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Archive for May, 2007

May
30

Finally Home

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I want to thank everyone again for your prayers. We finally arrived in Austin around 10:00 p.m. on Tuesday evening. It’s great to be home with Jeanine and the girls, and I look forward to being with our High Pointe family on Sunday.

Grace and peace,

Pastor Juan
Acts 20:24

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May
29

In Cancun, Mexico-Tuesday, May 29

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My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I want to thank you so much for your faithful prayers while we were in Cuba. We had a wonderful mission in spite of the obstacles, and the Lord allowed us to encourage the Trinity First Baptist Church of Santa Clara. They too thank God for your prayers for them and for all the encouragement you offer them in your prayers and your willingness to send us.

I was hoping to be home with Jeanine and the girls by now; however, our flight out of Havanah was delayed for over an hour before departing, putting us in Cancun too late to fly out. We had to get a hotel in Cancun last night, and I am posting from there now. Although the hotel is nice and the people here very friendly, it has been disappointing in several respects.

First, I am disappointed in not being able to be with Jeanine and the girls. I was looking so forward to being with them. Please pray that we will be able to arrive home this evening. We are confirmed on the same flight out this afternoon, but already Houston is showing a 15 minute delay.

Second, I am disappointed in not being able to be with my High Pointe family. I look forward to worshipping with you this Lord’s Day, if the Lord wills.

  • Please pray for me as I will only have two days of study in the office this week – Thursday and Friday.

Third, I am sorely disappointed in what I have seen taking place here in Cancun. As we were checking in last night, we noticed some fairly young looking Americans. As it turns out, they are here on a senior trip that is put together by a travel organization that specializes in such trips. These young “17-19” year olds were in front of us, beers in hand, awaiting to experience what I am sure to them would be a week to remember. Even more mindboggling to myself, a father of girls, was the fact that these kids come down here unchaperoned. The frightening reality of the potential dangers became clearer to me last night as my friends and I went to the market to buy gifts for our family and while there were offerred drugs on at least five occasions.

  • Please pray for these teenagers down here-for their safety, salvation (we were able to witness to a couple of them.

May God continually give us grace to exalt Christ in such a world, and may God continue glorifying Himself as He gathers worshipers through His Son Jesus Christ to the end that He would receive glory for all peoples in all nations for all times.

Grace and peace,

Pastor Juan
Acts 20:24

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May
27

Day 5 in Cuba-Sunday

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I want to thank everyone who has been praying for us. We managed to resolve all problems fairly quickly yesterday. All it took was one phone call from the church´s pastor to the counsel of church relations. It seems that the local immigration office did not even try to communicate with them, and as of yesterday they were not wanting me to participate in religious activities.

However, we are pressing on. I preached last night to the youth, and it was a marvelous time. This morning I am about to preach in two morning services. The work the church is doing here is amazing. They have two morning services and have already planted five other churches with students from the seminary.

I look forward to being home tomorrow evening with Jeanine and the girls. Please pray for our safe return and that we will have no problems as we pass through various customs, etc.

To our High Pointe family-I miss you all and will miss you this morning. I cannot wait to worship with you all.

Grace and peace,

Pastor Juan
Acts 20.24

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May
26

Day 4 in Cuba

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I have to post quickly today because I have about 12 minutes left on my card, but I have much to share and specific prayer to ask.

There was some confusion when we arrived, and instead of validating my religious visa which permits me to preach here, they validated my tourist visa. My religious visa was waiting for me, but I was not instructed to ask for it, so when I left immigration, I left without a valid religious visa.

I preached at the graduation on Thursday night, and it was a tremendous evening! I´ll have to post about it later. When we arrived at our hostel later that evening, we had received citations from the department of immigration to report there the next morning (Friday) at 8.30 a.m. When we arrived, we were told to cease from all religious activity because I was legally only a tourist. We were then told to return this morning at 9.00 a.m. for their response. We did, and they informed me that there was not sufficient time to change the visa.

I insisted that this would not reflect well on their government and would be a strike against religious liberty, so they are making arrangements and calls today. They will inform us this evening (Saturday) as to whether or not I will be able to preach to the young people this evening and at church services in the morning.

PRAYER REQUEST- Please pray that God would open the doors and that we would receive a positive response.

We are doing well. This has been a good experience for us all, and our brothers have been a great ecouragement.

As I write, the church is having their closing AWANA ceremony with 200-300 children. God is really blessing their work down here. Please continue to pray for them.

I don´t know if I will post again, but I thank you for your prayers!

Grace and peace,

Pastor Juan
Acts 20.24

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May
24

Day 2 in Cuba

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After a long day of travel, we made it to Cuba. We arrived at the airport in Austin at 5.30 a.m. and arrived at our hostel at 1.30 a.m. It was a long day of travel, but we were glad to finally arrive.

This morning, we had a wonderful breakfast of fried eggs, baked ham and cheese sandwich, fresh papaya, pineapple, and my favorites-guava and mango! We arrived at the church-seminary around 10.00 a.m. and were supposed to meet some doctors from North America who were visiting a pediatric hospital. We met the doctors but were not permitted to enter.

We returned to the seminary and their received a tour. We were able to greet the brothers and sisters here with all the gifts from High Pointe. Our brethren here were ecstatic in receiving our gifts. This is quite humbling since what we brought them are things we take for granted-disposable razors, candy, etc.

We ate lunch around 3.oo p.m.-rice and beans, pork, fried plantains! I have to admit, I´m enjoying the food!

It is raining right now (4.00 p.m. eastern time), and we are praying that the rain passes by the time of the seminary graduation tonight. I will preach from 1 Timothy 4 on the requirements and characteristics of the minister of the gospel.

Please continue praying for us! I look forward to posting whenever possible, perhaps again tomorrow or Saturday.

Grace and peace,

Juan
Acts 20.24

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May
22

Pray for Our Cuban Brethren

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On Wednesday morning a team of four of us from High Pointe will be traveling to Cuba. Don’t worry we have permission from the U.S. government to travel there for religious and humanitarian purposes.
The main purpose of our trip will be to encourage our brothers and sisters at the church and at the seminary. Please pray that God would continue to use the church there to advance the gospel and that God would continue to bless the ministry of the seminary.

Pray for me as well as I will be preaching over the next few days.

  • Thursday – Seminary Graduation
  • Saturday – Young people of the church
  • Sunday – Two morning services (possibly an evangelistic meeting in the evening)
I will post next from Cuba as the Lord allows. I hope to keep you posted during our trip.

Grace and peace,

Pastor Juan
Acts 20:24

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Great are the works of the Lord; They are studied by all who delight in them.
(Psalm 111:2, NASB)

I thank my God for allowing me to serve at High Pointe. So many of you have a desire to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ, and this makes my ministry so enjoyable. Since so many of you have this desire, and since several of you have asked me for book recommendations, let me offer some encouragement. This is not a definitive reading list (except for the Bible, of course), but it’s a good place to start. I will continue working on a more comprehensive list, but for now here are some suggestions for your summer reading list. May you grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ in order that you may delight in our amazing God.

Love,

Pastor Juan
Acts 20:24

The Holy BibleEnglish Standard Version (ESV)

DEVOTIONAL LITERATURE
Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon – recently revised and updated by Alistair Begg.

Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan—a must read classic.

Taste and See: Savoring the Supremacy of God in All of Life by John Piper.

UNDERSTANDING THE BIBLE
According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible by Graeme Goldsworthy – This is an important book which shows that the entire Bible is a book with one story: the story of Jesus Christ.

Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine by Wayne Grudem – Don’t let the title scare you. This is an easy to read book that helps Christians understand the doctrines of the Bible.

Understanding Dispensationalists by Vern Poythress. This book addresses the major differences between covenantal and dispensational theology and how one’s system of theology can affect the interpretation of Scripture.

THEOLOGY
(God) Knowing God by J. I. Packer – Important classic dealing with the attributes (characteristics) of God.

(Christ) Mighty Christ: Touching Glory by R. C. Sproul.

(Holy Spirit) Baptism and Fullness by John Stott. A wonderful study dealing with the baptism of the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts.

(Man/Sin/Faith) Future Grace by John Piper – This book has had the second greatest impact on me outside the Bible. It deals with battling sin and unbelief.

(Salvation) The Five Points of Calvinism by David N. Steele, Curtis C. Thomas, and S. Lance Quinn – a great overview with explanations from Scripture.

(Salvation) Redemption: Accomplished and Applied by John Murray – great for understanding salvation.

(Church) Nine Marks of a Healthy Church by Mark Dever. We make this booklet available at our newcomers’ lunch.

(Last Things) The Bible and the Future by Anthony A. Hoekema. This is a helpful book that looks at the important discussions about end times.

(Last Things) Heaven by Randy Alcorn – Alcorn has done a wonderful job of helping us better understand heaven so that we would look forward to it.

CHRISTIAN LIVING
(Evangelism) Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God by J. I. Packer – a tremendous help for those wondering how God’s sovereignty and evangelism coincide.

(Disciplines) Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald Whitney. This is a great introduction to the disciplines of the Christian life.

(Courtship) I Kissed Dating Goodbye by Joshua Harris

(Courtship) Boy Meets Girl by Joshua Harris

(Marriage) Reforming Marriage by Douglas Wilson – High Pointe’s official premarital counseling book.

(Parenting) Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp – Gospel-centered parenting approach.

(Parenting) Teaching Truths, Training Hearts by Thomas J. Nettles – deals with catechisms in Baptist life.

(Parenting-teenagers) Ag
e of Opportunity
by Paul David Tripp

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May
21

How Do You Love a Wayward Child?

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This past Sunday morning, May 20, I preached a message on the gospel and parenting. From 2 Timothy 3:14, I emphasized that before any gospel instruction comes from our lips, the gospel must be lived out before our children.

I realize that some parents may be burdened that, for whatever reasons, they did not live out the gospel before their children and that, perhaps, their children are now far from Christ. I want to encourage these parents that God is a God of grace and forgiveness. On Sunday, I urged parents to go to the Father through Chirst and ask forgiveness for their past failures and to look to Christ for on-going hope because with God nothing is impossible and it is never too late.

Therefore, having received the forgiveness that comes through Christ, I urged parents of wayward children to continue to pray for them and to continue pointing them to Christ. I suggested that you write to them weekly, reminding them of your unconditional love for them and your willingness to welcome them home.

Again, the point is that even now, by God’s grace, you can live out the gospel before your children even though they may be wayward.

As an encouragement to you, I want to provide a link to some counsel that Abraham Piper has for parents of wayward children (here). Abraham is one of John Piper’s sons, and he writes from the perspecitve of a son who was once wayward. May you find great encouragement in his counsel.

Love,

Pastor Juan
Acts 20:24

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May
18

Christians, We Must Be Readers!

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Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance, to understand a proverb and a saying, the words of the wise and their riddles. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.
(Proverbs 1:5-7, ESV)

Solomon wrote many proverbs to instruct his sons in the way of God’s wisdom (Proverbs 1:8). As the first one to turn to Christ in my family, I never received such instruction while growing up, so I sought it out from Christian brothers. Though I have had many godly men come into my life, I have yet to find that man of God who would take me under his wings and encourage, rebuke and guide me in God’s wisdom and instruction. Nevertheless, I have found that through the act of reading, God has given me the opportunity to sit at the feet of some of His great saints in order to learn from them the truth, wisdom and instruction He has entrusted to them. Allow me to share some guidance as to how you too may undertake the task of reading in order that you may continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Since Christianity is a faith that is based on the authoritative truth recorded in Scripture, then reading the Bible should be our first priority. We must purpose to read the book of God before we read the books of men. Daily Bible reading is important, for Jesus reminds us that we do not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4); God’s Word is food to our hungry souls. Bible reading plans abound, so you have many options from which to choose.

Bible reading, though, is not the only kind of reading Christians should undertake. Many great Christians have gone before us and have left a legacy from which we could learn much. Whether they have written to give us a better understanding of Scripture, Christ, the church, culture or ourselves, we would do well to read what they have written. Since men are fallible, however, their books are sure to be fallible as well; therefore, must always read such books with discernment. Nonetheless, WE MUST BE READERS! It is arrogant of us to think that we cannot learn anything from those who have gone before us. May we, then, be readers so that we may find wisdom and gain understanding (Proverbs 3:13).

Since even those of us who are readers tend to gravitate toward a favorite author or a particular genre or period of literature, we must discipline ourselves to be well-rounded readers.

Therefore, allow me to suggest the following reading pattern for maturing followers of Christ. After the Bible, all Christians should read . . .

Christian Biography: Christian biography encourages us as we identify with those saints who have gone before us and recognize God’s grace working through feeble humans.
Church History: Church history allows us to connect with the church of all ages. It also helps us to learn from the church’s mistakes made in the past.
Christian Theology: Every Christian must work out what they believe in accordance with the Scriptures. Reading theology helps us understand how the doctrines we believe affect all areas of life. Note: Popular pastors/preachers may not be the best source for theological reading.
Culture and Cultural Issues: Unfortunately, too many Christians are ignorant about the cultural issues of our day. It is time that we become informed, so that we can give an informed, biblical response. Note: Read all perspectives so you speak intelligently on the issues.
Christian Devotional Literature: Here, I don’t mean the devotionals that merely give a Scripture reference, add a heart-warming story and are ever so popular. By devotional literature, I mean that literature which is anchored in God’s Word and makes us think great thoughts of God and challenges us to drink deeply from God’s Word.
Christian Living: Every Christian should spend time reading about the issues where faith and life meet (courtship, marriage, parenting, personal finances, stewardship, etc.). Again, be careful with what is popular.
On Monday, I will provide a beginning reading list for summer.

Love,
Pastor Juan

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The New York Times declares that, “With the number of nonwhite Americans above 100 million for the first time, demographers are identifying an emerging racial generation gap. That development may portend a nation split between an older, whiter electorate and a younger overall population that is more Hispanic, black and Asian and that presses sometimes competing agendas and priorities.
“The new demographic divide has broader implications for social programs and education spending for youth,” said Mark Mather, deputy director of domestic programs for the Population Reference Bureau, a nonpartisan research group.

See also, ABC News and MSNBC.

QUESTION: “What will this mean for how churches minister with such vast demographic shifts?”

According to the New York Times article, “There’s a fairly large homogenous population 60 and older that may not be sympathetic to the needs of a diverse youthful population.” For some churches the answer has been to target homogeneous groups. Will this mean that the “Seeker” service and emergent churches will be replaced by a new form of ministry to senior adults? Perhaps some will just add a “Senior” Service?

To be sure, these shifting demographics will affect the local church; however, it is my conviction that we must propose a doctrine of the church that recognizes that the body of Christ is composed of all generations and all nations and that local manifestations of that body of Christ should likewise reflect such diversity, both generational and ethnic. This will be a great challenge for homogenous ministries.

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