The Impossibility of Evangelical Witness

Monday is for Discussion


“Jesus’s teaching consistently attracted the irreligious while offending the Bible-believing, religious people of his day. However, in the main, our churches today do not have this effect. The kind of outsiders Jesus attracted are not attracted to contemporary churches, even our most avant-garde ones. We tend to draw conservative, button-down, moralistic people. The licentious and liberated or the broken and marginal avoid church. That can only mean one thing. If the preaching of our ministers and the practice of our parishioners do not have the same effect on people that Jesus had, then we must not be declaring the same message that Jesus did. If our churches aren’t appealing to younger brothers, they must be more full of elder brothers than we’d like to think.” (bold emphasis added)

Tim Keller, The Prodigal God, p. 15-16.


  • How can we have “dinner parties” that equally upset the “overly religious” elder brothers in our midst?
  • Doesn’t this parable (Luke 15) point to the impossibility of evangelicals being effective for Christ without a daily heart-transplant that starts with repentance and joy in the Gospel?
  • How do we remain vigilant to our tendency to morph into “elder brother” attitudes as we serve the Living God?

“Oh God, give us the heart of the prodigal when ‘he came to himself’ (vs 17). Fill our hearts with humility as we boldly proclaim the way of truth. Make us like our Savior so that those who see us see You. Amen.”

I Left Paris 8 Hours Before the Carnage Began

Tuesday is for Reflection

Paris CarnageI was returning from a trip to Israel and had a six hour layover in Paris. It was a marvelous experience, life-changing for many of us including myself, and it was a shock after passing through customs to see on the monitors in baggage claim that Paris had once again been the target of Islamic-terrorists who attacked innocent civilians. It is horrific. It is evil. And it must be called what it really is.

Islamic Jihad around the world is a religious death cult.

Whether it goes by the name of HAMAS, or HEZBOLLAH, or BOKO HARAM, or ISIS, or ISIL, its beliefs and practices are not life-affirming or humane but rather, death-affirming and barbaric.

That is the truth.
It isn’t pleasant.
It isn’t what we would like it to be.
It isn’t what we want to believe, but it is time to call it what it is.

Islamic Jihad is wicked and perverse and the enemy of civilization.

Paris Peace SignMike Evans (Michael is the director of the French branch of the Gospel Coalition), in an article titled, How to Pray for Paris makes a number of cogent remarks as well as some suggestions for how Christians should respond to the tragedy and treachery of what just happened in Paris. Among those points he suggests these four as an outline:

  1. Mourn with those who mourn.
  2. Pray for the French leaders.
  3. Pray that French Christians would be peacemakers.
  4. Continue to be unashamedly convinced of God’s sovereignty.

You can and should read the whole article HERE.

Let me add a 5th and 6th.

5.  Pray for the convicting work of the Spirit in France. God’s Spirit can cut through the most sin-entangled heart. Pray that that work would be done in Christians, non-Christians, Muslims, atheists, etc.

6.  Pray all of Europe would be driven to prayer for the needs of this hour. Europe, like America, needs a great turning back to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Europe needs to rediscover the beauty of the Gospel and the glory of Christ. That will not happen without a return to a passion for prayer and seeking God. Pray that the remnant of God’s faithful would begin that process and lead the continent to throne of grace.

What Does It Mean to Know God?

Monday is for Thinking

What does it mean to know God?

Knowing GodIt means many things but if we take our clues from Exodus 5:1-23, it means at least these five things.

  1. It means that we obey his directives.  (v. 1)
  2. It means we will be in hot water with others who will not obey. (v. 2-9)
  3. It means we will be misunderstood by other believers. (v. 10-21)
  4. It means sometimes we will be confused. (v. 22-23)
  5. And in the context of the whole book, it means that God is always worthy of our trust. 

Are you obeying God? Are you in hot water with some because you are following God? Are you misunderstood even by believers at times? Are you clueless about God’s plan at times? And do you know that God is always trust worthy?

Keep pursuing God. Keep pressing on to know God. Keep running toward the One who knows you completely, loves you deeply, and paid for all your sins with His own blood so that you could enjoy Him forever.

“I think it’s the chicken!”

Monday Discussion

bedtime-prayersAll my life as a Christian, God has been calling me to a deeper dependence upon Him.

When I am completely honest, I have to admit that I have not responded well or consistently. 

At the University of Maryland, I began to see the difference that radical, extraordinary prayer could make. One year we started a prayer room on campus and students would drop in on that room through out the day before, after or in between their classes and pray for their friends and the advance of the gospel on campus. Over a four year period, literally 100’s of students placed their faith in Christ and began the process of learning how to follow Him. Campus Crusade for Christ (now CRU) grew from 9 to over 350 students. Navigators, InterVarsity, the Baptist Student Union, TAG (Take and Give), and half a dozen other ministries on campus all grew at an extraordinary pace. God answered our prayers.

In 1976 I was on a beach project with CRU in Wildwood, New Jersey. Thirty students from around the country descended on the the city of Wildwood, got jobs, studied the Scripture together and went out to do evangelism every night. During that time, based on what I had seen at Maryland, I organized a prayer room that prayed through the summer for the effectiveness of the project. 

PrayerThe room was a dingy shed on the property of the house we were renting for the summer project. It was hot, dusty, and uncomfortable. But it was the place that students from the project would walk into and pray when they weren’t at work and had a spare moment. It was also a place were each of us had an assigned time. We simply prayed.

And we saw extraordinary things take place not only in conversions to Christ but in personal spiritual growth, and the conquering of sinful habits and patterns.

I don’t understand prayer.

God knows everything. He knows the words I will use and the sentences I will compose in my prayers. He knows what, and when, and how He will answer each and every care and concern of my heart. Which raises the question, “why pray if God already knows what we are going to say and how He is going to answer?”

The Scripture’s answer is because God commands it; He expects it; and Jesus Himself modeled it. And though I don’t understand how it all works, that ought to be enough.

Here’s what I do understand.

God’s brokers what He is doing in the world through believing prayer. Whenever God wants to do a mighty work, He moves the people of God to seek Him in concentrated, extraordinary prayer. The record of revivals both in the Scripture and in history is that great movements of God are always preceded by mighty movements of prayer.

Which comes first, the prayer or the revival?
Which comes first, the chicken or the egg?

I think it is the chicken!

When we get on our knees and cry out to God, then, and only then, He lets Himself be found by us (2 Chronicles 15:2, 4) and our lives are renewed with a new vision of His holiness and plan that purifies our petty jealousies and grievances and allows the Spirit full reign in our lives.

Men and women, let’s pray.

Spiritual Maturity Doesn’t Equal Years as a Christian

Monday is for Discipleship

“Your spiritual level is not commensurate with the number of years that have passed since you trusted in Christ as your Saviour.”

—Bill Hogan, Former Pastor of Church of the Saviour,
outside of Philadelphia
in a sermon on Ephesians 1:15-23, November 8, 1987.

Lessons from the Saddle of My Bike

Monday is for Discussion

[I started this post back in early July and I’m just getting back to it now.]

bicycle 2Turns out 60K on a 40 pound bike is about the limit for my 60 year old bones. I am completely wiped. But I also got to pray through the streets of Sheldon, IL. Today [July 3] was the day I took another step toward my 1,000 mile goal before the snow flies in the Fall. The goal was to do 60K (42 miles). The next goal is to do 60 miles sometime in September-October but by then, I am hoping to have a much lighter bike with better gear ratios.

42 miles is a good bit of time on a bike and beyond trying to ignore the pain in my legs, the fatigue in my muscles, and the stiffness in my right shoulder which somehow absorbs much of the road bumps, it is a good time to pray and think about the wonder of the gospel.

At about 11 miles I stopped to visit Bob and Phyllis Hartman. Body weary but spirit refreshed, I continued my trek. There is something about a goal that drives performance. So I pushed on.  Eventually, I finished the trip, showered and began the rest of my day off.

Now the weather has changed. Every day is a fight against the wind, wetness, or cold. Friday of last week was too windy to be on the bike so I retreated to the garage and pedaled away on my trainer for the equivalent of about 5-6 miles. I hated it.

Pedaling in place for 22 minutes is harder than pedaling down a road. How is that possible? In the garage, there is no wind, no hills, no upgrades of any kind, no rain, perfect smoothness for the tire, no cinders, no trucks, no cars, no farm machinery to pay attention to, no stop signs, no crossings of highways, no deer jumping out in front of you, no dogs chasing you, no railroad crossings to negotiate, no stop lights to pay attention to, no teenage drivers to be wary of, no drivers hurling things from their windows at you, no startling horns, no chickens to dodge, no pot holes to look out for, no drivers cursing you because they didn’t see you soon enough. None of that happens in the garage.

In the garage, I can listen to the radio and sing, and worship. I can sit up straight and take my hands of the handlebars. I can even close my eyes if I want to.

But it is harder to ride in the garage. Why?

Because I can’t SEE any progress. There is no place that I am making progress toward. My GPS stays in one place. I can’t tell how far I have gone or even know the pace at which I am pedaling with any precision. I have to guess. And there is nothing new in my field of vision.

It’s boring.

It turns out, those challenges mentioned a few paragraphs ago make riding the bike enjoyable. Hard but enjoyable.

And that’s true spiritually as well. The challenges of life, and the challenges to daily walking with God are what adds joy to our lives. Doing hard things with the goal of knowing God better is the only way “to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ.” (2 Pt. 3:18)

Walk with the living God today. Know Him as your Savior and friend. Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness (1 Tim. 4:7). There is great reward in enduring to the end of the journey (Hebrews 10:35-39).

Final note:   I’ve now completed 914 miles toward my goal of 1,000 miles before the first snow.

Four Jewish Men I Would Love to Have as Friends

Monday is for Celebration

Pray for the Peace of JerusalemI’ve never made a bucket list but if I did, meeting these four men would be on my list. All of them are Jewish in heritage.

  • David Berlinsky
  • Michael Medved
  • Dennis Prager
  • Benjamin Netanyahu

They are all over the map in terms of their commitment to Judaism. Berlinsky is a mathematician/philosopher and agnostic. Medved is a social critic, movie reviewer, radio host and very serious about his faith in the God of Israel. Prager is a writer, radio host, thinker and culturally Jewish, warm and admiring of Jewish law but I am not sure how observant he is. Netanyahu is the current Prime Minister of Israel with roots in Philadelphia.

In one month, I leave for Israel and will get to meet Dennis Prager, and who knows, maybe I’ll get to meet Bibi Netanyahu too!

I’m really looking forward to being in the land, on the streets where Jesus walked. I expect many new sermon illustrations, pictures, and historical references will soon pepper my messages at Trinity Church. Pray for me and for a great experience learning and (of course) witnessing for Christ.