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April 9 / April 16 / April 23 / April 30

April 2, 2017 - Romans 8:28

On our way to Ukraine this Monday, we ran into a rough day. It began with our 747 jet pulling back to the gate because something was "broken". That's not what you want to hear from the pilot when you are getting ready to fly across the Atlantic. This then led us to miss our flight and on top of this, there were baggage issues too. It then domino affected the whole trip leading to missed flight and baggage issues. Frequent travelers on airlines are probably so used to this, but it's still interesting to watch how people behave in such circumstances. By God's grace we had a great trip anyway, albeit a bit longer. At one point, all the people on the plane were waiting for the doors to open so they can get out and try to catch their connecting flights. And of course, being 2-1/2 hours late, pretty much all the connections have left. Everyone was anxious, but all had this quiet negative resolve about them. You can sense them thinking, "there's nothing we can do, and we are at the mercy of an uncontrollable circumstance. Oh well, that's life."

Have you had those thoughts before? You tell yourself there's nothing you can do no matter how much you want to change things. You did everything right, but still the situations are just not good. Some folks may encounter this infrequently while others have accepted it as normal for their lives. For both, but especially for the latter, you never need to get to the place where you are resolved to a bad situation where no good purpose can come out of it. Why? Because God said this, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28) You see, there is never a situation in which nothing but bad will happen, because our God is always in control. If he allows it, there is a good reason. When we experience it, pray through it, walk by faith in it...good results will be there, for the kingdom of God and for us. That's God's promise and as you know, he never breaks them, ever. Looking back at the various little events on that trip, we can see the many blessings, encounters, conversations, and eventual excitement with our arrival in Bucha, Ukraine. Our 5 lives were made better because of the trip. Praise God.

Thank you for keeping Barb (who is leading a women's conference), Hannah, Sharon, Daniel, and myself in your prayers this week.

April 9, 2017 - Serving One Another

It is so good to be back home and worshipping with our church family again. Thank you all for praying for us. We know God heard and answered in so many ways. The women's conference led by Barb was wonderful with a lot of testimonies of how God ministered to their very specific issues. We are so thankful to the Lord for allowing us to be used as his servants in this event.

Now in the midst of all these ladies being very busy were a few "guys". We were there to help logistically handle things...basically to carry and move things around. We went to bring lunch and set up for each break. We made sure that the audio-visual was running well. We went about cleaning up and resetting things, etc. The women at the conference did everything but still some helping hands were really appreciated. The conference was better because of it. And the men had a great time serving and fellowshipping together.

As I look back at the event, I was reminded at what Paul said in I Corinthians 12:7, "Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good." His point was that God gave Spiritual gifts to each person for the good of the whole church. Although spiritual giftedness is not required for servanthood, we can see how getting involved and serving one another is such a blessing and gives glory to God. The church is blessed and the events are better as people serve willingly and with joy.

Next week is Easter week. I hope you have a wonderful week as you contemplate on what the Lord has done in our lives.

April 16, 2017 - More Than A Nice Holiday

I am celebrating today the 47th Easter as a child of God. Each and every Resurrection Sunday I am overwhelmed by the tremendous gratitude I have in my heart for the love God has for me and the amazing sacrifice Jesus made so that my sins can be forgiven and I can have eternal life. I am also quite annoyed at how the world has both commercialized it for economic gains and how it has denigrated it into nothing more than one of many holidays we have in a calendar year. Easter is so much more than that. Jesus resurrecting from the dead means everything for humanity. Every bit of pain and sadness in life, all the terrors and horrors of this world, the unending sickness and hopelessness that never seem to go away... well, Jesus' resurrection solved all of them. Death's invincible power with all of its consequences, they are all defeated. Hope for man rose when the stone was rolled away. Easter gave us more than a nice holiday, more than a delicious family meal and some gifts. Easter gave us the possibility to stand before the God of the universe fully justified, all our sins forgiven and a promise for eternal life in heaven. What a great event to celebrate! And for the 47th time, I am rejoicing personally because Jesus lives and Easter happened.

It is so good to have you here today. Worshipping with God's people on Resurrection Sunday is a great honor and privilege. If you are visiting, we hope you will be blessed by the folks at CBC. If you are looking for a church family, we welcome you. If you are searching for a Savior, we hope you will meet Jesus today. Know that God loves you.

April 23, 2017 - Be The Best Reason

Have you ever felt pressured to do something you don't want to do? Maybe you went to a "timeshare presentation" or you were at a used car lot. The folks talking to you are telling you how much you really need this thing. You either don't want it or just don't want to buy it now. But the salesman is so good at selling it to you and you end up doing something you regretted later. It happened to us this week at a furniture place. We didn't buy it, but we were pretty mad about the experience for a few minutes even after we drove away from the place. That's why most people don't like salesmen, especially those who keep pushing you because we know they only care about the sales, not about you. Sometimes I think that's how some people may see us when we tell them about our faith in Jesus. Now I think most of this can be traced to the world's narrative that Christians are selfish, hypocritical and just want your money. But maybe we can be more pro-active in how we share Christ with others.

I love the illustration that Jesus uses about who we are. In Matthew 5:13-14, Jesus said to us, "You are the salt of the earth...You are the light of the world..." Both are things that attract people. Then he said if we lose our saltiness or our light gets hidden under a bowl... well, we are no longer effective. The Lord is telling us that we are the ones who can attract the people of this world to Him and to His love. We don't need to be the best salesman for the gospel. We just need to be the best magnet to bring people to Christ. When we share our lives with others, showing them the transformative powers of God's love, declaring it openly and joyfully, people will be drawn to Him. It has happened for 2,000 years and it will continue. You can be the best reason why people will give their lives to Jesus. Keep that in mind.

April 30, 2017 - "Remain in Me"

I have been doing some research on termites this week. Living in Houston will require some knowledge on the multitude of insect populations also living here. I discovered that termites are pretty common in this great city and homeowners better be wary of them. As I searched more about them, I found that one of the most effective treatments against infestation is a chemical called "Fipronil". Along with all the other insecticides that can kill these little creatures, this one may be the best. It was discovered and produced by a French chemical company named Rhône-Poulenc in 1987 and has been used widely for the annihilation of many insects, but especially termites. The key is that the victims cannot detect it and don't know they are being infected with a poison. They then come into contact with others and eventually the whole colony dies. You see, the key ingredient is its stealth ability. This deception is what works the best. As a result, a gallon of this stuff can cost near $200, whereas the other stuff may be $10.

I was listening to a speaker who said that an open hole in the road is something we would all avoid. But a hole that is covered up and made to look normal... well, many will fall into that one. Deception is dangerous in any circumstance, but especially in the spiritual realm. How many things have we been involved in that had not been good, but we didn't know it until it was too late? II Corinthians 11:14 describes Satan this way, "...for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light." So you and I are always being targeted for deception by the enemy. It is just how he works to ruin our testimonies, our plans, and our lives. We need to know that. Now the great thing is that God is at work in our lives too. If we walk with him, enabled by the power of the Holy Spirit, and go to him in prayer and for guidance, we can detect and avoid his efforts at ruining us. Jesus said in John 15:4, "Remain in me, as I also remain in you." Let me tell you, don't ignore this command. Otherwise we may end up like those termites, being infected and then infecting others with poisons that would destroy us. God has something far better than that for you and me.