Ecuador update 2013

This year’s trip has been a blast. We have been working a lot. We have been on the road a lot.

We spent our first few days touring the country. We were in awe of the beautiful snow-covered Mount Cotopaxi. We spent 3 hours on the side of the road due to our bus breaking down. We spent some time in the capitol city Quito.

Then we spent Sunday worshiping with La Victoria Baptist Church in Ambato, Ecuador. I had the blessed opportunity to preach there. We spent some time bonding with the other group who is here from Grandview Baptist Church in Texas.

We woke up Sunday morning to the loudest thing that I have ever experienced. Mount Tunghurua which is an active volcano erupted. It was wild. We saw smoke bellowing. We saw hot burning lava on the mountain. It is one of the neatest things I have ever experienced.

 

Then Monday came and we have been busy working all day ever since. We worked each morning in the Quechua Indigenous community of Apatug. This was a special time serving the church there because this is where we were last year too. It is so high and so cold there, but we were so happy to serve the believers there. We spent 3 days cleaning up their property and doing some minor construction work. It was foggy, rainy, and cold, but we enjoyed working hard together.

We did that each morning until lunch time. Then we traveled each day back into Ambato to work with La Victoria. We did VBS there. It was the first time ever that this church has had a VBS done at their church. WOW! What a blessing it was to do this. Both of our groups worked so well together. We had about 150 kids today, the final day. It was awesome!

April and Ashley worked with kids in the craft station. Imagine trying to lead a craft with about 50 kids in the group and they do not speak English. We are proud of April and Ashley for the great work they did. Drew and Luke H. worked with the games. They had so much fun running around with all those kids. They were perfect for it. Jon and Luke and myself worked with the Bible story. I taught with a translator while Jon and Luke and others acted out the story. God really used our entire group this week.

We ended the VBS today by inviting all of the parents inside the church, and then I shared the gospel to them and explained to the adults what we have been teaching the children all week. That being, that Jesus died to bring us to God.

Now we are all finished. We are exhausted. It has been incredible! I am already looking forward to next year. I hope that many of you will consider to go with us.

Tomorrow we will sight-see a little bit, and then worship in the evening with the church in Apatug. Then we are coming home Friday night.

I thank God for a church who is committed to the Great Commission. And I thank God that I have had this great opportunity to go again.

5 steps to falling into sin

In preparation for this past week’s sermon from Luke 22 and Peter’s denying of Jesus, I was reading from J.C. Ryle’s “Expository Thoughts on the Gospels.” Here is a treasure I found. 5 steps to falling into sin.

Ryle warns us to watch out and learn from these 5 steps we see in Peter’s life.

Ryle begins with “The story of Peter’s fall teaches us, firstly, how small and gradual are the steps by which men may go down into great sins.” 

  1. The first step is proud self-confidence.
  2. The second step was indolent neglect of prayer
  3. The third step was vacillating indecision.
  4. The fourth step was mingling with bad company.
  5. The fifth and last step was the natural consequence of the preceding four.

Ryle concludes:

Let us beware of the beginnings of backsliding, however small. We never know what we may come to, if we once leave the king’s high-way. The professing Christian who begins to say of any sin or evil habit, “it is but a little one,” is in imminent danger.

 

“But I still have my sins.”

One of my goals in being a father is to instill confidence in my children. I heard a successful man once say “My parents built so much confidence in me that I thought I could do anything.”

Isn’t it such a blessing to think of parents doing everything they can to put their children in position to be as successful as possible? Isn’t it kind of a given that parents want what is best for their children?

Well in many ways I am still learning and growing on how to do this most effectively, but one thing I am focused on is complimenting them and praising them. I want my children to know that I am watching. I want my children to feel that I care about what they are doing. I want my children to experience me celebrating their accomplishments with them. So in big things and small things, I let them know when I am proud of them.

When JJ catches the ball with his hands. When Eli writes his name well. When Noah stays in bed without getting up. Or when JJ rides his bike well. Or when Eli learns to jump off something. Or when Noah climbs up the slide. All of these things are to be celebrated. And our children gain confidence and courage when they know we are proud of them. Some of the biggest smiles and “cheeses” I have ever seen as a parent, have been when I have jumped up cheering because I am so proud of their growth and success.

Well, a while back, Eli and I were walking together. And I was telling him how proud I was of him. I had a list of things. He is doing great. His running and throwing and climbing and jumping are all improving. (Eli is only 3 yet he is as big as his 5 year old brother. So he often feels bad about not being as agile as JJ. ) Not only those things, but I was also praising Eli for how obedient he had been lately. He is indeed growing up and minding me and Valeria better. And we have recognized that. So as we were walking, I took the time and was intentional about telling him how proud I am of him. He turned and looked up at me and smiled that awesome-Eli-grin like only Eli can do. As if to say, it means the whole world to me to know you are proud of me. We kept walking.

Then about 20 seconds later, Eli said something that stopped me. He said, “yeah Daddy, but I still have my sins.”

My whole mind raced as I bounced through many thoughts, both good and bad: Bible Answer: “yes you do son, we all sin.” Prideful -Ignorant-Parent Answer: “No, you don’t son. You’re an angel.” Pointless-Unhealthy Answer: “Don’t say that son! Its alright. Don’t worry about  it.” Reality-Check-I-want-to-be-a-good-godly-parent-answer: “uhh, well.”

Then as I gathered myself and was ready to handle this memorable-parenting-moment, I realized that Eli is right on target. I was reminded of 1 John 1:8 “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves.” And John 8:7 “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” And Psalm 130:3 “If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?” There is that balance to life. Eli is doing a lot of things well. But he also has some things he needs to improve on. And regardless of how good you get at many things, you best not neglect your sins.

So here is how I responded to Eli: “You’re right Eli. You do still have your sins. But remember, we will never be finished sinning. And that is why we need Jesus. Remember, why did He die?”

 Eli replied: “He died for my sins.”

I continued: “Thats right! We do still have our sins. But we trust in Jesus. He died for our sins. And He forgives us of our sins when we believe in Him. But remember, I am still proud of you. You are doing well in many areas.”

Eli smiled again and shook his head in agreement.

And while I am working hard to encourage, build up, and instill confidence in my children. They are doing well at teaching me the basic truths of life. “But I still have my sins.”

 

“where the good way is”

“Life is so hard” is a phrase that I have heard a lot lately.

And I agree. It is. 

It is so hard to be a teenager in the world today with all the peer pressures. More than ever before, there are so many unhappy teenagers.

It is so hard to be a college student in the world today with all of the major decisions to make about what your future will look like. It is overwhelming.

It is so hard to be a young adult in the world today with the high cost of living. Generally speaking, two working adults with a car payments and a house payment will really struggle to make ends meet. Financial issues may be the worst troubles of all.

It is so hard to be a parent in the world today with all the busy-ness we live with. And with all the fears and distractions.

For many people, it often seems like there is “no looking up.” Like there is no hope. Like we cannot actually succeed, do well, make a difference, or be effective. And if there really is some reason to be optimistic, then what is it?

Hear these old words from God as He was speaking to his wayward, struggling people in the book of Jeremiah:

“Thus says the LORD: ‘Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.'” -Jeremiah 6:16

There is a way to live life right. There is a path that leads us in the right direction. There is light at the end of the tunnel. There is a reason to be hopeful. There is optimism. There are better days ahead. There is joy in the future. There is rest for our souls.

Let us take time to LOOK and see where our lives are not right. And lets see God’s ways and walk in it.

God’s way is where the good way is!

The very last part of that verse above was intentionally left out. It says “But they said, ‘we will not walk in it.'” (Jer. 6:16)

Oh the arrogance and ignorance to look and see the right thing to do, and yet still not do it.

“Farther along” lyrics

Recently I was introduced to a new song that has really blessed me.

Josh Garrels is the musician. He is new to me. You may want to check out his stuff. He gives away his music all the time. Check out his website to download some of his albums for free.

I have not listened to much other than this one song, but it has really stuck to me.

It is a re-make of the old hymn Farther Along. He uses the same chorus but has written his own lyrics.

You can listen to the whole song here.

Here is an excerpt from the song:

“Still I get hard pressed on every side
Between the rock and a compromise
Like the truth and pack of lies fightin’ for my soul
And I’ve got no place left go
Cause I got changed by what I’ve been shown
More glory than the world has known
Keeps me ramblin’ on

Skipping like a calf loosed from its stall
I’m free to love once and for all
And even when I fall I’ll get back up
For the joy that overflows my cup
Heaven filled me with more than enough
Broke down my levee and my bluff
Let the flood wash me

And one day when the sky rolls back on us
Some rejoice and the others fuss
Cause every knee must bow and tongue confess
That the son of god is forever blessed
His is the kingdom, we’re the guests
So put your voice up to the test
Sing Lord, come soon”

4 Things I Love about Working with F.C.A.

4 Things I love about working with FCA

Nearly 10 years ago a close friend introduced me to the fine people who work with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes in the Kentuckiana area. When we met then, I did not know how much God would bless me through their ministry and their devotion and commitment to Christ. Here are 4 things that I love about working with FCA:

  1. Needed Relationships. I want to be a person who is making a positive difference in the lives of young people. Our schools today are full of students who are in need of friends and mentors. Our city is full of churches of people who want to do that. But there is a disconnect. It is not all that easy to make these relationships happen. We want to, but it is a challenge. FCA creates a situation to make these relationships happen. Last fall, I was able to spend hours with a group of soccer players who do not know Jesus. I bought them meals. Gave them rides. And we talked a lot about many things – high school soccer, food in other countries, and also Jesus’ death on the cross. There are so many players & coaches around the city that I now consider dear friends. Were it not for FCA, those relationships would have never happened. “I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.” (1 Cor. 9:22-23)
  2. Challenge Accepted. Coaches, teachers, counselors, administrators everywhere are continually challenging their students to step it up and be leaders. So many young people today have a desire or passion to lead, but they are held back by some fear or nervousness. FCA is specifically intentional about cultivating good leadership in Christian student-athletes. This point is very convicting and encouraging. I have seen numerous students go from being quiet and tentative to out-spoken and confident. Not only in what they believe but also in their work ethic on the field or court. Look around the broad sports landscape today and you will see that many of the well-known leaders are believers in Jesus. They have accepted the challenge. I am thankful for FCA focusing on this aspect of life, competition and faith.
  3. Do all things with excellence. FCA wants everything to be done well. And that is fitting. God has told us “Whatever you do, do all things for the glory of God.” (1 Cor. 10:31) and “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.” (1 Cor. 9:24) Winning is not everything, but it is certainly a goal and priority. You play to win the game. I am thankful that FCA does not shy away from this message. There are too many people today who seem to think that your athletic performance does not matter as long as you’re “focused on God.” However, God would say otherwise. When one is playing sports, they ought to do it all for God’s glory and to the best of their God-given ability.
  4. Changed Lives. I love working with FCA because God is saving people through their work. I know of so many student athletes who have been literally changed by God because of the work being done by FCA. There are UofL athletes who have come to me hungry to know God and His word. There are middle schoolers who are finding their purpose and identity through FCA. And there are high schoolers passionate to give themselves to the work of God. It is incredible to see a student-athlete who is wandering through life lacking motivation who finds Christ. Once they come to know Jesus, their approach to all things changes. This is happening all around us. The basketball player at University of Louisville; the cyclist at P.R.P. High School; the track star at Fairdale High; or the soccer player at Manual High; just to name a few. And what is so great is that so many of us can list off many, many more students who are finding the meaning of life through FCA. I am thrilled to be involved in this great work. “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Cor. 6:11) “But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Cor. 15:57)

What we believe about the Bible

For the past 3 Sunday evenings, we have been blessed and encouraged to have one of our church members teach us about the Bible.

Josh Wamble has been a part of First Baptist Fairdale for 8 years. He is a gifted teacher in our church. 

The title of his 3-part series was “What we believe about the Bible.”

You can listen to each of them here.

Part 1 – The Authority of the Bible

Part 2 – The Clarity, Necessity, and Sufficiency of the Bible

Part 3 – How we got the Bible we have

 

The Bible truly is God’s Word! May you be blessed and strengthened in your faith as you listen to these 3 messages.

Lullaby for my daughter

When our first son, Joshua Jr., was born on January 2, 2008, I wrote him a lullaby. I was overcome with God’s goodness to me. I couldn’t then and I cannot now believe that I am father and daddy. I most certainly do not deserve all the blessing in my life. God is good to me. I have memorized that lullaby, and I sing it now to all of our children. I had thought that I would be able to write each of them a lullaby, but I have just adapted this one to fit each of them. It is pretty much the same lullaby, but I did have to change more this time since she is a girl. Either way, it expresses my heart in life and in fatherhood.

You can read the lullaby here.