I met Nancy through a mutual friend who is very effective at disciple making in the N. Af and the Middle East regions. Her website is full of beautiful photography and many Biblical and other uplifting quotes. My quote she is using comes from my newest book LIFE GIVING LEADERSHIP.
It was FALL 2012 — I was teaching a course at Columbia Int University entitled: Principles of the Christian Life: Ethics and Sanctification.
Robertson McQuilkin created this course during his presidency and his book on ethics and his book on the Holy Spirit came out of class handouts used with several generations of students. I had the privilege of being one of those students in 1978.
Now, 2012, I was asked to teach the course — a double honor. Robertson believed that ethics, what we should choose, and sanctification, walking in the power of the Spirit so we can choose well, needed to be together in one course. As far as I know CIU is the only school that frames the teaching of ethics in that way.
I invited Robertson to come as a guest to share how he practiced his daily love time with God and to answer questions from the students at a halfway point in the course. This 13 minute video is lifted from that class. Enjoy — and think about your alone time with the Grand Lover of your soul.
ROBERTSON IS NOW AT HOME… WHAT A JOY HE MUST BE KNOWING THAT WE ONLY TASTE.
I miss my dear friend, mentor and leader.
I was listening to Robertson pray as we came to the end of our visit. In his prayer were words that sounded like they were paraphrased from the Bible but I couldn’t identify it specifically. As best as I can recall, and it is etched clearly in my memory because I heard him offer God the same prayer on several other visits, this is what he prayed.
“Lord, much of life is way too much for me to figure out. I don’t have very many answers; fewer now than I thought I had years ago. I have more questions than ever. But, I do know you and I trust you. I trust you and you are more than enough.” His prayer continued as he prayed specifically for me and my family.
I will miss those prayers. Do people who pledge to pray for us every day, and keep that promise for many years, continue to pray for us when they arrive in heaven before us?
After my friend closed his prayer that day I confessed my biblical illiteracy and asked him where the passage was that was expressed in his prayer. He told me it was from Psalm 131.
That day Psalm 131 became a treasure for me. Here it is in the Amplified translation.
1 LORD, MY heart is not haughty, nor my eyes lofty; neither do I exercise myself in matters too great or in things too wonderful for me. 2 Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with his mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me [ceased from fretting]. 3 O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forever.
A few of the encouragements from this song are:
King David is the author of the prayer and extends an invitation to his people in verse 3 to join him in anchoring a frayed anxious heart in confidence in their God. Here is a great king confessing, before God and his people, that he has humbled his heart and knows that he does not have all of the answers or the power to solve all of the problems. This is not the image of a strong confident leader often held up as the model of leadership. I wonder if God defines leadership different from most cultural definitions?
This king has to have a talk with himself and tell his soul to chill out; stop being anxious. As a parent I know the difference between the nursing child and the weaned child. To hold that nursing infant in my arms and softly tell her, “Mom is just taking a shower. She will be out in just a few minutes. I promise she will feed you and we will not let you starve.” The babe totally ignores me and screams as though we are the worst parents in the world and care nothing for her nourishment.
Oh, but the weaned child is a different story. “Daughter, Mom is going to fix lunch soon. Just let me read you this book and as soon as she returns from the store it is peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for all of us. YEAH!” And the child, in anticipation, says, “I am so hungry can I have apple sauce too.” And we return to our book and our waiting.
It seems that most of my Christian life has been spent waiting on God. I live in the waiting room while waiting for answers, waiting for blessings, waiting for judgment on the unrighteous, waiting on Jesus to return…. Waiting. And often my heart does get overwhelmed with how the world is running or not running according to my thoughts. But this song reminds me I do not sit in the waiting room alone. So King David’s words fuel my hope.
It is OK to need to take one’s heart aside and have a serious chat. And it is OK to need to have others around me, like this King was to his people, calling me to keep trusting our great God we cannot understand and who refuses to follow my time table.
Trust the Lord from this moment on.
Trust the Lord in all of the moments he gives me.
Trust the Lord knowing life is too much for me to handle but not to much for our God.
It is a sweet memory; Robertson showing me a well worn photo album he would pray through daily and my picture with my family was stuck behind the plastic on one of the pages. Who has God led me to stand with in prayer for daily? Yes, my children, their spouses and my grandchildren and of course my wife. But who else? Who do I pledge to stand as an intercessor for because God has led us together? Who do I pray Psalm 131 and many other prayers over their life and service?
Here is the chapter I wrote for a book to honor Robertson McQuilkin, president emeritus of Columbia Intl University. It is a letter to my son, Mark, to offer encouragement and reminders for leadersthip in the 21st century that aligns with God’s heart.
2 Corinthians 7:4 ESV I am acting with great boldness toward you; I have great pride in you; I am filled with comfort. In all our affliction, I am overflowing with joy.
Philippians 1:3-7 ESV I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel.
1 Thessalonians 2:19-20 ESV For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy.
Philemon 1:7 ESV For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you.
IS THIS A ‘KAIROS’ MOMENT FOR THE CHURCH IN THE UNITED STATES?
Question: What is ‘Kairos’?
Answer: Kairos is an ancient Greek word meaning the right or opportune moment (the supreme moment). In the New Testament kairos means “the appointed time in the purpose of God”, the time when God acts (e.g. Mark 1.15, the kairos is fulfilled).
To be more personal, is this a ‘kairos’ moment for me and Columbia International University http://www.ciu.edu , the ministry where I currently live out my service to Christ?
I will attempt to define why I think it might be a ‘karios’ moment.
I will then describe my initial thoughts on how to respond.
Some Perspective on me and CIU
CIU started in 1923 as part of the Bible College movement of the early 20th century. Under the son of the founder, Robertson McQuilkin, president from 1968 to 1990, the values of the school were distilled and clarified. They remain vital to understanding CIU and since I have been a part of CIU twice in my own journey, 1977-1983 as student and staff, and since 1997 as faculty member and director of alumni I have adopted them as my personal foundational values.
1. The Authority of Scripture
2. Victorious Christian Living
3. World Evangelization
4. Prayer & Faith
5. Evangelical Unity
It is beyond the scope of this article to go in depth on the five values.
For more on the values go to: http://www.ciu.edu/discover-ciu/who-we-are/core-values
But it critical to observe that the Bible (value #1) and the work of the Holy Spirit in every Christian (value #2) are foundational to how we will approach knowing Christ and making him known.
Prayer & Faith (value #4) and Evangelical Unity (value #5) describe how we will relate to God and other Christians as we live out our mission.
But World Evangelization (value #3) is different from the other four. It is not our foundational starting point or the guiding parameters on how we relate. It is our mission; our reason for existing as a school. We would say it is THE theme, mission and purpose of God’s activity in the world. He is the God who sends. Every Christian is a sent one, all called to join him in his mission. The other four values all support or enable the mission. We report for duty with God’s truth (The Bible) being empowered by his Spirit to walk in dependent trust expressed in constant conversation with God and seeing God’s children as our brothers and sisters of his one family. Our duty is to take the message of the God who loves and shows that love in the saving work of Christ to every people group on the planet.
CIU is on a mission to train students from a biblical worldview to impact the nations with the message of Christ. And that is my personal mission! I seek to evaluate, surely not perfectly, but consistently, every investment of my time and money in accomplishing this mission.
What is happening around us?
With that glimpse into who we are let me now describe two of the factors that I believe that have swept us into a “perfect storm” or a ‘karios’ moment.
1. A large part of the evangelical church is redefining God’s mission as loving compassionate engagement in acts of mercy and justice. Compassionate service is equal to a message to be delivered. I heard a professor from another school say, “We used to have at least 25 students every year wanting to major in Evangelism, Discipleship and Church Planting. Now we are lucky if five show up.” They are opting for community health and other training for compassion ministry.
Now I know that the battle is raging between those labeled “priortists” and “holistic” and I won’t wade into that debate here except to say I fear the church is repeating the tragic course of action that occurred in the early decades of the 20th century which led to a split of the church into what were called “liberal” and “fundamentalist”. The current evangelical movement grew out of the fundamentalist church and now is splintering into similar camps with different labels and somewhat nuanced beliefs.
2. There is also a contribution of the storm that centers on who is saved and how God saves I would call creeping universalism. This cuts the heart out of missions as it paints a picture of a tolerant God who acts beyond the choices of the people he created in his image with the capacity for responsible choice to save all people. Why should our brightest and best go to the unreached if God has a plan to save them that is separate from them hearing and placing faith in the Gospel? Why endure rejection and possible persecution to carry a message if God saves those who never hear?
There are other factors in the storm that I feel are diverting the focus and resources going into God’s mission. But even these two are enough to see that CIU and schools like it may be attempting to recruit students to training for a mission that the leaders of their churches no longer value. Will we be blown away in the storm? Will we rise to fight another day?
I hear from some of these younger leaders that the words “missions” and “Great Commission” communicate dusty outdated images and should be retired. I have never been one to fight for words and know that words move and shift in meaning and usage. Just think of “cougars” and “gay” as examples. But what about the content these words carry that shorthand’s the vision and activities of God’s people being on mission? Surely if God is on the move from Genesis to Revelation to fill the earth with his glory by bringing people from death to life in Christ that has not become out dated and to be erased. What are the “hot” words that describe the church and every Christian aligning with God’s Spirit in taking the truth of John 3:16 to all peoples? Has the US church 21st century attempt to update led to pursuing a different mission than the one instituted by God?
Radical Choices in a ‘Kairos’ moment
At the start of the 20th century books were written, organizations and denominations started and schools were launched as expressions of repentance to live in pursuit of God’s mission. A century later we are at ‘kairos’ moment how should current leaders respond?
Let me suggest:
1. Small nice little plans and goals won’t work in a hurricane level storm. Leaders must step up and join the boat builders, giant killers, and journey takers in Hebrews 11.
2. There must be a disciplined spirit of endurance. Infused with biblical hope there will be clarity and a refusing to step aside, stop or be sidetracked much like our Lord’s faithful walk to the cross.
3. All actions must be done in Spirit energized love. A love that sacrifices, gives to, blesses and is willing to engage in more than just a battle of words. The Gospel is a message of God’s reconciling love and his church must model that reconciling love. That calls out humility in leaders that lays down life for the lost and even for a church that is in danger of losing its vision and way. Where believers must separate to remain faithful to God it must be accompanied by tears not hurling stones.
Before I began writing I was praying through the Lord’s Prayer. The Spirit stopped my heart at the second clause – “may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”. As I prayed over that phrase I was reminded that every Christian stands inside 3 concentric circles.
Innermost is my circle of responsibility FOR…. I am responsible before God for my actions, words and attitudes. Only my choice, granted me by God, blocks these actions of obedinece taking place.
The second circle is my circle of responsible TO… I can influence and have direct contact. I can influence my spouse, children, etc., by loving them. I cannot be responsible FOR them but God holds me accountable TO them.
The outer circle is my responsibilty TO that I cannot directly contact but can influence through prayer. Is God’s will centered on the Gospel bearing fruit among all people groups?
Here are a few very basic examples that came to my mind as I prayed:
1) RIGHT NOW and in every present moment I can seek God’s will to be done in me; in the range of the reach of my body. Are my priorities, goals, and desires aligned with His mission?
2) I can seek God for the grace to be aligned with his actions with the people he allows me to touch.
3) I remember being in a prayer group several times in the late 1970s and early 80s praying for open doors for the Gospel to spread in what our maps labeled as the Soviet Union and China. With other Christians we offered thanks to God as the “Iron Curtain” crumbled into a rust heap and waves of the Gospel broke through. I remember celebrating President’s Nixon visit to China as a first step in God answering those prayers. There are millions of Chinese I have never met but it is incredible to think that my weak prayers joined with a chorus of others and became a part of God’s work of growing a harvest of souls in the underground church in China.
How about you?
Do you think it might be a ‘kairos’ moment in our day?
How should we respond?
What direction should the leaders of schools like CIU, churches, and mission agencies take in the storm?
I serve as director of alumni for Columbia Intl University. www.ciu.edu . One day a month we cancel classes to devote more time to prayer. John Heflick worked with alumni volunteers Laslene Glymph and Yvonne Fredrick along with faculty, students and alumni to produce a prayer guide to use on a recent day of prayer.
I have already benefited from using this resource in my own prayer times. There are many creative ways you could draw from this for the prayer ministry of any ministry, mission or church.
Post comments and reactions here!
Click Here! Prayer Guide – Prayer Day 2011