Europe Trip 2017

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While I had hoped to post a few blogs while in Europe over the past two weeks, I should have known better. There was scarcely a break from the time we left on Monday, October 30th to our return late Monday night.

Having said that, I intend to do a brief post of each part of our trip, over the next few weeks, which included visits to a few of our missionaries, in Austria and Croatia as well as a quick trip to Edinburgh to visit Derek Prime, a dear saint who has had played a significant role in my ministry; Thomas Breimaier, my church history professor; as well as an unexpected visit with a German pastor, Matthias Lohmann, in Munich, Germany. I love the excitement of divine appointments which only the Lord could orchestrate.

This trip marked my 6th trek to Europe in almost as many years. My first venture in the Spring of 2012 was with a brother from our church to scout out the land so to speak. I will never forget that trip, as we watched the Lord  open the doors for some wonderful ministry opportunities. It is hard for me to believe he has given me such a privilege to minister in Europe. I never dreamed such a ministry would be possible. At times I feel so ill-equipped and ever so thankful. Each trip brings with it unique characteristics and this trip was without exception.

And after some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us return and visit the brothers in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.” – Acts 15:36 (ESV)

I have been greatly blessed on three of those trips to have had my wife Jenny accompany me. Every time I have visited without her I have been gently reminded that I should have brought her and must not let leave her behind again.

On one particular evening, at our last stop, I was sitting in a meeting with the elders of The Chapel, Salzburg. As I listened to my Austrian brothers I was overwhelmed by the goodness of the Lord to have allowed me to be a part of these young pastor’s lives. It is easy to forget how important our visits are until we are there and the people begin to express their gratitude for the relationship they have with our church. In many respects they consider The Chapel Church as their home church even though we did not initially send them out. It is a humbling to be introduced to their congregation as “their pastor.” I cannot thank the members of The Chapel Church enough for their love and support to have allowed us to visit these precious saints over the years.

One of the things that made this trip unique and distinct from all others was the addition of Clift and Gabby Barnes. Clift is the Senior Pastor of Horizon Christian Fellowship in El Paso, Texas. I have known Clift and Gabby for over 21 years. I first met Clift when we were both youth pastors at churches in our respective states. He, along with his church, graciously hosted our team of 19 people in the summer of 1996 when traveling to do missions work in a small town of Bachiniva (Chihuahua) Mexico. He has been instrumental in all the Lord has been doing in Mexico from that time to the present day. I have often remarked that he must regret the day he said “yes” as he has spent countless hours hosting teams, not to mention other missionaries of our church who have been serving in Mexico.

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Clift & Gabby at Pike Place Market

Clift and Gabby came a couple of days early, on Saturday. It was their first visit to Seattle so had to take them to Pike Place Market for some clam chowder and fish throwing. Earlier that day we were greatly encouraged by the word through a message Clift taught from 2 Peter on “The Sure Word of God.”

 

Over the years the Lord has had Clift and me on separate yet parallel journeys in our churches as it relates to some organizational changes we have felt led to make, both seeking to be the healthiest church possible. Clift planted his church just a few years after we planted ours in 2001 and the similarities of our journey have been uncanny and to say the least a wonderful confirmation of God’s heart for his church and an encouragement that we’re not alone in where the Lord had been leading us.

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Gabby, Jenny & Clift at Munich Airport

This is the kind of trip when being with another couple for 14 days straight, in such close settings, will either make or break a relationship. I had little doubt that it would go well, and this proved to be true. Clift an Gabby were real troopers and a tremendous blessing to have along. They are humble servants whom the Lord used greatly, though they would be the last to say such a thing. On our return home they expressed that the favorite part of the trip was meeting the people. They hope to return one day.

 

Up next, our first stop…The Lindsay Family and City Chapel in Klagenfurt, Austria…

Musings & Miscellany

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I got a real kick when I read this text which a dear friend of ours sent to Jenny. In it she was saying what she decided to do to celebrate “Reformation Day” and share it with the trick or treaters who came to her door. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

“This yummy candy bar you have is actually not to celebrate Halloween but to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation! In the old days, when we went to church, the teacher would tell you what the Bible said but on this day, five hundred years ago, the people decided  ‘Hey we want to read the Bible on our own and in our own language please!” and in doing that they learned that the way to Heaven was not to do good things and try to be good  (which is what the teachers were telling them) but in belief and faith that Jesus died for all the bad things that they had done in their life! So cheers! And enjoy this yummy candy bar in celebration of us being able to have the Bible in our own language and study on our very own!”

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“I’ve often reminded people that heaven is not only a destination, it’s a motivation. When you and I are truly motivated by the promise of eternity with God in heaven, it makes a difference in our lives.” Warren Wiersbe, On Earth as it is in Heaven

Perhaps you have heard the saying, “he is so heavenly minded that he is no earthly good.” How can that be? Aren’t we supposed to be heavenly minded? Aren’t many of the problems we experience on this earth a result of putting our faith in the temporal things which consistently let us down? Being heavenly minded, eternally focused, will bring about a sense of purpose which we will not have otherwise.

VERSE FOR THE WEEK

Philippians 4:11-13 (ESV) – Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

I couldn’t help but think of this verse as I was reading the article “When Rejoicing with Others is Hard.” What a wonderful verse this is, especially when you find yourself in seasons of “discontentment.” The key to this verse is in the “learning.” Contentment doesn’t come naturally, it is a lesson learned through the supernatural strength of Jesus Christ.

SOMETHING GREATER THAN US

“I am not her Savior. I have crossed oceans for her; he crossed galaxies. I will sign a covenant with her in ink; he signed his in blood. I would die for her; he has died for her. I desire to love her perfectly; he has done so and always will.”

This will no doubt be one of the most beautiful things you have read about a man’s heart for his bride on their wedding day, and God’s heart for the church, his heart for his bride.

WHEN REJOICING WITH OTHERS IS HARD

“Sometimes joy for another is hard, especially when the blessing in his or her life reminds us of a blessing missing in our own. When God provides for our brother in Christ, answers his prayer, or blesses him in some way, our first response isn’t always to rejoice.”

Though it is hard to admit the times I have been envious of others, I find a peace in what is at the heart my envy. The writer of this article states, “At the heart of envy is seeking contentment outside of Jesus.” How is it that this brings peace? The conviction of the ugliness of my heart, by the Holy Spirit, draws me to Jesus, the only place where true contentment is found.

6 TIPS FOR READING THE BIBLE WITH YOUR KIDS

“Two questions I’ve tried to keep asking my kids are: “What does this teach us about God?” and “What does this teach us about salvation?”

Though I have not read this book, “Exploring the Bible: A Bible Reading Plan for Kids,” I would highly recommend it. For two reasons” 1) I trust Crossway Publications, and 2) I failed in this area with my own children and don’t want to see any parent make the same mistake.

While I was great at creating those “happy childhood memories,” how much better it would have been if those memories had been grounded in the Bible. As I think back on my years of parenting, no adventure I could have made up, and I created some doozies, could have matched the adventures of God’s word.

 

Musings & Miscellany

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“Bye, By Birdie” at the Riviera Hotel, Las Vegas, 1963 (from left to right: Me, George (some lady who thought she should be in the picture, our father José, and our stepmother Marlene)

Life has seemed, or always seems, a bit of a whirlwind of late. Been trying to post this Musings since being back from visiting my mother in Colorado. I always love visiting Colorado for a number of reason, obviously surrounding my family. Apart from my mother, the one I have had the blessing of enjoying the longest is my brother George. He turned 70 years old this year. As I watched him, I realized, yet again, how very fast time passes and how we must make the best of it. In many respects, I feel very young, until I look in the mirror.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“We are better to be without God’s laws than the Pope…I defy the Pope and all his laws.  If God spare my life ere many years, I will cause the boy who drives the plow to know more of the Scriptures than you.” William Tyndale

October 6th marked the anniversary of William Tyndale’s martyrdom. Tyndale was a confident, bold, and fearless theologian and scholar who translated the Bible into an early form of Modern English, likely with Luther’s help in Wittenberg. It is so easy to take for granted the men and women who gave their lives for the preservation of God’s word.

If you want to learn more about this amazing man, you can check out out a blog post Jenny wrote on Tyndale. It is really good.

VERSE FOR THE WEEK

Isaiah 26:3–4 (ESV) — You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.

I am appreciating the value of reading and meditating on God’s word more than ever. At the same time I am greatly convicted of how little of it I do. I want to read more and yet I find so much busyness in my life that I fall short. I am determined to not let it be so. There are such wonderful things that come about, when we read and meditate on the Word of God, it keeps our minds “stayed on him,” and when our minds are fixed on the Lord, we find great peace.

THE ALTAR OF AGE

“A warmer breeze fans the sailor’s face as he nears the shore of immortality; fewer waves ruffle his sea; quiet reigns, deep, still and solemn. From the altar of age the flashes of the fire of youth are gone, but the deepening flame of sincere feeling remains.”

I wish I would have considered the brevity of life while I was younger. I might have spent it differently, rearranged my priorities, and took more time to consider the things that really matter. It is never too late to start doing that.

THE OLE’ BALL AND CHAIN

“Is there any way in which she (wife) holds me back? Only in the sense in which that’s what marriage is about, tying yourself to someone saying, ‘I’m going to live in a way that serves you, I’m going to live in a way that honors you, I’m going to let go of some of my preferences, I’m not going to make some of the choices I would rather make, because I love you.”

As you know, Tim Challies is featured in my Musings and Miscellany (formerly Monday Musings & Miscellany 🙂 I subscribe to his blog and recently through this video found out that he is no longer able to type due to a medical condition in his wrists. So, rather than slip into a funk, he posted a video which I really enjoyed watching, and was both challenged and encouraged.

Challies speaks of an encounter he had with a salesperson at the camera store where he purchased some equipment to make these videos and when interrupted by a call from his wife, the salesperson made a comment in reference to his “wife calling” referring to her as “The Ole Ball and Chain.” I absolutely love what Challies has to say and wholeheartedly agree. I was so encouraged by what he said and thankful for Jenny. I realize that some may not see their spouse in this way, to which I would suggest taking some time for some personal reflection to see what you might be doing to cause her to be any less than a support and an encouragement to you. I know that when I begin to think of Jenny being an obstacle to anything I do, it is generally because I have a wrong sense of the reason God created marriage in the first place. The sooner I repent, the sooner I get to that good place of appreciating her for the gift she is.