Friends,
My brother (Steve), his oldest son (Kael), another teenage boy, and two young men (not the same two who went in 2015) took a trip to the Philippines last month to visit the Agta –the people with whom I and my siblings grew up and for whom my parents translated the New Testament.

It appears that the Agta are doing much better than they were several years ago. There is a thriving church there and most of the Agta throughout the penisula seem to love Jesus. The children are eager to go to school and to learn and the adults want this for them –very different than when we lived there, for it was so hard to get anyone interested in learning to read then. However, there is a need for a school to be built in another Agta village so that those children don’t have to board away from home. There is a need for funds for this project, as Steve is trying to arrange plans for the building. Here is something I posted after their trip in 2015 and it includes the information on how to donate:

“New houses, a church, and a school have been made in one Agta village from money being donated from various people wanting to help the Agta. The Agtas’ needs have received more attention since APECO’s efforts to take their land have become known internationally. (The Rom. 8:28 promise at work, I’d say.) May the Lord bless all who are helping them! If you would like to be one of those helpers, there is an opportunity to become a sponsor for the many six-graders wanting to go on to high school (there is no middle school), which costs, including room and board, approximately $340 a year. Here is the link you can click on to donate and receive a tax deduction:http://partnersacrosscultures.org/donate Please specify that you are donating to “the Casiguran Agta” in the blank space that says, “Person or trip”. If you are wanting to sponsor a student, their names will be available after you fill out the application. Thank you so much for prayerfully considering this.”

Please also support the Agta through prayer. Pray for their health, for their provision regarding food, medicine, surgeries, and education, for them to grow in spiritual knowledge, maturity, and holiness, for them and their land to be safe from land-grabbers, for their safety from disease and accidents and hurricanes, and for their total well-being.

I thank the Lord for all He has so wonderfully done for the Agta since my parents went there to live out their lives with them two years before I was born. God loves the Agta so very much. He cares for them and wants to use others to extend His care and love through. Thank you for your consideration, dear Reader, in helping.

Below are some photos, with captions underneath each, of this year’s trip.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

My brother with “uncle” Saysay (pronounced Sysy) who, as a child, became blind from having measles.

My brother and a Filipino man who is a pastor in the area.

Kael and the other teenage boy enjoying one of the peninsula’s exquisite beaches.

This man’s life was saved by my mom about 25 years ago when he was dying. My mom hiked to his home one night to pray over him and he miraculously recovered by the next morning. This is his wife and kids this year.

This photo is of two of our elderly “aunties” trying out the reading glasses my parents sent.

Two of our friends have this small ferry business because the river, near its mouth, rises at high tide.

Two children amazed at a young hornbill bird.

Agta grandma ready to play ball too!

American group involving themselves in village life.

Kael with new friends.

Complacency

June 7, 2017

Friends,
“Woe to the complacent… to those who walk in pride.” (See Amos 6:1,8) God hates this attitude and He opposes those who harbor it.

Most of us condemn pride and know that Scripture teaches the importance of humility. 1 Pe. 5:5 is acknowledged as true, even if not adhered to. This verse teaches, “Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, ‘God opposes the proud but give grace to the humble.'” And verse 6, which comes with a promise, is usually believed also, which states, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time.” James 4:6-10 teaches the same and includes the necessity of weeping submission and of choosing and putting forth the effort, ourselves, of washing out our hearts and minds and lives.

Pride is not a pretty thing and most people do recognize this. They do seem to expect that God would detest pride and punish those who conduct themselves with it.

But what about simple complacency and being satisfied with one’s efforts? Do most people see how abhorrent this attitude is in God’s sight? I don’t think so. Even if the world and Christians alike boast about their busyness and what they are doing every day, who actually condemns complacency, especially in themselves? Who falls prostrate before God and asks to be cleansed of their tendency to see themselves as “fine” in God’s sight, as “acceptable” in their walk with Christ? How many “Christians” are striving hard “to live a life worthy of the calling” (Eph. 4:1) by being “humble, gentle, patient, and loving”? (See v. 2) Being found worthy by Christ when He comes is not automatic but is for those who persevere in faith and in obedient fellowship with the Lord. (2 Thes. 1:3-12) Complacency is the enemy of realizing one’s spiritual need. And this is a warning to “Christians”!

Complacency makes a person think they are okay before God even while they are not. Complacency says, “I possess the Truth,” yet the person is walking blind and naked! (Rev. 3:17,18) “Your deeds reveal your staleness,” Jesus says (in essence) in verses 14-16, “and thus I am about to vomit you out of My mouth!” Yes, those lives that do not produce good fruit in accordance with a repentant, purified heart and mind and spirit, will be thrown into the unquenchable fire. (Mt. 3:7-12)

Really? –it’s just about belief and a bit of faith? It’s not. (Ja. 2:14-26) It’s about walking in faith. Progressing in faith. Exhibiting one’s faith by putting Christ’s commands into practice 24/7!

It is deception that tells Christians, “You can sow to please your sinful nature because you are already eternally saved. Nothing you do now will cause you to be rejected from entering Heaven. You are fine.” Wow! Adherents to this philosophy are in for a huge and horrifying shock! For God’s Word tells us, repeatedly, the exact opposite. Like in Gal. 6:7 which warns us of being deceived, of mocking God, and of thinking a man does not reap what he sows. Reaping consequences in this life only? Should we believe “Christians” who insist that this is all it means? No, we can read the very next verse: “The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” (v. 8 ) The contrast is destruction versus eternal life. One cannot reap destruction and then afterward reap eternal life. Truly, it is immensely prideful to think one can do as he pleases and still inherit Salvation.

Jesus warns in Luke 13:3, and again in verse 5, “But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” Absolutely, good fruit must be produced in accordance with repentance exhibited in one’s life (3:7-14), or that branch will be cut off from one’s position in Christ (John 15:2) / one’s position in His love (v. 10), and be thrown to the fire. (v. 6) Do we view the warnings of Jesus with disdain, with complacency, with carefreeness?! How wicked! Jesus tells all those who have sat under His teachings, “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down…” (Luke 21:34) and you will be caught unprepared! (Same verse) Pray, Jesus says, that you will be found worthy of the Escape. (v. 36) Be dressed, lamps burning, and walking the narrow road, Jesus tells us (12:35 // Mt. 7:14,21), for disobedient servants, He warns, will be cut to pieces and condemned with the unbelievers. (Luke 12:46)

Complacency has no place in our hearts and lives. We must take action to root it out. If we do not, it will send us to damnation.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Our Required Worship

May 30, 2017

Friends,
In my Bible reading this morning I found 1 Chron. 23:30,31 significant. These two verses say this concerning the Levitical priests:

“They are to stand every morning to thank and praise the LORD, and likewise at evening, and to offer all burnt scarifies to the LORD on the Sabbaths, in the new moons, and on the set feasts, and are to serve before the LORD regularly in the proper number and in the way prescribed for them.”

Those of us in the New Covenant know that we are now, individually and collectively, considered by God to belong to His royal priesthood and that we too have been chosen to declare praises unto Him. (1 Pe. 2:9 // Rev. 1:5,6) In fact, we are to do this continually (Heb. 13:15), meaning, I believe, that we are to have our hearts and minds and actions turned toward the Lord “24/7” in thanksgiving and adoration and prayer and service. (Rom. 8:9 // Col. 3:1-4 // 1 Thes. 5:16-18)

In meditating on the Chronicles verses above, are we not also reminded of the words of Jesus Himself regarding the kind of worshippers the Father seeks? Jesus tells us in John 4:23,24 that God the Father is spirit, and that we must worship Him in spirit and in truth. In other words, God accepts only the worship of those who worship by and in His Spirit and in His Truth. If anyone tries to worship God through a counterfeit spirit, doctrine, or anointing (2 Cor. 11:4 // 1 Tim. 4:1 // 1 John 2:27 & 4:1), God refuses such worship (Mark 7:6,7); and if there is no repentance, He will punish that person with an increased delusion that will eventually reap condemnation. (2 Thes. 2:10-12)

Let us remember that those of us in the New Covenant have a responsibility to God just as the Levitical priests did. And that ours is no less required.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
I get many different responses while I’m witnessing with my signs and tracts downtown at the train and bus stops. Last Wednesday, one of the first people I encountered started pointing his finger at me, saying something about God isn’t for white people. Why is this crazy doctrine spreading like it is? Weird. Anyway, I just laughed and said that God wants a relationship with everyone. Another guy, who had heard our exchange, followed me across the train tracks, pushing his loaded cart of belongings, and told me not to let ridiculous people like that bother me. I said I was fine but that it is sad that such a mentality exists. He agreed, and we went on to have a lively dialogue about the Word of God.

One young woman I met later listened intently as I encouraged her and she asked several questions. Another woman told me how inspired she was by my evangelism and signs and how much she desired that church-goers, including her, would be more bold in spreading the Gospel. Two construction workers were excited to see my efforts and confided that they would like to become fervent in their walk with Christ. There were many other uplifting conversations, while there were also several people who smirked at me, several who laughed with their friends at me, and many who just ignored me.

But, like I was telling my husband later that night, the positives way, way outweigh the negatives and make it all worthwhile and a blessing. Like this one homeless-looking guy in particular on Wednesday… He was so cute! Cute, as in someone I was amused by and uplifted by and who I felt God’s great love for. I met him up by the restaurant area and I at first saw him across the street, wheeling his bicycle, his dog in the front bicycle basket. The dog was wearing a woman’s floppy hat and had sunglasses on which were kept in place by a rubber band around the dog’s nose. I laughed and pointed and waved at the man. When he crossed toward me, I told him his dog was adorable. The man said, “Her name is ‘Lamb of God.'”

I exclaimed that that was very interesting because my name, Rachel, means “Little lamb of God”.

“Well, this really is the Lamb of God,” the little man said. (I say little, because he was almost as small as an Agta man.)

I didn’t contradict him because I’ve often mentioned that my cat is (like) a real angel, so I chose to think the man meant something like that, and I listened to him tell me about his dog, their situation, and that he had told God that he would always try to give the dog shelter. He hinted about needing money, but I said that I don’t bring any money with me when I evangelize and he said he wasn’t trying to hint. Then he said, “Well, one night I didn’t provide shelter for her [the dog], but my conscience really bothered me.”

The man told me his name (for privacy I’ll call him Hal) and that he grew up in the area but was actually Greek.

We talked for over 20 minutes about the Lord and His Word and His care for us and twice he read aloud to me from the small New Testament I gave him. Then suddenly his empty Clementine (fruit) bag blew away. He said, “Uh-oh, I need to get that because I never litter”, so he said goodbye and went to fetch it across the street.

Just then a big truck drove halfway up on the sidewalk in front of me and the Chinese man and his wife in there offered me a tract and a $20 bill. I said no, but they insisted, so I took it and thanked them very much. Then they drove away. I suddenly had the desire to give the $20 to Hal, but not seeing him anywhere, I wondered if I should try to find him.

Well, lo and behold, a couple minutes later here Hal came back toward me, wheeling his bicycle and dog and holding out two of his Clementines. He said, “Oh, I forgot that I wanted to give you these.” I said thank you but wanted him to keep them, but that I was very glad he came back, because… and I told him that someone had just given me money, and that although I’m of the habit of never accepting money offered, this time I did accept it and realized I did so in order that I could give it to him! He was so, so happy to get that $20 bill! He kept looking up to Heaven with thankfulness and hugging and kissing his dog. It was such a delightful encounter, particularly because I felt the Lord’s great love for him, and extra so as I noted that because Hal chose to offer to me from his meager supply, God had orchestrated provision for him. It was precious.

Sharing the Gospel boldly is truly a wonderful thing. It gives us the chance to see God at work in amazing ways and it gives us the chance to meet people He is working with and loves very much. Seeing these people in eternity whom we’ve encourage in this life will definitely be part of our very great eternal reward.

So although we do not know who will respond positively to our Message, God knows. Our job is simply to be available, usable, attentive, and loving, and to go everywhere as His ambassadors. God will do the rest. Through us.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Be Vigilant Now!

May 10, 2017

Friends,
A few days ago, while meditating on God’s Word, Rev. 3:3 really struck me. Jesus says there, “Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; keep it (adhere to it / obey it) and repent. But if you do not wake up (are not watchful), I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you (come upon you / come to judge you).” (This comes from several versions at biblehub.com).

What I particularly noted is that Jesus is informing us that if we do remain vigilant, we can then discern the times, as He expects us to do. (Luke 12:56 & 21:29-36) In remaining alert, we will be hearing God’s heart and voice (10:21 // John 10:27,28), we will be training ourselves to be godly (1 Tim. 4:7), we will not let ourselves be deceived (Mt. 24:10-13), and we will know Jesus intimately which is eternal life. (John 17:3) By being alert, we will not be caught unprepared at Christ’s return. (Mt. 25:1-13 // Luke 12:35-40 // Rev. 16:15)

Verse 2 of Rev. 3 is also pertinent: “Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God.” We should be testing ourselves often to see if we are truly in Christ (2 Cor. 13:5), for the faith of many will prove useless on that Day. (1 Cor. 15:2 // 2 Cor. 6:1 // Heb. 12:14-17 // Ja. 2:26 // Rev. 3:3) Why? Because their works will be found incomplete. Because they did not follow Christ closely. Because they were not careful to be continually dressed and ready. (Rev. 16:15)

The Day of the Lord is going to come like a thief in the night. (1 Thes. 5:2) That is, He will come like a thief for those who are blindly saying, “Peace and safety.” (v. 3) Yes, “destruction will come on them suddenly… and they will not escape.” (Same verse) But, for those who are “alert and self-controlled” (v. 6), there is this assurance: “But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief.” (v. 4) We belong to the Light and so should not be asleep as are those who belong to the darkness. (v. 5,6) “For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation…” (v. 9)

So let’s ask ourselves and others: “Have you been careful to keep your heart from being ‘weighed down with… the anxieties of life’?” (Luke 21:34), for if we have not been observant of the times and heedful of Scripture’s words, Jesus warns that, “that Day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap.” (Same verse) We must be alert and watching! (v. 36a) We must be pure and righteous! (Rom. 6:16-23) We will be, if we have been constantly feeding on the Word of God (Mt. 4:4) and putting it into practice. (7:24-27) Then we will know to also be “praying that we may be able to escape all that is about to happen and to be able to stand before the Son of Man.” (See Luke 21:36b) If we are not walking in such discipline, we do not abide in Eternal Life. (John 6:53-63 & 10:27,28 // 1 Pe. 1:22,23)

Let’s ask ourselves and everyone else who has made the pledge to follow Christ: “Has the Lord Jesus been your Boss 24/7?” Because this is required! Let’s not deceive ourselves, for it is not just about eliminating bad things and doing good things. The Pharisees did that, and so do Mormons and other benevolent, ethical, and/or moral people. Truly, the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law were deceiving themselves about the righteousness they believed themselves to be adhering to, and Jesus said to them, “You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to Hell?” (Mt. 23:33) John the Baptist also said to the same, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance… The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” (3:7-10)

Are we producing the fruit God has ordered us to produce? Or have we been lazy? Are we even awake? “For we are His (God’s) workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Eph. 2:10). These works —those which the Lord ordained for each of us personally (as well as those commanded in Scripture that all Christ-followers are to live by)— are the works we are to do in order to be in God’s will and thereby inherit eternal life. (Mt. 7:21 & 12:50). Yes, knowing the Lord intimately and allowing His Spirit to control our thoughts, words, and actions, are key to inheriting eternal life. (John 17:3 // Rom. 8:9)

We remain in Life, meaning in Christ’s love, IF we obey His commands (John 15:10) –those commands which come through His Word (Luke 11:28) and His Spirit. (Rom. 8:9) 1 John 2:5 informs us that God’s love is made complete in the person who obeys God’s Word. So it is obedience that enables us to know Him which brings Eternal Life. (John 15:14 & 17:3 // 1 John 2:3-6 & 3:24)

I cannot urge all of us strongly enough to make sure we are prepared to stand before the Judge. I believe time is incredibly short.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
Someone sent me a video link to a song by Joshua Aaron last week and since then I’ve listened to a few other songs of his. I really like his music, lyrics, and videos. Here is an upbeat, happy one:

“He’s Coming Again”
https://youtu.be/pX9bllb9kJ0

This one definitely inspires worship:

“Immanuel”
https://youtu.be/Dl5iPXltMH4

I encourage others to use these and other songs by Joshua Aaron to mediate on the awesomeness of our God.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
The Lord has counseled us and equipped us in how to stay calm and strong, including in the storm. If we heed Him, then when the torpedoes come, we are already shielded and they have minimal, if any, negative impact on us.

Here are some specifics we should be practicing daily:

~~taking every thought captive to be obedient to Christ. This comes from 2 Cor. 10:5. Upon waking, before even getting out of bed, we should do this, for where our thoughts go, there go we. Verses 3 and 4 tell us that we have available to us, for waging war against evil, weapons that have divine power to demolish strongholds. That would include the stronghold of anxiety which many seem to be bearing lately.

More of these weapons are:

~~quoting the Scripture (Mt. 4:4 // Heb. 4:12)

~~putting on the armor of God. (Eph. 6:12-17) I do this by just stating, “I put on the… [I mention each piece], all in the name of Jesus.” These are excellent for victory in the war.

~~focusing on the Lord and His love and faithfulness (Isa. 26:3,4) and setting our hearts and minds on things above where Christ, who is our life, is seated in power. (Col. 3:1-4) Thus we have power –and victory!

~~praising the Lord (we can read a praise psalm aloud or read a verse like Rev. 7:12 aloud). The evil realm hates to hear praise (worship and thanksgiving) to God, so they leave. If they return, we should immediately begin praising God again, yes, staying in a mode of praise all day, but increasing it any time they attempt to return until they give up trying to bother us at all. Praise to God defeats the work of the enemy in our lives (Ps. 50:14,15,23) and in those we are interceding for.

~~submitting our whole selves to the Lord –our heart, mind, will, emotions, decisions, affections, etc. –all our thoughts, words, and actions.

~~praying in the Spirit. (Eph. 6:18 // Jude 1:20) This is praying prayers led by the Spirit of God, through a heart and mind and life that is in submission to Him.

~~singing in the Spirit. (2 Chron. 20:21,22 // Eph. 5:18-20) Singing spontaneous new songs to the Lord (Ps. 96:1-4), which will come from Him (40:3) if we open our mouths to do it. (81:10)

~~eating (meditating on) the Word of God so that Christ’s Spirit is filling our spirit and giving us Life. (John 6:53-57) This is necessary for abiding in Christ (v. 56) and for walking in Life (v. 53), meaning in eternal life and abundant (peaceful, joyful, purpose-filled, etc.) life (v. 54,63 & 10:10) and blessing. (Ps. 1:1-3)

~~applying the Word of God / putting the Word into practice. We can’t just know what it says, we have to believe it and do what it says. (Mt. 7:24-27 // Ja. 1:21,22)

~~rejecting being influenced by human philosophies, worldly wisdom, unbiblical doctrines, and ungodly people. (Ps. 1:1 // 1 Cor. 1:19,20 & 3:18-20 & 15:33)

~~being very careful about getting help from anyone other than the Lord and who He, Himself, sends to us to help us. (Ps. 118:8,9 // Isa. 31:1)

~~believing we have the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16) and believing we have Christ’s divine power for everything we need to live victorious and godly every day. (Eph. 3:20 // 2 Pe. 1:3,4)

~~continuing to have faith in the Lord and His Word (2 Chron. 20:20), waiting in patience and expectation for His perfect timing (Ps. 130:5,6), and remembering that we need not be afraid with God as our Helper and Refuge. (71:3)

Doing any of these things daily will set us on the road of strength. But certainly putting all of them into practice daily will make us spiritual Olympians –strong servants of God, who, in spite of the crooked and depraved generation in which we live (Phil. 2:15), “shine like stars in the universe” (same verse) with joy, gentleness, and blamelessness. (Same verse & 4:4,5)

May we utilize all that God has made available to us to make it so. –For our own benefit, for the benefit of others, and for the honor of Christ Jesus and His Gospel, in front of a watching world.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel