An Addition to the Family!
Second Annual Conference in Guadalajara
One of our major burdens is to cultivate and facilitate more of a culture of reading sound literature in our churches, so this is a good sign that the Word being preached is cultivating hunger in the brethren to study theology more deeply! Along these lines, we have some major projects in the works, which we hope to announce soon!
Expository Unfolding of the Word of God
As I'm preparing to preach these messages, the Lord has been invigorating my soul and feeding me with the fatness and substance of what has to be the most glorious book in Scripture! I include this in this update because one of the pressing needs of the global church is the demonstration of the expository unfolding of the Word of God with theological depth and heart-searching, applicatory exhortation. And Romans sets forth the Gospel of God with such clarity! Please help me in your prayers, that the Lord would continue to help as I seek to discover and unfold the mind of the Holy Spirit in this majestic magna carta of the Apostle Paul. (You can see some of the recent sermons here.) I've determined that one of the chief focuses of my life-long studies is going to be the book of Romans.
Hector Bustamante is currently preaching through the Sermon on the Mount in Guadalajara and 1 Peter in Mexico City. Miguel, one of our lead men in Mexico City, is preaching through the book of Ephesians. And Aaron Block just finished a series on Acts and is now preaching through the OT book of Haggai. Here's a pic of Aaron preaching in Mexico City:
Please pray for our day-to-day and week-to-week preaching, that we would preach with precision in light of the text, urgency in view of the great white throne, and power that proceeds from another world; that souls would be soundly saved and the saints would be soundly equipped to love and serve Christ and His church.
A Year of Much Affliction
And yet, if I could go back and choose any other course, I don't think I would have changed a thing. The Lord has been so gracious to teach me so much during this time. His will is truly perfect, and through my darkest moments this past year I've caught a greater glimpse of the glory and all-sufficiency of Christ and the unsurpassed excellence of the knowledge of Him in a way I had never comprehended as fully before. Though the trials have been difficult, when I was finally able to submit from the heart to the smarting rod of God's providential, Fatherly discipline and take it with joy, the Lord did a glorious work in my own heart and caused me to learn the truth of what it means to rest content in Christ, and in Christ alone, despite my circumstances. Now, so many Scriptures make so much more sense to me (like Romans 5:3-4, James 1:2-3, 12 and 1 Peter 1:6-7, among many others).
The Lord has taught me by means of fire that it's not my abilities, gifts, privileges, influence, ministry, or even success in ministry that matters, but rather, that Christ be formed in me and that He would be my treasure, delight and reward even if everything in this world is stripped from me and this earth has no consolation to offer and there is no one by my side who is able to truly sympathize with me or console me. Affliction is one of the best things to have ever happened to me, for it has lead to a greater discovery of Christ in a way that I had not entered into in such an experiential manner previously! If suffering is the only means by which, in the all-wise providence of our heavenly Father, we can come to know Christ more fully, the outcome far surpasses the momentary price that has to be paid. For this light and momentary affliction is working in us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory! Romans 8:29 has become so much more than a cliché to me; it has become a tried and proven reality that has sustained my soul with the goodness of God in the midst of hellish affliction, and it has proven true as I now look back over the past year and a half and reflect on the outcome, and on the greatness of God's mercy.
Thankfully, though my health conditions are lingering as a thorn in my side, they appear to be slowly and progressively improving. I've been able to travel a bit recently to preach in some other churches and in some conferences. I've also been able to preach regularly on Sundays, especially in Guadalajara, and to hold meetings and do some teaching in other venues as well as reincorporating myself into full involvement with the church. As I've discovered some new dietary habits that greatly alleviate the symptoms that most disable me, I have hope that with time, the Lord will allow me to function normally again and to preach Christ without so many physical hindrances and handicaps. In fact, by following a very strict diet, I've been able to get about 90% better, which allows me to minister with a bit of pain but at least without any major hindrance. But as long as my symptoms continue to abate with this diet, I hope to greatly expand our efforts in Mexico and Latin America in 2016. We could use your prayers for all this.
Other Highlights and Prayer Requests
- Hector Bustamante, the brother who has been co-laboring with us and who moved to Guadalajara last year to serve with me in an internship, is persevering and growing in grace. He has been a great help and we are seeking to cultivate his character and gifts as we confirm his pastoral gifting and he steps into pastoral ministry.
- We will probably be moving forward with an official vote for elders soon with another particular candidate in mind. Would appreciate your prayers for this.
- We have an intensive module on the Doctrine of Scripture planned for February as a part of our Theological Academy program. Our guest teacher will be Dr. Bob Gonzales, a pastor, theologian and the Dean of Reformed Baptist Seminary.
- We have a major translation project in the works and are planning on publishing books by Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, and Thomas Boston soon. With this, we are looking at founding our own publishing ministry as an arm of Cristianismo Bíblico.
- We are also in serious discussion with some brothers about opening up a Christian bookstore, to make sound literature available and to use our platform to promote this literature. It's not official yet but seems pretty likely.
- We are involved in a major printing and literature distribution project in Cuba that, by God's grace, has apparently had a tremendous impact on the evangelical church in Cuba, but whose ripple-effects are still playing out. We have teamed up with some pastors there who are carrying out this project within the country. Thousands of booklets, CD's and DVD's are being mailed out continually to believers and pastors all over the island. There is no corner of the country that these resources are not reaching! A group of brothers is planning on making a trip there soon to further consolidate this ministry and increase its effectiveness. Please pray for Cuba! We believe this is historic!
- I'm currently working on earning a Masters of Divinity degree through Reformed Baptist Seminary. I could use prayer for grace in my studies and for wisdom to properly balance my time between personal devotions, family, study, church, etc.
- We earnestly request prayer for the salvation of Josiah. He is 3 years old now and is understanding more and more of the Gospel as we seek to instruct him in the Word. I would rather die a thousand torturous deaths---no, a million or a billion---than to think that there have been many people saved through the instrumentality of our ministry here but that my own son finally perishes if he never comes to know the Savior! Please pray for him to be born again! I do believe it is not beyond God's power to regenerate a 3-year-old.