Hospitality to visitors

Visitor card

I’ve been following Darrell Dow’s search for a church home. Darrell and his young family recently moved to Georgia from Pensacola. He commented briefly on the subject of “being a church visitor”.

We were also given a visitor’s card to fill out with a detachable name tag. After all, nothing says “Welcome!” like a big orange name tag to make sure everyone knows that you’re a VISITOR.

I’m glad that 4th does not ask visitors to wear the “big orange name tag”! I believe the most important way of treating a visitor is to provide them a genuine greeting and personal welcome. The Apostle Paul addressed that with this instruction: “greet one another”.

Review: What Is A Healthy Church Member?

JP: I received Thabiti Anyabwile’s What Is a Healthy Church Member? last week and read it quickly. The book is valuable as it challenges the reader to be a healthy church member. Here are the 10 marks of a healthy church member:

  1. Be genuinely converted (this is actually Mark 4, but it seemed logical to me to make this the first mark!)
  2. Be an expositional listener. I blogged on this several weeks ago here. This mark is perhaps the most complex and bears complete analysis.
  3. Be a biblical theologian
  4. Be gospel saturated
  5. Be evangelistic. Evangelism is not simply the job for the Pastor or for the professional.
  6. Be committed church members of a local congregation
  7. Be open to biblical guidance
  8. Be a growing disciple
  9. Be a humble follower
  10. Be a prayer warrior

Below are two helpful resources on this book. If you would like to borrow my copy ask!

Book Review of Thabiti M. Anyabwile’s New Book by Crossway

Books on church vitality and health have largely been directed toward pastors. I suppose this is wise, for a church with ill-informed leadership is bound to be riddled with problems. Yet the church is more than just its pastors. The whole congregation makes up the body of Christ, and every member carries a certain responsibility in that body. Thabiti M. Anyabwile’s What Is a Healthy Church Member? is a welcome addition to books addressing the health of the church.

An Interview with Thabiti Anyabwile about His New Book, What Is a Healthy Church Member?

What drove you to write What Is a Healthy Church Member?

I wanted to see more Christians understand that the health of their local churches and their personal spiritual health are profoundly connected. The Lord granted me the privilege to serve with the brothers at 9Marks ministries. I’ve had the repeated experience of talking with many pastors who want to lead their churches in healthy directions but who struggle to transfer their ideas and vision to their people in a way that aids reform. But most Christians I know also want to participate in sound, healthy churches. So the problem wasn’t merely or always a problem of resistance, but oftentimes of understanding. It seemed that a companion volume to Nine Marks of a Healthy Church, written for the average person in the pew, could be useful in helping church members support their pastors in strengthening their churches and in helping Christians make their local churches more central to their understanding of what it means to be a healthy Christian.

What Does It Mean to Be Filled with the Spirit?

JP: I found this helpful resource from John MacArthur on “The Filling of the Spirit”. Since this will be our topic (from Ephesians 5:18-21) this Wednesday night, I thought I would share the booklet with you.

John MacArthur: What Does It Mean to Be Filled with the Spirit?

Sometimes an easy conversation between friends can have ramifications far beyond what either person expects. Such was the case in the summer of 1872 near Dublin , Ireland , when two prominent evangelists were discussing ministry. The two men were the British evangelist Henry Varley and the renowned American evangelist Dwight L. Moody. Their conversation contains one of the best-remembered quotes attributed to the life and times of Moody. The remark affected him for the rest of his life.

The morning after an all-night prayer meeting, as the two men strolled around the grounds of the mansion where the meeting had been held, Varley uttered a brief but thought-provoking statement to Moody. This is how Moody recorded it in one of his diaries:

“The world has yet to see what God can do with and for and through a man who is fully and wholly consecrated to Him.” . . . A man! Varley meant any man. Varley didn’t say he had to be educated, or brilliant, or anything else. Just a man. Well, by the Holy Spirit in me I’ll be that man (quoted in John Pollock, Moody: The Biography [ Chicago : Moody, 1963, 1983], 115, author’s italics).

Henry Varley’s words became indelibly fixed in Dwight Moody’s heart and mind and were a tremendous motivation for the gifted American evangelist’s final quarter century of ministry. A short while after his walk with Varley, Moody was further impressed by the need to be completely obedient to the Lord:

Back in London , in the gallery of the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Varley’s remark and Spurgeon’s preaching focused Moody’s attention on “something I had never realized before. It was not Spurgeon who was doing the work: it was God. And if God could use Spurgeon, why should He not use me?” (Moody: The Biography, 115).

If one Christian’s informal remarks to another believer–especially to one who was already a prominent leader–could stir that individual’s thinking so much regarding sanctification and effective service, the words ought also to stir believers like us. This episode from the life of Moody encourages us to wrestle with the issue of what it means to be empowered by the Holy Spirit.

The key to rightly living the Christian life is being controlled by the Holy Spirit, who provides energy for walking “worthy of the calling with which you have been called” (Eph. 4:1). Unless you are controlled by the Spirit of God, you can never walk in humility, love, unity, light, and wisdom. The life of God in the soul of man is the only way anyone can live a righteous life. To walk without the Spirit is to walk without wisdom (cf. Eph. 5:15 -17).

The filling or controlling of the Holy Spirit is a profound reality in the believer’s life, and understanding it can change your life.

The Advantages of Providence

JP: Good read on “providence”.

The Advantages of Providence

Here is a sampling of God’s complete providence in governing the world.

  • “I have commanded the ravens to feed you there” (1Kings 17:4)
  • “The Lord God appointed a plant and made it come up over Jonah” (Jonah 4:6).
  • “God appointed a worm that attacked the plant, so that it withered” (Jonah 4:7).
  • “I will send swarms of flies on you and your servants” (Exodus 8:21).
  • “He summoned a famine on the land and broke all supply of bread” (Psalms 105:16).
  • “He gave them hail for rain” (Psalms 105:32).
  • “He spoke, and the locusts came” (Psalms 105:34).
  • “The Lord will whistle for . . . the bee that is in the land of Assyria” (Isaiah 7:18).
  • “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord” (Proverbs 16:33).
  • “Even the wind and the sea obey him” (Mark 4:41).
  • “He removes kings and sets up kings” (Daniel 2:21).
  • “Even the unclean spirits, and they obey him” (Mark 1:27).
  • “He upholds the universe by the word of his power” (Hebrews 1:3).

How is suffering good?

JP: Profitable post from Larry Rogier. Larry is the pastor of Grace Baptist Church in River Rouge, MI.

Is Suffering Good?

Someone recently asked me, “Why does God do this to me?” He was inquiring into God’s design in a current state of suffering in his life. He followed it up quickly with, “I can’t worship a God who does this.”

My first thought was, “You don’t have any choice … He is the only God there is except for you, and you haven’t done so well for yourself.” But I trusted my pastoral instinct and refrained.

Instead I challenged him to give it some thought biblically as to what God is up to. I told him I could not give him any easy answers. He needed to struggle through this with the goal of seeing God.

Read the full post here.

Matt Morrell—The SharperIron Interview

Matt Morrell—The SharperIron Interview

JP: Worthwhile listen!

Warren Vanhetloo on prayer

Romans 8:26, Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered

Query: Dear Dr. Van, Can you comment on what is involved when the Holy Spirit prays for us, as mentioned in Romans? It seems strange to me that He would pray to God for us when He is in God’s presence always. I even have a bit of wonder about Jesus praying to God for us. I can understand why we pray to God for each other, but this seems to be a puzzle and a mystery to me.

Answer: First, let me say that, though I don’t really understand it, I believe it. Whether I comprehend the why and how, doesn’t bother me a bit. If it were not important, it would not have been included in Scripture. That it is really very important seems clear from the expressions employed. That it is actual, rather than theoretical or fanciful, I can appreciate. That both the action and the knowledge of it are significant encouragements for me tell me that a thankful response rather than a meaningful comprehension is expected.

The wonder of it amazes me. I am glad to know that many believers remember me in prayer, both in a general way and at times for specific needs. That I am on the daily prayer list of the Son of God and the eternal Holy Spirit is almost greater than one could hope for. That They, who know life and its temptations so fully, are concerned and desire to be of help to one like me declares that my spiritual welfare and physical wellbeing, as well as that of each believer, is of concern to the eternal Three.

Some conceive of all events throughout history being cut and dried, of details of life as set and certain, based on their concept of God knowing the end from the beginning. These promises of prayer aid make clear that events of life are actually on-going. God is concerned and involved in the daily detail of each of His children. Jesus could pray for His disciples, and especially for Peter, when He was arrested in the Garden. Safety had been predicted in the Old Testament, but was urgently needed in the actual situation. God steps in to do His part in the realities of life. The walk of faith is not a presumptuous journey.

In Tibet, many prayer wheels and prayer flags supposedly carried requests to a deity who could reply. Having people pray for us is much more encouraging than knowing that a candle has been lit on our behalf. We rejoice that human prayer warriors faithfully uphold us in prayer. How much more thrilling that two of the greatest Persons in the universe are engaged in Their appointed task of praying for us! They know more about us and our needs than we can possibly know. They have greater concern for our welfare than any fellow human. It may sound trite, but I’m confident that their prayers will be answered.

One lesson may be that the Two can request, but the Father makes the decisions. Although the Persons are equal, there is a division of endeavor. Surely both the Son and the Spirit have other duties, but that They pray for us is an indication of God’s special concern for His own. If even one request by a believer is not overlooked by the Almighty, surely not a single entreaty by these two eternal Persons will be ignored. Jesus lived a life similar to our daily walk; He knows personally our peculiar needs. The Holy Spirit indwells us; He is aware of our every thought and feeling. Faster and more sure than high speed internet, Their intercessions reach the Father and His responses come back, to His glory. I’m more sure of that than I am that an email will reach its destination (which I don’t fully understand either).