Paul Madson

THOUGHTS, QUOTES & REFLECTIONS

Month: June 2010

On the pastoral, leadership and theological famine ravaging the world today…

A few weeks ago, I heard a great analogy that describes the role of pastoral and leadership training throughout the developing world…

“Pastoral and leadership training here in America is like opening another restaurant – there’s one on virtually every corner. On the other hand, pastoral and leadership training throughout the developing world is like opening a lone food bank in the midst of starving people!”

I believe that the most effective way, in most situations, of fulfilling the Great Commission is by training the nationals to evangelize, disciple, equip, encourage and minister to their own people. The nationals know the local language, culture and customs, which allows them to immediately begin ministering to their own people without having to face the hurdles of learning a new language and culture.

Several years ago, I was struck by a magazine advertisement in a Christian periodical that showed all of the different types of Bibles available from a particular publisher here in America (note picture to left).

In almost every country where we do pastoral and leadership training, the local pastors are fortunate to have just one complete Bible in their own language. They have no “Study Bibles” available to them.

In a number of locations where we’ve conducted trainings, our staff have brought along copies of the new ESV Study Bible to give to pastors and leaders who can read and understand English. After giving them the new Study Bible, you would have thought that we had just given them a million dollars! They literally hug and hold their new Study Bible like it is their most treasured possession.

I use this illustration often when describing why GTN does what we do… “If you saw ten men trying to carry a heavy log and nine of the men were carrying the lighter tapered end…and only one man was struggling to carry the wider heavier end, which end would you jump toward to give your help?”

As great as the needs are here in America (and we truly have many), compared to much of the developing world, they have 10% or less of what we possess in terms of churches, ministries, and spiritual resources.

Research shows that 95% of pastors throughout the developing world have little to no theological training for their ministries. This is why ministries (of which GTN is one) that bring good biblical training to these indigenous pastors around the world are so vital.

What David Brainerd Taught Me

One of my favorite things to do during the Summer months (especially on vacation) is to read biographies of great men and women of the past.

One that deeply impacted me was on the life of David Brainerd, missionary to the Native Americans in the early 1700’s. It was entitled, An Account of the Life of the Late Rev. David Brainerd and was written by Jonathan Edwards.

David Brainerd only lived 29 years before the Lord called him home, yet despite his short life, God used his influence for generations to come. Brainerd was known for his passion and dedication to following Christ no matter the cost.

His life story inspired me greatly as a young 18-year-old freshman in Bible College. His words continue to challenge and inspire me to follow Christ wholeheartedly.

American philosopher George Santayana said, “Those who refuse to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Taking time to learn from godly men and women that have gone before us can enrich our souls and inspire our hearts. I almost always come away from reading a biography of a godly leader encouraged, uplifted and inspired to live for Christ in even greater ways.

Reading about the lives of godly saints who have gone before us serves as a poignant reminder that our current struggles are very similar, if not the same, as the challenges they faced. It breathes fresh hope into our souls and reminds us that we’re not alone in this spiritual battle.

I would encourage you to pick up a biography this Summer and learn from the successes and failures, the ups and downs, the good times and the bad times of other great men and women that have gone before us!

Here are a few quotes that I have gleaned from David Brainerd. I hope they encourage, inspire and challenge you in your walk with Jesus. I’ve included at the bottom of this blog a brief biography of the life of David Brainerd for your information.

Quotes from the Life of David Brainerd

“O God, let me make a difference for You that is utterly disproportionate to who I am.”

“Once more, Never think that you can live to God by your own power or strength; but always look to and rely on Him for assistance, yea, for all strength and grace.”

“We are a long time in learning that all our strength and salvation is in God.”

“We should always look upon ourselves as God’s servants, placed in God’s world, to do his work; and accordingly labor faithfully for him; not with a design to grow rich and great, but to glorify God, and do all the good we possibly can.”

“When you cease from labor, fill up your time in reading, meditation, and prayer: and while your hands are laboring, let your heart be employed, as much as possible, in divine thoughts.”

“Oh, that I could spend every moment of my life to God’s glory!”

“It is sweet to be nothing and less than nothing that Christ may be all in all.”

A Short Biography

David Brainerd (April 20, 1718 – October 9, 1747) was an American missionary to the Native Americans.

Brainerd was born in Haddam, Connecticut. He was orphaned at fourteen and had an experience that intensified his dedication to Christianity at age 21 in 1739. Shortly after, he enrolled at Yale, but was expelled his junior year for privately saying of a college tutor, “He has no more grace than this chair”. Although his contemporaries, Jonathon Edwards, Wesley and George Whitefield attempted to re-enroll him, he was continuously turned away. The episode grieved Brainerd, but some two months later, on his 24th birthday, he wrote in his journal, “…I hardly ever so longed to live to God and to be altogether devoted to Him; I wanted to wear out my life in his service and for his glory …”

The University later named a building after Brainerd (Brainerd Hall at Yale Divinity School), the only building on the Yale University campus to be named after a student who was expelled.

He then prepared for the ministry, being licensed to preach in 1742, and early in 1743 decided to devote himself to missionary work among the Native Americans. Supported by the Scottish “Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge,” he worked first at Kaunaumeek, an Indian settlement about 20 miles from Stockbridge, Massachusetts, and subsequently, until his death, among the Delaware Indians in Pennsylvania (near Easton) and New Jersey (near Cranbury). His heroic and self-denying labors, both for the spiritual and for the temporal welfare of the Indians, wore out a naturally feeble constitution, and on October 9, 1747 he died at the house of his friend, Jonathan Edwards, in Northampton, Massachusetts. Brainerd is believed to have died of tuberculosis.

He made a handful of converts, but became widely known in the 1800s due to books about him. His Journal was published in two parts in 1746 by the Scottish Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge; and in 1749, at Boston, Jonathan Edwards published An Account of the Life of the Late Rev. David Brainerd, chiefly taken from his own Diary and other Private Writings, which has become a missionary classic. A new edition, with the Journal and Brainerd’s letters embodied, was published by Sereno E. Dwight at New Haven in 1822; and in 1884 was published what is substantially another edition, The Memoirs of David Brainerd, edited by James M Sherwood. Brainerd’s writings contain substantial meditation on the nature of the illness that eventually led to his death and its relation to his ties with God. (www.wikipedia.com)

(Part 6) Heaven: Living "here" in light of "there"

“Until you have found something worth dying for, you have not found something worth living for!”

“Out of all the eternal ages of our existence as God’s children, these tiny years here on earth have a destiny that can never be repeated. The Bible tells us that in the stench of a sick and rotting world we are perfume bottles for the fragrance of Christ (2 Corinthians 2:15). In the gathering darkness we shine as stars (Philippians 2:15). If only we could grasp the awesome implications of these few years!”

(David Needham, from his book Birthright)

Living with an eternal perspective should motivate and encourage us to live our lives responsibly and as good stewards of God’s many blessings.

Contrary to modern secular thought, the primary goal of life here on earth is not to “live it to the fullest” and to “experience maximum fun and adventure.” Not that there is anything wrong with fun and adventure in and of themselves; they are simply not the main objective of life.

In 2 Corinthians 5:9-10 the Apostle Paul tells us that we as Christians will stand before the judgment seat of Christ (the Greek word is bema) to give an account of the stewardship of our time, talent and treasure. At the judgment seat of Christ, we will receive rewards or face the loss of rewards based upon what we did with our life and the works we did while we lived here on earth. This judgment is not for salvation (heaven or hell), but rather for believers in Christ only.

This does not mean that we are saved by works. We are not! Ephesians 2:8-10 and Titus 3:3-5 make that abundantly clear! Scripture teaches that we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone! But, Scripture also says, how we live our life after we come to Christ and what we do with our time, talent and treasure is eternally important!

“So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” (2 Corinthians 5:9-10)

Over in Romans 14 the Apostle Paul says it this way…

“Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written, ‘As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.’ So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.”

This reminds me of a story that appeared in the February 1998 issue of Readers Digest.  The article spoke about a couple “that took early retirement from their jobs in the Northeast five years ago when he was 59 and she was 51. Now they live in Punta Gorda, Florida, where they cruise on their 30-foot trawler, play softball and collect shells…” Picture this couple standing before Christ at the great day of judgment: “Look, Lord. See my shells.”

I’m convinced that “until you have found something worth dying for, you have not found something worth living for!”

Solomon, best known for his immense riches and wisdom, said in the book of Ecclesiastes (after trying to find meaning and happiness in every conceivable way) “Life apart from God is empty and meaningless…life only makes sense and has value when lived with God at the center.” (my paraphrase)

Throughout my life, one of my greatest fears has been that I would waste my life. Waste it on things that many would consider to be very good, but ultimately not eternally important. I remember hearing these well known words growing up as a young boy…

“Only one life,

‘Twill soon be past;

Only what’s done

for Christ will last.”

According to Scripture, only two things in life last forever – 1) The souls of people, and 2) God’s Word.  I think Joni Eareckson Tada said it well when she wrote…

“When a Christian realizes his citizenship is in heaven, he begins acting as a responsible citizen of earth. He invests wisely in relationships because he knows they’re eternal. His conversations, goals, and motives become pure and honest because he realizes these will have a bearing on everlasting reward. He gives generously of time, money, and talent because he’s laying up treasures for eternity. He helps spread the good news of Christ because he longs to fill heaven’s ranks with his friends and neighbors.”

Scripture says in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 that “you are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”

John Piper in his excellent book Don’t Waste Your Life, after having just quoted the above verses writes…

“I have written this book to help you taste those words (1 Cor. 6:19-20) as sweet instead of bitter or boring.” And then he goes on to say…

“If you are a Christian, you are not your own. Christ has bought you at the price of his own death. You now belong doubly to God: He made you, and he bought you. That means your life is not your own. It is God’s. Therefore, the Bible says, ‘Glorify God in your body.’ God made you for this. He bought you for this. This is the meaning of your life.”

And then he writes these very profound words…

“It was not always plain to me that pursuing God’s glory would be virtually the same as pursuing my joy. Now I see that millions of people waste their lives because they think these paths are two and not one.”

“God created us to live with a single passion: to joyfully display his supreme excellence in all the spheres of life. The wasted life is the life without this passion. God calls us to pray and think and dream and plan and work not to be made much of, but to make much of Him in every part of our lives.

Most people slip by in life without a passion for God, spending their lives on trivial diversions, living for comfort and pleasure, and perhaps trying to avoid sin. Don’t get caught up in a life that counts for nothing. My challenge to you is to live and die boasting in the cross of Christ and making the glory of God your singular passion.”

Remember: you have one life. That’s all. You were made for God. Don’t waste it!

(Part 5) Heaven: Living "here" in light of "there"


As I write this, I have just returned from the funeral service for fallen Phoenix Police Officer, Travis Murphy. Travis is the nephew of some long time friends of ours, Dale and Theresa Crull. Officer Murphy was only 29 years old and had a young daughter and a two-week-old son. As you can imagine, his dear wife is heartbroken. Our prayers and sympathy go out to Travis’ entire family.

Thankfully, Travis knew Christ as his Savior and had been born-again (John 3) years before.

As I continue this week in my series on “Heaven: Living here in light of there,” I want to focus a few thoughts that I pray will bring encouragement to your hearts.

As believers in Christ, having an eternal perspective should do two things for us and in us: 1) bring comfort to our hearts and 2) responsibility in how we live.  This week, my focus is bringing “comfort” to our hearts.

A passage of Scripture that I have had memorized now for over 30 years and that has ministered to me time and time again as I have gone through hard times is 2 Corinthians 4:16-18. Here are these three “choice” verses…

“Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (NASB)

Or as Romans 8:18 says…

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”

Knowing that in heaven we will “rest from our labors” (Revelation 14:13) brings comfort. Life this side of heaven is often tiresome, tedious, painful and discouraging.  Heaven reminds us that one day all of the “tiresome, tedious, painful, discouraging moments” will be eternally over, never to return! Only joy, happiness, peace, love, grace, kindness, righteousness and goodness will be present – forever! You will never be disappointed, discouraged, depressed or deceived ever again. You will never sin or make a wrong or unwise choice ever again! Imagine living in perfect righteousness every moment of every day – forever!

As the psalmist describes life in God’s presence…

“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11)

C. S. Lewis said this about heaven…

“Joy is the serious business of heaven….In heaven, we will be strong, radiant, wise, beautiful and drenched in joy!”

According to Scripture, when we have a heavenly perspective, it takes the “sting” out of losing temporal possessions here on earth. The writer of Hebrews, speaking to believers who had gone through severe persecution and who had been imprisoned for their faith in Christ, said…

“You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions [in heaven]!”  (Hebrews 10:34)

Imagine someone coming in and taking all your earthly possessions away – house, car, furniture, valuables…everything – and “joyfully” accepting it! How could a person do that? Because they “knew that they had better and lasting possessions [in heaven]!”

According to Hebrews 11, Abraham had a heavenly perspective as he went through life…

“For he [Abraham] was looking forward to the city that has  foundations, whose designer and builder is God…having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth…But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one.” (Hebrews 11:10, 13b, 16a)

My encouragement to you this week is: wake up each day with heaven on your mind (Colossians 3:1-4). And allow that eternal reality to bring you comfort as you go through your day…knowing that whatever trials and tribulations, problems or pains that you may be facing, in comparison to eternity, they will be over before you know it!

An eternal perspective: It makes all the difference in the world!

Live “here” in light of “there!”

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