Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Hudson Taylor's Call to Ministry

Hudson Taylor’s spiritual secret, they say, was to draw “for every need upon ‘the fathomless wealth of Christ’” (Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret, Littleton, CO: OMF  International, 2010, page 8). He was a very fruitful man, indeed, the fruit of his life extends to our day. However, the secret of his fruitfulness is not found in him but in Christ and therefore Christ alone deserves the glory.
Having said that, we can still learn from Hudson’s example for he was utterly committed to spending time with Christ so that he could draw upon his fathomless wealth. Jesus possesses everything we need for life and godliness and he’s perfectly willing to share it with those who are in him (2 Peter 1:3), but he requires that we ask, seek, and knock. He requires that we work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12).
And the reality is that it takes time to do these things and Hudson was willing to invest that time. For example, while still a teenager, he found himself with nothing to do on a given day. Instead of frittering the time away with useless things he decided to spend it with Christ, a decision that shaped the rest of his life. Here’s how he expressed what happened:
“Well do I remember how in the gladness of my heart I poured out my soul before God [that day]. Again and again, confessing my grateful love to him who had done everything or me, who had saved me when I had given up all hope and even desire for salvation, I besought him to give me some work to do for him as an outlet for love and gratitude…
“Well do I remember as I put myself, my life, my friends, my all upon the altar, the deep solemnity that came over my soul with the assurance that my offering was accepted. The presence of God became unutterably real and blessed, and I remember…stretching myself on the ground and lying there before him with unspeakable awe and unspeakable joy. For what service I was accepted I knew not, but a deep consciousness that I was not my own took possession of me which has never since been effaced” (11-12).
The repeated lesson of Hudson Taylor’s life has less to do with the particulars of life and ministry, and more to do with his spiritual secret. We will not be him. Only a handful of Christians will ever receive a call so great as his. But that’s not important. What’s important is that every believer learns to put Christ first, that we make time to be with him, that we draw for every need upon his fathomless wealth. If we will learn this lesson, we will bear all the fruit Christ has appointed us to bear for the glory of his name and the good of others.
Longing with you to bear the fruit of Christ,
Pastor Charlie

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Conversion

Hudson Taylor’s life was characterized by prayer in large part because of the way he came to know Jesus.  
When Hudson was seventeen years old, he was spending time in his father’s library and wondering what to read. His mother was away on a journey and he was feeling lonely, so he decided to pass the time reading a particular volume “as long as it did not get dull” (Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret, Littleton, CO: OMF  International, 2010, page 9).
What he didn’t know was that at that very hour his mother felt burdened to pray for her only son, so she left the company of friends and found a quiet place to pray. There she interceded for her son, on her knees, hour after hour. Finally, at a time of the Lord’s choosing, her heart was filled with the assurance that her prayers had been heard and that her son would be converted to Christ.
As Hudson read the volume he chose, he came across a phrase that for some strange reason arrested his attention, namely, “the finished work of Christ.” He wondered why the author didn’t state this in a different way but as he pondered he realized that this phrase had to be written just in this way because it referred to a “full and perfect atonement for sin…The debt was paid by the great substitute. ‘Christ died for our sins’ and ‘not only for ours, but also for the sins of the whole world’” (10).
Hudson wondered, then, “If the whole work is finished and the whole debt is paid, what is there left for me to do?” The answer was simply to fall upon his knees, accept this great Savior, and praise him forever. By the grace of God in Christ, that’s precisely what he did.
When his mother returned in two weeks he was the first to greet her and gladly reported the news of his conversion to which she responded, “I know, my boy, I know. I have been rejoicing for two weeks in the glad news you have to tell” (10).
To add to his amazement, he soon picked up a notebook he thought was his own but turned out to belong to his sister. By the grace of God, he turned to a page whereupon his sister had vowed to the Lord, only a month before, to pray for her brother daily until he was converted.
Hudson Taylor was born again by the power of the Holy Spirit but the Spirit’s chosen midwife was the prayer of other precious saints. Let us learn from this, Beloved, and let us pray for the lost with faith. Let us lift them up before the glorious and gracious throne of Jesus Christ, hour upon hour, until we too have assurance that our prayers have been heard.
Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone),
      Pastor Charlie

Friday, February 03, 2012

Prayer & Power

The following quote has impacted me over the last year. I read it in a book entitled The Kneeling Christian (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1971) that was written by an anonymous author. I don't want to get in the way of what the Lord might do in your heart with it so I will simply quote it and leave you to pray and ponder. It can be found on page 83:

"It would seem an undoubted fact that with God's saints in all ages nights of prayer with God have been followed by days of power with men."

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret

I love the way God works. He’s such a kind and benevolent Father.
The week before Sarah Weber left Minnesota to serve Jesus Christ at Beracha House in India, she mentioned that she had been reading a book entitled Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret. Each day I read a chapter or part of a chapter of a devotional book as part of my personal quite time. I was just about to the end of the book I was reading and had already been praying about what I should read next. I thought about buying the book Sarah mentioned but given the pile of unread books on my shelf I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. “That’s not good stewardship,” I thought. “If the Lord wills, I’ll read that book in due time.”
A couple days later, I finished the book I was reading and then walked over to my bookshelf to decide what would come next. Starting from the right, I prayerfully scanned each volume, making a mental list along the way, and what do you know, there it was: a brand new copy of Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret (Littleton, CO: OMF International, 2010). I must have picked it up at a Bethlehem event or something, but whatever the case may be, I knew it was the book our Father would have me read.
Although I had already finished my quiet time for the day, I couldn’t wait until the next, so I excitedly sat on the couch and read every word of the Table of Contents, the Foreword, and the first chapter which is only two pages long. And that’s all I it took for me to find the answer to the question, What is Hudson Taylor’s spiritual secret?
“What was the secret of such a life? Hudson Taylor had many secrets, for he was always in communion with God, yet it came down to one—the simple, profound secret of drawing for every need upon the ‘fathomless wealth of Christ’” (8).
Hudson Taylor’s spiritual secret is not to be found in him but in Christ. As he faithfully sought his Savior, Jesus conceived the ministry in his heart and birthed it through his life. Jesus is solely responsible for the spread, the breadth, the longevity, and the fruitfulness of the ministry which, by the way, still exists today under the name of Operation Mobilization.
Hudson Taylor simply abode in the vine, communed with his Savior, and surrender himself wholly to his will. In this way, he bore all the fruit the Savior appointed him to bear and, therefore, the glory belongs to God alone. We will not bear Hudson Taylor’s fruit but we too can abide in the Savior and bear the fruit he’s appointed for us. May we, then, look to our brother’s example and draw “for every need upon the fathomless wealth of Christ.”
Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone),
      Pastor Charlie