Daily Archives: November 8, 2012

Church-Going Gimmicks

What brings people into your church? What sort of gimmicks, if any, are used? Is it the music, the performances, the charisma of your pastor? Upon what does your church depend to draw new churchgoers and to retain those who already attend?

One would hope that the first answer to these questions would be something along the lines of: the preaching of God’s Word. Church is, after all, a gathering of believers for believers, where the Word of God is opened, preached and explained. Church is about the truths gleaned from Scripture, not about the delivery—or the deliverer—of the sermon. Church is a time to worship God and to learn more about Him. Is this what draws you and others to your church each week?

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Christian Daily Prayer Guide for 11/08/2012

Let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation.

Lord, I gird up the loins of my mind, and will be sober, and rest my hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to me at the revelation of Jesus Christ. I stand therefore, having girded my waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness. I have the shield of faith with which I will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And I take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is Your Word, Lord God.

You will swallow up death forever, and You will wipe away tears from my face; the rebuke of Your people You will take away from all the earth; for You, Lord God, have spoken. And I will say in that day: “Behold, this is my God; I have waited for Him, and He will save me. This is the Lord; I will be glad and rejoice in His salvation.”

Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

The battle rages. Thank You for providing the armor, the strength, and the faith I need!

1 Thessalonians 5:8; 1 Peter 1:13; Ephesians 6:14, 16–17; Isaiah 25:8–9; Hebrews 11:1[1]

 

Day 8

Adoration

Can you bind the cluster of the Pleiades?

Can you loose the cords of Orion?

Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons

Or guide the Bear with its cubs?

Do you know the ordinances of the heavens?

Can you set their dominion over the earth? (Job 38:31–33)

I know that You can do all things

And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. (Job 42:2)

Pause to express your thoughts of praise and worship.

Confession

I know, O Lord, that a man’s way is not his own;

It is not in a man who walks to direct his steps.

O Lord, correct me, but with justice—

Not in Your anger, lest You reduce me to nothing. (Jeremiah 10:23–24)

Ask the Spirit to search your heart and reveal any areas of unconfessed sin. Acknowledge these to the Lord and thank Him for His forgiveness.

Renewal

May I receive the words of wisdom

And treasure her commands within me,

Turning my ear to wisdom

And applying my heart to understanding.

If I cry for discernment

And lift up my voice for understanding,

If I seek her as silver

And search for her as for hidden treasures,

Then I will understand the fear of the Lord

And find the knowledge of God.

Then I will understand righteousness and justice and honesty—

Every good path.

For wisdom will enter my heart,

And knowledge will be pleasant to my soul.

Discretion will protect me,

and understanding will guard me. (Proverbs 2:1–5, 9–11)

Pause to add your own prayers for personal renewal.

Petition

Hear, O Lord, and be merciful to me;

O Lord, be my helper.

You turned my mourning into dancing;

You removed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness,

That my heart may sing praise to You and not be silent.

O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever. (Psalm 30:10–12)

Relationships with Others

Greater love and compassion for others

Loved ones

Those who do not know Christ

Those in need

My activities for this day

Special concerns

Intercession

The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore, I will pray that the Lord of the harvest will send out workers into His harvest. (Matthew 9:37–38; Luke 10:2)

Evangelism

Friends

Relatives

Neighbors

Coworkers

Special opportunities

Affirmation

You are my hiding place and my shield;

I have put my hope in Your word. (Psalm 119:114)

Every word of God is tested;

He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him. (Proverbs 30:5)

The earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. (Romans 8:19)

Pause to reflect upon these biblical affirmations.

Thanksgiving

All the kings of the earth will give thanks to You, O Lord,

When they hear the words of Your mouth.

Yes, they sing of the ways of the Lord,

For the glory of the Lord is great.

Though the Lord is on high,

Yet He looks upon the lowly,

But the proud He knows from afar. (Psalm 138:4–6)

Pause to offer your own expressions of thanksgiving.

Closing Prayer

My days are like a lengthened shadow,

And I wither away like grass.

But You, O Lord, will endure forever,

And the remembrance of Your name to all generations.

Of old, You laid the foundations of the earth,

And the heavens are the work of Your hands.

They will perish, but You will endure;

They will all wear out like a garment.

Like clothing, You will change them, and they will be discarded.

But You are the same,

And Your years will have no end. (Psalm 102:11–12, 25–27)[2]

 


[1] Jeremiah, D. (2007). Life-Changing Moments With God (335). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[2] Boa, K. (1993). Handbook to prayer: Praying scripture back to God. Atlanta: Trinity House.

James Emery White: Three Attacks of the Modern World

During the high middle ages of the thirteenth century, few things matched the importance and strength of the castle. Its military, political, social, economic and cultural role was paramount.

The castle was born in tenth-century continental Europe as a private fortress of timber and earthwork, brought to England by the Normans and converted to stone in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. It was then refined and improved through the engineering knowledge gained from crusading Syria. This medieval land fortress achieved its ultimate development at the end of the thirteenth century.

Then a single development in the fourteenth century, which spread rapidly in the fifteenth, led to its decline.

Gunpowder.

Where the castle had been able to withstand countless sieges and attacks, it suddenly found itself falling with astonishing speed to the heavy stone balls fired by iron cannons.

As gunpowder firing cannon balls ended the age of castles, so the volleys of modern thought have decimated the fortress of faith.

Of particular damage were those lofted by Copernicus, Darwin and Freud.

The Cosmological Attack. Copernicus initiated the cosmological attack. In determining through his telescope that we live in a heliocentric universe, as opposed to an Earth-centered one, he challenged more than the centrality of human existence on planet Earth; he brought into question the trustworthiness of faith itself.

At the time, the official teaching of the Christian Church considered anything other than an Earth-centered universe heresy. The church’s position was, of course, wrong.

It wasn’t that the Bible was wrong, only their interpretation of obscure texts that had been skewed by the bias that the Earth needed to be at the center of creation to uphold the special nature of God’s creation on Earth. No such assertion was necessary to the doctrine of creation, much less the doctrine of humanity, but the damage had been done.

Religious pronouncements on matters of public discourse have been automatically suspect ever since, and modern cosmologists now speak to issues of faith and philosophy with greater authority than priests and theologians.

The Biological Attack. Darwin’s assault was not cosmological, but biological – or perhaps more accurately, anthropological. In Origin of Species, this minister’s son contended that the origin of humankind could be accounted for in ways other than direct spiritual activity, namely natural selection.

No matter that the theory of macroevolution continues to have its fair share of detractors in regard to it failing to account for the actual origin of species (e.g., one of the push backs against naturalistic evolution is that you need self-reproducing organisms in place for natural selection to even begin); the very idea of an alternative explanation rooted in science proved compelling. And, of course, few believers at the time considered the idea of theistic evolution.

Consider the staggering nature of these two volleys alone: First, Earth was not the center of the universe, and now neither were human beings.

The Psychological Attack. With the walls severely weakened, the third wave of assaults came whistling through the air. Sigmund Freud used psychology to maintain that the idea of the soul itself is conditioned.

God is nothing but a projection of our desires. We want there to be a God, so we imagine such a Being. Or as Voltaire wrote earlier in 1770, “Se Dieu n’existait pas, il faudrait l’inventer” (“If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him”).

Forgetting that such an argument would war against the integrity of many of the intellectual achievements of civilization, including his own theory of psychoanalysis, Freud hit his target in the same manner as Darwin. There was now an option to explain spiritual conviction apart from faith, but seemingly rooted in that which was intellectually apprehensible.

Intriguingly, in writing of such challenges, Freud himself noted that the church’s response was to retreat. Rather than engage the challenge in light of a Christian worldview and the exercise of a rigorous intellect, the church did little more than denounce and deny, leaving the faithful believer with scant resources for grappling with the issues confronting them in the marketplace of ideas. As has often been observed, the church abdicated the throne of factual, public truth, and gave it over to science, which was only too eager to assume the role.

Why am I raising these three volleys against faith?

I mean, really, aren’t they a bit dated?

Yes, they are.

But only in the sense that they have done their work. The ideas behind these three volleys continue to fuel the skepticism of those who aren’t even aware of the origin of their doubt.

The cosmological attack laid the groundwork for the godmongering among the new physicists, and the declaration that God is officially dead and that science and religion do not mix.

The biological attack laid the groundwork for continued assaults against the Bible in terms of “literal interpretations” and a dubious attitude toward its integrity.

The psychological attack laid the groundwork for a subjective approach to all matters related to faith, making it a private, personal matter akin to color preference or preferred vacation spot.

Richard Weaver famously intoned that “ideas have consequences.”

Yes, they do.

But do we even know what those ideas are? And even more to the point, how to fire back a truth that is more powerful than any gunpowder ever conceived?

Many have answered the three attacks above in light of a Christian mind. They actually aren’t that difficult to answer. But sometimes we seem to forget what it really means to fire back, and with what.

Here is your answer:

“I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last” (Romans 1:16-17, NIV).

Rome had the strength of her military, the superiority of her wealth, the advancement of her learning, but Paul knew that in the gospel was the very power of God.

Of the six possible words for power that Paul could have used from the Greek language, he chose the word “dunamis,” which is where we get our word for “dynamite.”

It’s interesting – there is no definite article used in this verse in the original Greek. I don’t want to get too technical, but it’s actually quite significant. It means that it doesn’t say that the gospel is the power of God, but a power of God.

In other words, it’s not simply something that God uses from time to time; it is – in itself – a power. The gospel itself contains power and energy. It doesn’t bring power, it is power, energized by the Holy Spirit Himself. The gospel is not a worldview, or a philosophy, or an argument that you try to win.

It is the very power of God turned loose.

Think of it like you would the perfect storm. We saw the awesome power of a storm in Hurricane Sandy as it tore into the northeast. The idea of the power of a perfect storm was first introduced in recent thought through the book by Sebastian Junger, later made into a movie starring George Clooney, called The Perfect Storm.

It was based on a true event.

In October of 1991, all the elements came together to create the most powerful storm in recorded history. It struck just off the coast of Gloucester, Massachusetts. It was really three storms in one – a hurricane, energy flowing from the Great Lakes, and a frontal system sweeping through New England.

It created an almost apocalyptic situation in the Atlantic, with boats encountering waves of 100 feet, which is the equivalent of a ten-story building. It was actually the National Weather service that called it “The Perfect Storm.” It took the lives of many people, including the six men aboard the now famous swordfishing boat, the Andrea Gail.

When you share the gospel, you are unleashing a force that brings together everything for a moment of eternal impact: the message of the gospel, the power of God, and a living human soul.

So yes, know the ideas shaping our world. And yes, know what underlies the thinking of those who question the Christian faith. And yes, know how to answer the skepticism.

But also know the power of the gospel.

And then, for Christ’s sake, fire back.

James Emery White

Sources

Life in a Medieval Castle by Joseph and Francis Gies.

On the tenability of the theory of evolution, see Michael Behe, Darwin’s Black Box; Phillip E. Johnson, Darwin on Trial; William A. Dembski, Intelligent Design.

Paul Vitz, Faith of the Fatherless: The Psychology of Atheism.

Philip Clayton, The Problem of God in Modern Thought .

Richard Weaver, Ideas Have Consequences.

Sebastian Junger, The Perfect Storm.

White, James Emery. A Mind for God.

White, James Emery. Serious Times.

Editor’s Note

James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, which he also served as their fourth president. His newly released book is The Church in an Age of Crisis: 25 New Realities Facing Christianity (Baker Press). To enjoy a free subscription to the Church and Culture blog, log-on to www.churchandculture.org, where you can post your comments on this blog, view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on twitter @JamesEmeryWhite.

http://www.churchandculture.org/blog.asp?id=3539

CAN WE RECLAIM THE CHURCH?

These days it seems we are allowing politics and the culture wars to define who we as Christians are. in fact, we seem to spend a lot of effort trying to reclaim these areas rather than proclaim Jesus. Yes, we want to live in a nation where Christ is honored and decency is a value, but the truth is that Jesus told us to expect just the opposite. For those of you old enough to remember, there was a time a few generations ago when the Church actually did influence our culture and values, but those days are long gone. Could it be because the Body of Christ somehow veered off its true mission?
Our guest today says YES, and he’s going to tell us how this happened and what – if anything – you and I can do about it. Chris Rosebrough has been studying trends and movements in the Church for many years. Chris hosts a daily radio program, Fighting For The Faith, heard around the world on Pirate Christian Radio, a broadcast group he founded to help Christians discern God’s Word in a world where there is no shortage of Bible-twisting messages bombarding airwaves and pulpits.

http://standupforthetruth.com/2012/11/can-we-reclaim-the-church/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+standupwi+%28Stand+Up+for+the+Truth+%7C+All+Feeds%29