Poetry Saturday—Mountain Sheep

Step by step we make the climb
A rhythm beat from foot on gravel
Lost in thought and void of time
As we track this tower of babel

Hard dead earth, scorched by sun
More confused near the top
Both hot and cold are found in one
Both grasp for life like the withered crops

These people, poor people, hid up in the mountain
Seeking always to find life’s summit
But poisoned by deceit’s sweet fountain
And so, into darkness they continue to plummet

Why is the truth to these people unspoken
Who comes to shepherd these mountain sheep
Where is the news that the grave was broken
The harvest is plenty, but who comes to reap —Luke Brogden

(This was written by my nephew after visiting Nepal and meeting people who hadn’t yet heard about Jesus.)

Thursdays With Oswald—An Aroma From God’s Garden

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

An Aroma From God’s Garden

     [Oswald Chambers is speaking about how the prodigal son returned home.] 

     Did the father send any message to the far country after the younger boy? There is no record of any message being sent. What did the younger boy have to do? He had to do exactly what is recorded in Hosea long before that picture was painted by Our Lord—he had to return. Drawn by God? It does not say so. Read the fourteenth chapter of Hosea: “I will heal their backsliding” [Hosea 14:4]; but the backslider has to get up first, leave the pigs and what pigs eat, and go back to where he came from. Help granted him? None whatever. Messages from the home country? Not one. Tender touches of God’s grace on his life? No. Can you picture that prodigal son returning, a degraded, sunken, sin-stained man, going back in all the cruel, bald daylight? Oh, it is a hard way to go back out of the backslider’s hell; a hard, hard way! Every step of it is cruel, every moment is torture. But what happened? Before that younger son had gotten very far, the father saw him “and ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him”!

     Worker for God among backslidden souls, remember God’s way, put the sting, if you can, into the backslider’s soul that he may get up and come back to God, and what has he to do? Take with him words and say, “Forgive all my sins and receive me graciously” [Hosea 14:2]. Did the prodigal son take with him words? He did, he rehearsed them over and over again where he was amongst the pigs—“I will say to my father this and that,” he had it all by heart. Does Hosea say the same? He does: “My sins have been my downfall” [Hosea 14:1]. … 

     I just said now that no message was sent to the far country; God sends none, but, worker for God, will you be a message from the Father? Will you so bathe your life in the atmosphere of prayer that when you come in contact with a backslidden soul, it will awaken a remembrance of the Father, awaken a remembrance of what that soul once was? Will you let your life be like a bunch of flowers from the Father’s home garden, just awakening for one moment a remembrance of what life once was, and then pass on, and pray and watch, and you will be mightily rewarded by God when you see that poor backslidden soul get up and go back to God, taking with him words and saying, “My sins have been my downfall.” 

From Workmen Of God

What about you, my friend? Do you love the prodigals enough to be the Father’s message from home to them?

9 More Quotes From “So Send I You”

So Send I You is a collection of lectures Oswald Chambers delivered to students who felt a call to missions work. But Chambers made clear that every Christian is a missionary—“A missionary and a Christian ought to be one and the same.” Here are a few more quotes from this challenging book.

“It is God who saves men; we have to do the discipling after they are saved.”

“Our Lord calls to no special work; He calls to Himself. Pray to the Lord of the harvest, and He will engineer your circumstances and send you out.”

“Our Lord’s word ‘go’ simply means ‘live,’ and Acts 1:8 describes the ‘going.’ Jesus did not say to the disciples—‘Go into Jerusalem, go into Judea, go into Samaria, go into the uttermost part of the earth’; but—‘You shall be My witnesses’ in all these places: He undertakes to establish the goings. So many people are obsessed with this idea—‘What are you going to do?’ I hope none of us are going to do anything: I hope we are going to be what He wants us to be.”

“We adapt the New Testament to suit our own ideas; consequently we look on Jesus Christ as One Who assists us in our enterprises. The New Testament idea is that Jesus Christ is the absolute Lord over His disciples.”

“One way in which satan comes as an angel of light to Christians today is by telling them there is no need to use their minds. We must use our minds; we must keep the full power of our intellect ablaze for God on any subject that awakens us in our study of His Word.”

“Unless the missionary knows God and trusts in Him entirely, he will step down to a lower level and compromise, and tell the people they need not do certain things in exactly the way that Jesus indicates. But if he stands true to God, he will preach the truth, at whatever cost to the converts. No nervous system can stand that strain, no sensitiveness of mind can stand that test, nothing but the Holy Ghost can stand it, because He has the mind of God.”

“Loyalty to the commission [see Matthew 28:19-20] means, first of all, that the missionary sets himself to find out all that his Lord taught. There is not a greater test for loyal concentration than that. Jesus did not say—‘Teach salvation,’ or ‘teach sanctification,’ or ‘teach divine healing,’ but—‘Teach whatsoever I have commanded you.’ … A missionary is not sent by Jesus Christ to do medical work, educational work, industrial work; all that is part of the ordinary duty of life, and a missionary ought to be so equipped that he does these things naturally. But Jesus Christ never sends His disciples to do these things; He sends His disciples to teach, to ‘make disciples of all the nations.’”

“God does not do anything with us, only through us; consequently the one thing God estimates in His servants is the work of the Holy Spirit.”

“The real center of the disciple’s devotion is watching with Jesus [see Matthew 26:38]. When once we have learned to watch with Him, the thought of self is not kept down because it is not there to keep down; self-effacement is complete. Self has been effaced by the deliberate giving up to another self in sovereign preference, and the manifestation of the life in the actual world of things is—‘I am not my own, but His.’”

My full book review of So Send I You is here, and you can check out the first set of quotes I shared from So Send I You by clicking here. And be sure to check out my weekly series “Thursdays With Oswald” where I share longer passages from his book I am currently reading.

13 Quotes From “So Send I You”

So Send I You is a series of lectures from Oswald Chambers to Christian missionaries. Check out my full review of this book by clicking here.

“Intuition is the power to sense things without reasoning, and is a better guide than what is stated explicitly; but there is something infinitely more satisfactory—the entrance of the Holy Spirit into a man at new birth enabling him to see the kingdom of God and to enter into it.”

“The realization of the call of God in a man’s life may come as with a sudden thunder-clap or by a gradual dawning, but in whatever way it comes, it comes with the undercurrent of the supernatural, almost the uncanny; it is always accompanied with a glow—something that cannot be put into words. We need to keep the atmosphere of our mind prepared by the Holy Spirit lest we forget the surprise of the touch of God on our lives.”

“We are apt to have the idea that a man called to the ministry is called to be a different kind of being from other men. According to Jesus Christ, he is called to be the ‘doormat’ of other men; he is their spiritual leader, but never their superior. … I am not to come among men as a superior person, I am to come among men as the love-slave of Jesus Christ.” 

“Loose, trailing, uninspired thinking about sin will very soon trip us up. Gird up your thinking about sin, about holiness, about the eternal realities and the call of the unseen things.”

“To be a witness of Jesus means that when any duty presents itself we hear His voice just as He heard His Father’s voice, and we are ready for it with all the alertness of our love for Him.”

“Never put a thing aside because it is insignificant. If you trace it down, the insignificant thing has at the back of it the disposition of my right to myself. … Never discard a conviction; if it is important enough for the Spirit of God to have brought it to your mind, that is the thing He is detecting. You were looking for a great big thing to do, and God is telling you of some tiny thing; but at the back of the tiny thing is the central citadel of obstinacy.”

“Our Lord never called us to successful service; He calls us to present Him: ‘I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me.’ God saves men; we are sent out to present Jesus Christ and His Cross, and to disciple the souls He saves. The reason we do not make disciples is that we are not disciples ourselves, we are out for our own ends.”

“In order to plough a straight furrow, you must look neither at the plough nor behind you, but at the far end of the field ahead. When once the call of God comes, begin to go and never stop going, no matter how many delightful resting places there may be on the way.”

“The attitude of the Christian life is that we must be prepared now, this second; this is the time. … It is easy to talk, easy to have fine thoughts; but none of that means being a disciple. Being a disciple is to be something that is an infinite satisfaction to Jesus every minute, whether in secret or in public.”

“The method of missions is clearly stated in each of the four Gospels. St. Matthew records the farewell command which Jesus gave to His disciples, and that command is to teach, i.e., disciple all nations; not make converts to our way of thinking, but make disciples of Jesus. In St. Mark’s Gospel the method is defined as preaching the gospel to every creature, accompanied by the power to cast out devils, and to speak with new tongues. In St. Luke’s Gospel the method is described as preaching repentance and remission of sins unto all the nations, and in St. John’s Gospel the method is described by Our Lord as feeding His sheep and tending His lambs.”

“If you put the worship of God first, and get the revelation of Who God is, then, when the call comes you will be ready for it, because of the worship and preparing in the unseen life, when the strain comes you are perfectly fit to be relied on by God. Worshiping is greater than work in that it absorbs work.”

“‘I have given them the glory that You gave Me’ [John 17:22]. What was the glory that Jesus had when He was Son of Man? It was not an external glory; Jesus effaced the Godhead in Himself so effectually that man without the Spirit of God despised Him. His glory was the glory of actual holiness, and that is the glory He says He gives to the saint. The glory of the saint is the glory of actual holiness manifested in actual life here and now.”

“If we try to get ‘head first’ into what Our Lord teaches, we shall exhibit the same stupidity as the disciples did, until we have received the Holy Spirit and learned to rely on Him, and to interpret the words of Jesus as He brings them to our mind.”

You can read some of the longer passages from this book that I share in my weekly “Thursdays With Oswald” feature.

So Send I You (book review)

Jesus told His followers, “As the Father has sent Me, so send I you” (John 20:21). So Send I You by Oswald Chambers is a series of lectures to his students that were preparing to be missionaries. But, as Chambers makes perfectly clear, every Christian is a missionary.

Samuel M. Zwemer said about this book, “A preface or forward is scarcely needed to introduce the reader to this treasure-house of thought on missions. Those who have read other books by our friend, Oswald Chambers, know what to expect. A message not for superficial minds and hearts. Those who love to think on the kingdom and whose hearts the King has entered will not be disappointed as they read these pages.”

Truly this is not a book for superficial minds, as Chambers challenges Christians to look at life through the eyes of Jesus, to be on a mission just as Jesus was. His lectures are solidly founded on Scripture, showing us how Jesus intended His followers to conduct themselves.

If you are ready to be more used by God, then So Send I You is for you. You will be both challenged and encouraged and equipped to be a more effective disciple and missionary for Jesus Christ.

Thursdays With Oswald—Love’s Focus

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Love’s Focus 

     We live in a complex world, a mass of sensibilities and impressionabilities that we are apt to imagine that it is the same with God. … The key to missionary devotion is put in our hand at the outset, “For His name’s sake they went forth” [3 John 7]. The key is amazingly simple, as is everything connected with Our Lord. Our difficulties arise when we lose the key, and we lose the key by not being simple. …  

     “Simon son of John, do you truly love Me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, You know that I love You” [John 21:16]. In verse 15 Our Lord had made a comparison—“Do you truly love Me more than these?” Here He makes no comparison—“Do you truly love Me?” To demand a declaration of love beyond comparison is to risk losing all. A missionary must be dominated by this love beyond compare to the Lord Jesus Christ, otherwise he will be simply the servant of a denomination or a cause, or a seeker for relief from a crushing sorrow in work. Many go into Christian work not for the sake of His Name, but in order to find surcease from their own sorrow; because of unrequited love; or because of a bereavement or a disappointment. Such workers are not dominated by the Master, and they are likely to strew the mission field with failure and sighs, and to discourage those who work with them. There is only one thing stronger than any of these feelings, and that is love.

From So Send I You

It’s a good question for any Christian to ask themselves: Why do I do what I do?

Does it seem like a good idea? A noble idea? Is it because someone asked me to help? Maybe I saw a need that wasn’t being addressed?

Or do I do what I do as a Christian because I am so in love with Jesus—so focused on Him—that I cannot help but stay “on mission” with Him? His directive was not to DO things, but to BE His witness wherever I went, teaching people whatever He taught me (see Matthew 28:19-20).

Love for Christ should be the only reason we do what we do.

5 Quotes From “Praying For Muslims”

Sobhi Malek put together an extremely helpful guide for praying for Muslims. Each week has a prayer, but there are also several helpful insights which Sobhi shares. Here are a few of those insights.

“This warfare is not against people of any religion or affiliation. Christ, who died for all human beings, instructed us to love our neighbors. Rather, this war is against the evil powers which control people and hinder them from seeing the light of the Gospel of Christ (Ephesians 6:12). In other words, we are warring against satan who ‘has blinded the minds of unbelievers.’ His goal is to keep people from seeing ‘the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God’ (2 Corinthians 4:4). When we pray and ask others to pray, this does not mean that we feel superior. We do not think we are better than Muslims or any other people.  Rather, we believe we are fallen human beings like all others, but we have been saved by God’s grace.”

“When Muslims say, ‘In the name of God the merciful, the compassionate,’ all Muslims and many Christians do not know that this is taken from the Bible. This phrase demonstrates the early influence of Judaism and Christianity on Muhammad. Here are some occurrences of this combination in the Bible: compassionate and gracious (Exodus 34:6, NIV); compassionate and merciful (Psalm 86:15, GW; 103:8, NLT; James 5:11, GW); merciful and tender (Luke 1:78, TEV).”

“There are many teachings in Islam that we, believers in Christ, can use as bridges to help Muslims draw near to and enter the Kingdom of God. The Qur’an states that God created Adam and Eve, that He sent the flood but rescued Noah, that He spoke to Abraham, that He gave the Torah (Pentateuch) to Moses, that He sent Jesus who was born of a virgin. All these narratives, common to both Muslims and Christians, can be used as bridges to bring Muslims closer to the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. This does not mean that all the details of these stories in Islam are in full agreement with the biblical accounts, but they can work as starting points. It is also rewarding to establish friendships with Muslims as you seek to share with them the Gospel of Christ. Friends trust each other, depend on each other and desire each other’s wellbeing. Building bridges of common narratives and friendship pays dividends.”

“The Qur’an, Islam’s holy book, is a collection of jumbled statements and stories in a random arrangement. Most of its stories are fractured and lack consistency. Subjects and themes are not connected. So fractured are narratives in the Qur’an that only one story has a clear beginning, middle, and end: the story of Joseph. All the other stories pick up in the middle, or else they are never carried to their conclusion. The Qur’an admits that satan sometimes intervened and gave Muhammad ‘inspiration.’ It also states that Muhammad forgot some parts of it. Several chapters start with meaningless three-letter words such as alr, alm, etc. Even great quranic interpreters cannot find a meaning for such words. In one place the Qur’an states that no changes occurred in its text, and in another it says changes to it indeed took place.”

“In the past few decades, millions of Muslims have migrated to the West. Some seek jobs, others pursue freedom and a better living, and still others hope to conquer the West by converting Westerners to Islam or by sheer reproduction and numerical growth! I personally take this migration to mean the Lord wants to help the Church win large numbers of Muslims to Christ by bringing them to her doorstep.”

Next week I will share a few of the prayers Sobhi leads us in each week. I would also recommend that you check out my review of Praying For Muslims.

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