Category Archives: Inspiration

Jehovah Jireh: When Plans Go Wrong, God Will Provide a Way

Here it is December 1st, and things are not at all as I’d planned! In particular, my son Jonathan teaches for Moody Bible Institute, and his family has been in transition this past year, moving from Spokane, Washington to Chicago, Illinois. Meanwhile, Moody gave Jon a wonderful “sabbatical” for research and writing this fall, so their family went to Germany (Linda’s homeland) during his study break. They planned to return to the U.S. in time for Christmas and then look for housing. (Please Note: If any of you know of a small home or apartment to rent in a safe neighborhood within 20 miles of downtown Chicago, would you please contact me? Thanks!) However, Jon was unable to get¬† his visa renewed and had to come back to America early! We love having him home, but he misses his “girls” (that especially includes his wife ūüôā¬† ), and he’s had to persevere through some pretty chaotic conditions here, since we’re still anguishing over issues surrounding a kitchen update (which was theoretically to be done well before Thanksgiving).Still, God provides, doesn’t He? Linda and the children are under the watchful eye of “Uncle Volker,” who has been a wonderful surrogate grandfather while Linda’s parents are gone just now, and I think everything will turn out fine. At least, I hope and pray so! But, it’s pretty unnerving to be without a home base for a long time, isn’t it? Even having your kitchen torn apart is unnerving, particularly if you’re expecting 24 family members home for the holidays during the coming month. I was told our kitchen update would take “6-10 weeks,” but it’s taking more like 6-10 months!¬† ūüė¶

These are just small traumas in the scope of life, but they definitely knock you off your game (as they say in English). I think about friends who are battling cancer this Christmas (one just 18 years old), those grieving the loss of their mate or child, and those who are suddenly without a job. I am sure there are doubtless some out there who are homeless and really don’t have any place to go. Life is terrifying at times, isn’t it? I don’t know how anyone copes without trusting God, and I just want to say that there is “a higher power” available to help you! His name is Jehovahjireh…”Jehovah provides.”

Genesis 12 teaches us that four thousand years ago God called Abraham (and his wife, Sarah) to follow him away from his homeland into a strange, new land. In Genesis 22, God tested Abraham, asking him to sacrifice his one and only son on Mt. Moriah, which must have taken incredible faith, since it would make no sense at all. It was a test to see if Abraham would trust and obey God, but I’m sure Abraham didn’t know that. At any rate, just as Abraham was about to sacrifice Isaac, we are told, And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called the name of that place, ‘The Lord will provide’ [literally in Hebrew: ‘Jehovahjireh’]; as it is said to this day, ‚ÄúOn the mount of the Lord it shall be provided(Genesis 22:13-14, ESV).

If you are struggling today with frightening or heart-breaking circumstances, please pray to Jehovahjireh, the God who provides. He will make a way!

“God Will Make A Way”
(‚ÄĒDon Moen)

“God will make a way
Where there seems to be no way
He works in ways we cannot see
He will make a way for me

“He will be my guide
Hold me closely to His side
With love and strength for each new day
He will make a way, He will make a way.”

https://video.search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?fr=yhs-SGMedia-sgmedia_maps&hsimp=yhs-sgmedia_maps&hspart=SGMedia&p=utube+god+will+make+a+way#id=3&vid=bd1376a842ea232085dc19c7d316097d&action=click

 

What Kind of Schmuck Are You?!

Yesterday, I got a call from a carpenter who’s going to be updating our 30-year-old kitchen, and when he accidentally called me “Karen,” he apologized by saying, “I’m sorry! I’m really a schmuck!” I didn’t mind his forgetting my name (he hasn’t even started working for us yet), but I did find myself reactive to the idea that he made it sound like a “schmuck” is a bad thing, because I have a young friend whom I greatly admire whose last name is Schmuck. This Schmuck wants to become a minister, and he’s working his way through college by serving as a member of the maintenance department at our church. We’ve been involved in ministry together, and he is an all-around all-star guy. He also has a great sense of humor, and I’ve heard they advertised the youth group by saying, “Come, and don’t worry, because you’ll never be the only schmuck here!”¬† So, while we were in Nepal, I couldn’t help but notice the sign on the bathroom door where we had our much-longed-for rest stop on the Prithivi Highway. I took a photo with my cell phone to send to Zach, but then I thought better of it, just in case it might hurt his feelings. However, just a few days later, we visited the International Mountain Museum, and I noticed that there was a famous mountain climber by the name of Marcus Schmuck who led the first successful assent of Mt. Broad Peak back in 1957. It was a very difficult and lofty achievement, indeed, and one that has only been repeated a scant handful of times since.Broad Peak is the twelfth highest mountain in the world, very dangerous, and in such a remote area of Pakistan’s Karakoram Range that no one in the western world even knew it existed until 1892!So, I want to defend the name “Schmuck” and say that there are some mighty fine schmucks out there! Last summer, my young friend got married, and I know that even though he’s had to scrub a lot of toilets while working his way through college (which is not what he’s doing here; he and his wife had a foot-washing ceremony during their wedding [which is very biblical, by the way]), this young man is a true mountain climber, and I know he will also achieve some lofty goals for our Lord over the course of his lifetime.¬†¬† Jesus taught: “He that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted” (Matthew 23:11-12).

Jesus also set the example for us: “Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.” (John 13:3-10).

The Many Faces of India

We were having dinner with friends last weekend, and the question came up: “What did you love best about your trip to India and Nepal?” ¬† Certainly visiting the Taj Mahal¬† and our flight-seeing tour of Mt. Everest were phenomenal highlights,¬† but I think the most fascinating and compelling aspect of our adventure¬† was being immersed in a seemingly unending sea of people,¬† each with a face that arrested my attention and captivated me.¬† Did¬† you know that India is second only to China in population¬† (1.4 billion in China versus 1.3 billion in India)¬† but is only the 7th largest nation by land area?¬† Putting this into perspective for Americans: America has a land mass of 9.5 million square kilometers and a population of 324 million people.¬† India has about a third as much land (3.2 million square kilometers)¬† and over a billion more people! ¬† So, the population density feels totally overwhelming!¬† On the other hand, I was fascinated by the faces.¬† The children and young people were beautiful,¬† and the old people had faces that I’d really only seen in pictures.¬† I don’t know how old some of these people were, but they looked ancient, like I imagined the aged patriarchs might have looked thousands of years ago.¬† And everywhere, people were working, bearing heavy burdens,¬† living with a patience born of suffering and the determination to survive.¬† I fell in love with the people.¬†Their beauty. Their courage.¬† Their strength. Their productivity.¬† I’m sure there are many desperate and dark works of evil in India¬† (as there are in America too),¬†¬† but what I saw was people who were surviving in conditions¬† that most Americans would consider intolerable.¬† No wonder Mother Teresa spent her life trying to help!¬† There is such amazing need…such overwhelming need…such endless need.¬† It has really made me stop and pray. “Lord, what would you have me to do?” Over the next few weeks, I hope to share more about India and Nepal,¬† but please know that behind all the trappings of culture¬† and the surprises and problems we encountered,¬† the people of India and Nepal are dynamic and wonderful. Each one is a unique creation handcrafted by God and stamped with His image.

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” Genesis 1:26-27).

 

Sweet Thoughts from Face Book Friends

Face Book is mainly a joy to me because I love to see photos of my friends and their families and hear all the news, but it’s also just plain fun at times, because there are so many crazy jokes going around, and it’s also uplifting to read the encouraging thoughts that friends share. Today I want to share some of these inspiring thoughts with¬† you: Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” (Matthew 5:9) And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.” (Colossians 3:14-15).

Everywhere You Go There’s a Zacchaeus Up a Tree

I think everybody needs to keep a book handy in their purse or pocket…or at the very least, on their cell phone.¬† ūüôā¬† On our recent trip to India and Nepal, I kept Everywhere You Go There’s a Zacchaeus Up a Tree: Small Town Faith and Words of Wisdom tucked away for quiet moments while waiting at the airport for flights or at the hotels for folks to gather for meals or meetings. The book contains a dozen dozen (as in 144, but not a dirty dozen, a clean and uplifting dozen dozen) pithy devotionals‚ÄĒquick and easy to read, but with a punch that refreshed me like a glass of…well…punch! The stories where lovingly edited by Timothy Campbell from the portfolio of his father, Roger Campbell. Roger left a lifetime legacy of stories and thoughts as a pastor, author, radio broadcaster, and newspaper columnist who was published in over a hundred papers.¬† The book starts with “Five to Help You Thrive” (which I found right on) and “Leaving That Old Baggage Behind” (pretty apropos for someone on a trip, huh?).

If you’re looking for a devotional book not quite so old-fashioned and classic as¬† L.B. Cowman’s beloved Streams in the Desert, but something that still carries the aroma of small town America and the quiet joys of life from yesteryears, you might really enjoy the honeyed heartbeat of Roger Campbell as he explores life, faith, and love through the past 30+ years with an ageless wisdom that still rings true in 2017.

In God will I praise his word: in the Lord will I praise his word. In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me (Psalm 56:10-11).

The Woman in Gold and a Woman’s Gold

Woman in Gold is one of those movies that’s hard to watch but too good to miss.¬† Based on the true story of Maria Altmann, who as an American octogenarian (who had fled to the U.S. as a Jewish refugee from Austria during World War 2) took on the Austrian government to recover her family’s artwork.¬† Maria Altmann (played by Helen Mirren) solicited for the help of¬† Randy Schoenberg (played by Ryan Reynolds), who was a young (and quite inexperienced) lawyer of Austrian-Jewish heritage as well as a family friend.¬† The movie traces their struggle to regain possession of Gustav Klimt’s iconic painting, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I, which was confiscated by the Nazis and later placed in Austria’s Belvedere Museum in Vienna.¬† The conflict lasted over ten years and went all the way to America’s Supreme Court (and beyond).¬† Woman in Gold was screened at the 65th Berlin International Film Festival in 2015 and has been out in America for a couple of years, so if you love movies, you’ve likely already seen it.¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†¬† Woman in Gold is very well done and I recommend it highly. But, today, instead of telling any more of the story, I want to point out that much of the debate centered around the legal documents: To whom did the painting really belong, and whose will should direct the final disposition of the painting? Certain details of the movie are not correct; most prominently, Maria Altmann did not leave her ailing father in Vienna. Maria said she would have never left her father; she waited until after he died of natural causes before she escaped. Still, the movie was a great success, and in fact, grossed over 60 million. Beyond that, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I eventually sold for 135 million. Now, that’s a lot of gold!!¬† My questions for us are two fold. First: Do we have clear wills made out in case of our unexpected death? I think everybody who owns anything should have a will, even if it’s just a hand-written document that’s been signed and witnessed at your local bank by a notary public and kept in your important papers.¬†¬† Even more important, what are we doing with our “gold,” our most precious possessions? If you’ve never stopped to think this through and write out a will, please take the time to do so, even if your only precious possession at this point is a child. Someday, it might make much more of a difference than you’d ever imagine today.

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Luke 12:34).

 

 

Stratford Scenes and Asian Harvest Adages

Stratford, Ontario, on the Avon River, is a quaint and charming city that hosts the Stratford Festival every May-October. It’s the county seat for Perth County, has a population of just over 31,000,¬† and is reputed as being one of Canada’s best places to live (and retire).¬† While there, we always enjoy our strolls along the Avon River,¬† their beautiful Shakespeare Gardens, and the quiet ambience (and restaurants). Today, I’d like to combine some of my favorite photos from our holiday¬† with a few adages gleaned from An Asian Harvest.¬† I hope you’ll take time to ponder!

“To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.”
~Abraham Lincoln“If God calls you to be a missionary, don’t stoop to be a king.” ~Jordan Grooms¬† “The greatest missionary is the Bible in the Mother tongue. It never needs a furlough and is never considered a foreigner.” ~Cameron Townsend

“The greatest ability you will ever have is your availability” ~Paul Hattaway, quoting some of the best advice he ever received, from an old man in his church named Bruce.¬†¬† “The principal danger of the 20th century will be: a religion without the Holy Spirit, Christians without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration, politics without God and a heaven without a hell.” ~William Booth, 1899¬†¬†Quotes by¬† “Do not pray for easy lives; pray to be strong men. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers; pray for powers equal to your tasks. Then the doing of your work shall be no miracle, but you shall be a miracle.” ~Phillips Brooks¬† “If you give God the right to yourself, He will make a holy experiment out of you. God’s experiments always succeed.” ~Oswald Chambers¬†¬† “It is an extraordinary power from God, not talent, that wins the day. It is extraordinary spiritual unction, not mental power, that we need. Mental power may gather a large congregation, but only spiritual power will save souls.” ~Charles Spurgeon “It is our duty and our privilege to exhaust our lives for Jesus. We are not to be living specimens of men in fine preservation, but living sacrifices, whose lot is to be consumed.” ~Charles Spurgeon¬† “Jesus has many who love His kingdom in heaven, but few who bear His cross. He has many who desire comfort, but few who desire suffering. He finds many to share His feast, but few His fasting. All desire to rejoice with Him, but few are willing to suffer for His sake…Those who love Jesus for His own sake, and not for the sake of comfort for themselves, bless Him in every trial and anguish of heart, no less than in the greatest joy. And were He never willing to bestow comfort on them, they would still always praise Him and give Him thanks. ~Thomas a Kempis (1380-1471)¬†¬† “No one has the right to hear the gospel twice, while there remains someone who has not heard it once.” ~Oswald J. Smith¬† “The Lord rarely provided my needs early, but He was never late.”~Paul Hattaway¬†¬† “What matters most to God is my obedience.” ~Paul Hattaway¬† “If left to flourish, small character flaws grow into large defects which can bring about a Christian’s demise.” ~Paul Hattaway¬†¬† “I believe the Lord would rather His children attempt things for Him and fail than to never take a risk for His kingdom.” ~Paul Hattaway¬†¬† “John Stott once warned of the dangers of Christian tadpoles in the Church. Tadpoles, he explained, have huge heads but little else.”¬†¬† “Many preachers say, ‘Before someone can die for Jesus, they must first be willing to live for Him.’ That sounds logical, but I have discovered the opposite is equally true. Before we are able to live for Jesus, we must first be willing to die for Him.” ~Paul Hattaway¬†¬† “As I gradually learned the principle that in the kingdom of God, human weakness equals strength and human strength equals weakness, our work became more effective.” ~Paul Hattaway¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† “No broken life is beyond repair with Jesus.” ~Paul Hattaway¬†¬†Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me” (Isaiah 6:8).