Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Good Morning all!

Laura and I are pleased to announce that we have completed our move into the Rio Vista Guest House!  Although we are still in a state of construction, we have power and water, both hot and cold.  We now have the task of completing the detailing of the project on a room by room basis.
The last year has been quite the eye opening experience for us, but through the experience we have gained a tremendous amount of wisdom.  Of course we have always been aware that doing this sort of project in a third world country could provide a few challenges; but through them all, patience has been the key word.
For those who may not recall we began the project on November 30, 2011 with a ground breaking ceremony, where we gathered with some fellow missionaries and gave the project and land entirely over to God's will.  Since then we have seen the work progress, slowly at first, and at times with great bursts of development.  Recently we reached a point where our funding was stretched to the limit.  Again we placed ourselves in God's hands as our provider and trusted for His provision.  Again those prayers were answered through several people who blessed the project with donations and gifts. Today we are ever closer to seeing the first team come and use the facility for what it was intended.
You can see from the pictures that a lot has been done to provide a secure location for us and the teams, the fencing is high and totally encloses the property.  Atop each column is lighting which illuminates the perimeter at night.  The wall out front is almost finished and will display the name of the project as soon as I can paint it. (still rain every day so cannot paint it totally!)
We increased the security at Rio Vista with the addition of Pancho Villa, he is a Rottweiler/Chow cross and is just a year old, so he is very young and his feet are still bigger than his body.  But he will learn quickly from Raven our older dog; he is already starting to relax in his new home after a nervous first night on Sunday.

Laura and I appreciate all the help we have received to bring this project to this stage, but we are not quite done yet.  Small details like bathroom fixtures and window coverings still require funding.  The entire project is surrounded with a red clay that leaves its mark on every floor, so we hope to have out grass in soon to keep the mud down.  However, we are in and looking forward to the next chapter of God's will for us.
We look forward to seeing a team from Lethbridge in the spring; I pray that many of you might step out and explore God's Mission Field with us in the D.R.  If you are interested in helping us with Rio Vista or with other projects we know of here, send us an email.

Bendiciones a Todos!

Mike and Laura

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Uncommon Valor

Hi everyone!
This has been on my heart for some time now and I think it is simply because the definition of Valor is so simple:  Great Bravery
Combined these two words give us by definition:

A rare great bravery.

So just what makes "Uncommon Valor"?

Of course Hollywood gives it a definition as a bunch of mercenaries who journey back to Vietnam to rescue lost sons and fellow soldiers in in a film with Gene Hackman, Patrick Swayze, and a few other guys who show "Uncommon Valor" as they proceed into enemy territory and face an opposing army of bad guys with many guns and grenades.  Of course they win in the end and rescue a couple of soldiers who were held prisoner against all odds, but not after exacting a tremendous amount of destruction and death upon the enemy; proving that this is "Uncommon Valor!"  The title of the movie could have just as easily said "Uncommon Courage" or "The Strong Few".  I guess "Uncommon Valor" sounds much more cool.  Hollywood depicts "Uncommon Valor" as substance derived from the brotherhood of soldiers and never leaving one behind as the pervasive theme.

This view of course will get you a great "B" movie, but I think there is more to this.

There is another way to look at Uncommon Valor and I suspect that all of us already have this valuable characteristic we can use for each of our lives simply because not using it would mean a life that would miss what God intended for each of His children.  So why is it that so many fail when it comes to using this Uncommon Valor?  Is there something about this characteristic that seems to dwell inside us that is elusive to some yet readily available to others?

My perspective has to come from what I have seen with my own eyes, for I believe seeing is truly believing.   The Word of God tells us to have Courage and Strength, which are synonomous words for Valor.  Whether the word  in the Bible is courage or courageous or even strong and strength (depending on the translation) we are instructed many times to use this quality for our lives as it is essential to overcome trials.

1 Cor 16:13-14
13 Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.
Many of the writers of the Bible continually use these words as if the ability to use courage or be courageous is already contained within us.  This inner courage or strength quality is somehow imprinted onto our souls right from birth, therefore it is inherent all the time; but what is the trigger that enables the characteristic to flourish?

The Apostle Paul talks about this "strength" within us as definitive within God, who's Spirit resides within us; and that it is by trusting in the Spirit of God in us through our trials that we become better at our lives.

2 Cor 12:7-10
7 And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. 8 Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. 9 And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

So let me clarify this scripture, Paul tells us that strength is of the Lord and that this strength
is perfected during our trials.  But we must use the Lord's strength through the trial in order to become stronger individuals.

However, Jesus said "My Grace is sufficient... for My Strength is made perfect in weakness."  So then, what is Grace? 
Rom 5:15-17
15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, (Adam) how much more did God's grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! 16 Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man's sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. 17 For by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God's abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ. 
 It is the the knowledge that His strength is the Grace He gives us when we first turn to Him!  That Grace is the gift of Salvation with Him!  That with that Grace we are internally "empowered" with His Strength!  This of course is the Holy Spirit, who now after our choice to accept Jesus, continually intercedes for us during our trials.   It is when we tap into the power of the Holy Spirit within us that we can become triumphant through our trials by overcoming the trials we face with the Lord!  
So, Grace extended to man from Jesus is Salvation and forgiveness for all of our sins.  But you must believe first, then Grace can be given, but believe and it will be given.  This then is the hope we all have for our lives.  Once you receive this Grace you need not live in fear of any trial for with Grace we can live the potential lives we were meant to.  

Walking through your life without having the Grace of Salvation causes us to falter and stumble when we encounter opposition or situations that give us fear.  You need to know that the lack of using the courage we have already been given means we may never find what it is God has for each of us and the lives we have been given to live.  Each of us is confronted daily with trial and challenge and too many run and hide from challenge because we fail to use the courage God gave us to begin with.
Paul tells us very clearly, that we must have the Grace of God (which is the hope of Jesus) in us in order to overcome these trials.  That the Grace of Jesus, our Lord is sufficient and with it, by accepting Him, you can overcome all trials.

Now none of this explains why some can have powerful strength and courage while others cower in fear.  What is it that represses the courage in each of us?  It started with the first man and woman,
"Gen 3:6-10
6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the LORD God called to the man, "Where are you?"
10 He answered, "I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid."

Sin first entered mankind when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, fear captured their hearts and took over their minds.  They fell victim to the consequence of the new sin in their lives and allowed the shame of their sin to control their actions.  Embarrassed and afraid for their actions and what the Lord might do to them, they hid from Him.  Of course the banishment from Eden and the subsequent journey of mankind to today has been up and down for all people; born into the sin of Adam and now having to suffer the consequences of the sin.  Fear is a consequence of sin, when we sin, either by choice or inadvertently, we sometimes condemn ourselves to shame and embarrasment.  Just as Satan lured Eve to the sin, the same exists for each of us.  When we sin Satan laughs gleefully as we fumble through our lives afraid of everything and anything. 

It makes perfect sense when you look at your life from this perspective.  How will you know what you should do with your life?  Too many complain about their trials and are too afraid to stand and face them, or are beaten down so much they cannot take it anymore.  Many just turn and run thinking it is easier to run away and hide, hoping you won't have to deal with them.  When in fact it is through the trial that we endure, by using the courage and strength of God within us that we become ever stronger.  Daily overcoming with God creates stronger people, stronger community, and a stronger world!
 Every time we run and hide from the trial we are accepting a lie that we cannot overcome it, the lie that says we don't have the strength to overcome the trial, the lie that cannot come from God but comes directly from His enemy.  Satan is mankind's enemy and I will give him credence anymore, not now, not ever; neither should you.

So this is it, this is where the rubber meets the road for mankind; how many will continue to hide in fear because they lack the faith to trust their inner courage and how many will go through their trials with courage and strength, bearing witness to the truth as you overcome. 

Let us totally understand this Courage, this Strength, this Uncommon Valor; it is not Uncommon at all; for it is the Grace of God that we are given this gift.

All have it available to them, few choose to see it today; just look around you at the fallen world, full of fearful people.  Afraid of their own shadows.

Don't be afraid anymore, for you have the choice to take on the strength of the Lord within you, to be able to use the courage you have been given; if only you would only believe.

John 3:18
18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son.
Believe, receive the Grace of Salvation and with it the power of the Spirit of God in you, face your trials, endure and overcome, and be changed from within for the rest of your life.

So there you have it, only with the Spirit of God can you really overcome all your adversities, don't believe that stuff you see on T.V. about courage and valor; that's just Hollywood.