My Life as a Christian

Lecture #2: The Call to the Ministry (Second Session)

Pastor Spurgeon continues with his lecture…

“The first sign of the heavenly call is an intense, all-absorbing desire for the work.  In order to a true call to the ministry there must be an irresistible, overwhelming craving and raging thirst for telling others what God has done to our own souls…If any student in this room could be content to be a newspaper editor, or a grocer, or a farmer, or a doctor, or a lawyer, or a senator, or a king, in the name of heaven let him go his way.

“We must feel that woe is unto us if we preach not the gospel; the word of God must be unto us as fire in our bones, otherwise, if we undertake the ministry, we shall be unhappy in it and unable to bear the self-denials incident to it, and shall be of little service to those among whom we minister. I speak of self-denials, and well I may; for the true pastor’s work is full of them.  (Therefore), the desire to ministry must be thoughtful one and must be thoroughly disinterested one meaning that if a man can detect, after the most earnest self-examination, any other motive than the glory of God and the good of souls, he must turn aside from it at once.

“In the second place, combined with the earnest desire to become a pastor, there must be aptness to teach and some measure of the other qualities needful for the office of a public instructor.  I do not claim  that the first time a man rises to speak he must preach  as well as Robert Hall did in his later days…If a man be called to preach, he will be endowed with a degree of speaking ability, which he will cultivate increase. If the gift of utterance be not there in a measure at the first, it is not likely that it will ever be developed.

“I have heard of a gentleman who had a most intense desire to preach, and pressed his suit upon his minister, until after a multitude of rebuffs he obtained leave to preach a trial sermon. That opportunity was the end  of his importunity, for upon announcing his text he found himself bereft of every idea but one, which he delivered feelingly, and then descended the rostrum. “My brethren,” said he, “if any of you think it an easy thing to preach, I advise you to come up here and have all the conceit taken out of you.”

“I should not complete this point if I did not add, that mere ability to edify, and aptness to teach is not enough, there must be other talents to complete the pastoral character. Sound judgment and solid experience must instruct you; gentle manners and loving affections must sway you; firmness and courage must be manifest; and tenderness and sympathy must not be lacking.

Gifts administrative in ruling well will be as requisite as gifts instructive in teaching well. You must be fitted to lead, prepared to endure, and able to persevere. In grace, you should be head and shoulders above the rest of the people, able to be their father and counselor. Read carefully the qualifications of an elder, given in 1 Timothy 3:2-7, and in Titus 1:6-9. If such gifts and graces be not in you and abound, it may be possible for you to succeed as an evangelist, but as a pastor you will be of no account.

“In order further to prove a man’s call, after al little exercise of his gifts, such as I have already spoken of, he must see a measure of conversion-work going on under his efforts, or he may conclude that he has made a mistake, and therefore, may go back by the best way he can…There must be some measure of conversion-work in your irregular labors before you can believe that preaching is to be your life-work…Brethren, if the Lord give you no zeal for souls, keep to the lapstone or the trowel, but avoid the pulpit as you value your heart’s peace and your future salvation.

“A step beyond all this is however needful in our inquiry. The will of the Lord concerning pastors is made known through the prayerful judgment of his church. It is needful as a proof of your vocation that your preaching should be acceptable to the people of God. God usually opens doors of utterance for those whom he calls to speak in his name…Standing up to preach, our spirit will be judged of the assembly, and if it be condemned, or if, as a general rule, the church is not edified, the conclusion may not be disputed, that we are not sent of God.

“Churches are not all wise, neither do they all judge in the power of the Holy Ghost, but many of them judge after the flesh; yet I had sooner accept the opinion of a company of the Lord’s people than my own upon so personal a subject as my own gifts and graces.”

Professor Spurgeon wraps up the session with this deep insight borrowed from John Newton’s letter to a friend:

“If it be the Lord’s will to bring you into his ministry, he has already appointed your place and service, and though you know it not at present, you shall at a proper time. If you had the talents of an angel, you could do no good with them till his hour is come, and till he leads you to the people whom he has determined to bless by your means. It is very difficult to restrain ourselves within the bounds of prudence here, when our zeal is warm: a sense of the love of Christ upon our hearts, and a tender compassion for poor sinners, is ready to prompt us to break out too soon; but he that believes shall not make haste.”

The lecture to be concluded later…

 

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My Life as a Christian

Lecture #2: The Call to the Ministry (First Session)

Our professor, Charles Spurgeon, just finished his lecture #1, two days ago. Today, he is bringing us his second lecture which he has entitled, “The Call to the Ministry.” This lecture will be divided into three sessions. The first one is more of an introduction. In the second session, the professor will lecture on 5 essentials to be considered in ascertaining a call to the ministry. He will conclude the lecture in the third session by sharing his personal experiences to aspirants for the ministry.

“Any Christian has a right to disseminate the gospel who has the ability to do so; and more, he not only has the right, but it is his duty to do so as long as he lives (Rev. 22:17). The propagation of the gospel is left, not to a few, but to all the disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ according to the measure of grace entrusted to them by the Holy Spirit, each man is bound to minister in his day and generation, both to the church and among unbelievers.

“Indeed, this question goes beyond men, and even includes the whole of the other sex; whether believers are male or female, they are all bound, when enabled by divine grace, to exert themselves to the service, however, need not take the particular form of preaching-certainly, in some cases it must not, as for instance in the case of females, who public teaching is expressly prohibited (1 Tim. 2:12; 1 Cor. 14:34).

“I do not, however, in this lecture allude to occasional preaching, or any other form of ministry common to all the saints, but to the work and office of the bishopric (pastor), in which is included both teaching and bearing rule in the church, which requires dedication of a man’s entire life to spiritual work, and separation from every secular calling (2 Tim. 2:4); and entitles the man to cast himself for temporal supplies upon the church of God, since he gives up all his time, energies, and endeavors, for the  good of those over whom he presides (1 Cor. 9:11; 1 Tim. 5:18).

Professor Spurgeon then goes no to highlight the importance of God’s call to ministry rather than self-calling, so to speak. He writes, “No man may intrude into the sheepfold as an under-shepherd; he must have an eye to the chief Shepherd, and wait his beck and command. Or ever a man stands forth as God’s ambassador, he must wait for the call from above; and if he does not so, but rushes into the sacred office, the Lord will say of him and others like him, “I sent them not, neither commanded them; therefore, they shall not profit this people at all, says the Lord,” (Jer. 23:32).”

Spurgeon at this juncture cites instances of prophets Isaiah (Is.6:8), Jeremiah (Jer. 1:4-10), Ezekiel (Ezk. 2:1-3; 3:1-4), and Daniel who had been called into ministry by God. He then applies the truths regarding the calling of these prophets to the present day. “In the present dispensation, the priesthood is common to all the saints; but to prophecy, or what is analogous to be moved by the Holy Ghost to give oneself up wholly to the proclamation of the gospel, is, as a matter of fact, the gift and calling of only a comparatively small number; and surely these need to be sure of the rightfulness of their position as were the prophets; and yet how can they justify their office, except by a similar call?”

“Brethren, I trust you may be able one day to speak of the flock over whom “the Holy Ghost has made you overseers” (Acts 20:28), and I pray that every one of you may be able to say with the apostle of the Gentiles, that your ministry is not of man, neither by man, but that you have received it of the Lord (Gal. 1:1). In you may that ancient promise be fulfilled, “I will give them pastors according to mine heart,” (Jer. 3:15)…As the Lord Jesus went up to the Mount and called to him whom he would, and then sent them forth to preach (Mark 3:13), even so may he select you, call you upward to commune with himself, and send you forth as his elect servants to bless both the church and the world.”

The first session of this lecture ends here…

 

 

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My Life as a Christian

Pray That Your Character and Ministry Agree

Pastor Spurgeon continues with his lecture entitled, “Minister’s Self-Watch.” For the last two classes, he has lectured on two points namely that a minister or any servant of Christ must be a converted man and have vigorous piety. Today, he concludes the lecture with this final point: a minister or any servant of God should take care THAT HIS PERSONAL CHARACTER AGREES IN ALL RESPECTS WITH HIS MINISTRY. Let’s listen and learn from our professor. Please note that taking notes from the lectures is strictly encouraged although there will be no exams at the end.

“As actions, according to the proverb, speak louder than words, so an ill life effectually drown the voice of the most eloquent ministry…Abhor, brethren, the thought of being clockwork ministers who are not alive by abiding grace within, but are wound up by temporary influences; men who are only ministers for the time being, under the stress of the hour of ministering, but cease to be ministers when they descend the pulpit stairs. True ministers are always ministers.

“It is a horrible thing to be an inconsistent minister…if holiness be wanting, the ambassadors dishonor the country from whence they come, and the prince from whom they come…the life of a preacher should be a magnet to draw men to Christ, and it is sad indeed when it keeps them from him. Sanctity in a minister is a loud call to sinners to repent, and when allied with holy cheerfulness it becomes wondrously attractive.

“You must be a man of God, not after the common manner  of men, but ‘after God’s own heart; and men will strive to be like you, if you be like to God: but when you only stand at the door of virtue, for nothing but to keep sin out, you will draw into the folds of Christ none but such as fear drives in.

“When we say to you, my dear brethren, take care of your life, we mean be careful of even the minute of your character. Avoid little debts, unpunctuality, gossiping, nicknaming, petty quarrels, and all other of those little vices which fill the ointment with flies. The self indulgence which have lowered the repute of many must not be tolerated by us. The familiarities which have laid others under suspicion, we must chastely avoid. The roughness which have rendered some obnoxious, and the fopperies which have made others contemptible, we must put away.

“Even in your recreations, remember that you are ministers. When you are off the parade you are still officers in the army of Christ, and as such demean yourselves. But if the lesser things must be looked after, how careful should  you be in the great matters of morality, honesty, and integrity! Here the minister must not fail. His private life must ever keep good tune with his ministry, or his day will soon set with him, and the sooner he retires the better, for his continuance in his office will only dishonor the cause of God and ruin himself.

“Brethren, the limits of a lecture are reached, and we must adjourn.”

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My Life as a Christian

Pray That Your Piety Be Vigorous

Pastor Spurgeon continues with his lecture today. He is still teaching on the topic of “Minister’s Self-Watch.” In our last class, he pointed out the need for a minister or pastor to be converted. Today, he continues with the second point viz a viz a minister or pastor should be of vigorous piety.

“The first matter of true religion being settled, IT IS OF THE NEXT IMPORTANCE TO THE MINISTER THAT HIS PIETY BE VIGOROUS.

He is not to be content with being equal to the rank and file of Christians, he must be a mature and advanced believer; for the ministry of Christ has been truly called “the choicest of his choice, the elect of his election, a church picked out of the church…His pulse of vital godliness must beat strongly and regularly; his eye of faith must be bright; his foot of resolution must be firm; his hand of activity must be quick; his whole inner man must be the highest degree of sanity”

For sure Spurgeon is not equating maturity with age here since he himself became a preacher in his early twenties. We should have no doubts that he is implying spiritual maturity. Knowing that we can’t cultivate true piety with our own strength, the professor reminds us of the need to lean more and more on God’s grace.

“When God calls us to ministerial labor, we should endeavor to get grace that we may be strengthened into fitness of our position, and not be mere novices carried away by the temptations of Satan, to the injury of the church and our own ruin…We had need live very near to God, if we would approve ourselves in our vocation.”

Please not of this important point from our lecturer: “Recollect as minister or pastors, that your whole life, your whole pastoral life especially, will be affected by the vigor of your piety. If your zeal grows dull, you will not pray well in the pulpit; you will pray worse in the family, and worst in the study alone.”

Spurgeon explains further the need of piety in ministry because as he put it those in ministry are in greater danger. “You must remember , too, that we have need of every vigorous piety, because our danger is so much greater than that of others. Upon the whole, no place is so assailed with temptation as the ministry.” Because of this fact our professor encourages us to live a life of constant repentance since “To lose the personality of repentance  and faith is a loss indeed.”

Spurgeon then warns of pride that comes with a better  knowledge of the Scriptures.  “As wise and learned as you are, take heed to yourselves lest he (Satan) over-wit you. The devil is greater scholar than you, and a nimbler disputant; he can ‘transform himself into an angel of light to deceive. He will get within you and  trip you up your heels before you are aware; he will play the juggler with you undiscerned, and cheat you of your faith or innocence, and you shall not know that you have lost it, nay, he will make you believe it is multiplied or increased when it is lost.” What a profound truth!

As our class time is drawing to an end, the professor wraps up with this words: “Seek then strength from the Strong One, wisdom from the Wise One, in fact, all from God of all.”

The lecture continues next time….on behalf of professor Spurgeon I would like to thank you for sitting in this class today. Grace and peace.

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My Life as a Christian

The Minister’s Self-Watch: Be sure you are converted

     It has been some time since our last class.  It seems our professor, Pastor Spurgeon, was tied up with other equally important assignments but now is back and is bringing his second lecture which he has entitled, “The Minster’s Self-Watch.”

     In this lecture, Spurgeon discusses the need for constant self-evaluation of a minister or a pastor. Of course, this is to be done by the grace of God. He opens with this profound thought:

     “It is true that the Lord can work with the faultiest kind of instrumentality, to be useful in conversion; and he can even work without agents, as he does when he saves men without a preacher at all, applying the word directly by his Holy Spirit; but we cannot regard God’s absolutely sovereign acts a rule for our action…This is a practical truth for our guidance, when the Lord makes exceptions, they do but prove the rule.”

     By this Spurgeon emphasizes on the need for a minister or God’s servant to prepare themselves, by God grace, for service every day. There is no room for neglecting this responsibility on pretext that God can use anything, even that which man intends for evil, to accomplish good (Genesis 50:19).

     Spurgeon goes on to illustrate how negligence of our both spiritual and physical preparation for God’s service can ruin even the good things we would like to accomplish for God as he writes: “It will be in vain for me to stock my library, or organize societies, or project schemes, if I neglect the culture of myself; for books, and agencies, and systems, are only remotely the instruments of my holy calling; my own spirit, soul and body are my nearest machinery for sacred service; my spiritual faculties, and my inner life, are my battle axe and weapons of war.”

     Professor Spurgeon goes on to list the following important points.

First, “It should be one of our first cares that we ourselves be saved men…How horrible to be preacher of the gospel and yet to be unconverted… Unconverted ministry involves the most unnatural relationships. A graceless pastor is a blind man elected into a professorship of optics.” Spurgeon has a great sense of humor but here he drives home a very important truth.

     Spurgeon then quotes from “Reformed Pastor” by Richard Baxter and writes: “Believe it, brethren, God never saved any man for being a preacher, nor because he was an able preacher; but because he was a justified, sanctified man, and consequently faithful in his Master’s work. Take heed, therefore, to yourselves first, that you be that which you persuade others to be, and believe that which you persuade them daily to believe, and have heartily entertained that Christ and Spirit which you offer unto others.”

     While asserting the need for a preacher to be a converted man, Spurgeon still accepts the fact that: “The word of an unconverted man may be blessed to the conversion of souls, since the Lord, while he disowns the man, will still honor his own truth.”

     Oh, it’s already time! Professor Spurgeon will stop here for today. May God grant us the grace to reflect on these matters and instill in us the hunger to seek to be his better instruments through His grace alone. 

 


 

 

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My Life as a Christian

Will You Sit with Me under Pastor Spurgeon’s Lectures?

I am currently making my way through Charles Haddon Spurgeon’s (1834-1892) Lectures to my Students. This is a book comprised of lectures he delivered to the students at the college he founded, Pastor’s College.  Although the biblical truths contained in the lectures were meant for the men who were being trained as pastors and preachers in the nineteenth century, they are also timeless and relevant to every Christian even today.

I am certain that these biblical truths applied to our lives by the grace of God and by his power working in us will contribute immensely to our spiritual growth. Therefore, I would like to humbly request you to join and sit with me under these lectures. Even if you will never preach a single sermon in your life, these biblical truths will still be of great benefit and enable you to glorify God and enjoy Him forever which by the way is our chief end as Westminster Shorter Catechism Question 1 beautifully puts it.

Pastor Spurgeon begins by giving us a background to these lectures and says that he delivered them every Friday afternoon after the students were weary with sterner studies and were intended to ‘fire their hearts’ and sharpen their focus towards the goal of proclaiming the gospel faithfully. Spurgeon also states that the lectures are full of references to himself because his “own experience is the most original contribution he can offer.” He then makes this profound remark:

“The solemn work with which the Christian ministry concerns itself demands a man’s all, and that at its best. To engage in it half-heartedly is an insult to God and man. Slumber must forsake our eyelids sooner than men shall be allowed to perish. Yet we are all prone to sleep as do others, and students, among the rest, are apt to act the part of the foolish virgins; therefore, I have sought to speak out with my whole heart.”

What I intended to do on this blog is to share thoughts and rich lessons I am drawing from the book. I will strive by God’s grace to post as often as I can.  Please also take your time to give feedback or leave a comment if you can. All is set.  Here is my pen and notebook.  Will you join me to study under pastor Spurgeon? I hear somebody asking about tuition fee. No, there is no need for one.

Grace and peace to you.

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My Life as a Christian

Great Things He Has Done

There has been silence on the blog for the past weeks. One main reason that can better explain the muteness is preparations and departure for studies in a land not my own, United States of America (USA).

Together with my family, I have temporarily moved from the land of my birth, Malawi, to Grand Rapids,  Michigan to study for Masters of Arts in Religion (Emphasis: Systematic Theology) at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary (PRTS).

One of the opening sentences to the International Student Manual for PRTS reads: “We know that God has brought you through many challenges to be with us.” This can’t be further from the truth. My preparations for studies have not been a piece of cake. Through the whole process, my understanding of God’s sovereignty has improved for the better, and I can confidently say like David: “If the Lord had not been on our side…” (you wouldn’t have been reading this post and I wouldn’t have written it either). The Malawian Gospel singing group, Ndirande Angilcan Voices, also put it better when they sang: “Akalemba Mulungu walemba basi” literally meaning “What God has determined to do, He will definitely do.”

For sure, this is not about me or my family but God alone who is the center of everything in heaven and earth. His ways are not our ways and they shall never be. I would like to thank Him for making my dream come true. He not only gave the dream but He also fulfilled it. Soli Deo Gloria! (To God alone be the glory)

I would like also to thank my parents, relations, in-laws and so many friends and work colleagues for standing up with me in prayer and encouraging and supporting me when the going got tough and I was about to throw in the towel. May God richly bless you. Like David again we can sing: “He who goes out weeping bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him,” (Psalm 126:6).

I will quote God’s Word recorded for us by David once more. Like this King of Israel I feel very much overwhelmed by what God has done for me and I can’t help it but wonder:

“Who am I, O Lord, and what is my house that you have brought me thus far? And this is a small thing in your eyes, O God…And what more can (I) say to you for honoring your servant? For you know your servant. For your servant’s sake, O Lord and according to your own heart, you have done all this greatness…There is none like you, O LORD, and there is no God besides you” (1 Chronicles 17:14-20).

So, may all the saints join and help me sing “To God be the glory, great things He has done.” Fellow saints, lets also continue to remember each other in prayer. Seminary life just like any life can be hard at times but I pray that Christ alone will keep me going. Remember me in your prayers that God will also meet my needs and that of my family as I pray that he meets yours too.

Postscript:          We got a warm and nice welcome in Grand Rapids when we arrived on August 2, 2013. Most people are friendly and more than willing to assist and help as we are settling. I have also noticed so many Reformed churches in this part of Michigan and that’s more blessings for me. Oh, what great things He has done!

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My Life as a Christian

My Reflections on God’s Sovereignty

God is Sovereign. He is in control of all that happens in this world and there is nothing that can come to pass without his knowledge or will. I strongly believe in this truth. Over the years as I have studied Scripture, I have come to realize that this is Biblically true and theologically sound. I have even gone ahead to teach and preach this truth in my theological classes and sermons.

However, some instances arise and challenge my belief.  These are the moments when I yield to the temptation of doubt and ask my God, “Why me or why this, Lord?” Alas, to believe this doctrine is one thing and to live it out when all chips are down is another. It really requires God’s grace.

There have been times when I have asked myself: “Is God really in control?”

These are the times when life has poured its bitter juice in my cup. Times that I have been on the receiving end of unjust and unfair treatment. Yes, times when I have suffered for doing nothing wrong.  In such moments, I have turned to God in tears. I have cried and wept asking for his intervention but silence has been the response and I have ended feeling like a helpless toddler crying for help in the middle of no where.

This helplessness mixed with anger has produced questions like: where are you God? Like David, I have wondered and cried:

“How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever?

How long will you hide your face from me?

How long must I take counsel in my soul

And have sorrow in my heart all the day?

How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

Consider and answer me, O LORD my God

Light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death” (Psalm 13:1-4).

In the midst of my cry, passages of Scripture which assures me of God’s sovereignty have come floating in my mind; and moments in which I have faithfully and passionately taught and preached God’s sovereignty have slowly played at the back of my mind. It’s really self-defeating! I have then asked myself: Is God in control. Yes! Has he forsaken me? No! Then why do I believe the opposite? I don’t know…but hard times really have a way of obscuring God’s truth from us.

Now when this truth of God’s sovereignty re-establishes itself in my life, I often tell myself, “Well, Lord, do as you please. I resign myself to your will.”

However, as the hard times rage on, I have repeatedly found myself back to square one questioning whether God is really in control. Whatever I resigned to God’s will, I quickly grab it back into my own hands and, sadly, this cycle goes on and on:  believing God’s sovereignty, questioning God’s sovereignty and back to believing God’s sovereignty again.

God is sovereign. Do I believe it? Yes! Do I live it? Not all the time. There are other times when I act and behave as if some things are beyond God’s control hence I have to take matters in my own hands. I am sorry Lord! But this is really me. I wish I could always live out the truth hence I pray that God will grant me the grace to always say:

“Though the fig tree should not blossom

Nor fruit be on the vines,

The produce of the olive fail

And the fields yield no food

The flock be cut off from the fold

And there be no herd in the stalls

Yet I will rejoice in the LORD

I will take joy in the God of my salvation.

GOD, the Lord, is my strength

He makes my feet like the deer’s

He makes me tread on my high place” (Habakkuk 3:17-19).

By His grace, I am learning to trust the LORD more. I am not there yet, but hopefully and prayerfully one day before I leave this life to be with Jesus in glory I will be able to both believe and live out the truth of God’s Sovereignty no matter the circumstances.

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My Life as a Christian

Reflections on my 2013 Birthday

Today, I celebrate a gift of over three decades in this world from our Father whom all blessings flow. As the day is progressing I have taken some time to reflect on my journey of thirty plus one years. One thing that has lingered in my mind is the truth that God can do all things and no single plan of his can be thwarted (Job 42:2).

Over the years, especially, the time that I have been a Christian, I have fully understood that God’s plan for my life cannot be frustrated by anything or anybody. Where I am today and what I am doing today is exactly what God planned before the foundations of the earth were laid.

This is a source of my comfort, especially in hard times,  hence I can’t  agree more with what Martin Luther once said, “… the greatest and only consolation of Christians in their adversities, is the knowing that God lies not, but does all things immutably, and that His will cannot be resisted, changed, or hindered.”

But life is not only about hard times, there are also good times. In those good moments too, it is also of great consolation to know that God is still in control. Another instance this morning has even confirmed this great lesson even more.

Last year in November, I was offered a place and tuition scholarship to study at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary (PRTS).  Like any other person who would find themselves in my shoes, I was very excited. Then the process of planning to go and study begun which eventually led to visa application then to visa interviews. Now, the thought of  ‘visa interviews’ sent a cold chill down my spine, particularly, as I faced the possibility that my application could be turned down and my cherished dream to study at PRTS would be shattered.

The process of visa interviews began today at 8 O’clock in the morning. My wife and I passed through all the necessary stages then came the last stage of actual interviews. Our names were called on a speaker within the waiting room and we went into the ‘interview room’ our hearts in our mouths with the fear of being denied the visa.

To our amazement, the interviewer just asked very few lighter questions like why did I chose PRTS of many seminaries in USA. She also asked my wife and I regarding our previous visits to US respectively. Then she found out when we got married and confirmed if we met at African Bible College where both of us were students. Then, that’s it! Visa granted. “Come tomorrow afternoon to collect your visa…good luck,” she ended the interviews.

We could feel our hearts settling down as joy and amazement took over anxiety and fear.  Just like that? Yes, just like that. Then we recalled that “God can do all things and his plans cannot be thwarted.” It was God’s will and plan that we get the visa today which also happens to be my birthday and nothing or anybody could stop that.

Friends, may this great truth also comfort you both in joy or pain. Never ever forget to remember that God will always accomplish his will. William Cowper was right when he composed that famous hymn, God moves in a mysterious way, and said:

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.

 Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flow’r.

Oh, what an amazing God!

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My Life as a Christian

Our Defense Lies in Prayer

“We know that our defense lies in prayer alone. We are too weak to resist the devil and his vassals. Let us hold fast to the weapons of the Christian; they enable us to combat the devil. For what has carried off these great victories over the undertakings of our enemies which the devil has used to put us in subjection, if not the prayers of certain pious people who rose up as a rampart to protect us?

Our enemies may mock at us. But we shall oppose both men and the devil if we maintain ourselves in prayer and if we persist in it. For we know that when a Christian prays in this way: “Dear Father, Your will be done,” God replies to him, ‘Dear child, yes, it shall be done in spite of the devil and the whole world.’ “- Martin Luther

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