Thursday, July 30, 2009

Guatemala Update

We had an outstanding time in Quetzaltenango with the leadership training conferences on Tuesday and Wednesday, returning to Guatemala City late in the afternoon yesterday. Both Verlyn and Janis did a wonderful job with their teaching times and the contents of their talks were very well received. As always, there were a large number of questions and comments by the workshop participants. They really do enjoy interacting with the conference leaders on these trips.

I didn't verify an actual number of participants at this event, but I would judge we were right at the number of 80 which is upper limit that we've placed on the conferences--mainly from the standpoint of budget concerns. In addition to covering the cost of lodging, food, and the conference room space itself, we also provide some books each time to help these pastors and lay leaders expand their libraries with some good materials that will help them in their ministries.

I never cease to be moved by the expressions of gratitude and appreciation that our Guatemalan brethren share with us for having provided these training events. We've actually done 6 of these to this point (I think I mistakenly said 7 in an earlier post), and each time has been a tremendous blessing. Most of the pastors and leaders have attended all 6 of the sessions though we do pick up a new church or group of leaders from time to time, or a church opts to send some different leaders to accompany their pastor for the training.

The hugs, kisses, etc. as we leave are always part of an emotional farewell until we get together again six months down the road. I'm extremely grateful for the BGCM and the Baptist churches in Missouri that make these trips and training events possible. I don't think that perhaps we'll know this side of heaven just what all has been accomplished through these conferences. I do know that I consistently hear testimonies from the pastors and leaders who attend that the topics and themes that we cover have always been timely and apropos to the situation in which their congregation finds itself, so they've been able to implement the teachings in their local setting.

Today we're off to Antigua for some sightseeing before flying home early tomorrow morning. We'll probably be up around 4:00 a.m. to get to the airport in time for a 7:00 flight out, assuming it's on time. The other thing we're doing this morning before heading to Antigua is visiting the Tabitha Ministry that Carol, our partnership liaison has with the women and their children who live near the city dump here in Guatemala City. We have brought a couple of suitcases stuffed with children's and baby clothes for the ministry and will have a chance to deliver that to them.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Guatemala Bound

Monday afternoon I'll be heading southward again for the latest round of leadership training conferences with Guatemalan pastors and lay leaders. We anticipate a good crowd of close to 80 to be in attendance this time. Accompanying me will be the children's minister from our church, Janis Mansker, and a BGCM colleague, Verlyn Bergen. Both bring a lot of expertise in their fields and undoubtedly will make a significant contribution as conference leaders. For this occasion, I'm going to just fill the role of translator for their workshops. Janis has been to Guatemala previously when we went in February 2008 for a week-long missions trip to Cantel and did VBS, spoke in public schools, and conducted leadership conferences for four area churches. This will be Verlyn's first trip with us to Guatemala.

It will be a quick trip this time--down on Monday, driving out to Quetzaltenango on Tuesday morning in order to arrive in time for lunch and then 3 sessions that day. Wednesday we wrap up with two more sessions and will be heading back to Guatemala City late that afternoon. We'll do some sightseeing in Antigua on Thursday before winging our way home on Friday. These are kind of whirlwind trips, but it enables church staff members to make a meaningful contribution as a conference leader while not having to miss out on services and responsibilities in their own churches. If you stumble by the blog and have read down this far, please remember us in prayer this coming week as we minister in Guatemala. Thanks!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Getting Your Goat

I can’t attest 100% to the accuracy of the following, but I ran across an interesting explanation of the phrase “to get someone’s goat.” You’ve probably heard or maybe even used that phrase before, though it seems to be fading out of common usage today. The phrase supposedly originated from the practice of the owners of racehorses keeping a goat as a stable companion for their horse. With both being herd animals, the goat presumably had a calming influence on the racehorse and kept him from being excessively jittery. If you owned a competing horse and wanted to improve your odds of winning, you would steal the competitor’s goat so as to upset the horse and make it run a poor race. From this practice, the phrase came to describe the action of doing something to upset another person—to get their goat.

What is it that most frequently “gets your goat?” What is the usual source of irritation that provokes you to become upset? The answer to those questions will of course vary from person to person, but it’s worth asking ourselves what it is that we allow to disturb and disrupt our peace of mind. Sometimes the provocation is something over which we have absolutely no control. At other times, perhaps we can identify the source of the conflict and thus not put ourselves in the same situation so as to experience those distressing feelings.

While we may not always be able to control the source of the irritation, we still can choose how we will respond to the irritant. We read in Prov. 15:1, “a gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” That’s great advice if the source of conflict is another person’s words. But what about when it’s just the circumstances of life that upset us? It’s then that we claim the promise of Jesus when He said, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; do not let your heart be troubled” (Jn. 14:27). His supernatural peace can be ours as we daily trust in Him.

(The above post comes from an article I wrote for our Senior Adults' monthly newsletter).

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Summer Adult Bible Study Series

This summer I resurrected an event that I had conducted my first 4 summers on staff here. For whatever reason, last summer I failed to lead what at that time we were promoting as an Adult Vacation Bible School. I was scolded by some of my senior adults (very nicely of course) for not having offered it because they told me they really missed it. I have to confess that I missed it as well. Each summer it's been one of the highlights of the entire year to get together each evening of one week (actually we go Monday through Thursday night) and study a book of the Bible.

I suppose the format is similar to the days when January Bible studies were common in Southern Baptist life, only we choose to do it in the summer. In the past years we've studied Romans, Colossians, James, and 2nd Timothy. I have to confess that Romans was a real challenge to cover in four nights. I much prefer taking a shorter book where you can at least spend one evening looking at a chapter or so. In previous years, we split the evening in two parts with either a missionary report from a team that had recently gone on a missions trip, a musical program, or other speaker, followed by refreshments, followed by the Bible study time.

This year I've decided with the name change to simplify the format as well. We are studying 1 John this year and my plans are to take about 45-50 minutes each night to cover the Bible study portion and then being good Baptists, we have to have some refreshments and fellowship time afterwards. Last night it was cookies and brownies. Ice cream is on the agenda for this evening and then cakes and pies on Wednesday night. By Thursday, we'll try to both wrap up the study of chapter 5 and finish off whatever leftover desserts there are by that time.

We had a good group of about 80 in attendance last night. That number down just a bit from previous years, but it's still a wonderful group to show up mid-summer to study the Scriptures together. I am energized by the teaching opportunity as well as the gift of teaching is the one that God seems to have most blessed me with to serve His church.

Next week it's off to Guatemala once more for another round of leadership training classes with pastors and lay leaders in the western region. Our children's minister will be joining me as a conference leader as well as a colleague with the BGCM who leads out in the area of church relations. It should be another exciting week of ministry and fellowship with these pastors whom I've come to love deeply.

Saturday, July 04, 2009


I've been pretty remiss about posting anything on my blog for the past few weeks. Life has been pretty busy and I've been working on several projects simultaneously. With summer, my wife isn't teaching and has had a rather lengthy honey-do list to do. I'm also trying to get prepared for a week-long summer adult Bible study series on the book of 1 John. Last year I didn't do one of these for the first time since I've been on staff here and there was a clamor to resume the activity this year. I've also been translating the outlines for the conference leaders for the next trip to Guatemala which is scheduled for July 27-31.

Finally, the biggest time-consumer has been working on the church history project in an attempt to write a church history and get it published in time for our 150th anniversary celebration next spring. Reading through and taking notes on 150 years of minutes when the church met monthly for business meetings represents a huge undertaking and a lot of time invested. It's been an interesting process and I've still get a ways to go. I'm up to 1981 in the minutes now. When I finish the minutes, there are still other sources to research including our church's newsletter which has been published since the 1940s or so.

I'm afraid my posting is still likely to be sporadic due to these projects, but I'll try to do a brief update from time to time. Thanks to those who stop by occasionally or frequently to check on updates.