Category Archives: Spirituality & Money Gate

Reignite Your Prayer Life

Reignite Your Prayer Life

How’s your prayer life?

Hardly any question — unless perhaps if someone asks about your evangelistic efforts — can cause more chin-dropping, foot-shuffling embarrassment for Christians than asking about their prayer life.

Why is that? Why do so many followers of Jesus suffer with such unsatisfying prayer lives and consider themselves hopelessly second-rate Christians because of it?

Method Is Our Madness

For almost all followers of Jesus, I believe the problem in prayer is not with the quality of the Christian, but with the method of their prayer.

Of course, no change in method will make prayer consistently meaningful to someone who is spiritually dead. But it’s different for those who are spiritually alive. They are born again through faith in Christ and indwelled by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit’s presence causes them as God’s children to cry, “Abba, Father!” (Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6), giving them a Godward orientation they didn’t have before.

In other words, all those indwelled by the Holy Spirit really do want to pray. And if an individual Christian sincerely seeks to live for Christ, and has no specific sin issue that he or she refuses to confess and fight against, then the basic problem in prayer is not with sin or failure, but with method.

And what is the method of prayer for most Christians? It’s this: When we pray, we tend to say the same old things about the same old things. Sooner or later, that kind of prayer is boring. When prayer is boring, you don’t feel like praying. And when you don’t feel like praying, you don’t pray — at least with any fervency or consistency. Prayer feels much more like duty than delight.

The problem is not that we pray about the same old things. To pray about the same things most of the time is normal. That’s because our lives tend to consist of the same things from one day to the next. Thankfully, dramatic changes in our lives usually don’t occur very often.

No, the problem isn’t that we pray about the same old things; the problem is that we tend to say the same old things about the same old things. The result is that we can be talking to the most fascinating Person in the universe about the most important things in our lives — and be bored to death.

So we can experience boredom in prayer, not because we don’t love God, and not because we don’t love who or what we’re praying about, but because of our method.

Solution in the Spirit

What is the solution? Well, whatever it is, it must be simple. God has children all over the planet, and they represent the widest imaginable diversity in language, culture, age, IQ, education, and Christian privilege (such as access to a Bible preaching church, Christian books, Christian content online, and more). If all these believers, despite the various and dramatic differences among them, are invited to pray, then prayer must be doable by all God’s children.

The simple solution to the seemingly universal problem of saying the same old things about the same old things in prayer is this: Pray the Bible. In other words, slowly read a passage of Scripture and pray about all that comes to mind as you read.

Do this, and you’ll never again be left to say the same old things in prayer.

Simple, Powerful, Biblical

Praying the Bible isn’t complicated. Read through a few verses of Scripture, pause at the end of each phrase or verse, and pray about what the words suggest to you.

Suppose you are praying your way through Psalm 23. After reading verse one — “The Lord is my shepherd” — you might begin by thanking Jesus for being your Shepherd. Next you might ask him to shepherd your family, making your children or grandchildren his sheep, causing them to love him as their great Shepherd too. After that you might pray for your undershepherds at the church, that Jesus would shepherd them as they shepherd you.

Then, when nothing else comes to mind, you go to the next line, “I shall not want.” You might thank him that you’ve never been in real want, or pray for someone — perhaps someone you know, or for a Christian in a place of persecution — who is in want.

You would continue through the psalm until you run out of time. You wouldn’t run out of anything to say (if you did, you could just go to another psalm), and best of all, that prayer would be unlike any you’ve ever prayed in your life.

That means if you’ll pray the Bible, you’ll never again say the same old things about the same old things. You don’t need any notes or books or any plan to remember. Simply talk to God about what comes to mind as you go line-by-line through his word.

As John Piper puts it, “Open the Bible, start reading it, and pause at every verse and turn it into a prayer.”

If nothing comes to mind, go to the next verse. If you don’t understand that verse, go to the next one. If the following verse is crystal clear, but doesn’t prompt anything to pray about, read on. If you want to linger long over a single verse, pray from and about that verse as long as you want.

By this method, your prayers will be guided and shaped by Scripture, and be far more in conformity to the word and will of God than they will if you always make up your own prayers.

Jesus prayed the Bible in Matthew 27:46 and Luke 23:46, and the early church prayed the Bible in Acts 4:23–26, and so can you.


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World stocks climb after Fed minutes; oil jumps

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock ExchangeBy Caroline Valetkevitch NEW YORK (Reuters) – World stock indexes climbed and the dollar dipped on Thursday as minutes from the latest Federal Reserve meeting showed policymakers view low inflation as a hurdle to raising rates. U.S. crude oil prices briefly traded above $50 for the first time since July and added to gains late after a closely watched oil forecaster predicted prices would climb to $75 over the next two years. According to minutes from the Fed's Sept. 16-17 meeting, the central bank thought the economy was close to warranting an interest rate hike in September but decided it was better to wait for evidence that a global economic slowdown was not knocking the United States off course.


Only Christ Can Truly Satisfy

Only Christ Can Truly Satisfy

We are honored to partner with our friends at Lamp Mode Recordings to launch the new video for “Satisfy” from the London-based rapper, S.O., off his new album So It Ends.

Every person in the world wants to know what will make him or her happy. We’re all desperately seeking for the person, place, or thing that will meet our expectations, needs, and wants. What will truly satisfy the desires of our heart?

As children, we thought it might be that bag of potato chips we begged our parents for at the store or that new bike, video game, or doll we wanted for Christmas. We thought they would make us happy. But they didn’t. As teenagers, we sought satisfaction in good grades, athletic accomplishments, a car, or in a significant other. But all of it left us discontent. As adults, we think that a bigger house, more (or less) children, or a better job will quench our thirst. But we’re still left wanting more.

These lyrics from S.O.’s new single resonate with all of us:

How it feel like, chasing the wind hommie? Don’t we do it all the time? We never chase God but think that the women or the money will forever satisfy. That ain’t what we were designed for & I can tell you that with my eyes closed or blindfolded. It’s mind-blowing, our souls need God cuzzy that there I know, [brotha] yes I know

We were designed for more than the trivial pursuit of pleasure. The hard truth is that we will never find relief if we continue to seek it through possessions or through people. Seeking satisfaction in the things of this world is like chasing the wind. Once you’re finally exhausted and weary from your pursuit, you’re left empty-handed and disappointed. You’ve wasted valuable time chasing nothing when you could have been pursuing true joy and peace.

The problem is our hearts are black holes of discontentment, devouring relationships and possessions, all while screaming, “I need more.” We’re always eating, but famished. Always drinking, but never satisfied.

The Never-Ending Thirst

Dissatisfaction in life is near the root of all kinds of sin. Why do people cheat on their spouse, abuse drugs and alcohol, mindlessly binge-watch ridiculous amounts of television, scroll endlessly on Facebook and Twitter, steal, or commit suicide? All of these things and more happen because people haven’t found happiness.

At the root of our dissatisfaction is a never-ending thirst that nothing in this world can satisfy. We’ve been duped into thinking that a better job, more money, cooler friends, another spouse, or a new life is really what we need. And if we can’t obtain any of these things, or when they leave us dissatisfied, we resort to drug abuse, sexual immorality, or senseless entertainment.

“For a long time I was looking for something, for a relationship to fill something that only Christ could,” S.O. confessed in a recent interview. “I thought if I got into this relationship I [would] be happier, you know? Or if I was with this girl everything would be all right, you know? But that wasn’t the case. A relationship couldn’t satisfy me, though. Only Christ can satisfy me.”

He realized that there is someone greater than people or possessions that can truly satisfy. God offers us himself in the person of Christ. Jesus exceeds our expectations, provides for our needs, and fulfills our desires. Christ alone can provide the satisfaction and joy we so desperately seek.

Promises of Satisfaction

The Bible is full of glorious promises of satisfaction for the discontent:

  • Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35)

  • For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things. (Psalm 107:9)

  • The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the Lord! May your hearts live forever! (Psalm 22:26)

  • In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:11)

Herman Bavink once wrote, “God, and God alone, is man’s highest good.” God is the source and sustainer of all good. He and he alone, as Bavinck notes, is “the abundant fountain of all goods.”

Nothing in this universe is able to produce true goodness, unless the Good Creator is its wellspring. This truth puts all of life in perspective for mankind. To state it plainly, if goodness is what we desire, we must go to the source of all goodness: God.

Our Good and His Glory

Seeking satisfaction in Christ alone serves two purposes: It is for our good and for the glory of God. “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.” As we drink daily from the cup of Jesus, it becomes evident to those we interact with that Jesus is enough and our hearts will “flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38).

We reap the benefits of knowing, loving, and delighting in Jesus. The Father gives us peace that surpasses understanding and provides for all our needs according to his riches. No good thing is withheld from us and all things work together for our good. Living in light of these truths proclaims to a discontent world that Jesus is better than anything the world has to offer. As we look to Jesus to make us truly happy, we also proclaim to a world in need that only Christ can truly satisfy.

“When we are most satisfied in him, he loves that,” S.O. said with a smile. “We are glorifying God when our satisfaction is Jesus alone. We never heard [this] concept before, because to us it was we have to read our Bible to glorify God [or] we have to pray to make him happy. No. When we are satisfied in him all those things will happen and he is happy with us. He is most glorified when we are [happy in him], which is crazy.”


So It Ends is available October 16th. You can pre-order a digital version on iTunes or Amazon. You can also pre-order a physical copy at the Lamp Mode Store.


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Only Christ Can Truly Satisfy

Only Christ Can Truly Satisfy

We are honored to partner with our friends at Lamp Mode Recordings to launch the new video for “Satisfy” from the London-based rapper, S.O., off his new album So It Ends.

Every person in the world wants to know what will make him or her happy. We’re all desperately seeking for the person, place, or thing that will meet our expectations, needs, and wants. What will truly satisfy the desires of our heart?

As children, we thought it might be that bag of potato chips we begged our parents for at the store or that new bike, video game, or doll we wanted for Christmas. We thought they would make us happy. But they didn’t. As teenagers, we sought satisfaction in good grades, athletic accomplishments, a car, or in a significant other. But all of it left us discontent. As adults, we think that a bigger house, more (or less) children, or a better job will quench our thirst. But we’re still left wanting more.

These lyrics from S.O.’s new single resonate with all of us:

How it feel like, chasing the wind hommie? Don’t we do it all the time? We never chase God but think that the women or the money will forever satisfy. That ain’t what we were designed for & I can tell you that with my eyes closed or blindfolded. It’s mind-blowing, our souls need God cuzzy that there I know, [brotha] yes I know

We were designed for more than the trivial pursuit of pleasure. The hard truth is that we will never find relief if we continue to seek it through possessions or through people. Seeking satisfaction in the things of this world is like chasing the wind. Once you’re finally exhausted and weary from your pursuit, you’re left empty-handed and disappointed. You’ve wasted valuable time chasing nothing when you could have been pursuing true joy and peace.

The problem is our hearts are black holes of discontentment, devouring relationships and possessions, all while screaming, “I need more.” We’re always eating, but famished. Always drinking, but never satisfied.

The Never-Ending Thirst

Dissatisfaction in life is near the root of all kinds of sin. Why do people cheat on their spouse, abuse drugs and alcohol, mindlessly binge-watch ridiculous amounts of television, scroll endlessly on Facebook and Twitter, steal, or commit suicide? All of these things and more happen because people haven’t found happiness.

At the root of our dissatisfaction is a never-ending thirst that nothing in this world can satisfy. We’ve been duped into thinking that a better job, more money, cooler friends, another spouse, or a new life is really what we need. And if we can’t obtain any of these things, or when they leave us dissatisfied, we resort to drug abuse, sexual immorality, or senseless entertainment.

“For a long time I was looking for something, for a relationship to fill something that only Christ could,” S.O. confessed in a recent interview. “I thought if I got into this relationship I [would] be happier, you know? Or if I was with this girl everything would be all right, you know? But that wasn’t the case. A relationship couldn’t satisfy me, though. Only Christ can satisfy me.”

He realized that there is someone greater than people or possessions that can truly satisfy. God offers us himself in the person of Christ. Jesus exceeds our expectations, provides for our needs, and fulfills our desires. Christ alone can provide the satisfaction and joy we so desperately seek.

Promises of Satisfaction

The Bible is full of glorious promises of satisfaction for the discontent:

  • Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35)

  • For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things. (Psalm 107:9)

  • The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the Lord! May your hearts live forever! (Psalm 22:26)

  • In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:11)

Herman Bavink once wrote, “God, and God alone, is man’s highest good.” God is the source and sustainer of all good. He and he alone, as Bavinck notes, is “the abundant fountain of all goods.”

Nothing in this universe is able to produce true goodness, unless the Good Creator is its wellspring. This truth puts all of life in perspective for mankind. To state it plainly, if goodness is what we desire, we must go to the source of all goodness: God.

Our Good and His Glory

Seeking satisfaction in Christ alone serves two purposes: It is for our good and for the glory of God. “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.” As we drink daily from the cup of Jesus, it becomes evident to those we interact with that Jesus is enough and our hearts will “flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38).

We reap the benefits of knowing, loving, and delighting in Jesus. The Father gives us peace that surpasses understanding and provides for all our needs according to his riches. No good thing is withheld from us and all things work together for our good. Living in light of these truths proclaims to a discontent world that Jesus is better than anything the world has to offer. As we look to Jesus to make us truly happy, we also proclaim to a world in need that only Christ can truly satisfy.

“When we are most satisfied in him, he loves that,” S.O. said with a smile. “We are glorifying God when our satisfaction is Jesus alone. We never heard [this] concept before, because to us it was we have to read our Bible to glorify God [or] we have to pray to make him happy. No. When we are satisfied in him all those things will happen and he is happy with us. He is most glorified when we are [happy in him], which is crazy.”


So It Ends is available October 16th. You can pre-order a digital version on iTunes or Amazon. You can also pre-order a physical copy at the Lamp Mode Store.


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European stocks push on before central bank updates

Frankfurt's DAX 30 climbs 0.19 percent to 9,989.48 points in morning tradeEurope's leading stock markets mostly forced their way higher Thursday after a negative start, as investors awaited direction on the outlook for global interest rates. The day ahead sees both the US Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank releasing minutes from their last monetary policy meetings. The Bank of England meanwhile announces its latest policy decision with markets widely expecting it to keep its main interest rate at 0.50 percent, where it has stood for six-and-a-half years to support growth.


Give Your Weakness to God

Give Your Weakness to God

“How are you doing?”

It’s a pet peeve of mine — that I’m also guilty of — when those words are used as a greeting rather than as a question. It’s easy to say, “How are you doing?” without actually wanting a substantive answer. Sometimes people will ask me that without even breaking stride as they pass me by. The only appropriate, or even physically possible, answer becomes “Oh, fine” or “Good!” — even if things may not be so. This type of shallow greeting embodies a lot of our everyday interactions. We often hum along the surface in relationships but rarely plunge beneath to the real state of our hearts.

Community: A Place for Reality

Christian community should be one of the places where people can actually be vulnerable. Gathering with fellow Christians should be one of the few times where we don’t hide the realities of life. To be vulnerable may mean to be honest about sin, or brokenness, or weakness, or just the general mess of life. Vulnerability encompasses guilt from the past, low-level anxiety, loneliness, sadness, or a general lack of joy or satisfaction. Some may be doubting God, feeling overwhelmed or inadequate as a Christian, husband, wife, parent, or employee.

There’s a danger when Christians are expected to be open and honest, but are not. If someone opens up about an issue, and others respond with flippant attitudes, Christian clichés, total silence, shock and disgust, or perhaps even indifference, this discourages and even prevents openness. It communicates to the one who shared, as well as to the others in the group, that what was shared is unimportant. Others will remember this experience and never share anything vulnerable about themselves. When Christians fail to respond well to tender moments it stunts friendships and ministry, and it leads to nice, but superficial relationships.

What Is Redemptive Vulnerability?

So what is redemptive vulnerability? To be vulnerable is to be susceptible to being wounded or hurt. In the context of community, vulnerability is opening up about one’s humanity. It’s to admit that we are not perfect people. We have not arrived. We are broken, unfinished people who live in a world that itself is broken because of the fall. We experience depression, burn out, cancer, sadness, death, grief, disability, disease, relational strife, loneliness, lust, anxiety, and the list goes on.

But our story doesn’t need to end with brokenness. Redemptive vulnerability — a vulnerability that leads to life — is where we share our brokenness in order to display the surpassing power and sufficiency of Christ and the gospel, which transforms us increasingly into the likeness of Christ. Vulnerability is not an end in itself. Rather, our vulnerability should point us, individually and together with other believers, to the sufficiency of Jesus. It looks at and hopes in the redemption we have in Christ Jesus and the work of the cross.

God Uses Weak People for His Best Work

Paul calls the Corinthians to remember that they were not the cultural elite, the politically powerful, or the materially rich, but rather the foolish, weak, low, and despised (1 Corinthians 1:26–31). The principle at work here is that God intentionally uses weak things to accomplish his glorious purposes. The reason God does it this way is so that “no human being might boast in the presence of God” (1 Corinthians 1:29). God alone is to get the glory.

God doesn’t need the powerful, influential, or the cultural movers and shakers to accomplish his work. God actually goes out of his way to give disproportionate impact to the weak, humble, and foolish so that Christ receives all the glory. God intentionally uses weak people to do his best work. When we recognize that we are weak people, we can stop trying to keep up a façade and instead look to the sufficiency and goodness of our God that brings redemption, healing, and comfort to our struggles.

Bringing Redemption to Our Vulnerability

Recently, a friend shared that their small group — in one year — had walked through the death of a parent, a felony crime, drug-related charges, psychological issues, same-sex attraction, marital discord, job transition, and disability. Yet they weren’t stalled on any one of those issues. They prayed, studied God’s word, supported each other, and reminded one another of who God is and what he has done. They didn’t become a self-help group. They didn’t just listen and lament. They listened, and then they looked to God together. They let the truths and promises of Scripture fill their hearts and minds as they walked through those challenging situations and circumstances.

To bring redemption to our vulnerability means we open up not to wallow in our situation, but to lift our eyes together to God in hope. We can look together at his promises. We cry out together for comfort, wisdom, help, and faith. We listen to one another, and to labor together in prayer because sometimes we’re too feeble to pray alone. Weakness and vulnerability remind us that we are dependent and God is sufficient. God loves to meet us in our moments of need and to give us more of his grace as we seek it moment by moment, especially with others.

No Quick Fixes

How this plays out in our individual communities and relationships will require wisdom. It’s not simple or clear-cut. We walk with each other through hard things that may not have tidy conclusions or ever end this side of heaven. We don’t apply the gospel like someone putting a Band-Aid on cancer. Instead, we let the truth of the gospel and the power of the indwelling Spirit fill our bodies like chemotherapy drugs that enter into our spiritual bloodstream. There are rarely quick fixes or simple solutions for life’s problems, but we can look to a powerful, merciful, loving, and sufficient Father who has loved us thoroughly through his Son at Calvary.

Redemptive vulnerability does not put a spotlight on vulnerability, brokenness, or sin. Redemptive vulnerability highlights and magnifies how good, sufficient, kind, persistent, and gracious God is. It’s his grace that makes us aware of our need for him. It’s his grace that causes us to cry out in dependence, to turn away from sin, and to remind us of his love.

We can embrace our varied weaknesses in order that God’s power might be displayed. It’s the reminder we all need daily. God is sufficient. God is good. God loves you. And Jesus Christ will never leave you nor forsake you. No matter how weak or vulnerable we may be, we can look to Christ, whose grace is sufficient for us and made perfect in our weaknesses (2 Corinthians 12:9).


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U.S. disappointed by EU court ruling striking down data share deal

The United States is “deeply disappointed” by a ruling from the highest EU court on Tuesday that struck down a transatlantic data share deal used by thousands of companies, the U.S. Secretary of Commerce said in a statement. “We are deeply disappointed in today’s decision from the European Court of Justice, which creates significant uncertainty for both U.S. and EU companies and consumers, and puts at risk the thriving transatlantic digital economy,” Penny Pritzker said in a statement on Tuesday. “We are prepared to work with the European Commission to address uncertainty created by the court decision,” Pritzker added.

Practical Advice for College Students

Practical Advice for College Students

With the semester well underway, many students have failed to live up to the expectations they’ve set for themselves and need help getting back on track. Some are discouraged and intend to wait until next semester to try again. If you’re a college student, be encouraged. It’s not too late to get your life under control. In three minutes, Ben Stuart offers brief and practical advice for college students that will enable them to glorify God and make the most of the semester.


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Australia holds interest rates at record low

The Reserve Bank of Australia decided to keep interest rates at a record low of 2.0%, opting against a further cut that would put more downward pressure on the country's dollarAustralia's central bank on Tuesday kept interest rates at a record low of 2.0 percent, opting against a further cut that would put more downward pressure on the country's dollar. The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) last moved its official cash rate in May when it slashed 25 basis points to a historic low as it tries to spur economic growth. "At its meeting today, the board decided to leave the cash rate unchanged at 2.0 percent," central bank governor Glenn Stevens said in a statement almost identical to the one issued in September.


12 Pacific countries seal huge free trade deal

The Trans-Pacific Partnership creates the world's largest free-trade area, encompassing 40 percent of the global economyTwelve Pacific rim countries sealed a deal creating the world's largest free trade area, delivering President Barack Obama a major policy triumph. Working around the clock for days past their deadline, haggard trade ministers announced they reached agreement on the ambitious Trans-Pacific Partnership just before dawn, capping five years of difficult talks led by the United States. Spanning about two-fifths of the global economy, the hard-won deal aims to set the rules for 21st century trade and investment and press China, not among the 12, to shape its behavior in commerce, investment and business regulation to TPP standards.