Spring 2013 Newsletter
Dear Supporting Churches and Friends,
As I was recently reading and meditating upon the opening chapter of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, I was reminded yet again of the importance of praying for the saints, especially for those dear folks who have partnered together with us as we travel from local New Testament church to local New Testament church in the ministry of evangelism and revival work. Your prayers mean so much to us, and we are grateful that we know, and are assured of your prayers for us. Yesterday we were heading home from a week of revival meetings in Modesto, and came upon a terrible accident that had just occurred around thirty minutes earlier. A tractor trailer loaded with frozen bread overtook and hit a car with six men onboard, and three of them were killed instantly. This serves as a reminder of just how fragile life is and how quickly it can come to an abrupt end. As I drove on towards home, I was reminded of how good God has been to us as we travel. I praise God for the things that do not happen! It is wonderful to know that God has His hand of protection upon us as we drive and fly to meetings throughout the year. The intercessory prayers of the saints on our behalf are always sensed and appreciated. But equally important, and even more important, is that we uphold you all in prayer. In Ephesians chapter 1 I read, “Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers” (Ephesians 1:15-16). It’s one thing to solicit the prayers of others, but yet another thing to be faithfully reciprocal, lifting up each and every one of you in prayer faithfully and regularly before the Throne of Grace. To do anything less is sin. So, please know that we are going to make it a priority to pray for you all as we go into the presence of the Lord with our petitions.
Our revival meeting schedule has turned out to be pretty robust for 2013 with upcoming meetings in California, Nebraska, Minnesota, Oregon, Idaho, Canada, and Alaska (Linda – ladies conference). I still have some open dates this summer and going into the fall if you can use me for a revival meeting or missions conference.
We just completed an 8-day revival meeting held at Mountain View Baptist Church in Modesto, California. It is very rare for me to schedule meetings of this length, but I must say that it was a very fruitful endeavor in that time was given for fallow ground to be broken up, and the Holy Spirit was given time to work in hearts. We had very good attendance throughout the week, and the closing service had the auditorium full to capacity. I am more and more convinced that it is important to give God time to work in hearts, and these longer revival meetings accomplish much as we wait upon the Lord. I came away from this series of revival meeting endeavors more convinced than ever that we need more, not less time in the presence of the Lord with concentrated doses of revival preaching.
The Revival Thoughts internet ministry is now in its thirteenth year. We have more recipients now than ever, and several new subscribers have come onboard in recent months. We have recipients as far away as Australia and Vietnam, and have even been read by folks in New Zealand. As the war in Iraq came to an end, and Afghanistan is winding down, we no longer have any military recipients in those theaters of operation. This ministry has been a labor of love for me, and I hope to be able to continue writing in the foreseeable future.
I am praying for another Spanish-speaking pastor for the inner-city work in San Diego. With the departure of Jose Plascencia earlier this year, we are looking at what is really a restart situation. In addition to the work in Sherman Heights, we have just learned that a new inner-city work is going to be established in the City Heights section of San Diego. This is a highly multi-ethnic community with Asians, Hispanics, Caucasians, and black folks. Missionary Bob Walker in Tijuana has indicated that the church planter plans on calling me, and we are ready and willing to assist him in any way that we can. He is sent out of one of the independent Baptist churches here in San Diego County. Please pray with us about these inner-city works and the need for a greater outreach to a very needy area.
I am helping a church in Kasson, Minnesota (Central Baptist Church) in need of a pastor. This church is actually a restart and will need a man with a pioneer spirit and a heart for church-planting to come and work with a nucleus of good folks who desire to reach their community and with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This was a mission work established out of Birch Street Baptist Church of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and has been a duly organized and constituted church for several years now. Pastors, please let me know of anyone whom you feel might be interested. There are also two other established independent Baptist churches in Minnesota in need of a pastor. I will be glad to direct any pastor interested to the right contacts.
Linda and I want to thank our supporting churches for, not only faithful monthly support, both financial support and prayer support, but also for the encouragement we receive from time-to-time in the form of notes, emails, phone calls, and other means of communication. We are greatly appreciative of your thinking of us.
Some of our supporting churches have expressed concern regarding Linda’s recent diagnosis indicating that she has celiac disease, a genetic autoimmune disease for which there is no known cure. In general, the small intestine is compromised, and in Linda’s case, a biopsy indicated that she had severe damage that had probably taken place over the course of several years. The effects of this damage is usually reversed, to varying degrees, via a very restrictive diet prescribed by a nutritionist/dietician. There is no medication or medicinal regimen (including alternative forms of medicine) that can be prescribed for celiac disease. Adults diagnosed with celiac disease are generally diagnosed between the fourth and sixth decade of life. Uncorrected, the disease can lead to cancer of the colon, Lupus, and other dangerous conditions. Untreated, celiac disease can be fatal. Linda has a family history of colon cancer, so she must take great care in managing her condition. She is doing well with the diet, and carries with her on the road many of the things she needs to maintain her diet. We do not see this condition restricting our ministry in any way in the days ahead, though it has been difficult for Linda at times.
For the sake of those who have asked about a description of what Linda is facing with this malady, I have included excerpts from an article I recently saw in USA Today that addresses the recent awareness of celiac disease that will give you some idea of what it involves. We appreciate your concern and prayers for my bride. She is taking this all in stride, and is adjusting to this lifelong malady that has no known cure at this time. We know that this is but light affliction when we consider the greater weight of glory that awaits us one wonderful day. We know that the Great Physician is able to heal her, but should He not chose to do so, we are so thankful that His grace is sufficient, and His strength is made perfect through our weakness.
That's the highest percentage since the company began asking the question in 2009.
Some people want to go on a gluten-free diet to lose weight because they've heard that's what celebrities are doing, says Andrea Levario, executive director for the American Celiac Disease Alliance. "What people don't realize is that many gluten-free products are higher in fat than other products, and people may not lose weight but actually gain weight eating them."
She says about 1% of the population suffers from celiac disease, which triggers an immune system reaction that causes inflammation in the small intestine when a person eats food containing gluten. Common signs and symptoms of the disease may include diarrhea, iron-deficiency anemia, lactose intolerance, fatigue, joint pain, abdominal pain, migraines, depression, short stature and osteoporosis, Levario says.
"For people with celiac disease, the gluten-free diet is medically prescribed. It is the only course of treatment for this life-long chronic condition. It isn't a choice; it is a matter of life and death."
One big problem for people with celiac disease: There's no standard for gluten-free labeling on products in the USA, she says. "We are looking forward to the administration finalizing one in the near future."
Some people may have a similar condition called gluten intolerance or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, Levario says. They don't test positive for celiac disease, yet they have symptoms similar to those in people who have the disease, she says. While celiac disease, wheat allergy, and gluten-intolerance may be treated with similar diets, they are not the same condition, she says.
"Clearly more people are interested in a gluten-free diet than really need it," says Harry Balzer, NPD's chief industry analyst.
He thinks the trend is about people's interest in health and wellness, possibly more than weight loss. "This is the health issue of the day, based on the increase in the number of Americans interested in this subject."
In practical terms, Balzer says, other NPD data show people are still eating a lot of sandwiches so they're not skipping bread completely, but they are less likely to have bread with a meal. And when it comes to restaurant meals they are ordering more gluten-free or wheat-free menu items than they were several years ago, NPD found.
Registered dietitian Judi Adams, president of the Wheat Foods Council, says, "we respect all those people who have to go gluten-free, including people with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity and some people who have irritable bowel syndrome.
"But the people who are using it as a cleansing diet or calorie-controlled diet are using it as a fad diet, and as we all know fad diets do not work long term," she says. "People often gain weight when they go on a gluten-free diet, particularly if they substitute products that are higher in calories, fat and sugar."
Fiber is just one of the main nutrients people miss out on if they eliminate all grains, she says. (From, “Is gluten-free a lifestyle or a diet craze?” by Nanci Hellmich)
We love you all, and have you on our hearts, in our thoughts, and in our prayers often. May God continue to richly bless you is our prayer.
Servants for Revival,
Paul and Linda Mershon