New Year New Attitude

New YearIf you’re looking to challenge yourself to be a better person in the New Year, you couldn’t go wrong with this list—

  1. Hate what is evil
  2. Cling to what is good
  3. Love others with real compassion
  4. Honor others above yourselves
  5. Work hard
  6. Keep growing spiritually
  7. Find new ways to serve the Lord
  8. Be joyful in hope
  9. Be patient in hard times
  10. Be faithful in prayer
  11. Share with others who are in need
  12. Practice hospitality
  13. Bless those who persecute you
  14. Laugh with your friends when they’re happy
  15. Cry with your friends when they’re sad
  16. Live in harmony with everyone
  17. Make friends with those others call “nobodies”
  18. Don’t try to be somebody you’re not
  19. Don’t respond to insults with insults, but with love
  20. Try to do what is right in the eyes of everyone
  21. Live at peace with everyone
  22. Don’t take revenge, but let God handle it
  23. Don’t let evil get the best of you, but get the best of evil by doing good

(Hat tip: Apostle Paul in Romans 12:9-21)

Practical Prayer

Practical PrayerI remember when I was searching for my first job, and I kept getting turned down because I didn’t have any “experience.” And I kept thinking, “How am I supposed to get any experience if you won’t hire me?!” It’s frustrating being in a place where the only way you can get the job is to have experience, which you can’t get because you don’t have the job!

Sadly, I think this is how many people—even many Christians—feel about prayer.

Mature Christians say, “You need to pray.” But newer Christians keep thinking, “I don’t have the experience to allow me to come into God’s presence, because I haven’t been praying before. Does God even want to hear from me now?” It can be frustrating being in a place where you feel the only way you can get to God is to have advanced prayer experience, which you can’t get because you don’t know how to pray that way!

This Sunday I am beginning a new nuts-and-bolts series on how anyone can learn what prayer really is. We will be looking at some of the most basic things that anyone can do to get the prayer experience they need. The series will be called Practical Prayer, and I believe everyone is going to find it highly practical.

I hope you can join me at 10:30am this Sunday. If you cannot join us in person, be sure to check out our live broadcast on Periscope every week (search for @craigtowens).

10 Quotes From “Christian Behavior”

Christian BehaviorAlthough written over 300 years ago, and written in Old English, John Bunyan’s instructions in Christian Behavior still ring true today. You can read my full book review by clicking here. Below are just a few quotes; I’ll be sharing more soon.

“Faith alone can see the reality of what the Gospel saith.”

“God’s people are faithful in good works according to the proportion of their faith. If they be slender in good works, it is because they are weak in faith. … Therefore the way to be a more fruitful Christian; it is to be stronger in believing.”

“I shall propound unto you what it is for a work to be rightly good. First, a good work must have the Word for its authority. Second, it must, as of afore was said, flow from faith. Third, it must be both rightly timed and rightly placed. Fourth, it must be done willingly, cheerfully.”

“Good things mistimed are fruitless, unprofitable, and vain.”

“There are three things that a man should have in his eye in every work he doth. First, the honor of God (1 Corinthians 6:20). Second, the edification of his neighbor (1 Corinthians 14:26). Third, the expediency or inexpediency of what I am to do (1 Corinthians 6:12).”

In a section to the head of the household—

“But mark, when the Word saith thou art to provide for thy house, it giveth thee no license to distracting carefulness; neither doth it allow thee to strive to grasp the world in thy heart, or coffers, nor to take care for years or days to come, but so to provide for them, that they may have food and raiment; and if either they or thou be not content with that, you launch out beyond the rule of God (1 Timothy 6:8; Matthew 6:34).”

“Take heed of driving so hard after this world as to hinder thyself and family from those duties towards God which thou art by grace obliged to: as private prayer, reading the Scriptures, and Christian conference. It is a base thing for men so to spend themselves and families after this world as that they disengage their heart to God’s worship.”

In a section to husbands—

“When husbands behave themselves like husbands indeed, then will they be not only husbands, but such an ordinance of God to the wife, as will preach to her the carriage of Christ to his spouse. There is a sweet scent wrapped up in the relations of husbands and wives that believe (Ephesians 4:32).”

“Oh! How little sense of the worth of souls is there in the heart of some husbands, as is manifest by their unchristian carriage to and before their wives! … Beware that she takes no occasion from any unseemly carriage of design to proceed in evil. And here thou hast need to double thy diligence, for she lieth in thy bosom, and therefore is capable of his espying the least miscarriage in thee.”

“If she behave herself unseemly and unruly, as she is subject to do, being Christless and graceless, then labor thou to overcome her evil with thy goodness, her forwardness with thy patience and meekness. Take fit opportunities to convince her. Observe her disposition, and when she is most likely to bear, then speak to her very heart. When thou speakest, speak to purpose. Let all be done without rancor, or the least appearance of anger.”

More quotes from Christian Behavior coming soon…

Christian Behavior (book review)

Christian BehaviorCharles Spurgeon said of John Bunyan, “Read anything of his, and you will see that it is almost like reading the Bible itself. He had read it till his very soul was saturated with Scripture…. Prick him anywhere—his blood is Bibline, the very essence of the Bible flows from him. He cannot speak without quoting a text, for his very soul is full of the Word of God. I commend his example to you, beloved.” This is so true of Bunyan’s short treatise Christian Behavior

Bunyan wanted Christians to behave like, well, Christians! He wrote, “They which have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works.” He was quick to point out that good works don’t purchase salvation, but that Christian good works should be evidence of a person’s salvation.

His main text for this book comes from Titus 3:7-8. Of this passage he says,

“From this Scripture, therefore, I do gather these things observable: First, that good works do to flow from faith. Second, that everyone that believeth should be careful that their works be good. Third, that every believer should not only be careful that their works be good, and for the present do them, but should also be careful to maintain them. That is, they should carefully study to keep in a constant course of good works. Fourth, and lastly, that the best way to provoke both ourselves and others to this work, is to be often affirming to others the doctrine of justification by grace, and to believe it ourselves.”

Bunyan talks to husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, children, employers and employees, to challenge them to maintain those good works that would show others the admirable qualities of the Christian life. Even though Christian Behavior was written over 300 years ago, it’s message is as timeless as the Bible on which all of Bunyan’s thoughts were based.

2015 Year-End Review

Theme for 2016The last Sunday of each year I take some time with our church family to look back to review what we’ve learned. Then we look forward to a theme God is impressing on us for the new year. Check it out here—

Pornography Is Hunting Your Kids

Talking about pornPornography continues to ravage our society. It has a devastating effect on marriages and families, and even on our physical and mental health. Check out some of these latest alarming statistics:

Here are just a few stats on porn usage:

  • 12 percent of all internet websites are pornographic.
  • 35 percent of all internet downloads are pornographic in content.
  • 25 percent of online search engine requests are related to sex, resulting in about 68 million requests a day.
  • 40 million Americans consider themselves regular visitors to porn sites.

Not only that, but porn is now seeking out younger and younger kids. The average age that someone is exposed to porn for the first time is 11 years old! 

Pornographers are purposely setting up on domains on commonly misspelled words of legitimate websites. Even setting up porn where someone types in .com instead of .edu or .org.

So what do we do? Josh McDowell urges parents to talk their children early and often about pornography:

“When it comes to discussing sex and pornography, how soon is too soon? It’s a question many parents ask. They don’t want to overexpose their children or be guilty of stirring up temptation in their children’s lives. At the same time, they don’t want to risk missing their cue and opening the door for other teachers like classmates, sex ed classes, magazines, and porn. The list of poor teachers is endless. In the face of so many mixed and misinformed messages, perhaps the question we should be asking is how late is too late?”

This video talk about parent-daughter communications about porn, but the same principles would apply to a conversation with your son—

Parents, we can no longer simply hope our kids don’t get hooked on porn, we need to actively communicate with them. Porn is hunting your kids, so you need to help them know how to defend themselves from this evil.

Links & Quotes

link quote

“Although circumstances may bring us into the place of death, that need not spell disaster—for if we trust in the Lord and wait patiently, that simply provides the occasion for the display of His almighty power.” —L.B. Cowman

“Notice the singular ‘commandment’—‘This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us’ [1 John 3:23]. These two things are so closely connected for John he calls them one commandment: believe Jesus and love others. That is your purpose. That is the sum of the Christian life. Trusting Jesus, loving people.” —John Piper

“We make progress in overcoming our sin when we have hope that our failures will be forgiven. If you don’t have hope that God will forgive your failures, when you start fighting sin, you give up.” —John Piper

“Impatient believers are offended when they see God working miracles all around them but not in their lives. They’re offended at what they believe is God’s slowness to answer them, and over time they feel neglected and imprisoned. Hebrews tells us such impatience is a form of spiritual laziness: ‘Be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises’ (Hebrews 6:12). We are instructed to follow Abraham’s example: ‘After he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise’ (6:15).” —David Wilkerson

Tim Dilena has some amazing insights for every married couple in this video.

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