There is a day that every one of us approaches in our journey in this life when we realize the overwhelming truth of our lostness before a Holy God who has pronounced His judgment on sin!  Yes this thought is more than we can bear in our own strength.  The fact that the sin in our hearts is enough to send us to hell for eternity.  Even without our sinful thought becoming a sinful act in this world, our rebellion against a holy God is enough to eternally separate us from our creator.  The lostness of our soul from God in our unrepentant state is a reality that sends us into a tailspin from which we can never recover!

But then, the amazing grace of our Lord enters into our lives through the kindness of the Father through the truth of the Gospel.  Jesus comes to us and invites us to take on His burden in exchange for Him taking on our burden of sin and the debt that goes with our sinful heart!  You and I have had this incredible truth revealed to us and most of us have responded by saying yes to the grace God offers...yes, I'd rather have Jesus!

We read in the Gospels the Parable of the Sower, and some of you have noticed this parable is found in a few places ( Matt. 13, Mark 4, Luke 8) in the Gospel accounts.  When seen once in the Scripture I should pay attention.  When found more than once in the Scriptures I should really pay attention.  When found several times in the Scriptures I should do all I can to get it!  These accounts of this parable all recount the Savior's words almost verbatim.  It is the worries of this world, the desire for other things and the deceitfulness of wealth that cause a seed to be choked out by the thorns and weeds!  This reminds me that even when I choose Jesus and receive the gift of grace that comes from His amazing act of redemption, I can still fail to "have" Jesus.

As this new year begins I want to challenge you to consider this reality in a unique way.  You and I have the opportunity to weekly listen to great preaching and teaching, worship with all of the latest technology that makes it easy to enjoy our experiences at church and reap the benefits of this first world church experience.  We gather weekly for a time of fellowship, sharing and challenge that involves very little real sacrifice on our part and actually involves a great deal of hope and uplifting elements in the whole experience.  I am grateful for the time the Father has given to me among the host of believers like this weekly throughout my life.  I must, however, ask is this all He has for me?

You and I know this is not what the experience of the church around the world is like each time a gathering takes place.  We know that struggle, suffering and often times sacrifice is associated with the weekly gathering of believers more often than that of comfort and peace in their surroundings.  The peace that comes to many Christ-followers around the world is in fact in direct opposition to the reality of their suffering and struggle to simply live this life of a disciple of Jesus.  And yet, their answer remains the same, "I'd rather have Jesus than anything!"

This new year brings much hope.  The hope of a new year to invest in the lives around us with truth and hope. The hope of a new year to deepen the relationship I have with the Savior and grow in my understanding of Him and His will for my life.  The hope of a new year to better understand and become involved in the global church as I seek to connect to others around the world who are following this same Jesus into a hope of eternity that is daily becoming more clear and more exciting with each new struggle, victory and truth!

In 2014 the church in Guatemala is going to grow in amazing ways!  I know this to be true because I have seen His promises and believe He is at work among a people who desperately need His hope and life.  I know this is going to happen because I have seen His amazing grace at work in preparing the field for harvest.  I know this is going to happen because I have seen the changed hearts of a community begin to choose Jesus!

The mission church in Sajcavilla, Guatemala has a great future and a hope that will not disappoint.  The Lord has provided land for a secure location to base all of its work and ministry.  The Lord is opening doors of opportunity and ministry among the children and families of this community.  It is obvious His hand is on the church there in that community.  The hope of Jesus is ringing out through the air in this community with the incredible truth of His redemption and His salvation.  Jesus is becoming a reality to many in this community and He is going to change lives.

I have seen God at work...I have heard His invitation to get involved with Him in His work...I have felt the urgency of my brothers and sisters who are serving on the ground in this missional church...I have heard the Holy Spirit speak to me about this eternal hope of glory that is free to all who will call on His name...I have heard His request for me to adjust my life in order to go with Him into all the world, in this place...The only remaining question is will I adjust my life to go with God into this field of harvest and serve along side the local church in Guatemala to reach, reap and teach?  I have said as you have said, "I'd rather have Jesus,"  will you now take this Jesus into the field of harvest and help the children of Sajcavilla say the same thing?  Will you step out of your comfort and become crucified for His name's sake?  Will you venture out of the first world you know and join the incredible movement taking place all over the globe among the poor, the desperate, the forgotten and carry the hope of an eternal Savior ion the cultures and communities in need of Jesus?  I'd rather have Jesus than anything is what the song says, is this true of our hearts today?  Will we respond to the need and go join the local church in that forgotten corner of the world to help realize the plan of our Savior of the whole world hearing the Good News?

 Reach the World and Teach His Word today!

I'd rather have Jesus than silver or gold
I'd rather, rather have Him than riches untold
I'd rather have Jesus than houses or land
I'd rather be led by His nail-pierced hands

Than to be king of the vast domains
Than to held in sins dread sway
I'd rather have Jesus than anything
This world can afford today

I'd rather have Jesus than man's applause
See, I'd rather be faithful to His dear cause
Oh, I'd rather have my Jesus than all the worldwide fame
Yes, I'd rather be true to His holy, His holy name

Than to be the king of a vast domain
Than be held in sins dread sway
Oh, I'd rather have You, Jesus than anything
This world can afford to day, oh yes

I'd rather have Jesus than anything
This world can afford, can afford today

I just love Him
I love you Lord more than anything, anything

I'd rather have Jesus than man's applause
See, I'd rather be faithful to His dear cause
Oh, I'd rather have my Jesus than all the worldwide fame
Yes, I'd rather be true to His holy, His holy name

Than to be the king of a vast domain
Than be held in sins dread sway
Oh, I'd rather have You, Jesus than anything
This world can afford to be

You see, I'd rather have my Jesus
He's been good to me
I'd rather have my Jesus than any, than anything
This world can afford today
I love You
Written by:  Rhea Miller / George Beverly Shea

2014 Opportunities to Serve alongside the church in Guatemala:
 March 22-29
May 24-31
May 31-June 7
July 26-Aug 2
November 1-8

In His Grip,
JT