Love these guys!
Here we are, shoulder to shoulder or far away in distant lands.
Millions, billions of us, here, there, and everywhere.
How many of us are there? Here are just a few of the nations.
Are these population numbers what you would have guessed?
I was particularly surprised by Japan. It's so small,
but like a tiny seed man grows and fills God's green Earth.
For as the earth brings forth its sprouts, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to sprout up before all the nations. Isaiah 61:11
Hut Hut Hut!
This is a little song by my youngest son. He'd joyfully sing it
(while hopping back and forth) when we were studying the
Christian bible teacher Hudson Taylor. It was so many years ago
he doesn't remember it now, but I hold it dear in my heart.
Hudson Taylor went to China in the 1800's. He adopted the culture and
attire of his new home, which was unusual for a foreigner at that time.
He was a man who believed in prayer. The book we read about his
life followed a simple path: need, prayer, answers.
A few days ago I came across this. I'd never heard it before.
In 1889 Hudson Taylor had a prophecy about Russia.
I thought I'd share it here:
“I saw in this vision a great war that encompasses the world. I saw this war recess and then start again, actually being two wars. After this I saw much unrest and revolts that will affect many nations. I saw in some places spiritual awakenings. In Russia I saw there will come a general all-encompassing, national spiritual awakening, so great that there could never be another like it. From Russia, I saw the awakening spread to many European countries. Then I saw an all-out awakening, followed by the second coming of Christ.”
I wonder when.
This little guy lives on my deck.
I just watched him eat a bug.
He doesn't know there is a war half way around the world.
He doesn't know there is peace here.
(He may know there is peace. Seems like he would.)
He sits in the sun. I sit in the sun.
And here we are together.
It's good eventually.
But that night maybe they couldn't see it. Maybe when the sky went dark and
the curtain in the temple tore in two, they could not imagine that it was good.
Maybe when the ground shook they shook too. Are you shaking?
And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.”
When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then they said among the nations,
"The LORD has done great things for them.”
The LORD has done great things for us; we are glad.
Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like streams in the Negeb!
Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!
He who goes out weeping,
bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
bringing his sheaves with him.
The world was changing subtly. While turmoil filled the skies, small movements were taking place on the ground. A kingdom there, a governor or clerk, a dynasty, all falling like water down a drain. Each one held a peg, and as they fell, everything changed. We looked around like we had never seen color before, felt the sun on our faces like it had never shone. The clouds had parted. The ground had stopped shaking. All was still.
Now what? Now we dance.
I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life. The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.
The Nazarene freed me. He said he would do it and he did. I had been in the cave a long, long time. Each twist and turn was known to me. The 'tites hang down and threatened me. The 'mites sprang up and blocked my path. I had tried this. And that.
The Nazarene entered the cave. How, I do not know. He told me I'd be free. I couldn't see how, but the words were sweet and gave me hope. He led me, both this way, which I had tried, and that. I thought I knew better and broke away to head in another direction. He followed me. I climbed. Searched. Looked. Studied. All I found was another cave, and another, and another.
"I will set you free," said the Nazarene.
How, I did not know.
"Follow me," He said.
And I did.
We took a path I had never known, though I'd crossed it many times. Through darkness, which was no longer dark to me. Up. Down. Over. I had been deep inside that cave.
"This can't be the way," I said, certain.
And I did.
Then, as surely as I had entered, I stepped out. The sun met me as the Son held me. I couldn't see in the bright light until my eyes adjusted and my heart returned to its natural size. I took a breath, of life. The Nazarene said He would set me free.
And He did.
The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me lie down
in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in
paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.
Even though I walk through
the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy
shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the
house of the Lord
The 23rd Psalm of David
We sat by the lake and looked at the sky. As we looked a fly went by.
"Hey, that's weird," I said.
"What," asked Simcha.
"It's a story from my childhood."
"I remember," he said, then shook his head and added, "Not really."
"There's a fly. It zooms past in a panic. It's being chased by a frog."
"The frog wants to eat the fly. This is a simple story," he nodded.
"Not really. The frog is running from a cat, who is running from a dog."
"So no one is chasing the fly?"
Simcha laughed like he was remembering something horrible.
"It's like that in life," he said.
"There's a war in my world," I told him.
"I like the bad guy."
"He doesn't seem so bad, but my friend can hear explosions from her window. How can that not be bad?"
Simcha took a deep breath.
"I can tell you something about that," he said. "In all my years I've never seen a necessary war or a person who did not need redemption, and I am older than this lake and you and everything chasing that fly. Everyone likes their own bad guy."
"We're like that fly. We each have our own perspective." He paused and asked like he knew the answer, "How does the story end?"
"It was all a mistake. There was a lamb with its hoof stuck in a metal bucket. The noise scared a man who ran, which scared a fox, who scared a cow, who scared a pig, who scared the dog. They were each running away from something and scaring the animal in front of them."
"It's like that in life," he said like he was remembering something horrible.
We sat by the lake and looked at the sky.
My Grandma played the banjo, but not like this.
During the long winter months when she and Grandpa escaped snowy Michigan for Texas and then Florida, I kept her banjo safe for her. It had a special place on my dresser. I never learned to play, but in my dreams both Grandma and I sound like this.
Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness!
You have given me relief when I was in distress.
Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!
O men, how long shall my honor be turned into shame?
How long will you love vain words and seek after lies? Selah
But know that the LORD has set apart the godly for himself;
the LORD hears when I call to him. Be angry, and do not sin;
ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah
Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the LORD.
There are many who say, “Who will show us some good?
Lift up the light of your face upon us, O LORD!”
You have put more joy in my heart
than they have when their grain and wine abound.
In peace I will both lie down and sleep;
for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.