Sunday, November 13, 2011

God Uses Our Mediocrity

Today I saw a picture on Face book; it was of a child in Paraguay receiving a quilt. My heart leapt with joy and God used it to teach me another life lesson.

Last summer I was in Paraguay on a mission trip. One of the pastors we were working with took us to a children’s home that he works with. As we toured the facility and interacted with the children I thought: What can we do to help? When I got back home I started a group at church to make quilts for the children. I’m not an experienced quilter; I had only made a couple of very simple quilts. We took in donations of fabric and dove right in! That is my personality, when I get an idea, I don’t research options or even think through the consequences, I just jump right in and deal with the fall-out later. Not generally a good tendency but occasionally God uses it to His advantage.

Last week our merry little band of quilters went to a quilt show. We were feeling pretty good about ourselves. We had just sent eight quilts to the children’s home in Paraguay. We were accomplished quilters! Once we entered the show it only took a few minutes for my bubble to burst. I suddenly felt like a little girl holding a drawing behind her back because she had just ran up to the front of the class to show her teacher and saw that the drawings of the girls in front of her were much better than hers.

These women were REAL quilters, we were just mediocre. We weren’t in the same league as these women; I’m not even sure we were playing the same sport! I felt alternately awed and deflated as I ogled the incredible creativity on display. Over the next few days the feeling didn’t subside, it settled in a little deeper. Until today. Today I saw the face of a child who had received one of our mediocre quilts. What that child’s face reflected was not mediocrity, it was pure joy.

I dream of being an author. I dream of what it would feel like to be on the best seller list or at a book signing. I think my writing is pretty good until I pick up a James Patterson or Nora Roberts novel and realize how mediocre my writing is in comparison. Then I think this is stupid, I’m just wasting my time pretending to be a writer.

Today God showed me once again that when I take my eyes off of Him and begin to compare myself to others I will always be disappointed. He reminded me that He has never asked me to be James Patterson, or an expert quilter; He has only asked me to use the talents He has given me to do the best I can to show His love to the world around me. God has used my mediocrity to comfort children who have been battered and bruised by life.

Although I don’t know what it would feel like to be an award winning author, I’m pretty sure it would pale in comparison to the feeling of knowing that you made a child smile.

What lessons has God taught you when comparing yourself to others?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

In the Field, Again!

One of the benefits of being “in the field” is being away from home. Duh!

Being away from home means seeing things in a different light, seeing people you don’t normally see, and simply adding to your list of experiences to share… not necessarily when you get “back home”, but even while still “in the field.”

Last night we went out for ice cream and I posted a picture of Sandy and Rosy, Luis Rodriguez’ wife, enjoying some “late night” (10:30 pm) ice cream here in Argentina. Interestingly enough, I received comments from the US, Paraguay and Honduras. As if that wasn’t enough, the comments from the US and Honduras asked me to send greetings to a friend of theirs here in Argentina, Luis’ pastor!

As big as our world is, once you start traveling to meet with other Christian brothers and sisters, you realize how many connections we have and how far our relationships stretch. No wonder the New Testament is so full of commands that we fellowship with each other… the benefits far exceed anything we could ever imagine. What an amazing God we serve, amen?

I will include some pictures of what we are doing here, but they only show part of the story. They cannot show the interactions we have had talking, teaching and learning with our brothers and sisters here.

Bill helped teach a class on Doctrine using the excellent material TPI uses from the Bible Training Center for Pastors (BTCP), spoke at a local church, and is preparing to speak at graduations this weekend.

Sandy spoke to a group of ladies last night from three churches and

had a long lunch with two of the pastor’s wives here in Santiago del Estero.

And we are just 1 week into our 2-week trip!

We are so thankful to God that we have the time to minister like this, and to our supporters that assist us in prayer and finances.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Process or Purpose?

Do we sometimes confuse process and purpose? Do we say “I am going through this stage of my life to become a better counselor, a better father, a better whatever. God’s purpose for my life is that I become a better husband, a better messenger, a better missionary for Him.”? No. God’s purpose for my life is that I become more like Jesus, and that is a process.

What’s the difference? We say I am going through this (a process) so I can become a better ________ (a purpose); instead, the process of our life is God’s purpose for our life. God has not called us to be a better counselor, husband, or father (end goals, or purposes). God has called us to be (a process).

Why is this important?
If we merely endure what we are going through, thinking the goal is to become a better whatever, we may miss the real purpose God has for us; that is the process itself that we go through. The people we interact with, the place we live and work are all part of this process, and that is God’s purpose for our life.

If we become better whatevers, we may think that’s all God had in store for us and start to rest, and that can be dangerous!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Gracias por venir

That’s it: Gracias por venir [Thanks for coming]. That’s what Josue Argueta wanted me to tell one of Hope’s team members when they arrived Monday evening. And then he went to tell another team member.

Sandy and I are invited guests this year to the family conference Hope Baptist Church sponsors each year here in Honduras for the pastors and families of Training Pastors International. After so many years being team members, it feels a little odd being guests. We came to Honduras a week early to visit with “family” and friends in Honduras and Nicaragua. In each place we visited, these were the words we heard: Gracias por venir.

The new members of the Hope team are now learning what Sandy and I have been saying for some time now… simply our presence in their country, in their town, means more to them than most people will ever understand. It’s hard for them to understand how and or why people would make an effort to spend money to leave the comforts of the US, to come to this area where mosquitoes are prevalent, where hot showers are considered luxuries, where clothes are still washed by hand. But they are OH SO GRATEFUL! They have told us it adds confirmation that what they are doing is important.

Visiting, talking, eating, learning, laughing, crying with people is how some people define family; this is how believers in the early church spent their time and grew together in the Lord (Acts 2:42-47).

Thanks for your continued support. If you would like to participate personally, let us know and we can help!

Bill & Sandy

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Signs of the Times…

Here are two signs of our times: one proclaims a national holiday celebrating el diablo, the other proclaims the work of God’s men claiming the world for Christ. Both events are happening as I write this, within a mile of each other. Nationwide people are partying with el diablo. In three cities this weekend, TPI is teaching, and men are learning, biblical truth. Some people are celebrating worldly pleasures, many inspired by Satan, while others are studying under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

Just as in Jesus’ time, the national leaders, even the religious leaders, were aware of what was happening but thought they were powerless to stop it. The Roman leaders sanctioned anything the Jews wanted to do, as long as it didn’t interfere with their control. The religious leaders tolerated the money-changers in the temple as normal, even God-sanctioned, activities.

Jesus knew better. He put a stop to it. And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. (Matthew 21:12) Jesus took an unpopular stand (He did that a lot!).

The men here are also taking a stand. They are not overturning tables or emptying the temple, but while others choose to celebrate el diablo, they have chosen to teach and study God’s Word. It is such a blessing to know these men, to be with them, and to call them friends; men who take a stand for God against what many others in society have found acceptable, against what the government deems acceptable.

I thought you would want to know.

Please continue to pray for them.

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Workers

Then He [Jesus] said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest. – Matthew 9:37-38

How many times have you read that passage, and even said a prayer (or two)?

These past few days I spent with the workers (los obreros) in Jujuy in northwestern Argentina, I thought What would happen if EVERYONE responded to Jesus’ request to pray for workers, but NO ONE responded to God’s call to be a worker in the field?

I also realized that some people are praying the God would send workers into the field, and others are praying that God would bring workers into the field. Do you see the difference? Some people are sitting at home asking that God send workers where they are needed, and others are praying that God would bring workers to where they are needed.

Anyone reading the above passage has 3 choices: ignore it, pray for workers, or become a worker. Sandy and I have the opportunity to not only pray for the workers, and sometimes even be the workers, but we get to meet and fellowship with many of God’s workers in the field. These are men who are married and have families, like many of us, but have responded to the hunger God placed in their hearts for His Word. They are taking the gospel and biblical training into areas that do not even have a space on the map. They are winning souls for Christ, starting churches that multiply, and discipling others to do the same. They have responded to His call to be the workers in the field.

What an awesome privilege we have been given. If you have prayed for us, thank you. If you have supported us financially, thank you. If you want to know more about how God is working throughout Latin America, OR VISIT WITH US IN ONE OF THESE COUNTRIES, please contact us.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

This is the generation of those who seek Him!

Psalm 24:6 in the New American Standard Bible (NASB)

I read this in my devotions this morning and thought about some of the despair and discouragement I see in posts by friends on Facebook… I thought about what we see on television and how we hear of persecution throughout the world… I thought “Can this be true today? Is ours the generation of those who seek Him?”… maybe it was true when David wrote it, but certainly not today. Then I thought about David’s environment: persecuted by Saul, hiding “from the wicked who do me violence, my deadly enemies who surround me.” (Psalm 17:9) Not very different from our situation today!

Sandy and I believe it is true today. We see God at work in our lives and in the lives of others; we see the fruit of those working to expand God’s Kingdom. Let me tell you what God has done through the men of Training Pastors International (TPI) in Central and South America, just in 2010: (does not include works in Peru or Miami)

CountryPeople EvangelizedProf. of FaithMsgs PreachedBaptismsNew Churches

Give thanks to God for what He is doing through these men! PRAY for these men! Pray for the students in our classes that their hunger for the Word continues to grow; pray that they remain faithful; pray that they be effective; pray that God’s will be done in Latin America! Can I get an Amen?