Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Request for support for our mission trip to Ecuador - July 9-16, 2016

Dear Friends and Family, 

I am excited about traveling to Ecuador this summer to help give people clean drinking water!  I have participated in four mission trips to Ecuador in the past five years to help provide people with clean drinking water. Our church in El Paso, Paseo Christian (, has partnered with Iglesia de Christo Iberoamericana (ICI) (, a local church in El Recreo (,-79.8046585,3261m/data=!3m1!1e3?hl=en), which is about half an hour east of Guayaquil, Ecuador ( 

Our previous teams ( have distributed microfiltration systems ( house by house to nearly 400 families.  These filters are designed to provide bacteria-free water for 5-10 years, which will save these families about ten percent of their monthly income typically spent on purchasing purified water (in addition to the cost of medical treatment and lost work due to waterborne diseases).  By partnering with ICI, we are able to bless the local community and provide long-term relational connections between people of the community and the local church.  Following up from our previous trips, the local church has hosted children's soccer tournaments, provided marriage seminars, and started Bible studies in many homes.  Over time, these Bible studies grow into house churches, and they begin multiplying throughout the local community.  Our prayer is that this partnership will help us all be salt and light in our local communities and around the world.

We have planned an upcoming trip July 9-16, 2016, and our goal is to distribute filters to another 75-100 families.  Thirsty People ( has already agreed to sponsor the purchase of the filters, but our team still needs support in several ways.  First, our goal is for each person on our team to have seven prayer partners praying for the preparation for our trip and praying for us daily during our trip.  If you would like to commit to pray for me and our team, please reply to this email and let me know.  Second, each team member needs to raise funds for airfare (~$1300) and room and board (~$500).  If you would like to support me financially, you can give online with a credit card or electronic check (, and please choose the "Missions Fund" option), or you can mail a check to:

PO Box 960218
EL PASO, TX-79996

Please include "Ecuador" in the Memo field, and no gift is too small. (Paseo is a registered non-profit, so financial gifts to Paseo are tax-deductible.)

I am also very excited about this trip because four UTEP Engineering students are going with me.  I believe that this is an opportunity to inspire them to devote their lives to showing people the love of Christ by helping people get clean water.

Thank you for reading this email and for prayerfully considering how God may lead you to support our trip.  Please don't hesitate to call or email me if you want to find out more details about this ministry.


Jesus commands us to heal the sick

Heal the sick who are there and tell them, 'The kingdom of God has come near to you.'
Luke 10:9 NIV

When Jesus sent out the seventy two, preaching the Gospel was inextricably connected with healing the sick. This command was not limited to only the Twelve, nor to only those with a gift of healing. I grew up appreciating the urgent command to share the Gospel, but today, I feel the same compulsion to learn how to heal the sick, so that I can obey Christ.

Heavenly Father, thank you for including us in your work.  I know that you give us the resources and power to obey you in faith, so I trust that you will teach me how to heal.  Lord Jesus, I want to follow you.  Holy Spirit, guide me and empower me.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Testimony of forgiveness

Yesterday, I preached on forgiving when you are hurt, and Brandi shared her testimony of forgiving me.  I felt like this was a significant message that God gave us to share, a message of hope, healing, and freedom.  And I felt like God used Brandi's testimony to get inside people's hearts to see how God can, step-by-step, lead someone through the process of forgiveness.

At the end of the service, several ladies went to Brandi for prayer, and it was so encouraging to see Brandi shepherd them into the grace of God. 

Heavenly Father, thank you for the opportunity to share your message of hope, healing, and freedom.  Lord Jesus, thank you for your pioneering work of forgiveness and restoration.  Holy Spirit, thank you for your presence and ministry in our gathering yesterday. Please continue to work in our hearts this week, and use us to share your grace and power with others.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Answered prayers

Yesterday morning, Cesar (one of the PhD students working with me) received two great offers for a post-doc!  This is a direct answer to prayer.  I have been asking God to provide a good post-doc opportunity for him, and our good Father opened two doors!  I am so excited for Cesar, and I am so thankful that the Lord has provided for Cesar and his family.

Heavenly Father, thank you for answering my prayers and providing for Cesar.  Lord, please continue to guide him and bless him.  I ask in the name of Jesus.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Farm boy

This morning, I read the story of David facing Goliath.  Saul made him try on his armor, but David realized that wasn't him.  David didn't need armor; he knew who he was.  He was a shepherd boy.  And then Goliath mocked David for being a boy and for carrying his shepherd staff.  I can just picture a young boy standing there humbly yet boldly facing that giant man who would dwarf the World's Strongest Man.  David was unashamed.

Maybe for the first time this morning, I embraced the reality that I am just a farm boy, and that is enough.  God has given me many opportunities, but I have been so worried about pedigree and how people perceive me.

This morning, I had the privilege of serving as a judge at a water treatment technology design competition sponsored by Rice.  Student teams from Carnegie Mellon, Texas A&M, UTEP, Lamar, Virginia Tech, and Rice.  Like Dean Kaman says in his Slingshot autobiography/documentary, water in developing countries is like a Goliath. 

Today, I felt the freedom to just be myself.  I don't have to worry about how other people perceive me.  Sure, I am just a farm boy, but it isn't about me; it is about how powerful my God is and the victories that He will accomplish through me.  As I sat there in my hotel room reading this classic story, I was overcome with a realization of the freedom of being who God made me and trusting in His power.  I think I had a significant breakthrough this morning.  Gazing at God and glancing at Goliath, not visa versa.

God continues to open doors for me.  He continues to set me up in more battles.  He is glorified as I step forward in humble boldness, believing that He will give the victory.

Heavenly Father, thank you for who you made me.  I don't have to be anyone else, and I don't have to worry about what anyone else thinks of me.  I can be me.  You want me to be me.  I will be humble, and you will show your power and give me victory.  Lord Jesus, you are the humble Man who won the greatest victory, and I will be an overcomer like you.  Holy Spirit, thank you for your presence and power.  I want more.  Take me deeper with you.  Use me more.  May I be useful for others to receive the Living Water.  I pray in the name of Jesus.

Thursday, April 14, 2016


1 Samuel 16:12-13 NIV
So he sent for him and had him brought in. He was glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features. Then the LORD said, "Rise and anoint him; this is the one."  So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the LORD came powerfully upon David. Samuel then went to Ramah.

In the Old Testament, the priests and prophets were anointed, so when they anointed, I think they were sharing their anointing of the Spirit.  I was thinking about the New Testament disciples laying hands on people to give the anointing (baptism) of the Holy Spirit after Pentecost.  I think of it like a cascade of anointing.  I want to be in the middle of the cascade - receiving anointing and sharing anointing.

Heavenly Father, thank you for the presence and anointing of your Holy Spirit.  Thank you for working your powerful goodness in our lives.  I love you, and I want to listen and be obedient to your voice today.  I ask in the name of Jesus, the Christ, the Anointed One.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Hearing God's voice

1 Sam 3:8 A third time the LORD called, "Samuel!" And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, "Here I am; you called me." Then Eli realized that the LORD was calling the boy. 9 So Eli told Samuel, "Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, 'Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.' " So Samuel went and lay down in his place. 10 The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, "Samuel! Samuel!"  Then Samuel said, "Speak, for your servant is listening."
If Samuel's instinct was to go report to Eli, then I think he heard God speaking to him audibly.  The presence of God came and stood there with Samuel.  Woudn't it be awesome if God would do that today?

Wait.  Maybe He does.

16 ... this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
17" 'In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. 18 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.

Joel (and Peter) said that God will pour out His Spirit on ALL people. That includes me.  And they will prophesy.  I think that means that we will hear God, and we will share what He said with others.

I want to daily open myself to hearing God's voice and being ready to share what He said.

Heavenly Father, thank you for the example in your Word of you visiting Samuel and speaking to him.  Thank you for the promise of the outpouring of your Spirit and your spoken word.  Lord God, we love you, and we want to know you.  We want to hear you and share your thoughts with others.  Lord, please speak to me.  I pray in the name of Jesus.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Quid pro quo

Judges 11:30-31 NIV
And Jephthah made a vow to the LORD: "If you give the Ammonites into my hands, whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites will be the Lord 's, and I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering."

I realize that God had instituted a religious law of blessing contingent on obedience, but I think that Jephthah's vow was neither necessary nor desirable by God.  The only human sacrifice that God required was Jesus.

Sometimes it is tempting for us to make a deal with God, but I don't recall any New Testament examples of getting God to do something.   I think in the age of grace in which we live, we simply ask for more grace. 

Heavenly Father, I praise you because you are gracious.  Lord Jesus, thank you for your abundant grace.  Holy Spirit, thank you for continuing to bless.  Lord, may I press in to ask you for more, confident that you will give because you are the Good Father, and I am your son.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Hiking the ridgeline

Last Friday, my colleague John led me on a hike of the El Paso mountain ridgeline from Scenic Drive to Transmountain.  We covered over eight miles in a little over eight hours, averaging just over one mile per hour.  Something like 3700 feet of total ascent and 1200 feet of descent, almost a whole mile of vertical climbing.  We had a great conversation about life, work, religion, faith, politics, medicine, health, and family.  It is impressive how small and insignificant your stressful daily routine seems when viewed from a couple of thousand feet above.

There were several points along the hike where we came to a steep section (either to scale or descend), and I promptly began looking for a way around, but John (a very experienced climber, and almost twice my age) would simply keep going.  I followed cautiously.  I observed a few principles.  First, many times it would seem easier to go around an obstacle, but the Lord gives us strength to go over it and master it, while gaining maturity, skill, and humble confidence.  Second, it is so helpful to follow someone who is more experienced and knows the way.  (If the Lord tarries, I hope I am as vital and vigorous as John when I am his age.)

There were two serious challenges- the "knife edge" and the "window".  The knife edge was a very narrow section of the ridge line, maybe 20 feet long, with sheer cliffs on both sides.  You had to hold on to the top of the ridge and carefully perch your feet on the side of the cliff, and slowly make your way across the side of the ridge.  John went across first, and he was recording me on video, so I had to keep my composure.  I decided that I wasn't going to look down.  It is not helpful to focus on the danger and feed your fear.

The "window" was a very steep section that we ascended.  It was so steep that it felt like my backpack could pull me backwards off the cliff.  I decided that I wasn't going to look down or think about falling.  I decided to focus on hugging the cliff and making good choices of handholds and footholds.

About halfway through the hike, between the knife edge and the window, my legs were so tired.  But I had committed to John that I would complete the hike.  I willed myself to keep putting one foot in front of the other, and by the end of the hike, my legs were dead.  It is amazing how far you can push your body past its perceived limits when you have your mind set.

Heavenly Father, thank you for the adventure that you have given me.  Holy Spirit, thank you for leading me and guiding me, for teaching me, and for taking me beyond what I could do.  Lord Jesus, thank you for your example to follow.  LORD, I want to be a strong man; help me set my will on following you.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.