• Our hope-filled future is bound up in sharing the story of Jesus, in discipling others, in bringing those disciples together into communities of believers, and in developing and releasing those believers to create other communities... till Jesus the King comes again!

An open account

Ron (WT Europe) gave a talk at the recent WT Europe Area Conference on: The Weight of Eternity. I thought this short quote from William Gurnall’s book, The Christian in Complete Armour, shared a little glimpse into what he said during his talk.

Finally, the Christian ought to rely on divine strength because this plan results in the greatest advancement of God’s own glory (Eph. 1:4, 12).  If God had given you a lifetime supply of His grace to begin with and left out to handle your own account, you would have thought Him generous indeedBut He is magnified even more by the open account He sets up in your name.  Now you must acknowledge not only that your strength comes from God in the first place, but that you are continually in debt for every withdrawal of strength you make throughout your Christian course.  When a child travels with his parents, all his expenses are covered by his father – not by himself.

Likewise, no saint shall say of heaven when he arrives there, ‘This is heaven, which I have built by the power of my own might.’  No, the heavenly Jerusalem is a city ‘whose builder and make is God’ (Heb. 11:10).  Every grace is a stone in that building, the topstone of which is laid in glory.  Some day the saints shall plainly see how God was not only the founder to begin, but the benefactor also to finish the same.  The glory of the work will not be crumbled out piecemeal, some to God and some to the creature.  All will be entirely credited to God.” 

Worth the read?

I have been working my way through the three volume work of William Gurnall, The Christian in Complete Armour.  It’s Gurnall’s meditation on Ephesians 6 and the armour of God.  Here is what David Wilkerson (if you are not too young to remember that name) wrote in the preface: “A very godly friend gave me a copy of Christian in Complete Armour … At first I put the book aside.  It was too long, too wordy, and written in 17-century English. Out of curiosity, I scanned the first twenty-five pages. That is all it took to bring me to my knees. Gurnall, the pious Puritan, had touched something deep within me. His were such probing, scorching, searing words that they shook my inner man.  I devoured the entire book with great zeal.” 

A modern version of this work has been published.  Over the next few weeks, from time to time, I will share quotes from Gurnall’s work. I hope these quotes might be of encouragement and challenge to each of us. As well as serve as a way to convince some of the benefit of ploughing through the 900 pages!

Secular reason sees a Christian on his knees and laughs at the feeble posture God’s child assumes as his enemies descend upon him.  Only divine insight can perceive what mighty preparations are actually taking place.  Yet just as an unarmed soldier cannot achieve the military exploits of a well-equipped infantryman, so the carnal Christian cannot hope to do the exploits for God which the committed Christian can expect through prayer.  Prayer is the main line that leads straight to the throne of God.  By it the Christian approaches God with a humble boldness of faith, takes hold of Him, wrestles with Him, and will not let Him go until he has His blessing.” 

Up, in and out

I was talking today with a young church planter from Asia, working with a national organization in country.  He had just returned from facilitating a training session on launching and building discovery Bible groups or small house churches.  National pastors, Christians in professional jobs and students attended this training.

I asked him how he helped these different groups of people to adopt or own the idea of small groups that multiplied themselves in a given area.  His response was simple and straightforward: “Up, in and out”. 

Jumping off from Acts 2:42, he shared that his goal was to lead people to first begin by praying (‘up’) to God about whether He wanted them to move in this direction. I found that so refreshing that he shared an idea, and then let the participants be convinced by God that this would be the direction in which they should now go.  Then the current group (‘in’) would solidify their own fellowship and community through time spent together in ‘teaching, fellowship, and prayer’.  This would then lead the group members to move towards others (‘out’) and offer an opportunity to others to look into the Bible and discover God together.

I know I may have heard this phrase before, but it had a fresh ring to it this time, coming out of the mouth of a brother in Christ from another culture and country.  Prayer, fellowship, and outreach.  This is part and parcel of our life and ministry. 

Let’s learn fresh ideas together and then turn to God to see if and how He wants us to apply them.

Dependent

You know you’ve become the missionary you were meant to be the day you become dependent on the people you were sent to serve.”

I had to read that statement twice before I began to seize its full significance.  Why?  Because my natural tendency, as well as yours I would imagine, is to believe ministry is more about others becoming dependent on me as ‘full-time worker’ than on me becoming dependent on them.

In the book, The Ideal Team Player, Patrick Lencioni argues that there are three core qualities to an ideal team player. They are hungry, they are smart, and they are humble.  The hardest to measure and assess, he said, is humility. 

Pride is probably our default mode in most ministry efforts.  We want to do the job well, and we enjoy when others notice the good job that we are doing.  Appearing dependent on others makes us look weak, less capable than we thought, lacking the necessary skills to do the job, or not “leading” as we should.  Pride is one of those root sins that keeps us from admitting (or asking for) our need for others help and for God’s help.

So, maybe one indicator of a heart that is learning humility is to assess its ‘dependence factor’; that is, how much does that person demonstrate real need of others, real need of God in the culture in which they find themselves? 

You know you’ve become the missionary you were meant to be the day you become dependent on the people you were sent to serve.”

By the way, I pulled the quote at the beginning of this blog from another blog by Jonathan (http://leadbysoul.com/leadership/the-quiet-leader/). The quote is from a documentary interview of his father, John W (WT Papua alum).

He mentions my name

I remember playing for our university football (that’s ‘soccer’ for those from North America) team. Each day before a match, the coach would post the starting players for the next day’s game.  It was always a bit of a traffic jam in front of the posted sheet as everyone on the team wanted to see if ‘his name was mentioned’.  It was always a disappointment when you looked at the list, knowing you had been ‘mentioned’ the previous week, only to find that you were notmentioned’ this week.

Mark Jones, in his book: Knowing Christ, makes this statement: “Since Christ ‘always lives’, he always intercedes. There is no Christian alive who has not had Christ mention his or her name to the Father.”  Every time, we look up to God, we can be certain that our name has and is being ‘mentioned’.  We are His, and because of that bond, Christ ever lives to plead our need, and speak of us before the Father.

Multiple applications came to mind as I mulled over the notion of the intercession of Christ on our behalf:

  • When I walk out my door to reach, invest, or equip another, I do not go out alone. Christ is interceding for me, for His glory, that hearts might be opened, that faith might be deepened.
  • My worth is not dependent on my ‘output’.  My status as a child of God has been settled forever in heaven, and this frees me to engage others from a heart that knows it is loved.
  • It is not just myself and others who are interceding in prayer.  Jesus Christ is interceding before the Father on our behalf.  To put it in colloquial terms, this just takes prayer to a whole new level.
  • Though I may grow weary in prayer, Jesus ‘ever lives to plead our need’.  It is the divine hand that reaches out and picks us up in the midst of our exhaustion to let us know that when our strength comes to its end, His strength is only just beginning to be manifested.

Your ministry week may have been tough.  So, may the knowledge that Jesus Christ ever lives to intercede for us before the Father strengthen and encourage your weary heart and mine!

A simple read

I read a fair number of prayer letters of fellow WT workers.  It allows me to catch a small glimpse of their world and to be more informed in my prayers for them.

Sometimes, a simple read opens a door to an insight into a culture and to how fellow World Team workers are seeking to apply the Gospel in the context where they find themselves. Here’s one recent example:

It is K- New Year, one of the biggest holidays in this Asian country where everyone travels to their home provinces for a 3-day festival which marks the end of the harvest season … Our family spent some of the holiday in PV province and had the opportunity to attend the infamous Mango Party.  Our fellow teammates, J & C have been hosting the Mango Party for over ten years during K- New Year.  It is an event that embraces the traditions of the K- holiday of playing games and fellowshipping together, but also brings Jesus, our risen Savior, to the forefront during a time in this country where there is much focus on spirit worship … During this holiday, T & I, reflected on how in most religions water represents washing, cleansing, or starting over. As we watched people seek advice and guidance through elders and monks at local temples, our hearts were stirred once again to share the true living water of Jesus Christ with those we live amongst daily.  In our own power and strength, we can never wash away our sin or cleanse ourselves enough. How amazing is it that we have a Savior that loves us so much that he gives us Living Water EVERY DAY so that we may NEVER thirst, that we can come to him in our own broken condition and be accepted into his family and stand in the cover of his grace.”

Imagine that, a Mango Party that offers an opportunity to share the ‘water of life’ with others in that culture.

It was actually at a festival that Jesus made that famous pronouncement: “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.  Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” (John 7:37-38)

Thanks to my World Team colleagues who shared this insight in a recent prayer letter!  Much food (or ‘water’) for reflection!

You need to watch and pray!

If you haven’t watched this video, I would like to encourage you to do so.

Just imagine you are on a prayer walk in Mississauga and join in pray with Keith and others for the needs of WT Canada.

Thanks Keith for doing this. Pray as well for each one of our Ministry Support Centres and global partners!