When I heard about Michael’s passing, I immediately let various people know who he used to minister with at our MFOT conferences, including Paul Haglin and Phil Buechler in America. (It was Michael who first took Phil Buechler to Indonesia and introduced him to ministering in that part of the world. Accustomed as he was to being in the presence of the power of the Spirit, I remember Phil saying, ‘Turn it down a bit, Lord, I can’t cope with that much power!” Phil was in touch with the people caring for Michael until near the end in Singapore.)
For many years Paul used to work very closely with John and Paula Sandford. That couple, who have also played a major part in our own pilgrimage, put their success of their ministry down to various factors – especially in terms of refusing to allow themselves to feel any feelings that Jesus Himself could not entertain.
They knew they absolutely had to refuse to entertain any dreams or resentments that would lead them into harmful ways of thinking and acting, and they looked out for any sign of such things. It is so worthwhile, and pleasing to the Lord, to ask Him and each other to warn us when we are in danger of yielding ground to these tendencies.
This means exercising considerable inner discipline, not least in saying no to the temptation to hold grudges and resentments and so indulging the victim spirit.
John and Paula understood that Kingdom life is all about us becoming lesser so that He can thrive more – and that those who lose their life for His sake are those who will truly find it.
John and Paula recognised that to some extent, well directed will-power alone could make much progress in that respect, but the key to their ministry was to pray without ceasing about everything, as Paul enjoins on us in 1 Thess. 5:16-18. So profoundly was John able to do this that I remember that even while he was preaching to at the meetings we had arranged for him to minister to the joint churches in Chester that he was bearing a strong burden in his spirit to pray for the Philippines, because the Lord had shown him that an earthquake was about to strike.
A cricketer spends hours at nets, so that when he faces a ball for real in a match, he doesn’t waste time deciding how to play it: the instinct born of long training takes over. Just so do we bring all matters to the Lord, at all times, any times, so that we are available to Him at all times.
Not acting in a wrong way is good, still greater is it if they can discern what it is that the Lord is asking them to do in any given situation. May the Lord enable us to do just this, again and again.