David was just 22 years old that fateful morning when he bent down by a mountain stream scanning its stoney bottom. I see him in the early light of dawn looking through the clear water and carefully picking out five smooth stones. Of course there were other stones – large and small. Some were the right size but are rough and uneven. David had learned from experience that these were not the best stones for the job – the smooth ones are the best ones – custom formed, as it were, for the task at hand. Continue Reading
Wang Ming-Dao the Chinese Christian leader of a past generation who I wrote about in my last article said this:
“There are many different aspects of the Christian life. That which most strongly influences other people and most closely concerns the glory of God, is the Christian’s conduct”.
Some years ago I travelled a long distance to purchase a car from a man who claimed to be a Christian. Indeed, he held a high position in his denomination within which he was a also a popular preacher. He had described the car in glowing terms – and told me I would be very happy with it. However, on arrival, one look at the car showed it had suffered much abuse and required substantial work to bring it up to an acceptable standard. Continue Reading
As I look back on those who, through their writings and character, have had a strong impact on my life, principal among them is Wang [Wong] Ming-Dao. I first came across his book “A Stone Made Smooth”, in the early 80’s and subsequent translations of a very small number of his meditational writings made a powerful impact on me and formed much of my thinking. Opening one of his books last night after many years I was at once struck by how, even now, the effect of his writings linger on in the way I see the world and the church. Continue Reading
One of the catchphrases of the evangelical movement is – “Saved to Serve”. I have heard this stressed multiple times throughout my life and heard it again in a meeting I recently attended. The principal and emphasis is easy enough to understand – one is “saved” primarily in order to “serve” – by means of works in the church, in the widest sense of the term.
Sitting beside me at the recent meeting I attended was a disabled woman – which prompted me to consider those, who for a variety or reasons, may not consider themselves able to “serve” in the normal understanding of the word. The verse used by the speaker to drive home this primacy of “service” was Mark 3:14 –
“Then He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach ..” Continue Reading
One of the big mistakes I have made in life was to assume that people in religious circles who claimed to be in possession of the gifts of The Spirit – would naturally display the graces of The Spirit. This is not necessarily so. Conversely, I have discovered, there are those who make no claim to possession of “The Gifts” – but who, most certainly, display the graces of the Holy Spirit.
Sadly, to my detriment and regret, I have met people who have very clearly possessed and displayed supernatural gifts, and to whom I have given a very high regard, only to discover that, not only did they lack the graces of The Spirit, but were themselvs susceptible to deception and bitterness. Continue Reading