Accountability Questions

Here are 7 Accountability Questions from Chuck Swindoll
(Source: The Body by Charles Colson, Thomas Nelson, 1994)

1) Have you been with a woman anywhere this past week that might be seen as compromising?

2) Have any of your financial dealings lacked integrity?

3) Have you exposed yourself to any sexually explicit material?

4) Have you spent adequate time in Bible study and prayer? [Exercise?]

5) Have you given priority time to your family?

6) Have you fulfilled the mandates of your calling?

7) Have you just lied to me?


You can find more accountability questions from the website:
http://www.takethejourney.org/ltg/questions.htm

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Finding Hymn Stories

I recommend http://www.cyberhymnal.org, which has over 6,400 Christian hymns & Gospel songs from many denominations. You’ll find lyrics, scores, MIDI files, pictures, history, & more.

Worship Leader magazine each month features a new song-writing story for worship songs and modern hymns.

I mainly use books to find older hymn stories. Here are some recommendations.
Then Sings My Soul, Book 1 by Robert J. Morgan (Thomas Nelson, 2003)
Then Sings My Soul, Book 2 by Robert J. Morgan (Thomas Nelson, 2004)
O Worship the King by Tada, MacArthur, Wolgemuth (Crossway, 2000).
Amazing Grace by Kenneth W. Osbeck (Kregel, 1990).
101 Hymn Stories by Kenneth W. Osbeck (Kregel, 1982).
52 Hymn Stories Dramatized by Kenneth W. Osbeck (Kregel, 1992).
The Book of Hymns by Ian Bradley (Testament Books, 1989).
Hymns of Faith and Inspiration by Pamela J. Kennedy (Ideals, 1990).
How Sweet the Sound by George Beverly Shea (Tyndale, 2004).

Eloquence and Prayer in Ministry

I recently re-read a selection from Augustine of Hippo’s “On Christian Doctrine” considering truth, eloquence, and prayer in preaching. In Book IV, Chapter 28, he argues that truth is more important than expression. In Chapters 29-30, he stresses the importance of both eloquence and prayer in preaching preparation. Augustine’s sentiments not only have great significance to preaching, but also to other church ministries.

As we build on the foundation of truth, we must aim for the important ingredients of eloquence and prayer. We need to train our church family to be both eloquent/skillful (Ps 33:3) and prayerful (Col 4:2). Ministry that lacks either eloquence or prayer will suffer. Attempting ministry without skill or eloquence is unprepared, meager, distracting, miscommunicated, poor in testimony, and irreverent. Attempting ministry without prayer is weak, fleshly, mere amusement, and empty.

Both of Augustine’s ministry ingredients demand time and discipline in the Christian life. Time and discipline toward eloquence is necessary in study, preparation, and rehearsal to be able to effectively communicate and to serve with excellence and skill. Time and discipline toward prayer is also crucial to the spiritual life of every Christian.

Earlier in Book IV, Chapter 12, Augustine quotes Cicero that the goal of the orator/preacher is to teach, to delight, and to move: “To teach is a necessity, to delight is a beauty, to persuade is a triumph.” These three goals may have some relevance to other ministries in the local church. First, we aim for truth in the local church that it would be communicated, understood, applied, and responded to through heartfelt worship. Second, we aim to “delight the hearers,” because a hearer “must be pleased in order to secure his attention.” This aim of “delighting the hearer” is not tickling ears or mere entertainment. “Delighting the hearer” is the eloquence necessary to communicate truth so it is understood and applied. This concept of “delighting the hearers” could also expand into delighting in the Lord and His saints and the enjoyment found in ministry service and walking in God’s ways. Third, we aim to move and persuade believers towards worship, action, and change. As Augustine said, “a man must be persuaded in order to move him to action.” Pastors and church leaders should aim to teach, to delight, and to persuade as they build up and equip the body of Christ.

All local church ministries should consider Augustine’s preaching goals—to teach, to delight, and to move—which require preparation toward truth, eloquence, and prayer. God-honoring worship is marked by sacrifice, preparation, focus, and reverence. Let us take this challenge to serve truthfully, eloquently, and prayerfully as we teach, delight, and move one another toward love and good deeds.

To read Augustine of Hippo’s “On Christian Doctrine”, go to:
http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/jod/augustine/ddc4.html

Biblical Principles for Patriotic Seasons

Here are some Biblical Principles to Remember At Times of Patriotic Focus.

1. Give Thanks to God: Give thanks to God for our country and the freedoms we enjoy. There is much in our national history that we value and cherish. All gifts and blessings have been given by the gracious hand of God. The Lord has richly provided us with many earthly blessings, but we recognize them as temporal. Whether He gives or takes away, we will bless His name. All praise, honor, glory, and thanksgiving belong to God (1 Th 5:16-18; 1 Tim 6:17; Jms 1:17).

2. Give Honor to Whom Honor is Due: Give honor/tribute to military, veterans, firefighters, police officers, and all those who risk and even lay down their lives for the safety of others (Rom 13:7).

3. Pray for Leaders & Live Godly Lives: Pray for our leaders/authority and live holy lives as a witness and godly influence on earth (1 Tim 2:1-4; 1 Pt 2:11-12).

4. Repent of Sin: Repent in brokenness over individual, corporate, and national sins. All have sinned and have fallen short of God’s glory. Because of sin, every person, community, and nation deserves God’s wrath and judgment. The Lord hears and answers the prayers of the righteous. He will forgive and heal those who repent of sin and turn to Him (Jms 4:7-9; Acts 3:19; 2 Chr 7:14; Jms 5:16).

5. Cultivate Humility: Continue to walk in humility for God opposes the proud. We look to God at all times for guidance and hope. In God do we trust (Pr 15:33; Jms 4:6,10).

6. Main Loyalties are to God, the Scriptures, and the Local Church: Our love and loyalties are foremost given to God, Scripture, and the Church. We submit to the local church, as long as it is Biblically faithful. We submit to earthly human authority, as long as we are not asked to sin or violate our Biblical conscience. Our loyalties to human authority and even this country fall under proper submission God, His Word, and the Church (1 Pt 2:13-17; Dan 3:16-18; Acts 5:29).

7. Unity of Christians as One Nation: The New Testament unites Christian believers as one by calling them one nation, a chosen people, a people belonging to God that they might declare His praise (1 Pt 2:9; Col 3:11-12; Eph 2:19-22; Rom 1:5-7; Gal 6:10; Rev 5:9-10; 21:3; 22:21; Heb 11:13-16; Acts 17:26-31).

8. Longing for Heaven, Our Country to Come: As aliens, strangers, sojourners, and pilgrims on earth, we long for a better/heavenly country. No country has ever been perfect or fully Christian. All nations are corrupt. No nation will last. As citizens of heaven, this world is not to be seen as our home. We must seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Heb 11:13-16; Mt 6:33).

9. Prayerful Heart and Passionate Love for All Nations: Prayerful heart for all nations and a passionate love to spread the gospel to the ends of the earth. We desire that every people group might hear the gospel, believe, obey, and worship the Lord with joy (Rom 16:26; Ps 67:3-4; Mt 28:19-20; Mk 11:17; Is 56:7).

10. Make Much of Jesus Christ: We gather as a church to worship the Triune God, making much of our Savior, Jesus. His name is to be held in highest honor. We gather to worship the Lord of the nations, Jesus Christ (Acts 19:17; Heb 12:1-3).

I highly recommend the works of Francis A. Schaeffer and also Bob Kauflin’s article, “Should July 4th Affect Sunday Planning?” (May 25, 2007). Go to: www.worshipmatters.com.