Category Archives: Missions

In Awe of His Grace!


For the past few months, we have prayed and prayed that God would help us to reach our goals and make the move to GIAL in July. But, as of June, we seemed to be a very long ways from that goal. While we originally felt like God was leading us to GIAL in July, the numbers simply weren’t adding up, and so we felt God had effectively shut that door.  This, in turn, left me a bit discouraged at the prospect of having to delay our training another six months, especially since balancing my job with my ministry and family had become increasingly difficult and was placing a lot of strain on our family. It seemed as if we were battling an unseen force that simply did not want us moving forward in our ministry!

But God’s timing is immaculate. About the time that I was struggling with all of this, I read a book that just so happened to discuss spiritual warfare (And the Word Came With Power, by Joanne Shetler). Then, our men’s ministry began a study on spiritual warfare called “The Invisible War.” Then our pastor began a sermon series on spiritual warfare! I’ve learned not to believe in coincidences, especially when they happen in rapid succession and in multiples. So, I realized that clearly God was trying to teach me an important lesson about spiritual warfare.

One night in men’s ministry, we briefly discussed a passage from Daniel 10, where Daniel has a vision of an angel after having fasted for 21 days. (“Coincidentally,” I did a 21 day fast modeled after Daniel’s fast in this passage earlier this year, which is the only fast I have ever done of that type and duration.)   In Daniel’s vision, the angel gives the reason for his delayed response, which gives a telling insight into the nature of spiritual warfare and answered prayers:

“Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words. The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days, but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I was left there with the kings of Persia…”

Daniel 10:12-13 (ESV)

What I could not see in the midst of my struggles was that “from the first day that [I] set [my] heart to understand and humbled [myself] before [my] God, [my] words [had] been heard.” God had already answered my prayers. Perhaps he even dispatched an angel or two on my behalf!  Only heaven knows, but clearly there is a biblical precedent for such an idea. Whether God’s messengers were battling demons in the past couple months in order to bring about the next step in our ministry or not, I can’t be certain. But, I think that would explain a lot of the things that have been going on in our lives recently. Regardless, God has answered our prayers.

On Sunday, July 12, a generous ministry partner made a sizeable donation to our Wycliffe ministry. What they did not know was that their gift was exactly the difference between what we needed for our first semester of tuition, fees, and books at GIAL and what we had saved! The very next morning (Monday), I received an email from the Admissions department at GIAL, offering me a $1,200 scholarship if I would begin classes next week (July 22)! Jennifer and I were blown away. Could God really be moving things so that we could go to GIAL in July, like we had prayed? We prayed about it, thought about it, and consulted some of our partners for advice and prayers.  While we had enough money for our first semester, we wouldn’t have any for the second semester. Plus, we were only at 49% of our ministry budget, and we needed to be at 80% to afford our living expenses. On top of that, the fully furnished home we had reserved was rented out, and wouldn’t be available until December 21. There were other concerns we had, but those were the big ones. When we went to sleep that night, we were still very unsure about where God was leading us.

Tuesday morning we received a lot of feedback from our partners. Some encouraged us to “Go for it!” while others advised caution. Their advice was extremely helpful, but definitely served to illustrate the conundrum we were in. Around noon on Tuesday, we had found a possible housing solution, but it wasn’t great, and we had also discovered that childcare would be expensive. Fearing that this would place an even greater strain on our already greatly stretched budget, we were about to decide that we would just stay in Arkansas. And then the phone rang. It was the GIAL Housing department calling to inform us that a generous homeowner had just called in his home for rent while he was in China for a year. It was 3 bedrooms, 2 baths with a garage and a yard. Best of all, he wanted some Wycliffe missionaries to stay in it RENT FREE and just pay utilities!!! We were completely blown away. The drastic reduction in our expenses meant that we could afford to live off of about 60% of our budget while we were at GIAL! Just that day, one new partner had joined, and another increased their giving, putting us at 53%, well within range of what we would need and be able to raise in the next couple months. Plus, that meant that we would soon have a surplus, which we could save for our second semester tuition and our other launching expenses! Jennifer and I knew that we couldn’t say “no” to that, so we accepted and began making arrangements to move to Dallas in less than a week.

I sit here tonight having finished one day of packing, with only three more days to finish packing for the move to Dallas, completely flabbergasted at God’s provision. Why he would care for little old me is completely beyond my understanding. I’ve been humbled to the point of tears several times today. Today, a friend from church came and folded and stuffed our paper newsletters for us, Jennifer’s mom and aunt helped us pack, another church friend gave us $200 for moving expenses and took our newsletters to be stamped and delivered, and the men’s ministry at church prayed over me.

I am in awe of God’s grace. I don’t deserve this kind of lavish grace! I’m just a sinner! Who am I that God should bless me like this!?!? I’m nobody! I feel like Isaiah in chapter six when he was confronted with God’s glory: “I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” I’m so humbled by his grace.

Why would we give our lives to serve as missionaries in the jungles of Papua New Guinea? It’s not just because there are lost people out there.  There are lost people here, too.  It’s not because we’re adventurous–we’re not, really. It’s because this is the kind of God we serve, and we want our lives to show that he’s worth it!   He’s the kind of God who lavishes grace on “such a wretch as I.” And once you’ve met Jesus, there’s just nothing worth living for but him. He has saved me, given me a hope and a future, given me a purpose in life, forgiven my unforgivable sins, and adopted me as a son into his family, granting me an inheritance that is beyond comprehension! And just like Isaiah, the only response I can give to his grace is: “Here am I, Lord, send me!”
***Update: Since writing this post last night, we found out that I have been granted an additional $500 scholarship, and another new monthly partner just joined out team!  God is good.

What God is teaching me in the wait

Let’s face it–nobody likes to wait.  But waiting is a part of life.  Since I felt God calling me into the ministry when I was 14, I’ve been waiting to see exactly what that ministry would look like.  In the following 12 years, God has begun to reveal some of the details about the ministry he has for me, but we still have not yet began the actual process of translating scripture, and won’t for some time.  God has called us to serve in Bible translation with Wycliffe Bible Translators, but there are many steps in the journey before we can begin the process of translation.

Waiting can be frustrating at times.  “God, why can’t I just ________?  Why am I waiting right now?  What am I waiting for?  Why aren’t things happening when I thought they would?”  But, through the years and even the past few months of waiting, God has taught me some valuable lessons about waiting that I’d like to share with you so that perhaps you might be encouraged by the thread of grace in your wait.

1.  God’s timing is perfect.

It may seem cliche’, but it’s true.  To quote one of my favorite Bible teachers in my church, David Wagnon, “We’re just not that smart!”  You and I simply do not have see all the pieces in this grand puzzle called life.  In hindsight, I’m very grateful that God made me wait for some things.  Had God followed my timeline instead of his divine plan, I would not be married to my wonderful wife.  I would not have been given this wonderful ministry.  Frankly, my life would be a wreck!   Galatians 4:4 says, “But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son…”  The Earth waited thousands of years for the perfect timing of the Messiah.  Jennifer and I will get to the mission field exactly when God plans–not a moment sooner, nor a moment later.  God is always right on time.

2.  God is glorified most when things go by HIS schedule, not OURS.

Think about the Exodus.  The Hebrews were rejoicing that God had finally freed them from the tyranny of their Egyptian masters.  Then, while their backs are up against the Red Sea, here comes the Egyptian horde!  Now, of course we know how the story ends.  God parts the Red Sea and the Hebrews walk through on dry ground with the Egyptian army close on their tail.  Just as the Hebrews clear the sea, God releases the waters and the Egyptian army is destroyed.  (I’m particularly fond of the portrayal of this scene in the animated film Moses: Prince of Egypt.)

Now here’s a question you may have never thought to ask–couldn’t God have parted the Red Sea before the Hebrews arrived so that they could have just meandered through at a more leisurely pace without the Egyptian army breathing down their necks?  The Egyptian army would have arrived just in time to see Israel safely on the other side of the sea with absolutely no way of pursuing them.  (No doubt they would have been puzzled at how two million Hebrews crossed such a body of water!)  God’s people still would have been saved, and they wouldn’t have had to face the threat of death.  Why did God wait until the last moment, when it seemed there was absolutely no hope of escape?  I think the answer lies in Romans 9:17, “For Scripture says to Pharaoh: ‘I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.'”

Our lives serve one primary purpose–to bring glory and honor to our Creator.  For those like Pharaoh who spurn him, God gets glory in their perfectly timed and executed judgment.  For those like Moses who seek his face, God gets glory in their salvation in his perfect timing.  God gets glory when things happen on his seemingly impossible timeline!  Have you ever experienced an Exodus moment, where just in the nick of time God provides exactly what you needed?  That is God using you for what you were created–to bring him glory.

Faith does not operate in the realm of the possible. There is no glory for God in that which is humanly possible. Faith begins where man’s power ends.  –George Mueller

3.  God has placed you in this time and location in history for a ministry that only you can do.

Despite the fact that I am not yet in the process of translating scripture for a Bibleless people group, that doesn’t mean that I have not yet begun my ministry.  One important lesson that I’ve learned over the years is that I am NEVER to wait to begin my ministry.  It is true that I am waiting in a sense–waiting to move to Dallas to begin linguistic training, then waiting to move overseas and begin translation, and then I’ll be waiting to learn the language, etc.  But, I am not to sit idly by and wish I could be doing ministry!  Every time I share with individuals and churches about the need of Bibleless people groups, I am ministering–both as an advocate for the Bibleless and as an encourager to the church in America!  That’s ministry, and it’s an awesome ministry!  While it is true that I have not yet begun the next phase of my ministry, I cannot fall into the trap of thinking of my ministry as some future destination–it’s more of a journey with many different phases along the way.

God has gifted every single Christian with spiritual gifts that he intends for us to use wherever and whenever he has placed us.  In that sense, we should never be “waiting” to serve, but rather look for opportunities to serve right where we are, even in the midst of the waiting.  If you currently feel like you’re “waiting” to start your ministry, I encourage you to ask yourself this question: “What ministry opportunities might God be wanting me to take advantage of right here and now?  Who has God placed in my life to whom I can minister?  How can I use my spiritual gifts right where I am?”  

4.  Slow down, be patient, and be thankful for this time in your life.  It will soon be gone. 

Our natural instinct when waiting is to try to find a way to make the waiting happen more quickly.  But in so doing, we often miss a lot of important blessings that God has put in our wait.  For instance, Jennifer and I are currently waiting to begin our training in Dallas, TX at the Graduate Institute for Applied Linguistics (GIAL).  We had originally hoped to begin our training in July, but we have shifted our goal back to January in order to give us enough time to more fully develop our team of ministry partners.  While I am anxious to get to PNG soon so that we can begin the process of Bible translation, six months is not a lot of time and it will pass quickly.  I could look at this time as just a delay, or I could choose to see it as a blessing.

We have precious little time left here with our family, friends, and our church.  Once we’re gone, it could be more than three years until we see many of those people again–and some we may never see again this side of heaven.  We have counted the cost and we’re aware of the sacrifices, but perhaps it’s God’s grace that we be delayed a little while so that Jennifer can have our second little boy (Isaiah James Hill, eta Septwmber 22!) while we are here in Arkansas, surrounded by family and loved ones. Perhaps it’s God’s grace giving us six more months here with the family, friends, and church we love.  Something tells me that there will be days ahead when we will long for a few extra moments with loved ones.

5.  God uses times of waiting to strengthen us and mold us into the servants he needs us to be. 

Think of the godliest people in the Bible.  Who comes to mind?  Moses?  David?  Jesus?  Paul?  Do you know what they all have in common?  Every single one of them went through a long period of waiting to begin their ministry.  

Moses waited 40 years in Midian before beginning his ministry of leading the Hebrews out of Egypt.  Then, he wandered in the wilderness with them for another 40 years (because of their disobedience) and ultimately died in the wilderness without ever entering the Promised Land.  According to  II Samuel 5:4, “David was thirty years old when he began to reign” and he was probably about 15 when Samuel first anointed him king, which means that David waited 15 years to become king of Judah, and then an additional seven years to rule over Israel!  Jesus himself didn’t begin his official ministry until he was 30!  Paul waited over three years after his conversion to go back to Jerusalem (Galatians 1), and didn’t begin his missionary journeys for several years after that.  I could go on…

Why is it that all of the godliest men in the Bible waited to begin their ministry?  Of all people, why did Jesus himself wait so long?  He knew exactly what ministry he was called to–couldn’t he have started when he was 20?

Hebrews 5:7-9 gives us an important–and startling–explanation:

“In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.  Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.  And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him..”

Pay close attention to what you just read–Jesus learned obedience and was made perfect…Does that surprise you?  Wasn’t Jesus already obedient?  Wasn’t he already perfect?  Here’s another surprising verse from  Luke 2:40:

“And the child [Jesus] grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him.”

Now it’s no surprise that Jesus grew–he was human, after all.  But this verse seems to indicate that Jesus grew in wisdom, too.  Jesus learned obedience, was made perfect, and became strong and filled with wisdom.  Wasn’t Jesus already perfect?  In the sense of “sinlessness,” yes–absolutely.  Wasn’t Jesus already obedient?  To the commands he had received at that point in time, yes.  Wasn’t Jesus already wise?  For his age, yes.  But there were bigger commands and tougher temptations yet to come.  Jesus had not yet been tested with the cross.  Before he would be ready to endure the shame and agony of the cross, he had to endure the agony of a 40 day fast.  Before he could perfectly obey his heavenly Father as an adult, he had to obey his earthly father as a child.  Before he could fulfill his ultimate Ministry to the world, he had to be faithful in his immediate ministry to his family.  Just as a good earthly father does not give his 5 year old son a 100 lb. load to carry, the Heavenly Father, out of his love, never gave his Son more than he could handle at that point in his physical and spiritual development.

So here’s the point:

If it was necessary for Christ himself to undergo 30 years of waiting, trials, and refinement to become the person that the Father needed him to be to endure his ministry and the cross, how much more waiting and refinement do you and I need!  In our zeal, we are eager to do God’s will–and rightly so!  But we can’t begrudge the times of refinement that God uses to develop us into the person that we need to be in order to carry out that will!  God knows the type of character we need for the ministry he has given us, and he oftentimes uses the periods of waiting in our lives to prepare us.  We may think we’re ready, but only God knows when we’re truly ready, for only he knows what the future holds.

So what is God trying to do in your life to prepare you for the next step?  What character traits is he trying to develop in you?  What sins is he trying to purge from your life?  How is he teaching you to depend upon Him?

Waiting is not always pleasant, but perhaps if you look hard enough, you’ll see the thread of grace in your wait.

Why not just teach them English?

A translation project takes a long time, and a lot of effort.  Many times the languages we work in have no written form, so part of our job may involve transcribing their oral language into written form, developing an appropriate alphabet, and teaching them how to read and write in their own language.  All of this happens alongside the many years of work required to translate the Bible verse by verse into that language.  So, naturally, the question arises: “Why not just teach them English (or another majority language)?”

Reason #1: A second language is not your heart language
At a Good Friday service in 1980, Leonard Bolioki stepped to the front of the church he attended in Cameroon and began to read the story of Jesus’ crucifixion.  Before, this passage from John’s Gospel had always been read in French, the trade language of Cameroon, but this time the priest had asked Leonard to read it from the newly translated passage in the local language, Yambetta.

As he read, he became aware of a growing stillness; then some of the older women began to weep. At the end of the service they rushed up to Leonard and asked, “Where did you find this story? We have never heard anything like it before! We didn’t know there was someone who loved us so much that he was willing to suffer and die like that… to be crucified on a cross to save us!”

Leonard pulled out his French New Testament and showed them that the story was in the Bible. “We listen to this Passion Story every year during Holy Week,” he told them, but they insisted that they’d never heard it before. That instance, Leonard says, is what motivated him to translate the Scriptures into the only language his people could really understand—Yambetta!

Even though these people knew French, French was not the language that spoke to their hearts.  It’s true that over time, and with great effort, you can learn a foreign language enough to communicate.  But, when it comes to the truths of the Bible, these must resonate on a deeper level than merely a head knowledge–the Scripture must penetrate to the heart.  That can only be accomplished in their native language, their “heart language.”

Reason #2: Language is tied to identity

Reason #3: God loves people of ALL languages

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (‭Revelation‬ ‭7‬:‭9-10‬ ESV)

The Bible tells us that there will be believers from “all languages” and “all peoples,” and commands us to make disciples of “all nations,” not just those in the majority.

Scripture is replete with examples of how God meets us where we are and communicates to us in the language and culture we understand best.  No human language or culture is supreme, and there is no human language or culture God cannot communicate in.  God gave his Word to the Hebrews in Hebrew, to Arameans in Aramaic, to the Greeks in Greek, and to all who were present at Pentecost in their own language.  If it’s a good enough strategy for God, it’ll work for us!

Food for Thought…

There was once an island, on which the people had a Bible, but it was in a language that only the educated people could understand. Then a man came and translated the Bible into the local language. The government at this time permitted the Bible, but only in their original translation. As soon as the Bible was available in the local language, the leaders feared what this would do to their power over the people. They declared this new translation illegal and burned every Bible and killed every translator, every printer, every user of the Bible that they could find. But God was with our Brothers and Sisters on that island, and He changed the hearts of the government. Finally, after many generations, the Bible was now not only available, but also legal.

“For God louede so the world, that he gaf his ‘oon bigetun sone, that ech man that bileueth in him perische not, but haue euerlastynge liif.”

This was John 3:16 in the first translation of the Bible in the local language on the island called…England.*

Brothers and Sisters, you and I are living proof of the impact of God’s word in our heart language, English.  We have been blessed to have God’s Word in our heart language for over 600 years since the first translation by John Wycliffe, and over 400 years since the translation of the King James Version.  What a blessing that our ancestors weren’t satisfied to merely teach us Latin!

 

 

*I am indebted to Tiffany Archer, a fellow Wycliffe member whom we met at Equip, for this illustration.

2014: God’s faithfulness on display

Well, another year has gone by!  And since so much has happened, we’d like to give you a recap of how God has been working in our lives in the past year and what we expect God will be doing in the year to come.

It’s crazy to think that just a year ago we were in Dallas at the Graduate Institute of Applied Linguistics for a Wycliffe recruiting event called “Taste Of Translation And Linguistics” (aka–TOTAL It Up).

TOTAL It Up! January 2014, Dallas, TX

We had suspected that God might be calling us into service with Wycliffe, but we honestly didn’t know that much about the organization and we had a thousand questions!  Throughout the week, we had the opportunity to hear testimonies from many different Wycliffe missionaries, learn a little about translation and linguistics, and learn about how Wycliffe functions as an organization.  Each day our conviction grew that this was where God was calling us to serve.  By the end of the week, we had no doubts.  We drove home from Dallas as firmly convinced that God was calling us to serve with Wycliffe as we were that we were breathing!  God had finally revealed the next step of his plan for our lives, and we were ecstatic with joy!

But there were still a lot of unknowns.  I had felt that God was leading us to join Wycliffe and attend training before the end of the year.  But, before we could apply to Wycliffe we had some debt to pay off.  I was a contractor, and we were barely surviving the winter on my earnings.  How could we ever expect to pay off the thousands that we owed in such a short period of time?  And, where in the world did God want us to serve?  Were we really qualified to do the task God was calling us for?  How do we tell our family that we’re leaving?  My mind was swirling with questions about the unknown as we made our drive back to Arkansas.  But, I knew without doubt that if God had called us to this ministry, he would provide the means.

But things got worse before they got better, and our faith and resolve were tested severely.  The next 2-3 months that followed were, financially speaking, the worst of our lives.  The winter got worse, nobody seemed interested in home improvement projects, and what few jobs I did get were delayed by the bitter cold, snow, and ice.  It was the coldest, wettest winter that I can recall in my lifetime.  We fell behind on our bills, and paying off debt seemed like a fantasy.  So, we prayed…a lot!

Equip24BannerLrg
Wycliffe Equip Training Class, October 2014, Orlando, TX

God answered.  Through my quiet time and during sermons at church, my attention was directed over and over to stories such as Abraham’s call in Genesis 12.  Abraham, or “Abram” as he was called at the time, was told to “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you,” and was assured that he would be tremendously blessed.  But, before he received the promised blessings, Abraham had to take action.  Without knowing all the details–without knowing even what “land” he was supposed to go to!–Abraham had to first pack up and start walking.  I realized that God was calling me to take the first step in faith.  Knowing that our high rent was partly to blame for our financial difficulties, Jennifer and I knew that moving to a more affordable house was one of the first steps.  When our lease was up in April, we moved to a smaller, much more affordable home in Jacksonville and had a big moving sale.  God blessed us immensely, and within three months of that move, we had paid off several thousand dollars worth of debt, sold our truck, and applied to Wycliffe!  Though we had begun to think it impossible, God arranged everything so that we could complete our training in October as we had originally hoped, and even begin developing our team of ministry partners by the end of the year.

As we look forward to the year to come, there’s a lot more change coming!  We hope to have fully established our team of ministry partners by May so that we can move in June to Dallas to begin our linguistic training.  Throughout the past year, God has showed us over and over that he will guide our steps when we rely upon him and step out in faith where he leads.  He always provides.

To all of our readers, family, friends, and ministry partners–THANK YOU!  You are an encouragement to us and we pray that God will bless you, just as he has blessed us through you.

Just for fun–Here’s the year in review of our blog!

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 760 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 13 trips to carry that many people…Where did they come from? 14 countries in all! Most visitors came from The United States. Canada & Russia were not far behind…

Click here to see the complete report.

Something worth giving your life for

In the last few weeks, I have been surprised to find that there are actually quite a few people out there who are as crazy as we are.  I’m growing quite accustomed to puzzled looks when I tell people that we’re missionaries and plan to move to the jungles of Papua New Guinea.  I’m getting used to people describing our ministry as a “mission trip,” as if we will only be gone for a couple weeks, and I usually just laugh it off when someone incredulously replies, “You’re going to be gone how long?!?!
But in the past few weeks, there have been a couple of responses that have surprised me.  After speaking briefly with one lady, I was shocked to hear her reply: “I know you’re not supposed to envy, but I can’t help but wish I could go back to my 20’s and do what you’re doing!  Another man I spoke with lamented how he’d always wanted to go into missions, but was unable to do so because his wife had left him and remarried, and the mission agency he was interested in wouldn’t accept divorcees.
Not long ago, a group of people were getting a tour of the Wycliffe JAARS center for aviation in Waxhaw, North Carolina. The host showed a film and told how the Bible translators were entering a new language group every nine days and publishing a New Testament every 17 days. She told stories of how the translated Word of God had power to transform lives, and in many places was transforming whole communities.
At the end of her presentation she asked if there were any questions. An old gentleman stood up in the back of the room. His eyes were brimming with tears. It took him a moment to compose himself so he could speak.
“Yes, I have a question,” he said, “What do you do when you are 85 years old and for the first time learn about something worth giving your life to?”

As a young Wycliffe member, I’ve had to ponder my response to situations like these.  My heart breaks for the old man who finds himself nearing the end of his life only to realize his life has been wasted in vain pursuits.  And for the lady who regretfully wishes she had followed a different path in life.  And for the man who finds himself thrust into a position where he is disqualified for the ministry he longs for.  What can you say?

After the Israelites had conquered most of the promised land under Joshua’s lead, Joshua began portioning out the land to the 12 tribes.  In Joshua chapter 14, Caleb comes to Joshua with a special request.  Caleb recounts the story of how, when he was forty years old, he had spied out the land under Moses’ lead and brought back a favorable report.  While the other spies bemoaned the impossibility of the task, Caleb confidently asserted, “God will be with us!  We can do this!”  Nevertheless, the Israelites fearfully and disobediently refused to obey God, and God cursed them to wander in the wilderness for forty years until the entire generation, except Caleb and Joshua, died off.  Because of his obedience and faith, Moses promised a section of hill country to Caleb as his inheritance.  Now an old man, Caleb cashes in the promise:
“Now then, just as the LORD promised, he has kept me alive for forty-five years since the time he said this to Moses, while Israel moved about in the wilderness. So here I am today, eighty-five years old!  I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then.  Now give me this hill country that the LORD promised me that day. You yourself heard then that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the LORD helping me, I will drive them out just as he said.”
Joshua 14:10-12
Whether or not Caleb could actually still bench press what he could when he was 40, his faith was every bit as strong.  He knew that God was the source of victory, not his own might, and that God could use an 85 year old man just as well as he could a 40 year old man.  Instead of looking back on the 45 years wasted wandering around in the desert, Caleb looked up at the fortified hill and said, “See that hill up there?  Let’s go take it for God.”
If you’re reading this, then you’re life is not over.  You may have regrets and you may wish you had spent your life differently.  But if you’re still breathing, then God has a purpose for your life.  Perhaps God will enable you to give more generously than you ever thought possible.  Perhaps he will lead you to be a prayer warrior like Joshua, whose prayer for the sun to stand still in Joshua 10 was granted!  Or, perhaps God will lead you to pack up your bags at the ripe old age of 85 and move overseas!  Regardless, when God reveals something worth giving your life for, then give your life for it.  Charge the hill for Jesus.

We’re back from Orlando!

So how was training?  Like drinking from a fire hydrant–more information than we could possibly process in two weeks, but incredibly refreshing!

These past two weeks were incredible!  There were 47 adult trainees (including the two of us), 16 children (including our little guy), and a host of staff.  I was blown away by how many different types of roles within Wycliffe were represented by our training class alone: pilots, mechanics, teachers, house parents, security personnel, accountants, administrators, recruiters, museum directors, artists, journalists, language surveyors, linguists/translators, IT and software developers, and more!  We had the opportunity to hear everyone’s testimony, and it is truly incredible to see how God worked through so many different people in so many different ways to bring us all to the same place.  It was such a perfect illustration of the body of Christ, with all its many members, working together to advance the Kingdom.

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Tim, Codi, and daughter Noah Gauci; Serving as house parents in PNG.

We were blessed to have the opportunity to connect with so many people with the same passion we have!  Tim and I hit it off immediately, and by the end of the week both our wives were rolling their eyes at us.  I had the opportunity to talk with Tim one night on the way to the grocery store and was inspired by his passion for reaching MK’s (missionary kids) for Jesus.

The Phillips; Serving in PNG as teachers.
The Phillips; Serving in PNG as teachers.

The Phillip’s have already served overseas for several years in Southeast Asia, and now they and their six kids will be serving in PNG.  Many people silently wonder, “How could they take their kids overseas?”  But these were perhaps the best behaved, most well-adjusted, godly children I have ever seen!  I can only hope that our children turn out that well.  Plus, Josiah loved them!

Josiah playing with the Cirre's and Phillip's kids.
Josiah playing with the Cirre‘s and Phillip’s kids.

We had the opportunity to take a much needed break on Saturday at the beach, just a 45 minute drive from the Wycliffe HQ.  Josiah wasn’t a big fan of the water or sand at first, but he warmed up to it after a while.  We haven’t had much opportunity to have family time lately, so this was a tremendous blessing, even if it was only for a few hours.Josiah's first time at the beach!

We also received some phenomenal training that will serve us well in the years to come.  We covered topics such as maintaining spiritual health in spite of a harsh/hostile environment, raising kids in another culture, public speaking skills, maintaining balance with ministry and family, record keeping, technology skills and usage, managing finances, and a whole host of additional topics!  We had the opportunity to hear story after story of life transformation brought about through Bible translation, and we left our training feeling both “Equip”-ed and inspired.  Hearing the testimonies of the other trainees and the testimonies of lives impacted by Bible translation reminded me why I signed up!  As Wycliffe’s founder, Cam Townsend, once said: “The greatest missionary in the world is the Bible in the mother tongue.” 

We are so excited to be a part of this ministry!  Our next stage of training is a one-year program in Dallas, TX.  In order to make the departure deadline for PNG that Wycliffe has set (September 2016), we need to begin our training in Dallas next July.  Please remember us in your prayers as we take these next steps!

We’re In! The Hill’s are going to PNG!

Dear Family, Church family, and friends,

God has done a lot in our lives since we sent the last email and we are thrilled to be able to announce that we are now Wycliffe members! (We even get our own “@wycliffe.org email addresses! haha) Although our official employment date is not until September 1, our employment paperwork has all been submitted and we have received our job offer from Wycliffe to serve in Papua New Guinea (PNG). Thank you all for your prayers and support—God answered your prayers in ways we could have never dreamed! In the name of brevity, I won’t list all of the ways God provided for us in this email, but if you want a glimpse of his provision, check out our previous blog post here.

While we will miss our family and friends greatly, we know beyond a shadow of doubt that this ministry is where God is leading our family. There are currently over 1,900 languages in the world without a shred of scripture. Imagine having no access to scripture in English! Think of the last time God revealed something profound to you that changed your spiritual walk. Was it while you were reading scripture? While you were listening to a sermon on a passage of scripture? In your small group at church, talking over a passage of scripture? What would your spiritual walk look like if you never heard God’s word in your language? Carl F.H. Henry once said, “The gospel is only good news if it gets there in time.” Similarly, it’s only good news if they can understand it! We will have the incredible privilege of being a part of bringing God’s Word into one of those 1,900 languages—specifically, one of the 300+ languages without scripture in Papua New Guinea. (For more information about Wycliffe and Bible translation, click here).

But, before we can jump in and start translating, there is a good bit of training we must undergo, and we need your help! Our first part of training for Wycliffe will be a two-week training session and orientation in Orlando from October 18-31. Our cost of attendance, which covers room and board, airfare, and cost of training, is about $3,500 for our family. We’ve sold just about everything we can sell to meet our financial requirements for application, so we need ministry partners who are willing to pray for us and partner with us financially to bring God’s Word to the Bible-less. Would you prayerfully consider advancing the Kingdom by partnering with us in our ministry? If God is leading you to partner with us financially, please look below for information about making a tax-deductible donation.

We also desperately need prayer partners. The task of translating the Bible into a foreign language is a God-sized ambition, and is something that will only come to pass with God’s miraculous provision. Please pray 1) for our training, 2) for God to raise up other prayer and financial partners, and 3) for God to begin preparing the people to whom we will minister to receive the Gospel.

We hope to begin sharing our vision for ministry soon with local churches, so if your church would be interested in having us speak, please contact me and we can make arrangements. Again, thanks for your prayers and support! Please continue to pray for us as we take these next steps in our ministry.

Donations can be sent to:
Wycliffe Bible Translators
P.O. Box 628200
Orlando, FL 32862-8200

Or, you can make your donation securely online.

Please include a separate note with your donation stating: “Preference for the Wycliffe ministry of Jason and Jennifer Hill, #239685.”

For His Kingdom,

Jason, Jennifer, and Josiah Hill
Wycliffe Bible Translators
Skype: jasonjennifer.hill
Cell: (501) 941-8072

We’re applying to Wycliffe Bible Translators!

This article was originally written June 24th. See the paragraph at the end for updates since that time. Thanks so much for your prayers! God has provided above and beyond what we expected. Due to God’s provision, we are now ready to apply for Wycliffe, and the truck hasn’t even sold yet! Although we still need to sell the truck, we have already begun our application to Wycliffe. Please continue to keep us in your prayers as we take these next steps. Throughout this journey, God has taught me a lot–especially about discerning his will. When I was in college, this was something I struggled with a lot. How do I know what God’s will is for me? How do I choose what to major in? What job to take? Is God calling me into this ministry or that one? Over time, God made his will clear, but it didn’t happen the way I expected or on my timeline. This past Wednesday night at Bible study, we studied the story of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch. I’ve read this story many times before, but in light of all that has transpired in our lives recently, one particular insight into discerning God’s will became apparent to me.

Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is a desert place. And he rose and went.” (Acts 8:26-27a ESV)

Notice that at first Philip was given a very general command. God told him to head south to the desert. Philip didn’t receive instructions about the precise location he was to go to, the exact timing, who he was to meet, how to get there, or what he was supposed to do once he arrived. The Spirit simply said “Go south” and he obeyed.

And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.” So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him…Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. (Acts 8:29-35 ESV)

Once Philip obeyed God’s initial, general directions, God revealed his will in more detail. By obeying the part of God’s will that had been revealed to him, however unspecific it was initially, Philip placed himself in the exact location that he needed to be in to receive God’s more specific instructions. And, once Philip obeyed and got into the chariot, God’s will for him to share the gospel with the Ethiopian became obvious and imistakable. When I was younger, I prayed very hard for God to reveal his will to me. But, when I prayed for God’s will to be plain, I wanted to know what, when, where, why, how, and I wanted to know it all now! I assumed that in order to be following God now, I needed to know exactly what God wanted me to be doing in the future. But God works exactly the opposite! If you want to ensure that you’ll be doing what God wants in the future, then make sure you’re following his will for you right now! It doesn’t matter whether God’s will for you is specific–“Go to XYZ college, get a degree in business, take this internship, and this job”–or if its more general–“Get an education, grow in your walk with God, honor God with your finances, etc.” By following his unspecific revealed will we place ourselves in the right place for God’s more specific will to be made plain. This concept is taught more explicitly in Romans 12:1-2.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1, 2 NIV)

By transforming and renewing our minds into the image of Christ (God’s general will for all Christians), we grow in our faith and place ourselves in a spiritual position to hear and discern God’s will more clearly. Allow me to illustrate with my own experience. When I was fourteen, I felt God’s clear and unmistakable call into ministry. But despite the clarity of that calling, it was not a very detailed calling. I began preaching in small churches around my home and preparing myself for a career of ministry. In high school, I realized that I would need to get an education in order to better prepare myself for ministry, so I began looking for colleges. Over time, one particular college began to stand out, and I applied and was accepted at that school. Unfortunately, during my late high school and college years, my relationship with God grew distant, and my ability to discern his will was hindered. I selected a major (Biology and Chemistry) largely without consulting God, and made many other decisions on my own as well. On a mission trip to India during college, however, God began to reveal to me that he wanted me to serve in foreign missions, though I didn’t yet know in what capacity. I prayed for God to reveal his will to me, but when all the details weren’t clear, I decided to go ahead and make plans of my own–medical missions. As you might imagine, those weren’t God’s plans, and that would later become painfully clear after loosing my job as an analytical chemist, two days before I would have bought a home in Sherwood and began the application process to medical school. After some soul searching, prayer, and reflection on what I knew God’s general will was in my life–missions and ministry–I decided to pursue education that would place me more in line with the general portion of God’s will that had been revealed to me and leave the specifics for a later date. That step of obedience placed me exactly where I needed to be (Southern Seminary) to hear God’s next, more specific directions. I began hearing about a missions organization that I’d never heard of before–Wycliffe Bible Translators. I was intrigued by their mission, and attended several presentations they conducted on our campus. The more I learned about them, the more interested I became. Then, after hearing the testimonies of Ed and Linda Speyers and other Wycliffe missionaries, it began to sink in that this just might be the work God was preparing me for. Almost eleven years after my initial call into the ministry, I attended Total-it-Up at the Dallas campus of Wycliffe in January 2014. During that week-long conference, God unfolded his more specific will for us and it became obvious that this was where God wanted us. Finally, we had a more specific direction (though there are still many details left to be determined!), and we knew what needed to be done. But before we could move forward, we had some debt to take care of.

And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. (Acts 8:36-38 ESV)

At first, God’s will for our lives is usually vague and unspecific. Occasionally God reveals specifics up front, but that is rare. As we take steps of obedience in the portion of his will that has been revealed to us, he reveals his more specific will. Then, as we pursue that, he provides, just as he provided a body of water for Philip to baptize the Ethiopian. In the last few months, we’ve seen God do exactly that. Knowing that Wycliffe was God’s will for us, we decided to have a yard sale to pay off debt, and God blessed us with $1,800 earnings in one day! We knew we had to cut our budget down, so we began looking for a new home. God provided one at half the cost of our former rental home, and it’s less than a block from our church! When taxes came around, God blessed us through a tax debt that was over $2,000 less than we had expected! Then, just this last week, after finally deciding to sell my bike, a buyer came and bought it for $850. Do you remember how I said that once we take steps of obedience to follow Gods will he provides? The next day our rent deposit from our previous home arrived in the mail–$830! Then, a couple days later, the final payment from a roofing job I did in March (that had been delayed by the mortgage company) finally came in and I was paid on that–quite a sizable bonus check! God provided so well that we were able to pay off all that we needed in order to apply before we had even sold the truck! In sum, when we set our minds to follow God’s will and began taking concrete actions where we knew he was leading, he provided the rest. In six months, we were able to pay off over $6,000 of taxes, debt, and past due medical bills–not counting the truck!** It’s no fun to sit and wait without a clear sense of direction in your life. I’ve been in that position. I was there for eleven years, and it still don’t know all the specifics. The natural instinct is to read more into God’s will than what might be revealed to you and to make a path where there is none. But part of the way that God grows us into mature believers is through teaching us patience in those waiting periods and teaching us how to discern his will. Your holiness is God’s will for you, and that doesn’t happen overnight. But, as you offer your life as a living sacrifice and focus on transforming and renewing your mind to the image of Christ, he will make his will plain to you. And once he has made it plain, go forward in peace knowing that he will provide everything you need in his perfect timing. Updates (as of August 17th): Our application moved through more quickly than expected, and we received an official job offer from Wycliffe on August 5th! In God’s usual timing, the day after receiving our official job offer from Wycliffe, I sold my truck. Since the beginning of the year, God has enabled us to pay off about $10,000 of debt, plus our truck. We will be traveling to Orlando, FL for our first portion of training in October, and we have selected Papua New Guinea for our country of assignment (though our official invitation to PNG has not yet been finalized). We still have not figured out all the specific details of our assignment, but we know that God will reveal those things to us as we need to know them. Thank you for your prayers! Please continue to pray for us, and we hope you will begin to prayerfully consider partnering with us in our ministry in the future.IMG_1303.PNGIMG_1303-0.PNG

First Newsletter from the Hills

Dear Friends and Family,

For those of you who don’t yet know, Jennifer and I have felt for some time that God might be leading us to serve as foreign missionaries. We have had the opportunity to go on two mission trips together (India in 2007, Haiti in 2011) and both felt that God was leading us to commit to more than just the occasional mission trip. We have been praying that God would make his will for us plain, and we believe that he has answered that prayer.

This January, we had the opportunity to go to Dallas for a one week “Taste Of Translation And Linguistics” (aka–“TOTAL it up”), which allowed us the opportunity to have a unique peek into the life of missionaries with the organization Wycliffe Bible Translators. While there are many great missions agencies out there, Wycliffe was a perfect match for us. Hearing the stories of how lives were changed when people finally had God’s Word in their heart language for the first time was exciting. We both have a passion for God’s Word and for unreached peoples, and God has planted a desire deep in my heart to take the gospel to those who have never heard (Rom. 15:20-21). Furthermore, the nature of Bible translation plays to my spiritual gifts and talents and was a perfect fit for the type of work I would most enjoy. The week that we spent at TOTAL it Up confirmed that God was calling us to serve as missionaries with Wycliffe Bible Translators and we are excited as we take the next steps forward.

But, becoming foreign missionaries is no easy task! Amongst the many obstacles we have to overcome is debt reduction. As many of you already know, Jennifer and I have been taking some drastic steps to meet the debt requirements that we must attain before applying to Wycliffe. In April, we held a huge yard sale where we sold quite a few of our valuables. God blessed us immensely in that we were able to raise over $1,800 in one day at a yard sale! (Talk about a “God thing!”) Next, we moved to a smaller, more affordable place in Jacksonville, cutting our rent budget in half. These steps have allowed us to make some great leaps forward towards our debt reduction goal, but we still have just over $2,500 left to pay off before we can apply. While that may sound like a lot, we are actually quite close to being able to accomplish that goal. In short, if we can sell my truck (2003 Dodge Ram 1500) and bike (2009 Fuji Aloha 1.0), then we will have reached our goal and be ready to apply! If we were to accomplish that this month, that would put us on track for becoming Wycliffe members by November, just in time for a mandatory training session in January at the Wycliffe HQ in Orlando. But, in order to make that training in January, we have to apply by the end of June!

So, here’s how you can help. First of all, please pray for us! While that may sound cliche’, it’s anything but! Paying off $2500 of debt in less than a month is a BHAG (Big Holy Audacious Goal), and is something only God can pull off! (Kind of like making $1800 at a one day yard sale!)  Since I started writing this, I’ve already had one person contact me about buying my bike and another about buying my truck! So please remember us in your prayers! Secondly, please pass the word that we have a truck and bike for sale! You can view my ad for the truck here, and the bike here or here.  Hopefully, by the time you read this they will no longer be for sale, but just in case, spread the word!

Thank you all for your continued prayers and support. We will keep you posted as we make progress in this journey. Please consider becoming a follower of our blog, so you’ll receive our periodic updates and prayer requests in your inbox.

In Christ,

Jason, Jennifer, and Josiah Hill

A couple Q & A’s:

Q: Where will your assignment be and what language will you be working in?
A: In short, we don’t know yet. Once we are accepted with Wycliffe, we will spend the next 2-3 months collaborating with missionaries in the field to determine a good fit for us. If we’re able to apply in June, we should know those details by October.

Q: If you do apply by July, when will you be moving overseas?
A: Once accepted, we will have to attend a two week training session called “Equip” which will train us on raising support. Then, we will have to raise our support. There’s no set time on that process, but it often takes around a year to become fully funded. After we are fully funded, we will move to Dallas for one year of training at the Graduate Institute of Applied Linguistics (GIAL). Upon completion of that one year program, we will be “deployed” to our initial assignment. In short, the process takes about 2 years or so after acceptance to get to the field.

Q: You have a wife and small child. Why would you move to some dangerous third world country when there’s people here in America who need Jesus and it’s much less risky?
A: There are over 1,900 languages left without any portion of God’s Word in their heart language. In short, that’s not “OK.” While it’s true that ministry is desperately needed here in America, and it’s perhaps true that America may be generally safer than, say, the DRC, those people need Christ just as much as Americans do. Furthermore, they have NO scripture, NO ministers, and NO hope of ever hearing the gospel unless someone goes and tells them. “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent?” Rom. 10:14-15, ESV Meanwhile, Americans have a plethora of English Bible translations to pick from, churches on every street corner, and prepackaged gospel presentations available at the click of a remote control. We cannot sit back in comfort and relative safety while the world burns. Some are called to ministry here, some there. Regardless of location, all Christians are called to be involved in missions–some are primarily senders, and some are primarily “goers.” (Though I think all of us have a duty to both.) We have been called out to go, so all we can do is joyfully “trust and obey.”

Where is your treasure?

When we lived in Louisville, I delivered pizzas part time to help make ends meet while I was taking classes at Seminary.  I got to meet all kinds of people and it was, oddly enough, a pretty enjoyable job!  But, let’s face it–pizza delivery isn’t going to make you rich.  After paying for tuition and books, I usually felt like the little boy with two fish desperately hoping God would somehow multiply my meager earnings so we could just pay the bills.

So, over time I began to struggle with jealousy.  I often delivered pizzas to homes that were quite extravagant.  And while I couldn’t always tell whether or not the owner was a believer, sometimes it was quite clear that they weren’t!  (Or at least weren’t acting like one at the time!)   Here I was trying to serve God and follow his lead, and it was all I could do just to pay the bills!  I remember one house that was especially lavish.  It had all the custom trimmings, a perfectly manicured and landscaped lawn, and you couldn’t help but be intimidated by its grand entryway.  Yet for all its extravagance, it sat in the shadow of the house across the street.  Literally.  The neighborhood was in a hilly area of town and the house across the street sat up much higher on the hill, so when the sun set the home literally sat in the shadow of the castle across the street.  It kind of made me chuckle a bit.  These folks had spent who knows how many years accumulating their wealth and saving up to build their dream home, and then along comes the Jones’ who build an even bigger house on the hill!  Every time they walk out the front door, they have to crane their neck upwards and block the sun with their hand just to see their neighbor’s home.

Now there’s nothing wrong with being rich.  Job was rich, and he was a godly man.  Furthermore, there’s not necessarily any spiritual benefit to being dirt poor.  There’s nothing necessarily unspiritual about owning stuff–as long as your stuff doesn’t own you.  And, on the flip side, there’s nothing necessarily spiritual about NOT owning stuff, because your NOT owning stuff CAN own you.

Just take a look at the warnings Jesus gives in Matthew 6:

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? … Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” [Mat 6:19-25, 31-34 ESV]

Jesus’ warnings here don’t only apply to the wealthy.  In fact, who is more likely to worry about where their next meal is going to come from or what they will wear tomorrow–the rich or the poor?  Jesus isn’t only warning against piling up treasures on earth, but also against coveting such treasures.  Jesus’ focus was on what< you treasure, not on how much treasure you have.  I’ve met relatively poor people who treasure material possessions and worldly comfort more than some rich people!  (And I have been such a person, too.)

The reason that Jesus spends so much time talking about money is because money and material possessions betray our true passions in life.  The way we spend our time and money reveals a lot about what we value, or “treasure,” here on earth.  It reveals our perspective on life.  Many people skip over verses 22-23 , because they’re difficult to understand, but they state exactly that:

The eye (i.e.–perspective on money) is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye (i.e.–perspective on money) is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye (i.e.–perspective on money) is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness.

How many of us walk around filled with worldly darkness with our spiritual growth stunted because our “eye” is bad?  Oh that God would open our eyes to see the way he sees!  Why do we treasure money and material comforts which will all be destroyed instead of treasuring the eternal God?  We ought to treasure him and the things which he treasures, namely, human souls!

As Jennifer and I are preparing for service with Wycliffe, one of the obstacles we have to overcome is our debt.  Some of our debt is from educational loans, but some of it is from chasing our own little American dream.  After years of praying for God to reveal his will to me for my career path in ministry, God finally revealed it this January at Total it Up (A weeklong Wycliffe “orientation” of sorts).  Unfortunately, because of my “bad eye” in the past, our ability to move forward with Wycliffe has been delayed until we can pay down our debt.  Suddenly this passage came to life. I began to hear God asking me, “Jason, what do you treasure? Do you treasure me and following my will, or do you treasure your gas-guzzling four wheel drive truck? What about your comfort–could you live in a smaller place if it meant being able to get the gospel to those who have never heard sooner?” My accumulation of worldly treasures was preventing me from inheriting the eternal treasures God had promised. I wrestled with it it for a while, until I read this:

And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”‘ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” [Luke 12:15-21 ESV]

I don’t ever want to face God and hear the words, “You fool!”  Could we get to the field without having to sell our possessions?  Perhaps eventually, but how many of the people to whom we will be sent would perish without having heard the gospel in that time?  If my soul is required of me tonight, do I want to be still clutching to my stuff when I face God, knowing that I treasured money instead of God?

… 31 Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you. 32 “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. [Luke 12:31-32 ESV]

Over the last couple years, God has slowly replaced the worldly treasures in my life with himself.  It’s been a slow, and at times, painful process.  But the difference is astounding.  Once I finally let go of those possessions that possessed me, the jealousy that had consumed me was replaced with a fiery passion to see the gospel go to the nations. It was so freeing!  The idea that years from now I might possibly have the privilege of handing a completed New Testament to a people who previously had no scripture is beyond my capability to express in words.  Now, my passion is God, his Word, and his Kingdom.  I think that were I able to trade lives with those whom I coveted before I would find myself saying, “This is it?  This is what I wanted?  I’m supposed to be satisfied with this?!?!”  I don’t want to settle for the American Dream.  I want God’s Dream.  The American Dream is too small.  I’ve been given a taste of God’s passion for the nations and I can’t imagine settling for anything less. But, it took God prying away those idols from my life so that he could change my unwilling heart into a heart that he could use. Please don’t misunderstand–I had nothing to do with this.  God alone deserves the credit.  But by God’s grace, I now treasure him–not as I should, of course, but more than I once did.

God has a purpose for your life, and it’s not for you to fulfill your American Dream.  He has bigger plans for you than that.  He wants to give you the Kingdom!  Don’t settle for fool’s gold.  He alone is the true treasure, the only thing worth living for.  What’s your treasure?

 

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