Archive for Tim

3 Reasons We Need to Pray

3 Reasons We Need to Pray

As a Christian, as a pastor, and as a church member, I find myself at a lot of meetings. And more often than not, these meetings begin with prayer. I don’t often think about why we do this—we just do it. We pray before we do business, and we pray before we do ministry.

As I drove home from a meeting yesterday, I thought about these little prayers and how much I enjoy them. I thought about their sheer significance.

Praying declares that we do not have the wisdom we need. My guess is that when the executives at Amazon or Google gather in their corporate settings to make major decisions, they believe that they have the wisdom, experience, and expertise they need right there in the room. As Christians, we know that we do not. We know that we are entirely dependent upon wisdom that comes from outside ourselves. These little prayers, prayed by even the best and brightest Christian minds, are a simple plea for help, a child’s plea to his father to give the gifts of knowledge and wisdom.

Praying declares that we do not have the time we need. There is something so deliciously counter-cultural about saying, “We have a very full agenda and only a couple of hours to make some major decisions. So let’s start by investing a few minutes asking for help from an invisible but all-powerful God.” And if your experience is at all like mine, you have probably found that the meetings that begin with heartfelt prayer often end up being unusually productive and generating unusually wise decisions—almost as if God really does hear and answer those prayers.

Praying declares that we do not have the motives we need. Prayer is a cry to God not only for wisdom and appropriate use of time, but also a plea that we will make decisions for the best of motives. We understand that without God’s help we will make decisions out of fear of man instead of fear of God; we will make decisions that are good for us even if they are bad for others; we will decide to do what preserves our comfort and security even if it skirts morality. So we begin our time together by asking God to elevate our motives so that every word, every thought, and every decision will bring glory to him.

It’s a simple habit, this. But it’s both beautiful and meaningful.

A La Carte (September 18)

Let’s talk Kindle deals. First off, Amazon has a new Kindle Fire tablet that will do just fine for reading books while setting you back only $49.99. As for books, consider The Immigration Crisis by James Hoffmeier ($4.79) and The End of Christianity by William Dembski ($0.99). (To review the rest of these week’s deals, just click here.)

The Solar System

This took a lot of effort and ingenuity: ”On a dry lakebed in Nevada, a group of friends build the first scale model of the solar system with complete planetary orbits: a true illustration of our place in the universe.”

The Desire to Be Desired

This is good stuff from Ed Welch. “At the heart of the romance novel is the thrill of being desired—irresistibly, intoxicatingly desired. And since that genre is the most frequently visited Internet category among women, there is a lot of ‘desiring to be desired’ out there. A lot. Since men’s idolatries get most of the attention, this is a short meditation aimed at bringing fairness to this imbalance.”

The Rise of Victimhood Culture

I appreciated this article’s description of the culture of victimhood we see around us today. “A recent scholarly paper on ‘microaggressions’ uses them to chart the ascendance of a new moral code in American life.”

The Most Misread Poem in America

This is an entertaining interpretation of Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken,” and an explanation as to why most people get it wrong.

This Day in 1905. Scottish clergyman and novelist, George MacDonald, who would influence many through his writings, including C.S. Lewis, dies in England. *

Is Baptism Required for Church Membership?

Whether or not you agree with the major premise of this article about baptism and church membership, I think you’ll benefit from reading it. (For what it’s worth, I need to think more about it, but am generally inclined to agree with most of what he says.)

Ambition and a Future Target

I have been thinking about ambition a lot, and appreciate what Dave Harvey calls for here. “God wants to rescue ambition. But not to build future monuments to our own glory. I’m talking about an instinct that looks for new ways to glorify God through our dreams.”

Smith

I didn’t invite Jesus into my heart; he gave me a new heart. —Scotty Smith

The Wise God and the Suffering Christian

The Wise God and the Suffering Christian

Why do Christians suffer? Why aren’t Christians relieved from trouble, from pain, from suffering? If God is powerful and wise, why doesn’t he direct his power and wisdom toward more comfortable lives for the ones he loves and redeems? J.I. Packer helpfully addresses this in the ninth chapter of Knowing God and I have condensed the chapter down to its essence.

For us to be truly wise, in the Bible sense, our intelligence and cleverness must be harnessed to a right end. Wisdom is the power to see, and the inclination to choose, the best and highest goal, together with the surest means of attaining it.

Wisdom is, in fact, the practical side of moral goodness. As such, it is found in its fullness only in God. He alone is naturally and entirely and invariably wise.

Human wisdom can be frustrated by circumstantial factors outside the wise person’s control. … But God’s wisdom cannot be frustrated. Power is as much God’s essence as wisdom is. Omniscience governing omnipotence, infinite power ruled by infinite wisdom, is a basic biblical description of the divine character.

Wisdom without power would be pathetic, a broken reed; power without wisdom would be merely frightening; but in God boundless wisdom and endless power are united, and this makes him utterly worthy of our fullest trust.

God’s wisdom is not, and never was, pledged to keep a fallen world happy, or to make ungodliness comfortable. Not even to Christians has he promised a trouble-free life; rather the reverse. He has other ends in view for life in this world than simply to make it easy for everyone.

What is he after, then? What is his goal? What does he aim at? When he made us, his purpose was that we should love and honor him, praising him for the wonderfully ordered complexity and variety of his world, using it according to his will, and so enjoying both it and him. And though we have fallen, God has not abandoned his first purpose.

In the fulfillment of each part of this purpose the Lord Jesus Christ is central, for God has set him forth both as Savior from sin, whom we must trust, and as Lord of the church, whom we must obey.

We should not be too taken aback when unexpected and discouraging things happen to us now. What do they mean? Why, simply that God in his wisdom means to make something of us which we have not attained yet, and is dealing with us accordingly. God knows exactly what he is doing, and what he is after, in his handling of our affairs.

Whatever further purpose a Christian’s troubles may or may not have in equipping him for future service, they will always have at least that purpose which Paul’s thorn in the flesh had: they will have been sent to make us and keep us humble, and to give us a new opportunity of showing forth the power of Christ in our mortal lives. And do we ever need to know any more about them than that? Is not this enough of itself to convince us of the wisdom of God in them? Once Paul saw that his trouble was sent to enable him to glorify Christ, he accepted it as wisely appointed, and rejoiced in it. God give us grace, in all our own troubles, and do likewise.

Next Week

If you are reading Knowing God with me as part of Reading Classics Together, please read chapters 11 and 12 for next Thursday. If you are not yet doing so, why don’t you join us? We aren’t that far into the book yet, so you will not have a difficult time catching up.

Your Turn

The purpose of Reading Classics Together is to read these books together. This time around the bulk of the discussion is happening in a dedicated Facebook group. You can find it right here. A thousand people are already interacting there and would be glad to have you join in or just read along.

A La Carte (September 17)

 

Life Is Best

Be sure to check out this new 13-episode program coming this fall. “Lives are at stake. Souls hang in the balance. Some Christians are engaged in the battle, most are not. Life Is Best will thoroughly equip and inspire you to join the fight for lives and souls.”

Truths and Tips for Engaging with Families in Your Church

Timothy Paul Jones shares truth and helpful tips for families.

McRevolt

I don’t mind admitting that McDonald’s breakfast is one of my favorite meals. (Has anything ever so perfectly mastered the salt / sugar / fat combination as a McDonald’s hash brown?) So I quite enjoyed this article on the company and its franchisees.

The Next Story

If you’ve never gotten around to reading my book The Next Story, this review will let you know about its strengths and weaknesses. If you buy it, be sure to get the second edition.

The New Socialists and the Social Ownership of Money

Joe Carter talks about Bernie Sanders and the social ownership of money.

MacArthurPre-Order Worthy. Next month will see the release of John MacArthur’s book Parables. “Master expositor and Bible commentator John MacArthur has spent a lifetime explaining the Word of God in clear and comprehensible terms. In Parables he helps Christians understand the essential lessons contained in the most famous and influential short stories the world has ever known.” Pre-order at Amazon.

Pascal’s Triangle

If you’ve got a math brain, or even if you don’t, you’ll enjoy this video. “Pascal’s triangle, which at first may just look like a neatly arranged stack of numbers, is actually a mathematical treasure trove. But what about it has so intrigued mathematicians the world over?”

Icons and Symbols of Catholicism

This photo essay about the icons and symbols of Catholicism will remind you why the Reformers were so set on simplicity of worship.

Captive

Jesse Johnson reviews the new movie Captive which is all about “a jail break 10 years ago that helped make Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life one of the best selling books of all time.”

Burroughs

When God has given you your heart’s desire, what have you done with your heart’s desire? —Jeremiah Burroughs