Monday, 29 November 2010

Last Will and Testament of an Aged Missionary to his Prodigy (Protégé) 2 Timothy 1

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus,

To Timothy, a beloved son:

Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

Timothy’s Faith and Heritage
I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience, as my forefathers did, as without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day, greatly desiring to see you, being mindful of your tears, that I may be filled with joy, when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also.Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

Not Ashamed of the Gospel
Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God,who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, to which I was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.

Stay Loyal to the Faith
Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.

This you know, that all those in Asia have turned away from me, among whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes. The Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain; but when he arrived in Rome, he sought me out very zealously and found me. The Lord grant to him that he may find mercy from the Lord in that Day—and you know very well how many ways he ministered to me at Ephesus

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Spiritual Leadership ( 1 ) by J.Oswald Sanders

A desire to be great is not necessarily in itself sinful. It is the motivation that determines its character. To be seen and approved by men, to be popular. to stand well among one’s contemporaries., to exercise control over others. Ambitious men enjoy the power which money or authority brings Not the number of one’s servants, but the number whom one serves, is the heavenly criterion of greatness and the real preparation for leadership. True greatness, true leadership is achieved not by reducing men to one’s service but in giving oneself in selfless service to them. The true spiritual leader is concerned infinitely more with the service he can render God and his fellowmen than with the benefits and pleasures he can extract from life. He aims to put more into life than he takes out of it.
Because people love to be led by one who knows where he is going and who inspires
confidence. Spiritual leaders are not made by election or appointment, by men
or any combination of men, nor by conferences or synods. Only God can make them.
Samuel Logan Brengle was one of the truly great leaders of the Salvation Army. A man of scholarship as well as of singular spiritual power, he outlined the road to spiritual authority and leadership in challenging words. “It is not won by promotion, but by many prayers and tears. It is attained by confessions of sin, and
much heart searching and humbling before God; by self-surrender, a courageous sacrifice of every idol, a bold, deathless, uncompromising and uncomplaining
embracing of the cross, and by an eternal, unfaltering looking unto Jesus crucified.
It is not gained by seeking great things for ourselves, but rather, like Paul, by
counting those things that are gain to us as loss for Christ. That is a great price,
but it must be unflinchingly paid by him who would be not merely a nominal but a
real spiritual leader of men, a leader whose power is recognized and felt in heaven,
on earth and in hell.” God’s conditions must be complied with in secret before He
will honor a man in public.

Leadership is influence, the ability of one person to influence others. Lord Montgomery defines it in these terms: “Leadership is the capacity and will to rally
men and women to a common purpose, and the character which inspires confidence.”
Dr. John R. Mott, a world leader in student circles, gave as his definition: “A leader is a man who knows the road, who can keep ahead, and who can pull others after
him.” Spiritual leadership is a matter of superior spiritual power. We are leaders to the extent that we inspire others to follow us.“It occurs to me that perhaps the best test of whether one is a qualified leader is to find out whether anyone is following him.”
The man who is ambitious to lead is disqualified as a leader. The true leader will have no desire to lord it over God’s heritage, but will be humble, gentle, self-sacrificing and altogether as ready to follow as to lead, when the Spirit makes it clear that a wiser and more gifted man than himself has appeared.
Lord Montgomery enunciated seven ingredients necessary in a leader in war, each
of which is appropriate to the spiritual warfare: (1) He should be able to sit back
and avoid getting immersed in detail. (2) He must not be petty. (3) He must not be
pompous. (4) He must be a good picker of men. (5) He should trust those under him,
and let them get on with their job without interference. (6) He must have the
power of clear decision. (7) He should inspire confidence.

Dr. John R. Mott moved in student circles and his tests covered different territory: (1) Does he do little things well? (2) Has he learned the meaning of priorities? (3) How does he use his leisure? (4) Has he intensity? (5) Has he learned to take advantage of momentum?(6) Has he the power of growth? (7) What is his attitude to discouragements? (8)How does he face impossible situations? (9) What are his weakest points?
Leadership is essentially the power of one man to influence another. Spirituality is not easy to define but its presence or absence can easily be discerned. It has been called the diffused fragrance which has been assimilated in the garden of the Lord. It is the power to change the atmosphere by one’s presence, the unconscious influence which makes Christ and spiritual things real to others. Secular men, be they ever so gifted and charming in person, have no place in the leadership of the church, even in temporal matters. ( Notes by Dave Kraft)

Spiritual Leadership ( 2 ) by J.Oswald Sanders

Have you ever broken yourself of a bad habit? To lead others, one must be master
of oneself. Do you retain control of yourself when things go wrong? The leader
who loses self-control in testing circumstances forfeits respect and loses
influence. He must be calm in crisis and resilient in adversity and disappointment.
Do you think independently? While using to the full the thought of others, the
leader cannot afford to let others do his thinking or make his decisions for him.
Can you handle criticism objectively and remain unmoved under it? Do you turn it to
good account? The humble man can derive benefit from petty and even malicious
criticism. Can you use disappointments creatively?
Do you readily secure the cooperation and win the respect and confidence of
others? An important function in leadership is conciliation—the ability to discover
common ground between opposing viewpoints and then induce both parties to
accept it. Can you accept opposition to your viewpoint or decision without
considering it a personal affront and reacting accordingly? Leaders must expect
opposition and should not be offended by it. Are you unduly dependent on the
praise or approval of others? Can you hold a steady course in the face of
disapproval and even temporary loss of confidence?
A leader must allow himself no indulgence in secret that would undermine his
character or mar his public witness. It is unwise to give key positions too early
even to those who manifest promising talent, lest it spoil them. It should be
noted that Peter did not write as chief of the apostles, but as “a fellow Elder,” one
who was bearing similar responsibilities. He spoke to them not from above, but
from alongside—a good vantage ground for the exercise of leadership.
Dr. Paul Rees suggests that greed for money is not the only thought contained in
the Greek words “shameful gain.” The phrase might as appropriately be applied to
greed for popularity or fame, an equally insidious temptation. Prestige and power
are often coveted more than money. (40) The Christian leader must not be
dictatorial. “Not as domineering over those in your charge” (5:3a, C. B. Williams).
An ambitious leader can easily degenerate into a petty tyrant with a domineering
manner. “Even a little authority is prone to turn the seemly walk into the offensive

In each case these men were endowed with gifts which uniquely equipped them for
the special tasks to which they were later called. But that which raised them above
their fellows was the degree to which they developed these gifts and graces
through devotion and self-discipline. Those who rebel against authority and scorn
self-discipline seldom qualify for leadership of a high order. The young man of
leadership caliber will work while others waste time, study while others sleep, pray
while others play. There will be no place for loose or slovenly habits in word or
thought; deed or dress. He will observe a soldierly discipline in diet and
deportment, so that he might wage a good warfare. He will without reluctance
undertake the unpleasant task which others avoid, or the hidden duty which others
evade because it evokes no applause or wins no appreciation.
A Spirit-filled leader will not shrink from facing up to difficult situations or
persons, or from grasping the nettle when that is necessary. He will kindly and
courageously administer rebuke when that is called for; or he will exercise
necessary discipline when the interests of the Lord’s work demand it. He will not
procrastinate in writing the difficult letter. His letter-basket will not conceal the
evidences of his failure to grapple with urgent problems. His prayer will be:
Basically willing to respond cooperatively to the discipline he expects of them.
A leader must be able to envision the end result of the policies or methods he
advocates. Responsible leadership always looks ahead to see how policies proposed
will affect not only present, but succeeding generations. Speaking to Douglas
Thornton of Egypt, Mr. Baylis his senior missionary remarked: “Thornton, you are
different to anyone else I know. You are always looking at the end of things.
Most people, myself included, find it better to do the next thing.” Thornton’s
answer was: “I find that the constant inspiration gained by looking at the goal is
the chief thing that helps me to persevere.” Eyes that look are common. Eyes that
see are rare. The Pharisees looked at Peter and saw only a poor unlettered
fisherman, totally insignificant, not worthy of a second look.

Jesus saw Peter and discovered the prophet and preacher, saint and leader of the
unique band of men who turned the world upside down. Vision includes optimism and
hope. No pessimist ever made a great leader. The man who sees the
difficulties so clearly that he does not discern the possibilities will be unable to
impart inspiration to his followers. Wisdom is more than knowledge, which is
the accumulation of facts. It has a personal connotation and implies sagacity. It is
more than human acumen; it is heavenly discernment. It is knowledge with insight
into the heart of things, and knows them as they really are. It involves the
knowledge of God and of the intricacies of the human heart.
It is much more than knowledge; it is the right application of knowledge in moral
and spiritual matters, in meeting baffling situations and in the complexity of human
relationships. The place of wisdom in leadership was indicated in the statement of
D. E. Hoste: When a man, in virtue of an official position demands obedience of
another, irrespective of the latter’s reason and conscience, this is the spirit of
tyranny. When, on the other hand, by the exercise of tact and sympathy; by
prayer, spiritual power and sound wisdom one is able to influence and enlighten (52)
another, so that he through the medium of his own reason and conscience is led to
alter one course and adopt another, that is true spiritual leadership.
When all the facts are in, swift and clear decision is the mark of the true leader.
Once a spiritual leader is sure of the will of God, he will go into immediate action,
regardless of consequences. In pursuing his goal, he will have the courage to burn
his bridges behind him. He must be willing to accept full responsibility for
consequent failure or success, and not place any blame that might accrue on a
subordinate. The true leader will resist the temptation to procrastinate in
reaching a decision; nor will he vacillate after it has been made. These tendencies
are fatal to leadership. Usually, a sincere though mistaken decision is better than
no decision at all. In most decisions the difficult part is not in knowing what we
ought to do; it is in being willing to pay the price involved.
Courage is “that quality of mind which enables men to encounter danger or
difficulty with firmness, or without fear or depression of spirits.” The
courage of a leader is demonstrated in his being willing to face unpleasant and even
devastating facts and conditions with equanimity, and then acting with firmness in
the light of them, even though it means incurring personal unpopularity. Human
inertia and opposition do not deter him. His courage is not a thing of the moment,
but continues until the task is fully done.
The spiritual leader will choose the hidden pathway of sacrificial service and the
approval of His Lord rather than the flamboyant assignment and the adulation of
the unspiritual crowd.

Spiritual Leadershp (3) J.Oswald Sanders

It is the courageous and triumphant ability to bear things, which enables a man to pass breaking point and not to break, and always to greet the unseen with a cheer.” The man who is impatient with weakness will be defective in his leadership Another important ingredient in leadership is the faculty of being able to draw the best out of other people. In achieving this, personal friendliness will accomplish much more than prolonged and even successful argument. It was John R.Mott’s counsel to “rule by the heart. When logic and argument and other forms of persuasion fail, fall back on the heart-genuine friendship.”
Spiritual Leadership can be exercised only by Spirit-filled men. Other qualifications for spiritual leadership are desirable. This is indispensable. However brilliant a man may be intellectually, however capable an administrator, without this essential equipment he is incapable of giving truly spiritual leadership.Reduced to its simplest terms, to be filled with the Spirit means that, through voluntary surrender and in response to appropriating faith, the human personality is filled, mastered, controlled by the Holy Spirit.
It is much easier to pray for temporal needs than for situations which involved the
intricacies and stubbornness of the human heart.
The manner in which he employs the surplus hours after provision has been made
for work, meals and sleep will make him either a mediocrity or a man to be reckoned with. A sentence which will seldom be heart on the lips of a leader is “I don’t have the time.” Very seldom is it strictly true. It is usually the refuge of the small and inefficient person. The problem is not that of needing more time, but of making better use of the time that we have.His day should therefore be carefully planned. If it is his ambition to excel, there must be selection and rejection, then concentration on the things of paramount importance. The strength of moral character is derived and conserved by the refusing of the unimportant.
The man who desires to grow spiritually and intellectually will be constantly at his
books. John Wesley had a passion for reading and most of it was done on horseback. He rode sometimes ninety and often fifty miles in a day. He read deeply on a wide range of subjects. It was his habit to travel with a volume of science or history or medicine propped on the pommel of his saddle, and in that way he got through thousands of volumes. After his Greek New Testament, three great books took complete possession of Wesley’s mind and heart during his Oxford days. “It was about this time that he began the earnest study of the Imitation of Christ, Holy Living and Dying and The Serious Call. These three books became very much his spiritual guides.” He told the younger ministers of the Wesleyan societies either to read or get out of the ministry! The determination to spend a minimum of half an hour a day in reading worthwhile books which provide food for the soul and further mental and spiritual development will prove richly rewarding to those who have been inclined to limit their reading to predigested or superficial books. The spiritual leader should read for spiritual quickening…mental stimulation…cultivation of style…acquiring of information. He should read, therefore, to keep abreast of his age, and should be reasonably well informed in his own field. We can afford to read only the best, and what will be most helpful to us in the fulfillment of our mission. In other words, our reading should be regulated largely by what we are and what we do or intend to do. A student will find that his mental constitution is more affected by one book thoroughly mastered than by twenty books he has merely skimmed.
The man who has absorbed the spirit of the welfare state is not of the caliber required in a leader. If he is not willing to rise earlier and stay up later than others, to work harder and study more diligently than his contemporaries, he will not greatly impress his generation. In a letter to a young minister, Fred Mitchell once wrote: “I am glad to know that you are taking any blessing there is about the criticism brought against you by________, in which case even his bitter attack will yield sweetness. A sentence which has been a great help to Mrs. Mitchell and myself is: ‘It does not matter what happens to us, but our reaction to what happens to us is of vital importance.’ I think you must expect more and more criticism, for with increasing responsibility this is inevitable. It causes one to walk humbly with God, and to take such action as He desires.”

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Spiritual Leadership ( 4 ) by J.Oswald Sanders

“The frontiers of the kingdom of God were never advanced by men and women of caution,” said Mrs. H. W. K. Mowll.“How does he face impossible situations?”
was one of John R. Mott’s tests for men of leadership caliber: It was his practice
to encourage leaders to deal with impossible tasks rather than with easy ones,
because that would draw out their powers, teach them their dependence on others,
and drive them to God. “I long since ceased to occupy myself with minor things that
can be done by others,” he said. A true leader is at his best in baffling circumstances.The bracing lesson is that God delights to shut people up to Himself and then, in response to their trust, display His power and grace in doing
the impossible.
One definition of leadership is the ability to recognize the special abilities and
limitations of others, combined with the capacity to fit each one into the job
where he will do his best. He who is successful in getting things done through
others is exercising the highest type of leadership.The man in a place of
leadership who fails to delegate is constantly enmeshed in a morass of secondary
detail that not only overburdens him but deflects him from his primary
responsibilities. He also fails to release the leadership potential of those under
him. To insist on doing things oneself because it will be done better is not only a
short-sighted policy but may be evidence of an unwarranted conceit. The leader
who is meticulous in observing priorities adds immeasurably to his own
effectiveness. Once delegation has been effected, he should manifest the utmost
confidence in his colleagues.

It was said of Dr. A. B. Simpson, founder of the Christian and Missionary Alliance,
that he trusted those in charge of the different institutions, and then left them
free to exercise their own gifts. If they did not succeed, then he felt it was a
reflection on his own leadership, for it was he who selected them for that position.
Subordinates should be utterly sure of their leader’s support in any action they
feel called upon to take, no matter what the result, so long as they have acted
within their terms of reference. This presupposes that areas of responsibility have
been clearly defined and committed to writing so that no misunderstanding can
occur. Many unhappy situations have arisen through failure to do this.
The fact is that no man, however gifted and devoted, is indispensable to the work
of the kingdom. The most gifted leader has limitations that become apparent
only after the complementary gifts of his successor cause the work to develop
along lines for which the former leader was unfitted. It is often discovered that
one who has been in a subordinate position develops totally unsuspected qualities
when the weight of responsibility is thrown upon him.To tell a man he is called to be a leader is the best way of ensuring his spiritual ruin, since in the Christian world ambition is more deadly than any other sin, and, if yielded to, makes a man unprofitable in the ministry. The need is not so much for leaders as for saints and servants, and unless this fact is held steadily in the foreground, the whole idea of leadership training becomes dangerous. Altogether apart from the merits of his movement, Frank Buchman, founder of Moral Rearmament, displayed a real flair for leadership. It was his claim that if he did not train others to do what he had been doing better than he did it, he would have failed.It remains to be said that the training of leaders cannot be done by employing the techniques of mass production. It will require patient and careful instruction and prayerful and personal guidance of the individual over a considerable period. “Disciples are not manufactured wholesale. They are produced one by one, because someone has taken the pains to discipline, to instruct and enlighten, to nurture and train one that is younger.”

When God wants to drill a man
And thrill a man
And skill a man,
When God wants to mold a man
To play the noblest part;
When He yearns with all His heart
To create so great and bold a man
That all the world shall be amazed,
Watch His methods, watch His ways!
How He ruthlessly perfects
Whom He royally elects!
How He hammers him and hurts him,
And with mighty blows converts him
Into trial shapes of clay which
Only God understands;
While his tortured heart is crying
And he lifts beseeching hands!
How He bends but never breaks
When his good He undertakes;
How He uses whom He chooses
And with every purpose fuses him;
By every act induces him
To try His splendor out—
God knows what He’s about!

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

“Church Planter” Darrin Patrick

In general, complementarian churches have done a deplorable job of equipping and empowering women to use their God-given gifts in the church. I have found that the main question both liberals and conservatives often start with is not is this man a Christian but rather, can this man grow the church.
Most churches do not grow beyond the spiritual health of their leadership. In short, a rescued man is growing in genuine love for God and neighbors. Time and again, amid the challenges of pastoral ministry, this divine, more-than-subjective authorization is a major means of pastoral perseverance. Ministry is more than hard.

Ministry is impossible. And unless we have a fire inside our bones compelling us, we simply will not survive. Pastoral ministry is a calling, not a career. It is not a job you pursue just because you like attention, or because your mom thinks you’d be good at it, or because it does not involve heavy lifting. I am continually shocked at how many men are trying to do ministry without a clear sense of calling. One of the most interesting features of calling is that whether you look in the pages of the Bible or the annals of church history, God rarely calls two people in the exact same way. It is very important not to standardize the calling experience. An aspiring pastor/church planter who is seeking to test his sense of calling should look for confirmation in at least three areas:
Heart confirmation
Head confirmation
Skill confirmation.
It is important to recognize that doubts and feelings of insecurity are not signs that you aren’t called. Head Confirmation in a genuine call to ministry manifests itself not only in the thoughts and desires of the called person but also in his gifts, abilities, and skills. Skill Confirmation. Does this man have the gifts required to perform ministry? These two examinations of character and skill are paramount for the one who is called because he is able to check his subjective prompting objectively against the church’s evaluation. Mark
Driscoll often said, “Acts 29 guys are to believe in sola Scriptura but not solo Scriptura.”Because of common grace, we can glean principles from the business world—all truth is God’s truth. Being a pastor/church planter requires three basic skills: leading, teaching, and shepherding. To be the lead pastor in a church plant, however, you have to be able to lead—to cast vision, to create energy, to motivate, to inspire, and to build systems.Functionally, elders in the local church do three main things:
Guard the teaching ministry of the church.
Ensure the spiritual care of the church.
Oversee the direction of the church.
Prophets—Guardians of Truth
Priests—Shepherds of the people
Kings—Builders of the Vision
Kings tend to ask the question “How?” They function like executives of the church because they spend a great deal of time and energy building and executing plans to sustain and grow a healthy church. Deacons lead the church by serving her. Elders serve the church by leading her. C. Peter Wagner writes this about leadership: “The gift of leadership is the special ability that God gives to certain members of the body of Christ to set goals in accordance with God’s purposes for the future and to communicate these goals to others in such a way that they voluntarily and harmoniously work together to accomplish those goals for the glory of God.”
Regarding the gift of leadership, a pastor must always be fearless before his critics and fearful before his God. Being a good preacher may or may not make you a better shepherd, but being a good shepherd will definitely make you a better preacher.

The role of the pastor is to connect undisciplined people with disciplined ones so that they learn how to discipline themselves. For most of us, redeeming the time will mean that we work hard to eliminate unnecessary time suckers in our week, that we design a system for answering e-mails efficiently, that we think through our weekly schedules and priorities beforehand. The essence of sin is man substituting himself for God, while the essence of salvation is God substituting himself for man. As Bryan Chapell often says,
“We put our do’s before our who’s. Wayne Grudem defines sanctification this way:“Sanctification is a progressive work of God and man that makes us more and more free from sin and more like Christ in our actual lives.” All sin flows from valuing something more highly than we value God. In his book Love Walked Among Us, Paul Miller notes that compassion is the dominant emotion that the Gospel writers ascribed to Jesus. The Gospel writers describe Jesus compassionatelylooking at people nearly forty times, indicating that it was a regular practice. I find that Ican get so immersed in the busyness of ministry that I lose the pleasure of ministry. There is a difference between simply being busy and being hurried. Being busy is about the things you have to do. Being hurried is the spiritual, mental, and emotional state that you are in when trying to do the things you have to do. You can be busy without being hurried. The Enemies of Compassion are:

The root of the word compassion in English means “to be together [com] with someone’s pain [passion].” So to demonstrate compassion toward someone is to agree at that moment to enter into suffering with them.
“The local church is a community of regenerated believers who confess Jesus as Lord. In obedience to Scripture they organize under qualified leadership, gather regularly for preaching and worship, observe the biblical sacraments of baptism and Communion, are unified by the Spirit, are disciplined for holiness, and scatter to fulfill the Great Commandment and the Great Commission as missionaries to the world for God’s glory and their joy.”-Mark Driscoll “Sanctification is a progressive work of God and man that makes us more and more free from sin and more like Christ in our actual lives.”- Wayne Grudem.
Contextualization is speaking to people with their terms, not on their terms. A good preacher, for example, must be able to exegete not only the text but also the culture of the hearers in order to be a faithful and fruitful missionary.Kindle Notes: Dave Kraft

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Prairie Chicken or Eagle:Dave Kraft

While searching the internet I discovered this excellent article by Dave Kraft (author of 'Leadership of the Heart')which is a great encouragement for those who believe they are called to serve God in some particular area of ministry.I hope you enjoy it and take a look at his blog detailed below.AK

In his book “The Pursuit of Excellence” Ted W. Engstrom shares the story of a Native American brave who discovers an eagle’s egg and hides it in the nest of a prairie chicken. The little eagle eventually was hatched along with the other chicks and grew up assuming it was a prairie chicken. With that assumption in mind it lived like a prairie chicken. It flew in short bursts with a flurry of feathers and a thrashing of wings-just a few feet off the ground. It’s eating habits were those of a Prairie Chicken, not an eagle. It pecked in the dirt for insects and seeds. Years passed and the eagle aged, never discovering its true identity and potential.

One day the eagle looked up and saw a magnificent sight: a golden eagle soaring effortlessly in the heavens, taking full advantage of the powerful wind currents. “That’s so beautiful,” the eagle said to a friend. “What is it?” “Why, that’s an eagle,” said the knowing friend, “the chief of the birds; but forget it, you could never be like that.” The eagle followed his friend’s advice, never giving it a second thought. Eventually it died, having lived its entire life thinking it was a prairie chicken.

Before you read on, sit back a moment and let your emotions talk to you. What are you feeling right now? Be honest with yourself. Consider writing down your thoughts. Then read on.

Now the story is obviously apocryphal, but nonetheless loaded with meaning for us as leaders. As I look back over my life, I see specific points where I decided to go the eagle route rather than the prairie chicken route. I also see where I have stayed earthbound, going the prairie chicken route.

Most of my ministry life has been lived “in over my head.” I’m richer for it. It forced me to pray a lot, to confess fears, to worry a good bit; but God always came through for me. (What do you mean it doesn’t pay to worry? Most of the things I worry about never happen!) I live with the philosophy of not going to Jesus to tell Him how big my challenges are, but going to my challenges and telling them how big my Jesus is! For me, that is living by faith and really believing what God has promised.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than the things you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover”-Mark Twain

“There's no thrill in easy sailing,
When the sky is clear and blue.
There's no joy in merely doing
Things which anyone can do.
But there is some fulfillment
That is mighty sweet to taste,
When you reach a destination,
You thought you couldn't make”

Author unknown

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Focus on the Persecuted Church :Video 'Right to Believe and article 'Making Eye Contact With God' by Al Janssen of Open Doors

Last November,Brother Andrew and I celebrated IDOP Sunday with the persecuted church. My life will never be the same.At a secret location in Pakistan, I sat
with more than 30 church leadersas we read together the word ofthe Lord to Solomon: “If my people,who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray…
my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place.” The leader of the meeting challenged us, “Today, let us make eye contact with God.”
After singing several hymns and psalms we heard reports from Gojra where, three months earlier, 50 homes had been destroyed,100 homes looted, and seven Christians burned to death bya fundamentalist mob. One eyewitness wrote of the horrible destruction of Hameed Masih and his family. He reported how their village had “turned into ashes. Children and women were wandering here and there beating
their chests. Seeing the whole horrifying scene,I thought that the things acquired after years might be regained, but the seven members of the single family would never be regained.” Another family, whose daughter was raped, wrote, “We request you accept our appeal, drenched with tears, to give us back our lives, for we have been buried alive with our child.” There was a time of intense prayer for Christians in Gojra. Then we sang again.One of the hymns was so melancholy, so deep in emotion, that though I couldn’t understand the Urdu words, I felt the heart cry of these people. Paul’s words to the Romans rang in my ears: if ever we needed the Spirit to help us in our weakness, it was then. We then broke into smaller groups for two hours of sharing and prayer.

There were nine church leaders in my group and all bared their hearts. One village pastor told how three families in his small congregation of twenty families had, under financial inducement, converted to Islam. When they tried to arrange marriages for their children they discovered that while their daughters were eagerly spoken for, no Muslim family would allow their daughters to marry these ‘Christian’
sons. “These families now want to return to the church,” the pastor reported. “But the Muslim leaders say they can’t convert from Islam or they will be killed. We want to welcome these families back and are trying to support them.”

Another leader served a far-flung congregation that could never meet together and so required him to travel constantly – he was away from his family for three weeks every month. Because he must pass through many check points he no longer carried Bibles and other literature for his flock. “I can only give them whatever Word is hidden in my heart,” he said.

There were three women in our group. Two were wives of pastors and shared about the pressures they felt on their families. A third directed a centre for women who have suffered from severe abuse because of their faith. Each time one of these leaders shared, we made eye contact with God and prayed earnestly for their needs.One man in his 30s sat quietly for most of our time. I finally asked him how we might pray for him.Hesitantly, he told us that he had attended seminary but had not found a church to pastor in his denomination, so he was starting a work among indentured servants who slave in one of the many brick factories throughout Pakistan.He didn’t know if this was God’s place for him. The other leaders immediately affirmed his work –millions of Pakistanis suffer this way and need to hear the good news of the gospel. Again we rose and laid hands on this brother as a veteran pastor prayed fervently for him.

After six hours of prayer we gathered in a candlelit dining room to celebrate communion. As the wafer of bread was snapped in two, I understood: these were my
brothers and sisters. Christ died for them, for me, for all broken people. In Christ we were truly one body and I had the privilege of sharing a little in their suffering.

This year I will spend IDOP Sunday in my home church. But my heart will be with those dear church leaders who give their lives to follow Christ. I will remember the day I spent with them and made eye contact with God.