Friday, September 29, 2006

Another Spurgeon Quote on Prayer

Charles Spurgeon, that great British Baptist pastor pointed out that the intensity of our spirituality is directly linked to our prayer life...

"I know of no better thermometer to your spiritual temperature than this, the measure of the intensity of your prayer"

How hot are we for Jesus? Well, it depends how hot our prayer lives are.

Have a great weekend


Thursday, September 28, 2006

Charles Spurgeon on Prayer

Charles Spurgeon is considered the "Prince of Preachers." His church in London was in a continual state of revival. It is a given that he prayed and promoted prayer among his congregation. But his prayers were not ordinary, but rather fervent and heart-felt. Here are his words on the subject...

"It is the burning lava of the soul that has a furnace within--a very volcano of grief and sorrow--it is that burning lava of prayer that finds its way to God. No prayer ever reaches God's heart which does not come from our hearts."

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Pray As If You Are the Only Person Praying

Jonathan Graf writes in his book, "The Power of Personal Prayer: Learning to Pray with Faith and Purpose" the importance of focused prayer when God puts a person or situation on our hearts...

"We need to attack every situation we feel a tug to pray about as if we were the only one praying! You might be the only person praying for your unbelieving neighbor's salvation. No praying grandmother. No Christian wife praying for her husband. No believer at work. Only you" (p. 64).

Monday, September 25, 2006

What if John Lennon's Song "Imagine" Became a Reality?

Good morning. Recently, Kairos Journal carried an interesting article about the ramifications of a society with Christianity. Is the human spirit capable of creating a culture of love and peace and tolerance without Jesus? It is a good a read. Have a great day. Bryan

A Culture without Christianity? Imagine.

In 1971, John Lennon wrote a hymn for the secularist faith. The song, "Imagine," fantasized about the state of world affairs if everyone were stripped of all beliefs and prejudices with the notable exception, of course, of the former Beatle's favorites. "Imagine there's no heaven," sang Lennon,

It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today . . .

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace . . .

Now while there is certainly nothing wrong with peace, love, and understanding, the evidence suggests that LennonĂ‚’s dream world would in fact turn out to be a nightmare. That's the conclusion of recent historical and sociological studies from two of America's leading scholars: Rodney Stark from the University of Washington1 and Samuel P. Huntington from Harvard. Without any collusion, they have both found that the animating features that have made the West great "modern science, medicine, democracy and its attending freedoms" were the products of irreducibly Christian thinking derived from central biblical traditions.

In his 2004 book, Who Are We?, Huntington, arguably the most respected political scientist of our time, contends that the United States in particular faces a national identity crisis. What was the original identity? Beginning with G. K Chesterton's analysis of America as "a nation with the soul of a church," Huntington lists the following traits as explanatory of America's success and global appeal:

the English language; Christianity; religious commitment; English concepts of the rule of law; the responsibility of rulers, and the rights of individuals; and dissenting Protestant values of individualism, the work ethic, and the belief that humans have the ability and the duty to try to create a heaven on earth, a "city on a hill." Historically, millions of immigrants were attracted to America because of this culture and the economic opportunities it helped to make possible.2

In sum, the Harvard professor avers, it is the Anglo-Protestant culture that arose from scriptural foundations that made the United States great. Attempts to undermine this tradition, whether one ethnically arose from this context or not, he argues, are a misguided and dangerous social experiment which could unhinge the entire project.

In a similar manner, sociologist Rodney Stark tackles the secularist's mantra that serious Christianity inhibits progress. This, Stark argues, is pure myth. To the contrary, for example, he demonstrates with lucid historical detail that "science could only arise in a culture dominated by belief in a conscious, rational, all-powerful Creator."3 Further, against the charge that orthodox Christianity is inherently repressive, he makes the case that while believers have sometimes behaved horribly toward others (i.e., witch hunts and inquisitions), only people who believed "that slavery was an abomination in the eyes of God" were poised to defy the evil. "It was that conclusion," writes Stark, "and only that conclusion, that enabled the West to abolish slavery."4 The fear of God, in other words, means freedom for men.

Imagine a world without the Bible, without Christians, and without God? That is truly a frightening thought. It would mean more slavery, far fewer freedoms, and unchecked disease. Without the moral restraints inspired by God's people, the world would no doubt be an unthinkably worse place to live. Even a self-professed relativist can appreciate that. All those who love liberty, or so it would seem, have a vested interest in the continued influence and vitality of the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Footnotes :

1 Stark began teaching at Baylor University in 2004.

2 Samuel P. Huntington, Who Are We? The Challenges to America's National Identity (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2004), xvi.

3 Rodney Stark, For the Glory of God: How Monotheism Led to Reformations, Science, Witch Hunts, and the End of Slavery (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2003), 197.

4 Ibid.,

Friday, September 22, 2006

How Christians Should Respond to Muslim Outrage at the Pope's Regensburg Message About Violence and Reason

Good afternoon. I though John Piper words concerning the recent aftermath that occurred from Pope Benedict XVI words.

September 20, 2006
By John Piper

"Whoever offends our Prophet Mohammed should be killed on the spot by the nearest Muslim." Those were the words of Sheikh Abubakar Hassan Malin to a gathering of Muslims in Mogadishu on Friday, September 15, 2006. On Saturday, Palestinians wielding guns and firebombs attacked five Christian churches in the West Bank and Gaza. On Sunday, September 17, in London, outside Westminster Cathedral, Anjem Choudary addressed a demonstration and said that those who insulted Islam "should be subject to capital punishment."

These were among the reactions to a speech given by Pope Benedict XVI at Regensburg University, in Germany on Tuesday, September 12. Perhaps connected to the speech was the murder on Sunday in Mogadishu of sixty-six-year-old Leonella Sgorbati, an Italian Catholic nun serving as a nurse in a children's hospital.

In the speech, the pope was addressing the foundation of the secular university. The subject was faith and reason. He was arguing that the foundation of the university, and the spread of truth and faith, lay in the rationality of God. He asked, "Is the conviction that acting unreasonably contradicts God's nature merely a Greek idea, or is it always and intrinsically true?" He answers, "I believe that here we can see the profound harmony between what is Greek, in the best sense of the word, and the biblical understanding of faith in God."

In other words, the pope is arguing that the university, and all people, have an obligation to act in accordance with reason, because reason is rooted in God. At this point, he brought in a discussion of the difference between Islam and Christianity on the relationship between God and reason. Christianity, he argues, sees reason as rooted in God. But, citing a noted French Islamist R. Arnaldez, he says that "Ibn Hazn went so far as to state that [in Islam] God is not bound even by his own word, and that nothing would oblige him to reveal the truth to us. Were it God's will, we would even have to practice idolatry."

This, he implies, disconnects God and reason and opens Islam to a use of violence in spreading their faith that is not governed by reason. He cites Sura 2, 256 from the Qur'an, where Mohammed says that there is no compulsion in religion. Then he draws attention to the later developments in the Qur'an by quoting the Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus in 1391 in Ankara (today"s capital of Turkey). The emperor apparently said that Mohammed taught that one could "spread by the sword the faith he preached." Then the pope said,

"The emperor goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul. God is not pleased by blood, and not acting reasonably is contrary to God's nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats... To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death. The decisive statement in this argument against violent conversion is this: not to act in accordance with reason is contrary to God's nature."

These references to the role of reason in Islam, and the apparent endorsement of violence (in parts of the Qur'an) as a way of spreading Islamic faith, have outraged Muslims and sparked violence and calls for violence. Subsequently, the pope said, "I am deeply sorry for the reactions in some countries to a few passages of my address at the University of Regensburg, which were considered offensive to the sensibility of Muslims. These in fact were a quotation from a medieval text, which do not in any way express my personal thought."

How should Christians respond to this situation? I will suggest ten responses that flow from the Bible.

1. Admit that the Christian church has often been too entangled with civil governments, with the result that violence has been endorsed by the church as a way of accomplishing religious, and not just civil, goals. The Crusades, for example, stand as a monument to collective Christian blindness to the teaching of Jesus. We should make every effort today to avoid political alignments between the Christian church and any civil government or political party. (See my article, Tolerance, Truth-Telling, Violence, and Law.)

2. Make clear that the use of God-sanctioned violence between Israel and the nations in the Old Testament is no longer God's will for his people. The coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, as a suffering servant, rather than a warlord, and his gathering of a people from all nations rather than only one, are two of the many reasons why the Christian church today should not and almost universally does not endorse or use violence to promote the gospel of Jesus Christ.

3. Admit that there are many Muslims today who do not approve of violence in the spread of Islam. Admittedly, to many of us in the West, their number seems small and their voice seems muted by the reputation of the more violent strains of Islam. We do not know how large that segment of Islam is.

4. Point out how Islam, in its most sacred writings and authoritative teachings, belittles Jesus Christ, not just occasionally in the news, but constantly by its dominant claims. Islam denies that Jesus Christ was and is God, a central truth of the New Testament and the Christian church (John 1:1-3; Colossians 2:9; Hebrews 1:8). Dominant streams of Islam deny that Jesus died on the cross and therefore deny that the claim that his death atones for sin and propitiates the wrath of God is true (1 Corinthians 15:1-3; Romans 3:21-26; Galatians 3:13; 1 Peter 2:24; 3:18). Therefore, defenders of Islam daily defame Jesus Christ and insult the glory of his gospel.

5. Point out that, in response to this constant defamation of Jesus Christ, there are no public threats or demands for apologies. This is not because we do not love Jesus above all things, or because we have no zeal for the glory of his name. It is because he told us to expect this (Matthew 10:25; John 15:20) and then modeled for us how to react: "When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly" (1 Peter 2:23).

6. Do good to those who hate you and, of course, those of other faiths who don't hate you (Luke 6:27). This is not because Christians do not believe in vengeance. We simply believe that it is not ours to give. And this age is not the time to give it. This is an age of mercy and patience and forgiveness toward those who malign the King of the universe. He will have his Day of Wrath. But we are too sinful to be entrusted with that righteous judgment. Rather, we should obey the words of the New Testament: "Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, 'Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.' To the contrary, 'if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head'" (Romans 12:19-20).

7. Seek to win others to saving faith in Jesus by persuading with words, not imposing with force. This was the way the gospel spread among many religions in the early centuries of the Christian church. The earliest teachers said, "Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others" (2 Corinthians 5:11). When the New Testament speaks of the "sword of the Spirit" (Ephesians 6:17) or "the weapons of our warfare" (2 Corinthians 10:4), it clearly means the word of God and power of spiritual persuasion.

8. Always be ready to die, but never to kill, for the sake of commending Jesus Christ as the Son of God who died for sinners and rose again as the Lord of the universe. Jesus promises to triumph through our accepting suffering, not our causing suffering. He died to save all who will believe from every nation and religion. He calls us to follow him on this Calvary Road. "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit" (John 12:24). This is not the death of a suicide-murderer. This is the death of one who loves his enemies and, as he dies, prays, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34), and, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them" (Acts 7:60).

9. Pray for the salvation of all those who belittle Jesus Christ. Pray that they would put their faith in Jesus Christ who died for our sins so that if anyone from any nation or any religion would embrace him as Lord and Savior and Treasure of their lives, they would be saved from the guilt of sin and the wrath of God. They would have eternal life and joy. This is the way the great apostle Paul prayed: "Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved" (Romans 10:1).

10. No matter the cost, continue to exalt and commend Jesus Christ as the great and only Savior that he is. Say with the apostle Paul, "It is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." The day will come when every knee will bow to Jesus as Lord and as God (Philippians 2:10-11). Until that day comes, affirm with Paul: "I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God"(Acts 20:24).

Longing for the Savior to be exalted,

Pastor John


Desiring God

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you do not make more than 1,000 physical copies. For web posting, a link to this document on our website is preferred. Any exceptions to the above must be explicitly approved by Desiring God.

Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: Email: Toll Free: 1.888.346.4700.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Praying in the Spirit

We can be thankful to the Lord that the Holy Spirit dwells in each true follower of Jesus. And with the Spirit at hand, we can pray in the power of the Spirit even when our bodies are tired.

John Bunyan defines praying in the Holy Spirit as "prayer is a sincere, sensible, affectionate pouring out of the heart or soul to God, through Christ, in the strength and assistance of the Holy Spirit, for such things as God promised, or according to the Word of God, for the good of the church, with submission to the will of God" (quoted in R. Kent Hughes, Disciplines of a Godly Man, p. 97).

As millions of believers pray in the Spirit, the church can be revived.


Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Most Influential Person in History

Good Morning. I saw this today on Carl Brettle's blog site:

The Greatest Man in History

Jesus had no servants, yet they called Him Master.
Had no degree, yet they called Him Teacher.
Had no medicines, yet they called Him Healer.
He had no army, yet kings feared Him.
He won no military battles, yet He conquered the world.
He committed no crime, yet they crucified Him.
He was buried in a tomb, yet He lives today.

I feel honored to serve such a Leader who loves us!


If we follow his example, we can do anything, anywhere at anytime, working amongst the most influential people the world knows today....

The sky is the limit.


Have a great day. Bryan

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Do Our Private Prayer Times Make Any Difference in the Local Church?

Do it matter if we pray with others and not privately? Granted it is a very good thing to gather with other Christians in order to pray. We should all be committed to this according to Acts 2.42. It is also vital that we pray privately. Jesus did make that clear in Matthew 6.6 when he instructed his followers to go into their rooms and shut the door in order to pray.

Charles Spurgeon said that private praying is the strength of the church: "Neglect of private prayer is the locust which devours the strength of the church"

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Aquarium Christians

Good morning. Today I came across a good article on It was written by Paul Wright, and it is a good perspective on being salt and light in the world. The 5 year anniversary of 9/11 reminds us to take our walk with Jesus seriously and to make the best use of the time. Have a wonderful day. Bryan

"I have been traveling around the country now for a couple years, and I am disturbed about much of the Church’s overall idea of outreach. Why do we have so many outreaches inside a church? That’s like fishing in our own aquarium hoping that other fish come over to swim because we put a flyer on their car windshield when they were shopping that tells them how nice our water is.

Why don’t we go where the fish are? It’s frustrating when I see or hear about churches that are quicker to point a finger at someone who actually goes outside of the so-called Christian environment to share God’s love than they are to offer a helping hand. Isn’t that how the Pharisees treated Jesus when he hung out with street kids, prostitutes and drunks?

Instead of putting such a high emphasis on the big event, we should focus more on the essentials of Christian living. Like loving God and others as ourselves. Instead of only being excited about the four toys being inflated in the parking lot and the dunk tank the wacky youth pastor will sit on, we should be stoked about living out Jesus’ greatest commandments in everyday life.

I think many are hesitant to reach out because it’s uncomfortable. It’s like being in the ocean and realizing how small and out of control we really are. It’s challenging to be vulnerable. One of my favorite verses is in Galatians 5:6. It says, “For in Christ Jesus … the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love” (TNIV). So the “big” event your church is planning and pouring money into means jack if its not faith working through love.

We are called to love God with all our heart, mind and soul and love others as ourselves. Do you notice that it states we first must love God before loving others and ourselves? This is because we can’t really love ourselves and others until we first love God. Loving God is really just getting to know Him and discovering that He is love. For in loving God we receive His love to love ourselves and others. It’s hard to love others until we love ourselves, because the way we treat others is a direct reflection of how we see ourselves.

I’m not bagging on all outreaches at all. I think that they are good when aligned with God’s purposes. But let’s be smarter in how we plan them. Here is an example of an outreach that made a positive impact on its community this month:

I recently preformed at this summer bash up in Marysville, Washington. It’s only about a half hour north of Seattle. It was a beautiful summer day in the Pacific Northwest—one of the best places to be in the summer. The church had done this event for a couple years now, and each year it has grown exponentially.

This year all the churches in the area got together to reach the community. They had a salon give haircuts to kids and Wal-Mart donated some school supplies to families whose children were going back to school. It was at a park, and they had tons of free food, a drug rehab booth, music, dancing and more. The mayor, police chief and some athletes were there. They even had a guy who showed up with reptiles and displayed them from the stage. It was entertaining.

During the day they had teams of people going through the park engaging with people and asking them how they were doing and if they could pray with them. More than 10,000 people showed up throughout the day, and the community was impacted by God’s love through people willing to dream big and not care who received the credit.

Outreach should come from knowing God and wanting to share His love with others no matter where we are. Outreach can happen on the beach, street, at the store, school, work, online, bar, barber shop, next door, bank, on a plane…whenever and wherever. It’s more of a lifestyle than an event. So let’s get out of our comfortable heated aquariums and paddle out into the ocean. I know it’s scary, but God is with you."

Friday, September 08, 2006

We Can Learn to Pray

William Law reminds us that prayer is something that will improve with use and time...

"They, therefore, who are hasty in their devotions and think a little will do, are strangers both to the nature of devotion and the nature of man; they do not know that they are to learn to pray, and that prayer is to be learnt as they learn other things, by frequency, constancy, and perseverance."

Thus, the lesson is to simply keep at it--until revival comes! And even still, we continue to pray.


Thursday, September 07, 2006

On the Death of Steve Irwin, Crocodile Hunter

Good morning. I appreciated the thoughts on the recent death of Steve Irwin (

"The death of the conservationist Steve Irwin is widely reported in the world media.1 Irwin was a larger than life and controversial character who for many years championed the cause of crocodiles in Australia. Along with his wife Terri he founded “Australia Zoo” in Queensland,2 and such was their devotion to the cause of endangered species that they even went in search of crocodiles on their honeymoon.

One aspect of Irwin’s life stands out. He was unashamedly enthusiastic about the wonders of the natural world. Children adored him because he showed them what it might mean to love animals whether great or small. The sight of Irwin wrestling a mammoth crocodile or running in the desert to catch a scorpion was almost guaranteed to implant in children a playful delight in living beings. Tragically there is no indication that Irwin was a Christian, indeed, he and his wife welcomed their children into the world with Buddhist ceremonies. Yet his life is one long rebuke to Christians who take little delight in their Father’s world. If a man could love the creation this much and not know the Creator—how much more should those who love God take delight in the work of His hands?"

Footnotes :

1 Paul Tait, “Crocodile Hunter Killed by Stingray,” The Washington Times, September 5, 2006, (accessed September 5, 2006).

2 The Crocodile Hunter Website,

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

What Causes Atheism?

Brennan Manning writes that Christians who do not walk the talk can is a primary reason why there are atheists among us...

"The single greatest cause of atheism in the world today is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, then walk out the door, and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable" (Free at Last: The Movie)

Simply put, we are to live the life. Jesus made that clear in Matthew 5.16: In the same way, let you light shine before others so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven (ESV)

If Manning is correct in his assessment, then not only do we need to live as Jesus intended; but we also need to pray that we will shine the light of Jesus and that the Holy Spirit will transform hearts as we do shine. Does that make sense?

Have a great day


Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire

Jim Cymbala's book, "Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire" is a good reminder why we must continue to pray until revival comes. In the book, he wrote how persistent prayer brought back his daughter Chrissy from a wayward life. He writes:

"Through all this, (my wife) Carol and I learned as never before that persistent calling upon the Lord breaks through every stronghold of the devil, for nothing is impossible with God. For Christians in these troubled times, there is simply no other way" (p. 66).

There really is no other way for the Kingdom of God to advance around us unless we consistently cry out to the Lord.

Have a great day