Friday, September 11, 2009

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The stream and its source

Hudson spoke these wise words to his missionaries, and I could not help but apply them to fathers and mothers:

"Very few have been long in connection with missions without hearing a great deal of the faults and failures of the native Christians. Is it not the case that their faults and failures are very much the reflection of our own?

What the spiritual children will be depends on what the spiritual father is....The stream will never rise highter than its source, but it will not fall far short of it, circumstances permitting. The hardness of heart which is a hindrance to the Gospel is not that of the hearers; it is the hardness of this heart of mine."

I want that perspective to be mine. It should go a long way toward cultivating much needed patience and graciousness.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

What's the use?

Thomas Brooks in The Secret Key of Heaven argues for private prayer being not only very powerful but an absolute necessity.

"Private prayer is a work of absolute necessity, both to the bringing of the heart into a good frame, and to the keeping of the heart in a good frame. It is of absolute necessity, both for the discovery of sin, and for the preventing of sin,... and for the weakening of sin, and for the purging away of sin. It is of absolute necessity, both for the discovery of grace and for a full exercise of grace, and for an eminent increase of grace. It is of absolute necessity to arm us, both against inward and outward temptation, afflictions, and sufferings. It is of absolute necessity to fit us for all other duties and services,"

For Hudson Taylor, it was at times of extreme weakness and intense prayer that God guided toward bold new strategies for the mission and provided for the needs.

If the Brooks quote depresses you, remember that God gives grace to pray. Ask for it. In faith. Expecting sweet returns.

Imitate Hudson Taylor

I am reading more of Hudson Taylor and am deeply stirred.

He came to see that the work of evangelizing inland China was God's work -- not his. And thus, however grim things looked humanly speaking -- low funds, criticism from other believers, government restrictions, threat of war, sickness -- he prayed intensely and moved forward, trusting God to provide for HIS work. God provided wonderfully, if sometimes just in the nick of time.

What does that look like for me? These children are yours, O Lord. I am yours. All is yours.
So this work, too, is yours, and difficulties cannot be the barometer for whether I should move forward.

Taylor learned to look past the waves to the master. I must too, by his grace.

Which difficulties are you allowing to distract you from seeing the long arm and goodness of God?

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Seventy-nine grandchildren

While in Canada I had the privilege of attending a birthday party for one of my parents' good friends Mr. Andrew Viersen. His 79th grandchild was born just before he turned 79. Every time I go home I look forward to visiting with this family. They are godly, diligent, intelligent, and self-consciously Christian in all areas of their lives. It is marvelous to see the siblings support and help each other in the crises of life. One sibling was having a difficult pregnancy and needed bed rest, but with lots of siblings nearby it was easy to send three children to this sister's home, two to this sister, etc.

The birthday party was hosted by one of the daughters and her family. It was not possible to have the 50+ grandchildren that live locally there as it would have been too noisy. But the children of this daughter sweetly came around to serve us older folks -- coffee, Dutch pastries, chocolates, nuts, cheese, crackers, and salted herring (much loved among the Dutch). They then served soup and buns for lunch.

The next morning one of the sons was to host a pancake breakfast in honor of dad, and the previous day had been a busy one with both children and grandchildren present. Three days of feasting! I am so glad I observed this. It was a beautiful honoring of a true patriarch.