Love

There is a phrase…”Distance makes a heart grow fonder.”  I can honestly tell you that when God is in the middle of your relationship, “Distance makes a love grow stronger.”  It is during times of separation that you realize who and what is important in your life.

I have heard that, “Missing someone is a part of loving them.  If you are never apart, you’ll never know how strong your love is.”  This love is only because of God.  He is love and He has given us a gift of love…a love that grows everyday and fills our once empty heart.  He has given us “Faith, Hope and Love.  But the greatest of these is Love.”  Without love, we are nothing.  “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.”

What is love?  Jesus loves us so much that He will wipe away our tears even after He was left hanging on the cross for our sins.  That is love, and He will always be the example of the love our Father in heaven has for us.  When we study the life of Jesus, we understand what love is.  “Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, 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 a relationship…a husband and wife, parent and child, teacher and student, coach and player, shepherd and flock, boss and employee, dorm parent and children.  When we love as much as our Lord loves us, we know what love is and our relationship grows.

Love is not by birth, it is quality time spent with those in our lives.  When we spend time with a son/daughter by birth or by adoption, it shows how much we love them.  As a parent, the best gift we can give our children is our presence in their lives.

Love is sacrifice.  When we place others ahead of us, we love.  Love is not selfish, it is selfless.  God loves us so much; He gave His One and Only Son for the forgiveness of sins so we can restore our relationship with Him and be with Him.

Love is forgiveness.  Even the hardest hearts can be broken with love.  “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  We forgive because we are forgiven.

Distance makes a love grow stronger.  Every time Candy and I are separated, a sadness fills my heart yet it is never empty because of our love for each other.  When Jesus left His disciples, He gave them a promise and filled them with His love, the love of the Holy Spirit.  The promise?  He would return.  Faith, Hope and Love.  Until He returns, our Faith, our Hope and our Love grows stronger.  It is no different with Candy and me.

We celebrated a birthday today.  No, I didn’t forget this time.  He turned thirteen today.  He has a younger brother here, and it is wonderful to see them together, playing and loving each other.  He had an “all you can eat” hot dog meal, yet we have learned that four seems to be the limit. The dorm was filled with the smell of cupcakes.  His sister reminded me of his birthday every time she saw me at the school, and I reminded her that she would get a cupcake and her eyes lit up.

We bless because we are blessed.  We forgive because we are forgiven.  We love because we are loved.  We live because He lives.  Love never fails.

All His,

Lee and Candy

 

Forgiveness

It happened again!!!  I forgot to celebrate the birthday of one of the boys.  I can only imagine how he felt as we celebrated other birthdays but not his.  Ugh! He didn’t say anything to me that it was his birthday.  I walked over to the school and apologized to him and told him that we will be celebrating TODAY.  He had a slight grin.  He will have a special meal consisting of hot dogs, chips and a drink, cupcakes and a bag of candy at night and he will give his sisters a cupcake at dinner to celebrate his birthday.  Afterward, I double checked the list to make sure I didn’t miss anyone else.

When you come and visit, you will notice a few new cement ramps around Casa.  Felipe and his workers are making it easier for those in wheelchairs to get around.  We are blessed with a godly worker like Felipe and his desire to serve.  Thank You, Lord.

My quote for the day is by Fred Luter, “Once you have been reconciled to God, you have no problem with being reconciled with others.”  Isn’t that the truth?  This morning was an example.  I found out that one of our boys wasn’t honest with us about an incident that took place, so I went over to the school to talk with him.  We had a good conversation, but I wanted him to understand how much it hurt us when he wasn’t truthful.  I told him, “God placed us here to love you, take care of you, teach you, protect you and to discipline you.  We are family and you have to remember, family isn’t just by birth, it is by how much quality time we spend with each other everyday.”  Before I left, he apologized and we hugged and I said, “I forgive you.”  Isn’t this the way God desires us to love and forgive each other?  We love because He first loved us and we forgive because we are forgiven.  He is worthy!

All His,

Lee and Candy

Humility

My devotional this morning is a quote from C.S. Lewis, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself but think of yourself less.”  Isn’t that the truth?  It is written, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.  Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

Pride says, “I am right!”  Humility says, “What is right?”  The problems we have in ministries, churches, families, jobs and life in general all come down to pride and humility.  I know I haven’t been the best example for humility, especially when I believe that I am right. It is not whether I am right or wrong, it is “what is right.”  Think of ourselves less.  As we get older, we get set in our ways and don’t desire to change our thinking.  But, what does God’s word say?  Romans 12:2, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.”

The world says, “I am right.”  A renewed mind says, “What is right?”  Think of ourselves less.  Romans 12:3, “For by grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.”  Humility.

Do we want healing in our relationships?  In our church, ministries, families, jobs and life in general?  Then we need to humble ourselves.  2 Chronicles 7:14, “…if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

If there is any encouragement, it is our Lord.  We need to humble ourselves and imitate the humility of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Philippians 2:1-4, “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”  Am I there yet?  No. But He is still molding me into the man He desires me to be.  He’s the potter, and I’m the clay.

Candy arrived in the states safely and stayed with friends in Knoxville.  She said it was the smoothest flight she has been on.  Thank you for praying.  Now, she needs to get back on that plane and fly back home!  We miss her.  😉

Josue reported that there was an earthquake in Mexico.  Reading the news, over 200 people were reported killed and many are still trapped in collapsed buildings.  The US was devastated by hurricanes and now Mexico with a 7.1 earthquake.  Yet, during crises like these, we hear and witness the love and compassion for others.  Please pray for the families and all the volunteers in Mexico and the US.

All His,

Lee and Candy

 

God owns the Victory

My Good Words For Today was by Ray Pritchard, “God does not need vast numbers to do his work. We have heard it said that ‘God plus one is a majority.’ It is nothing with Him to win the victory by many or by a few. Often it seems that our Lord prefers to go into battle with a ragtag army of unqualified soldiers so that when the battle is over and the victory won, he alone gets the glory.”

It reminded me of Gideon.  Gideon had 32,000 men to fight the Midianites and God said, “You have too many men.  They might think they won the victory by themselves, and not give Me the credit.”  Pride.  The downfall for many churches, ministries, companies and sport teams.  It is not the numbers that gives victory but obedience and doing His will.

Casa is an example.  It is lacking in dorm parents and the numbers of children and teams have dropped.  Yet, we cannot doubt the Lord and His purpose and provision.  Like Pastor Pritchard said, “God does not need vast numbers to do His work.”  He will reduce the numbers and victory will still be His.  Mega churches, mega ministries don’t mean mega faith.  Did God say we can move mountains with mega faith?  Jesus said, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘move from here to there’ and it will move; Nothing will be impossible for you”

We need to continue to fight the good fight.  The good fight of faith.  1 Timothy 6:12, “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”

As I am typing this, I am listening to Casting Crowns, “You Are The Only One.”  They sang,

“Who can right every wrong
You are the only One
Who can calm every storm
You are the only One
You alone are Father, Savior, Spirit, Healer, Redeemer
Lord of all
You are the only One.”

He is the only One.  Storms in our life, spiritual battles, illness, loneliness, stress and uncertainty…  He is the only One.  Walking with Him and not walking away.  He is the only One.  We are overcomers because of our faith.  1 John 5:4-5, “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”

Please keep all of us in your prayers.  We are thankful for all of you and we love you.

All His,

Lee and Candy

 

God is Love

This morning I talked to the boys about 2 Timothy 2:11-13, “Here is a trustworthy saying: ‘If we died with Him, we will also live with Him; if we endure, we will also reign with Him.  If we disown Him, He will also disown us; if we are faithless, He will remain faithful, for He cannot disown Himself.”

“When we die with Him, Paul isn’t talking about a physical death but death to sin.  We have talked before about dying to sin and being alive in Christ.  Romans 6:1-4, ‘What shall we say, then?  Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?  By no means!  We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?  Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?  We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.’  When we die to sin, our old self was crucified with Him, buried with Him and now we’re alive in Him.  When we die to sin, we will live with Him.  Romans 6:8, ‘Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him.’  When we live for Him and with Him, we live to God.

“When we profess our faith to God and die to sins, it doesn’t mean that we will live a life free of sins.  Our life will be different, and there is no excuse.  Paul said, ‘Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?  By no means!  We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?’  We will have problems and difficulties in our lives yet we can overcome them because of our life in Christ.  John 16:33, ‘I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.’  Being a Christian and standing up for your faith isn’t easy yet when we endure, we will be blessed.  James 1:12, ‘Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.’

“God is love, and He is just.  When we are comfortable in our sins and have no desire to change or live a life to God, then we will not have life.  If we reject Him, then He will reject us.  Matthew 10:32-33, ‘Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven.  But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.’  Many ‘disciples’ could not accept the teaching of Jesus and chose not to follow anymore.   Remember we need to confess and believe.  If we disown Him, it is because we do not believe in Him.  We do not love Him.  We have no desire to do His will.  No desire to repent.  Peter said, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.  We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.’

“When we are His, even when we fail, He is faithful.  How many times did Peter deny Jesus?  Three times.  Yet Jesus is faithful and He forgave and reinstated Peter.  We need to ask ourselves the same question that Jesus asked Peter.  ‘Do you truly love me?’  Love never fails.  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.  Loves does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.’”

Candy is returning to the states for a short period of time, so Jim and Kate will be ministering to the boys in our absence.  We pray for strength and patience and obedience.  Please pray for all of us.  The road has been difficult, but we are so blessed.  The things we teach our boys are not just for them, but for us as well.  We can be faithless when we have struggles, doubts, fears and difficulties and question the love of the Lord and His plans for us. Yet He is faithful, He is love and He is our hope.  How can we not love Him?

Candy made a huge pot of gumbo for the leader meal.  It was delicious.  The boys?  I don’t think you could wipe the smiles off their faces.  They looked at it and said, “Que Rico!”

At night we played a game with the boys.  It is similar to “Let’s Make a Deal,” but not.  We put gifts in three different drawers. We drew names and the boys had to pick a drawer to receive their “mystery” gift.  Some were good gifts while others were not so good.  I guess we could call the game “Ohhhh” because that is what the boys yelled when they saw each gift.  The boys got soccer balls, candy, Gatorade, hats, puzzles, watches, marbles, ice pops and one lucky boy got a “My Little Pony.”  He didn’t seem thrilled, but he got a laugh out of it.  It was a great night!

Afterward, we gathered together and prayed over Candy.  Our little one prayed first, then our oldest leader.  The boys surrounded Candy and hugged her.  Please pray for safe travel and no turbulence. We love because He first loved us.  We love you Lord!!!

All His,

Lee and Candy

 

God’s Masterpiece

God’s Canvas…a Masterpiece!

This morning as we set up for breakfast, something caught my eye.  Beauty.  Heaven is God’s canvas, and we can only marvel and be humbled by His masterpiece of love.  Thank You, Lord!!!

After breakfast, we met in the sala and I said to the boys, “Today is Independence Day, and I don’t know a lot about the history of Guatemala but I know a few facts so let’s see what you know…

“Why do you celebrate Independence Day?”  The boys said, “Freedom from Spain.”  Spain governed for almost 300 years, 1523-1821.

“Who was the explorer that subdued the area known today as Guatemala?”  The boys knew the answer, Pedro De Alvarado.

“Where was the capital of Guatemala?”  Can’t fool them.  They said, “Antigua.”

“Why is it in the City of Guatemala today?”  They knew their history.  “Because an earthquake destroyed the capital, and it was moved to Guatemala City.”

Three weeks after Mexico gained their independence from Spain, Guatemala gained their independence…September 15, 1821.

“Guatemala celebrates its independence with the running of the torch.  Who started this tradition?”  They did not know.  The wonders of Internet.  The night before Guatemala gained its independence, Maria Dolores Bendoya, ran through the streets of Guatemala City carrying a lantern symbolizing hope.

“During the week, we witnessed the pride of Guatemala.  The food, the dancing, the art, the National Anthem and the parades.  All of you did a wonderful job.

“This week, we have been studying freedom, too.  Freedom from what?  Sin.  Romans 6:18, ‘You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.’  Sin is whatever thought, action or attitude that is disrespectful to the holiness of God.  Romans 3:23, ‘… for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.’

“God’s word says, ‘Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires’  What does God desire?  ‘Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to Him as instruments of righteousness.’

“There is a phrase that I learned when I was young, ‘Freedom isn’t free.’  You have to pay the price  You have to sacrifice.  For your liberty.  Who paid the price?  Jesus.  Who sacrificed His life?  Jesus.  Why?  For our liberty.  Liberty from sin.  He is worthy!!!  Oh, how much we love Him!!!”

Four of our boys are a part of the parade.  They performed yesterday and today they are marching in the parade in San Bartolomé.  We are so proud of them and all the children.  It has been a wonderful week of celebration and pride.

All His,

Lee and Candy

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