LUFKIN, March Report

 “Hear my prayer, O Lord, give ear to my supplications: in thy faithfulness answer me, and in thy righteousness.  Therefore is my spirit overwhelmed within me; my heart within me is desolate.”   Psalms 143:1&4

     It is amazing how much activity can fit into a mere twenty eight days. Texas weather kept us guessing from one day to the next on our wardrobe choices.  And God was ever faithful to us as we walked through each day serving Him.

     Nine guest cooks stood and delivered some mighty fine meals. We ate beef spaghetti and chicken spaghetti. We were saying, “gracias,” after we ate three south-of-the-border meals of tacos, taco salad and taco soup. Then one evening we had hot dogs and beans. Another evening we enjoyed beans and rice. Homemade chicken pot pie and peach cobbler were served. Then we had a sausage and cabbage casserole to round out the delicious meals we had this past month. Our bellies were full and content when we got up from the table.

The drug court alumni returned with another serving of goodie bags and fellowship.

     EMPLOYMENT REPORT:

New jobs-2

Total working-2

Praise the Lord!

     With as many people as we have staying here our “new jobs” number is too low. Most of our folks aren’t able to work. A few are not serious about finding work. And some are just waiting for their next month’s check or another hand out. Through the Bible studies that we present twice daily our desire is for the residents to learn about the Lord and choose a better life for themselves. The best part is that they don’t have to do the “driving”, God is the perfect “navigator”, don’t you know?!

Spring chores are going on at GODTEL. The garden has been tilled. The dirt has been fertilized. And red potatoes have been planted in the ground. The yard is showing signs that it, too, needs a trim. Time to service and crank up the lawn mowers.

We haven’t shut down the heaters, yet. The winter season is lingering longer than usual. Sweaters, coats, gloves and warm hats are still walking around here.

The front two offices have been emptied. The floors have been mopped, stripped, waxed and sealed. Furniture has been put back in place and the rooms are in use again. Come see the fresh new faces in the front building.

Martin and I made a quick one day trip to Nederland and back for a shareholders meeting. We did get to see our son and grandchildren. The business and family are all doing well. We praise God for such sweet blessings.

Luther checked in early January. He had a job and just needed a little time to save up money to get his own place. One day he came into my office and told me that he had lost his job. On the way home he stopped in at another business and before the end of that day he had another job. Praise God. Each payday he put money in the GODTEL safe and by mid-February he moved out into his own place. Luther has stopped by to say hi and eat with us a time or two. What a blessing to share this positive story with you.

This was Deidra’s second time at GODTEL. This time she was waiting for a bed in a rehab facility. While she was here she was restricted to the property. We kept her busy. The kitchen was spotless. The women’s dorm was neat and clean. Her attitude was most encouraging. She finally got the call. She will be gone about 6-9 months. She may return to Lufkin. She might not. Either way we hope she seeks God’s guidance on this matter.

John, also, has been here before. He, too, was waiting on a bed at a rehab facility. While here, John was most helpful. Martin appreciated his help around GODTEL. We don’t always have work opportunities for those who are “waiting,” but when we do–chores are done and projects are completed. Most of all we desire a heart change for these two who are trying to have victory over their addictions. And we know that JESUS is the WAY. You are in our prayers, John and Deidra.

One Tuesday evening we took a break and drove down to Livingston. We were invited to attend a concert showcasing local talent from PolkCounty. It was a fundraiser for Relay for Life-cancer research and services for patients. Bro. June was one of the performers. And so was his son, Josiah. All those who performed were very good. We had a very pleasant night out. Thank you for inviting us, Nancy and Bro. June.

There were birthdays galore in February. Presidents Washington and Lincoln were remembered… Our nephew added another year to his resume. But the cutest celebrants were our great nieces-Alia, Sydney and Falyn.

March events include: spring break, St. Patrick’s Day and daylight savings. Maybe the real spring season will arrive on time.

Spring, winter, summer or fall I am glad my God is always on time and right where He is suppose to be. And I am thankful for you-our supporters. Thank you for sharing your blessings with us, prayer requests and gifts. God IS good.

Because of Him we serve,

Martin and Mary Baker

 “Cause me to hear thy loving kindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust:

cause me to know the way wherein I should walk;

for I lift up my soul unto thee. “    Psalm 143:8

 

 

 

Even God Does Not Always Please Everyone

     “I am going to report you to the newspaper, the television, and the radio,” she angrily shouted.

     Most of you have probably heard the quote from Abraham Lincoln, “You can please some of the people some of the time, all of the people some of the time, some of the people all of the time, but you can never please all of the people all of the time.” Most of you have most likely also heard the response of Peter and the Apostles recorded in Acts 5:29. They told the crowd that they must obey (please) God rather than men. At the Nacogdoches mission this past month, we failed to please some people but, in so doing, we were seeking to be good stewards, wise and responsible in our efforts to please God.

          Many of the people we minister to here at GODTEL are very immature emotionally and socially. These individuals do not want to accept responsibility for their lives and behavior. They want to make poor choices and have someone else pay the “tab.” In other words, they live to please themselves but when the consequences of living that way are imposed, they whine and complain and blame others.

          In Nacogdoches there was a woman asking to come stay at the mission. A church had paid for her to be in a motel for one night when she told them she had lost her place to live. She told me on the phone that she was planning to go to a shelter in Longview the next day but she did not have a way to get there. I told her I would check into the situation and return her call. I also told her that we would administer a drug test to her in behalf of anyone willing to help her with a bus ticket and if she failed, there would be no help. When I called her back to tell her she could not stay but that we would buy her a bus ticket, there was no answer.

          She began to go through the phone book calling churches telling slightly different stories trying to get help. We are thankful for those who called to inquire about why we would not let her stay at GODTEL. Some of them decided they would not help her either.

          Let me explain our reasoning. This woman has been a guest at each of our three homeless shelters on numerous occasions beginning back in 2006. She might get a job but it would last only a few weeks before she quit. She frequently complained about doing her daily chores at the missions. Though she now receives a disability check, it quickly disappears, often before her rent is paid. Her boyfriend, with whom she was living, is addicted to narcotics and takes from her to support his habit.

          One minister told us she said she had a bus ticket to her sister’s in Shreveport. When we asked her about that she denied having told that to anyone. (She has been known to be untruthful in the past so it appears that she has not changed in that respect.)

          After a week of phone calls from and about her, she became angry with Royce and said she was going to report us for not being willing to help her. She does not realize that if our actions teach her to hold on to her monthly check and pay her living expenses so she won’t have to go through this again, we have helped her. It comes under the heading of “tough love.” The last few times she had stayed with us, we warned her that she needed to be more responsible because we had reached the limit of offering her help and we would not let her stay again. We relented several times but the last time she left, we firmly told her, “No more.” If we were to relent again, she would never believe we meant what we said and possibly not believe that God means it when He says, “You must be born again” in order to escape an eternity in hell and be able to enter Heaven.

            There are many people who do not believe God means it when He says those who do not receive Christ will be sent to hell. They think God’s love will cause Him to let everyone go to Heaven, no matter what they believe or how they act. Unbelief leads to inaction, unchanged choices and ultimately to disaster and destruction. God is love and has done all necessary to enable mankind to enter the eternal bliss of Heaven. If, however, we never admit we have sinned, acknowledge that we deserve to go to hell, invite Jesus into our hearts and take over the control of our lives, and unconditionally surrender our will to His will, when the time for judgment arrives, He will tell even those who call Him Lord, to depart from Him. (See Matthew 7:21-23.)

      We tell our residents that it is not right for us to allow them to be lazy and/or not spend their money wisely while we accept money for their support from caring hard-working people and those on fixed incomes. Though we will continue to feed those no longer welcome to live at the mission (under most circumstances), we do have a sign posted at our food-serving windows which has a quote from the Apostle Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians, specifically, Chapter 3, Verse 10, which says, “If any one will not work, neither let him eat.” (All who live at any of our missions must abide by house rules and do daily “housekeeping” chores.)

      We do implement the teachings of Scripture and earnestly pray for God’s guidance and we do extend mercy repeatedly. However, as God shut the door of the ark and allowed every human who had rejected the warnings of Noah to be killed, we sometimes shut the door to our shelter to those who have proved themselves to be uncooperative. “He that being often reproved, hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.” Proverbs 29:1

 Polk County Concert

       There was a lot of talent demonstrated and enjoyed at February’s Relay for Life Concert which raised  $1,500 for the American Cancer Society. It was such fun, we plan to do it again next year (that is, if Jesus delays His return that long).

      Until next month, read your Bible, pray, and obey. God is watching. –Nancy Gentry

 

 Pensinger Praise Report!

According to the most recent PET Scan,

Rick’s cancer is gone!

(More details next month.)

Christian Growth

      Each Wednesday when Bro. June and I return to Livingston from the Nacogdoches and Lufkin missions, I meet in the office with my fellow workers. We pray and discuss what has transpired in my three-day absence and I get resident updates.

       The first week of January I told them to think about how they would answer the question, “Do I really want to grow as a Christian this year and how can this be accomplished?”  At our next meeting, I was very pleased, that each of my co-workers, Pegi, Benita, John, and Eric had actually spent time and put their thoughts down on paper.

      Each one said that they did want to grow spiritually this year and they all had good ideas about what they could do to encourage the process. My approach was from a slightly different angle than they thought. My question was not, “What can you do to grow?, but, “How is Christian growth  accomplished?” The answer I had in mind was, “Through suffering,” which, of course, has very broad applications.

      Hebrews 5:8 tells us that even though Jesus was a Son, He learned obedience through what He suffered. When we determine to be obedient to God, and what He has written in the Scriptures about how His followers are to conduct themselves, we find that we must say no to our human desires, fleshly appetites, and emotional urges. This “dying to self” does not feel good and produces suffering (to lesser and greater degrees).

      I think one of the reasons the Church is in such a sad condition today is because too many people are believing lies such as, “You deserve to be happy, so do whatever it is that makes you happy,” “If it feels good, do it,” “If it is hard, its not God’s will,” “God loves me and He understands—besides, He will forgive me.” (God will forgive but He does chastise His real children, producing godly sorrow in their lives and they will repent. They do not just keep on sinning.)

      An outgrowth of the meeting where all the answers to my question were read, was a paper written by Benita. Many of you are aware that God used the cancer in Rick Pensinger’s life to let Benita know she needed to quit smoking and that her tobacco use was a symptom of her spiritual rebellion.

      Once she realized that truth and she truly repented, she has experienced an amazing joy and closeness to God that often moves her to tears because she is so blessed. She sees that God is using her in new ways and she is humbled and amazed—and very careful to give Him all the credit. Her paper follows:

 Am I Ready?

      I know I’ve grown in the Lord since September of 2013 … the wonderful feelings I have that I can’t describe … this only by being set free of my spiritual disobedience, which was from smoking … seeing things more clearly in the Bible … wanting to read my Bible more … wanting to please the Lord more … having a family test me to my limits and still showing His mighty Love working through me to them and coming out with all my joy and peace much stronger … and knowing it’s all about HIM.

      But here lately, since a young lady came into the mission to stay … it seems as though the Lord has chosen me to help disciple her. The question is … AM I READY?

      Most people who need counseling or ministering to, ask for the more mature Christian ladies here at GODTEL, so this is something new for me. So far, I have been able to explain things to her, show her Scriptures in the Bible to help her understand what she was wondering about and leave her feeling better about herself and about GOD but she still has a long way to go—just like me.

      Every time after she leaves the room, I thank the Lord for giving me the right words to say, for if it wasn’t for the Lord talking through me, I would not be able to help anyone. I know I am able to minister to people, but I still question, “ARE YOU SURE I’M READY, LORD?”

      Just having the wonderful sense of peace all over me helps to let me know I’m doing something right, but I still wonder, “Why me?”  — Benita W.

       (Why? because she is available and obedient.) Until next month…    Nancy Gentry

The Whole Duty of Man

      The birth of our Savior was joyously celebrated at each of our three homeless shelters with singing, Scripture reading, a devotion, and a delicious and bountiful meal—not to mention the giving of gifts to all our resident guests.

      We are so very thankful for all who helped make this such a joyous occasion with your gifts of prayer, service, financial contributions, food, and gifts for our residents. Most of all, we are grateful to God Who not only provided a way for mankind to be reunited with Him (after Adam’s choice to rebel against the Father’s plan, a choice which condemned all mankind to an eternity of torment with the first creature who rebelled—Lucifer—and a third of God’s angels who erroneously followed him) but also Who (God, Himself) came to earth to do for us what we could not do for ourselves.

      As Jesus, God experienced humanity and the physical helplessness of that tiny baby. He experienced pain, the passage of time, and lived as a man, facing every temptation we face, and He always made the choice to take the way of escape the Father provides with each test. He was rejected and ridiculed by His own people and betrayed by one of His close followers. Then He was falsely accused of being a lawbreaker and sentenced to an agonizing death. No wonder He was characterized as “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” He endured all because He set His eyes on His goal and was looking forward “to the prize set before Him”—the redemption, justification, sanctification, and glorification of anyone who will diligently seek Him and make the choice to believe He is Who He claims to be—God, the Creator and sustainer of all creation. Combined with that belief we must turn away from living for self, sin, and Satan, invite Jesus to apply salvation to our personal account (saving us from the eternal death penalty for breaking God’s laws), and to become our Redeemer, Guide, Lord, Ruler, and Authority to Whom we give allegiance. Once we unconditionally surrender our will to His will and submit to His plan for our lives, He becomes our Advocate, Comforter, and Friend.

      We are earnestly hoping that this new year will see the fulfillment of the promised return of Christ. If, however, the time for realization of that promise has not yet come, we pray that this time next year will find us all more mature followers of and more deeply-devoted servants to our awesome God.

      Meanwhile, may you be blessed with knowledge, wisdom, heart-peace, guidance, and joy throughout the year to come with clear revelation of God’s will for you as you face each day’s allotment of tests, trials, and troubles.

 Fresh Coat of Paint

      We have a very gifted painter currently living at our Nacogdoches mission. He has put his talents to work for us and scraped and filled in holes and hung sheetrock and plastered and painted our large lobby. It looks great! Thanks, Danny.

“Retired” Missionaries

      My older sister, Helen, and her husband, Don, live in our “Elisha House” on the campus of the Livingston GODTEL. During 58 years of marriage, they have been missionaries in many parts of the world including the Middle East and Mexico. Don celebrated his 80th birthday several years ago and though his body has slowed down his fervor for the Lord is still going strong.

      Each week, Don teaches our Saturday morning Bible study at the Livingston mission. We have had some really good studies from both First and Second Peter with both verbal and picture illustrations from their missionary experiences. A frequent Scripture passage quoted is Micah 6:8, “The Lord hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” which goes along with Deuteronomy 10:12-13, “What doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all His ways, and to love Him and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, to keep the commandments of the Lord, and His statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good?”

      That is an excellent challenge for the new year for sure—and obedience is for our good! (One of my favorite Scriptures is Psalm 84:11, “For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly.” So, if you want good things this year, obey God.)

      Recently, Don shared a poem he had written many years ago. It is very humbling to contemplate its truth.

 Turnabout

 I took a step toward God,

He crossed infinity to me.

I murmured a prayer to God,

He spoke a Book to me.

I dropped a tear before God,

He shed His blood for me.

I gave a moment to God,

He unrolled eternity for me.

– by Don Bass, 1967 —

 

The Perfect Gift

       I think that waiting for Christmas to arrive is a bit like waiting for the return of Jesus Christ. This year I was particularly eager because I got the “perfect” gift for my husband. (I realize, of course, that Jesus, alone, is the perfect gift.) As Christmas approached, I was very excited and could hardly wait for the “fullness of time” to let him open this present. I was more excited than he was when the time came. Now I better understand the joy of giving.

      I am truly longing for the return of Christ, but through the 40 years of my Christian journey, I have spoken with many individuals who want Jesus to wait until “such-and-such” an event occurs before He returns. They are loving life on earth more than they are longing to see our Savior face to face and begin to enjoy the wonders He has prepared for those who love Him. (It makes me wonder if they really know, and are known by, the Lord of glory.)

Update on Rick

       Rick Pensinger, a valuable member of our GODTEL family is still being lovingly cared for by his family in Florida as he recovers from the painfully unpleasant effects of the radiation and chemotherapy treatments he endured for eight weeks. He is still in pain but, thankfully, the swelling is subsiding. The next PET Scan will be in February. We know God is doing a work in Rick and in those who love and care for him. Please continue to pray for them.

 Nancy Gentry

 

 

 

Christmas Blessings

     Winter has hit east Texas. Laugh, you Northerners… Our temperatures this year have rivaled the northern states. The difference, as my Michigan cousin and I talked about, is that these frigid days and nights pass quickly down here while our upper states stay in a holding pattern. Brrr! And that is why I live down south and not up north.

     Merry Christmas! We had a wonderful Christmas at GODTEL. There were many fun gatherings leading up to the 25th of December. We had guest cooks galore. Some were our faithful regulars. Some were one-time blessings. And others were one-time cooks who decided to make their visits regular, also.

     The youth group from Central Church of Christ returned with a meal and singing. The food was delicious and the singing got us in to the Christmas spirit.

     Burke and Diboll were represented with guest cooks from the First United Methodist Church (Burke) and the First Assembly of God Church (Diboll). We had chili made by Believers Bible Church, a most tasty meal for these cold days.

     Christmas Eve day we had a blessing to add to our already overflowing cup. Again, Lee Transervices favored GODTEL with a lunchtime (dinner) fit for a king. At 10:00 am the crew started arriving. Tables were not only set they were SET. Red tablecloths covered the long eating tables. Glass plates and goblets were at each place. The silverware was wrapped in cloth napkins. A sight to behold! The music began and Christmas carols were heard throughout “the land” or, at least,   throughout our building. We all raised our voices in songs declaring the birth of the Christ child.

     After the blessing we took our plates and walked down the buffet line, picking and choosing what we wanted to eat as the Lee employees served large and small portions of food. All that we enjoyed was a community effort. Several businesses had a part in this festivity and we thank them all.

     Well, it didn’t stop there. They not only came with a meal and songs, the Lee folks cleaned everything up. There was no trace of the gluttonous eating that had just taken place at GODTEL–but there were full bellies, smiles on our faces and thanks from our hearts.

     Christmas celebrations continued the next day. Volunteers showed up early, I mean really early, to prepare the breakfast for the residents. The Willing Workers Sunday School class at Calvary Baptist provided the menu items for us. The goods were delivered Monday before Christmas day. With eggs from our own hens we enjoyed a meal of eggs (fried and scrambled), bacon, ham, sausage, hash browns, biscuits, gravy, jelly, fresh fruit, milk, juice and coffee.

     The bell rang and a short Bible study was presented. We were reminded about the love God has for us. And we were reminded that there would be no Christmas if there were no Christ. After the filling meal, clean-up was done by the residents. Relaxation and movies and finger-food snacks were on the agenda for the rest of the day.

     Teresa from the Texas Veterans Commission, with help from the Texas Workforce Commission, brought gift bags for everyone. She has donned her Santa hat for several years and we appreciate her care and concern for all the folks at GODTEL.

     We met nine-year-old Jackson who came a couple of nights to help serve the evening meal. It is such a blessing to see young people learn service. Jackson’s dad said they would return. We look forward to his next visit.

     The last Tuesday of the month was New Year’s Eve. We have a men’s group who come in on that day each month.  We called to see if they were still coming since it was a semi-holiday. The answer was, “yes.” Pizza and dessert were served. And they did Bible study that evening.

     So many blessings were poured on us this past month our hearts are full of joy and gratitude. There is no intention of leaving anyone out as I mention those who have helped, but I probably have. Please forgive me. We hope and pray that you had a glorious Christmas celebration and we pray you have a God-filled year of prosperous spiritual growth.

     Resident update—we have stayed up in our population. The women’s dorm has kept a high number of residency. The men’s side had more, but they usually do. We had two little girls, with their moms, of course. Remember Cierra from last month? When Ember and her mom checked in, Cierra just lit up. Her face was one big smile and she commenced to “talking.” It was the funniest thing. In the midst of the life situations these two young women are going through, God sent blessings beyond compare.

     Thank you for your faithful support and encouragement last year. We pray that we can continue to be partners in service to the Lord through GODTEL this year.

     We look forward to new adventures in the Lord. Come join us. We can walk together: GOD, you and us.    Amen                               

Because of Him we serve,

Martin and Mary Baker

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR!