Monday, December 19, 2016

Keepin' Busy

11-12-2016 City of Rosario, Argentina

The General Council of the Assemblies of God in Argentina happened during the same days as President Trump was being elected.

There must have been at least 2,000 of us meeting at a new huge convention center in the city of Rosario. 

I felt highly honored to be chosen by the National AG President to replace him as speaker on Thursday morning, since he is recovering from a recent stroke.  So many pastors were asking if Felipe was going to appear, I allowed him a few minutes.  He was seen on the big screen behind me.

Early in the morning hours before sunrise the Lord revealed to me what I should give these dedicated servants of God.  He is so faithful to pull me through when I feel unprepared.  The response of these men and women that have known Frances and me for many years was overwhelming.  God was there.

My son, Tim, had prepared a one-minute video promo for my book.  It hit the big screen right after my message. The line of friends from all over Argentina seemed never to end as I sat at a booth dedicating and signing my book, Argentina A Love Story (Argentina, con Amor in Spanish) more than 250 of them.

Yesterday, Friday, I drove 415 miles further north to the city of Resistencia, where I ministered last night in a delightful church.  This morning, Saturday, I was privileged to minister to children in Fontana, near Resistencia.

Everybody loves to pet Perfume, the Skunk.

I am really impressed!  This church feeds a strong, healthy meal to about 100 kids every Saturday morning.  I enjoyed eating with them… delicious rice with tomatoes a nice tender breaded steak complete year round with ice cream dessert.  Some of the volunteer workers are youth from a sister church.  I find this kind of ministry in many places.  Nobody knows about it.  Nobody pats them on the back to congratulate them.  The government doesn’t know they exist, but the love of God is expressed and lives are changed.

In a few minutes I go to preach in another church in this area and tomorrow, Sunday, in three other churches… morning, afternoon and night.  Am I having fun yet?  You better believe it!  And Oh! I love to see so many men, women, youth and elderly and even children on their knees after almost every service giving it all to Jesus!


Kissed by Your great love

Saturday 11-12-2016 City of Resistencia, northern Argentina   
Today we read Job 37 - 38 and 1 Cor. 12

S.  Job 38:8-11 "Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb, when I made the clouds its garment and wrapped it in thick darkness, when I fixed limits for it and set its doors and bars in place, when I said, 'This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt'?

O.  Job is full of wonderful poetry or prose, but these words shown as God speaking are awesome indeed.  The majesty of the creation and the movement of the elements are described in marvelous pictorial language.

A.  And I am made to feel small, powerless beneath the hand of the great Creator Who is speaking.  The mighty sea waves crash their breakers against the cliffs and as I watch in wonder and I know that God is behind it all.  My heart sings with a melody divine as I have been privileged to meet this mighty Creator and become a part of His handiwork and through the love and mercy of His Son even to participate as a player on His team!

P.  Oh!  Marvelous Lord God of heaven: The works of Your hands declare Your glory.  All of this is far above the reach of my imagination.  I cling to You as a little child clings to his mother.  I know that I am nothing but another creature of Your hands until I have been kissed by Your great love.  Carry me in your arms.  Lift me up out of my erring ways and use me for Your glory both now and forevermore!  Amen


Are you a follower or a leader?

Friday 11-11-2011 City of Rosario, National Assemblies of God Conference    
Today we read Psalm 122 and 1 Cor 9 - 11

S.  1 Cor 11:1 And you should follow my example, just as I follow Christ's. NLT

O. Paul was both a follower and a leader.  He knew Who’s example he should follow and was aware of the responsibility to have hundreds and, yes, thousands of followers.

A.  I, too, am both a follower and a leader. We all are, whether we like it or not. Many are following the habits of their parents. Their dad was a drinker and beat up on their mother and they are most likely to do the same if they also become a drinker. Or their mother was a friend to everyone and kind to children and you are the same. History seems to repeat itself in the following generation. I was fortunate to have Christian parents. My big brother was my hero.  He was 11 years old than me.  Played the piano beautifully, got top grades in school, and was a self-disciplined Christian in the military service.  I had a head-start over many. I was following a good example.

P. Dear Lord, You gave me a loving Christian mother and father.  Many do not have the same advantages.  Even so, I cannot say, like Paul, “Imitate me, as I imitate Christ.” I can only encourage others to look to You and follow You.  But I do ask You to help me be a careful follower of Yours and that my influence on others may draw them toward You.  Amen.


Ocean Rain

Thursday 11-10-2016 City of Rosario, National Assemblies of God Conference    
Today we read Job 35 - 36 and 1 Cor 7 - 8

S.  Job 36:26-30 “Look, God is exalted beyond what we can understand. His years are without number. He draws up the water vapor and then distills it into rain. The rain pours down from the clouds, and everyone benefits from it. Can anyone really understand the spreading of the clouds and the thunder that rolls forth from heaven? See how he spreads the lightning around him and how it lights up the depths of the sea”.  NLT

O.  Again we have these poetic words of “Mister Know-It-All”, Elihu.  I am amazed at his knowledge.  As he is pounding on poor, suffering Job, I confess that words like these above sometimes trigger strange thoughts in my head. As I read the above, I thought of the powerful rain storms at the deep, open sea.  God draws this water up from a sea of salt water, distills and purifies it to be useful as it is poured out on dry thirsty soil.  But what is this?  The sea is raining on itself!  My flimsy brain says, “What a waste!”

A.  So the warm love of the Lord draws up huge clouds of abundance of God’s grace and sends His “Spirit wind” to push that heavenly cloud of blessing to dry areas, where thousands of souls are dying of spiritual thirst.  But I happen to be in my little church-boat out at sea and need a drink of that pure water… so I cry, “Lord, please drop that cloud of fresh water on me!”  I cup my hands and drink in His blessings.  Two handfuls of His blessed refreshment satisfy my thirst and tons of pure water are wasted.  I sing, “Bless me, Lord. Bless me, bless me again!” And I am in danger of forgetting that I am blessed in order to bless others.

P.  Lord, I don’t know why it rains at sea, but I know Your abundance is sufficient for all, yet many are unreached.  Help me to recognize that You are blessing me so that I can bless other thirsting souls that are dying for lack of Your living water.  Amen.


Heaven is just one breath away.

Heaven is just one breath away.

Wednesday 11-9-2016  City of Rosario, National Assemblies of God Conference    
Today we read Job 34 and 1 Cor 4 - 6

S.  Job 34:14-15 If God were to take back his spirit and withdraw his breath, all life would cease, and humanity would turn again to dust. NLT

O. This is Elihu, one of Job’s “would be comforters” talking. He is supposed to be a friend, but accuses Job of being very evil and thus is being punished by God with sickness. Granted these “comforters” were shown to be wrong in their attitudes, but as I see it, they were remarkably accurate in many of their statements about God. Here is one of them.  It was God the Creator that breathed the breath of life into the first created man… and without a doubt, were He to withhold His breath of life from us, we and all his creatures would all breathe our last and the entire world would grow silent in a few moments.

A. I was lying beside my dying, beloved wife as she struggled to breathe her last. She knew her time had come and had announced to me several times that she was soon going to her new home in heaven. Now she was not frustrated or fearful, for she knew her Creator.  Now she was trying to speak and after many tries she got her final words through her lips, “I love you.” I was so emotionally moved that I failed to respond and she was gone. I was reminded of how fragile our life is. If God removed His breathe from me tonight I could not survive five minutes. My life hangs upon a string that will never break until God severs it. That could be today… for any one of us.

P. Lord, how generous of You to allow me a fresh start late in life. Every day and every hour I am yours and You are mine. I cannot find words to express my love for You. I only ask You to keep me in Your love and grace until You decide to call me to my heavenly home.  Amen.


“My message and my preaching were very plain.”

Tuesday 11-8-2016  City of Rosario, National Assemblies of God Conference    
Today we read Job 33 and 1 Cor 1 - 2

S.  1 Cor 2:1-5 Dear brothers and sisters, when I first came to you I didn't use lofty words and brilliant ideas to tell you God's message. For I decided to concentrate only on Jesus Christ and his death on the cross. I came to you in weakness — timid and trembling. And my message and my preaching were very plain. I did not use wise and persuasive speeches, but the Holy Spirit was powerful among you. I did this so that you might trust the power of God rather than human wisdom. NLT

O.  Yesterday’s devotional text explained to the Galatians the absolute sufficiency of Christ accomplishment on the cross.  Today Paul tells us how he preached exclusively this very same message to the Corinthians.  Paul had just come from Athens where he waxed eloquent preaching to the elite philosophers of his day.  He used lofty terms while preaching the same message, but with limited results. Now in Corinth he used no fancy eloquence.  He just gave them Jesus Christ and Him crucified and resurrected.  There is no reference of a successful church plant in Athens.  He was not going to allow himself to get complicated now in Corinth.  He just gave them the core of the Gospel with no frills, but backed by a demonstration of the Holy Spirit’s miracle working power.

P.  Lord Jesus, You received me when I was only 5 years old. I understood, since I had been exposed to hundreds of sermons, Bible verses, Sunday School classes and home devotionals.  Thank you for “revealing these things to babes.”  (Matt. 11:25) The core of the Gospel message can be understood even by a little child.  I wept my way into the heart of Jesus’ loving arms and arose singing, “Oh! How I love Jesus… because He first loved me!” I sang it with all my heart and all day long… along with another song, “I can, I will, I do believe that Jesus saves me now.”  I did not understand everything, but I trusted You with the details.  Amen. 


Matt 11:25 I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. KJV

Salvation through the cross of Christ alone!

Monday 11-7-2016  La Lucila, Province of Buenos Aires    
Today we read Job 31 – 32 and Galatians 5 – 6

S.  Gal 5:11-12 The fact that I am still being persecuted proves that I am still preaching salvation through the cross of Christ alone. NLT

O.  Why were the Jewish leaders so eager to kill Paul or keep him in prison?  It was simply that he preached that a person could be made right with God, saved and cleansed from sin, without becoming a Jew.  So why would God allow these Judaizers to follow Paul around, trying to convert the new Gentile Christians into Jews?  I think it was to stir the Apostle Paul into writing this very important epistle so that every Christian could know that we are not bound by the ceremonial laws of Judaism.  Paul preached, and I must preach, salvation through the cross of Christ alone.  Paul officially puts to rest this extremely important issue.

A.  Paul, himself, before his conversion, had zealously opposed to this “Jesus way to God” and had dragged men and women into prison and hoped for their execution.  Now he is suffering his own medicine… being chased down by zealous Jews everywhere he preached.  But now, these Jews were aware that this “sect” was getting out of hand.  So they were now infiltrating the Christian, hoping to make them half Christians and half Jews.  What disaster might have followed if this valiant apostle had not tackled this false doctrine at its budding.  Oh, how thankful for this wonderful truth: Salvation through the cross of Christ alone.

P.  Lord Jesus, “Salvation by your cross alone” is a fatal blow to my ego.  It says I am not good enough to be allowed into Your heaven.  It reminds me that I am an unworthy sinner.  It tells me that I cannot pull myself up by my own boot-straps.  It points me to Your sufficient sacrifice that needs nothing added.  You paid the price.  You cancelled my debt at Calvary.  If I try to crawl on my knees until they bleed to try to pay for my sin… I am denying the total sufficiency of Your perfect sacrifice.  I am saved today by Your mercy and grace alone.  What a relief!  Thanks, Lord, for clarifying this truth in this epistle to the Galatians.  Amen.

PS. He was a military man where I was ministering in Longbeach, California during my years in Bible School.  He apparently had a Roman Catholic background and was sure that Christ’s sacrifice was not enough.  I showed him Galatians 2:16 “So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.”  NIV  He read it, but could not believe that this could really be in the Bible.

A heart is broken. Depression is knocking.

Sunday 11-6-2016  La Lucila, Province of Buenos Aires    
Today we read Job 30, Psalm 120 and Galatians 3 – 4

S.  Job 30:16-17 And now my heart is broken. Depression haunts my days. My weary nights are filled with pain as though something were relentlessly gnawing at my bones. NLT

O.  Our friend, Job, has every reason to pour out his complaint to God.  He has lost his prosperity, his health and his family and even his friends accuse him of unfounded sins.  His nights seem endless and in the daytime depression pushes him into languish. 

A.  When my mother’s mother, Mary Frances Shanbeck, was widowed and aged, my father purchased a nice small home and literally moved it onto our property behind our house.  I remember how he built a small basement and prepared the foundation and plumbing and then the house was brought down the street and set in place.  I was in my early teens and visited my dear grandmother many times.  Now in her eighties she married again, but her new 88 year old husband soon developed dementia and passed away.  In her final days she, too, suffered illness.  I would sit and talk with her.  I remember her comment, “My nights seem so long!  I long for the light of day.” But her days were filled with pain, too, and I did not know what to say to comfort her. I could just be there with her.  Even in her last days she held firmly to her love for Jesus. 

P.  Dear Lord, my turn may be coming soon.  I do not look forward with anticipation to the pain that seems to usually accompany the process of saying good-bye to “this old house”, but I am comforted by the assurance of a “new house”… a new beginning where suffering and pain will no longer cultivate depression.  And there I will enjoy being close to my loved ones and to You, my Savior.  Life will be an eternal adventure with You, my Lord.  Amen.