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An abandoned person prays without stopping because who doesn’t want to talk with their father?

Caleb BreakleyCalled to Stay: An Uncompromising Mission to Save Your Church109. 

Red Sox knock off Cards in 6 games

UPDATED OCT 30, 2013 11:47 PM ET

BOSTON (AP)

David OrtizShane Victorino and the Boston Red Sox closed in on yet another World Series championship, battering October ace Michael Wacha and taking a 6-0 lead through six innings Wednesday night in Game 6.

Fenway Park was rollicking, with the crowd standing from the very first pitch. Slumping Shane Victorino lined a three-run double off the Green Monster in the third, and the cheers, chants and singing only got louder after that.

Many fans paid over $1,000 per ticket for this night, knowing what was at stake — holding a 3-2 edge in the best-of-seven matchup, Boston was hoping to celebrate a championship on its own field for the first time since 1918.

Ortiz drew walks his first three times up, along with thunderous cries of “MVP! MVP!” He also scored twice, having reached base a whopping 18 times in 23 plate appearances.

John Lackey worked around six hits in blanking theCardinals. Both he and the Red Sox were no strangers to crowns.

Boston was aiming for its third title in 10 years. Lackey was trying to become the first pitcher to start and win a World Series clincher for two different teams, having led the Angels past Barry Bonds and the Giants in Game 7 in 2002 as a rookie.

Stephen Drew hit a solo home run that someone in a Red Sox jacket caught in the bullpen. Mike Napoli, back in the lineup with Ortiz returning to the DH slot, hit an RBI single into the “B Strong” cutout in the grass that pays tribute to the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings.

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The National Prayer Accord  

From the Prayer First Team…

The National Prayer Accord is a movement of prayer embraced by the Prayer First team – as a rhythm of prayer that can be implemented in any church. With its roots in the First Great Awakening, this call to prayer is simple:

  • Weekly: one-half- to one-hour private or small group prayer
  • Monthly: one- to two-hour individual church prayer gatherings
  • Quarterly: one- to two-hour local, multiple church prayer gatherings
  • Annually: The National Day of Prayer (the first Thursday of May), Global Day of Prayer (Pentecost Sunday), Cry Out America prayer gatherings (September 11), etc.

Last month’s Prayer First newsletter described the history of the National Prayer Accord, which you can read here. But what are we praying toward? If we are praying for the revival of the Church, what might that look like?

How to Recognize Revival

Here are some commonly held indicators of revival in the Church:

  1. Increasing testimony of the manifest presence of God.
  2. Increased conversions and baptisms.
  3. Amplified participation in corporate as well as individual prayer, fasting, and other spiritual disciplines leading to more effective discipleship.
  4. A decrease in divorces and renewed commitment to marriage between a man and a woman in covenant relationship as God intends.
  5. Imparting faith to children and youth as parents are equipped by the church to become primary disciplers of their children.
  6. Among churches, a passionate pursuit for the well-being of their cities through the planting of new congregations, benevolent ministries, practical service, and focused evangelism.
  7. Commitment to radical generosity as evidenced by compassion ministries and global missions.
  8. Improved health among ministers as evidenced by their joy, decreased resignations, and healthy loving relationships within their families. Also an increased response among young people called to the ministry.
  9. Christians involved in bold witness accompanied by miracles, dramatic conversions, and Holy Spirit-empowered victories over evil.
  10. Heightened expressions of love and unity among all believers, as demonstrated by the unity of pastors and leaders.

How to Recognize Spiritual Awakening

In addition, here are indicators of a spiritual awakening in the culture:

  1. Breakdowns of racial, social, and status barriers as Christ’s Church celebrates together – Jesus!
  2. A restoration of morality, ethical foundations, and accountability among leaders of church and government, business and politics.
  3. A transformation of society through restoration of Christ’s influence in the arts, media, and communications.
  4.  Increased care for the hungry, homeless, the most vulnerable and needy.
  5. Young adults, students, and children embracing the claims and lifestyle of Christ through the witness of peers who live and love as Jesus.
  6. Community and national leaders seeking out the church as an answer to society’s problems.
  7. Increased care for children as “gifts from the Lord” as the gospel addresses abortion, adoption, foster care, and child well-being.
  8. Righteous relations between men and women: decrease in divorce rates, cohabitation, same-sex relations, sexual abuse, sex trafficking, out of wedlock children, and STDs.
  9. An awakening to the “fear of the Lord” rather than the approval of people, thus restoring integrity and credibility.
  10. Neighborhood transformation and an accompanying decrease of social ills through increased expressions of “loving your neighbor” in service, compassion, and unity.

God has responded to the prayers of His people with Great Awakenings in the past. We believe it is worth the investment of heart and prayer to invite the Lord to do it again! It may be our greatest need for today.

FROM  Oct 28, 2013 

When we consider the predicament that the evangelical church of the twenty-first century faces in America, the first thing we need to understand is the very designation “evangelical church” is itself a redundancy. If a church is not evangelical, it is not an authentic church. The redundancy is similar to the language that we hear by which people are described as “born-again Christians.” If a person is born again of the Spirit of God, that person is, to be sure, a Christian. If a person is not regenerated by the Holy Spirit, he may profess to be a Christian, but he is not an authentic Christian. There are many groups that claim to be churches that long ago repudiated the evangel, that is, the gospel. Without the gospel, a gathering of people, though they claim otherwise, cannot be an authentic church.

In the sixteenth century, the term evangelical came into prominence as a description of the Protestant church. In many cases, the terms evangelical andProtestant were used interchangeably. Today, that synonymous use of the adjectives no longer functions with any accuracy. Historic Protestants have forgotten what they were protesting in the sixteenth century. The central protest of the Reformation church was the protest against the eclipse of the gospel that had taken place in the medieval church.

When we turn our attention to the first century, to the churches about which we learn from the biblical record, we know that all of the churches addressed in the New Testament, including the churches in Ephesus, Corinth, Thessalonica, and the seven churches of Revelation, were evangelical churches. They all embraced the biblical gospel. Yet at the same time, these churches were different in their strengths, in their weaknesses, and in their compositions. An evangelical church is not necessarily a monolithic community. There may be unity among evangelical churches but not necessarily uniformity. The distinctions of the seven churches of Revelation are set forth clearly in that book. They manifest different greatnesses and frailties, but they all faced perils. Each confronted the dangers that assaulted the church in the first century. They faced hazards of varying proportions, but there was a common threat to the health of the New Testament church from many sides. Those dangers manifested in the first century are repeated in every age of the church. They certainly loom large at our time in the early years of the twenty-first century.

Among what I see as the three most critical perils the church faces today are, first of all, the loss of biblical truth. When the truth of the gospel is compromised or negotiated, the church ceases to be evangelical. We live in a time of crisis with respect to truth, where many churches see doctrine merely as something that divides. Therefore, they stress relationships over truth. That is a false distinction, as a commitment to truth is a commitment that should manifest itself in vital, living relationships. Relationships can never be a substitute for embracing the truth of God. So the either/or fallacy of doctrine or relationship cannot be maintained under careful biblical scrutiny.

A second widespread peril to the church today is the loss of any sense of discipline. When the church fails to discipline its members for gross and heinous sins, particularly sins of a public nature, that community becomes infected with the immorality of the secular culture. This occurs when the church so desperately wants to be accepted by the pagan culture that it adopts the very morality of the pagan community and imitates it, baptizing it with religious language.

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The third crucial peril facing the church today is the loss of faithful worship. There are different styles of worship that can be pleasing to God. However, all worship that is pleasing to God is worship grounded in Spirit and in truth. We can have lively worship, manifesting great interest and excitement, with doctrine and truth eliminated. On the other hand, we can have what some call a dead orthodoxy, where the creedal truths of the historic Christian faith remain central to the worship of the church, but the worship itself does not flow from the heart and lacks spiritual vitality.

Another element that threatens the evangelical church is the ongoing erosion of evangelical faith by the impact of liberal theology. Liberal theology saw its heyday in the nineteenth century and raised its head again with the neo-liberalism that captured the mainline churches of the twentieth century. Yet it is by no means dead. Perhaps the place where liberalism is manifesting itself most dangerously is within the walls of churches that have historically been strongly evangelical. David F. Wells describes the crisis of the twenty-first century church as “vacuous worship.” A vacuous worship is one that is empty of content. It is satisfied with platitudes, pop psychology, and entertainment. Such worship is devoid of the Word of God and of the authentic sacrifice of praise.

Dr. James Montgomery Boice, before his death, lamented his concern that the church was being enticed “to do the Lord’s work in the world’s way.” We try to transfer principles of success drawn from Madison Avenue and from other secular institutions and imitate them in the life of the church. Such a process is deadly.

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We have to pray with our eyes on God, not on the difficulties. 

~Oswald Chambers

By William Wilberforce (1759 – 1833)

William Wilberforce, the great English social reformer, understood the social benefits of religious faith. His convictions motivated his (eventually successful) campaign to ban the slave trade. In this extract, he argues that the Church is more than simply moral leaven. On the contrary, God rescues nations where the Church repents and prays.

Let true Christians pray continually for their country in this season of national difficulty. We bear upon us but too plainly the marks of a declining empire. Who can say but that the Governor of the universe, who declares Himself to be a God who hears the prayers of his servants may, in answer to their intercessions, for a while avert our ruin and continue [to extend] to us the fullness of those temporal blessings which in such abundant measure we have hitherto enjoyed . .

[I]t would be an instance in myself of that very false shame which I have condemned in others if I were not to boldly avow my firm persuasion that to the decline of religion and morality our national difficulties must both directly and indirectly be chiefly ascribed; and that my only solid hopes for the well-being of my country depend not so much on her fleets and armies, not so much on the wisdom of her rulers, or the courage of her people, as on the persuasion that she still contains many who, in a degenerate age, love and obey the Gospel of Christ, and on the humble trust that the intercession of these may still prevail and that for the sake of these, heaven may still look upon us with an eye of favor.1

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Footnotes:
1 William Wilberforce, A Practical View of . . . Real Christianity, in English Spirituality in the Time of Wesley (1994; reprint, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1987), 516-517.

by Matt Smethurst

Where Did All These Calvinists Come From? avatar

Seven years ago this fall, a young journalist named Collin Hansen wrote a cover story for Christianity Today titled “Young, Restless, Reformed: Calvinism Is Making a Comeback—and Shaking Up the Church.” In it he remarked:

Partly institutional and partly anecdotal, [the evidence for the resurgence] is something a variety of church leaders observe. While the Emergent “conversation” gets a lot of press for its appeal to the young, the new Reformed movement may be a larger and more pervasive phenomenon.

Two years later, Hansen released his movement-defining book Young, Restless, Reformed: A Journalist’s Journey with the New Calvinists (Crossway, 2008). Traveling to destinations like the Passion conference in Atlanta, Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Southern Seminary in Louisville, and Mars Hill Church in Seattle, he sought to tell the stories of young people discovering Reformed theology. (Hansen, now editorial director for The Gospel Coalition, has since reflected on the book and the movement herehere, and here.)

One year earlier in 2007, Mark Dever proposed in a series of blog posts 10 factors that sparked this resurrection of Reformed theology among younger American evangelicals.

mark_dever4

Now six years later, the “young, restless, Reformed” movement has only grown. The fact you’re presently reading The Gospel Coalition blog, which didn’t exist as recently as 2009, offers additional evidence.

Last week, Dever dusted off his 2007 series and delivered it, with a few changes, as an hour-long lecture at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. “If there were so few self-conscious Calvinists in the 1950s,” the pastor-historian asks, “how did we get so many today?” In what follows I offer a taste of his non-exhaustive, roughly chronological attempt to answer that question—12 sources God has used to reinvigorate Reformed theology in this generation (timestamps included).

1. Charles Spurgeon (10:39)

Dever likens the 19th-century Baptist preacher to an underground aquifer “bringing the nutrients of early generations to those after him.” Surprisingly, though, the “aquifers who brought Spurgeon to us” were countless 20th-century pastors—many of them anti-Calvinists—who enthusiastically commended his sermons.

“If you keep being told to buy Spurgeon, eventually you’ll read Spurgeon,” Dever says. “And if you read Spurgeon, you’ll never be able to believe the charge that all Calvinists are hyper-Calvinists and cannot do evangelism or missions.” Indeed, the Prince of Preachers seemed about “as healthy and balanced as a Bible-believing Christian could be.” It’s an irony of history that many of the ministers who “now decry what young Calvinists believe are the ones who recommended Spurgeon to them.”

2. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (14:43)

Though lesser known in America than in Britain, “the Doctor” had a preaching ministry for more than 50 years that “shaped countless thousands of Christians” in the mid-20th century. “Even if many born in the 1970s and 1980s haven’t heard of Lloyd-Jones,” Dever remarks, “chances are their ministers have, and have been influenced by him. Both John Piper and Tim Keller have offered eloquent testimony to ‘the Doctor’s’ influence on their own preaching.”

A pastor of enormous influence, Lloyd-Jones was “the one man in 1940s, 1950s, 1960s British evangelicalism you had to deal with.” As Dever recounts, “No other figure in the middle of the 20th century so stood against the impoverished gospel evangelicals were preaching—and did it so insightfully, so biblically, so freshly, so regularly, so charitably—all without invoking a kind of narrow partisanship that wrongly divided the churches.”

3. The Banner of Truth Trust (23:03)

Have you ever read a Puritan book? Chances are you can thank Banner of Truth. In 1957 Iain Murray and others with a shared vision and budget began reprinting classic Puritan and Reformed titles. “No such editions from the English-speaking tradition had been popularly published for a century,” Dever explains.

Motivated by truth more than by sales, the Banner’s “assiduous work in publishing in the 1950s and 1960s and 1970s has clearly helped to bring forth a harvest in the 1980s and 1990s and still today.” The libraries of pastors today are filled with books written centuries earlier due in large part to this vital publishing ministry.

4. Evangelism Explosion (27:15)

The charge that “Calvinism kills missions and evangelism” has long been leveled against Reformed theology. Therefore, Dever believes, an “unlikely aide” to the Reformed cause—and probably least expected of all his sources—was the widespread popularity and apparent success of Evangelism Explosion. Created by a Reformed pastor (D. James Kennedy) and promoted through a Reformed church (Coral Ridge Presbyterian) beginning in 1962, this evangelism program became a “quiet but telling piece of counter-evidence against the stereotype of Calvinism killing evangelism.”

5. The inerrancy controversy (34:08)

By the mid-1970s, American evangelicalism’s “battle for the Bible” had reached its boiling point. Touching several denominations including the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod and the Southern Baptist Convention, this controversy gave prominence to several Reformed theologians (e.g., J. I. Packer, R. C. Sproul, Carl F. H. Henry, James Montgomery Boice, Roger Nicole) and reintroduced the Old Princeton divines (e.g., Charles and Andrew Hodge, B. B. Warfield, J. Gresham Machen) to a new generation.

Not only did the debate get people talking about theology, but the “very shape of the arguments used to promote inerrancy” exemplified the Reformed view of divine sovereignty and human responsibility. (Was Romans written by God’s absolute sovereignty or by Paul’s willing choice? Yes. Were you saved by God’s absolute sovereignty or by your willing choice? Yes. You get the idea.)

6. Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) (37:50)

Born out of theological controversy in 1973, this denomination’s official doctrinal standard is a revision of the Westminster Confession of Faith—a document “so associated with the history of Calvinism,” Dever suggests, “it could almost be said to define it in the English-speaking world.”

“By the late 1990s,” he recalls, you could virtually assume the “most seriously Bible-preaching and evangelistic congregations near major university campuses would not be Bible churches or Baptist churches, but PCA congregations.” From the success of various seminaries to the influence of Reformed University Fellowship (RUF) on campuses to Tim Keller’s ministry in New York City, it’s clear the “organizing and growth” of the PCA has been a major contributing factor to the Reformed resurgence.

7. J. I. Packer (40:50)

First published in 1973, this Anglican evangelical’s landmark book Knowing God has been read by hundreds of thousands of Christians. In fact, Dever surmises, it’s probably “the most substantial book of theology” many American Christians have ever read. The “current grandfather of this Reformed movement,” Packer’s voluminous body of work over the past 60 years has made him one of the “clearest and most popular theological tutors of Christians who grew up in the evangelicalism of the 1980s and 1990s.”

8. John MacArthur and R. C. Sproul (43:52)

Thanks in part to the advent of new technologies like cassette tapes, radio broadcast, CDs, and digital audio files, the teaching ministries of these two men have enjoyed remarkably far-reaching effect for more than four decades. “Their conferences are attended by thousands; their books are legion; their characters are, by God’s grace, unquestioned,” Dever states. “More steady than spectacular, more quiet and consistent than sudden and electrifying,” the manner of their labor smells of Wesley more than Whitefield. Thousands of contemporary Calvinists cut their theological teeth on the teachings of Sproul and MacArthur and their respective ministries, Ligonier and Grace to You.

9. John Piper (46:41)

“This is the one you’re all waiting for,” Dever quips. Though he hesitates to say so given the stature of the foregoing sources, Piper is probably “the single most potent factor in this recent rise of Reformed theology.” Dever explains:

All the previous factors are part of the explanation, but they are part of the explanation for how the wave became so deep, so large, so overwhelming—all preparing the ground, shifting the discourse, preparing the men who would be leaders in this latest resurgence. But it has been John who is the swelling wave hitting the coast. It is John who is the visible expression of these earlier men. He is the conduit through which many of them now find their work mediated to the rising generation.

Through Piper’s sermons, books, and appearances at conferences like Passion, his and Desiring God‘s role in the contemporary resurrection of Reformed theology can scarcely be overestimated.

10. Reformed rap (51:46)

The first time I met Dever, the stairs leading up to his study buzzed beneath my feet. Opening the door, I was startled to hear hip-hop music blaring through the speakers of an old boombox in the corner. “Hi, I’m Matt,” I shouted. I had no clue how Cambridge grads rolled.

Christian hip hop has provided a unique soundtrack for the new Calvinist movement. Reflecting on the formative rise of The Cross Movement in the mid-1990s, Dever insightfully observes how an aggressive focus on the glory of God makes sense as a response to secular rap’s aggressive focus on the glory of man.

After highlighting the influence of Lamp Mode (e.g., Shai Linne, Timothy Brindle, Stephen the Levite, Json), Reach Records (e.g., Lecrae, Trip Lee, Tedashii, KB, Andy Mineo, Derek Minor), Humble Beast (e.g., Propaganda, Braille, Beautiful Eulogy), and others (e.g., Flame), Dever remarks:

There are groups of young people all over the place, in less-than-healthy churches, who are being taught and equipped theologically by these artists. Even our intern program has served our church in ways we never intended. Shai Linne, Trip Lee, Brian Davis [God’s Servant], and others have given our congregation a much closer look at and acquaintance with this part of the Reformed resurgence.

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Peter Sarkis expressed the importance of the weekly prayer meeting in the following statement:

“We want to encourage every one of you to attend the Prayer Meetings, not out of duty, or grudgingly, or out of necessity, but willingly. A prayerless church is a dead church. Don’t you have any needs, burdens, or loved ones who need to be saved? Then come to the Prayer Meetings?”

by Bob Hostetler

DesperatePastor.com

Date Published: 10/22/2013

If you’re not in the habit of praying before you preach, here’s a good place to start.
Dear Lord, you have sent me into this world to preach your word. So often the problems of the world seem so complex and intricate that your word strikes me as embarrassingly simple. Many times I feel tongue-tied in the company of people who are dealing with the world’s social and economic problems.

But you, O Lord, said, “Be clever as serpents and innocent as doves.” Let me retain innocence and simplicity in the midst of this complex world. I realize that I have to be informed, that I have to study the many aspects of the problems facing the world, and that I have to try to understand as well as possible the dynamics of contemporary society.

But what really counts is that all this information, knowledge and insight allow me to speak more clearly and unambiguously your truthful word.

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Devotional for October 20

Prayer’s First Priority

John Piper

Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.” (Matthew 6:9)

In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus teaches that the first priority in praying is to ask that our heavenly Father’s name be hallowed.

Notice that this is a petition or a request. It is not a declaration (as I thought it was for years). It is a request to God that he would see to it that his own name be hallowed.

It is like another text, Matthew 9:38, where Jesus tells us to pray to the Lord of the harvest that he would send out laborers into his own harvest. It never ceases to amaze me that we, the laborers, should be instructed to ask the owner of the farm, who knows the harvest better than we do, to add on more farm hands.

But isn’t this the same thing we have here in the Lord’s Prayer — Jesus telling us to ask God, who is infinitely jealous for the honor of his own name, to see to it that his name be hallowed?

Well it may amaze us, but there it is. And it teaches us two things.

  1. One is that prayer does not move God to do things he is disinclined to do. He has every intention to cause his name to be hallowed. Nothing is higher on God’s priority list.
  2. The other is that prayer is God’s way of bringing our priorities into line with his. God wills to make great things the consequence of our prayers when our prayers are the consequence of his great purposes.

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