God as Creator: Where does language fit in?

On Wednesday, I spoke to our brothers and sisters at the First Presbyterian Church in Maryville, Missouri, at the first of their weekly soup suppers during Lent. Like many churches, they want to ensure that their focus is on Jesus as they contemplate the approach of Easter. Their theme this year is “God as Creator”. When first asked to speak, I knew that I could draw on the moments toward the beginning of the Bible where we see language playing an important role – since we just love talking about language.

But when I started to dig into Genesis, I didn’t expect to see the strong connection to Jesus that I found when I pondered the familiar events of creation and the “tower of Babel”. The weight given to words and names caused me to consider more deeply how words and names are applied to Jesus. The associations between the two were so consistent and intense that I knew I had to include them in my presentation. If you’re interested in seeing what I had to share, I’m making it available here:

God as Creator

Please keep in mind that I haven’t developed the slides’ notes so fully that they include everything I might have said. However, all of the main thoughts are there. I hope that you find it interesting – and that it deepens your love and understanding of God.

Thoughts after the trip to Germany

It’s been a few weeks since I returned from what I called my “preview” trip to Germany. Do you remember that? No? That’s OK. There was a conference held in Germany some distance from the Wycliffe Europe office, and the attendees needed some computer support and services throughout the week. Many of them were Wycliffe workers, but some were not. I was invited by my future co-worker to come and help. I didn’t have to pray very hard about accepting that invitation.

The conference gave me a lot to think about, so far as ministry goes – what I do, who I do it for, and why I do it. I think the “what” is not a big deal. There are a lot of people who have computer skills – there are even many Christians who have computer skills. God appears to have gifted me with the ability to study and remember the things related to computing that place me squarely between the beasts and their users, ready to help. So, Lord, how do you want me to use this?

All of my co-laborers at the conference work, in some way, with people who live in sensitive situations. You can’t go there, or you can’t talk about this or that, or you can’t do this or that, etc. Some of them have to use other names for themselves or the places where they work. Perhaps you get the idea now. My point here is that my brothers and sisters are taking on some risk in order to fulfill Jesus’ mission for His Church. They are doing a great thing – possibly one of the greatest things. When they gather together to talk about what they’re doing, to share ideas, to learn from one another, to encourage each other, and to improve how the message of Jesus gets to people who desperately need to hear it, I don’t want them to have to worry about stupid technological problems getting in their way.

These are capable people, mind you, who use technology every day in their work – it often forms the center of their own ministries. They can solve many of their own problems. But when the purpose of their attending a conference is to learn and to become a better servant of Jesus, computer problems should not weigh them down. So I work in the background to relieve them of that burden.

Now let’s think about who they’re serving. We hear a lot in the media today about people who create fear when they move to other countries and start lives there, or about people who engage in hostility against “us” because of the cultures and nation-states we’re part of. “We” worry a lot over these people. Politicians and pundits argue on the TV and the radio about how to handle them. I’m sure you get my drift.

When I sat there at this conference, though, listening to one presentation after another, I thought, “This is the solution to all those worries.” Not that my colleagues were concerned with solving high political and social matters – they’re not. But they’re approaching the problem at the individual level – the Jesus level – and addressing the spiritual root of it all. And it would blow your mind to hear about the harvest of souls that their work is producing. I am ready to commit the rest of my life to make more and more of that happen.

If you’re a part of our ministry to all these people – in praying, in giving, in spreading the word – you are a part of what I am convinced is the best way to drive out fear and hate in this world. Don’t underestimate your place in the big picture. You’re laying and maintaining the foundation for that “harvest of souls”, and we appreciate you keeping us up and running. Hoo-yah!

“Whatcha got?”

The title comes from a sermon that Mark Gungor preached to the congregation at Celebration Church in Green Bay a few weeks ago. I like to listen to his daily Internet radio show on marriage, and I tune in to his sermons and Bible studies as well.

In this sermon, Pastor Mark talks about how we and God interact when it comes to life and plans and His will. Christians often wrestle with these things. In fact, we’re wrestling with them as we try to figure out how this transition from Texas to Germany will happen. Our house hasn’t sold yet, and that fact has weighed on our hearts and our heads. But as I listened to this sermon, I could hear God’s voice coming through Pastor Mark’s and feel it reaching into my mind.

The sermon focused on the accounts in the Bible in which we read about God’s eliciting ideas about how to approach the situation at hand. One such time is found in (and around) 1 Kings 22:19-22, in which God is looking for a good way to entice King Ahab to go to war. He apparently rejects other suggestions until one is proposed that He knows will succeed. Pastor Mark emphasized through this example, and others, that God is often watching us for our reactions and ideas. God chooses to work through us humans on purpose. (Consider 1 Corinthians 1:26-27.)

That’s the background for our decision to try a different approach with our house. Pastor Mark asked, “Whatcha got?” and I had to answer, “A house.” This thought dogged me. I had noticed fliers at the office advertising that someone from Wycliffe was now working with a real estate agency in the area of rental property management. The agency is owned and operated by a fellow we know from our homeschool group. “But Lord,” I said, “we don’t want to keep our house.” There are some phrases that you should avoid using with God, and “But Lord …” is one of them.

After looking into requirements and details of renting property with this rental agent, Katherine and I decided that we’ll put it up for lease while we move on toward Germany. We’re offering it up to God, trusting that He’ll approve this idea. Our plan is to work quickly on sorting through the remaining “stuff”, move out of the house into a Wycliffe apartment, and then have a few massive household sales. The house will then be emptied and readied for rental. When that’s done, we’ll leave Dallas and start on the road to Germany.

When you pray, please remember us and our struggle to free ourselves from the things that hold us back from serving the Lord our God with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strength. Pray for efficiency, perseverance, and good renters!