We continued our study of Acts and read Acts 1:12-25. After Jesus gave His disciples the Great Commission, they traveled to Jerusalem. There were eleven disciples. One of the disciples was Judas, son of James. Who is that? Matthew 10:2-4, “These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Him.” Judas son of James is Thaddaeus, not Judas Iscariot. John 14:22, “Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, ‘But Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world.'”
Peter said, “Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through the mouth of David concerning Judas, who served as a guide for those who arrested Jesus.” What scripture? Psalm 41:9, “Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.”
During the Feast of Passover, Jesus dipped bread and gave it Judas. John 13:26-27, “Jesus answered, ‘It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.’ Then, dipping the piece of bread, He gave it to Judas Iscariot, son of Simon. As soon as Judas took the bread, satan entered into him.”
Jesus knew who was going to betray Him. John 6:70-71, “Then Jesus replied, ‘Have I not chosen you, the twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!’ (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the twelve, was later to betray Him.)”
How did Judas Iscariot die? He hung himself. Matthew 27:5, “So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.” Why did Peter say, ‘there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out?’ What happened? Have you ever seen an animal dead on the road? As it decays, the body bloats. Why? The body decomposes by the bacteria inside the body and it produces gas. The gas causes the bloating. The body of Judas decayed, bloated and it fell causing his body to burst and spill out his intestines.
The bible teaches us not just spiritual things but scientific things as well. As we study His word, we will encounter many examples.
Two men were candidates to be a witness of the resurrection. Joseph called Barsabas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. There is no information regarding these two. The disciples prayed, cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias. Like the disciples, when we have decisions to make, we need to pray and seek God’s will.
Have you ever watched the movie “Hachi.” Our little one wanted to watch it and we invited a few of our boys to come in and watch it with us. The premise of the movie is that a man named Parker Wilson found a lost puppy at the train station and took care of him. The puppy grew and it wanted to be with Parker all the time. They had a strong relationship. Hachi watched his master leave on the train and waited for him to come back. This went on for years. One day, Parker had a heart attack and died. He never came back home on the train. Every afternoon, Hachi waited at the train station for his master. He loved Parker and was very loyal to him. Loyal until death. Hachi died waiting. Then he was reunited with his master.
As I watched this, I kept thinking about our relationship with Christ. We were lost and now we are found. He loves and takes care of us. We follow Him daily. He loves us so much that He has forgiven us of our sins, died and on the third day, He was raised to life. He ascended into heaven and we wait until He returns. And we wait. God’s word says, “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope-the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave Himself tor us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for Himself a people that are His very own, eager to do what is good.”
One day, we will be with our master, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
Lee and Candy
Today we began studying the book of Acts. After the resurrection, Jesus appeared to His disciples to encourage and strengthen them. He reminded His disciples what they must preach. Luke 24:45-47, “Then He opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, ‘This is what is written; The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.'”
Jesus told His disciples, “I am going to send you what my Father has promised.” What did God promise? One of our leaders said, “The Counselor.” Just a sidebar… it is a blessing to see our leaders grow in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. God promised to send the Counselor, the Holy Spirit. John 14:25-26, “All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”
Jesus blessed His disciples, then ascended into heaven.
We continue our journey with our Lord, beginning in Acts. I asked the boys, “Who is the author of Acts?” No one knew, which is one of the reasons why we study God’s word. To teach us. “The book of Acts was written to a man named Theophilus. Where have we heard that name before?” Luke 1:3, “Therefore since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.” Acts was written by Luke.
Jesus told His disciples to wait until they received the gift of the Holy Spirit. John baptized with water, but they will be baptized with the Holy Spirit. We are baptized with water; it is a symbol of our rebirth. Being baptized in water doesn’t save us. We, too, are baptized by the Holy Spirit. Titus 3:1-7, “Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men. At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.”
The Holy Spirit will convict us of sin, righteousness and judgment. John 16:8-11, “When He comes, He will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.”
“The Holy Spirit gives us the power to go out into the world and preach the gospel. Where? Jesus told His disciples, “…and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” For us… we will be His witnesses in San Bartolomé, and in all of Guatemala, and to the ends of the earth.”
And remember, He is with us always, to the very end of the age.
A dear brother in Christ, Beecher, was called home to be with Jesus. When Candy told me, a wave of emotion overwhelmed me. Last time I was back in Tennessee, I visited my friend, and it was just like old times. Before I left, I prayed with him, and he gave an unexpected gift…a wall hanging of three nails, in the form of a cross. It was then wired to a wooden cross. It was a special gift from a special friend. It hangs on our wall here, and it is a constant reminder of what Jesus told Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
I believe. I believe my brother lives. There is a song called “Because He Lives.” It’s a song that comforts me. I know where Beecher is, and one day, I will be with him praising God.
“Because He lives I can face tomorrow
Because He lives all fear is gone
Because I know He holds the future
And life is worth the living just because He lives”
Lee and Candy
We had our bible study and read Matthew 28:16-20. Before Jesus returned to His Father in heaven, He gave His disciples the Great Commission. These words were not the end of His ministry here on earth but the beginning of new ministries. Jesus planted His word in the hearts of His disciples and now they are to go throughout the world and plant the seeds of faith, hope and love in others.
The first thing Jesus told His disciples is that He has total authority in heaven and on earth. Jesus is the Word. He was with His Father from the very beginning. John 1:1-5, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.”
On earth? He healed the sick and paralytic, controlled the wind and seas, changed water into wine, walked on water, fed thousands of people, forgave sin, died, was buried and raised to life. Death has no power or authority. He is the light of the world. 1 John 1:5-7, “This is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you: God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with Him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin.”
This is the reason for the Great Commission. Jesus wanted His disciples to go and make disciples. Our commission is the same. We are not here just to make friends on earth, but to change the world. To teach others about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We have to be careful. Sometimes we can focus on ourselves more than our Lord. The Great Commission can turn into the Great Omission. Jesus didn’t send His disciples to give “their testimony” but to “testify about Him.” To teach others everything they have been taught. To obey, to love and to forgive.
We teach others about the love of the Lord and that we need to believe in Him yet sometimes we do not tell them everything. At times we do not tell them the truth. The reason why He descended from heaven and became man. The reason? Sin. We do not want to hurt the feelings of our family and friends so we change the gospel to be more pleasing to the world and less condemning. We change the truth into a lie.
What is the truth? The truth is that all of us have sinned against our Lord. Romans 3:21-24, “But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”
Because of our sin, we cannot be with Him. Isaiah 59:2, “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear.”
The penalty of sin? Death. Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” This is the truth. This is the reason we need to go and teach others about our Lord. The gospel is the power of God for salvation. Romans 1:16, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.”
Salvation is what all of us need. Yet, salvation from what? Our sin? No, from God. Salvation is being saved from the wrath and judgment of God that all of us deserve for our sin. This means that we will be saved from the penalty of our sin the moment we believe in Him.
Salvation also means faith, hope and love. Salvation is forgiveness, mercy and grace. Salvation is life. Eternal life. To be with Him. Revelation 21:3-4, “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.'”
Jesus said, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” He is with us. He is faithful!
Even though I teach the boys God’s word, I need to disciple more. Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.” We need to do more. I need to do more. This is what the Lord desires.
Please pray for one of our leaders. He had to go to the hospital yesterday and returned late. Initially, they thought it was his appendix, but it wasn’t. He is still under observation.
Tomorrow, Wednesday, Candy was supposed to have her final treatment. However, she became sick over the weekend with symptoms of the flu. Her doctor moved her final treatment to May 3. PLEASE pray for healing. We all miss being together. God is faithful.
Lee and Candy
Last evening, the children had their weekly vigil in the blue building. The boys always look forward to having that time with others, praising the Lord. While they were gone, it gave me some quality time with our little one. I constructed a tent in our living room, popped popcorn, and we watched a movie. Good father/daughter time.
As the father of Vencedores, it is my responsibility to teach the boys about growing up, relationships and sex. Unfortunately, I have not had a discussion with them this year. In fact, I don’t remember if I had a discussion with them last year. Well, I decided that today would be the day. My desire is for them to understand what God desires. God’s word is full of knowledge that many don’t take advantage of. The source of knowledge that many seek comes from friends and movies. If we study and read His word as much as we get advice from our friends, listening to music or watching TV, how much more will we understand who He is, what He has done for us and what He will do? How much more will we understand how much He loves us?
When the boys returned from their activity, they gathered in the sala and I said, “As you grow, the way you look at girls will change. When you are young, you think girls smell and you make fun of them but as you get older, your feelings will change and the way you look at them will be different. As you talk to others or when you watch movies, you feel you have the knowledge and understanding of ‘love.’ Yet, what does God say about love?
“God’s word says, ‘All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.’ God’s word is not just for Sunday. It is for every day of our lives. It is His book of love to us, to help us as we grow and mature. It teaches us about relationships. Relationships between man and woman, between friends, neighbors, authorities but most importantly our relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
“We are supposed to be examples to other believers. 1 Timothy 4:12, ‘Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.’ Understanding what God desires for you starts when you are young. He has a purpose for each of us and as we study His word, He reveals His purpose. His purpose and desire for relationships between man and woman. The best place to start is with Adam and Eve. Genesis 2:24, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.’ God desires for man and woman to be united, to be married and then they will become one flesh. After marriage, they can have sex. Not before.
“So the question is, how do you know if she is the right one? What does God say? Is she a believer? Does she love the Lord? Having God in the middle of your relationship is important. If there is one thing that a husband and wife, and even friendships, should have in common, it is the Lord. 2 Corinthians 6:14-16, ‘Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols?’
“We are a temple of the Lord. We should honor God by living for Him and not the world. The world is selfishness and its only desire is for you to live for yourself. We are to die to self. Colossians 3:5, ‘Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.’
“We need to live a life that is pleasing to the Lord. 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5, ‘It is God’s will that you should be sanctified; that you should avoid sexual immorality: that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God.’ Is this relationship God’s will for you? If it is, are you controlling your body and your passions?
“We know that God desires for man and woman to be married. To control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable. God desires for marriage to be honored by all. Hebrews 13:4, ‘Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.’ Many can read this verse and think that it applies to only married couples. Yet, God says, ‘…and all the sexually immoral.’ If a man and woman are in bed together, they should be married. This honors God.
“When you are young, you think you know all about love. What are the standards of your “love?” What are God’s standards? His standards are the same when it comes to relationships. Relationship with Him and with others. What is the standard? Patience. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, ‘Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.’
“Love is patient. It means that if you truly love someone, then she is worth the wait. Isn’t this the way God feels about us? He loves us so much that we are worth the wait. 2 Peter 3:9, ‘The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.’ True love waits.”
After lunch, I took the boys to the school soccer field to play. Well, some of the boys who have been disrespectful to the teachers and rules at school and in the dorm, helped me do garden maintenance. As a dorm parent, we need to lead by example when it comes to service. If we have no desire to do what we ask of others, who are we to ask? Jesus taught us by example. In prayer, in love, in forgiveness, in service, in humility and in sacrifice.
Lee and Candy
We read John 21:15-25 and talked about Jesus restoring Peter. Every believer has been, or will be, in Peter’s position. We will fail our Lord. We can say, “We love our Lord and will never abandon Him.” However, like Peter, we will deny Him one way or another. Matthew 26:33, “Peter replied, ‘Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.'” We know how that turned out. Peter denied Jesus three times.
Perhaps when have failed our Lord, we feel that we are not worthy. The question Jesus asked Peter, He asks us as well. “Do you love me more than these?” How can we answer that? “Yes, Jesus. I love you more than they love you,” or “I love you more than all of these.” Do I love my ministry, my job, my sports team, my wife and my children more than Jesus?
Jesus uses the words, “Me amas.” It is a term used for agape love. When Peter answered Jesus, he used the words, “Te Quiero.” It is a term used for a strong friendship. Our love for Jesus needs to be more than just a strong friendship. It needs to be agape. It needs to be a sacrificial love. A committed love. We cannot love the world or ourselves more than Jesus.
When Jesus called Peter, He told him that he would make Peter “a fisher of men.” When we are called, we are to be “fishers of men.” We are to go out and make disciples. Yet, our calling is more than just evangelizing, we are to love. We are to pastor, feed and take care of His lambs and sheep. Casa does not just tell the children about the love of the Lord; it is shown…by protecting, teaching, feeding, disciplining, and loving.
Do we truly love the Lord? Feed His lambs. Take care of His sheep.
Our good deed boy is at it again. Funny how he shows up when I’m in the laundry room. I know he does it to get attention and a “treat” but the fact still remains that he tries. We, as adults, have to be honest. Many times we aren’t so different. When the boss is around, people work harder. It is almost comical that I can walk out my door and I immediately hear a leader tell the boys to lower their voices. The leaders want me to hear them doing their job. Yet, we know that it is not man we need to please; it is our Lord. Shout to the Lord! Psalm 145:1-2, “I will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise your name for ever and ever. Every day I will praise you and extol your name for ever and ever.” He is worthy.
Lee and Candy
Yesterday was a little busy in the morning. I needed to go into the city and didn’t get back until the afternoon. We received a new boy, too. He is “new” to us, but not “new” here at Casa. The day before, the director asked if one of the boys from Cometas could transfer to Vencedores. There are some issues that he has and since his brother is in our dorm, it would be good for him. I agreed, and I picked him up and brought him to our dorm. He was a little scared at dinner, little fish in a big pond, but he hung out with his brother after dinner. Please keep him, and of course all our boys, children and staff here at Casa, in your prayers. We plant and water, yet it is our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who will cause growth, in all ways.
If you’re heading to Casa anytime soon and are wondering how to bless the dorms…one way is to bring Shoe Goo. Of course, we have boys and they’re rougher on shoes, but Shoe Goo becomes a necessity at this stage of the game in the school year, for mostly all dorms…male and female alike. We would so appreciate it.
This morning we talked about the third visit of Jesus after His resurrection. After the resurrection, an angel of the Lord spoke to the women. Matthew 28:7, “Then go quickly and tell His disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see Him.’ Now I have told you.” The women did as they were told. Luke 24:9-11, “When they came back from the tomb, they told al these things to the Eleven and to all the others. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense.”
The disciples went to Galilee and Peter told the disciples that he was going to fish. He caught nothing. Jesus appeared on the shore and told them to throw their net on the right side of the boat. They caught a lot of fish.
Remember when Jesus taught His disciples, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. With Jesus, everything is possible. Without Jesus, nothing is possible. When we quote Philippians 4:13, “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength”, sometimes we can be more self-centered than God-centered. “I can do everything” is also to be humble. To acknowledge that maybe my plans aren’t His plans. To accept failure, not as a defeat, but perseverance.
Peter couldn’t catch a fish and it could seem like a failure, but when we continue to be obedient and trust in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, our nets will be full. Full of Faith, Hope and Love. Our lives need to be dependent in Christ alone, not by our own strength.
Like Peter, we need to jump out of the boat and come to Him. Good times, bad times, joy, sadness, praise and forgiveness. Most importantly, to be with Him. Jesus asked Peter, “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Christ.” And us? What do we say? A good teacher? A character in a book? You don’t know? Our answer will reflect what we believe and in whom we place of faith and trust. In God we should always trust.
We received news that one of our boys was able to go home to live with family. He has overcome a lot since he has been here. We pray that it is a good situation and that he will be taken care of. We will miss him and especially his funny smile. He always had that serious look then I would say something goofy like, “You want to be handsome like me one day, right?” He would just give me that funny smile and say, “No!”
Lee and Candy