Humility – Andrew Murray *read & recommended The Charisma Myth – Olivia Fox Cabane *
The Autobiography of George Muller
An Illustrated Atlas – J.R.R. Tolkien
Unfinished Tales of Numenor and Middle-earth – J.R.R. Tolkien
A.D. 33 – Ted Dekker
Desiring God – John Piper
When I Don’t Desire God – John Piper
And Justice for All – John Perkins
Connecting with Muslims – Fouad Masri
Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus – Nabeel Qureshi
The Book that Transforms Nations – Loren Cunningham
Why Not Women? – Loren Cunningham
The Book that Made Your World – Vishal Mangalwadi
Cold Case Christianity – J. Warner Wallace
Us Versus Us – Andrew Marin
October 31st, 2017
I sit at my desk, this chilly morning. It’s 18 degrees (-7 C) outside. A space heater sits at my feet, as I read The Hiding Place. A fitting book for a day like today. Full of faith, and full of fear. I was baptized on this day 18 years ago (it is also the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation). And, as you probably know, it is Halloween.
“‘Oh, my dears, I am sorry for all the Dutchmen now who do not know the power of God. For we will be beaten. But He will not.'” The delightful Mr. ten Boom, spoken soon before his country came under the occupation of Germany in the second World War.
I am past that part, now. Reading about their work with the “underground” to hide Jews. As of yet, they have not succumbed to despair.
“That it could have been happy, at such a time and in such circumstances, was largely a tribute to Betsie… Sometimes we had concerts, with Leendert on the violin, and Thea, a truly accomplished musician, on the piano. Or Betsie would announce ‘an evening of Vondel’ (the Dutch Shakespeare), with each of us reading a part…”
Oh, to know the wisdom in maintaining a jovial spirit in the midst of trouble. ❤
And I hope there is not much trouble tonight. I’ll be staying inside, maybe watching a movie – not scary, mind you. Or maybe I’ll continue to read of the terrors of history. If I want a real nail-biter, I might even listen to the news. Stay safe, ‘Merica, and my fellow earth dwellers. Jesus loves you.
Entering The Hiding Place
So, after much hesitation, I started reading The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom (whom I shall refer to on a first name basis from here). Over this past summer, I have read many stories, books, and listened to speakers on persecution, death, and grief. I wasn’t sure my heart could take much more, even as I grabbed the book from my father’s collection.
I have greatly benefited from these stories of torment and heartache. My faith has been strengthened like never before with the knowledge that our God is worth suffering for, and that He is present in our sufferings. (The depths of this truth is beyond what I have planned to explore in this blog post.) Even with these immeasurable blessings, I hesitated to continue. These stories are heavy, and my heart is easily broken.
Nevertheless, with a little encouragement from friends, I opened this slightly-worn, hard cover copy borrowed from my dad’s library. Corrie is an excellent author, and she pulls you in and prepares you to continue reading. The first couple of chapters paint a picture of life before the trauma, and gently foreshadows the coming tragedies.
Corrie’s father is a treasure of warmth and wisdom. She shares memories with him from her childhood, lessons she learned from him, that stayed with her and helped her.
“He turned to look at me, as he always did when answering a question, but to my surprise he said nothing. At last he stood up, lifted his traveling case from the rack over our heads, and set it on the floor.
‘Will you carry it off the train, Corrie?’ he said.
I stood up and tugged at it. It was crammed with the watches and spare parts he had purchased that morning.
‘It’s too heavy,” I said.
‘Yes,’ he said. ‘And it would be a pretty poor father who would ask his little girl to carry such a load. It’s the same way, Corrie, with knowledge. Some knowledge is too heavy for children. When you are older an stronger you can bear it. For now you must trust me to carry it for you.’
And I was satisfied. More than satisfied – wonderfully at peace. There were answers to this and all my hard questions – for now I was content to leave them in my father’s keeping.”
I love that last line, and the imagery of all this. An important fact that begs mentioning is that her father is a trustworthy man. He is not withholding information that she needed to know just yet. He is protecting her, and he remains to protect her until she can handle the weight of this knowledge. I think this is a beautiful picture of how God cares for His children.
Though the children of the late 1800’s in Holland may have been shielded from some knowledge, they were not shielded from the knowledge of death. After seeing a dead baby outside, Corrie is shaken to the core (suddenly aware that people she loved could die) and cries to her dad that evening.
“…’I need you!’ I sobbed. ‘You can’t die! You can’t!’
Father sat down on the edge of the narrow bed. ‘Corrie,’ he began gently, ‘when you and I go to Amsterdam – when do I give you your ticket?’
I sniffed a few times, considering this. ‘Why, just before we get on the train.’
‘Exactly. And our wise Father in heaven knows when we’re going to need things, too. Don’t run out ahead of Him, Corrie. When the time comes that some of us will have to die, you will look into your heart and find the strength you need – just in time.'”
I don’t think that needs any more explanation. ❤
What happens to a dream deferred?Does it dry uplike a raisin in the sun?Or fester like a sore—And then run?Does it stink like rotten meat?Or crust and sugar over—like a syrupy sweet?Maybe it just sagslike a heavy load.Or does it explode?
Let America be America again. Let it be the dream it used to be. Let it be the pioneer on the plain Seeking a home where he himself is free. (America never was America to me.) Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed— Let it be that great strong land of love Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme That any man be crushed by one above. (It never was America to me.) O, let my land be a land where Liberty Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath, But opportunity is real, and life is free, Equality is in the air we breathe. (There’s never been equality for me, Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”) Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark? And who are you that draws your veil across the stars? I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart, I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars. I am the red man driven from the land, I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek— And finding only the same old stupid plan Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak. I am the young man, full of strength and hope, Tangled in that ancient endless chain Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land! Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need! Of work the men! Of take the pay! Of owning everything for one’s own greed! I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil. I am the worker sold to the machine. I am the Negro, servant to you all. I am the people, humble, hungry, mean— Hungry yet today despite the dream. Beaten yet today—O, Pioneers! I am the man who never got ahead, The poorest worker bartered through the years. Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream In the Old World while still a serf of kings, Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true, That even yet its mighty daring sings In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned That’s made America the land it has become. O, I’m the man who sailed those early seas In search of what I meant to be my home— For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore, And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea, And torn from Black Africa’s strand I came To build a “homeland of the free.” The free? Who said the free? Not me? Surely not me? The millions on relief today? The millions shot down when we strike? The millions who have nothing for our pay? For all the dreams we’ve dreamed And all the songs we’ve sung And all the hopes we’ve held And all the flags we’ve hung, The millions who have nothing for our pay— Except the dream that’s almost dead today. O, let America be America again— The land that never has been yet— And yet must be—the land where every man is free. The land that’s mine—the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME— Who made America, Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain, Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain, Must bring back our mighty dream again. Sure, call me any ugly name you choose— The steel of freedom does not stain. From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives, We must take back our land again, America! O, yes, I say it plain, America never was America to me, And yet I swear this oath— America will be! Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death, The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies, We, the people, must redeem The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers. The mountains and the endless plain— All, all the stretch of these great green states— And make America again!
Iconoclastic: reflections on A Grief Observed
I had to look that word up. C.S. Lewis does that to me – makes me look up words. And it’s a good one. Iconoclastic. It means “attacking or ignoring cherished beliefs and long-held traditions, etc.,as being based on error, superstition, or lack of creativity…”
In A Grief Observed, Lewis dives into the necessity of shattering our false ideas about God.
“My idea of God is not a divine idea. It has to be shattered time after time. He shatters it Himself. He is the great iconoclast. Could we not almost say that this shattering is one of the marks of His presence?”
And, of course, the main subject of the book is Lewis’ grieving the death of his wife. Therefore the following relates to the image and ‘cherished beliefs’ we have of people being shattered, particularly of loved ones. He wrestles with the fear of loving the memory of her rather than her herself. He loved her iconoclastic reality.
“All reality is iconoclastic. The earthly beloved, even in this life, incessantly triumphs over your mere idea of her. And you want her to; you want her with all her resistances, all her faults, all her unexpectedness.”
Can I swoon for a second? I want a love like that. Love that cherishes the reality of who you are and not the mere idea of you. To have the freedom to contradict the idea of yourself, and still be loved, and loved even more for being real. ❤ How many of us have lost love for not being “what I thought you were” ? Surely then, we were in love with an idea rather than a person.
If indeed we love people and God rather than our ideas of them, it is a relief when our ideas are shattered. What a relief to be shown where we are wrong! Oh, God, I didn’t know! And now “I have come to misunderstand a little less completely,” (Lewis) What a blessing it is to get that much closer to You by destroying my false ideas about You!
“And all this time I may, once more, be building with cards. And if I am He will once more knock the building flat. He will knock it down as often as proves necessary.”
And at the possibility of being even better understood by his wife after her death, he did not shrink back – confident in her love.
“For this is one of the miracles of love; it gives – to both, but perhaps especially to the woman – a power of seeing through its own enchantments and yet not being disenchanted.”
And this intimate knowledge and love is what our Savior Jesus Christ possesses for us.
“His love and His knowledge are not distinct from one another, nor from Him.”
I want to say to you, about myself, that I am a child of this age, a child of unfaith and scepticism, and probably (indeed I know it) shall remain so to the end of my life. How dreadfully has it tormented me (and torments me even now) this longing for faith, which is all the stronger for the proofs I have against it. And yet God gives me sometimes moments of perfect peace; in such moments I love and believe that I am loved; in such moments I have formulated my creed, wherein all is clear and holy to me. This creed is extremely simple; here it is: I believe that there is nothing lovelier, deeper, more sympathetic, more rational, more manly, and more perfect than the Saviour; I say to myself with jealous love that not only is there no one else like Him, but that there could be no one.
Letter To Mme. N. D. Fonvisin (1854), as published in Letters of Fyodor Michailovitch Dostoevsky to his Family and Friends (1914), translated by Ethel Golburn Mayne, Letter XXI, p. 71
The Quotable Oswald Chambers
Conformed to His Image
“If it cost God Calvary to deal with sin, we have no business to make light of it.”
“Sin is not wrong-doing, it is wrong-being – deliberate and emphatic independence of God.”
“The essence of sin is my claim to my right to myself; it goes deeper than all the sins that were ever committed… The point is, am I prepared deliberately to give up my right to myself to Jesus Christ?”
“I become a ‘Bethlehem’ for the life of the Son of God.”
“Am I willing for my human nature to be sacrificed in order that the life of the Son of God is nourished in me, or do I only want Him to see me through certain difficulties?”
“…as long as man is sufficient for himself, God can do nothing for him.”
“The essence of repentance is that it destroys the lust of self-vindication; where that lust resides, that repentance is not true.”
Reading Wishlist and Favorites
In no particular order…
Books I would like to read:
False Justice – Stuart Greaves
Jesus for President – Shane Claiborne
The Justice God is Seeking – David Ruis
Changing the World Through Kindness – Steve Sjogren
Everybody Wants to Change the World – Tony Campolo
sub-merge – John B. Hayes
Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
The Brothers Karamazov – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Loving People – Dr. John Townsend
The Four Loves – C.S. Lewis
The Problem of Pain – C.S. Lewis
The Weight of Glory – C.S. Lewis
The Abolition of Man – C.S. Lewis
George MacDonald: An Anthology – C.S. Lewis
Reflections on the Psalms – C.S. Lewis
Surprised by Joy – C.S. Lewis
Autobiography of George Muller
Beren and Lúthien – JRR Tolkien
The Silmarillion – JRR Tolkien
The Healing Presence – Leanne Payne
The Broken image – Leanne Payne
Discipline: The Glad Surrender – Elisabeth Elliot
The Path of Loneliness -Elisabeth Elliot
Be Still My Soul – Elisabeth Elliot
Keep a Quiet Heart – Elisabeth Elliot
..for real, I want to read everything Elisabeth Elliot and C.S. Lewis has written
Some of my favorite books:
*The Holy Bible
A Grief Observed – C.S. Lewis
The Hiding Place – Corrie Ten Boom
Les Miserables – Victor Hugo
When Heaven Weeps – Ted Dekker
Godiva – David Rose
These Strange Ashes – Elisabeth Elliot
Let Me Be a Woman – Elisabeth Elliot
One Thousand Gifts – Ann Voskamp
When Helping Hurts – Brian Fikkert & Steve Corbett
The Chronicles of Narnia – C.S. Lewis
Screwtape Letters – C.S. Lewis
The Space Trilogy – C.S. Lewis
The Circle Trilogy – Ted Dekker
Blessed Child – Ted Dekker & Bill Bright
A Man Called Blessed – Ted Dekker & Bill Bright
A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
Passion & Purity – Elisabeth Elliot
Quest for Love – Elisabeth Elliot
From Brokenness to Community – Jean Vanier
Compassion, Justice, and the Christian Life – Robert Lupton
Redeeming Love – Francine Rivers
Restoring the Christian Soul – Leanne Payne
The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy – JRR Tolkien
The Great Divorce – C.S. Lewis
Boundaries – Henry Cloud, John Townsend
Emotionally Healthy Spirituality – Peter Scazzero
*Conformed to His Image – Oswald Chambers
My Utmost For His Highest – Oswald Chambers
Transitions – William Bridges
Across the Spectrum -Greg Boyd, Paul Eddy
The Misery of Job and the Mercy of God – John Piper
Life as a Vapor – John Piper
Revolution in World Missions – K P Yohannan
Not Yet Married – Marshall Segal
What to do with loneliness
I recently read Elisabeth Elliot’s Passion & Purity, and I really want to hold on to the advice given in here.
“What to do with Loneliness” – Elisabeth Elliot
Be still and know that He is God. When you are lonely, too much stillness is exactly the thing that seems to be laying waste to your soul. Use that stillness to quiet your heart before God. Get to know Him. If He is God, He is still in charge.
Remember that you are not alone. “It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Jesus promised His disciples, “I am with you always.” (Matt 28:20) Never mind if you cannot feel His presence. He is there, never for one moment forgetting you.
Give thanks. In times of my greatest loneliness, I have been lifted up by the promise of 2 Corinthians 4:17,18, “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.” This is something to thank God for. This loneliness itself, which seems like a weight, will be far outweighed by
Refuse self-pity. Refuse it absolutely. It is a deadly thing with power to destroy you. Turn your thoughts to Christ who has already carried your griefs and sorrows.
Accept your loneliness. It is one stage, and only one stage, on a journey that brings you to God. It will not always last.
Offer up your loneliness to God, as the little boy offered to Jesus his five loaves and two fishes. God can transform it for the good of others.
Do something for somebody else. No matter who or where you are, there is something you can do, somebody who needs you. Pray that you may be an instrument of God’s peace, that where there is loneliness you may bring joy.