Update – 8-3-18

Things are starting to happen with the mission trip to China.  The tickets are being purchased and it is starting to become a reality.  The date of departure is set for October 24, 2018.  Our first leg of the trip will be a non stop flight from DFW to Guangdong, China, which is near Hong Kong.  From there I will take another flight to northern China where I will meet Forest and Yan and spend a few days with them.

As soon as I get the tickets and full schedule, I can then continue with my visa application which should take about two weeks after it is sent in.

Forest reported that they are working hard on the translation of my book and hopes to have it completed and printed by the time I get there.  It will not be printed by a noted publisher but is will be something that I can bring back here and finalize it for our uses here.  Hopefully, I can then make it available to Christians here that speak and read Chinese.  This will be a milestone in the present ongoing work of the 4 language translations  that are underway.

The translation in Japan took a hit recently when a portion of the translation was lost in a flood in Japan.  I have 4 chapters that have been completed but it was a big loss of the work that had been done beyond that.  They are regrouping and pressing forward with that work there.

There has been significant progress on the Russian translation and chapter 4 has just been completed.  Joel has been more than faithful in his work and it is such a joy to see the Lord bless him through this process.  I think he really has little awareness as to how God may use it.  There are so many in this country who speak only Russian that it surprised me how needed it is.  I can see the Lord working on many fronts.

The Spanish translation is moving forward as well but at a much slower pace.  There have been much interference in family needs and prayer is needed there.  Still the translation is on chapter 3 and moving forward.

As always, I solicit your prayers for this ministry and the safety and guidance of those who are sharing in this work.of translating. Your prayers are more needed than you know.

Train Up A Child – Values or Principles

Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

In today’s blog I will be addressing Values.  Another word for values is the word principles.  Values are the worth that we place on things, events, and people,.  Your values will be the deciders for all of your Choices.  I don’t know the origin of the quote, “I am the sum of all of my choices”, but it does reveal who we are in light of our value system.

When my wife and I were “training” our 7 children I tried to teach principles rather than rules.  Discipline was always accompanied with a class on the principles involved and some assurance of my love for them.  My kids learned to dread the instruction more than the discipline and one time my son said, Dad, just give me a spanking, but don’t give me a lecture on principles.  Another time, one of the kids came out with “Now the principle of principles is the principle thing, therefore, learn the principles.”  My point was that we should not try to follow laws or rules, but rather principles.  These principles are our values.  They are learned by repeated application, time and time again.   Isiah 28:10 For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:

So where does this value system come from.  It is built from our previous choices, and those choices were based on the values determined by our experiences and our training.  From a child who values food and comfort above all else, through adulthood where other values take on greater rolls, we build our value system.  If our training is on the level of the gratification of the body only, we become a selfish individual.  If our parental training.is appeasing the child for a moment of peace, then we are training the child that this is how to get what they want and their wanting will increase in its demands.  If we deny the child their request, then we train them to bottle their desires up and internalize them and create a problem of them not being able to give express themselves.  This can build to the level of exploding and then the results are not pretty because it will happen at an inopportune time and with unacceptable results.  Our training should contain a combination of building character, objective evaluation, consideration for others, patients, understanding, etc.  But, you say, that takes a lot of work.  Yes, it can be a lot of work if you look at it from the perspective of what it cost me now, or it can be a good investment on the greater reward that will come later.  Training the next generation will require a lot but it is not an option.  You are training all the time.  The question is not ‘if we train’ but ‘what we train’ them for.  They will establish some sense of value regardless of your effort.  They will establish their values, based on how they read your training.

It is important to note that you cannot fake it.  The saying, do as I say, not as I do, just doesn’t work.  A two year old knows what buttons to push to get what they want.  They can spot a hypocrite in a second.  If they are catching on that early, and I believe they do, then the training has already begun.  So we need to ask ourselves the question, What am I training them for?   Do I love them enough to give them my best?  Are they important enough to me to lay some of my values aside in order that they can develop into a healthy adult with great values?  Values are more caught than taught so we must be consistent.

What To Do?

Joh 6:28 Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?   29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.

This is a fairly common question, both in the Bible and in the world today? Here it is stated, ‘What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?’ and in Mark 10:17 and Luke 1025, 18:18 the rich young ruler asked “What must I do to inherit eternal life’?  What am I supposed to do?  What does God want from me?  This is how it sounds in modern day language.  Though it may be stated in many ways it remains the same question.  It is based on our merit system mentality of earning the reward by some act or benefit forfeited.

In our Scripture today we find Jesus stating the answer as clearly as anywhere else in the Bible.  It has been a favorite couple of verses to me for most of my Christian life.  The answer is direct and to the point.  The only requirement is to believe on Him whom He hath sent.  It requires not deeds or sacrifice since that was paid by Jesus when He gave His own life for our sins.  Payment was made in full.  To attempt to pay for it yourself is an insult to God and ultimately says “God, your work was insufficient.”  Who would intentionally say such a thing?  Yet, when we attempt to pay for our own sin, that is exactly what we are saying.

This also begs the question, What then does it mean , to believe on Him whom He hath sent?  In the original language of the Bible (Konia Greek)  the word believe and the word faith are exactly the same root word and can be substituted one for the other.  Scriptural believing then is the same thing as trusting, relying on, dependence upon, etc.  The work that God requires of us is not doing mighty things but totally relying on Him to do for us what is impossible for us to do, righteous living.  It is impossible for us because of our merit system mentality and we find it impossible to to think any other way until He reveals it to us.  Believing in Him is the sum and the jist of our works that please Him.  Notice in Romans 14:23b for whatsoever is not of faith is sin and again in Hebrews 11:6a  But without faith it is impossible to please him:  that all else  beyond faith or believing is not only distasteful and an insult, but frustrates the grace of God.

I have gotten over trying to work for God and now I long for God to work on and for me.  Just think about that for a minute.  Who is in trouble here, God or me?  God doesn’t need help, but I do.  Anything God wants done, He can easily do.  He isn’t focused on accomplishing deeds, but He is very focused in finishing me.  I am not saying that I only work for myself but that my deeds are the outworking of what God has placed within me.  Philippians 2:13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.  Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.  These are just two powerful verses that expand on this truth that God is infinitely more concerned with what we are than what we do.  He will do the works if we will do the work of believing.

Living by Faith

Everyone lives by faith all the time, but it is not the faith referenced in the Bible.  To understand this truth, you must understand what faith is and what the faith of the Bible is.  Faith simply means to trust or rely on.  When you sit in a chair you are exercising your faith in the chair.  When you take medicine, you are relying on the doctors and those making the medicine to prescribe the correct dosage.  When you drive a car your are relying on the car to perform a certain way and that the other drivers will observe the laws.  On an on it goes as we place our lives on the line because we trust in the objects of our faith.  This type of faith is in material living but it is not the faith intended in the Bible.  The Bible restricts our faith to the Lord Jesus Christ.  It is Spiritual in nature and is eternal in its scope.  The purpose of faith is not to provide some type of utopia for you but to direct you through this maze of traps and pitfalls we call life and to cooperate with the Lord in His transforming us into creatures of righteousness.  Because we are incapable of living righteously on our own because of our sin nature, the Lord has provided a way for us to live life on His level of righteousness and that is to obey the Holy Spirit.

It doesn’t take will power, it takes faith and obedience.  It doesn’t take strength, it takes weakness.  It doesn’t take works or deeds, it takes a reliance on God for what we cannot do. Faith in the Lord is an equal opportunity plan.  Everyone has the capacity to meet the demands of God through faith in Him, without adding any righteousness on our own.  It doesn’t matter if you are young or old, educated or not, with or without wealth, or any other such contrast.  The one thing that is required is that you are trusting the Lord and not anything other than the Lord.

So how do you know that the Lord is directing you.  First of all He has given us His Word, the Bible.  Whatever direction you have should be measured against what the Bible says.  That is the only 100% safe written word.  Secondly, what is the witness of the Holy Spirit within you?  You do not have the Holy Spirit within you until you are born again.  If you have never been saved then you do not have the witness of the Spirit to direct you.  That does not mean that He is not working for you, it just means that you do not have the spiritual sensitivity to know His leading.  Thirdly, (assuming you are a Christian) does the direction contradict spiritual principles established through the ages of the church and your Christian experiences?  Fourthly, does it edify others, yourself and your witness?  Fifthly, does it magnify and honor the Lord?

2Co 5:7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)

What Is Your Handicap?

I love the commercial where children from St. Jude hospital, who have varying disabilities refuse to be called handicapped.  Though they recognize that they are limited in some ways, they also believe that they are blessed in other ways.  They refuse to allow their limitation to make them a lesser person.

One of my grandchildren was a born premature and along with that came the disease, cerebral palsy.  This disease left her with major problems with her legs and has had to have surgery to give her more mobility.  Yesterday I was talking with her and she just made my heart leap.  She said that last year when we were here and she became a Christian, she decided to not let her disability make her a handicap but she had decided to turn it into an asset.

This attitude is the key to living a rich and full life.  It is the product of Christ working from within you to give you victory over your circumstances.  Everyone has limitations and circumstantial problems of one type or another.  I have never met a woman who felt she had no flaws nor a person who felt they had enough wealth not a star who was secure in their fame.  All of these things are temporary.  Age will steal a person’s beauty, the spotlight is only for a moment, and wealth is limited and will be gone at death.  What a person becomes in their victories are what make them more than what they were.  It is in the struggles that they are stretched into  greater capacities.

One of the greatest examples of this transformation process is the Apostle Paul who started out persecuting the church and was the leader at the stoning of Stephen.  After his conversion on the road to Damascus, he became the Apostle to the Gentiles and wrote 9 books of the New Testament.  At one point in his ministry, he was given “a thorn in the flesh” and asked the Lord three times for it to be removed.  The Lord refused to remove it and stated “My strength is made perfect in weakness.”

1John 5:4 For whatsoever is begotten of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that hath overcome the world, even our faith.  Note: the eth ending on the word overcome.  It means that it is a contentious action and not a one time event.   Also, note that the faith referenced is faith in Jesus as Lord of life.  When we entrust ourselves to Him and follow in faithful obedience; then He uses His power to enable us to overcome whatever we face.  We can take life head on without fear and live it as it was intended.  Our struggles become the tools that God uses to deliver us out of this sin filled world.

Baby Steps 4

The third translator came quite surprisingly.  A man I have been working with for over a quarter century, was having a struggle in knowing how the Lord wanted to use him.  He had studied Russian for several years and had made a couple trips to Russia.  He even had worked as a translator in the Russian language but because of a limitation he had, he had never been able to really find the work he fit into.  He was constantly second guessing God’s plan for him and as a result, was never able to settle on any one thing that God had made certain.

Knowing his background as well as his heart, I found myself giving him the same advice over and over again. Somehow he thought that he might miss something so he tried to add credence to everything that came along.  The result was that nothing was ever truly settled.  It is just as the Bible says,  Jas 1:8 A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

As I listened to him I found a common denominator which was that every conversation revolved around what he could do.  I then attempted to turn his attention  from himself to others.  It was not what he could do for God but how he could enrich the lives of others.  I also advised him that he needs to begin doing what was in his heart to do.  The thing he identified that was the greatest joy to do was Russian translation.  So then  I suggested to him that he simply begin to translate something for the practice to sharpen his skills again.  Lacking confidence, he wanted or needed something more specific so I suggested that he try my book, thinking that it would at least give him a start.  It seemed to be a mountain to him so I suggested that he begin with only one chapter.

Now he is growing more and more rapidly and moving at a faster pace continually.  He talks less of himself and more about others.  He has stated that the more he has translated, the easier it has become.  It is much easier to carry on a conversation with him now and his understanding grows every day.  One of the most outstanding  things that I see in him is his dedication to be precise and accurate in his work.  He is now finishing the third chapter and has every intention of finishing the book.  He has said several times that upon the completion of his work that it then needs to be examined by others for a more perfect translation.

Sometimes all of us needs a helping hand to lift us to a higher level of living.

to be continued . . .

Baby Steps 3

A second bond came from a pastor in Japan that I met on a trip to visit my son who was living and working in Japan.  My wife and I were visiting our son, Daniel, in Japan.  While we were there we determined that we wanted to visit a Christian church to have the experience and to aid us in our understanding of their culture.

We asked our daughter-in-law if she knew where on was and she put us in contact with a church.  The church then sent a car to pick us up as we didn’t know our way around the area.  We were so appreciative and wanted to thank them in the right way.  I knew that gifting was a big thing in Japan but we were on our way already so there wasn’t time to buy something.  Then I remembered that I had a copy of my book with me and determined to give that as a gift for their care for us.

Upon arrival, we were directed into the church and introduced to the pastor.  I then presented the pastor with my gift, not knowing if I was doing it right.  He hesitated for a moment and then he got misty and I thought he was going to cry.  I asked, did I do something wrong?  He replied, No you don’t understand.  You see, I have been praying that the Lord would send me someone to encourage me and you are him.  Then I felt like crying.  Our bond was immediate as we both felt that this was a divine appointment.  I am not sure what he told the congregation but after the service we were surrounded by everyone and they all wanted to talk with us.  At one point I was talking to four people at the same time, trying to answer their questions and my wife was trying to talk to two more.  All the while the others were crowding around to listen.  This went on for the better part of an hour so we didn’t get any time to speak with the pastor.  He then requested for us to join him for lunch the next day.

Darla, wasn’t feeling well the next day so I went on alone.  I was met with the pastor, his wife, his daughter and son-in-law at a fine restaurant and enjoyed a great meal.  He shared that he had read my entire book and was so impressed that he asked permission to use it in his work and of course I agreed.  He then told me of a member of his church that was impressed by our visit that she had determined to read my book as well.  The pastor challenged her with the question, you don’t speak English nor do you read English, so how do you intend to do that.  She replied that she had considered it and had decided that she would get an English/Japanese dictionary and read it that way. (Note, so far she has read three chapters.)  My immediate thought was, Lord give us this kind of dedication.

Our bond was instantaneous and has continued to this day.  He became my second translator though I wasn’t  even looking for another translator.  He now calls me his mentor though I learn from him continually.  His heart is so big that it includes all of Japan and China.  He has made at least 9 trips to China to train the young pastors there. Because of his schedule, the translation has been going slow but recently the Lord sent him an assistant so the work will gather momentum.  His goal is for all of Japan to read the book and to put their trust in the Lord.

to be continued . . .

First Visits

The women at the tomb

The first to visit the tomb on Easter Sunday morning was Mary Magdalene who came while it was still dark.  She found the stone rolled away from the tomb entrance and concluded that Jesus’ body had been moved so she ran to tell Peter and John.  She joined the other women when the sun was risen.  They came to anoint the body with spices but they were confronted with a shocking revelation from the angles that He had risen from the dead.  They went therefore to tell the disciples.

Peter and John

John was the first to arrive and look in to the tomb but waited outside for Peter to arrive.  When Peter arrived he immediately went in. (Note previous my blog on the grave clothes)  They were confronted with evidence that defied normal explanation.  John believed immediately and Peter left in wonderment.

Mary Magdalene was the first to see Jesus

Mary was so disturbed by not knowing where Jesus body was and her grief of her loss that she didn’t recognize Jesus and thought he was a gardener.  When Jesus spoke, she recognized Him and reached out to hold Him.  Jesus said don’t cling to me for I am not yet ascended to My Father.  He didn’t say don’t touch me but he used the word haptomai which means attach oneself to another or to cling.  She had lost Him once and she didn’t want to lose Him again.  Remember, Jesus told His disciples the it is expedient for you that I go away for if I go not away, the Holy Spirit would not come.  Jesus intended for us to know Him in another way by being indwelt with the Holy Spirit until we receive our resurrected bodies.   Having then been confronted with Christ Himself, she went again to tell the disciples with a new urgency in her report.

The Two On the Road to Emmaus

Emmaus was a town about 8 miles NE from Jerusalem and was located about 3,000 lower in elevation.  One of the two was Cleopas and the other is unnamed.  They were downtrodden and speculated about the events of the crucifixion as they walked.  Jesus, Himself joined them but was unrecognized.  He then engaged them in their conversation and they restated the events including the morning reports from the women.  Then Jesus chided them in being slow to believe and began at the prophets He interpreted the Scriptures concerning Himself. As they arrived at Emmaus they invited Jesus to stay with them since it was evening.  As they were eating Jesus broke the bread and gave it to them.  As they were confronted with the truth of who Jesus is, He vanished out of their site.

These are not the only sighting of Jesus but they are recorded for us so that we too can come to the truth of who Jesus is and that He is resurrected.  You have now been confronted with the truth.  What does it take to convince you HE IS ALIVE!!!

An Impossible Command

Lu 6:10 And looking round about upon them all, he said unto the man, Stretch forth thy hand. And he did so: and his hand was restored whole as the other.

It was a Sabbath Day at the Synagogue and Jesus was teaching. There was a man with a withered right hand present and the Scribes and Pharisees were watching to see if Jesus would heal him on the Sabbath.  Jesus knew their thoughts but still he gave three commands to the man with the withered hand.

First, he was commanded to “rise up”,  This command was not directed to changing posture but to the idea of collecting ones faculties.  It could be translated “Wake Up!”  The man with the withered hand had long been held in obscurity and inactivity with the withered hand that he could not use.  Jesus was calling him into service and he needed to move from cowering in subjection because of the withered hand, to the attitude that with or without the handicap of a withered hand he should not let it determine his ability to function as a whole man.

The second command was to “stand forth” which means to stand and keep standing.  He was to establish this new attitude as his way of thinking and living.  His limitation was not to define him or limit him.  He can function as a whole man with the limitation if God so chose.  The truth is that all of us have limitations of one kind or another.  Some are physical, some are emotional, some are mental, and some are environmental.  We can take a position of limitation or we can assume the position of wholeness.  I already have all I need to become all I can be, and the limitation I have does not define me.

The third command was to “stretch forth thy hand.”  This command was impossible for him.  You see the problem with a withered hand is that you cannot stretch it forth.  The hand is withered, that is, it is shriveled and drawn up and the tendons have lost their flexibility.  Jesus was asking the man to do the impossible.  It was not possible for the man to do it but it was not only possible but necessitated by His command to do it.  Herein is the secret of seeing a miracle.  Contained within every impossible command of God is the promise of power to do it. When we respond to the Lord by faith in His Word, He then opens to us His blessings.  When you are given an impossible command you can trust the Lord that He can and will do it for you.  Such is the miracle of New Life.

Sin or Sins

I remember reading a gospel tract entitled “How to get to heaven from Pineville, Kentucky”  It had a catchy title and got me to reading. The truth is that it would read the same from anywhere on the earth.  There is only one way to get to heaven and that is the way that is specified in the Bible.  Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6)  So that begs the question, how do you come “by me?”

It is at this point that there seems to be confusion.  Does that mean to try hard or is it by doing good things like benevolent acts?  Does it mean that I have to quit doing “something”?  Does it mean that I have to give up fun things?  How does it work?  None of these answers are correct for they are all works of man?  Eph 2:8-9 Eph 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

The problem between God and man is not what he does but what he is.  He is a sinner, which is another way of describing rebellion against God’s control on our live.  We cannot earn His favor for as soon as we try that avenue, our true nature takes over and our sin nature is exposed. It is at this point that we need to note the difference between Sin and Sins.  Sin is the self life that we hold naturally.  It is all about me; what I want, what I think, what I do.  I don’t want God directing my life because He won’t let me do my thing.  Sins are what we do  because of this attitude. Sins are the symptoms of the rood cause, sin.  We are incapable of paying for our “sin” so God made a way for us to be accepted and that is by our placing our faith in Jesus instead of ourselves.  When we are willing to do that we repent of our sin (that is turn from it) and place our faith in Jesus to make that payment (turn to Jesus as our way).  It is not two separate actions, but one.  It is like a coin.  It has two sides but it is just one coin.  The act of turning moves you from one thing and unto another.

If we continue to deal with the symptoms (sins) we will fail to treat the problem of sin, itself.  Faith in Jesus as the Lord of our life is the way to heaven.