Wednesday, November 26, 2014

11th Hour Generation

Back to Jesus’ story in Matt 20: 1-16   11/26/2014

S. Matt 20:6-7  At five o'clock that evening he was in town again and saw some more people standing around. He asked them, 'Why haven't you been working today?'  "They replied, 'Because no one hired us.' NLT

O.  Jesus can pack a lot of punch into a story of a few words.  So here is this farmer guy going into town at daybreak to get his workers started.  Their pay is agreed upon and they go at it.  Then again at 9 AM, 12 PM and 3 PM. 3 PM is preposterous enough, but what is this 11th hour trip to the marketplace about?  The sun is setting in the western sky.  5 PM is no time to hire daytime workers.  Let’s pretend we are reporters and ask Him what He is up to.

A.  Excuse us Mr. Farmer, we’re from the Daily Farmer Scoop!  Did we understand you are hiring workers in the 11th hour?  Yeah, we know they were just standing around, but hiring at 5 PM?  Harvest?  You want to get in the harvest before it is too late?  What are a few grapes left on the vine to rot?  No big deal!  It IS?  It IS a big deal for YOU?  Not willing that ANY should perish?  They’re not?  What do You mean they are not just grapes?  They all look the same to me.  Different?  Every ONE is different?  Cultivated with great care?  Special value for You… hmmm.  

Did I hear you say something special about 11th hour workers?  You are calling 11th hour workers to give them a chance at it?  Sure, I guess there IS a whole new, very-bored generation standing around punching messages into their cell phones at 5 PM… or getting high on “smack” or whatever they call it.  So you are planning to keep calling them until sundown?  That’s cool!  

Hey, I’ve been just standing around looking for a scoop and nothing has happened in town all day.  Do you think?  Could you consider?  Might there still be… room in Your field for ME?  You have?  You’ve been calling me all day and I don’t answer my phone?  I’m on my way.  Count me in!

P.  Master of the harvest, please give me another hour to reap in Your vineyard.  Send me into that section over there where nobody has reached yet.  They may be just about to drop from the vine with their own weight.  Just let me go after them with Your holy passion and divine love.  Amen.

It's Award Day in Heaven

Tuesday 11-25-2014  (City of Roldan, Santa Fe)     Matt 20-22
S.  Matt 20:13-15 "He answered one of them, 'Friend, I haven't been unfair! Didn't you agree to work all day for the usual wage?  Take it and go. I wanted to pay this last worker the same as you.  Is it against the law for me to do what I want with my money? Should you be angry because I am kind?'  NLT

O.  Hey, that’s unfair!  I started at 7 AM and worked hard all day and this guy barely got his hands dirty.  No fair!

A.  Heaven is going to be very entertaining.  The moment has come for the awards to be announced.  This will make the Emmys, Grammys, Music, Arts, People’s Choice and Nobel Peace awards all look like peanut shells.  

It is the big moment in heaven.  A bunch of us Assemblies of God missionaries are all sitting together up front feeling very important… almost cocky.  At least we are pretty sure to be on the list of nominees.  Up here the awards are not going to be judged by some biased Hollywood voters.  God’s judgment is perfect.  He’s going to be “fair.”  You can be sure He is going to call up the nobodies first and end up with us.  You know how it works… the best in every contest is announced last as everybody holds their breath.

Sure enough, we had never heard of Sister Schneiderschnitzel. We are amazed at the big deal Jesus makes of this widow lady that never went nowhere and never did nothin’… well, nothin’ but pray for the missionaries.  Hey, did you see that diamond studded crown she got?!  Boy, if He starts out like this what will our crowns look like?  They will have shiny, blazing fan-dangles hanging all around ‘em.  I can hardly wait.  But I have to wait, because Jesus is not in a hurry and there are millions of us nominees.

Look at that, He just called up that former gangster who was just converted last week. We all applaud as he is handed a jeweled crown of pure gold.

And now he calls up a little old lady that only won a single little boy to the Lord.  What was the kid’s name?  Who cares?  Billy somebody… son of a farmer named Graham.  Did you see what she got?!  She’ll light up all of heaven with that thing!

Now we pick up the scene 10,495 earth-years later (of course there is no such thing as time in heaven).  Jesus calls all of us "front-row-AG- missionaries" up as a group.  Wow!  Finally this is going to be our moment!  I have my magnifying glass in my pocket ready to examine my multifaceted diamonds. One of my buddies brought a perfectly accurate scales to weigh the pure gold in his crown.  

Jesus is making the announcement now, Ralph Wesley Hiatt, who preached 167 times in Argentina in one year after passing his 82nd birthday!  I wave to the multitude as the rest of the AG missionaries applaud and angels yawn.  And finally Jesus comes to the climactic moment… “So now for each of these fine, well trained, expert, dedicated missionaries I give this nice certificate:
Living sacrificewhich, of course, was just your reasonable service.  Romans 12:1   (You can be sure they’re going to use the King James Version in heaven.)

Jesus continues, “Sorry, fellas, you’ll have to buy your own frames so that you can put it on your office wall, just above your beloved computer.  And now let’s move on to the soul-winning butcher on Hamilton Street in Picnicville, Arizona.”
I’m thinking (but wouldn’t dare admit it) “Hey, that’s unfair!  You hand me a “You did okay certificate” and I drove all over Argentina and preached almost every day!  I took advantage of every school that would invite me to share Your message!  I’ve been preaching the best I could for 60 years!  And that guy that Your awarded with a shining starry crown was only converted from a life of crime last week!”
Oh yes!  God is going to have a lot of fun with us over on the other side. J

P.  Lord, please get me ready for your delightful “surprises” when I discover that “the last shall be first and the first last” in Your wonderful, heavenly kingdom.  Maybe I’ll put that certificate in a gold frame and hang it right over my front door for Saint Peter to see when he walks by… or maybe I’ll just put in a big trunk in the attic. 

Truth is, Lord Jesus, I need no rewards.  You could set me ablaze with joy with only Your smile!  Amen.


Who Does This Vagrant Think He is?!

Saturday 11-22-2014  (Santiago del Estero)     Matt 11-13  

S.  Matt 11:27  "My Father has given me authority over everything. No one really knows the Son except the Father, and no one really knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him."  NLT

O.  Jesus says stuff that no other would dare to say.  He is always coming up with one of these outrageous claims.  In the ears of the Jewish leaders they spelled blasphemy.

“Who does this vagrant peasant think He is anyway?  He’s pretending to be God, Himself!  Were you there the other day when He told a sick man, ‘Your sins are forgiven!?’  I heard Him with my own ears.  Just like that, wham! and a rotten sinner is off the hook!  Hey, even Jehovah God can’t do that!  Preposterous!  You’ve got to slay a lamb to get forgiveness of sins.  Everybody knows that. 

“Now listen to this: He calls our wonderful Jehovah God His ‘Father’ and refers to Himself as ‘the Son’.  Did you get that?  Not ‘a son,’ but ‘the Son!’ And poor, innocent people swarm to Him like flies on a carcass!  We’re going to have to put a stop to this!  I just wish He would quit doing all those miracles.  Simple, uneducated people are so gullible. They witness a few blind men now running around screaming, ‘I can see! I can see!’ and a few paralytics dancing around carrying their cots on their shoulders and ‘wham!’ just like that they shout ‘Hosanna! Hosanna! Make room!  Our Messiah King is coming down the road!’

But we, who are better informed, know better.  Why, it took me years to get this doctorate in Jewish theology. We have studied the law and the prophets and hundreds of additional traditions. We know stuff!  Just ask us.  We’ll tell you.  Want to hear a real exquisite prayer?  I can produce one that’ll make your ears tingle… by memory.  

A lot of those people following that Jesus guy aren’t even religious.  He attracts the worst elements of society.  He befriends the nastiest kinds of sinners.  You can tell a man by taking a good look at his friends.”

Stop!  Please stop the tape!  I’ve heard enough from this Doctor Whoever.  Reel back to those words of Jesus.  He is telling us that He can choose to unveil His Heavenly Father for us.  Does this mean that He can show us God the Father?!... the Creator of the galaxies of the heavens?  That’s deep!  That’s almost scary!  Jesus talks about His Father as though He is right there… not far away in the distant sky.

“Hey, Jesus, over here in the corner.  I’m Phil.  I don’t bug you much, but You talk a lot about Your Father… Just show us the Father and we will be satisfied.”  John 14:8  Then it falls like a bomb from the sky, "Philip, don't you even yet know who I am, even after all the time I have been with you? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father!”  John 14:9 NLT  

That statement would make any unbelieving Jewish high priest tear his robes and scream, “Heresy!” 

 A. Got any ideas why they killed Jesus?  It was obviously because of Who He claimed to be.  Some people say He was a great teacher on the level with Buddha and other religious leaders. The Jehovah Witnesses claim He was a created angel. The Mormons claim He was a god.  But He claimed to be the One and only Son of the Living God!  That claim drove the nails into his hands and feet. 

There was just one little detail that the Jewish leaders overlooked.  He really was all that He claimed to be!  

P.  Oh Jesus, Son of the living God, show me the Father, too.  Open my blind eyes to see the Father in You. You are His personal Revelation.  When I look at Your face, I see the Father.  When I see you caressing the hair of a little child I see the Father.  When I see you stooping to dirty the finger of God writing in the sand to set free an adulteress, I can see the Father.  When You pour out Your treasures to a lady named Mary who sat at Your feet, I see the Father.  When You stand there speechless before a Roman governor with a royal robe cast scatty-wampus over Your shoulders, hands tied behind Your back and a crown of thorns on Your head… I see the Father.  And His amazing beauty leaves me speechless.  Amen.

And Jesus said, "I choose you, Judas."

Friday 11-21-2014  (City of Santiago del Estero)     Matt 8-10

S.  Matt 10:1-10 Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to cast out evil spirits and to heal every kind of disease and illness. Here are the names of the twelve apostles: first Simon (also called Peter), then Andrew (Peter's brother), James (son of Zebedee), John (James's brother), Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew (the tax collector), James (son of Alphaeus), Thaddaeus, 4 Simon (the Zealot), Judas Iscariot (who later betrayed him).

O.  “And I choose you, Judas Iscariot.  You will be my treasurer,”  “Me?  Wow! Okay!”  Jesus chose his disciples with care and prayer.  (Luke 6:12-13 NLT “… soon afterward Jesus went to a mountain to pray, and he prayed to God all night.  At daybreak he called together all of his disciples and chose twelve of them to be apostles.”)  He made a prayerful choice of each one.

We have no reason to believe that Judas Iscariot did not go out to heal the sick and cast out demons along with the others.  How could he later be led astray?  Jesus, however, says (John 6:70-71…"I chose the twelve of you, but one is a devil."  He was speaking of Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, one of the Twelve, who would betray him. NLT)  It is interesting that Jesus knows full well the final fall of Judas, but even so He chooses him; treats him the same as the others; teaches him just as the others; sends him out to preach, heal the sick and cast out demons with the others; washes his feet along with the others and even hands him food at the last supper.  It is clear that Jesus gave equal chance to Judas as to the others. Jesus knew his evil heart, but he chose him, and put up with him for 3 years without complaint… and without firing him from his job as personal treasurer.

A.  Sometimes I wonder if there is not a potential Judas hidden in every group… someone that is capable of falling away and purposely striking out at his former master.  I think of that sacred, bewildering moment of the last supper when Jesus announces that one of them will betray Him.  They look at each other with suspicion.  “Who could do such a thing?  What does Jesus know that we do not know?”  “It’s not me, is it?” And John who is next to Jesus leans over and whispers, “Who is it, Lord?”  And Jesus responds, “I am going to dip the bread in the soup and hand it to him now.”  So now at least John and Peter know who it is.  Nobody takes any action, except Judas who immediately slips away.  John 13:30 “He then having received the sop went immediately out: and it was night.” KJV  

Yes, it was night… a very dark night indeed.  Jesus talked about that kind of darkness. (John 3:19 “…they loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil.”) Satan had entered into Judas and was controlling his steps.  In the dark of night he runs to the temple where the enemies of his Master are hiding out.  He is still panting as he enters their hiding place.  There they are surrounding a single lantern, dressed in religious robes, with gaudy head gear showing their ranks of authority as chief priests. 

Now all eyes are focused on a shadowy figure moving in a dark corner.  A pact is made.  A coffer is unlocked and opened.  No doubt this is money received as temple offerings by faithful religious Jews.  The widow’s useless copper pennies were not included in the payoff.  30 silver coins are counted out into trembling hands. 

Judas has to know that this is wrong.  He has surrendered to the enemy of his soul.  Now he is driven by unseen forces.  He trembles as he hides the pouch of money in his robe and slinks out of sight.  He is caught in a web.  He has received payment.  Now he has to go through with the plan. 

“Just follow me in the darkness.  Be sure you have armed men with you. I will lead you to Him.  I know Him well.  I will recognize His voice even in the dark.  He will be praying there in total darkness in the Garden of Gethsemane.  That’s what He does.  He prays at night.  I will run up and greet Him with a kiss.  That will be Him.  Grab Him, bind Him, drag Him away to your midnight court-room thing, try Him, accuse Him and condemn Him!  Whatever!  The 30 silver coins are mine… and He is yours!”

Is Judas listening and watching from the dark shadows as his Master, Jesus is condemned to die?  What is happening inside this troubled soul?  Remorse.  He hates himself.  The pouch of coins that he once coveted now loses its attraction.  It becomes a nasty, heavy burden tied to his waist-band. It is pulling him down… down! 

“I’ve got to get rid of this evil thing!”  Once again he runs to the temple, panting… some of the same religious hierarchy are still there.  “Here, take your money!  I have betrayed innocent blood!”  They look the other way… “Who cares!  That’s your problem, buddy!” He throws the open pouch at them.  It falls to the floor and silver coins roll and scatter.  He runs out again into the darkness. 

Oh, if He had only run to Jesus!  If only he had found his Master, crowned with thorns, bound and beaten and covered with blood and spittle.  If only he had fallen in repentance before Him.  Judas would have been forgiven!  But no!  Driven by the weight of his sin he seeks to escape in death and plunges his soul into eternal damnation.

He could have been there alongside of Simon Peter and the others at the resurrection meeting.  He could have been transformed into a great witness for Jesus.  We could have met Judas in heaven.
There is a repentance that saves the sinner and there is a remorse that damns the soul.  Oh, how different it might have been for Judas! 

P.  Lord Jesus, I cry out to you.  Oh, I want to repent for the lost sinners that still refuse to bow in humble repentance before You.  But I find that I cannot do what only they can do.  I cannot bend their wills to coerce them into saving belief and true repentance.  

Day before yesterday I looked out at this sea of public school kids that I was preaching to in a town called Nueva Francia in Santiago del Estero.  I wanted to pick each one up and set them on the Jesus road, but I could not.  

Like Judas and like me, they have to make a personal choice.  So, dear Lord, hear my cry and may Your Holy Spirit bring them conviction that results in repentance and saving faith!  Amen.


Today I Found a Treasure

This morning I was doing a “search” for something else in my computer and behold I found a hidden treasure!  For years I had searched many times over to see if I had a decent photo of my first car.  I had found only one photo and it was very poor.  But this morning this one accidentally popped up.  For years this picture has been hidden somewhere among thousands of files in my computer.  This was my Grandma Shanbeck’s car.  But she never drove it.  She told me that the first time she ever saw a car coming down the road, she was driving a buggy with her horse.  The horse panicked and took off across a field scaring her to death.  She said, “I hoped to never see one of those machines again!”  But in her later years she allowed her son, my Uncle Albert to purchase this one for her.  My Mom drove it everywhere for her… and us.

Here you see me at about 9 years old sitting on one of the two spare tires.  In those days you had to carry two spare tires since you experienced flats frequently.  My brother, Mel, 11 years older than I, is washing the windshield.  My sister, Carol, 9 years older than I, is perched on the left front fender.  Unfortunately my sisters, Joanne (2 years my superior) and Joyce (4 ½ years younger than I) are standing on the “running board” and are out of focus… but you get the idea.

Later when Grandma Shanbeck passed away, my mother inherited it.  We traveled many exciting miles in this wonderful car.  It took us to church for every service.  It knew the way by itself.  I remember Mom taking us somewhere downtown one day, when without thinking she turned on the street that took us to church.  “Mom, where are you going?”  “Oh my!” She exclaimed, “This car just automatically turns here to take us to church.”  And we all giggled.

Then there were the exciting rides with Mom and us three younger kids… an “all day trip” to Oceanside beach for vacation.  We had our baggage and a large folding “room partition” tied on the outside.  The room partition was necessary since we rented a little one room cabin among “Kirk’s Cabins” and the partition provided the only privacy for dressing and using the “potty”.  The bathrooms were somewhere down the row of cabins.  So at night… if you had to go… you used the “potty” J.  Driving down the old winding mountain highway piled high with luggage to the beach… took forever.  Mom wasn’t known for high speeds.  I remember a huge logging truck getting stuck behind us on those curves for miles and miles.  My cute 15 year old sister, Joanne, wrote notes to the truck driver in huge letters on a cardboard and held them up in the rear window for him to read.  He loved it and was obviously roaring with laughter.

When I turned 17 years old I purchased this wonderful car from my mother for $100.  It became my symbol of freedom.  I took my buddy, Erwin Bush, for rides everywhere.  Once we went all the way to the beach on a winter day.  We were driving to Bay Ocean down the very narrow peninsula dividing the Ocean from the Tillamook Bay when we came to “Johnson’s Gap”.  I knew this area well, but did not know that the ocean could come rushing over the hill into the bay sometimes in the winter.  At the gap I had Erwin get out and clear the path before me, since there were large rocks and small logs everywhere on what was left of the road.  I was in low gear going slowly behind him as he worked.  There were two little kids playing on the bay beach just ahead of us.  Suddenly I heard the kids scream.  I looked at them and they were pointing toward the gap in the hill that separated us from the ocean.  I looked to my left and a four foot high ocean wave was coming roaring over that mountain right at me.  I floored the throttle and let out the clutch bouncing over all the obstacles ahead… and the wave that might have swept me along with the car into the bay passed by only barely touching the rear wheels.  

That road has long since been closed and Bay Ocean is only the memory of what once was a small high-end tourist town.  Mr. Mitchell who had spent his fortune developing the city lost everything.  His big natatorium and many beautiful houses went crashing into the ocean and cement roads were left jutting out into the air.  Everything was eventually lost and Bay Ocean became a ghost town.  Mr. Mitchell’s story is the sad history of a man that spent all his wealth building on sand.  Jesus foretold his story in Matthew 7:24-27 "All who listen to my instructions and follow them are wise, like a man who builds his house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents, and the floods rise and the storm winds beat against his house, it won't collapse, for it is built on rock.  But those who hear my instructions and ignore them are foolish, like a man who builds his house on sand.  For when the rains and floods come, and storm winds beat against his house, it will fall with a mighty crash.”  Mr. Mitchell seemed like a nice man to me.  But they say he finally was interned in a home for the mentally ill. 

I took my darling Frances on our first date in that wonderful car… and on many other dates later.  The front seat was not like modern cars with two separate bucket seats.  It was a single bench and ideal for allowing your girl to sit close and lay her head on your shoulder.  I remember late one night when Frances and I were cruising down a lonely country road.  I had one arm around her, holding her close and was driving with the other one.  Suddenly there was a red light behind us and I pulled over.  A police officer came over to shine his flashlight into my car.  He said we were swerving around on the road and said something about using both hands.  I was tempted to ask him, “Both hands?  How then could I steer the car?”  But I knew better than to smart-off at a cop J.    

Hey, take a good look at it.  That car has history!


PS. Oh my!  I totally forgot to mention that it was 1933 Oldsmobile with a powerful straight six engine and horribly unreliable cable brakes.  Hydraulic brakes hadn’t been invented yet… much less power assisted brakes and disc brakes.  Today you can stop on a dime.  Back in those days you had to think about stopping long before you got stopped J.

The drive chain was great except the engine was too powerful for the rear axles… at least for a 17 year old kid that wanted to drag-race at every signal light.  I think I broke at least three axles… and had to buy them used at wrecking yards… and they were really scarce.   There were not very many 1933 Oldsmobiles around in 1948-49.  

Holy Havoc

Saturday night… had a great service in a packed church… ended at 11:15 PM.  One teenage girl came for salvation plus 5 little boys from 6 to 11 years old.  Flat tire, (same one) no repair places open at midnight Saturday… had to put on the spare.  Got nice and dirty.  My off-white pants were more “off” than “white” when I got through J.  Made it to my next hotel in Metan City (1 1/4 hour trip) arrived at 2 AM.  I answered a few emails, and at exactly 3 AM slipped under the sheet and was out like a light in two seconds.   

Meagan, a dear friend… both a mom and a wife that loves her kids and her husband, wrote me to tell me to “quit answering their mail in the middle of the night and to get to bed earlier and get some sleep.”  Fear not, Meagan… I got a good four hours sleep from 3 AM till 7 AM and was at the church Sunday and ready to go at 9 AM.  (But I believe in the “sacred siesta” and took a 1 ½ hour nap Sunday afternoon before my Sunday night service.)  

This photo is Sunday AM.  It was a special kids’service in the city of Metán, Province of Salta. 

Five churches of four different denominations had brought their Sunday Schools together in one place.  It was holy havoc!  There were just enough little tots and misbehavers to distract everyone else’s attention.  They ran around, tripping over each other being chased by their “big brother or sister” who were maybe only two years older.  I am guessing that we had 200 kids or more, but it was impossible to count… and hard to keep their attention for much more than 10 seconds

They enjoyed Perfume.  She got petted gently, slapped in the face and her tail pulled.  They did pretty well listening to Felipe and then even did better singing “I have decided to follow Jesus”.  (Notice the kid lying on the floor at my feet J.)

And they did remarkably well memorizing the text John 8:12 while I had a line of adults holding cards with portions of that scripture… and then turning them over one by one while we all repeated the verse.  Several little kids came up and quoted it perfectly afterward.

So far so good.  But the minute I tried to talk to the group I lost them.  Probably 90% were trying to listen, but there were too many loud happy conversations and small fights going on to allow anyone to concentrate.  I was sweating like a turkey in the oven, not from heat, but from just plain hard work!  I did my best, but closed out with only a small portion of my message originally intended for them.  You know when you have been whipped!  We sang again and I prayed with them. 

Was anything accomplished worthy of mention?  I don’t know.  I believe some kids may still be able to quote John 8:12 for years to come.  John 8:12 tells us what happens if we follow Jesus.  Jesus lets us know that He is the Light of the World.  And if you follow Him you will not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.  “I have decided to follow Jesus the Light of the World” was my theme for the morning.

I have to believe that God is at work even in the middle of holy havoc.  Who knows?   In that moving sea of 200 or more kids maybe a few got the message.  I prayed that every one of them and their parents would follow Jesus.  Maybe the Lord will surprise me and sweep this holy havoc right into His glorious heaven.


The Night is Dark Out There

You would have loved to be with me tonight.  I was invited to minister in a little work about 30 miles from the big city of Salta.  Many Bolivians live here to work in the fields.  Pastor Herald Ovanda says that some of them have never had the opportunity to learn to read and write.  Pastor Herald is 7 years a widower.   He lives with his 22 year old son, Israel.   They have purchased two pieces of property to build a home and a church just outside this little town called Campo Quijano, an agricultural area.  He has the house up with a nice hall for church services, but no electricity yet.  He was able to connect to a neighbor’s electricity from across the street for tonight’s service.  They dug a little trench in the gravel road and buried the cable.  (Andes Foothills in background)  

We enjoyed a nice service outdoors.  Pastor tells me that a high percentage of these people there were “first timers”.  Pastor Herald held the suitcase while Felipe did his thing.

At the close of my brief message several parents of the children made their first steps toward following Jesus.  Then we prayed for the sick and needy.  The group was small, but full of needs.  One young mother came with a tiny nursing baby.  She said she has cancer in the stomach area.  I prayed for her, then she made an unexpected request.  “Please would you dedicate my baby?”  I wanted to give the task to the pastor, but he encouraged me to accept it since she especially wanted me, from the USA, to dedicate her beautiful little girl.  I did the dedication. 

And behold now another mother with a baby in her arms approached me... She wanted me to dedicate her baby boy, too.  The father, who looked like a teenage kid to me and grandmother came up to joined in the ceremony.

I barely finished that one when a mother who had a two year old boy to dedicate stepped in.  This little guy had the same grandmother as the previous one. 

Now another grandmother came to tell me that her daughter, the mother of this little girl, had died and she was raising her as her own daughter.  “Would I dedicate her, too?”  Why not!  I gave a little speech to each of the parents and grandparents about their responsibilities that come with this dedication.  And prayed a prayer of dedication.  Fortunately Pastor Herald will follow up on these families.

Then this darling little guy came up to me and held up both arms for me to pick him up.  I think he really wanted me to do the same thing for him that I had done for the others.  He probably could understand just enough to know that whatever was going on in my arms must be something good. 

So he got a unofficial dedication, too… with his sister hanging onto my pants.  I don’t even know for sure which one was their mother.

Check out these smiles!

This little guy whispered to me that he has diabetes and needed prayer.

He got a prayer of faith and a hug.  On the right a very sweet Christian worker, who comes faithfully by bus over 30 miles just to help, is seen encouraging the mother who said she had cancer.

After I thought I had prayed for almost everyone, these two children came with teary eyes to tell me that their mother was away in Buenos Aires (almost 1000 miles) and they wanted her to come home.  I don’t know what was behind all that, but someone told me that she went there for work.  I hope that was all… and that she returns soon… because these kids deeply need their mother.

The night is dark out there at the foot of the Andes Mountains… dark with ignorance, sadness, illness and fear.  Jesus, the “Light of the World” is piercing that darkness, bringing His love, hope and joy!


We'll Talk it Over in the Bye and Bye

Some of my best friends often tell me I will have a big reward in heaven.  However I think the “Jesus way of doing rewards” doesn’t have much to do with what a person thinks he or she has accomplished.  I write up lots of exciting things.  Other missionaries and ministers have labored much harder than I and in much more dangerous and difficult circumstances and lived these same kind of experiences dozens, even hundreds of times over and never shared it in print with anyone.  Over there “on the other side” the “first will be last and the last will be first.”  I feel that the Lord is allowing me to receive my reward down here… so there won’t even be a mention of these things in heaven… except maybe a whole lot of hugs… which will be reward enough for me.

I was trying to make my way out of the stadium after the final service of the Union of the Assemblies of God national General Council an hour or so ago… and a man wearing an usher’s vest grabbed me.  He told me that he remembered how I had preached in a tent here in Salta in 1972 and painted pictures every night.  He had been 9 years old!  Missionary Paul Brannan preached the first part of that crusade and I continued after him.  Our first AG church in this great city of Salta was born from that tent-meeting.  Joseph and Ellen Anonby, from Canada, were our church planting resident missionaries working here then.  I didn’t have Felipe or Perfume yet, but this brother remembered the Hawaiian Guitar.  That tent-meeting was his families’ introduction into the message of the Gospel of Jesus.  And now he is one of our ministers and together with his wife they are starting a new work in a little village about 20 miles out of town.  They hugged me to pieces.  I grabbed a passerby to take their picture.

I have been hugged and kissed on one or both cheeks by many people this week!  Some told me their story.  Others thought I should remember them.  Many of them I know by name, but many others… I haven’t got a clue. J

We’ll talk it over in the bye and bye!


Saturday, November 8, 2014

Slaves or Children of Our Master?

My today’s devotional for you if you wish to read it.  Don’t worry.  I don’t think I’ll be sending many of these. 


SOAP… S=Scripture, O=observation, A=Application, P=Prayer 

Thursday 11-6-2014  (San Salvador de Jujuy, Argentina) Job 30    Ps 120    Gal 3-4  

S.  Gal 4:3-7  We were slaves to the spiritual powers of this world. 4 But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. 5 God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children.   6 And because you Gentiles have become his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, and now you can call God your dear Father.   7 Now you are no longer a slave but God's own child. And since you are his child, everything he has belongs to you. NLT

O.  Brother Paul is trying to bring his converts back.  They have been polluted with a religion of legalism.  They have swallowed the bait, hook, line and sinker.  Those of them that were formerly Jews are back into the ceremonies, special days, and special foods.  They are back in bondage to their rituals.  The gentiles among them are being required to do the same.  

“Who do you think you are?” they are asked by visiting legalists.  “Are you better than us Jews who have been working for years to keep every minute sector of Moses’ laws?  You scum of the earth!  How do you think for a moment that God would have anything to do with you?  If you want to make heaven, start climbing the stairs of perfect conduct like we do.” 

It is a futile doctrine of works… the exact opposite of the gospel of the finished work of Christ Jesus. 

A.  Paul appeals to the “Then and now!”  We were… and now we are!  We were struggling slaves… but now we are sons of God!  We were bent low beneath the burden of a whole library full of laws… now we stand erect for the burden has rolled away.  We were climbing the difficult stairs trying to become more holy than those “other people.” Our stairs of legalism were steep.  We climbed up and up.  We labored.  We struggled. We fell back and crawled upward again.  But alas!  The legalism stairway is too short.  It stops far short of reaching God.  We cannot reach genuine holiness this way. 

That was then.  Now what has changed?  In due time God sent his Son, born of a woman.  

What is this?  Instead of us being required to climb a laborious stairway to God, now God Himself steps out of heaven and descends the stairs, bringing His love and grace down to us!  “God, the Father sends His Son to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children.” This is the gospel… the Good News of Jesus Christ! 

P.  Dear Lord, some of us were raised in an atmosphere of religious legalism.  We were held to a specific set of rules that governed the way the women dressed and wore their hair.  Most of the rules seemed to apply only to women and to young people that wanted to enjoy life.  And in my case most of the rules were made by a woman, “Mother Crawford”, as she was known, the founder of the Apostolic Faith of Portland, Oregon.  Even marriage was taboo since You, Jesus, were coming soon and my parents were taught that considering things like marriage was worldly. They had to sneak off and get married by a Methodist minister.  

I thank You, Lord, that my mother eventually saw through the hypocrisy of this religious system and escaped from its bondage, carrying the three youngest of us with her… into a new life of love and grace and freedom in You. 

And now, Lord, don’t let me go berserk with this wonderful freedom.  Help me to just keep my eyes upon You.  And like a faithful dog staring into the eyes of his master awaiting his desire and poised to respond at a run… may I look into Your face and be alert to Your heart’s desire.  I am no longer bound by a whole library full of detailed laws, but rather tethered by a bond of heavenly love for You, wanting only to please You, my Master and my King.  Amen.  

Everyday with Jesus...

I wrote this last week, but had no time to add the pictures and send it until today.

It is certainly true that I am having far too much “fun” to call this “work.”  When a person gets old he is supposed lay down his tools and go fishing.  And if he likes to hunt deer he spends deer season hiking through the woods seeking a nice deer and sitting by the campfire.  If he prefers to work in his garden, he does that.  If he likes to sit on the porch in his rocking chair and watch the sun go down that’s what he does.  They call this “retirement.” And if he happens to love what he has been doing all his life… then that is what he gets to do as long as breath and strength permit.  So I can truly say that I am just as “retired” as that other old geezer that is sitting on his porch in his rocking chair… but I have an added blessing.  I have the joy of touching many lives.  I get to preach every day of the week at least once.   We used to sing a chorus when I was a kid:  “Every day with Jesus is sweeter than the day before…”  And it is really true! 

Saturday October 25: Let me tell you about a fine clean-looking teenage boy who patiently waited for me for about an hour while I prayed with practically everyone in the church, did the hugs and kisses thing and posed with cute chicks and elderly ladies for several dozen pictures.  I didn’t even notice him until then.  He may not have even been in the service at all.  When no one was left he approached me and pulled me to one side alone and whispered to me these tragic words: “I am a drug addict.”  I asked him for his name and his age.  Emanuel is 15.  He told me that he was in the grip of cigarettes, marijuana and a series of types of pills that kids take here.  I asked him if he had surrendered his life to Jesus.  He had not.  “Do you want to do that now?”  “Yes.”  We prayed together as we held one another in an embrace.  I felt as though he belonged to my family, but was helplessly lost and surrounded by wicked lions seeking to devour him.  Our nearest Teen Challenge program is almost a thousand miles from here.  He wants out of his addiction.  Would you join me in prayer for Emanuel?  He has the benefit of a great caring pastor, Emilio Carrizo, here in this humble neighborhood.

Sunday October 26: An 8 year old boy took me aside after all the greetings and prayer was over.  He said he wanted to talk to me in private. I took him to a place up near the platform.  He told me that his daddy had separated from his mother several months ago… His desperate heart broke right there in my arms.  He wept heavily with tears pouring from big round eyes.  As we were praying and both weeping I felt something.  It was his little brother who had sneaked up on us.  He slipped into the mix with his arms tightly around my middle and joined his big brother sobbing bitterly.  What can I say?  What can I pray?  They had only one request.  “Pray for my daddy to come back home!”  Oh God, please bend the rules and apply your love, mercy and grace to drag that man out of his sin into a relationship with You and into the arms of two terrified little boys! 
Sunday October 26: Evening service: A young teenage girl grabbed me and hugged me to her with all her might.  She was sobbing with emotion.  I was unable to understand what she was saying through her sobs, but Jesus knows and I prayed for her.  

Another teenage girl slipped up and joined in the prayer-hug.  Afterward they wanted a picture. 

Still another girl held me and prayed a powerful prayer of God’s strength, blessing and protection over me.  I could practically feel the flow of love and strength pouring into my tired, ragged frame.  I was nearing exhaustion, but I was being lifted, strengthened and blessed beyond measure by little people with great big hearts. 

October 27:  I have ministered in seven services in the last 4 days, including special services for children that are wonderful, but much more exhausting than ministering to adults.  

Two back to back evening services tonight, Monday… one with the little people at 7 PM (a wild bunch to be sure) and another for Pastor Emilio Carrizo’s team of 20 lay workers.  I resurrected an old chorus “Enciéndeme con brazas de tu altar.  Enséñame a amarte más y más.  Atraeme, Señor Jesús a tí.  Enseñame a conocerte a tí.”   Translation: “Set me aflame with coals from off the altar.  Teach me to love You more and more.  Draw me to Yourself, Lord Jesus.  Teach me to truly know You.” 

My text was “Did not our hearts burn within us as He walked with us in the way!…”  Luke 24.  Lord Jesus, we need burning hearts.  Set us on fire for You! 

Tuesday October 28:  I ministered in a new little AG church only a year old with pastors Jose and Betty Martinez.  I was surprised and thrilled to see Emanuel again.  His church is far away from here.  His pastor, Emilio Carrizo, had brought him on the back of his motorcycle at his request to see me again.  He wanted to tell me that he just completed three days of his new life in Christ with no cigarettes and no drugs!  I feel that God has his hand upon Emanuel.  Who knows what God can do with him!

I was just beginning my message at 10 PM when we were plunged into darkness.  Fortunately I had chosen to use my little battery powered amp for my mike, so I kept right on preaching.  Several people used their cell phone lights to light me up.  Oh what dear people!  And how God blessed us! 

Heaven has got to be really great to be better than this!  

I’ve got to hurry now about 40 miles down a rough gravel road to a little town called Chuscha where they will be celebrating “Family Day” at the elementary public school.  I will be eating lunch with them, then ministering to parents and staff and about 300 students.  Later this evening I will minister at the local AG church. 

Talk about opportunities to share the message of Jesus!  WOW!


(Pictures taken at the public school)