Author Archives: David

About David

I was born in Mississippi, the child of a pastor / Christian radio host (Dad) and a homemaker (Mom). Some of my fondest childhood memories were spending time with family while taking apart electronic devices.

The Spirit himself intercedes for the saints

As mentioned before I am doing an in depth study of Romans. This includes reading multiple commentaries, using Greek tools, and studying the Old Testament references that Paul makes. So I have just now after nearly three months made it to near the end of chapter 8. This morning I was reading Romans 8:26-30 and verses 26 through 28 really stuck out to me.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:26-28

The first thing to note is that we are weak! In fact the very next sentence says, “we do not know what to pray for as we ought.” Now I want to examine this morning. You see some translations actually translate this as “we do not know how to pray as we ought.” The NASB is the chief among these. The NASB happens to be one of my other favorite translations. This led to me doing some research. Why?

What I learned was that this word in Greek τίς and it is a “an interrogative pronoun, who, which or what (in direct or indirect questions)”. Further research showed that it could be translated as either how or what! Meaning either one is is valid. We do not know how or what we ought to pray for us.

This leads to the good news! “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness”! Dwell on that today. Not only does the “Spirit himself intercedes for us”, but he does so with “groanings too deep for words”! This chapter by and far does not end here. It goes on to show how God foreknew us -> predestined us -> called us -> justified us -> gloried us!

Paul does not stop there! Read the rest of Romans 8 today!

 

 

 

 

10 of Our Favorite Questions

With our family preparing to go to PNG we thought it would be fun to give you 10 of our favorite questions. Now of course we added in some of the lighthearted ways we wanted to answer along with the ways in which we actually answered the question. So without further ado our favorite questions.

#1 Where is Papua New Guinea? Is it in Africa? 

God created Australia just perfectly to point to the most amazing island nation in the world. Papua New Guinea. It is in the Pacific just north of Australia and to the east of Indonesia. No where near Africa. You could be thinking of Guinea.

World Map with PNG Highlighted

#2 Are you taking all of your kids with you?

Um… no. You wanna keep one? Hold on a second. Oh Melissa just told me that yes we are taking them all.

#3 There are 830+ languages in PNG!? How many languages do you speak?

Computer or human? Human: 1 Computer: 6. Yeah I know I’m ashamed that I don’t speak more computer languages.

PNG Language Map

#4 How do the grandparents feel about you taking the grandkids all that way to PNG?

They are very supportive! Happy about their grandkids being around the world, well that is a little harder.

#5 Computer programming… Can’t you do that here in the states?

The answer is both yes and no. Yes I can, however like other organizations the needs of having a programmer on the ground is important. For example Microsoft has its main office in Redmond, WA. However, they have offices in several locations including Charlotte, NC. They hire programmers mostly in Redmond, but they also have programmers in Charlotte.

#6 How long is your missionary trip?

We are what is known as career missionaries. Meaning that we hope to be in PNG for as long as God allows us to stay!

Computers are being used to speed Bible translation.

#7 Why are you still here?

Oh believe me we are ready to be there! Wycliffe is a faith based organization and each of its members raises their own budget. We have to be at 100% of our budget in order to go to PNG. As of this post we are at 81%! If God is leading you check out how you can be a part of our team.

Momentum 81%

#8 Will you be writing translation software? 

Perhaps in the future, but at this point the software I will be writing will handle more day to day operations. Ukarumpa has anywhere from 500 to 1500 missionaries and Papua New Guineans in it at any given time. Not all of these missionaries are from the United States, so that creates many different and challenging software needs. Also there are training facilities in PNG. An airport. A general store. Auto mechanics. The list goes on. Some of these of course can use off the shelf software, but not all of them.

#9 So you will not be doing a translation. You do realize that means your name will never be on it right?

This is very true. It is something that Melissa and I realized very early. Our names more then likely will not be remembered for any one translation. Instead we will be a part of many many translations by supporting translators in their work!

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#10 Will you come home during your term?

No. Unless there is some type of family emergency we will be there for our whole term of four years.

May He Grant: Recap

Through the month of May we have been praying for various needs within PNG as well as praying for needs that our family has in our journey to PNG. We just wanted to recap with you guys how God has used this month.

  1. Melissa and I feel extremely revitalized. Not that we had lost track of what God has called us to, but it is not an easy track.
  2. We have reached 75% of our monthly budget! This is exciting news.
  3. This month Melissa and I had to make an important decision. We were approached by the PNG office and asked if we would delay our initial field training. We will still attend this training, but we are going straight to Ukarumpa and will attend POC (Pacific Orientation Course) later. More then likely January. After much prayer we felt this to be the direction that God was leading us. So what does this mean? It means that as soon as our visas have cleared and we are at 100% (and released by Wycliffe) that we are free to go to PNG!
  4. God has been working in the lives of the kids preparing them for PNG. Of course each one in their own special way.
  5. We had opportunity to visit with a lot of family this past month and begin the goodbyes. It wasn’t always easy, but it was a very good time.

To finish off that last point we stayed with David’s parents for several days in Tullahoma, TN. It was a great time to be with Mom and Dad. Next we went to Huntsville and attended the graduation of one of Melissa’s cousins. In fact a cousin that was in our wedding as a very young ring bearer (I am feeling a little old). And last we stayed with Melissa’s mom, sister, and sister’s family for a week in the Smokey Mountains. All in all a great time to play games and see people. Many of whom we may not be able to see for at least four years.

Here are a few pictures from our time!

Dad & Talia Teaching the next generation Cake!! Cup Cake that is. Teaching the next generation. Mother's day Maria & Talia

photo 4 Nehemiah being a ham! Melissa's attempt at a road selfie. Our Cabin... ok maybe not. Family Picture inside the Cabin Different view of the cabin, kids!05.21.2014.009-3279529099-W05.21.2014.124-3279624863-W

May He Grant: May 6th

May 6: Pray that Melissa would have a strong, vibrant walk with God. Ask that she would be faithful to times in the Word, prayer, and fasting.

It’s Day 6 of our month of prayer focus, May He Grant. You can read more about our heart for this month, and print out a complete guide for the month here.

Pray that Melissa a mom of 5 can have a strong a vibrant walk with God. Sometimes getting through the day and accomplishing everything on her to do list can be daunting. In Mark chapter 10  Jesus is talking to his disciples about it being easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God. The disciples asked astonished, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus answers, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.”

Even rich with 5 kids, God can make all things possible. Please pray that Melissa will have have insight into Scripture. That she will have the time to accomplish her studying, praying, and fasting.

Importance of our prayer partners

Melissa and I have heard many times people say a variation of the following, “I’m sorry all I can do is partner with you in prayer.” This is a statement which baffles us especially after yesterday. Yesterday, a tornado came through our town, and by God’s grace Melissa, our five children, and our transportation, and myself were all protected from a tornado that either passed directly over our heads or just over from us! Prayer partners whom have been praying for us as we prepare to go to PNG; you are vital to us. Thank you.

Standing on our front porch looking to the right.

Standing on our front porch looking to the right.

Front porch looking straight ahead.

Front porch looking straight ahead.

Front porch looking to the left.

Front porch looking to the left.

Front porch looking to the left.

Front porch looking to the left.

Front porch looking to the left & up.

Front porch looking to the left & up.

Tree across the street in front of the house.

Tree across the street in front of the house.

Wider shot of directly across the street.

Wider shot of directly across the street.

Directly across the street.

Directly across the street.

Front of the house. Covering up a *huge* window. A stray branch from this tree knocked out one of the smallest windows. A few inches to the left (from this view) and it would have knocked out the really big window.

Front of the house. Covering up a *huge* window. A stray branch from this tree knocked out one of the smallest windows. A few inches to the left (from this view) and it would have knocked out the really big window.

Our front door with pieces of leaves pasted to the front.

Our front door with pieces of leaves pasted to the front.

Side yard looking toward Parkway Baptist Church. This is where we were asked to go to be evacuated out of the neighborhood.

Side yard looking toward Parkway Baptist Church. This is where we were asked to go to be evacuated out of the neighborhood.

Side of the house.

Side of the house.

From the side of the house.

From the side of the house.

Window that was cracked.

Window that was cracked.

Side yard.

Side yard.

Neighbors behind us.

Neighbors behind us.

Humongous tree next to our house. It fell next to it rather than on it.

Humongous tree next to our house. It fell next to it rather than on it.

Back of our house looking toward a different neighbor.

Back of our house looking toward a different neighbor.

The corner of the back of the house.

The corner of the back of the house.

These branches on their side are taller than the house.

These branches on their side are taller than the house.

Other side yard. Clayton Ave is one house over the the left of this picture.

Other side yard. Clayton Ave is one house over the the left of this picture.

Back yard looking at two other neighbors.

Back yard looking at two other neighbors.

Side yard and neighbor's crushed garage and car.

Side yard and neighbor’s crushed garage and car.

A better view of the side yard.

A better view of the side yard.

From the front yard looking at our mini-van.

From the front yard looking at our mini-van.

More of our front yard.

More of our front yard.

Front yard with our mini-van.

Front yard with our mini-van.

Our front glass in the living room. Where we were sitting just before the tornado came.

Our front glass in the living room. Where we were sitting just before the tornado came.

Our van escaped without a scratch. In fact I moved the branch on top of the trash. Had the trash can not slid under the branch it would have probably gone through the radiator!

Our van escaped without a scratch. In fact I moved the branch on top of the trash. Had the trash can not slid under the branch it would have probably gone through the radiator!

God was watching over even our transportation.

God was watching over even our transportation.

 

 

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Just behind the mini-van. My back is actually against the van.

Just beyond our driveway.

Just beyond our driveway.

 

 

 

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The church just down that street where many people took shelter. Many of their vehicles where destroyed.

The road in front of our house.

The road in front of our house.

 

 

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My brother and I walked in to get clothes early the next morning (4/29)

 

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Down Joyner just past Pinehurst. This is probably a half block over from us.

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Joyner Elementary school.

 

Joyner Ave.

Walking down Joyner Ave.

Would you consider partnering with us in prayer?

It was counted to him as righteousness – because of his faith

Right now I (David) am reading through the book of Romans for my devotions in the mornings. Just started last week and on chapter 4. Yes I’m a little slow ;). This morning as I was reading through chapter 4 a phrase about Abraham’s faith jumped out at me, but I’ll get to that in just a moment.

First a little context. Paul is in full swing talking about the law and faith. He comes to Abraham. Toward the end of the chapter he says:

He [Abraham] did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God. ~Romans 4:19-20 [My emphasis]

This is of course referring to God’s promise to make Abraham the father of many nations. At the point God made this promise, science, common knowledge, and all that makes sense to us humanly was working against Abraham. Or more specifically God’s promise. Paul even uses the language “he was as good as dead”. I always smile when I see the parenthesis and explanation as to say he was not being disrespectful just real. Not only was Abraham old (beyond really being able to conceive a child), but Sarah was also old and barren their entire marriage. Surely if God were going to make Abraham the father of many nations it would have happened by now or at least by human reasoning.

The phrase in bold is what jumped out at me. After Paul recounted that Abraham’s unbelief did not cause him to waver concerning God’s promise it says how. “… he grew strong in the his faith as he gave glory to God.” It reminds me of a song my mom used to sing the chorus of:

When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the LORD hath done.

Refrain:
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will keep singing as the days go by.

When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
Count your many blessings—money cannot buy
Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high.

So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.

Faith grows strong by giving glory to God; rather then to myself or my circumstances.

Tolerate Ambiguity

Ambiguity is not something a software developer or any I.T. professional really wants to deal with. In our world something ambiguous is considered bad. And I.T. professionals do not like bad (ok no one does). However, in our ICC training that we had at JAARS in Waxhaw, N.C., we learned a phrase, “Tolerate Ambiguity”.

Tolerate Ambiguity

In fact, it was on a large sign positioned over the whomever was speaking. It is a term that comes from a book that we used for our prerequisite reading for the course. Written by Duane Elmer, the book is Cross-Cultural Servanthood: Serving the World in Christlike Humility. Duane defining the phrase “tolerate ambiguity”:

Tolerating ambiguity, or living in uncertainty for periods of time, taxes our emotional strength, which in turn drains our physical capacity. Most Westerners manage their lives using PDAs, daily planners or computer pop-up reminders. Little room remains for the unexpected or ambiguous.

This is a quote I was not excited about in the book; actually if I were to be honest I out and out did not like this whole section of the book. Ambiguity? That’s bad. We software developers know this to be fact.

However, what God showed me was quite simple. I had taken this issue of ambiguity in my professional life and had applied to every other part of my life. Spiritual, financial, and even relational. I do not tolerate ambiguity.

Since ICC however, it is as if God has been drilling this down even further into my heart and mind. Making me realize that this attitude is wrong. You see right after ICC and our study of Ephesians I felt like God was directing me to study one of my favorite Old Testament books. Habakkuk. Now I have always had a special love of Habakkuk. This comes from the fact that I am not a very emotional person, and Habakkuk is one of the few books that stirs my emotions and causes me to be unable to turn them off. It is one of the hardest books for me to read.

From my study in Habakkuk here is what I have learned. In the very first opening of the book in chapter 1, Habakkuk is asking God why he sees violence and perverted justice in Israel. Eventually he asks God to remove these things from Israel. God then says to Habakkuk:

“Look among the nations, and see; wonder and be astounded. For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told.” Habakkuk 1:5 ESV

Now stop there for a moment. What is your first reaction when you see Habakkuk’s first question, and God’s answer? I expected (and sometimes still do) that God would wipe away the perverted justice and the violence in order to restore his statutes. That is not how God continues, however.

For behold, I am raising up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation, who march through the breadth of the earth, to seize dwellings not their own. Habakkuk 1:6 ESV

Um… not what I expected. Ambiguous? Most certainly. This is not at all what Habakkuk was praying that God would do! Not at all his intent. Don’t believe me. Read the rest of chapter 1 in Habakkuk where the dialog between God and Habakkuk continues. God is using this people whom are not his in order to discipline his own people.

Reading it this time so close to this new lesson in my life put all of this into perspective for me. This was ambiguous not only to Habakkuk, but to the whole of Israel. Then in chapter 3 I realized for the first time that Habakkuk tolerates ambiguity:

O LORD, I have hard the report of you, and your work [the raising up of the Chaldeans to seize dwellings not their own], O LORD, do I fear. In the midst of the years revive it [this work of raising up the Chaldeans]; in the midst of the years make it known; in wrath remember mercy. Habakkuk 3:2 ESV

For the first time I realized that this is Habakkuk in essence saying, “LORD you are sovereign, and I feel this to be ambiguous, but make it known to the world! But in your wrath remember mercy.” Before I re-read the section from Elmer’s book I realized two major things. 1) Tolerate ambiguity could be reworded, “Trust in God’s sovereignty”. 2) God is sovereign, and he does not have to or need to answer to me. Thus it is ambiguous to me, for if he answered to me it would no longer be ambiguous. I would know his purpose.

Therefore I must trust in God’s sovereignty, and learn to tolerate ambiguity. 

After re-reading this section I noticed something I had highlighted going through the first time, but had obviously forgotten:

(1) God wants us to know that he is in control of our lives and will act in love toward us at all times even though it may not seem so at the moment; and (2) God wants us to learn through this experience, to grow in some important way. ~Duane Elmer Cross-cultural Servanthood [emphasis mine]

Tolerate Ambiguity. Not an easy lesson, but one which I am only beginning to see is so amazing to trust God in all things. Even those things which I wish to control.

Shots, Physicals, and Vaccines Oh My!

Our ICC course work ended on February the 28th, so why are we still at JAARS in North Carolina? Well quite simple. We needed to accomplish several medical tasks. First we needed physical examinations. All. of. us. This meant blood work, weight, height, other tests, and for some of us special tests. For Melissa and I that added in lipids as well.

Happily all of our blood work came back great! The kids are all healthy aside from needing to check Sophia’s glasses and be sure the prescription is correct. Melissa’s lipids came back as great except for her good cholesterol was low. My (David) lipids came back even better, but also my good cholesterol was low. Also it was recommended that I loose weight, which was already a goal of mine. In fact the number they gave me was lower then the number I had in mind. Lastly because of the location of PNG and because of some of my family history, I needed to have an EKG. I was nervous that this was the case and that I would not pass. However, God in his graciousness allowed me to pass, and pass well. Nothing to worry about.

Once our physicals were done we needed to begin vaccines which of course were mostly in the form of shots. Some oral, but I turned out to be the only one who is doing the oral vaccine. Shots were not a lot of fun since several of them burned or ached going in, but all of the kids handled it well. Melissa handled it with grace as always. I had to lay down. Hey no one is perfect.

Shots recovery

Now that all of this fun stuff is completed we will be headed back to Tupelo, but not before a quick stop off at my parents place in middle TN for a few days. Sunday we hope to speak briefly at a church near their area. We are excited for the opportunity and look forward to telling them where God has brought us, and where he is leading!

Currently we are at 60% of our budget, so our next major goal is to get to 100%. This way once August rolls around we will be able to go to PNG! Please be praying that God will provide.

Growing Faith: Through Thanksgiving

Recently I shared with you my personal struggle with faith, and now I wanted to share with you some ways that God has been growing my faith this past two years. As of right now we have been on this journey of joining Wycliffe and preparing to go to Papua New Guinea now for the last year and eight months. The first that I have learned to grow faith is through thanksgiving.

God in the last few months has been showing me that thankfulness helps faith to grow. Remembering what God has done and has orchestrated to get us to the point that we are at. One great way of doing this is keeping track of prayer requests with how and when God answered them. I have found when (not if) my faith falters looking at this list and going over and over it again helps me to remember whom God is and how he loves us.

This is very similar to something that the Psalmists does in Psalm 136:

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
to him alone does great wonders,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
to him who by understanding made the heavens,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
to him who spread out the earth above the waters,
for his love endures forever;
to him who made the great lights,
for his love endures forever;
the sun to rule over the day,
for his love endures forever;
the moon and stars to rule over the night,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
and brought Israel out from among them,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
with a strong hand and an outstretched arm,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
to him who divided the Red Sea in two,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
and made Israel pass through the midst of it,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
but overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
to him who led his people through the wilderness,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
to him who struck down great kings,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
and killed mighty kings,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
Sihon, king of the Amorites,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
and Og, king of Bashan,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
and gave their land as a heritage,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
a heritage to Israel his servant,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
It is he who remembered us in our low estate,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
and rescued us from our foes,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
and he gives food to all flesh,
for his steadfast love endures forever.

Give thanks to the God of heaven,
for his steadfast love endures forever.

Faith: The transparency of one missionary

Help My Unbelief

Missionaries are often thought of as people who have extraordinary faith. I must admit that in the past I have been guilty of thinking this, however as our family draws closer to our target dates of going to Papua New Guinea I have learned that this is not true. The fact is that missionaries or at least this missionary struggles greatly with faith. Faith for even simple things. Like being able to go. Provision for the budget that we need. Or even just sanity to get through another day of two jobs, five kids, a wife, and a dog.

Now I must admit that I want to say that I have faith to believe that God will provide; that God will enable us to go to PNG, but truthfully as I examine my actions and the deepest resets of my heart I have to say I do not have faith to believe. In fact I then want to backup and say that I believe God can, but maybe it is not his will*. The truth of the matter; the heart of the matter is that I don’t believe that God can. I doubt that God can. This is a hard realization, but I think in our culture it is easy to say we believe and even think we believe. Until it comes down to action. Until we actually step out and people call us crazy. Then the faith that we have becomes manifest into action. This is where God has been dealing with me.

The last three weeks or so God has placed multiple passages about faith in my path. Mark 9 has been one of those passages. Not the transfiguration of Jesus mind you. Nor really Jesus’ healing of the boy. Instead Jesus’ dealings with the boy’s father. The father says in answer to Jesus’ question (Mark 9:21&22), “From childhood. And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us.” Notice the “if you can do anything”. The father did not believe that Jesus could. Perhaps because his disciples had failed. Perhaps because the father, as I am guilty of, doubts that God can. I don’t know. All I know is how the Spirit has been using this conversation in my own walk. Jesus then answers “If you can! All things are possible for one who believes.” Now ripped out of context this could mean God is a wishing well, but in its context it is about God’s glory. The transfiguration, disciples powerless to help this man and his son, Jesus healing the boy, and finally Jesus teaching the disciples about prayer. The father then answers “I believe, help my unbelief!”

The truth is I, like this father, do not even have the faith to believe. It is a gift of God’s grace that I have faith at all. The truth gets worse that left up to my own human devices I would not trust God nor believe that he could save me, nor provide for the work that he has called us to do, or strengthen us to do it. It is he who deserves all of the glory and the praise. For I am incapable of even trusting him. God provides not only the needs that we have, the details of our journey, but the very faith that it takes for us to obey and go!

So you see this image of great faith is nothing for me to glory in for all the glory belongs to God. I am a doubtful creature who says, “I believe; help my unbelief!”

* This only happens when things do not go according to my plan, but looking back at what God has done to get us to this place sets things into perspective. That it is his will.