Don’t Just Pray for Your Pastor


I hope you pray for your pastors and elders. I really do. As a pastor and elder at my church, I know how much our pastors and elders depend on and covet the prayers of our people. The church is not an organization where leaders give and followers receive. Pastors aren’t performers, nor are they caterers. Pastors aren’t called to put on a show for their people, nor are they called to cater to their people’s preferences. Pastors are called to shepherd God’s flock according to God’s Word in the power of God’s Spirit.

It is a noble, humbling, and daunting task. Pastors often feel the weight of the spiritual needs of their people as well as the needs of their own families. And they often hold these weights in tension. At times it can feel like the better husband and father I am, the worse pastor I am, and vice-versa. When pastors labor for hours over the Word and spend time texting, calling, and visiting their people, that is time away from their families. And when pastors give significant time to their families, they feel guilty for not spending as much time meeting with others in the church. Many pastors wade in a pool of guilt as they try to manage ministry time and family time.

Faithful pastors are also usually the world’s worst for taking time off. Most of us are just wired to work and tirelessly give ourselves for the sake of others. Pastors are often perpetually tired–physically, mentally, and emotionally. Pastors experience waves of emotions throughout any given week. They face encouragement and criticism. They see joys and pains. They witness growth and moral lapses. Some faithful members leave for jobs and others leave in anger. Both produce tears in a loving pastor.

Pastors also preach a mix of good and bad sermons. And I can assure you that no one is a bigger critic of a sermon than the one preaching it. There isn’t really a sense of accomplishment in the pastor’s work. There are few tasks that can be started and finished in a short period of time. Even when a sermon is finished and preached, there’s another one coming next week. So, it’s really tough for a pastor to rest.

Granted, many pastors bring these problems on themselves. Pastors need to become experts on time management. Pastors need to be intentional about balancing ministry and family time. Pastors need to carve out time for personal rest, and they should be taking serious care of their minds, hearts, and bodies. However, unless the pastor intentionally seeks out rest and care, there often isn’t much pastoral care for the pastor in the church. While the pastor often preaches the gospel to others, he usually has few if any people in his life who preach the gospel to him.

I don’t mean to throw a pity-party on behalf of myself and my brother pastors. I hope you’re not feeling sorry for your pastor or rolling your eyes at me. Healthy pastors find strange joy in the burdens of ministry. Like Paul, they are sorrowful, yet always rejoicing. Many pastors love their work and their people deeply. My purpose in writing is simply to get you thinking about the stress your pastor is under every single week. I hope you are aware of this, and it compels you to pray for your pastor.

Saturday is a great day to pray for your pastors and elders, especially your preaching pastor. As much as we all work to have our sermons finished before the weekend, many pastors are still cleaning up their sermons on Saturday night. I’ve finished a sermon at 1:30 AM on a Sunday morning. And I don’t even preach on a weekly basis. It happens. And when it happens, I can assure you that your pastor is tired and in need of the prayers of his people.

What an excellent practice it would be to pray for your pastor with your children, spouse, or friends on a Saturday night. What an excellent practice it would be to text your small group and remind them to pray for your pastor. What if you called another church member and decided to intercede for your pastor on a Saturday afternoon? God uses prayer to accomplish his purposes. I wonder how different a Sunday morning would look if the church was intentionally praying for the service the day before.

But I hope you do more than pray. Praying for your pastor should be a given. It’s honestly the least we can do. Your pastor needs more than your prayers. He needs your words. He needs to hear from you. He needs you to encourage and exhort him. Consider ways you can serve your pastor and his family with your words and service. You could offer to watch his children so he and his wife can go on a date. Maybe you could take your pastor out to lunch and share ways his ministry has impacted you. You could even simply be engaged and involved on a Sunday morning. Or at least try not to fall asleep! Paul knows what I’m talking about (Acts 20:9)! And be creative! Have a spirit of humility and service among everyone in the body of Christ, including your pastor.

Apart from general encouragement and acts of service, your pastor also needs something you may not think he needs. He needs you to remind him of the gospel. I know it’s ironic, but it’s really easy for a pastor to forget the gospel–not the content, but the benefits. The nature of a pastor’s work makes it easy for him to find his worth in the approval of his people. It’s sinful when he does so, but it’s easy for a pastor to find identity in how well he preaches, teaches, and counsels. Your pastor needs the gospel just as much as you. What a blessing it is to a pastor to be reminded of the gospel by his people.

It’s Saturday. Your pastor may be chilling with his family not thinking about his sermon or Sunday morning at all. He may be totally content and satisfied with his work. He may not be worried about certain suffering individuals or families in his flock. He may be. But don’t assume it. It’s more likely that his mind is consumed with Sunday morning–both the service and the people. His sermon may not be finished. He may be having a challenging day as a parent. He may be arguing with his wife. He may be burdened by a difficult Bible passage. He may have just received a hurtful phone call, text, or email. And he may just be having a bad day.

Pastors need their people. They need the prayers of the saints. But don’t just pray for your pastor. Encourage him. Exhort him. Love him. Serve him. Remind him of the gospel. Watch how the Spirit will use your resolve to intercede and serve your pastor as he seeks to shepherd you well.


19149367_2014653971893374_3834793165439186257_nMathew Gilbert is Associate Pastor for Children and Preschool at The Church at Trace Crossing in Tupelo, MS. He is a student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and the author of Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God. Mathew and his wife, Erica, live in Tupelo with their two boys, Jude and Jack.

Morning Mashup 09/30


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A Quick and Easy Guide to the Planned Parenthood Videos – Shameful silence from the mainstream media. Mollie Hemingway helps them do their jobs.

I Don’t Want Your Good Vibes. I Want Prayer. – Megan Hill: “There’s no substitute for our communion with the Father.”

Speak for the Unborn Leader Pleads for Life – Great look at the work of Andrew King and Speak for the Unborn.

Every Living Thing Matters – “The Every Living Thing Campaign invites Christians to celebrate the wonder and beauty of God’s creation and commit to compassionate living by signing the Evangelical Statement on Responsible Care for Animals.”

Lies, Carly Fiorina and Abortion – Ross Douthat: “There has been an impressive amount of angry liberal commentary, which has spilled over into the mainstream press coverage (or do I repeat myself?) of the issue, about how in the last Republican presidential debate Carly Fiorina allegedly cited an entirely imaginary video in order to make a crazy claim about Planned Parenthood’s brain-harvesting ghoulishness that’s totally unsupported by the facts.”

Pope Francis Met Privately with Kim Davis – “The Pope met privately with Kim Davis and her husband, Joe, at the Vatican Embassy in Washington, D.C.”

Chipotle Church and the Problem of Choice – Brett McCracken: “Imagine if God were as fickle and restless as we are. But he isn’t. God’s covenant faithfulness to his people, even when the relationship is messy and embarrassing, should be instructive to us. A healthy relationship with the local church is like a healthy marriage: it only works when grounded in selfless commitment and non-consumerist covenant.”

When You Get Home…? – Consider asking your spouse what they want in those first few minutes you get home from work.

4 Tips for Using a Study Bible Well – Helpful article from Justin Taylor. If you use a study Bible, be sure to check it out.

If a preacher isn’t first preaching to himself, better that he falls on the pulpit steps and breaks his neck than preach that sermon. –John Calvin

3 Things to Remember When You Pray


man-praying[1]As I was coming to the end of my study of 1 Thessalonians last week, I read a tiny two-word phrase so small that if it were not so profound I could easily pass through without even noticing. Paul closes his letter to the Thessalonians by giving them succinct and specific instructions, most likely to supply what they are lacking in their faith. We all have room to grow, even beloved congregations. Hidden snuggly in this quick-paced list of commands are two that you can easily miss, but once you notice them you will never be the same. Who knew just five words could change a person so much? “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing” (v. 16-17).

These five words make up two whole verses. Whoever divided the Bible into chapters and verses must have realized the gravity of these words. Either that or he just randomly assigned verses and divided chapters. Yeah, the latter is probably true, but the point is, these five words are massively challenging for the Christian. Rejoice always? Pray without ceasing? Spend a little time meditating on these two commands and you will realize just how much you need Jesus.

But it got me thinking, while I’m praying without ceasing, while prayer is a constant attitude in my heart, what should be on my mind? How should I think about prayer? In another of Paul’s letters, I believe he gives us three things to remember when we pray. Philippians 4:6-7 calls us to pray in three ways. When you pray, keep these things on your mind.

[D]o not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

  1. Pray for specific things.

The word “supplication” used in verse 6 refers to an urgent specific plea. There are some people who say they only pray for others; that they do not pray for themselves. This sounds very humble and holy, but it is very biblical and right to pray for specific personal requests. Jesus teaches us to pray this way when he tells us to pray for food and for deliverance from temptation (Matt. 6:11-13). It is good to pray for specific things going on in your life. As a Christian, you are a child of a heavenly Father who desires your good and joy in all things. It is good to ask God to provide for you, your family, and your friends. It is good to ask God to forgive you and protect you. This recognizes that all forms of provision and protection come from God. Be quick to call on God to help you when you worry personally about things in your life.

  1. Pray as you remember God’s goodness.

Notice that Paul tells us to pray “with thanksgiving.” Praying with thanksgiving means remembering all of the good things God has done and is doing. Praying with thanksgiving recognizes that God is not only able to answer your prayers, but he is also willing to answer them according to his goodness and wisdom. This is also encouraging when it comes to the way God answers our prayers. God does not always answer our prayers in the way we want or think he should. Sometimes we ask for things for which we do not understand.

We are like little children asking to eat playdoh. When a child asks this, his parents don’t give him what he asked for, but instead something better. Sometimes God doesn’t give us what we ask, but he gives us something better for us, even if we do not understand it. God does not always answer prayers the way we want. But he answers them according to his perfect goodness and wisdom. The way our prayers are answered is not dependent on how wise or good our prayers are. It is dependent on how wise and good God is. Know that even if there are a lot of bad things happening in your life or the world around you, they are only temporary and the God to whom you pray is eternally wise, good, and powerful.

  1. Pray expecting an answer.

This can be the most exciting and frightening part of prayer. It can be exciting to expect God to answer, because we can be confident that our loving Father gives us good gifts. However, it can also be frightening, because we are unsure of how God will answer our prayers. It can be frightening in another way as well. For example, if you pray for God to use you in any way he wants, you can be sure that he will answer this. But this might mean that he could send you to another country to share the gospel. It could mean that God could send you to have that awkward conversation with your neighbor or coworker about Jesus. Praying for an opportunity to share the gospel may just mean you will get that opportunity.

So we should pray with an expectant heart. We should pray expecting God to answer. He could say “yes,” or he could say, “no.” He could even say, “not yet.” We usually want a “yes” from God, but our Father who is in heaven knows what is best for us. Like a parent who only gives good gifts to his children, God does not answer our prayers based on what we want. This is because sometimes we want things that would not be for our best. When you pray, expect God to answer according to his glorious goodness and grace.


11751958_1209158262442953_3486622930933138849_nMathew Gilbert (B.A. Boyce College) is Associate Pastor of Children and Preschool at The Church at Trace Crossing in Tupelo, MS. He is an M.Div student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Mathew is married to his high school sweetheart, Erica. They have one son, Jude Adoniram. You can follow Mathew on Twitter @Mat_Gilbert.

5 Ways to Pray During Spiritual Battles


prayer11Can you imagine what it would be like to be put in jail for your faith? There are many Christians around the world who are put in jail because they believe in Jesus. Some of them are even killed. Following Jesus costs a lot in some places in the world. But Christians everywhere face spiritual battles on a daily basis.

In order to stand against sin and Satan in your daily spiritual battles, we must pray. In Ephesians 6:18-20, Paul gives us five ways to pray that will help us stand strong in the spiritual battles we fight.  If you are to slay the dragon, you will need constant, Spirit-led, persistent, self-less, and bold prayer in your holster. As you face sin today, fight by wielding prayer in these five ways

1. Pray at all times

We don’t have to be at church to pray. Pray at home, at school, at practice. Pray anywhere and everywhere all the time. Temptations aren’t confined to one particular area, so neither should your prayers.

2. Pray in the Spirit

We are to pray “with all prayer and supplication” in the Spirit. This is a form of worship as our prayers are enabled by the Holy Spirit. We pray in the Spirit because he intercedes for us (Rom. 8:26-27).

3. Pray with toughness

Be tough in your prayers. This is what Paul means when he writes, “keep alert with all perseverance” (v. 18). It is easy to stop praying when God doesn’t answer your prayers the way you want. The kind of prayer that helps you stand against sin and Satan is tough; it doesn’t stop asking.

4. Pray for other Christians

You are not alone in this war. Satan does not just attack you; he attacks all of God’s people. So, it is important for us to come together to fight against him. One way we do this is by praying for each other. Pray for your Christian friends at church to find strength in Christ to fight the enemy.

5. Pray for gospel courage

The last thing we see in this passage is Paul’s request that the Ephesian church pray for him. Even though we shouldn’t pray for Paul, we should pray for what Paul wanted. Paul asked the Ephesians to pray for him to boldly share the gospel. We should pray for this same kind of gospel boldness. Paul didn’t feel hatred toward those who held him as a prisoner. He loved them. He loved them so much he wanted the courage to share the gospel with them. Let’s pray for this love and courage.


396110_519885398036913_1852978654_nMathew Gilbert (B.A. Boyce College) is the Children’s Pastor at First Baptist Church in East Bernstadt, KY. He is the author of the forthcoming book Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God. Mathew lives in London, KY with his wife, Erica, and their son, Jude Adoniram.

Review: Praying the Bible


Praying the Bible

Donald S. Whitney. Praying the Bible, (Wheaton: Crossway, 2015), pp. 112. $12.48 (Amazon)

What is it about prayer that leaves more Christians scratching than bowing their heads? If you polled your family or church family about the spiritual discipline they struggle with most, more than likely prayer would be at the top of the list. With this reality in mind, professor and author Don Whitney writes a transformative book for the prayer lives of countless Christians.

When Don Whitney speaks or writes, I tend to listen very closely, especially on matters related to spirituality and the spiritual disciplines. His widely popular book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life has been a highly formative book in my life. So, when my pastor handed me Whitney’s newest book on prayer, I had to dive in quickly.

Why do Christians struggle to possess a thriving prayer life? According to Whitney, it relates primarily to the affections. While noting that all truly born again believers desire to pray, many of them don’t pray because they are bored. “I don’t feel like praying” is the number one reason Christians don’t pray. This troubling reality is the basis of the entire work. Whitney outlines a common problem to offer a helpful solution.

He candidly writes, “We can be talking to the most fascinating Person in the universe about the most important things in our lives and be bored to death” (12). But Whitney observes this is not due to prayer itself or God himself being boring; nor is it due to some specific flaw in the Christian. The flaw is not in prayer, God, or the Christian, but in the method the Christian uses in praying to God.

“Prayers without variety eventually become words without meaning” (17). You know that guy in your church who seems to pray the same exact thing about the same exact thing every time he prays during the service? Are you that guy? I have known men who I could almost pray with them because there is no variety in the language of their prayers. This is the great problem in the Christian’s prayer life.

Prayer seems boring to us, because we pray in a boring way. Whitney says the most common method of most Christians in prayer is to say “the same old things about the same old things” (15). Sound familiar? When I read this, I immediately began recounting my prayers from earlier in the day and how similar they were to one another.

The problem seems to intensify and grow hopeless when we realize that the things on our heart to pray are generally the same each day. We pray about our families, churches, holiness, jobs, health, safety, finances, and futures. But according to Whitney, “the problem is not that we pray about the same old things; rather, it’s that we say the same old things about the same old things” (20).

Using this universal problem as a springboard, Whitney jumps right into the heart of Praying the Bible. The next few chapters are given to providing a solution to this problem. The solution is a particular method of prayer that Whitney has personally used for over 30 years and widely taught in seminars and seminary classes. But it is a method that finds friends in church history, as well. Whitney believes the answer to boredom in prayer is to change our language in prayer by using the language of the Bible. Whitney’s simple solution is clearly stated: “When you pray, pray through a passage of Scripture, particularly a psalm” (27). Pick a passage of Scripture, particularly a psalm, and express to God whatever comes to your mind as you read the text.

Whitney believes this method is simple enough for any and every Christian to use. He believes that by reading through the Bible, and using it’s language in prayer, there will inevitably be tremendous variety in our prayers. This method is worth practicing (or at least attempting) in large part to Whitney’s reasoning here: “So basically what you are doing is taking words that originated in the heart and mind of God and circulating them through your heart and mind back to God. By this means his words become the wings of your prayers” (32). This was enough for me to give it a shot.

One of the most helpful aspects of Praying the Bible is the overtly practical instruction found throughout. The book honestly feels as if you are sitting in a small group with Whitney at the head, as he walks you through the method step by step. Whitney doesn’t just describe and explain this prayer method; he exemplifies it throughout the book. He takes various psalms and passages and shows how to pray through them, giving sample prayers. He basically says, “Here is what to do, and here is how to do it.”

One criticism is found in an aspect of this method regarding using the language of the text in a way that doesn’t convey the meaning of the text. Praying the Bible primarily means praying for the same old things in your life in the language of the Bible. For example, if you read Psalm 23, you might pray for God to shepherd your children. If you read 1 Corinthians 13, you may pray for your children to grow in the love of God and learn his love. See the variety? In both cases you are praying with the Bible’s language in relation to the Bible’s message.

However, Whitney goes further and says we can also pray using the language of the biblical text for things that do not convey the meaning of the text. An example would be praying for God to restore your friend’s heart to God after reading “He restores my soul” in Psalm 23. This may be an innocent way of bringing variety into prayer, but I fear if Christians use the language of a text of Scripture in ways that misses the meaning of a text of Scripture, over time it could negatively affect Bible study and interpretation.

Whitney does provide numerous caveats and explains that he is not calling readers to “read something into the text,” but instead “merely use the language of the text to speak to God about what has come into your mind” (36). Again, this may be fine for Christians with either formal training in exegesis or for those Christians who sit under faithful biblical exposition. Whitney is unapologetically sound in the realm of hermeneutics: “Correctly handling the Word of God does not permit making the text say what we want” (34). But for the less mature Christian, I fear praying this way could lead to errant exegesis or biblical interpretation.

With warm conversational style, Whitney softly and soundly answers the common question, “How should we pray?” If you feel guilty over being bored with prayer, or find your prayer life growing thin, pick this book up and attempt this method. Prayer is a means of grace to fuel the affections of the heart for God. What better way to fan that flame than with the very words of God. Ultimately, Whitney’s desire is for every Christian to develop a “meaningful, satisfying prayer life” (24). Picking up this book and implementing the simple strategy of praying the Bible will be an important first step in possessing such a prayer life.


396110_519885398036913_1852978654_nMathew Gilbert (B.A. Boyce College) is the Children’s Pastor at First Baptist Church in East Bernstadt, KY. He is the author of the forthcoming book Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God. Mathew lives in London, KY with his wife, Erica, and their son, Jude Adoniram.

10 Motivating Descriptions of the Greatness of Prayer


Since the beginning of June, I have been studying, thinking, and meditating on Christian prayer. Prayer is one of the most difficult spiritual disciplines to “master,” if you will. Walk up to any random Christian and ask them about their prayer life, and most likely they will be hesitant to discuss it with you. In fact, you may find some Christians who have not truly prayed privately in the last two months. Maybe longer.

Admittedly, I have struggled in my own prayer life. I would love to characterize it as vibrant, joyful, and intimate. But I would be lying. More accurately, my past prayer life would more aptly be described as absent, empty, and lackluster. I would use God when I needed him, placing him on my terms. I was trying to perform a religious rite, rather than experience an intimate relationship.

However, my prayer life has since been transformed. This is partly because I am growing in my knowledge of what prayer actually is. One book that has helped me tremendously is Tim Keller’s, Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God. In the second chapter (pp. 29-32), Keller beautifully describes prayer without defining it. He makes a lot of “prayer is” statements without defining prayer. His descriptions provided me with greater motivation to pray. Keller gives nine descriptions of prayer based on George Herbert’s beautiful poem called, “Prayer (I).”

1. Prayer is a natural human instinct

2. Prayer is a nourishing friendship

3. Prayer changes those around us

4. Prayer is a journey

5. Prayer helps us endure

6. Prayer means knowing yourself as well as God

7. Prayer changes things

8. Prayer is a refuge

9. Prayer changes us

10. Prayer unites us with God himself

Think through each of these statements and use them to develop a deeper prayer life. The first step in growing closer to God in prayer is meditating on the greatness of prayer. Keller closes by saying, “Prayer is awe, intimacy, struggle—yet the way to reality. There is nothing more important, or harder, or richer, or more life-altering. There is absolutely nothing so great as prayer” (32).

Cultivating a healthy and deep prayer life is one of the hardest things you will do as a Christian. But it is also one of the most meaningful, joyful, and life-changing things you will do as a Chrisitan. But above all, prayer is an absolute necessity—the breath of the Christian life. And it is of infinite greatness—“there is nothing so great as prayer.”


396110_519885398036913_1852978654_nMathew Gilbert (B.A. Boyce College) is the Children’s Pastor at First Baptist Church in East Bernstadt, KY. He is the author of the forthcoming book Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God. Mathew lives in London, KY with his wife, Erica, and their son, Jude Adoniram.

The Power of a Praying Mother


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My son, Jude Adoniram, is almost one month old. Erica and I have been overwhelmed with joy over the course of this month. There truly is nothing like being his father. I dream for him. I pray for him. I labor for him. Just having Erica and Jude in my life has led me to the Word to ignite my affections for God so that I might lead them in his joy.

I love to watch Erica be a mother. She was made for motherhood. It is one of the most natural things I have ever seen her do. To say that she loves Jude and would do anything for his good is a terrible understatement. She delights in Jude the way she delights in God. Oh, may he learn her passion for the ones she loves. She labors for him like a champion boxer. She absorbs blows in stride, but refuses to wave the white flag. And when she sings to him, oh, I just melt. Her new identity as mother should overwhelm her with stress. But through the stress of a radically changed lifestyle, she has shown that motherhood is greater than individualism. The cause of being a mom is far greater than any individual goal she could accomplish.

Seeing her selflessness causes me to see the face of Christ when I look at her. When she nurses, changes diapers, and loses countless hours of sleep for the sake of our little one, I see the cross. Not just suffering, but selfless sacrifice for the joy of others. And my wife who is now a mother delights in this sacrifice. She finds joy in putting Jude before herself. Are there frustrations? Absolutely. But through the sighs and the cries, this new mother shines with patience and love.

Of all the things that I have enjoyed since Jude’s birth, there is one I have enjoyed the most. I love to see Erica praying over Jude. When he is sleeping, his mother is praying. When he is eating, his mother is praying. When he is playing, his mother is praying. When he is crying, well, we are all praying! This young mother is persistent in her praying.

Is there anything greater than a praying mother? In a passage I have studied all week, we see an example of a persistent praying mother. Jesus enters the region of Tyre and Sidon and is approached by a Gentile (Syrophoenician) woman (Mark 7:24). This woman falls at the feet of Jesus and begs him to exorcise a demon from his daughter (vv. 25-26). Jesus then seems to shut her down by essentially saying that he has come first to the Jews, not the Gentiles. Well, this praying mother is not satisfied to stop now. The persistent praying mother is unstoppable. As Tim Keller says, “There are cowards, there are regular people, there are heroes, and then there are parents. Parents are not really on the spectrum from cowardice to courage because if your child is in jeopardy, you simply do what it takes to save her” (King’s Cross).

It isn’t so much courage that marks her response as it is motherhood. She basically tells Jesus, “Yes, I know the kingdom is for the Jews, but I also know it and you are so great that there is enough in the crumbs of the kingdom for someone like me to enjoy forever.” It is through the mother’s faith, through the mother’s prayer that her child is healed. The praying mother allows nothing and no one to get in her way. Theologian J.C. Ryle reflected on this mother’s faith when he wrote:

The woman who came to our Lord, in the history now before us, must doubtless have been in deep affliction. She saw a beloved child possessed by an unclean spirit. She saw her in a condition in which no teaching could reach the mind, and no medicine could heal the body — a condition only one degree better than death itself. She hears of Jesus, and beseeches him to “cast forth the devil out of her daughter.” She prays for one who could not pray for herself, and never rests till her prayer is granted.

By prayer she obtains the cure which no human means could obtain. Through the prayer of the mother, the daughter is healed. On her own behalf that daughter did not speak a word; but her mother spoke for her to the Lord, and did not speak in vain. Hopeless and desperate as her case appeared, she had a praying mother, and where there is a praying mother there is always hope (Expository Thoughts on Mark).

There is always hope when there is a praying mother. There is tremendous power in a praying mother. Whatever God will do with Jude, I know that all his future acts of faith in Christ will be partly due to the prayers of his loving, selfless, beautiful, and brave mother. Beloved mothers, please don’t stop praying for your children. Through your prayers, they will find healing in Christ.


396110_519885398036913_1852978654_nMathew Gilbert (B.A. Boyce College) is the Children’s Pastor at First Baptist Church East Bernstadt. He is the author of the forthcoming book Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God. Mathew lives in London, KY with his wife, Erica, and their son, Jude Adoniram.

Morning Mashup 10/24


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Today’s edition of Morning Mashup features a variety of articles from around the web dealing with everything from how Christians should approach Halloween to the biblical legitimacy of multi-site churches. Also, if you find yourself saying “um” or “uh” a lot during prayer, there is an article here especially for you.


Thinking About Halloween in the Schemes – Mez McConnell tells why he and his family do not celebrate Halloween and why his church planting ministry does not participate in Halloween related events. Though McConnell lives in the UK, his perspective is interesting.

Is Multi-Site a Biblically Sound Model? – Pastor J.D. Greear is in the middle of a series of posts on the legitimacy of the multi-site model for churches. I have enjoyed considering his position and his response to recent criticism from guys like Jonathan Leeman. Greear is convincing, yet I am still not convinced.

Pray Without Filler – Don Whitney on the problem with filling prayers with “um” and “uh.”

10 Things I Wish Everyone Knew About Reformed Theology – Important post on a much-maligned theological system. If you find yourself criticizing Calvinists and Calvinism, check this out.

Leading and Submitting Like Jesus – In marriage, the roles of both husband and wife are to be carried out as the two follow Jesus. Erik Raymond writes, “Jesus is the model and motivation for both leadership and submission.”

Sin is Worse than Hell – “We should not marvel that God burns with wrath against his enemies. Let us marvel, instead, that while we were still enemies, Christ died for us.”

The Danger of an Atheistic Ministry – Casey McCall asks, “What does a ministry look like that submits to the conditions at hand in humble reverence before the all-wise Creator?”

Christ has purchased in his blood that repenting sinners shall be saved. –Thomas Watson

Salvation by Grace Through Faith in Daniel 9


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In his work, The Doctrine of Repentance, Puritan Thomas Watson opens with an epistle to the reader in which he writes, “The two great graces essential to a saint in this life are faith and repentance. These are the two wings by which he flies to heaven.”

Daniel shows the place of repentance and faith in relation to salvation in Daniel 9. Indeed, by God’s great grace and mercy, repentance and faith in Christ are the means to eternal soaring.

Daniel 9 is largely a prayer from Daniel on behalf of his people. Based on Daniel’s prayer, the people of Israel rebelled against God and disobeyed him because of a lack of repentance and faith. “As it is written in the Law of Moses, all this calamity has come upon us; yet we have not entreated the favor of the LORD our God, turning from our iniquities and gaining insight by your truth” (Dan. 9:13).

Repentance and faith, along with a reliance on the truth of God’s word is what leads to obedience. In fact, faith in God’s forgiveness expresses itself in obedience to God. Steinmann writes, “The person who has received God’s forgiveness wants to live the way God’s Word teaches us humans to live. Saving faith in God manifests itself in good works prescribed in the Scriptures” (Daniel, 426).

Obedience to God flows naturally from a heart that repents and trusts Christ. A life that is void of obedience is one that also lacks true repentance and saving faith. So, Daniel cries out what Paul would later declare, that salvation comes by grace through faith, and not by works of the law. And at the same time, this salvation expresses itself in works of obedience. Obedience is the fruit of trust in God’s mercy, grace, and forgiveness in Christ. It is never the basis.

In Daniel’s prayer, he admits that Israel had fallen under God’s judgment due to their rejection of God’s mercy and forgiveness. It was a rejection of grace that led to both sin and subsequent judgment.

Daniel then requests God to save his people once again; to forgive his rebellious people for their iniquities (Dan. 9:16). He does this on the basis of the redemptive act of delivering Israel from the hand of Egypt by parting the Red Sea (Dan. 9:15). The act of God in saving Israel from the mightiest army in the world is a perfect example of the way God saves. There is no participation on the part of the people. They do nothing. He does everything. Daniel’s prayer is a demonstration of full reliance on God’s grace and power to forgive. Forgiveness then comes not by the works of Daniel or Israel, but by the grace and will of God.

As Paul would later write to Rome,

What shall we say then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works (Rom. 9:30-32).

Righteousness is credited to sinners by faith in the Christ who became sin for them (2 Cor. 5:21). It is not a product of a life of attempts at obeying God. Obedience doesn’t produce righteousness. Credited righteousness by grace through faith produces obedience.

Daniel teaches us that we fall into sin, rebellion, and disobedience when we fail to repent of our sin, trust God’s forgiveness in Christ, and listen to the word of God (Dan. 9:13). When we pray, we should ask God to save our lost family and friends not because they are worthy and not based on their good deeds or ours, but solely because God’s glory deserves to be praised by all people!

“For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people are called by your name” (Dan. 9:18-19).

Steinmann sums up the matter well:

God hears the repentant sinner’s prayer because of the merit and atonement of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. God keeps his promises most vividly in the ministry of Christ, who fulfilled them all (2 Cor. 1:20). God has redeemed his people through the work of Christ. Through faith alone in Christ alone, believers are credited with his own divine righteousness (Ibid., 427).


396110_519885398036913_1852978654_nMathew Gilbert is a student at Boyce College (B.A. Biblical and Theological Studies). He is the author of the forthcoming book Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God (CrossBooks). Mathew lives in London, KY with his wife, Erica, and their dog, Simba. You can follow him on Twitter @Mat_Gilbert.

Morning Mashup 08/13


coffee-newspaper

10 articles for your information, edification, and enjoyment. Happy Wednesday!

When Existence Becomes Seemingly Impossible – Alan Noble with a sobering piece on the reality of mental illness and depression in light of Robin Williams’ suicide. Noble writes, “What I want to say is that life is harder than most of us will let on, and probably the deepest struggles we’ll face will be silent and petty — things like choosing to get out of bed and get dressed. Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof, but so too is Christ’s Grace.”

Obituary for Robin Williams – Dave Itzkoff of The New York Times writes this moving obituary for the beloved actor.

A Generation of Pro-Choicers Wiped Out by Abortion – Research observes the trend of an increasing number of pro-lifers as a result of higher fertility among those against abortion.

Is Same-Sex Parenting Better for Kids? – Sociologist Mark Regnerus criticizes recent studies suggesting children of same-sex parents fair better than their peers.

Pray Fervently for Iraqis – Russell Moore: “As Christians, we should pray for the president and our military leaders to wisely administer the sword of justice.”

Iraq and the Risks of Inaction – Ross Douthat warns that inaction in Iraq is more perilous than action against ISIS. Douthat writes, “I don’t know exactly what the politics of the Middle East would look like if we shrugged, dropped humanitarian aid, and let ISIS continue its advance. But I’m willing to accept the risks of action, and accept the perils and downsides of continued hegemony, in order to avoid finding out.”

Deacon Run Churches: Are they Biblical? – Many churches are ran by deacons. However, is this a biblical form of church government?  Louis Love, Tony Carter, and Thabiti Anyabwile discuss the offices of elders and deacons in an interview over at The Front Porch.

Warfare Prayer – This is a helpful resource from David Sitton and To Every Tribe to help you more effectively pray for missionaries.

So How Did It Go Sunday? – H.B. Charles Jr with a tremendous piece to help the pastor’s heart following a sermon. He offers five helpful ways to measure the Sunday sermon.

Paul Tripp Resigns Position with Mars Hill BoAA – Tripp offers his reasoning for his decision to sever ties with this board.

Our love grows soft if it is not strengthened by truth, and our truth grows hard if it is not softened by love. –John Stott