Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas in English... it wasn't always that way

I am currently reading Tyndale: The Man Who Gave God an English Voice by David Teems, and will put a full review in the books section when I finish. It is one of those biographies that you don't want to put down. Very well written. I came across this excerpt from Luke 2 and thought it would be fitting for everyone to read the Christmas story as heard for the first time in English. (John Wycliffe translated an English Bible in the 1300s but it was translated from the Latin Vulgate. Tyndale was the first to translate from the original Greek into a common English that everyone could readily understand.) Tyndale was ultimately burned at the stake as a heretic for his efforts. But much of the KJV was taken directly from his work done in the early 1500s. Thank God for inspiring his work.

"And she brought forth her fyrst begotten sonne and wrapped him in swadlynge cloothes and layed him in a manger because ther was no roume for them in the ynne. And ther were in the same region shepherdes abydinge in the felde and watching their flocke by nyght. And loo: the angell of ye [the] lorde stode harde by them and the brightnes of ye lorde shone rounde aboute them and they were soare afrayed. But the angell sayd vnto them: Be not afrayed. For beholde I bringe you tydinges of greate ioye yt shal come to all ye people: for vnto you is borne this daye in the cite [city] of David a saveoure which is Christ ye [the] lorde. And take this for a signe: ye shall fynde ye [the] chylde swadled and layed in a manger."

Luke 2:7-12 William Tyndale New Testament 1526

Everyone should know this story and without having to learn another language.

May your Christmas be filled with the celebration of Jesus Christ - God in flesh come to redeem mankind.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Holy Illuminated

"Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path."  Psalm 119:105

Where would we be without the Word of God lighting our paths?

In the dark.

Millions of people all over the world are in the dark. I get very scared in the dark, don't you? I usually find myself standing very still until someone holds my hand and leads me to the light. That is what Patrick and I want to be, a hand leading someone from darkness to light. See, the light set me free. It opened up paths of righteousness and delivered me from a life of just standing still. In Christ, the "True Light," (John 1:9), I am enlightened to the pleasures of God. Through Him I know what God desires for me.  I have victory over darkness because the dark can not comprehend the light (John 1:5). That is power, my friends:

Direction and Defeat. 

"No one, after lighting a lamp, puts it away in a cellar nor under a basket, but on the lampstand, so that those who enter may see the light."  Luke 11:33

Why would I want to keep this light to myself? Everyday I want to sit under its warmth. I lay out my blanket  and lay back with my basket full and feast upon every word. There is where I find peace, joy, and complete satisfaction. Just me, my Bible, and my prayers - my idea of a perfect day.  To think of not having this - I would rather die.

Those same millions that are in the dark are doing just that - dying without the light. The god of this world has blinded them, so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ (2 Corinthians 4:4). Light that I carry around without fear of it ever being extinguished. Light that I proclaim to everyone around me as the "only Way, Truth, and Life."  So, what am I going to do with my light? Head to Africa.  I am going to love and live in a world that is not my own but one that God will show me.

I will spend my life sharing my light so that others can spread out their own blanket or share a spot on mine. And together we will feast on the Word.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

With My Hands Lifted High

 This is a song that I sing daily.

Join me in praising our Faithful God!

Monday, December 12, 2011

For You I Wait All The Day

December has brought, for our family, a period of waiting. We are waiting for direction. We are waiting for provision. We are waiting to leave. Wait. Wait. Wait. Every corner that I turn, every new day that I awaken what is lurking for me is wait. I am horrible at the wait. I was raised in the "get-it-now" generation.

So in my mind I am finding it hard to grasp the periods of wait that are written for us in the gospel. Wait for the word, Wait for the star, Wait for the child. How agonizing this must have been for all involved. Not the perfect smile pictured nativity that we are all fed this time of year. We are able to conveniently turn the page in the gospel of Luke and see the story unfold it all of its glory, but I know that Mary and Joseph had to wait. So, too, Patrick and I must wait. We must be ready to go at a moments notice. We can't be concerned about accommodations. We can't determine how long we will stay. We just have to patiently wait. So, what do we do in the wait?

Psalm 25:5 says, "Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; for You I wait all the day."

Jesus is in the wait

He is the light for my day, the water for my thirst, and the warm, savory, bread that nourishes my soul. If doing the will of God and accomplishing His work was enough food for Jesus (John 4:34) then it is enough for me. So, the wait is not a byproduct of the call. It is a vital part of the call. It is in the wait where trust is tested. It is in the wait where faith grows. It is in the wait where love manifests and multiplies. It is here where the foundation is laid so that all that God desires to accomplish through you can achieve its end.

Just like Mary and Joseph, who knew what God was doing through them, to the rest of the world it seemed like madness. A marriage unfit. A child conceived out of lies and deception. For them their period of wait had to have been agonizing. Oh,come Oh, come Emmanuel were the words that she cried out silently. Begging God to speed up His long awaited gift so that she could be redeemed and return back to her life with Joseph.

I, too, find myself crying out before the Lord, " I have waited my whole life for this, why do I have to wait?" "Why are the days long and the trials and temptations more than I can bear?" "Are you truly going to fulfill in me all that you have revealed and promised?" "Oh, come Oh, come Emmanuel!" It is at this point that the Holy Spirit softly speaks words of comfort over me through the word just like he did to Mary. "The Lord is with you." (Luke 1:28) That is when I take in a deep breath and can accept the challenges that are here today in the wait. The Lord is with me. 

And for Him I will wait all the day.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Jesse Tree

"Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, And a branch from his roots will bear fruit. The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him, The spirit of wisdom and understanding, The spirit of counsel and strength, The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD." - Isaiah 11:1-2 NASB

Advent  has begun and around our house we are counting down the days until we celebrate the birth of our Savior. Last year we picked up a resource from to use during Advent.

If you subscribe to her blog, you will get a link to the Jesus Advent devotional (redistribution any other way is expressly forbidden or I would just post ours here). It has paper ornaments for your Jesse Tree (you have to make your own tree) and a family devotional for each day leading up to and including Christmas.

Our Jesse Tree with all the ornaments

I freehanded a tree on some MDF and cut it out with a jigsaw. I wanted to paint the top of the stump a lighter shade of brown, but ran out of time. Maybe I'll add that this year.

If you make a Jesse Tree, I will warn you to take into consideration how many ornaments it needs to hold. I made ours without much planning and they barely fit.

Each day, we read the devotional as a family and pick one of the kids to hang the corresponding ornament. We really enjoy it and I hope you do as well.

May your family have a wonderful Christmas season!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

39 and thankful...

I turn 39 today. I live a blessed life. Thought I would share a few of the things I am thankful for. These are not ranked (since the smell of sawdust comes before the Bible...)

1. Jesus and the cross
2. Kellee and her HUGE heart
3. Eli and his compassion for others
4. Ethan and his enthusiasm
5. Emilee and her creativity
6. Elliot and his hugs
7. Evan and his big smile
8. Eden and her mischievous spirit
9. Mom for showing me God is real
10. Louis for encouraging me to pursue computers
11. Memaw's bear hugs
12. Papaw teaching me how to work
13. Dad's warm personality
14. Lena's kind nature
15. Jean's relentless pursuit of Truth
16. Bob entrusting his daughter to me
17. Friends who care
18. A long awaited baby Bentley
19. The smell of sawdust
20. The Bible in my heart language
21. Bacon, eggs and toast
22. Time spent in prayer
23. Good coffee (French pressed)
24. Hymns
25. Memories of my older brother
26. A bike ride
27. A walk with my wife
28. My Kindle
29. Building Legos with my kids
30. Hearing the prayers of my children
31. The fact that God can use us despite our brokenness
32. Family and friends near and far (but always close to our hearts)
33. Health
34. The kindness of others
35. Pumpkin pie and Cool Whip (saturated fat and hydrogenated oil, mmmmmm  good)
36. A best friend for a wife
37. Six great kids who are so understanding
38. LOVE
39. That first Sunday when the tomb was empty…

God has been good to me. Much more than I deserve.

"Indeed, You have made my days [as] handbreadths, And my age [is] as nothing before You; Certainly every man at his best state [is] but vapor." Psalm 39:5 NKJV

"You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away." James 4:14b NASB

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Missionary Penny

Now you can always remember to pray for a missionary when you see a penny...

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Join me in "singing with the Stars and Whales"

Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD from the heavens; Praise Him in the heights!
Praise Him, all His angels; Praise Him, all His hosts!
Praise Him, sun and moon; Praise Him, all stars of light!
Praise the LORD from the earth, Sea monsters and all deeps;   Psalm 148 (various verses)

Are you ready to praise the God of the universe? I hope you found time this past week to spend with Him.

Below is my favorite video on the web at the moment. I can't watch it and not stand amazed at our God.

(If you can't watch the whole thing, jump to the 10 min mark where he puts it all together.)

Louie Giglio Stars Whales Mashup from Ryan Sarpalius on Vimeo.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

God will provide - even in a Cracker Barrel off I-95

That's catchy. Maybe someone can work that into a song.

On our way home from training in Orlando, we stopped for dinner at a Cracker Barrel (Friday is fish day - we recommend going with the cod). After sitting in the van for so long, Eden was more in the mood for a place with a playground, but we wanted a real meal. She was a little feisty at first and I told Kellee maybe we should go. But Kellee said she would take her for a walk. Unbeknownst to us, there was an older lady sitting at the next table watching. The cashier came over to us later and said, "Did you know her?" And we said, "Who?" She said the lady sitting next to us paid for our ticket on her way out. She didn't want us to know who she was. Just a sweet gesture.

Well, that's not all. After Eden had settled down and we were having a great meal another older lady came to our table. She said she was from Pennsylvania (rules out an angelic visit) and that she had a neighbor who had 12 children and she liked to help them out too. She stuck a folded bill in my hand. We told her how nice she was and about what we are doing and where we had been.

The cashier must have been watching us because she came shooting over after the lady left and asked if we knew her too. We said no and got to share with the cashier what we are doing. It was neat.

I thought about staying around for a while longer, but we needed to get on to our hotel for the night. When I got to the van I checked and she had given us $100!

It was another reassurance that our Sovereign God is faithful. He knows our needs and He truly will provide.

And if anybody needs directions to that Cracker Barrel, let me know...  ;-)

"And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus."
Philippians 4:19

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Jesus didn’t come to die for you...

What? Are you serious? I know. It came as a shock to me too. After all these years of society and even the church telling me it was all about me.

David Platt from Radical :
If you ask most people, they would say, "The message of Christianity is that God loves me enough to send his Son, Jesus, to die for me.”
As wonderful as this sentiment sounds, is it biblical? Isn’t it incomplete, based on what we have seen in the Bible? “God loves me” is not the essence of biblical Christianity. Because if “God loves me” is the message of Christianity, then who is the object of Christianity?
God loves me.
Christianity’s object is me...
The message of biblical Christianity is not “God loves me, period,” as if we were the object of our own faith. The message of biblical Christianity is “God loves me so that I might make him—his ways, his salvation, his glory, and his greatness—known among all nations.” Now God is the object of our faith, and Christianity centers around him. We are not the end of the gospel; God is."

What we need to tell people is it's not about "you." Francis Chan said the story moving throughout history is about God, not us. In the movie of life, we are extras that get the back of our head seen for a fraction of a second.

God did all this, creation through restoration, for His glory. 

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace... to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory." Eph 1:3-7, 12

If you are thinking, "Wow. That sounds like a really selfish God. You mean He did all this so we would praise Him?" Here's how John Piper would answer that:
"For many people, this is not obviously an act of love. They do not feel loved when they are told that God created them for his glory. They feel used. This is understandable given the way love has been almost completely distorted in our world. For most people, to be loved is to be made much of. Almost everything in our Western culture serves this distortion of love. We are taught in a thousand ways that love means increasing someone's self-esteem. Love is helping someone feel good about themselves. Love is giving someone a mirror and helping him like what he sees.

This is not what the Bible means by the love of God. Love is doing what is best for someone. But making self the object of our highest affections is not best for us. It is, in fact, a lethal distraction. We were made to see and savor God-and savoring him, to be supremely satisfied, and thus spread in all the world the worth of his presence. Not to show people the all-satisfying God is not to love them. To make them feel good about themselves when they were made to feel good about seeing God is like taking someone to the Alps and locking them in a room full of mirrors."

If you want to get out of your "room full of mirrors" and get a passion for God, go listen to Louie Giglio's message at the "Finish the Mission" conference. It comes as close as I have ever heard in describing the process I went through last year when God began a work in my heart - and got really BIG in my life. It is around an hour, but I promise you, it is well worth it. Take an evening this week and turn off the t.v. and get a glimpse of how BIG your God is. And join me in "singing with the stars and the whales."

Louie Giglio Video Link

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Sneak peek at prayer card photo

Our church was sweet enough to offer to make prayer cards for us to hand out. Britt Dillard who is an incredible man of God and servant took some great pictures of us. Here is our favorite. Much thanks to a loving church family!

P.S. They should be ready by the Global MPACT Celebration if not sooner.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Welcome to Musoma !

So here is the actual project where we will be working. This clip will give you a great idea of what's involved in Bible translation and you get to see several of the people working there.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

New Banner for the Blog!

So, I finally got some pictures of us on here. Needless to say it is quite a feat getting eight smiling faces in a picture. I found a couple of neat pieces of software to do "green screen." They are both free. One is the program (not to be confused with the normal Windows Paint program) found here and the other is a Chroma-key plug-in for found here. Basic instructions for using it are on this website. I made everyone get in front of a green sleeping bag one at a time, and took their pictures. Then I used the software to remove the green backgrounds. Last step was to combine all the individual pictures with a new background. I think it looks pretty good. And WE ARE ALL SMILING and NO ONE IS BLINKING!

I also used them to make this 4x6 picture to hand out at the Global MPACT Celebration next month:

Hope you enjoy the pictures and the software if you try it. We have been busy in the evenings with our online training course, but I will try to get some more updates on here soon.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Global MPACT Celebration @ FBS

Missionaries from all over the world will be coming to First Baptist Spartanburg next month to share in what God is doing. The celebration is from Oct 8th - 12th. Here is the video we shared about Bible Translation in the worship service this past Sunday...

How will you respond?

"After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb"  Rev 7:9 NASB

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A new work of Love

Back when we started this journey, I came across some precious truth from a man called A.W. Tozer. His book The Pursuit of God is a must-read. Here is an excerpt from the first chapter "Following Hard After God."

     When religion has said its last word, there is little that we need other than God Himself. The evil habit of seeking God-and effectively prevents us from finding God in full revelation. In the "and" lies our great woe. If we omit the "and," we shall soon find God, and in Him we shall find that for which we have all our lives been secretly longing.
     When the Lord divided Canaan among the tribes of Israel Levi received no share of the land. God said to him simply, "I am thy part and thine inheritance," and by those words made him richer than all his brethren, richer than all the kings and rajas who have ever lived in the world. And there is a spiritual principle here, a principle still valid for every priest of the Most High God.”
     The man who has God for his treasure has all things in One. Many ordinary treasures may be denied him, or if he is allowed to have them, the enjoyment of them will be so tempered that they will never be necessary to his happiness. Or if he must see them go, one after one, he will scarcely feel a sense of loss, for having the Source of all things he has in One all satisfaction, all pleasure, all delight. Whatever he may lose he has actually lost nothing, for he now has it all in One, and he has it purely, legitimately and forever.”
     God is so vastly wonderful, so utterly and completely delightful that He can, without anything other than Himself, meet and overflow the deepest demands of our total nature, mysterious and deep as that nature is.”

O God, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need of further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still. Show me Thy glory, I pray Thee, that so I may know Thee indeed. Begin in mercy a new work of love within me. Say to my soul, "Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away." Then give me grace to rise and follow Thee up from this misty lowland where I have wandered so long. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

May we all be so consumed by our Love.

But just as it is written, "THINGS WHICH EYE HAS NOT SEEN AND EAR HAS NOT HEARD, AND which HAVE NOT ENTERED THE HEART OF MAN, ALL THAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM." For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. 1Cr 2:9-10 NASB

Friday, August 19, 2011

Is anything too hard for God?

While I was going through the Precept Upon Precept study of Covenant, I got a "Days of Praise" email from the Institute for Creation Research ( with the following idea I found interesting:

Sarah "laughed" when God said that she would bear a son in her old age, but God responded: "Is any thing too hard for the LORD?" (Genesis 18:14). Many years later, the angel told the Virgin Mary that she would have a son, and she said: "How shall this be?" (Luke 1:34.) The angel replied: "With God nothing shall be impossible" (Luke 1:37).
  • Covenant began with the impossible
  • New covenant began with the impossible
God doesn’t change.

What have you seen him do lately that was impossible??

When God does the impossible, then He leaves no room for praising anything or anyone but Him.

I had lunch with a friend yesterday and I told him the same thing. The only way God gets the glory is if people look at my life and say, "He couldn't have done that on his own. God did it." He is in the business of doing the impossible, like clothing the grass, telling the seas where to stop, and selling a house in a market that is saturated with houses for sale.

It makes me think of the story of Elijah on Mount Carmel. Not only did Elijah call down fire from heaven, but before he did, he soaked the altar in water. Like the fire from heaven wasn't enough proof. He wanted wet wood. And when the fire consumed everything, there was no doubt Who did it.

"Then all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, "The LORD, He is God; the LORD, He is God."  1Kings 18:39

I have been praying since we began the journey that He would get the glory. That is my desire. As I drive through our neighborhood and see signs continuing to pop up "For Sale" I smile. A little more water on the wood...

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Twenty

So if we agree that Bible translation is a priority in missions, where is it needed most? According to a prominent Bible translation organization:
   We are reaching a critical time in history in which many of the world’s remaining Bible translation needs are located in nations that are difficult to reach. Although translation work should almost never be thought of as easy, we say that most of the “easier” translation projects have been completed. Most of the low-hanging fruit has been picked. 
     Of the remaining languages that need the Scriptures, many are located in areas where missionaries face greater obstacles and more significant risks than ever before. Often, these language communities cannot be mentioned by name for fear  of jeopardizing the safety of translators and their work. For intercessors, the limited availability of information can make the call to prayer daunting.
   A new prayer initiative, The Twenty, addresses these challenges, encouraging U.S. churches to pray for the twenty countries with the greatest remaining need for translation. We firmly believe that, by bathing each country in prayer, the gospel will go forth, the Scriptures will be translated and nations will be transformed.

1) Papua New Guinea
2) Nigeria
3) Indonesia
4) China
5) India
6) Democratic Republic of the Congo
7) Cameroon
8) Vanuatu
9) Nepal
10) Chad
11) Vietnam
12) Tanzania
13) Iran
14) Myanmar
15) Mexico
16) Central African Republic
17) Russia
18) Sudan
19) Malaysia
20) Pakistan
Please join us in praying for the nations needing scripture translation, and specifically Tanzania. Below is a Prayercast video for Tanzania. Well worth the 2 minutes. Thank you.

And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation."  Mark 16:15

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The "Top 5"

"Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.” John 17:17

In light of the urgent spiritual need around the world, where do we start? Where do we focus our efforts? Paul Eschelman, vice-president of Campus Crusade for Christ (recently changed to Cru) and founder of the JESUS film project, lends his advice for the prioritization of mission work. Here is his “Top 5,” presented in Tokyo at the Global Mission Consultation and repeated at the Lausanne Congress last year:

#5  Church Planting
#4  Reaching Oral Learners
#3  Increasing Evangelization, with a focus on Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus
#2  Engaging the unengaged people groups
#1  Scripture translation

Why is scripture translation number one? Because, according to Eschelman (and I wholeheartedly agree), “it is impossible to do ministry without a Biblical foundation.”

I didn’t necessarily know who Eschelman was until I saw his quote, so you might not either. However, if you think back for a moment to all the sermons you’ve heard preached, all the “Sunday School” lessons you’ve heard taught, and all the bible studies you’ve done in small group or on your own. Then try to imagine what your life would look like today if you did not have the Bible in your heart language. It is sobering. By God’s grace, you have had access to His Word your entire life. Has there been anything more important or foundational to your walk with God (apart from God Himself)?

Faith without Depth
It’s not really easy to lead people without having a Bible,” said Pastor Timothée Balbone, President of the Assemblies of God Church in the Bissa region of Burkina Faso. “You try to teach people something, but they can’t remember what you’ve said. It’s not a happy situation. There cannot be much depth to people’s faith. So since we heard that people are coming alongside us we are rejoicing.

You know from an earlier blog how the Bible saved my life. Kept me from wasting it. It has the power to transform through the Holy Spirit (Heb 4:12). I know from personal experience. So our family is committed to going where we are needed in order to give someone else what we have had all our lives. Our desire is that generations might be changed by the Holy Spirit working in lives through the Word. The Bible says there are two things that will last for eternity – the souls of men and the word of God (1 Pet 1:23-25). We want to spend our lives for the sake of both.

Friday, July 29, 2011

We were made for a global purpose

So the map in the previous blog is of churches in our area according to Google. As many dots as there are, it is still not all, because the more you drill down the more churches Google displays. We are a churched society. Books, music, tv shows, movies, conferences. We have it all. And yet some have nothing.

There is access to the gospel in Spartanburg, SC.

Our efforts as a church need to be more global. Kellee and I picked up the slogan along the way, “No one should hear twice until everyone has heard once.” That also applies to bible translation. We don’t need another version in English (there have been hundreds since Tyndale’s NT translation in 1526) when over 2000 languages don’t have a single word yet.

Do we even realize the urgency of this mission? That literally billions do not know? Have not heard? Will grow up, live their lives and die having never heard about Jesus? And they’re not coming to us. So we must go.

I mentioned a book that opened our eyes in the first blogRadical by David Platt. If you haven't read it, go get it. Here are some points about the urgency of the mission from that book:

• The most conservative estimate is that there are 4.5 out of 6.5 billion people in the world who do not believe in Jesus.
• We are born into sin. We stand condemned to hell unless we CHOOSE Christ. Regardless of whether someone told us he exists. If not, then the last thing we should do is tell people, right? Keep quiet and everyone gets a free pass. But that is not biblical.
• Romans 10:13-15 says, “13 For "whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." 14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!"
     Now, obviously, if people can’t come to God apart from faith in Christ, then this truth is not encouraging for those who have never heard of Christ. Many conclude at this point, “I don’t know how, but surely God will make a way for these millions of people to get to heaven even if they haven’t heard about Jesus.” In the emotional pull of the question, we long for there to be a way for those who have not heard to be saved. We are sure that God in his love would not allow them to go to hell when they haven’t even heard of Jesus. Again, we need to be careful to consider the ramifications of such a conclusion. If we conclude that people can get to heaven apart from faith in Christ, then this would mean there is something else they can do to get to heaven. Such a conclusion would not only undercut the previous truth we saw in Romans; it would also be tantamount to saying to Jesus, “Thank you for what you did on the cross, but we could have gotten to God another way.”
     Some wonder if it is unfair for God to allow so many to have no knowledge of the gospel. But there is no injustice in God. The injustice lies in Christians who possess the gospel and refuse to give their lives to making it known among those who haven’t heard. That is unfair.
• We are His ambassadors. There is no plan B. We are to take the message to all.

I wonder if maybe God placed us in a culture saturated with access to biblical truth in order to raise up a generation of people who could take that message around the world? We have the ability and the opportunity. Do we have the desire?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Any ideas?

Feel free to leave a comment if you think you know what I'm mapping.

And for those of you who are not from around here, yes we have a place called "Cowpens."

To be continued...

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Are you crazy?

That is the question lurking in the backs of some peoples’ minds. For those who voice it, it usually comes out like this, “You’re going to Africa with six kids???”

Yes we are.

I mentioned in another post that God is sovereign and I am a firm believer now. God was preparing our hearts long before Africa was even a thought. When we were first married, Kellee must have told me a thousand times she felt like she was supposed to homeschool our kids. I fought it. After all, I went to public school and look how good I turned out, right? But God never let go of her heart. Fast forward to elementary school and Eli is in kindergarten (Ethan and Emilee are still little and the others not even born yet). By the middle of the year, God had moved on my heart, and I also wanted him to be homeschooled (I bet Kellee was praying about THAT, too). Kellee is a great teacher, and homeschooling really works for us.

“You’re homeschooling six children?”

Yes we are.

In God’s sovereignty, He opens and closes wombs (Gen 29:31, Gen 30:2, Gen 30:22, 1 Sam 1:5-6, Psalm 127:3). I’m not sure Kellee and I ever planned specifically for six, but I could not imagine life without any one of them. That is what God has given us. It is definitely not the norm as evidenced by the remarks of complete strangers:

“Don’t you know what’s causing that?”
“You need to get a different hobby.”
“Are those all your children?”
“So you're the family in the church directory that has six kids?”

Yes we are.

By all of societies’ standards, we are crazy. In fact, our blog should probably be called “those crazy Cogdills”, but we don’t live according to what society thinks is good or right or normal. We have always tried to tell the kids it is okay to be different. Don’t ever try to be something you’re not, just to fit in. So this is how God made the Cogdill family and He is sovereign. And here is the cool part -

He made us for His glory.

All that homeschooling He wouldn’t quit pursuing Kellee about? It makes us ultra-portable. We can pick up and go live in a small town in the middle of nowhere in Africa and still be fine. Sovereignty? God began preparing us for this assignment years ago.

Homeschooling has also made us a very close family. The kids are best friends with each other. They do everything together. We can move away from friends and family and even English speaking people and still be fine. Sovereignty? God has been preparing us for this assignment over the course of years.

And the fact that there’s six kids? Well, they even pair up nicely.

How God is that? The older two play together, the middle two play together and the twins… well they speak some weird language that only they know. We’re pretty sure they are up to something, we just don’t know what it is yet. And each pair shares similar interests. Only God can design that.

Fast forward to next year or early 2013. Picture all eight of us serving a people by helping bring them the Bible for the very first time. That they might all be able to know the one true God – the sovereign God who could line up events over the course of years to bring about His plans. He made us for His glory. He uniquely designed us for a purpose. In the end that is the only answer I have for you. We are going because He is worth it. And that is not crazy.

“But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.” Psalm 115:3 NASB

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Jehovah-Jireh, "God Will Provide"

"Abraham called the name of that placeThe LORD Will Provide, as it is said to this day, "In the mount of the LORD it will be provided." Gen 22:14 NASB

If you see our van driving through town, you will see this scripture painted on our windows.

The reason we put it on our van was because God provided it. We were in the process of getting out of debt to apply with a prominent Bible translation organization, so we sold our old van. The money we made off selling it was exactly what we ended up paying for this new van (if you can call a 1999 with 190,000 miles "new").

"So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions." Luke 14:33 NASB

In order for us to get out of debt, we had to sell almost all of our possessions. This was hard at first. The house became empty of everything that held the memories of our past life in this land. But as the floors, cabinets, garage, and closets became empty, our home filled with faith and trust in God, and love for a people and country yet seen. The things that we once held dear were replaced with the greatest possession of all, Christ.

God is not a genie in a bottle providing anything you ask. The fact is, He has already provided all we could ever need in Jesus. He is the treasure. When He becomes really BIG in your heart, everything else seems insignificant - like what kind of house you have, or where you live, or what you wear. Comforts and privileges that are removed hold no value in the light of His mercy and grace. What you once valued turns to filthy rags in the presence of a Holy God.

The American Dream had consumed us. There was no way to carry my cross and follow after Christ (Luke 14:27) when my hands and heart were full of stuff. So I traded a nice van for one covered in scratches and duct tape, a mattress on the floor instead of my beautiful sleigh bed, hand-washing clothes instead of a front-loading washing machine, and eating on a blanket on the floor instead of my grand table for eight. Because I desire a better country and home, that is, a heavenly one. The trinkets of this world no longer appeal to me.

Abraham had waited years for Isaac, his son, who came through the blessings of entering covenant with God. Then to find out God wanted him to sacrifice Isaac. Why? Because it is in the sacrifice and laying everything on the altar of God that He reveals to us His all-satisfying Love. A love that is better than anything we may have to give up. A love worth leaving you home or country. A love that keeps its promises.

By faith, Abraham was willing to lay Isaac down because he knew he would be bringing him back down that mountain. God had already provided for Abraham and Sarah and he knew that He would provide again. Abraham was walking by faith in future grace because of the past grace that God had shown him. I too want to walk in this faith. I will be the alien, the pauper, the outcast in this world because I consider the reproach of Christ greater riches than all the treasures of this world. (Heb 11:26)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Being taught how to fly

“Let me hear Your lovingkindness in the morning; For I trust in You; Teach me the way in which I should walk; For to You I lift up my soul.” Psalm 143:8 NASB

When we started down this road over a year ago, the hardest thing I struggled with was TRUST. A year later I am still working this out on a daily basis. I am the poster-child for moderation, safety, and routine. I stray very little from the known, tangible and predictable. Just ask Kellee. So when God began tugging on my heart about missions, He was making a quick cut. No bothering with low-hanging fruit. He went right for the jugular.

Do I trust Him?

Will I give Him my life? Without limits? That is what He requires, right? Can I call Him, “Lord,” and still do my own thing? It doesn’t look that way in the New Testament and I know that in my head, but it is slowly working its way to my heart. To really put feet to it is another thing - like walking away from a good paying job for one that pays nothing, or selling everything and “going to a land I will show you.” Who lives like that?

So I find myself in a completely unknown place right now. Like all the things I ever knew and trusted in were removed and all that is left is God. That’s a great place to be and that’s a scary place to be. It is so hard to let go. Ask Kellee, she will tell you I am the guy who “crunches the numbers.” So to think of no guaranteed paycheck, is a stretch for me. All the little ways I have tried in the past to be in control of my own future or circumstances, but now God is saying, “Trust in Me with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In everything you do seek Me first, and I will guide you.” Proverbs 3:5-6

Oh how I like to lean on my own understanding (and spreadsheets).

But my understanding only sees what is directly in front of me. And it is flawed because I am wrapped in this mortal flesh which constantly seeks its own. God has my full lifetime in perspective. He is shaping my character to be fitting for the eternity we have to spend together.

I had a poster in college that said, “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” (Corrie Ten Boom).  Therein lies the key. God is the known in all this. To quote the missionary Karen Watson, “I was not called to a place, but to Him.” When I find myself struggling, I can read God’s promises in the Bible and it breathes back into my heart the reassurance that He is sovereign and He is faithful. I am reminded that it is ultimately not about me – it’s about Him. It’s about displaying His worth to a world that does not know Him and more specifically to people that cannot pick up a Bible and read those precious promises I hold so dear. In the Mara region of Tanzania alone, there are nine language groups whose only access to the Word is what they hear on Sunday in a language not their own (most church is in Swahili, not the local heart languages – the language people grew up speaking and in which they express emotion). Someone described it like, “trying to eat soup with a fork. We can get a little taste, but cannot get nourished.”

So I am gently reminded that I have the Bible in my heart language, the Holy Spirit inside, and Jesus praying for me to the Father – wow, I can live like that!

"When you get to the end of all the light you know, and it's time to step into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing that one of two things shall happen: either you will be given something solid
to stand on, or you will be taught how to fly."  --- Edward Teller

May I hold loosely to the things of this world but tightly to Him. (1 Tim 6:7-11) In whatever state I find myself may I be content because that is where He would have me be. (Phil 4:11-12)

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Happy 4th of July Everyone!

Kellee decided we should have a "camp-in" and watch movies until late in the night. We got some super hero movies from the library...

We are celebrating the freedom our country affords to worship our God without persecution. May we remember that many don't have this privilege. God Bless.

"First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity."  1 Timothy 2:1-2

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

God is the Gospel

"This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”   John 17:3 NASB

“The gospel of Christ is the good news that at the cost of his Son’s life, God has done everything necessary to enthrall us with what will make us eternally and ever-increasingly happy—namely, himself.”   --- John Piper

God is the "good news." Jesus came and died that we might have access to the throne room of heaven. God is the reward, not a means to an end. If you came so you could avoid hell, or so you could see your loved ones in heaven, then you came for the wrong reason. Even worse, if you came thinking you would be blessed with health, wealth and prosperity here on earth then you have been tragically misled.

A.W. Tozer said it like this:

"When the Lord divided Canaan among the tribes of Israel, Levi received no share of the land. God said to him simply, "I am thy part and thine inheritance," and by those words made him richer than all his brethren, richer than all the kings and rajas who have ever lived in the world. And there is a spiritual principle here, a principle still valid for every priest of the Most High God.

The man who has God for his treasure has all things in One. Many ordinary treasures may be denied him, or if he is allowed to have them, the enjoyment of them will be so tempered that they will never be necessary to his happiness. Or if he must see them go, one after one, he will scarcely feel a sense of loss, for having the Source of all things he has in One all satisfaction, all pleasure, all delight. Whatever he may lose he has actually lost nothing, for he now has it all in One, and he has it purely, legitimately and forever.

God is so vastly wonderful, so utterly and completely delightful that He can, without anything other than Himself, meet and overflow the deepest demands of our total nature, mysterious and deep as that nature is.”

If God is all there is in heaven, would you still want to go?

"Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." Psalm 73:25-26 ESV

Monday, June 27, 2011

If You Want Something Different, Then Pray For What You Have!

"Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you." Mark 11: 24 NASB

Two and a half years ago this is what I did. I embarked on a prayer journey for Patrick. Each day, walking in faith, that the requests that I made known to God on Patrick's behalf would be granted. And boy were they!
I had always prayed for Patrick but not persistently and definitely not expectantly. I would pray but underneath those prayers were ulterior motives. I would pray for God to heal but I wanted to supply the bandage. I would pray for God to move but I wanted to push. Are you getting the picture? I forgot that there were three in this marriage not two. I knew that our love had been formed from God and blessed by God but this Man was MINE! It was up to me, not the Holy Spirit, to convict, challenge, and form this handsome devil into exactly what I thought he should be.This was wrong on so many levels! So, after years of disastrous attempts to mold and make my sweet husband into what I thought he needed to be, God revealed to me that I had what I needed right in front of me! This revelation came during a pregnancy. During this time came true redemption for my husband and opened my eyes to the man that God had placed in my arms to love and cherish for a lifetime. God showed me that He possessed the power to convict and change lives. He assured me that if I would trust in Him, He would take care of the rest!

You see, two and a half years ago, God saw fit to bless our home with a set of fraternal twins. We already had four children and were busy but very fulfilled. Now we began planning to expand our family and stretch our budget on one income. I became so enormous that I had to move into the nursery so that Patrick and I could both get some sleep. One night as I lay there unable to go to bed, the Holy Spirit laid upon my heart my precious Patrick. I knew that he carried a large load supporting a family of six. Now, he was going to have two more mouths to feed, clothe and diaper.
Double Gulp!

I saw the stress increase in Patrick's life and knew that something had to change. That something was ME! I went to God and asked Him what I needed to do and for once in my life I listened. He spoke clear and loud, PRAY FOR HIM! He told me to pray for him for a year and for him alone. I was to pray for him from his head down to his toes and once I was done repeat again, again, and again. So, I embarked on a year long prayer pilgrimage for my husband. Morning, noon, and night I prayed for this dear man. After a year of removing myself from the picture and replacing it with God's unchanging Word, the glorious healing occurred. Gone were the days where I thought I knew best. Gone was the nagging, questioning, and interjections into our relationship. I prayed for God to rain down on him, and honey, He sent a tsunami! I remember the night so well when I finally had enough nerve(strength from the Holy Spirit) to confront Patrick with what God had called me to do over the past year. He was speechless. He looked at me with the most humble expression on his face. I told him what I had been praying and why I was called to pray. Then it happened. Right before my eyes! The old Patrick was transformed through the power of forgiveness and redemption that only Christ can deliver. It was truly amazing and even now it brings good ol' chill bumps! My hubby who I share life and breath with felt forgiven and empowered like I have never seen in anyone before. I believe, I believe, I believe in the power of prayer! Can I get an Amen!

In that year I learned that God is enough. He is all we need. He is my treasure. Nothing that I do or have my hands in has any value. I am flawed and He is perfect. As much as I love my husband, God loves him more! Hallelujah! I wanted my husband to be the biblical head of our home but how could I know what that looked like apart from what the scripture says? Oh, friend, it is beautiful. It is rich and sustaining and completes me as a woman. Knowing that I can turn to my best friend and hold hands and pray is indescribable. Reading and studying God's Word for hours each morning together is power. Isn't it just like God to take your requests and provide an answer that is one million times better than what you asked for?! The changes that I wanted for Patrick would have been comfortable but God changed him Radically!

As you have read, we have since answered a call to full time vocational missionary service. We are on an incredible journey and to be apart of Bible translation is awesome! The Word prayed, studied, and cried out, changed our home. We could not imagine not being able to study each and every day. Our prayer is to use our bodies as a living sacrifice to help put Bibles in as many languages as possible. Please continue to pray for our family in this endeavor.

My prayer for you, is that you will commit to pray for your spouse and let God have complete control over him/her. Let Him have the glory in your marriage and your home. I am going to leave you with a word from Kay Arthur. I would challenge you to order an Inductive Bible Study and experience for yourself how to have a marriage without regret! God Bless you my friend!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Inductive Bible Study Saved My Life

" I lie in the dust; revive me by your word."  Psalm 119:25 NLT

I am an answer to prayer. Much prayer. Long-awaited prayer. Kellee will tell you how she prayed for me for an entire year. I know her. She is a prayer warrior and she was praying long before that. She talks to her Father like a best friend. So I know she has poured out her heart about me for some time. It was a little more than a year ago that I was in “cruise control” - what I call "Easy Christianity." A couple hours on Sunday morning was plenty of time to give God. The other 166 hours of the week were mine. Kellee was praying for some unresolved issues in my life and God began working on my heart. Of all the blessings God has given me, I can say without a doubt, the best was my soulmate. He knew how weak I am. I need her. She is relentless in her pursuit of God. She helped me work through my past and then encouraged me to get into inductive bible study -- and it has transformed my life.  She has been doing Precept Upon Precept studies for a while and she kept talking about how different they were and how much she liked studying inductively. I saw her marking up her bible with colored pencils and cross-referencing scripture with scripture and it looked fun. I started on a study of the book of Ruth, “Don’t Despair. There’s Hope. You Have a Kinsman Redeemer.” I spent every morning for a month alone with God, digging in His Word, seeing His beautiful plan of redemption from start to finish. The Word washed over me and restored my soul.

As I was reading about George Mueller (the man who started orphanages trusting solely on God for provision), I discovered the same thing changed his life.

“The first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was, to have my  soul happy in the Lord. The first thing I did, after having asked in a few words the Lord’s blessing upon His precious Word, was to begin to meditate on the Word of God; searching, as it were, into every verse, to get blessing out of it; for the sake of obtaining food for my own soul. The result I have found to be almost invariably this, that after a very few minutes my soul has been led to confession, or to thanksgiving, or to intercession, or to supplication; so that though I did not, as it were, give myself to prayer, but to meditation, yet it turned almost immediately more or less into prayer. The result of this is, that there is always a good deal of confession, thanksgiving, supplication, or intercession mingled with my meditation, and that my inner man almost invariably is even sensibly nourished and strengthened and that by breakfast time, with rare exceptions, I am in a peaceful if not happy state of heart.
     It often now astonished me that I did not sooner see this. In no book did I ever read about it. No public ministry ever brought the matter before me. No private intercourse with a brother stirred me up to this matter. And yet now, since God has taught me this point, it is as plain to me as anything, that the first thing the child of God has to do morning by morning is to obtain food for his inner man. Now what is the food for the inner man: not prayer, but the Word of God: and here again not the simple reading of the Word of God, so that it only passes through our minds, just as water runs through a pipe, but considering what we read, pondering over it, and applying it to our hearts.…”

Inductive bible study takes time. Time to find key words and phrases. Time to mark and cross-reference. All that time allows the word to soak in. And that is when God speaks to your heart, and it is sweet. If you want to know more about it, ask Kellee or me. Shelly Mabry leads them regularly at church as well. We would love to help you get started.

Are we as a church content with being spoonfed, when we could be feasting on the Word?
“It is a solemn thing, and no small scandal in the Kingdom, to see God's children starving while actually seated at the Father's table.”   ---  A. W. Tozer

Friday, June 17, 2011

The role of support workers in Bible translation

For those of you we have spoken to, here are the videos we showed so you can see them again (and hopefully be able to read the captioning). If you cannot get the video to "fullscreen," you can click on the "YouTube" to watch on YouTube website. You can "fullscreen" it there.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

what's in a name?

The title of our blog “selling everything to buy a field” comes from the scripture about a man finding a treasure in a field. With joy he sells all that he has to go buy the field. To everyone looking on, it seems crazy. But the man knows what he has found. He knows what he will gain. He is not giving up anything. He sells everything with joy to buy it. That story is about the kingdom of God. It is a story about salvation, restoration, joy in the presence of our Creator God. It’s about discovering an all-satisfying Treasure that makes everything else in this world pale in comparison.

It parallels our real life, as we have sold almost everything to follow Him. We began a new journey a little over a year ago. God began to work in our hearts convicting us of our self-centeredness. We were pursuing the American dream. The culture we live in tells us, "You deserve it. Go buy that big screen t.v. or that nice new car. The one you have now looks old. It is not a good reflection of who you are." We bought into it. We were amassing our little pile of stuff. We were catering to our comforts. Meanwhile billions (that's with a "b") are dying without Christ. Our eyes were opened by a book called Radical: Taking Back Your Faith From the American Dream by David Platt. We were living for ourselves and ignoring the needs around us. God began moving in our hearts to stop wasting our lives and seek Him first. It was like God said, "Am I not enough? Do you really have to fill your lives with this stuff when you could have Me?"

<< insert much wrestling with God at this point >>

Kellee and I both came to the place where we said, "God, if you are all I have, that IS enough." God continued to pull and tug on our hearts, and the short version of that is, we started to apply with a prominent Bible translation organization. We were immediately stopped (and by "immediately" I mean, you can't even apply) because we had debt. God put us to the test. Did we mean it when we said He was enough? We began to aggressively payoff debt by selling all that stuff we had piled up. And by "all,' I mean all. Our house sits virtually empty. With God's help we paid off our debts by March of this year and have now completed our part of the application process. Currently, we are waiting to hear about our acceptance as members. I can honestly say we have not missed anything. We met some great people in the process and got to tell them about our real Treasure. The journey has been a joyful one.

Now we're looking toward another field...
Maybe this one???