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Personal Update: The past few months have been crazy in the best way possible. I got married, officiated for my brother’s wedding, sent this recent ministry update for my service with Leadership Resources, and have had several teaching/preaching opportunities.

Over the next couple of months, I will continue to raise partnerships to fund my ministry serving with Leadership Resources. I’m looking for partners in this exciting work of training pastors to preach expository sermons that let God speak for Himself through His Word. Would you or your church prayerfully consider partnering with me? You can learn more here or donate here (select under designation “Kevin Halloran”). Thanks!


The Role of the Word of God and Holy Spirit in Preaching: A Clip from an Interview I did with David Jackman

Here is a powerful post from Leadership Resources’ president called How Beautiful Will the Bride Be that shows the righteous deeds of the saints will add to the future beauty of the bride of Christ.

Victims’ Families Forgive the Man Who Murdered Their Loved Ones and Call for Him to Repent and Believe the Gospel by Justin Taylor

Free Audiobook: Eight Twenty Eight: When Love Didn’t Give Up from Christian Audio

Are We Headed Towards Persecution? By Clay Kraby of Reasonable Theology

40 Questions for Christians Now Waving Rainbow Flags by Kevin DeYoung (you may also want to check out Tim Keller’s post from a few years back Making Sense of Scripture’s “Inconsistency”)

Sam Allberry (who wrote Is God Anti-Gay? which I reviewed) shares 5 Biblical Responses to Homosexuality

Sovereignty

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Friday, June 26, 2015 is a historic day. Same-sex marriage became legalized across the United States.

The ERLC statement said it well when they said,

“Outrage and panic are not the responses of those confident in the promises of a reigning Christ Jesus.”

Even when the culture descends the slippery slope of rebellion against God, believers in Jesus Christ have as much hope as ever—whether or not we keep all of the freedoms we now enjoy. The Christian task is not first to get people to side with us on who should legally be able to marry, but rather to shine as lights in the darkness and make disciples of Jesus Christ by proclaim His gospel in Word and deed.

One of the chief ways Christians influence the culture and shine the light of Christ is by their love. A short Twitter conversation I had with Aaron Earls got me thinking about how Christians can respond in love to the Supreme Court Decision and what some call a “new era” for evangelicals. Here are four ways:

1. Love your spouse.

Married Christians: we now have a greater opportunity than ever to live an Ephesians 5 marriage that will be a beacon of light in a dark world. Love your spouse and cultivate your marriage for the glory of God. We are hypocrites if we fight for traditional marriage and yet neglect cultivating the marriages God has entrusted to us.

We are hypocrites if we fight for traditional marriage and yet neglect cultivating the marriages God has entrusted to us.

2. Love your neighbor as yourself.

This goes for neighbors that are gay, straight, bisexual, or anything else. We can’t minimize anyone’s identity to merely their sexual orientation or their views on marriage—we are all men and women made in the image of God who desperately need a Savior. (This might mean instead of starting an argument on Facebook about the definition of marriage, pray for those you disagree with.)

3. Speak the truth in love.

Christians are God’s ambassadors to take His reconciling message to others. This, at times, will mean we need to speak truth that others don’t want to hear (like the fact that everyone is a sinner). Speaking the truth in love with a genuine concern for the lost will not win every person over, but will win some.

When you have a chance to share why you believe in traditional marriage, walk through creation in Genesis 1. Talk about how every human being has infinite worth in God’s sight by being made in God’s image. Talk about how God instituted heterosexual marriage for our good and also for procreation. Talk about how man rebelled against God in Genesis 3 and the world is under the curse of sin. Talk about how Jesus fulfills the prophecy of Genesis 3:15 and is the One God sent to destroy the works of the devil and rescue us. This is the truth our world so desperately needs to hear. When the opportunity is given, speak it in Christ’s love.

4. Love God for the living hope He gives us.

Our hope is not in nine unelected robe-wearing men and women or anyone holding elected office. Our hope is not in the stock exchange or our favorite sports team. Our hope is not in the good things of life like friends, family, health, and prosperity.

Our hope is in the Sovereign God of the universe who works all things for the good of those who love Him. Our hope is in the One who gave His only Son to pay the penalty for our sins reconcile us to Himself. Our hope is in the One who has all authority and dominion on heaven and on earth. Our hope is a “living hope” and is “imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:3-4).

Let adversity in the Christian life lead you to worship, not despair.

Let adversity in the Christian life lead you to worship, not despair.

An invitation to pray

As our world changes before our eyes and many freedoms we’ve enjoyed no longer seem guaranteed, let’s strive to be people of prayer and not people of despair.

Pray with me for our country. Pray for your own soul’s faith and resilience would be strengthened. Pray that many sinners—homosexual and heterosexual alike—would see their need for the Savior and turn to Him in faith and repentance.

Pray that gospel-proclaiming churches would grow stronger and more committed to Scriptural truth and furthering God’s Kingdom. Pray that nominal Christians will be rooted out of the church and true fellowship would grow sweeter. Pray for our loss of earthly freedoms to cause us to rejoice in the true freedom we have in Christ.

It’s fitting to close with an encouraging word about who is really on the “right side” of history:

“I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

Jesus Christ

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Links-To-Make-You-Think-and-Grow

Free Kindle Book: Be Yourself: Discovering Your New Identity in Christ by Colin S. Smith

The Supreme Court Can’t Ban Same-Sex Marriage from Christianity Today

Six Things To Do after the Supreme Court Decision on Gay Marriage by Mark Galli

Russell Moore: Reaction To The Supreme Court Decision on Same-Sex Marriage (Moore also shares thoughts on The Gospel Coalition)

Here is one of my ministry heroes (David Jackman) sharing about the Heart of Expository Preaching (if you watch anything today, make it this)

10 Reasons Racism is Offensive to God by Kevin DeYoung

Cross-Points eBooks has recently shared a couple of great resources (all PDFs): 14 Free Booklets from the Gospel Coalition and 9 Free eBooks from D.A. Carson

This is an amazing resource for Latin America: The Gospel Coalition’s Directory of Churches in Latin America (link in Spanish)

9 Truths Nobody Told You About Small Groups by Ben Reed (some helpful perspective)

 

Because everybody loves book lists, I thought I would share mine as well (in the vein of Trevin Wax or Al Mohler). Yes, I’m a little late to the summer reading game, but, heck, life as a married man is a little busier than it used to be! (That and I’ve had some teaching/preaching opportunities that have taken away from blogging time.)

Here are a few books that are on my stack for this summer. I’ve already finished one (#2 and loved it), and started five (“Hi, I’m Kevin, and I’m a serial book starter.”). Hopefully you can find a book or two to add to your list!

1. How (Not) to be Secular by James K.A. Smith

I have heard this book quoted and referenced so many times, I figured I just need to break down and read it. I want to understand secularism’s underlying values that permeate in our culture (and at times in my heart) so I can better communicate gospel truth to a secular audience. This book is an analysis of Charles Taylor’s monumental work, A Secular Age that is long and hard to read.

 

2. Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi

Nabeel Qureshi, former muslim turned believer and Christian apologist with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, shares his journey from Islam to Christianity in this gripping book. Qureshi grew up in a strong muslim household and only began to question his faith after a Christian in friend in college challenged him to look into the evidence behind his beliefs.

This video provides a summary of Qureshi’s story.

3. A Brief History of Thought by Luc Ferry (Keller’s #1 culture book)

When Tim Keller recommends books on culture, I listen. This is his #1 recommendation (with a caveat):

This book right now is a terrific, fast way to get a handle on western culture because:

It’s a great survey of western thought—very few are available, especially from a non-Christian who is sympathetic to Christianity. All other books you buy will be less comprehensive. Though his expression of Christian doctrine is often garbled, Ferry has deep appreciation for Christianity, and when he describes how Christianity swept Greco-Roman paganism away as a cultural force, it is a remarkable, eye-opening account. It shows a) how complex and difficult it is to change culture, but b) how indeed culture does get changed. The shifts away from Christianity are also extremely interesting.

4. Restoring All Things: God’s Audacious Plan to Change the World through Everyday People by John Stonestreet and Warren Cole Smith

Our culture is depressing. It seems like the tide of culture is moving farther and farther away from biblical truth with no end in sight. Even in a fallen world, God’s Kingdom is prevailing and He is at work all over the world—even if the news depresses us.

John Stonestreet and Warren Cole Smith team up and share stories (previously covered in BreakPoint Commentaries and WORLD Magazine) documenting God’s audacious plan to change the world through everyday people. I’ll be reviewing this once I get some time to finish it!

5. Thriving in Babylon: Why Hope, Humility, and Wisdom Matter in a Godless Culture by Larry Osborne

In Thriving in Babylon, Larry Osborne explores the “adult” story of Daniel to help us not only survive – but actually thrive in an increasingly godless culture. Here Pastor Osborne looks at:
-      Why panic and despair are never from God
-      What true optimism looks like
-      How humility disarms even our greatest of enemies
-      Why respect causes even those who will have nothing to do with God to listen
-      How wisdom can snatch victory out of the jaws of defeat
For those who know Jesus and understand the full implications of the cross, the resurrection, and the promises of Jesus, everything changes – not only in us, but also in our world.

6. Reconciliation, Fellowship & the Grace of God: A Servant’s Journal (Various Authors)

This book is a compilation of great articles by men like Packer, Spurgeon, Lloyd-Jones, Don Whitney, Bill Mills. It’s also nice that I don’t feel pressured to read the whole thing because it’s separate articles. Here is one money quote from J.I. Packer:

“A body in which the blood does not circulate well is always below par, and fellowship corresponds to the circulation of the blood in the body of Christ. The church gains strength through fellowship, and loses strength without it.”

7. The Mystery of Marriage by Mike Mason

This book isn’t a marriage “how-to”, but a “how-come”, and explores deep truths of marriage. I’m about halfway through, and so far it’s deep, insightful, and filled with rich images describing the mystery of marriage.

In the 20th Anniversary Edition of this Gold Medallion Award winner, Mike Mason goes on a poetic search to understand the wondrous dynamics of committed love. In highly readable, first-person style, Mason’s writing stimulates readers’ thoughts and prayers and propels couples to deeper intimacy. “A marriage is not a joining of two worlds,” says the author, “but an abandoning of two worlds in order that one new one might be formed.” Rich chapters on “Otherness,” “Vows,” “Intimacy,” “Sex,” “Submission,” and an all-new chapter on “Oneness” lift readers to view the eternal, spiritual nature of this faith-filled, “impossible,” wild—yet wonderful—frontier.

8. Letters to Malcom: Chiefly on Prayer by C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis on prayer. ‘Nuff said.

Publisher’s description:

What are we doing when we pray? What is at the heart of this most intimate conversation, the dialogue between a person and God? How does prayer—its form, its regularity, its content, its insistence—shape who we are and how we believe? In this collection of letters from C. S. Lewis to a close friend, Malcolm, we see an intimate side of Lewis as he considers all aspects of prayer and how this singular ritual impacts the lives and souls of the faithful. With depth, wit, and intelligence, as well as his sincere sense of a continued spiritual journey, Lewis brings us closer to understanding the role of prayer in our lives and the ways in which we might better imagine our relationship with God.

9. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

(Pro-reader tip: this book is free for Kindle.) I desire to read more of the classics, especially the classics that overlap with the Christian faith. I’ll be reading this with Leland Ryken’s guide.

When Hester Prynne bears an illegitimate child she is introduced to the ugliness, complexity, and ultimately the strength of the human spirit. Though set in Puritan community centuries ago, the moral dilemmas of personal responsibility, and consuming emotions of guilt, anger, loyalty and revenge are timeless.

10. Job: The Wisdom of the Cross (Preaching the Word Series) by Christopher Ash

I love expository preaching and I love the book of Job—I just want to understand it more. Enter Christopher Ash, Bible teacher with the Proclamation Trust.

Life can be hard, and sometimes it seems like God doesn’t even care. When faced with difficult trials, many people have resonated with the book of Job—the story of a man who lost nearly everything, seemingly abandoned by God.

In this thorough and accessible commentary, Christopher Ash helps us glean encouragement from God’s Word by directing our attention to the final explanation and ultimate resolution of Job’s story: the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Intended to equip pastors to preach Job’s important message, this commentary highlights God’s grace and wisdom in the midst of redemptive suffering.

Taking a staggeringly honest look at our broken world and the trials that we often face, Ash helps us see God’s sovereign purposes for adversity and the wonderful hope that Christians have in Christ.

What do you plan to read this summer?

Links-To-Make-You-Think-and-Grow

50 Most Influential Religious Figures in American History by Joe Carter

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: The Rise of the Selfie Generation by N.W. Bingham

Creflo’s Jet from Adam 4D

I enjoyed this from Eric Geiger: Leading Up: How a Young Leader Turned Around the NBA Finals

7 Supreme Court Cases to Watch This Month

What to Expect When We Preach the Gospel

The Main Point for all 66 Books of the Bible by Peter Krol (sharing the melodic lines from the NIV Proclamation Bible). One the hermeneutical principles we teach at Leadership Resources is the melodic line (here’s a free PDF of the hermeneutical princples we use in our training).

I share this video below because it was helpful for me in looking for a new coffee maker. Still looking…and could use recommendations!

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Scripture teaches us about prayer in many different ways: statements of fact, commands, parables, and by providing the prayers of many great prayer warriors to learn from. One of those warriors is the Apostle Paul.

While Paul included many prayers for others in his epistles (see a complete list of Paul’s prayers), only a few times does Paul ask for prayer for himself. His personal prayer requests open Paul’s heart and help us see how to best pray for those in ministry. (Paul asks for prayer several times in the following passages: Romans 15:30-33; 2 Corinthians 1:10-11; Ephesians 6:19-20; Philippians 1:19-20; Colossians 4:2-4; 1 Thessalonians 5:25; 2 Thessalonians 3:1-2; Philemon 22.)

Why did Paul ask for prayer and what can we learn from his requests?

6 Observations from the Prayer Requests of Paul

1. Paul believed prayer to be powerful, effective, and necessary.

Even though Paul was an apostle and one of the greatest missionaries the world has ever seen, he knew his own weakness and utterly depended upon God. Paul knew that he could not on his own make his ministry effective or escape from those seeking to destroy him–so he asked the church for prayer so God could intervene and do what he could not. This is why he often asked for prayer.

“…I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance…” Philippians 1:19

2. Paul knew that when we pray for someone in ministry, we join them in ministry.

“…strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf…” Romans 15:30

Paul sets up this prayer request with the strongest possible appeal, “I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf…” Paul appeals to our common Lord (Jesus Christ) and our common love (which is the Spirit’s fruit) because he knows that those in the body of Christ should care for one another.1

When we pray for other believers in ministry, we strive together with them in God’s work. God uses our prayers to propel others to greater heights and effectiveness in ministry–heights and effectiveness that would not be there without the prayers of faithful friends.

[An Opportunity to Partner in Ministry with Me]

3. Paul desired to serve the church and fellowship with the church.

A love for his brothers and sisters in Christ emanated from the Apostle Paul who was the spiritual father of many. Several times Paul showed his deep desire for fellowship and time with those he ministered to.

Paul wrote in Romans 15:31-32, “Pray that…my service in Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints there, so that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and together with you be refreshed.” He also asked in Philemon 22 for Philemon to prepare a guest room for him just in case their prayers were answered and he was able to visit. Paul held serving and fellowshipping with the church as a top priority.

4. Paul asked for prayer to have a bold and clear proclamation of the Gospel.

The gospel was of first importance for the Apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 15:3). His gospel focus comes out in his personal prayer requests.

He requests prayer for the right words in sharing the gospel (Ephesians 6:19), to proclaim the gospel without fear (Ephesians 6:20), clarity in communication (Colossians 4:4), doors to be opened for the gospel (Colossians 4:2), and that God’s word would speed ahead and be honored (2 Thessalonians 3:1). He doesn’t want to leave any room for miscommunication but rather prays and requests prayer for the gospel to “run” through his ministry.

This focus shows the deep compassion and eternal focus of Paul–something we would all be better to emulate.

5. Paul requested prayer to be rescued from unbelievers.

Paul endured beatings, imprisonments, shipwrecks, and faced constant danger (2 Corinthians 11:25-28). He often had a target on his back due to opposition from the Jews, Gentiles, and false teachers, and constantly coveted the prayers of the saints. This is why Paul asked several times to be “rescued from unbelievers” (Romans 15:31) and “delivered from wicked and evil men” (2 Thessalonians 3:2). He later tells the Corinthians that their prayers for him will help deliver him from deadly peril (2 Corinthians 1:10-11).

He does not pray condemnatory prayers or imprecatory psalms against his enemies, but rather seeks deliverance from them. God answered many of these prayers, but ultimately did not prevent Paul’s death. Our sixth observation helps us see why:

6. Paul submitted his requests to God’s will.

Paul’s request in Romans 15 asks for prayer to be with the Romans “by God’s will…” (15:32). Even as an apostle with apostolic authority, Paul knows that his prayers need to follow the pattern taught by Christ, who taught his disciples to pray “Your will be done” (Matthew 6:10) and himself prayed, “but not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39).

Not all of our plans are answered as we would like. But like Paul, we can trust God and his perfect will to work things for the good of those who love him and the good of the Kingdom.

May God conform our hearts and prayers according to His will!


Originally posted at LeadershipResources.org