Written By: John - Feb• 26•15

“In the Spring of 1194, during the third crusade to the Holy Land, crusader Henry of Champagne went to a mysterious castle in the rugged mountainous region of Nizari in Syria to meet with Abu Mansur, the notorious ‘Old Man of the Mountain.’ This man was the leader of the most dreaded commandoes of that era, the Assassins, who were specially trained to sneak into enemy fortresses and assassinate a king of other key leader on whom a contract had been settled. Abu Mansur welcomed Henry and entertained him with a lavish feast. At the end of the feast, to prove the unswerving loyalty of his soldiers, Abu Mansur summoned two men and commanded them to fling themselves from the ramparts of the castle. Without hesitation, these two men obeyed, and hurled themselves down to their deaths.

Now this story rightly horrifies our modern sensibilities. But the fact is that the most loving and gentle emperor in the history of the world, Jesus Christ, commands his subjects to do something vastly more difficult. Not just once, but possibly hundreds of times a day, he commands us to die to our self, to sacrifice ourselves for his glory. He summons us forward and commands us to lay down our lives, to ‘die’ before angels and demons, before friends and foes. The perfection of the Christian life is this: a constant death, what Paul calls, in a mysterious paradox, ‘a living sacrifice.’: ‘I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.’ (Romans 12:1, ESV) This is the primary action of the godly Christian life. This is what Christ calls on all of his disciples to do every day: to present our bodies to God as a living sacrifice. A far greater thing he demands than anything any commander has ever asked of one of his soldiers, for it is a living death, offered countless times over the course of our lives. Other than the sacrifice of his own Son, it is the costliest thing God ever demanded of anyone, and only this pattern of life leads to heaven. All other physical obedience hangs on this first act, and it hangs continuously on it.” (Andrew Davis, An Infinite Journey, pages 293-294)

Our Two Journeys!

Written By: John - Feb• 23•15

A while back I picked up Andrew Davis’ book, An Infinite Journey. I finally started reading it today and the first few chapters were really helpful. As Christians, Davis said, we are involved in two journeys. The first is external—it involves the “worldwide advance of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ to all nations.” The second journey is inward—it involves the journey from “being dead in sin to gloriously perfect in Christ.” (page 18)

He went on to talk about the external journey and said,

“The Church has been traveling this journey for almost two thousand years…Missionaries have crossed the burning sands of the Arabian Desert, the forbidding slopes of the Karakoram Mountains, the measureless expanses of the Pacific Ocean, and the dangerous wilds of the jungles of Irian Jaya. Martyrs have suffered persecution and died, families have suffered tropical illnesses and died, missionaries have suffered starvation and died, all to accomplish the ‘advance of the gospel,’ to make progress along this external journey.” (page 19)

As I read I was struck by the sacrifice of those who have carried the Gospel to the Nations, but then Davis turned his attention to the inward journey and compared the journeys of Captain Cook and William Carrey.

It was said of Cook, “He left nothing unattempted,” and Carrey, who was moved by the adventures of Cook as a boy, famously said, “Expect great things from God, and attempt great things for God.” I loved what Davis said,

“We need to spare nothing in our efforts to reach as high in personal Christlikeness as Carey reached wide in missionary achievement. We need to take on sin patterns and defeat them by the power of the Spirit. We need to make ambitious resolutions in Scripture memorization and prayer and character development, and see those goals met to the glory of God. We should yearn to reach the end of our days here on earth knowing that we never rested in our efforts to grow to maximum Christlikeness. We should fear lying on our deathbed and groaning, knowing that we let some lust or sin habit rob us of the best years of our lives here on earth. What was said of Captain James Cook concerning the immeasurable secular journey must also be said of us concerning our infinite spiritual journey in sanctification: ‘We left nothing unattempted.” (pages 26-27)

Are we growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ? Are we living in the fullness of the Holy Spirit and is the Word of Christ dwelling in us richly? In the words of David, are we earnestly seeking God, is our soul thirsting for God, and does our flesh faint for God?

Praying for Revival

Written By: John - Feb• 20•15

“I don’t think the world has ever been in a greater sense of turmoil than it is in this moment. I don’t think our nation has. Whatever we shall say about revival we have to recognize this: There are three things about natural life: conception, gestation, and birth. You can’t alter the program. There has never been revival, that I can trace, that has not been preceded by agonizing prayer. You might say, “I haven’t got to that stage yet of agonizing prayer. How does is come?” Well, it comes through VISION.

If we are really going to get a concept of revival we have to get a vision of God’s sorrow over sin. We have to get a concept of how, day by day, we offend God. As a nation we offend God in millions of ways.”

~ Leonard Ravenhill

Praying with Paul

Written By: John - Feb• 19•15

I just finished reading DA Carson’s, Praying with Paul, and found it extremely helpful in my journey toward a 1 Thessalonians 5:17 life. In the opening pages he made the following observation that is absolutely convicting to me and to the church in America.

“…We are better at organizing than agonizing? Better at administering than interceding? Better at fellowship than fasting? Better at entertainment than worship? Better at theological articulation than spiritual adoration? Better— God help us!—at preaching than at praying?”

He deals with several of Paul’s prayers throughout his letters and shows us practical ways to pray and takes us to theological heights that causes us to want to pray. I’ve read several books on prayer, but the ones that make the biggest difference in my life do those two things—1) show me how to pray, and 2) make me want to pray more. I’ll blog more on the book in the days to come, but I’d encourage you to read it (you can get it here) and more than that to spend time praying.

Praying for Revival

Written By: John - Feb• 18•15

“In Scotland, nine miles out of Glasgow, there’s a great big house, a national memorial to David Livingstone. In it there is a model that shows the room where he died, where for years and years he prayed. It’s like some of those houses in India that are made of bamboo and leaves woven in. And there he is, kneeling over a bed, if you can call it that—two bamboo rods with some leaves on it—and a candle flickering there. They said every night he would kneel at that bed and you would hear him crying with his hands raised, “God, when will the wound of this world’s sin be healed?”

He fought the Portuguese slave traders. He did many, many marvelous things. Why? Because he had a Gethsemane of his own. His precious wife died and he buried her in the jungle. And the baby she bore died. He buried the child at the side of its mother. Another child he had died—he buried that one.

But the grief didn’t change his zeal for God. It added fuel to the fire. “The devil’s trying to rob me. The devil’s trying to hinder me.” And he worked with greater zeal. He prayed more than ever he had prayed. They said that night after night his voice would echo through the forest, “Oh God, when will the wound of this world’s sin be healed?”

Dear God! all our pastors are concerned about is adding one or two members! Or getting another bus to bring the people in! I say again, there can be no revival without travail.”

~ Leonard Ravenhill

Stamp Eternity on our Eyes!

Written By: John - Feb• 16•15

“But you know if God should stamp eternity or even judgment on our eyeballs, or if you’d like on the fleshy table of our hearts I am quite convinced we’d be a very, very different tribe of people, God’s people, in the world today. We live too much in time, we’re too earth bound. We see as other men see, we think as other men think. We invest our time as the world invests it. We’re supposed to be a different breed of people. I believe that the church of Jesus Christ needs a new revelation of the majesty of God. We’re all going to stand one day, can you imagine it- at the judgment seat of Christ to give an account for the deeds done in the body. This is what- this is the King of kings, and He’s the Judge of judges, and it’s the Tribunal of tribunals, and there’s no court of appeal after it. The verdict is final.”

~ Leonard Ravenhill

If the Apostle Paul were blogging in Alabama today!

Written By: John - Feb• 09•15

Ever wonder what the Apostle Paul might ‘blog’ about if he were living in Alabama today? Somehow I think he might say something like this:

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.”

The open acceptance of sin and the open approval to those who live in sin is not a sign that the judgment of God is coming…it is a sign that the judgment of God is already here.

Worship in Prayer and Meditation

Written By: John - Feb• 04•15

Last week one of my daughters asked if I had any books on prayer. I told her that I had more books on prayer than on any other subject. I guess I’ve read more on the topic because I find that in terms of the spiritual disciplines I am weakest in the discipline of prayer. Last weekend I read Tim Keller’s new book, Prayer. I think it is safe to say that it is the best book I’ve ever read on the topic and I would highly recommend it. You can get it

I loved what Martin Luther said about his practice of prayer. He would read Scripture, meditate upon what he read, and let that meditation move him into a time of prayer which normally centered in praying with the Lord’s Prayer as his outline. At the end of Keller’s book he listed five questions that we can ask to help us in our meditation.

“What does this text show me about God for which I should praise or thank Him?

What does the text show me about my sin that I should confess and repent of? What false attitudes, behavior, emotions, or idols come alive in me whenever I forget this truth?

What does the text show me about a need that I have? What do I need to do or become in light of this? How shall I petition God for it?

How is Jesus Christ or the grace that I have in Him crucial to helping me overcome the sin I have confessed or to answering the need I have?

Finally: How would this change my life if I took it seriously—if this truth were fully alive and effective in my inward being? Also, why might God be showing this to me now? What is going on in my life that He would be bringing this to my attention today?” (page, 253)

As you read the text learn to meditate upon it, these questions will help, and then let the overwhelming sense of God’s grace move you to worship Him in prayer.

Flying High and Trusting God

Written By: John - Feb• 02•15

I read a comment by Tozer today that got me to thinking…he said, “You always know that you are losing altitude when things begin to get big.” Have you ever sat by the window on a long flight? I’m always amazed at just how small things look from 30,000 feet and above, but as you begin to descend you begin to see things as they are. That’s true physically, but what about spiritually?

Have you ever been around someone that makes a mountain out of every single molehill? What may be a miniscule problem for the average person is blown out of proportion and you would think a hangnail was as serious as open-heart surgery. Have you ever been around someone like that? Are you like that?

When I pray. When I worship. When I spend time in the presence of God. When I do those things I find the problems on earth seem as small as observing a man riding an elephant from 30,000 feet above. It is still big, but it just doesn’t seem that big from that perspective.

When we worship God we begin to see things from His perspective it isn’t that the problem isn’t big, serious, or even important, but it is not out of His control. It’s like a child playing under a homemade fort…suddenly the pillows and blankets cave it—they scream because they can’t move the object, but it is an easy thing for mom or dad. God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and everywhere present…when we see our problems from His ability rather than our inability we have no reason to fear.

That is why it is important for us to follow Paul’s command, “Pray without ceasing.” As we worship and pray we continually know that God has this under control!

Brokenness and Prayer

Written By: John - Jan• 27•15

“Holy Father in Heaven,

We confess before you how little we live for Your pleasure. Many of us do not fast, because we are primarily concerned about our own comfort and pleasure. We don’t mourn over our own sin, or grieve over the profound grip that the world has over us. We don’t feel the brokenness of this present world deeply enough to pray with intense passion for You to intervene in it for Your glory. We have forgotten the feast that will be laid out before us in Heaven and have tried to fill our inner hunger with the things of this world…”

(Prone to Wonder, page 108)