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Friday, September 19, 2014

Shanghai Rain

Chinese Christian songs you might enjoy.

The rain dripped like tears from the sky. It gathered in rivulets on a dark green walkway overhang and separated again as it ran down metal poles to the ground. A bicycle speeds by, splashing a muddy puddle over an older man walking on the sidewalk. Bright, bobbing umbrellas and clear rain ponchos appear in my vision and then hurry past, disappearing beyond the next building on Pudong Street.
At the entrance of the apartment complex, under an arched bridge, two watchmen stay huddled at their posts on either side of the road.  From my window up on the fifth floor, I am dry and warm, but a feeling of dampness and cold sadness permeates my being. A delicious smell of curry and Indian food lingers in the apartment. 

A solitary figure appears below and then is obscured under the green walkway. He walks across the stone pavement and down four shallow stone steps, to the entrance of the apartment complex. 

It is the afternoon. A sunday. I enjoyed meeting around the Lord’s name with a group of believers in the morning. We sang hymns in pinyin Chinese and some in English. A simple plate with a loaf of bread and a cup with grape juice was on the coffee table in the middle of the room. After a delicious lunch and time for fellowship, the gathering of people has dispersed into the rain. There are just two people left in the now quiet apartment…. My dad and I. Our hosts left for the airport to fly back to the US, leaving us their apartment.

I am feeling sorry for myself and angry that life has to be this way. Arrivals and Departures. Hellos and Goodbyes. I will never get comfortably acquainted with those stark facts. This is when I need to remember that the Lord is always with me. He is present as my refuge and my strength.

God is our refuge and strength, 
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, 
Even though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
Though its waters roar and be troubled, 
Though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah

Psalm 46:1-3
       Photo taken by me.

When I am back home in the United States, far from China, separated by 14 hours, land, and several bodies of water, I think back to my memories and am glad that the Lord gave me a brain to record experiences for later musing. I am thankful for the privilege to travel to far away countries. My life is so much richer for it. Tasting new wonderful foods, hearing an unfamiliar language, smelling Chinese flowers, soaking up the clamor and rush in a  crowd of bustling souls. Riding the subway in Hong Kong. Finding station connections on the map. Talking with fellow Christ Followers and enjoying their hospitality and kindness. 
It is 9:00 pm Saturday night here at home. At the same time, it is 10:00 am Sunday morning in China. I pray for the believers who are gathered in Christ’s name, some at great risk, obedient to His command to remember His sacrificial death and resurrection once a week. I think of the Hebrew word mizpah, meaning watchtower. It also can mean; God be with you till we meet again. 
For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” 
For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.
1 Corinthians 11:23-26 

How do you deal with saying goodbye to people? What is your favorite travel memory? 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Hebrews in September Challenge

I have been studying Hebrews this September with a group of other Christian young women. The interesting thing is, I have only met a few of them face to face. The others I have "met" through an email group where we share thoughts and gleanings from our study of Hebrews. This is my reading schedule:
Day 1: Read Hebrews chapters 1-6
Day 2: Read Hebrews  chapters 7-13
Day 3: Repeat as before...

I thought I'd share some of my thoughts here. 

I noticed these verses, "My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son." (Heb. 12: 5a - 6) 

If we are the Lord's sons (and daughters) then we can expect discipline just like an earthly father disciplines us. It is actually a sign that we are one of His, if we experience hardships and painful things in our life. 

"Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it." Heb. 12:11

In our culture today, people use the word Jesus a lot, and hardly ever use His full name, Jesus Christ, or the Lord Jesus Christ. These verses reminded me that we serve a Holy God and we should be reverent and have godly fear in His presence. At times, I can almost forget that God is a real person, because He is invisible. But He is real and alive, and He speaks to us through His Word if we are just willing to slow down and read it! 

"Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.  For our God is a consuming fire." Heb. 12:28-29

It is wonderful to know that Christ is our High Priest,  and he knows what it is like to be tempted. Yet, he was without sin. He extends mercy and grace to us, when we are in desperate need of it. 

"For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." 
Heb. 4:15-16

What about you? Have you been reading or studying a certain passage in Scripture?
What have you learned from it?