I Have Decided

Full disclosure – this is a sad story…

Last week I was invited to teach at a conference for pastors and Bible college students in South Asia.

Right before my session, the worship leader stood up and told this story…

About 150 years ago, there was a great revival in Wales. As a result of this, many missionaries came to north-east India to spread the Gospel. The region known as Assam was comprised of hundreds of tribes who were primitive and aggressive head-hunters

Into these hostile and aggressive communities, came a group of missionaries from the American Baptist Missions spreading the message of love, peace and hope in Jesus Christ. Naturally, they were not welcomed. One missionary succeeded in converting a man, his wife, and two children. This man’s faith proved contagious and many villagers began to accept Christianity. 

Angry, the village chief summoned all the villagers. He then called the family who had first converted to renounce their faith in public or face execution. Moved by the Holy Spirit, the man instantly composed a song which became famous down the years. He sang:

“I have decided to follow Jesus.

I have decided to follow Jesus.

I have decided to follow Jesus.

No turning back, no turning back.”

Enraged at the refusal of the man, the chief ordered his archers to arrow down the two children. As both boys lay twitching on the floor, the chief asked, “Will you deny your faith? You have lost both your children. You will lose your wife too.”

But the man sang these words in reply:

“Though no one joins me, still I will follow.

Though no one joins me, still I will follow.

Though no one joins me, still I will follow.

No turning back, no turning back.”

The chief was beside himself with fury and ordered his wife to be arrowed down. In a moment she joined her two children in death. Now he asked for the last time, “I will give you one more opportunity to deny your faith and live.”In the face of death the man sang the final memorable lines:

“The cross before me, the world behind me.

The cross before me, the world behind me.

The cross before me, the world behind me.

No turning back, no turning back.”

He was shot dead like the rest of his family. But with their deaths, a miracle took place. The chief who had ordered the killings was moved by the faith of the man. He wondered, “Why should this man, his wife and two children die for a Man who lived in a far-away land on another continent some 2,000 years ago? There must be some remarkable power behind the family’s faith, and I too want to taste that faith.”

In a spontaneous confession of faith, he declared, “I too belong to Jesus Christ!” When the crowd heard this from the mouth of their chief, the whole village accepted Christ as their Lord and Saviour.

The song is based on the last words of Nokseng, a man from Garo tribe of Assam (now Meghalaya and some in Assam), India. It is today the song of the Garo people.

Source: Dr. P.P. Job in ‘Why God Why’


There was a stunned silence in the room.

Everybody knew this song, but very few people know the story to it.

The worship team then led us all in this song, and it was hauntingly beautiful. For us to be in the region where this took place, and having all made that same confession, was so powerful. There was barely a dry eye in the house.

Today there is no need for a challenging personal question, or a point to ponder, or a prayer of confession. Just read that story again, and listen to this song…

Psalm 121 – Moving Forwards – 6

5 The Lord is your keeper;

    the Lord is your shade on your right hand.

6 The sun shall not strike you by day,

    nor the moon by night.

Do you know, as with sunstroke, too much time in the sun and you feel ill, people believe that moonstroke is the same? There is also a thing called starstroke, apparently…

Whether these two things are solid, medically proven conditions or whether they are superstitions, any superstitious fears are of no concern to those whom God protects. He keeps, preserves, and protects all day and all night.

James Montgomery Boice said

“What the psalmist really means, though in figurative language, is that nothing either of the day or night can harm us if God is keeping guard. God is our covering against every calamity. He is our shade against the visible perils of the day as well as the hidden perils of the night.”

The main point here is that our help comes from God, and God alone, against things we see, and against things we don’t see, and everything in between.

What a peace this brings; everything that happens to us day to day, week to week, month to month, and year to year, is known to Almighty God. 

Now, this isn’t to say that when you submit and commit to the Lord that your life is gonna be a sweet smelling, soft touch, bed of roses, no, that is not what the Bible says, but we do know that everything that happens to us, around us, and involving us has been Divinely ordained;

God knows…God knows, God cares, God guides, God decides…

So whatever we are moving forwards to He knows, He cares, He guides, and He decides.

Decisions to make?

Photo by John-Mark Smith on Pexels.com

​“The mere reading of the Word of God has power to communicate the life of God to us mentally, morally, and spiritually.”

– Oswald Chambers

Living in this part of the world, you often hear people say ‘Insha’allah’, or, ‘God willing’. If you’ve lived here long enough you’ll know that this can actually mean a whole manner of things…

But, the notion of ‘If the Lord wills it’ is actually very Biblical (have a look at James 4.13-15 for example).

People then ask, ‘How can I know God’s will for my life?’, and that is a great question.

God (most usually) speaks to us in four ways…

Through prayer, through His Word, through circumstance, and through other believers.

So, if you’ve prayed about a big decision and nothing is happening, if other believers are unsure about the road you’re heading down, if everything about the circumstances points to a bad choice, and if you’re doing something that goes against how the Bible says we ought to live, its hard to say that God is in it. 

But, if you’ve spoken to other believers and they are positive, if all the circumstances align in a way you could never have engineered or even imagined, if you’re living in the light of His Word, and if you’re prayed up and God is opening doors, then what are you waiting for? 

He is speaking to you, He is opening a door for you, He is directing your steps. 

If we wait for the audible voice of God – Jesus’ baptism-style – we may be waiting a long time. 

Pray, read His Word, look around at how He is already working in your life, and talk to other believers…then go for it!

Finding God’s Will; 5. Others

In the last twelve to eighteen months, my family and I have been through some major changes. We had a second baby, added two four-legged friends into our lives, and we’ve moved house a couple of times. The biggest change for me was going from working part-time at the church alongside a full-time job in a local high school to working full-time at the church, taking over as the senior/solo/lead pastor (however you like to use those terms) in the summer of 2018.

Throughout the transition process, there were multiple people who would consistently and constantly tell me, “You’re going to do a great job as pastor, whether here or somewhere else.”, and “I am sure God’s plan for your life is to pastor a church.”. Hearing things like that at a time of huge change was reassuring, energising, edifying, but most importantly it was confirming. It was confirming of the consistent message I had been taking from God’s Word. It was consistent of what I had been hearing from the Lord in prayer. It was consistent with the circumstances and how God was moving in our midst.

Other believers within the church, and the church itself, can be vehicles through which God’s will for us is made known.

God’s global Church, capital C, the bride of Christ, the body of Christ, and all its local expressions, are God’s chosen vehicle to bless His people and to witness His Word, will, and ways to the nations in our time.

Considering this, it is only logical to think that God would speak through the church, through His church, to communicate His will.

When what God is saying to us through His Word, through prayer, through our circumstances, and through the Godly counsel of His church all line up, we can proceed with confidence that we are living within His will (Henry Blackaby).

Being members of a church family is so important, there is no independence when we consider our relation to other believers, only interdependence. All members of the body belong to each other, and all need each other.

Today, pray for your local church, the church family you are a part of. Pray for wise, Godly counsel to flow through it, pray the church is following God’s will, and pray for God to continue to speak through it.

When all four things we have talked about line up, it is hard to ignore the fact that God is speaking to you, He is revealing His will to you. When this happens, there is only one response…go for it! If you are not sure, reach out to someone who you trust for counsel. Counsel doesn’t have to be a scary word; lots and lots of great counsel is done coffee-cup counsel style, some is done face to face, some over the phone. But, if there is something you are not sure about, do reach out to someone to talk about it.

So, God reveals His will to us through;

His Word to us,

Prayer,

Circumstances, and,

Others.

Seek it, find it, and live in it!

Finding God’s Will; 4. Circumstances

If we truly believe that God is omnipotent, omnibenevolent, and sovereign, then we will trust that our circumstances can show us His will. That is to say, if we believe God is all powerful, all loving, and in control of His creation, then He can and will direct our lives.

However, circumstance alone cannot show us His will. What if we make a bad choice and get involved with some things that God’s Word to us tells us He would never be involved with, is that His will for us? No. Rather, like building blocks in the hands of a toddler, circumstance must be added to the tower of truth we are building, added to what God reveals to us through His Word and through prayer.

Circumstance can be a powerful thing, though. If you are 6’ 4” and 120 kg, you come from a family of international rugby players, love contact sport, your circumstances would suggest that a career as a ballerina or a jockey is not on the cards. If you have a inbuilt innate interest for biochemistry, choosing to study law at university is not for you, is it. Circumstances would suggest your future lies elsewhere.

What is going on around us, if we pay attention, can help to reveal God’s will to us. At each point of my life for the first 20 years, I thought I was making the choices, I was deciding where I would go and what I would do. Deep down I had this desire to pastor, but never really did anything about it. Then, when I let go and asked God to show me what I should be doing and where I should be doing it, circumstances moved in such a way that I could not have chosen, planned, or even dreamed. The combination of the circumstances, His Word, and much prayer (plus the final element we will talk about next time) helped me to see what God wanted me to be doing, and where He wanted me to be doing it. So, how do we do it, how do we look at our circumstances from a God’s-will-finding-perspective? Henry Blackaby offers this;

Ask God to show you His perspective on what is already happening. Look back at your situation through the lens of what you know about God. The Holy Spirit will help you go to the Word and see the truth of the circumstances from God’s perspective. You adjust our lives accordingly, and begin the process again.

Looking back can be so helpful, both physically and spiritually. In Joshua 4 stones are set up as a physical reminder, but we can also look back to times when God has guided us spiritually, the direction we took, the outcome, and this can then help us move forward more certain of His will this time around.

So, if we focus solely on the circumstances, that’s not the entire truth of the situation. Circumstances are important, to be sure, but they are the third piece of the puzzle so far, along with His Word and prayer. Next time, we add the final piece to this – other believers and the church.