Tuesday, June 29, 2021

IF YOU’RE AN EMAIL SUBSCRIBER TO THIS BLOG: Take note of changes

 If you receive blog posts by email for PLEASE, GOD, DON’T MAKE ME GO: A FOOT-DRAGGER’S MEMOIR because you’ve subscribed as a Follower, please note:


As of July 1, you might not receive any more of those blog posts. Blogger’s information states that maybe some people will continue to receive them, but their communications are sketchy at best. 


If you’d like to keep up with blog postsand I hope you do!—you have a couple of options.



I’m sorry for the inconvenience. Maybe Blogger will offer another way to receive posts by email and if so, I’ll let you know.


In the meantime, please help me spread the news about 

PLEASE, GOD, DON’T MAKE ME GO: A FOOT-DRAGGER’S MEMOIR. 


Tell friends and relatives


Tell your church’s missions committee


Tell your church’s library staff


They can order 

PLEASE, GOD, DON’T MAKE ME GO: 

A FOOT-DRAGGER’S MEMOIR 

through their local independent bookstore, 

or at Amazon, Powell’s, Books-A-Million, and other booksellers.





Monday, June 28, 2021

IF YOU’RE AN EMAIL SUBSCRIBER TO THIS BLOG: Take note of changes

 

If you receive blog posts by email for PLEASE, GOD,DON’T MAKE ME GO: A FOOT-DRAGGER’S MEMOIR because you’ve subscribed as a Follower, please note:

 

As of July 1, you might not receive any more of those blog posts. Blogger’s information states that maybe some people will continue to receive them, but their communications are sketchy at best.

 

If you’d like to keep up with blog postsand I hope you do!—you have a couple of options.

 

You can follow the Facebook Page for PLEASE, GOD, DON’T MAKE ME GO: A FOOT-DRAGGER’S MEMOIR. (Click on that link.) I share links to weekly blog posts there, plus other info throughout the week that’s interesting or intriguing or juicy.

 

You can Bookmark the website for PLEASE, GOD, DON’T MAKE ME GO: A FOOT-DRAGGER’S MEMOIR—and click on it often. Here’s how: Click on HOW TO BOOKMARK A WEBSITE.

 

I’m sorry for the inconvenience. Maybe Blogger will offer another way to receive posts by email and if so, I’ll let you know.

 

In the meantime, please help me spread the news about

PLEASE, GOD, DON’T MAKE ME GO: A FOOT-DRAGGER’SMEMOIR.

 

Tell friends and relatives.

 

Tell your church’s missions committee.

 

Tell your church’s library staff.

 

They can order

PLEASE, GOD, DON’T MAKE ME GO:

A FOOT-DRAGGER’S MEMOIR

through their local independent bookstore,

or at Amazon, Powell’s, Books-A-Million, and other booksellers.




 

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Laughing at impossibilities—or not: Why do so many of us settle for small faith and small dreams?

 

Lloyd John Ogilvie describes exceptional people like Cameron Townsend, founder of Wycliffe Bible Translators. (See last week’s post about him, Laughing at impossibilities.)

 

He writes that Christ “uses [their] imagination to show us what we would not have thought of or worked out for ourselves. . . .

 

“This requires persistence. . . . It means asking, seeking, knocking [Luke 11:9-10] . . . three steps in using imagination in cooperation with Christ.

 

“When we ask, we surrender the problem.

 

“When we seek, we wait for Him to show us His best among the many alternatives, opening our minds to His insight.

 

“Then . . . He gives us an answer. It’s then that we can knock, asking for the provision to accomplish what He has revealed.” (Silent Strength for My Life).

 

Ogilvie’s words offer us a profound glimpse into the life of Cameron Townsend (Uncle Cam), a spiritual giant.

 

And his life and faith inspired thousands of other people—among them my new Lomalinda co-workers—to be people of exceptional faith, too.

 

Ogilvie points out traits Uncle Cam and my fellow Lomalindians possessed: “. . . Some Christians think of solutions we would not have considered. They have persisted patiently in prayer.

 

“Some are amazingly creative in what they think and say.

 

Long prayer vigils and complete trust are the reason.

 

“They are like an inventor who waits for, searches, tests until the great ‘Ah-ha!’ comes.

 

“[They] do not give up.”

 

This still boggles my mind:

God gave me and my family the great, 

humbling opportunity

to work alongside such giants of the faith,

some three hundred colleagues who, I would soon learn,

served Him with zeal.

 

It’s not that they talked about God all the time or spoke in hallowed tones or prayed a lot in public.

 

No, they were ordinary souls who chose a humble lifestyle so they could live a radical faith, despite consequences that would come their way.

 

Now, looking back, I don’t hesitate to call them spiritual giants, choice saints. But I didn’t recognize that in the beginning. They were camouflaged as regular folks (from Chapter 10, Please, God, Don’t Make Me Go: A Foot-Dragger’s Memoir).

 

I wonder . . .  Why do so many of us, in contrast, have such small faith and small dreams?

 

We don’t have to settle for small faith and small dreams.

 

But why do we, so many of us, so often?

 




Thursday, June 17, 2021

Laughing at impossibilities

 

About a month into our new life in Lomalinda, I was only beginning to get acquainted with her people. I was clueless about the deep, enduring blessings God would give me through my new neighbors and colleagues.

 

In the coming months and years, God would use them to help me take baby steps toward walking by faith, not by sight. They would shape who I was to become and change me forever.

 

I would witness that these ordinary people trusted God—in very practical, specific, real-life ways. They demonstrated faith in action while, among many other things, they endured ongoing hostility from Marxist guerrillas.

 

Let me tell you how that hostility began.

 

In 1948, the assassination of a Colombian presidential candidate triggered an era known as La Violencia (The Violence), twelve years of mass murders, mobs, rioting, destruction, fires, and political conflicts between Liberals and Conservatives.

 

Participating in that unrest was a young Cuban student, Fidel Castro, at the National University of Bogotá. (Yes, Cuba’s leader, the Fidel Castro you’ve heard about for decades.)

 

After returning to Cuba, he and his brother, Raul, recognized La Violencia left Colombia ripe for a revolution like Cuba’s and began preaching Marxist/Leninist principles among Colombians.

 

Keen on violence and everything anti-American, Castro circulated propaganda, brought Colombian guerrillas to Cuba, trained them, offered aid and weapons, and sent them home to carry out their revolution.

 

La Violencia was also a time of hostility against evangélicos (Protestant Christians) and Roman Catholics, especially pastors and priests, some of whom were martyred for their faith. Churches were destroyed and burned. In addition, for years Roman Catholics had prevented most Protestant mission agencies from entering the country.

 

Given that, what Cameron Townsend dreamed up in 1956, eight years into La Violencia, seems absurd.

 

Founder of Wycliffe Bible Translators (which was to become the world’s foremost Bible translation organization) and SIL International (a scientific as well as faith-based organization) Cameron Townsend (Uncle Cam) came up with a wild idea—he wanted to start Bible translation work in Colombia.

 

Bible translation and more. Because the Bible tells us, many times, to care about people’s all-around well-being, Uncle Cam cared, too. In other Latin American countries, his mission agency had addressed spiritual, physical, and educational needs of minority groups and he wanted to do the same in Colombia.

 

To many people, that made no sense, given the hostility toward both Americans and Protestant Christians at the time, but plucky Uncle Cam stepped up, proving the words of what became known as Wycliffe’s theme song: “faith . . . laughs at impossibilities and shouts ‘It shall be done!’” (Apparently, that was his version of Charles Wesley’s “Faith, Mighty Faith.”)

 

He pressed on, just like in the past when he’d faced obstacles in other countries where he wanted to begin new work.

 

For years, he persisted, and he prayed, and as a result—surely this was God’s doing—in Guatemala, Uncle Cam met Colombia’s new Director of Indigenous Affairs and told him stories of the ways his colleagues helped native groups in other nations. God answered many prayers when the official asked, “How can I get you people to come to Colombia?

 

Uncle Cam answered, “If we can have a contract with the government that will allow us to help the people physically, educationally, and spiritually by translating the Bible, we will come.

 

With a signed contract in 1962, Bible translation began in Colombia (from Chapter 14, Please, God, Don’t Make Me Go: A Foot-Dragger’s Memoir).

 

How is it possible that mere humans can

laugh at impossibilities and cry ‘It shall be done!’”

and then the impossible happens?

 

How is it that people pray

and God answers the way they want him to—

the way they tell him to?

 

When Jesus said,

You can ask me for anything in my name,

and I will do it,”

did he mean we are the boss of him?

(See John 14:13-14.)

 

Let’s read the whole passage. Jesus said, “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name and I will do it.”

 

The people at Got Questions urge this caution: “Some misapply this verse, thinking that saying ‘In Jesus’ name’ at the end of a prayer results in God always granting what we asked for. This is . . . treating the words ‘in Jesus’ name’ as a magic formula. This is absolutely unbiblical.”

 

They continue, “Praying in Jesus’ name means . . . praying according to the will of God. ‘This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him (1 John 5:14-15).

 

“. . . Praying for things that are in agreement with God’s will is the essence of praying in Jesus’ name” (from “What does it mean to pray in Jesus’ name?).

 

The desires of our hearts and prayers need to be in accord with a very important phrase within Jesus’ words: “that God the Father would be glorified” (John 14:13-14).

 

To glorify God means

to recognize His holiness and greatness,

it means to give Him honor.

It means to acknowledge His authority in our lives.

It means to desire what He desires.

 

So, let’s get back to Uncle Cam. For six years, he prayed, he persisted, he laughed at impossibilities and shouted, “It shall be done!” and lo and behold, God opened wide the doors for Wycliffe Bible Translators to begin work in Colombia.

 

The takeaway for you and me is this:

Uncle Cam prayed according to God’s will.

He prayed for what would glorify God.

Uncle Cam’s heart wanted what God’s heart wanted.

And God was pleased to answer.

It was all so good.

 

Ah, but carrying out Bible translation in Colombia didn’t turn out to be a breeze.

 

Oh, no, it wasn’t.

 

Come back next week. I have so much more to tell you!




 

Friday, June 11, 2021

What could motivate someone to be a missionary? Part 2

 

Why are some people religious? Why do some get involved in ministries? Why do people work on foreign soil to carry out missionary work?

 

There are lots of reasonssome valid, some not. We looked at a few possibilities last week: to earn salvation, to appease God, to appear superior among fellow Christians—like, look how great I am to make such sacrifices! (Click on What could motivate someone to be a missionary?)

 

Certainly we know that missionaries don’t get rich. They don’t retire early with lots of money and financial security.


Rarely do missionaries receive recognition or status, let alone fame.

 

So what should motivate people to serve as missionaries?

 

Here’s the setting: Someone asked Jesus to specify the greatest commandment. He answered with an Old Testament teaching:

 

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30, Deuteronomy 6:4-5). 

 

The Message words it this way: “Love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy.”

 

Loving God is the best motivation for whatever we do.

 

When we know, really know deep down:

 

  • that God is crazy in love with each of us—
  • that He’s so wild about us that if He had a refrigerator, He’d put our pictures on it—
  • that He is tickled pink when we love Him back—
  • that He does a happy dance when we hang out with Him—

 

—when we begin to comprehend all that,

 

—and start to grasp the unthinkable cost Jesus paid because God loves us so much,

 

—when we know all of that not just in our heads but in our hearts, experientially, then our hearts and minds and lives change forever.

 

We respond with love and gratitude—we love Him back.

 

And when we love Him back, other things happen. Our perspective changes. Our desires and goals change.

 

It has to do with what Jesus said next: “The second [most important command] is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There are no commandments greater than these [two]” (Mark 12:31, Leviticus 19:18).

 

The love and gratitude we feel toward God inspire us to, in turn, love others.

 

Our desire, our choice, our interest in helping others is the overflow of our hearts, a natural response to being loved by God and loving Him back—whether our tasks are keeping the family clothed and fed, setting up chairs for Sunday’s church service, running a multi-million-dollar corporation, or working on the mission field.

 

That’s what 1 John 4:19 means: “We love because He first loved us,” or in the words of The Message, “First we were loved, and now we love. He loved us first.” Again, it’s about the overflow of our hearts, a natural response to being loved by  God and loving Him back.

 

Loving God (the first and greatest commandment) and loving others (the second greatest) should be the motivation, the basis, the springboard that propels and compels a person to work on the mission field.

 

All the additional and worthy reasons we talked about last week, including:

 

  • teaching missionary kids, or
  • evangelizing, or
  • working as a church planter, or
  • serving as a doctor, nurse, or pilot, or
  • working as a Bible translator or literacy specialist,
  • and so many others . . . .

 

. . . all those and more flow from loving God first and foremost. They’re the overflow of our hearts, an intrinsic response to being loved by God and loving Him back.

 

When we live our lives and serve God that way,

we are lifting up our love, our gratitude,

skills, time, energy, and careers—

as acts of worship.

 

When God moved me and Dave and our kids to Lomalinda, He placed us among an unusual  group of people. Lomalinda's people served God not because of religious rules or obligations. Rather, they knew, from personal experience, what it looks like to love God deeply and serve Him as a natural outcome of that love.

 

Don’t get me wrong: They were not perfect human beings, not by a long shot. But God had done something to their hearts and, for the most part, they had set aside worldly gain and status in order to serve Him.

 

When it came to money and material possessions, their lives showed a healthy balance—they wanted just enough to adequately feed and clothe their kids and pay medical expenses. They needed no fancy houses or cars or lifestyles or vacations or large bank accounts.

 

They weren’t hoping to impress anyone or gain notoriety.

 

They loved fun and laughter—oh, yes, they did! They enjoyed each other. They honored each other’s commitment to serve God in Colombia. They upheld each other in prayer and in practical ways, coming alongside when needs arose.

 

Because God lived in their hearts in mighty ways, Lomalinda’s people were set-apart people—they recognized God had special purposes for them to live out: to serve Colombia’s indigenous peoples who were, in many ways, the hungry, the sick, the brokenhearted, the oppressed, the needy that the Bible tells us to serve (Psalm 82:3-4, Isaiah 58:6-7, Isaiah 61:1).

 

God handed us rich blessings when He sent us

to work alongside such folks.

Our lives were changed forever.




 

Thursday, June 3, 2021

What could motivate someone to be a missionary?

 

Many people, when they think of missionaries, picture something like this: hairy, dirty people who live in huts, wear outdated clothes, and eat things no one in his right mind would eat.

 

And because of that, before moving to Lomalinda, I had little interest in missionaries. I mean—they seemed so strange.

 

Admit it, you’ve looked at missionaries speaking in your church and thought, ‘Hmmm . . . kind of . . . well, weird.’ No one wants to say it out loud, but it’s true.” (Bremers in Bolivia)

 

But I must confess:

Eventually, living and working

alongside missionaries in Lomalinda

would turn out to be a highlight of my life.

 

Those missionaries’ work was not for wimps—it was a mighty challenging vocation in numerous ways.

 

What motivated those Lomalindians to carry out that work? What should every missionary’s inspiration be?

 

Should they hope to earn their salvation?

 

No. Nobody earns salvation.

 

Should their motivation be appeasing God and averting His wrath?

 

No.

 

Do they need to impress God?

 

No.

 

Do they want to impress others? Do they want to make a holier-than-thou statement?

 

No.

 

Should missionaries’ motivation be adventure?

 

No—although life on the mission field can include amazing adventures.

 

Should their incentive be to help backward cultures become more like uscivilized?

 

No, no, no!

 

If you were to ask someone—a trainee or a new recruit—why he wants to be a missionary, he might answer:

 

  • I want to teach missionary kids, or
  • I want to evangelize, or
  • I want to be a church planter, or
  • I want to serve as a doctor, nurse, or pilot, or
  • I want to be a Bible translator or literacy specialist.

 

But those are not core reasons to become a missionary.

 

So what’s the most important reason for people to go to the mission field?

 

The answers could fill—and have filled—many books.

 

Ministers preach sermons, people pen articles and host podcasts, and authors craft devotionals, blog posts, and websites to inspire Christians to work on the mission field. Entire corporations exist to recruit personnel for the mission field.

 

But we need to sift through all those books and sermons and articles and podcasts and devotionals and blog posts and websites and organizations and find the starting pointthe core reason to go to the mission field.

 

Can you think what it is?

 

Jesus stated the correct reason—the basis, the motivation, the springboard that propels people into all the other reasons—and many others—to work on the mission field.

 

 What do you think it is?

 

Come back next week and we’ll continue to explore this topic.

Even if you’ll never work as a missionary,

the message applies to you and your everyday life, too—

to your very reason for being.

See you next week!




 

Noticing the good stuff, finding the joy

I began to notice more good stuff going on in Lomalinda .     God was offeri ng me new opportunities. He was offering me a new perspectiv...