Friday, October 29, 2010

The Unseen Ally

Another excerpt from "Behind the Ranges" - the story of missionary J.O. Fraser written by Mrs. Howard Taylor.

In describing Fraser's increasing awareness of the effectiveness of prayer, the author writes, "Recent experiences had deepened his conviction as to the vital part God has assigned to intercessory prayer in the work of His kingdom. Repeatedly he had noticed the difference between people and places that had been much prayed for and those that had not. In the former half the work seemed to be done already, as if an unseen ally had gone ahead to prepare the way. This made him not only persevere in prayer himself, whether he felt like it or not, but also impelled him to induce Christians at home to pray."

I was struck by the phrases "unseen ally" and "half the work already one" - what a powerful force! We have access to the mighty advancing work of God through prayer!

Fraser wrote this in one of his letters: "We often speak of intercessory work as being of vital importance. I want to prove this in actual fact by giving my first and best energies to it, as God may lead. I feel like a businessman who perceives that a certain line of goods pays better than any other in his store, and who purposes making it his chief investment; who, in fact, sees an inexhaustible supply and an almost unlimited demand for a profitable article; and intends to concentrate on this line more than anything else."

I want to see prayer as my "chief investment." As the years go by, ceaseless activity grows old. I long for activity that profits because the "unseen ally" has already gone before me and prepared the ground for His work to be done in people's lives.

God, change me.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Three W's - (title credit given to Belle Yeh...hehe)

I've tried so many times to correct people...I see some character issue or flaw and I take that opportunity to address it head-on. I wonder how many times I will do this in my life until I realize that it rarely works. I sometimes feel exasperated -perhaps because I am hurt by this sin pattern in their life again and again, or I watch this person fall into temptation again and again. How do I address this? What to do about it!??! There is a kind of false burden inherent in this - thinking that its my job to help this person change.

I've been learning about prayer lately, and I am especially thankful for the book by Paul Miller, "A Praying Life." He offers his three-fold pattern: (1) WRITE down your prayer concern for that person, (2) WATCH for God to work while you pray, then (3) watch how God provides an opportunity to "WORK out" that prayer request with an open door into that person's life in that specific area of concern. Paul Miller says, "By 'worked' I mean that God involved me in my own prayers, often in a physical and humbling way."


We usually reverse the process - we try everything on our own and when we fail, in desperation we turn to prayer. Paul Miller is suggesting the opposite approach, which is really an approach of HUMILITY. I can't change people, only God can. My job is to pray and wait.

I've seen this pattern at work in the lives of people close to me. Its amazing the stress that it takes off of my shoulders. For example, I see a discouraging pattern of pride in someone I am working with. Instead of attacking it head on, I pray and ask God's Spirit to work. I wait, I pray, and I watch. Soon, that person comes to me and says, "Val, I've seen this area of pride in my life...what can I do about it?" An open door suddenly exists to point them to Christ - whereas before my words would have been met with defensiveness or dismissal.

The especially humbling thing is that people, I hope, will apply this same pattern in reference to areas of weakness they see in MY life. Well, bring it on!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Behind the Ranges - story of missionary J.O. Fraser

I have been greatly encouraged by the experience and writings of J.O. Fraser, missionary to the Lisu minority people group in the mountains of China, and would like to share some portions with you:

Some quotes and my reactions...

He was concerned that the recent converts to Christian faith would return to demon worship: "I am not anxious, not nervous. If I hugged my care to myself instead of casting it upon Him, I would never have persevered with the work this long - perhaps never even have started it. But if it has begun in Him, it must be continued in Him."
How true - when I "hug my care to myself" and do not cast it on Him, I begin to weaken in purpose and in spiritual strength. The key to continuing is releasing these burdens to Him.
He read II Chronicles 20:15-17, "The battle is not yours, but God's...Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the Lord with you...fear not, nor be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them: for the Lord will be with you." This led him to write the following: "Seem distinctly led to fight against principalities and powers for Middle Village. Have faith for the conversion of that place, and pray as a kind of bugle call for the hosts of heaven to come down and fight for me against the powers of darkness..."
My favorite line: to "pray as a kind of bugle call" - what a powerful picture that is! To call out the forces of the Kingdom of Light to fight - all in response to the prayer of men who are 'but dust.'
"We cannot press souls into the kingdom of Heaven; neither, when they are once converted, can we worry them into maturity; we cannot by taking thought add a cubit to our own spiritual stature or anyone else's. The plants of our heavenly Father's planting will grow better under His open sky than in the hot-houses of our feverish effort. It is for us to water, and to water diligently, but we cannot give the increase, however hard we try. An abnormally rapid growth is often unnatural and unhealthy: the quick growth spoken of in Matthew 13:5 is actually said to be a sign of its being ephemeral."
How silly I am to believe that my earnestness, "feverish efforts" or intensity will be the cause of any spiritual maturity around me in new believers. I am more and more and more and more driven to prayer.
Believers must... "work in the atmosphere of eternity. The rush and the bustle of carnal activity breathe a spirit of restlessness. The Holy Spirit breathes a deep calm. This is the atmosphere in which we may expect a lasting work of God to grow."
"Let us take care first of all that it is a work of God - begun and continued in God - and then let us cast our anxities, our fears, and our impatience to the winds. Let us shake off 'dull sloth' on the one hand and feverishness on the other. A gourd may spring up in a night, but not an oak."
Almighty God, I want to be part of cultivating an Oak tree. Give me your patience and perspective through the lense of eternity.
"When God sends His servants to reap, such a time of special waiting upon Him is all to the good, even if it seems to intrude upon the urgency of the task."
I have been discouraged these past few weeks due to the interuption of my activities for the Gospel by dealing with grief related to the murder of a good friend. My workaholic nature wants to press forward, irritated at the lack of control that I have upon my emotions and my need for rest. But I am reminded by Fraser, whose biographer wrote these words to describe his rest after surgery, that a time of waiting upon Him is more important than any level of activity.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

In The Beginning

Hello -
I LOVE to read...especially books on God, theology, relationships, ministry, outreach, evangelism, philosophy, apologetics, and the Christian life. This blog was created to share my ponderings. Welcome! - BookBloggerNYC