For Church and Family (010) Prayer

In this post I encourage parents to set an example of the significance of prayer in the corporate gatherings. This is a moment to set all things aside here and listen closely and to pray.

Tips for Church and Family

  • Parents:
    • Teach this at home.
    • Create an expected pattern at home that before meals this family prays.
    • Teach your children that at the church house on the Lord’s Day, we will spend some of that time praying together with our church family. Teach them that this is a gathering of families that pray together.
    • Instruct them at home to be prepared to stop what they are doing and join together in prayer.
  • Church:
    • Prayer time is not the time to gather up all of your belonging to prepare to leave. Little eyes will pick up on this quickly and will check out.
    • Prayer time is not the moment to leave the room.
    • Prayer time is significant, treat it as such.

Decay of Nations

I began preaching through Isaiah several weeks ago and am very thankful to God for these strong warnings. As one looks and listens to Isaiah warn the nation of Israel it is not missed why they were judged by God so harshly as they ignored God and His preacher.

I began preaching chapter three last Lord’s Day. Here, Isaiah informs the nation of what it will look like as the decay of the nation is in full effect. There are many things along the way that lead to this but Isaiah makes it very clear what the last days of the nation that rebels against God looks like. All nations should look closely at this. All Churches should pay close attention to this. Every family should stop and look into these words. Every professing believer should examine his life closely against the plumb line of holy Scripture.

Here is a general look at the entire chapter three. (Based on Isaiah 3:1-12)

  • There will be a removal of the great and mighty men. One of the first marks of decay is not a falling away of great men, but a removal of them. There will be a noticeable shortage in the land of wise, prudent, disciplined, discerning, honorable, skilled men of honor and valor.
  • The shortage of men of honor and valor will be replaced with incompetent, undisciplined, dishonorable,  and childish desires will seize them to attract selfish attention upon themselves and prolong childhood by delaying manhood.
  • There will be a rise of weak willed, moody, rude, arrogant, disrespectful, children who will demand from and oppress the elders. Many cities will notice a shortage of reliable and discerning leaders. Churches will water down the criteria for biblical leadership in light of this great shortage. Children will rule their homes with demanding behaviors that parents will give in to for fear of tyrannical tantrum raging children.
  • A generation or two of this without widespread correction of course will only intensify selfishness among society at large.
  • Disrespect for elders becomes the norm of the day. Where there is a lack of biblical social order in the home, in the church, and in the society, anarchy becomes a path most desired and appears appealing to the majority. This kind of chaos replaces peace with widespread unrest.

It is necessary for this progression to happen for a total collapse of a nation. If foolishness attempted to overthrow a nation ruled by men of valor and godly honor it would be thwarted with ease and a corrective course would happen quickly.

The family must recover. Husbands must pray that God would grant them courage and pray that God would give mercy to their wives. Fathers must instruct the children and mothers must gather and nurture the children. Parents must co-labor in this God ordained duty.

Where are you family?

The church must come out of her slumber. Pastors must lead, deacons must serve, congregations must secure the preaching post with heralders of truth. She must advance this gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ without any mixture of the philosophies of men or fallen angels.

Where are you church?

Where the family and church was once the birthplace and training ground that society looked to for principles of justice and good will, the majority are now petri-dishes of undisciplined selfish little boys and girls who demand others give them what they want while redefining and rebuilding a society that more impoverishes and distresses  with the markings or the Judges of what it’s like when everyone does what is right in their own eyes and hates that which is true and just.

Arise Church! to your duty! The day demands it! Our Lord commands us!

Go into this day and advance this Gospel, now!

 

Hypothetically Speaking…

-hypothetically-

Let’s just say, The church has cancelled all corporate prayer gatherings indefinitely where the time is devoted to the Christian discipline of prayer.

What happens next at your church?

  1. Someone in the church inquires why.
  2. After inquiring, it is reinstated immediately.
  3. The first thing that happens in that prayer gathering is that the church repents of abandoning the discipline of prayer

Or – Worst case scenario:

  1. No one notices
  2. No one cares
  3. Life goes on as usual
  4. Everyone shows up next week for the pancake fundraiser to send the students to the amusement park and no one says a word about why there is no gatherings for prayer any longer.

Maybe this is not so hypothetical.

 

What if the House of Prayer was Empty?

There are unmistakable biblical markers of what a New Testament church should be doing when they gather together. There are sure things that ought to cause a New Testament church to gather together. (1) Preaching, (2) Singing, (3) Caring for each other (especially for widows and orphans in distress), (4) Baptizing converts, (5) Eating, (6) Proclaiming the Lord’s death, and (7) Praying.

The faithful church is sure to want to keep true in all of her duties. But, as warned by the Apostles, certain individuals have crept in and have been successful at times to redirect the efforts of the church in other ways.

It makes since when you think about it.

  • The enemy of God knows the power of preaching Scripture. Because of the power of the word of God, the enemy of God wants preachers to preach anything and everything but truth.
  • The enemy of God knows that God has created men to sing. Singing is ordained of God for corporate proclamations and declarations of God and to God. If the enemy of God can get men to love songs more than they love God then the corporate proclamations and declarations are at risk of being of another god altogether and men won’t care because they love the music.
  • The enemy of God knows what true religion looks like. The bible is clear on this matter. Because the enemy of God hates true religion he will want to divert the resources of God’s people away from the care of orphans and widows in distress. He’ll put attractive and popular ministries in front of them and persuade us to direct most of our resources upon ourselves, satisfying that selfish craving of the old man.
  • The enemy of God loves to confuse people about their salvation. Salvation is a work of the grace of God not the works of men. But take the ordinances of God and make them something that looks like conversion and makes many think the church is growing and men will brag about how many are being baptized and have access to the Lord’s table and forget altogether about the spiritual birth of a new man and we no longer know what or how salvation is even given to the sons of men.
  • The enemy of God knows that God calls His peculiar people to gather at the house of prayer for prayer. Because he knows this, it makes sense that he would be pleased to make God’s people more in love with activities that make us too busy to pray together. It’s been said by many before, that if the enemy can’t reclaim you from the power of the blood of Christ then he’ll be pleased to make you busy. It appears that many professing believers in the land are either false professors or are very busy.

If any church in any given community were to announce this coming Lord’s Day that it will no longer hold corporate prayer meetings many professing Christians could care less. They may even wish the church would do so so they don’t have to feel guilt about not attending and praying together. But that’s not really the point of my observation here; many churches have practically closed the prayer gathering by filling up the church calendar with so much activity that many churches have practically no corporate prayer times anymore.

What would any community look like if there was not a praying people praying on behalf of the community at large? Why would a professing follower of God not want to obey His Lord and gather for prayer? If professing followers of God are either too busy or just generally not interested in this commanded duty of our Lord, what has their attention that they are willing to set this command aside and disobey God willfully. What god are many churches following if they are willing to willfully disobey their professed Lord?

Here’s what happens to many across the land…

  • Your favorite T.V. program will be moved to Wednesday night.
  • Your boss will reschedule you to work on Sunday’s and prayer meeting night.
  • Your school will schedule important events on these nights.
  • Your children will complain about the prayer time as boring. (because you agree you will concede.)
  • More people will come to an active program if you provide an option. Look at most churches that offer multiple things at the same time as the prayer meeting, the other activities will outpace the attendance of the prayer meeting and will eventually need everyone in the prayer meeting to help with crowd control for the “attractive” activities.

The community God has planted His church in should be  (1) Preaching, (2) Singing, (3) Caring for each other (especially for widows and orphans in distress), (4) Baptizing converts, (5) Eating, (6) Proclaiming the Lord’s death, and (7) Praying. Yet, in many communities across the land, churches are going another way. A way that transplants a powerful church in a community with a powerless not-a-church.

What then should we do?

Repent of our willful distractions and gather with the Lord’s people to pray. Church, this church gathers every Wednesday night for prayer at 6:30 p.m. we don’t provide any other distractions or attractions to capture our attention. It is a quite simple gathering. We read Scripture and we pray. The church described to us by the the work of the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts met at specific places and specific times on specific days to pray.

Prayer isn’t just something we start and close a meeting with, it’s something we should gather to do!

Church, arise! To you post! To your duty! To your God! Don’t let your community have a prayer-less church filled with prayer-less professors of Christ’s Lordship.

Effective Ways to Reach Youth and Young Adults

First, realize that the title of my post today is with my tongue in my cheek, sort of speak. I’m not employing the title to attract readers.

When I’m away for a stretch of time I like to take a moment and catch up on my regular reading circuit of newsletters I subscribe to and bloggers I regularly read. I’ve just finished getting caught up on a few of those, most were deleted or flagged to read later.

Of note, there seemed to be an uptick of posts and columns that were addressing the most effective ways of reaching youth and/or young adults. Not just the random writer or publishing house trying to get readers from desperate pastors or leaders in churches that are facing pressure to increase the bottom line of attendance (which means the bottom line for funds), but there seemed to be several from what I would call are otherwise trustworthy sources and noteworthy authors. I decided to read a few of them to see what’s being said about the attraction of youth and young adults. These articles and columns come from denominations, churches and even secular sources.

There were three things that caught my “attention.”

  • The clip art or stock photos for the articles seemed more flashy than normal and an increase in photos of young people with more tattoos, body piercings, and seductive type clothing and facial expressions. I first realize that I’m now looking at everything in life from a 50 year old’s lens (which now includes bifocals). I respect that I can’t require all of the advertising world to appeal to my likes. But I do find it interesting a shift that is or has happened in what is presented as “normal” for what a young person looks like who is serious about a relationship with God. It is a significant shift mind you. To my pastor friends, look at that publishing house flyer again and notice the kind and type of clothing the publishing house is using in their stock photos. Notice the increase of youth and young adults with tattoos, body piercings and most noticeably the style of clothing across the board. Who will hold the publishing house accountable for telling (showing) the church what is normal and acceptable. What is being passed off as a flyer to promote a resource may more be a fashion magazine of trending styles. Does anyone else notice this? or have I really become the old man.
  • The selling of products and services. I respect that things cost money and there must be a recovery of product costs and time that people devote to their labor. I don’t fault this on anyone. But the increase of what I would otherwise identify as para-church resources (resources for churches and pastors that are not from churches and pastors). There is a business to be had by that which was designed to assist the church that is largely now instructing the church in what and how to do her work. Agencies and “coaches” to help the church evaluate her effectiveness and determine how to more effectively reach people is no new thing, but the increase in churches and pastors turning to these seems to be trending like a bull market.
  • The content of the blog posts, articles, and columns are still ignoring the sufficiency of Scripture. A recent, well respected author, who has the ear of many people across denominational lines and seen by many as a “missional” expert recently wrote about effective ways to reach youth and young adults. Because I like to read what he has to say, I read his article. I was shocked to not find one of the nine suggestions to include anything about Scripture. (before I go further: I get that it may have been an implied starting place so I’m not suggesting we gather on the streets with torches lit on our way to the publishing house, but if we are going to be responsible in our day, we can’t assume that the sufficiency of Scripture is an implied starting place of most ministers.) His nine suggestions used every buzz word you might find at any recruitment office of any business in town looking to attract a new clientele. Words like “community”, “service”, “worship experience”, “technology”, “authenticity”, “transparency”, “team”, etc. Not one word about God, Truth, Scripture, prayer, suffering, considering the cost of following, obeying, self-discipline, sound doctrine, equipping of the saints, biblical evangelism, etc.

There was a great reformation that took place nearly 500 years ago that addressed many things that the modern church would do good to be reminded of. Where many of the things in the resources and articles are true they may not at the same time be truthful. Sure there are ways to effective gather a people together; but is that people a church?

If the church is to effectively reach anyone, not just the young, she must devote herself to God, His words, and His ways.

“Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord GOD,
“When I will send a famine on the land,
Not a famine for bread or a thirst for water,
But rather for hearing the words of the LORD.” (Amos 8:11)

Note to my preacher friends:
Don’t do what I’ve done in days of desperation because of pressure from men and employ worldly means, that may not be truthful, to attract a people. Rather, if there is any desperation, it is that if there is a famine coming from the current drought for hearing the words of the LORD that we are found successful in honoring God by feeding His people His words.

Mid-Week Prayer

Corporate prayer is a discipline instructed and expected by the early church.

This is a biblical truth.

Since it is true, why is it looked at by most in the Western church as an illness like the common flu. You feel bad for people who have (to do) it and you don’t want to be anywhere near it. A once beloved activity of the early church is avoided by most (pastors and church members) in the western church today.

Today, many professing followers of Christ know that corporate prayer should happen and better be happening but the average professor of Christ wants little to do with corporate prayer. Why? That’s a question I want to take up today and challenge you to reconsider your churches corporate prayer gathering.

First, is the discipline of corporate prayer treated with respect, and participation desired, among the saints? If not, why is it looked at and treated with little respect? Let’s be honest, helpfully honest. Corporate prayer is not treated as a sacred or holy activity of most professing Christians.

Corporate prayer is no forgotten discipline, it is an avoided discipline.

  • There are at least four primary reasons the corporate prayer gathering at the local church is treated with such low esteem?
    • First: I see a lack of importance on the part of pastors/elders. Over the decades there is so much emphasis given to other activities in church life that it is easier to gather children with high energy activity than to teach them the discipline of praying together as a church. It’s hard to argue with someone whose Wednesday night activity is flourishing with dozens and dozens of children and youth playing silly games. (No wonder the church has so few prayer warriors anymore.) We wouldn’t dare say that God is not attractive enough to keep our attention, but look and the kind of shenanigans many are willing to entertain in order to attract their people to attend. This has been true of me in years past and repented of as I strive to reform this activity biblically.
    • Second: Where corporate prayer is an expected discipline of faithful followers of Christ and many would look for a way to fire their pastor if he didn’t provide a corporate prayer time, most will intentionally avoid and excuse away why they won’t be gathering to pray with their church. They will spend that time at home watching T.V., YouTube videos of cute puppies, browsing websites, and some honest enough to simply excuse themselves from a “boring, fruitless activity”, a great misunderstanding of what corporate prayer is and would honestly just not be willing to work at something so difficult.
    • Third: Our children are great persuaders. When they complain about something being boring and too much for them in their busy schedules long enough they will eventually wear their parents down and win. Unknowingly, the parent is enabling the child’s flesh to win over the spirit.
    • Fourth: Well meaning yet misplaced emphasis during the corporate prayer time of any local church has been on praying for runny noses and intentionally gathering and spreading of gossip manure. This must stop. It does not please God to use this intimate time where the saints gather together to seek His face for sinful activity. It must stop and must be repented of.

Why is it that something of such biblical importance is treated and considered so lowly on the weekly agenda of so many professing Christians?

The Spirit is willing but the flesh is week. The professing follower of Christ knows that corporate prayer is important. The problem is not the Spirit, the problem is that the flesh is too week to do what can only be done in Christ. When we submit to the work of the flesh to attract people to do things of the Spirit, the flesh will eventually give up and grow weary because it is not able to accomplish this heavenly work.

Second, What can be done to correct the present trajectory of the corporate prayer gathering?

  • First: pastors/elders must lead the way. The neo-traditional way for some is so loved that some may threaten to stop attending all together if you lead in a way other than the way they so love that feeds their flesh. If there is any other activity offered while prayer is happening the other activity will seemingly prosper in comparison. I suggest you offer only prayer during the corporate prayer gathering. If Wednesday has too many other things happening that it would cause too much disruption then establish another day to do this.
  • Second: Don’t let any ongoing temporal event (there are reasonable times when schedules conflict) keep you from gathering together with your church to pray. If a temporary/recreational activity is keeping you away from the discipline of corporate prayer, consider how you can adjust. Most entertainment can be done with a recording or streaming. If you are too exhausted, you might try getting extra sleep at other times. If that’s during your meal time, consider replacing that time with prayer (the discipline of fasting) or adjusting your meal time (after all, we adjust meal times for a lot of other reasons).
  • Third: Discipleship is a discipline best taught by observation. If our children are seeing the corporate prayer time as too boring, what are they hearing from their parents and/or other adults? Superficial hype is as unhelpful as deliberate absence.
  • Fourth: Resist your fleshly craving to gather and disperse gossip. What is spoken of and prayed for in the corporate prayer gathering is not permission for you to gossip about with others. It is an intimate and vulnerable time when the saints pray together. Respect this of each other and pray for and with one another. Do not reduce a sacred duty with such unholy behavior.

Wednesday nights at 6:30 p.m. is the scheduled corporate prayer gathering of Eastside Baptist Church. We live in the kind for day that it is nearly impossible to not participate with each other in prayer. Because of technology we are able to pray together from all over the valley, and the world for that matter.

If because of distance, schedule or illness you are unable to attend in person, consider joining us via live streaming. Visit our mid-week prayer gathering online HERE. You will need a password. You can request the password from me. When you log in please communicate via email, text, or message that you are logged in so we can know who we are praying with. Join us tonight for this sacred moment to bring our petitions to God the Father.

 

 

 

Over the Weekend

This past weekend at the church house (Eastside Baptist Church) in Twin Falls, Idaho. Video and audio of all gathers are archived HERE.

Right now, there is a renewed interest in two primary gatherings of Eastside Baptist Church.

The Mid-week Prayer Gathering is a time devoted solely to corporate prayer. The past month several months have seen increased participation in person and online. As many as 25 people of all ages gathering together for prayer and an average of 4 households from out of town logging in online to pray (log-in for this is password protected, contact Paul Thompson for instruction and password).

The other gathering steadily growing is the Sunday evening gathering. For the past three weeks 9 men in the congregation are doing the teaching. Attendance has been in a steady increase as this progresses on. Before beginning the book of Ephesians an average of about 12 people would normally return on Sunday evening. Last night, we reached an all time high for a regular Sunday evening gathering of more than 50 people and 9 households logged in online from all over the region.

Lord’s Day Morning
Speaker: Paul Thompson
Text: Philippians 2:12-13
Sermon Title: Salvation; the Sweet Word

Lord’s Day Evening
Speaker: Chuck Kastl
Text: Ephesians 1:15-23
Sermon Title: Wisdom and Power

News Radio 1310

This morning I had an opportunity to be in the News Radio 1310 KLIX studio with local talk show host Bill Colley to talk about the First Amendment. Bill Colley is live Monday – Friday at 1310 KLIX. He has a wide variety of topics throughout the week that mostly feature local issues. The 41 minute conversation is available here.

Look for a call in from Andy Vawser at the 17 minute mark (thanks for calling in Andy.)

The conversation is a rather wide range of topics from the sufficiency of Scripture, First Amendment, Prayer, Church, etc…

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