“The Devil laughs as he looks at the church today and says to himself, “You can have your Sunday schools and your young people’s societies, your young men’s Christian associations, your young women’s Christian temperance unions, your institutional churches and your industrial schools, and your boy’s brigades, your grand choirs and your fine organs, your brilliant preachers and your revival efforts too, if you don’t bring the power of almighty God into them by earnest, persistent, believing mighty prayer.” (R.A. Torrey, “How To Pray”)
1. Two helpful articles from Ligonier Ministries to start the new year right:
“Bible Reading Plans for 2013” – Nathan Bingham gives some suggestions on how to improve your Bible reading for 2013 (Ligonier Blog).
“5 Ways to Pray for Your Pastor in 2013” – Nicholas Batzig on five ways you can pray for your pastor (Ligonier Blog).
2. “2013 Bible Reading Plans and Helps…” – Eric Young gives more suggestions to improve your Bible reading for 2013 (Reformed Bibliophile).
3. “Reflections on Newtown: In Adam All Sin” – R.C. Sproul, Jr. explains why we are also reflections of Adam Lanza’s sin (Ligonier Blog).
4. “True Religion” – What makes true religion? Erik Raymond gives us the answer (The Ordinary Pastor).
“By personal observation of my own weakness and the weaknesses of my brethren in the ministry, I am forced to conclude that preaching today is defective because of a failure to be watchful in several areas. First of all, the area of one’s personal devotional life. I said earlier that some of these conclusions were based upon my observations made while going from church to church as an itinerant minister. One of the most disturbing discoveries made during this time was the fact that very few ministers have any systematic, personal, devotional habits. I made it a practice to meet with the host pastor and to share areas of common concern. When we would finally tear away the cursed façade of professionalism, and begin to be honest with the Lord and with each other, and confess our sins one to another and pray one another, the confession came out again and again that the Word of God had ceased to be a living Book of devotional relationship to Christ and had become the official manual for the administration of professional duties. Is it any wonder that the ministry of such men is marked by doctrinal imbalance? Is it any wonder that there is such coldness of heart? Is it any wonder that there is little close, searching application of Scripture when the great majority of contemporary preachers admit that they do not systematically expose themselves to the Book of God for the purpose of personal illumination and sanctification?” (Albert N. Martin, “What’s Wrong With Preaching Today?”)
“Before Westboro Baptist Church shows up in Connecticut with signs that read “God hates you” – perhaps they should consider the possibility that God hates Westboro Baptist Church. Before they go and preach for people to repent, perhaps they should practice what they preach. Before they scream out to crowds of people to fear God’s coming judgment, perhaps they should fear God’s coming judgment. Self righteousness is a powerful trap – and one that entraps many people.” (Josh Buice on Westboro Baptist Church’s plans to picket the vigil of the Connecticut school shooting victims, “Does God Hate Westboro Baptist Church?” , Delivered By Grace)
1. “What Christians Can Learn from the Failed Mayan Apocalypse” – Russell Moore on what Christians can learn from the failed Mayan apocalypse (Moore To The Point).
2. “Maryland Megachurch Secedes From Sovereign Grace Ministries” – Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, MD leaves Sovereign Grace Ministries (The Christian Post).
3. “Hey Church Planter, Is that what you really want?” – Eric Raymond asks church planters, “Do you really want your church to grow?” (The Ordinary Pastor)
4. “See Terry Jones’ Inflammatory, 71-Minute Anti-Muhammad Movie Portraying the Prophet as a ‘Child Molester’ & ‘Assassin’” – Terry Jones releases YouTube documentary on Muhammad called “The Innocent Prophet” (The Blaze).
5. “Mom Changes Mind About Abortion After Newtown Shooting” – Incredible story about a mother who changes her mind about aborting her baby after the Newtown massacre (LifeSite News).
“. . . I believe it is a valid rule [with some few exceptions] that powerful preaching is rooted in the soil of the preacher’s life. It has been said, ‘A minister’s life is the life of his ministry.’ If preaching is the communication of truth through a human instrument, then the particular truth thus communicated is either augmented or reduced in its effect by the life through which it comes. The secret of the preaching power of Whitefield, M’Cheyne, and the other men I have already mentioned, is found not primarily in the content of their sermons or in the manner of their delivery. Rather, it is found in their lives. Their lives were so clothed with power, and they lived in such vital communion with God that the truth became a living principle when it came through such vessels. Their anointed lives became the soil of their anointed ministries. This principle is particularly true in the life of a resident pastor. The more you and I are known by our people, our influence will increase or diminish according to the tenor of our lives.” (Albert N. Martin, “What’s Wrong With Preaching Today?”)
“This nation is aggressively killing unborn infants in the millions, and doesn’t feel any remorse apparently, all the way up to the highest levels. And yet there is this outrage about the massacre of six and seven year olds, and a complete indifference to the massacre of unborn infants. And they keep saying “the school is supposed to be a safe place, the school is supposed to be a safe place”, yeah, well so is the womb supposed to be a safe place. And that kind of duplicity and that kind of hypocrisy needs to be confronted, it really does.” (John MacArthur, “A Pastoral Response to the Newtown Massacre”)
1. “Let My Tebow Go” – Atheist makes plea for Tim Tebow to start using arguments from Kierkegaard and Sartre. Goes to show you that even atheists want to believe in miracles (New York Times).
2. Why Evil? – Todd Friel explains how God uses sin sinlessly (Wretched)
3. “Newtown and My Troubled Heart” – Has our society become more callous and jaded? Thabiti Anyabwile asks if we should be feeling more because of the tragedy in Newtown (The Gospel Coalition).
4. “Exposing the Hypocrisy of the Culture of Death” – Justin Edwards posts two quotes from John MacArthur and James White in regards to the Newtown massacre and abortion (airo).
5. More on the Ravi Zacharias Praising Joyce Meyer Issue:
“Ravi Zacharias Praises Word Faith Preacher Joyce Meyer” – Concerned AM reader sends letter to RZIM. RZIM responds. (Apprising Ministries)
“Apprising Ministries Letter to RZIM RE: Ravi Zacharias Praising Joyce Meyer” – Ken Silva sends a letter to Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) asking why Ravi was praising Word Faith heretic Joyce Meyer on her show (Apprising Ministries).
For more on Joyce Meyer, the following is an episode of “Wretched” where Todd Friel talks about Meyer’s false teaching:
6. “Government Backs Down on Contraceptive Mandate” – Government backs down on contraceptive mandate after Circuit Court rules against Department of Health Services contraceptive mandate which would have forced religious institutions to provide contraception (including the abortion pill) for its employees (Christianity Today).
7. The e-book version of “The Works of Thomas Brooks” is now on sale for .99 at the Monergism Books website.