Tuesday, December 22, 2009

On the way to church

Enjoying the car ride one wintry Sunday morning on the way to a worship service in Alabama.

... and while we're at it... another ride closer to home:

Merry Christmas 2009

Our dear friends and family, partners for the Gospel.

We want to wish you a merry Christmas. Thanks for all of your support. As we write this, our New Hope church plant in Taipei seems to be going strong and heading in a good direction with three elders and two men training to become pastors. My coworker, Rev. Daniel Cohee has been raising support this fall. He hopes to go out to Taiwan as soon has he raises full support and to serve at New Hope while our family is away in the United States on home assignment.

We were busy in Taiwan almost non-stop this fall, and felt like we were barely hanging on after a long sprint when our Thanksgiving departure date for America arrived. Saorsa broke out with roseola and a high fever three days before we left. The fever broke just in time, but she was very uncomfortable the entire airplane flight. When we arrived we had a tough adjustment with jet lag, and then, one after another, all of our girls and Judy got a five-day flu, so we are even now just hardly coming out of that phase of existence. We have not yet gained enough energy to celebrate our first Christmas in the U.S. after four years.

However we are recovering. We've begun enjoying singing Christmas hymns. We really love the Christmas carols we sing this time of year. Some of our favorites are "Of the Father's Love Begotten" and "How Lovely Shines the Morning Star." To think about the Son of God adding to Himself human nature to be our representative, live a perfect life in our place and also die in our behalf still astounds me. I am reminded of 1 Peter 1:12 sharing that even the ancient and brilliant angels serving before God's throne long to look into these things. Everything God plans and carries out is very good indeed! Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

We have so much to enjoy in this world God created. Today I tried a little experimenting in a divergence from my tried and tested chocolate chip cookie recipe. And according to the family, it succeeded. I made a new recipe today with red and green in the cookies to celebrate Christmas. Yes, cranberries and spinach. Please try it out and enjoy.

Merry Christmas, from the Lintons
Joel, Judy, Faith (9), Charis (7), Ashlyn (6), Saorsa(1)

-- Joel's Cranberry - Spinach Christmas Cookie recipe

preheat oven to 375ºF (190ºC)

1 cup (2 sticks ) butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey

mix in
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon - vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon - almond extract
2 tablespoons (100 percent peanuts) peanut-butter

gradually mix in dry ingredients

1/4 cup oatmeal (add more as desired)
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 cup coarsely chopped almonds (add more as desired)
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1 cup coarsely chopped cranberries
1 cup finely chopped spinach

for a slide edge, add 1/4 cup finely chopped dark chocolate

use heaping teaspoons to place cookie dough on greased cookie sheet
cook for 9 minutes or until golden brown


Sèng-tàn-cheh Khoài-lo'k ! Merry Christmas.

Kám-siā, ta'k-ê.

("Bo'k-su, ài ta'k-kang liān-si'p kóng Tâi-gí.")

Sèng-tàn-cheh Khoài-lo'k !
Merry Christmas.

(Some of the church members at New Hope make a Christmas video message to remind me to practice my Taiwanese language and to come back soon.)

Monday, November 16, 2009

New believers and new church members

In recent weeks I've had the privilege of participating in several baptisms.

Traditional Taiwanese culture places great significance on rituals. [You can listen to a sermon I preached in January of 2008 about how Christian rites are different from those of traditional Taiwanese religion.]

As new Taiwanese Christians come to faith, we spend time explaining to them about Christian baptism, how the water is not magical, but instead simply acts as a sign that points to the fact that we are all called to look in faith on Jesus Christ who died to cleanse us of our sins. In celebration, we often sing the song "Nothing but the Blood of Jesus" when we have baptisms at New Hope.

One young mother, a reader of Judy's infant care book, began coming to New Hope and she professed her faith and was baptized on October 25, 2009. She is the first Hakka believer whom Joel has had a chance to baptize.

You can hear her testimony here, or click below:

Carol Huang was baptized by sprinkling with water.

Sprinkling with water points to the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and the sprinkling of His blood to purify us from all sin. The mode of sprinkling is probably the most attested to in Scripture, e.g. in Hebrews 9:10 referring to the temple ritual washings (in the Greek - "various baptisms"...) in which things were sprinkled with blood or water mixed with the ashes of a sacrificed heifer.
"The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!" Hebrews 9:13-14

Through the prophet Ezekiel, God uses the imagery of these temple purifications to teach us about how our hearts can be clean of sin by God's work of grace, sending the Holy Spirit to give us a new heart to come to repentance and put our faith in Jesus Christ.
"I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws." Ezekiel 36:25-27 (NIV)

We are so delighted that God gives us a part in bringing new believers into the church to begin a life of serving the living God.

One young doctor, Thomas Chu has been coming to New Hope for about a year now. You can hear his testimony by clicking on this link, or simply playing the following:

I baptized Thomas Chu on November 1, 2009. He requested the pouring mode of baptism. Using the method of pouring reminds us of justification by grace through faith, and particularly points to the "washing of rebirth and renewal of the Holy Spirit," the fact that our faith was brought about by Holy Spirit's work as God poured out His Spirit on us to apply the redemption accomplished by Jesus Christ. Joel 2:28, Titus 3:4-7

On that Sunday, during the middle of the worship service, most of the New Hope congregation joined us out in the courtyard to witness Thomas' baptism before heading back in to listen to the sermon.

During Thomas' baptism, it started raining so the rest of us got wet as well.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Children are a blessing from the Lord.

Judy meets many moms because of her infant-care blog and some of them have come to New Hope church in Taipei. On the last Sunday of October, Joel got to baptize one of the mom's who had begun coming to New Hope and became a Christian and joined the church. Please pray for that many more parents will become Christians.

We are so happy to also get a chance to show how much children are a blessing and valuable in a nation that has the lowest birthrate in the world (because children are often thought of mainly as trouble).

After reading Judy's book on infant care, some of the parents have been encouraged to go on to have their second or third child.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Beautiful Taiwan - Formosa - Hawaiiki

Please keep praying for Taiwan and its people. Even in the midsts of the concrete and crowds, you can still see God's handiwork in His Creation. It is a great reminder that God is still sovereign.

If you actually go to the link on Youtube, it will show a wide-letter-box size video. The one embedded above cuts off the sides...

Friday, September 4, 2009

Not fearing Ghost Month 平安七月 Pêng-an Chhit-goe̍h

Right now, we are in the middle of ghost month in Taiwan. Traditionally, the Taiwanese offer many sacrifices to appease wandering spirits whom they euphemistically call "good brothers" and whom they think have gotten a one-month parole from Hell to roam the earth and bring bad luck to any who do not offer them worship. Many Taiwanese are also afraid to travel, take vacations, or to conduct any major affairs such as weddings during this time.

During this seventh month of the lunar year in which Taiwanese fearfully participate in rites to placate the dead, it is good for Christians to consider the truth about what happens to them after they die. As you make yourself familiar with the verses quoted below, you could get yourself ready for opportunities for discussions with your non-Christian Taiwanese friends.

The following is a link to a sermon by Jonathan Edwards entitled, "True saints, when absent from the body, are present with the Lord."

Please also read the following meditation written for the church here in Taiwan: (I will post a Mandarin translation as soon as it is translated.)

Thank you for your prayers for the Taiwanese people to come to believe in the true God.

In Christ,

- the Lintons


In Revelation 1:17-18, Jesus Christ says, "Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! and I hold the keys of death and Hades."

Christians do not fear Ghost Month. "Good brothers" do not exist. We know that when a people die, their bodies decay and their spirits depart from this world. They cannot have contact with this world; the dead have no power or influence in this world. There is also no reincarnation. There are two destinations that people go when they die. Spirits of unbelievers are bound in hell to await the Judgment Day. Spirits of believers are immediately present with the Lord in Heaven and await their resurrection. At the end of the world the Lord Jesus Christ will return a raise both the wicked and the righteous from the dead and Christ will judge them with justice.

Instead of fearing ghosts, people should think about their own sins and put their faith in Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 9:27-28 "Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him."

2 Samuel 12:23 "But now that he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me."

2 Corinthians 5:6-8 "Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. We live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord."

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 "Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words."

If you wish to read more about this topic please look at the following passages: Genesis 3:19, Luke 16:19-31, 1 Corinthians 15:12-23, Philippians 1:21-23, 2 Peter 2:4-10, 2 Peter 3:1-13, Revelation 7:9-17, Revelation 20:11-15

啟示錄第一章17-18節,耶穌基督說:「不要懼怕!我是首先的,我是末後的, 又是那存活的;我曾死過,現在又活了,直活到永永遠遠;並且拿著死亡和陰間的鑰匙。」






Please pray that Taiwanese will come to know the fear of the true God that leads to repentance and faith in Jesus.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Once in a life-time events in Taiwan

Taiwan has had two unique events recently.

The World Games for the first time are being hosted in Kaohsiung City in southern Taiwan. You might have noticed that the U.S. recently won the gold in ultimate frisbee. The host city was very well organized and the opening ceremony was said to be beautiful but unpretentious, giving the city of Kaohsiung and the nation of Taiwan international dignity.

Please pray that these World Games in Kaohsiung will put Taiwan on more Christian's minds so that they will pray for Taiwan. Also, please pray for Kaohsiung. We would like to expand our church planting work to the south of Taiwan, including the city of Kaohsiung and we would like to recruit both foreign missionaries and Taiwanese church planters for that task. Please pray that God will send out the laborers for His harvest field.

Secondly, yesterday morning, we got to see an eclipse of the sun. As I left the building headed for my Taiwanese-language class, I noticed the light seemed a bit dimmed for mid-morning. I thought, hmm, I wonder if a typhoon is coming. There were quite a few clouds, but there was also quite a bit a blue sky visible. I thought that it was really strange. But then I noted a lot of people looking up -- and so I looked up, too. And through the thin clouds, you could see a solar eclipse. There was only a thin sliver of brightness like a fingernail. Most of the sun's light was blocked by the moon! I heard that there was a full solar eclipse in other parts of Asia, but the partial eclipse here was still spectacular. There will not be anything like this in Taiwan for another 300 years. Our children got to see it, too. Perhaps they do not realize how rare and precious the opportunity was.

Solar eclipse seen through the clouds looking past the top of the tallest building in the world -- Taipei 101

As I was walking to my class, I thought -- God's glory will eclipse the sun one day -- more like the lights of Taiwan's many cities block out the stars at night. It simply is too bright to see the stars clearly. Usually you might be able to see a few, and of course, Venus is visible, but that is about it.

In the new heavens and new earth we will not need the sun but will walk by the light of our God who makes His dwelling with His people.

What a glorious thought! How precious it is to be one of God's adopted children.

Will you join me in praying that more and more Taiwanese will one day look to God as their Light and trust in the Light of the World who gives them life -- Jesus Christ, our Lord?

Revelation 21:3-4 "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people and God himself will be with them as their God."

Revelation 21:22-23 "And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb."


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

God's Word Written Down For Us

The Codex Sinaiticus can now be seen online at codexsinaiticus.org

This is a full, compiled hand-written Bible in Greek from about 300 years after the New Testament church. There are many hundreds of fragments of different passages or books of the New Testament from earlier times, and we have the complete Old Testament from before Christ came, but this is one of the earliest copies still existing that was a fully bound text of both the Old and New Testament like our Bibles today. You have to remember that back before the age of printing presses, whatever was going to be copied had to be copied by hand. From the existing manuscripts, it seems that often people would copy excerpts from books of the Bible to send to friends, family or other churches just like you will quote a passage in an email. In the back of every Greek Bible that any of your pastors have, there is a list of every single ancient manuscript of passages of the Bible that has ever been found. The list also tells exactly where in the world it is kept so that you, if you wanted to, could actually go see the original copies.

In the Old Testament and the New Testament there are references to making sure Scripture was copied and shared with other people and other churches (e.g. Colossians 4:16). Did you know that God commanded the kings of Israel to personally make their own a hand copies of the book of the law for them to keep when each one first takes his throne (Deuteronomy 17:18)? Imagine how good it would be if our presidents had to take out the first days and weeks of their terms in office to spend their time studying and hand copying passages from God's Word.

Try copying a few pages of your own Bible and you will see how long and difficult a task it is. Recently Taiwanese presbyterian churches all over Taiwan did that very thing. Church members signed up to hand copy their assigned passages -- to make up complete hand written manuscript Bibles in Taiwanese.

I'm not sure how many copies they made, but if you visit a Taiwanese Presbyterian church building, make sure you go up to the front and look for the large hand-copied volume of the Bible.

Photo taken at Lotong Presbyterian Church, Ilan County, August 13, 2006

Like it is all over the world in this day and age, this period in Taiwan's church history is a time where people in the churches are straying away from God's Word and taking their direction from pagan society's values or personal experiences. Please pray for the churches in Taiwan that they will not turn their eyes away from God's Word but will seek to submit to it and apply it to every area of their lives and teaching. Please pray especially for the elders and pastors not to seek new things but instead seek to contend for the faith once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3).

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Taiwanese fellow-laborers in God's Harvest Field

Last week we had a guest come to our church: a young Taiwanese man named David Ông. He just graduated from seminary. He's from Tainan in the south. And he plans to become a pastor here. We are so happy to meet young men like him.

David wrote about his visit to our church and home in his blog. He posted a lot of pictures.

For the past few weeks another young man has been coming to our church. His name is Eric Yu. He is a Taiwanese from I-Lan City. A 30-year-old, he just graduated from Christ's College because he had worked and then gone to do military service after high school. Eric is fluent in Taiwanese and Mandarin and has a good command of English. I was introduced to him by Dr. Quentin Nantz, the current acting president of Christ's College and an MTW missionary. After I met him at Christ's College, he began to attend a Thursday men's discipleship group led by one of New Hope Church's new elders. He also began attending our churches service. Please pray for him as he decides whether or not to go into the ministry. He'll have to find a way to support himself while he goes through seminary.

I also want to mention my Taiwanese pastoral intern, Caleb Tian, who is now a licentiate in the Reformed Presbyterian Church. He and his wife just had a baby son. Already having a Bachelor of Divinity, he has one more year to finish an M.Div. at the Reformed Theological Seminary in Taipei before taking his ordination exams. Please pray for Caleb this year as he tries to provide for his family while finishing up seminary. His wife just this week decided to quit her job in order to take care of her newborn, and so their income will be drastically reduced. It was a hard decision for them that went against the cultural grain of contemporary Taiwan, but it was a good principled decision.

Thanks for your prayers. In Christ,


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Sharing the Gospel in Taiwanese with the Older Generation

Please pray for Mr. Tiuⁿ. He is 89 years old and lives in Tamsui, north of Taipei on the coast. We met him and his son's family at the Taiwan National History Museum last Saturday. His grandson was pushing him in a wheel chair and I got into a conversation with them in Taiwanese about Taiwan's history. After giving him my church business card, I invited him to come visit. This morning he came to my home and we drank tea and talked in Taiwanese. He is not a Christian but seems open. Since he grew up in the Japanese colonial era of Taiwan, he speaks and reads Japanese well. I have one Gospel message sermon that has been translated into Japanese, so I gave it to him. He seems interested in going to a Japanese-Taiwanese language fellowship in Taipei where I spoke last year. Most of the members are over 80 years old.

His eyes are not very good, so I plan to send him some audio sermon CD's and also audio selections from the Taiwanese Bible. Please pray that he will listen and hear the Gospel and come to faith even in his old age. He turns 90 in September of this year.

At the Taiwan National History Museum in Taipei. (April 4, 2009)

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Gospel Joy

Psalm 66 - "How to Enjoy Your Life as a Christian"

(A typical sermon at New Hope Christian Fellowship, Taipei, TAIWAN
English-Mandarin bi-lingual)

Green Shoots of Spring

Planning a Taiwanese pastors' church planting fellowship and potential target areas for church planting in city-center Taipei
(L-R Rev. Dennis Brown (Friendship Presbyterian - Taipei); Rev. Joel H. Linton (New Hope Church, Team-leader Taiwanese Church Planting, MTW); Rev. Jay Kyle (Redeemer Presbyterian - New York City); Rev. Dr. Peter Yao (Grace Church - Chungli, Adjunct Professor - Reformed Theological Seminary in Taipei) March 19, 2009 - Chungli City, TAIWAN

Note: You can view the Taiwan church distribution map online.

New Hope Church -- and guests for the baptisms
That day we actually ran out of chairs and had to borrow
some from the building management's office cubicles.
(March 8, 2009, Taipei, TAIWAN)

(March 8, 2009 at New Hope Church -- the Taipei church plant recently particularlized and member of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in Taiwan.)

Monday, March 9, 2009


In the mountains of Gī-lân (I-Lan) on February 28th remembering Judy's sisters and grandmother who were murdered in a February 28, 1980 political assassination in Taiwan.

I think at the time the picture was taken we are singing "Verdant Taiwan" the unofficial Taiwan National Anthem.

Learning the Language

Joel continues his Taiwanese language study attending two-hour classes three days a week.

Do you know what the sign above says?