Introduction: It is a great thing to be able to do better in life in things we want to do and achieve. We want to have progress and to know the difference between a failure and what it takes to be successful. Paul says to Timothy in his second letter: “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth”.
Progress is a word defined as an “n. which means; 1. (Advancement is toward a goal or to a further or higher stage in life). (WEBSTER’S UNIVERSAL COLLEGE DICTONARY. In a personal way, it is what a person wants to do to better in life, secular or religious. To have progress in any part of our life and in some person’s lives is some times relative to a given situation. To others progress is through getting a good education. To my understanding going through an experience helps a lot to clarify a situation that I might, or perhaps something you might be going though.
For example, when I was about six years old, I had an experience that helped me to understand my limitations. I was raised part of my life in a small town called Superior in northeastern Arizona. I grew up with Native Americans of the Apache Nation. One of my friends name was Manuel Bendle, all of 12 years old. A veteran he was. I will tell you why. He introduced me to chewing tobacco. He asked me to smell it and it smelled sweet like candy. “Want to try it?” I answered, “Sure”! He said, “Chew it and spit, but don’t swallow.” Well, I swallowed. I even remember its’ name, Star Chewing tobacco. When he saw that I swallowed, he started to laugh in a quiet grunting, muttering way and said, “I told you Louie not to swallow.” And he followed with, “huh, you are turning green!” I learn quickly like that! I made some progress in my young life. I learned this. Don’t swallow every thing that is offered you. As believers in Christ, we must get the right knowledge or information to make progress as we should in our spiritual life. In the spiritual realm there is no substitute for an experience based on the word of God. If you read the book of Proverbs, it will give you some smarts, or quick learning. so that you won’t make too many mistakes. As we continue to progress in this conversation, I remember Robert. His mom and dad were my first wife’s grandparents. They came from Texas and had moved to California years before. Well John and Opal were raised where guns were in common use. People sometimes had to hunt for game. And Robert, one their sons, wanted to learn how to quick draw. Well, he did and he was fast! One day he said, “Louie, I can draw this pistol (a balanced six gun, replica of the peace maker), before you can clap your hand twice, I will place the barrel between your hands.” Well, he did! Then, he went on from there to try it with a real gun. It was a long barreled old army Colt pistol. I wasn’t there at the time he tried the quick draw, but I heard he had to go to the hospital to take care of his foot he shot though. Progress can some times be very, very painful. But, you can’t learn as much without hard times and some hard experiences. I’ve had my hard times. I’ve walked with the Lord for more than fifty years. I’ve learned to progress in spite of the death of people I love. I buried my mom and dad. Two of my brothers died of cancer. I officiated in one of their funerals. My first wife died of cancer. My second wife died of head tumors. And these were great people and I learned much from them. They really loved the Lord. I mean, and then to lose them, that is painful. But, though it all, I have progressed.
I have realized how the Holy Spirit can comfort and how he can heal your pain. I learned to move on with my life. There is a heaven I’m convinced. God gave me to understand that I should appreciate all that I have received. I have learned to praise and worship Him at all times. “I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall be continually in my mouth,” Psalm 34:1. We learn how to serve Him the best that we can. As people who belong to Him, God has called us to be builders, builders of lives, nations, to give the gospel to many. And God moves through us. And the move of God through us, can progress as we listen, and are obedient to His call, in whatever he calls us to do. Not everyone can go to a foreign country to be a missionary, but we can support them as we know with our finances. We can also be a help to the needy people around us. Some need food, others need clothing, and others need a place out of the bad weather to survive. Yet, if you win many people to the Lord, where are you going to place them? Some of you are builders of buildings, of constructions. You may want to build a new facility for the Lord where they can live and be trained in some work or job. When we built the new church buildings in South Phoenix, where my first wife and I pioneered as pastors, it took many years and many sacrifices of labor and problems of funding for many people from our church and from other churches and other people. Some times in passing by they would decide to help. A roofer came by once and taught us how to put on roof shingles, just because God put it in his heart. God sent us electricians, block layers, and cement finishers and carpenters. Free! The purchase of the land and the building took at least 15 years or more to achieve. Some sold property others did it by promises, to pay for the land. It was a sacrifice of love for our Lord by people who loved Him. It was not easy after my wife died at the 19th year to go on and pastor alone to the 23rd year. And it took me awhile to get over her death. . But finally, the work was done because God said that He wanted it done to show His glory. And we obeyed. It’s that simple! Step by step He provided the ways and the means and the people to do it. It is not how much education or knowledge we have, it is what God knows and he knows everything. When God speaks, He is faithful to help you carry it out. We must learn from our experiences with Him and with the knowledge of His word. And we must know the voice and the leading of the Holy Spirit to accomplish that which he calls us to do. Nothing else is as important. I must take a moment to thank the Lord for a man God used mightily in my life at that time. You might not know him. We grew up together in the same neighborhood. He never had much education having to work harvesting on farms. When he came to church seeking me, he needed to be set free from alcohol. He was so addicted he came to church drunk. He came that way many times asking for prayer. One day he stood up and testified that he was sober and saved and prayer for that was no longer needed. God gifted him with a prophetic ministry, for me. He would come to our home at hours from 12 midnight on; to inform me of what was to happen to us in the near future. When everything was fulfilled, he said that he didn’t have to come anymore. Ramon Carrasco is one of the heroes of faith that we had in our church! If it wasn’t for him, I would not be alive. You see, as a boy, he saved me from drowning in the Salt River. And when he was drowning in liquor, God used me to save him from drowning! I hope he is still alive!
From Phoenix, I was called to the Northwest to be an associate pastor at a church in Seattle, Washington. And there I also became part of the Full Gospel Business Men’s organization. Through them, I was healed of grief because of my first wife. And I kept progressing. And I was able to minister to some of them whose wives had died so that they could trust the Holy Spirit to comfort them as He did with me. And during those years, many prophetic words were given me which was fulfilled. Some were about what happened to me in the past, and some were about what would be happening to me in the future. It’s nice to know where and why the Lord takes you through some things! As an interpreter I went to Spain and the Canary Islands with a team of Full Gospel Business men. So many miracles and healings happened that it was like the book or Acts. Sometimes, we would pray for 100 or more people in a single service at a church. From fallen arches to different kinds of cancer to extending of legs to deliverance and more, people were set free and healed! Our director Ken Lomax kept me at his side in these instances helping him pray for people and interpreting for him. Being a man of prayer, God used him mightily! How we met is a story in itself! And we continue to be friends and brothers in Christ. We went on nine team trips to Spain and the Canary Islands. On one occasion, at a Full Gospel Business Men’s dinner in the Gran Canary Island of the Canary Islands of Spain, we listened to some great testimonies. But one of them has stuck in my memory as to how you should be tenacious and determined to seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It was from a fisherman, the owner of a boat that needed much repair. He was from Paul Yongi Cho’s church of South Korea, fishing in the waters off the coast of east Africa. But he needed a larger boat. After a while, he did get it! The Lord gave him a place to fish where with the sales of the catches he had the money in the record time of three months! He shared his secret in a way that showed resolve. And he did this with a simple plan; he had to pray for an answer for a fishing boat. It cost $500,000. His English wasn’t too clear. But everyone understood his emphasis when he said how to receive an answer repeating it to us many times; “Pray! Pray! Pray!
Whatever the Lord God calls you to do, do it with all your might! Look! You can put your trust in the Lord, he cannot lie! He is not a man that he should lie to us! Will you trust Him today with your life and soul? Will you obey Him simply, and sincerely? Let us pray much, and with resolve for the vision God has given each one of us. Lord, help us to accomplish it! And I, well, as for me at 76, I am still a work in progress!