Julian Freeman

Freed to live through the death of another.

Tag: Prayer (page 2 of 3)

That Is Sin

Have you ever experienced an uneasy conscience? It’s not guilty, because you’re not sure you sinned, but it’s also not clear, because you’re not sure that you haven’t sinned. It’s just uneasy.

Have you ever tried to identify sin in your life so as to confess it to God or to others? Have you ever wondered if a specific action is something that needs to be repented of or whether it is acceptable?

Have you ever tried to lovingly challenge someone on something that seems awry in their life, but haven’t been able to put your finger on what the problem really is?

I’m convinced that a lot of time when we lack clarity in our conversations and prayers regarding sin, it is because we are not labouring to think in biblical categories. Several years ago, someone challenged me to try to keep my conversations about sin tied to biblical words. That way we can speak of sin as sin… and if something is not sin, then we must deal with it in the realm of preference or simply freedom.

Continue reading

It’s a Strange Thing Being a Pastor

Being a pastor is a strange thing.

We proclaim a message with the power of God to change people, but we can’t even change ourselves. We call others to perfection, as Jesus did, but our lives are full of imperfection. We must shepherd like the Shepherd though we’re just one of the sheep.

We seek to make Christ increase (though he’s invisible to human eyes) as we seek to decrease (though we stand in plain view week-by-week). We say numbers don’t matter, but long for many to be saved. We labour to grow the church, even though we realize each soul increases our accountability before God.

We try to express the Infinite and Eternal in 45 minutes or less; obviously we fail, so we try again next week.

We spend our lives studying a book that we’ll never fully grasp and we labour to explain it to a people who can’t understand apart from the work of a third party. The more we study, the more certain we become of the wisdom of God and our own foolishness; and yet we must preach on.

Continue reading

Please Pray for Your Pastor

Back at the end of February Stephen Altrogge wrote a very helpful post titled, ‘The Best Thing You Can Do for Your Pastor.’ In it he reminded us of the truth of 2 Corinthians 1.11:

You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.

If the apostle Paul and his apostolic band needed prayer (and ‘the prayers of many’ at that!), then certainly ordinary pastors like me need prayer. Stephen then offered these practical tips on how to pray for your pastor, which I very much appreciated:

  • Pray that they will have spiritual and emotional endurance. Being a pastor is a wonderful job, but it can also be a very draining job. I need endurance to continue working with joy.
  • Pray that they will have rich fellowship with the Lord. The pastor’s power comes from the Lord. I need God to meet me and refresh week after week.
  • Pray that your pastor will be protected from temptation. If Satan can take down a shepherd, the sheep are much more vulnerable. I need the Lord to protect me from the temptations of pride, greed, lust, impatience, and a host of other sins.
  • Pray that your pastor will preach with power. Apart from the power of the Holy Spirit, a sermon will be nothing more than an eloquent boatload of hoogly. I need the Holy Spirit to put power behind my words.

In this post I just wanted to take a moment to expand on Stephen’s last point about praying for the pastor’s preaching. In our home we pray as a family for the preacher on Saturday nights in particular. Typically if it is one of the children praying, the prayer amounts to ‘Please help Daddy to preach well’ and sometimes not much more. That’s fine if it’s a four year-old praying, but it strikes me that a lot of people who have never preached simply don’t know how to pray for their pastor much better than that.

Continue reading

Good News for Toronto!

Some of you may remember that a while ago Paul McDonald was authoring a blog called ‘Good News for Toronto’. Well, I have some good news: Paul has begun blogging again!

His blog is devoted to experiences, questions, reflections, and thoughts on evangelism in the city of Toronto. It is an excellent resource and an excellent read. He has already written two posts this week. Here is an excerpt from the first:

Whatever happened to that evangelism blog? Wasn’t it called Good News for Toronto … or something like that? It was, it still is; in fact, it has been resurrected!

My last post was in May of 2010 (yikes! … it was  year of Sabbath rest!). Lots has happened since. Caleb was born (Dec 4, 2010) – Georgie and I love him so much!!! Praise be to God for such kindness to us! I served as Pastor of Lakeview Baptist Church for a year! And well … lots of other stuff too.

Something really cool just happened a couple of weeks ago. My dear brothers and sisters at the Grace Fellowship Church plant in Don Mills hired me to help in the work of establishing the Church! Georgie and I have long standing friendships with many of them so we are very humbled to receive this mercy – this opportunity to walk in the works that God has prepared for us here (Eph 2.10).

Read more…

I highly recommend you adding Paul’s blog to your RSS feed.

Autumn Church Plant Updates

Hired Help

Paul & Georgie with Caleb

We are thrilled to announce the hiring of Paul McDonald to a half-time position where he will oversee ministries relating to evangelism and discipleship. Far from being a hired-gun evangelist, we’re desirous of putting Paul to work equipping the saints for the work of the ministry, creating a culture of evangelism and discipleship within the body.

Some of his work will include:

  • Training for evangelism and leading evangelistic efforts
  • Some one-on-one discipleship and mentoring
  • Small group studies
  • Preaching and teaching various series as appropriate
  • Labouring for the church in prayer
  • Providing the church with global missions vision & awareness

I’m so excited to work with Paul! In God’s providence we attended seminary together and have laboured together for a number of years at GFC Rexdale before the church plant. He is a man of unquestionable character, by God’s grace, and is, as Titus says, ‘zealous for good works.’ I can’t wait to see the impact of his ministry in our local body.

A Meeting Place

We continue to meet at Greenland Public School. We are so thankful to God for the renewal of the permit which just came through last week. God has provided for us in great ways! With this permit we have been granted the use of two rooms we were previously denied access to—and they are great! They will facilitate better ministries to children and families, so we are thankful for that.

From Mark to Peter

We have finished working our way through our first book studied together on Sunday mornings: Mark’s Gospel. From there we will launch into 1 Peter on September 18. Please pray for me as I study and plan out that series in the coming weeks.

A Full Fall

This autumn we launch our full ministry schedule for the first time. We’ll be meeting for corporate worship Sunday mornings, doing group studies and children’s ministry on Sunday nights, and our small groups (Truth Application Groups) midweek in various homes. One thing I’m really excited about is the prospect of having all of our small groups led by members of the church rather than pastoral staff. What a blessing to have the congregation ministering to each other! I’m so thankful to God for giving us so many mature men & women from the start.

A Big Sunday

This past Sunday we ran out of chairs and bulletins. The gym where we meet felt full. In reality there was a lot of room to grow, but compared to previous summer weeks, this felt like a big change. It was an anomaly in the sense that many of the visitors from this past week were only visiting for one week, but it gave us a taste of great things to come.

A Week of Prayer

Beginning programs and ministries and beginning to see growth, far from making us feel strong, makes us feel our weakness, inadequacy and dependence more than ever. As a church we’re dedicating ourselves to prayer this week as we launch into our new fall schedule. Would you please join us in prayer? Ask our God and Father to strengthen us and equip us for the work he has called us to. Ask that we might be granted strength through his Spirit to comprehend the magnitude of the love of Christ, so that as a church, we might be built up to maturity, and that we might be increasingly conformed to Jesus, made a suitable dwelling place for our Lord.

Singing a Hymn with Jesus

The Last Supper

Mark 14.26 has always struck me as a bit of a funny verse. I’ve always wondered just why Mark felt it was necessary to insert this little detail into the narrative of Jesus’s last night. After they finish eating the Passover meal, where Jesus institutes the Lord’s Supper, we hear this: “And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.”

Why do we need to know that, I wondered.

As it turns out, this was part of the Passover meal as celebrated according to the Mishnah. The Hallel Psalms (Psalms 115-118) were sung at various points in the evening, especially toward the end, with the drinking of the fourth cup (there are four total). And it all wraps up around midnight.

So this detail is important for a number of reasons, not the least of which that it specifies the chronology of events as passing from evening (14.17) to midnight (here), to cock-crow (14.72), to morning (15.1), just exactly as Jesus had predicted the previous day in the Olivet Discourse (Mark 13.35). This is unfolding exactly as Jesus has predicted the ‘coming’ of the Son of Man would.

But beyond that, my (hopefully sanctified) imagination got working. The disciples got to sing a hymn with Jesus. What would that be like? How cool would it be to sing with my Lord? And then I got to thinking about what they would have actually been singing; so I went back and read those Hallel Psalms.

Psalm 118 is significant, of course, because it’s the Psalm that the people are reciting when Jesus approaches Jerusalem in Mark 11. Psalm 117 is glorious, but short, so probably not what they would have been singing (or at least not all that they would have sung). Psalm 115 would probably have been sung earlier, leading to them likely (this is definitely speculation) singing Psalm 116 as Jesus prepares to go out to Gethsemane.

Can I challenge you with something? At some point today, read Psalm 116 as Jesus would have sung it that night. Imagine what was going on in our Lord’s heart as he prepared for Gethsemane and Golgotha. Imagine how these words took on meaning like never before:

I love the Lord, because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy.
Because he inclined his ear to me,therefore I will call on him as long as I live.
The snares of death encompassed me; the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me; I suffered distress and anguish.
Then I called on the name of the Lord: “O Lord, I pray, deliver my soul!”

Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; our God is merciful.
The Lord preserves the simple; when I was brought low, he saved me.
Return, O my soul, to your rest; for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.

For you have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling;
I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living.

I believed, even when I spoke, “I am greatly afflicted”;
I said in my alarm, “All mankind are liars.”

What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits to me?
I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord,
I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people.

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.
O Lord, I am your servant; I am your servant, the son of your maidservant.
You have loosed my bonds.
I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the Lord.
I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people,
in the courts of the house of the Lord, in your midst, O Jerusalem.
Praise the Lord! (Psalm 116, ESV)

And now, think about us. How amazing is it that we can sing about God hearing our pleas for mercy because Christ went to Golgotha? How precious is it that he inclines his ear to us because he did not incline his ear to his Son in Gethsemane? How wonderful that the snares of death which encompassed Christ have been defeated so that I will never feel the pangs of Sheol! I can call on the name of the Lord and ask him to deliver me, and know for certain that he will because he first delivered Jesus, the firstborn from the dead.

Now I actually can sing Psalm 116 with my Lord in an even truer sense than the disciples did on that fateful night. What they sung, unaware, I sing with retrospective faith, believing that Jesus has forever filled up the meaning of this Psalm, and will always sing it with me.

Prayer

Martin Luther's Prayer Book

I’m fighting the urge to fill this post with inspirational quotes on prayer. They’re everywhere. It’s a funny thing, but people (myself included!) often seem to be able to write things about prayer a lot better than they are able to actually pray. That’s sad.

It’s also true that it’s very easy to make people feel very guilty very quickly about how little we pray, or how little faith we actually have even when we do pray. I don’t want to make anyone feel guilty about that.

All I want to say is this: I’ve never regretted a moment I’ve spent in prayer.

And that’s saying something. I’ve regretted time I’ve spent with people. I’ve regretted investments I’ve made. I’ve regretted places I’ve gone, things I’ve said, things I’ve thought, and things I’ve wished. I’ve regretted decisions I made for our family and decisions I made for our church. I’ve regretted things in just about every area of my mistake-filled life. But I’ve never regretted praying. Not once.

I’ve never ever met with God and then thought, ‘Boy, that was a waste of time…’ or ‘Now how was that worth it?’ It’s always worth it. It’s never a mistake.

I pray that for however long God gives me on this earth, my life would be one continually filled with an ever-increasing awareness of my dependency on God, leading to an ever-increasing felt-need for prayer, which leads to an ever-increasing quantity and quality of prayer. I know I won’t regret it.

————

** This is written as part of the series 30 for 30: Reflections on Life at My 30th Birthday **

Older posts Newer posts

© 2017 Julian Freeman

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑