prayer thoughts from Scotty Smith, Everyday Prayers

Zech 8.20-23

Zechariah’s vision describes something very attractive going on in the lives of your people––you’re church, Your bride. He envisions the presence of God having a magnetic appeal to people from all kinds of backgrounds. May this be true of my family and our church family. Give us your wisdom and give us your piece, but please, make the gospel beautiful unbelievable through us.

Loving Jesus, that you are jealous of my love is as humbling as it is astonishing. What greater complement could you possibly give me? That you missed my affection test the limits of my imagination.

Father, I am in constant need of your re-parenting. I need to know you better and better as Abba, Father, the most caring, engaged, and loving parent ever. I need you to continue to free me from the illusion that my earthly parents could have ever been enough. For the wounds and holes in my childhood, bring the gospel to bear with healing an liberating power. Free me from believing I need any other parent but you in order to become a whole and healthy person.

The church has done a poor job in teaching our young people

It’s no understatement that the church has done a poor job in teaching our young people that reason and faith are not opposites, and that atheists are far from being on the side of reason…Many kids, however, who grow up huddled in a Christian environment find themselves in the university setting completely unequipped to defend the rationality of the Christian faith against the secular humanist worldview so prevalent on college campuses.

~ Chuck Colson

God has used evidence and reason

The charge is made that no one ever comes to Christ through apologetics. If this implies that the Holy Spirit never uses apologetic evidence to bring people to Christ, this is clearly false.

C.S. Lewis noted that ‘nearly everyone I know who has embraced Christianity in adult life has been influenced by what seemed to him to be at least a probable argument for Theism’. Lewis is an example of an atheist who came to Christ under the influence of apologetics. The skeptic

Frank Morrison was converted while attempting to write a book refuting the evidence for the resurrection of Christ. Augustine tells in his confessions how he was led toward Christianity by hearing a Christian debate an unbeliever.

Harvard Law School professor Simon Greenleaf was led to accept the authenticity of the Gospels by applying the rules of legal evidence to the New Testament.

God has used evidence and reason in some way to reach virtually all adults who come to Christ.

~ Norman Geisler

We have to educate believers

One lesson we must learn from [Bart Ehrman’s] Misquoting Jesus is that those in ministry need to close the gap between the church and the academy. We have to educate believers. Instead of trying to isolate laypeople from critical scholarship, we need to insulate them. They need to be ready for the barrage, because it is coming. The intentional dumbing down of the church for the sake of filling more pews will ultimately lead to defection from Christ. Ehrman is to be thanked for giving us a wake-up call.

– Dr. Daniel B. Wallace

Gary Habermas: Contemporary Muslim Apologetics and the Resurrection of Christ

Even If

even if

For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps. (1 Peter 2:21)

Relate: I admit I have a bias. I have uprooted my life and moved into the Middle East in a very large part because of what is happening in Syria and the refugee crisis Bashar Assad spawned and ISIS exacerbated. My heart, my prayers, and my thoughts are constantly running in that direction and I have to admit that when I see some of the bias, bigotry, and nationalism coming out of the west masquerading as Christianity it simply breaks my heart. When I see one after another supposedly Christian governor or politician cave to the political winds and say, “Not here, not now” I am almost embarrassed to call myself American.

I hear the arguments. To a degree, I empathize with the feeling even though most are misguided, based on partial information or false facts, or just plain wrong. People want to stay safe. People want to stay comfortable, and there is a fear that allowing in a “torrent” of refugees will shatter that security. What if terrorists sneak in among those refugees? It will cost us way too much to support them. They should be taken in by neighboring countries/Muslim countries/somebody else… anybody else. Why are we allowing in Syrian Muslims but not Syrian Christians? Etc. I have dealt with some of these false fears (here) other places and will be dealing with others in the near future.

Read the rest at:

Free “20 Attributes of God” eChart

A Prayer of Gratitude

from Tim Challies

If you are at all like me, you probably find it easy to pray those prayers of petition (“Please give me…”) but far more difficult to pray those prayers of gratitude (“Thank you for…”). Here is some valuable assistance from The Valley of Vision.

O My God,
You fairest, greatest, first of all objects,
My heart admires, adores, loves You,
For my little vessel is as full as it can be,
And I would pour out all that fullness before You in ceaseless flow.
When I think upon and converse with You
Ten thousand delightful thoughts spring up,
Ten thousand sources of pleasure are unsealed,
Ten thousand refreshing joys spread over my heart,
Crowding into every moment of happiness.
I bless You for the soul You have created,
For adorning it, for sanctifying it,
Though it is fixed in barren soil;
For the body You have given me,
For preserving its strength and vigor,
For providing senses to enjoy delights,
For the ease and freedom of limbs,
For hands, eyes, ears that do Your bidding;
For Your royal bounty providing my daily support,
For a full table and overflowing cup,
For appetite, taste, sweetness,
For social joys of relatives and friends,
For ability to serve others,
For a heart that feels sorrows and necessities,
For a mind to care for my fellow-men,
For opportunities of spreading happiness around,
For loved ones in the joys of heaven,
For my own expectation of seeing You clearly.
I love You above the powers of language to express,
For what You are to Your creatures.
Increase my love, O my God, through time and eternity.

Celebrate Best Friends

I’ve learned that my best friend and I can do anything or nothing,
and have the best time.
~ Unknown Author ~

Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.
~ Proverbs 27:17

This week, I appreciate all friends (old and new) and celebrate having the best week hanging out with two of my best friends. There was plenty of fun and laughter; good conversation and lots of old school music and dancing. A fun time was had by all. (smile)

Praise The Lord, for best friends. (grin)

There are different degrees to friendship. Some friends are seasonal, while a few friends are a lifetime.

I’m grateful for friends who get me and I get them. (wink) Thank you Lord.

It’s a beautiful thing to develop friendships that last through the ebbs and flows of life.

Best friend connections are heaven sent.

Like Jesus, best friends sustain us.

Blessings friends and have an awesome weekend.

©afriendofjesus2013Blog, Aug 2013

Church “worship” services

Provided by an anonymous source

What an all-encompassing word: “worship”. One can literally find thousands and thousands of articles, books, and blogs on the topic — What to do and not to do. This short blog article is not an attempt to even venture far or deep into the topic, but to give some personal and incidental thoughts to provoke discussion and thinking about one aspect of the topic. We are leaving the sermon entirely out of this discussion — we all know the Word and teaching is critical to understanding worship and living the life God wants us to exhibit.

These are my personal opinions and thoughts and are likely directly related to my history, culture, experience, age, nationality, maybe how well I slept , and more. Up-front admission.

A lot goes under the name of worship. I have some personal questions about “true worship” or “authentic worship”.

Though the skills of the leaders and band are important, there are some aspects of our worship experience that are more important.

Is there “true worship” without emotion?

That emotion could be excitement about Jesus, God’s work, etc., but it could also be lament, confession, weariness, etc. Can we go through a “worship service” without some sort of emotional response and say we have truly worshipped?

Do our leaders show any emotion at all? Are they really part of the worship experience they are leading? Does their emotions facilitate or hinder our responses? True, not everyone shows emotions the same way. Most of us try to hide our emotions, but there must be some experiences and thoughts that impact us that emotion comes out. Seemingly, being exposed to the wonderful grace of God, forgiveness, healing, protection and the mighty promises and hope in our future should elicit some emotional outburst sometime. Look around your church — hopefully, you will see some who respond with emotion about the truths they are singing a bout. What about the majority of those in your worship service?

A leader that is too excited, too over-the-top enthusiastic is out of place most of the time, but so is the blase, bored-looking chap who seems to be distant from the message of the songs. It is as though he isn’t taking in the message himself. Some go overboard on excitement; some seem to distance themselves from any emotion.

True, we in the pews should be able to find our own excitement and get involved with almost any song, almost any time, almost any tempo. But it seems that the leader needs to “lead”, demonstrate, facilitate, build up to the message of the song. Depending on the message, the plan for a particular worship experience, the tempo, the promoted mood, the leading would vary.

Is “true worship” always predictable and the same?

I say not. If your church has predictable “worship” that the congregation hardly needs a leader to follow, week in and week out. I say the God that is being presented is not the creative, active, God of the Bible. Some songs, sung at a different tempo, conveys a very different message. i.e. Amazing Grace sung slowly and mournfully conveys a very different message than when sung sprightly and with exuberance.

If “worship” is always the same, we are missing some of the varied aspects of worship as seen in the Psalms — and life. Any study of the Psalms shows a wide variety of emotions and experiences that entered their worship — from jubilation and loud celebration to contrite confession and remorse — and even unhappy grumbling. Where is that in our worship services? When was the last time your congregation shouted in excitement and celebration — or cried in sorrow over their sin?

Does “true worship” only involve singing?

Few evangelical churches that I am familiar with do much but sing. Some apparently feel that a worship service only involves songs — whether it be hymns or choruses. I know there are heavy discussions about the type of songs used. Some feel worship songs always have to convey strong, obvious doctrinal teaching, others seem bent toward statements of personal involvement. Some hate repetition; some love the emphasis of repetition. There are endless arguments generated by those opinions. But, something is missing if we only consider the songs of either type.

Beyond the choice of songs, however, I would suggest that the “true worship” should include more than singing. Several have questioned the validity of calling the first part of a service “worship” when it only includes singing (why not just call it a “song service” and the leader a “song leader”?); some question the validity when it only includes professionals and leaders (seems so different from what Paul advocated); and some question the substitution of a “call to worship” with a mere “Stand and worship” and no scripture or some encouragement or challenge to help focus the congregation on God and his worship.

Worship can include seeing nature, creation about us, the ecstatic experience of a new born child of God and mournful cry of the poet who laments the loss of a family member, A prayer of contrition, etc. Are those ever brought into your worship? Are we aware that those and a whole lot of other things can be part of the worship experience? Have your people ever experienced that aspect of worship? Does your “leader” know how to lead people into those awesome worship experiences? Does you leader even realize the “worship” aspect could exclude music entirely and still be “worship”?

Maybe some time the pastor needs to forget his sermon and teach and allow people to experience a widely creative and abundant God in an amazing variety of ways to experience him in worship.

Lastly, can we really join together in “true worship” when our people don’t do private worship?

I wonder if many of our folks really have a regular time of personal and private worship? Do they even read the Word and pray each day? Do any of their prayers ever go beyond “Give me…” Help me…” “Heal my friend…”? Do our people actually spend any private time worshipping? I wonder if the individual times of worship are as slim in your church as it is in mine. Without that personal experience all the other issues of “true worship” are quite moot, aren’t they? What can worship leaders do to emphasize and encourage private worship?

Can we truly worship if we don’t seek to apply the Word to our life? Romans 12.1 “I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.” How can it be “true worshippers” if we don’t apply and practice what we read and sing?

God chastised Israel for going habitual, routine worship without it affecting their lives. I wonder if He has such an feeling concerning our worship routines.