Summer Time

Summer is a busy time for many people.  My daughter was on a mission trip to Greece and we spent 4 days in Oklahoma with the grand kids.  Then were off to Colorado for  10 days for our family reunion as well as my sister’s golden anniversary..  As soon as we got back on Saturday, we had our grand daughter and 4 of her friends here for 4 days.  I just had eyelid surgery yesterday and am making that adjustment.  Coming up on June 1st is our grand daughter’s graduation and on June 10-14 is the Southern Baptist Convention in Dallas.  It will be good to review with other co-laborers their work with the Lord.

Coming up in August is the Senior Adult Bible Conference.  This year it will begin on Sunday afternoon, August 5 and continue through the 8th.  There will be two speakers each morning, one at 10 AM and one at 11 AM.  I will be speaking on the 8th at the 10 AM slot.

It appears that the China mission trip for Oct-Nov is still moving forward in the planning, but cautiously as there are still some obstacles to overcome.  Please be one of our prayer partners that will under gird this effort.

The translations continue to move forward slowly but continuously.  Every time I hear of progress, I praise the Lord.  This is a work that He initiated and I am just an observer.  I am excited to see how He intends to use this work.

I am praying for each of you as you discover to amazing plan that God has for each of you.  I am seeing the Lord use you in some really amazing ways.  May the Lord Bless you in every way as you serve Him.

 

The Great Commission

The Christian community understands that the Great Commission refers to the charge of Jesus to evangelize the world.  The main Scripture that is associated with this commission is Matthew 28:18-20 And Jesus came to them and spake unto them, saying, All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: 20 teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.  It was also recorded in Mark 16:15, Luke 24:47, Acts 1:8, and referred to in several other scriptures.

A commission comes with certain implications.  First, it is a command and not a request.  It is not based on whether or not you feel like it or if it fits into your schedule.  It is your schedule.  Your life is to include this task as a main theme.  It is of prime importance and not to be regulated into a lesser importance.  People’s eternities are at stake and our love for our Lord as well as our love for others are our motivators.

Second, we are to go into all the world with the gospel message.  God’s message is for everyone and everyone is important to Him.  The Bible declares that it is not God’s will that any perish, but that all come to repentance.  (2 Peter 3:9)  There is no specific plan as to priority of order of importance but ‘as you go’ or maybe ‘where ever you go’ or everywhere you go is the order of the day.  Further, it is an all inclusive plan to include all places.  From the early church it was Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the uttermost parts of the earth.  Your Jerusalem is where you begin and includes that environment.  Your Judea is the region just beyond your Jerusalem.  Your Samaria goes beyond your Judea to include the more difficult places for you to include your prejudices, or your enemies, or some other barrier you will need to cross such as distance or finances.  Your uttermost part of the earth extends to include all peoples in all places and all circumstances.

The third implication is that we are to go in His power and not our own.  It is so often said that I cannot afford to go on missions.  God will finance His missions.  I am not saying that it is a free ride and you have no responsibility in this.  What I am saying is that all resources belong to God, they are not ours.  The first place to go is to the Lord in prayer and seek His power to deal with this situation.  Don’t attempt to do it on your own for you are commissioned to look to Him for the resources to go and the power to do His will.  If you can accomplish the task without His power then it will frustrate the grace of God and you will get the glory.  God has commissioned us to the ministry of reconciliation for more purposes than you can guess.  It is partly for the ministry to others, but just as importantly, for us to grow in our own faith and love.  The struggle to reject our own efforts as the solution and to tap in to God’s power is equally important for us as it is to them.

The final implication that I will address is our witness.  The apostles said that they were witnesses to what they had seen and heard.  If you testify to that which you did not have first hand knowledge, then you become a false witness.  Instead of revealing the God of glory, you now obscure the view and work against the Lord.  You cannot give what you do not possess.  You have to be real and cannot go beyond your own personal revelation.  It is important to remember that you are in partnership with the Lord in this work and as you are being transformed into His image, He then uses you as His illustration of the message.  It is His work and you are a part of that plan.  The success of the word is not on you, but on Him.  You are a witness of that success.

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 . . .

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 . . .

Baby Steps 1

With the translations all moving ahead, I am beginning to make plans for their publication.  I am currently assembling a list of publishers to check out to find the next step in the Lord’s plan.  I do not see clearly as to the timing or the means of this effort so the first step is through prayer.  My prayer is that the Lord will make me sensitive enough to detect His leading.  It is not my job to gather the resources or to make the decisions, for this is His work.  My most important job is in prayer.  My tendency is to try to do His job while ignoring my job.  I think there are a lot of people with that mentality.   We waste resources, motion, time and opportunity in attempting to control the situation, rather than follow the Lord through it.

I did not start this project but it was given me by the Lord.  I do not know what the Lord will do with it or even if I would ever complete it, but look at what the Lord has done, so far.  First, I was asked to do a job that I had no inkling that I could do and that was to write the book.  I stumbled along for years starting and then stopping.  I knew that I had been given insights into faith because of the many experiences that He had led me through but I did not feel qualified.  Then He gave me I  1Co 1:27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;  Neither my skills or abilities qualified me but my Lord chose me because it would be easier for others to see Him, because no one would even think that it was from me.  Then I remembered that even the apostles were uneducated men but were qualified by the Lord.

Then came the finishing of the book.  It was clear that I needed help and it came from the most surprising source.  My number three son, Daniel, who has a masters degree in English and is a College professor who teaches English as a second language, stepped forward and offered to polish it for me.  He didn’t want any credit for its content and refused any recognition.  He only wanted to help me, knowing my limitations.  He was of tremendous help in moving me through its completion.

By this time in my life I was beginning my retirement so I had the time.  Also, I had just discovered that I had stage 4 cancer in my neck and the back of my tongue.  That urgency was also a help in keeping me on track. Later, the Lord healed me completely from the cancer and the book was finished and published.  That alone was amazing but there is still more.

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.

Word Study Commentaries

I have a number of helps in my library that I have come to trust and have been a great source of insight.  They are know as Greek word studies.  You don’t have to know the original language to study the bible.  You can know its original meaning by using these word studies.  They will give you the original word and its meanings and the other places in scripture that the same word is used.  In addition, it will give you the variant meanings of its use.

There are a number of these and I won’t give you a complete list but there are a few that I use the most.  There is W E Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words where each word is keyed to Strong’s reference numbers as well as many other keys to its use.  It includes the old as well as the New Testament words in a one volume book.

W E Vines also has an Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words which is his older work on only the New Testament

There is Kenneth Wuest’s, Word Studies in the Greek New Testament.  It is a three of four volume set covering most of the New Testament, verse by verse.  He also has a complete New Testament translation from the Greek.  He also, gives you the original Greek work and its literal translation.

There is A T Robinson’s New Testament Word Pictures.  He doesn’t cover all of the New Testament but he does cover most of it and has some good insights as to word usage.  This comes in a 6 volume set with extensive insights into the Greek understanding and thought processes.

There are a number of other such references, some of which are not as reliable as the others, but for the average Christian today it is a giant step toward reading the bible in its original language and getting a more accurate understanding of God’s word.

 

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.