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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Spurgeon Study Bible Giveaway!

How would you like some great news and even better news?  First, the great news.  Broadman and Holman Publishers has just released their new CSB Spurgeon Study Bible, edited by Alistair Begg, featuring thousands of excerpts from Charles Spurgeon’s sermons and sermon outlines.  Facsimiles of his notes in his own handwriting are placed right next to the corresponding biblical text.  Reading this Bible will be similar to reading the Word with Charles Spurgeon sitting next to you, giving his commentary.  

Some people (especially ESV aficionados) may be leery about the CSB (Christian Standard Bible).  I’ll give you my opinion and you can take it or leave it.  I think it’s a fantastic translation – very readable and exceptionally faithful to the original text.  In my opinion, there is value in having more than one version of the Bible on your shelf.  I like reading a different version devotionally.  It helps me to shake off my familiarity with certain texts and read them with new eyes, so to speak.  And with the CSB, I know I’m reading a solid rendering of the Hebrew and Greek texts.

And now for the better news – YOU could win a Spurgeon Study Bible for free!  The Truth & Circumstances podcast is having a “most compelling question” context.  We’re asking everyone to submit the questions they’ve been wrestling with but have never asked.  Whoever asks the most compelling question will receive a free Spurgeon Study Bible.  (Some of you are wondering, "What constitutes a 'compelling' question?"  Admittedly, it's subjective.  It may depend upon what the judges had for breakfast that day.  The best way to increase your chances of winning is to submit numerous questions.)   

Those of you who are already listeners know the kinds of questions we answer on the podcast – “we apply the truth of God’s Word to the difficult situations of real life.”  Got a difficult family (marriage, children, extended family, in-laws) situation?  Financial situation?  Health situation?  Ethical dilemma?  Church relationship issue?  Send in those issues in the form of a question!  The most compelling questions tend to be "real" questions based upon issues we are actually going through rather than hypothetical situations. 

Some people may be afraid to submit questions because they don’t want anyone to know what they are dealing with.  Rest assured that the sources of the questions we receive are always kept confidential and we don’t assume that the person asking the question is the one with the issue unless they say so explicitly.  So the question could be asked in a more generic way, like, “what advice would you give to someone who…?”

Questions can be submitted on the Truth & Circumstances website and via Twitter, Facebook, and email (  The last day to submit questions will be November 30.  A distinguished panel of three judges will determine a winner, and that winner will be announced the following week.  If you win, we’ll contact you to get mailing instructions and send out your new Spurgeon Study Bible ASAP!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Overcoming Boring, Repetitive Prayer

Those of you who are in a Home Fellowship Group likely have been helped in your prayer life by D.A. Carson’s Praying with Paul.  There is great richness in prayers informed by Scripture. 

Our Wednesday night prayer gathering is finding the same thing as we have begun the practice of praying Scripture together.  If you’ve never done this, I’d highly encourage you to join us.  Praying Scripture has numerous benefits, two of which address a couple of the biggest impediments to consistent prayer.  Those impediments are a wandering mind and mindless repetition.

If you’ve tried to make a habit of praying, it’s likely that you’ve disciplined yourself to find a time and place where you can be alone, uninterrupted.  Everything is perfect.  You begin to pray…and shortly you realize that you’ve stopped praying and are instead thinking about how badly the grass needs to be cut or that conversation you need to have with one of your kids or “where did I put those toenail clippers?”  Then you feel like a clod because you couldn’t focus your attention on the most important Person in existence.  You lament how easily your mind wanders from the magnificent to the mundane. 

Man, you’re a horrible person!  Just kidding.  I’ve done the same thing a million times.  We all have. 

How about this one?

Monday: “Lord, please help my spouse to grow spiritually and help my kids to want to know you.  Please help me to kill my sin.  And please bless the church…” 

Tuesday: “Lord, please help my spouse to grow spiritually and help my kids to want to know you.  Please help me to kill my sin.  And please bless the church…” 

Wednesday: “Lord, please help my spouse to grow spiritually and help my kids to want to know you.  Please help me to kill my sin.  And please bless the church…” 

Thursday-Sunday: (loud snoring sounds)

I can’t say whether God ever gets bored with this kind of thing, but I’ve bored myself to sleep with my own repetitive prayers too many times to count.  A great way to focus the mind and gain a larger vocabulary of prayer is to pray through passages of Scripture. 

There are a couple of excellent resources to help you learn this wonderful practice.  The first is Donald Whitney’s Praying the Bible.  It’s simple and relatively short.  Most people could read it in one sitting.  Talk to people like Anthony Mele and Dave Doerman.  They’ve read it and love it.  They’ll tell you how helpful it is.

The second resource is Matthew Henry’s A Method for Prayer.  Here is a link to an online version.  This is a longer resource than Whitney’s and is a little different in that for the most part it assembles for you a plethora of Biblical passages for different kinds of prayer (adoration, confession, petition, thanksgiving, intercession).  Jason Odel and John Botkin will both tell you how helpful it is. 

Whitney’s resource may be better for teaching you how to pray the Scriptures on your own.  Henry’s resource allows you to just open it up and start praying the words on the page – he’s already gathered the verses for you.  Better yet, grab one of these resources and join us on Wednesday nights to practice this method of prayer corporately.  You will be encouraged and blessed.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

They Spoke The Word With Boldness

The last couple of posts have taken us to Acts 4 to look at the apostles inability to be quiet regarding the message of Jesus and the church’s corporate prayer for boldness in the face of hostility to that message.  Now, I’d like to look at how that prayer was answered and what we can learn from it.

As a refresher, here is the prayer of the church on that occasion:

  24 And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, 
"Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them,
 25 who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit, "'Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain?
 26 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed'--
 27 for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel,
 28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.
 29 And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness,
 30 while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus."
 (Acts 4:24-30)

And what did God do in response to that prayer?

 And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness. (Acts 4:31)

There are a number of things we can learn and apply from this passage.  First, even the apostles struggled with fear when sharing the gospel.  When they were told to stop talking about Jesus, they said, “that’s impossible.”  We might gather then that they were fearless.  Not so.  If they were fearless, there would be no reason to pray as the church did.  The church prayed for boldness because that’s what they needed.  

What does that mean for us?  If we lack boldness, we’re not strange.  A few weeks ago, on the way to the Hamilton outreach event to do street evangelism, I shared with someone I consider to be a very competent evangelist that I tend to get nervous before sharing the gospel.  He responded, “I’m nervous right now.”  I found that very comforting.  He’s great at evangelism and he gets nervous, too.  So did the apostles.  So what should we all do?  We should do what the early church did – pray for boldness.  Even Paul, who said, “I’m not ashamed of the gospel,” asked others to pray that he would be bold (Rom 1:16; Eph 6:18-20).

Second, God gave boldness to those desiring it.  The church asked for it and they received it.  We shouldn’t be surprised by this.  The Lord has commissioned us to make disciples far and wide (Matt 28:18-20).  He’s also told us He’ll give us whatever we need to do His work (John 14:12-14).  Clearly, according to this passage that includes boldness.  If we pray for boldness, we should be confident that we’ll receive it like the early church did.

Third, God gave this boldness not only to the apostles but to the whole church.  They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness. It wasn’t only the apostles spreading the gospel, but all the saints.  What should this tell us?  Evangelism is a church-wide task.  And gloriously so.  It’s a desirable thing to do – a privilege. 

So to those of us who feel as if we cannot or should not share the gospel because we are not church leaders or we lack the boldness, this passage has some things to say: (1) Evangelism is the blessed task of the whole church; (2) Those who naturally lack boldness are in good company – so did the apostles; and (3) we can and should all pray for boldness, confident that the Lord will give it to us. 

Prayer works.  Through it, God gives boldness to the messenger and opens the ears of the hearer.  So let's pray for boldness and then speak with boldness.