Thursday, August 21, 2008


Shepherd's Conference sponsored by PETRA
On August 8th and 9th I had the privilege of being a part of a conference held by the Petra foundation, a ministry of Greenhills Christian Fellowship (GCF), which partners with The Master’s Academy in training ministers to reach the Philippines and abroad. This conference – which was inspired by the Shepherd’s Conference at Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California – is intended to be an annual conference to equip ministers in local church ministries.

We had the privilege to teach over 400 people various topics, including how to interpret the bible, preaching, ministering to government employees, discipleship, leading small groups, mentoring, biblical eldership, and missions.

The conference was opened with a key note address by the senior pastor of GCF, Dr. Luis Pantoja. Our guest speaker, Dr. Doug Bookman, deepened our understanding of the life of Christ as he taught 4 plenary sessions on the passion week of Jesus. We were also joined by Steve Wheeler, Director of White fields. He taught on missions and expository preaching.

I taught three break-out sessions to about 140 ministers on how to interpret the Bible. I used a workshop style and took commonly misinterpreted texts from the Bible as I modeled how to properly interpret a passage. Then the attendees were given the opportunity to break into small groups and practice doing the same. We are following up the conference by offering classes through TMAI and Petra in Bible interpretation, Old Testament Survey, and New Testament Survey. The conference was well received and many excited ministers expressed their gratitude and eagerness for further training and conferences.

News from the Bridge

Our friends Edwin and Charlyne Cruz just had their third daughter, Elizabeth Cruz. Since she was born under the bridge without any kind of medical help or assessment, we took Elizabeth to the doctor for a check up. Edwin and Charlyne were grateful for this because they were concerned that their daughter vomited up what they described as a lot of “flem.” Since so many of the children and adults living under the bridge suffer from asthma, they worried that Elizabeth may have been born with some soft of illness that could give her breathing problems. After the doctor checked her out she told us that the baby was doing fine and that the “flem” was probably due to the fact that Elizabeth was born without the aid of a doctor or nurse. This means that a standard clearing of the nasal passages was not done. I’m grateful that Edwin asked me a question that he would not have asked a few years ago when I first met him. He asked what was necessary to do a baby dedication. A few years ago they may have asked about baptizing their baby so that she would be saved. Now they know that salvation is God’s gracious gift to those who trust in Jesus Christ alone.

A new family pet

During our last furlough in the States, Jessica and I saw all of our kids admiring the dogs of many of our friends. We had been avoiding getting a dog in the past because our son, Christian, seemed to have his asthma aggravated when he came into contact with animals. But now, it seems that Christian has out grown his asthma, so we finally broke down and bought a small, short haired dog. (Tyler also has asthma, but his hasn’t been affected by animals.)

Isabella was taking a bath with her the other day while I was standing nearby in front of the mirror getting ready for the day. When I turned around I found that Isabella had squeezed out some shampoo on the dogs head and began washing her hair. In this picture you can almost hear the dog saying, “Help me...Help me!...HELP ME! The kids are all crazy about the dog and are doing a good job of helping take care of her.

I suppose that I should tell you the dogs name, but before I do, I need to make a few qualifying statements. When we speak of a man’s man or a rugged man, we sometimes say that he is manly. Or perhaps you might be describing a very feminine girl as – you guessed it – girly. , Pugs are known to be very sweet, friendly, and family oriented lap dogs. Hence our pug, who fits the textbook description of her breed so well, is appropriately named . . . Pugly. As our Grace likes to call her, she can also be called Princess Pugly.

Yeah, maybe we are Crazy

Crazy? Maybe you have thought that about us. Some essentially told me that I am crazy. I have heard Jessica ask herself if she was crazy a few times, but now I’m starting to wonder if there is any truth to that idea. If you find us to be pretty sane and are wondering what in the world I’m talking about, I should mention that we are expecting number six! Yes, we found out last month that Jessica is pregnant. Just recently she asked herself if she was crazy for even desiring another kid. I still remember about 16 years ago how excited I was when I found out that Jessica was pregnant with Kian. No sooner had I found out than I was on the phone calling everyone I know to announce the good news. It was a little different this time. We are both still excited, but it took us several weeks to tell our parents. It’s kind of funny when you think about it. A couple who has been happily married for 19 years thinking about how to tell their parents that they are going to have a baby.

Well, we told them and of course they are concerned about how we are going to take care of such a large family, but of course they will be ‘crazy’ over the new baby. I can understand their concerns and we are well aware of the challenges of having five and now six children. When we arrived at Los Angeles International Airport at the beginning of our furlough last year, it took two cars…no, two vans, to carry all of us and our things. On our last flight from the states we took up a whole row of seats on the plane (both sides of the isle). I also know about getting home at the end of the day and conjuring up my last bits of energy to listen to five excited kids, (a few of them bouncing still) share with me what they did that day; all at the same time. I know about being late for almost everything because of trying to find the shoes of our little ones, packing diapers, bottles, spare clothes and game boys. I could go on and on about the difficulties, but I can also share so many blessings that far out weigh the hardships. Here are some: a van load of kids singing together while driving through the city, the laughing, tickling, games, conversations, family time, and the hugs and kisses to name of few. I’m not saying that it is easy, but it is worth it. God’s Word says in Psalm 127:3-5 that: Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him. Children born to a young man [and woman] are like arrows in a warrior’s hands. How joyful is the man [and woman] whose quiver is full of them! (NLT)

Crazy? Maybe, but if so, what a joy it is to be crazy.