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Friday, February 26, 2016

In Thee is refuge, safety for my trembling soul

 

Blessèd Lord, in Thee is refuge,
Safety for my trembling soul,
Pow’r to lift my head when drooping
Midst the angry billows’ roll.
I will trust Thee, all my life Thou shalt control.
 
 
In the past, too unbelieving
Midst the tempest I have been,
And my heart has slowly trusted
What my eyes have never seen.
Blessèd Jesus, teach me on Thine arm to lean.
 
 
O, for trust that brings the triumph
When defeat seems strangely near;
O, for faith that changes fighting
Into vict’ry’s ringing cheer!
Faith triumphant, knowing not defeat nor fear.
 
 
Faith triumphant—blessèd vict’ry!
Every barrier swept away,
Heaven descending, joy and fullness,
Dawn of everlasting day!
Jesus only, Him to love and Him obey.
 
 
-Herbert Booth (1862-1926)
 
 
 
 
Refuge
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. (Psalm 46:1-3)
 
For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock. (Psalm 27:5)
 
Thou shalt hide them in the secret of thy presence from the pride of man: thou shalt keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues. (Psalm 31:20)
 
Be thou my strong habitation, whereunto I may continually resort: thou hast given commandment to save me; for thou art my rock and my fortress. (Psalm 71:3)
 
The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower. (Psalm 18:2)
 
 
Prayer
O Lord, in Thee is our refuge! In the time of trouble, hide me in Thy pavilion, O hide me in the secret of Thy tabernacle and set me up upon a rock. In Jesus' name. Amen.
  

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Master, where dwellest Thou? O speak to me.

 

 
O what is it that wanders in the wind?
And what it is that whispers in the wood?
What is the river singing to the sun?
Why this vague pain in every charmèd sense,
This yearning, keen suspense?
 
 
Often I've seen a garment floating by,
Fringe of it only; golden brown it lay
On the ripe grasses, fern green on the ferns,
And in the wood, like bluebells' misty blue
Whitened with mountain dew.
 
 
I laid me low among the mountain grass,
I laid me low among the river fern,
I hid me in the wood and tried to hold
The lovely wonder of it as it passed,
And tried to hold it fast,
 
 
It slipped like sunshine through my eager hands,
See, they are dusted as with pollen dust;
Soft dust of gold, and soft the sense of touch,
Soft as the south wind's sea-blown evening kiss,
But I have only this,
 
 
This dust of vanished gold upon my hands,
This breath of wind blowing upon my hair,
Stirring of something near, so near, but far,
Glimmering through colour's fleeting preciousness,
The fringes of a dress.
 
 
O Wearer of that garment, if it's hem
Hardly perceived can thrill us, what must Thou,
Its Weaver and its Wearer, be to see?
Master, where dwellest Thou? O tell me now,
Where dwellest Thou?
 
 
The grasses turned their golden heads away,
And shyer and more wistful stood the ferns,
The little flowers looked up with puzzled eyes;
Only the river, who is all my own,
Left me not quite alone,
 
 
But mixed his music with my human cry,
Till somewhere from the half-withdrawing wood
Sound of familiar footsteps: Is it Thou?
Master, where dwellest Thou? O speak to me.
 
And He said, Come and see.
 
 
 
-Amy Carmichael, Where Dwellest Thou?


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Cornelia Judson; a missionary to Japan who devoted her life for helping poor children (1860-1939)


 
hoketsu-toge, Ehime, Japan
The hymn lyrics, which the co-worker of Cornelia Judson wrote,
are inscribed on this stone monument. 

 
This morning, through my friend Sanae, I've come to know the life and service of the late missionary Cornelia Judson (1860-1939). Despite her devout and sacrificial life, she is almost unknown to us.
 
By reading her biography, my heart's got filled with joy and appreciation that He's sent such a godly servant to the land of Japan, where most of them are living and dying without Christ. I want to thank Him for His work through His faithful servants through the centuries. They have left their comfort life, family, friends and everything, in order that even one soul would be saved through their life-long service. And in fact, many of them have become sacrificial "soils" in the land of pagan. So, I'd like to introduce you the life and service of this amazing woman of God today.

 


                                                                   Hokkaido, Japan
 
 
Cornelia Judson, a missionary to Japan

 
The people of Matsuyama call herJudson Sensei (teacher),” with affection. Cornelia Judson was born in Stratford, Connecticut, on Oct. 20, 1860. The following year, she was baptized at the First Congregational Church of Stratford. She was brought up in a pious Christian home and later became the first missionary sent by that church.

Judson experienced a turning point in her life at the age of 13, when she came down with a severe case of pneumonia and was cared for by her parents day and night. Facing death, she asked God to forgive her sins and vowed to work for God and for many people. Her prayer was heard,and she miraculously recovered from her illness. She studied hard to go to college. While at college, she learned about missionary work and especially about the need for missionaries in Asian countries.

The prayer she had offered to God at the age of 13 came to mind, and she decided to dedicate herself to a career as a missionary. After her graduation from college, Judson applied to the Women’s Foreign Mission Society (WFMS) and was sent to Japan in 1887.

Her first posting was to Niigata Girls’ School in Niigata. She began to have doubts about her ability to survive Niigata’s severe winters, especially after her colleague got sick and died. At that time, she found out that Matsuyama Girls’ School (currently Matsuyama

Junior and Senior High School) was looking for a woman missionary, so she ended up going to Matsuyama in July 1890.
 
After arriving in Matsuyama in Shikoku, she attended Matsuyama Congregational Church of Christ (currently the Kyodan’s Matsuyama Church).

Judson walked from her house to work at Matsuyama Girls’ School. She noticed, however, children playing in the street or caring for infants, in spite of it being time to go to school. She learned that it was because of poverty that they couldn’t go to school, and so she prayed for a place where such children could learn and decided to establish a place where they could study at night. She talked about her plan with Ninomiya Ikujiro, who was the pastor of Matsuyama Church as well as being headmaster of Matsuyama Girls’ School.
 
He understood the need and promised to cooperate. He was a very busy man, so he introduced her to three youths from his church. One of them was Nishimura Sugao, who later wrote a well-known Japanese hymn.

None of the youth had a teaching license, so in lieu of receiving a salary, they asked Judson to give them English lessons. She was more than happy to accept their plan and started to prepare for the school to open. Her two-story house was to be used as the school building: the second floor for English lessons as well as for her living space and the first floor for school classrooms, so some old chairs, desks, and a blackboard were brought in from the girls’ school.



The school was opened on January 14, 1891 at 7 p.m., with 25 children attending the opening ceremony. This became the first Christian night school in Shikoku. Although the three youths taught without any salary, school finances were still a problem. There were several discussions about closing the school, but Judson was able to hire paid teachers and begin preparations to purchase a new school building.

In the autumn of the same year, she was able to buy a new building, and about 100 children attended. Through this process, she felt her life’s calling was to work for the education of children who would otherwise not be able to attend school.

The next year, Nishimura Sugao, one of the three helpers, became the first headmaster of the school. To establish it as a qualified school, construction of a new building was required without delay. Judson had very simple lifestyle of eating only vegetables and eggs with bread, and she did not order new clothes in order to save money for land and a building.

Even after the school was opened, she continued to help the school financially by giving from her own funds for its development. She indeed gave much money to help the school financially.

After Judson returned to the U.S. upon reaching retirement age, her rheumatism worsened, and she developed a heart condition due to stress and exhaustion. So her doctor recommended that she convalesce. However, when she got better, she visited her friends and churches that had supported her night school and asked them to increase their financial support.

She wrote a long letter to the people of Matsuyama, some of which is as follows: “If God gave me wings, I would wish to fly to you. However, I am now disabled and cannot even walk to Japan. Within a few years, I will be free from this disabled body, and I shall put on a body that can freely come to you.”


Later, at the age of 80, Judson developed breast cancer that then spread to her stomach, for which she received an operation. At that time, she told one of her former school students, who was visiting the US, “If you pray for me, do not pray that I will live long. If I leave this world, my house could be sold and the proceeds sent to Matsuyama Night School for their new buildings.”

She was called to heaven on Sept. 17, 1939 while wearing her favorite kimono, Tomesode. She entrusted all her estate to the American Board and left a will, asking that it be used as a fund for the Matsuyama Night School (currently Matsuyama Jonan Senior High School). To this day, the interest on the fund is sent to the school every year.

All through her life, Judson gave many things and devoted her life to the night school’s education. One of her favorite Bible verse is said to be “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35)

We can see that Judson herself lived that verse. The way she lived her life taught us that the words from the Bible are not just what we read or listen to,but are living words. (Tr. GK)

 
Aizawa Hironori, chaplain
 Matsuyama Jonan High School (source)


*This Japanese hymn (yamaji-koete) was written by her co-worker Nishimura Sugao, when (after service in the church) he had to stay overnight at the mountain pass all alone due to train problems.In the midst of his utmost loneliness, God reminded him of the story of Jacob in Genesis 28 and he composed the lyrics.


(lyrics in English)
 
In lonely mountain ways
of this world's trial and care,
my heart knows naught of fear-scarred days;
the Master's hand is there!
 
My journey may be long,
the pathway rough and steep.
Sufficient for each day my song;
my way the Lord does keep.
 
And though when evening falls,
a stone my pillow shapes,
the vision of our kingdom calls
and here a Bethel makes.
 
Tune: Aaron Chapin, 1816, Kentucky Harmony
Words: Sugao Nishimura, 1903
Translation: Paul R. Gregory, 1983

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Unearthly ode


 
To Thee the seas give sounding glory,
Before Thee the abyss stands mute,
 
 The constellations burn and quiver,
The stars’ chorale hums like a lute.
 
 To Thee the streams do sweetly sing
And redden in the flaming dawns,
 
 The mountains to Thy heights ascend,
 All shining with eternal snows.
 
 Of wisdom do the forests murmur,
And flowers do their fragrance cense,
 
 Of Thee do testify the dews,
The dark of nights, the light of days,
 
 The midnight dawn of Arctic ice,
The cliffs, the crags, the misty fogs,
 
 The fading and the bloom of things,
And caravans of springtime clouds.
 
 And even reptiles fall before Thee,
When seeing Thy thrice-radiant light,
 
 And all the oceans hymn hosannah
To the Creator of all worlds bright.
 
 I am a lowly worm before Thee,
 
 But from my heart, O Lord and God,
Does issue forth my sacred hymn,
So unlike any earthly ode.
 
 
- V. N. Utrenev, To Thee
Translated by Natalia Sheniloff (source)

Monday, February 22, 2016

Christian Headcovering Women in the 21st century; utterly "ancient" AND utterly "new" "revolutionary" kind of people


Obeying the Word and becoming a headcovering Christian woman in the 21st century mean, to many, that we enter into the narrow gate. Our dear sisters' courageous testimonies prove this fact. We say adieu to our modern world and dive in the biblical world!

Quite interestingly, however, we are not just "ancient" people. On the contrary, we are quite "new" and "revolutionary" kind of people. That's because we are pioneers who are clearing the way where there was no way before. Are feminists revolutionary then? Mary A. Kassian says; "Biblical feminists have succumbed to the blue-jean mentality of thinking they are being courageous and radical, when in fact they are really only fitting into what is the accepted thought-form of the age around them" (Feminist Gospel.)

Furthermore, we are called to fight on the two fronts; While refusing the human-centered modernism and feminism firmly and uncompromisingly, we must also keep ourselves awake so as not to trapped in mere "traditionalism."

In this fallen world, things constantly swing like a pendulum, from being wrong in one extreme way to being wrong in another extreme. The devil never gives us the luxury of fighting on only one front, and this will always be the case.
-Francis Schaeffer

We are extremely ancient but extremely new as well. This is, in my opinion, the mystery of the Bible people. We cling to the Word which was written well over 2000 years ago so naturally, our obedience to the ancient Word makes us ancient as well. The Word, however, is also ever living, eternal life and truth. So from those who dare to live up to this Logos, "out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water" (John 7:38 b). And this living water touches each generation with fresh vigor and liveliness.

 
Only "ancient" women can reach other "ancient" women

 
We are seeking the biblical womanhood. We want to be submissive, gentle, home-oriented women. However, it does not contradict the fact that we are also soldiers of Christ who are fighting day and night for soul-winning. In fact, many of our headcovering sisters are called to witness in the fieriest mission field of today. Yes, I am talking about the Jewish and Islamic world. Have you wondered why He is using headcovering sisters for this purpose?

Having ministered to women from the Middle East, I realized that our "ancient-ness" is one of the strongest points for soul-winning. God-fearing Muslim and Jewish women tend to show friendly attitudes toward us, because they, as well as we are deeply "ancient."

(*Note; However, I'd like to say that we are not ordered to cover for the sake of soul-winning or modesty. We cover because NT clearly orders it and it is for the headship. I recommend you to read the following articles written by brother Jeremy Gardiner on this issue. "Why Headcovering is not about Modesty" (here), "Should Christian Women Wear Hijab?" (here))

Neither followers of the age nor traditionalists--, I believe that there is a divine reason why God started this recovery movement in the 21st century. As time proceeds, He shall reveal it more and more. O Lord, help all of us to enter into the narrow gate and to fight on the two front bravely. Use all of our lives to testify You and Your redemptive work on the cross. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Detachment; My poem

 

 
detachment- separation, remoteness, distance, disconnection, untying, cutting off, partition

attachment- connection, bond, link, tie, joint, fastening

 

My child,
Be not afraid of detachment.
 
The loss and parting are My work.
 
 
O Lord,
it is too much for me to endure it.
 It is night, and shall be darkness.
 
 
Then let it be night, My child.
 
When it becomes night,
the stars, which were not seen in the daytime,
start to twinkle.
 
The false light,
together with your false attachments,
must be consumed utterly.
 
So that the True light
may shine over
you and
around you.
 
 
at the foot of Acropolis of Athens,
written by Kinuko

Friday, February 19, 2016

Though parted now, by tempests tossed, shall safely in the haven meet.

 
 
 
He wants not friends that hath Thy love,
And may converse and walk with Thee;
And with Thy saints here and above,
With whom forever I must be.
 
In the communion of the saints
 Is wisdom, safety and delight;
 And, when my heart declines and faints,
 It’s raised by their heat and light.
 
As for my friends, they are not lost;
The several vessels of Thy fleet,
Though parted now, by tempests tossed,
Shall safely in the haven meet.
 
Still we are centered all in Thee,
Members, though distant, of one head;
In the same family we be,
By the same faith and Spirit led.
 
Before Thy throne we daily meet
As joint petitioners to Thee;
In spirit we each other greet,
 And shall again each other see.
 
The heav’nly hosts, world without end,
Shall be my company above;
And Thou, my best and surest Friend,
Who shall divide me from Thy love?
 
 
-Richard Baxter

Gazing Upon Our Homeland


Railway station filled with lovely local accents,
I go into the crowd and listen to them.”

ふるさとの 訛なつかし 停車場の 人ごみの中に そを聴きにゆく

This poem (called "tanka" in Japanese) was written by Takuboku Ishikawa (1886-1912, born in an obscure village in northern part of Japan) who had then lived in Tokyo. Struck by a heavy homesick, he went to the Ueno train station, which was filled with people from various regions, in order to listen to his local accents and to be consoled.

 

                                                                         Takuboku Ishikawa, 1886- 1912

When we speak in our local accents, don't we feel some kind of unseen bonds between us? Our dialects draw us to a sweet recognition that we are sharing the same "homeland."

And now, thankfully, we as believers in Christ, are no longer bound by such local, earthly attachments, but have become pilgrims who are wholeheartedly and single-mindedly seeking a heavenly homeland (Heb.11:16).

The writer of the book of Hebrews testified as follows.

13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
14 For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.
15 And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.
16 But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.  Hebrews 11:13-16

But our citizenship is in heaven. (Phil.3:20a, ESV)

The revealed reality of the heavenly homeland here would deliver us from earthly bondage such as ethno-centralism, ultra-nationalism and so forth. And I believe that the more we'll be freed from these bondages, the more we've come to be one in Christ and to each other.

 
Railway station filled with lovely local accents,,

Just like the earthly local folks, we pilgrims also share the special "homely" dialect with which we can communicate in an intimate and deeper way. Yes, this is the "language" which is born out of the "fellowship of the Spirit" (Phil.2:1). And this solidarity is a powerful, life-filled koinonia (=fellowship) which surpasses any earthly alliance.

 
,,I go into the crowd

To me, this "crowd" in the railway station here means a secular world which shows no interest whatsoever in Christ Jesus our Lord. In the midst of these noisy crowds and its rush streams, sometimes, I am just overwhelmed by an acute sense of homesickness. And then, like an a little stray child, my heart yearns for my fellow pilgrims, running about in the railway station.

 ,,and listen to them.

Dear sisters and my fellow wayfarers, reading your devoted writings and listening to your testimonies always make my heart warm and calm. Though we are currently scattered across the globe, the day shall come that we will be gathered in one place.

O Lord, until that glorious Day, help us to gaze upon our heavenly homeland with our single and faith-filled eyes. Amen.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

A delicate, loving flower on the rough, rocky road: My poem

 

 

 O look at that little white flower on the rocky road!
Isn't she beautiful and lovely?
Isn't she so pure and gentle?
 
Unknown and hidden,
Quiet and reposeful,
Tenderly planted by her Father's Hands
 
O people, please.
Do not trample her down.
Do not rush in her inner sanctum with your shoes on.
 
Covered with blood and mud,
Alone she groans,
Groans in her silence.
 
O the old rugged Cross,
and the Lamb crucified!
 
Is she dead?
 
"No, my child.
This shall not end in death
but lead to the Resurrection."
 
 
 
written by Kinuko
picture from here
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Dawn

 

 
The night is far spent, the day is at hand; let us therefore castoff the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.     Romans 13:12
 

    O watchman, will the night of sin
        Be never past?

O watchman, doth the tarrying day being
To dawn upon thy straining sight at last?
       
Will it dispel
Ere long the mists of sense wherein I dwell?
 
 
   
 Now all the earth is bright and glad
        With the fresh morn;

    But all my heart is cold and dark and sad:
Sun of the soul, let me behold Thy dawn!

        Come, Jesus, Lord!
Oh quickly come, according to Thy word!
 
   
Do we not live in those blest days
        So long foretold,

    Where Thou shouldst come to bring us light and grace?
And yet I sit in darkness as of old,

        Pining to see
Thy glory; but Thou still art far from me.
 
 
    Long since Thou camest for the light
        Of all men here;

    And still in me is nought but blackest night.
Yet Am I Thine, O hasten to appear,

        Shine forth and bless
My soul with vision of thy righteousness!
 
 
    If thus in darkness ever left,
        Can I fulfil

    The works of light, while yet of light bereft?

Or how discern in love and meekness still
        To follow Thee,
And all the sinful works of darkness flee?
 
 
    The light of reason cannot give
        Life to my soul;

    Jesus alone can make me truly live,
One glance of His can make my spirit whole.

        Arise, and shine,
O Jesus, on this longing heart of mine!
 
 
    Single and clear, not weak or blind,
        The eye must be,

    To which Thy glory shall an entrance find;
For if Thy chosen ones would gaze on Thee,

        No earthly screen
Between their souls and Thee must intervene.
 
 
    Jesus, do Thou mine eyes unseal,
        And let them grow

    Quick to discern whate'er Thou dost reveal,
So shall I be deliver'd from that woe,

        Blindly to stray
Through hopeless night, while all around is day.
 
 
-Lyra Germanica