Hangin' Out in Karongue

Hangin' Out in Karongue

Monday, August 15, 2011

Stirring Quotes

Take a few moments to read these quotes from ordinary people that God used in extraordinary ways. And let them stir your heart to action for the cause of Christ in the world.

"God's work done in God's way will never lack God's supply" — Hudson Taylor

"We talk of the Second Coming; half the world has never heard of the first." — Oswald J. Smith

"God uses men who are weak and feeble enough to lean on Him."Hudson Taylor

"Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God" — William Carey

"The Great Commission is not an option to be considered; it is a command to be obeyed" — Hudson Taylor

"Sympathy is no substitute for action." — David Livingstone

"Lost people matter to God, and so they must matter to us." — Keith Wright

"To know the will of God, we need an open Bible and an open map." — William Carey

"Christ wants not nibblers of the possible, but grabbers of the impossible." — C.T. Studd

"In our lifetime, wouldn't it be sad if we spent more time washing dishes or swatting flies or mowing the yard or watching television than praying for world missions?" — Dave Davidson

"God is pursuing with omnipotent passion a worldwide purpose of gathering joyful worshipers for Himself from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. He has an inexhaustible enthusiasm for the supremacy of His name among the nations. Therefore, let us bring our affections into line with His, and, for the sake of His name, let us renounce the quest for worldly comforts and join His global purpose." — John Piper

"If I had 1,000 lives, I'd give them all for China" — Hudson Taylor

"In no other way can the believer become as fully involved with God's work, especially the work of world evangelism, as in intercessory prayer." — Dick Eastman

"The history of missions is the history of answered prayer." — Samuel Zwemer

"The greatest missionary is the Bible in the mother tongue. It needs no furlough and is never considered a foreigner."  - William Cameron Townsend

"Prepare for the worst, expect the best, and take what comes." - Robert E. Speer

"I used to think that prayer should have the first place and teaching the second. I now feel it would be truer to give prayer the first, second and third places and teaching the fourth." - James O. Fraser

"It's amazing what can be accomplished if you don't worry about who gets the credit." - Clarence W. Jones

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Jesus' Call to Follow

Several months ago I ran across a little book about Jesus in a church nursery that caught my eye. You know the kind of book: vibrant pictures with a few sentences on each page using short, easy to understand words. A typical children's book. On the cover of the book was a cartoon picture of Jesus with a wide smile, perfect teeth, groomed hair, and an appearance that said, "I just want to be your friend."

Make no mistake, I think that it is great for kids to be taught from an early age the love that Jesus has for them and His desire to be warm and welcoming and friendly. The problem is that we grow up and still exclusively hold to this view of Jesus and who He is. In other words, we cannot imagine Jesus saying or demanding anything over and above just wanting to be our pal.

While I believe that Jesus was indeed the most joyous man who ever lived, since He had no sin and enjoyed perfect communion with God, He is also the man of sorrows (Isaiah 53:3) who came to speak out against sin and to deal decisively with it once and for all (Hebrews 9:11-12). And the smiling, easy-going, happy-go-lucky Jesus is also the Jesus who calls His followers to absolute and unconditional commitment to Him.

In Luke 9:23-24 Jesus said, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it." To deny one's self is to live as if we no longer exist. And to take up one's cross is not just to deny self; it is to die to self.

In Luke 14:33 Jesus said, "Any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be My disciple." Jesus is emphatic that all has to be given up to follow Him. This does not mean that a person has to take a vow of poverty in order to be a Christian or that they have to sell all of their possessions and give the proceeds to Christian causes. But it does mean that nothing is to get in the way of our radical following of Him. It means that we dare not allow our hands to be full of things that must be given up for Christ.

I am eternally grateful for the smiling Jesus who's arms are open wide to receive sinners and who calls them friends (John 15:15). I am constantly amazed at the grace of God shown to me in Jesus as He receives me not based upon my works or my goodness, but based upon His death (1 Peter 3:18). Yet I am continually confronted and challenged with Jesus' call to absolute commitment to Him, the One who has always been absolutely committed to me.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Happy Birthday Thea!

After over three-and-a-half years of infertility problems we really believed that Ezra was going to be our only child. And we were totally okay with this and overjoyed that we would even be parents of one child. Little did we know, however, that immediately after Ezra was weened that Gayle would be pregnant yet again. And this time it was going to be a girl!

We were in living in Louisville, Kentucky at the time and I was a full-time college student working two jobs. It would be an amazing understatement to say that things were a bit tight during that period of our lives. It was a time where we were having to trust God for everything. And now we were going to have to learn to trust Him as a family of four.

While we had Ezra's name picked out years in advance, we really struggled to come up with a girl's name. I really liked Lilly and fought pretty hard for it; Gayle liked Lydia and held fast to it. But neither of us liked the other's name they had picked out. There were two names that we were both kind of neutral toward: Anna and Thea. We had a friend in college that was named Thea and we always thought that it was a pretty and unique name.

So one afternoon, as we were at our usual name-picking stalemate, I wrote down the four names that we were considering on small pieces of paper and put them into a hat. Gayle and I then agreed that we would draw out a name and we would stick to it; that would be the name for our soon-to-be-born baby girl. She agreed, reached in the hat, and pulled out the name Thea. And so when we are asked where we got her name we can truly say that we pulled it out of a hat!  

I remember the moment that I saw Thea for the first time in the delivery room. And I remember how my heart felt when I saw her. I was now the father of a daughter; a beautiful little girl. When she came home from the hospital a few days later she had jaundice and had to spend all her time in what we called her little tanning bed with a blindfold on. And she was perfect! We would sit and watch her sleep in her little brightly lit contraption and we loved her.

Thea has not always had it easy with some of the things that God has brought her way. And she is, for good and for ill, a lot like her father. But she has always had a way of capturing my heart. Among the many other nicknames I have for her I often call her "Theadorable" because I tell her that her father adores her.

Happy birthday Thea. Know that your Father's plans are even grander and richer than the plans I have for you. And as much as I love and adore you, my love will always pale in comparison to His abounding and abundant love for you!  

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Happy Birthday Hosanna!

I remember well coming home from a short term mission trip to Senegal in December of 2006. The day after I returned Gayle sat me down and said, "I think that I might be pregnant." I thought, "No way. There is no way that you are pregnant." But the next day, after at least two pregnancy tests, this fact was confirmed: Gayle was indeed pregnant. She fell on the bed and began to cry and I began to laugh (I think in an attempt to keep from joining her in crying).

It wasn't that we were sad; it was more that we were shocked. We were not planning to have another child. Gayle was 41, we did not have maternity coverage on our insurance, and we were not sure that we were ready for an infant in the house. It was not in our plan. But the shock was short lived as we began to get more and more excited about the thought of having another child.

We had never been very good at picking out and agreeing upon girl's names and we reached our usual baby naming gridlock until Thea (who was 4 at the time) suggested that we name her little sister Hosanna. And we loved the name. Hosanna means "God save us!" It is really a prayer and a plea for God to save and to rescue His people. We chose Grace for her middle name because at this time in our life and ministry God was teaching us a great deal about His abundant grace for His people.  

I cannot even begin to express what joy Hosanna has brought to the life of our family and the heart of her father. We have often said, "What did we do for fun before God gave us Hosanna to entertain us?" Sometimes God's greatest gifts at first come as a shock, but soon after are seen as nothing more than pure grace. In this case, Hosanna Grace. Happy 4th birthday Hosanna!