Friday, September 9, 2011

An Urgent Message from World Vision

Many of you may know that I am running a race to raise support for World Vision. World Vision is an organization that I support wholeheartedly and I think you should as well. I received this in my email today.

Dear Friend,

I'm writing today with a different kind of request. Would you take a few minutes to pray? Here's why: There are 750,000 people who could starve to death in the next four months in an area of Somalia that aid agencies have not been able to reach.

This situation is horrific and avoidable. Families are walking 100 miles in search of aid, and often only the strongest survive the journey. In many cases, women are burying their children on the side of the road as they flee. This tragedy breaks my heart.

In the middle of the famine, in South-Central Somalia, we aren't even able to reach these starving children. World Vision had deep, long-term community relationships in Somalia since 1992, but we were forced to leave this part of the country in 2010. Armed groups demanded most aid organizations leave.

It is horrible knowing that we have been prevented from rescuing starving people. Our work elsewhere in East Africa is saving lives, where we are distributing therapeutic food for children, clean water, sturdy tents, and essential medical care.

You can imagine the needs of a family who has walked for days without food and very little water, a mother and a father who have just buried their children. The needs there are great. Yet governments and private donors have provided less than half of what the world needs to adequately respond.

Please pray.

We need safe access to help starving people. We need the resources to adequately care for the half million people now in overcrowded refugee camps. To achieve this, we need a breakthrough.

Please join us in prayer that World Vision and other aid organizations would be able to access the regions in Somalia where three quarters of a million people could starve to death. And pray for the financial resources to complete this job. I know that with your prayer, we can do this. "Jesus looked at them and said, 'With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.'" — Mark 10:27 (NIV)

In prayer with you,

Rich Stearns
President, World Vision U.S.

Please be in prayer about this horrific situation. But please do more than just pray. Pour your heart out to God, shed tears over this situation. Imagine yourself in their shoes, but then get up and do something. Donate. Run a race. Support me in my efforts. But, please, do not simply read this, feel bad for a moment, then go about your business. Too much is at stake.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Three Books on Prayer

One of the classes that I am taking this semester is entitled "Strategic Prayer and Spiritual Warfare." As a result of this class, I am being convicted that my prayer life is not what it should be. In fact, I recently preached on this very topic. Part of that conviction has come as a result of three different books. I would highly recommend that you pick up all three and spend some time prayerfully going through them.

Personal Prayer: The Timeless Secret of High-Impact Leaders Prayer: The Timeless Secret of High-Impact Leaders by Dave Earley. There is much that I could recommend to you about this book, but it is better if I simply quote Dr. Ergun Caner: "Do NOT read this book if you want information. Read this book only if you desire a transformation. It will drive you to your knees."

The Necessity of PrayerThe Necessity of Prayer by E.M. Bounds. This short little book packs a lot of punch. There is enough "food" here to keep a hungry pray-er fed for years. It is packed with Scripture and is conversational in tone. Well worth your time.

Quiet Talks on Prayer Quiet Talks on Prayer by S.D. Gordon. This book reminds me a great deal of Lectures to My Students by Charles Spurgeon. The format is that of a lecture transcript, but it is packed with nuggets that will convict and challenge you.

If you desire a stronger, more fervent prayer life, I can't recommend these books more highly. Of course, as Tim Challies wrote recently, "I want to be a prayer warrior, but I find that I'm more of a read-books-about-prayer warrior," we need to make sure we are putting what we read into practice.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

How to Handle "Well, How Did It Go?" After a Sermon

I don't get to preach nearly as much as I would like. I am assuming a lot of that has to do with the fact that I am not even a pastor yet (I'm sure you probably gathered that from the blog title). Anyway, when I do get to preach, inevitably I'm going to be given a lot of encouragement, followed by the question, "Well, how did it go?" I never know what to say in these instances. Thankfully, Brian Croft has offered some great suggestions. I will list the headlines and you can visit his blog to get the details.

  • Receive the encouragements now.
  • Store away the criticisms for Tuesday morning.
  • Look forward to Service Review later that evening (something I need to implement).
  • Recognize your work is done.

If you are interested in reading the full article, please visit the site.

Monday, September 5, 2011

A Message from Jon Foreman

I totally stole this from a post on Facebook. It is from a guy named Jon Foreman. Jon sings in a band called Switchfoot. I am a huge fan of Switchfoot and their music has been a real inspiration to me.

Friends, Howdy, my name is jon. I play guitar and sing in a San Diego band called Switchfoot. We started out as a three piece: Tim (my brother) playing the bass, Chad, (my college buddy) playing the drums, and myself writing the tunes. Our first record came out the week after my brother graduated from high school. We called it: The Legend of Chin, naming it after my best friend. Willis. We traveled around that summer and went back to school in the fall. A few years later we put out a record called New Way to be Human and I dropped out of college. We decided to really give music a go and started touring a bit more seriously. After that, we put out a record called Learning to Breathe. My friend jerome called and told me he had just quit his day job. Our band had been playing shows with jerome's old band for years so we joined forces with jerome and now he plays the keyboards and guitars with us every night. We made a record called The Beautiful Letdown a few years later. Then our friend Drew's band broke up. He plays the guitar in our band now. Then we made a record called Nothing is Sound and decided a five piece was enough to accomplish what we wanted to do live. So we decided not to enlist any more of our friends for help on stage. And now, a few tips on making your own band's t-shirts in between gigs: hotel hairdryers help the fabric paint dry faster, three ring binders and a razor blade are all you need for a stencil, sponges work best for applying the ink. I think we like doing things ourselves because no one cares about the music more than we do. We've stuffed our own CD cases, We've done the sixteen hour drives. I feel that we've paid our dues on the road as much as anyone. But still, we never really fit in with the "cooler than thou" hipsters. I suppose it's a matter of course: we've always wanted to make music for everyone, not just for the scene. We've tried our best to live out the idea that it's better to be honest than momentarily cool. And so this past summer when we set out to record a new record, we tried to put all pressures and expectations aside and focus on the music. We wanted to make a record that was honest. A record that didn't trip on itself. A record that represented everything that we first fell in love with about music. We tried to forget about theory and pitch and timing and focus on feeling. As a result, I think that Oh! Gravity is the most honest thing we've ever done. I am so proud of these tunes and hope that they resonate with you like they do for us. In closing, I am so grateful for the gifts that I've been given. Near the top of the list would be the camaraderie that we have with each other on the road. Besides the fact that my brother's in the band, it really does feel a family out there on tour. I know it's not the cocky rock and roll thing to say, but I am so proud to be making music with these guys every night. I feel so privileged to be able to play these songs with them. I love screaming these songs out with them. And I have a deep respect for everyone who comes every night. We have always tried to break down the wall between the stage and the audience. I feel like I've done my job if we leave the stage while everyone in the club is still singing. Communication has always been the goal. You see, I want to sing a song that will continue long after we're gone. So thanks for reading. Thanks for singing along. Thanks for making theses songs your own.

I know that was a lot to read, but it was definitely worth it. If you ever get a chance to see Switchfoot in concert, definitely do it. Probably one of the best live shows you will ever see.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Review of Radical Together by David Platt

David Platt’s new book, Radical Together, picks up where his last book left off. He examines what happens when the entire of church begins a journey of abandonment to God. Platt states that he wants “to consider what happens – or can happen – when we apply the revolutionary claims and commands of Christ to our communities of faith.”

In doing this, Platt examines six key thoughts that deal with the church and then expounds upon each one. These thoughts include the idea that one of the worst enemies of Christians are the good things in the church, the Gospel that saves us from works saves us to work, the Word of God is essential in the work of the Gospel, it is not necessary to have the “right people” in order to build the “right church”, we can hasten the end of the world by sharing the Gospel with all peoples of the world, and Christians are to be selfless followers of a self-centered God.

This is a book that will challenge the reader to live a deeper life for Christ. It will challenge the reader to want to share his faith with those around him. It will challenge the reader to spend more time in prayer for unbelievers in his community and for unreached people groups around the world. It is a book that would be best read in a group where individuals can discuss the ideas and dreams that are certain to result for reading it.

My only concern with the book is the overt emphasis placed by Platt on the need for world missions. I am a strong believer in world missions, but it seemed that Platt was suggesting that world missions should take precedence over local missions. It is my belief that there needs to be a balance. We do not need to simply see those around us as a means to reaching the world. Our friends and neighbors are a mission field that must be reached, just as much as those across the world.

Author’s note: I was provided with a free copy of Radical Together for the purpose of this review.

Books by David Platt:

Radical Together: Unleashing the People of God for the Purpose of GodRadical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Telling Our Friends to Go to Hell - Why Isolating Ourselves is a Worse Sin Than Anything in the World

I recently wrote this for a class (Personal Evangelism). I hope that you are as a challenged by it as I was.

It is a sad reality that the idea of dealing with lost people is completely reprehensible to many who would call themselves Christians. Oftentimes, we have this idea that being a Christian means that must live a squeaky clean life, keeping ourselves above and away from the muck and filth of the unsaved world. As a result, many Christians have developed a “bunker mentality.” I often joke with my wife about the “Christian bubble”, although it is no joke. Too often we develop our own “Christian culture” to protect us from the negative influences of the unsaved world around us. We do this to the peril of our friends and neighbors. Isolating ourselves from them is almost certainly inviting them to suffer eternal damnation. If we truly desire to see people come to Christ, we are going to need to climb down from our ivory towers and be with them. Being with them does not mean that we condone their behavior. It doesn’t even mean that we go to the same places they go. It is so infuriating when I hear statements like, “Jesus would go to a gay bar.” We don’t have to engage in the same activities as unbelievers to be there for them. It is much more important that the non-Christian know that we as Christians are “safe” and can provide an environment of help and concern.