Friday, August 20, 2004

Weapon, anyone?

Should Christians carry guns? a recent headline blared from an internet website. I have my own opinion about that, as do others. In the Deep South, guns are a major component of the cultural milieu. Indeed, the most callers I ever generated on a talk radio show dealt with the kind of gun a rookie at weaponry should buy for home protection. I witnessed two solid hours of six phone calls waiting to get on the program.

But Christians? And guns? The Bible says the preferred technology of personal and corporate defense is...a sword. "Take the...sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."

Evangelism in America is weak, scholars suppose, because of a lack of this, an apathy for that, a cluelessness about culture, a disconcerting orientation to old methodology, etc.

But the real reason evangelism is losing ground and Protestantism has, in this country, reached a minority status is that we don't know the Word, don't pray through it, and don't act on it.

In brief, E. Stanley Jones (the great India missionary) says that were he to put his finger on the greatest flaw of this nation's lackluster performance in missional endeavor he would be pointing at our lack of a devotional commitment. And to Jones, that commitment was prayer, Scripture and arising to be on with the things we are being told by God to do during those intense times with God.

Jones confesses that the greatest thing he ever did in his college days was to establish a two hour a day devotional habit. It sustained him through a lifelong endeavor to spread the Good News. Most laity today prayer a few brief moments. Ministers - a few (but very few) minutes more.

In my classes at Wesley Biblical Seminary we require an hour a day prayer life. Some students, upon hearing this, flinch and even complain. But here are some of the comments I began to receive from this requirement:

“Absolutely, positively the most beneficial part of the class…it affected every part of my life and deepened my walk.” (TG)

“This requirement erupted my devotional life! I went from one hour to three. Incredible grace!” (BS)

“Initially I was afraid of my prayer life affecting my grade. But then I thought ‘Does it not affect my ministry every day?’ This requirement puts tangible accountability into what is already a life reality.” (NE)

“Most of us are inconsistent in our devotional life without admitting it. The requirement of a required time in this course for daily devotions is pure gold…and it will last a lifetime!” CHS

“The devotional requirement taught me to pray the Scriptures and the roles of God. It shaped my character.” (HC)

“This is the pulse of all we do. If this is not cultivated within our time here, then everything else will be smoke and mirrors.” (SC)

“The accountability in devotions helped take me to a whole new level in my faith walk with God.” (BH)

“I'm glad I am having to commit to a devotion for an hour a day. So many times I am sporadic with private time with God.” (SG)

Want an evangelistic church...get them spending significant time in devotions...first, as individuals, then as families, then as a church. Pray, Read, Do. Your church will explode.


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