This weekend I will be preaching Luke 11:1-13 at Bay Area as part of our study of the gospel of Luke. I will be answering the question the original disciples asked their Rabbi Jesus. How should we pray? Jesus gives them a prayer pattern based on the Kaddish and the Amidah of ancient Judaism. The pattern recorded in Luke 11:1-4 is simple but profound.
Intimate Worship (Father, Sanctified be Your Name) (Luke 11:2)
Pray the Names of God as worship:
El Elyon = the Most High
El Olam = Everlasting God
El Shaddai –The Almighty God
YHWH Jireh= The Lord Provides
YHWH Nissi = The Lord is My Banner
YHWH Shalom = The Lord is Peace
YHWH Roi = The Lord is Shepherd
YHWH Tsidekenu = The Lord Is our Righteousness
Qadosh Israel = The Holy One of Israel
Lift Up The King and His Kingdom (Luke 11:2)
Pray concentric circles starting with you
Your Small Group
Your Neighborhood, Community, Workplace
Cry Out in Daily Dependence (Luke 11:3-4)
Physically (Our Daily Bread)
Thank Him for His provision yesterday and ask him for it today
Spiritually (Forgiveness and Forgiving others, protection)
Confess your specific sins
Pray, forgiving others
Lead me not into temptation
Deliver me from the Evil One
Pray on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-17)
Join me and the community of faith at Bay Area in praying this way for 7 days beginning October 28. Journal the ways the Lord answers your prayers in that timeframe. Comment here so we can all be encouraged by how God is working. Take the 7-Day prayer challenge October 28 – November 4. I bet this will change your prayer life forever.
If you would come after me…
Luke 9:23 –If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
Deny Yourself: As an American for sure I have to ask myself the question, “What does that mean?” What does it mean to deny myself? I have lived in a culture all of my life that instead challenges me to be the center of my own universe. What does this mean? It is more than “deny ourselves” indulgence or a taste of that pet sin that we have carried around for some time. To deny myself literally means to refuse to follow myself. That is difficult in a world that tells me to “be true to my self”, “love myself”, invest in my own “self-esteem”, and most importantly to “believe in my self.” Jesus tells me to rid myself of all of that if I am going to follow him. To deny myself is to live the confession that I make daily that Jesus Christ is Lord. If He is Lord, I am not. He is the center of the universe and therefore I should be true to Him, love Him, worship Him, and most importantlly believe in Him. Denying oneself is not normal or natural. This kind of living marks us as disciples of Jesus in a world filled with self-lovers.
Take up Your Cross: Really? Pick up a brutal instrument of death and follow you? The cross is a symbol of shame, guilt, suffering, and rejection. There could be no more despicable way to die. In the 1st century, crucifixion was not mentioned in polite conversation, and none wore crosses on their person or had them inked on their skin. It would be like us making jewelry in the form of an electric chair or tattooing one on our ankle. How do I take up my cross? To do such a think is to join Christ in His surrender, in His suffering, in His sacrifice. I cannot literally nail myself to a cross but I can present my life as a sacrifice. Romans 12:1-2 says, “I appeal to you therefore brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” I like how Paul describes the act of following Jesus by taking up his cross. In Galatians 2:20 he says, “For I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.”
Daily: Every day? Do you mean that if I am to come after you there are no days off? You want me to choose every day to deny myself and take up my cross. In truth, it is a daily choice. People get confused. The good news is that when Jesus took up His cross and you and I confessed his life, death, and resurrection for the propitiation of our sin we were saved. Daily, however the gospel compels us because of love to choose to follow Him. Taking up my cross does not save me. I am saved because He took up His cross. Taking up my cross daily is choosing to want Him and love Him more than anything else that day. Some days I do, others, I love me more. I hate that.
I love that the gospel of Luke uses the word “daily.” The Christian faith is not something that happened back then that will pay off later. Instead it is a daily journey of worship by choosing to come after Christ. It is difficult and peaceful all at the same time. It is joy filled and full of sacrifice. Those who follow daily find contentment in close proximity to Christ even if it means our earthly demise.
My plan is always to pray and read the Scriptures in the morning that I might listen to God. Yesterday was not unlike any other day. Stayed up too late so I slept too late (7:00 AM is late in my world). Got ready, ate breakfast,dropped my daughter off for volleyball camp, walked in our offices and turned on my computer. My cell phone rang, a staff member popped his head in the door, and then it was time for our daily staff prayer gathering. At 8:40 I’m finally back in my office. I open my Bible, my journal, and I bow my head. I think I’m safe because everyone knows to leave me alone in the morning unless it’s an emergency. Suddenly, my assistant sticks her head in the door. EMERGENCY! …and it was. I dropped everything and headed to connect with a family at the lowest point in their life. I returned just in time for a barrage of meetings. At 4 PM I opened my Bible again only to be distracted by email. Suddenly it was 5:30. Time to go home, dinner with the family, work out, and then start all over again. Busy day. Too busy to abide.
I’m guessing I’m not the only ministry leader in the world with such issues. Truthfully, every day of my life could be like the one described if it were not for some really great people that protect my time and some fairly healthy boundaries around my time with God. Still, it’s a fight to Abide. Why is that?
“I am the vine you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5
I am certain the answer is simple. In the spiritual battle for the souls of men and women a leader who does not abide in Christ, according to the Text, can do nothing. It makes sense. A leader who does not take time to listen and to know the direction and the heart of his superior will never execute his plans. How will we even know where to go and what to say apart from abiding in Christ?
On the other hand a leader that abides in Christ will bear much fruit. This also makes sense. A ministry leader abiding in Christ knows His Heart, understands His plan for the day, hears his voice, follows in his footsteps. This kind of leader has ears to hear and eyes to see. He is walking in the Spirit not reacting in the flesh. I want to be a ministry leader, a pastor, a Christian, who abides. For me this is the strategic battle to win every day. When I abide I see fruit. When I don’t I sin and can do nothing.
If this resonates with you, I would love to spend some time with you face to face. I will be continuing this conversation here
this fall. Come sit down with me and let’s talk about what really matters.
Subject: Earn up to six hours of credit at D6 Conference!
The D6 Conference is already one of the premier family ministry conferences in North America, consistently equipping ministers and parents for gospel-driven discipleship in their homes.
Now, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Boyce College have partnered with D6 to offer an even deeper level of equipping at the D6 Conference: credit toward your bachelor’s or master’s degree. You can attend the D6 Pre-Conference and Conference in Dallas, complete the
course requirements after the conference, and receive three hours of undergraduate credit or up to six hours of graduate credit.
The courses being offered at the 2012 D6 Conference in Dallas are:
Master’s-level courses through Southern Seminary:
* 35040MD Leadership and Family Ministry (3 credit hours, $230 per credit hour, must attend the entire pre-conference and the conference)
* 45260MD Discipleship and Family Ministry (3 credit hours, $230 per credit hour, must attend the entire pre-conference and the conference)
Bachelor’s-level course through Boyce College:
* CE431MD Family Discipleship (3 credit hours, $298 per credit hour, must attend the entire conference)
To defray the cost of tuition, D6 is also offering a radically discounted rate for students in these courses: $119 for the entire pre-conference and conference in Dallas (together, the pre-conference and conference would otherwise cost $448). If you are a current Boyce or Southern student, register for these courses just as you would register for any other fall courses. If you are not a current Boyce or Southern student, register for the courses using this link
. After you have registered, request your discount code from firstname.lastname@example.org
Students taking any of these courses must plan to gather for a Family Ministry Dialogue with Dr. Randy Stinson and Dr. Timothy Paul Jones on September 26 at 7:30 PM at the Dallas-Frisco Convention Center. Directions to this required gathering may be obtained from the Southern Seminary admissions booth at any time during D6 registration or during the D6 Pre-Conference.
For many people, death is a scary subject. When a child experiences the death of a family member or friend for the first time it is important to carefully walk them through the experience. Most of the time parents don’t do this very well leaving children with some kind of warped, cartooned understanding about what happens when someone dies. Parents say things like, “Nana is with us all the time. She’s an angel watching over us every day.” Recently I heard a Christian parent tell his daughter that “the big man in the sky” wanted grandpa to be with Him. While all these attempts to bring death to a child’s level are understandable, they may not be beneficial.
When my daughter Madelyn was in first grade she had a good friend named Colby who was in her class at school and her Sunday school class at church. Unfortunately her friend was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer that ended his life after several months of suffering. As parents we struggled with how to tell Madelyn what was happening in a way that made sense to a first grader but that was also biblically truthful.
Family ministry is about equipping parents. When a loved one or a friend of a child dies, we need to help parents talk with their children in biblically true, age-appropriate ways. Here are some things we might consider teaching the parents of the kids in our ministries when dealing with death.
1) Don’t make up another word or phrase for death when it is time to break the news. Sometimes in an effort to shield our children from the emotional impact of death we often uses phrases that can be utterly confusing for them. Common examples of this include, “She has gone to be with Jesus” or “He is in a better place now” or even “He passed away.” While these phrases are true they don’t communicate the terminal reality of the situation. They may be appropriate later but the initial conversation should be clear. When we told our Maddie about her friend Colby we chose to say it like this. “You know your friend Colby has been sick for a long time. Today, Colby died and you will not see him again until you go to heaven.” This actually helped Maddie begin to grieve with clarity. She immediately understood the finality of the situation.
2) Don’t give them an unbiblical picture of reality. I think it is damaging to convey a biblical untruth to a child in an effort to help them cope with death. The biggest one that I hear over and over again in the Christian community is this one. “She’s an angel now, looking down from heaven.” Biblically, no she’s not. Instead she is something better. She is a daughter of the King, living in His presence in a place where there is no more suffering, tears, or pain. Let’s paint the biblical picture correctly starting when they are young.
3) Fill them with legitimate hope in Christ. 1 Thessalonians 4:1-18 is one of my favorite verses to share as I lead a family in their grief. It starts this way. “But we do not want you to be uninformed brothers about those who are asleep, that you many not grieve as others do who have no hope.” We can lead parents to share with our children the message of hope in Jesus Christ based on his promises. This biblical hope is very comforting when dealing with death. Help parents fill their children with hope in Christ in moments of grief. Simple verses like John 3:16 illustrate this hope. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him would not perish but have eternal life.”
So how can you help parents help their children deal with death? I think parents just need a little practical help. You could write an article, a blog post, or make a short video and post it on the web. You could share these 3 bullet points in 3 minutes and give parents help in their efforts to lead their child through the experience of the death of a friend or family member. Be proactive. When you know of situations like this, insert yourself. Call the parents or go by their home for a visit. Give them some simple hints for leading their child to deal with death. Whatever you do, don’t let this opportunity slip by. Family ministry is all about equipping families to deal with the hard stuff.
On Wednesday, May 9 President Barack Obama publicly affirmed his personal stance that same-sex couples should be able to get married in the United States of America. This perspective offered from the highest office in the land is spiritually arrogant and clearly unbiblical. However spun, the issue is not a civil rights issue but instead one of theology. While humanism will always reject biblical theology in favor of personal preference, God’s Word reveals His design for marriage.
God’s Design for Marriage
Whose idea is marriage anyway? If men and women developed the blueprints for marriage then people certainly have the capability to remodel the original design. However, if marriage is an institution designed by God and developed with His purposes in mind then people, no matter how influential, have no right to govern it and its design is not up for debate. Consider the scriptures.
Genesis 1:27-28 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
Genesis 2:20-25 But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said,
“This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh, she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”
24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed
According to the Bible, God created men and women equally in His sight with male and female uniqueness. This is evidenced in simple anatomy, biological and physiological processes, and the reproductive process among other things. The first documented marriage takes place in the Garden of Eden between Adam and Eve. We see a pattern of one man and one woman for a lifetime. This design is first shown in Genesis but continues throughout the scriptures. This is the bedrock of the biblical worldview concerning marriage. To support same-sex marriage is to reject the scriptures. To support same-sex marriage is to determine that God is not the designer of marriage or the creator of men and women therefore giving us as people the right to redefine marriage. When President Obama says that he affirms same-sex marriage he is willfully and intentionally rejecting God’s design for marriage as stated in the Bible.
The Cultural Ramifications
Truthfully, the world has seen this all before. By “this” I mean the choice of a once God-centered culture to reject God’s sovereign authority and leadership. Judges 13:1 describes the culture of Israel in those days this way.
“And the people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, so the Lord gave them into the hands of the Philistines for forty years.”
People have constantly wrestled with doing what is right in their own eyes verses doing what is right in the eyes of the Lord. Certainly nations and generations have chosen their own way over the ways of God. The result is always a sovereign judgment imposed upon men by God himself. For instance, in the verse above, God judged His people by letting them be ruled by another nation for forty years. In Romans 1 the wrath of God falls on unrighteous Rome. God’s judgment is to simply let the people reap the consequences of doing what is right in their own eyes. Read for Roman 1:21-32 for yourself.
21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.
The ramifications of doing what is right in our own eyes verses doing what is right in the eyes of the Lord is already coming to fruition. Romans 1 eerily describes the finish line in the race to build a country devoid of obedience to God’s Word. Hauntingly verse 32 of Romans 1 condemns those who give approval to such activity outside of God’s design. President Obama’s affirmation of same sex marriage is a modern example of an ancient truth. You reap what you sow. Our culture is experiencing judgment and if we continue to follow leaders who guide us away from the truth of God’s Word we will experience judgment to deepening degrees that will devastate our children and grandchildren.
There is good news. The gospel of Jesus Christ is for every person who would confess with their mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in their heart that Jesus was raised from the dead according to Romans 10:9-10. This is what I love about God. Though He must judge sin He chooses to deal with sin on the cross of Jesus Christ. He allows Jesus to take the punishment for us as a substitute if we will turn away from our sin and toward the Savior in repentant and obedient love. That kind of confession promises forgiveness and produces miraculous life change. This applies to any sinner and the Bible teaches that we are all sinners. As I write this post knowing that some will judge me as self-righteous and intolerant I admit that I am a big sinner, saved by the loving grace of Jesus.
So how, as Christians, should we react to President Obama’s announcement? Here are 5 steps toward a gospel-centered response.
1. Repent of Sin – Begin by repenting of personal sin. Whenever I speak out against sin I am always reminded of how sinful I am. Repent of your own sin and pursue personal revival. If the people of God in this nation returned to Him in loving obedience, the Holy Spirit once again would move across our land in reformative ways. It begins with us.
2. Resist the stupid, gossipy, rhetoric that is un-loving and counter-productive. A lot of Christians will simply verbally bash the Presidents’ decision while sneering at homosexuals with a self-righteous “you are the reason this country is going to hell” look. Truthfully, God has just given us over to what is right in our own eyes. The church is responsible here as much as anyone else. Before you check out the speck in someone else’s eye take the log out of your own.
3. Love people who struggle with same-sex attraction. We all now have people in our lives (friends, family, co-workers) who struggle or have completely given themselves over to same-sex attraction. We need to love them while upholding God’s design. Jesus is a friend of sinners and you and I should be as well. Never compromise the truth but offer the gospel in love.
4. Teach your children God’s design for sexuality and marriage. To thrive in the next generation our children need a clear biblical understanding of sex, marriage, and family. Impress this on your children while they are young. Talk about the issues openly in your family in age appropriate ways. Our children encounter these issues as 4 and 5 year olds.
5. Vote – Please register to vote and then vote. We live in a democracy that gives us a voice. Vote your biblical worldview. Your vote matters and this presidential election will decide the fate of marriage in our country. Will we do what is right in our own eyes or what is right in the eyes of the Lord? We know President Obama’s leaning. What is yours?
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. 2001 (Ge 1:27–28). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
Last night I read a blog post called “So You Want to Date My Daughter” by Jared Wilson. Looking at the associated comments, I bet by now we could consider this post “viral.” Read it now so you that will understand the rest of my post.
The title of the post caught my attention as a Christian Dad wanting to be intentional about how I lead my 3 daughters to deal with the issues of dating and marriage. The post made me laugh, challenged me to man-up in my role as a father of daughters, and gave me some great practical ideas for just how to do that.
Jared and I are on the same page biblically when it comes to honoring God and valuing women. While his post made the laugh the ensuing comments from “Christians” made me cry. Who would have thought such a post would capture the passionate attention of many? We have a problem in the west when it comes to the biblical roles of men and women. The problem is we don’t like God’s design and we think we know better. This of course is offensive to God producing a Romans 1 effect. In a sense, God sometimes judges this kind of sin by saying, “Have it your way.” The results, as evidenced in our culture already, are devastating.
Let me state the obvious biblically no matter your experience in the world:
God’s design is that men are to lead the family and the church spiritually. That’s why he made us Dad’s and Senior Pastors, overseers and elders. That does not mean that women have no place of leadership in the church or in the family. It just means they have a different place of vital and valued leadership in the church and the family per God’s design. Men are supposed to protect their wives and daughters from other evil men even if their wives and daughters are strong and independent. This is, in fact, God valuing women highly and men who love God valuing women highly. When we as men fail to lead spiritually, protect, and provide, then we drop the ball causing a clang of cultural dissonance throughout the generations. When we as men abuse our role given by God or ignore it in apathy we cause revolt against God’s design because of real pain, real abuse, and real anger experienced by sons, daughters, and wives alike. In my view this abuse of God’s design by men is the root sin causing the sometimes understandable yet sinful reactions of feminism, homosexuality, adultery, abuse, etc.
Men of God it’s time to embrace God’s design, love like He does (sacrificially, selflessly, courageously), and stop being abusive or apathetic.
All that from a post called “So You Want to Date My Daughter?” Yes. Read the comments on Jared’s post. You will see, the real issue is not Jared’s parenting but a war to embrace or reject God’s design for biblical manhood and womanhood.