Hangin' Out in Karongue

Hangin' Out in Karongue

Friday, April 29, 2011

Walking By Faith

We know from Scripture and from personal experience that God leads and directs His people. The main way that He does so is by His Spirit working through His Word the Bible. God’s will is mainly revealed in His Word as we embrace it, know it, internalize it, and come to know more about the mind and the heart of God through it as we conform our lives to what it says. Any means of seeking the will of God that does not involve the rigorous, regular, and systematic study of the Word of God is flawed and is a potential recipe for disaster.

God also leads His people through the godly counsel of others who are studying and loving and embracing and living God’s Word. There is wisdom in a multitude of counselors provided that the multitude know the Word of God. 

It is also true that God sometimes leads through circumstances that we seek to interpret through the lens of the Word of God. God sometimes does close doors and open doors and these are indeed factors (not sole factors, but factors) in determining His leadership for our lives.  

God uses these and other means to lead and guide His people; the list could certainly go on. To think that God does not lead His people would be unbiblical and contrary to the experience of most Christians. But as God leads His people He rarely (if ever) leads them in a way that does not call for faith. And while the way that God leads His people is important, it is not nearly as important as how God’s people trust their God.

Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” This faith does not find its anchor in what is known and understood and what can be checked out and mapped or planned. The anchor for this faith and this trust is the person and the promises of God: Who He is and what He has said He will accomplish. This kind of faith enables the Christian to press on steadfastly even when he does not know what the future holds for him. And he presses on not because he understands or trusts the future, but because he understands and trusts God who firmly holds the future. 

Faith knows that God can be relied upon and trusted.
Faith clings to God when you do not know how things are going to shake out and where exactly you are going. Let’s be honest: most of life from our perspective is absolutely uncertain. That is our perspective, but that is not God’s perspective. Our uncertainty concerning the future is only an apparent uncertainty; everything is certain to the God that we are called to trust.

But all of this is a matter of perspective. It all derives from how one sees things: do you see by merely sight or do you see by faith? Fear sees only the uncertainty and the unanswered questions and the range of options. Faith sees only God. The Apostle Paul called this “walking by faith and not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). Walking by sight does not require a lot of faith. When you walk by sight you have things seemingly figured out and there is a fail-proof plan that you have come up with and there are safety nets galore around you to catch you if you have made a miscalculation somewhere. When we walk by sight we have a tendency to trust ourselves and others and not to lean heavily and desperately upon God.

When you walk by faith you do not walk by sight. You cannot do both: to walk by faith is not to walk by sight. Most things that we do in life we structure to ensure that we do not have to walk by faith. But God expects His people to walk and live and think and make decisions that is a living out of their trust in Him and not a denial of it. And walking by faith is what is pleasing to the Lord because it is a demonstration of a person’s trust in the Lord.

Two verses later in 2 Corinthians Paul writes, “Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him” (2 Corinthians 5:9). Trusting God pleases God. As a matter of fact, it is the only way to please God. Hebrews 11:6 says, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” If I am not walking by faith I am either trusting in myself or I am walking in unbelief and neither is pleasing to God. Walking by faith realizes that the goal of the Christian life is not to know the plan of God, but to know God Himself and to be one who “diligently seeks Him.”  

So what do you do when you come to a crossroads and are not sure where to go? You trust God and you walk by faith. And you realize that the plan of God is not about a plan, it is about a Person and knowing Him (2 Peter 3:18).  

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Missions and Pigs

What do international missions and plastic pigs have in common? Everything if you are a member of Lighthouse Baptist Church in Bryceville, Florida!

 A few months ago Isaac Carter and the other youth of Lighthouse adopted out 55 piggy banks for what they called the "Pigs on Purpose" project. To keep track of the pigs they created an adoption form and had an adoption Sunday where people could take a pig home with them for the purpose of filling it up with change to be used for our mission work in Senegal. Since the adoption day, the youth have been actively encouraging the members to "feed" their pigs regularly. Cassi Colvin, another one of the youth, made an awesome video promoting the project. There has even been a Facebook page that was set up (Pigsonpurpose Lighthouse) to promote the project.

 Isaac (who Hosanna affectionately calls "Pig Boy") recently told us, "It is a very fun project to do because people get excited as they see their pigs filling up.  We have many hilarious stories from families about their children fighting to get to the pig and put the money in.  Most families stop and pray for you all by name while feeding their pigs."  

Giving with a purpose and having a little fun at the same time, that's what Pigs on Purpose is all about. Thanks to Isaac, Cassi, the youth, and everybody at Lighthouse who is feeding their pigs. I guess missions and pigs really can go together!

Friday, April 22, 2011

It Is Finished!

We all too often have a tendency to leave things unfinished. We have unfinished books on our shelves. There are unfinished projects around the house. We have unfinished goals for our lives. And most of these things were started with great drive and passion only to later fall by the wayside and simply be left undone. Thankfully Jesus is not like us. He does not leave things unfinished, but completes every task that He sets out to accomplish.

The night before Jesus’ death on the cross He prayed to the Father and said, “I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do” (John 17:4). As Jesus looked back at all He had accomplished and as He looked forward to all He would do the next day, He was able to confidently proclaim that He had finished the work that God had given Him to do. No last minute regrets. No loose ends that needed to be tied up. No details left undone. The work was complete; it was finished.

Soon after Jesus prayed those words He was taken captive by the hypocritical religious rulers of His day, given several unjust trials through the night, condemned to die for claiming to be the Messiah and the Son of God (Luke 22:66-71), and turned over to the Romans for His execution by crucifixion. After a severe beating the innocent Jesus was nailed to a cross to die.

The Bible preserves seven things that Jesus said during the painful and torturous hours He was upon the cross. He spoke words of forgiveness to God on behalf of those that abused Him (Luke 23:34). He spoke to a dying thief and assured him that his eternity was secure with Him (Luke 23:39-43). He made provisions for His mother to be cared for after His death (John 19:25-27). He cried out in anguish as God the Father punished Him in the place of condemned sinners (Matthew 27:45-46). He fulfilled prophecy from the Old Testament by asking for a drink (John 19:28-29; Psalm 22:15; 69:21). And He entrusted His life to the care of the Father as He died (Luke 23:46).

But there is one word that Jesus spoke on the cross that victoriously proclaimed the completion of His work. Jesus said, “It is finished!” and bowing His head he died (John 19:30). “It is finished” is the translation of one Greek word: tetelestai. This word was used by servants when they came to their master to declare that their assignment had been completed. It was also a word that was used by merchants and meant “the debt is paid in full.” The word simply meant that everything that needed to be done or everything that needed to be paid had been fully taken care of.

But what exactly was finished? What did Jesus mean when He cried out those words? What was completed at that crucial moment in history when the Son of God died? Maybe He was referring to His life. After exclaiming, “It is finished!” He gave up His spirit and died. Jesus lived about thirty-three-and-a-half years on this earth. He was born in a miraculous and supernatural way and now His life had come to an end.

Possibly He was referring to the pain, suffering, and agony of the cross. Crucifixion was the cruelest and most hideous form of execution known to man. Jesus endured this torture, but as He exclaimed “It is finished” His suffering and pain came to an end.

But while both of those things are true, that is not what Jesus meant when He exclaimed it is finished. His was not a cry of agony, or defeat, or even relief. His was a triumphant shout of victory! Through Jesus’ death He had finished, completed, and accomplished the work of redemption where He died for the sins of the world. When Jesus said, “It is finished” He meant that the payment for mankind’s sins had been made and that it was paid in full with nothing remaining. He meant that sins had been atoned for and that the wrath of God for our sins had been borne. When he said, “It is finished” He meant that now weak and wounded and lost sinners like us can be reconciled to God because of what He did.

And if it is finished then there is nothing that you can add to it. Anything that you would seek to add to the finished work of Jesus actually minimizes His accomplishment. What could possibly be added to something that was carried out with such precision and perfection?

Jesus left nothing undone, nothing unaccomplished, and nothing unfinished when it comes to salvation. Now God simply calls us to trust in the work of His Son because it is finished. That makes this a really Good Friday!

Monday, April 18, 2011

A Letter to Parents

Adoniram Judson was the first missionary sent from America. He and his wife Ann served faithfully among the peoples of Burma in the early 1800's.

As young Adoniram was preparing for the mission field the then Ann Hasseltine caught his eye and he immediately fell deeply in love with her. Ann's father served as part of the newly formed mission board that was planning to send Adoniram to Burma.

As Adoniram prepared to ask for Ann's hand in marriage he sent the following letter to her parents. As you read this letter try to put yourself in the shoes of Ann's parents. Parents with hopes and dreams and aspirations for your young daughter and her future. Adoniram wrote:

"I have now to ask, whether you can consent to part with your daughter early next spring, to see her no more in this world; whether you can consent to her departure, and her subjection to the hardships and sufferings of a missionary life; whether you can consent to her exposure to the dangers of the ocean; to the fatal influence of the southern climate of Burma; to every kind of want and distress; to degradation, insult, persecution, and perhaps a violent death. Can you consent to all this, for the sake of Him who left His heavenly home, and died for her and for you; for the sake of perishing, immortal souls; for the sake of Zion, and the glory of God?"

Her father's reply was that it was up to Ann to make this decision. Later, Ann replied with a resounding, "Yes."

As I read this letter I thought, I want to raise up daughters like Ann that are willing to say, "Yes" not just to the proposal of a future husband, but are willing to say "Yes" to whatever sacrifice is set before them for the sake of the Gospel and the unreached people of the world.

And I also thought that I want to be a parent that, when the time came, would hold my children loosely and fully entrust them into the hands and the care of God. A parent that, through tear filled eyes, could read a letter like this and rejoice at the heart of God.

In many ways Adoniram's letter to Ann's parents was prophetic. Ann did indeed die on the mission field in Burma in 1826 of smallpox. Her life was filled with adversities and hardships that she likely would not have experienced had she remained in America. But it is equally likely that she would not have been used of God in the way that she was had she stayed home. Not only did she faithfully serve alongside her husband, but Ann also wrote a catechism in Burmese and translated the books of Daniel and Jonah into Burmese. She was also the first to translate any Scripture into Thai when in 1819 she translated the Gospel of Matthew.  

May God be pleased to raise up more Adoniram and Ann Judsons. And may He also be pleased to raise up parents who rejoice in their children and release them to the care and service of a faithful God "for the sake of Him who left His heavenly home, and died for her and for you; for the sake of perishing, immortal souls; for the sake of Zion, and the glory of God."

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Filled With Thankfulness!

Last Friday we sent out an e-mail asking for folks to pray for us. It was looking very doubtful that we would be able to attend our pre-field training at the Center for Intercultural Training (CIT) in June because the classes were near capacity and we had still yet to reach our needed 60% of monthly financial support that would allow us to attend.

To bring you up-to-date, yesterday we registered and were accepted into CIT for the Summer classes that begin in June! As of Monday morning we were close enough to 60% of our support that the leadership of United World Mission gave us the green light to attend. Then when we registered there was enough room left for all of our family members. We praise God for this and rejoice in His answering our prayers in this way. While we would have rejoiced and trusted God had He answered with "wait" we are very thankful that His answer was "go"!
We want to thank those that prayed for us and those that gave financially in support of our ministry. It is very humbling to have you all be a part of what God has called us together to do in reaching the people of southern Senegal with the Gospel. We also especially want to thank the Body of Christ at Lighthouse Baptist Church in Bryceville, Florida. Hearing of our need, Sunday evening they committed to give $500 per month to our ministry. This commitment bridged the gap and God used it to move us closer to training at CIT, but more importantly, to move us closer to Senegal!

Thank you all again and we ask you to please continually remember our family and the people of southern Senegal as you pray.

With Great Thankfulness,
The Boyd Family
Philippians 4:19-20