Prayers and Possibilities in the New Year

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On Sunday, we looked at Colossians 1:1-8 and saw the Apostle Paul’s prayer for the church at Colossae. In Paul’s prayer, it is clear that the gospel had transformed the Colossian believers. Not only that, the gospel was spreading in their city.

In many ways, this gives us a vision of what we hope to occur in our church and city. We want to see people changed by the gospel, and we want to witness the gospel’s impact in our town and beyond.

In this passage, prayer is vital. Paul prays regularly for these brothers and sisters. Paul’s example reminds us of the necessity of praying for the Lord to move in our church and our city.

Not only is prayer central, but deep relationships within the church are essential. God uses fellow believers to help us grow in Him. However, forming these relationships takes time and effort. It is crucial for believers to gather weekly for worship and to meet regularly with a small group for Bible study and prayer. In these contexts, we challenge and strengthen one another in our faith. Imagine a plant without water for an extended period. It won’t grow and eventually withers. Similarly, we stunt our growth in Christ when we don’t prioritize worship and fellowship with each other.

Remember, the power of the gospel! Jesus doesn’t remodel us. He remakes us. He doesn’t do a renovation but a total transformation. We want to see changed lives! How should we respond to this passage? First, commit to pray for God to move in our church. Second, build worship and fellowship with your brothers and sisters in Christ into your family’s weekly rhythms.

I’m looking forward to an incredible 2019. Let’s pray for God to move in our church and city!

Prayer and the Gospel: Hope in the Midst of America’s Brokenness

Veteran Funeral

Our hearts break as our nation struggles through this difficult time. We hurt for the families of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile and the police officers who were killed, Lorne Ahrens, Michael Krol, Michael Smith, Brent Thompson, and Patrick Zamarippa. Let’s pray for these families and these communities in their grief.

Unmistakably, our nation faces a difficult time with mounting racial tension and hostility. For believers, it is a time to pray. We need to pray for God to break our own hearts over our sin. We should pray for God to break our hearts over our apathy and spiritual half-heartedness. We should pray for God to move in churches and bring revival. We need to pray that God will move in this nation, bringing a great awakening. We need to pray for our law enforcement and government leaders (1 Tim 2:1-2). Pray for their integrity, wisdom, and protection.

In reality, the true and lasting solution to racial tension and division is the gospel. During the first century, the enmity between Jews and Gentiles was substantial. Yet, through Christ even this division could be overcome. Consider Paul’s words concerning Jesus and reconciliation, “For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility” (Eph 2:14). In Christ, even the Jews and Gentiles could be made one! If we want to see an America that is united, then we need to share the gospel.

Further, as believers we must model a love for others within our faith family. Jesus told His disciples that the world would recognize them by their love for each other (John 13:35). Unbelievers should be able to look at our church family and see the reality of the life-transforming power of the gospel. Our church family should be a place where we love and care for each other without regard for the color of our skin, socio-economic factors, or any human construct.

In these difficult days, let’s be a people of prayer. Let’s be a people who share the only true and lasting hope for racism and for all sin. Will you pray? Will you tell others about Jesus?

Considering What “Marriage Equality” Will Really Mean

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Today, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments regarding the definition of marriage. The Court is expected to render a decision on June 26. Based on the Court’s recent actions and inaction, it is likely that the Court will declare a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. However, we want to continue praying for God’s mercy in this matter.

Some will ask, “Why do you care? Why not allow two adults who love each other to be married?” That argument sounds reasonable, right? However, consider the logical conclusions of this argument, and you’ll quickly discover that there is no stopping place. In other words, if marriage is no longer defined as a relationship between one man and one woman with the obvious biological realties connected to procreation, then marriage can and eventually will mean anything.

To put it another way, if a loving, same-sex couple can be married, why not a “throuple” or three-some in their meaningful, loving relationship? Or why not four? Could a father marry his adult son? Could widows and widowers group together in various arrangements, marrying to share social security and savings?[1] And the list goes on. If marriage is severed from the biological realities associated with procreation, there will be no end to innovation. What does marriage equality mean in these contexts?

If marriage is redefined, then marriage ultimately loses all meaning. Rampant divorce and the culture of cohabitation have already done irreparable harm to children and families. The redefinition of marriage will be another momentous step away from the stability of family structure. Why do we care? Love of neighbor compels us to care. Marriage was instituted by God to provide a healthy context for the nurture and instruction of children (Genesis 1.27-28, Ephesians 6.4). When we abandon God’s good provision, children will suffer. Ultimately, society as a whole suffers as the structure and stability of family gives way.

Anderson, George, and Girgis are exactly right, “Marriage plays a fundamental role in civil society because it is characterized by sexual complementarity, monogamy, exclusivity, and permanence. These marriage norms encourage men and women to commit permanently and exclusively to each other and take responsibility for their children.”[2]

Am I a bigot and mean-hearted for praying and hoping that the Court will not take this next step in furthering the erosion of the family? That’s certainly what I’d be called by many people. As believers we must remain faithful to God’s Word even when it feels awkward as it certainly does in today’s cultural climate. God’s Word and love of neighbor compel us to remain steadfast even in the face of opposition. Will you join me in praying for God’s mercy in this matter? God can change the hearts of kings (Proverbs 21.1). Perhaps, He will.

[1]Hadley Arkes, “The Jujitsu of Same-Sex Marriage: One Last Surge of Reflection for the Court,” First Things, April 14, 2015.

[2]Sherif Girgis, Ryan T. Anderson, and Robert P. George, What Is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense (New York: Encounter Press, 2012).

Now, is a Great Time to Pray, Refocus, and Share the Gospel

He Is Risen Religious Background

With Easter around the corner, let’s think about who we will invite to church on Easter morning and look for ways to begin gospel conversations. Certainly, many people are more likely to attend church on Easter than at any other time of the year. If we really believe the message of the resurrection, then we ought to be like the early followers of Jesus who couldn’t keep quiet about Jesus.

In fact, Peter and John were boldly preaching about the resurrection of Jesus. Their message troubled the Jewish leaders who had Peter and John arrested and brought before the Sanhedrin. Peter and John were warned to quit telling others about Jesus. The two men responded, “For we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20). What about us? Can we not stop speaking about Jesus?

Let’s pray about this opportunity for evangelism and look for ways to tell others about the good news of the gospel. Let’s pray for friends and neighbors that we’ll invite to church and that we’ll strive to tell about the the good news of Jesus. Let’s pray for God to open the eyes of those who don’t know Jesus that they might see and believe (2 Cor. 4:4). Our celebration of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus is about much more than egg hunts, Easter dresses, and family meals. Let’s truly celebrate the truth of the resurrection by telling others the good news that He is risen! What message is needed more?

Let’s make prayer and sharing the gospel central to our celebration of Christ’s resurrection. Pray for those who don’t know Christ. Pray for boldness in sharing the gospel. Pray that your church’s worship service will be faithful to the Word and that the gospel will be preached clearly. Pray that those who don’t know Jesus will see and believe. After all, isn’t this what the resurrection of Jesus is all about–that in Christ dead men and women can live!