A Reflection from Hudson Taylor to Encourage

“And now I have the very passage for you, and God has so blessed it to my own soul. John 7: 37-39: ‘If any man thirst, let him come unto ME and drink.’ Who does not thirst? Who has not mind thirst, heart-thirsts, soul-thirsts or body-thirsts? Well, no matter which, or whether I have them all—“Come unto me and’ remain thirsty? Ah no! ‘Come unto me and drink.’

What, can Jesus meet my need? Yes and more than meet it. No matter how intricate my path, how difficult my service; no matter how sad my bereavement, how far away my loved ones; no matter how helpless I am, how deep are my soul-yearnings—Jesus can meet all, all, and more than meet. He not only promises me rest—ah, how welcome that would be, were it all, and what an all that one word embraces! He not only promises me drink to alleviate my thirst. No, better than that! ‘He who trusts Me in this matter (who believeth on Me, takes Me at My word) out of him shall flow….

Can it be? Can the dry and thirsty one not only be refreshed—the parched soul moistened, the arid places cooled—but the land be so saturated that springs well up and streams flow down from it? Even so! And not mere mountain-torrents, full while the rain lasts, then dry again…but, ‘from within him shall flow rivers’—rivers like the mighty Yangtze, ever deep, ever full. In times of drought brooks may fail, often do, canals may be pumped dry, often are, but the Yangtze never. Always a mighty stream, always flowing deep and irresistible!”

Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret

Perspective from “the House of Mourning”

“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints. -Psalm 116:15

“It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart. -Ecclesiastes 7:2

Yesterday morning, I spend a lot of the morning lost in my own very human line of thinking, as I dropped off thank you cards, following an interview last week for a ministry position. I love ministry work and feel like I know how best to live victoriously when walking with those in ministry. Yet, the past few months I’ve been at home and easily lost in the laundry or even in leisure at times, losing focus and momentum with the Lord. Dropping off the thank you cards to my pastors and trying to build trust in a new church, I interacted with my emotions, simply wanting to be known for who I can be. I have been growing in contentment over the idea of working in the marketplace while serving the Lord in the myriad of other ways He calls us to live. I then headed to a friend’s funeral across town. While in the service singing “You make beautiful things out of the dust… you make beautiful things out of us.” I started choking up, remembering that I am but dust and yet, I am the bride to be of the Soon and Coming King and the daughter of the Most High God. I am a queen and priest before my God, who formed me out of dirt and His own life-breath.

I contemplated the goodness of Him, who is calling me to good things, but not loving me less in a marketplace place position instead of a church one, if his provision goes that way. I contemplated my actions and attitudes with sobriety and concluded that “It is better to go to a house of morning than to go to the house of feasting…” I considered the rest and joy in my eventual death being precious in the sight of the Lord–one day I get to be with him and step out of this good struggle of sanctification.

And as the service moved toward the conclusion, a large man from across the room with a graying beard and a big round belly, stood out with a jubilant and infectious tone that spread throughout crowd, as he bellowed, “When we’ve been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun, we’ve no less days to sing His praise than when we’ve just begun!”

Lord God, I am yours. My days are yours, and yet they are mine somehow. I don’t always know how to stand confidently in the worth that you attribute to me in scripture, but I suspect that walking in confidence and in truth make a big difference. Remind me to keep your truth before my eyes. Please continue to teach me and show me my life through your eyes so I can live my life worthy of my calling in Christ Jesus. Thank you that you do not evaluate as man evaluates, but you rescue, redeem, renew, and refresh. Prepare me to walk in what you’ve prepared for me to accomplish today. Strengthen me against sin. Release your love through me. May your name be honored through my actions and inner attitudes today. Your kingdom come in my world today, your will be done in my home and social circles. I love you. Thank you that you are mine and I am yours. Amen.

Me to Him

It all began with being a Reader. I had become a Christian and I had the Word in my hands. I had heard I was suppose to know the Bible and live by the Bible, so I worked hard to become a Reader.

Soon, I was a Do-er and I did it well. I won the Barnabas Award at middle school church camp. I knew how to take care of people and to do what needed to be done. To a fault, I knew how to follow the rules.  

I learned about prayer in Ministry Team Training as a Freshman or Sophomore in high school. If God responded to us talking to him, it only made sense to talk with him about ministry rather than try to do it on our own.

Soon, I was handed a book about “falling in love” with Jesus and I became a Be-er, like Mary. I learned to enjoy the love of God and to delight in His omnipresence. Oh! I LOVE that He is everywhere!! I would ride in my car and enjoy him being there with me.  I wasn’t ever driving alone-Jesus was in the car with me (couldn’t have better company that that)! Prayer moved from a list of scripturally-oriented goals to a means of friendship with the coolest guy who ever lived and I could problem-solve or get help through sharing my heart with him.

Then, something inexplicable happened, my love for singing and my love for God combine. Worship was prayer. Prayer was worship. Worship was gratitude and thankfulness  poured out for my best friend. Worship fueled by rich relationship grew passionate. The gratitude and thankfulness would well up and suddenly, singing wasn’t enough. Hands clapping, knees bent, shouts for joy, spontaneous song, instrumental, singing, arms raised-passion spent on my BEAUTIFUL, AWE-INSPIRING, MIGHTY CREATOR and FRIEND…my best friend.

 

Crowder

Up on the mountain
Where Your love captured me
Where finally I’m free
This I know
Up on the mountain
Where You taught my soul to sing
Amazing grace the sweetest thing
This I know

And then the storm rushing in
And here I am again
This I know

Take me up to where I was
When I never wanted more than You
Lift me up to feel your touch
It wouldn’t be that much for You
This I know
This I know
This I know
This I know

Up on the mountain
Where You took me by the hand
Taught me to dance again
This I know
Up on the mountain
Where You took this heart of stone
Put life back in these bones
This I know

Take me up to where I was
When I never wanted more than You
Lift me up to feel your touch
It wouldn’t be that much for You
This I know
This I know
This I know
This I know

I Will Sing A New Song

There is a whole lot of breaking out into song in the start of Luke-Mary’s song, Zechariah’s song, and maybe even the heavenly hosts at Jesus’ birth. It might have been mistaken for a musical of praise to God, in the style of Rogers and Hammerstein.

God is worthy of all our praise and worship from eternity past into eternity to come. Why shouldn’t life be a musical?

If every good and perfect gift comes from God, gratitude should be overwhelmingly present. The sun on my trees this morning, the cheery comforter on my bed given by my mother, breathing, the ability to read God’s work, payday, food, friends, family, the knowledge I have of God’s love for me, the sound of the birds sweetly singing in the morning!!!

Over the past three years or so, some trust issues have crept up between God and me. I feel like I’ve taken a detour from the road I’ve been on for the past year, or maybe I’ve gone through a desert season. I wonder if God saying he is good is enough. I’ve wanted to understand why the hard things happen. It is starting to feel like time to just take God at his word and move forward.

As the psalmist of old, I will sing a new song.

What is in a name…

It has always amazed me, the way that a person’s name tells just a little bit about them. For example, Abigail means “father’s joy” and Simon means “the listener.”

Ever notice how many Marys (bitter) are in Jewish circles when Jesus was alive? I love how the timing of Jesus’ birth was such that Jewish families were bitter enough about their situation with Rome’s leadership and wait for a messiah, that they began naming their sweet little babies names with such strong feeling behind them.

Then, comes John (YAHWEH is gracious) preceeding Jesus (YAHWEH is salvation), both names given by God as a prophetic declaration of God’s identity as he provides these two babies who will grow up to be catalysts, turning history upside down in Israel and to the corners of the earth.

 

 

Asking for his name-seeing it is Wonderful

“Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the alter of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son and you are to give him the name John…”

Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”

The angel answered, “I am Gabriel I stand in the presence of God, and have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news…”

Luke 1

 

There was a certain man of Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren and had borne no children.  Then the angel of the Lord appeared to the woman and said to her, “Behold now, you are barren and have borne no children, but you shall conceive and give birth to a son. Now therefore, be careful not to drink wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing. For behold, you shall conceive and give birth to a son, and no razor shall come upon his head, for the boy shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb; and he shall begin to deliver Israel from the hands of the Philistines.”

Then Manoah said to the angel of the Lord, “Please let us detain you so that we may prepare a young goat for you.” The angel of the Lord said to Manoah, “Though you detain me, I will not eat your food, but if you prepare a burnt offering, then offer it to the Lord.” For Manoah did not know that he was the angel of the Lord. Manoah said to the angel of the Lord, “What is your name, so that when your words come to pass, we may honor you?” But the angel of the Lord said to him, “Why do you ask my name, seeing it is wonderful?”

Judges 13

 

Sometimes, in life, what we want for our lives just doesn’t come together. Hopes, dreams, plans-the blueprints we and our culture lay out before us, seem unattainable, dead.

I think of Elizabeth and Zechariah when this comes to mind. I think of Samson’s birth-I think of myself. For whatever reason, Elizabeth and Zechariah were unable to have a child for years. But in that time of closeness with the Lord-entering the temple of the Lord-Zechariah was met by the Lord, his wife’s womb was opened, and they had a child whom God used, to play such a significant part of history.

As long as I’ve been a Christian, my life has been about service to the Lord. In middle school and high school and college, I looked for ministry opportunities wherever I was. At Western I had a slight shift that occurred-I needed to focus entirely on school occasionally to finish my degree and surprisingly, that felt like barrenness. Sometimes, I feel like the things I’ve tried to hardest for have resulted in the same walls as Elizabeth and Zechariah.  At nearly 30 years old, I have times and days where I feel like my dreams for ministry and my plans for vocation have both been truncated. But then I am confronted, as Zechariah was, with the truth of who my God is, the depth of his love, the solidity of his promises. For Zechariah, it was an angel who stood in the presence of God who spoke to him in such an intimate place as the God’s home-the temple. However, now, the curtain has been torn and God has made me his temple. The intimacy of my day-to-day conversations and my time in scripture confronts me with the truth of who my God is-that my God is Wonderful.

Get Up and Walk

I have been writing again. For some reason, writing seems intimately connected with freedom for me and so much of my life this past year has felt crippled, isolated, and pushed to the side.

I loved blessing the Lord with prayer and worship at the Light of the World Prayer Center. I loved being on staff. I did not love being alone in support-raising, feeling attacked by someone close for my support letters, trying to balance all the expectations from different places, and taking care of myself as well.

This year, I’ve tried to maintain a rich relationship with the Lord and realized that I was really struggling at times, for more than one reason. I’d try to pull it together, pull myself up by my boot-straps, summon strength and push through. It would work for a little bit, and then I’d fall into a place of retreat once again.

Week before last, God spoke to me out of Matthew 9, after weeks of me “camping out” so to speak in the story of Jesus healing a paralytic. He said to me, ” Your sins are forgiven, get up and walk.” So, I picked up my laptop and started writing.

Mary, a year or so later

I’ve wondered a lot about seasons in our relationships with God. I’m not pondering their existence, but I am wondering how much of life is about pushing through and how much is about riding the waves a bit until they calm down. Jesus stills some storms, but when he doesn’t, our lives sometimes loose that glow that they once had.

I want to know what happened to Mary of Bethany. The consolation of Israel loved her and she loved him. Her Messiah came near and she gave everything for him. What happened in her life 5, 10, 20 years down the road? How did she handle things? How did her love for Jesus wax and wane?

I try to compare myself to others and the ways they’ve handled the storms of life and found this an unfulfilling, disappointing experience. What is that quote? “Comparisons are odious.” (Lydgate, 1440).

Mostly, I hear the Lord saying, “Amy, I am here. I’ll always be here. I’ll be faithful to the end.” And I find myself wanting to crawl up in my Daddy-God’s lap, feeling the comfort of his royal robes and the curls in his hair, the smell of his breath.