Sunday, December 25, 2011

Kids Christmas Program

Nico and Ellen had a Christmas program a few nights ago for the school that they attend.  It was very well done as they had the school band accompanying them.  They were both quite nervous since they had to play "Jingle Bells" on the recorder.  Below you can see a couple of short videos of part of the program.  You can also play "Waldo" by trying to find Nico and Ellen. 

Blessed Christmas!

We just want to wish everyone who reads this blog a blessed Christmas.  We thank you for reading this blog and for supporting us and the mission financially and through your prayers.  What we need more than anything are your faithful prayers of intercession for us.  We pray that God will continue to place Guatemala and the work that we are involved with in Cubulco and AMG on your heart.  "The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much" (James 5:16b).  
Christmas in Guatemala is celebrated on the 24th.  The celebration especially starts around 10 minutes before midnight at which point in town the country erupts with fireworks.  During our 11 plus years in Guatemala we have always celebrated Christmas in Cubulco.  This year we decided to stay in the city and have a time of fellowship with other missionaries.  One of the AMG missionaries lives in a residential place with a great view of the city.  They rented a covered area and around 7 missionary families (most of them work with AMG) came together for a time of fellowship and refreshments.  We stayed until around 12:30 to watch the spectacular display of fireworks erupt from all over the city.  It was truly impressive!  We have seen fireworks in Canada and in other parts, but they are pretty "lame" compared to this.  To give you a bit of an idea as to what it is like just watch the video clip of the fireworks.  It started at around 10 minutes to midnight and ended around 20 after.  Again a blessed Christmas to all and may the Lord bless each one of you richly during this time of the year when we remember how the Father blessed humanity through the giving of His precious Son.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Burn the Devil Day?

December 7th is celebrated each year here in Guatemala as the day you "burn the devil".  It is a tradition here that started many years ago although no one seems to know exactly how and why.  It seems to be a tradition peculiar to Guatemala.  Basically what people do is clean house and get rid of all the garbage that they find in the house and around the house.  They make piles of garbage which can be small consisting of plastic bags and wrappers to mattresses and tires and at 6:00pm they burn it all and with it the devil.  The belief is that the devil and evil spirits "hide" in the garbage and cause all this bad "luck" in the lives of the people.  So in order for them to be able to begin celebrating Christmas and enjoy the Christmas season they "purify" the house of the devil and evil spirits.  It probably is also related to or paves the way for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception which is celebrated the day after on December 8th in which people celebrate how Mary conceived the Christ-child being free from original sin.   With the devil "burned" or "gone" Mary can be free of sin in order to conceive.
This of course is contrary to Scripture, but it plays an important role in the religiosity of many Guatemalans.  Evangelical Christians of course do not practice this event, but the idea that the devil is responsible for a person sinning is very prevalent even in the minds of Christians not only here in Guatemala but all over the world.  So often you hear people say, "the devil made me do it".  Lia's grandmother would some times say "that poor devil always gets the blame".  Of course she did not mean it, but the point is clear.  We often try and blame the devil or something/body else for our fall into sin.  For instance, someone gets drunk and blames the alcohol or the devil.  The problem is not the devil nor the alcohol..... the problem is me. I am responsible for my actions and I must give account for them. Blaming others, Satan, or things can and will not save me. It will condemn me all the more and make obtaining salvation impossible.  Only when I understand that I am to blame for all my sin and misery (although maybe initially only in a small way) and who I am as a sinner before a holy God will I understand my need for a Savior and the importance that He take on himself the blame and punishment that is due me.  Please pray for the people of Guatemala and their many superstitions and religious customs that blind them spiritually and give them a false sense of security.  Pray that through the preaching of the Word and the working of the Holy Spirit people will be released from this spiritual bondage.

All of this reminds me of a song I came across recently by Downhere called "The Problem":

There's got to be some reason for all this misery
A secret evil corporation somewhere overseas
They're pulling strings, arranging things
It's a conspiracy

Or what about the ones who shape the course of history

What if we petitioned for one grand apology?
I'll write to my prime minister
You, write your president

Everybody's wondering how the world could get this way

If God is good, and how it could be filled with so much pain
It's not the age-old mystery we made it out to be
Yeah, there's a problem with the world
And the problem with the world is me

Some will say the devil and his legions
They put us in a headlock of submission
But they lost all power over me
A long, long time ago

And since I was a kid you know I've caused a lot of hurt

And no one ever taught me how to put myself first
It came so very naturally
But I'm not a prodigy

So I will look no further than a mirror

That's where the offender hides
So great is my need for a redeemer
That I cannot trust myself
No, I cannot trust my self
I dare not trust myself
So I trust in someone else

The sooner you can sing along

The sooner you can sing this song
The happier we'll be
The problem with the world is me

Monday, December 5, 2011

Lia's Birthday!

December 3rd was Lia's birthday.  She turned 36 although I guess you are not allowed to say a woman's age.  We did not do a whole lot with her as a family since she spent Friday and part of Saturday out in Antigua with 9 of her friends and women she attends a Bible Study with on Wednesday mornings.  They had a good time.  They also celebrated the birthday of another one of the women Rebeca. 
We (kids and I) are thankful for Lia and we hope that God gives her many more years with us on this earth.  We are grateful that she is a good mom and wife and that above all she loves the Lord.  We want to thank everyone who sent birthday wishes via Facebook or by email and for the birthday cards.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tristan is 2!

Tristan turned 2 years old on November 1.  Thankfully, I was able to be there this time since the time before I was in Peru.  His birthday fell in between my trips to Haiti and the Philippines.
We had a small party for him with just the family.  For his birthday he received a toy train that can say it's ABC's in both English and Spanish.  We also decided that it was time to cut his hair.  He no longer looks like a baby nor a girl. 
Ideas that Tristan gets from watching the 3 Stooges.
We are thankful to the Lord for our little boy.  We hope and pray that he will grow up to love and serve the Lord with all His heart.  He is an energetic boy but with a temper.  It is something we need to continue working on with him. 
We want to thank all the ladies fellowships that sent birthday card. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Quotes on Prayer

"Pray without ceasing." 1 Thessalonians 5:17

1. "You can do more than pray after you have prayed; but you can never do more than pray until you have prayed." A.J. Gordon
2. "God does nothing except in response to believing prayer." John Wesley (Famous evangelist who spent 2 hours daily in prayer)
3. "Prayer strikes the winning blow; service is simply picking up the pieces." S.D. Gordon
4. "One should never initiate anything that he cannot saturate with prayer."
5. "The greatest thing anyone can do for God or man is pray." S.D. Gordon
6. "If I fail to spend two hours in prayer each morning, the devil gets the victory through the day. I have so much business I cannot get on without spending three hours daily in prayer. Martin Luther 7. "The most important thing a born again Christian can do is to pray." Chuck Smith
8. "Prayer does not change the purpose of God. But prayer does change the action of God." Chuck Smith
9. "Men may spurn our appeals, reject our message, oppose our arguments, despise our persons, but they are helpless against our prayers." Sidlow Baxter
10. “God shapes the world by prayer. The more prayer there is in the world the better the world will be, the mightier the forces of against evil …” E.M. Bounds
11. “Prayer is where the action is." John Wesley
12. "Satan does not care how many people read about prayer if only he can keep them from praying. Paul E. Billheimer
13. "Oh brother, pray; in spite of Satan, pray; spend hours in prayer; rather neglect friends than not pray; rather fast, and lose breakfast, dinner, tea, and supper - and sleep too - than not pray. And we must not talk about prayer, we must pray in right earnest. The Lord is near. He comes softly while the virgins slumber." Andrew A. Bonar
14. "Don’t pray when you feel like it. Have an appointment with the Lord and keep it. A man is powerful on his knees." Corrie ten Boom
15. "Talking to men for God is a great thing, but talking to God for men is greater still." E.M. Bounds
16. "The men who have done the most for God in this world have been early on their knees. He who fritters away the early morning, its opportunity and freshness, in other pursuits than seeking God will make poor headway seeking Him the rest of the day. If God is not first in our thoughts and efforts in the morning, He will be in the last place the remainder of the day." E.M. Bounds
17. "God's cause is committed to men; God commits Himself to men. Praying men are the vice-regents of God; they do His work and carry out His plans." E.M. Bounds
18. "The prayer power has never been tried to its full capacity. If we want to see mighty wonders of divine power and grace wrought in the place of weakness, failure and disappointment, let us answer God's standing challenge, "Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things which thou knowest not!'" (J. Hudson Taylor)
19. "No learning can make up for the failure to pray. No earnestness, no diligence, no study, no gifts will supply its lack." E.M. Bounds
20. "The little estimate we put on prayer is evidence from the little time we give to it." E.M. Bounds
21. "It is necessary to iterate and reiterate that prayer, as a mere habit, as a performance gone through by routine or in a professional way, is a dead and rotten thing." E.M. Bounds
22. "Satan trembles when he sees the weakest Christian on his knees." William Cowper
23. "If the church wants a better pastor, it only needs to pray for the one it has."
24. "Seven days without prayer makes one weak." Allen E. Vartlett
25. "Prayer is the real work, Evangelism is just the mopping up."
26. "You may as soon find a living man that does not breath, as a living Christian that does not pray." Matthew Henry
27. "Prayer will make a man cease from sin, or sin will entice a man to cease from prayer." John Bunyon
28. "He who has learned to pray has learned the greatest secret of a holy and happy life." William Law
29. "Prayer is not overcoming God's reluctance, but laying hold of His willingness." Martin Luther.
30. "There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful than that of a continual conversation with God." Brother Lawrence
31. When asked how much time he spent in prayer, George Muller's reply was, "Hours every day. But I live in the spirit of prayer. I pray as I walk and when I lie down and when I arise. And the answers are always coming." Source Unknown.
32. “The one concern of the devil is to keep Christians from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work and prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, mocks at our wisdom, but he trembles when we pray.” Samuel Chadwick
33. “I would rather teach one man to pray than ten men to preach.” Charles Spurgeon
34. “The man who mobilizes the Christian church to pray will make the greatest contribution to world evangelization in history.” Andrew Murray
35. "If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million enemies. Yet distance makes no difference. He is praying for me.” (Robert Murray McCheyne)
36. “One day George Mueller began praying for five of his friends. After many months, one of them came to the Lord. Ten years later, two others were converted. It took 25 years before the fourth man was saved. Mueller persevered in prayer until his death for the fifth friend, and throughout those 52 years he never gave up hoping that he would accept Christ! His faith was rewarded, for soon after Mueller’s funeral the last one was saved.”
37. On persevering prayer: "I look at a stone cutter hammering away at a rock a hundred times without so much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the 101st blow it splits in two. I know it was not the one blow that did it, but all that had gone before."
38. "Eighteen-year-old Hudson Taylor wandered into his father's library and read a gospel tract. He couldn't shake off its message. Finally, falling to his knees, he accepted Christ as his Savior. Later, his mother, who had been away, returned home. When Hudson told her the good news, she said, "I already know. Ten days ago, the very date on which you tell me you read that tract, I spent the entire afternoon in prayer for you until the Lord assured me that my wayward son had been brought into the fold." Our Daily Bread, July 19, 1989. [Hudson Taylor (1832-1905) was a famous missionary in China. He was founder of the China Inland Mission which, at his death, included 205 mission stations with over 800 missionaries, and 125,000 Chinese Christians. He spent 51 years in China].
39. Spurgeon's "boilerroom." Five young college students were spending a Sunday in London, so they went to hear the famed C.H. Spurgeon preach. While waiting for the doors to open, the students were greeted by a man who asked, "Gentlemen, let me show you around. Would you like to see the heating plant of this church?" They were not particularly interested, for it was a hot day in July. But they didn't want to offend the stranger, so they consented. The young men were taken down a stairway, a door was quietly opened, and their guide whispered, "This is our heating plant." Surprised, the students saw 700 people bowed in prayer, seeking a blessing on the service that was soon to begin in the auditorium above. Softly closing the door, the gentleman then introduced himself. It was none other than Charles Spurgeon. Our Daily Bread, April 24.
40. "Prayer does not influence God. Prayer surely does influence God. It does not influence His purpose. It does influence His action." S.D. Gordon
41. Prayer "is the root, the fountain, the mother of a thousand blessings." Chrysostom
42. "Prayer is the greatest of all forces, because it honors God and brings him into active aid." E.M. Bounds
43. Prayer should not be regarded "as a duty which must be performed, but rather as a privilege to be enjoyed, a rare delight that is always revealing some new beauty." E.M. Bounds
44. "I never prayed sincerely and earnestly for anything but it came at some time; no matter at how distant a day, somehow, in some shape, probably the least I would have devised, it came." Adoniram Judson
45. "Our prayer must not be self-centered. It must arise not only because we feel our own need as a burden we must lay upon God, but also because we are so bound up in love for our fellow men that we feel their need as acutely as our own. To make intercession for men is the most powerful and practical way in which we can express our love for them." John Calvin
46. "We have to pray with our eyes on God, not on the difficulties." Oswald Chambers
47. "Faith in a prayer-hearing God will make a prayer-loving Christian." Andrew Murray
48. "The battle of prayer is against two things in the earthlies: wandering thoughts, and lack of intimacy with God's character as revealed in His word. Neither can be cured at once, but they can be cured by discipline." Oswald Chambers
49. "Prayer breaks all bars, dissolves all chains, opens all prisons, and widens all straits by which God's saints have been held." E. M. Bounds
50. "A life growing in its purity and devotion will be a more prayerful life." E. M. Bounds
51. "Four things let us ever keep in mind: God hears prayer, God heeds prayer, God answers prayer, and God delivers by prayer." E. M. Bounds
52. "Prayer is the acid test of devotion." Samuel Chadwick
53. "As is the business of tailors to make clothes and cobblers to make shoes, so it is the business of Christians to pray." Martin Luther
54. "Prayer is my chief work, and it is by means of it that I carry on the rest." Thomas Hooker, Puritan
55. "The true church lives and moves and has its being in prayer." Leonard Ravenhill
56. "We can do nothing without prayer. All things can be done by importunate prayer. That is the teaching of Jesus Christ". E. M. Bounds
57. "Prayer wonderfully clears the vision; steadies the nerves; defines duty; stiffens the purpose; sweetens and strengthens the spirit." S.D. Gordon
58. "The secret of all failure is our failure in secret prayer." The Kneeling Christian
59. "...True prayer is measured by weight, not by length. A single groan before God may have more fullness of prayer in it than a fine oration of great length." C. H. Spurgeon
60. "If you want that splendid power in prayer, you must remain in loving, living, lasting, conscious, practical, abiding union with the Lord Jesus Christ." C. H. Spurgeon
61. "Little praying is a kind of make believe, a salve for the conscience, a farce and a delusion." E. M. Bounds (Emphasis added)
62. "The word of God is the food by which prayer is nourished and made strong." E. M. Bounds
63. "If the spiritual life be healthy, under the full power of the Holy Spirit, praying without ceasing will be natural." Andrew Murray
64. "We do not pray at all until we are at our wits' end." Oswald Chambers
65. “The great people of the earth today are the people who pray! I do not mean those who talk about prayer; nor those who say they believe in prayer; nor those who explain prayer; but I mean those who actually take the time to pray. They have not time. It must be taken from something else. That something else is important, very important and pressing, but still, less important and pressing than prayer. There are people who put prayer first, and group the other items in life's schedule around and after prayer. These are the people today who are doing the most for God in winning souls, in solving problems, in awakening churches, in supplying both men and money for mission posts, in keeping fresh and strong their lives far off in sacrificial service on the foreign field, where the thickest fighting is going on, and in keeping the old earth sweet a little while longer.” S.D. Gordon (Emphasis added)
66. “Up in a little town in Maine,things were pretty dead some years ago. The churches were not accomplishing anything. There were a few Godly men in the churches, and they said: 'Here we are, only uneducated laymen; but something must be done in this town. Let us form a praying band. We will all center our prayers on one man. Who shall it be?' They picked out one of the hardest men in town, a hopeless drunkard, and centered all their prayers upon him. In a week, he was converted. They centered their prayers upon the next hardest man in town, and soon he was converted. Then they took up another and another, until within a year, two or three hundred were brought to God, and the fire spread out into all the surrounding country. Definite prayer for those in the prison house of sin is the need of the hour.” Dr. R.A. Torrey
67. “Therefore, whether the desire for prayer is on you or not, get to your closet at the set time; shut yourself in with God; wait upon Him; seek His face; realize Him; pray.” R. F. Horton
68. “Time spent alone with God is not wasted. It changes us; it changes our surroundings; and every Christian who would live the life that counts, and who would have power for service must take time to pray.” M.E. Andross
69. Make time to pray. “The great freight and passenger trains are never too busy to stop for fuel. No matter how congested the yards may be, no matter how crowded the schedules are, no matter how many things demand the attention of the trainmen, those trains always stop for fuel.” M.E. Andross
70. “There is no other activity in life so important as that of prayer. Every other activity depends upon prayer for its best efficiency.” M.E. Andross
71. “…the man on his knees has a leverage underneath the mountain which can cast it into the sea, if necessary, and can force all earth and heaven to recognize the power there is in 'His name.'” M.E. Andross
72. When prayer has become secondary, or incidental, it has lost its power. Those who are conspicuously men of prayer are those who use prayer as they use food, or air, or light, or money." M.E. Andross
73. "If the Christian does not allow prayer to drive sin out of his life, sin will drive prayer out of his life. Like light and darkness, the two cannot dwell together." M.E. Andross
74. "e must begin to believe that God, in the mystery of prayer, has entrusted us with a force that can move the Heavenly world, and can bring its power down to earth." Andrew Murray
75. "...[the] power of prayer can never be overrated. They who cannot serve God by preaching need not regret. If a man can but pray he can do anything. He who knows how to overcome with God in prayer has Heaven and earth at his disposal." Charles H. Spurgeon
76. "Prayer is a spiritual law which cooperates with the mind of God. It has more in it than merely petition. It clothes itself in reality and power, with the force of God Himself. It is an attitude of spirit and mind. Language is secondary in true prayer." Gossner.
77. “What the church needs today is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more novel methods, but men whom the Holy Ghost can use— men of prayer, men mighty in prayer" E.M. Bounds
78. "Prayer does not fit us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work." Oswald Chambers.
79. "It is not enough to begin to pray, nor to pray aright; nor is it enough to continue for a time to pray; but we must patiently, believingly, continue in prayer until we obtain an answer; George Müller
80. “Those persons who know the deep peace of God, the unfathomable peace that passeth all understanding, are always men and women of much prayer.” R. A. Torrey 81. “Prayer can never be in excess.” C. H. Spurgeon
82. “The trouble with nearly everybody who prays is that he says ‘Amen’ and runs away before God has a chance to reply. Listening to God is far more important than giving Him our ideas.” Frank Laubach
83. "Time spent in prayer will yield more than that given to work. Prayer alone gives work its worth and its success. Prayer opens the way for God Himself to do His work in us and through us. Let our chief work as God's messengers be intercession; in it we secure the presence and power of God to go with us." Andrew Murray
84.“Yes, worship of the loving God is man’s whole reason for existence.” A.W. Tozer
85. “The Bible is not an end in itself, but a means to bring men to an intimate and satisfying knowledge of God, that they may enter into Him, that they may delight in His Presence, may taste and know the inner sweetness of the very God Himself in the core and center of their hearts.” A.W. Tozer
86. "We are too busy to pray, and so we are too busy to have power. We have a great deal of activity, but we accomplish little; many services but few conversions; much machinery but few results." R. A. Torrey
87. "Prayer is not learned in a classroom but in the closet." E. M. Bounds
88. "Prayer is not monologue, but dialogue. God’s voice in response to mine is its most essential part." Andrew Murray
89. "Prayer is weakness leaning on omnipotence." W. S. Bowd
90. "Our prayers lay the track down which God’s power can come. Like a mighty locomotive, his power is irresistible, but it cannot reach us without rails." Watchman Nee
91. "Whole days and weeks have I spent prostrate on the ground in silent or vocal prayer." George Whitefield (Great Evangelist during American Revolution era, during the First Great Awakening in America)
92. "I ought to pray before seeing any one…Christ arose before day and went into a solitary place. David says: ‘Early will I seek thee’…I feel it is far better to begin with God-to see His face first, to get my soul near Him before it is near another." - Robert Murray M'Cheyne
93. "There is no power like that of prevailing prayer, of Abraham pleading for Sodom, Jacob wrestling in the stillness of the night, Moses standing in the breach, Hannah intoxicated with sorrow, David heartbroken with remorse and grief, Jesus in sweat of blood. Add to this list from the records of the church your personal observation and experience, and always there is the cost of passion unto blood. Such prayer prevails. It turns ordinary mortals into men of power. It brings power. It brings fire. It brings rain. It brings life. It brings God." Samuel Chadwick
94. "The main lesson about prayer is just this: Do it! Do it! Do it! You want to be taught to pray. My answer is pray and never faint, and then you shall never fail…" John Laidlaw
95. "A man who is intimate with God will never be intimidated by men." Leonard Ravenhill
96. "Prayer is the secret of power." Evan Roberts
97. "Since the days of Pentecost, has the whole church ever put aside every other work and waited upon Him for ten days, that the Spirit’s power might be manifested? We give too much attention to method and machinery and resources, and too little to the source of power." Hudson Taylor
98. "Where there is no vision of eternity, there is no prayer for the perishing." David Smithers
99. "Prayer is buried, and lost and Heaven weeps. If all prayed the wicked would flee from our midst or to the refuge." Evan Roberts
100. "Ministers who do not spend two hours a day in prayer are not worth a dime a dozen - degrees or no degrees." Leonard Ravenhill
101. "Prayer is reaching out after the unseen; fasting is letting go of all that is seen and temporal. Fasting helps express, deepen, confirm the resolution that we are ready to sacrifice anything, even ourselves to attain what we seek for the kingdom of God." Andrew Murray
102. "All great soul-winners have been men of much and mighty prayer, and all great revivals have been preceded and carried out by persevering, prevailing knee-work in the closet." Samuel Logan Brengle
103. "Out of a very intimate acquaintance with D. L. Moody, I wish to testify that he was a far greater prayer than he was preacher. Time and time again, he was confronted by obstacles that seemed insurmountable, but he always knew the way to overcome all difficulties. He knew the way to bring to pass anything that needed to be brought to pass. He knew and believed in the deepest depths of his soul that nothing was too hard for the Lord, and that prayer could do anything that God could do." R. A. Torrey (Emphasis added)
104. "Prayer - secret, fervent, believing prayer - lies at the root of all personal godliness." William Carey
105. The Word of God represents all the possibilities of God as at the disposal of true prayer." A. T. Pierson
106. "The essence of prayer does not consist in asking God for something but in opening our hearts to God, in speaking with Him, and living with Him in perpetual communion. Prayer is continual abandonment to God. Prayer does not mean asking God for all kinds of things we want; it is rather the desire for God Himself, the only Giver of Life, Prayer is not asking, but union with God. Prayer is not a painful effort to gain from God help in the varying needs of our lives. Prayer is the desire to possess God Himself, the Source of all life. The true spirit of prayer does not consist in asking for blessings, but in receiving Him who is the giver of all blessings, and in living a life of fellowship with Him." Sadhu Sundar Singh
107. “Closet communion needs time for the revelation of God’s presence. It is vain to say, ‘I have too much work to do to find time.’ You must find time or forfeit blessing. God knows how to save for you the time you sacredly keep for communion with Him.” A. T. Pierson (Emphasis added).
108. “Depend upon it, if you are bent on prayer, the devil will not leave you alone. He will molest you, tantalize you, block you, and will surely find some hindrances, big or little or both. And we sometimes fail because we are ignorant of his devices…I do not think he minds our praying about things if we leave it at that. What he minds, and opposes steadily, is the prayer that prays on until it is prayed through, assured of the answer.” Mary Warburton Booth
109. “I have seen many men work without praying, though I have never seen any good come out of it; but I have never seen a man pray without working.” James Hudson Taylor
110. "It is in the field of prayer that life's critical battles are lost or won. We must conquer all our circumstances there. We must first of all bring them there. We must survey them there. We must master them there. In prayer we bring our spiritual enemies into the Presence of God and we fight them there. Have you tried that? Or have you been satisfied to meet and fight your foes in the open spaces of the world?" J. H. Jowett
111. He who runs from God in the morning will scarcely find Him the rest of the day. John Bunyan
112. "Prayer is the first thing, the second thing, the third thing necessary to a minister. Pray, then my dear brother; pray, pray, pray." Edward Payson
113. "Each time, before you intercede, be quiet first, and worship God in His glory. Think of what He can do, and how He delights to hear the prayers of His redeemed people. Think of your place and privilege in Christ, and expect great things!" Andrew Murray
114. "Beware in your prayers, above everything else, of limiting God, not only by unbelief, but by fancying that you know what He can do. Expect unexpected things 'above all that we ask or think.'" Andrew Murray
115. "If we would pray aright, the first thing we should do is to see to it that we really get an audience with God, that we really get into His very presence. Before a word of petition is offered, we should have the definite consciousness that we are talking to God, and should believe that He is listening and is going to grant the thing that we ask of Him." R.A. Torrey
116. "Ten minutes spent in the presence of Christ every day, aye, two minutes, will make the whole day different." Henry Drummond
117. "Many Christians backslide...They are unable to stand against the temptations of the world, or of their old nature. They strive to do their best to fight against sin, and to serve God, but they have no strength. They have never really grasped the secret: The Lord Jesus will every day from heaven continue His work in me. But on one condition—the soul must give Him time each day to impart His love and his grace. Time alone with the Lord Jesus each day is the indispensable condition of growth and power." Andrew Murray (Emphasis added). 118. "Shut the world out, withdraw from all worldly thoughts and occupations, and shut yourself in alone with God, to pray to Him in secret. Let this be your chief object in prayer, to realize the presence of your heavenly Father." Andrew Murray
119. "There has never been a spiritual awakening in any country or locality that did not begin in united prayer." A.T. Pierson 120. "Intercession is truly universal work for the Christian. No place is closed to intercessory prayer. No continent - no nation - no organization - no city - no office. There is no power on earth that can keep intercession out." Richard Halverson


A few years ago when we left the mission field after working in Cubulco, Guatemala for almost 10 years I had a debriefing meeting with our mission board.  I was asked to reflect on my years in Cubulco and was asked several questions.  Although I could answer most of the questions that were asked at that time there was one I could not answer.  This was the question:

"If you could go back and do it all over again what is one thing that you would do differently"? 

I did not know how to answer this question not because I thought I had done everything right and that I had no regrets.  There were many things I would do differently and I would change.  However, I could not think of the one thing that would sum all these things up in one answer.  Although, I could not answer this question at the time it stayed with me for the next months and continues to stay with me even today and I hope till the day I die even though I was revealed the answer.  The answer was short and simple "PRAYER".  I believe that God showed me the answer as I wrestled with the question.  I did not spend enough time in prayer.  Often when faced with difficult circumstances or frustrations or even ordinary circumstances I would act first and then pray later instead of praying first and acting later.  I relied too much on myself and too little on God.  I relied on my "strengths" instead of relying on God to show His power by being weak.  Now for the world this sounds absurd and foolish, but the Bible is very clear on this that God often chooses to show His power when we are weak.  Prayer seems like "weakness" to the world, but it precisely through prayer where God shows His power. 
Through all of this I have learned to pray more.  Prayer as James 5:16 says "Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much".
One of the things that I first noticed about Pastor Edgar Xicara who is now the pastor of the churches in Cubulco is that he is a man of prayer.  When I first visited him in his home in Guatemala City after we he had more or less agreed on him coming down to work in Cubulco was that he dedicated himself to praying for the work in Cubulco.  One of the things he shared with me was a calendar that he was drawing up in which on each day of the week he wrote specific prayer requests for the churches of Cubulco.  When he moved to Cubulco he placed the names of each family of the church in the calendar so that each day we are praying for a specific family in the church.  I believe that this is what will bring about change in our churches and in the lives of the members of the churches.  Another thing that Pastor Xicara has been doing is that at each prayer meeting that is held on Saturday afternoon he has been writing down the prayer requests.  After about a month or so he goes over the list of prayer requests to see which ones have been answered and which ones we need to continue to pray for.  This is very important and powerful since it helps us to see the working hand of God.  
I would encourage those who read this blog to implement the above mentioned things in your life and in your churches.  I have implemented this in AMG so that each day of the week we are praying for a specific project (AMG has 28 projects).  I firmly believe that if we as churches start praying more and more for each other we will also see more harmony and unity in our churches as this calendar will force us to pray for those members in the church who we do not know that well or do not really like that much.   Also as we write down our prayer requests and review them regularly we will see how God in His own way and time is answering these requests and this will encourage us to be more constant and fervent in our prayer life.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Philippines- Part 3

 After having a tour of the ASHTEC campus we spent the rest of the day and the following days in workshops.  Everything was done very efficiently and on time.  The staff at ASHTEC took turns presenting different aspects of their work and it became clear fairly quickly that the staff was very competent and very committed to the work.  Many of them could get better paying jobs elsewhere.  Some of the staff have skills that no one else or very few others have in that province of the Philippines.  We are talking of being one of the only ones among thousands of others.  They are sought after by companies but they believe in what they are doing and therefore are committed to ASHTEC and training and educating less fortunate young people to better their lives not only materially and economically but especially spiritually.  Many of the students who were not Christians when they first started attending ASHTEC became Christians during their time their through the guiding and mentoring of the staff.  It was truly impressive and moving to see.  You can not buy loyalty and commitment by paying a higher salary (not to say that I am against paying a good salary).  In my experience in Guatemala I have seen that often paying a higher salary leads to materialism and lack of commitment to the work and the vision.  
Apart from being in workshops we also spent a fair bit of time working in small groups and discussing experiences with people from other countries.  There were people there from India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and other parts of the Philippines.  
Brian Dennett and I also had the privilege to speak at the Wednesday evening worship service where we were able to share testimonies and the Word of God with the students of ASHTEC.  It was a very special service as we were able to hear the worship of the students.  Filipinos can definitely sing.  They sand mostly in English since in the Philippines a lot of the people speak English and it is something that you see every where.  The Filipino language uses a lot of English and also Spanish so we could understand a lot of what was being said.  (The Philippines used to be a colony of Spain) 
Brian Dennett and I where never able nor did we try to adapt ourselves to local time.  We would go to sleep at around 8-9:00 every night and get up around 4:00am.  We decided that it was no use to try and adapt since we would only be in the Philippines for a week.
On Friday we returned to Guatemala.  We actually had 2 Fridays which was an interesting experience.  Our total flying time back to Guatemala was a little more than 20 hours.  We had 3 stopovers on our way back.  Once in Tokyo, then Los Angeles, and finally Houston.  Each of our flights were slightly delayed which cut down on our connection time.  Basically we got of one plane and were able to make it to the next gate as they started boarding.  We were blessed to get good seats on each of our flights.  We finally arrived quite groggy in Guatemala City at around 10:00 pm.  We were grateful to see that our luggage also made each connecting flight.  It was good to be reunited with out families at the end of such a long day(s) of travel.  It was nice to know as well that we would not have to do any more traveling for a while.  Traveling is nice, but it does get old pretty quick.  Regardless we were both grateful to God for what we had learned and experienced and we hope that we can use many of these things in AMG Guatemala.   

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Philippines- Part 2

Here is finally part 2 of my trip to the Philippines
Mr. June
Although we finally were able to settle down to go to sleep at around 2:00 am we had to be at breakfast at 7:00 since the conference started at 8:00.   After opening with a beautiful meditation by the head of AMG Skilled Hand (ASHTEC) we had a tour of the campus.  The campus is nice and houses some 400 students as well as all the staff.  Most of the staff live on campus which allows them more time with the students.  The rules of the campus are strict.  Students are not allowed to have cell phones and have limited access to the internet.  They are also not allowed to have any romantic relationships with fellow students.  They feel that dating distracts a student from their studies.  Although it sounds overly strict it seems to work and perhaps we in NA and Europe have become too relaxed when it comes to our children especially with regards to the use of the internet and cell phones.  
Brian Dennett
One of the teachers and I at the top of the 100 foot tower
The campus has several departments that teach the students (who are mostly aged 15-20) computer programming, computer repairs, appliance repairs, and also welding.  They also have a few other skills that they teach.  I want to focus on the welding part of the work since that is what makes Skilled Hands unique.  They have partnered with a Filipino company whose main focus is sending welders to the Middle East to work on oil refineries.  This company decided to build a life sized part of a refinery.  They realized that it is one thing to teach someone to weld in a shop and quite another to have someone weld several stories up.  This company provides the teachers and Skilled Hands the students.  100% of the graduating students are hired by this company and shipped overseas to work on the oil refineries.  These students end up earning good money and in that way able to support their families back home.  The only difficulty that they have run into is that many families do not know how to manage the money and even though the husband or son is earning good money they often return home to find out that their money is all gone.  Now the company and ASHTEC are working on educating families in money management.  We had the privilege to see the students and teachers in action as they were welding and also receiving safety training.  The company spends a lot of time training the students on safety and they have an excellent safety record.  We also had the privilege of climbing the 30 meter high tower with safety harnesses.  Although we found that the most dangerous part was climbing each set of ladder which was when our ropes where not attached to anything.  However, according to the foreman this is how it is done.  We made it to the top safely and also made it down.  
Looking out over the rice paddies from 30 meter tower.