Prayer

Little Darts & Hand Grenades

"...between...times of devotion, labor to be much in ejaculatory prayer. While your hands are busy with the world, let your hearts still talk with God; not in twenty sentences at a time, for such an interval might be inconsistent with your calling, but in broken sentences and interjections. It is always wrong to present one duty to God stained with the blood of another, and that we should do if we spoiled study or labor by running away to pray at all hours; but we may, without this, let short sentences go up to heaven, ay, and we may shoot upwards cries, and single words, such as an "Ah," an "Oh," an "O that;" or, without words we may pray in the upward glancing of the eye or the sigh of the heart. He who prays without ceasing uses many little darts and hand-grenades of godly desire, which he casts forth at every available interval. Sometimes he will blow the furnace of his desires to a great heat in regular prayer, and as a consequence at other times, the sparks will continue to rise up to heaven in the form of brief words, and looks, and desires."

From Charles Spurgeon's sermon "Pray Without Ceasing."

Evidence of Knowing God

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Do you you know God or just know about God? That's the concern of J.I. Packer in the opening chapters of his excellent book, Knowing God ($2.99 for Kindle right now!). He lists four evidences explained through the book of Daniel of the effects the knowledge of God has on a person (pp 27-32). I'll give the four and quote from each of Packer's explanations, but I encourage you to read this section and the whole book. It's rich. I forgot how really great it is.

1. Those who know God have great energy for God

"Those who know their God are sensitive to situations in which God's truth and honor are being directly or tacitly jeopardized, and rather than let the matter go by default will force the issue on men's attention and seek thereby to compel a change of heart about it--even at personal risk."

[...]

"People who know their God are before anything else people who pray, and the first point where their zeal and energy for God's glory come to expression is in their prayers."

2. Those who know God have great thoughts of God

Packer takes a brief survey of the book of Daniel, ending by saying, "[God] knows, and foreknows, all things, and his foreknowledge is foreordination; he, therefore, will have the last word, both in world history and in the destiny of every man; his kingdom and righteousness will triumph in the end, for neither men nor angels shall be able to thwart him."

"These were the thoughts of God which filled Daniel's mind."

3. Those who know God show great boldness for God

"They may find the determination of the right course to take agonizingly difficult, but once they are clear on it they embrace it boldly and without hesitation. It does not worry them that others of God's people see the matter differently and do not stand with them."

4. Those who know God have great contentment in God 

"There is no peace like the peace of those whose minds are possessed with full assurance that they have known God, and God has known them, and that this relationship guarantees God's favor to them in life, through death and on forever."

Three Basic Traits of Frontline Prayer

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In chapter 6 of Center Church, Tim Keller discusses "The Work of Gospel Renewal." The first means of Gospel renewal Keller mentions is Extraordinary Prayer. There he lists the three basic traits of frontline prayer (as contrasted with "maintenance prayer")...

  1. A request for grace to confess sins and to humble ourselves
  2. A compassion and zeal for the flourishing of the church and the reaching of the lost
  3. A yearning to know God, to see his face, to glimpse his glory

Keller then states, "If you pay attention at a prayer meeting, you can tell quite clearly whether these traits are present."

Use these 3 traits as a guide when you lead times of focused prayer in your church, small group, and prayer meetings. As Keller writes, "To kindle every revival, the Holy Spirit initially uses what Jonathan Edwards called 'extraordinary prayer' -- united, persistent, and kingdom centered."

(Center Church, page 73)

Keller's Five Questions

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I'm not sure I've posted this before, but even if I did it's worth putting up again. David Cooke has posted Keller's Five Questions over at Cookies Days (a blog you should check out). He first posted it in 2009, I believe.

Keller said these are five questions he asks of a biblical text as he reads it for himself. Helpful.
  1. How can I praise him?
  2. How can I confess my sins on the basis of this text?
  3. If this is really true, what wrong behavior, what harmful emotions or false attitudes result in me when I forget this? Every problem is because you have forgotten something. What problems are you facing?
  4. What should I be aspiring to do on the basis of this text?
  5. Why are you telling me this today.

Lots-o-Links 9.17.12

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AuthenticManhood.com

"This website exists as the on-line presence of Authentic Manhood, a bold movement to lead men to live the life of truth, passion, and purpose they were created to live." Contributors include Justin Buzzard, Eric Geiger, and others. 

Joe Thorn: Praying for Your Pastor

There are a number of pastors I pray for regularly, and these are some of they ways I lift them up. I hope you will join me as you pray for the leaders God has given you.

9 Writing Books That Will Inspire You To Write -- Today (Check the whole list. I really like the top 3.)

  1. On Writing by Stephen King
  2. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
  3. Writing Down The Bones by Natalie Goldberg

Street Pastors --> What Is A Street Pastor? (Interesting idea)

A Street Pastor is a Church leader/minister or member with a concern for society - in particular young people who feel themselves to be excluded and marginalised - and who is willing to engage people where they are, in terms of their thinking (i.e. their perspective of life) and location (i.e. where they hang out - be it on the streets, in the pubs and clubs or at parties etc). 

Street Pastors will also be willing to work with fellow activists, church and community leaders, and with agencies and projects, both statutory and voluntary, to look at collaborative ways of working on issues affecting youth, and initiatives that will build trust between them and the Street Pastors.

I'm Buying This Book -- check this interview, reviews & responses by Moo, Bock, Horton

Calvin: Six Purposes of Prayer

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Joel Beeke & Brian Najapfour in Taking Hold of God: Reformed & Puritan Perspectives on Prayer list what John Calvin (Institutes: book 3, chapter 20) sees as the six (at least) purposes of prayer.

  1. To fly to God with every need and gain from Him what is lacking in ourselves to live the Christian life
  2. To learn to desire wholeheartedly only what is right as we place all our petitions before God
  3. To prepare us to receive God's benefits and responses to to our petitions with humble gratitude
  4. To meditate on God's kindness to us as we receive what we have asked for
  5. To instill the proper spirit of delight for God's answers in prayer
  6. To confirm God's faithful providence so that we may glorify Him and trust in His present help more readily as we witness His regularly answering our prayers

"All of these purposes are designed to foster communion with God so that 'the promises of God should have their way with us.'" (quoting Niesel, Theology of Calvin, 157)

From Taking Hold of God, pg 31-32.

Steps Toward Open-Air Preaching

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Posts in my open-air series so far (for context)...
  1. The Gospel in the Open-Air Again
  2. Guidelines for Open-Air Preaching
  3. Open-Air Preaching is Optional?
  4. Missional Open-Air Preaching

Jesse Winkler put up a very helpful comment today on my Missional Open-Air Preaching post. Jesse writes...

After I read some stuff and watched the vids you posted I made a short list of things I can do right now as I'm not ready to go stand on the street and start preaching. My list was 1) begin to pray for the right heart, 2) make a solid intentional list of verses and memorize them, 3) find the right spots in my community, 4) compile a list of texts conducive to preaching the gospel in open air.

Great stuff, Jesse. One of the things I've failed to do yet in this series, though I've done some sporadically throughout, is to let people know what I'm doing before I start some form of open-air preaching. I think the preparation is crucial to doing it well. Jesse's four points are excellent and are clearly reflective of things I'm doing. Here's what I'm doing to take steps toward open-air preaching...

1. Praying | I'm not spending a lot of time praying for the right heart, as I feel like the right heart is what God has been preparing in me to even do this series of posts and head in this direction evangelistically. But Jesse's comment reminds me I need to do this more. I'm praying currently more for revival in our church, for the Spirit to guide me toward the right places, right times, & right means, for the Spirit to be working in the hearts of the lost so the seeds of the Gospel will grow, etc. 

I'm also praying for a handful of guys who have expressed interest, who I've been in contact with privately about it, and for others who I hope will consider open-air preaching because they would be good at it. I think I mentioned that in a previous post, but worth noting here.

Some of the prayer for evangelism and toward the lostness of our neighbors is with my wife and kids. The kids know varying amounts of info about my growing plans (depending on their age and maturity), but they are a part of this for sure. They will know (generally) what I'm doing when I do it.

2. Brainstorming | I'm spending a significant amount of time just brainstorming. Ideas sometimes come out of prayer, and prayer is my response to ideas. Often listening to podcasts helps to spark my thinking (preaching on particular passages, on revival, on evangelism; Jerram Barrs iTunes U evangelism class), drawing stuff on my whiteboard or in my Moleskine workbook, making lists, playing with acrostics for different things I'm doing or want to do, making notes in a personal journal, etc. I can't emphasize how important untethered time has been in thinking this stuff through. 

I could make a whole other point on stuff I'm reading that's a part of my brainstorming, but it's more pieces of things. Much I've found helpful I've tweeted or posted as quotes. But I'll just say I'm reading Scripture, books, stuff out of theology books, evangelism books, etc and so on to help me continue to brainstorm.

I'm also watching videos of people doing open-air preaching. Even the bad stuff is informative on at least what NOT to do. :) I notice a lot of patterns found in nearly all preachers, which helps in brainstorming as well.

3. Bouncing Ideas & Seeking Advice | Molly gets a lot of it. She's pumped, and always has good wifely advice as well as godly advice. Important because of of who she is in my life, and because she needs to be prayed up and prepared for any possible negative consequences. I've been on the phone more the last 3 days than in the last month, just picking brains. Joe Thorn gets plenty of that, but other guys elsewhere are getting some of that. Emails and DM's on Twitter are hopping. I've started sending a list of my posts to some respected guys out there (pastors, authors, missiologists) for their advice, feedback, or whatever. I need people to tell me if/where I'm wrong! I'm thinking it through and I KNOW some guys out there think I'm a nutjob for saying all this, but few are saying it to me. Dear "that guy," please tell me. Help me. Sharpen me. 

4. Canvassing My City (County) | I've done this for a while, but it's ramping up. I'm doing drive-bys and paying visits to places at certain times to gauge people-flow. I somewhat regularly do work at the local community college to see the flow of students to and from campus, to and from the cafeteria, etc. Last night, for example, I left the house and did a drive-by the local bars. How busy are they on a Wednesday night?

I have some workbook notes on specific times and places of things that happen, as well as spaces that might be conducive. Helpful for praying and planning for open-air preaching.

5. Texts for Memorizing/Preaching | Jesse's point here is important. I'm looking particularly to the parables at the moment for preaching. I'm focusing more on gospel Scriptures than apologetics Scriptures, but both have a place. 

I'm also convicted after some discussion with Jim Elliff that I need to spend more time reading Scripture than reading other good things, books, etc. Trying to ramp up that pursuit.

6. Preparing My Local Church | I'm telling my church in sermons what I'm planning (more vaguely). I'm telling my church in community groups and prayer meetings in as much detail as is helpful. They are responding with more prayer, with more focused prayer, prayer for boldness, etc. After worship on Sunday they spontaneously (led by a couple people) surrounded me, laid their hands on me, and prayed for boldness.

7. Seeking Partners | I've also told my people I need them in the work. Some need to be there to observe, respond relationally and conversationally to follow-up. A few have already stepped forward for that.

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Jesse had a second thing he brought up and I'll briefly respond to...

My hang up is, in addition to the qualities you mention that you're calling for in open air preaching, doesn't there have to be an attractional element to gather people? What does that look like other than being in a public place and raising your voice really loud?

I'm going to have more to say about this when I start talking about a particular approach I'm planning on taking. But I'm hoping to take a gradual approach to public preaching, meaning to start preaching out of other things that are occurring. In Acts 2 Peter's preaching is responding to the drunkenness comments of the crowd after tongues are spoken. In Acts 3 Peter's preaching is responding to the lame guy leaping around after healing takes place. Paul (generally speaking) often moves from Synagogue to marketplace to further opportunity (Areopagus, Hall of Tyrannus). Public preaching (of some sort) of Jesus is often in response to his healing, his helping the woman caught in adultery, to the crowds surrounding him because of other things going on. 

Now, we for some reason have taken that to mean we should learn some clever magic tricks and juggling in order to draw a crowd. I think more biblical ways above are better ways.

While I'm probably not going to take a lame guy and make him walk (unless the Lord wills!), I can start small with a conversation with one or two in such a way and in such a place that it leads to others joining in as they either eavesdrop (which we hope for) or because they are invited to join. 

In other words, I'm not planning at this point on being the dude who brings in his ladder and microphone and says my name and starts preaching to a crowd. I'm planning on starting with a few, loudly enough and in a public gathering area in order that others will overhear, and with the hope it draws a crowd and larger-scale open-air preaching is the result. AND, I believe I've found at least one way to do that in my city, though I'm not ready to post that specifically here. I've told a few friends. I'm happy to give a little more info to anyone who desires more. But what I gave should be enough to spark some thought in your context.

Hope that's helpful. Again, thinking it all through. Trying to find a way to do it better. And I'm desperate for negative or positive feedback so I'm not just some blogger out there saying a bunch stuff that will amount to nothing. What would you add to my list?

Guidelines for Open-Air Preaching

Kevin Williams Street Preaching

Thanks for the great response to yesterday's post on a call for sane open-air preaching: The Gospel in the Open-Air Again. I believe God is doing something. I really do. Keep commenting as we all need (at least I need) this discussion so we can figure out what this would look like in America today.

After that post I received a link to some videos from @FrankFusion. Honestly, I'm shocked at how good this is, and how well it explains the practicals of open-air preaching, who should do it, what you shouldn't do, how it fits with local churches, and tons more.

This is exactly what we need to follow up my previous post and figure out how to do this. Would love to know if your reaction to this is as positive as mine.

The first video is a shorter excerpt from the second video on whether you preach apologetically or preach Christ. Really good. It made me want to watch the second. The second video is an hour long and well worth the time. Check the PDF that coincides with the video (found below the video here). You can also download the audio. Under the second video below are the points discussed and the times where they start on the video. Those talking are Kevin Williams and Ryan Skinner.

1. How do I know I am called to street preach? 00:00:44
2. Taping yourself open-air preaching and putting it up on youtube, why? 00:03:40
3. What does bad and good open-air preaching look like? 00:05:43
4. Is “drive by” open-air preaching wrong? How important is a local church? 00:09:00
5. Is it important to be part of a local church and have accountability? 00:12:28
6. How do you respond to the hatred you are met with? 00:13:49
7. How important are one on one conversations? 00:16:15
8. Are you going out in love? 00:17:37
9. Is doing “shock and awe” evangelism biblical? 00:20:12
10. Do people understand the Christian terms that you are using? 00:24:25
11. How important is it to have scripture memorized? 00:25:32
12. Is it important to know the LAWS of the land? 00:26:11
13. Is Christ or Apologetics your Focus in Open-Air Preaching? 00:28:07
14. How do you engage a heckler? 00:33:17
15. Where is a good spot to open-air preach at? 00:36:01
16. Don’t let getting large crowds become an idol. 00:40:56
17. Are there open-air preachers who are lost and not saved themselves? 00:42:45
18. Be careful to not appear self-righteousness while open-air preaching. 00:46:17
19. Advice on answering people’s questions in the open-air. 00:49:35
20. What should the length of my message be? 00:53:56
21. What makes a solid gospel tract? 00:55:03
22. Is it biblical to hand out cartoon gospel tracts that are gimmicky? 00:56:04

The Gospel in the Open-Air Again

This is first post in a series. Here are links to posts that follow.

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Something has been burning in my belly. I can't shake it. I have a picture in my head of movement of preachers that, I believe, will shake up the culture and change the face of American Christianity in a myriad of good ways. I have much more to say about it, but let me start simply.

John Bunyan Open-Air Preaching

What if evangelicals hit America with 200, or 500, or 1,000 theologically strong, gospel-centered pastors who start preaching in open-air and public places in their cities, beyond their Sunday morning worship services, at least once a week for the rest of 2011? What would happen? What if even more did it, or what if it was done more often (Whitefield preached an average of 20 times a week for 34 years)? This idea has been on my mind in some form since my first few weeks as a new Christian (almost exactly 17 years ago). It continued through seminary as I did many outdoor evangelism projects and wrote a paper in seminary on open-air preaching. I've discussed it over the past few years with Joe Thorn. In the last few weeks I believe God has pressed this idea into me. I'm compelled to put it out there knowing many will probably think I'm stupid or crazy, and I'm ok with that.

In my opinion and in no particular order, here are some things that will probably happen if a movement of solid preachers would take to the open-air in America...

1. The Gospel would spread, maybe in an unprecedented way, across our land. It would be heard by people who would never set foot in our churches. It would spread in other ways explained below.

2. Our pastors and our people would be forced to learn to explain the Gospel simply, answer objections, etc. This would spark more training in theology, evangelism, apologetics, etc, but this time with a sense of need rather than something we too often learn for our "personal growth" only.

3. A *buzz* would grow among our neighbors. Suddenly it would be hard to miss seeing and/or hearing the Gospel where we live and in the places we go. People will stumble across it sooner or later, and probably more than once, and it will shake people up. Instead of being the odd guy down at the outdoor mall, it will be respected, calm, thoughtful, theological, loving people doing it. It will open a conversation as to "why" this is suddenly everywhere.

4. Persecution of one form or another (or all forms) would naturally increase. We are mostly left alone in our buildings, but when we preach with biblical power in the open-air the Devil will not be pleased.

5. The stereotype would change of open-air preaching and open-air preachers as the "turn or burn" and "sandwich board" folks would be drowned out by good, biblical, evangelistic preaching. It would come across as more normal because good preachers are doing it, yet it would still shake things up.

6. The media would take notice and start asking us what's going on, and we'd get free airtime to talk about Jesus. It would spark a growing public conversation about things on our agenda instead of merely getting asked to chime in when we fit in with the world's agenda. 

7. Dozens, hundreds of doors for personal evangelism would open up in every place public preaching is done because some of our people will attend and strike up conversations with those who stop to listen. In other words, we create a clear pathway for immediate personal evangelism. The preachers cast nets to draw them in, our people cast hooks, and together we work out our different roles in evangelism.

8. We would begin to pray with a new fervency, boldness, and deep need like in the end of Acts 4.. We would find ourselves relying on God in ways we've ignored because we take few risks. Our prayer meetings would, without question, see less "pray for aunt Sally's leg" and see more prayer for salvation, for strength, for the words to speak, for courage and boldness, for the many different issues that will result from the preaching, and so on.

9. Our churches would immediately start to see more visitors. The seeker kind. The skeptic kind. The curious kind. This would come because of the people who want to hear more from the preacher and the people who have connected personally with Christians during public preaching. They will come because this is the preacher who doesn't play well with others, and this time not because they spew judgments but because they won't stay away in their safe, warm buildings.

10. Christians will be separated from "Christians." Dead churches and denominations, the ones that don't have nor preach the Gospel, will start to look clearly different from evangelical ones. Our preaching will force the issue because people of various "Christian" groups will hear and react differently. Christians without Christ will be challenged to leave their Gospel-less churches and denominations. It will create a challenge to the peaceful, live-and-let-live relationship happening among all groups called "Christian" in our cities and it will reopen a necessary discussion on issues of Gospel, truth, theology, heresy, etc... and all in a much more public way.

I'm sure you can imagine that doors would open for a hundred other things. We don't know all that would happen as this has essentially been left untried. I don't believe there is even a need to discuss whether or not this is biblical. If anything preaching only in our buildings is what needs to be biblically challenged. Spurgeon wrote on page 254 of Lectures to My Students...

No sort of defense is needed for preaching out of doors; but it would need very potent arguments to prove that a man had done his duty who has never preached beyond the walls of his meeting-house. A defense is required rather for services within buildings than for worship outside of them. 

I believe that if in the next couple of months hundreds of preachers in America would embrace this, and public preaching started happening all over the place, especially with the spring and summer months coming as the perfect opportunity, that we would see amazing things happen by the hand of our good and gracious God. I believe we would see mighty works by the Holy Spirit. I believe it would be amazing, but we would have to do it in order to see it.

A lot of questions remain, I know. A lot of doubts. You may be skeptical that it can work. You may be wondering where you could even do it in your particular community. You may have fears of doing it and desire to stay in the comfort of your pulpit. I hear you, but I think there are good answers and motivations for all of this. More soon.

My prayer as this goes up is that God will stir in us by His Spirit a movement of preachers who preach the Gospel publicly, beyond the walls of our buildings. I'm praying first for myself, then for many of my friends and pastoral acquaintances by name, and then for a number of well-known pastors who I think God has put in places of influence for their theological strength and solid preaching of the Gospel. I believe we need older, mature pastors to lead us in something like this. God help us to preach the Gospel boldly and publicly.

Tim Keller on Preaching to Himself

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Tim Keller, at about 7 minutes in to the 2nd Q&A session with Bryan Chapell (from these discussions), is basically asked, How do you ["preach the gospel to yourself every day"]? I worked hard to do justice to how Keller stated these things. Hope it's helpful.

I try to do petition in the morning. I try to do repentance in the evening. So I try to pray in the morning and in the evening. In the evening I look back on what I did wrong and repent. 

But in the middle of the day I try to catch myself and I look for four kinds of emotions. 

I always pray in the morning, "Lord make me happy enough in the grace of Jesus to avoid being proud, cold, scared, and hooked."

  • Now, by proud I mean what you think, too self-congratulatory. And maybe disdainful of people who I don't think have it together.
  • Cold means I'm just too absorbed in my concerns to really be compassionate and gracious and warm and joyful to the people around me. 
  • Scared means I'm just obviously too anxious and worried.
  • Hooked means...when you're overworked, it means for me...eating. Eating things I shouldn't eat just because it's a way of keeping my energy up, and also because it's a way of rewarding myself. Or looking at women more than once.

So: proud, cold, scared, hooked.

Now, in the middle of the day I get it out and say, "Have I been proud, scared, cold, or hooked in the last 3-4 hours. And the answer usually is "Yeah." And then I say, "How do I bring the Gospel to bear on that? How does the grace of God deal with it?" And you try to catch yourself in those feelings. So basically finding problem feelings and inordinate desires, catch them when they're happening, try to deal with them with the Gospel right there.

I call that "Quick Strike" on my idols around noon, if I can remember it. And repentance at night and petition in the morning. So I try to get into God's presence three times a day.

[...]

I know the times in which I've been most prone to temptation is when I've basically drop-kicked the whole practice, the discipline of it, for weeks on end because I've just been so busy and running ragged and that's when I can really sense myself being vulnerable.

Family Worship & Bible Reading

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I'm learning & growing to be the pastor of my family I've been called to be, and I'm enjoying leading them better in family worship and Bible reading. The recent Desiring God Pastor's Conference message by Joel Beeke on family worship was convicting and encouraging. You should check it out.

Right now we have five main resouces for family worship &/or Bible reading (singing resources aren't listed). For the most part our kids read Scripture in the morning and we use the other resouces at night. Let me know what resources you have found helpful in the comments below.

1. The Bible | Each of our kids has their own ESV Bible (compact Bible for my boys, my daughter has a prettier one). They are reading James every day in the mornings, sometimes on their own and sometimes with me and/or Molly.

2. ESV Study Bible | Same text with notes that help the family when we need a few interpretive helps on a passage. We have a copy permanently stationed in our living room for the kids to open if they need to check notes on their own. They don't do this much yet, but will get the hang of it.

3. The Story of God for Kids | Created by the good folks at Soma Communities in Tacoma, Washington. My family LOVES this. Well written and helpful notes for using it well, good questions to help it sink in. I have been reading it off my Kindle to them. Last night Elijah was peppering me with questions as he is piecing together the larger "Story of God" from the lessons blending together. Wonderful resource. Check out their other resources for adults and small groups.

Operation World

4. Operation World: A Prayer Guide to the Nations | Eye-opening for our kids as they learn about the world and the needs of the world from a missionary perspective. They love to thumb through the pages and learn about a new country. We are putting little biographies of missionaries in their hands and they want to learn about those countries today. We want to teach them to pray BIG prayers to our BIG God for our BIG world. UPDATE: Commenter reminded me of Window on the World, an Operation World of sorts for younger kids. We have that and the kids like it a lot.

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5. Four Holy Gospels | Just got this in the mail yesterday. It's the most beautiful Bible I've ever seen, with artwork by NYC artist Makoto Fujimura. Our family was able to meet Mako and attend the Crossway Books release event for the project. We now plan on using the Bible at least once a week (Sundays) to take turns reading aloud from a Gospel together before we leave the house to gather with our local church. It's nice to add a substantial piece like this into our family worship & Bible reading that will last through the years as a family treasure.

Prayer For Revival Should Never Be Parochial

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...Asahel Nettleton in America knew the importance of communities praying for each other. At Milton he urged the Christians to pray for revival but then added ' Whether you do or not, it is possible there may be one, for Christians in other places have agreed to pray for you'! This is a reminder than in our praying for revival we should never be parochial and long for the touch of God only for ourselves; we must pray for those churches that do not pray for themselves, as well as for those that do.

Brian Edwards, Revival: A People Saturated With God, p84

Check out the other books on revival I'm using for my current sermon series.

The Fountain-head of Influence

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Prayer therefore is one half of our Ministry and it gives to the other half all its power and success. It is the appointed medium of receiving spiritual communications for the instruction of our people. Those who walk most closely with God are most spiritually intelligent in "the secret of his covenant." Many can set their seal to Luther's testimony, that he often obtained more knowledge in a short time by prayer than by many hours of laborious and accurate study. It will also strengthen our habitual devotedness to our work as well as our natural capacities for it. Living near to the fountain-head of influence, we shall be in the constant receipt of fresh supplies of light support and consolation to assist us in our duties to enable us for our difficulties and to assure us of present acceptance and a suitable measure of ultimate success.

Charles Bridges, The Christian Ministry - at least part of the quote by Joel Beeke, DG Pastors Conference 2011 -- the words that got me are in bold.

Lots-o-Links 2.25.10

Dave Kraft: What Makes A Leader? series

Hudson Taylor on Evangelism...

Perhaps if there were more of that intense distress for souls that leads to tears, we should more frequently see the results we desire. Sometimes it may be that while we are complaining of the hardness of the hearts of those we are seeking to benefit, the hardness of our own hearts and our feeble apprehension of the solemn reality of eternal things may be the true cause of our want of success.” (via)

GCM Collective (Gospel Community Mission) launches on Monday...

It is a gospel community that lives out the mission of God together, as family, in a specific area and to a particular people group by declaring and demonstrating the gospel in tangible forms. God is moving to create thousands of new gospel communities on mission around the world. Be a part of this movement.

Did I Get Married Too Young?

When my very smart and relatively young girlfriend (she was then 20) first told her father she was thinking of marrying me, he refused to even hear of it. "How much college debt does he have?" he demanded. "What's the rush? Why not wait until your career and finances are established? How do you know he's the one?"

Brent Thomas sees Rob Bell's Drops Like Stars

Just because someone says something very well, that doesn’t mean someone says something very right.

Acts 29 Theology Workbook

Tim Keller: The Big Issues Facing the Church & How Should Churches and Leaders Be Preparing To Address These Big Issues Facing the Church?

Joel Virgo: Pray with Perspective series

Francis Chan: Public Passion vs Private Devotion

Last summer I came to a shocking realization that I had to share with my wife: If Jesus had a church in Simi Valley, mine would be bigger. People would leave His church to attend mine because I call for an easier commitment. I know better how to cater to people’s desires so they stick around. Jesus was never really good at that. He was the one who said, “He who loves father or mother … son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.” (Matt. 10:37 NIV) I’m much more popular than Jesus.

Having come to that conclusion, I came back to the church with resolve to call people to the same commitment Christ called them to. I knew that people would leave, and they have. I found comfort in that because, “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets.” (Luke 6:26 NIV) Over time though, the conviction can fade, and it gets tiresome seeing people leave. There is a constant pull to try to keep people around rather than truly lead the faithful who remain. When my church was started, I used to tell my wife that I didn’t care if we only had ten people, as long as they really loved God and desired to worship Him with all of their hearts. Where is that conviction now?

Lots-o-Links 2.17.10

A Beautiful Idea: Artists Changing the World is a beautiful idea

Bill Streger: What is Ash Wednesday?

Dave Kraft: What Makes a Leader? --> See the vision

A leader is, first and foremost, somebody with followers. If nobody is following, you are not leading, no matter what outstanding leadership qualities you might possess. Many years ago, my daughter, Anna, had a sign on her bike that read: "Lead, follow, or get out of my way," and the way she rode that bike, I believe she meant it. People are more than willing to follow someone who knows where they are going.

John Piper: How I almost quit

The church is looking for a vision for the future—and I do not have it. The one vision that the staff zeroed in on during our retreat Monday and Tuesday of this week (namely, building a sanctuary) is so unattractive to me today that I do not see how I could provide the leadership and inspiration for it.

Joel Virgo: Prevailing Prayer

Arthur Wallis once said, “A move of God will last as long as the Spirit of prayer that inspired it.” You can tell when this happens. It’s when prayer is used as a last resort, as a spare wheel, but it’s meant to be the steering wheel.

Bob Thune: Outline of John Owen's Mortification of Sin

Rob Bell at Out of Ur on the dangers of video preaching

Video is not church. You put images and music on a screen, and people will listen. But it's also dangerous. You're playing with fire. I think video technology deserves to be scrutinized heavily.

Lots-o-Links 1.15.10

Links

Praying for the people of Haiti. Please comment with your recommendations on where to donate to help, and feel free to include a link. Redeemer lists three ministries.

If you aren't reading Trevin Wax (Twitter) he's doing good blogging. His book, Holy Subversion, comes out soon. Worth checking out.

JD Payne, my church planting professor at SBTS, author, missiologist, is now on Twitter and blogging. I just got his newest book in the mail, Discovering Church Planting and look forward to digging into some sections that might help during our church renewal process.

Memphis is starting to talk about Jonathan McIntosh.

Mark Dever interviews Matt Chandler, pre-cancer diagnosis.

Brent Thomas is no longer the Baptist he never was.

Brief Molly Update: She is doing well, with no major symptoms or issues. Very blessed.