It’s True, Cover to Cover!

I had a liberal theological background and, therefore, believed much of the book of Genesis was a “true myth”— fables intending to teach us truth, but the stories themselves never happened. There really wasn’t an Adam or an Eve. They were characters created by an ancient civilization to try to explain a creation they didn’t understand. There was no “Jonah and the whale”….You get the picture by now. But on August 28, 1980, I declared my faith in Jesus Christ, declaring it was all true. If it said the creation was a 7-day event, it was a 7-day event. Adam and Eve existed. There really was a Jonah, and he was swallowed by “a big fish”. I concluded the Bible is true from cover to cover and if the cover says “Holy Bible” the cover is true.

So, if the Bible says “…there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12b), and Jesus said, “No man comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6), those words must also be true.

The great truth is this: Jesus Christ died for my sins, and was resurrected three days later! Because I have bought into this truth, I have so many rewards, the greatest which I’m forgiven, my name is in the book, and I’m spending eternity in heaven. I’m saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

To know more about what this means, check out Wednesday night’s message given at Word of Life Bentonville at http://Gbpfm.sermon.net/main/main/21409770.

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A Leap of Faith

After twelve years full time at Arkansas Security, I have stepped down from my management position, going part time. I’m still available to help you analyze your security, fire, CCTV and access control needs, so please contact me if I may be of service in those areas. In the meantime, my focus is serving the Benton County Sheriff’s Office 1/2 time as Chief Chaplain, working toward full time when funds are available. My salaried position and operating expenses at BCSO are funded solely by Northwest Arkansas Chaplain Ministries, a 501 (c) (3) non-profit corporation. Initially Part of my responsibilities in includes fundraising for the ministry.

Here’s what you can do to help:

1. Pray for our chaplains, jail ministers and the people they serve at the Benton County Sheriff’s Office

2. Consider serving as a jail minister at the Benton County Jail.

3. Like and follow us on Facebook at NWAChaplains.

4. Sign up for our newsletter.

5. Help us find opportunities to share—in churches, civic clubs, wherever we might find an audience to listen to what God is doing at the Benton County Sheriff’s Office.

6. Consider supporting Northwest Arkansas Chaplain Ministries financially with monthly or one-time gifts.

Learn more, including how to sign up for the newsletter or support the chaplain ministry financially at nwachaplains.com,

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TIME TO LEAP

From today’s devo, “Pastor Rick: God has told you something that’s illogical and foolish. It makes no sense financially, relationally, or emotionally. Worse yet, you’re scared to death. But God says to do it anyway.”

I’m faced with such a situation, except for the “scared to death” part. I’m fully confident that what God has told me to do will succeed.

The sense of urgency to move forward began at the James River Church Stronger Men’s Conference, when Pastor Jeremy Foster from Hope City Church in Houston seemed to be saying over and over, “When are you going to do what God has called you to do?” I’m not going to make a major life decision on one conference speaker. But, since then it seems the same question keeps coming up over and over. I’ve discussed it with people I trust to tell me, not what I need to hear, but what they believe is best, and there’s been no negative response. And, importantly, my wife is beside this decision.

Today I’m meeting with my Board of Directors of the ministry today, to share with them I believe it’s time to take a leap of faith and launch full time, even though it seems “illogical and foolish…..”. (Read the entire Rick Warren devo at https://bit.ly/2WOEjIH).

I stand on God’s promises, ready to leap, confident of these scriptures:

“Commit your works to the LORD And your plans will be established.” PROVERBS 16:3 (NASB)

“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” PHILIPPIANS 1:6 (NASB)

And I’m ready to leap.

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On Forgiveness

In Numbers 12, Miriam and Aaron’s opposition to Moses’ leadership began with their criticism of Moses’ marriage to a Cushite (Ethiopian) woman. (Cushites were black-skinned people in Southern Egypt.) Criticism then escalated to his leadership, at which point God turned Miriam’s skin white with leprosy. (God has a sense of irony.) When Moses pleaded with God to heal her, God compared her criticism to spitting in her father’s face, a serious insult which required seven days of isolation. The primary offense–interracial marriage–led to a secondary offense, Moses’ leadership.

Primary offenses often lead to secondary offenses, and many times, it snowballs from there. That’s why “Forgive us our debts as we forgive…”is a daily prayer/decision we must make. If there’s no primary offense, there can be no secondary offense, then.

Being offended–or not being offended–is a choice. I choose to not be offended.

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Lesson Learned: Spend More Time Hanging Out With God

Often God uses my own experiences to teach me valuable lessons. That happened today.

My older son is going to be in town tomorrow. So I called and suggested that he come this evening and we could cook a steak add hang out and watch a guy movie. Hey said that instead, he would just wait and come tomorrow. That way he could sleep in his own bed tonight.

Though he had a valid reason, I admit I was disappointed. I used to have so much time with my sons, and now, with both of them moved away, I have so little time.

It struck me that that’s how my heavenly Father feels. He wants me to spend time with Him, and I find some “valid reason” to do something else. I believe that sometimes what He really wants is our company…He just wants us to hang out with Him. And the feeling I experience this morning when my son opted not to come this evening Is in a very small way how God must feel When we don’t take our opportunity to just hang out with Him.

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Taking back what was His

In Luke 4:5-7, “And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” (‭ESV). That authority had been given to ‬‬Adam, but he surrendered it to Satan and the fall. Though it was delivered to him, it didn’t belong to him. It belonged to the One to whom he offered it. Jesus came to take it back and to give it back, which He fulfilled in His death, burial and resurrection.

After Peter affirmed that Jesus was “the Christ, the Son of the Living God, Jesus said it was on that rock of revelation that He would build His church and “the gates of Hades will not overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.” (Matthew‬ ‭16:18-19‬ ‭NASB‬‬).

This promise was fulfilled in Matthew 28:18-20, “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age'”.

Satan couldn’t give Jesus what was already His, and Satan can’t take back from us what Jesus has given us. So stand firm in your faith, knowing Jesus’ victory means your victory!

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Giving It Up to Follow Jesus

Adapted from today’s devo: Not doing wrong does not give you right standing with God. Right standing, or “righteousness” comes from your personal relationship with Jesus Christ. If not doing wrong was enough the rich young ruler would not have walked away sad. (Luke 18: 18-23)

Selling everything he had and giving it away to follow Jesus had nothing to do with what he had, but everything to do with what had him. Sometimes in following Jesus He will ask us to give up something. But it’s not what we give up, but what we gain in the process. In my case, when Jesus asks me to give something up it’s usually because what I’m hanging on to is harmful, or hindering my spiritual growth. He asked me to give up being a worship leader, but what I gained in return was far greater than what I lost.

My identity was in my role, not in who I was in Him. And, today I am fulfilling my true calling as a pastor, something that might not have happened had I not been willing to give up leading worship. Being a pastor does not identify me. Now my identity is not in what I do, (though I probably still struggle some with it). My identity is in Him, as I seek to become more like Him every day. And, if He asks me to give up something in the process, I want to do so to fulfill the call He has on my life. I want nothing to stand between me and my Jesus.

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You’re Not Disqualified by Your Past

Sunday at church God spoke to me that there were some in the church who sensed God had a call on their lives, but thought that their past disqualified them. I spoke a word of exhortation that their future was not determined by their past. This morning in my devotional reading John Stanko used the story of Rahab to illustrate that same point. Stanko said, “The message of Rahab is that your past sins and your present occupation cannot keep you from purpose if your heart is set on serving the Lord’s will for your life.”

Rahab was a prostitute, yet God chose her to be David’s great grandmother and, 14 generations later, a direct ancestor of Jesus.

 

No matter your past, a life surrendered to God’s will makes for a life He’ll use for His good and His glory.  Don’t let the devil steal your ministry because of  what you’ve done in the past.

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Peru Missions November 17 1st Report

We are in Lima , Peru, ready to begin a series of service on marriage. Our first service is Sunday morning at Iglesia Apostolica Emmanuel, where we will be speaking for the first time, sharing principles of communication in marriage. Then, tomorrow evening, will be speaking at Emmanuel Bible church in Zarate, celebrating their church’s anniversary with Pastors Jose and Raquel Vicente. There we will Wednesday and Thursday we will be doing a full Gods Blueprint for Marriage seminar at Comunidad de Fe (Community of Faith). Friday we will be speaking at Comunidad Christian Villa Club, sharing principals of a godly marriage. Sunday morning we are back at Comunidad de Fe for their regular Sunday service. And Sunday evening we will minister on marriage for our friends at the church where Stevenson and Soledad Chavez are pastors. We will leave there for the airport and the red eye flight home.

Thank you for your prayers as we continue this work of the Lord.

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TEN INCREDIBLE DAYS OF MINISTRY!

As the title suggests, our June missions trip was an incredible time.  Marsha and I presented material from our book, “God’s Blueprint for Marriage”, in four meetings, including a pastors conference.  It blesses us to see how our story of repentance, reconciliation and restoration touches so many lives.

Every trip to Peru is special, but this one was made extra special because we stayed with one of our adopted Peru families, Paul and Maria Diamond and their daughter, Alani. And we were accompanied by our spiritual son and grandson from home, Aaron and Andrew Hollinger, and by Diana Velasquez, one of our spiritual daughters, from Amarillo, TX,.

Andrew got his preaching feet wet with two youth conferences. Aaron ministered at a youth Conference, a business leaders’ workshop, and at Pastor Samuel Castillo’s church. Pastor Samuel was our Hispanic pastor here before returning to Peru to serve with his father.

We arrived on Thursday June 1, and went to work the next evening at a marriage conference hosted by Pastors Luis and Sofia Soldevilla.  In our first session we shared our testimony, and how Marsha and I learned to forgive ourselves when dealing with sin.  Out of that message over half of the congregation were set free from the guilt and shame of their own sins.  Saturday we spoke at another marriage conference, this one is San Juan de Lurigancho, hosted by Pastors Jans and Rachel Ramirez,  and we saw similar results.

We were at Comunidad de Fe and Emanuel Bible Church Zarate on our first Sunday.  Since that day was Pentecost Sunday, when we celebrate the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the church, I preached from Acts 1 and 2, then invited each congregation to experience the Power of Pentecost and be filled with the Holy Spirit.  Dozens responded to that invitation, filling the front of the sanctuaries.  There were many salvations at each service.

Tuesday June 6, Diana Velasquez and Marsha spoke at a women’s conference at Emanuel-Zarate.  About 100 women were in attendance, learning what it means to be brave women of God.

Wednesday we made a 2 hr 45 minute trip to meet with a house church, Christian Villa Club.  In my mind I was evaluating the trip to meet with a group of about 15.  But when one of those 15 received Jesus Christ as his Savior, I concluded, “Yes, it’s worth it!’

Thursday I preached at an Evangelical Church of Christ in San Juan de Lurigancho, where long time friend, Abraham Gueverra, is pastor.  What began as a very small turnout turned in to a nearly full house.  I had a message prepared on the blessing of giving, but the Holy Spirit prompted me to preach on Luke 15, The Lost Sheep, The Lost Coin, the Prodical Son and the Bitter Older Brother.  At the conclusion six people received Jesus, including the worship leader and drummer!

Friday evening we spoke at a parenting conference at Emanuel Bible Church San Juan de Lurigancho, to a predominately non-Christian group of moms and dads of children through ages 1-6.  We shared the importance of parents demonstrating love for each other and for the children, and an importance of growing up in a home without strife.  Following that we answered questions like,  “What do you do when your 3-year old has a temper tantrum?”, or “What’s the appropriate discipline for a 2-year old?”  Marsha’s years as a pediatric nurse in Tulsa helped her field those questions.

Satiarday evenning we spoke at a pastors conference in the Villa El Salvador district.  Marsha spoke to the women on leadership, and I spoke to the men on overcoming discouragement.  Over half of the 100 or so in attendance came forward for prayer for their discouragement.    Then,  in a joint session we both shared “Marriage is a Cross-Cultural Ministry”, from “Los Planes de Dios Para Matrimonio” (God’s Blueprint…”)

meanwlie on Saturday Diana was speaking at a women’s conference, while Aaron and Andrew  two meetings, the first for young adults on the second floor

Sunday morning I preached the 8:30 service at Catredal de Fe on “Seven Tactics of the Enemy and How to Overcome Them”, which is the subject of the next book I’m working on.  We left about 25 copies of our book, with instructions that the proceeds go toward relief for the victims of the recent flooding in Peru.  We were only about ten minutes out, en  route to our next ministry event, whe the church called requesting more copies!

Our final ministry stop was at the Evangelical Church of Christcin San Martin, one of our “home churches” in Lima, where Juan de Dios and Cristina Huaman are the pastors.  There, I preached a message of hope from Mark 4, when Jesus calmed the storm.  Following lunch with Pastor Juan and Pastora Cristina we returned to our host home, where we spent our final hours before returning home.

On my second trip (Marsha stayed home that time), God said not to count the number of salvations on our trips because it could lead to pride.  So, though I don’t know how many people received Jesus Christ as Savior on this trip, there were a bunch!  But, even if it were only one who was saved, it was worth the trip to that one!

Thank you for your prayers and support.  We are looking at November or early December for our next trip, and will keep our friends posted on our plans.

 

 

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