Friday, 30 January 2009

Spurgeon's Conversion in his own words

I never cease to be encouraged to tell others about the grace and forgiveness of God when reading the story of Spurgeon's conversion. Many around us are searching for God but there is no one to tell them:as Paul declares: 'How can they hear without a preacher?'May we who know the message be prepared to speak for Him.AK

' While under concern of soul, I resolved that I would attend all the places of worship in the town where I lived, in order that I might find out the way of salvation. I was willing to do anything, and be anything, if God would only forgive my sin. I set off, determined to go round to all the chapels, and I did go to every place of worship; but for a long time I went in vain.

I do not, however, blame the ministers. One man preached Divine Sovereignty; I could hear him with pleasure, but what was that sublime truth to a poor sinner who wished to know what he must do to be saved? There was another admirable man who always preached about the law; but what was the use of ploughing up ground that needed to be sown? Another was a practical preacher. I heard him, but it was very much like a commanding officer teaching the manoeuvres of war to a set of men without feet. What could I do? All his exhortations were lost on me. I knew it, was said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved;" but I did not know what it was to believe on Christ. These good men all preached truths suited to many in their congregations who were spiritually-minded people; but what I wanted to know was,—"How can I get my sins forgiven?"—and they never told me that. I desired to hear how a poor sinner, under a sense of sin, might find peace with God; and when I went, I heard a sermon on "Be not deceived, God is not mocked," which cut me up still worse; but did not bring me into rest. I went again, another day, and the text was something about the glories of the righteous; nothing for poor me! I was like a dog under the table, not allowed to eat of the children's food. I went time after time, and I can honestly say that I do not know that I ever went without prayer to God, and I am sure there was not a more attentive hearer than myself in all the place, for I panted and longed to understand how I might be saved.

I sometimes think I might have been in darkness and despair until now had it not been for the goodness of God in sending a snowstorm, one Sunday morning, while I was going to a certain place of worship. When I could go no further, I turned down a side street, and came to a little Primitive Methodist Chapel. In that chapel there may have been a dozen or fifteen people. I had heard of the Primitive Methodists, how they sang so loudly that they made people's heads ache; but that did not matter to me. I wanted to know how I might be saved, and if they could tell me that, I did not care how much they made my head ache.

The minister did not come that morning; he was snowed up, I suppose. At last, a very thin-looking man,* a shoemaker, or tailor, or something of that sort, went up into the pulpit to preach. Now, it is well that preachers should be instructed; but this man was really stupid. He was obliged to stick to his text, for the simple reason that he had little else to say. The text was,—


He did not even pronounce the words rightly, but that did not matter. There was, I thought, a glimpse of hope for me in that text. The preacher began thus—"My dear friends, this is a very simple text indeed. It says, 'Look.' Now lookin' don't take a deal of pains. It ain't liftin' your foot or your finger; it is just, 'Look.' Well, a man needn't go to College to learn to look. You may be the biggest fool, and yet you can look. A man needn't be worth a thousand a year to be able to look. Anyone can look; even a child can look. But then the text says, 'Look unto Me.' Ay!" said he, in broad Essex, "many on ye are lookin' to yourselves, but it's no use lookin' there. You'll never find any comfort in yourselves. Some look to God the Father. No, look to Him by-and-by. Jesus Christ says, 'Look unto Me.' Some on ye say, 'We must wait for the Spirit's workin'.' You have no business with that just now. Look to Christ. The text says, 'Look unto Me.'"

Then the good man followed up his text in this way:—"Look unto Me; I am sweatin' great drops of blood. Look unto Me; I am hangin' on the cross. Look unto Me; I am dead and buried. Look unto Me; I rise again. Look unto Me; I ascend to Heaven. Look unto Me; I am sittin' at the Father's right hand. O poor sinner, look unto Me! look unto Me!

When he had gone to about that length, and managed to spin out ten minutes or so, he was at the end of his tether. Then he looked at me under the gallery, and I daresay, with so few present, he knew me to be a stranger. Just fixing his eyes on me, as if he knew all my heart, he said, "Young man, you look very miserable." Well, I did; but I had not been accustomed to have remarks made from the pulpit on my personal appearance before. However, it was a good blow, struck right home. He continued, "and you always will be miserable—miserable in life, and miserable in death,—if you don't obey my text; but if you obey now, this moment, you will be saved." Then, lifting up his hands, he shouted, as only a Primitive Methodist could do, "Young man, look to Jesus Christ. Look! Look! Look! You have nothin' to do but to look and live." I saw at once the way of salvation. I know not what else he said,—I did not take much notice of it,—I was so possessed with that one thought. Like as when the brazen serpent was lifted up, the people only looked and were healed, so it was with me. I had been waiting to do fifty things, but when I heard that word, "Look!" what a charming word it seemed to me! Oh! I looked until I could almost have looked my eyes away. There and then the cloud was gone, the darkness had rolled away, and that moment I saw the sun; and I could have risen that instant, and sung with the most enthusiastic of them, of the precious blood of Christ, and the simple faith which looks alone to Him. Oh, that somebody had told me this before, "Trust Christ, and you shall be saved." Yet it was, no doubt, all wisely ordered, and now I can say,—

"Ever since by faith I saw the stream
Thy flowing wounds supply,
Redeeming love has been my theme,
And shall be till I die."

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

The History of O.M.

"What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest seed you plant in the ground. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds of the air can perch in its shade."

Enjoy this potted history of one of the greatest missionary organizations in the world today.It started so small yet continued to grew into a large and robust body of passionate, as well as compassionate missionaries.

You might also like to check out George Verwer's website and join with a network of OMers and others who are aiming with God's help to being about a transformation in the world.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Paul the Evangelist : The apostle who being constrained by love became all things to all men that he might win some for Christ.

If Peter saw more people come to faith in Christ (8000 after two sermons) than any other evangelist, Paul had probably the most dynamic and certainly the most far reaching,apart from Christ. He was truly the evangelist to the Gentiles, but not only so. He also preached to the Jews in the Synagogues until he was kicked out. The one time arch-enemy of the Christian Church was to become the fearless apostle.

After his dramatic conversion when he met the risen Christ on the Damascus road, God told Ananias a disciple in the city that Paul was ‘a chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles, and their kings and before the people of Israel. I will show him how much he will suffer for my name sake’ Acts 9.15.This proved to be true -and suffer Paul did!

Paul was the product of three backgrounds, Jewish, Greek and Roman, which proved to be of great importance in his proclamation of the gospel. He was a Hebrew of Hebrews ( Phil 3.5), not merely a Greek speaking Jew but one who could speak Hebrew as well as being a Pharisee- who were the purest of the pure. He was also brought up in Tarsus and educated in a Greek environment,hence when the situation required it, he could quote Greek poets and philosophers when preaching to win a hearing with the Greeks he was seeking to reach for Christ ( Athens). Paul was also a Roman citizen and was (several times)to use this to his advantage, such as getting a fair trial( though this didn’t always happen).

We also have a unique background, the value of which we should not underestimate( or overestimate) that may provide a key for us to go through doors to reach people that other Christians may not be able to go through ( can you think of any examples?).

Paul’s own conversion also had a great impact upon the rest of his life and ministry. On the Damascus when he was literally confronted by Christ he was told he had been persecuting Christ himself. This was because he had been involved in the deaths and persecution of many Christians including Stephen. What astounds me is that Stephen actually prayed,while he was being stoned, in imitation of Jesus, that God would not hold their sin against them. If this did not shake up Paul at the time,after his conversion when he had time to reflect upon it, it must surely have had an impact on his life and teaching.

To study the lessons that we could learn from Paul with regard to evangelism would take many weeks so I will only look at a few of them very briefly.What for instance made him such a great troubadour of Christ? I believe this was obviously to do with his close relationship with God.In his letters he often writes of this intimacy when he speaks of the believer not only being 'in Christ' but of Christ also being in the believer. In Galations he also made the amazing confession 'I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me'.Paul didn't however make out that he alone could have this close relationship, rather he invited all believers to imitate him as he had imitated Christ (1 Cor. 11:1).

Another important aspect to Paul's life and ministry was that he was empowered by the Holy Spirit and in turn encouraged those who believed to be continuously filled with the Holy Spirit (Eph 5.18).Also Like Christ he knew 'his calling' in life, in his case, as an apostle to the Gentiles, as well as that of a teacher and prophet.If we are lacking in spiritual power we are encouraged in scripture to ask the Father to fill us with the good gift of His Spirit and also ask Him what his will for our life is.

Most people when they think of Paul, rarely think of him as a great lover of humankind. I have heard him being called a misogynist or a dictator or single minded, but never as compassionate or winsome or loving. But those who don’t believe he had compassion like his Master, in my view don’t know him or fully understand him.

For the rest of this study see the first comment of this post.

Saturday, 17 January 2009

An indiscriminate act of kindness : Foy Vance

In Ulster during 'the troubles' we experienced many 'indiscriminate acts of violence'.I'm sure Mr Vance is playing on this phrase which he uses to powerful effect.I also like the phrase 'random acts of kindness'. As Christ's followers we must always be open to being the vessels of such actions. I only recently heard this singer and can wholeheartedly say 'enjoy'.

She came from the cold wet
Dropped her luggage bags
Looked the concierge in the eye
Said, 'I need a room for the night,
But I don't got no money.
Would you take payment of any kind?'

He said, 'It's alright
I got a room here, you can share mine.
Make the bed in the morning and that'll do fine.
You can change in the bathroom,
Hang your clothes on the line.'
A tear came to her eye
She thought how could he be so kind
How could he be so kind (x2)

She sat down on the bed with a needle
He said, 'I'd hate to see you bleed,
Just fetch a warm towel,
I'll sit with you til you're dry.'
She started to cry
Said, 'Why? why? why? why? why? why?'

Consider it an indiscriminate act of kindness.

She was cold turkey
He was holding her hand
She said, 'I was ruined by man,
This was never in my plans.
I dreamed of men who loved me,
Together we'd see the world.
Somehow I lost myself among the insults they hurled.'

'I'm sure your a wonderful woman,
And someday there will surely be someone.
So just relax now, it's important that you're calm.'

She said, 'How is it you can see past me as I am?'

Consider it an indiscriminate act of kindness.

'When you took your chances,
It was like you placed a bet.
And sometimes this is the reward you can get.
I was always taught
If you see someone defiled,
You should look them in the eyes and smile,
And take their heart, no better yet
Take them home, home, home.'

She awoke early in the morning
Made the bed, gathered up her clothes to leave
Saw the concierge curled on the settee
Said, 'What you did for me was hard for me to believe.'

'I was just doing what was right.
No one that knows love could leave you out there on such a night.
If you can help someone,
Bare this in mind
And consider it an indiscriminate act of kindness.'

Consider it an indiscriminate act of kindness.