Tuesday, August 19, 2014

How Big Is Our Bucket?

No matter how steady our hands, no matter how careful our eye, we cannot put a gallon of water in a half-gallon bucket. So, if we go to a neighbor asking for water, and take along a half-gallon bucket, we are hardly justified in complaining that the neighbor gave us only half a gallon.

Let us apply that to spiritual matters.

Why do we complain of the gifts God gives? His gifts are not limited by his willingness to give, but by our capacity to receive. I truly believe that God wants to give us far more spiritual insight and understanding, as well as far more skill in blessing others. What limits his giving is not his willingness or ability to give, but our capacity for receiving.

This thought was suggested by something that A.W. Tozer wrote. He went on to say that our spiritual capacity is not of a fixed unchangeable size. We can grow in our capacity to receive spiritual blessings from God. We will grow if we cease to resist the Spirit.

While we should not fault a man for having few skills, we should fault people (and ourselves especially) for having no more skill than we had in the past. We should be growing. We should be improving. We should be increasing our capacity.

If we are no more able to praise God, no more able to bless others, no more knowledgeable in the word of God than we were ten years ago, the fault is with us, not with God. He desires to give, but we must prepare ourselves to receive.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Death of David Bosch

David Jacobus Bosch was born in 1929 at Kuruman, Cape Province, South Africa. From 1971 until his death Bosch taught missiology at the University of South Africa.

He died after a traffic accident in Pretoria in 1992. Rumor has it that the accident occurred at the boundary of two jurisdictions and that two policemen argued at length about which of them should send for an ambulance. Meanwhile, Professor Bosch died.

I have often thought the story a fine parable concerning the state of our mission efforts. While we argue petty matters, people are perishing.

I am not one of those people who imagines that doctrine does not matter. It assuredly does matter. Jesus used the word often. He insisted that our teaching (our doctrine -- the words mean the exact same thing) must be derived from God's word, not from human thinking (Mt 15:7-9; cf. 1 Tim 1:3-7).

But while this is true, it is also true that sometimes we quarrel about mere words and split hairs over petty matters (2 Tim 2:14ff). Meanwhile, millions are perishing without the gospel. In some cases, even our own children grow up not knowing the gospel because someone was too busy promoting their own views and tastes instead of sticking to the book and especially emphasizing the gospel.

I do not know if the rumor of the death of David Bosch is true or not, but I do know about the tragic result of majoring in minors. Let try to put first things first. We may fail, but let's try.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014


But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man. John 2:24-25 (ESV)

We normally use the word "disillusioned" in a negative sense. As the word is commonly used it connotes cynicism and a negative view of life. But in truth, those who become disillusioned in this negative sense, those who become cynical, become so only because they had been operating under various illusions. We begin with the illusion that human nature is basically sound and when that illusion proves false we become disillusioned in the negative, cynical sense of the term. What if we did not start with the illusion?

What if, instead of starting with the illusion that people can be trusted, we, like Jesus, began with the expectation that humans are weak, fickle, untrustworthy creatures from whom we should not expect much? Jesus was never under an illusion about human nature. Therefore Jesus never became disillusioned. He never became cynical.

Perhaps if we could learn to approach life as Jesus did -- intending to serve and not expecting much in the way of thanks -- we would do better. Perhaps, strange as it sounds, those who agree with Jeremiah when he says, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick" (Jer 17:9), will be less negative, cynical, and disillusioned than those who start with silly modern assumptions about everyone being basically good at heart.

I do not claim to have a recipe for shedding our illusions without becoming cynically disillusioned, but I do believe it is worth a try. More than that, it is the Christ-like approach to life.