Thoughts on August and September

Photo by Carol Quintana

8/21/12. God’s creatures measure my character

God put the fear of man into the beasts, and I thank Him for it while out walking this morning. The jungle cats that prowl these parts make themselves scarce, and though the boys have spotted caiman (1) in the creek, no one has ever been bit. But when I think about Christ and how in the field and wood the critters did not fear him I can’t help but compare that with how the birds and hoachies (2) scatter at my approach. Do they sense that in me there are still traces of that spirit of he who was a murderer from the beginning? I must admit to assassin-like thoughts upon spotting most any kind of rodent. At times I even see the birds as worthy of death. I shudder, but I must admit my character is still a far cry from Christ’s.

Lord do your work in me!


How Christians should hide the kingdom of heaven

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.” Matt 13:44

Last night Milton came to ask me about the parable of the hidden treasure.

“I just have one question teacher. Why does he hide it? I don’t understand that part”

“You mean the fact that the treasure represents the gospel makes it seem odd that he should hide it after he finds it?” Milton nods. “Well, I think it’s clear that it can’t mean we should hide the good news from everyone else so they can’t get it, that would be a blatant contradiction of many other scriptures. Christ himself said that he who has a light does not put it under a basket but on a candlestick to give light to all those in the house. He also said to preach the gospel in all the world for a witness to all nations. I think the principle that is important here is that the man is not going to lose this treasure. He will do everything necessary to insure that he can claim it as his own. He hides it so that no one can take it away from him!”

It is not until Milton is in front speaking that I think of Ps 119:11. “Thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against thee.” Yes, we are to hide that treasure! Not so no one will know it is there, but so that it will do its transforming work within us. As Matthew 13:33 puts it, “The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.” The yeast transforms the dough, and hidden treasure transforms the life of the man who finds it. 2 Corinthians 4:6 and 7 explains that the treasure is the knowledge of the glory of God as revealed in Christ, and we are to have it stored or hid inside of us! We, the vessels of clay shaped in such a way by the Master Potter (Jeremiah 18:4) so as to contain the very Word of God, His Spirit and His life (John 6:63) so that Christ can truly say of us, “the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21)! How then can I come to hide the kingdom of heaven in such a way? As always, the same Word of God has the answer:

“Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, [and] liftest up thy voice for understanding; If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as [for] hid treasures; Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.” (Proverbs 2:3-5, emphasis mine)

Forty-niners and earthly fortune seekers, we are on the wrong trail! Forget about the physical gold. It’s time to have a God rush: a headlong, pell-mell, risk-everything, winner-take-all pursuit of God! He who seeks like that will never come up empty! (Jeremiah 29:13).


9/3/2012 Abundant rain is on the way.

It is winter here in Bolivia. It has not rained for a month and a half, and the only soft ground goes airborne with the slightest disturbance. That, combined with the smoke from the local campesinos’ slash and burn and the local ranchers’ pasture blazes (3) makes the sun and moon rise blood-red and twice their normal size.

Lyli and I are coming back from town after the second seemingly-wasted day this week. We have been trying to get the necessary documents together to petition our permanent Bolivian residency, and as usual, the going is not easy. The immigration officials always have something new to tell us. They know that Lyli and I are married now, and as such we must redo all the documents that we had made for our last residency to reflect our change in social status. Amiably, they want to help us avoid the trouble and offer us an easy way out. All we have to do is get a sworn statement from the public notary stating that our place of residence, occupation, and social status have not changed since the last residency we processed and we will avoid over half of the paperwork load, including the dreaded INTERPOL, or international police report, that delayed our last visa at least 6 months. We will also avoid having to send our marriage certificate to LaPaz to be verified as legitimate with the Mexican consulate and the Bolivian , which will basically just charge us a small fortune for their stamp of approval. It is very tempting to avoid all that nonsense, but as I think about it, I know we just can’t go that route. Lyli senses my reticence.

“We can’t do it” she confirms.

“I know. I’m just thinking, if we’re willing to be dishonest in something small like this just to avoid the inconvenience, how will we resist the temptation to lie when there is a real crisis?” We must learn to be faithful now. No excuses.

I think of the story I’m currently reading about Ivan, an Adventist soldier in the soviet army in Moldavia who is faithful to God despite all odds and is bold beyond belief to fight the battles of the Lord. I have so much to learn. (If you want to be inspired and challenged read the book by Bradley Booth, Dare to Stand Alone.)

That afternoon I try to send our marriage certificates to the lawyer in La Paz, but Aerocon (read 3rd-world FedEx ) is closed until 3:00, the same time our bus leaves. So we leave town again without having advanced in our paperwork process. But all is not lost. God works in mysterious ways. While in line to pay for groceries at the Edén market, I have to rearrange the contents of my backpack, and I take out the copy of The Great Controversy and put it on the counter. I´ve forgotten all about my prayer this morning that God would give me an opportunity to share with somebody hungry for truth until the cashier grabs the book and begins to look it over.

“Is this the Bible?” he asks.

“No, but it’s a great book! Probably would have to be my second favorite after the Bible! It tells the history of God’s people starting where Revelation left off with the early Christian church in the days of Rome and continuing on down to today. It explains the role of America in prophecy and has helped thousands of people better understand the book of Revelation”

“How much does it cost?” he cuts to the chaste.

“Well, we usually sell it for 80 B, but I’ll give it to you for 60.”

He buys it on the spot!

We leave town ahead of what appears to be the first good rain in a long while. When we get off the bus at the entrance to the two-kilometer driveway, it looks like we’ve outdistanced the storm, but halfway down the drive the wind starts up out of nowhere.

“Yes Lord! Let it rain and rain hard!” Lyli giggles. “But please, not until we get home!”

The wind is gusting now and the driveway turns into a lane through wonderland as tiny leaves swirl down like golden snowflakes, catching the gleam of the retreating sunlight. We are in those last precious moments before the tempest strikes. The treetops sound like Pentecost and their moving reminds me of when God passed through the mulberry trees to lead King David’s troops to victory (1 Chron 14:15) A deep and solemn joy overtakes me. The Holy Spirit is moving! As I watch the falling leaves I think of how the Bible speaks of us as leaves (Isa 1:30, 64:6, Jer 17:8, Psalms 1:3). When the wind of the Spirit moves right before the tempest, many a spiritually dead, nominal Christian will be shaken. The latter rain will arrive, but for those of us who have no living connection and have fallen to the earth it will bring no growth and no power. Just a plastering pounding that precipitates decomposition.

Four days ago we started a forty day prayer challenge with the students in our family worship group. Every morning we get up at 4:30 to study what the Bible teaches about the Holy Spirit and his work and how we can prepare ourselves to receive him in our lives. Oh what a need is ours, and how easily we are distracted from it by the cares of this life and the deceitfulness of riches! How often Satan picks our brains of the good seed! I feel so destitute, so far removed from God’s ideal! I can’t even conceive of His plan: only small glimmers reach me. I lack spiritual stamina. “Oh Lord, revive your work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy.” (Habbakuk 3:2)


  1. A smaller relative of the crocodile.
  2. Mid-sized rodent that looks like a cross between a rabbit and a wild pig.
  3. Local ranchers burn their pastures to combat the encroaching jungle and burn off the tall dead grass and make room for new growth.

Kody Kostenko


“There is no limit to the usefulness of the one who, putting self aside, makes room for the working of the Holy Spirit upon his heart and lives a life wholly consecrated to God.” {8T 19.3}


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