Excellent article on Prayer & Fasting (Justin Taylor / John Piper)

July 15, 2015

I tweeted about this earlier today, but think this is a really important article, deserving of a blog post.   In the wake of the brutally horrifying video exposé of Planned Parenthood’s butchery of babies to sell their body parts, Justin Taylor at the Gospel Coalition has posted a great call to prayer & fasting, reminding us of the role of spiritual warfare in the face of such evil.  There are battles in our culture that we cannot win by logical argument or legislative effort.  The battle against the evil of abortion may well be one of them.

His article largely draws upon writings from John Piper’s great (must read!) book A Hunger for God.

 

“Fasting,” Piper writes, “comes in alongside prayer with all its hunger for God and says,

We are not able in ourselves to win this battle.

We are not able to change hearts or minds.

We are not able to change worldviews and transform culture and save 1.6 million children.

We are not able to reform the judiciary or embolden the legislature or mobilize the slumbering population.

We are not able to heal the endless wounds of godless ideologies and their bloody deeds.

But, O God, you are able!

And we turn from reliance on ourselves to you.

And we cry out to you and plead that for the sake of your name, and for the sake of your glory, and for the advancement of your saving purpose in the world, and for the demonstration of your wisdom and your power and your authority over all things, and for the sway of your Truth and the relief of the poor and the helpless, act, O God.  […]

I appeal to you to seek the Lord with me concerning the place of fasting and prayer in breaking through the darkened mind that engulfs the modern world, in regard to abortion and a hundred other ills.

This is not a call for a collective tantrum that screams at the bad people, “Give me back my country.”

It is a call to aliens and exiles in the earth, whose citizenship is in heaven and who await the appearance of their King, to “do business” until he comes (Luke 19:13).

And the great business of the Christian is to “do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31), and to pray that God’s name be hallowed and his kingdom come and his will be done in the earth (Matthew 6:9-10). And to yearn and work and pray and fast not only for the final revelation of the Son of Man, but in the meantime, for the demonstration of his Spirit and power in the reaching of every people, and the rescuing of the perishing, and the purifying of the church, and the putting right of as many wrongs as God will grant.

I join Piper in commending this practice to you. What looks foolish to the world (forgoing food to pray for the protection of the unborn) may look utterly foolish to the world, but it will be pleasing to the God who sees and rewards in secret.

Please read it all, and please pray in the face of the present darkness in our culture and world.

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Quotable: Liturgy conforms our bodies to truth

April 10, 2015

From a FANTASTIC article “Omnivorous Liturgy” by Peter Leithart at First Things – must reading for understanding the role of liturgy in forming us as Christ-followers:

We stand, we kneel, we sit, we stand, we kneel. The postures of liturgy write “upon the bodies of those who perform it frequently a habit of acting as an unworthy recipient of a prevenient gift” (Paul Griffiths, Decreation, 232).

By developing the habits that the liturgy impresses on us, we become “agents whose bodies and words are conformed to the truth that [we] are simultaneously capable of receiving the divine gift, and utterly unworthy to receive it.” This isn’t the result of “trying or learning to feel unworthy-and-worthy” nor do “worshipers knowingly perform liturgically before a mirror lined with your own eyes.” That would be an accommodation to the modern obsession with the inner theater, the concept that the inner theater makes our actions sincere.

Rather, we simply say what the liturgy teaches us to say. We do what the liturgy leads us to do. And by doing and saying over and over again, we develop habits. We become “the kind of person who does and says these things” (233).

YES!!! This is SUCH a powerful image, and so helpful to me!


Some short Good Friday quotes

April 3, 2015

This is my first Holy Week on Twitter, and several pastors and Christian leaders have been tweeting some very encouraging and meaningful short quotes and prayers for Good Friday.  I thought it would be good to compile some of the most striking quotes here.

 


Maundy Thursday Quotes: Charles Spurgeon “He yet goes among His people with the basin and the towel”

April 2, 2015

Thanks to a great friend of L&B, Pat Dague for this devotional reflection for Maundy Thursday by Charles Spurgeon:

The Lord Jesus loves his people so much, that every day he is still doing for them much that is analogous to washing their soiled feet. Their poorest actions he accepts; their deepest sorrow he feels; their slenderest wish he hears, and their every transgression he forgives. He is still their servant as well as their Friend and Master….humbly, patiently, he yet goes about among his people with the basin and the towel. He does this when he puts away from us day by day our constant infirmities and sins….It is a great act of eternal love when Christ once for all absolves the sinner, and puts him into the family of God; but what condescending patience there is when the Saviour with much long-suffering bears the oft recurring follies of his wayward disciple; day by day, and hour by hour, washing away the multiplied transgressions of his erring but yet beloved child!….While we find comfort and peace in our Lord’s daily cleansing, its legitimate influence upon us will be to increase our watchfulness, and quicken our desire for holiness. Is it so?
…CH Spurgeon


Lent Quotes. Martin Luther – Unworthy to pray?

February 23, 2015

Some say, “I would feel better about God hearing my prayer if I were more worthy and lived a better life.” I simply answer: If you don’t want to pray before you feel that you are worthy or qualified, then you will never pray again. Prayer must not be based on or depend on your personal worthiness or the quality of the prayer itself; rather, it must be based on the unchanging truth of God’s promise. If the prayer is based on itself or on anything else besides God’s promise, then it’s a false prayer that deceives you—even if your heart is breaking with intense devotion and you are weeping drops of blood.

We pray because we are unworthy to pray. Our prayers are heard precisely because we believe that we are unworthy. We become worthy to pray when we risk everything on God’s faithfulness alone.

So go ahead and feel unworthy. But know in your heart that it’s a thousand times more important to honor God’s truthfulness. Yes, everything depends on this alone. Don’t turn his faithful promise into a lie by your doubts. For your worthiness doesn’t help you, and neither does your unworthiness hinder you. A lack of faith is what condemns you, but confidence in God is what makes you worthy.

But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” Luke 18:13

Martin Luther; James C. Galvin, Faith Alone: A Daily Devotional


Lent Quotes – Lancelot Andrewes

February 18, 2015

Repentance itself is nothing else but a kind of circling: to turn to the One by repentance from whom, by sin, we have turned away.

First, then, there is a turn in which we look forward to God and with our whole heart resolve to turn to God. Then there is a turn again in which we look backward to our sins in which we have turned from God; and with beholding them our very heart must break. There is one turn resolving to amend that which is to come; another reflecting and sorrowing for that which is past; one turn declining from evil to be done hereafter, another sentencing itself for evil done before.

To turn is a counsel given to those are out of the right way, for going on still and turning are opposite motions, both of them with reference to a way. It the way is good, we are to hold on; if otherwise, to turn and take another.

– excerpt from Lancelot Andrewes’ Ash Wednesday sermon 1619

posted by James Gibson at Locusts and Wild Honey


The Mighty God – a wonderfully encouraging devotional from AB Simpson

November 4, 2014

I just recently started reading AB Simpson’s book the Names of Jesus, and I was wonderfully encouraged last night by his reflection on Jesus as “The Mighty God”

Isaiah 9:6: “His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace…”

The Mighty God

He who is our Counselor is also abundantly able to carry out His plans , and He always follows up His directions with His strong and mighty hand. He never sends us on any path without standing by us and seeing us through. He who sends Israel around Jericho never fails to level the walls at the right moment. He who bids the people go forward into the sea never fails to divide the floods. He who sends us through the waters and the fires never fails to go before us and keep them from overflowing us. He who bids us march up against the gates of brass never fails to precede us and break in pieces the brazen gates and make the crooked places straight. When the Holy Spirit is working in us, the mighty Providence of God is always working outside of us in perfect correspondence and preparation.

The Christ of the Gospels is the Jehovah of the Old Testament — the God who said to Jeremiah , “Is there anything too hard for me?” He is the God of creation and of providence — the God who said to Moses, “I lift up my hand to heaven and say, I live forever . . . neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand.” He is able to control all the forces and elements of nature, able to restrain all the influences and movements of society , able to turn the hearts of men at His pleasure and overthrow their counsels and their works. He is able to save the lost, to pardon the guiltiest soul, to cleanse the blackest heart, to renew the most wrecked and ruined life. He is able to fill the heart of sorrow with untroubled gladness.  He is able to take away the strongest tendencies to sin and give the degraded and selfish soul the power to do that which is right and holy. He is able to satisfy our inmost, utmost being. He is able to put His own heart and nature in the most corrupt and helpless soul. He is able to touch the springs of physical life and fill them with His own strength and healing. He is able to meet the temptations that overcome us and to make us more than conquerors in all things through His love. He is able to make even our little lives mighty forces for everlasting good, and so clothe us with His power that we shall be able to open the blind eyes, and turn men from darkness into light and from the very power of Satan to God. He is still standing in our midst and saying: “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth . . . and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”

He is greater than the greatest difficulty, the greatest sin, the greatest sorrow, the greatest failure in your life. From this day place Him, your mighty God, over against the things that are too strong and too hard for you. Only touch the hand of that little Child, and lo, all the forces of Omnipotence, if need be, will be called forth to blast the very rocks of adamant, to roll back the tides of the ocean, to prepare the way for His ransomed.

When He makes bare His arm,

Who shall His power withstand?

When He His people’s cause defends,

Who, who shall stay His hand?

Simpson, A.B. (2014-07-19). The Names of Jesus (Kindle Locations 79-101). Heraklion Press. Kindle Edition.

A.B. Simpson was the founder of the Christian and Missionary Alliance.


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