Laudable Linkage

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Here are some noteworthy reads found recently.

On Giving Criticism As a Christian, HT to Challies.

Personality Assessments and the Wondrous Knowledge of Being Known, HT to True Woman. While some personality tests are helpful, Lore Ferguson Wilbert says, they are limited. “I cannot worship at the altar of my personality, but I can look at it honestly and ask the creator God to make and remake me until Christ comes again.”

Biblical CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) vs. Worldly CBT in relation to depression, HT to Challies. Applying truth to our thoughts.

5 Better Ways to “Argue” About Social Injustice, HT to Challies. If you’re not aware of it, there’s a maelstrom all over the internet concerning just how social justice should be exercised and to what degree it should be under the purview of churches and governments. As with most online storms, there’s more conjecture, accusation, and misrepresentation than there is real conversation.

Lawnmower Parents Are the New Helicopter Parents, HT to Story Warren. “Lawnmower parents go to whatever lengths necessary to prevent their child from having to face adversity, struggle, or failure. Instead of preparing children for challenges, they mow obstacles down so kids won’t experience them in the first place…But in raising children who have experienced minimal struggle, we are not creating a happier generation of kids. We are creating a generation that has no what idea what to do when they actually encounter struggle. A generation who panics or shuts down at the mere idea of failure. A generation for whom failure is far too painful, leaving them with coping mechanisms like addiction, blame, and internalization.”

Hope When Hope Is Lost, HT to Out of the Ordinary. “While we commemorate the stories of freedom fighters, we tend to overlook the vast majority of regular people like my grandmother whose own hopes were sacrificed on the altar of someone else’s ideologies, ambitions, or societal norms. Their stories deserve to be heard as well.”

When Disability Makes Your World Feel Small.

A Writer’s Prayer, HT to Out of the Ordinary.

I’ve read biographies of Amy Carmichael, one of them a few times, and several of her own books. So seeing this tour of the Dohnavur compound that the Lord enabled her to build, where she lived and ministered most of her life and where she died and is buried, meant a lot to me. It was neat to see there are still people there who knew her personally.

31 Days with Elisabeth Elliot: Loneliness

Elisabeth Elliot2

This is from Elisabeth’s book On Asking God Why, from a chapter entitled “Singleness Is a Gift”  drawn from the life of Amy Carmichael. Because of its length, I am not adding any commentary.

With all her heart she determined to please him who had chosen her to be his soldier. She was awed by the privilege. She accepted the disciplines.

Loneliness was one of those disciplines. How–the modern young person always wants to know–did she “handle” it? Amy Carmichael would not have had the slightest idea what the questioner was talking about. “Handle” loneliness? Why, it was part of the cost of obedience, of course. Everybody is lonely in some way, the single in one way, the married in another; the missionary in certain obvious ways, the schoolteacher, the mother, the bank teller in others.

Amy had a dear co-worker whom she nicknamed Twin. At a missions conference they found that in the posted dinner lists, Twin and a friend named Mina had been seated side by side.

“Well, I was very glad that dear Mina should have Twin,” Amy wrote to her family, “and I don’t think I grudged her to her one little bit, and yet at the bottom of my heart there was just a touch of disappointment, for I had almost fancied I had somebody of my very own again, and there was a little ache somewhere. I could not rejoice in it. . .I longed, yes longed, to be glad, to be filled with such a wealth of unselfish love that I should be far gladder to see those two together than I should have been to have had Twin to myself. And while I was asking for it, it came. For the very first time I felt a rush, a real joy in it, His joy, a thing one cannot pump up or imitate or force in any way. . .Half-unconsciously, perhaps, I had been saying, ‘Thou and Twin are enough for me’–one so soon clings to the gift instead of only to the Giver.”

Her letter then continued with a stanza from the Frances Ridley Havergal hymn:

Take my love, my Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure-store.
Take myself and I will be
Ever, only, all for thee.

After writing this, Amy felt inclined to tear it out of the letter. It was too personal, too humiliating. But she decided the Lord wanted her to let it stand, to tell its tale of weakness and of God’s strength. She was finding firsthand that missionaries are not apart from the rest of the human race, not purer, nobler, higher.

“Wings are an illusive fallacy,” she wrote. “Some may possess them, but they are not very visible, and as for me, there isn’t the least sign of a feather. Don’t imagine that by crossing the sea and landing on a foreign shore and learning a foreign lingo you ‘burst the bonds of outer sin and hatch yourself a cherubim.’ “

Amy landed in India in 1897 and spent the first few years in itinerant evangelism. She began to uncover a secret traffic in little girls who were being sold or given for temple prostitution. She prayed that God would enable her find a way to rescue some of them, even though not one had ever been known to escape.

Several years later, God began to answer that prayer…and in a few years Amy Carmichael was Amma (“Mother”) to a rapidly growing Indian family that, by the late 1940s, numbered about 900. In a specially literal way the words of Jesus seemed to have been fulfilled: “Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life” (Matthew 19:29).

In answer to a question from one of her children who years later had become a close fellow worker, Amy described a transaction in a cave. She had gone there to spend the day with God and face her feelings of fear about the future. Things were all right at the moment, but could she endure years of being alone?

The Devil painted pictures of loneliness that were vivid to her years later. She turned to the Lord in desperation. “What can I do, Lord? How can I go on to the end?”

His answer: ”None of them that trust in me shall be desolate” (from Psalms 34:22 KJV). So she did not “handle” loneliness–she handed it to her Lord and trusted his Word.

“There is a secret discipline appointed for every man and woman whose life is lived for others,” she wrote. “No one escapes that discipline, nor would wish to escape it; nor can any shelter another from it.”

Her commitment to obedience was unconditional. Finding that singleness was the condition her Master had appointed for her, she received it with both hands, willing to renounce all rights for his sake and, although she could not have imagined it at the time, for the sake of the children he would give her–a job she could not possibly have done if she had had a family of her own.

Many whose houses, for one reason or another, seem empty, and the lessons of solitude hard to learn, have found strength and comfort in the following Amy Carmichael poem:

O Prince of Glory, who dost bring
Thy sons to glory through Thy Cross,
Let me not shrink from suffering,
Reproach or loss .…

If Thy dear Home be fuller, Lord,
For that a little emptier
My house on earth, what rich reward
That guerdon* were.

 *recompense; something earned or gained

See all the posts in this series here.

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DaySpring.com is celebrating all of the amazing Write 31 Days readers who are supporting nearly 2,000 writers this October! To enter to win a $500 DaySpring shopping spree, just click on this link & follow the giveaway widget instructions by October 30. Best wishes, and thanks for reading!

31 Days of Inspirational Biography: Mimosa

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Sometimes people who work in children’s ministries can get discouraged due to the seeming lack of fruit or the fact that they have some children just a few times and then never see them again. Mimosa by Amy Carmichael tells the story of a little girl who was marvelously changed by just a short encounter with the gospel.

When Amy Carmichael was a missionary in India she learned that some little girls were sold to the temples for immoral purposes. Whenever she could, she tried to rescue these girls, to talk their parents into letting them stay with her instead. One such little girl was named Star. She had been with Amy for a while when her father came, bringing her sister, Mimosa, with him, to try to take Star back. He met and talked with Amy and Mr. Walker, the director, and at one point even stretched out his arm to take Star — yet he felt he could not move, that some strange power was preventing him.

Mimosa saw this. Some of the workers had a short time to talk with her, not even time enough to present the gospel completely. Mimosa asked her father to let her stay: he would not hear of it.

Those who had met with Mimosa longed for her: she seemed intelligent and interested. They lamented that they had not had time to tell her more. “How could she possibly remember what we had told her? It was impossible to expect her to remember……Impossible? Is there such a word where the things of the Lord are concerned?”

Something of what she heard about a God who loved her stayed with her. She knew instinctively she could no longer rub the ashes of her family’s god on her forehead, as was their custom. The women in the house thought her naughty or “bewitched” and beat her with a stick. She was bewildered, but she knew God loved her, in spite of all she could not understand of her circumstances.

After she was married at age seventeen, she found she had been deceived by her husband’s family: He was “landless [and] neck-deep in debt.” It was no shame to be in debt: in that culture: “”If you have no debt, does it not follow that no one trusts you enough to lend you anything, and from that is it not obvious that you are a person of small consequence?” But Mimosa’s character could not endure it, though she had never been taught against it. She encouraged him to sell the land in her name, the only piece of land he had that he had given as a dowry, to pay off the debt, and then suggested they would work. He was amazed at such a thing, but agreed. His unscrupulous elder brother suggested they start a salt market and that Mimosa sell her jewels to get them set up: he would take care of it. He instead somehow misused the money. She gave some money to her mother to keep for her, but then her mother would not give it to her when she asked for it: her mother was angry with her over the loss of the jewels that had been passed to her. “Let thy God help thee!” she told her daughter.

Mimosa went out to pray: “O God, my husband has deceived me, his brother has deceived me, even my mother has deceived me, but You will not deceive me…Yes, they have all deceived me, but I am not offended with you. Whatever You do is good. What should I do without you? You are the Giver of health and strength and will to work. Are not these things better than riches or people’s help?….I am an emptiness for You to fill.”

Thus her life went. She was a derision because she would not worship the false gods or engage in idolatrous practices. She worked hard because her husband would not. There were times when she was weak and could not work that God worked in unusual ways to provide for her. She had three sons; then a snake bite left her husband blind and crazy. In a couple of instances she received a bit more information about the God she loved, and she clung to it and to Him.

Meanwhile, Star was concerned for her sister. She felt led to write to her and prayed someone would read the letter to Mimosa. A cousin did read it to her, as often as Mimosa asked him, but neither of them thought to write back to Star, so she and the ladies of Dohnavur were left to wonder and pray.

A mysterious illness which took the life of one of her sons caused the neighbors to torment her further with their words. They felt it was all her fault since she would do nothing to appease the gods. Mimosa replied, “ My child God gave; my child has God taken. It is well.” Though weak, ill, grieving, and alone, she still told God, “I am not offended with you.”

The years followed in much the same way. She had two more sons. The oldest one was taken by the father (who had regained something of his right mind) to another town to work but, to Mimosa’s grief, required him to rub the god’s ashes on his forehead.

She began to long that her children should have “what she had never had, the chance to learn fully of the true and living and holy God and themselves choose His worship.” It would take too much space here to tell how God wondrously worked out the all the details to go to Dohnavur, even, miraculously, her husband’s approval. Her sister, Star, was strongly burdened to pray for Mimosa and discovered later that was just the time when all of this was coming to pass. Twenty-two years after she first visited Dohnavur, she returned. It can only be imagined what she felt as she soaked up Christian fellowship, learned to read, studied the Bible, was baptized. After a time she went back to her husband, determined to win him. He was in a less tolerant caste, yet amazingly he did not put her away. Her life was not easy. “But then, she has not asked for ease; she has asked for the shield of patience that she may overcome.”

“Is not the courage of the love of God amazing?” Amy Carmichael wrote. “Could human love have asked it of a soul? Fortitude based on knowledge so slender; deathless, dauntless faith — who could have dared to ask it but the Lord God Himself? And what could have held her but Love Omnipotent?”

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For the 31 Days writing challenge, I am sharing 31 Days of Inspirational Biography. You can find others in the series here.

31 Days of Missionary Stories: Amy Carmichael and Singleness

If you’ll indulge me one more anecdote from the life of Amy Carmichael, the following vignette is excerpted from a chapter entitled “Singleness Is a Gift” from the book On Asking God Why by Elisabeth Elliot.

Amy CarmichaelWith all her heart she determined to please him who had chosen her to be his soldier. She was awed by the privilege. She accepted the disciplines.

Loneliness was one of those disciplines. How–the modern young person always wants to know–did she “handle” it? Amy Carmichael would not have had the slightest idea what the questioner was talking about. “Handle” loneliness? Why, it was part of the cost of obedience, of course. Everybody is lonely in some way, the single in one way, the married in another; the missionary in certain obvious ways, the schoolteacher, the mother, the bank teller in others.

Amy had a dear co-worker whom she nicknamed Twin. At a missions conference they found that in the posted dinner lists, Twin and a friend named Mina had been seated side by side.

“Well, I was very glad that dear Mina should have Twin,” Amy wrote to her family, “and I don’t think I grudged her to her one little bit, and yet at the bottom of my heart there was just a touch of disappointment, for I had almost fancied I had somebody of my very own again, and there was a little ache somewhere. I could not rejoice in it. . .I longed, yes longed, to be glad, to be filled with such a wealth of unselfish love that I should be far gladder to see those two together than I should have been to have had Twin to myself. And while I was asking for it, it came. For the very first time I felt a rush, a real joy in it, His joy, a thing one cannot pump up or imitate or force in any way. . .Half-unconsciously, perhaps, I had been saying, ‘Thou and Twin are enough for me’–one so soon clings to the gift instead of only to the Giver.”

Her letter then continued with a stanza from the Frances Ridley Havergal hymn:

Take my love, my Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure-store.
Take myself and I will be
Ever, only, all for thee.

After writing this, Amy felt inclined to tear it out of the letter. It was too personal, too humiliating. But she decided the Lord wanted her to let it stand, to tell its tale of weakness and of God’s strength. She was finding firsthand that missionaries are not apart from the rest of the human race, not purer, nobler, higher.

“Wings are an illusive fallacy,” she wrote. “Some may possess them, but they are not very visible, and as for me, there isn’t the least sign of a feather. Don’t imagine that by crossing the sea and landing on a foreign shore and learning a foreign lingo you ‘burst the bonds of outer sin and hatch yourself a cherubim.’ “

Amy landed in India in 1897 and spent the first few years in itinerant evangelism. She began to uncover a secret traffic in little girls who were being sold or given for temple prostitution. She prayed that God would enable her find a way to rescue some of them, even though not one had ever been known to escape.

Several years later, God began to answer that prayer…and in a few years Amy Carmichael was Amma (“Mother”) to a rapidly growing Indian family that, by the late 1940s, numbered about 900. In a specially literal way the words of Jesus seemed to have been fulfilled: “Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life” (Matthew 19:29).

In answer to a question from one of her children who years later had become a close fellow worker, Amy described a transaction in a cave. She had gone there to spend the day with God and face her feelings of fear about the future. Things were all right at the moment, but could she endure years of being alone?

The Devil painted pictures of loneliness that were vivid to her years later. She turned to the Lord in desperation. “What can I do, Lord? How can I go on to the end?”

His answer: ”None of them that trust in me shall be desolate” (from Psalms 34:22 KJV). So she did not “handle” loneliness–she handed it to her Lord and trusted his Word.

“There is a secret discipline appointed for every man and woman whose life is lived for others,” she wrote. “No one escapes that discipline, nor would wish to escape it; nor can any shelter another from it.”

Her commitment to obedience was unconditional. Finding that singleness was the condition her Master had appointed for her, she received it with both hands, willing to renounce all rights for his sake and, although she could not have imagined it at the time, for the sake of the children he would give her–a job she could not possibly have done if she had had a family of her own.

Many whose houses, for one reason or another, seem empty, and the lessons of solitude hard to learn, have found strength and comfort in the following Amy Carmichael poem:

O Prince of Glory, who dost bring
Thy sons to glory through Thy Cross,
Let me not shrink from suffering,
Reproach or loss .…

If Thy dear Home be fuller, Lord,
For that a little emptier
My house on earth, what rich reward
That guerdon* were.

 *recompense; something earned or gained

 (You can see a list of other posts in the 31 Days of Missionary Stories here.)

Other posts about Amy Carmichael:

Isn’t “No” an Answer?
What We Wanted All the Time.
Missionaries’ Letters to Mothers.
It’s the Little Things.
The Melting Point.
Thy Calvary Stills All Our Questions
From the worlding’s hollow gladness.
Make Me Thy Fuel.
Shadow and Coolness.
With All Our Feebleness.
Amy Learns to Die to Self.
A Book of Amy Carmichael Poems.

31 Days of Missionary Stories: Amy Carmichael Learns to Die to Self

I mentioned Amy Carmichael yesterday: she was one of the first missionaries I ever read  about, and her life has had a tremendous impact on me as well as on most who read about her. She would have been appalled at the thought of any attention directed toward her, but a look at her life is reveals what it is to walk closely in love and obedience to God. She was a missionary from Ireland who worked in India from 1895 to 1951 without a furlough.

One of the lessons from her life that has stayed with me over the years (in my mind, at least: it is still far from being worked out in practice as often as it should be) comes from her earliest days in India. In Amy Carmichael of Dohnavur, author Frank L. Houghton records that Amy wrote that one of the group of missionaries she first worked with was

unfair and curiously dominating in certain ways and words. One day I felt the “I” in me rising hotly, and quite clearly — so clearly that I could show you the place on the floor of the room where I was standing when I heard it — the word came, “See in it a chance to die.” To this day that word is life and release to me, and it has been to many others. See in this which seems to stir up all you most wish were not stirred up — see in it a chance to die to self in every form. Accept it as just that – a chance to die.

“And [Jesus] said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23). Often we think of dying to self in the big, martyr-like ways. Yet it is in those everyday situations where, as Amy aptly put it, the “I” in us “rises hotly” that we need to deny self.

(You can see a list of other posts in the 31 Days of Missionary Stories here.)

31 Days of Missionary Stories: With All Our Feebleness

Hebrews 11 is sometimes called the hall of fame of faith or the Christian Hall of Fame, telling of the victories and triumphs of various people in the Bible. But verse 36 has a rather startling turn: “and others…” were tortured, tried, stoned, made to wander in deserts. That doesn’t sound very victorious. But they all “obtained a good report through faith,” though they  had “received not the promise” yet (verse 39).

amy-carmichael-2Probably many Christians are more familiar with the name of Amy Carmichael than of some of the other missionaries I’ve mentioned in this series. Most know that she was missionary to India. She began a rather robust itinerant evangelistic ministry with a group of other women, but when God began bringing children her way whose families were going to sell them to temples for illicit purposes, she gradually became convinced that He would have her care for these children, though it meant a drastic change in her ministry and lifestyle. Over time a whole compound known as Dohnavur was developed.

What some may not know is that she was an invalid for the last 20 years or so of her life. She remained in India, still in charge of Dohnavur, still encouraging, advising, praying, and writing, but she was in much pain and had limited mobility those years. In Amy Carmichael of Dohnavur by Frank Houghton, he includes this poem before telling of this part of her life:

Two glad services are ours,
Both the Master loves to bless.
First we serve with all our powers–
Then with all our feebleness.

Nothing else the soul uplifts,
Save to serve Him night and day,
Serve Him when He gives His gifts–
Serve Him when He takes away.

~ C. A. Fox

Elisabeth Elliot said of limitations, “For it is with the equipment that I have been given that I am to glorify God. It is this job, not that one, that He gave me.” The limitations that we think are hindering our ministry are often the very thing God uses to shape our ministry for Him.

One day Amy received a shipment of tracts for the ill. As she read them, they just did not do anything for her. As she pondered that, she realized it was because they were written from well people telling sick people how they ought to feel. Over many years she had written notes of encouragement to various ones in the Dohnavur Hospital (named, in the descriptive Indian way, Place of Heavenly Healing), and some of these were compiled in a book titled Rose From Brier. They are rich in their spiritual encouragement and insight, partly precisely because they were written by one who had shared in the fellowship of sufferings.

In another of Amy’s books, she wrote the following:

This prayer was written for the ill and for the very tired. It is so easy to fail when not feeling fit. As I thought of them, I also remembered those who, thank God, are not ill and yet can be hard-pressed. Sometimes in the midst of the rush of things it seems impossible always to be peaceful, always to be inwardly sweet. Is that not so? Yet that and nothing less is our high calling. So the prayer is really for us all.

Before the winds that blow do cease,
Teach me to dwell within Thy calm;
Before the pain has passed in peace,
Give me, my God, to sing a psalm,
Let me not lose the chance to prove
The fulness of enabling love,
O Love of God, do this for me;
Maintain a constant victory.

Before I leave the desert land
For meadows of immortal flowers,
Lead me where streams at Thy command
Flow by the borders of the hours,
That when the thirsty come, I may
Show them the fountains in the way.
O Love of God, do this for me;
Maintain a constant victory.

Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.
For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.
II Corinthian 1:3-5

God hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.
Genesis 41:52b

(You can see a list of other posts in the 31 Days of Missionary Stories here.)