Happy New Year 2010 from Uncommon Christian Ministries in Jerusalem, the Eternal City and Capital of Israel.
It has been a divinely blessed and amazing 7.5 months (arrived May 8, 2009) of living, volunteering, ministering, site-seeing and worshiping in various Jewish/Israeli and Arab/Palestinian churches in Jerusalem and throughout The Holy Land. Alas, I will soon provide a summary of my many activities; the list is long and thus the reason for the delay. See past blog entries to read about some of my activities so far. Another 6-19 months remain of my time here.
Above is a picture of my volunteer workplace (reception/front desk) at Christ Church Guest House, located just inside Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem's Old City. The adjacent Christ Church (Anglican, built 1849) is the oldest Protestant Church in the Middle East. I attended the Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year's Eve services at Christ Church.
Below is an 1825 New Year's Day journal/diary entry of the "uncommon Christian" James Brainerd Taylor (1801-1829, cousin of the famed American missionary to the Native Americans, David Brainerd [1718-1747]). At the time, Taylor was a second-year student at Princeton University. It was Taylor's habit to recognize the beginning of a new year by writing in his journal/diary and writing a letter to his family. Of the January 1, 1825 entry, the compilers of the Memoir of James Brainerd Taylor wrote,
As Mr. Taylor closed the former year, so, with the spirit of genuine piety, he began the new year with God. Perhaps no man more strictly complied with the injunction, "In all thy ways acknowledge him;" and none seemed more confidently to expect the fulfillment of the promise, "He shall direct thy paths" [Proverbs 3:5-6]. The commencement of his diary for this year is an interesting and instructive exhibition of his obedience and faith in this respect.May the entry prove encouraging as we say goodbye to 2009 and hello to 2010. Like J. B. Taylor, may we--by God's grace--desire and strive to be uncommon Christians, namely, and according to Taylor, eminently holy, self-denying, cross-bearing, Bible, everyday Christians.
January 1, 1825Taken from:
New Jersey, USA
That another year has rolled away is to me no matter of regret. In time, and beyond time, it will be remembered as a season of distinguishing mercy. Thanks to the good Shepherd [the Lord Jesus Christ, John 10:11; etc.] for "the green pastures" [Psalm 23:2] of the past year; to my heavenly Father, for his smiles; my Comforter [the Holy Spirit], for his presence.
What will occur this year is hid from mortal man. But O, it is in the mind of the omniscient [all-knowing] God. And this God is my God [John 20:28], to whom I am willing to refer all, both for myself and others. That he is on the throne is enough for me [Hebrews 12:2; Rev. 4:2; etc.]. And his glory he will not give to another [Isaiah 42:8, 48:11].
Direct me, O Lord, in the right way. Lead me in a plain path all paved with love—the path that leadeth upward, and reacheth the land of rest—the way of holiness—the King's highway [Isaiah 35:8; etc.].
I believe there are richer blessings in store for me; if not on earth, in heaven. And the Lord's will being done, it is not a matter of much concern to me whether on earth or in heaven. But should my life be spared this year also, may my soul sink—and sink— and sink into God, day by day. Then I shall grow in grace, and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus [2 Peter 3:18]—deny myself, take up my cross, and follow Christ [Matthew 16:24; Mark 8:34]—live to God [Galatians 2:19]—be a light in the world [Matthew 5:14]—salt of the earth [Matthew 5:13]—wise as a serpent, harmless as a dove [Matthew 10:16]—spiritual, and not carnal [1 Corinthians 3:1].
O that the lives of my relatives who are not yet for God, might be spared, to repent this year, and come to Christ; that my friends, who love the Lord, may honor him more, by bringing forth much fruit [John 15:16]. May this year be a favored season for Zion.
Lord, increase piety in the watchmen. Make the under-shepherds careful of the flock. May the flock be purified. Let souls be joined to the Lord in thousands. Prepare candidates for the holy ministry for their office. Make all that come after more holy and self-denying than those who have gone before.
Prepare me eminently to win souls to Christ [Proverbs 11:30], and build up the church [Ephesians 4:12]. This is all I ask in this world in regard to my relation to sinners. For thee would I labor; for thee, O Christ, would I die, rather than be a hinderance to thy cause. But here I am; do with me as seemeth good in thy sight. Thy will be done.
John Holt Rice and Benjamin Holt Rice, Memoir of James Brainerd Taylor, Second Edition (New York: American Tract Society, 1833), 258-60.
Memoir viewable online and at no cost via Google Books. Click here to read. Also, click here to read the memoir's sequel/companion volume A New Tribute to the Memory of James Brainerd Taylor (1838) by Fitch W. Taylor.