Men, Lead Out In Prayer!

“I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling;” (1 Ti 2:8)

According to Paul, men are to put away petty differences and anger. Instead of fighting, they are to pray with one another. Paul gives this command to the men instead of the women because as one commentator says,

“As a general rule, men are more likely to agitate the church…they are critical and competitive. They tend to argue first and listen later. They would rather be right than be reconciled. They get angry when they don’t get their way. So the Bible reminds Christian men not to fight.”[1]

Competitive and Dominate

Men, you know this is true. Being competitive and dominate is what comes naturally. When we don’t win or come out on top, we are more likely to get angry and fight with one another. As Christian men, however, we aren’t supposed to fight and burst out in anger at one another. Instead, as Paul tells us, we are to be spiritual leaders, who lead out in prayer.

Freed by the Gospel

While being a spiritual leader who leads out in prayer might be difficult and unnatural, it’s possible because the gospel has changed us. It has freed us to love others more than ourselves, to forgive and let go, to lift others up and work alongside them.

What the Church and Country Needs

Honestly, prayer is what the church needs. It especially needs men who are willing to lead spiritually, and specifically, to lead in the area of prayer. Men, we can’t abdicate our responsibility any longer to the women in the church. We must lead as God has called us to lead.

I am sure other pastors in other times have said this but I am going to say it now in our time.

Men, if we want our country and community to change, if we want to see people come to Jesus, we have to be spiritual leaders who are leading out in prayer.

I am not just talking to Pastors, Deacons, and Sunday School teachers. I am talking to all men. All of us need to be spiritual leaders, who are leading out in prayer.

Challenge

With that in mind, then, let me issue a challenge to the men in the church. The next time you are with a group of men, your family, or your church family and the conversation turns to a discussion about what needs to change in this country, instead of joining into that discussion, I want you to stop and lead them in prayer. I want you to do that because just talking about what needs to change isn’t going to change anything, but you praying with others will.

Jeremiah Lanphier

If you aren’t convinced, consider the story of Jeremiah Lanphier. He lived in New York City in the 1850’s. New York City wasn’t much different then than it is today. It was a place full of sin. Corruption, gambling, greed, atheism, and apathy toward God ran rampant.

Instead of continuing to complain, Lanphier decided to do something. Believing in the power of prayer, he put an ad in the newspaper calling for a weekly prayer meeting. The first meeting began with six men praying that the Lord would do a work in their city and the world. As they continued to meet, something amazing happened. Within six months, over 10,000 people were gathering daily, instead of weekly, to pray over the lunch hour for their city and the country. Their prayers lit a fire of mass revival [2].

It all started with on man’s burden and an ad calling others to join him in prayer. You see, prayer is powerful. It changes things. So men, let’s be the spiritual leaders God has called us to be and lead out in prayer. The gospel has freed us to do that, so let’s do it.

Questions for Reflection

  1. Do you realize the gospel frees you to be a spiritual leader?
  2. Are you leading out in prayer in your family and church?

Resources

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[1]  Philip Graham Ryken, 1 Timothy, ed. Richard D. Phillips, Daniel M. Doriani, and Philip Graham Ryken, Reformed Expository Commentary (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2007), 78.

[2] Adapted from this article: http://www.cslewisinstitute.org/webfm_send/577

What Does It Mean To Be A Church Member?

rmd-c6gaiv0-clem-onojeghuoI belong to the Southern Baptist Convention and so do approximately 16 million others throughout the United States. Yet despite such a number, the average weekly attendance in Southern Baptist churches all across America is less than 6 million. What this means is that on any given Sunday, there are more than 10 million Southern Baptists who are not at church (and unfortunately, I do not think Southern Baptists are alone in such attendance trends).

Now there have been tons of articles and books examining the probable reasons as to why this is the case (with inflated membership rolls being chief among them). But I would like to boil it down to one essential reason which seems to lie behind all others: Continue reading

Questions You Need To Ask Before Teaching The Bible

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Let’s be honest: teaching the Bible is scary.

If it’s not to you, it should be. Whether you are a small group leader, Sunday school teacher, professor, pastor, or anything else where the Word of God has been entrusted to you to magnify and exposit, you should tremble. Continue reading

What It’s Like To Be A Mission Project

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Perry County, Alabama is among the poorest counties in the United States.

Some studies say that 46.9% of Perry County’s residents live under the poverty line.

A study that was done just a few years ago showed 41% of the county, with 72% of all children in the county, are on food stamps, which is the 11th highest in the nation.

If you don’t live in Perry County, then these are just statistics. But this is my home. These are the people I go to church with and wave to every day. These are the people that ask me for a couple of bucks at the gas station just to get home. These are the people I’m in line with at the grocery store as they sift through all of their WIC stamps and EBT cards or sit beside at the doctor’s office. These are my friends and family whom I love.

My church does what it can but often does not have the man power or money power to help in truly beneficial ways. So we have several churches and colleges come to do mission or humanitarian work. I have been involved with several of these groups, helping organize projects, giving them tours, and helping them get immersed into the culture.

Here’s what it is typically like being a mission project: demeaning. A group of white kids come, pity us, do some painting around town, play with some local kids, and leave thinking about how they are glad they don’t have to live in this run down town.

This doesn’t have to be the case.

Over the years I have learned some principles on how to go on a mission trip by actually being a mission trip for others. Here they are:

1. Understand the spiritual poverty.

Many of the students and adults that come to Perry County don’t get that 46.1% do not even claim to have a religion. That doesn’t include the amount of people who do claim to be Christian and go to church once or twice a year and have no true relationship with Jesus Christ.

Mission trips are usually taken in places of poverty. So whether it’s Haiti, Skid Row, or parts of Africa, understanding the spiritual poverty of the people there is key. When we think that all we need do is give out some t-shirts or a free hot dog, then we are sorely deceived.

These places need hope. The only hope that lasts is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

2. Understand the relational poverty.

In When Helping Hurts* by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert, they diagnose all forms of poverty as ultimately “relational poverty.” Our relationships with God, ourselves, each other, and the rest of creation are all broken; that’s what poverty really is. When we see that as poverty, we understand we are all poor. That’s why so many rich, American Christians go to a third world country and are blown away by how happy people are, how they laugh and dance, and are thankful for what they have. Some people can be materially poor but have good relationships. These Christians believe their wealth and knowledge will save these poor, uneducated people. Corbett and Fikkert give a scathing rebuke to this mindset:

“Until we embrace our mutual brokenness, our work with low-income people is likely to do more harm than good. I sometimes unintentionally reduce poor people to objects that I use to fulfill my own need to accomplish something. I am not okay, and you are not okay. But Jesus can fix us both.”

Poverty isn’t all about wealth; it’s about relationships.

3. Understand that the best work is done with not for.

This is where it gets messy. This is where it gets difficult. This is where you go beyond painting something for someone, to teaching someone how to paint and having them paint along with you. This is where you go from putting on an evangelistic rally, to watching the locals do it with your minimal help. This is you stepping down from lead Backyard Bible Club teacher and handing it over to someone who knows the people and lives in the situation.

This takes relationship building. This takes time. This is not a quick-fix, but it is a long term solution. The people who you are trying to help cannot be effectively helped if they see you as the expert that does everything for them. They need to be empowered to do the work year round instead of waiting on the mission team from First RichPeople PresBaptiMethoCostal Church to come every year. These people are made in God’s image and are highly capable of being creative, constructive, and strong. You just have to guide them into that through love and patience.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of how a church should approach a mission trip. This specifically deals with mission trips taken to low-income areas; obviously more would need to be said about trips taken to other areas. However, these three principles are a good start for now.

 

*I highly suggest reading and engaging with this book for a much more thorough understanding of these thoughts.

What I’ve Learned My First Two Years In Pastoral Ministry

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In the fall of 2012 my wife and I loaded up a U-Haul and left Livingston, Alabama for Kansas City, Missouri. The previous May we had both decided to continue our schooling at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. I began pursuing a Masters of Divinity and Candace started working on her Master of Arts in Counseling.

When we first arrived, I remember feeling so excited that Continue reading

What Do I Do After I’ve Heard A “Good” Sermon?

383432237_54044fc2d1Editor’s Note: This is the fourth installment of a four part series on preaching from the layman’s perspective. To check out previous articles, click here.

1. Express your gratitude to the Lord.
Be thankful that you have a pastor who cares deeply about preaching and teaching God’s Word in a way that honors Continue reading

What Do I Do After I’ve Heard A “Bad” Sermon?

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Editor’s Note: This is part 3 in a 4 part series on preaching from the layman’s perspective. Previous articles in this series include How Do I Know When I’ve Heard A Bad Sermon? and How Do I Know When I’ve Heard A Good Sermon?

Ok, let me start off by apologizing for just now getting part 3 out. We have been in the process of relocating our staff offices at church and so blogging has been placed on the back burner lately. But I’m glad to finally have a little time to discuss what you should do after you’ve heard a bad sermon. And I would like to begin by placing these kinds of sermons on a continuum Continue reading

How Do I Know When I’ve Heard A “Bad” Sermon

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Editor’s Note: This is part 2 in a 4 part series on preaching from the layman’s perspective. Future installments include “What To Do When After I’ve Heard A Bad Sermon” and “What To Do After I’ve Heard A Good Sermon”. To read part 1, “How Do I Know When I’ve Heard A ‘Good’ Sermon”, click here.

This week we turn our attention from the major components found in a “good” sermon to the bad and the ugly (see what I did there?). In many ways, we could simply state the reverse of last week’s points.

Namely, a bad sermon is one: (1) in which the pastor assigns a meaning to the passage that would’ve been foreign to what the original author intended, (2) where the content of the sermon is void of any kind of biblical content, (3) which shows little concern for application, and (4) which is incomprehensible to the congregation.

But I would like to add one more to that list which makes a sermon “bad”. Continue reading

Why I Love Homecoming (And How It Can Go Wrong)

This past Sunday my church celebrated our forty-third annual Homecoming. I assume that when I say Homecoming many of you know exactly what I mean, but I also know that many of you lesser-privileged souls are thinking of a football game and a dance, wondering what in the world that has to do with church. Allow me to explain. Close your eyes. Smell your grandmother’s home cooking. Now imagine thirty grandmothers and a thirty-foot long table ultimately culminating in fifteen different types of dessert. You’re halfway to Homecoming already. Now add in a pinch of family reunion, a dash of Southern hospitality, a whole heaping helping of singing, and one more scoop of singing just for good measure. Oh, and of course (as the preacher) there is a sermon glistening like a cherry on top of all of that. Now you know what makes Homecoming so special. Or do you? Continue reading

How Do I Know When I’ve Heard A “Good” Sermon?

 

Editor’s Note: This is the part 1 of the 4 part installment on preaching from the layman’s perspective. Future installments include: “How Do I Know I When I’ve Heard A ‘Bad’ Sermon?” “What Do I Do After I Hear A ‘Bad’ Sermon?” and “What Do I Do After I Hear A ‘Good’ Sermon?”

What would you say qualifies as a “good” sermon? How do you know when you’ve heard one? Is it one Continue reading