Forgotten Christian History: No Awe Before the Earthly Authorities

I’ve heard from multiple sources how many pastors and evangelical leaders are seduced by the aura of power when they receive an invitation to the White House. In contrast, here is a link to the interview that the Scottish Reformer John Knox had with Mary Queen of Scots: John Knox interview with Mary Queen of Scots.

One other example stands out from Christian history. When the Methodist preacher Peter Cartwright was told that General Andrew Jackson was in his audience, he said, “Who is General Jackson? If he don’t get his soul converted, God will damn him as quick as he would <anyone else>."

One of the characteristics of genuine fear and respect for God that comes from being filled with the Spirit of God is an amazing boldness and forthrightness yet with genuine respect before earthly authorities. The strength of Jesus and the apostles before the Jewish authorities has often been demonstrated in believers throughout the centuries. Spending time before the eternal throne of God in prayer definitely gives a believer backbone and prevents him or her from being overawed by earthly offices and officeholders who are men and women with feet of clay. Genuine spiritual power does not stand prostrated before earthly authorities.

Forgotten Christian Classics: The Best of Andrew Murray

Here are some classics from Andrew Murray that are available inexpensively or freely on the Internet. They are worth reading either slowly, a chapter at a time, or more quickly, or made the subject of a small group study or Sunday School class. Enjoy.

Abide in Christ

With Christ in the School of Prayer

The Ministry of Intercession

The Inner Chamber and the Inner Life

Dates Good and Bad: The Guy’s Side

Several weeks ago I put together in my personal notebook some thoughts that occurred to me on dates that I’ve had both good and disappointing. For what it’s worth, there they are.

Good Date: Someone who comes to the date with enthusiasm and excitement.

Disappointing Date: Someone who comes to the date with hesitancy and reluctance – almost out of a sense of obligation.

Moral: Be careful when accepting and going out on a date to be positive about it. If you don’t want to be with the person who asks you out, don’t accept. ‘Pity dates’ are ultimately insulting to the other person if he or she begins to perceive that it is a ‘pity date.’ I’ve cut dates short with those who seem to have come on the date with hesitancy or reluctance.

Good Date: Someone who is open to the relationship having romance and a future. Disappointing Date: Someone who is not open to the relationship developing into any kind of romance or having a future, and who keeps on saying things like that throughout the date.


Moral: If you don’t want the date to have any romantic expectations, say so courteously and leave it at that. Be prepared, though, to retract your words politely if you find your feelings changing; don’t expect the other person to read your changing feelings. It comes across rather as mixed signals if you say one thing and do another. Friendship dates are fine but can become disastrous if one person is defending against an unwanted romantic relationship or the other person tries to pursue one when the other person has made his or her boundaries clear.

Good Date: Someone who comes to the date physically energetic and emotionally involved. Disappointing Date: Someone who comes to the date physically and emotionally drained and draining.


Moral: Don’t expect your date to be a counselor or crisis prayer partner, unless you’ve been dating for a while. Ask for a rain check if you’re not up to the date. Better yet, suggest or volunteer to make arrangements for another time – but avoid giving the perception that you’re trying to do only the things that you want to do. Otherwise, take a moment to pray yourself over any concerns from your day that you have before going out.

Good Date: Someone who is willing to try new things on the date and work to make the time mutually entertaining. Disappointing Date: Someone who comes to the date expecting to be entertained.


Moral: Bring a willingness to participate in a good time to a date. Don’t leave your date wondering if you have a pulse or ice water in your veins. Make some suggestions on alternate activities if you find that what you’re doing together fizzles.

Good Date: Someone who comes to the date with a sense of humor and willing to share in some back and forth banter. Disappointing Date: Someone who avoids participating in exploring the humorous and who is reluctant to engage in the most innocent banter.


Moral: Relax and laugh. A sense of humor is attractive to the opposite sex generally, and is part of being a ‘fun person to be with.’ If the other person finds things funny that you don’t find funny, redirect or distract rather than fume through the date.

Good Date: Someone who is courteous and respectful. Disappointing Date: Someone who is discourteous and disrespectful, even to the point of being mocking and insulting.


Moral: Bring your manners along. I would be willing to cut a date short if someone started being rude to me. Remember also that many of those that you date have friends that you might want to date in the future. If the word spreads that you’re rude and disrespectful, you may find these people distancing themselves from you.

Good Date: Someone who enjoys masculine companionship. Usually someone who has positive relationships with male relatives and friends can bring this enjoyment to a date. Disappointing Date: Someone who seems to expect feminine companionship, like a tea date together with another woman. A woman who spends most of her time with other women or who has persistently negative relationships with her male relatives and friends may act in this fashion.


Moral: If you’re dating someone of the opposite sex, understand that you will be different! If you have had problems with the opposite sex, it makes sense to do some soul searching and perhaps get some counseling.

Good Date: Unperturbed at being seen in public on a date. Disappointing Date: Annoyed or hesitant to be seen in public on a date. It’s seemed to me that this came from an unwillingness to be seen as a ‘couple’ by others encountered during the course of a date.


Moral: Don’t go out if you’re unwilling to be seen with a person of the opposite sex. It’s no one else’s business if you are a couple or not, or on a friendship date or not.

Good Date: Willingness to share some personal details, allow me to get to know her. Disappointing Date: Expects to ask all the questions, shows annoyance at being asked innocent questions or personal details.


Moral: A date is not an interview for the position of husband or wife. Be willing to share some of yourself if you’re asking the other person to share some of himself or herself.

Good Date: Dressed appropriately, attractively; someone who took the time to fix herself up. Disappointing Date: Dressed overly casually or in a way which conveys the date is nothing special; someone who took no time to fix herself up.


Moral: This is a turn off and a disappointment for me, though it’s been rare. There’s probably not going to be any further dates. I invariably take the time to fix myself up, and, the vast majority of the time, to arrange and pay for the activities of the date.

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Forgotten Christian Classics: The Life and Diary of David Brainerd and Praying Hyde

Here are two books that were quite influential for quite a while. They speak, from the lives of two missionaries, of the extraordinary spiritual fruitfulness that God gives in response to prayer (John 15:7). Yet I would say that the names of Praying Hyde and David Brainerd are practically unknown to most modern evangelical congregations.

Here are the links to the Google books releases of these books. The book Praying Hyde is also available as a .PDF, which can easily be downloaded and read.

Praying Hyde by Francis McGaw

The Life and Diary of David Brainerd by Jonathan Edwards

CBN also had a short feature on Praying Hyde: Profiles In Prayer: Praying John Hyde By Richard Klein. Wikipedia also has short articles on both: John Nelson Hyde and David Brainerd. These would be more for background information in preparation for reading the longer works.

On “Praying to Receive Christ”

In previous years I came across the criticism of the British preacher D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones of the invitation and the altar call that are given in many evangelical churches, and the criticism has been echoed by some in recent years.

I never agreed with these criticisms, and here are the reasons why.

There are a large number of scriptural precedents to leading others in prayer in a pattern of repeating what someone else has said.

The Lord’s Prayer comes immediately to mind. The evidence is that Jesus never really intended it to be memorized and repeated by rote, but rather as a pattern for prayer. It looks like his intention was more that we would use each sentence as the beginning of praying on each subject. These kinds of prayers are also common in the Old Testament, and throughout the Psalms. For instance, in Hosea 14:2-3 the prophet gives repentant Israelites the kinds of things to say to God on the path of repentance.

Simply repeating the words in prayer that someone else says is not wrong scripturally. It is not wrong either in any Christian tradition or denomination that I know of. There is no unbreakable law that says that someone who repeats in prayer words which are supplied by another person is praying in vain. When Jesus mentioned ‘vain repetitions’ in prayer, it was about a large volume of words, not about repeating phrases in prayer which are provided by someone else. It does not in itself make the prayer that is repeated illegitimate. Rather, it can be a case where someone else understands and is giving direction to the spiritual need of another person.

Many genuine conversions do come this way, as exemplified in the lives and testimonies of people who professed conversion this way.

The fact that some people pray to receive Christ but do not follow Christ afterwards does not in itself negate either the genuine salvation of those who have prayed to receive Christ. (There is no need to quibble over the terms here. The term ‘receive’ is used in John 1:12, for one.)

The truth is that false conversions cannot be avoided by simply refusing to ask someone to repeat a prayer or issue an invitation to ‘receive Christ.’ There are plenty of people who make professions of faith in Calvinist circles but later turn away from those professions. In the Calvinist theology they may be considered not to have been truly saved from the beginning, and usually that’s the reaction that these situations receive. But the four different outcomes that Jesus said would happen in response to the gospel in the parable of the Sower (Matthew 13, Mark 4, Luke 8) happen whether there is an explicit invitation and repetition of a prayer or not. A Calvinist theology in itself does not prevent false conversions.

The statistics on those who fail to follow Christ after repeating a prayer may be skewed or misquoted by the critics at this point. The ones that I have heard came from a Billy Graham crusade many years ago in an Asian country where followup was entrusted to a parachurch organization. Very few were found to have made their way to local churches upon later examination. The Billy Graham organization took this situation to heart, and worked much harder to connect those who came forward and made professions of faith to churches. It’s been estimated that the actual rate since then is more like 50% being added to churches. And many organizations now that I know of do not count praying the prayer as a conversion; some simply call it ‘expressing spiritual interest.’ They do not count it as conversion until a person starts regular church attendance and involvement, and this is a legitimate scriptural point to say that a person is converted (Acts 2:47). It is not a final infallible statement on that person’s eternal destination, but rather a reasonable assessment of that person’s profession of faith and conduct of life.

I personally know of no one that thinks that simply repeating the prayer means that anyone is saved eternally from that moment forward. The truth is that for the person who has made a profession of faith, whether that person has repeated a prayer or not, that only God infallibly knows the heart of that person and his or her final eternal destination. And sometimes, taking the time to go over a person’s spiritual history and convictions can unmask a false assurance and praying with them can bring them into a scriptural assurance of salvation and a new life that bears scriptural evidence of salvation.

In discussions with brothers and sisters in the past, we’ve recognized that some people will go through the motions of what is presented as a scriptural response to the gospel and yet show no fruit or fail to follow Christ afterwards. In retrospect, these are the things we’ve found:

  • Sometimes the gospel was presented too positively, as a path to peace and joy without having to follow Christ. The remedy, as acknowledged in many evangelism training courses, is to make the demands and cost of living under the Lordship of Christ as his disciple (when was the last time you heard that phrase in an evangelical church?) clear.
  • Sometimes the person came with deceitful motives. For instance, a woman who was an occasional church attendee called me frantically one Saturday and said she wanted to come forward in church. I knew enough about her personal situation to be suspicious of her motives; the enemy of our souls and the hardness of the hearts of sinners keeps this from being a common occurrence. An elder and I visited her, and I discouraged her from coming to church and going forward. I went over the gospel with her, and she said that she wanted to pray to put her faith in Christ. I led her through it, since I gave her the benefit of the doubt that there might be some sincerity there. She did come to church for several weeks, but left off. It came out that she simply wanted to show her boyfriend after getting dumped ‘that she was getting on with her life.’ In these cases, it’s the wicked heart (Jeremiah 17:9) that’s the problem, and the prayer offered with sinful intentions in the heart (Psalm 66:18).
  • More often than many realize, it seems that the act of going forward and praying a prayer is itself seen as a good work, as a social ritual that leads to church membership (which is really what they want and what they delude themselves into believing is salvation), or as adding Jesus to a panoply of gods that one already has. In these cases the gospel has not been presented clearly enough, or misunderstood intentionally or unintentionally by a person who fits what he or she has heard into his or her previous religious understanding, background and filters. These previous filters function as part of the spiritual blindness upon the hearts of unbelievers (II Corinthians 4:4, Ephesians 2:2).

There may be other reasons, but I don’t know anyone personally that would say that any of these situations were genuine conversions. It’s more the clarity and completeness of the gospel presentation and taking the time to understand the person when that person expresses that he or she wants to be saved that needs to be addressed here, not the mere act of repeating a prayer. And most of the time I’ve discussed these situations with brothers and sisters, it results in a renewed vigor to make the gospel clear, to talk frankly with people, and to pray for the conviction of the Holy Spirit and his witness to Christ (John 14:26-17, 16:8-11). These situations grieved my brothers and sisters in Christ, but they did not over-react by refusing to pray with anyone any more.

A scriptural response of repentance and faith in Christ to the gospel will need to be addressed to God in some way at some time, and it’s reasonable to give people guidance on how to do it.

In scripture, the response of genuine conviction is more often “What shall we do?” (Acts 2:37), rather than taking the time to think things through privately and offer a prayer of repentance and faith. A sinner under conviction of sin does not necessarily know how to respond to the gospel; it’s reasonable for believers to give them clear guidance. To me, it seems cruel to leave a sinner under the conviction of sin and concern for his or her eternal destination without giving clear guidance on how to receive the gift of salvation by repentance and faith. And in scripture, many, many came to repentance and saving faith in Christ on the spot after hearing the gospel, and not after taking a lot of time to think things over privately and offer a prayer of repentance and faith. The only example from church history that I can think of where someone did do that is Charles Finney – and he is generally held with little esteem by the people who advocate this ‘do it yourself project’ of going aside, thinking things through privately and then offering a self guided prayer of repentance and faith.

As far as I can tell, the way that it’s done in Evangelism Explosion is extremely reasonable and workable. No one is asked to pray until the gospel is thoroughly explained, and the response to the gospel, of repentance and faith in Christ, is thoroughly explained as well. The person who is guiding the other person to faith in Christ actually prays before asking the other person to repeat a prayer. He or she prays for understanding, repentance and faith in the other person first. And this does not come under a lot of emotional pressure but after a thorough explanation of the gospel.

There was a brief time when witnessing to someone, and the time came when the person indicated that he or she was willing to profess faith in Christ, that I would ask the person to pray without asking them to repeat a prayer after me. Practically no one, even when given directions, would express anything that sounded anything like repentance and faith in Christ. One even started praying ‘for the sick and shut in.’ I found that generally, unless they were given explicit guidance and direction in prayer, that they would pray anything and everything that they had heard in some set prayers of the past. After that, I went back to giving them guidance in prayer.

One of the things that I’ve been careful about is to try to make sure that any leading in prayer is using scriptural language and scriptural phrases. When I explain the response to the gospel, I explain any words such as ‘repentance’ and ‘faith’, and what it means to have Jesus as Lord and Savior. Repentance, faith, Lord and Savior are all scriptural terms, and I find that the paraphrases seem to foster a disconnect between a person seeing his or her profession of Christ and spiritual experience in the scriptures. Long ago I dispensed with phrases such as ‘accepting Christ into one’s heart,’ and stayed with the phrases that I saw throughout the Bible, and especially in the words of Jesus and Paul.

When it comes down to it, it’s hard to see why anyone would object to a believer leading someone in prayer that expresses repentance and faith in Christ in scriptural terms when that person has indicated that he or she wants to make a profession of faith in Christ after a clear presentation of the gospel.

Sometimes this is the preferable method when the person who wants to place his or her faith in Christ has a problem with some form of occult and demonic bondage.

One of the common symptoms of occult and demonic bondage is a difficulty in praying to the one true God and expressing faith in Christ. Indulgence in such practices as necromancy (seances and Ouija boards), ‘white’ or black magic, and astrology, among other occult practices, can lead a person into demonic bondage. There also seem to be some kinds of other sins, such as extreme pride and arrogance and sexual sins, that can bring a person under this kind of bondage as well. This kind of bondage does not seem to be the natural unbelief and rebellion of the human heart, or the hardness of heart that comes from repeated indulgence in these kinds of sins, but rather a kind of deception and bondage that is demonic. One of the key indicators that it is demonic is that it yields to a believer who exercises his or her God-given authority over the demonic in the name of Christ (Luke 10:19).

I have dealt with people who said with tears to express their faith in Christ, but kept on saying, “I can’t . . .  I can’t . . . I can’t.” I prayed with them, for them Christ to shine in their hearts (II Corinthians 4:6) to give them understanding, repentance and faith, and I then took authority over the source of unbelief and bondage in the name of Jesus. I then led the other person in prayer, giving them personalized scriptural phrases to profess repentance and faith in Christ as Lord and Savior. Repeating the phrases of the prayer expressing repentance and faith came harder for some than for others, but the “I can’t” stopped. These people were then grateful someone took the time and had the spiritual discernment to help them past this bondage to the Savior who “ . . . came to destroy the works of the devil,” and who destroyed this stronghold of unbelief in their own heart.

I believe that this kind of stronghold of unbelief is more common than many would believe. The religious soup that permeates the culture on the fringes of and outside institutional evangelicalism gives many, many opportunities for demonic strongholds to enter the hearts of unbelievers. I personally believe that the growing semi-paganism outside the evangelical world has been leading many into demonic bondage and that this is partially responsible for the current vocal and irrational hostility to evangelical Christianity among some in the modern world. And where God shines his light in the heart of someone from a background like this, it may require someone to help them through this kind of demonic stronghold of unbelief.

Here is the basic prayer which I customize according to the person that I’m praying with. The next column could be a set of directions for anyone who is uncomfortable with a prayer, and several scriptures that go with each phrase.

Prayer Phrase Guidance Phrase Scriptural Basis
Almighty God, Pray to the one true God who created heaven and earth.  
I confess that I have sinned. I repent and I ask you to forgive me. Repent before God of your sins. Isaiah 55:6-7, Acts 3:19.
I believe in Jesus, that he died on the cross for me, and that he rose from the dead. Place your faith in Christ, that he died on the cross for you and that he rose from the dead. Romans 10:9-10.
I acknowledge and receive Jesus as my Lord and Savior. Openly acknowledge that Jesus to be your Lord and Savior. Romans 10:9-10, John 1:12.
I will love him and follow him all of my life. Make it your commitment to love and follow him for the rest of your earthly life. John 14:21. This is not strictly necessary as a reception by faith of scriptural salvation, but I include it as a logical followup of what it means to acknowledge Christ as Lord and Savior.
I ask that you would fill me with your Holy Spirit. Ask to be filled with the Holy Spirit to live a transformed life. Luke 11:13, II Corinthians 5:17. Again, this is not strictly necessary as a reception of salvation, but indicates faith for the working of the Holy Spirit in regeneration in response to saving faith.
I thank you for loving me and saving me . . . Thank God for his gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, as an expression of faith that he will fulfill his Word in granting salvation to faith. Expression of trust in God fulfilling his Word in granting salvation to receptive faith as in John 6:47.
In Jesus’s name, Amen.    


From now on:

  • Could there be no mockery or mischaracterization of someone who has some different ideas or practices in evangelism? Could we not rather ask each other to examine all that we say and do according to scripture, and charitably allow for differences?
  • Could there be no more, wherever it existed, assumption that praying the prayer saves anyone if there is no scriptural evidence of salvation afterwards?
  • Could there be no dwelling on Christians who have problems or problem Christians as having false conversions as an unnecessary guilt trip unless there is clear evidence that there is some departure from the scriptural gospel and evidence of salvation? Could there not rather be instruction in the scriptures, prayer, encouragement and patience with the former, and scriptural correction of the latter (Galatians 6:1) rather than questioning the reality of their salvation? It’s a real possibility that should be brought up from time to time, but it can become a quick, easy answer to question the reality of someone’s salvation rather than take the time and put in the effort to help them grow in a salvation which has repeatedly shown has a scriptural basis. Only Jesus is perfect and sinless!
  • Can there be more direction of those who have professed faith in Christ into the scriptures and church fellowship, and more initiative in our churches to love them, accept them and instruct them in the scriptures? Could there be more initiative to love them when they are going through problems, guide them and go with them to witness to their family and friends, and encourage them to be grounded in Christ? This is not insulating them from the world but rather the real fulfillment of Matthew 28:18-20, Acts 20:27, and I Thessalonians 2:8-12.

The Bible Vs. Economic Dependency: Part I: The Oakridge Affirmations and Denials

This little document, the Oakridge Affirmations and Denials, is well worth consideration in the current political climate in the USA. There is much in the Bible and in Christian teaching that is against the Christian being economically dependent on anyone. John Calvin said as much in his exposition of the commandment, “Do not steal,” and the Princeton theologian Charles Hodge expanded upon this in his own Systematic Theology on the same commandment as being a Biblical injunction against economic dependency and therefore socialism in either its national (classical fascism) or international form (Marxism, communism). It is not hard to argue that the strong Calvinist (Congregational, Reformed, Presbyterian denominations) and Wesleyan (Methodist, Wesleyan denominations) influences in the USA were a strong bulwark against any kind of social redistributionism of wealth for much of the history of the republic.

This document is reproduced here with the stated permission on the document itself. My hope is that more believers, pastors and Christian leaders will read it, consider it and pass it on to others. Although the direct references to scripture are few, I find it to be remarkably accurate summary of Biblical teaching on work and economic independence. I would recommend the following document as realistic, workable, and above all, Biblically accurate.

Affirmations Denials

We AFFIRM that there is a biblical
relationship between faith and work,
word and deed. Further, we confess
Christ as Lord over all realms of life.

We DENY that piety or spirituality
exempts Christians from concerns with
physical needs. Further, we deny any
gnosticism which isolates the physical
from the spiritual.

We AFFIRM that the evangelical and
reformed churches have been slack in
ministry to the poor in our time.

We DENY that our responsibility as
Christians will be lessened in the coming

We AFFIRM that US government
programs since 1960 have squandered
many resources, lifting few out of

We DENY that the current approach,
which centralizes and expends
approximately 75% on overhead, bears
much promise for the future.

We AFFIRM that the present welfare
system is counter-productive, ill-conceived, and substantially immoral.

We DENY that the present welfare system
is the proper starting point for caring for
the poor.

We AFFIRM that the church should call
prophetically for the adoption of
biblically valid systems of caring for the

We DENY that any system of caring for
the poor can be neutral either in religious
principle or moral effect.

We AFFIRM that God has created man
in his own image to be creative and
productive, and that God has enabled
him, under proper conditions, to produce
sufficient goods for all people

We DENY that there is inherent scarcity
in the finite universe to thwart industry or
necessitate poverty.

We AFFIRM that God expresses a
concern for the poor in the scriptures.

We DENY that God has a concern for
poverty as a consequence of sin beyond
other categories of sinful consequence.

We AFFIRM that scripture teaches that
God blesses those, especially the poor
themselves, who help the poor.

We DENY that scripture approves a
callous indifference to, or ignorance of,
the oppression of the poor.

We AFFIRM that the Church is charged
to be the major extra-family agency of
welfare for its members and charged with the prophetic task of calling for, and
modeling, justice and mercy in the world.

We DENY that the Church is the first
agency responsible for amelioration of the poor.

We AFFIRM the biblical priority among
helping agencies (as in I Timothy 5), viz.:
a. Personal responsibility
b. Family support
c. Local/area church
d. Other voluntary organizations

We DENY that the Church is the first
agency responsible for amelioration of the poor.

We AFFIRM the Bible’s emphasis on
industriousness and honest responsibility.

We DENY that free hand-outs and
assistance have remedied poverty in our

We AFFIRM that the church or family
shall assist only those who are willing to
work or unable to work.

We DENY that the Church is not free to
espouse its beliefs and biblical ethics
while dispensing material aid; nor that it
cannot advocate certain biblical-ethical
behaviors as prerequisites for assistance.

We AFFIRM that Providence is a
limiting factor for the total eradication of

We DENY that all problems can be cured
by any agency prior to the eschaton (end

We AFFIRM that there are deserving

We DENY that the undeserving poor
should be given aid.

We AFFIRM that an active ministry of
mercy is one of the marks of an obedient

We DENY that any churches are exempt
from the mandate to institute and maintain ministries of mercy.

We AFFIRM that righteousness is a
combination of justice and mercy and
that all people and institutions fall short
of both standards.

We DENY that justice is part of charity.

We AFFIRM justice to mean rendering
impartially to everyone his due in
accordance with God’s moral law.

We DENY that justice entails any ideal
distribution of wealth in society.

We AFFIRM that justice requires the
remediation and vindication of those who
are improvised by the oppressive acts of
others, and that this is the primary task of
the state in helping the poor.

We DENY both that justice permits
partiality to anyone in the enforcement of
laws and that the poor can be expected to defend themselves adequately against
oppression without help from mediating
institutions and the state.

We AFFIRM that we should not only
provide material aid for the genuine poor,but biblical counsel and accountability as well.

We DENY that real charity requires us to
subsidize those who persist in moral

We AFFIRM that principles of biblical
economics must be included as a basis
for welfare.

We DENY that non-biblical principles of
economics (e.g., Marxism, or unprincipled greed) will help in remedying poverty.

We AFFIRM that a politico-economic
system that promotes human liberty,
justice and productivity is crucial to the
prevention and reduction of poverty.

We DENY that any politico-economic
system apart from the Christian ethic is an adequate solution to poverty.

We AFFIRM the Bible as the only
infallible guide to proper care for the

We DENY that approaches which
contradict biblical wisdom can prove

We AFFRIM that there are many causes
of poverty.

We DENY that poverty or welfare can be
reduced to any single variable, unless it is
an explicitly scriptural dynamic (e.g. sin).

We AFFIRM voluntary charity as the
best replacement for statist approaches.

We DENY that the civil government’s
power to tax justifies a general system of
wealth redistribution.

We AFFIRM that health is a condition of both body and soul (spirit) and that medical care should be practiced with that understanding.

We DENY that government control or provision of health care is the best means of making health care available to the needy.

We AFFIRM that the goal of charity is to enable its recipients to become selfsupporting and able to help others.

We DENY that approaches which engender attitudes of dependency on the state for the long term are either helpful or moral.

We AFFIRM that some cases of need are systemic or enduring and will require continuing mercy.

We DENY that recipients of long-term mercy are incapable of productivity or meaningful ministry.

Educating American Children and Re-Educating American Adults: The McGuffey Readers

There are several editions of William Holmes McGuffey’s Eclectic Readers available online and in print. Project Gutenberg has nice .PDFs available, and selections from this could easily be projected on a screen or printed out for use by groups of students. There’s also a Google books edition of the fifth and first readers.

It’s noteworthy that many home schools and parents who wish to supplement their children’s schooling are turning back to the McGuffey readers. Their variety of readings from literature and stories with heart inspired generations previously. The final editions would challenge many in college (and perhaps might make some college bound students rethink the depth of their preparation).

The original edition were unabashedly Christian, since McGuffey was a Presbyterian pastor. His home is now a museum as part of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, where he served during its years as a Presbyterian seminary. It’s a reminder of the days in the USA pastors were highly respected members of the community and leaders in education. Later editions toned down the Calvinism and added more readings from other areas of literature. It would seem logical to decide on one edition as a primary teaching edition, and supplement it with material from other editions as applicable.

If I were a parent in the USA nowadays, I would make sure that each child had his or her own print edition of the readers from the time that he or she began school. The price is less than many toys, and the life impact could well be much more than any toy. I think that it would also be something that many adults could do, to forsake channel surfing and TV reruns for a chapter in the McGuffey readers.

Forgotten Christian Classics: Pilgrim’s Progress

The Christian Classics Ethereal Library has a nice version of The Pilgrim’s Progress available free online. There are also some links to print editions of the book. The online version has a number of links inline which connect John Bunyan’s metaphors to the actual passages of scripture which inspired them. This shows even more how much the Bible entered into the heart and life of this godly man.

It’s been said that the two books which were found in most homes in the USA during the 1800’s were the Bible and The Pilgrim’s Progress. Of all the classic books by Christian authors that I’ve read, it has probably the most amount of material that is truly common to all Christian theological persuasions. There is very little for any evangelical Christian of any theological stripe to disagree with at any level. There is a huge amount of insight and understanding of Christian experience throughout, and a great deal of significance for pastoral ministry in the characters which Bunyan sketched.

In an era when many believers neglect the classics for the latest Christian best seller, the video teaching or the popular radio preacher, Bunyan has probably more to say to a larger audience of believers than any contemporary author. Sadly, there are probably more evangelical believers who know more about the Paul Bunyan legends and the Pilgrims from Plymouth, Massachusetts than who know about John Bunyan and The Pilgrim’s Progress.

How to pray scripturally for the unbeliever you love

This outline of prayer was developed from a series of promises from God’s Word that I had been using in my own private prayer journal over a number of years. This outline was first presented in the Taylor Christian and Missionary Alliance Church on a Wednesday evening service in the spring of 1989. I shared it in an email with some fellow pastors in the year 2000 with the verses filled out and key words emphasized. Here is the outline in the original form. I offer it back again so that it can be shared further for specific prayer for those in the lives of fellow believers whom they love and want to come to Christ. It is one of the themes in the testimonies of many believers of my parents’ generation that there were several people or more praying specifically for them for an extended period before they actually came to a profession of faith in Christ.

Too often prayer meetings in our churches become dry renditions of physical ailments (the weekly casualty list), and prayer requests outside that ‘safe’ zone become fodder for gossip. I am afraid that there are actually some in our church fellowships that seem to use soliciting prayer requests as a cover for keeping tabs on other people. Here is some fodder for directing others in the body of Christ back to the most serious and most scriptural kinds of requests.

I. Pray with the assurance that it is God’s will to save those apart from Christ

Scripture references: I Timothy 2:1-4, II Peter 3:9, Ezekiel 18:13

Note also I John 5:14-15: God promises to answer prayers in accord with his will, and his will is expressed in his written Word.

II. Pray in the name of Jesus for the glory of God: John 14:13-14.

Claim the fulfillment of purpose of the death and resurrection of Jesus in their salvation: John 12:23-24, II Corinthians 5:l4-15

III. Pray in the assurance of faith.

Matthew 21:21-22, Mark 11:23-24, James 1:-8

IV. Pray with a clean heart

A. While abiding in Christ: John 15:7

B. Not indulging in known sin: Psalm 66: 18

C. Having forgiven others: Mark 11:25

D. With pure motives: James 4:3

V. Continue in prayer

God promises to answer persistent prayer: Luke 18:1-7, I Thessalonians 5:17

VI. Make specific requests for:

A. Them to encounter witnesses (including yourself): Romans10:14-5, Matthew 9:38

B. Overcoming of their spiritual blindness and the conviction of the Spirit, the witness of the Spirit to the Lord Jesus: II Corinthians 4:4-6, Luke 8:12, John 6:44,15:26-27,16:8-11, I Thessa1onians 1: 5. Prayer for someone else’s salvation is definitely spiritual warfare!

C. For the success of the Word: Isaiah 55:1l, Hebrews 4:12, I Peter 1:23-25

VII. Pray specifically by name for those you are concerned about: Matthew 7:7-11.