Tag Archives: CFM

A sovereign work

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My son, Rob, manned the grill. His eyes are closed because of the smoke.

I have slogged through years of labor with not so much fruit in Guatemala, so when I start a new church with the Christian Fellowship Ministries in Van Nuys, I’m expecting an uphill battle.

But then God pours out His grace and blessing in unexpected ways on this Valley Boy Pastor.

IMG_1351When He moves and brings revival, we call it a “sovereign work.” That means the pastor didn’t work to manufacture the revival. It came 100% from God.

On Friday, we hosted a barbecue outreach in my apartment complex. We didn’t even pay for it. It was paid for by the apartments’ owner. I can’t stop admiring how God does everything.

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Members of the Lighthouse Church Van Nuys enjoy the tacos too!

Of course, my wife, my kids and members of the church did a lot of work to prepare the banquet. But what we did was minor compared to what God did. Now we are waiting to see who will come to the Bible study.

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I owe this man a kazillion dollars

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Not the baby boy, the big guy.

Meet Pastor Matt Sinkhorn. Apparently, I inherited his church members as he moved on to start another church in the Christian Fellowship Ministries.

This is an incredible blessing. I had been hunkering down for the long haul of evangelism, prayer and loneliness to build the church in Van Nuys from scratch. Then I got a call. Pastor Matt had lost his lease. His pastor wanted to move him. His disciples needed a new home.

Presto! Instant church for the Valley Boy Pastor!

And they are good disciples. They invited people to service every time.

I’m in a dream. What did I do to deserve a shortcut on 5 years+ of work?

God is good. Thank you, Matt. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, my friend and blog reader, for your prayers.

I text Pastor Matt my thanks and told him about the kazillion dollars. He said that if it was so, he could loan me $10.

#ValleyBoyPastor: If you just try, anything is possible

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Mind blown. I just barely moved to Van Nuys. I just barely started a Bible study in the apartment. I haven’t yet gotten a place for Sunday service. And God has brought in full-on disciples. Not just curious people trying the service like the water-wary timidly dipping a toe in the pool to see if it’s too cold. I don’t even know what to name the church. It’s associated with the Christian Fellowship Ministries.

The four top-notch leaders are thanks to my friend and outstanding pastor, Matt Sinkhorn, who worked with them for five years until San Fernando closed his church for zoning rules and he lost his lease. His pastor opted to send him to Lancaster, so four core leaders in his church were looking for a new stomping ground. At the same time, I was announced for nearby Van Nuys.

We are finishing a half-week of revival services in Santa Monica, and the girls have gone every night. These are not wimpy Christians. After service, we went out for ice cream, which you know is just (frozen) milk and honey, so we’re moving into the Land Flowing with Milk and Honey.

I can only praise Jesus and thank YOU for your prayers on this endeavor.

And maybe I should say a word to all my friends who are working long and hard with little fruit. That’s what I was hunkering down for. God sees the labor of love.

I’m glad my wife believed in me. She thought I actually heard from God. There were many doubters. But if you just try, anything is possible.

All you need… #ValleyBoyPastor musings

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You don’t need a fancy building. As a matter of fact, a fancy building can be the ruin of a church. Where does the New Testament say Christians focused on buildings? In the first century, they met in homes, next to river and then in catacombs.

All you need is the Spirit and the Word. These two activate all the elements that comprise “church.” They — not American luxuries — bring revival. Revival is not getting a fancy building. Revival is the Spirit moving on the hearts of many men.

I got a building once, in Guatemala (so I’m not speaking from a poverty mentality of resentment and envy; I’m speaking from experience). I believe the building has its upsides. But now that I am starting a church in Van Nuys with the Christian Fellowship Ministries, I want to stay as far away from that headache as possible. I want to follow the Acts example. I want the Spirit of God, not a storefront church.

I know a church in Africa that has met under a tree for eight years. It is a church, people congregate, disciples are being raised up, the word is preached with power, transformation is being done, and they have no building. After the building comes the improvements. We end with the Sistine Chapel, gaudy gold and Michelangelo, void of Spirit. Money that should have been spent on getting souls saved is diverted to personal comforts.

Suffering for Jesus: the ongoing misadventures of the #ValleyBoyPastor

IMG_0548Some friends have warned me about how hard apartment managing is, and I am starting to see why.

I mean, I had already eaten a hamburger and chips for dinner when my neighbors, the guys who come to my Bible study, invited me over for Mexican food. Of course, I couldn’t refuse their hospitality, and Mexican food is my absolute favorite. So there was nothing left for me to do but soldier through and inflict suffering on my poor little stomach.

There was a good side to all this deliciousness, and that was I got exposure to people who may come to Christ in my ministry — which of course is an opportunity to die for. Again, it was through no effort or genius on my part. God is bringing the revival — and the Mexican food.

But if this “suffering for Jesus” continues much longer, I could get chubby.

Useless, then priceless

Tio TinoTino was one of those drunks who you stepped over, who slept in his urine on the streets in Guatemala. You expected him to wake up dead after a cuttingly cold night. You tried not to think about it.

Ismael talked to him about Jesus and offered him a place to sleep. Tino got saved.

As a missionary, I had a soft spot in my heart for Tino. We let him sleep at the church as a guard. We gave him food. I let him play worship on his guitar in service, a throwback type Christian music. He became Tio Tino — Uncle Tino — for everybody.

drunk GuatemalaOn this trip to Guatemala, I was astonished at just how far the transformation has gone. Now, Tino leads outreach everyday, which his only honkytonk guitar, just off the edge of the Central Plaza. Everybody joined him on Sunday to street-preach.

He’s back on the streets, no longer homeless in a stupor, like Joshua establishing dominion, reaching out to others who are in the condition he left behind.

Being on Jesus’ Team

Guatemala missionary soccer

There’s me going for the ball on a corner kick.

We were losing miserably, but I wasn’t miserable. We were down 4-1 in the first half, which is the kind of score in soccer that usually makes you pray for the end of the match to hurry forward. It’s a humiliation, and I wasn’t humiliated.

In fact, I was downright buoyant! I knew we were going to come back and win. Why? Because I was on Mario’s team.

Iglesia cristiana La Puerta GuatemalaI learned soccer as a missionary at 35 years of age. Mario was a master. He plays dominant soccer. He never gives up. He fixes the problems by scolding the kids (or me). He always comes from behind. I can’t remember the time he lost.

Blogging more than jogging

In the second half, the other team wore out. We started clicking. At the end of the day, we won 8-5. I played horribly, as was to be expected from a guy who’s been blogging more than jogging. But who cares? My team won! Ha!

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After service, we went out on the streets to preach.

So too, when you’re on Jesus’ team, no matter what the score, you don’t worry. You don’t pray for the end of the match to come. You don’t panic. You don’t entertain the stupidity of changing sides. He’ll effect the come-back. He’ll make the adjustments to make the church work. Ha!

And if you play poorly, who cares? You win. Because you belong to the winning team.

Partnerships

Saved gang member

Mario and Alex at the Liceo Bilingue La Puerta today.

When it was his turn to kill in a dark alley, Mario demurred and concocted some excuse. Still, he was a hardcore gang leader.

Meanwhile, Alex got his kicks throwing curve balls that baffled batters in the big leagues of Guatemala. With his young Nicaraguan partner, together they were forming a life with not much direction.

On separate days, both got radically saved by Jesus Christ. They processed through discipleship and became leaders of the Iglesia Cristiana La Puerta. They worked tirelessly, giving their all, everyday. Mario still teaches art in our school. Alex still is assistant pastor and coordinator for the school.

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With the big smile, teacher Banner with 5th and 6th graders. His life too was touched by God. He too has become a key partner in the ministry.

If you want to achieve great things, you’ll need to partner up with other, similarly-minded human beings. Partnership, in the world, maybe conjures the ideas of corporation profits. On the team, it speaks to supporters who help the stars win.

But in the kingdom it means much more: exponential impact and sweet friendship.

Now that I was forced to abandon Guatemala, they carry on the work. I left, Jesus did not.

Liceo Bilingue La Puerta

The lighting was bad, the smile good. My joy is to see kids in a safe harbor school growing up free from pressures to “grow up” too quickly. There is an innocence on these kids.

Partnership in the gospel is one of the greatest blessings in life. Don’t believe the myth of Rambo, one man single-handedly decimating entire armies. With God, it doesn’t work that way. God describes the church as the symbiosis of differently-gifted individuals who benefit each other and achieve vastly more together than any would alone.

The momentum

Christian school in GuatemalaA good chunk of my life went to the mission field — almost 16 years planting churches and a school in Guatemala. It’s been four years since I left, and now that I visit, I see miracles, miracles, miracles. Miracles continue.

These kids have an environment free from bullying, free from cutting, free from drugs, free from pornography, free from so many quicksand pits that are swallowing the lives of our youth.

To be sure, there have been failures. One kid who was expelled is now dead. Another just got out of jail. Another got pregnant out of wedlock. Not all the stories are success.

amazing testimonies

I love Henry. This is his beautiful daughter.

But there are undeniable testimonies of revolutionized lives. One kid unwittingly ran the errands of narcs. He had been kicked out of every school he enrolled prior. Today, he is an upstanding parent and put his girl in our school. Excuse me while tears well up. Jesus did this. I just let my life be used.

It took oodles of prayer and oodles of work, but it was all worth it. And the momentum continues. Miracles of salvation and healing continue. Pray for the Door Church in Guatemala.