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I belong to a liturgical church. We divide each year into liturgical seasons. This week we spend three days in transition from the season of Lent into the season of Easter.
Today, the first of those three days, is called Maundy Thursday. Even people who know it is called Maundy Thursday do not necessarily know what that means. The word “Maundy” comes from the same roots as the words “mandatory” or “mandate.” Today is Maundy Thursday because we celebrate one of the great mandates of our tradition.
Our understanding of Maundy Thursday comes from the meal many people know as the Last Supper. It grows from the roots of Christianity planted in the Jewish community.
Before observing their Seder meal, Jesus washed the feet of the disciples. This was a demonstration of servant leadership. Everyone was worthy to be served. No one was left out. This act of servant leadership, an expression of love, gives us an example to follow. We remember, and we practice following that example.
We are real people. We do not always behave as well as we like, and sometimes we outright fail. Today we remember, we reflect, and we begin again. Even if we have failed every day all year, or longer, we start again today.
In An Humble Attempt, Edwards argued for all believers to engage in monthly “concerts of prayer” for worldwide revival and the conversion of the unreached peoples of the earth. As a postmillennialist, Edwards believed the salvation of the nations was one of the final signs that the millennium would soon begin. His prayer was that the transatlantic revivals that had occurred off and on for a generation would “go viral” and cover the entire earth.
Though its topic was inspiring, An Humble Attempt was not very influential during Edwards’s lifetime. It did not sell as many copies as The Diary of David Brainerd, did not influence theologians like Freedom of the Will, and did not define authentic spiritual experience like Religious Affections. Nevertheless, some scholars argue that Edwards could be considered the “grandfather” of the modern missions movement among English-speaking evangelicals because of how the Lord used An Humble Attempt in the generation following Edwards’s death.
The Missionary Awakening
In 1784, an English Particular Baptist pastor named John Sutcliff received a box of books from a pastor friend in Scotland. Included among the books was a copy of An Humble Attempt. After reading the book, Sutcliff began to circulate An Humble Attempt among his fellow Baptist pastors. Inspired by Edwards, Sutcliff and his friends issued a call for the pastors of the Northamptonshire Baptist Association to set apart the first Monday evening of every month for prayer for the heathen and the coming kingdom. The concerts of prayer became popular among the younger pastors in the association and continued well into the 1790s. Sutcliff eventually published a British edition of An Humble Attempt in 1789 and wrote an introduction to the treatise.
When the Evangelical Awakening began in Britain in the 1730s, few Nonconformists were vital participants. Most of the “Methodists” were revived believers in the Church of England who were influenced by the Wesley brothers, George Whitfield, or a host of less-famous preachers in England and Wales. Calvinistic Dissenters such as the Particular Baptists were often skittish about the Evangelical Awakening due to a variety of reasons such as class differences between Nonconformists and Anglicans, concerns about the Arminian theology of the Wesleys, and the deadening influence of High Calvinism, especially among London Particular Baptists. It was not until the next generation when revival finally came to British Nonconformists in the form of what I call the Missionary Awakening.
Several of the pastors who answered Sutcliff’s prayer call became early leaders in the Missionary Awakening. Robert Hall Sr. and Andrew Fuller wrote influential treatises against High Calvinism and argued for an evangelical view of Calvinism influenced by Jonathan Edwards. John Ryland Jr. became the principle of Bristol Baptist Academy; many of Ryland’s students became strong supporters of missionary advance. Most famously, William Carey authored his influential treatise An Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians to Use Means for the Conversion of the Heathens, wherein he argued that the Great Commission is a binding command on every Christian in every generation. In 1792, these men formed the Baptist Missionary Society (BMS). Fuller served as secretary of the BMS for over twenty years and Carey became its most famous missionary.
The Spreading Flame
From this small missions-minded “band of brothers,” the Missionary Awakening spread to other believers. Over the next decade or so, most of the Particular Baptists who had been influenced by High Calvinism rejected these views and owned the Great Commission as their own. The missions-minded Edwardsean Calvinism of Fuller and Carey became commonplace among most Particular Baptists. The Arminian Baptists also got in on the action. The recently revived General Baptists, led by the Baptist Wesleyan (!) Dan Taylor, formed their own mission society in 1816.
The Missionary Awakening also spread beyond the Baptist fold. In 1795, missions-minded Anglicans and Nonconformists formed the non-denominational London Missionary Society. Evangelical Anglicans associated with the famous “Clapham Sect” also formed the Church Missionary Society in 1799. Early leaders in the CMS included John Newton, Charles Simeon, and William Wilberforce. The CMS version of William Carey was Henry Martyn, who, like Carey, also served as a missionary to India and inspired many others to become missionaries.
By the early 1800s, the Missionary Awakening had crossed the Atlantic. Between 1800 and 1810, numerous local missionary societies were formed in the Northeast; many of these societies either supported the various British mission societies or focused on evangelizing Native Americans. In 1810, Congregationalists in New England formed a foreign mission society, followed by the Baptists in 1814. Adoniram Judson, the Congregationalist-turned-Baptist, was the central figure in the formation of each of these mission societies. In 1820, American Methodists established the Methodist Episcopal Church Missionary Society.
It Could Happen Again
Those who followed Jonathan Edwards advanced his original vision for prayer, spiritual awakening, and missionary advance. Between 1780 and 1820, entire denominations experienced revival, sound doctrine overcame soul-deadening error, numerous new benevolent ministries were launched (I have only referenced the mission societies), and English-speaking evangelicals became passionate about fulfilling the Great Commission. It could happen again.
Knowing how God has worked in the past can help us ask some key questions of ourselves in the present. Are we praying for revival in our own spiritual lives? Are we praying for the salvation of the nations? Are our churches setting aside a specific time for focused — even extraordinary — prayer for a global awakening through the advance of the gospel? Do we long for the Lord to move among us as he moved among those who came before us?
Like Edwards and his spiritual children, we should pray for global revival through the worldwide advance of the gospel.
I am deeply saddened by the President’s praise of abortion. 55 million abortions is a Holocaust. We face implosion.
January 22, 2014
UPDATED: Since 1973, Americans have had more than 55 million abortions. Unless we change course, the number will soon be 60 million.
Consider the horror of that fact. We as a nation will soon have murdered ten timesmore Americans than the number of Jews that the Nazis killed during the Holocaust.
How is this possible? How have we come to this point? The murder of 55 million human beings is a Holocaust.
We must call it what it is. We must be honest with the facts, and the implications.
This must stop. We must stop it, before it is too late — before we face implosion, or judgment, or both.
What do we think we come of all this? Will we not face the judgment of the Almighty God, unless we cry out in true repentance to the Lord? Did we not see the judgment that came upon Germany in World War II, the devastation and destruction? Do we expect to suffer less when our sins are ten times worse?
I am deeply saddened today by President Obama’s statement praising the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision of 1973 legalizing abortion.
“Today, as we reflect on the 41st anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, we recommit ourselves to the decision’s guiding principle: that every woman should be able to make her own choices about her body and her health,” the President stated. “We reaffirm our steadfast commitment to protecting a woman’s access to safe, affordable health care and her constitutional right to privacy, including the right to reproductive freedom. And we resolve to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies, support maternal and child health, and continue to build safe and healthy communities for all our children. Because this is a country where everyone deserves the same freedom and opportunities to fulfill their dreams.”
Mr. President, how is abortion-on-demand a “safe and healthy community for all our children”?
by JOE CARTER
The Story: Last week at the Texas Capitol, pro-abortion protesters shouted, “Hail Satan!” in an attempt to drown out pro-lifers’ rendition of “Amazing Grace.” But on Twitter the United Kingdom’s Church of Satan said it was “Unfortunate to see Satan’s name used in such a diabolical manner.”
The Background: Texas blogger Adam Cahm, who recorded the video below, says, “For the record: They’ve been doing this all day, this is just the first time we caught it on video.”
After the story broke, the UK Church of Satan tweeted
Unfortunate to see Satan’s name used in such a diabolical manner. Another example of what ‘Satanism’ doesn’t represent. #HailSatan
— UK Church of Satan (@UKChurchofSatan) July 3, 2013
They later added:
Why wouldn’t Satanism be pro-life? What else is there? We are all free to make choices. Agreeable or not. Everyone is entitled to choice.
What It Means: It’s doubtful either the abortion supporters chanting “Hail Satan!” or the Satanists denouncing them believe in the reality of the Evil One. They think the abortion issues is about them, and their choices. But they’re wrong: abortion is about God.
As John Piper has explained, the ultimate evil of abortion is not that it kills children or that it damages women—which it does. “The ultimate evil,” he said, “is that it assaults and demeans God.” But that, he says, “is what the gospel of Jesus Christ is about. How God planned and brought about a plan to forgive people who have committed the ultimate outrage of discounting his glory and treating it as less valuable than their own private preferences.”
Piper continues by stating that leaving God out of the picture trivializes abortion.
Today, I took a vacation day and drove two and half hours from Omaha NE to Dannebrog NE (Where I was a pastor from 1985 to 1993) to fish with a dear friend, Dan. He was saved one Sunday when I gave an invitation during a Sunday morning sermon to repent and turn to Jesus for salvation. Dan has followed Jesus ever since!
The fishing was awesome! I am sunburn!
The fellowship was better!
Dan told me that recently he was praying and he ended up praying an hour on his knees!
That is how revival comes!
May we all spend much, much time on our knees in prayer!
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama called Jason Collins on Monday to express his gratitude after the NBA playerpublicly announced that he is gay, two sources familiar with the call told The Huffington Post.
A White House official confirmed the call, saying that the president wanted to “express his support” and tell Collins that “he was impressed by his courage.”
The conversation took place several hours after Sports Illustrated published an essay by Collins in which he came out and explained why he had waited until now to make the announcement.
Let us continue to pray for the church, our nation and our President.
We Hate to Say We Told You So”’
In a scene from Jurassic Park, Ian Malcolm, the mathematician skeptical about whether the park is a good idea, watches the T-Rex burst out of its enclosure and says, “I hate being right all the time.”
Princeton Professor Robert George and other defenders of traditional marriage understand these sentiments. For years, they’ve warned that redefining marriage beyond the union of one man and one woman wouldn’t—indeed couldn’t—stop with same-sex unions. The same reasoning that extends marriage to same-sex couples would easily be applied to polygamy and polyamory also.
The standard response to these concerns was scoffing and accusations of fear mongering.
Well, the fences are down and the beast is loose.
On Valentines’s Day, the Scientific American published an article claiming that polyamorists could “teach us a thing or two about love,” and the only reason to oppose it was bigotry because of outdated views about love and sexuality. As I said on my Point commentary about the article, the flow of the argument sounded far too familiar.
And now, as if on cue, Slate magazine published an article on April 15 by Jillian Keenan arguing that polygamy should be legalized. As Keenan notes, the arguments about gay marriage being a “slippery slope” that will lead to legalized polygamy is something “we’ve been hearing about for years.” To which she adds, “We can only hope.”
She continues: “While the Supreme Court and the rest of us are all focused on the human right of marriage equality, let’s not forget that the fight doesn’t end with same-sex marriage. We need to legalize polygamy, too. Legalized polygamy in the United States is the constitutional, feminist, and sex-positive choice.”
Keenan adds that legalizing polygamy would help to “protect, empower, and strengthen women, children, and families.” How? By ending the “isolation” where “crime and abuse can flourish unimpeded.” That is, if polygamy is legal, she says, victims of abuse would be more likely to report abuses to the authorities.
Finally, she argues that respect for religious freedom requires legalizing polygamy. It isn’t only fundamentalist Mormons she’s concerned about: she cites “academics” who “suggest” that there may be between 50 and 100,000 Muslims in the U.S. who practice polygamy.
What’s most significant here isn’t the quality of Keenan’s arguments. The quality is poor. The treatment of women in countries where polygamy is legal makes her optimism about the impact of legalizing it seem dangerously naive. And her appeal to religious freedom is—shall we say—selective. There are plenty of law-abiding Americans whose religious freedom is under genuine threat who could benefit from this kind of solicitude.
No, the most significant thing about Keenan’s argument is not, to paraphrase Samuel Johnson, that it’s made well, but that it’s made openly.
As Dr. George pointed out in “First Things,” when Christians pointed out the logical link between same-sex marriage and polygamy, proponents of same-sex marriage rejected the connection. They insisted that “no one is arguing for the legal recognition of polygamous or polyamorous relationships as marriages!”
I am saddened by the news today of the death of Matthew Warren, son of my friends Rick and Kay Warren. Many of us, both inside the church and outside, have been praying for Matthew for several years, so this is a sad moment for the Warrens and many others.
Rick sent the following email to his staff at Saddleback, and it was published online by Charisma Magazine:
Over the past 33 years we’ve been together through every kind of crisis. Kay and I’ve been privileged to hold your hands as you faced a crisis or loss, stand with you at gravesides, and prayed for you when ill. Today, we need your prayer for us.
No words can express the anguished grief we feel right now. Our youngest son, Matthew, age 27, and a lifelong member of Saddleback, died today.
You who watched Matthew grow up knew he was an incredibly kind, gentle, and compassionate man. He had a brilliant intellect and a gift for sensing who was most in pain or most uncomfortable in a room. He’d then make a beeline to that person to engage and encourage them.
But only those closest knew that he struggled from birth with mental illness, dark holes of depression, and even suicidal thoughts. In spite of America’s best doctors, meds, counselors, and prayers for healing, the torture of mental illness never subsided. Today, after a fun evening together with Kay and me, in a momentary wave of despair at his home, he took his life.
Kay and I often marveled at his courage to keep moving in spite of relentless pain. I’ll never forget how, many years ago, after another approach had failed to give relief, Matthew said, “Dad, I know I’m going to heaven. Why can’t I just die and end this pain?” but he kept going for another decade.
Israel’s weary wanderings were all over, and the promised rest was attained. No more moving tents, fiery serpents, fierce Amalekites, and howling wildernesses: they came to the land which flowed with milk and honey, and they ate the old corn of the land. Perhaps this year, beloved Christian reader, this may be thy case or mine. Joyful is the prospect, and if faith be in active exercise, it will yield unalloyed delight. To be with Jesus in the rest which remaineth for the people of God, is a cheering hope indeed, and to expect this glory so soon is a double bliss. Unbelief shudders at the Jordan which still rolls between us and the goodly land, but let us rest assured that we have already experienced more ills than death at its worst can cause us. Let us banish every fearful thought, and rejoice with exceeding great joy, in the prospect that this year we shall begin to be “for ever with the Lord.”
A part of the host will this year tarry on earth, to do service for their Lord. If this should fall to our lot, there is no reason why the New Year’s text should not still be true. “We who have believed do enter into rest.” The Holy Spirit is the earnest of our inheritance; he gives us “glory begun below.” In heaven they are secure, and so are we preserve in Christ Jesus; there they triumph over their enemies, and we have victories too. Celestial spirits enjoy communion with their Lord, and this is not denied to us; they rest in his love, and we have perfect peace in him: they hymn his praise, and it is our privilege to bless him too. We will this year gather celestial fruits on earthly ground, where faith and hope have made the desert like the garden of the Lord. Man did eat angels’ food of old, and why not now? O for grace to feed on Jesus, and so to eat of the fruit of the land of Canaan this year!