Tag Archives: Bible
Since this is a short announcement, we’ll put it at the top: we are calculating our budget for the coming year. Due to inflation, etc., etc., we have a $1223/month shortfall in our pledged giving. We encourage our friends to be regular backers of our work. You can start at https://worldventure.com or call WorldVenture at (720) 283-2000 or write them at email@example.com. We do not give away tote bags or mugs, but each new regular donor will get one of Gary’s books in the mail. Many thanks!
THIS MONTH, IT’S GARY’S TURN TO SHARE
Gary! You are a regular professor at ESEPA and just gave an online course on how to read ancient Greek manuscripts! And you are editing the Old Testament in SUN, for deaf non-readers! So, what do you do in your spare time?
GARY: Well, go to the gym. Read a lot, sometimes at the gym. Watch foreign movies while Karen teaches online. Do the New York Times crossword puzzle.
And importantly, I just finished a new book in Spanish:
MYTHS THAT CHRISTIANS BELIEVE. AND CIRCULATE.
As a kid I was captivated by stories of pirate treasure, Bigfoot, UFOs. Years later, we visited Loch Ness. And one of my pet topics lately has been to either confirm or debunk those stories that get circulated among believers. So when my publisher in Spain asked, “What is the next book you want to publish with us?”, we hit upon that theme.
In the book I examine about 35 such stories. A few turned out to be true, but most were false rumors. Several have to do with Hebrew and Greek. Some have to do with the Bible. Some have to do with current events or the End Times.
Why is this book important just now?
First, because we are living in a crisis of truth, where we tend to accept a story if it agrees with what we already think. We then circulate them without determining if they are fact or fiction. Second, as Christians, we should be a model of telling the truth in love, of not bearing false witness. My book is not just to fact-check past or present myths, but to teach Christians how to value the truth, and how to be discerning when the next one lands in our In-Box.
Here are a few of my topics. Which do you think are True and which False?
- The Soviets dug a well so deep that they broke through into hell and heard the screams of the damned.
- “The Eye of the Needle” was a low gate in Jerusalem.
- NASA proved Joshua’s account of how the sun stood still.
- The Hubble spotted the New Jerusalem approaching the Earth.
- There is a computer in Belgium called The Beast and it contains all your data (the picture that comes with that rumor is on the front cover of my book).
- Archaeologists have found Egyptian chariots and horse skeletons under the Red Sea.
- Christian pilots are always paired with non-Christian ones. “In case of Rapture.”
Each one is False, as I go to great lengths to demonstrate.
My publisher liked the book and said, “Why don’t we also publish it in English?” So possibly we will see that in a couple of years. In the meantime, go to my blog, openoureyeslord.com, and look up “myths” to see a few.
- Gary is planning to teach a course in Cuba in mid-October. Pray he gets his visa and travel plans settled
- Pray that our support level comes up to 100%
- Pray for Karen’s course from Levanta la Voz
Karen: “I will never look at kazoos the same way again!”
Perhaps a bit of background on that one!
March and April were extremely busy for my ministry. One conferences after another, presenting material on all sorts of subjects and age level. .
When that combined with the involved spiritual warfare, travel, lack of time to regroup between events – and most of our belongings still in boxes – it was an extraordinarily stressful time that left me feeling isolated, exhausted and disoriented.
Then came my last event, the spring women’s retreat of Woodlyn Baptist Church at Camp Sankanak. I didn’t have much to do except to give a very short ministry update and to be a small group leader. The 4 of us in our group enjoyed lively discussions comparing Bible passages in various translations and applying them to our lives. Soon we all felt so comfortable together that one woman shared some personal concerns. The rest of us rallied around her with prayers and offers of help and it was a special time of ministry. It wasn’t until later that it dawned on each of us how perfectly suited that particular group of women had been to help our sister. It was a group so perfectly put together that only God could have done it. And that got us thinking.
Usually small groups are pre-organized. But this time it had been different: each small group leader was given a differently colored kazoo ahead of time (my kazoo was red).
During our first large group meeting everybody else picked a kazoo from a large bag without looking or understanding the significance of the different colors. The colored kazoos assigned us to groups. But obviously, it was God who grouped us together. So God used a bag full of kazoos to make sure we were all in the right place at the right time to be his voice and arms so he could love and help one of his precious daughters.
We will never look at kazoos the same way again. We will never look at God the same way again. Praise him!
Welcome to new newsletter friends from:
Faith BFC Harleysville women’s retreat
Woodlyn Baptist Church women’s retreat
North Chester Baptist Church
June 12—Tasker Street Missionary Baptist Church morning service, 9am at 2010 Tasker Street, Philadelphia, PA, or online https://www.facebook.com/TSMBC2
- Household focus: Finish and move into Karen’s home office, finish unpacking and organizing
- Karen’s ministry focus: website and social media presence for recruiting new students
- Gary’s ministry focus: doing the final edit of the SUN Old Testament for the deaf non-reader; giving ESEPA courses.
In April, all of the WorldVenture missionaries from the Americas got together in Orlando. A milestone, after years of COVID!
This month we will catch up on three of Gary’s ministries.
One: Authoring a Catechism for the Deaf and Deafblind
I have now finished two years of work on the SUN Bible for Wycliffe Associates. This is a Bible translation for the Deaf and the Deafblind, written in an entirely new language that the blind can read with their fingers. The whole Bible is available, and one last step is that in 2022 I will be going through the entire Old Testament one more time, to make sure of its “consistency” – that is, the same symbol is used the same way every time. So far, I have done Genesis, half of Numbers, Ecclesiastes, and Jonah.
We have other materials too – for example, we now offer “Our Daily Bread” in SUN!
Plus: last summer I had one of those “Aha!” moments. It occurred to me that, since SUN is such a simplified code language, it would be an ideal medium for a CATECHISM, a short-cut to learning Basic Christianity. The deaf can see/the deafblind will read with their fingers, and they can even memorize them and write them back to their teacher.
Now, back in 1969, when I was preparing for baptism, we memorized a catechism. For those who haven’t used one, it traditionally has a question-and-answer format. Here we are, just after being baptized.
Gary’s turn this month.
We have seen many, many of you in the past few months! We popped up to Pennsylvania in April to get vaccinated and see the family, and decided we should make the rounds of some of our supporting churches. There were only so many Sundays, so we are sorry we didn’t see all of you: you will be at the top of the list for next time!
For those we did not see: all summer I have been preaching on the Two Great Commandments – to love God and to love our neighbor. My sense has been that while the church always pledges allegiance to those two priorities, we often get diverted into other crusades.
You can watch our missionary update and read my whole sermon HERE (https://openoureyeslord.com/2021/08/01/the-two-greatest-commandments-do-we-really-believe-that-the-bible-got-it-right-luke-1025-42/).
People who tell you or even imply by their tone of voice that before doing the First and the Second you need to, that before Loving God with all your being some other box must be checked, to create a political or family or cultural or social environment and THEN we can begin to do Commandment One and Two, is telling Jesus he got it wrong. He or she is like the man who is plowing the field and keeps looking back over his shoulder. It doesn’t matter if you zig left or zag right, you’ll be plowing a crooked row. And the apostles agree on this: look at Romans, 1 Peter, 1 John, and even Revelation: the church of Ephesus was perfect except for this: they had lost their first love; and Jesus said he would snuff out their candle for that one error.
The Good Samaritan demonstrates his love for his neighbor
No, Commandment One, Commandment Two are correctly labeled and in the right order: Love for God – by developing intimacy with God (which would require a whole series of sermons) – concrete steps to know him intimately, spend time with him, learn his ways; for the first commandment is to love Him with all your being – can you begin to find and help your neighbor. Love your neighbor as yourself – spend time with them, learn about them, put yourself in their shoes, and love them as God does. Jesus did both commandments perfectly, and it sent him to the cross. And both these commandments we do in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and only through the power of the Holy Spirit who teaches us to love.
I realized that not everyone was up to date on my work with Wycliffe Associates. I am the final editor through the entire Old Testament in a new symbol-language Bible for the deaf-and-blind and the deaf illiterate. (My final exam was to translate Jonah 1 into SUN). The SUN Bible New Testament is already available, and the Old Testament will be out as soon as possible. HERE is a full description (https://www.mnnonline.org/news/symbolic-universal-notation-a-new-way-to-reach-the-deaf-and-blind/). And you can take a look here (https://bibleineverylanguage.org/processes/sun/) and you can download a book to see what it looks like (actually, for the deaf-blind, feels like – they read it with their fingers!).
Blessings this month! Gary and Karen
Gary’s turn this month
2020 and 2021 are apparently the years for my books to get published. My 1 Corinthians commentary was just released English by Kerigma, Salem OR. It’s available on Amazon (only $25!) or on Logos Bible Software; the Spanish version is available on Amazon as well.
It was written in the first instance for the Latin American church, and to prepare it I did a lot of talking with Costa Ricans about how it can be applied to daily life. It should be useful for North Americans too. In fact, when people read it in English, they will have the chance to feel what it is like for us in the south, where many, many commentaries are translations of US works, and often include American cultural assumptions on how the Bible should be applied. Some American Christians I know regard their own exposition as “scientific, objective exegesis” and that of others as “culture-bound, subjective eisegesis (= reading our ideas into the text).” I disagree, or, at least I assert that life is more complicated than that. In fact, I have never met anyone- including the face I see in the mirror every morning – who opens the Word, free ideas of “what the Bible should say.”
In addition, writers – or preachers or teachers – do not just study the biblical text; they also “exegete” the audience in order to bridge the gap between God’s Word and God’s people.
In the commentary we go verse by verse through the text, and also give analyses of many key topics: marriage and divorce, the spiritual gifts, Christian leadership, pastoral ministry, poverty and wealth, unity. As an example:
True unity does not live in terror of disagreement, nor does it give up in disgust when disagreement occurs. I say this again: a person who is truly loving and living in unity with the church will at times say hard things, not because it is pleasant to do so, but because it is loving. Unity means that in a sinful world, even godly people will have occasional frictions, even sharp arguments. Unity leaves room for loving disagreement over details and disagreement over major issues. Unity does not seek calm for its own sake, but because that peace is the best way to represent God’s truth.
Spoiler: I should have another book in English being published this year; will announce it when it comes out! It will have an iceberg on the cover.
And a summer 2021 update: Greetings from Pennsylvania!
We were unable to get vaccinated in Costa Rica, so we decided to pop up to the States for a couple of months; and as soon as we flew up, Costa Rica when back on strict shutdown. So, this will be our summer to meet some of our churches and individual reporters, in order to bring them up to date on our work. Our calendar is filling up! Contact Karen at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 717-413-1764. Meanwhile, we are doing our regular work of teaching and writing in beautiful Lancaster County. We will see many of you over the next weeks.
Our son-in-law Chris, Vik’s husband, just graduated with his master’s degree! Congratulations Chris!
Blessings! Gary and Karen
Karen shares this month:
To see Karen’s online class, search out “Training Churches to Speak Up” on YouTube.
I love the old doxology: “Praise God from whom all blessings flow, praise him all creatures here below, praise him above ye heavenly hosts. Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Amen.” Every time I hear it I have beautiful memories of singing it in church as a child accompanied by organ and piano, 50 of us singing it in 4-part harmony before meals while on Chorale tour in college, and singing it a cappella with Grace Bible Fellowship Church short term missions team up in the mountains as the fog cleared to uncover the beautiful Central Valley of Costa Rica as the city lights came on at dusk.
Lately the song has been repeating itself in my mind as I watch God work around me here in San José. After years of work and preparation, in February I began teaching my new course The Church Confronting Sexual Violence. We had 17 adults in our first English cohort, a mix of US missionaries and Costa Ricans, and met here in our home. Just about the time I started to get the hang of everything, exactly half-way through the 8-week course, quarantine changed everybody’s world. Within a couple of weeks, we had figured out Plan B: we were back at it, studying together via live video conference. “Praise God from whom all blessings flow!”
Even while we were finishing up those last 4 weeks, it dawned on me that switching to an online format had truly opened up new possibilities. There were fellow missionaries around the world who wanted to take the course, plus some workers in the US, and some of them had extra free time while they were waiting for quarantine to lift. We opened cohort #2 to start immediately after the first one and have now gotten through the first 5 weeks. Taking the course are adults who work in Russia, Spain, Mozambique, Brazil, Colombia, Honduras, Costa Rica, Ecuador and the USA. “Praise him all creatures here below!”
One of my students shared with us recently about her experience in Honduras. She is fairly new there, so asked someone whether their large church had any type of child safety policy. The question got to the pastor, who replied that they did not have one, and was so troubled by it that he couldn’t sleep. The next morning, he got in touch with their denomination’s leaders to ask if any of their churches had such a policy. They did not, and the denomination’s leaders were so convicted about it that they asked us to please help ALL of them set up a child safety policy as soon as possible! I am still stunned and in awe of how God is clearly moving in the hearts of church leaders here in Central America! “Praise him above ye heavenly host!”
Needless to say, I am already making connections with people who can help translate everything so we can train those church leaders, plus anyone else who will listen! And now while I work, that familiar song of praise is in my heart, tying the old to the new, and my strength is renewed with gratitude that God has finally let me see the first true fruit of years of hard work and uncertainty! “Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost!”
ANNIVERSARY! We praise God too as we celebrate a personal milestone: our 40th wedding anniversary! We were having trouble deciding how to celebrate in quarantine, so our dear missionary friends Nancy and Paul Mauger treated us to a delicious breakfast!
Many blessings this month! Gary and Karen
At the moment I have all I need—and more! I am generously supplied with the gifts you sent me with Epaphroditus. They are a sweet-smelling sacrifice that is acceptable and pleasing to God. And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. Now all glory to God our Father forever and ever! Amen. (Philippians 4:18-20, NLT)
With just a few small changes his words are still applicable today for the Shogren family: “We too have all we need – and more! We have been generously supplied with the gifts many of you have sent online or through the mail. They are a sweet-smelling sacrifice that is acceptable and pleasing to God. And this same God who takes care of us will supply all YOUR needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. Now ALL GLORY TO GOD our Father forever and ever!”
Every day there are unlimited reminders of your generous faithfulness: every time we go food shopping or pay our electric bill, it is a testament to God’s faithfulness through you. Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts! Without you we would not be able to focus on our ministries in Costa Rica and elsewhere, training church leaders and missionaries through teaching, mentoring, and writing.
Now there is a new reminder of God’s generous provision at our house – in the garage! Thank you, Rose family, for your over-the-top generous gift of a 2011 Nissan Murano with only 43,000 miles logged on it!
As we spend the spring of 2018 visiting our support team, this is the message that Gary is preaching. It combines several favorite themes: the Great Commission, Bible Prophecy, and the mission of the church in the world today. Click and enjoy!
Footnote: I made a numerical error about 24 minutes in; instead of 4000 I should have said 2700+ language.