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“The prayer power has never been tried to its full capacity. If we want to see mighty wonders of divine power and grace wrought in the place of weakness, failure and disappointment, let us answer God’s standing challenge, “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things which thou knowest not!'”
May revival sweep across America as millions of Christians gather on this Lord’s Day for worship and fellowship. Even now, hours before the church doors open, summon your people to pray for their church and for revival!
In Jesus’ Holy and Precious Name!
“A God-sent Revival must ever be related to holiness”
“Every mighty move of the Spirit of God has had its source in the prayer chamber.” ~ E.M. Bounds
Have you noticed how much praying for revival has been going on of late – and how little revival has resulted? I believe the problem is that we have been trying to substitute praying for obeying, and it simply will not work.
In 2011, the Pentagon issued an order to all military chaplains instructing them that they were to perform same-sex marriages and to make their facilities available for same-sex ceremonies. Failure to comply with the order could result in a court-martial.
In 2012, the Pentagon instructed chaplains to stop preaching against a number sins including homosexuality. If they continued to preach against these things, they could face charges of sedition and treason.
Now, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is planning on taking on the Pentagon by ordering all of their military chaplains to not perform same-sex marriages and from being involved in counseling sessions or couples retreats for same-sex couples. Since the Southern Baptist Convention provides more military chaplains than any other Protestant denomination, this has all the makings of an old fashioned showdown between them and the Obama’s Pentagon.
Maj. Gen. Doug Carver, Retired, heads up the North American Mission Board (NAMB) chaplain services and spoke about the new SBC guidelines, saying:
“Our chaplains want to uphold the authority and relevancy of Scripture while continuing to serve in a very diverse setting. We believe these updated guidelines will help them do that while still sharing the love and the hope of Christ with everyone.”
A spokesman for the NAMB said that the SBC met with officials from the Defense Department while working up the new guidelines for their chaplains and that the DOD is in agreement with them. Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen, DOD spokesman stated:
“Further, a chaplain is not required to participate in or officiate a private ceremony if doing so would be in variance with the tenets of his or her religion or personal beliefs.”
This is a complete contradiction to orders the DOD previously sent out all of their chaplains in the past couple of years. I can’t help but wonder if the DOD just provided lip service to the Southern Baptist Convention in order to get them to instruct their chaplains to defy previous orders issued by the DOD. Once enough chaplains obey the SBC guidelines and refuse to conduct same-sex marriages, the DOD will start to clamp down and enforce those pervious orders. The motive would be to force Christian chaplains out of the military and thus opening the military up for more Muslim and atheist chaplains.
Islam looks down on homosexuality just as much as Christians do, but I’ve yet to hear of any Muslim chaplains getting in the same troubles as Christian chaplains.
by Melvin Tinker
One of the most wonderful mysteries in the universe is that prayer changes things. God has so arranged his world that we have the ability to make significant choices, some good and some bad, which affect the course of history. One means God has given us to do this is prayer—asking him to act. Because he is all-wise and all-powerful, knowing “the end from the beginning” (Isa. 46:10), he’s able to weave our requests into his eternally good purposes.
At this point our thinking can seriously go astray in one of two directions.
The first is to say, “If God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-good, and if everything is preordained, then he’s going to do whatever he wills anyway and thus our prayers can’t have any significant effect. Sure, they may help us psychologically, such that talking to God helps us get things off our chest that may help us feel better, but prayers don’t count for much in the grand scheme of things. So why bother?”
Here there’s an overemphasis on God’s absolute sovereignty.
The second route, though different from the first, ends up in the same place by denying the usefulness of prayer. Here’s the objection: “If human beings are free to make up their own minds, then God can’t be absolutely sovereign; he must take risks such that human decisions can thwart his purposes, so there are severe limits to what we can ask for without undermining human freedom. If, for example, you have been praying for your sister to become a Christian, and God has done everything he can to bring her to himself, but somehow she won’t surrender to him, why bother asking God to save her? It’s out of order to pressure God to do more than he can do. So just give up on prayer.”
Here the emphasis rests on a certain understanding of human freedom (“libertarian”).
Taken at face value, both objections appear to have some force, but only because they employ a strange “logic” that goes beyond Scripture. It’s always foolish and dangerous to play up one aspect of what the Bible teaches at the expense of something else it equally affirms. The God of the Bible is presented as the one who rules over all; he’s all-knowing, all-wise, and all-powerful. He isn’t surprised by anything we may think or do. On the other hand, Scripture also presents human beings as responsible moral agents who make significant choices, doing what we desire to do (“freedom of inclination”). God has chosen to relate to us personally without compromising the fact that he is God.
That said, Scripture describes the sovereign God as “repenting” or “relenting” in response to human prayer. Take Exodus 32, for instance. At this point in salvation history, the people of Israel have broken the Ten Commandments by building and worshiping a golden calf. Incensed, God vows to wipe them out. “I have seen these people, and they are a stiff-necked people,” he says to Moses. “Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation” (vv. 9-10). But Moses steps into the breach and reminds God of his promises, arguing his reputation will be brought into disrepute for saying one thing—”I will save the people”—and doing another—destroying them, appearing to renege on his promises to Abraham. Moses appeals to God as the sovereign king to show mercy (vv. 11-13). And that’s exactly what happens: “Then the LORD relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened” (v. 14).
The theoretical problem raised by a belief in the efficacy of prayer to a sovereign God is acknowledged by C. S. Lewis, who helpfully places it within the wider context of God using certain means to achieve desired ends:
Can we believe that God really modifies his action in response to the suggestions of men? For infinite wisdom does not need telling what is best, and infinite goodness needs no urging to do it. But neither does God need any of those things that are done by finite agents, whether living or inanimate. He could, if he chose, repair our bodies miraculously without food; or give us food without the aid of farmers, bakers, and butchers; or knowledge without the aid of learned men; or convert the heathen without missionaries. Instead he allows soils and weather and animals and the muscles, minds, and wills of men to co-operate in the execution of his will. “God,” said Pascal, “instituted prayer in order to lend to his creatures the dignity of causality.” But not only prayer; whenever we act at all he lends us that dignity. It is not really stranger, nor less strange, that my prayers should affect the course of events than that my other actions should do so. They have not advised or changed God’s mind—that is, his overall purpose. But that purpose will be realized in different ways according to the actions, including prayers, of his creatures.
Our problem in trying to see how prayer “works” is that we often have a wrong view of God in relation to his world. Often we think of God like Bruce Almighty, sitting in a celestial office and feverishly dealing with all the requests that arrive: “Mrs. Green prays her husband’s cancer be cured,” “Mr. Young prays his wife might conquer alcoholism,” and so on—with a million more worthy requests. It’s seems to be in line with God’s will that Mr. Green be healthy and Mrs. Young be sober. But what if both get worse? Does this mean that God doesn’t answer prayer?
The tangled web of humans living in a fallen world makes things more complex. At times, the good ends God desires arise from certain evils. So at one level, cancer is an evil, part of the curse on a rebellious world. God sometimes does answer prayers for healing (and in one sense all healing is divine in that God is working providentially). But we also must recognize that since we’re mortal, all people die sometime. What’s more, other prayers may be offered and answered that can only be answered if there’s not healing—like gaining patience through suffering or an increased focus on the world to come. Maybe Mr. Green’s son has turned his back on God, and through his father’s illness he’ll return. So in order to “answer” one prayer, the return of the son, God doesn’t “answer” the other, complete healing. God alone knows what is best.
The Blackaby family would like everyone to know that Henry has been found and is safe. His health concerns are being addressed and we will keep everyone posted with the news. We wish to express to everyone our appreciation and gratitude for the prayers and concern over the last 29 hours. Henry has taught us that we can experience God in the good and the bad times. We thank God that we have experienced his grace, peace, and faithfulness in these times.
Praise the Lord!
Yesterday’s tragic shooting at the Navy Yard in Washington D.C. was yet another reminder of the fragility of life. Unfortunately this horrific occurrence, like others before it, could possibly have been avoided.
This morning, we learned of the shooter’s struggles with mental illness. Tonight, Rick Warren goes on CNN to discuss the reality of mental illness and how Christians should respond. As you might recall, Rick’s son took his own life this past spring after struggling with mental illness for some time.
In the aftermath of Matthew Warren’s death, I wrote an editorial for CNN on the need for the church to be more intentional and involved in addressing mental illness. I wrote:
Matthew’s life was not a waste and, yes, every day had a purpose. His pain is over now, but perhaps his life and death will remind us all of the reality of mental illness and inspire people of faith to greater awareness and action.
So, what can we do as people of faith to address issues of mental illness?
Churches need to stop hiding mental illness. The congregation should be a safe place for those who struggle. We should not be afraid of medicine. We need to end the shame.
The fact is, mental illness is real. And it’s a real illness.
It is also important that we recognize that prayer changes things. In fact, the gospel impacts every area of our lives and God can—and does at times—supernaturally heal every kind of illness. Yet, God often chooses to do so through an approach that includes prayer, study, Christian community, and medical intervention.
Medicine is not the answer to everything, and we live in an overmedicated world, but we need to treat character problems like character problems—and illnesses like illness.
I wish more Christians saw that. So LifeWay Research is taking the initiative to help others realize this as we prepare kick off a major research project on how the church can best minister to persons with mental illness. I’ll share more on that study at a later time.
However, this morning we released some new research on mental illness, suicide, and more. CNN even cited it in their promotion of tonight’s interview with Rick Warren.
Most of us would prefer, however, to spend our time doing something that will get immediate results. We don’t want to wait for God to resolve matters in His good time because His idea of ‘good time’ is seldom in sync with ours.” ― Oswald Chambers