Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas from Bogota, Colombia!

I hope you guys had a merry Christmas!

Daddy and Mommy bought me this little owl and I LOVE him. He is so cool. 
-Post by Kimberly

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Stolen Briefcase Miracle

Some of you know that a few days ago my briefcase was stolen.  That morning our family left to go to apply for our lifetime Colombian residency status after 6 years of working toward this.  We carried years worth of paperwork and important documents with us in my briefcase.  This included years of Colombia visas, all of our passports, all our birth certificates, our marriage license, and a good amount of money to pay for our paperwork.  Also contained were a special book for me to read while waiting in the offices, my daily planner with messages preached this last year, plus more.  Our final office was closed early, so we took care of some errands and started home.  On the bus home we were robbed  For more details of how we were robbed click here and here. 

The night it was stolen we reported it to the police, they took me to the station and I spent the night filing reports.  While I was there they hauled in two suspects one of which had our 10 passports, my electronic Spanish dictionary, and much of my money on her.   

Every day since then I've spent several hours at the prosecutor's office filing reports.  I've been asked to help in bringing about justice.  When one is dealing with a professional thief and a repeat offender, it is much more serious than one desperately stealing due to hunger.  I told them I would do everything I can do to cooperate with justice, but that I would not lie.  A lot of people are afraid to take these buses due to things like this as well as violence.  So these situations need to be dealt in with in a proper manner or else people become even bolder.

Today I got a call from the prosecuting attorney asking me to come in.  When I got there they gave me my briefcase with all of our important papers, my special book, and my messages.  This is a miracle.  God has given us back just about everything so far except a USB drive with important documents on it.  The papers God brought back to us represent years of work and thousands of dollars.  I even have my needed electronic dictionary back.  All of our Colombian friends are saying that this never happens; that it is a complete miracle.  They are right!  God is so good!!!

God's miracle briefcase after getting it back.  Praise God!
At this point in time, this is still a case that is going through the due process of law.  And so far this has been taking a lot of my time with trips to the other side of Bogota to meet with police, attorneys, etc.  Pray that God guides us in this process and protects our family in all of this.  

But in the meantime, after Christmas we will again try to acquire our lifetime Colombian residency status.  Pray for God's will in this too.
Thanks so much,  

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Blessed peace we have through Jesus

 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:  Romans 5:1

Peace is both the absence of conviction over unforgiven sin and the assurance that we are reconciled with God.
Peace cannot be reduced to a subjective emotional feeling; it means that the hostilities have ceased (v. 10; 8:7) and that we no longer fear God's wrath (v. 9).   -Vic Reasoner, Commentary on Romans, 182.

But peace also includes the emotions.  F. F. Bruce said that peace and joy are twin blessings of the Gospel and then quoted an old Scottish preacher who said, "Peace is joy resting; joy is peace dancing." - F.F. Bruce's Commentary, 6:120.

Lloyd-Jones warns us that there is a false peace and gives 5 Indicators of a False Peace:
1.  It is characterized by an intellectual assent to certain truths.
2.  They rest in their own faith rather than the work of Christ.
3.  They are too glib and do not show adequate concern for their shortcomings.
4.  They are interested only in forgiveness and not in righteousness.
5.  They take sin much too lightly.   - Assurance, Romans 5, pp. 24-25, quoted by Reasoner

Truly as Joseph Sutcliffe exclaimed, "Justification is never alone; all the graces follow in clusters, with privileges of the highest order." (Commentary 2:453)  Great peace is just one of these many blessings!  Praise God!             - Phillip

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

God's Tender Mercies for Christians in Great Tribulation

Rome's siege and destruction of Jerusalem under Titus
For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened.  (Matthew 24:21-22)

Here Jesus prophesies of the most tragic and horror filled siege of Jerusalem by the merciless Romans in 70 AD.  Only 37 years earlier the hate filled Jews had cried for the Blood of Jesus to be upon them and on their children.  Josephus in his Wars of the Jews recounts the description of the most awful siege.  Jerusalem’s towers composed the most impregnable fort which, if well stockpiled and guarded, no army could conquer.  But the corrupt and merciless Romans were disgusted with the “rebel Jews” who would never stoop to surrender to their hated conquerors.  Clarke said, “No history can furnish us with a parallel to the calamities and miseries of the Jews: - rapine, murder, famine, and pestilence within: fire and sword, and all the horrors of war, without. Our Lord wept at the foresight of these calamities.”  These were days of vengeance.  Over 1,100,000 persons perished, women ate their children from starvation, and 100,000 survivors were sold into slavery.  But Josephus also recounts how this siege was miraculously cut short by providential circumstances.  According to Vincent, “Titus himself confessed that God was against the Jews, since otherwise neither his armies nor his engines would have availed against their defenses.”  And Gill states, “In all likelihood, if these days had been continued a little longer, there had not been a Jew left in all the land.”  God shortened those days for the sake of His elect.  Christians were there, and God wanted His church to survive and thrive.  So He put a stop to the siege before all the Christians would perish.   

So Jesus prophecy above was fulfilled.  Some think that it might have a greater fulfillment yet to come for the Christians.  To imagine worse for the church used to overwhelm me.  But the more I learn of God, His Word, and how He deals with His church, I now look forward to the future, for God will advance His church.  Holy Noah was preserved when the whole world perished for their wickedness.  God couldn’t rain fire down upon Sodom until he had snatched just Lot from Sodom.  God made beloved Daniel to pass the night in peace with hungry lions all around.  And we could continue with many more stories of God miraculously preserving his elect with destruction all around.   

Matthew Henry wrote sweetly comforting thoughts on this passage regarding calamity.
“Note, 1.) In times of common calamity God manifests his favor to the elect remnant; his jewels, which he will then make up; his peculiar treasure, which he will secure when the lumber is abandoned to the spoiler. 2.) The shortening of calamities is a kindness God often grants for the elects' sake. Instead of complaining that our afflictions last so long, if we consider our defects, we shall see reason to be thankful that they do not last always; when it is bad with us, it becomes us to say, “Blessed be God that it is no worse; blessed be God that it is not hell, endless and remediless misery.” It was a lamenting church that said, It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed; and it is for the sake of the elect, lest their spirit should fail before them, if he should contend for ever, and lest they should be tempted to put forth, if not their heart, yet their hand, to iniquity.”

We deserve nothing, not even one good thing from God, yet He daily loadeth us with benefits.  Even wicked sinners must admit in their heart that every good and every perfect gift comes from above, from the Father of lights.  How much more does our Father pity His children who love and fear Him, and who hope in His mercy and cry out to Him daily for his tender loving mercies.  For the future and for every situation today I rest in the favor and care of our Father who lovingly chooses only the best path for His children. 
                                                                                      - Phillip
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