2 Enemy Attacks We Must Recognize

I’m writing today about two particular attacks of Satan and his forces on believers, but I could list others (like false teaching, idolatry, etc). I focus on these two ways today because I increasingly see them in local churches and in pastoral ministries today. One is more corporate, and the other is more individual:

  1. Division. Since the Garden of Eden when Adam blamed Eve for his sin, the enemy has sought to turn the people of God on one another (in fact, Genesis 4—the next story after the fall of Adam and Eve—is about a brother turning against his own brother). Divisions in families, among believing friends, and in corporate church bodies are nothing new—but they can be agonizing and tragic. The enemy knows we will not threaten him as long as we are shooting each other in the back.
  2. Isolation. God created us to be in relationship with Him and with others; thus, it truly is not good to be alone (Gen 2:18). Like the roaring lion who separates its prey from the pack, the enemy seeks to devour us in our aloneness, in our vulnerability as we fight our battles unaided and unsupported (1 Pet 5:8). Temptations increase in the darkness of isolation, and the enemy delights when we finds us unprotected, un-prayed for, and unaware of his wiles.

Read more: https://chucklawless.com/2022/04/2-enemy-attacks-we-must-recognize/

8 Ways to Live the Resurrection Every Day

By Chuck Lawless on Apr 19, 2022 01:00 am

Some years ago I wrote a post entitled, “10 Signs Easter is Only a One-Day Event for You.” Today I want to take the opposite approach by offering suggestions for living in resurrection power each day.

  1. Let the future-tense hope of resurrection grant you present-tense joy today. Knowing that all will be right in the end—and, actually, throughout all eternity—should give us peace today. Let the promise of tomorrow affect your present.
  2. Focus on the person of the resurrection rather than the problems life brings. Life has a way of pounding at us, and we allow the enemy to distract our thinking and destroy our hope. When that happens, turn your eyes on the Jesus of resurrection.
  3. Watch for the unexpected moments of resurrection hope in a grief-stricken world. The women went to the tomb of Jesus wondering who would move the stone, but they surprisingly found the rock had already been rolled away. Don’t let your personal griefs cloud your vision when God’s already taken care of eternity.
  4. Don’t allow worry to consume you. Not only is worry a lack of trust in God, but it also takes its toll on our bodies. Worry says, “I’m not sure how this is going to work out”; resurrection living says, “I know God will work this out for His glory.”
  5. Thank God for all things. Paul tells us to do that (1 Thess 5:18). Frankly, it’s easier to do that when you know that the best is yet to come—and believe that the best will last forever. Struggles lose their lasting power in the light of resurrection life.
  6. Grieve when necessary, but grief differently than the world does (1 Thess 4:13). Life still hurts at times, and the pain of death can be gripping—but these pains are only temporary, and they cannot ultimately rob us of joy. Go ahead and cry, but let the world see hope in your tear-stained eyes.
  7. Tell somebody else about Jesus. When we evangelize, we re-tell the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection. When others respond positively to the gospel, we see zeal that the hope of resurrection brings; when others deny the gospel, we nevertheless pray they will eventually meet Christ.
  8. Celebrate the spring—and then look forward to it year after year. I realize some readers live in places where seasons are not as prominent, and I understand this last point may not carry the weight of the others. It’s simply something that helps me: when God turns the world green again out the depth of winter, I’m reminded that He grants new beginnings. Rejoice over that truth.

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7 Bible Stories/Passages that Help Me when My Faith Struggles

By Chuck Lawless

We live in a messed-up world that seems to get even crazier every day. I wish I could say that I never struggle with trusting God, but sometimes I have to work harder at it than other times. In those more difficult times, these stories and passages help me:

  1. When I just don’t know what to do, I turn to 2 Chronicles 20, where King Jehoshaphat and his armies are facing three forces allied against them. The king cries out to God, confessing his powerlessness and his cluelessness in the situation. BUT, he concludes his prayer with, “Nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are on you” (2 Chron 20:12). Those words have been incredibly helpful to me—just keep my eyes on God!
  2. When life feels out of control and God seems distant, I run to Mark 4:35-41. The text is about a literal storm, so I don’t want to push the application too far—but, we do learn that Jesus was fully in control of what alarmed and frightened the disciples. He can rule over storms because He made the wind and the waves.
  3. When I’m caught in worry, Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:25-34 are my solace. I could focus on all the details of the passage, but three times Jesus said exactly what I need to hear: “Don’t worry” (v. 25), “So don’t worry” (v. 31), and “Therefore, don’t worry” (v. 34). When the Son of God speaks those words, I need to listen—especially when He repeats them because He knows we’re prone to not listening.
  4. When my heart is breaking for a non-believer, I return to one of the first verses I memorized as a young believer: John 3:16. Back then, the text taught me just how much He loves me. Today, I add to that truth just how much He loves the ones for whom I’m interceding. My responsibility is to tell the gospel, keep praying, and trust God to make Himself known to my family and friends who don’t believe yet.

Read more at: https://chucklawless.com/2022/03/7-bible-stories-passages-that-help-me-when-my-faith-struggles/

Is Your Church a Disciplemaking Church?

By Chuck Lawless 

Yesterday in our continuing series on healthy churches, I gave you a quiz about whether your church is an evangelistic church. Today, I ask whether your church is a discipling church.

  1. Can your church leaders describe what a “disciple” looks like in your church? If they can’t describe what you hope to produce in your members, it’s likely that your overall goal is nebulous. That lack of clarity will hinder your church’s discipleship.
  2. Does your church have a required membership class? A membership class begins discipleship early, and it sets expectations for further discipling as a member of a local body.
  3. Does the church have a church covenant that is up-to-date, relevant, and utilized? A covenant that only hangs on the wall is nothing more than a picture in a frame. Churches with legitimate covenants also typically have a strategy to help members fulfill the covenant.
  4. How does the number of additions compare to the church’s increase/decrease in attendance over the past year? If the church gained 25 new members, but the corresponding attendance figures show an increase of only five, further assessment is needed. It’s possible the church’s back door is so wide open you’re losing almost as many people as you’re gaining.
  5. Are new believers discipled immediately? Young believers are sometimes the most teachable members of a church. Healthy churches start discipling them before they figure out they can be members without being discipled.
  6. Are your members growing in godliness? This one’s more difficult to evaluate, but churches that produce disciples produce men and women who reject temptations and follow God fully.
  7. Does the church offer small groups that include equipping and accountability for holy living? If you read yesterday’s post, you know that I recommend small groups that warmly invite the unchurched to participate. At the same time, I also encourage churches to have small groups that allow for significant life-on-life interaction and serious accountability.
  8. Does the church have an intentional strategy for teaching spiritual disciplines? Discipling churches don’t just tell folks to read the Word, pray, fast, and do other spiritual disciplines; instead, they teach and lead them to make disciplines a part of their lives.
  9. Is the pastoral staff mentoring other believers? If the leaders of the church aren’t pouring their lives into other believers, they will lack credibility in asking others to do so. Strong discipleship churches are led by mentor-pastors.
  10. Is the church strategically discipling teens and children?  Discipling congregations recognize that good discipleship begins early. They intentionally connect older members with younger members to promote mutual spiritual growth.

Is your church a disciplemaking church? 

10 Reasons Older Women Should Mentor Younger Women in Your Church

By Chuck Lawless on Dec 07, 2021 01:00 am

I believe in mentoring as one component of disciplemaking. My experience, though, is that too few churches challenge their members to invest in others. My goal in this post is to challenge women in the church to mentor younger women (and, many of these reasons for doing so would also apply to older men mentoring younger men).

  1. The Bible requires it. Titus 2:3-5 expects that young women will learn from older women who have lived out their faith in the Lord. If our churches ignore this calling, the next generation suffers.
  2. God never expected us to travel our journey alone. When He said, “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Gen 2:18), His point was not that everyone is to be married; it was that He created us in such a way that we need others in our lives. Younger women especially need older women to walk with them.
  3. Many younger women have had few or no healthy female role models in their life. Mothers have a unique bond with their children, but not every mother is a model of godliness. Some young women are still waiting to become close friends with a godly female.
  4. They will be spouses and moms in a culture ever turning from God’s standards. Young women will be called to live their faith in a world increasingly opposed to Christianity. They shouldn’t be expected to walk that path without an older role model.
  5. They are future leaders of some church ministries. Churches differ in what roles women can play in a congregation, but younger women will lead some types of church ministries in the future. What they see modeled now will help them in the days to come.
  6. Younger women are longing for mentors in the faith. Men have no monopoly on this need. Younger women are equally seeking older women who will give them time.
  7. Even young women face temptations such as pornography. As morals change and sin becomes more acceptable, even young women face issues we once assumed were limited to men. Many women, though, have no place to turn for support and guidance.
  8. Woman-to-woman discipling can prepare younger women for the mission field. In some places of the world, only women have access to minister to other women. Being a disciple now will help younger women prepare for this role.
  9. Even a few minutes of godly attention can change a younger woman’s life.  Investing in a younger woman does not require a seminary degree or a ministry calling. All it requires is an older woman who walks with God – and a younger woman’s life may then never be the same.
  10. Younger women with mentors will someday become older women themselves. That means, of course, they’ll be the next generation to carry on the work of investing in others. Guiding them now will help others in the future.

What would you add to this list? 

8 Markers of Pivotal Spiritual Moments in My Life

By Chuck Lawless on Jan 03, 2022 01:00 am

I hesitated to write this post, as I always fear bringing too much attention to myself on this site. At the same time, I am in one of those moments in my spiritual journey where I just know God is up to something – one of those times that can become a marker moment. I’ve not had many of these moments in the past, but each time has been characterized by several things:

  1. Seldom has any event precipitated the spiritual moment. God in His sovereignty simply ordained the time and the process for me at that moment. It has often seemed to occur unexpectedly and surprisingly.
  2. I am forced to pray what I’ve often encouraged others to pray: “Lord, I sense You’re in the process of doing something in my life. Do whatever You must to get me there.”  That can be a frightening prayer, but anything less than that prayer makes my teaching hypocritical. It’s an expression of confidence in the Lord’s love.
  3. My sin—from the smallest to the biggest—has become ever more apparent . . . but so has His forgiveness. It’s agonizing, actually. I more deeply appreciate God’s forgiveness, but I also see myself in all my spiritual nakedness through the years.
  4. Prayer has been more powerful, with a much stronger focus on God and His glory than on me and my needs. Sometimes, I’ve simply lain on the floor and praised God for who He is and what He’s done. Those times are powerfully different from other prayer times.
  5. Bible study has been uniquely fresh—almost like when I became a believer and read the Word for the first time. I wake up in the morning wanting to hear from God, and I go to bed at night wondering what He will teach me the next day.
  6. My burden over lost people—most often, over particular lost people—has been so great that it keeps me awake at night. And, I know why that is: God has given us the unique privilege of interceding for others (e.g., Rom 10:1), and sleeplessness is for me a call to prayer. Uninterrupted and unhindered in the night, I pray for folks to get saved.
  7. Fasting has become the norm, not because I want to carry out the discipline but because I want God more than I want food. I don’t even “plan” the fasting times during these spiritual moments. They just happen because my delight in God—and my desire to know Him more—overwhelm my desire for food.
  8. Laying my life on the altar again, fully surrendering my dreams and visions for the future, is not only right, but also exciting. I don’t know what God will want from me, but I do know that His will is always perfect. Trusting Him afresh with the unknown is sweet indeed.

What about you? What are some markers for your spiritual moments?

 

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5 Things to Do when the Church Service Seems to Lack “Fire”

By Chuck Lawless

Some church services are cold – and I don’t mean the room temperature. Instead, there simply is little sense of Christian warmth, little indication of Holy Spirit-given “fire” when the congregation gathers. If that’s sometimes the case in your church, maybe one of these suggestions will be encouraging to you:

  1. Pray you’re reading the situation properly – but, more importantly, be sure to pray for God’s love and power to be evident in the congregation. My goal is that we would not get discouraged by the situation, but that we would instead pray God’s blessing on the group. In general, it’s a good rule to pray first for the Lord’s wisdom and insight before we reach conclusions.
  2. Remember that all kinds of things can contribute to an apparent lack of “fire.” It could be that the church is dealing with internal conflict. It could also be they’re dealing with corporate grief over some tragedy in the church family or the announcement of a departing staff member. Maybe the church has spent little time praying together. Or, it could even be that a bunch of folks are just tired . . . . My point is that we may not know the cause of the coldness, so we should not immediately make a judgment about the church.
  3. Pray specifically for those who lead the worship service. They may or may not recognize the coldness. But, my experience has been that the leaders are often aware when something is amiss. In fact, sometimes our own situations and struggles contribute to the problem. Pray your church leaders would not be distracted or discouraged as they lead the congregation to encounter God.
  4. Give yourself fully to the worship experience. Regardless of your assessment of the situation, don’t be part of the problem. Come to the service with your heart in tune with God. Pray before you join other believers, and ask the Lord to give you godly expectation for the service. Bring the “fire” with you.
  5. Watch for “glimpses” of God’s work among the congregation. I’ve previously written about the value of daily seeing the glimpses of God’s glory in our lives, but it’s especially important to watch for them in worship. Sometimes a fire starts with just an ember – with a spark of the hand of God moving in a life. You may not immediately see that spark, but you’ll approach the service differently if you believe God is still doing that kind of work. And, He is . . . .

Readers, let’s agree together to pray for the “fire” of God to be evident in the services of all our churches this weekend!

Comment at: https://chucklawless.com/2021/12/5-things-to-do-when-the-church-service-seems-to-lack-fire/

8 Evidences I’m Not as Grateful as I Thought I Was

By Chuck Lawless

This past Thanksgiving week, I spent some time with believers who have lived in an impoverished, risky place in the world. Their faith deeply challenged me—especially their thankful hearts. Even though I heard their stories only through translation, their gratitude put my “thanksgiving” to shame. Here are my reflections:

  1. I too often tie my value to what I have gained more than to what God has done for me. When you have very little, though, you learn the value of prioritizing a relationship with your Creator.
  2. I take for granted what others consider to be incredible blessings. When other believers from around the world are astounded at the number of food options we have available in our grocery stories, you can’t help but take a good look at your heart.
  3. I’m not convinced others see undeniable joy in me just because God has saved me. I hope I’m wrong, but I’m not sure. I am certain my joy is not as apparent as that of my new friends I met this past week.
  4. I far too easily get stressed by hardships—rather than thank God for what they teach me.Frankly, I’m amazed by how quickly I get frustrated at little things after hearing the stories of these other believers who deal with much weightier matters.
  5. My faith costs me very little, but I’ve not often expressed thanksgiving for God’s ongoing care and protection. The only reason I’ve not faced what other believers have faced is that God has graciously granted provision and shelter. I have much reason to say, “Thank you.”
  6. I might talk about God’s gift to allow me to preach the Word without fear of persecution, but my gratitude is probably only surface level. I typically think otherwise—but that thinking changes when I meet believers who proclaim the Word in spite of real opposition. 
  7. I have failed to say “thank you” enough when I open the Word in my language and in my hands—and when I get to hear others preach in my mother tongue. Even as I write this post, I’m convicted of my need to truly recognize these blessings other brothers and sisters don’t always have.
  8. I tend to give out of my excess rather than out of genuine sacrifice. My friends who’ve had very little actually brought us gifts this past week. That’s humbling.

What about you? In what ways do you recognize your need to be more grateful?

Comment? https://chucklawless.com/2021/11/8-evidences-im-not-as-grateful-as-i-thought-i-was/

10 Things Not to Do at Church This Weekend

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9 Things to Thank God for Tomorrow (and Today)

By Chuck Lawless

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day in the United States. If your family expresses gratitude together at some point during the day, consider including these reasons to be grateful in your prayer list:

  1. That we have access to the entirety of God’s Word in our language. Much of the world has no such blessing.
  2. That God has saved us and made us His children. With 4 billion+ persons in the world with little or no access to the gospel, we cannot take this gift for granted.
  3. That He sent someone across our path to introduce us to the gospel. My “someone” was a seventh-grade classmate who spoke truth to me more than 45 years ago—and every year I’m more grateful for him.
  4. That many of us will have more to eat tomorrow in a single meal than some people will have all day. We’re so accustomed to being almost gluttonous that we fail to see God’s blessings of abundant provision.
  5. That, at least for now, we can teach the Word openly without fear of persecution. Again, many believers around the world are not so blessed. They’re faithful anyway, but their faith often costs them much.
  6. That He has called out pastors to lead us. I’m convinced that God calls our pastors with a divine calling, and He raises them up to care for our souls.
  7. That He works through the most difficult times we face to conform us to the image of His Son. He works through our struggles to remind us that he is the strength in our weakness—and that His grace is sufficient for us (2 Cor 12). Gratitude in everything is evidence that God is working in us.
  8. That He gives us a church family. They might at times be difficult, but they’re still family. They’re still our brothers and sisters in Christ.
  9. That God is sovereignly in control of a world that seems out of control. I don’t know about you, but I’m even more grateful for that truth after the last 18 months of COVID.

What would you add to this list?

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