July 25, 2013

Words of Wisdom

"We need the Bible to give feeble feet a firm place to stand."
--Chase, Mitchell L., Behold Our Sovereign God

July 24, 2013

Sola Scriptura: The Westminster Confession of Faith (1646)

CHAPTER I. Of the holy Scripture.

I. Although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence, do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men inexcusable; yet are they not sufficient to give that knowledge of God, and of his will, which is necessary unto salvation; therefore it pleased the Lord, at sundry times, and in divers manners, to reveal himself, and to declare that his will unto his Church; and afterwards for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the Church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing; which maketh the holy Scripture to be most necessary; those former ways of God's revealing his will unto his people being now ceased.

II. Under the name of holy Scripture, or the Word of God written, are now contained all the Books of the Old and New Testament, which are these:

Of the Old Testament

Genesis Exodus Leviticus

Numbers Deuteronomy Joshua

Judges Ruth 1 Samuel

2 Samuel 1 Kings 2 Kings

1 Chronicles 2 Chronicles Ezra

Nehemiah Esther Job

Psalms Proverbs Ecclesiastes

Song of Solomon Isaiah Jeremiah

Lamentations Ezekiel Daniel

Hosea Joel Amos

Obadiah Jonah Micah

Nahum Habakkuk Zephaniah

Haggai Zechariah Malachi

Of the New Testament

Matthew Mark Luke

John Acts Romans

1 Corinthians 2 Corinthians Galatians

Ephesians Philippians Colossians

1 Thessalonians 2 Thessalonians 1 Timothy

2 Timothy Titus Philemon

Hebrews James 1 Peter

2 Peter 1 John 2 John

3 John Jude Revelation

All which are given by inspiration of God, to be the rule of faith and life.

III. The books commonly called Apocrypha, not being of divine inspiration, are no part of the Canon of Scripture; and therefore are of no authority in the Church of God, nor to be any otherwise approved, or made use of, than other human writings.

IV. The authority of the holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed and obeyed, dependeth not upon the testimony of any man or Church, but wholly upon God (who is truth itself), the Author thereof; and therefore it is to be received, because it is the Word of God.

V. We may be moved and induced by the testimony of the Church to an high and reverent esteem of the holy Scripture; and the heavenliness of the matter, the efficacy of the doctrine, the majesty of the style, the consent of all the parts, the scope of the whole (which is to give all glory to God), the full discovery it makes of the only way of man's salvation, the many other incomparable excellencies, and the entire perfection thereof, are arguments whereby it doth abundantly evidence itself to be the Word of God; yet, notwithstanding, our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit, bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts.

VI. The whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man's salvation, faith, and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men. Nevertheless we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word; and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and the government of the Church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed.

VII. All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all; yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed, for salvation, are so clearly propounded and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them.

VIII. The Old Testament in Hebrew (which was the native language of the people of God of old), and the New Testament in Greek (which at the time of the writing of it was most generally known to the nations), being immediately inspired by God, and by his singular care and providence kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentical; so as in all controversies of religion the Church is finally to appeal unto them. But because these original tongues are not known to all the people of God who have right unto, and interest in, the Scriptures, and are commanded, in the fear of God, to read and search them, therefore they are to be translated into the language of every people unto which they come, that the Word of God dwelling plentifully in all, they may worship him in an acceptable manner, and, through patience and comfort of the Scriptures, may have hope.

IX. The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture, is the Scripture itself; and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any scripture (which is not manifold, but one), it may be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly.

X. The Supreme Judge, by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture.

July 23, 2013

The Painful Reality of Sin

"The groan of humanity, as well as the groan of creation, by reason of sin, has been deep and long. Not always loud; often an undertone, more often drowned in laughter, but still terribly real."
  --- Horatius Bonar, God's Way of Holiness

July 22, 2013

Sola Scriptura: The Second Helvetic Confession (1566)

Chapter 1 - Of the Holy Scripture Being the True Word of God

Canonical Scripture. We believe and confess the canonical Scriptures of the holy prophets and apostles of both Testaments to be the true Word of God, and to have sufficient authority of themselves, not of men. For God himself spoke to the fathers, prophets, apostles, and still speaks to us through the Holy Scriptures.

And in this Holy Scripture, the universal Church of Christ has the most complete exposition of all that pertains to a saving faith, and also to the framing of a life acceptable to God; and in this respect it is expressly commanded by God that nothing either be added to or taken from the same.

Scripture Teaches Fully All Goodness. We judge, therefore, that from these Scriptures are to be derived true wisdom and godliness, the reformation and government of churches; as also instruction in all duties of piety; and, to be short, the confirmation of doctrines, and the rejection of all errors, moreover, all exhortations according to that word of the apostle, "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof," etc. (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Again, "I am writing these instructions to you," says the apostle to Timothy, "so that you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God," etc. (1 Tim. 3:14-15). Scripture is the Word of God. Again, the selfsame apostle to the Thessalonians: "When," says he, "you received the Word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it, not as the word of men but as what it really is, the Word of God," etc. (1 Thess. 2:13.) For the Lord himself has said in the Gospel, "It is not you who speak, but the Spirit of my Father speaking through you"; therefore "he who hears you hears me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me" (Matt. 10:20; Luke 10:16; John 13:20).

The Preaching of the Word of God Is the Word of God. Wherefore when this Word of God is now preached in the church by preachers lawfully called, we believe the the very Word of God is proclaimed, and received by the faithful; and that neither any other Word of God is to be invented nor is to be expected from heaven: and that now the Word itself which is preached is to be regarded, not the minister that preaches; for even if he be evil and a sinner, nevertheless the Word of God remains still true and good.

Neither do we think that therefore the outward preaching is to be thought as fruitless because the instruction in true religion depends on the inward illumination of the Spirit, or because it is written "And no longer shall each man teach his neighbor . . ., for they shall all know me" (Jer. 31:34), and "Neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth" (1 Cor. 3:7). For although "no one can come to Christ unless he be drawn by the Father" (John 6:4), and unless the Holy Spirit inwardly illumines him, yet we know that it is surely the will of God that his Word should be preached outwardly also. God could indeed, by his Holy Spirit, or by the ministry of an angel, without the ministry of St. Peter, have taught Cornelius in the Acts; but, nevertheless, he refers him to Peter, of whom the angel speaking says, "He shall tell you what you ought to do."

Inward Illumination Does Not Eliminate External Preaching. For he that illuminates inwardly by giving men the Holy Spirit, the same one, by way of commandment, said unto his disciples, "Go into all the world, and preach the Gospel to the whole creation" (Mark 16:15). And so in Philippi, Paul preached the Word outwardly to Lydia, a seller of purple goods; but the Lord inwardly opened the woman's heart (Acts 16:14). And the same Paul, after a beautiful development of his thought, in Rom. 10:17 at length comes to the conclusion, "So faith comes from hearing, and hearing from the Word of God by the preaching of Christ."

At the same time we recognize that God can illuminate whom and when he will, even without the external ministry, for that is in his power; but we speak of the usual way of instructing men, delivered unto us from God, both by commandment and examples.

Heresies. We therefore detest all the heresies of Artemon, the Manichaeans, the Valentinians, of Cerdon, and the Marcionites, who denied that the Scriptures proceeded from the Holy Spirit; or did not accept some parts of them, or interpolated and corrupted them.

Apocrypha. And yet we do not conceal the fact that certain books of the Old Testament were by the ancient authors called Apocryphal, and by others Ecclesiastical; inasmuch as some would have them read in the churches, but not advanced as an authority from which the faith is to be established. As Augustine also, in his De Civitate Dei, book 18, ch. 38, remarks that "in the books of the Kings, the names and books of certain prophets are cited"; but he adds that "they are not in the canon"; and that "those books which we have suffice unto godliness."

Chapter 2 - Of Interpreting the Holy Scriptures; and of Fathers, Councils, and Traditions

The True Interpretation of Scripture. The apostle Peter has said that the Holy Scriptures are not of private interpretation (II Peter 1:20), and thus we do not allow all possible interpretations. Nor consequently do we acknowledge as the true or genuine interpretation of the Scriptures what is called the conception of the Roman Church, that is, what the defenders of the Roman Church plainly maintain should be thrust upon all for acceptance. But we hold that interpretation of the Scripture to be orthodox and genuine which is gleaned from the Scriptures themselves (from the nature of the language in which they were written, likewise according to the circumstances in which they were set down, and expounded in the light of like and unlike passages and of many and clearer passages) and which agree with the rule of faith and love, and contributes much to the glory of God and man's salvation.

Interpretations of the Holy Fathers. Wherefore we do not despise the interpretations of the holy Greek and Latin fathers, nor reject their disputations and treatises concerning sacred matters as far as they agree with the Scriptures; but we modestly dissent from them when they are found to set down things differing from, or altogether contrary to, the Scriptures. Neither do we think that we do them any wrong in this matter; seeing that they all, with one consent, will not have their writings equated with the canonical Scriptures, but command us to prove how far they agree or disagree with them, and to accept what is in agreement and to reject what is in disagreement.

Councils. And in the same order also we place the decrees and canons of councils.

Wherefore we do not permit ourselves, in controversies about religion or matters of faith, to urge our case with only the opinions of the fathers or decrees of councils; much less by received customs, or by the large number who share the same opinion, or by the prescription of a long time. Who is the judge? Therefore, we do not admit any other judge than God himself, who proclaims by the Holy Scriptures what is true, what is false, what is to be followed, or what to be avoided. So we do assent to the judgments of spiritual men which are drawn from the Word of God. Certainly Jeremiah and other prophets vehemently condemned the assemblies of priests which were set up against the law of God; and diligently admonished us that we should not listen to the fathers, or tread in their path who, walking in their own inventions, swerved from the law of God.

Traditions of Men. Likewise we reject human traditions, even if they be adorned with high-sounding titles, as though they were divine and apostolical, delivered to the Church by the living voice of the apostles, and, as it were, through the hands of apostolical men to succeeding bishops which, when compared with the Scriptures, disagree with them; and by their disagreement show that they are not apostolic at all. For as the apostles did not contradict themselves in doctrine, so the apostolic men did not set forth things contrary to the apostles. On the contrary, it would be wicked to assert that the apostles by a living voice delivered anything contrary to their writings. Paul affirms expressly that he taught the same things in all churches (1 Cor. 4:17). And, again, "For we write you nothing but what you can read and understand." (2 Cor. 1:13). Also, in another place, he testifies that he and his disciples--that is, apostolic men--walked in the same way, and jointly by the same Spirit did all things (2 Cor. 12:18). Moreover, the Jews in former times had the traditions of their elders; but these traditions were severely rejected by the Lord, indicating that the keeping of them hinders God's law, and that God is worshipped in vain by such traditions (Matt. 15:1ff.; Mark 7:1 ff.).

July 19, 2013

Some Thoughts On Prayerlessness

Benefits of Not Praying

  • None.

Dangers of Not Praying

  • Growth in Pride & Self-sufficiency
  • A growing distance between yourself and God
  • Growing hard in your attitude toward others
  • Growing deaf to instruction found in the Bible
  • A growing inability to speak the gospel with conviction
  • Growing disobedience to God with less and less concern over it
(These kinds of growth we can all do without.)

From Tim Challies and Nancy DeMoss:  More Thoughts On Prayerlessness

July 18, 2013

Praying... With All Prayer

In the following video, I get to share the second of a two-part sermon from Ephesians 6:10-20. This sermon covers the final three verses in that passage. Prayer is critical for the battle of the Christian life. We are to be occupied in prayer at all times. How is that practical when we have other important necessities to attend to, such as work, caring for the family, and driving?

July 16, 2013

Some Thoughts On Prayer

Prayer is not:

Commanding God around.

A magic incantation that brings God under your control.

Using the power of words to create the reality you want to possess.

Prayer is:

Calling out to God.

Acknowledging God's power and your own powerlessness.

An act of faith that God hears your prayer.

A cry for help in the battle of the Christian life.

An act of submission before the Sovereign Lord of the universe.

Praying at all times, with all prayer, alert with all perseverance, for all the saints.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.  -Ephesians 6:10-20, ESV, emphasis added.

July 13, 2013

Words of Wisdom

"It should be ever borne in mind that the necessity of holiness is absolute. With regard to other things, some, though desirable, are not essential, and others, though essential under ordinary circumstances, are not universally and absolutely necessary. But holiness is necessary in such a sense that salvation, without it, is impossible, because salvation principally consists in this very transformation of the heart."  --Charles Hodge, The Way of Life, p.352

July 12, 2013

Apologetic Methodology - An Interview with Robert M. Bowman, Jr.

I have been a student of Christian apologetics for several decades. There has been a constant kerfuffle between the classical, evidential, and presuppositional schools of thought in that time. The barbs from one school to another range from "That's hard to follow" to  "You're doing it all wrong" to "You're a heretic." Typically the most acidic comments issue from the presuppositional school, which is the one I find most challenging to understand, since it is deeply philosophical in nature.

During that same time, I have read and interacted with apologist Rob Bowman. Rob is one of my heroes of the faith. The guy has demonstrated nothing short of enduring perseverance in dealing with obstinate unbelief of several religions, especially Jehovah's Witness and Mormon, interacting persistently and patiently with adherents in group settings and at an individual level as well.

A few years ago, Rob co-authored a book with Ken Boa called Faith Has Its Reasons. This is a survey of various schools of thought concerning Christian apologetics. The most surprising feature of the book is an irenic tone where Boa and Bowman encourage each apologetic school to look at and learn from other schools. Rather than calling for all-out war between apologetics methods, they seek to bring a little peace between brothers.

The following video is an interview with Rob where he discusses the book at length. 

July 10, 2013

Sola Scriptura: The Belgic Confession of Faith (1561)

Article 3: Of the written Word of God.

We confess that this Word of God was not sent, nor delivered by the will of man, but that holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, as the apostle Peter saith. And that afterwards God, from a special care, which he has for us and our salvation, commanded his servants, the prophets and apostles, to commit his revealed word to writing; and he himself wrote with his own finger, the two tables of the law. Therefore we call such writings holy and divine Scriptures.

Article 4: Canonical Books of the Holy Scripture.

We believe that the Holy Scriptures are contained in two books, namely, the Old and New Testament, which are canonical, against which nothing can be alleged. These are thus named in the Church of God. The books of the Old Testament are, the five books of Moses, namely: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy; the books of Joshua, Ruth, Judges, the two books of Samuel, the two of the Kings, two books of the Chronicles, commonly called Paralipomenon, the first of Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, the Psalms of David, the three books of Solomon, namely, the Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Songs; the four great prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel; and the twelve lesser prophets, namely, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.

Those of the New Testament are the four evangelists, namely: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John; the Acts of the Apostles; the fourteen epistles of the apostle Paul, namely: one to the Romans, two to the Corinthians, one to the Galatians, one to the Ephesians, one to the Philippians, one to the Colossians, two to the Thessalonians, two to Timothy, one to Titus, one to Philemon, and one to the Hebrews; the seven epistles of the other apostles, namely, one of James, two of Peter, three of John, one of Jude; and the Revelation of the apostle John.

Article 5: From whence the Holy Scriptures derive their dignity and authority.

We receive all these books, and these only, as holy and canonical, for the regulation, foundation, and confirmation of our faith; believing without any doubt, all things contained in them, not so much because the Church receives and approves them as such, but more especially because the Holy Ghost witnesseth in our hearts, that they are from God, whereof they carry the evidence in themselves. For the very blind are able to perceive that the things foretold in them are fulfilling.

Article 6: The difference between the canonical and apocryphal books.

We distinguish those sacred books from the apocryphal, namely: the third book of Esdras, the books of Tobias, Judith, Wisdom, Jesus Syrach, Baruch, the appendix to the book of Esther, the Song of the three Children in the Furnace, the history of Susannah, of Bell and the Dragon, the prayer of Manasses, and the two books of the Maccabees. All of which the Church may read and take instruction from, so far as they agree with the canonical books; but they are far from having such power and efficacy, as that we may from their testimony confirm any point of faith, or of the Christian religion; much less detract from the authority of the other sacred books.

Article 7: The sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures, to be the only rule of faith.

We believe that those Holy Scriptures fully contain the will of God, and that whatsoever man ought to believe, unto salvation, is sufficiently taught therein. For, since the whole manner of worship, which God requires of us, is written in them at large, it is unlawful for any one, though an apostle, to teach otherwise than we are now taught in the Holy Scriptures: nay, though it were an angel from heaven, as the apostle Paul saith. For, since it is forbidden, to add unto or take away anything from the word of God, it doth thereby evidently appear, that the doctrine thereof is most perfect and complete in all respects. Neither do we consider of equal value any writing of men, however holy these men may have been, with those divine Scriptures, nor ought we to consider custom, or the great multitude, or antiquity, or succession of times and persons, or councils, decrees or statutes, as of equal value with the truth of God, for the truth is above all; for all men are of themselves liars, and more vain than vanity itself. Therefore, we reject with all our hearts, whatsoever doth not agree with this infallible rule, which the apostles have taught us, saying, Try the spirits whether they are of God. Likewise, if there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house.

July 8, 2013

God Calls You, Christian, Into Battle

God both calls and equips you, Christian brother and sister, for battle with the devil. His armor is more than sufficient to meet the attacks. The sermon is from Ephesians 6:10-17. Please take up your sword and follow along.

The Hard Work of Preaching

I am currently reading the book Saving Eutychus by Gary Millar and Phil Campbell. It is a convicting,  encouraging,  and wise book. In describing their approach to preaching, expository preaching to be specific, they  make the following statement.

"Preaching like this is hard work. And, in one sense, it doesn't get any easier  the longer you're at it. That's why all of us need to develop a culture of llifelong learning. If we are going to take teaching the Bible seriously, then we will need to work at it constantly, developing our ability to understand, and teach, and apply, the Scriptures. Uncaging the lion involves rather a lot of hard work."  --p38-39.

As you can see, the demands on the preacher to understand the Bible and to communicate it clearly are rigorous. To hold a high-view of Scripture and God's design for it to change and shape people demands this kind of commitment by the preacher. I believe this holds true as well for teachers in the church, no matter the age-group being taught. Millar and Campbell have hit on a very important truth...  to continue growing in our ability to carefully handle God's Word, we must continue learning - to the point where it becomes a habitual, intentional, lifelong learning effort.

There is much to commend in Saving Eutychus. I will try to post a review when I finish the book. I do recommend it very highly to pastors and Bible teachers in the church.

In the vein of preaching, this post by Omaha pastor Erik Raymond delivers simple, practical insights you can put to use immediately in your preaching and teaching.

There you have it... a combined approach to improve your Bible preaching and teaching: lifelong learning and simple, practical insights you can put to use immediately.

May God be glorified in our preaching and teaching.

July 6, 2013

Sola Scriptura: The Scots Confession

The Scots Confession

A. D. 1560 - John Knox


Chapter 19 - The Authority of the Scriptures

As we believe and confess the Scriptures of God sufficient to instruct and make perfect the man of God, so do we affirm and avow their authority to be from God, and not to depend on men or angels. We affirm, therefore, that those who say the Scriptures have no other authority save that which they have received from the Kirk are blasphemous against God and injurious to the true Kirk, which always hears and obeys the voice of her own Spouse and Pastor, but takes not upon her to be mistress over the same.

Chapter 20 - General Councils, Their Power, Authority, and the Cause of Their Summoning

As we do not rashly condemn what good men, assembled together in general councils lawfully gathered, have set before us; so we do not receive uncritically whatever has been declared to men under the name of the general councils, for it is plain that, being human, some of them have manifestly erred, and that in matters of great weight and importance. So far then as the council confirms its decrees by the plain Word of God, so far do we reverence and embrace them. But if men, under the name of a council, pretend to forge for us new articles of faith, or to make decisions contrary to the Word of God, then we must utterly deny them as the doctrine of devils, drawing our souls from the voice of the one God to follow the doctrines and teachings of men. The reason why the general councils met was not to make any permanent law which God had not made before, nor yet to form new articles for our belief, nor to give the Word of God authority; much less to make that to be his Word, or even the true interpretation of it, which was not expressed previously by his holy will in his Word; but the reason for councils, at least of those that deserve that name, was partly to refute heresies, and to give public confession of their faith to the generations following, which they did by the authority of God's written Word, and not by any opinion or prerogative that they could not err by reason of their numbers. This, we judge, was the primary reason for general councils. The second was that good policy and order should be constitutes and observed in the Kirk where, as in the house of God, it becomes all things to be done decently and in order. Not that we think any policy of order of ceremonies can be appointed for all ages, times, and places; for as ceremonies which men have devised are but temporal, so they may, and ought to be, changed, when they foster superstition rather than edify the Kirk.

July 5, 2013

Of Fire Pits and Prayer

I must confess...  I love a good campfire. Whether at the campground or in the fire pit in the back yard, I put down roots right next to the fire and hang out there until it's all done. The smell, the sounds, the dancing flames, the soothing wonder of it all. Our fires have been one of the best places for family conversation and also for family silence together.

Before we start the fire, we make sure we have an ample supply of fuel for the fire. A lot of it, please and thank you. I build a leaning tower of wood and light it up. No wood. No fire. It's as simple as that. Without the preparation of gathering and chopping the wood, there is nothing to light.

I see many Christians standing around holding a full tank of prayer lighter fluid and a big match, with the gleam of good intentions in their eyes. And nothing comes of it. There's no fuel for the prayer fire. There has been no preparation fitting for prayer (no time in the Bible, no vision of our extreme need and God's extreme generosity, no worship vocabulary beyond the standard sunday school answers, no attempt to see the war that already exists in the life of the Christian and for the souls of the lost). Instead, there has been a lot of fun, fun, fun. Entertainment by the forest full. Distractions by the thousands.

When this sad situation is pointed out, many Christians panic and immediately set the match to the lighter fluid, and have the hottest one or two minutes of prayer that you can imagine. These impromptu prayer immolation pyres are not necessary, dear friends.  If you are one that struggles with prayer, here's an article from author Don Whitney that recommends remedial, accomplishable, and wise steps to be taken.  To give you a preview of his main point, here's a small excerpt.

"The Psalms are the best place in Scripture from which to pray Scripture.  This is because of the original purpose and usage of the Psalms.  The Psalms were songs inspired by God for the purpose of being reflected in song back to God.  Moreover, there’s a Psalm for every sigh of the heart.  The entire range of human emotion is recorded in the 150 Psalms."

You can read the entire article here.

July 3, 2013

All of Christ for all of __________________ (fill in the blank)

Guilt. It's one of the great hurdles to evangelism. I'm not talking about guilt and forgiveness in the context of the Gospel. No... that would be the very heart of evangelism - the Gospel itself. Instead, I'm thinking of the huge hurdles we build concerning actually doing evangelism. It seems that we evangelicals continually feel the need to run to extremes, to place the bar always far above our own heads. For example, if you're not evangelizing down-and-out authentically homeless people, then are you truly doing evangelism?

How foolish we are, to manufacture guilt that does not exist and allow it to hold us back from reaching out to the very real people who do exist in our circle of influence. "You mean, I could actually talk to the empty-nester about the Gospel over a cup of coffee?" Yup. That's what I mean.

For some helpful thoughts on evangelism, check out what Pastor Kevin Miller says in The Gospel for All People.