As I travel, I tend to get more reading done. This week I read The Heavenly Man. Josh suggested this book to me a few weeks ago, when we were at IHOP-KC (I sure miss The Prayer Room) this book had five facings in the bookstore, so I packed it for reading on trains and busses and what-not. … I had NO idea what I was in for.
This is the story of a leader in the Chinese house church movement… he sufferered horrible brutality at the hands of the Chinese authorities and suffered long in Chinese and Burmese prisons. He lived and suffered for the cause of the Gospel with great humility.
Here are some quotes that grabbed me…
In the context of working hard but lacking a deep abiding in Jesus (my term).
“I was still getting up every morning at five o’clock and praying with other church leaders, and I was still reading my Bible every day, but I was doing these things out of obligation and habit, and not from a willing heartflowing from my relationship with Jesus.” (p. 198)
This struck me bacause I know that feeling and I know how easy it is to do the spiritual disciplines for discipline’s sake. May our relationship with the Lord Jesus drive us to love dwelling with Him and not just doing our devotions for their own sake.
In his discussion about seeking unity:
“When I told him my vision for unity, Zhang laughed… …but I knew Zhang had been deeply hurt by the other leaders.” (p. 235)
I know this feeling too well for I know what it feels like to be hurt by fellow workers and how hard it is to forgive. I am so grateful for Matthew 18 which teaches me to forgive first.
A bit later he described the difficulty of getting leaders together for a time of reconcilliation and the result…
“Although not all differences were ironed out, the leaders got to know each other for the first times and saw how they had far more in common than they had reasons to remain seperate. They also found their theological differences centered upon issues that weren’t essential to the faith.”
Wow, did I love reading these words from this guy. It makes me want to go to Germany to meet him, but I know he would tell me to spend that time with the Lord Jesus in His Word. AMEN!
At another point, the Lord showed him that he had his priorities messed up again…
“I realized again that I was a laborer who worked witout real peace from the Lord. I loved doing things for the Lord so much that it had become my securrity and my source of joy. God wanted to remove this idol from my life.”
God help us not to make ministry an idol.
About the Chinese government…
“We never pray against our government or call down curses on them. Instead, we have learned that God is in control of both our own lives and the government we live under. Isaiah prophesied about Jesus, ‘The government will be upon his shoulders.’ Is. 9.6… we pray that regardless of what happens to us, we will be pleasing to God.” (p.287)
He wrote this about the Chinese government.
About an attack by a Christian that cost him, he was told…
“Brother Yun,… In China, Christians are persecuted with beatings and imprisonment. In the West, Christians are persecuted by the words of other Christians.”
I have been on the receiving end of this and I am guilty as charged. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, Saviour, have mercy on me, the sinner. I think it would be prudent for us to memorize 1 Tim. 5:19 –
19 Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. (1 Tim 5:19 ESV.)
There is tons more I could say about this book, but one more quote and I’m done:
In a Burmese prison when he learned of his impending release, he said “I feel so sorry that many Christians live in bondage even though Jesus has signed their release form with his own blood. When you’ve been set free, you should act like it!”
I think they got the title wrong… I know where the title comes from, but this is the story of The Humble Man.