Archive for January, 2010

Thanks for your prayers for my ministry on Wednesday evening. The Lord helped the Powerpoint presentation to flow smoothly. My delivery wasn’t quite as smooth, since it was my first time giving the sermon, but I believe I was able to communicate the main point.

I leave at 8am for my trip to SE Asia and India. I’ll be flying through Bangkok, Thailand, and hope to meet a friend and fellow BMM missionary Duane Scott, while passing through that city. I’ll actually go through Bangkok three times, but this first time is the best opportunity to see him.

Then I will fly to my final destination in SE Asia, where I’ll be for a week. I’ll be spending much of my time getting to know the various people, organizations, associations, and churches connected to our ministry. I hope to do some translation checking as well. I will be speaking at least once in the churches and hopefully more.

On February 2 I’ll head back to Bangkok on my way to northeast India (Silchar). I will spend a little less than two weeks in India, strengthening relationships and building new ones. I’ll also spend time getting to know the various organizations, associations, and churches connected to our ministry there. I also look forward to meeting up with a team of BI personnel, who will be working with the Indians on our current translation projects. I’ll be preaching at least once in the churches.

Please pray for the following requests:

  • For a safe and timely arrival of me and my luggage at each destination
  • For safety, both physical and spiritual, while traveling by myself and while in these countries
  • For health and restful sleep (my back still wakes me up each night at around 3 am, and I’ll hear many new sounds)
  • For the ability to communicate clearly so that my ministry is effective; for liberty and blessing as I preach and teach
  • For a warm reception of my ministry
  • For wisdom as I do translation checking and as I work through various issues with the BI personnel
  • For grace to be an encouragement to my fellow believers
  • For wisdom to learn all that God wants me to learn on this trip
  • For opportunities to witness for Christ
  • Thanks so much for your prayers! I look forward to reporting on how the trip went!

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    Busy Days

    The time finally came last Wednesday to leave the sunny south for the snowy north. I headed to Morgantown, WV, for a meeting at Faith Baptist Church. Though the auditorium was cold because of heating problems, the welcome was very warm, and I’m thankful for the chance I had to minister there. That area is basically recession-proof, so I’m hoping they will be able to support me.

    After spending a few days in Lancaster, PA, I trekked across a few states for a meeting at Grace for Life Bible Church in Aurora, IL. It was such an encouragement to hear Pastor Schroeder explain that the motorcycle my dad donated to his ministry years ago was the seed money he used to purchase the house that he now lives in. You see, he sold the motorcycle and purchased a camper. He eventually sold that camper and purchased another one and even made some money on that sale. When it came time to move to Aurora, his only capital was what was in that camper, so he sold it and used that money to purchase a house. And that’s the house he and his family are living in as they build this new church in Aurora! The story almost brought tears to my eyes as he told the congregation in the worship service.

    I had to leave Aurora immediately so that I could be back for some strategic planning meetings at the office in Grand Rapids. Because of Hantz’s unexpected trip to Haiti, however, those meetings were cancelled. But I was able to use my “free” time to do many other things.

    I spent yesterday and today preparing a sermon for a missions conference that Hantz had to step out of. It is located in Plainwell, MI, about an hour from Grand Rapids. I preached an “old” sermon yesterday but will be delivering this new one tonight. The Lord gave much grace last night, so please pray that He will do the same tonight. I’m a little anxious about this one since I have never given it, but I claim the promise “Be anxious for nothing….”  The theme is “Motives for Missions”, and I will be using a Powerpoint presentation. Please pray for no technical gliches.

    Now that I’ve finished writing that sermon, I need to begin catching up on other things and making plans for my three-week trip to SE Asia and India. I leave early on Saturday morning and will not be back until February 13. The main purpose of this trip is to form and strengthen relationships and to become familiar with our ministries over there. Please pray for wisdom in preparations.

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    The Christian in Complete Armour

    During one of my multiple trips across Pennsylvania this past fall, I took the time to stop by The Banner of Truth Trust in Carlisle, PA, to see what kind of deals they had in their scratch/dent section. I noticed William Gurnall’s The Christian in Complete Armour for half price–$24. I quickly snatched it up and have profited from reading portions of it this Christmas. I wanted to pass on some of these blessings in a blog post.

    Beginning on p. 234, he shares how a Christian can determine if he is in a state of declining grace–i.e., if he is backsliding. Before guiding the Christian in this exercise, he shows them what marks are not an indication of this declination.

    1. Christian, do not judge grace to be fallen weaker, because thy sense of corruption is grown stronger. Often, we can think that an increased awareness of our sinfulness is a sign that we are not experiencing the grace of God as fully, but Gurnall counters this with this point.  He says, If it be thus, thou hast rather a comfortable sign of grace growing than decaying.
    2. Take heed thou thinkest not grace decays, because thy comfort withdraws. Sometimes God does not give a felt sense of His grace, but this does not mean that His grace is not evident. Some graces thrive best, like some flowers, in the shade, such as humility, dependence on God, &c.
    3. Take heed thou dost not mistake, and think thy grace decays, when may be it is only thy temptations increase, and not thy grace that decreases. I’ve found my temptations to be greater now that I’m in missionary service, but Gurnall has encouraged me by his counsel. Temptation lies not in the same heaviness alway upon the Christian’s shoulder.

    Now he counsels the Christian on how to conclude that grace is declining. First, in reference to temptations to sin…

    1. When thou art not so wakeful to discover the encroachings of sin upon thee as formerly. It’s so easy to get desensitized to sin and not even realize it.
    2. When a temptation to sin is discovered, and thou findest thy heart shut up that thou does not pray against it, or not with that zeal and holy indignation, as formerly upon such occasions… 
    3. When the arguments prevailing most with thee to resist temptations to sin, or to mourn for sin committed, are more carnal and less evangelical than formerly.

    Second, in reference to the duties of God’s worship…

    1. If thy heart doth not prompt thee with that forwardness and readiness as formerly to hold communion with God in any duty. He adds, Nature cannot but decay if appetite to food go away. A craving soul is the thriving soul; such a child that will not let his mother rest, but is frequently crying for the breast.
    2. When thou declinest in thy care to perform duties in a spiritual sort, and to preserve the sense of those more inward failings, which in duty none but thyself can check thee of. Gurnall’s next sentence really convicted me: It is not frequency of duty, but spirituality in duty, [that] causeth thriving…
    3. When a Christian gets little spiritual nourishment from communion with God, to what it hath done. He adds, Dost thou hear and pray, and get no more strength to hold by a promise, no more power over, or brokenness of heart under, thy usual corruptions?

    Third, in reference to the frame of thy heart in worldly employments…

    1. When thy worldly occasions do not leave thee in so free and spiritual a disposition, to return into the presence of God as formerly.
    2. When thy diligence in thy particular calling is more selfish.
    3. When thou canst not bear the disappointment of thy carnal ends in thy particular calling, as thou hast done. Here’s a sentence to help make this point more understandable: The time was thou couldst retire thyself into God, and make up all thou didst want elsewhere in him; but now thou art not so well satisfied with thy estate, rank, and condition.

    Now he gives guidance on how to recover from a state of declining grace. First, he gives three duties…

    1. Thou art to renew thy repentance. The following words were particularly helpful for me: … and when thou hast found the sin that has done thee the mischief, then labour to fill thy heart with shame for it, and indignation against it, and so go big with sorrow, and cast it forth before the Lord in a heart-breaking confession.
    2. When thou hast renewed thy repentance, forget not, delay not then, to renew thy faith on the promise for pardon. I really needed to hear this point, because my focus is often too much upon my sin, and that depresses me. He adds, … if faith come not presently with its restorative, the poor creature will never get heart, or recover his strength.
    3. Back both these with a daily endeavour to mortify those lusts which most prevail over thy grace.

    Then he gives the second duty… to apply thyself to the use of those means which God hath appointed for the strengthening [of] grace…

    1. I shall send thee to the Word of God.
    2. From the word go to meditation. He gave some counsel in this section that has been particularly helpful for me and has been a great deterrent from sin recently. How can he be thankful that seldom thinks what he receives? or patient when God afflicts, that wants one of the most powerful arguments to pacify a mutinous spirit in trouble, and that is taken from the abundant good we receive at the hands of the Lord as well as a little evil?
    3. From meditation go to prayer.
    4. To all the former, join fellowship and communion with the saints thou livest amongst.

    I realize I have given only the highlights of Gurnall’s words in this section, but hopefully they are a blessing. Gurnall’s book is full of rich treasures for the soul, so I would encourage you to pick up a copy yourself. But beware, it’s 1200 pages long!!

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    I took a quick trip this past weekend to Cheraw, SC, leaving on Sat afternoon and returning late Sun evening.  I greatly enjoyed my time with Pastor David Bradshaw, his family, and his church (Calvary Baptist Church).  My preaching in the AM service went fairly well, but my presentation in the PM service went extremely well.  The people asked many questions, and the Lord enabled me to share a short challenge.  The people continued to show their interest after the service by their questions and also by their extremely generous love offering.  I praise the Lord for how He answered prayers and pray that this church will become one of my supporting churches.

    As I was driving home I decided to stop at a gas station for a drink.  I gave a tract to the girl at the cash register and said my usual words–“Could I give you something to read?  It tells how you can know your sins are forgiven, if you don’t already know?”  I can still see the girl’s sober look as she took the tract.  Even before I finished the transaction, she began reading the tract.  As I drove away, I could see her intently reading it.  Please pray for her soul.  And if you’re ever in McBee, SC, please stop by the Sea Way gas station and follow up with the black girl behind the cash register. 

    My trip to Myanmar and India continues to form up.  It looks like I’ll leave on Jan. 23, spend a few days in Myanmar, and then fly to India (Silchar) for about a week.  I’ll fly back around Feb. 14.  The schedule is still being finalized.  I sent my India visa application in yesterday, so hopefully it will arrive on time.  Please pray for preparations for this trip.

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    2009 in Review

    I’ve developed the habit of reviewing the past year on the first day of the new year.  As I look back over 2009, my thoughts quickly turn back to the fateful incident on the dangerous sledding hill in Grand Rapids.  Actually, the hill was quite tame, but a unique concurrence of events brought extremely painful effects to my T12 vertebra on Jan. 31.  I praise the Lord for bringing me safely through that whole incident, whose consequences stretched on into early May (and actually still continues to a certain extent) and which rose to the cost of $4,400 out of my pocket (praise the Lord for insurance which covered the other $15,000 or so).  I praise God for His provision of people and finances to help me through that situation.

    I also praise Him for His support as I sought prayer and financial support at 37 deputation meetings and 8 missions conferences.  He also kept me safe as I traveled 17,604 ministry miles.  My support increased by 16.6% to 55% in May.  My goal is to finish deputation by September, so I’m praying that my rate of increase will be substantially higher this year.  Would you please pray with me to this end? 

    I’m look back with gratitude for how the Lord answered so many prayers for my trips to Togo in July and to Haiti in December.  I can still remember how nervous I was about my Togo trip, since I would be consulting for the first time by myself and for the first time in French.  God showed Himself so powerful in that trip!  Of course, I’m also thankful for the many opportunities here in America to help with the projects in our 11 other countries.  It’s such a blessing to have this worldwide ministry! 

    Lastly, I would like to praise the Lord for making me grow spiritually, leading me to make friends with many wonderful people, giving wisdom to make right choices, and granting forgiveness when I ignored that wisdom.  To God be all praise for bringing me safely through another year! 

    Now to 2010…  Deputation cranks up again today as I prepare for my first 2010 meeting at Calvary B/C in Cheraw, SC.  Pray for safety and effective ministry.  Pray also for good health as I seem to have some faint symptoms of something not good.

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