Sunday, October 29, 2017

Exciting Family News

We recently finished our October newsletter, and though we had lots to share, one bit of news stood out above the rest: we're expecting another child to be added to our family next April! This was an unexpected twist in our journey, but we thank the Lord for this blessing to our family.

If we're honest, the news of Tara's pregnancy brought about mixed emotions. Tara realized she was pregnant just as we were approaching the one-year anniversary of losing our son Ezra to a miscarriage at 17 weeks. In some ways, the joy of new life was overshadowed by the sadness of having lost Ezra, as well as the reality of how our plans for the next several months have suddenly changed.

But as I sit here writing this post (having just posted our newsletter—and the news of the baby—on Facebook), many congratulations are coming our way. We also shared the news publicly in church this morning, to the excitement of our friends there. I'm thankful for the reminder that this new life is truly reason to celebrate. Sure, lots of things will change. But every life is a gift from God, and we thank the Lord for this new addition to our family!

That's the big news, but if you want to know what else has been going on, please check out our latest newsletter!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Betty Greene Missionary Aviation Scholarship

Earlier this month, I was blessed to be selected as a recipient of the Betty Greene Missionary Aviation Scholarship. The purpose of the scholarship is: to encourage aspiring missionary aviators (pilot/mechanics or maintenance specialists) in their journey; to provide a financial blessing; and to make others more aware of the various missionary aviation organizations, Betty Greene, and the role of missionary aviation. Betty Greene was an accomplished pilot, and Missionary Aviation Fellowship's first pilot. You can read more about Betty Greene here.

I was surprised, humbled, and encouraged to be a recipient of this scholarship. A number of representatives from several mission organizations came to the MAG headquarters in Burlington, North Carolina to present a check and some small gifts, and to encourage and pray for our family. This was a huge blessing and encouragement to us! The photo below shows the group that gathered for the presentation. The organizations represented included JAARS, Missionary Air Group, MMS Aviation, Mission Aviation Fellowship, and New Tribes.

Our journey into the world of missionary aviation has taken various twists and turns, and we can't know for sure where the path will take us. But one thing is certain: the Lord has been faithful through the entire process, and He continues to bring people into our path to bless and encourage us. He's also provided all the resources we need to keep moving forward. We're thankful first to Him, but also to everyone who has supported us as we serve through missionary aviation!

Monday, July 31, 2017

July 2017 Newsletter

We recently sent out our latest quarterly newsletter! If you are not on our mailing list, you can view the newsletter by clicking here.

Here are some highlights from the newsletter:

  • Repairs are underway on MAG's Cessna 172 training aircraft. Please pray for the timely and cost-effective completion of the repairs.
  • The kids finished school in May, then Ian and Ella played baseball and softball for a few weeks. We will be taking a family vacation and ministry trip before they return to school in August.
  • Aaron has been working toward his instrument rating. The book work is mostly complete (he passed his knowledge test last week), and now he is focusing on the flight experience necessary for the instrument rating.
  • We plan to do some Spanish language study over the next few months—at least enough to help us get around when we visit Spanish-speaking countries over the next year. Please pray that we will figure out the best way to fit this into our schedules, and that our study will be effective.

You may also sign up to receive future newsletters.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

One Step Closer to Being Instrument Rated!

Yesterday afternoon, after several months of study, I passed the FAA instrument rating knowledge test! Now that this is out of the way, I can focus mainly on accruing the flight experience required to take my check ride and oral test. For those unfamiliar with what an instrument rating is: it allows a pilot to fly solely by reference to the flight instruments when the weather is not suitable for flying under visual flight rules (VFR). With an instrument rating, a pilot can legally fly through clouds and in conditions where low visibility could cause a VFR-only pilot to become lost and disoriented, as well as conduct certain other operations where an instrument rating is required.

There are several important aspects to becoming a safe and proficient (not just legal) instrument pilot. An instrument-rated pilot must manage a higher workload than a VFR pilot: maintaining aircraft control and situational awareness while following complex procedures, tuning radios and avionics, communicating with air traffic control, navigating, and managing distractions. But perhaps the most basic skill is learning to interpret and trust the flight instruments. Because an airplane maneuvers in a three-dimensional environment (unlike a car, which is stuck in two dimensions), the forces induced can play all kinds of tricks on our bodies when we can't see the ground or other visual references. For example, a steady coordinated turn is indistinguishable from level flight, as far as our vestibular system is concerned. The only way to know the true attitude of the airplane is to ignore what your body is telling you and completely trust the flight instruments. This takes practice and does not come naturally!

Of course there are some spiritual parallels here. As we navigate life, there are countless voices influencing us, from within and from without. If we start listening to every voice that comes our way, we can easily become disoriented—much like the pilot who finds himself in a "graveyard spiral" through the clouds, sensing that something is wrong, but unable to escape because he can't interpret the instruments in front of him. In that situation, the only hope is to draw on his training, ignore everything he is feeling, and focus on the six instruments in front of him. He must then take decisive action, trusting completely that these instruments are telling the truth despite every sensation telling him otherwise.

We live in a culture of subjective, feelings-driven truth. The problem is that feelings are unpredictable and can change at any time. And what happens when my subjective opinions and beliefs conflict with those of another person? Many words have been penned on these topics, and I don't intend to elaborate here. But as I train for my instrument rating, I can't help but think about the parallels to life, particularly as a disciple of Christ. I need to ask myself: am I training myself to know the voice of Jesus by reading and meditating on His words revealed through Scripture? Do I consistently meet with Him in prayer? My only hope if I find myself becoming disoriented and distracted is to focus on the Author of Truth. This is only possible if I have trained myself to hear and listen to His voice, lay aside the countless distractions, and trust completely in Him.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

What Legacy Will I Leave?

Several weeks ago, this Facebook ad caught my attention. What really impacted me was the last line of the video: "I can't think of anything that'll make me happier". If you can spare a minute, take a look at the video below.

As a father, I cherish the special moments and the shared interests that I have with my children, and on some level I can appreciate the sentiment expressed by this advertisement. I hope that my children will continue to take on some of the hobbies and interests that I enjoy, so that we can share them together. Some of my favorite memories involve spending time outdoors and playing music with my children. But to say that nothing could make me happier? If, when all is said and done, the best thing I've done for my children is to impart a love of music or camping or airplanes, then I will have done them a great disservice. Those things will pass away, but there are others that will last for eternity.

But even as I am tempted to watch this video with contempt, having spiritual things in mind, I have to face the reality of my own life. Am I doing all that I can to instill in my family a love for God and a selfless, sacrificial love for others? Am I even living my own life in a way that is consistent with my stated priorities? Am I doing any better than the guy who lives his life for trains, sports, music, or anything else that will pass away? 

I'm thankful that God has given us many things to enjoy here on this planet. And I don't believe that we should live under the weight of guilt for all the things that we could or should have done; God has extended grace to us and we ought to live in that. On the other hand, He has prepared good works for us to do as an outflow of that grace-filled life. We are stewards of this life and everything with which He has entrusted us, including our families. Yet I am so easily distracted by the things of the world!

Lord, help me—and those readers who desire to follow you—to live our lives not for what will perish, but for those things that are eternal. Let us leave a legacy to our children that is so much greater than trains or airplanes or sports: a legacy that will bear fruit for generations to come, and even into eternity.

This eternal legacy is not something I can create and accomplish on my own; rather it's wrapped up in what Christ has done. There are many passages from Scripture that come to mind when I think about living with eternity it mind. Interestingly many of them are also in the context of the hope we have through times of suffering, but that's a post for another day! I will end this post by simply sharing two passages. I encourage you to consider the legacy that you will leave with these things in mind!

2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

I Peter 1:3-4
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Sunday, March 26, 2017

God Will Supply Every Need

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.
    (Philippians 4:19-20 ESV)

This was written two thousand years ago by the apostle Paul, in the context of thanking the Philippian church for meeting his physical needs while he traveled as a minister of the Gospel. Paul was reassuring the Philippians that God would, in turn, supply every need of theirs. This is a beautiful example of the way in which God uses believers to meet the needs of one another, and points us to the ultimate Giver of all good things. When the Body of Christ functions in this way, it is a blessing to the giver and the receiver, and a testimony to the Lord that we serve.

If you have been following us and our ministry, you know that our income comes from the generous gifts of many individuals and churches, enabling us to serve full-time in missionary aviation. As I opened our statement from MMS Aviation this month, I was reminded of the faithfulness of God, and overwhelmed with gratitude for everyone who has partners with us in our ministry. The dollar amount was not staggering, but we received some unexpected gifts that were just what we needed at this time.

We knew our expenses would go up when we moved to North Carolina, and the increase was more than we expected. In response, I spent some time drafting an appeal letter that I planned to send to potential new ministry partners, to ask them to consider an ongoing financial commitment. I had the letters printed, and started prayerfully considering a list of names. But as I looked over that list, I couldn't come up with a single person to whom I felt comfortable sending an appeal. Then it occurred to me: did I even pray about whether I should send letters in the first place? I'm embarrassed to say that the answer is, "No."

This is not a post about support-raising methods, and we have certainly sent our share of appeal letters in the past. We will probably send them again some day. But it is so easy to begin trusting in methods and strategies, even in Christian ministry. I sometimes look at the numbers, and when they don't add up I start strategizing about how we will make ends meet. But time and time again, the Lord has proven Himself faithful. And while it's a good feeling to get response cards with the "monthly financial gift" box checked, it is even better to know that we are being provided for by a God who knows every need even before we ask.

As a concrete example, this month Tara participated in a mission trip to Mexico with a group from our church, which cost a few hundred dollars. We applied for the kids' passports so we would be ready to take them with us internationally: another $240. We incurred a number of other expenses as well, which we were able to cover from our savings, but eventually savings begin to run dry. But wouldn't you know it? I opened my statement Friday afternoon and noticed two sizeable, unexpected, donations. One of them was from a church we visited a while back, where I gave a presentation plagued with technical difficulties and distractions. I felt like I did a terrible job casting vision for our ministry, and I was sure I would never hear from that church again, despite having several personal connections there. But apparently I was wrong! Thank God for His provision, and that it does not depend on my eloquence!

I don't intend to say that we can never make our needs known, and I believe there is a time for that. But before I start presenting my need to others, I need to ask myself where I am placing my trust. Is it in dollars and cents, and in my own strategies and plans? Or is my trust truly in the Giver of life and breath and every good thing? There is always the temptation to grasp for things that are tangible and that I can keep under my control. But it's my prayer that He may continually help me (and you) to keep our eyes fixed on Him, and to grow in our faith and trust in Him!