Today our youngest daughter, Brynna, had her baby, Braelynn Serenity Beach, our second grandchild. Pictures will follow.
Our second-oldest, Meghan, her husband Jon and their son Daniel will be joining us in less than a month, on their summer break from teaching English in China. They will need a vehicle to use in Central Florida. Let us know if you’d like to help with that.
Our youngest, our son Evan, is again living with us and looking for a job. Please pray for him to find one.
My first book, The House in the Old Wood, is out in paperback and for Kindle. Find out more.
I’ve had the privilege of being a writer and editor ever since I got out of college.
I’ve written everything from poetry to newspaper, magazine and website articles. I’ve written booklets and letters and a slew of other stuff.
But there’s something altogether different about writing a novel. And now I’ve done that, the first of five novels in a series.
Shame showed on Mesari’s face as she read 1 Timothy 6:6-8: Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.
Mesari, who is helping Elli Schlegel translate 1 Timothy into her language, said, “Yes, that is true. When we have food and clothes, what else do we need? We have God, our Savior. He is everything we need to live and die!”
Mesari had just walked farther than usual to help with translation. Her family home’s roof leaked so badly they had to move farther away. She wore the same ripped shirt she had worn for weeks, and her skirt was patched. She’d eaten sweet potatoes for breakfast before coming to help, and when she got home she’d eat sweet potatoes for dinner. The menu for the next day, and the next, and on and on, was the same. Sweet potatoes.
Her focus is not on what she does not have, but on the fact that she has everything she needs in her Savior.
In a culture that bombards us with messages about what we “need,” it’s easy to forget …
- We have everything we need in Jesus.
- Having Him, we should be content with food and clothing.
I can’t say it better than Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit:
Godliness with contentment is great gain.
I am so glad I had a migraine last week.
Because I had a migraine, I was home Friday morning when Julie felt an increase in pressure in her chest and an irregular heartbeat, and was able to take her to the emergency room. After 24 hours of observation, they still aren’t certain what is going on, so she’ll be headed to the doctor soon to see what we need to do.
Probably just as important, it reinforced for me that I need to live like it’s Sunday, even though it’s still Saturday.
Saturday, Jesus was in the tomb and the disciples were hiding, fearful, confused. Easter Sunday was when the disciples saw Jesus face-to-face. It was the day things made a lot more sense. It was a day of hope and joy.
Certainly, we know Jesus has risen, but in a sense it’s still Saturday for you and me. We live in a fallen world. A place where stuff sometimes doesn’t make a lot of sense to us. A place of fear and confusion.
But that’s not how we’re supposed to live. We know Sunday is coming. We know we have a hope and a future, and we’re supposed to live like it’s Sunday.
So instead of fretting that we still aren’t sure what’s wrong with Julie, I’ll choose to be glad that so far all her tests are coming back good.
I’m not going to worry (OK, really, I’m going to have to work at not worrying) about how we’re going to afford a deductible and co-pay of $2,700 – more than double what we have to live on each month. I’ll choose to thank God that we have insurance that covers the rest, and have $200 provided so far.
Rather than being concerned that the car we rely on for ministry is small and aging, I’ll be grateful that its known big problems have all been solved and it’s still running and we own it.
I guess we all have a lot of migraines, so to speak, that remind us that it’s still Saturday. It can be hard to even think straight sometimes, harder still to remember that God is orchestrating an entire universe for the good of those who believe – that’s you and me – and for His glory.
Now, don’t spend a lot of time trying to figure out how. It’s enough to give you a migraine. But rejoice in that, and live like it’s Sunday.
I’m hearing great things about what you did in Africa last month.
What’s that? You say you didn’t do anything in Africa? Yes you did! You helped train African believers to establish churches among unreached people groups.
Oh, sorry, I’ve confused you, haven’t I? Let me back up.
Missionaries in Africa had a problem. They wanted to get African believers involved in reaching tribal people who haven’t had an opportunity to hear the gospel. And they had some believers who wanted to get involved. But they needed training.
Here’s how one of those African believers, Jean, put it:
“For several years, my wife, Sylvie, and I have had a burden for unreached peoples. There are many challenges in missions, especially among unreached peoples.
“It is important for us to get more training—particularly from those who are experienced in this work. … NTM, in light of their history and experience, can provide us with the skills we will need.
“Even having a lot of experience working with the church does not prepare me for ministry among unreached peoples. I am struck with the need to be trained before starting work in this context. … This necessitates taking the training that NTM is offering.”
As NTM missionaries began putting together a pilot training program, they realized they had a problem. They did not have the money they needed to fund it, and charging the African believers the full cost of the training would put it beyond their reach.
So they put together a project to allow others to give so Africans could be trained. I used the information they provided to write up a project for the NTM website and posted it online. So your participation in our ministry helped make that opportunity available.
This was a strategic project, so I also wrote to the folks organizing the training and asked for information on one or more of the participants so we could write a news story to make the project better known. After I got that information, I assigned it one of our writers, then I edited the article she wrote and put it online.
The article was highlighted in our Weekly Digest and Daily Bulletin prayer email newsletters, as well as on NTM’s Facebook page and Twitter feed. We also mentioned the project in a follow-up article. Thousands prayed, many gave, and the project was fully funded.
So your participation in our ministry helped NTM to publicize the project so people were able to take part.
More than that, your participation in our ministry helped train Africans to establish churches among unreached people groups. Thank you!
So I’d like to ask you to do something for me this week.
Tell someone what you did in Africa. When they give you a funny look, tell them how. Then bring them to our blog and help them subscribe to our newsletter (it’s in a box on the right), or get their email address and send it to us so we can subscribe them.
Please. Not just for us. For God. So that two God-honoring things happen: So God’s people have opportunities to take part in the task He has given to all His people, and so more unreached people have the opportunity to be freed from the darkness they are trapped in.
In workplaces across the USA, people are talking about gas prices jumping. Few are talking about the woman tortured and burned to death after being accused of witchcraft earlier this month.
But you can’t do anything about gas prices.
Were you shocked by the recent reports that a woman who was accused of witchcraft was burned to death in Papua New Guinea? Did you know that after that, police reported two more related accusations of witchcraft, which they narrowly kept from becoming killings?
Do you realize that even that is just the tip of the iceberg?
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This week Forbes hailed Mark Zuckerberg as one of “the most generous” people in America.
I don’t think their standards are anything like God’s.
Mr. Zuckerberg, in case you didn’t know, founded Facebook. He and his wife, Priscilla Chan, are worth $9.6 billion, according to Forbes. And in 2012, they gave away nearly $500 million.
It is so tempting to make fun of that – to riff about having to live on just $9.1 billion – but that is a lot of money to give away, and they are doing a lot more good with their money than many folks are. So I’ll only point out that $500 million is a little more than 5 percent of $9.6 billion.
And I only point that out to trick you.
Julie and I have a great privilege.
I’m not just talking about the opportunity to spend my “work day” focused on establishing churches among the world’s unreached people groups. That’s huge, and Julie and I are hugely grateful to those who give so we can do this work for which we do not receive a paycheck.
What I’m talking about is the privilege to do that in the USA, and therefore to have the opportunity to also be involved in a local church.
This first quarter I’m traveling a lot, disrupting my opportunities to be involved locally, but I’m determined to find more ways God can use me in my local church, because of what happened in Thailand the last couple of weeks.
Being around people who spend their lives working with unreached people groups, who have a “whatever it takes” attitude, prompted me to begin asking myself, “What am I doing today to make disciples of all nations?”
If my job as a believer is to make disciples of all nations – and since Jesus commanded it, I think it is, for me as well as for you – then I need to be truly involved in that. Not just giving it lip-service, but to be sold out to the task, because I’m sold out to Him, and I want to respond to His unconditional love for me and the grace He pours into my life.
It would be unconscionable to try to do that and to not be involved in a local church, wouldn’t it? It would be hypocritical to say I want to find more and more ways to make disciples of all nations and not look for ways to do that in and through my local church. It would be silly to think that “all nations” doesn’t include my own people.
But I have to wonder …
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Would you rather read a dictionary or a novel?
“A novel,” most people would say.
That thought occurred to me after several of us had a discussion yesterday of how to answer the question, “What is New Tribes Mission?”
Everyone came up with a definition.
But why not tell a story?
Here’s one that popped into my head last night:
God gave us a great gift — the opportunity to know Him and to find eternal, abundant life in His Son. He did the heavy lifting. He died.
All He asks us to do is to make that gift available to others. In fact, that’s the task He left for all of His followers to do. And more than 2,000 years after He gave us this work, there’s still plenty to do. There are still people who have no opportunity to hear what God did for them. These people have the same right as you and me to hear about Jesus and decide whether they want to believe on Him, to follow Him, to share His love with others.
Those are the people whom New Tribes Mission exists to serve.
A certain man paid a great price for a vineyard. Only half of it was productive.
So he hired workers to go into the entire vineyard and care for it, all of it. He told them to prune and weed and train the all the vines. He gave them everything they would need to do so.
But they chose to focus on the half of the vineyard that was already productive. Few would go into the other parts of the vineyard. In time, the workers began to believe that taking good care of the vineyard that was producing was more important than doing anything in the rest of the vineyard.
Tell me, will that great man be happy when he comes back to his vineyard?
Now, neither of those is really workable. And maybe even better would be a story of a person whose life was transformed by God because someone came to his or her remote village with the life-changing gospel. In fact, I was just this morning re-reading one that might work.
I guess I’m just wondering if a story would be better than a definition at answering the question, “What is New Tribes Mission?” What do you think?
Would you please pray for Julie and me as we start 2013 at a dead run?
This week I’m helping teach missionaries who’ve come to Florida from around the world about dealing with the media in crisis situations.
Next week we head to Thailand, where I’ll take part in a forum of pastors and NTM members across the globe. We’ll discuss the partnerships that will help New Tribes Mission carry out its role in completing the Great Commission.
We’re back Feb. 1, and then Feb. 8-10 we go to South Florida for a couple of days. And Feb. 11-14 we’re bringing folks who work with our Communications team from all over the USA and Canada to Sanford for a seminar on persuasive communication.
The weekend of the Feb. 23 and 24, Julie and I have plans to see some people in Tampa. And Feb. 25-27 I’ll make a trip to Pennsylvania, to talk with the people who run Wayumi about how we can help them communicate better. Wayumi is becoming a key part of our program to bring more people into NTM, which is a key to completing the Great Commission, so helping them is strategic.
March 8-12 I’ll join our Communications leadership team in Austin, Texas, for SXSW Interactive, the premier conference for interactive media. By knowing what’s going on with interactive media, we can see what we can use to help NTM in carrying out the Great Commission.
The following weekend Julie and I are supposed to head back to Tampa.
So far, things slow down a bit after that, but we already have three out-of-state overnight trips planned in each of the following three months: Georgia in April, Tennessee in May and Missouri in June.
Here’s how you can pray for us:
- Pray for good health. And pray that we’ll make time to get the rest we need between traveling and meeting, so we can get the most out of, and put the most into, those meetings.
- Pray for smooth travels, which we’d like, but more importantly, pray that we’ll be able to see and carry out God’s purposes if our plans are interrupted.
- Pray that our car will hold up to the travel required, or that we’ll be able to replace it.
- Pray that I’ll be able to do all the other work I need to do between meetings – writing, editing, planning, etc.