Lost

“Unapproachable, inaccessible in location or situation, untouched, untouchable, disconnected, unable to be met or out of touch. These are all words and descriptions given for yet another word: Unreached.”

http://vimeo.com/17677804

 

Spurgeon & Prayer Meetings

One of the dangers of public prayer is that our prayers become more sideways than vertical. I am guilty of this type of prayer sometimes, and the result is not true prayer. Our primary focus is who we are praying with, and not the Almighty God we are praying to. This is what I mean:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The arrows could represent a number of things really. It certainly represents our focus. Perhaps focus of our mind during prayer, perhaps the focus of our words – and we end up preaching at others in the name of prayer. Remember the Pharisee’s prayer in Luke 18:10-12, and he does not go home justified before God. We should pray like the tax collector; ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ The arrows could be said to represent the position of our hearts during prayer. Who do we fear in public prayer? Man’s approval or the throne of God.

When we come before the Lord, it is important to recognise who it is we come before. We are approaching the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth, the God who is the Alpha and Omega. He is our Father, and we can approach Him with confidence (Heb 4:16) but He is our Father in Heaven, whose name is to be hallowed (Matt 6:9).

Here is an extract from CHS;

‘Another evil was, mistaking preaching for prayer. The friends who reputed to be ‘gifted’ indulged themselves in public prayer with a review of their own experience, a recapitulation of their creed, an occasional running commentary upon a chapter or Psalm, or even a criticism upon the Pastor and his sermons. It was too often quite forgotten that the brother was addressing the divine Majesty, before whose wisdom a display of our knowledge is impertinence, and before whose glory an attempt at swelling words and pompous periods is little short of profanity; the harangue was evidently intended for man rather than God, and on some occasions did not contain a single petition from beginning to end. We hope that good men are leaving this unhallowed practice, and are beginning to see that sermons and doctrinal disquisitions are miserable substitutes for earnest wrestling prayers, when our place is before the mercy-seat, and our engagement is intercession with the Most High.’ (C.H. Spurgeon)

Let our prayers be vertical and not horizontal. Practice on our own before the throne of God, and then it will become more natural when we come together with other Christians to pray.

I’ve just heard this from John Piper; ‘There are no victories in the Christian life without prayer.’ He’s right you know. That’s why it could not be more vital to get prayer right!


Spurgeon on Prayer

I have just started reading Charles Haddon Spurgeon’s classic ‘Only a prayer meeting’ and I intend to serve up some great insights on what a God glorifying prayer meeting does and does not look (although ‘look’ is a little misleading because it’s not about how it looks per se) like from the big man himself as I turn the pages of this book. Here’s what I’ve uncovered so far…

First of all on Christian gatherings and the importance of keeping Christ exalting truth central rather than performing the latest ‘fad’:

‘I would sooner have the doctrines of grace revived, individual piety deepened, and family religion increased, than I would watch a frantic crowd parading the street with noisy music, and harsh clamour. I see no special virtue in drums and tambourines. Make what noise you will to attract the careless if  you afterwards give them sound instruction in the truth, and make them know the meaning of the Word of the Lord; but if it be mere stir, and song, and swagger, what is the good of it? If gospel truth is not taught, your work will be a building of wood, hay, and stubble, soon to be consumed. Quick building is seldom permanent. Gold, silver, and precious stones are scarce material, not easily found; but then they endure the fire. What is the use of religion which comes up in a night, and perishes as soon? Ah, me! What empty bragging we have heard! The thing was done, but then it was never worth doing; soon things were as if it never had been done; and, moreover, this sham way of doing it made it all the harder toil for the real worker.’

Let churches everywhere be full of the faithful and passionate deliverance and spread of God’s truth!

And then before turning to the public use of prayer in the rest of the book, Spurgeon highlights the necessity of time alone with the Lord in prayer:

‘If our life is all in public, it will be a frothy, vapoury, ineffectual existence; but if we hold high converse with God in secret, we shall be mighty for good. The Puritans were abundant in meditation and prayer; and there were giants on the earth in those days. He that is a prince with God will take high rank with men, after the true measure of nobility.’

May our lives not just talk the talk, but let us walk the walk!

 

21st Century Christmas

My friend Rael has written a new poem this Christmas, I think it’s brilliant!

Think

Today I bring you a quote from John Piper’s latest book ‘Think’. I’ve only read one chapter and already I’m enticed by Piper’s claim that today’s western church has a dangerous culture of anti-intellectualism as well as a tendency of over-intellectualism which is equally poisonous. He seeks in this book to restore a balance, he says, to show how rigorous thinking leads to more seeing and savouring of Jesus Christ. And he assures readers that thinking is ‘soaked in the scriptures’, and so he starts to take the reader to the Bible, citing two key verses that will underpin the arguments of the book.

‘Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything’ (2 Timothy 2:7)

(The other is Proverbs 2:1-6)

And Piper talks about B.B. Warfield on the connection between knowing God better and time at work thinking hard about the Bible; ‘He reacted with dismay toward those who saw an opposition between prayer for divine illumination and rigorous thinking about God’s written Word. In 1911 he gave an address to students with this exhortation: “Sometimes we hear it said that ten minutes on your knees will give you a truer, deeper, more operative knowledge of God than ten hours over your books. ‘What!’ is the appropriate response, ‘than ten hours over your books, on your knees?’”

Both-and. Not either-or. That’s the vision I am trying to encourage in this book.’

I’m looking forward to getting more stuck in over the duration of the holidays as I seek to think correctly. I don’t think I’m a deep thinker by nature so I’m thankful that when I do start thinking hard, the promise is ‘the Lord will give me understanding in everything.’

Christmas Cheer

Well I’m home for Christmas and intend to blog much more frequently over the holiday so watch out for some posts on here and twitter (and maybe some Ashes thoughts on the sports blog).

First though, my step-Dad Andrew just gave me a little Christian joke book by J John and Mark Stibbe and I had to share the lightbulb joke section with you:

How many AMISH does it take to change a light bulb?

What’s a light bulb?

How many BAPTISTS does it take to change a light bulb?

Change? Who said anything about change?

How many CALVINISTS does it take to change a light bulb?

None: God has predestined when the light will be on. Calvinists do not change light bulbs. They simply read the instructions and pray that their light bulb will be the one that has been chosen to be changed.

How many CATHOLICS does it take to change a light bulb?

None. They use candles.

How many CHARISMATICS does it take to change a light bulb?

Ten: one to change the bulb and nine to pray against the spirit of darkness.

How many LIBERALS does it take to change a light bulb?

At least ten, as they need to hold a debate on whether or not the light bulb exists. Even if they can agree on the existence of the light bulb, they still might not change it, to keep from alienating those who might use other forms of light.

How many MEMBERS OF AN ESTABLISHED BIBLE-TEACHING CHURCH THAT IS OVER 20 YEARS OLD does it take to change a light bulb?

One to actually change the bulb, and nine to say how much they liked the old one.

How many TELEVANGELISTS does it take to change a light bulb?

One. But for the message of light to continue, send in your donation today.

To live is Christ, to die is gain

In the next chunk of Philippians (1:12-26), Paul faces three kinds of opposition.

(1) Opposition from outside the Christian Community (1:12-14). He is in prison for preaching the gospel.

(2) Opposition from inside the Christian Community (1:15-18a ). Some people are preaching Christ out of selfish ambition, envy, rivalry, thinking they may even be able to stir up trouble for Paul while he is in chains.

(3) Death (1:18b-26 ).The outcome of Paul’s trial is yet to be decided, so he knows death is very much a possibility for him.

And Paul’s response to all of this opposition, amidst even fellow brothers in Christ who are stirring up trouble for him, is extraordinary. He has one concern, and it is the GOSPEL. He rejoices in the gospel going out! See verses 13-14, his imprisonment has meant the whole palace guard have heard about Jesus Christ (likely about 2,000 soldiers according to William Taylor’s commentary), and other Christians in Philippi have been spurred on to preach because of Paul being in prison.

In verse 18, we see Paul’s response to the Christians who are preaching out of envy. And this is outrageous stuff. Paul declares that ‘The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice’. Once again, Paul rejoices because of the gospel going out to unbelievers. He really doesn’t seem bothered in the slightest about his own reputation; he’s in it for the fame of God’s name.

And upon facing death, he fears nothing, and more surprisingly, he even looks forward to it, knowing what is ahead. He shows that his life on this earth is all about proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ. ‘If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labour for me’ (v22); If God preserves his life after this imprisonment, he will continue to proclaim Jesus (which is exactly what happens), but if he dies, Paul will have gained something far better (v25), Christ himself, face to face forever.

Have a think about how you can have a greater concern for the proclamation of the gospel. Even amidst the troubles you face today, how can the gospel be proclaimed despite, and even through, those troubles?