My Journey Along the Narrow Way

Archive for July, 2009

Praying for Persecution…

Yesterday, I spent a little over an hour watching a wonderful movie at church. It was a film called Malatya. The information describes it as follows:

malatyaApril 18, 2007, three men were murdered inside a Bible publishing office in Malatya, Turkey. The killers were five teenagers, each found with a note reading “We did this for our country. They were attacking our religion.” This film is the story of the martyrs, the Turkish Church, and the enduring faithfulness of God.

It was a wonderful although convicting film.

The three martyrs were tortured and then murdered by five boys whom they had welcomed into their church and witnessed the Lord Jesus Christ to. These were men with wives, fiancés, and children. They were loved and loved their families. However, they loved Jesus Christ more.

The Matalya Martyrs

The Malatya Martyrs

I was very convicted by something that was said by one of the people interviewed. They said that people are usually paralyzed by fear or paralyzed by comfort.

I was totally blown away by this statement. I had to pray this morning that I won’t be paralyzed by either but particularly by comfort. I have come to realize that this is the case with many, many of Christians in the United States. We have it so good – not being persecuted for our faith. So much so that I’ve heard that many of the churches in foreign countries pray that the US churches will be persecuted so that they will become more faithful and on-fire for Christ.

And this makes it hard. What do I pray for? I feel like I should pray for persecution of the US church so that we can be found faithful. But…wow…how do you pray for persecution? I finally prayed not to be paralyzed by either fear or comfort – no matter the cost.

This was something one of the wives of the martyrs talked about. How much is too much to give? Especially when our Lord and Savior gave even His life for us? How can we give anything less? And she is correct. We should give anything and everything to our Lord Jesus.  At any time.

I just pray that if everything is required of me that I will joyously and worshipfully give it. That I will be like Job and say, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb. And naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21)


Advertisements

A Little of This and A Little of That…

Bella got back from Kenya safely last Wednesday afternoon. She had a wonderful, exciting trip and didn’t really want to come back. She is ready to get her last two semesters of school over with so she can go into full-time missions.

This trip has really seemed to confirm that in her mind. She is already starting to collect information on various mission agencies so she can start applying to go after graduation.

Of course, I’m excited for her but the thought of her possibly leaving the country for extended periods of time is hard. Bella and I do a lot of stuff together and have fun together and I miss that when she is gone. However, I made Bella promise me before she went on this trip last year that if she truly felt God’s call to missions that she wouldn’t let my tears over missing her affect her decision to go.

A couple of funny things happened while Bella was on her trip this year:

• Bella has gotten really good at bartering for goods in the market. Right before Bella left on the trip, she bought a hot pink watch to use as an alarm since she wouldn’t be taking her cell phone with her. At one of the markets, she was able to barter her pink watch for something she wanted. The funny thing was that the person who ended up with the watch was a middle-aged Kenyan man who promptly put it on! (For you Morningview folks, Bella’s description was: Think of Jim Smith with a hot pink watch on.)

• Some of the Kenyans occasionally get to watch TV or movies when they go to the big cities. One of the men that Bella met last year addressed them with a fist towards them and said: “Pound it”. Anyone who has teens or knows teens knows that a lot of them greet each other this way. According to Bella, it was quite funny.

• One of the boys felt something on his shoulder while he was dining. He thought it was someone just touching him on the shoulder. He finally turned to look and realized it had actually been a monkey stealing his waffle off of his plate. By the time he figured it out, the monkey was across the room eating the waffle.

Bella will be updating her bog with journal entries and pictures very soon. I’ll let you know when to start looking.

I Once Was Lost…

I think that I have a very unique perspective than most people regarding salvation. A good many of the believers that I know were saved pretty early in life. They don’t really remember a time that they weren’t saved. It just always has been this way.

I, however, was not saved until I was 35 years old. I distinctly remember not being saved. I also remember a lot about the time that God was drawing me to Himself.

I always knew there was a God. I also knew that I would go to Hell once I died because I had enough knowledge to know that I wasn’t where I should be spiritually. It was a subject that I tried to avoid thinking about at any cost. I just hoped that when it was my time to die, I would have a few minutes to “get myself right.” Other than that I would push away any thoughts concerning God, Jesus, or my eternal destiny.

I remember when God started opening my heart to His advances. Here are some of my thoughts from that time that I wrote in a previous blog:


It seemed every time I got in the car to go to work in the morning “the Marshall Minute” was on. This is a little minute-long spot where the minister of St. James United Methodist Church would speak on some topic and relate it to Scripture. Every time it would come on I would change the channel. I absolutely hated it. Not really because of what was said in the spot but because I could feel God working on me. I would just get so mad.


Well, anyone who tells you that God doesn’t have a sense of humor is wrong. He absolutely does. Because not only did I hear this everyday, but it started that another station picked it up and when I would change the channel, it would be on that one too! It really infuriated me. And then people at work started talking to me about God and witnessing to me. Every book I would read would have something about religion or God in it somewhere – even though they were secular books.

.
During this time in my life I was really angry at God. I had a lot of hatred towards God because I felt He had ignored my prayers and let my mother die of cancer when I was 19 years old. This hatred of God almost became like one of my children. I nurtured it and grew it up really big. I had it so long at this point that it was part of who I was and I couldn’t imagine how to begin to let it go.

So, as God started working on me, I started working against Him. A lot of people believe that the decision to believe is all theirs. They believe they can choose God at any time. They believe that they have the will and the strength to do that. I beg to differ on this point. Because I can tell them, you don’t. And not only that, you don’t want to either. The Bible says, “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son.” — Romans 5:10

You see, I remember being God’s enemy. Oh, I didn’t think I was God’s enemy and I wouldn’t have put it that way at the time, but I was basically shaking my fist at Him. All I wanted was to be left alone. I wanted God to quit bothering me, quit drawing me to Him, and quit making me feel so guilty.

The first thing that happened was I begin to see my guilt. The Holy Spirit was showing me just what a guilty, worm of a sinner I actually was. He had to break me down to get me to even begin to see the light. Everywhere I turned, there He was.

“Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall[a] on me,”
Even the night shall be light about me;
Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You,
But the night shines as the day;
The darkness and the light are both alike to You. ~ Psalm 139:7-12

There was nowhere I could go to escape from God. And the more I tried to escape from God, and couldn’t, the more I hated Him.

I thank God He did not give me what I wanted. He could have just left me alone. Because He does that sometimes. “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting;” Romans 1:28 “But my people would not listen to me; Israel would not submit to me. So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devices.” Psalm 81:11-12

He could have done that to me and that would have been right and just. But He didn’t! In His mercy and grace and lovingkindness, He didn’t leave me in the dark, deadness of my soul.

So when I pushed, He pushed back even harder. And finally, I saw His light and believed. And the light shined and the darkness was gone. “For it is you who light my lamp; the LORD my God lightens my darkness.” Psalm 18:28

.
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
T’was Grace that taught my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed.
John Newton (1725-1807)

Happily Ever After…

Every little girl dreams about the happy ending. They dream about the white knight coming and rescuing them from the cruel, cold, dark dungeon and living happily ever after. I think little boys dream about slaying the dragon and rescuing that little girl too.

I sometimes think this myth that we all dream abothe knightut is there for a reason. I think deep in our souls somewhere there is a knowledge that we are locked in the dungeon and we need rescuing. We know that our situation is hopeless. We know that we are helpless to get out of the chains binding us on our own. And we know that the dragon isn’t just guarding the entrance to the castle where we are kept…we know that he is coming to get us in the end.

I think that is why we dream of the Knight. And it’s no coincidence that he is bathed in light and in shiny, radiant armor. It’s because we know that it will take this light to banish the darkness in which we are imprisoned.

But there’s good news: suddenly the Knight comes! He comes to rescue us from the night of our soul. He slays the dragon. He breaks away our chains and pulls us into the light. And then we live happily ever after! Is this all just a fantasy or is it reality?

Unfortunately, for many, many people in the world this is just a fantasy that will never come true. The sinking suspicion they have had all their lives – that the dragon will come for them in the end is true. There will be no happily ever after. It is such a tragedy, mainly because it is something that doesn’t have to be.

dungeonYou see, all the Knight in shining armor asks is to be called upon to come rescue them out of darkness and chains. Yet so many don’t and won’t. They sit in the dungeon in the dark and shake their fist at the Knight – cursing Him, hating Him, raging against Him.

However, there are some…a very few….but still some who realize where they are. Maybe it is because they see just a little bit of light bouncing off the Knight’s shining armor as He is outside the dungeon. And seeing that light, just a bit, makes them see the situation they are really in. They see the dark, dank dungeon. They see the dirt and muck they are laying in. They see the chains wrapped around their arms and their legs. And they can’t stand it. They want out and so they call for the Knight. And He comes!!!

st_george_slaying He slays the dragon forever. He breaks the chains that bind them and pulls them out of the darkness and into His marvelous light! He is their Savior! And they live with the Knight, Happily Ever After!

Here is a verse from one of my favorite hymns. I think it says it well:

Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
thine eye diffused a quickening ray;
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
my chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed thee.
Amazing love! How can it be
that thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

Mom, Momma, Mommy…

I have been blessed with four Mothers in my life. Most people get one but any of you who know me well know that I am “special” and seem to always be different from everyone else. So, I get four of them. The good thing of it is they have all four meant different things to me and played different roles in my life. This is a little late for Mother’s Day but here it goes, in the order that I met them:

Ruth

Ruth

1. Ruth ~ Ruth was my very first mother. She was the one who gave me life. I’ve known Ruth pretty much since I was conceived. Being as I was put up for adoption right after birth, I didn’t know Ruth again until I was an adult…around 30 years old. That was the point in my life that I decided to find my birth mother and get to know her again. I have really enjoyed getting to know her and am so grateful that she decided to have me and that she decided to let me go. It was the most sacrificial thing anyone has done for me.  I also get my LOVE for books from Ruth and she and I have fun discussing them.

My family in 1965

My family in 1965

2. Fran ~ Fran was my second mother. She was the one who adopted me. I knew my mom from the time I was adopted at about two months old until she died when I was nineteen. It was way too short of a time. She was the one who slept in my bed with me when I got my wisdom teeth out and got dry socket. She was the one who woke up every few hours to give me pain medicine or hold my hair back when I got sick. She changed my diapers and explained to me all about that “time of the month” stuff. We laughed together a lot and cried some too. She is also the one mother of the four that I never got to know as an adult and I regret that tremendously. She is also the one that I still miss every day of my life. She definitely had the kind and gentle spirit that I keep trying to locate within me.

Mike and Buddy-2007

Mike and Buddy-2007

3. Margaret “Mike” ~ Mike is my third mother. She is also my mother-in-law. I have known Mike since I was 15 years old. We had a rough time right after Bud and I got married, but we got along much better once the grandchildren came. Mike is hilarious and at 78 can still tell dirty jokes that make me blush. We laugh a lot when we are together. Mike and I have had some fun adventures together. Especially when she had quintuple bypass in 2007…but I won’t divulge those stories at this time. Mike has three daughters already but she has always counted me as her fourth daughter. No matter what, I’m one of hers.

Louava with my Dad and Grandmother

Louava with my Dad and Grandmother

4. Louava ~ Louava is my fourth mother. She is also my step-mother, although I don’t really like that term. Step-mothers get a really bad rap most of the time but mine is fantastic. My dad and Louava have been married for 24 years (they got married a year after my mom died). Louava is one of the sweetest, kindest people I have ever met. We get along great and she has always been wonderful to me. My dad was just pining away after my mom died and when he and Louava started dating, he just seemed to start living again. Louava is one of those rare people that treats everyone in her family alike. Her biological children and her step-children are the same, as are all her grandchildren. She is also one of those rare people I know that no matter how long between seeing each other or talking to each other, it’s like we just talked the day before. I am truly blessed to know her.