Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Faith and Daily Provision

Hudson Taylor was a man who knew much about depending on God for all of his needs. He was intimately familiar with the courts of the Lord, if you will, for he spent much time in prayer. And as one who sought to bring the gospel to the needy people of Inland China, he knew what it meant to receive God's provision for his life and ministry by faith and faith alone. 

So what do you suppose he would say is the key to receiving God's supply for one's life and ministry? 

“Let us see that we keep God before our eyes; that we walk in his ways and seek to glorify him in everything, great and small. Depend upon it, God’s work, done in God’s way, will never lack God’s supply” (Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret, OMF Books, 2010, pages 90-91). 

What I hear him saying is that receiving God's provision for the moment is part and parcel of seeking God in every moment. As we walk with Jesus and learn from him and seek to glorify him in everything, great and small, we learn to depend on him (and wait on him) when the chips are down and the stakes are high. 

We also learn to do God's ministry in God's way. We learn to listen to him and learn from him and die to our ways that we might live to his. And Taylor is right--when God's will is done in God's way it never lacks God's supply. That supply may or may not accord with our expectations but for those who are walking with and serving God, these kinds of details matter little. What is more important to him or her is that God be glorified in all things, no matter what that takes. 

So what is the key to receiving God's supply for one's life and ministry? Answer: walking with God in humble faith, looking to him for all things small and great, and resting in his perfect will, ways, and timing. May the Lord teach us to apply these things to life and so increase our fruitfulness for his glory, the good of others, and the joy of our own souls! 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Feeling Cold and Prayerless? Here's Some Good Counsel

No matter how much we grow to love Jesus and long to be in his presence, we all go through times when we feel cold and resistant toward seeking him in prayer. In times like this we really need to listen to the wise counsel of those who've gone before us, people like Andrew Murray. Please consider what this seasoned prayer warrior had to say about this in his book Teach Me to Pray (Minneapolis: Bethany House, 2002). 

"But precisely when your heart is cold and prayerless, is when you should go to the loving Father. As a father pities his children, so the Lord pities you. Do not think of how little you have to bring to God but how much He wants to give to you. Look into His face. Think of His tender, compassionate love. Tell Him how sinful and cold and dark you feel. The Father’s loving heart will give you light and warmth. Do what Jesus says. Shut the door and pray to your Father who is unseen [Matthew 6:6]” (page 25). 

O Lord, give us ears to hear and hearts to draw near to your loving presence! 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Risky Faith?

Hudson Taylor was a man of great faith who Jesus used to bring the gospel to inland China in the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-centuries. Due to his disposition and calling, he often trusted the Lord with matters small and great, and he saw the Lord keep his word and provide so many necessary things time and time again. 

At one point in his ministry, he felt called to recruit twenty-four people from Europe to go to China with no promise of personal provision--no certain salary, no certain place to live, no certain source of food or other necessities of life. Some criticized him for this call, for they felt that he was being irresponsible with the lives of others in the name of faith. But Taylor responded in the following words which I encourage you to read carefully and prayerfully: 

“To those who have never been called to prove the faithfulness of the covenant-keeping God…it might seem a hazardous experiment to send 24 European evangelists to a distant heathen land ‘with only God to look to’; but in one whose privilege it has been, through many years, to put God to the test at home and abroad, by land and sea, in sickness and in health, in dangers, necessities, and at the gates of death—such apprehensions would be wholly inexcusable” (Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret, Littleton, CO: OMF Books, 2010, page 89). 

What do you think about Taylor's response? Was he living by faith, or using faith to justify his own fleshly desires? Was he being irresponsible with the lives of others? 

In what ways does Taylor's faith challenge you? Inspire you? Concern you? 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Monster Bike Ride - Duluth and Back or Bust!

By God's grace, I have the opportunity to take a sabbatical this summer from May 18 to August 19. Sabbatical is not vacation, so I will be actively seeking the Lord, working on a few projects and doing my best to listen well and receive whatever Jesus has to say to me. 

But since I will be free from the daily pressures of ministry, I do plan to take one monster bike ride this summer. It's one that I've been wanting to take for years, and now I'll finally have the chance. I'm calling it "Duluth and Back or Bust!" The plan is to ride my bike from Elk River, MN to Duluth, MN in one day (150 miles), rest for two days, and then ride back home in one day. So that's 300 miles of riding in two days with a little break in between, and I can't wait to hit the road! 

That's the goal but the reality is that I'm very out of shape right now because I allowed the high stress of the last seven months to knock me off my nutrition and exercise track. But that's behind me  now and I've been back in the saddle for a few weeks, getting a little stronger every time I ride. 

My training plan is pretty simple: 

Mondays: Off 
Tuesdays: Speed Workout (cadence, speed-endurance or sprinting) 
Wednesdays: Recovery Ride or Cross-Training 
Thursdays: Off 
Fridays: Endurance rides (beginning at 25 miles and working up to 125 miles) 
Saturdays: Off 
Sundays: Speed Workout (cadence, speed-endurance or sprinting) 

I've got four weeks of training under my belt now, and I'm looking forward to starting a new round of training tomorrow. It's set to be a little colder this week, but hopefully it'll hit the low to mid 50s by Friday when I take my 45 mile ride. One way or the other, it feels good to be back in the swing of things and riding again. For me it's "Duluth and Back or Bust!" and I refuse to bust! 

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Prayer as a Grace-O-Meter

Consider this quote from Charles Spurgeon. I offer it without commentary because I wish not to obscure his words with mine.

"The condition of the church may be very accurately gauged by its prayer meetings. So is the prayer meeting a grace-o-meter, and from it we may judge of the amount of divine working among a people. If God be near a church, it must pray. And if He be not there, one of the first tokens of his absence will be a slothfulness in prayer.” 

Friday, April 03, 2015

James White on Jehovah's Witnesses

In preparing for two different teaching opportunities, I've been doing a lot of research on the Jehovah's Witnesses. Here's a great video by James White that will help you understand the basic issues with regard to them, and why orthodox, biblical Christians do not consider them to be Christians. May the Lord bless and strengthen you as you listen to this teaching. 

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

The "Ping Factor": Are you Like Pavlov's Dog?

In her book, Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other, Sherry Turkle quotes an economics professor who wrote this…let’s see if you relate:

“I’m trying to write…My article is due. But I’m checking my e-mail every two minutes. And then the worst is when I change the setting so that I don’t have to check the e-mail. It just comes in with a ‘ping.’ So now I’m like Pavlov’s dog. I’m sitting around waiting for that ping. I should ignore it. But I go right to it” (227).

Turkle then notes, “Our neurochemical response to every ping and ring tone seems to be the one elicited by the ‘seeking’ drive, a deep motivation of the human psyche. Connectivity becomes a craving; when we receive a text or an e-mail, our nervous system responds by giving us a shot of dopamine. We are stimulated by connectivity itself. We learn to require it, even as it depletes us” (227).

Technology is part and parcel of our lives, there’s no way around that and, in itself, it’s neither wrong nor evil. However, we must control it or it will control us. So how are you doing with the “Ping Factor”? Are you, like the professor, Pavlov’s dog in human form? What adjustments can you make to increase your health and well-being? How can you help those around you keep technology in its proper place?

May the Lord help us as we seek to have a healthy relationship with technology!