Passover 2024

Sundown today marks the beginning of Passover. Passover marks the deliverance from slavery to freedom by the death of a firstborn and the death of an innocent lamb. It’s also an act of judgment and mercy born in the heart of the gracious, loving, and just Most High God. Amen.

Sin and death seem linked, as do innocent blood and forgiveness — forever.

On Earth at the moment, the scope of anti-Semitism and humanistic rebellion against this magnificent God is noteworthy. Similar situations have had their moments in history but have not swelled to the proportions seen in the past century and at this moment. Nor has it been seen to this extent in people professing faith in God. What does this portend for us as human beings? A time for war?!

Angels, demons, and the people they influence worldwide are players in this cosmic and cataclysmic scenario. The most important part and factor is the judgment of the Almighty—how and when He will choose to act, but act He will, out of justice and love.

There will be deliverance and protection for his own, those who fear him and draw near in fidelity and obedience. And there will be judgment on the evil and the unjust — a removal of cancer, if you will, for the nations and His creation. Selah.

Happy Passover 2024, as you remember the gracious, merciful Holy One who initiated this deliverance and the Passover of the death angel who judged a rebellious, idol-ridden world power.

Worship the lamb and celebrate the victory he gives and makes possible over sin and death — over sin and slavery.

“Pesach Sameach” 

    פסח שמח  

       Happy Passover

*********************

“’O death, where is your victory?
    O death, where is your sting?’

For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:55-57 NLT).

“Why are the nations in an uproar and the peoples devising a vain thing? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, ‘Let us tear their fetters apart and cast away their cords from us!’ He who sits in the heavens laughs, the Lord scoffs at them. Then He will speak to them in His anger and terrify them in His fury, saying, ‘But as for Me, I have installed My King upon Zion, My holy mountain.’ …
How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!” (Psalm 2).

“So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God” (Hebrews 4:9).

Charles Simpson 1937-2024

One of the most influential men in my life has departed this earth for heaven. This morning, I sit in silence and solitude by the fire, grateful—full of joy and peace. I’m still inspired by his inspiring life, incredible Bible teaching, and leadership within the church as a minister of the Gospel and along the pathways of life wherever he went. And go, he did, to the ends of the earth and crisscrossing the country until he fell ill a few months ago.

Reflecting now, I think it was his fear of the Lord, humility, and close walk with God that touched me most. Also, it was his familiarity with the Holy Spirit and the way he flowed in the Spirit so effortlessly. “A person with an experience is never at the mercy of a person with an argument” is one of his quotes that comes to me now and often. He lived that and helped me do the same — a quiet assurance of faith that comes from spending time with God in His Word, meditation, and obedience to what you hear.

A quote from his website says it succinctly, “Embracing the truth with our lives. In an age of confusion and challenge, there is a great hunger for clarity and courage. We believe that we are called to stay rooted in the Bible, to listen to God’s Holy Spirit, and prophetically declare what we hear Him saying in this generation.”

A friend from Louisiana just texted me to ask if I was coming to Charles’ Celebration of Life service. It’s a hike from here, but I’m planning to go—to honor one of the most humble, gracious, influential, and godly men I have ever known and to celebrate his life with friends who knew and walked with him.

I read many of his articles in New Wine Magazine and listened to many hours of recorded teaching and sermons before I met Charles. Then, once on an F-4 deployment to Gulfport, MS, a squadron mate and I drove to Mobile, AL, to hear him speak on Father’s Day an incredibly inspiring and insightful message, “The Missing Man.” It was the first time I saw him and shook his hand after hearing his Spirit-given, razor-edged wisdom and truth in person.

By the grace of God, I eventually had a couple of one-on-one conversations with him. With a small group of friends, I also visited his home for an evening of coffee and conversation. Just last year, he graciously wrote an endorsement of my latest book, Puzzling 2020.

I have no words to communicate what the man means to me for the infusion of the Word and Spirit he deposited in my life or was a catalyst for the Lord to deposit in my life. I can only sit in silent awe with a joy-filled and grateful heart, reflecting on the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living to His servants and friends.

I just read a blog by Charles’ oldest son, Stephen, which caused my heart to swell again with thanksgiving, love, and joy.

I remain very quiet in my spirit—thankful. My heart is full of quiet joy to have known him. What a race! And victory won. And Sabbath rest for him… the first Easter with his Redeemer and Friend.

Easter Shalom to you all.

*********************

“One generation shall praise Your works to another, and shall declare Your mighty acts” (Psalm 145:4).

“O God, You have taught me from my youth; and to this day I declare Your wondrous works. Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, do not forsake me, until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to everyone who is to come” (Psalm 71:17-18).

“On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand, all other ground is sinking sand” (Hymn by Edward Mote, 1834).

Ray Grimes In Memoriam

This week, the family laid Ray Grimes to rest in the Fort Smith National Cemetery after an honoring memorial service. You can read his obituary here.

You can’t really put a person’s life in a few words or wrap up a full life in a few thoughts. Yet these times of honoring the departed seem to call for that or be given to it. It’s a time to ponder the meaning of life, and reflect on the life we are assembled to celebrate and honor.

Time and tradition has brought us to recall the seemingly-most-important facts about a person’s life. Seventy-nine years old. Married forty-six years. Raised two boys to successful adulthood. The description of family members and friends remaining. Those facts do say a lot, and perhaps the most about a man.

But it seems there is a lot more that isn’t said. And we’re left to ponder that for ourselves.

The Bible gives us hints of how our Creator God sees life and death. In Job we’re told, “Wisdom belongs to the aged, and understanding to the old” (Job 12:12). Solomon tells us, “A good name is better than precious ointment, and the day of death than the day of birth” (Ecclesiastes 7:1) He also tells us it’s better to go into the house of morning than the house of feasting” (Ecclesiastes 7:2). One can assume this is to consider our days and consider our lives while we have breath.

God honors a long life lived on the earth. He honors faithfulness. He honors those who honor Him. He knows life is a beautiful gift to be lived. And He knows it’s hard at times with warfare involved. He sees it all. May we come to see things like He sees them and live in this light.

Then the Bible tells us, “Precious in the sight of the Lord Is the death of His godly ones” (Psalm 116:15). And way back at the beginning of the Bible, God tells us, “Stand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the Lord” (Leviticus 19:32).

Three Songs

Ray’s sons, one of whom is my son-in-law, wanted three songs played by his favorite artists that were their dad’s favorites. They bundled some family photos with them. In retrospect, they tell us a lot about Ray’s life and any life — three of the most important things in life.

First was A Father’s Love, which speaks to our heavenly Father’s love also. Then Me Without You, which speaks to the importance, even preeminence, of relationships in our earth journey. Lastly, Amazing Grace tells the most important part of the story on earth and in eternity — God’s presence with His people. Rest in peace, Ray Grimes.

[More Photos]

Christmas and Hanukkah 2023

On an early-morning, 3-mile walk around our neighborhood with my wife, we stopped at a restaurant for breakfast. Soon, our conversation turned to soul care — reading the Bible habitually, praying, staying in a community of faith — and abiding in the Light.

“Soul care” seems to be jumping out to me everywhere. Ron, my neighbor, came into the yard yesterday evening, catching me putting the last touches on our Christmas angel, and he was there for the lighting ceremony just as the sun was setting and Hanukkah was beginning. While enjoying a beautiful moment and sunset, our conversation turned to “soul care” — the habits, disciplines, and rhythms of the Christian faith and subsequent peace.

Hanukkah is from the Hebrew word for consecration. Hanukkah, according to dictionary.com is “A Jewish festival lasting eight days, celebrated from the 25th day of the month of Kislev to the 2nd of Tevet in commemoration of the rededication of the Temple by the Maccabees following their victory over the Syrians [168 BC] under Antiochus IV, characterized chiefly by the lighting of the menorah on each night of the festival.” Sometimes spelled Chanukah, it is also called the Feast of Dedication or the Feast of Lights.

Bethlehem Light

On our morning walk, we also discussed that “people believe what they want to believe.” When it comes to Bethlehem, can you really overlook such a carefully placed puzzle piece? You can if your heart doesn’t want to know, see, or believe.

On the same note, if you do want to believe there is a God who cares, Who is there, and always does what He says from generation to generation, then pause at Bethlehem. Open your eyes, your ears, your heart, your soul, your spirit, and peer in wonder at a humble Baby and the very heart of your Creator God.

The sky was full of light that night! Happy Hanukkah.

Bethlehem and Hanukkah

What do these two have in common? Other than both will begin on the same day December 25, 2024 — light! Those living in darkness will see a great light in Galilee of the Gentiles (Isaiah 9:1-2, Matthew 4:14-15). A prophet, priest, and King is born in Bethlehem, Judah, as predicted by the prophet Micah (5:2). Bethlehem, “the house of bread,” is a fitting beginning for Jesus, who would call himself the “bread of life.” The Lion of Judah, the Son of David, was born in the same town David was, 1000 years earlier. Seems like too big a coincidence, doesn’t it?

The religious (those trusting in their own knowledge and works) didn’t see it. Check for yourself. Does any prophet come from Nazareth? (John 7:52). Who else doesn’t see? And who does? That’s a fascinating study within itself as you follow Jesus’ life and ministry on the pages of the Gospels.

It’s by invitation only! But the guest list is immense, in keeping with the wealth and goodwill of the Host. There is an RSVP stated or implied, and that’s our only responsibility, apparently. 

Please, stop what you’re doing. Put worldly cares and your to-do list aside. Enter into the joy of the Lord, where there is feasting without strife and rest — where there is true life.

Take care of your soul. Start living your faith or keeping your faith in an ever-increasing and deepening fashion. There dwells light and life — love and joy.

*********************

But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Too little to be among the clans of Judah,
From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel.
His goings forth are from long ago,
From the days of eternity
” (Micah 5:2).

But there will be no more gloom for her who was in anguish; in earlier times He treated the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali with contempt, but later on He shall make it glorious, by the way of the sea, on the other side of Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles. The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them” (Isaiah 9:1-2).

Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst’” (John 6:35).

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life’” (John 8:12).

Love What God Loves

As barbaric and evil as the October 7, 2023, attack on Israel by its Palestinian neighbors in Gaza was, the anti-Semitism that has come to light around the world since then may be even more disturbing. There are people marching, rioting, burning flags around the world, and threatening violence against Jews who probably don’t know a Jew or who have never met a Jewish person. How do you explain that? Outside of dark, evil spirits?

Yes, people are jumping up and down around the world, protesting for media attention, burning Israeli and US flags, waving Palestinian flags, and defacing and destroying property while they chant “Free Palestine” or “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” 

Not surprisingly, in a recent survey, American college students were asked about the chant  “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free.” They were asked which river and which sea. An overwhelming majority of them did not know. Their guesses were as preposterous and humorous as they were sad and telling — telling that college-educated adults in the US have so little grasp of the history, religion, geography, and politics of the region, as well as the Bible.

My own experience asking three college students in our church wasn’t all that different. That’s also telling. The referenced sea and river are the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. The PLO popularized the phrase in the 1960s, calling for themselves to have a state that encompasses all of Israel and for Israel to have no country or state at all.

Those familiar with the Bible will recall that God gave Abraham, Issac, Jacob, and their descendants forever the land from the Mediterranean Sea to the Euphrates River, a much larger part of the Middle East. Israel’s boundaries under King Solomon about 1000 BC — 1700 years before Islam — were as large as they have ever been, but the whole possession hasn’t been under Israeli control yet. All the while, for 4000 years,  since Abraham, Jews have lived in the land. They just didn’t have an officially recognized nation since the Romans destroyed and dispersed them 70-73 AD, that is, until the miraculous return to the land after WWII and the rebirth of their nation on May 14, 1948.

“Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Mediterranean Sea in the west” (Joshua 1:4— also see Genesis 15:18-20, Genesis 26:3, Genesis 28:13).

So that is a little history and geography lesson. Maybe a theology lesson, too. Grab your Bible and some history books, or do some valid research on the web. This is going to be an important issue going forward to the end of time. You should know what you believe and why it’s important. You should know what is right, historical, just, and true — the facts.

Jesus said, “You shall know them [people] by their fruit,” by what they do, not what they say. Have a serious look at what both sides in the conflict have said and done throughout history, especially since 1948. Then, draw your own conclusions. 

In the meantime, you can dwell on the Bible-stated truth that God hates violence, and God loves Israel. You will always do well to love what God loves and hate what God hates.

“And God loves Israel, declaring, ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness’” (Jeremiah 31:3). “The LORD examines the righteous, but the wicked, those who love violence, he hates with a passion” (Psalms 11:5).

Those who do not love what God loves and hate what God hates, those who passionately support violence and hate Israel, are shaking their angry fists at God. This never ends well for them, their political organization, and those who support them.

This is how to make sense of it, even with the smoke and media haze — misguided secular-humanist deception. Harvard? Pit? MIT? CNN? BBC? Beware of deception!

Be aware of these verses: “They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie” (2 Thessalonians 2:10b-11).

Choose the age-old wisdom and most basic Bible teaching, “Fear God and keep His commandments.” Or if that seems out-of-date or too draconian for you, “Love What God loves, and hate what God hates,” and you’ll be fine and fare well.

Shalom and Godspeed on your journey to truth — also righteousness, peace, and joy.“For the kingdom of God is … righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17).

“From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” Indeed, that’s what Israel is in the process of doing right now. They are freeing Israel /Palestine from a people who love violence, oppress their own, practice lawlessness and injustice, hate Israel, their neighbors, and fire rockets and missiles at them incessantly. You reap what you sow. There is One who sees to it.

May our gracious Creator and King exercise justice and judgment mixed with mercy. It’s His to do. And He is the only One who can.

*********************

To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever” (Revelation 5:13).

[An article I wrote about end times events in 2018]

A Time for War — Day 19

A Time for War — Day 19

Those who know me know I don’t watch the news much — that is an understatement. I speak to that and why in my latest book Puzzling 2020. It’s something along the lines of these verses and what they convey:

“Who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed and shuts his eyes from looking on evil, he will dwell on the heights; his place of defense will be the fortresses of rocks; his bread will be given him; his water will be sure. Your eyes will behold the king in his beauty; they will see a land that stretches afar” (Isaiah 33: 15b-17a ESV).

It’s also so that I can be still and quiet in my spirit and hear impressions from the Holy Spirit. I’m a fighter pilot and a warrior at heart, so I can get as stirred up as anyone. But I try not to do so. Not being tied to the news aids my joy and effectiveness in living the kingdom life God has gifted and planned for me. The following verse speaks to this aspect of living:

“Be still, and know that I am God.
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth!” (Psalm 46:10).

Who’s Reporting Can I Trust ?

All the above said, I can quickly tell you who’s reporting to trust, or at least that I trust — Amir Tsarfati, a Jew living in Israel. He has a historical, Biblical, and God-fearing perspective. He also has served in the IDF and has military insights and battle-field awareness. I would call it finger-on-the-pulse awareness of how the Israeli defense forces and intelligence community are thinking about the defense of Israel and her people. Also, what’s really happening there on the ground.

Objective, truthful, no hype, to the point — that’s how I see his messages and briefings. If you want to know the man, and hear some of his reporting click below.

Recent Amir Tsarfati Interview where he shares his own life story and Biblical/historical perspective on the nation of Israel. Who is Amir Tsarfati and what is the truth about Israel?

Amir Tsarfati  War Day 17 Report

His Bible teaching is best accessed on his YouTube channel, Behold Israel.

His military and world perspectives are best followed via Telegram. [Download this App then enter “https://t.me/beholdisraelchannel” and select “View Channel.”]

Another Good Perspective

I was in a men’t meeting early this morning that concentrates on the spiritual habits, disciplines, or rhythms like reading the Bible, prayer, mediation, etc. so we can hear better spiritually and follow those leadings to live joyful, productive lives while getting to know the King better and better. The leader, Ron, introduced us to another preacher and his Biblical/historical perspective on Israel, and also the Book of Ecclesiastes, which is excellent, so I’ll share.

Here’s Some Related Music With Relevance to Israel Today

Psalm 121 by Joshua Aaron performed in Jerusalem

Zion by Aaron Shust

Raise Us Up by a Hebrew/Arabic ministry I’ve visited in Jerusalem

Pray! For the peace of Jerusalem, Israel, and the world — to the One Who can make it happen and controls world events ultimately. Shalom שלום

A Time For War

Jeremiah & Ecclesiastes October 2023

How ironic and synchronistic that I am reading Ecclesiastes and Jeremiah at this time, the same time Israel is embroiled in a war against a bloody, evil enemy, gunning down innocent women and children and committing even more grotesque atrocities.

As bad as it is, it’s child’s play compared to what happened to Israel in 722 BC, 586 BC, and 70 AD. If you read the Bible and history, you know this is not at all that unusual and is predictable – just not the time, place, or scope. The Biblical narrative is the only explanation that makes sense as to the why of it all.

My eyes fell on Ecclesiastes 7:14 this morning. And it brought to mind Ecclesiastes 3:8 (3:1-18) where Solomon speaks philosophically of life on the planet before God. He mentions “there is a time for war.”

Israel — A Time for War

It seems the church in the west is woefully ignorant about Israel, her place in the Bible and history, and how God sees her – which is the most important part. How God sees things is how they really are! See Isaiah 46:9-10 & Psalm 2. 

How are Christians, all nations, and all people to view Israel? First, we should honor and bless Israel! God made Abraham a promise, then extended it to Isaac and Jacob and their descendants forever: “I will bless those who bless you, and curse those who curse you, and in you all the nations of the earth will be blessed” (Genesis 12:3). Secondly, we are to “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem” (Psalm 122:6). Thirdly we are to realize the miracle that is Israel (Isaiah 66:8), and visit Israel if we can. You will bless them, and you will be blessed beyond your expectation! Fourthly, Israel is the apple of God’s eye, and He gave them the land, forever (Genesis 35:10-12 and others). Even if they don’t keep their covenant with Him, He will honor His word to them because that’s who He is – a God that is faithful and keeps His word forever (2 Timothy 2:13, Isaiah 40:8).

Lastly, he will punish or correct his children as any good father would, for their own good. Throughout history God has used other nations to do this or has allowed it – then He has crushed  those people and nations because they raised their hand against Gods anointed, and often went beyond their boundaries in doing so. (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Habakkuk, Hebrews 12:6-7 ). God’s judgments are true and altogether righteous (Ps 19:9, Rev 19:2). He can make the punishment fit the crime, and He sees into the very thoughts and intent of every human heart.

That’s enough for this short blog. I have a chapter about Israel as God’s chosen nation and God’s time piece in human history in my latest book Puzzling 2020. The best short history of Israel with an accurate Biblical perspective I’ve read recently is Miracle of Israel (Frazier & Fletcher). The most insightful book I’ve read on Islam is in the past few years is The Mystery of Islam (Little).

Enjoy Your Life — Sow Seed — Let God Be God

As the world focused on Israel again, I found myself reading: “In the day of prosperity be happy, but in the day of adversity consider—God has made the one as well as the other so that man will not discover anything that will be after him” (Ecclesiastes 7:14).

The secular humanist and Christian humanist (which should be an oxymoron), will focus on Israel or other hot spots of war in the world, wring their hands, watch the news to constantly be in the know, be fearful, and feel that humans must fix this situation! 

People with a proper and accurate view of God and an ongoing relationship with Him, will leave that up to Him, pray, and do what they can or feel led to do, but go about their lives obeying the impressions of the Spirit and doing what their hands find to do — usually to love and serve others and grow their relationship with God by spending time with Him daily. And they will enjoy their lives — a beautiful gift! (Psalm 46:10, Isaiah 30:15, Psalm 121, Ecclesiastes 2:24, Hebrews 4:11-13, I Thessalonians 4:11, Matthew 11:27-30 and many other Scriptures speak to this.)

This year I’ve found myself actively involved in our multigenerational, collegiate community of believers, mentoring and being mentored, helping churches in Honduras and Uganda, and being involved in men’s groups. And I’ve gone with my wife and friends on a Rhine cruise. I’ll blog on these events later. I have a mantra, “It’s better to live life than to record it.” But I am behind blogging and keeping the book’s webpage fresh, so I’ll report soon. I think you get the idea. Read through Ecclesiastes and Jeremiah this month if it isn’t clear. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, as you go about doing good (Ephesians 2:10), and spending time with God daily in His Word and prayer. Shalom, and Godspeed as you journey.

**************

A time to tear apart and a time to sew together;
A time to be silent and a time to speak.

A time to love and a time to hate;
A time for war and a time for peace.

What profit is there to the worker from that in which he toils? I have seen the task which God has given the sons of men with which to occupy themselves.

He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.

I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and to do good in one’s lifetime; moreover, that every man who eats and drinks sees good in all his labor—it is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will remain forever; there is nothing to add to it and there is nothing to take from it, for God has so worked that men should fear Him” (Ecclesiastes 3:8-14).

In the day of prosperity be happy,
But in the day of adversity consider—
God has made the one as well as the other
So that man will not discover anything that will be after him
” (Ecclesiastes 7:14).

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
‘May they prosper who love you
‘” (Psalm 122:6).

African Spiritual Adventure 2023

One of our members at Harvest Community Chruch has a fledgling relationship with an African pastor who is four years into a church plant in Uganda. Our church sent a five-member team to support this church in July/August, and scout out whether the Spirit might be leading us into an ongoing relationship. This turned into a beautiful, relational adventure.

We were their first team to host, and they did a remarkable job. Our lodging was clean and safe, and their hospitality was exemplary and warm. We felt honored and well cared for — indeed, welcomed into their family.

Buyera Community Church (BCC) is a non-denominational church in an association of about 200 similar churches throughout Uganda. We found Pastor Steven and his wife Judith to be very hard-working, self-sacrificing, genuine Christians who are laying their lives down to further the church and Kingdom of God. They have put together a fledgling church in four years of about 100-150 people in Buyera, a village on the outskirts of Kampala, the capital. While the area is relatively impoverished at the moment, its proximity to the capitol with some recent business and governmental activity promise to bring needed economic resources to their village as well as many new people.

They’ve put together an amazing, well-kept campus, and started an elementary school with about 80 children. That’s Judith’s passion and dream, because she was a Project Compassion child herself who came out of the slums and a bad family situation to get an education and wants to give back or replicate that for others. Teaching children is about the best way to make disciples imaginable. Pastor Stephen is well-educated, with Christian parents who recently celebrated their 47th anniversary — their age being a rarity in Uganda where the average age is 15.5 years.

Steven has a young, energetic leadership team — one quite large for the size of the church. It occurred to us that their real call may be to raise up and train leaders for the church in Uganda and Africa. Steven’s main focus seems to be the church, as it should be, the bride of Christ and a representation of His family. Their local church is bursting at the seams, space wise — meeting in the three-room school each Sunday. They have the foundation built for a church building on the campus, with standing metal beams. They are also ready to pour concrete for the floor and are in the process of making their own concrete blocks — a process in which we participated.

We enjoyed our recreation day at the beginning of the trip (desert first!) instead of at the end as usual, resting Steven and Judith, by going on a safari. This turned out to be perfect for getting to know the couple and their hearts, as we let them know us and gain their trust. We feel like family now.

On that note, a safari is a good option for the recreation and reflection day that most short-term-mission trips build into their schedules. It’s about a 5 hour drive from the BCC to the national park/game preserve. That’s a hike, but it allows the team to recover from jet lag — while experiencing a long, peaceful drive through the countryside getting a feel for the culture and people while resting and chatting.

As a veteran of about 20 short term mission trips, each one a success in its own right, I’d say this trip ranked near the top. BCC is very kingdom minded, and the fields are “ripe unto harvest” in Uganda, which may prove to be a hub in Africa for sending out young preachers and church planters. “Can anything good come out of Buyera?” is a common saying there. 🙂

At a Charles Simpson leadership conference in May of this year I sat at breakfast with two gentlemen who were involved with training young pastors and preachers near Kampala, Uganda. What are the chances? On the flight from Amsterdam to Uganda, I sat by a very lovely Belgian woman, a nurse, who met her husband on a medical mission to the Congo, just west of Uganda. She married her Canadian-pilot husband, and he currently flies for Uganda Air and they live in Entebbe. She told me Uganda is mostly Christian and the gospel is spreading rapidly, but that the depth of the church is somewhat shallow, with a lot of prosperity teaching, etc.

We found Pastor Steven a grounded student and teacher of the Bible. He and his wife met working for Project Compassion, and the church they attended at that time sent them out as church planters. They have established a nice church campus with a building used for a Christian elementary school, a building for church and school offices, a mission building, and the start of a church building. The campus is clean and well laid out in a good location for growth as Kampala spreads south toward Lake Victoria and Entebbe Airport. But it’s the hearts of these two leaders, their four children and their staff that are the treasures. We plan to help them any way we can as the Spirit leads, with funds and sharing lives via visits. It’s beautiful and refreshing to find God’s Spirit in God’s family in many different parts of the planet — and to experience their love is an inexpressible joy!

Photos of African Mission Adventure 2023

Honduras 2023 — There is Still Room

There Is Still Room

I must include one more highlight from our spring-break trip to Honduras, because it furnished our mission statement and direction for the entire trip, “There is still room” — at the King’s table. This is how we came to hear it.

Pastor Dario, learning that Tim and Lindsay had lived in China for six years, invited him to speak to the church saying, “Brother Tim, tell us about China.”

Tim read a passage of Scripture from Luke 14 about people who were invited to a fabulous banquet by a wealthy master, but many made excuses and didn’t come. The master told his servants to go out into the highways and byways and invite the lame, poor, and anyone who would come. The servants did so, and reported this to the master and that: “There is still room.”(v22) The master sent his servants out again.

 “The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’‘’Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’ “Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full. I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet’” (Luke 14: 21:23 NIV).

Tim chose to tell the Honduran church about how the underground church in China had ignored and not evangelized the Tibetan people because they were “idol worshipers” and chose willingly to ignore God and go their own way. Tim mentioned also that a very, very small percentage of Tibetans had ever heard the name of Jesus.

Then there was a major earthquake in Tibet a few years later, and the Chinese church decided to send humanitarian and spiritual help. They were well received and many came to Christ. The Chinese church repented for exclusivity and admitted their failure in going to Tibet with the Gospel, as commanded in the Great Commission.

After hearing the story, Pastor Dario said to Tim, our team, and his own church, that this was a word for the Honduras church. He went on to say, “Everyone in Honduras has heard the name of Jesus and the Gospel message.” But the Honduran church has been like the underground Chinese church and judged that the people who haven’t responded to the Gospel or accepted Jesus were doing so because that was their choice. Therefore the church wasn’t going out into the highways and byways any longer like they had a one time.

“Now we’re hearing, ‘There’s still room,’ and we’re failing at going out again. This is a good word for us, and one we need to hear.” 

“There is still room” seemed to become the main theme or word from the Lord for our team concerning our time in Honduras, and beyond.

**************

Photo Journal of Honduras 2023

Honduras Spring Break 2023

A Prison Break! — Honduras March 20, 2023

[Eight of us experience Prisoners of Light @ Olanchito, Yoro, Honduras Prison ]

There is no way I can describe what happened in there.

As we turned over our passports and walked toward the solid metal door with a peephole, then through that door to the bare, concrete holding area in front of another solid metal door with a small window, prisoners began excitedly whispering and running through the narrow perpendicular passageways beyond.

I’d been inside this prison before, but no one else with me had been except our translator. I hadn’t seen this activity before, so it was a bit unnerving, partly because we had five precious young women with us. But I quickly had inner peace and a spiritual impression that all was well and everything was alright.

We hurried into the hallway, turned left, and followed the narrow passageway lined by some prisoners, until we emerged into the open-air courtyard. It was surrounded by high walls topped with Concertina wire and a guard tower manned by a uniformed guard with a machine gun.

Immediately to our left, seated in many straight rows, were 150+ prisoners who began to clap loudly — applaud thunderously is more like it — our arrival.!?

Totally surprised and humbled by such a warm reception, we waved sheepishly at the clapping inmates. We continued walking to where we were motioned, to our seats at the front left side — very close to the prison worship team.

There was a warm and impassioned welcome to our team by the prison pastor, who is also an inmate. And the inmates echoed his welcome with thunderous applause.

Our Honduran translator Kerlin stood up at the front by the pastor and translated Spanish to English for our team when appropriate or as needed. After their welcoming remarks, Kerlin invited me as the team leader to speak to the prisoners.

I gave them our greetings from the United States, our Arkansas church, and the Covenant Life Fellowship brothers and sisters in Louisiana who had visited before. I had seen enough of their Spirit-filled worship to tell them, “Don’t be surprised if there is more spiritual light in here than out there.” This was followed by loud applause. I told them we experienced a waterfall of the Spirit as they worshiped so freely and passionately, and thanked them for letting us share the experience with them.

I recounted that I had been inside their prison five or six times during the last ten years. We weren’t allowed to visit in 2021 and 2022 due to COVID-19. They nodded appreciatively their understanding and thanks for trying. I recounted how small the Christian group of prisoners was ten years ago, maybe 15 to 20 inmates meeting against the western wall. Most of the other inmates were milling around the courtyard then, with some of them heckling. Five years later, the number was about 50, and you had a small area set aside for worship and meeting. But now!?! …

Trip Report to the Elders

That’s how I started an after-action report to our elders about the fourteen-member team that Harvest Community Church, Fayetteville, AR, sent to support an indigenous pastor. The trip also provided opportunities for our community to disciple believers in another country and culture, and be discipled by them. It was a beautiful experience and what Jesus commanded His followers to do in Matthew 28:19-20, commonly called “The Great Commission.”

You can click on the whole report below and hear the rest of the prison story as well as read the highlights of the trip, mostly recorded from my journal.

There Is Still Room

I must include one more highlight, because it furnished our direction for the entire trip, “There is still room” [at the King’s table]. But this blog has become long enough so I’ll continue that on the following bog.

Godspeed on your spiritual journey wherever you find yourself. May you be spending time with Him each day, knowing Him better and better for the joy that is, and the joy that lies before you. Shalom in Jesus Christ, the Lord.

**************

Trip Report to the Elders

Photo Record of Our Honduras Adventure