Tuesday, December 23, 2014

homesick at Christmas

 Christmas is a time when you get homesick - even when you're home. 
 ~Carol Nelson

As overseas missionaries, we did find ourselves homesick at Christmas, missing the special events of the season, missing our families and friends.  But being back in the US this year, it's pretty obvious that it's not just those who are far away from home who feel this Christmas homesickness.  Maybe every human feels a little nostalgia, a longing for what used to be, or for what never was; the ideal Christmases of our youth, or of our children's youth.

Maybe that longing echoes a greater homesickness that we share in common; not for a moment in time, or for a warm hearth, but for our eternal home.  A homesickness for glory, for our beautiful Savior, for the peace and sinless perfection of our REAL home.

Sometimes storm clouds block our view of Home. Tossed and flurried, eyes on the waves and the upheaval in life, whether it’s political strife, or negative attitudes, or more laundry on top of more appointments, or sickness, I forget about HOME and about seeing Jesus, and about the cross that paved our way there. But HOME is no less real because of the distractions.

And the One Who slept in the manger in Bethlehem, who spoke peace to the waves, who hung on that cross and lives again is preparing a place there for us. One of these days we’ll be going Home.

"In My Father's house are many dwelling places;
 if it were not so, I would have told you; 
for I go to prepare a place for you...” 
 John 14:2

This Christmas, we can look with faith toward that Homecoming, when we will see our Emmanuel face to face.  Until that day, may we be ever ready to share His Word which illumines the path Homeward.

*edited from the archives

Friday, December 19, 2014

all quiet on the home front

Life in the U.S. is just not as exciting to blog about.
We see many of you on a regular basis, and you know what we're up to and how we're doing!

But for those of you who are going through withdrawal from more details,
the following is for you.

Elise and Amy have completed their first semester at college.  
They've worked hard, made friends,
and assimilated into a student body of 20,000 pretty smoothly
for a couple of MKs*.
(*MKs - missionary kids)
Amy and Elise pose in front of their dorm building with Mark's mom who honored us with a visit
They are pretty happy to be on break, but are already buying books for next sem.
Michael's finished his first semester of high school,
and has been using his extra time to play some disc golf,
learn archery, 
and cut into new foam board
to create small r/c planes perfect for the front yard.

Mark and Michael do a Saturday airplane build together

Michael flies his Mini Scout in the front yard
December in Georgia means that it's cotton-pickin' time.

I had never seen fields and bales of cotton before coming to Georgia!
  It also means that it's time to put up some Christmas lights,

Michael does the high parts for Mark who doesn't like heights...
 ...and to bake Christmas treats.

Time for family ping-pong tournaments...
  (with thanks to Sunju for the perfect-sized dining room table, 
and to A&J for the removable ping pong net!)

Though it's been a busy season for Mark in his work,

it's been a delight to hear the voices of all our kids laughing together again,
and to see Amy and Elise have the time to read
and practice driving, and exercise creativity.

And now it's almost time for Christmas...
for a remembrance of the coming of our Savior,

and a reminder to come and adore Him,
for He alone is worthy!

photo thanks to Kay Heritage ♥
We wish you all a season of joy!

Good news from heaven the angels bring,
Glad tidings to the earth they sing:
To us this day a child is given,
To crown us with the joy of heaven.

~ Martin Luther

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

moonlight shadows

photo courtesy Seed Company

'I feel that I have spent my life seeing the Bible by moonlight--
as if seeing the shapes and shadows of things, 
but not the details of what is really there. 
Now it is as if someone has turned a huge spotlight on the Scriptures. 
For the first time in my life 
I can see clearly what is in the Bible.'

-new recipient of God's Word in his own heart language

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

a different sort of thanksgiving prayer...

"O God, when I have food, 
help me to remember the hungry;

When I have work, 
help me to remember the jobless;

When I have a home, 
help me to remember those who have no home at all;

When I am without pain, 
help me to remember those who suffer,

And remembering, help me to destroy my complacency; 
 bestir my compassion, and be concerned enough to help, 
 by word and deed, 
those who cry out for what we take for granted. 

A Thanksgiving Prayer by Samuel F. Pugh

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

but not Isaiah

I opened my computer one morning and started up a translation program I use to produce Scripture resource materials for the *Na people, a minority language group in a South East Asian country.  I chose a familiar memory verse to go with the story of Christ’s birth from Isaiah’s 9th chapter:

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder...

I typed in the reference, ready to copy the verse from the Na version into my document.   
Instead, four chilling words punctured an otherwise blank screen.   

Book does not exist.

I sat stunned as it sank in that the book of Isaiah does not exist in the Na language.   

In 2011 our family lived for a week in a Na village.  

 The Na people  shared their homes with us, cooked for us, worshiped together with us in their local church, produced their very first VBS with us, and laughed with us at our feeble attempts to speak their unfamiliar language.   

They have the entire New Testament,  the translation of Genesis is complete,
 and Exodus and Daniel are now being printed.   

But not Isaiah.   

And there’s still no Micah or Deuteronomy.  
 No Nehemiah or Kings.  
 Most of the Old Testament is still a closed book to them.  

The Na people do not know, they have not heard, that the Creator of the ends of the earth does not grow weary, or that to those who have no might He increases strength.  (Is 40:28-29) 

They’ve never heard the majestic Messianic prophecies from Isaiah 53, of the man of sorrows, acquainted with grief, the one on whom was laid the iniquity of us all.   

Though their righteous deeds are like filthy rags (Is 64:6) they don’t know to ‘come now and reason together’ to be washed whiter than snow (Is 1:18).  

I’ve begun reading Isaiah again with deeper gratitude than ever before.   I’m also all the more thankful for the faithful partnership so many of you have shared with us as we, in our new roles in missions, support translators who work to erase those terrible words,  

Book does not exist.  

Together let’s make God’s Word known in every language so that every tribe, every tongue may know the One who came as ‘a light for the nations,’ that His salvation ‘may reach to the end of the earth!’  (Isaiah 49:6)

“The grass withers, the flower fades, 
but the word of our God will stand forever.” 
Isaiah 40:8

*Na is a pseudonym for security reasons.

**Note: Traditionally Bible translators have focused on translating the New Testament first, but there’s a growing appreciation for the importance of Old Testament Scripture in understanding the Gospel.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

better than diamonds

Isko wakes while it's dark, and paddles out to sea 
where he gathers his morning catch of fish to sell at the market.  

On top of his basket of fresh fish, 
Isko places a packet, 
meticulously wrapped in plastic 
to protect it from the oils and smells of his catch.  

After laying out his wares in the market area, he sits back to wait for customers.  
And as he waits, he unwraps his packet, 
revealing a newly completed New Testament in Isko's native language 
which he eagerly reads during lulls in business. 

 "It's more precious than diamonds," Isko says.

 More to be desired are they than gold, 
even much fine gold
Psalm 19:10

*Isko is from the "E" people of S.E. Asia 

Monday, October 27, 2014

long ago and far away...

Long ago, on an island far away, a man named John wanted to be able to read God's Word in the language he knew best. It troubled him that other Christians could not read it at all; that only very educated men could read the Bible in the elite Latin tongue. John recognized that false teaching and theology were rampant in the church, and realized that the ignorance of the common people was causing serious problems for the Christian faith. 

Even though John’s own language was considered inferior and vulgar, John firmly believed that the Word of God, as the only norm for Christian faith, should be accessible to the poor and less educated people as well. The religious men of the day labelled John as a rebel, as he and like-minded friends translated the Bible into the language that we now call English around 1384.

"Englishmen learn Christ's law best in English.
Moses heard God's law in his own tongue;
so did Christ's apostles."
-John Wycliffe

Aren’t you thankful that John Wycliffe was willing to brave public opinion in order to translate the Bible into our language?  Can you imagine only hearing the Word of God in Latin from the pulpit each Sunday morning, waiting for someone more educated to explain its meaning to you?

Today, more than 600 years since John gave us the Bible in English, 
there are still over a billion Bibleless people.  

 Stop and think about that.  

 One billion people who have yet to read God’s Word in their own language,  
or to learn for themselves the truth of the Bible as the only rule for Christian faith.

May we be faithful not only to share the Gospel, the saving knowledge of Christ with the world, but the whole counsel of His Word, the only means by which the church will grow in faith and obedience!

"Christ and His apostles taught the people
in the language best known to them...
believers should have the Scriptures
in a language which they fully understand."
- John Wycliffe