Friday, July 31, 2015

Ralph, Alias Thomas, Hiatt

Friday 7-31-15 (Home Modesto, California)

Scripture reading:  Isaiah 63-64    Ps 107    John 2

S=Scripture O=Observation A=Application P=Prayer  SOAP for the soul.

S.  John 2:11 This miraculous sign at Cana in Galilee was Jesus' first display of his glory. And his disciples believed in him.
John 2:23-25  Because of the miraculous signs he did in Jerusalem at the Passover celebration, many people were convinced that he was indeed the Messiah.  But Jesus didn't trust them, because he knew what people were really like. No one needed to tell him about human nature. NLT

O.  The word was out.  Over there in Cana, Jesus had turned water into wine.  Now everybody in Jerusalem was raving about a miracle working Jesus.  He was tough, too.  He cleared the market-place out of the temple area.  He was Superman, Batman and Spiderman all wrapped in one.  He had defied the top authorities of the temple grounds.  He was the talk of the town, the hero of the poor and downtrodden.  Hurray for Jesus!  But Jesus was not impressed by the fickle crowd.

A.  If I had been standing in a crowd of excited people that day… all talking about the miracle worker, would I have believed in Him?  I confess, I have a skeptical streak in me that seeks proof before commitment.  I would not have been satisfied to hear rumors.  I would have dashed over to the other side of town to witness Jesus’ miracles for myself.  I would have interviewed jumping paralytics and talked with deaf-mutes… then maybe I would have come on board.  I should have been named “Thomas.”

In Argentina, when people were lining up alongside Evangelist Carlos Annacondia’s platform to testify of instant miracles received that night… I was right there interviewing these happy people before they went up.  Several were testifying to have new fillings in their teeth.  I had just examined the mouth of a little ragged boy who was with his mother.  He had two shining fillings in his molars. “Are you sure you haven’t been to a dentist?” “Of course not!” They both almost laughed at me.  Kids that age living in the poverty class, could never have considered filling a tooth.  His mother calmly told me that her daughter got 4 fillings the previous night.  And there were several such cases, most of them adults.  “Okay, Ralph Hiatt, alias ‘Thomas’, you can go back and rejoice with the crowd of onlookers now.”

P.  Thank You, Lord, for putting up with me. But I do have legitimate questions, You know.  For instance, why not just create a new tooth?  What’s with the fillings?  Did I hear you say, “To show other people? So all their neighbors will come hear the gospel?”  Well, it sure worked, God!  Look at this crowd of tens of thousands standing for 4 hours with no chairs!”  I just hope they are not fickle.  What’s that You are saying?  “Quit being so negative!”  Lord, I bet You sometimes wonder why You ever chose me for Your missionary.  Amen.


Thursday, July 30, 2015

A fisherman’s vocabulary

Thursday 7-30-15 (Home Modesto, California)

Scripture reading:  Isaiah 60-62    John 1

S=Scripture O=Observation A=Application P=Prayer  SOAP for the soul.

S.  John 1:1-8  In the beginning the Word already existed. He was with God, and he was God. He was in the beginning with God. He created everything there is. Nothing exists that he didn't make. Life itself was in him, and this life gives light to everyone. The light shines through the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. God sent John the Baptist to tell everyone about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony. NLT

O.  John, the beloved, introduces Jesus to us in a most remarkable way.  He goes directly to the heart of the issue to let us know that Jesus was God, the Creator, in the flesh.  In the 17th verse he quotes John the Baptist as contrasting Jesus with Moses.  Moses brought the law which showed us the justice of God, but now Jesus has come to show us another facet of God’s greatness… his grace and truth.

A.  When I started Bible School at Western Conservative Baptist Theological Seminary, I took a class in Koine Greek, the language of John’s original writing of these scriptures and of most of the New Testament.  82 year old Dr. Milliken was my professor, a wonderful man of God and one of the three founders of this seminary.  He explained that we would start in the first chapter of John’s Gospel, since John, unlike the physician, Luke, had only been a fisherman and thus used the simplest vocabulary for our first studies.  However, we quickly discovered that John, the beloved, was not just writing a history of events that had happened.  He was presenting with his simple words… profound eternal truths that would shake nations.

P.  Lord Jesus, You know where the pages of my Bible wear ragged first.  It is always the Gospel of John.  From the first verse to the last there can be no doubt of Your divine majesty.  The law of Moses, engraved in stone by the Creator’s fingers centuries earlier, would now be balanced out with Your life on earth, the Creator Himself demonstrating in living color… Your grace and truth.  I melt into a bundle at your feet and once again can feel Your grace and truth washing over me.  Oh Lord, please prepare me to be an effective voice, like that of John the Baptist, crying in the wilderness of this age.  Amen.


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

A Young Skinny Wimp Stands Up

Wednesday 7-29-15 (Home Modesto, California)

Scripture reading:  Isaiah 57-59    Ps 103   2 Peter 3

S=Scripture O=Observation A=Application P=Prayer  SOAP for the soul.

S.  Ps 103:1-2  Praise the LORD, I tell myself; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name.  Praise the LORD, I tell myself, and never forget the good things he does for me. NLT

O.  The 103rd Psalm has special meaning for me.  When I was 13 years old, my pastor, William Booth-Clibborn, encouraged me to memorize and quote this entire psalm to the congregation… and he added “with hand motions and expression.”  He knew that I was a skinny wimp that couldn’t stand up in front of anyone and speak.  He was probably trying to knock that wimpy attitude out of me.  Well, I did memorize the psalm and I did quote it for all… even with hand motions.  Back in those days there was never applause in the church.  The church was a place for honoring God, not men or even kids.  But he honored me with a book of missionary stories taken from his personal library.

A.  This psalm has to be one of the most beautiful in the book.  It encourages me to speak to my own soul, “Bless the Lord, Oh my soul, and all that is within me, Bless His holy name.  Bless the Lord, Oh my soul, and forget not all his benefits.”  Then it starts listing His benefits: Forgiveness of my sins tops the list, then healing me from all diseases.  He redeems my life from destruction and crowns me with loving kindness and tender mercy.  He even satisfies my mouth with good things and when I am getting old, He renews my youth like the eagle.  And the list goes on and on.

P.  So I do bless You, Lord.  My soul cries out with praise.  The list of things that you have done for me is unending.  But I praise You not only for what You have done for me, but for Who You are.  You are both my Creator and my Savior.  Like Adam, You breathed into my nostrils the breath of life and I became a living soul.  Then one day, when I was bent toward a sinful life, You heard my childish cry and once more breathed on me, this time with Your breath of spiritual life.  And then at 17 years old, You breathed again on me and I broke out praising You in tongues I did not know.  Now Lord I am 83 years old.  How about doing that “eagle thing” on me next?  What’s that You’re saying?  You’ve already done it!?  That’s the reason I can still be active in Your service?  Thank you, Lord!  And now please breathe again on me with Your special anointing for ministry.  Amen.

The Breath of God
Wonderful song by my pastor, William Booth-Clibborn

There’s a wind that blows full of life and power
As in all creation’s most solemn hour
When God gently breathed on a form of sod
And the first man lived by the breathe of God

Let it breathe on me
Let it breathe on me
Let the breath of God no breathe on me (repeat)

Sweet the sound from heaven as with tongues of fire
Suddenly the wind filled the room entire
As of old, again send Thy Spirit, Lord
Let it breathe on us, while in one accord.


Blessed breath of Life, no one seems to know
From whence this wind comes, neither where it goes.
But the broken heart, the surrendered will,
And the hungry soul it will surely fill.


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Not His, but mine!

Tuesday 7-28-15 (Home Modesto, California)

Scripture reading:  Isaiah 53-56      2 Peter 2

S=Scripture O=Observation A=Application P=Prayer  SOAP for the soul.

S.  Isa 53:4-6  Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God for his own sins! But he was wounded and crushed for our sins. He was beaten that we might have peace. He was whipped, and we were healed! All of us have strayed away like sheep. We have left God's paths to follow our own. Yet the LORD laid on him the guilt and sins of us all. NLT

A.  It sounds like a reporter that was at the foot of the cross taking notes.  Yet it was written over 700 years earlier by the prophet Isaiah. 

I was struck by two things in this translation, the NLT: 
  • ·      Their translators change “Yet it was our sicknesses” and “our diseases” to “Yet it was our weaknesses” and “our sorrows” while leaving the possibility of referring to a footnote clarifying that the original text actually says “sicknesses” and “diseases”.  In this case I feel they have taken liberty to insert their personal interpretation perhaps to better fit their doctrinal position.  Why not translate what is written?
  • ·       The other thing that hit me is the very reason why I enjoy reading other translations each year.  I often notice some things I had not noticed before in the KJV and other translations.  It is that many of the onlookers at the cross thought that Jesus was really getting what he deserved.  They truly thought He was a blasphemer, since He made Himself out to be “equal with God.”*

But Isaiah clarifies it for them.  God, His Father, was actually allowing Him to be punished… beaten, whipped, wounded and crushed to death for their sins… and my sins, not for His. 

P.  Jesus, how many times did you read these carefully inscribed words on a scroll of Isaiah the prophet as you were growing up as a young lad?  Did You know?  Were You already aware that the prophet Isaiah was describing Your suffering and death?  If so, did You shrink back in fear?  Did the future beatings, scoffing, the spitting in Your face, the nails in Your hands… did the cross seem too much for You to bear?  No!  “For the joy that was set before You, You endured the cross.”* You could see me, a lost sinner, heading for eternal condemnation, being redeemed, set free and joining You in Your mansions in the sky.  Your future joy of seeing me saved… carried You through it all.  Anyone who really believes this and turns his back upon it… is a fool.  I was just a little child, but I embraced this truth and look forward to a glorious eternity with You.  Amen.


*John 5:18  Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.  KJV

*Heb 12:2  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. NIV

Monday, July 27, 2015

Listening for My Word for Today

Monday 7-27-15 (Home Modesto, California)

Scripture reading:  Isaiah 50-52    Ps 92     2 Peter 1

S=Scripture O=Observation A=Application P=Prayer  SOAP for the soul.

S.  Isa 50:4-5  The Sovereign LORD has given me his words of wisdom, so that I know what to say to all these weary ones. Morning by morning he wakens me and opens my understanding to his will. The Sovereign LORD has spoken to me, and I have listened.  NLT

O.  Isaiah knew that he had been called to share a message from Jehovah God to His people and to the nations.  Early in his life he had heard God speaking, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” And he had answered, “Here am I; send me!”  So now, morning by morning when he would awake, he would listen for God’s words of wisdom and seek understanding of His divine will. 

A.  What is on my mind each morning when I awake?  Do I rush to turn on the TV for the weather or the latest news?  Or am I listening for God to speak to my heart one more time?  As the years and decades roll so quickly by, I find myself listening more and asking God for His Word for me today.  And so often He speaks through His divine Word, the Bible.

P.  Precious Lord, Your Word to me is more stimulating than a phone call from a dear friend.  Each morning I wait for You to speak to me again… one more time.  I open Your Book.  I read and reread words that I have read many times before and yet those same words speak so often to my special need for today.  I open the ears of my heart and listen for Your words of wisdom once more.  And my soul cries out to You often with tears of joy, “Thank You, Lord of all the earth!  You have fed my soul another healthy morsel."  I will go forward with confidence, stepping out in Your strength again today.  Amen.


Sunday, July 26, 2015

Feed my sheep

Sunday 7-26-15 (Home Modesto, California)

Scripture reading:  Isaiah 46-49    1 Peter 5

S=Scripture O=Observation A=Application P=Prayer  SOAP for the soul.

S.  1 Peter 5:1-3  As a fellow elder, this is my appeal to you: Care for the flock of God entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly — not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God.  Don't lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your good example. NLT

O.  Peter may have in mind that unforgettable moment when after his failure at Jesus’ trial and after His Savior’s resurrection, he had gone back to fishing.  And the resurrected Christ called him to the shore, fed him breakfast and made sure that he understood his true calling.  “Peter, do you love Me?  Do you really love me?  Then care for my lambs.  Feed my sheep.  I called you years ago from the fishing boat.  I am giving you the ministry of caring for a flock.  You will be responsible for their future safety and growth.  

Now the years have passed and Peter is passing the baton on to younger men.

A.  What an awesome responsibility God has given me!  For He has called me to be a pastor of His precious sheep!  My words and my example will shape their lives and hopefully they will bring glory to God and the expansion of His kingdom.  My failure could likely bring their failure, too.

P.  So, Dear Lord Jesus, send me a double portion of Your Holy Spirit today.  Oh, how I need You.  The task that You have given me is greater than I am.  I’m too small for the job.  Jesus, You said it, and it is true.  I can do nothing without You.  All my efforts would be in vain without You.  May I never offend Your Holy Spirit so that He would distance Himself from me.  Today I need You.  Oh, how I need You!  There are souls in the balance.  Today may make the difference for their eternal destiny.  I hear you, Lord.  You are coaxing me to tenderly care for your lambs and lead them toward maturity with love and by example.  May I not fail You!  Amen.


Saturday, July 25, 2015

He gave me a gift… to give it away

Saturday 7-25-15 (Home Modesto, California)

Scripture reading:  Isaiah 43-45    1 Peter 4

S=Scripture O=Observation A=Application P=Prayer  SOAP for the soul.

S.  1 Peter 4:10-11 God has given gifts to each of you from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Manage them well so that God's generosity can flow through you. Are you called to be a speaker? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Are you called to help others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then God will be given glory in everything through Jesus Christ. All glory and power belong to him forever and ever. Amen. NLT

O.  God doesn’t wait for Christmas or a birthday to give His marvelous gifts.  We cannot brag that we have earned them.  They are just that: “gifts” from heaven above.  But along with these gifts comes a responsibility.  We are instructed to “pass it on.”

A.  I am called of God to be an open channel so that His generous blessings can flow through me.  I may have received only one gift from God or a variety of His gifts, but they are not for me to hoard.  I must be an open channel.  I must seek to discover my gift, then develop it by practicing it in a way that blesses others.  I must perform it with all the enthusiasm, strength and energy that God supplies.  And in the end I must not look back and say, “See what I have accomplished!”  For I must recognize that if anything good has been achieved, it must not have my name attached to it, but His.

P.  Lord, these are sobering thoughts.  If I have received much, then I am responsible to give much.  Jesus, You instructed Your disciples, “Freely you have received, freely give.” (Matt 10:8)  So where am I in this equation?  Am I truly giving it away as generously as You are pouring it in?  Or am I selfishly gloating over “my gift.”  Oh God, help me to cast it all on Your altar of sacrifice.  Help me to give it back to You by sharing it with others.  Help me to preach tomorrow with all the enthusiasm, strength, energy and anointing that Your Holy Spirit supplies.  And as precious souls come to surrender at Your feet, may I give You all the glory!  Amen.


“Your call is very important to me…”

Friday 7-24-15 (Home Modesto, California)

Scripture reading:  Isaiah 40-42    1 Peter 3

S=Scripture O=Observation A=Application P=Prayer  SOAP for the soul.

S.  Isa 40:28-31 Don't you know that the LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth? He never grows faint or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to those who are tired and worn out; he offers strength to the weak.  Even youths will become exhausted, and young men will give up.  But those who wait on the LORD will find new strength. They will fly high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. NLT

O.  God is offering strength to weary stressed-out Christians.  He is reminding us that He is God, the Creator and He has just what we need… His strength. 

A.  I had a down-time late last night.  I don’t have many.  But I got frustrated with my progress on a certain project and was almost tempted to give up.  Yes, I realize my “strength” is not just a physical thing.  I can be physically well, yet grow faint and weary with discouragement and stress.  But there is a promise embedded in this scripture.  God offers me “new strength”.  I will walk and not faint.  I will run and not get weary.  I will even fly high like an eagle.  Walk, run and fly!  It can’t get much better than that for a weary soul. 

But what is the key?  I must “wait on the Lord”.  What does that mean?  I am definitely not a good “waiter”.  The Apostle Peter was a “jump up and run” kind of guy… and I think I have got some of his same genes.  I hurry up and get to the doctor’s office right on time… sign in and “wait”.  Rush to the bank and have to “wait in line.”  Read the Bible and God’s Word tells me to “wait on the Lord.”  Come on, now.

P.  Lord, did I dial Your number right?  Are You listening up there?  Hello!  Hello!  What?  Am I talking to a recording?  “Your call is very important to me.  All my angels are busy with other customers right now.  Please stay on the line and “wait”.  You are number two hundred and forty two in line.” 

But, Lord, this is an emergency.  I am in need of patience and I need it right now

Did I hear You say that this is NOT a recording?… that it is actually YOU telling me to wait?… to not jump up and run?… to hang in there?… to trust in You?  Did I hear you say “Tribulation worketh patience”?  Yeah, Lord, but that was back in the days of the old King James version.  Certainly You must have a more streamlined modern, push-button, up-dated method by now.  Don’t you have an app I could download?  Did our line go dead?  Are You still there?  You are?  But You have no more to say to me?  But God, I am in a hurry.  (Silence.)  Gotta run, God.  I try You again tomorrow.  Amen.


PS.  (Muttering to myself off line) I’d do anything to get some patience… anything but “wait”, that is. 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

God, You spoiled it!

Thursday 7-23-15 (Home Modesto, California)

Scripture reading:  2 Kings 20    Isaiah 38-39    Ps 75    1 Peter 2

S=Scripture O=Observation A=Application P=Prayer  SOAP for the soul.

S.  2 Kings 20:19-20  Then Hezekiah said to Isaiah, "This message you have given me from the LORD is good." But the king was thinking, "At least there will be peace and security during my lifetime." NLT

O.  Isaiah the prophet had informed Hezekiah that he would have his life extended 15 years, but after his death the army of Babylon would overrun the city and carry away his sons and daughters and theirs… to be made into slaves and eunuchs to serve Babylon’s king.  So this noble King Hezekiah that has faithfully sought God, brought revival, escaped danger through prayer and much more is saying to himself.  “Whew!  My kids and theirs will all be captured and forced into slavery, but I’m cool… because there will be peace in my lifetime.”

A.  I liked King Hezekiah up until this last sentence.  Why did Isaiah have to record what Hezekiah was “thinking?”  It leaves one nasty, dark blot on his record.  Maybe it was to remind me that the Lord knows what I am thinking… and that is a scary thought indeed.  But it also tells me that unlike other records of men’s heroes, God does not hide his heroes’ errors.  He paints a clean portrait of this great king and just before adding his signature God splashes this final dark blot on the canvass.  It shows me the integrity of God’s Holy Word. 

P.  God, You spoiled it!  We could have made statues of Saint Hezekiah in his spotless flowing robes, but “No,” you revealed his “thoughts” to us.  So I’m going to stay with the worship of Your Son, Jesus. He has no blots on His record.  And I am determined to never be satisfied to leave disaster for my kids and grandkids with a “Ho hum” attitude… thinking, “The ship is sinking, but I will escape.”  God, I pray for my sons, my grandkids and theirs… left on this sinking planet.  I pray for my spiritual children, too.  You know that I cannot leave this planet contented without the assurance of their faith solidly based in You for their eternal salvation.  Amen.   


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

I know Who wins!

Wednesday 7-22-15 (Home Modesto, California)

Scripture reading:  Isaiah 36-37    Ps 76    1 Peter 1

S=Scripture O=Observation A=Application P=Prayer  SOAP for the soul.

S.  1 Peter 1:10-11  This salvation was something the prophets wanted to know more about. They prophesied about this gracious salvation prepared for you, even though they had many questions as to what it all could mean. They wondered what the Spirit of Christ within them was talking about when he told them in advance about Christ's suffering and his great glory afterward. They wondered when and to whom all this would happen. NLT

O.  The prophets of the Old Testament prophesied many things that they themselves did not understand.  They received and wrote the message that they had received from God, but were left in the dark to wonder about when and how these things would be worked out.  These events would only be fully understood when they actually took place.

A.  Many experts in eschatology have examined every minute detail of the prophetic book of the Revelation, written by the Apostle John.  They postulate the meaning of its symbols and often become dogmatic about their interpretation.  Yet Peter shows me that the prophetic words of Isaiah 53, and hundreds of other prophetic words of the OT, were not intended to be fully understood until the events actually happened.  So why might the Lord ask John to write this book?  For many reasons perhaps, including the assurance to the suffering, persecuted Christians… and to me that in the long run “He wins!”  Great stuff is awaiting us.  Prophecy says to me, “Hang in there!  This, too, will pass.  God’s got the future in His hands.  I am “more than a conqueror through Him that loved me!”  (Rom 8:37)

P.  Lord Jesus, dedicated religious men have become experts in interpretation of prophecy.  They have named the antichrist over and over again.  Others have set a fixed date for Your return to earth… even though You specifically told us we are not supposed to know.  They all fall into disgrace.  Help me to choose to believe Your wonderful promises and to enjoy the freedom they bring me.  This life has been marvelous for me, but just over the horizon… beyond the sunset there is coming a blissful morning.  I can look to my future with great anticipation because, even if down here the whole thing goes up in smoke, I know Who will be left standing.  I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. Job 19:25 NIV.  I know Who wins!


Rescue the wounded from death

Tuesday 7-21-15 (Home Modesto, California)

Scripture reading:  2 Kings 18-19   2 Chron 32    James 5

S=Scripture O=Observation A=Application P=Prayer  SOAP for the soul.

S.  James 5:19-20  My dear brothers and sisters, if anyone among you wanders away from the truth and is brought back again, you can be sure that the one who brings that person back will save that sinner from death and bring about the forgiveness of many sins. NLT

O.  What a way to end James’ letter!  James, like the Good Shepherd, Jesus, is concerned for lost, wandering sheep.  His words encourage us to go after that lost sheep.  Someone has left the pathway of truth, lost his or her enthusiasm for joining others in worship…is missing and… nobody cares.

A.  Perhaps I am too quick to scratch that name off the roster.  Maybe I give up on them too easily.  Someone slipped and fell.  Someone was offended and succumbed to discouragement.  His or her faith withered and hope was shattered.  Some were enticed by the opportunity to enter into a promising financial business deal.  Some were strong leaders, even preachers of the Gospel… but they have left their calling and are lost in the wilderness of riches.  Who will care enough to go searching?  Who will reclaim that backslidden sinner, saving them from death?

I don’t recall his name.  He was a young minister.  We were in the USA for our year of deputation visiting our supporting churches.  “Come with me!” he insisted with great enthusiasm.  “You’ve got to check this out.”  I went with him to a meeting in San Jose, not knowing what it was.  I soon discovered this was not a meeting to worship the Lord.  He had discovered a way to make thousands of dollars. 

Before the meeting started, someone ran to the microphone and yelled, “How do you feel?”  Suddenly almost everyone present jumped to their feet and screamed, “Great!”  This happened several times.  Next came the singing… songs about money… followed by testimonies.  One by one people took the stand to tell how they were now earning tens of thousands of dollars by joining this company.  Finally the big boss, a hair-lip who spoke with a heavy lisp, preached for most of an hour promising riches.  My minister friend showed me other ministers and Christians that were present.  He told me that I needed to come aboard.  “Look, you could be making $5,000 a month in 3 months!” 

I was heart-sick at what I saw.  If ever there was a worship service, this was it.  But these people were worshiping the almighty dollar!  They had been sucked into a new religion.  I felt that I had been in a demonic atmosphere.  But I could not convince this brother.  He must have left the ministry for I never heard of him again.  

P.  Lord Jesus, Good Shepherd of my soul, You are calling on me to care for someone who is weak… to reach out and steady them when they are slipping, hold their hand through deep valleys of discouragement, to warn them when danger is ahead.  And when they crash and leave the flock, wandering… lost in the wilderness of money, entertainment and purposelessness help me to seek them out and with Your tender love help me to save that lost sheep from certain destruction.  Amen.


Monday, July 20, 2015

Anaheim River Assembly of God Church

Argentinean Pastors Dante and Liliana Gebel for three years now have been renting different facilities as they have been founding a new Spanish speaking Assemblies of God church in Anaheim, California.  Next week they should close escrow purchasing this River Arena seating 3,000!  This picture was taken yesterday.  Already they have had to use overflow space in the vestibule with a large screen. 

Several months ago they invited me to give the closing message for their first all day workshop for their team of 80 volunteer Sunday School teachers on Saturday, July 18.  This Argentine couple is very serious about planting a church that will lead little children, youth and adults into a true relationship with Christ as His fervent disciples.   
During the Sunday morning service they brought in several hundred kids to meet Felipe.

Look at this group of kids almost halfway around the circular platform!
Felipe thought he was in heaven.


After Felipe, Pastor Dante asked the children to open their hands to receive a blessing from heaven…

And he asked me to I pray for them.

Then came the surprise.  Pastor Dante and Liliana honored me with a beautiful plaque.  The text in Spanish reads: To Ambassador from Heaven, Rafael Hiatt for his love, integrity, leadership and perseverance in the work of the Lord.  “No one has greater love than this, than one who gives his life for his friends.”  John 15:13, Pastors Dante y Liliana Gebel. July 19, 2015, River Church.

I refuse the title of “apostle” or “prophet”… but cannot think of a higher honor than to be considered an “ambassador” representing God’s Kingdom.  2 Cor. 5:20  

Thank you, Dante and Liliana and River Church!  You have blessed me!


Welcome at my table anyway

Monday 7-20-15 (Home Modesto, California)

Scripture reading: 2 Chron 29-31    James 4
S=Scripture O=Observation A=Application P=Prayer  SOAP for the soul.

S.  2 Chron 29:3-5 Hezekiah reopened the doors of the Temple of the LORD and repaired them. 29:24  The king had specifically commanded that this burnt offering and sin offering should be made for all Israel. 30:1  King Hezekiah now sent word to all Israel and Judah, and he wrote letters of invitation to Ephraim and Manasseh. 30:10-11  But most of the people just laughed at the messengers and made fun of them.  30:27  Then the Levitical priests stood and blessed the people, and God heard them from his holy dwelling in heaven.  31:21  Hezekiah sought his God wholeheartedly. As a result, he was very successful.  NLT

O.  The new king Hezekiah, 25 years old, decided to revive the worship of the true and living God.  I was struck by five things: 
·       He cleaned all the garbage out of the abandoned temple, including idols. 
·       He included the other 10 tribes that had defected from Judah* and invited them to the Passover celebration.
·       Even though many scoffed at his invitation, he blessed those that came and even gave them special privileges at the table.
·       When the Passover was celebrated, God heard from heaven.
·       Hezekiah went after God with his whole heart… and thus was successful.

*Although the ten tribes of Israel had seceded from the nation and gone into total idolatry and had even had sent their armies and fought against Jerusalem.  Yet Hezekiah now sent them heralds with letters of invitation.  Good job, King Hezekiah!  

A.  There is much for me to learn from this record of King Hezekiah’s revival.  I especially like the fact that he included “all Israel.”  It would be something like inviting the Roman Catholics to an evangelical revival and seating them in the front row.  Many of these Israelites had not gone through the cleansing ceremonies and thus were not in legal condition to partake of the Passover.  So Hezekiah prayed for them and God received them anyway.  God was looking at the heart.

Yesterday, I arrived that the River Church that seats 3,000 at 10 AM, knowing that the service with Dante and Liliana Gebel did not start until 11.  Since I was early, I decided to gas-up at the ARCO service station… the same station I used to manage at night in 1953 to 55… exactly one block from the arena.  Sandy was a pleasant young lady that took my money.  I noticed that she had a slight Spanish accent and spoke to her in Spanish.  I pointed to the line-up of people forming all down the block 45 minutes before the doors opened and invited her to River Church (Spanish speaking church) where I would be participating in a few moments.  “Do you do a mass there?” she asked.  I told her we sing and worship the Lord and the pastor preaches.  Before I left to fill my gas tank, Sandy told me that next Sunday she has a day off and she promised me that she will come.  I hope she does.

P.  God, You know that I am not an ecumenical freak, trying to lower the bar of Your message to include other religions.  But I thank You that You open the door to everyone.  You know that I have often thanked You for the Roman Catholics in South America, since, although they have strayed away from many teachings of the Bible… yet they have left a deep hunger inside their people to really know God.  And for this reason they often come running when they discover that the door to Your presence is open for them through Jesus Christ without the intervention of a priest.  And You were present with us yesterday as my little Felipe did his thing for the children and adults and 3,000 Spanish speaking believers worshipped You for 2 ½ hours!  Amen.


Tame that beast!

Sunday 7-19-15 (Anaheim, California… at Dante and Liliana Gebel’s Church)

Scripture reading: 2 Kings 17    2 Chron 28    Ps 46     James 3

S=Scripture O=Observation A=Application P=Prayer  SOAP for the soul.

S.  James 3:10-11 “And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!  Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water?” NLT

O.  Welcome to Pastor James’ church.  We often refer to the New Testament Church as a model for us to follow.  And I am sure in its beginning it would merit such imitation.  But now a few decades had passed and… well, maybe somebody’s tongue had started rumors… and a spark had started a forest fire.

A.  So Pastor James grabs a fire extinguisher and runs into the forest.  And I am over here a few centuries away patting myself on the back.  I’m so glad that I have my tongue under control.  I would never… or would I?  When I hear a juicy morsel of gossip from a “good source”* how do I react?  Am I thinking, “Who can I share this with?”  (to pray for the offender,” of course)  Or am I searching for a fire extinguisher to spray on that “good source”*?

*Fact is: Gossip is never, and has never been a “good source”… a gossiping tongue is an evil thing.  My wagging tongue can send my neighbor to heaven or to hell.

P.  Lord Jesus, please come deal with my tongue.  It’s getting too limber.  It seems to wag too easily.  It responds too quickly before my brain has considered the potential consequences.  Maybe it exaggerates a little bit to make me look better.  I ask you to “nip that in the bud.”  Oh!  It already blossomed?  Okay, then snip it at its root.  Please make my tongue to be an instrument for good, under Your control.  Amen.