8 EXAMPLES OF BIBLE HEROES WHO WEPT

​Most Christian leaders feel embarrassed and apologetic when they cry, particularly if it’s in public.  We tend to equate weeping with emotional instability, loss of self-control, and fragility that’s the polar opposite of strong leadership. But God’s Word offers a different perspective.  What follows are a few of the faith heroes whose tears made rivulets down their cheeks.  As you peruse these profiles, look for why they cried. 1.  Inconsolable.  The prophet Isaiah couldn’t stomach God’s forecast of judgment for His wayward people: “I will weep bitterly, do not try to comfort me concerning the destruction of the daughter of my people” (Isa. 22:4).   2.  Weeping Prophet.  When he conveyed God’s warning of dire consequences for Judah’s rebellion, Jeremiah admitted, “If you will not listen to it, my soul will sob in secret for such pride; and my eyes will bitterly weep and flow down with tears, because the flock of the Lord has been taken captive” (Jer. 13:17). 3.  Responsive To Revelation.  When a priest read aloud to King Josiah a long-lost copy of the Law, the stark contrast between God’s expectations and the nation’s moral climate broke the king’s heart.  The result was a spate of top-down policies for …

3 LESSONS LEARNED FROM ROBERTSON MCQUILKIN

Robertson—missionary statesman, college president, renown author—is now in the presence of the Lord, whom he loved supremely and served sacrificially. If you could look up the words “finished well” in  a Pictorial Dictionary, you’d see Robertson’s face. In the 35 years I knew him, I learned a lot from his books and chapel messages at Columbia International University.  But he taught me more important things when we verbally interacted, and when I merely observed his life.  What follows are three things he taught me. 1.     Robertson taught me how to weep.   I saw him weep in public twice.  In the 1980s, in a faculty meeting, he told the story of a young married man who had a mental breakdown and killed his infant child, then suffered brain damage when he ran in front of an emergency vehicle that arrived at the scene.  Many days later, Robertson visited the man’s hospital room. The only cards on tables or the wall were from the same relative (not his former wife). His compassion for the person, for the broken marriage, for the senseless loss of life, spilled over in his tears. He wept for the painful effects of sin in our …

The Benefits of “Waiting on God”

​The delay in fulfilling his calling was unexpected and frustrating. After six years of intensive outreach in China, at age 29, Hudson Taylor returned to England, a furlough prompted by poor health. For five years he waited to return, all the while burdened by the spiritual darkness in China, where 30,000 died daily without hearing the Gospel. In Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secrets, his son James explains how those years of waiting tempered the steel of his father’s soul. For periods of time in his London flat in a poor part of the city, Taylor and his family were “shut up to prayer and patience.” Persevering prayer became a deeply-ingrained habit. He experienced “the deep prolonged exercise of a soul that is following hard after God… the gradual strengthening of a man called to walk by faith, not by sight; the unutterable confidence of a heart cleaving to God and God alone.” As those years away from China progressed, when despondency assailed him, “prayer was the only way by which the burdened heart could obtain any relief.” Yet the value of the delay wasn’t restricted to the cultivation of deeper faith through desperate prayer. When his health permitted, he spoke in churches across …

Playing Back God’s Call: A Key to Resiliency 

​In the late 1700s, the British economy relied heavily on the slave trade from Africa. Most captives toiled on large plantations owned by Britishers in the West Indies. The annual export of slaves from Africa’s western coast exceeded 100,000.A year after converting to Christ, William Wilberforce (1759-1833), a Member of Parliament, sensed a call on his life that would keep him in politics. He wrote, “God Almighty has set before me two great objects: the suppression of the slave trade, and the reformation of manners (morals).” A decade later he reiterated the conviction about racial injustice: “The grand object of my parliamentary existence is the abolition of the slave trade…before this grand cause all others dwindle in my eyes.”Wilberforce would need this strong sense of divine call, for the battle for racial justice consumed almost forty-six years of his life (1787-1833). Eleven times the House of Commons defeated his motion to end the slave trade. Opponents threatened his life. Men who he thought were good friends severed ties with him. Political pressure to back down escalated, threatening his re-elections. If they abolished slavery, West Indian assemblies announced they would declare independence from Britain and federate with the United States.One stimulant …

Frailty Doesn’t Disqualify Us

An incident in Jack Murray’s life showed that weakness is not a hindrance to usefulness in God’s kingdom. His son, George, told this story in chapel while he served as President of Columbia International University. ​Jack, a traveling evangelist decades ago, was coming off back-to-back weeks of meetings in local churches. He boarded a plane, headed to yet another week-long engagement. The intensive delivery of messages and constant interactions with people had depleted his mental and physical reserves. Craving a nap so he could recoup, he was delighted to hear that seating was “open” rather than assigned. Since the plane was only half-full, to signal his desire for privacy, he sat by a window, placing his coat and hat on the two adjacent seats. Surprisingly, a sharply-dressed business woman asked to sit in the aisle seat next to him. She tried to engage Jack in conversation, but he cited the exhausting week behind him and said he needed to rest during the flight. He pushed the seat-recliner button, closed his eyes, and leaned his head against the bulkhead. That’s when someone else started talking to him. “Jack, there’s a woman sitting next to you,” whispered God’s Spirit. “Yea, I know. And of all the places she could have …

HOW GOD GETS GLORY – PART 2

Series on Depression and Faith My last post, “How God Gets Glory,” conveyed the ironic truth that our weakness, neediness, or inadequacy provides a grand opportunity for God to receive more honor and praise. Allow me to dissect the concept of God’s glory. The Bible’s emphasis on His glory refers to His weight. That’s the root concept of the noun “glory” and the verb “glorify.” God is heavy in the figurative sense of significance or importance. God insists that He created us for His glory (Isa. 43:7). The Psalmist cried, “Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to Thy name give glory” (Ps. 115:1). Paul wrote, “Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (I Cor. 10:31). In God’s Passion For His Glory, John Piper goes so far as to say, “God’s aim in creating the world was to display the value of His own glory.” During a long-lasting depressive episode years ago, I wrote the following poem to convey the truth of Psalm 50:15. If you didn’t read my previous post, peruse it now, because there I explain the Biblical insight on which this poem is based. HOW? How can God receive most glory in …

How god gets glory

HOW GOD GETS GLORY More than a century before satellites beamed Christian TV programs across the globe, Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892) was a renowned British pastor.  Due to the depth and eloquence of his preaching, contemporaries dubbed him the “Prince of Expositors.”  He spoke to jam-packed sanctuaries while still in his 20s.  So many folks in London wanted to hear him preach that he occasionally pleaded with church members to stay home so unsaved visitors could get a seat and hear the gospel.  Spurgeon’s mental gifts dwarfed typical Christian leaders.  Publishers still disseminate his devotional books and sermons throughout the world. At first glance, you’d think he’s the last person to feel inadequate or dependent.  Surely the strengths of this behemoth of Church history far eclipsed his weaknesses.   Wrong. Recurring depression dogged Spurgeon most of his adult life.  His first episode descended at age twenty-four.  Here’s what he wrote about it: “My spirits were sunken so low that I could weep by the hour like a child, and yet I know not what I wept for.”    Repeated incidences spawned these words: “Causeless depression cannot be reasoned with…as well fight with the mist as with this shapeless, indefinable, yet all-beclouding hopelessness.”   …

3 BOOKS THAT CHANGED MY LIFE 

A good book informs me.  A great book forms me.  Here are three books that have shaped my thinking and daily walk with Christ. 1.        Knowing God, by James I. Packer His treatment of the attributes of God provides a bedrock foundation for all theological study.  As a young Christian in the 1970s, the chapter on God’s wrath helped me grasp the doctrine of propitiation, or the God-ward aspect of Jesus’ death on the cross.  A chapter titled “These Inward Trials” soothed my soul, and still offers needed perspective due to my lifelong propensity for despondency.  It’s a concise “theology of suffering” that is much-needed in an era in which the so-called “prosperity gospel” proliferates. 2.        Future Grace, by John Piper What a soul-soothing truth:  the more grace we get from God for daily discipleship and ministry, the more glory God gets from our lives.  Rather than trying to “pay back God” for grace—which would nullify it—the right response is to keep going to Him for more of His grace. The chapter titled “Faith In Future Grace vs. Despondency” is my personal favorite.  No matter what causes bouts of depression, there is a spiritual battle to fight—a fight that requires …