Hangin' Out in Karongue

Hangin' Out in Karongue

Friday, December 14, 2012

An Ever Present Help

"In the next two-and-a-half weeks we have to finish our classes, take a boatload of exams, pack up our apartment, say our good-byes, and travel from Canada to Florida. And we do not have any time to be sick!"

That is exactly what I was thinking two weeks ago, a little after midnight, as Thea lay on the couch sick. Not just sick, but that stomach-bug, throwing up kind of sick. But as she lay sick I was thinking more of myself than I was for her. Now I surely do not want my children to be sick and I hate seeing them feel bad, but when they are sick we can generally still function reasonably well as a family. I can finish classes, take exams, and pack cars when the kids are ill. I cannot, however, effectively do those things when I am sick.

And I thought those things about seven feet away from where Thea lay on the couch. I had determined that my seven feet proximity was a safe distance so as not to be contaminated with the germs that would make my already interesting next two weeks even more memorable. I was keeping a safe distance as to avoid possible contamination.

Now I am far from a germ-o-phobe, not even close, but I wanted to be prudent and wise with all that the next few weeks were going to bring into the life of our family.

As I normally do when the children are sick, I prayed with Thea and asked God for His help and I especially asked Him to be very near to Thea while she did not feel well.

And it was then that God got my attention: I was praying for God to be with Thea as I sat a safe seven feet away. In that moment it was not so much an indictment of my lack of compassion, though it surely was that. More so, it was a realization of the compassion of God in coming near to us. Our God is not a God who keeps a safe distance from us and idly watches as we suffer and struggle. He is a God who is near at hand. He tells us that He is an ever present help in time of need. Not a bystander who is afraid of being contaminated, but a caring God who is there with His people and is for His people.

After I prayed, and saw the obvious lack of Christ-like reflection in my own life, I left my chair, entered the contamination zone, and sat by Thea as she lay on the couch. And as I rubbed my sick daughter's feet I thought of the nearness of God to His people and the comfort that brings.

As I type this, Thea feels great, I never got sick, I took all of my exams, and God has been near. It simply does not get any better than that.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

My New Favorite Bloggers

Blogs can be informative, fun, and for missionaries, they can be used to keep people in the loop on what the Lord is doing in our lives and ministries as we serve in some far away places. They can also express what it is like to deal with change, different cultures, frustrations, and victories that we see and experience on the mission field.

With this in mind, Ezra and Thea have just launched themselves into the "blogosphere" (whatever that is!) and have each started a blog to chronicle the things they are experiencing as missionaries. They want to use this medium to be able to keep in touch with those they leave behind and to give them a taste of life from their point-of-view. As their parents, we also hope that this gives them another medium of thinking through the changes and transitions that are happening in their lives. We also hope that it will become a source of encouragement for them as others follow their writings, videos, and life from afar.

Ezra is writing at www.ezraboyd.blogspot.com and Thea at www.babystepsoffaith.blogspot.com. Take a few moments to check out their blogs, sign-up to follow them, consider leaving them a quick word of encouragement as they begin and join them on their journey.

Monday, November 26, 2012

"Semi-nomadic...like us"

Last night our family was reading a book together about a missionary in Uganda and she used the word "semi-nomadic" to describe a specific group of people that lived near her town. Thea asked, "What exactly does semi-nomadic mean?"   

I asked her what the word "nomadic" meant, to which she responded by saying that it meant to move from one place to another. I then asked her about the word "semi," like in semi-circle, and she said that it was something that was not total, but only partial or halfway. She then said, "So semi-nomadic means that these people move often, but not all the time. They are prone to move, but will often stay in one place for a period of time." I agreed with her assessment of the word just in time for her to add, "They are semi-nomadic...like us."

And the semi-nomads started packing some things up last week!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Few Questions Before "Black Friday"

There is little doubt that our society suffers from a lack of contentment. Many families bury themselves in debt as they seek to keep pace with the proverbial Joneses. Many individuals move from job to job and career to career in search of more pay, better benefits, and the brass ring that always seems just out of reach. Marital discontentment causes many to hope for greener grass in another relationship. And rampant materialism permeates nearly every facet of American life. All the while the virtue of contentment is nowhere to be found.

Thankfully God's Word addresses these pressing issues with illuminating clarity. 1 Timothy 6:6-10 says, "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. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows."

A few verses later the text continues by saying, "Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life" (1 Timothy 6:17-19).

When considering these verses, along with the rest of what the New Testament teaches on the subject, it seems that the key to contentment is not my finding contentment in money, possessions, or things, but in my finding contentment in Jesus. Contentment comes as I am able to live knowing that in Jesus I have a treasure that is worthy of giving all for (Matthew 13:44). True contentment comes when I value Jesus above any and everything else and then live like I value Jesus in that way. Contentment is essentially living like Jesus and Jesus alone is more than sufficient to satisfy every longing and desire of my life. This treasuring of Jesus loosens the grip of materialism over my life and frees me so that I can truly experience the all-satisfying pleasure of knowing Jesus Christ.

Consider these eleven questions that may help you determine your level of contentment. These questions are aimed at the heart so as you read and think about them be sensitive to what God may be saying to you:

1) Am I content with what I have and the circumstances of my life or am I striving for more and more?

2) If everything in my life was taken away, all of my material possessions, and I had nothing but Jesus Christ would I still be content?

3) Am I living as if I am taking nothing with me when I die?

4) In my life does Jesus look like an all-satisfying treasure?

5) Can I rightly distinguish between my needs and my wants?

6) What is tempting me to treasure it more than I treasure Jesus?

7) Am I discontent with the things of this world, yet content with where I am in my relationship with Jesus?

8) Do I live like I trust and hope in things or like I trust and hope in God?

9) Am I generous, ready to give and willing to share?

10) Am I living and giving in a way that shows it is more blessed to give than to receive?

11) Does Jesus have all of my life?

Contentment is not primarily about money and things. It is primarily about being satisfied with Jesus and treasuring Him above all else.

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Second Best Gift I've Ever Received

The greatest gift of my life has been the gift of Jesus Christ. He saved and transformed me, not because of me and what I did nor because of my merit or goodness, but because of His unyielding love and sacrifice for me. That is a gift without rivals and a gift that can only be given by God Himself.

But second on the list is my precious wife, Gayle. And she too is a gift from God. From a human standpoint our "chance" meeting over 17 years ago was absolutely improbable. But from God's vantage point it was another piece of the puzzle of amazing grace that He was putting together in my life.

I often tell Gayle that I was in love with her from the first week that I met her. And she likewise always says that she was not nearly  that quick on the draw. When we were dating we were separated by almost 200 miles (and as she would say, almost 8 years!), but thankfully with some time (and heavy doses of my charm!) she began to see the light!

We both became Christians about a month before our wedding and the presence of Christ in our marriage has made all of the difference in the world. It has been amazing not just to "grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ" as an individual, but to be able to do so with the one that you walk through life with.

Our life together has not exactly gone as we scripted it in those first few years of marriage, but one of the mind-blowing things about Gayle is that she has always been great with where God has taken our family and our lives. She was okay when we left our "careers," sold our dream home, and took our two-month-old son and moved to Kentucky for me to attend Bible college. She was okay because she trusted God and (for this I am eternally grateful and overwhelmingly amazed) she trusted me. Later, when we moved even father away from family and familiarity to serve in Idaho she was equally happy and content. Very early in our marriage she once told me, "I am okay wherever we are because the Lord will be there and you will be there." She has always just wanted to be where the Lord would have our family be. I have watched her travel this long road to Africa with great joy and thorough resolve as she seeks to serve the unreached peoples there.

Gayle has always been my biggest "fan" and has always supported me in everything. That has been a huge blessing as we have sought to serve the Lord and His church together for the last decade. But she has supported me enough and with such love and thoroughness that she has never shied away from lovingly telling me when I was wrong or when I needed to think more deeply about something. She has consistently mixed overwhelming love with solid truth in our relationship and I am surely a better man because of her.

Indeed, I could go on and on with all of the ways that God has used Gayle to bless me and our family, but all of those roads lead me back to His grace. I am continually reminded of how undeserving I am of all of God's grace. I guess that is the great thing about grace: you get the overwhelming blessing that you do not deserve. And that is exactly what I got 16 years ago when I married Gayle. Happy anniversary Gayle! Thanks for being the second best gift I've ever received!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Without Words Wednesday

"After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands" - Revelation 7:9

Monday, October 8, 2012

Merci Beaucoup!

Dear Partners in the Gospel,

Excited, thankful, overwhelmed, a little nervous…..those were all of the emotions (and more!) that we experienced last Tuesday evening as we purchased five tickets to Senegal. With the push of a button on our laptop our family took one more step closer to Senegal and spreading the Gospel there. And we could not have done that without you!

Our family is continually amazed at the love, generosity, and faithfulness that we receive from people just like yourself who sacrifice so that the unreached peoples of southern Senegal can have the opportunity to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ. You are truly part of a team; not just our team, but a team that the Lord Himself is building of those who have a heart for Him and a heart for  the world. We are filled with more hope than ever that the dream of “all Senegal for Christ” will one day be a reality!

We plan to leave Quebec around December 21 after the children have finished school and start the long journey back to Florida. We hope  to make it back to Florida by Christmas Eve where we will be spending the next month packing, taking care of  last minute business, and saying good-bye to family and  friends. Then, on Tuesday, January 29, our family will board a plane headed for Senegal and our new life there.

Our family sincerely wants to thank you. Thank you for praying for us. Thank you for giving to the Lord for our ministry. Thank you for your love, encouragement, and    sacrifice. And most of all, thank you for your obedience to the Lord Jesus who has called us to this task together as partners in the Gospel.

Just before we pushed the “purchase” button for our tickets we stopped to pray. We thanked the Lord for all that He has done to get us to this point. We asked the Lord for continued strength as the tasks that lie ahead will be difficult. We prayed for the unreached peoples of southern Senegal and the spread of the Gospel there. And as we prayed, we praised the Lord for you. Thank you again for all that you do to bless us and to make it possible for us to serve the Lord Jesus and the peoples of southern Senegal.

With Hope in the Gospel,

The Boyd Family

Romans 15:20


Jesus: The Only Hope for the World

I don’t know if I read it, heard it, or thought of it myself, but several years ago on the inside cover of my Bible I wrote the following words: “Jesus is the only hope for the world. He is worthy of me giving my life that the world might know that.” I will occasionally look at those two brief sentences, which summarize much of what the New Testament teaches, and wonder if I am really living out those twin truths. I frequently ask myself if I am truly doing enough so that the world might hear that Jesus is their only hope.

The Bible clearly proclaims that Jesus is the only hope for the world. There is salvation in no other name than His (Acts 4:12). He provides eternal life to those who trust in Him (John 3:16) while those that reject Him stand condemned before God (John 3:18). He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life and there is no other access to God, but through Him (John 14:6). Jesus reconciles us to God (Colossians 1:21-22), delivers us from the wrath to come (1 Thessalonians 1:10), takes our sin and credits us with His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21), redeems us and forgives our sins (Ephesians 1:7), and the list could go on and on. Rightly did the Apostle Paul refer to Jesus as “our hope” (1 Timothy 1:1).

Yet we live in a world today where people are without hope or searching for hope in things that cannot truly provide it. In our society secularism, materialism, and practical atheism are rampant, while followers of Jesus Christ hold the answers to the world’s greatest need. And the hope that Jesus Christ brings is a hope that is meant to be shared. As Christians “the love of Christ compels us” to live our lives as “ambassadors for Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:14-21). An ambassador is defined as “an authorized representative or messenger.” That is how we are to serve King Jesus as we speak on His behalf to people who do not follow our King.

But to be an ambassador of Christ who is willing to give their life so that the world might hear of their King calls for great sacrifice. Christ’s call to deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow Him (Luke 9:23) is the summons to declare “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). But in the giving of our life to make Christ known to the nations we will find out what it truly means to live (Matthew 10:39).

J. Campbell White, a leader in the Laymen’s Missionary Movement nearly one hundred years ago wrote: “Most men are not satisfied with the permanent output of their lives. Nothing can wholly satisfy the life of Christ within His followers except the adoption of Christ’s purpose toward the world He came to redeem. Fame, pleasure, and riches are but husks and ashes in contrast with the boundless and abiding joy of working with God for the fulfillment of His eternal plans. The men who are putting everything into Christ’s undertaking are getting out of life its sweetest and most priceless rewards.”

Jesus is the only hope for the world. What will you give so that the world might know that?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Without Words Wednesday

Anyone want to guess what this is a picture of? And look where the cursor is!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

What we long to see....

This video is a glimpse into why we are moving to southern Senegal. It is a video I took in November 2009 in a small isolated village called Santiaba. In the video, Abdoulaye explains the Gospel to a group of people who have assembled to listen. This is a Senegalese Christian explaining the Gospel to other Senegalese in their heart language. Take a minute to watch this short video and as you do imagine what it would be like to see this scene replicated hundreds of times throughout the villages of southern Senegal. This is our prayer and we invite you to pray it with us.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

A Little Something to Think About

The following quotes come from men who's hearts beat in tune with the heart of God for the nations of the world. Read these quotes, reflect upon them, and then plead with God that He would give us all a heart like His for the nations.
“The mark of a great church is not its seating capacity, but its sending capacity.” Mike Strachura

“We talk of the Second Coming; half of the world has never heard of the first.” Oswald J. Smith

“World missions was on God’s mind from the beginning.” Dave Davidson

“Some wish to live within the sound of a chapel bell, I wish to run a rescue mission within a yard of hell.” C.T. Studd

“May it become, once again, the ambition of the church to preach the Gospel where Christ is not known.” David Sitton

“I have but one candle of life to burn, and I would rather burn it out in a land filled with darkness than in a land flooded with light.” John Falconer

“I’m exasperated that we continue to spend 97 percent of our resources in concentrating on our Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria rather than moving out to reach the ends of the earth.” Jerry Rankin

“The command has been to “go,” but we have stayed --- in body, gifts, prayer, and influence.” Robert Savage

“Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man. When this age is over, and countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more. It is a temporary necessity. But worship abides forever.” John Piper

“In the vast plain of the north I have sometimes seen, in the morning sun, the smoke of a thousand villages where no missionary has even been.” Robert Moffat

 “Why should anyone hear the Gospel twice before everyone has had a chance to hear it once?” Unknown 

“You can give without loving. You cannot love without giving.” Amy Carmichael

“Let my heart be broken with the things that break God’s heart.” Bob Pierce

“”My father, my grandfather, my great-grandfather and all of my ancestors before me – they lived and died – and they never heard the name of Jesus Christ. Why did it take you so long to come to us with the Gospel?” A cannibal war-chief turned Christian in the jungles of Papua New Guinea speaking to a missionary

“Would that God would make hell so real to us that we cannot rest; heaven so real that we must have men there.” J. Hudson Taylor

“ “Not called!” did you say? “Not heard the call,” I think you should say. Put your ear down to the Bible, and hear Him bid you go and pull sinners out of the fire of sin. Put your ear down to the burdened, agonized heart of humanity, and listen to its pitiful wail for help. Go stand by the gates of hell, and hear the damned entreat you to go to their father’s house and bid their brothers and sisters not to come there. Then look Christ in the face – whose mercy you have professed to obey – and tell Him whether you will join heart and soul and body and circumstances in the march to publish His mercy to the world.” William Booth

“This Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.” Jesus

It has always been my ambition to preach the Gospel where Christ was not known” The Apostle Paul

“Here am I. Send me.” Isaiah

Friday, September 21, 2012

Building a Marriage for the Glory of God

Marriage, just like all of life, is meant to glorify God. It is meant to picture the loving relationship between Jesus and His church (Ephesians 5:32). God created marriage upon the pattern of Jesus and His relationship to His bride the church, so the goal is to live and love in such a way that God is glorified and the relationship between Jesus and the church are portrayed.

We all know that a strong, God-glorifying, Christ-centered marriage takes a lot of hard work and determination. It takes following the instructions of God, the One who created marriage in the first place. This kind of marriage does not come about by looking at the pattern of the world, but by looking at the pattern of the Word; the Word of God.

The building of a strong and lasting marriage is much like building a strong and lasting house. When you build a house you want to use materials that will make it last a lifetime. You want to work hard so that it will be built into something that will stand up to the test of time. And building a strong, God-glorifying marriage is no different. Psalm 127:1 says, “Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.” Likewise we can say that unless the Lord builds the marriage, those who try to build it labor in vain.

The building of a marriage, just like the building of a house, must start with a strong foundation. And the foundation that is needed in marriage is Jesus Christ. There is simply no other foundation with which to build a marriage upon. Jesus said, "Anyone who listens to my teaching and obeys Me is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won't collapse, because it is built on rock.” (Matthew 7:24-25). The only foundation that will stand when the storms of life blow hard is the foundation of the Lord Jesus Christ. A commitment to Him as individuals and a commitment to Him as a couple is the only lasting, solid foundation that can support a marriage. He alone must be the rock.

But a house also needs walls: something that builds upon the foundation and adds structure and support. And in a marriage what adds that support is love. The Bible says, “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Love will last forever” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8). The love that a husband and a wife should show one another should reflect the love that God has shown them in His Son, Jesus Christ. A sacrificial love that seeks the other’s good above one’s own. It must be a love that is predominantly centered not in each other, but in Jesus Christ where you love one another out of the overflow of your love for Him.

Not only does a house need a foundation and walls, but a house also needs a roof; something to protect the house from rain and acts as a shelter in the storm. And in the building of a marriage grace and forgiveness serve as that roof. The Bible says, “Be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32). The grace and forgiveness that the husband and wife show to one another should reflect the grace and forgiveness that God has made available through His Son, Jesus Christ. That is free grace that is not deserved or earned, but is freely and lavishly given. Grace that is not dependant upon each other’s performance or worth, but grace that reflects the blessings that we have been shown in Christ. Free and unearned grace must permeate your marriage so that it protects and shelters from struggles within and problems without.

When these things are done, a marriage will be made that will be strong and that will last a lifetime. But above all else, it will be a marriage that will bring glory to God.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Glorifying God in the Ordinary

There is nothing wrong with being ordinary. As a matter of fact, that is the likely category that most of us find ourselves in: ordinary. We are ordinary people, with ordinary jobs, who are part of ordinary families, living out ordinary lives.

But the extraordinary thing about God is that He intends to inject His glory into the ordinariness of our lives. With God nothing is just ordinary because He intends to be glorified in all areas and facets of our lives; including the ordinary.

Paul understood this point when he wrote, “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). Eating and drinking are the epitome of ordinary; quite mundane actually. Yet in even these things I have the capacity to glorify God because all of life is meant to be about Him and for Him. And think about the “whatever you do” part. Paul is saying that the glorifying of God is not limited to certain “spiritual” tasks or activities, but is possible in everything.

In much the same way Paul writes to the Colossian Christians and says, “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Colossians 3:17). The “whatever” of this verse is broad enough to totally encompass your “ordinary” life.

This means that you do not have to be a pastor or a missionary or have some other “spiritual” vocation to please God with your life. God is glorified in the lives of businessmen who maintain Christian ethics in their business and honor Him with their profession. He is glorified in the tradesman who puts in an honest day’s work and seeks to work “heartily as to the Lord and not to men” (Colossians 3:23). God is exalted in the life of the stay-at-home mom who nurtures, loves, and instructs her children. God delights in the teachers who love their students and live out the Gospel before them day-in and day-out. Secretaries, students, salesmen, servers, and a whole host of other “ordinary” people truly have the capacity to glorify God with their lives as they live for Jesus.

This also means that there is an urgency to all of our work. We are not waiting to do God’s work; whatever God has set before us is God’s work! If we sit and wait for something better that is more “spiritual” or “important” and less ordinary then we may miss the thing that God is calling us to that is right before our eyes.

Missionary James Fraser learned this valuable lesson as he was language learning in China. He wrote: “It is all if and when. I believe the devil is fond of those conjunctions … The plain truth is that the Scriptures never teach us to wait for opportunities of service, but to serve in just the things that lie next at our hands … Since the things that lie in our immediate path have been ordered of God, who shall say that one kind of work is more important and sacred than another?”

His point is that what lies before us is the work of God. While we have a tendency to separate life into “sacred” and “secular” compartments, the Bible makes no such distinction. The “whatever you do” of 1 Corinthians and Colossians destroys those compartments and makes everything the work of God whereby God can by glorified. Fraser goes on to write: “I am no more doing the Lord’s work in giving the Word of God to the Chinese than you are, for example, in wrapping up a parcel to send to the tailor. It is not for us to choose our work. And if God has chosen it for us, hadn’t we better go straight ahead and do it, without waiting for anything greater, better, or nobler?” He is saying that the most “noble” work that God can call you to is the work that God has called you to. He is saying that with God there is really no such thing as ordinary.

So go and live out your “ordinary” life. But do it in a way that points others to your extraordinary God!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

How God Used You

We would need a much longer blog post to list all of the ways that God uses you to touch our lives, but we wanted to give you a few concrete examples from the last month:

God used you to provide the needed funds so that our family could receive our vaccinations that we need for the mission field in Senegal. God used you to send us an e-mail telling us that we were on your mind and that you and your family are praying for us each day. God used you to send a card all the way to Canada for our children so that they could be encouraged and so that they would know that others are praying for them. God used you to meet our financial needs this month as we trust God and as the people of God faithfully give to Him for us. God used you to bless us in ways that proved to be exactly what we needed, exactly when we needed it. We could not do this without God using you!
Our family wants to sincerely thank you for being part of our team!

Monday, September 10, 2012

A dog (or a foot!) in your mouth

If you are struggling with pride and need a deep sense of humility in your life then you may want to consider learning and practicing a new language. Language learning is difficult and filled with mistakes and mishaps. One such mishap came recently as our family was invited to go to a carnival with another family from our church.
As we were walking along talking with the family there was a
man holding a very, very small dog. When Gayle saw the unusually small dog she remarked, "Je pourrais mettre ce chien dans ma bouche." Her structure was perfect, her pronunciation was great, but there was a bit of a problem.

What she wanted to say was that she could put the dog in her pocket. The only problem was that instead of saying "poche" which is French for "my pocket," she used "ma bouche" which unfortunately means "my mouth." And in any language that tends to come off a bit odd!

Everyone, including the owner of the dog who overhead her, got a great laugh and we were reminded that it takes over a million mistakes before you can learn a language. Thankfully we are getting close!

Friday, August 10, 2012

When Will Jesus Return?

And this gospel of the kingdom
will be proclaimed
throughout the whole world
as a testimony to all nations,
and then the end will come.

Matthew 24:14

New Testament scholar George Eldon Ladd, writing in the 1950s, comments:
The subject of this chapter is, When will the Kingdom come? I am not setting any dates. I do not know when the end will come.

And yet I do know this: When the Church has finished its task of evangelizing the world, Christ will come again. The Word of God says it.

Why did He not come in A.D. 100? Because the Church had not evangelized the world. Why did He not return in A.D. 1000? Because the Church had not finished its task of world-wide evangelization.

Is He coming soon? He is—if we, God’s people, are obedient to the command of the Lord to take the Gospel into all the world.

. . . “How are we to know when the mission is completed? How close are we to the accomplishment of the task? Which countries have been evangelized and which have not? How close are we to the end? Does this not lead to date-setting?”

I answer, I do not know. God alone knows the definition of terms. I cannot precisely define who “all the nations” are. Only God knows exactly the meaning of “evangelize.” He alone, who has told us that this Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a testimony unto all the nations, will know when that objective has been accomplished.

But I do not need to know. I know only one thing: Christ has not yet returned; therefore the task is not yet done. When it is done, Christ will come. Our responsibility is not to insist on defining the terms of our task; our responsibility is to complete it. So long as Christ does not return, our work is undone. Let us get busy and complete our mission.

. . . Here is the motive of our mission: the final victory awaits the completion of our task. “And then the end will come.” There is no other verse in the Word of God which says, “And then the end will come.”
When is Christ coming again? When the Church has finished its task. When will This Age end? When the world has been evangelized.

“What will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?” (Matt. 24: 3). “This gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations; and then, and then, the end will come.” When? Then; when the Church has fulfilled its divinely appointed mission.

Do you love the Lord’s appearing? Then you will bend every effort to take the Gospel into all the world. It troubles me in the light of the clear teaching of God’s Word, in the light of our Lord’s explicit definition of our task in the Great Commission (Matt. 28: 18-20) that we take it so lightly. “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” This is the Good News of the Kingdom.  
. . . All authority is His. “Go ye therefore.” Wherefore? Because all authority, all power is His, and because He is waiting until we have finished our task. His is the Kingdom; He reigns in heaven, and He manifests His reign on earth in and through His Church. When we have accomplished our mission, He will return and establish His Kingdom in glory. To us it is given not only to wait for but also to hasten the coming of the day of God (II Pet. 3:12). This is the mission of the Gospel of the Kingdom, and this is our mission.
George Eldon Ladd, The Gospel of the Kingdom: Scriptural Studies in the Kingdom of God (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1959), ch. 9, “When Will the Kingdom Come?”

(Reblogged from Justin Taylor's great blog at www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor)

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Some "Poupee" Confusion

Last Thursday we celebrated Hosanna's fifth birthday and one of the presents that she received from family back home in Florida was a baby doll. Well, as the French language would have it, the French word for baby doll is "poupee." (The word is pronounced poo-pay.)

With Hosanna starting school exclusively in French later this month we have really stressed speaking to her more in French. We generally say something in French, repeat the same thing in English, and then say it again in French. It has been really encouraging to see how much she already knows and how quickly she is picking up new words and ideas.

Well.....we were getting ready to walk over to some of our friends house to hang out and she wanted to bring her new doll. Knowing that she was going to be playing outside with her friends I said to Hosanna, "Ta poupee doit rester chez nous." This simply means, "Your baby doll must stay at our house." But this time I forgot to add the English translation for my dear five-year old and she does not yet know the French word for baby doll. (I have a feeling you know where this is going!)

Hosanna, still holding her baby doll, replied, "I just went to the bathroom and all of it is going to stay here. But can I take my doll?"

Sunday, July 15, 2012

"Dad, he said that to you"

Learning a second language is a truly humbling experience. To be quite honest, the word "humbling" is not nearly strong enough of a word to use. Over the last six months I have thought of many other words that better describe the experience (I only thought the words because to actually speak them out loud would surely damage my witness!), but you get the idea. It is humbling.

Let me share with you a brief snapshot to illustrate my point:

Last Thursday our family went to the annual "La Fete du Lac des Nations" here in Sherbrooke. It is sort of like a big carnival or fair with a lot of singing and fireworks every night. A pretty cool experience for the family for an evening.

Like most carnivals, there was a section with various vendors who were demonstrating their merchandise and eager to talk with those that passed by. One such vendor was selling wooden toys and was all too ready to place a toy in the hands of my oldest two children for them to give a test-drive. It was a wooden ball attached to a stick by a string with a cup-like apparatus on the end. The goal was to catch the ball in the cup.

Now don't forget that we live in Quebec and that they speak French in Quebec. (This fact will be very important for the rest of the story.)

During his sales-pitch he showed us that while the toys with the painted wooden balls looked much flashier, those that were plain, unpainted wood worked just as well. And of course, they were cheaper. In an attempt to hold our attention and get in the most words he could while we stood before him, he spoke incredibly fast. I must admit, I was not really able to understand everything that he said. I knew it had something to do with the wooden ball, paint, and him wanting our money.

Later that evening, as we waited for the fireworks to begin, Thea started talking with me about the wooden toy. She said, "It is cool that you can paint those wooden balls with finger nail polish and it will create a hard shell around them. But only one coat or two at the most because more than that and it will throw off the weight of the ball and make it more difficult to catch in the cup."

As I looked at her with my infamous "what-on-earth-are-you-talking-about" look, I said, "How do you know so much about that toy?" She said, "Dad, he said that to you. That is what he told you when we were talking to him. You didn't get that?"

No, I did not get that. But I am glad that my nine year old did. And I hope that one day soon I will be able to get. But until that day, and I am sure many, many years afterward, I will remain humbled by our quest to learn a new language. And I will always make sure that I travel with Ezra or Thea to help me get it!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

"Wait! Don't forget to pray!"

The other night I happened to still be awake studying when I heard the door to the children's room creak open. That creak was quickly followed by the little pitter-patter of Hosanna's feet as she came out of the room and ran to me.

"I had a bad dream," she said. "It was a dream about spiders that were everywhere in my bed and they were all over me. And I am scared that there really are spiders in my bed now."

Putting on my reassuring dad voice, I told her that it was just a bad dream and that there were not any spiders in her bed and that there was nothing to be afraid of. She could go back to sleep and not worry about a thing.

"But what if some spiders do get into my bed while I am sleeping? What if it really happens?"

"Well we will pray and trust that God is going to take care of us. Doesn't God promise that He is always with us and that He cares for us?"


"Then why don't you go to the bathroom and then I will tuck you back in bed." And with that she quickly went off to the bathroom and then grabbed my hand for the customary "tuck-in." So I put her in her bottom bunk while the other children slept, kissed her on the forehead, and as I turned to leave I told her that I would see her in the morning.

Then she said, "Wait! Don't forget to pray!" I was about to leave the room without praying! I had told her that I would pray for her, and even used that truth to reassure her, but yet I forgot to pray. Her confidence to remain in the bed rested upon us asking God for His help, yet here I was about to leave the room without asking Him to help her.

How often is that us? We tell someone, "I will pray for you," but then in the middle of life we get busy and forget. We may even commit to pray for a situation or a family or a ministry or a missionary, and we may even begin with great fervency, but after a time we just forget to pray for certain things.

This fact really hit home with me because our ministry relies upon the prayers of the people of God. We desperately need people to be praying for our family, our ministry, and the peoples of southern Senegal who need the Gospel. Prayer is not a strategy; prayer is the strategy. And the urgency of the Gospel and the unreached peoples of the world plead with us to never forget to pray.

That night I came back over to the bedside of Hosanna, leaned over near to her ear, and I prayed for her. I prayed that God would protect her from things seen and from things unseen. I thanked God for His power, strength, and care for His people. And then I kissed her again and left the room. Then I thanked God for all of the people that pray for us and who never forget.  

Monday, July 2, 2012

It's Not Easy Being Green

"It's not easy being green." Those words were made famous by Kermit the Frog, but that truth is lived out by thousands of Missionary Kids around the world each day. Missionary Kids (or Third Culture Kids) live between two cultures and struggle to fit into each. They are very different than the children and the culture that they live in, but they also find that they have become much different than the children of their "passport" culture. And sometimes it is a bit confusing to figure out what place, if any, is supposed to feel like home and where they are supposed to fit in.

The official flag of the International Society of
Missionary Kids
It is been said that a Third Culture Kid (TCK) becomes much like
a chameleon: they are able to blend into the culture in which they happen to be in at the time, but they never really become a full-fledged part. While their "passport" culture is yellow and their new culture is blue, they become a blend of the two. They end up feeling green. And it's not easy being green.

I was reminded of this last night as I talked with one of our children about the things of life and why our life is not "normal." Being six months into our time in Canada also means that we are only six months away from another major transition to an entirely different culture. And those things remind you that it is not easy being green.

Our children with "TiCK" their stuffed 
chameleon. TiCK has travelled with our
family for over a  year-and-a-half.

Below is a poem written by a Missionary Kid called, "I Am Green." As you read this pray for Ezra, Thea, and Hosanna and the other TCK's that you may know who are serving all over the world. Pray that God would use their less-than-normal lives for His glory. Pray that when they do not feel at home that they would long for a city whose builder and maker is God Himself (Hebrews 11:10). And please pray for their parents that in the midst of their changing lives that they could provide love, stability, comfort, and direction for their children as their family walks together by faith. Because it's not easy being green.

I Am Green

I grew up in Blue Country

My parents grew up in Yellow Country

They tell me I am Yellow

And sometimes we go and visit Yellow Country

When I am in Yellow Country

I go to school with the Yellow kids.

I dress like the Yellow kids

And I talk like the Yellow kids.

but when I am in Blue Country

I go to school with the Blue kids.

I dress like the Blue kids

And I talk like the Blue kids.

Sometimes when I am in Yellow Country

I really miss the Blue ways.

I guess that the things I do and say,

Are really rather Bluish in color

In the same way, when I am in blue Country

There are things I miss about Yellow Country.

And I am sure the things I do and say

Appear rather Yellowish in color.

All this changing around is so confusing

Blue or Yellow? Who am I really?

I wonder if there is a place where I could just be me,

Where the Blue and the Yellow could both run free.

Sometimes when I am flying between the two places

I want to stay up there in the middle of all the races.

If only I could stop some place in between

If only I could just be GREEN!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Great Expectations

We are really praying that God would move powerfully among the people of southern Senegal. And we pray with an expectation that He will bring this to pass. Not because of us or because of methods or because of an organization. We pray with this expectation because of the power of the Gospel and because of the goodness of God to lovingly call people to Himself. I read the following quote today that sums up the expectation of the preaching of the Gospel.

“St Paul expected his hearers to be moved. He so believed in his preaching that he knew that it was “the power of God unto salvation” [Rom. 1:16]. This expectation is a very real part of the presentation of the Gospel. It is a form of faith. A mere preaching which is not accompanied by the expectation of faith, is not a true preaching of the Gospel, because faith is a part of the Gospel. Simply to scatter the seed, with a sort of vague hope that some of it may come up somewhere, is not preaching the gospel. It is indeed a misrepresentation of the gospel. To preach the Gospel requires that the preacher should believe that he is sent to those whom he is addressing at the moment, because God has among them those whom He is at the moment calling: it requires that the speaker should expect a response.”
—Roland Allen, Missionary Methods—St. Paul’s or Ours? (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1962), p. 74

Pray with us as we expect great things from our great God and His great Gospel. And as we pray, may we preach and live with great expectations!

Monday, June 11, 2012

A Little Misunderstanding (starring Hosanna)

I am never really surprised by anything that Hosanna says because I have come to expect the unexpected. It is just how Hosanna operates. But even I was not ready for what she said the other day...

We were both laying on the bed and just talking and joking with one another; telling stories and really just enjoying our time together. And in the midst of our great time I said, "Hosanna, when we get to Senegal you are going to be the prettiest white girl in the whole village." I meant what I said with all of my heart and expected my words to be met with Hosanna's characteristic grin. But that's not what happened. Not even close.

Instead, with a look of great surprise, she said, "When we get to Africa I am not going to be white. I am going to be black." And then I was the one with the look of great surprise. I started to laugh and I said, "Hosanna, you are not going to be black in Africa. You will always be a white girl."

But she did not find this nearly as humorous as I did. She then began to cry and adamantly said, "I am going to be black in Africa!" Ezra, who upon hearing the conversation had walked into the room, looked at me and said, "What are you going to do with this one, Dad?" Frankly, I was not quite sure! It never occurred to Gayle or I that Hosanna would ever think that she was going to become black once we got to Africa. But Hosanna was absolutely convinced that upon our arrival her skin was going to transform and turn black and she would look just like the other children there in the village.

After some time (picture big tears and a four-year-old saying, "But I want to be black!") we were able to sufficiently console and instruct the heartbroken Hosanna. She accepted the fact that God had made her as a girl with light skin and He had a divine purpose in that. We encouraged her that while her skin would always be white, we were thankful that God had given her a heart for a people who were a little bit different than her. Together we thanked Him that even though He was not going to change our skin, He has and will continue to change our hearts and lives as He unites them with a people who need the Gospel. And all the while, in my own heart, I thanked God for a "color-blind" daughter and for the hope of the Gospel for all men. "Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight." Now that is Good News!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Some Things Never Change

Today I was looking through an old journal of mine from about a year ago and found some thoughts on Hebrews 13:8 and change. My journal isn't dated, but I am pretty sure that I wrote this as we were making our transition from Idaho and the pastorate to Florida and preparing for the mission field. Hebrews 13:8 says, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever."

Here are a few thoughts from my journal entry:

  • Because Jesus never changes change can be okay. Jesus always loves His church and will always care for His church; that will never change. In the midst of change we must think biblically and hope biblically.
  • This verse and the unchanging nature of Jesus stand in stark contrast to life because life seems to always be in a state of change.
  • In the midst of change God's agenda is for you to trust.
  • Verses like Hebrews 13:8 are in the Bible so that you can have something to anchor your life to. These types of verses are meant to build and strengthen faith.
  • Faith means trusting God so much that you obey. The evidence of faith is radical obedience.
  • What do you do in the midst of change and uncertainty? You get serious!
    • Serious about seeking God
    • Serious about focus
    • Serious about Jesus
    • Serious about serving
      • Jesus and others
    • Serious about building relationships
    • Serious about faith
      • Hope that is anchored in the unchanging Christ
    • Serious about love
      • If it is not motivated by love do not do it
      • Is this an expression of my love for Jesus and my love for others?
        • If it truly is, then do it with all of your heart
        • If it is not, then repent and love

Over the last year since I wrote those words our family has seen more change than any of us have ever experienced or imagined. But Jesus has remained the same through it all. Some things never change!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Notre Presentation en Francais

Last Sunday our church here in Sherbrooke, L'Eau Vive, dedicated the entire morning service to missions and allowed us to be a small part. We are constantly amazed by the grace of God in our lives. Who would have imagined that we would ever be in Canada speaking in a church in French about our ministry in Senegal, West Africa! God is always good and always amazing. 

Below are five really short video clips from our presentation. Thank you for your role in getting us here so that we could study French in order to share the Good News to those in great need in Senegal!

Monday, April 9, 2012

"Un, Deux, Trois, Quatre...Yea, Baby!"

This is a short video clip from a month or so ago at our apartment. It is an exciting Friday night and we are playing "Go Fish" with our great friend Claudine and she is making the kids speak French. Of course, Hosanna adds some spice to the game!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

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!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Christ Who Is Our Life

One of the challenges of life is living it with a total Christ-centered perspective. Colossians 3:3-4 gives us some instruction concerning this when it reads, “For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you will also appear with Him in glory.”

Verse 3 points to the Christian’s union with Jesus and our death with Him. When Jesus died on the cross He died as my representative, taking my place, and my death. Now, through my union with Him by faith, I have already died. I am now dead to the penalty of sin, I am dead to the power of sin, and I am dead to the things of this world. I am a new creation in Christ. This is past tense showing that this is what has already happened; this is what Jesus accomplished for me on the cross.

In verse 4 Paul looks to the future and speaks about Jesus’ return. Though Jesus is now hidden, out of sight from the eyes of the world, and though our lives are now hidden in Him, there is coming a day when those things will be revealed. There is coming a day when Jesus will return and we will be made like Him and we will glorify Him. That is the future.

But we are living out our lives in the present: somewhere between Jesus dying for us and Jesus coming again. We are stuck between the past and the future in this world of the here and now. But we are to live with both perspectives in mind. Our desires and our focus and our thoughts and our minds are to reflect both the past truths and the future truths. We are to live remembering that Jesus died for us and all that we are in Christ. And we are also to live remembering that Jesus is coming again for us to glorify us and to bring us to be with Him forever. We are to live with both the past and the future in mind. And as we do that it should transform our living and cause us to have a true Christ-centered perspective.

But the key to it all is to live all of our lives remembering that it is Christ who is our life. Jesus does not merely give life; for the Christian Jesus is life. Jesus cannot just be a part of my life that gets pulled out and lived out on Sunday mornings. For the believer Jesus is their life! And that truth must change everything.