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

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).