Let’s Just Settle Down

My dad had many sayings. When my friends and I got rowdy as a kid, he would sometimes utter, “You boys need to settle down.”

Now in my 60’s and having been exposed to so much in the Christian and religious world for these years, could we as pastors/Christian leaders just settle down?

My background is one of . . . growing up in a pastor’s home (My dad was Church of the Nazarene until his Army days in Korea, and then came to understand the security of believer in Christ, thanks to a godly chaplain who taught him the Word!); The Wilds Christian Camp (Doc Hay, Rock Royer, Major Brooks, etc.); Bob Jones University (college and seminary plus a host of its graduates including all of its presidents to date, Bible Conference speakers, faculty, etc.); Tennessee Temple University graduates; the Sword of the Lord crowd; my Southern Baptist grandfather who pastored in Kentucky and southwest Virginia; the GARBC; the many men who fellowshipped in what was for years known as the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship (Now Foundations Baptist Fellowship); Dallas Theological Seminary grads; being mentored personally by the likes of J.B. Williams, J. Robert Martin, Randy Patten, Reynold Lemp and many others; plus being influenced from a distance by the likes of Charles Stanley, Chuck Swindoll, Adrian Rogers, Henry Blackaby, David Jeremiah, and more.

In more recent years, my background continues to be of the many mentioned above plus Men’s Prayer Advance, 9Marks, T4G, CoRE Conferences, plus many, many books authored by Tripp, Ortlund, Wells, Bridges, Payne & Marshall, Thomas, Huegal, Ryrie, Walvord, Pickering, etc.

“What’s the point?’, you may ask.

Well, I want to say that for all of us in ministry, none of us have it all figured out; none of us knows all the facts about everyone or every situation; none of us know more than our God; none of us have the absolute right methodology; none of us are the standard; and none of us have arrived!

For all of us in ministry, none of us have it all figured out . . . none of us have arrived!

We all come from various backgrounds and are all influenced by a diverse group of people, churches, institutions and movements, but we are saved by grace through faith alone in the cross work and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. We are one in Christ. We are made complete in Christ. We are sealed by the Holy Spirit. We are children of the living God!

Therefore, understanding that there are clear, biblical points of separation and the application thereof, such as preeminently, the Gospel (Galatians 1:1-10), may I say that we need to . . .

  • Give one another the benefit of the doubt.
  • Be gracious and kind.
  • Stop making fun of our brothers on social media whether you agree with him or not. (No wonder the lost world doesn’t want our Jesus, seeing the way we lampoon one another.)
  • Throw away our Pharisaical microscope.
  • Give one another space to grow in sanctification.
  • Cheer our brother on when he’s down. When revival breaks out where he pastors but not where you serve, rejoice and praise God with him!
  • Personally call up the brother we have issue with instead of talking about him behind his back or on social media.
  • Exchange the time of criticizing and posting for time on our knees in prayer.
  • Let God handle error by His righteous standard rather than us being “the enforcer.”
  • Meet with your brother for coffee; get to know him and disciple each other.
  • Confess and repent of our arrogance and pride.
  • Exercise grace.
  • Remember, we will live forever together in Glory!

Throw away your Pharisaical microscope.

In times past, I have jokingly said, for instance to a group of four men, “There are only four people in the world that’s perfect. That’s me and you three, and . . . I am doubtful about you three!”

Proverbs 22:4 recently challenged my heart again . . . By humility and the fear of the LORD (not man) are riches and honor and life.

May I suggest that we soak our soul often in the truths of Colossians 1:15-18 and go deep in meditation and prayer in Philippians 1:1-2:18?

Let’s join Paul in prayer . . . And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, 10 that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, 11 being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:9-11)

Let’s just settle down.

500+ Singing Men!!

“I was blown away by the singing from the very first song!”

That was the testimony from one of our men who attended Men’s Prayer Advance for the first time last week. Singing is one of the blessed ingredients of three days of the Advance in accordance to the Word of God.

Psalm 13: 6 – I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.

Psalm 30:4 – Sing unto the Lord, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.

Psalm 47:6 – Sing praises to God, sing praises: sing praises unto our King, sing praises.

Psalm 89:1 – I will sing of the mercies of the Lord for ever: with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations.

Psalm 149:1 – Praise ye the Lord. Sing unto the Lord a new song, and his praise in the congregation of saints.

Acts 16:25 – And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.

Colossians 3:16 – Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

There are two threads woven through these Scripture passages.  First of all, singing is mentioned in each verse.  The second the point of this blog post.  These and many other references found in the Bible mention men who sang.  Some of these were David, Heman, Ethan, Jeduthun, Asaph, Paul, Silas and a host of others!  These men were not weak men, but men of God who fought, endured hardships, and stood for righteousness!

Men should be the spiritual leaders in every area of the Christian walk, and therefore, we should also be the leaders in singing praise to our God! 

In John MacArthur’s commentary on Ephesians 5:18-19, (The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, Ephesians [Moody Press], p. 256) he writes, “The first consequence of the Spirit-filled life that Paul mentioned was not mountain-moving faith, an ecstatic spiritual experience, dynamic speaking ability, or any other such thing. It was simply a heart that sings.”

“Joyful, exuberant, heart-felt singing is one evidence that a church is Spirit-filled.” (Steven Cole, Spirit-Filled Singing, Bible.org)

Imagine being in a group of 500-700 men lifting their hearts and voices in song to God in praise and thanksgiving for Who He is and what He has done!! That’s Men’s Prayer Advance! Every service is one of anticipatory, expectant singing that causes you to long for Christ and the glorious worship in Heaven! Hands are raised, tears flow, shouts of joy ring out as men are edified and encouraged and God is glorified!!

Men, may I challenge you to be th e leader in singing at home and in church?  Will you join us this April 7-9, 2022 or January 2023 for Men’s Prayer Advance.  I have experienced this gathering over and again, and it is a bit of heaven on this side!

Men’s Prayer Advance Albemarle, NC

Men’s Prayer Advance, January 2023

No Frills, No Fluff

What would draw hundreds of men from Missouri, Ohio, New Jersey, South Carolina, and even California?

Great entertainment? Good food? Well-known speakers? Attractive venue?

What would you say if I told you the draw is . . . prayer?

Really? Yes, indeed!

Men’s Prayer Advance.

Each year men gather in the Roanoke, VA, area to worship by listening to strong, Holy-Spirit infused preaching, full-throttle singing with hearts and voices in joyful praise, and most of all, meeting together at the Throne of Grace in passionate, expectant prayer!! This is “an encounter with Christ!”

Men’s Prayer Advance is a no frills, no fluff meeting properly described by its name.

MEN’S: Luke 18:1 says, Men ought always to pray, and 1 Timothy, 2:8, I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling. You should see and hear these men pouring out their hearts to the Lord in transparent, honest, pleading, crying out, believing prayer! The highlight every year occurs on Friday at 11:00 a.m. with “Sweet Hour of Prayer” where men get alone with God for one hour or more in prayer of praise and petitions. One man said to me, “I missed lunch because my time with the Lord would so good!!” Some prayer meetings continue on into late Thursday night and Friday morning after the Thursday evening service.

PRAYER: Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation (Matthew 26:41). First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:1-4). 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 (Ephesians 6:18). “Prayer doesn’t begin on earth, it begins in heaven.” (Ron Lynch)

ADVANCE: As we hear so often from Harold Vaughan, the founder of Christlife Ministries, “This is not a prayer retreat, it’s a prayer advance! We’re not backing up, giving up, or slowing down.” For three days, from Thursday at 1:30 p.m. until Saturday noon, it is an intentional move toward God! James gives us an example of a man advancing in prayer. The heartfelt and persistent prayer of a righteous man (believer) can accomplish much [when put into action and made effective by God—it is dynamic and can have tremendous power]. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours [with the same physical, mental, and spiritual limitations and shortcomings], and he prayed intensely for it not to rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. 18 Then he prayed again, and the sky gave rain and the land produced its crops [as usual]. (James 5:16-18 AMP)

What draws you to have an encounter with Christ? Have you met with Him today in prayer? Are you advancing or retreating?

“The greatest thing anyone can do for God and man is pray. It is not the only thing; but it is the chief thing. The great people of the earth today are the people who pray. I do not mean those who talk about prayer; not those who can explain about prayer; but I mean those people who take time and pray.” ~ S. D Gordon

(If you would like information about future Advances for men, ladies, students and couples, check out Prayer Advances.)

21 Days of Prayer (Day #9)

Praise the Lord for all of you who have joined us on this 21 day journey. My heart was thrilled to see the number of hands raised in the morning gathering signifying their commitment to prayer.

Why 21 days? According to www.biblestudy.org, “Twenty-one symbolizes the great wickedness of rebellion and sin. After the children of Israel left Egyptian bondage they had 21 major rebellious events as they traveled and wandered in the wilderness.”

On Monday, February 8th, while driving to Kingsport, TN, and talking with the Lord about the future at Boones Creek Bible Church and the sin that abounds in our world today, He brought prayer and fasting to my mind.

On Tuesday, February 9th, one of the passages in my daily Bible reading was Luke 5:35, But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them; then they will fast in those days, which set my mind to thinking about fasting and prayer. Then I read in Philippians 2:21, For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus. A reason to fast is to break us away from a self-seeking mentality. Warren Wiersbe said, “In a very real sense, all of us live either in Philippians 1:21, For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain, or in Philippians 2:21.” Then I read Psalm 119:145-152 which speaks of crying out to the LORD with our whole heart.

On Wednesday, February 10th, continuing to seek the Lord’s will for BCBC in reference to prayer and fasting, I read in Luke 6 these words, Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God (6:12). As I read, I wrote in my journal, “Why pray and fast?” The answer came in my reading of Philippians 3, Have no confidence in the flesh. . . . that I may gain Christ (3:3, 9). Making the connection, fasting is not a ritual to brag about or think oneself more spiritual than others or to become a legalistic matter, but it is a time set aside to remove all distractions, even necessary food, to spend concentrated time seeking the Lord’s face in submission, repentance and surrender. The Christ in me fasted and prayed, why shouldn’t I?

In the days to follow, my daily Bible reading continued to contain passages about prayer, fasting, and crying out to God. Upon reading 2 Chronicles 13-21, the Lord settled it in my heart, and we began this journey on Sunday, March 14.

As we work our way through this second week, may I encourage you to:

  • Consider fasting and prayer for the purpose of hungering and thirsting for God rather than earthly, human desires (Psalm 42:1-2a); for the purpose of seeing strongholds of evil (2 Corinthians 10:3-6) torn down in our hearts in such a way that it would usher in a great revival that would “shake” BCBC (Acts 4:31), that would melt our idols and cause us to die daily (Galatians 2:20; Romans 6).
  • Consider fasting and prayer with a proper biblical motive — seeking God’s face, not His hand — with a broken, repentant and contrite spirit (Psalms 34:18; 51:17; 2 Chronicles 7:14; 1 Peter 5:5-7).
  • Consider keeping a journal of the truths God is teaching you about Himself, Christ, the Holy Spirt and yourself. Also, answers to prayer; changes God is bringing to your attitude about prayer; the blessings of prayer and fasting; perhaps writing out your prayers.

I heard Evangelist Ron Lynch say in a recent message that God got ahold of his heart two years ago at Men’s Prayer Advance in reference to his viewpoint on prayer. He said, “God taught me that we are not to have a ‘prayer life’ but a ‘life of prayer’.” May these 21 days in the presence of the Lord bring us to have no confidence in the flesh (Phil. 3:3), but to have a vibrant, faith-filled, obedient, passionate, cup-running-over, expectant, crying out, submissive “life of prayer.”

Prayer lays hold of God’s plan and becomes the link between his will and its accomplishment on earth. Amazing things happen, and we are given the privilege of being the channels of the Holy Spirit’s prayer. — Elisabeth Elliot

21 Days of Prayer (Day #8)

THE GRATITUDE PROTOCOL (Harold Vaughan)

“Enter into his gates with thanksgiving.”  Psalm 100:4

Psalm 100 contains three protocols for prayer. The first is the gratitude protocol. Our initial approach toward heaven must always be with thankfulness: “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving” (Ps. 100:4). The “gates” represent the doorway into God’s presence—the threshold to the throne of God. Man’s initial approach to God should be with gratitude. Psalm 100:4 goes further by saying, “Be thankful unto him, and bless his name.”

We can take things for granted, or we can take things with gratitude, but we can’t take them both ways. Daily God heaps blessings upon us and bears our burdens (see Ps. 68:19). Gratitude is the pathway into God’s blessings as we acknowledge His favor. Psalm 103 directs us to “bless the Lord” and not forget His many benefits (Ps. 103:2). Gratitude is simply rehearsing all the advantages, favors, kindnesses, and mercies God has bestowed upon us. We must not get so busy adding up our troubles that we forget to count our blessings. Thanking God will move us from a mentality of defeat into a stance of faith. The psalmist said, “I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the Lord” (Ps. 116:17).

But what about those times when we are overwhelmed, exhausted, depleted, perplexed, and baffled? In our heart we do not feel grateful. In times like this, we should pray out loud, “Thank You, Jesus. Thank You, Jesus. Thank You, Jesus.” As we keep repeating this faith-based prayer, it will bless God’s heart and help us. Thanking God should be a deliberate, willful act in times when our emotions are lacking.

We should not fall for the notion that we should not say thank you unless we feel thankful. Our emotions are ever changing and unreliable. We should pay no attention to our feelings. Spiritual maturity does what is right because it is right. Eventually, our emotions will catch up with our verbalized thanksgiving. Gratitude is habit forming. We must daily enter into God’s gates with thanksgiving.

We should thank God not only when things are good but choose to thank Him because He is good, especially when our circumstances are bad. Most anybody can thank God when He gives us things, but Job praised the Lord when He took things from him. Job blessed the Lord in the worst of times and refused to think the worst about God (see Job 1:21). Job chose to bless the Lord in his misery, and so can we! Thanking God with no emotional backup is not hypocrisy. It demonstrates trust in God.

We should never begin our prayer time with a “grocery list” of requests. We should always consider our present position (we are forgiven, justified, adopted, and accepted) in light of our former condition (we were lost, estranged from God, and doomed). Then we should enter His gates with gratitude.

God gives and forgives, so we should give thanks! When God gives, we should thank Him. When God forgives, we should thank Him. Both God’s giving and forgiving call for thanksgiving. “Gratitude to God makes even a temporal blessing a taste of heaven,” said William Romaine.1

We should not only thank God for forgiving the sins we’ve committed and confessed, but we should also thank Him for the sins we did not commit. We may have done badly, but we could have done much worse! What we have done is insignificant compared to what we might have done. We can express our appreciation for God’s restraining grace in our lives.

“He who forgets the language of gratitude can never be on speaking terms with happiness,” said Neil Strait.2 Our happiness in life is in direct proportion to our gratitude.

When I was in high school, a special speaker came to our church. I visited with him, and he recommended that I go on a “quarantine of thanksgiving”—go three days without asking God for anything. I thought this was a strange idea, so I asked him, “Are you telling me not to pray for three days?”

“No,” he said. “I am recommending that you spend the next three days thanking God and not asking for anything.”

I decided to give it a try. It seemed awkward at first, because most of my praying had consisted of asking God for things. Now I was forced to think about what I was praying. It required effort to isolate my blessings and benefits and thank God for them individually. But the longer I thanked God, the more I realized how fortunate I was.

Not only did I thank God for all His benefits to me, but I also started thanking God for my problems. The Bible says that we should be “giving thanks always for all things unto God” (Eph. 5:20). This verse does not make any distinction between good things and bad things. It says to be constantly giving thanks “for all things.” First Thessalonians 5:18 states, “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” Not everything is good, but God is good all the time. So I thanked God for problems, difficulties, convictions over sin, and even temptations. I began to view these adversities as opportunities to trust the Lord.

After three days of intentional gratitude, I realized how blessed I was. I also began to grasp that when I spent time thanking God for my blessings and problems, I would never run out of material to thank Him for!

Reflection

  1. We can take things for granted, or we can take things with gratitude, but we can’t take them both ways.
  2. We should not get so busy adding up our troubles that we forget to count our blessings.
  3. We should always consider our present position in light of our former condition.
  4. Our happiness in life is in direct proportion to our gratitude.

Application

  1. Count your blessings. Thank God for the mercies and benefits you have received from Him.
  2. Tell the Lord thank you for forgiving the sins you have confessed. Then thank God for the sins you have not committed.
  3. Dedicate yourself to a three-day quarantine of thanksgiving, or at least a season of gratitude—thanking God only.
  4. Practice the gratitude protocol as you rise every morning. Better yet, thank God for a new day before you rise.

Taken from “Approaching God‘s Throne: Biblical Protocols for Prayer”. CLICK HERE to order your copy TODAY!

Notes:

1. William Romaine, “William Romaine Quotes,” AZquotes, www.azquotes.com/author/30002-William_Romaine (accessed October 28, 2019).

2. C. Neil Strait, ed., The Speaker’s Book of Inspiration: A Treasury of Contemporary Religious and Inspirational Thought (Atlanta: Droke, 1972).

Men, Advance!!

Three days of . . .

  • powerful, practical preaching,
    • effectual, fervent prayer,
      • joy-filled, uplifted singing from the heart,
        • penetrating conviction of the Holy Spirit,
          • intentional exaltation of the Lord Jesus Christ,
            • heaven-like reunion fellowship

. . . that’s Men’s Prayer Advance 2021!!

And it’s been that way every year as far back as I can remember. My first Advance was way up in the mountains of northern Virginia. You basically went to the end of world and made a right turn. Tucked back in those hills was a place for men to gather and meet with God. In more recent days, we have met at different locations around the Roanoke, VA, area, but God still meets with us in glorious power as we meet with Him!

I have always loved the title of this event . . . Prayer Advance. As a man, we need times of retreating for rest and regathering, but when it comes to prayer, we must be advancing and advancing and advancing! When you consider the absolute, transcendent, magnificence of our God of Whom it was said, For with God nothing will be impossible (Luke 1:37) and Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him (1 John 5:14-15), the call to prayer is one of advancement!!

Oswald Chambers said, “Prayer does not fit us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work.” Satan and your flesh will do anything to keep you from praying, especially prayer that is as Harold Vaughan challenged us, “confident, faith-filled praying that reaches up and cries out to God” (1 John 5:14-15; Psalms 3:4; 5:1; 18:6; 30:2,8; 34:6; 72:1; 88:11,13; 102:1; 107:6,13; 120:1;138:3;142:1).

Men, every time you pray, you are calling God in on your situation; you are moving into kingdom work; you are dwelling in the arms of all-sufficient grace and omnipotence; you are trusting in the One Who is omniscient and omnipresent; you are crying out to the One Who is holy, righteous, and perfect in all His ways, Who loves you with an everlasting love because of your position in Christ. (If you need illumination along these lines, spend time reading and praying Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 1:15-23 and 3:14-21 after meditating on Ephesians 1:1-14 and the Psalms passage listed above.)

Begin your time with the Lord, unrushed, by praising Him for Who He is and thanking Him for what He has done (Psalm 100:4). As we were reminded this week, let’s move away from problem-based praying to Christ-exalted prayer that believes what God can do over what man attempts to do.

I’ll be sharing more this week about Prayer Advance. In the meantime, men, let’s make advancements today on our knees before the Throne of Grace!!

Travailing, Prevailing Prayer

“It may seem ‘unnecessary’ to get on your knees for multiple hours each and every day, but, may I remind you that unless someone rises up and says, ‘Lord, I’m willing to travail,’ there are lives, promises, and spiritual realities that will not be born into our day and age. Effectual, fervent prayer is how God changes this world and bestows upon it the beauty, grace and power that He purchased at the cross.” (Leslie Ludy, Wrestling Prayer: A Passionate Communion with God)

Lord, how they have increased who trouble me!
Many are they who rise up against me.
2 Many are they who say of me,
“There is no help for him in God.” Selah

3 But You, O Lord, are a shield for me,
My glory and the One who lifts up my head.
4 I cried to the Lord with my voice,
And He heard me from His holy hill. Selah

5 I lay down and slept;
I awoke, for the Lord sustained me.
6 I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people
Who have set themselves against me all around.

7 Arise, O Lord;
Save me, O my God!
For You have struck all my enemies on the cheekbone;
You have broken the teeth of the ungodly.
8 Salvation belongs to the Lord.
Your blessing is upon Your people. Selah

Do your best to put yourself in King David’s shoes as he is fleeing from his rebellious son, Absalom (2 Samuel 15:13-17). Listen to him pray these words found in this psalm. What do you hear? What would you see if you were near by? What would be his attitude? Would you say he travailed and prevailed in prayer? Perhaps read through the prayer again looking for the answers to these questions as well as those below.

  • Do you think he was praying silently?
  • Do you think he was praying nonchalantly?
  • Was his prayer full of “Christianese prayer language”?
  • Was he crying out to God?
  • Did he pray out of desperation?
  • Was his prayer fervent; full of faith and praise?
  • How was his prayer akin to the praying of Jesus?

Friends, may I invite you into the secret place before our holy God through the blood of Jesus Christ to travail and prevail in prayer?

George Mueller said, “It is not enough to begin to pray, nor to pray aright; nor is it enough to continue for a time to pray; but we must patiently, believingly, continue in prayer until we obtain an answer.

Yesterday

Heartbroken. Grieved. Hopeful. Concerned. Saddened. Not surprised. Confident. Driven to prayer.

These and other emotions filled my mind and heart yesterday in reference to the events in Washington, D.C. And, there will be more to come, I’m sure. Nevertheless, along with many, many others who will offer their thoughts via social media, blogs, podcasts, etc., I share these with all sincerity of heart and for God’s glory.

  1. I was born on January 22, 1959 in Marietta, Ohio, at which time I became a citizen of the United States of America. My parents raised me to love and honor our nation, and I do so to this day. While as a five-year-old living in Marietta, I knelt down beside our living room couch at our home located on 318 Sixth Street and received Christ as my personal Lord and Savior (John 1:14; 3:16; Romans 10:9-13; Ephesians 2:1-10). At that moment, I became a citizen of two worlds, the USA and Heaven! The first one is temporal and the other eternal. The first one is made by man and sought to be governed by man and therefore has many flaws. The eternal one is the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God (Hebrews 11:10). I say all of that to say this, although I am grieved by the display of sinful men’s hearts yesterday, I am not shaken because my citizenship in Heaven is eternal, righteous and secure in Christ and governs my citizenship here. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself (Philippians 3:20-21). I’m not home yet!
  2. Life has been this way since the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3-4; Romans 1:16-32). There is ONLY ONE remedy and that’s the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. As has been well said for a while now, “The Gospel changes everything.” Life transforming change cannot occur through governmental laws, reform, or programs. They have a degree of moral effect for a period of time but until man’s heart is transformed, laws will change and be added and more programs will be created to address man’s temporal needs. (Here’s a good read on government) That being said, the need of the hour is not reformation but transformation. 2 Corinthians 5:17 precisely spells it out, Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. A good example of transformational change is found in 1 Thessalonians 1:8-10, For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything. For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come. Lives changed by the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:3-4) for eternity is the change that is needed.
  3. What I am about to say here is with the deepest of sadness. I am not without fault here but let me bear my soul. While I have called our church family to prayer this week and have noticed that others churches have done the same, I am a bit chagrined and distressed by this call to prayer which is accompanied by a “Really????” in my own heart. As a man and a pastor looking back over almost 62 years, I wish I had given my life much more to a life of prayer (John 15:4-5). Furthermore, one of the greatest disappointments of my life as a pastor is having to beg believers to pray, to attend prayer meetings. We are where we are today because, as a point of reference, the mid-week prayer meetings are the least attended gatherings of the week in a church’s ministry or have been completely done away with. Call for a prayer meeting and a few might show up, and lovingly may I say that when the meeting convenes, seldom is there heart-crying out prayers of repentance, reconciliation and renewal! This link will help us if we will follow Christ and the early church in prayer (Hebrews 5:7; Matthew 14:23; Acts 4:23-31). Prayer is the declaration of our dependence upon God as we understand our desperate condition without Him and without His omnipotent, omniscient work. We as a church are where we are because we have traded the prayer meeting for other religious activities that we must keep propped up by our our wisdom and strength and that meet our felt needs. Suffice it to say, we must begin today to live out 2 Chronicles 7:14; Psalms 4, 40, 42, 86, 102, 142; Jeremiah 33:3; James 5:16-18.

May God help us! May God have mercy upon us!

Listening for the shout, the voice and the trump today (1Thessalonians 4:13-18)!

Sincerely, today, from a pastor’s heart.

My Top 3 Books in 2020

Confession #1: I love the smell of a new book! Every coffee shop should have the aroma of Barnes & Noble!

Confession #2: I wish we could read by osmosis because there are so many books I want to read!

So, having said that, here are my top 3 reads for 2020!

#1 The Bible

Now, don’t moan and groan on this one and say, “Well, I figured you’d say that!” Seriously, let me share with you a few reasons why it is number one.

  • The Author is transcendently holy (Exodus 15:11; Isaiah 6:3; 57:15), righteous, (Psalm 11:7), good (Psalm 34:8), eternal (Isaiah 40:28), immutable (Malachi 3:6; James 1:17), omniscient (Psalm 147:5; Proverbs 15:3; 1 John 3:20) and true (Revelation 19:11-16).
  • The Author is omnipresent with me and in me speaking directly to my heart and life. (Psalm 139:7-8; Acts 17:24-28;
  • The Author’s words are absolute truth and always relevant to all of my life al the time. (Psalm 19; Proverbs 30:5; John 8:32; 14:6; 17:17; 2 Timothy 3:16)
  • The Author is reveals Himself to me for His glory and my good. (Psalm 46:1; John 16:13-15; Romans 16:25-26)
  • If these few are not sufficient, then read and reread Psalm 119. Meditate on it. Read it out loud. The Word changes lives!

May I challenge you to choose a Bible reading plan for 2021? May I also challenge you to read it to know God, to listen to Him speak through His words, and to see your daily life affected by the Author of Life! The best moments of your life for all time on this earth will be spent in His Word and in prayer. If you do not have a personal relationship with God the Father through Christ alone, then lovingly I ask, would you read the Gospel of John (4th book of the New Testament) and then the Epistle of 1 John located near the book of Revelation. How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth! (Psalm 119:103).

#2 The Saving Life of Christ, Major Ian Thomas

To be in Christ–that is redemption; but for Christ to be in you–that is sanctification! To be in Christ—that makes you fit for heaven; but for Christ to be in you—that makes you fit for earth! To be in Christ—that changes your destination; but for Christ to be in you—that changes your destiny! The one makes heaven your home—the other makes this world His workshop. (Thomas, p. 20)

The very essence of this book and the reason for reading it is wrapped up in the words of Evangelist Ron Lynch: In order for you to live the Christian life, you must understand that it is the Savior’s life. Christ gave Himself for you in order to give Himself to you that He by the Spirit of God might live His life through you. To live the Christian life is not for you to live but for you to die so Christ can live through you. You die to live. It’s Christ who manifests Himself through you that makes the difference. He does not do away with your individuality nor your personality, but when people meet you they need to meet Him. (Romans 6-8; Galatians 2:20; Colossians 1:27).

How often believers are tempted to think in these terms . . .”I just can’t live the Christian life.” Friend, we are not called to life the Christian life. The truth is, Jesus Christ did not live the Christian life. He is the Christian life. Understanding your position in Christ (Ephesians 1:3-14), coming to know Christ (Philippians 3:10) and abiding in Christ (John 15:1-11), is the life to live.

#3 Rejoicing in the Christ, Michael Reeves

With so much of our attention in 2020 upon COVID, these two reads have reminded me of the Greater Subject, the Theme of themes, the Person of Christ. Also, in the midst of such sorrow, grieve, pain, loss, misunderstanding, cynicism, and human viewpoint, this book is about much-needed joy in the Christian life, about rejoicing in the Person of Jesus Christ as we share in the life of Christ!

What a far cry this is from the exhausting idea that Christ has done his bit and now it’s time to do ours! We are not chained to the task of trying to pay back the huge debt we owe him. We are united to the Son so we can enter into his life. Our joy, our prayers, our mission, our holiness, our suffering, our hope: all are a participation in the life of the Son. We are not simply given some thing called “eternal life” and then sent out to get on with it. We are not forerunners with final responsibility. He is the firstborn; we live in His slipstream. (p. 93)

What a truth!! We all participate in the life of Christ!! It’s not my life, but His life (Galatians 2:20).

Most of my reading this year was spurred on by attending the Men’s Prayer Advance and hearing Ron Lynch preach about the Christ Life. I would highly recommend you attending this year! Three days of meeting with God in prayer, worship, singing, preaching, praise, and fellowship!!! You will be changed for His glory!! Check it out by visiting christlifemin.org.

What books will you visit in 2021? Will you live in the Bible?

Prayer Points – Day of Prayer

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:1-4)

Praises

1. God is in complete control (Is. 45:7)

 2. Our Father knows all our needs (Matt. 6:31-33)

3. Nothing can separate us from His love (Rom. 8:37-39)

4. God uses calamity to turn people to Him (Is. 19:22: Hab. 3:2-6)

5. God’s ways are deep and wise (Ps. 92:5,Is. 40:13-14)

6. The LORD is with us (Ps. 46:1, 11)

The World

1. God’s word to have free course and be glorified (2 Thess. 3:1)

2. Seekers to find true shepherds and not false ones (Jer. 50:6, Mark 6:34)

3. Powerful witness of gospel media (Acts 1:8)

4. Repentance of world leaders (Jonah. 3:6, Dan. 4:37)

5. Wisdom for leaders in making decisions (Prov. 21:1, 1 Tim. 2:2)

6. Mercy: Delivering lives and limiting the pandemic (Amos 7:1-6)

7. Specific places: NYC, USA, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, etc. (Ps. 46:10)

8. A realization of the destructive nature of sin in our world (Rom. 5:12)

Those in Need

1. Strength, wisdom, love, and protection for health workers (Ps. 145:9)

2. Healing for those who are sick (Matt. 8:16-17)

3. Income for those who have lost work (Eccl. 5:19)

4. Sustaining of ministries hampered by the lockdowns (Ps. 90:17)

5. Sustaining of persecuted Christians in poor areas of the world (Heb. 13:3)

Spiritual Growth

1. Renewed perspective on God’s priorities for our lives (Ps. 90:12)

2. Pursuit of God more than entertainment (1 John 2:15-17)

3. Devoted time to Scripture memory and meditation (Ps. 119:11)

4. Devoted time to private prayer and corporate prayer (Matt. 6:6, 18:20)

5. Hunger and thirst for righteousness (Matt. 5:6)

6. Purity for God’s people stuck at home (Ps. 119:9-10)

7. Spiritual strength to rise and work (1 Cor. 15:10, Col. 1:29)

8. Growth in faith and endurance (Jam. 1:2-4)

9. Joy and thanksgiving (1 Thess. 5:18, Ps. 92:1)

Families

1. Parents refocusing on their calling to their family (Eph. 6:4)

2. Husbands & wives serving one another spiritually (Gen. 2:18, 1 Pet. 3:7)

3. Families bonding in seeking God together (Ps. 133:1, 1 Chron. 16:10-11)

4. Children learning from their parents’ godly responses (Prov. 23:26)

5. Edifying activities & positive spirits for children stuck at home (Col. 1:9-12)

6. Salvation of unsaved loved ones (1 Cor. 7:16)

Pastors and Missionaries

1. Increased closeness to God Himself (Ps. 73:25)

2. Abounding grace for new and overwhelming challenges (2 Cor. 9:8)

3. Wisdom to re-plan for the rest of the year (Prov. 16:3)

4. Wisdom & Discernment to feed, lead, & protect their people (1 Pet. 5:1-4)

5. Boldness and faith to show people their sin (Is. 58:1, Jer. 23:22)

6. Opportunities to powerfully testify of Christ (Acts 4:33)

7. Protection from attack (2 Thess. 3:2)

8. More laborers sent out to the uttermost parts (Matt. 9:38; Acts 8:1-4)

Local Churches

1. Good online connections and edifying communication (Heb. 10:25)

2. Fellowship for isolated Christians (Ecc. 4:12)

3. Love, grace, forgiveness, mutual care, and increased bonding (Jn. 13:34)

4. Spiritual initiative of members being proactive to edify (Eph. 4:12)

5. Consistent support of pastors and missionaries (2 Cor. 9:11)

6. Increased commitment to one another as a body (1 Cor. 14:12)

7. Unity of God’s people (Jn. 17:21, Eph. 4:3)

Reviving of the Church

1. Deliverance from complacency and spiritual slumber (Rom. 13:11)

2. Alert to the nearness of Christ’s 2nd Coming (Matt. 24:7-8)

3. Revival of corporate prayer & fasting (even while apart) (2 Chr. 20:3-6, 12)

4. Great repentance on individual, local, & international levels (Joel 2:12-17)

5. Formation of prayer groups that will endure beyond this time (Matt. 18:19)

6. Powerful testimonies of hope that impact the panicking world (1 Pet. 3:15)

7. Spirit-empowered boldness in sharing the gospel (Acts 1:8)

8. God manifesting Himself in a mighty way among us (Ex. 33:16, Lk. 11:13)

9. A time of refreshing from the presence of the Lord (Acts 3:19-20)

10. A work of the LORD’s doing, marvelous in our eyes (Ps. 118:23)

“When saints are all alive and instant in prayer, it is the index and token that the Lord will open the windows of heaven and pour them out such a blessing that they shall not have room enough to receive it.” – C.H. Spurgeon

(Compiled by our fellow servant in the gospel ministry, J. B.)