Monthly Archives: January 2018

The Ninety and Nine – Carmen’s Story

Do you remember Jesus parable from Luke 15 of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son(s)? You may want to read it to refresh yourself. Then listen to this story!

Once upon a time there lived in a mountain village in Honduras a young girl named Carmen. A missionary group visited her village to minister to the children there, hosting a vacation Bible school–teaching the children songs, Bible stories, and loving on them. There were several women in this group, including Jennifer from north east Louisiana.

Jennifer noticed a young girl at the meeting and felt strongly drawn to pray for her. She went to her and asked if she had need of prayer? The girl indicated she didn’t know of anything, and Jennifer just prayed a prayer of blessing over her, but was perplexed by the strong unction to pray and the strong draw to the girl. Later after reflecting on it, she felt the Lord impressed her the prayer was for some future need. She had a strong impression,  “Something that hasn’t happened yet.”

Jennifer & Carmen

Three more ladies in the group told Jennifer, one by one, they were drawn to the same girl, Carmen, and one even said,”To pray for something that hasn’t happened yet.”

I’m going to leave out some other amazing detail and coincidences for brevity and tell you that Jennifer went back home to Louisiana and prayed for this young lady Carmen  by name for the next eighteen months.

As a single mom, raising two children, and working, it would take a miracle for Jennifer to be able to go back to that village and find Carmen, and see what had happened to her. But she had a burning desire to do just that.

Carmen’s Son . A Prophecy. A Destiney

Somehow!? At the last minute Jennifer became a part of our team. She came with us not knowing if she’d be given the opportunity to go to Carmen’s village, or if Carmen would still be there?

As it turned out she made her desire known to the team, and we split up one day so that half of the team went there to minister, so Jennifer could find Carmen, or at least know what had become of her. I was on that half of the team and saw the amazing outcome.

After it appeared that all the children in the village, about thirty or so, had shown up for some songs and interactive worship, along with about eight women and five men — there was no Carmen.

Loving Honduran Children

My good friend, Brother Dr. Jay we call him as he’s a veterinarian, moved over and said to me, “Let’s pray Carmen comes! This is so important to Jennifer.” So we did, right then and there, as our twenty-something, worship-team leaders started worshiping and we looked out on the beautiful, mountainous jungle that had an alpine feel to it due to our high elevation.

About five to seven minutes later, you guessed it, Carmen, a very attractive young woman with her two young sons, came walking up the road to the meeting!:-)

There was an excited embrace by Jennifer and a few quick words and greetings that we observed from a distance. Then all took their seats as the service had begun. There followed excellent, beautiful, peaceful worship led by our own Hannah with Giovanni and Marilyn, her musically-gifted, Honduran counterparts.  Then there was kid’s ministry, and a word from the matriarch and spiritual leader of the village, and the meeting was finished.

Folks were mingling and filing out, slowly drifting away to their homes or daily pursuits. Time didn’t matter. We were basking in the scenery, and the tangible, felt presence of God during the service. It was so beautiful and peaceful.

Carmen and Jennifer immediately joined each other at the front of the church. Carmen would learn from Jennifer about all the ladies praying for her. And about Jennifer praying for her by name for eighteen months.

Carmen’s Village

Jennifer would learn from Carmen that she had been hospitalized in Olanchito for abdominal bleeding and had been very ill, “Something that hasn’t happened yet,” at the time of the offered prayers.

Also during that hospital stay, some believers had visited Carmen, prayed for her healing, and asked her if she wanted to receive Christ as Savior? At that time, she felt she wanted to do so, but didn’t.

A Prayer Answered and A Prayer Offered :):)

Jennifer asked her, “Well do you want to do so right now?” ”Yes,” she said with a smile, hearing of God’s love and caring for her and His sending so many. 🙂 So she did just that with Jennifer and Giovanni assisting and witnessing her prayer for salvation.

There’s more!? But for heaven sakes, that’s enough! A person would have to be blind, deaf, or both not to see the incredible lengths the Lord went to, to find this lost one He cherished, and bring her safely into His fold.:-)

His name be magnified! May Carmen and her family be blessed of the Lord. And may the Lord continue to pour out his Spirit and help the village of Capucales Honduras.  Amen

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“What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?” (Luke 15:4)

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,” (Matthew 28:19)

Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart,” (Luke 18:1)

First Mission – Honduras

En Route Above the Clouds Over Houston

From January 10th to January 16th as part of a nine person mission team, I visited Olanchito Honduras.

The team was mostly from different churches in North Louisiana with one tag-along from Northwest Arkansas, me. This was my fourth Honduras mission trip with this team, and the first time to meet three of it’s members.

We all bonded wonderfully, and were led by the Spirit seemingly in every endeavor. Early in the week, and certainly by weeks end, we had become the best of friends! 🙂 All of us felt a sense of awe at what God had done through us and around us.

Descending into Miami International Airport on my way home, it seems so surreal already. And I’m peacefully full of joy about all we did and experienced. So much so, I’m happy to try to write about it, or not write at all? It is more than I could put into words anyway! We all felt that way as we shared our thoughts at an after-dinner debrief in Tela last night.

And what would a web audience, some probably known to me, and some unknown, like to hear about? Ah, these are more like questions for the Spirit of God, Who led us wonderfully throughout the week. So I’ll rely on Him to bring things to mind and tell parts of the story.

In A Prison

“The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” John 3:8

I’m against long blogs, so this may require several short ones. Some possibilities include: A Women Named Carmen, Hannah & Whit —Dynamic Duo, Honduran Pastor’s Exorcism Story, Daniel of Olanchito — Deliverance and Restoration, La Balsa Revisited, Tim — A Birthday to Remember, Prison Encounter, TV in the Park, Theology 101 — Pink & Tozer, Those Who Stay with the Luggage, A Proclaimer Indeed, Tegucigalpa — Laura & Divina. We’ll see how the Spirit leads?

In a Park

In the Mountains

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A summary might read like this.

[1] We prepared materials and held a two day pastor’s conference for fifty-one people, mostly pastors and wives, who came out of the mountain villages to receive encouragement, training, and fellowship with each other around the Bible.

[2] We ministered in a Honduran prison for two hours with music, a spiritual invitation, and prayer for inmates who responded. We encouraged the prison fellowship leaders who seemed nonexistent three years ago. Lastly, we distributed some books, food, tooth paste and tooth brushes to inmates who seemed very appreciative.

[3] We attended a Thursday night meeting in a local church with a “Celebrate Recovery”  ministry where Kevin taught and Gary shared.

[4] We attended a Sunday night meeting at the same church with about fifty people where we saw deliverances and healing as the Spirit moved in response to our prayers and His purposes. Jennifer shared a powerful testimony of the healing, salvation, and the seeking out of one young Honduran woman that only the Spirit of God could have orchestrated. Then Tim shared a powerful testimony from his own recent life about forgiveness in a rapid-fire fashion that left Laura, his translator, gasping for air! 🙂

As We Arrived

Our Peaceful Mission House and Base of Operation

That’s the long of it! And perhaps the short of it? 🙂 But a few more short stories will follow. 🙂

Stay tuned! 🙂  Adiós, amigos

 

[Click here for a short video]

[Click here for photos of the mission….]

First Fight

Saturday night just before midnight twenty something men stood around a fire, bundled up as the wind chill temperature was hovering near the teens, to kick off a twelve week plan to spend more time seeking God, communicating with and encouraging each other, break old habits, gain some new ones, commit to exercise and physical discipline to better their health, and to read a book together over that period, discussing it to challenge themselves intellectually and spiritually. It’s a men’s ministry program called “Fight Club.”

I participated in it last year, and the leaders asked me to be their kick off speaker, to encourage the men and exhort them in their quest this year.

Saturday was Epiphany, and I thought that appropriate and predictive of their success. Epiphany means an “ah ha” moment or a divine revelation. The later is the true meaning of the word as it’s been used from antiquity. Epiphany is celebrated the world over in Christendom as “Three King’s Day,” or the first revelation to gentiles that the Christ Child was indeed the Messiah, King of Kings, and the Son of God. And I believe these men, if they can by the Lord’s help, stay their courses are in for revelations and some “ah ha” moments themselves.

That we are in a fight with sin, our flesh, and dark spirits becomes clearer and clearer as we mature. Or when you look at human history as recorded in human literature. Or you can simply look into the best selling book of all times to read about the battle, the causes, and the cure.

I know I look forward to the new year more and more as they pass. I appreciate a time that seems naturally given to reflecting on life, making needed adjustments, then going again at life and living. The longer you live, you understand more and more, you need forgiveness, and you need help. In short, you need a Savior. And you need a Helper. A spiritual boost from a Counselor and Guide beyond the natural.

Thankfully we have both available to us, and we have the process and path outlined in Scripture, the same best selling book of all times I alluded to earlier. Seek Him, as the Three Kings did, and you’ll find Him for yourself, just as they did. It’s His promise.

The Lord’s blessings and nearness be on the men engaged in Fight Club.

Best wishes to you and those you love for a happy and prosperous New Year!

 

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jer 29:13

“When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.” Matt  2:10

“And I looked, and arose and said to the nobles, to the leaders, and to the rest of the people, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, great and awesome, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses.” Neh 4:14

Let This Year Be New

Greetings! It’s the first of the year, and while journaling by the fire yesterday, I felt the Lord impress me to get back to writing, and speaking, and communicating, anything He puts in my heart to share. Whether it’s writing letters to brothers in prison, attending prayer meetings and Bible studies, sharing testimonies from my life or sharing what the Spirit is showing me from Scriptures while on mission trips, or just hanging out with family and friends? Last year, and certainly the last half of last year, I took a break from sharing much publicly and rested in His presence with His leading.

The first day of the new year is here.Thank God for new beginnings! And thank Him for new years. These cause us to stop and ponder our lives. How fast they are going? Their meaning? At the very least we pause and focus, if not for circumstantial assessment — whether good or bad at the moment, then on the brevity of our lives. We’re thankful that we still have “time to choose,” but feeling simultaneously that we have “no time to lose.” 🙂 To live well and steward our days and years whether they be few or somewhere near the seventy the Bible says God has planned generally for man.

If all goes to plan, I want to share some thoughts about “firsts” that have come to me recently, and that you may find interesting as well, insights worth thinking about.

What is the greatest commandment? Or said another way, what is the first among commandments? Of course, if you’ve had much Bible training or education, your mind would run to the time a pharisee asked Jesus the same question. The occasion, question, and Jesus’ answer are recorded in three of the Gospels.

Nine out of ten people would say He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength,” and “The second is like unto it, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” “for on these two hang all the laws and all the commandments.” Profound. Powerful. Weighty words, from the greatest human Who ever lived, Who also had insight and connection to the Divine. The lawyers nodded and were silenced. The crowd too.

But Mark records that the very first words from Jesus’ mouth were, “Hear of Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One!” I wonder why the others didn’t record that as well? Could it be that is was so familiar to them and their Jewish audience that if just part of it was quoted, they would all say and know the rest in their minds?

Indeed, since 1500 years before His day and 2000 years since, faithful Jews around the planet have recited it in their prayers, written it on their door posts, taught it to their children, and worn little scrolls containing it on their wrists and foreheads. It’s called the Shama and is recorded in it’s entirety in Deuteronomy 6:4. “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

Whatever the reason I think it important to note He said it and it was the first thing from His lips. So the most important or first command may be to “Hear” or “Listen” as the Hebrew word is most often translated. And to “consider it true that the Lord is One.” It’s something to ponder, and to ponder the ramifications of what Jesus said first.