Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Call is To Publish!!

This post has been brewing for quite some time and it was prompted by a rather aggressive person who emailed me. They obviously don't like me or what I do or something and asked why I "waste so much time typing other people's stuff ... is it because I've got nothing to say myself?". Ha ha! Well ... anyone who knows me well will know that I never shut up. But underneath the aggression I felt there was a fair point there. Why DO I spend so much time "typing other people's 'stuff'?". It's for a good reason and it all began with a prophecy that Pete Day had many years ago soon after we had met.

The context was when I was living in my parents in Bristol and Pete came to visit me. As is our custom we spent time in my bedroom together praying and waiting on God and suddenly out of the blue, Pete prophesied that "the call was to publish". We didn't really know what it meant. At the time we were thinking about the vast amount of Ern Baxter tapes I had in my possession and felt that God was asking that I begin typing it up. I did so and have published several series of Ern Baxter's sermons including some interviews called "Life on Wings". Also a series of sermons that he preached at our church's Anglia Bible Week called "The Priestly Clothing".

That call has broadened slightly into typing up Rob Rufus's incredible ministry which is here on the "Rob Rufus - Grace and Glory!" blog. So why do it?

To explain that I want to use an analogy from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I know - I love shocking people! I've used analogies from computer games (apologies to Chris!) and from pop songs. Now Harry Potter. I make no apology for the fact that I love these series of books. I don't believe at all that they are a tool of the devil to try and tempt young people into witchcraft but rather a useful circumstance that demonstrates the thirst for the supernatural. I'm guessing most who read this blog won't know what I am talking about so I will try and explain. Please bear with me and I think you will understand why the analogy is so appropriate.

Most know I am sure that Harry is a wizard and spends most of the books at a place called "Hogwarts School". What some may not know is that an unusual feature of the school is that virtually every wall in the school is lined with portraits of those long-gone. But those portraits have the ability to talk and move about in their frames. They can speak with each other and the one viewing the portrait. They can also move from frame to frame through the school. However the portraits in the Headmaster's office - Professor Albus Dumbledore - are even more useful. Here's a short video clip to demonstrate what I mean:

The portraits can move to other locations (a house called Grimmauld Place and a hospital called St Mungos) but more specifically they; "are honour-bound to give service to the present headmaster". There is one point in the stories when Harry is coming up to Professor Dumbledore's office and he hears a lively conversation going on. However when he enters the office he founds only Dumbledore there and realises that Dumbledore has been conversing with the portraits. I could never figure out why this part of the story fascinated me and my proposition is this;

There is a wonderful similarity between the portrait concept and Christian books.

How so?

Hebrews 11:4; "By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks".

There is a sense in which those who have taken the time to capture their God-given ministry in book form can still speak to us down through the ages of church history even though they are in glory. It truly bothers me when I see gifted men and women alive today who have absolutely no interest in writing or in taking steps to preserve their ministry. I know that Dr Lloyd-Jones was resistant to writing out of a sense of true humility and I am sure that is probably the main reason why many do not.

For example it is my opinion that Dr Stanley Jebb is one of the most gifted preachers of God's Word in the United Kingdom today and I (along with others I am sure) have pleaded with him to write. He hasn't yet done so and it is my genuine fear that his ministry will be lost to history when he goes to glory. I pleaded with another former hero of mine to consider writing and he told me that he preferred "chatting over coffee". Again another ministry that may be lost and forgotten. I have always lamented the fact that Ern Baxter didn't write more books than he did or that his spiritual sons did not take steps to ensure that his ministry was written down.

What about audio and video ministry you may say? Well that's true - we have much to thank the Charismatic Movement for the appearance of audio ministry. It's incredible that Rob Rufus can preach a sermon in Hong Kong and a few hours later I can hear it here in the United Kingdom! But I considered the pros and cons of audio ministry a few years back and noted;

Benefits of the Spoken Word.

1. It is Accessible.

Many busy church members who have careers or jobs do not simply have the time to sit down with a book and read it and absorb it. The cassette tape enabled the message to be heard in commuters cars, while a housewife was cleaning and cooking or even when one was gardening.

2. It is Affordable.

Many quality hardback books are becoming more and more expensive with the average Banner of Truth book ranging from £15 upwards. More scholarly commentaries cost even more - sometimes upto £75. The cassette tape has traditionally always costed at most £3. This means that anyone - practically anyone - can afford it and ensure the material spoken is preserved and heard again and again. Furthermore most ministries make their MP3's free online nowadays.

3. It is Ascendible.

The cassette tape often preserves the "live atmosphere" of a meeting that is not always possible in a book format. Particularly in the heady days of the 1970's when the Charismatic Renewal was at its height, thousands of tapes of the Dales Bible Week and other conferences would go flying around the world. When listening to a tape, you can almost picture yourself present and there, and something of the spirit of the meeting is preserved.

Cons To the Spoken Word.

1. It is Easily Forgotten.

While the audiotape is easily accessible, it is often possible to hear a particuarly moving quote or outstanding point and if one is involved in other activities, it is sometimes almost impossible to re-wind the tape and hear the quote again. Or when re-accounting the message to friends or family, it is sometimes very hard to remember the exact quote made.

2. It is Easily Lost.

Despite the advent of the CD, it is still extremely hard to identify and find material on the tape that one wishes, whereas in a book - the pages can be flipped and the quote traced and found.

3. It is Easily Destroyed.

Audiotapes unfortunately do deteriorate with time and re-playing. While we are very grateful for the CD and the added bonus it brings, it is unquestionable that it is a massive project to transfer much of the material from the Charismatic Renewal of the 1970's onto CD or MP3's. Therefore there is a significant risk that much material may be lost from that particular moving of God.

So my feeling is that we need both to fully benefit from ministries past and present in the church! Why am I such a bibliophile? Because at times while sitting in my study or in Pete Day's office and sitting surrounded by books from wall to wall and from floor to ceiling - I feel like I am indeed surrounded by "so great a cloud of witnesses". And when I have a problem with Christian life or with church life - there are plenty of great men and women to go to and seek advice from! Rob Rufus's teaching has pointed me to verse after verse in the Bible that I taken a new look at. But there are so many great men sitting "on my bedroom wall" waiting to advise on their thoughts about the Word of God! I've checked out what Rob has said with the Puritans of the 17th and 18th centuries, with Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones, with John Stott, with C H Spurgeon.

Stanley Jebb pointed me to one of the best C H Spurgeon quotes on books. Commenting on 2 Timothy 4:13;

"How rebuked are they by the apostle! He is inspired, and yet he wants books! He has been preaching at least for thirty years, and yet he wants books! He had seen the Lord, and yet he wants books! He had had a wider experience than most men, and yet he wants books! He had been caught up into the third heaven, and had heard things which it was unlawful for a man to utter, yet he wants books! He had written the major part of the New Testament, and yet he wants books! The apostle says to Timothy and so he says to every preacher, "GIVE THYSELF UNTO READING."

The man who never reads will never be read; he who never quotes will never be quoted. He who will not use the thoughts of other men's brains, proves that he has no brains of his own. We are quite persuaded that the best way for you to be spending your leisure, is to be either reading or praying".

So I hope that gives a little insight into why I spend so much of my time transcribing mainly Ern Baxter and Rob Rufus's ministry. It was a response to the prophetic call from Pete Day and (as yet) I haven't heard the word "stop". I really enjoy doing it and find tremendous satisfaction from it. And I am utterly convinced and determined that Ern Baxter and Rob Rufus should not be forgotten to history. The revelation and anointing on their lives is just too important. Though Ern is dead - he must still speak. And most thrillingly of all - Rob Rufus is not bound by faux humility and has spoken of "books inside him that need to be written". Do you have Christian books? Make use of them! They are a true gift from God!


Peter Day said...

I wonder why someone would think it is a waste of time to transcribe glorious truth for people to read - be it truth being preached in Hong Kong today, or truth preached in a previous generation by folk like Ern Baxter. People are hungry for the truth - let them have it!!

Jon Sidnell said...

Of course, if you didn't write other people's thoughts you'd probably get attacked for writing your own "weird, crazy ideas" or asked why you're not teaching the same as this person's pastor/favourite author/legalist deceiver.

It was good to hear how you entered into this ministry of transcribing :) Keep on at it - it's definitely worth doing!!