Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Will You Give Jesus the Hard Things?

As Christmas time approaches, we sit down again with our children to share the Christmas story with one another. Our boys have often heard this story, so sometimes I am challenged to help them see the story with fresh eyes and real application.

As we opened our advent calendar one day, and watched an accompanying clip of the movie, "The Nativity," related to the wise men bringing gifts, we began talking about why we give gifts at Christmas. One of our boys, ever supplying the Sunday School answer, said, "Dad, we already know this! The wise men brought gifts, so we give gifts. And Jesus was the greatest gift of all."

I answered, "That's true, but the wise men weren't the only ones to bring gifts. Think of Mary. What did she give? Well, she gave God her body to carry Jesus for nine months and give birth to him, all in a culture where being pregnant out of wedlock could mean your death. That must have been a hard gift to bring to God. Or think of Joseph. What did he give? He willingly brought Mary into his home as his wife, protecting her, and brought her over 100 miles during the census right before Jesus was to be born. That had to be hard, too."

Then I asked them, "What hard gifts have we been challenged to bring to God over this past year?" As many of you know, this year has been a big year of transition for us, and that's meant giving up many things. The boys sat back and thought for a bit. Then things began to come out: giving up our dog; moving to a new place; losing contact with some friends. We took some time to write those things on slips of paper and put them in a gold-wrapped box under the tree that represents our gift to Jesus. All of these are things that we gave to God as we wanted to obey him. But just like Mary and Joseph's gifts, God takes our hard gifts and uses them in amazing ways for His Kingdom. That doesn't make them suddenly easy gifts to give, but that makes them worth giving. Because He's worth it all.

What gift have you given God this year? Has it been hard? Here's to seeing God as worth of all we have this Christmas, and recommitting to surrendering all to him.

O come, let us adore him
O come, let us adore him
O come, let us adore him
Christ the Lord!

How Would You Translate...

To help people understand some of the intricacies of translation, we're going to give some actual examples of issues that sometimes come up in translating Scripture. Take a look and think about how you might deal with these issues!

Suppose you were working with a people group to translate the parable of the wise and foolish builders in Matt. 7:24-27. In that story, Jesus describes how when we put his words into practice, we are like a wise man who builds his house upon the rock; the rains may come, but they will not wash away the house because it is on a strong foundation. But if we ignore Jesus' words, we're like a foolish man who builds his house upon the sand; our lives are easily swept away.

However, when this people group comes to translating this passage, they get confused. "We don't understand what Jesus means here," they say. You inquire further, and you find out that in their area, the river often rises during flood season, and many houses are in danger of being washed away. In fact, if you just build your house on a rock surface, it will typically get washed away when the floods come. So what do these people do to keep their houses secure? They build them on the sand instead! The sand allows them to bury poles down deep, and these poles form the foundational structure for the house. When the floods come up, the houses set on these poles don't get washed away. (I have seen houses in the Florida area like this.)

So how do you translate Matt. 7:24-27 for these people? What would you do? Comment below with your thoughts, and I'll tell about the solution that one translation team came up with in a future post.