Baby Steps 5

I was sharing the story of our experience with the pastor in Japan with our educational pastor and how gifting had opened up such a rich experience, when he suddenly said, You need to be teaching your book to our people, and then added this fall.  It was so sudden and unexpected yet somehow I knew that this also was from the Lord so I agreed and the time was set.

I had no basis on what to expect or how many would attend.  As the class began there were about 15 that showed up that first night and it grew several more during the classes on the book. Interest was high and several were asking questions and adding their insights.  One night after class there were a couple or three standing around and visiting when a lady spoke up and said, I think the Lord is asking me to translate your book into Spanish.  I was both stunned and surprised as I knew very little about her.  We began discussing the idea and I left her with the request that she pray about it and then we would talk some more.

Come to find out, she was quite sincere and told me what she did for her job was working with translations into Spanish.  She was a member of our church and her family was also members.  I was still a little shocked by this recent turn of events but I did sense the Lord’s fingerprints all over this so I suggested that she move along and send me chapter one when she finished it.  She then told me that because of a sick mother and other commitments that it would be a few months before she could begin but that she would proceed.

Since then she has finished the first chapter and sent it to me.  Then I didn’t hear from her for several months.  I didn’t have her phone number but I did have her email so I dropped here a note and said that I had been praying for her but did not get an answer.  A few more months went by and one day I met her and her husband in the hall at church.  She then shared that she had been going through an extreme situation with her mother as well as several other matters.  She assured me that it was coming to an end and that she fully intended to continue.  I ran into her a few weeks later and she said she had been working on it and now has chapter two almost completed and that she would send it to me shortly.  She also reported to me that she is dealing with other situations that is causing her a lot of delay but that she could use the prayers to help here through this current time.  Please lift her up to the Lord in your prayers as well.

 

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 . . .

Translation Update

Today I received an email from Pastor Takeshi in Japan.  I rejoiced to hear how the Lord is blessing there in Japan and China.  As you may remember, he is pastoring a church in Japan and doing the translation of my book into Japanese.  He reported that there was a spiritual attack on their church from a noted person who was spreading false teachings throughout the area and how they countered that effort through prayer.  He also reported that there were two young disciples who are planting a new church in China and need prayers as the persecution there is growing.  There are also some other young Christians who are growing in the faith and are standing against the opposition.

He also reported that the Lord sent him an assistant to help him in the work there and therefore he will be able to devote more time to the translation of my book (The Mystery of Faith).He has been working on it but it has been slow.  He is currently on Chapter 5.

I have not heard for my translator in China in some time but our church has and the mission trip to China is now resuming and is in the planning stage.  It is looking like some time in the late fall but is not set at this time.  The last I heard was that he is on Chapter 6.

The translation into Russian is moving along and he is on the last part of Chapter 3.  I have noted that he is getting faster and having an easier time translating as he is understanding more of what the book is about and how it is structured.

About a week or so ago, the translator into Spanish contacted me and is finishing up on Chapter 2.  She has had a lot of sickness in her family and her mother has needed a lot of care so her work has not progresses as fast as she hoped.  Still she is continuing.

I am so amazed at what the Lord is doing with my book.  I never in thought that I would see it published when I first started it but I felt that it was what the Lord wanted me to do so I did it in obedience to Him.  Now I see Him doing other things with it.  I found out that it is being used as a training manual in the underground church in China as a training manual for new pastors.  Biblical training is almost non existent there so any help is deeply appreciated.

After the translations are completed, they will need to be checked by other translators to validate the content and prepare them for publication.  Hopefully, they will be a blessing to many people.More on this as we get closer to the time for the next step.

Update

Tuesday I had my second cataract surgery, this time on the left eye, and everything went well.  When I had my followup on Wednesday, I had 20/20 vision so that is two for two.  This time it went even better than it did the first time.  I am now reading without my reading glasses.  This will be a tremendous help for me as I spend a lot of time reading and working on the computer.

I talked with my translator who is doing the Spanish translation and she is sending me the second chapter this week.  That makes all four translations of my book working on the third chapter or beyond.  I am so amazed at what the Lord is doing.  It is very exciting to work with the missionaries and translators so closely.  I would like for you to pray for each of them as they are facing tremendous obstacles.  One is that they are involved in a number of other mission  actives that also require their time.  At least two of them are working in hostile environments by their governments.  There are families that require their time as well as keeping their focus on what the Lord is doing with them in the translating.  Truly it is a job that is to big for us but not to big for God.

Next Wednesday I will complete our study on Holiness as a lifestyle.  It has been a blessing for me and has continued to grow as we have worked our way through each session.  The class has been great and the work has been a real blessing.  I have a few things that I need to get done soon and then there are a couple trips I need to make.  One is a trip to Oklahoma to be with my grand kids while my daughter makes a mission trip to the country of Turkey.  The second trip is to Colorado for our family reunion and my sister’s 50th wedding anniversary.  Also, I have one more surgery ahead next month to remove excess eyelid skin that is blocking some of my vision and putting pressure on my eyes.  That will complete my eye work.  My vision is already improved to  20/20 and I have lost my double vision and things are a lot clearer.

The final prayer request is that plans are in the works for a mission trip to China and to Japan in October.  It was supposed to have happened in April but was postponed because the Chinese government passed a new law restricting religious activity.  We needed to wait to see how that would affect our efforts.  We need for the Lord to guide us because we cannot see as He does and we need His guidance.

A final note to say thank you for following along with us on this journey and for lifting the work up in prayer.  I hope that these entries are being a blessing to you and I would love for you to comment from time to time on the articles, etc.  Also, let me know if there is something that you would like to see on this site.

Inching Ahead

Today was a study day.  I worked on my SS lesson for tomorrow and worked on this website some more.  Little by little I am getting up to speed.  I love it when I get a response to a blog or article.  Also, I am looking forward to getting some questions on the Q&A.

This week I went to the eye doctor and will be having eye surgery on the 13th of Feb. and again on the 13th of March.  It is not real major – just cataract surgery on both eyes, one at a time.  It got me to thinking how much we depend on our eyesight.  My life would change so dramatically and I would really struggle to adjust to life if I lost my eyesight. I was thinking about how our seeing helps us to understand God’s perception of everything.

Tomorrow I will be in a teacher training meeting.  Our church has these meetings once a month.  They are to help us as teachers to do a better job.  Our educational pastor is so devoted to equipping us that he goes the extra mile all the time.  He is so supportive and helpful.  I needed a large monitor for my class on Wednesday and he got it together with just a few hours notice.

After that meeting I will be practicing with the men’s choir on some new music that we just got last week.  I am relatively new in the men’s choir and am really out-skilled  as I don’t even read music but they encourage me and so I keep going.  Who knows, I might even get better.

News update!  The translations are all progressing.  The Russian translation is in the third chapter and the Spanish translation is almost through the second chapter.  I haven’t heard about the Japanese translation in a while.  I know that the translator was on a mission trip, out of his country so I am guessing that slowed him down some.  I understand that he is working on the 5th chapter.  The translator on the Chinese translation was here a couple weeks ago and they are working on the 6th chapter. The work is slow but it is moving along steadily.

Prisoners 1

In preparing the SS lesson for today on the sanctity of life, I became burdened for the vast majority of all people who are prisoners of one type or another.  I will be expanding on this theme in the next several days.

When Jesus began his ministry, he quoted  Isaiah. 61:1 which is repeated in Luke 4:18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, It is this message that the gospel focuses on.  As you know, the word gospel means good news.  The greatest news to those who are captives and are bruised would be deliverance.  Jesus said in Joh 10:10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

I have identified a number of such prisons that hold people prisoner and keep people from living the abundant life that Christ intended.  I will address several of these in the next few post.  So what makes something a prison?  I am thinking of a poem written by Richard Lovelace in 1642 to Althea, from Prison “… Stone walls do not a prison make, Nor iron bars a cage:”  The reverse is also true, If it controls, it is a prison even if there is not walls or bars.

The first prison I will address is traditionsMatthew 15:9 and Mark 7:7 Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.  Also, in Mark 7:8 For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do.  Traditions offer a sense of security that sometimes blinds us to truth.  It may be very difficult to break a wrong teaching if it has been held it for a long time.  It makes it even harder if there is some seeming justification for it.  It is much easier to go along with it even if you see that it is wrong.  You can be sure that if you rock the boat, there will be some push back reaction.  So you are faced with the choice to reject the error and receive the consequences or to just go along and become its prisoner.  I have no way of knowing how many lives have endured the consequence of going along with what they knew was wrong but I believe that there are many who have wrecked their own lives as well as being a hindrance to others who were affected by the error.

The gospel will set men free from such a prison.   Jesus said in John 8:36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. In dealing with traditions it is important to deal with issues not personalities.  Establish facts, not feelings.  Allow the other(s) to disagree with you if they so choose.  You are not trying to change them but you are trying to establish your own way.  Ask them to allow you the same freedom you give them in not making them a prisoner to your thoughts.  A tradition can be good when it is founded upon truth and does not take prisoners. The good news is that a person is set free in Christ.

My Ministry

I am making this post for those of you who are asking exactly what is my ministry?

I am not currently pastoring a church but I still do preaching whenever I can.  Preaching is a real part of my ministry and I do pulpit supply whenever I have the opportunity.  I have studied the subject of revival extensively and understand it well.  I have preached in the last two Senior Adult Bible Conferences at First Baptist Church, Keller, Texas.  I have preached a revival on the Sioux Indian reservation in North Dakota as well as in small to large churches.  My preaching ministry began in 1970 so nearly a half century of various settings.  Once I used a pot belly stove as a pulpit.

A second area of my ministry is teaching.  This may be the strongest gift I have because it is the most recognized by others.  When the Lord called me to the ministry, the emphasis was on teaching.  It seemed to me that was what the Lord wanted me to do above all else.  Explaining the scripture in a way that it is usable brings me joy.  I teach a Sunday School class each Sunday and have spoken in conferences on several occasions.  I love teaching along with the other aspects of the ministry.  One of my greatest joys is seeing the light come on in other people.

My ministry also includes missions.  I have pastured churches in pioneer areas where all there was, was a mission.  It did not have any deacons or other paid employees. I know the struggle of doing missions.  It required all that I could give to it and even then it was not enough.  As a pastor, I started a mission in a small community that did not have a christian church of any kind.  Several of my most cherished friends are missionaries.  Two of the translators that are working on translations of my book are missionaries.  I pray for them and their work.  I try to help others to see how faithful they are and how they labor in the work of the Lord.

A forth area of my ministry is writing.  I never thought of myself as a writer until I was searching for a book on Faith that explained what faith is and how it works.  I found many books with faith as a topic but I could not find the book I was looking for.  It was then that the Lord laid it on my heart to write that book.  I was the last person that I would have ever guessed should write such a book.  While it is true that the Lord had led me through many faith experiences, I was poor in English, a bad speller and totally inexperienced.  Yet the burden would not leave me so I began struggling to do something that I had no clue on how to do it.  Fast forward several years and my #3 son who majored in English, who now has a masters degree and is teaching English as a second language, started working with me. After several months I had completed the book I couldn’t find.  Certainly the Lord should be credited with that accomplishment.  Since then I have found a penchant in writing and have written some poems, songs, stories and even published some articles.  The project that I am working on now with several translators is the translation of my book into 4 other languages, mentioned in a previous post.  In addition to that I am working on some additional books.  More on that in the future.

Finally, a fifth area of my ministry is consulting for construction projects.  After working in the construction industry for over 50 years, I have learned a few things that make my skill set unique.  I have a vast experience from the contractors vantage point having worked there on every level from sweeping floors to owning my own business twice.  I also understand the church’s view, having pastored churches successfully through the construction phase.  I also understand the mechanics, having a background  in engineering.  And finally, I understand the financial side, having established my own finance organization for my own company, and borrowed a huge amount of money to do a 68 townhouse subdivision.  Now I can use that preparation for the Lord’s work.

These are the major areas of my work but I am also involved in whatever the Lord should so place on my shoulders.  I know that He is in control and He is the one that enables it to happen.  Truly God has chosen the foolish things to confound the wise.

Firewood

I was raised on a small farm with rocky ground and poor soil.  Farming was a lot of hard work and little money.  To make it even worse we lived in a depressed area at the end of WW II.  I remember the rationing of gas, the tokens made of plastic, tires were next to impossible to get, jobs were nonexistent, etc.

Our small home was not insulated and we didn’t have the basic essentials that many others had, such as electricity, indoor plumbing, a steady income, and the like.  Basically, we were poor and just getting by.  I tell you this to accent the impact the following event had on me.

My dad did not just tell me the difference between right and wrong but showed me the difference and how it works. He not only saw to it that we were in church on Sunday, but he took us to Church.  My mother was the church pianist and my dad was active in the leadership of the church.

I remember that one year our family income for the year was $500.  Even though we had needs a plenty, dad still took three days to cut wood with a chopping ax for three sisters that lived together with no other support.  They didn’t even have wood to warm themselves and were worse off than we were.  Dad didn’t just do the right thing, he used the situation to teach me the importance of ministering to others.  He made me go out in the cold with him and stack the limbs that couldn’t be used for firewood and to load the wood on the truck.  Then he made me go with him to deliver the wood.

I will never forget how those women showed us their appreciation.  After we unloaded the wood, we were invited in to share in some homemade pie.  I still remember dad looking quite serious when asked what type of pie he liked and he said, I only like two kinds.  They then asked him what they were and he said, hot and cold.  Everyone had a good laugh and the pies were great.  I even had seconds.  I will never forget the warm feeling I had inside as we rode home.

Missionary Report

To see the hand of God working in the midst of this world has to be one of the great joys of my life.  During the week I met with FYI and listened as he shared some of the things that a person in China go through as a routine of life.  Hardship is the norm and isolation from the rest of the world and the modern wonders are commonplace.  Their life is one of struggle yet Christianity if flourishing.  On the other hand, we have every comfort and freedom and Christianity is often stagnate here.  I marveled as he told me how they are working to train the pastors and leadership and how faithful they are even without the amenities we have.

This morning I was greeted by members of my SS class with the tragic news that the Chinese government bulldozed down the church building of a 50,000 member church.  But, then in the morning service I was blessed by a former member of our church and now a missionary to China.  She has been serving there for 8 years.  This is the third missionary to China from our own church that have been in our services in the past few weeks.  It seems that the Lord may be saying something about the need in China.  It makes the translation of my book into Chinese all the more urgent.

 

A Great Reunion

What a thrill it was to have FYI in our home today.  As you may remember that I told you he was coming today.  I met with him last night and we made plans to meet today.  It was like time had stopped since they left for their homeland.  We rejoice together as we shared the events in our lives.  The people there live under a much different  environment from how we do.  While we enjoy many comforts and freedom, they live under very poor conditions and restrictions.  They do not have religious training available to them in most areas and their services center around prayer meetings and preaching.  Often the preaching will last for over an hour and the singing is little to none.  The churches exist by themselves for the most part as there is no association or convention activity as it is frowned upon by the government.  Travel is limited and much of it is by train.  A typical home will be small, have little furniture, and very little, if any, decorations.

We spent considerable time discussing the possibility of a mission trip to there.  I asked how we could be used to be a blessing to the people without causing a problem with the government.  We talked about many of the considerations such as visas, time, places, schedules, etc.  He shared about the people and how warm and supportive they were.  The work there is in a very primitive state.  The people know quite a bit about the bible but structured doctrine, organization, cooperation between churches and/or regions is almost nonexistent..  Nothing was decided but many possibilities were considered.  We determined to simply pray about it and leave the plan up to the Lord.  As He reveals to us what He wants to do then we will follow.