Thursday, April 30, 2009

Malaysia Day 7

Someone has left me a curry pastry, so I eat that and part of a coffee flavored bun for breakfast, along with mangosteen juice.

I have a few hours’ work on class prep and write up a review of a meeting held yesterday. The internet is so slow that each message has a 10-15 minute wait. So I haven’t called home on our internet phone in a while. I hope to get a chance tonight.

Three young fellows who work at the church are assigned to take me to the Central (Craft) Market and Chinatown. I can’t believe Sam, Samuel, and Timothy are such good sports – to take a ‘mother’ on a sight-seeing trip? Wow. They're happy to have the day off work.

Anyhow, they are lots of fun. We pop into a Chinese jewelry wholesaler and a soft-toy wholesaler within the first half hour, and they explore and buy stuff and generally have a good laugh. Then it’s a quick trip down the Chinatown street. We stop for Koong Won Tong, a brown herbal jelly that is considered a Chinese tonic. We perch on wooden stools with an 8oz bowl of jelly that is customized daily with cooling herbs. We sweeten it by pouring pour honey syrup over the bitter mixture. It is eaten with a soup spoon and is delicious. Literally, the name means “jelly of the part of a turtle.” Since they’re young guys, I don’t ask which part of the turtle it refers to. Timothy, on of the guys, spots the Thai coconut bags I’ve been looking for during the past two trips to Singapore and a few other goodies. We walk down the street to the huge, Central Market, a two-floor complex of craft and food venders. There is always food.

“Look! See those fishes? You should try it!” It is sticking your feet among hundreds of 2-6” “Dr. fish” who suck away the dead skin. Sounds awful. But Samuel persists. So I tell the three guys that if they’re in, I’m in. Any of them bail, and I’m not doing it. I pay the 20RM for all of us (about $1.50 each) for 10 minutes. Two guys are squeamish and especially ticklish, but they agree. We four roll up our pant legs, take off shoes and socks, sit on the hard wood bench and dangle our feet into the water. Fish swarm around our toes, ankles, and soles. We are a noisy bunch as the toothless fish chew on us – it tickles, and when a bigger fish attacks, you can really feel the bump bump bump. Reminds me of the leaches Grandma used to cleanse her blood (old Russian tradition). Samuel takes pictures with his phone and promises to send them my way. We are all happy when it’s over – and peel the 2:03 sticker from our trouser legs, rinse and dry our feet, and happily move to the next event, more of a quick walk through the craft mall. It’s time to eat.

The guys find Nasi lemak, the traditional Malaysian meal of fragrant rice steamed with coconut milk, spicy peanut sauce, hard boiled egg and cucumbers. They leave off the anchovies for me. They eat Sizzling Yee Mee, fried noodles on a sizzling hotplate of ginger black sauce; the noodles gradually collapse into soft, smooth succulent strands while it cooks. Has a sizzle and smokey flavor.

We walk back to the car past old buildings and the gates of a Buddhist temple. We can see a young woman bowing and waving joss sticks in front of a red altar. The guys stop to treat us with water, and then a glass of Air Mata Kucing or “cat eye drink.”

“No worries. The cats’ eyes are just a kind of fruit: longons. The herbal drink is boiled with sea coconut (a jellied seaweed) and fruit. We try a donut with a legend behind it: Yao Char Kueh” is a deep-fried dough: in ancient times when China was ruled by an evil prime minister surnamed Hui, the people deep-fried the dough to symbolize deep-frying the prime minister. Sadly, it tasted so good it became famous. They snag a lollipop for me for later and some other Chinese candy (the best is How, a peanut candy baked so hard that it is smashed with a hammer and bagged). The guys drag the shopping bags for me. Their mothers would be proud.

We skip a visit to the Pewter Museum for the sake of time and launch into traffic. It’s close to 5pm by the time I get home. Pam drops by to talk about tomorrow’s class (9-6) on World Religions and the Saturday session for youth. We have over 60+ students registered for tomorrow: I am surprised because it’s a government day off. The schedule is brutal for most Malaysians. They get up early, work all day, and many students including young kids go for after-school activities or tutorials (called tuition = extra classes at night); by the time they eat supper it may be 9 or 10pm.

Carol, who works in missions and volunteers in the counseling ministry, takes me to the mall. Quick Cuts promises a 10 minute haircut for RM12 (about $3.25). “I would be too scared,” Carol says, but I sit down and have my hair chopped into a balding, wispy cut. I figure hair is a renewable resource, and this cut is cool with so little hair left. Oh well.

Supper is at a Thai restaurant: sir-fried spaghetti with hot (spicy) basil leaves, Pandang chicken (wrapped and roasted in long Pandang leaves), rice and tofu in hot basil and chili sauce… and a wonderful green soursop juice that tastes like a combination of tart melon, citrus, and pear. I have Thai iced tea, which has lots of sugar and evaporated milk.

I have met so many accomplished and interesting women. Carol dotes on her husband and 13-year old son, and recently moved her widowed dad and widow mo-in-law into a big house with them. She loves DIY, and her place overlooks a beautifully landscaped lake with paths alongside and an infinity pool (edgeless) overlooking the lake. I hope she remembers to send a photo.

It’s 10pm before I get anywhere close to bed. W's getting ready for work when I call. I hop into the shower to wash the massage oil from yesterday off. (Chinese want you not to bath for a while after a massage.) How weird to shampoo my thoroughly thinned hair. Then I start writing. I still have to do some class prep. At 11pm, it’s going to be a long night and an even longer day tomorrow. Especially with 20 more students than they were expecting. And a talk to the youth ministry workers at 9pm tomorrow night. Prayers appreciated!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Malaysia Day 6

Last night I stayed up until 1am, reading, reflecting, and preparing. I’m awake by 5.30am. At 9.30, I eat a small papaya and am tired from working, so I have a snooze and shower. Pam and the pastor who runs the "homeschool" (Christian school for about 70 students, using British and Canadian homeschool materials) come by at 11am for a few hours of discussion about how our university might establish a branch campus here.

Then it’s time for lunch. We go to Little Cravings restaurant in the mall, where we have Dry Curry Mee, which is supposed to be noodles without soup. It has so much yellow curry sauce, spaghetti type noodles, chicken, and fried tofu that it might as well be soup. Lip-smacking good. Instead of a drink, Malaysians often order shaved ice with bits of sweets and nuts or vegetables in coconut milk, with brown sugar poured on top. The ice quickly melts and the ‘drink’ is eaten spoonful by spoonful along with the meal. My treat is called ABC or Air Batu Champur - “mixed ice cubes” and has jelly, peanuts, red beans, coconut milk, and cow milk on ice, with brown sugar and rose syrup on top.

The three of us drive to the construction site of an enormous convention center, the new church complex. A guard lets us on the grounds. The building will seat 5000, with a school for 1000, 20 hotel suites, a multi-purpose room large enough for two basketball courts, and a huge drop-off plaza where guests can enter or eat at restaurants and hospitality. It is girders, concrete posts, and brick walls, but the architects expect it to be completed in about a year. The resident architect, a church member, wanders over to chat and prays with us for the building and related concerns with us. He says it’s his dream job, but that he thinks about the project constantly.

The two women decide to take a different freeway back to Calvary, and happily have no problem finding home. Roads are in great shape – multi-lane side streets and modern freeways and bridges are everywhere. Cars stay in the general area of the lanes, but motorcycles dart between cars on every side. People drive from side-to-side as it seems best, changing lanes with or without signaling. Somehow, I haven't yet seen an accident though I've caught my breath a time or two as the driver talks on the cellphone and negotiates traffic.

Every horizon is broken by skyscrapers – whether office or residential. Most infrastructure has been built since independence from the British, 51 years ago. There are a lot of highway toll booths, and the toll card option makes it faster (top off at the bank, ease through toll gates without having to produce cash). I ask about salaries, since the food and retail is so reasonable. Salaries run around RM900-1000/month (about $250-300) for high school graduates in retail; it rises a few hundred ringgit (@RM3.6/$1) if someone has a college degree.

Back at the church building, Pam shows me around the very nice counseling center on the second floor (five meeting rooms and a central area). One room is set up with sand trays and small toys for children’s play therapy. She takes me up to the third floor where I 'live' and the staff is wrapping up the day. In about an hour (6pm), Tracy will drop me off for a massage before she heads for the gym – and then we’ll have a late supper.

The internet has been down most of the day because of the cloudy weather. Rain downpours wet the roads on the way to the construction site but let up long enough for us to stand and admire the project. It rained again part of the way home. Hopefully the weather lifts so I get an email signal in time to check email tonight. It does – I end up clearing office messages until it’s time to leave.

When Tracy drops me off, I have a 2 hour full body massage with scented oil for RM105 (less than $30). It is so painful that my legs are shaking and cold by the time the Chinese masseuse is finished with my back. She starts with my neck, works the kinks out of my shoulders and arms, hops on the table to knead my back, jumps off to torture my legs, flips me over, and – modestly – works her way from shoulders to toes. She finishes with a wonderful face and head rub. And then she brings two candles, offers me them for RM24 (about $7) – I have no idea what they’re for but figure, oh well, for that amount, let's give it a whirl. She lights one and sticks it in my ear, massaging the lymph nodes in my neck. It takes about 8 minutes per side to draw out all the wax and impurities. Gross but helpful. Suddenly my hearing is sharper!

When I go to pay, they don’t take credit cards. It's a new shop, their card account will be set up will be complete in May... in a few days. Tracy has to pay cash – and I’ll pay her back with the cash I have in the apartment.

Neither of us are hungry, but it’s 8.45pm and Tabitha (the youth pastor and tech guru) is sticking around to help me buy a phone. We meet her along the way, she hops out of her car and into ours with her one-year-old black toy poodle Shadow, and we’re off to the phone store. W has done the research and emailed Tab with his preference– so she has it all lined up at the best price. Shadow goes in with us, and the Chinese girl behind the counter asks if she can hold it. It is the first time she has held a dog, and she lets the back end droop, clutching its front paws and stomach until we show her how to hold it. Apparently my VISA card doesn’t have the chip needed to swipe through the machine, and the little phone store can’t enter the number manually, so I’ll have to hit an ATM and get cash tomorrow. Two for two – bad financing.

The three of us head for a famous chicken wing cart nearby, noted for its unique flavor. I try one (once again a stunning combo of salt and spice) but can’t eat any more. The dog licks my fingers. Shadow is without comparison – it will not tolerate a collar, but Tab bought the dog just before leaving for a 6 month internship in the States. Her parents raised a calm, quiet animal that sits on the lap, doesn’t eat meat (eats only fruit and dog biscuits) and doesn’t yap or run off. I tell Tab she doesn’t know how special her little poodle is. Tabitha eats her wing drumstick without the dog’s interference – it sits quietly on her lap and people-watches.

The children eating with their parents nearby watch wide-eyed as the dog puts its feet on the table and looks around. One little seven year old Chinese gal quietly sits with her parents at the outdoor food court. Why is she out at 10pm?

“This is very common,” say my companions. “She will go to afternoon school, maybe 1-6pm, then to tuition school after (tutorials) and probably now is just finished.” What! The kids around here get very little sleep – but so do their parents. It’s a late-night culture that unfortunately has to start early in the morning for work. But the real action is after dark – people out eating, talking, visiting. Anything but sleeping. Apparently there are restaurants and shops (Mama shops) run by Chinese that still do a good trade at 1am.

We’re not that dedicated to the night. By 10pm, we part ways – we drop off Tab at her car: she will be back in the office by 7.30 or 8am tomorrow. She heads for her parents’ home nearby, and Tracy walks me upstairs. We each take a little sliver of Japanese cheesecake from the fridge (the gift from Pastor Petrina after our three-dessert lunch yesterday). Tracy heads home; I head for the apartment and lock myself in. Tomorrow is another day. It’s after 11pm. Time to rest.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Malaysia Day 5

This time, it’s papaya, Asian pear, and mangosteen juice with sunflower seeds and oatmeal: I’ve run out of roasted peanuts. But there are still all kinds of fruit waiting in the fridge. My ride comes to get me around 9.30am. One of the delights is how well administrated this trip has been – I don’t take that for granted anywhere we go! I have met so many women with unique stories of how God has found them and how they are involved in the Story of Good News.

I’m seated front and center in the church until it’s time to speak about Jesus the Light of the World, to us, in us, through us. I cannot believe that I, mother of four kids, simple Seattle housewife, am so honored to share with these hundred-or-so women. They are responsive and their faces open towards me as I preach. I thought I might have too much prepared, but decide to heap the women with scripture, since that is True. At the end, the senior co-pastor gives an invitation and two women respond for the first time to the gospel. Others share with me what spoke to them. I think about how lucky I am to be here, and how generous of God that I (who am the least) should be up front. And how blessed to be covered with the prayer of my parents, family, and friends.

Mrs. G (co-pastor of this church) lets me freshen up in her office and offers me a drink of hot water. Then we join the woman pastor who does care ministries (orphanage, social services, senior center) for a Thai lunch: Tom Yam (sour) fish soup, pineapple rice, Japanese beancurd, mixed vegetables, pandan leaf chicken (chicken wrapped in long leaves and steamed). And then we share three kinds of desserts. Unbelievable that three women could eat so much! We have mango with rice pudding, sweet steamed bananas in coconut cream, and water chestnuts and jackfruit over shaved ice and coconut milk.

Mrs. G has to leave, but comes back with a wonderful cheesecake to take back to the apartment. The other gal and I wander into the mall. I find Milo (Australian milk powder, sugar, and chocolate drink), and she insists on paying. I feel badly that I got four packages (had I known…) We drive past the pastor’s house near the church, perched on a hill with a great view of the city below. A profusion of blooms tops their shrubs beside the driveway.

I’m always looking for the Malaysian version of British words: Motosikal; Filharmonik (orchestra), Teksi, etc. Students learn the Malaysian language at school, but many choose Chinese schools where they learn Cantonese as well. One mandatory course in English gives students a foundation for optional subsequent studies. Nearly everyone can make themselves understood. Even the maids who swish through the apartment and leave it sparkling when I arrive back home can speak English quite well.

I am suddenly tired. I fall asleep for an hour and then wander out into the neighborhood. Someone is coming to get me for supper at 7pm, so I have a good hour to explore. Most stores or service outlets (hairdresser, spa, doctors’ offices, etc.) are locked and the staff comes to let me in when I ring the bell. Nearby, I find a modern kitchen and household shop. They have Ghost chairs, our Corbusier recliner, and the most exquisite dishes. I choose two sets of egg cups, salt-shaker, and cream and sugar dishes. There are three girls in the family as of next week (after Jeremy and Rebekah’s wedding), but I’m sure at least one of them won’t like this plain modern china. And probably one will love it. If there’s a set left, I’ll keep it ☺. The pieces are beautifully proportioned.

I write, catch up on office mail, read the Malay gardening magazine I finally found in an Indian shop on our street (Impiana Laman), and relax. Tomorrow I’ll have to work on a PPT for the missions class, and that might take all day.

Ends up, there are four of us who go out. They know what I’ve been eating all week; everyone talks about it. The restaurant is The Wok, and we have gulai tumis, stingray and ladyfingers (okra) in curry; Lobak – 5-spice pork in spring rolls (my favorite); Juhuchar – a shredded turnip, carrot, mushroom and dried shrimp combo that is scooped into lettuce wraps; Assam prawns – with tamerind sauce; and Otak Otak (literally, “brain brain”) which is a fish mouse: beaten egg, chili and fish steamed in a banana leaf. We drink iced nutmeg juice, which tastes a lot like cold Coke.

The style is uniquely Malaysian, Baba and Nyonya Peranakan cuisine from the northern Penang area. In C18, C19, Malay women married Chinese coolies who had left their families behind in China. The photos on the wall show serious looking Chinese men in business suits (very British-influence) beside traditionally dressed Malay women. The women spoke Malay at home, cooked mostly Malay food, and dressed in their costumes, but the men spoke Chinese and English. The resulting blend of cultures produced a spicy, very tasty cuisine. “It’s dying out among the young. They want hamburgers and Pizza Hut. They don’t like the spices,” says the manager of the restaurant, who guides us through the menu and explains the food ingredients.

We drive a short way to a dessert restaurant. The streets are teeming with cars and people, even though it’s after 8pm and we are in a purely commercial district. “Malaysians like to be out after work. The children go with them. We like to eat.” The open air plastic chairs and tables are filled with groups enjoying their food and chatting.

I order a hot tea. One of the women has soy milk with glutinous rice; another an iced red bean drink; and yet another bean curd swimming in coconut milk. I try a bit of the latter, but I am SOOO full from eating so much. Day after day!

We talk about the church build which is well underway, but encountering the typical resistance from conservative thinkers who think they ‘hear from the Lord.’ As usual, these divisive voice are gathering steam and confusing the flock. The latest tools are hate blogs, which can be deadly because they shout to so many. Ignoring doesn’t solve the problem as the voice draw in others who have no discernment. My encouragement is to be gentle but consistent in pastoring the marginalized and to pray God’s protection around the project.

If only the inner circle of wounded and survivor mega-pastors would grab any minister thinking of building large! They would have great advice on what works and what to avoid from their own blows and battle scars. Some succeed and some are almost killed in the process: they are a unique club of hardened warriors who could advice, pray with wisdom, and protect the incoming member. I’d say, as soon as the pastors hear about a mega-church starting a build? “Grab the senior pastor, put him on a plane, and get him into a huddle with guys who have been there.” And have those guys advise and guide his process. (Yes, it always seems to be men with the vision to build big.)

The gals walk me up to the flat because it is 10.45pm. They troop back down and I’m alone in the building again. It’s quiet, peaceful, and I have time to write and pray for the church here.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Malaysia Day 4

One mango, one Asian pear, one longan fruit, and one half dragon fruit. Chop and mix well with ¾ c. raw oatmeal, ½ c. roasted peanuts, and ½ c. soymilk. And I have the best 4c. breakfast possible to stuff into a body. I feel like I’m at a tropical spa on a fabulous detox diet.

What I think is longan isn’t. When I look it up, longan fruit is something else. What I eat is shaped like a pear and has a similar texture, but the skin is deep red. At the end opposite the stem, the fruit looks solid and round, but when I cut it open, there’s a hollow carved into the end.

Dragon fruit has a hot pink peel with green-tipped scales: I have had the Red Pitaya version in Singapore. Its white flesh, speckled with black seeds, is cooling, refreshing. The dragon fruit here is Costa Rica Pitaya, which has the deepest possible fuscia-colored flesh, staining everything deep cotton candy pink. So I have Barbie-pink cereal and gums before I start the day. I scrub to make sure my teeth aren’t stained as well.

Dee the receptionist is due at 9, and will take me “anywhere you want to go.” Which may be to the mall, sadly. I’m intending to people watch and see what KL values (values often being found at local malls). On the other hand, I have a walking tour from the Malaysia Air magazine that looks interesting. I probably won’t need lunch, since I could hardly finish my breakfast. Dee has been assigned to make sure I have supper. For the first time since my arrival, my hall light goes out, and I hope it’s because she has arrived: the whole floor has interconnected light switches.

I find my first two bugs, a small pale spider and a tiny ant. I wash one down the drain and squish the other with my toe in a very un-Hindu manner. I’ve lost my hairbrush, so finger-comb and settle down to finish a PPT for tomorrow’s session until about 1pm. Just as I’m about to open the door, Dee knocks, wondering if I’m ready to head out. We transfer the PPT to her computer, edit it, and head downtown.

Enormous metal hibiscus flowers hang on lampposts lining the city center. (In the evening, they are lit and look spectacular.) Highrises with 20-50 storeys clutter the skyline: they absorb the populations migrating from villages throughout Malaysia. All the world’s architects must have had a party here – there are so many interesting buildings it’s hard to choose a focal point. It may be the KL Tower, which lights up to look like a pineapple high in the sky at night. It is the world’s fifth tallest structure at 421 meters. A telecommunications tower, it was completed in 1995 and houses a revolving restaurant at the top. Visitors can climb Bukit Nanas to access the building and head by lift to the observatory deck on top. Here, there are built-in telescopes that they can use to zoom in on parts of the surrounding city. (the latter stolen from because I’m too tired to rewrite the info.)

We pass the Indian community and banking district with the stunning Islamic high court. There is a quota for Malay, Chinese, and Indian workers at most places. Three banks are owned by Chinese. Dee points out a beautiful China bank, where the chairman is revered as the authoritarian and workers put in lots of overtime because they consider it their family bank. Customer service and conservative investments means this bank is doing well, and loyalty is high. I can’t remember if Dee was talking about him or another investment banker who was Chinese: “I saw him come from an elevator once where everyone was lined up and people bowing, even those in their 50s.”

The AMBank used to be called Arab-Malaysian Bank, and it is local, but funded by Arab oil money. The Hotel Istana is a stuning 5-star hotel=. There are roof gardens on many skyscrapers, their towering palms blowing in the tropical breezes. From 1997-2000, Dee worked downtown, so she points out many landmarks – statues, the Crown Plaza, banks, hotels and other places in the Golden Triangle.

It’s about 2.30 by the time we settle in at a restaurant in one of KL’s biggest malls under the shadow of the Petronas Twin Towers. They are 452 meters-high and were the world’s second highest structure when they were built in 1998. The park around them used to be a horse-racing track, but it was relocated to permit the erection of the KLCC conference center, mall and city park. Most of it is funded by oil money.

The Malaysian menu at has me drooling, and we settle on splitting two dishes. The first is Nasi Bojari: three-color rice, assam prawns (salty fish taste, with lots of onions), Beef Redang, and a deep-fried crispy chicken drumstick cut into three pieces. The second is a flat fried noodle with egg, chicken, cuttlefish, octopus, and a few vegetables. It’s like going to a great buffet – we polish it off with mango juice and a dessert (in lieu of Dee’s drink) of shaved ice, jelly pieces, peanuts, and various floating other things. Yummy.

We wander over to a bookstore where I find a Japanese home magazine and Chameleon, the jewelry store we usually visit in Johor (on our Singapore trips). I find a few things to take home for the girls. Then it’s off to a grocer, where I find four packages of W’s favorite green and jasmine tea mix.

We walk out onto the terraces overlooking the park and I order an iced chai at Dome Coffee. Dee enjoys an iced latte. We walk through the park, past huge ponds and cross the stream on a tall pedestrian bridge. There’s a jogging track beside the path for the newly health-conscious population. The weather is marvelous: it is overcast and cool (29o? – 88oF?) as we stroll by an enormous children’s playground and huge wading pools (the pools are closed for renovation). Everything is beautifully maintained, and apparently the park is a magnet for families on weekends.

“Chinese families like to stay in on the weekend, but Malays love to get out. They take their families on trips, picnics, or come out to the parks to socialize.” One of the reasons the Muslim population is growing is that anyone marrying a Malay must convert to Islam. Malays are by definition Muslim and conversion to other religions is forbidden and punishment is enforced. Their children must be Muslim. This creates problems for Roman Catholics, especially. Many Muslim “converts” are not strict in their practice, but clergy can punish any Muslims (including the laksidasical) who do not observe the Ramadan fasts or eat pork (which the Chinese love!) The Malays hate dogs, so if they complain about a yappy family pet they can create problems. Within this unequal system, the various ethnics groups get along fairly well.

Crime has risen with the influx of foreign workers: Indonesians, Filipinos, Burmese, Vietnamese, Chinese, and Bangladeshis mix with the indigenous peoples. Most foreign servants are barely considered human – they are just conveniences, and many suffer abuse from their employees. Motorcycle drive-by crimes are fairly common: a woman driving and talking on her cell phone should not be surprised if a cyclist smashes her passenger window to snatch her purse. A church worker was accosted last week by two men outside her family gate, her purse was snatched, and she escaped by kicking one of the men before vaulting back over the locked gate. Increased police patrols are at work to track down the criminals.

But mostly, KL feels like a well-oiled urban center. Professionally dressed employees and tourists mix on the downtown street. We weave in and out of rush-hour traffic at 7pm on our way to a Satay restaurant. I fall on the uneven stairs going up to the restaurant level, about the same time I’m thinking about how we have to watch for non-standard steps. No damage done, but I realize how tired I am. It’s 5am back home. Dee talks about her visits to see her uncle in Vancouver and how difficult it is for Malaysians – even non-Muslims – to travel abroad. I invite her to stay with us on her next visit to Canada and the USA.

The village where the Satay sauce originated is famous: the restaurant is part of a large chain known for bringing this version of the sauce to KL. Dee and I have four skewers each, along with sliced cucumber and pressed rice. We dip chicken, rice, and veg. into crunchy peanut sauce flavored with hot chili sauce.

It is dark at 9.30pm when we make it back to the church offices. Dee unlocks and relocks the front door and sees me up to my floor. She shuts down her computer as I prepare for bed. It’s late (about 10pm) and tomorrow I preach for a women’s service before going for lunch with Pam’s mom. The women’s group collected a generous offering for me last week, so I could go shopping when I arrived.

Nothing has prepared me for the kindness, friendliness, and warmth of the Malaysian people. Or the beauty of their surroundings!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Malaysia Day 3

It’s a slow start to the day. After I wake at 6am, I do email, have devotions, make muesli, etc. and hum along with the band that starts up at 9am in the service below the apartment. Pam comes to take me to the main church service at 10. “It’s been very hot the last few days,” she says, asking if it’s too warm for me. Nope. “Usually it is 30-31oC, but it’s been 32-34o.” It feels fine.

The church has expanded beyond its original boundaries, buying up homes in the neighborhood which now function as youth, children’s, and communications centers. The main sanctuary is a long room of three sections: the original, built by missionaries decades ago (before they were kicked out of Malaysia) and two added sections. Video monitors in each section connect the congregation to the happenings at the front.

We sit in the front row, off to one side. Pam’s mom is co-pastor, and she sits beside us. The band is great – worship is focused and well-directed. I know one song. A yellow canary is loose in the church, but it doesn’t distract from the pastor's straightforward message about the blood of Jesus. He plants a stainless coffee mug on top of the crossbar of the cross that makes up the front of his pulpit. He is a powerful speaker who applies scripture. I haven’t heard such a direct presentation of the blood of Christ in years. It reminds me of childhood repentance services.

The large congregation is expanding into a new convention center in the next year. Pam doesn’t have time to show me the building model after service, but we head to the IUtama Shopping Center for lunch. The restaurant, one of a popular chain owned by one of my students, is called “Delicious,” and the food really is tasty. I have a coconut curried chicken on noodles, topped with cucumber swirls. Pam has a prawn sandwich that looks almost as good. Lime and longan fruit drink cools it off.

We have no time to spare to start class: I zip into the apartment to pull off my skirt and put on capris and head over to the classroom. 25 students gather today from 2-6pm. Some have other obligations, and a few have to leave early to participate in services elsewhere. It is a long day of standing and my feet are swollen when it’s done.

Jenny takes me to the night market, where we decide to wander along the food booths and sample whatever looks good. We start with a wonton-like wrapping with vegetables in the midde: one fried and two non-fried wrappers. The vendor cuts them into pieces. We pick up a crepe (like roti) with vegetables inside from the next vendor and order drinks – I get a creamy coconut and brown sugar Malaysian specialty that has gel strips floating in it. We prop the food between us, sitting on the curb across the street. People wander in all directions, chatting, buying food, and just visiting.

It looks pretty clean, and I wonder where the bugs are. Jenny assures me that there are probably rats lurking behind some of the stalls. Nearby, a sugar-cane juicer strips the canes bare, and the worker heaps the leftover stem straw into a massive heap.

Next, we sample a Turkish chicken and vegetable combo wrapped in pita. We find two plastic stools near a table – the others scoot sideways to let us in. I’m stuffed. The satay booth looks delicious but there is no room left in my appetite.

We walk between booths selling underwear, hardware supplies, children’s clothing and toys, jeans, watches, and other assorted goods. A few cow heads hang from hooks in the meat section. There are no flies, just cuts of meat suspended in the hot air. The market is an orderly assortment of people and stuff. There is no yelling or badgering, just the end of a Sunday with a lot of people in the same place. We take a whole bunch of blurry pictures of our food, laughing and enjoying the company.

As a special treat, Pam has asked Jenny to take me to a reflexology foot massage. Unfortunately there is only one worker available, so Jenny sits it out. First, I sit on a chair soaking my feet in a tub of hot water while the masseuse rubs the kinks out of my neck and shoulders. After ten minutes, I hop over to another chair, she dries my feet, and goes to work. It is oh-so-painful at times, but the Chinese gal is strong and knows just where to press. She doesn’t understand Cantonese, Jenny’s language, but we somehow communicate and they try to teach me a few words. Jenny laughs at my pronunciation sometimes. She snaps pictures of me, relaxing.

We have a nice chat with the manager, and the masseuse grasps my hands tightly when we are leaving. It must be a lonely life, without God and without family in a strange country.

Jenny drives me back to the apartment about 10.20pm and we sit in the car and chat for a while. We talk about the challenges of ministry in times where we feel no passion or interest, and the value of praying liturgy and others’ prayers when we have no prayers of our own to offer.

I head up about 10.40pm. I’ve been asked many times if I am afraid to stay alone in the complex, and the staff repeatedly warns me to lock up behind myself. “Don’t be out too late; it wouldn’t be good for someone to see you going into the building all by yourself.” It’s almost enough to make me think twice about staying alone. “The budget hotel next door is used for not-so-nice things, but at least there are people coming and going.” Okay. It’s a comfy bed with quiet surroundings. I am under God’s watchful eye and that’s good enough for me.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Malaysia Day 2

With the help of another little blue pill, I wake only twice in the night, and rest from 8pm to 5.30am. Catching up on email takes over an hour, and then I call W on my computer line. When I’m done, I eat muesli made of raw oats, mango, orange, banana, and peanuts, blended with soy milk. It is an amazing combination: fresh, light, and filling.

"Were you lonely? Was it too quiet? Are you ok in the building by yourself?" my hostess is concerned. Malaysians have a reputation of warm hospitality, and they prove themselves throughout the day. I tell her I'm fine - after raising four lively children, a stay with utter quiet and solitude is a blessing, not something to fear.

Class starts at 9am with about 30 students. The trip to my classroom is the shortest commute ever… a few steps across the hall. With two short breaks between three sessions, the morning ends at 1. We walk across the street to a Malaysian restaurant: Nyonya Village. The Nasi Lemak and other dishes are wonderful – chili noodles, coconut rice, Beef Redang, crispy fried chicken, fried spinach (-type), and pickled turnips. The mom, two young men and I polish it off with a sweet dessert of diced yams boiled in young coconut milk. Splendid!

The class is droopy after lunch, but small group interaction perks them back up for the marathon session until 6pm. We have two more small (10 and 15 minute) breaks, but it is a long go. I wouldn’t want to hear the rambling of the middle session again! The students tell stories of how they practice spiritual disciplines, and I learn a lot.

I don’t know what the class is expecting. The direction I got to develop the course was “History of Spiritual Formation. The disciplines.” So I have taken a quick trip through church history and highlighted the various disciplines practiced by those earlier believers. We pray four Celtic prayers together to start the afternoon, and end the class day standing and reciting the Orthodox liturgy for Saturday, April 25. The class is tired but enthusiastic.

Supper is a 10-minute drive to a Chinese Pork Soup restaurant with Kay and her husband. They tell the waiter not to include pork hocks, but it wouldn’t have bothered me: Germans eat pickled pork feet and use pork hocks with sauerkraut (and other dishes.) Kay wipes down every dish and our chopsticks with a tissue, supplied in the center of the table. We soak tiny pieces of spicy hot peppers in a little bowl of soy sauce, upon which we also lean our chopsticks and soup spoons. In addition, we are given a bowl of rice and a separate soup bowl. We put the salty green and red peppers on the rice and pork to add flavor. We toss the bones on the table near our dishes.

The fans all along the walls keep the air in motion and cool us in the 31oC (92oF?) evening. It is very pleasant during this dry season, absolutely wonderful and warm.

“Chinese believe in heaty and cool foods. We balance the yin and yang by combining foods. So because it is a hot day, such a cooling soup (the steaming pork broth) is good for taking heat from the body.” We drink sweetened iced chrysanthemum tea, good to cool the fried vegetables and stave off the heat. Blanched greens topped with soy sauce, fried and chopped flour pastries, and fried bean curd top the rice and pork. Anything we can fit into the soup spoon is wetted with broth. Deeeelicious. The server burps loudly behind me as he prepares to take away our dishes.

We sit and chat in a leisurely way, and the couple offers to take me shopping or to visit anything I want to see. It is already 8pm (5am Seattle time) and I feel like I am fading. So they drop me at the door and wait for me to unlock and relock the front door of the complex before I start up the stairs to the third floor. We’ve been taking the six flights of stairs (lots of room between floors) to work off some of the good food. At the top, I unlock and relock the conference room, walk through to my hallway, unlock and relock my apartment door, and prep for bed.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Malaysia Day 1

Day 1
It’s 5pm, Tokyo time. Mind you, that’s 1am Seattle time. I have a brief snooze on the plane, watch Slumdog Millionaire, You, Me and Marley (nice pet movie with a marriage to watch over the dog), and another so memorable I’ve already forgotten it. Oh yeah, Benjamin Button. The vegan meals are dreadful – a supper of soggy rice with indifferent, tasteless vegetable curry, and a tiny bowl of whole wheat cheerios with soy milk for breakfast. The fruit doesn’t look fresh so I don’t touch it. I drink eight or nine glasses of water and four cups of green tea. So there’s good reason to stretch my legs every few hours.

As we are touching down after ten hours, the flight attendant asks, “What are you doing going to Singapore instead of directly to Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia)? It’s only seven hours from here.” I have no answer for her. “Hardly anyone goes that long way around, especially with a multi-hour layover in Singapore.” We pause to think about it.

“Did you book online?” the attendant asks. We did.

“That’s how you got an extra night’s runaround. Booking online, people zig and zag all over the world. You may not be tired now, but it will hit you in Singapore. They have an airport hotel where you can sleep by the hour. If you had gone direct, you would be in KL by midnight.” Sad. I’ll have to talk to my booking agent about that for next time.

I might try the hotel. I’m planning to pop a little blue sleeping pill on the way to Singapore, right after we eat breakfast…which will probably show up as an Asian supper. After a seven hour flight, I have a five hour layover in the middle of the Singapore night (1.30-6.50am). I’m scheduled to reach KL an hour later. Like Hopefully they won’t have a big itinerary planned. I need to do some class prep for tomorrow (lost a day on the flight) and get some rest. The teaching schedule is brutal: I have a 12 hour class to teach: eight hours on Saturday and four on Sunday.

The rice paddies glisten in the afternoon sunlight as we drift into Japan. The harbor is lined with walls to hold salt water out of the straight-edged fields. The Tokyo airport is clean. Security is quick and efficient – we don’t have to take our shoes off or computers out of their cases. I have no trouble finding the gate two hours before my flight to Singapore.

The bathrooms are tiny, but some of them have built-in bidets. Not mine. I also avoid the squat-hole type typical for old-fashioned installations. A young mom pushes a high-tech stroller past the attendants who are setting up to check in passengers. Japanese babies complain in high-pitched tones. Slowly passengers start to drift over to the gate. CNN drones throughout the terminal, so I sit as far away from the monitors as possible.

The sleeping pill takes hold as I stretch across four seats on the way to Singapore. “Only 90 passengers in a 300 seat airplane. This is bad for business,” moans the flight attendant. Later I have time to talk to him about his faith. He’s a Buddhist Thai who went to Sunday School and church and made a profession of faith in his teens. He hasn’t studied scripture or done more than go to church occasionally to listen to the pastor. When he tells me he did a science undergraduate degree in San Francisco, I ask if he passed the exams by getting all his information from class lectures or if he had to read the assigned textbooks. “It’s the same for growing in faith – you have to read and study the text, which is the Bible.” We talk about his marriage, kids, Bible translations, where to start reading, the meaning of life, and God’s provision for an uncertain future in the airline industry.

I catch up on email after we land in Singapore at 1a.m. By the time I’m done, the hotel rooms are fully booked. I stretch out on a three-foot wide window ledge and sleep fitfully for a few hours. The person in the next window well snores steadily. Loudly. People come and go. The cleaners dust the counters. At 5a.m. I get up.

My next divine appointment is in the lady’s restroom with Karin, a Buddhist who is an IT trainer. She says hi as I’m washing my hands and somehow we start a conversation about the meaning of life and inner peace. She’s a workaholic who contracts out all around the globe. Karin’s on her way home from Australia for her sister’s wedding in KL.

In the past two weeks, she has had serious questions about life’s purpose and the dissatisfaction of working too many hours with little appreciation from her bosses and no time for personal growth.

I tell her I’m happy to be the person God has sent across her path to invite her to a relationship with himself. We contrast the emptiness that is Buddhism’s goal with the Christian emptying of self so God can fill us with his love and peace. We talk about setting boundaries so there is time to renew the inner person and feed the soul.

After an hour, the bathroom gets crowded with women applying makeup, so we move outside and I pray for her in the main corridor. She fiercely hugs and thanks me – it is such a natural and joyful conversation. Karin’s father went to RC schools and has given her permission to explore any faith she likes, including Christianity. (She also has an aunt who is a Christian legalist – the whole family is irritated with the aunt for giving away 15 (or was it 50?) percent of all income as a tithe, regardless if her family goes hungry. Her siblings are tired of giving her money that she promptly gives to the church. “The church demands it,” she tells them.)

Karin has never opened the Bible she received from a work colleague five years ago, but thinks she may slow down enough to explore it when she returns home. She follows me in to the gate for our flight to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. She asks if I mind if she sits with me and continues the conversation. She is absolutely open, astonished by God’s care of her to put us together for these hours. I don’t see her after we touch down in KL, but we have exchanged emails and she promises to update me on her spiritual journey.

One box of literature takes forever to arrive at the KL airport. I’m the last one from our flight who goes past the green lane of customs (nothing to declare). There are no hassles crossing security all along the way, for which I am grateful. Tracy and Yuen, the Malaysian ladies picking me up, are waiting. We stop for roti parata and chicken curry. Yum!!! A banana leaf wrapped around rice (almost too spicy for the Malaysians), a bowl of dal (flavored lentils) and a tea-o (tea without milk) completes the meal. Simply delicious. Tastes like coming home.

I’ve hoped to rest when I get to the church apartment, a beautiful kitchen, dining room, living room, bedroom, and bath with a huge shower. I’m the only one in the building at night – the classroom where I’ll be teaching is just across the hall. The women give me an envelope with phone numbers and information on it in case I have to talk to someone before they return to the office in the morning. Our travel phone is dead – the battery heats up but the phone doesn’t power up, so the IT guys promise to try to find me another cell phone.

I end up spending a few hours revising student notes for duplication, which turns out to be a complicated affair. We have to turn the document into a PDF because parts of it won’t otherwise print.

Yuen takes me for a late lunch at the mall – we have noodles with curry before stopping at a local Tesco grocer. Fruit, nuts, oatmeal, fruit juice are the making of a good breakfast muesli. Instead of taking me out each morning they’ve decided I should get groceries and relax in the mornings. Fruit and baked goods are dropped into a bag and weighed, labeled, and sealed at a separate counter before we put it in the shopping cart.

Pam (who runs the educational program) drops by for a few minutes to say hello, tells me not to bother coming to the church prayer meeting tonight (a relief with eight hours of teaching tomorrow!), and leaves. We were going to go for lunch, but she had another appointment which ran long. She asks if I’m ok having supper on my own – sure, I’ll have fruit and cookies if I’m hungry. At the moment, I’m still stuffed with lunch.

I guzzle some water when I get back to my flat, my first water since landing. I’ll have to stay hydrated, but the city’s heat is a relief after the cool Seattle winter. It’s probably 90- 95o and sunny. I relish the light. It warms my bones. The car is air-con’d to an ice cube, so we all put our sweaters on while we drive around. Traffic weaves in and out but stays in its lanes (unlike Jakarta, Indonesia, where five cars stretch across three lanes of traffic in constant movement from side to side as well as forward.)

By the time I settle down to blog, it’s 5pm (2am Seattle time). I’ll probably eat a bit and pop another sleeping pill around 8pm after I look over my notes for tomorrow. God is good. And I’m happy to be in Malaysia. If W were here, we’d be out and about tonight. I miss him already. I’m going to stay in and rest. (“Please don’t wander onto any other floors. People might wonder what you are doing in the building,” said the staff as they left.) Soon I have the four storey complex all to myself. Aaaah. Luxury.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Gardening Eden - book offer

You interested in environmental issues? I have a free book to give away.

Gardening Eden: Before the snake, the apple, and the Ten Commandments, God created a garden, placed humans in it, and told them to take care of it. It was part of our our first job description!

“Spiritual environmentalism” did not start out as an oxymoron—it was an invitation. Yet today, many believe God’s original job description for humankind has been replaced by other worthier pursuits. So when did this simple instruction become so controversial? How does one sort through all the mixed messages? Is making the world a healthier place for the next generation really a responsibility—or even possible?

Gardening Eden is a new understanding of how the spiritual dimensions of life can find expression and renewal through caring for our incredible planet. Empowering, simple, and never polemical, Michael Abbaté outlines the Bible’s clear spiritual benefits of caring for creation, exploring new motivations and inspired ideas, and revealing the power of our basic connection to all people and living things through the growing interest in spiritual environmentalism.

Green living is no longer a fad—simple lifestyle solutions are now available to everyone. Gardening Eden shows readers how this shift transforms not only our world, but their very souls as they’re drawn into deeper harmony with the Creator. This book invites them to discover the powerful spiritual satisfaction of heeding the call to save our world.

Author Bio:
A nationally recognized expert in “green” development strategies, Mike Abbaté is a founder of GreenWorks, an award-winning landscape architecture design firm. He frequently speaks to students and leaders about practical ways to minimize the impact of building and landscape design on natural resources. Abbaté’s work has been featured in national magazines such as Metropolis and Landscape Architecture and in many local newspapers and trade publications. He and his wife, Vicki, have two adult daughters and live near Portland, Oregon.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Special Easter treat: free book!

These two books are by Waterbrook Press: I have a free copy for the first person to ask for one. Choose your fav!

Remember Henry Blackaby of Experiencing God? He's back with a new book, Experiencing the Spirit: Serve God as never before

The first Christians “turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6) shaking the gates of hell even in the face of severe persecution. The result: People all around “were filled with wonder and amazement” (Acts 3:10).What can give Christians today the same impact?

God’s Holy Spirit is ready to answer that for us in an awesome way, as Henry Blackaby and his son Mel Blackaby make clear in Experiencing the Spirit. You won't find a Pentecostal theology, but you will find an interesting perspective of God at work. The authors show how the Spirit’s presence guides God’s personal assignments for us and empowers us to carry them out. You’ll explore the difference between natural talents and spiritual gifts. What are the dynamics of being filled with the Spirit through intimate relationship with Him, committed obedience, and radical departure from sin?

Instead of working for God with your abilities and talents, you’ll be encouraged to seek what God wants to do through you supernaturally by His Spirit... beyond your personal competence and capacities.

The Treasure Principle: Flip-Flop Your Concept of Giving!

Bestselling author Randy Alcorn introduced readers to a revolution in material freedom and radical generosity with the release of the original The Treasure Principle in 2001. Now the revision to the compact, perennial bestseller includes a provocative new concluding chapter depicting God asking a believer questions about his stewardship over material resources. Readers are moved from the realms of thoughtful Bible exposition into the highly personal arena of everyday life. Because when Jesus told His followers to “lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven,” He intended that they discover an astounding secret: how joyful giving brings God maximum glory and His children maximum pleasure. Discover a joy more precious than gold!

Story Behind the Book
After years of writing and teaching on the theme “God owns everything,” in 1990 Randy Alcorn was sued by an abortion clinic (for peaceful, nonviolent intervention for the unborn). Suddenly he had to resign as a pastor and was restricted to making minimum wage. Legally unable to own anything, Randy gave all his book royalties to missions work and need-meeting ministries. He and his family have experienced the reality of The Treasure Principle—that God really does own everything, takes care of us, and graciously puts assets into our hands that we might have the joy and privilege of investing in what will last for eternity.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Lent ends

Officially, Lent is over. That means I won’t have to write every day, one of my Lenten disciplines. What a relief, although I write anyhow. Nearly every day. There are other disciplines that help shape us through the years. Those will continue as well.

I wonder which spiritual disciplines formed Jesus over the years, bringing him to the obedience of the cross. We know he prayed, that he studied the Jewish scriptures. He probably fasted as he celebrated the regular seasons of the Jewish calendar. Those small steps and “yes”-s along the way are what teach us to climb steep paths. They help us coast through the quiet times when God seems distant. And highlight the joyful times against the hard times.

As we read the dreadful Good Friday message with our son today, my heart was in my throat. What agony and embarrassment, what pain and humiliation Christ carried for us. We who could not meet the perfection required for a relationship with God… we who could never ransom ourselves… broken, undone… while the holiness of God meant he could not pretend we had never transgressed or pushed him away.

And then rescue came as God’s justice and love was satisfied through Jesus’ death. Tonight we celebrate the horror of our own debt and the unconditional loving-kindness of God. How could we comprehend such infinite and merciful provision?

God’s peace to you today

John 18
When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was an olive grove, and he and his disciples went into it.

Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. So Judas came to the grove, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons.

Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, "Who is it you want?"

"Jesus of Nazareth," they replied.

"I am he," Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) 6When Jesus said, "I am he," they drew back and fell to the ground.

Again he asked them, "Who is it you want?"

And they said, "Jesus of Nazareth."

"I told you that I am he," Jesus answered. "If you are looking for me, then let these men go." This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: "I have not lost one of those you gave me."

Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest's servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant's name was Malchus.)

Jesus commanded Peter, "Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?"

Then the detachment of soldiers with its commander and the Jewish officials arrested Jesus. They bound him and brought him first to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it would be good if one man died for the people.

Simon Peter and another disciple were following Jesus. Because this disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the high priest's courtyard, but Peter had to wait outside at the door. The other disciple, who was known to the high priest, came back, spoke to the girl on duty there and brought Peter in.

"You are not one of his disciples, are you?" the girl at the door asked Peter.

He replied, "I am not."

It was cold, and the servants and officials stood around a fire they had made to keep warm. Peter also was standing with them, warming himself. Meanwhile, the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching.

"I have spoken openly to the world," Jesus replied. "I always taught in synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret. Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said."

When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby struck him in the face. "Is this the way you answer the high priest?" he demanded.

“If I said something wrong," Jesus replied, "testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?" Then Annas sent him, still bound, to Caiaphas the high priest.

As Simon Peter stood warming himself, he was asked, "You are not one of his disciples, are you?"

He denied it, saying, "I am not."

One of the high priest's servants, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, challenged him, "Didn't I see you with him in the olive grove?" Again Peter denied it, and at that moment a rooster began to crow.

Then the Jews led Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor. By now it was early morning, and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness the Jews did not enter the palace; they wanted to be able to eat the Passover. So Pilate came out to them and asked, "What charges are you bringing against this man?"

"If he were not a criminal," they replied, "we would not have handed him over to you."

Pilate said, "Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law."

"But we have no right to execute anyone," the Jews objected. This happened so that the words Jesus had spoken indicating the kind of death he was going to die would be fulfilled.

Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, "Are you the king of the Jews?"

"Is that your own idea," Jesus asked, "or did others talk to you about me?"

"Am I a Jew?" Pilate replied. "It was your people and your chief priests who handed you over to me. What is it you have done?"

Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place."

"You are a king, then!" said Pilate.

Jesus answered, "You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me."

"What is truth?" Pilate asked. With this he went out again to the Jews and said, "I find no basis for a charge against him. But it is your custom for me to release to you one prisoner at the time of the Passover. Do you want me to release 'the king of the Jews'?"

They shouted back, "No, not him! Give us Barabbas!" Now Barabbas had taken part in a rebellion.

John 19
Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe and went up to him again and again, saying, "Hail, king of the Jews!" And they struck him in the face.

Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews, "Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him." When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, "Here is the man!"
As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, "Crucify! Crucify!"

But Pilate answered, "You take him and crucify him. As for me, I find no basis for a charge against him."

The Jews insisted, "We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God."

When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid, 9and he went back inside the palace. "Where do you come from?" he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer. "Do you refuse to speak to me?" Pilate said. "Don't you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?"

Jesus answered, "You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin."

From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jews kept shouting, "If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar."

When Pilate heard this, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judge's seat at a place known as the Stone Pavement (which in Aramaic is Gabbatha). It was the day of Preparation of Passover Week, about the sixth hour.

"Here is your king," Pilate said to the Jews.

But they shouted, "Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!"

"Shall I crucify your king?" Pilate asked.

"We have no king but Caesar," the chief priests answered.

Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified. So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). Here they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle.

Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read:|sc JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS. Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek. The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, "Do not write 'The King of the Jews,' but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews."

Pilate answered, "What I have written, I have written."

When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom.

"Let's not tear it," they said to one another. "Let's decide by lot who will get it."
This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled which said,
"They divided my garments among them
and cast lots for my clothing." So this is what the soldiers did.

Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, "Dear woman, here is your son," and to the disciple, "Here is your mother." From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, "I am thirsty." A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus' lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, "It is finished." With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jews did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus' side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe. These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: "Not one of his bones will be broken," and, as another scripture says, "They will look on the one they have pierced."

Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jews. With Pilate's permission, he came and took the body away. He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. Taking Jesus' body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Lent 37: Fearfully made, wonderfully accepted

God takes pleasure in each person he has made. Each of us is different. Each is unique. When Christ came, he also was a personality – full of fun, shown by his jokes and love of children; passionate, like when he preached the Sermon on the Mount (Matth 5-7); hopeful, demonstrating God’s abundant life; patient, letting the disciples hang around without learning everything in three years.

In the midst of an office move, I’ve been slugged with a personal weakness, my inability to focus in a disorderly space. When the kids were young and going in every direction I was unable to keep the house tidy. It was sometimes incapacitating to have toys, papers, dishes, and other household things strewn about. I’m realizing how debilitating it was as our place is being cleared out and the messes belong only to my husband and me.

We packed up our offices last week for our move, but the computers and furniture headed over to the new space Tuesday. Since Monday, my laptop helps me keep up with work. Meanwhile, I can tackle smaller projects and details while I wait for my desk to get set up.

What shocked me was the depth of my disorientation. I’d thought and done research all weekend about how my office and my student worker’s would look and feel, then sat in the empty office with a laptop for 2 days, leaving Tuesday evening before the movers arrived. (They ran late, of course.)

Wednesday, I came in to find that the configuration had been changed overnight… certain furniture pieces couldn’t come apart, a small difference in carpet height made the difference between fitting my file cabinet under a fixed shelf, etc. The installers were sent away before they could reset the office, but the project manager told them he’d straighten it out. He asked me for a snap decision to redo the spaces, “Ok, what do you want?”

As I was asking him about the way the furniture could fit, he exclaimed to a passerby: “I just realized she thinks by talking!” which didn’t help. My muddled flow of words meant he was giving me no space or time to process. Instead of trying to work it out with him, I should have said, “Go away. Come back in 15 minutes and I’ll have an answer.”

I spent the day staring at heaps of “stuff,” a table in pieces, carpet rolled up, boxes covering half the floor. I unpacked three boxes onto my bookshelf, the only thing that was in the right place. Maintenance gave me a cordless drill so I could undo the long unworkable shelf. Two hefty guys helped get it out of the room and the amazing Maintenance crew came by to mud the walls. Slop slop. No more holes, but a few drywall chips on the floor.

I got home from work in time to leave for an extended Easter choir rehearsal. The music on the page was not transferring to my fingers. “My office is in a mess!” I exclaimed as I totally bombed transitions and bridges in the song. “Oh, that’s no excuse,” said a singer friend whose office is almost set up. “All our offices are messy.” She is social, not visual, and enjoyed visiting for two days until her furniture came.

I woke this morning with a raging headache, realizing I like peace and order. Most of all, I hate inconveniencing others while I process and redo until things are settled. But if I don’t get it right, the space will distract and annoy me every day. Once the boxes are unpacked, I suspect there will be little energy for moving again.

God knows our frailty, that we are dust. I am stunned over and over again by so much grace for each of us. What bothers one person makes no impression on the next. People are goal-oriented or go-with-the-flow, visual, workaholics, legalistic, or free-spirited. Some are relational, community-minded, messy, or meticulous. And all of us are beloved. Forgiven. Cherished by a Father who takes great pleasure in our appeals for help and our humble recognition of our failures and God as Source and Savior.

What’s diverting us in this Lenton season? Do we accept ourselves? Broken, flawed, imperfect, and an inconvenience as well as a blessing to others? If so, we can move ahead in the grace-filled, abundant, and peaceful life Jesus died to bring. I guess it’s back to the office-in-heaps for me.

God’s peace to you today.

*Doing wrong is fun for a fool, but living wisely brings pleasure to the sensible. Proverbs 10:23 NLT

*For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11 NLT

*The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. Hebrews 1:3 NIV

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Lent 35: Eat a sandwich

“Eat a sandwich and make a difference!” I can’t believe my ears. The TV ad says that the company selling sandwich ingredients will donate a portion (small portion) of revenue to some worthy cause. If only it were that easy – stuff bread with ingredients and save the world. Fulfill our obligation to care for others with self-indulgence.

Off screen, it takes great effort to make a real difference. One of our friends eschews chocolate and caffeine. “Giving up something is good for a person,” he maintains. Does it help anyone but him? Perhaps the discipline transfers to other decisions as well. Spiritual disciplines can be useful to develop maturity and give us a heart to serve God by caring for others.

When I think of the coming Easter weekend, I am amazed by the investment of God. Somehow there is separation from heaven, denial of God-privilege to be human in the poorest surroundings, born in a family that was puzzled by perfection in ordinary skin, betrayed and deserted by closest friends and trusted followers. And it’s all to save us from the terror of perfect justice. All to reconcile us to a loving heavenly Father.

Easter – the high holy season for followers of Christ. A salvation won that is worth much more than the indulgence of eating a certain brand of lunchmeat or cheese.

God’s peace to you today.

*David was conscience-stricken after he had counted the fighting men, and he said to the LORD, "I have sinned greatly in what I have done. Now, O LORD, I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing."

Before David got up the next morning, the word of the LORD had come to Gad the prophet, David's seer: "Go and tell David, 'This is what the LORD says: I am giving you three options. Choose one of them for me to carry out against you.' "

So Gad went to David and said to him, "Shall there come upon you three years of famine in your land? Or three months of fleeing from your enemies while they pursue you? Or three days of plague in your land? Now then, think it over and decide how I should answer the one who sent me."

David said to Gad, "I am in deep distress. Let us fall into the hands of the LORD, for his mercy is great; but do not let me fall into the hands of men."

So the LORD sent a plague on Israel from that morning until the end of the time designated, and seventy thousand of the people from Dan to Beersheba died. When the angel stretched out his hand to destroy Jerusalem, the LORD was grieved because of the calamity and said to the angel who was afflicting the people, "Enough! Withdraw your hand." The angel of the LORD was then at the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.

When David saw the angel who was striking down the people, he said to the LORD, "I am the one who has sinned and done wrong. These are but sheep. What have they done? Let your hand fall upon me and my family."

On that day Gad went to David and said to him, "Go up and build an altar to the LORD on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite." So David went up, as the LORD had commanded through Gad. When Araunah looked and saw the king and his men coming toward him, he went out and bowed down before the king with his face to the ground.

Araunah said, "Why has my lord the king come to his servant?"

“To buy your threshing floor," David answered, "so I can build an altar to the LORD, that the plague on the people may be stopped."

Araunah said to David, "Let my lord the king take whatever pleases him and offer it up. Here are oxen for the burnt offering, and here are threshing sledges and ox yokes for the wood. O king, Araunah gives all this to the king." Araunah also said to him, "May the LORD your God accept you."

But the king replied to Araunah, "No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing." So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen and paid fifty shekels of silver for them. David built an altar to the LORD there and sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. Then the LORD answered prayer in behalf of the land, and the plague on Israel was stopped. NIV

* Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. Remember, O LORD, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old. Psalm 25:4-6 NLT

*Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance... Romans 5:1-3 NIV

Monday, April 6, 2009

Lent 34: In transition

1. What is our role in what God is doing as we are in transition? Moves can be chosen or forced, like Elijah’s constant travels in the Bible. One unusual partnership of scripture is between Elijah and the widow of Zarapheth: both were in the middle of hard times and less than idea surroundings. The widow still had to cook, set the table, and clean the dishes. Recognition went to God through the prophet. The woman did the hard work to make it possible for a new season of life, but the miracle was done through the prophet’s prayer and contact with God.

In the story I read this morning, (below) I realized that most of us are supporters of others’ work like the widow, rather than the star of the show like the prophet. In my missions coursework, I see that a few are sent but many others support them. A few leaders have to make decisions on the next step, but most people do routine work to stay alive.

At my job, Advancement is a supporting department. We are organizers who raise money and friends and keep people informed. In other words, we enhance and enable what others do. Our team supports students, faculty, and others who go. Occasionally, we get to go somewhere, too.

Most people's work is part of a bigger picture – each part is vital but not exclusive. God’s work goes on, but we are invited to add our gifts to his mission. At Northwest, Merlin has killer photos in this year's Karisma yearbook, but they’ve published yearbooks before. Kristi is my superb student worker, but Alumni Services must go on even when she’s sick or away. If I disappeared, someone else would be hired to do Alumni Services.

2. God sends change to us as an opportunity to serve him and others: Our university president Dr. Joseph Castleberry calls relocation a necessary migration, built into our DNA. In scripture, when the cloud moved, the Israelites moved. In my home reef tank, animals shed one shell for the other. Corals move around for more space and water flow. All God's creatures are in motion, and God is doing something new among us.

Most of us swim in a small pond, no matter how big the fish (or title on our door). Transition stressors reveal what we care about and what is important to us. So, how do we line up with God’s values?
o It's not what position we have – God doesn’t care about that. We could be a student worker or director or VP.
o It's not what office we scored in a new building – God doesn’t care about that.
o It's not the prestige of recognition, having someone compliment us and tell how valuable we are – God doesn’t care about that.
o It's not the control of workflow: does the buck stop at my desk or am I supporting others’ work – God doesn’t care about that.

3. God values faithfulness in whatever is at hand. The smallest tasks done in his name are as important as the greatest. I stood outside the photo booth at a student event, and knew that I was working for God himself.

Let's see how he will take the little we have to offer, the meager oil poured out in new places to bring abundance and provision. Let’s go into the new space--whatever it looks like--to see how God will use us. Perhaps we will gladden the heart of a prophet like Elijah. Perhaps God will give life provision for a widow and her family. Or more likely, in our case, we'll see how he’ll make it possible to train students at Northwest.

God's peace be with you.

Now Elijah the Tishbite, from Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, "As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word."

Then the word of the LORD came to Elijah: "Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan. You will drink from the brook, and I have ordered the ravens to feed you there." So he did what the LORD had told him. He went to the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan, and stayed there. The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook.

Some time later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land. Then the word of the LORD came to him: "Go at once to Zarephath of Sidon and stay there. I have commanded a widow in that place to supply you with food."

So he went to Zarephath. When he came to the town gate, a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her and asked, "Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?" As she was going to get it, he called, "And bring me, please, a piece of bread."

"As surely as the LORD your God lives," she replied, "I don't have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die."

Elijah said to her, "Don't be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small cake of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. For this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: 'The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the LORD gives rain on the land.' "

She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the LORD spoken by Elijah. 1 Kings 17

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Lent 33: Preening and plumage

Jesus would have less than a week to live if he was in “our time” before Palm Sunday and Holy Week. He would have celebrated his last Sabbath, gathering to recited Torah with his family or followers. They would have laughed, talked, and sung the Psalms. The next day he would walk into Jerusalem with crowds lining the streets, shouting “Hosanna to the Son of David!” And in less than a week he would be betrayed by an insider, falsely accused and tried by religious authorities, and flogged and nailed to a cross by Roman soldiers.

Yesterday was a busy day in “our time,” too. By noon, my office pack-up was complete. Fragile things were in the car to be transported to the new building. Our church pastors met at lunch. Alumni wanted help with diplomas and updates. After heading home, I wrote a few references into the paper I have to finish this weekend. Then it was 7-11.30pm, time to work at “Evening.”

Evening replaced the Spring Banquet a few years ago as the annual student tradition. Against windows showcasing Shilshole Bay and the mountains, many young women had preened, with perfectly done hair and makeup, fashion outfits, and glittery accessories. A few reveled in not preparing at all: “A twenty-minute fix,” said one who would have looked at home in an office. The guys’ plumage ranged from rented pirate coats to T-shirts over jeans to purchased gangster suits. “You should see my fedora,” said one who had checked his hat at the door. Glittering eyelashes to casually tossed scarf. It was a spectacle of insiders and outsiders moving, watching, chatting, and snacking on beautifully prepared desserts.

I was asked to help at the photo booth and pass out yearbooks. God’s sense of humor is not always appreciated: the booth was in a room with the deafening band. I screamed instructions for three hours to those incapable of reading directions on the screen… without earplugs. (Reminded me of consistently being volunteered for my least favorite appointment in younger years, watching 6-18 month babies in the nursery.) I snuck away for 15 minutes midway to see our magician friend’s illusions act.

In a few weeks, the graduates plan to launch into the world. Will they find work? Good company? Kindness? Suffering? Humor? True love? Betrayal? Probably all of the above. But this night, with pictures captured in a photo booth crammed with three classmates or just a special someone, is already a memory of “Remember when? Those were the good old days.”

God’s peace be with you!

*LORD, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. I will praise the LORD, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. I have set the LORD always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Psalm 16:5-8 NLT

*So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13 NIV

*And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming. 1 John 2:28 NLT

Friday, April 3, 2009

Lent 32: The reaper and sower

Jan is an alum who will be resuming studies in our adult education program at Northwest U. A few years ago, she was the process of divorce, so we sat down together to pray and talk. She wanted to continue her education and I pointed her to our university.

She became an instant hit among students in the traditional program, blending in with her youthful appearance and infectious smile. But more than that, Jan’s big heart and wisdom came from a lifetime of suffering and repeated forgiveness. Soon students were hanging out at the coffee shop with her or driving to her house for home cooking, mentoring, Bible studies, and just plain… well, Jan. She dropped out after a year to fully engage in the senior high school year of her youngest (yeah, she’s also the kind of mom who puts her kids first). Meanwhile, God brought along the love of her life, so she started a new journey. Her wedding was a celebration among many friends.

I called her yesterday when I found photos of a trip she took for her 40th birthday, an extreme sports adventure in Europe. She’d left the albums with me on a visit last fall. “So good to hear your voice!” we said in happy unison.

“What am I doing? Well, I’m a director at X and prayed yesterday with a 96-year-old lady to receive Christ,” Jan’s delight was obvious over the phone lines. “Her family had been praying for her for decades.” I’m one of those who usually sows and tends the field of souls. Jan is a harvester, so the call was an affirmation to keep doing the work God puts in front of me, so that Jan and those like her can bring people to peace with God. I can’t wait to see her today when she picks up her pictures!

God’s peace be with you!

*In all that he did in the service of the Temple of God and in his efforts to follow God's laws and commands, Hezekiah sought his God wholeheartedly. As a result, he was very successful. 2 Chronicles 31:21 NIV

*(Jesus) ”Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you." Luke 6:37-38 NLT

*(Paul) My ambition has always been to preach the Good News where the name of Christ has never been heard, rather than where a church has already been started by someone else. I have been following the plan spoken of in the Scriptures, where it says,
'Those who have never been told about him will see,
and those who have never heard of him will understand.'
In fact, my visit to you has been delayed so long because I have been preaching in these places. Romans 15:20–22 NLT

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Lent 31: Clutter-free Christianity!

When did the Christian life become so complicated? You want to please God, but your spiritual to-do list keeps getting longer. With a never-ending inventory of requirements for being a godly parent, spouse, voter, employee, and more, do you feel increasingly disconnected from the God you’re trying to serve?

Cut through the clutter and get to the heart of what it means to please God. In this liberating look at the core principles of faith, Dr. Robert Jeffress shows what God really wants from you–and what He wants to do for you. These solid biblical teaching and practical insights point to a revitalized faith centered on becoming more like Jesus in action, attitude, and affection. Learn to partner with God in the process of spiritual transformation as you choose to follow Christ in forgiveness, obedience, trust, contentment, service, and prayer.

By focusing on experiencing the kingdom of God right now, you’ll find your to-do list shrinking and your spiritual life deepening. Embrace Clutter-Free Christianity! The book includes a Bible study guide for personal growth and group discussion.

Dr. Jeffress is the senior pastor of First Baptist Dallas, one of the most historic churches in the Southern Baptist Convention. He's written sixteen books, is a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary and Southwest Baptist Theological Seminary. Dr. Jeffress’ weekly messages are broadcast live to millions of listeners and viewers each week, and his daily sermon series airs on 1,100 television stations and cable systems nationwide. He and his wife Amy have two adult daughters.

Lent 30: On the balance trainer

I’m wrestling with balance. A recent fitness trends is a balance trainer: the athlete stands or exercises on a rounded mound. At first, the body is very shaky, making large adjustments to an unstable surface. Usually a trainer will stand alongside to provide a stable handhold. Gradually, the person learns to refine movements to be stabilize posture and position. The bobbing stops, and equilibrium is achieved.

Life is a constant series of experiences and relationships. The instability of environment, expectations, and reality produces a shaky footing. Unless we have support and a steady anchor, we may sway and even fall. When finances, career goals, relationships, or surroundings are changing, look to the church and personal mentors for stability. God promises balance and peace in times of flux.

God’s peace to you today

*The people who had moved to Judah from Israel, and the people of Judah themselves, brought in the tithes of their cattle, sheep, and goats and a tithe of the things that had been dedicated to the LORD their God, and they piled them up in great heaps. They began piling them up in late spring, and the heaps continued to grow until early autumn. When Hezekiah and his officials came and saw these huge piles, they thanked the LORD and his people Israel!
'Where did all this come from?' Hezekiah asked the priests and Levites.

And Azariah the high priest, from the family of Zadok, replied, 'Since the people began bringing their gifts to the LORD's Temple, we have had enough to eat and plenty to spare. The LORD has blessed his people, and all this is left over.' 2 Chronicles 31:6–10 NLT

*Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears us up; God is our salvation. Psalm 68:19 NLT

*Thanks to Tillie Porter for the following:
Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. I will praise you, O Lord m God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever. For great is your love toward me; you have delivered me from the depths of the grave. Psalm 86:11-13 NIV

Teach me Thy way, O Lord, teach me Thy way!
Thy guiding grace afford, teach me Thy way!
Help me to walk aright, more by faith, less by sight;
Lead me with heav’nly light, teach me Thy way!
When I am sad at heart, teach me Thy way!
When earthly joys depart, teach me Thy way!
In hours of loneliness, in times of dire distress,
In failure or success, teach me Thy way!
When doubts and fears arise, teach me Thy way!
When storms o’erspread the skies, teach me Thy way!
Shine through the cloud and rain, through sorrow, toil and pain;
Make Thou my pathway plain, teach me Thy way!
Long as my life shall last, teach me Thy way!
Where’er my lot be cast, teach me Thy way!
Until the race is run, until the journey’s done,
Until the crown is won, teach me Thy way!
--Benjamin M. Ramsey, 1919.