Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Lord's Supper

Does your family have any traditions?  In just over six years of marriage, my wife and I have established one indespensible tradition- Ice Cream Fridays.  We were married on a Friday.  That day, we enjoyed ice cream together.  Every Friday since then, we have done the same.  We have currently celebrated over 310 Ice Cream Fridays!

While Ice Cream Friday is important for us- it really has no deep significance to it.  It simply gives us an excuse to enjoy the taste of ice cream.  You could say the Lord's Supper is a "tradition" that we believers observe.  Unlike our Ice Cream Fridays, this intaking of food has value.  It has spiritual significance.

A survey of the Scriptures that speak of the Lord's Supper reveal that this observance is a time to do at least six things.

1. It is a time to obey.  I Corinthians 11:24-25
- Jesus told His disciples to take the bread and the cup.  His words to them indicated that they were to continue to observe this.  We must remember that partaking in the Lord's supper is not a recently invented practice of the church.  It is not something the early church started.  It is not a command of the apostles.  It is a directive of the Lord Jesus Christ.  As we participate in the Lord's Supper, we are obeying our Lord.

2. It is a time to examine.  I Corinthians 11:27-32
- Paul pointed out the possibility of celebrating this occassion improperly.  In fact, some believers in Corinth had been judged for this very reason.  From this, we see the seriousness of the occassion.  In order to celebrate correctly, Paul admonishes them to examine themselves.  Each believer is to look at himself- noone else.  Each time we come to a celebration of the Lord's Supper, we should remember to examine ourselves and see if there is any unconfessed sin.

3. It is a time to hope.  Matthew 26:29; I Corinthians 11:26
- The disciples were to continue this tradition until Jesus came back.  This is a promise that He will return.  In the verse from Matthew, I see that it is a promise of three things: 1) Jesus will set up His Father's Kingdom, 2) Jesus will celebrate the Lord's Supper in the future, and 3) There is life after death.  Since God always keeps His promises, we can look to the future with hope- confidently awaiting Jesus' fulfillment of His promises.

4. It is a time to unite.  Mark 14:23
- As the disciples took part in this observance, they shared the bread and the drink.  As we do the same, we show the unity we have to Jesus Christ and, by extension, the unity we have to one another.  Earlier that night, Jesus had prayed that the disciples would be one (united) as He was one with the Father.  As we partake, we unite.

5. It is a time to show.  I Corinthians 11:26
- Each time we celebrate, we show the death of Jesus Christ.  One commentator suggests that we show this: 1) To God- showing Jesus is our sacrifice, 2) To ourselves- taking comfort in the fact that Jesus died in our place, and 3) To the world- we are trusting only in Jesus.

6. It is a time to remember.  I Corinthians 11:24-25
- He asked us to specifically remember two things- His body, which was broken for us and His blood, which was shed for us. We are to keep in mind the tremendous physical suffering he went through for our sins.  We are to ponder the sacrifice of His precious blood for us.  Remembering what He did should make us humble and thankful before Him.

Try to remember these the next time your church celebrates the Lord's Supper.  Is there one of these you have forgotten about? 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Lessons From a Missionary- Part 2

This week, I read Jonathan Goforth by his wife, Rosalind. In order to cement in my mind the lessons I learned, I reviewed highlighted passages and noted which ones stood out to me the most. (If you missed Part 1, you may read it here.)  Here are some quotes, followed by the lessons I learned:

7. "He always rose at five in summer and six in winter. . . within half an hour of rising, he had started his intensive Bible study with pencil and notebook." (Page 85)
Lesson: May I be disciplined to consistently climb out of bed!

8. "The Keswick Executive met on the last Saturday evening and requested that Mr. Goforth remain a year in Britain, holding meetings as a Keswick missioner, his salary and all expenses to be met by them. . . . Goforth would have acccepted this offer at once, but the consent of the Board in Toronto must be obtained.  A cable was sent, but the answer was in substance, 'Return to China.  Your field is there.'  Without objection Goforth obeyed." (Page 101)
Lesson: He had an open door- a good opportunity that he walked away from.  I need not take every ministry opportunity that comes my way.

9. "All through those five months of physically hard labor . . . never once was Mr. Goforth heard to complain." (Page 115)
Lesson: Several times in the book it mentioned his absence of complaining in the presence of hardship.  Considering the "softness" of many in our day, this is often missing.

10. "Since the New Version of the New Testament came out in Chinese, I will in a few days have gone over it thirty-five times in the Chinese text. . . . Before he crossed the Borderland, he had read the Bible seventy-three times from cover to cover." (Page 116)
Lesson: I want to devote my time to God's Word day by day so I may have the familiarity with it that Brother Goforth did.

11. "One of Mr. Goforth's most lovable traits was his simple humanness.  On this journey, with great zest he joined children or older ones in deck hockey and shuffle-board.  Though an opportunity to engage in outdoor sports came his way but rarely, when it did, he entered into the game with such joyous enthusiasm as to add to the pleasure of others.  In this way he made many contacts with those who habitually avoided missionaries, with a testimony for his Master which flowed naturally." (Page 119)
Lesson: In the service of the Lord, I want to always remember to remain a person.  I want to be able to relate to and interact with others.

12. "He fully realized his age limitations as he had already entered his seventieth year, but this fact, instead of causing him to 'slow down,' seemed to intensify the urge within him to press forward." (Page 131)
Lesson: The older I get, the more I want to press towards the finish line.

Were any of these a particular challenge to you?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Lessons From a Missionary- Part 1

This week, I read Jonathan Goforth by his wife, Rosalind.  In order to cement in my mind the lessons I learned, I reviewed highlighted passages and noted which ones stood out to me the most.  Here are some quotes, followed by the lessons I learned:

1. "For two years previously to his entering Knox College, Toronto, he rose two hours earlier each morning in order to get time for unbroken Bible study, before getting to work or off to school." (Page 18)
Lesson: What an example of someone who went out of his way to daily spend time with the Lord.

2. He was "always keen, not only to take advantage of opportunities but to make them." (Page 25)
Lesson: I have trouble taking advantages, let alone looking to make them.
3. "Since he, from the first, insisted that the full time for language study must be uninterrupted, getting settled was necessarily slow work." (Page 41)
Lesson: It's reassuring to know that Brother Goforth saw language learning as vital.   

4. "When Mr. Goforth was preaching in the chapel, the Chinese men often pointed to Mr. McGillivray, saying, 'You speak, we don't understand him,' pointing to Goforth." (Page 49)
Lesson: Even great missionaries struggle with language learning.  This will be a help to me each time I struggle to communicate in my new language.  

5. "One of the snares in the path of a young missionary is the temptation to 'fritter' precious time away on nonessentials, instead of bravely facing the inevitable hard task of regular language study." (Page 50)
Lesson: I need to examine how I fritter away time and see how I can better face the grind of learning Russian.
6. "Since Goforth's plan to open up his own field was a most radical one, it was necessary to get the consent of his co-workers.  Keen contention followed, but Goforth was sure the plan was a God-given one." (Page 83)
Lesson: He did not stick to the status quo.  He had ideas of how to get the Gospel out, and he went after it!

Which of these stood out the most to you?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Hughes News #37

Dear Friends,

Earlier this month, missionary David Gross and I visited a city in the north to consider it for church planting. We drove to Edineti one morning, spent a day exploring the city, and came back the next day. There are some things we could have done better, but we figure the best way to learn is just to get out and do it. This summer, we are planning two future scouting trips to Soroca and Comrat.

Our trip showed me the confusion that surrounds many people here in Moldova. When we first came here, I thought that most cities and villages had just the Orthodox Church. I am learning that there are more groups than I thought. Unfortunately, these groups are bringing with them sundry false doctrines. In addition to the Orthodox Church in Edineti, there is a strong Jehovah’s Witness presence, a Salvation Army Church, and two Pentecostal churches. Some Moldovans have never heard the Gospel. Many others have heard a false Gospel. There is much work to do!

We are so thankful to be able to continue our Russian lessons this summer. We cannot say enough about how blessed we are to have Svetlana as our teacher. She is always on time (in fact, 15 minutes early), dependable, experienced, and quite patient with our frequent mistakes.

More opportunities to minister have opened up in the church we are attending. We are both enjoying singing in the choir. I have preached once and will do so again soon.

In His service,
Jacob and Viola Hughes

For Prayer:
1. Two more scouting trips planned this summer
2. Continued progress learning Russian
3. A family with which to team up

For Praise:
1. More opportunities to minister in our church
2. Consistent support and better exchange rates
3. Celebration of Viola’s ??st birthday earlier this week

“Tie your shoes and pray for the Hughes”

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Technology Curve

How do you deal with the technology curve? 

In the last few weeks I have heard several bits and pieces of information that later I found to be somewhat linked, at least in my mind.  Here are some of the things that caused me to consider.

  • Listening to a speaker from the Logos corporation (a Bible software program), Viola heard that when people 25 and older hear the word "study," the word "book" comes to mind.  When people younger than 25 hear the word "study," the word "computer" comes to mind.
  • Viola also heard a statistic stating that a high percentage of the information young people gather is from the internet and not from books.
  • I read a blog post that talked about the "new internet."  A few months ago, more information was accessed on the internet via smart phones than via computer-based web browsers.  With this shift, businesses will need to spend more time developing web sites and apps that are suited for smart phones and less for web browsers.
  • Businesses and ministries are using social networking sites more and more to try to influence and/or serve people.
  • Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Google Plus, Blogs, Twitter, MySpace, YouTube . . .
 Now, I have never been one to be on the cutting edge of technology.  I didn't have a cell phone until months after we were married.  I have probably sent fewer than 50 text messages in my life.  I still do not have a smart phone.  I have never played with an iPad.  I am a dayplanner and pen kind of guy.  That is just me.

While I'll never be the one informing my friends about the specs of the newest Mac or the release date of the next iPhone, I don't want to needlessly bury my head in the sand and be oblivious to the changes around me.  I am called to be a minister of the Gospel.  To me, that means two things: I must know God.  I must know people.  In our day, people's lives are wrapped up in technology- what am I to do?  Here are some of the specific questions I am asking myself:

1. How do I stay familiar with the latest without investing too much time into it?
2. How do I know what social media outlets to use? 
- For example, MySpace seemed to be really big when it came out.  Now, I rarely hear about it.  I don't want to invest time learning something that is just going to go out of style.
3. How can I use these outlets effectively in the ministry? 
- I don't want technology to take from sound Bible teaching/preaching and person to person ministry, but I also don't want to forsake a potential good tool that would help each of those things.

I haven't come to any tangible conclusions.  That's where you come in.  I'd love to hear your thoughts. 

Have you come to some conclusions about these technologies?  What do you do to keep up with the times, without allowing the times to envelope your entire existence?