George Müller Did Not Have the Gift of Faith! What?

Tuesday is for Meditation

Faith in God Means Faith in His TimingReading the life of George Müller, I always thought he must have had the gift of faith. His reliance on God is legendary and the stories that come out of his prayers and the life that he led have inspired Christians and non-Christians alike for 150 years. But a recent article by John Piper explores what the famous prayer warrior actually believed about his faith. Here’s an excerpt from Piper’s article (in blue below).

George Müller (1805–1898) provided for thousands of orphans by means of the “faith principle” — which meant he would look to God and never directly ask another person for money. Nor did he ever borrow money — for anything. He was renown for peaceful trust in God’s provision, even when a deadline loomed and food was short.

On this faith principle, he raised £110,000 to build five orphan houses that accommodated 2,050 orphans. In his lifetime he cared for 10,024 orphans. By his example, he inspired others to embrace orphan care, including Charles Spurgeon, who said, “The God who answers by orphanages, let him be Lord!”

It Was Not the Gift of Faith

Nevertheless, Müller was adamant that he did not have the gift of faith. What did he mean, and why should we be thankful?

Think not, dear reader, that I have the gift of faith, that is, that gift of which we read in 1 Cor. xii. 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 Cor. xii. 9. (Narrative, Vol. 1, 302)

He emphasized this point because he meant for the world to see that God keeps the promises of Scripture for those who trust him. [bold emphasis added] If he had a special gift of faith that God does not expect all to have, then one of Müller’s great aims would have been thwarted. He believed he was setting a biblical example for all of us:

All believers are called upon, in the simple confidence of faith, to cast all their burdens upon Him, to trust in him for everything, and not only to make every thing a subject of prayer, but to expect answers to their petitions which they have asked according to His will, and in the name of the Lord Jesus. (302)

Wow!!!

The whole article is worth reading and you can link to it HERE.

Think about that last paragraph from Müller, especially the phrase, “to expect answers to their petitions which they have asked according to His will, and in the name of the Lord Jesus.”

And here’s a suggestion for how to begin to learn what brother Müller has to teach us.

  • Go see the movie WAR ROOM and think long and hard on the model of George Müller.
  • Then begin to work believing prayer into the habits of your life.

I Believe—What Do I Believe?

Saturday Afternoon Musings

Church of East Corinth among trees in fall color. Vermont, New England, USA
Church of East Corinth among trees in fall color. Vermont, New England, USA

“A surprisingly large number of people who think of themselves as Christians never get further than accepting the truth of Christianity. They believe that God is there–but they have never met him. They believe that God is able to forgive sins–but they have never allowed God to forgive their sins. They believe that God is reliable–but they have never relied on him.”

In eighteenth-century America, people like this were called ‘halfway’ believers. They are on their way to faith–but they have yet to arrive. For such people, ‘I believe in God’ can mean little more than ‘I think there may be a God somewhere.’ The richness and depth of the gospel remains unknown to them.”

—–Alister McGrath,
“I Believe”: Exploring the Apostles’ Creed,
(IVP, 1991), 23

Nothing drives this home quicker than chaplain duty at a local hospital. Make the gospel clear at all times. Seek to move people from intellectual belief only, to real reliance on the living God.

He came. He lived. He died. He rose. He Ascended. He promised. He’s coming.

There is No Third Option: Either Prayer Fuels the Work or the Flesh Will

Friday is for Heart Songs

GratitudeWe’re human.

We’re American.

We’re educated.

We’re healthy (mostly).

And all those blessings are opportunities for gratefulness. They are opportunities to acknowledge our contingency, our dependence on things outside of our control, and for which we have no merit. We are simply the recipients of grace, unmerited favor.

But when that grace, that unmerited favor is forgotten, is not consciously relied on and joyfully acknowledged we begin to function in our natural, independent, sin-infected selves. And that is at least one of the reasons why we are encouraged to pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17-18).

Prayer of ThanksPrayer reminds us that all the good things we have, all the good things that have been given to us, and even all the good things that we hope to achieve are gifts from God

That’s the import of Jesus’ words in John 15 when He said that “apart from Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

I wonder if we believe Him?

We are so quick to plan, to organize, to discuss, to strategize, to “do something,” that private prayer and gathering the saints for corporate prayer are simply pro forma actions, something we do because we should, not because we believe it is vital. Oswald Chambers put it this way:

The measure of the worth of our public activity for God is the private profound communion we have with Him.… We have to pitch our tents where we shall always have quiet times with God, however noisy our times with the world may be.

My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers, January 6

I want to learn to “pitch my tent” in the quietness of seeking God and I want to help leaders, pastors, and elders to leave “the noise of our times” and make their plans and strategies only after a long and deep contemplation of God and His will for the Church.

Prayer will either fuel the work
or my flesh will
and my flesh is a train wreck waiting to happen.

I want to lead my soul to believe and live by the motto, that without Jesus, I can do nothing.

“Darwin’s Shocking, and Revealing, Subtitle” Unfortunately, prophetic

Wednesday is for Thinking

The pictures of Margaret Sanger look so innocent. It is hard to imagine what evil lurked behind her eyes and in the recesses of her psyche. But where did Margaret (founder of Planned Parenthood) get the philosophical foundation for her racism and genocidal views?

Look no further than Darwin. The following is a brief article from Kairos Journal. What a man titles and sub-titles his book is a powerful window to the soul of what a book is all about.

Darwin’s Shocking, and Revealing, Subtitle
—Charles Darwin (1809 – 1882)

From the beginning, Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution contained the seeds of bigotry. His famous work Origin of Species was published in 1859. What is less well-known is its original and shocking sub-title: The Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life. The naturalist followed up his culture-shifting work with The Descent of Man in 1871. Here, he extrapolated upon man’s relationship with apes by moving from mere physical attributes to psychological and moral traits. Additionally, he peppered his new work with suggestions on how to continue man’s evolution. His followers, often called social Darwinists, took him literally. They accepted his challenge to continue man’s advancement by eliminating “degenerate human breeding stock.” The chosen means for such “progress” often were abortion, eugenics, and euthanasia.

The notion of “survival of the fittest” has inspired a host of current modern prejudices and abuses.1 In Holland, doctors practice involuntary euthanasia. In America, parents select embryos for destruction based upon genetic prenatal screening. Women sell their “donor eggs” off to the highest bidder. All of these developments degrade the understanding of what it means to be human, and all of them owe their origin to Darwinism.

With savages, the weak in body or mind are eliminated; and those that survive commonly exhibit a vigorous state of health. We civilised men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination; we build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed, and the sick; we institute poor-laws; and our medical men exert their utmost skill to save the life of every one to the last moment. There is reason to believe that vaccination has preserved thousands, who from a weak constitution would formerly have succumbed to small-pox. Thus the weak members of civilised societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly any one is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.2

Footnotes:

  1. See Kairos Journal articles, “Nazi Racial Cleansing: the American Link” & “The Submerged Tenth—The American Eugenics Program, 1900-1940.”
  2. Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex, 2nd ed. (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1895), 133-134.

Side bar thought:
In nearly every picture, Margaret Sanger is wearing black or very dark clothing—almost like a pre-goth fascination with all things dark and death related.

“Questions Every Supporter of Planned Parenthood Should Have to Answer”

Tuesday is for Ending Abortion

What Millions of American's (Especially Women) are Asking
What Millions of American’s (Especially Women) are Asking

There are issues in every generation that simply must be addressed by God’s people. In the 1960’s it was constitutional rights for African Americans. In our time it is violence, racial profiling, and the continuing heartache of abortion.

But the most pressing, I believe, is abortion. I came a cross this article while reading Kairos Journal digest this week.

Here’s the first question:

Question: Would you be okay with a government-subsidized company performing vivisections on a baby panda? You know, cutting one of those adorable things open, taking parts out of them while their hearts were still beating? What if we could make a few bucks while, maybe, sorta, using those organs for scientific study—even though several other methods are available to researchers? Is that acceptable?

Here’s a link to the whole article and it is worth your time. Get the facts and think hard on the evil being exposed behind the doors of Planned Parenthood. I would like to rename the organization MONSTERS R US or MONSTERS INC. 

At the same time, I feel personally dirty for having allowed this atrocity to continue for the last 42 years. God forgive us as a nation for the great evil we have collectively practiced on the unborn that he blesses us with.

They All Loathed and Hated Their Fathers

Tuesday is for Thinking

Prodigal returns to the FatherWhat do Sigmund Freud, Friedrich Nietzsche, Jean-Paul Sartre, French skeptic Voltaire, Madalyn Murray O’Hair, Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Chairman Mao all have in common?

Beyond the obvious that they were all atheist and materialists, they all loathed and hated their fathers.

The modern era’s most famous psychologist, Freud argued that the concept of God is merely a wish fulfillment derived from childish needs for protection and security. An infant, he said, receives sustenance and comfort from his parents. But when, according to Freud, he is old enough to realize that parents offer no ultimate answer to life’s needs, he posits the idea of God to ease insecurities.1

The quote above comes from a Kairos Journal article titled, “Atheism: The Faith of the Fatherless.” 

Dad’s, your impact on your children, male and female is immeasurable, incalculable, and impossible to duplicate. Be the man. Be a father who is involved in his children’s lives. Be a man who teaches them for as long as you live that God is good. They and the whole culture needs you to do your job in the family.

Footnotes:

1. Cf. Sigmund Freud, The Future of an Illusion, ed. and trans. James Strachey (New York: Norton, 1961).

Learning to Love Through the Disappointments of Marriage

Saturday Evening Musings

1 Marriage ImageGreat marriages are built not by perfect circumstances or perfect people, not be perfect bodies or perfect sex, not by perfect communication or perfect sensitivity, but by couples who learn how to love one another through the disappointments of life.

Every marriage has its ups and downs, its joys and sorrows. Every marriage has its challenges and obstacles. But it is disappointment, the contrast between the dream of what we thought it would be and reality, between the ease that we thought it would be and the work that it actually is to love another sinner that can crush a spirit and pollute the interaction of two people who vowed to love one another.

It is hard work to apply Paul’s words in Ephesians 4:32: “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” But Paul gives the secret to doing the command with the last phrase of the command. There is power in the words, “as God in Christ forgave you.”

Everything in the Christian life and hence everything in marriage travels on the pathway of the cross. It is the view of how much we have been forgiven, how much we have been loved, how much Another endured for us that fuels our passion to live in the same way for others and makes us tenderhearted and kind toward the one who has disappointed us in little and large ways.

Earlier today I learned that one of my former students from my days as a prof in California, a fun and godly man, a life-long youth pastor and visionary, a man committed to representing Christ to the poorest and least privileged kids in his community, a man loved by all was killed, along with his precious wife in a head-on collision with another vehicle that had entered the highway driving in the wrong direction.

It is a tragic loss for his family, the body of Christ, for all those who have been impacted by them as a couple, and the community that he served and loved. But in reading the tributes to Ty and Terri Schenzel, over and over and over again, it was thrilling, sometimes through tears, to read of how hard they worked to make their marriage a joy to one another and to everyone who knew them, and how successful they were!

Person after person, couple after couple, young and old, gave tribute to the beauty of a life, (two lives), lived for the glory of Christ by the power of His Spirit, and the guidance of His word. Please pray for Ty’s and Terri’s family. They have a great hole in their hearts. God is filling the hole with the joyous memories of a two lives lived for Him but the hole will fill slowly till one day they meet again in the glory of the eternal life promised to all who believe (2 Timothy 1:1).

The life and ministry of Ty and Terri Schenzel