Friday, April 15, 2011

Random Musing on a Friday: Where is Beulah Land?

I love the music of the church today, but I often find songs from the church of my childhood stuck on "PLAY" in my head--and while some are a blessing, some are just corny (and not great theology, either). 

Question from today's blast from the past: where is Beulah Land, anyway, and why would we sing about corn and wine when we don't drink (just to be sure, I checked; the hymn was written by a Methodist 
evangelist, and at the time they were more teetotaling than Baptists)?

I'm thankful for the good old hymns--those that speak the truth of Scripture and our hope in ways that are both memorable and faithful to the Bible.  And I'm thankful for the good new hymns and songs that do the same.  And finally, I'm thankful to those who strive to write such songs and the people in my church who labor to find them, learn them, and teach them to us!

Please, though, no bad rhymes for "propitiation," and let's see if we can avoid uncertain heavenly geography.  

Tom Carr's Release: A Lesson in Prayer

The news traveled fast through the church last week when Tom Carr's wife Paula called Wednesday evening to tell us that she had been notified to come pick up Tom for release Thursday afternoon.  What a celebration we had then, and on Sunday when we had our live call to speak to Tom during the morning service.

Before it begins to fade in our memories, let me make a few points we should remember.

  1. The need for persistent prayer.  Tom's imprisonment lasted three weeks, and every day there seemed to be developments, positive or negative, that had us wondering what would happen.  Until the end, nothing did.  In the two days before the end, the news was all bad.  But prayer persisted, and Tom testifies that God was near him during those days, especially the dark days when it looked as if no release was coming.  Tom needed our prayer, but prayer was also the tool of God in changing the heart of the prosecutor.
  2. The importance of prayer no matter the circumstance.  The day before his release, Tom and Paula were told that there was virtually no chance of release.  And the prosecutor and judge who would try the case both had 99% conviction rates (Who would ever want to be a defense attorney in Japan?).  It might have been tempting to give up, or at least turn our prayers toward, "help the trial go well, Lord."  But we continued to pray, knowing it would be a divine intervention to turn events toward release.  In the end, it was.
  3. The humility needed in prayer.  We were powerless to do anything, and so often we were ready to move from prayer to action--but every time we discovered there was little or nothing we could do.  Prayer is most powerful in and through us when we are desperate, and we know that there is nothing we can do.
  4. The object of our prayer.  I was blessed in so many of our prayer times for Tom and Paula that our ultimate request was that release would glorify God, but that imprisonment and reaction would glorify him, too.  The need of the Japanese people that Tom and Paula love and serve is to know Jesus, and we asked that this experience would open doors wide so that the name of God would be exalted, and the fame of Jesus would grow.  How this will happen, we do not yet fully know.  But God is pleased with prayers that keep the focus where it must be.
Mark Womack mentioned on Sunday a desire to see God answer a prayer in an obvious and big way.  He did, and so did all of us who prayed for Tom and Paula.  Let's continue to pray that God is not done with this matter, but that it becomes what might be called a "game-changer" in the outreach in Miakonojo, Japan!