Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘The Story everybody needs’

 

https://i1.wp.com/pres-outlook.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/mosaic-409427_1280.jpg

Today is Pentecost Sunday… read all about it in Acts chapter 2

A few days ago Wycliffe Canada colleague Jack Popjes posted The story of Pentecost in Two Contrasting Versions. I’m pretty sure he won’t mind me re-posting on Pentecost Sunday…

Why Stories from Different Cultures Are So Similar
I grew up listening to Dutch folktales, read voraciously in English during my early years in Canada, enjoyed Brazilian stories in Portuguese, studied Canela legends, and know all the Middle Eastern Bible stories by heart. I wondered why stories from these five different cultures seem to have similar plots and structure.

An anthropologist, Levi-Strauss, taught me that these timeless stories hang together because they all follow certain rules. Elements in each major tale relate to each other, both in the way they are similar and in the way they contrast. What’s more, one element in each pair is often positive, while the other may be negative, just as health contrasts with disease, and clean contrasts with dirty.

The Moses and Joshua Example
Here, for instance are how the stories of Moses and Joshua are similar: Both were chosen by God. Both led Israel. Both performed miracles. Both accomplished their tasks.

Here are the contrasts: One was old: one was young. One was a shepherd: the other a trained warrior. One led them out of bondage: the other led them into freedom. One was highly educated in Egypt’s royal court: the other was an ignorant slave.

Around the world, all enduring stories are structured similarly because they all reflect the greatest story of them all; the timeless tale of God, His creation, human sin and God’s redemption.

Now The Two Stories of Pentecost
Pentecost, also called the Feast of Weeks, in Old Testament times was simply a harvest festival. Eventually, this turned into more of a remembrance of the time Moses received the Law on Mt. Sinai. And of course, for the Christian Church, we remember that it was on the first Pentecost after Christ rose from the dead, that God sent the Holy Spirit to the Church.

So, doing a quick study of these two major stories, here, in list form, are some similarities and contrasts:
Jewish Observance of Pentecost: Receiving of the Law.

  1. God’s servant Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the Law
  2. This happened 50 days after their escape from Egypt (10 days of travel plus 40 days on Mount Sinai)
  3. Moses found the people feasting and playing before the golden calf
  4. Moses ordered the Levites to draw their swords and execute the idolaters
  5. As a result, 3,000 people lost their lives

Christian Observance of Pentecost: Receiving of the Holy Spirit

  1. God’s Holy Spirit came down from heaven with Power.
  2. This happened 50 days after Jesus rose from the dead (40 days of seeing Jesus alive plus 10 days of waiting in Jerusalem)
  3. The Holy Spirit found the disciples fasting and praying before God
  4. God ordered Peter to use the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, and preach to the crowds
  5. As a result, 3,000 people received eternal life.

The apostle Paul may well have had this contrast in mind when he wrote to the Corinthian church, “The letter of the Law kills, but the Spirit gives life” 2 Corinthians 3:6.

Try This Yourself
Pick a pair of characters like king Saul and king David. Or the prophet Jonah and the apostle Paul. Check out the amazing similarities and contrasts in their stories.

Wycliffe Canada colleague Jack Popjes is a prolific story teller. One of his stories inspired me to research which resulted The Irishman’s Prayer and The Irishman Who Prayed

Keep writing the stories, Jack!

Read Full Post »

 Bosnian Bible

I can’t read this!

If you’re reading this and understand it, please let me know.

About 12 or 13 years ago, I helped some people to make contacts with colleagues in Wycliffe Bible Translators. These people, in N. Ireland and Bosnia, set out on a dream. Read the story of the fulfilment of that dream in my blog here and find out why we have a copy in our Belfast office.

My blog prompted a series of requests from people around the world eager to obtain copies of the Bosnian Bible for themselves or for friends.  I forwarded the requests to my Bosnian friend Redzo Trako, a pastor who had studied at Belfast Bible College and who prayed and campaigned for the translation. Redzo helped people get the copies they wanted.

I often wondered what happened. Recently Redzo sent me some feedback of how God’s word in Bosnian was speaking to Bosnian hearts.

Sharon wrote this on my blog:

Sharon 6 Sep 2015

Please, John, i am not sure i am doing this correctly, but i too am trying to get some friends a Bible in Bosnian. Thank you.

Redzo sent me this feedback email from Sharon dated Sunday, May 08, 2016

From: Sharon
Subject: Re: Bosnian Bible

Dear Mr Trako,

I am needing another Bosnian Bible.  I did not write before about how the other two you sent me were received but here is the story.

One lady is middle aged.  When i gave her the Bible she nearly cried she held it close and looked it all over.  She does not say much about it but has said that she reads it sporadically – she will read and read and read until her eyes are too tired to read any more and then won’t read for a while and then read again like this.  She is a believer, she loves the LORD.

The other family i gave one to gave it to a cousin who moved to another city.  This family’s husband has been reading the Bible in English and he has told the Genesis story to his children.
His mother only speaks Bosnian and does not read.  This morning i tried to give her an app i use on my phone to listen to the Bible but it did not have the audio version in any of her languages.

I just came from her house and she asked me to get her the Bosnian Bible and her daughter in law will read it to her!!!!  I am so excited how God is getting the Bible to this family.

Can you please send me another copy?

In Him, Sharon

I have to confess, that although I can’t read it, I do know the meaning of the words at the top of this post – because the copy of the Bosnian Bible that we have in the Wycliffe Bible Translators office in Belfast, N. Ireland came with an English translation of the introduction.

The Bible in the Bosnian language

The Bible in the Bosnian language

Here’s what the last sentence says…

It is our prayer that God Almighty would speak through the pages of this translation and bless everyone who reads it, whatever religion they belong to.

I never thought as I work for Wycliffe Bible Translators UK & Ireland interacting with people enquiring about being involved with our work, that my blog would facilitate Bible distribution

Read Full Post »

dukawa

Studying the Bible in a language you’re not very familiar with complicates understanding and could compromise the message. The Dukawa people of Nigeria tried to use the Scriptures in the “trade” language,* Hausa. But though Hausa was the language of the marketplace, it wasn’t the language of their home or their heart. Now God’s Word is being translated into their own Dukawa language, and many are surprised to find out what it really means.One man, a pastor for eight years, said, “I have recently compared my understanding of the Hausa Bible with the Dukawa translation, and I now realize that I misunderstood what the Hausa Bible was saying almost all of the time.”

I’ve visited countries where the church has been established for over a hundred years. I’ve met people who simply don’t understand the language that the Bible is preached from. I’ve met pastors who struggle to communicate with their congregation because they don’t really understand heart issues in the language spoken by most of them and vice versa.

We went to church for many years, but it wasn’t until we saw the Jesus film in our own language that we understood that Jesus died for our sins. We always thought he died because he did something wrong.

These are extracts from an article by Wycliffe USA colleague Bob Creson called: What Does It Really Mean? Please read some more of it.

This story is so honest – and it’s so important that Christians read it and understand why Wycliffe’s vision is…

By the year 2025, together with partners worldwide, we aim to see a Bible translation programme started for every language that needs one.

 

Read Full Post »

Displaced people from the minority Yazidi sect, fleeing violence from forces loyal to the Islamic State in Sinjar town, walk towards the Syrian border, on the outskirts of Sinjar mountain, near the Syrian border town of Elierbeh of Al-Hasakah Governorate.

Earlier this month I posted Room or no room at the inn or no inn… in Bethlehem.  It was a borrowing from Alan Wilson who had beaten me to it this year. Then just a few days ago, I came across Kezia’s post Alternative Nativity which is a poignant mix of Scripture words and contemporary photos.

Here are some extracts from Luke’s Gospel (The Message) and recent photographs that Kezia has put together to focus our thoughts as we approach Christmas and on into Christmas Day and beyond. I hope you will go on to read Kezia’s full post.

About that time Caesar Augustus ordered a census to be taken throughout the Empire. This was the first census when Quirinius was governor of Syria. Everyone had to travel to his own ancestral hometown to be accounted for.

So Joseph went to Bethlehem. He took with him Mary, his fiancée, who was obviously pregnant by this time.

0 image.adapt.990.high.Roszke_Border_091415.1442263172703

But there was no room for them in the inn. While they were there, the time came for her baby to be born; and Mary gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger.

1 yannisbehrakisreutersbaby

These are not the cosy images of a school nativity play or Sunday School or even perhaps what might happen in our churches this Christmas.

But then the words of Luke’s Gospel and Matthew’s Gospel have nothing cosy about them either. Perhaps we should acknowledge that current events can help us de-sanitize our Christmas story this year and give us a real insight into the risky and radical arrival of how God the Father translated himself from divine into human in the person of God the Son.

This year, may we all meet the boy who became the man who was crucified and resurrected for you and me.

Thanks to Kezia for permission to re-post. Why not return to the link at the top and read her whole post.

Read Full Post »

No, it’s not a Sixties pop group.

Simeon

Simeon by Rembrandt

It’s my final blog in the Simeon Series.

Earlier this month, I was booked to speak at Drumglass Parish Bible Study at St Elizabeth’s Moygashel. I checked out their website and found this.

On 8th December we have the first of our visiting speakers when John Hamilton of Wycliffe Bible Translators will be telling us of the work of the mission that he works for. John has always been an entertaining and provocative speaker, and we look forward to hearing him again. Please come and join us if you are free. The offertory will be given to him for his work.

Three thoughts sprung to mind: 1. Always good as a speaker to get unexpected encouragement 2. Hope they weren’t disappointed and 3. The offering cheque arrived in the office and very generous it was too!

But why am I twittering on about Drumglass Parish? Well, the thoughts and stories contained in the Simeon Series were tried out on the good folks of Drumglass – and I thank them for their attention and some great questions afterwards.

And so to Simeon and The Five Silhouettes: you see recently I too have been identifying with Simeon, a man who had to wait.

The Five Silhouettes

The Five Silhouettes

Let me explain… the last time someone from Ireland north or south applied to become a Wycliffe member was in the autumn of 2012. For 3 years no one was asking about joining Wycliffe. Why not, I thought. Were my colleagues and I not doing the right things, saying the right things, speaking in the right churches, putting the right message on social media or in our local publications?

On 1 June 2015 we moved to a new office. We put a map of the world on the wall with photos of all our Irish members. Then we had an idea. We all thought of it at the same time. Why not start praying every day for new members? How many should we pray for?

We sensed that God had prompted us to decide on five – the five silhouettes! And guess what? In October we had two people asking to start the application process. We were delighted! We’re praying them – three more to join them!

So… me and Simeon..? Five years is not that long compared to the Kimyal man, the Ndali man, not to mention Bai Laurent the Kouya man who hasn’t appeared in this series – but it’s still very exciting when we see God answering our prayers.

Are you reading this in Ireland? Could you be silhouette 3, 4 or 5? Contact us at Wycliffe Bible Translators UK and Ireland. Are you elsewhere in the world? Find your local Wycliffe organisation on Wycliffe Global Alliance website. You can be part of Bible translation helping to relieve Bible Poverty so that there will be no more Simeons out there.

Read Full Post »

Some thoughts on Simeon, a minor but very significant character in the Christmas story.

Simeon

Simeon by Rembrandt

But first, let’s refresh our memory of Luke’s Simeon.

Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:

‘Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation,which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles,    and the glory of your people Israel.

The child’s father and mother marvelled at what was said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: ‘This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.’

Luke 2:25-35  NIV

And that’s all that the Bible tells us about Simeon: a man who had heard God’s promise and had waited (presumably for quite some time) to see the Messiah face to face. He held Jesus in his arms, he prayed to God and he prophesied. The context suggests that he probably died soon after, but we don’t know that.

Simeon is an intriguing participant in the early life of Jesus – but wouldn’t it be great to know more about him? So I did some Googling and found this in Simeon’s Wikipedia entry.

According to a tradition in the Eastern Orthodox Church, Simeon had been one of the seventy-two translators of the Septuagint. As he hesitated over the translation of Isaiah 7:14 (LXX: “Behold, a virgin shall conceive…”) and was going to correct it to γυνή (woman), an angel appeared to him and told him that he would not die until he had seen the Christ born of a virgin. This would make him well over two hundred years old at the time of the meeting described in Luke, and therefore miraculously long-lived.

Now that’s intriguing too, but not very credible.

Next up in the Simeon Series… some stories of people who identified with Simeon many years later…

Read Full Post »

Alf

… and we prick our ears in the expectation of a good story! Whether it’s a comedian’s one-liner, a juicy bit of gossip, a fairy tale, the wicked humour of Roald Dahl or one of Jesus’ New Testament parables – stories have a unique power.

My good friend Alfred Thompson recently published a good story about stories and in particular the power of stories. It was an article in the April edition of The Presbyterian Herald, the main magazine of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland.

Alf hooks us with his opening story…

A famous pianist was giving a concert. In the front row a six or seven-year-old boy was sitting with his parents. And he was bored. So at the interval when his parents were distracted, the boy climbed onto the stage, sat at the piano and started banging on the keys, which made a terrible noise. Everyone stopped talking and turned to look at him, but the boy didn’t notice as he was having a great time just banging away.

The pianist heard the noise and came out from the wings and walked over behind the boy. When the boy became aware of the pianist standing behind him he stopped his banging and froze. But instead of giving off, the pianist leant over the boy’s shoulder and whispered ‘keep playing, keep playing.’ The boy hesitated. So the pianist whispered again ‘keep playing.’

So the boy shrugged his shoulders and started having fun banging away again. But this time the pianist stretched his arms around the boy and began to play on the keys that were out of the boy’s reach. After a moment the audience began to hear what was happening… somehow the pianist was weaving a melody in and around the noise of the boy’s banging.

Alf tells us that he heard the story as a teenager, and comments…

… this story about the boy and the pianist has always stayed with me and it has helped me to “keep playing” and to keep believing that God is at work in my life, playing the keys that are out of my reach.

What a super image of the mystery that God wants us to be part of his mission to his world. The omnipotent God wants to use us, his flawed but redeemed creation, in his big story.

You can access Alf’s article and the rest of the April Herald here

I think I might come back to Alf’s article for further inspiration quite soon…

Read Full Post »

A few days ago, someone looked at a blog I posted just over four years ago. Since that one person hopefully found it interesting, I thought I would re-blog it.

Besides the comments that I made and the comments that I quoted are still both interesting and relevant – what do you think?

 

An old copy of the King James Bible, thought to be a rare original 1611 edition has been found in a village church in Wiltshire.

There are fewer than 200 original printings of the King James version known to exist. And it is believed that the rediscovered Bible is one of the few remaining editions printed in 1611.

As a former historian, this news appeals to me; original documents are the stuff of historical research, but the Bible has never been lost to us. The King James is just one of a long line of translations into English, all of which sought to make the Bible accessible to people in a way they could understand.

This year is of course the 400th anniversary of the first edition of the King James Version being printed in London. At that time, no one could have envisaged the impact that the translation would have: since then the King James Version has become the biggest selling book in the English language – apparently it has also been the most shop lifted book in history. It has shaped the English language and had a huge effect on the English speaking world. The King James Version has become a cultural icon.

But the Bible is far more than just a piece of literature, far more than a cultural icon – we believe it is the story of God’s involvement with the earth and its people from creation to the end of the world. Wycliffe Bible Translators wants to concentrate less on Bible historic and more on Biblefresh – whether that be people in the UK re-engaging with the Bible in ways that enables God to speak to them afresh or people in Burkina Faso and elsewhere receiving the Bible in their heart languages for the first time.

Geoff Procter is a member of the parochial church council where the rare original was found; I like his comment.

Mr Procter said the most important thing about the Bible was that it was meant to be a living working book for people to live by.

“Well I think what it’s going to do is enable us to talk about the Bible,” he said.

“Because in a secular world it’s seen as an important document it will actually bring the opportunities to us to go and discuss it in more detail.

“When we took it for evaluation to the curator of a Bible museum, one of the first things he said was whatever you do you must display this so that people can read the word.

“That stuck with me – you know the fact that it’s what it says rather than what it is.”

In a blog discussing reading the Bible together online in a variety of ways, Richard Littledale reminds us of the danger of God’s Word getting lost in the 2011 media plethora about the King James Bible…

Although people are talking at length about the linguistic heritage of the Bible in the English language, there is a danger that it becomes little more than a piece of heritage – like a stately home or a love letter preserved behind glass. We cannot afford to do this – which is why we must embrace these Twenty-First Century media to encourage a wholehearted debate about a book whose pages we regard as sacred.

This is the vision of Wycliffe Bible Translators – could you be a part of this?

By 2025, together with partners worldwide, we aim to see a Bible translation project begun in all the remaining languages that need one.

Read Full Post »

St Patrick's BreastplateA few days ago I went off on a retreat to a peaceful rural house in County Down to get my head showered (as we say in N. Ireland) and to read and write and think and pray about work and life and things in general. This booklet was on the coffee table…

Patrick more than a legend… it was written by the late Derick Bingham and was much more enlightening and uplifting – and accurate – than the stuff I blogged about earlier.

In my student days at Trinity College Dublin studying History and Politics, I had a course in medieval Irish History which included Patrick. Ever since I have been impressed and fascinated not just by Patrick’s life and mission, but by the incredible influence of the Irish Celtic Church that he founded and which became a mission movement that can still be learned from today. Celtic missionaries worked within the culture and translated the Scriptures into the local languages as they spread the Gospel throughout Ireland, Scotland, the North of England and deep into Europe ravaged in the years after the fall of Rome. And after all, wasn’t it the Irish who saved civilisation…  see Thomas Cahill “How the Irish Saved Civilisation

At the end of the booklet, Derick Bingham included St Patrick’s Breastplate.

Patrick's BreastpalteThe notes say this…

The original, though traditionally ascribed to Patrick, is thought rather to be an 8th century compilation of his Christian faith and beliefs written in the form of a Druidic incantation for preservation on a journey. It shows the power the Gospel had to spiritually transform the thinking of the Irish.

 

It is still today a wonderful meditation on the spiritual journey of the Christian life.

Unlike the very popular penultimate verse in the illustration at the top of this post – and much Facebooked and Tweeted in the past few days – I have included the fuller version below for readers to enjoy.

I bind unto myself today
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three.

I bind this day to me for ever.
By power of faith, Christ’s incarnation;
His baptism in the Jordan river;
His death on Cross for my salvation;
His bursting from the spicèd tomb;
His riding up the heavenly way;
His coming at the day of doom;
*
I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself the power
Of the great love of the cherubim;
The sweet ‘well done’ in judgment hour,
The service of the seraphim,
Confessors’ faith, Apostles’ word,
The Patriarchs’ prayers, the Prophets’ scrolls,
All good deeds done unto the Lord,
And purity of virgin souls.

I bind unto myself today
The virtues of the starlit heaven,
The glorious sun’s life-giving ray,
The whiteness of the moon at even,
The flashing of the lightning free,
The whirling wind’s tempestuous shocks,
The stable earth, the deep salt sea,
Around the old eternal rocks.

I bind unto myself today
The power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, His might to stay,
His ear to hearken to my need.
The wisdom of my God to teach,
His hand to guide, His shield to ward,
The word of God to give me speech,
His heavenly host to be my guard.

Against the demon snares of sin,
The vice that gives temptation force,
The natural lusts that war within,
The hostile men that mar my course;
Or few or many, far or nigh,
In every place and in all hours,
Against their fierce hostility,
I bind to me these holy powers.

Against all Satan’s spells and wiles,
Against false words of heresy,
Against the knowledge that defiles,
Against the heart’s idolatry,
Against the wizard’s evil craft,
Against the death wound and the burning,
The choking wave and the poisoned shaft,
Protect me, Christ, till Thy returning.

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the Name,
The strong Name of the Trinity;
By invocation of the same.
The Three in One, and One in Three,
Of Whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
Salvation is of Christ the Lord.

Source: http://www.prayerfoundation.org/st_patricks_breastplate_prayer.htm

Read Full Post »

Jesus and Peter

It’s too easy to criticise the disciples as Jesus approached Easter and crucifixion. Why didn’t they understand what Jesus was telling them?

34 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.”

35 But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same.

Matthew 26

Why were they so confident that they would not deny Jesus? That they would not let him down? And it was all of them; not just Peter. Are we tempted to say… well, if I had been there, I would have understood. I would have got it! I wouldn’t have said such things.

SU WordLive helps us put ourselves there with the disciples by making us look at ourselves in our own context.

Have a read of Ben Askew’s meditation

‘Even if all fall away I will not’ – I’d never get caught saying that!
Never looked at the other Christians around me and thought, ‘What are they playing at!?’
Never got frustrated that I’m one of the few at my church that really takes this seriously.
Never taken on a bit of ministry, or service thinking. ‘If I don’t do it no one will’.
Never done something good, or noble, because I thought I should do rather than because I wanted to.
Never placed myself in a league table of holiness with the Christians around me, so that I know just where I stand.
Never overestimated my own abilities and gifts, or underestimated the contributions others could make.
Never let an appearance of boldness or confidence cover up just how scared I am inside.
Never forgotten how much I am in need of someone to save me.
No, of course not! I’d never let God down like that.

Ben Askew for WordLive  © Scripture Union 2012

So many of us have the Bible in our languages. We have little, perhaps no excuse for not recognising what the crucifixion and resurrection was all about, what Easter is all about.

1,919 language groups are still denied that privilege, that opportunity.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: