Kay Arthur: Extreme Adventures with God
Craig von Buseck
CBN.com Contributing Writer
Craig von Buseck: Tell me a little bit about the fundamentals. What are some of the things that you do on a daily basis with the Lord that you say, no one should live without this.
Kay Arthur: The fundamentals are laid down for us in Acts when it says we must give ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the Word (Acts 6:4).
You've heard somebody say this, we are birds with two wings and we can't fly without both wings -- and one is the Word and one is prayer. Those are the basic fundamentals. God is communicating with me through His Word. And I'm communicating to Him through prayer.
So I think that guarding that time -- this is the danger in ministry and in life, and one of the things I'm asking Him for is more quiet with Him. I'm talking about quiet without feeling the pressure that you have to get up, that you have to go, that you have to write, that you have to produce. But it is lingering in His presence. Being still and knowing that He is God (Ps. 46:10).
So many times when I'm just sitting there and reading my Bible and seeing what God says, wherever I am, then I think, really, what is all this other stuff. It's nothing. It doesn't matter if you're popular or not popular. Whether you're on this many stations, or you write this many books -- that's not what it's about. It's about God and it's about knowing Him, and knowing Him so well that you're directed by Him, instead of your own desires.
So I think that it's essential that somewhere in our lives that we have this place where we're out from under the pressure. He says 'be still and know that I am God.' 'Cease striving' is what 'be still' means. Relax and know that I'm God. This is the primary essential.
David said in the Psalms, in the morning and in the night, I anticipate the night watches (Ps. 119:147). Getting up with Him, going to bed with Him -- do whatever is necessary to develop a consciousness of God. Develop that thinking and dependence so that if you or I have an interview, we seek Him. If I go to write or to study, if I'm in a business meeting, that I remember it's God -- that I pause, not as a routine, but as a necessity to seek God. (For more, see Kay's book How to Study Your Bible)
Craig von Buseck: You have been a champion for inductive Bible study. How does that tie in to what you're talking about?
Kay Arthur: We don't live well on second-hand knowledge. We're not willing to lay down our lives or stand in the face of opposition if we do not know, that we know, that we know. If I only know it because my church said it, but I am not absolutely sure that this is God, then I am likely to buckle. Inductive study teaches you how to slow down, how to observe the text so that you see what God is really saying -- so that you don't just read and forget, but that you really see what He's saying. You understand and you grapple.
It's like you and I are having a discussion, and it takes a while, and it takes explaining. I just finished writing portions on Micah, and Hosea, and Habakkuk, and Nahum, and Obadiah -- and those books are not easily understood. You must ask, 'what is He saying in Micah, how is He unfolding these things?'
You just read, and you read. But as you keep discussing, and looking, and studying, then the very grappling of it makes it yours. Inductive study is teaching you how to slow down, observe the text, wrestle with and understand the context and the message so that you interpret accurately, and then you apply it, either by changing your doctrinal thinking or the way that you behave.
Craig von Buseck: You began your ministry in 1970, so you've seen a lot. You've seen the good. You've seen the bad. You've seen the ugly, and you've seen the beautiful. What are some of the timeless truths from the Bible that have endured for you?
Kay Arthur: In the light of all that I've been through, the thing that is the most solid for me is the understanding that the book that I hold in my hands, because it's a good translation of the original text, is the very words of God. And it's like no other book in the whole world, because this is pure, unadulterated truth.
So when I open this book and when I read these words, I'm communicating with my Father and I'm hearing truth from Him. And it's the precepts by which I live, it's the precepts by which I get understanding, it's the precepts that cause me then through that understanding of truth to hate every false way. As I read that book, I realize that there are 66 books there -- 66 books that God has given to man, and He intends for us to know all 66 books.
If I want a complete understanding of Him, I can't just read sporadically. I can't read the Bible out of context. I can't be satisfied with knowing one or two books, because if He gave us 66 books then we need to know 66 books. And so my quest, my passion, is to know the whole counsel of God -- and in knowing the whole counsel of God, to help other people know the whole counsel of God for themselves.
Once you know that this is truth, then it doesn't matter what the world says. It doesn't matter where the culture's going. It only matters that you answer the question, 'Is this in accord with the Word of God?' And if it's not, I'm not going to buy it. I'm going to order my life according to the Word.
As I read the Word and study it, especially the Old Testament, I get to know God. I get to know His character and understand His ways. Moses said to God, 'Teach me your ways, that I might know you.'
I know that Daniel 11:32b in the New American Standard says that the people who know their God will be able to stand firm and they will able to take action. What we need to do today is we need to stand firm no matter what's happening. And then we need to know what action we're to take.
As I study the Word of God, I find that you get to know God in the Old Testament -- that's where He reveals himself through all these events of history. As you watch Him in His dealings with Israel, in His dealings with the kings, with the prophets, with the individuals, and with the nations, you get to know Him.
The thing that I love is that His sovereignty rules over all. The truth that has enabled me to handle whatever has come into my life is the fact that God is sovereign. Everything that comes into my life, everything that happens in this world, is filtered through His fingers of love.
In Isaiah, chapter 45, it says that He is the Lord and there is no other. He creates good and He creates adversity. He's the Lord that does all these things.
So from 9/11, to tsunamis, to mudslides in California, to the tragedy of a friend who truly believes, yet is not physically healed -- to understand and watch him live through the sufficiency of God's grace -- to see people who lose a child, knowing that God has never left them alone; this same God, because of who He is, is able to say to us, 'I will cause all things, not to be good, but to keep on working together for good to those who know God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.' (Romans 8:28)
For whom God foreknew, He predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son (Romans 8:29), and to know that no matter what happens in life, that because God is sovereign, he is able to take that trial, that tragedy, that pain, that suffering, that test, and work it together for my good, and for His glory, and to use it to make me like Christ.
Craig von Buseck: Amen. Someone starting today in ministry may be thinking 'What are the things that I need to do in order for this to be effective?' What advice would you give to someone who is 'back in 1970' looking forward?
Kay Arthur: First of all, I would say, don't seek a ministry, seek God. As you seek God, before the foundation of the world, God chose you in Christ (Eph. 1:3). You are His workmanship (Eph. 2:10), in Christ Jesus unto good works that God has ordained for you to walk in. So discovering my ministry should not be the goal of my life -- but discovering my God should.
And getting to know God, getting to know His Word, living through the circumstances of life according to His precepts is all His preparation for ministry. I find so many people that want this ministry, or they want that ministry. They're duplicating, replicating what other people are doing -- and it's not that God just needs one person to do it -- but they're busy searching and seeking and asking, 'how do I promote this?' instead of getting to know God and being faithful in wherever that place of appointment is, and then watching God set before us an open door of ministry that no man can close.
So I think that what's happened is that we are, so to speak, as the saying goes, 'a mile wide, but we're not even an inch deep.' And because we're a mile wide and not even an inch deep, then a lot of ministry is done in the flesh. And a lot of people are collapsing in the middle of it.
Think of the statistics about the number of pastors that are in pornography -- I think it is as high as 40-some percent.
Craig von Buseck: And those may only be the people who are being honest.
Kay Arthur: That's a good point. That's the people who are being honest. And why? Think of the people who are walking away from their mates, or having affairs, or having divorces -- why? I think it goes back to the fact that they have not built that solid foundation of the knowledge and the fear of God. The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom (Prov. 1:7). It is wisdom to depart from evil. Yet people aren't doing that because they really don't know God. Or they think they are the exception. Or they think, but this is the way I feel.
So if I were going to talk to someone starting out in ministry, I would tell them, don't be in a hurry to minister.
Look at the example, first of all, of Jesus Christ. What did He do? He grew in wisdom, and in stature, and in favor with God and man (Luke 2:52). His public ministry did not begin until He was thirty years old. The Bible tells us that in the Gospels. He died at the age of 33. So what you have is 30 years of preparation. And this is the Son of God -- God in the flesh.
Hebrews says He learned obedience through the things that He suffered (Heb. 5:8). This is man without sin. That's what Jesus is. He's the God/man without sin. And yet you don't see Him rushing into ministry. As God, He had the power to heal. He had the power to open the eyes of the blind, and to multiply the fish. But He didn't do that for 30 years.
You look at Paul who has this tremendous Damascus Road conversion (Acts 9). Yet what does God do with Paul? He puts him on the backside of the desert, so to speak. He puts him in Damascus for three years where he is taught by Jesus Himself, he tells us. 'I didn't receive this by revelation of man,' he tells us, 'I received this by revelation of God. But it was according to the Word of God (Gal. 1:12). He was a student of the Word of God. But at this point, he was not out on the circuit.
So many times we have some wrestler, or some singer, or some actor, or someone who is well know who comes to know Christ, and we grab a hold of them, we disobey the Scriptures, we lay hands on them suddenly (1 Tim. 5:22). They're not proven, they're not tested, they don't have time to grow because we've got them so busy -- and the Bible says, don't lay hands on a novice.
I have to have time to discover -- not develop -- but discover what my spiritual gift is. I have some very strong theories, obviously, on what I believe about ministry. I think that we're lacking character. We're lacking integrity. And what happens is that we make ourselves vulnerable to pride and we begin to think, 'well, look at how good my ministry is doing. I can drive a Porsche, or I can live in this huge house when I have three other houses. Or I can put crystal chandeliers up, and expensive art, and things like this. And somehow we think it's entitlement because we don't understand the Word, and we don't understand God. I think it's because we rush to the frontlines when we haven't been through God's boot camp.
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