The Practice of Prayer

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“We Believe in Prayer” – Part 4

This is the last article on the series on “Prayer”.  I have been blessed to be able to attend the Sunday School teaching hour at Crossroads Christian Church in Grand Prairie, Texas.  In previous articles, we have covered the topics of “The Power of Prayer“, “The Passion for Prayer“, and “The Purpose of Prayer“.  Now we will try to touch on “The Practice of Prayer“.  Of course we will never be able to completely cover this topic, and we will be fortunate to just mention key ideas here right now.

The lesson for the day came from Matthew 6:5 – 13 which covered what we call today “The Lord’s Prayer”, and also includes the preamble of Jesus just before He uttered what is perhaps the best well-known prayer in the world.  And the Lesson Overview given to us is quite straightforward, “This lesson is to show us what vibrant, effective prayer looks like and how we can deal with the things that hinder our prayers.”

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Here is what we can learn from this passage:

1.  We Need to Pray Privately (vv. 5 – 6)

In these two verses, there is a parallelism that puts two very opposite practice of prayer into sharp contrast.  The ritually religious leaders of that day would have the habit of standing up in public and delivering loud and elegant prayers in the presence of many witnesses.  Even if their prayers were genuine petitions before God, it is clear that their motivation was to be seen in public, and to be considered “highly religious” in the eyes of the average person.

The bottom line for the religious leaders was that they wanted to be seen publicly and so receive the praises of men.  This form of outward religious performance is the very opposite of what God wants from His children.  His desire is that we withdraw from others when we pray to God, because He wants us to put our full attention on the Lord, and not seek approval or admiration from men.  Such people who do that Scripture says they already have received their reward (people’s approval), but we are to seek an intimate relationship with God, and He in turn will bless us here in this life, and also grant eternal life in the next.

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2.  We Need to Pray Effectively (vv. 7 – 8 )

In this next short section, before Jesus tells his disciples how to pray, He first reminds them of how not to pray.  Jesus says that we are not to babble when we pray to God.  The picture here is that when “pagans” (unbelievers) pray, they continuously mumble repetitive prayers to God in the false believe that if we pray the same stuff endlessly to God, then surely He will hear our many prayers and He will have to answer.

In effect though, these people are trying to manipulate God and believe that God will eventually give in to whatever they want.  In contrast to this, Jesus tells the disciples that God already knows what our needs are.  And in fact, Jesus says that God already knows what we need even before we ask Him.  Remember, God is omniscient, and He is motivated by love.  Part of the purpose of prayer is to recognize our needs and our true dependence upon God.  That is often the time that God pours out His richest blessings to us, when we are humble, obedient servants who bow to His authority.

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3.  We Need to Pray Specifically(vv. 9 -13)

In this model prayer, which we call “The Lord’s Prayer”, Jesus shows how we can have an intimate time to talk with our Father.  But he clearly demonstrates for us that we need to be very specific in our prayers.  We can’t be like our little children who often start out a prayer life by simply uttering a catalogue of names and events and then asking God to “bless them”.  No, we need to be carefully and specifically mindful of what we are actually saying when we repeat the Lord’s Prayer:

  • Person: we must always remember to whom we are praying.  But also rejoice that even as we pray to God, we can call Him and pray to Him in the intimate of ways by saying, “Our Father…”
  • Perspective:  when we say “who is in Heaven; Hallowed be His name”, we perceive ourselves more accurately that we are just the creation, but He is pure and holy Creator God.
  • Presence: above all else, we want His Kingdom to come, for Scripture tells us in the book of Revelation that when Christ comes next time, it will be an everlasting presence of God among us.
  • Purpose:  But considering that not all things are rightly in tune with the Father here on earth, then is should be our passion to seek for people to come to God and follow Him and His ways.
  • Provision:  It is finally at this point, when we recognize and honor God and seek to help establish God’s kingdom here, then we have the right to come and ask God to meet our daily needs.
  • Pardon:  And the key to all of the above is that God forgave us our sins and allowed us to have a relationship with Him.  And in like manner, we are to pass on this forgiveness to all others.
  • Protection:  Then finally, we must pray for God to help us and protect us in the spiritual battle that we are engaged in with the author of our sin and our greatest enemy, Satan.
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This is quite the awesome prayer, isn’t it?  What’s truly amazing is how simple this prayer is in reality.  But I challenge you to follow the pattern of this prayer and to practice it, in the quiet part of your home and life, and see if you might just discover that the God of Miracles, and the God of Great Power is in fact still present with us today.  We simply need to unleash Him through our reverent and faithful prayers.
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Humbled By God

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Who Am I?  Part 16

The last “Who Am I?” article left off with Jill and the boys in Prince Edward Island (PEI), while I closed out my time of ministry in the Manitoba church.  Even though in my heart I did not believe that I was a failure, it still felt like I was one as I drove the U-Haul truck alone across Canada while pulling our car behind on a trailer bed.  I had experienced two poor church ministries in a row, and now I was heading east to no job, and an unclear future with respects to ministry or mission work.

Mile after mile I contemplated what had gone wrong, and what could have been done differently.  Things didn’t look good, and so I also wondered what else might go wrong.  Well, let me tell you.  In the early evening while driving alone on an empty highway in northern Ontario, I looked back in my side mirror and all of a sudden I saw flames coming out of the right side tire of the trailer.  I immediately pulled over and saw nothing except some loose sand to throw at the fire.

Somehow the brake on the trailer tire had seized up and I had been driving for miles with a locked tire without knowing it.  The rubber burst into flames and I stood there helplessly as I saw the tongues of the fire start to go up towards my car on top of the trailer bed.  YIKES!!  And wouldn’t you know it, a car came around the bend and it “just happened” to be a Forest Ranger in his jeep.  He put out the fire with his extinguisher and was able to help me change the tire and unlock the seized brake.  (Needless to say I got a new trailer from U-Haul at the next town.

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That was the most exciting thing that happened along the way, so I won’t bore you with the details of getting a leak in my truck radiator in New Brunswick, or how I had to stop every 10 miles or so to top up the rad, and that part of that required me to keep going down the steep road side ditch to fill my 2 Liter Coke bottle with the trickling ditch water.

I think the trip took me 5 days to get to PEI, but it felt like a month of doing hard labor.  In the two months that Jill and the boys had been back in PEI (where almost all of her living relatives were at the time), she had found a job at a senior care home, and the boys had been enrolled in a very good preschool day care.  They had set up a family routine without me, and I wondered at first where I even fit anymore, even within the family.

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I realize now that was my human mind speaking, plus I’m sure the Devil was having a great time dragging me down further and further into depression and self-incrimination.  But God would not have me stay in that place.  We had begun to attend a church there in Charlottetown, and there was a minister (Pastor Terry) who saw me, and us, not as failures in ministry, but as “wounded soldiers”.  He introduced us to the church in that way, and asked them to love us back into good spiritual health.

What a gift that church and that minister were to me and my family.  But I wanted to do my part of paying our monthly expenses, and so I asked God to guide me into a good job that could provide for us financially.  A possible Associate Pastor position came open, but God (through Pastor Terry) let me know I was not ready yet.  I tried to get other jobs that sounded good, and paid well, but nothing came of them either.

What God did provide in the end was definitely not something I would have chosen normally.  But the only job I could get at the time, was to be a general “clean-up boy” for a construction company doing renovations to a condo building.  At first, my pride got in the way as I felt embarrassed to tell people what I was doing.  But then I slowly came to realize that there were some real blessings to doing this job.

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In my youth, somehow I had picked up the work ethics of 1) work hard, and 2) work diligently to please your employer, and go the extra mile if that is what is necessary to get the job done well.  After about a month of cleaning up the rubbish when the construction people were done, my employer had noticed how good a job I was doing and he gave me a raise.  In fact, in the 10 months I worked with him, he gave me four pay raises.

This helped tremendously to provide for our family.  But there was an even better blessing that came to me.  The boss came to trust my work so much, that he gave me a number of tough final cleaning jobs like stripping and rewaxing 18 stairwells by hand while crawling up and down the stairs on your knees.  That job alone took six months to do.  But the new fast equipment could not do the same kind of job a person could do by hand alone.

And it was during these six months of crawling up and down stairs on my knees, that I was able to spend time alone in prayer with God.  I literally was on my knees before God.  And He spoke to me through this period about the importance of being a person of humility and integrity.  These were qualities I had not learned well before, or during my previous ministry positions.

How I thank God now that He truly humbled me during that year off from ministry work.  And by the time I was finished being the building janitor and clean-up boy, God was ready to send us forward into the next phase of our Christian lives and our ministry experiences.  Stay tuned, there are lots of good stories ahead.

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Walk With God – Part 2

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Go At God’s Pace – Part 2

Two weeks ago, I wrote about how wonderful it must have been for some of the earliest mentioned people in Scripture to be able to walk with God.  I can just about imagine how awestruck and cautious these people would have been in the presence of the Almighty.  There would have been no need to rush around and be busy doing something, for the most important thing that mattered was to simply “be”, to be with God and experience His glory and majesty, and simply exist in a pure and loving relationship with God.

Oh, that would have been glorious to walk with God as Enoch did, or to talk face-to-face with God as Moses did, or to experience the dazzling glory of Christ as Peter, James and John did when Jesus was transfigured on top of the mountain.  But instead, for most of us, life seems to be a busy rat-race of existence which often seems to throw us curve balls that keep us in the valley of “hard-road” life.

It is at this point that our author, Mark Atteberry, shares some profound wisdom.  (We are going through a book study on “Walking With God on the Road You Never Wanted to Travel“.)  In an age where everything seems to be based on speed and being busy, Atteberry talks about the importance of slowing down and “walking” with God.

Our author gives us three good principles on slowing down, or as he entitled chapter seven, “Go At God’s Pace“.  This has got to be in my estimation one of the most difficult things for us as Christians to do.  Our society today is quite literally based on instant results.  Whether it is your boss demanding something to be done in a ridiculously short time (because your company, or at least your job, will be in jeopardy) or it is the fast-food-solution at the end of the day.  We have learned to live with the pressure of the “NOW”.

Instead of living like that, consider Atteberry’s first principle: Reflect on life’s lessons regarding the importance of slowing down.  We all know from our earliest school years up through into adulthood the consequences of going too fast on something and reaping bad results, even disastrous ones.  I can think of something as simple as a math test in elementary school where I rushed to beat the time of a friend of mine, but when the grades came back, I had made more mistakes than him.  I can also think of some missionary friends that thought they were ready for the field, but had not prepared themselves for life on the field.  Sad to say, they did not last very long on the mission field.

Another easy picture to bring this point home is that we all know that if we go over the speed limit we run the risk of getting a speeding ticket.  But is those four extra minutes saved really worth it?  I remember the time I was a school bus driver and at a red light I was revving my engine in fun to beat my friend in his bus.  By God’s grace I sensed in the last split second when the light went green that my friend hesitated and a huge panel truck went through the red light and could have killed me.  It’s not worth it.

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The second principle in this chapter is this: Slowing down will be easier if you remember what you have been called to do.  Atteberry quotes an excellent Scripture verse on page 90 from Micah 6:8, “This is what the Lord requires: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” (He places the emphasis on the three italicized words.)

In this verse, it may not be too difficult to convince people in general to do the first two requirements.  Doing what is right and being kind to our neighbor, isn’t that a lot like “keeping the Ten Commandments”?  Well, yes, in part.  Following the Ten Commandments and being kind is certainly a good thing to do, and which many people do try to do, but that is not how to enter into and maintain a living relationship with God.

No, to truly have a relationship with God, we must place ourselves under His authority.  He is to be Lord of our lives.  So we should not try to run ahead of God.  At the same time, God loved us enough to let His Son die for us to provide forgiveness of our sins, and since Jesus calls us His brothers and God has adopted us to be our Father, then we are to walk with Him, beside Him.  We are not wretched slaves dragged behind God, but children who walk humbly beside Him, thankful for His love and mercy.

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The last principle in this chapter is: Slowing down will be easier if you reject the counsel of people who urge you to hurry up.  We need to be very careful when it comes to taking the advice of others or following their example.  One of our famous quotes as parents to our children when one of them did something foolish that a friend of theirs had suggested or done was to say, “And if he had jumped off a cliff, would you have done that too?”

Advice is something that is easy and cheap to give out.  But do we always take the time to weigh out the advice, or allow enough time to pass to let God get things done for us when the timing is right?  Atteberry offers us good counsel on this point, “Remember that the decision you make will probably not affect the people who are so freely offering you advice.  But it could profoundly affect you, possibly for years to come.”

And so dear friends, please take the time to slow down at least a small part of your life and humbly seek your God and allow Him the opportunity to show you the right way to come through whatever is your hard-road experience.  You will be amazed at the answers that God has in store for you.

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Persevering With God’s Help

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The following devotion comes from my friend, Pastor Jim

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I am sitting at the desk in the office when the noise makes me jump. I should be used to the familiar “pop” on the window, but I am not. Another bird has collided with the window glass.  I wonder what it must be like to be flying along and all of a sudden the world ahead of you slaps you in the face.  It looks like the path ahead is clear, but just when we begin to think it is smooth sailing, “POP”!  We are knocked to the ground.

I do not have to wonder very long before I realize that so many of us know what that experience is like.  As Christians, we often face trials, but as James 1:2-4 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

These trials may be tests of God, the work of Satan, or just life. These have the potential to make us better individuals.  We add fertilizer to our fields and gardens so we may yield a better product. Our suffering is like fertilizer – it feels horrible, smells terrible, and we cannot wait to wash it off.  [NW – as a city person, this sounds disgusting, but I know from talking to farmers and those who grow plants and small back yard gardens, that this is true.] 

I remember the very first time I sat on top of a horse.  I was in second grade and needed my dad’s help climbing into the saddle.  Her name has escaped my memory, but I remember she was beautiful and, in the mind of a young boy, she was huge.  I sat in wide-eyed wonderment as she took a couple of steps.  I was unsure of my place in the saddle, but then she took a couple more gentle steps and the thrill of riding hit me.  I have not had another opportunity to ride since that summer, but the memories of it are still in the forefront of my mind.

The term meek has been a difficult word for me to grasp, but I can now relate it to a broken horse; power and strong will that are directed for a purpose.  When we face stressors and crises, we do not have to feel like we are alone and spiraling out of control as we attempt to fight our situation using only our own strength.  When we are meek, we realize that God is in control.

When we humbly decide to take our place in His plan, then we too will be placed among the meek.  We can be pillars of example to the world as we overcome our difficulties by the grace of God, and not our own strength.  These words are easier to write than live.  I pray my will and strength are like that gentle horse I rode as a child.  May I be meek, focused, and reliant on God.

As we grab a hold of the reins of Christianity, we cannot help but realize we do not always understand God.  How can we?  As finite beings, we are nothing compared to His infinity.  If we can remember to simply pray that we do not lose any of the benefits of our trials, then we will grow.  We will become better apprentices of Christ with a better grasp on the reality of our station in life.  But, equally as important, we will become better examples to the world.

Sympathy and empathy are powerful tools to be used to nurture others.  If we do not persevere through our suffering, not only do we lose out on an opportunity for growth, but so do the people around us.  When I pray for others, I ask above all else that God be glorified through the situation.  May His will not be lost as He carries us through our trials.  May we recognize the situation as belonging to Him – being under His magnificent power – and use it for His glory and honor.

One of God’s many ministers,

Jim

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In this devotional thought, Jim provides us with two very good illustrations.  What I gained from this was that our lives can be hardened and unproductive (or meaningless) unless we allow the Farmer (whom I take to be God) to break up the hardened soil, and even allow Him to use the difficulties and trials of life to be sprinkled (fertilized) into our lives, so that our lives will be able to produce a harvest of good fruit.

The second illustration talks about us riding through life, as on the back of a horse.  If we try to pull hard on the reins of our lives, or try to force our animal (our lives) to be directed by our own brute force, we are more than likely to end up galloping off in the wrong direction, or worse, we are dumped onto the ground and our lives end up quite ruined and possibly seriously injured.

No, what we must do is to give the reins of our lives over to Jesus, submit to His Lordship, and He will tame the wild animal of life that we ride on and through His power and divine direction and providence, we find ourselves being led to the place of security, rest and spiritual nutrition.  As Jim mentions above, that takes a spirit of true humility, meekness and trust.  But know this, our God will never fail to give us what we need, if we entrust ourselves wholly to Him.

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A Disciple For Jesus

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Who Am I? Part 7

In the last article in this series, I talked about the year I spent traveling with the 1980 Staff Travel Team of Teen Missions.  That year was a very formative year for me as a young Christian, and I am so thankful to God that He allowed me to have those incredible experiences.  My faith was challenged and rewarded in so many ways, there has never been any doubt in my mind ever since then of the existence and the goodness of God.

There were also many opportunities for me to share the good news about Jesus: speaking with people in all the churches we visited, teaching the teens during our weekly classes which were a part of the summer mission, visiting local churches in the hills of Honduras, and having regular devotional periods with the others who were a part of the Travel Team.

In all of these experiences, I came to know and be certain of the basic truths of the Gospel, such as God created and loved all of mankind, but mankind rebelled against God and rejected Him.  This resulted in mankind being eternally separated from God by our sins because He is a holy God and cannot allow anyone tainted by sin to be in His presence.  But thanks be to God, His only Son Jesus came to earth as a man, lived a perfect sinless life, yet died on a cross and so gave His life in exchange for ours.  This opened the way for us to be purified and once more come into a fellowship relationship with God.

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As wonderful as all of this was during that year, I found that there was something missing in my life.  I knew my Lord and Savior, Jesus, but at the same time I realized that there was so much about Him, and the Word of God, that I didn’t know.  I had some incredible experiential knowledge about Christ and the Holy Spirit of power, but I did not have a deep knowledge about all the truths about God and what the Bible says and means.

It was because of this great lack of knowledge that I found I had a strong desire to attend Bible college.  Part of me said that I was quite capable of reading my Bible and doing my own study of Scripture.  But another part of me realized that I would be foolish to think I could do it all on my own, and that I ought to take advantage of the knowledge of skilled Bible teachers.

And so it was within days after coming home from Scotland, the last place that our Travel Team had its ministry, that I enrolled in Alberta Bible College.  This is a college that is a part of the same Christian heritage that I was a part of, and the wonderful thing was that it was also in Calgary, my home town.  Actually, it was on the same street as my parents house, one mile away.  What a wonderful blessing that was for me.

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And so in January 1981, I became a Bible college student.  At first, my thought was that I would just take one year of college, just so I could get a little more knowledgeable in the Scriptures.  And I must say that I did not have the best attitude toward the other students, and even some of the professors back then.  You see, I had “been to the mission field”, and so I “knew” what missions and ministry was all about.  That was my first year.

The second year came and went and I don’t know if my ego had learned much more in the area of humility.  In fact I must admit that I was rather proud that I was at the head of the class.  I had mastered the art of being a student.  But in spiritual terms, I don’t know if I had really learned a lot about being a “disciple” for Jesus.

The way that I viewed life at that time was this: I am a student, and if I work hard and study well for exams, I will “ace” the material and come out on top.  Even though I was studying the Bible, I was not getting the message that “The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”  (Matthew 23:11-12)

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It wasn’t until my third and fourth year of Bible college that I started to understand that followers of Jesus are meant to “serve each other out of love”, and that ministers of the Gospel are to offer their lives of service as a sacrifice out of a willing and humble heart.  We are not meant to think of ourselves as better than any one else, or that others “owe” us anything as we serve them.  As Jesus says, “Freely you have received, freely give.”  (Matthew 10:8)

So I think it would have been so much better for me, and others, if back then I had thought of myself as a “disciple for Jesus” rather than a “Bible college student”.  The latter seems to inherently carry the idea of knowledge, prestige, self-sufficiency.  But being a disciple of Jesus speaks more about simply being a humble, obedient learner who remains under Christ.

I can’t say I have yet completely learned this lesson.  But that’s the beauty of it.  God has never asks us to be perfect in this life.  Quite the opposite.  We are called to live a life of simple, humble obedience that is a life-long process.  In that sense, I am still a student in the spiritual classroom of Jesus.

How about you?  Do you feel you have “graduated” and learned all there is to learn about God?  Or are you allowing yourself to still remain under the supervision of Christ and are looking forward to His next lesson in His School of Life?  May we all remain good disciples for Jesus.

Pray For “My Brain”

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Who Am I?  Part 4:  Apology

I received some helpful feedback from one of my readers about the article I just posted on Feb. 19th.  I went back and read my article and noticed that if taken by itself, it could come across as being rather egotistical.  Someone could read this and think, “Gee, this person sounds pretty arrogant.”  Now I will admit that I used to be an arrogant person, but I don’t believe that is true anymore today, and I really don’t want any of you to think this about me.

Now I believe that the basic facts are there in the stories.  One thing I didn’t tell you was that because of me, my Grade 5 teacher had to put a lock on the cabinet for the extra homework sheets.  : )  But I did not include those stories just so people could “ohhh”  and “ahhh” at me and praise me for how smart I was.  There are two main reasons why I included that article in my blog site, and I want to make sure that these two points are clear.

First of all, with encouragement from my wife and others, I began last November to write out “my story”.  So the last article about my achievements is simply one part of a larger life story.  And within the context of my life, there was a time that I pushed myself to be a high achiever and was proud of myself when I got those results.  But God has been at work in my heart for a long time now to be more humble in nature, and to give the credit and honour for achievement back to the Lord.

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Secondly, I am looking at my life now with the advantage of hindsight.  As a young man, I thought that I could go out and conquer the world, just like most other young people.  And I especially thought at that time what a great thing it was that God had blessed me with a sharp mind.  But now in the later part of my life I am seeing this blessing from a completely new angle.  The muscle disease which has reshaped my life in so many ways has now shown me how gracious God has been to me.

God, who knows all things in advance of when things will occur, He had it in mind all along that I would be engaged in this ministry work of Bible translation.  He also knew that I would be hit with this Muscular Myopathy in 2008.  Since then, almost all of my major muscles, but primarily my legs, have been affected and have lost significant energy and strength.  Thankfully my major internal organs have not been affected at this point.  And for the most part, I think I can say that my brain has not been too affected either.

And yet, there are times now that I seem to struggle to keep my attention or focus on a task, and after a few hours of doing translation, I find my body and mind can become quite tired.  Then I need to rest for an hour or so to get the energy to keep going with the checking sessions.  And so I have wondered at times, what would I be like if my mind had not been as strong and as sharp as what God had given to me?  Would I have been able to continue doing Bible translation work?

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But God has been very gracious to me.  My heart’s desire ever since I was a teenager was to be a Bible translator.  It took quite a while before I finally got to the field, but from 1997-2002 our family was able to live in a remote village of Papua New Guinea to learn the language and start translating Scripture into their language.  For a family medical reason, we had to leave the field and be in Canada until 2005.  Then we spent a year and a half in Africa helping one of our field branches doing administrative support work.  So finally I was ready to start doing more translation work in PNG by 2007.  I got the training to be a translation consultant, and then my disease hit in 2008.

For three years now I have been struggling with the physical limitations of this disease.  And there were many moments when I wondered if my work for the Lord was over.  But with Jill’s help, and the support of many others, God has been revealing quite clearly to me that He is not finished with me yet and is still able to use me in this important area of translation checking.  And I am so thankful that it is for the most part a task that requires mental energy and not too much physical energy.

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So God in His wisdom gave me a good mind, not so that I would have something to boast about, but He did this in preparation for this time when I would need to have a clear mind to do His work.  In another article I will tell you all that is involved in doing Bible translation consultant work.  But suffice it to say, there are many times when I need to be able to think and talk about Scripture in at least three, and sometimes four different languages.

So just like Paul says, “our bodies are wasting away”, so I am learning to live with a disease which is limiting me in the physical realm.  But while I am still able to and God gives me the strength, I will commit my body to do the work of God, but even more so I will commit my mind to doing the Lord’s work.  My request is that you would all pray along with me that God would heal my body.  But if not, pray even more so that God would protect my mind so that I can continue doing this work for Him for many more years.

God Gave Me This Mind

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Who Am I?  Part 4

Until very recently, it seemed to me (and to others) that I was always in school studying something.  You could say that I was one of those “perpetual students”.  Now that I am more mature (i.e. I am past middle age and heading toward the next category), I am quite content to engage in the work the Lord has given to me to do and not to be too concerned about trying to reach one more academic achievement.

But for most of my earlier years of study, I was always pushing myself to get the highest possible grades.  I would not let myself be satisfied for anything less than an A if it were possible.  I don’t think that I felt any parental pressure to have to be such a high achiever.  And even though there were always one or two others at the top of the class to compete with, it was never done out of rivalry or spite.  It was simply fun to feel we were in a race that ultimately we all won (i.e. being A+ students).

In fact, I viewed school from the very beginning as something “fun” to do.  When I finished my homework assignment ahead of time in class, I often went up and asked the teacher for more homework.  Why?  Because it came to me easily and so it was always fun to find the right answers.

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One slightly embarrassing story comes from when I was in Grave Five.  Math back then, and through all the school years, was my favorite subject. The teacher would hand out new math problem sheets for us to work on in class, and then take home if we didn’t finish them.  Well, you can probably guess the first part.  I almost always finished the sheets before the end of the class session.

So what was a boy like me to do?  Well….from my perspective, I did the most logical thing, considering how much I loved to do math problems.  The next period after Math was Recess, and all the students and teachers would go out of the school and would be out on the playground area.  Yes, you guessed it.  As soon as the teacher lest the room, I went over to the cupboard with math supplies and helped myself to as many as I could.

Now stop for a minute.  I do not want you to think that there was some dark criminal side to me or that I was going to try to steal the answers before an exam.  Or that I would pass on the sheets I found and market them on the black market to other under achieving students.  No, my whole purpose in stealing the math sheets was simply because I loved math, and I felt the teacher had not given to me a challenge that was big enough for me.

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A similar situation arose for me in Grade Nine, the final year for our Junior High School (or Middle School).  Again, the situation happened in the Math Class.  We would be given homework which we could start in class and then finish at home.  But for me, I almost always finished the work in class and still had spare time on my hands.

It was at that point that I has some options as to what I could do about this situation.  And the teacher tried his best to help me grow in my skills in math.  He decided to let me go ahead and start into a Grade Ten Calculus and Trigonometry course book that I would basically teach myself in the subject.  And yet I still finished the material too fast and did what most young boys did back then.

I began to socialize with others (especially with the girls) and got into great conversations, told jokes back and forth that were quite funny, and generally was a grand distraction to the class. Finally, out of exasperation, the Math Teacher had to yell out in class as me, “Weatherhead!  I don’t care if you read a book in my class, or go to sleep on your desk.  I don’t care if you come early to class or late to class.  But I do care about the fact that you are constantly distracting my other students.  Do whatever you want, but just leave my students alone.”

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Well, Grade Ten was not must better for me, as I kept catching on so fast to all the materials of all my subjects.  The Social Studies teacher finally suggested that I don’t come to class, but instead go find the biggest library in Calgary and spend study time there for 10 weeks.  So once I got her permission on the topic, I went out to research it and came back in 10 weeks to do an oral report on what I had studied.  And that is what I did.  I holed up in the underground “Special Collection Archives” of the Calgary Main Library and made a report on the early explorers who opened up Canada, like the Voyageurs.   Pretty cool, eh?

Finally, in Grade Ten, I was recommended to attend an experimental school in Calgary.  It was an independent studies program.  You signed yourself into the school each morning, and then you decided which topic you wanted to study for the day and went to that dept and worked on course modules.  I really excelled there and sped through the material so that I did Grade Eleven & Twelve in less than a year and a half.

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In addition to all this, I made application for and was awarded four major scholarships to University.  Two small grants were from the Alberta Govt, one was from the University, and the biggest one was the four-year tuition grant from Texaco, Canada where my father was an accountant.  Only 5 of these scholarships go out each year, and I was presented with one of them.

So what do I think about all this, now 30 years later.  All I want to say is what Job said who put it this way, “Who endowed the heart with wisdom or gave understanding to the mind?”  The obvious answer is: God!  He is the One who made each of us who we are today.  As for my part, I say to God, “Thank you God for giving to me this mind.  Now I give it back in service to you by doing this work of Bible Translation consultant checking.”

And so I end this article with a sense of humility and praise to God for how He made my brain.  I offer it back to Him now in my service to Him.  May He in all things be given the honor and the praise.

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