Satan Is The True Enemy – Pt. 2

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“GOD’S STORY, your story” – Pt. 4

As mentioned two weeks ago, at the end of Max Lucado’s book, “GOD’S STORY, your story“, there are study questions and activities to consider that relate to each chapter.  I invite you to read the book, and look over the entire question and application section.  In my articles, I will usually only pick up on two or three questions and relate them to my own experiences. 

                                          

Chapter 2: When God’s Story Becomes Yours….
YOU KNOW SATAN’S NEXT MOVE

Question #1: This chapter talks about the distractions of “possessions and problems.”  Share with the group the distractions you seem to encounter most — distractions that keep you from engaging the story of God in Scripture.

Most people know that the ministry work I do is Bible translation.  Our family lived out in a remote village in Papua New Guinea for five years.  During that time, I learned the language and culture of the people, and helped to get the Gospel of Mark translated into their language.  Thankfully, I had a basic word list, a grammar paper of the language and some notes on Mark from the man who had started the language project years before we got there.

In light of all the resources I had, it still surprises some people at how long it still took us to finally finish and translate Mark.  The reason is that there is so much more involved than just doing translation when you live out in these remote villages.  The translator before me also built the house we lived in out of hewn and planed timbers from trees in the jungle.  That was nice, but the upkeep seemed to be never ending.  In those five years, I also learned to become a carpenter, a plumber, an electrician, a small engine mechanic, and much more.

I found then that this nice home out in the jungle often became a distraction from what I had come to PNG to do, to give God’s Word to the people who had never had the Bible in their language before.  But I know I spent a lot of time making sure that our own family was safe and secure and comfortable, while all around me the national people were living in small huts made out of jungle material that usually fell down in about five years.  I would not call this a direct scheme of the Devil, but I do have to be honest that my “mansion” was a barrier between me and the people.

Question #2: What kind of personal attacks does the Enemy plot?  How does he attempt to divide people?  Have you seen the Devil at work?  Do you tend to underestimate or overestimate the Devil’s activity?

Let me continue now to give some other background to our life in the village that shows how Satan has been (and still is in places) very active in dividing the people and attacking them with lies that destroy people’s lives.  One legend that is popular in PNG is the creation story.  In this story there are two brothers who either through their positive creative energies, or through their negative battles for supremacy, created the spark of life and the world came into existence.

The story continues with the elder brother leaving the younger brother on this island called PNG.  The older brother was going to go out into the world and discover all the riches and treasures and wisdom that the world contained, while the younger brother was left behind with nothing.   But the legend says that one day the older brother would come back and be reunited with the younger brother and share all the goods (called cargo) and the secrets to obtaining them.

Interestingly, some of the PNG legends end by saying that the older brother, when he came back, was a white-skinned man.  So…imagine what some of the people in the villages around us thought when the translator before me was going to come back after being away for almost ten years and join me in a “return celebration”.  Word went out, and immediately the legend rumours were ignited and it was thought that this other translator and I were finally going to tell the secret to get the “cargo” or material possessions of this world.

    

What’s sad is to realize that many of these people who live in this remote area have seen many “rich white people” come with huge amounts of clothing, food, amazing gadgets and objects with them.  And we never seem to “work” for what we have.  (Sitting at a desk over a laptop all day is work??)  And they never see us use money out in the bush.  We would just ask over our two-way radio for more goods and supplies, and presto, there they were on the next plane.  No wonder they thought we knew the right “magic”.

The end result from our big “celebration day” is that we had a wonderful reunion with our friend who came out to our village.  But none of the villagers received this magic cargo from the skies.  And this produced such heated arguments that it almost started an inter-tribal war.  Thankfully, I had been told what was going on, and I was able to hold an all-evening teaching/preaching time of explaining that these pursuits for material wealth do not come from God.  These evil desires come from Satan.

That is what we need to remember most.  The material objects themselves are not evil, but in Satan’s hands they become so if our focus is twisted to be only pursuing after them, instead of pursuing after a better relationship with our God.  How easy it is to let the things of this world distract us from seeking after our God.  Our true enemy in all of this is Satan.

                                          

[God’s Story, Your Story] Max Lucado.  Copyright [Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2011]  Used by permission.

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2011 in review

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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 11,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Introducing Pioneer Bible Translators

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This is the first article that I will post for 2012. And seeing as we are now into a new year, I thought that it was time to do something new. As many of you know,  I am a Bible translation consultant for Pioneer Bible Translators. In previous articles, I have written about some of the work that is involved in doing Bible translation (see “God’s Work Goes Forward“) and how I had wanted to do this kind of ministry work since I was a teenager (read “God Spoke Through People“). Starting with this article and on each Tuesday throughout this year, I want to share more about PBT and the work being done by all of its missionaries.

The first thing that people often ask me when I say I’m involved in doing Bible translation is, “Oh, are you a missionary with Wycliffe Bible Translators?” This is quite understandable seeing as WBT is the oldest and largest organization in the world dedicated specifically to doing Bible translation. The other organization which is well-known for being involved in worldwide translation, publication and distribution of Scriptures is the United Bible Societies. And within most countries, there is a nationally run Bible Society office.

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Compared to these two Bible translation giants, Pioneer Bible Translators is the little sister organization on the block. I no longer say it is the new group on the block as PBT is now over 35 years old and has had a few second-generation missionaries go back to serve in overseas assignments. And PBT has come a long way since I started working with it seventeen years ago. There were less than 100 career missionaries with PBT in 1995. Now there are more than 325 full-time missionaries.

But back to the question of PBT and Wycliffe, the next most common question I’m asked is, “So what is the difference between the two organizations?” That is a very good question, and I think lying just beneath this question is an unstated one, “Are PBT and Wycliffe in competition with each other, or do they work in cooperation with each other?” It is unfortunate that over the centuries there have been many instances of Christian groups that do not get along with each other or help each other. Thankfully, this is not the case for PBT and Wycliffe.

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During the early ’70s, some of the leaders of WBT were noticing that they were not getting many new missionary recruits from our specific brotherhood of churches, the Christian Churches and Churches of Christ. Some Wycliffe people then got together with some of our church leaders and they formed a group which would go around to our churches and promote Bible translation and seek to recruit new missionaries and gather donations for Wycliffe.  But within a year or so, it became obvious that the best thing was to start a brand new group.

And so Pioneer Bible Translators was formed in 1976. Not as a competitive group to Wycliffe or any other groups involved in Bible translation, but as a partner. In fact, there was at least one Board Member of Wycliffe who for many years was also a long-standing Board Member of PBT. The belief then, and still now today, is that there is so much work to be done in getting God’s Word to every language group of the world that there is more than enough work to be shared around and we need as many groups as possible involved to get it done.

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Within a year of being formed, PBT sent out two brothers and their wives to Papua New Guinea to survey the country and decide where it would be best for PBT to get started. This was not an easy thing to do seeing as PNG has over 800 languages scattered across a rugged and mountainous tropical jungle. The choice was made to focus in on one main province on the north side of the island country.  PBT is currently working there now in about a dozen language, and is responsible for at least another 50 languages.

From that auspicious beginning, PBT has now got missionaries working in West, East and North Africa.  There are a number of projects working in the various parts of Eurasia, mainland Asia and Southeast Asia.  PBT has just started some new Pacific Island projects.  And with the rapid growth we have seen in these past few years (almost doubling in size in 6 years from 185 to 325 missionaries), who knows what new frontiers will be crossed and new projects will be started in the near future.

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As you can probably guess, I am very excited about what God is doing in and through PBT around the world. I have been blessed and very privileged to serve God as a member of PBT in Papua New Guinea, East Africa, the United States and Canada.  And despite my muscle disease, I am still hoping to visit some of the other countries where PBT works.  This will allow me to see first-hand what God is doing in these other countries, and it will allow me to get to know better some of my fellow PBT missionaries.

Until that happens, I learn about the work of these PBT people by reading their regular letters and prayer updates.  And as I read them, I get real excited to hear what God is doing for them in their ministry work.  And that brings me right back to where I started.  As I come across great missionary stories from my PBT colleagues, I am going to pass those stories along here at The Listening Post.  I hope you are as excited as I am to read all these stories.  And as we do, we will have many opportunities to give praise and honor back to God who is the One that all these stories are about.

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