Missionary Stories for Kids: Jennie Atkinson Goes to China

Missionary Stories for Kids are written for preschoolers or young readers and are suitable for family devotions, Bible clubs, or Sunday School.

Jennie Atkinson was a shy girl

Jennie Atkinson was a shy, timid girl who lived a long time ago. When she was very little her mama died and her new stepmother OldDesignShop_OscarPletschShynessloved her and took care of her. But one day her stepmother also died and soon Jennie’s father was going to marry again.  For some reason that Jennie did not understand, her father and his new wife decided to send eight-year-old Jennie away to be adopted by some distant cousins. “What is wrong with me that my own father does not want to keep me?” Jennie asked herself. 

The child was sent away alone on a big train. Before she left her father placed a nametag on her coat so the conductor would know her name and the train stop where she was going. Jennie got on the big train and left everyone and everything that was familiar to her.

The train conductor helped her get off at the right station. Jennie squinted as she stepped off the dark train into the bright sun. She looked around and waited expectantly but no one was there to meet a little girl.  Now she felt even more alone and insecure.  She waited as the depot agent contacted her cousin who finally came to pick her up after a long wait.

Would anyone ever really want little Jennie?

Jennie’s cousin and his wife were kind to her but they were very surprised that this little girl had been sent to them.  There must have been some mistake.  They were willing to adopt one of Jennie’s brothers, but they had not wanted a girl.  After talking it over they decided to keep her, but Jennie knew they were disappointed.  Would anyone ever really want little Jennie?

A few years passed when one day Jennie read in the newspaper that her very own father was going to be in a nearby town as a special speaker.  Oh how excited she was that she could see her father again!

After the lecture she went up front with other well-wishers to speak to her father. He reached out to shake her hand and casually asked, “Whose little girl are you?”  Jennie’s own father did not even know who she was.  How lonely and abandoned she felt!

God will never leave us or forsake us

But God was working in Jennie’s life and she opened her heart to the Great Heavenly Father Who would never leave her or forsake her.  She confessed her sins and asked Christ to save her.  Soon she began to understand that God was leading her to be a missionary to China.

After graduating from college Jennie was qualified to be a teacher.  She began teaching at a small school near her cousin’s home and was in charge of a Sunday School class of children.  She knew God had spoken to her about serving Him as a missionary in China but in spite of her love of teaching, she was timid and afraid at the thought of going to such a distant country as China.

Finally some leaders in her church asked for several highly-trained unmarried women to volunteer to work as missionaries in China.  God again whispered to Jennie that He wanted her to serve Him in China, and Jennie said “Yes” to God’s call.

The first time she saw a Chinese person was when she traveled to the west coast to meet the boat traveling to China.  Jennie was so shy and fearful she could not even speak to the man!  Soon she was aboard the ship that was taking her to China, but Jennie still struggled with timidity, insecurity, and fear.  How could she help the Chinese learn about Jesus if she was this shy?

Going to China

The ship docked in Shanghai where missionaries and Chinese Christians greeted the ladies with such kindness and warmth that Jennie no longer felt afraid.  She looked around at the thousands of people crowding the docks and streets of Shanghai.  Her heart was overflowing with compassion as she saw the Chinese people surrounding her. These dear Chinese needed Christ and God would help her tell them.

Chinese people find western names strange and hard to pronounce.  The Chinese place the surname first.  Where we would say Jane Doe, they would say *Doe Jane.  Jennie was given the name Kyung, which means gold.  Her first name became Tsung-sung, meaning Arouse-Music.  So Jennie Atkinson was now named Miss Kyung Tsung-sung or Miss Gold Arouse-Music!

Virginia Atkinson (Jennie)The Chinese language is intricate and complicated but it needed to be learned in in order to communicate with the Chinese people around her.   God gave Jennie the idea to learn Chinese like she had learned music – using rhythm and tones.  Because of this she became conversant in the Chinese language much more quickly than her fellow missionaries.

As her language skills improved Jennie was able to visit the different schools she was in charge of and teach the children hymns.  Her students loved her and soon she was invited to visit their homes where she could practice speaking Chinese with her students and their families.

Loved by her Chinese family

Over time many students came to know the Lord and became Bible-teaching women, pastors, school teachers and church leaders.  God used Jennie to help establish a church, to build many schools and to arrange training for many pastors and teachers.

Jennie’s students loved her and her shy ways and accepted both her and her teaching.  They could tell that she loved them and wanted to help them.  When Jennie returned to America for furlough her Chinese friends and family wept and begged her to ‘come back home’ soon.  She finally realized that God provided a home for her among the Chinese people she was called to serve.

Bible verse

Verse:  Hebrews 13:5 I will never leave you nor forsake you (based on Deuteronomy 31:6)

Ten questions for young readers:

  1. What does the word timid mean?
  2. What happened to young Jennie that made her feel unwanted?
  3. Who will never leave or forsake us?
  4. What job did Jennie train for?
  5. Where did God want Jennie to go as a missionary?
  6. Who would help Jennie tell the Chinese people about Jesus?
  7. What language was Jennie able to learn quickly?
  8. Where did God finally provide a home for Jennie?
  9. Can God use shy people to be missionaries?
  10. Where was Jennie’s true home and family?

Bibliography:  White, Mary Culler.  Just Jennie:  The Life Story of Virginia M. Atkinson.  Atlanta:  Tupper and Love, 1955.

*Suggestion:  When reading this to your children substitute the child’s name for Jane Doe.

Clip art from http://olddesignshop.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/OldDesignShop_OscarPletschShyness.jpg

When Critical Illness Hits Home, part 1

Children are a blessingIMG_0055

We were delighted with our firstborn, a son.  His red hair reflected the Scottish portion of our heritage and his cheerful demeanor was engaging.  Though he did not walk until after his first birthday, he began speaking when he was nine months old, and parroted word after word that we modeled for him.

Dedicated to God

We dedicated each of our children to the Lord when they were infants.  This child, on loan from God, was entrusted to our care.  We knew we needed wisdom beyond our years to rear him properly, and so we asked God for His help.  We also stood with open hands before the Lord, acknowledging that we understood that this child, like everything else that we claimed as ‘ours,’ ultimately belonged to God and that He could do with our son as He pleased.

Getting sick

Our son was thirteen months old on American Thanksgiving.  That year we spent a joyful time of feasting and giving thanks with family and friends.  On Friday my husband and I loaded David into a stroller and enjoyed a leisurely walk through the mall.  The next day David was unusually fussy and was running a slight fever.  Had he picked up a bug when we were out?  Was he getting a cold?  Teething?

Missing church

Sunday dawned.  Our son’s fever had climbed slightly and he was unusually placid.  My husband was in seminary, preparing for the ministry.  His philosophy was that if we expected others to attend church faithfully, we should lead by example.  After some discussion we decided I should stay home with the baby.  We thought we were bending our self-imposed rule that we had to be at death’s door to miss church.  Little did we know then that that was exactly where we would be in a few hours.

My mother-in-law, a nurse, shared the house with us at that time.  We took turns tiptoeing in to David’s room and checking on him.  After a couple of hours he opened his eyes, but didn’t move or cry. He had a vacant look, and was extremely listless.  The slight fever had suddenly skyrocketed to 105 and his skin held a definite grey pallor.

Call the doctor

We called our doctor and described the symptoms.  “Come immediately to my office.  I will meet you there.”  All of us knew these were symptoms of meningitis, and several children in our vicinity had been diagnosed with it lately.

This looks very, very serious

The office was only minutes away and the doctor and his nurse met us there where they immediately did a spinal tap.  The spinal fluid was very cloudy.  He told us what we feared, “This looks like meningitis and it’s very, very serious.”  “Where’s your husband?” asked the doctor urgently.”  “At a required meeting at the seminary.” “I’ll track him down.  Waiting for an ambulance or for my husband to join us would have taken too long.  Every minute was critical.

Don’t break down now

“Can you handle driving to the hospital?”  We gulped back tears and nodded. We couldn’t break down now.  David’s life may depend on it.  The doctor gave my mother-in-law and me an evaluating look.  Mom was obviously shaken.  “You,” he pointed to my mother-in-law, “hold the baby” and “you,” he said to me, “drive.”  He sent along the spinal tap and called the hospital to give orders and prepare for our arrival.

Spinal meningitis

We arrived at hospital emergency where the staff whisked David and his spinal tap test away.  My husband arrived and soon after so did our doctor.  Test results quickly came back positive for bacterial meningitis.

It doesn’t look good

Massive doses of IV antibiotics were administered.  Our doctor gently drew us aside and told us, “David’s symptoms are quite advanced.  It doesn’t look good,” then asked my husband to lead us in prayer.

Did we really mean it?

Suddenly we were faced with the reality of what dedicating our child to God might actually cost us.  At the time we sincerely meant it when we told God He could do whatever He wanted with this child.  Was He requiring David’s life for some reason we did not see or understand?  Did we really mean it now when our son’s life was in the balance?

Heartaches – “God Can Create Peace in Trouble”

No advantage in life can shield us from heartaches7-15-10 (70)

Heartaches. They afflict us in every area of life: marriage, pregnancy, child rearing, family relationships, health, jobs, finances, our dealings with other Christians, our interaction with the unsaved. No one is exempt from them: the young or the old, the weak or the strong, male or female, educated or unschooled, handicapped or healthy, PhD or illiterate, debutante or derelict, virtuoso or unskilled. No advantage in life can shield us from heartaches.

There is help in God’s Word

Who among us has not felt stabs of anguish or the pangs of sorrow over certain, maybe even many, unexpected or uncontrollable events in our lives? We women are emotional creatures. God has made us that way and formed us to accomplish His unique will in our lives with full knowledge of that emotional nature. He does not give us this nature, then allow events to stir up and touch that nature, without also providing us a remedy from these troubles that so weigh us down. There is help, solace, and comfort in the Word of God.

Hannah and her heartaches

In 1 Samuel 1 we get a glimpse of Hannah and her heartaches. Hannah was one of two wives of Elkanah and grieved over her childlessness. Elkanah’s other wife, Peninnah, bore sons and daughters for him, but his love was directed toward Hannah. Can you imagine the tension in that home where it was known that the husband loved one wife more than the other? Day after day Hannah was taunted and mocked for her barrenness so that she was in anguish of soul.

Overwhelmed by anguish

Truly Hannah lived under great stress. As she focused on her troubles, she was dismayed and despondent. To make matters worse, Elkanah did not seem to understand the depth of her anguish. We too, find ourselves in situations where we are overwhelmed by circumstances we cannot change. Often those we turn to for comfort do not seem to understand our distress.

Hannah changed her focus

Somewhere in her grief Hannah changed her focus. She was able in the full emotion of her heart to lay her burden before the Lord in prayer. Perhaps she realized that there is no human comfort to help in the midst of certain griefs. Maybe she understood that no earthly intervention would alter her circumstances.

Pouring out our hearts before God

We do know that she poured out her heart before the Lord, laying her heart bare in all of its distress and sorrow. “And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the Lord, and wept sore.” (v. 10) When Eli observed her lips moving without sound and rebuked her for being drunk, she reiterated that she was bringing her distress before the Lord. “I am a woman of sorrowful spirit: I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my soul before the Lord.” (v.15) “for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief have I spoken hitherto.” (v. 16)

In the Lord there is relief

In earnestly entreating the Lord, Hannah had come to the point where she understood that with the Lord there is real relief from the deepest of troubles. We need to honestly and without reserve, entreat the Great Physician to provide remedy for our every heartache.

Peace and joy

Hannah came away from her time of prayer with peace and joy in her heart. “So the woman went her way, and did eat, and her countenance was no more sad.” (v.18) God spoke through Eli to assure her that her prayer would be answered.

Casting all your care on God

God gives us assurance through the Holy Spirit that He will hold our burden for us. “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” (I Peter 5:7) Where better to leave our heartache than with the “One that inhabiteth eternity”? (Isaiah 57:15) God knows all things. He is able to sort out even the most impossible mess in our lives, change the most stubborn of hearts, soothe the distresses that cause us to turn our focus from Him to ourselves.

Fix your focus on God

In coming to a place of peace in the midst of her circumstances, Hannah gives us one of the most wonderful poems of praise recorded in the Old Testament. “My heart rejoiceth in the Lord…, I rejoice in thy salvation. There is none holy as the LORD: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God.” (I Samuel 2:1-2) Hannah’s focus has become fixed on the Lord and His mighty attributes. No longer is her focus on her self or her circumstances, but on the Lord and His greatness. Her focus now rests on the One who can change any circumstance, relieve any heartache.

“The world can create trouble in peace, but God can create peace in trouble.”

Unbeckoned heartaches will descend on us at many points in life. Our natural man responds by focusing on the trouble causing the heartache. Thomas Watson, seventeenth century preacher, aptly observed, “If God be our God, He will give peace in trouble. When there is a storm without, He will make peace within. The world can create trouble in peace, but God can create peace in trouble.” Only when we remove our focus from ourselves and our circumstances, as Hannah learned to do, will we be able to overcome the heartaches that are an inevitable part of the life of every Christian woman.

Book Review: Safe in the Arms of God

In my post on miscarriage I cited the book Safe in the Arms of God by John MacArthur.  Following is a review of the book.Coffin in the woods at mom's funeral - Copy

The grief of losing a child

We need God’s wisdom and compassion when we are called upon to counsel and comfort someone who loses a loved one.  What do we say when that loved one is a little child?  John MacArthur’s book Safe in the Arms of God:  Truth from Heaven about the Death of a Child (Nashville:  Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2003) offers a cogent, compelling presentation that God welcomes these little lives into His presence.

“Every life conceived is a person”

MacArthur begins by reminding the reader that “every life conceived is a person.”  (p. 13) He uses Psalm 139 as a proof text to show that God expresses His thoughts about newly conceived life, and leaves no question that He is intimately concerned with that life from the very beginning.  God actively participates in (Psalm 22) and has unlimited knowledge of each life.  As well, God shows personal oversight in the creation of each person and in the unfolding of each life through time.

God’s tenderness toward children

The author gives many scriptural examples of how tenderly God views children.  Particularly poignant was His concern for the children when urging the inhabitants of Nineveh to repent in Jonah 4.  He further cites Jesus’ regard for children, among other examples of God’s tenderness toward the young.

God saves those unable to understand

MacArthur clearly points out that all children are conceived and born as sinners and that the salvation of every person is a matter of God’s grace, not man’s works. He also shows that we are saved by the sacrificial work of Jesus Christ on the cross, the supreme manifestation of God’s grace. He cites Scripture to show that we are saved by grace, but condemned by works.  Infants have yet to perform works so through His grace, He saves them.  With this MacArthur discusses the age of accountability, not as a chronological age but a condition, citing the example of the inability of some mentally handicapped adults to understand or respond to Scripture.

Will I see my child in heaven?

Probably the most heart rending question we may face from a parent who has lost a child is, “Will I see my child in Heaven?”  MacArthur reminds us of David’s response to the death of two of his children in 2 Samuel.  When the child conceived in sin with Bathsheba died chapters 11-12), David ceased his mourning, worshipped God, and rejoiced that he would again see this child one day (in heaven.)  In contrast, when his adult son, the rebellious Absalom died (chapter 18), David wept and mourned for this child he would never see again.

Topics in the book

Chapters in the book include:

  • Where Is My Child?
  • What Can We Say with Certainty to Those with Empty Arms?
  • How Does God Regard Children?
  • What If My Child Is Not Among the Elect?
  • Will I See My Child Again?
  • What Is My Child’s Life Like in Heaven?
  • Why Did My Child Have to Die?
  • How Shall We Minister to Those Who Are Grieving?
  • Let Me Pray with You.

We may not agree with everything, but….

MacArthur writes from a reformed theology position which you may or may not agree with.  Regardless, this small book offers encouragement and hope to parents who have lost a child and is worth reading and recommending to friends and family dealing with the death of a child.

 

Joseph: From Hatred to Honor – Believing in God’s Goodness Despite Circumstances

20131030_132139What did I do to deserve this?

If I told you about a poor fellow who was hated by his siblings, taken captive and forced to work as a slave, falsely accused and thrown into prison, helped restore another prisoner but was forgotten by the man he helped, you might ask what he did to deserve such treatment.

When disaster, tragedy or illness strikes in our own lives we are often quick to ask, “Why me?” or “What did I do to deserve this?” or “This isn’t fair!”

Quite a few of our church family have had unusual hardships lately.  We are all prone to ask, “Why?” or “Why me?” when we are faced with very hard circumstances.

God is magnified and self diminished

Yet the truth for believers is God has a purpose in all that goes on in our lives. Every single thing. And the fact is we may never know why.  God ordains everything for our good and His glory.  This process of sanctification, or changing to become more like Christ, may bring difficulties to the end that God is magnified in our lives and self is diminished.

The next few posts will deal with biblical characters who endured what we consider to be unfair treatment.  We have the advantage of seeing the results in their lives from going through the painful things they encountered.  My prayer is that as we might see the end as well as the beginning and that we would choose to trust God and rest in Him even in the middle of our most difficult experiences.

The story of Joseph is found in Genesis 39 – 50.  I encourage you to read those few chapters.  Things went from bad to worse to, “Can things get any worse than this?”  But we can lose sight of the fact that God was at work in Joseph’s life the entire time.

Joseph got on his brother’s nerves

Joseph was a well-loved son of Jacob, but Joseph got on his older brothers’ nerves.  He told his father the wrong things they were doing when they were all away from home.  God brought dreams to Joseph showing that he would rule over his brothers one day and Joseph shared all the details with his brothers. Joseph’s older brothers soon began to hate the very sight of him.

Sold into slavery

Jacob sent Joseph to check up on the brothers.  They saw him and his brightly-colored coat coming toward their camp.  Their hatred boiled up and they plotted to kill Joseph, throwing him into a pit while they worked out the details. When a caravan of traders passed by they changed their minds and sold him into slavery.

Falsely accused

Joseph worked as a slave in the home of a prominent Egyptian named Potiphar.  God blessed Potiphar’s business because of Joseph.  But Potiphar’s wife tried repeatedly to seduce Joseph to be immoral with her.  As she grabbed at him, Joseph pulled away, but his coat remained in her hands.  She was angry that this lowly servant would refuse her so used the coat to make false accusations against Joseph to her husband.

Forgotten, then finally remembered

So Joseph was thrown into prison, but God gave him favor in the sight of the warden.  Two fellow prisoners, servants in Pharaoh’s household, had dreams that God allowed Joseph to interpret.  When Pharaoh’s cupbearer was restored to his position he forgot all about the help that Joseph gave him until two years later when Pharaoh dreamed troubling dreams.  Joseph was called for and God allowed him to correctly interpret the dream.

Elevated

Suddenly Joseph was elevated to second in the land and was the most powerful person in Egypt behind Pharaoh.  God gave him Countryside 9-10-11 (6)wisdom to save up during the years of plenty and portion out food to the Egyptians during the years of drought.

Recognizing his brothers

Jacob heard there was grain for sale in Egypt and sent his sons to buy some.  Joseph recognized his brothers right away, but they had no idea this powerful leader was their long-lost younger brother.  Joseph put them through several tests over a period of time to see what kind of men they were.

Revealed

Joseph finally revealed himself to his brothers as Joseph and the brothers were afraid.  This was the brother they had hated and sold into slavery.  Now he is a very powerful person and his dreams had been accurate.  This powerful man could make them pay for their hatred and evil deeds.

God meant it for good

But Joseph by now understood the bigger picture.  In Genesis 50:20 he tells his brothers “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.”  The hatred of his brothers had begun a chain of events to put Joseph in a place of honor.

Do we believe in God’s goodness?

We need to remember this when our family or employers or friends bitterly oppose us and it seems so unfair to us.  We usually cannot immediately understand God’s greater purpose in difficult events. Sometimes we never understand God’s purpose.  We need to remember Romans 8:28-29.  All things do work together for good for believers, even when we can’t see how that is true.  It’s God’s promise.  Do we believe Him?

The Silent Suffering of Miscarriage

There was an eerie stillness in the exam room as the technician and doctor firmly moved the ultrasound transducer against my distended abdomen.  The duo pressed and prodded before exchanging a knowing look.  The doctor gently told me to get dressed Paton in Dumfries and Torthorwald (40) and that they would get my husband who was in the waiting room.

This is no longer a viable pregnancy

 “I’m so sorry but we can’t find the baby’s heartbeat. This is no longer a viable pregnancy.”  Surely this doctor was mistaken.  Wasn’t this the little boy we had prayed and hoped for?

But deep in my soul I knew.  I was 20 weeks into my pregnancy but something seemed wrong; I had not felt the little fluttering movements of the baby for several days now.

Like countless other women before and after me, I had suffered a miscarriage.

I was sent home for a few days to see if my body would expel the baby on its own, but it didn’t.  I was not given the choice of delivering the baby but was scheduled for a D & C.  God must have blocked my understanding of what that involved for it wasn’t until years later, when the sorrow was less acute, that I understood that I could have delivered the baby and maybe even held him.

Silent suffering of miscarriage

A number of friends and family have recently miscarried.  In my child-bearing years miscarriage was a topic people rarely spoke about.  A woman’s suffering was silent and personal and few dared to cross those barriers to speak with her about her loss.

But I was blessed.  My miscarriage occurred when another family was spending a few days with us.  The wife had suffered both miscarriage and an ectopic pregnancy.  She shared her grief and experiences and allowed me to share mine.  She encouraged me with kindness, sympathy, prayer and with scriptures that had helped her.

A dear friend and sister in Christ lost a daughter halfway through the pregnancy and twins later the same year.  I asked her if she would share with me things that were both helpful and not so helpful as people learned of her sorrow.  I have combined her suggestions with my own to hopefully give a few ways of ministering to a woman who has suffered a miscarriage.

Helpful things

  • Both my friend and I went to hospital alone; she delivered her daughter and I had a D & C.  I would have liked to have someone with me during that time.  I felt very alone and was still coming to grips with my loss.
  • Ask if your friend she wants company.  Some will need a time of quiet reflection to grow accustomed to no longer being pregnant while others want someone there right away so they do not isolate themselves and mentally plunge into ‘a dark place.’
  • Remember we are to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.
  • Sometimes the best thing you can do is hold your friend’s hand while she cries.
  • Reading the Psalms and crying as I read was therapeutic for me.  Gentle hymns playing quietly in the background helped keep my mind fixed on eternal things.
  • The book Safe in the Arms of God by John MacArthur is a good resource for those who lose a child through miscarriage or untimely death.  In 1 Samuel 12 King David says that he will go to his child who died.  We understand that to mean that young children go to heaven when they die and we will meet them there someday.
  • Offer to take any older children overnight so the couple can spend some time grieving together.
  • Give your friend a journal so she can record her thoughts, prayers, poems, and comforting Scriptures and hymns as she progresses through the grieving process.
  • Just because someone is a strong Christian doesn’t mean there is no pain.  We sorrow, but not as those who have no hope.
  • Remember that it takes time for the woman to return to her pre-pregnancy hormones.  Tears, sadness (but not suicidal thoughts,) extra sensitivity and soreness may be expected as the hormones regulate.  Call your doctor and ask for help if there is concern about depression, prolonged discharge, or other signs that the body is not returning to normalcy or if you have any other medical concerns.
  • Send flowers, a card, an e-card, or a note expressing your genuine sorrow for the loss.
  • Prepare a meal and ask if you can bring it by today.   Or tell them you are thinking of them and you will be stopping by at a convenient time for them with their favorite coffee etc. Arrange for some friends to clean house or run errands if your friend is supposed to be on rest for a while.  When you stop by to leave something ask if they want company then.
  • Be careful when you remind your friend of Scriptural promises.  While it is true that all things do work together for good to them that love God, your use of this or similar scriptures can come across as trite or flippant if you are not careful.

Not-so-helpful things

  • Don’t assume that the wife is the only one who feels the pain of miscarriage. Husbands grieve over miscarriage too.  They may have had hopes or dreams for the little one or begun to plan for all that’s involved in adding another member to the family.  Men may or may not want to share how the miscarriage has impacted them, but it’s good to give them an opportunity to talk out it.
  • Don’t ignore the fact that the family has suffered loss.  Platitudes such as, “You’ll get over this.” “Cheer up! You’re young and can have more.” “You already have (blank) children so it doesn’t really matter.” “You should be over this by now.”  “Well that’s not so bad.  My sister (friend, mother, etc.) had something far worse happen to her!” “Whose fault was it, yours or your husband’s?” are NOT helpful and show an insensitive spirit.
  • Don’t say, “Let me know if there is anything I can do.”  Rarely does the person feel the liberty to take you upon such a vague offer.
  • Be sensitive to your friend’s need for rest.  Don’t stay for an hour if she’s only up to a 10 minute visit.
  • Let the bereaved talk about the baby.  Use the baby’s name if the family had picked a name.  Don’t act as if the baby never existed.
  • Don’t take it personally if you learn the sad news from someone other than your friend.  This is not a popularity contest to see who gets the news first.  This is no time for hurt feelings, idle curiosity, or insensitive comments.

Gaping wounds and scars

Losing a child is like receiving a gaping wound.  At first the wound is swollen, red and tender.  You can barely touch it without pain.  Slowly the wound heals and is not as sensitive.  As time passes the pain of miscarriage subsides, but as with a wound, there will always be a scar to remind you of the painful experience.

It is well with my soul

I love the sentiment of my friend who has chosen to see the loving hand of God in the midst of her sorrow.  “The bottom line is that I’m so thankful that despite this (loss of three babies in a year) I can still have hope because of all that I have in Christ. It certainly doesn’t mean that there’s no pain. Quite the contrary is true… but it is well with my soul because I trust in His unwavering love and in His perfect plan for my life. In this world are many trials and tribulations but Christ has overcome the world. And praise God that I am in Him!!”

Fighting Christians – Taking the Wrong for the Cause of Christ

Christ’s Example

I have been reading the gospels again and have been moved by Christ’s example of humility.  In the hours before His crucifixion Jesus was accused, abandoned, afflicted and abased.  When he was reviled with hateful taunts, He did not respond in kind.  When He was accused and later beaten, He remained silent.  He was provoked, pierced, prodded, and in pain, yet He did not lash out at those who so wrongfully and shamefully treated Him.  He endured this ‘contradiction of sinners against Himself’ for the far greater cause of bringing salvation to mankind through His sufferings.

The Bigger Picture

We are all guilty at times of losing sight of the bigger picture.  It’s not to our credit to love those that love us.  We are also supposed to love those who treat us unfairly.  Wow!  Is that ever hard to do!

In our society it’s considered weakness to back down from a disagreement.  After all, isn’t it important to make sure everybody knows the real facts about an incident?  Or knows who really came up with that great idea?  Or takes our side?  Or that I’m in charge?

It’s More Important to be Christlike than to Be Right

No.  It’s more important to mirror Christlikness than to be right.  Can that be true?  Sadly, we have been conditioned to plant our feet and in no uncertain terms let others around us know that we will not budge.  But that response to conflict is not God-honoring.

I want to challenge you:   Can you take the wrong – wrong behavior, wrong accusations, wrong ideas people have about you for the cause of Christ?

Church Splits

We shake our heads when we hear about churches that split because people can’t agree on the color of new carpet.   Does anyone remember the color chosen?  Do the stories praise the person who was ‘right’?  No, the reputation of Christ and His followers is diminished by this kind of insistence on having one’s own way.  People only remember that Christians can’t get along and they are not drawn to Christ by this fractious arguing.

Expectations

We are children of God and have various responsibilities in the church.  We can’t run away from this or change this.  Right or wrong, people know this about us and because of it have even higher expectations of godliness from us.

I want to challenge you to pray about and study the passages which speak of Christ’s humility and deference to the Father’s will.  I want to challenge you to study the Scriptures which tell us to take the wrong for the cause of Christ.  And then I urge you to practice on each other.

Don’t Be Known as Fighting Christians

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Don’t be known as fighting Christians.  Our testimony before a watching world should be one of love and tender deference to each other.  Our behavior toward each other may be used of God to draw a wanderer back or push a struggler farther away.

He Said, She Said

Our youngest daughter absolutely delighted to have her aunt and uncle here in May.  She particularly loved hearing her father and his sister give their individual accounts of the same childhood event.  They were both involved in the event yet had WIDELY differing versions of it.

When two believers see something differently take time to ask yourself if you might possibly have misinterpreted or gotten it wrong.  Don’t automatically think you are right and the other person is wrong.  Give the other person the benefit of the doubt.

Humility and Deference

By God’s grace let us love each other with humility and deference and allow our relationship as believers become a sweet savor of godliness to each other and to a watching world.

Look to the Lord!

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No person, no hobby, no accomplishment, no possession, no status, no pleasure – nothing in this world brings lasting peace and joy.  We must continually look to the Lord, for only in Him do we find what our souls need and crave.

Temptation

When temptation pounces or when you open the door to let it in, and are sorrowful and grieved that once again you have fallen – look to the Lord!

Relationships

When your spouse or child or parent or other dear one fails you and your disappointment is sharp so that you doubt God’s goodness in relationships – look to the Lord!

Pride of Life

When you discover the emptiness of pursuing money or status or other recognition on this earth and realize the time wasted on these pursuits can never be recovered – look to the Lord!

Failures

When your soul cries out in anguish over your failures and poor influence to those around you – look to the Lord!

Pride

When your labor on behalf of others goes unnoticed so that you grow sullen and sour that your work is in vain – look to the Lord!

Our Past

When wicked or wrong choices from the past rise up to mock your desires to serve God – look to the Lord!

Wicked World

When you waver, wanting to do right, but are buffeted by waves of scorn and derision from a God-hating world – look to the Lord!

Disappointing Christians

When all around you professing Christians quarrel or sow discord or abandon the faith and you are tempted to do the same – look to the Lord!

Disability

When sickness or sorrow or disability renders you incapable of the Christian service you think you should be doing – look to the Lord!

Expectations

When your expectations are dashed and you don’t know what direction to take – look to the Lord!

Look to the Lord!

Remember – He is our Rock, our Fortress, our High Tower, our Anchor.  He has promised He will never leave us or forsake us.  When we are shaken by life, we need to cast ourselves totally on Him and not lean on our own understanding.  He can be trusted to be steadfast in every storm of life.  Look to the Lord!

Others May, You Cannot

Physical well-beingAnna reads

The reality of living with my new food restrictions has been…..interesting.  I have accepted the fact that at events such as birthday parties, showers and weddings there may little if anything I can eat.  Sure I could go ahead and indulge in something from my list of restricted foods, but I am learning that I cannot do that without feeling the consequences in my health.  I have to do what is right for my physical well-being.

 Spiritual well-being

It’s so much more important to do what is right for my spiritual well-being than my physical, but sometimes I find myself comparing what God has required of me with the liberty He gives another believer.

 Encouraging Writing

A number of years ago I read a tract entitled ‘Others May, You Cannot’ by G. D. Watson which succinctly addresses this concept. God has reminded me of this encouraging writing in light of the physical restrictions I’ve been dealing with recently.  I hope it blesses and challenges you as it has me.

 Others May, You Cannot by G. D. Watson

“If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. (Matthew 16:24-25)

If God has called you to be truly like Jesus in all your spirit, He will draw you into a life of crucifixion and humility. He will put on you such demands of obedience that you will not be allowed to follow other Christians. In many ways, He seems to let other good people do things which He will not let you do.

Others who seem to be very religious and useful may push themselves, pull wires, and scheme to carry out their plans, but you cannot. If you attempt it, you will meet with such failure and rebuke from the Lord as to make you sorely penitent.

Others can brag about themselves, their work, their successes, their writings, but the Holy Spirit will not allow you to do any such thing. If you begin to do so, He will lead you into some deep mortification that will make you despise yourself and all your good works.

Others will be allowed to succeed in making great sums of money, or having a legacy left to them, or in having luxuries, but God may supply you only on a day-to-day basis, because He wants you to have something far better than gold, a helpless dependence on Him and His unseen treasury.

The Lord may let others be honored and put forward while keeping you hidden in obscurity because He wants to produce some choice, fragrant fruit for His coming glory, which can only be produced in the shade.

God may let others be great, but keep you small. He will let others do a work for Him and get the credit, but He will make you work and toil without knowing how much you are doing. Then, to make your work still more precious, He will let others get the credit for the work which you have done; this to teach you the message of the Cross, humility, and something of the value of being cloaked with His nature.

The Holy Spirit will put a strict watch on you, and with a jealous love rebuke you for careless words and feelings, or for wasting your time, which other Christians never seem distressed over.

So make up your mind that God is an infinite Sovereign and has a right to do as He pleases with His own, and that He may not explain to you a thousand things which may puzzle your reason in His dealings with you.

God will take you at your word. If you absolutely sell yourself to be His slave, He will wrap you up in a jealous love and let other people say and do many things that you cannot. Settle it forever; you are to deal directly with the Holy Spirit, He is to have the privilege of tying your tongue or chaining your hand or closing your eyes in ways which others are not dealt with. However, know this great secret of the Kingdom: When you are so completely possessed with the Living God that you are, in your secret heart, pleased and delighted over this peculiar, personal, private, jealous guardianship and management of the Holy Spirit over your life, you will have found the vestibule of heaven, the high calling of God.”

Quotation of Watson article taken from http://articles.ochristian.com/article14043.shtml

Genuine or Fake

Genuineness is a blessing

One of the things I have deeply appreciated about our ministry at Lighthouse Baptist is the genuineness of the believers in their ??????????????????????????Christian walk.  It’s not uncommon to ask a brother or sister in Christ how they are doing and have them answer along these lines:  “I’m struggling with _________.  Please pray with me that I will glorify God and trust Him to help me come to a biblical response.”

Genuine Fakes

Bud and I were amused on our biblical studies tour to find a merchant at Ephesus who advertised ‘Genuine Fake Watches’ and the wanna be in Israel whose green coffee shop sign read ‘Stars and Bucks.’ At first glance it looked authentic, but not so!

Sometimes we can be become genuine fakes.  We are burdened, or beset by temptation, or bound up by unbiblical thinking.  Instead of pouring our hearts out to God and carefully sharing our burdens with our Christian family, we fake it.  Like mindless bobble heads with pasted on fake smiles we nod robotically and tell people we are fine when what we desperately need is for God to help or change us.

Bethlehem commerce You can fool others…

While perusing a bookstore in Rome we noticed a Gypsy woman entreating the customers for ‘donations’ as she pointed toward the entrance. Outside a Gypsy man sat on the ground, his legs twisted and deformed looking, crutches propped behind him, while he called out in a plaintive sing-song voice for passers-by to pity him and drop some money in his upturned hat. Imagine my total shock and surprise when at 5:00 the clock chimed and the woman walked out of the store and joined the man who jumped up, grabbed his crutches and strode away!  Fakes indeed!

But you can’t fool God

God hates it when we put on an act.  The Pharisees were known for their great pomp and attention-getting devices in their outward worship.  Christ condemned them multiple times for this and held up as an example those who acknowledged their weaknesses and humbly entreated God for help.

God is teaching me to be more open and genuine.  He puts us together in the local body of Christ for corporate worship and mutual edification.  I’m praying for God’s grace and help to both share my burdens and bear others’ burdens genuinely.