5 Takeaways From 2 Weeks Amongst Some Unreached People Groups

May 25

The last two weeks I spent time amongst a few unreached people groups and unengaged, unreached people groups on the other side of the world. If you’re new to this, an unengaged, unreached people group is an ethnic group that “has no known active church planting underway.” Just a step above that is an unreached people group, which is an ethnic group that is “less than or equal to 2% Evangelical Christian and less than or equal to 5% Professing Christians.” [https://joshuaproject.net/help/definitions] Like unbelievers in much of the world, these people have not believed the gospel and are guilty before a holy God (Rom 1:18-25). Unlike unbelievers in much of the world, these people do not have access to the gospel (Rom 10:14). The gospel isn’t on the menu of beliefs in their culture.

Three of these groups from my recent trip stand out especially to me. One was a people group that was 100% non-Christian. 100%! With another group, we had the privilege of speaking to the first Christian of that village’s people group! We also got to worship with the first indigenous church of one other people group. We heard testimonies of God’s grace and unshakable peace from a lady who, after rejecting Islam and surrendering to Christ, was kicked out of her home at the vulnerable age of sixteen. We heard the gospel proclaimed from brothers and sisters who were the first of their people group to have secured their place in heaven’s worship gathering (Rev 5:9). And we heard stories of unbelievers still considering the faith, wondering, skeptically, what life would even look like in their Muslim tribe if they converted and became the only believer.

As this minimal recap shows, it was a unique and impactful couple of weeks. As I continue to think about the faces of those men, women, and children who do not yet know the Redeemer, I thought it might be helpful to jot down a few thoughts that seem clear to me now in ways that didn’t before the trip.

I Need To Focus More On The Unreached Peoples Of The World – My attention naturally moves towards things like the thoughts and fears of personal failure, people’s opinions of me, and the needs of my family and church. While some of these areas are important, very rarely, does my attention drift towards the plight of the unengaged, unreached people groups of this world. That’s a problem. These people live and die without the gospel. That’s not, of course, the only problem worthy of our attention. But it is worthy of our attention. And that goes for the unreached people around me at home too. It’s easy to be so busy that the unengaged, unreached peoples of the world aren’t given a second thought, just like it’s easy for us to be so busy with our Christian lives that we forget the unreached people all around us. Sure, I’m investing in the lives of unbelievers around me and sharing the gospel consistently. But my time amongst these people groups made me feel an urgency that is often missing in my efforts. It’s easy to let even the Christian “worries of this world” choke out the word of our Christ and shepherd who came to seek and to save the lost (Matt. 13; Matt 10).

I Need To Resize My Problems – Everybody has different sized problems. We have big problems and small problems, and the Bible says this is a normal part of living in a broken world. Our problem—my problem—is that many of what we consider to be our biggest problems aren’t called “big” in Scripture. Jesus says not to worry about our lives or tomorrow (Matt 6:25, 34). Yet, we worry about our homes, education, finances, church size, and more. The Bible calls us to worry about being reconciled to God and the advancement of his kingdom. As the faces of those unreached peoples came into view, I found that many of my biggest worries vanished in a way that never happened in my daily devotionals. There’s something jarring that happens when you look into the faces of those who are facing eternal punishment with little to no access to the gospel. Does anyone have a bigger crisis on their hands than those who not only haven’t believed the gospel, but don’t have access to hearing that gospel? No one has bigger problems than the unreached, unengaged peoples of the earth. Sure, we all still have problems we need to face with God’s help. But I found that the way I viewed my problems were disproportional.

I Need To War Against My Addiction To Busy, Controlled, and Validating Environments – I couldn’t figure out what my problem was at first. I was anxious and fidgety in a place that moved at a much slower pace. I didn’t have access, for the most part, to social media, email or phones. Yet, I couldn’t just chill. After a couple of days, I figured out that I was going through some kind of busyness detox. I had busy habits that I was enslaved to because, I think, they gave me a sense of control. They were areas were I could receive some form of validation—whether through “likes,” “compliments,” etc. Those ministering amongst the unreached, unengaged peoples of the world seemed less “busy,” in an environment they couldn’t control, and validation was nowhere to be found. Sure, many of us must engage in environments that could be good or bad—validating and mission advancing. But I’m walking away from this trip with a fresh awareness of the danger of letting my heart slip into the arms of this soul-killing addiction (Matt 6:1; John 12:43).

I Need To Beware Of Letting God’s Blessings Of Comfort Turn My Heart From His Mission – We live in an incredibly comfortable part of the world. No, I’m not talking about private jets. I’m talking about air conditioning, clean water, beds, and toilets—just to name a few luxuries. As you might have guessed, we didn’t have access to these things for much of the trip. We didn’t have access to our favorite restaurants. We didn’t have access to showers. We didn’t spend our nights in air-conditioned rooms. It was challenging. And we were there about a minute in the grand scheme of things. Our discomfort made us long to be in places other than reaching the unreached, unengaged peoples of the world. While some of those longings are fine, it was alarming to me how easily we can use the comforts God provides to turn our hearts away from the advancement of his mission. Jesus let those considering following him that he had no place to lay his head (Luke 9:58). Jesus’ mission seems to move towards the uncomfortable in the short run.

I Need To Remember God Can Do Anything – When you find yourself in a situation where you feel like you can’t do anything, you’re positioned to see that God can. Even in small things. One such instance happened when we were worshipping with the first indigenous church of a people group that we visited. In the middle of the preaching, my nose started running in a way that it rarely has in my life. Sweating and snotting like crazy, I looked desperately for a tissue. There were no signs of tissue in the small hot box we were worshipping in. And as silly as it sounds, I asked God—I pleaded with God—to provide a tissue before my snot runs all over their floor! Stunningly, right after the preaching, the preacher sat down, turned around, and gave me a tissue! It was the only time it happened the whole trip. No tissues were given to the team members next to me. As small and silly as it seems, it really strengthened my confidence in the God who can do anything. If you saw the situation we were in, it would’ve done the same for you. I took it as a reminder that “our God is in the heavens and he does whatever he pleases (Ps 115:3). There were bigger examples too. On a couple of occasions, before we walked into villages unannounced, we asked God to provide a place to stay and food to eat. We didn’t know anyone. Not a problem for God. We were fed and given places to stay. It was incredible! These are just a couple examples of a time that renewed my confidence in our God who can do anything.

This trip was unlike many trips I’ve been on. When you are working amongst the unengaged, unreached peoples of the world, the work is slow and complicated—and it is urgent. But God’s always doing a trillion things at once. Some of what I think he was doing in my life was helping me see and feel some truths my soul needed. Instead of busyness, I’m choosing purposefulness. Instead of comfort, I’m choosing advancement. Instead of fear, I’m choosing faith. I’m not accepted based on these new commitments, I’m accepted because of my God-given faith in Christ’s work on my behalf. But this saving faith is a faith that pushes believers into greater levels of obedience, freedom, and fulfillment. I hope God uses these thoughts to do the same in your life as well.

Author Jed Coppenger
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7 Steps To Experiencing Real Community (Part 2)

Feb 24

The older you get, the more responsibilities you have, the harder it is to experience real community. Real community is a lot of things, but convenient ain’t one of them. If you want to see real community become a reality in your life, I’ve found that there are a few steps that need to be taken. In the first post, I argued that we need to pray for real community, define real community, and create community building opportunities. Here are the other four.

Look In ALL The Right Places – Often times, Christians just look in some of the right places. They rightly look to their church for community. They go to the events provided for them to connect with people. But, unfortunately, many Christians don’t spend time with unbelievers regularly. God’s called Christians to have real community with Christians in a local church and with non-Christians outside the church. If Jesus created time to hangout with believers and unbelievers, so should we. If you don’t have non-Christian friends, chances are you are putting too high a relational expectation on your Christian friends. Don’t feel guilty missing out on your 4,648 bible study this week so that you can spend time with an unbelieving friend. While some Christians need more time with Christians, I’ve found that most Christians struggle more with finding time with the unbelievers God has placed around them where they live, work, hobby, and more. God advances his mission and meets our community needs when we learn to look in all the right places for community.

Remove False Expectations – We’re all a little like Legos. We only have so many relational slots that can be filled. This relational limitation means we won’t be able to experience real community with as many people as we’d like too. It also means there will be some social circles we aren’t in. We will be left out. This fact is exasperated by the presence of social media. Social media is community porn. It isn’t real. Sure, social media can be great when it helps us keep up with friends, communicate with each other, and more. It’s terrible when it fosters discontentment with our lives, resentment towards others, and unrealistic expectations for community. We weren’t invited to that awesome party with the awesome pictures. We didn’t get to hang out at the coffee shop with that person. Why does that person have such a great, Instagram filtered life? If we aren’t careful, our false expectations—whether created by social media or not—will hinder our pursuit of real community. It could fracture what community we do have. No one creates a slow motion video of the argument they were in with their spouse, the yelling match with their kids, or anything else for Instagram. We have to be careful that we don’t resent other people for having great moments. We need to be careful that we don’t set unrealistic expectations on the community God, in his providence, has given us. Let’s not look for something horizontally that can only be found vertically in Christ.

Identify Your Community Killing Tendencies – We all have community killing tendencies. If we don’t identify them, experiencing real community will become much more difficult. Here’s the truth: We all tend to overlook and forget our mistakes, while highlighting and mediating on others’ perceived mistakes. This ability enables us to create victim narratives in our head—“nobody cares about us,” “people are cliquish”—without recognizing the significant ways we are contributing to the problem. When these ideas have popped into my head, I’ve found it helpful not just to listen to myself, but to question myself: Have I ever turned someone down? Why was it okay for me to do this but not for others? Why is it the case that my turning down of community was really for pure reasons unlike the person I’m frustrated with? Put yourself in the “dock” and question yourself until you identify your community killing tendency. Or, perhaps, your community killing tendency isn’t this, but it’s your busyness. One of the greatest community killers is busyness. If you and your family don’t make community a priority—meaning you don’t miss out on activities you wish you were at—then you won’t experience real community. I remember my wife and I talking about our desire for and lack of community at one point in our marriage. Then someone stopped by and stay longer than we wanted. Our selfish frustration led to conversations that allowed us to see that we were our main problem. We wanted community in the 30 minute time frame we decided 20 minutes before we wanted it to occur. Not gonna happen. Can you be busy and experience real community? Yes. But it’s not easy. Identify and disarm your community killing tendencies so that you can experience the community you were created for.

Trust God’s Timing – If you’re in a season where you don’t have as many friends or the kind of community you wish you had, avoid the temptation to resent God and others. Instead, trust that God has you right where you need to be and where others need to be—even as you plead with God for community. When you rest in God’s providence for you, you will be less tempted to resent God or others of whom you are envious. God is in control of your life, he loves you, and he knows what’s best. Don’t miss the lesson he’s teaching you now as you look for the life you think he’s failed to give you. God often uses “desert” experiences to cause us to learn to depend on him more and appreciate the gifts he gives us. Trust him. Learn from him. Rest in his purposes for you.

If you want to experience community at a level your heart needs, follow these 7 steps and watch what happens!

Author Jed Coppenger
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7 Steps To Experiencing Real Community (Part 1)

Feb 17

It’s a convenient time to be alive. We don’t have to talk on phones connected to the wall, we can talk anywhere at anytime. We don’t have to wait for the 5 o’clock news, we can get it instantly on our phones. We don’t have to wait in line at the local Blockbuster for a movie, we can get one without every getting off the couch—just use the remote to access Netflix from your smartTV. We easily get what we want when we want it.

While this convenience can be great in many ways, it’s not great in every way. There are some things we desire—that we were made for—that are rarely, if ever, convenient. Community is one of these things. Real community is a lot of things, but convenient ain’t one of them. I know lots of people who desire real community, but few who have it. If you want to experience community, real community, I’ve found the following actions put you in a better position to experience it.

Pray for Real Community – If every good gift comes from the Lord—and it does—then ask him for the gift of real community. I’m not just suggesting we pray for real community because it sounds “Christian.” The Bible wants you to know that we need real help here. If Jesus prayed for community, we should too (Jn 17). Often times, we have not because we ask not (Jms 2). If Jesus thought real community required real prayer, don’t you think we should too? The Enemy doesn’t want the church to be marked by real community. He wants to divide and disable. There is real resistance to real community. So start your search for real community with real prayer.

Define Real Community – It’s really difficult to find something when you don’t know what you’re looking for. Real, Christian community is a messy, gospel-centered community where you connect, care, and challenge one another. Connecting involves conversation about life. It involves getting together consistently—whether that is once a week, twice a month, or whatever. Caring for each other involves helping each other out when needs arise, asking about that job promotion, and more. Challenging one another involves you pushing them towards greater Christ-likeness, whether they are a non-Christian being pushed towards the truth or a Christian needing to walk in greater step with the truth. If you find these characteristics in a community, does this mean everyone will relate perfectly and in a way that brings you deep satisfaction? No. Does this mean everyone will be invited to everything every time? No. That’s not possible, as much as we wish it could happen. Let’s not spend our lives chasing a “unicorn” version of community and miss the real thing that’s available right in front of us.

Create Community Building Opportunities – Real community doesn’t just appear. The creation of real community depends on creators of real community. Sure, we all wish things would “click.” But the older you get, the less likely this is to happen. You have “stuff” to do. They have “stuff” to do. Everybody’s busy. This reality alone means you need to be proactive. You have to be a community creator, not just a community consumer, if you want to experience real community. Invite someone to lunch, breakfast, coffee, or whatever else. When they can’t, invite someone else. I’ve often invited several people to get together before I got a yes. Don’t let a few “no’s” turn into a dead end. There are a ton of people out there, try again. When I see people inviting other people to lunch at church, I know they’ll be fine. If I don’t, I worry for them. I do worry for the ones that never do. I do worry for the ones who never come to the opportunities created for them. Don’t just wait for perfect community opportunities to consume, take the initiative and create community building opportunities.

In the next post I’ll include the last four steps to experiencing real community.

Author Jed Coppenger
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Praying For More Men And Women Like Elizabeth Bunyan

Feb 05

Elizabeth Bunyan was an incredible woman of God. She was the second wife of John Bunyan, a well known pastor from the 1600’s. She married John after his first wife died. Unfortunately, just a couple of years after Elizabeth’s marriage to John, he was put in jail for preaching the gospel. This left her–an English peasant woman–all alone to care for John’s four children from his previous marriage, one of which was blind, while she was pregnant! To make things worse, the stress that she was under contributed to the miscarriage of her child. Heartbreaking circumstances.

Yet, in the midst of her difficulties, she repeatedly went to the authorities to fight for her husband’s release. Here is one interaction that gives you a glimpse into what kind of an incredible woman she was. Hope it inspires you.

The official asked her: “[If we released him], would he stop preaching?”

 

She replies: “My lord, he dares not leave off preaching as long as he can speak.”

 

Official: “What is the need of talking?”

 

She replies: “There is need for this, my lord, for I have four small children that cannot help themselves, of which one is blind, and we have nothing to live upon but the charity of good people.”

 

After an official asks if she really has four children so young, she says: “My lord, I am but mother-in-law [stepmother] to them, having not been married to him yet full two years. Indeed, I was with child when my husband was first apprehended; but being young and unaccustomed to such things, I being smayed at the news, fell into labor, and so continued for eight days, and then was delivered; but my child died.”

 

Some of the other officials spoke up against John, saying: “He is a mere tinker!”

 

She replies: “Yes, and because he is a tinker and a poor man, therefore he is despised and cannot have justice.”

 

One official angrily replies: “Bunyan will preach and do as he wishes…”

 

She replies: “He preacheth nothing but the word of God!”

 

Another official replies: “He runneth up and down and doeth harm.”

 

She replies: “No, my lord, it is not so; God hath owned him and done much good by him.”

 

The official continues: “His doctrine is the doctrine of the devil!”

 

She replies: “My lord, when the righteous Judge shall appear, it will be known that his doctrine is not the doctrine of the devil.”

 

May God grant all of us the courage, strength, and conviction of Elizabeth Bunyan!

Thanks to John Piper’s The Hidden Smile of God for pointing me to this interaction (p. 55).

Author Jed Coppenger
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4 Neglected Truths For Change

Jan 28

Just about everybody is interested in how to change for the better. We make resolutions, try to create new habits, start a new diet, and any other number of things that we hope will change our lives. Unfortunately, at the very same time, smaller and smaller amounts of people—even professed Christians—believe the church is a necessary part of changing their life. But a basic reading of the New Testament shows us a different vision of change. In fact, it shows us that Christianity is always lived out in the context of local churches. The people of God are meant to be a people of change. That’s why I think it’s important for people looking for real change to remember these four neglected truths for change.

Real Change Requires Real Relationships With Your Church – It’s hard to come away from a reading of the New Testament and not realize that our relationship with Jesus is intimately personal, but far from private. After all, the Bible uses language like “family” and “body” to describe the type of relationships that should characterize his followers (Rom. 12:1-9). These “up close and personal” relationships take place in local churches. In God’s plan of salvation, during the time between when we are declared righteous by faith (Rom. 3:21-26) to when we are completely conformed into the image of the righteous one Jesus (Rom. 8:29), God places us in churches. As we are changed into Christ’s image, we are members of Christ’s body. God’s plan for changing people always includes belonging to his people of change. Do you have a real—committed—relationship with a church?

Real Change Requires Real Pain From Your Church – If you follow God’s plan for change by belonging to his people of change, you’ll experience pain. After all, the same people that are called to love one another with “family affection” are also the ones who were God’s “enemies” just a few weeks, months, and years earlier (Rom. 5). The cross of Christ tells us that every person we encounter is capable of more sin than they know while being loved more than they know. This means we shouldn’t be surprised when people sin against us, we should expect it. We shouldn’t think that the presence of pain in our lives from the church equals the absence of God’s great plan for change for us. God uses the painful actions from the church to make us more like Christ. There is no pain free path to conformity to Christ. What they mean for evil, God means for good (Gen. 50:20). That’s why the Apostle Paul tells us that we need to do what we can to live at peace with one another and not to pay back evil with evil (Rom. 12:16-20). Loving people like Jesus means loving people who hurt you.

Real Change Requires Real Conversations With Your Church – The church isn’t for good people in need of small amounts of change, it’s for dead people in need of resurrection. That’s a lot of change. It’s for guilty people in need of forgiveness. It’s for enslaved people in need of redemption. And the Apostle Paul tells us that although Christians have been justified by faith in Christ (Rom. 3:21-26), they are struggling to become like Christ. This struggle, this process, is called progressive sanctification. Since we are in this process, we should expect people to talk about serious Romans 1 and 2 struggles. They should be “real” about their struggles, not pretending they’re not struggling. The Bible already told us that they are. Jesus isn’t shocked by people’s sins and we shouldn’t be either. Create space for real conversations by being real about your struggles.

Real Change Requires Redemptive Conversations With Your Church – Jesus wasn’t shocked by people’s sin, but he wasn’t fine their sin either. You can’t just be real about your struggles, you need to be real about God’s redemptive grace. The more you experience the redemptive grace of God in Christ, the more you’re able to help other people experience that grace. God puts us in conversational moments to speak God’s redemptive grace into people’s lives and situations that need it. This isn’t just a role for preachers. It’s an all hands on deck kind of thing. People questioning God’s love need to here Romans 8:32. People struggling with a guilty conscience need Romans 8:1. People wondering where God is, need to hear Romans 8:28. You don’t need a phd in theology to learn how to speak truth and grace into people’s lives. Just cherish the gospel in your heart so that you can put it into the hearts of others. It takes a lot of grace administered in conversational moments to make you more like Jesus. Be prepared to receive and administer grace in redemptive conversations.

God’s process of change includes real involvement with his people of change—the church. How are you seeing God use these relationships and conversations to change your life?

Author Jed Coppenger
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4 Lies Christians Tell Themselves

Jan 19

We are incredibly gifted at making the worst choice seem like the best choice. Our sinful tendencies—our flesh—can easily make the least satisfying way, seem appetizing (Gal. 5:17). You might say our flesh advertises like it’s serving a Stony River steak, but in reality it always serves Taco Bell “meat.” That’s why it’s so important that we learn to pinpoint the types of lies we tell ourselves. If we identify the lies we tell ourselves, we’ll be able to live lives more in touch with reality.

This is one of the reasons I’m so thankful for passages like Galatians 5:16-25. When a careful reading of this passage is coupled with an awareness of the tendencies of our hearts, we can identify the following four lies we all tend to tell ourselves.

Lie #1: Our Sin Isn’t As Bad As “Their” Sin – We all tend to minimize the seriousness of our sin and maximize the seriousness of other people’s sins. We look down on the people who sin differently than us. Yet, when you look at the list of sins in passages like Galatians 5:19-21, it’s hard not to notice that “outbursts of anger” are put on the same level of “sexual immorality.” All of these, the Apostle Paul says, are serious enough to keep you from inheriting “the kingdom of God.” That’s serious stuff. The Apostle Paul was an equal opportunity offender. The Spirit helps us see the seriousness of our sins as well as others. This, in turn, helps us not waste our days thinking as much about the problems of others as much as we are reveling in the grace of God shown to us.

Lie #2: Our Plans Are Better Than God’s Plans – We don’t often articulate this lie but our emotions often show us we believe it. While the Apostle Paul says that we should be marked by “peace,” most of us live anxious lives. We’re anxious that our careers won’t go the way we want them too. We’re anxious that our love lives won’t work out like we think they should. We’re anxious about our health. We’re anxious about our church. We wonder if we’ll make budget. We’re an anxious people. But God wants us to be a peaceful people. The Spirit empowers us to be a peaceful people. When we are anxious about some potential outcome, we show that we believe God won’t get it right. The presence of anxiety in us shows the absence of our confidence in him. This anxious thinking comes natural and it points to a lie we believe. His plans are best, so trust him. When you do, you’ll be able to walk in peace.

Lie #3: We Can Pick And Choose Which Parts Of The Fruit Of The Spirit To Embody – The Apostle Paul doesn’t say “fruits” of the Spirit, he says the “fruit” of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22). We all naturally look like we embody one or two of the characteristics on the “fruit of the Spirit” list, but it takes the work of the Spirit to cause all of the traits to be present. Self-controlled people are often impatient with people who are not. Self-controlled people are often missing peace about the areas they can’t control, like the upcoming work presentation, relational difficulty, health concern, or how their kids will do. We all seem to embody one or two of these, but it’s just flesh with a tuxedo on. It takes a real work of the Spirit to be marked by all of these at the same time. That’s the kind of change God’s after. Don’t settle for less.

Lie #4: The Presence Of The Fruit Of The Spirit In Our Lives Requires The Right Circumstances – The Apostle Paul says that love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control are present because of the work of the Spirit. He doesn’t say that they show up when our circumstances are just right. While we might come out and say that, our excuses indicate we believe it. “I didn’t get enough sleep.” “I just have a lot on my plate.” “My kids are wearing me out.” “I’ll treat her that way when she treats me the right way.” Whether your getting the recognition you think you deserve or not; whether you think you’re getting treated the way you think or not; the Scriptures say that the Spirit is seeking to produce his fruit in your life. Don’t wait for the perfect circumstance to be marked by the Spirit’s fruit. Focus on the perfect grace of God in the midst of your imperfect circumstances and watch the Spirit work.

When we’re able to identify some of the lies we tell ourselves, we put ourselves in a better position to walk in touch with reality, experience a more satisfying life, and help others do the same. Ask God to help you see the areas where you might believe these lies. Ask him to help you break free from them so that you can bring him greater glory and the world greater good.

Author Jed Coppenger
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3 Reasons Why “Change Seekers” Should Prioritize Bible Intake In 2016

Jan 12

There’s a new baseball Hall of Fame class. Most fans will recognize the names of some of the inductees, like Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza. Most fans might also notice that there are a few key names missing, like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. Both of these players who had Hall of Fame careers, can’t find their way into the Hall of Fame because of their PED use.

While most of us will never be tempted to take PEDs for our middle class jobs, I think we all understand Bonds’ and Clemens’ temptation to use them. We all know what it’s like to want to change to be something or achieve something that we know we can’t in and of ourselves. We all know what it’s like to look outside of ourselves for help. And we all know what it’s like to look for help in the wrong places.

In fact, if we’re honest, I think we all give into this temptation throughout our days, weeks, and years. That’s why I’d like to point “change seekers” attention to the Bible for that help as we begin 2016. The Bible claims to be the “one stop shop” source for real change, for at least the following reasons.

God Uses His Word To Speak To Us Truthfully About Real Change – If you want to understand the importance of the Bible, you start with Bible’s claim that there’s a God and he’s spoken (2 Tim 3:16). If the creator God has spoken, the most logical thing to do is listen. If you do, you’ll notice that he claims to speak the truth about the nature of your humanity, your problems, and your solution. Any approach to change that misunderstands your nature, your problems, and/or your solution, will ultimately fail to bring about the change you long for. And every theory that departs from Scriptures teaching on change, fails to bring about the change you need. When you need change, you need the truth, and God’s word is truth. That’s one reason to make the Bible your source for real change.

God Uses His Word To Speak To Us Sufficiently About Real Change – The Bible also claims that in it God has said everything we need to be equipped for “every” good work (2 Tim. 3:17). What an audacious claim! He wants “change seekers” to know that his word is the sufficient change source. The Bible, of course, doesn’t claim to tell us everything we could possibly know, just everything we need to know (Deut. 29:29). Want to know which potential changes in your life should be prioritized? Go to God’s sufficient word and get on track to be transformed into a person ready for “every” good work.

God Uses His Word To Speak To Us Powerfully About Real Change – The same God speaking throughout the pages of the Bible is the one who spoke all things into existence (Gen. 1:1-2). This is a powerful word! If it weren’t for the gospel, the powerful word of God would overwhelm us. It would come to us as a powerful word of just condemnation. But, by God’s grace, God’s word becomes a powerful word of hope to the condemned through the gospel (Rom. 3:21-26). As God’s people walk by faith in the gospel, they continue to experience the transforming power of God in the Bible (Rom. 12:1-2). Real change happens when God’s people experience God’s power in God’s word.

There’s no source more worthy of the attention of “change seekers” in 2016. I’m praying that everyone, especially the Redemption City family, prioritizes God’s word in their lives. If you’re wondering how to experience the power of God’s word, look for the next post. It will offer a few practical ways to experience his power in his word.

Author Jed Coppenger
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3 Keys To Experience Unceasing Peace Through Unceasing Prayer

Jan 08

There aren’t a lot of teachers that are children. They don’t have the knowledge and experience needed, obviously, to teach. But there are some things they do naturally that—if we pay close attention—might help us learn a thing or two. I think one of those is found in the way they talk to their parents. No, not all the ways they talk to their parents. I’m talking about the way they talk to their parents about what’s really on their minds, the way they’re all over the place, and the way they often trust their parents to do what’s best (sometimes:). I think this example offers us insight into HOW we might experience unceasing peace through unceasing prayer.

God gives unceasing peace through unceasing prayer when we talk to him about what’s really on our hearts – I’ve learned that praying without ceasing makes sense because life is filled with unceasing challenges. Not just daily, but hourly—even minute by minute occasionally—we find ourselves in situations where we desperately need God’s help. But often times we don’t talk to God about these things. We think prayer is talking to God about “spiritual” things, not “real” things. Thankfully, the Psalmists’ prayers show us that God is happy for us to talk to him about what’s on our hearts (Ps. 5, 6, 62, 88). What are you fearful of? Talk to God about it. Where are you weary? Talk to God about it. Angry, sad, depressed, happy, or any other emotion? Talk to God about it. I’ve found that if I don’t talk to him about what’s really on my heart, my mind tends to wander there—leaving prayer and God behind. Instead, take God to those places that have your attention. You won’t experience real peace without real talk with God. Talk to your Father in heaven about what’s really on your heart.

God gives unceasing peace through unceasing prayer when we aren’t afraid of being messy – When you talk to God about what’s really on your mind, you’ll find yourself saying things you think are “out of bounds.” That’s why the psalmists are so helpful. They show us that there are a lot of appropriate ways to talk to God. Don’t be afraid of the mess. God isn’t. Like a child who doesn’t know the difference between muddy boots outside on the grass and muddy boots on your new carpet, come to God with that childlike lack of awareness. Jesus isn’t surprised by our mess. He knows we’re messy. That’s why he died for us. So when you aren’t organized, articulate, on topic, or put together, don’t stop. Bring your mess to God in a messy fashion, if you want to find peace on the other side of your prayer.

God gives unceasing peace through unceasing prayer when we trust him enough to thank him ahead of time for doing what’s best with our request – After you talk to God about what’s really on your mind in a messy way, you have to trust him to do what’s best with your request. You have to surrender your perspective on what’s best to his. If you do, you’ll be at peace. When you trust God with your requests for the future, you’ll experience peace in the present. When you don’t, you don’t. That’s why the Apostle Paul told the Philippians to offer their prayers with “thanksgiving” (Phil. 4:6-7). They were to thank God for his answer before they knew his answer. How can you do that? Deep trust. A God big enough to answer prayers is big enough to have good reasons that you don’t know of for answering your prayers in a way you don’t like. Anxiety exists when we think God will mess up our future. Peace exists when we think God will create the best future possible for us. When you make your requests, trust God so much that you can thank him before you know his answer. Say to God, with deep contentment, “your will be done” (Matt. 6:10).

When we learn to talk to God about our worries, fears, pains, plans, and everything else in life, we’re on the road to peace creating prayer. When we trust God enough to thank him for his answer to our prayers before we know them, we’ll find an unceasing peace through our unceasing prayer that uniquely comes from the Prince of Peace.

Author Jed Coppenger
Category Uncategorized
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3 Reasons Why Overachievers Should Prioritize Prayer In 2016

Jan 05

If you read any of the “Top Resolutions for 2016” lists, you’ll notice that just like last year, people are resolving to lose weight, exercise more, eat better, and write that book. The reason these resolutions reappear probably has to do with the fact that our good intentions rarely arrive at the intended outcomes. We find the weight we lost, we can’t find our way to the gym in September, saying yes to sugar is easier than saying no, and books are hard to write.

Yet we continue to make resolutions. We continue to make resolutions because we continue to believe that change is possible, that a better life is on the other side of a few changes, and more.

As you make your resolutions I’d commend to you that you add one to the list that might make a difference in all of the rest. I’d ask you to put the Apostle Paul’s command to “pray without ceasing,” on your list (1 Thess. 5:17). Before your eyes glaze over at the mention of “praying,” consider for a second that this is a guy who helped lead a movement with less technological advancement, less 21st century “know how,” less organizational sophistication, that accomplished something more lasting than any one of us has.

You should pray without ceasing this year because:

God can do more in a moment than we can do in a lifetime – I forget where I first heard it, but a quick reading of Scripture certainly shows that it’s true. The psalmist tells us “our God is in the heavens and he does whatever he pleases” (Ps. 115:3). Whatever? Yes, whatever. He spoke the universe into existence (Gen. 1). He freed the Israelite slaves from the Egyptian super power (Ex. 4-12). When he came to earth as the God-man, Jesus, he gave sight to the blind, healed the sick, and raised the dead. He does whatever he pleases. Your view of prayer is shaped in large part by your view of God. When you see that God can do more in a moment than you can do in a lifetime, you see why you should start asking for his help.

God loves to show us that he is present, active, and able to work by answering our prayers – The powerful God of the Bible shows us he loves to answer prayers. Just look at the book of Acts and you’ll see over and over God answering prayers. Before the Apostle Peter’s preaching at Pentecost changed thousands of lives, there was the prayer time in the upper room (Act 1:14). Before the earthquake and evangelistic explosion, there was prayer (Acts 4:31). Before Tabitha was resurrected, the Apostle Peter prayed (Acts 9:40). Before the angel miraculously led Peter out of jail, the church prayed (Acts 12:5). You get the picture. God love to show that he is present, active, and able to do more in a moment than we can do in a lifetime by answering the prayers of his people.

God uses our unceasing prayers as a reminder of our unceasing dependence on Him – God designed us to be dependent on him. He is the Creator and we are his creation. Unfortunately, since sin entered into the world, we go against the grain of creation by trying to live independently of him. That’s why our lives are filled with such worry, anxiety, anger, and other unwanted states of mind. Paul Miller rightly says, “godlike posture without godlike power is pure tension.” Quit trying to act like the self-sufficient, all-knowing, all-powerful, all-wise God, and live like you were designed to live—dependent on God. Unceasing prayer serves as a reminder of our unceasing dependence on God.

Accomplish more and worry less this 2016 by committing to be a person who “prays without ceasing.” If you’re committed to “praying without ceasing,” but don’t know where to start, I’ll show you how in the next post.

Author Jed Coppenger
Category Prayer
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Rest in God’s Care

Nov 30

“The fact of the matter is that we will never figure God out. He will never do all the things that we were expecting. He will never stay on our agenda page. He will never be comfortably predictable. If we rest in God’s care only when we understand just what he’s doing, there will be many times and places where we won’t rest in his care. The danger in all of this is this: we simply do not run for help to someone whom we have come to distrust. It is in the moments of hardship when what God is doing doesn’t make any sense that it is all the more important to preach to ourselves the gospel of his unshakable, unrelenting, ever-present care. He is actively caring for you and me even in those moments when we don’t understand his care and can’t figure out what he is doing.

 

I will not tell myself that I am alone. I will not allow myself to think that I am poor. I will not give way to ministry panic or paralysis. I will not look for help where help cannot be found. God is with me, and he cares, and that guarantees that I do have and will have everything I need to be what I am called to be and to do what I have been chosen to do in the particular place of ministry to which he has appointed me.”

 

Paul Tripp in Dangerous Calling (217-18).

Author Jed Coppenger
Category Uncategorized
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