• 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!

Worth the read (again)

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.  A modern version of this work has been published. 

As promised, 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 to convince some of the benefit of ploughing through the 900 pages!  Here’s a quote that should give us food for reflection:

Of the two strains of pride, I think spiritual pride must be far more odious to the nostrils of God, for it is on a higher plain than carnal pride. The life of a Christian, as a Christian, is superior to the life of a man as a man. And as the natural man is proud of those things which make him seem superior in the natural state (i.e., wealth, honor, beauty), so the Christian is prone to puff himself up when he perceives that he has superior spiritual attributes.

Pride always destroys love and separates saints. Without love for all the brethren, we are bound to lose much that God wants to give. The Bible says that every saint has been given gifts to benefit the body of Christ.

So beware of pride!  The only thing that will keep you from it is humility. Remember whom you wrestle with – spiritual wickedness. Their ploy is to lift you up high in order to give you a harder fall. They will try to convince you that your spiritual accomplishments are a result of your own efforts and that you deserve the credit for them. Surely you know this is not true!  In case you have forgotten, think back to what you were like before the Holy Spirit came to you with gifts from God’s storehouse.  How can you be proud of another’s bounty?  You may be able to impress other men with your gifts, but you will not impress God.  He knows where they all came from.

How can the Christian escape those persistent self-promoting thoughts?  Run from them as you would from an enraged bear. Do not stand still to listen to these lies, or soon the devil will have you erecting a monument to yourself with the glory of your God-given gifts.  Remind yourself daily how weak you are and how utterly dependent on God for every good and perfect gift.”

Faithful is He who called you

Honoring Doug & Alleene

Worth the read … encore

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.  A modern version of this work has been published. 

As promised, 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 to convince some of the benefit of ploughing through the 900 pages! 

Here’s a quote that would strengthen our hearts as we look forward to the World Team Day of Prayer tomorrow and Friday:

When Satan badgers you with trivial inquiries, do not try to reason with him. Answer him with your present position in Christ and His sure work of grace in your soul. Never forget that the simple truth of the gospel reduces all the intricacies of Satan to a worthless heap of lies … Still another way to fortify yourself against Satan is to preserve the hope of your salvation, which is promised through Christ’s atoning sacrifice. Record God’s special visits to you in the memory book of your heart.  Paste in keepsakes of the occasions when He declared a holiday and came to you in festive robes of mercy, holding forth the scepter of His grace more familiarly than usual.  Keep old receipts written in His own hand for the pardon of your sins. ” 

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).