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A Church That Prays

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By: Megan Evans

The book of Acts has been such a help to me for many reasons, a few including evangelism, missions, and examples of what boldness and confidence in the Christian faith should look like.

This time through Acts, though, my eyes have been opened to the constant prayer and dependence on the Lord that the apostles and early Christians demonstrated. They relied 100% on the Holy Spirit and 0% on themselves.

“All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer…” (Acts 1:14)

“But Peter put them all outside, and knelt down and prayed; and turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up” (Acts 9:40)

“[Peter] went to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose other name was Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying [for Peter’s release from jail]” (Acts 12:12)

“While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off” (Acts 13:2-3)

“And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed” (Acts 14:23)

“About midnight [in prison] Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God…” (Acts 16:25)

“And Paul visited him and prayed, and putting his hands on him healed him” (Acts 28:8)

We see in Acts that the apostles and followers of Jesus during the early church were a people that prayed for everything and prayed often. That is because they had realized that they couldn’t do anything without him.

They depended on the Spirit for everything from the healing people of diseases and ailments to appointing elders of the church, to sending out missionaries, to helping those in persecution, to just coming together as believers.

They didn’t view any of these tasks less or more worthy of prayer than the one before. They wanted to make sure in everything that the Lord was being called on and they were doing nothing of their own strength.

Piper, in Let the Nations Be Glad! says, “Since the Giver gets the glory, what all this prayer shows is that the early church meant to make God supreme in the mission of the church.

She would not live on her own strength or her own wisdom or even her own faith. She would live on God. God would be the one who would give the power and the wisdom and the faith. And therefore God would get the glory.”

What would our church look like if we prayed for everything? If we started calling upon on the Spirit at all times, for all situations?

It seems like the church during this time was able to do some pretty amazing things, like heal people and send out many to proclaim the Gospel.

But, as we can see, these early people weren’t any more qualified than we are today. Paul didn’t go from a man that persecuted Christians to a more strong, intelligent, and resourceful guy when he started to follow Jesus. He actually became more weak, needy, and underqualified for the mission ahead.

What Paul did have was what all believers have today – prayer.

So, what would our church look like if we prayed for everything? Would we start to see people healed? Would we see more people believe? Would we be able to depend on him even in our suffering, like Paul and Silas did in prison?

I don’t know.

But the Word shows that powerful things happen when we pray and allow his name to be made great.

To end, here are two quotes that have challenged me greatly this month on the subject of prayer:

“Does anyone really think that America today is lacking preachers, books, Bible translations, and neat doctrinal statements? What we really lack is the passion to call upon the Lord until he opens the heavens and shows himself powerful.” – Jim Cymbala, Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire

“If Jesus – God in the flesh – felt like he could do nothing on his own, and so was driven always to pray, why do we go throughout our lives with so little prayer? Do we think ourselves more capable than Jesus?” – from J.D. Greear’s sermon “How to Deal with Unanswered Prayer” (Ask Series)

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Why Men Should Accept the Responsibility to Stand Up for Women

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By: Brandon Smith

We often act like men and women are two different species, as though women really are from Venus and men really are from Mars. However, Scripture makes clear that we are both fully and equally made in God’s image (Gen. 1-2).

The only real difference in Scripture is the call for men to humbly and sacrificially lead in the home and the church.

In just about every bit of research, you can find on the differences between men and women; the two most common outcomes are that men are typically physically stronger and more aggressive in the areas of sex and work. Furthermore, we know that women typically make less money, are more often physically and emotionally abused, and are generally less respected in society than men are.

We don’t need research to tell us this.

Again, in biblical terms, the only spaces in human culture where men are called to have authority or be in leadership are in the home (husbands) and the church (elders).

Other than that, the Bible gives us no blueprints for whether men should be the only gender qualified to be presidents, CEOs, police officers, doctors, professors, or any other vocation.

And as Christians, we should always default to this.

And yet throughout human history, men have almost exclusively led kingdoms and armies and just about every other sphere of culture. Some of this is because men take advantage of their strength and aggressiveness to overpower and marginalize women.

Societies for generations have abused God’s design for humble and sacrificial male leadership in the home and church, trading it in for patriarchy and abuse.

The feminists were right about one thing: for far too long women were treated as second-class citizens in America and beyond, and throughout history. There was a day not long ago when women couldn’t get a job or vote for a president. Still today, only 7 of the Forbes 100 companies have a woman CEO.

Though the world has been filled with strong women who’ve fought this kind of oppression, this stat is not an accident.

Now, if you want to argue for a woman not being your boss at work or the president of your country or the leader of your Sunday school class just because she’s a woman, you won’t find that in the Bible.

You’ll instead find women like Deborah, Miriam, Mary, Martha, Priscilla, Lydia, Phoebe, and a host of others who served in God-glorifying leadership positions inside and outside the church. The Bible speaks highly and puts restrictions low.

Men, because of our privileged position in society and sheer physical prowess, we should accept responsibility to leverage our power as a way to lift up women to equal status with us.

If you look at sex trafficking, the sexual assault case with women’s gymnastics, and all of the sexual assault cases in Hollywood (and the church!), you will see one thing: men not taking a stand for women.

Here’s a case in point. Charlie Rose, the iconic TV host, was busted for sexually harassing women on his staff. Here’s a snippet from a news report:

"A woman who began as an intern in the late 1990s and was later hired full time described a “ritual” of young women at the show being summoned by Rose to his Manhattan apartment to work at a desk there. The woman described a day when Rose went into the bathroom, left the door open and turned on the shower. 

She said he began to call her name, insistently. She ignored him, she said and continued working. Suddenly, he came out of the bathroom and stood over her. She turned her head, briefly saw skin and Rose with a towel and jerked back around to avoid the sight. She said he said, “Didn’t you hear me calling you?” 

She said she told someone in the office, and word got around. A few days later, she said, a male colleague approached her, laughing, “Oh, you got the shower trick."

I have two daughters, so this is hard to read and even harder to imagine that it could be one of my little girls someday.

A man in the office heard about a woman harassed by a known sexual predator. He didn’t say, “Let’s call the police” (which is the right response) nor did he even express sympathy or anger about it (which wouldn’t have been enough, but it would’ve been something) – he laughed.

He laughed.

I chose just one story out of dozens and dozens where men are cited in these offices as thinking this is funny, or being quiet to save their jobs, or even joining in on the harassment. And this happens all of the time because men choose to use their power and privilege to take advantage of women or turn a blind eye toward women who are being treated as sub-human playthings by other men.

Are women able to take care of themselves? Yes! My wife could beat up half the men in our church.

Should they feel left alone to be victimized? Absolutely not. God calls men to something more.

Whether it’s at home, in our community, at our jobs, or in this church – we need to accept the responsibility to protect women and children and others who are marginalized or not taken seriously.

Maybe that’s reporting harassment to the police, or going the extra mile to vouch for a female co-worker to get a raise or promotion. It could even be keeping a protective eye on women you see in parking lots and college campuses who are out walking by themselves and are vulnerable to attack — attacks we hear about often.

What if Christian men became the shining example in this world of men who protect, elevate and sacrifice for the vulnerable and marginalized, including and maybe even especially women?

What if we were the ones who led the way by not talking about women in a sexual or demeaning way?

What if we were the ones who fought tooth and nail to avoid porn, not only because lust is a sin, but also because supporting glorified sex trafficking is a sin?

It absolutely should be us, Christian men, because we know that women are entirely and equally God’s image-bearers.

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