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Saturday, May 27, 2006
Two Powerful words
"For he who serves Christ in these things [righteousness, peace, joy in the Holy Spirit (vs.17)] is acceptable to God and approved by men." Romans 15:18

Two powerful words: accepted and approved! What one of us does not desire to feel accepted and to know that others acknowledge that what we do/have done/are doing is worthwhile?! In this verse I find another one of those wonderful paradox that are sprinkled throughout the Bible. Acceptance of God and approval by men will not be found if serving Christ for that purpose. But rather, we serve Christ in righteousness, in peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. As we serve God with these goals in mind, the result will be that our service is acceptable to God and approved by others.

Once in a while the Lord allows us to catch a glimpse of what acceptance and approval feels like. Such has been this week here in Taiwan. It is humbling to say the least to day after day have people come by to visit for the purpose of expressing their love and concern, their appreciation for our ministry, sharing how God has used us to touch their life. It has made this trip a sheer gift from God.

Physically, Malcom has had a fairly "good" week although wearing down just a bit by Friday from trying to accomplish too much in a short period of time. We were able to get our visas and alien resident status renewed for another year, paid our Taiwan income taxes, and took care of some other business matters. Tomorrow we look forward to a sweet time with our people at Dali Faith Baptist Church. Malcom will preach in both the Chinese and English services. There are 3 people to be baptized too. Please pray that God will give him an extra measure of grace for all that will be done.

posted at 11:50 AM  

Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Due Time
"Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time." 1 Peter 5:6

There are two very difficult tasks that are mentioned or implied in this verse. The first is to humble ourselves under God’s mighty hand. Usually when we think “God’s hand is upon so-and-so," we mean that God is blessing that person, using them, empowering them. That does not appear to be the meaning here. “Enduring” times of blessings is not difficult. What I think Peter is referring to is a time of persecution (4:14), trials (4:12), and suffering (4:15). These things, like God’s blessings, have come to us by God’s permission and we feel the heavy burden of God’s hand upon us at such times.

We are not to react to such times by complaining to God, being angry with God or even ignoring God. We are to react to trials that God is allowing by humbling ourselves: submission to the trial because we know it comes from God.

I am reminded of certain times while raising our five children when I had to discipline them. It was a trial to them but could be over in a very short time with little pain if they submitted. Sometimes a child would not submit. Well, I could not administer the discipline (swats on the back side) until they did. I would not just hit them any place. Finally when they stood still and took the swats we could be done. Usually it wasn’t as bad as they imagined it would be.

We have to learn to humble ourselves and take the trial and learn the lessons God wants to teach us.

The second difficult task is implied. We are to wait for a future “due time” when God would exalt us. Waiting is so hard especially when the time you have to wait is decided by someone else and you are in the dark. In such times, we can only trust God. I wish God would have healed me early on in my sickness, but then I might have missed meeting someone that needed my encouragement or counsel. I wish that God would have healed me before the chemo destroyed the nerves in my hands making it hard to type or even button my clothes, but He decided that I needed this painful experience. When will God heal me? In due time and until that time arrives, I can only wait and trust.

I recall a time when I was small and got sick at school. The school nurse called my Dad to come pick me up. He took, what seemed to me to be, forever to get to my school. Finally, he drove up and I got in the car to go home. On days like that Dad always made one stop on the way home – to buy me an ice cream. In due time my Father will send me what I need and it will be the comfort that I have longed for.

posted at 8:15 PM  

Sunday, May 21, 2006
In Taiwan
"This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it." Psalm 118:24

I cannot express how good it is to be back in Taiwan right now! We had a safe flight over and arrived at our apartment just after midnight on Thursday, May 18, making it approximately 30 hours of travel. The long trip combined with jetlag was quite taxing on Malcom, but he is gaining strength now.

We have many things for which to be thankful. Friday night there were two special events: First, the graduation ceremony for Chinese Baptist Bible College. Thomas Yu, led to the Lord, discipled and mentored by Malcom, graduated after 9 years studying part-time while working, raising a family, and pastoring the Jung Shan Baptist Church! Following the graduation, the church held an Ordination Service for Pastor Yu and he was officially ordained a "Minister of the Gospel." Even though weak from the strain of our trip, the Lord enabled Malcom to officiate the ordination service. That evening will always be remembered as a highlight in our missionary career.

Today was another special day: the 6th anniversary of our work in Dali City--Faith Baptist Church. Malcom asked the Lord to give him strength to stand and preach again in Chinese, and He did! This was a bilingual service so Missionary friend, Andy Simpson, did the translating to English. The church was packed and several decisions for the Lord were made.

In the fellowship afterwards, one dear lady gave me some good advice. "Make the most of every day. Don't waste energy worrying about how many more days you will have, just treasure the time you have today." I'm not sure if Mrs. Chang knew it or not, but her words of advice echoed the scripture: THIS is the day that the Lord has let's rejoice and be glad. It is this verse that Malcom often uses to encourage himself in the Lord on those days when it is difficult to even get out of bed.

At the end of this day, we can reflect that it was indeed a good day blessed with the presence of the Lord.

posted at 6:25 AM  

Saturday, May 13, 2006
When darkness seems to hide His face
"Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? Let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God." Isaiah 50:10

The other day I was practicing a hymn arrangement on the piano. One of the things I've always done is to sing the words to the song in my head so that the meaning will spill forth through my fingers. Although I've sung it many times, this particular hymn, "The Solid Rock" spoke to my heart especially in verse 2:

"When darkness seems to hide His face, I rest on His unchanging grace"

There have been and still are times when the trials faced are so intense that it really feels like darkness closing in. I can identify with this verse in Isaiah. Speaking to one who fears and obeys the Lord yet finds oneself walking in darkness, the encouragement comes: Trust in the name of the Lord! Hold firm onto God!

It seems to me as I watch him, that Malcom may feel as if he is walking through a dark valley every time he has a chemotherapy treatment. The chemical's affect on him are so harsh. He is so fatigued and weak in the days following. That is how he is tonight and I ask that you pray for him, that he can rest in God's unchanging grace.

Lord willing, he will have more strength and energy by next Tuesday when we plan to travel to Taiwan.

posted at 12:01 AM  

Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Being strong
"Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus." 2 Timothy 2:1

I have a note written in the margin of an old Bible next to this verse. It says, "Being strong: Giving up so God can take over." I'm not sure where I heard that, but the idea must have resonated with me that day and still does. The Biblical truth is an unexplainable paradox; when I am weak, then I am strong. That is because the source of my strength is not in myself but instead is wrapped up in the grace that comes from Christ Jesus!

I am rejoicing today over Malcom's improvement. He was released from the hospital this morning after an uneventful night. There seems to be no lingering side affects from yesterday's episode. He has been alert with no fever and no pain. We enjoyed a visit from some missionary friends and even went out for dinner!

Tomorrow he will have his chemotherapy treatment (without the drug he is allergic to!) and I am trusting God to continue to supply him with grace to bear it.

posted at 12:03 AM  

Tuesday, May 09, 2006
Our Deliverer
"The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer." 2 Samuel 22:2

In the 22nd chapter of Samuel we find a song of thanksgiving to God written by David. Tonight my heart is filled with the same overflowing gratitude to God for what He has done. You see, today we almost lost Malcom. He had a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction to a new chemo drug. Within minutes of beginning the IV infusion, his blood pressure dropped to a dangerous level. Respiratory and cardiac distress was present. Miraculously, his doctor and nurses were able to respond quickly to counter the reaction. He then spent the next four hours in ICU under observation. I praise God for rescuing him from the brink of death. He is now resting quite comfortably in a regular room on the oncology floor. This is his third time to be hospitalized in the last 8 days. Thank you for your continued prayers on his behalf.

Our trip to Taiwan has been postponed for one week. If God permits, we will be traveling there from May 16--30.

posted at 12:44 AM  

Wednesday, May 03, 2006
Gladness in my heart
"There be many that say, Who will show us any good? Lord, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us. Thou has put gladness in my heart..." Psalm 4:6-7a

It is way past time for an update! The last few weeks have been hard on Malcom physically and hard on both of us emotionally. Honestly I was beginning to wonder when there would be some good news to report. Today is the day and it's about time!

Malcom had the 19th chemotherapy treatment on Monday, April 24th. He was already experiencing weakness from the radiation side affects and it seemed like he just went downhill all week long. On Wednesday, the 26th, he had a thoracentesis done in which they removed 2 liters of fluid from around his right lung. He was able to breathe easier after that, but still quite weak.

Yesterday, May 1st, he was having such pain in his right abdomen and generalized weakness. The doctor admitted him to the hospital. Symptoms and tests pointed to a possible ruptured appendix or perforated intestine, so he was taken into emergency surgery today around 1:30 pm. We rallied many to pray for him and God blessed with a successful outcome. The appendix was not ruptured and was easily removed. The surgeon said everything else looked fine. The amazing thing is the unbelievable rebound he has had. Tonight he was alert, energized, hungry, joking, and generally acting like his old self again. We expect a smooth recovery.

posted at 12:40 AM