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