Living to Potential

Galatians 1:15-16. The apostle Paul realized that before he was ever born, God had mapped out a plan for his life that was so far-reaching it’s hard to grasp. God chose him to see Christ, and then preach His gospel among the Gentiles (v. 16). Back when travel was hard and communication was short-ranged, Paul crisscrossed the known world, leaving behind Christians and churches like a trail of breadcrumbs. Perhaps more significantly, the letters he wrote these people have lasted almost two thousand years, and they remain some of the most well-known and loved pieces of literature in history. Paul was (understandably) blown away by the plans God gave him to complete. “Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given…” (Eph. 3:8).

Jeremiah 1:5-10. Jeremiah too was floored when he caught a glimpse of God’s will for his life. He was ordained as God’s prophet to the nations while he was still a baby in the womb (v. 5)! God gave him responsibility over whole cultures (“nations”) and kingdoms. Jeremiah was in the position to root out, to destroy, to build, and to plant (v. 10); all this with just his mouth, speaking for God (v. 7). It’s no wonder he cried: “Lord, I cannot speak, for I am a child” (v. 6). But speak he did, before kings and common people. And the things he spoke as prophecy have happened exactly as promised. A few examples (of both the destroying and the building up kind) can be found in these verses: Jer. 51:25-26; 31:38-40; 49:17-20.

Paul and Jeremiah both lived to their potential. They saw the plans God had made for them be completed. All those heroes of faith listed in Hebrews 11 got to see God’s plans fulfilled as well. But the crazy thought to take home is this: those heroes of the Bible are there as examples for us! Hebrews 12:1 says that, eyeing their example, we need to run our own race with endurance. We have to be so careful, or we’ll drop out and fail, like Esau did (Heb. 12:15-16).

But think of this, if they are our examples, that means God has plans that are equal in scale for you and for me! After all, God has designated and empowered us as His witnesses to the rest of the world… Acts 1:8. And believe me, God’s plan for you and me is so much bigger than being a good pew-warmer, a consistent tither, a hungry learner, or a world-class tract giver.

I get so scared sometimes that I’m not accomplishing the incredible plan God made for my life. In fact, I know that I’m far from seeing the things God wants to accomplish through me. But boy, do I ever want to keep getting closer to my potential!

Ps. 34:3

Year’s End Update

Merry Christmas everyone! I trust you’ve had blessed holidays.  I’m grateful to have another opportunity to see some of my relatively scattered family. My brothers Danny and Mark were able to come here to visit (as well as Danny’s wife Jordan), and I’ve had a great time with them, as usual.With family at Christmas

I want to share  a very brief update, and hopefully give a little encouragement to each of you this Christmas. As I usually do in December, I’ve been looking back through my year to see in which areas I’ve learned the most. And this year, the theme that has been most prominent has been God’s work of sanctification. I’ve seen Him at work making many necessary changes in my own life, and I’ve gotten to spend a lot of time studying Christian growth as I’ve worked through Romans 12-14 on Wednesdays with my church over the course of this year.

But the most exciting way I’ve seen this theme played out this year has been in the lives of some of the people here in this ministry. I can’t think of a feeling that compares to the joy of seeing a person’s life change radically through the power of the Gospel. I continue to have weekly Bible studies with three of the newest believers in church, Amadeo, Lucho, and Carlos. All three of them have grown so much in this past year. Each of them has shared personal testimonies in church recently. All three are so different from who they were before being saved. I can think through the 9 fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), and see fruit now where there never was before. In recent months, Carlos especially has shown remarkable growth. This summer at youth camp, as I mentioned in a previous letter, the Lord really straightened some things out in his life, and now Carlos is more faithful than ever. He is consistently witnessing to his family and friends, and he even comes out to share the Gospel in Irun with a couple church men and me sometimes. Please pray for these 3 young men. They are all from broken homes, and they face very strong pressure from their unsaved relatives, but they are trying to serve God as best they can.  Two of them have told me of  their desire to enter the ministry full-time, if that’s what God has planned for them.With my young people at camp

In the picture to the right you can see another believer who has shown much evidence of the Lord’s transforming power. This is a Basque young man in his thirties. He was saved about two years ago. I spend a lot of time with him, and he also has a strong desire to serve the Lord with his life, no matter where the Lord leads him. I have been working with him for a while now, teaching himMikel and me how to prepare a message for church. Soon, hopefully, he’ll have the opportunity to preach in church on a Wednesday night or something similar. Please pray for him as well, as he also faces strong opposition to the Gospel from his family.

There are certainly many other cases, but suffice it to say that God is miraculously changing lives for the better. I believe no man-made effort, whether it’s a rehabilitation center, charitable organization, or a religious program, can ever produce true, permanent change in the life of a sinner. Only God’s miraculous, sanctifying work in the heart of a believer can ever transform a life to the extent God is doing with these examples I’ve shared.

I hope this is as much an encouragement for you as it has been for me. God’s work here is a result of your prayers for the ministry, and so once again, thank you for those prayers. Another big source of encouragement has been the way the Lord has been providing the support I’ll need to stay here in Spain. When I came back from the States in October, I had about a third of what I need to live here. Since reaching Spain though, the Lord has provided support from several unexpected directions, and I am so grateful that He keeps providing. Personally it is a great encouragement to see the Lord moving hearts to support the ministry, as it means God wants the work here to keep moving forward. To those of you who have supported me financially in this past year, whether individually or through your church, I just want to thank you so much for your generosity and for your trust. Please keep praying for me and for the people I mention. We need your prayers.

God bless, and and have a wonderful new year!

Ps. 34:3