The Authority of True Revival

The short of it is that revival involves a qualitative change, and not a mere quantitative change. It is not a bit more renewed energy, but more like life from the dead. The thing we would notice first is not that there would be more churches, although there would be more churches, but rather we would notice the fact that the flavor of everything would be different. The aroma would be different. The air would be different. Life from the dead is always different.

Moscow’s (Idaho not the Motherland) own Doug Wilson. Read the whole thing at the link below.

Source: The Authority of True Revival

No More Prayer Ministry

Cancel your prayer ministry. Do away with scheduled prayer meetings and seasons of special prayer focus. End the prayer chain and your email list.

Blasphemy? Unchristian advice? Neither! Each of these activities is an important part of the life of the Church, the ‘House of Prayer’ our Lord and the Bible command us to be. It’s the granularity that damages the whole. A prayer ministry, for example, is a segmentation of that spiritual practice within the holistic life of the Christian. The result is that prayer becomes just one among many activities that the believer can choose from in their life of discipleship. In our hurried, over-scheduled lives, prayer becomes a choice on the schedule.

One that often loses out to other choices.

When the Apostle Paul commended continual prayer to the believers in Thessalonica, he placed this emphasis within the spectrum of a complete life. While 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (pray without ceasing) often finds its way onto throw pillows and coffee cups, the Apostle was much more intentional in emphasizing that prayer is an irreducible part of life. The complete passage reads, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” [1 Thessalonians 5:16-18] Do we schedule “rejoicing” meetings? Do you need to receive an email reminder to be thankful? Most likely ‘no’ on both, so why prayer? The answer is hard to type and harder to hear: because many churches and Christians have not made prayer central to their identity.

Prayer should be as natural a part of our lives as is breathing. The culture identified with Christ’s Church should be a culture of prayer. The Lord modeled continual, natural prayer with the Father during his time in the world. While he set off times of quiet communion, Jesus did not schedule prayer time with his disciples separate from the ongoing ministry they pursued. It was a natural part of the life of discipleship. If we study the relationship between Jesus and his guys, we come to recognize how our separation of spiritual activities has affected the church. Prayer should not be a separate ministry; it must be the air that we breathe as we become more Christlike. Prayer should define our culture.

It is better to let the work go by default than to let the praying go by neglect. Whatever affects the intensity of our praying affects the value of our work…Nothing is well done without prayer for the simple reason that it leaves God out of the account.

E.M. Bounds

This is easier said than done. A culture of prayer for an individual or a church requires extraordinary commitment, from yourself personally or from the leadership within the body of believers. It will feel unnatural at first and this will cause hesitation, grumbling and questions of motivation, but you must persevere to find the blessing. We must model spontaneous prayer at every opportunity. A good place to start is the Sunday gathering, where everyone can use their gifts and seek an audience with the Lord on behalf of the body. Prayer as a regular part of Christian fellowship can strengthen those relationships. Pray for your brother aloud as he confides his struggle to you. Pray immediately–not say you will pray–for the family in crisis. As prayer becomes second nature over time, it will also become more comfortable and natural. We won’t see prayer as a separate part of the whole where participation is subject to the whims of choice. Prayer will not be a ministry, we will rightfully see it as ‘the’ ministry. The culture will change. Your church will change. You will change… and be blessed for it.

2021 Reading Reviewed

My 2021 reading list is composed of 78 books I read during the year. It’s the value I’ve always placed on reading and the compilation of my annual list that made a recent article stand out to me. In the November/December 2021 issue of Success magazine, it says that “American adults spend less than 10 minutes per day reading printed materials, compared to a whopping 7 hours and 50 minutes of screen time.” If correct, this statistic reflects the greatest loss we might suffer as people; to develop through the collected wisdom of the written word. The article continues, saying “The benefits of reading are far-reaching, with research showing bookworms experience less stress, reduced risk of depression, lowered blood pressure and improved sleep.” These benefits are probably true, but interacting with written ideas expands your own wisdom and knowledge, an invaluable exercise.

As I record each title in my journal, I add a rating of 1 to 5. Those rated 5 of 5 are the best, memorable pieces of writing that deserve to be widely read. Three books at the top of my list stand out because their rating exceeds the boundaries, rated as 10 of 5 stars. These 3 books would make a list of must-read volumes for Christians. Perhaps I’ll touch on each of these in separate posts to pique your interest. The books at the bottom of the list rated 2 stars are not worth your time, falling short of their promise (or, in the case of Dr. Flowers’ book, it’s potential). The other note you’ll notice on this list are those books marked 2x, indicating they were read twice or a second time with years of separation. As I look at these volumes, I’m tempted to add Henderson’s book Old Paths, New Power (read twice last year) to the 10 of 5 list. If revival interests you, this is a good place to start.

Make a list of your own for 2022. It might just motivate you to read more and build a growing library of wisdom and ideas.

Fresh EncounterBlackaby10
Spent MatchesMoran10
Keep in Step with the SpiritPacker10
How to Take Smart NotesAhrens5
Strengthening the Soul of Your LeadershipBarton5
Praying with PaulCarson5
The Law of InnocenceConnelly5
RevivalEdwards5
Come Down, LordEllsworth5
Praying for One AnotherGetz5
Stop Loving the WorldGreenhill5
Rediscover ChurchHansen5
Old Paths, New Power (2x)Henderson5
Ego is the EnemyHoliday5
Effortless (2x)KcKeown5
Famine in the LandLawson5
When You PrayLindell5
The Trellis and the VineMarshall5
21 Days of Breakthrough PrayerMaxim5
Why Elders?Merkle5
Calling on the Name of the LordMillar5
Digital MinimalismNewport5
A Voyage for MadmenNichols5
Transforming WorshipNoland5
PrayerOnwuchenka5
How Do I know if I’m Really Saved?Ortberg5
DeeperOrtlund5
Praying in PublicQuinn5
How to Think Like a Roman EmporerRobertson5
Qualitative ResearchSensing5
The Case for KetoTaubes5
Whatever Happened to Worship?Tozer5
Dangerous CallingTripp5
Do You Believe?Tripp5
LeadTripp5
In the Day of Thy PowerWallis5
How Can I Be Sure I’m a Christian (2x)Whitney5
How the Bible Describes ElectionBulow5
Skip the LineAltucher4
The Message of RuthAtkinson4
Chasing the ThrillBarbarisi4
Exegetical Commentary on RuthBlock4
Common Sense InvestingBogle4
The ChurchClowney4
The Soul of PrayerForsyth4
A Craftsmans LegacyGorges4
Continuous RevivalGrubb4
Transforming PresenceHenderson4
Reclaimed ChurchHeward4
Praying TogetherHill4
LaterKing4
The Kind of Preaching God BlessesLawson4
How to Worship a KingNeese4
Spiritual GiftsSchreiner4
Disney’s LandSnow4
What Does it Mean to be Saved?Stackhouse4
AuthenticVan Doren4
Pray in the SpiritWallis4
Radical ChristianWallis4
Introducing Practical TheologyWard4
Researching Practice for Missions and MinistryCameron4
True CommunityBridges3
EcclesiologyBrown3
Small GiantsBurlingham3
Intercessory WorshipEastman3
UpstreamHeath3
How to Pray in a CrisisHenderson3
Steering the CraftLeGun3
FrictionlessLemieux3
The ResetRiddle3
Made from ScratchTaylor3
A Creative MinorityTyson3
The Imperfect DiscipleWilson3
UnmaskedNgo3
God’s Provision for AllFlowers2
Man UpKevilian2
Quick Start Writing GuideNash2

The Growth Gospel

There is no place nor social context in which the gospel of Jesus Christ is not true. From East to West, from the highest height to the deepest depth, there is no place where the Gospel is not good news. When the Lord commissioned His church to take that good news to the nations, He knew this to be true and permitted no artificial boundaries:

gospelGrowth“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

This is good news for us at home among our local church family and our neighbors, and it’s also good news for us in our missional efforts in the neighborhood andd abroad. The good news of the mercy and love of God as seen in the sacrifice and resurrection of His Son remains consistent for every human being. None is excluded, no one is separated from the promise, no sin is too great, no reprobation too deep that cannot be forgiven in the atonement of Christ.

“For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile — the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:12–13

Truth demands action on our part. Our commission is not just to maintain the base camp, to keep the campfire stoked. We have trusted in the gospel and know the blessing of forgiveness and our restored relationship with God. Considering this, we must be carriers of the gospel so that others can experience the same relief and the same blessing. What was true of the gospel in the first century is true today, perhaps even more so, given the multitude of communication channels and the ability to put ourselves within the borders of all nations.

All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth. Colossians 1:6

Plant a seed, trust in the power of the spirit to water and nurture it and pray for the gospel to grow.

 

Book Review | Reappearing Church by Mark Sayers

To Be Sipped and Not Gulped…

indexWhat if the cultural bottom is just the first step up in revival for Christ’s Church? The answer forms the premise of Mark Sayers’ new book ‘Reappearing Church’. Using biblical and historical precedent, Sayers proposes that the small devoted ‘remnant’ (cf. Isaiah) not given over to the suffocating culture can be the spark of a renewal movement. I will always remember his memorable culturally current description of the next step: revival is renewal gone viral.

Sayers is one of the Church’s cultural prophets who brings a bridge of a sociological viewpoint to God’s people. The culture is a challenge to be sure, but when it is understood we find that God has already given His people assurance that it can be overcome by his presence. The Revival that is needed will not come through legislation or cultural surrender as so many are wont to do. It will come through a small remnant who trust in the transformative process of the presence of God.

Sayers is a rare gift to the church. His writing is not of the 12-step genre. Rather, he is a deep thinker who invites the reader to join him in a meditative examination of the air we breathe. The only how-to included in the volume is the introduction which suggests that we gather a small cell of like-minded revivalists around us to pray through the material. Beyond that, the chapters give small bites to savor on the way to personal transformation. ‘Reappearing Church’ is not a fast read. You will want to slow down and think and pray deeply about each of individual subjects. Read it as your invitation to join the Remnant.

Good News | Hopelessness Defeated

29863962483_562ceffb39_zVarying degrees of hopelessness are an accepted part of life in our world. Better stated, hopelessness has marked life since the moment that rebellion against God entered the mortal plane. Hope requires a foundation, and when it is vested in the ever shifting, rapidly changing, only marginally trustworthy structures of the human world, that foundation can crumble in an instant. Claiming hope while secretly wondering when the ground beneath our feet will give way is no hope at all.

True hope is found in the one thing that never changes; true hope is found in the promises and assurances of God. Through the prophet Malachi, God gives hope to the descendants of Jacob saying I the Lord do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. (Mal 3:6)  God gave similar assurance in the midst of the words of doom that the prophet Isaiah was charged with proclaiming, God gives this hopeful reminder about the proper placement of hope, The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever. (Isa 40:8)

The Savior Jesus Christ, Son of Man and second member of the Trinity, never changes. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Heb 13:8) Faith in Christ results in an unchanging hope. This is a hope that may be buffeted by the challenges and trials of life but whose roots driven deep in the rock allow it to bend like a reed and not be broken. This is a hope that may be challenged by the many worldviews that swirl about but are ultimately found wanting. Hope rooted in Jesus is hope that will carry you through the worst storm, shine light in your darkest hour and can be counted on when all else inevitably fails.

The gospel of the life, sacrificial death and the glorious resurrection of Jesus Christ fuels the hope of all those who put their faith in this good news of God’s love through His Son. God’s eternal promises from the seconds after the hope-stealing rebellion in the garden come to fruition in the Savior and remain, unchanging, into eternity. The deeper the good news settles in our soul, the greater our hope. The more the good news defines our lives, the greater our hope.

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. An I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Eph 3:16-19)

Be hopeful.

Book Review: Church by A.W. Tozer

We Are the Body

For many Christians, the Church that Pastor Tozer describes in this new collection is almost a foreign entity given the diluted experience that they have each week. Tozer had a deep love for God and His Church, and it pours forth on the pages of this newly published collection. Many of the words have been previously published but Moody Publi418289shers has assembled new topical collections of these and other unpublished works on themes important to the modern church. The ‘Church’ collection is inspiring reading as Tozer speaks of the importance of Christ’s Bride, not criticizing for long, but rather, reminding the reader of the world-changing purpose of the assembled Christians.

For those familiar with Tozer’s writing, each chapter is the expected gem. His holiness and earnest devotion to God’s Church is not sanctimonious, it draws the reader deeper and deeper in an invitation to the same devotion. The Church is not a social organization, a club to which we can give passing notice. It is the living, breathing organization through which God works to affect the spiritual transformation of His world. Tozer can be both gentle and firm as the moment dictates and, in both instances, the reader is encouraged to commit themselves and be likewise.

If you are new to Tozer, consult the classics alongside this volume: The Pursuit of God and  are good primers. If Tozer has long been on your reading list [as he has mine] you will savor his words and be encouraged in your faith and your ministry, as you probably expect

I Am Not Ashamed of the Gospel

“I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes…” Romans 1:16

Gospel Square 1The gospel that the Apostle spoke of is good news, stupendously good news. God had intervened in history, entering personally into the morass of human rebellion against Him and making a way out, a way to be freed from the entanglements that drew them to destruction. Jesus Christ entered the world in purity, lived a life of perfect holiness and died as the sacrifice for the sins of the world. His death atoned for all sin. When Jesus was then resurrected on that third day, He demonstrated indisputably that He had overcome death and broken the entrapping bonds of sin. The long-awaited promises to Israel were fulfilled and the blessing of God extended to all who would believe that Jesus was their only avenue of freedom from the bondage of the Fall.

That is fabulously good news. “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” Romans 10:15

The Apostle quoted the prophet Isaiah in this assuring statement. The prophet communicated to God’s people Israel that their exile would end, that they would be released from their captivity in Babylon, that freedom was imminent. Good news to be sure, fantastic even. Except, the power sin remained and, while physically freed, people were still held in its vise-like grip. Better news was still to come.

The better news is Jesus. Jesus, the savior who died for the “sins of the whole world” 1 John 2:2. The amazing news is Jesus who overcame death and its sting (1 Corinthians 15:55-57) and gives all who will believe that victory. Jesus not only makes the way of atonement, He shepherds believers along the path of life (Hebrews 7:25) until they are rejoined with God in perfect communion.

This is good news. This is the gospel.