Friday, March 01, 2019

January/February 2019 And straightway all the people, when they beheld him, were greatly amazed… Mark 9:15

And straightway all the people, when they beheld him, were greatly amazed… Mark 9:15
Last Sunday morning, Pastor Martín began his message at IBBM-Tepic from Mark 9 with a question: “When was the last time you were absolutely awestruck by God’s presence in your life?” He went on to share the story of the Transfiguration where Peter, James, and John were eyewitnesses of the majestic presence of God incarnate. After this apex of God’s glorious unveiling, they reluctantly returned down the mountain to a conflict with Satanic oppression -- from a foretaste of millennial magnificence to a scene of pain and misery in the body of an agonizing young boy -- a vivid image of the life on earth into which Jesus willingly came for us. And when the crowd recognized Him, they were filled with amazement. Honestly, these past two months have been bursting with incidents in which it was impossible not to marvel at God’s absolute presence. The following samples of His display leave us nothing less than awestruck.
Pastor McKeown invited Martín, Erén, and me to be keynote speakers at the annual mission conference at my sending church, North Village Baptist. That’s easy to say, but it’s nothing short of astonishing to consider God’s marvelous presence in the mission effort that began over 43 years ago on the platform, from which Martín preached, of the very church that sent Kirt and me to Mexico to share the Good News to all who would hear. Using the AWANA motto, Pastor Martín’s Sunday-morning message, based on Matthew 19:13-15, was entitled: Because Kids Matter to God… only one young boy. Martín emphasized that there is nothing better than to bring children to Jesus. Bringing them to the AWANA club or to church is good, but we must bring them, first, to Jesus’ open arms that they may know Him personally. He used the illustration of David and Svea Flood who left for Africa in 1921. Svea brought to Jesus, “only a boy.” It seemed so fruitless. Later, God miraculously used that “only child” to bring his entire village to Jesus. Likewise, God chose to unveil His glory in bringing to Himself young Nacho, who invited his young friend, Martín, to “come and hear.”  The rest of the story is history … and future. 
Recognizing God’s presence does not stop with borders, timelines, or “one young boy.” 

It’s common knowledge that Jacob and Kiki’s son, my grandson, David, battled nearly six years of brutal treatments for his relapsed leukemia. In spite of the announcement that his final CAR-T cell experimental treatment had been a failure, David is miraculously “in remission!” In August, approaching his 7th birthday, he was ecstatic that at last, he would celebrate out of the hospital. That didn’t happen. Just days before, his dad, Jacob, was diagnosed with super-aggressive, B-cell Burkitt Lymphoma; David’s party consisted of a pineapple upside-down cake that he and his mom made to take to his dad’s room at the hospital. It was a celebration of counting it all joy, not having to understand the “why’s,” but instead, choosing not to abort the process of learning steadfastness, with renewed determination to thank Him for this, another gift, and being, once again, absolutely awestruck by God’s presence in our lives. On the third day of the NVBC mission conference, after seven months of horrifically intense chemotherapy and a not-too-favorable prognosis, we got the diagnosis resulting from Jake’s surgical biopsy: “No evidence of disease!” Absolutely awestruck!
Two days after returning from the NVBC 2019 mission conference, Becky, Pastor Nacho and Lorena’s third child, celebrated her 15th birthday. In Mexico, a quinceañera is a big deal. Nacho’s family determined that this celebration would not be to bring glory to them or to Becky, but would give testimony to all who could come, at their open invitation, to witness God’s amazing presence and mighty power in Becky’s life. Becky chose, Guard my Heart, as the theme of for her party. Javier (who, as a young boy came to Jesus in the IBBM OANSA club) and Libertad presented her with a Bible, complete with God’s instructions for guarding her heart. Sebastián and Ely presented Becky with a watch with the admonition to continue to use her time wisely, guarding her heart from the enemy as she embarks on the next stage of life. Fifteen of the young people from IBBM exhorted her one-by-one, each with a memorized passage of Scripture about guarding her heart (and theirs). Her father shared his blessing and words of caution from God’s Word to guard her heart. And the “Lady of the Rings” presented Becky with a heart-shaped promise ring to remind her to guard her heart as God has commanded her and she has learned through faithful teaching. We talked about Lidia, a lady who, like Becky, liked the color purple, one who worshipped God, heard His Word, and whose heart the Lord Himself opened that she might be the first follower of Jesus in Europe. Lydia resolved to guard her heart in a perverse and idolatrous society like Becky’s. Once again, we find ourselves absolutely awestruck by God’s presence as Becky, the beautiful daughter of Nacho (only “one young boy”), proposes and promises to guard her heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.
One thing is sure, in mesmerizing moments of God’s action of unveiling His presence, we are never the main characters. When we, and those around us, behold Him, the contrast of His power and that of the enemy, leaves us greatly amazed, and we can do no less than bow our heads giving Him the glory for what great things He has done.
And straightway all the people, when they beheld him, were greatly amazed…Mark 9:15


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