Excitement! Anticipation! Fear! Joy! Worry! Expectation! All these words can be used to describe the different emotions that we might feel in the beginning of a New Year. Some are glad to wave good-bye to 2015. Some left things undone and wish they could go back and have a “do-over.” Some are so busy looking back that they will miss what is just in front of them. Others will spend too much time looking forward to notice the things that are happening in their world today! There is a balance that needs to come in our lives as believers. I am reminded of a few verses from Romans 14. Verses 7-8 say, “For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.” This life we have been given is such a sacred trust! God has a plan for each step you and I take in this life. Psalm 37:23 says, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.” Knowing that God has a plan for my life gives me value! Knowing that there is a place God wants me to go in 2016 gives me a purpose for waking up every morning. The work that God has given me is thrilling! The work He has given you is equally exciting! Don’t squander away one minute of 2016. Make your life count for eternity! I don’t know His plan for this year coming, but I know that He has a plan and I want to fit into that plan as well as I can, knowing that I am not living for myself!
In this generation of technology it seems the personal touch is missing. As one said, “I am tired of Facebook, I want a face look.” Some have learned you can have thousands of FB friends and still be lonely. In 1979, AT&T said, “Reach out and touch someone.” Today it is, “Reach out and text some one.” We need to realize that there is no substitute for a “touch” and being “there” when needed. Illustration: A boy was declining in health. One compassionate nurse said some kinds words, and hugged him. She noticed he perked up. She did this on each visit. The doctor was amazed at the boy’s improvement and asked, “What made the difference?” The nurse said he seems to improve with love and hugs. The doctor prescribed, “Give more love and hugs.” There are many who need this prescription. There are times that everyone needs to be loved and hugged – everyone! One girl was playing and called to her dad, “Come out and play with me, I am alone.” He said, “Not now I am busy. But remember you are not the alone, the Lord is with you.” She said, “I know, but I want someone with skin that I can touch.” A touch means more than a text. Someone needs you! It seems that I-phones, cell phones, and smart phones are now 24/7/365 and in constant control of our lives. Well, it could be time to put down your I-Pad, Smart phone, cell phone, FB, emails, texting, unplug your ear-phones and reach out and “touch” someone. “Some having compassion making a difference” (Jude 21). At this time, can you think of someone that you need to reach out and “touch?” Someone in a nursing home, hospital, a shut-in, invalid, or living alone. Someone facing a tragedy, health issues, discouragement, disappointment, a broken home or a broken heart? Has the Lord touched your heart to touch someone? “But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels (heart) of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?” (I John 3:17). Do you see or know someone who needs you? Reach out and touch someone. Do it now! Tomorrow could be too late. Don’t have later regrets! You will be glad you did, so will they, and so will the Lord.
WHERE WE HAVE BEEN … WHERE WE ARE GOING
“For a great door and effectual is opened …” I Corinthians 16:9
What God has done …
· Nov 7 — We held our last Fantastic Saturday of the year at Lighthouse Baptist Church in Gloucester City, NJ. We had 83 attend, and one person saved!
· Nov 8 — Jim preached at Calvary Bible Church in Phoenixville, PA.
· Nov 9-13 — Jim traveled to Georgia and preached at Harvest Baptist Deaf College chapel on the 10th. He had a very successful planning meeting on the 11th with Jon Barr and Bob VanSant. More details to follow.
· Nov 15 — Jim preached in the morning at Bible Baptist Church in Quakertown, PA as part of their Missions emphasis. There were 25 Deaf that came for the special day! It was a blessing!
· Nov 15 — Jim preached at our home church, Valley Forge Baptist in the evening. It is always good to preach at home!
· Nov 17 — Jim preached at Chester County Prison and saw 12 saved!
· Nov 22 — Jim preached at Graterford Prison. There are a group of very serious Bible students there. It is a blessing!
· Nov 28 — Jim spoke at our churches 5K run to raise money for wells in Africa. Jim gave the Gospel and 3 people responded for salvation. Terry and Jamie (our oldest daughter) finished the 5K race!
· Nov 30 — Jim spoke at our local church gym night and saw 9 saved!
· Dec 12 — We traveled to Grace of Calvary Baptist in Erie, PA for their Deaf Christmas banquet. We had a great time and saw 8 people saved!
· Dec 15 — Jim preached at Chester County Prison and 5 were saved!
. Dec 27 — Jim finished out the year preaching at Graterford Prison
Where we are going …
· Jan 5 — Jim will preach at Chester County prison to two ladies groups and one men’s group.
· Jan 16 — We will be speaking at the Fellowship of Christian Farmers breakfast near Elmer, NJ. This group has an “Outreach Banquet” in February to reach unsaved farmers in southern NJ. Jim speaks at the breakfast to encourage them to have a burden for souls.
· Jan 17 — Jim will preach at Calvary Bible Church in Phoenixville, PA.
· Feb 6 — We will be teaching Sign classes at Clearcreek Chapel in Ohio.
· Feb 14 — We will attend our annual SWM Board meeting in Trenton, GA.
· Feb 15-18 — We will meeting with the other members of SWM Executive Operating Board for planning time.
· Feb 21 — We will give a report at Valleyview Baptist Church in Northampton, PA all day.
· Feb 27 — Jim will speak at the Sportsman’s Dinner for Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Ephrata, PA.
· Feb 28 — We will take part in the morning services at Mt. Zion Baptist. Jim will be preaching.
These months are typically months we do not travel as much as others. We do pick up again in March. We appreciate you praying for us to complete the things we need to do from the home office during this time. Please pray for weekly Bible studies that are filmed during every week of the year! Thank you.
New beginnings … that is what comes to all of our minds when we start a New Year. New goals and a fresh start to reach those goals. Get into shape, stick to your diet … a fresh start! But for our family, we have a “new life!” Yes, Lawrence and Amanda (our youngest daughter) had their new little girl! December 5, Loretta (Layla) Ama Lartey was born. She is so precious! We received the call Saturday morning that things were happening. We arrived at the hospital and as soon as I walked into the room I began crying. This was my baby having a baby! Lawrence had broken his foot and was on crutches. They asked me to stay for the delivery of the baby to help out. WOW! I was so excited and blessed to be able to be there.
Amanda pushed for about an hour. During that time the three of us worked together as a team. I felt like I was having a baby myself! I was able to be there to see the precious life begin that only my great and mighty God could give. I truly am amazed at the power and love of God. I thought about the phrase, “For by him were all things created …” (Col. 1:16). My prayer was immediately that this little girl; Layla, would be used by God. I prayed that she will give her life to God for His honor and glory all her life long. I am praying the same thing for our other eight grandchildren, and for our children too! God is so good! Enjoy your new beginning in 2016!
What an exciting time in the history of the world to be able to serve God as salt and light! I know we hear a good bit of complaining about how bad the world is, but I believe it is during times like this that we have the best chance to make an eternal difference!
When meat is bland, it needs salt (in my opinion). Our world is certainly starting to look the same wherever you turn. Increasing violence, mixed with a seeming increase in natural disasters, added to failing economies put most people with the same feelings of hopelessness. We as the salt need to let the world know that we have hope! We know the One Who can change darkness into light!
However, if the salt loses its taste … If we fall into the trap of gloom and despair that the rest of the world is in … what good are we?
The last time I checked, it is always light that drives out darkness. Darkness has no power over light. When I enter a dark room and turn on the light, darkness is forced to flee! It is time for we believers to allow the “light” of the Word of God to dwell richly in our behavior! When we try to mimic the world in it’s philosophies, music, dress and habits, we are robbing them of the light that they so desperately are searching for today.
As I sit here at my desk, I have optimism for what God could do in 2016. You see, as long as we are still here on the earth, there is an opportunity for the message of God to go forth. That means that today is as good as any day in the history of the world to represent God as salt and light. I want this coming year to be the greatest year of spiritual growth in my life! I want to allow the Holy Spirit to conquer new grounds in my life this year. I want to see Him work in areas of my life that still need work to become more like Jesus Christ.
I also want to surrender my abilities, finances, time, and efforts to Him fully this year. I have seen on the pages of my Bible what God can do with ordinary things like a rock, a little boys lunch, and even a common fisher that was placed in His hand. I want to see God do wonderful things with this simple grain of salt called my life. I want to be the light that my friends and neighbors can see clearly. I want to make this year the most spiritually productive year of my life!
I remember when I was first starting to learning Sign Language. My heart for the Deaf was far better than my hands for the Deaf. As a matter of fact, there were many times when I wondered if I would ever learn how to sign what I was really trying to say.
God blessed us with some of the most wonderful Deaf people to work with in those beginning days. When I was teaching in those early days, I had a hard time with mixing up the sign for “man” and “woman.”
Many times I watched my hands sign the opposite of what I meant to sign. For example, I would want to sign, “When I was a young man …” and I would actually sign, “When I was a young woman …”
I can recall many times when that happened, and I would see the Deaf in front of me begin to giggle slightly. They would try to hide their smiles, but I could see them, and I would ask them, “What is so funny?” To which they would reply, “You signed that you were a woman again!”
I learned a very valuable lesson during these times (there were many learning opportunities). I learned that if I could laugh along with them rather than being offended at them pointing out my failures, it helped me to improve. In any ministry you might be involved in, if you can learn to laugh at yourself, you will be far better off than if you take offense when your mistakes are seen by all! Smile!
We do have news! Terry already wrote in her article about the arrival of Loretta (Layla) Ama Lartey. Our ninth grandchild! We now are blessed with five grand-daughters and four grand-sons (and one more already in Heaven).
We were told that Lawrence and Amanda’s little girl was going to be named Layla. We had been calling her Layla when talking about her ever since we knew she was a little girl in the womb.
But … right after she was born, Terry, Jamie, Monica and I were invited into the room she was in with her parents. Lawrence called my father and made the announcement that this little girl would be named “Loretta Ama Lartey.” Loretta was my mothers name. Needless to say, we all were speechless and many tears were shed.
That name reminded me that day that with life there is always death to consider. None of us will live forever. As great as the day of her birth was, we were reminded of the death of her name-sake, my mother. It was a great surprise to us, and a great honor to a wonderful woman. Most people will call this little girl, Layla. But my father and me are calling her Loretta (with the permission of her dad and mom). We praise the Lord for this ne addition to our family. We will include pictures in the future letter. Thank you for praying for our family.
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