Saturday, August 11, 2007

Jesus Is Just Alright With Me


"Umm...it's alright." Those words have the power to drive me nearly insane. To hear them spoken of a cherished book or a beautiful dress is almost unbearable. In Sense and Sensibility, Marianne cries out in similar frustration to her mother, “To hear those beautiful lines, which have frequently almost driven me wild, pronounced with such impenetrable calmness—such dreadful indifference!” Marianne strikes upon something I think we have all felt. When a thing we love is not treated with the whole-hearted, passionate adoration we believe it deserves, something within us rebels. We are indignant when a praiseworthy object is left unpraised. Adore it or loathe it, but do not simply tolerate it!

And yet, how often do I apply this very same principle to my personal relationship with God? Realistically, it is of no consequence if someone fails to produce what I deem is the "proper response" to one of my earthly affections. What should I care if my friend gives a favorite movie only three stars? It’s small beans. On the other hand, my opinion of God is an unbendable issue. He’s the only One worthy of total devotion. But with a nod of acknowledgement, I am saying, “Umm…God, You’re alright”; as if He were a choice dessert or hit song. I wade in apathy where I should rightly dance with zeal.


Unlike me, missionary-martyr Jim Elliot cried to God for passion:

“God, I pray Thee, light these idle sticks of my life and may I burn for Thee. Consume my life, my God, for it is Thine. God, deliver me from the dread asbestos of 'other things.' Saturate me with the oil of the Spirit that I may be aflame. Make me thy fuel, Flame of God.”
Nothing lukewarm there. Can I really say that my love is such a consuming fervor that nothing else matters? That I attribute to Him the adoration and praise He so greatly deserves?Sam Storms put it well, when he wrote in his book One Thing: Developing a Passion for the Beauty of God,

“Apathy is impossible in the presence of the Son of God. Ineffable beauty compels a response: either passionate devotion or hatred. Middle-of-the-road,straddle-the-fence, you-do-your-thing-and-I’ll-do-mine indifference dies when Jesus draws near. Love Him or despise Him, but abandon the myth that He can be tolerated. Sing for joy or spit in His face. Apathy simply isn’t an option.”
Dwell on those words. Passionate devotion—or hatred. There is no room for a response less than the extreme. Christ wants all of ourselves: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30) Not part of the time. Not mildly or insipidly. Just as Christ gave us His everything, our everything is demanded in return. It’s radical, fanatic, obsessive, and unreserved. It’s a love that shouts from rooftops, to the God who is never merely “alright.”

Labels: , ,

Monday, August 06, 2007

Brain Food

I wonder, how often we are too easily pleased by the approval of mere men...


...rather than delighting in God Himself.

"Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with...ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea.

We are far too easily pleased."

-from The Weight of Glory, by C.S. Lewis

Labels: ,

Monday, January 15, 2007

An Unsaved Princess

Once upon a time, a girl named Rapunzel was held captive in a tall stone tower. She then lived happily ever after. The end.

Yes, it is a pathetic story. I doubt you will ever find it on the New York Times Bestsellers list. Honestly, who cares about Rapunzel without rescuer? Who would be interested in a Cinderella with no prince to find her glass slipper? No one ever cares about stories involving princesses and frogs, unless of course the frog turns into a prince…now that story has possibilities.

An article from the Seattle Weekly reported that the “Unsaved Princess” syndrome has slipped into real life as well:
“I did a careful reading of the fall issues of the following publications: Cosmo Girl, Jump, Seventeen, and YM (Young and Modern.) The conclusion I came to was this: The boy-crazy American Girl is alive and well. She's never felt better….Girls need boys, boys are the be-all and end-all, and mind-numbing boy craziness is a natural state….Throughout these pages girls engage in the old game of he-loves-me, he-loves-me-not. They moon around about prom night. They crave Prince Charming so deeply it's making them psycho. A headline in Cosmo Girl reads 'No Guys Ever Like Me, So Now What?'"

Even in circles in which dating is not the focus, often unless the ring finger is no longer bare, life has not yet begun. A girl does not live until Prince Charming sweeps her off her feet. But as the clock ticks on, one must wonder if God has something in mind for modern day Rapunzels besides twiddling their thumbs.

Ephesians 5:25-30, 32 lets us in on a secret:

"Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her, that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the Word, so that He might present the Church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it....This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the Church."
Husbands and wives are but echoes of Jesus' love for the Church. As a husband is commanded to love his wife as his own body, Jesus loved us by giving His body over to death for us.

Marriage reflects love. Jesus defined it.

As the modern Rapunzel's thoughts dwell around her coming prince, she may miss the One, True King of her soul. He stands at this moment, beckoning for her to come away with Him. He cares for her with a unconditional, selfless love that no other prince could rival.

Days pass to months, and the clock ticks on. Rapunzel is still in her tower, but she is no longer wasting time. She is falling in love, not with the prince who has yet to save her, but with the King who has already saved her soul. She is living today, not waiting for "someday."

May it be the same for us. As C.H. Spurgeon wrote, "The truest lengthening of life is to live while we live, wasting no time but using every hour for the highest ends. So be it this day."


Sources:
Article. Emily White, "Girls who love boys," Seattle Weekly, August 23, 2000
Spurgeon quote from Faith's Checkbook entry for June 22

Labels: , ,

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Love is Nails

They say that pictures speak a thousand words. It's true. There's a photo on our countertop of a foreign pastor and his family. His little children stare at the camera, unsure whether to smile or be frightened. The pastor himself does not satisfy the popular image of a pastor. He does not pose, but merely grips his Bible solemnly. He emanates no suave charisma or toothy grin. In reading about him, I find that this pastor's teeth were knocked out by persecutors in his village, who wanted him to leave and take his Christ with him.

Such are the Christ followers—those who bear Christ's image on their hearts. A few, such as the pastor, bear His image outwardly as well. The village pastor's face reminds me of Him who was also beaten and lived His life in humble circumstances as well.


Not many children born in barns are likely to be voted 'Most Likely to Succeed' or are on the 'Fortune 500' list. Yet His birth in the stable will never be forgotten. He entered life surrounded by a cloud of suspicion and disgrace—the son of an unmarried woman. Yet His coming was heralded by the stars. He was openly criticized, hated, and betrayed by a friend's kiss. Then He was crucified, beaten until so bloody that He no longer appeared human.


God's Son took the likeness of Man, and in His death even that likeness was torn away from Him. He became "one from whom men hide their face." (Isaiah 53:3) For what purpose was the One who was called the "Morning Star" and "Prince of Peace" beaten to a pulp?


1 John 4:9:

"In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him."


Because He loves you.


The foreign pastor was beaten brutally for the sake of the gospel. He suffered insults, disgrace, and great physical pain. And yet, he and his family have chosen to remain in his village, despite the persecution that they must face. Right now, they live in constant danger. No obligation ties this pastor to the tribe, and no one would ever blame him if he decided to immigrate to a safer location with his family. After all, how could anyone possibly expect him to love the ones who had cruelly assaulted him?


There can be but one explanation for his decision to stay. This pastor became a missionary because God placed a great love in his heart for the people of his country, and this love has not faded, despite mistreatment at their hands. In a small way, this pastor’s story is a reflection of what God has done for us. The very Son of God suffered so much more. His actions were confusing—even a paradox. The All Powerful God surrendered Himself into the violent hands of those whom He came to save. Such is the love of God.


God loves the world with an intense, passionate love—a love so deep and so pure that we can hardly begin to fathom it. On the day of Jesus' birth, God Himself entered the world—to die. And He did it out of love for you.


C.S. Lewis penned a poem, marveling at this as well:

Love's as hard as nails, Love is nails

Blunt, thick, hammered through
The medial nerves of One
Who, having made us, knew
The thing He had done,
Seeing (what all that is)
Our cross, and His.


by Hannah and Lindsey

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Mission of Generation X

Part One/Part Two/Part Three

Christian leaders today are asking, what is the future of Christianity in America? What will this new generation, “Generation X,” do with the faith of their fathers? “I’m looking at the data,” said Ron Luce, founder of the popular Teen Mania youth rallies, “and we’ve become post-Christian America, like post-Christian Europe. We’ve been working as hard as we know how to work — everyone in youth ministry is working hard — but we’re losing.”

The Christian portion of Generation X has its work cut out for it. It is estimated that 42% of American women will have an abortion before the age of forty-five. According to a recent census, only “49.7 percent” of American households are based upon marriage. “Co-habitation” has taken the lead as the most common “lifestyle.” Within the next few years, Generation X can choose to either uphold these statistics or do away with them.

Our Opportunity

Imagine if every female did not consider herself just physically different from males, but a uniquely feminine creation, made in the image of God with a special role. Imagine how different our society would be if women viewed themselves Biblically. Women would not be valued not as commercial items, nor as independent individuals thrown out the door at the age of eighteen to live their own lives, but as people much Beloved of God.

It is not the presidents, senators, celebrities, or national icons with whom is entrusted the opportunity to change to culture for Christ. We, the young women of Generation X, have been given the opportunity. We have the chance to conform to Biblical femininity, and in so doing, show the world that we are followers of Christ through our wholehearted obedience.

We're Not Alone

When Moses was leading the Israelites through the wilderness, he realized how dependent he was on God. "If Your Presence does not go with us,” Moses said, “do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that You are pleased with me and with Your people unless You go with us? What else will distinguish me and Your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?" (Exodus 33:15)

It is vital for us to remember, as beautiful as femininity, modesty, and purity are, these principles alone will not save society. They will impact society positively, but will fail in true bringing about true transformation. If we attempt to change the culture positively without Christ, we will be doing only what every other political and human-wellness group has done in the past. We will be approaching the symptoms of the problem, without addressing the heart of the issue.

Our hearts must first be changed, and within us must dwell a passionate desire to go only where God leads. We must be as Moses. With hearts so focused on Jesus that we obey out of love for Him and a desire for His glory, how could the culture not be changed?
_______________________
Sources:

Ron Luce quote: Laurie Goodstein. "Evangelicals Fear the Loss of Their Teenagers," New York Times, Oct. 6, 2006

Abortion statistics from "Citizen Link"

Marriage statistics: Sam Roberts. "To Be Married Means to Be Outnumbered," New York Times, Oct. 16, 2006

Note: Our technical problems have (hopefully) been fixed. Unfortunately, the comments didn't make it. We're very sorry for the inconvenience.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Dancing with Jesus

The lights slowly dim as the orchestra begins to compose its soft, peaceful melodies. The young couple stands facing each other. The man extends his welcoming hand, the woman graciously takes hold of it. Step by step, he leads. She follows. He leads. She follows.

In life it is the same way. Each of our relationships with Christ can be compared to a dance. The man leads, and the woman in response, follows. We, as the Bride of Christ, must in the same way surrender our impulse to take charge. Each of us must learn to submit, surrender, and die to the urge to control.

An unmarried woman or virgin is
concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. 1 Corinthians 7:34b

For several weeks I have felt very distracted; so distracted that my aim and desires have been turned to other things instead of being solely placed on Christ alone. I have wanted to take charge of the situation.

I have to admit, that lately I have felt like I have been walking through a valley, partly because circumstances have not turned out the way I would have guessed. My mind is constantly wondering. My heart continuously asks questions. My soul yearning to know why I have to walk through this particular “valley of the shadow.” But I am realizing that it is during this time, more now than ever, that I have felt His rod and staff comforting me (Psalm 23). Even when I still see that there is only one set of footprints in the sand, I know that it is because He is still carrying me.

My dance with Jesus is taking place in a valley. He is teaching me what it means to truly trust Him--what it means to have hope.

Daughter of the True High King, He beckons you. Will you draw near? Will you take His hand and choose to let go of everything that is keeping you from true abandonment? Are you willing to sever every enslaving bond that is dragging you away from Him? Are you prepared to fight for intimate fellowship with your Maker? Are you ready to surrender every area of your life to His leading?

Close your eyes... and prepare yourself for a dance that will carry you across barren wastelands, through valleys, and over grueling mountaintops. This dance requires a trust that never lets goes, a faith that chooses to believe, and a heart that continually surrenders.

Dear Child, seize His hand. Follow the rhythm of His steps. Allow His voice to blur out all the other enticing distractions that constantly seem to scream out your name. Allow His face to cloud anything that may try to lure you. Fix your eyes on His.

A song that has blessed me immensely during this hard time has been Marc Schulz’s song, He Will Carry Me.

I call, You hear me
I've lost it all
And it's more then I can bear
I feel so empty

You're strong, I'm weary
I'm holding on
But I feel like giving in
But still You're with me

And even though I'm walking
Through the valley of the shadow
I will hold tight to the hand of Him
Who's love will comfort me

And when my hope is gone
And I've been wounded in the battle
He is all the strength that I will ever need
He will carry me

I know I'm broken
But You alone
Can mend this heart of mine
Your always with me

And even though I feel so lonely
Like I have never been before
You never said it would be easy
But You said You'd see me through the storm


Girls, dance with Jesus. Give into utter abandonment. A place of complete surrender. A journey with Christ by your side. And know that He will get you through.

What about you? Where are you dancing with Jesus right now? Is the Lord leading you through a barren wasteland, a valley, or up a mountainside? Are you choosing to allow your circumstances to make you more like Christ? What life lessons is Jesus teaching you at present?

Labels: ,

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Like Broken Bread

“When the Galilean boy brought his bread to the Lord, what did the Lord do with it? He broke it. God will always break what is offered to Him. He breaks what He takes, but after breaking it He blesses and uses it to meet the needs of others. After you give yourself to the Lord, He begins to break what was offered to Him. Everything seems to go wrong, and you protest and find fault with the ways of God. But to stay there is to be no more than just a broken vessel—no good for the world because you have gone too far for the world to use you, and no good for God either because you have not gone far enough from Him to use you. You are out of gear with the world, and you have a controversy with God. This is the tragedy of many a Christian.

My giving of myself to the Lord must be an initial fundamental act. Then, day by day, I must go on giving to Him, not finding fault with His use of me, but accepting with praise even what the flesh finds hard. That ways lies true enrichment.

I am the Lord’s and now no longer reckon myself to be on my own, but acknowledge in everything His ownership and authority. That is the attitude God delights in, and to maintain it is true consecration. I do not consecrate myself to be a missionary or a preacher; I consecrate myself to God to do His will where I am, be it in school, office or kitchen or wherever He may, in His wisdom, send me. Whatever He ordains for me is sure to be the very best, for nothing but good can come to those who are wholly His. May we always be possessed by the consciousness that we are not our own.”

-Watchman Nee, from his book, The Normal Christian Life, Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Copyright 1977, pages 106-107

Labels:

Thursday, August 17, 2006

God Speaks Chinese

Never before had I felt so much like an infant. An announcement sounded over the airplane speakers, an unintelligible string of Chinese. I understood two words from the entire broadcast, and it was a discomforting reminder of how little of my surroundings I understood. If the sky was falling, I’d have no way of knowing.

I shifted in my seat as the rest of the passengers continued boarding the plane, fully conscious of the hundred eyes watching me. I could hardly blame them. Foreigners were rare in that part of China and tall Americans have a hard time blending in anywhere. Not only was I a clueless infant in this foreign country; I was also a freak.

The last time I boarded a Chinese domestic flight, there had been a delay and a problem with the airplane’s air conditioning. Several passengers had stood in their seats, waving their hands in frustration and engaging themselves in a energetic yelling contest with the flight attendant. It was chaos and anarchy. And worst of all, since I have little knowledge of the Chinese language, there was nothing I could do. I felt helpless.

I desperately wished to shrink to the size of an insect or even a bacterium. Could I ever feel comfortable in these alien surroundings? Could I depend on God to take care of every detail?

In Proverbs 30: 2-5, Agur mourned over his ignorance and vulnerability as well:

“‘I am the most ignorant of men;
I do not have a man's understanding.

I have not learned wisdom,
nor have I knowledge of the Holy One.

Who has gone up to heaven and come down?
Who has gathered up the wind in the hollow of His hands?
Who has wrapped up the waters in His cloak?
Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is His name, and the name of His Son?
Tell me if you know!

‘Every word of God is flawless;
He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.”

God’s competence in controlling situations is a great deal more than our own; yet maybe you are like me, and still tremble at the thought of handing Him the reins. We gave Him our life, but we struggle to handle individual, daily situations alone.

One of my favorite authors and speakers, John Piper, wrote, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.” When we satisfy ourselves with the knowledge that He is in control, He is glorified. His strength is most visible when we have no chance to succeed on our own. When we are incapable, and feel like infants, we should rejoice at the opportunity to lean on Him and make His power known. Paul explained this in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

“But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

As I waited for take off, I heard a soft, familiar melody. Strangely out of place, it sounded like Heaven playing over the airplane speaker. The song was instrumental, but I knew the words from church:

Mercy, mercy
Goodness and kindness,
Love and forgiveness.
Mercy, mercy.
It’s been mercy all the way.

A comforting song in Communist China? Yes, God does speak Chinese.

Labels: ,

Monday, July 10, 2006

Wait

by Russell Kelfer

Desperately, helplessly, longingly, I cried;
Quietly, patiently, lovingly, God replied.
I pled and I wept for a clue to my fate...
and the Master so gently said,"Wait."

"Wait? you say wait?" my indignant reply.
"Lord, I need answers, I need to know why!
Is your hand shortened? Or have you not heard?
By faith I have asked, and I'm claiming your Word.

My future and all to which I relate
hangs in the balance and you tell me to Wait?
I'm needing a 'yes', a go-ahead sign.
Or even a 'no,' to which I'll resign.

You promised, dear Lord, that if we believe,
We need but to ask, and we shall receive.
Lord, I've been asking, and this is my cry:
I'm weary of asking! I need a reply."

Then quietly, softly, I learned of my fate
as my Master replied again, "Wait."
So I slumped in my chair, defeated and taut,
and grumbled to God, "So, I'm waiting...for what?"

He seemed then to kneel, and His eyes met with mine...
and He tenderly said, "I could give you a sign.
I could shake the heavens and darken the sun.
I could raise the dead and cause mountains to run.

I could give all you seek and pleased you would be.
You'd have what you want, but you wouldn't know Me.
You'd not know the depth of My love for each saint.
You'd not know the power that I give to the faint.

You'd not learn to see through clouds of despair;
you'd not learn to trust just by knowing I'm there.
You'd not know the joy of resting in Me
when darkness and silence are all you can see.

You'd never experience the fullness of love
when the peace of My spirit descends like a dove.
You would know that I give, and I save, for a start,
But you'd not know the depth of the beat of My heart.

The glow of My comfort late into the night,
the faith that I give when you walk without sight.
The depth that's beyond getting just what you ask
From an infinite God who makes what you have last.

You'd never know should your pain quickly flee,
what it means that My grace is sufficient for thee.
Yes, your dearest dreams overnight would come true,
but oh, the loss if I lost what I'm doing in you.

So, be silent, my child, and in time you will see
that the greatest of gifts is to truly know me.
And though oft My answers seem terribly late,
My most precious answer of all is still "WAIT".

Labels: , ,

Monday, June 19, 2006

Every Day Death: Becoming Teachable

"Listen, my son, to your father's instruction and do not forsake your mother's teaching. They will be a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck."-Proverbs 1:8-9

Have you ever tried to debate with someone who is convinced that they are right? You try and you try to reason with them, but they refuse to consider the possibility that they are wrong. As frustrated as I often am by stubborness, I confess that I can be extremely stubborn myself. I tend to want to teach---not be taught!

Proverbs 15:32 says,

"He who ignores discipline despises himself, but whoever heeds correction gains understanding."

We all want to be wise and have understanding, but do we take the steps required to become wise? Do we listen and accept rebuke? We cannot make any steps toward wisdom without being willing to surrender and be taught. Surrender.

Jim Elliot once wrote,

"'He makes His ministers a flame of fire.' Am I ignitible? God deliver me from the dread asbestos of 'other things.' Saturate me with the oil of the Spirit that I may be a flame. But flame is transient, often short-lived. Canst thou bear this, my soul--short life? In me there dwells the Spirit of the Great Short-Lived, whose zeal for God's house consumed Him. 'Make me Thy Fuel, Flame of God.'"

Not long after writing the above quote, Jim Elliot left with his young wife for the mission field in Ecuador. There, he and four other missionaries attempted to reach a previously unreached Indian tribe--the Aucas--with the Word of God. On January 8, 1956, they were attacked by a group of Auca tribesmen. Though each of the missionaries had brought rifles with them for protection, they all refused to use them in self defense. Every one of the missionaries was killed.

All five of the missionaries who died were young, newly married, and seemed to have their entire lives ahead of them. Yet, conscious of the danger of trying to reach the Aucas, they sacrificed their own interests for the purpose of obeying God. What does this have to do with us? It is most likely that we will not all have to die for our faith as Jim Elliot did, but each of us must die to ourselves.

"Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." Matthew 16:24

It has been said before that it is easier for us to surrender our bodies to death than it is to surrender our will to God. This death to ourselves is not one that we only die once, but it is a continual, every day death to our own selfish desires. This surrender includes giving up our own stubborness and willfulness and laying it at Christ's feet, giving it up so that we might become teachable and pliable in His hands.

Charles Spurgeon said,

"Jesus is to believers the one pearl of great price, for whom we are willing to part with all that we have. He has so completely won our love, that it beats alone for him; to his glory we would live, and in defence of his gospel we would die; he is the pattern of our life, and the model after which we would sculpture our character. Paul’s words mean more than most men think; they imply that the aim and end of his life was Christ—nay, his life itself was Jesus. In the words of an ancient saint, he did eat, and drink, and sleep eternal life. Jesus was his very breath, the soul of his soul, the heart of his heart, the life of his life. Can you say, as a professing Christian, that you live up to this idea? Can you honestly say that for you to live is Christ? Your business—are you doing it for Christ? Is it not done for self- aggrandizement and for family advantage? Do you ask, “Is that a mean reason?” For the Christian it is. He professes to live for Christ; how can he live for another object without committing a spiritual adultery? Many there are who carry out this principle in some measure; but who is there that dare say that he hath lived wholly for Christ as the apostle did? Yet, this alone is the true life of a Christian—its source, its sustenance, its fashion, its end, all gathered up in one word—Christ Jesus. Lord, accept me; I here present myself, praying to live only in thee and to thee. Let me be as the bullock which stands between the plough and the altar, to work or to be sacrificed; and let my motto be, 'Ready for either.'”

_____________________________________

Re-posted by Kristin, originally written by Hannah Beth

Labels:

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

IRL: Mary Slessor, Part 2

I was willing to be a missionary anywhere, and would gratefully accept any station that they offered me, though I would have loved to go to Calabar. When I entered the room for the interview, they told me that my application had been accepted. I was so excited I could scarcely breathe! But that was not all- they continued to tell me that the Foreign Missions Board had an opportunity for me in Calabar, on the west coast of Africa! I immediately expressed my enthusiasm, but the board was still cautious. They reminded me of all the dangers in Calabar- but that would not persuade me. I considered the post in Calabar an honor, since so few missionaries volunteered to go there.
With my heart brimming with joy, I returned home to tell the others the wonderful news. My friends reminded me that Calabar was called the "White Man's Grave" for good reason, and warned me about the deadly tribal diseases and various hardships I would doubtless encounter. But I trusted my Lord- I knew that it was His will for me to go, and so I had no reason to fear.
There was much preparation to do before I could leave, but at last July 30, 1876 came- the day that would mark the beginning of my missionary journey into Africa.


When I arrived in Duke Town, I was warmly welcomed into a large, airy mission house. The lawn was manicured, and the interior polished and spotless. Though it was comfortable and convenient, something was missing. I was confined to the mission house, and was constantly attending formal dinners and afternoon teas. I longed to be outside talking with the people, not sitting inside talking about the weather and gossiping. When I did get a chance to go outside and talk to the natives, I found that they had all heard the Gospel so many times that they could recite dozens of Bible verses from memory! The natives made a large show of attending church on Sundays, but their lives remained completely unchanged by the Gospel. When I tried to explain to them what the Bible said about their human sacrifices and other practices, they turned a deaf ear. I discovered that the natives of Duke Town were sly- they would tell the missionaries what they wanted to hear, but did nothing to change their ways. I realized that in order for me to be as effective as I wanted to be, I should live the same way that they did- simply.
I also wanted to be able to take the Gospel to people who had not heard it ever before... I felt that the Lord wanted me to go further inland, without the comforts- or confines- of a mission house. And so, after appealing to the Foreign Missions Board for several months, I was given a new post a few miles inland in a place called Old Town.


The people were shy of me at first, but in time, they began to trust me. I started to develop friendships among them, and not long after arriving I was even being called upon to help resolve small arguments! One morning soon after I arrived, I opened my door and found a small baby lying on the ground. The child's mother had probably died, and a relative or friend had decided that I could take care of him. Life was not valued highly in Calabar. Twins were considered a curse from an evil spirit, and so they were always killed after birth, and the mother either banished or murdered. If she was banished, she would die within a week or two anyway, because anyone who tried to assist her was considered "cursed" also. I kept the child, and many others followed. Soon, my one-room hut was filled with children. The people called me the "White Ma". I dressed their wounds and helped their sick, and every morning and evening I held a Bible service. The people began to respect me... but my life was not without its trials.

One day, a woman arrived at the door of my hut, her eyes frantic with fear. She quickly told me that her friend had just given birth to twins, and the twins were about to be killed. I ran out of the house immediately, and arrived just in time. The natives stared at me in shock as I scooped up the children and began to run. I arrived safely at my hut, and when I examined the twins- a boy and a girl- I saw that they looked completely healthy. Praising the Lord for letting me save two lives that day, I tended to them as my own. But the natives did not forget about my twins. Shortly afterwards, I left my two children with a native woman while I went on an errand. When I returned, my little boy was dead- strangled by one of his family members. I wept for a long time over him, and I vowed that little Janie, his sister, would never leave my sight.

I remember so well the day that marked the beginning of the slow process of putting aside tribal customs. There was a frenzy of excitement in the village of Ekenge, and from my hut I could hear the throbbing of ceremonial drums. As I drew nearer to the throng, a piercing cry broke the air. A young woman was lying naked on the ground, her feet and arms tied together. A huge cauldron of boiling oil was beside her, and suddenly I knew with terrifying certainty what they were going to do. A warrior was dancing around the cauldron in a costume, and in his hand he held a large ladle. The burning oil would be poured over the young woman slowly, until she died in excruciating pain. I whispered a prayer for courage, and ran in between the young woman and the warrior. The ceremonial drums stopped immediately, and everything was silent. But the silence did not last long. A glint appeared in the man's eyes, and he began dancing again, slowly circling around me. He came closer and closer, until the ladle of burning oil was less than an inch before my face. I looked at the man right in his eyes. Several painful seconds passed, and then he threw down the ladle at my feet and marched away. I bent down and helped the young woman to her feet. She was unharmed. I was amazed afterwards at what had taken place, for I know that it was only God that gave me the courage to do what I did.

After the incident with the burning oil, people began to question their god, Abassi, and consider what I was telling them about Jesus Christ. Change came slowly, and with many setbacks and disappointments, but God was at work in the people's hearts. Throughout everything, I knew that the Lord was with me. It was so amazing to witness the power of the Gospel in people's lives! I saw natives put the old ways behind them, as they came to rest their faith in Jesus- even though this meant that they would sometimes be rejected by their entire family. Putting aside the old practices was a slow process, and sometimes it seemed as though I was making no progress at all. But by God's grace, many natives continued to come to Christ, despite all the opposition. God is so good!

Read Part One Here!

(Written by Lindsey. Information found in the book Mary Slessor: Forward into Calabar, by Janet & Geoff Benge.)

Labels: ,

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Spurgeon: Living to Christ

"For me to live is Christ."
Philippians 1:21

The believer did not always live to Christ. He began to do so when God the Holy Spirit convinced him of sin, and when by grace he was brought to see the dying Saviour making a propitiation for his guilt. From the moment of the new and celestial birth the man begins to live to Christ. Jesus is to believers the one pearl of great price, for whom we are willing to part with all that we have. He has so completely won our love, that it beats alone for him; to his glory we would live, and in defence of his gospel we would die; he is the pattern of our life, and the model after which we would sculpture our character. Paul's words mean more than most men think; they imply that the aim and end of his life was Christ-nay, his life itself was Jesus. In the words of an ancient saint, he did eat, and drink, and sleep eternal life. Jesus was his very breath, the soul of his soul, the heart of his heart, the life of his life. Can you say, as a professing Christian, that you live up to this idea? Can you honestly say that for you to live is Christ? Your business-are you doing it for Christ? Is it not done for self- aggrandizement and for family advantage? Do you ask, "Is that a mean reason?" For the Christian it is. He professes to live for Christ; how can he live for another object without committing a spiritual adultery? Many there are who carry out this principle in some measure; but who is there that dare say that he hath lived wholly for Christ as the apostle did? Yet, this alone is the true life of a Christian-its source, its sustenance, its fashion, its end, all gathered up in one word-Christ Jesus. Lord, accept me; I here present myself, praying to live only in thee and to thee. Let me be as the bullock which stands between the plough and the altar, to work or to be sacrificed; and let my motto be, "Ready for either."

--An excerpt from the devotional book, Morning And Evening, by C. H. Spurgeon.

Labels:

Monday, April 03, 2006

Waiting for the Wedding

One day, when I was a little girl, I was playing pretend "school" with two girls who lived down the street from me. The girl who played "teacher" handed each of her "students" a slip of paper which she called our "attention span." At one point during the game, much to the dismay of the little teacher, I lost my paper. I ran home, greatly distressed, and announced to my mother that I had "lost my attention span" and did not know where to find it.

While I look back and laugh at my childish ignorance, times have not changed much. I still struggle with losing my real attention span in a much more serious matter; I struggle with keeping my attention on God. Anything and everything can distract my focus from God if I give too much attention to it.
Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour. - Matthew 25:13
I have been reading Leslie Ludy's book, Authentic Beauty. First and foremost, I recommend this book to every young lady. I would, however, advise mothers to look over before letting their younger daughters read this because there are some topics that Leslie covers that are a bit descriptive.

As I read this book, the way Leslie describes what our relationship with Jesus struck me as odd. Leslie uses the term "Prince" for God. When I think of a prince, I think of Prince Charming of the fairytales. He rides in on a white horses and gallantly rescues the damsel in distress from an evil foe. I wondered How can this possibly be a picture of our relationship with God? The whole idea sounded rather irreverent, but now I see Leslie's point.

When a person is in love, they think constantly of their beloved (or so other people tell me.) They count the minutes until they can see their beloved again. Is our love for Christ to be very different from this? Is He not supposed to be on our minds, in our thoughts, and His law written upon our very hearts? 1 Corinthians 7:34 says that "An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord's affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit." The Lord has declared His intentions toward us in return in Hosea 2:16-20,
"In that day, declares the LORD, you will call me my husband; you will no longer call me my master. I will remove the names of the Baals from her lips; no longer will their names be invoked...I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the LORD."
Imagine that you are engaged to be married. You have met and fallen in love with the one who God has planned you for all along. You can hardly wait for the wedding day, but you have one problem. Your groom promised to bring the entire wedding party to your doorstep, but following old Jewish tradition, has refused to tell you the wedding date. It is a secret possessed only by him and his father. Every morning you wake up and question yourself, 'Is this the day of my marriage?' Each day you must prepare as though the wedding were just about to take place.

This may seem like a surreal situation, but it was reality for Jewish women during the time of Christ. After the initial betrothal, about twelve months would pass. Toward the end of the twelve months or soon after, the groom would arrive at the bride's home with the wedding party and the marriage ceremony could begin. The bride was never sure of the exact time that her husband-to-be was coming; she only knew that it was soon.

Yet this is also reality for us as followers of Christ. We are that bride. Our hearts should be completely turned toward our Savior that He is who we wake up thinking about and that our days are dedicated to the hope of His return.

How are you doing on this?

Labels: , , ,

Friday, March 31, 2006

Unashamed

Fellowship of the Unashamed
(The last words of an African martyr)

"I am part of the fellowship of the unashamed. The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The descision has been made. I am a disciple of Jesus Christ.

I won't look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still. My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, and my future is secure.

I'm finished and done with low living, sight-walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tame visions, mundane talking, cheap giving, and dwarfed goals. My pace is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven, my road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions few, my Guide reliable, my mission clear.

I won't give up, back up, let up, or shut up until I've preached up, prayed up, paid up, stored up, and stayed up for the cause of Christ.

I must go until He returns, give until I drop, preach until all know, and work until He comes. And when He comes, He will have no problem recognizing me. My colors will be clear. "For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ."
--Extreme Devotion, Voice of the Martyrs, page 150

"My Lord was pleased to die for my sins; why should I not be glad to give up my poor life for Him?"
--Girolamo Savanarola, martyred in Florence, Italy, 1498

Labels:

Thursday, March 02, 2006

IRL: Lady Jane

Many have heard of Foxe's Book of Martyrs, a book recording the stories of Christians who had been martyred from the time of Christ until the year 1583. It was written by John Foxe, a notable English Reformer. Yet many do not know a great deal about the young lady who inspired him to write the book.

Lady Jane Grey, Foxe's inspiration for the book, is also known as 'England's Nine Day Queen.' Her life story has been the subject of several books and even a movie, but in these mediums her faith in Christ is often greatly understated. According to John Foxe, a personal friend of Lady Jane, her faith was the reason that she was executed. When she gave him the idea for his book, she most likely did not realize that her death, too, would be chronicled within its pages.
Lady Jane Grey was the oldest daughter of Henry Grey and Lady Frances Brandon. Sadly, her relationship with her parents was painful and strained. In Daughters of Destiny, an excellent book compiled by Noelle Goforth, there is written an account of Lady Jane's treatment by her parents. It says,

"Her parents acted upon the maxim that to spare the rod is to spoil the child; and not withstanding her amiability and honorable diligence, subejcted her to a very severe discipline. She was rigorously punished for the slightest defect in her behavior or the most trivial failure in her studies. Her parents taught her to fear, rather than to love them... It is no wonder therefore, that she turned with ever-increasing delight toward her studies."
And how she studied! Under the guidance of her tutors, she became extremely well versed in theology as well as several foreign languages, including Latin, Greek, and Hebrew.
Centuries later, the famed poet, Alfred Lord Tennyson, would praise Lady Jane's knowledge and most of all--her character. He wrote this of her:
'Seventeen--and knew eight languages--in music peerless--her needle perfect, and her learning beyond the Churchmen; yet so meek, so modest... Seventeen--a rose of grace! Girl never breathed to rival such a rose; rose never blew that equaled such a bud?'
It has been said that it is the most beautiful flowers that grow in adverse conditions. Lady Jane is an example of this, for the time in which she lived was dark and tumultuous. Queen Mary (also known as 'Bloody Mary') was given the throne by Parliament after her brother, the king, died. However, her brother had named Lady Jane as his successor and as a result of several nobles who did not desire the throne to go to Mary, Lady Jane was temporarily given the title of queen. Her reign lasted for nine short days and was ended when Queen Mary, with an army of twenty thousand men, took the throne. Queen Mary seemed disposed to spare Lady Jane's life on the condition that she convert to Catholicism. This, Lady Jane refused to do, boldly citing Bible references contridicting Catholic doctrine. For this, Mary ordered her execution.
The following is an excerpt of the record of Jane's death from Foxe's Book of Martyrs. It includes a letter which she wrote to her sister, Katherine, before she was to be executed. The letter in which she bids 'farewell' to her sister, eloquently displays Lady Jane's love for God, firm faith and immense courage:

I have here sent you, good sister Katherine, a book, which although it be not outwardly trimmed with gold, yet inwardly it is more worth than precious stones. It is the book, dear sister, of the law of the Lord. It is his testament and last will, which he bequeathed unto us wretches; which shall lead you to the path of eternal joy: and, if you with a good mind read it, and with an earnest mind do purpose to follow it, it shall bring you to an immortal and everlasting life. It shall teach you to live, and learn you to die. It shall win you more than you should have gained by the possession of your woeful father's lands. For as, if God had prospered him, you should have inherited his lands; so, if you apply diligently to this book, seeking to direct your life after it, you shall be an inheritor of such riches, as neither the covetous shall withdraw from you, neither thief shall steal, neither yet the moths corrupt. Desire with David, good sister, to understand the law of the Lord God. Live still to die, that you by death may purchase eternal life. And trust not that the tenderness of your age shall lengthen your life; for as soon, if God call, goeth the young as the old; and labour always to learn to die. Defy the world, deny the devil, and despise the flesh, and delight yourself only in the Lord. Be penitent for your sins, and yet despair not: be strong in faith, and yet presume not; and desire, with St. Paul, to be dissolved and to be with Christ, with whom even in death there is life. Be like the good servant, and even at midnight be waking, lest when death cometh and stealeth upon you as a thief in the night, you be, with the evil servant, found sleeping; and lest, for lack of oil, you be found like the five foolish women; and like him that had not on the wedding garment, and then ye be cast out from the marriage. Rejoice in Christ, as I do. Follow the steps of your master Christ, and take up your cross; lay your sins on his back, and always embrace him. And as touching my death, rejoice as I do, good sister, that I shall be delivered of this corruption, and put on incorruption. For I am assured that I shall, for losing a mortal life, win an immortal life, the which I pray God grant you, and send you of his grace to live in his fear, and to die in the true Christian faith, from the which, in God's name, I exhort you that you never swerve, neither for hope of life, nor for fear of death. For if you will deny his truth for to lengthen your life, God will deny you, and yet shorten your days. And if you will cleave unto him, he will prolong your days, to your comfort and his glory: to the which glory God bring me now, and you hereafter, when it pleaseth him to call you. Fare you well, good sister, and put your only trust in God, who only must help you."

A prayer made by the lady Jane in the time of her trouble, and also a letter to her father, a part of that to Mr. Harding, are here omitted for want of space. It remaineth now, coming to the end of this virtuous lady, to infer the manner of her execution, with the words and behaviour of her at the time of her death. First, when she mounted the scaffold, she said to the people standing thereabout, "Good people, I am come hither to die, and by a law I am condemned to the same. The fact against the queen's highness was unlawful, and the consenting thereunto by me; but, touching the procurement and desire thereof by me, or on my behalf, I do wash my hands therof in innocency before God, and the face of you, good Christian people, this day. I pray you all, good Christian people, to bear me witness that I die a true Christian woman, and that I do look to be saved by no other mean, but only by the mercy of God, in the blood of his only Son Jesus Christ: and I confess, that when I did know the word of God, I neglected the same, and loved myself and the world: therefore this punishment is happily and worthily happened unto me for my sins; and yet I thank God, that of his goodness he hath thus given me a time and respite to repent. And now, good people, while I am alive, I pray you assist me with your prayers."

And then, kneeling down, she turned her to Fecknam, saying, "Shall I say this psalm?" and he said, "Yea." Then said she the psalm of "Miserere mei Deus," in English, in most devout manner throughout to the end. Then she stood up, and gave her maiden, Ellen, her gloves and handkerchief, and her book to Mr. Bruges. After this, she untied her gown, in which the executioner offered to help her; but she, desiring him to let her alone, turned towards her two gentlewomen, who helped her off therewith, and also with her frowes, paaft and neckerchief, giving to her a fair handkerchief to knit about her eyes. Then the executioner kneeled down and asked her forgiveness, which she willingly granted, and said, "I pray you dispatch me quickly." Then she kneeled, saying, "Will you strike before I lay me down?" The executioner said, "No, madam." Then tied she the handkerchief about her eyes, and feeling for the block, she said, "What shall I do? Where is it?" One of the standers-by guiding her thereunto, she laid her head down upon the block, and then stretched forth her body, and said, "Lord, into thy hands I commend my spirit;" and so finished her life, in the year of our Lord 1554, and 12th day of February, about the 17th year of her age.

--An excerpt from Foxe's Book of Martyrs. For the detailed account of Lady Jane's death and for other letters that she wrote before her execution, the full version can be found here.

Sources:
Tennyson, Alfred Lord. Queen Mary and Harold
Elliot, Elisabeth. "The Weight of Wings" Let Me Be a Woman: Notes On Womanhood for Valerie.
Goforth, Noelle. Daughters of Destiny
Foxe, John. Foxe's Book of Martyrs
Wikipedia's entries concerning Lady Jane Grey, Queen Mary, and John Foxe

Labels: ,

Contributors:

Kristin, Hannah & Lindsey

A blog by three young ladies who have a desire to serve the Lord and encourage other young women around them.

Are you a good person?  TheRebelution.com: Join The Modesty Survey