Monthly Archives: August, 2018

Hudson Taylor

Lesson Seventeen | Devotion #5: Hudson Taylor
Dr. Randy T. Johnson | Growth Pastor

James Hudson Taylor, better known as just Hudson Taylor, was probably the most influential missionary to China where he founded the China Inland Mission (also known as Overseas Missionary Fellowship, and now known as OMF International).

Although Taylor became such an impactful servant for the Lord, he reports his frustration in wrestling with the Gospel, “Often I had tried to make myself a Christian, and failing of course in such efforts, I began at last to think that for some reason or other I could not be saved, and that the best I could do was to take my fill of this world, as there was no hope for me beyond the grave.” His parents were consistent role models and spent a lot of time in prayer for their son.

Warren Wiersbe reports how Taylor got saved at age seventeen while reading a Gospel tract, “While he was reading, he was struck by the phrase ‘the finished work of Christ.’ Immediately the words of Scripture leaped into his mind: ‘It is finished!’ He said to himself, ‘If the whole work was finished and the while debt paid, what is there left for me to do?’ He fell to his knees and yielded himself to Christ.” It is a great reminder and challenge to the power of God’s Word and a simple tract.

Christian History Magazine continues his story, “He spent the next years in frantic preparation, learning the rudiments of medicine, studying Mandarin, and immersing himself ever deeper into the Bible and prayer.” The magazine continues, “In September 1853, a little three-masted clipper slipped quietly out of Liverpool harbor with Hudson Taylor, a gaunt and wide-eyed 21-year-old missionary, aboard. He was headed for a country that was just coming into the Christian West’s consciousness; only a few dozen missionaries were stationed there. By the time Taylor died a half-century later, however, China was viewed as the most fertile and challenging of mission fields as thousands volunteered annually to serve there.” One man changed a country and the mind of the world.

Taylor is one of the most quotable Christian giants:

“Whatever is your best time in the day, give that to communion with God.”

“I used to ask God to help me. Then I asked if I might help Him. I ended up by asking Him to do His work through me.”

“The Great Commission is not an option to be considered; it is a command to be obeyed.”

“You must go forward on your knees.”

“I have found that there are three stages in every great work of God: first, it is impossible, then it is difficult, then it is done.”

“Christ is either Lord of all, or He is not Lord at all.”

JRR Tolkien

Lesson Seventeen | Devotion #4: JRR Tolkien
Dr. Randy T. Johnson | Growth Pastor

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien is better known as JRR Tolkien. If you do not recognize the name yet, he is best known for authoring The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Christianity Today refers to Tolkien as one who was at odds with the world saying, “He would have seen reason enough for distress, chilling marks of the modern secular-scientific ideal. In the East: the killing fields, the gulags, and the holocaust camps. In the West: materialism, invasive corporate capitalism, and softly tyrannical bureaucracies. An anti-modern conservative, Tolkien often fell into despair, especially toward the end of his life, as he took account of the world situation.” Tolkien’s imagination helped him (and through him others) escape the tragic reality of our world.

Tolkien was born in South Africa in 1892. His father died when he was about four, so he, his mother, and little brother moved back to his mother’s hometown in England. Biography writes of Tolkien’s tough life, “Tolkien family life was generally lived on the genteel side of poverty. However, the situation worsened in 1904, when Mabel Tolkien was diagnosed as having diabetes, usually fatal in those pre-insulin days. She died on 14 November of that year leaving the two orphaned boys effectively destitute. At this point Father Francis took over, and made sure of the boys’ material as well as spiritual welfare.” It appears Father Francis is the man who helped Tolkien through his spiritual journey.

Although his early life was extremely challenging, Christianity Today points out, “Yet, this most devout Christian would also see signs of immense hope, knowing well that St. Paul accorded it the second highest place among the virtues.”

Outside of writing The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and numerous other books, Tolkien’s incredible life had a major impact in the salvation of CS Lewis. Christianity Today records how Tolkien would explain to Lewis how reason and imagination could go together as they looked at the Gospel accounts, “Suddenly Lewis could see that the nourishment he had always received from great myths and fantasy stories was a taste of that greatest, truest story—of the life, death, and resurrection of Christ.”

Tolkien is known for having said:

“It may be the part of a friend to rebuke a friend’s folly.”

“Short cuts make long delays.”

“Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens.”

“You have been chosen, and you must therefore use such strength and heart and wits as you have.”

“All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost; the old that is strong does not wither, deep roots are not reached by the frost.”

William Tyndale

Lesson Seventeen | Devotion #3: William Tyndale
Dr. Randy T. Johnson | Growth Pastor

I attended Detroit Bible College, and when I finished my Sophomore year, the Board decided to change the name of the school to William Tyndale College. I did not like the Board taking ‘Bible’ out of the name of the school and met with the President of the school to find out why his name was chosen. He said, “William Tyndale is ‘The Father of the English Bible.’” I began to research him and came to appreciate who William Tyndale was and to what extent he has changed all of our lives.

I remember reading how Tyndale wanted everyone to be able to read the Bible for themselves. He wanted people to have a relationship directly connected to God as opposed to one that went through the church. He felt that a believer should be able to study the Bible and understand it. So, he took on the challenge of translating the Bible into English. Christianity Today wrote, “William Tyndale could speak seven languages and was proficient in ancient Hebrew and Greek. He was a priest whose intellectual gifts and disciplined life could have taken him a long way in the church—had he not had one compulsion: to teach English men and women the good news of justification by faith.”

One of the funniest stories I heard was about ‘Willie T,’ as we called him in school. Quick summary, he was thrown into prison for trying to translate the Bible into English. While in prison, he asked for his cloak and books. He then translated much of the New Testament into English while in prison. He was kicked out of prison and told not to do it anymore. Obviously, if prison did not stop him, freedom would not either. He continued his endeavor. Sadly, he was caught and burned at the stake. They burned him alive.

You and I can read the Bible in English because William Tyndale was willing to go to prison and even die for it to happen. Our prayer should be, “God thank you for people like William Tyndale. Help me be such a committed follower of you.”

Here are some quotes from William Tyndale:

“I defy the Pope and all his laws. If God spare my life, ere many years I will cause a boy who drives the plough to know more of the scriptures than you do.”

“The Church is the one institution that exists for those outside it.”

“Christ is with us until the world’s end. Let his little flock be bold therefore.”

“I call God to record against the day we shall appear before our Lord Jesus, that I never altered one syllable of God’s Word against my conscience, nor would do this day, if all that is in earth, whether it be honor, pleasure, or riches, might be given me.”

“There is no work better than to please God; to pour water, to wash dishes, to be a cobbler, or an apostle, all are one; to wash dishes and to preach are all one, as touching the deed, to please God.”

Charles Spurgeon

Lesson Seventeen | Devotion #2: Charles Spurgeon
Dr. Randy T. Johnson | Growth Pastor

Charles Haddon Spurgeon’s conversion is one of the more common stories recorded of world famous preachers. As an older teen, he was out for a walk on a Sunday morning when he walked right into a snowstorm. To escape the weather, he slipped into a local church. The storm hit so hard; the preacher could not make it for the morning church gathering. After warming up by the fire, a layman got up and preached. He was not the most eloquent speaker, but the Holy Spirit worked on Spurgeon’s heart, and he gave up his life to the Lord. It is a good reminder that God can show up when no one expects it, that sudden conversions exist, that you do not need to be a ‘super preacher’ or ‘paid staff’ to lead someone to the Lord, and that you may affect the life of hundreds, thousands, and possibly even millions by leading one person to the Lord. God is amazing, and He is willing to use us. He wants to use us.

Warren Wiersbe said, “Perhaps one of the highest compliments anyone could pay a preacher would be to say that he preaches like Spurgeon.” Helmut Thielicke wrote, “Sell all that you have…and buy Spurgeon.” Spurgeon’s sermons and writings have and will inspire numerous preachers who are serious about preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Christianity Today reports an example of how impactful Spurgeon’s life was, “When Charles Spurgeon died in January 1892, London went into mourning. Nearly 60,000 people came to pay homage during the three days his body lay in state at the Metropolitan Tabernacle. Some 100,000 lined the streets as a funeral parade two miles long followed his hearse from the Tabernacle to the cemetery. Flags flew at half-staff and shops and pubs were closed.”

Charles Spurgeon said and wrote numerous items that are quite quote-worthy:

“Free will carried many a soul to hell, but never a soul to heaven.”

“The greatest enemy to human souls is the self-righteous spirit which makes men look to themselves for salvation.”

“Do I live as carelessly and worldly as unbelievers while professing to be a follower of Jesus? If so, I am exposing Christianity to ridicule and leading people to speak evil of the holy name by which I am called.”

“When we tell the story of our own conversion, I would have it done with great sorrow, remembering what we used to be, and with great joy and gratitude, remembering how little we deserve these things.”

“Has Jesus saved me? I dare not speak with any hesitation here; I know He has. His Word is true; therefore, I am saved.”

“Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strength.”

Charles Wesley

Lesson Seventeen | Devotion #1: Charles Wesley
Dr. Randy T. Johnson | Growth Pastor

Charles Wesley “was said to have averaged 10 poetic lines a day for 50 years. He wrote 8,989 hymns, 10 times the volume composed by the only other candidate (Isaac Watts) who could conceivably claim to be the world’s greatest hymn writer” (Christianity Today). He composed some of the most memorable and lasting hymns of the church: Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, And Can It Be, O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing, Love Divine, Jesus, Lover of My Soul, Christ the Lord Is Risen Today, and Rejoice! The Lord Is King!

Charles Wesley was the eighteenth of nineteen children born to Samuel and Susannah Wesley. The children started schooling early at home as mom knew Greek, Latin, and French. Later, Charles went to Oxford. Christianity Today reports that while at Oxford, Charles “formed the Holy Club, and with two or three others celebrated Communion weekly and observed a strict regimen of spiritual study. Because of the group’s religious regimen, which later included early rising, Bible study, and prison ministry, members were called ‘Methodists.’”

Christianity Today explains Charles’ salvation, “Charles taught English to Moravian Peter Böhler, who prompted Charles to look at the state of his soul more deeply. During May 1738, Charles began reading Martin Luther’s volume on Galatians while ill. He wrote in his diary, ‘I labored, waited, and prayed to feel ‘who loved me, and gave himself for me.’ He shortly found himself convinced, and journaled, ‘I now found myself at peace with God, and rejoice in hope of loving Christ.’ Two days later he began writing a hymn celebrating his conversion.” That led to close to nine thousand hymns.

Charles helped his brother, John, start the Methodist Church. He is often referred to as the ‘forgotten Wesley.’ Although Charles wrote so many hymns, he like his brother, John, preached to thousands. He spoke to ten thousand people at one time, and twenty thousand at another. He traveled, spoke of Jesus, and composed music. Finally, at age 40, he met and soon after married Sally Gwynne.

Charles Wesley always said a lot with his written words:

“Faith, mighty faith, the promise sees, and looks to God alone; Laughs at impossibilities, and cries it shall be done.”

“See the Gospel Church secure, And founded on a Rock! All her promises are sure; her bulwarks who can shock? Count her every precious shrine; Tell, to after-ages tell, Fortified by power divine, The Church can never fail.”

“Not from his head was woman took,

As made her husband to o’erlook;

Not from his feet, as one designed

The footstool of the stronger kind;

But fashioned for himself, a bride;

An equal, taken from his side.”

“The Bible must be the invention either of good men or angels, bad men or devils, or of God. However, it was not written by good men, because good men would not tell lies by saying ‘Thus saith the Lord;’ it was not written by bad men because they would not write about doing good duty, while condemning sin, and themselves to hell; thus, it must be written by divine inspiration.”

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