Two words: awesome.
For many years I’ve felt a need to fight against abortion in America. But the problem has always been: what can I do? I can pray, but what else can I do?
Finally, there is something I can do.
Recently, Life Choices Inc., a pro-life organization, contacted me about helping them bring a free ultrasound clinic to my hometown of Indiana, PA. Bringing a free ultrasound to the area would be such a wonderful step toward saving the unborn. When a woman is confronted with a real image of the real baby in her, having an abortion is that much harder.
I want to bring this clinic to Indiana. They need $60,000 dollars to make it happen. My goal is to raise $5,000 in the effort. Of course I would love to raise much more, but let’s start at $5,000.
Would you please consider helping me in this project? I firmly believe in the power of large numbers of people making small contributions to achieve a massive objective. Thanks for your help.
I’ve embedded a widget below that will allow you to donate directly to the cause. If you want to view the donation page, click here.
Would you also help me spread the word on this project? Thanks!
The best question we can ask ourselves when we’re feeling discontented, despondent, overwhelmed or fearful is “What am I believing about God right now?”
Do I believe God is in control? Do I believe he is being good to me? Do I believe he cares about me? Or do I believe that somehow God’s left the building and forgotten about me? Or he’s temporarily lost control of the universe. Or perhaps he is mad at me and punishing me for some reason. Or giving me too much for me to bear.
We must continually fight to believe that God has made a covenant to never turn away from doing good to us (JE 32.40).
Surely if [God] would not spare his own Son one stroke, one tear, one groan, one sigh, one circumstance of misery, it can never be imagined that ever he should, after this, deny or withhold from his people, for whose sakes all this was suffered, any mercies, any comforts, any privilege, spiritual or temporal, which is good for them. –John Flavel
God never gives his children anything but what’s best for us. And if he withholds something from us, it’s because it would not be good for us.
When I was a kid, I would have told my mom it would be good for her to give me unlimited candy. She would not have been a good mom to give me what I desired though. I would have told her it would be good to let me stay up as late as I wanted and watch whatever I wanted to on TV. But my Mom didn’t give me everything I wanted, even though I was sure it would be the best thing for me. My mom had wisdom; I didn’t. She knew better than I did what would be good for me. So our heavenly Father knows far better than we what is good for us to have and not have.
And we must always remember our greatest good is knowing and being conformed to Christ. If our suffering drives us to deeper pursuit of Jesus and we cling more closely to him, that’s wonderful. If our affliction humbles us and makes us more merciful to others, that is a good thing.
In heaven we’ll look at all God did in our lives that we didn’t understand and it will all make sense to us. Then we’ll praise God for our momentary light afflictions, for we’ll see the eternal weight of glory they produced. In heaven we’ll say, “Jesus, thank you for all you did in me through that trial.”
And if we’ll praise God in heaven for all the good he did through our trials, shouldn’t we praise him in those trials now?
What is the best thing that you can do for you pastor? Compliment him on his “outstanding, almost Charles Spurgeon-like sermon”? Give money to the church? Give your time and skills to the church? Not heckle him? Admire him for his manly beard? While those are all wonderful things, they are not the best thing that you can do for you pastor.
The absolute, most important, best thing that you can do for your pastor is to pray for him.
I was freshly reminded of that fact this morning when I read 2 Corinthians 1:11 –
You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.
This is Paul talking. The apostle. The dude who wrote a significant portion of the New Testament. The guy who got blindsided by Jesus on Damascus Road. The guy who had the whole “taken up to the third heaven and seeing things too glorious for words” experience. This isn’t a little ol’ Average Pastor With Minimal Gifting. We are talking about THE Apostle Paul who studied under THE Gamaliel. If anyone could feel sure of his ministry success it was Paul. I would expect Paul to say, “I am confident of my success in the Lord, but your prayers would also be helpful.”
But that’s not what Paul says. He says, “You also MUST help us by prayer.” There’s a hint of desperation in his voice. He is pleading for the prayers of the Corinthians. Why? Why does Paul feel such a deep need for the prayers of others?
Because he knows that the depth of his fruitfulness hinges on the prayers of others. He knows that he will not be successful unless he is propelled forward by the prayers of the saints.
That’s why he says that many will give thanks for the blessing granted through the prayers of many. In other words, Paul is expecting people to be grateful to God for his ministry and for the blessings that they have received through his ministry. But how did those blessings come about in the first place? Through the prayers of Paul’s friends! Paul’s ministry was fruitful because others were praying for him.
Your pastor desperately needs your prayers. I desperately need the prayers of the people in my church. The best thing that a person can do for me is pray on my behalf. The more people pray for me, the more fruitful my ministry will be.
So how can you pray for your pastor? Here are a few practical ways:
- Pray that they will have spiritual and emotional endurance. Being a pastor is a wonderful job, but it can also be a very draining job. I need endurance to continue working with joy.
- Pray that they will have rich fellowship with the Lord. The pastor’s power comes from the Lord. I need God to meet me and refresh week after week.
- Pray that your pastor will be protected from temptation. If Satan can take down a shepherd, the sheep are much more vulnerable. I need the Lord to protect me from the temptations of pride, greed, lust, impatience, and a host of other sins.
- Pray that your pastor will preach with power. Apart from the power of the Holy Spirit, a sermon will be nothing more than an eloquent boatload of crap. I need the Holy Spirit to put power behind my words.
There are many more ways to pray for your pastor, but this should get you started.
So please, I’m begging you, pray. Your pastor depends on it.
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I’m not sure what to think of this. This seems like one of those parent living vicariously through his children scenarios, but then again, maybe the kids love it. I certainly wouldn’t want to mess with these kids.
When we pray for the lost, does it really do anything?
Isn’t God going to save whoever he’s planned to save anyway? Jesus tells us that God is waiting for us to pray in order for him to act:
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Matthew 9:36-38)
What an incredible passage. First we see the heart of Jesus for the lost – when he sees the crowds he has compassion on them because of the misery of their lives without a good Shepherd. He doesn’t say, “Look at all those vile sinners. Good – they’re getting what they deserve.” He has compassion on them. He pities them because they’re harassed and helpless with no one to guide them or care for them or protect them. I want that kind of compassion for the lost.
Next Jesus tells his disciples to pray earnestly for laborers for the harvest. Why doesn’t he just raise up laborers himself? Because he wants to involve us. He wants us to have his heart of compassion for the lost. He wants us to pity people in their lost and helpless condition. And he gives us the privilege of participating in his mission to rescue them.
So he tells us to pray earnestly for God to send out laborers. In a sense, he restricts himself to our prayers. It’s as if Jesus says to us, “If you don’t pray it won’t happen.” If we aren’t concerned about the lost, and if we don’t pray earnestly for laborers, then there won’t be any, and multitudes will perish. Andrew Murray, says in his book With Christ in the School of Prayer:
“How little Christians really feel and mourn the need of labourers in the fields of the world so white to the harvest. And how little they believe that our labour-supply depends on prayer, that prayer will really provide as many as he needeth.” –Andrew Murray
How we need the Lord to give us his own compassion for the lost multitudes in the world and all around us. And how we need him to give us faith that our prayers really accomplish something. If Jesus told us to pray earnestly for laborers, it must matter. He wouldn’t have commanded it if it weren’t critical and if he didn’t use our very prayers to raise up those laborers.
photo by will buiscuits
When we gather together with the church this Sunday, who is our meeting for? Is it primarily for us who believe – to build us up in our faith? Or is it for unbelievers, to proclaim the gospel and reach out to them?
Obviously, our meetings are first and foremost for God. For his pleasure and glory.
They are also for believers. For our delight and upbuilding in Christ. Colossians 3:16 says we’re to let the Word of Christ dwell richly among us as we sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs to each other.
But what about the unbelievers who join us? Should we design our services entirely with the unsaved in mind as some seeker-oriented services do? Or just for the saints? Our services are for BOTH. ALL. BELIEVERS AND UNBELIEVERS.
Bryan Chapell says:
Being entirely “seeker-oriented” is not really an option for Christ-centered worship. But being “seeker-sensitive” is still an appropriate way to think about worship. Being “seeker-sensitive” is not the same as being “seeker-oriented.” We should remember that in the history of the church…there have always been three groups to consider in the planning of worship: the communicants (adult believers), catechumens (children and adult converts learning the faith), and seekers (those examining whether they will claim the truths of the gospel). The apostle Paul charges the church to be sensitive to the needs of seekers…They are not the focus of the church’s worship, but the church is not to plan its worship without their needs in view (1 Cor. 14:23-25). — Christ-Centered Worship
Our goal should be to seek to sing songs that resonate with believers and plainly reveal Christ to unbelievers. To preach the Word to both believers and unbelievers. To appeal to both. To avoid “Christianese” that makes no sense to those without a Christian vocabulary. To use music unbelievers can relate to, while highlighting the truth we’re singing.
I’m so glad unbelievers come to our church. I’m so glad the folks in our church welcome and reach out to them. I’m so glad people can come in wearing jeans or suits and feel comfortable. I’m glad we play songs full of truth in contemporary styles and hymns as well. I love it when I hear a message that mentions both Tom Brady and the Apostle Paul.
The gospel is for all – believers and unbelievers. We who believe need to be regularly reminded of all God’s done for us; unbelievers need to hear about God’s love for them and the salvation he offers. So this Sunday seek to build up and encourage your brothers and sisters, and extend Jesus’ love to as many new people as you can.
photo by bpbp Brian Petersen
At our church we talk a lot about doctrine, sound theology, right understanding of the message of Scripture and the gospel. My bookshelves are loaded with thick books by very smart theologians about things that are sometimes over my head. This is a good thing, because I don’t want to ever think I’ve fully understood the gospel and am ready to move on to something else.
But sometimes it can be discouraging to read part of a book like Herman Bavinck’s Reformed Dogmatics and realize how little I know about Jesus’ death compared to others who have gone before me! That’s why this quote, nestled in a chapter that was pretty heady, was so helpful to me:
“The power of the death of Christ is independent of the more or less clear interpretation we can give of it…It is indeed not the doctrine concerning the death of Christ but this death itself that atones for our sins and gives peace to our consciences” (Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. III, p. 382).
Good theology is important, and we must know certain things in order to rightly put our trust in Christ. But thankfully God does not forgive us on a graded curve based on how well we understand the gospel! Christ’s death objectively accomplished our salvation. We’ll spend eternity plumbing the depths of what He has done, but we are not saved by how much we understand about the His death.
So let us read, study, and dig deep in the doctrine of salvation – but let us also praise God we are saved by something that has occurred outside ourselves, the death and resurrection of our Savior!
Here are some wonderful principles from John Newton, puritan pastor and author of Amazing Grace, to keep in mind when confronting someone. Whether we confront them for sin or wrong doctrine, whether in private or in a blog, these are critical principles to apply.
As to your opponent, I wish that before you set pen to paper against him, and during the whole time you are preparing your answer, you may commend him by earnest prayer to the Lord’s teaching and blessing. This practice will have a direct tendency to conciliate your heart to love and pity him; and such a disposition will have a good influence upon every page you write.
If you account him as a BELIEVER, though greatly mistaken in the subject of debate between you, the words of David to Joab concerning Absalom, are very applicable: “Deal gently with him for my sake.” The Lord loves him and bears with him; therefore you must not despise him, or treat him harshly! The Lord bears with you likewise, and expects that you should show tenderness to others—from a sense of the much forgiveness you need yourself. In a little while you will meet in heaven—he will then be dearer to you than the nearest friend you have upon earth is to you now! Anticipate that period in your thoughts, and though you may find it necessary to oppose his errors, view him personally as a kindred soul, with whom you are to be happy in Christ forever.
The Scriptural maxim that “man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires,” is verified by daily observation. If our zeal is embittered by expressions of anger, invective, or scorn—we may think we are doing service of the cause of truth, when in reality we shall only bring it into discredit!
In a little while you will meet in heaven—he will then be dearer to you than the nearest friend you have upon earth is to you now!
There is a principle of SELF, which disposes us to despise those who differ from us; and we are often under its influence, when we think we are only showing a fitting zeal in the cause of God.
Whatever it is that makes us trust in ourselves, that we are comparatively wise or good, so as to treat those with contempt who do not subscribe to our doctrines, or follow our party—is a proof and fruit of a self-righteous spirit!
I hope your article will savor of a spirit of true humility, and be a means of promoting it in others.
And yet we find but very few writers of controversy who have not been manifestly hurt by it. Either they grow in a sense of their own importance; or imbibe an angry, contentious spirit; or they insensibly withdraw their attention from those spiritual truths which are the food and immediate support of the life of faith—and spend their time and strength upon matters that are at most but of a secondary value! This shows, that if the service is honorable, it is also dangerous. What will it profit a man if he gains his cause and silences his adversary—if at the same time he loses that humble, tender frame of spirit in which the Lord delights, and to which the promise of his presence is made?
If we act in a wrong spirit—we shall bring little glory to God; do little good to our fellow creatures; and procure neither honor nor comfort to ourselves!
God cares as much about the spirit in which we act, how we confront someone, as he cares about the issue we confront them about. God definitely cares about truth, sound doctrine, justice and righteousness, but he is not glorified if we speak with pride, anger, bitterness or sarcasm. He cares about his glory more than our being right.
God cares about our motives as much as our message. We may speak the truth, but if our motive is not love for a person and the glory of God in their life, we’re noisy gongs and clanging cymbals.
Lord Jesus, help us all learn how to speak the truth in love.
All quotations from The Letters of John Newton
My imagination is terrible at predicting the future. I mean seriously, it really stinks.
I’ve always been prone to worry and fear. When I was little, my brother and I would pray every night that we would have “no fires, no fear, and no bad dreams”. As I’ve gotten older, my fears haven’t gone away, they’ve just gotten more sophisticated. Now I fear things like cancer, and miscarriages, my children getting seriously hurt.
When my imagination injects itself into my fears, that’s when things get really bad. Suddenly a little shortness of breath isn’t a sign that I’m out of shape, but a sign of early onset heart disease. Which means that I might die suddenly of a heart attack. Which means that I won’t be around for my kids. Which means…
It goes on and on and on. And it’s not only about health issues. My imagination can run wild with worry over just about anything, from difficult situations in the church to concerns for my children to paying the bills.
But here’s what I’m learning. First of all, my imagination would make a terrible psychic. Most of the things that I worry about never come true. I waste so much time and energy churning over things that probably won’t happen. Mark Twain hit it on the head when he said:
I have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.
I’m also learning that God gives grace for today. Period. I will meet troubles today and God will give me grace for those troubles. He does not give me grace today for troubles that will come tomorrow. God doesn’t give me grace for imaginary troubles, he gives me grace for real troubles. That’s why worrying is such a stupid waste of time. I don’t yet have the grace for tomorrow, and when I look at tomorrow through the lens of today, it seems overwhelming. In Matthew 6:34, Jesus said:
Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
When I get to tomorrow’s troubles, God will be there with sufficient grace. The problem with my imagination is that it always leaves God out of the equation. It always imagines a future in which God has forgotten to show up.
But God showed up today with enough grace to get me through the day, and he’ll show up tomorrow too. So shut up imagination.
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