Sunday, December 31, 2006

Prayer devotional part 3

“In Jesus name” what’s that?

Jesus says, “Whatever you ask in my name I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son; if you ask anything in my name, I will do it” (John 14:13–14). He also says that he chose his disciples “so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give it to you” (John 15:16). Similarly, he says, “…if you ask anything of the Father, he will give it to you in my name. Until now you have asked nothing in my name; ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:23–24). But what does this mean?

Clearly it does not simply mean adding the phrase “in Jesus’ name” after every prayer, because Jesus did not say, “If you ask anything and add the words “in Jesus’ name’ after your prayer, I will do it.” Jesus is not merely speaking about adding certain words as if these were a kind of magical formula that would give power to our prayers. In fact, none of the prayers recorded in Scripture have the phrase “in Jesus’ name” at the end of them (see Matt. 6:9–13; Acts 1:24–25; 4:24–30;2 7:59; 9:13–14; 10:14; Rev. 6:10; 22:20).

To come in the name of someone means that another person has authorized us to come on his authority, not on our own. In Acts 3:6, Peter commands the lame man, “in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk”, he is speaking on the authority of Jesus, not on his own authority (see also Acts 16:18 and 1 Cor. 5:4). Praying in Jesus’ name is therefore a prayer made on his authority.

Does this mean that it is wrong to add “in Jesus’ name” to the end of our prayers? It is certainly not wrong, as long as we understand what is meant by it, and that it is not necessary to do so. There may be some danger, however, if we add this phrase to every public or private prayer we make, for very soon it will become to people simply a formula to which they attach very little meaning and say without thinking about it. (largely influenced by Grudem's Systematic Theology)

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Friday, December 29, 2006

Prayer devotional part 2

I have been invited to write a few prayer devotionals for an upcoming 40 days of prayer. I would appreciate any feedback you might have on the following sample. I might post more of these as I complete them if time allows. Each one needs to be roughly a 1/2 page, and needs to be written for the average church member at my church.


Should I keep praying the same prayer over and over again?

Read Matthew 6:7-8 and Luke 18:1-8

It is ironic that the warning against meaningless repetition of prayer in Matthew 6:7-8 comes immediately before the Lord’s Prayer. The Lord’s Prayer is without a doubt the most often repeated without meaning passage of the Bible. A similar pattern was in place in the pagan first-century Greek and Romans, where it was a common belief that repetitive prayer was a way to get their god’s attention. The repetition was also to make sure their gods heard correctly and to convince the gods that the prayers’ request was worth granting.

As Christians, prayer is not for the purpose of informing God. Rather our prayers express to him (and ourselves) our inability to meet our own needs. Biblical prayer is an act of faith and an expression of our dependence upon God. Meaningless repetition signifies dependence on oneself to manipulate or badger God into compliance with what we want.

In Luke 18:1-8 we see that when we come before God with patient persistence and not meaningless repetition that he will hear our pleas. Through our persistence we build our relationship with God and open ourselves to seeing things as God sees them. With persistence we come to the place where we can truly pray “Not my will thine be done.”

Holy Father, we thank you for the opportunity to be in relationship with you. We thank you for allowing us to be open and honest with you in our prayers. We pray that our desires are your desires so that your will may be done here on earth as it is in heaven. Lord let us be a people of your will. AMEN

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Prayer devotional...

I have been invited to write a few prayer devotionals for an upcoming 40 days of prayer. I would appreciate any feedback you might have on the following sample. I might post more of these as I complete them if time allows. Each one needs to be roughly a 1/2 page, and needs to be written for the average church member at my church.


Praying with the wrong motives

Read James 4:2-3
2 You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it.

3 And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.

James tells us in 4:2 “You do not have, because you do not ask.” He is implying that our failure to ask deprives us of what God would otherwise have given to us. We also see this affirmed in Jesus’ teaching in Luke 11:9-10 where Jesus states “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find…” Jesus and James both make a clear connection between seeking things from God and receiving them.

This is not to imply that God is a great wish giver in the sky. He is far from it! Most of us have seen or experience a young child in the toy section of a department store trying to get his or her way by throwing a tantrum. In the same way a wise parent does not give into the child’s selfish desires, so God deals with us. James 4:3 identifies that God will not honor those wanting things for the wrong reasons. We must come before Him in humility and repentance, not with pride demanding our desires be met. When our desires seek to match those of God, He will honor our prayers. God wants to honor your prayers, but you must first put God at the center of our relationship, not our desires.

Prayer Exercise: Ask yourself, have you been seeking what God wants or what you want?

Gracious Lord, we pray that you would show us your will, so that we may share in your desires. We ask for your forgiveness for all the times we have tried to impose our desires upon you. Pray that you would open our eyes and our hearts to see the world as you see it. We lay our selfish desires at your feet. AMEN

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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Resurgence Conference Spring 2007

Where the Hand of God and the Hands of Men Meet

In the shifting sands of churches today the doctrine of God has taken the back burner to more cultural hot buttons. This should alarm the church, as many of the debated issues center on the doctrine of God. If you trace back one of the more prevalent disagreements of today you begin to realize it started with the shaky doctrine of God being held by that group. Resurgence is glad to bring in Dr. Bruce Ware from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary to Mars Hill Church's Ballard Campus. Dr. Ware is an accomplished professor and writer in this field and will encourage the church in the three messages on the providence of God. This conference is starting just after the Acts 29 Network boot camp in Seattle. As well Dr. Ware will be preaching on Sunday March 25th at Mars Hill Church. The price of the Resurgence Conference 2007 is $25. To register click here. Also, follow this link to download the Welcome Packet (including directions, lodging and food information).

Conference Schedule

Friday, March 23rd 7pm
Session 1: Uncertain Hands of God and Men: Providence in Process Thought and Open Theism

Saturday March 24th, 10am
Session 2: Independent Hands of God and Men: Providence in Classic Arminianism

Saturday March 24th, 12pm
Lunch - on your own

Saturday March 24th, 1:30pm
Session 3: Coordinated Hands of God and Men: Providence in the Reformed Tradition

This Resurgence event will be held directly following the Acts 29 Network Boot Camp. For more details on this event, go to:

There is no childcare for this event.
Mars Hill Church
1401 NW Leary Way
Seattle, Washington
United States

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Saturday, December 23, 2006

What Would Not Be If Jesus Had Not Been

The following was written by Pastor Sam Crabtree of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, MN. Pastor John Piper read it to his congregation Dec. 23, 2006. I have had the opportunity to meet Sam Crabtree on a number of occasions, and he is a wonderful God-fearing and loving man. You can see that fully reflected in this letter.


Dear Bethlehem Family,

I believe I speak for all the staff and elders when I pray that during this Christmas season and at all times God would enable you to treasure his incarnate and risen son above all else.

Have you ever asked yourself what would be different if Jesus had never been born? If Jesus had not come in the fullness of time and been born of a woman and fulfilled the law, there would be no Bethlehem and this staff photo would not be possible.

If Jesus had not been born:

  • This would not be the year of our Lord 2006.
  • We would never hear a single Christmas carol or Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus.
  • No city would be named St. Paul or St. Petersburg or Corpus Christi.
  • We would have never heard of William Tyndale, John Wycliffe, John Knox, Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Wesley, John Hus, Billy Graham, Elizabeth Elliot, Amy Carmichael, Corrie Ten Boom, Fanny Crosby, Alexander Solzenitzen, C.S. Lewis, Chuck Swindoll, C.J. Mahaney, John Piper, or… make a list of your own.
  • There would be no organizations such as Wycliffe Bible Translators, Campus Crusade for Christ, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Navigators, Bethel University, KTIS, The Red Cross, Methodist Hospital, The Salvation Army, Christian Book Sellers Association, National Association of Evangelicals, Princeton, Harvard, Yale, Purdue, and countless others.
  • We would have no such books as Tale of Two Cities, Dickens’s Christmas Carol, or even The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.
  • We have no movies such as Ben Hur, The Cross and the Switchblade, Chariots of Fire, Narnia, and scores of others.
  • We would never ever had heard such songs as “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name,” “Fairest Lord Jesus,” “Joy to the World.”
  • Idioms would never have been brought into our language such as the Good Samaritan, the prodigal son, lost sheep, or any of Jesus’ other parables.
  • We would not have teachings that have entered our every day speech such as turn the other cheek, go the second mile, do unto others as you would have them do unto you, and love your enemies.
  • It’s unlikely that this continent would have seen the arrival of the Pilgrims, and if they had come by some other name, years later President Washington could have been King George instead.
  • It could be easily argued that the United States Founding documents would not be what they are.
  • There would be no Desiring God ministries and no Bethlehem bookstore.
  • The Wuaorani Indians of Ecuador would still kill white men instead of baptizing their children.
  • The Arawakan Indians of the Caribbean would still be cannibals.
  • Descendents of the Mayans in Chiapas, Mexico, would still sacrifice their children instead of teaching them to praise the true Creator.
  • Prophecies would remain unfulfilled, the serpent would not be crushed, we would not be delivered, and God would be a liar. Death would not be conquered.
  • The New Testament would never have been written.
  • There would be no mediator between God and man, for the man Christ Jesus would not have been born. We would remain dead in our trespasses and sins, the veil not yet rent.

But he was born! May the realization of the sweeping impact of his birth, life, death, and resurrection join with the heartfelt greetings of the staff to bring you a very Merry Christmas!

Pastor Sam

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Friday, December 22, 2006

Study with a Side of Danish

The largest study ever published on homosexual "marriage" was recently released by the first country to legalize it--Denmark. In a culture known for its approval of alternative lifestyles, researchers were able to analyze over two million people and the factors that contributed to homosexuals' relationships. Concentrating on a 12-year period, Morten Frisch and Anders Hviid looked for common threads between those choosing to marry a homosexual and their family background. They discovered that a child's home life largely motivated his decision making. The data suggests that men who marry same-sex partners are more likely to have been raised in a family with unstable parental relationships--particularly, absent or unknown fathers and divorced parents. The findings on women who marry homosexually were less pronounced but still associated with a childhood marked by a broken family. One of the more surprising statistics notes that men who lived with both parents continually from birth to age 18 are significantly less likely to enter a homosexual union. On the contrary, men who did not live with both parents until age 18 were 56%-76% more likely to "marry" another man. The researchers conclude by saying, "Whatever ingredients determine a person's sexual preferences and marital choices, our population-based study shows that parental interactions are important." Notice they didn't say "parental genes" were important but family structures. A study of this magnitude should breathe new life into the value of saving the traditional family.

Additional Resources

Environmental factors & homosexuality

Comparing the Lifestyles of Homosexual Couples to Married Couples

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Monday, December 18, 2006

Christmas Church Services at Crossroads Church and Eagle Brook Church

If you are in the Eastern half of the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area and are looking for a church to attend for Christmas, I would highly recommend either of the following churches. Eagle Brook has the North covered, and Crossroads covers the South side. Both churches will have fantastic services where Jesus will be the focus. If you have friends or families, bring them along too! Both churches use a ticketing system to help have a better distribution of attendance through all their services so everyone can get a seat. No cost for the tickets, just a way to help them in their planning. Tickets are not mandatory, but it is appreciated if you can utilize this system.

Crossroads Church in Cottage Grove, MN

Christmas Service Times: Saturday at 5 pm (December 23), Sunday at 9 & 11 am, 4 & 6 pm, and midnight.

Tickets: in order to alleviate overcrowding we've gone to a FREE ticket system. Please take as many tickets (at the Info Table) as needed for the service you're planning on attending. As of right now, all service times are open. We'll keep you posted.

Serving Opportunities: We still need dozens of volunteers to help with things like parking lot attendants, ushers, greeters, and nursery workers. We'll have many guests attending Crossroads this special weekend and we need our regulars to acts as hosts to make them feel welcome. An insert with the needs is in this week's program.

Invites: Once again we have special Invite Cards to use as a simple tool to hand to those you'd like to invite. People ARE looking for a church to attend on Christmas Eve. We'd LOVE for them to attend here. We've put more creative energy into this service than any in the past. People will be touched and moved by the Nativity story. Please don't miss this opportunity to impact a life. We also have E-Invites you can send via our web site:

Prayer Changes Everything: We believe that…and that's why we're having a 24 hour prayer vigil starting on Friday morning, December 23. If you can come in for 20 minutes or so and pray for God's Spirit to move and work through our Christmas Eve services, we'd be so pleased! Sign ups are at the booth right outside the Sanctuary in the Lobby. We also want to invite you to pray during one of our 6 services. A special room has been designated and info is available at the booth mentioned above.

Eagle Brook Church, Lino Lakes, MN and White Bear Lake, MN:

Lino Lakes: 2 pm on Sunday, Dec. 24

Christmas tickets are going fast—please help us continue planning and spreading out attendance across all service times by reserving tickets for the service of your choice online below.

Lino Lakes

Friday, Dec. 22 at 7 pm

Saturday, Dec. 23 at 4 pm (FULL) & 6 pm

Sunday, Dec. 24 at 9 am, 11 am (FULL), 2 pm and 11 pm

White Bear Lake

Christmas at The Edge: Saturday, Dec. 23 at 6 & 7:30 pm

Christmas at The Brook: Sunday, Dec. 24 at 9 & 11 am

In order to make sure there will be enough open seats for walk-ins Christmas weekend, advance tickets are no longer available for services marked FULL. There will be seats available, however, if that is the only service you are able to attend.

Get Tickets Online Ticket FAQs

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Different by Design - Albert Mohler and Ligon Duncan

I got this in my inbox today and wanted to share it with everyone. Yes, I did register.

Location: Minneapolis Convention Center, Room 200
Time: 7:30 am - 8:15 am - Continental breakfast
8:15 am - 12:00 pm - Conference

Register online by clicking here.

The deadline to register for the conference is January 15, 2007.
Co-sponsored by
Fidelis Foundation and
The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood

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Monday, December 11, 2006

Mark Driscoll: Preaching and Teaching Jesus from Scripture

Justin Taylor put together these links so I am going to steal them from his blog. I got the podcasts of all of these so I never had to "look up" their actual web addresses.

I listened to/viewed all of these a couple of times already, and the first one is one of the most compelling messages you'll hear from Driscoll ever. He has preached all fall on some similar subject, and in fact if you listen to these messages and then listen to his sermons in the "Vintage Jesus" series he's been doing the past 10 weeks you'll find considerable overlap. Excellent stuff presented in a no-holds-barred both barrels blasting way. I burn these onto CD's and listen to them when I drive to and from work (roughly 45 minutes of time 4-5 days a week). (Photo by Timmy)

Here are some links to Mark Driscoll teaching on the topic of "Preaching and Teaching Jesus from Scripture." This was a seminar delivered on September 12, 2006 at the regional Acts 29 conference.

Part 1 (Audio | Video) -- Current Perspectives on Preaching
Part 2 (Audio | Video) -- Reflections on the Narrative Preaching Trend
Part 3 (Audio | Video) -- Epistemological and Hermeneutical Implications on Preaching
Part 4 (Audio | Video) -- Historical Lessons on Preaching
Part 5 (Audio | Video) -- Ten Cautions & Encouragements for Preachers

The links will take you to outlines for each part, as well as options to stream or download both the audio and video.

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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Dr. Andreas Kostenberger on Tithing

To those who might find my blog from Pastor Phil Print's blog I would like to welcome you! I would also like to state that Phil and I are not at odds over this issue. Having heard a bit of Phil's further explanation on tithing during the Q&A session Sunday, I think he and I are pretty close in our thinking on this issue. I do think that tithing is a good thing, and that for most Christians tithing should be the starting point, not the end of our giving. I felt Phil's heart struggle when he read the question in church about a single mother living on minimum wage wondering whether she MUST tithe. It breaks my heart that there are those in that situation. I think that we as a church need to find ways to help her out in her situation in Christian love and charity without being patronizing or demeaning because of her current financial and life situation. I think that is what the Book of Acts is teaching about, where those who had excess went and sold it to give to those who were in need. If I have something that my brother or sister needs I cannot be so tied to the things of this world that I am unwilling to give it or share it. It is a difficult thing for us who have so much to understand and practice, but we are called to this level of sacrifice by the one who made the greatest of sacrifices, Christ.

The following was written by Dr. Andreas Kostenberger. Andreas J. Köstenberger serves as Professor of New Testament and Director of Ph.D./Th.M. Studies at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is a prolific author, distinguished evangelical scholar, and Editor of the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society.

I appreciate him putting this out there, as it is a clear and concise address of the question of whether tithing is Biblical. Hat Tip to Paul S. (in the comments a few posts back) who pointed me to Dr. Kostenberger's blog "Biblical Foundations" where this was originally posted.


The word “tithe” literally means “tenth” and is commonly used to refer to the requirement to give ten percent of one’s income to God. However, from the outset, it should be noted that nowhere was money ever tithed. The tithe in the Old Testament always referred to produce from the ground or herds. Some may respond that this is the case because people lived in an agricultural society. While this is true, however, “money” is mentioned about thirty times in Genesis alone (e.g., Gen. 17: 12, 13, 23, 27; 31:15; 33:19; etc.). Therefore, before tithing is ever mentioned in the Mosaic Law (Lev. 27:30), money has been referred to about forty times. The last reference to money before tithing is mentioned in the Mosaic Law even provides rules for an ancient banking system (Lev. 25:37)!

Both Testaments view the tithe within the larger framework of giving and worship. Prior to the giving of the Mosaic Law, tithing was not a systematic, continual practice but an occasional, even exceptional, form of giving (Gen. 14:20; cf. Heb. 7:4; Gen. 28:22). The Mosaic Law includes stipulations regarding the Levitical, Festival, and Poor (or Welfare) Tithe (Lev. 27:30–33; Num. 18:21; Deut. 14:22–29). Taken together, the annual tithe of the Israelites surpassed ten percent of their income, totaling more than twenty percent. Of the seven references to tithing in the Old Testament historical and prophetic books, the most important is that in Mal. 3:8 (cf. 2 Chron. 31:5–6, 12; Neh. 10:38–39; 12:44–47; 13:5, 12; Amos 4:4), where people are told to bring their (Levitical) “tithes and offerings” into God’s “storehouse” and agricultural blessings are promised for those who comply.

It should be noted that in Malachi, the withholding of tithes was a sign of a larger pattern of disobedience. The tithe mentioned by the prophet is the Levitical Tithe (Num 18:21). The offerings to which reference is made were a primary source of livelihood for the priests and were required (not voluntary) offerings. The invitation to test God is limited to the context of Malachi 3 and should not be universalized. For this reason the promised (agricultural) reward, likewise, does not carry over to people who may tithe today. Moreover, if this passage were consistently applied today, offerings—that which tithing advocates refer to as the freewill portion of giving that occurs after one has tithed—are not of one’s free will, but required just as tithes are. Therefore, if someone were to give only ten percent (not that the Jews only gave ten percent), this person would still be in sin for robbing God of “offerings.”

References to tithing in the New Testament are limited to three passages. In Matt. 23:23, the Old Testament tithing requirement is presupposed for Jesus’ audience. The scribes and Pharisees are excoriated for prioritizing the minutiae of the Law over weightier matters. Jesus was not speaking to members of a church, but to Jews still under the Old Covenant and thus obligated to tithe. Similarly, Jesus in Luke 18:9–14 denounces inappropriate religious pride on the basis of observance of the Law. Hebrews 7, finally, addresses Abraham’s giving of a tenth to Melchizedek in the context of Melchizedek’s priesthood being superior to the Levitical one. None of these passages have tithing as their primary subject, and none command tithing for the new covenant era. The case for tithing on the basis of larger systematic-theological or pragmatic considerations likewise fails in that, similar to circumcision, Jesus fulfilled the tithing requirement and replaced it with a command for New Testament believers to give themselves to God and to give liberally of their means (1 Cor. 9:1–23; 16:1–4; 2 Cor. 8–9; Phil. 4:15–17).

Where does that leave New Testament believers? We are not saying that it is okay to neglect giving. In fact, the New Testament contains sufficient guidance for our giving. Second Corinthians 8 tells us that our giving should be relationship-driven, grace-driven, and love-driven. However, nothing is mentioned regarding ten percent. Furthermore, 1 Corinthians 16 teaches us that every believer should give; that they should give consistently or systematically (albeit there the reference is to a special collection); and that the amount is relative to one’s income. Second Corinthians 9 stipulates that the amount should be based upon one’s heart disposition (v. 7); that we should give in order to meet the needs of fellow-believers; and that our motivation should be thankfulness to God for all he has done for us. This is just a sampling of the many principles the New Testament gives for believers in order to direct them in their giving.

For further study see their two-part series “‘Will a Man Rob God?’ (Malachi 3:8): A Study of Tithing in the Old and New Testaments” and “Reconstructing a Biblical Model for Giving: A Discussion of Relevant Systematic Issues and New Testament Principles,” Bulletin of Biblical Research 16/1 (2006): 53–77 and 16/2 (2006): 237–60, posted here and here.

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