Internet Archive bookmarks for: despond

Monday, July 27, 2015

How God Drew Me To Himself

Jesus said in John 6:44: "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day."

I recall how at an early age God started to draw me to Himself.

My son recently visited El Salvador and took this picture
of the place our house used to be in Mariona.
I grew up in a one room house made of wood plank in El Salvador. I remember how you could actually look inside through the small gaps in the wood. It had dirt floor, a gas stove in one corner, the bunk bed I slept on in another corner and other beds. When it rained, and it did rain a lot, the rain not only made a loud sound as it hit the aluminum roof but it dripped all over the house. There was no bathroom, running water nor electricity for some time. I enjoyed the freedom I had to explore nature. My day was spent climbing trees, exploring canyons, herding animals, playing soccer, and going to the river. One time, my friends and I decided to go swimming to the river. It had swelled up after the rain and we got in. I didn't know how to swim and when I got in I started sinking and panicking. In my desperation I climbed on one of my friends shoulders and he led me out. It was close call. God was watching over me.

I remember this tree. On the right lived by best friend in
a mud constructed room
Another time, we went to the river and on our way home, I decided to take a different route home. I had no idea what I was doing but I was too proud to follow my friends. I got lost. When my mom got home from working all day at the meat market, she asked where I was and my friends told her what happened. She ran to find me. My recollection is very faint, but my mom told me she found me with a lady eating ice cream. She was gracious enough to keep me safe. I could have been taken by a stranger but God was with me.

Even at this age I was haunted by life after death. I recall waking up several times after dreaming of falling into an endless pit and not knowing what would happen to me. What happens when I die? What happens when my family dies? I had no answers. But God was pursuing me. On two occasions I remember hearing something about God. In one of them I heard preaching but I did not understand. On another occasion, I went to a church and watched a play on Noah's Ark. God continued to plant the seed of the Gospel in me.

When I was in 5th grade, my family moved from a rural area to the city of Mejicanos. We lived in the wood shop my uncle owned. I started attending school. In the middle of the school year, my family decided to leave El Salvador to the United States. It was a long journey. I recall walking passed the school that morning. We rode the bus passed Guatemala until we reached Mexico. There we spent a few months until we were able to come to the United States. It was mid 1981.

The first home we lived in Santa Ana.
When I lived here I started going to church
The next year or so we lived in Orange County, Los Angeles and then back to Orange County. When we came back to Orange County in 1983. It was during my 7th grade when God finally called me to himself. Through a series of circumstances we were invited to a new church in Santa Ana. My mother and a couple of my sisters attended a Sunday morning. There I was met by a boy I knew in school which my friends and I picked on. It was then that I understood that this boy was different. He never fought us back. I felt very bad. We became good friends and eventually best friends up until college. A man who was helping the church took interest in me and picked me up on Sundays to go to church. Our church often brought evangelists to our church for a series of nightly events. One of them was a Alberto Mottesi. He preached a series of nights and on one of those nights God open my heart to understand the Gospel. When He made the invitation I went forward to commit my life to Christ. As I walked out that night, I knew and felt a change in me. There was unspeakable joy. God had called me to Himself. My life found the eternity security I longed for. I knew what would happen to me after death. After 32 years of following Christ, my love for Him continues. It hasn't been easy. There have really tough times but he has proven to be my faithful friend, Savior, and Lord.
You can hear my testimony in Spanish at age 16 here.


The second house where I lived in Santa Ana


At the age of 14 I was baptized by pastor Ray Zuercher

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Rome at Last - Acts 28

After two years, our class has finally finished the book of Acts. It has been a life-changing experience for me. I am grateful for the opportunity to have such a great group of people who love the Lord. All of the audio is found here, you can go to my Itunes podcast and download or just search on this blog under "Acts."

In this last chapter of the book of Acts we find Paul in Malta, then traveling to Rome. Several events happen in Malta and on route to Rome.

This chapter is significant because it closes Paul's ministry to the Jew first and focuses on sharing the Gospel to the Gentiles. It officially starts the Christian church that is separate from Judaism. From here, the church spreads to all the know world. But it has continued for generations until now. The task is now for us to take the Gospel to all nations.

What are some things we learn from this chapter?

1. God will care for His people and provide for their needs.

2. We are God's representatives where ever we go. There is no tome when we are not.

3. We need to be aware of our opportunities to be his instruments to share the Gospel. Don't expect everyone to believe, but expect God to work. Ne ready to extend yourself for the Gospel.

4. Our lives are an encouragement to other believers. Let's be aware of those who need encouragement.

Why does the book of Acts finish here? 

The ending feels like there is no ending. This is true. Paul's ministry to the Gentiles continued and continues today with us. The church continues to fulfill God's calling to take the Gospel to the ends of the Earth. The history of the church will end with Christ's return for his people.

What happened to Paul after this? 

We don't know for certain but Eusebius, a Christian historian (260– 340), tells us (Ecclesiastical History http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/250102.htm) that Paul was released from prison and takes the Gospel to Spain. Upon returning to Rome (between 64-68), he is rearrested. This was the time when Nero has gone mad and blames Christians for the great fire in Rome. Paul is also beheaded by Nero. Just before his martyrdom Paul writes one last letter called 2 Timothy.

2 Timothy 4:6-7 (HCSB Strong's)
"For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time for my departure is close. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."

Paul finished his race faithfully. He poured his life for the Lord.

What about us? How will we finish our race? How much are we willing to give of ourselves?

Below  is the audio recording for Acts 28 taught during our Sunday School hour at Village Bible Church.







Saturday, July 18, 2015

Answered Prayer, Relying on God's Wisdom and Timing

God answers prayer. He doesn't answer the way we think or the way we want Him to answer but He answers. Our calling is to submit to His will. I am reminded when Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane: "And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will." " (Matthew 26:39) He prayed that if it was the Father's will to keep Him from dying on the cross, He would do so but his desire was to do the will of the Father.

There are three requests in my life that illustrates how we pray and need to rely on His wisdom and timing. The first was when I prayed for God to allow us to adopt a little girl. I remember describing her to God. My prayers were fervent and emphatic. On our part, we had been working with our county for over 4 years and we were losing hope. We changed our preferences from one child to two, requiring the little girl to be under 4 and the other sibling to be older. When God answered our prayer He gave us two children, our little girl who was two and our son who was seven. I remember how my request to God was constantly for a girl and He answered. He gave us two children. This was no mistake either. Our sovereign God answered our prayer according to His good purpose and went beyond what I prayed. I needed to rely on His wisdom It is interesting to see how God has used my son to teach me a lot, much that I am still learning.

A couple of years before this when our oldest son was heading for University, I was without a job. Two years had passed and I needed to be working to help him pay his schooling. I prayed that God would give me a good job at a good school. My prayer was also clear that I only wanted to do this a year and then I wanted to be in ministry full time again. Just after our son started his Freshman year, God answered. He gave me a good job at a good school. I finished the first year, and was offered another year which I accepted. In my prayer time with the Lord, I said that since He had not answered my prayer for full time ministry, it was perhaps a good choice to work another year. That year was the worse I have had in all my career teaching. All the struggles during that year led me to realize what I had prayed before. I remembered that it was time to seek full time ministry. God had answered my prayer two years before and yet I had assumed His will for me. I was not relying on His wisdom.

After this I continued to pray for God to lead me back to ministry. I was now without a job again and yet again I took a step to control things. It was past mid school year when I decided to apply for a job. I figured four months would not violate my commitment to serve the Lord full time. I got the job. After the first week of school, I was ready to quit. It was the worse I've experienced in a school. I counted each passing day, prayed fervently, longing for God to allow me to finish.There were many times that I wanted to quit. "I don't need this", I thought to myself. Come June, I couldn't be more relieved. Once again, I had relied on my own wisdom and timing.

But I was still without a place for ministry. So I continued to be assertive and sent out my resume to many places (my written count was fifty-four but it was close to a hundred after I gave up recording them) but I also applied to teaching jobs and went to many interviews, thinking that it was OK with God. After all, if He didn't open the door for ministry, then it must mean it was OK to keep teaching. I got my teaching credential to a State near where my son lives and applied there too. I was tired of sending resumes and filling applications. I had had two interviews. One went on for a year and nothing happened. Then a third one came really fast at me and at the last minute it dissolved in a way I could not explain but left me disillusioned with believers treatment of other believers. But God answered my prayer. Ten months later, God opened a possibility for ministry which I almost didn't take. Two months after I applied for this position I received the first email, then the first interviews. I doubted. This was another "teaser" as I called them. But then things moved forward. Though I wanted to serve the Lord, I realized that I had to pray and let God lead. It was even hard to let my thoughts submit to His Lordship. My job was to trust Him and let Him lead the way. He did. He answered after three years of praying. Now it is clear to me. This was His will. Looking back, there is no way I could have done this. This is the wisdom of God. This was His timing.

When I try things on my own, relying on my wisdom, I fail. When I do things in my time, I fail.
God answers prayer. He answers in His time. Our duty is to submit to His will and wait for his leading. As He starts to lead, we act relying on Him, seeking only His will. We place our lives as a living sacrifice for Him, willing to do as He pleases. As Jesus submitted to the Father in the Garden so should we.