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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Book report #3, John Paton, missionary to the New Hebrides

Dear Readers;
We are now up to my most recent required reading (though not most recent reading) is John G. Paton, Missionary to the New Hebrides; An Autobiography.   As guessed by the title it is an autobiography.  It is 212 pages long, and divided very unevenly into ten chapters.  It is not repressed by any "politically correct views," that is none of today's.  
The first chapter, covering his family history and early life was rather slow, and was rather boring wading through.  The most interesting highlight from it concerned how his grandfather escaped death at the hands of the "pirate of the seas" John Paul Jones.   A different view then one usually hears of that individual.
Fortunately the book picks up in speed and interest from the second chapter.  By the third chapter I was not needing to be told to read it before other books.   This in fact was my favourite chapter, concerning his evangelism amongst the Catholics and other characters of the Scottish town.
In the fourth chapter he goes into the main thrust of this book, his missionary interests.  He was accepted into his church's missionary wing, and was sent to the South Seas.  He describes in latter chapters that this was not the ideal, relaxing, no-worries, mission field that some of you might be thinking.  Mainly the weather was nice, except for the worst hurricanes in anyone's memory hitting the island after he arrived.  The food was good except there was a fair chance of getting a poisonous fish (which in fact killed off at least two of his helpers).  Then the natives of the islands were friendly, except they were cannibals, entirely perfidious, utterly treacherous, and they thought it a virtue to be able to lie and get away with it (sounds like a few politicians I have heard of).   
He worked under some of the hardest circumstances I have heard of in the field, included but not limited to mosquitoes, malaria, diarrhea, consumption, the death of his newborn son, the death of his wife, the critics' insults for these two previous things,  a hurricane flattening his house and destroying much of his other work, the knowledge of previous missionaries being killed, the enmity of the heathen witch doctors, the enmity of most of the chiefs, the equally disturbing result of treachery by supposed friendly chiefs, constant and blatant thievery of almost everything he had, the enmity of the equally pagan European sandal wood traders, their thievery of his boat, and lastly almost daily threats to his life.  The list could easily be extended.  To the world this is of all things strange, a man who willingly stayed at his post despite all this, despite over five times being offered free passage else where.  
The thing that in hindsight seems most to have destroyed his work was the evil influence of the sandal wood traders, and it well seems that they were a worse lot then the cannibals that Paton had gone to witness to.  
I hope this does not spoil it, but he survives all of their attempts to kill him.


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

♪ A Pilgrim was I and a wand'ring... ♪

See the 'gator?   We were out for a walk in downtown Lakeland, FL, and spotted this big guy with nary a fence between us and him.  Gives me chills.  And people think Africa is wild!
One of the highlights of traveling is seeing old friends!  We were delighted to get time with the Burts in Valdosta, GA.  The kids especially liked their golf cart.  Paul's known them for more than 30 years. 
Paul preached at a sports' banquet for young basketball players in Valdosta. 
How Southeners, including Paul, feel about grits.  
The Burts' golf cart the boys got to drive.   By the way, all these pictures are taken from a Tracfone, so the quality is a little different from my deceased camera.  
Tim artfully dodges a family photo op as he has a nosebleed in Cedar Keys, Florida, a beautiful place I'd never heard of before.  It's hard to remember my family is still buried in snow in Maine.
Pastor and Mrs. Bill Keith took us to a memorable lunch, with some delicious seafood.  

The Gulf of Mexico is calmer then the Atlantic Ocean.
The next island in the keys is only accessible by boat.
The restaurant we went to was on a key connected by bridges and causeways to the mainland.  
 Evangel designed a new DVD cover, and we spend a lot of time printing them and sticking them on the DVD's so we can give them out at churches.  They hold 23 of Paul's chalk drawings, Timothy's video Time is Not the Friend of Evolution, and Evangel's movie Star of Light.  
The cabin queen. 
Near Whigham, GA, we got a whole day with no driving, and 2 nights in this rustic cabin beside a pond. 
The boys got in a bunch of target practice.  
And Josh was pulling in the brim faster then we could eat 'em.
Evangel caught one friendly fellow who's waving at you.
John and Diane Glover came out to visit us in the cabin. We hadn't seen them since we were newlyweds, over 20 years ago, and the fellowship was wonderful.

I love this picture.  This man Mr. Calvin trains bird dogs, and he told us, "I love what I do.  I know as sure as any preacher that this is what God called me to do."  Dog training is just part of his job.  He manages a 2500 acre quail hunting plantation.  As he talked about how he can see the Lord's greatness in the beauty of a bird dog hunting, and the way it points, it reminded me of Eric Liddle, the Olympic runner of Chariots of Fire fame, saying he felt God's pleasure in his running.

We are so privileged in the people we meet, and I'm so, so thankful our kids get to meet them too.
It's wonderful to be part of God's family.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Josephus; Thrones of Blood

This second book read and reported on by Timothy Young, age 17.  

Dear Readers;
The book on topic is Josephus; Thrones of Blood; A History of The Times of Jesus 37B.C. To A.D. 70.   It is the hacked down edition meant for the mythical creature of the common man.  It is 231 pages long, divided into sixteen chapters and prologue.
Generally it achieves the translators goal of being able to be read by the common man.  In other words the simpler words are chosen rather then words of complexity even when it does great damage to the general flow of the history.   
It somewhat picks up as it goes along, becoming more interesting towards the beginning of Agrippa's maneuvering through Roman court life.  As a history book it is an ideal source, however it is not, for the average person, a real page turner.  
It really gets interesting once the Roman governor Florus arrives.  After doing something that was bad enough to know he would be in trouble he decided to save his career by inciting the Jews to revolt.  It is amazing how short sighted some politicians were back then isn't it?  It is also surprising how much it took for the Jews to be rallied up into revolt, but eventually he succeeded in his goal.  
After the rebellion was begun however there was no particular leader, and Jerusalem was ruled by robber/assassins who generally ruined whatever chance there had been of holding the city.  They also fought in the temple constantly, destroying most of the supplies that possibly could have aided in the siege, so that at the beginning of the siege already the poor of the city were starving.  With this great disadvantage it is entirely unsurprising that the city fell.  The siege is unlike the last five or six sieges that I have studied in that the defenders had no commander-in-chief, and no discipline.  The walls of Jerusalem were capable of holding out forever against the army in front of them had it not been for for the three above mentioned factors, and of course the fourth that God had decided to judge that city.  
The siege was well conducted only from the outside point of view.  The defenders of Jerusalem were, from the sound of things, well deserving of their fate.  A simple reading of the book will convince the unprejudiced of that.  In short one finds oneself siding with the Romans the moment Florus and company have left the scene. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015


Note:  Guest appearance from Timothy Young, by coercion.  He is doing a series of book reports on books he is reading, also by coercion, but I think he's enjoying them too.  

My Dear Reader,
This is a report on a book recently read titled George Müller of Bristol.  It is a 462 pages long, counting everything from preface to the last appendix.  It has 24 chapters of good length (good is around ten pages each my opinion).   It has 13 appendixes labeled from "a" to "n".  The author of this doorstopper is Arthur T. Pierson who met Mr. Müller in the latter's later life.
It was written very shortly after the subject's death in 1896 on March 10th. (coincidently this report is being written on the 119th anniversary of this date) The edition I got a hold of might very well be from the first patch printed in the USA, however in perfect discordance to the usual habit, it has no date of printing and thus this a guess.
In the first chapter the author covers briefly the childhood, teenage, and early twenties of George Müller.   George Müller was born as any one who reads Wikipedia can ascertain on the 27th of September in 1805 in Prussia.   His father was a tax collector and they were comparatively well to do. 
His father showed favoritism towards him over his brother which was detrimental to the early family.  He was undisciplined and quickly became a proficient liar.  His father gave both boys amounts of money which they wasted, and when questioned simply lied about.  When caught and punished they did not reform, but only evolved more elaborate methods of cheating or robbing their father.  He not only stole his father's money, but even went after government money under his father's care.   
Despite this, for some strange reason his father sent him to a cathedral school for training to enter university so that he could be a pastor in the Lutheran Church. Now this sheds considerable light on the state of the German church in the 1800s if a boy who was well known to be a thief, cheat, and able liar should be selected for a pastor.  
His habits did not dissipate because of the this separation, but seemed to grow only the faster, so that when his mother lay dying it was discovered that their fourteen year old son was drunk in the streets.  Her death did not even rouse his conscience which seems at this point to have been well near dead.  He entered training for confirmation and was not changed at all by this.  Indeed when his father gave him money that was customarily given for the confirmation he stole eleven twelfths of it.  This is not usually counted to be a sign of true repentance.   As to the rest of his school life, university, and pre-conversation life he carried on in the same general path. 
He and a group of others similar to him by a dint of exceptional lying got a hold of a number of passports and visited Switzerland in attempts of indulging their sinful passions more fully.  When this was done the group returned to Germany.  One of their number felt guilty and determined to reform and invited George to the meeting.  George was there saved.
He was there it seems, truly converted.  In 1826 he began to think of mission work after reading missionary journals (a good way of starting) and was beginning to go that way when he was somewhat distracted by a girl.  To say somewhat is actually a little of an understatement, for he almost seemed to shut down all his prayer and any other sign of being a Christian during this period.  At the end of six weeks however this changed with his younger brother going to Poland to be a missionary amongst the Polish Jews.  This shocked George into the right way, for his brother had been comparatively wealthy, and had all the more reason to stay in Germany then he.
After that he determined to go to England (After much prayer as was the course from this point of his whole life).   He was there challenged on the subject of baptism, and after an private study of the Bible he determined that it was, "of all revealed truths, not one is more clearly revealed in the Scriptures-- not even the doctrine of justification by faith-- and that subject has only become obscured by men not having been willing to take the Scriptures alone to decide the point."
Shortly after this he also determined to cease taking a fixed salary from that point onward.  On October 7th 1830 he married a Miss Mary Grover (Spoiler:  the author does not spend much longer on the subject then I just did.) 
In 1835 he opened an orphanage which is considered by many to be his main life work.  His main difference fromn others of the time though was this, he asked of no man (or woman) anything, except orphans at first.   He was extremely careful that he did not let himself or anyone that worked with him ask money of anyone.   George Müller was one of the two men who gave much of the impetus to what is called faith missions.  Hudson Taylor was inspired by him to go to China with the same mindset that he would not ask of any man for money, but solely rely on what God gave him in answer to prayer.
From 1875 he took less of the lead in the work in the orphan houses, and instead went on missionary journeys on every inhabited continent except South America, and for the next seventeen years of his life he continued speaking in them.   Recall this, he started at the age of seventy, and continued into his late eighties.   From his tours alone he would have been remembered as a great man, but this after a full life's work!  For the last six years of his life he returned to his home in England, and continued preaching to the Sunday of that week and giving out the hymns on the Wednesday night prayer meeting of the week that he died.
If a man is to be judged by his funeral, George Müller did very well for a man who had not one hundred English pounds to his name.  Tens of thousands of people lined the route of the procession.  They then stopped at Orphan House number three (of five) and had a service.   After this the procession made for Bethesda where there was a second service, where there was standing space only.  Nearly eighty carriages followed the procession to the cemetery where he was laid to rest.   This is very impressive when one considers that this was only four days after his death. 
Though he died then at a goodly age, his works have continued to this day.  His work amongst the orphans is what he is best remembered for, but this is not his only work.   He served from 1836 roughly in connection with the church as the senior pastor/elder.   His missionary efforts are at least as great as many others of that century, and much greater then many of this century.  His yearly Reports are one of the strongest proofs of the effectiveness of prayer that has existed.  His secret-- it does him injustice to call it that, for he proclaimed it broadly-- was his prayer.   If the saying, "a man is only what he is when on his knees" is true he was a giant rarely matched throughout all church history.


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Monday, March 9, 2015

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

 Thrillsville!  We got to go to Maine!  Maine's having it's deepest snow in about 100 years, and we got to see it.  For the kids, this was already on the schedule:  a trip to visit their grandparents and other important people in Maine.  For me it was a last minute decision to go along as my Dad had been hospitalized with some mysterious bleeding.  When he started having pneumonia, I thought I needed to go too.
 It was our first time to see their ol' homestead, established in 2014.  My parents and sister and brother-in-law moved in here in October and I was tickled to be able to see where they live.  We were all pleased when my Dad got out of the hospital and was in reasonably good shape for our 8 day visit, though the bleeding started again and he was back in ER the day we left.  He's 89.  "If by reason of strength they be fourscore, yet is their strength labour and sorrow"...Ps90:10.
 I enjoyed a few walks in the winter wonderland.  The best one was out on the lake at their "camp", but I didn't bring the camera.  Good thing because we ended up rolling off the ice as we were falling through to a slush layer which sucked my boot right off!
This trail above was made by a snow mobile so was hard packed enough to walk on, without going up to our thighs in the snow.
 The white birch trees were pretty in the snow.
 My Mom's wreath added a spot of color to a largely black and white landscape.  I love and admire their decorating style on this new house.
 I'm so glad the boys got to make snow angels.
 They discovered the easy part is flopping down and flapping.  The hard part is standing up again without ruining your angel.
Last and least, I thought some of my lady friends in South Africa would just like a glimpse of how they get mail and send off their trash with all this snow around.  My family uses a snow blower to clear away enough snow to find the mailbox, and then the trash goes in that cleared out nook too, to be picked up on Wednesdays, I think.

I loved seeing our kids impressions of things, and excitement over the icicles.  Hopefully I can post a picture of an icicle over 6 feet long that the kids picked and posed with.

It was a wonderful thing to be with family we haven't seen in nearly 2 years.  I thank God for a loving family.

Friday, February 27, 2015


 That last week in South Africa was intense!  We had so many things to prepare for the trip, and loose ends to tie up.  Included in that was FOUR trips to try to get a driver's license for James and Evangel, two each.  No licenses were scored, but that added to the tension (and tears).  James pulled an all-nighter the last night to finish DVD's for us to take to the States.  Poor guy.  We hope to do better next time.  I'm glad that we could take the time to do a special outing in honor of Connie's 4th birthday!  Gloria and I took these 4 to the World of Birds in Hout Bay. 
 They had enough guinea pigs to make a Peruvian drool!  This could be lunch for 25 people!
 The World of Birds includes many rescued owls, but the thing Connie most wanted to see was the
 monkeys!  We got to go into the squirrel monkey encounter and let them climb all over us. 
 We weren't supposed to touch them, just let them touch us.  They might bite if they feel threatened, but otherwise they're cute little rascals.  It's hard not to touch them, but our kids did well. 

Cousin Josh made the "cake"! 
 On the last day in South Africa, we had a little early pink birthday party for Connie. 
 She liked trying on her clip on earrings, and thought it pretty funny I could wear them on my nose too. 
 Connie testing out her dangerous new stilts.  It was a lovely last day, and very nice and warm.  The next day was all busy and bustling and we flew out to arrive to things like this:
 Brr!  Our kids were very impressed with the first ice storm they remember. 
 I am so pleased they could see all this beauty!
 I think this one will end up on Evangel's blog with a verse like "Behold the beauty of the Lord!" or "the earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof!"  Iced over pecan trees in the sun make me know there's a beauty loving Creator!  And our God supplies our needs.  Look where we're going to be staying much of the next 4 months!
 Paul's uncle gave this beautiful motorhome to Paul's sisters who are loaning it to us.  We're going in style! 
This is another thing I'm glad the kids get to experience.  We lived in a motorhome for 3 years before we moved to South Africa, but Josh has no memory of it, and Tim doesn't remember much so now they'll have their own memories of the roving, rolling lifestyle. 

I was a little nervous abut driving it, but when the time came, it's just like driving anything else.  You just can't think of all that is behind you.  And it's a good idea to stay on the right side of the road.  That took a while to get our minds switched over, but I think we're there now.