Tuesday, September 25, 2012

"Heavenly Man" - Ch3 - Our Work & God's Power

Another chapter and once again more miraculous events transpire in the life of Brother Yun.  Again, while the miraculous – or at least the obvious movements of God if it be improper to label some as “miraculous” – are exciting, there are also several concrete things we can both learn and apply to our lives from this chapter.  Among them are a commitment to God’s Word (memorizing and sharing it), seeking the Holy Spirit, obedience when God directs, as well as the undeniable truth that our Theology (which is, perhaps in more ways than we realize, impacted/shaped by the songs we sing) ought to impact our lives..

These themes are important because in this chapter the “miraculous” happens (or God simply moves) in relation to what His people do.  It is relatively easy to pray and hope for “miraculous” things; it is quite another to live your life in such a way that God will “show up” in order to validate His people and therefore glorify His name.  

An amazing example of this (our work and God’s power) occurs after Yun had his long sought for Bible.  He read it daily, in spite of having only a third grade education, until he had read it cover to cover.  Yet God did not miraculously enable him to read despite his low literacy skills.  Rather, Yun had to look up most words (which are made up of characters in the complicated Chinese language) as he progressed through the Bible.  Then after having read through the Bible he started to memorize a chapter a day; after 28 days he had memorized Matthew.  Next he read the other three gospels quickly and then started to memorize the book of Acts. 

All of that is “our work” – what we can do.  Sadly, too often it seems we think we “own” the Bible just because we have purchased it, have received it as a gift, or can put it down and stop reading whenever we want.  Yet more accurately the Bible is the subject and we are the object…it pokes and prods our lives and we are to conform to it.  This is made abundantly clear in what happens a bit later in the chapter. 

Basically, Yun is told by God to go and be His witness.  God directs Yun to people who had been praying and fasting for him to come after they heard how he miraculously received a Bible.  They wanted Yun to teach them, but he did not know how to preach.  So Yun did what he could; he recited Scripture – as in the whole book of Matthew.  Yun did what he could, and what did God do?  After Yun recited all of Matthew, with his eyes tightly shut, the Holy Spirit led him to sing Scripture-based songs Yun previously did not know.  After finishing and opening his eyes he saw the people kneeling in repentance with tears running down their cheeks.   That is clearly the work of God…yet it came about as a man did what he could. 

As far as songs influencing our Theology, we will cover them in the next post.  Until then, may continue to grow in our understanding of how to appropriately handle God’s word.  

Thursday, September 6, 2012

"Heavenly Man" - Ch2 - (Un)Answered Prayers

While the account of how Brother Yun received a Bible is exciting, there is a detail in it that gives me pause – to say the least.  

Basically Yun prayed for a month for a Bible; nothing happened.  Then he was told (by the former pastor who told him to initially pray for a Bible) to weep and fast while praying.  Yun did this for 100 days (eating only a small bowl of rice at night – cf. the previous post and a hunger for God’s Word).  Then one night Yun had a vision, in which, he received a Bible; it became reality very early the next morning.  It seems miraculous to me.  At least it is outside of my personal realm of experience.  On one hand it is exciting and I praise God for it, yet on another hand I am unsettled by a detail in the account.     

An evangelist, who had suffered much (including 20 years in prison) for his faith, had a vision three months before Yun got his Bible.  In the vision this evangelist saw not only Brother Yun, but also the location of his parent’s house in their village - he was told to give his hidden Bible to Yun.  Having done some quick math it was easy to see that God answered Yun’s prayer…after about 10 days, not 100.  I.e., He gave a vision to this evangelist telling him what to do.  Yet due to the evangelist’s fear it took around 90 more days (equaling the 100 days Yun says it took) for God’s answer to Yun’s prayer to materialize.  I want to be clear, I am not faulting the evangelist; my goodness he had already spent 20 years in prison for serving God.  I can understand being a bit hesitant (but it is still disobedience).  Yet I am startled by God’s response time in contrast to “the final answer” being experienced. 

This leads me to again ponder prayer and our role in it.  I often utilize the end of chapter nine and beginning of chapter 10 in Matthew to illustrate this concept.  Jesus is concerned about those without a shepherd, He tells His disciples to pray for God to send out laborers into His harvest (Mt9:36-37), and then we see Jesus calling the 12 disciples…and then sending them out.  In other words, the disciples were the answer to their own prayer. 

Rolling all of this together I cannot help but wonder; how many times has God “answered” a prayer by telling someone to go…but the answer is delayed (or never arrives) because of a hesitant (disobedient) person?  Some may scoff at the idea.  Yet this flows not only out of Yun’s personal experience – but also the Bible.  

We are at war.  I know this, but events are happening around me that are reawakening me to this reality – again.  I pray this is the last time I need reawakened; I want to stay alert and engaged.  I also pray that I do not hinder God’s answer to the prayers of others…or my own.  Give us strength O Lord.