What’s Behind A Church’s ♥able Reputation?

Last week I said if people are going to say “I ♥ That Church!” it has to be a ♥able church. A ♥able church has a ♥able reputation that compromises what Luke captured about the very first Church—internal unity, sincere piety, supernatural results, and practical help.

Once a church has this kind of reputation, how is it sustained? 

First, let me tell you how it’s NOT sustained: A church’s ♥able reputation isn’t sustained by that church focusing on it’s ♥able reputation. 

A ♥able reputation must flow from the constant development of godly character. Otherwise, we substitute what sounds good with what is actually sound, and we substitute what looks good with what is actually good. 

That’s what the Pharisees did—they were more concerned about how their religion looked to others, and not how it aligned with God’s heart. In fact, Jesus told two stories about people that thought they were “in” with God because of their reputation, but God actually says to them, “I don’t know who you are” (see Matthew 7:21-23; 25:1-12). 

Matthew Henry reminded us, “Men may go to hell with a good reputation!” 

But D.L. Moody got the order right when he said, “If I take care of my character, my reputation will take care of itself.”

I believe the first Church shows us three components of a maturing godly character. 

  1. Our source must be pure. The Christians devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching. In other words, they grew with sound doctrine, not with things that sounded like doctrine (2 Timothy 4:3; Acts 17:11). 
  1. Our daily disciplines must be productive. The Christians saw “church” as an every day thing. They didn’t view studying the Scriptures, prayer, fellowship, and other maturing activities a merely something to be checked off their To Do list. 
  1. Our accountability must be in our fellowship. The Greek word for fellowship (koinonia) means an active involvement with the “one anothers” in the Church. What’s especially important is maintaining the highest levels of accountability with each other so that the growth of godly character can continue (see especially Hebrews 10:24-25; James 5:16). 

“When wealth is lost, nothing is lost. When health is lost, something is lost. When character is lost, everything is lost.” —Billy Graham 

My church’s ♥able reputation will be sustained as I am committed to growing in godly character. 

So… are you committed to that continual growth? 

Book Reviews From 2017

Unforgiveness

moody-forgivenessFrom D.L. Moody’s book Prevailing Prayer

“I believe this is keeping more people from having power with God than any other thing—they are not willing to cultivate the spirit of forgiveness. If we allow the root of bitterness to spring up in our hearts against some one, our prayer will not be answered.” …

“It may be that you are saying: ‘I do not know that I have anything against anyone.’ Has anyone anything against you? Is there someone who thinks you have done them wrong? Perhaps you have not; but it may be they think you have. I will tell you what I would do before I go to sleep tonight; I would go and see them, and have the question settled. You will find that you will be greatly blessed in the very act.” …

“It is human to err, but it is Christ-like to forgive and be forgiven.” …

“As Matthew Henry says: ‘We do not forgive our offending brother aright nor acceptably, if we do not forgive him from the heart, for it is that God looks at. No malice must be harbored there, nor ill will to any; no projects of revenge must be hatched there, nor desires of it, as there are in many who outwardly appear peaceful and reconciled. We must from the heart desire and seek the welfare of those who have offended us.’”

Check out more quotes from Prevailing Prayer by clicking here.

Check out my review of Prevailing Prayer by clicking here.

13 Quotes From “Prevailing Prayer”

prevailing-prayerD.L. Moody challenges all Christians to stick with prayer a little longer. Far too many of us give up too soon, and miss out on the miracle God wants to do. Check out my review of Prevailing Prayer by clicking here.

“The two first and essential means of grace are the Word of God and Prayer. … If we read the Word and do not pray, we may become puffed up with knowledge, without the love that buildeth up. If we pray without reading the Word, we shall be ignorant of the mind and will of God, and become mystical and fanatical, and liable to be blown about by every wind of doctrine.”

“The reason we so often fail in moving our fellowmen is that we try to win them without first getting power with God. Jesus was in communion with His Father, and so He could be assured that His prayers were heard.”

“It is not by eloquent sermons that perishing souls are going to be reached; we need the power of God in order that the blessing may come down.”

“Our Master’s prayers were short when offered in public; when He was alone with God that was a different thing, and He could spend the whole night in communion with His Father. My experience is that those who pray most in their closets generally make short prayers in public.”

“In Proverbs 28:9 we read, ‘He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.’ Think of that! It may shock some of us to think that our prayers are an abomination to God, yet if any are living in known sin, this is what God’s Word says about them.” 

“There is a great deal more said in the Bible about praise than prayer; yet how few praise-meetings there are! David, in his Psalms, always mixes praise with prayer. Solomon prevailed much with God in prayer at the dedication of the temple; but it was the voice of praise which brought down the glory that filled the house. … However great our difficulties, or deep even our sorrows, there is room for thankfulness.”

“Even if nothing else called for thankfulness, it would always be an ample cause for it that Jesus Christ loved us, and gave Himself for us.”

“When the church, the pulpit, and the pew get united, and God’s people are all of one mind, Christianity is like a red-hot ball rolling over the earth, and all the hosts of death and hell cannot stand before it.”

“We are not told that Jesus ever taught His disciples how to preach, but He taught them how to pray. He wanted them to have power with God; then He knew they would have power with man.” 

“It is not the most beautiful or the most eloquent language that brings down the answer; it is the cry that goes up from a burdened heart.”

“Some people think God does not like to be troubled with our constant coming and asking. The only way to trouble God is not to come at all. He encourages us to come to Him repeatedly, and press our claims.”

“The Lord delights in hearing His children make their requests known unto Him—telling their troubles all out to Him; and then we should wait for His time.”

“Let our prayer be that God may advance His work, not for our glory—not for our sake—but for the sake of His beloved Son whom He hath sent.”

Prevailing Prayer (book review)

prevailing-prayerWhile I was growing up I heard an oft-repeated phrase around our church: “I prayed it through.” I think this would resonate with the heart of Dwight Moody, as he clearly articulates this concept in his book Prevailing Prayer.

Quite simply, Moody defines prevailing prayer as prayer that “involves the whole of our being. It affects our minds because we are occupied with God; it affects our wills because we desire to be yielded to God; and it affects our emotions because we are consumed with a love for God.” But many people—even seasoned Christians—wold probably confess that praying like this is challenging. Moody would agree with this, which is why he has given us such a practical book.

Moody not only lays out for us what will increase the likelihood that we will prevail in prayer, but he also diagnoses some of the roadblocks to this kind of consuming prayer. Each chapter links with the other chapters to build a convincing case that every Christian can learn how to prevail in prayer.

Moody uses stories from the Bible, stories from his own life and ministry, quotes from other Christian thinkers, as well as common-sensical ideas to create a desire to pray in this powerful, sustained way.

Whether you are a brand new Christian or a “seasoned saint,” Prevailing Prayer will energize your prayer life!

How Do You Start A Conversation With God?

pray-through-the-bibleLast week I asked you to imagine how your relationship grew with your best friend. You probably found that this special friendship was formed during hours and hours of talking.

I’m going to guess that at first your conversation was a little on the superficial side. You talked about “tame” topics like sports teams, or your job, or the city you lived in. But at some point you took a huge riskyou became vulnerable by sharing something really personal. Perhaps you shared a time that you got hurt, or something that makes you anxious, or maybe a big dream you carry around in your heart. But if that friend is still your friend, that means they treated what you shared reverently. They didn’t laugh at you, belittle your hurts or dreams, nor did they share with others what you said.

The relationships became deeper and more special because you now knew each other on a more intimate level.

Prayer is a conversation with a Friend. Of course that Friend is God, so some people wonder, “What do I talk to God about?” The simple answer is anything and everything!

Time and time again God calls us to come closer to Him (see Isaiah 55:1-3), to discuss with Him things we don’t understand (Jeremiah 33:3), or to be assured that He is intimately tuned in to what’s happening in our life (Psalm 139:17; 1 Peter 3:12).

How do we get there? A good place to start is with our Bible. Dwight Moody said:

“The two first and essential means of grace are the Word of God and Prayer. … If we read the Word and do not pray, we may become puffed up with knowledge, without the love that buildeth up. If we pray without reading the Word, we shall be ignorant of the mind and will of God, and become mystical and fanatical, and liable to be blown about by every wind of doctrine.”

Scripture was written to point us to Jesus. So we don’t read the Bible just to read it; we read it to get to know God.

We don’t want to know the Word of God; we want to know the God of the Word. 

A great place to start is in the book of the Psalms. Many of these were written as prayers, so it’s a good way to start our conversation with God. You can also search in the New Testament for all the places that biblical writers said, “I pray…” or “This is my prayer….”

I share a personal example of this in this video, especially if you want to fast forward to the 36:00 minute mark.

Don’t just read through the Bible this week—pray through the Bible. Use it as a means to have a conversation with the very Best Friend you could ever know!

I encourage you this week, as you think about this topic, to get together with an earthly friend and discuss these questions:

  1. How can I use my Bible as a “conversation starter” with God?
  2. How can I get into the regular practice of talking to God as a Friend?

Links & Quotes

link quote

“I want to be a soldier who is fully prepared for the battlefield. I know that victory is won long before the battle begins. It’s won in boot camp, in training and conditioning. When the enemy suddenly comes at me, I’m going to need all available ammunition, and that ammunition is supplied by the powerful Word of God as I hide it away in my heart. So, the next time the devil attacks, I’m confident I’ll have reserves to draw on. I’ll have won the battle alone with God, prior to the battlefield.” —David Wilkerson

“I know the math is impossible, but we certainly act as though the other person is the unreasonable one, no matter which side of the table he sits on.” —Seth Godin

The story goes that D.L. Moody arrived home late one evening from preaching a revival service. As the tired Moody climbed into bed, his wife asked, “So how did it go tonight?” Moody replied, “Pretty well, two and a half converts.” His wife smiled and said, “That’s sweet. How old was the child?” “No, no, no!” Moody answered, “it was two children and one adult! The children have their whole lives in front of them. The adult’s life is already half-gone.”

Eric Metaxas has a great reminder for Christians as they pass through this age: Exiles, Yes, But Engaged Exiles.

Boz Tchividjian shares an important article for anyone who works with kids: 4 ways to protect children from sexual abuse.

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