What Repentance Truly Means

There was a day when I died; died to self, my opinions, preferences, tastes and will; died to the world, its approval or censure; died to the approval or blame even of my brethren or friends; and since then I have studied only to show myself approved unto God.
– George Mueller

Many mourn for their sins that do not truly repent of them, weep bitterly for them, and yet continue in love and league with them.
– Matthew Henry

True repentance is no light matter. It is a thorough change of heart about sin, a change showing itself in godly sorrow and humiliation, in heartfelt confession before the throne of grace, in a complete breaking off from sinful habits, and an abiding hatred of all sin. Such repentance is the inseparable companion of saving faith in Christ.
– J. C. Ryle

Unless you have made a complete surrender and are doing God’s will, it will avail you nothing, even if you’ve reformed a thousand times and have your name on fifty church records.
– Billy Sunday

Repentance, as we know, is basically not moaning and remorse, but turning and change.
– J. I. Packer

People who cover their faults and excuse themselves do not have a repentant spirit.
– Watchman Nee

God in Christ

God in nature is God above us; God in providence is God beyond us; and God in his law is God against us.

But God in Christ is God for us, God with us, and God in us.


– William Jay

Remembering a Friend


A delightful man’s body was buried under a beautiful tree in a lovely country cemetery in rural Kentucky this past Tuesday. Mike Morrow’s soul had taken its heavenly flight the previous Friday, and his earthly ‘tent’ was laid to rest in Union Cemetery, immediately beside the Union Baptist Church building, where Mike had pastored for sixteen years.

I use the word ‘delight’ about Mike Morrow. It might sound like a strange word to those who knew him to describe him as ‘delightful’, because he was a serious-minded, spiritually-minded, tested, deep Christian gentleman who had suffered deeply in life over the years. But I use that word intentionally simply because it was spiritually delightful and spiritually rich to be with him.

I cannot even remember the very first time I met Mike. It must have been around 2003 or 2004 when several of us went to Eastern Europe to do conferences for Heartcry Missionary Society in Romania and Ukraine. This began a deep and lasting friendship and bond of fellowship among the various preachers who began to labor together in Eastern Europe for a number of years. The times together there were tremendous, and the more we returned there over the years, and the more we saw the Lord do wonderful things in Eastern Europe, we developed a feeling well-expressed by Charles Leiter: “We somehow felt that those times [in Romania, Ukraine, and Moldova] would always continue.”

Mike Morrow’s last trip to Eastern Europe was last year, when he and Charles Leiter ministered there together again. It proved to be the last time they ever preached together, and the last time they saw one another on earth. 

It was in 2005 that Mike preached one of the greatest sermons I ever heard. It was at the Heartcry Missions Conference in Metropolis, Illinois. And it was one of the finest conferences Heartcry ever had. The conference theme was the attributes of God, and each sermon dealt with a different attribute of God or Christ. Mike’s message was the greatest sermon I have ever heard on the love of God in my 42 years as a Christian. There was a powerful movement of the Holy Spirit during the conference, with a long period of brokenness, tears, repentance, and confession of sin by many in the conference.

Mike’s preaching was always devotional, deep, theological, experiential, and pastoral. It was the presence of Christ upon him and his loving pastoral heart that made his ministry so edifying. But his heart of love and interest in people one-on-one was exceptional as well; some preachers, the more they are used of God, grow more aloof and unapproachable. But Mike never evidenced any of that. He was always humble; he loved people, was interested in anyone who approached him, and had a loving and kind heart, especially in nurturing, mentoring, and encouraging young preachers who would gather around him with questions.

Mike had a gift of speaking with spiritual authority on various subjects, whether when preaching or talking personally with a small group. When he spoke, wisdom was communicated and people listened. He was at his finest when gathered with a group of men who were talking about the things of God and the Bible. He was a man of the Holy Spirit; he knew what it meant to walk in the Spirit, commune with the Spirit, and preach in the power of the Spirit.

In the 2015 Fellowship Confence in Denton, Texas, Mike preached on gospel conversion and genuinely coming to Christ. That morning, he passionately exhorted everyone to make sure they had truly come to know the Saviour. It was one of the finer messages of the conference.

Five months later, in August, 2015, four of us had the privilege of preaching together in Maine at the Fellowship Conference New England, held annually in Portland, Maine. Tim Conway of San Antonio, Jesse Barrington of Dallas, preached the three-day conference with Mike Morrow during that first week of August. Mike preached three marvelous sermons: The Sovereignty of God and the Choices of Men, Seeing Him who is Invisible and Don’t Doubt in the Darkness what God Promised You in the Light. I sat on the front row, loving and soaking up his rich preaching that week, which was as good as any series I ever heard by him. Even toward the end of his life, his preaching was getting better and better. (The New England sermons of Mike Morrow are available to watch at www.fellowshipconferencenewengland.com.)

While making plans for New England, we decided we would spend some extra time together after the conference, so we planned a three day drive to various parts of New England, not only to see some church history sites, but also to share 3 days of friendship. If one doesn’t plan such times, they will not happen. So we planned and set aside three days after the conference was over. 

Tim, Mike, and I had three days of relaxed time, sharing long conversations, driving through the New England countryside, relaxing meals together, times of prayer, and visiting church history sites. It began on Sunday afternoon, as we drove south from Portland one hour to Newburyport, Massachusetts, to the Old South Church, founded in 1746 by George Whitefield. Here we saw the vault cript in the basement under the pulpit where Whitefield is buried, and we discussed the great revival that occurred under Whitefield’s ministry in the First Great Awakening.

We then drove one hour further south for the evening, sharing dinner at a New England inn. The next morning, we drove west to Northfield, Mass., the home and ministry site of D. L. Moody, the 19th century American evangelist. At Northfield, we saw his birth home and museum, the summer conference buildings, and the graves of Dwight and Emma Moody, which sit on a hill on the beautiful grounds. Our visit was approximately 2 hours long, spent with pleasure in looking at the history and museum of the anointed Moody, who pledged to be a man who was totally surrendered to God.

Next we drove another hour southwest to Northampton, Mass., and stood at the graves of Solomon Stoddard, grandfather of Jonathan Edwards, and also those of David Brainerd and Jerusha Edwards, Jonathan’s daughter. As we lingered in the cemetery, we reflected on the sacrificial and holy lives of Brainerd and the Edwards’ family. 
 
We then made our way southeast toward Boston, arriving mid-afternoon, and drove directly to Harvard University in the suburb of Cambridge, Mass. Harvard was founded through the financial gift of John Harvard in 1636. Harvard, a young British minister who came to the new world, lived only 31 years, and left his earthily means to be used for the establishment of the college for the purpose of training gospel preachers, which became Harvard College. 

Our visit at Harvard was brief, but heart-felt, as we thought of its gospel foundation and early heritage, as well as the powerful revivals that took place in past centuries locally, not only in the greater Boston area, but on that very campus, when during certain years of the 17th and 18th centuries, movements of the Holy Spirit swept across such colleges as Harvard and Yale. Oh, for God to do it again in our day!

We then shared our evening meal at a diner on the Harvard campus, famous for its Boston burgers, and then retired to our accommodations, for a relaxed visit until bedtime prayers. 

The next day, we toured Boston by trolley car, getting off and on all day around town, seeing what we wanted to see, including a boat ride around Boston Harbor, and some historic Boston churches. We were reminded that George Whitefield preached in Boston to at least 12 thousand or more people, at a time when the city’s population was only 14 thousand.

I have vivid memories of Mike, standing or sitting in the center of historic Boston one afternoon, and I remember thinking at the time how much he was taking in and enjoying it, and how thankful I was that we were there together. We then enjoyed a lunch down near Boston harbor, and hopped back on the trolley for another 4 hours of seeing more of the city’s history.

The final evening on Tuesday, we settled in earlier to enjoy a relaxed time to review and reflect on our entire week together and talk about how much we had enjoyed being together. We spoke of living life fully, and finishing well our Christian pilgrimage, regardless of what amount of time we had left. The next morning, on Wednesday, we then headed to the Boston airport, and parting ways for different flights home, we expressed love and appreciation for each other.

That was last August. Little did any of us know that now, eight quick months later, Mike would be in heaven. He had eight months still to live when we enjoyed New England together. After that week, he and I spoke on the phone and prayed together regularly, and we always remembered our New England time together. Now that he is gone, I miss him even more and am so thankful that we planned a time to enjoy friendship. 

When I realized in these recent weeks that Mike might not make it through his sickness, I felt more grateful for our friendship, sensing we were losing a great preacher and a dear friend; I also felt more thankful for the time we had planned to spend together. Then a week ago Friday, when I received the call telling me of his home going, I treasured him all afternoon, his life and ministry, and the memories even more. And I felt great peace and appreciation that we had not neglected our friendship. How I praise God for the life and legacy of Michael Morrow. Paul Washer said at the funeral last Tuesday: “Mike Morrow was one of the greatest men in the world.” Those who knew and love Mike Morrow feel the same.

We should make time to spend with those we love. It is a great lesson to learn and a great truth to realize, that life is not meant to be lived by rushing from one responsibility to another, rushing so much that we are always under pressure in our schedules and can never plan to be with dear friends. Such times have to be planned, and when they are, and when we have special times with such friends, we will never regret that we took time to enjoy and treasure such friendships.

Someone has said, “Give flowers to the living, so they can enjoy them, not to the dead, when they are already gone.” Leonard Ravenhill, in the same vein, used to say, “Do your giving while your living, do you’ll be knowing where its going.” Now is the time to choose the best and choose to show love to friends. Nine months ago, 2 friends wanted to spend some time together in New England, so we planned it. I am so glad today that we made that choice then.

— Mack Tomlinson

Elizabeth Prentiss – An Encouragement

Elizabeth Prentiss lived in a different century, but the challenges she faced, and the way she responded to those challenges, speak powerfully to us today.

Early in their married life, Elizabeth and her husband, George, suffered the loss of two of their six children. Eddie died at age five and Bessie died when just a few weeks old. In addition, Elizabeth experienced ongoing ill-health and insomnia through much of her life.  In 1857, George temporarily resigned his pastorate of a large New York church due to a health breakdown brought on by overwork. Shortly after he and Elizabeth resumed their duties in 1860, the Civil War commenced (1862-65), with all the accompanying heartbreak and suffering.

Elizabeth was a prolific writer of letters, stories, poems, hymns, novels and children’s books, but the impulse behind all of her writing was pastoral. She believed that there are resources in Christ to meet every challenge and comfort every grief. She discovered in her own experience that the deeper the heartbreak, the deeper one can be drawn into experience of the love of God. The greater the challenge, the more one can grow in confidence in the still greater goodness of God. She wanted to point others to those never-failing resources of grace.

She could testify that it is when we surrender to the will of God, and trust his sovereign wisdom in every circumstance, that the worst trials can be transformed into the richest times of fellowship with God. She wrote:

God never places us in any position in which we can not grow. We may fancy that He does. We may fear we are so impeded by fretting, petty cares that we are gaining nothing; but when we are not sending any branches upward, we may be sending roots downward. Perhaps in the time of our humiliation, when everything seems a failure, we are making the best kind of progress.

As a busy mother and pastor’s wife, Elizabeth found that the busyness, interruptions and difficulties of everyday life are the ‘school of Christ’, where we learn to react with patience and good humor. At times she felt as if her family life was falling to pieces, as she didn’t have the physical resources or energy she longed for to make a peaceful and well-organized home. But in the midst of all of it, she was well-known for her warm welcome, generous hospitality, sense of humor, and her artistic gifts.

I have been inspired by Elizabeth Prentiss as one of the most ‘real’ role models of practical holiness I have ever come across. She discovered that the harsh realities of everyday life, far from hindering our growth in grace, can be the means by which we grow. The theme of her life is summed up in these words:

 

To love Christ more – this is the deepest need and the constant cry of my soul.  Down at the bowling ally, out in the woods, on my bed, or out driving, when I am happy and busy, and when I am sad and idle, the whisper keeps going up for more love, more love, more love!

 

– Sharon James

Some Wisdom from Mike Morrow

– Everything of eternal value is birthed out of pain and suffering.

– Christ mediates a new covenant for us. The new covenant  is not ‘I will if you will,’ but ‘I will, I will, I will.

– Longsuffering and patience means having a long fuse before you blow up.

– Pray that the Spirit of God will come upon you.

– Some people say we should not glean doctrine from the Book of Acts. I say: ‘All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness’ (2 Tim 3:16).

– Mike Morrow

Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. (Matthew 5:8) 

Purity, even purity of heart, is the main thing to be aimed at. We need to be made clean within through the Spirit and the Word, and then we shall be clean without by consecration and obedience. There is a close connection between the affections and the understanding: if we love evil we cannot understand that which is good. If the heart is foul, the eye will be dim. How can those men see a holy God who love unholy things?

What a privilege it is to see God here! A glimpse of Him is heaven below! In Christ Jesus the pure in heart behold the Father. We see Him, His truth, His love, His purpose, His sovereignty, His covenant character, yea, we see Himself in Christ. But this is only apprehended as sin is kept out of the heart. Only those who aim at godliness can cry, “Mine eyes are ever towards the Lord.” The desire of Moses, “I beseech thee, show me thy glory,” can only be fulfilled in us as we purify ourselves from all iniquity. We shall “see him as he is,” and “every one that hath this hope in him purifieth himself.” The enjoyment of present fellowship and the hope of the beatific vision are urgent motives for purity of heart and life. Lord, make us pure in heart that we may see Thee!

– C. H. Spurgeon

Brokenness and Blessing

The Bible is full of great words for God’s warriors. They sound like trumpets. But there are other words that speak very quietly deep within us. Perhaps there are some who are sorely tempted because of the hardness of the work entrusted to them. That which they had hoped for has not happened. Perhaps they feel they cannot go on. At such times, just listen and you will hear the quiet words I am speaking of. They speak of brokenness: “Blow ye the trumpets . . . . and they blew the trumpets, and broke the pitchers.” (Judges 7:18-19) Then Mark 14:3 speaks of “an alabaster box of ointment, very precious–and she broke the box”; Then “Jesus took and blessed, and broke, and gave.” (Matthew 14:19). And 1 Corinthians 11:24- “My body, which is broken for you.”

Broken pitchers– and the light shined out.
Broken box– and the ointment poured forth.
Broken bread– and the hungry were fed.
A broken body– and the world was redeemed.

As Thou wast broken, O my Lord, for me,
Let me be broken, Lord, for love of Thee.

– Amy Carmichael
 
Does it seem like all God is doing with you lately is breaking you? Then it is only to making you a blessing to others, to make you broken bread and poured-out wine to give life to others–death in us, that there might be life in others. It hurts in the present, but it is so sweet and good afterwards.
– Mack Tomlinson

The Praise of Men is a Snare


“A man is tried by his praise.” (RV) – Proverbs 27:21
 
Will you ponder that word? How does praise affect you? Are you lifted up by it or are you humbled by it? Does it make you feel, “I must be a special person”, or “How little the one who speaks like that knows me.” Does praise wrongly affect you? Does it make you more careless or more careful? Do you take it to yourself, or lay it at His feet, to whom alone any good in you is due? Because what do we have that we have not received? Those, and many other questions will come to your mind when those words come to mind–“a man is tried by his praise.” When God allows you to be tried by personal praise, what comes out of that crucible–gold or dross?
If a person is tried by personal praise, I think they are equally tested by the way they received blame. When someone tells us of something wrong in us, how do we take it? Do we wonder if someone spoke to them about us? Do we make excuses or blame someone else?
Jesus said, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing.” (John 8:24) This word strikes deep. It cuts through all self-praise, all pleasure in praise, and taking home to our hearts what others say of us. That subtle thing–spiritual flattery–I believe the only safe place for praise of any sort is in the dust at the foot of the Cross. I am not speaking of the encouraging word that a captain speaks to his soldiers, or a worker to his fellow-workers, or a teacher to children. I am thinking of that deadly thing of of the praise of man that brings a snare and not a blessing. It is the acceptance of that which wrecks the soul. Our Lord utterly refused it, ignored it, and turned from it. It was less than nothing to him.

– Amy Carmichael 

The Glory of God revealed

The glory of God revealed in all creation

 

‘Lord, Open their Eyes’

Australian missionaries Jocelyn and Ken Elliott, both in their 80s, had been running a hospital for some four decades in the town of Djibo in the West African country of Birkina Faso when they were captured by an al Qaeda-linked terrorist group over a month ago and are believed to have been held in neighbouring Niger. A spokesman for that country’s President said Mrs Elliott ‘was freed following mediation led by the President of Niger, Mahamadou Issoufou, and presented to the press in Dosso.’ He added that efforts to release her husband, who worked as a surgeon, were being intensified.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Dr Elliott says their work has been meeting a need physically, but their ultimate aim is to show the love of God.
The fate of Dr Elliott is not known at the time of writing (13 February) but many are praying for his soon release and ability to take up again the cause so dear to his heart.
Meanwhile Mrs Elliott has expressed her love for these poverty-stricken people and her desire to return to Djibo and restart the work as soon as possible. She joins a noble company of missionary wives determined to continue their husbands’ work. There was that other Elliot family, Jim and Elisabeth. Some 60 years ago Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, Pete Fleming, Ed McCully and Roger Youderian went out to reach the Huaorani tribe of eastern Ecuador. All five of the men were killed by the tribe and martyred. Elisabeth Elliot went back with Nate Saint’s sister, Rachel Saint. Elisabeth, with her daughter Valerie, stayed a short while but Rachel stayed all her life. In time they rejoiced to see the conversion of the very men who had killed Elisabeth’s husband and Rachel Saint’s brother. Their eyes had been opened.
Then there were Gladys Staines and her daughter Esther. Graham Staines, one of the Lord’s choice saints, and his little boys Philip and Timothy were martyred one night in India by an enraged Hindu mob who set fire to their vehicle as they slept in it while attending a Christian convention. Gladys and Esther went back to Mayurbhan, and for a number of years continued the work among lepers in which the family had been engaged.
Long ago, at the dawn of the Reformation, William Tyndale made a translation of the Bible into the English language of his day. For his pains Tyndale was arrested and imprisoned, tried for heresy and treason in an unfair trial, and convicted. Tyndale was then strangled and burnt at the stake in the prison yard, on 6 October 1536. His last words were, ‘Lord, open the King of England’s eyes.’ This prayer was answered three years later, in the publication of King Henry VIII’s 1539 English Great Bible – and the rest, as they say, is history.
In today’s world, ‘the god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the Gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God’ (2 Corinthians 4.4). And therein lies the tragedy – that adherents of other religions, as well as adherents of none, are so blind to the goodness and love of God as seen in the labours of His faithful servants that they remain blind, ‘lost and dead in (their) trespasses and sins’, and will not see the boundless love of God in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Our earnest and concerted prayers must be that the Lord will open the eyes of all who are blind in their minds ‘so that they cannot see the light of the Gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God’. We must pray that they would turn from their wicked ways to saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and receive the blessings of belief; not forgetting to pray that all who labour for Him will stand firm in their faith and ‘will not grow weary in well-doing, but know that in due time they will reap a reward.’
— Bob Thomas