Saturday, November 1, 2008

Thoughts about firewood and my ipod

This morning was a blessed morning. The Lord blessed me as I stacked about 4-5 facecords of firewood at our house. It's interesting how the Lord works things out. The firewood had been delivered to our house on Tuesday evening, just as our first winter storm of the year dumped about a foot of snow on us here in Lake Placid. As the snow fell, I realized that the huge stack of firewood, being quickly covered in snow, was completely blocking the entrance to our basement, and therefore I was not going to be able to get my snowblower out of the basement. That meant I was going to need to shovel the driveway THREE TIMES between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning so we could get our cars out of the driveway.

Anyway, finally this morning I had the chance to get to the pile of snow-covered firewood, to get it properly stacked along the wall leading down into our basement. As I began the process of shoveling the snow off of the firewood and then stacking the wood neatly against the wall, I had my ipod on shuffle songs mode. Every song that played was a song of praise to the Lord, declaring the goodness of God, the greatness of God, and more. Some of the artists who sang included David Crowder, Darrell Evans, 4Him, and my good friends Joel Goddard and David Ogden. As I heard songs celebrating the grace and forgiveness of God, songs declaring "this is what it means to be free!" and songs reminding me that "we are warriors for Jesus Christ!" there were times that God's grace was almost overwhelming. Who knew stacking firewood could become such a time of worship?

I have a couple of conclusions:

1. When you have a job to do, do it. Do it with the right attitude, and expect God's blessings to flow. They did for me this morning.
2. If you really believe that God is sovereign over everything (and I do) then He can even make sure you hear the right songs on "shuffle mode" on your ipod, songs that you need right at that moment.

Keep your focus on Christ at all times. He can work through firewood and ipods.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Thoughts on Psalm 1

Last year, Don Whitney spoke at Lake Placid Baptist Church on a Sunday morning, and the Lord used him in great ways to encourage us in our walk with Christ. One of the things he encouraged us to do was to pray through the Psalms.

With all apologies to Don for "Derek-phrasing" his method, here's what I heard him say: Read the Psalm, and pause every time a word or phrase causes you to notice a reason to pray. I'll demonstrate below, and tell you how this approach to prayer (I believe) is going to radically transform our prayer time at Lake Placid Baptist Church on Sunday nights, as well as transform the personal prayer time of those who will follow this approach.

This approach is not intended to be legalistic, boring or rote. It is intended to bring new life to your prayer time. See, too many times we get stuck in a rut with our prayer time, with a few phrases that we pray to get us going, a few requests here and a few "thank you's" there, and then we say "amen" and stop thinking about God the rest of the day. (Unless we get in trouble, and really need him, like if we're losing our retirement as the stock market crumbles or if we yell at our kids or need a big favor from God.) Paul tells us to "pray continually" (1 Thessalonians 5:17). This approach to prayer helps you to meditate on God and His Word long after your prayer time has ended.

You may just begin living a life of prayer to God

So, how would this work with Psalm 1?

Psalm 1
1 How happy is the man
who does not follow the advice of the wicked,
or take the path of sinners,
or join a group of mockers!
2 Instead, his delight is in the Lord’s instruction,
and he meditates on it day and night.
3 He is like a tree planted beside streams of water
that bears its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers.
4 The wicked are not like this;
instead, they are like chaff that the wind blows away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not survive the judgment,
and sinners will not be in the community of the righteous.
6 For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked leads to ruin. Psalm 1:1-6 (HCSB)
Your prayer time might begin something like this:

"Lord, You are the only one who can make someone truly happy, the only one who brings true blessings. That's the kind of man I want to be -- one that is blessed by You. I see that all around me is wickedness, mockers, sinners. I don't want to be influenced by wicked, mocking, sinfulness. Help me to not walk in that way, help me to not to be influenced by evil. Lord, help me to remember that the people who are caught up in wickedess, mocking and sinfulness are held captive by Satan and they need to be freed by Christ.

"Lord, to be happy I must be a man who delights in Your instruction. Oh, let me meditate on Your Word day and night. Let me think about Your promises. Let me see how wonderful Your words are. The world thinks that Your Word is restricting, but Lord I know that Your Word is for my good, and for Your glory.

"Lord, plant me by the river of your living water. Don't let me be like a tree trying to grow in the desert, but rather nourish me by Your Word so that I will be strong, and will produce much fruit. Lord, help the fruit of the Spirit to be evident in my life: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. Only You can produce spiritual fruit -- produce it in me! Lord, help me to see that You will prosper me in Your ways, in eternal ways.

"Lord, the wicked are like the chaff that blows away in the wind. They will not survive the judgment. Even if they had temporal success or fun in this world, they will not survive the judgment. Oh God, I don't want anyone I know to be included in this list of the wicked. I don't want my friends and family to go to hell. Lord, help them to see that You can make them righteous. Jesus died to forgive us of our sins. I pray for my friends who don't yet know You to turn from their sins and trust in You as Savior and Lord. Then they will be part of the community of the righteous. Lord, you watch over the way of those who have been made righteous by Christ, but You know that the way of the wicked will lead to ruin.

"Lord, thank you for Psalm 1. Thank you for all that it teaches me about You, and about my relationship with You. I love You, Lord. AMEN."

So, that's an example of how to pray a Psalm. I look forward to the next three years, as I journey with God in prayer, one Psalm per week, for the next 150 weeks. I'll blog some of the entries, hopefully to encourage you in your walk with Christ.

We are praying for a Great Awakening for North America. Lord, let it begin in Lake Placid.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Hiking with MudRat & Rob

Last Saturday, my brother-in-law, Rob, and I accepted an invitation to go hiking with our friend, Kevin McKenzie. (Rob had never met Kevin before the day of the hike.) We all three go to church together at LPBC. Kevin wanted to hike Wright Peak, one of the 46 High Peaks in the Adirondack Mountains. Since Rob and I had never climbed Wright Peak, we were excited to go.

One of the things you've got to know about Kevin is that he loves to hike off-the-trail. Bushwhacking is the term used to describe the kind of hiking he enjoys. (I'll describe it below.) Kevin's nickname is "MudRat," and after the hike up Wright Peak and back down, I understand why. [For more on MudRat's hiking adventures - and there are a lot - go to his website www.mackenziefamily.com/46/46r.html. Also go there to see Kevin's perspective and write-up about this hike, along with more photos. For a direct link to Kevin's post, go to http://www.summitpost.org/view_object.php?object_id=428920. You can also see the photo's on Rob's Facebook page -- Rob Lipop.]
A quick summary of the trip. We started at the Adk Loj at about 6:00 AM, and hiked to Marcy Dam. Then we went off the trail, following the river a short distance along a path. Then we crossed the river, and started up the mountain through the brush. The pine trees were a little sticky, but not too bad. When we got tired, we would stop to rest. MudRat was following a deer path, which was evident from time-to-time by the deer tracks and deer droppings. We eventually made our way to a stream that would be our main way up the mountain for a while. We climbed up and over rocks, in and out of the water, around waterfalls, under fallen logs, over fallen logs... it was cool. My wife & kids would have loved this part of the hike.

Then MudRat found our path up to the slide, which is a large slab of exposed rocks that would be the final part of our ascent to the summit. This path up to the slide was tough. Literally. This was the major bushwhacking. No machetes were used, just our shoulders and hands moving the trees out of our way through the thickest-pine-forest-you've-ever-seen. Sometimes the trees were so thick we could not see each other. We would have to call out to see which direction to hike. You couldn't even see your shoes sometimes. One time Rob said, "I am sure we are walking IN the trees." I think he was right. After making it finally through the bushwhack portion, we had a lot of fun climbing the slide. For most of it, we had to be very careful with each step and each handhold. No climbing gear was used, so we had to be extra careful with each step. After ascending the slide, we made it through one more short thicket via bushwhacking then we were at the summit. A good, 4 1/2 hour hike up.

The great things about hiking off trail include: getting to see some parts of God's creation that only a few people get to see; a good variety in the hike (up rivers, up rock slides, through thick forests, not just a normal trail); some great experiences to share with the guys you are hiking with, especially the blood you donate to the mountain.

Anyway, at the summit we ate lunch, then decided to try to find the debris from a WWII plane that crashed on the peak in 1962. After the war, the plane was flown out of Plattsburgh Air Force Base for training missions. Three people had been killed in the crash, and we found some of the debris. My kids and my wife would have loved to see that too.

Kevin had promised us "360 degree panoramic views of the High Peaks" in his email to us inviting us on the hike. Well, that is, those views exist unless the storm clouds begin rolling in. And did they roll in. Quickly. We were still looking at the debris when it started raining. Hard. We scampered back up to the summit, grabbed our backpacks, and put on our rain gear. I had made a crucial decision before I left the house to NOT bring my raincoat, but I had thrown in a trashbag to make an emergency poncho. Well, I needed it. I poked holes for my head and my arms and put on my backpack, then pulled the Glad trashbag over me. That led to a lot of jokes (mostly at my expense), but that was OK. It was pretty funny. And it was keeping my core dry.

We descended down the "people trail," the regular trail for Wright Peak. Lightning flashed and thunder cracked right beside us. MudRat wasn't sure it was a good idea to be above the tree line, so close to lightning that could electricute us. Kevin joked, "It would be bad for tomorrow's headlines to read: 'Three people struck by lightning at the summit of Wright Peak, and one of them was the Baptist minister!'" We knew God would protect us, and we knew He wanted us to descend as quickly as possible. We saw a lot of people coming up the mountain, who kept asking us, "How much farther to the peak?" and "Is it going to rain all day?" [They also kept laughing at my trash bag.] The descent was 3 hours, and it poured the entire hike down. Every time the rain let up a little, a couple of minutes later it was pouring. We were soaked from head to toe. Except for my core, which was covered by a trashbag. MudRat sloshed through every mud puddle he could find (hence his nickname), and we finally made it back to his car. What a great day.
So, we give thanks to God for the amazing mountains He has created. We thank God for the rain He sends to water the earth. We thank God for the strength to make hikes. We thank God for His protection. We thank God for friends to hike with. We give thanks for all things.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Ministry during Ironman USA Lake Placid 2008


On July 16-22, about 200 people from 10 different churches came together to serve others and share Christ during the Ironman USA Lake Placid Triathlon. It was a great week of ministry. As far as the race goes, 2000+ athletes competed in the Ironman, each of them swimming 2.4 miles, riding a bike 112 miles, and running 26.2 miles, all in one day!

The churches who served together included: Oak Grove (Bel Air, MD), Rolling Hills (Buford, GA), Camp Ground (Alto, TX), First Baptist (Springfield, VA), Immanuel (Colonial Heights, VA), Lake Placid Baptist (Lake Placid, NY), Calvary (Canton, NY), Saranac Lake Baptist (Saranac Lake, NY), High Peaks (Saranac Lake, NY), folks from a couple of other churches in the Adirondack Baptist Association.

THU, FRI, SAT, MON, TUE: Serving under the umbrella of North Country Ministries, people from many of the churches helped out in many ways and helped the event to be a huge success. Some of the ways we served on the days before and after the race: helping to register the athletes for the race, setting up tables & chairs & decorating for two banquets for 1700+ people, taking up tickets at the banquets, registering athletes for next year's race, leading kids activities at the volunteer banquet of 1000 people, and breaking down all the tables & chairs after that last banquet. Those were all official volunteer jobs with Ironman.

THU, FRI, SAT: We served in other ways too. We had a North Country Ministries booth in the Expo area, where we gave away free sno cones, face painting and balloon animals. Also, we had our Prayer Station set up to pray with people who came by requesting prayer, and to remind them that we would be praying for them on race day.

SAT: On the day before the race, we hosted a Free Pancake Breakfast for the athletes & their families & anyone else who wanted free pancakes. Almost 1000 people attended. We had wonderful conversations with everyone. We were able to hear some great stories from athletes from all over the world, and were able to tell them about our ministry and about our love for Jesus Christ. Later that evening, we hosted an Iron Prayer worship service at Lake Placid Baptist Church, called the "Ironman Prayer & Celebration Service." Great music from the LPBC Praise Band, great testimonies from Ironman athletes Brad Seng and Carrie Chavez, a great time of prayer for the athletes, and the gospel was presented. About 200 people attended the service, and 11 people indicated that they prayed to ask Christ to be their Lord & Savior! Our friends Randy & Jay from Fellowship of Christian Athletes Endurance http://www.fcaendurance.org/ were in town too to encourage the athletes and help network the Christian endurance athletes.

SUN: Race Day. On race day, it rained, no -- it poured -- all day long. Some communities reported 3-5 inches of rain on that day. Every time it let up a bit, a few minutes later it was a downpour. But, the race goes on, no matter the weather. So, the volunteers are needed too. Our folks served in three different areas. Some of our folks served at the aid station we led on the bike course. The volunteers for this job have to be in very good shape, to sync up with the bikers as they ride by, handing them water or gatorade or food. A few of our folks were road marshalls, helping to keep the roads clear of pedestrians & automobiles so the athletes would be safe. The rest of our group members were at the aid station we led on the run course. There, our guys served the athletes, encouraged the athletes, and prayed for the athletes all day long. Giving them water, gatorade, GU, food and other nutrients, as well as cheering them on and praying for them, our NCM volunteers learned what it was like to serve the way Jesus served. A special thanks also to Rich at http://www.316athleticwear.com/ for providing great Christian music all day and night for the athletes and for our volunteers. Most of the volunteers spent 6+ hours in the pouring rain, wet and cold, but persevering so that others could finish their race. Talk about lessons for life!
Congratulations to Kyle Blackwell and Mike Demerest, two North Country Ministries volunteers this year (and for several years now), who are members of Rolling Hills Baptist Church, who competed in and finished the triathlon this year. Each of them can now say, "I am an Ironman!" You'll see them in the picture below, along with some of their "fans," who are from Oak Grove Baptist Church.
Thanks to everyone for all of their ministry during Ironman USA Lake Placid 2008. It was a week we will never forget. To God Be The Glory!

Monday, June 9, 2008

The Pulse in Concert... and more

On May 26-June 1, a group of teenagers known as The Pulse traveled from Hebron Baptist Church (Dacula, GA) to sing, dance, stomp, play instruments, and minister in several communities of the Adirondack Mountains. They did a great job of representing Christ everywhere they went. Their servant spirit, high energy and love for Jesus was inspiring. We at North Country Ministries were grateful to partner with them to serve in several communities: Crown Point, Ticonderoga, Moriah, Jay, Au Sable Forks, Elizabethtown, Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake and Chateaugay.
They performed six great concerts while they were here. They clearly communicated the good news of Jesus Christ, and invited people to turn away from their sins and trust in Christ as Lord and Savior. Altogether, they ministered to hundreds of people and saw at least six people give their lives to Christ! They encouraged us all, and we are grateful for their ministry. They did it all for the glory of God!
(special thanks to Jonnie Guthrie for the photos above)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

"Miracle in Lake Placid" Videos

To get a good overview of our ministry with winter sports athletes, check out these videos. They were produced a few years ago to encourage people to step out of their comfort zone and follow God, to go wherever He sends them to tell people the good news of Jesus Christ. God has called us to Lake Placid, NY - where has He called you?


video

The first video is the short version (about 2 minutes) and the second video is the long version (about 4 minutes).

video

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Ministry at World Cup Snowboard

North Country Ministries partnered together with mission teams from Hebron Baptist Church and Rochester Bible Baptist Church to serve at the World Cup Snowboarding at Whiteface Mountain on Feb 27-March 3. We had a great time, met some great people, and served others in Jesus' name. We served as volunteers for the event in various ways. We also brought with us and gave away goody bags, hand warmers, gospel tracts, cowbells and Bibles. We had some great conversations with folks, telling them of the Greatest Champion who has ever lived - Jesus Christ.
We pray that the conversations we had and the items we gave away will ultimately help lead people to faith in Jesus Christ. Will you join us in praying for that?
By the way, how do you like the last two pictures? Something seems a bit similar about them. Hmm. All pictures from World Cup Snowboarding compliments of Boyd Langley.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Goody Bags, Handwarmers and Cowbells

When you encounter someone from our North Country Ministries team, you may be given a goody bag, some handwarmers or a cowbell. Why do we give these things away? Simply put, we are servants of Jesus Christ, and one of the ways we serve Him is by serving others. These simple acts of kindness help us to demonstrate the love of God.
Goody bags - who doesn't want a goody bag filled with candy, gum, chapstick, bandaids (never know when you'll cut yourself hiking, skiing, sledding, skating or riding) and more?
Handwarmers - in the Bible, Jesus teaches us to serve others and meet their needs. On some sub-freezing days, a warm pair of handwarmers is just what people need.
Cowbells - how do you cheer during winter sports events?? One way is to ring your cowbell! We love to give away cowbells to help encourage on the athletes as they compete in their favorite sport. And the cowbells are great souvenirs.

Our motivation to serve others goes deeper than just our concern for you to have good breath (peppermints), unchapped lips, warm hands and a cowbell for cheering. We want everyone to know the incredible love that God has shown to all of us in Jesus Christ. We have found a great online flash video that we recommend to you: http://www.thekristo.com/. Click on it then let us know what you think.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Emily's Baptism

Many of you are familiar with our ministry Hospitality to Internationals. One of the young ladies who has taken a bold step of faith is Emily. She is a college student from Taiwan and a committed Christ-follower. She came to Lake Placid to work during her college term. While in town, she attended Bible studies at Lake Placid Baptist Church, and the Lord began to impress on her heart and mind that she needed to follow Christ in believer's baptism. To declare to the whole world that she is a disciple of Jesus Christ, she was baptized at LPBC. Here is the video of her baptism.

video

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Free Water

Back a few years ago, our ministry was highlighted as part of the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions. Check out this short video clip that helps to illustrate the need to give to missions.


video

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Ministry during the World Cup Freestyle

On Jan 18-20, North Country Ministries (NCM) partnered with teams from The Outpouring Church (NY) and Dunnellon Christian Academy (FL) to serve at the World Cup Freestyle Skiing and Ski Jumping event in Lake Placid. We served as volunteers at the event, and brought with us goody bags, hand warmers, and cowbells, and prayed for opportunities to share with people the good news of Jesus Christ. Over 30 people in all from Lake Placid, Oswego and Dunnellon served together. We made over 400 outreach contacts during the weekend, planting many seeds of evangelism in the hearts of people.

In addition to ministry at the event, the team from Oswego worked with us at a coffee house for international students at Lake Placid Baptist Church (LPBC), part of the NCM ministry Hospitality to Internationals. And, they helped to lead the worship service at Lake Champlain Bible Fellowship on Sunday morning, Jan 20. They also joined in with the LPBC college/career group to watch the NFC Championship game, watching the NY Giants defeat the Green Bay Packers.

The team from Dunnellon sang during the Sunday morning worship service at LPBC, then hung out with the LPBC teens for the football game that night. We ate some pizza, watched some football, and had a great time of Christian fellowship.

On Sunday morning, during the worship service at LPBC, a young couple made a public declaration of their faith in Jesus Christ - they had just given their lives to Christ on the Thursday before. Praise God.

We praise God for the opportunity to serve our community, to serve at some amazing winter sports events, and to share the good news of Jesus Christ with those who live, visit, work and play in the North Country.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Happy New Year from Lake Placid, NY


Thanks for praying for us! 2007 has been a wonderful year for ministry in Lake Placid, and we look forward to all that 2008 has in store.

PRAISE REPORTS:
* The Lord keeps adding to His church family here in Lake Placid. Praise God for salvations and baptisms recently, as well as those who have joined by letter. One person who was baptized was a college student from Taiwan (Emily) who worked in Lake Placid for a few months this summer/fall.

* Praise God for our new, developing ministry to international students who are working in our area for a few months -- Hospitality to Internationals (HI). More on this at www.ncministries.net/hospitality_to_internationals.htm. Praise God for Susan, an LPBC member, who is leading the HI ministry.
* Praise God for outreach during the World Cup Bobsled & Skeleton in December. We had many chances to sow seeds of evangelism and share the gospel of Christ as we served at that winter sports event. One quick story: one day of training was particularly cold, and the ice track was particularly fast. A few of the bobsleds had crashed going down for their training run. One of the US bobsled drivers came up to me and asked for prayer because he was nervous, and didn't want to crash. (Would you want to crash going 70+ mph down a mile-long ice track??) Anyway, the Lord had given me Proverbs 3:5-6 to meditate on that morning: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight." I encouraged John, the bobsled driver, who attends our Athletes Bible Study, to trust in the Lord for protection, and assured him that I would pray for him. Praise God, John's team went down the track flawlessly; the Lord protected them. And not only that, but no one else crashed the rest of the day! John was so excited that he told the head track director, who told his boss and everyone else he could tell. When I arrived at the track the next day, the story was out about how the Lord had answered that prayer for safety. Praise God!

* Praise God for sending Jeff & Susan Gray and their family to serve Christ with us in Lake Placid. Jeff will serve as associate pastor of LPBC, with his main two areas of focus being: ministry to young adults (20s), and overseeing our ministry to children. Praise God that HE has miraculously provided the funding so that Jeff can begin serving here January 1, 2008. Pray for the Grays, that their house in GA will sell quickly, so that Susan and their three sons can move here with Jeff soon!

* Praise God for LPBC members Shawn & Lisa Holes, and family, who have been called into full-time evangelism ministry. They feel called to take the gospel to people on street corners, college campuses and in churches. Shawn was ordained by LPBC in October - praise God. They have spent time in Texas this fall, and will be traveling to the Southeast in Feb-Mar-Apr. Then to New York City for the spring/summer. Let me know if your church would like to have them come to your area to evangelize with you.

* Praise God for our family. God continues to bless us in so many ways. See the attached picture to see how the kids are growing!

* Praise God that in the past year, we have been part of the Lord's work to reach people for Christ and encourage believers from Great Britain, Japan, Taiwan, Dominican Republic, Russia, and Canada, all through ministries in our community.

* Praise God for the continued growth of Lake Champlain Bible Fellowship, the new church we helped start in the Moriah/Mineville, NY area. They baptized 4 new believers in October! Keep praying for church planter Keith Savage and his wife, Carrie, and their baby-on-the-way. Check out their website: http://www.lcbible.org/.

PRAYER REQUESTS:
* In the midst of God's blessings, Satan is at work, attacking the families of our area. Pray for protection for the Christian families.

* Pray for a "person of peace" for each of the following winter sports, who can help us get the gospel to athletes from all over the world: luge, snowboarding, ski jumping, hockey, and skiing. * Pray for the continued growth of the Athletes Bible Study, that meets weekly at the Olympic Training Center.

* Pray for Molly, the wife of our youth pastor, Ryan. Molly is pregnant (due in March), and is having medical problems with her kidneys. Pray that she and the baby in her womb will be healthy.

* Pray that our new Hospitality to Internationals ministry will be effective in sharing Christ with these students, and that the Lord will help us as we "go and make disciples" for Jesus Christ.

* Pray for outreach during the following winter events:
World Cup Freestyle Skiing and Ski Jumping -- Jan 18-20, 2008
Jr. Luge World Championships -- Feb 4-8, 2008
World Cup Snowboarding -- Feb 25-Mar 3, 2008
Nor-Am Alpine Skiing Championships -- Mar 13-16, 2008

MISSION TEAMS NEEDED
* We still need a few mission teams for the following events/dates in 2008, if your church is interested:
Jr. Luge World Championships (Feb 4-8, 2008)
Nor-Am Alpine Skiing Championships (Mar 13-16, 2008)
Ministry with our church plant in the Moriah/Mineville area (summer 2008)

FACEBOOK
* Many of you may be on Facebook already. If so, search for our "North Country Ministries" group and join us. Also, feel free to send me a "Friend request." And, while you are on my page on Facebook, take a look at the video of Emily's baptism, the girl from Taiwan. Keep on praying!!

For HIS glory,
The Spains