Day 27: Treasure

Imagine being intimately connected to the most powerful people in your country–people who have the power to give you access to vast wealth, insider deals, government contracts, and protection in dangerous days. Imagine having untold millions at your disposal to put to use to make yourself even more wealthy. Then imagine 1,200 faces: hollow eyes, skin pale and bodies emaciated, pleading with those hollow eyes for mercy and rescue. You can either hoard the wealth and live for yourself or rescue 1,200 people from certain death. This was Oskar Schindler’s dilemma. If you are acquainted with the now famous story of Oskar Schindler (1982 novel Schindler’s Ark1993 movie, Schindler’s List), then you know that Schindler chose the lives of 1,200 Jews over his own life.

Schindler was known as a serial adulterer, an opportunist, a dedicated Nazi who was even a Nazi spy who was jailed in 1938 on charges of spying for the Nazi government; not exactly a paragon of moral uprightness. Yet he chose  to risk his own life to rescue the Jews who worked in his factories. Schindler’s use of treasure ceased to be conspicuous consumption and became conspicuous compassion.

American Christians face a similar dilemma, though I doubt we recognize it as such. We have vast resources and opportunities. We have been given much material wealth to steward and yet we all too often confuse stewardship with ownership. The propaganda organ of the world system, a.k.a. mass media, pushes us to spend and spend and spend on ourselves. Pressured, we flip out our little plastic gods and spend even more. After all, we deserve the best. We quickly become the object of statistics like those reported by

The average US household credit card debt stands at $15,279, the result of a small number of deeply indebted households forcing up the numbers. Based on an analysis of Federal Reserve statistics and other government data, the average household owes  $7,128 on their cards; looking only at indebted households, the average outstanding balance rises to $15,279.

These examples should give the Christian pause for reflection. The Christian should consider:

  • The cumulative effect of continual exposure to the maniacal message given by the world system through mass media
  • The negative impact of being financially enslaved to indebtedness
  • The negative impact that both continual media exposure and enslavement to indebtedness have on our affection for God, his Kingdom, and his priorities for our treasure.

Consider a few passages that relate to these reflections:

  • Be clear-minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. (1 Peter 4:7, NIV1984)
  • For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:21; Luke 12:34)
  • You are not your own, you were bought at a price. . . (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

How does Schindler’s story or the average American credit card debt relate to missions or Bible translation? Every dollar spent or charged represents an opportunity to choose to be aligned with God’s priorities for our stewardship of resources or to be aligned with the world system’s priorities for our stewardship. James is clear, “Friendship with the world is enmity toward God.” Every time we make this world’s priorities our own by choosing alignment with it, we choose to befriend the world system. Every time we choose to allow God’s priorities to be my priorities for stewardship, we choose to befriend God.

Schindler stared into the eyes of 1,200 Jews and risked everything to rescue them from the gas chambers.

Treasure . . .

Treasure . . .

There are nights when I wake, having dreamed in another language, seeing 4,000 men, women, and children in peril. Without the word of God in their heart language, they face an uncertain eternity. Angela and I are haunted by this vision of a people without access to real treasure, God’s Word, marching into eternity unprepared. This vision is double-edged, though. We are drawn along by the Spirit of God to obedience and pushed along by the possibility of eternal damnation of friends, neighbors, loved ones.

However, we cannot do it alone. Unlike Schindler, we have not amassed vast wealth to spend to rescue them. God has provided the Church, His Body, to resource this rescue, this alignment with the Great Commission in translating the New Testament into the language of their hearts.

Join the Team!
Is God drawing you? To pray? Join the prayer team and stand in the gap for these who need the Bible in their heart language. To provide? Join Pioneer Bible Translators in sending us to the Somau Garia people to complete the translation of the New Testament that we began in 1997.

Grace and Peace, Friends.


What’s in a Dream?

Dreams are intensely personal. They are expressions of our true self. What do we passionately pursue? What gives us that far away, wistful look in our eyes? What causes us to shed tears or to argue or to take risks that to most seem oddly insane? Dreams are intensely personal.

Some sequester dreams in the shadowy places of their lives. Quiet. Unnoticed. Anonymous. Free of mockery and derision. The dreams of these people occupy their quiet moments and resemble hobbies more than life-altering pursuits. These dreams are the books that never quite get written, the dragster that never quite gets built, the guitar that collects dust in the corner.

Others realize that their dreams are bigger than they are. These realize that these dreams are risky ventures, full of blind corners, pitfalls, and dragons. Their quiet moments are nervous affairs spent vacillating between fear and the potential for huge dividends. These people talk a lot about their dreams with their friends and confidantes, but ultimately it remains an exciting possibility, always just over the horizon, the dream that I’m going to get to just as soon as . . .

Then there are those who are not merely dreamers, but visionaries. The dream for them begins in the twilight pre-dawn hours and at mid-day and in the watches of the night. At first these folks closely guard the dream as they birth it, nurture it, allow it to develop. These folks are taken by the transcendent value of the dream and see that the dream reaches far beyond themselves, beyond their personal benefit, beyond even their lifetime. They too recognize blind corners, pitfalls, and dragons. They feel the butterflies. They too talk endlessly about the dream with friends and confidantes. At this point, the dream transforms into something God-sized, powerful, and compelling . . .

The dream becomes a vision. The dream moves beyond friends, beyond personal acquaintances, beyond close community. The dream ceases to be the sole property of the dreamer, the nurturer, the talker, the motivator. It takes on a life of its own and becomes the property of the community, the network, the . . . generation?

Angela and I once had a dream. We dreamed of living cross-culturally, taking the Word to the far reaches, to the remote, the lost, the forgotten of the world. That dream grew beyond the two of us and birthed something far greater than we would ever have imagine. It became a vision that took us across the world and played itself out over a decade of love and hardship and challenge and hard work. We had to shelf that vision for a while and it was relegated to the role of dream for six years.

illuminated bible

Dream has once again become vision–a vision that I think has the potential to capture your imagination and change the course of your life, not just ours. This vision bears an impact that will span generations and impact the future of an entire culture. This vision bears an impact that will change how you think when you eat your breakfast, read your Bible, eat a chocolate bar, drink your coffee. The vision–I don’t think that I’m speaking too boldly–has the potential to impact how you relate to God himself.

Beginning Friday, November 22, we begin a 40 day period of fleshing out the vision, bringing it to life and inviting you to be changed by it, to set in motion an impact that will change a culture for generation upon generation.

Tomorrow I want to share a dream that is worth living and dying for . . . join me here for an exciting first step into the vision.