I’ve been told on more than one occasion that my writing contains too much scripture. Each time it has happened, the individuals have stressed that they would rather hear from me than read a bunch of Bible verses. Each time, the individual has been a professing believer, so I was not only surprised, but dismayed that the language a believer should be fluent in (the language of scripture) actually grated on them.
The truth is this: If this blog or any other of my writings were based on my opinion, feelings, anxieties or passions, it would join the ranks of the many dangerous places on the internet. As an individual defined by the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, I have laid down my identity and taken a hold of His. This means that ‘it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me’ (Galatians 2:20).
Yeah so, I didn’t make it two paragraphs without referencing scripture. This is not because I am super-holy. (Truth be told, many times I can quote scripture by heart, but have to check where exactly in the Bible it is, not only to be able to cite it, but to make sure I am not misquoting it in order to support my point.) It’s because the truths that I stand on and the transformation the Lord has made in me make it so that what I think or feel no longer matter. What matters is what’s true. And whether I am speaking or writing, truth should be the only thing that matters to you.
Just the other day, I was working on editing a teaching of Ricky’s for YouTube. I always start by marking in Ricky’s notes each time scripture is cited in the message so that I can check it and make sure we are citing it correctly. I made a total of 75 such markings in just the one message.
Now, many people might think, “Oh, that’s too much scripture for one message. I might as well just read the Bible myself.” Well, yes, you should. But what we don’t realize when we think this way is that we are saying, I’d rather hear more from the preacher, and less from God. I suppose it would seem easier to take only one portion of scripture and spend time breaking it down, using testimony, personal life examples, jokes and stories to make it palatable to the hearers. But in order for a teaching to be complete, scripture needs to be used in its context and supported by other scripture throughout the Old and New Testament. Otherwise, we are teaching Bible verses in a vacuum, which is how we perpetuate people’s misuse and erroneous application of verses like Jeremiah 29:11 and Philippians 4:13. And those two are just the tip of the iceberg. People have taken verses out of context throughout history to justify evils like racism, genocide, polygamy, bigotry, child abuse and oppression, to name a few.
To be fair, I often use personal stories and experiences in this blog to drive a scriptural point home. Ricky will also use personal stories and cite incidents from our almost 7 years of ministry in his in-person and online teachings to show how he has seen God’s Word to be true. I jokingly call these asides “Storytime With Ricky,” and I genuinely enjoy them. When I ask him why he didn’t include a “Storytime” in a teaching, his answer is always the same: “The Lord didn’t lead me to use a personal story in this message.” His primary aim is to keep the focus where it needs to be: on God’s Word and off of himself.
Still, people love to listen to testimonies of someone’s life before Christ and after, and the testimonies of others can be great faith builders for us in our walk with the Lord. However, we’ve noticed that while people love to hear the sordid details of where we were when Christ grabbed a hold of us, they typically don’t like to spend too much time in the actual trenches of how the Lord may have convicted us of our sin and turned our life into something completely unrecognizable. Those trenches are the time we spent in God’s Word, facing hard truths and making hard decisions about where to go now that the days of our ignorance have come to an end. Those trenches are the stripping away moments where we held onto a beloved sin with our white knuckle death grip, and the Lord lovingly pried our grimy fingers off using His Word. This being the point of no return for a believer, is where we tend to lose many listeners who were purely looking to be entertained.
Truly understanding a Christ-follower’s testimony means that we will not leave the conversation unchanged. Anyone speaking to a true follower of Christ should know pretty quickly that they are not speaking to a person who is led by their own fleshly desires, opinions, politics or worldview, but rather by the unchanging truths of God’s Word. And so, in order that we may testify of Him on whose identity we now stand, we must use scripture, lest we misrepresent our Savior and become a stumbling block to another. Remember…
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.John 1:1 (emphasis mine)
Lastly, oftentimes people will criticize believers who cite scripture, accusing them of ‘not having a mind of their own.’ I will tell you that, like you, I certainly do have a mind of my own, and that mind has taken me to some dark places that I no longer care to entertain or expound upon. God’s Word exhorts us:
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.Romans 12:2
(That one I do know by heart, complete with book, chapter and verse).
So, my answer to anyone who says I use too much scripture is the following: It is in your best interest that I use God’s words and not my own. Trust me.
In the multitude of words sin is not lacking,Proverbs 10:19
But he who restrains his lips is wise.
a crown to the aged
Ricky was invited to bring a message of encouragement to grandparents that were gathered for a private school’s special online evening event. He shared an exhortation about the importance of the grandparents’ role in protecting the hearts of their grandchildren and instructing them in the ways of the Lord, as we read about in Deuteronomy 4:9. He encouraged them that even if there are regrets in the way they raised their own children, all is not lost. They still have a chance to do right by the Lord when it comes to their grandchildren.
in and out of season
We have learned that there is never a time where it is ok to lay back and assume that the Lord does not have an opportunity for us to share the Word at moment’s notice. As a family, we continue to diligently work on every aspect of this ministry because we must be ready at any moment to answer for what God has entrusted to us. We never want to be ‘rusty’ when a church calls us after a few weeks of no live ministry. For this reason, we practice for a little while everyday, and devote one whole day a week to a full rehearsal of our entire presentation. Below, photos of the churches that brought us in to minister to their congregations since our last post…
IN THE POCKET
I’ve saved the photos of worship from the churches above for this section because, if you hadn’t noticed in the last post, there has been a sort of reshuffling in our worship lineup. Since the pandemic started, we’ve been able to spend more time honing our skills. This has included teaching the boys more about rhythm and percussion, and how important it is to listen to one another when playing in a band, or being part of a skit.
As a part of this, Marcos (our oldest) started playing cajón. We taught him some simple rhythms to see if he could pick it up and play along with a song. Before we knew it, he was right in the groove every time we practiced. He humbly said to us one day, “I know I’m not the one who decides this, but I feel I’m ready to play cajón at our next event.” Indeed he was, and this meant that Eugenio got to graduate to playing tambourine while Marcos keeps the beat. Ricky has also had to step in to fill in the empty spot Eugenio left, leading the groups in the movements to “Lord I Lift Your Name on High” in Spanish. We feel so blessed to be worshipping the Lord all together.
I’ve been challenged myself to be able to lead them while I play guitar and have learned to use my guitar arm as a visual metronome for them. Marcos and Eugenio know a wink from me means they are “in the pocket.” Just the other day, after we finished practicing, Marcos got up from the cajón saying, “Man, that felt good.” At home, Eugenio does some very funny dance moves, all the while managing to keep the groove with his tambo. At churches, he’s much more ‘buttoned up’ about the whole affair. To say I am thrilled to see my boys growing into a love of playing music is a vast understatement, but to know that those gifts are being offered to the Lord is more than can fit in my heart. I thank the Lord everyday for the work He is doing in both my boys.
TOP OF THE CHARTS
We continue to post a variety of videos to our YouTube channel, and are pleased to see its steady growth continue. One video, a teaching on Jeremiah 29:11, immediately shot to the top spot of the ten most recently posted videos on our channel. People seem to really appreciate in-depth biblical explanations of verses they are used to hearing often. Below, a summary of the videos published to our channel since our last blog post…
- EXPLICACIÓN DE JEREMÍAS 29:11
- Concept: Ricky does a deep dive into the real meaning of Jeremiah 29:11, a verse often used for inspirational purposes. While we definitely ought to be inspired by God’s Word, it is important to understand every part of God’s Word in context so that we may rightly apply it.
- Teaching/Bible Verse: Jeremiah 29:11 and many others
- Views: 5,401 as of this posting
Click HERE to watch the video on YouTube
- RAME 2020
- Concept: Our annual ministry video offers a summary of the ministry in the past year against the backdrop of current events on the island. We know the importance of regularly offering information to our supporters about what we are doing as a ministry, which is why we blog regularly and also create an annual video representation of what the Lord allowed us to do each year.
- Teaching/Bible Verse: God’s entire Word is the basis for this ministry, and this video depicts some of the fruit of our calling.
- Views: 185 as of this posting
Click HERE to watch the video on YouTube
- CUANDO LOS ABUELOS…MONDAN AL NIETO
- Concept: It seems Jenny has been at home too long, and her beloved haircutting scissors have their eye on her grandson’s overgrown quarantine curls. His father will attempt to defend the honor of his son’s tresses…but who will prevail?
- Teaching/Bible Verse: This just-for-laughs video features our whole family acting together in a scene that finds Jenny and her entire family in the living room of her house after calling a ‘family meeting’ to discuss her grandson’s haircut (or lack thereof).
- Views: 336 as of this posting
Click HERE to watch the video on YouTube
I doubt there are any who can say they have not learned some important lessons from this past year and all its occurrences, no matter where on the globe you find yourself. As I’ve mentioned before, this has been a time of recalibrating for our family, and the Lord has even offered us more opportunities than we expected for live ministry, considering the circumstances in which Puerto Rico finds itself. We pray that he sees our willingness, obedience to stay true to Him, and to offer all our time and resources to this mission so that we can be found worthy to continue on this journey. Seeing our boys grow into serving alongside us has encouraged us greatly, and has shown us that indeed “Greater things are yet to come, and greater things are still to be done in this city,” as the song says.
To be a part of this mission on the island of Puerto Rico you can make a financial or physical contribution to RAME Ministries. No item or amount is too small. To make a financial donation click here or on the image below:
If you prefer to make a donation of a needed physical item, please here, or click on the image below. Items start as low as $7.00.
Thank you for reading, and may the Lord bless you richly.