Wednesday, November 11, 2009

great day in Leon!

This Wednesday was a special one, because I was able to baptize a 15 year old girl named Nadia. She is Evelyn Galvan's sister (Evelyn is currently in the AIM program, studying in Lubbock). First let me clarify something, that I have not played a huge role in her faith. I spent an hour or two on Monday studying baptism and "reviewing" some things with her - she already knew everything! She asked if I would baptize her, and I said sure, if that is what she wants. So I take no credit whatsoever in this awesome event. I think more credit goes to Shawn and Omar and the other missionaries who were here before us and who have influenced Nadia by their classes, sermons, and actions. They have done a great job sowing the seed here in Leon, and God has been producing the fruit. Nadia has actually wanted to be baptized for well over a year now, but after talking with her parents and some of the people from church, she had decided to wait for a while, study some more, and grow in her faith. She told me she was ready, and today she gave her life over to Christ! It's always exciting to see a new person added to the body of Christ, and it's a great reason to rejoice. A lot of thanks goes to Shawn, who helped me fill the baptistry and work out the whole situation. I should have been there early to start filling it, but we were running late to get to the church. When I got there, he was already filling it! Thats an awesome attitude. The AIMers and others pitched in to, and it was good to see everyone there taking a part in the special day. Please continue to pray for Nadia as she just begins her new life as a Christian. She has heard the good news, believed it, repented of her sins, confessed, been baptized, and now the hardest part, she must LIVE as a Christian.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Starbucks small group

Let me tell you about a night of the week that I really enjoy. More than a year ago, my teammate Donovan started a small group at a Starbucks in Leon. Throughout the years, the group has changed from being a little group, to a big group, to a little group, to almost not a group. But it is still going, thanks to people who are willing to study the Bible and listen to Gods word. For right now, Bill and I are going to be teaching. But our goal is to get one of the young Mexican men into a routine teaching and phase one of us out. Our main goal is evangelism. We want to show Jesus to people. Our friend Andrea, who is a member of the church here, invited her friend Denise to the group. Denise came, and she seemed genuinely interested. She went to the ladies breakfast this morning with Jazmin, and she might even be coming to the youth retreat this weekend. Please pray for Denise, that her interest wont fade over time but that she will truly come to know Christ. Also, pray for us not to pressure her or try and lure her into church to soon.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Life Update

Hey everyone! Well I am still in the middle of our study of the spiritual disciplines, but since I took a two week break to go to Mexico and Texas, I figured I would give you all an update on whats going on! I went to Leon for a week and a half to spend some time with my beautiful wife Jazmin. We had a great time visiting with friends, buying some little things for our house here in Alaska, and planning out some of the future!! In Lubbock Texas, I was able to spend some time with my classmates and team and finally graduate from the 2 year AIM progam. It was an encouraging time and was filled with stories and memories from the mission field. Now it is time to step it up and continue with the Lords work. I am going to keep studying and trying to finish a preaching certificate with Sunset International Bible Institute, and also keep working with the congregation here in Alaska. It is important to keep making connections with people, keep teaching and preaching and studying the Word in order to be a better man of God. In the long run, Jazmin and I would like to be able to do full time mission work in Mexico. Here are some pictures to enjoy!!!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Cultivating Spirituality: Meditation

Continuing in our study of the spiritual disciplines, we will follow the list of those which are contemplative, which leads us to the discipline of meditation. What is meditation and how is it to be applied to our spiritual lives as Christians? Meditation is simply extended thought, contemplation, or reflection. The percieved image of meditation is sitting with your legs crossed, hands held outward at the sides or held together, and eyes closed (much like the photo to the right). Although many religions practice the discipline of meditation, I want to talk about Christian meditation. There is a huge difference between Christian meditation and that of other religions. It differs in many areas; we do not empty our minds in order to look deeper into ourselves for guidance, nor do we meditate on a certain object or process. Simply put, Christian meditation is lengthy, focused, prayerful thinking on the truths of who God is, His attributes, His actions in our lives, and what He has done according to Scripture. Meditation is a key theme that is woven throughout the Old Testament. It is most evident when the Lord commands Joshua, after the death of Moses, in Joshua 1:18 -

"Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful."

Psalms also includes numerous references to meditation, such as Ps 19:14 -

"May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer."

The New Tesament also speaks of meditation in Philippians 4:8 -

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

As we talked of silence and solitude in our last study, we realize that the spiritual disciplines go hand in hand with eachother, as meditation has much in common with silence and solitude. We can naturally assume that Jesus was a man of meditation, as he was of prayer and solitude. He was a brilliant teacher who's insight was beyond that of all of the other teachers of his time (and ours!), and he often spent time alone with the Father, as can be seen from that last study. In our meditation, its important to focus on the Scripture, just as God told Joshua in the Old Testament. This helps us to focus on God and gives us a direction in which to meditate. The "Hows and Wheres" of Christian meditation are much like those from the study of silence and solitude. Here are some things that can help you in your meditation:

  • Memorize or think of a word, phrase, verse, book or scene in the Bible which convicts you or comes to mind.

  • Pray for the Holy Spirit to teach you the Scripture, to convict you of your sin, and to give you a heart to obey His word.

  • Ask for understanding and knowledge from God.

  • Seek to find His will for you in His word.

  • Pay attention to the way Jesus spoke with the Father.

  • Repent of any sin that is in your life and talk to God about that struggle.

  • Ask for guidance and an obedient heart to God's word.

These are just a few ideas, but dont let them limit your time meditating in the Fathers presence! Remember, the spiritual disciplines are meant for us to grow spiritually, to know God more, and in reaction to this, tell others about Him and His love! More than anything, we want to follow the pattern and example of Jesus! Christian meditation doesnt have to be mysterious or confined to any sort of sitting position, but can be done by anyone who wants to be more like Jesus and has a heart to know Him better! In return, the Holy Spirit will convict and transform us in our own lives, causing our meditation to turn in to obedience and action for God. God bless!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Cultivating Spirituality: Silence and Solitude

To start our study on the spiritual disciplines, we will take a brief look at the contemplative disciplines of silence and solitude. My question for you is, how often are you in complete and total silence, and how often are you completely alone and secluded from the "outside world"? In asking myself this question, I come up with "not very often" as an answer for both. I am hardly ever in complete silence, and even less so in complete seclusion, alone with only God. In our day and age, silence and solitude are often rare, unappreciated things. It seems to be a goal in life to stay connected and entertained, with our Ipods, cellphones, Facebook, email, clubs, groups, active social lives and busy schedules. Often, if we are alone, without anyone else around us, we feel awkward and unloved. Silence scares us, because we know longer know it or its uses. Jesus, however, knew the uses of silence and solitude. Take a look at these verses:

Luke 5:16 "But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed."

Mark 1:35 "Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed."

Silence and solitude go together like peas in a pod. Its basic logic that when you are in a solitary place, silence is also there with you. Jesus knew this, and used it to his advantage. Silence and solitude teach us to hear the voice of God and to "wait upon the Lord". Some of the benefits of silence and solitude are:

  • hearing from God - 1 Kings 19:11-13
  • waiting on the Lord to act - Lamentations 3:25-28

  • a place for one on one worship - Habakkuk 2:20

  • getting to know God personally - Jeremiah 9:24

  • praying effectively - Luke 5:16

Its hard enough to hear ourselves think in this world of noise, and its hard to know yourself when you are never alone and always with others - you become more like them and less like yourself! Its the same way with God! Its hard to hear Him communicate with us if we are always surrounded by noise, and its hard to know Him when we are never alone with Him in His presence - but if we are in His presence, we become more like Him and less like ourselves! Now that we know the benefits of silence and solitude, how do we truly discipline ourselves? How do we practice these disciplines?


  • a quiet place in your home

  • a corner in the library

  • a place in the mountains, by a stream, or somewhere in nature
  • somewhere you are guaranteed to not be interrupted!


  • early in the morning while its still dark out (just like Jesus!)

  • on the drive to work

  • before you fall asleep at night

  • during your lunch break


  • pray

  • contemplate an attribute of God (His presence, mercy, grace, love, etc)

  • consider His faithful actions in the past

  • listen for the Lord

My goal is to start spending at least 30 minutes a day in complete silence and solitude. Often in silence and solitude is where we find God waiting for us, so my hope is that you take some time out of your life to go to Him! God bless!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Cultivating Spirituality: Spiritual Disciplines

The spiritual disciplines can be defined, in short, as the various activities that are used to cultivate spirituality in oneself. The definition itself is not subject or meant only for Christians, as Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Jews, and believers of every religion in the world practice spiritual disciplines to grow in their own personal faith and spirituality. For the next few weeks, I will be posting a series of studies and dissections of the spiritual disciplines that Christians often and should practice, in hopes that any Christian who is reading this blog can gain some insight and motivation on cultivating their own spirituality. It is also for the enlightenment and understanding of anyone who isnt a Christian, in hopes that they can get a look at why Christians do what they do! To lay a foundation, lets get some things understood. There are two types of disciplines, contemplative and active. They are pretty self explanatory, contemplative disciplines usually being done in silence, by oneself in the presence of God, and not seen by others. Active disciplines are engaging, in public, and expressed to others verbally and visually, and often are practiced in the cultivation of the spirituality of a group of people as well as oneself. Often, we as humans are either activists or contemplative in our personalities, being drawn to practice one type of discipline or the other. But, as Christians, we ought to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, which means following his entire example. Here is a list of some of the contemplative disciplines and also some of the active disciplines:

Contemplative Disciplines - solitude, silence, meditation, prayer, Sabbath/rest, worship, journaling, fasting, study

Active Disciplines - study, fellowship, teaching, evangelism, service

There are other disciplines that would fit inside of some of those that have been listed. These are basic disciplines, simply divided into contemplative or active. Starting next week I will post a study of the spiritual disciplines of solitude and silence. On many of these I will write about 2 disciplines at once, in order to move through the list faster. Let us strive to discipline ourselves in a way that cultivates our own spirituality and our relationship with God our Father. God bless!

Life and Times of Ben and Jaz

A lot of things are going on right now! It has been a while since I have written anything of real substance in this blog, but I hope to be able to share what the Lord is doing here at the Valley Church of Christ in Wasilla, Alaska. There have been a lot of baptisms lately and it looks like a lot more to come, its awesome when a congregation is evangelistic and not just the minister/preacher or missionaries. When members start their own studies and are sharing their own lives and stories with the lost and converting them to Christ, its truly amazing! It is the dream of any worker for the Lord, to see the body working together to bring others to Christ! One aspect of the work which I am involved in and really excited about is the mens ministry. We have a small group of about 10 men who meet every Tuesday night to share our lives together but more importantly to study the nature of God in order to grow closer to Him. The past few months the men have grown really close and it has been awesome to see plans and thoughts and ideas put into action, as a group of men will be driving the 6 hour trip up to Fairbanks Alaska and serving the congregation there on a Sunday in March! I am unfortunately not going to be able to go with them because I will be spending some time in Mexico with my beautiful wife Jazmin, as we are still awaiting anxiously her visa and documentation allowing her to live here in America. She is waiting patiently and continues to grow in her relationship with God. I have decided to put off college for a few years and continue to pursue a certificate of Biblical Studies from Sunset Int. Bible Institute, which will aide me in becoming a better servant and worker for the Lord. I will be taking most of the classes online, so that I can gain Bible knowledge while in the meantime getting experience working with the congregation here in Alaska. Its an exciting time to be a worker for the Lord, as "the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few." I encourage every Christian to persevere in the work!