Extreme Goodness

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While in Mexico, I began thinking about Psalm 103, esp. verse four.

“Bless the Lord, O my soul, And all that is within me, bless His holy name.
2 Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget none of His benefits;
3 Who pardons all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases;
4 Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion …
10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.
12 As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us …”

Isn’t it enough that He redeems our life from the pit? Isn’t it enough that He doesn’t deal with us according to our sins, but removes our transgressions from us as far as the east is from the west? Isn’t it enough that He pardons and heals us? Then on top of that He crowns us with lovingkindess and compassion? Our God is incomprehensible and never stops giving! He takes us from one extreme to the other. From greatest trouble to greatest blessing. Ephesians 2:7 says “So that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”

We have so much to give thanks for if we are His.

Equipping Conference: Confronting the Culture

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I am very excited to announce this conference being held in the Dallas area, January 3-4!

Challenging Christians To:
Defend the faith and Be Bold with the Gospel
Deepen Discernment in a Culture of Deception
Develop Biblical Patterns of Discipleship

See HERE for the flyer or HERE to go to their website and register.

Last spring we began brainstorming with the Martins… saying, “We’ve done a lot of young ladies’ conferences together, but wouldn’t it be great to do a conference together for whole families?” We both had the same vision: a discipleship conference for whole families with a focus on evangelism and ministry.

The Martins decided to set one up in their area in January, and they have done a lot of work already in planning it! We are excited to be involved, and to see how the Lord will use it!

It is not just for families, but also for individuals students, grandparents, and anyone who is able to come.

Even if you can’t come, we’d appreciate prayer for this conference. As you’ll see if you look at the flyer, there are very important topics being taught. Our desire is that the Lord would greatly use this to equip Christians to be strong and bold for Him in our generation. We’d also appreciate help in spreading the word!

Mexico Report #1: Plane Conversation and Alicia

We had such a wonderful time in Mexico and I have so many reports and pictures to post that I decided it would be best to share reports in segments. [smile]

I’ll start at the beginning.

On our flight into Morelia, I heard my mom ask the Mexican man sitting next to her, “Could I practice some Spanish words on you?”

Good idea, Mom! I thought.

I turned to the lady next to me. “Could I practice a few Spanish words with you?” I asked her.

She readily agreed. Her English wasn’t great, but it was enough to get by. Then I remembered that I had a “Are You A Good Person” comic tract in both Spanish and English. I showed them to her, and she thought it would be a good tool to teach me Spanish. She took me through entire tract (it took about an hour!), comparing the Spanish to English and teaching me the key words.

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It was interesting to me to see her response to the tract. At first she enjoyed it, but then when we got to the part about God’s wrath toward sin she told me that she disagreed. I tried to explain about God’s justice and love and gave her a God of Wonders DVD which I pray she will watch!

I realized later that this was a pretty accurate introduction for me to the mindset of most people in Mexico … they have a Catholic heritage and believe in God, but they don’t truly understand the gospel, God’s justice, or their need for salvation. I pray the Lord works in her heart, and I was so grateful for the way God provided to communicate with her despite her very small English vocabulary!

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We had a wide variety of experiences in Mexico over the ten days we were there (which I will continue to post about), but one of the highlights of the whole time was a little trip to visit some of the local villages (called “Ranchos”) where the Clark family (the missionaries hosting us) has been leading Bible studies.

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In the picture above we are standing outside of Alicia’s little home. About six or seven years ago Alicia began praying for someone to come and share the truth with her. JW’s would come to her little village almost every weekend, but sadly, Christians never came… until one day, praise the Lord, our friends the Clarks visited her village and shared the gospel with her. Alicia was saved and has been growing in the Lord through the Bible studies the Clark’s teach every other weekend in her village.

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This is the little oven Alicia uses to make corn tortillias for her family every day.

Alicia told me, “I feel like I’m failing in so many areas, constantly convicted of ways I’m failing, but God shows His love in every area — and every one of these things leads me to look to the Lord more and rest in Him.”

To see Alicia’s joy in the Lord despite her very difficult life was very encouraging to us! Sarah had tears in her eyes as Alicia shared her testimony with us.

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While talking with Alicia (through Mrs. Clark’s translation) I asked her what she would like people in the States to know. This is what she shared: “We’re not to become discouraged in this life because we have a great hope … I’ve learned that the most important things in this life are not the material things we have, but what is waiting for us in Jesus. We are for Him. In this life everything is very quick and in vain, but He has shown me that what He has promised me is way more precious than anything I could ever want in this life. And I’m so happy because, even though I don’t deserve anything, He has given me everything.”

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Lucia, one of Alicia’s six sweet children, said that her favorite thing to do is read the Bible with her mom.

I know I’ll never forget meeting Alicia and the beautiful example she was of the Lord’s grace and power to transform lives.

“And the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus.” 1 Timothy 1:14

Family Camp in Mexico

20131114_180835_23996-1 We are at a beautiful camp in Mexico having a wonderful time!!

20131115_192423_24034-1 Here is my dad speaking last night on having family ministry.

20131115_193216_24040-2 The missionary doing simultaneous translation

The camp continues until Monday. Please pray for the Lord’s blessing on this time, for good weather (people are in tents and there has been a forecast for rain), for good fellowship even through translators, and for much lasting fruit!

Congratulations Guy and Abby!

20130722_102201_23808 Our special friend and long-term Bright Lights leader, Abby Kramer, is now Abby Spragg!

20131019_145420_23436 It was a special day and we are so happy for Guy and Abby!

20131107_143629_23807 The Bright Lights conference leaders who were able to make it to the wedding.

Guy sang a song he wrote at the wedding with his guitar as accompaniment:

We’ve been waiting, You’ve been guiding, showing us the path to go
Yours the better way to travel, all along the steps You show.

Give us patience, Lord we pray Thee, help us learn to wait for You
You have better timing always, then we could ever do.

All the goodbyes, and the heartache, draw us closer and closer to You
Mold and make us, to your image Lord, sanctified and true.

As we gather here together, for to make two as one
Lord we praise Thee, glorify Thee, for the work that You have done.

In our marriage help us show, You to be the Lord of our all
Guide us on Lord, through the future, make us faithful to Your call.

-2013, Guy Spragg

Report About Maria

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Some of you may remember that a few months ago I shared the story of this lady in Mexico who our friends, the Clarks (missionaries there) led to the Lord in July. (Story here.) Below is an encouraging report I wanted to pass on of how Maria is growing in the Lord.

Dear Grace,
…We have been encouraged, and grateful to the Lord to find that, with each visit to her, she seems to be expressing that she really understands, and is trusting in Jesus. We gave her a CD player and a CD with much of the NT on it, as well as 5 stories from the Unshackled radio program in Spanish.

When Ted went by to see her on Sunday afternoon, he said that as he was walking up the little mud path leading to her house, he could hear the sound of a stereo system, and sure enough, she was sitting beside the CD player, with her head tilted, listening to the CD. She told him that she puts it on first thing in the morning when she wakes up, and listens to it until she goes to bed at night!

She reaffirmed her serious doubts about the JW’s, and also mentioned that since that first day Ted visited her and she prayed, she has had a newfound peace and joy. She said she did not feel this before, but she only kept praying every day that the Lord would send her someone to tell her what was the truth!

Ted says that it is amazing how sharp her mind is, and how she is thinking and considering things; knowing she is illiterate, and appears so old and shriveled, you almost wouldn’t expect that.

Well, we thought you would like to know, and also, please thank others you know who have been praying for her.

I received that report in August (about a month after she was saved) and yesterday I learned more encouraging news:

“A month or so ago, she [Maria] became distressed when her sister borrowed her New Testament CD for a few days. She felt she couldn’t live without it! When visiting with her, we will sometimes begin to relate to her a story from the New Testament about Jesus, and she will often cut right in and say, “Oh yes, I know that story”, and will go on to tell it in detail! This is a woman who had probably never heard any part of the Bible before in her life! But she has many of these stories in her heart now.”

Praise the Lord for His graciousness in the way He works in the hearts of people, giving them a love for Him and His Word!

One week from today my parents, Sarah and I along with Nickie and Bekah will be flying to Mexico to speak at a family camp that the Clark family runs annually. The Clarks have been heading up the translation of quite a few of our resources, and our prayer is that these resources would be widely used and distributed. We’d appreciate prayer for safety for our team, for effective ministry in spite of the language barrier, and for the Lord to raise up a host of godly and ministry-minded families in Mexico.

“For it is You who blesses the righteous man, O LORD, You surround him with favor as with a shield.” Psalm 5:12