Wednesday, September 22, 2010

How to Pray for Other Christians

When I began using a prayer calendar, I quickly realized that if I didn’t have specific prayer requests next to the name of a person for whom I was praying, I didn’t have much to pray about. My prayers were generic “Bless this person and his family. Meet their needs. Protect them.” etc.


In order to develop a vocabulary of prayer for other Christians, I began to survey the things that Paul prayed for as he prayed for Christians in another place.  I made some observations from the letters to the Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Thessalonians


Now, Imagine I were praying for you. This is how I would do it following Paul’s example.
As I pray, I would:

  • thank God for you.
  • ask the Father to give that you wisdom.
  • ask the Father to reveal himself to you, so that you know Him more
  • ask that your eyes be enlightened to see all God offers his holy ones, the hope, the rich inheritance, and his mighty power.
  • ask that you will really understand how God's same mighty power that resurrected Jesus works in your own life.

Ephesians 1:15-20


  • thank God for you
  • ask that your love grow, both in knowledge and discernment so that you can see what really matters and be pure.
  • ask God for your righteousness to reproduce in others.
  • trust God to supply all your needs according to His wealth and glory in Christ Jesus.



  • ask that you will know God's will, have wisdom, and spiritual discernment.
  • ask for God to help you live your life in a way that honors and pleases the Lord.
  • pray for you to do good and produce fruit.
  • pray for you come to know God better.
  • ask for God to strengthen you with his power.
  • pray for you to be patient and have the endurance you need.
  • Pray for you be filled with joy, and that you would be thankful to God  because he has rescued us through his son Jesus.

Colossians 1


  • thank God for you and remember before Him the things you have shown in your faith
  • recount your works of faith.
  • remember your works of love.
  • recall the ways your hope in Jesus has given you preserverance.
  • thank God that when you heard the word of God, you believed, and remember what it cost you.
  • remember your faith and faithfulness in your persecution for encouragement in my own.
  • thank God for the joy I have because of you
  • ask the Lord to open the way for us to meet again
  • ask that God would strengthen your heart so that you will be blameless and holiness before the Father when Jesus returns.
  • ask that God himself would preserve you as holy in your thoughts, in your body and in your soul.
  • thank God that he is faithful to do it.

1 Thessalonians


This is a good exercise and a great way to pray for new Christians and for those you have led to the Lord or are discipling. I encourage you to take note, as you read the Bible, especially in the New Testament letters, what kinds of supplications are recorded. They are great examples of prayer.   If you have found other good examples, please post them in the comments section.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Message of the Cross?

How well are our churches communicating the message of the cross and the resurrection? What does American society understand the purpose and benefit of believing in Jesus to be?  What is the gospel, according to the man on the street?


Ernest Goodman recently wrote about a trend in the US in his blog Missions Misunderstood.

More and more, there are places… that have returned from Christian influence to the status of “unreached.”…  To be sure, chasing the least-reached regions of the United States is like trying to put out flare-ups after a wildfire.

The west coast, the southwest, the east- each are defined by their sins and spiritual strongholds. Vegas is rife with debauchery. Seattle is stricken with irresponsibility. San Francisco is overrun with homosexuality. Boston is filled with post-Catholic angst. The Bible Belt is rife with cultural Christianity and political moralism. All of these places need the freedom that is only found in Christ.

What we’re seeing is the rise of a new category of missions. Some missionaries focus on unreached people groups. But… “reached” isn’t a permanent status. Just as the gospel comes to a people through the obedience of some, it can soon be forgotten through the disobedience of others.


Churches may be preaching the pure gospel from their pulpits on Sundays, but the doors of the buildings are closed and attendance is limited. How well is that same pure gospel getting out into society at large?


My observations:

People don’t talk about the resurrection of Jesus very much outside of their homes and their churches. The message of the Cross is unclear. The church has work to do.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Giving away E-Bibles

Giving away Bibles has been a ministry hobby of mine for a long time. I have a tendency to give my own Bible away too often. There was a period of time when I couldn’t keep a Bible in my possession for more than a month. I just always found reasons to give it away. I still do. It usually goes like this:

“Did you ever hear the story of ____?”


I begin telling the story. (I also have a blog about Bible storying).

As I tell, I open my Bible to that passage. When I finish the story, I show the person where it is in scripture.

I ask “Do you have a Bible that’s just for you?” If they say no, I give them mine.

“This is mine, but I want you to have it. I have another Bible at home that I can use.

If the person politely refuses, I just tell them to consider it a gift. I don’t insist. Nine times out of ten, they take the Bible.


Last week I discovered a really great, free program called E-Sword, which you can download for yourself by clicking the screenshot below.


It comes with the King James Version, but you can also download dozens of other translations for free. There is also the option to pay for some translations that are not available freely. You can also download free Bible study dictionaries and encyclopedias and a number of commentaries. Many are free, and some you must purchase. There is even a space in the program for you to write your own notes on certain passages, which you can access just like the commentaries and dictionaries.

These days nearly everyone is online and uses a computer regularly. Having a Bible on the computer can be extremely helpful. This is just one more way to give the Bible away.


 E-Sword –>

Optional Bible Translation add-ons –>

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Thessalonian Church

imageTowards the back of the New Testament, you will find Paul’s two letters to the church in Thessalonica. They were written before most of the rest of the New Testament. The book of Acts gives us the back story and how that church was founded. (Acts 17:1-10)

Paul had two to three weeks to establish the church, and then, abruptly, he had to leave it on its own for a while. Timothy was later sent to stay with the church for a time. Later, Paul wrote a couple of letters. He told them that he often tried to get back to see them again. It doesn’t look like he ever did.

How did Paul go from nothing to a thriving church in a couple of weeks? (With a budget of zero, by the way.)  How is it that could he leave behind a church so quickly and yet praise them in letters as a strong and mature church, rather than sending lists of corrections and warnings?  Can we apply any of what happened in Thessalonica to our work today?

It takes about an hour to do a careful reading Acts 16 - 17, and 1st and 2nd Thessalonians. Let’s read through and look for clues.

1. Our gospel came to you not just in words, but in power, in the Holy Spirit, and with much conviction (1 Thessalonians 1:5)
  There is no need to look at strategy, circumstance, correlations, tactics or anything else, if we don’t concede, first, that from start to finish, the planting of this church was a work of the Holy Spirit. “Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain” (Psalm 127).
2. They came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. And Paul went in… (Acts 17:2)
  Paul evangelized an existing group. Rather than pull together people at random who would hear his message, he went to a group that already existed, had structure, and meaningful relationships.
3. as was his custom… (Acts 17:2)
  Paul had an intentional strategy, going into each city. He walked his plan and let it play out.
4. and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures. (Acts 17:2)
  Paul did not stay very long, and established the authority as the word of God, not himself or another leader. Three Sabbath days can be anywhere from 15 to 21 days. The authority of God’s word and the Holy Spirit are all that is needed to begin a new church.
5. explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, "This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ." (Acts 17:3)
  Paul’s gospel presentation was all about Jesus and only about Jesus. There was no mixing of his message. It is nearly identical to what Jesus said in Luke 24:46: Jesus said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead…”
6. And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a great many of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women. (Acts 17:4)
  Though there was the common element of the synagogue, there are three parts of the city’s society mentioned here. There was diversity in those who believed the message.
7. “Now they have come here, and Jason has welcomed them into his home.” (Acts 17:7) They wanted to drag Paul and Silas out to the mob, and so they went straight to Jason's home. (Acts 17:5)
  Paul and SIlas appear to have followed the strategy/pattern Jesus instructed his disciples with in Luke 10. (Go in pairs, don’t take provisions for yourself, do go from house to house, but stay in the one house of the person of peace, eat and drink what they give you, etc)
8. And when they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city authorities… (Acts 17:6)
  Persecution hit the young church immediately, purifying its membership rather quickly.
9. And when they had taken money as security from Jason and the rest, they let them go. (Acts 17:9)
  The church was self supporting from the get go. In this case, Jason, of the new church, had to leave a deposit to pay for damages in a possible riot.
10. We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers… (1 Thessalonians 1:2)
  Paul, Silas and Timothy never stopped praying for the church and God’s movement and blessing. (Note: they did not pray for an end to the persecution)
11. and we sent Timothy, our brother and God's coworker in the gospel of Christ, to establish and exhort you in your faith… (1 Thessalonians 3:2)
  Paul made sure that the young church was established with the right elements of a church and did not forget to train up reproductive leadership. (remember his charge to Timothy “what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” 2 Timothy 2:2
12. The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea… (Acts 17:10)
  The church sent the ones who brought the message of Jesus onward to the next place/group that needed to hear. The transition was very quick.  This could only happen by through the development of inside leaders.

We will look at modern applications in a future post. This was just to get us thinking about how church planting happened in the New Testament.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A lot of writing to finish.

Look for several new posts coming this month. (They will not necessarily be posted in this order.)


Now What? Part Three – Why discipling already-existing groups yields better results.


Now What? Part Four – How to change to discipling existing groups


What Kind of Ministry? - Envisioning having a ministry before knowing those who will receive it is putting the cart before the horse.


The Thessalonian Church  - A look at how Paul started churches… including an audio post series


Ephesians 4:11 – Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, and Shepherd-Teachers


Why We Don’t Want Equlibrium – What causes churches to thrive and what causes them to stagnate.

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