Greetings! I just heard that we have 150 days left until Christmas. You had better get shopping…
Another thing I just heard was that the school year is about to start up again. How much faster can time fly? We are now at the end of July, August is next week… and life is moving along way too fast. At a personal level… in just over a week I will be walking my daughter down the aisle to give her away in marriage. I’m not all that sure that I’m ready for this. She was just born yesterday, wasn’t she? Where did these 25 years travel off to so rapidly?
ENCOURAGEMENT: Sometimes on the mount where the sun shines so bright, God leads His dear children along. Sometimes in the valley in darkest of night, God leads His dear children along. Some thro’ the waters, some thro’ the flood, some thro’ the fire, but all thro’ the blood. Some thro’ great sorrow, but God gives a song in the night season and all the day long. (God Leads Us Along by G.A. Young 1903) More than 100 years ago these words were penned to a tune that have been sung in churches all across the world… in various languages and cultures… for many different reasons. I’ve always loved singing this hymn. The words are a true testament for God’s saving and sustaining grace.
God is leading us along. And how many times do we find the psalmist reminding us that when we go up the mountain in the midst of a storm… He is there as our REFUGE! In psalm 139 we discover that we can’t escape His presence. If we go up… He is there. If we go down… He is there. If we take off to the right… He is there. And on the left… He is there. Go to bed… He is there. Wake up… He is there.
Therefore, because of that knowledge… we had might as well invite Him to do some searching in the deepest and most secretive areas of our hearts and lives. As He touches us and removes the stain… it’s time for us to follow.
Yesterday I took the day to drive up north to see a few pastors and spend a few moments with Pastor Ron Salsbury in Pismo Beach. Most of you have heard by now, but Brother Ron is now at his home receiving hospice care. There are many things I can say about Brother Ron: He is a godly family man first. He loves the Lord Jesus Christ with his whole heart… and holds his family very close to his side. Ron is a pastor… but, more importantly… he is a churchman. He loves the church and throughout his ministry life he has encouraged hundreds of pastors along the way, including me. I cannot count the number of times Brother Ron has said something of encouragement to me. He believes in people. He is more than a pastor… he is a friend.
I will never forget a Work & Witness trip we were on together way back into the deep Amazon jungle of Peru in 1998. His son, Jeff, also was part of the team. One of our main projects was to build the church in the village of Wee (Wugh). In order for us to get to Wee, we had to travel down the Marañon River… then up the Kusu River where we stayed overnight in Chigkamai (Ching-kah-my). The next day we were supposed to have a 3 hour hike up and over a jungle mountain… but some in the group came down with the stomach flu… and it was ugly! The journey on foot took some on the team nearly 10 hours. And they arrived puking up their guts… some even had to return back… thus never making it to Wee. Ron and Jeff were two of the faithful hikers. Some through the water… some through (I wanted to change the word here) the mud… because we were experiencing some very difficult times.
God does lead His dear children along. And today, some of you are experiencing sorrow… some are in the midst of chemo or radiation treatment… some of you have family in the hospital… others of you have family members far away from the Lord. He knows all of our journeys. And He leads us along.
For 12 plus years we have been praying for Pastor Ron… and the Lord has led him along. We have prayed for complete healing… and even now, we pray for God’s healing touch upon Brother Ron. After all, Jesus is the Great Physician and the Lord who is still the God of Miracles… He can take care of the impossible. So we pray for Pastor Ron. We pray for his family. We pray for Pismo New Life. And we pray that whenever the time comes for any one of us to be called home to see Jesus face to face… that the Lord’s powerful grace of comfort and care will rest upon the family.
So I close with this… as I was driving back home again… I put Pastor Ron’s CD in my player… just to listen, once again, to the stroke of the guitar, and to hear his voice of CD #5 “I Choose to Follow”. I think that was the title. If you haven’t heard the lyrics… you ought to check them out. Through water… through flood… through fire… through sorrow… But Ron has joined the church by saying “all through the blood…” God gives us a song. Yes, Ron Salsbury has chosen to follow Jesus in everything he does.
Will you join me in continued prayer for Pastor Ron and his family?
DISTRICT MATTERS: I do enjoy hearing and seeing the ministries unfolding across the district.
- Santa Monica: I was with Pastor Scott & Katie Savage this Sunday and thoroughly enjoyed a wonderful time in worship there at Santa Monica. What a joy it is to take part in the church there along the coast!
- Santa Monica Spanish: This ministry has been a satellite from Pastor Hugo Aldana and the Panorama City Spanish Church… and let me say that Pastor Edgar & Rosario Monteroza have done an outstanding job leading this Spanish speaking work. They are now transitioning into a CTM (Church Type Mission) as they begin operating on their own abilities with the help of the Holy Spirit. Please pray for them!
- Tujunga Spanish and La Luz a las Naciones: On Sunday afternoon we had an inaugural service where more than 100 people came for the worship celebration. Under the leadership of Pastor Gary Armstead and the Tujunga Church, along with the support of Spanish Coordinator Pastor Josue Tiguila, we have open a new CTM on this campus. Otoniel Flores will be the new leader for this new ministry start. I ask you to pray for this great group.
THANK THE LORD: As I review the records for our Unified “Budget” (Allocation) payments… allow me a moment to thank the Lord through you for the best start we have had to a first quarter ever. And not only for the Unified, but also for Education, Pension, and WEF. There are still a few of you who have yet to send in a payment, and if you have and we have not received it just yet… we will watch for the check. If you haven’t… may I challenge you to share something? It would be so nice to see 100% participation. Every little bit… goes a long way!
I love you and I look forward to seeing you in a church sometime soon!