A Call to Persevere

Several months ago I posted a blog entitled “A Polished Arrow” highlighting the encouraging life of Helen Roseveare who was a medical missionary to the Congo.  This weekend she spoke at the Desiring God National Conference in Minneapolis.

You will be strengthened and blessed if you will take time to give a listen to this 80+ year old saint!

Open My Eyes That I May See

May 4, 2004

Dear Friend,

DSC01495 (Small)There seems to be a new level of tiredness that has entered my spirit–we have lost two mamas and fired a third and are trying to operate the cottages with women who are not yet sure what their responsibilities are.  I am out of the house more than ever.  Jane, I find myself in open conversation with the Lord almost all the time.

Today as I walked between cottages rectifying misunderstandings with the aunties, I said, “Lord, If I was not sure that you are the lover of my soul and the one who is steering me around endless relational potholes today—I would be despairing.  MollyMilk (Small)As it is, you know my weakness–I am just bone tired and longing for rest.”  Later, I was checking on Molly who has a huge knot under her ear and is causing me some concern.  While carrying her, I tripped over a tricycle, I tried to protect her and made every bone in my body sore in the fall that we took.  She giggled like I was playing a game with her.  I am hoping I can get out of bed tomorrow but will take it as a gift from the Jesus who hears and answers if not! 🙂  When Molly spent the night with us we took a picture of her that made us roll–it looks like a “Got Milk?” commercial!

May 5, 2004

I slept so hard last night until I have those sheet creases pressed into my skin this morning!  The children will be fascinated by them–they don’t miss a trick and ask about every bump and blemish on my body.  How are you this morning?  Today, I lead Mama Robinah and the aunties in a study of Gen. 13 & 14–the stories that involve Lot and the war between the 4 kings and the 5 kings.

DSC00563 (Small)Auntie Rose came to Bible study for the first time last week and her heart was so lifted.  She is the one who was working for us for a couple of months when we realized her eyesight was very bad.  She had asked for a Bible and Carolyn and I gave her one.  When she opened the pages and looked down, she asked,  “JjaJa, why are the words smeared?”  We got her some reading glasses and she was thrilled to see things that were not clear before.

At the end of Bible study, I asked if there were ways they wanted me to pray for them personally.  I mentioned that since we had just studied Abram’s plan to solve the problem of famine in his own strength — if they were facing any famines and needed prayer.  Rose who is the most self protective African woman I have ever met and one who does not like to show any type of inadequacy said with uncustomary excitement, “JjaJa, pray for me in having a desire to read the Bible.”  She went on to say,  “I was raised Catholic and was never taught this book. When I became a “born again” I heard how important it was to read the Bible.  I have always felt guilty that I don’t know it and when I try to read it I fall asleep.  I can never see the point of what I am reading.      But today, I have enjoyed this so much–I would never have gotten anything from the story if I had not been here to listen.  I feel like I have been asleep and am waking up.”

Jane pray that God gives her a great desire to know Him in His word–as we talked the other night, we both know it is a great gift to have a heart that loves the Scripture. DSC02757 (Small)That moment with Rose put more wind in my sails that I have tasted in some weeks.  She was in the Bible Study because she is filling in for Flavia who has abandoned her role as mama.

What a God we serve–I am so grateful for the privilege of serving these children. Oh friend, we have a God who is a Rock–He is truly my steadfast love, my stronghold and my deliverer–a strong fortress and shield–He is able to subdue the enemies within me and without–whom shall I fear today?  May you find Him a wonderful refuge–I will love hearing the new song that you will sing to Him.

In the steadfast love of the Lord

lissa

Desires of the Heart

“Pop theologies baptize the longing of sinful hearts:health and wealth, significance and security, self-esteem, power to get what you want. But the heart Holy Spirit is in the business of changing what you want. Should you want what you ask for in the Lord’s Prayer? Yes and Amen!There are riches to be mined from the ground now trampled and mired by the modern jargon of “feelings.” Enter and dig! The Bible teaches that as you learn a simple and pure devotion to Christ, you will find your experience, emotions, beliefs and desires braided into a single unified strand. You will bear fruit in good works prepared beforehand by the One who is recreating you in his image.” ((David Powlison, Seeing With New Eyes, P & R Publishing 2003, 219.))

Thirst Quencher

“The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)  Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, “Give me a drink,” you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.?  The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water?  Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.”  

Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again,  but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again.  The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”  The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”  (John 4:9-15)

Sitting at a real well with real water present, Jesus engages the woman at the well in a conversation concerning “spiritual water.”  He calls what He has to offer a “gift of God” and describes its effect as the ultimate thirst quencher–an unending spring of life.  These verses came to mind yesterday as I sat in church and heard the Pastor, Harriss Ricks, describe the work of Christ’s Spirit in a similar way.

pond His vivid illustration began by having us consider ourselves when we were apart from Christ as being like a pond.  A pond is self-enclosed–individualistic. A pond is still, quiet and doesn’t really impact it’s surroundings much.  In fact, the nature of the pond is that it responds to the changes in the environment around it.  If it is dry and the sun shines too long and hard, the water level in the pond recedes and algae begins to grow.  The pond is left with stagnant, murky water.   The woman at the well had lived like a pond for years.  She was influenced by her environment–and the day she met Jesus — He knew she was stagnant and murky–He knew she was thirsty for something refreshing and reviving.  He offered her the deepest refreshment–Himself.stream

Rather than face life like a stagnant pond, Jesus casts a vision of a life that is more like a living stream.  A life that would indeed quench her deepest thirst.  A stream is constantly replenished with water–it receives and releases fresh water every moment so that it becomes a vivid demonstration of what it means to be alive.  Something that is moving, cascading, reviving, impacting everything that it touches.

Thinking about this word picture and the story in John, I remembered that this woman did indeed receive the Living Water and the first thing she did was to run to the people of her town to release the life giving water that she had received– the news that there was an ultimate thirst quencher–His name is Jesus.

Sweet Reunion

robinahwilliam-custom.jpgWhile roaming YouTube videos from Uganda, Mike ran across this one of dear Mama Robinah’s boys’ cottage.  It was so great to see how the children had grown since we left.

Jovan in the white striped shirt still does not like to dance.  Charles in the dark blue shirt and pink sandals really does break loose!  I could see Samson tall and lean in the yellow polo and Robert in the yellow t-shirt missing his front teeth! How my heart soared to see how little William had grown when his face came front and center in the greyish white polo near the end of the song.  Best of all was to hear Mama Robinah’s strong voice praising again–that is an experience I have missed greatly.

Say What?

cross“Self-exalters have to avoid the cross because the splinters of the old rugged cross always pop the balloon of self exaltation.”  (John Piper)

Prayer is not conquering God’s reluctance but taking hold of God’s willingness.”  (Phillip Brooks)

“In all Christ’s people He is present–in some He is prominent–in a few He is pre-eminent.”  (F. B. Meyer)

“The Cross is the beginning of the Gospel.  What we sinners need is not merely a pattern, but a pardon, not merely a Pathfinder, but a Sin Bearer; not merely instruction, but salvation.”  (Sidlow Baxter)

“To speak of the deeper life is not to speak of anything deeper than simple New Testament religion.  The “deeper life” is deeper only because the average Christian life is tragically shallow.”  (A. W. Tozer)

Anchored in Truth

anchor (Small) Our Pastors have been leading us on Wednesday nights to consider Scripture as the Authority for our lives.  It is becoming more difficult in our culture not to invest our feelings — especially if we are not in the Scriptures, with the final authority for life.  We plod along counseling with ourselves making decisions based on how we feel about this or that outcome. I find when I counsel with myself the questions I ask are aimed at what is the easiest, most convenient, most comfortable, least demanding course to take. 

Beyond that, the trouble with relying on my feelings as the anchor for my life is that they do not hold steady! They are fickle and change in a moment without good reason — or any reason!  I can “feel” disciplined and self-controlled in the morning and decide that it is right to make healthy eating choices as a way to honor the temple of the Holy Spirit.  That feeling can sustain me for awhile and then come the afternoon hours and my mind begins to bring me new counsel!  I begin to “feel” different than I did during the morning.  Now, I think it is time to reward myself and indulge my desire for junk food.  That “feels right and true” because the decision is based on the change that has occurred from morning to afternoon. 

The path of following feelings is like being lost on the back roads of West Virginia–you wind and wind and get nowhere.  Counseling with my thoughts and feelings is disappointing because they are not unchanging absolutes as we find in Scripture.  The unchanging, sufficient Word of God is authoritative!  Soaking and submitting to God’s thoughts make for a straighter more direct path through life.

I was reminded of D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ warning regarding making your feelings your god.

Avoid the mistake of concentrating overmuch upon your feelings. Above all, avoid the terrible error of making them central…for you will be doomed to be unhappy.  What we have in the Bible is Truth; it is not an emotional stimulus…and it is as we apprehend and submit ourselves to the truth that the feelings follow.  I must never ask myself in the first instance:  What do I feel about this?  The first question is, Do I believe it?”  ((D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Its Cure, (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1965, reprinted 2001), 20.))

May today be the day when rather than asking myself what I feel about this or that–I ask, “Lord, based on your Word–the anchor for my life, what must I believe about this?”