Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Impressive People

As I was singing the following hymn, "At the Feet of Jesus" this morning in order to prepare for prayer, I came across this verse which immediately reminded me of my friend Heidi, who is going today to be the first of a series of Impressive People on my blog.:

In your hearts enthrone Him; there let Him subdue
All that is not holy, all that is not true;
Crown Him as your Captain in temptation’s hour;
Let His will enfold you in its light and power.

Heidi has had an interesting and at times difficult life. She lives in Utah and comes partly from Mormon family roots. But our Living God did not let her stay there because her name was written in His Book. One day I hope she will write her testimony on her blog, here: http://www.xanga.com/home.aspx?user=bunsofaluminum. (I haven't learned how to list my friends' blogs yet, patience...)

About two years ago, God began a major pruning in Heidi's life. One difficulty after another brought her and her family to a desperate place. All this time, she knew what was going on and, sweetheart that she is, she did everything she could to submit to whatever the Lord asked of her, trusting in Him, knowing that His will was good for her. Then she had One Of Those Days where it just seems that everything possible goes wrong. She was in the process of moving her family from one state to another, and trying to work out all those logistical niggly details that go along with it and seemingly being thwarted at every turn. She was on the freeway, on a tight schedule and with many responsibilities, when her car broke down. It was the last straw. She managed to pull the car over, and at the end of her rope, simply cried out to God,

"Lord! I need Your will!"

That is the prayer of someone who walks with God! Heidi was simply at a point where she knew that God was putting her in a very difficult place, and that only He knew the way out of it. She had spent much time making very specific prayers to Him for many things that she needed, but it seemed as though few of them were panning out. She had no idea what He was doing now, but she had the acuity to realise that discipline was in there, the kind of incredibly loving discipline that only God can mete out. It was the sort of discipline that the sculptor applies to a block of clay: with swift and painful strokes He cut away what didn't look like Christ, in order to build a beautiful daughter for Himself, a work of heavenly Art. And Heidi let him do it. She was still, weeping, sitting in her dead car, and let him do His work. And He did.

What the Lord excises, He binds up. In this case it happened almost immediately. He sent a kindly person to stop and help her. Don't you dare tell Heidi that 'people are kind'. She knows that God is the prompter of all timely kindness.

I hope I can be more like Heidi, which is really to be more like Christ. She isn't a perfect person, not yet, and there are still issues she struggles with. I've hardly yet met a person who is so willing for the pain of God's excising hand on her. I shrink from it, but she welcomes it, knowing that the pain of discipline can only be replaced by the joy of being more like Christ, which makes us forget pain.

Dear Heidi, dear sister in Christ, you are such an example to me! I thank God for you and your eloquent witness for His glory!

Monday, June 20, 2005

An Observation about Travel

Today's Observation concerns preparation for travel.

I'm leaving on Friday to go to Hawaii for a week with Rich for our anniversary. We've been married 25 years (it was easy, but not everyone gets a guy like this).

I prepare for travelling by not just thinking about what I will need to go where I am going, but also for the day I get home. First of all, I deep-clean the house, becuase I know that the last thing I'll feel like doing when I get home is cleaning. In fact, it's all I can do to unpack and put my suicase away; often it clutters up our bedroom for a week before I finally decide I'm not in Timbuktoo anymore. It always takes me some time to "come out" of a trip.

Lately though I've thought that perhaps having some cleaning to do when I get home might help me re-connect with home and get me grounded in my routine again. So perhaps I won't deep-clean, I'll just vacuum and swipe a few floors and make sure bathrooms are clean, and laundry is done and put away. Our dughter Meg has been earning money for a church youth trip to Colorado, so I am employing her as household help. We'll be washing windows this week, and she's doing grunt work in the garden for me.

The week we are gone some friends will be staying in our house while they conduct business here in town. So I've already cleaned the guest room and made the bed in there; I just have to buy a bottle of water and take down the ironing board. That's one job down.

I have to shop, because I won't feel like going shopping when I get home. So I need to plan for about two meals for the family and buy the makings for them to be here when I get back. Maybe I'll even make one and put it in the freezer. Soup, and bread...I have to buy breakfast food for our friends, too.

I've gotten very scatterbrained about packing. I need to make a list of toiletries for my bag and refer to it now. I've packed skirts and frogotten slips; pants and forgotten belts; shoes but not socks, and forgotten a hat for church... these details always seem to escape me somewhere. However, I'm very good at packing light. I was away for a week in North Africa with only a carry-on and a small satchel. (I've become pretty good at knowing what I will need in my satchel on a flight so that I'm not having to haul down my case from an overhead bin: lip balm, two choices of reading, eyeshades, surgical mask (to keep my sinuses hydrated) and Purell. And there's room in there for a water bottle and a bag of dried fruit. Packing light makes it possible to take back to the US two large suitcases for others when I came back, which is nice to be able to do. Once we brought back a rug from India.

If we had known we were going to have to go to N. Africa, we probably would not have gone to Hawaii. Rich felt that we really needed to get away fro this anniversary to someplace interesting and different; neither one of us has been to Hawaii before. We'll hike around and look at the plants and geography and eat pineapple, and spend a night oin a hotel on the side of a volcano. Gulp.

I hope the weather is nice, but even then, Rich is sure to have fun examining the weather. One of these days I'm going to buy him a bumper sticker that says, I Brake For Clouds. He does, too. And then, if I'm a good girl, he will give me a private lecture. :>) It's been fun, married to an academic.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Judging Justly

"...because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: "Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth"

who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously..."
1 Peter 2:21-23

"Judging justly" does not here mean that God somehow judged Jesus and inposed suffering on him because he deserved it. It means that God, in His sovereignty, did what was necessary in the situation to bring about His will, the salvation of His people and thus His own glory.

This requires a view of the cosmos that is hidden to a creation locked in time and space. We do not see the whole situation as God can, therefore we cannot make the righteous kinds of judgements that God makes, let alone bringing anything about.

God certainly gives us some clues as to what we may expect in this world concerning cause and effect. If we do evil, we may expect discipline if we belong to Him, and certain punishment if we do not. Some people though, apparently suffer for no "good" reason. Though all have sinned (Romans 3:23), not all suffer equally. Some appear to "get away" with heinous sin, while others seem to suffer disproportionately.

It isn't about us, in the end. It is about the whole picture that God is accomplishing. The wonder and praise of it is, that while He accomplishes all this, He never loses sight of my individual soul, and designs my personal good as one of His own, even in suffering.

Help me, O God, to be at rest in Your will, whatever your will entails.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Well, phooey.

Flying always does a number on my ears, especially when I have several flights in a row. My right ear gets plugged up in a major way until it feels like it's going to explode...very painful! Chewing and swallowing and massaging don't seem to help. I've worked with a theory that the tissues in there were getting dehydrated, so I put a surgical mask on and drink lots of water, only to have it happen anyway. Afterwards, the ear stays plugged up for days. This time I was completely deaf in my right ear after we landed. At present, my right ear hasn't popped yet, and I landed last Tuesday. I can hear something with it though, at least.

For some reason, my hearing had been worse than usual on this trip. I was in a place where walls and floors were concrete, and people spoke softly, so I had to have my hearing aids in only to get blown away whenever a dog barked or the traffic or wind acted up! I wonder if things are just getting worse there....on top of all this, my poor husband has a very sore throat and can only croak at me. I'll put my hearing aids in for him. :>)

There are times when being deaf has its upside. I don't get as bothered by minor sounds as others do, and I can tune out background noises more easily than others. And I'd far rather be deaf than blind. Because it only affects certain sound ranges, it leads to some wierd interpretations of what I'm hearing. We have a bagpipe CD that Rich loves to listen to, but I can't bear it unless it's turned up loud enough to hear the melody... all I can hear is the nasal HHHHMMMMMmmmmmmm... drives me wild. It's also become something of a family game for me to repeat to someone exactly what I thought they said, which is usually so ridiculous as to be side-splittingly funny.

On a scale of nuisances, this is one where it bothers other people more than me most of the time. There isn't a whole lot I can do about it, so I might as well get a few laughs out of it!

Friday, June 17, 2005

I Wanna be Wise.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. James 1:5-8

Just asking for wisdom is a good thing, but in the context of this passage I begin to see why it's a better thing than I thought. Asking for wisdom doesn't just mean that you get a clue as to what is the next thing to do when you are confused. It's also about enabling us to see what God is doing, to get His view of things, so that I can peacefully submit to His purposes.

Thankfully all God's people can follow all God's commands; He does not ask us to do what we are not enabled to do. But wisdom is an additional blessing, in that God lets us in on the purposes for those commands, like a general explaining His strategy instead of merely giving commands. All will be blessed who follow God's commands even if they do not fathom why God commands as He does. Even more blessing follows when we understand the command's purpose, believing God's unfailing goodness.

O Father, I pray for wisdom especially in trial. I pray for wisdom even when the trial doesn't feel like a trial, such as when I am given such abundance that I become tempted to put my trust in abundance. Father, train me to trust nothing in this world, but to keep my eyes fixed on You. When I am unsure of what to do, help me to keep trusting, throwing my heart, mind and body once more into Your care. For You are good-- always!

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

How to Pray for a Missionary

In the past ten years, I've had alot of opportunities to visit overseas missionaries in the environments in which they work, some in closed countries, some in 'open' ones. Though their personalities are all over the map, I've yet to meet one that I didn't regard as a friend after having spent time with them, watching what they do and how they live their lives. I've discovered that they are "real people". They aren't superstar Christians. It's just that they have received a call that they can't not answer. They simply have to do what they do. They realise, in their situations, what most of the rest of us often don't seem to get a grip on: dependency. They are weak, only they know it. They are confronted by their own weakness and powerlessness every day.

I've met several missionaries whose children aren't yet saved. You'd think that children of missionaries, in closed countries especially, would watch what their parents do at risk of deportation at the least and imprisonment or death at the worst, and get a sense that their parents are pretty focused on something that is beyond themselves. You'd think they would stand up and take notice. Often they don't, and their parents worry about this. Many times the child will return for college to the States, the country that they are "supposed" to identify with, and have a perfectly awful time. They aren't really American, but they aren't really from their abroad country either. They may not notice that they often have a pride problem ("I have had so much more experience of the world than these yahoos!") and fail to notice that their Stateside peers are just as "real" as the native children that they grew up with. The culture is different, but they call it false. It can be too... but so was the one they came from. Such children need alot of gentleness and love, and people to be genuinely interested in them for who they are and what they have experienced, which is not inconsiderable. Grace is paramount. To walk alongside such a child in loving, listening friendship and discipleship is to bless the missionary parent. Pray for their children's salvation, and ask after this. Know their names, and try to get to know the children. Ask the children, even the unsaved ones, what you may pray for them.

I've heard of missionaries who become suicidal. They love the Lord, but His sending church forgets all about His sent ones as soon as they are out of sight. Some missionaries never hear from their 'supporters'. When they come home to raise funds so they can stay where they are to do His work, they are met with lukewarm saints who, if they even remember their names and faces at all, regard what missionaries do as second-class work-- as though these saints couldn't get a "real" job. They don't like hearing about the need for prayer and money. Your treasure is where you heart is. When you give money to a missionary, you invest in the Kingdom that will never perish. Give your wallet a chance to invest in a missionary, and your heart will follow. Pray when you write that check...ask for prayer requests and think on how you might tangibly fill a missionary's needs. It isn't always money. It might just be the worthy books you've enjoyed reading that they are hankering after. There aren't too many libraries full of English books in East Asia.

Many missionaries live in isolated areas. There may be few other believers or there may be alot. I've seen loving communities of missionaries who understand that they need to feed one another, to serve one another. They recognise that no believer is without a gift, and they depend on one another to be strengthened, and they consider it an obligation to be a servant. They don't pick and choose opportunities the way we decide which parties to attend, they seek them out, knowing that there are always needs. Pray for friends for them, and for a spirit of peace to reign among them. And seriously consider visiting them where they are, even if it's at the tail end of a business trip. I promise you, you'll see their country like few Americans ever see it from a tour bus.

Those are just a few ways to minister to missionaries. Can you think of others? They are doing a job just like you, and they have the same aggravations, failings, and needs that you have. They have bills to pay and children to educate, medical and dental bills, and others to whom they must be accountable. They're just people, but they can teach you how the Lord hears all His people. What's true for them is also true for you. You are needy, I'm needy. Let's think as the missionary does, with humble dependence on the One Who supplies all the needs of His own. Let's ask for food, so we can feed it to someone else..

Monday, June 06, 2005

It's a day closer....

In the last days the mountain of the LORD's temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and peoples will stream to it.

2 Many nations will come and say, "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths." The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

3 He will judge between many peoples and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.

4 Every man will sit under his own vine and under his own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid, for the LORD Almighty has spoken.
Micah 4:1-4

I love these verses as I pray for the nations. Imagine what it will look like when places like Cambodia, Columbia, Liberia, Somalia, Russia and Holland, all bend the knee to the Lord's ways, arrange their laws according to His word. Imagine each of these countries bringing their particular praise to God. Imagine each one joyfully rich in resources, each one appreciating the other, each one kneeling side by side with the other, thanking God for the one next to him or her. No more top-heavy police states full of distrust for one another! No more border guards or barbed wire! Imagine them learning to feed one another and encourage one another. That's an Imagine that John Lennon can't match!

Gonna fly away...

Going to be out of town for awhile. Just to keep things interesting, share with me your most helpful/informative/fun bookmarked websites.

Here are a few of mine:

www.allexperts.com. Ask a question of lots of different sorts of experts. Great for informed opinion-getting and question-answering.

http://lava.nationalgeographic.com/pod/ This is where I get my desktops. Changes every day, and you can browse their archive of pictures.

http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/ This one is great for gardening helps. You have to pay to be a member and ask questions, but it's free to type in a search at the bottom of a forum page and see q's others have asked.

http://boards.webmd.com/roundtable.asp Click on a subject to ask questions, free. You'll get all sorts of answers from non-professionals, but the WebMD staff are doctors. They won't give you a diagnosis, but they can tell you where to start looking, and whether it's time to see a doctor. Also a great resource for medical info; has a search engine. I read this one for fun.

What are some of your favorite spots?

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Another Promise

I am familiar with a mission organisation in England called Slav Lands Gospel Fellowship, administered by Roger Weil. They aid in the care and training of pastors and church plants and saints in Siberia. About once a quarter I get a newsletter from Roger. He travels to Siberia about twice a year to check on how things are going and to bring gifts from England and bring back news. I'm always hugely encouraged by the accounts of the saints and pastors there. These people are not shy to tell about the trials and struggles they are going through, but they are also completely unabashed about telling of the Lord's activity on their behalf. Life is not easy in a land where one has to light a fire under trucks to bring them to life on the frozen tundra. Alcoholism is rife, and it seems to me that most of the believers there are women whose husbands have either left them or died from the bottle. Many have children, and no one to provide for them. Believers in England and the United States, among other places, send care packages to some of them, which in many cases is crucial to health and survival.

I read the testimony of one such woman living within the Arctic Circle, a babushka or grandmother, whose husband is gone and whose daughter is struggling to raise a young child after her own husband left her. Recently the child became ill, and there was no money for a doctor, much less good food to feed her. But Irina prayed, and the Lord sent a care package and some money from some British and Americans. They were then able to get care for the little one, and eat something besides macaroni. Who but the Lord? Irina had read Isaiah 40:29-31:
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the LORD

will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

She wrote, "So He gives strength to everyone who puts their trust in Him-- this is true indeed!" Irina Turzhanskaya, may you always so believe the Lord!

Saturday, June 04, 2005


Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs. Proverbs 10:12

One evil that many Christians fall into (I count myself here) is the demand that others be perfect, and should fulfill all my expectations of them:

- Pastors should want to hang out with me, and they need to have perfect wisdom, vision and knowledge; they should know everyone by name in their congregations and all that is going on in their families; they should always recognise each person's unique gifts even when the person can't see them, and make full and important use of each person.
- Congregations should hear the Word preached once and then go out and do what it says, obeying it to the letter. They should watch over one another so well that there should never be an unknown need, even if I have't shared mine.
- Friends should always keep my needs in mind, and be able to know instinctively when something is wrong.
- Family should know me well enough that I should never have to tell them what I would like for a birthday or special day, and they remember me even when I'm not there.

O God! May I take warning, and overlook offenses large and small, recognising that all are faulty, just as I hope others would do for me.

"You have condemned and murdered innocent men, who were not opposing you." James 5:6

Friday, June 03, 2005

Ask of Me

"At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, "Ask for whatever you want me to give you."" I Kings 3:5

Like most people I have a long written list of loved ones, friends and family, for whom I pray. I also have a list of temporary prayer requests in my head. And on top of that, the Lord often brings to mind some person of whom I have heard, or one I haven't thought of for some time-- often these are needy people that I don't know personally at all, or ones I just haven't seen in a long time. Sometimes I consider these lists, and my mind just blanks. So many needs out there! So many people I care about! How can I possibly pray for them all? It gets overwhelming-- and since I am a sinner, what often happens is that I end up shrugging my shoulders and not praying at all, or mumbling some uninspired prayer that feels as though it never even hit the ceiling, let alone the Throne.

Lately though, I've discovered a practise that galvanises my prayer. I imagine the Lord saying to me, " If you could ask of Me anything that you know I want to give you, what would you ask for? What do you want most that you know I will say Yes to? " Of course, the best way to answer this question is to go running to the Scripture to find out what those things are that I need that God values most in His people:

Am I lonely? Psalm 68:6: God sets the lonely in families, [ Or the desolate in a homeland ] he leads forth the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.

Am I in need of resources? Matthew 6: 31-33 "So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."

What if I'm flummoxed as to what's next in life? Proverbs 3:5-8 "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.

The Scriptures are solid gold currency for the Christian who knows how to ask for what the Lord wants. That saint will be certain to get what he wants!

SO, tell me: if you could ask for anything that you know for a certainty that the Lord wants to give you (or someone else), what would you ask for? Are you reminding the Lord daily of this?

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Promises, Promises

"Know the promises and trust them; know the Word and live on its basis, being guided by its wisdom." ~Sinclair Ferguson

Someone recently brought up the contrast between believing in God and believing God. I really like where that thought takes me. In the past year it has blessed me no end to discover and remember one Scriptural promise after another. Not for nothing does our gracious King give us these guarantees. His will is found in them. A way of life is found in them. They are pieces of gold to lift us up out of the poverty of the way the world works. Every so often, I'm going to post a promise that I've discovered. Like a safety rope a rockclimber uses, it only looks thin. The wise climber is not afraid to put his whole weight on that rope and is not concerned when his own footing fails.

What would your life look like if you really trusted this promise? Do you believe God? How will it show?:

"This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." ~Joshua 1:8,9

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Do Not Presume

The sky is deep, and I have come
To find its limits with probing hands
And grasp the stars with pale fingers
To find the End.
The first star sliced palm to bone;
The second found me handless.
The third took my arms,
The fourth my legs,
The fifth my head,
Till only my throbbing heart remained.
Pulsing fast and frozen in place;
No hands to do work,
No legs to carry,
No head to reason;
Only a heart, bare and dying.
But watch as a Light draws near
And forms body, legs and head,
A body of silver to protect
A heart that beats with Truth.

Oh dear, I went and did it.

I am now a statistic. Don't expect graphic acrobatics here; I'm an old lady. As an old lady, I'm just taking the advantage of saying whatever I please. And what I please is to talk about what my Father is teaching His daughter.


A friend of mine recently quoted a passage of Scripture concerning gloating. I spent some time looking for it because it contained a warning; now I've found it, weeks later. Here it is:

Do not rejoice when your enemy falls,
And do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles;
Lest the LORD see it, and it displease Him,
And He turn away His wrath from him. Proverbs 24: 17, 18

I love warnings; they are so straightforward. This one concerns such a human reaction to a certain kind of persecution. I've gloated many a time, unfortunately. Everyone knows what it is like to have someone "after you"-- someone who just seems out to get you. They want supremacy over you.

It isn't a bad thing to feel relief when my enemy falls any more than it's a bad thing to rejoice at having pain removed. But this isn't where He would have me stop. My relief must be accompanied by compassion for my enemy.

Help me, O God, to have compassion on those bound and imprisoned by their animosity. When I am confronted by hatred, enable me to act without malice or triumphalism. Help me, with Your heart, to seek the salvation of my enemy.