Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Today, Jerrica and I did our LAST minute shopping for Kaleb! 23 days left until he is due, but personally, I don't think she will make it that long! She is doing great, and things are progressing nicely. I ask Jerrica if it would be alright to blog Kaleb's life, and she has given me her blessing. For any of you that don't know, this is Jerrica's fourth child, she is twenty four years old, and her other children are 5, 3, and 1 right now. I met Jerrica when she was four months pregnant and everyone was telling her to abort her child. The Lord had me intercede in her life, and I have never left. We are close to one another, and I am going to take Kaleb when he is a month old, and keep him full time until she can get on her feet. She is doing wonderful, and is getting an apartment in a couple of weeks to establish a home for her family. She may even have a job lined up to start after the baby is born! Because of her prior drug use, Jerrica's grandmother has temporary custody of the children for right now. She has been working hard these past few months, attending mandatory classes and following the rules of DSS to get her children back. I can truly attest to that. She has NO desire to ever do drugs again, and has reestablished a wonderful relationship with her children, who tell her they love her quite a bit! How wonderful that is! I believe the Lord has great plans for her, and my desire is to see her succeed, giving all Glory to God! She will already tell you how much He has helped and changed her!
I feel so honored to be a part of this. There are a lot of things I have tried to do since being saved eight years ago to "help" the Lord, but I can honestly say, this was not me. This is all God. This was a terrible area for me, and something I would have never done six months ago. See, I had three abortions when I was younger, and they really did mess me up, very badly. The worse part was not being able to bond with my children. Abortion doesn't just kill a baby...it destroys the mother, and has effects on all of her relationships. Doesn't matter what the pro choice people say. I was pro choice also, and locked down my abortions, saying it was no big deal. They STILL messed up my life. However, I didn't put two and two together until this past January when the Lord opened the door to the truth. Twenty four years I lived in my own private hell wondering what was wrong with me. Why I was the worse mother in the world, why I couldn't feel like most mothers. It was amazing when I started talking to other women who had felt the same way. I can't begin to tell you the work God did on my heart to heal it, and then to set me free. It was through bible studies, going to the abortion clinics to pray, and helping other women, that God healed me. He is good. He is so good I am now taking on a newborn baby!! Can you imagine?? A heart that couldn't love a child very deeply can now take on another woman's baby and love him unconditionally? My friends, that is God! He is awesome! So anyway, now my heart just loves Jerrica, and wants her to do absolutely wonderful, and she is! Because the Lord is going to help her...and us together!! 40 Days for Life will be starting September 23 and I encourage everyone to go out and pray if possible! I also encourage everyone to get involved with someone's life that needs Jesus and some love, there are so many hurting people out there! We need to share the gospel with everyone! Which, by the way....Today, as Jerrica and I were leaving Bojangles, an older Middle Eastern man, smoking a cigar by his car, ask me if we would like to "spend the afternoon with him". I politely said "no", and then something compelled me to turn around and go share the gospel with him. I explained what Jesus did on the cross for us, and how what he was looking for would never fulfill him. Only Jesus would. There was such a sweet spirit present. I guess he never expected someone to respond to his proposition with the gospel! Praise the Lord! God is so Good! He is very, very good!
I also want to thank everyone that has sent gift cards to help out with diapers and formula! It is so greatly appreciated! What a blessing!
taken from Jill Stanek
Am listening to the liberal religious teleconference pushing Obamacare. Obama is supposed to speak at some point. (You can listen in, too, at 347-996-5501, no passcode required.)
40 Days for Health Reform launches today. (40 Days for Life runs September 23 - November 1.)
Comment by David Bereit, executive director of 40 Days for Life:
Some say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but using the biblical 40-days concept in an attempt to salvage floundering health care reform proposals that would mandate taxpayer funding of abortion and force Americans into health plans with mandatory abortion coverage - we are anything but flattered.
I am confident that the prayers of millions of people, imploring God to inspire people to turn away from abortion, will be a much more powerful force in shaping the future.
Gag. The White House's Director of the Domestic Policy Council, Melody Barnes, formerly of Planned Parenthood and EMILY's List, is currently on the call.
This is amazing! Big difference however! We are trying to save the babies, and he is trying to kill them in the Health Care package! Pam
Saturday, August 15, 2009
by Jeremy D. Lantz
Used with permission
"Only eternity will reveal how many fires of evangelistic zeal have been lit by the perusal of the account of [David Brainerd's] short but powerful ministry."1
David Brainerd (1718-1747), a missionary to the American Indians, has become one of the most influential missionaries of all time. His personal ministry lasted only three years, but his journal and diary, edited and published by Jonathan Edwards, have inspired countless missionaries over the years to reach thousands, or even millions, of souls across the globe. His life was not an easy one; in fact, he suffered hardships of many kinds. It was for enduring these difficulties in order to further the gospel of Christ that he has gained such respect and had such a far-reaching effect. He life is worthy of study for anyone who desires to have a impact with their life on the growth of the Kingdom of God.
David was born on Sunday, April 20, 1718, in Haddam, Connecticut, to Hezekiah and Dorothy Brainerd. He came from a very notable family. His grandfather, Daniel Brainerd, had come to Connecticut at the age of eight from Essex, England, for reasons yet unknown. Daniel eventually became very influential as "the greatest landowner, a commissioner for the General Court, a justice of the peace, and a deacon in the church."2 Daniel's son, Hezekiah, followed him in public leadership as a representative in the General Assembly, Speaker of the House, and a member of the Governor's Council. In reward for his service Hezekiah was given three hundred acres of land. David's mother, Dorothy, had been the widow of Daniel Mason and came from a family heritage of ministers. She brought a son, Jeremiah Mason, into the family when she married Hezekiah in 1707, and she eventually bore nine more children, of which David was the sixth.
In addition to being influential in the community, David's family was very devout. Hezekiah has been called a man "of great personal dignity and self-restraint, of rigid notions of parental prerogative and authority, of the strictest puritanical views as to religious ordinances, of unbending integrity as a man and a public officer, and of extreme scrupulousness in his Christian life."3 Under his father's instruction, David practically grew up in the Congregational church. As young as age seven he was expressing concern for his soul. This Christian foundation probably helped him even then to endure the first major struggles of his life.
David's teenage years were, in fact, quite a struggle for him. When he was only nine, his father died. Only five years later, his mother also died. After this, he lived for four years in East Haddam with his older sister, Jerusha, her husband, Samuel Spencer, and her three children. During this time he was often depressed and lonely. He himself described this saying that from his youth he was "somewhat sober, and inclined rather to melancholy."4 Throughout his life he would be struggling against his tendency toward depression. Jonathan Edwards said that he was "by his constitution and natural temper, so prone to melancholy and dejection of spirit."5 He was soon to face even more difficult battles.
In April of 1733, after he turned nineteen, Brainerd moved to a farm in Durham, 10 miles West of Haddam, that he had inherited from his father. There, he developed a desire to obtain an education, and he became very concerned about his religion. In 1738, he moved in with Phineas Fiske, the pastor of the church at Haddam, to pursue his religious interests. After Fiske's death, he continued his pursuit with his brother, and he soon felt great distress for his soul, realizing that he was selfishly trusting in his works for salvation. Though he had not yet had a conversion experience, he made a commitment at age 20 to enter into ministry and began plans to attend Yale College. On Sunday, July 22, 1739, at age 21, he finally had a conversion experience:
I was walking again in the same solitary place, where I was brought to see myself lost and helpless... I had been thus endeavoring to pray... then, as I was walking in a dark thick grove, unspeakable glory seemed to open to the view and apprehension of my soul. I do not mean any external brightness, for I saw no such thing... Thus God, I trust, brought me to a hearty disposition to exalt Him and set Him on the throne... At this time, the way of salvation opened to me with such infinite wisdom, suitableness, and excellency, that I wondered I should ever think of any other way of salvation; was amazed that I had not dropped my own contrivances, and complied with this lovely, blessed, and excellent way before.6
Shortly after this time, in September 1739, he enrolled at Yale.
David Brainerd's sufferings were to increase during his college years. He was older than most of the students, but, as a freshman, he was still subject to hazing from the upperclassmen. He also battled against constant sickness. During his first year, he was sent home for several weeks with the measles. During his second year, he began spitting up blood and was again sent home. This was most likely an early sign of the tuberculosis that would eventually be the cause of his death.
When he returned the second time, he found that the Great Awakening and a visit from George Whitefield had drastically changed the college. Brainerd gladly joined the student body in becoming a New Light, while the administration remained staunchly Old Light. Insults and disrespect grew between the two groups. On September 9, 1741, Jonathan Edwards gave the commencement address at Yale titled "The Distinguishing Marks of a Work of the Spirit of God." To the disappointment of the administration, Edwards supported the students. This was probably the first meeting between Brainerd and the honorable Mr. Edwards.
The same day as Edwards’ address, the college trustees issued a statement saying: "If any student of this College shall directly or indirectly say, that the Rector, either of the Trustees or Tutors are hypocrites, carnal or unconverted men, he shall for the first offence make a public confession in the hall, and for the second offence be expelled."7 That winter, a freshman overheard Brainerd say in a private conversation that the tutor Chauncey Whittlesey had "no more grace than a chair." He was also reported as saying that he was surprised the Rector Thomas Clap "did not drop down dead"8 for fining students who became followers of Gilbert Tennent. Brainerd denied the latter, but refused to offer a public apology for the former, though he confessed his guilt. As a result, he was expelled from the college, though he stood at the top of his class academically.
Having been denied a Yale degree, Brainerd reevaluated the direction of his life. He moved several times, living with and being trained by Pastor Jedediah Mills, Pastor Joseph Bellamy, and the preacher Jonathan Dickinson. He spent much of his time studying and praying, seeking God for direction for his life. On July 29, 1742, he received a license to preach from the New Lights in the Association of Ministers of the East District of Fairfield County, Connecticut. With his license, he began preaching occasionally, but he still did not have a place or ministry to call his own. This transition period, however, was soon to end.
In 1741, John Sergeant, a missionary to the Indians, had visited the Forks of the Delaware River in Pennsylvania and seen their great need. He asked Scottish Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge (SSPCK) to appoint a missionary to them. On November 8, 1742, Brainerd received a letter from Ebenezer Pemberton of New York asking him to consider this ministry to the Indians, and on November 25 he accepted the commission and began what would become his life's legacy. He would now forever be known as a missionary to the American Indians.
Brainerd spent the next six months preparing for his ministry. He traveled some, visiting friends and family and viewing the mission field he would soon enter. Then, he served as a pastor for six weeks that winter in a Congregational church in East Hampton, Long Island. While there, he gained some missionary experience by preaching to the nearby Indians, who were under the care of Azariah Horton, another missionary commissioned by the SSPCK. In doing so, Brainerd became overwhelmed with the destitute position of the Indians and felt "something of flatness and deadness"9 in his spirit. His heart went out to the Indians, and he developed a greater love for them. Meanwhile, he became more aware of his inadequacies, feeling extremely vile and incompetent for the job at hand.
At the end of the winter, Brainerd was ready to travel to Pennsylvania, but the SSPCG deemed the area too dangerous. Consequently, on April 1, 1743, he instead traveled to Stockbridge, Massachusetts, and began his ministry to the Mohegan Indians at Kaunaumeek. Through the spring months, he lived with a Scottish man and slept on a bed of straw. He traveled a mile and a half each day to be able to preach to the Indians, and he struggled daily with depression, loneliness, and physical discomfort. His diary entry on May 18, 1743 remarks:
My circumstances are such, that I have no comfort on any kind but what I have in God. I live in the most lonesome wilderness; have but one single person to converse with, that can speak English. Most of the talk I hear is either Highland Scotch or Indian. I have no fellow Christian to whom I might unbosom myself or lay open my conversation about heavenly things and join in social prayer. I live poorly with regard to the comforts of life. Most of my diet consists of boiled corn, hasty-pudding, etc. I lodge on a bundle of straw, my labor is hard and extremely difficult, and I have little appearance of success, to comfort me.10
Brainerd lived alone in a wigwam through most of the summer and finally, on July 30, 1743, he moved into a hut he had built for himself.
Brainerd's year in Kaunaumeek was very eventful. In June 1743, he visited the SSPCK in New Jersey before setting up his first school for the Indians. He appointed his current interpreter, John Wauwaumpequunnaunt, as the headmaster, and found some encouragement through this new work; it was much easier to teach the Indians Christian truths after they had learned some English. Still, although they listened to him, Brainerd never thought the Indians really understood or accepted his message.
In September he visited New Haven to attend commencement at Yale, but he became very sick while he was there, again with symptoms of tuberculosis. Fortunately, friends in New Haven were able to treat him back to health. After returning to Kaunaumeek, he gave more attention to learning the Indian's language under the teaching of John Sergeant at Stockbridge; this also helped him to communicate his message more effectively. In March 1744, Brainerd was given a chance to leave the wilderness and become the pastor of the church in East Hampton, Long Island. By this time, however, his devotion as a minister to the Indians far outweighed his desire for a comfortable position, and he chose to stay. On May 1, 1744, however, he received orders from the SSPCK to move to his original commission with the Indians in Pennsylvania. Thus, the Mohegan Indian's were left to be cared for by John Sergeant, and Brainerd moved to the Forks of Delaware. Before delving deep into his work there, however, the SSPCK ordained him as a Presbyterian minister on June 12, 1744.
Upon his arrival in Delaware, Brainerd was discouraged at the state of the Indians. They had been scattered into the wilderness by land hungry whites and, though they seemed open to Christianity, they were very leery of listening to any white people. Nevertheless, he began preaching in turn to both the Indians and a nearby settlement of Irish. He lived with white people, where he had some English fellowship, and would travel each day to teach the Indians. As the word spread of this new teaching, the congregation of Indians soon grew from about twenty-five to over forty. Brainerd was somewhat encouraged by their response, as many "began to renounce their idolatry and refused to take part in the feasts during which sacrifices were offered to mysterious deities. Many became concerned about the state of their souls."11 Still, although they rejected some of their old ways, they did not put their hope in God as a savior. Brainerd was very discouraged by this and did not think that his efforts in the Forks of Delaware were any success. In an attempt to find more success and reach more Indians, he took two trips to the Susquehanna River. Although Indians there had some interest in the gospel he was preaching, Brainerd still found little tangible success in his work. In addition, he became very ill during his second journey to the Susquehannah.
During this time, Brainerd became increasingly reliant upon God's working on the Indians before he would have any success. He described this in his June 27, 1744, diary entry: "My soul seemed to rely wholly upon God for success, in the diligent and faithful use of means. Saw, with greatest certainty, that the arm of the Lord must be revealed for the help of these poor heathen, if ever they were delivered from the bondage of the powers of darkness."12 His desire to see the Indians saved grew deeper than it had ever been. On July 23 of the same summer he wrote: "Had sweet resignation for the divine will and desired nothing so much as the conversion of the heathen to God, and that His kingdom might come in my own heart and the hearts of others."13 Brainerd's Calvinistic belief in God's sovereignty was strengthened, and his dependence on God grew.
On June 19, 1745, Brainerd left the Forks of Delaware and went to Crossweeksung, New Jersey, where he would find the great success he had been searching for. As in Pennsylvania, he found on his arrival that the Indians were scattered throughout the land. Unlike before, however, they offered no objections to his preaching and began to quickly gather others to hear the message. As the Indians became increasingly interested, he began meeting with them individually to discuss the things he had been teaching.
At the end of July, during a return visit to the Forks of Delaware, a major breakthrough occurred in Brainerd's ministry: his interpreter, Moses Tautomy, and his wife were saved, coming into an "experimental" knowledge of Christianity and being baptized. This helped tremendously because Tautomy was then able to understand Christian doctrine and communicate it more clearly. In addition, other Indians were more likely to take the message seriously because of their respect for Tautomy as a landowner and leader.
When Brainerd returned to Crossweeksung in August, the Indians were eagerly awaiting him. On August 6 he described his first convert. It was a woman "who obtained comfort, I trust, solid and well grounded. She seemed to be filled with love to Christ, at the same time behaved humbly and tenderly, and appeared afraid of nothing so much as of grieving and offending Him whom her soul loved."14 That month, only six weeks after his first visit to Crossweeksung, Brainerd witnessed a spiritual awakening among the Indians. He was greatly encouraged as many came to a saving knowledge of Christ and many more traveled great distances to hear his message. He attributed this response fully to God's sovereign work in their lives:
I never saw the work of God appear so independent of means as at this time. I discoursed to the people, and spoke what, I suppose, had a proper tendency to promote convictions. But God's manner of working upon them appeared so entirely supernatural and above means that I could scarce believe He used me as an instrument, or what I spake as means of carrying on His work... God appeared to work entirely alone, and I saw no room to attribute any of this work to any created arm.15
Brainerd took this opportunity to begin discipling a new community of believers. He began baptizing those who showed evidence of their salvation, and throughout the fall he met with Indians individually to give them more teaching. On December 21, 1745, he began giving catechetical lectures to those who were ready for even deeper discipleship. On January 31, 1746, a schoolmaster arrived and began teaching children during the day and adults in the evenings. In April Brainerd began administering communion, and he taught them to pray and fast in preparation for it. That spring he took a huge step in his ministry by moving the Indians from Crossweeksung to Cranberry, New Jersey, so they could live close to one another in a permanent community and be taught easily. Less than a year after his arrival Brainerd had a congregation of over 130 Christian Indians who looked to him for guidance in both sacred and secular matters. This was the success he had been searching for:
I know of no assembly of Christians where there seems to be so much of the presence of God, where brotherly love so much prevails, and where I should so much delight in the public worship of God, in general, as in my own congregation; although not more than nine months ago, they were worshiping devils and dumb idols under the power of pagan darkness and superstition. Amazing change this! Effected by nothing less than divine power and grace!16
In the fall of 1746 Brainerd's illness began to overcome him. His diary is full of complaints about how weak he was and how hard it was to continue his ministry in his physical condition. Consequently, he left the Indians in November and traveled to New England, where he was cared for by friends. In March 1947, he returned for what would be his last visit to the Indians before his death. By this time he was very depressed by his sickness and even looked forward to death. On May 19, 1747, Brainerd moved into Jonathan Edwards' home in New Hampton, where he would spend the last nineteen weeks of his life under the care of Edwards' daughter, Jerusha. Finally, what he referred to in his diary as "that glorious day"17 came; he died of tuberculosis on October 9, 1747, at the age of 29.
It seems certain that before his death romantic interest grew between Brainerd and Jerusha. Her close attention to him, however, was costly; she died four months later, also from tuberculosis. Despite the immediate loss of his daughter, Jonathan Edwards considered it a "gracious dispensation of Providence" that Brainerd was at his home during his last days. Brainerd's life and diary had been an inspiration to the Edwards family, and in response Jonathan edited and published The Life and Diary of David Brainerd. In time, this became his most published and most read work. For over two centuries now, it has served as an inspiration to ministers and missionaries throughout the world.
Certainly Brainerd's work was extraordinary, but the question still remains: why have the records of his short ministry had such a profound and lasting impact? To answer this, several characteristics of Brainerd's ministry must be considered.
First, David Brainerd gave up his life in complete devotion to the Lord’s work. We can see a picture of this in some of his final words:
It is impossible for any rational creature to be happy without acting all for God. God Himself could not make him happy any other way... There is nothing in the world worth living for but doing good and finishing God's work, doing the work that Christ did. I see nothing else in the world that can yield any satisfaction besides living to God, pleasing Him, and doing his whole will.18
Although he was originally concerned about material comforts, Brainerd came to believe that nothing mattered except serving God. He also sought God regularly through prayer and fasting. He records days of prayer and fasting more than anything else in his diary. In fact, it was so important to him that he taught the Indians to pray and fast before he would administer communion to them. Clearly, Brainerd had a heart that was intent on seeking God and doing His will to the best of his ability.
Second, it is worthy to note that Brainerd built for the long term. Part of his mission strategy was to build schools and bring the Indians together into a close, permanent community that could be easily taught and cared for. In doing so he became not only their religious leader, or pastor, but also their secular leader. He helped the Indians to restructure their entire lives around a Christian worldview. Integral to this vision of discipleship was the time that he spent discoursing with individuals and catechizing with small groups. He was able then to have direct, personal influence in the Indians' lives. Brainerd worked to establish the Kingdom of God among the Indians in a way that would long outlive his ministry to them.
Third, he faced immense physical suffering. His sickness hounded him throughout his life. Whether he was taking breaks from school or was detained during his travels, reoccurring symptoms of tuberculosis often kept him from working at the tasks at hand. Eventually, of course, it took him completely out of his ministry and soon took his life as well. In addition to sickness, he dealt with many other physical discomforts, such as sleeping on straw, living in a wigwam, and riding full days through the rain. After growing up in an important, wealthy family, this must have been very difficult for him. Nevertheless, Brainerd forsook material pleasures for the satisfaction of doing the Lord's work.
Fourth, he often struggled with depression and loneliness. His diary is full of entries about his discouragement. Sometimes he was disappointed about the way his ministry was going, and other times he was distraught over the blackness of his soul. At least twenty-two times he longed for death as a way of escape from his depression19, and, though he had made good friends among the Indians, he longed for a soul mate, something he never found, though he might have found it in Jerusha Edwards had they survived longer.
Finally, Brainerd's ministry was deemed a success. Had his ministry ended after only his first two years of mission work, he may not have had such a great impact, because it was not until his third year that his ministry showed much fruit. It is the victories that are exalted and inspire mankind, not the failures. Thus, the far-reaching effect Brainerd has had is in large part due to his work being visibly successful in the end.
The impact of The Life and Diary of David Brainerd has come as ministers have identified themselves with Brainerd's life. It has motivated them to faithfully pursue God and His ministry through all of their physical and emotional sufferings. It has shown the great reward of serving God with complete abandonment. As John Piper wrote, "Brainerd's life is a vivid, powerful testimony to the truth that God can and does use sick, discouraged, beat-down, lonely, struggling saints, who cry to him day and night, to accomplish amazing things for his glory."20 The testimony of Brainerd's life gives hope to ministers desiring to faithfully continue Christ's work.
This, then, is the story of David Brainerd. As a man, he was unable to do the tasks set before him. As a missionary, God carried him through all his struggles in order bring the gospel to the American Indians in a personal way. Brainerd's perseverance and success has inspired many other missionaries since then to continue their work as well. Thus, his three years of faithful service to the American Indians has impacted the entire world for centuries. Knowing this, Brainerd might have said: to God be the glory, for great things He has done.
"May the Lord of the harvest send forth other laborers into this part of His harvest, that those who sit in darkness may see great light, and that the whole earth may be filled with the knowledge of Himself! Amen."21
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What makes a man or woman give up everything for God? To see people won to Christ, and to live solely for Him? Do we do that here in the United States? Are we truly concerned more about the kingdom of God than anything else? Do we lay down our lives to help others? Pam
Sunday, August 9, 2009
George Mueller's Strategy for Showing GodSimplicity of Faith, Sacred Scripture, and Satisfaction in God
George Mueller was a native German (a Prussian). He was born in Kroppenstaedt on September 27, 1805 and lived almost the entire nineteenth century. He died March 10, 1898 at the age of 92. He saw the great awakening of 1859 which he said “led to the conversion of hundreds of thousands.”1 He did follow up work for D. L. Moody,2 preached for Charles Spurgeon,3 and inspired the missionary faith of Hudson Taylor.4
He spent most of his life in Bristol, England and pastored the same church there for over sixty-six years—a kind of independent, premillennial,5 Calvinistic6 Baptist7 church that celebrated the Lord's supper weekly8 and admitted non-baptized people into membership.9 If this sounds unconventional, that would be accurate. He was a maverick not only in his church life but in almost all the areas of his life. But his eccentricities were almost all large-hearted and directed outward for the good of others. A. T. Pierson, who wrote the biography that Mueller's son-in-law endorsed as authoritative,10 captured the focus of this big-hearted eccentricity when he said, George Mueller “devised large and liberal things for the Lord's cause.”11
In 1834 (when he was 28) he founded The Scripture Knowledge Institute for Home and Abroad,12 because he was disillusioned with the post-millennialism, the liberalism, and the worldly strategies (like going into debt13) of existing mission organizations.14 Five branches of this Institute developed: 1) Schools for children and adults to teach Bible knowledge, 2) Bible distribution, 3) missionary support, 4) tract and book distribution, and 5) “to board, clothe and Scripturally educate destitute children who have lost both parents by death.”15
The accomplishments of all five branches were significant,16 but the one he was known for around the world in his own lifetime, and still today, was the orphan ministry. He built five large orphan houses and cared for 10,024 orphans in his life. When he started in 1834 there were accommodations for 3,600 orphans in all of England and twice that many children under eight were in prison.17 One of the great effects of Mueller's ministry was to inspire others so that “fifty years after Mr. Mueller began his work, at least one hundred thousand orphans were cared for in England alone.”18
He did all this while he was preaching three times a week from 1830 to 1898, at least 10,000 times.19 And when he turned 70 he fulfilled a life-long dream of missionary work for the next 17 years until he was 87. He traveled to 42 countries,20 preaching on average of once a day,21 and addressing some three million people.22 He preached nine times here in Minneapolis in 1880 (nine years after the founding of Bethlehem Baptist Church).
From the end of his travels in 1892 (when he was 87) until his death in March of 1898 he preached in his church and worked for the Scripture Knowledge Institute. At age 92, not long before he died, he wrote, “I have been able, every day and all the day to work, and that with ease, as seventy years since.”23 He led a prayer meeting at his church on the evening of Wednesday, March 9, 1898. The next day a cup of tea was taken to him at seven in the morning but no answer came to the knock on the door. He was found dead on the floor beside his bed. 24
The funeral was held the following Monday in Bristol, where he had served for sixty-six years. “Tens of thousands of people reverently stood along the route of the simple procession; men left their workshops and offices, women left their elegant homes or humble kitchens, all seeking to pay a last token of respect.”25 A thousand children gathered for a service at the Orphan House No. 3. They had now “for a second time lost a ‘father'.”26
He had read his Bible from end to end almost 200 times.27 He had prayed in millions of dollars (in today's currency28) for the Orphans and never asked anyone directly for money. He never took a salary in the last 68 years of his ministry, but trusted God to put in people's hearts to send him what he needed. He never took out a loan or went into debt.29 And neither he nor the orphans were ever hungry. The eccentric pastor and orphan-lover was gone.
He had been married twice: to Mary Groves when he was 25, and to Susannah Sangar when he was 66. Mary bore him four children. Two were stillborn. One son Elijah died when he was a year old. His daughter Lydia married James Wright who succeeded Mueller as the head of the Institute. But she died in 1890 at 57 years old. Five years later Mueller lost his second wife, just three years before he died. And so he outlived his family and was left alone with his Savior, his church, and two thousand children. He had been married to Mary for 39 years and to Susannah for 23 years. He preached Mary's funeral sermon when he was 64,30 and he preached Susannah's funeral sermon when he was 90.31 It's what he said in the face of this loss and pain that gives us the key to his life.
Mary's Death and the Key to His Life
We have the full text of the message at Mary's funeral and we have his own recollections of this loss. To feel the force of what he says, we have to know that they loved each other deeply and enjoyed each other in the work they shared.
Were we happy? Verily we were. With every year our happiness increased more and more. I never saw my beloved wife at any time, when I met her unexpectedly anywhere in Bristol, without being delighted so to do. I never met her even in the Orphan Houses, without my heart being delighted so to do. Day by day, as we met in our dressing room, at the Orphan Houses, to wash our hands before dinner and tea, I was delighted to meet her, and she was equally pleased to seeme. Thousands of times I told her—“My darling, I never saw you at any time, since you became my wife, without my being delighted to see you.”32
Then came the diagnosis: “When I heard what Mr. Pritchard's judgment was, viz., that the malady was rheumatic fever, I naturally expected the worst. . . . My heart was nigh to be broken on account of the depth of my affection.”33 The one who had seen God answer 10,000 prayers for the support of the orphan, this time did not get what he asked. Or did he?
Twenty minutes after four, Lord's Day, February 6, 1870, Mary died. “I fell on my knees and thanked God for her release, and for having taken her to Himself, and asked the Lord to help and support us.”34 He recalled later how he strengthened himself during these hours. And here we see the key to his life.
The last portion of scripture which I read to my precious wife was this: “The Lord God is a sun and shield, the Lord will give grace and glory, no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.” Now, if we have believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, we have received grace, we are partakers of grace, and to all such he will give glory also. I said to myself, with regard to the latter part, “no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly”—I am in myself a poor worthless sinner, but I have been saved by the blood of Christ; and I do not live in sin, I walk uprightly before God. Therefore, if it is really good for me, my darling wife will be raised up again; sick as she is. God will restore her again. But if she is not restored again, then it would not be a good thing for me. And so my heart was at rest. I was satisfied with God. And all this springs, as I have often said before, from taking God at his word, believing what he says.35
Here is the cluster of unshakable convictions and experiences that are the key to this remarkable life. “I am in myself a poor worthless sinner.”I have been saved by the blood of Christ.” “I do not live in sin.”God is sovereign over life and death. If it is good for her and for me, she will be restored again. If not she won't.”My heart is at rest.”I am satisfied with God.” All this comes from taking God at his word. There you see the innermost being of George Mueller and the key to his life. The word of God, revealing his sin, revealing his Savior, revealing God's sovereignty, revealing God's goodness, revealing God's promise, awakening his faith, satisfying his soul. “I was satisfied with God.”
The Gift of Faith vs. the Grace of Faith
So were his prayers for Mary answered? To understand how Mueller himself would answer this question, we have to see the way he distinguished between the extraordinary gift of faith and the more ordinary grace of faith. He constantly insisted that he did not have the gift of faith when people put him on a pedestal just because he would pray for his own needs and the needs of the orphans, and the money would arrive in remarkable ways.
Think not, dear reader, that Ihave the gift of faith, that is, that gift of which we read in 1 Corinthians 12:9, and which is mentioned along with “the gifts of healing,” “the working of miracles,”prophecy,” and that on that account I am able to trust in the Lord. It is true that the faith, which I am enabled to exercise, is altogether God's own gift; it is true that He alone supports it, and that He alone can increase it; it is true that, moment by moment, I depend upon Him for it, and that, if I were only one moment left to myself, my faith would utterly fail; but it is not true that my faith is that gift of faith which is spoken of in 1 Corinthians 12:9.36
The reason he is so adamant about this is that his whole life—especially in the way he supported the orphans by faith and prayer without asking anyone but God for money—was consciously planned to encourage Christians that God could really be trusted to meet their needs. We will never understand George Mueller's passion for the orphan ministry if we don't see that the good of the orphans was second to this.
The three chief reasons for establishing an Orphan-House are: 1. That God may be glorified, should He be pleased to furnish me with the means, in its being seen that it is not a vain thing to trust in Him; and that thus the faith of His children may be strengthened. 2. The spiritual welfare of fatherless and motherless children. 3. Their temporal welfare.37
And make no mistake about it: the order of those three goals is intentional. He makes that explicit over and over in his Narrative. The orphan houses exist to display that God can be trusted and to encourage believers to take him at his word. This was a deep sense of calling with Mueller. He said that God had given him the mercy in “being able to take God by His word and to rely upon it.”38 He was grieved that “so many believers . . . were harassed and distressed in mind, or brought guilt on their consciences, on account of not trusting in the Lord.” This grace that he had to trust God's promises, and this grief that so many believers didn't trust his promises, shaped Mueller's entire life. This was his supreme passion: to display with open proofs that God could be trusted with the practical affairs of life. This was the higher aim of building the orphan houses and supporting them by asking God, not people, for money.
It seemed to me best done, by the establishing of an Orphan-House. It needed to be something which could be seen, even by the natural eye. Now, if I, a poor man, simply by prayer and faith, obtained, without asking any individual, the means for establishing and carrying on an Orphan-House: there would be something which, with the Lord's blessing, might be instrumental in strengthening the faith of the children of God besides being a testimony to the consciences of the unconverted, of the reality of the things of God. This, then, was the primary reason, for establishing the Orphan-House. . . The first and primary object of the work was, (and still is) that God might be magnified by the fact, that the orphans under my care are provided, with all they need, only by prayer and faith, without any one being asked by me or my fellow-laborers, whereby it may be seen, that God is FAITHFUL STILL, and HEARS PRAYER STILL.39
That was the chief passion and unifying aim of Mueller's ministry: live a life and lead a ministry in a way that proves God is real, God is trustworthy, God answers prayer. He built orphanages the way he did to help Christians trust God. He says it over and over again.40
Now we see why he is so adamant that his faith is not the gift of faith in 1 Corinthians 12:9 that only some people have, but was the grace of faith that all Christians should have.41 Now we are ready to see this crucial distinction he made between the gift of faith and the grace of faith. His entire aim in life hung on this. If Christians simply said: “Mueller is in a class by himself. He has the gift of faith,” then we are all off the hook and he is no longer a prod and proof and inspiration for how we ought to live. Here is what he says
The difference between the gift and the grace of faith seems to me this. According to the gift of faith I am able to do a thing, or believe that a thing will come to pass, the not doing of which, or the not believing of which would not be sin; according to the grace of faith I am able to do a thing, or believe that a thing will come to pass, respecting which I have the word of God as the ground to rest upon, and, therefore, the not doing it, or the not believing it would be sin. For instance, the gift of faith would be needed, to believe that a sick person should be restored again though there is no human probability: for there is no promise to that effect; the grace of faith is needed to believe that the Lord will give me the necessaries of life, if I first seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness: for there is a promise to that effect. Matthew 6:33.42
Mueller did not think he had any biblical ground for being certain that God would spare his wife Mary. He admits that a few times in his life he was given “something like the gift (not grace) of faith so that unconditionally I could ask and look for an answer,”43 but he did not have that rare gift in Mary's case. And so he prayed for her healing conditionally—namely, if it would be good for them and for God's glory. But most deeply he prayed that they would be satisfied in God whatever he did. And God did answer that prayer by helping Mueller believe Psalm 84:11. No good thing will God withhold. God withheld no good thing from him, and he was satisfied with God's sovereign will. All this, he says, “springs from taking God at his word, believing what he says.”
How Did Mueller Get to this Position?
Let's go back and let him tell the story—essential parts of which are omitted from all the biographies I have looked at.
His father was an unbeliever and George grew up a liar and a thief, by his own testimony.44 His mother died when he was 14, and he records no impact that this loss had on him except that while she was dying he was roving the streets with his friends “half intoxicated.”45 He went on living a bawdy life, and then found himself in prison for stealing when he was 16 years old. His father paid to get him out, beat him, and took him to live in another town (Schoenbeck). Mueller used his academic skills to make money by tutoring in Latin, French, and mathematics. Finally his father sent him to the University of Halle to study divinity and prepare for the ministry because that would be a good living. Neither he nor George had any spiritual aspirations. Of the 900 divinity students in Halle, Mueller later estimated that maybe nine feared the Lord. 46
Then on a Saturday afternoon in the middle of November, 1825, when Mueller was 20 years old, he was invited to a Bible study and, by the grace of God, felt the desire to go. “It was to me as if I had found something after which I had been seeking all my life long. I immediately wished to go.”47 “They read the Bible, sang, prayed, and read a printed sermon.”48 To his amazement Mueller said, “The whole made a deep impression on me. I was happy; though, if I had been asked, why I was happy I could not have clearly explained it. “I have not the least doubt, that on that evening, [God] began a work of grace in me. . . . That evening was the turning point in my life.”49
That's true. But there was another turning point four years later that the biographies do not open for the reader, but which for Mueller was absolutely decisive in shaping the way he viewed God and the way he did ministry.
A Decisive Turning Point: Confidence in the Sovereign Goodness of God
He came to England in the hope of being a missionary with the London Missionary Society. Soon he found his theology and ministry convictions turning away from the LMS, until there was a break. In the meantime, a momentous encounter happened.
Mueller became sick (thank God for providential sickness!) and in the summer of 1829 he went for recovery to a town called Teignmouth. There in a little chapel called Ebenezer at least two crucial discoveries were made: the preciousness of reading and meditating on the word of God,50 and the truth of the doctrines of grace.51 For ten days Mueller lived with a nameless man who change his life forever: “Through the instrumentality of this brother the Lord bestowed a great blessing upon me, for which I shall have cause to thank Him throughout eternity.”52
Before this period I had been much opposed to the doctrines of election, particular redemption, and final persevering grace; so much so that, a few days after my arrival at Teignmouth, I called election a devilish doctrine. . . I knew nothing about the choice of God's people, and did not believe that the child of God, when once made so, was safe for ever. . . . But now I was brought to examine these precious truths by the word of God.53
He was led to embrace the doctrines of grace—the robust, mission-minded, soul-winning, orphan-loving Calvinism that marked William Carey, who died in 1834, and that would mark Charles Spurgeon, who was born in 1834.54 About forty years later, in 1870, Mueller spoke to some young believers about the importance of what had happened to him at Teignmouth. He said that his preaching had been fruitless for four years from 1825 to 1829 in Germany, but then he came to England and was taught the doctrines of grace.
In the course of time I came to this country, and it pleased God then to show to me the doctrines of grace in a way in which I had not seen them before. At first I hated them, “If this were true I could do nothing at all in the conversion of sinners, as all would depend upon God and the working of His Spirit.” But when it pleased God to reveal these truths to me, and my heart was brought to such a state that I could say, “I am not only content simply to be a hammer, an axe, or a saw, in God's hands; but I shall count it an honor to be taken up and used by Him in any way; and if sinners are converted through my instrumentality, from my inmost soul I will give Him all the glory; the Lord gave me to see fruit; the Lord gave me to see fruit in abundance; sinners were converted by scores; and ever since God has used me in one way or other in His service.”55
This discovery of the all-encompassing sovereignty of God became the foundation of Mueller's confidence in God to answer his prayers for money. He gave up his regular salary.56 He refused to ask people directly for money.57 He prayed and published his reports about the goodness of God and the answers to his prayer.58 These yearly reports were circulated around the world, and they clearly had a huge effect in motivating people to give to the orphan work.59 Mueller knew that God used means. In fact, he loved to say, “Work with all your might; but trust not in the least in your work.”60 But he also insisted that his hope was in God alone, not his exertions and not the published reports. These means could not account for the remarkable answers that he received.
Mueller's faith that his prayers for money would be answered was rooted in the sovereignty of God. When faced with a crisis in having the means to pay a bill he would say, “How the means are to come, I know not; but I know that God is almighty, that the hearts of all are in His hands, and that, if He pleaseth to influence persons, they will send help.”61 That is the root of his confidence: God is almighty, the hearts of all men are in his hands,62 and when God chooses to influence their hearts they will give.
He had come to know and love this absolute sovereignty of God in the context of the doctrines of grace, and therefore he cherished it mainly as sovereign goodness.63 This gave him a way to maintain a personal peace beyond human understanding in the midst of tremendous stress and occasional tragedy. “The Lord never lays more on us,” he said, “in the way of chastisement, than our state of heart makes needful; so that whilst He smites with the one hand, He supports with the other.”64 In the face of painful circumstances he says, “I bow, I am satisfied with the will of my Heavenly Father, I seek by perfect submission to His holy will to glorify Him, I kiss continually the hand that has thus afflicted me.”65
And when he is about to lose a piece of property that he wants for the next orphan house, he says, “If the Lord were to take this piece of land from me, it would be only for the purpose of giving me a still better one; for our Heavenly Father never takes any earthly thing from His children except He means to give them something better instead.”66 This is what I mean by confidence in God's sovereign goodness. This is the root of Mueller's faith and ministry.
The Aroma of Mueller's Calvinism: Satisfaction and Glad Self-Denial
But there was an aroma about Mueller's Calvinism that was different from many stereotypes. For him the sovereign goodness of God served, first and foremost, the satisfaction of the soul. And then the satisfied soul was freed to sacrifice and live a life of simplicity and risk and self-denial and love. But everything flowed from the soul that is first satisfied in the gracious, sovereign God. Mueller is clearer on this than anyone I have ever read. He is unashamed to sound almost childishly simple:
According to my judgement the most important point to be attended to is this: above all things see to it that your souls are happy in the Lord. Other things may press upon you, the Lord's work may even have urgent claims upon your attention, but I deliberately repeat, it is of supreme and paramount importance that you should seek above all things to have your souls truly happy in God Himself! Day by day seek to make this the most important business of your life. This has been my firm and settled condition for the last five and thirty years. For the first four years after my conversion I knew not its vast importance, but now after much experience I specially commend this point to the notice of my younger brethren and sisters in Christ: the secret of all true effectual service is joy in God, having experimental acquaintance and fellowship with God Himself.67
Why is this “the most important thing”? Why is daily happiness in God “of supreme and paramount importance”? One answer he gives is that it glorifies God. After telling about one of his wife's illnesses when he almost lost her, he says, “I have . . . stated this case so fully, to show the deep importance to be satisfied with the will of God, not only for the sake of glorifying Him, but as the best way, in the end, of having given to us the desire of our hearts.”68 Being satisfied in God is “of supreme and paramount importance” because it glorifies God. It shows that God is gloriously satisfying.
But there is another answer: namely, that happiness in God is the only source of durable and God-honoring self-denial and sacrifice and love. In reference to life-style changes and simplicity he says:
We should begin the thing in a right way, i.e. aim after the right state of heart; begin inwardly instead of outwardly. If otherwise, it will not last. We shall look back, or even get into a worse state than we were before. But oh! how different if joy in God leads us to any little act of self denial. How gladly do we do it then!69
“Glad self-denial” is the aroma of Mueller's Calvinism. How can there be such a thing? He answers: “Self-denial is not so much an impoverishment as a postponement: we make a sacrifice of a present good for the sake of a future and greater good.”70 Therefore, happiness in God is of “supreme importance” because it is the key to love that sacrifices and takes risks. “Whatever be done . . . in the way of giving up, or self-denial, or deadness to the world, should result from the joy we have in God.”71
A well-to-do woman visited him once to discuss a possible gift to the Institute. He did not ask her for the money. But when she was gone he asked God for it. And the way he did reveals his understanding of how the heart human works.
After she was gone, I asked the Lord, that He would be pleased to make this dear sister so happy in Himself and enable her so to realize her true riches and inheritance in the Lord Jesus, and the reality of her heavenly calling, that she might be constrained by the love of Christ, cheerfully to lay down this 500 [pounds] at His feet.72
How Do We Get and Keep Our Happiness in God?
If happiness in God is “of supreme and paramount importance” because it is the spring of sacrificial love that honors God, then the crucial question becomes how do we get it and keep it?
But in what way shall we attain to this settled happiness of soul? How shall we learn to enjoy God? How obtain such an all-sufficient soul-satisfying portion in him as shall enable us to let go the things of this world as vain and worthless in comparison? I answer, This happiness is to be obtained through the study of the Holy Scriptures. God has therein revealed Himself unto us in the face of Jesus Christ.73
Happiness in God comes from seeing God revealed to us in the face of Jesus Christ through the Scriptures. “In them . . . we become acquainted with the character of God. Our eyes are divinely opened to see what a lovely Being God is! And this good, gracious, loving, heavenly Father is ours, our portion for time and for eternity.”74 Knowing God is the key to being happy in God.
The more we know of God, the happier we are. . . . When we became a little acquainted with God . . . our true happiness . . . commenced; and the more we become acquainted with him, the more truly happy we become. What will make us so exceedingly happy in heaven? It will be the fuller knowledge of God.75
Therefore the most crucial means of fighting for joy in God is to immerse oneself in the Scriptures where we see God in Christ most clearly. When he was 71 years old, Mueller spoke to younger believers:
Now in brotherly love and affection I would give a few hints to my younger fellow-believers as to the way in which to keep up spiritual enjoyment. It is absolutely needful in order that happiness in the Lord may continue, that the Scriptures be regularly read. These are God's appointed means for the nourishment of the inner man. . . .Consider it, and ponder over it. . . . Especially we should read regularly through the Scriptures, consecutively, and not pick out here and there a chapter. If we do, we remain spiritual dwarfs. I tell you so affectionately. For the first four years after my conversion I made no progress, because I neglected the Bible. But when I regularly read on through the whole with reference to my own heart and soul, I directly made progress. Then my peace and joy continued more and more. Now I have been doing this for 47 years. I have read through the whole Bible about 100 times and I always find it fresh when I begin again. Thus my peace and joy have increased more and more.76
He was seventy-one and he would live and read on for another twenty-one years. But he never changed his strategy for satisfaction in God. When he was seventy-six he wrote the same thing he did when he was sixty, “I saw more clearly than ever, that the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was, to have my soul happy in the Lord.”77 And the means stayed the same:
I saw that the most important thing I had to do was to give myself to the reading of the word of God, and to meditation on it. . . . What is the food of the inner man? Not prayer, but the word of God; and . . . not the simple reading of the word of God, so that it only passes through our minds, just as water runs through a pipe, but considering what we read, pondering over it, and applying it to our hearts.78
Which brings us back now the satisfaction of Mueller's soul at the death of his wife, Mary. Remember, he said, “My heart was at rest. I was satisfied with God. And all this springs, as I have often said before, from taking God at his word, believing what he says.” 79
The aim of George Mueller's life was to glorify God by helping people take God at his word.80 To that end he saturated his soul with the word of God. At one point he said that he reads the Bible five or ten times more than he reads any other books.81 His aim was to see God in Jesus Christ crucified and risen from the dead in order that he might maintain the happiness of his soul in God. By this deep satisfaction in God George Mueller was set free from the fears and lusts of the world. And in this freedom of love he chose a strategy of ministry and style of life that put the reality and trustworthiness and beauty of God on display. To use his own words, his life became a “visible proof to the unchangeable faithfulness of the Lord.”82
He was sustained in this extraordinary life by his deep convictions that God is sovereign over the human heart and can turn it where he wills in answer to prayer; and that God is sovereign over life and death; and that God is good in his sovereignty and withholds no good thing from those who walk uprightly. He strengthened himself continually in his wife's final illness with the hymn:
Best of blessings he'll provide us
Nought but good shall e'er betide us,
Safe to glory He will guide us,
Oh how He loves!83
An Exhortation and Plea from Mueller
I will let him have the closing word of exhortation and plea for us to join him in the path of radical, joyful faith:
My dear Christian reader, will you not try this way? Will you not know for yourself . . . the preciousness and the happiness of this way of casting all your cares and burdens and necessities upon God? This way is as open to you as to me. . . . Every one is invited and commanded to trust in the Lord, to trust in Him with all his heart, and to cast his burden upon Him, and to call upon Him in the day of trouble. Will you not do this, my dear brethren in Christ? I long that you may do so. I desire that you may taste the sweetness of that state of heart, in which, while surrounded by difficulties and necessities, you can yet be at peace, because you know that the living God, your Father in heaven, cares for you. I just had to post this article because George Mueller was amazing in his faith in God. I pray that we all would have this kind of faith that would love others and build the kingdom of God. Pam
Thursday, August 6, 2009
"There was a day when I died; died to self, my opinions, preferences, tastes and will; died to the world, its approval or censure; died to the approval or blame even of my brethren or friends; and since then I have studied only to show myself approved unto God." (George Mueller) (click HERE for an article on George Mueller)
Last night, after reading about George Mueller, it made me realize I have no where near the faith and trust in God that he had. In fact, I don't know anyone else that does either. George Mueller believed everything that came from God's hand was good, and was meant as good for him. He believed that God would provide all his needs, and He would build those orphanages, and provide food for all the children. It was reported that many times the food didn't show up until the very last minute for the children, but they never missed a meal...along with George Mueller and his family. He didn't believe in debt, and took God at His every word when it came to supplying his needs. He believed the most important thing in a believer's life was first making your soul happy in God. That came before anything else, because our joy in the Lord was what determined everything else. He had spent some years in fruitless labor, until he stumbled upon that truth, which he had not heard from other Christians. I believe nowadays John Piper would be the closest one teaching this truth. As I read this I became extremely convicted of where my focus had been placed in the past few months. It seems my eyes had gotten off of God's heart, and onto His hands. The past few years of seeing no change in difficult situations had taken its toll. I had began to believe as many others do, that we are blessed by good things, and cursed by bad things. My circumstances had become the indicators of God's love for me, and I had put God on trial, and begun to grow bitter. It is one thing to go through a difficult season, but to go through years with no change and the situation growing worse is another. It can be a continual wearing and beating down. I know people that have gone through much, much more,and many years of a living hell. It can definitely wear on you. But God is good, and thank goodness for people like George Mueller and John Piper, who constantly point us to God and to find our joy in Him alone. As I set pondering how my focus had gone to the Lord's hand, it made me realize just how sovereign He is. It was Him that used George Mueller to break through my stubborn heart. It was Him that focused me back on His love for me, and that His Word is truth. It was Him that showed me I can believe in those desires He gave me, for He will make it happen. And it was Him that whispered, even if nothing happens, you are still mine, and we will be together for eternity. What peace there is when you know it is not up to you to do anything, it is God that does everything.....even gives you the Love you need to Love Him. Only God is Good my friends. Pam