We have just had a weekend of remembrance for all of our fallen soldiers who have given
their lives for this nation. I am aware that the same attitude of patriotism does not exists as
it did at one time; sad. I grew up with it, we talked about it, we were excited about it and we
felt honored to participate in any celebration. I am concerned that we have lost a lot of
ground over the last few decades and what was once honored is now ridiculed or even
worse, dismissed as irrelevant. While I am specifically referencing America, the flag, and
apple pie, I fear the church has lost a lot of ground and is also experiencing ridicule and
accusations of being irrelevant.
It’s not that new things are always wrong things, but if the new replaces foundations the
building crumbles. To pursue the new, the latest, the trend, without vetting the benefits,
leads to a form of entertainment in the church rather than life transformation. I am aware
that each generation wrestles with change and we sometimes need to be dragged into what new thing God may be doing. However, I would urge us all to evaluate and assess the
direction we are going. As I have said to my students many times, “The Gospel does not
need to be tweaked.” It is now urgent that courageous men and women repeat the ancient refrain, “ask for the old paths ... and walk therein ....” (Jer. 6:16).
I ’m not suggesting that everything ‘old’ is better. Try hauling around the old cordless phone
in your purse. I am simply recommending a sober evaluation of the status of the church, our ministries, and personal relationship with the Lord. Psalm 51:12 says, “Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation...” Let’s find that place of honor once again and reinstate the ‘awe’ in
awesome when referring to our God!
The other day, I started watching a show about a successful guy who sits down with people and helps them with their finances. As I watched the first episode, I was struck by how uncomfortable the first two couples he helped were about talking about their finances with each other. They didn’t seem terribly uncomfortable talking to the host of the show, but they seemed pretty uncomfortable talking with each other. These two couples had been married for years. How can that be? Why are people so uncomfortable talking about finances?
In Matthew 6:21, Jesus makes the following famous statement, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Perhaps that is why we find it so difficult or uncomfortable to talk about finances; it exposes what is in our hearts. Nothing so clearly or quickly cuts to the chase of where our hearts are than our bank accounts. What could expose our desires more than our credit cards, consumer debt, overdraft fees, or Amazon Prime purchase history?
The purpose of this letter is to remind us to take inventory of our lives. Right before the bit about your treasure and your heart, Jesus says in verse 20, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.” Sometimes I think about stuff way too much. I have a family after all. I want them to have the best. What father and husband doesn’t? I think that’s OK to want good stuff. But may it never be that I become so focused on treasures in this life that I forget the best investment of all.
May our prayers be like that of the Psalmist:
Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!
I was walking through the mall the other day and a couple of young men approached me. They asked me if I wanted to join them for a Bible study. I told them I was a Christian, to which they responded by asking me if I had heard of mother god. I proceeded to invite them to come sit down with me and talk for awhile. For the next thirty minutes or so, we talked together about their views of Scripture, mother god, the Trinity, and the Sabbath. I eventually had to leave, but I exchanged phone numbers with one of the guys. He and I continued texting for another day or two until he didn’t respond to my text anymore. These two young men are in a cult called The World Mission Society Church of God. I began to research this organization. They believe, amongst other things, that Christ has already come back in the form of a Korean man named Ahn Sahng-hong. You won’t have to do too much research to learn that Ahn Sahng-hong died in 1985. But their movement is alive and well, and has, according to Wikipedia, 3.3 million registered members.
Perhaps you read the above anecdote and thought to yourself, “how could someone possibly believe such things?” My heart breaks for him. He couldn’t have been much older than 20 years old, if that. And he was not Korean. In our texting back and forth, I kept encouraging him to read the New Testament for himself. He kept pushing back on that. He seemed to think he couldn’t properly interpret it for himself. Pray for him.
The Old Testament is replete with Messianic prophecies that were fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ. The writers of the New Testament go to great lengths to show how the Hebrew Scriptures point to Jesus as the Messiah. We are told that no one can come to the Father except through Jesus. Peter explains that there is no other name by which men can be saved. Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. And this Jesus, THE JESUS, is not dead, lying in a grave in South Korea. The Jesus we serve is alive and well and seated at the right hand of the Father. We serve a Resurrected Lord Who is coming again for us one day. Look to the sky. Our Redeemer lives. This is why we celebrate. He is Risen. He is Risen indeed.
It was 1968. Family tragedy had caused my mom to move us to another little town and from the only school and friends I’d known since 2nd grade; I was now in 11th grade. I came to the new school with a chip on my shoulder and an attitude that could cut glass. In time, I gathered a few friends and pursued a path of drinking, drag racing, and partying. I was an angry teenager to say the least…my poor mom.
In the spring of 1970, right before my high school graduation, my little brother, Dean, brought a tall, lanky young man to the house to get a soda. They had been playing basketball. My life was about to change dramatically. Little did I know that a movement that started in California, called the “Jesus Movement” or the “Jesus Revolution” that was sweeping across the nation was now influencing this little town in central Illinois. I heard the Gospel and the message of salvation for the first time and I made a radical commitment to Jesus. I was so excited to find out that I could know I was going to heaven! The tall, lanky young man…well, he became my husband 6 months later. Randy and I were swept up into ministry, which I knew absolutely nothing about. Fifty-three years later, the influence from that movement is still bearing fruit in my life and countless others. It’s my story.
The impact of these kinds of movements or revivals are monumental, historical events that transcend generations. We should continue to look for and expect continued moves of God as a means to impact people all over the world for Jesus! Reports are everywhere that this is happening right now across the nation and other nations as well. Don’t stand back with a we’ll see attitude. Jump in and participate. The world is hungry to hear the truth. The message of the Gospel must continue to go forth and each generation needs to feel the responsibility to influence their generation.
My theme song or mantra back then and continues to be, is the chorus we all sang exuberantly, “I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back…no turning back!” Jesus said, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62).
If you haven’t already, I encourage you to go see the newly released movie, The Jesus Revolution; it will stir your heart and light a fire of evangelism and missions fresh and new.
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1)
It’s the oldest lie in the Book, “Did God really say?” While it may be the oldest lie, it’s a lie that is quite contemporary. Attacks on the Word of God seem to be coming from everywhere these days. The Postmodern minds of our age don’t like absolute truth. Whether coming from the mouths of liberal bible scholars like those of the Jesus Seminar or the likes of learned men in seminaries and universities across the United States and the world, it is quite popular to cast doubt upon the authenticity and inerrancy of Scripture. We often hear of this popular “Christian” musician or that one, “deconstructing his or her faith.” While I can’t pretend to know the personal struggles, battles, or anything else of anyone else, I would be willing to wager that the vast majority of these situations that end in a loss of faith, begin with a loss of faith in the foundation of the Word of God. This is the battlefield of our day. If the Enemy of Our Souls can get us to doubt that the Word of God is the Word of God then trouble is sure to follow.
But God’s Word is Truth. All Scripture is “God-breathed” (2 Tim. 3:16). We can trust God’s Word. Do not be deceived by the wiles of those who would bear false witness against God and His Word. Do not be deceived by the slithering serpents who tickle ears with their lies. We can trust God. We can trust His Word.
“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever" (Isaiah 40:8).
Did God really say? Yes, yes He did. Let us “contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3).
2022 was a wonderful year for us as a family and for the ministry. I started working on a master’s degree at Dallas Theological Seminary so I can be better equipped to teach and minister God’s Word. I also taught a mission’s class in the third year program at Christ for the Nations. In October, I led a small team to El Salvador to minister with and encourage our associate missionaries down there.
Susan continues to teach at Christ for the Nations and has been speaking in various churches in the Dallas area.
WMA continues to expand with new missionaries who are reaching people all over the world with the love of Jesus. Russia invaded Ukraine. WMA Associate Missionaries in Poland, Romania, and Austria, have been the hands and feet of Jesus to many refugees who have been devastated by this war. Please continue to pray for these refugees.
As 2022 comes to a close and we enter in to 2023 with great expectations, I am reminded of our tendency to act as though some magical thing happens with the turn of the clock at midnight on December 31st. We make New Year’s resolutions, we talk about darkness turning to light, we talk about our hopes and our dreams for the future. To be sure, those things are right. We ought to do them. It is good to hope. But we all know too well that the problems and issues we face in one year have a tendency to follow us into the new one. I love when Anne Shirley quips that tomorrow is fresh with no mistakes in it. She is swiftly corrected by her teacher, “there are no mistakes in it yet.” And so it goes. We do hope for good things in the future. But whether the issues you are dealing with right now change or not, be encouraged that we serve the One Who holds our future in His hands. Rest in Him.
I will pray with the old Puritan:
I launch my bark on the unknown waters of this year;
with thee, O Father, as my harbour,
thee, O Son, at my helm,
thee, O Holy Spirit, filling my sails.
Thank you so much for your support in 2022. We love and appreciate all of you!
"More and more, the desire grows in me simply to walk around, greet people, enter their homes, sit on their doorsteps, play ball, throw water, and be known as someone who wants to live with them." -Henri Nouwen
It was about 11:00pm the night we first arrived. We were in the back of a truck, feeding about 150 homeless people living on the streets of San Salvador and a young man who clearly had developmental issues came over to the truck and gave Kurt the biggest hug you’ve ever seen. Kurt is a WMA Associate Missionary who has lived in El Salvador for almost 19 years. The young man was Miguel. He was Kurt’s first transition house boy. Kurt has two transition houses for young men and women who age out of orphanages. They are being discipled, receiving job training, and living in a house where they can be a family.
On Sunday morning about 80 people, mostly kids, showed up for church at WMA Associate Missionaries, Beth and Oscar Algeria’s house. Beth has been a missionary in El Salvador for about 14 years. This was double the amount of kids she was expecting. I had the opportunity to preach the sermon that morning. Two little kids raised their hands for salvation. Then we had a picnic, two piñatas, and a great time of fun in the park.
Both Kurt and Beth first went to El Salvador on short term mission’s trips. They have now both been there for many years serving faithfully day in and day out.
I love El Salvador. I’ve been going down there since 2010. I am so excited to be going back in October! I will be taking a small team of 4 people, myself included, to encourage our World Missions Advance associate missionaries there. Lord willing, we will help them with some of the work they are doing (feeding the homeless, visiting prisons, orphanages, and spending time with young people who live in transition houses) and make an updated documentary to use for fundraising that hopefully inspires more missionaries to go to El Salvador.
I was teaching in my mission’s class at Christ for the Nations the other day about the story of Jonah. If you’ve spent any time in church at all, you’ve no doubt heard the story a million times. It occurred to me, for the first time in my life, that Jonah was actually one of the most successful missionaries who has ever lived. Think about it, who else has ever preached such a short sermon… “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” …and seen repentance on such a grand scale? The whole city, including the king, repented and turned to the true God.
You would think any pastor or missionary or minister would be happy with such a successful altar call. Not Jonah. Look at his final words in this story, directed toward God, no less, “Yes, I do well to be angry, angry enough to die.” Jonah was not happy the city repented. The Ninevites were bad folks. I’m talking Nazi soldiers invading Poland bad. No wonder Jonah had such disdain for them. It’s easy for me to sit back and judge Jonah. How could he be so blatantly disobedient and have such a bad attitude toward God?
God is looking for our hearts. Does he have mine? Does he have yours? You can have the most “successful” ministry, or business, or family, in the world, but does God have your heart? The next time I read Jonah, I’m not going to be so quick to judge him.
We had a great time of ministry in Houston with Pastor Nelson Perez at Templo De Alabanza. Chad spoke about Jesus feeding the 5,000 and the boy’s offering of five loaves and two fish. Sometimes the needs around us can feel so overwhelming. We don’t think we have anything much to offer, but the little bit we have is much when we give it to the Lord.
Chad will be teaching a class called, Missions: History and Current Trends, this fall at Christ for the Nations. He will also be starting work on a Master’s degree at Dallas Theological Seminary to get more fully equipped for his continuing ministry opportunities and responsibilities.
Susan will be teaching Effective Biblical Counseling and Developing Kingdom Leaders at Christ for the Nations.
We are so thankful for these ministry opportunities at home to reach the nations by pouring into future ministers and international students, some of whom have already become Associate Missionaries with World Missions Advance.