Friday, August 31, 2012

How God Orchestrated Our Ellerslie Semester

The Summer 2012 Basic Semester at Ellerslie was full of what God did. It went far beyond what any of the staff could have done to intentionally orchestrate the circumstances. It is such a privilege to see God at work, and I want to remember the story.

Dates of the semester: June 16 - August 20, 2012

I'm counting June 16 as day 1 for purposes of seeing significant numbered days. Numbers were rather significant to us during the semester. For instance, we felt very special to be the 7th Basic semester that Ellerslie had conducted since its inception in 2010.

Week 1
I arrived late (due to missing my flight), so my first experience at Ellerslie was walking into the church at Ellerslie in the middle of Eric's sermon, A Distracted Devotion. It was all about Jacob and Esau and the way they illustrate the difference between the flesh and the spirit, and how Jacob's moment of wrestling with the angel of God, saying "I will not let you go unless you bless me," illustrates the way we ought to find our success in Christianity. Rather than being the "heel-grabber," we ought to grab hold of God.

I remember a sense of anticipation building within me from the moment I walked in the door. "Oh my goodness! He's talking about the difference between walking in the flesh and walking in the spirit. Maybe finally someone can explain it to me! Maybe I'll finally learn how to walk in the spirit and not experience the constant defeat of the flesh," I thought.

That night, Eric heightened the sense of anticipation when he gave his message Majesty Lost. I remember sitting there, listening to him speak, and experiencing him raise our expectations to a whole new level of what God was going to do with the semester. "Whoa..." I thought. "He's setting the bar pretty high. In fact, he's setting the bar extremely high. Is this semester going to be able to live up to this promise?"

Little did I know that God would far exceed my expectations, and far exceed even the "raised expectations" that Sunday's messages created. Little did I know how profoundly my life was about to change.

Our sessions that week were basic, foundational messages that established the basis on which all of our future training was to stand. Particularly significant for me were the messages The Anatomy of Faith, The Body, and In Christ. These messages were so simple, yet so profound, and they further stimulated my appetite for what was to come.

However, I remember that whole week having a sinking feeling of dread, wondering, "What if everyone else gets it, and I am the only one left out? I have been so close to these truths for so long--I have read about them, I have searched them out, I have studied them, but I haven't yet lived them. What if I just stay in that "stuck" place, while everyone around me moves on and enjoys the beautiful closeness with God that we're all hearing about?"

I was not alone. Many others that I talked to experienced a similar feeling, describing a vague hopelessness, a fear that everyone else would "get it" except for them. I think that was just the enemy's tactic to try to make us all feel alone. However, God had big things in store for us, and the enemy would have no place, no role in what was to happen in our lives.

At the end of that week, I wrote the following in my journal:

I am here at Ellerslie—this day marks one week since I’ve arrived. 
How rich has been the teaching and preaching! How stirred I have been to respond to God. How much truth we have received! 
Messages like “The Anatomy of Faith” and “In Christ” have been full of light and help. 
But I still felt like I was short of a breakthrough. I still felt walled in, stuck, unable to reach God with my own power, full of self, and needing the fulness of Christ to break me, change me, and bring me to life. 
Friday afternoon I wrote a blog post about the message “The Anatomy of Faith.” Friday night I had already gone to bed, and I was lying there thinking about the same topic when a thought came to me. “You know, think of all the people that Jesus healed by saying to them, “Arise, take up thy bed, and walk.” There were lame people, paralyzed people, DEAD people. Jesus just commanded them to get up.
“What if those people looked at Experience rather than Fact when Jesus told them to get up?” I thought. Experience says, “I’m stuck here on this bed. I can’t get up. Obviously, my track record is so bad, it’s hopeless.” Somehow, Jesus’s command came with the power to obey it. Jesus’s word has been given out. How absurd it would be to say, “Jesus, don’t you see that I’m here on the bed? Don’t you see that I can’t get up?” 
It would be like saying, “I remember that I was dead, so therefore, I must still be dead.” It would be looking back to past experience, rather than looking forward in faith to the unchangeable Word of God. 
I thought about the 12-year-old daughter of Jairus. Jesus says, “Damsel, I say to thee, arise,” and she gets up and eats some food. But what if she went back and lay on the bed and said to herself, “I know I was dead, so I’m going to act dead. I really can’t get up out of bed.” What if she lay there and closed her eyes and folded her hands peacefully on her breast? What if she took the opinion of all the mourners who laughed Jesus to scorn when he said that she was not dead, but merely sleeping? Jesus had raised her from the dead to be alive! Even if she acted dead, it would be an absurdity, because there would be a pulse. There would be breath. There would be activity of the mind that would chafe under lying completely still on a bed for hours on end. Pretty soon she would get hungry or bored or have to go to the bathroom, and she would inevitably get up. But what if she went back and lay down and never did anything except lie there as if she was dead? 
These thoughts all flashed through my mind in an instant. 
The next instant came His voice.
“Rise up.” 
“Me?” I thought. 
“YOU. Arise to life.” 
As a symbol of my response, I sat up in bed. I stretched out my arms to him. “Here I am Lord, alive.” Then I lay back down and slept sweetly and peacefully through the night.
Saturday morning I took a walk down a trail that comes right through here, and I was just thrilling with the dawn of a new day in my soul. I walked down and found a fallen tree to sit on, and I sat there and prayed. Somehow God sealed it all to my heart. I started quoting to myself Romans 6, 7, and 8, and it all just started clicking into place, like a row of dominoes cascading. Each idea fell onto the next idea, until I was just so excited, and so full of glory, and so ablaze with life, that I knew I would never again return to death. Jesus has called me forth into the dawn, and the darkness of doubt and confusion is never to return. 
May the name of the Lord be glorified. His I am for eternity. He can do whatever He wants. 
Here I come to Thee, O Lord. I will not pitch my tent. I come, pursuing You, trusting You, and delighting in You. Shine out of me and do the work You want to do. I’m yours.

Could it get any better than this? Could I ask for anything more than that? If I went home at the end of week one, even if that was all there was to the Ellerslie training, I could have been satisfied. I had already received such a major boost, such a thrust forward in my Christian life, that I could have gone on to press forward into the endless frontier from there.

But there was still more to come. We pressed on together into the endless frontier, being boosted further by the faith and knowledge of the staff at Ellerslie.

To Be Continued...

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Back-to-School quotes

With college classes starting and people going back to school, here are some encouraging and thought-provoking quotes for you to consider as you study.

Preparation of the mind

“Though these young men unhappily fail to understand that the sacrifice of life is, in many cases, the easiest of all sacrifices, and that to sacrifice, for instance, five or six years of their seething youth to hard and tedious study, if only to multiply ten-fold their powers of serving the truth and the cause they have set before them as their goal—such a sacrifice is utterly beyond the strength of many of them.”—Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov, p. 20-21.

“The unprepared mind cannot see the outstretched hand of opportunity.”—Alexander Fleming, discoverer of penicillin.

"Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up." —Thomas A. Edison

Use of time
"Guard well your spare moments. They are like uncut diamonds. Discard them and their value will never be known. Improve them and they will become the brightest gems in a useful life."
—Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Labor, therefore, my dear boy, and improve the time. In youth, our steps are light, and our minds are ductile, and knowledge is easily laid up; but if we neglect our spring, our summer will be useless and contemptible, our harvest will be chaff, and our winter of old age unrespected and desolate.”
—Sir Walter Scott to son Charles, quoted in Gaining Favor With God and Man by William M. Thayer 

"It is idleness that creates impossibilities; and where people don't care to do anything, they shelter themselves under a permission that it cannot be done." ~ Bishop Robert South

Wise Cautions  
“A mind perpetually open will be a mind perpetually vacant”
—Bertrand Russell

"That spiritual danger exists in an intense application of the mind to these studies, he was so deeply sensible at a latter period of his life, as on a review of this particular time, most gratefully to acknowledge, that “the mercy of God prevented the extinction of that spark of grace which his spirit had kindled.” At the moment of his exposure to this peril he was less conscious of it; but we may perceive, from the following letter to his youngest sister, that he was not wholly devoid of circumspection on this head. Having shortly, and with much simplicity, announced that his name stood first upon the list at the college examination, in the summer of the year 1800, he thus expresses himself: “…Though I think my employment in life gives me peculiar advantages, in some respects, with regard to a religious knowledge, yet with regard to having a practical sense of things on the mind, it is by far the worst of any. For the laborer, as he drives on his plough, and the weaver who works at his loom, may have their thoughts entirely disengaged from their work, and may think with advantage upon any religious subject. But the nature of our studies requires such a deep abstraction of the mind from all things, as completely to render it incapable of any thing else during many hours of the day.”—John Sargent, Memoirs of the Rev. Henry Martyn, p. 25-27

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Budget Cut vs. Pay Raise

The tempter sought to lodge self-pity with my soul regarding my knee.

"Can you believe God would do this to you?" he whispered Monday night. "Just when you have so much to do. And now you're going to suffer with this for the rest of your life. The rest of your life, mind you. Just think how you have been weakened."

I turned to the Lord. "Lord, it feels like my natural strength has gotten a budget cut. I no longer have the resources I used to have. What do I do about it?"

"A budget cut on your natural strength is a budget increase of my grace," He replied.

A big smile spread over my face and self-pity fled. All the more reason to leap! This is not like a budget cut after all! It's like getting a pay raise. I excitedly anticipated the extra measure of grace that God would provide through this situation. For the first time in my life, I could sense a tiny measure of what Paul was talking about in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10:

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

It also reminded me of the no-holds-barred promise of 2 Cor. 9:8. Count the words "all," "every," and "abound."
And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:

~ ~ ~

I did get my knee checked out on Tuesday, and the doctor said my MCL was sprained. Yes! ONLY a sprain! That means I don't need to have an MRI, surgery, or even an x-ray. I just have to keep it immobilized for a few weeks and wear a brace for a few weeks after that, and it will heal. Praise the Lord! What a relief! So I won't suffer with it for the rest of my life. Hooray!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A chance to leap

I think I totally weirded out my parents on Sunday. I leaped for joy, a pitiful little one-legged leap that was nonetheless full of joy and worship. And I choose to rejoice and thank God for this circumstance, because it is a chance to experience more fullness of His abundant grace.

Sunday afternoon after church, we had the most wonderful opportunity: A man from church took us out on his boat to water ski on a nearby lake. Ah! It was so much fun! I had water skied once before, when I was 15, so I didn't really know what I was doing, but I was able to get up on my feet on my second try, and we zoomed off down the lake. Pretty soon I discovered how to cross back and forth across the wake of the boat, and before long, the daredevilry in me came out and I was jumping as high as I could when I would go over the wake. (Don't get any ideas of this being anything dramatic or impressive--I was not strong enough or skilled enough to get much air.)

But I wiped out, and my left ski acted like a screwdriver on my leg, twisting my knee in a rapid jerk. Something popped. I fell limply onto my back with a moan, holding my knee. The boat circled back around to get me, and my dad helped me climb up the ladder on my good leg. I spent the rest of the time sitting in the boat with my left leg stretched out on the seat and became the official photographer while my siblings performed dramatic and daring exploits on the water skis and the slalom ski.

Mr. Long, the owner of the boat, dazzled us all with his exploits on the slalom ski.

Dad looks on with interest and pride in his athletic kids

So now I'm hobbling around, enjoying the support of a borrowed knee brace. I suspect it's a case of "there goes my knee forever."

Sunday night when I got home, I verbally thanked God and did the best leap for joy I could manage. My dad saw me and didn't know what was going on. "Just be careful, now," he cautioned me. I smiled to myself, leaping in my heart, looking forward to what God is going to do.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Bananas in prison

Darlene Deibler Rose was a missionary in Indonesia and was captured and imprisoned by the Japanese during World War II. She writes her story in Evidence Not Seen, a gripping, unforgettable book. Here is one of my favorite stories. Darlene is in a cell that has a window overlooking the courtyard. She looks out to see Margaret Kemp, one of her fellow missionaries, who was also imprisoned.

~ ~ ~ ~

About a week later, at the time of day when the guard herded the women from the front cell block into the courtyard, I decided to check on Margaret Kemp. There she was in my housecoat. I was so pleased that she had it and wished I dared call to her. With her in the graveled courtyard were several native women prisoners. They had been jailed for minor misdemeanors and were allowed to take air and exercise afternoons in the courtyard, whenever it pleased the officer in charge.

The actions of one woman in particular fascinated me. Every time the sentry on duty turned his back to her and marched to the other side of the courtyard, she inched over toward a fence covered with Honolulu Creeper. When the guard clicked his heels, turned about, and began to stroll in her direction, she stopped. There he went, and there she went. "Aha, intrigue. She's going to make contact with someone who's hidden in those vines. Isn't this exciting! Oh, do be careful. With no books to read, I'll watch the drama taking place here before my very eyes!" I empathized with her. I wanted her to succeed, and not to be caught. Finally, reaching the vine-covered fence, the woman stood very still. The guard clicked his heels and went off again. At that moment, I saw a hand shoot through the tangle of vine. It held a big bunch of bananas. Quickly she grabbed the bananas, slipped them into the folds of her sarong, and strolled nonchalantly back to join the other women. Nobody knew she had those bananas. But I did--bananas!

I dropped to the floor of my cell. Exhausted from my efforts, I shook all over. Worse still, I began to crave bananas. Everything in me wanted one. I could see them; I could smell them; I could taste them. I got down on my knees and said, "Lord, I'm not asking you for a whole bunch like that woman has. I just want one banana." I looked up and pleaded, "Lord, just one banana."

Then I began to rationalize--how could God possibly get a banana to me through these prison walls? I would never ask the guard. If he helped me and was discovered, it would mean reprisals. I would certainly never ask a favor of the Interrogator or the Brain. There was more chance of the moon falling out of the sky than of one of them bringing me a banana. Then I ran out of people. These three were the only ones. Of course, there was the old Indonesian night watchman. "Don't let it even enter his thinking to bring me a banana. He'd be shot if caught."

I bowed my head again and prayed, "Lord, there's no one here who could get a banana to me. There's no way for You to do it. Please don't think I'm not thankful for the rice porridge. It's just that--well, those bananas looked so delicious!"

What I needed to do was link my impotence to God's omnipotence, but I couldn't see how God could get a banana to me through these prison walls, even after the knife episode and my healing.

When the Japanese officers from the ships docked in Macassar Harbor visited the prison, great hardships were inflicted upon the prisoners. We were laughed at, scorned, and insulted. When the cells were opened, we were expected to bow low at a perfect ninety-degree angle. If we didn't perform to their satisfaction, we were struck across the back with a cane. These were humiliating and desperate experiences.

The morning after the banana drama, I heard the click of officers' leather heels on the concrete walkway. The thought of getting to my feet and having to execute a bow was onerous, to say the least. My weight had dropped during those months in the converted insane asylum, until now I was skin drawn over bones. One nice thing about my streamlined proportions was that the thinner I got, the longer my dress became, so I had more covering at night. I stretched out my hands often and laughed at my bird's claws. The meager daily meals were not designed for putting on weight. I had been healed, but I needed food for strength. I wondered if I could manage to get to my feet and remain upright, but I was determined that when that door opened, they would find me on my feet.

The officers were almost at the door. I reached up, grabbed the window ledge, and pulled myself upright. "Now, Lord," I prayed, "officers are coming. Give me strength to make a proper bow." I heard the guard slip a key into the door, but he had the wrong one and ran back to the office to get the right key. I dropped to the floor to rest, then came to my feet again when I heard his tennis shoe-shod feet moving quickly down the walkway. My legs were trembling, and I clutched the bars of the window to steady myself. "Lord, please help me to bow correctly."

Finally, the door opened, and I looked into the smiling face of Mr. Yamaji, the Kampili camp commander. This was early July, and it had been so long since I had seen a smiling or a familiar face. I clapped my hands and exclaimed, Tuan Yamaji, seperti lihat sobat jan lama, "Mr. Yamaji, it's just like seeing an old friend!"

Tears filled his eyes. He didn't say a word but turned and walked out into the courtyard and began to talk with the two officers who had conducted my interrogations. At roll call in Kampili, I had had to give certain commands in Japanese, but I had made a deliberate effort to learn as little of the Japanese language as possible. It was better not to know it. I couldn't understand what Yamaji was saying--but he spoke with them for a long time. What had happened to the hauteur and belligerence with which those two always conducted themselves toward me? I could see their heads hanging lower and lower. Perhaps he spoke to them of my work as a missionary, or maybe he shared with them concerning that afternoon in his office after I had learned of Russell's death, when I spoke of Christ, my Savior, Who gives us love for others--even for our enemies, those who use us badly.

Finally, Mr. Yamaji came back to my cell. "You're very ill, aren't you?" he asked sympathetically.

"Yes, sir, Mr. Yamaji, I am."

"I'm going back to the camp now. Have you any word for the women?"

The Lord gave me confidence to answer, "Yes, sir, when you go back, please tell them for me that I'm all right. I'm still trusting the Lord. They'll understand what I mean, and I believe you do."

"All right," he replied; then, turning on his heels, he left.

When Mr. Yamaji and the Kempeitai officers had gone and the guard had closed the door, it hit me--I didn't bow to those men! "Oh Lord," I cried, "why didn't You help me remember? They'll come back and beat me. Lord, please, not back to the hearing room again. Not now, Lord. I can't; I just can't."

I heard the guard coming back and knew he was coming for me. Struggling to my feet, I stood ready to go. He opened the door, walked in, and with a sweeping gesture laid at my feet--bananas! "They're yours," he said, "and they're all from Mr. Yamaji." I sat down in stunned silence and counted them. There were ninety-two bananas!

In all my spiritual experience, I've never known such shame before my Lord. I pushed the bananas into a corner and wept before Him. "Lord, forgive me; I'm so ashamed. I couldn't trust You enough to get even one banana for me. Just look at them--there are almost a hundred."

In the quiet of the shadowed cell, He answered back within my heart: "That's what I delight to do, the exceeding abundant above anything you ask or think." I knew in those moments that nothing is impossible to my God.

After God assured me it was His delight to send me those bananas, my heart was salved, and it took all the character I possessed not to eat all ninety-two in one sitting. After months of meager rations of rice porridge, I knew that to gorge could make me deathly ill, so I portioned out so many bananas per day, saving the greener ones for last. This was God's provision, and strength began to flow into my body. "Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies" (Psalm 23:5).

Late in the afternoon of the day following Yamaji's visit, I heard the Indonesian night watchman paused outside my door. He called softly, Njonja.

"Yes, sir?" I jumped up and put my ear to the door.

Njonja suka pisang gorengkah? "Do you like fried bananas?"

"Oh, yes, I like anything to eat!" I heard him walk away and knew he wasn't risking opening the door. Trembling with excitement, I climbed to the transom above the door and saw him returning. The overhang of the roof concealed from the view of others the fried banana tied in a corn husk dangling gaily from the bayonet atop his gun. Imperceptibly he shortened his steps as he passed my cell to allow me to reach out through the transom and grab the gift. Murmuring my sincere thanks, I jumped to the floor and promptly dispatched it with relish. Did Mr. Yamaji's act of kindness embolden the night watchman, or was it pity for me that prompted the gift? Perhaps both.

~ ~ ~ ~

From Evidence Not Seen: A Woman's Miraculous Faith in the Jungles of World War II by Darlene Deibler Rose, chapter 8.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Nothing Too Precious

Here's another gem from Hudson Taylor's biography.

It was in Mr. Frost's home town of Attica the incident had taken place, at one of the first farewell meetings [for missionaries leaving for China]. The father of a dear girl in the party, Miss Susie Parker, had come over from Pittsfield, Mass., and was sitting near the platform. Seeing a wonderful light on his face, Mr. [Hudson] Taylor invited him to say a few words.

"He told us with a father's feelings," Mr. Taylor loved to recall, "what his daughter had been in the home, to him and to her mother; what she had been in the mission-hall in which he worked, and something of what it meant to part with her now.

"'But I could only feel,' he said, 'that I have nothing too precious for my Lord Jesus. He has asked for my very best; and I give, with all my heart, my very best to Him.' 
"That sentence was the richest thing I got in America, and has been an untold blessing to me ever since. Sometimes when pressed with correspondence the hour has come for united prayer, and the thought has arisen, ought I not to go on with this or that matter? Then it has come back to me--'Nothing too precious for my Lord Jesus.' The correspondence has been left to be cared for afterwards, and one has had the joy of fellowship unhindered. Sometimes waking in the morning, very weary, the hour has come for hallowed communion with the Lord alone; and there is no time like the early morning for getting the harp in tune for the music of the day. Then it has come again--'Nothing too precious for my Lord Jesus,' and one has risen to find that there is no being tired with Him. That thought also has been a real help to me when leaving my loved ones in England: indeed, I could never tell how many hundreds of times God has given me a blessing through those words." 

--Hudson Taylor and the China Inland Mission: Volume II: The Growth of a Work of God by Dr. & Mrs. Howard Taylor, p. 454-455

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Working for God

I had posted this quote on xanga a while back, and I'm bringing it over here because it's so good!
There are several different ways of working for God, as Mr. Taylor reminded the little company. "One is to make the best plans we can, and carry them out to the best of our ability. This may be better than working without plan, but it is by no means the best way of serving our Master. 
"Or, having carefully laid our plans and determined to carry them through, we may ask God to help us, and to prosper us in connection with them. 
"Yet another way of working is to begin with God; to ask His plans, and to offer ourselves to Him to carry out His purposes." 
This then was the attitude taken up. Day by day the needs of the whole work were laid before the Lord, guidance being sought as to His will in connection with them.

"Going about it in this way," Mr. Taylor continued, "we leave the responsibility with the great Designer, and find His service one of sweet restfulness. We have no responsibility save to follow as we are led; and we serve One Who is able both to design and to execute, and Whose work never fails."

--Hudson Taylor and the China Inland Mission: The Growth of a Work of God by Dr. and Mrs. Howard Taylor

Friday, August 24, 2012

Recommended Reading List

Books shape a life. This is a list of the books that have shaped and impacted me. So consider this my recommended reading list for what you should put in your library.

1. The Bible. It should go without saying, but you need to read this primarily and make everything else secondary. Soak yourself in the Bible. Put it on your ipod and you can listen through it in a month. Read 4 chapters a day and you'll read through in a year. Discipline yourself to make it a daily habit. Consider the Bible as your food and every other book as your vitamin supplements. You wouldn't eat a plateful of vitamins and a mouthful of food, would you?

The rest of this is not necessarily in any particular order, but I do have it categorized for ease of access.

The Deeper Christian Life
They Found the Secret by V. Raymond Edman
Deeper Experiences of Famous Christians by James Gilchrist Lawson
The Christian's Secret to a Happy Life by Hannah Whitall Smith
The Believer's Secret of the Master's Indwelling by Andrew Murray
Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret by Dr. & Mrs. Howard Taylor
The Spirit of Christ by Andrew Murray
One with Christ by Hudson Taylor
Abide in Christ by Andrew Murray
Humility by Andrew Murray
Like Christ by Andrew Murray
The Power of the Spirit by William Law
The Normal Christian Life by Watchman Nee

Christian Biographies
Hudson Taylor: The Growth of a Soul and Hudson Taylor: The Growth of a Work of God by Dr. & Mrs. Howard Taylor
Evidence Not Seen by Darlene Deibler Rose
The Life and Diary of David Brainerd by David Brainerd, edited by Jonathan Edwards
C.T. Studd, Cricketer & Pioneer by Norman Grubb
C. T. Studd and Priscilla by
The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom
In My Father's House by Corrie Ten Boom
The Life of Adoniram Judson by Edward Judson
Missionary Patriarch: The True Story of John G. Paton by John Paton
The Autobiography of George Mueller by George Mueller
George Mueller of Bristol by Arthur T. Pierson
The Heavenly Man by Brother Yun with Paul Hathaway
China Cry by Nora Lam
Miracle of Miracles by Mina Nevisa with Jim Croft
God's Smuggler by Brother Andrew
The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson
Run, Baby, Run by Nicky Cruz
Chasing the Dragon by Jackie Pullinger
A Chance to Die by Elisabeth Elliott
Amy Carmichael of Dohnavur by Frank L. Houghton
Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners by John Bunyan
Oswald Chambers: Abandoned to God by David McCasland
Once an Arafat Man by Tass Saada with Dean Merrill
Malla Moe by Maria Nilsen
East Wind: The Story of Maria Zeitner Linke by Ruth Hunt
If I Perish by Esther Ahn Kim
R. A. Torrey: Apostle of Certainty by Roger Martin
Green Leaf in Drought Time by Isobel Kuhn
Climbing by Rosalind Goforth
Wycliffe in the Making: The Memoirs of W. Cameron Townsend by Hugh Steven
By Searching by Isobel Kuhn
Bruchko by Bruce Olson

The Prayer Life by Andrew Murray
Power through Prayer by E.M. Bounds
Rees Howells, Intercessor by Norman Grubb
Wrestling Prayer by Eric Ludy
The Power of Prayer and the Prayer of Power by R. A. Torrey
Prayer by O. Hallesby
With Christ in the School of Prayer by Andrew Murray
How I Know God Answers Prayer by Rosalind Goforth
The Christian in Complete Armour by William Gurnall

How to Bring Men to Christ by R. A. Torrey
Tell the Truth by Will Metzger
Hell's Best-Kept Secret by Ray Comfort
The Master Plan of Evangelism by Robert E. Coleman
Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God by J. I. Packer
The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus by John R. Cross
The Way to God by D.L. Moody

The Key to the Missionary Problem by Andrew Murray
Let the Nations be Glad! by John Piper
Revolution in World Missions by K. P. Yohannan

The Character of the Lord's Worker by Watchman Nee

Christian Classics
Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan
Hind's Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard
Mountains of Spices by Hannah Hurnard
The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoffer

Streams in the Desert by Mrs. Charles E. Cowman
Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon
My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers

When God Writes Your Love Story by Eric & Leslie Ludy
I Kissed Dating Goodbye by Josh Harris
A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken

The Pursuit of God by A. W. Tozer
God's Pursuit of Man by A. W. Tozer
The Holiness of God by R. C. Sproul

Why Revival Tarries by Leonard Ravenhill
The Power of Prayer and the Prayer of Power (last chapter) by R. A. Torrey

Spiritual Warfare
The Christian in Complete Armor by William Gurnall

God's Will
God's Will: Our Dwelling Place by Andrew Murary

Biblical Manhood & Womanhood
Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood by John Piper and Wayne Grudem
Authentic Beauty by Leslie Ludy
Set-Apart Femininity by Leslie Ludy
The Bravehearted Gospel by Eric Ludy
God's Gift to Women by Eric Ludy
Lies Women Believe by Nancy Leigh DeMoss

Tortured for Christ by Richard Wurmbrand
The Persecutor by Sergei Kourdakov

More than a Carpenter by Josh McDowell
The Answers Book by Ken Ham
Refuting Evolution by Jonathan Sarfati
The Lie: Evolution by Ken Ham

Christian History
The Story of the Reformation by William Stevenson

The Works of Jonathan Edwards

On my "To Read" List
Mountain Rain: A Biography of James O. Fraser by Eileen Fraser Crossman
Memoir of the Rev. Henry Martyn by John Sargent
Samuel Logan Brengle: Portrait of a Prophet by Clarence Hall
Samuel Morris (Heroes of the Faith series)
No Compromise by Melody Green
The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence
Extreme Devotion by Voice of the Martyrs
The Works of Josephus

For more great book recommendations, see this list.
For another list where you can even read the books online, see this list

Thursday, August 23, 2012


I was reading about Haiti today.

What a story of revolt, unrest, turmoil, and danger.

Violent crime.
Open sewer ditches.
Civil unrest.

The U.S. Government issues this warning to would-be travelers to Haiti:
"If you travel to or reside in Haiti despite this warning we remind you that there remains a persistent danger of violent crime, including armed robbery, homicide, rape, and kidnapping. While the capacity and capabilities of the Haitian National Police have improved since 2006, the presence of UN stabilization force (MINUSTAH) peacekeeping troops and UN-formed police units remain critical to maintaining an adequate level of security throughout the country. The limited capability of local law enforcement to resolve crime further compounds the security threat to U.S. citizens. In particular, there have been cases in which travelers arriving in Port-au-Prince on flights from the United States were attacked and robbed while traveling in cars away from the airport. Several U.S. citizens were shot and killed in such incidents in 2010and 2011. Police authorities believe criminals may be targeting travelers arriving on flights from the United States, following them, and attacking once they are out of the area. Use extra caution in arranging transportation from the airport. Most kidnappings are criminal in nature, and kidnappers make no distinctions of nationality, race, gender, or age. Some kidnap victims have been killed, shot, sexually assaulted, or physically abused." 

But then, as if general, everyday Haiti wasn't bad enough for you, there's the Cité Soleil, a slum near Port-au-Prince.

Cité Soleil has been called "The most dangerous place on earth" by the United Nations. The name means "Sun City." What an ironic name for perhaps the darkest place on earth.

The police don't go in there. The UN stay out. The US Embassy personnel in Haiti are forbidden by the United States to enter. It was listed as a significant achievement, a "sign of progress," that security forces were able to penetrate in 2006 and stay for one hour.

So why does everything in me leap forward in eagerness to go there?

Why in the world would I be interested in leaving behind all comforts and amenities? Why would I sacrifice not only my health, but life and limb as well?

I do quite enjoy all manner of comforts, amenities, and health. I'm not too eager to part with life and limb.

It's not that these things don't interest me--it's that they are eclipsed by a greater factor, a factor so great that it drives from my mind any other consideration.

OH to see the glory of God blaze forth from this dark place and convert Cité Soleil into a place worthy of its name. OH for the power of God to surge into this place and turn the forces of darkness on their heads. My heart yearns with longing and my breath comes in quick gasps as I contemplate the possibility of walking through these streets, living in a little scrap shack, and bringing the truth of the gospel to the poor, wretched, and dying in this place. A little smile plays around the corners of my lips as I contemplate little, insignificant me going in where heavily armed Haitian police could only manage to stay for an hour. "They that be with us are more than they that be with them." (2 Ki. 6:16).

I don't know if God will ever call me to Haiti or if I will ever set foot in Cité Soleil. But even from here, I can send a mightier force than "heavily armed Haitian police" and UN peacekeepers, and this force will not be able to be kept out by fierce gun battles. Through prayer, in the authority of Christ Jesus, who defeated Satan at the cross, I can oppose the puppeteers, the spiritual forces of darkness over that city. I can ask God to send the armies of heaven to do battle against the principalities and powers who keep Cité Soleil in darkness.

I don't consider comfort. Lord, spare me from self-preservation! Oh may I count discomfort, sickness, pain, and suffering as irrelevant. May it not even enter my head to think that they would play in to my decision.


Oh yes.

Let it be dangerous. Let me be correspondingly sharp, courageous, and swift to enter the fray.

"Difficulties, dangers, disease, death, or divisions don't deter any but chocolate [soldiers] from executing God's will. When someone says there is a lion in the way, the real Christian promptly replies, 'That's hardly any inducement for me; I want a bear or two besides to make it worth my while to go.'" --C.T. Studd, Chocolate Soldiers

Actually, though, when it comes down to it, who is dangerous to whom?

Ha ha!

As long as I walk in God's will, I am invincible, an unstoppable freight train, vastly superior in force and number to any of the enemy forces (not because I am anything, but because I am in Christ, the infinite one, the conqueror, the victor over sin and death). Far be it from me to tremble--City Soleil ought to tremble that a Christian warrior penetrates into their midst!


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Too Extreme?

"A life given wholly to spiritual things isn't 'real life,'" someone might protest. 

"You can't just spend all your time in prayer. You have to do normal things, too. You have to have balance." 

"That lifestyle is so far removed from normal life. Consider the great percentage of time you give to that one thing."

I think of Nick and Tessa, a couple from Ellerslie who is getting married this Thursday. They have chosen to reject the traditional "American Dream" model of life and they live full time in prayer and the gospel. No regular source of income promises to provide for their needs. Nick, especially, is given to prayer, dedicating hours every day to the secret place. 

I can just hear the spluttering protests of the world. "But! But! But!" they exclaim. "Why can't you be like normal people? Why do you have to do that one thing so much? Isn't that going a little overboard?" 

You know, it's funny. 

I was sitting in the airport on Monday, facing a window that overlooked the tarmac. It was an area of bustling activity, and I watched luggage trucks cart suitcases back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. 

Suitcases, suitcases, and more suitcases. 

Always the same thing: Lift and fling the suitcases, truck them to the next location, scurry back and forth with more suitcases, always lugging suitcases. 

Take a typical employee working out there. The same guy probably drives the suitcase truck every day. I wouldn't be surprised if he lugs suitcases around for the entirety of his 8-hour shift (whoa! 8 hours???). He may have been working at the same job for 5, 10, or 20 years, or more. 

Yet no one chides the suitcase truck driver for being overboard, off-balance, or extreme. No one questions the great percentage of time he dedicates to doing that one thing. No one feels puzzled that his lifestyle is so far removed from "normal life."

Just consider how abnormal this is. The guy's suitcase truck could be used for SO many different purposes. It has cargo space in the back that would lend itself easily to so many different tasks. Why not be like normal people and incorporate variety? He could haul hay bales, UPS packages, groceries, or people. Why should his service be so narrow, so confined? Wouldn't life be more interesting if he had a little balance? Wouldn't it be better for him and everyone else if he made sure to incorporate some normal variety in his routine? I mean, surely, it's a little overboard to just do that one thing.

Even the sphere of his driving is not normal. It's confined to one airport. Most people, when they drive, choose different roads, go to various cities, and take trips of different lengths. They drive in both urban and rural areas. Sometimes they drive because they have to, and sometimes they drive because they want to. They drive different vehicles, some larger, some smaller, some quick and sporty, some large and lumbering.

But this guy! He drives the same truck every day! It's large and lumbering. It's ugly. It's painted a boring white like all the other baggage carts. It's dusty. The blue curtains on it are dingy. It's not fast. And he never goes where he wants, only where he is told. What in the world?

Shouldn't someone be championing the cause of the poor suitcase truck driver? Shouldn't there be a general public outcry whenever they hear of someone taking that job?

No, there shouldn't.

How easy it is to see it when you put it in these terms. How absurd we would think it if the suitcase truck started living for "variety" and "balance" and so started carrying hay bales and taking road trips.

Yet what is the difference?

•  Both the prayer warrior and the suitcase truck are built for a specialized purpose.
•  Both operate in a limited sphere, doing only what they are told.
•  Both occupy themselves with receiving burdens and carrying to the proper place. The prayer warrior carries his burdens to the throne, while the suitcase truck carries them to the plane.

The only difference is, while the suitcase truck driver's job is admittedly mind numbing and tedious, the prayer warrior's job is exhilarating!

He gets to participate in the stuff of heaven being brought to earth!

He gets to do very real battle against enemy forces in the heavenly realms.

He gets to be spent in a cause that is greater and grander than himself and involves the will of the very King of Kings being brought to bear upon the souls of mankind.

Yes, there is a sacrifice involved. Yes, it requires that you be built by God in a very specialized way. Yes, it takes a lot of time that other people get to use on other things.

But let it not be said that prayer is not "real life." Let it not be said that making prayer your business is "overboard" or "extreme."

And just as we expect the airport to pay the suitcase truck driver, would we not expect the God who sits on the throne to plentifully reward His burden bearer with everything that is needful for life in this world? God places great value on His burden bearers. They are far greater heroes in Heaven's economy than the suitcase truck drivers are in ours.

If you know a prayer warrior, honor him, rather than giving him undue grief about his calling. It's not necessary to enlighten him about "the way the world works."

If you are a prayer warrior, onward! Stop your ears at the world's cries of "Be normal!" "Be Balanced!" Trusting your God to provide for you is not extreme. Dedicating your time to Him is not overboard. People in the world do exactly the same thing for their masters all the time. Therefore embrace your calling. Delight in living entirely outside the world's system. Revel in being inexplicable. And watch how God supplies everything that is needful.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

What I would bring to Ellerslie

After being here for a semester, there were a few things that I wished I would have brought, so I'm posting them in case anyone who reads my blog plans on going to Ellerslie. (Do go! Do! You won't be sorry!)

1. A coat or jacket. Even though it was the summer semester, and we had lots of HOT weather, the mornings were quite chilly. We did corporate prayer at 5:30 am out on the patio behind the lake house, and while most days were bearable, towards the end of the semester the weather started getting quite cool.

2. A couple of long-sleeved shirts. I brought only one, and our sessions in the air-conditioned chapel were sometimes too cold to admit short sleeves.

3. Art supplies. Not a ton, but at least some cardstock, scissors, a calligraphy pen and some colored pencils or markers. I ended up buying a pack of cardstock, some acrylic paint and brushes, and a set of 24 Crayola colored pencils. There were SO many occasions where I used it, and I was also able to let other girls use the supplies, so they got almost used completely up.

4. A guitar. Even though I barely play the guitar, it would have been nice to have it and there were numerous occasions to have played it. If you have a violin, mandolin, banjo, flute, cello, or other instrument, bring it! You won't be sorry!

5. A bike. This one I might even put #1 on the list. It would have been sooooo cool to have a bike! The bike trails right near the campus are extensive and amazing! Also, Windsor is small enough and close enough that a bike could completely replace a car for any little shopping errands that one needed to do, or just exploring the town.

6. A water bottle. I bought one the first week, because I needed it! Colorado is super dry!

~ ~ ~

Things I brought that I wouldn't have wanted to do without:

•  A watch. You can't carry your phone on you, so if you don't have a watch, you won't know the time.
•  Tennis shoes. Even if you don't plan to take walks or jogs, there are occasions where you will want them.
•  A bag or backpack for carrying books back and forth to chapel.
•  Hand lotion. Colorado is dry! If you're prone to getting cracked heels, foot lotion, too.
•  A junk outfit that can get ruined (by getting paint on it, for instance)
•  Flowers for my hair. The girls dress really cute, and hairstyles are often adorned with flowers.
•  Sunscreen. Oh boy, you sure can get toasted quick under Colorado's blazing sunshine!
•  Stationery. Just a box of blank cards that you can write for any occasion (thank you, birthday, random notes of encouragement)
•  A blanket. You might want to have something you can spread on the grass for picnics and such.
•  Money. There are incidental occasions that cost a bit of money--for instance, no dinner is provided Saturday night or Sunday night, so the students are on their own. Also, if you don't have a car, you are asked to chip in gas money to anyone who drives you on outings or shopping trips. Other small opportunities and student activities cost a dollar or two each, plus your laundry costs $2.75 per load ($1.50 for the washer and $1.25 for the dryer, in quarters).  

Monday, August 20, 2012

Oh how He loves you

Today I arrived in the Denver airport quite a few hours before my flight departed. I sat with one of my fellow Ellerslie students who was also going home until her flight left, and then I meandered towards my gate.

I was passing by a booth where a woman was trying to get people to sign up for the airline's credit card, and I heard her trying to attract people's notice.

"Sir, what airline are you flying today?" Her voice was strident, whining.

"Would you like to get a free flight?" It sounded like she was working as hard as she could to hide the fact that she desperately hated her job.

People brushed past her, hurrying here and there to their flights, and I myself scooted around the long way so she wouldn't have a chance to catch me.

Then the Lord spoke to my heart.

"Why don't you speak to that woman?"

I froze. "What?"

"Go up and speak to her."

My mind started racing. What would I do?

I was riding one of those conveyor belts they have in airports, going away from her. God asked me, "Do you love her enough to turn around and go back to her?" Then He gave me this supernatural love welling up inside me for her, and when I got to the end of the moving walkway, I turned around and rode the belt back.

She was speaking with a customer. Was that a good enough excuse for me to give up the idea? God asked me, "Do you love her enough to wait for her to finish with this person?" Then He gave me an extra dose of love for her, welling up inside me and loving her with Jesus's love. I sat against a wall, praying for her, and praying for the strength to go up and speak to her, and God gave it to me. I didn't really know what I would say.

First I let her give me the plug for the credit card. I listened. Then I said, "Actually, I came over here because I wanted to talk to you."

She looked shocked.

"I understand if you're working, and if you're busy and can't talk, I'll go away. But I noticed how hard you were working, and..."

I was floundering. I didn't know where I was going. Her face manifested great curiosity of what this odd person was going to say to her. I saw that she was intrigued, listening, and it gave me courage to go on.

"...I was just wondering if you knew about Jesus."

Her face hardened. She gave a curt "Yes."

"And do you love Him?" I asked. All the love inside me wanted to gush all over her.

Her face grew harder still. "I'm...okay with him."

"And do you know that He loves you?" I said. I hoped that she would sense God's love as it poured through me to her.

"Yes," she said, coldly.

"Listen," she continued, "Why don't you hit up my coworker over there?"

"Do you think she would be more interested?" I asked in a soft voice.

"Who knows?" she said. The hardness in her eyes glittered with deep-buried hurts. "Maybe."

"Well, I'll just leave you with that thought," I said wistfully.

She gave a brief nod and turned away. Hard lines remained in the set of her jaw. The conversation was over.

I walked down the hallway of the airport concourse, filled with a sense of having obeyed and left the results up to God. That was all I had to do, I realized.

And then God shared with me a little piece of His heart.

His love for that woman filled up my heart and overflowed into tears. She won't receive His love, and His heart weeps for her. He shared with me His tears. He offered me a glimpse of His Father-heart that loves and loves and loves her. He found a willing servant in the airport and sent her to that woman today because He loves her. She rejected that love. She pulled back from it. She closed herself off to it. And His Father-heart weeps, groans, laments, because this woman is precious to Him and she is cold and unresponsive to His call. Today I cried Jesus's tears.

How could I cry for a complete stranger? How could I care about a woman with an annoying voice, selling a credit card I don't want?  How could it be that the tears are running down my cheeks even now at the remembrance of the story?

Because when God finds a willing servant, sometimes he shares His heart. He gives us just a tiny little dose of what His Father-heart feels when one of His children departs far from Him. We feel what He feels. And this burden sends us to prayer.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Ellerslie Graduation

Oh, what a sad but happy occasion!
The main thing I would want for every reader of my blog is for you to listen to the sermon Eric Ludy preached on the morning of our graduation. It was a brilliant and memorable training on sharing the gospel. 

Visit this page and watch the video or download the message to listen as an mp3. 
Graduation group picture

Luncheon in the tent

A gift

Saying goodbye to friends

Saturday, August 18, 2012

His Little Feet 5K

Saturday I ran and walked a 5K race on behalf of His Little Feet. His Little Feet is an international children's choir that sings to raise awareness for adoption and orphan advocacy. Children come from orphanages in various countries in the world, spend a year here, and travel to churches, singing the most beautiful praise to Jesus!

The 5K race was to bring in the funds needed for the next group of kids to come over. Our registration fees and the sponsorships we collected all went on behalf of getting passports and visas for children from Ethiopia, Haiti, and India to come over.

Riding the His Little Feet bus to the race 

Our lovely volunteers at the registration tables

"You think you're going to beat ME?"

Mike Hahn (director of His Little Feet) explaining the race course

Students listen in as we prepare to begin.

Just look at all those orange shirts! Yes!

We raised over $9000 for His Little Feet, which fell short of their goal of $15,000.

The fellowship, support, and camaraderie in the race was a great thing. It was so cool to know the name of almost every person I passed, or that passed me.

I walked the first few minutes and then ran about half the distance. Then I walked and ran and walked and ran to the end, and finished off with a great sprint. It was fun. I was surprised at how much I could run, considering that I hadn't trained and that I was on the third day of a fast.

I felt like the race symbolized the way I want to live my life. Lord, spare me from self-preservation! When my strength is failing and I have a long way to go, Lord, be my energy. When I am pushed beyond the brink of impossible and I still have to keep going, Lord, be my strength.

I felt divinely upheld and infused with supernatural ability as I ran, and I did the entire course in a state of conscious dependence and drawing on Him for grace. It was really cool to actually receive grace and power that was beyond my own ability! God is faithful.

Afterward we ate bananas and bagels and talked and visited while we waited for the walkers to finish. Yum!

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Orange Pickers

Parable of the Orange Tree
by Dr. John White

I dreamed I drove on a Florida road, still and straight and empty. On either side were groves of orange trees, so that as I turned to look at them from time to time, line after line of trees stretched back endlessly from the road—their boughs heavy with round yellow fruit. This was harvest time. My wonder grew as the miles slipped by. How could the harvest be gathered?

Suddenly I realized that for all the hours I had driven (and this was how I knew I must be dreaming) I had seen no other person. The groves were empty of people. No other car had passed me. No houses were to be seen beside the highway. I was alone in a forest of orange trees.

But at last I saw some orange pickers far from the highway, almost on the horizon, lost in the vast wilderness of unpicked fruit. I could discern a tiny group of them working steadily. I could not be sure, but I suspected that the earth beneath me was shaking with silent laughter at the hopelessness of their task. Yet the pickers went on picking.

The sun had long passed its zenith, and the shadows were lengthening when, without any warning, I saw, as I turned a corner of the road, a notice: “Leaving NEGLECTED COUNTY—Entering HOME COUNTY.” The contrast was so startling that I scarcely had time to take in the notice. I had to slow down, for all at once the traffic was heavy. People by the thousands swarmed the road and crowded the sidewalks.

Even more startling was the transformation in the orange groves. Orange groves were still there, and orange trees in abundance, but now, far from being silent and empty, they were filled with the laughter and singing of multitudes of people. Indeed it was the people we noticed rather than the trees. People—and houses.

I parked the car at the roadside and mingled with the crowd. Smart gowns, neat shoes, showy hats, expensive suits and starched shirts made me a little conscious of my work clothes. Everyone seemed so fresh, and poised, and happy.

“Is it a holiday?” I asked a well-dressed woman with whom I fell in step.

She looked a little startled for a moment, and then her face relaxed with a smile of gracious condescension.

“You’re a stranger, aren’t you?” she said, and before I could reply, “This is Orange Day.”

She must have seen a puzzled look on my face, for she went on, “It is so good to turn aside from one’s labors and pick oranges one day of the week.”

“But don’t you pick oranges every day?” I asked her.

“One may pick oranges at any time,” she said. “We should always be ready to pick oranges, but Orange Day is the day that we devote especially to orange picking.”

I left her and made my way further into the trees. Almost everyone was carrying a book bound beautifully in leather, and edged and lettered in gold. I was able to discern on the edge of one of them the words, “Orange Picker’s Manual.”

By and by I noticed around one of the orange trees seats had been arranged, rising upward in tiers from the ground. The seats were almost full—but as I approached the group, a smiling well-dressed gentleman shook my hand and conducted me to a seat.

I could see a number of people there around the foot of the orange tree. One of them was addressing all the people on the seats; and, just as I got to my seat, everyone rose to his feet and began to sing. The man next to me shared with me his song book. It was called “Songs of the Orange Groves.”

They sang for some time, and the song leader waved his arms with a strange and frenzied abandon, and, in the intervals between the songs, exhorted the people to sing more loudly.

I grew steadily more puzzled.

“When do we start to pick oranges?” I asked the man who had loaned me his book.

“It’s not long now,” he told me. “We like to get everyone warmed up first. Besides, we want to make the oranges feel at home.” I thought he was joking—but his face was serious.

After a while a rather fat man took over from the song leader, and after reading two sentences from his well-thumbed copy of the Orange Picker’s Manual, began to make a speech. I wasn’t clear whether he was addressing the people or the oranges.

I glanced behind me and saw a number of groups of people similar to our own group gathering around an occasional tree and being addressed by other fat men. Some of the trees had no one around them.

“Which trees do we pick from?” I asked the man beside me. He did not seem to understand, so I pointed to the trees round about. “This is our tree,” he said, pointing to the one we were gathered around.

“But there are too many of us to pick from just one tree,” I protested. Why, there are more people than oranges!”

“But WE don’t pick oranges,” the man explained. “We haven’t been called. That’s the Pastor Orange Picker’s job. We’re here to support him. Besides, we haven’t been to college. You need to know how an orange thinks before you can pick it successfully—orange psychology, you know. Most of these folk here,” he went on, pointing to the congregation, “have never been to Manual School.”

“Manual school?” I whispered. “What’s that”? “It’s where they go to study the Orange Picker’s Manual,” my informant went on. “It’s very hard to understand. You need years of study before it makes sense.”

“I see,” I murmured. “I had no idea that picking oranges was so difficult.”

The fat man at the front was still making his speech. His face was red, and he appeared to be indignant about something. So far as I could see there was rivalry with some of the other “orange-picking” groups. But a moment later a glow came on his face.

“But we are not forsaken,” he said. “We have much to be thankful for. Last week we saw THREE ORANGES BROUGHT INTO OUR BASKETS, and we are now completely debt-free from the money we owed on the new cushion covers that grace the seats you now sit on.”

“Isn’t it wonderful?” the man next to me murmured. I made no reply. I felt that something must be profoundly wrong somewhere. All this seemed to be a very round-about way of picking oranges.

The fat man was reaching a climax in his speech. The atmosphere seemed tense. Then, with a very dramatic gesture, he reached two of the oranges, plucked them from the branch, and placed them in the basket at his feet. The applause was deafening.

“Do we start picking now?” I asked my informant.

“What in the world do you think we’re doing?” he hissed. “What do you suppose this tremendous effort has been made for? There’s more orange-picking talent in this group than in the rest of Home County. Thousands of dollars have been spent on the tree you’re looking at.

I apologized quickly. “I wasn’t being critical,” I said. “And I’m sure the fat man must be a very good orange picker—but surely the rest of us could try. After all, there are so many oranges that need picking. We’ve all got a pair of hands, and we could read the Manual.”

“When you’ve been in the business as long as I have, you’ll realize that it’s not as simple as that,” he replied. “There isn’t time, for one thing. We have our work to do, our families to care for, and our homes to look after. We…”

But I wasn’t listening. Light was beginning to break on me. Whatever these people were, they were not orange pickers. Orange picking was just a form of entertainment for their weekends.

I tried one or two more of the groups around the trees. Not all of them had such high academic standards for orange pickers. Some held classes on orange picking. I tried to tell them of the trees I had seen in Neglected County, but they seemed to have little interest.

“We haven’t picked all the oranges here yet,” was their usual reply.

The sun was almost setting in my dream. Growing tired of the noise and activity all around me, I got into the car and began to drive back along the road I had come. Soon all around me again were the vast and empty orange groves.

But there were changes. Something had happened in my absence. Everywhere, the ground was littered with fallen fruit. And as I watched, it seemed that before my eyes the trees began to rain oranges. Many of them lay rotting on the ground.

I felt there was something so strange about it all, and my bewilderment grew as I thought of all the people in Home County. Then, booming through the trees, there came a voice which said, “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth laborers into his harvest.”

“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. And he said, “Go…”

And I awakened—for it was only a dream!

Language Learning Tips

Wycliffe Bible Translators' Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) has spent decades learning how to learn languages, and they have generously shared Greg Thompson's papers online. He shares many insightful concepts that make learning a new language easier and even fun!

Isn't that cool? Now why don't you go try to learn Farsi, Swahili, or Korean? Enjoy learning that new language!