In his book Letters to My Students, Charles Spurgeon tells about a young man who came to see him and said, “I am profoundly impressed by the ministry that God has given you. I am thrilled by the responsiveness of people to your teaching and preaching of the Word of God. That is what I long for myself. What do you suggest I do?” Spurgeon replied, “Young man , I suggest that you go out and light yourself on fire and people will come to see you burn.”
Over the past thirty years I have studied the lives of God’s greatest spiritual leaders from Abraham to Billy Graham. It is my conclusion and conviction that prayer is the timeless, and often overlooked, secret to high impact spiritual leadership.
Certainly courageous acts, fearless faith, spiritual gifts, and anointed abilities help make leaders spiritually influential. I agree that credible integrity, fervent passion, clear purpose, and wise plans are important.
It is good to cast your vision, identify your values, and build your team.
But the common denominator of great spiritual leaders and dynamic spiritual influencers down through the ages lies in their prayer lives.
HT: Dr. Dave Early
If you ever wonder how you’re doing as a disciple – and a disciple maker, George Barna offers ten simple questions that we should thoughtfully consider:
1. Are you certain that your eternal salvation has been determined by your confession of sins and your acceptance of Christ’s gift of forgiveness?
2. Do you consistently (emphasis mine) obey Jesus’ teachings?
3. Do you always love other people in practical ways, especially fellow followers of Christ?
4. Have you put the attractions and distractions of this world in their proper place and focused on knowing, loving, and serving God?
5. Do you carry the burdens of following Jesus with joy?
6. Do you live in such a way as to show others what the Christian life looks like?
7. Do you relate to other Christians consistently, in a spiritual setting and for spiritual purposes?
8. Are you sharing your faith in Christ with those who have not embraced Him as their Savior?
9. Are you helping other believers to grow spiritually?
10. Do you consistently seek guidance from God in all you do?
The essence of these questions is simple: When you are true disciple of Jesus Christ, you will bear fruit worthy of a follower of the risen Lord. These questions are just mere reminders of the importance of maturing in the Christian faith. None of us would score a perfect ten every moment of every day; we all fall short some times. But as Paul instructed us, we must keep our eyes focused on the goal.
George Barna, Growing Disciples, (Colorado Springs, CO, WaterBrook Press, 2009), 28-30.
In Mark 9:30-41 we see three truths about God’s mission:
- The Gospel calls for the Son of Man to be delivered for the mission (vv. 30-32)
- The Gospel calls us to be servants in the mission (vv. 33-37)
- The Gospel call us to be unified in the mission (vv. 38-41)
May God grant us the grace to see ourselves as the least of all; as servants of all that we might show the supreme glory of Christ!
The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, but the prayer of the upright is His delight. Proverbs 15:8 (NASB)
This week continuing in our sermon series in Mark we saw in chapter 9:14-29 Jesus calling his disciples to prayer. Pastor Nathan stated, “Lack of prayer is lack of believing in God and more believing in self…We must see that God calls us to Himself…He must be enough…We must trust…we must believe.”
So how can our prayer be the Lord’s delight? Our prayers show the depths of our poverty, yet the riches of His grace, therefore God delights in the prayers of the upright. The prayers of the upright are those that look to His majesty and not just His might.
May we turn away believing in ourselves and towards deeper faith in Christ, “rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer” (Romans 12:12).
From Kevin DeYoung…Here are a few questions to ask before you go, as you decide where to go, and while you are there.
Three Questions Before You Go
1. Might you benefit from more experience in the “real world” first? Many students will graduate from college and head off to seminary. This is what I did, so far be it from me to suggest you have to work a “real job” for three years before going. But for many students, seminary will be richer and more helpful with a little more life experience.
2. Will your seminary education be going toward some end which requires such a seminary degree? Graduate school costs money, money you probably don’t have. With so many Christian books, conferences, and online resources these days, you can learn a whole lot on your own. If you are going to seminary because you love Jesus and love the Bible, that’s wonderful, but you may want to consider if there are less costly, less time-consuming, less disruptive ways to keep learning and growing.
3. Are you prepared for a largely academic approach to learning? I am all for academics. I think seminary course work should be challenging. But writing long papers, taking tests, listening to lectures, and reading thousands of pages is not for everyone. Seminary is not like a three year Passion Conference. It is like graduate school. Know what you’re getting in to.
Three Questions as You Decide Where to Go
1. Have you thought about the tradition you want to be a part of? Seminary does not set your trajectory for life, but it will immerse you in a certain culture and tradition. Southern is a good seminary; so is Westminster, so is Trinity. But one will put you in the middle of SBC life, another into the Presbyterian and Reformed world, and another more broadly into evangelicalism (and the Evangelical Free Church). Think about where you’re from and where you want to end up.
2. What is the community like? No seminary aims for lousy community, but some schools are largely commuter campuses while others have a dorm atmosphere that feels like an extension of college. Know what you’re looking for.
3. Are there certain professors you want to learn from? It’s hard for seminaries to be much better (or much worse) than the faculty they employ. One of the reasons I went to Gordon-Conwell was to take classes from David Wells. I was not disappointed. Think about whom you respect and want to be with for 3-5 years.
Three Questions While You’re at Seminary
1. Have I found a good local church? I loved seminary, but without a ground in the local church, you can lose your bearing. You’ll run the risk of being over-intellectual and disconnected from life-on-life ministry. Plus, if you aren’t actively involved in a church you won’t be able to discern whether pastoral ministry is really for you.
2. Are you expecting for seminary to be something it’s not? Most seminaries try hard to provide hands-on learning and make the coursework useful for pastoral ministry. But it can’t replace an internship or on the job training. Don’t get down on seminary because it’s a lot of note taking and paper writing. What did you expect?
3. Are you ok being yourself? Not every student can be the star student. Not every student can be the guitar hero. Not every student can be the guy with experience in 15 countries who speaks 4 languages. That’s ok. Be yourself. Beware of pride, unhealthy competition, and jealousy. Say with Paul, by the grace of God I am what I am.
HT: Kevin DeYoung
The Difference Between Puritans and Evangelicals on Communion with God:
Whereas to the Puritans communion with God was a great thing, to evangelicals today it is a comparatively thing. The Puritans were concerned about communion with God in a way that we are not.
The measure of our unconcern is the little that we say about it.
When Christians meet, they talk to each other about their Christian work and Christian interests, their Christian acquaintances, the state of the churches, and the problems of theology—but rarely of their daily experience of God.
Modern Christian books and magazines contain much about Christian doctrine, Christian standards, problems of Christian conduct, techniques of Christian service—but little about the inner realities of fellowship with God. Our sermons contain much sound doctrine—but little relating to the converse between the soul and the Saviour.
We do not spend much time, alone or together, in dwelling on the wonder of the fact that God and sinners have communion at all; no, we just take that for granted, and give our minds to other matters.
Thus we make it plain that communion with God is a small thing to us.
But how different were the Puritans! The whole aim of their ‘practical and experimental’ preaching and writing was to explore the reaches of the doctrine and practice of man’s communion with God.
—J. I. Packer, A Quest for Godliness (Crossway, 1994), p. 215 (chapter 12).
HT: Justin Taylor
Jesus the Son of God laid aside the crown of glory to take up the cross of suffering. He did this for you and for me. The private glory of Jesus on the mountain has turned to public humiliation on a cross. Instead of standing between Moses and Elijah with a face radiating the glory of God, he hangs between two thieves with a face bloodied from the wrath of God. He suffered not for his sins for he was sinless. He suffered for our transgressions. With humility in his heart, compassion in his eyes, sin upon his back he suffered on a cross in our place for our sins.