I Run to Christ

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I run to Christ when chased by fear
And find a refuge sure.
“Believe in me,” His voice I hear;
His words and wounds secure.
I run to Christ when torn by grief
And find abundant peace.
“I too had tears,” He gently speaks;
Thus joy and sorrow meet.

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I run to Christ when worn by life
And find my soul refreshed.
“Come unto Me,” He calls through strife;
Fatigue gives way to rest.
I run to Christ when vexed by hell
And find a mighty arm.
“The Devil flees,” the Scriptures tell;
He roars, but cannot harm.

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I run to Christ when stalked by sin
And find a sure escape.
“Deliver me,” I cry to Him;
Temptation yields to grace.
I run to Christ when plagued by shame
And find my one defense.
“I bore God’s wrath,” He pleads my case—
My Advocate and Friend.

~Chris Anderson

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He is…

The Lord gave me the privilege of attending a pastor’s wives retreat this past week.  The blessings are too many to count at the moment. My heart is overwhelmed.  After the final session, the video below was shown.  It takes 11 minutes, but it is worth every.single.one.  I hope you will take the time to view it…more than once.

Ponderings

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I don’t like to get involved in public political discussions.  That is not the intent of this post.  My heart has been grieved for sometime…

The Lord has given me the privilege to serve Him in a foreign land.  I have been attached to this country for some time and have learned to love the land and its people.  But my blood still flows red, white and blue.

I have stood on the island of Okinawa overlooking the Philippine Sea and recalled the tale of my uncle, who enlisted during his senior year of high school when he turned 18, standing on his PT boat in that very sea and watching a kamikaze destroy his mother ship with people he cared about on board.

I have others in my family line and friends that have served to protect the people and freedoms of the United States of America and other countries suffering from oppressive regimes.  Some lost their health and peace of mind and still others lost their very life.

When I have an occasion to stand and place my hand over my heart during the national anthem, I do so with pride and great emotion.  Gratitude swells my heart for the freedoms that we as Americans enjoy.

I see many young people that don’t know what we are supposed to do when the anthem is played.  It is my understanding that this isn’t being taught in some schools as it was when I was growing up.  Many don’t know or understand the great sacrifices that the flag and anthem represent.

I believe in free speech and I am thankful for that privilege even when someone else’s free speech opposes mine.  Lots of rhetoric has been flying around on all sides of the fence.  I am not singling out a person or persons when I say that it is my desire that those who have been able to follow their dreams and reach the heights they have would use these positions to encourage others to follow their dreams and help others not so fortunate.  They have a position of influence.  I pray that they will use it to unite rather than divide.

May God have mercy on America!

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”  ~2 Chronicles 7:14

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Country Roads

I love going for walks in small towns and down country roads.  I also love when I find a surprise or something old that speaks to me.  Such was the case this past week.  I am currently on a brief visit to the USA.  I have visited this small town many times, but was surprised to find this small cemetery.  It proved to be a family cemetery on family property.  It was tucked away behind a warehouse for the family business.  LakeCity2.JPGIf you look behind the bushes, you will see an old building.  I love this old building and often think I would love to do something with it.  I always feel nostalgic when driving by and it was nice to go by it walking at a slower pace and take it all in.  LakeCity1.JPGThese walks help me to feel grounded and think about my simple roots.  It’s overwhelming to think about the fact that the Lord chose this simple country-loving girl to serve Him in an Asian country on the other side of the world.  I see His grace in my life in amazing ways and I am grateful.

“For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:  But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:”

~I Corinthians 1:26-28

No time to memorize???

I needed this reminder today as I struggle finding the time to memorize.  Maybe you do too.  I thought a repost might do us both some good.  🙂

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So you think that you don’t have time to hide God’s Word in your heart?  I used to think this too.  It is true that I don’t have time to sit down and spend 15-45 min. straight to work on this important area of my life…but I do have little minutes and I know that you do too!  What do you do when you are showering, fixing your hair and makeup?  What about when you are in the kitchen?  What are you thinking about when you are vacuuming?  Sorting laundry?  Cleaning out the garage?

It used to be that when I was showering, I was working up a good stew over all I had to do that day.  Now I review passages that I have already memorized.   When I exit the shower, I am refreshed in body and soul.  When I am doing my hair and putting on makeup, I prop up my 3 x 5 cards and work on the verses that I am in the process of memorizing.  When I need to put up my feet for a few minutes, I work on a new verse.  I prop the cards on a window sill when I am in the kitchen and run a few verses through my mind.  I take my cards with me when I have an appointment that I will probably sit in a waiting room for.  This helps me to be patient when I would otherwise be not so patient

I cannot begin to describe the difference that these simple acts have had in my life.  It is true that when our minds are on God, we have peace.  I thought I would share one example of this from my past.  During one year of deputation, I worked full-time at a Christian school and my kids attended a different Christian school.  We had to leave the house at 7:00 a.m. in order for me to be able to drop the kids off at their school and be on time for my job.  This made for some stressful mornings, especially when my husband was out of town.  One morning was particularly stressful.  By the time we were all in the car, my daughter and I were in tears, son #1 was in a stew and son #2 was feeling frantic.  To say that I was fried was an understatement.  As I backed out of the driveway, my heart was crying out to the Lord for help.  The kids and I had been memorizing a large chunk of Proverbs 3.  I decided that we needed to use that morning commute to review those verses.  We spent the 15 minute drive reciting the verses together.  By the time we arrived at their school, calm was restored and everyone had a smile on their face.  God’s Word had brought peace to each of our hearts and we proceeded on with our day.

Only God and His Word can give us the stability and peace that we crave.  Won’t you join me in using the little minutes that we usually waste to hide God’s Word in your heart?

Adjusting to Life on the Mission Field

Several years ago, we sold our first house and bought another on the other side of town. We were so excited. Our family had grown and we needed a 3rd bedroom. The Lord had answered our prayer abundantly. A few weeks after the move, we were finally settled and I was so lonely. My kids did not change schools, we were attending the same church, I was hanging out with the same friends, but I felt so isolated. I missed my old neighborhood and familiar stores and roads. I told my friend that I did not understand this. She told me the grieving process was settling in. I didn’t quite understand this at the time, but I knew she was right.

When we moved to the field, I experienced this at a new level. Part of grieving is adjusting to a new way of life. It’s sort of like after a funeral. The hubbub of the funeral is over, the family meal is finished and everyone returns to their normal routine, except for the immediate family of the one who died. They have to learn to live day by day without the lost loved one. When you move to the field, the old way of life is over. If you add to that the unfamiliar, it is overwhelming. We have to turn to the God of all comforts (2 Cor. 1:3-4). He is waiting with open arms. “The Greek word for ‘comfort’ is related to the familiar word paraclete, ‘one who comes along side to help,’…’comfort’ often connotes softness and ease, but that is not its meaning here. Paul was saying that God came to him in the middle of his sufferings and troubles to strengthen him and give him courage and boldness”(MacArthur Study Bible).

When we arrived in Japan, I felt unprepared for the emotions that I would experience. I had no choice about the home we lived in. I was frustrated because I could not communicate. I felt lost driving on the “wrong” side of the road and not being able to read the signs. I didn’t know where to shop. I didn’t know what prices were good. I had no friends and I had to put up a good face for my children who were watching me. It was terribly overwhelming. I remembered what my friend said about grieving and I was helped. It is o.k. to grieve. It is not a sin to feel sadness. It’s even o.k. to cry. The attitude behind it is what can be sinful. Where do we turn when the emotions flare?

Many times, when I have shared my struggles, I was told that “we all have to go through it.” I did not find this comforting. If our comfort comes from the Lord, we have an obligation to share with others  what brought us comfort and gave us strength(2 Cor. 1:3-4). I was determined to find some answers in the Word. When another missionary lady came to me, I wanted to have an answer.

Memorizing God’s Word has had a life-changing affect on me. Find verses that help you and memorize them. If you do this, God will bring them to your mind when you need them most. For example, I had to have a mammogram here. It was not something I looked forward to. I will not go into the whole big, long story. They do things differently here and it was pretty traumatic. I couldn’t talk to the doctors, so my hubby was translating. That was a different stress of its own! As I was lying on the examining table fighting the tears, the Lord brought to my mind 2 Cor. 4:17-18, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” I had instant peace and the tears fled. If I had not memorized those verses, they would not have been there when I needed them most!

Several verses have helped me on a regular basis. I meditate on the fact that God is present with me (Ps. 46:1, Jer. 23:23-24, Ps. 139:7-10, Mat. 28:20). Others may forget me, but God does not (Is. 49:15). When I am overwhelmed, I must go to the Lord. Sometimes I am so overwhelmed, that I can’t remember to do this and then He leads me to Himself (Ps. 61:1, 2). Spurgeon said about these verses that “he who communes with God is always at home.”

Perhaps the most exciting truth to me about God is His faithfulness. He keeps His promises. I have seen this in my life before, but it has been magnified on the field. He strengthens me, helps me and holds me up (Is. 41:10). He guides me with His eye (Ps. 32:8). He goes before me. I do not need to be dismayed (Deut. 31:8).

When we moved to the city we are in now, there was no one living here to show us around. When we needed a doctor, God led us. When we needed an eye doctor, God led us. Both of these speak some English! I needed a friend. God went before me and hand-picked one and put her in my path. Then there was the time I needed something at the store and I couldn’t find it. I couldn’t ask the clerk and even if I could, I wouldn’t have understood her answer. After several minutes of searching and mounting frustration, I cried out to the Lord and He led me right to it. I could go on and on…

Another lesson I am still learning is to not compare myself and my situation with others. 2 Cor. 10:12 tells me that if I do this, I am not wise! There will be someone who raised support faster, learned the language faster or has a bigger and better house to live in. We prayed for a teacher for our children. God did not see fit to give us one; but yet, I saw Him supply this for another family. Another friend has been on the field less time than I have and she already has the language ability to lead a Bible study. My language study is slow and difficult. At this middle age that I am in, sometimes I feel too old to do it! Someone younger would do a better job! Some missionaries are able to plant a new church every term. In our country of service, it may take the rest of our lives to plant one. We are all different. Every country and language is different. My focus must be on God and His will for me today. I cannot compare myself to others. God has put me where He wants me to be and has given me what I need to accomplish His will (2 Cor. 9:8, Phil. 2:13).

I remember well when the “culture shock” started to set in. In the USA, we talk about “bad hair days.” Here, we have “bad culture days.” =) I was reading the fruits of the Spirit in my study Bible and the notes that went with them. I realized as I read, that these fruits manifested in my life will take care of any “culture shock.” Longsuffering is “the willingness to accept irritating or painful situations.” Gentleness is “a humble and gentle attitude that is patiently submissive in every offense, while having no desire for revenge or retribution” (MacArthur Study Bible). When I offend the culture unknowingly, when I am stared at because I am different, when things are done differently than I would do them, when I am mistreated or misunderstood, what fruit do I exhibit? Is it longsuffering and gentleness? The only way I can do this is to be in the Word, walk in the Spirit and have lots of grace from my Lord (2Cor. 12:9-10).

In closing, I want to share some practical things that have helped me.

  1. While on deputation, I begged the Lord to give me a verse that would keep me on the field when the going got tough. As we went through the Netcaster program, the Lord began to burn 2 Cor. 5:15 into my soul, “And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.” My life is not about me, it is about the One Who died for me.
  2. Several years ago, a friend counseled me to fill my mind with good Scriptural music. I play it in the car, on the subway and while in the house. This has helped me countless times when I couldn’t seem to control my thoughts. One time in particular was after a rough day of language school. I put in my earbuds on the subway and started to listen to the cd A Quiet Heart by Soundforth. One of my favorite songs, “I Could Not Do Without Thee” began. When I arrived at my destination, the frustration and turmoil were gone. God met my need through the music. Another favorite cd is Come and Sing by the Stouffer men. This brought me tremendous comfort during the days before and after our departure for Japan.
  3. Keep a journal of what God is teaching you and the blessings He gives. The entries don’t have to be long. A simple “I was so lonely today and God gave me Mt. 28:20” or “I wanted cheddar cheese and God led me to it and it was on sale!” is enough. When the emotions are threatening to drown you, get out the journal and read. It is hard to remember God’s help in the past when you are overwhelmed. Having something to read will help you to remember and encourage your heart.
  4. And last, but certainly not least, read missionary biographies. Others have gone before us and we can learn from them. The circumstances are different, but the struggles are the same. I have been helped greatly by the writings of Isobel Kuhn. She is very candid about her struggles. My two favorite books of hers are In the Arena and Green Leaf in Drought.

I hope that someone will be helped by these things. It has been worth the time for me to reflect on them. I think that we do others a disservice when we hide behind a mask and pretend that everything is o.k. We are human and we will struggle. We can help someone else through the struggle, if we are willing to humble ourselves and be transparent. God knows that we are dust (Ps. 103:14)! How marvelous that He still chooses to use us!

*repost from 2009