Rick Barton Ministries, PO Box 1155, Gunnison, CO 81230 | 970-641-3583 | firstname.lastname@example.org
"Good News of a Great Joy, Which Shall Be for
All the People!"
Blessed Christmas! I still remember the Christmas Eve, over 30 years ago, when I sensed the Spirit of the Lord speaking to me. I had left the Crested Butte Ski School four years earlier and was teaching at another ski area. That night I had returned to CB to attend a Christmas Eve service. As I was standing outside, enjoying the Lord's presence, He clearly spoke to me, "Return to Crested Butte".
That was totally unexpected. I had taught at Crested Butte for several winters and had been laid off, along with all the other supervisors, by our somewhat unpredictable director. Now the Lord was directing me to humble myself, apply for a job and go through the whole hiring process as if I were a rookie. Still, the voice was so clear I had to obey. I fulfilled my commitment to the area I was working with and returned to Crested Butte the next fall. A few weeks after returning, I was offered a supervisor's role and eventually was even asked to conduct the director's funeral service. I am now in my 40th winter at Crested Butte and see doors open almost daily to share the "Good News of a Great Joy" of Jesus with co-workers and guests. And I can trace it back to that quiet moment on Christmas Eve.
As the busyness of this time of year is in full swing, I find it imperative to draw aside and spend time alone meditating on the Savior's coming, and what that means for my life. A time "out in the fields"; a time of joining in the shepherd's sense of wonder and awe, brings renewed peace, joy and purpose.
Melva and I, along with Rich and Shelba, pray that the Joy of the Savior will flood your hearts this Christmas.
Ministry Happenings: November was busy with teaching at our West Elk Bible Institute, holding services on Saturday nights and attending ski school clinics. In addition, we have been the "unofficial" hospital chaplains visiting my mom and others each day in the Gunnison hospital. The Lord has wonderfully opened doors to share and pray with many!
Upcoming: Currently I am preaching three, sometimes four, times a weekend in Gunnison, rotating with our associate Rich Townsend and two other pastors filling the pulpit at Trinity Baptist in Gunnison. In January I hope to be preaching in Denver and Elizabeth, CO as well as well doing Wildland Fire training for the Crested Butte Fire Department. Of course our ongoing ministries continue as well.
Lord willing, in February I will help lead worship for the men's High Ground Bible/ski retreat in Beaver Creek, CO. I've cut back my ski instructing to three days a week to preserve my knee and have time to work on my Doctorate. With the Lord's help I will finish the Doctor of Ministry degree in July!
Spiritual/Physical Attacks: The past few months have seen unprecedented attacks on the Christian workers in Gunnison. It started with Melva's sciatica, then many others including my mom, our co-worker Rich Townsend and his wife Shelba, local Pastor Tom Burgraff, deacon Bob Drexel, good friend Jane Bridges and former local pastor Walt Rogers' son Zach. I'm reminded of Revelation 12:12 which states "woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!" The wonderful thing is that the devil has lost the battle. We believe God is preparing to bring revival! These difficult times have drawn the body of Christ closer together and increased our prayers for one another! Please continue your daily prayers for us and each of your local church leaders; your prayers make a huge difference!
A word of clarification: In last month's newsletter I shared how God's word instructs us to give thanks "in" an "for" all things (1 Thessalonians 5:18, Ephesians 5:20); trusting that He will cause even bad situations to work together for our good, if we love Him and are called according to His purposes (Romans 8:28). Two men I deeply respect cautioned me that some might take that to mean that we are to thank God for sin and sinful acts. Of course I don't believe the verses teach that. Rather, that we are to praise Him in faith during every situation. Please, always contact me when you feel something I say may be confusing.
Family: Everyone is doing well except for my mom, who has had several hospital visits for nerve pain and weakness when walking. On a rejoicing note, after several years of waiting and disappointments, Ken, our daughter-in-law Sara's father, had a successful kidney transplant and thanks everyone for their prayers!
Finances: Thanks to the Lord's gracious provision and your faithful prayers and support, it appears we will end 2013 with every bill paid. Not only have all our needs been met but you helped us partially underwrite a community Thanksgiving Dinner held by a Christian couple in a local restaurant. Over 250 meals were served to those in need. Thank you!
Prayer Requests and "Wish List": Please pray for the anointing of the Holy Spirit as we share the "Good News of a Great Joy" to everyone we can! Please pray for the full recovery of those mentioned above; especially that God will reveal the cause and cure of Shelba's infection. If I were to put together a "Christmas wish list" it would include two things in particular; a new intern to assist us on the campus and a building we can use full-time for our Bible Institute and other ministries. Please add those to your prayers for us.
We praise God for His indescribable gift, our Lord Jesus; and for the gift of each of you! God Bless You!
Rick and Melva Barton Rich and Shelba Townsend