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!



Friday, February 10, 2017

Photos of the Week

It's Friday afternoon, and I thought I'd post a few photos from this past week. My work at the hangar has been a mix of flying (brushing up on maneuvers, navigation, etc), ground school (studying toward my instrument rating), and helping to organize the shop toolbox. The latter is not a glamorous job, but is one of those necessary mundane tasks that will reap benefits in the future. MAG purchased a rolling tool cabinet with lots of good tools, but they need to be sorted and organized so they can be used effectively by MAG mechanics and those who come to volunteer their time to help in the hangar.

Now, as promised, here are some photos!

It's been a beautiful week to fly! This photo was taken at Blue Ridge airport in Virginia, where I landed as part of a cross-country flight.

On the same trip I landed in South Boston, Virginia where I got out to stretch my legs and chat with a gentleman at the FBO.

My primary trainer (N381MG) sitting on the ramp in Burlington. I'll be spending many more hours in this airplane!
This airplane at Blue Ridge reminded me of being a kid! My dad had an airplane like it in his office. It's a music box that's wound by turning the propeller. This could have been a nice photo if I would have thought to turn the coaster to face me!
Organizing tools is not the most exciting thing, but when I'm finished it will enable maintenance to take place in MAG's hangar more effectively.

In the center of the photo is Burlington Christian Academy, where the kids attend school. I flew over during Ella's break, at her request, on my way to the practice area.

Well, that's a sample of my week! I'm excited to be making progress toward my advanced flight ratings, and toward overseas mission service, as well as supporting MAG's mission through the maintenance work I perform. There is a medical brigade currently taking place in Honduras, and I hope to share more information about it in the next few weeks. Even though I'm not personally on the field yet, I'm glad that I can help support MAG's field programs through my service at MAG.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Two Significant Signatures

This week, I celebrated two significant events, each one involving a pen put to paper. Earlier this week I exercised the privileges of my airframe and powerplant mechanic certificate and signed my name in an aircraft maintenance logbook for the first time. What's more, after putting the airplane back together I was the first person to fly it with the new modification. There's a sense of satisfaction in being able to maintain an airplane and then go out and fly it.

My first maintenance job as an A&P mechanic.
Signing off on my first logbook entry.

The second significant signature was the one authorizing me to begin making solo flights in Missionary Air Group's Cessna 172. I already have my private pilot certificate and can legally fly alone, but before piloting MAG's airplanes solo I had to go through a checkout process. Since I haven't flown much over the last 18 months, I also needed a few flight hours to brush up on some of my skills and get accustomed to a slightly different airplane. Today, I took N381MG out for my first solo flight in that airplane.

N381MG in front of the Missionary Air Group hangar.
Today I made my first solo flight in this airplane.
It's a privilege to be working with MMS Aviation at Missionary Air Group. I've got a lot of hard work ahead of me as I prepare for our international field assignment, but I'm thankful to be here and looking forward to the journey! Speaking of field assignments, we appreciate your prayers as we consider which organization and location to pursue. We have begun conversations with a few different missions, and are asking God for wisdom to discern the best place for our family to serve.

Thank you, and we look forward to sharing more updates in the near future!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Friday, January 6, 2017

Moving Forward!

We've been in Burlington, North Carolina for a month already! We are mostly unpacked and settled in the house we are renting, and the kids have begun attending Burlington Christian Academy. We've started making some connections in our neighborhood, and have already found a church that we are really enjoying. Our cars even have North Carolina plates, and we are licensed North Carolina drivers. I think we can say that Burlington is starting to feel like home!

Next Monday, January 9, I will begin going daily to the hangar at Missionary Air Group. The first few days will be spent in orientation, then we will move into ground school and flight training. My weeks will consist of both maintenance and flight days. The flight days will focus on training and experience-building to prepare me for overseas service as a missionary pilot/mechanic. The maintenance days will help me keep my skills sharp, and give me the opportunity to contribute to MAG's mission by keeping their airplanes flying safely. Eventually, I will travel to Guatemala and Honduras to experience MAG's field programs first-hand.

If you've been following our journey, you know that we are moving toward serving overseas in a missionary aviation field program. My experience at MMS Aviation the past three years has allowed me to participate in "frontline" missions by maintaining aircraft for more than a dozen organizations, but we are looking forward to the day when we will personally be serving in an overseas field program. Today, we had conversations with two different organizations—one in South America and one in Africa—about the possibility of joining their ministries when we complete our 18–24 months at Missionary Air Group. It's exciting to start exploring these opportunities, after several years of waiting and praying for God's direction. We were very encouraged by the conversations we had today, and are praying about the possibility of a trip to South America to see one of the ministries first-hand.

Would you pray with us that God would clearly guide us to a mission where we can use the gifts and passions He's given us, and where our family can thrive? We are also praying that God will use the next couple years to prepare us well to serve in the ministry to which He calls us, and that our family will continue to grow closer together and to the Lord.

To all who have encouraged, supported and prayed for us over the years: Thank You! We couldn't walk this path without you, and we thank God often for the many ways in which He has blessed us through the people He's placed in our lives. We can't wait to share more with you as we continue to move forward!