Matt W Cook

writer.former fundamentalist.christianly fellow

Month: August, 2006

Khooda ki pak aur muqadus kalam…

In trying to improve my Urdu I’ve been reading the Bible more lately. That is, I’ve been reading the Urdu Bible more lately. I find it amazing how fresh it seems to me. Just the different wording and different idioms and emphasis that is given to the text. Yesterday I read 2 Corinthians 4:7-12. Here’s a translation from the Urdu, as I see it.

But we have this treasure placed in clay pots so that it will be obvious that this unlimited mighty, controlling, wonder-working power is from God’s side, not from our side. Pressure comes to us from every side, but we don’t get crushed. We certainly have stress, but we are not hopeless. Persecution comes, but we are not left alone. We are wounded, but we do not perish. We, in our own bodies, carry Jesus’ death around so that Jesus’ life also will be obvious in our bodies. Because while we live, for Jesus’ sake, we stare at death’s face so that Jesus’ life also may be obvious in our perishable bodies.

mighty, controlling, wonder-working power in Urdu is a neat word, Qooderut. It’s very hard to translate and means a lot of things. Mighty, controlling, wonder-working power is about as close as I can get.

I don’t know if it carries the same meaning in English, but when I read it for the first time in Urdu I was gripped. What an amazing fact that we are so cared for. How wonderful that the unlimited Qooderut of God is working on our behalf. That even though I’m pressured and stressed out and persecuted, it is never to the uttermost. The word I translated as stress is also a big word. It could mean anxiety, confusion or even compassion sometimes.

I think it’s hard for me to explain how lovely this has all become to me. I feel refreshed by it, as if I read it for the first time and didn’t know about it before. What a wonderful truth that we carry Jesus’ death around so that his life will be obvious, and even though we stare death in the face, it’s for His sake and his life is made obvious by it.

Is that ‘Shoe-bert’ or more like ‘Schoo-bert’?

I’m listening to an instrumental rendition of Ave Maria. Piano only. I close my eyes and I can kinda see the music. I can feel the delicate notes dancing together. Each note, by itself very plain and boring, comes together with its mate to make some sort of beautiful work of art. I don’t know the words to this song and I only have a faint idea as to what it’s about, but it’s very beautiful.

I’ve often sat and wondered at beauty. I might have said before that it is beauty that helped convince me in the beginning that we are much more than animals. A dog doesn’t gaze into the sunset. A dolphin doesn’t build great cathedrals. A monkey can’t appreciate a Rembrandt. But we can. We look over the Grand Canyon and we stop to take a breath.

But I’m really not sure what beauty it. I can’t define it, though I’ve tried. It’s difficult, elusive. What is beautiful and what is ugly? Sometimes that depends on the beholder, but sometimes it’s more objective. I think beauty, like love, is such a high thing that it defies our attempts to define. Things like beauty and love are a part of God’s realm, and while we give words to these things we aren’t totally sure what those words actually mean. I’m sure I could make up a few definitions to love and beauty that would suffice for a dictionary, but I don’t think they would be able to do justice to the great meaning behind the words.

And I think of all the beautiful things in the world. The creative works of God in nature and the cosmos. The image of God working in the creativity of man in words, paintings, music, architecture and everything else. Sometimes I just sit and look or listen at whatever is in front of me and I’m in awe. I wonder… If it’s so beautiful here… If this cursed world has so many things to taste and touch and see, if fallen man can create such lovely expressions, what will glory be like? What will the river flowing from the Throne be like? What sounds would it make? What songs will we sing? I suppose the image of God will still work in us to be creative. Perhaps we’ll write new songs. Maybe we’ll paint and carve things to the glory of God that we could never imagine or appreciate here. And if all that we see around us is the canvas, what must the Painter be like? I would much rather meet Handel than to listen to Messiah. The creator is always more interesting than the creation because in the creator we can learn his motivation and try to understand what he says is beautiful. How wonderful it would be to know the mind of God.

Rain, rain on my…buffalo?

Those of you who get my Emails may be aware that things are a bit tricky over here these days. The biggest problem is the flooding that’s been going on. Hard to imagine that an area with an average annual rainfall of about -2cm is now swimming. It’s rough for the people here. Houses are collapsing, crops and animals are dying. Apparently the city we’re in right now have been hit the worst. Hundreds of families here in Sanghar are homeless now. Pray for Sindh. The rain finally stopped today (we think) and the waters are draining. Here’s a shot of the courtyard after much of the water was drained.

God has been making himself sweeter than before in these last few days. I am terrified that sin will take me out of fellowship again sometime. I’ve been thinking about the absolute transcent worth of knowing God. I read a little peom Jim Elliot wrote about it.

What is this, Lord Jesus, that Thou shouldst make an end
Of all that I possess, and give Thyself to me?
So that there is nothing now to call my own
Save Thee; Thyself alone my treasure.
Taking all, Thou givest full measure of Thyself
With all things else eternal-
Things unlike the mouldy pelf by earth possessed.
But as to Life and Godliness, all things are mine,
And in God’s garments dressed I am;
With Thee, an heir to riches in spheres divine.
Strange, I say, that suffering loss,
I have so gained everything in getting
Me a friend who bore a cross.

I got no comments for that. Just silent prayers that God would take everything away from me and only give me Himself. I love how Christianity doesn’t promise riches, health, luck or stuff like that. It promises God. A reward of billions of dollars or hundreds of years of youthful life is far too little for me, I won’t be satisfied with it. I refuse to be satisfied with it. Give me God. Or I die.

Here are some pictures, for you lovely patient people. I don’t know when new ones will be up, my computer has taken a turn for the dead. Here they are:

Here’s Ruth’s maternal Grandma. I don’t know her name, we all just call her Noni. Lovely lady. Big teeth.


Joe’s practicing to be a bike rider. Go Joe.


Hello. My name is Joe. I work, in, the button factory…


We be jammin’


Joseph wants to be Stevie Wonder when he grows up…


Or maybe he wants to be a Buffalo Rodeo Rider.


Or maybe a miner…


And a nice picture of Sindhu (Paul’s wife), mom and John.

More may come later. For now watch and pray.

Some thoughts on the sovereignty of God

I really enjoy that TV series that was on the air just a few years ago. Lost. It’s about a plane that crashes on a weird island and the survivors have to work together in order to survive. Kinda like castaway, except with more people, and crazy monsters and polar bears that eat people. Anyway, there’s this doctor on the show named Jack. Everyone looks up to this guy and they make him their reluctant leader. Near the end of the first season he has an argument with Kate over a decision he makes. She wants to carry some dynamite or something and he won’t let her. She argues with him and says that it’s not his choice to make. Then Jack said something that stuck in my head ever since I heard it. “Everyone wants me to be a leader until I make a decision that they don’t like.”

You may have heard by now that Ruth’s visa application was rejected. The Canadian government is afraid that Ruth might try to stay in Canada past her allotted six months. I suppose it’s a fair fear to have. We were quite disappointed when we found out, of course. The neat thing is that before the visa came we were praying that God’s will would be done regarding it. Deep down inside we were actually praying something more like “Gimmie gimmie gimmie.” It’s funny; eventually I got to a point where I was totally convinced that the visa would come. I remember one night when I prayed that the visa would come the next day. Sure enough, the next day I called the High Commission and they said the decision had been made, though they weren’t allowed to tell us what it was. I took this as a definite sign and was thoroughly convinced that God had ordained the visa to fall in our hands. Imagine my disappointment when an empty passport arrived at our house. For a second I felt a little misled. I felt like I had put my faith somewhere it didn’t quite belong. I was upset.

That’s how it always seems to go, eh? We all want a god of some kind. Just like we all need good leaders. Well, we say we want good leaders and gods, but what we really want is someone in a high authority who will agree with everything we agree with. God is great, until he makes a choice we don’t like. Of course, if God’s choices were always the same as mine that would mean that either I possessed omniscience and omni-wisdom, or that God had the intellect of a puny human. Neither of those scenarios fit with the God of the Bible, though. God is far above us. God’s wisdom is so great we could never understand it, even if he tried to explain it to us. It’s like Einstein trying to explain his Special and General theories of relativity to my boy, Joseph. It just can’t happen. I think it should be rather obvious to us that God (and good leaders) will make decisions that we don’t understand or like.

But we have wonderful promises, don’t we? God knew that many of his choices would rub against us, so he put some wonderful promises in his Message to us. “I will never leave you or forsake you.” “All things work together for good…” “I know the plans I have for you…” Lovely, lovely words.

So I sit here and I know that it is best for me to be here. Perhaps God wants me to clean up my Urdu before I get back, or plug another year into this school and try to shape the lives of these kids. Or maybe I’ll just get some better sanctification over here than I would in Canada. Or maybe the reasons are numerous and way over my head, so I shouldn’t try to figure everything out. Maybe I should delight myself in the Lord, do what I can to glorify him wherever I am, and all that good stuff I’m supposed to do.

So on we go! Another year, pray for us. Don’t pray for crappy stuff like money, comfort and whatnot. Pray for gold. That spiritual gold of faith, hope and love. Of total love to God and love to man. That’s the sort of stuff we need over here.

So I can say now that my heart is willing and I’m excited for another year here. All is and will be well. You’re in my prayers, pray for me.

In his grip and grace,
The Cook

Great heart of my own heart
Whatever befall,
Still be Thou my vision
Oh ruler of all.

Some thoughts on the sovereignty of God

I really enjoy that TV series that was on the air just a few years ago. Lost. It’s about a plane that crashes on a weird island and the survivors have to work together in order to survive. Kinda like castaway, except with more people, and crazy monsters and polar bears that eat people. Anyway, there’s this doctor on the show named Jack. Everyone looks up to this guy and they make him their reluctant leader. Near the end of the first season he has an argument with Kate over a decision he makes. She wants to carry some dynamite or something and he won’t let her. She argues with him and says that it’s not his choice to make. Then Jack said something that stuck in my head ever since I heard it. “Everyone wants me to be a leader until I make a decision that they don’t like.”

You may have heard by now that Ruth’s visa application was rejected. The Canadian government is afraid that Ruth might try to stay in Canada past her allotted six months. I suppose it’s a fair fear to have. We were quite disappointed when we found out, of course. The neat thing is that before the visa came we were praying that God’s will would be done regarding it. Deep down inside we were actually praying something more like “Gimmie gimmie gimmie.” It’s funny; eventually I got to a point where I was totally convinced that the visa would come. I remember one night when I prayed that the visa would come the next day. Sure enough, the next day I called the High Commission and they said the decision had been made, though they weren’t allowed to tell us what it was. I took this as a definite sign and was thoroughly convinced that God had ordained the visa to fall in our hands. Imagine my disappointment when an empty passport arrived at our house. For a second I felt a little misled. I felt like I had put my faith somewhere it didn’t quite belong. I was upset.

That’s how it always seems to go, eh? We all want a god of some kind. Just like we all need good leaders. Well, we say we want good leaders and gods, but what we really want is someone in a high authority who will agree with everything we agree with. God is great, until he makes a choice we don’t like. Of course, if God’s choices were always the same as mine that would mean that either I possessed omniscience and omni-wisdom, or that God had the intellect of a puny human. Neither of those scenarios fit with the God of the Bible, though. God is far above us. God’s wisdom is so great we could never understand it, even if he tried to explain it to us. It’s like Einstein trying to explain his Special and General theories of relativity to my boy, Joseph. It just can’t happen. I think it should be rather obvious to us that God (and good leaders) will make decisions that we don’t understand or like.

But we have wonderful promises, don’t we? God knew that many of his choices would rub against us, so he put some wonderful promises in his Message to us. “I will never leave you or forsake you.” “All things work together for good…” “I know the plans I have for you…” Lovely, lovely words.

So I sit here and I know that it is best for me to be here. Perhaps God wants me to clean up my Urdu before I get back, or plug another year into this school and try to shape the lives of these kids. Or maybe I’ll just get some better sanctification over here than I would in Canada. Or maybe the reasons are numerous and way over my head, so I shouldn’t try to figure everything out. Maybe I should delight myself in the Lord, do what I can to glorify him wherever I am, and all that good stuff I’m supposed to do.

So on we go! Another year, pray for us. Don’t pray for crappy stuff like money, comfort and whatnot. Pray for gold. That spiritual gold of faith, hope and love. Of total love to God and love to man. That’s the sort of stuff we need over here.

So I can say now that my heart is willing and I’m excited for another year here. All is and will be well. You’re in my prayers, pray for me.

In his grip and grace,
The Cook

Great heart of my own heart
Whatever befall,
Still be Thou my vision
Oh ruler of all.

Hear ye, hear ye!

Just a quick post to let you know that I called the High Commission today about Ruth’s visa. The lady who answered the phone checked her computer and said that an officer was checking out Ruth’s application at that very moment. It takes a few days to check it out so please be praying! I’m calling back on Friday to see what the answer is.

Pray pray.

Hear ye, hear ye!

Just a quick post to let you know that I called the High Commission today about Ruth’s visa. The lady who answered the phone checked her computer and said that an officer was checking out Ruth’s application at that very moment. It takes a few days to check it out so please be praying! I’m calling back on Friday to see what the answer is.

Pray pray.