What difference will prayer make? Why the sovereignty of God brings us to our knees (Marshall Segal): Prayer warriors pay close attention to the promises of God. They patiently persist in prayer by clinging to his words, as if letting go would ruin them. His promises do not become excuses to relax and pray less, but give them confidence and urgency before the throne. They know their next prayer might be the very means God has appointed to keep his promise, demonstrate his power, and display his worth. They do not draw near to God without a promise, and they refuse to stay away long because of what he’s promised. Read more at Desiring God.
Preaching checklist (David Murray): Over the years, our preaching can drift without us realizing it and we can get into bad habits. It was good, therefore, to be reminded of many of the basics again. I updated my preaching checklist too so that I can regularly “audit” my sermons and make sure I’m not forgetting the basics or drifting into bad habits. Read more at Head Heart Hand.
Why you need sermons that don’t apply to you (David “Gunner” Gunderson): How do you listen to a sermon that’s not about you? How can you benefit from a talk on anxiety if you’re not worried, marriage if you’re not married, or depression if you’re not down? I’m preaching through 1 Peter, and coming across some passages with specific target audiences—like Christian wives, many with non-Christian husbands (1 Pet. 3:1–6)—all vital topics for Christians in these situations. But can all members of our churches benefit from these passages? Should we even try? Read more at The Gospel Coalition.
Faithful application of the Word of God: Reflections on James the Apostle’s portrait of working faith (Jared C. Wilson): This is the question of biblical application. How do we “do application” in a way that is faithful to the Scriptures and representative of the biblical picture of obedience? In other words, if we’re going to apply the word of God – in our preaching and teaching, and in our lives – what must we understand? At least three things. Read more at For the Church.
Making 2020 a missionary year: 10 good questions to evaluate where we are and what we need to do (D. Scott Hildreth): I am not a huge fan of New Year’s Resolutions. They always seem to be good ideas that fail within a few months. On the other hand, I am a huge fan of taking advantage of the changing calendar for reassessment and realignment. The coming of a new year gives us all a chance to evaluate our lives and make adjustments so we can keep our bearings throughout the chaos of life. As we approach 2020, in what areas have you drifted? Where does your life require realignment? Read more at The Center for Great Commission Studies.
How to fall . . . again: How to turn your comeback into another collapse (Jared C. Wilson): If you’re a restored church leader—or simply a church member walking in repentance after a fall—you may have some obvious boundaries in place to keep you from the explicit routes back to your old sins. But there are some ways your new life might make you vulnerable to new sins. The Devil is cunning and is perfectly willing to cut you in the left side while you protect your right. How might this happen? What are some ways you might fall again? Here are four. Read more at For the Church.
How to recognize the Holy Spirit in your life: 9 tests for spiritual fruit (Scott Hubbard): If we want to know whether we are keeping in step with the Spirit, or whether we need to find his footsteps again, we would do well to consider love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Read more at Desiring God.
Pride makes you look foolish (JD Greear): The gospel teaches us the right way to think about ourselves. But pride messes up our lives in so many ways. It keeps us from getting the help we need and just ends up making us look foolish. Read more at JDGreear.com.
Christ and the narcissistic soul (Russell Moore): If you are in Christ, God will not allow you to enter his reign with a kingdom-grasping pride. You will be stripped of every haughty look, every personal empire, in order that you might enter as a little child, looking for a Father’s inheritance. This will come either through personal repentance, learning to humble yourself, or by God humbling you through his working it out in your life to knock down your empire so you can be found in his. Read more at RussellMoore.com.
Forgetting what is behind? (Andrew Kerr): If you are plagued by the tendency to look back in wrong ways, or be always glancing over your shoulder at sin, smarten up the pace, look up to Christ – His gaze was always right! He fixed both eyes on the Cross! He did that to win (then grant to those who ask) superabundant grace to keep eyes fixed on Him. Read more at Gentle Reformation.
Hope that conquers anxiety (William Farley): America is in a time of constitutional crisis. Our political system is unstable, and our religious freedoms are in peril. A chasm has opened between the political right and left that seems unbridgeable, and Jesus warned us that “Every kingdom divided against itself . . . will fall” (Luke 11:17). This means uncertainty, and anxiety is the typical response to uncertainty. Throughout history, however, Christians have conquered their anxieties through hope in the world to come. Read more at Servants of Grace.
Fasting isn’t for the spiritually elite. It is for the hurting (David Kakish): Outside of knowing I should fast, I realized I couldn’t articulate the concept in a tangible way. So, I decided that I needed to start from the drawing board and write a definition. And I determined I first needed to answer when to fast and why to fast. Read more at The Gospel Coalition.
12 steps to making better decisions in 2020 (Joe Carter): The decision-making process is circular: the decisions we make are not only determined by our worldview but they also help to shape our worldview. Our day-to-day decisions to hear God’s Word and to obey his commands leads us to become wise, and thus able to make better decisions. As we enter a new decade, here’s a 12-step mode that can help you make godly decisions throughout the 2020s. Read more at The Gospel Coalition.
5 ways to pray for your church family (Erik Raymond): As Christians, we know that when we think about our priorities, prayer is right at the top of the list. I was reading through Nick Batzig’s helpful post on how to pray for our pastors and thought about how we could pray for our churches. Here are five ways that we can be praying for our own church family and other churches as well. Read more at Ligonier Ministries.
Solving the problem of decreasing attendance frequency in your church (Sam Rainer): A phenomenon is impacting churches of all sizes and affiliations in the United States. The frequency of attendance is dropping among congregants. Attendance frequency measures how often a person comes to church. For example, an “active” member was once considered someone who came twice, or even three times a week. Today an active member is considered someone who comes twice a month.The problem of decreasing attendance frequency is pervasive, and there are no quick fixes. However, some strategies are helping churches increase faithfulness. Read more at SamRainer.com.