Following Fausto (a short term missionary tale)

80F267FE-2F53-4486-8A94-30597487B57ELast week I went on my first mission trip. Four people from my church joined a team of Christians from all across the United States to go to Loja, Ecuador.  We never met before this trip but came home as if we had known each other for a long time. This statement is also true of the translators that we worked with. My family of brothers and sisters in Christ has grown.

My assignment on this trip was to go with my team member, Pastor Jase, and our translators Christopher and Cyndi, to a town called Catamayo. There we worked with Pastor Fausto.

Upon meeting Pastor Fausto he took us to his church office and asked us a few questions. He asked a little about us personally and some about our theology. Then he spoke some about himself then introduced us to his lovely family. Then he said “Haku” which means “let’s go!”

BD28CD6F-3215-4E06-85EF-828300929090.jpegSo we left the office and followed him. He seemed to know where he was going as if he had walked this path several times. He took us to a man who was sitting in a chair on the sidewalk cutting coconuts. He spoke to him for a minute then turned to us and gestured basically saying “You’re up. Do what you came here to do and share the gospel.” So Pastor Jase shared the his story then God’s story and the coconut cutting man said he wanted to trust in Christ. Praise God!

16080423-7DC7-4DA4-AE4E-BA0DE1569742.jpegWe prayed with the man, got his info for follow up, then Pastor Fausto said “Haku.”  And he was off to the next person. And we followed him.

This was the pattern for 5 days of ministry in Catamayo. We followed Pastor Fausto from house to house. From business to business. From person to person. This man has laid ground work with so many people in Catamayo. He is building relationships. He is sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.

When Pastor Jase and I shared the gospel with people we could tell Pastor Fausto had already spoke the words of life to them. Some just needed us to come water the seeds that were already planted. We even visited people who he has already planted and is watering. His church members know their bible. God is bringing growth.

356DFA11-D774-464A-8043-4C8D3FA512B4The thing that sticks out most as I reflect on following Fausto is how he loves. He can just decide to be content in his church office and pray people come to Christ. But that’s not what he does. Pastor Fausto goes to the people. He talks to them. He cares about them. I don’t think he goes just once either. He keeps going. He brings others with him. He prays over them. He not only tells them about Jesus Christ, he shows them Jesus Christ. This is how I want to be. I want to live the great commission as I saw Pastor Fausto live the great commission.

This is the text that came to my head after 5 days of following Fausto. Paul writes,

Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. 1 Corinthians 11:1

Pastor Fausto, thank you for showing me Christ as we followed you around your lovely city of Catamayo. I pray to come back and see all the fruit God grows through your obedience.

Haku!!!!!!!

Soli Deo Gloria

That 3:16

“For God so loved”  We think we know what love is.  We love our friends and our family and our pets.  But God so loved.  His love is beyond anything we can think of.  Think of a person you love more than anything else.  Nope!  That’s nothing compared to the love of God.

“the world”  This is Jew, Gentile, black, white, Hispanic, Arabic, European, Asian, African, every nationality.  God doesn’t care how much melanin you have in your skin.  He doesn’t care what part of the world you are from.  He so loves people out of every nation, tribe, and tongue.

“that He gave”  Have you ever given a gift?  Think of the most expensive gift you have given.  That is nothing compared to what God has given.  He spared no expense for who He loves.

“His only begotten Son” This is Who He gave.  His one and only unique Son.  Jesus Christ.  Born of a virgin.  Lived a sinless life. Died a sinners death.

“that whoever believes in Him shall not perish”  What do you mean perish?  If you don’t believe in the Son then the wrath of God will be poured out on you because all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  The punishment for sinning against an eternal God is eternity in hell.  This is bad news.  But the verse says if you are “whoever” and believe this will not happen.

“but have eternal life.”  Yes!  Believe and you will receive eternal life.  Eternal life with God forever praising the Creator.  You will be forgiven of your sins and set free from being enslaved to them.  You will be given a new heart being born again to follow the risen and living Son, Jesus Christ, as your Lord.

Believe today! Now is the time!

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16

Game Changers

When I was a kid, people would tell me how my life will be different when I get married.  I didn’t really think it would be.  I dated and had relationships. I thought I had it all figured out.  Then I got married and well, I was wrong.  It changed the game.  All the rules I had before did not apply.  I tried to still follow those rules.  I really needed to throw that book out and follow a new one.  I not only needed a new rule book, I needed a new game plan.

Then, when you get married people ask when are you having kids.  Then, you get pregnant (I wasn’t pregnant my wife was and God bless her and all women for carrying children and giving birth because you are amazing) and people say, your life is going to change.  I should have figured they were right because they were right about marriage, but I said “how hard can this be?”  I was wrong again.  Another game changer requiring new rules and a new game plan.

With both of these events it may take you a while before you realize the game is different.  It took me a while. I was trying to play the same game for a long time and getting no where.  Most of the time I was neither the winner or the loser. I was just playing the wrong game.

When you realize this, you must adjust to the game.  This is a lifestyle adjustment.  You are no longer a party of one.  Married you are two equaling one.  Here losing may actually help you win.  Men and women are very different, more than I thought.  We think differently and act and react differently. Recognizing this is a key to the game.  Knowing what to do with this knowledge is an even bigger key.

I once heard a pastor say that the person you marry will probably not be 100% like you.  They will have things they do that annoy you.  They will have hobbies that do not interest you.  They will have communication issues and other things that don’t fit your image of marriage.  His feelings on that are God puts us with people who we do not agree with all of the time so we learn unconditional love.  I believe there is a lot of merit to that.  Love is work.

The other game changer I mentioned is having children.  I thought it would be like, well, I really don’t know what I thought.  I was so bad in the beginning.  I was actually afraid that I was going to break my daughter.  This little child was my responsibility and I was so afraid of doing something wrong that I would let my wife do everything.  That is not a good game plan for that game changer.  Now my daughter is three and I am still a little scared I will break her.  She is strong but I still worry that something I do will hurt her.  But I am taking responsibility the best I can and not just deferring to my wife.

These two game changers also changed my view on the world.  For example, my wife and I are really researching vaccinations.  We haven’t found definitive evidence either way on if they do more good than harm.  No one can give us a straight answer.  Even my scientist friend who has a family of doctors argued for them but never gave me a clear answer.  She has children so her game changed.  Now someone who does not have children has an opinion on this as well.  I respect it but their view may change when their game does.  When they have to make the choices that effect another human being who they are responsible for it will change everything.

There is one more game changer I would like to bring up.  That is Believing.

Believing in yourself will give you confidence.  It will help take you places you never thought you could go.  It just starts with a little belief and it can build into a huge amount.  It is a game changer.

Believing in others will help you believe in yourself.  It will also help them to achieve things that they never thought were possible.  It will give them confidence and courage.  You will help to change their game.

Believing in something higher will change the entire game completely.  Having FAITH is an ultimate game changer.  Believing that there is a God who is looking out for me, loves me, and wants me to be succesful changes everything.  I look at things differently.  The game changes I mentioned before start to come into place.  Believing that God has my back helps me make the right decisions in the game of marriage and children and business and LIFE.

Without belief can I play these games? Yes.  Can I play successfully?  Maybe.

Successfully doesn’t mean winning. Successfully means handling the loses and the wins with the same joy.  Success means accepting things for what they are but having a willingness to believe I can make bad situations better.  Success is never giving up and having faith that no matter what happens God has my back.

To me, Believing is the ultimate game changer.  It has changed my game.

(click photo for ways to beautifully organize game changing moments)

What are some other game changers that you have had happen to you?  Please drop some comments below.  I would love to hear from you.

The Old and The New Year

As we start a new year many will reflect on what happened over the last year.  Many will look at goals set and achieved and/or ones that are still being worked on.  It is also a great time to set goals that you will work towards in 2013.

I encourage you to not just do this once a year.  Try to do this throughout the year.  Everyday is a New Year. Many things may change and take you away from your original goals.  Evaluate if you need to get back on track towards that goal or if your new path is the best choice.  Sometimes things come up and your orignal goal may no longer be a priority.

As a trainer, I encourage all of my clients to set fitness goals when we start a program.  I like having them set tangible goals like running in a 5K, mud run, or some other kind of competition.  Goals of weight loss are great as well, but I feel if you are training for an event you will achieve the weight loss.  Afterall, most athletes don’t train for just weight loss.  They train to win.  Keeping weight off happens when they train hard and eat with proper nutrition.

So what does that mean for setting non-fitness goals?  As you are working towards your main goals many other great things may happen along the way.  So many unexpected achievements and events can occur that you have never even thought could happen.  Some may inspire new goals in your life.  Some will cause you to look at goals you have set and you may realize that it was not really a great goal to have.

Goals can be set for different parts of your life.  In all of these you may have things happen that you do not expect.  For example, a goal of mine for 2012 was to open a fitness facility.  I did so this past year with two great partners.  A lot has happened since that goal was achieved.  Many were unexpected things.

With the start of the gym came some trouble at home.  2012 was not all good.  I do not think any year is all good for anyone.  Life itself is a  roller coaster.  There were many miscommunications at home.  I was being selfish and I was in denial.  Starting a business without complete consent from my partner at home was the pinnacle of my selfishness.  It came to a head in July.

It was almost the end, but then something happened.  Through my friend and business partner, God stepped in.  Since that point I have started a better relationship at home with my wife and my daughter.  This was not a goal of 2012 when the year started.  Neither was starting a relationship with God.  These were things that happened while I was on the path towards other goals.  These were things that happened and caused me to evaluate the goals I had and helped me set new ones for this year.

I would like to share my goals for 2013 others.  I encourage you to set goals and make choices and not resolutions.  After they are set I encourage you to share them worth others.  This way you can be held accountable.  This is why I am sharing them with you.  I will revisit these goals every three months.  I ask if you all will keep me on task.

Goals for 2013.

  • listen for the Lord.
  • continue to strive toward being the best father and husband I can.
  • continue to grow United Strength Academy and take another space in the building we rent out.
  • get to a better financial standing.
  • inspire people to be better and love.
  • be patient with everything and everyone.
  • trust the Lord and grow closer to Him.
  • write a book (topic suggestions welcome)
  • Keep moving forward.

Please hold me accountable. I will do the same for you.

What are some of your goals? Please share below.

Thanks for following the blog for the last few months.

May God bless you everyday in 2013.

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
Romans 8:37