Rick Barton Ministries, P.O. Box 1155, Gunnison, CO 81230, 970-209-8006 (C) 970-641-3583 (H)
September 5, 2014
"Falling Into Grace"
What a wild and wonderful August: The Lord continues to surprise us with His unexpected times of grace. Sometimes it seems we just "fall into it." In other words, we didn't plan it and we certainly didn't earn or deserve the blessings we experienced.
For example, last Friday we travelled to Denver to meet with our old friend, Pastor Mike MacIntosh of Horizon Christian Fellowship in San Diego. That afternoon, by Divine appointment we ran into friends and Board of Reference members Jerry and Jane Bridges of the Navigators. Tuesday we had lunch with Bob Swales of Biblica who "just happened" to be in town and we discussed the firefighter Bible situation, and Thursday I "ran into" Gordon MacDonald, Chancellor of Denver Seminary and had a great time of sharing. In the meantime, as Melva flew to HI for a funeral, she was able to share Jesus with a firefighter on the plane!
Add to these blessings the privilege of seeing Nancy Lowe and her family who have been giving away our firefighter devotionals in Colorado Springs, having lunch with a young pastor just getting started in a difficult church setting, and counseling two young couples about to be married. All in all I feel that we have been "falling into grace"!
Doctor of Ministry: With all the family and ministry "interruptions" prohibiting my going on forest fires, I suddenly had more time to devote to my DMin studies. As a result I have made great progress in my writing. In fact, at this very moment I'm in a seminary library working away. It's beginning to look like I can finish the program this winter. (And some of you thought I was on the 10 year plan?) Thank you for continuing to pray!
Here is a major prayer request, not only for me but for many working on the DMin. The Doctor of Ministries program seems to be in disarray since the change of leadership over a year ago. My phone calls and emails haven't received responses and the work I've sent in hasn't been acknowledged or critiqued. I continue to act according to the direction I received last year but it is concerning. I know and care for many of those in leadership so please pray that they are able to get things worked out and back on track.
Rich and Shelba Townsend: All the opportunities I mentioned above wouldn't have been possible if Rich and Shelba hadn't been manning the "home front" in Gunnison. Not only did they cover our Saturday Evening worship services but other ministry needs while we were gone. Several folks have gone to the hospital and Rich and Shelba were there at 2 am for one family and then again the next morning for another. They even ended up bringing a family into their home.
Two weeks ago they travelled several hundred miles to Rich's birthplace to preach in a small, struggling church. They are willing to go anywhere to share the love of Jesus. Their addition to our team 4 years ago has expanded our opportunities to share wonderfully! Thank you for adding them to your daily prayers!
Firefighter New Testaments: During our lunch with Bob Swales, North American director for Biblica (formerly the International Bible Society), he vowed to continue to lobby for the republishing of the Answering the Call Bibles. In the meantime, the best option we have is to pray in $40,000 to make a special printing of 10,000 copies. Several folks have sent in donations to the "Bible fund". Thank You! We have firefighters and fire departments waiting for these Bibles.
Family: Stephen and Joy (Hannah and Bethan) in Scotland have found a vehicle that will work for them at a price they can afford. They really appreciate your prayers for their transportation and for continued openings for Stephen to preach and pastor. Nick and Bek are gearing up for winter at their restaurant in Vail/Edwards, Steve and Annie are adjusting to Steve's new job as associate producer on a different TV show. So far Steve loves it, and Annie is back to teaching school. Tim and Sara, also in LA, continue to enjoy their work and Sara's dad has fully recovered from his kidney transplant! Thank you for your prayers for each of them!
Finances: The Lord continues to graciously provide every need through the faithful prayers and gifts of each of you. Thank you! We pray the Lord Jesus will richly provide for you in every area of your life!
Saturday Evening Worship: What an interesting assembly the Lord has blessed us with. On any given Saturday evening between 20 and 30 folks come together for verse by verse study of God's word. The group includes cowboys, businessmen and women, and students, as well as former addicts gloriously set free by Jesus! Some are solid students of the Word and others are brand new to Jesus and His Bible. Over the past 4 years we've covered Luke, Jonah, Acts, Romans, Philippians, and now are wrapping up 1 Corinthians. You help us provide them with Bibles and biblical teaching. Please pray that we will be faithful stewards of the souls that He has entrusted to us.
Alumni News: Larry and Judy Copenbarger from the 1980's dropped in recently. They are serving the Lord in S. California as Christ-centered lawyers as well as local church and mission workers. Dave and Kelly Rische from 30+ years ago is still serving the Lord in the Dallas area where Dave is an award winning school administrator. Dave just wrote and released a book entitled "Five Prayers That Can Change History". Matt Benson just celebrated two years on Young Life staff and Tim Brotherton continues as a Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) director in Pueblo, CO. These are all returns on your faithful investment and prayers!
Upcoming: Lord willing, I will perform two weddings and conduct a chapel service for the CSU-Pueblo football team (Sept. 20). Then we will help lead worship at a FCA 60th anniversary program in Estes Park, CO (Oct. 7-9), hold hunter's chapels (Oct.12, Nov.2), hold revival services in Waynesville, MO (Oct. 18-22), and more services in Tucson, AZ (Nov.15-16). We start our West Elk Bible Institute in mid-October as well. Thank you for your prayers, they truly sustain us!
Funeral Blessing! Recently I was asked to conduct a funeral for a young, out-of-town fireman. I was unsure as to his relationship with Jesus. Think of the joy I had as I opened his Bible to see that he had come to Christ only four years ago! I had wonderful freedom as I shared with 300 community members and firefighters. What a reminder of how important it is to share with each person we come in contact with, young or old!
God bless you! Rick and Melva Barton Rich and Shelba Townsend