Mark Dever and Jonathan Leeman of 9 Marks talk about why churches, and Christians, fail to engage in one of the most fundamental privileges and commands we have as Christians. Dever offers helpful guidelines and models in how churches can pray and keep them organized and focused on moving from immature prayer to mature prayer. This discussion is very helpful and practical for church leaders.
From the 9 Marks website:
This Sunday, a vast majority of evangelical churches will gather for singing and preaching and reading Scripture and perhaps even a few baptisms and the Lord’s Supper. There will also be some praying.
In comparison to everything else, though, there will be just a little bit of prayer—a transition as a few musicians scurry off-stage, a quick “thank-you” to God after collecting the offerings, a prayer for God’s Spirit to work on the hearers of the sermon.
All in all, you might pray for a few minutes, almost always as a passive observer.
That’s the norm, and, on the whole, the norm is shocking, abysmal, and embarrassing. When it comes to verses like Colossians 4:2—“continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving”—our present-day churches have mostly failed.
So, what should we do about it? To answer that question, consider this interview with Mark Dever and Jonathan Leeman, in which they seek to diagnose and then address this problem of prayerlessness. We hope and, well, pray that it encourages us all toward more faithful obedience.
The Failure of Churches to Pray >>>
In May the council members of The Gospel Coalition invited Mika Edmondson to help them think through the injustices raised by the Black Lives Matter movement. The message was important enough that they have shared the audio. Al Mohler was among the listeners and wrote a response to Mika’s message, which I’ve also included a link to.
In his address Mika relates the origins of the Black Lives Matter movement, offers a correction for how we should understand it, and then compares and contrasts it to the Civil Rights Movement. He then offers some needed admonishments, rebukes, and challenges to the Christian church.
“There are enough major differences to say Black Lives Matter is not an extension or rebirth of the Civil Rights Movement. Still, I strongly recommend full engagement with the concept and critical engagement with the movement, especially since there’s no evangelical alternative to Black Lives Matter. It grieves me deeply to say there’s no evangelical movement robustly, consistently, and practically affirming the value of disparaged black people. So we must be careful how we criticize Black Lives Matter in the absence of an evangelical alternative.” – Mika Edmondson
Mika Edmondson’s address >>>
Al Mohler’s response >>>
Dr. Richard Gaffin takes up Romans 8 in a short chapel message and applies it to prayer, encouraging us that though our prayers are faulty, we have two advocates praying on our behalf in the Son sitting at the right hand of God and in the Holy Spirit. The focus of these two advocates is not that they do anything to us in our praying, but that they come alongside of us in our weakness.
Jared Oliphant wrote an article about the impact Gaffins message had on him when he attended the chapel when Dr. Gaffin delivered this message.
Poverty of Prayer >>>
“False Prophets and True Prosperity: a biblical response and remedy to the Prosperity Gospel” is the title of the 2015 Rezolution conference featuring Conrade Mbewe, Steve Lawson and Phil Johnson. The conference was hosted in Johannesburg, South Africa.
From the website:
This year REZOLUTION tackles the biggest threat to the Church in Africa, ‘False Prophets and True Prosperity: a biblical response and remedy to the Prosperity Gospel’.
That we may be warned and equipped, REZ has called in three foremost watchmen,Conrad Mbewe, Phil Johnson and Steve Lawson to sound the alarm.
REZ has always been about rallying Christians together around great doctrines through great preaching and great singing.
The pinnacle of REZ is a Friday night and all day Saturday feast of rich exposition and passionate worship.
In the three-day build up to REZ we offer the following tailored to pastors, church leaders and all who want to dig deeper:
On Wednesday the 2nd of September our three keynote speakers address a Pastors Seminar surveying today’s spiritual landscape and minefields, arming us with biblical solutions.
On Thursday the 3rd and Friday the 4th Steve Lawson bring us his superb Institute for Expository Preaching, ‘Preaching with Precision and Power’.
Resolution 2015 Conference >>>
You may have seen the excerpt from a great sermon Matt Chandler gave on abortion. It’s “gone viral” on social media, and while the excerpt is very good, the parts that come before and after are just as good, including a gracious application of the gospel for those who have encouraged or had an abortion. Here’s the clip, and at bottom of post is a link to the full sermon.
Matt raises a siege of good argumentation, and undermines the most common pro-choice arguments and mantra’s such as “A woman’s right to choose” and the ever present smokescreen, “What about [enter rare, tragic situation]?” Matt rightly calls abortion “murder for convenience.”
As horrific a statement that is, Matt draws our attention to God’s grace in the gospel.
There is no sin with more power than the cross of Jesus Christ, not even the one we’re talking about today. If this had more power than the cross, we wouldn’t be talking about it. If this got to define you, we wouldn’t be talking about it. This doesn’t define you because Christ’s forgiveness will define you.
Matt situates us in history with this:
Okay, so let me do this. I don’t know if it’s going to happen, but it seems like because science is so on our side on this, it will only be a matter of time until Roe v. Wade has to be overturned. With that said, God has almost always accomplished social change through the outcry of his people who are against the world for the sake of the world. I think there are these defining moments of history that, as we look back on history, we kind of wish we could have been there. We wish we would have fought alongside, right?
Matt outlines 4 things we must now do to see Roe vs. Wade overturned.
- Repent of our indifference. “Abortion ends a life, so what do you want me to do about it?” That’s our indifference in action.
- Pray because this is no longer a rational issue, it’s a spiritual one. The science is clear that a human life is destroyed through abortion, but our opponents now turn a deaf ear to that. They don’t care.
- This issue should inform how we vote. Does that make us a single-issue voter? 54 million abortions since 1974 should make this an issue to single out.
- Get involved. Matt provides concrete ways we can work for the sanctity of life.
The Sanctity of Human Life >>>
MacArthur’s sermon from this past Sunday was a look at the continued moral deterioration of the United States fueled by the Supreme Court. In this message he talks about his perception of the nation’s situation before God and then directs his attention to 2 Thessalonians 1. In his introduction he said this:
The two greatest attacks of terror on America were perpetrated by the Supreme Court. Not by any Muslim, but by the Supreme Court of the United States. The first one was the legalizing of abortion. Subsequent to that, there have been millions of babies slaughtered in the wombs of their mothers. It’s incalculable to even comprehend that. The blood of those lives cries out from the ground for divine vengeance on this nation.
The second great act of terror perpetrated by the Supreme Court was the legalization of same-sex marriage. The destruction of human life in the womb—in a sense, the destruction of motherhood—and now the destruction of the family itself. No bomb, no explosion, no attack, and no assault on people physically can come anywhere near that kind of terrorism. Our country is being terrorized by the people most responsible to protect it—those who are to uphold the law.
Just a few comments beyond that. No human court has the authority to redefine morality. But this human court has said murder is not murder; and marriage is not marriage; and family is not family. They have usurped the authority that belongs only to God, who is the creator of life, marriage, and family.
We Will Not Bow >>>
I’ve been writing a long series of posts on the Glorious Films blog that I’ve titled The Musical That Changed the World. The posts are brief verse by verse studies of the four songs of the nativity, from Luke chapter 1 & 2.
The Musical That Changed the World >>>
You can also follow it at toddshaffer.com
Speaking at this years conference are Voddie Baucham, Sinclair Ferguson, Robert Godfrey, Steven Lawson, Albert Mohler, Stephen Nichols, R.C. Sproul Jr., R.C. Sproul, and Derek Thomas. These men consider some very difficult question as it relates to our contemporary culture. How are we to confront this present world? How do we live faithfully as godly remnant in such a world? How should we defend the faith? How do we stand up for and champion biblical ethics in a society that is hostile to our ethics?
From the website:
As has been true in every generation, the church today faces many challenges from the world. The intellectual and moral opposition that we face can seem overwhelming at times, which is why we need to remember that Christ has already overcome this opposition. By His life, death, and resurrection, our Savior has conquered our enemies, and by His Spirit He has granted us to share in the victory. The Lord, in His Spirit, comes alongside us to strengthen us for the battles we face. This strengthening occurs as we are grounded in His truth (John 17:17).
Ligonier is offering this years conference free for online viewing, it is also available for purchase.
Blog post of Highlights >>>
Overcoming the World >>>
How should church leaders deal with tough cases such as divorce, illegal immigration, and in vitro fertilization?
Mark Dever and Russell Moore discuss how these issues and more with John Onwuchekwa and Derrick Morgan.
How to Handle Ethical Hard Cases >>>
Don Carson and Bob Yarborough were the guest speakers at the 2012 EFCA Theology Conference, and they tackled the very incendiary subject of gender.
Matt Smethurst writes on The Gospel Coalition website:
Our Lord and his inspired apostles were culturally situated, yes, but they weren’t culturally bound. Many assume that cultural rootedness automatically amounts to cultural relativity; the two, however, are simply not the same.
Followers of King Jesus must remain finally tethered “not to a political conviction or to social habit or to hermeneutical whimsy, but to divine mandate.” And for those who embrace the King’s word as their supreme authority, the divine mandate is clear. In these talks, Carson and Yarbrough have offered careful reflection on a contentious and critical issue.
The TGC site links are not working as of October 2014. Perhaps they will be corrected at some point.
Understanding Complementarianism >>>
A secondary site to find the audio links is at the Caffeinated Thoughts blog >>>