Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Practicing Affirmation

With the close of 2012 upon us, I was thinking back about some of the books that I have read over the past year. There are were a few books that were very helpful to me. I would not suggest replacing your regular discipline of reading the Scriptures, but make time for you to read some good books as well. Two of those very special to me this past year have been.

E.M. Bounds - The Power of Prayer

Sam Crabtree - Practicing Affirmation

The latter of these two, "Practicing Affirmation" is by far the most helpful book that I have read this past year. It is available on Kindle for $3.03! Crabtree, one of the Pastors at Bethlehem Baptist Church, discusses the command, joy, and responsibility of affirming God-exalting qualities in others. If you are going to be in any sort of leadership, I would consider this one of the most basic books you should read. If you are a new Christian or have been walking with Jesus for years, you will find this book easy to read, challenging, and wonderfully helpful!


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Sunday, December 2, 2012

Thoughts on Evangelism

I am convinced that it (The wall we erect between "us" - the Christians and "them" - the unbelievers, is often the reason why so many of us and so many of our churches are uninterested and ineffective in evangelism. An "us verse them" mentality can produce fear of the world, a condemning, even hateful attitude toward "sinners," a desire to retreat into the safe haven of our Christian institutions, and an insistence on personal separation from "sinners." If we do not know non-Christians in any personal depth, it is evident that the only evangelism that can take place is technique -based raids from behind the wall of the church into the "enemy-occupied territory" of the world. This is certainly not the kind of evangelism we read about in the New Testament. (Barrs 10-11)


I highly recommend the book by Jerram Barrs entitled "The Heart of Evangelism." This quote is taken from this work and I have found it to be a very convicting! I have greatly benefitted from this man's ministry, his writings, and his sermons.

What are your thoughts?

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Saturday, November 10, 2012

Do they know us by the t-shirts that we wear?

For my fellow Christian friends - I was just reading an e-mail update from a well-run business that I oftentimes patronize. In reading their update it occurred to me that this business is seeking to become "all things to all people" that they might win (and I believe serve) their customers with their (in my opinion) worthy product. It then occurred to me how much I lack in modeling that I may become all things to all people that I might win some to Christ. Rather, it seems that it is far too easy for me to "hate some" that I might show others that I belong to Christ. To think this way certainly is to think against the plain teaching of the Scripture and certainly is not the way of Christ. Oh friends, let's learn new languages, let's enjoy people from other cultures, let's get to know people whose sin is an offense and not sin with them, but love them, give our lives for them, pray for them, and encourage them to seek Christ, while He may be found!

Let's become friends of sinners, let's love them genuinely...not because we want something! Let's value all people, regardless if they hate us, make fun of us, ridicule, or persecute us! Let's leave judgement and wrath to God and free ourselves to be a servant of all people! Pray for me, that I might grow in this!

Let's become all things to all people, not as an "end in itself" but that we might win some for Christ!




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Monday, November 5, 2012

Decision 2012 Facebook posts

Here are some thoughts concerning the 2012 elections.

To my fellow Evangelical friends: Wise people have said before that people will remember what we are excited about. I would challenge all of us tomorrow to think about what we have said about this USA election and specifically about who wins and who looses. Do people that see things completely different from us see the love of Christ in us? Are we standing for truth, in love? Is it absolutely clear that our hope is in Jesus Christ and not in any political party or presidential candidate? Have we spread gossip, slander, and misused other's names? If so, may we lead in repentance and pray that the change that this great nation needs, begins in you and me.

Other thoughts on Decision 2012: If you consider yourself a Christian, would you say that you love your enemy (aka - the political party/candidate with whom you disagree)? Would others believe you by the way you talk about them? Are we sure that the adds that we have seen accurately portray the other person? Are we sure that the gossip we have heard accurately portray the other person? Let's assume all the dirty things are true. Does that give us the right to "hate" them. Just think about the fact that the rest of the world is watching us to see whether or not the Gospel of Jesus Christ is real. We may say that we do not "hate" anyone, but speaking from personal experience, it is obvious to others when our words and actions say something totally different.


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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Bible Reading Plan for 2013

Well, here we are almost at the end of the of another year. Reflecting on this past year, one of the greatest blessings for me has been my daily "read the Bible through" program. I have attempted many times before to stick with a plan, but...are you ready for this??? this is the first year that I will be completing the program.

Don't misunderstand...it has not come without falling behind, interruptions, etc., but it has been worth it. I highly recommend using the "You Version" application that is a free download from either Android or iTunes. This year I have used the Discipleship Journal in English. Next year, by God's grace, I want to try to read through the same plan in Spanish.

Why am I saying this to you? Well, I do believe that this same "read the Bible through" plan can benefit you too!!

Here are some other ideas for reading plans for free!

http://www.esvbible.org/devotions/

Let's pray together for a 2013 dedicated to the reading, studying, meditating, and application of the Words of Christ!

In all things...Christ preeminent!

Aaron


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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Some thoughts on prayer

Jerram Barrs, Professor at Covenant Theological Seminary, offers some great thoughts regarding the matter of where to begin with prayer. Here is a quote from his work "The Heart of Evangelism."

Recognizing our dependence on The Lord to bring people to faith in Christ, what should be the focus of our prayers? God has placed each of us in a "family" of those we love and those who love us--both actual family members and also the "family" of our close friends, the people whose lives have become closely intertwined with ours. Our first and perfectly appropriate desire will be to pray for these people whom we already love.


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Sunday, September 16, 2012

In the beginning, God...

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1 ESV)

When I was young (I love it that I can say this now) and was growing up in a small country church, we had a Wednesday night Bible Study for "young people." Our Pastor's Wife, Ms. Fisher, lead the study faithfully each week. I look back and think about the main lesson that I remember above everything else. "In the beginning, God." This lesson started what would be a regular Bible study working through the book of Genesis.

It would be nice to tell you that at the time I saw the importance of such lessons. It seemed odd at the time. Why would she initiate a Bible study here? After all, there were more relevant topics to address. She should be talking about drugs, sex, and "worldly" music. We should be talking about things that "teenagers" need to hear. (Don't miss the point...I am not saying that there is never a place for addressing specific topics).

What I didn't realize is this is the exact lesson that teenagers needed to hear. You see, the Gospel begins with "In the beginning, God." Without starting there it is possible to rightly understand this world, yourself, problems, etc. By looking at the creation we are able to begin to understand some basic questions that everyone must answer. Questions like: "How did we get here?", "Is there a God?", "If there is a God, did He say anything?", "If God has spoken, what did He say?", "If he has spoken, does it really matter." All of those questions cannot be understood apart from the reality of the God who spoke in Genesis 1:1.

What I didn't know at the time and what Ms. Fisher did not know is her lesson some 20+ years ago would become one of my favorite lessons in all my life. Yes, because God has spoken, we can know the truth about Him, which gives light (knowledge and understanding) to how we got here, why we exist, what He has said, and why that matters! As I prepare to teach this very thing next weekend (In Spanish) I hope to relay this foundational instruction with the passion and zeal that was demonstrated to me and many others by this faithful teacher of the Word. Thank you Ms. Fisher for your faithfulness to our Lord over all these years!

In all things...Christ preeminent!


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Saturday, August 4, 2012

US/Mexico Border update

As the group assigned to the US/Mexico border closes for this month, we would like to give you a quick, preliminary report.

First, our team was assigned to a congregation in San Juan (near Donna), Texas to conduct a Vacation Bible School (for all ages, including adults). We are very thankful to this congregation and their warm reception, hospitality, and hard work during the event. This congregation recently lost their building due to the lack of funds being able to provide necessary maintenance. They have been meeting in a member's home and have being going strong ever since.

Our first night of VBS there were 76 people present. Over 15 of them were adults many of which were not regular attendees of any church. On the second night three adults in the class made public professions of repentance of sin and faith in Christ Jesus. We are thankful for Iglesia Cristo El Rey for them to allow us to use their van this week to help with the transportation.

We have been blessed by the opportunity to share books and Bibles with different individuals. Through giving received others were provided with the Scriptures in the modern Spanish language. We also provided a soon to be married couple with a copy of Pipers "This Momentary Marriage." There are others who received various copies of other books by Sproul and Piper.

We will begin our return to the St. Louis area tomorrow afternoon following celebrating with our friends at Iglesia Cristo El Rey. We will share more information on the trip in the days to come.

Once again, we are thankful to each and every one of you that pray for us on a regular basis and for those who are able to "hold the rope."


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Updates from the Border and from Home

It has been a while since I have updated everyone, so here are a few thoughts on what all is going on at this time.

Outreach along the Border
Currently I am with a team of people who have accepted an assignment for 10 or so days to continue ministry along the US/Mexico border. During our discussion today (in the van) we were recalling ways that the Lord has blessed us and provided for us, specifically by the generous giving of so many here in Texas. I want you to know that they have taken care of all of us so very well. We are so blessed of the Lord for Miguel and all of his family and the extended family of Christ at the church in San Juan (Donna), Texas. We praise the Lord for them. Their hospitality and generosity has been such an encouragement to us and I ask that you pray for them and thank the Lord for his mighty provision through them!




Through your generous giving we have also been able to provide Bibles and good books to families with whom we have regular contact. We are thankful that it appears that they are getting connected with congregations and we are also seeing a hunger and a desire for the Word in their lives. Please continue to pray for the people that we have been visiting. Pray that the Lord would bless them with jobs, income, and by bringing them to salvation!

Tonight we will be having dinner with another family and also as a large group talking about the Scriptures together and praying with them. Please pray for this meeting as well as for a team of people that will be delivering a copy of "For your Joy" by John Piper (Spanish-edition) to every home in a small neighborhood on the US side of Reynosa, Mexico.

Other information from the Suttons
Our family will continue to seek the Lord for direction as to where we are to serve for the future. For now, please pray specifically for wisdom as to how to manage our household well, for Rachel as she is working again. This, as well as me being away from home during this trip has been hard on all three of us!

We want to be a blessing to the community in which we live and continue to work with others in partnering together in taking the Gospel to the Nations! For your continued support and encouragement, we are grateful!

In all things...Christ preeminent!

The Suttons


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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Jesus wept” is the shortest and biggest verse in the Bible. It is he who goes forth weeping (not preaching great sermons), bearing precious seed, who shall come again rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him. E.M. Bounds

What a great, refreshing word for this morning! Thoughts?



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Monday, June 18, 2012

Thoughts from this morning

This morning after prayer and reading through the Scripture, I turned my attention to reading through a chapter in E.M. Bound's marvelous work, "Power through Prayer." Though this well-known book had frequently been discussed and suggested, it really didn't catch my attention until recently. John Piper wrote an article about how this book had influenced some revisions in one of his books and how much this book meant to him. He also posted that the book was available as an e-book for $.99 so I thought "why not...I like having books available on the iPad and I just finished the one I previously purchased.

What I have found thus far is a much needed set of sermons. I recently figured out how you can copy and past from the book (I know...I'm new at this stuff) and wanted to share something with you below. I found this to be very challenging and helpful this morning. If you, my friend, are in any sort of leadership, I highly recommend this book to you. I am on the third chapter and the $.99 has been worth it already.

Below is an post from page 32 on the topic of dead orthodoxy (or knowing and preaching truth, but in such a way that it does not bring life, rather it brings death).

THE preaching that kills may be, and often is, orthodox—dogmatically, inviolably orthodox. We love orthodoxy. It is good. It is the best. It is the clean, clear-cut teaching of God’s Word, the trophies won by truth in its conflict with error, the levees which faith has raised against the desolating floods of honest or reckless misbelief or unbelief; but orthodoxy, clear and hard as crystal, suspicious and militant, may be but the letter well-shaped, well-named, and well-learned, the letter which kills. Nothing is so dead as a dead orthodoxy, too dead to speculate, too dead to think, to study, or to pray.



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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sunday morning thoughts

And as they went out of Jericho, a great crowd followed him. And behold, there were two blind men sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was passing by, they cried out, "Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!" The crowd rebuked them, telling them to be silent, but they cried out all the more, "Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!" And stopping, Jesus called them and said, "What do you want me to do for you?" They said to him, "Lord, let our eyes be opened." And Jesus in pity touched their eyes, and immediately they recovered their sight and followed him. (Matthew 20:29-34 ESV)

This morning during our Bible study we discussed this passage throughout a study on the questions that the Lord Jesus Christ asked during His earthly ministry. Before I note anything on this passage, I do wish to say that I am so thankful for Kurt who leads this study each week. The brothers that participate are such an example and blessing to me and my family and I am forever indebted to them.

One of the many things that strike me about this passage is the simple, yet striking fact that throughout the entire counsel of Scripture we have this simple example, that God gives grace to the weary, the weak, the destitute, the rejected, the poor, and the lame. You see, those are exactly the kind of people who are "looking for something." I know that there is more that could be said about this. The statements above in no way mean to imply that the "poor" means those without financial means, though it certainly doesn't exclude them.

You may read this passage and say "yes, Jesus had the power to heal." You may say, "yes, this is one of those miracles that we heard Jesus performed." You may be asking "why are you talking about this passage?" Well, there is great hope in this passage. You see, this passage, like the entire account of Scripture, is saying something to you and to me about the very nature of God.

It is very interesting indeed that the lowest person in the eyes of that society (those who were begging) are those exactly to whom the Lord extended His grace when they called out to Him for the help that they sought. (More to say about this in the future).

Therefore, if you find yourself as those whom society has rejected, either because of your low standing by birth or because of something that you have done in the past, call out to Him, just as these guys did. It doesn't matter if society tells you to keep quiet and to keep yourself "down", call out to Christ, and not only will He hear you, He will heal, and forgive. This is surely the greatest news ever reported in the history of this world.

In Christ,


Aaron


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Saturday, April 28, 2012

And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, "If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all." (Mark 9:35 ESV)

There are many things that can be said about leadership. One of the distinguishing qualities of a leader that we discussed in our c-group last night was the mark of being the "lead servant" of all. Our discussion actually centered around what does "genuine biblical maturity" look like. After much discussion, we came back around to this point and made some observations. (Not exhaustive, I must admit, but just some thoughts).

Maturity in Christ is demonstrated not by the number of books you have read, conferences you have attended, or the amount of time spent at Starbucks discussing the "deep truths of scripture." (Admittedly this is a little sermon that I am choosing to direct at myself.)

One way of thinking about maturity is the ongoing renouncing of your own desires, and freely giving of yourself to be taken advantage of, spit at, laughed at, mocked, and even killed, for the sake of laying down your lives joyfully in the service of others. For the Christian specifically we are talking about the fact that you and I are not our own, we have been bought with a price, and we have an obligation to do good to all (as we have the opportunity) especially the household of faith. (Galatians 6).

If we desire to look at an example, we can find no greater example to follow than the Lord Jesus Christ. The older I get and the more I think on the scripture that I read, the books I have studied, I keep coming back to this. Though I am a big fan of reading great books. We should read biographies, autobiographies, and all those other helpful resources. Still there can never be anyone greater that we must study that the Lord Himself. Christ Jesus, God the Son, humbled Himself, becoming as one of us, came to us, and is the only one who has lived on this Earth who ever truly suffered unjustly and did not lash out in doing so, but rather freely gave his life away in obedience to His Father and for the sake of His people. What an example.

I finish this post with restating, if you and I need an example of how to "share hope", "share the faith" learn what it means to be a "man" or anything other desirable quality, you will find no greater example than the Lord Jesus Christ. He is Worthy of our time and consideration.




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Location:Want to be a leader?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Reflection on 1 Corinthians 12:7

To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. (1 Corinthians 12:7 ESV)

So here I am sitting at the St. Louis Bread Company, looking over my Bible Reading for the day and as I am reading, some thoughts came to my mind concerning the verse.

We can be assured that the "manifestation of the Spirit" as mentioned here in this passage is never for selfish reasons. It is clearly stated in the entire context of this passage that God works in and through His people so that they might be a blessing to others. God gives "gifts" to us that all people might be blessed and that He would get the glory.

Our walk with Christ is a community project. (Thank you Paul Tripp for reminding this of that)! In this passage we are reminded again that we are not islands unto ourselves, but God has places us where He has placed us, and for those of us in Christ Jesus, He has given us gifts for the common good.

I pray that today you and I might consider how you and I might use our gifts, for the common good that Christ might be glorified and that in Him all the nations of the Earth might be blessed!

In all things...Christ preeminent!

Aaron


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Friday, April 13, 2012

Random thoughts from the Memory

It is another busy day here along the US/Mexico border and with most of our days we are running busy in different directions. So, here are some random updates.
Ligonier Ministries Specials
On this blog and in different locations previously I have referred to a wonderful resource by R.C. Sproul entitled "Taste of Heaven." This helpful book provides some excellent insight in to the subject of worship. This, along with others are available as part of the $5.00 Friday special. Visit the online store now
Little more on Mexico/Gideons
I failed to mention something very encouraging that we noticed during our trip to Mexico earlier this week. It appeared that the Giedons made a sweep through the very commercial market area because we saw groups of people reading Gideon Bibles (in Spanish) as well as saw several copies sitting at booths.
For Your Joy/Other Resources
Previously donated funds were used to purchase a case of "For Your Joy" booklets in Spanish. This little booklet by Pastor/Teacher John Piper answers many questions such as "What did Jesus have to die", "How can God love me" and "What does it mean if I don't love God." This week we have been able to place copies of this book at a few local businesses and they have been taken by interested persons. Yesterday we provided a handful to a Pastor visiting from Reyonsa, Mexico.
A special thank-you to those who played a part in providing a case of "Pilgrim's Progress." These were used by a congregation in Mexico and the Pastor sends his thanks!
Thank you for those who are committed to seeing that good resources are provided to all peoples of all languages!
Memory/Computer Updates
There has been a good response from supporters desiring to assist with the purchase of RAM for the two computers at the congregation where we are currently working. This, along with the purchase of an internet router will allow us to participate in online meetings and set the congregation up with online teaching and training by extension. This seems wise to me to recommend to them as this will make a good use of resources.
As I was typing this report I was informed that so far $225.00 was given toward this cause. We praise the Lord for this!
Debbie Ferrell at artistdf@sbcglobal.net can answer any questions concerning these projects. Please feel free to contact her if she can be of assistance. Again, thank you for your partnership in this endeavor.
There are so many other items that can be shared, but for now please just continue to pray for the work going on today, the Bible studies tonight and tomorrow night and our men's breakfast for tomorrow morning!
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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Rebounding and redemption





The other morning, Billy and I were playing basketball and we were teaching Olivia some things in basketball. (Well, really Billy was teaching basketball, I was just teaching vocabulary - LOL). I would tell Olivia what we called it when the basketball is shot, doesn't make it and one takes possession of the ball. After teaching her a few minutes later I would ask her again. "Olivia what do we call it when someone misses the shot and someone must get the....." I tried to help her with the "reeeee" and she looked at me and said "redeem." After we had our laughs we explained to her that it was "rebound." That little incident kind of set a tone for some things later in the day.

In the evening yesterday several things happened. Rachel and Olivia went and served disaster relief workers their evening dinner while Rick continued teaching the second half of his "sound technician" training. While all of this was going on Billy and I met with a few young men for a Bible study and discussion.

In our Bible study, in Spanish, we first read from Psalm 1 and discussed the importance of reading, thinking, and "meditating" on the Word of God. From there we followed up by reviewing the first two catechism questions from the Baptist Catechism. We then went in to working on memorizing the order of the books in the New Testament. Then we turned our attention to the book "A young man after God's own heart." This gave us a well-rounded education for the evening. After all the "teaching time" was over we played some basketball on the property.

Back to the matter of "rebounding and redemption." One of the ways that we are teaching others here is by simply reading through the scriptures and other books taking time to stop and ask if basic words are correctly understood. For instance, we have discussed words such as "Soberano" - Sovereign, "Discipulo" - Disciple, "Inmutable" - Immutable, and many others. It has been refreshing and also very enlightening to me personally.

I shared with Billy and Rick last night that some of the lessons that I have learned include:

Don't assume that words are understood

Don't rush the one you are teaching

Take time to read with the person, not just assign reading

Thank you again for following these posts and for praying for all of us. We also enjoyed a nice trip to Mexico yesterday as indicated in our picture above. Thank you also for praying for Olivia. Her bug bite is much, much better and the signs of infection seem to be going away. Praise the Lord!

In Christ,

Aaron

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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Pray for the those affected by the shooting

Thank you all again for following the blog and keeping up with our mission stories. I must apologize for the fact that many of the blog posts are so lengthy but there is really no other way to keep everyone "up to date" on what in the world is going on.

Let's see, where should we start from the last blog post?

Hermano Pedro and Family
As mentioned by our sister and fellow mission partner, Sarah Weber, Hermano Pedro is recovering nicely at home. Thank you all so much for praying for him and his family. We ask that you remember to pray for them especially given the fact that he is the only one who works in his family of 10. He is going to be out of work for at least one month, if not two or three. For more information, please visit Sarah's blog at: http://drolldigression.blogspot.com/2012/04/update-and-request.html

Discipleship and Resources
If you are one who gives to Psalm 67 Missions Network on a regular basis, or have done so on any occasion in the past, I would like for you to know that some of your donations have gone to provided sound materials to areas that have very little access. One young man (12 years old) specifically asked for a book that would help him study the scriptures every day. He is meeting with us and reviewing the questions and answers during our visits. Other materials that are being used include a Songbook in Spanish developed by our fellow partner in the ministry, John Spencer, tracts by Mathais media, and books (such as the Baptist catechism), which are used for Sunday School. All of the products are in Spanish and are being used in a congregation that has not been able to purchase their own materials in the last 3 years or so. (More will be posted about this at a later date as Billy Jackson (photographer and mission leader in training for Psalm 67) is currently editing a video report from locals here in the Rio Grande Valley who will speak to this need. Pray for Billy as he is currently editing materials from this trip as well as a Bible Conference he recently attended.




Pray for those affected by the shootings
You are probably thinking, "why haven't you discussed this already!" Well, I thought I would share with you that this morning Billy Jackson and I went to the Baptist Campground and volunteered to help serve breakfast to a group of Southern Baptist Convention Disaster Relief volunteers. They are in the area because parts of the Rio Grande Valley have been declared disaster areas due to the violent storm that went through last week. After we were serving, Rachel and Olivia (our four year old daughter) joined us. As the staff and volunteers were gathering together one person asked for prayer requests. Olivia, having heard us a few days earlier speak of the situation in Mexico along the boarder, mentions "pray for the people in the shooting." I thank the Lord that she would be prompted to remember the people affected by this reality of war. We then joined together and prayed, knowing that the Lord, He is faithful, and He will answer us. Please join us in praying together for the freedom of all peoples and the end to the war in Mexico. Our conviction is that the only way that there will be justice and peace will be by the Gospel transforming persons, communities, and cultures.

We love you all!

The Suttons (and the rest of the team)


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Monday, April 9, 2012

Follow up - A la carte items

Allow me to mention some things sporadically to also bring you "up to date."

Sunday School
Yesterday for Sunday School, Rick lead a group of 9-11 year olds, Billy and Rachel worked together with the younger kids (and also in children's church), and I taught the Adults and teenagers together. In our class we finished going through the "Dos Formas de Vivir" (Two ways to live) tract. After we finished this tract (which we have been working on for a few months now), we began to turn our attention to question #2 of the Baptist Catechism. Having already discussed question #1 about What is the "fin principal" or "chief end" of man, we turned our attention to "What rule has God given man by which we may know how to glorify and enjoy Him forever."

The answer to the question "The Word of God contained in the Old and New Testaments is the only (unica) rule that God has given man by which we may know how to glorify and enjoy Him forever." Here are two quick thoughts on why this resonated so much with me already this week.

First, we discussed in class that if one is to know and be a follower of Christ, one must do so, only through the Word of God as mentioned in the lesson. It is impossible for a person to come to the knowledge of the True and Living God apart from knowing Him in the Scriptures. The Scriptures alone are sufficient to make one "wise unto salvation." Therefore we cannot understate the need and priority of getting the Word of God in the hands of all peoples of all languages. It is also important that we teach them to obey "everything" that the Lord has commanded us. (Matthew 28:18-20).

Secondly, in an effort to explain in greater detail that the Scriptures alone are sufficient, we looked at what is going on in the context of the Valley community. Brothers and sisters, please pray because there are many that are teaching "Jesus+" or the "Bible+." I can assure you as I assured the hearers on Sunday morning that this is no Gospel at all, but is a teaching of the enemy and enslaves people. For example, while we were driving around Saturday we found that many streets had the presence of Mormon missionaries. There were people absent from the congregation on Sunday morning because they have (since the last time we were here) been lead to a "Jehovah's Witness" service. Though I advocate that we must treat both camps mentioned above as people created in the image of God, we must at the same time tell them and others that they teach a foreign God and not the True and Living God that is mentioned in the scriptures. We can be friends, but we are not brothers in Christ. We must love them, but we do not love their teaching that enslaves people. The camps mentioned above do not believe that the Scripture alone is sufficient. They do not believe that Christ alone is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. These, my friends, are non-negotiable for those who desire to know the True and Living God. They are essential, not because I said so, but because this is the plain teaching of Scripture.

There is so much more to talk to you about. Please pray for our team, please pray for Olivia as she has a little bug bite that we are watching for infection. (Hey, I told you that the information included in this post is going to be sporadic).

In Christ,

Aaron

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Mission Update

Buenos Dias everyone!

Here were are in the Rio Grande Valley again and I would like to bring everyone up-to-date on a few things and specifically ask for prayer in a few different areas.

Here are some thoughts about a few of the days.

Thursday
On our trip south we ran in to a little problem of tornados crossing the highway in front of us. Though we did not personally encounter a tornado, it caused us to stop and wait for the storms to cross before heading south. We later stopped at a familiar place along our normal travel route and spent the night.

Friday
Friday we arrived at the Valley and made contact with the people from the congregation. Rick began a "Sound Technician" class with two people. His impressive training program was developed by him personally and he is now translating the details in Spanish.

Saturday
Saturday proved to be an event-filled day. Billy and I completed our morning jog to the local coffee shop. (I say jog, but it was more like 40% jog on the way there only and the rest was walking). Rick continued with round two of the sound Technician class. In the middle of the day a man who we refer to as "Hermano Solis" was working, cutting trees, when he was cut by a chainsaw, down to the bone. He had surgery later that evening. We were able to be with the family and pray with them, encourage them. Hermana Solis (the wife) was such an encouragement. As we were sitting in the hospital (knowing that the family has been through a lot lately), she asked if we could give her some scripture that she could cling to and find strength and encouragement. It was a joy to see her with her copy of God's word each time we visited.

Sunday
Sunday we all got a very early start and had a full day of plans. We ordered tacos for the congregation for breakfast and fired up the coffee pot for those who would come early. Billy ran the bus route at our previously established stops. We had a great service (about 40 or so in attendance). Enrique completed his first assignment as new "T├ęcnico de sonido" and did a great job, I might add. In the message Sunday, we looked at the subject of baptism and how this relates to a visual reminder of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. The day ended up with us resting for a while, then picking up Hermano Solis from the hospital and taking him home to be with his family.

I am writing all of this things to you, now on Monday. There are many other things that I would like to share with you, and by God's grace will do so perhaps in a follow-up post. Thank you all so much for reading, praying, sending, and going. Never forget that those who stay and support us in going are just as much part of the mission as those who go. We love you all!

In all things...Christ preeminent!

Aaron


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, March 16, 2012

Update from Iglesia Cristo El Rey

It is now Friday morning and we are preparing for our last teaching day with our Bible Study "Dios Siempre Gana" or "God Always Wins." Last night it sounds like there was a record set with attendance as, with counting our team (of 11), we had 96 people in attendance! Yesterday's study was "God Wins in the End - The last battle." Today we are going to ask the question "Who's side are you on?" Please pray as today is the final teaching of the series.

Other items of interest include:

  • The workers and muchachos have been challenged to learn 5 memory verses. Many have done so!
  • We have also challenged them with learning the Baptist catechism question "Are there more Gods than one." The answer to the question is "No. There is only One True and Living God." (Of course they are learning this in Spanish).
  • We have handed out books by John Piper called "Para tu gozo" or "For Your Joy" and the Mathaias Media tract "Two Ways to Live." From your generous support of Psalm 67 Missions Network we have been able to make these purchases.
  • Two young men (Mario and Enrique) have been helping us on a daily basis with translation when passing out flyers in the community, please pray for them.
There are many more points to mention, stay tuned!

In all things...Christ preeminent!

Aaron

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Mission Report 03/12/2012

Well, our team has arrived in Texas and we have had our first day of Spring Break Outreach to the community in the Rio Grande Valley. I would like to share with you some highlights of the trip as well as leave you with some prayer requests.

First, I would like to personally thank each and every one of you who have prayed for and financially supported this current endeavor. I would also like to personally send thanks to everyone who has participated with Psalm 67 Missions Network in the past. We praise God for the work that he has done along the US/Mexico border. We pray that this might continue and increase as the Lord allows. 

First, here are some highlights so far from this current endeavor:
  • There were approximately 55 people in attendance for church this past week. After discussion with several following the service, there are at least three individuals that would like counsel regarding being baptized. There were several new attendees this week, including a retired Anglo couple from Mississippi who have relocated to a retirement community in the Valley.
  • We had a total of 43 students and approximately 25 adults during the first afternoon/evening of VBS. Approximately 40% of those in attendance were new contacts for the congregation.
  • The members of this current mission team visited many new neighborhoods and invited them to come. This brought about new attendees on Sunday as well as contact with approximately 3 families that are interested in connecting with the congregation.
  • Through your generous giving, we were able to purchase approximately 400 copies of "For Your Joy" in Spanish. Current church members here report enjoying this resource and have cited that they are using copies of this resource to have Gospel conversations with their coworkers, family members, and amigos. In addition to this, we were able to purchase many other books and resource for the congregation.
  • Sunday night we had a discussion on "what does the Bible say about Church Membership." Part of our meeting included watching a "Nine Marks of a Healthy Church" presentation (In Spanish) on the subject. The members in attendance were very much encouraged and would like to continue discussion on this topic.
Here are some prayer challenges for this week:
  • The unity of our team. I know that this may seem small, but could you pray that we find Craig's camera? He would really like to have it to help him tell his story to others. He hasn't been able to locate it for a few days.
  • Pray for a young man named Humberto. The Lord knows the need, and this is an urgent matter.
  • Pray for the unity of the true believers. They are dealing with several issues that need to be addressed. It is very exciting to see the opportunity that they have to address several important issues and the Lord is showing us how he is graciously answering prayer.
  • Billy and many others will be visiting the Language School today. Billy is going to be discussing with the school about an employment opportunity.
There is so much more to talk about. Feel free to post any questions or comments. We will try to stay in touch here and on Facebook. You can always follow Psalm 67 Missions Network on Google+, Facebook, or Twitter.

In all things...Christ preeminent!

Aaron

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Every-member ministry

One of the many forgotten truths that we re-learned in the reformation was the fact that every member of the church is a minister and therefore has the charge to be faithful where they are today and right now.  Today was an opportunity for me to view this first hand.

The context was my sitting at a coffee shop (I know that you who know me are surprised), working on my sermon, sending e-mails, etc.  In to the coffee shop walked a business owner of a little boot shop next door. I knew this man because last year I went in to his shop with another Pastor to look at boots. Stop laughing! When we entered the store the owner, named Jaime, received us and asked us what we did for a living and how he might be a blessing to us. Jaime then prayed for us and the ministry and then we, in turn, prayed for him, his business and his ministry to the community.

Well, Jaime was now standing at the coffee bar waiting for three large coffees and next to him stood a young man for which he was buying the coffee. I walked up to Jaime and reintroduced myself and he immediately began to introduce me to the young man, we will call "Andy" who was with him. Jaime then began to talk with Andy about the goodness of God and the fact that though we may have many different "needs" in this world, that these are meant to point to us that the world cannot satisfy our greatest need and that is to receive forgiveness of our sin. Andy was agreeing with him and then the conversation switched to how we can pray for Andy and his family.  Turns out that Andy's mother is very sick and he is working to help support her. When then prayed for Andy that he might walk with Christ and that God would be gracious to his family.

Andy stated that he would like to come to church with me the next day, so we made a plan to get him there. When I asked how Jaime and Andy met each other, here is what I found out. Jaime, the business owner, walked out of his store-front business, saw two people working legitimately on the street. Jaime asked if he could please buy them something to eat or drink and then invited Andy to accompany him. It was then that they entered the coffee shop and the above conversation took place.

Two things.  Please pray for Jaime, Andy, and Andy's mother.

Second thing - here is a beautiful illustration of a boot-shop business owner being faithful here and now and being obedient, using what God has given him to be a blessing to others. You and I can and should be doing this. Whatever position God has put you in, teacher, police officer, soldier, waste-management specialist, secretary, homemaker, photographer, financial analyst, you and I can and should use every opportunity to do the very best you can for the good of all men that they might see your good works and glorify your Father, who is in Heaven!

In all things...Christ preeminent!

Aaron

Friday, February 10, 2012

Notes from C-group 02/09/2012

Yesterday started out as "one of those days" and not for any particular reason.  I know that you know what I am talking about here, it happens to everyone.  It is just a reminder once again that there is no wisdom in trusting in our "feelings" or our emotions because it will lead to instability and uncertainty.  All of that said, I knew that I was looking forward to meeting together for community group and was not disappointed in the least with our discussion.

First, a brief introduction as to "what is c-group?"  I have been asked this before and have commented and I think that this would be a good time to explain again.  If you are around our group long enough you will hear us say that we seek to be a "intentionally-intrusive, grace-driven, Christ-centered, redemptive community."  However this name can sound quite intimidating.  Each week we meet together, share our lives with each other, share a meal together, pray together, and discuss the Scriptures.  We do not have a sermon, or a "lesson" as such, but rather we seek to engage everyone.  We certainly welcome and encourage questions and deep discussion.

Last night was specifically engaging as we discussed the topic of "restoration" and "bearing one another's burdens."  I thought I would jot down some basic notes for those who were there and for those perhaps who were not able to make it last night.  Of course it would be silly to think that we could make an exhaustive list of notes, so please keep in mind that these are just some general ideas! Most of the information is taken from "Let's Study Galatians" by Derek Thomas. 

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load. Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches.

(Galatians 6:1-6 ESV)

Here are some observations that we made specifically focused on the first verse - Galatians 6:1:
  • Paul uses the term "brothers" nine times in the book and is doing so likely to communicate a warm affection for all of God's people, including those who are wrong in their actions and theology.
  • "Sin not only affects the person who commits it; it offends the entire family." (146)
  • Those who are "spiritual" should restore those who have been caught in any transgression
  • Those who are "spiritual" are not necessarily those with titles or positions within the congregation, but all of those who "walk according to the Spirit" as Paul describes in Galatians 5. Remember - there are no "little" or "big people" in this world. 
  • The aim is restoration and the manner is to be gentle.
  • The Galatians, just like us today should be engaged in a "Jesus-like ministry."  In this ministry we all play a part.  We must lay aside our notions that there is a "chain of command" in the body of Christ.  We are all called to be instruments of redemption for the good of others.
  • We should take note that Paul "is more concerned about addressing the manner and spirit of discipline than he is to say anything about the method." (148).  Paul was aware that it is easy to look down on others and to condemn others from a hypocritical point of view.
Finally, here are some points taken directly from page 148 that warn us about when we must engage int he process of correcting others.
  • Addressing particular sins in others can awaken something that has lain dormant within us for some time.
  • Recognizing that fellow Christians may sin in a particular way can lead us to excuse similar sins in our own lives, perhaps especially if the brother in question is known as a "mature" and "godly" Christina.  If so-and-so can do this, then so can I!
  • The devil will seek to lessen the effectiveness of the restoration by ensuring that those engaging in the process of restoration are themselves guilty of similar transgressions.
  • We are at our weakest when addressing the sins of another.  Self-righteousness and hypocrisy are close at hand in situations of this kind.
  • We find condemnation easier than restoration and forgiveness.
There was a lot more to our discussion last night.  Perhaps I can follow up with some questions for reflection, but this is all for now! 

In all things...Christ preeminent!

Aaron


Sunday, January 22, 2012

How do I prepare for future ministry?

This is an interesting question indeed. I started this post back in January and just now getting around to writing more about it. I have several thoughts on the subject, however for the sake of attention span and time, this post will be brief.

It might be easy to figure out what exactly we are meaning by "ministry." One of the common misconceptions that we have in our day and age is that there is such a great divorce between "ministry" and "daily living." This mindset can be very problematic and have terrible consequences in all areas of our lives. My friends, if you are a banker, you are called to the ministry of doing everything that you can to represent Christ through your integrity, through sacrificial living for the good of others, and being the very best, with Christlike attitude, seizing every moment of every day to live in such a way that Christ is seen as glorious. Another way of saying this is simply, you are called to "live out the Gospel" in every relationship. (I would personally suggest a really good study of the book of Galatians for further assistance with this).

Those things being said, every single believer, whether you are a high school student, doctor, public school teacher, mechanic, waste management specialist, police officer, fireman, computer programer, you are called to the ministry. Every single person who is called by Christ as one of His children, is "called into the ministry." Yes, there are some of those who are going to be "teachers of the Scripture" who are going to make their living by being supported by others, but this group of people in no way are doing anything different than what you and I should be doing. Their gifting and calling is simply different. When you and I realize this, it will free all of us to minister every day in whatever context we find ourselves.

Those items being said, what are some practical ways that you and I can prepare for this ministry for which God has called all of His children? First, God calls all of His children to seek Him first, and His righteousness. Our daily lives should be filled with prayer and radical holiness. Keep in mind what is holiness. Our example - The Lord Jesus Christ. I would suggest a good and complete study of his public ministry. Then ask yourself, questions such as "if I am to live like Christ, how does that work out in my life?" For instance, Christ did not seclude himself to studying the latest Piper book over coffee at Starbucks, going from there to a conference on indigenous world missions, to come home and then to debate others on theological correctness, then from one "fellowship" to another. (Please understand that this is obviously being overstated to paint a picture...I certainly believe that everything just mentioned, in their time and place, are good and profitable efforts). Christ DID spend so much time, not participating in the sin of the world, but he did spend time associating with those whom the world rejected as "lost causes" and "filthy" so much so that the "religious" wanted to kill him and made false accusations against him.

My final comment on this, with hope to follow up soon on other practical steps is this. If you and I want a recommendation on how to "live out the Gospel" then I can offer you and I no better book than the Gospels. I can offer you no greater example than the Lord Jesus Christ himself. There is no greater teacher than to take a long hard look at His life and ministry and then, by God's grace, walk in the reality of your identity as a follower of Christ.

In all things...Christ preeminent!

Aaron

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Thoughts on the latest mission trip

Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you!
(Psalm 67:5 ESV)

This past Tuesday a group with Psalm 67 Missions Network returned back to the St. Louis area after spending a week ministering to those along the Rio Grande Valley.  We were so blessed by this opportunity as I believe in many ways the Lord, as always, uses these opportunities to bring challenge, encouragement, and clarification to the lives of His people.

What exactly was done in the Valley? Well, this is always a trick question because we are tempted to think "look for the bottom line", which is impossible to do when we consider this type of work.  However, here are some highlights.
  • Six people attended this short-term trip.  We were able to drive the entire way without stopping over on the way there.  (We did stay over on the way back).
  • Billy Jackson was able to capture some great pics and take some interview video of the area and has been making these available to all of us.  This will help us continue to tell the story. See his page for more information.
  • I was able to preach three different times at two different congregations.  One day Rick ministered through music for a group of Winter Texans.  I preached a message on Matthew 13:44 to the same group on another day.
  • Visit Sarah's page to see more from her perspective
  • Each night, including adults, we had about 70-75 or so people in attendance!  Our study was over "Things Hidden" an evangelistic study of Kingdom Parables, by Children Desiring God.  We had classes for each age group.
  • We were able to use previously stored supplies that we keep in Psalm 67's storage unit.  This provided a monetary savings.
  • We were able to get caught near a high-speed chase involving helicopters, and multiple police agencies.  
  • Books donated by Desiring God ministries were provided to Pastors in Tamaulipas, Mexico.  Books donated by Iglesia Maranata in Granite City, Illinois, were provided to congregations on the United States side of the border.  Some of the books include a large case of "The Pilgrim's Progress" in Spanish.
  • We grew in love and unity with our brothers and sisters at Cristo el Rey, and along the US/Mexico border.
  • The Lord used humor by our mistakes to bring about closer relationships with some of the people!  This seems to be a common happening!
There is so much more to share.  I am so thankful to all of you who went and to those of you who held the rope!  I'm so thankful for my dear wife and daughter and the fact that they put up with me and love me!  We couldn't have made it without you! May the Lord be glorified in His church.  May His Kingdom come and His will be done!

In all things...Christ preeminent!

Aaron

How is life?

You may read later on and think to yourself "what in the world does this passage have to do with the title of this post."  Well, read the passage and then keep reading and hopefully you will see the connection.


And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

(Matthew 9:10-13 ESV)

There are a few points in this text that will be considered today.  As in all observations, none of them can be exhaustive, but perhaps you would be blessed by thinking on a couple of things.

Friend, how is your life?  You may be surprised to find out that the very people whom the Lord Jesus Christ sought were those whose life was a wreck.  That's right, if you read through the Bible you will find out that those people that were most hated by the "religious" people were those with whom Jesus and his followers spent much time.  In fact, they spent so much time with them that it lead to people hating them and questioning their "spirituality" that they would associate with people "like that."

You may be thinking "what in the world does this have to do with anything."  Please allow me to ask you a question again..."how is your life going?"  Do you find yourself miserable?  Are you longing for "something" but you just don't know what.  Do you find yourself without "hope."  Or if you have "hope" you have no reason for why you have "hope" and at times life just seems to be "hopeless."  Let me ask you this, do you belong with the crows that the religious people "hate."  Then let me tell you that there is great hope in Jesus Christ.  Notice, that the Lord did not call people to continue in their despair or current lifestyle, but He brought them out of where they were and gave them new life in Him.  It would be a joy to talk to you more about this, to answer questions, to pray with you, or to point you to others who can do the same thing.  The most important thing, is that you and I both are pointed to Jesus Christ.