Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Achievements without prayer

I have been reading a Focus on the Bible commentary on the Book of Acts by Bruce Milne that Christian Focus will publish later this year. Among many comments that I found challenging about modern evangelical church life in Britian was this one:

Samuel Chadwick’s words are as relevant today as when he first penned them: ‘Satan dreads nothing but prayer. His one concern is to keep the saints from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work, prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, he mocks our wisdom, but he trembles when we pray.’ One is reminded of the reported comment of a South Korean leader who was recently taken on a tour of some ‘successful’ mega-churches in North America, but was surprised to discover in the course of it how little prayer featured in these congregations, either in the multiplicity of ministries being undertaken, or in the services of public worship. When his hosts asked him at the conclusion for his impression he apparently responded: ‘I am astonished at how much you folks are able to do without God!’

Friday, 1 January 2010

Is It More Difficult to Preach to Mature Christians?

Robert Findlater wrote to his father and in the letter suggested that it was more difficult to preach to mature Christians than to less mature believers or to non-Christians. This is his father's response:

‘26th March, 1807. I do not savour your opinion when you say “It must be more difficult to preach to established Christians than to those who are not, or those who have not yet attained to the knowledge of it” – except you mean a graceless minister: in that case, you are right, as he cannot preach Christ, neither knows he what way a Christian lives upon the gospel, so as to preach to them. But I never knew a godly minister but would rejoice upon having the people of God to preach to – yea, they are out of their element when they are saying any thing but “Feed my sheep – Feed my lambs.” You mention that it is to a young preacher the difficulty would be. There should be no such young preachers in the world that could not preach to the oldest Christians in it. However young the ministers of Christ are, they can say all to the oldest Christian: We have received the same Spirit of faith, therefore we speak. Without this Spirit they cannot speak, neither will they be understood. They know not the voice of a minister that is a stranger to the same Spirit of faith with themselves. I hope before you enter upon preaching you will change your opinion, which I pray God of his mercy, may grant you. Your mother prays the same.’

Delight in a preaching ministry

After the death of his minister, Charles Calder, Robert Findlater wrote to his son in Edinburgh who was preaching at a communion service there. In the letter mentioned an interest the congregation in Ferintosh had in having John Macdonald as Calder's successor and then states how much Calder's preaching was appreciated.

‘I hope you will have an agreeable time of it in Edinburgh. I pray for his presence among you. Though not acquainted with Mr. McDonald, you may make offer of my best wishes to him and tell him that Ferintosh is proverbial for a good dram, and that we hope he will present us with nothing inferior to what we got. It has oft been so strong and sweet, that we have drunk of it, till we forgot our poverty, and remembered our misery no more.’