A few points about the ministry we are developing.  In conjunction with eight churches and E3 Partners, we are in the process of planting new churches in 40 Ngobe villages who have never once heard or seen the Gospel of Jesus Christ in action.  This video (produced by E3 partners) is the very missionaries and people we will be going to serve.  As some of you know, last years trip was to the Darien Province in the southern Panamanian jungles along the Colombian border.  Due to rebel factions fighting for control of the region and the drug industry, the Panamanian Police will not allow travel in this area at this time.  We are praying that the doors open up for further ministry in this area.  Last year there were over 450 professions of faith in Christ as Lord, but we have been unable to go back and disciple any of these people.  So this year we get to go back to Chiriqui Province in mountains of northern Panama closer to the Costa Rica boarder.

Panama 2010

Who will go? Here I am Lord, Send me!

Here are a few bullet points about the ministry.

1.  Our specific focus of ministry is the development of a semi-mobile (guys with backpacks and tents) Bible Institute specific to the Ngobe Indian culture.  Towards the end of the video you saw men who were tribal pastors and missionaries, these are the exact men I am going to be training to study scripture and apply teachings within their lives AND culture of each clan and tribe.

2. Andrew and I return to the mountains June 25th.  We are going with a team from our home church to the villages in the video.  There are at least 40 more villages within two to four day hikes that we plan to reach within the next few years.

3.Please consider becoming a PARTNER with us in prayer or sending forth, you can do so at www.crossridgelife.org/panama

Prayer needs

1. funds for a new 4×4 vehicle, Lazarus has been raised many time, the cost of renting vehicles is taking away from other ministry needs.

2. funds for 1000 Bibles.

3. financial support for the Ngobe missionaries and pastors (the men in the videos).

4. shoes, medical supplies, reading glasses, clothing, toys…(these people have nothing-Literally!  Most women and children do not have shoes.)

5. Bible Institute development.

6. As our family prepares to enter the mission field full-time, please pray for God’s guidance and blessings as we raise support and make plans to transition to a much more mobile life.

Thank you for allowing us to share this with you.  The Bible Institute is in the very initial planning stages.  We are developing curriculum and partnerships right now and pray to have our first training summit in country this fall.  Just to clarify, I am not on staff with E3 (creators of the video).  We partner with them and one of E3’s Local in country missionaries; Moises and Talsidia Vega.  Their ministry web site will give you much greater information.

http://web.mac.com/talsidiavega/MGPanama/Welcome.html

Again, thank you for your partnership with us in Panama reaching the forgotten Ngobe people in the remote mountains of Central America.  Every prayer, Band-Aide, and penny is needed for the spiritual and physical health of these most gracious and loving people.

The Sieffert Family

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How many times have you heard this conversation?

“That’s just not fair” he yelled. “He hit me first. Why do I have to go to my room?”

or

“Fair? FAIR? You want fair? Okay I’ll give you fair……”

Or how about this one—

“If God is a fair God, why did He let such a bad thing happen?”

Or even this one…

“All I want is for you to treat me fairly.”

I was taught a huge lesson this week. The sad thing is that I am almost 42 years old and I am just now figuring this out. As to spare myself further embarrassment I will not go into the details of my short comings. Let’s just say I was acting like a 42 year old going on 8 (it had to do with my bicycle).

The root of this problem was this little four letter word F A I R. Somewhere along the line, I learned that life is supposed to be fair. Or, at the least, I am supposed to treat people fairly. But let’s just evaluate this concept; my fear is that a lot of us were taught this very same thing as we grew up.

Do you really want to be treated fairly?

A business opportunity was presented one time and the one making the offer made a little speech that went something like this:

“I am so excited about the chance to get to work with you all. You appear to be very trustworthy, I am the same way. You can depend on that, I always carry my share of the load. If you do me right, I’ll do you right! But cross me, and you won’t like it. Mess with me, and I’ll mess with you right back. Treat me right and I’ll treat you right. Now, that sounds fair doesn’t it? I think this partnership will work out just fine!”

Whoa, back up the fairness train here. Did he really say that as long as we do what he thinks is right then everything will be good? Well…, yes that is exactly what he said.

Is that fair? Well…, YES! That is exactly what fair is. Tit for Tat, Eye for an eye, you know–playing fair.

What really is fair?  We can spiritualize it and say, do unto others…or we can explain it rationally and say that it means to treat one another justly. I have even been told my whole life that God is fair. I was even told one time that the reason God had to give us free will is that he had to be fair to the angels. Now, that is a concept way to deep to even attempt to discuss.

Is fair really a good standard?  I think fair falls way short of what we all really want.  Fair really means “I do unto you the same evil (or good) that you do unto me.”  That is not a good standard on which to base our lives.  I like the idea of grace better.  That is God’s standard.  Grace means undeserved love or unmerited favor. That means we should not do unto others as they do unto us, but we should do unto others that which is based on what is best for them, love.  Sometimes even tough love.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like this playing fair thing. If I make a mistake, then playing fair says it is okay for the other person to do the same thing back to me. I don’t want fair, I want better than fair. I want to be in a relationship–business, family, friendship or otherwise–that when I make a mistake the other person lifts me up and helps me overcome the problem, not stomp on me when I’m down. I don’t want what I deserve. I deserve eternity in HELL!!!  I don’t want what is fair.

Fair is settling.  It is a lie straight from the pits of Hell, but yet we teach our children to treat others fairly. Fair sounds good, but fair does not work. Fair will ruin every relationship that you ever have. I spent a lot of my life justifying my own anger and actions towards people because it was fair, or in other words, they got what they deserved.

The fair mentality says, “if he can’t pick up after himself then I won’t talk to him…that’s what he deserves. I’ll just won’t talk to him for a little while and ‘see how he likes it.  Ya, and maybe next time he will refill the toilet paper after using the last sheet!!! That’ll teach him.” Now, how silly does that sound? But it happens; people really withdraw their love by giving the silent treatment for silly little things like these. But that is what the fair mentality tells us to do. I’ll hurt you because you hurt me.

Is God really fair? No absolutely not! God is just, but not fair, that my friend is a very good thing.

I for one will not live a FAIR life any longer!

How about you?

Romans 12 17-18

Do not repay anyone evil for evil.

Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you,

live at peace with everyone.

If you leave a white post alone it will soon be a black post.”—G.K. Chesterton 1909

My wife is the most profound person I have ever known. She has taught me more than theology or psychology classes ever could. Last night on our way home from church, Tammy reminded me of the process of how we arrived at our new home. It has now been a year since we moved to the little village of Providence Texas. It has been a year filled with trials, temptations, fear, joy, accomplishment, loneliness, uncertainty, and most of all—growth.

Prior to our move we were completely debt free. I was serving in a position with our home church and Tammy had just graduated from Texas Tech. Things could not have been more perfect. Then, for some unknown reason God said GO! So we did. Without jobs or even a real plan, we moved 350 miles. We had some speculations of what God may have in store for us, but the timing did not seem at all correct. We had very little means of income and I was still in school. But we were confident in one thing; the knowledge that we had made the choice God had desired. Now, one year later, things are much clearer. Tammy reminded me how it is our responsibility to give God the honor and glory of how he directed and prepared our path and supplied all our needs. It turns out; our biggest needs were ones of growth, both spiritually and relationally.

The Christian life is one that needs routine maintenance. If left alone it will soon be a black post. The lessons I have learned have been ones which God knew I needed to learn; ones which, if not learned would lead to destruction.

Psalm 131

God, I’m not trying to rule the roost

I don’t want to be king of the mountain.

I haven’t meddled where I have no business

or fantasized grandiose plans.

I’ve kept my feet on the ground;

I’ve cultivated a quiet heart.

Like a baby content in its mother’s arms,

my soul is a baby content.

Wait, Israel, for God. Wait with hope.

Hope now; hope always!

Charles Spurgeon said about this Psalm, “it is one of the shortest Psalms to read, but one of the longest to learn.”

Life is a series of lessons; it is simply, as the psalmist put it, a process of being weaned like a child from his mother. It is much like our fence post. When we leave it alone and stop checking out the damage weather may have caused or skip a couple years of painting, the post starts to turn black.  Hope now; hope always!

The past couple of days a few events have left me thinking about the current state of our Union, and our wilting fields of grain. In the past I have been known as a radical revolutionary conspiracist. Since I have committed my life to serving Jesus as the Christ who saves, my focus has changed. I have spent most of the past five years finishing my undergraduate work in theology and working on graduate studies in Christian leadership. But a few friends have prodded the old ideas back to the surface. Not that my opinions matter much to most, but maybe they will have some affect on someone. This piece has some real gloom and doom to it, but read through. We live in a time of great Hope; where salvation may be just around the corner.

I have been reading 1 Samuel in my morning quiet time the past few days. God challenged me about my own commitment to Him and I forward this message to you. It is no coincidence that as these friends stirred up some past emotions about politics and government, I found myself in 1 Samuel 8. This is the account of when Israel was asking for a King. Samuel was the current Judge whom God had appointed to rule over His nation. God’s intent for the Hebrew nation was—in a political sense—that they be a Theocracy. This is a pseudo-political state where God is King. Some of the specifics, although very basic, of the formation of this Theocracy can be found in Exodus 18 (for further details see the rest of the Pentateuch). The appointing of a human King to rule over God’s chosen nation was never the intent of God. This was solely one of the instances where Israel complained so much, become so secular in their ways that God allowed them to have their wish.

In 1 Samuel 8: 10-22, we read the account of the Warning of God to Israel about the consequences of electing a King. God spelled out exactly what happens when His people turn to a man to rule over them. The scary thing, verses 11-17 sound just like the state of our Union today. A few minor details may be different, like the tax the people would pay was only ten percent. Today, some economists are saying that the tax rate on Americans can jump to almost sixty percent over the next decade. This however is all just semantics. The reality of turning our backs on the LORD is revealed in verse 18. “Then you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the LORD will not answer you in that day.” (NASB)

I said out load, “Really!? God said that? He seriously said he was not going to answer their prayers?”

YES, and it is not the only time He has said it (see Jeremiah 11, among others).

Listen folks, we all know the perils of the times in which we live. But as Christians we have a responsibility. If we deny that responsibility there are dire consequences. One of which may be that God will not hear our prayers for the rescue of our nation. I am not saying this is where we are in America, but in His immutability, the character of God never changes. This is a very scary thing to come to a point where God does not hear our prayers for salvation of our nation, in the days that we cry out to Him.  Even though God did not listen to Israel when they cried out because of the king and condition of their nation, He did continue to be involved in their lives on a daily basis.  He just did not rescue them from their own choices.

Even after this harsh warning to Israel, verse 19 tells us they did what they wanted anyways; what they wanted was to be like everyone else. Is this not where we are as Christians in America today? We want to be like everyone else. We want everything the world has told us we need to be successful. Cars, boats, big houses, big pretty churches that entertain us rather than equip us. God has called us to worship Him, live a righteous and holy life and make disciples of all nations in every corner of the world. But instead we are worshiping our electronic devices, secretly committing adultery on the internet while pointing the finger at the brother who drinks a beer. If that is not enough, when was the last time any of us has given an extra $100 over and above our tithe to a foreign missionary? Or even worse, when was the last time we even tithed? I know these are harsh words, and believe me I heard them first before I expressed them. Christians have the opportunity to make changes in this nation and God told us exactly how that can happen.

My question is: Will we continue to follow in the footsteps of Israel and do what we want, or will we listen to the words of Samuel? When discussing this very topic, a good friend reminded me of 2 Chronicles 7:14. This is interesting because this passage is a few kings into the reign of the Kings of Israel. Solomon has just finished the building of the Temple and Kings Palace. God has just come to Solomon in the night and had given him a very similar warning as the one given to Samuel. But there is one difference. Along with this warning (vs. 19-22) is a promise:

2 Chronicles 7: 13-15

“If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain,

or if I command the locust to devour the land,

or if I send pestilence among My people,

and My people who are called by My name humble themselves

and pray

and seek My face

and turn from their wicked ways,


then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to the prayer offered in this place.

Wow! What a great deal. Along with this warning is a promise; a promise which was not given when God spoke through Samuel. But there are stipulations on this promise. The little words in the middle of verse 14 “then” and the beginning of verse 15 “Now” change everything. These words put a condition on the timing of God’s answered prayers. I think this is awesome. We know exactly what it takes to see our nation healed. We must humble ourselves; which could mean giving up a couple of those nice toys and using His money more wisely. Or it could just mean asking for forgiveness for some wrong we committed against a brother or sister. Or it could mean both. We must seek His face, which I believe means pray and for men it means taking back the spiritual leadership in our homes through living example. And—here is the kicker—turn from our wicked ways. This may mean turning off the computer and turning to the pursuit of our wives. I know I cannot force anyone to do this, but when each of us takes responsibility for our own actions and hold one another accountable in love and encouragement, THEN He will hear our prayers from Heaven and heal our land. THEN His eyes will be open and ears listening to our prayers offered in His house.

So I ask again; are you worshiping Him or some electronic god? Are you, turning from your wicked ways or just taking a little peek at some porn. Are you, giving back to God financially through your local church and supporting foreign missions or are you spending money on needless desires? There is hope within our grasp. Our nation’s fields of grain CAN again be amber.

What is the value of hard work, are goals really worth setting?

I recently accomplished what I had considered to be one of the biggest tasks or activities an individual can undertake. However, it was completely uneventful, unfulfilling and most of all it didn’t change a thing. It didn’t change my self-concept, it didn’t change my self-image, it didn’t change my economic status, it didn’t change a thing, except my knowledge that it didn’t change a thing. This may very well be an exaggeration, but the fact is we often set goals for ourselves which once accomplished, leave us empty and still searching.

Goal setting has usually been considered more a male behavior or at least more a temperament or personality trait. Some people are not goal driven like me. They don’t base their life on setting out to accomplish specific tasks. I personally, have always been goal oriented. I have had short term and I have had long term goals. They are either conscious or unconscious, given to me by others or set by myself but I have always had goals. In general today’s society has made all of us goal oriented to one extent or another.

A good example of this is what we call credit. There are credit cards, credit unions, credit extensions and of course the dreaded—bad credit. It is everywhere! It is on the television and radio ads with this guy talking really fast about the conditions of credit. It is in the junk mail we all run to the curb every day to open. It is in electronic form on our computer screens next to the list of emails we have yet to read. We all know about credit and we all have goals associated with it. When we are young we set a goal to get it. Once we have it we set a goal to get rid of it. The point is that life is made up of goals; some short, some long but all of us have some sort of goals.

Goals in and of themselves are not at all bad. It is when we start to judge our worth based upon the accomplishment of these goals that we start to find ourselves heading down the road of self-destruction. Our worth lies solely in the work Christ did on the cross. Our value lies solely in the work Christ did in the grave. If you are a born again, spirit filled child of God then you have worth and you have value. God’s plan is to use us to save the world. It isn’t whether we are idealists who want to save a whale or a spotted owl. It is whether we are idealistic enough to save the human race. This won’t come through fewer emissions of carbons gasses or the use of wind and solar power. It will come through us doing what we have been commanded to do and be a good testimony and witness to our neighbor. This means doing what it takes to exemplify a good marriage, a good parent, a good neighbor and yes even a good driver. This is the only goal that really matters.

All the hard work in the world will amount to nothing if we do not set the one goal for ourselves that matters. Finishing my Bachelor’s degree was uneventful and I expect finishing my Masters will be equally uneventful. But listening to the missionaries that come home after the short term mission trips to Panama, Costa Rica, Romania and Kenya I see hard work that matters. Souls are confessing Jesus, churches are being planted where there has never been a witness for Jesus, the only name under which we can be saved. Those who supported these missionaries financially and even more important in prayer understand a goal worthwhile, and completely eventful. I ask again-

Q. What is the value of hard work, are there goals worth setting?

A. Yes, One lost soul saved.