God Will Bring Us Through

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The year 2010 is almost over.  I can almost hear some people saying, “Well, we made it through another year!”  Have you heard this being spoken?  Have you perhaps said something like this?  But what is really being said in an expression like this?  I want to briefly look at this saying, and then take a look into my own life.

By saying, “Well, we made it through another year!” it makes me wonder if the people who say it doubted that it would actually happen.  It even makes it sound like they were surprised.  And I suppose in some instances, this may be a fact.  Given the bad economy that we still have around us, I believe that there are some people who do get to the end of the year and are surprised that they did survive financially.  And medically, I know there are people who thank God that they have survived physically to see the end of the year.

But what concerns me is not the people who have experienced or are experiencing a genuine crisis, be that physical, emotional, financial, or what have you.  My concern is for people who are simply trudging through life, who see the world constantly through the lens of negativity, who appear to be joylessly enduring life rather than seeing the positive and rejoicing in life, regardless of what circumstances they may be finding themselves in.

This is especially true for Christians.  Five days ago, we celebrated a Day that changed all of human history, the fact that Jesus, the very Son of God, took on flesh and was born among us.  And with that miraculous birth came the announcement of Good News for all the world.  This event of Christmas Day, coupled together by the astounding event of Easter, when Christ rose back from the dead and showed he had conquered death, and Hell, and the Devil himself, has given to us who believe a reason to hope and grounds to live each day in victory.  Upon us, the Son is always shining.  (Pun intended.)

Now let’s get practical about all this.  It would be my hope that all Christians would be filled with joy knowing that Jesus came to earth as a baby in order that one day He would die as a man and through this means offer new life to all who believe in His name.  And I’m sure all Christians all yearning for the day when Christ shall come again and make all things new, and we will live with Him forever in the new Heaven and the new Earth.  But what about all the days between, when we live our lives here on earth as mortal men and women.

I think that it is a fact of life that while we are mortal, we will worry for our lives, such as: what will we eat, where will we live, how will we live, etc.  Even though Jesus tells us through very picturesque stories that we have no need to worry.  God, he says, will take care of us and our daily needs if we will trust Him to do so.  Read Matthew 6:25-34 to see what Jesus said.  And Paul puts it this way in Philippians 4:19:

And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

In principle this sounds great.  But I still hear some people saying that this kind of faith does not match the reality of life.  There is still sickness and death.  There is still poverty.  There is still emotional pain and disappointments in life that beat down this faith, and condemn us to just accept things as they are and to continue our weary trudge through life.

No my friend!  Do not accept this message which the world would preach at us.  Scripture tells us that we are “more than conquerors“.  Read Romans 8:28-39, which begins with the love of God for us, and ends with the love of God we have through Christ our Lord.  And the key verse here for me has to be in verse 28 which says that “in all things God works for the good of those who love Him.”  The real truth is that not all things are good, as mentioned above, but rather that in everything that happens to us in live, God can bring good out of the situation.

Now believe me when I say that this is not some intellectual truth I am holding on to, but in fact, I am seeing this to be true in my own life daily.  Not everyone who reads this will know that I have been hit with a muscle disease that runs in our family genetics that severely restricts my ability to walk and causes me to experience significant pain on a daily basis.  So how do I handle this?  I take life at a much slower pace, and I look for what is positive in each situation, and trust that God will bring good out of this experience, for me and for those with whom I come in contact with.

So no matter what life gives us, and no matter what others may say about that, I want to encourage all of us to believe ultimately in the goodness of God.  Our life story is not over until it is over.  In the meantime, hold on to the belief that God has not abandoned us, even if we are in a “valley of the shadow of death.”  Live by the words of this chorus from an old song written and sung  by The Imperials:

He didn’t bring us this far to leave us.
He didn’t teach us to swim to let us drown.
He didn’t build His home in us to move away.
He didn’t lift us up to let us down.

Sickness or Satan?

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Please pray for me today.  (And also in the next week and a half.)

My legs are fine (thank you God) which I believe is due to this new narcotic patch the doctor has me on.  But either I am sick (but don’t quite feel that way), or the narcotic patch is affecting me negatively, or the Enemy is oppressing me.

I have not slept well for about 6 nights, but last night was terrible.  (I’ve been up and down to bed 5 times in the last 13 hours, and the most I can rest is 2 hours at a time.  When I try to focus on anything other than my Bible translation consultant prep work, I feel fine and can focus.  But as soon as I start focusing on the translation work, my eyes start to cross, my stomach starts to heave, and within an hour I have to go lie down in bed again.

I want to be careful not to give too much credit (or blame) to the Enemy.  It could very well be sickness or drug imbalance.  But it is interesting to note that I am only 4 days away from flying to California to help teach a one-week mission course, and I am only four weeks away from my trip to Papua New Guinea to do the consultant checking of 7 books of the Bible.

I have been in ministry long enough to know that Satan will definitely try to oppose God’s people from doing God’s work.  I know I am on the right path doing the right things for God right now.  So even if I was not feeling the way I am feeling right now, I would be asking you to be praying for me for good health, strength and spiritual protection.

The bottom line right now is that I ask you to please pray for me.  I am only a frail human trying to do a momentous work of God.  I cannot do it apart from God’s empowering Holy Spirit.  But I also cannot do it without the support of covering prayer from the saints, believers like yourself.

Thank you for your prayers.

Norm Weatherhead

Favorite Holiday Movie

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The Plinky Question for this week is:  “What is Your Favorite Holiday Movie?”

This question may look easy, but it’s not.  Where would a person start?  With the traditional classics?  Would I pick “It’s a Wonderful Life“, “White Christmas“,  or “Miracle on 34th Street“?  (Of course there would be a problem if I picked “Miracle on 34th Street” as I would then have to chose The Original, or The Remake.)

I’d really be in trouble if I said my favorite holiday movie is “A Christmas Carol“, as there have been four releases of this story, going back as far as 1938 for its first debut, and coming all the way up to as recent as 2009 starring Jim Carrey.  Oh, and of course I would have to include in this group the special Jim Henson version in 1992 “The Muppet Christmas Carol” starring Michael Caine as Mr. Scrooge, and Kermit the Frog who played the ever loyal assistant Bob Cratchit.

Perhaps I should stick to more family-centered movies, like “A Christmas Story“, or “Home Alone (#1 or #2?)” or perhaps a mighty belly laugher, gut-splitting anti-Christmas comedy movie like “Christmas With the Kranks“.  And speaking of Tim Allen, who plays Jolly ol’ Nick three times in the blockbusters “Santa Clause 1“, then “Santa Clause 2: the Mrs. Clause“, and finally “Santa Clause 3:  The Escape Clause.”   Aaaaaaahhhhhhh!!!!!  Too many choices.

And let’s not forget the animated movies that we all love, like “Mickey’s Christmas Carol“, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Movie“, “Frosty the Snowman” and let us never forget”The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.”  All of these terrific movies cannot be simply brushed away if I were to pick one and only one and claim that this is my most favorite holiday movie.

So what is the answer?  Well, we decided there must be some happy middle ground, and this is what we finally came up with.  As much as possible over the years, we have saved up money and collected these various movies so that we have a whole section of one binder dedicated to “Christmas Movies”.  And each year, for the most part, we start watching the first movie about 2 weeks before Christmas, and each night from that point on, we will try to watch another Christmas movie.

And what is the final Christmas movie that we watch on the evening of the 24th, the night before Christmas?  Inevitably, it is “The Muppet Christmas Carol”  So now I guess you have caught me in my words.  If we had to choose one above all the others, this wold be the one.  We laugh, we cry, we sing along.  And in the end, we raise our voices and say along with Tiny Tim (who does not die), “God bless us, one and all.”

The End

Final P.S.:  So what is your favorite holiday movie, and why?  Come on, you can tell us.

Where is Baby Jesus?

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Our First Village Christmas

Our family has had the privilege of having Christmas in many different countries, provinces, states, cities and villages around the world over the years.  In fact, since Jill and I were married 26 years ago, this year will be very unique, for this will be the first time we have had Christmas in the same home in the same city two years in a row.

But of all the Christmases that we have had, I think we would both say that our most memorable one was in 1997, the year we had our fist Christmas in our village in Papua New Guinea.  We had been living only 6 months in the village by the time Christmas came around.  Everything was still fresh and exciting.  But we also felt so cut off from the outside world, which made sense, seeing as we were living by an airstrip cut right out of the jungle, many miles from any other town.

And it certainly didn’t feel like the “Christmas season” as we sweltered in the 30+ Celsius weather.  There were no stores to go Christmas shopping in our village, no lights being put up on other houses in our neighborhood.  There was a church in our village, a Catholic sponsored village meeting-house made from bush material.  There was not much to look at in our village, not even our own western-style house with its corrugated tin roof, but bush material siding was that attractive.

So we decided that we would go all out, as much as possible, to make Christmas come alive for us, and for the people of the village.  We had brought over with us quite a few strings of lights with us, so we hung up our Christmas lights on the edge of our roof and covered most of the front and side with the lights.  And because we had solar panels and deep-cell batteries, we could turn on our lights at night.  Wow!!  You should have seen the curiosity and the excitement of the people in the village.  They were so fascinated by these blinking lights, that some of them sat on the airstrip and just stared at them for hours on end.

Well, the next important item for us was to set up a Christmas tree and our little nativity scene.  A church had sent us a Christmas tree to use while we lived in PNG.  What a special present that was for us to get.  And so, in the little entry way at the front of our house we put up all our inside decorations, the tree, and our nativity scene.  (The picture below is actually from 2000).

Now the tree and nativity scene were close enough to the front screen door that when children from the village would come up our outside stairs, they would see them while sitting on the platform.  And Jill would come and explain to the children what Christmas was about, and especially would point out the manger scene where Jesus was born.  But one bright young boy said to her one day, “But where is Baby Jesus?  I see Mary, and Joseph, and the Shepherds, but I don’t see Baby Jesus!”

It was very hard not to smile at the question, because it was a good one.  We had kept the little figure in the box.  And Jill’s answer was, “It’s not the 25th yet.  He wasn’t born until Christmas Day.  But if you come back on the 25th, I’m sure he will be here.”  And for the next week up until Christmas, the kids would run up the stairs to see if, just in case, the Baby Jesus figure had arrived.

Now what do you think happened on Christmas morning?  Just as dawn was breaking (about 6 a.m.), we heard some noise at our front door.  I looked out the window, and crowded on our platform was over a dozen little kids from the village, and just as many down below.  When we opened the door, the kids looked in directly at the nativity scene, and there was the little figurine in the manger.  And with a squeal of excitement the kids all broke out, “Baby Jesus!  Baby Jesus!  He did come!”

Well, I must say that made our day, that Christmas morning 13 years ago.  To see such excitement among the children as they ran back through the village telling everyone to come to our house to see Baby Jesus.  It made me feel like we were back there at the Manger 2000 years ago and witnessing the first burst of joy of the angels, and then of the shepherds, as they announced the birth of the Messiah, the Emmanuel, God with us.

May you too rejoice on this Christmas Day, and celebrate the Good News, that in the town of Bethlehem, a Saviour has been born for us.  Hallelujah.

Celebrating Christmas

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Our Monthly Mission Update

To all our dear friends,

Once again it is the season to rejoice and to put our focus on the wonderful news that Jesus our Saviour was born.  We see this reflected in all the smiles we see and the Christmas greetings that are exchanged.  We experience this as we have family gatherings and special events.  What a wonderful time of year.

Just looking at our calendar for December, we can see that the 5 of us getting together to celebrate the season in special ways is really big for us this year.  We kicked off the events with an unbeatable Christmas concert with Michael W. Smith, who was joined by the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra.  Their sweet music, and his great songs were made even more special when they had the 2000+ audience join in on a number of Christmas carols.  That certainly was a night that will not be forgotten.

Last Saturday, Eric & Esther came back over to our place again so we could engage in some of our great Christmas traditions.  This year, I turned over the lights to Eric & Glen and they lit up our tree.  Jill prepared cookie dough, which was then attacked by fancy cookie cutters and then baked.  For the following 2 hours, we all had fun as we used icing sugar and food coloring to decorate our cookies and made them into masterpieces.  The evening ended with watching “Santa Clause” with Tim Allen.

Now on Christmas eve, we will have a pizza party and our traditional Christmas eve movie, “The Muppets’ Christmas Carol”, with Gonzo as Charles Dickens, Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy as Tiny Tim’s parents, and Michael Caine as Ebenezer Scrooge.  When we take the kids home, we will slowly wind our way through neighbourhoods and look at all the dazzling Christmas lights.

On Christmas Day, we will gather all 5 of us again, plus bring my mother over from her senior’s residential building.  There will be a few gifts exchanged, but not many this year, as we want this year to focus more on family and events to celebrate Jesus.  But I’m sure Jill will cook up a great dinner for all of us.

And then, on Monday the 27th, we will add in one final event.  The five of us will head to the theater and watch the newest Narnia movie, “Voyage of the Dawntreader”.  We are really excited about that, and can hardly wait to go see it.
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This December has turned out to be quite an exciting one for all of us.  But the New Year will see us having just as exciting, though different kinds of adventures.  On January 2nd, Norm will fly to California to help teach a week-long missions course at a Christian university.  Our mission, Pioneer Bible Translators, likes to take its Introductory & Orientation Courses to other Bible college campuses when it can.

Norm returns from California on the 8th, and then basically turns right around in nineteen days to start his long trek over to Papua New Guinea.  He will be gone for nine weeks on this trip, from Jan. 27th to March 28th.  Jill will follow him on February 1st, and then return a bit earlier on March 14th.  We will tell you more about the upcoming trip in our January update.

So much to do……and so much to be grateful for.  Remembering Jesus and his miraculous birth who came to give His life for us.  And then the opportunities for us to give our lives back to Him in our service for Him.
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Please be praying with us then on these important points:

– in all our celebrating, to still keep Jesus first in our thoughts
– that Norm will be ready to teach his class portions in California
– that Norm will maintain good health and have the energy to teach
– that all the consultant prep work can be done before going to PNG
– that Jill will be okay to let Norm fly alone to CA, as well as PNG later
– that our boys will continue to do well at their Graphic Arts Design school
Finally, we give thanks once again, for all of our dear friends and churches which support us through prayer and financial donations.  As Paul would say, we are all partners in the gospel together, taking God’s Word to the ends of the earth.

Merry Christmas to all,

Norm & Jill Weatherhead
Pioneer Bible Translators

My Hero….Captain Kirk


The Plinky Question for this week is:   “Who is your hero and why?”

There could be lots of good answers to this question for me.  Like fiction characters such as Superman, Thor, or Jack Ryan of the Tom Clancy series.  There are some real missionary heroes that I look up to like Hudson Taylor, William Carey, or Mother Theresa.  And there have been some wonderful people who I have known and have influenced my life profoundly.  You can read about them in “God Spoke Through People.

But in keeping with the fun nature of Plinky.com, I thought I would tell you about one of my all-time favorite heroes, namely James T. Kirk, Captain of the legendary starship the Enterprise.  You might wonder if it is because he symbolizes all that I could wish to be.  He’s handsome, popular, sexy; he’s a ‘rough and tumble’ kind of guy (who always gets his shirt ripped to show off his bod to the ladies).

No, my ego is intact enough to not be threatened by such daunting physical qualities.  : )  Rather, it is his qualities of a great leader that make me want to walk in his shoes.  In every situation, no matter how bleak, he always had an answer, he always faced and conquered every challenge.  Just like his spoof counterpart, Tim Allen, who plays Commander Peter Quincy Taggart in the movie “Galaxy Quest“, the motto must go forth: “Never give up, never surrender.

This great phrase makes me think of Ephesians 6:10-18.  We are in the middle of a great spiritual battle for Planet Earth and all its people, whether we realize it or not.  I think one of the key verses in this passage is verse 13.  We are told who are enemies are, the spiritual forces of darkness at work here in the world and in the heavenly realms.  And after this verse we are told what our armament is for this cosmic battle.  But read what verse 13 says,

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

We are to dress (in spiritual terms) for battle, we are to face the battle, we are to engage in battle, and then having done all that, we are told to still keep standing.  We do find out in Ephesians 6 that our strength comes not from us, but from the Lord.  But we must have an attitude like Captain Kirk or Commander Taggart, “Never give up, never surrender.”

And I must say that with this kind of attitude, that Captain Kirk was the eternal optimist.  He always believed that he could do the impossible, and find a way out of any situation.  Like when he and his crew mates were stranded on the planet “Genesis” by the ruthless Khan.  (Star Trek 2: “The Wrath of Khan“…boy, what a movie.)  There was always a back up plan for Kirk.

How does this relate to us spiritually?  Have you or I ever felt like the situation was impossible, that there was no way to accomplish what needed to be done?  Sure.  But that is why we must treasure such a rich promise as Philippians 4:13,

I can do all things through Christ, because he gives me strength.

Or consider how difficult it is to face and conquer the temptations to do the things that are wrong that hit us from every side and bombard us day after day.  God knew this in advance and gave us the means to escape such powerful temptations that we face all the time in 1 Corinthians 10:13,

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

So there you go.  Now you know who my favorite (non-fiction) hero is, and why.  If he were here right now, he would say to you and I, “Live long and prosper.”  But even better than this saying, is the fabulous promise of Jesus, our Lord and Savior,

I have come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

Oops…Did I Say That?

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Ephesians 4:29

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

In the last two weeks, I have been studying the book of Ephesians as I prepare to go to Papua New Guinea to do the consultant check on the translation of this book into one the minority languages there.  When we came chapter 4, verse 29 jumped out to me as I recalled a discussion I had just had with one of my sons during the previous week.

I have always been proud of my son for his deep faith in Christ, his gentle nature, and his desire to be helpful to others, especially those who cannot help themselves.  Which is interesting since his desire is to join the Canadian Armed Forces.  When asked why he would choose this path, his response many times is, “So I can help defend the defenseless.”

So given his interest in the military, it is not surprising that most of the video games he plays are related to war (or special forces, etc.).  This means that many of his games are what we would call “shooter” games.  As he plays online and interacts with others though, he hears language that is quite strong.

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Now I must say that my son does not swear or use profanity, at least as far as the world standard for language use is concerned.  No, he uses the other words, what you might say are the cousins to profane words.  He will say, “Shoot”, or “Darn” which are close relatives to other words that I consider to be profanity.  But his most common word, and the one that has me most on edge, is the word “Frack!” or “Fricking!”  And these words are definitely so close to the other “F” word that is definitely a swear word, that I have had to talk many times with my son over the use of language in our house.

So I was very pleased when last week he sat down beside me and said, “How do I stop saying these words?  What can I do to change this?”  So I told him a story about my youth which he had never heard.

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I said, “When I was in Grade Six, I wanted to sound tough, just like all the other guys around me.  I figured that if I sounded tough like them, they would stop picking on me.  And it wasn’t long before I could swear a blue streak up and down like you wouldn’t believe.”

“You’re right,” he said. “I don’t believe it.  But what did you do about it, because I never hear you swear today?”

So I responded, “Well, I got what I wished for. My language became so foul that people backed away from me and left me alone.  But then I was really alone.  So I learned quickly that sounding tough repelled both my friends and those who didn’t like me.  The answer to my dilemma didn’t come until the next year, when I was in Grade Seven.”

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“It was in Grade Seven that God reached out and touched me and broke through my tough exterior and began His work in my heart. [See the post “For My Tears, Jesus Died”] And shortly after I accepted Christ as my Lord, one of my first prayers was for God to help me stop using foul language.  And you know what?  Within a matter of days, I found that I had no desire to swear anymore.  My prayer was answered.  God cleaned up my heart and then cleaned up my language.”

I know that this story was an encouragement to my son.  But then he asked a very practical question, “So when I get frustrated, like when I play these games and one of the guys on my team does something stupid and gets me killed, what should I say?”

We dialogged about this for a while and we came up with two solutions as to how to deal with situations that cause anger or frustration.  First of all, we decided that laughing at the situation is probably a much better response than speaking out of anger.  And then secondly, the way to stop using profane language is to lay down new neuropaths in our brains by using completely different words.  And hopefully the new words will be neutral, rather than negative, or even be funny.

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Again, I’d have to say I am so thankful that my son came to speak with me about this.  Even though in one month he will no longer be a teenager, still he is willing to come to his Dad and talk to him about deep issues and difficult topics.  And it showed me that he has been listening to me about my concerns of the kind of words he uses.  But most importantly, this experience has confirmed for me that my son wants the Lord to control his life, and he wants to do the things that please Him.  That’s what really counts in the long run.

It is interesting to read what Solomon wrote regarding parents and their son in Proverbs 10:1

A wise son brings joy to his father,but a foolish son grief to his mother.

God Will Supply

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How I Became a Missionary – Part 2

In 1979, I learned a huge lesson in the area of trusting God.  It started in the Summer of 1978, it was challenged through the Winter and Spring of 1979, and then was rewarded in the Summer of 1979 with a success so fantastic that it blew my mind, but swelled my heart with love for God and increased my  faith considerably.

Here’s how it began.  I attended a High School-Young Adult camp week at our church’s Christian Camp.  The entire week was great, but the hour session that I looked forward to the most was the daily presentation from different missionaries.  For three years at this point, I was firm in my belief that God was calling me to become a missionary.  In an earlier post, “God Spoke Through People“, I shared about four individuals that influenced my life to eventually become a Bible Translator.  But there was one more woman named Lois who impacted me powerfully at this Youth Camp in the Summer of 1978.

I think it was a Wednesday that Lois spoke to our group about a mission which she had gone on, Teen Missions International.  She showed us her pictures, she told us what the project was and what country they worked in.  But what caught my attention most was the fact that Teen Missions accepts Teenagers to go on these mission trips.  Makes sense, since that is part of their mission title.  But I had been dreaming of doing mission work for three years now, and in all that time, I never came across a mission that could really use teenagers.

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So I took the literature and was amazed to see that each summer, TMI was sending over 1500 teenagers all around the globe to more than 50 countries in the world.  Hot Dog!!  That Fall I started my first year at the University of Calgary, but I did another first too.  I made my first application to a mission group.  I was determined to go the next year into the deep Amazon rainforest and do construction on a New Tribes Mission  base camp in the jungle.

The two requirements, besides being a Christian, were to get 100 prayer supporters to stand with me on this mission experience, and to raise the financial support to pay for the trip.  The first requirement was easy as I had accepted Christ and was baptized when I was 12 and been actively part of the church since then.  To raise up 100 Prayer Partners was a challenge, but this too fell into place after I shared my vision for doing mission work with many people.  It was the third requirement that became the real test.  It tested me to see who I really was, and it tested my faith in God.

I believe the original target was for me to raise $1,450 to be on a Brazil team.  The acceptance package that I got from TMI had lots of ideas of how to raise support, and it included about 100 bookmark prayer cards with my picture and details of the project.  The info in the package explained the need to have as many prayer and financial partners standing behind you to help make this goal of becoming a missionary possible.

But at this point in my Christian life, I was not at the point that I felt comfortable asking people for money so I could go on this “Grand Exciting Missionary Adventure”.  I felt that as a strong 18-year-old, who already held down two-part time jobs along with University studies, could find ways to earn his own money to pay for the trip.  By late Winter, just before classes ended, I added a third part-time job, and after school was out, I added a fourth part-time job.  See what I mean?  I was strong.  I was able.  I didn’t need other people.  (Oops, see where this is going?)

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And then an amazing thing happened.  One by one, I ended up losing not one or two, but all of my four jobs.  Some had been temporary, some the work declined and they let some of us go, and one job said they didn’t need me anymore.  I don’t think I was fired, but I certainly was released.  And there I was about one month away from my time of departure for the mission trip, and I was still quite a few hundred dollars short.

I was in shock!  I was angry with God!  Didn’t He want me to be a missionary?  I begged God, I pleaded with Him to help me find one more job to get the money together.  Then he reminded me about the fund-raising packet I had been sent.  I really couldn’t see how people, most of whom knew very little about me, would ever decide to support this mission trip.  But slowly my stubborn heart broke before God, and I said I would send out the materials, and trust in Him to see the remainder come in.

The instructions said to make a list of everyone you knew, family, friends, teachers, long-lost relatives, people you met even 5 years ago, etc.  I was somewhat skeptical, but I did what it told me to do.  And then I did the only other thing I could do.  I prayed, and I prayed, and I prayed.  And I found I got to the place where I really did believe that God could do this.  And in the coming days, I saw letters come back to me,  some with encouraging words, some with a cheque.  And often, the gift was only $10 or $20.  But it did start to add up and I could see the goal getting closer each day.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

And then it came down to the last week before I was to leave.  I was still about $150 short.  I laid this before God, and I said, “God, if you really, really want me to do this and begin my journey to becoming a missionary, then I am asking you to not only supply the final $150, but do it in such a way that I will never doubt your faithfulness to sustain me nor doubt my calling to be a missionary.”

It was the night before I was to leave, and still I was short some money.  Then somehow, from somewhere, I can’t remember because I thought I might be wrong about this whole thing, I found that an envelope had been put in my hands.  When I asked my mom who it was from or where it came from, she said she didn’t know.  So I slowly opened the envelope, and inside it was a cheque.  I held my breath as I slowly pulled it out.  I turned it over and almost stopped breathing.

The whole trip was about $1,450, I was short still by about $100.  I blinked twice to make sure I wasn’t seeing it wrong.  There in my hands was a cheque for $1,472.  The entire mission trip was completely covered by one anonymous donor.  Not only did God provide for my need, He did so in such a dramatic way (the last night) with such a grand financial gift, that I had no doubt that going on this mission trip was definitely His will for me.  And it was the pivotal moment that gave me my assurance of my calling to be a missionary.

Psalm 34:8  Taste and see that the LORD is good;

blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.

Please, Let Me Read!



There is one story from my childhood that stands out head and shoulders above all my other stories as you will see in a minute.  This is probably my mother’s favorite story, and I smile too whenever I think about this one.  It has to do with my love for reading.

My mother had read books to all of us as we were growing up in the family and from her I learned that books could be exciting to read.  They say, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”  And when you are a beginning reader that is probably true, for you look at the big picture, you see the few words underneath, but the picture helps to transport you to another world.  In time, you switch from looking at the pictures to reading more and more words.  But the idea remains the same, the story opens up all kinds of possibilities in your mind.

So when I was just turning 6 in Grade One, one of my favorite places was the school library.  There never seemed to be enough time to read books at the school, so I would sign out a pile of books each weekend and read them all by Monday.  Each story would take me to places that fueled my imagination and increased my thirst for knowledge.  It was a wonderful experience…..until the day I discovered there was a restriction.

One day, when I went to sign out some books, the librarian asked me, “Aren’t you in Grade One?  You are only allowed to check out books on that one shelf.  All the other books are for older children.”

Needless to say, I was totally broken-hearted at this news.  And when I got home and my mother saw how distressed I was, she had me tell her the whole story.  “Well!  You and I are going to have a talk with the principal on Monday about this,” she said.  At the same time, I was excited to think we could find a solution to my situation, and scared to think I would be going to the Principal’s Office on Monday.

Sure enough, on Monday we talked it over with the principal.  And guess what?  The three of us marched over to the library and the principal duly informed the librarian, “Mrs _____, I am here to inform you that this young man is now allowed to take out any book he wants from the library.”  Wahooo!!!  I was so excited, I immediately started into the Grade Two section and kept on taking out books and reading anything I could get my hands on.

I want you to know that I still have this passion for reading today.  I probably have anywhere from 3 to 5 books on the go at a time.  But the book I keep reading again and again is God’s Word.  It is still the Book of Books.  In many ways, it is my love for reading, and my love for God, that has combined to lead me into this profession of doing Bible translation.

And you know what?  The same thrill and joy I used to get when I read children’s books so long ago, is the same kind of thrill and joy I see in people of minority languages when they get their hands on Scripture in their own language.  Even if it is only a small portion of the Bible, or even a children’s level story book of Bible stories, the people will make great efforts to get a copy and try to read it themselves.

I will never forget the time I announced that the plane coming to our village to bring some brand new story books in their language was going to be delayed.  But I said, it should be here tomorrow by midday.  Well, the next morning came, and people started to gather around our house next to the airstrip.  I asked what they were waiting for, and they said they were waiting for the plane, waiting to get the new reading books.

Hours later, the plane finally arrived.  By this time, close to 80 people had gathered and waited the whole time.  We got the boxes from the Cessna plane, plus other supplies.  As soon as the plane had taken off, the people gathered around the book boxes and eagerly laid their hands on them.  I think there were 50 copies each of 10 simple story books that had been translated into their language.  And then the next thing was amazing.

No sooner had a person gotten a story book, but he or she just sat down right where they were and started to read.  By our house, under our house, on the airstrip, they all sat down and tried, slowly and carefully, to read the stories written in their language.  The only time they moved was when they got up to trade a booklet with someone else.  And they did that for the rest of the afternoon until finally the sun had set and they could no longer read.

Now remember, these stories made up into ten or twelve page booklet form, were either small Bible related stories, or nice cultural stories.  But the people ate them up as if their lives depended upon it.  Just imagine what it is like when they get a full book of Scripture.  (The book of Mark was finally made available in 2003.)  Then picture the excitement and joy when they will get the entire New Testament in their language.  I have heard of villages putting on celebrations that run a whole week long, there is just so much joy at receiving God’s Word in a language they can understand, they can’t contain their joy to just one day.

“Dear God.  Thank you for the ability to read.  And thank you so much that we can read about You and Your great love in a book called the Bible.  Help us Lord, to continue to get more of Your Word translated and made available to those who have not had the Bible in their language up until now.”

Spiritually Dangerous Attitudes

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Read Hebrews 10:26-31

It is not certain who wrote the book of Hebrews.  But many believe the author was writing to Jewish Christians.  There are points throughout the book where it is clear that these Christians were enduring hardships, even persecution for their faith.  The author wants to strengthen their faith, pointing out just how superior Jesus is to key OT figures, and even more superior to angels.  He demonstrates time and again how much better the New Covenant in Jesus’ blood is than to the limited and temporary Old Covenant build on the sacrifices of animals year after year.

But there is one more concern that the writer touches upon a number of times throughout the book, namely the fact that there is the danger of Christians turning away from God and rejecting all that was once held to be true.  He speaks quite bluntly about this in the passage quoted above, Hebrews 10:26-31.  It is hard to believe that a Christian would ever turn his or her back on God, since they have, as the author puts it, “received the knowledge of the truth.”

The question some might ask is, “was this just ‘head’ knowledge, and so that person was never actually saved?”  No, the wording here speaks of not just knowing facts about God, but rather it speaks of someone who has had “a deep experiential relationship knowledge of God.”  There can be no doubt that person had been born again and was a child of God.  So what happened?

The key is in the wording of the actions of the person.  In verse 26, the verb speaks of a person who “deliberately and habitually chooses to sin against God.”  This attitude is expanded in verse 29 where the person has “trampled underfoot the Son of God, treated as unholy the blood of the covenant, and insulted the Spirit of grace.”  Put in simpler terms, the person has decided he wants nothing more to do with Jesus, he has considered the sacrifice of Christ as being meaningless, and speaks out against God and considers Him to be a God of wrath and punishment, not a God of love.

I’ve pondered this many times, and tried to figure out how a person who loves God, could become a person who hates God.  And I think part of the answer lies within the very nature of human culture, whether it be Western or non-Western culture.  Our attitudes towards God can be so negatively influenced by our culture that the results are that our beliefs are correspondingly incorrect.  And this can cause a person to start the walk of faith, and end up at least ignoring God, if not outright denying God in their lives.

In the more developed countries, where we also see the most blatant forms of materialism and consumerism, God is treated more as a Bargain Warehouse Operator, or an Emergency Medical Service Provider.  In the former case, whenever we have a need (whether it is a felt need or a real need) we turn to God and ask (perhaps demand) God for it.  And when God does not provide, we begin inch by inch to turn away from God, and we rely on self-dependence and see God as irrelevant.  Or in the latter case. when a crisis of any kind come upon us (physical, medical, financial, marital, etc.) we cry out to God demanding, begging, pleading with Him to do something.  But when the situation does not resolve itself the way we think it should, we get angry with God and shake our fist at Him in defiance, and our hearts get hardened to the idea that God could ever be a loving God.

But come back to Hebrews 10 with me and see how the passage concludes.  Verse 30 speaks of a God who knows all things, and He will ultimately judge all things and all people.  If life, circumstances, or especially other people have mistreated you or harmed you in any way, God himself says, “I will avenge.”  We must trust in and wait patiently for His justice.  But better than justice, we can know His grace, for God says in verse 17 with regards to us who believe in Christ and ask forgiveness for our sins, “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.”  And the Hebrew writer gives us this encouragement in verse 23, “…for He who promises is faithful.”

In conclusion, let us not judge God by the circumstances of our lives, which change day by day.  Is God real?  Yes!  Does He answer our prayers?  Yes, though often in ways we did not expect, or necessarily understand at the time.  But let us be careful not to let our hearts become hardened in our attitudes against God.  So often it is not one thing that starts this slide into unbelief and disobedience.  It is a lot of tiny slips, when we tried to control the circumstances of our lives instead of patiently trusting and believing that God could and would work out the situation.  We must believe that He is for us, and not against us.  Or we will find ourselves to have become enemies of God.


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