them as being perfectly complete in the righteousness of Christ, and He is well pleased to look upon them and dwell with them forever.

Remember the concept of Federal Headship?  Many people don’t want to buy into the fact that Adam’s sin was credited to our own account even though we had nothing to do with it.  I can understand that.  But the Bible says that that’s the way it is.  All those who were under Adam, being the whole human race, inherited what Adam inherited…condemnation and death.  But now, in Christ, the concept of Federal Headship shines gloriously.  For all those who are under the headship of Jesus also inherit what Jesus inherited on our behalf…forgiveness, righteousness, and eternal life.  This is given to all of those who are in Christ…all God has called to Himself.  He has redeemed them…bought them back from the penalty of death that they were once under.  The punishment against their sin has already been paid in full when Jesus died on the cross. His last words were “It is finished”. This signified that the penalty of God’s wrath was forever satisfied.  All those whom Jesus died for have been forever free from God’s wrath. The believer will never experience God’s wrath against their sin because Jesus already bore the fulness of that wrath when He hung and died on the cross.  It is indeed Good Friday for all those who have their hope in Christ.  Redemption has been accomplished.  Justice has been served.  Mercy has been given!  Thank you Jesus!

My final word is a plea to all who will read this who have not completely yielded their lives to the Lordship of Jesus Christ…those who, Scripture says, are still dead in their sins.  Remember, God’s wrath was fully satisfied for the believer only…not for the whole world.  If His wrath was already satisfied for the whole world, then nobody would ever have to fear the penalty of hell for rejecting God.  But the truth is that hell is real and it is a place where all those who reject God will go. Why?  Because God’s wrath against sin must be punished.  Christ’s death, the shedding of His precious blood, will cover every single microfiber of the believer’s sin. The believer will never experience one iota of the wrath of God. The believer stands secure forever that he is at peace with God and will dwell with Him for eternity. But the one who rejects this offer, which is simply an offer of grace because nobody can earn it or deserves it, has only a fearful expectation of a future judgment…a judgment in which they will have to give an account to God for the way that they have rejected His offer of mercy…a judgment that will show clearly that their own sin and rebellion has rightly condemned them forever.  It would be no different for the believer were it not for the righteousness that he will be clothed with…a righteousness that comes not from themselves or anything they have done, but rather that comes from Christ Himself, and was purchased for them by His precious blood.  The believer will stand secure on that final day, having the judgment of his sins already atoned for by what Christ has done. The non-believer will have to still pay for his sins…and that payment will be the full wrath of God set against him as he is forever separated from His love and goodness.  To you who read this who have not yet trusted in Christ…your sin has not been covered!  You cannot save yourself by anything that you do…You are not nor ever will be righteous enough on your own…What will you do on the day that you stand before God and give account?  I plead with you today, this very day that we call “Good Friday”, surrender your life to Jesus.  Plead to God that He would open your eyes so that you would see your great need of Him, and that you would truly see that His blood is the only sufficient means of being forgiven and accepted by God.  Turn your hearts to Him today.  Turn away from living for yourself and turn at once to the living God.  He is worthy to receive all glory, honor, and praise.  With His blood, He has rescued sinners from every nation, tribe, and tongue to be gathered to Him for eternity forever living in His glorious presence.  Do not wait, my friend.  Today is the day of salvation.  Will it indeed be for you a Good Friday?

(To all who read this and are part of the fellowship of Christ, please feel free to pass this on to any whom you know that need to hear the message of salvation in Christ.  God bless you.

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Apr 16, 2014 - missionary    No Comments

Reaching Panama with the Gospel

I just returned from a nine day trip to Panama where myself and two others spent a week teaching, training, and equipping pastors and leaders from Panama to be more effective in their ministry to their own people.  The week was exhausting and rewarding at the same time.  It was exhausting because we were teaching twice a day for about four hours in two different locations. So, we taught from 8AM – 12PM in a rural town called Capira.  Then we would get back to the house for lunch at about 2:00PM.  We would be able to rest for a little while, and then we would get picked up at 5:30 to teach at the church in Panama City from 6:00PM – 9PM, and sometimes beyond.  In total, we each taught about 15 hours.  My part was all the more challenging because I did all my teaching in Spanish!  That really put my language skills to the test.  But it was so rewarding to see pastors, leaders, and church members receive knowledge, encouragement, challenge, and excitement as they put themselves to learn all throughout the week.

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Our session for the week was on Church History.  We also did one hour per day of teaching on the spiritual discipline of Scripture Meditation.  I led three of these sessions and I put together a mini-training on the Inductive Bible Study method.  It was great to see them receive a solid tool that will help them learn to rightly divide the Word of Truth.  Many were really excited as they learned this practical method of studying and understanding the Bible.  The last session was a practice workshop for them to put into practice what I had taught them in the previous sessions. So, I assigned each small group a passage of Scripture and had them put into practice all that they had learned.

One woman was so excited as she was sharing about how difficult it has been for her to understand some Scripture, but now she has so much hope that she will be able to really understand what she is reading.  She was so excited that I told her that she won the prize, and I gave her a pack of colored pens and pencils that she can use as she begins to put to practice the Inductive Study method.

 

 

 

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Another awesome highlight was seeing indigenous people who were part of the group.  These people are from various tribes that still have not been fully reached with the Gospel. Some of these tribes, such as the Embara don’t even have all the Scriptures in their own language.  So, it was awesome to see some of these people writing notes and putting into practice things that they were being taught. Knowing that this knowledge will be carried back to their own people so that they too may know the hope which we have in Jesus Christ.  One missionary there is teaching some of these indigenous tribes Bible Storying, which is basically sharing the message of the Gospel through oral story telling since many of the people are not literate.  So, each morning, one of the indigenous people shared a two minute story of a specific account in Scripture.  It was awesome to see the glories of God being made known in story form to those who may never get the chance to read the Scriptures.  His Word will go forth and reach all those who are meant to hear and respond.

I also had the opportunity to meet a young guy who recently came to faith in Christ.  He is super fired up to share Christ with those around him and to live in a way that honors God.  I told him that I would like to remain in contact with him so that I can encourage him and put some good resources his way so that he is discipled in the truth of Scripture. He was very thankful for my offer.  I love seeing young guys on fire for the Lord.

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Having spent the week training up the leadership of the church to be more effective fishers of men, it was only fitting that we were able to end our week being fisherman!  What a treat that a friend of one of our group knew a guy who has a boat and he offered to take us out on the ocean.  We caught a bunch of huge grouper. I only wish that it wasn’t the last day so that we could have enjoyed how they tasted.

Overall, it was a great week.  I am super excited to be part of Reaching and Teaching International Ministries.  Just to know that at the same time that we were in Panama teaching and training pastors, there was another team in Ecuador doing the same thing.  And soon a team will travel to Brazil where they are launching their first Reaching and Teaching program…and they will also be in Peru, Dominican Republic, etc.  I love being part of this organization that is so focused on equipping and training pastors and leaders so that they can be most effective in reaching their own people for the glory of God.

I’m also so thankful to God for giving me an excellent wife!  She held down the fort with three kids for nine days all by herself.  She is such a blessing and I’m so thankful to have her as my help-mate, lover, and best friend.

 

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Feb 11, 2014 - christianity, Susana    4 Comments

Remembering Susana on her 3 year home going anniversary…

Today, February 11th, is a day that will forever have a shadow cast upon it as it was this day three years ago in which my little girl was temporarily removed from us and carried by the angels to her heavenly home.  The pain that we felt in that moment is something that will never be able to be fully described. The scars that we bear are ones that will never be able to be fully visible to the naked eye.  It is a pain like no other pain.  It is the deepest level of suffering that I have ever known. But God has been so faithful through it all to reveal Himself to us, comfort our broken hearts, pour out His love, and give us a greater assurance than ever of the hope we have in Him.

The Bible, in speaking about this specific hope (the resurrection of the saints from the dead), tells us in 2 Thes. 4:13 “But we do not want you to be uninformed brothers, about those who are asleep (dead), that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.”  I shared this same verse when I spoke at my daughter’s memorial home going service.  I also handed out to everyone a tiny square of black cloth, reminding us that, yes, grief is still real, there is indeed a dark shadow that has cast itself upon our lives, but still we have a greater hope because of Christ rising from the grave.  So, yes, I still have that small black square cloth that covers a part of my heart, and it is as real as can be, but the light of the hope of the Gospel far outshines any shadows that may linger still.  As Paul stated in Thessalonians, we don’t grieve like those who have no hope.  What does that mean?  Yes, we still grieve.  There is still the sting of death and separation that we currently feel, but our hope is in God and we know that He has overcome the power of the grave, that death has been defeated…that Christ has risen from the dead, giving us who hope in Him the assurance that we too shall rise.

And so, that day three years ago upon my daughter’s bed, with my natural eyes I saw life leave my little girl once and for all, but the reality, though I was not privy to see it, is that my little girl immediately crossed from death to life.  She was immediately ushered into the presence of the living God, gathered around with all the saints of old that have passed on before us.  She immediately became one of the great cloud of witnesses that Hebrews 12 mentions who are now eagerly looking down upon us and waiting for us all to finish our race so that the fulness of God’s redemptive plan can be put into effect.  Though I did not personally witness these things with the naked eye,  I trust fully in God’s Word which reveals His power, His goodness, and His love, and so I know that my little girl is only experiencing life to the fullest in this very moment.  There is not the slightest black cloth that shrouds her heart. She is fully free and able to see God in all of His glory.

But for me, yes there is still a pain that remains…and shall remain until that great and glorious day when I too shall finish my race and be ushered by the angels into the presence of my God and King.  So, though I have a lingering shadow over this day, more importantly I have a great reminder of the light that has come, which has expelled darkness, which has opened the way for eternal life, which has defeated the power of the grave, which has purchased me for eternity by His precious blood, and which has given me the blessed hope that I shall one day be with Him and all the saints of God for eternity.  What a great hope we have in Jesus!

And so, I am reminded again from God’s precious Word in Rom. 8:18 “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”  And again in 2 Cor. 4:17 “For this light and momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.”  O blessed assurance, Jesus is mine.  O what a foretaste of glory divine…This is my story…This is my song.  Here’s to remembering my precious Susana and the blessed hope we have in Christ.

 

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Jan 2, 2014 - missionary    1 Comment

We have changed our mission agency to Reaching & Teaching

To our support team,

 

Happy New Year to all of you!  May the Lord give us continued grace and strength to love and pursue Him above all other things and may He give us favor among the people as we seek to make His great name known.  We pray that this upcoming year will bring about many great new things for God in your lives.

 

This is such the case with us. We have some very important news to share with you.  We have changed our mission agency from Global Outreach International to an agency called Reaching and Teaching International Ministries (RTIM).  The change is effective as of January 1st.  We have known the founder of RTIM, Dr. David Sills, for a few years now as he was a board member of Global Outreach. Dr. Sills himself was a missionary in Ecuador for over 12 years, therefore he has quite a bit of experience in knowing how to minister to Latin America.  

 

We have been discussing and planning for this change for quite some time. The reason being is that RTIM is much more directly in line with both our doctrinal beliefs as well as our philosophy of ministry. Their vision is simply to reach the Latin American countries with the biblical Gospel and train up nationals in mature biblical truth so that they may in turn reach their own people.  This is exactly what we are trying to do here in Nicaragua.  Therefore, their focus is specifically on discipleship and equipping, something that has been greatly lacking in Latin America.  We also will be working with them directly here on the field as they send us teams periodically to help us develop a training and equipping program for pastors and leaders.  We are very excited to see how God is going to use this partnership for His glory. 

 

We have served with Global Outreach International since 2009 and have been blessed to have been part of their mission family, but we truly believe that the Lord is leading us to transition to RTIM so as to be more effective in our mission of reaching the people of Nicaragua with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Our work here does not change, just our mission agency.

 

Therefore the way we receive your monthly giving will change.  THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT.

 

For online donations, we are transitioning to Reaching & Teaching’s online giving portal which will allow you to manage both credit card and digital check giving online.  We need your help! We need you to transition your monthly giving from Global Outreach to Reaching & Teaching immediately. 

 

To make this change in your monthly electronic gift (credit card or electronic fund transfer from a checking or savings account) please go to www.reachingandteaching.org/support.html and click on the Donate Now button to establish your recurring or one-time donation. Make sure you scroll to our name to designate who the gift is for.  A donation from your checking or savings account is better as it eliminates the  3% fee charged by the issuer on every credit card donation. 

 

Afterwards, if applicable, please cancel your monthly electronic giving contribution to Global Outreach by contacting Marla Nunlee atmnunnelee@globaloutreach.org and simply notifying her that you wish to cancel your monthly giving.   Or, if you’d like, you could let us know you’ve made the change and we can pass the word on to Marla. This needs to be done immediately, but no later than January 31st.  After the 31st, your donations will be refused by Global Outreach and sent back to you.  This will hurt us greatly as we depend on your monthly giving in order to live and minister here in Nicaragua.

 

For mailed donations, please send to the home office of Reaching & Teaching, including a note indicating that it is for Cody and Maria Whittaker. The address is:

Reaching & Teaching International Ministries  P.O. Box 122 Wheaton, IL 60187

 

Thank you so much for your continued faithfulness and support towards our mission work here in Nicaragua.  May the Lord be pleased in all of our labors to make His name known.

 

Sincerely,

 

Cody and Maria Whittaker 

 

P.S. If you would like to learn more about the ministry of Reaching & Teaching, visit www.reachingandteaching.org  

 
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Videos of me teaching Guillermo…

Hey all,

I have posted some videos of me teaching Guillermo as I am currently training him up to be the pastor of the church that we are planting (more on that later). Anyway, this is what the majority of my time is spent on these days. I meet with Guillermo 2 times per week for 2 hours each time. Then our families also meet together on Sunday morning for a time of study in God’s Word, prayer, and fellowship. Then we also meet together on Tuesday afternoon to lead the Bible Study for the kids and youth in the neighborhood.   And now I also have also begun to start training one of these youth in the Scriptures. He is 13 years old. His name is Josue. When he learned about all the training that I am bringing Guillermo, he told us that he too wants to learn the Word of God better and asked me to teach him. So, now I meet with him once every Wednesday to take him through Scripture. So, as you can see, God has me doing a lot of teaching and training these days. I absolutely love it. I love communicating the rich truth of God’s Word and seeing other people receive the blessing when God opens their eyes to such truth.  It is hard work…especially doing this all in a language that is not my native tongue. But thanks be to God for the grace that He gives me to proclaim His truth.

Anyway, I wanted to post a couple of these videos for a couple of reasons. First, I would like to say a very important thing to anybody who feels called to serve on the foreign mission field…learn the language!  This is crucial.  Ok, I know to you spanish speaking people watching, that you are going to hear a lot of mistakes. I know. I watched the videos afterwards and I was cringing at various points when I saw errors. But…the truth is that even though I still commit errors and forget words or am still developing my vocabulary bank, by means of taking a year to study in Costa Rica before coming here, I can now sit down with a hungry soul and spend hours upon hours expounding on the truth of God’s Word. And this is what being a missionary is all about…the proclamation of the Gospel!  We cannot effectively proclaim and teach the Word of God when we don’t know the language.  As missionaries sent out by the local church for the sake of making disciples of all nations we need to be able to say a lot more than just “Jesus loves you”. We need to be able to teach and explain God’s Word. We need to be able to use the Word of God to correct faulted doctrine. We need to teach the Word of God to make disciples. And we can’t do this if we don’t know how to speak their language.  So, to anybody that is thinking about full-time foreign missions…please please please devote yourself first to learning the language.  Many people ask me if spending a year in Costa Rica at language school was really worth it.  I suppose showing these videos will answer that question.

So, the other reason for showing the videos is just so that you as our supporters can see what your support is enabling us to do. God’s Word is being taught. Hearts are being changed for the glory of God. God is raising up people who are hungry to know Him. And we have the awesome and humbling privilege to play a part in His great plan for the nations.

The last reason why I wanted to take the videos (not necessarily post them) was simply to monitor my progress in the language. As any other missionary who is learning the language will tell you…sometimes you have good days and sometimes you have bad days with regards to the language and the ability to communicate effectively. So, sometimes I really don’t know how I am doing. I’m often hard on myself and always seeing how short I fall in knowing this language. So, in recording this session of our training, I was able to see fairly accurately where I’m at. In many ways, I realize I still have a long ways to go. And I know that it is simply the grace of God that is working in me that enables me to do what He has called me to do.  So, as I watch the videos, I cringe and I see so many mistakes.  But on the other hand, as I watch the videos I truly realize one thing that I don’t often truly realize…I’m speaking spanish!  Seriously, this may sound silly, but because I’m always learning and often struggling through different conversations, its hard to look at myself as one who speaks spanish. But after looking at these videos, though there are several mistakes and some misuses of words, the reality hits me…I really speak spanish!

So…for those of you who are native spanish speakers…go easy on me as you watch the videos. And for the rest of you who don’t speak spanish…well…though it will sound like a bunch of babble…I really am speaking spanish.  May God be glorified as we continue to make His name known among the people of Nicaragua. Que la paz de Dios sea contigo. Cuídate mi amigo.


This is just us opening up in prayer. Also, keep in mind that I edited these videos just to show some moments when I was speaking. All of our sessions include back and forth dialogue, but these videos are just clips of me speaking.

 


This is just me introducing what we will be doing in our upcoming training module.


Talking about the need to be more bold in our proclamation of the Gospel and the dangers of what is commonly known as “Friendship Evangelism” which stresses the idea that you really need to makes friends with a person first before you can be effective in sharing the message of the Gospel.


Talking about the importance of weighing everything up according to God’s Word instead of falling into pragmatism, which is the idea of determining something as valuable only as long as you can see ahead of time that it will produce good results.

 

 

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Oct 30, 2013 - missionary    1 Comment

Some videos of our ministry

Hey all,

Just wanted to share some videos of our ministry here in Nicaragua with regards to the children and youth whom we are reaching out to with the truth of the Gospel and the love of Christ.  The Lord continues to use this ministry to reach many kids and youth in Guillermo’s neighborhood.  The truth is that it is sometimes very difficult trying to reach these kids. So many of them are just very broken and come from broken homes where neither love nor discipline is modeled to them. So, often times many of these kids bring a lot of distractions and interruptions while we are trying to share precious truths of God’s Word with them.  Thank God that Guillermo has way more patience than I do and therefore we are able to balance each other out.  But my desire is that these kids get it…that they really understand the Gospel…that they are able to comprehend the truth of the glory of God and His amazing love. But I must remember that not only are they kids who are easily distracted by a mere butterfly that passes by, but also that many of them are kids who are growing up on the street without having a parental figure who is really invested in them, showing them both healthy love and discipline.  These kids are broken and they require a lot of patience, love, compassion, and understanding.

For this reason, Guillermo and I have been talking more and more about the need to invest more in these kids lives beyond a once a week Bible Study. We really need to show them our love and compassion on a more frequent and intimate basis. So, we have started to try and meet with them on Saturday mornings just to play soccer or other games with them and continue to build relationships with them.  Maria has also invited one of the girls (Johanna) to come to our house once in a while so that they can hang out and bake cookies or sew. This girl is very sweet, but seems to be starving for real love.  She is being raised by her Grandmother even though her mother is alive and well.  Every time Maria mentions God’s love while she is teaching the girls, she tells me that Johanna just seems to check out and stare outside as if she is totally disconnected from the concept that God loves her.  So, I think it is awesome that we can have this girl come to our house and just model to her what the love of Christ really looks like.  It is awesome also that she can have this modeled to her whenever she comes to Guillermo and Hacknier’s house. Our prayer is that the Lord will smother her with His love and that she will come to know His amazing love and salvation.

So, Guillermo and I invited the kids on Saturday to play a game of soccer in his neighborhood.  We all had a good time. We bought them snacks and drinks and then afterwards we all piled in my pickup truck and headed back to Guillermo’s house where I brought our flat screen TV so that we could all watch the soccer game between Barcelona and Real Madrid.  The kids were going crazy since Barcelona won the game and most of us here are Barcelona fans.  It was a blessing. There were about 14 kids that came. We had a great time.

We had our Tuesday night Bible Study with the kids yesterday.  Since it was the last Tuesday of the month, we took them all to a very nice park where they had never been. They had a blast. It was a great time to get to spend with them and get to know some of them better. There have been some new kids that have recently started coming.  But before we went to the park, we had a time of worship and a time of Bible Study.  For the next several weeks we are going to be sharing the specifics of the Gospel with them, so Guillermo took the first session last night and gave them an introduction to what the Gospel is using Romans 1:16 as a reference. He did a great job.  It was a blessing seeing him teach since these are things that I have been training him in for the past several months.  So, its awesome to see how God is giving him great understanding and that he is able to clearly articulate these truths.

Precious cargo...the main reason why we bought a pickup truck.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I finished taking Guillermo through our first leg of training where we studied intensely the doctrines of grace for several months. Now, we are moving on to other issues of theology. Tomorrow I will start teaching him about the different covenants that God has instituted throughout the Scriptures and how those covenants pertain to us today. The formal name is Covenant Theology.  It is so great teaching these precious truths because it also ministers tremendously to my own heart as I both spend hours pouring over the Scriptures in preparation as well as when I teach it. It is such a blessing.  There is an older youth in the program who feels called to the ministry and has asked that I begin training him as well. So, I’m sure that my schedule is going to be getting much more busy in the coming months. Guillermo and I have also been invited by one of his friends who is a pastor to come to his church and preach on a Sunday morning pertaining to the doctrine that we have been studying. So, praise God that His truth is going forward and that even other pastors are interested in hearing what it is that we are studying.

We are excited about the plans that God is leading us towards and will be sharing these things with you in the near future. We also will be sharing in the next post our plans of how we want to bless these kids for Christmas and how you can play a special part in doing this.  Que Dios sea glorificado en todo lo que hacemos!

 

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Oct 29, 2013 - missionary    No Comments

Sticks and mud…

We moved into this new development in Leon, the only place we could find a suitable home. The house is smaller than any home we had in Nicaragua (or any other place we’ve lived) and it’s located in a quiet new neighborhood where only the hammers and tools and trucks of construction workers can be heard. The neighbors are nice and the kids can roam around the street freely because the neighborhood has 24 hour security and patrolling. The houses are close together. So we get to meet everyone around us. Every morning, I watch the construction workers work so hard to mix cement and rock and sand to build the new home across the street. As I watch them put the new roof up and use pieces of wood to give form to the concrete, I can’t help but think about those who live outside this neighborhood in smaller homes and unsafe communities. Then a thought came to me yesterday morning when I was spending time with the Lord…Does God look down and see some homes better than others? Is one home better than the other for Him? To Him? I supposed that if this broken world is as a bad as He sees it and the riches of heaven are far beyond anything beautiful down here in this corrupted place, then to Him we are all living in houses of stick and mud. Some more nicely decorated than others. Some with more security than others (although who would truly trust an unregenerate strange sinner to watch over their kids?). So I concluded that it doesn’t matter what value and worth you place in your nicely decorated box, to Him it is only made with a slab of mud or broken sticks. The greater home, and much better one, is the one that awaits for us in Heaven, where gold is used for pavement and gigantic pearls give entrance to the foyer. Sticks and mud…is all we have now down here on earth…And if we see it this way, it should cause us to see those living in different houses as equal and not as higher nor lower than us. How prideful of us to think that our mud or wood is better or worse than someone else’s mud or wood! Let’s give thanks to the sovereign Lord for allowing us to have a roof that covers us from the rain. Or a drippy place to gather and be a family, whether it is made of wood or stone. After all, a fancy and well decorated house is not the greatest treasure a man possesses, but Christ. He is the greatest treasure of all. In Him alone all riches can be found. He or she who has Him possesses all. Regardless of where he or she lives… -Maria

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Oct 23, 2013 - missionary    No Comments

A new house…

Just wanted to let you all know (if you haven’t already heard) that we moved into another house.  The situation with the other house with the bats and the leaks just got progressively worse…even unsanitary.  The house was leaking all throughout, so it just became too much to maintain every time it rained.  So, by God’s grace, we were able to get our deposit back and break the contract and find another house.

So, we found a nice little house and we are already moved in and settled. It is a great house. It is brand new in a brand new residential community.  Isabela loves it because she already has a new friend who lives right next door. We all love it because it really feels like home for us.  It is safe. It does not leak. The rent is cheaper than any other house we had.  It is a blessing. And we thank God for His provision.

Nuestra casita nueva...ay que linda

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Home sweet home...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Oct 9, 2013 - missionary, Nicaragua    No Comments

Murcielagos!

There are many great ways of learning new words in spanish, but one of the ways that one does not like to learn new words is when one finds out that his new house is infested with morcielagos…bats. Yes, as I heard many different noises coming from above the ceiling tiles…and as I would wake up each morning to see a pile of dirt and poop pellets in the corner of several different rooms of the house, I was forced to ask the owner, “What is this?” And it was in his reply that I learned a new word in spanish…”Murcielagos”…bats…we’ve got them…lots of them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, this is a bummer…not that it freaks me out to have bats living inside my roof, or that one occasionally flies into the house and back out as what just happened the other night, but it is the fact that they poop and pee and it leaks down from the ceiling tiles onto the floor.  Now, that might be enough to make some of you squeemish, but it gets worse. You see, our roof has several leaks in it that the workers on the house have still not been able to fully repair…and right now we are in the rainy season…so…it rains…a lot.  And what happens is that the rain water falls into the ceiling and mixes with the bat poop and pee and then delightfully flows down onto the floor right next to our dining room table, right next to our bed, right next to our shower.  Yeah, its pretty gross.

Last night we had another storm. And even though the workers have been here two times to fix the leaks…still the water and poop and pee flows from the ceiling tiles and onto the floor.  Truthfully, I hit my breaking point last night. I was so fed up.  We just moved into this place and it seems that there have been issues since day 1.  So, when the waters were flowing across the floor last night after coming home from our Tuesday youth and kids Bible Study, just like the water that was leaking onto the floor, so was my grace leaking onto the floor…and I snapped.  I hit my breaking point and was just so frustrated that I wanted to call the owner right then and there and tell him what he can do with his house…ahem…yeah, I’m sure you get the point.

But, as God often does, He showed me a better reaction that I needed to take. And He showed me this through the wonderful voice of my beloved wife.  I so wanted her to scream and curse the house with me, but she wouldn’t. And she simply reminded me…”This is what we signed up for when we said yes to the Lord to take His Gospel message to the world. We didn’t sign up for pleasure and comfort. We didn’t sign up for perfect houses. We didn’t sign up for an animal and insect free environment.”  And even though she was absolutely right, I still wanted her to curse the house with me because my top was blown. But she didn’t. And so that made me slow down and really listen to her. And the Lord used it to bring me to repent. And He used it to remind me that the call to serve the Lord is a call to die to self…a call to say yes to the Lord no matter what comes our way…whether it be bat poop and pee dripping through the holes in your roof, or whether it be suffering sickness and disease, or whether it be living in conditions that bring about danger and uncertainty, or whether it be death.  The call to serve the Lord is a call to die to my way, my wants, my dreams, my comforts, and a call to embrace all that He has called me to…no matter what.

So, that is not to say that we sit back and let our house fill with bat poop and pee every night, but rather it has to do with my attitude towards that. Am I going to curse the house and blow my top because of how uncomfortable it makes me? Or am I going to rejoice in God and consider it a joy and a privilege that He loved me and saved me and commissioned me to go to the world and share the message of salvation with the lost?  Am I going to allow my discomfort to determine the direction of my heart? Or am I going to allow His truth, love, and glory to outshine any of my dark moments?

So, like I said, its not that I become more holy by choosing to live with holes in the roof that drip bat poop and pee on our floors. No, that would be absurd. That’s like the monks of old that used to purposely put themselves in painful situations so that they could learn to deny the flesh. I don’t think that there is anything holy about that. But it all has to do with my attitude. And my desire is to honor and glorify God no matter what situation I find myself in. Like Paul…that I would learn to be content in all situations.

But, I do have a plan. I am going to work as hard as I can in trying to resolve the leaks and the bat issues.  If I have to climb on the roof myself or climb into the ceiling to remove or shoo away every single bat that calls my house home, then I will do it.  And I pray that I find success. But I will not do it with an attitude of anger or lack of thankfulness. No, I will go in the strength of the Lord and I will do it with a heart that is set on worshiping Him.

So, God often uses Maria as an instrument of sanctification in my life. I’m thankful for that.  God often uses the strangest things and circumstances for my sanctification…but this sanctifying tool is one that is new…the poop of the murcielago. This was not the way that I wanted to increase my spanish vocabulary…nor was it the way that I would want God to sanctify me.  But His ways are certainly higher than mine.  And so may He use whatever He so chooses to fashion me more into the image of Christ for His glory.

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a new moto…a growing ministry…and a great heartache

Well, I am just overjoyed at times when I see how God uses the body of Christ to work together to accomplish together what one could never accomplish alone.  The need was to get a moto for Guillermo so that he could be able to transport his family as well as so that he could be more efficient as the ministry grows and we reach out to more and more people.  The need was too great for Guillermo and his family, but they made sacrifices and did what they could do.  We then made our own sacrifices and did whatever we could do to try and add money to be able to afford a moto for him.  But the need was still too great, and so I asked of you all, the body of Christ, to pray and cheerfully give if God was putting it upon your heart.  We were short about $300 and I was praying that the Lord would provide it through your giving.

Well, to my amazement, but certainly not to God’s surprise, within about a week, we had more than $1,700 donated towards the purchase of the moto!  How amazing when the body of Christ works together for the ultimate purpose of glorifying the head of the body, Christ Jesus.  So, with the money that came in, along with the money that both Guillermo and we contributed, we were able to buy a great quality moto that will serve the family and God’s Kingdom well for years!  In addition, through the permission of some of you who stated that we could use the money elsewhere if the cost of the moto was already covered, we were able to buy a projector, speaker, and screen so that we can begin doing outreaches in the various neighborhoods where we hope one day to plant a church.  We plan to show the “Jesus” movie as well as other movies or teachings that will bring glory and honor to God alone.  We will also use it once we begin to develop a course for training pastors and leaders.  So, God is certainly going to use what you all gave for His glory.  Thank you so much for giving in the Spirit of Christ…with such generosity and love.

Guillermo with his new Suzuki 125. Yes, a family of 4 will be riding on it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, we also continue to develop our ministry in Adiac, where Guillermo and his family live.  Our Tuesday Bible Study for youth and kids is growing.  Now that Maria and Hacknier (Guillermo’s wife) have started working with the girls, many more are coming and hearing about the love and truth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  We have split the group of guys so that we can teach them at the most age appropriate level.  Being the fact that I have zero patience for teaching little kids (unless they are my own), Guillermo is teaching the kids ages 11 and under (he certainly has much more patience than me), and I am teaching the youth from 12 and up.  My group is only about three right now, but that is great because it affords me the opportunity to really begin to speak into their lives with the Word of God.  All of us are using the same curriculum.  It is called the “Gospel Project” from Gospel Coalition.  Every lesson directly points the listener to the Gospel.  Since it is not in spanish, Maria first reads all the material and then writes up about a 2 page teaching outline in spanish, including the verses that the lesson contains, then we pass that on to Guillermo and Hacknier so that they have time to prepare their lesson from this outline.  Maria likes to prepare directly from the material that is provided.  Me, on the other hand, I like to use the material as a guide, but often times I write up my own teaching that still conveys the main idea of what the lesson is about.  That’s just the way I am.  I like preparing my own material.

Maria and Hacknier with the growing group of girls

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guillermo and I with the growing group of chavalos (boys)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maria and Hacknier decided that once a month they will do a special fun project with the girls such as cooking or sewing or arts and crafts.  So, Guillermo and I also decided to do the same and have a fun night once a month with the boys.  So, tonight, they will all pile into the back of my pickup truck and we will go to a nice park where they can run around and play.  This will just be another opportunity to live and play along side of them as we continue to hold out to them the Word of Truth.  We are also planning a trip to the beach with them sometime in the next few weeks.  That should be really fun.

A time of worship and prayer before getting into the Word.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

O that God would adopt all of these young ones to become daughters of the King!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The training that I am doing with Guillermo continues to go great!  He is learning so much truth from God’s Word and I can already see how it is impacting his life, his teaching, his prayers, and everything.  Right now, we are going through material about God’s unconditional election of His people.  How amazing is God!  Maria recently started meeting with Hacknier to take her through the same book that I am working through with Guillermo called “Si, Jesus”.  It is a book that scripturally defines the doctrines of grace, otherwise know as Reformed Theology (although this theology is not really “reformed” being the fact that it was what the church believed without question from the early church all the way to the 4th century,and then again from the 4th century all the way to the 16th century until Jacob Arminus wrote his 5 points against it which were later completely rejected not only by John Calvin, but by the church council as a whole.  Okay, I digress.)   Its a great book…its like John Piper in spanish!  Anyway, the Lord is simply using the teaching and preaching of His Word to transform hearts and make disciples.  Why do we see the need to complicate it so much by adding so many other “newer”  or “post modern” or “cutting edge” or “innovative” ideas?  God has said it so clearly in Scripture that faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.  Its that simple.  Why change it?

Also, since we are currently without a church home, Guillermo’s family and ours have been meeting each Sunday morning at our house for a time of worship, fellowship, and study of God’s Word.  We are currently going through a video series on the Gospel that we heard at a reformed Baptist church that we were part of in Costa Rica.  It is an incredible series that explains thoroughly what the true Gospel of God is.  It has been enriching for all of us.  These are the messages that are so desperately needed here in Nicaragua where we are surrounded by all the counterfeit gospels such as the works based religions of the catholics, or the legalistic extremists, or those that are pumping the health, wealth, and prosperity doctrine to all the poor, giving them a false hope that wealth will fill them and satisfy them because that is what God’s greatest desire is for His people…to be happy and satisfied by everything upon this earth.

But the saddest thing, my friends, and this is a great heartache, is that this nonsense that is so-called gospel, is being brought here to Nicaragua by people from America!  How sad that the people of Niacragua are being led astray from big name “preachers” like Joel Osteen, Creflo Dollar, and all the other “cash” hungry people who have deduced the true Gospel to nothing more than a pyramid scheme, a way to make money.  O I fear the judgment that these men will suffer if they do not repent of such wickedness.  I was saddened just yesterday when Guillermo told me that a short-term missionary who was working nearby gave him and his wife a copy of a book called “Yo declaro” (I declare) by Joel Osteen.  He asked me if this Joel Osteen guy is good because he heard that he has such a huge church in Texas.  So, I proceeded to tell him that Joel Osteen is nothing but a false prophet who makes millions upon millions of dollars by propagating nonsense and calling it Gospel.  But I told Guillermo to go ahead and read some of the book so that he himself could see just how different of a message is there compared to what we have been studying together in the Scriptures.  So, I hope that God uses this book to show Guillermo and so many others that the Word of God is real when it says that “satan comes as an angel of light”.

It is sad that there are handfuls of missionaries here in Nicaragua that are promoting such godless filth.  Something that completely makes a mockery of the cross of Christ…speaking as if the greatest gain of the cross is that now we can be able to get good things and make a lot of money and have our dream house and declare whatever it is that our heart desires!  Just about completely ignoring the issue of sin and how it made us absolutely dead before a holy God and deserving of His eternal wrath if it wasn’t for the Son of God who became flesh and bore our sin and wickedness so that we could be brought near to God forever through faith and repentance.  Christ rescued us from hell and eternal separation from God when He hung on that cross.  He paid the debt that we could never pay.  He died so that we could live in His presence, giving honor and glory and fame to His Name.  Our lives should be all about living to make the glory of God known, not living to build our own kingdom of satisfying all our pleasures and dreams as those say that write such books called “I declare” or “Your Best Life Now”.  Well, as I have said before, so shall I say again, “I declare that your best life is now if you live your life according to these lies because you will end up in hell having never come to repentance and faith by hearing the true Word of God preached.  So, I agree with Joel Osteen…he is living his best life now…because unless he repents, his eternity ain’t gonna be no fun at all!  If I offend you at all by what I write, please let me know and I would be most happy to take time and take you through the scriptures that completely refute everything that these false teachers are teaching.

Nicaragua needs to hear the truth of the Gospel so that the name of Jesus Christ is exalted above all other names.  May He use us as imperfect and frail as we are to simply point people to Him through the glorious truth of His Word.  Christ is worthy of glory, not because of what I can get out of Him by using His name as a genie in a bottle, but because He is God. He is powerful. He is loving. He is merciful. He is sovereign over all. He is just.  And He is eternal.  This is why we should be living for Him.  Even if we suffer here and may seem to have to go without for a time…our best life is still yet to come.

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