Thursday, August 23, 2012

Stirred to Action

During his second missionary journey, the apostle Paul found it necessary to flee from Berea to Athens for his personal safety.  After arriving, he sent word for Silas and Timothy, his coworkers, to make the 200 mile journey to join him.  Paul's actions during this time of waiting are a challenge to me.

1. Paul's attention Acts 17:16b "...when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry."
- While waiting for his coworkers to join him, Paul could have just taken the opportunity to rest.  It may have even started out that way.  However, as Paul went about Athens, the city's overwhelming idolatry made an impression on his mind.  He was not so absorbed in his own world that he could not notice what was happening around him.
2. Paul's agitation Acts 17:16a "...his spirit was stirred in him..."
- In Lamentations, Jeremiah said, "Mine eye affecteth mine heart."  The same thing happened to Paul in Athens.  The things that passed before his eyes found lodging in his heart.  His spirit was stirred within him.  It was not stirred because of the economic, political, or physical problems he might have seen.  It was stirred because of the spiritual condition of the Athenians.
3. Paul's action Acts 17:17 "Therefore disputed he..."
- Based on what he had seen and the affect it had had on his heart, Paul acted.  The word dispute means "to speak to someone in order to convince."  Simply put, Paul began witnessing to people in Athens.  He challenged the idolatrous beliefs with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  He did this:
    1) In the synagogue- a particularly religious setting
    2) In the market- not necessarily a religious setting
This began a chain of events of which we see the results later in the chapter:
    1) Some mocked vs. 32
    2) Some desired to hear again vs. 32
    3) Some believed vs. 34

The end of the story is that some people trusted in Jesus Christ for salvation.  I firmly believe this would not have happened had Paul not acted, which, of course, was a result of him being agitated, which, of course, was a result of him being attentive. 

Every believer needs to consider these three areas in his life.  Am I alert to the spiritual condition of people around me?  If I do see spiritual needs, do I put them out of my mind (like the priest and Levite in the story of the Good Samaritan) or do I allow them to affect me (like the Good Samaritan)?  If I get to the point of being stirred, do I act upon it?  Without action, being stirred does no good for the one in spiritual need

We all have room for improvement in each of these areas.  Which one is the Lord specifically addressing in your heart?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

What Language Learning Has Done to Us

For almost a year now, Viola and I have been working on learning our second language.  As with anything in life, we have experienced difficult times and encouraging times.  One thing we did not really anticipate was the unusual effects our study would have on us.  Here are some things we have experienced:

1. Agreeing to everything
- We may be understanding all/most/some/none of what someone is saying, but we can't think of how to respond.  Instead, we just continue to nod and say, "Yes" to everything.

2. Concentrating poorly
- With English, we can be doing one action and still follow what someone is saying.  Unless we are specifically thinking about paying attention in Russian, we have no idea what someone is saying.  I personally can go from concentrating and following a sermon to being distracted and lost in about five seconds.  It takes so much more work to simply listen!

3. Forgetting English words
- Our teacher will be explaining to us a new Russian word.  We both understand exactly what it means, but we cannot think of how we say it in English.  This also happens when we are just talking with each other.

4. Crumbling competency in spelling
- Before language learning, we were decent English spellers.  My wife is an avid reader, and spelling wasn't too difficult for me.  Now, we misspell (yes, I had to check it) things all the time.  The worst part is when something looks wrong, but we cannot recall whether it is correct or not.

5. Losing familiarity with other languages
- I took two years of Spanish in high school and spent my internship in Peru (a Spanish-speaking country).  When I arrived in Moldova and tried to use Russian, only Spanish words came to mind.  Now, when I try to recall a Spanish word, only Russian words appear.

6. Recalling random memories
- Memories that Viola has not thought about in years have come back very vividly.  They often come to mind when studying or interacting in Russian.  We cannot say for sure that it is a result of the language study, but we also can't think of another plausible reason.

7. Relearning to type
- Since Russian uses a different alphabet, it also has a different keyboard layout.  We have had to learn to type all over again.  Of course, as we have improved in that, we have declined in our English typing.

8. Pronouncing English incorrectly
- Some Russian characters look like English ones but have a different sound.  We have caught ourselves trying to pronounce an English word with the pronunciation of the corresponding Russian letters.

If you have studied another langauge, what effects have you noticed it having on you?

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Hughes News #38

Dear Friends,

In a couple of days, we will celebrate the first anniversary of our arrival in Moldova! Although the year went differently than we had planned in some ways, our Father guided us through it all. We plan to remain in Chisinau as we continue our language study and prepare for church planting.
In order to seek the Lord’s will as to our future location of service, I have been taking scouting trips with another missionary. In the city of Soroca, we found that there is one small Baptist group among the cults and Eastern Orthodox in a city of over 30,000 people.
Last week, Viola went with me to Comrat, the primary city that has been on our hearts since our initial visit in 2008. We got acquainted with the city and found that there is a Baptist church there. Lord-willing, we will find out more about the church and the spiritual climate in the city when my friend and I revisit the city next week. I know he would appreciate your prayers as he also seeks out God’s place of future service for his family.
We are convinced that at least having a familiarity with Romanian will greatly increase our usefulness for service here in Moldova. I would like to start studying it this fall, as long as it will not hinder my progress in Russian. With many other things taken care of, I think I would have the time for it. However I am seeking God’s wisdom in this matter and would appreciate your prayers.
In His service,
Jacob and Viola Hughes

For Prayer:
1. Next week’s scouting trip to Comrat
2. Decisions concerning language study
3. Jacob’s mom’s visit at the end of the month

For Praise:
1. Two helpful scouting trips
2. The continued rise of exchange rates
3. Noticeable progress in Russian

"Tie your shoes and pray for the Hughes."

From a Blind Man's Perspective

I recently was struck by reading the account in Luke 18:35-43 of Jesus healing a blind man. 

What do we learn about this man?
1. He had a serious problem.  vs. 35
- His blindness caused his need to beg for money.
2. He heard that Jesus was nearby.  vs. 36-37
- From the noise of the crowd he discerned that something was different that day.
3. He cried out to Jesus for help.  vs. 38
- He had enough knowledge about Jesus to realize that He could help.  He had enough faith in Jesus to call for help.
4. He was discouraged from calling for help.  vs. 39a
- People from the crowd tried to hush him.
5. He cried out more earnestly for help.  vs. 39b
- The discouragement from others did not stop him.
6. He got the Lord's attention.  vs. 40-41a
- It is not that the Jesus was unaware of him before.  However, until he received a response from Jesus, the blind man did not know if He was aware or not.  Therefore, he kept crying out until Jesus called for him.
7. He made his specific request.  vs. 41b
- He did not ask for temporal relief by a gift of money, but a permanent relief by a gift of sight.
8. He was made to see.  vs. 42-43a
- Jesus said his faith had allowed this to happen.
9. He followed Jesus.  vs. 43b
- He glorified God and others praised God.

How does this passge apply to us?
1. Each one of us has his problems.
2. Our faith affects our actions.
3. Crying out to God about our problems demonstrates our faith in Him.
- Conversely, not crying out to God about our problems reveals our lack of faith.
4. People or circumstances may discourage us.
5. If God is initially silent, we must not think that He does not know or does not care.
6. We can continue to cry out to God until He answers us.
- He will be attentive to us.  He may not, however, always answer exactly as we wish.
7. We can openly make our requests to God.
8. God can solve root problems.
9. When God answers, He is the only to receive glory, not us.

What should we ask ourselves?
1. When facing a problem, to whom do I cry out?
2. If discouragement comes, do my cries continue and crescendo or do they diminish and eventually stop?
3. Do my actions truly reveal faith in God?

What do you see from a look at this blind man?