Friends,
This year is already rushing by, but in still remembering 2018’s highlights, the main one was definitely the wedding of my niece, Kiana (my brother’s only daughter), to her best friend, Joe. It was a beautiful and very happy wedding, and the reception, which included an African wedding dance (planned by friends originally from Africa), was a unique and joyous event. Here are photos:

1. Very excited bride & groom

2. Both their dads conducted the ceremony

3. Ring exchange with very happy couple!

4. Ian proud to help with his sister’s wedding dress train

5. Kiana’s mom & dad both walked her up the aisle

6. Gorgeous couple!

7. Kiana with her parents & Joe

8. Kiana’s side of the family

9. Rin Miratsu, friend from Japan & one of their photographers

10. The couple at their fun reception

11. Whole wedding party

12. My parents with my dad’s brother & wife

13. African clothing for the wedding dance

14. Reception & dance

15. My parents dancing too!

16. Me & my husband dancing

17. My mom, me, & Kiana at her wedding shower

18. Me, Kiana, & my mom, 7/20/18

19. Kiana & my mom years ago

20. Kiana riding Stormy, one of my horses I had

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
After evangelizing at the bus and train stops downtown yesterday and thinking about the various people I saw, met, and/or conversed with, I wondered again about one particular homeless woman. Why did she react to my presence so vehemently? All the other encounters I had yesterday were positive or neutral, but she –well, she showed extreme irritation toward me. And this was in spite of me not having said anything to her or even having been within fifteen feet of her.

I had been standing at one corner with my signs for quite some time, had crossed the street, had handed some tracts out over there, had crossed back, and then noticed a homeless woman leaning against the fence who had not been there before. I smiled at her and resumed my original position for oncoming cars to see my signs. Almost immediately, I noticed the homeless woman suddenly walking angrily toward me, muttering something and shaking her head. It appeared that she was going to swing her bag at me, but she then went to the corner, still muttering and stomping, and waited for the light to turn green. When it did, she walked halfway into the street but then came back, muttering angrily some more, glaring at me, and looking like she was going to attack me. When this type of thing has happened to me before (which is rare), I just pretend to be oblivious, which is what I did this time. Thankfully she turned back from me and left.

So, thinking back about that incident this morning, I remembered 2 Cor. 2:15,16, which I then looked up, read, and meditated on. It says, “For we are to God the sweet aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the oder of death and demise; to the other, a fragrance of life.” How true. And yes, how often it is that those who are completely entangled in the devil’s power are the ones who get angry when they see a message of freedom. Of course, some people take hope and feel an urge to repent, but others, having repeatedly rejected every hope of deliverance offered just feel furious at the suggestion. Very tragic.

Truly, those who have not loved the Truth and the Way of Righteousness continue to allow themselves to become more and more deceived and entangled until it becomes too late (2 Thes. 2:10-12 // 2 Pe. 2:20-22) –too late to perceive the Gospel’s message of deliverance, holiness, victory, and salvation, so that death and demise become their self-constructed eternal fate. Let’s care about this monstrous tragedy! Let’s see it for what it is so that we will be compelled to get out and warn people before they descend down into that hardened state of no return.

Let’s evangelize. (2 Cor. 2:14) Through Christ’s love, Spirit, and ambassadorship. (5:14-21) This year. Now.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Photos From 2018 Agta Trip

January 6, 2019

Friends,
I pray 2019 is going well so far for everyone, especially for those who seek the Lord daily.

2018 seemed to me to speed by and I’m already a week late in highlighting photos from it, but below is the first set. It is of my brother’s trip to see the Agta in the Philippines last April. He (Steve) took with him his two sons (Kael and Ian), my sister’s middle daughter (Violet), two young women and two young men from their church, and also a young man from Japan who is good friends with my brother’s family. His name is Rin Miratsu and all the photo credits for this post go to him. Thank you Rin!

There is a very good work going on among the Agta (who my parents translated the New Testament for) and if anyone would like more information, here is a link:

https://www.raisethevillage.org

Thank you, Lord God, for all You have done for the Agta, that so many of them worship You now, and that many are having the opportunity to go to school. Thank you for protecting their land rights again throughout last year, and please continue Your help. Amen.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

1. The group

2. Gorgeous beach

3. The group with some Agta

4. Another beach spot

5. Houses in a beach village

6. Another village along the peninsula

7. Mostly school kids

8. Worshiping together

9. Praying for the Agta young people during “Youth Camp”

10. Steve teaching during youth camp

11. Kael with some kids

12. Violet & Ian in the middle

13. Ian with friends

14. Resi (who babysat us as kids) wove these baskets to give the group

15. Ian with a long-time friend of ours

16. Ian with another Agta man

17. By boat is a main way of transportation

18. Small motorbike with cab is common now since roads were made

19. Playing in motorbike cab

20. Thatch roof home with hammocks

21. Rin with cute little Agta girl

Friends,
As this year comes to a close, I pray that we will all reflect on how well we lived out our Lord’s expectations of us. For as He states in Mt. 10:38, “Anyone who does not take his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me.”

Jesus does not say, “Anyone who does not believe in Me is not worthy of Me.” No, instead of belief, He emphasizes action –carrying one’s cross and following after Him. We should also note His words, “…is not worthy of Me”, recognizing that we are being informed that there is a way to be worthy of Jesus and a way of not being worthy of Him, and that the deciding factor is our action, or lack of it.

Let’s look at the next verse, Mt. 10:39, if we aren’t yet persuaded that Jesus means that our behavior determines whether or not we are worthy of Him (of belonging to Him and inheriting Heaven). He says there, “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”

It cannot be denied then: No one who keeps sinning is following Jesus while he or she is sinning. No one who keeps sinning is carrying his cross or losing his life for Christ’s sake. Instead, those who continue to sin are holding on to their life, their own self-rulership, their own desires, their own path. In trying hard to find their life (their prosperity and the fulfillment of their dreams), they will lose their life in the long run. They will lose their inheritance of Eternal Life. They will lose their soul.

In Luke’s account Christ’s meaning is very clear: Those who claim to belong to the Lord must deny themselves, take up their cross daily, and follow Jesus (Luke 9:23), losing their lives for Christ so as to not forfeit, for eternity, one’s very self. (v. 24,25)

So, have we conducted ourselves throughout 2018 in a manner worthy of Jesus? If not, He who does not show favoritism (Rom. 2:11), may say something like this: “You did not deny yourself, you did not carry your cross, and you did not follow Me. You told others you were doing so, but I saw what you did every day, I heard your words and your thoughts, and I read your heart. Nine times out of ten, you were concerned about satisfying yourself, not about pleasing Me. You threw Me crumbs, and you knew you were doing so, though I am the Eternal King, the Judge, the Almighty God. You also often used others for your own advancement. Truly, in trying to find your life, you are losing it. Repent! Why should you perish? Deny yourself fully, obey Me at all times, and follow Me with all your heart. Only then, will you find Life.”

We definitely want Life. So let’s decide that in this new year the Lord will find us always doing what it takes to be found worthy of Him.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

They Will Be Denied Entrance

December 27, 2018

Friends,
Jesus says in Rev. 22:12, “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with Me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.” It is about what we’ve done. It is about what we do. It is about deeds, works, actions (including our choice of words and thoughts). Jesus goes on to say that those who have washed their robes (washed themselves by coming under Christ’s blood, grace, and leadership) are those who have the right to the Tree of Life and God’s City (v. 14), whereas those who continue to sin will be refused entrance. (v. 15)

2 Thes. 1:8-10 warns, as well, that those who do not know God and do not obey The Gospel will be shut out and punished with eternal destruction. Indeed, by rejecting the Truth and holy living, sinners are accepting Deception unto the rejection of their own salvation. (2:10-12)

“Oh, I’ve accepted the Truth,” many say. “I believe in Jesus.”

But is it enough to believe –if a person is not following Jesus? Absolutely not. Even the demons believe. (Mark 3:11 // Ja. 2:19) We must follow Jesus and follow His commands in order to have Eternal Life. (John 10:27,28 & 15:10)

Some people think that by praying “The Sinner’s Prayer” they have obeyed Jesus and have followed Him, or have at least followed His number one command –the one when He said, “Repent and believe the Good News!” (Mark 1:15) “I’ve repented and believed,” they say, saying it even as they continue to sin; and no amount of Scripture (such as Mt. 13:41-43, 1 Cor. 3:16,17 & 6:9-11, Gal. 5:19-21, 1 John 2:3-6, and many others), seems to convince them that they are actually walking in Deception toward Hell.

What does Jesus warn of in Mt. 24:45-51 about the one who becomes His servant –the one He puts in charge of things– even charge of His household (His church / His flock)? Jesus warns, concerning this trusted servant, that should that servant later choose to become wicked, his Master will return at an unexpected time and “He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (v. 51)

Anyone, then, who thinks a banishment to Hell will not be decreed for Christian hypocrites better read this above passage again. So should one read the next chapter also, Mt. 25, in its entirety, paying attention in verses 1-13 to the fact that those who were refused entrance into Heaven had been believing and waiting for the Bridegroom’s arrival. So should it be noted in verses 14-30 that the Master ordered to be thrown out into the darkness the servant of His who showed himself to be wicked, lazy, and worthless. Then yet again the importance of deeds is emphasized in verses 31-46 by Jesus making it crystal clear that what we do determines our wickedness or our righteousness and thus our eternal destination. As He says to those who lacked good deeds, “… Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” (v. 41) And He confirms that condemnation again in verse 46: “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

It is no small thing in God’s eyes to claim to be following Jesus, or claim to be believing in Jesus, if one is actually being disobedient to His Holy Spirit and Word.

Truly, “Those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.” (Jesus in John 5:29)

“But I’m not doing evil,” sinning “Christians” often insist.

Yet listen to Jesus’ warning to such people: “I know your deeds… So, because you are lukewarm –neither hot nor cold– I am about to vomit you out of My mouth.” (Rev. 3:15,16) And, “I know your deeds; you have a reputation [amongst yourselves due to your false doctrine] of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God.” (v. 1,2) Jesus is definitely focusing on the deeds of those who claim Him. Consequently, incomplete deeds… disobedience… defilement… false doctrine… a lack of repentance… unable to overcome sin… these will cause the Lord to erase one’s name from the Book of Life. (v. 1-6)

However, “Those who obey His commands live in Him, and He in them.” (1 John 3:24) They are unified with Christ’s Spirit (1 Cor. 6:17), for they “obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus.” (Rev. 14:12) In sowing to please the Spirit so that the sinful nature remains crucified, they reap Eternal Life. (Rom. 6:6,7 & 8:9 // Gal. 5:24 & 6:8 // Col. 2:11) The Spirit says of such blessed ones who die in unification with the Lord, “They will rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them.” (Rev. 14:13)

Deeds. Everyone’s deeds, good ones and bad ones, will be judged at the Great Judgement Seat of Christ. (2 Cor. 5:10 // Heb. 9:27 // Rev. 20:11-15)

Let us take heed and not allow man’s doctrines to deceive us, but rather read God’s Word diligently and believe exactly what He Himself has stated.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

No God Or Savior But Me

December 18, 2018

Friends,
Yahweh, the LORD Almighty, says, “Before Me no god was formed, nor will there be one after Me. I, even I, am Yahweh, and apart from Me there is no Savior.” (Isa. 43:11) And again, “Apart from Me there is no God.” (44:6) And yet again, “There is no God apart from Me; a righteous God and a Savior, there is none but Me.” (45:21)

Should anyone who believes the Bible to be God’s Word also accept that the worship of other gods is a path to Salvation? No, for God has said it repeatedly, “I am God and there is no other.” (Isa. 46:9) Therefore, “Turn to Me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other.” (45:22) Yes, for every knee will bow before the True God and acknowledge that He, Jesus –the fullness of the Deity in bodily form (Col. 2:9) and the image of the invisible God (1:15)– is the Sovereign Lord. (Isa. 45:23,24 // Phil. 2:9-11) There is no other Way, no other Path, no other God, no other Being, no other Name, no other Savior. (John 14:6 // Acts 4:12) All that pretend otherwise are fakes.

“But Yahweh is the true God; He is the living God, the eternal King.” (Jer. 10:10) All other “gods” are frauds / counterfeits / deceptions “that cannot save.” (Isa. 45:20) –Demons masquerading as angels of light. (Dt. 32:16,17 // 2 Cor. 11:14)

Thus the LORD continues, “They will say of Me, ‘In Yahweh alone are righteousness and strength.'” (Isa. 45:24) Only in Yahweh. And only by being in Christ, who is the embodiment of the fullness of Yahweh (Col. 1:19 / Heb. 1:3), do we possess the deliverance that comes by means of that righteousness and strength.

Recalling these Truths from God’s Word, let us be wise and heed the LORD’s First Commandment, “You shall have no other gods besides Me.” (Dt. 5:7)

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
Last Thursday while evangelizing downtown, I had many wonderful conversations with people about God’s Word. One woman, who looked semi-homeless, waved me to come over to her and was visibly joyful while talking about Jesus, exclaiming that she would love to evangelize also. When I gave her about 25 short tracts I’d written and asked if she wanted to pass them out as a way to begin intentional evangelism, she responded eagerly. May the Lord increase her faith, boldness, joy, and love for the Truth.

Because I use signs and hold up my Bible, I’m pretty conspicuous while evangelizing, and I do this so my message will be noticed and so as to attract inquirers. On 10/23/18 a young college student, also excited about my efforts, asked to take my picture, I asked him to send it to me, and here that is:

So, last Thursday, as lunch time approached, I went up to the restaurant area and it so happened that the first guy I conversed with there was a man who reminded me that we’d met a few months ago.

“Oh, that’s right,” I said. “Jason?”

“Close,” he answered. “Justin.”

I remembered that he had claimed to be a Christian but had also been vehemently opposed to the message that we must be obedient to Christ and live holy. He asked me again if willful sin would cause us to lose our salvation. I said that willful sin, not repented of, and continued in, would indeed. He was very upset that I would teach this, and so I quoted many verses for him (Heb. 10:26-31 and John 15:10 and Rom. 8:9 and Col. 2:11 and others) and also emphasized that repentance means a renunciation of sin, a turn from sin, and a following after Jesus in the opposite direction from sin.

Justin asked me several questions and I answered each with verses, but surprisingly all it seemed to do was make him more and more upset, verging on anger. “I can’t believe you would teach people this false doctrine,” he repeated.

“But it is what God’s Word teaches,” I replied, and then after quoting Gal. 5:24, I added, “What do you believe this verse is teaching?”

Justin was already starting to walk away, but he stopped long enough to throw in his parting statement: “You must be twisting those verses or taking them out of context.” Then off he hurried.

That was that. Justin wanted to know what I was actually teaching, but when I told him and used the authority of God’s Word concerning it, he closed his ears. Just like he did the last time a few months ago.

This is how so many people behave who think they’re saved. See, they love the proclamation of freedom from sin’s penalty (Hell), but they do not love the proclamation of freedom from sin. They want to be able to go on sinning safely. They want to feel okay in it. They want to believe they are right with God even while they continue to blaspheme His power –the power He has given those united with Christ’s Spirit– which teaches us to reject sin and which gives us all we need for doing so. (Titus 2:11-14 // 2 Pe. 1:3,4)

God’s Word warns us that there will be many people, especially in the last days, who will have “a form of godliness but [be] denying its power.” (2 Tim. 3:5) We are told in the rest of the verse, “Have nothing to do with them.” Truly, those who stay in company with those who deny that God gave us His power to live consistently in holy conduct, will, most definitely, grow increasingly deaf. (1 Cor. 15:33 // 2 Thes. 2:10-12)

1 Tim. 4:1-5 warns us, as well, about those who follow the deceptive doctrines originating from demons, and a phrase tucked within verse 3 jumped out at me this morning in my Bible reading time. It says, “God created [all food] to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the Truth.” I noted, “by those who believe and who know the Truth.” Knowing the Truth and training ourselves to behave accordingly, in godliness, is what abiding in The Faith (The Gospel of Salvation) is about. (v. 6-8) Living out “the truths of the faith” (v. 6) and “the good teaching” (same verse) so as to not “abandon the faith” (v. 1), is essential for salvation (v. 16), for the promises for both this life and the next hinge on our godliness. (v. 8) Truly, those who refuse the sound instruction of Jesus regarding godly teaching (6:3) are conceited and understand nothing (v. 4), have a corrupt, contentious mind (v. 5), and deny that obeying “the command to do good” (see v. 18) is vital for remaining in the faith. (v. 18-21)

Apparently, many people think that the Gospel is only one statement of Truth that people must accept in order to be saved. Yet “even the demons believe” (Ja. 2:19) in who Jesus is and what He has done for mankind. (Mark 3:11) But they do not hold to (live out / put into practice) Christ’s teaching –which is necessary for belonging to Him (Mt. 7:13-27 // John 8:31)– and so they do not know, experientially, the Truth that frees. (John 8:32) Indeed, “the deep truths of the faith” (1 Tim. 3:9) must be diligently walked in. (Same verse)

And what about the Scriptures? Even the unsaved know they exist as physical letters on pages, and some even acknowledge they are sacred. However, unless a person experiences, on a consistent basis, the Spirit and the Life within the Living Word (John 6:63 // Heb. 4:12), that person, not actually in unity with Jesus, is unsaved. (John 6:53-63 & 15:1-10 // 1 Pe. 1:22-25 // 2 Pe. 3:17,18)

All the Truth within the Gospel is important and true. Therefore “whatever is contrary to the sound doctrine that conforms to God’s glorious Gospel, which He entrusted to me [Paul]” (see 1 Tim. 1:10,11), is to be rejected as error that can “shipwreck one’s faith” (see v. 19) and damn a person forever. (4:16 & 6:21 // Gal. 1:6-9)

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel