Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The most thrilling story

When famed missionary Adoniram Judson (1788-1850) came home to New England in 1845-46 after many years spent in pioneer labors Burma, he found to his surprise that he was a celebrity in American Christian circles with numerous invitations to speak and preach. His audiences, however, were often disappointed in Judson. They wanted to hear exotic tales from the strange land of the East, but Judson generally preached the same gospel messages he proclaimed in Burma.

On the way home after one such engagement, Judson’s third wife, Emily, gently tried to explain to her husband what his American audiences wanted:

“But they wanted something different—a story.”

“Well, I am sure I gave them a story—the most thrilling one that can be conceived of.”

“But they had heard it before. They wanted something new of a man who had just come from the antipodes.”

“Then I am glad they have it to say, that a man coming from the antipodes had nothing better to tell than the wondrous story of Jesus’ dying love.”


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Sermon of the Week: "Old School" Church Planting Conference

Just before Christmas, I had the opportunity to visit and worship at Providence PCA Church in Fayettville, NC.  They hosted a church planting conference last Fall.  The focus was on planting "Old School" Presbyterian churches, but much could be applied to what it takes to plant an "Old School" Baptist church.

Here are the conference messages:


Friday, January 15, 2010

Spurgeon on the Call to Ministry

If a man be truly called of God to the ministry, I will defy him to withhold himself from it. A man who has really within him the inspiration of the Holy Ghost calling him to preach, cannot help it—he must preach. As fire within the bones, so will that influence be until it blazes forth. Friends may check him, foes criticize him, despisers sneer at him, the man is indomitable; he must preach if he has the call of Heaven. All earth might forsake him, but he would preach to the barren mountain-tops. If he has the call of Heaven, if he had no congregation, he would preach to the rippling waterfalls, and let the brooks hear his voice. He could not be silent. He would become a voice crying in the wilderness, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord.” I no more believe it is possible to stop ministers than to stop the stars of heaven. I think it no more possible to make a man cease from preaching, if he is really called, than to stay some mighty cataract, by seeking, in an infant’s cup, to catch the rushing torrent. The man has been moved of Heaven, who shall stop him? He has been touched of God, who shall impede him? With an eagle’s wing, he must fly; who shall chain him to the earth? With a seraph’s voice, he must speak; who shall seal his lips? And when a man does speak as the Spirit gives him utterance, he will feel a holy joy akin to that of Heaven; and when it is over, he wishes to be at his work again, he longs to be once more preaching. Is not the Lord’s Word like a fire within me? Must I not speak as if God has placed it there?

From Charles Spurgeon, Autobiography, Vol. I (Banner of Truth, 1962 [1897-1900]): p. 185.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Prayer for Haiti

News is breaking today about the devastating earthquake Tuesday in the impoverished nation of Haiti. Just yesterday I was talking with a friend who has adopted two children from Haiti about a news story I saw on PBS reporting on recent efforts to establish garment industry jobs in Haiti. The average wage there is one dollar per day!  Today comes news of more devastating suffering for this country.

Haiti stands out in my mind, because it was the destination of my first trip outside the United States. During the winter break of my sophomore year in college I went with a group of young men on a mission trip to Haiti. We had all worked together the previous summer in a Christian boys’ camp in Asheboro, North Carolina. Our Director, then a student at Southeastern Baptist Seminary, organized the trip. We flew into Port Au Prince from Miami, boarded a bus, and drove up into the mountains where we stayed for a week working with an independent Baptist missionary family. During the hot, tropical days we helped a fledgling congregation build a small chapel that also served as a school. Each cool evening we joined the church for revival services that included team members sharing their testimonies of faith in Christ.

Haiti was my first exposure to real poverty. I remember being struck by the sight of running sewers on the streets, children with distended bellies, and crumbling buildings. On our return trip back through Port Au Prince we visited a relief ministry in a central city slum. I also remember waiting for our plane in the airport along with a group of tanned and boisterous young adults who were returning from a vacation at Club Med. I remember feeling more than a little youthful self-righteousness that our group had chosen the better part.

That week had a major impact in my life. It helped me understand the disastrous corporate impact of sinful depravity, gave me a hunger for doing missions and ministry, and expanded my cultural horizons. I have never returned to Haiti but have listened with interest over the years to the various sad stories emerging from that have island nation. Political unrest, corruption, refugees. And now, the news today about the earthquake.

God has some purpose to play out, even when we cannot trace his hand. “Shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it?” (Amos 3:6). My prayers today are for the people of Haiti, for the believers who are busy ministering in that place, and for those who are going to help.


Thursday, January 07, 2010

Judson's Proposal

Adoniram Judson wrote the following letter to John Hasseltine in 1810 asking for his twenty year old daughter Ann “Nancy” Hasseltine’s hand in marriage:

I have now to ask, whether you can consent to part with your daughter early next Spring to see her no more in this world; whether you can consent to her departure, and her subscription to the hardships and sufferings of missionary life; whether you can consent to her exposure to the dangers of the ocean; to the fatal influence of the southern climate of India; to every kind of want and distress; to degradation, insult, persecution, and perhaps a violent death. Can you consent to all this, for the sake of him who left his heavenly home, and died for her and for you; for the sake of perishing, immortal souls; for the sake of Zion, and the glory of God? Can you consent to all this, in hope of soon meeting your daughter in the world of glory, with the crown of righteousness, brightened with the acclamations of praise which shall redound to her Saviour from heathens saved, through her means, from eternal woe and despair?

The couple were married on February 5, 1812 and within a week set sail for India.


Monday, January 04, 2010

Morrison: I expect God will

Robert Morrison, pioneer missionary to China and the first to translate the Bible into Chinese, was once asked by a skeptic, "And so, Mr. Morrison, you really expect to make an impression on the idolatry of the great Chinese empire."  Morrison replied, "No sir; I expect God will."